×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Improving Wikipedia Coverage of Computer Science

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the accused-of-original-research dept.

Education 186

Pickens writes "MIT computer scientist Scott Aaronson has an interesting post on how to improve Wikipedia's coverage of theoretical computer science. Aaronson writes what while Wikpedia will never be an ideal venue for academics because 'we're used to (1) putting our names on our stuff, (2) editorializing pretty freely, (3) using "original research" as a compliment and not an accusation, and (4) not having our prose rewritten or deleted by people calling themselves Duduyat, Raul654, and Prokonsul Piotrus,' he identifies twenty basic research areas and terms in theoretical computer science that are not defined on Wikipedia, and invites readers to write some articles about them. Article suggestions include property testing, algorithmic game theory, derandomization, sketching algorithms, propositional proof complexity, arithmetic circuit complexity, discrete harmonic analysis, streaming algorithms, and hardness of approximation. One commenter suggests that professors should encourage students to improve the Wikipedia articles about topics they are studying. 'This will help them understand the topic and at the same time improve Wikipedia.'"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

186 comments

Original Research (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25926999)

Essentially all that you have to do (or should have to do) to avoid the "original research" claims is to cite sources. It's not intended to be treated like some sort of scientific journal, it's intended to be an encyclopedia; everything put in the Wikipedia should have been published elsewhere first. Seems reasonable.

Re:Original Research (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927153)

Don 't start with that crap here. No one is questioning Wiki-snide-ia's "right" to restrict "original research". You post should be modded "Redundent" or "Troll". Move on quickly.

Re:Original Research (0, Redundant)

3seas (184403) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927411)

In simpler words: Wikipedia is a "hear-say" site.

Re:Original Research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25928033)

"Informative"? How about "-20, Paranoid"?

Re:Original Research (1)

Secret Rabbit (914973) | more than 5 years ago | (#25928647)

I don't think that was what Dr. Aaronson was getting at there (you're referring to his point 3, right?). I would think that he was pointing out that Academics are not likely to use to contribute to Wikipedia because "using "original research" as a compliment and not an accusation" is what Academics do, whereas using "original research" as an accusation (read: attack) and not a compliment is what is commonly written by non-Academics (read: the average person contributing to Wikipedia).

Good to see... (5, Funny)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927011)

It's good to see that somebody in academics is appreciating the importance and usefulness of Wikipedia, instead of ranting about inaccuracies and trolls.

Now let's resume our program of bashing Wikipedia.

Re:Good to see... (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#25929069)

It's good to see that somebody in academics is appreciating the importance and usefulness of Wikipedia, instead of ranting about inaccuracies and trolls.

Can you cite a source for that?

Now let's resume our program of bashing^H^H^H^H^H^H^H criticizing Wikipedia.

Donald Knuth agrees (5, Interesting)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927017)

Knuth is a fan of Wikipedia, but he's a bit leery of the concept, saying that he would not want to have to remain forever on guard after making technically complex contributions, lest his comments be badly reedited.[citation needed]

Re:Donald Knuth agrees (0, Flamebait)

eclectro (227083) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927355)

Hey, we could just "gang up" on Knuth and have edit wars with him. We'll surely trip him up on the 3RR rule. He's been a hack anyway ever since he stopped giving out checks.

Re:Donald Knuth agrees (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 5 years ago | (#25928741)

A Turing machine can do this. The machine rewinds the tape that anyone can edit until it detects the beginning of the crap

"The bubble sort is the slowest sort, total fail lol"

where the state register symbol is set to ^V and the machine begins writing the Knuth material one character at a time back onto the tape anyone can edit. Then the machine resets the state register and reenters its default state.

Prokonsul Piotrus (5, Interesting)

snarfies (115214) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927029)

"Prokonsul Piotrus" aka just "Piotrus" is a rather controversial figure. He has been bought up in not one, but TWO arbitration cases, one of which is now in the voting phase. [wikipedia.org]

I stopped trying to add any content to Wikipedia years ago. WP:Notability is, quite possibly, the worst thing to ever happen to that website, and I got sick of deletionism bullshit.

Re:Prokonsul Piotrus (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927233)

That most people (like you) have not yet figured out that Wikipedia is one big "hood-wink" is a credt to The Onion! When the fellows over at The Onion finally let the cat out of the bag *officially*, there will be a lot of egg-wiping of the faces!

Re:Prokonsul Piotrus (4, Insightful)

wicka (985217) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927443)

Deletionists are horrible horrible people. Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia, it's a website with virtually limitless room for expansion. You don't have to fit everything inside a set of books. Guidelines for inclusion should be incredibly lax.

