Friday, January 20, 2006

etymonline.com

Giving good content a home is expensive. When you have good quality content, the people will come. Two truisms that are obvious. Dvortygirl mentioned the etymonline website today. In this website you see both truisms in action. It is a great resource, people love it and there is a problem hosting the great content because of the cost associated with a great user experience.

As it says on the information on the mainpage, they only have some 20.000 visitors, the size of the database is "only" 51,08 MB. My reaction to these problems are predictable; I would like to host this information in WiktionaryZ when we are ready for etymological content. There are however a few issues. These issues have to do with the perception of Wikipedia.. Let me quote:
  • "Approach Wikipedia about a partnership, or actually merge the site into Wikipedia. This is a painful option. In a sense, this site is the anti-Wikipedia. It is deliberately not open source. You'd understand why if you saw the regular stream of e-mails I get from people insisting that their own crackpot folk-etymology idea is absolutely correct. Such things can be based on some fervent politico-racial agenda, simple insanity, or "my French teacher in 10th grade told me."

    A major reason this site exists is to serve as a template against which to measure people's best guesses and wacko theories. The whole Internet is a big Wikipedia; this site is a compilation of the most rigorous academic information."

I would have several answers but the most relevant thing is Wikipedia=Crackpots. Yes, our project is not Wikipedia. Yes, we want well researched information. No, it is not Open Source it is Open Content. All this does not address the issue of the quality of content.

In WiktionaryZ we have a need to address quality. In the current Wiktionary we have our crackpots. There is this loon who insists of there being a word called "exicornt". He even threatened admins in order to have this word exist in the Wiktionary.. :( We have to deal with these persons.

We could do something for etymonline. We can approach them. We can offer to host its content by importing their content (obviously with proper attribution), but we sure have to address the issues. Quality is important and we have to protect quality content for our own sake. When we do, and when are successful opportunities like this will be less problematic.

Thanks,
GerardM
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