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The Curious Case of Increasing Misspelling Rates On Wikipedia

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the curiouser-adn-cuoriuesr dept.

Wikipedia 285

An anonymous reader writes "The crowd-sourced nature of Wikipedia might imply that its content should be more 'correct' than other sources. As the saying goes, the more eyes the better. One particular student who was curious about this conducted rudimentary text mining on a sampling of the Wikipedia corpus to discover how misspelling rates on Wikipedia change through time. The results appear to indicate an increasing rate of misspellings through time. The author proposes that this consistent increase is the result of Wikipedia contributors using more complex language, which the test is unable to cope with. How do the results of this test compare to your own observations on the detail accuracy of massively crowd-sourced applications?"

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285 comments

Spellink chekers. Duh! (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477428)

Every web browser as auto spell-check capabilities these days. Most of them correct as you type.
So why should there be any misspellings on something that is managed strictly from a web interface?

Is it part of the arrogance of those electing themselves to write and editing articles on wiki that they refuse to use a spell checker, or
is it that the words are simply unknown to the normal spell-check dictionaries?

I find occasional misspellings in mainstream news articles as well (and I am by no means a natural born speller).

But most maddening to me is the "they're their there" errors, and similar wrong word usage.
Spell checkers offer little help in catching these, but a 6th grade education usually suffices.

Maybe the same people who wont waist there time checking they're spelling also cant be bothered to use the write word. ;-)

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (3, Funny)

vawarayer (1035638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477484)

wat u talkin aboutte?

What's really curious (2)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477734)

Is not the increase in rates, and that crowdsourcing doesn't solve the problem, but that spell checkers don't solve the problem. What's up with that?

Re:What's really curious (4, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478120)

It might also be that there are specialist words being used on Wikipedia that aren't in the dictionary.. unless this test is explicitly looking for common misspellings..

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477522)

But most maddening to me is the "they're their there" errors, and similar wrong word usage.
Spell checkers offer little help in catching these, but a 6th grade education usually suffices.

Memo to all Brits & US Americans: English isn't you're language anymore, its now everybodies (second, third, eleventhirtieth) language. Get over it.

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477546)

No, it's our language when it comes to international communication. We don't own the varieties spoken in Australia, Guyana, India and whatever other regions use English, but if you want to be understood you really ought to be sticking fairly close to either British English or American English.

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (2)

__Paul__ (1570) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477600)

fwiw, written Australian English really isn't any different to British English.

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477654)

Except for the Labor party for some reason.

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (2)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478246)

It's a political statement. Omitting the u in labour is intended to show that they are just like the US versons of such groups. They represent labor (working hard), but they don't include "u".

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477696)

I wish the Canadians would make their mind up. Either American or British English - but not a screwy mix of the two. And as for date formats, don't get me started!

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (4, Funny)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477720)

I wish the Canadians would make their mind up. Either American or British English

...or French.

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (2)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477772)

Tabernac, eh? Get me a double double and tell me all about it. I'm sure we can get the Canadians to apologize for that.

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38478394)

Canadians don't use American English. If you're using American English, as a Canadian, it's because you're retarded, as are your parents and teachers.

No, it's basically American English (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38478546)

Canadians don't call the sidewalk "pavement" as British do. They don't call a cigarette a "fag".

Canadian English is closer to American English than to British English. It's mostly American English with British spellings.

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477700)

But written Australian English is different from North American English.

In N.A. things are similar TO each other or they are different FROM each other.

We would no more say Different TO than we would say Similar FROM. Just seems wrong to our ears.

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38478466)

except for bewdy mate

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477572)

They're They're your probably just making a mountain out of a mole hill, but it's a mute point.

But really. I'm going to side with complex language there are numerous technical words that aren't in any of my dictionaries. Especially when you get into latin based names and medical terms.

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477662)

That one particularly annoys me. It's MOOT dammit. As in Ent-Moot, if you will :)

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (2)

wjcofkc (964165) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477584)

Every web browser as auto spell-check capabilities these days. Most of them correct as you type. So why should there be any misspellings on something that is managed strictly from a web interface?

Is it part of the arrogance of those electing themselves to write and editing articles on wiki that they refuse to use a spell checker, or is it that the words are simply unknown to the normal spell-check dictionaries?

I find occasional misspellings in mainstream news articles as well (and I am by no means a natural born speller).

