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UK Police Told To Use Wikipedia When Preparing For Court

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the citation-needed dept.

Government 180

Half-pint HAL tips news of UK prosecution lawyers who are instructing police to study information on Wikipedia when preparing to give expert testimony in court. "Mike Finn, a weaponry specialist and expert witness in more than 100 cases, told industry magazine Police Review: 'There was one case in a Midlands force where police officers asked me to write a report about a martial art weapon. The material they gave me had been printed out from Wikipedia. The officer in charge told me he was advised by the CPS to use the website to find out about the weapon and he was about to present it in court. I looked at the information and some of it had substance and some of it was completely made up.' Mr. Finn, a former Metropolitan Police and City of London officer and Home Office adviser, added that he has heard of at least three other cases where officers from around the country have been advised by the CPS to look up evidence on Wikipedia."

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They would be better off using snopes.com. (5, Funny)

ProfanityHead (198878) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577599)

After all, snopes is always correct.

Re:They would be better off using snopes.com. (4, Funny)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577725)

Do you have any evidence of snopes.com being incorrect? I've never heard of anyone challenging their credulity.

Re:They would be better off using snopes.com. (5, Funny)

Antidamage (1506489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577757)

The Wikipedia article on Snopes confirms its veracity. Unfortunately the Snopes article on Wikipedia does not reciprocate.

Re:They would be better off using snopes.com. (0, Redundant)

jimmydevice (699057) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577995)

And the parent post isn't tagged +5 funny?

Re:They would be better off using snopes.com. (4, Interesting)

Strilanc (1077197) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577979)

Snopes posted a couple of purposefully incorrect things once, in order to prove a point about not blindly trusting people. The fake stories backfired (or worked, depending on your view) and became real urban legends. Hilarious.

Re:They would be better off using snopes.com. (4, Funny)

the_womble (580291) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578211)

Snopes posted a couple of purposefully incorrect things once, in order to prove a point about not blindly trusting people. The fake stories backfired (or worked, depending on your view) and became real urban legends. Hilarious.

I heard that too, but I checked and it turned out to be just an urban legend.

Re:They would be better off using snopes.com. (2, Funny)

jeepien (848819) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578535)

Snopes posted a couple of purposefully incorrect things once, in order to prove a point about not blindly trusting people. The fake stories backfired (or worked, depending on your view) and became real urban legends. Hilarious.

[citation needed]

Re:They would be better off using snopes.com. (3, Informative)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578579)

Citation [snopes.com]

Re:They would be better off using snopes.com. (1)

knorthern knight (513660) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578597)

>> Snopes posted a couple of purposefully incorrect things once,
>> in order to prove a point about not blindly trusting people.
>> The fake stories backfired (or worked, depending on your view)
>> and became real urban legends. Hilarious.

> [citation needed]

http://www.snopes.com/lost/mistered.asp [snopes.com] and please don't tell me you fell for it.

Re:They would be better off using snopes.com. (2, Funny)

arotenbe (1203922) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577989)

Do you have any evidence of snopes.com being incorrect? I've never heard of anyone challenging their credulity.

Ahem... I believe that in this situation someone is supposed to say "whoosh [xkcd.com] ".

Re:They would be better off using snopes.com. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578149)

Maybe I missed the joke here; did you mean CREDULITY or (almost an opposite) CREDIBILITY?

Re:They would be better off using snopes.com. (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578207)

Do you have any evidence of snopes.com being incorrect? I've never heard of anyone challenging their credulity.

I certainly challenge it. They are not at all credulous, which is why they are credible.

Re:They would be better off using snopes.com. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28577731)

"...completely made up..."

Is anyone surprised?

This is sad. (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577625)

However, had it been defense lawyers coaching the cops to use wikipedia for official functions, it would have been hilarious.

Re:This is sad. (3, Insightful)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578353)

1) Hack wikipedia with laughably ludicrous info
2) Destroy prosecution's credibility
3) ...
4) Acquittal!!!!!

