One of my photos

Fastway failure fame?

May 12th, 2006 · Posted by Skuds in Technology · No Comments · Technology

Today there was a visitor to this site who arrived from New Zealand by searching Google for fastway failure!

Now I know that the Fastway bus service in Crawley has its critics, leading to the local nickname of ‘Farceway’ but I thought that was a purely local phenomenon. Or maybe they were just looking for these people instead?

The strange thing is that I tried that Google search myself, and this site is only about the 8th or 9th on the list. Way higher is the Wikipedia entry on Fastway, which I had a quick look at. I was quite disappointed by it. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the system, the Wikipedia entry is possibly the least neutral I have ever come across. (I haven’t looked at the really contentious ones like ‘Tony Blair’ or ‘George Bush’)

I had a look at the discussions for the entry and amazingly it used to be even worse. Apparently the entry used to start like this:

Crawley Fastway is a controversial project to provide a new guided bus service linking some areas of Crawley in southern England with the nearby Gatwick Airport. The project has required the destruction of large sections of the existing road infrastructure, and has run into heavy local opposition.

I suppose it is an indication of the merits of the whole idea of Widipedia that this has since been toned down, but I think the article is still a long way from being neutral. Some of the external links on it, and sources of quotes are: a local bulletin board, a couple of local bloggers and a Lib Dem newsletter, all of which have a known anti-Fastway bias. Its one to keep an eye on I think. It demonstrates the pitfalls of the Wiki system, but lets hope it eventually comes to prove the benefits of decent moderation.

Regardless of my own opinions on Fastway (Good idea. Nice buses. Terribly fragile shelters. Bad project implementation and appalling control and reporting of costs, but hopefully the service will be running long after the memories of that mismanagement have faded.) its a shame that the integrity of the whole Wikipedia project is being undermined for the sake of some local point-scoring.

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