[Foundation-l] In defence of Google

Anthony wikilegal at inbox.org
Fri Jan 19 18:26:56 UTC 2007

On 1/19/07, Gerard Meijssen <gerard.meijssen at gmail.com> wrote:
> Anthony schreef:
> > On 1/18/07, Gerard Meijssen <gerard.meijssen at gmail.com> wrote:
> >> When
> >> Google were to drop the value it attaches to Wikipedia in favour of for
> >> instance Citizendium, it will become clear how important Google is for
> >> the dissemination of our Free content.
> >>
> >
> > When STDs and pregnancy can be prevented by an inexpensive, safe and
> > effective once a day pill, those people distributing free condoms will
> > be out of business.
> >
> > If Citizendium becomes the next great thing as a fork, then
> > Citizendium will be disseminating "your" Free content.  If not, then
> > there's little reason to believe Google would drop Wikipedia, just
> > move it down to number two.
> >
> When Citizendium becomes "the next great thing", we will have ourselves
> to blame for it. I believe in the way /we /do our thing. I do not
> believe that Citizendium will be successful. At the same time, I give
> them the benefit of the doubt.

Well, good.  At this point I have serious doubts about CZ myself.  But
I think I understand what you're talking about.  At some point
something else will come along which is better than Wikipedia.  But at
that point Google isn't going to save the day just by putting
Wikipedia at the top of search results.

> I do not understand your reference to
> STDs. I want to learn more about this as I have an interest in those..

My point is, when Wikipedia becomes irrelevant because something
better comes along, it should be regarded as a victory, not a loss.
The end-game here is not to run a popular website, it's to freely
spread knowledge.

> When Wikipedia and Citizendium have more or less the same data, there is
> no point in having both with the same relevance, just moving it down to
> number two does therefore not make sense.

If CZ becomes successful without being a fork of Wikipedia (and
they're apparently going to try), then it *won't* have the same data
as Wikipedia.  It's unlikely it'll even have "more or less the same

But thinking about this, I guess it's unclear to me what this has to
do with Google being important to the dissemination of Free Content.
Is the "our" part of that important?  Is this about whether or not CZ
will be Free Content?  I just learned today that they're considering
CC-by-NC.  I guess if they choose that license it'll matter.  But
Google doesn't seem to rank Free Content sites any higher than others.

> There is every reason to acknowledge when you benefit from the business
> practices of a friendly organisation. The absolute minimum that this
> realisation does is to allow you to acknowledge what it is that makes us
> a success. When we are smart it means we maintain friendly relations
> with those organisations that enable our success. Google fits that bill.
> Microsoft does not appreciate Wikipedia for what it does and as a
> consequence suffers in its appreciation. I do not touch Microsoft's
> search engine with a barge pole because of their bias. It is also
> something that enables the argument why Microsoft is "evil".

I'll have to think more about that.  Personally I think Microsoft's
search engine is crap, but I'm using their OS to write this message,
so if one is going to have to acknowledge every company which has
contributed to making Wikipedia possible, I don't think you can ignore

> If you want to improve on what Google does, please do.

If I get the time and/or the money, I will.  But in the meantime, I'm
not going to make them out to be this great company that does no

I mean, if you want to improve on what Microsoft does, please do.  Do
you see how that statement isn't really helpful?

> It does not make
> sense to decry your wish for an alternative where there is none. Google
> has been a boon to us. In my value system it is good to acknowledge
> this. I do not begrudge them being one of the most successful companies
> at this moment in time. Do better than Google and you may make a
> difference, but I am sure that Google is a moving target.
And if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I
am a co-owner of both Google and Microsoft.  But I wouldn't make
either of those two companies out to be worthy of praise.

If Google didn't exist at all, I don't think Wikipedia would be any worse off.


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