Efforts by The New York Times to compete directly with the type of content Wikipedia provides may increase in the near future as the paper continues to overhaul its web presence.
Earlier hints of this can be seen in the Times' purchase of About.com (see archived story), which like Wikipedia uses human editors to provide content on various subjects. It appears that the Times also plans to use its own archives to create similar topical sites that could compete with Wikipedia.
Blogger David Weinberger reported on Wednesday that the newspaper would be revamping its website at www.nytimes.com in April. Based on an interview with Robert Larson, the website's director of product management and development, he said the changes would include a significant effort to provide more access to content drawn from the paper's archives.
The format Weinberger described would not be direct access to the newspaper's archives, for which the website will continue to charge a fee. However, the archived material would also be used to organize a number of topic pages, and as current news stories get moved to the archive, the link for the story would direct readers to an appropriate topic page instead. In concept, the topic page would be like a gateway or portal leading to the archives and helping the Times to generate more revenue from them.
In his analysis, Weinberger commented that it would be natural to compare these topic pages to Wikipedia articles dealing with the same topic. He expressed confidence that in most cases, "we're going to find the Wikipedia page more useful, more current, more neutral, and more linked into the Web." If not, Weinberger added, "we'll edit the Wikipedia page until it's better. And then we'll link it to the NYTimes.com topic page."