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Microsoft Encarta Adopting Wikiesque Process 314

Posted by Zonk
from the i-love-making-up-words dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The MSN Encarta program manager announced that readers of Microsoft's encyclopedia articles can now edit articles in a Wikipedia-like fashion. Once submitted, edits are reviewed by Encarta staff members for accuracy, readability, and proofreading before being incorporated into the article." From the post: "To support this program, we've hired some new research editors. Their job will be to help you out with things like fact-checking, syntax, and editorial style. Every writer can use a good editor, and we see no reason that community contributors deserve any less." J adds: This won't be a big surprise, but "Your submissions to Encarta must be your own work" and "you grant Microsoft permission to use, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, modify, translate and reformat your Submission."
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Microsoft Encarta Adopting Wikiesque Process

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  • by Silverlancer (786390) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:17PM (#12178408)
    First Britannica takes over Wikipaedia, and now, one week later, Encarta announces wikification? What a world we live in!
  • by Sensible Clod (771142) <dc-7@nOsPam.charter.net> on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:17PM (#12178412) Homepage
    1. Imitate what is obviously an excellent encyclopedia system.

    2. Patent it under some dumb name.

    3. ???

    4. Profit! In Soviet Microsoft, software patents edit YOU!!!

    Seriously, though, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, etc...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Wikipedia, the free "online encyclopedia" has been hailed as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Anybody can access it free of charge, anyone can add to it, and there's any entry for everything. Right?

      It turns out that the great advantage of the Wikipedia, the wiki format, which allows everybody to add/edit everything, is also its greatest disadvantage. There are a few topics that I care about, a few of which I actually contributed to the German version of Wikipedia. Watching these entries change over t
  • Me Too! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:17PM (#12178414)
    I can't imagine that this will actually work, I mean how many people submit/modify Wikipedia articles each day? It will be impossible for Microsoft's small (in comparison) payed staff to sift through hundreds, even thousands of changes, even if they use an automated filter to reduce the number of poor submissions. The page says a submission may take weeks before it appears, and I think this is being optimistic. In the end I question if this will even yield higher quality articles than Wikipedia, this just seems like Microsoft saying, hey look "me too!"
    • Re:Me Too! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Stonehand (71085) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:34PM (#12178629) Homepage
      It's possible that because Microsoft will be filtering through a staff rather than immediately accepting updates, that fewer people will post because they know that their updates won't necessarily even be used.

      Of course, since it's Microsoft, the company a considerable number of people love to hate, you could also see the anti-Micro$oft crowd trying to DOS their poor encyclopaedia staff with bogus submissions, but I hope folks aren't THAT hard-up for something to do.
      • Re:Me Too! (Score:2, Funny)

        by mr.newt (244023)
        Shouldn't there be a "hint hint" or "cough cough" or something at the end of your post?
        • Re:Me Too! (Score:3, Funny)

          by S.O.B. (136083)
          How about nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Say no more.
        • Re:Me Too! (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Stonehand (71085)
          Actually, no. I've little reason to dislike the people who run Microsoft Encarta or their research staff, as far as I know, and even if I did, denial-of-service attacks don't strike me as the right approach to take.

          I'd rather vote by withholding dollars or support, freely criticizing where and when it seems appropriate, and backing legal action if and when they cross legal red lines. Sue 'em if they attempt to leverage their monopoly by blocking competing efforts in their web browser or if they violate I
      • Re:Me Too! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by imroy (755)

        I dunno, I've got lots of spare time :)

        My devious mind starts wondering.... Take a random Wikipedia article, use the Google language tools to translate it to some other language and then back to English. Submit it to MS Encarta under the name of another randomly chosen Wikipedia article. The only problem I envision is that MS will probably require a complex login and verification process instead of allowing anonymous contributions. That'd make scripting more difficult. I could do it manually a few times

    • Re:Me Too! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Neopoleon (874543) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:46PM (#12178768) Homepage
      "I can't imagine that this will actually work"

      That's a great attitude. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

      "It will be impossible for Microsoft's small (in comparison) payed staff to sift through hundreds, even thousands of changes, even if they use an automated filter to reduce the number of poor submissions."

      Impossible?

      So you've tried it?

      We couldn't possibly know the chances of success without having more information. I work for the company, and *I* don't even have any idea how many people we've hired to handle this.

      There are also assumptions being made here about the volume of changes. It could be that the type of person who is an Encarta customer isn't the type of person who likes to submit corrections/additions, and that the overall traffic might be very *low*.

