The Great Wikipedia Schism

While I’ve always been a great supporter of Wikipedia, lately things have begun changing that have me questioning whether it’ll work out the way I hoped.

Let me explain.

Lately, the higher-ups at Wikipedia have made some policy decisions which are arguably aimed at increasing the perceived “quality” or “reliability” or “professionalism” of Wikipedia, in comparison to, say, Encyclopedia Brittanica, or any other major encyclopedia. Some of these changes, though, in my opinion at least, go against the original spirit of Wikipedia – the spirit that originally attracted me to the site.

One example: Wikipedia is trying to enforce the idea that articles should only be about things that are “noteworthy.”

OK – so, what the hell is “noteworthy,” anyway?

I’d be hard pressed to define it, and so would anyone else striving for an unbiased opinion. It just can’t be done. As soon as you bring something as ambiguous and subjective as “noteworthiness” into the picture, you’re just asking for trouble. It used to be enough if an article was well-written, factual (cited its sources), written from a neutral point-of-view, and contained no original research. It didn’t matter if it was an article on Barnard’s Star orĀ  the fictional Dahak starship from the sci-fi novels written by David Weber – as long as it followed those few requirements, it was fine for Wikipedia. After all, what seems noteworthy to one person might seem totally useless and not worth remembering to another person – and vice versa.

What’s worse is that because of this desire for “noteworthiness,” some articles are being deleted – and that really just goes against the spirit of an encyclopedia of human knowledge!

There are other things, of course – the removal of “trivia” sections; the removal of plot summaries & episode lists for TV shows – but really, the “noteworthy” thing is probably my biggest pet peeve. I just don’t think it can be reasonably enforced and really, something as subjective as that has no business being in the criteria for a Wikipedia entry.