The New Cliche: “It’s the Wikipedia of…”

You know something has arrived when it’s used to describe a phenomenon. Or what people hope will be a phenomenon. Here’s a sampling:

  • Laptops This from Nicholas Negroponte, describing his $100 laptop for the developing world (via Andy Carvin’s Waste of Bandwidth): “It’s the Wikipedia equivalent (of hardware),” he said, describing the spirit of the laptop initiative.
  • Gasbuddy  Poster at ezboard: “It’s the Wikipedia of Gas pumps. I use it whenever I need gas. I can’t believe I forgot about it until now.”
  • New York Times — This from a Xanga blogger: “It’s the Wikipedia of newspapers: great resource with plenty of interesting but useless content. For goodness’ sake, it’s a newspaper, not Cosmo Girl.”
  • The UK Good Food/Good Pub guide, described on Wikipedia chat as It’s the wikipedia of food guides”
  • Urban Dictionary — described by this blogger as “the Wikipedia of the streets beyach!”
  • Sushi World Guideit seems the community is still growing. It is the ‘Wikipedia of Sushi’.
  • Pure Energy Systems We will be the Wikipedia of alternate energy technology.”
  • Wondirhailed on the unofficial google blog as “the Wikipedia of answer sites”
  • Dermatlasdescribed here as the Wikipedia of dermatology atlases“
  • Math World — described here as “the wikipedia of math”
  • GuitarWikidescribed by a visitor as possibly becoming “the Wikipedia of the guitar world“
  • What is sad is that they mean it in a positive way. However, Wikipedia is chock full of errors and, while it certainly has its place, it’s hardly something to compare a quality product to.

  • It reminds me of one that was around for a long time, and still pops up — “It’s like (some existing technology) on steroids!”

    Though I confess, I have occasionally used this as a PR rep. Looking back, it was a lazy description, and at least I did move on to better ones.

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  • Maybe the problem isn’t that people are referring to things as “the Wikipedia of…” but that they stop there; they don’t come up with other comparisons. Are people lazy, or are they in such a rush to do more in less time that they latch on to the first metaphor that comes to mind?

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All opinions are my own, and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters.



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