I used to lend a hand to editing a few articles on wikipedia, but it was such an exercise in futility and frustration that I had to quit.
When I first came across wikipedia, it struck me as a great idea, but after having contributions that I knew to be factual repeatedly removed or edited, I have to say that the concept as a whole is ridiculously flawed and unworkable.
If you don’t know, wikipedia is an online “encyclopedia” that anyone can edit. That’s right, any knucklehead viewing an article can click a link and add, remove or change whatever they’d like.
You’re probably already laughing, wondering how anyone could possibly take such a thing seriously, and you’re right. No one should.
There is a small army of wikipedia geeks who apparently park on the site for hours a day waiting to check changes and remove obvious defacements and vandalism. But there’s no way they can possibly know whether something is a legitimate change or not when dealing with 875,000 different topics.
If you become involved with a certain article, you’ll soon find yourself debating minutia with a bunch of humorless idiots, hell-bent on making every article read like the same clumsy, robot-drone horror show. I understand that an “encyclopedia” should have a neutral presentation. But there’s neutral, and then there’s mind-numbing.
Style issues aside, when there are errors continually introduced into a topic I know quite a bit about, it makes me doubt the validity of the articles that I might want to read to actually learn something.
How can I have faith in a pool of information that I know for a fact is polluted? Yes, I know you could say that about the internet as a whole, not just wikipedia. But the internet doesn’t tout itself as the fount of all human knowledge.
Anyway, I’m only typing this because wikipedia has been taking a lot of flak lately due to an article that linked a founding editor of USA Today to the Kennedy assassination. Someone made the reference as a joke, but it stayed in the article for months.
Now everyone has suddenly decided that this wikipedia isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and changes are being introduced to “lock” some articles, or at least make them more difficult to change.
But really, they can lock that thing down all they want and it’s still going to be a cesspool of misinformation, useless trivia, and flat out crap. But what else can you expect from something that anyone can add to? Most people can barely string together a readable sentence, much less write an authoritative article on something.
Exaggeration? Maybe. But then you didn’t have to read eight years worth of submissions to smog.net.
If you want to drain the life from anything, hand it over to a committee. And wikipedia is the world’s largest committee.