Wikipedia

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Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

Wikipedia is a Web-based, freely editable encyclopedia by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation.

2001–2010[edit]

Hayek's work on price theory is central to my own thinking about how to manage the Wikipedia project.  …  [O]ne can't understand my ideas about Wikipedia without understanding Hayek.
Jimmy Wales

2004[edit]

  • However closely a Wikipedia article may at some point in its life attain to reliability, it is forever open to the uninformed or semiliterate meddler.
  • The user who visits Wikipedia to learn about some subject, to confirm some matter of fact, is rather in the position of a visitor to a public restroom. It may be obviously dirty, so that he knows to exercise great care, or it may seem fairly clean, so that he may be lulled into a false sense of security. What he certainly does not know is who has used the facilities before him.

2006[edit]

If I want to say he didn't that's my right, and now, thanks to Wikipedia—it's also a fact.
Stephen Colbert on the ownership of slaves by George Washington
  • For some reason people who spend 40 years learning everything they can about, say, the Peloponnesian War – and indeed, advancing the body of human knowledge – get all pissy when their contributions are edited away by Randy in Boise who heard somewhere that sword-wielding skeletons were involved. And they get downright irate when asked politely to engage in discourse with Randy until the sword-skeleton theory can be incorporated into the article without passing judgment.
  • Wikipedia's promise is nothing less than the liberation of human knowledge - both by incorporating all of it through the collaborative process, and by freely sharing it with everybody who has access to the internet. This is a radically popular idea.
    • The Economist, 20 April 2006.
  • When I visited the offices [in St. Petersburg, Florida] in March, the walls were bare, the furniture battered. With the addition of a dead plant, the suite could pass for a graduate-student lounge.
  • If I want to say he didn't that's my right, and now, thanks to Wikipedia — it's also a fact.
  • In the media age, everybody was famous for 15 minutes. In the Wikipedia age, everybody can be an expert in five minutes. Special bonus: You can edit your own entry to make yourself seem even smarter.

2007[edit]

But how does such a polycentric—even anarchic—system, composed of editors acting independently and for their own reasons, result in such an utterly useful resource?  The answer goes back to the Hayekian inspiration for the project.  Because editors receive both psychological satisfaction and material usefulness from their contributions, the project has grown to include safeguards that help guarantee that the development of the project will move in a positive direction—towards broad, accurate articles that depend on reliable, verifiable sources.
Dick Clark
  • Hofstadter: The entry is filled with inaccuracies, and it kind of depresses me.
    Solomon: So fix it.
    Hofstadter: The next day someone will fix it back.
  • Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject, so you know you are getting the best possible information.
  • You just can't put something with commercial motive into Wikipedia. Admitting it is hardly better; it is still a crime. The Wikipedians and bloggers will attack hard and they will deserve what they get.
  • You set up this fantastic site, with people sending information all around the world, and you don't make any money of it! It's practically an un-American activity!
  • There are a lot of bad things said about Wikipedia, the ninth most-visited destination on the internet.  An encyclopedia that anyone can edit, critics argue, is one that is vulnerable to endless mistakes.  Such criticisms have been raised by skeptics since Wikipedia's creation in 2001.  …  While that ultimate goal imagined by Wales for Wikipedia has not yet come to fruition, there is no questioning the breadth and usefulness of Wikipedia.  Those who refused to believe that a user-generated encyclopedia could compete with the monolithic, traditional encyclopedia written by experts and organized by professional editors, were no doubt shocked when Nature magazine published a 2006 article comparing Wikipedia to the well-known Encyclopedia BritannicaThe article concluded that Wikipedia articles were comparable in accuracy and thoroughness to those of the older, paper encyclopedia.
  • The man credited with founding Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales…was a finance major at Auburn University when the Mises Institute's Mark Thornton suggested he read "The Use of Knowledge in Society," a now-famous essay written by Austro-libertarian economist and Nobel laureate Friedrich von Hayek.  The essay argues that prices in the market represent a spontaneous order that results from the interaction of individuals with diverse wants, allowing them to cooperate to achieve complex goals.  According to a June 2007 Reason magazine interview, this insight of Hayek's is what led Wales to found Wikipedia.  The rather lofty vision that inspired Wales?  "Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge.  That's what we're doing."
  • But how does such a polycentric—even anarchic—system, composed of editors acting independently and for their own reasons, result in such an utterly useful resource?  The answer goes back to the Hayekian inspiration for the project.  Because editors receive both psychological satisfaction and material usefulness from their contributions, the project has grown to include safeguards that help guarantee that the development of the project will move in a positive direction—towards broad, accurate articles that depend on reliable, verifiable sources.
  • One could very aptly describe the Wikipedia system for directing the development of the project as being a common law system of sorts.  The encyclopedia has basic policies—the constitutional law of Wikipedia—which require that articles be written from a neutral point of view, make use of verifiable sources, and include no original research.  …  Whenever a content dispute does arise between editors on the "talk" pages that accompany each article, there are a host of dispute resolution options available.
  • Wikipedia's reflection of market dynamics is most easily observed in what many people view as the project's weakest areas: obscure articles that draw little traffic.  In articles about third-rate garage bands and other topics of limited interest, one will often find factual and typographical errors at a much higher rate than in high-traffic articles such as those on "England" or "Barry Bonds."  The much higher demand for information about the latter topics means that many more eyes will be combing those much-demanded articles for mistakes.  Since Wikipedia is open to correction by anyone, it stands to reason that the articles attracting more potential editors will be of a higher quality.  Rather than a failure, this is a great demonstration of Wikipedia's efficient allocation of resources.
  • The Tsunami article is well researched and extensive, only at two places a little inaccurate. The scientific Wikipedia articles are, according to my judgement, almost always good.
  • The article [Martin Luther] is ample and solidly written. Someone was really occupied with Luther and read some church histories. I give extra points for quoting from sources and the pictures.
  • There is nothing to add to that entry [Marinade]. In my view it contains all important information. I use Wikipedia often for food chemistry. Sometimes you find something you didn't even think about.

