Open source doesn't seem the medicine to cure all diseases, notes Larry Sanger, the co-founder of Wikipedia who has since left the online collaborative encyclopaedia.
Much like open source software development projects, everybody can contribute to an entry in the Wikipedia, after which a process of peer review makes sure the information is accurate. Another similarity to open source software is that the product is free and lacks a copyright owner in the traditional sense of the word.
"Wikipedia does have two big problems, and attention to them is long overdue," Sanger wrote in an op-ed piece.
The first problem is a perceived lack of reliability (Sanger puts the emphasis on perceived), which is holding back adoption by a broader audience. Although time might deal with some of that, another part of the reliability issues are valid: the accuracy of entries drops significantly when it comes to specialized topics where only one or two authors contribute.
More importantly, when people work together, egos are bound collide and experts hardly ever get the credit and respect they deserve. Those experts as a result will refrain from contributing to the project. They will "be forced to defend their edits on article discussion pages against attacks by nonexperts. This is not perhaps so bad in itself. But if the expert should have the gall to complain to the community about the problem, he or she will be shouted down (at worst) or politely asked to "work with" persons who have proven themselves to be unreasonable (at best)."
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