But most maddening to me is the "they're their there" errors, and similar wrong word usage. Spell checkers offer little help in catching these, but a 6th grade education usually suffices.

Maybe the same people who wont waist there time checking they're spelling also cant be bothered to use the write word. ;-)

HAI! U R A Cleaver 1! BAI!

Muphry's Law (5, Informative)

AnotherScratchMonkey (592037) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477738)

icebike is a victim of Muphry's Law [wikipedia.org].

Re:Muphry's Law (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478516)

Most of that had to be deliberate. I think that every single homophone in that entire last sentence was wrong. The "has" was an amusing typo. The "edit" versus "editing" thing was actually not wrong, though it was awkward. Reread it as "electing... or editing" instead.

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477896)

The problem is that spell-checkers aren't grammar-checkers. There hasn't been a decent grammar checker since the days of Grammatik. The ones out there now are, frankly, pathetic.

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478304)

Before that, I think the problem is that writing an article is easy/fun. Proofreading an article is boring/tedious. The idea of the crowd sourcing is that the crowd can correct the errors. But this only works if people are willing to help correct the errors. And people are notorious for not doing hard tedious work for nothing. So as Wikipedia grows from people doing the fun stuff, so do the errors. Too bad there isn't a big enough carrot to hold out in front of the people editing.

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (3, Funny)

S.O.B. (136083) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477928)

You missed:

Maybe the same people who wont waist there time checking they're spelling also cant be bothered to use the write word. ;-)

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477682)

You had me agreeing with you right up your last sentence. Please tell me you're being ironic:

Waist != waste
won't and can't have apostrophes
write != right

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477780)

Maybe the same people who wont waist there time checking they're spelling also cant be bothered to use the write word. ;-)

That made my head explode.

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477800)

Maybe regional differences are being reported as spelling errors. Desktop systems at my work use the French dictionary by default. Not much use to me.

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477942)

> Every web browser as auto spell-check

While a machine can check that the words are in the dictionary, a human still needs to make sure they are the right words. That is until Google perfect that thing they've been working on secretly in the basement...

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (1)

PsychoSlashDot (207849) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477998)

Every web browser as auto spell-check capabilities these days. So why should there be any misspellings on something that is managed strictly from a web interface?

Talent?

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (1)

NSN A392-99-964-5927 (1559367) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478024)

Every web browser as auto spell-check capabilities these days. Most of them correct as you type.

Auto-correction based on your language pack or your failure to completely comprehend the English language. You are American so you are excused.

Therefore I rest my case!

So why should there be any misspellings on something that is managed strictly from a web interface?

Is it part of the arrogance of those electing themselves to write and editing articles on wiki that they refuse to use a spell checker, or
is it that the words are simply unknown to the normal spell-check dictionaries?

I find occasional misspellings in mainstream news articles as well (and I am by no means a natural born speller).

But most maddening to me is the "they're their there" errors, and similar wrong word usage.
Spell checkers offer little help in catching these, but a 6th grade education usually suffices.

Maybe the same people who wont waist there time checking they're spelling also cant be bothered to use the write word. ;-)

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (2)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478028)

Is it part of the arrogance of those electing themselves to write and editing articles on wiki that they refuse to use a spell checker, or is it that the words are simply unknown to the normal spell-check dictionaries?

Maybe it's that aggressive as-you-type spell checkers seem to introduce more errors than they catch. Seriously. I've never seen one that doesn't try to replace rare but valid words with more common words that look vaguely similar (often just similar enough to be missed in proofreading) but have completely unrelated meanings. In general, as-you-type "correction" is an insult to anyone writing above a third-grade level.

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (2)

Yobgod Ababua (68687) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478112)

No, it's because spellcheckers are often WRONG.
They don't like foreign words, they don't like unusual words, they don't like domain-specific words; they don't like any words they haven't been programmed for.

Lately, when I write, I have to fight the spell-correction to make things properly correct more than it corrects me.

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38478312)

So why should there be any misspellings on something that is managed strictly from a web interface?

I haven’t used Internet Explorer for a while but I remember it not having spell checking on textboxes. Maybe this is the source of a lot of spelling mistakes?

But most maddening to me is the "they're their there" errors, and similar wrong word usage. Spell checkers offer little help in catching these, but a 6th grade education usually suffices.

