Monday, May 25, 2009

History of Wikipedia

A thoughtful review of the Wikipedia revolution, both its wonderfulness and its inadequacies, in the London Review of Books. As it observes, the worst things in Wikipedia are often not the falsified or vandalized articles, which are soon repaired, but the overcooked ones, the ones to which so many contributors have added various details that the whole article loses all coherence.

It's also thoughtful on why Wikipedia thrives on open contribution, but the comments sections of most online newspaper and magazines are so tedious and offputting.
The Wikipedia principle that all mistakes can be corrected (so that it is hardly worth trying to introduce them) has much less force in the case of newspapers, because by the time any corrections have been made most readers will have moved on.
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