6 thoughts on “Three Billion

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  4. Very interesting post. I think your idea of the Wikipedia now being “censored” while previously it was not is a bit misplaced. Wikipedia has always at least nominally had standards for its content, and it is increasingly enforcing those standards. (And the standards are evolving as well.) It’s not the case that everything anyone would want to write about is already covered. It’s that the top interests of most of the people with internet connections and the free time to contribute are already covered. As they try to branch out to more esoteric interests, they butt up against the standards, particularly verifiability.

    You say that the network with “route around” the restrictions of Wikipedia. This is true in the sense that information that is deemed inappropriate for Wikipedia can and does appear elsewhere on the internet. But if you mean to imply that the community will fork and another, more open wiki will supplant Wikipedia as the premier online encyclopedia, I’m doubtful.

    Wikipedia, through its content policies, walks the line between openness and reliability, and competitors have sprung up on both sides of the line. However, in my view at least, Wikipedia seems to be pretty close to right balance. If you browse through blog and print media comments about Wikipedia, you’ll see about as much complaint about the bad content that gets let in as you do about the good content that is kept out.

    One possible adjustment I would like to see is to treat different types of content differently, based on the level of reliable sources that are available. So, for example, obscure pop culture articles would be treated more leniently in terms of sourcing than historical (or even pop cultural) topics that have been the subject of scholarly analysis.

    Overall, keep in mind that Wikipedia is still growing, and quite rapidly (1800 articles per day). This rate has been more or less steady for the last six or eight months. It’s down from the all-time high, but it’s not clear that it’s still declining.

  5. You can disagree with me about whether my conclusions are misplaced – but I will simply point to the charts, to the mounting pile of anecdotal reports, to the formation of an elite within Wikipedia – all of these point to the truth of my point.

    And yes, I believe that Wikipedia will continue to fork, and will continue to fork products which are more useful (salient) to particular audiences. The concept of a “general purpose” anything in the 21st century is a bit antiquated.

    You can call them “content policies”. I will continue to call them foolish attempts to empty the sea.

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