Friday, July 25, 2008

Wikipedia vs. Knol: Jimbo Wales edition

Jimmy Jimbo WalesRachel Marsden has posted a Knol on Jimmy Wales (photo at right), the co-founder of Wikipedia. As you may recall, the point of Knol is to provide a more accurate source of information, one that is not subject to the inaccuracies and personal rancor that some attribute to Wikipedia.

Here’s how Marsden, who previously was in a relationship with Wales, describes him in her Knol, titled “Jimmy Wales (Jimbo Wales)”:

Jimmy (Jimbo) Wales is the Co-Founder of the online libel board, Wikipedia: The website any loser can use to smear people who are more successful than them.

One might note that this description, while of debatable accuracy, is unarguably suffused with personal rancor. The rest of the article reads:

Unlike Wikipedia, this article will be updated with accurate, relevant, encyclopedic information. The subject can send me information about himself and I'll decide what's worthy of posting here, after debating it vigorously with myself. Certain co-authors who know the subject well will also be invited to contribute. But again, we'll keep this collaboration closed to "respect human dignity". As "God Queen" and "Spiritual Leader" for "Jimmy Wales", that will be my guiding principle.

Based on my reading, I wonder if Marsden will be able to uphold the promise of that first sentence.

The point of all this is that Knol is already falling prey to the Wikipedia problem it puports to correct. As Elinor Mills puts it:

It will be interesting to see how the Marsden-Wales fracas plays out on Knol. Google's response didn't give me any confidence that the system won't be widely abused. And it's likely that people who disagree with my knol will create one of their own with contradictory conclusions.

1 comment:

Wallis said...

I find myself wondering if Knol will actually draw a a higher tendency for vandalism, because of the connection to Google (therefore, much more public-eye) and because Wikipedia has already drawn so many of the good, free talents. There are only so many people willing to document the world for free.