Web Development

Sanity check: Can Mahalo save us from Google, Digg, and Wikipedia?

While the rise of Internet tools has democratized the publication process and made information more freely accessible, that process has also had negative side effects, as seen when you look critically at Google, Digg, and Wikipedia. See why Mahalo could help reverse some of the damage.

Let's get one thing straight from the start -- before you click send on any hate mail -- I am not going to predict that Mahalo will unseat Google as world's top search engine, or drive Digg out of business, or replace Wikipedia. What I will argue is that Mahalo has an opportunity to save us from the increasing ineffectiveness of Google, Digg, and Wikipedia in one critical area.

How IT professionals use the Web

Before there was Internet search, IT professionals typically had a library of books and multiple stacks of magazines that they would flip through -- sometimes frantically -- to find the critical information they needed to do their jobs.

However, if the Web has done nothing else, it has drastically reduced the amount of paper and shelf space that IT pros need, because since the late 1990's, they have been tossing out most of their books and magazines (hopefully into recycling bins) and turning to the Web as their first stop for research and technical content.

Today, most IT pros primarily use the Web for two critical job-related activities:

1.) Problem solving

2.) Information gathering

When it comes to solving problems, one of the most common scenarios is to copy and paste error messages or keywords into Google, which returns a list of discussion threads where other users who have encountered the same problem have posted and received solutions. In fact, the TechRepublic forums get a couple million pageviews every week from Google users doing these types of searches.

The other critical type of search for IT pros involves information gathering about technologies, products, and concepts that can potentially help them improve the business. I'll give you three quick examples: SOA, ITIL, and WiMAX. Today, if you enter any of those three into Google, the first search result you get is a Wikipedia entry. The rest of the first page of results is made up of official sources (which most users could have found on their own), a handful of semi-useful sites that have gamed the Google algorithm, and paid search ads. That's not a very compelling mix of content, and that's where Mahalo's human-powered search engine offers an effective alternative.

The problems with Google, Wikipedia, and Digg

For problem solving by looking up error messages or keywords for common tech snafus, Google is amazing because of its reach across so many millions of forums and pages on the Internet. This is where you see the power of the Google algorithm at work. No human-powered search engine can achieve that kind of scale. For IT professionals, this is Google's greatest value, and nothing is going to replace it anytime soon.

However, when you need to do research and information gathering for tech topics, the quality of Google search results has always been a gamble. Sometimes you quickly find useful stuff, while many other times you have to flip through multiple pages of results to find only mildly-helpful stuff. Plus, Google's results are arguably getting less effective with time. The USC Center for the Digital Future found that only 52% of users trusted the information from search engines in 2007, down from 62% in 2006. For 2007, 49% of users trusted Google's results.

Also, as mentioned above, Wikipedia often dominates the top of Google's first page of search results. Wikipedia can be useful if you don't know what WiMAX is, for example, and you just want a quick definition. However, if you want to do any additional research (like finding white papers and in-depth articles), Wikipedia is usually not much more useful than Google because it is plagued by wild inconsistencies and inaccuracies. Even founder Jimmy Wales has admitted to Wikipedia's serious quality control issues.

Wikipedia is wide open for anyone to edit, but it is also easy to dominate by a few self-appointed rulers, some of whom have a clear axe to grind or simply don't know the subject matter but have the time to follow and control the edits to the pages. The result is a body of work on Wikipedia that is presented as facts but is riddled with errors.

For one quick example, take a look at the TechRepublic Wikipedia entry. It lists TechRepublic as a "technology news site," when it's actually an online trade publication and social community for IT professionals. Wikipedia lists Stephen Howard-Sarin as the "creator" of TechRepublic. In fact, TechRepublic opened its doors in 1999, and Stephen didn't have any direct association with TechRepublic until 2005. It also lists Stephen as the "leader" of TechRepublic, when he's actually the VP of product development at CNET Networks for the group that includes TechRepublic, ZDNet, and BNET. These inaccuracies have been up on Wikipedia for over a year. I could have edited them myself but I didn't, because I wanted to wait and see how long they would last. I'm still waiting.

I also lump Digg with Google and Wikipedia in this category of information gathering. When IT pros go to Google and Wikipedia, they already know what they're looking for and they type it in the search box. When they go to Digg, they go to see what other users are talking about, what's hot, and to find information about technology that they didn't know they needed to know.

