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An Argument for Knols Over Wikipedia and Citizendium

We haven’t quite got this whole open collaborative knowledge thing worked out. Wikipedia’s spectacular success created concerns of authenticity and gave rise to Citizendium (which relies on experts to validate or approve articles). Google’s decision to launch Knol suggests they are concerned about Wikipedia’s popularity as a first choice for information (a title Google certainly doesn’t want to relinquish). EdTechDev argues for Knols Over Wikipedia and Citizendium based on the ability for individuals with a bias to slant information sources excessively in a preferred direction. I can see the basis for this concern. It stems from the perceived failing of Wikipedia as an accurate and reliable source. But I’m concerned about what we lose in the shift back to a system of selected experts. While I desire accurate information, for me the big lesson of Wikipedia has always been threefold: access, collaboration, and democracy. Any model of information authenticity needs to be worked out within the framework of those three elements. Google’s Knol succeeds only on access.


  1. Dylan wrote:

    The main issue I have in going directly to a source such as wikipedia is that the internal search engine is much poorer at finding what I want in wikipedia than google.

    The ability to search wikipedia articles specifically, or to exclude them, is one of the many reasons I don’t think people will literally type in the first step to satisfy their information needs.

    I also find that wikipedia is a good starting point for, say, reading about rare medical conditions- often there is more general information than in easily accessible equivalents. However, supplementary information such as treatment regimes, doses etc. clearly can’t be relied on from such a source.

    Just as google has provided a good starting point for web searches, wikipedia provides a good starting point for web resources- complemented by others.

    Friday, December 28, 2007 at 7:22 pm | Permalink
  2. David Gerard wrote:

    I speak here as a volunteer press contact for Wikipedia … we really succeed on accessibility: Britannica may be the gold standard we aim for, but Wikipedia’s right there in everyone’s browser. Convenience always wins. See worse is better. That said, we *try* to be as good as we can. Really!

    Friday, December 28, 2007 at 8:44 pm | Permalink