I have a tendency to divide things into good parts and bad parts, and I apply that to writing. Expository stuff--setting out the facts clearly and fairly, without wiseass--is work, and that's almost all of an encyclopedia article. Sometimes in my amateur writing, I'm willing to do that to reach a chance to be amusing, but it's even more fun to do comments, or remarks pointing to a Web site, when the set-up is done for me. (This may be similar to why some people enjoy writing fanfic; they don't have to build the playground to play in it.) But I believe I've done a good job, and I know I'm getting money for it.
It wasn't until I started writing them myself that I came to believe deep down inside that the reference books in libraries are like poems, rather than like trees. But the mortality and fallibility behind them becomes more obvious all the time. The Contemporary Authors Online obituary of Adam Osborne is particularly wretched. It repeats the correct information in the "Personal Information" intro that he was born in Bangkok, Thailand, then within three lines says he was born in India. Several dates are wrong, and we are told that he sold his publishing company "a year after he had already founded Osborne Computer Corp." (They need copy-editors; I need work; the answer would appear to be obvious.) An article on Rev. Reggie says that he "reeked havoc on the field." I've heard of odor of sanctity, but this is ridiculous.
There's a revisionist theory on Osborne: that he didn't destroy sales by promoting vaporware so much as another executive made stupid and costly decisions. So much for "the Osborne effect."