Support The Online Video Industry: Boycott Wikipedia

While online video technology has been around for fourteen years, many companies and customers are new to the technology and are just learning about the benefits. Like most of us looking to educate ourselves about a subject, we use Google. And in Google, nearly every word you type in pertaining to our industry brings up a definition by Wikipedia as the first link. While some may think that is a good thing, the problem is that much of the information on those Wikipedia pages is just flat out wrong.

The biggest problem is that too many of the pages on Wikipedia that have to do with our industry start off by saying "This article does not cite any references or sources". Then what good is it? Seriously, how is someone suppose to know if the information it contains is accurate or is just being published because the person who wrote it has an a hidden agenda? A great example is typing the word CDN into Google. A few months ago, the Wikipedia page for CDN had text that said Akamai, Limelight, EdgeCast and Itivia were the largest CDNs. That’s not accurate. Yet, looking at the person who edited that Wikipedia page gives you no details about who they are and who they work for. If anyone can go in and edit a Wikipedia page to make the info reflect what is in their best interest, what good is that doing for those new to our industry when that info is inaccurate? Today it says the largest CDNs are Akamai, Limelight and CDNetworks. But look again in another month or so and I’m sure someone will have edited it again to have it reflect what they want it to say.

Taking a look at the Wikipedia page for the term webcast, there are so many references to the technology that are just plain wrong. For instance it says "The term webcasting is usually reserved for referring to non-interactive linear streams". That’s not right. Webcasts can and often do have a lot of interactivity. It also goes on to say that "However, webcasting does not bear much, if any, relationship to the idea of web conferencing which is designed for many-to-many interaction". This is what makes me really mad. The whole idea behind webcasting is that it allows for a one to many broadcast. Opposite of this is web conferencing which only allows for a one to few broadcast. Wikipedia’s page can’t even get the basic underlying definition of the technology correct.

The webcasting page also goes on to credit people by name who founded the term webcasting, did the first webcast, did the largest webcast etc…all while not providing any sources to back it up. And a few months ago when I looked at the page, different names than the ones who are listed now were supposedly the ones who invented webcasting. And back to the Wikipedia CDN page, a few months ago, there were over 20 CDNs listed. Today, many have been taken off the list and only 11 are listed. Who gets to decide what companies are listed or not? And when it comes to some of the data that is mentioned, nearly all of the references in the notes section date back more than 4 years.

And if you want to know the history of Microsoft’s Windows Media Player, don’t rely on Wikipedia’s page. While they have a whole section on the "history" of the player, apparently whoever wrote it has no idea the player used to be called NetShow or that much of the underlying technology for the player came from Microsoft’s $75 million acquisition of VXtreme and their $5 million investment in VDOnet Corp. And don’t even get me started on Wikipedia’s page for the term streaming media or this post will never end. The bottom line, none of this is good for our industry. Fourteen years later, we need accurate info on the market and we need those who are new to the technology to be able to come up to speed as quickly as possible, with the right information.

I am asking all vendors, suppliers, bloggers and those in this industry not to use any links to Wikipedia from your website, training materials, articles etc… In my eyes, Wikipedia is the most overrated brand on the web today. Where is the value in any information when it is not fact checked, contains little or no sources and can be altered by anyone for their hidden agenda. Boycott Wikipedia. Don’t use it.

Note: Some many ask, why don’t I stop complaining and actually fix all of these errors myself? In many cases I have tried and either my edits don’t show up or they do but are then taken down by someone else a short time later.