Thu 9th July 2009, 9:25pm
I've just spotted a reply by Ikkyu2 written in June this year to this blog post (which was a copy of an essay originally written in 2005)
I’ve changed my mind about a number of things since I wrote this essay, which is one of the reasons I deleted it.
Wikipedia is actually a good source of information about things that other information sources wouldn’t consider worth spending editor time or page space on. For instance, I had always wondered what the title of the Led Zeppelin song, “Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp,” meant. Turns out it’s the name of a small cottage in a valley in Wales, owned by a friend of Robert Plant’s father. This piece of information is in one book somewhere, and maybe one interview. And it’s on Wikipedia, accompanied by a photograph of the house.
Wikipedia’s great for that kind of thing.
For things that people are really interested in, though - things that are of interest to many, complicated, heavily investigated, the things that most Wikipedia users use Wikipedia to research - it fails, for the reasons I stated above. It continues to fail spectacularly to this day. And, as a physician who speaks to my patients and finds out what they know, I can tell you that it often fails dangerously by giving wrong information to people who desperately need right information.
I don’t contribute to Wikipedia much anymore, and I still use it. And I’m kind of fond of it. I’d miss it if it went away. But it was the first entry to fill a particular information void that has always existed. I am eagerly awaiting the next step, the thing that kicks it to the curb. (And if I knew what that was, I’d be building it.)