New Wikipedia is a parasite – is it just Yahoo on steroids?

I could really rant about the Wikipedia Police and how they impose their view on pages, even when they are ignorant of the topic. But there are more serious issues here. So I will rant about those.

The really exciting thing about Wikipedia in the early days was that it captured stuff that nothing else could capture. This meant that if you happened to know something about something, then by contributing to Wikipedia the world was able to access that information.

No more.

The only stuff that is acceptable to the New Wikipedia editors is stuff that has valid references, whatever “valid” might mean.

This has some bad consequences.

Firstly, nothing can find its way onto New Wikipedia unless it appears somewhere else, and somewhere else means on the Web. So New Wikipedia is not generating any new content at all! It has become more like perhaps Yahoo in its heyday, where it was an attempt to index and organise the information on and from the web.

Secondly, this means it is seriously skewed towards the last 20 years. Someone or something who has lived or happened in the last 20 years is far more likely to have reached New Wikipedia “notability” by being referred to in the press etc., with the articles available online. In contrast, someone of great “notability” living even in the middle of the last century is very unlikely to have any online presence, and therefore not be part of New Wikipedia History.

A third consequence of the two above is that people who might have usefully contributed their knowledge do not. Yes, I am talking about me, for example. There are people I know in Computing who were there are the start and shortly afterwards. Nobody I know would now do anything significant in trying to contribute to New Wikipedia – it is just too hard, with a low likelihood of success in getting the editors to accept the contribution. This is a Bad Thing; as I said, the excitement of Wikipedia was in that it actually captured stuff from experts. Now it is the very experts that used to contribute who shun it. And by the way, they are dying off, so all that knowledge is getting lost. So when you read that in practice there are very few people who contribute to New Wikipedia, be not surprised. They are the ignorant few, not the informed crowd source.

And by the way, don’t think that those golden nuggets of information from the early Wikipedia contributions stay there! They are being removed article by article as their lack of reference takes them below an acceptable level for the New Wikipedia.

Of course I understand some of why this has happened, not least because of the constant griping from people about the quality of the Wikipedia content. But it really pisses me off that the great innovative crowd-sourcing site has morphed into something that is very far from a real crowd-source, and in fact has left a vacuum where it used to be. And because it was once there, there is no chance of anything else replacing the need.

Or is there?

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