“Tragedy of the Commons”

“The Tragedy of the Commons is the title of an influential article written by Garrett Hardin, first published in the journal Science in 1968.[1] The article describes a dilemma in which multiple individuals acting independently in their own self-interest can ultimately destroy a shared resource even where it is clear that it is not in anyone’s long term interest for this to happen” -wikipedia

How can freely edited programs and services such as Wikipedia and Linux continue to function without anyone “hijacking” them for their own good? It seems that they can avoid the tragedy of the commons due to the fact that it is in so many peoples interest for them to be accurate and functional.

There is certainly a bias to Wikipedia however. This past summer, someone hacked into Wikipedia and revealed who wrote “anonymous” entries.  It seems that large companies such as McDonald’s and WalMart as well as the US government edited pages to paint themselves in a more favorable view. But the very fact that this was uncovered is reassuring to me as people can truly track where their information is coming from if they have time on their hands.

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