Sunday, July 30, 2006

The benefits of Wikipedia

My take on Wikipedia. [Posted at Little Professor who points out some definite shortcomings]

Wikipedia seems to be about no ego and collaboration without authorship per se which is the way that every good computer programmer is taught to work and that's who founded and runs Wikipedia. For example, the recent methdology/philosophy of extreme programming stresses frequent testing and refactoring (rewriting) of the computer code you write as well as peer feedback, an extreme case being where one programmer programs (writes code) while another programmer is staring over his/her shoulder, sort of like a back-seat driver. The programming notion of refactoring has been reapplied by Wikipedia to writing. The ideas of egoless programming and code review by peers goes back to the early days of programming.

Everyone is free to set up a Wikipedia User page, but it has to specifically be about the work that the user is doing on Wikipedia. I set one up:

Despite the no original research rule, anything that would be covered in a review of the literature on a topic is fair game and that can drill pretty deep, like I'd be willing to wager a posting on the author of Signal & Noise, covered in Little Professor's last posting would be legitimate. It seems that the presence of some reasonable constraints does keep Wikipedia focused and productive.

I think that the beauty of Wikipedia is that the no ego/no author rule encourages people to contribute and share information.

Pretty soon it should be better for a cursory view of a subject than any other reference work out there, particularly in areas of the world that are not so well-endowed with books.