Wikipedia and Ownership

April 4th, 2008 | Categories: design, networks, off topic, social media, wikis

Wikipedia has revolutionized the concept of user-generated content and brought wikis to the forefront of technology trends. It is the poster child of web 2.0. Even so, the site still gets bombarded with criticism on a daily basis. Some social media critics, most notably Andrew Keen, cite two major flaws centered around ownership.

Many view Wikipedia as a source of amateur content due to anonymous editing. In many cases, however, material is contributed by field experts and specialists. Due to a lack of transparency and attribution, this goes largely unrecognized by the community. To eliminate this perception, transparency and attribution are needed. As a result, individual contributions are highlighted and trust is developed within the community.

A lack of financial compensation for contributors is also a major issue. Many believe that contributors should be paid for their efforts. Others argue that financial compensation would lead to a higher quality network. The disadvantage of this strategy is a much more conservative growth curve, as the network is only scalable until funding runs out. This also means that a revenue model would need to be implemented, and this would bring about its own set of issues.

The way I see it, a bit of notoriety may solve both of these problems. It would eliminate so-called anonymous posting and provide recognition for contributors. I don’t believe that financial compensation is the main motivator for contributors, therefore I don’t deem it necessary.


  1. Erik Says:

    Recognition of an amature contributer does not make them an expert. How does your proposal ensure that information is accurate?

  2. Aidan Says:

    That’s not what I’m trying to say. Contributor acknowledgment would simply allow readers the ability to grade the quality of material based on their own observations. This doesn’t mean that all contributors are experts. Nonetheless, readers would have the opportunity to determine that through transparency.

    Ensuring the accuracy of any information means performing due diligence and cross-checking all references and sources. Wikipedia is simply another tool; it is not the perfect solution. I would argue, however, that as the user base continues to build and the contributor hierarchy expands, information becomes more and more accurate over time.


  3. Joe Anderson Says:

    I own everything I contribute to Wikipedia; Wikipedia do acknowledge me through ‘history’.

    Financial compensation would possibly lead to worse articles. Disputes would stop being about content and end up being about money. Wikipedia does not need people using it to capitalistic ends. Also, financial compensation would be VERY difficult due to the site’s international nature and difficult because everyone contributes in their own way!

    Wikipedia is a bit like Communism; everyone contributes for the greater good.

  4. Copyright and Web 2.0 | Webby's World Says:

    […] was reading Mapping the Web today and his article about ‘Wikipedia and Ownership‘ and I began to think about the importance of attribution and copyright to Web […]

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