Today in The Wall Street Journal Online, a snappy email exchange between Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Britannica editor-in-chief Dale Hoiberg.
Things get a little testy:
Mr. Wales: We have spoken openly about some of the challenges and difficulties we face at Wikipedia. Not long ago, you suffered some bad publicity due to errors in Britannica. Have you considered changing your model to allow quick, transparent responses to such criticisms as a way to achieve a higher quality level?
Mr. Hoiberg: I must point out that Mr. Wales's inclusion of two links in his question to me, one to Wikipedia itself, is sneaky. I have had neither the time nor space to respond to them properly in this format. I could corral any number of links to articles alleging errors in Wikipedia and weave them into my posts, but it seems to me that our time and space are better spent here on issues of substance.
Mr. Wales: Sneaky? I beg to differ. On the Internet it is possible and desirable to enhance the understanding of the reader by linking directly to resources to enhance and further understanding.
You wrote: "I have had neither the time nor space to respond to them properly in this format. I could corral any number of links to articles alleging errors in Wikipedia and weave them into my posts, but it seems to me that our time and space are better spent here on issues of substance."
No problem! Wikipedia to the rescue with a fine article on the topic.
Fortunately, there is a vast army of volunteers eager to help good people like you and me who don't quite have enough time and space to do everything from scratch ourselves, and they are writing a comprehensive encyclopedic catalog of all human knowledge. They have quite eagerly amassed a fantastic list and discussion of dozens of links to such articles.
We are open and transparent and eager to help people find criticisms of us. Disconcerting and unusual, I know. But, well, welcome to the Internet. (links in original)
Read the whole thing.