Wikipedia's Real Problem: Nerd Bias
from the tongue-in-cheek dept
There's been plenty of debate over the past couple of years about the merits of Wikipedia, generally focusing on how "trustworthy" the site is because of its anonymous contributors and lack of professional editorial review. But SomethingAwful has cut to the heart of Wikipedia's problems: its apparent nerd bias (via TechCrunch). The site, rather amusingly, compared the length of articles on related topics, such as modern warfare and lightsaber combat, or Buzz Aldrin and Jean-Luc Picard, concluding that the "nerdy" topics were more thoroughly written. Of course, many of the topics the article highlights reflect more of a pop culture bias (such as Aristotle vs. Oprah), while the sheer length of the article isn't a real comprehensive test of quality. The underlying point, though, is that people contribute in areas which they're passionate about, and in which they have some knowledge. While on the face of it, this piece would appear to give more ammo to Wikipedia's critics, perhaps the point to take away from it is that the site can serve as a useful reference on areas that tap the knowledge of its contributors, and illustrate that the community is capable of creating comprehensive reference works. While the SomethingAwful piece oversimplifies and overstates the gap in quality among the supposedly nerd and non-nerd topics, the challenge for Wikipedia is to keep growing the community, so level of knowledge that's being shared across the board continues to rise.