Crowdsourcing comes with its own boons and banes. For one, the potential of having the world as your team and the diverse talent as your crew is awe-inspiring! Imagine the speed and the power at which the project will progress. All Open Source software projects operate with this power. So when Wikipedia applied this model to the goal of building the first online English encyclopedia, it didn’t envision the problems it would have in store. Uday takes a hard look into the world of online encyclopedias and talks about the emerging Everipedia. Beginning this week, we are introducing a column of Technology, by Uday Biradar, every Thursday, exclusively in Different Truths.
The Wikipedia Decline
With the rise of its popularity, Wikipedia saw an influx of a huge number of enthusiastic contributors and editors. Freedom of expression, the thirst to share information as well as the ability to see one’s work being viewed and used by millions was intended to be the motivation to exponentially grow this encyclopedia. However there is always the dark side of the coin. Hoaxes, Vandalism and mudslinging made their presence and demonstrated that the internet is just a replica of the real world it virtualises. There are tons of mischief mongers and evil minded people online who are out there to destroy anything that benefits people. This became the motivation for the dark side.
Bear in mind, that Wikipedia had soon become the default reference material for anyone researching on any subject. This put additional pressure on the Wikipedia team to govern the contribution as well as quell any attempts at hoaxes or vandalism quickly. This led them to introduce automated bots that would sniff out negative content and remove them from the site. These bots (Huggle, Twinkle and others) are very effective in removing undesirable contributions. However, this made the response to contributors very impersonal. Especially first time desirable contributors who were informed that their contribution was not “notable” or did not meet the Neutrality requirements. These rejected folks were surely not going to come back and contribute further. Researchers have pinpointed at this as the key ingredient to Wikipedia’s decline since 2007. It continues to gnaw at the fabric of this beautiful attempt to capture everything you ever wanted to know till this day.
Everipedia: The Thug Wikipedia
The thug Wikipedia as the founders call it, is supposedly the ‘chilled out’ Wikipedia. It allows you to create pages about people, organisation, just about anything. You can even create a page about yourself! The only rule that founders claim exists is that you have to be in the positivity zone. You cannot say anything mean about anyone. Also you can cite “virtually” any link to substantiate your article.
This definitely opens up the doors for enthusiastic cub reporters, who are willing to get into the act at 3 AM in the morning to catch important events and report them without running into the risk that it would be rejected for not being “notable”.
The way Everipedia works is that it allows only registered users to contribute and even user has an IQ rating which allows them increasing flexibility to completely edit previous articles. So you have to prove yourself to be a good gal or guy before you can go out there and edit things. This is far easier than the seemingly bureaucratic rules in Wikipedia as well as attracts many new desirable contributors to come ahead and add to the knowledge base.
Is This the Dawn of Everipedia?
Definitely Everipedia feels like the fun and chilled out child of Wikipedia. While Everipedia is not supposed to provide that reference to your college assignment, it is definitely something that you would go to look up something very relevant and something that you want to learn or share information on. The WYSIWYG editor that Everipedia provides is something that makes adding or editing pages easier, which will be an enabler to get more contributors and grow the effort. Currently as one sees it, there is a lot of buzz around Everipedia. However, if it aims at being a serious competitor to Wikipedia, then there is a lot of work to do! One thing that comes to my mind is that with a lot of “chilled out” contributors, would they be interested in building up on historical topics that are not very relevant in the current context but something that needs to be a part of any encyclopedia.
What are Everipedia’s tools against hoaxes and vandalism and also against inaccurate information being put up on the pages? There is a lot to be seen. Also, I am sure Wikipedia is listening and they will up their efforts at solving the problems that are plaguing their system right now. All in all, it’s a war of the encyclopedias and in the true spirit of competition, the users will emerge as the winners!
Images sourced by author from Net.
Uday Biradar is a software professional based out of Mumbai. He works in the Oil & Gas industry creating software products that monitor critical machinery and keep them running. Outside of work, Uday likes to travel and trek the sahyadri ranges near Mumbai. He likes to share wada-pav, chai and laughter with friends.