Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Wikipedia Fixed It Fast

According to conservative columnist Paul Jacob, an academic wanted to demonstrate Wikipedia's vulnerability by introducing deliberate errors in remote sections of the encyclopedia. The academic
. . . expected the errors to languish for days and weeks and maybe even months, before anyone would notice exactly what he had deliberately snuck into the resource.
But Wikipedia's volunteers proved him wrong. "Within three hours, they eradicated each one of his errors . . . and even excoriated him for inventing stuff!"

Jacob wishes the whole country could be run as well as Wikipedia.

If it had been a government-run database:

1. Only select bureaucrats would have the authority to create and edit material
2. It would be inferior in depth and range of subjects
3. Any topic that interconnected with politics would be subject to political treatment
4. Mistakes would require a form to fill out and submit. The form would be multiplied several times for filing. A copy would be sent to a committee. The committee might hold a meeting to discuss whether the reported mistake is really a mistake. If a consensus was reached that it was, they would hold another meeting to discuss how best to correct it. In time, the mistake would be corrected.
5. The encyclopedia would reflect what the government and its friends wanted, not the taxpaying public.
6. The cost to taxpayers and dollar-holders for maintaining the database would be astronomical and rise each year. Budget cutbacks would affect datbase upkeep, which means reported mistakes might live there forever.
7. To win public support the Department of Education would require all government [public] schools to use the database.

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