TR: How will Wikipedia overcome its biases: toward science over the humanities, the present over the past, Western over global issues?
JW: We have a variety of systemic biases, not in the sense of one-sided articles, but in that we write about what interests us. We have a fantastic article about the USB standard, but not much about the Congo Wars – because we’re Internet geeks. That problem has gotten better as we’ve grown and become better known. We’ve come out of the core free software movement and now have diverse contributors. In order to improve, we’ll make the software easier to use. We also have projects within the community that identify the systematic biases and look for people to help. There’s no magic answer. We have to find the right people to help us.
TR: Why do you think that some people don’t trust Wikipedia, and what will you do to convince them?
JW: There are two kinds of people who don’t trust Wikipedia: the reasonable and the unreasonable. Time makes more converts than reason, so the unreasonable will come around eventually. The reasonable people use Wikipedia and find it useful and valuable, but are cautious about what they’re looking at. If anything seems strange or has a neutrality notice [a tag on an article indicating it is written from a non-neutral point of view], they’re very cautious. That’s perfectly reasonable. Anyone who says they don’t use Wikipedia because it’s written on the Internet is making a mistake.