Jul 19 2007 Thu
2:07 pm PHT
The title above is my answer to the question, “Is there any point to Wikipiniana?” over at the main blog of the Bayanihan Blog Network. Well, what the heck is Wikipiniana? Wikipiniana (recently rebranded as WikiPilipinas) aims to be the largest online Philippine encyclopedia, written by Filipinos. Currently having more than 25,000 articles, most of them stubs (short placeholder information about the topic), Wikipiniana uses the same collaborative wiki model employed by Wikipedia, currently the largest online encyclopedia.
When I first heard about Wikipiniana, I asked, “Why?!” Granted, there are a lot of problems with Wikipedia, mainly centered around issues on quality, but I really see no point in creating Wikipiniana, especially since they do not address the quality issues by completely adopting the Wikipedia model. Most of their encyclopedic topics were lifted wholesale from Wikipedia itself, making Wikipiniana a fork of Wikipedia.
Wikiboy, a Wikipiniana contributor, mentioned in a comment that a Pinoy knowledgebase should essentially be by-Filipinos-for-Filipinos. He argues that “Only Filipinos [have] the power to improve [their content] from Wikipedia because they know better.” We know better? Really? Such thinking actually runs counter to creating an encyclopedia that’s neutral and free of bias, which is one of the pillars of Wikipedia and is central to its success.
To complete my post, I’m republishing here my arguments why Wikipiniana, as it currently exists right now, is a waste of effort as opposed to volunteering for Wikipedia:
The argument that Filipinos should be in complete control of its own content is not good. This creates bias and Wikipedia excels in avoiding bias because of its neutral point of view (NPOV) policy. The NPOV policy has been adopted by Wikipiniana, but I don’t think Wikipiniana can satisfactorily avoid the inherent bias towards the Filipino point of view if only Filipinos were the ones primarily contributing. The “for Filipinos, by Filipinos” thinking does not work well for academic matters.
Wikipiniana articles are highly unlikely to rank higher than corresponding Wikipedia articles in web searches. People all over the world, not just Filipinos, are researching over the web about Philippine topics. Do you think that they’ll find Wikipiniana articles ahead of Wikipedia articles when searching for José Rizal, Manila, Sinarapan, and the Battle of Leyte Gulf? I don’t think so. It makes perfect sense, therefore, to exert effort in improving Wikipedia articles instead of Wikipiniana because that’s the better option if we really want to disseminate encyclopedic Filipiniana knowledge over the Web.
Wikipiniana, as an encyclopedia, does not offer anything new. Most of its current content has been copied over from Wikipedia and by simply adopting the Wikipedia model and not innovating on it, it seems like duplicated effort. If you check out the policies, processes, and community sections of Wikipiniana, there’s nothing there that hasn’t been tackled in Wikipedia. So why bother?
Call me a die-hard Wikipedian, but I’d really like to know if there’s really any positive point in setting up Wikipiniana. Excellent and hard-working Filipino encyclopedists are hard to come by and dividing our efforts this way is very counterproductive.