Thursday, May 03, 2007

Big ... bigger ... the biggest ... encyclopaedic articles ...

I already wrote about this some time ago ... it is the never ending struggle and fight between two worlds:

- any length is fine, also just one sentence because this sentence gives basic information
- only long articles are good

Uhmmm ... well: I would like to invite you to come into a book store ... wow ... more than 29000 entries there. You find anything there ... general encyclopaedias in just one volume and many of the entries have a lengths of just one sentence (like: Maiori is a city in the South of Italy, on the Amalfi Coast, in the province of Salerno, region Campania). There are specialised encyclopaedias with very specific articles let's take an example, maybe about biology. There are the really big ones like the Britannica. Now each of them has a certain kind of target audience.

What is Wikipedia's audience? The general reader that could be happy enough with knowing that Maiori is a town in Italy, the highly specialised one that want to know all about a specific animal we maybe don't all know or those who want to read those huge articles? Who is our audience? All of them or just the "elite" of encyclopaedia readers that would say that one sentence about a town somewhere in the world is not enough? Uhmmm ... but what is Wikipedia's basic scope: "Provision of information in the field of general encyclopedic knowledge via the Internet." (I am quoting from the article about Wikipedia on the English wikipedia).

Reading that and considering what a wiki is: all discussions about what is better, best, worse, worst etc. don't need to be discussed. If we are NPOV all of these versions are equally valualbe and Wikipedia having its unique goal and being a wiki can combine all three of them in one. Isn't that incredible? So why limit what can be added? Even a small sentence can be of value ... and even a town or place that seems to be irrelevant to one can be relevant to somebody else. Who are we to say (just as an example): this city or river may not go into wikipedia as a stub since it is not relevant enough ... who tells us what is relevant or not? Wouldn't it be against the NPOV policy?

Oh yes, now I hear some shouting: but there are then 5000 articles about cities that are just stubs and the wikipedia seems to be bigger as it is ... well: go to the library, take one of those general encyclopaedias and look into it ... remember: for a kid one sentence telling where a city is often is enough - if there is more: even better, but that sentence can be a huge help when they study.

Imagine one thing, at the moment I am writing I don't have a clue on how many articles there are on nap.wikipedia ... I never really cared about numbers ... you don't believe it? Ask people who know me ... I simply don't look at that stuff. I contribute to wikis because I like to do it - it is irrellevant where and what and when. It is irrelevant how many edits I do ... I don't know how many there are around of mine. What counts is that we do what we do because we love to do it.

I repeat: each article, even of only one sentence can be of high value for somebody searching for information ... don't exclude the small ones, please and stop counting numbers ... it will help you a lot. We are not in competition - we are co-operating projects, that's all there is to it.
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