HHGTTG vs Encyclopedia (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927777)

This really comes down to the distinction "Encyclopedia" (read: "A book, or set of books, or digital version of such, containing authoritative information about a variety of topics, arranged in alphabetical order") vs. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (read: "A book containing the compendium of Life, The Universe and Everything, notable or otherwise, as written by everyone with half an interest in writing it.")

Wikipedia intends to be a new-agey digital Encyclopedia, which includes academic drive, unavoidable deletionism, well-cited sources, and some kind of drive for neutrality (no matter how badly it actually fails at such a thing).

What we need is a real-life implementation of the Hitchhiker's Guide. It should be far less careful than Wikipedia (and likely should be a superset of Wikipedia with all of those fun lists like "Things Gregory House has written on his whiteboard on House M.D.") The two sites really should work in concert (i.e. when something gets "demoted" from Wikipedia, it should slide into the Hitchhiker's Guide).

The third effort of having a even-more verified-and-factual Wikipedia is already underway via several projects. Why hasn't anyone looked into the super-set?

Re:Prokonsul Piotrus (5, Insightful)

sailingmishap (1236532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927903)

Are you joking? Guidelines for inclusion are incredibly lax.

If a topic has received significant coverage in reliable secondary sources that are independent of the subject, it is presumed to satisfy the inclusion criteria for a stand-alone article.

Are you reading that? Any subject that's been mentioned in a magazine/book/journal/newspaper/website with some amount of editorial control is acceptable.

That's every video game, every book, every television show and every episode of each, every politician, every rock band, rapper, and hit song that's ever been on the radio, every school, and every city, in the entire world, forever and ever,

and that's without even starting an argument! The number of fictional characters and abstract concepts on Wikipedia is absolutely staggering.

You really want it to be laxer than that? Here's where you can find that stuff: THE REST OF THE INTERNET.

Deletionists are following the Golden Rule that summarizes the purpose of Wikipedia and all of the debates that have ever occurred on it, the one part that no one seems to get, no matter what:

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia that summarizes research from reliable secondary sources.

That's what it is and that's all it's ever going to be. If someone's doing something you don't like, either a) you're wrong or b) they're a troll and you shouldn't give up so easily. How is that any different from the rest of the Internet? How is that any different from real life? How could Wikipedia possibly pursue its goal better than it does without restricting people more?

SO?? Delete the deletionists, then. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25928117)

IOW, fork the damn project, and make it INCLUSIVE, rather than their fscktarded "OUR knowledge, or NO knowledge" authoridigm.

Also, their obstructionist habit of deleting obvious-truth whenever they don't have an acceptable-to-them reference...

it should be deletable if it's ( perhaps easily ) provably false, not if they don't/won't accept obvious truth...

Bogons...

NATURE is inclusive, ECOLOGIES are inclusive/open, they want their cathedral, while **pretending** to be a bazaar.

Because you can't make up massacres? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25928789)

Using nationalistic Polish sources that have been tied to antisemitic statements Piotrus pushes articles like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_of_Brzostowica_Mala [wikipedia.org] . This what the gigantic ArbCom cases like the one Piotrus is involed in are about. Make sure you read the deletion discussion http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Massacre_of_Brzostowica_Mala [wikipedia.org] to see what the horrible deletionists tried to do. Thankfully, no consensus defaults to keep on Wikipedia, so a handful of nationalistic blokes can keep rewriting history.

Beware of posting your own research... (5, Insightful)

BigZaphod (12942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927043)

A problem to watch out for is that if you add your own research to Wikipedia (even with all the proper citations), you'll get slapped by some self-important wikipedian because it is apparently wrong and evil to have the person directly responsible for the research itself to be included in the creation of encyclopedia content about said research.

Re:Beware of posting your own research... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927179)

Not "wrong and evil" per se, but you should be extremely careful about this sort of thing. Ethics are important; someone with an obvious conflict of interest should be open about it and circumspect about his edits.

tagged !encyclopedia (3, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927273)

it is apparently wrong and evil to have the person directly responsible for the research itself to be included in the creation of encyclopedia content about said research.

Good thing Wikipedia is a Wiki and not an encyclopedia then.

Re:tagged !encyclopedia (3, Interesting)

BigZaphod (12942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927333)

Yeah.. tell that to some of the admins over there... The way they reject things for being non-notable (as if there was a lack of space in wikipedia) and the other rules they fling at people sometimes, it's getting to where whole areas of the site aren't worth even trying to edit anymore simply because of the egos that might be stepped on.

Re:tagged !encyclopedia (1)

Redfeather (1033680) | more than 5 years ago | (#25928009)

Stepping on egos is one thing, and horrible, but Wikipedia does still need server space, does it not? While I agree that biased editing is an epidemic, the phrase "as if there was a lack of space in wikipedia" is a bit falicious.

