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Wikipedia is good enough, good grief

Larry Sanger is beginning to sound more and more desperate. The growing, but largely irrelevant Citizendium project is still too top-heavy with administrative overhead and will continue to be an also-ran to any discussion around human stores of knowledge.

However, this is not stopping the continued declaration of quality-over-quantity.

Some people might be a little puzzled why I am pushing for higher quality in online content, and why I am not content with “good enough.”

I will make the point, again, that “good enough” is strictly subjective and that Larry/Citizendium just has a different definition of what it means to be good enough.

There are tremendous amounts of data online, but the vast quantities make it difficult to find the best: the highest quality data is hidden among mountains of cruft. Most of us specifically want the highest quality data — we want the most authoritative introduction to a topic, the highest quality video, the most recent and accurate statistics, the least biased and best-informed product ratings, etc. And some of us spend huge amounts of time looking for the highest quality data; I often do. Therefore, a website like the Citizendium that aims to aggregate the best information online would — if successful — render that sort of searching unnecessary. Whatever sort of search-for-quality can be aggregated, we’ll aggregate it.

The best? Highest quality? Most authoritative?

These things are completely subjective. Many would say that the highest quality video has nothing to do with what should be made available for distribution. The people largely do not *want* the highest, most, or best – they want good enough. When the spectrum of information is more filled-out, and a variety of qualities are available at their respective price-points in the market – the consumer will seek out the level they are comfortable with and/or the one they can afford. Not unlike cars and houses and everything else in a mature market.

In fact, Dr. Sanger is placing himself squarely outside the mainstream with his definition of what is good enough for his own research purposes. He’s a “premium” consumer of information sources – an academic (I include myself). Most people do not spend huge amounts of time looking for *anything* – they try once or twice, they ask a friend, and if they don’t find the answer that satisfies them, they give up, it was too hard. If the task is somewhat more important to a searcher, then perhaps he’ll spend a little more time/effort/money looking for the answer that is “good enough”. Regardless, it’s the personal threshold that’s important.

I have watched Citizendium for over a year now and was originally going back and forth on how I thought it would fare. I haven’t changed my mind now for quite a few months. I’m fairly certain the project will never gain the type of attention or credibility it needs to remain viable.

Wikipedia changed the game. The Citizendium is trying to build a house atop a foundation made of (purposefully) constantly shifting sands.

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  1. Stephen Ewen | December 23, 2007 at 4:35 am | Permalink

    Should you or a loved one need surgery or face serious illness sometime, I sincerely hope you will both *want* and obtain more than what is “good enough”.

  2. Stephen Ewen | December 23, 2007 at 4:42 am | Permalink

    Also, your post strikes as if coming from this fellow: http://www.art.com/asp/sp-asp/_/pd–10111776/Success.htm

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  1. [...] Libraries used to be about the only game in town here, but no longer: commercial help desks and social Q&A sites like Yahoo Answers have cut into that market. The edge that libraries have here is (1) that libraries have access to source materials (see points 1 & 2, above), and (2) that librarians care a lot about providing quality information and helping the user. Edge #1 is important, but less critical than it used to be, since see point 2 above. Edge #2 is critical, but librarians often trip over that one: as a profession we’re not very good at acknowledging that good enough is good enough. [...]