In the media

Media still probing Wikipedia credibility debate

In an article published last Monday, "Wikipedia Faces Growing Pains", Daniel Terdiman of Wired News directed more press attention to the question of how credible Wikipedia is as a reference. As efforts to devise new review mechanisms for Wikipedia continue, the debate still retains a certain fascination for the media.

Two sides of the debate

At the outset of his article, Terdiman picks up on the recent wave of discussion about Wikipedia's credibility (see archived story). The first half recaps some of the existing debate, quoting such participants as Clay Shirky and Larry Sanger. Once Sanger's criticisms are introduced, the remainder of the article is framed as Jimmy Wales' response and plans for the future of Wikipedia.

Terdiman refers to Sanger, oddly enough, as a "former Wikipedia developer". In the ordinary sense of the word "developer", this might be reasonable, since Sanger helped to develop the Wikipedia project and its policies at its inception. In fact, this might serve as a compromise title to solve the question of whether Sanger qualifies as a "co-founder" of Wikipedia, since he refers to himself that way but Wales does not. Still, as Wikipedia has actual software developers, a concept one might assume Wired's readers are likely to understand, the choice seems odd, since this wasn't really the area Sanger worked in.

In presenting the Wikipedia response to criticism, Terdiman offers both refutations from Wales and ways to address the problems. He devotes some attention to the plans to develop a frozen and "finished" version as Wikipedia 1.0. Based on hints from Wales, he reports that a 1.0 version might not be published this year, however. Not clearly stated in the article was what medium a Wikipedia 1.0 would be in, whether this meant a print issue as Wales originally conceived or simply a static version distributed on DVD or other form of computer data storage.

In the end, Terdiman allows for a reasonably positive outlook, saying that in time Wikipedia "probably will be seen as on par with the Britannicas of the world." Of course, many Wikipedians see it as having surpassed Britannica long ago, but obviously some segments of the population are not willing to concede that point yet.

Elsewhere in the press

Wikipedia remains a popular and frequently cited resource on the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. In a column on Sunday, Darren Green of the Chicago Tribune apparently found Wikipedia's coverage of the event so comprehensive that he referred to it as a "chapter" instead of an "article".

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