Wiki – the moral dilemma…

AS Mick and Pete noted below (great link BTW), there are dangers with an uncontrolled information resource like Wiki. But it has it’s upside as well, as I discovered thanks to a reader – who appears to have found a valuable resource for Belfast citizens (like me!)After complaining that I couldn’t find out why there were posters on the hoarding outside the Opera House at the moment – the Council had covered them up before, for some reason – Beowulf suggested this Wiki-based site.

Typing posters opera house into the Search box brought up this page, so I clicked on the suggested link and it brought up this page – apparently unedited minutes of Belfast City Council’s Town Planning Committee.

From there, I did a quick text search on the word ‘Opera’ (Ctrl-F or Edit-Find from the menu) and it suggests that the opinion of the Divisional Planning Manager was to grant the Opera House ‘Consent to Display’.

Now try finding the same information on Belfast City Council’s search engine. If it is actually possible to get to the information needed, how long did it take you? Could you do it first time, or even second?

All this tells me three things:

1) That the Opera House is doing nothing wrong by sticking its posters on the hoarding in the city centre (damn!)

2) That it probably didn’t ask permission through the Council the previous time

and 3) The Council has one of the worst search engines I’ve yet to encounter.

If you’re still reading, you might appreciate that what’s perhaps more important than the fact that I found out the information I wanted, is how and where I found it – on an unofficial site.

Now I have a problem…

Do I continue to access the unofficial Wiki site to get information from Council meetings? The reports appear unedited, but how do I know for sure? And it sure is easy to access…

Or do I go to the official-yet-useless Council site, which has a search engine that I can’t use, or is so user-unfriendly and slow that I can’t be bothered learning to use it? It may have a degree more authority, but by preventing me getting what I want quickly, I have a feeling that the temptation will be to check Wiki first and the official line later… if at all.

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