I have found that Microsoft Word’s grammar checker is quite adept at catching these types of mistakes. I wonder why we have so many spell checkers but no grammar checkers. Is this due to patent issues or that checking grammar is difficult? I wouldn’t think so because checking grammar of lower level languages is a very mature field in computer science. I would love to see those green wiggles every time someone messes up their theirs with theres.

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478318)

Hmm. Firefox's dictionary needs some work. It has an addiction to adding hyphens to common non-hyphenated words, and has some serious difficulties with pluralized nouns.

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (1)

http (589131) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478478)

Not that anyone else does this, but one of the first changes I make in my browser settings is deactivating automatic spell checking. Call it a holdover from the days where leaving it on meant the top rate of entering text would be about one or two characters per second.
The performance difference is non-zero.

Re:Spellink chekers. Duh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38478494)

Maybe the same people who wont waist there time checking they're spelling also cant be bothered to use the write word. ;-)

"waste" u mean?

Many of the smart people have been driven away? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477480)

Whether it's open source software or online collaborative projects, the smart people always get driven away over the long term. Smarter people are usually more interested in creating high-quality content, whereas stupider people end up putting out crap purely for political reasons. Eventually these stupider people start trying to modify the work of the smarter people, but do a poor job at it. When they're called out on their shitty work by the smart people, the fools make a huge stink. This soon devolves into a political mess where the smarter contributor is severely inhibited from contributing by the constant moaning and bitching of the idiots. Not wanting to waste time with such shenanigans, the smarter person leaves for some other endeavor. After a while, many of the smarter people are driven away, and the end result is that the stupider people make up the bulk of the project's contributions.

We've seen this happen with many open source software projects, and I don't think that other kinds of online collaborative projects are any different.

Re:Many of the smart people have been driven away? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477562)

Yeah! Just like Linux.

Re:Many of the smart people have been driven away? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477688)

Yes, you're correct. As a long-time Linux and NetBSD user, I've seen many great developers driven away by the politics of contributing to Linux and other GPL'ed open source projects. Many of the core GNU projects, especially glibc, are rife with some of the pettiest political squabbles I've ever seen, and that's including many years working in corporate America (where petty squabbles are a way of life).

I don't know if the licensing influences the community, or if the community influences the licensing, but there's a pretty strong correlating between the best software developers just not succeeding when contributing to GPL'ed projects.

We actually see them do their best work when working on projects released under a far more liberal license like the BSD license, MIT license or zlib license. Some people claim that the politics are worse in the BSD world, but that just isn't the case in practice. Most projects released under the GPL actually have politics playing a much greater role. After all, that could be why the GPL is being used in the first place. It's far more of a let's-argue-over-philosophical-nonsense license, versus far more practical let's-write-some-high-quality-software licenses like the BSD and MIT licenses.

Re:Many of the smart people have been driven away? (2)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477576)

Says the guy that uses the word stupider.

Re:Many of the smart people have been driven away? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477822)

Excellent illustration!

Re:Many of the smart people have been driven away? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477904)

It's a perfectly correct comparative adjective.

Are you an American, by any chance? I've heard that you fellows have some problems comprehending proper English.

Re:Many of the smart people have been driven away? (4, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477882)

I can't say I've seen that on all articles on Wikipedia, but certainly I have seen it on some. I've seen articles dumbed down to suit the majority of the readers, rather than split and refined to allow the majority a summary and those wanting more information access to that. This certainly discourages those who are subject matter experts - what's the point in being an expert in something if all that's wanted is pub quiz grade?

However, I emphasize that this is NOT what I've seen for the majority of articles. Some articles have been abandoned (occasionally in mid-edit, from the looks of it), some are constantly being updated with updates in conflict with each other, yet others are updated and are of extraordinarily high quality. It runs the full gamut.

I would far prefer a layered approach, so that you could get access to whatever level of detail you wanted, but the contributors just aren't there to get that. It's a pity, and the net result is uneven quality, but Wikipedia is a case where it's better to have an imperfect something than a perfect nothing.

More articles, longer articles = more errors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477488)

I wonder if these folks have corrected for the fact that there is just more content out there than before, which means the people and systems checking for spelling have more to crawl through. If those people/systems time spent hasn't grown as fast, then the misspelling rate will rise...

Re:More articles, longer articles = more errors (1)

TheABomb (180342) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477830)

TFA measured "Average misspellings as percentage of sampled content", up from 0 in 2001 to over 6% now.

