Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that anyone can add to and edit, has always been the subject of heated debate. To its supporters, Wikipedia, is representative of the power of the Internet; a unique collaborative tool for pooling the knowledge of individuals into a comprehensive body of knowledge. Encyclopaedia Britannica is the past, Wikipedia is the future they argue.
To its critics, however, the lack of central authority to verify the accuracy of entries means they view the accuracy of Wikipedia with a good deal of scepticism. For the sceptic it is a resource to read but not to be trusted, perhaps useful for a quick take on a subject but nothing more.
Now, according to an article in The Register, it seems Wikipedia’s co-founder, Jimmy Wales, has conceded that these critics may have a point, acknowledging that the open source encyclopedia does indeed have a problem with the quality of some of its entries.
“ [[Bill Gates]] and [[Jane Fonda]] are nearly unreadable crap,” he wrote in reply to a criticism posted in a blog by Nicholas Carr.
So what can be done? According to another of Wikipedia’s co-founders Larry Sanger, who has now left the project, the root of problem lies in the Wikipedia community’s anti-elitism and lack of respect for expertise. Getting more of these experts on board would help improve the quality of the postings and help Wikipedia move towards realising its potential.