[Wikipedia-l] Re: Encarta goes wiki - sort of...

Timwi timwi at gmx.net
Sun Apr 17 14:37:55 UTC 2005

Stuart Orford wrote:
> I used to contribute to the [[Internet Movie Database]]

Very good example -- I can relate to your experiences, and I fully agree.

But there is no on-going controversy about movie databases in the way 
there is about encyclopedias. It seems to be a deeply-entrenched belief 
in people that controlled expert review is the only way information can 
be accurate (this applies to IMDb as well as encyclopedias), but they 
additionally perceive the accuracy of an encyclopedia as being of 
paramount importance (the word "encyclopedia" seems to ring this 
particular bell in many people). Hence everybody's stereotypical 
reaction when they first hear of Wikipedia, "That'll never work!".

Also, to make this clear: I do not believe that Encarta will attract 
more contributors than Wikipedia. Quite to the contrary. What I'm 
talking about is the general public view of the resulting encyclopedia. 
For a long time, it has been one of Wikipedia's selling points to say, 
"If you find a mistake you can correct it yourself!" Now, the general 
reply to that will be, "Yawn. You can do that with Encarta too."

> Only about 20 editors process millions of contributions a year,
> giving no feedback, and sometimes changing edits in seemingly
> arbitrary ways.

Heh. I know what you mean. But I don't think the editors "change edits 
in arbitrary ways" -- I think it's more likely that their processing of 
the information takes *even* longer than you think, and the information 
you suggested was actually suggested by someone else long before you, 
and they posted his version. :)

> It was frustrating, as you can tell. IMDb may be the most repected
> movie database, but as a community it's hell, and I don't expect
> Encarta to be much better. Public contribution and closing editing
> doesn't scale.

I completely agree. But the "community factor" doesn't help the 
reputation outside the community.


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