Back in 2006, I regularly checked Digg. For the past 12 months, I can count my visits to Digg on one hand. It used to be a great place to find the top stories in tech from various publishers, large and small. But Digg no longer surfaces enough relevant stories to be useful to me, and it's become clear that it's very arbitrary which stories will make it to the top and which ones will get buried. For example, the same story will get posted four times and three of them will get less than five diggs, while the other one will get 400 diggs and make it to the front page of Digg. There's obviously a small group of users who control the Digg algorithm, and they don't do a very good job of picking which items to push to the top, or at least they don't do a good job of picking stuff that's timely and relevant for IT anymore.

Can Mahalo make a difference?

Like many users, I've been losing faith in Google, Digg, and Wikipedia for research and information gathering. Google is still great for looking up specific problems or finding specific things that you already know exist. Wikipedia is still fine for getting quick definitions. And Digg, well, I'm not sure what Digg is good for anymore. Unfortunately, none of them are consistently effective enough for the serious information gathering that IT professionals need.

Mahalo is a tool that has the potential to succeed where these three are currently failing. Mahalo is a search engine powered by people rather than algorithms. It was founded by Jason Calacanis, who previously ran Engadget and Silicon Alley Reporter. He launched Mahalo during the summer of 2007, with the initial goal of creating human-generated search results pages for the top 50,000 search terms on the Web.

I'm not sure what Mahalo's time frame is or how they are measuring the "top" search terms, but Mahalo editors and users have already created over 25,000 pages. From what I've seen so far, they are producing some quality pages that can serve as reliable resources.

For comparison sake, let's take a look at the pages for WiMAX from Google, Wikipedia, and Mahalo:

Google has what you'd expect -- Wikipedia is the first entry, the WiMAX Forum (the official governing body for WiMAX) has the second slot, and then it has a mix of other publications and articles. The Wikipedia entry is quite detailed, but as with any Wikipedia piece, I always wonder how many inaccuracies are contained within all of that text.

The Mahalo WiMAX page (see the screenshot below) has a quick synopsis of WiMAX at the top of the right column and editor-selected "Top 7" links at the top of the left column. The number one link is the Wikipedia article, and then it points to six more links from established media sources. The Mahalo page then goes on to include links for news, background info, blogs and discussions, and related companies.

By the way, Mahalo originally had its entry spelled "WiMax," so on Saturday afternoon, I made a quick note about the misspelling in the discussion to the entry. Later that evening, an editor spotted my comment, replied, and quickly fixed the page. This is evidence of both the "greenness" of Mahalo and the fact that it is currently run by some diligent editors.

The reason why I think Mahalo has the potential to succeed from this information gathering perspective is that it taps into the power of the crowds on the Internet while also providing clear, transparent leadership for its entries -- the latter is where Digg and Wikipedia fail. The Mahalo formula provides strong search results pages that aren't manipulated by a small group of users or by gaming the algorithm. As such, Mahalo will rise or fall on the strength of its editors and the level of participation that it can inspire in its community.

Ultimately, this whole issue comes down to trust and whether you trust algorithms, editors, or the masses. I trust algorithms for finding needles in haystacks. I trust the masses to contribute and tweak content. And I trust editors to organize, point out opportunities, and manage quality control. That's the formula that Mahalo appears to have adopted, and it has already given the product a leg up on Google and Wikipedia for some search terms.

Mahalo has also shown the ability to respond quickly. For example, this weekend when news broke that Yahoo was going to reject Microsoft's takeover bid, Mahalo was the first place where I saw an alert about it -- in a link just under the search box on the Mahalo home page. This is where Mahalo has a chance to compete with Digg. If it can quickly create pages like the one for Yahoo rejects Microsoft offer and surface them prominently, then it could become a place that I go for not just information gathering, but to take a quick glance at the latest buzz in tech.

Right now, Mahalo gathers 5-7 recent links in each category and puts them under each of the category names on its front page, but when you actually click the category (e.g. Technology) and expect to see a a full list of the hottest and newest entries, instead you get a general category page (see below). If Mahalo could use one of the columns on that page for the hottest and newest pages in that category, then it could create a Digg-like effect for these pages and give them some broader usefulness.

I would encourage IT professionals to check out Mahalo, but keep in mind that it is still in its infancy and it has very few business technology entries. I'd like to see entries for hot biz tech terms such as Software-as-a-Service, ITILv3, blade servers, and WAN acceleration, just to name a few off the top of my head. If you sign up for Mahalo Greenhouse, you could write entries for these types of topics and possibly even get paid for it.

