Why Wikipedia's Policies are Good Policies for All Sites to Adopt

We know there are people that say Wikipedia is largely a clique of otherwise friendless, lifeless nazis that like to interpret and manipulate the rules to fit their agendas. But in looking at their external linking and reference policies — and their reliability and verifiability tests — well, we think they make some good points.

Wikipedia's external links "guidelines" basically state that you should consider certain criteria when providing an external link. Essentially, they say to ask yourself if it's accessible, proper, stable, and the reference correctly formatted. In other words, the source should be available and relate to the topic at hand and it should have longevity and be properly noted. All good.

With the longevity test, they say "…it is not useful to link to a homepage that changes often and merely happens to have a relevant picture or article on its front page at the moment. Similarly, be very wary of citing an unstable page as a source." Now, that's what it says today, mind you. Tomorrow, it could say something entirely different. In other words, Wikipedia fails its own "longevity" test. They say, "It is always preferred to use internal links over external links", yet by their nature, their content is always changing. We forgive them their hypocrisy. We think the idea of internal links, where possible, is better too.

Now, another test, the verifiability test, says that information on Wikipedia must be reliable and verifiable. Problem is, Wikipedia is constantly being changed and added to by people with their own agendas. So, depending on when people choose to follow a link from your site to theirs, the page could say something totally different than what it said when you initially linked to it. They also state that, "The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth." So, the facts aren't important. The sources are. Yikes.

Ok, we admit, Wikipedia scares us. But, again, we do think they make some good points with their linking guidelines and their rules. In fact, so good that we've adopted them ourselves. It is for these reasons that datSplat.com will not link to any Wikipedia.com articles. It just makes sense.

For some more interesting reading involving Wikipedia:
Student's Wikipedia Hoax Dupes Newspapers
Wikipedia Editor Faces Consequences
The Deception of Wikipedia
Why Wikipedia Must Jettison Its Anti-Elitism "The root problem: anti-elitism, or lack of respect for expertise."

"Is it an encyclopedia? Yeah, it’s an encyclopedia. Is it very accurate? I wouldn’t bet my bottom dollar on anything in there." (source)

"The user who visits Wikipedia to learn about some subject, to confirm some matter of fact, is rather in the position of a visitor to a public restroom. It may be obviously dirty, so that he knows to exercise great care, or it may seem fairly clean, so that he may be lulled into a false sense of security. What he certainly does not know is who has used the facilities before him." (source)

"Dilbert" comic strip 05/08/2009: Hang on…

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