There aren’t many situations in life where an anonymous mob of people, working in an atmosphere allergic to the concept of personal accountability, is relied upon to achieve a societal good.
I think you could even replace anonymous mob with just group and it still works.
It’s hard to really have commentary on a subject like this. I’ve read the posts of so many wikipedia critics, and I know many people, particularly in higher education, that have a very dim view on how information is produced within wikipedia. Given that I’m so vociferously in favor of the democratization of information – and believe fundamentally that all information (with privacy and some security exceptions) should be freely shared and distributed – I’ve always been a little worried about contributing to the criticism. I don’t want to give the critics and the control crowds ammunition to say that open sharing and open contribution doesn’t work. But wikipedia – the community, not the idea – has some serious and legitimate challenges ahead, and some of the criticism is well warranted.
I guess at the end of the day – given that there are strengths and weaknesses with just about any information delivery system – is that the users of information must learn how to critically evaluate information – to check multiple sources and to never be afraid of asking “why?” and “how?”
Whether that’s coming from wikipedia, or governments, or the media, or “experts,” or your pal in the next cubicle. Somehow we have to ask more of ourselves in how we evaluate things. That is the real challenge here.