Esquire magazine writer A.J. Jacobs used an interesting and innovative approach to write an article about the freely distributable and freely editable online encyclopedia Wikipedia: He posted a crummy, error-laden draft of the story to the site and let the community of members work on it and fix it.
Jacobs wrote on the page introducing the experiment. Esquire “would print the ‘before’ and ‘after’ versions of the articles. So here’s your chance to make this article a real one. All improvements welcome.”
According to the Wikipedia page for Jacobs’ story, the article was edited 224 times in the first 24 hours after Jacobs posted it, and another 149 times in the next 24 hours.
The final draft, which was locked on Sept. 23 to protect it from further edits, reflects the efforts of the many users who worked on it.
I think this is a truly interesting experiment.
I really like the idea behind Wikipedia, and the whole collective knowledge model, and I think it’s cool to see how it can be used for different purposes.