Wikipedia – Reboot7

More notes and interpretations. For more stuff, try Technorati, which is pulling up lots of stuff from people here.

The afternoon keynote is from Jimbo Wales, from Wikipedia “feeely licensed encyclopedia”. The system is expanding to more than jus thte encyclopedia, covering dictionares, books, news etc. 500 million page views monthly. Wikipedia is almost all done by volunteers, only 1 full time employee. Growth has been ompressive, now comparable with about.com, which got sold recently for lots.

I’ve just been introducing the idea of a wiki to brand teams at work, and they just loved it. From starting to think about a centralised route of information, they grasped very quickly the strength of a shared system – and now want to try it.

Comparison of models – emergent model – needs reputation, and users are tinly. A community model has reputation being an outgrowth of human interactions and users are powerful and respected.

In the english wikipedia, the are 0.7% of the people doing >50% edits, 2% >75%. On the Danish version, 3 people are responsible for 33% of edits. So we do get a driving force , but you can still do it anomously – allows people to say things they may not want everyone to know.

“But what about quality control”. The history helps, the cmparisons help – allows user to make more of an objective PoV onthe changes, you can see what people think and argue about. “the community determines how it wants to interact” – the discussion based process for deletions allows judgements to be made, more than democracy where it works on stright votes – there’s a moderator who can take judgement calls based on trust.

Another key concept is about shared ownership – the articles are owned by the community so are looked after by the ownership. So this is group pride? This is tied into the social concept of “Neutral Point of View” – no stands, present both sides. Allows people to work together in a way that allows some recognition of differences. And a final foundation is the fact that is all shared software and done under GPL licences – so the content and the code can be taken easily – the suggestion is that this drives good stewardship.

A mix of “consensus, democracy, aristocracy and monarchy”. The monarch is Jimbo. And he is trying to become more of a constitutional monarch, letting power move to the community. The community values the results over the process – they want to create the info.

“how can such a large community scale” – software features (automating some management); policy of mediation and arbitration (ban the troublemakers?) and an “atmosphere of love and respect”…mmmm to don’t here that often in the software inductry.

This talk is far more like a lecture than many of the previous ones, seems more like a sales talk despite the anecdotes and the good info.

Onto the questions.

“is there opposition from governments” A = no, China has blocked them twice, but is back OK. Otherwise no issues, and fear is more that govs will take credit.

“will it ever become fixed” = no, but they will take snapshots of articles when it is ‘good enough’, to be shared through the non technical route (not everyone has web access)

“what about metadata and more structured content” = there’s category tagging, but tags are reviewed and things can be moved to a different structure.. Making the data be more easily used – they are looking to explore this.

“whats the reaction to the WikiNews from papers/content owners” = it appears they have not really understood the size. questions are about trust etc, but no real scathing attacks -that may be because of their “humanitarian” agenda.

“does wikipedias interface limit the users to those that are more technically minded” Jimbo thinks it does, Ithinnk its because they are the first people to discover it. Show it to people who have never seen it – they get it. Quickly. It’s more about the visibility.

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