Expert retention, respect for other contributors, and the "widely distributed" ikkyu2 essay
In 2005 I wrote an essay about Wikipedia and its shortcomings. I put it here on this userpage and forgot about it. Someone read it, though, and then a lot of people read it.
I was wrong. I say so not because I can point to a flaw in my initial reasoning, and not because the arguments of opponents convinced me. Wikipedia itself convinced me otherwise. As of today - May 2011 - Wikipedia is as good a source of information as can be found. It has errors - as do other sources of information that I routinely consult. Is it the perfect repository of information that I would wish it to be? No, it is not.
But in every way that counts, since I wrote my essay in 2005, it is trending towards becoming that perfect repository that we all wish it to be. I expected that it would trend towards mediocrity - in this I was wrong. Every day the articles I consult are better referenced, contain more information and more germane information, and that information is presented in a style that is at once expository, coherent, and generative of interest.
I am grateful to everyone who participated in conversation and debate with me. I do not believe anybody was really offended by my little polemic, but if they were, I apologize to them for being wrong and for being offensive. And a tip of my hat to the Wikipedia editors and admins - good job.