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The Myth of Crowdsourcing at Wikipedia

By greybeard and Kelly Martin

 

According to Wikipedia,

Wikipedia is often cited as a successful example of crowdsourcing,[157] despite objections by co-founder Jimmy Wales to the term.[158]

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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

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