2008[edit]

  • I think there’s more information about culture in Wikipedia than anywhere else in the world, ever.
    • Tyler Cowen "Why everything has changed: the recent revolution in cultural economics" in Journal of Cultural Economics (2008), 32, p. 266, DOI 10.1007/s10824-008-9074-y.
  • This term "democratic" gets tossed around a lot, usually in a positive, "power to the people rather than some arbitrary ruler" sense.  By that meaning, Wikipedia is indeed democratic.  Yet, unlike a state democracy, 51% at the polls will not necessarily trump a Wikipedia adversary.  So in the sense that the word "democracy" comes loaded with a "one man, one vote" ideology, Wikipedia is not democratic at all.  And it is a good thing that Wikipedia isn't a democracy.

2009[edit]

It's said that aeronautical theory says bumblebees ought not to be able to fly. Likewise, the idea that a useful, serious reference work could emerge from the contributions of thousands of "ordinary" internet users, many without scholarly qualifications, would until comparatively recently have been dismissed as absurd.
John Naughton
  • It's said that aeronautical theory says bumblebees ought not to be able to fly. Likewise, the idea that a useful, serious reference work could emerge from the contributions of thousands of "ordinary" internet users, many without scholarly qualifications, would until comparatively recently have been dismissed as absurd.
  • Even the founders of Wikipedia had no clue when they started the project of what it would accomplish. They dug a hole to find water, and struck oil instead.
  • We now see the strong emergence of the Social Web instead of the Semantic Web, and a proposal has been made to use Wikipedia, the largest hierarchical collection of information in the world, as bottom-up input for the ontologies required to give shape to the Semantic Web.
  • Wikipedia is effectively one-of-a-kind. No other mass-market or topically broad wikis have had meaningful success to date. Even Wikimedia's other wiki projects are not nearly as active as Wikipedia. If successful wikis are rare, Wikipedia might be a one-in-a-million lightning strike — some unique combination of factors succeeded in this case, but those circumstances are unlikely to replicate. If so, Wikipedia's rarity might also highlight its fragility.
    • Goldman, Eric, Wikipedia's Labor Squeeze and its Consequences, 8, Journal on Telecommunications and High Technology Law 
  • Ban Wikipedia youth is like forbidding rock and roll.