If you don't want to write whole entries from scratch, you can also sign up for a Mahalo profile and then recommend links. I created a profile on Mahalo under Digitalcowboy9 (see below). If you set up a Mahalo profile, feel free to add me to your friends list. I'll be interested to see if we can make this tool useful for those of us interested in IT and business technology.

Do you think a human-powered search engine like Mahalo could have a positive impact on information gathering on the Web for IT pros? Join the discussion.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

99 comments
waynegmorris
waynegmorris

I read with interest your article because I had never heard of Mahalo. I work in an industry that provides the power for IT computer systems and before I get any flak, guys and gals, don't ever undertake a project without backup. Which brings me to the point. I have used Google on many ocassions and found it provides a lot of useless entries. I have used Wikipedia on many ocassions and found it a starting point but I regard it with caution because it is editable by sources whom may know nothing about the subject. My backups are several booksites-Great Scott! A Book Reader! Yes, because they have been edited and reviewed by the authors' peers, which I think, but not sure, are human and knowledgable. I know those sites will not help with say, a dreaded dll error message, but to me this is more a question about solving a fleeting problem for the manufacturer of a technology that will be forgotten in a few years rather than a question for our general knowledge. Some of the knowldge I acquired thirty years ago is obsoslescent. Most of it is not, because the groundings were in fundamentals. What are the fundamentals of Web 2? Do you have any idea that you work in a world and invented languages that hardly anyone speaks? To me Mahalo is a breath of fresh air. Wayne

jantash
jantash

Yes, Ofcourse this is the first thing coming into my mind not because i know google-does every one know about it- but because google give everythings in the internet, and all what you have to do is looking for what you want exactly, may be mahalo people try to give you the what is important but i am seating in front of my PC to know everything about what i am looking for and here google say i do.

plexor
plexor

Those who bother to investigate the ACTUAL life of Wikipedia can only be further dismayed by the dumbing down/control of information and thus people. It is possible to create a vastly safer medium of the whole internet simply by requiring authentication of posters by a simple $1 credit check (proceeds to Open Source Development). Simple solutions are usually best except when relying on Good Natures alone. Spam could be stopped by simply requiring a verification process for bulk email and "choking" email quantities at the Server level. Sooo simple even I can do it. (Not sure about a M$ 11s Server, though).

ScriptMechanic
ScriptMechanic

First impression of Mahalo: I was struck by the incredibly insular American nature of the front page. Please understand, I am NOT anti- American, but the front page of Mahalo gave no indication that the rest of the world exists.... So I immediately doubted it's usefulness to me, a British IT professional. I _will_ try out the search facilities, but the parochiality was a surprise... ooops, on closer examination I cansee a section relating to learning foreign languages, and a single reference to Torchwood... So they _are_ aware that there is a planet, not just a continent Postscript - Mahalo database down for the last hour or so , so no testing. While I like the theory, it could go the same way as Wiki - it depends on the integrity of the humans involved...

bobmansur1
bobmansur1

Man do I love this new Mahalo site. Very, very easy on the eyes and some of the best, clearest links to articles in regards to the example of the Mahalo WiMAX page. Thank you so much for showing us this...

mattax
mattax

Wikipedia+Google's been my (algorithm assisted) human powered search engine for a long time. Yes, it can be wrong. But it is so much more right than other sources on most topics I search for. I find it no more compelling to donate my time Maholo to write and edit articles than I do to Wikipedia. From your article, Maholo seems no better than the DMOZ concept. DMOZ only failed because people started to use it (directly and via search engines) and so there became more incentive to game it. Google is less useful than it was for the same reason. Google's Knol project is quite similar, and About is not dissimilar.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

If you're not careful you'll get a Google browser when you download a Flash player.

mark.moran
mark.moran

I'm happy to see that not everyone views Google vs. Human Powered Search as a zero sum game. At findingDulcinea (http://www.findingdulcinea.com), we are also working on a human powered solution to the poor quality of many search results, with well narrated Web guides to topics. We believe we provide the best place to begin your Web research on almost any topic, but do not purport to wholly replace a broad search engine; and indeed we will be incorporating both custom and broad search engines into the site.

