Ed Driscoll

The Faith-Based Encyclopedia

Over at TCS Daily Robert McHenry explores Wikipedia after the John Seigenthaler debacle and says that very little has changed.

How can it? The very concept is fatally flawed, McHenry notes:

A little more than a year ago I first wrote about Wikipedia. In that article I attempted to make two points: that the basic premise of the project is fatally flawed and can only be embraced as an article of faith, and that the project lacks a proper concern for ordinary users, those who are not in on the game.

The premise is this: By making every article open to the revisions, corrections, and updates offered by any and all users, the collective knowledge and wisdom of the whole community will find expression in each article. In short, every article will get better and better. The flaw is this: Many revisions, corrections, and updates are badly done or false. There is a simple reason for this: Not everyone who believes he knows something about Topic X actually does; and not everyone who believes he can explain Topic X clearly, can. People who believe things that are not the case are no less confident in their beliefs than those who happen to believe true things. (In case this point interests you, I have written extensively on it.) Consequently, it is far more reasonable to expect that, while initially poor articles may indeed improve over time, initially superior ones will degrade, with all tending to middling quality and subject to random fluctuations in quality. Note that this has nothing to do with the vandalism or the ideological