Re:tagged !encyclopedia (2, Funny)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25928079)

>>The way they reject things for being non-notable (as if there was a lack of space in wikipedia) and the other rules they fling at people sometimes

Look, if we fill up Wikipedia with totally non-notable theoretical computer science stuff, then we'll run out of room for our highly detailed, referenced, verifiable pages on every episode of the Simpsons made, ever.

Re:tagged !encyclopedia (4, Funny)

Raenex (947668) | more than 5 years ago | (#25928137)

The way they reject things for being non-notable (as if there was a lack of space in wikipedia)

Yeah, I really hate that. I was trying to publish my research about how (1/0 * Infinity) proves the existence of God, but they deleted my page. Bastards. They're in cahoots with all the journals too.

Re:tagged !encyclopedia (2, Insightful)

sailingmishap (1236532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25928695)

It has nothing to do with "a lack of space". All information on Wikipedia must be backed up by reliable, independent, secondary sources. This is fundamental.

An article is deleted if and only if there are no reliable, independent, secondary sources that discuss it.

So if you want an article on a Simpsons episode [wikipedia.org] , find the sources that discuss it -- IGN, EW, TV Guide, all reliable sources not directly owned by Fox Television -- and it's good. Even though not every sentence in the article is properly cited, the topic as a whole is suitable for inclusion because it has the potential to be expanded.

If an article [dbatley.com] has never been addressed in any reliable secondary sources, it gets deleted, because not one sentence can ever be properly verifiable. There is no potential to ever meet Wikipedia guidelines. So for the sake of Wikipedia's quality, not quantity, it is removed.

It's not about space, it's not about geekiness. It's about sources and nothing else.

Re:tagged !encyclopedia (1)

RockWolf (806901) | more than 5 years ago | (#25929097)

...aren't worth even trying to edit anymore simply because of the egos that might be stepped on.

I thought that was the whole idea?

Re:Beware of posting your own research... (2, Informative)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927297)

A problem to watch out for is that if you add your own research to Wikipedia (even with all the proper citations), you'll get slapped by some self-important wikipedian because it is apparently wrong and evil to have the person directly responsible for the research itself to be included in the creation of encyclopedia content about said research.

Of course, they're just following WP:COI [wikipedia.org] (the Conflict of Interest guideline) to its extreme. Of course, depending on the sources, WP:SOURCES [wikipedia.org] (a policy) could also be invoked. On Wikipedia, you're required to cite independent sources in addition to any research when reporting about said research.

Having said all that, I rarely edit articles on Wikipedia any more, as the constants fighting over how articles should look and which Admins are favoring which positions (instead of being neutral) gets really old, really quickly.

Re: Beware of posting your own research... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927765)

A problem to watch out for is that if you add your own research to Wikipedia (even with all the proper citations), you'll get slapped by some self-important wikipedian because it is apparently wrong and evil to have the person directly responsible for the research itself to be included in the creation of encyclopedia content about said research.

Or some idiot who doesn't actually know anything about the topic will edit it to enshrine his own ignorance instead.

I quit contributing to articles in my field long before I quit editing just-for-fun articles.

An encyclopedia is an encyclopedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927047)

He needs to create Wikiresearchia or something.

DocForge (5, Interesting)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927063)

Or submit the articles to DocForge [docforge.com] where original research is allowed. It's focused completely on programming and computer science topics. It hasn't grown large enough yet to breed overzealous editors, either.

Removal... (4, Insightful)

perlhacker14 (1056902) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927079)

A while back, about a year ago, I spent my time correcting wikipedia - the corrections I made were accurate, meaningful, and relevant to the topic. However, my additions and changes were mostly removed within two hours of my posting. Perhaps those who run wikipedia do not like my educated improvements. One incident that sticks was when a friend and I added a section dedicated to the problems with genetic algorithms; by the next day it was removed. I had sources, a good and well written arguement, and it was fairly long and not biased (at least my professor thought so).
As for adding new topics, one may try, but seeing as additions are not appreciated, than what would become of new articles (even stubs)?

Re:Removal... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927091)

Tell me what you added and to what article, and I bet I can tell you why it wasn't worth keeping.

Re:Removal... (3, Insightful)

jcuervo (715139) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927535)

Why was this modded troll?

I bet I could do the same. Not to say perlhacker's arguments weren't well-thought-out and well-researched, just that there may very well have been a good reason for it -- to play devil's advocate.

Re:Removal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927367)

put it on google knol.

Re:Removal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927371)

I had sources, a good and well written arguement, and it was fairly long and not biased (at least my professor thought so).

Is it possible that the other editor thought your addition was a bit too... essayish? Keep in mind that most Wikipedia articles are merely overviews of topics.

So show us. (5, Interesting)

sailingmishap (1236532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927449)

You know, every time there's a Wikipedia-related thread on Slashdot, there's a massive run of people with anecdotes about how they spent hours and hours improving some article only to have it reverted.

