Posted by: kurtsh | January 2, 2006

COMMENTARY: More reasons why Wiki’s a weak reference tool

I nearly kneeled over laughing reading this.
 
The full text explanation of the rationale around the comic is here.
 
Apparently the folks at Penny Arcade discovered that wikipedia is almost entirely subjective.  Objectivity is not a requirement for anyone publishing to a given publicly accessible wiki.
 
At Microsoft, we have a wiki and it works wonderfully.  It’s called a Support database.  When you call into Microsoft with a problem, all the research and solution information is cataloged for anyone else to reference.  Granted the content is rather "pell mell’ in the sense that every email, every comment, every dialogue is recorded for everyone to read – this includes every customer swear word, every bit of customer-identifiable information, every Microsoft reference to current issues and secret projects being worked on.  (These are the reasons, y’all, the reading public aren’t permitted to see it.)
 
But the difference between OUR Support database, and public wikis is that:
1) ACCOUNTABILITY
Everyone is held accountable to their entries and there are consequences to ‘screwing around’ with the Support database… being fired is one of those consequences.  Not to mention that everything in the database is backed up regularly.
2) COMMON PURPOSE
People using the database are in there to track their own customer’s product support issues.  It’s their JOB to create good content and get resolutions by recording nothing but fact… conjecture is identified readily, and dismissed if it is found to be incorrect, however both the hypothesis and the conclusion are recorded permanently for posterity.  Putting inaccurate information only hurts the employee, not to mention other employees.
3) UNIFYING GOAL
The Support organization has a unifying goal of helping to make Microsoft a better company through the creation of a better customer experience.  This is the foundation upon which the Support database exists, thus, everything that is entered into it is done with "the company’s best interests in mind".
 
Public wiki has NONE of this which is why most wiki content is an endless charade of subjective opinions masquerading as expert fact.

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