On 5/17/06, Stan Shebs <shebs(a)apple.com> wrote:
Right now I don't see that we have a
"culture of referencing" in
the same way that we have a "culture of completeness" organized
around lists of missing articles, or a "culture of image tagging"
that has become fairly effective at searching out and destroying
bad uploads. For instance, my own library is in some areas better
than what most universities have, yet I have no idea if there are
articles that need me to go pull a book off the shelf, check the
claims, and type in the reference if OK. I could also imagine a
future culture where an unsupported claim is handled like an
untagged image, and gets a seven-day grace period before being
reverted. As with images, good faith is helped along by having
a bit of incentive and punishment.
Right. And why is that? Because referencing is hard. Finding good sources is
generally difficult, and takes time and effort. And it doesn't have that
same neat, orderly feel about it that attracts people to tasks like filling
in red links, stub sorting or categorising. It takes all sorts to make
Wikipedia work, but frankly, we need a lot more of the people that like
finding sources on random subjects and researching them, to make Wikipedia
meet its goals.
I actually don't think finding good sources or referencing is
particularly hard, it just isn't very well suited to the current wiki
software. When writing an academic paper finding sources and writing
the actual text is two separate steps. Wikis jumble the two very
different steps into one.
How to address that at this point, without upsetting everything (and
everyone), is a very difficult question to answer.