      I say give it a chance. At worst, it will quietly fail, and nobody gets hurt.

      At best, Encarta becomes a community effort.

      Sounds like it's worth the risk to me.

      "this just seems like Microsoft saying, hey look 'me too!'"

      It's actually very difficult to find *anything* in the tech world that doesn't somehow fall under the category of "me too!"

      Frankly, I'm glad that Microsoft is more concerned with getting a quality product out than with its image as an innovator.

      The fact is, people seem to like Wikipedia, and we're giving it a shot ourselves, not because of the "Hey - we need to be like Wikipedia" factor, but because it seems like a good idea.

      Not only that, but I actually rather like the idea here (and this post is the first I've heard of it). Adding a panel to review submissions for accuracy seems like a good move. If it works, then I think it will greatly enhance the value of the product.

      But, then, I'm biased. I *do* own stock in the company :)
      • Re:Me Too! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Queer Boy (451309) *
        Frankly, I'm glad that Microsoft is more concerned with getting a quality product out than with its image

        Oh man, that should have garnered you enough -1 Trolls to be modded out of my threshold. When has MS EVER been concerned with getting a quality product out???

        This is definitely a response to Encarta becoming obsolete in the face of Wikipedia and in typical MS style they don't really get why the competition is better and are implementing the wrong part.

    • Re:Me Too! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Goalie_Ca (584234) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:48PM (#12178790)
      I don't know many people who are willing to submit changes and then pay $$ to see it. The whole reason why wiki is successful is because any one can benefit.

      This post is exclusively available for MSN Encarta Premium Subscribers. Already a subscriber? Sign in above.

    • Indeed, Wikipedia's strengths, which compel me to involve myself, are a matter of a complex culture existing which permits an exchange of information and the development of a collaborative knowledge base, and the culture surrounding that knowledge base is a culture which is absolutely fundamentally dependent on the presence of every element of the Wikipedia design, including discussion pages for exchange of information and peer review, on page histories, and on the very sense of the project being a communit
  • To follow ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by foobsr (693224) * on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:17PM (#12178417) Homepage Journal
    Select one:

    positiv: So MS values the "Wikiesque Process"
    neutral: An interesting develpment
    negative: Who will own the copyright? Surely M$!

    CC.
  • /. jokes (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:17PM (#12178418)
    Get ready for a stream of jokes about how /. should do the same...
  • Pattern? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cybersaga (451046) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:17PM (#12178421) Homepage
    Microsoft Writes Open Source Child Porn Buster [slashdot.org]
    Longhorn to use UNIX-like User Permissions [slashdot.org]
    "Readers of Microsoft's encyclopedia articles can now edit articles in a Wikipedia-like fashion"

    huh...
    • Re:Pattern? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TheCabal (215908) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:21PM (#12178468) Journal
      Yeah, for a group of people who hate Microsoft, they sure do talk about it a lot.
      • Re:Pattern? (Score:3, Funny)

        by Locke2005 (849178)
        for a group of people who hate Microsoft, they sure do talk about it a lot. Kind of like the Republicans and Gay Marriage?
    • Re:Pattern? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by brontus3927 (865730) <edwardra3@gmailTIGER.com minus cat> on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:39PM (#12178689) Homepage Journal
      The five stages of grief [about.com] are
      • Denial
      • Anger
      • Bargaining
      • Depression
      • Acceptance
      I don't know that a business can be depressed in the emotional sense of the word, but I think Microsoft's strategy RE:Linux has fit this overall theme. I'd say MS is currently moving into the Barganing stage. Hopefully Acceptance won't be that far off. One /.er made a snide remark about a future with a MS Linux distro. The chances of that aren't great, but I would love to see it happen.

      Microsoft's inital position on Linux has been harsh, but do remember, Linux is 1)direct competition to Windows and 2)has a radically differnt philosophy that basically attacks the core of Microsoft's business model. How would anyone here feel if someone sprang up in direct competion to the way you live your life? How do any of us react to luddites and technophobes? Very similarly in spirit to MS's initial reaction to Linux.
      But the shock is starting to where off and Microsoft is realizing that Linux isn't going away. So their learning and changing.

      The changes in Encarta aren't just about embracing wiki. Microsoft's corporate buzzwords, the backbone of the feature set promoted in Office 2003 are integration and colaboration. Microsoft is simply extending that.