Wikipedia as a source of truth? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28577639)

Wikipedia is now the source of truth, but the problem with it is that it has nothing to do with truth but only with an agreement about already published sources, where complete nonsense almost inevitably follows.
An interesting discussion on Wikipedia as Truth by popularity is here:
http://www.pandalous.com/nodes/truth_by_popularity

Re:Wikipedia as a source of truth? (2, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577891)

A link to a teaser summery that references and article that requires a paid subscription... And it is somehow marked informative. Good example of the problem here.

Re:Wikipedia as a source of truth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578055)

houstonbofh, the point of the discussion there is not the article, as actually the people there even say they didn't read the article. The discussion is about wikipedia's, and people in general, relation to truth today, which is decided by popularity. Similar as here in slashdot by choosing which comments get shown and not.

Re:Wikipedia as a source of truth? (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578081)

houstonbofh, the point of the discussion there is not the article, as actually the people there even say they didn't read the article. The discussion is about wikipedia's, and people in general, relation to truth today, which is decided by popularity. Similar as here in slashdot by choosing which comments get shown and not.

And about people basing knowledge on summeries without checking the source information. My comment was about people getting bumped up for providing information that links to hidden source material, and no one notices. No one actually checks the facts anymore, (Investigative journalism my ass) and it is coming back to bite us.

Re:Wikipedia as a source of truth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578327)

houstonbofh, What fact checking are you talking about?
Did you check the facts? You obviously responded to the discussion without actually reading it.

My comment:
Wikipedia is now the source of truth, but the problem with it is that it has nothing to do with truth but only with an agreement about already published sources, where complete nonsense almost inevitably follows.
An interesting discussion on Wikipedia as Truth by popularity is here:
http://www.pandalous.com/nodes/truth_by_popularity

The discussion there has nothing to do with the article itself but is simply a discussion of how truth is perceived these days, in Wikipedia, and Wikipedia as a reflection of our time.
Everybody knows how Wikipedia works, and this is what is discussed, quite intelligently I thought.

The guy probably linked to the original article just because it aroused the question for him, even though as he states, and everyone else in the discussion states, they didn't read it.
We all have thoughts come to us just from reading headlines.

I could ask: Did you check the facts? You obviously responded to the discussion without actually reading it. But I don't blame you.

Re:Wikipedia as a source of truth? (2, Interesting)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578389)

First, I am not disagreeing with you. I am just pointing out that we are having a discussion on an article most of us have not read. That is the problem. How many times are goofy comments here responded to with "Read the article?" It used to be that facts were born out by research, and now it is by consensus. (Like "The world is flat...") And the Wikipedia issue is just more of this in another place. Read the wiki, and do not check the sources...

And no I did not read the article. It was locked behind a fee. It does sound interesting, however.

Re:Wikipedia as a source of truth? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578481)

Houstonbofh, I'll try to explain one more time and then let it go.

When I said: "You obviously responded to the discussion without actually reading it." I meant the discussion I linked to on Pandalous, not the article.

What I'm trying to say here is that the article is not the source on which that discussion was based but no one has seen or verified, like the world is flat you mention. Rather, it is like a cat walked by and then people start talking about SchrÃdinger's cat. The cat which passed is not important and was simply an instigator to a conversation which has nothing to do with it. Whether anyone actually saw that first cat, or imagined it, would not change the interest of the conversation on SchrÃdinger's cat.
You can read that whole discussion while forgetting there was an article mentioned on top and you would be nonetheworse for it.

(I also didn't mean to have the questions twice in my previous comment, but I couldn't edit it).

Re:Wikipedia as a source of truth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578165)

actually it is a very intresting discussion about truth
the article has nothing to do with it.

Expert? (0)

slazzy (864185) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577641)

Expert witness's shouldn't be allowed to study before preparing for court. A judges job is to read, an expert should be an expert.

Re:Expert? (4, Insightful)

AnonGCB (1398517) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577793)

So you're saying someone with a technical background but no specific knowledge of item x should not be allowed to study the specifics? Being an expert isn't knowing everything, it's knowing the background, methods and having a good working knowledge of the field, not knowing every single piece of info in that field.

Re:Expert? (3, Insightful)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578089)

Tell that to every high school teacher in america. As far as they're concerned the ability to memorize every piece of useless trivia thrown at you over an entire year means far more than your ability to actually find the solution to a given problem.

