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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 ggvaidya (747058) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:02PM (#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].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:02PM (#12178956)
    They are reporting that Pope John Paul II is still alive [msn.com].

    As far as I know according to the former pope's philosophy, only one guy returned from the grave like that; so it seems the darkest sacrelege for Encarta effectively announcing his reencarnation by calling him alive.

    If he knew what Encarta says about him (and he probably can read it from heaven), I bet he'd turn over in his grave -- oops - perhaps that turning over is what Encarta's mistaking for life.

  • Re:Ummm.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by malraid (592373) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:03PM (#12178963)
    Yeah right, like someone (BSD) might build a network stack that anybody (yeah, even a company like Microsoft) can use for free.
  • Re:Pattern? (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheWanderingHermit (513872) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:12PM (#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.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:13PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:23PM (#12179196)
    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 right away. ;) (Not trolling, just kidding.)
  • Re:Pattern? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Neopoleon (874543) on Friday April 08, 2005 @05:36PM (#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.

For every bloke who makes his mark, there's half a dozen waiting to rub it out. -- Andy Capp

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