The bad drives out the good (4, Insightful)

timholman (71886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477568)

I can offer my own opinion of this phenomenon: the bad is driving out the good. Fewer competent writers are bothering to edit Wikipedia articles nowadays. Not only do contributions get reverted / deleted by editors who think they "own" the article, but good writers simply get tired of fixing the semi-literate ramblings of people who cannot write a coherent sentence.

It's the old axiom that incompetent people cannot recognize their own incompetence, and so do not realize that their "contributions" are not improving the article, but instead are making it worse. Eventually the good contributors get tired of sweeping back the ocean with a broom, and just walk away from Wikipedia.

Re:The bad drives out the good (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477636)

Exactly so. I have corrected malformed sentences several times on wikipedia, only to have my edit reverted for no apparent reason. I gave up. Why bother to try, if some self proclaimed "owner" of that page must bless every change and ends up insulted if someone points out incorrect grammar?

Incompetence drives out competence.

Re:The bad drives out the good (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477996)

He's correct, although it's not just Wikipedia where this phenomenon is taking place, much of the text submitted online appears to be of similar quality. While the assumption was that "crowdsourcing" the submissions to Wikipedia would help to ensure higher submission quality, the reality has been that the submissions have devolved to meet the lowest common denominator, which has been absolutely appalling.

Re:The bad drives out the good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38478258)

While I agree with "incompetent people cannot recognize their own incompetence", I disagree with your point in general. People can innately understand what is good writing and what is not good writing. Suppose I add an incoherent and messy piece of writing to Wikipedia and someone else tidies it up, even if I'm an incompetent writer, I can still see the improvement and appreciate the improvement. On the other hand, the only reason I would want to add something to a well written and presented Wikipedia article is if it's incomplete or has made an error or erroneous assumption. Your point that editors battle a tide of semi-literate ramblings hasn’t been my experience. Additions have usually error fixes or keen observations and even a semi-literate writer could be a genius in the topic he’s trying to contribute to.

On the other hand, I’ve found most Wikipedia articles to be one-dimensional. For an encyclopedia that could be updated by anyone, it seems just one person creates the article from his viewpoint and nobody else bothers to add the different facets to the topic.

Maybe it’s my neck of the Wikipedia that’s different but I wish people would contribute more and not be deterred by thinking that their contributions probably aren’t welcome and a burden on the editor.

Re:The bad drives out the good (1)

mapuche (41699) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478422)

"On the other hand, I’ve found most Wikipedia articles to be one-dimensional. For an encyclopedia that could be updated by anyone, it seems just one person creates the article from his viewpoint and nobody else bothers to add the different facets to the topic."

You're agreeing with parent. Articles are bidimensional because other facets are being deleted. I've started an article about shaders in Computer Graphics in general, then someone deleted the whole article to mention shaders in games only. Contributors don't always add,

Re:The bad drives out the good (2)

kyrio (1091003) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478518)

So, what are you disagreeing with? Are you saying that people don't claim articles as their own and they don't revert any new edits? That's what happens. It happens a lot. The circumcision article is a classic example of that happening.

Someone pro-mutilation comes in and edits the article how he wants it, to feel better about his situation, and reverts any edit made (edits that include citations) by opposing views. When someone decides to take it through the proper channels to expose the "owner" of the article, the owner brings in his e-friends to vote in his favour, regardless of how many citations/sources are provided, and the owner gets his way.

It's not like any of this is new. There are websites dedicated to this crap. There are multiple /. articles regarding this topic.

Worth Posting. (4, Insightful)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477594)

So slashdot has just posted an article about a test where even the test's AUTHOR believes the results are due to shortcomings in the test itself. This has to be the most pointless article I've read in a while...

Re:Worth Posting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477778)

You must have missed the article where the guy was asking for help making a reading list.

Now that wasn't much of an article, but still, it was far more pointless.

Re:Worth Posting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38478178)

"Pointless" implies this article has no purpose. That's false. The purpose of the article is to get advertising for some random kid's blog.

shut teh hell up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477616)

your a looser, so their!!!!

Um... (5, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477618)

The crowd-sourced nature of Wikipedia might imply that its content should be more 'correct' than other sources.

[citation needed]

Re:Um... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477846)

Brilliant, simply brilliant! It's clever how you used a typical wikipedia construct commenting on wikipedia-related article.