Re:Expert? (1)

JPortal (857107) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578391)

None of my teachers felt that way in 4 years of high school.

Re:Expert? (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578677)

Out of 4 schools in three states I didn't meet a single HS level math teacher that didn't feel that way. Consider yourself lucky for having studied under the very small minority of HS teachers that can't be outthought by a spoon of yeast.

Blacks vs. NIGGERS (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28577643)

I love black people from Africa. They come to the USA and they say that they can't stand American blacks because they're self-destructive, racist, maladaptive pieces of shit for the most part though there are some really great exceptions. It's not race or color of skin because "black people" are NOT niggers. It's cultural because American black people ARE a bunch of niggers. Get that chip off your shoulder, quit glorifying violence and drugs and the abuse of women, get a better plan for your life other than being a thug with a shitty attitude, and quit thinking that getting an education is "too white" or anything other than "smart". That's how American blacks can stop being a bunch of niggers.

Re:Blacks vs. NIGGERS (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28577747)

Your subject line says "Blacks vs. NIGGERS". Blacks ARE niggers, you idiot. They muh-dikk infants because that cures AIDS.

Kill the children,
save the food,
They're nothing but a bunch of black jigaboos!
save your money,
Let 'em die,
so we can snort dope and get fuckin' high!

-- Adolf Hitler, Peace Be Upon Him.

Heh... (5, Funny)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577645)

I looked at the information and some of it had substance and some of it was completely made up

Just like police testimony in general!

Re:Heh... (2, Funny)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577667)

I looked at the information and some of it had substance and some of it was completely made up

Just like police testimony in general!

Nah, that tends to be made up ABOUT a substance.

Re:Heh... (1)

Bob_Who (926234) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578201)

Just like police testimony in general!

This is right on the money actually. I know its "funny", and it is, but when you really consider how courts conduct themselves, its pretty accurate and "insightful". Wiki and expert testimony are both prone to the same degree of accuracy mixed with manure. The same could be said of most human opinion in general. Maybe wiki is an appropriate source for "experts" who testify on behalf of one side of an adversarial legal trial process, after all. Ironic.

Re:Heh... (2, Interesting)

tg123 (1409503) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578567)

Hey who modded this as funny it should be insightful.

Police often exaggerate in court.

http://oklahomacriminaldefense.blogspot.com/2008/08/police-lying-or-testilying-and.html [blogspot.com]

Wish I had mod points ..................

Re:Heh... (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578805)

Yup.

CPS? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28577647)

If you're using acronyms, you should identify what they stand for since there are lots of readers from outside the UK. "Characters per second" perhaps?

Re:CPS? (4, Funny)

miruku (642921) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577689)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_Prosecution_Service [wikipedia.org]

"The Crown Prosecution Service, or CPS, is a non-ministerial department of the Government of the United Kingdom responsible for public prosecutions of people charged with criminal offences in England and Wales. Its role is similar to that of the longer-established Crown Office in Scotland, and the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland. The CPS is headed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (currently Keir Starmer QC) who answers to the Attorney General for England and Wales (currently The Baroness Scotland of Asthal).

"The Crown Prosecution Service is responsible for criminal cases beyond the investigation, which is the job of the police. This involves giving advice to the police on charges to bring, and being responsible for authorising all but a very few simple charges (such as begging), and preparing and presenting cases for court, both in magistrates' courts and, increasingly, the Crown Court."

Re:CPS? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577745)

+1 ironic.

Re:CPS? (2, Funny)

JakartaDean (834076) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578825)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crown_Prosecution_Service

"The Crown Prosecution Service, or CPS, is a non-ministerial department of the Government of the United Kingdom responsible for public prosecutions of people charged with criminal offences in England and Wales. Its role is similar to that of the longer-established Crown Office in Scotland, and the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland. The CPS is headed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (currently Keir Starmer QC) who answers to the Attorney General for England and Wales (currently The Baroness Scotland of Asthal, who is known to be sexually attracted to women and kicks cats when nobody is looking)..."

Why wouldn't any court accept documents that reliable?

CPS? (1, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577675)

Is CPS such a common abbreviation that every reader is expected to know what it stands for?

