Wikipedia (B)

A few people have commented that the Wikipedia case Karim Lakhani and I wrote (available here under GFDL) doesn’t resolve the issues it raises, and has an abrupt ending.

This is as intended.  HBS cases read often like journalistic narratives, but their goal is to stop well short of telling the whole story.  Instead, they aim to tee up a set of issues to be discussed in class.  If the case itself resolved all those issues, there would be little to talk about.  So we try to write them so that they lend themselves to good in-class discussions.  

To facilitate these discussions we faculty assign a set of assignment questions along with the case.  We ask students to read the case with these questions in mind, and to come to class prepared to talk about them, presenting their analyses, conclusions, points of view, justifications, recommendations, etc.

Here are the assignment questions I’m planning to ask my MBA students when I teach the Wikipedia case later this semester:

  • If you were the administrator who volunteered to close out the Articles for Deletion process about the "Enterprise 2.0" article, what would your decision be?  What tools, if any, do you have to make sure your recommendation is followed? 
  • Peruse a few Wikipedia articles on subjects where you have some interest or expertise.  What do you think of them?  Are they thorough?  Accurate?  Useful?  Across all of them, how even is the quality?
  • How do Wikipedia’s processes for creating and modifying articles ever lead to high-quality results?  How much do the encyclopedia’s policies and guidelines help?  What ensures that a contributor will follow them?
  • What are the most important differences between Nupedia and Wikipedia?  Why did Nupedia generate so few articles, and why does Wikipedia generate so many?
  • Are you a Wikipedia deletionist, inclusionist, or something else?  Why is this your philosophy?
  • Do you agree that at the time of the case Wikipedia is a bureaucracy?  Why or why not?

I’ll let you know how the class goes…