Wednesday, January 21, 2004

All Hail Wikipedia

It's amazing the things one can find on Wikipedia; a bit of browsing turns up well-written entries for algebraic varieties, Noetherian rings, class field theory, even Iwasawa theory. In combination with PlanetMath and Eric Weisstein's World of Mathematics (aka MathWorld), Wikipedia provides a surprisingly comprehensive reference for the mathematicians who finds it inconvenient or impossible to consult an appropriate Springer yellow book.

One would have expected the Wikipedia project to have quickly deteriorated into a morass of gibberish and misinformation, yet this evidently has not been the case. Is it just a matter of time before the ignorant hordes run the place over, as they are currently attempting to do with comment spamming of Movable Type blogs? Or is there some deeper principle at work which will preserve the quality of the entries even as increasing popularity brings Wikipedia to the attention of ever greater numbers of people? Reading this essay found by Razib titled "Why Wiki Works", I fail to see what will stop determined spammers from wreaking havoc once they start thinking it worth their while to subvert the project to their own selfish goals. Better enjoy it while it lasts, I suppose.