Wikipedia is 10 years old! Impressive … It’s invaluable for bluffing when I have a telephone enquirer talking about something or someone new to me. However, it’s so frustrating to see poor quality information about a topic when I know there is better information available. Or, even more annoyingly, information that looks great, but cannot be trusted because there is no seal of quality, no named expert.
So, should I stop complaining and start editing the entries that relate to our collections? I’ve considered this several times, but concluded that the process is too complicated, embodying all the worst aspects of the anonymous web (trolls, nit-picking changes for the sake of it). The end result would not bear any credit, and could be edited by others. It’s a risky investment of my limited time . So instead I reason that good information pushes out bad. I aim to put as much good quality content on the open web as possible – on our own web pages, on our growing blog fleet, on the Archives Hub. This content should eventually dominate search results, and eventually a wikipedia contributor will see it and edit the site!
I’ve recently come across a more sophisticated way to bring quality data to other sites: Linked Data, a set of best practices for publishing and connecting structured data on the web. Via the JISC-funded LOCAH project, the Archives Hub/COPAC team are exploring how data provided by libraries and archives can be shared in other places. The technology is not easy for non-specialists to grasp, so I’m very grateful to the team for finding out about it on our behalf.
A Postscript – I originally intended to write about Quora in this piece, but actually it has little in common with wikipedia. It’s a crowd-sourced question and answer facility, like Facebook in appearance and style. I had a look around, didn’t think it was worth investing much time just now, but may return if it becomes more popular. Here’s a more detailed assessment from Phil Bradley’s blog – Phil sets it in the context of other Q & A services on the web.