Bad Air Driving Out Good

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Bad Air Driving Out Good

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This morning's Financial Times has an article by John Gapper, "A New Entrant to the Knowledge Market". Wikipedia , an online open source encyclopedia has 441,000 articles free to anyone. The catch is the articles are written by individuals with varying degrees of expertise in the subject they write about. There is no viable method of checking every entry so any article could be wrong until is is checked and rewritten with factual information, Not that every article is wrong but you should be very careful about using or quoting information.

Even though this project gets a tremendous number of visits and holds great promise a couple of caveats are in order. "The first is that, no matter how good the material on it may be, it is not trusted by academic, librarians or teachers because of its lack of peer review--the fact checking process under which articles are written by experts and reviewed by other experts before publication. The second is the 'dominance of difficult people' in the community that run Wikipedia". The author refers to "anti-elitist" feelings of many contributors.

I have been on email forums which sometimes exhibit the same problem. A small number of people can dominate discussion with their anti-establishment feelings, some of which are valid but usually wind up sounding tedious after the third verse. Bad attitudes can wear down and drive out good intentions and ideas. Open forums and open projects have a place to air ideas. But eventually you have to sort through it all and separate the wheat from the chaff. That which is good and true will prove worthy of keeping. Once again, it is "by their fruits you shall know them."