paragonmatrix
paragonmatrix

Jason, Im the editor that made the name change on the WiMAX page. We thank you for taking the time to notify us of the issue and were glad to correct it for you (and future visitors). I think this shows how Mahalo is different, this level of personal service tends to get lost on most web sites these days. Please keep the great feedback coming, we are always looking out for it. Sean

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Kudos on your quick response. As you can tell, I was impressed.

wrompala
wrompala

I fail to see the difference- you notified someone to change it for you, it was changed and you say 'better than wikipedia' vs you refused to change it yourself on Wikipedia and point to inaccuracies to help prove your point.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

in a forum post than to edit a Wiki page. You're talking 30 seconds vs. 15-30 minutes.

paragonmatrix
paragonmatrix

Wikipedia is a frustrating experience for me most of the time. I make an edit only to have it rolled back, there is also little to no room for adding links to wikipedia. Go ahead, try for yourself. May I also refer you to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Lamest_edit_wars

kites
kites

Oh, come on! Mahalo is nothing more than a glorified directory. It has taken the top ten or twenty listings from all the other major search engines and pass it off as human edited search engine. Get real! I have been submitting my site to search engines and directories more than 8 years. So Mahalo is something new like a toy. It will last a couple of hours if that long.

thisisfutile
thisisfutile

I get tired of hitting "HiJackThis" logs. Type in a program name that is running on your system that you'd like to research and dozens of Google pages will contain that exact entry because it's posted on a forum with someone's HiJackThis log but that forum topic had nothing to do with the program or file you are researching. Ugh. I have to admit though, HiJackThis has been effective so I can't complain to much.

thisisfutile
thisisfutile

A good suggestion and can also be accomplished by typing a minus sign infront of the word you want excluded (no need to use advanced link). However, the results went up. search for this: REFIEBAR.DLL The result is 522K. Now add -hijack and it yields 536K

Absolutely
Absolutely

Just kidding. I could guess why that might be, such as being based on a resource allocation vs. popularity of search term algorithm, and when you narrow your results, your resource allocation provides you slightly "more," but I don't pretend to know what's going on with Google. It's pretty helpful, though unpredictable in surprising ways occasionally. Overall, I prefer to have it available to me than not, and deal with the quirks.

silivrenion
silivrenion

Thank you for not updating the Wikipedia entry for TechRepublic. It's people like you who keep inaccuracies on Wikipedia possible. If you notice something's wrong, change it. That's the beauty of the system. Don't go playing games and seeing how long it takes for someone else to get the psychic ability to know something you know. By the way, it's fixed now. If you see any problems with the data on it, I encourage you to fix it.

Synistrix
Synistrix

As a programmer I often use Google to find alternate ways of manipulting code etc. However when performing basic searches it is noticable that most of the top reults are from commercial organisations who have hijacked keywords etc. But one can get better results by learning t search engines in a more advanced way.

fedm235
fedm235

Inconsistent argument to fix the article in Mahalo and comment on how easy it was to correct, and not fix the article in Wikipedia and comment on how inaccurate it was.

thisisfutile
thisisfutile

Jason's first comment was: "What I will argue is that Mahalo has an opportunity to save us from the increasing ineffectiveness of Google, Digg and Wikipedia..." Why would he waste time fixing something that's against his argument? Putting that fact aside, I want to explore your point. Both sites had an inaccuracy. One involves doing it yourself, which someone else can come along and change back or change to whatever they want, and the other involves telling someone to do it. So I think it's automatically understood to be more difficult when you have to make the change yourself. Because of this fact, it only helps Jason's argument that the ease of making accurate changes and keeping them accurate will help Mahalo become a trusted site. I think Jason's argument was right on. It must be noted that I haven't formulated an opinion of Mahalo yet, but I certainly don't hold wikipedia in high regard. There's an anti-open source argument in there, but that's a topic for another thread.

escale
escale

Totally agree. To see if someone fix someting you see wrong in Wikipedia is the same as waiting for someone to pick up garbage in a park. You might seen sometimes people just with the good habit of picking up a bag of potatoe chips from the ground and then putting it on the trash can. If you have the good habit to fix what you see wrong around you, you just fix it. And I wouldn't need to experiment on that to "see" if somebody else occurs to do that or not. I just go and fix it. The same with wikipedia. And those articles you see accurate and rich are because of many people finding something wrong and then fixing it. So please take your time and fix what you know is wrong. Probably no one better than you to fix the information about TechRepublic, don't you think?

