One can only hope, I suppose. While many have changed their views about Wikipedia over the years, most academics have not. It may be fine for the occasional note, or to get started in the right direction (or not). But most academics still worry about Wikipedia’s quality, or lack thereof.
Now Stanford University comes forward with the news that Wikipedia has a challenger, and a clear winner: The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. To get in, you have to get by 120 readers who vet, edit and otherwise fold, spindle and mutilate your work until it meets the necessary standards. Here’s a Wikipedia you can cite without loss of face or a lower grade! Principal editor, Edward Salta, contends that “Our model is authoritative.” “[The Wikipedia model] is one an academic isn’t going to be attracted to. If you are a young academic, who might spend six months preparing a great article on Thomas Aquinas, you’re not going to publish in a place where anyone can come along and change this.”
Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia, left the company to start Citizendium for the very reason that anyone could edit any article in Wikipedia, and so compromise quality. Citizendium is like Wikipedia but with one notable exception: some if its articles are written by experts. Interestingly, only last fall, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales argued that the everyman encyclopedia is striving for “Britannica-like quality,” another way of saying it isn’t there yet. Now Stanford has come along and added another , better option for students. Could this launch other efforts in related disciplines? One can only hope.
It should be noted, too, that Winthrop was instrumental, along with, of course, hundreds of others, to help get this work off the ground. If you’re interested, take a look at this page (http://plato.stanford.edu/fundraising/commitments.html).