I was watching an interview this evening with Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales as he discusses why Wikipedia is such a success. Basically he says people take part in the Wiki community because it’s “fun” and people contribute to Wikipedia because they enjoy it and it’s intellectually stimulating; not because they feel they are contributing to a charitable cause or doing good for the world.
He discusses how people contribute anonymously to simply help out; fixing spelling mistakes, etc. He compares this to eating in a busy restaurant packed with people armed with steak knives. Chances are most people in that restaurant don’t want to stab you with those steak knives. They are just there to eat; similarly the Wiki community is there to spread knowledge.
He also discusses how the thrill of hacking Wikipedia doesn’t appeal to hackers because it’s simply not a challenge. He talks about people writing “F YOU” on the George W. Bush page on Wikipedia. It’s been done so many times that it’s simply not exciting for someone to do. He basically tells them, go ahead and write a profanity; it will simply be removed. He calls this Wiki’s “intentional vulnerability”.
At the end of the clip, he says “If you could put ‘F YOU, F YOU’ on the Microsoft site; that would be exciting because it would be a challenge.
“Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s what we’re doing.”, Jimmy Wales, Slashdot – July 28, 2004