I've never once seen someone post a link to the changes they made.

Please tell us what article it was, and what corrections you made. If you go to the article's history you can post a link to the exact changes that you made, and the subsequent reversion. It'll take two minutes, I swear.

You don't even have to go through all that. Just post your user name and the article title and we can find it ourselves.

It would prove once and for all that Wikipedia is as bad as everyone says it is. I'd love to see it. We'd all love to see it. Then we can fix it and make sure that your corrections actually get implemented properly.

Because otherwise you, like everyone else here, are just posting the equivalent of "my friend's friend died from eating Pop Rocks and Sprite." Baseless accusations that don't help anyone.

Re:So show us. (3, Informative)

earthbound kid (859282) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927503)

Give me one reason why this [wikipedia.org] was reverted and you'll be giving me one more reason than the reverter did.

Re:So show us. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25928237)

It seems it was a mistake while reverting vandalism that came just before your edit. The reverting editor confirms this [wikipedia.org] .

Re:So show us. (2, Insightful)

earthbound kid (859282) | more than 5 years ago | (#25928607)

That's just another example of the problem, really. Articles have to battle vandalism so much of the time that self-appointed editors just revert first and ask questions later, with the unfortunate consequence of ensuring that the article will never be better than mediocre.

Re:So show us. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25928299)

Give me one reason why this was reverted

Two reasons!

    1) Run-on sentences. Please, learn to use a period or a comma.
    2) No citations. Looks like you're just pulling shit out of your ass.

Re:So show us. (1)

earthbound kid (859282) | more than 5 years ago | (#25928597)

Well, you clearly didn't look at what I added, because the bit on Bulgakov was cited. The other bits were janitorial.

Re:So show us. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25929173)

3) You suck.

Re:So show us. (1, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927617)

It would prove once and for all that Wikipedia is as bad as everyone says it is. I'd love to see it. We'd all love to see it. Then we can fix it and make sure that your corrections actually get implemented properly.

I hope people do this, to make you realize how skewed and insular your view is. It's certainly not baseless. You will be inundated if they do. It's not as bad as everyone says it is, it's actually worse. But bearing in mind the many corrupt admins, this just seems like wasting more time. It would be like Canute trying to hold back the tide. There's really no point in fighting for truth on Wikipedia.

It's happened to me many times with minor edits. However, I have simply long since avoided using Wikipedia altogether, it just not worth wasting the time, or getting the neo-nazi orange "you have a message" forced to your IP address, when an admin doesn't like your changes, no matter how factual they are. (and sending messages this way to dynamic addresses is a really retarded thing to do anyway -- at best all you do is make new enemies. Every. Single. Time.)

Wikipedia has the bad press and comments it deserves. Unfortunately, it has a Google page rank is really does not deserve.

Re:So show us. (4, Insightful)

Carbonite (183181) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927715)

Maybe you're right, but thus far you've acted exactly as the parent post described: Complaining about how bad Wikipedia is without providing any links as evidence. So why not show us these "minor edits" that were reverted by corrupt admins so we can judge for ourselves?

Re:So show us. (0)

sailingmishap (1236532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927723)

I was going to sarcastically point out that you just completely supported my post by claiming it's happened to you many times but not posting an example. But then I realized you could not possibly be that colossally retarded, so you must just be trolling. Right?

Re:So show us. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927883)

Ok...

Some guy nominates Heavy Metal (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) [wikipedia.org] for deletion and fails in his attempt. So what does he do? Merges every episode, save that one, into List of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episodes [wikipedia.org] . You see - this user knows he couldn't get consensus by an AfD so he engages in backroom deals to gain support.

Of course, that doesn't top Torchic [wikipedia.org] . A front page featured article with 20 paragraphs and 46 citations now reduced to redirecting to a list of pokemon, with 2-3 paragraphs (depending on whether or not a one sentence paragraph counts) and no citations.

Critics of pokemon articles often say "it's insane that there are articles on every single pokemon but not on {some random subject}". Wikipedians used to, properly, redirect such critics to be bold [wikipedia.org] - if you don't like the coverage of some random subject, expand on that subject, yourself, instead of trying to destroy other peoples hard work. Now, all wikipedia ever does is cave to critics proposing deletion.

Re:So show us. (1)

sailingmishap (1236532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25928625)

Some guy nominates Heavy Metal (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) [wikipedia.org] for deletion and fails in his attempt. So what does he do? Merges every episode, save that one, into List of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episodes [wikipedia.org]. You see - this user knows he couldn't get consensus by an AfD so he engages in backroom deals to gain support.

