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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.


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    Sunday, February 24, 2008

    Democracy, sh'mockery

    Congratulations to Phil for nailing this one: "The point really is that it's not the wisdom of the crowds, it's a gentle dictatorship of the chaperones" - which is slightly more pointed than the the wisdom of the chaperones". He, in turn was referencing a multi-authored paper (PDF), "Power of the Few vs. Wisdom of the Crowd: Wikipedia and the Rise of the Bourgeoisie" by Ed Chi and colleagues. To be fair, Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales, is supposed to have said it first; he is quoted as saying, "most of the work on Wikipedia is done by a small number of users" in 2004 [URL no longer active].

    Does this affect our view of a major Web resource? Should it?

    Possibly. Those of us who have been advocating its use have mostly based our arguments on the fact that errors introduced by miscreant editors are soon remedied. Is this, CAN this still be true? What if one member of the small percent of Wikipedia users responsible for about half of the site's edits (a blog post by Ed Chi) is a rogue? What level of misinformation could this produce?

    Shall I continue to use Wikipedia? Yes, certainly.

    But I shall take even more care to verify anything important. After all, that is what I preach when I talk about evaluating web information!

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