June 8, 2005
The Faith-Based Encyclopedia
McHenry, Robert. “The Faith-Based Encyclopedia”. Tech Central Station. 15 Nov. 2004. http://www.techcentralstation.com/111504A.html. 8 June 2005.
McHenry, a former editor-in-chief of Encyclopedia Britannica, entirely dismisses Wikipedia as an authoritative resource. His primary concerns center around the fact that it is impossible to determine the expertise levels of the contributors or to ensure correction of incorrect articles. He calls the Wikipedian procedure of organic improvement a “unspecified quasi-Darwinian process” that has no hope of ensuring eventual accuracy. In particular, he takes issue with Wikipedia’s policy of encouraging people to post rough drafts for improvement, claiming that this is a disservice to readers who come in search of accurate information. In his review of one article, he points not only to factual errors but also to typos and style errors as well as awkward writing — all of which are prevented through the formal process of encyclopedias such as Britannica.
His concerns are founded in a very traditional view of knowledge production, and his tone is vitriolic — he goes so far as to compare Wikipedia to a public restroom, where it’s not possible to know who used the facilities previously.