18.7.05

A Wiki Way To Waste Time

I love this site. So much information on it … it’s profile was raised (well, raised to the extent that I become aware of it!) after 7/7 when it had already begun to reflect the events of the day in an historical past tense just hours after the blasts. What’s great about it is that it harks back to the contextual hypertext of the original web model. In many ways blogs do too and this is a lost art on so many pages which are just copy and menus … even celebrated news sites such as the BBC News site could benefit from good contextual linking but then there is a risk that text can get swamped with links. The other major selling point for me is that the site is free and users can effectively contribute to its genesis. I, for example, recently contributed an entry for the village of Wormshill in Kent.

Of course, there’s a downside to this in that information isn’t readily verifiable but, and without looking through the FAQs, I’m sure there are ways that Wikipedia overcome this. There is always the possibility that someone can check and amend the entry anyway so hopefully philanthropic users will ensure the validity and reliability of the entries evolves naturally.

In recent weeks the site’s provided me with answers to some of life’s taxing questions such as “What’s the difference between a horse and a pony or a ship and a boat?” and “What’s the Latin for ‘see above’ ?“

My only criticism is the search engine; it’s not quite up to Google standard. A lot of results come through with the same title and the relevance scoring isn’t up to scratch. It didn’t stop me from haemorrhaging about ten hours of my life this weekend though in browsing.


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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wikipedia is great, isn't it?

As for verifiability, well, it never can be 100% as long as people edit in real time, but it works a whole lot better than it seems it oughtta. And it's a great starting point for finding other sources of information and useful search phrases, even if you don't trust everything that's there.

Read their replies to common objections to get a good dose of answers to give to people who question you about how and why it works.

smorgasbord-design said...

Just seen another blogger who seems to know a thing or two about wormshill.