August 30, 2004
The power of millions of geeks united
A few days ago, Al Fasoldt wrote an open letter to librarians in the Syracuse Post-Standard to not use Wikipedia on the grounds that it couldn't be trusted (The Wikipedia is an encyclopedia editted by the users). Challenged by some denizens of the web,
Fasoldt Alex Halavais entered thirteen changes on thirteen different entries hoping to prove the unreliabilty of Wikipedia. They were all found and corrected within two hours.
Thanks to Cory for the tip.
-- Update --
Ernest Miller, always indispensible, gives a nice wrap-up of the events.
-- Update 2 --
Posted by Casper at August 30, 2004 09:54 PM
I've been corrected by the author; it was Alex Halavais who made the changes to Wikipedia, not Al Fasoldt. My bad, and it's been corrected in the main article.
Just a quick correction. I was the person who challenged Al Fasoldt to make one single change to Wikipedia and he refused (along with a series of insults directed at me, which have not yet stopped coming). As far as I can tell, Al refuses to even look at Wikipedia (I've asked him to repeatedly). So, it wasn't he who took up the challenge, but Alex Halavais, just to see what happened.
Al continues to insist that this simply could not be, and does not care to know about Alex's test at all. As far as he is concerned anything that proves him wrong simply doesn't exist. Emails that ask him point blank to explain these things are returned with insults. Such is life.
I didn't believe Wiki could work either. Then I happened upon vandalism to one of my favorite Wikis (Fireflywiki.org). I read the instructions, clicked the restore button, left the site owner a note and went on my way. The site vandalism was up all of 3 hours.
I'm astounded and impressed, both by the ease of use and the general supportiveness of Wiki communities. Owners still need to be vigilant, but wow -- fixing errors is really easy!
Consider me a Wiki-convert.