Is Wikipedia Failing?

This Wikipedia essay, Wikipedia is Failing, got picked up on Slashdot yesterday where it generated a lot of discussion.

Granted, “Chicken Little” Wikipedians are always discussing how World’s 15th largest website is a complete failure. But there seems to be a growing trend of disguntled Wikipedians fleeing the site in frustration, as I noted here (Is Wikipedia Becoming a Totalitarian State?).

The essay in question was written this Saturday by longtime Wikipedian Worldtraveller. Worldtraveller joins a growing number of beleaguered Wikipedia veterens who have fought one too many edit battles.

Worldtraveller’s essay raises many salient points. The current policy of dealing with edit wars and abusive users seems to be taking its toll on good contributors. The policy must adapt. Furthermore, Worldtraveller believes Wikipedia has been better at producing quantity than quality. Referring to the fact that only 3,000 articles have achieved “featured” status, Worldtraveller summarizes:

If Wikipedia just aimed to be a social site where people with similar interests could come together and write articles about anything they liked, it would certainly be succeeding. However, its stated aim is to be an encyclopaedia, and not just that but an encyclopaedia of the highest quality. Six years of work has resulted in 3,000 articles of good or excellent quality, at which rate it will take many decades to produce the quantity of good or excellent articles found in traditional reference works. Almost 1.6 million articles are mediocre to poor to appalling in quality.

I am not nearly as pessimistic as Worldtraveller, but I am disturbed by recent trends in Wikipedia. Personally I do advocate much stricter penalties for abusive edits. Wikipedia is one of the greatest achievements of the internet. And I believe it will continue to evolve and grow. But it does seem the time is ripe for a review of Wikipedia’s policies.

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4 Responses to Is Wikipedia Failing?

  1. khartand says:

    i think Wikipedia works like the stock market. Wikipedia articles that attract more attention like Wal mart, or Goirge Bush (think large cap or S&P 500 stocks) are in general better than articles which has less audience (think of small/mico Caps). If someone abuse a popular article, someone will flag it quickly, but no one cares about the accuracy of the more obscure topics, like not many people cares about pink sheets.

    But the good thing about Wikipedia is that people writes about topics that bigger encyclopedia like Britannica would ignore, such as Takatoku toys. In my opinion some information is better than no information at all.

  2. Jon says:

    I agree. Some Wikipedians may be getting a bit hysterical about quality. Just because an article isn’t perfect doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. “Featured Article” status is extremely rigorous.

  3. Wikister says:

    The figure of only 3,000 featurable articles is disappointing though. I wonder how fast it is ramping up. Wikipedians are always looking for the number of articles and that was exponential, but now is less so… People also looked at the number of edits to gauge the quality and that also looked promising. But there is something about bringing articles to that ‘good’ level that seems frustating to a lot of people. Hence, the Citizenpedia ‘solution’ to build a walled garden for the ‘experts’ so their work will remain ‘sort of’ intact…

  4. I’ll talk about this with you,I think you’ve sth wrong.

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