In case anyone was wondering, this chart wonderfully represents why I love the fact that we use wikis internally – and occasionally externally – for collaboration.
Posts Tagged ‘Wiki’
This morning, while catching up on my RSS feeds for the week, I noticed this item where Jason Kottke was pointing to the Wikipedia definition of “sock puppet,” which a lot of user group and social bookmarking site users will recognize and be familiar with. It’s something that sites such as Netscape and Digg are surely dealing with on a regular basis, and that Wikipedia feels very strongly about.
The reason I wanted to call attention to this, however, was that when looking through that definition, was the portion of the page addressing meatpuppets. What I find most interesting here, and this is not at all in the sense of my position in the public relations community, but as a very regular user and periodic editor (for my own purposes, not clients) was that there was a request that people do not “invite” others to the site when there are articles being debated. I definitely agree with the sentiments that “the arrival of multiple newcomers, with limited Wikipedia background and predetermined viewpoints arriving in order to present those viewpoints, rarely helps achieve neutrality and most times actively damages it, no matter what one might think,” I think that a small part of that goes against what Wikipedia is about. I would hope that not every single person who was directed to see something that was causing a stir at Wikipedia wouldn’t just open up an account and edit freely or comment in a negative way, but I don’t see how users of Wikipedia, who might not be overly regularly watching every single item being edited, shouldn’t be made aware of things that could have an effect on what the future of Wikipedia’s pages might hold.
While I’m sure that this is done so that people aren’t inciting a riot of sorts on the pages of Wikipedia – something I would agree with – I’m sure there have been plenty of times when a blogger or forum user has published a notice saying that there was a large debate over something. Should those notices, innocent as they might be, not be published? Say that there is a debate forming over whether or not someone is “important” enough to stay in Wikipedia or not (I’ve seen this happen with Peter Rojas, for instance), is the link in to the debate of this something negative, or only if it’s done if the suggestion that people should start participating?
I know it’s written there that it’s “highly inappropriate” to do so to “attract users with known views and bias, in order to strengthen one side of a debate,” but if I post this on my blog when it’s regarding something important to me, isn’t that going to do just that, whether I am trying to do that or not? If so, does that mean that only the “usual” editors of Wikipedia should be having their say?
I only ask this because I know of far fewer “participants” in Wikipedia than I do regular users, the latter of which I’d say would be a lot of my friends and colleagues, especially those younger than myself.
Thoughts? Hate mail? Discussion points?
Update: In other news, Slate’s Timothy Noah is probably getting evicted from Wikipedia, and he’s taking it pretty well.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports Monday that the folks at Wetpaint are working with an author who wrote a book about issues surrounding the Da Vinci Code (not the movie, note) to allow fans of the upcoming film to collaborate and contribute to “theories” about what the code has to offer on a new wiki at secretsbehindthedavincicode.wetpaint.com. Hey, as someone who promotes these types of technology, if this kind of thing is what it takes to get it in front of the masses who might never see a wiki otherwise, then so be it.
[props to Chris Thilk for the post title]
In high school, I had this economics teacher, Mr. Masiello, who used the acronym TINSTAAFL so often that it became one of the few dozen things from high school (that were school-related, at least) that I can recall at a moment’s notice. Additionally, it’s something I think about all the time throughout my work life. If you’re not familiar with TINSTAAFL, it stands for “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” As much as I try and disprove it, there’s always a way, seemingly to prove that it is indeed reality. Such is most certainly the case with what many people like to refer to as “Web 2.0″-ish services, but they should be more properly described as collaborative or “sharative” if you will.
Let’s take the wiki as the prime example. Wikipedia and a number of other useful sites have cropped up in recent times and have changed how people use the Web for information and reference, and provide an excellent jumping-off point for finding most items you could possibly looking for. The real value behind a Wikipedia is that there are people spending hours and hours – unpaid hours – filling it with content, links, and other assorted data points. So what’s the deal there? You want to use Wikipedia, sure it’s “free” for you the user, but if you look at it a little more “whole”-istically, for the service to be successful, the group of us, the users, have to attempt to stay on top of things we know about, as a group, and continually make things happen. Sure, you can freeload and just use it as a reference point, but you’ve still got to do a little bit of due diligence and put in an effort to make sure where the Wikipedia source has led you is helpful or not. It’s by no means the be all, end all, answer guide, as simple as it may be to look at it that way.
If I’ve led you astray at this point, don’t fret. Let’s loop back into the point of all this. Earlier today, I caught this post over at Lifehacker about LyricWiki, a free site where people can put up the lyrics to songs they know about, to share for everyone. In case you hadn’t noticed, searching for song lyrics on the ‘net leaves you awash in popup advertisements, multiple click-throughs to get what you want, and much more. Now while the RIAA (as mentioned in the LH comments section) and other groups might not like that the lyrics are out there, and that this could get hit hard should someone choose to sue for republishing lyrics, I really doubt that someone would come down on a service like this, as long as it didn’t try and move to a for-profit status. In fact, the ad-filled sites would be much more likely to get slammed, and I can also see a lot of people being much more interested in seeing what a collaborative site, one they could contribute to, would bring to the table. So for those popup-happy sites, their business now has competition, from a source that they might not have seen coming – the “rank and file.”
In a way, the whole “honor system” that’s used for everything from charity lollipops on store counters to bringing back the gas can to the local gas station when you run out of fuel on the highway is relevant in a Webspace such as this, and for the most part, people don’t think twice about contributing when they have something of value to add. Sure, it’s manipulatable, and isn’t always perfect, but it’s here, and usable. So take a
penny lyric, leave a penny lyric.
Dear Capitol Hill staffers (wannabe pseudo-marketers),
We’ve heard that you continue to abuse Wikipedia not by correcting information that is incorrect (read: facts are wrong), but by removing information you don’t like, replacing other information with “authorized” biographies, and getting darn close to libeling rivals. Please stop, you’re ruining it for those who actually respect the site as a source and beginning-point for information gathering and direction.