thisisfutile
thisisfutile

Both of you have gone off the deep end. First of all, he's casing an argument. Fixing one "dropped bag of potato chips" is definitely the noble thing to do and something I personally pride myself on. However, whether or not Jason does is another argument and there certainly isn't enough information in this article to base that type of judgement on him. What I do know is that he's trying to sell a point and to fix an example would have been counter productive to that end. Please stop making assumptions...it makes an a55 out of you and "umption" :-P

thisisfutile
thisisfutile

The point is, for everyone that is helpful and take-charge in nature (like you), there is one that's experimenting (like Jason), one that is lazy (like me), and one that is spitefull (like the one who has yet to change the article back to the way it was). I have to admit, I even thought about doing that just to help prove Jason's point (I guess that's curious). And I've only mentioned four or five human traits...how long is that list? The concept, like so many others, is great on paper but once you factor in real human nature, the results are chaotic.

Absolutely
Absolutely

For genuine, work-related research, I've used Google a lot, and could imagine using Wikipedia for a topic that's brand new to me, although I honestly don't recall having ever done that. I have learned a lot there about new, interesting-looking topics, just haven't been paid for any of it. But for the specialized IT info you're talking about, I'd use TR, a few of the other sites that are frequently linked here, and then go to the sites particular to the software or hardware that's giving me problems. Jason: "I'd like to see entries for hot biz tech terms such as Software-as-a-Service, ITILv3, blade servers, and WAN acceleration, just to name a few off the top of my head." I think I see what you're looking for. I've gotten used to having to sort the wheat from the chaff myself, if somebody hasn't written about it on TR -- and to some extent, even if somebody has. I think I have to agree with kstafferton: [i]Anyway, I remember when Yahoo did a similar kind of thing and everything was categorised and updated by a team of "professional" surfers. This does not seem to any different and I would worry about how any human could keep up with new sites and updates.[/i] I wouldn't be interested in Mahalo, if it did exactly what you described.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Thanks for sharing your approach to info gathering, and of course, I'm glad to hear that TR is part of the equation.

VJMcDonald
VJMcDonald

Speaking of quality control... "Even founder Jimmy Whales has admitted to Wikipedia???s serious quality control issues." Let's try Wales, shall we?

wrompala
wrompala

A bit one sided - you freely admit that you could fix the wikipedia article and yet claim you 'want to see how long it take to have someone fix it' and on the other hand you jump right in and help fix a piece of incorrect data on Mahalo. Doesn't that seem a bit inconsistent? Wikipedia exists and survives as a collaborative effort - if someone finds a bit of inaccurate info, the person with the correct info should fix it to make it better... the same thing you did with Mahalo- just because Mahalo is 'young and fresh' you felt motivated to fix it. Wikipedia has the same group collaborative sense about it, simply because it's been around for a while shouldn't motivate you to stand back and 'wait for someone to fix it' so you can point a finger at it and say 'see, it ain't right'. -W

john3347
john3347

Jason didn't say that he fixed an error in Maholo, did he? Didn't he say that he published an article in which there was mention of an error and Maholo fixed their own error? Maybe it really is the responsibility of the author of the subject Wikipedia entry to also correct his own error.

silivrenion
silivrenion

No, No, No. Sure the author has the responsibility for the data they provide, but the idea is that it's not the author's data anymore once it's put on Wikipedia, it's everyone's information. It's the responsibility of anyone who knows anything about a topic that wasn't in a Wikipedia article to add or correct that information. Don't go whining to the article starter because of a more recent edit, either. Correct what you know is wrong, and if you can't, flag it as under review and someone who is technically qualified will.

escale
escale

Wikipedia offers a broad content of any topic of human knowledge. Is not resource to lie you PhD on but certainly gives you a good approach to most of the topics. And as broad as human knowledge is at the moment it would take millions of people puting it together... guess what? that's the number of Internet users. It's a collective job; you want to watch only, that's cool. Do you want to participate? That's even better. I believe it's a viable way of having an online enciclopedia accesible for free in that variety of languages. And of course, if you know the way Wikipedia works, you'll know to take the proper distance to relay too much in what is says, but in my experience it always give me a quick idea of what I'm looking for.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I can think of some cases (business competition) when it might be to my benefit to leave up incorrect information about one of my competitors, or to withhold information about my own company. Wikipedia isn't the Securities and Exchange Commission, and it isn't a requirement under Sarbanes-Oxley. Responsibility for accuracy should lie with the poster, not the editor. Information that is in doubt should be posted to a holding area or "beta" area for confirmation before being added to an article.

