Friday, February 29, 2008

The Charms of Wikipedia - The New York Review of Books

Excerpt from a NYRB review/Wikipedia snapshot:

Nowadays there are rules and policy banners at every turn—there are strongly urged warnings and required tasks and normal procedures and notability guidelines and complex criteria for various decisions—a symptom of something called instruction creep: defined in Wikipedia as something that happens "when instructions increase in number and size over time until they are unmanageable." John Broughton's book, at a mere 477 pages, cuts through the creep. He's got a whole chapter on how to make better articles ("Don't Suppress or Separate Controversy") and one on "Handling Incivility and Personal Attacks."

Broughton advises that you shouldn't write a Wikipedia article about some idea or invention that you've personally come up with; that you should stay away from articles about things or people you really love or really hate; and that you shouldn't use the encyclopedia as a PR vehicle—for a new rock band, say, or an aspiring actress. Sometimes Broughton sounds like a freshman English comp teacher, a little too sure that there is one right and wrong way to do things: Strunk without White. But honestly, Wikipedia can be confusing, and you need that kind of confidence coming from a user's guide.

The Charms of Wikipedia - The New York Review of Books

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