By Andreas Kolbe
The other day, a contributor to question-and-answer site Quora asked: “Why did people create huge, comprehensive websites like Wikipedia for free?”
Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, a frequent and well-loved commenter on Quora (as well as an investor in the site), left a short reply that had no difficulty establishing itself as the most popular answer: “Because it’s awesome.” It was an astute piece of cheerleading from Wales – and it worked. His one-liner received over 1,800 upvotes.
Wikipedia is funded by donations from the public (nearly $50 million in the last accounting year, an almost ten-fold increase over takings five years ago), and much of its PR work relies on feel-good messages. Wales has made a living from supplying them. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement: Wales makes a good income from his speaking fees – typically over $70,000 per event, according to the New York
…continue reading Why do people contribute to Wikipedia?
As the Twenty-First Century drags on, more and more aspects of our daily lives are dominated by digital gizmos, and more and more common tasks are automated. So, then, why not Wikipedia? In recent years, automated programs, also known as robots or “bots,” have demonstrated that they can sign comments left on talk pages, revert vandalism, check for copyright violations on new pages, add or remove protection templates, and archive talk pages more expeditiously, with fewer errors, and with more civility and less drama than the human editors. Should we be looking forward to the day when Wikipedia will be fully automated, where bots will trawl the net for news sources and automatically include every last tidbit of gossipy trivia about celebrities or fictional television characters, rendering Wikipedia’s human editors entirely unnecessary?
Ah, but I can hear the objections already. Can bots be programmed to be snarky and disingenuous? Will they be able
…continue reading Wikipedia: a Bot’s-Eye View
By greybeard and Kelly Martin
According to Wikipedia,
Wikipedia is often cited as a successful example of crowdsourcing, despite objections by co-founder Jimmy Wales to the term.
For the largest audience, one has to be careful about the definition of the word “crowdsourcing“.
Wikipedia is a failed example of crowdsourcing, but there are also successful examples. The failure of Wikipedia as a crowdsourcing project is very interesting, but if one is to be — or are perceived as — decrying crowdsourcing more generally, one walks into a tarpit of contradictory evidence and conclusions that weaken one’s primary point.
Wikipedia’s model fails for a number of reasons. One we can call “entropy”. No fact on Wikipedia is ever fully-established. If we crowdsource (e.g.) a catalog of birds or a map of actual-vs-scheduled train times, then the facts are never (or seldom) in dispute. These projects rely on
…continue reading The Myth of Crowdsourcing at Wikipedia