It's worse in the grammar department (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477624)

Here is a typical example:

Person A and B are on the ground floor of some building.
Person A would like person B to have some parcel delivered to the 7th floor of the building.

Here's how person A delivers the request:

"Buddy, please bring this parcel up to the seventh floor, thanks".

I posit that this grammar is wrong. He should say:

"Buddy, please take this parcel to the seventh floor, thanks", because they are in the same area and buddy B, by doing the needful, will be leaving that place.

Worse still, you even hear it in the main stream media.

Other cases:

Folks addressing "data" and "media" as singular! Again, wrong. They should be using "datum" and "medium".

Re:It's worse in the grammar department (1)

frisket (149522) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477892)

"please bring this parcel up to the seventh floor, thanks".

Except that in some forms of English, this is perfectly correct (Hiberno-English, for example).

"datum" and "medium"

That battle was lost many decades ago, if it even got fought.

Re:It's worse in the grammar department (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477936)

People who say "the data is" are treating "data" as a synonym for "information". They are usually referring to more than one piece of information, so "datum" would not be correct.

Re:It's worse in the grammar department (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478534)

Since english itself is a dynamic language, you can argue both are correct. Remember, that the grammatical rules between what's spoken and what's written are usually 110-150 year apart.

Eye don't no (1, Interesting)

istartedi (132515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477628)

Eye don't no how ewe can automate proof reading. You still knead a human in the loupe.

Re:Eye don't no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38478100)

Eye don't no how ewe can automate proof reading. You still knead a human in the loupe.

hou lse
iz da nu werld ordor gonna no iph da sayin ignorants iz strenth iz reel er nut
1984 iz a buk nut a mastar plan

Stop whining and fix-em (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477634)

Unless the article is locked, just fix the spelling errors yourself instead of whining about them getting worse.

Re:Stop whining and fix-em (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477852)

'fix Wikipedia'. Are you serious? By myself. I dont think so...

Re:Stop whining and fix-em (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38478204)

Many people are locked out from wikipedia due to network-wide ip address blocks. They literally CAN'T just fix the errors -- through no fault of their own, multitudes of potential impulse contributors have been forbidden from ever correcting wikipedia.

The ever growing number of articles... (3, Insightful)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477680)

... and the growth in size of many articles, combined with the limited number of Wikipedia editors, is one possible reason why spelling errors may be on the increase. Also, one form of vandalism is the intentional introduction of spelling errors.

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477756)

... this whole article is basically just asking us if we think the internet is misspelling things more often these days?

Not to mention the homonym fails (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477760)

It's quite likely there are also a lot of homonym failures, as aptly pointed out humorously in the other posts. Just because it passes through spell-check doesn't mean it's technically correct.

Then you also have a problem with technical words, Anglicization of foreign words (which don't even always follow normal English phonetic conventions - translation of Japanese words/names for instance), unique names, etc. that aren't included in most browser dictionaries. If you're not watching close enough, it's certain that auto-correct can easily make a mess of things.

Re:Not to mention the homonym fails (2)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477964)

which don't even always follow normal English phonetic conventions

Wait, English has normal phonetic conventions?

We're not all Americans, you know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477848)

So, I wonder if this text mining exercise took into account the fact that, although all contributors (to the English version of Wikipedia) are, in fact, typing their articles in English - spelling can vary throughout the world. For example - a spelling of "defence" is not "wrong" - it is just the way a Brit, Aussie, Kiwi etc would spell what Americans call "defense". Same goes with colour/color, centre/center, organise/organize etc etc etc. If you include the many instances of these sorts of words across thousands of wikipedia articles, you're going to skew your results...

Smart phones and txt messaging. (1)

stevenfuzz (2510476) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477850)

Welcome to the future, where text input has become minimalized and marginalized. When half the dictionary has become standardized to 3 letter abbreviations, I don't find it the least bit surprising that spelling and grammar have gone out the window. Maybe this isn't some new symptom of aa illiterate world, but rather the written English word evolving in front of our eyes; the technological revolution.

I'm a technical writer and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38477876)

...I shall never be out of work.

Literacy (1)

frisket (149522) | more than 2 years ago | (#38477912)

I would guess that this is nothing to do with spellcheckers (which are useful for catching typos, but fairly useless for catching mis-spellings). As this was observed over time, might it not be possible that the decreasing level of literacy may be being exposed by a decrease in the average age of the contributors?

