Friday, April 06, 2007

Life outside Google? Does Wikipedia know all?

According to Stacy Schiff's July 2006 New Yorker essay "Know it All" (with editor's note), Wikipedia does not want any original research: " Among other things, the prohibition against original research heads off a great deal of material about people’s pets." Of course Wikipedia lets - encourages - requires? - its contributors to use screen names, which resulted in the interesting disclosure in the editor's note at the end that one frequent contributor turned out not to have the credentials he claimed.

The new kid on the block - Citizendium - founded by Larry Sanger, a former Wikipedia associate, not only allows real names, but requires them. In a recent blog post by Brock Read,
According to Larry Sanger, the site’s founder, it’s about civility and perception.“Anonymity tends to make people into jerks if they have any tendencies in that direction,” he told CNET News in an interview. Mr. Sanger has long criticized Wikipedia, which he helped found, for being too accommodating to trolls and vandals, but he says there are other benefits to removing the veil of anonymity.

The question of reality and originality comes up here as well. Schiff notes that Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's co-founder
"cites the Google test: “If it isn’t on Google, it doesn’t exist.” There's a thought to ponder.



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