31 March 2007

Shouldn’t we demand more?

The doubt raised on the accuracy of information in Wikipedia’s content pages (see my previous post) is an interesting case against user-generated content in our freedom-loving and democratic world.

Should anyone and everyone be allowed to generate content on a website which describes itself as an online encyclopedia? I think not. After all, people consult encyclopedias for accuracy of information and balanced (impartial) points of view on specific topics.

For a moment, let us forget about Wikipedia, although its free online content, available in 250 languages, is immensely useful to millions of users across the world. Let us consider the principle on which an encyclopedia is created: the principle of knowledge, and the quality of it.

What if contributors to a printed encyclopedia, such as Encyclopedia Britannica, played mischief with this knowledge, misrepresenting it, adding a bias to suit their needs, or hiding the truth to further their agenda? Where would that leave us?

I agree that Wikipedia is a collaborative effort and, by the strength of the system, user/citizen editors would soon catch the misinformation and the misuse and correct them. They would catch the miscreants and sanction them. But, by then, millions of users across the world may already be misled.

On the same principles of democracy and freedom that are hallmarks of user-managed and/or collaborative websites like Wikipedia, shouldn’t we, as users, demand more?


Madhuri said...

I personally think that the information should be available, even if wrong, only to lead to the right information and thought. It will at least capture those pockets of information that never come up. And even a window view of information is helpful.
Think of how easy life would be for a lot of historians if many people 10000 years ago wrote down and shared what food they ate at their home :)

runawaysun said...

@ Madhuri

Ah yes, I agree, some information is better than no information. Your example from History is irrefutable. Damn those ancestors of ours for their lack of foresight! They were no better than monkeys.

In my defence, I must state that I had referred to Wikipedia as a source of knowledge, which I consider to be at a level higher than information. Anybody can provide information. Knowledge comes from experts.

Thanks for visiting my blog (and adding me to yours).