June 6, 2005
The Authority Debate: A Chronological Link List
Initial Blog Responses
Doctorow, Cory. “Journalist: Wikipedia is ‘outrageous,’ ‘repugnant,’ and ‘dangerous’.” BoingBoing. 28 Aug. 2004. http://www.boingboing.net/2004/08/28/journalist_wikipedia.html. 6 June 2005.
News of the debate moves to the blogosphere with this post to BoingBoing. It contains a summary of the Fasoldt/Technodirt debate, but does not go further.
Ito, Joi. “Wikipedia Attacked by Ignorant Reporter.” Joi Ito’s Web. 8/29/04 (JST). http://joi.ito.com/archives/2004/08/29/wikipedia_attacked_by_ignorant_reporter.html. 6 June 2005.
Ito provides the usual summary, and then provides support through references to the authorityWikipedians earn through participation:
Tradition[al] authority is gained through a combination of talent, hard work and politics. Wikipedia and many open source projects gain their authority through the collective scrutiny of thousands of people. Although it depends a bit on the field, the question is whether something is more likely to be true coming from a source whose resume sounds authoritative or a source that has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people (with the ability to comment) and has survived.
He also referenced the Gillmor article and the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica prize awarded to Wikipedia that year.
Powers, Shelley. “Truth and Authority”. Burningbird. 28 Aug. 2004. http://weblog.burningbird.net/archives/2004/08/28/truth-and-authority. 6 June 2005.
The popular Burningbird also notes the previous posts. Most interestingly, she points to another article by Fasoldt writted under the pseudonym Dr. Gizmo, in which he defends Wikipedia. (No link available.) She then turns to a short discussion of truth v. authority, noting that both are relative at best. She pronounces Wikipedia a good source, but not the good source.
Mayfield, Ross. “Wikipedia Reputation and the Wemedia Project.”. Corante: Many 2 Many. 29 Aug. 2004. http://www.corante.com/many/archives/2004/08/29/wikipedia_reputation_and_the_wemedia_project.php. 6 June 2005.
Mayfield specifically tags Wikipedia as “collaborative editing”, and further notes that “Coupling emergent content development and formal editorial process is a very competitive business model for print. But if the public learns to use and trust the content that emerges in Wikipedia as an authority, it is even more disruptive.” He then traces the previous discussion from Fasoldt through Powers and briefly wonders if codifying reputation will constrain production within the Wikipedia community.
Havalais, Alex. “The Isuzu Experiment.” Alex Havalais, a thaumaturgical compendium. 29 Aug. 2004. http://alex.halavais.net/news/index.php?p=794. 6 June 2005.
Havalais details his experiment to determine the self-correcting potential of Wikipedia by entering incorrect information on 13 pages and seeing how long it takes to be corrected. He planned to give the experiment two weeks, but all changes were found and fixed within hours. (See also Wikipedia proves its amazing self-healing powers, BoingBoing 8/30.)
Brooke, Collin. “Better to be ignored?” Collin vs. Blog. 29 Aug. 2004. http://wrt-brooke.syr.edu/cgbvb/archives/000311.html. 6 June 2005.
Brooke points to a false binary in Fasoldt’s arguments: “Authority/trustworthiness/reputation/credibility is something that pre-exists the research.” Credibility is demonstrated through rigor as well as scholarly conflict and resolution, not through citing ‘authoritative’ sources. Wikipedia’s advantage is that this scholarly back-and-forth is visible to the public through the article histories, allowing researchers to make individual decisions concerning authority. He further suggests teaching critical thinking by assigning students to research the validity of Wikipedia posts and, if they find information missing, to contribute it themselves.