Re:CPS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28577713)

Characters Per Second?
Child P0rn Specialist?

Re:CPS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28577769)

Crown Prosecution Service. It's common enough in the UK.

Re:CPS? (4, Informative)

Hal The Computer (674045) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577829)

Crown Prosecution Service (American's can call this a district attorney, they're the prosecution)
Feel free to mod me up.

Ironically, you can look this up at http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/CPS [wiktionary.org] . I also knew this before having to look it up, so I can say it's actually accurate.

Re:CPS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28577977)

Child Protective Services is the first definition that I, as an American, thought of.

"Ironically", it is also the first definition listed at http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/CPS [wiktionary.org] . How any non British reader would know to skip it in favor of the fourth definition, Crown Prosecution Service, is beyond me.

Re:CPS? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578485)

Oh? Good you cleared that up, I was thinking about Child Protective Services and was sitting here puzzled why they needed Wikipedia to prove Martial Arts weapons are not toys for kids...

Re:CPS? (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578601)

Feel free to mod me up.

Thanks, I will. Oops..

Well... (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577697)

I'd rather have them look stuff up on Wikipedia than not do any research at all, I suppose. At least they'll be right some of the time.

Re:Well... (4, Insightful)

paintswithcolour (929954) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577855)

But what stops the police themselves editing Wikipedia, and then citing it back in court? It seems exactly the sort of thing the British police would do these days...

Re:Well... (4, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578051)

But what stops the police themselves editing Wikipedia, and then citing it back in court?

What stops the anyone from editing the Wikipedia and making use of it in court?

Re:Well... (4, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578493)

He... hehehe....

"See, your honor, it's NOT illegal to buy weed provided you tried to buy it from a narc officer. Says it right here, look it up!"

Re:Well... (2, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578069)

Thank god for history.

Re:Well... (1)

Burning1 (204959) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578691)

Incorrect testimony calls into question the reliability of a witness in any case. Obviously false testimony would do more to benefit the defendant than the prosecution.

Re:Well... (1)

Dr Stephen Hawking (1537707) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578823)

But what stops the police themselves editing Wikipedia

Their compleete incompeetence with aanything technological.

Re:Well... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578841)

How about the fact that they're not citing it in court? They're using it for background information so that they aren't totally ignorant on the subject in court. If they repeat, in court, something which is factually incorrect then the defence can call an expert to contradict the evidence and discredit the police officer.

Re:Well... (4, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577903)

I'd rather have them look stuff up on Wikipedia than not do any research at all, I suppose. At least they'll be right some of the time.

So is a broken clock.

And this is not meant as a joke.

what makes this a problem? (2, Insightful)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577717)

What makes this a problem? Is it a problem? Is the contention "what makes an expert" or that a supposed expert isn't able to recall the information from resident memory and experience?

This is problematic, however, when wp provides non-factual information. In my mind, it calls to credulity the "expert witness" concept in general. If we've got expert witnesses having to look things up to provide testimony on them, what is their value? Especially in light of the supposed factual question.

Re:what makes this a problem? (2, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578187)

I'll probably get modded down for this, but what the hell. the problem is they are using Wikipedia, which if you've ever read some of the snarky back stabbing BS their mods pull behind the scenes you would know is less like an encyclopedia and more like a little club that for some reason everybody trusts.

Sure if the article you are looking for is on some boring crap that the mods won't give a fart about one way or the other it will probably be fine. But if a mod there decides he like his 'facts" better than yours even though you have 1000 references to his some webpage he found yours will get deleted so fast it will make your head swim. And wasn't there a mod kicked off not too long ago for making CoS links all 'yay scientology!' because he was getting paid?

Remember this is some poor guy's life we are talking about here, so look it up in an actual book, not on something like Wikipedia. I really don't think asking them to open an actual book is too much to ask, do you?

Re:what makes this a problem? (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578293)

If we've got expert witnesses having to look things up to provide testimony on them, what is their value? Especially in light of the supposed factual question.

What are you talking about? If you'd said that relying on information gathered only from Wikipedia calls into credibility of the expert witness, then I'd agree. I have been called on to provide expert testimony several times and I wouldn't have even thought of going into court relying only on my memory. The "value" of my testimony is my ability to analyse facts in my field to come up with an informed conclusion. To reach such a conclusion I have to "look things up". I would be more inclined to doubt the testimony of a witness who did not look things up.