2010[edit]

So I finally gave in and coughed up a donation for Wikipedia.  It was no trouble at all, and felt good.  …  It's true that giving this way doesn't make rational sense according to a neoclassical idea of what constitutes economic rationality.  Wikipedia is free and it will be there whether I give or not.  The same might be said of the Mises Institute.  If all we cared about were commercial exchange, I have every incentive to use the free good and never pay.  There is no harm done in free riding, right?  Mises himself had a broader view of rationality.  He said that all actions are rational from the point of view of the actor.  I'm glad to embrace that idea.  Giving in this way is not strictly a capitalist act if you define capitalism as only commercial exchange based on contract.  But if we see capitalism as the voluntary sector of society characterized by private property relationships, this kind of micro-giving is part of that.
Jeffrey A. Tucker
  • When I write, I consult Wikipedia 30–40 times a day, because it is really helpful. When I write, I don't remember if someone was born in the 6th century or the 7th; or maybe how many n's are in "Goldmann"… Just a few years ago, for this kind of thing you could waste a lot of time.
  • So I finally gave in and coughed up a donation for Wikipedia.  It was no trouble at all, and felt good.  Now I have a sense that I'm a partial owner—a stakeholder of sorts—in this apparatus that I use every day.  …  Giving like this can be habit forming.  …  It's true that giving this way doesn't make rational sense according to a neoclassical idea of what constitutes economic rationality.  Wikipedia is free and it will be there whether I give or not.  The same might be said of the Mises Institute.  If all we cared about were commercial exchange, I have every incentive to use the free good and never pay.  There is no harm done in free riding, right?

    Mises himself had a broader view of rationality.  He said that all actions are rational from the point of view of the actor.  I'm glad to embrace that idea.  Giving in this way is not strictly a capitalist act if you define capitalism as only commercial exchange based on contract.  But if we see capitalism as the voluntary sector of society characterized by private property relationships, this kind of micro-giving is part of that.

  • Wikipedia is, for many users, the primary site for information on the Web (...) At present, Wikipedia hosts more than 2.9 million English-language articles, with a total of 13 million articles available in more than 250 different languages (...) Wikipedia is the second-most searched site on the Internet, behind only Google.
    • Michael Miller, Sams Teach Yourself Wikipedia in 10 Minutes, Pearson Education, inc., 2010, ISBN 978-0-672-33123-7, pages 3 & 5.
  • As Wikipedia founder Jim Wales revealed, back in 2005, 50 percent of all Wikipedia edits were made by just 0.7 percent of users; 75 percent of all articles were written by less than 2 percent of the user base. These numbers reveal that the active Wikipedia community is a lot smaller than you might think. It's understandable, then, for this active group to be somewhat self-centered, and not always accommodating to new or casual users.
    • Michael Miller, Sams Teach Yourself Wikipedia in 10 Minutes, Pearson Education, inc., 2010, ISBN 978-0-672-33123-7, page 163.

Tenth anniversary: 15 January 2011[edit]

  • The kind of social production that Wikipedia represents has turned from a laughable utopia to a practical reality. That's the biggest gift that Wikipedia has given to us – a vision of practical utopia that allows us to harness the more sociable, human aspects of who we are to effective collective action.
  • Wikipedia underscores an evolutionary lesson: We've always gotten farther as a species collaborating than going it alone. [...] In the past, the groups that cooperated best lived longer and had more kids – and we inherited those tendencies. Groups would correct cheaters (people who didn't share info or goods) through social pressure. So Wikipedia is like humanity's social nature writ large electronically, complete with ongoing disputes and corrections.
  • The fundamental flaw in the way Wikipedians think about what they do is that they are entirely absorbed in rules and procedures and arguing fine points with one another and earning merit points; it has all the flavour, as has been suggested before, of a great online game. Users – the ostensible audience – are hardly considered.
  • An authority isn't a person or institution who is always right – ain't no such animal. An authority is a person or institution who has a process for lowering the likelihood that they are wrong to acceptably low levels. [...] And this is what I think is really worth celebrating as Wikipedia begins its second decade. It took one of the best ideas of the last 500 years – peer review – and expanded its field of operation so dramatically that it changed the way authority is configured.
  • Every single day for the last 10 years Wikipedia has got better because someone – several million someones in all – decided to make it better. [...] Wikipedia is best understood not as a product with an organisation behind it, but as an activity that happens to leave an encyclopedia in its wake.

Contemporary: 2011–[edit]

2011[edit]

2013[edit]

2014[edit]

  • Dealing with the Wikipedians is like walking into a mental hospital: the floors are carpeted, the walls are nicely padded, but you know there’s a pretty good chance at any given moment one of the inmates will pick up a knife.
    • Anonymous Wiki-PR client, cited by Judith-Newman in "Wikipedia-Mania", New York Times, January 9, 2014.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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