On 1/24/07, Thomas Dalton <thomas.dalton(a)gmail.com> wrote:
Absolutely - that *was* the whole idea. Unfortunately, that idea
didn't lead to an encyclopedia people trusted, so now, in order to be
credible, we have to reference everything. It's unfortunate, but
unavoidable, I think.
Actually, I think most of the criticism leveled at Wikipedia isn't because
it's not trustworthy. The criticism is because it *pretends* to be.
Do you read the site as if it were a completely authoritative, flawless
source of information? Of course you don't. We Wikipedians are always on
the lookout for vandalism, bias, and falsehood. But to the outside world,
the project is presented as an "encyclopedia", which most think of as an
authoritative source of reliable information. Then they look up something
that's dear to them and find an error, and get all bent out of shape and
Instead of changing all the rules every week and restricting what people can
do and restricting what people can say and restricting what you can enter
without references and adding policies and guidelines and Reliable Sources
and stable version and on and on to try to make the project
99.9999999%reliable, why don't we just make it very clear to newcomers
how the site
works? That most of the content is reliable and trustworthy, but keep your
eyes peeled for errors? In fact, if you find one, you can fix it yourself!
But most newcomers don't even realize how the site works until
they've found an error and then tried to figure out who's responsible for
this horrible mess of a website oh my god it's an outrage.
That's why I was trying to get the tagline changed to say "the free
encyclopedia that anyone can edit", or "the community-written free
encyclopedia" or some such. We even got Jimbo's attention for a few minutes
("something which is neither too long nor too boring nor too timid, but
which helps the reader understand that Wikipedia is a work in progress").