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Thread: Wikipedia "suspect" - founder admits to serious quality problems

  1. #1
    Bona Fide Member
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    Mar 2006

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    Wikipedia "suspect" - founder admits to serious quality problems

    I have been told that Wikipedia is a reliable source for FS issues and history. I will reluctantly believe, for I do have some faith in the user providing that information - of course looking for re-verification from GS. But as far as other issues - some I know and some I don't - it is apparently succumbing to it's "flaws."

    Local News and websites have sited the following -
    "Schilt, an applied math major, said he has found flaws with equations on Wikipedia before. Last semester, a professor pointed out an inaccuracy from the online encyclopedia because some students were coming up with weird answers on their homework," Schilt said.
    How do you mess up math information?

    "An encyclopedia can't just have a small percentage of good entries and be considered a success. I would argue, in fact, that the overall quality of an encyclopedia is best judged by its weakest entries rather than its best. What's the worth of an unreliable reference work?"

    "Why, as an Emergent Phenomenon™ it provides a subject that can be used for countless hours of class study for people like *Clay Shirky, of course. Good for him - but what about the rest of us?" - Andrew Orlowski

    "We don't ever talk about absolute quality. But it's increasingly difficult to avoid the issue any longer." Clay Shirky.
    *Clay Shirky, is a faculty tutor at NYU
    Author Nicholas Carr, took time out to examine the quality of two entries picked at random: Bill Gates and Jane Fonda.
    He wasn't impressed by what he saw.
    "This is garbage, an incoherent hodge-podge of dubious factoids that adds up to something far less than the sum of its parts," he wrote.
    Response from Jimmy Wales -
    "The two examples he puts forward are, quite frankly, a horrific embarassment. [sic] Bill Gates and Jane Fonda are nearly unreadable crap. Why? What can we do about it?" - co-founder Jimmy Wales
    This comes from a discussion on Wikipedia-
    •"I'm afraid that there wouldn't really be enough room to put all the disclaimers and warnings about the unreliability of Wikipedia's content on the navigation bar; pages like Wikipedia:General disclaimer will have to suffice."
    •I didn't know that disclaimer existed, and most people probably(csp) don't; what about adding it to the navigation bar?
    Wikipedia "guildline" -
    Information on Wikipedia must be reliable. Facts, viewpoints, theories, and arguments may only be included in articles if they have already been published by reliable and reputable sources. Articles should cite these sources whenever possible. Any unsourced material may be challenged and removed.
    Not only are there entries of pure speculation, the "reliable and reputable sources" are still subject to the mediator / user / "commander and chief" with the only "reliable or reputability" being they were giving command of "topics." All "pages" are subject to a "commander and chief" on whether the info goes in or not. I know from experience that they have bias and opinion. And exactly how are the qualifications substantiated? For an exsample there is a "expert" on BDSM acting as an "expert" on cartoons. I do see this as a possiblity yet fail to find a clear connection or "a comfortable feeling" about this. Yes adults are into cartoons / animation (and I am one ) but who has questions? Children perhaps?

    So as it stands, it would appear that one must know what incorrect information is before they look to Wikipedia for answers. And what is the most common time that a person will look for answers? I guess when they have a question. So, if you are doing anything more than "jogging your memory" can anyone trust Wikipedia?

    Anyone else have thoughts on this?
    Last edited by SeaniBu; 07-05-2006 at 12:03 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2003

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    Seanibu...At least I'm not the only one skeptical of Wikipedia entries, LOL. I do a lot of research on a wide variety of topics as a writer of fiction and it's important to me to get factual information on which to base what happens in my stories, be it for scene development or the psychology behind how and why the characters behave as they do. I've been very suspicious of information I've found there. Also being an expert in the subjects of writing techiniques, metal fabrication as it pertains to jewelry production, and in surface design techniques for fabric enhancement, I've found misleading and downright wrong information.
    Any more I use the site as a springboard of sorts to generate related wordings to add to my "google searches" on various subjects. I no longer view Wikipedia's information as accurate.

    I never quite understood how the persons who developed the concept for that site could guarantee the accuracy of the information. When just anyone off the internet can create or add to existing information, there's a enormous chance that somebody will just add irrevelant to wrong material to what is already there, simply because they can cause trouble. If one can't be positive of the information accuracy, why go to all the trouble to set up a site like that? It seems like a waste of time and bandwidth to me, LOL.

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