      • Re:Pattern? (Score:4, Informative)

        by TheWanderingHermit (513872) on Friday April 08, 2005 @03:12PM (#12179076)
        You make some very interesting points. To extend it a bit, here's more:

        1) Whlie MS is a corporation, it is made up of people, and its direction and attitude are controlled by a handfull of people, the same ones who have been there all along. So when you're looking at how the company responds, the company's response is a reflection of how those at the top feel.

        2) People don't always go through these stages in the same order. I'd say we've seen a lot of denial, but have yet to see the anger. We'll see that (even combined with bargaining) when they realize there's no way to stop FOSS and start filing all the lawsuits they can.

        3) I'd say it's more of a distant threat to Windows. They're feeling it now, but if you look at the numbers, Windows systems still blow away Linux in numbers. It's not really competition for them yet.

        But this brings on a bigger point. MS has been the big guy has always dealt with competition in only a few ways: 1) buy them out, 2) give away product until they go bankrupt, 3) change standards so the competition won't work. They have yet to EVER go head to head against any company on a level playing field, where MS has to compete with them on NOTHING more than the quality of the product -- at least in the long run. They may start that way, but once they realize they aren't winning, they tip the tables in their favor by whatever tricks they can, and NOT by improving their product.

        Linux is different for many reasons. It's not about profit. It's not a company that can be bought or driven out of business. It's not one unified source (no pun intended) that can be quickly snuffed. It's like fighting a swarm of bees, instead of facing a cobra. You kill the cobra, and it's gone. You kill one bee, there's a hundred more to sting you again.

        While MS is beginning to face the reality that Linux is here, and likely won't go away, a lot of what's going on has to do with the fact that the Linux (in specific and FOSS in general) development and deployment model is so alien to them they still don't get what's going on. They're trying to, and they're realizing if they don't adapt, they'll destroy themselves, and they're trying to understand the competition, but all they can see is the letter of the process, not the spirit.
        • Re:Pattern? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Neopoleon (874543) on Friday April 08, 2005 @06:36PM (#12181579) Homepage
          As an employee of Microsoft, I feel that I have some inside knowledge that I can contribute to this conversation...

          "Whlie MS is a corporation, it is made up of people, and its direction and attitude are controlled by a handfull of people, the same ones who have been there all along. So when you're looking at how the company responds, the company's response is a reflection of how those at the top feel."

          While it might appear that way from the outside, it's really very different from within the b0rg cube.

          Although strategy, as in many large companies, is typically handed down from the top, the highest rewards go to the employees who change something about Microsoft - whether that change is financial, cultural, or whatever.

          In a sense, this is top management asking *everybody* in the company to contribute to strategy.

          The problem is that, with 55,000 of us, it can sometimes be tough to be heard. But, the opportunity is there for anybody who wants to step up and suggest a new way of doing things.

          This new Encarta strategy, for example, almost certainly came from someone low down in the hierarchy. The higher-ups are too busy making the decisions that suits make (which is exactly what they should be doing). Someone on the Encarta team probably took a look at Wikipedia and figured out a way to integrate aspects of the system into Encarta to improve Encarta's value. That's not a top-down decision.

          "...once they realize they aren't winning, they tip the tables in their favor by whatever tricks they can, and NOT by improving their product."

          First of all, you'd be hard pressed to find someone in the company who feels that we aren't "winning." Most MS employees are so consumed with doing their jobs well that they could care less about whether or not a product is succeeding against a competitor - that, fortunately, is a concern for the higher-ups. The people building this stuff absolutely *do* work on improving products. There are exceptions (IE, although we're working on this), but for the most part, in order to make products better and encourage future adoption, we *have* to improve products, and most employees relish the process.

          The fact is, your average softie could double or triple his/her salary by going to a competitor like IBM - Microsoft doesn't pay that well in spite of the money in the bank. Most people are at Microsoft because they *want* to be there and because they believe in the company, which actually makes them more akin to OSS developers than, say, developers working for another company.

          It's just that we happen to like MS software, and OSS devs happen to like OSS software.

          In short, we're all working to change the company from the *bottom* up. Not all direction comes from the top.

          "Linux is different for many reasons. It's not about profit."

          Linux, like Microsoft, isn't that simple.

          There are people who are definitely in it for the dough. Believe me - I live in Portland (my cousin lives a few houses down from Linus, actually), and I encounter my fair share of OSS consultants out here, and I can assure you that my car looks rather shabby next to some of the nice pieces of machinery these people are driving.

          I also have friends who could care less about the dough, and for whom the whole reward is understanding something more about the kernel.