Nonsense. He was reverted [wikipedia.org] within a few hours, and the article [wikipedia.org] has been up ever since. That's a very, very poor example. Actually, it's a great example of Wikipedia working the way it's supposed to. People disagree, the people who follow the guidelines (not necessarily the majority) win. That's the way I've seen it happen over and over again. But you won't ever use this as an example of how Wikipedia works properly, right? You'll just keep using it as an example of how Wikipedia doesn't work even though I just clearly disproved it.

Of course, that doesn't top Torchic [wikipedia.org]. A front page featured article with 20 paragraphs and 46 citations now reduced to redirecting to a list of pokemon, with 2-3 paragraphs (depending on whether or not a one sentence paragraph counts) and no citations.

The Torchic article [wikipedia.org] was non-notable. Not, as so many people confusedly insist, because it is obscure or video-game-related, but because the sources used were horrible.

Look at the list of sources. An article needs reliable, secondary sources to be notable (it may, of course, supplement these with primary sources and other secondary sources where appropriate, but not exclusively). If we pull out primary sources (non-secondary) and Pokemon fan sites (little editorial control, not sufficiently reliable), we get: Time.com, discussing Pokemon in general (never mentioning the word "Torchic"), and IGN, discussing Pokemon in general (never mentioning the word "Torchic"). This was after the entire league of Torchic defenders scrambled to find as many sources as possible. Not one reliable secondary source even mentioned Torchic. So if there are no reliable secondary sources, which are supposed to be the basis for every article, how can there be an entire article about it? So it got merged into another crappy article. Even though "List of Pokemon" sucks, it is at least a notable subject, since Pokemon [wikipedia.org] as a whole is discussed in reliable secondary sources.

Re:Removal... (2, Informative)

earthbound kid (859282) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927465)

I've noticed that too. Here's the thing, there are three kinds of articles in Wikipedia today: stubs, mediocre articles, and decent articles. No one is watching the stubs, so you can add stuff to those, though there is a serious problem getting past the deletionists to make a stub in the first place. Mediocre articles on the other hand had some good information in the past, but now paragraph three cuts off halfway through and the references section is screwed up. When you look at the history of the page, you see that basically the only changes made to it in the last year were vandalism and reverts, but the reverts weren't done properly and information was lost. Finally, the decent articles are decent because there are specific people who patrol the page to keep out vandalism. The trouble is, they're assholes and they also keep out new information and revert any improvements to the page. Good luck pointing out that the sections of the page need to be reorganized: you'll just be reverted away.

Re:Removal... (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#25928251)

though there is a serious problem getting past the deletionists to make a stub in the first place

Strangely, none of the articles I've created there have ever been deleted. Or perhaps it's not strange... I don't think more than a small fraction of articles created are deleted, except in certain "hobby horse" areas where I'll grant the deletionists roam free -- stuff related to explaining the plots of works of fiction and biographies of people known only for a single thing, mainly. Create articles outside of these areas, and my [wikipedia.org] experience [wikipedia.org] is [wikipedia.org] they're normally kept.

Re:Removal... (2, Interesting)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 5 years ago | (#25928345)

I didn't edit WP that much, but I did some pretty major changes on some articles (e.g. "Closures" and "C Sharp (programming language)") along those lines (rewriting and reorganizing), and no-one reverted them or anything. A few people did clean up the spelling and reworded some awkwardly worded sentences.

Re:Removal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927915)

This makes wikipedia seem more like wanking grounds for rising young 'geeks' who want some internet fame.

Not the place for original research... (4, Informative)

Angostura (703910) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927087)

I'm not sure that Aaronson really gets it regarding original research and putting his name on it.

Surely, it is meant to work this way:

1. Researcher publishes research in reputable peer-grouped journal, and makes this paper available on the Web.
2. Researcher writes nice, easily digestable Wiki page on the topic, citing the peer-reviewed research as a source.

The Wikipedia prohibition on 'original research' is really a polite way of saying: 'don't assert things that could simoly have been pulled out of your butt'. The reliance on peer-reviewed external sources is supposed to get around this problem.

----
Anyone know why my posts recently started appearing with Score 1, despite "excellent" karma? I'd love to know.

Re:Not the place for original research... (2, Informative)

caramelcarrot (778148) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927255)

Indeed - I think it's a nice way to keep the crackpots out of the science articles, and allows most researchers to get their work in fine.

Re:Not the place for original research... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927417)

The karma bonus is an option. You may have disabled it. Check your commenting preferences [slashdot.org] . It sounds like you have "No Karma Bonus" checked.

Re:Not the place for original research... (1)

sailingmishap (1236532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927507)

Exactly.

That's the trade-off for letting anyone edit the encyclopedia. Scientific journals have a smaller writer base, and can individually verify the academic validity of new research.

Wikipedia users can't make sure that every new piece of research is valid. That's outside the scope of the project. So more information (in terms of topics) is allowed, but with stricter guidelines (in terms of verifiability) for inclusion. Makes sense to me.

subject /// OBJECT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927105)

LINUCES!!!

