Things are not happy down at Wikipedia. The Register reports on an interview with Jimmy Wales, one of the co-founders of Wikipedia. Wales has acknowledged there are real quality problems with the online work. As with DMOZ, I guess that there is no such thing as a free lunch, and when a "business" uses volunteer editors then there appears no way of controlling them.
There is a run through an article by Nicholas Carr who is decidedly unimpressed with Wiki articles. Randomly he looked at Bill Gates and Jane Fonda's entries in Wiki and concluded
"This is garbage, an incoherent hodge-podge of dubious factoids that adds up to something far less than the sum of its parts," he wrote.
Surprisingly Jimmy Wales agreed with him
"The two examples he puts forward are, quite frankly, a horrific embarassment. [sic] Bill Gates and Jane Fonda are nearly unreadable crap. Why? What can we do about it?" he asked.
And the office politics that are reminiscent of DMOZ
Re-working Wikipedia so it presents the user with something minimally readable will be a mammoth task. Although the project has no shortage of volunteers, most add nothing: busying themselves with edits that simply add or takeaway a comma. These are housekeeping tasks that build up credits for the participants, so they can rise higher in the organization.
And Wikipedia's "cabal" has become notorious for deterring knowledgable and literate contributors
One day Wikipedia may well be the most amazing reference work the world has ever seen, lauded for its quality. But to get from here to there it will need real experts and top quality writing