          Also, where profit is concerned, I think you might find some opposition to your point of view coming from companies like IBM which have simultaneously contributed to, and fed off of OSS.

          None of the this stuff is black and white - Linux, MS, IBM, whatever - *none* of it.
    • Re:Pattern? (Score:5, Funny)

      by jb.hl.com (782137) <joe@joe[ ]ldwin.net ['-ba' in gap]> on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:40PM (#12178690) Homepage Journal
      We really should have patented busting child pornographers, UNIX permissions and Wikis a long time ago... ...we'd be ROLLING in it, for fucks sake.
    • Re:Pattern? (Score:3, Funny)

      by pHatidic (163975)
      Microsoft is making an open source kiddy porn wiki?
    • Theyre not the first company who said oh crap, we could've done that. No they couldn't have.

      I submit articles to wikipedia because I know I'm not making someone else rich, and the information there remains pretty much unbiased. I'd love to read Linux articles and articles on GPL, software patents etc, on Encarta. If I submit 'Linux is more stable', will it get approved?

      So heres another company that says we'll look cool to opensource people, let them work on our projects and we'll sell the stuff. Sun has b
    • Microsoft Writes Open Source Child Porn Buster [slashdot.org]

      Ah, my mistake. I thought you were addressing me as Buster and suggesting that Microsoft was writing Open Source Child Porn.

      I mean, really, is Microsoft above alleging a connection between Child Porn and Open Source Software?

      I'm sure Dr. Oxford himself would concur regarding such a connection [pointlesswasteoftime.com], after all.
  • Is it just me... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Morlark (814687)
    Is it just me, or does this sound like Microsoft wants users to write their encyclopedia for them?
  • Goatse.cx? (Score:4, Funny)

    by kesler (576674) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:19PM (#12178446) Homepage
    What are the odds that they'd approve this article? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goatse.cx [wikipedia.org]
    • Re:Goatse.cx? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lispy (136512) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:28PM (#12178552) Homepage
      First of all: chill down. This link leads to a real artivle not an offensive image.
      Second: I must say that Wiki serves me pretty well especially with some cryptic webtrends/names wich I sometimes don't get the first time. It's a great source if you want to know more about things you wouldn't find in any other encyclopedia. This is where Encarta will come in second place I guess.
  • Yes, but (Score:5, Funny)

    by AEton (654737) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:20PM (#12178454)
    will their encyclopedia be digitally signed?

    I don't know how I can trust it otherwise.
  • Ummm.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ucblockhead (63650) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:20PM (#12178460) Homepage Journal
    Why would I want to spend time to contribute something for free so that Microsoft can turn around and sell it for a profit?

    What's next, and "community" site to allow programmers to write new applications for Microsoft to sell?

    • You do realize the GPL expressly allows people to sell your free contributions, right?
      • Re:Ummm.... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by codeonezero (540302)
        (first IANAL) However, it also means that derivative works (see GPL definition of this) that use the GPL material must be freely available. So you can still sell it, nobody is going to stop you, but the buyer has the same rights you have. You must make the source available to the buyer and the buyer can then turn around and distribute it freely or sell it again for profit.

        In any case Wikipedia is licensed under GNU Free Document License, not GPL, though I hear they are similar. I have not read the wik
    • BECAUSE.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:32PM (#12178592)
      Wikipedia is useless in getting true information in most cases, it only demonstrates the folly of trying to achieve truth by group consensus.

      Someone says the Earth is round , someone else say it is flat. They can argue about it till the cows come home , but the only way to put the matter to rest is to compromise and say it is square. So then of course Wikipedia will wind up with the asinine statement that the Earth is square. So then the reader comes along and reads the article and thinks he made a step forward when he actually made a step backwards to his quest for knowledge.

      It does not matter that Wikipedia has half a million articles if the bulk of them are loaded with the nutty opinions and hearsay of mouth-foaming raving lunatics pounding away at their keyboards day and night in their personal Jihad to get their version of the world published on Wikipedia.

      Just try to edit any controversial topic on Wikipedia and see what happens within 15 minutes.

      It is scary when you think about it , we are now spreading so much misinformation through the internet through sites like Wikipedia that appear on the surface as legitimate sources but which in reality are mostly conduits of partisan propaganda.

      There used to be a time when Knowledge was the result of real research and facts. Wikipedia and other similar sites have turned knowledge into a duel of dissenting opinions.

      Truth will never be what the editors of Wikipedia and other such sites say it is, Truth is what is regardless of what we would want the world to believe.