Histrion2
Histrion2

As someone who occasionally modifies articles on Wikipedia (usually just to fix spelling and grammar), this notion that everyone who uses Wikipedia has an obligation to be an editor is... well, wow, "unrealistic" hardly covers it. I love Wikipedia, but at some point I suspect (oh, let's be honest, I *hope*) anonymous editing will be shut off.

kcelestino
kcelestino

I'm sure we've all run into someone who obviously has no idea what he's talking about and neglects to control his mouth. This individual begins confidently expounding inaccuracies which the unlearned take for fact. Why are we entrusting learning resources to tools?

ph0t0bug
ph0t0bug

The responsibility for the accuracy of the material on Wikipedia lies with the people running the site and the people posting to it. If I go there looking for information I'm not necessarily in a position to know what's correct and what isn't. If I was, then wy go there at all? I don't work for Wikipedia and certainly don't have any obligation to spend my time reviewing or correcting it. If they want to be known as a good place to go for information they need to employ a team to verify what's being posted. Since they haven't done enough of that, they've become a questionable resource at best.

Absolutely
Absolutely

[i]The reason why I think Mahalo has the potential to succeed from this information gathering perspective is that it taps into the power of the crowds on the Internet while also providing clear, transparent leadership for its entries ? the latter is where Digg and Wikipedia fail. The Mahalo formula provides strong search results pages that aren?t manipulated by a small group of users or by gaming the algorithm. As such, Mahalo will rise or fall on the strength of its editors and the level of participation that it can inspire in its community.[/i] The point was to illustrate how Mahalo works differently from older research tools, and how that [i]might[/i] be an advantage. I didn't think it was a biased article, at all.

lequitas
lequitas

Thanks, I am checking it out.

Absolutely
Absolutely

"Kim Spalding Chief Financial Officer Kim has more than 13 years experience in the publishing industry. She was co-founder of TechRepublic and served as its CFO. Kim also was vice president of finance at The Cobb Group. Jon Pyles Executive Vice President, Subscriber Products Jon has participated in the startup and growth of four successful information-publishing businesses. Most recently, he was an executive member of the founding team at TechRepublic. Jon also was vice president of circulation at The Cobb Group." http://www.itbusinessedge.com/about/ "In the late 90's Joel and his partners launched Techrepublic.com, an online IT community. With over one million registered users he and his partners sold Techrepublic in early 2000 to the world's largest IT research and services company, The Gartner Group for 93 million dollars. He is the recipient of several sales, marketing and customer service awards." http://www.zoominfo.com/people/Deceuster_Joel_-114384.aspx Anybody else? The results from Mahalo aren't impressive... http://www.mahalo.com/Special:Search?search=techrepublic+founders&go=Web+Search ...even though these took a few minutes to track down with Google: Kim & Jon were on the second page, Joel was on the fifth. Combined with a web browser with built-in text search, not a very time-consuming search. Of course, http://xkcd.com/356/ I might not be the best indicator of the general market demand for a faster, less puzzling route to the right answer.

Absolutely
Absolutely

Their formatting rules are not really that difficult, but I used the previous example in that article more than any of the Wikipedia articles about proper formatting, for the correct locations of ] and < and so on in citations. When it was brand new, I might have done that for free on a regular basis, but ...

donrosco
donrosco

Now change the wikipedia article!

Absolutely
Absolutely

... if Jason will verify what I found with Google.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I thought I was the only one who didn't trust in the knowledge of the masses.

jon_saxon
jon_saxon

Wikipedia is great if you are careful. I have posted a few edits and had them immediately rejected by the person who felt he/she "OWNED" the post. There is a lot of bad information and bias on Wikipedia but I do refer to it frequently but take everything with a grain of salt.

