Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wikipedia becomes elite-ist

I’ve just come across this article in the New York Times about how Wikipedia is considering changing the rules to editing and posting of information.

In essence, the online encyclopedia is considering permitting only registered users to edit and post content. According to the article, because of ‘vandals’ changing facts on certain entries ‘"Wikipedia appears ready to introduce a system that prevents new and anonymous users from instantly publishing changes to the online encyclopedia."

This will mean a much smaller group of people responsible for published content. This raises a few concerns for me.

Firstly, it means the wide range of content will be reduced as the collective input will be smaller. Even if the content continues to be as wide ranging, it will surely take longer for the smaller group of people to come across new or interesting content. Secondly, we are relying on a smaller group of gatekeepers to decide what should / shouldn’t be published, what is fact or isn’t accurate and eventually what we actually see. Finally, part of the success of Wikipedia is based on user generated content from anyone who feels they have something interesting to share with the world or have a particular passion for a subject/issue. By introducing this type of ‘censorship’, is Wikipedia being elite-ist?

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