Cracker Barrel on Regulating Responsibility

Business and the Environment

Wikipedia, Hayek and Self-governance

How does the Wikipedia model, which founder Jimmy Wales claims to have based on Austrian economist F. A. Hayek’s “insights about the power of decentralized knowledge gathering, the surprising strength of communities bound only by reputation, and the fluidity of self-governance” (http://reason.com/archives/2007/05/30/wikipedia-and-beyond/)  fit with social and environmental ‘self-regulation’ (codes of conduct, industries choosing to adopt certain standards)?

What role does the consumer play in how they choose to support content (Fair Trade)?  Read the article for a history of how Wikipedia has evolved from a place for sometimes spurious content to a go-to-source of information and how the maintenance of that information is enforced.  Wikipedia recognizes that its market-based mechanisms do fail and sometimes lead to error, but the errors are caught and reversed quickly by its vigilant (volunteer) editors.

Wikipedia does run on a quasi-certification basis, by which it can be argued it has developed mechanisms to signal that the entries are credible and consumers have come to accept it as a link to other credible sources of information.

The Wikipedia model might have fascinating insights for regulatory mechanisms outside formal rules.

Originally posted: 2/22/10

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