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Wikipedia is a Long Tail Business

I hit upon an entry of my family name Tung 董 in Wikipedia yesterday. What I saw doesn't delight me. It looks like a mischievous teenage has put his twisted bio into the entry. I went in to clean it out and added Tung Chee Hwa as the sole representative of the Tung clan for now. Although it has only 3 lines, this is my first original content contributed to Wikipedia. And a little something I have done for my family name. Furthermore I am delight to find the prankish entry has only been up for 10 days before I shot it down.

Wikipedia is frequently looked as a rival to traditional institutions like Britannica. People like to pick out bad entries from Wikipedia and complain how professionalism is being overran by amateurishness. I of course have many counter arguments. But today I have realized something more. If encyclopedia is to be a most comprehensive reference of knowledge of all kind, then it is a long tail business! I don't expect anyone would care enough to put an entry of my family name into an encyclopedia (I have been generous to call Tung "a common Chinese family name"). There is going to be many many knowledge important only to a small group of people and few others. In the age of information explosion Britannica would have a hard time to hire enough experts to write about each and everything important and remain economically viable. Just 4 years since inception Wikipedia already claim more articles than Britannica. It is really no accident.

2005.11.11 [] - comments



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