Wikipedia Reexamines Its Assumptions — or not

Taking a new look at old assumptions is as difficult in the digital world as it is elsewhere — something Wikipedia is currently discovering.  The stewards of the open source site have started asking themselves if they can increase the accuracy of their entries.

As the Financial Times reports, the site’s stable of voluntary editors has not grown apace with its increasing volume of articles.  The result, says the FT, is that entries “will be harder to monitor quality — and vested interests will find it easier to make alterations that reflect their own views.”

Not that the site lacks for accuracy challenges now.  The FT notes that “even optimists… agree with the more skeptical observers on this: that in terms of reliability and service, Wikipedia still has along way to go.”  Yet attempts to “subject changes by newcomers [i.e., new contributors] to approval by more experienced editors and flagging any revisions” have run into intense resistance in the hyper-egalitarian Wiki-corps.

The communications problem here is a familiar one:  The world has changed.  The organization needs to adjust. But both members of the organization (those most involved with Wikipedia are volunteers, not employees) and many of those it serves see the adjustments as violating the values and standards that got the organization where it is today and that they believe in.  Part of leadership in a time of change is to communicate how fundamental values are being preserved, not thrown over, by recognizing that circumstances have changed.

Clark Judge As Managing Director of the White House Writers Group, Clark Judge provides strategic communications counsel to clients in industries ranging from financial services to transportation to high technology.

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