Open and Shut

Nupedia founder Larry Sanger wrote a Kuro5hin article about how Wikipedia sux.

Funny story — apparently Wikipedia started out as the scratch pad for Nupedia, which was based on carefully vetted articles. A year after it started, Nupeida died with a total of 23 published articles. Wikipedia has been doing somewhat better….

So Mr. Sanger suggests that maybe Wikipedia could be okay, as long as they shut down the systems that it’s founded on — open, unmoderated contribution with the least possible restriction. Make it into more of a rigorous, expert-based, academic model. Kinda like Nupedia.

Clay Shirkey responds:

It’s been fascinating to watch the Kubler-Ross stages of people committed to Wikipedia’s failure: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Denial was simple; people who didn’t think it was possible simply dis-believed. But the numbers kept going up. Then they got angry, perhaps most famously in the likening of the Wikipedia to a public toilet by a former editor for Encyclopedia Brittanica. Sanger’s post marks the bargaining phase; “OK, fine, the Wikipedia is interesting, but whatever we do, lets definitely make sure that we change it into something else rather than letting the current experiment run unchecked.”

Next up will be a glum realization that there is nothing that can stop people from contributing to the Wikipedia if they want to, or to stop people from using it if they think it’s useful. Freedom’s funny like that.