MAKE FREE

BY CORY DOCTOROW

Shortcut to Omniscience

Talk to anyone who’s tried to edit a controversial Wikipedia article and chances are you’ll be treated to an earful of complaint. Wikipedia’s legion of committed editors tirelessly revert the changes wrought by newbies within minutes, often with flat declarations of the ineligibility of the new material for the online encyclopedia. This proves frustrating for skilled contributors who want to correct errors.

To understand what’s going on here, you need to appreciate what makes Wikipedia possible. Prior to Wikipedia’s launch in 2001, the consensus was that millions of amateurs would never be able to write an encyclopedia together. Encyclopedias require two things: control and expertise, and the ...

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