Monday, September 04, 2006

Irwin's death shows Wikipedia at its worst

Wikipedia is a phenomenon and an immensely valuable source of information. But only some types of information.

I've long thought that its news coverage is a real weakness, to the point of being detrimental to the effort of the site as an online encyclopedia.

Today was a good example.

Steve Irwin, otherwise known as the Crocodile Hunter was killed whilst diving off the Queensland coast. Here's how News.com.au broke the news.

And below is a screenshot of how it first appeared on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia closed off the editing function to anonymous users: "Due to recent vandalism, editing of this article by anonymous or newly registered users is temporarily disabled," it said.

Click on the thumb to see a larger version.

Steve Irwin's death as reported by Wikipedia

4 comments:

Cameron Reilly said...

Actually Hugh I think this is a great example of Wikipedia at its best! The information was updated fast and furious and the idiots were filtered out extremely quickly. What more can you ask for?

hm said...

It certainly shows that the community cleanup mechanism works, but I really think it highlights a problem with Wikipedia as a breaking news source.

Cameron Reilly said...

well wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a breaking news source. It just happens to get updated really REALLY fast compared to encyclopedias of old.

hm said...

Nice try. But Wikinews is where you'd expect to get this treatment. Blurring the boundaries doesn't do justice to Wikipedia. (And as a news source Wikinews needs to be treated carefully.) Wikipedia is an immensely valuable encyclopedic resource. It's just not a good breaking news source.