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Nitpicking Wikipedia's Vulnerabilities

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the trust-no-one dept.

Education 545

tiltowait writes "A lot of Wikipedia critics point to hypothetical situations when giving reasons for not valuing the site. Wikipedia even has a 'Replies to common objections' article set up to field these. I'd rather look at some real examples of applying the same level of scrutiny to materials often held up as the Platonic ideal of 'scholarship,' such as peer-reviewed journals, conference papers, established journalism sources, monographs, and print encyclopedias. Even these have disclaimers because they can be can be vandalized or have their reliability and accuracy questioned. As dangerous as it is to trust unverified information, it can be just as bad to make prior judgments discounting information because the source happens to be anonymous. The above examples illustrate that all materials existing along a continuum of valuable information formats. Wikipedia articles can be useful for quickly obtaining factual overviews or as a starting point to further research. But that's just one librarian's opinion. How do tech-savvy people view Wikipedia?"

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Editorial control (4, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736215)

The problem that I have had with Wikipedia is that in editing articles on which I am a recognized expert, I have had my edits and entries entirely removed by others who "feel" that these edits were somehow inappropriate, even when I referenced those entries along with results from peer reviewed journals. So, while allowing everybody to edit, there is no weighting system in place for those individuals who may, in fact, know more about a particular subject matter than others who exert their biased or uneducated editorial control.

Now, all of that said, I do really appreciate Wikipedia as like the poster stated is a good starting out point for research into a particular topic.

Re:Editorial control (5, Funny)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736289)

"The problem that I have had with Wikipedia is that in editing articles on which I am a recognized expert, I have had my edits and entries entirely removed by others who "feel" that these edits were somehow inappropriate, even when I referenced those entries along with results from peer reviewed journals."

Wow! That sounds just like another website I frequently visit!

Re:Editorial control (4, Interesting)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736293)

This is what Larry Sanger said in his last K5 article about Wikipedia. Larry made the argument that even though he has a PhD in philosophy his articles could be corrected by a six year old. Personally, I think that if your beliefs can't stand up to the curiosity of a six year old then that says something in and of itself.

Re:Editorial control (3, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736321)

Really though, I think if Wikipedia had "certified" users who could somehow prove they had acceptable degrees in certain areas and whose changes could not be undone by regular users in articles pertaining to those areas, it would do a lot. I've certainly heard stories of knowledgeable people being overwritten by college freshmen who thought they knew what they were talking about.

Re:Editorial control (5, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736445)

The only thing is, who certifies? Who decides who's smart enough to be an authority, and who isn't? I've known professors who should have their work overwritten by college freshmen. Do we want those professors censoring smart people because they disagree?

I do rather like the idea of having some sort of editorial process to the wikipedia. Whenever this issue of "trustworthiness" has come up, I've always had the same hesitating suggestion: branch the wikipedia so that there's something like a "stable branch". Keep the wikipedia as it is, but it'd be nice if there were some kind of designated "editors" that could integrate the changes better, make sure the work is coherent, correct, etc. and put out the edited version as the "stable" version which would lag a bit behind from the "unstable".

Of course, such a thing would be a logistical nightmare, and it's damn near impossible. However, I think it would be appreciated by a lot of people if some editorial process could be worked in somehow.

Re:Editorial control (1)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736322)

I'm pretty sure his point was that they could be scribbled over by a six year old with no idea what he's doing. From looking at the histories of various Wikipedia articles, this happens on a regular basis.

Wiki isn't the ultimate answer. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13736343)

You are absolutely right. Probably, there should be some kind of quality control mechanism. Having the edit history available would be a start. Maybe having some kind of karma points for given subjects would help. The trouble is that any 'better' solution might quickly become unwieldy. Anyway, I think you are safe from having your articles on Sophocles edited by a six year old, if you get my drift.

Having said the above, Wiki has the enormous advantage that people can fight back against misinfomation. No matter what you think about his politics, Noam Chomsky has demonstrated many times that the 'trustworthy' mainstream media has misstated the truth and then refused to retract when they were caught. At least on Wiki, the truth stands a fighting chance.