OneTwoMany
OneTwoMany

Wiki depends on readers to correct inaccuracies. Most entries are launch points just to get something up. I found it interesting the author here said; "These inaccuracies have been up on Wikipedia for over a year. I could have edited them myself but I didn?t, because I wanted to wait and see how long they would last. I?m still waiting." Why wait? The only way Wiki stands a chance is for people know know to step up and make it better. I put that attitude akin to seeing if a Co-Op works but never buying anything from it until it does. It's nice to have commentary (even like this) but not being willing to make a difference just makes this no better than Wiki. See what I did there?... :) NOTE: I can't account for iEgos. Sorry to hear that Wiki suffers from that too.

somethinggood4
somethinggood4

When I heard about the concept of Wikipedia - basically an editable online encyclopedia, I was immediately freaked out. Opinion presented as fact? History by committee? The ignorant masses deciding the permananet record, with no fact-checking and no one looking over the shoulder? Yikes! As an example, I went on Google and typed "How tall is Conan O'Brien?" (I saw him on Jon Stewart last week and started wondering)... Google came back with 6'4". WikiPedia answers came back with 5'7 and 12/32" (?!) Obviously, someone was having fun on Wikipedia... but if I didn't KNOW that.....(shudder)...

brucek
brucek

We should note that the article's author, one of a small handful of people who knew or cared about the Wikipedia entry on TechRepublic, didn't take it upon himself to correct that entry's inaccurate information. That is telling. I thought the premise of Wikipedia is that those with accurate information will participate in that process, not sit on the sidelines as a passive observer. I guess it's easier to complain about inaccuracies rather than fix them.

Absolutely
Absolutely

Your complaints are without merit. Jason made a fair point. Crying about it won't help you.

kent
kent

It is not public spirited to point out these flaws in TechRepublic. The deluded public will never read a single article posted here. And none of the deluded public's resources will ever refer to TechRepublic.

Absolutely
Absolutely

... any of the two co-founders, the vice-president of product development whose length of involvement in TechRepublic was previously exaggerate, and probably a few dozen of the regular readers. [i]It would have been far easier and more altruistic to correct the entry.[/i] It would not be very public-spirited to falsely encourage the popular delusion that Wikipedia is a trustworthy [u]primary[/u] source of information. It's probably not more often wrong than right, and I enjoy it as a collection of summaries and of links to primary sources, in the well-documented pages. But even if the reviewers' methodology is perfect, the fact that nothing is reviewed unless it's challenged means that nothing in Wikipedia can be safely assumed accurate. And because the purpose of a reference is to tell you about things you don't already know, verifying the accuracy of a sample of things that you do already know is completely irrelevant. Jason did the more responsible thing by pointing out an important, frequently overlooked flaw.

kent
kent

It would have been far easier and more altruistic to correct the entry.

Absolutely
Absolutely

[i]Google came back with 6'4". WikiPedia answers came back with 5'7 and 12/32" (?!)[/i]

Derek Parnell
Derek Parnell

The phrase "knowledge of the masses", when used in this context, sounds so elitist. It is as if the "masses" are totally incapable of being correct or having valid information. Generally, I have found that the Wikipedia articles are guarded by editors that have a real desire that they be accruate and vandalism and inaccuracies are very short lived. Jason say "Wikipedia is usually not much more useful than Google because it is plagued by wild inconsistencies and inaccuracies." Can I see statistics that backs up that assertion? Are you saying that any given randomly chosen Wikipedia article is totally untrustworthy because it is more than X% inaccurate? How would 'X' be measured? What, for instance, are the inaccuracies in the Wikipedia article on WiMAX that are not also inaccurate in the Mahalo 'selected' articles?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Are you saying that any given randomly chosen Wikipedia article is totally untrustworthy because it is more than X% inaccurate?" Nope. If I go to Wikipedia to get information on a topic I know nothing about, I don't feel comfortable relying on that information. I may be looking between when some joker adds that grass is blue and sky is green and when someone else corrects the error. If I'm ignorant on the subject, I won't know the original post is wrong. If the topic is particularly obscure, it may be while before someone knowledgeable gets around to fixing it. I feel more comfortable Googling the subject, bypassing the Wikipedia entry, and looking for a link to a .org or .edu resource.

stan
stan

Google and such have created a new lack of respect for fact. The "popularity" of information trumps accuracy regardless of the validity of the information in current day discussions. The next time someone tries to debate me, and starts with a Google search, I will walk away. Countering ignorantly brandished myth as if factual is a total waste of time. Context and perspective are missing from the equation.

salalah
salalah

I actually walk away whenever any debate starts. They are by and large a monumental waste of time and effort. Discussion and a willingness to acheive consensus is more productive. ... and this comes from an ex-Forensic brat in the High School/College circuit.

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