The argument over whether to keep the Enterprise 2.0 article in Wikipedia continues, in this incredibly rich discussion page. Bear with me here, as the innards of Wikipedia may not be clear cut enough for the blogosphere's preference for individual voices engaged in disappating debate. Samuel Klein, the Admin who undeleted the article, explains his decision and offers an opportunity for understanding:
I'm going to post a set of instructions for all of you bloggers, on How To Criticize Wikipedia -- so that you can do it productively if you want to. Wikipedia is one of those rare communities where eloquence, discussion, and an idea about how things can be better can lead to an immediate improvement in process and content.
This experience has helped further my understanding of core rules (Neutral Point of View, Verifyability and Original Research). The process of administrating them is decidedly non-bureaucratic -- this is not Kafka, this is made of people. And to SJ's point, while process is an embedded reaction to prior stupidity, the openness of process execution and distributed decision making authority favor change. Simple rules and open social interaction yield complex emergent behavior.
One man's complex behavior is another's philosophy. Deletionism holds that the path to quality is through vigiorous defence of rules to keep articles out. Inclusionism favors keeping and amending problematic articles. User Pages tend to self-identify and associate with these philosophies.
In this debate, Deletionists have run up against what I'll call the Networkists -- a group of highly networked domain experts activated through blogs. Most are only casual contributors, so far, and some have had negative experiences (and some for good reason) making reverted contributions. If I had to offer a philosophy of Networkism, it is that the participation of domain experts in creating articles and debating their deletion increases the quality of the process, and most domain experts will not become core members of the community. Now this is all fiction, but over time it will be easier for both Wikipedia to attract domain experts and for them to activate and self-organize, so there may be something to learn from here.
Many Articles intersect with networked groups, and in many cases those groups mean ill towards Wikipedia. I see value in the role, not the philosophy, of a Deletionist, because practically they are the first and most persistent ones to debate against outside groups. But unlike the Recent Changes patrol reverting vandalism, where domain expertise is not required, their activity directly excludes potentially valuable members of the community.
Blogs as Sources
A second issue which has arisen is the role of blogs as reliable sources, a guideline for verification and no original research rules. While the guideline rightly suggests there is a difference between blogs (Reliability is a spectrum, and must be considered on a case by case basis...For example, the blog of an academic department is not merely a personal blog, but should be looked at in the totality of the source.) -- media literacy of the blogosphere is under-developed. Having an institution behind a blog is a traditional fact checking measure. Other sources are reliable because there is an editorial process prior to publication. But with blogs, this process happens post-publication. A blog or a post cannot be judged reliable in isolation.
With the Enterprise 2.0 Article, verification is provided by an article in the MIT-Sloan Management Review, an HBS case study, a BusinessWeek article and reference to a Don Tapscott book. But for some, this is not enough. So I leave it as an open question. Should Dan Farber or Dion Hinchcliffe blogging under the ZDNet masthead qualify as a reliable source, or is what makes them reliable what links to them say?