      Wikipedia should do the world a favor and at the very least cut the academic pretense and announce that it is only a collection of opinions on any given topic.
      • Re:BECAUSE.. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Queer Boy (451309) *
        Just try to edit any controversial topic on Wikipedia and see what happens within 15 minutes.

        Compared to the non-existence of controversial topics in any other encyclopaedia. I think I'll take the one that actually exists.

      • Re:BECAUSE.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Fnkmaster (89084) on Friday April 08, 2005 @04:42PM (#12180213)
        Okay, Mr. Troll, so truth is an absolute, and the "mouth-foaming raving lunatics" who write Wikipedia submissions have no particular insight into this absolute truth, but for some reason the editors at Encarta do? Or the people who write academic journal articles? Or the people who write books on the shelf at the library?

        I mean, if truth is a mysterious absolute and everybody's opinion is just some schmoe's biased opinion, why the fuck are these other sources better windows on the truth than Wikipedia? You seem to propose, in a typically ignorant illiberal fashion (not conservative, but illiberal), that the existance of dissenting opinions itself *IS* the problem, and that by presenting a nice, tidy, consistent, biased opinion that neglects the alternative point of view, you somehow get closer to the truth.

        In fact, I have very rarely seen an article on Wikipedia that follows the pattern you suggest, where two sides compromise by writing a complete factual falsehood. Your straw-man simply doesn't exist. Get over it. The entire reason for the NPOV schtick is to get people to present both sides without blatantly saying one opinion is right and the other is wrong, and getting the writers to distinguish between the facts and the interpretations/opinions.
    • Re:Ummm.... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PepeGSay (847429)
      Do you think this is really that different than any other open-source project. Well..... I can tell you the difference. Most open-source projects don't have enough market viability to be profitable.
    • Re:Ummm.... (Score:3, Informative)

      by malraid (592373)
      Yeah right, like someone (BSD) might build a network stack that anybody (yeah, even a company like Microsoft) can use for free.
    • Nobody wants to give a business something for free and have the business turn around and sell it for profit. Early Wikipedia contributors feared this was Jimbo Wales' stealth plan. This fear seems to have died down.
    • Re:Ummm.... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jc42 (318812)
      Wikipedia is useless in getting true information in most cases, ...

      Oh, I dunno about that. I just recently dug around for sites that listed the assorted physical and orbital numbers for a lot of bodies in the solar system. I found that Wikipedia was among the best-organized and most-complete sites. And the pages are quite consistent in their layout, making for rapid location of the data. ... it only demonstrates the folly of trying to achieve truth by group consensus.

      Actually, much of the scientific
  • by 0kComputer (872064) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:21PM (#12178467)
    Bud Light Presents Real Men of Genius
    (Real Men of Genius)
    Today we salute you Mr. Aaron Patterson
    (Mr. Aaron Patterson)
    Where would this world be without you and your innovations like typing www.en.wikkipedia.org into your address bar and copying virtually every feature off of it.
    (Mr Copycat)
    Thanks you for giving us the brilliant new features of user contributions and a clean fresh design just like www.en.wikkipedia.org.
    (Who do you think you're fooling?)
    Few men are brave enough to steal an idea and call it their own, but you have no problem posting about it on your blog.
    (Look at ME!)
    So crack open an ice cold Bud Light Mr Aaron Patterson You have high standands when it come to the online encyclopedia industry, and intelectual property
    (Mr. Aaron Patterson)
  • by Capt'n Hector (650760) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:21PM (#12178473)
    I think this is a good idea, perhaps better than wikipedia's current setup. For starting out an article, it's less than desireable but at some point an article has to be "finished" for most purposes. In the same way articles at wikipedia are nominated for "featured article" status, perhaps articles should also be nominated for "finished" status at which point they should become harder to edit. Also, then you could get an independent authority to stamp it as "accurate," something with which wikipedia will always have trouble if they don't change.
  • by Vexler (127353) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:22PM (#12178483) Journal
    1) Monopoly
    2) Linux
    3) SCO
    4) Longhorn
    5) U.S. Department of Justice
  • by Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:23PM (#12178486)
    the universe is now about to be slashdotted [slashdot.org] with M$ rewriting history, /. paradoxes and all. If you don't believe me, then why have there been so many dupes lately: TIME PERIODS ARE COVERGING.

    The end is the beginning, the end of days, dogs and cats living together. Tux and Clippy playing ring around the posie (sp?)

  • by NigelJohnstone (242811) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:24PM (#12178496)
    "Dns cache poisoning"
    Encarta:
    Separate articles on Cache, DNS and Poison none useful.

