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April 26, 2007

Ollie Kamm on Wikipedia

Ollie Kamm (and Stephen Pollard agrees with him) thinks that Wikipedia is worse than useless, it's positively harmful.

Apologies to both, but they're wrong.

Wikipedia certainly does contain errors but then so do the major published encyclopedias. As I pointed out some time ago here, errors are a sadly predictable fact of life.

The point is that information, as Hayek pointed out, is locally held. So while a rigid structure might on the face of it provide a better method of supplying entirely accurate and complete information this may well not turn out to be true in practice. If those millions with that locally held information contribute, the Wiki approach might be better.

I wouldn't pretend that the Wikipedia entry on scandium is perfect (they haven't used enough of my alterations for example ahem) but it is better than the entry in any of the printed encyclopedias. That's because none of the printed versions have used the expertise of the world expert on the market, mining and volumes of, scandium, while the Wikipedia one does. 

April 26, 2007 in Web/Tech | Permalink


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Wikipedia is ok for things like vehicles, weapons, structures and the like. Anything vaguely political is a complete no-go though. Check out Jimmy Carter's page, it's a worshipful homage.

Posted by: Andrew Paterson | Apr 26, 2007 4:21:09 PM

My entry is constantly changing bollocks.

Posted by: Guido Fawkes | Apr 26, 2007 4:50:53 PM

My entry is constantly changing bollocks.

Much the same as your blog, then...

Posted by: Unity | Apr 26, 2007 5:22:55 PM

How does an entry on wikipedia change bollocks? Is it not more to do with Guido's posture when he sits in front of his PC?

Posted by: James Graham | Apr 26, 2007 5:35:56 PM

Wikipedia is ok for things like vehicles, weapons, structures and the like. Anything vaguely political is a complete no-go though.

That's about right. Wikipedia is good because it provides information on subjects most encylopedias never go near, such as weapons, vehicles, etc.

Posted by: Tim Newman | Apr 26, 2007 9:32:23 PM

Right. Basically wikipedia is OK for anything that escapes the notice of the wikipedia "community".


Posted by: Joe Otten | Apr 27, 2007 9:54:42 AM

Glad to hear the article about "scadium" is commendable. How about any of the other 2 million articles that happen to discuss something having any degree of controversy? The "democratic" nature of Wikipedia on these articles breaks down into an administrator-controlled message that they protect from behind pseudonymous account names, even blocking and banning from the site those who hold advanced degrees and identify themselves by their real names. Those who love Wikipedia, ask your favorite administrator sometime -- how many accounts have been blocked or banned? Is that the type of democracy we're to honor and support?

P.S. For a real conflict of interest, check out who controls the money at the Wikimedia Foundation. Hint, hint: It's the very same person who balances the books at Wikia, Inc. The most incredible accomplishment of Wikipedia is that all these free-labor donors to Wikipedia don't realize their efforts are going to a huge marketing/traffic plan over at the for-profit Wikia! Keep on working for Jimbo, you slaves.

Posted by: Gregory KOhs | Aug 19, 2007 7:53:36 PM