The 5 worst IT-related entries on Wikipedia

It’s considered one of the Web’s most common resources, and yet technology professionals should be appalled by the information about their industry on Wikipedia.

No doubt there are few IT managers or CIOs spending their time using Wikipedia for research purposes, but if user education is at all a part of their mandate (and it should be), it’s worth checking out the main ways – besides, say, reading ComputerWorld Canada – that they learn more about the systems that drive their business processes.

It has occurred to me, of course, that I could improve some of these entries myself, and I intend to, but a crowdsourced product like Wikipedia only gets better if more than one person champions it. To wit, here are a handful of bad apples to get you started.

1. Service oriented architecture: Wikipedia has taken the severe step of disabling the ability of new or unregistered users from editing the entry until Sept. 7. The reason? Linkspam! But that’s just the beginning. The site notes that the entry needs to be cleaned up to meet its quality standards, be “wikified” with the appropriate style and verifiable sources. Maybe once the hype around SOA dies down, its Wikipedia page won’t attract the same kind of biased (or just plain lazy) editors.

2. Utility computing: You would think this would simply redirect to the entry on cloud computing by now, but for some reason the editors have chosen to keep it live, despite the fact, under a sub-section called “history,” someone has posted a notice saying, “this section or article is written like an advertisement.” Actually, it was probably cut and pasted from some vendor’s marketing collateral, but no matter. It’s been sitting there untouched since December of last year.

3. Virtualization: You want an online resource like this to provide in-depth information, but there comes a point where comprehensive just becomes confounding. The entry is simply a list of links to other entries, grouped under the headings platform, resource, application and desktop. That’s well organized enough, but do we really need separate entries on “partial virtualization” and “hardware-assisted virtualization?” I’m all for disambiguation, but this is getting a little ridiculous.

4. Social network service: Awkwardly titled so as not to be confused with the scientific social networking model, the page looks fine until you get to the part that would be most important to technology professionals. Under “business applications,” a Wikipedia editor has noted it does not “cite any references or sources.” With all the reputed online activity taking place on Facebook and MySpace, you think someone would have cleaned this up since it was pointed out in March.

5. Chief Information Officer (CIO): Not the worst description, overall, but only three actual citations. True, they are from my international IDG counterparts, but there should be some other sources. I like the last line: “Many CIOs head the enterprise’s efforts to integrate the Internet and the World Wide Web into both its long-term strategy and its immediate business plans.” If they manage to do that, maybe they’re smart enough to fix Wikipedia, too.

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