Re:Wiki isn't the ultimate answer. (1)

Peyna (14792) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736381)

Wiki has the enormous advantage that people can fight back against misinfomation.

Based on my own semi-experimental participation over the past few months, I'd say that in many cases misinformation wins out. Or at least, it will until the misinformed give up and go home.

Contentious articles on Wikipedia get the most attention, but because of that they get filled with the most crap.

Boring articles on Wikipedia don't get any attention, so they're full of errors and desperately in need of help.

There's also probably a million articles in between there, but you get the idea.

Re:Editorial control (2, Informative)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736375)

"The problem that I have had with Wikipedia is that in editing articles on which I am a recognized expert, I have had my edits and entries entirely removed by others who "feel" that these edits were somehow inappropriate, even when I referenced those entries along with results from peer reviewed journals."

All you have to do to fix this problem is take the problem to the discussion page, or the talk page of the user who keeps reverting you. Simple enough. If they persist, get an administrator to help.

Except that... (2, Insightful)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736426)

All you have to do to fix this problem is take the problem to the discussion page, or the talk page of the user who keeps reverting you. Simple enough. If they persist, get an administrator to help. Except that you have to do it forever, for a neverending sequence of random clueless lusers.

Re:Editorial control (1)

Capt'n Hector (650760) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736383)

Are you suggesting that Wikipedia censor the "uneducated" and "biased"? I hate to break it to you, but as much as you might wish it were untrue, you too are biased. As for uneducated, that term is relative. If you are not the absolute world's expert on your topic, you are in comparison uneducated to whoever occupies that position. The whole "one person, one vote" mentality is the bedrock of democracy, that each voice deserves to be heard, regardless of status (white, black, male, female, land-owners or otherwise, educated or illiterate.) That's what makes Wikipedia so great, it lets anyone edit. It's democracy at its best.

Re:Editorial control (5, Insightful)

Yahweh Doesn't Exist (906833) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736425)

nice speech, but the truth is not democratically accountable.

MOD PARENT UP (0, Offtopic)

Shimmer (3036) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736441)

[Obligatory comment]

Encyclopedia != Community (3, Insightful)

cribcage (205308) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736427)

Wikipedia isn't an encyclopedia. It's a community. Don't confuse the two.

Your contributions were probably questioned for two reasons. First, because Wikipedia is governed by a policy called NPOV, or Neutral Point Of View, which is interpreted to mean that an encyclopedia must reflect all perspectives on any subject. There can be no "absolute right" or "absolute wrong." According to NPOV, your opinion just that. Expertise does not exist. All sides must be represented, no matter how loony.

Second, you probably weren't taken seriously because you didn't contribute hundreds of edits over the course of a week. Wikipedia is dominated, literally, by those users who spend the most time editing. This, ultimately, is Wikipedia's greatest flaw: Its users are more interested in participating in a community than in building an encyclopedia. They call themselves "Wikipedians," and they stage meet-ups. Their reasons for participating are primarily social.

The result is a project governed by losers. Sorry, but it's the truth: The people with the most free time to dedicate to an online encyclopedia will always be the people least-qualified to contribute, because those who are qualified spend their time earning and practicing those qualifications in the real world. If the project were coordinated somehow, maybe shared between several universities with each department contributing according to its own specialization...maybe it could work. But Wikipedia is doomed to mediocrity, simply because it's populated by nutjobs with no social skills who drive away qualified contributors who threaten their pretend authority.

Knowledge is not democratic -- and expertise necessarily erodes equality. You cannot build a worthwhile encyclopedia based on the premise that everyone's contributions will be valuable.

Re:Editorial control (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13736444)

While your anecdotal and individual experience is certainly true, no other medium that I know actually allows a researcher to review the entire history that lead to the current revision of knowledge (or lack thereof) on a particular topic. You simply cannot get this in other mediums (so far as I am aware). Care to inform me differently? Much like Wikipedia, your opinion would be duly considered. And if you and others found such a point significant it would become material. Otherwise, a flash in the pan. This pan is very effective over time. Others, and you cannot counter-prove this, take much much longer.

