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The topics discussed here grow out of the bread-and-butter issues that confront my consulting and software clients on a daily basis. We'll talk about prosaic stuff like Membership Management, Meetings and Events Management and Fundraising, broader ideas like security and software project management, and the social, cultural, and organizational issues that impact IT decision-making.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Death of Wikipedia?

Last week Nicolas Carr, who Dion Hinchcliffe refers to as "that Web 2.0 curmudgeon extraordinaire," posted a piece gloating over what he claimed was the demise of Wikipedia; or at least of its vaunted commitment to open editing. In the wake of contraversies over false information found in its pages, Wikipedia has a asserted a modest level of page protection. This is what led Nick to write
Wikipedia is dead. It died the way the pure products of idealism always do, slowly and quietly and largely in secret, through the corrosive process of compromise.
It's just not true, and Nick does a real disservice to a remarkable project's efforts to sustain itself. The controls are truly minimal: you need to have your account for 4 days to edit a protected page. And if you have "vandalized" a page, you can be banned from editing. In a comment to Nick's post, I said that the protections seemed pretty sensible to me, and quite in keeping with a philosophy of openness.

The only thing that worried me about these rules were the lack of transparency about the group that did the banning. Who are they? How do I know that won't declare me a vandal because of some social or political position I hold? Immediately I had an email in my box from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales pointing me to the policy on "blocking" - banning certain people from editing. The page goes into detail on reasons for a blocking, and on the makeup of board that can make a decision to block a user.

Far from being a death knell, these changes sound, to crib from the title of Dion's posting, like social media "emerging from its adolescence".
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