Wikipedia's rapid response to its problems begs a serious question.
Do open source projects naturally respond faster to pressure than proprietary software companies?
For those who didn't follow the link, Wikipedia responded both to problems we mentioned, and others, with a new set of procedures. Unregistered users can no longer create new articles.
Founder Jimmy Wales (left, from his own Wikipedia page) is also considering a rule that would bar people from writing about themselves. That's the result of a move by Adam Curry (a podcasting bigwig) to delete references to Technorati's work on the technology from the dictionary's podcasting entry. Wales thinks a formal move may be unnecessary because Curry is taking a beating in the blogosphere over what he now claims was a simple mistake.
The point is that Wales has been pro-active here. He has gotten in front of the criticism and done something. Compare his move to Sony's moves regarding its DRM scandal.
Or is that comparison unfair? Wikipedia, despite its size and importance online, is not a big business. It's not a business at all. Sony is a big business, with many layers of management. There is no open source project that can compare with it.
A better comparison might be to a small software start-up facing customer criticisms for the first time. Even here, I think, Wales has performed well.
But what may happen as these projects grow into corporations? Would a Covalent or a JBoss react as quickly as Wikipedia did, if it faced similar problems? Remember the Mambo? Is the gravitational attraction within open source too weak to create such institutions?
I don't know. That's not the politically correct thing to say, I know. It's not what you'd hear from any corporate chieftain or politician. But it's often the truth. And I strongly suspect that open source managers are, on the whole, far more willing to admit that than their institutional counterparts.
One more point for the open source model.