Psst! Wikis Can Be Edited. Yes, By Anyone.

from the how-it-all-works dept

It seems like wikis are becoming the new “blogs” this year. Remember a few years back when just about every company or organization felt the need to launch a blog because that’s what companies did? This was even if they didn’t have a reason to blog, or people who were interested in blogging. It seems like the same thing is happening with wikis nowadays. As the British government continues its often misguided attempts at embracing new technologies, apparently the secretary of state for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs decided it would be a good idea to set up a wiki about “environmental contracts,” naively assuming it would lead to a high level of debate and discussion about the topic. Instead, as most of you would probably expect, it was defaced. Not just that, but being a political topic, people used the wiki to simply complain about such contracts, rather than “debate” them. With all that happening, the British gov’t minister who put up the wiki has shut it down. It’s not entirely clear what people are thinking about when they put up such sites. Wikis are good for certain things — mainly collaborative efforts toward a certain goal. They are not about debate and discussion for the most part — especially in the political arena. Having the government embrace new technology is a good thing, but they should at least learn what the technology is about before they embrace it.

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Comments on “Psst! Wikis Can Be Edited. Yes, By Anyone.”

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Anonymous Coward says:

The best thing about a wiki is that it provides an interface capable of accumulating vast amounts of information on an infinite number of topics, more than any standard (and VERY expensive) encyclopedia. The problem is that there are some people out there who just can’t leave well enough alone and have to cause trouble wherever they go, ruining good things for all the rest of us. And of course there are also those who think they know everything about something, but really don’t have a clue. In a perfect world, a site like Wikipedia would be the ultimate information source. Then again, in a perfect world, everybody would know everything and wouldn’t need an encyclopedia. ^_^

Anyway, I do think there’s a time and a place for wikis but I believe that because of the popularity, they’re being used in places they shouldn’t be. I also think they need to be monitored from time to time to keep things from getting too far out of hand.

cj (user link) says:

Excellent Political Wiki

Pete Ashdown is running for US Senate in Utah this year. His site has an excellent political wiki on it. I think it is an awesome idea. Then again I (unlike some people, BHDave) prefer NOT having my news handed down to me by Rupert Murdoch. Its just a thing with me.

Information, like debate, should be an evaluative process, not a static one. And just because there are some immature people who can not handle the responsibility of having a voice and venue, does NOT mean it should be ruined for the rest of us.

Josef K says:

About Defra

Defra is a farce. Money it receives from the EU hasn’t been given to farmers for 5 years, whilst a large chunk of it has been paid to consultants to figure out how best to get that money to farmers.

In one Defra office, there’s an investigation into office hijinks including naked vaulting over filing cabinets, drinking during working hours, and leaving cups of vomit to putrify. This has been going on for years.

So, the fact that farmers and other people feel angry enough to deface this latest PR excersise isn’t surprising.

The British Government does have a few excellent IT projects, and amazingly they’re the ones that distribute information to the public (unfortunately, not the ones that actually do much). Hansard is one good example:

That said, thankfully, the Biometric Identity Card scheme appears to be failing on technical and managerial grounds, so maybe it isn’t all bad news.

anon says:

Wikipedia is evil

Wikipedia sucks. It is revisionist history written by people with agendas. Don’t you realize that governments and corporations have teams of middle aged white men in cubicals posing as Wikipedia editors? They fix some trivial vandlism to score points, then they censor the Iraq war article, delete references to the Manning Memo, torture, or any truth that they are ashamed of.

Wikipedia is a disservice to humanity in that people assume that popular is accurate, when really, as soon as a site become popular it is manipulated by those with hidden agendas.

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