Should dictionaries be crowd-sourced?

There’s talk that crowd-sourcing will replace the more considered efforts of trained lexicographers, but is such speculation mere piffle, hogwash, poppycock, and balderdash?

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Some of the commentary on this topic gives the impression that dictionaries’ future could lie in the hands of the public, instead of being entrusted to trained lexicographers. But does anyone consider this a serious possibility—Urban Dictionary-style websites aside? It seems to me more a matter of dictionaries’ finding different ways to integrate public input, and this is something they’ve always done, to varying degrees.

In a recent post on whether the wisdom of crowds can work for dictionaries, Michael Rundell assesses Macmillan’s experience with its crowd-sourced Open Dictionary. He finds that the most fruitful areas for user-generated content are “neologisms, regional varieties, and technical terms”—words beyond what James Murray called the “well-defined centre” of English vocabulary—and he acknowledges that “enlisting enthusiastic amateurs and subject-field specialists could help us to develop even better resources in the long run.”

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