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Wacky Wonky Wikipedia

Jimmy Wales' model is wrong - and a failure.


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Jimmy Wales says he got his inspiration for Wikipedia from the open source movement. The perhaps most well known player in open source is Linux which is run by Linus Torvalds.

Turku born Linus started Linux when a student at the University of Helsinki. He wanted a cheap Unix.

The Linux system is simple. The code is available for all to use and for personal purposes to modify. But changes any one individual makes to Linux are not automatically propagated to all Linux users. People who see the need for changes need to propagate their suggestions up the tree. Linus has a number of lieutenants around him, most notably Andrew Morton in London. Changes to Linux have to pass through these lieutenants. And only if they make it that far are they given to the man for review. And only if Linus approves the change is it propagated.

Imagine this. Imagine all the world's 1.5 billion PCs get their operating system kernel from a central location on the Internet when they start up. Imagine further this kernel is available for all to both see and modify instantaneously.

No computer in the world would work. To try to make them work Linus would have to employ a politburo as Jimmy Wales - people who continually patrolled the Linux source. These people would have to be capable of instantaneously and accurately deciding if a code change was good or not. This is of course impossible.

Now imagine Jimmy Wales did things differently instead. Imagine he used the Linux system. In this case there would have to be a format for submitting articles. This format would require data about the author, require fully hyperlinked articles, and so forth. The articles would go into a queue and would be reviewed by experts before being published.

Wikipedia would have to employ a board to review every article coming up the food chain. Wikipedia would have to solicit experts in all possible fields to review submitted articles for technical and grammatical accuracy. Much as professional news media do today. Much of this work would be outsourced but the model would work.

And should this model be used then Wikipedia would pass a peer review. Wikipedia would very much become the online Encyclopaedia Britannica. It would be considered a reliable source. Mathematically people would know there was a distinct reliability factor with trusting Wikipedia just as there is with Encyclopaedia Britannica. There would be something to work with.

This system is also highly efficient. Much more efficient than the current Wikipedia model. Another way of comparison: the proposed model is much like creating a secure operating system whilst the current Wikipedia model is tantamount to running Microsoft Windows: the former never let the bad guys enter in the first place whilst the latter always let them in, then run hysterically after them and try to catch them. In both cases - with both Wikipedia and Windows - it's absolutely ridiculous and current events continue to bear this out.

On the other hand a lot of the fun would be gone from Wikipedia. Reading the rants of former top level Wikipedia editors one finds a distinct thread: namely that if one is no longer going to be a high level Wikipedia editor the only thing left to do is vandalise. While this can be taken as a joke it's occurred too often to be treated as such. Wikipedia has the lure of enabling instant changes to truth and history. Anybody for any reason at all can go in and pervert operations to suit their own whims and needs.

Wikipedia is not reliable. Wikipedia is a joke. Worse: Wikipedia has created a subculture of extremely fishy personae, an extremely top heavy organisation where too much money is wasted doing nothing much more than creating a hopeless antagonistic situation much akin to the Soviet governmental model. It. Simply. Doesn't. Work.

The idea of an online source of information is good. Jimmy Wales' idea of how this is created is fundamentally flawed.

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