[nSLUG] Complete control is better? (was: Wikipedia)

Richard Bonner ak621 at chebucto.ns.ca
Wed Nov 4 11:17:30 AST 2009

On Tue, 3 Nov 2009, Daniel Morrison wrote:

> 2009/11/3 Richard Bonner <ak621 at chebucto.ns.ca>:
>> On Mon, 2 Nov 2009, Ben Armstrong wrote:
>>> On Mon, 2 Nov 2009 12:23:03 -0400 (AST)
>>> Richard Bonner <ak621 at chebucto.ns.ca> wrote:
>>>>    Until they get complete control over it, there's a good reason I
>>>> call it "Why? Ki-pedia".
>>> So when large, monopolistic software companies exercise "complete
>>> control" they're evil, but when encyclopedists do, it's good?
>> ***   Hmm, I should clarify...  (-:  What I meant by "control" was
>> that editors would need to verify information as they would with a
>> printed encyclopedia.
> It sounds the same to me...

***   Similar, but not the same in that the editors should be some 
calibre above the general public. I don't think Britannica hires 
persons off the street, so to speak.

>>> Why do you hate freedom? :)
>> ***   No hate for freedom, Ben;
> I'm quite certain this question was asked tongue-in-cheek...

***   Oh, sorry - I guess that went over my head.  (-:

>> I am just against the abuses and
>> inaccuracies that permeate public resources when there are no
>> overseers.
> I am against the abuses and inaccuracies that permeate 
> privately-controlled resources when there are overseers who exercise 
> "complete control".

***   I would still trust them over the general public. There is some 
minimum level of education required for that job at Britannica.

> You see, there will be abuses and inaccuracies either way. There is no
> free lunch, the world is not safe, we cannot put 100% trust in
> anything, etc.

***   Oh, absolutely. However, there should be some minimum beyond 
what persons say their credentials are when submitting to an on-line 
resource. Who is actually checking that level of expertise versus who 
is checking it at Britannica?

> The question to ask is: having understood that there WILL be abuses 
> and inaccuracies, would we rather allow those abuses to be served to 
> us in a top-down way by self-proclaimed authorities, with no 
> recourse to correct those abuses when they are noticed by that 
> minority who can correct them? Or would we prefer an open, bottom-up 
> system in which individuals can exercise the power to correct flaws 
> in a collaborative way?

***   I'd want some of each.

> The argument has been made and is done with for security concerns -- 
> the experts consensus is that the open method is better. Security 
> through obscurity does not work. Security through publishing your 
> algorithm, essentially challenging the world to break it, does work. 
> This is why ssh is secure, and Linux is secure, and DVD encryption 
> and MS Windows is not.

***   I don't think that is a perfect analogy because when software 
doesn't work it is immediately evident; it gets corrected or people 
move on. With information accuracy, it is not evident except to those 
that know better. Too many of those that do not, will use it as though 
it is, and then perpetuate it. This has been shown to be true through 
the popular-media examples I gave.

> We might still spend a lot of time debating this, but to my mind, 
> there is a quick way to short-circuit the problem to an answer. 
> There is another factor: that such large and comprehensive systems, 
> as they grow, become TOO large and TOO difficult for a single entity 
> to effectively control. A small number of coders CANNOT verify every 
> line of code in a large closed source software, and we have WIndows. 
> But a large number of coders can do such a thing in a large open 
> source software, and we have Linux.

***   Yes, but that is assuming they know there is a problem and that 
someone actually spends the time to correct it. Until corrections 
happen quickly and accurately, Why?-Ki cannot reach its full 

    Now of course, it's in its growing stage. It will be interesting to 
see it in five years. In the meantime, I have seen to many errors, 
biases and misconceptions for my liking.

> A small number of overseers at Britannica CANNOT effectively oversee 
> and keep up to date a large body of work such as an encyclopedia.

***   That is why it takes so long between editions. The Oxford 
Dictionary just went through exactly that in recent years.

> A large number of overseers CAN do so at Wikipedia.
> -D.

***   Provided they are accurate and actually spend the time to do so, 
I agree.


More information about the nSLUG mailing list