Wikipedia responds

Wikipedia responds

Summary: 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?

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TOPICS: Open Source
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Jimmy WalesWikipedia'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.

Topic: Open Source

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5 comments
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  • It will grow

    There is no question in my mind that Wikipedia's current issues are nothing more than growing pains. In time, it will propser, in an intellectual way. I only wish that Wikipedia could have used a Creative Commons ShareAlike license instead of the GFDL.

    They can, of course, still use public domain material to populate the encyclopedia:

    http://opendomain.blogspot.com
    opensourcepro
  • perception and reality

    I am a librarian who spends the day helping people research information. A problem I see with Wikipedia is that consumers don't realize that what they read there could be tainted or downright false. They have a perception that because they know the name Wikipedia, it must be okay. They don't realize the nature of the resource. They 'believe' just like they automatically believe World Book.
    Steve VA
    • Re: perception and reality

      [i]I am a librarian who spends the day helping people research information. A problem I see with Wikipedia is that consumers don't realize that what they read there could be tainted or downright false. They have a perception that because they know the name Wikipedia, it must be okay. They don't realize the nature of the resource. They 'believe' just like they automatically believe World Book.[/i]

      This could just as easily have read:
      I am a librarian who spends the day helping people research information. A problem I see with [b]libraries[/b] is that consumers don't realize that what they read there could be tainted or downright false. They have a perception that because they know the [b]book was in the library[/b], it must be okay. They don't realize the nature of the resource. They [b]just[/b] 'believe.'

      The problem with Wikipedia is that it is a single source of information. It's no different than going to the library and pulling a single book out to use as a source. Any competent researcher will utilize multiple sources, as I'm sure you have your customers do.

      Admittedly, Wikipedia is prone to the introduction of errors. However, the same mechanism that initially permits those errors provides for (usually) rapid self-correction.
      Letophoro
  • Depends on the "pressure"

    Getting new features added to equal proprietary software dosen't seem to create any movement...
    No_Ax_to_Grind
  • Yes, they respond faster

    Generally speaking, I find open source projects to be a lot faster in responding to the needs of their users. However, I believe that is largely due to the participatory nature of open source.
    jdrch