Friday, March 11, 2005

Insightful article about Wikipedia

Insightful article about Wikipedia on Wired magazine

Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia on the internet. It is free to use, and anyone can contribute to it - thus it is self-organizing, self-repairing encyclopedia.
Contributing on Wikipedia is so simple that even a 16 year old can contribute.

This article explains, in brief, the encyclopedia building models, how the Wikipedia system works, and what critics say about the functioning of Wikipedia.

Interesting facts from the article:
  • 5 yr old, nonprofit venture, Wikipedia is the largest encyclopedia on the planet. It offers 500,000 articles in English - compared with Britannica's 80,000 and Encarta's 4,500.

  • In olden days encyclopedias relied on 'One Smart Guy' model e.g. Aristotle tried to record all the knowledge of his time. With Industrial Revolution, it was followed by 'One Best Way' model e.g. group of experts each performing a task working under direction of a manager. Now Wikipedia has provided 'One for All' model - every one can contribute to the knowledge repository - instead of clear lines of authority, it depends on decentralization and self-organization.

  • It is very easy to make changes to Wikipedia, and hence obviously to deface it as well. Still the system works - cases of mass deletions, a common form of vandalism, are corrected in a median time of 2.8 minutes. When an obscenity accompanies mass deletion, the median reduces to 1.7 minutes

Must read for every Internet user.

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