The controversy over the quality of Wikipedia articles continues. It seems that many contributors prefer to add sentences and make fiddling edits rather than trying to get an article to cohere stylistically. In response, Wikipedians have started “Project Galatea“, which encourages people to rewrite articles with a consistent style. Their philosophy says:
For every Galatea, there is one Pygmalion. While Project Galatea members are highly encouraged to work together with both the article’s regular contributors and the other project members (see below), the usual Wikipedia method of collaborative, incremental edits simply does not lend itself to proper stylistic rewrites. When all is said and done, for every problematic article there needs to be one Project Galatea member who is willing and able to bring it to life.
They are right; and I think Wikipedia needs to go further. Every article of any significance (perhaps measured by hits) needs a Benevolent Dictator, just like a minature free software project. That person would be responsible for the overall quality of the article, and would have more authority than the average Wikipedian over edits. There would need to be a removal/replacement mechanism which could not be trivially invoked; perhaps it would require other senior contributors to agree that the person was either a terrible author or wasn’t writing the article with a NPOV.
Perhaps this is moving away from the principle of “everyone is equal” but, to be honest, I’d rather have an expert in control of an article on their subject than a level playing field.