A few posts back Peter linked to several philosophy-trained editors
who had left Wikipedia, representing them as examples of the problems
he has identified.
I think it's worth reposting here what one of those editors gave as
his reasons for leaving:
1. No one is accountable, nor does anyone feel responsible, for the
accuracy of Wikipedia articles, since they are unsigned and have no
2. There is virtually no incentive to work on them.
a. Doing so is extremely time-consuming. People who write traditional
encyclopedia articles also expend a lot of time. However, they are
typically repaid in one or more of three ways: with money, with
recognition or prestige, and with the chance to gently support what
they see as the right view of the subject. However:
b. One is paid nothing to write or edit Wikipedia articles.
c. One gets no recognition or prestige, since the articles are unsigned.
d. One gets no chance to forward what one sees as the correct views,
because of the NPOV policy.
e. Finally, one can't even link to one's own relevant papers on the
subject, since there seems to be an unofficial policy to automatically
delete such links. So the deal is: spend hour upon hour doing web
editing, and you can be sure of getting nothing in return.
3. Genuine experts in a subject are usually people who have other
demands on their time--often professors, for example, who could spend
their time working with their own students or doing research in their
field that they'll get credit for. So just thinking of these factors a
priori, it seems unlikely that many experts would contribute to
4. It's true that if someone sees an error in an article they can fix
it. But it's also true that others can introduce new errors. And the
people most likely to see errors and not introduce new ones, are the
experts who seem to have no incentive to contribute. --owl23211:58, 3
January 2006 (UTC)
So what can we learn from these clearly stated objections, and how do
they apply to the general problem of articles in the humanities?