Re:what makes this a problem? (2, Informative)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578509)

Expert witnesses are rarely asked for book facts. Experts (at least in our courts) are usually asked for their opinion on a specific matter.

Re:what makes this a problem? (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578521)

The problem is that Wikipedia == hearsay.

There is no "expert" validation of the information posted there. A lot of stuff is anonymous and that which isn't cannot be 100% validated to be from the individual who claims authorship. The writers cannot be cros-examined in a court (as an expert witness could).

The other MAJOR problem is that it is too easy to fabricate a case. If the police were to start writing Wiki articles about the people they arrest, or the possessions they have when arrested, it becomes a farce.

Finally, if citing Wiki is enough to get your university work marked down (or dismissed altogether) it should be inadmissable in law

There's no souce of information left to trust (1)

Antidamage (1506489) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577743)

Seriously? You can't trust the wikipedia article on The Gun That Shoots Dogs That Bar Bees? How the fuck are we going to convict people who wield it now?

Lawyer: Objection (4, Funny)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577753)

Judge: [Citation needed]
Jury: Speedy delete

Re:Lawyer: Objection (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578511)

The worst thing is, that a citation means shit! The citation is just as easily made up as the article itself.
Of course an Wikipedia, every mentioning of that problem is marked with [citation needed]. :P

Yay.

Re:Lawyer: Objection (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578843)

These days, the citation is a news article based on the wikipedia article before someone marked it as [citation needed].

All sources should be suspect (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577759)

When I read stories like this I imagine people going to sources other than Wikipedia (like, say, a textbook) and just doggedly believing everything they read. At least with Wikipedia (most) people have the sense to take everything they read with a grain of salt. Follow the citations people. Do your own research. If you're so easily convinced that something is "truth" then its not Wikipedia that's the problem.

Re:All sources should be suspect (1)

Crazy Wolverine (1274920) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578127)

That's the thing though. Due to Wikipedia's popularity, I'm sure that the average visitor doesn't stop and think about whether or not the content in a Wikipedia article is true. Not everyone in this world has the background information or experience that you and I do to know to take Wikipedia articles with a grain of salt, or the attention span to see all the little "citation needed" blurbs and the various warnings about the possible truthfulness of an article.

Re:All sources should be suspect (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578131)

The vast majority of people are idiots, yes. This isn't News.

Re:All sources should be suspect (1)

reashlin (1370169) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578915)

Being a student I still use Wikipedia alot of the time.

To use it successfully you just scroll to the bottom and look at all the pretty references on a subject. 90% of the time you'll find the actual journal articles.technical papers/books that you were actually after.

Wikipedia is a source of infomation. Not an information store.

citation needed (3, Insightful)

benthurston27 (1220268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577797)

"I looked at the information and some of it had substance and some of it was completely made up." I think I'd like a little more detail as to what facts he believed and which he didn't, or am I supposed to take his word for it, as he is an "expert". The beauty of wikipedia is it gives you some recourse to ascertain the truth or falsity of a statement via the citations, his statement did not. Wikipedia 1, Expert 0

Re:citation needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578891)

That doesn't make any sense. Since what he said has been reported on it could BE a citation in Wikipedia. But you're saying that Wikipedia citing it would be more reliable in your mind than his original comment. That's just daft.

Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28577803)

Can't we assess the quality of Wikipedia as a whole, instead of declaring it useless because people write stupid things about celebrities or martial arts weapons?

Seriously... What do you expect, if you look up an article on a martial arts weapon, if teenagers/kids/TMNT fans have the ability to edit it? It's like all the times that "news reporters" get annoyed because Republicans edit the entry on Democrat senators, or v.v. and invent stupid stuff about them.

The rest of wikipedia can be wonderful and valuable information, written by people who are experts in their fields. Let's cheer it for that!

Re:Perspective (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578177)

What do you expect, if you look up an article on a martial arts weapon, if teenagers/kids/TMNT fans have the ability to edit it?

But why should they have the ability to edit it?