Re:Literacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38478026)

Or perhaps an increase in the English-as-a-second-language nature of the third world joining the Internet Age?

I would put some of it on age (2)

Bork (115412) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478084)

I think some the issue here is that a new generation is showing up with poor literacy skills. The primary schools are under pressure to meet their government mandated competency requirements, budget cuts, and various other issues, and have cut back on some of the basic skills that were once taught.

I work at a tutoring center / assistance center at a college and it is depressing what students are coming out of high school in their basic literacy skills. Writing skills are non-existing, were some of them do not even know how to hold a pencil correctly and unless there is a computer with a spell checker, their spelling is limited to about the 4th grade level.

I have been seeing this for several years now and these are the people that are replacing the older generation of people who did not have computers as evasive as it is now.

 

shrinking use of Firefox,editing blocks and revert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38478086)

I personally, think that the biggest problem, as a random contributor, is the hostile attacking attitude that wikipedia has for outside contributors. Far too often, I've seen my edits reverted, or, worse, completely blocked due to huge random network-wide ip address blocks (thanks, Alison, you f#$$#% b$^%$). I don't bother editing articles anymore -- and if I do manage to luckily slip past one of the huge ip network blocks, I expect that my contributions will be destroyed in some political fight, so I might just comment on the discussion page, if I really feel strongly about it.

I use wikipedia on a daily basis, but due to the hostile attitude and blatant biases, I don't trust it, and I've mostly given up on it. It's become just another website for me -- there are other, more specialized websites out there -- which sometimes have higher quality information.

Another possible reason for more errors, aside from nobody giving a damn about wikipedia anymore, is that Firefox, with its built in spell checker, is declining in use, in favor of Chrome. Chrome doesn't max out the cpu and destroy batteries like Firefox -- but it also doesn't have a built in spellchecker.

ta3o (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38478202)

To avoid so as to cuntwipes Jordan conglomerate in 7he Prima donnas to

it's not just wikipedia.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38478282)

I've noticed many more spelling errors in online news articles recently. I'm not talking about blogs, but actual news publications, including AP articles. Most of the errors are the type where a word is spelled correctly, but it's obviously the wrong word, and an automated spell checker wouldn't catch it. Ex: "It was am important step..."

IRC tutorial page full of errors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38478320)

Before yesterday it had referred to a web-based chat called cg:irg for a year.

Lol (4, Funny)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478384)

It's sad. Through all this web content, I am slowly unlearning how to spell or use proper grammar.

English teachers / professors (with a few exceptions) used to be my arch-enemies (as a math / science person) and wished them all a pleasant, if sudden, death for their batshit-insane insistence on making mountains out of molehills (i before e, except after c; can't end a sentence with a preposition; this {subject}) with regards to the language, and yet lately I finding myself wishing there were more of them.

It's not fair: I've nursed some of those grudges for years!

Higher Availability (1)

Bensam123 (1340765) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478402)

I believe this is due to Wikipedia becomnig more diverse. As more people learn about Wikipedia, the more people contribute to it. It's overall becoming more accessible to everyone and therefore everyone is putting their two cents. Where as in the beginning you could argue that the population was more centered around a niche crowd who are more pedantic then those that just wish to contribute in some form.

Britannica is one factor (1)

brusk (135896) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478404)

Surely one factor is that early in its history much of the content on Wikipedia was copied from a public domain edition (1911?) of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, in which one would expect to find very few spelling errors. Over time more and more of the content is user-generated, so naturally it is more likely to contain typos.

This is an artifact to his experiment (2)

m00sh (2538182) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478460)

The increase in the percentage of spelling errors is an artifact of his experimental procedure. He randomly takes a Wikipedia article instead of analyzing the most popular ones. As Wikipedia has become larger, it has attracted more fringe topics, probably from authors in different countries in the world where English is not their first language. Wikipedia now probably has more articles that aren’t viewed and revised as much. Thus, randomly sampling has now higher chances of selecting such articles and thus, higher spelling mistakes.

He should change his experiment so that he analyzes the spelling mistakes on the most accessed and modified pages in Wikipedia or discard articles where the activity on the article is below a certain threshold.

Grammar editors like me got scared off Wikipedia (3, Informative)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478472)

After the last time I tried to clean up some grammar and spelling in an article and it was immediately reverted with "didn't cite sources" I gave up.

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