english edition

Meyers Lexikon - How Not To Fight The Wikipedia

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

Mahatma Gandhi

If we replace they with Bibliographisches Institut & F.A. Brockhaus AG (bifab | Brockhaus) and you with Wikipedia then we might just have entered the (nonviolent) fight phase.

Brockhaus used to be Germany’s authorative publisher of lexicons, dictionaries and encyclopedias selling well established brands (Duden, Meyers Lexikon and Brockhaus – the equivalent of the Encyclop√¶dia Britannica) known to everyone in Germany.

Meyers Lexikon just picked up the idea to let their visitors contribute content, too. Users need to sign up first, they transfer all rights (non exclusive) to them, they can use it any way they want and users are held responsible for any legal problems which might occur.

In return contributing users are allowed to privately and non commercially use articles from Meyers Lexikon, they can print them out and they even can include up to ten articles on their private homepage if they link back and add a timestamp. Are they kidding or plainly insulting?

Wikipedia has been eroding Brockhaus’ former defacto monopoly on lexical representation of knowledge to the point of irrelevance on the web and even representatives from Brockhaus have stopped down playing the impact of the Wikipedia (until a few months ago Wikipedia was not perceived as competition at all), and this is their strategy to engage their users, leverage their knowledge or make them link to their articles? If they want to maintain some mindshare they soon need to come up with something better than that.

People no longer contribute because now they can or become allowed to. People contribute because they can extract value or meaning out of their contributions for themselves.


In related news the German branch of the Wikipedia just announced plans to provide a safe version beginning in November. Only articles which have been verified by a controlled set of editors will be shown on the main page then.

(This article originally was written for blognation Germany. Since blognation is gone I have reposted it here)