The martial arts have deep historical and cultural roots. The weapon was often the signature work of a master craftsman.

the sum is greater than its parts. (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577847)

At least in this country, the standards of evidence and what is permissible and what isn't is based on previous court rulings. These are called precidents. Secondly, precidents set by higher courts affect all courts beneath it, however precidents can (and are) reinterpreted to fit local circumstance. What does this have to do with wikipedia? Nothing -- yet.

Here's the problem: The life of the law isn't knowledge (the present), it's experience (the past). The law can only ever look backwards. Which means that it is always at least one step behind the state of the art. It also depends on every judgment made remaining correct in perpetuity; If copying a music file is wrong now, then unless the law changes, it will always be wrong, even if the methods, economy, societal attitudes, etc., change -- the law will continue to get it's pound of flesh from hapless victims because the law can only look backwards. Because all of these flaws are systemic and cannot be amended, the system is highly dependent on the integrity of the decision-making process. And like all systems, unless standards are rigorously enforced, the margins will start to decay -- whether it's a safety margin, error margin, or civil rights margin, it will decay.

Introducing a source of information which is inherently unreliable into a process that absolutely depends on the integrity of information put into it is not just merely incompetent -- it's grossly negligent.

Re:the sum is greater than its parts. (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578393)

These are called precidents. Secondly, precidents set by higher courts affect all courts beneath it, however precidents

Presidents.

Precidents live in the Wighthouse.

Next week in court... (5, Funny)

sootman (158191) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577859)

Lawyer: "Mr. Finn, would you please tell us what you know about ninjas?"

Mr. Finn: "Certainly. 1. Ninjas are mammals. 2. Ninjas fight ALL the time. 3. The purpose of the ninja is to flip out and kill people."

Re:Next week in court... (3, Funny)

ergean (582285) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578631)

Lawyer: And what about pirates?
Mr. Finn: Oh no, you won't get me there.

Respect my authority (1, Insightful)

robbiedo (553308) | more than 5 years ago | (#28577907)

In five years, Wikipedia will likely become the most authoritative source for all basic information. It really is becoming one of the most amazing cooperative human endeavors when you consider it's scope and scale on even the most mundane and obscure topics.

Re:Respect my authority (0)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578411)

Hi, Jimbo.

Contractions (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578499)

You people are slowly eroding my ability to write correctly!

It's = "It is"
Its = "It possesses"

There = "A place"
Their = "They own"
They're = "They are"

I've seen "it's" use incorrectly so many times that I recently caught myself
using it wrong. Someone save me!

happy 4th faggots (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28577949)

remember that armed men willing to die for freedom is the reason you're not beaten to death by a bunch of muslims for fucking each other up the ass.

Re:happy 4th faggots (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578011)

But we faggots get beaten to death by a bunch of Christians anyway, so why the fuck should we care?

Re:happy 4th faggots (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578255)

go live in a real theocracy for a week and see what it really is to be ruled by a religion. i think you'll find your version of it can't compare to what happens on a regular basis in some of these countries.

your claim that christians do the same thing alone would be considered a sin that can get you killed in radical muslim states if you spoke in the same context about islam.

Most other sources "make stuff up" also (2, Insightful)

jrhawk42 (1028964) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578031)

While I'm not saying Wikipedia is more creditable it's not like other sources of information are as reliable as one would think. During my academic days I would find journals riddled with illogical conclusions, misleading facts, and statistics w/ absolutely no citations or indications on where they came from. While tracking some facts down I found surprising evidence against what several highly credited researchers stated in their articles. Now back to wikipedia... at least wikipedia is convenient. I can check out the history see if any weird changes were made, or if there's a discussion on the issue. If I find facts contrary to the original writers I can bring them into the argument, and they can be discussed at length if needed. W/ an academic journal I have to write a review, and most likely get ignored since I'm not really anybody of academic importance.

Re:Most other sources "make stuff up" also (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578923)

And the Wiki discussion will end when someone points out that the alleged facts have been published in a reputable academic journal without attracting refutation.

