Slashdot is carrying another story about the rise and fall of Wikipedia. (especially, see the comments: Is Wikipedia’s Popularity Causing Its Decline?)
I loved the idea of Wikipedia in the early years. I used to read encyclopaediae, the dead-tree-kind, as a boy. My father bought them from door-to-door salesmen. I kept them with me for years. With the Internet and search engines the dead-tree-kinds are pretty well obsolete. When Wikipedia came along, I made a local copy for use in the North. The Internet connection could drop and we were still on the air thanks to a LAMP stack. Kids loved it. I worked at it. It took weeks of sifting through articles and hundreds of thousands of images to remove age-inappropriate content. I did that.
From time to time I contributed to Wikipedia where I saw a deficiency in an article and it was no problem. Later, I wanted to contribute more frequently but ran into exactly the kinds of rejection describe in the paper (not new, but recent, 2012…). Finally I realized that I was wasting more time trying to defend my contributions than it took to make them and hours of work would just be deleted for no good reason. The comments in Slashdot show why this is so silly. If a contribution is defective in any way, deletion is only one remedy. In a proper community, improvement of the contribution is also a normal response. We don’t kill immigrants on sight because they aren’t from around here but that happens regularly in Wikipedia. The rules essentially allow summary execution for arbitrary reasons, like documenting human knowledge in proper research rather than popular media. “Original research” is a sin in Wikipedia land.
Oh well. I’m retired. It’s not my problem. Despite it’s shortcoming, Wikipedia is remarkable and should be forked and set up with more reasonable policies. The idea that human knowledge should be limited to what the current tyrants imagine is ludicrous. Every great encyclopaedia has welcomed contributors, the more knowledgeable, the better. An encyclopaedia that drives away contributors is not encyclopaedic. It’s circling the drain of human knowledge.