He has a point.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927133)

(4) not having our prose rewritten or deleted by people calling themselves Duduyat, Raul654, and Prokonsul Piotrus

We CS people gotta keep our prose before hoes.

wrong list (5, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927143)

He's got a list of complaints which is completely the wrong list. Essentially he seems upset about (1) not getting a byline, (2) neutral point of view, (3) no original research, and (4) having what he writes modified by others. Well, sorry, but those are all basic features of WP. They're not gonna change, and IMO they shouldn't change. WP has problems, but the problems are not on this list.

In my opinion, the biggest problems with WP are (1) the poor quality of the writing, and (2) the tendency of the quality of an article to get worse over time, rather than better. Problem 1 is particularly pronounced in my field, which is physics; most of the physics articles read as if they were written by smart grad students who wanted to show off how smart they were. If there was going to be a #3 on my list, it would have to do with the factors that make me personally feel like working on WP has gotten about as pleasant as a proctological exam. But that's really not a problem with WP, it's just a problem that makes me personally not want to work on WP. Plenty of other people still seem to be happily maintaining it, which I think is great.

Re:wrong list (0, Flamebait)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927181)

Who the heck modded this flamebait? First para is precisely correct.

Re:wrong list (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927361)

No it isn't correct. The story gives explanations, not complaints. A bit like if you explain why penguins can't fly, it doesn't mean you'd like to change them.

Re:wrong list (2, Insightful)

TorKlingberg (599697) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927245)

I don't don't know why this was modded down. Better than all the comments above.

About your claim that articles get worse over time, I haven't seen many real cases of that. Some articles on important topics seem to stay in bad state indefinitely, but that's an other matter.

Re:wrong list (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#25928319)

About your claim that articles get worse over time, I haven't seen many real cases of that. Some articles on important topics seem to stay in bad state indefinitely, but that's an other matter.

This happens a lot: initially, a well-written, but not comprehensive or possibly slightly inaccurate article gets written. Additions to it are haphazard and badly written, resulting in a difficult to read but comprehensize and correct article. Nobody bothers fixing the latter.

Re:wrong list (3, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927673)

Actually I think a lot of people (myself included) may have misinterpreted his points. He's not saying Wikipedia is wrong for these reasons. Merely that there's an incompatibility between academics and Wikipedia.

Academics aren't going to write about these articles because they prefer to spend time doing original research, so he's challenging those of us who do like to research other peoples work to summarise it for Wikipedia.

what (1)

overcaffein8d (1101951) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927175)

what, you mean like how p != np?

Re:what (1)

overcaffein8d (1101951) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927185)

those p=np people can sure put their bias into the article, thereby negating wikipedia's validity

Re:what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927403)

Anon for moderation.

Wtf is this? Someone trying to pull a twitter? Call the identity police, get this guy his meds, stat!

Re:what (1)

overcaffein8d (1101951) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927577)

twitter?

p=np is a classic theoretical computer problem that has never been solved

Re:what (4, Funny)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#25928131)

p=np is a classic theoretical computer problem that has never been solved

"Let n = 1."

There you go. Why do people get so worked up about this?

Re:what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25928207)

Or p = 0.

Re:what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25928545)

Yes - the difficulty is deciding which one it is.

Who is the problem here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927199)

"we're used to (1) putting our names on our stuff, (2) editorializing pretty freely, (3) using "original research" as a compliment and not an accusation, and (4) not having our prose rewritten or deleted by people calling themselves Duduyat, Raul654, and Prokonsul Piotrus"

  That really says more about academics than wikipedia.
  (1) Actually means "have our names displayed prominently", since wikipedia does store one's name (if one desires it).
  (2) Means he wants a lower standard. Wikipedia is far from perfect, but he wants it to be *worse*.
  (3) Is missing the point, wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a science journal. If he doesn't know that, he's not much of a scientist, is he?
  (4) Names are not important (that's why I have almost always posted as AC here on /.). I don't know what 'duduyat' means, could be a name, 'raul654' *is* a name, followed by numbers probably to be a unique ID, prokonsul piotrus seems to be a rather obvious nickname. Or, as some might call it, a pen name. I guess he wouldn't like anything by Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, Richard Bachman, George Eliot, Andy McNab, Ibn Warraq and many others. Appeal to authority is a fallacy.

Re:Who is the problem here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25928133)

Appeal to authority is a fallacy, but his point was that the "corrections" unqualified people make while hiding behind their usernames are often unquestionably wrong (see the comments for any math article on Slashdot for hundreds of examples). If I were a professor of computer science and I'd just contributed to an article in my research area, I'd be pretty annoyed if some anonymous high school kid with too much free time overwrote my changes with something false because he incorrectly thought he knew better.