Surprising? (1, Interesting)

frozentier (1542099) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578053)

Considering the fact that lawyers use MySpace and facebook to gather evidence, why should this be a surprise? I think Wikipedia is generally a good source for facts. However, I think anyone who uses the internet AT ALL for important facts is very foolish. I could get a personalized URL, make up a page full of total nonsense, and there's going to be someone out there citing it as gospel, so to speak. First step in getting facts you can depend on: Get off the internet and crack open a book. Stop being LAZY, because looking up stuff on the internet is EASY.

Re:Surprising? (2, Insightful)

Super_Z (756391) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578639)

The content of a book isn't more true just because it is printed out. A book without references can be just as misleading as a webpage without references.
Primary sources could (and should) be reviewed scholarly papers. The Internet is in fact a great medium for researching and referencing papers as they can be inspected instantly. In that aspect, the Internet is a far better medium for knowledge than printed books.

How stupid (4, Insightful)

ebonum (830686) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578129)

Honestly, how stupid are people? I really don't understand. Wikipedia is an amazing source of information. Anyone who wants an introduction to a topic that they know nothing about can start with Wikipedia. I honestly don't know a better way to get an introduction on most topics. That said, people should believe, but verify what they read on Wikipedia. Wikipedia is not perfect, but the error rate is lower than most sources. Furthermore, the Wikipedia error rate in some cases can be lower than retaining a consultant who is an expert on a subject. It all depends on what the expert is being paid to say. If money or people's lives depend on the answer, it is especially important to verify Wikipedia's information.
At this point, I would find fault with someone doing research and did not review Wikipedia's entry.

"Trust but verify" It doesn't get any more simple than that.

Besides, Wikipedia's entries are rarely exhaustive. Wikipedia provides good overviews of subjects with an error rate lower than most other sources of information. The key word here is overview. Anyone interested in a deep understanding of topic should read the Wikipedia entry and then dig deeper.

Re:How stupid (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578371)

Honestly, how stupid are people? I really don't understand. Wikipedia is an amazing source of information. Anyone who wants an introduction to a topic that they know nothing about can start with Wikipedia.

Apparently not as stupid as you!

I only use wikipedia for basic reminders of things that are "on the tip of my tongue" but I just can't directly recall. For those that don't know anything about a topic, the worst place they can go is Wikipedia.

Look, I'm no fucking supporter of asshole militant Islamists but that doesn't mean that wikipedia doesn't have a pervasive Israel propaganda program problem. Everyone knows about CAMERA by now.

It is well known that an "Israel clique" has great influence on *everything* Arab-Israel (the fucking food and even fucking Godwin's Law!*). Wikipedia does not give balanced coverage on these things and probably never will.

*The current reduction ad hitlerum war (going on for months) is hilarious and illuminating. Check it out. Note that Lulu of the Lotus Eaters is a Pythonista and I also think he is Jewish. By now he will be characterized as a "self hating Jew" though.

Studies like to point out that WP has a very low error rate. But there is a problem with this analysis. People don't view topics equally. Not all articles on Wikipedia are equally likely of being viewed. Some popular articles are fine, as are those on semi-obscure math topics. All other popular articles are an absolute shit.

Trust me on this. I am a wandal. I have a number of articles on my watchlist. I keep track of a number of technical topics that 1) I have placed incorrect information in 2) Have made edits around someone else's vandalism with legitimate changes to better "conceal". I also do some very "legitimate" edits. I have never been kicked/banned, and I have never used sockpuppets. The whole point of this experiment is amuse myself when I'm bored. There's really nothing you can do about it. I also like to put illegitimate/misleading links in articles. If you only put Intrawiki links, it is *very* easy to slip under the radar.

You realize the problem here? I edit some more obscure technical topics where there is a higher likelihood that the reader won't know shit.

I have a hard time believing there aren't others like me on such a large site. Those who don't even get in the politics but just.cause trouble, but do it in a systematic way. I am a hydra anyways. Get rid of someone like me that admits it so frankly on here, and there will just be a million others.

Does the fact that my mission is pointless make it any worse than some sockpuppet army of a propaganda machine? A lot of people's gut reaction is that there is. But think about it. There is no difference. They game the system in the same way. There cause might be "noble" but only to them. It's all the same.

