Wikipedia maturing

Nick Carr is snarky about Jim Wales’ new slogan for Wikipedia (“the online encyclopedia in which any reasonable person can join us in writing and editing entries on any encyclopedic topic,”) as opposed to the previous free-for-all. But he misses the point: Any business or endeavor with strong network externalities goes through phases of growth, and Wikipedia is now transitioning from “need stuff” to “need better stuff”.

My Master and executive students have been editing Wikipedia as part of their courses for 5 years. The comment when we started was “boy, this is fun”. Now it is “it is really hard to create new articles, we either get shot down or the topic is already covered.” Life is easier in the Norwegian version (170K entries) than in the English one, where norms are nailed down and text quality, at least on any substantial entry, is high.

Progress, the revolutionaries become the incumbents, life goes on, etc., etc.

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