Just a little(?) rant about Wikipedia.
(started writing this awhile ago and has been sitting in my Drafts section for awhile, but the discussion over here prompted me to actually finish it)

Generally I really like Wikipedia. I think it’s a great resource and a brilliant idea. It just happens to be a great resource and a brilliant idea that seems doomed to fail for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that while it is supposed to be open to editing by everyone, it is in fact controlled by very small close-knit groups of people and their (often narrow) opinions.

Wikipedia is run by a very cliquey group of editors in each of the various “areas” it covers. These editor cliques rule over their chosen sections and have their friends and enemies. They all put out calls to friends to help each other on votes and debates, they purposely and maliciously undermine their enemies for the sole purpose of undermining their enemies and not for the betterment of Wikipedia itself. Ofen times whether something should be added/deleted/written a certain way is no longer a matter of whether or not any such changes would improve the article in question and Wikipedia in general, but more about some editor or another having stated something one way early on and simply refusing to back down from that original opinion, or refusing to admit they were or even might have been wrong, with the occasional person making the ever so dramatic magnanimous (in their eyes anyway) gesture of conceding a point. It’s not about collaboration, it’s about how much towards my viewpoint and my way of thinking can I bend this site and those around me, and how much of my will can I impose. If you want to save something you or someone else contributed that you think is worthwhile, you either have to kiss asses, or just hope that things don’t get noticed by these little cliques in the first place.

It’s like an online version of high school.

I really do like the idea behind Wikipedia, but some of the rules and their application are just plain stupid. They don’t want to be an online directory, that’s fine, but what harm does it really do to have more information? If the information isn’t biased, or plainly just an advertisement, who cares if it’s trivial, it’s information and knowledge that someone, somewhere may find useful.

What is trivial (or notable, to turn things around and use the notorious [ho ho a pun] Wikipedia terminology) and what isn’t is really incredibly subjective anyway. Translation memory software probably doesn’t interest more than 1% of the people online, but for me it is intrinsically tied to my livelihood, and thus trivial to you maybe, but very, very important to me.

Unfortunately though, more and more when I go to Wikipedia looking for something, I can’t find the content I am looking for. A lot of the time (I’d say roughly 80%) I can find the content by looking through parts of articles that have deleted or removed for one anal retentive reason or another.

What good is it if everything is “notable” and “encyclopedic” if none of it is what people are looking for? Sure I can find information on things not in Wikipedia elsewhere, but honestly if I have to go look elsewhere for all the information I want, what the fuck do I need Wikipedia for in the first place?

Part of the problem with the current system (as I see it) is that there are more articles and information than people can look after. I think this is part of the reason so much information ends up deleted. Things just get too big to be looked after properly.

Once articles reach a certain level of completion/quality (again, fairly subjective terms) I think they should be locked. Especially articles about things where there is likely to be no change of existing or addition of new information on a regular basis. An article on Lincoln, probably not gonna need updating everyday, not like he’s doing anything new eh.

Once the articles are locked, people can then make suggestions for additions or corrections/changes, but overall I think it would be better if they couldn’t be edited by just anybody at anytime. At the least allowing only registered users with say more than 5 or so good edits (that could be something as simple as correcting spelling) to edit “established” (wheee more ambiguous subjectivity) articles seems like a good way to cut down on vandalism and the amount of care that needs to be exercised to keep articles relevant and factual.

I guess one of my basic gripes is, why does Wikipedia have to be run like a print Encyclopedia anyway? It’s not, and it could be a lot more, and has the potential and capacity to store vast amounts more information, so why not work towards turning it into something MORE useful than a print encyclopedia, rather than just a poorly written, often vandalized, less informational version of print encyclopedias?

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