Friday, April 29, 2011

OMG #Wikipedia is dying

It has been a while but the story of the imminent demise of Wikipedia surfaced again. I always listen with interest to hear what it is this time that will do Wikipedia in. The arguments differ and the time span for the "certain" end is not always the same and if it is not interesting, it is always fun to have a difference of opinions on this subject.

This time there were two reasons why a good thing will come to an end:
  • the parser and the editing interface are crummy
  • there are no new people writing new articles
A relevant point to consider is that Wikipedia for this gentleman is the English language Wikipedia. For me the 270+ other Wikipedias are at least as relevant. Together they grow at double the pace of the English Wikipedia for computers.

The news that Brion is back and will be concentrating on the parser and the editing interface was received as a strong enough promise for an eventual solution. The second point raised more of a discussion; the fact that it is considered the most critical issue facing the Wikimedia Foundation helped. However, then the argument became interesting. These are the things we ended agreeing about
  • Wikipedia became less of a Wiki and more of a Nupedia in its quest for quality
  • a lack of trust and time is why newbies are treated badly
We disagreed about the use of social media. In my view it is best when friends help our newbies find their feet. Real friends are likely to help and, real people are likely to have friends in Wikipedia who are willing to help. Where we disagreed was in how to get such information.

In my view we can ask a newbie if he wants to share his friends on a Hyves or a Facebook. When the newbie does, we are able to find the friends who are Wikimedians. The argument against it is that a Facebook gets information that allows it to build a trust network of Wikipedians. This may have a potential for abuse. What astounded me is that given the choice, it was preferred for Wikipedia to die then to give such a potential to Facebook.

I am glad that I do not have such a grim outlook.
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