Will Wikipedia converge into a useful encyclopedia, or will it diverge to nonsense? That is one of the central questions discussed in a story I heard yesterday morning on NPR‘s Morning Edition. An interesting story to listen to if you are interested in where Wikipedia is going, though for those who are already familiar there may not be a whole lot of new info. One ‘a-ha’ moment for me was the observation (paraphrased), “If the community of people who volunteer and maintain Wikipedai breaks down, the Wikipedia will turn into a wasteland of spam, porn, etc.”
The NPR story also touched on – but didn’t delve into – the question of whether Wikipedia should try to be a “legitimate” encyclopedia, focusing on only things that a legitimate encyclopedia woud address, or a repository of whatever information users want to post there. For more information on that debate, check out Deletionists, inclusionists, and delusionists from Nicholas Carr.