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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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  • 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!"
  • 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.
  • Is it just me... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Morlark (814687) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:18PM (#12178436) Homepage
    Is it just me, or does this sound like Microsoft wants users to write their encyclopedia for them?
  • 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.
  • Ummm....BSD (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:24PM (#12178495)
    "Why would I want to spend time to contribute something for free so that [Apple] can turn around and sell it for a profit?"

  • 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 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 Anonymous Coward on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:28PM (#12178546)
    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 the past few months, I noticed the following tendencies:

    1.

    Most contributions are poorly researched, or not researched at all. Accuracy depends mostly on the one website from which the contributor copied the information. A substantial amount of Wikipedia entries contains information that I know to be incorrect.
    2.

    There is no editorial selection. Some entries just grow and grow because some enthusiast who has no sense for what's important and what's not keeps adding pointless stuff to some entries.
    3.

    Due to extensive linkage within Wikipedia itself, a growing number of badly researched, incorrect Wikipedia articles is pushing down well-researched specialist websites in Google rankings.
    4.

    Text and concepts for Wikipedia entries are often blatantly copied from other websites. To avoid instant recognition, the text is sometimes rewritten, adding inaccuracies, inconsistencies or even errors. Due to the nature of the content and the open format of Wikipedia, no copyright holder can do anything about this.

    Wikipedia generates noise, not knowledge. Previous encyclopedias were well-researched and contained precise information that could be trusted to be correct. Wikipedia, on the other hand, contains a large amount of errors, omissions and superfluous trivia.

    Basically, what is happening here is the building of a parallel World Wide Web inside the wikipedia.org domain and calling it an "encyclopedia", which is a total perversity. Just making it searchable and giving it an encyclopedia-like structure doesn't make its content any less fluffy, error-ridden and amateurish than any other website.

    I hope that in a few years it will be so bloated that it will simply disintegrate, because I can't stand the thought that this thing might someday actually be used as a serious reference source. Because in its current form, it's not to be taken serious at all.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • by Orgazmus (761208) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:32PM (#12178589)
    An article, by Microsoft (or published by), criticizing Microsoft? I really dont think so.

    A community page that cant criticize itself and its creator(s), really dont have anything to do with being a community.
    This is just Microsoft wanting free articles.
  • 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: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:Pattern? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brontus3927 (865730) <(edwardra3) (at) (gmail.com)> 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.

  • by ptelligence (685287) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:41PM (#12178711)
    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.
  • Re:Ummm.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by codeonezero (540302) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:43PM (#12178732)
    (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 wikipedia license yet.

  • by stratjakt (596332) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:43PM (#12178738) Journal
    Know what?

    I think an encyclopaedia should stick to factual information, and not philosophical or political rants.

    I sure hope they wouldn't put any of the type of drivel slashbots spew into Encarta.

    There's too much of it in Wikipedia, which is good, because it guarantee's that anyone with a brain reading it will never, ever, forget that it's an amateur hack-job.

    Never will (or should) you be able to cite Wikipedia in, say, your Master's thesis, and expect to pass.
  • 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: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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:55PM (#12178860)
    All they need to do is add features like delivery to a cell phone; and they'll patent "having a user-editable encyclopedia's info accessible on a cell phone". Create enough of these, and they'll create a legal minefield that will empower them to shut down Wikipedia whenever they want.
  • by sdsichero (859332) on Friday April 08, 2005 @03:03PM (#12178967)
    So... you WOULD cite Encarta in a thesis paper?
  • 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.
  • by dotslasher_sri (762515) on Friday April 08, 2005 @03:23PM (#12179191)
    Except they actually have editors that validate the information and do some basic fact-checking And wikipedia doesnt? Ok probably they are not paid by wikipedia there are people who subscribe to changes of the article and if someone changes the article they check to see if its accurate. There might not be designated editors for wikipedia but there are a good number of people at any given time who are watching the articles.
  • Re:Me Too! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stonehand (71085) on Friday April 08, 2005 @03:30PM (#12179246) Homepage
    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 IP restrictions; point out bogosities in their marketing claims; but DOSing is a line I don't see it useful to cross, and as a tactic helps a victim discredit its users.
  • by lcreech (1491) on Friday April 08, 2005 @03:37PM (#12179329)
    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.
  • Re:Me Too! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Queer Boy (451309) * <dragon,76&mac,com> on Friday April 08, 2005 @03:41PM (#12179377)
    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:BECAUSE.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Queer Boy (451309) * <dragon,76&mac,com> on Friday April 08, 2005 @03:56PM (#12179566)
    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.

