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September 27, 2004
Ethan Zuckerman on bias in Wikipedia
Good Ethan Zuckerman post on systemic bias in the Wikipedia, and on a proposal called CROSSBOW (Committee Regarding Overcoming Serious Systemic Bias On Wikipedia), to address the problem:
Amazing though it is, Wikipedia is not flawless. It’s got a problem common to almost all peer production projects: people work on what they want to work on. (This “problem” is probably the secret sauce that makes peer production projects work… which is what makes it such a difficult problem to tackle.) Most of the people who work on Wikipedia are white, male technocrats from the US and Europe. They’re especially knowledgeable about certain subjects - technology, science fiction, libertarianism, life in the US/Europe - and tend to write about these subjects. As a result, the resource tends to be extremely deep on technical topics and shallow in other areas. Nigeria’s brilliant author, Chinua Achebe gets a 1582 byte “stub” of an article, while the GSM mobile phone standard gets 16,500 bytes of main entry, with dozens of related articles.
It is the hallmark of working open source projects that criticism tends to lead to better code rather than just more arguing; the Wikipedia seems to have that same pattern down.
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