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Microsoft Encarta Adopting Wikiesque Process 314

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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  • Pattern? (Score:5, Interesting)

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

  • by balster neb ( 645686 ) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:20PM (#12178456)
    But seriously, does this mean that Encarta users contribute additional content and then give rights over to Microsoft? Microsoft controls contributed content, and then sells it to others for money? Nice.

    I remember Microsoft, a few years ago called Encyclopedia Britannica a "relic" for not having enough multimedia content. Now, this move by Microsoft makes Encarta look like a relic compared to Wikipedia.
  • 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?

  • 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 stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:24PM (#12178494) Journal
    Except they actually have editors that validate the information and do some basic fact-checking.

    Something that wiki and slashdot both lack.
  • Seems like a good idea. Although as a somewhat frequent wikipedia contributor, I like the idea of seeing my words in "print" (for lack of a better word) immediately. The article says that you would submit your encyclopedia article which would be reviewed, and then edited by a bunch of reviewers. So the turnaround time is definitely longer than wikipedia.

    Fostering a community spirit might be somewhat harder, I think due to the fact that the community isn't really actively involved in editing each other's works and contributing. It still goes through a review process, and the reviewers have the final say.

    Wikipedia's strength (and some might say, weakness) is due to the large userbase that works on articles. Hence there is a broad spectrum of opinions and views when in the end sort of balances out. Would there be some sort of inherent bias due to the review process? I mean, does there have be any set of "officially sanctioned" view? Wikipedia [] has an article on Wikipedia criticisms []. Can we expect to see an article that criticizes Microsoft or MS Encarta ON MS Encarta? That would be interesting.
  • 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.
  • by vivin ( 671928 ) <(vivin.paliath) (at) (> on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:31PM (#12178577) Homepage Journal
    Under wikipedia, the information is GPL'ed. They even say that you should contribute only if you want to (possibly) see your words be ripped apart and modified mercilessly. Wikipedia's content is covered by the FSF's GNU Free Documentation License []

    So does this information belong to MS, or everyone?
  • I wonder if.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by karn096 ( 807073 ) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:33PM (#12178604)
    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.
  • Once thing I've noticed about wikipedia is that articles are updated within hours of new information or breaking news. I don't see that happening with Encarta, due to this reviewing process.
  • 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 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.

  • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:45PM (#12178762) Homepage
    Searched Encarta for 'wikipedia'
    No results were found for your search in Encarta.

    ahref= []http://e>

    Forget being noncritical of Microsoft; let's ignore the competition, too! They don't even have anything on Linux save a mention in Open Source Software [].

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

    by PepeGSay ( 847429 ) on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:46PM (#12178769)
    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:fact-checking? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by caluml ( 551744 ) <slashdot@spamgoeshere.calu m . o rg> on Friday April 08, 2005 @02:49PM (#12178802) Homepage
    Anyone want to bet that their "fact checkers" just head over to wikipedia to check the submissions?

    Easy to catch them out then - just create a Wiki article about something that doesn't exist anywhere. Like Yellow Pages does - puts fake companies in, and catch people using the Yellow Pages (against it's terms) to find companies for business. Or map companies adding a very short fake road somewhere.

  • by presroi ( 657709 ) <> 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.
  • yay! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lord Bitman ( 95493 ) on Friday April 08, 2005 @03:20PM (#12179174) Homepage
    now when my teacher says "You just copied this from Encarta. You fail." I can say "no, no, I wrote that article."
  • by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Friday April 08, 2005 @03:28PM (#12179229) Homepage Journal
    Wikipedia []

    Encarta []

    hee hee!

  • Re:Me Too! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by imroy ( 755 ) <> on Friday April 08, 2005 @03:39PM (#12179342) Homepage Journal

    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 a day just for shits and giggles.

  • by happymedium ( 861907 ) on Friday April 08, 2005 @03:53PM (#12179519)
    MSN is to freely-edited Encarta as Google is to Wikipedia? Remember, Google is considering hosting parts of Wikipedia [] and relies on Wikipedia for many of its factual answers []. 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 Random Guru 42 ( 687672 ) <chris.coldacid@net> on Friday April 08, 2005 @03:56PM (#12179559) Homepage Journal
    I agree. Maybe at first Wikipedia should have operated like it does now, just letting in any submission and change, but now that it's mature it should really have proper peer-editing and should hold back changes until they can be verified for being correct and unbiased.
  • by severoon ( 536737 ) on Friday April 08, 2005 @04:35PM (#12180106) Journal

    Why on earth would anyone give MS free content when they could just post it on...wikipedia?

  • by nutshell42 ( 557890 ) on Friday April 08, 2005 @07:59PM (#12182401) Journal
    the Google search is not really suitable for Wikipedia. Actually the Wikipedia search itself is rather bad. It's not fuzzy/error tolerant enough. One wrong letter (especially stupid in foreign names where there may be a number of different but correct spellings) or if you only search for a part of the word (Poisonpoisoning) and it fails (afaik).

    One of the things I dislike about google is that they haven't improved this in the last 8 years (when did they start the beta?) and while it's a minor annoyance when you search the web (because someone somewhere probably used the terms you're searching for on his/her page); for an encyclopedia this is a much bigger problem

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972