And authors of fiction who use pen names are irrelevant to this because Mark Twain was using his name to write stories, not to assert any sort of scientific expertise. George Eliot wasn't using the name to publish incorrect "facts" in the Encyclopedia Britannica, but maybe 'duduyat' was doing exactly that in Wikipedia and yet his "opinions" about something objectively true or false were given equal weight.

CS coverage relatively better (4, Insightful)

sentientbrendan (316150) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927209)

Most academic issues are handled worse than computer science.

Most of the CS coverage addressed on wikipedia is the kind of stuff that working computer programmers would be interested. There are a few theory articles, but you can't expect much from them. Writing in CS theory or other areas in mathematics is difficult, and requires more than citations. It requires strong writing and editing skills, and strong understanding of the subject at hand. I wouldn't expect to get more than a rough overview of a field from its wikipedia entry.

Re:CS coverage relatively better (1)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927803)

I'd agree. I've found much less 'politicing' in the CS area than almost any other section. For the most part, if you see something that isn't cited, but more than obvious to anyone in the field, it doesn't get a "citation needed" by some anal editor. Furthermore, most of the articles have less of the drive-by insults/bickering that seems to be so common when companies or (somewhat) famous people are the subject. I guess that most of us geeks are more interested in commonly-known (no citation needed if the fact is generally accepted) knowledge than gossip. That, and I guess we all kind of know each other to some degree or another through slashdot, open source projects, blogs, etc. It would be somewhat silly to speak out of turn about someone you're going to run in to online within a month, anyways.

Re:CS coverage relatively better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25928219)

The STCON article was wrong and it upset me so much that I had to edit it myself. I have never edited a wikipedia article before or since. Honestly, the CS theory articles are worse than the math articles!

Academics should think of "literature reviews." (2, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927227)

If they and their students write a Wikipedia article in exactly the same way as they write an academic "literature review," they will have no problems at all.

Literature reviews presents no original research; provide some interpretation and context but no personal opinion; and cite sources for every fact. Just like a good Wikipedia article.

Re:Academics should think of "literature reviews." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927385)

or maybe they should ditch wikipedia and publish on google knol or in academic journal. making people jump thru meaningless hoops ? go elsewhere.

Don't bother (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927229)

It will just be deleted. Boys do the work, girls delete it.

Re:Don't bother (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927311)

Mob mentality rules on a social encyclopedia. If 1 experts knows something to be true, 100 idiots who agree with each other can rewrite their own version of that truth.

Knol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927323)

hate to say this but google's knol service might just be what the doc ordered.

You're only researching published material (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927337)

My remarks on the comments:

(1) You're only researching published material
(2) You're only researching published material
(3) You're only researching published material
(4) Fair enough.

The remark that original research is an accusation on Wikipedia is correct but it's not really relevant. I'm sure a science fiction author wouldn't complain about not being able to make stuff up in a science journal, and I'm sure that physicists are quite happy that there are no tolerances specified in cookery books.

could Aaronson explain... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927339)

Could Aaronson explain why "improving Wikipedia" is a laudable goal?

Of course it might be beneficial for an undergrad to write essays on the given topics, but contrast, say, scientific history articles in Wikipedia vs those written by practicing academics in the Dictionary of Scientific Biology. To suggest that an undergrad essay is a suitable reference - to even suggest that it is a suitable jumping-off point, when the undergrad's knowledge will lean heavily toward the limited knowledge and reading material recommended by his tutors - is damaging to academia and to the interested layman.

What is more, Wikipedia's free-for-all editing model is known - even by Aaronson, it seems - to permit his edits to be treated with the same respect as hAX0RKID3000's. The hard part of Wikipedia is not writing something but making sure it doesn't rattle someone's cage. I can't think of much going for Wikipedia apart from the fact that it's popular and it's big. Taken from this angle, wouldn't students be better joining the American Football team or similar?

I'm glad to have heard either rational criticism or appropriate mockery from faculty on this side of the pond, from Oxford to the local ex-poly.

List of deletionists and abusive admins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927491)

I am naming and shaming them here. If Wikimedia wan'ts their 6 Million donations, they better start banning deletionists and breaking up the cabals of rogue admins. They are worse than the vandal known as Willy on Wheels [encycloped...matica.com] ! Willy on Wheels only moved pages on wheels, not delete free content knowledge. Look at their contributions to see what I mean.

TTN, MER-C, OrangeMarlin, Oxymoron83, Antandurus, Luna Santin, Alison, SpaceBirdy, CometStyles, IronHolds, Betacommand, Spellcast, Lucasbfr, JzG, Standstien, and more.

I was a former editor with over 5000 edits before I left due to deletionists, so I know the deletionist gangs first hand.

Re:List of deletionists and abusive admins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927939)

The most egregious deletionist of them all is Misterdiscreet [wikipedia.org] . Just look at his userpage - he's bragging about the articles hes gotten deleted.

