Well after a couple of good years the phenomenon that is wikipedia is starting to show some cracks.
In the early part of the Industrial Age there was the emergence of the ‘robber baron’ who used their influence and power to control the development of their world. It is becoming apparent that similar things can happen in the information world. Recent controversies with Digg and other Web 2.0 sites and how they are driven by a small group are examples of this.
Wikipedia is another ‘Web 2.0’ kind of thing which relies on a community of users to make it work and police the site. I first heard of this during a EdtechTalk Podcast where the lack of content in the area of eLearning and the attempt to delete an entry on Stephen Downes. This was ridiculed on the podcast for being a little silly given that Wikipedia shouldn’t have the arbitrary limit of paper encyclopedias.
In Stephen’s case the standard of ‘notability’ was quoted as the rule for what should stay and what should go. Recently Kaliya noted a similar issue – “You know I just don’t get wikipedia. People who contribute to the world in real ways have a difficult time getting recognized.”
In looking through the background on this I was even more shocked to see some of the comment of some of the the Wikipedia administrators on these cases. In one section an administrator was (under his own admission) holding a grudge against a user until he forced an apology. If these are the people wielding power within Wikipedia, its time to leave.