Why are the powers that be so fucking scared of Wikipedia? Truth. Real, honest to God (reality), truth.

How do tech-savvy people view Wikipedia?" (5, Funny)

zegebbers (751020) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736217)

With firefox.

Re:How do tech-savvy people view Wikipedia?" (0, Flamebait)

vettemph (540399) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736318)

Ok, what cockbag didn't mark that funny?

Re:How do tech-savvy people view Wikipedia?" (1)

zegebbers (751020) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736418)

Yeah, somebody marked me redundant which wasn't good for my karma ;(

Nailing theses to the library door (5, Interesting)

tiltowait (306189) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736218)

I'm probably in the minority, being a librarian a with a good opinion of Wikipedia. Many (mostly older) librarians, for example, relish their roles as gatekeepers to information. I suppose it comes from the old warden-style approach to protecting books, or some sort of warped view of taking "information is power" as a need to hoard and protect its distribution.

There is this sometimes misguided need to teach "information literacy," with exaggerated assumptions about "kids believing everything they read online." Recent library conferences have covered this alongside how students learn and use technology -- often with the same sort of bemused condescension that 19th century anthropologists exhibited toward alien cultures. It's unnerving. But teaching others to evaluate information themselves, rather than thinking it's our job to do it for them, is on the right track. History as shown a path towards direct and open access to information, and I see wiki publishing as a direct extension of this trend.

Librarians, in general, seem stuck on the "omg you can vandalize Wikipedia so it's worthless" argument. Jimbo even got asked, at the last ALA conference, essentially, "What's to stop me from distrupting information in Wikipedia?," by a librarian. And this is the profession so disturbed by book bannings? I just don't see libraries staying relevant if we don't acknowledge the value of blogs, wikis, and other new information formats (and we're not [slashdot.org] quite [indiana.edu] there [webjunction.org] yet).

Of course, those story links are nitpicks themselves. Library stuff (if it exists on your topic) is of better quality than what you'll find via Google. As for Wikipedia, content zealots -- both snobs [wikimedia.org] and censors [wikipedia.org] -- threaten the open encyclopedia's mission at least as much as the cranks. But there's no need to exaggerate the problems of Wikipedia. Sure, it can get messy, but the benefits far outweigh the costs.

As another frontiersman was warned, "If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid."

So anyway, all of these comments are a bit of a hyperbolism. As a piece on peak libraries [liswiki.com] I started shows (oh yeah, that's a library science Wiki btw), I'm something of a provocateur at times. It's just that, after spending my early career trying to educate everyone that librarians are "with it" [slashdot.org] , I've discovered that there's just as much of a need to convince librarians to get with the times.

Re:Nailing theses to the library door (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13736275)

Speaking as a library science student, (in process of getting MLIS to become a ALA certified librarian), Wikipedia is great. However, I'd never use it as a direct source, not because of vulnerabilities but because it can fall prey to differencing opinions especially on political matters. (For example, the South Korean (ROK) dispute with Japan over some islands, where the neutrality of the wiki has been argued)

It's a great idea, and I love using it to educate myself. But as a future librarian, you've got to question the reliability and accuracy of all sources.

I love the piece on peak libraries you started as I think it's ridiculous that libraries would ever disappear in our lifetimes. A quick look at ALA's quotable facts and top 10 reasons the internet is no substitute for libraries, one can easily forget the obsurd theories that libraries are dying.

Re:Nailing theses to the library door (1)

Peyna (14792) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736359)

threaten the open encyclopedia's mission at least as much as the cranks

What exactly is Wikipedia's mission? It isn't to write down every possible thing there is to be known. It's only supposed to contain information of encyclopedic value. Therefore, an article about yours truly, does not belong there.

So what's wrong with "deletionists"? There's a whole lot of stuff on Wikipedia that probably doesn't belong there at all, but it's easier to add stuff than to delete it.

convenient (1)

Maskirovka (255712) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736220)

How do tech-savvy people view Wikipedia?

Its convenient.

