Commentary
5/25/2006
06:26 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
Commentary

Is Wikipedia Dead, Or Just Pining For The Fjords?

Nick Carr says it's dead, as the community encyclopedia has put in place a tightening series of controls on who can contribute content. He notes that one of the kinds of restrictions is named "in good Orwellian fashion, 'semi-protection,'" which blocks unregistered editors and editors with very new accounts from editing a page. "The end came last Friday," Carr writes. "That's when Wikipedia's founder, J



Nick Carr says it's dead, as the community encyclopedia has put in place a tightening series of controls on who can contribute content.

He notes that one of the kinds of restrictions is named "in good Orwellian fashion, 'semi-protection,'" which blocks unregistered editors and editors with very new accounts from editing a page.

"The end came last Friday," Carr writes. "That's when Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales, proposed 'that we eliminate the requirement that semi-protected articles have to announce themselves as such to the general public.'"

Now here's the money quote from Carr:

"The 'general public,' you see, is now an entity separate and distinct from those who actually control the creation of Wikipedia."

Carr seems to think this change in Wikipedia somehow demonstrates that the original vision was wrong. But it's more of an evolution. Wikipedia is still a project that's built largely by volunteers, with extremely low barriers for anyone who cares to contribute. It's just evolving more toward the open-source model, where there's a central team of gatekeepers that decides what ultimately goes into the product and who gets to contribute what.

On the other hand, Ross Mayfield flames Carr in a blog post headlined, "Nick Carr is the New Dave Winer." Mayfield doesn't mean that in a good way, but Winer is flattered.

Winer says Wikipedia's organizers need to do a better job explaining how Wikipedia works.

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