When I was a child, we used to search for information in books – encyclopedias, journals, illustrated lexicons, etc. Writing an assay was actually hard, as it required hours of prior data collection. I also remember when I had to prepare a portfolio on local bird species. All of the photos in it were taken by me. No one would consider searching the Web, because we simply did not have it. It might sound unbelievable to generations of toddlers and teenagers to come. Now, everything is ‘there’. One can just access the mighty ‘orchard of knowledge’ and pick an apple or two.
With time the orchard grew and expanded, covering more and more varied topics – economy, politics, philosophy, sociology, science, etc. However, I feel that the caretakers are few in number and the orchard has been left understaffed for too long. This is especially glaring in the ever-changing Linux Land. I often stumbled upon articles, forum threads, whole websites which contained vastly outdated information. We have more trees than we can take care of. Or perhaps it is not so?
In past years we thought that a crucial function needs to be performed by a specialized body of individuals, trained and equipped for a given task. However, nowadays we have superior means of communication and we are much more aware of the world than we used to be. Responsibilities no longer have to burden specialized bodies, but can be distributed among all of us – the people. The community. All we need is tools and basic training on how to use those tools. Together, we just might be able to tidy up the orchard.
What I propose is a tool that would allow Internet surfers (in other words, all of us!) to flag outdated information. This would stack into a ‘relevance counter’, which then could be used as an additional variable in prioritizing search engine results. If the ‘relevance counter’ crosses a specific threshold, the link in question is completely removed. I admit this does not solve the problem completely as the outdated piece of information still exists somewhere. However, let us take one step at a time…