It's not about the encyclopedia (3, Insightful)

fishdan (569872) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736221)

For me the best thing about wikipedia is the concept behind it. A collaboration of people, working to increase the sum of human knowledge, because the sum of accumulated knowledge is something that is greater than its parts. Everyone working together to maintain this knowledge for the betterment of all. Is that an idealistic view? Of course. But what's wrong with idealism and striving for it? Wikipedia is more that just an encyclopedia -- though it's very good at that. It's a hope that we actually can all work together on something -- something that embiggens [wikipedia.org] us all.

Re:It's not about the encyclopedia (1)

thhamm (764787) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736346)

A collaboration of people, working to increase the sum of human knowledge, because the sum of accumulated knowledge is something that is greater than its parts.

*if* the reader can extract the true information out of it.

i don't think it's greater than the sum of all of it, more like, in this case, a blend of opinions, beliefs and hearsay.

it doesn't give you the true insight into a specific topic, like a real expert would have, but again it's not as useless as mainstream media. but one can always ask the question: is the expert's truth more 'true' than the layman's?

for getting started on a topic, it's great. for going deeper, it's not. and i just read an article, where personal beliefs and opinions clearly influenced the article. which is sad, well at least i think it is.

bah, i'm writing gibberisch, sorry. :)

Not knowledge (2, Insightful)

NineNine (235196) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736413)

It's tough to increase the sum of knowledge when you're building on questionable facts. There are many, many everyday scientific myths that are widespread. Wikipedia is controlled by quantity, not quality.
 
    What's to say that these myths don't become "facts" in Wikipedia due to sheer numbers? Is that increasing the sum of human knowledge? If anything, it's damaging it, because everybody who reads thsi "fact" will assume that it's true.
 
Wikipedia is the opposite of knowledge: it's based on majority rule. Wikipedia in 1805 would have described the "wonders of the African Ape-Man and his Ability to Pick Cotton." After all, the majority believed that it was true.

More time wasting (5, Funny)

subx2000 (267150) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736225)

I view it as a great way to waste time at work, mostly.

Not so great, really. (1)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736460)

I know lots of stuff about reality. Been there, done that. I can't seem to get out of it.

So wikipedia isn't as much fun as I'd like. Better to see a new, enhanced version of reality - where the facts have been changed to make the story more interesting.

Thats why I like the uncyclopedia. [uncyclopedia.org]

I use it all the time (1)

TheCarlMau (850437) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736226)

I use Wikipedia all the time when I just need to look up minor facts about historical events. I however review the history of what fact I am working off to make sure that some 5 year old (don't take this as a stereotype) didn't change it to complete BS. The benefit is fast access to information.

Wikipedia rocks, BUT... (4, Insightful)

BandwidthHog (257320) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736231)

I just had a similar discussion with my girlfriend this past weekend. She found some valuable information on Wikipedia for a paper she’s writing on Chinese culture. I told her she should use that as a springboard: that Wikipedia could provide her the facts and details she needs, and that she should then find independent citable sources for each individual facts. I told her that I was sure it couldn’t be cited because the information there is simply too fluid and couldn’t be counted on to remain unchanged over time. She checked with her professor who wasn’t terribly familiar with the details, but had at least heard of it. He looked into the matter and told her that it was perfectly acceptable as long as the citations were up to MLA standards. I told her that her professor would turn out to be wrong in the long run (yeah, modesty is part of my charm, why do you ask?).

So I guess I agree with the story submittor (askor?) that Wikipedia rocks, but that their model simply doesn’t lend itself the the level of credibility needed for that sort of use. It’s great, and in many ways a more valuable resource than Google, and one hell of a social experiment. But at the end of the day, you simply don’t know if any given fact was contributed by a Princeton research librarian or Karl Rove.

Wait for them to come around (1)

ihatewinXP (638000) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736312)

When I tell my friends about wikipedia these days I fell like I did during the hotbot, scour net and google early days:

Me: "Dude there is this whole repository of information at your fingertips totally changing the way we think and collaborate! Just google something factual and add "wiki" at the beginning of the string at your there."