  • basically, microsoft again trying to co-opt the opensource / community process instead of properly adopting it.

    reject, refuse, deny
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 08, 2005 @04:05PM (#12179668)
    So censor me and give me my negative moderation because I don't conform to the Slashdot norm, reinforce my point.

    Oh spare me. The second anyone utters the magic phrase about being modded down for their supposedly contrary beliefs, their karma goes straight up. Now I know I'm going to be modded down for this uncomfortable insight into the nature of the beast, but someone had to say it.
  • by happymedium (861907) on Friday April 08, 2005 @04:15PM (#12179786)
    rather open submission style that happens to be very similar to Wikipedia

    Umm...no? Wikipedia allows anyone to edit instantly without any interference, and contributors own the content they create (though it's fair to mention that under the GFDL, Wikipedia can distribute it).

    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

    If you were to use your precious spare time to write articles for Encarta, wouldn't you want to know that MS actually owned the articles? Remember, most people don't read EULAs, TOS, and the like. Often, they assume that such documents are benign even when they are not (MS has been guilty of this many a time...); this is exactly the sort of ingnorance Slashdot tries to fight.

    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

    This is manipulative rhetoric and misrepresents the nature of Slashdot. Slashdot, as you're no doubt finding out from seeing your post modded up, is "tailored" only to let users do what they want--write and submit stories, mod, etc. The majority (myself included) are anti-MS trolls, but don't blame the site for what is essentially human nature. Slashdot is just the messenger.

    So censor me and give me my negative moderation because I don't conform to the Slashdot norm, reinforce my point.

    On a more positive note, I guess reverse psychology still works, even when it's blatantly obvious and calculated! ^_^ --h.m.
  • by jabuzz (182671) on Friday April 08, 2005 @04:40PM (#12180182) Homepage
    Just because moderation is not perfect is no reason to reject it outright. The question is would it be better than the current state of afairs, not whether it would solve all the problems.
  • 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, Insightful)

    by jc42 (318812) on Friday April 08, 2005 @05:40PM (#12180919) Homepage Journal
    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 enterprise works by a sort of "group consensus". This is at the heart of the problems the religious folks have with it. You can't just make up your own scientific methods, and publish your results with yourself as the authority. You have to convince others working on topics closely related to yours that you're right. And even if they're convinced, they'll still often insist on independent confirmation. This is groupthink to the core, and has worked a whole lot better than most other approaches.

    Wikipedia does have problems with "controversial" topics. Scientists generally don't. So, while Wikipedia does seem like a good start, it still has some kinks to work out. Maybe they can work it out as time goes by. If they do, chances they'll have mostly rediscovered scientific methods. But it won't be easy or fast. People have been trying for a century or more to be scientific about fields like psychology, politics, history, economics, and so on, with limited success.

    Much of the problem is in working out ways of allowing free speech while implementing schemes to inform readers of reliability. This isn't too difficult, when dealing with things like the mass, albedo, or orbital parameters of Enceladus. Few people have any emotional attachment to the numbers, and no religious theories make prediction about such a body. But there are factual situations where religious people get involved, and they can shout down the scientists in most public arenas. Maybe the wikipedia folks can solve this problem. Maybe not.
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Friday April 08, 2005 @05:43PM (#12180958) Journal
    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, since I know it'll benefit ANYONE who wish to re-use the material.

  • 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.

  • by davidsyes (765062) on Friday April 08, 2005 @09:07PM (#12183036) Homepage Journal
    A-S-S-I-M-I-L-A-T-E-D

    Compensation is IRELLEVANT. Pursuit of Justice is FUTILE...

    Don't EVER publish your own novels or such on ms' site, for given their requirements, you could publish the world's next best novel and be screwed their heavy-handedness. Or, you could post an idea covering the history of gaming and sims, only to find them developing your idea behind your back and then pointing to the contract.

    Don't contribute to them. Apparently, they don't want or don't need PUBLIC DOMAIN material and seem, rather, to be fishing for new content at the expense of the contributor.

    Can anyone really trust microsoft to be fair, honest, and such about ideas that come to them and they perceive to be worth millions, but the contributor is clueless? When does "survival of the fittest" take a back seat to integrity?

    David Syes

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?

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