NOMINATED FOR DELETION - NOT NOTABLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25927533)

Not notable. Consider for deletion.

Wikipedia is only as good as it's source... (2, Insightful)

nullhero (2983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927645)

My British Lit professor was always pushing us to use Wikipedia as a source for papers and content. After reviewing the list of contributors to the areas that he wanted us to read I found that he was a regular contributor. The point he knew the entries that he was taking us too had correct information because he made sure of. I think what the article is saying is the same thing. Rather than knock it down academics, or at least their grad students, should be making an effort to update the entries regarding Theoretical Computer Science so that the information is viewed as hear say.

Scott (1)

spintriae (958955) | more than 5 years ago | (#25927747)

FTA's wishlist:

Well-known theoretical computer scientists without Wikipedia pages

No, I'm not going to make that list ... but you can.

If Scott Aaronson was hinting at himself here, which I assume he was, it seems that somebody just took the bait [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Scott (2, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#25928347)

And somebody's already tagged it {{notability}}. *Sigh*

Aaronson is one of the few CS researchers whose name keeps coming up again & again. He's at least as notable as many of the other CSists who have articles. (Yeah, I know. WP:OTHERSTUFFEXISTS.)

Re:Scott (1)

sailingmishap (1236532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25928761)

Aaronson is one of the few CS researchers whose name keeps coming up again & again.

Where?

He's at least as notable as many of the other CSists who have articles.

Notability's not really a spectrum. Either his importance has been established by reliable, secondary sources or not. The only source in that article is some gigantic database site saying that he got a Ph.D. Clearly not sufficient.

What Could Possibly Go Right? (3, Insightful)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 5 years ago | (#25928203)

One commenter suggests that professors should encourage students to improve the Wikipedia articles about topics they are studying. 'This will help them understand the topic and at the same time improve Wikipedia.'"

How is bringing thousands of people into the mix who don't know what they're talking about (many of whom think they know everything) supposed to improve anything?

Encouraging your students to go "improve" Wikipedia articles isn't encouraging them to speak up, seek knowledge, or debate.

Wikiversity (2, Interesting)

Emesee (1155401) | more than 5 years ago | (#25928263)

At Wikiversity, a sister project to Wikipedia, theoretically, most of those:

(1) putting our names on our stuff, (2) editorializing pretty freely, (3) using "original research" as a compliment and not an accusation, and (4) not having our prose rewritten or deleted by people calling themselves Duduyat, Raul654, and Prokonsul Piotrus,'

Are at least somewhat mitigated.

Should not be so much of an issue. 1: You pretty much can. 2: You pretty much can. 3: You pretty much can. 4: Less of a problem. We are trying to make this not be the case. We also offer certain protections Wikipedia does not.

Wow... I know nothing about those... (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 5 years ago | (#25928293)

That's probably because every student in my computer science department starts their research at Wikipedia. Honestly, the Wikipedia articles are easy, readable, and accurate. It's usually after reading Wikipedia that I can go back to my Algorithms textbooks and understand what they're saying.

Re:Wow... I know nothing about those... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25928459)

It's usually after reading Wikipedia that I can go back to my Algorithms textbooks and understand what they're saying.

The mathematics articles are alleged by many to be of higher than average Wikipedia standard, but by fuck are they harder to read than a good textbook.

They aren't clear on definitions of terms. They alternate between results conjured up out of nowhere and a chatty style that appears to reflect some point an undergrad didn't (still doesn't?) quite understand and felt he needed to clarify in the article. They often contain subtle nonsense, occasionally egregious. Frankly, I get more out of Mathworld for a quick mathematical summary, and the Dictionary of Scientific Biography for historical matter.

NO NOT the students (1)

Secret Rabbit (914973) | more than 5 years ago | (#25928543)

"""
One commenter suggests that professors should encourage students to improve the Wikipedia articles about topics they are studying. 'This will help them understand the topic and at the same time improve Wikipedia.'
"""

This would actually be counter productive. Student, just starting to study something, have the horrid habit of thinking they understand something that they actually don't. Students, in general, should be told to avoid writing about subjects they are studying, not encouraged.

wikixandria (1)

AeiwiMaster (20560) | more than 5 years ago | (#25928599)

I have submitted a project to googles 10^100 compatition that will solve the 4 problems with wikipedia he lists.

The project name is wikixandria and the idea is to make a p2p wiki library.

If the project wins 10^100 we will soon have an academy-friendly alternative to wikipedia.

Also lets remember that is also possible to store knowledge in a knowledge base. Like they do at true knowledge [trueknowledge.com] and the let a computer answare our questions.

Also take a loke at my "p2p" news-site crowdnews.eu [crowdnews.eu]

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...