*edit edit edit* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578133)

The 5th Amendment is a multiple Grammy-winning American popular music vocal group, whose repertoire also includes pop, R&B, soul, and jazz.

The 5th Amendment was best-known during the late 1960s and early 1970s for popularizing the hits "Up, Up and Away", Wedding Bell Blues", "Stoned Soul Picnic", "One Less Bell to Answer", "(Last Night) I Didn't Get to Sleep at All", and "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In", as well as the eponymous 5th Amendment and The Magic Garden LP recordings.

I don't see what the big deal is (2, Interesting)

portforward (313061) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578147)

There is lots of very useful information on the internet. Martial Arts weapons are a perfectly good example of finding high-quality, even admissable evidence. There is a Youtube series devoted for researching just such a topic. Feel free to search for "Ask a Ninja".

Reminds me of a certain high school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578251)

Simply mentioning Wikipedia will earn you a long chat, in which it is explained that the site entirely made up and you will get in trouble if you're seen using it.

But when the administrators are asked to write a report about a computer related discipline of a student, they turn in several pages of Wikipedia articles.

Excellent! (4, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578259)

First, I think it is awesome to have another example of user generated media reaching the big leagues.

Second, I think it is great for cops to seek truth through research. I would like to see more of this sort of behavior. It is primarily those cops who fail to seek truth through research that are problematic. If a good cop finds out he's got the wrong suspect, he will get that person cleared and go after the real perp. Bad cops are still a problem, but research doesn't change that.

Third, as noted by others, Wikipedia is a good research tool when used the way all research tools should be; with skepticism, verification, and critical thinking. Cops, particularly detectives, are trained in such thinking. It is how they find bad guys. To the extent that they are not skilled in that art, it is because of a failure to retain sharp enough cops. Fix city hall or increase compensation, but don't blame Wikipedia.

Finally, and I think most importantly, think about the fact-checking this provides for Wikipedia. If the opposing attorney knows that information is coming from Wikipedia, he or she is going to target that info and try to break it. They will present their contrary findings, if any, in court. Those proceedings will be public and can be used to vet Wikipedia content. Heck, the attorney him or herself might submit the corrections.

They should have just posted an "Ask Slashdot" (4, Funny)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578315)

If they'd posted an "Ask Slashdot" story they'd have a million or so armchair experts willing to provide testimony at the drop of a hat.

You need to know how to read it. (1)

readin (838620) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578343)

If you're just learning for fun, then most of the time you can just read.
If the topic is somewhat controversial, check out the discussion page to see what topics are being avoided due to lack of agreement, what points of view (POVs) are being squashed, and what POV pushing may happen to be in the article when you read it.
Always pay attention to things that just don't seem right.
If you're reading for something serious where you have to be right (a research paper, a trial, etc.), don't believe anything that isn't sourced and make sure the sources say what the article claims they say.

Never trust a cop (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578517)

Why would anyone trust the testimony from a pig anyway?

Right tool, wrong application (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578547)

Wikipedia is a nice tool. To look up something, for your personal, private use where a wrong information can't do much more harm than maybe make you look like a fool at the next party when you repeat it and someone who actually knows the subject tells you how it really is. No harm done. Don't get me wrong, Wikipedia is right about 99% of the time, fact checked and sourced, but the fact that ANYONE can edit also means that the moment you look up something might be JUST the moment some moron edited the page you visit to push his version of reality and truth.

Wikipedia is NO source for anyone looking for hard facts for a scientific study, for legal advice or (even worse) medical advice. It's like the old saying, you don't know where it's been, and you don't know who edited it last. The moment the life, wellbeing or freedom of a person or the usefulness of a study is at stake, use something more reliable.

Better than the old way (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28578661)

Here he says some of the stuff was "made up". In the old model the "expert" himself makes the stuff up live at the court...

I'm too lazy to go looking for the study that compared wikipedia's accuracy with that of some traditional encyclopedias and found out that wikipedias accuracy perfectly compared to the ones printed on dead trees.

Some people just don't get it, wikipedia is a vault of interconnected concepts and ideas, not a truth engine.

vague claims.. (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 5 years ago | (#28578941)

What is this alleged "martial arts weapon" that was supposed to be written about and can we get a link to the article state when it was given to him?

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