    Wikipedia:
    None found, Suggests searching Wikipedia with Google or Yahoo, Google suggests this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoofing_attacks [wikipedia.org]

    Which has a link to this one:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNS_cache_poisoning [wikipedia.org]

    Shows you how fresh Wikipedia is, it looks like the DNS Cache poisioning page is too new to be indexed by either Google or Yahoo.
    More to the point I can see why Microsoft wants to go the same way.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Wikipedia articles are case-sensitive. If you search for "DNS cache poisoning", it goes to the correct page. As for google not indexing the page yet, It was the first result returned when I searched for it. (Remember, google searches are not case-sensitive.) By clicking on the History tab, you can see that the page was created on 15 Feb 2005, so google and yahoo would have had plenty of time to index it.

      But I see what you're saying about Wikipedia being "fresh". I like seeing my vandalism show up righ
  • by cahiha (873942) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:25PM (#12178508)
    Open source: users do all the testing, bug reporting, and create the content.

    Proprietary: same as open source, except you pay some company for the privilege, again and again
  • by Viceice (462967) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:26PM (#12178524)
    Microsoft releases WinXP kernel under GPL
  • by ggvaidya (747058) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:27PM (#12178531) Homepage Journal
    This is GOOD for all those (poor) people still using Encarta. My first thought when I saw Wikipedia was the idea that knowledge could be updated - not just major important stuff (Pope -> previous Pope) but less important stuff as well (almost all processors are 32-bit --> a number of 64-bit microprocessors have been released, etc.). You get the picture.

    And now Encarta will have that. Which is a GOOD thing. If you want to create an encyclopedia, you go with Wikipedia (or H2G2, or Everything2). If you want to help improve Encarta, because you use it a lot, NOW YOU CAN. It's just a feature, people.
  • Any idea that someone thought of and implemented years ago that:

    a) Microsoft found on the Internet
    b) Microsoft starting using
    c) Microsoft patents the idea (see 'Patent' in MSN)
    d) Microsoft sues the pants of everybody using it.
  • by justforaday (560408) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:29PM (#12178555)
    Anyone want to bet that their "fact checkers" just head over to wikipedia to check the submissions?
  • Ken (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FuturePastNow (836765) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:30PM (#12178567)
    So this is what they hired Ken Jennings to do! It all makes sense now.
  • So, here are the interesting features they've added -- in their own words:

    (1) The "Encarta Answers" service for getting instant answers to your questions will be available in four new languages. Repeat "FOUR" new languages. Boy, was that tough!

    (2) Whole site gets a new makeover, with a simpler, cleaner design. It makes all of our pages load a bit faster, too. Yep, we figure somehow clean sites are not only cleaner, they are a lot clear too. And that makes more space for all those ads too.

    (4) L
  • Luckily for us all, Microsoft's EMBRACE, EXTEND, and EXTINGUISH will not take root in this case.
  • I wonder if.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by karn096 (807073)
    they accept openoffice edited articles...
  • How? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sv-Manowar (772313) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:33PM (#12178614) Homepage Journal
    If Microsoft are going to have a team to check over every piece of data entered/edited, didn't they do their research?

    Wikipedia works so well because of the volume of information that is changed, and that is changed in real time. Microsoft would need a HUGE team, or have to outsource, and although an outsourced encyclopedia would prove comedic, it wouldn't be useful.
  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:37PM (#12178659)
    Ideas Wikipedia could implement:

    A moderation system, including a way to submit changes to articles. Basically, there would be a way for readers to "vote" for various metrics on articles, including accuracy, readability, etc. Also, the system would keep track of articles that are accessed more often. The moderation system would work like this: The more often an article is accessed, the more important it is assumed to be, and therefore, changes would need to get higher moderation points before becoming an officially accepted part of the article. Up to that point, there would be a list of pending changes at the bottom of articles, which readers could see. This is akin to the development/stable process used in software development, and it would perhaps increase the quality of articles.

    Further, Wikipedia should figure out all kinds of business ventures to bring in money for further quality improvement. A Wikipedia magazine, containing random articles picked by a small staff; a dead-tree Wikipedia set, CDs and DVDs, and other junk that could be sold might bring in money to pay a staff of researchers to go through the entire encyclopedia and increase the detail level and quality of its contents.

    Also, a method for adding pictures, videos, and other content to articles should be provided, so people can contribute original art, photographs, music, etc., or like items that are free/public domain. This would add value to the encyclopedia as a whole.

