Sunday, October 7, 2007

Criticism of Criticism of Wikipedia

A cute bit of software called WikiDashboard reveals that I'm the most frequent editor of the Criticism of Wikipedia article. I first heard about this compendium of fair and unfair swipes at WP from the god-king himself, Jimbo Wales. He called the it "a fine article" in a debate with some Encyclopedia Britannica functionary. I checked the entry and started correcting some footnotes. I've been hooked ever since.

Others don't think so highly of the article. It has survived five attempts at deletion by non-fans. As you might expect, the article is regularly vandalized by "editors" announcing that Wikipedia sucks, blows, or sucks and blows. Every assertion in the article also receives a lot of legitimate scrutiny, since some people just don't like Wikipedia getting criticized on its own dime. Which is okay. Those legit questions keep me on my toes to find good sources for every bit of prose.

I'm not sure what it says about me that I spend so much time on this article. Maybe I'm basically skeptical of WP myself, and working on the entry assuages my conscience. Trouble is, I disagree with lots of the anti-WP whines quoted in the article. A Britannica ex-staffer's comparison of Wikipedia to a filthy john is typical of the weird and unjust criticisms splattered heavily throughout the entry.

Maybe I like the challenge of remaining unbiased on such a controversial subject. If I can edit this article extensively without getting blocked, banned and executed, maybe I'm doing something right. Or maybe I'm heading for a bloody crash and don't know it.

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