Saturday, August 05, 2006

The People's Republic of (Online) Knowledge

Stacy Schiff has written an amusing, informative, and (for the most part) appreciative essay on the Internet phenomenon known as Wikipedia. Some of the choicer tidbits:

  • Wikipedia gets more Internet traffic than, and the online versions of the NYT and the WSJ combined.
  • Wikipedia gets about 14,000 hits a second.
  • The House of Representatives (yes, the entire House of Representatives) has been banned from Wikipedia several times for tampering with their entries.
  • The most prolific Wikipedian is a 24-year-old graduate of the University of Toronto who has written or edited more than 72,000 articles.
  • Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's founder, is famously unwilling to ban anyone from contributing; but in 2004, Wales finally bowed to necessity created by vandalism and abusive posting and formalized a guideline known as "3R" into an actual rule: Any user who "reverts" (reverses a change made by another Wikipedian) text more than three times in one day is banned from editing or writing for 24 hours.

The last, especially, is what I find most charming and refreshing and attractive about Wikipedia -- or, more accurately, Wikipedia's founder. Even when Jimmy Wales puts his foot down, he's a sucker for freedom of expression.

No comments: