May 8, 2013

Who really runs Wikipedia?

I love Wikipedia and use it all the time. The article from the Economist below is interesting.

"Wikipedia advertises itself as a bias-free encyclopaedia which allows any internet denizen to contribute well-sourced facts or modify existing entries. In reality, however, the site has only about 35,000 English-language and 70,000 total active editors (as every contributor is known). With few exceptions, any visitor may edit the text of an entry so long as he follows the formatting, style and editorial form. Changes typically appear immediately, but modifications or entire entries may be rejected by other editors. That in turn may lead to consensus-driven votes and lengthy discussions. A common point of contention is whether a topic or person doesn't meet Wikipedia's detailed test for "notability". Editors who register an account, and who contribute regularly and in a manner that conforms to the nature of Wikipedia, gain implicit authority. Some editors become "administrators"—about 1,400 are at the moment—able to freeze or delete entries. Administrators have a big technical stick to ensure that when "edit wars" erupt or inappropriate changes are continuously applied, they can prod or truncheon users. Users may be banned or put under strictures, while administrators themselves can have their actions overridden by any of the 41 demiurges known as "stewards", a 12-member Olympian arbitration counsel, or the site's founder and chief deity, Jimmy Wales."

The Economist explains

Who really runs Wikipedia?

Given that no one is precisely in charge of anything, who has responsibility for the accuracy or intent of any entry?