The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #86832   Message #1617685
Posted By: Peter K (Fionn)
30-Nov-05 - 09:10 PM
Thread Name: Wow! Read This About Wikipedia
Subject: RE: Wow! Read This About Wikipedia
Don makes a valid point. Many entries on Wikipedia are factual, authoritative and balanced, to the extent that the whole initiative has turned into something massively more useful than I could ever have foreseen. The dilemma is how to retain the good while ditching the bad (some of which is grotesquely bad, as in the example cited by Ebbie).

Here is an example that shows Wikipedia at its best: Ustaša. This is a topic that touches nationalistic, political and religious sensitivities big-time, and it's a subject I've been researching fairly intensively from all angles for more than two years, to the extent of learning the language and spending much time in Croatia and B+H.

The article itself is a model of fair play, packed with well-sourced information. But more significant for me is what you find if you click on the "discussion" tab. You are taken to a huge and involved debate, easily navigable via a comprehensive table of contents; a debate which is sometimes heated, but invariably constructive, notwithstanding that the contributors are from communities that were recently engaged in the most hideous civil war imaginable. I find it just amazing that these guys can work together in good faith in a joint quest for the truth. They finally got there a week or two ago, when by general agreement the entry at last had its "controversial" status withdrawn.

Somehow that aspect of Wikipedia deservers to be cherished. Maybe there's merit in Wolfgang's suggestion that anonymity should be disallowed. Certainly some kind of effective gatekeeping is needed to prevent harmful and gratuitous abuse. But it hard to see how gatekeepers could be effective without stifling the open-acess quality of Wikipedia that has turned out to be one of its great strengths.