    • by ggvaidya (747058) on Friday April 08, 2005 @03:02PM (#12178945) Homepage Journal
      Okay, every Wikipedian on /. is going to reply to this one (and it's definitely +5, Interesting, which is why it needs a good response), so lemme give it a shot:

      1. Moderation is tricky like hell. Slashdot has one of the best moderating systems out there, and you see how many mods-on-crack you still see. It might still work out, and it might be a good idea to try it out. Atleast part of the appeal of Wikipedia (atleast for me) is that I can go into the present article on, say, QBASIC, delete every single word that's been written on the subject, and start over. Of course, if my new version sucks, somebody will revert it back to their version. If its better, it stays. That kind of flexibility comes at a cost, and it's something we at Wikipedia patrol vigorously. But I think that is extremely cool. There have been attempts [bbc.co.uk] made [everything2.org] to create a moderated encyclopedia. I think that would just take the fun out of Wikipedia very quickly.

      2. Business has always been a tricky issue at Wikipedia - pretty famously, the Spanish Wikipedia forked into the Encyclopedia Libre [enciclopedia.us.es] because of worries that advertising might go up on Wikipedia. Even now, a lot of people are worried about whether advertising would affect the way we work. Right now, the status quo seems to be raising money for equipment from donation drives and merchandising [cafepress.com].

      3. It's been done [wikimedia.org].
  • Can someone explain them that Linux [msn.com] and OSS [msn.com] are not the same.

    And keep track of changes of these articles
  • You want me to pay you to allow me to write articles for your encyclopedia that you will in turn update and continue to charge me for? I think the only article that I will revise is the one on Microsoft. Let me see what it says...WTF?!?! I can't even view it without being a premium subscriber. No way I'm gonna pay $4.95 for this crap. Wikipedia will do just fine.
  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:42PM (#12178721)
    What Wikipedia really needs is a formal way to add academic-style citations to articles. Added value could be gained by making these citations into links. Citations to real printed works would be preferred, and these links could go directly to an online bookstore (such as Amazon), which would pay Wikipedia a small fee each time someone buys a book through Wikipedia.

    Also, Amazon-style "people who read this article also read..." links should guide people through the Wikipedia.

    Google-style text links could be placed on the side of some articles.

    The revenue from all of these activities could finance a staff of full-time researchers, photographers, developers, and so on, who could improve the quality and detail level of the reference as a whole. I know people here hate commercials, but they're small, text-only, and will help this free resource to grow into something that can rival the likes of the old-style Encyclopedia Britannica. I can see room for so much here; it will just take boatloads of money to make it work really well.

    • They already have these things, they're just not widely used except in featured articles. The footnote template allows you to cite things to endnotes. The endnotes can either be citations from books or links. It also has a nifty ISBN feature, which allows you to look up a cited book in an online bookseller by its ISBN number.

      Doubtful that either amazon or google ads will appear though.
    • Tying the content to revenue generating relationships. I don't see that affecting the quality of wikipedia at all. Nope, not one bit.
    • Wiki already allows ISBN links that will return a list of sources including amazon and including public libraries. This is preferable as it allows the users to choose where to get the book from, including a local university library. Of course, that is not generating any revenue, but I'm not sure making a deal with a particular bookseller is a good idea in terms of the integrity of wikipedia.
  • by presroi (657709) <neubau@presroi.de> on Friday April 08, 2005 @03:02PM (#12178958) Homepage
    Encarta did an interesting step. They didn't actually "open" to feedback as they were already getting feedback, they are just trying to put this feedback into a channel they can control more easily. Microsoft does not change the license of Encarta, that is their right and a lot of people will be willing to accept that they have to pay for something they wrote. Or that they are not allowed to share the texts they contributed to.

    BBC's H2G2 was also a non-free project and a lot of people were willing to contribute to that.

    It will be interesting to see if Encarta can actually defend their policy of "letting someone else to do part of the work". Of course, there are much more ways to pay back the best contributors:

    * Write 20 articles and your name will be in the Microsoft Blog about Encarta
    * Write 200 articles and you might be considered to be hired by their fact-checking department
    * Write 2000 articles ...

    The point is that there is so much more reward in a destructive behavior from some points of view.

    * Who will be the first to smuggle in wrong information into an article that gets published by encarta
    * Who will be able to turn an article into a Microsoft-bashing pamphlet
    * Who will be the first to initiate a scandal about cencorship and so on...

