Law professor argues Wikipedia is bound to fail


In a journal article to be published later this year, Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman will argue that the popular, collaborative online encyclopedia is doomed to fail. Goldman believes Wikipedia is trapped by its increasing popularity.

8 Responses to “Law professor argues Wikipedia is bound to fail”

  1. Bobak says:

    I found it very disheartening this morning to hear the unbalanced piece criticizing Wikipedia solely based on the views of one law professor, Eric Goldman. As a lawyer (who went to a law school much higher ranked than Santa Clara), I find it curious that a law professor would be given the assumption of expertise. Simply asking your listeners for feedback after such a one-sided and logically questionable set of conclusions is disingenuous to the nature of National Public Radio. If you didn’t know already, a lot of Wikipedians are NPR listeners. As a response, I’ll be brief: as one of the so-called “few” core editors (and an Administrator, but that doesn’t give me any extra authority in my opinion), I think Goldman is completely off-base when he makes the future of Wikipedia either/or completely closed or completely open. He avoids the current lively, and very controversial discussion (that’s been ongoing for months) about flagged revisions (which would allow some “good” versions of pages to be the public face but allow open edits to a “working” version of each page to encourage input). That’s just one of many means being examined (but one of the most well known), yet Goldman ignores it and says all or nothing. Please, I enjoy Future Tense, but don’t allow people like this to dumb down the topics too much. This was as close to sensationalist as I’ve seen from your segment.

  2. Calvin says:

    It’s kind of troubling, isn’t it, to think that our efforts to create community and harness the energy of synergy and collaboration might be lost because there are those who want to destroy it or simply profit from it somehow?

    What exactly is the motive for spammers to “mess up” Wikipedia? I don’t quite get that.

  3. I have lived

    through a thousand Armageddons

    or at least

    ones that were called

    And have yet see

    in all my many years

    from one

    any fire or ash yet fall

  4. Sage Ross says:

    Ack! I agree with Bobak. It seems Professor Goldman just isn’t very familiar with the Wikipedia community and how it has evolved over the years. He also doesn’t appear to understand Flagged Revisions, a new feature that has the potential to both reduce the vandalism problem AND make Wikipedia more open.

    The project experienced explosive growth through early 2007, but has basically maintained the same level of activity since then. The rates of vandalism and new enthusiastic good editors tend to be linked. While the project is somewhat more popular than it was in early 2007, Wikipedia has basically saturated the market and traffic has grown only slowly since then. Meanwhile, the community is actually in a better position to deal with vandalism now than in the past, through a combination of the facts that Wikipedia is no longer so novel and the increasing sophistication of automated methods for screening out bad edits.

    As for the “old core” leaving, there isn’t much old core left. Even the dedicated core of Wikipedians has a relatively short half-life, and there are several generations of Wikipedians all present (some who joined early, 2001-2004, some who joined as Wikipedia was in the midst of its rise, 2005 to early 2007, and many who joined since community size stabilized in early 2007).

  5. Mason says:

    I didn’t feel that Future Tense was at fault just because the interviewee had an extremely biased opinion. John Gordon simply made him prove why he feels that Wikipedia is doomed and let the listeners decide for themselves if they agree (which I suspect most do not).

    I’m not a big Wikipedia user, but I don’t understand that arguments presented by Goldman saying that the site is doomed. He cites that the current core Editors are moving away and joining other sites, but why wouldn’t new editors join in to take their place if that is really true?

    @Calvin – there is tremendous benefit to spammers in messing up a high traffic site like Wikipedia to direct users to their own sites where they can try to trick them into installing malware or perform other malicious things.

  6. Tim says:

    I thought it was one sided and the either/or mantra was wrong. I think Wikipedia is doing great. Except for Flagged Revisions and other issues about wikipedia.

  7. Peter says:

    All information is subject to degradation whether through natural entropy or a conscious act of vandalism. I want updated, correct information and I love wikipedia for that but I wish someone could convince me that information applicability and integrity is not a losing battle. Maybe there is a way to allow free access, as is the current model, but have a graded system of how reliable the info is?

  8. TJGodel says:

    There is one important future scenario that professor Goldman seems to be unaware of and that is that corporations, educational institutions and other organizations may become major contributors to Wikipedia. I believe that this scenario is quietly underway without much notice.