And yet, its not so simple. Scholars give their work away for free most of the time. Its just that they tend to give their work to more established publishing houses or to a scholarly society that publishes research. When a scholar has their work reviewed, the reviewers tend to look at the quality of publications that accepted the work done more so than the actual quality of the work itself. So its no wonder to me why a start up like Nupedia had trouble getting submissions.
When it comes to Wikipedia, its hard for some folks not to bring up the notion of common people outsmarting the experts a la Wisdom of Crowds even though Wikipedia doesn't fulfill Surowiecki's four conditions of a "wise crowd". Its largely unsaid, but Wikipedia is thought to improve by means of a strange evolution-like process...
1. Anyone, irrespective of expertise in or even familiarity with the topic, can submit an article and it will be published.
2. Anyone, irrespective of expertise in or even familiarity with the topic, can edit that article, and the modifications will stand until further modified.