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As for edit wars, in which two geeks with opposing views delete each other's assertions over and over, well, they're not much of a problem these days. All kinds of viewpoints coexist in the same article. Take the Wikipedia entry on, er, Wikipedia: "Wikipedia has been criticized for a perceived lack of reliability, comprehensiveness and authority. It is considered to have no or limited utility as a reference work among many librarians [and] academics."
Therein lies the rub. Larry Sanger, Wikipedia's former editor in chief (and now a lecturer at Ohio State) still loves the site but thinks his fellow professionals have a point. "The wide-open nature of the Internet encourages people to disregard the importance of expertise," he says. Sanger does not let his students use Wikipedia for their papers, partly because he knows they could confirm anything they like by adding it themselves.
Whatever happens to Wikipedia, the wiki genie is out of the bottle. There are wikibooks for collaborative nonfiction, wikipes for recipes and wikimedia for citizen journalists. Wales has a for-profit website, Wikicities, where anyone can form a community. (The two largest are geeking out on the chronologies of Star Wars and Star Trek.) "It's a form of brainstorming that's bigger than one person standing at a flip chart," says Cunningham. "And there's a timelessness to it. You can do a wiki over one year or 10." And have almost as much fun as Jimmy Wales does for the whole decade. With reporting by Coco Masters/New York