ESPN Challenges Wikipedia To An Info Throwdown

I used to get the ESPN Sports Almanac every year, usually for Christmas. And I’d go through all the records and stats for every sport, and then the whole thing would be completely obsolete like a month later. In fact, almanacs in general have had a rough run ever since Wikipedia took over as the most convenient (if not always accurate) go-to source for information about anything and everything.

ESPN almanac

(Two of these three guys are already completely irrelevant)

Well, now ESPN is going after Wikipedia with its own massive sports database called ESPNDB. The main difference will be that ESPN’s version is actually fact-checked. It will also serve as an encyclopedia of ESPN information. So, in other words, about 2/3 of the content will be about the Yankees and Red Sox.

MEDIA DAILY NEWS has the scoop:

ESPNDB will debut sometime in the next few days in what is being termed a “pre-beta” stage. The venture has been in development for more than a year, and its operation falls under ESPN’s digital media group.

The rise of a two-click solution for finding sports information online — via a search on Google and then a click-through to Wikipedia — cannot be understated as an impetus for ESPNDB. 

But if you’re looking for a thorough database next week, you won’t find it. At first, ESPNDB will only have information about the upcoming NFL Draft. The rest of the database will be filled in over time. Considering that the entirety of sports history rather vast, and the site has only two editorial staffers, I’m expecting the site to be complete by about the year 3022 (just in time to cover the Space Olympics).

ESPNDB will also construct an NBA reference section in time for this year’s Finals. Fortunately, ESPN’s not going to screw this up by letting “user-generated content” ruin the site like it’s ruining the rest of the Internet right now. Oh, wait, they are:

ESPNDB plans to offer some sort of user-generated aspect a la Wikipedia, where fans can weigh in — although how that will play out is still under consideration. Decisions must be made about what portions of the site will be “locked,” where professionally developed content cannot be altered by visitors. Noel said one goal is to develop a sort of checks and balances system where information added or supplemented by consumers is authenticated. “We’re working on a system with a better and more credible tool for creating user-generated content than exists elsewhere on the Web,” he said.

Finally, a more “credible” way for people to talk about how much the Cowboys suck/rule. Great.