Wikipedia Sucks: Here are 10 Reasons Why

Jimmy Wales holding a globe in front of frightened man

There are many reasons why Wikipedia represents a flawed model for publishing accurate information. These 10 reasons critique Wikipedia and will hopefully provide some impetus for improvement.

  1. The theory that everyone’s contributions to a topic are equally valuable sounds good, but is clearly nonsense.
  2. Wikipedia has no way of recognizing expert knowledge over inexpert knowledge. The members with most authority are the ones who have spent the most time working on Wikipedia – their “knowledge” is often just a combination of Google results and prejudice.
  3. Wikipedia gives people’s opinions undeserved authority by virtue of its search engine rankings and authoritative presentation and identity.
  4. Too many people (especially students) who use Wikipedia believe the articles will be reliable – and Wikipedia’s stance as an encyclopedia encourages this misguided belief.
  5. At the core of Wikipedia is the idea that bad articles will eventually be edited by the community until they become good (i.e. factual and well-written). In fact, they are likely to be edited until all but one member loses interest or gives up trying.
  6. “If you don’t like an entry, you can fix it yourself”(1). But I came here for information, not to provide it.
  7. “Wikipedia pages have become increasingly complex and Wikipedia doesn’t support a WYSIWYG editor.”(3) This and other technical aspects of Wikipedia effectively prevent many people with valuable knowledge from participating.
  8. The lack of any required standard of writing, error-checking and fact-checking means that many Wikipedia entries are poorly-written and contain factual inconsistencies.(1)(2)(4)
  9. Wikipedia articles only ever skim the surface. Which is fine – but they don’t ever indicate what might be below the surface either, leading people to believe that everything is as simple and uncontroversial as Wikipedia says it is. (2)
  10. Wikipedia entries are meant to be “notable” – but only Wikipedia’s (self-appointed) editors have to think so. Is Stroyent really important?

 

References

1. Wikipedia founder admits to serious quality problems • The Register
2. The Faith-Based Encyclopedia, Robert McHenry
3. Wikipedia’s Technological Obscurification: Three ways Wikipedia keeps 99% of the population from participating, Jason Calacanis
4. The Amorality of Web 2.0, Nicholas Carr

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