    In the end, it's a nice idea which does not meet the current standards of wikipedia.
    • Microsoft does not change the license of Encarta, that is their right and a lot of people will be willing to accept that they have to pay for something they wrote. Or that they are not allowed to share the texts they contributed to.

      *sigh*

      If Wikipedia got exclusive rights to the material for all my hard work of writing and correcting the articles, I wouldn't contribute to them in the first place.

      I don't want to work for just one company without getting paid. It's a whole different thing with Wikipedia,

  • Sorry to rant here, but Wikipedia is a project from the community for the community. The Microsoft approach is more like, let the community do the job and we cash in on the work of the community. There is a huge difference, and the Microsoft management in their endless greed will never really get it...
  • They must be desperate. They don't use the "everything you write becomes our property" clauses that are so common with similar "look, we let you contribute for free to a product that we sell" systems.
  • by LighthouseJ (453757) on Friday April 08, 2005 @03:10PM (#12179053)
    This article text on Slashdot has the highest Anti-Microsoft slant as I've seen in a long time. Not only is Microsoft chastised with using a rather open submission style that happens to be very similar to Wikipedia, a facility Slashdot readers cling to for dear life as a champion of free thought, but a laundry list of rights that Microsoft assumes when you contribute is displayed in a way to render potential contributors with a strong feeling of vulnerability. Let Microsoft do what they want and if you want to contribute, do so. If you don't like Microsofts' project, then ignore it and go on your way. Afterall, actions (and inactions) speak louder than words. Save everyones time and don't make little pitiful stabs at Microsoft when they can't possibly defend themselves in this arena tailored to encourage only those thoughts which agree with yours (the average Slashdot regular) that often aren't neccessarily fair. So censor me and give me my negative moderation because I don't conform to the Slashdot norm, reinforce my point.
    • ... Microsoft ... using a rather open submission style that happens to be very similar to Wikipedia ...

      Very similar indeed: there's only one step different between them:

      Wikipedia

      • Get people to write articles without pay
      • Make them available under a free, libre license.

      Microsoft:

      • Get people to write articles without pay
      • Make them available under a proprietary license, with a fat profit for MS and no share for the contributor.

      I guess it's up to the individual, potential contributors to decide wheth

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Friday April 08, 2005 @03:13PM (#12179095) Homepage
    ...this is essentially the same process Wikipedia's predecessor, Nupedia used. After 18 months and $250000 they had a total of 12 articles to show for it.
  • yay! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lord Bitman (95493)
    now when my teacher says "You just copied this from Encarta. You fail." I can say "no, no, I wrote that article."
  • I also see great similarities between this plan and Prodigy, an online service of the late eighties and early nineties. Prodigy had discussion forums called "clubs." A club was limited to a specific topic. There was no easy way to start a new one.

    All the clubs were on bland, family-friendly, consumer-oriented topics. Nothing controversial or political or off-color.

    And they hired people, who for want of a better word I'll call "censors," whose job was to patrol the clubs and remove off-topic notices.

    Of co
  • I may give them these rights "grant Microsoft permission to use, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, modify, translate and reformat your Submission."

    But one could still withold the rights for them to "sell" works without permission.
  • MSN is to freely-edited Encarta as Google is to Wikipedia? Remember, Google is considering hosting parts of Wikipedia [slashdot.org] and relies on Wikipedia for many of its factual answers [slashdot.org]. Presumably, MS wants its own (proprietary, of course) equivalent for MSN search. As usual, Google is the innovator and MS is playing catch-up so that it won't be at a disadvantage. (And as usual, MS is wrapping its product in onerous licensing restrictions at the expense of users.)
  • by Zhe Mappel (607548) on Friday April 08, 2005 @08:59PM (#12182971)
    People who give of their time and talents to Wikipedia earn my respect, and I am a former encyclopedia author.

    But people who give of their time to Microsoft are performing charity for billionaires. Clever devils, Redmond: they understand one of the core appeals of the Wiki and open source movements is community, a value so debased in our right wing society that its resurrection in these projects is something of a bright hope.

    There are two problems with the Encarta scheme. One, Microsoft is exploiting unpaid work for its own gain. And two, more critically, Microsoft's notorious censorship (cf. the pruning of disagreeable words from its Office dictionaries), dishonesty in public policy (cf. attempts to control open source) and irresponsibly-used economic might (cf. antitrust behavior in the US and EU) cast a long shadow over its ability to objectively shepherd any body of knowledge.

    Moral: don't do free work for bullies.

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