Wikipedia is no longer reliable, says co-founder

— 2:11 PM on April 11, 2007

A statement of praise for Wikipedia by British Education Secretary Alan Johnson has come under fire from none other than one of the online encyclopedia's co-founders. As The Times reports, Johnson recently stated that Wikipedia "enables anybody to access information which was once the preserve only of those who could afford the subscription to Encyclopaedia Britannica and could spend the time necessary to navigate its maze of indexes and content pages." According to Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger, however, that's not entirely accurate.

Wikipedia is "broken beyond repair" and no longer reliable, Sanger asserts. "I'm afraid that Mr Johnson does not realise the many problems afflicting Wikipedia, from serious management problems, to an often dysfunctional community, to frequently unreliable content, and to a whole series of scandals. While Wikipedia is still quite useful and an amazing phenomenon, I have come to the view that it is also broken beyond repair." One recent scandal involved a long-standing contributor who claimed to be a university professor with a PhD in theology. Last month, it was revealed that the contributor was in fact a 24-year-old college dropout from Kentucky who allegedly used texts like "Catholicism for Dummies" as references.

Because of Wikipedia's allegedly irreparable brokenness, Larry Sanger opened a new online encylopedia called Citizendium late last month. Unlike Wikipedia, Citizendium requires users to reveal their real names, and it is monitored and edited by academics. (Thanks to The Inquirer for the tip.)

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