“The Battle For Wikipedia’s Soul” – An Identity Crisis?

The Economist has an interesting article (via Jordan at NP) on the future of Wikipedia:

But Wikipedia is facing an identity crisis as it is torn between two alternative futures. It can either strive to encompass every aspect of human knowledge, no matter how trivial; or it can adopt a more stringent editorial policy and ban articles on trivial subjects, in the hope that this will enhance its reputation as a trustworthy and credible reference source. These two conflicting visions are at the heart of a bitter struggle inside Wikipedia between “inclusionists”, who believe that applying strict editorial criteria will dampen contributors’ enthusiasm for the project, and “deletionists” who argue that Wikipedia should be more cautious and selective about its entries.

Consider the fictional characters of Pokémon, the Japanese game franchise with a huge global following, for example. Almost 500 of them have biographies on the English-language version of Wikipedia (the largest edition, with over 2m entries), with a level of detail that many real characters would envy. But search for biographies of the leaders of the Solidarity movement in Poland, and you would find no more than a dozen—and they are rather poorly edited.

I encourage you to read through the original article. What caught my interest was the line, “Deletionists believe that Wikipedia will be more successful if it maintains a certain relevance and quality threshold for its entries.” I think you obviously run a slippery slope here – what is relevant or of a high enough quality to be included? If Wikipedia was founded on democratic ideals, surely these idels will be lost if such ephemeral notions as relevance and quality (in a seemingly boundless reservoir for storing information) determine what ends up on the site.

On a side note, you know a community takes itself too seriously when “inclusionist” and “deletionist” become serious terms to describe community members.

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Dave Semeniuk spends hours locked up in his office, thinking about the role the oceans play in controlling global climate, and unique ways of studying it. He'd also like to shamelessly plug his art practice: davidsemeniuk.com

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