Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist
22 January 2005

Ethan Zuckerman has written thoughtfully about Wikipedia in response to a recent “article”:http://www.techcentralstation.com/111504A.html (by a former editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica) suggesting it is impressive but its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Zuckerman points out that Wikipedia is great if you are looking for in-depth coverage of (say) how “GSM”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GSM works but, ‘when I use Wikipedia to obtain information that I could find in a conventional encyclopedia, I often have a terrible experience, encountering articles that are unsatisfying at best and useless at worst.’

Danah Boyd notes usefully that one of the benefits of signed, scholarly resources over community ones like Wikipedia is that “scholars have something to lose”:http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2005/01/08/on_a_vetted_wikipedia_reflexivity_and_investment_in_quality_aka_more_responses_to_clay.html when they get things wrong.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the debate about the quality of Wikipedia has spread fairly widely across the Internet punditsphere. It now even has its own “wiki page”:http://www.emacswiki.org/cw/WikipediaQualityControlDebate which attempts to summarise the debate (and if you use a blog search tool like “Bloglines”:http://www.bloglines.com/citations?url=http://www.techcentralstation.com/111504A.html you’ll find 83 more sites with something to say on the subject).

P.S. Sorry if this is coming to the debate rather late – I am not doing as much blogging as I used to to free up time for writing my PhD about it instead – and where I am blogging I tend to do it on the “Media@LSE Group Weblog at get.to/lseblog”:http://groupblog.workasone.net/index.php I set up. In the last few weeks I have blogged about “Korea leading the world in numbers of bloggers”:http://groupblog.workasone.net/index.php?p=39, a “database of predictions about the Internet”:http://groupblog.workasone.net/index.php?p=28 “Santa Studies”:http://groupblog.workasone.net/index.php?p=23, “Online transcription services”:http://groupblog.workasone.net/index.php?p=22, “The Economics of Search”:http://groupblog.workasone.net/index.php?p=15 and the “global broadband digital divide”:http://groupblog.workasone.net/index.php?p=20 (and my colleagues in the LSE’s PhD programme have also had several interesting things to post). Pleas come and take a look (at least if you want to hear about the academic side of my life).


  1. You, and your readers, may be interested in the following paper:

    Emigh, W., and Herring, S. C. (2005). Collaborative authoring on the Web: A genre analysis of online encyclopedias. Proceedings of the Thirty-Eighth Hawai’i International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-38). Los Alamitos: IEEE Press. Available at: http://ella.slis.indiana.edu/~herring/wiki.pdf

    Comment by Lois — 22 January 2005 @ 5:34 pm

  2. Cant commment on Envyvlopedias but suggest you read at your ealiest convenience “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” by Thomas Freidman. Great insights, easy to read and very instructional

    Comment by Russell Brake — 23 January 2005 @ 4:06 am

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