Friday, December 16, 2005

Wiki Wiki Wiki

Astute IJAB readers will note that I have already apprised them of the fabulous free online encyclopedia Wikipedia. However, lest any reader find themselves not completely up-to-date on the latest Internet drivel, I thought I'd better fill you in.

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia that is user-edited. Read the above-linked post for more info if you're confused. To make a long story short, a prankster wrote an article on Wikipedia saying that distinguished editor John Seigenthaler plotted to kill the Kennedys as a joke. Obviously, it wasn't true. And thus, the fuss.

Critics said this was a sign that the resource that Wikipedia is couldn't be trusted. The veracity of all Wikipedia's content was called into question. People called for anonymous editing to end and controls to be put in place. "How," they ask, "could an encyclopedia that lets anyone anonymously create and edit articles possibly be a repository of reliable information?"

I personally think it's a little silly. Wikipedia's a good resource for a first look at a subject. I don't think any reasonable person would suspect that it's fully 100% correct or complete. I myself have made various Wikipedia edits. It is what it is-- a good resource to begin research.

And in fact, that viewpoint has been validated. It turns out that a study conducted by the journal Nature has found that Wikipedia is just as reliable as the Encyclopedia Britannica (a decidedly not free print book).

So, go ahead you Internet warriors, Wiki away, and may the knowledge be with you.

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