[Foundation-l] "The problem with Wikipedia..."

Jussi-Ville Heiskanen cimonavaro at gmail.com
Fri Jun 18 07:44:18 UTC 2010

Ryan Lomonaco wrote:
> Forwarded per request.
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Joseph Reagle <joseph.2008 at reagle.org>
> Date: Thu, Jun 17, 2010 at 6:45 PM
> Subject: Fwd: Re: [Foundation-l] "The problem with Wikipedia..."
> To: foundation-l-owner at lists.wikimedia.org
> On Thursday, June 17, 2010, phoebe ayers wrote:
>> Actually, the other way around, as others have stated.
>> Now that you mention it, I've seen that quote attributed to Gareth
>> Owen before, so that may actually be the origin of it. I think it's
>> quite a bit older than 2006 though.
> A wonderful question and one I've been interested in since I think such
> aphorisms have an interesting normative power (e.g., some others include
> [a]). Of course scholars, at least, like it so much because it shows that
> the theory is incomplete and hence is grist for their mills, i.e., new
> theory! :-)
> I can't provide a provenance any more specific than already noted (i.e.,
> appearing on Gareth Owen's user page) and I always found it ironically apt
> that such a prominent statement about Wikipedia is attributed to an
> anonymous. (If anyone knows Owen, please ask!) However, here's a bit of a
> time-line, I think it certainly spread as a meme in wider circles thanks to
> Cohen at the NYT.
> 20060120: Gareth Owen's user page [1].
> 20060321: Raul654's adds it to his laws [2].
> 20070423: Noam Cohen reference in NYT [3].
> 20070501: Quoted in Wikizine [4].
> 20070613: Sage Ross refers to it as old hat a few months later in response
> to popular Britannica blog entry [5].
> 20080106: Cohen references it again [6].

I would suggest that if anyone has a good set of logs of the
various IRC channels, grepping the pre 20th of January
2006 logs might suggest an earlier usage. Or it might not.


Jussi-Ville Heiskanen

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