Them: "Uhhmmm, a wiki-what?"

Only to be followed by them explaining wikipedia (google-hotbot, scour-napster, ) bacl to me a year or so later. Despite its flaws the wiki is a truly amazing tool.

Nothing is perfect - wikipedia is useful. Therefore it is good (enough for me).

Dr.O

Re:Wikipedia rocks, BUT... (5, Informative)

qbwiz (87077) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736323)

sure it couldn't be cited because the information there is simply too fluid and couldn't be counted on to remain unchanged over time.

If you're allowed to cite any other web page, why can't you cite a Wikipedia article. As long as you put the date you accessed it in the citation, what information was on the page is even less ambiguous than the webpage.

Re:Wikipedia rocks, BUT... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13736351)

Every revision of an article on Wikipedia is saved and can be accessed with a unique URL, perfect for putting in citations. All you have to do is use the "Permanent link" link on the left-hand side of the article revision you want to cite and the information cited will be unchanged for as long as Wikipedia exists.

Re:Wikipedia rocks, BUT... (1)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736340)

As far as being unchanged goes, the old revisions of articles are available on Wikipedia. When citing it, you should be giving the date that it was retrieved, or possibly even the URL to the particular revision you are quoting. (I don't know if those URLs are stable or not.)

However, I do think you were perfectly right that she shouldn't be using Wikipedia as her sole source of any information -- finding the original source of the information is a much better idea.

Re:Wikipedia rocks, BUT... (2, Interesting)

not_sleepy (887090) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736350)

This made me think about the teachers I have had through out my life. How some, if not all, taught, preached and educated to their beliefs and schooling - not to what actually may be. History itself is a perverted view of what happened through the eyes of the winners/educated/tyrants.

I am fortunate enough to work with a myrid of individuals from around the world. We often discuss world events to see how each other view the topic at hand. It's amazing how different we view the same events. Maybe someday I'll learn enough french to compare a British history book to a frecn one- that should be a kick!

Re:Wikipedia rocks, BUT... (1)

Anne Honime (828246) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736417)

Maybe someday I'll learn enough french to compare a British history book to a french one- that should be a kick!

Well, they tend to be pretty similar, except for this typical Brit' habit of naming their train stations after defeats instead of victories as we do.

Re:Wikipedia rocks, BUT... (1)

teslatug (543527) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736376)

You can cite Wikipedia, it just doesn't make a very good source for factual information at any single point in time for a single article. Just be sure to at least use the permanent link to be somewhat sure that what you're citing is what someone else will probably read.

Re:Wikipedia rocks, BUT... (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736395)

So I guess I agree with the story submittor (askor?) that Wikipedia rocks, but that their model simply doesn't lend itself the the level of credibility needed for that sort of use.

When doing research for any purpose that matters, you should always be aware of your source. I don't care if it was written by the world's foremost expert on the topic, you should still be aware of the source being a fallible human being who may have his own slant/ideologies that he's catering to. We can all be wrong.

I'm not saying there's no point in listening to experts or that one source is as good as another, but always know what your source is. If possible, know your source's shortcomings and strengths. Factor all that in as best you can, and cite your sources. That's the best we can do.

So the question is, I suppose, where on the range of "trustworthiness" does the wikipedia stand, ranging between "the world's foremost expert who you're sure is being impartial" and "a retarded 2 month old monkey"? Personally, I rate it somewhere around "a friend you know, who tends to be pretty smart and on top of things," or "a stranger who seems to know what he's talking about". By that, I mean it's a good place to begin to learn about something, but just be aware that, before you run off to do something important with that information, you're just a bit better off than "source unknown".

Re:Wikipedia rocks, BUT... (1)

gfody (514448) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736437)

And what makes a princeton research librarian more credible than a karl rove? Either can have an agenda.. Karl Rove's could be political, a princeton-research-librarian's could be personal.

How do you straighten agenda-bent facts? Peer review falls short when your peers share the same agenda.

People are just going to have to learn that credibility can never be taken for granted. You need to know the author's biases, possible conflicts of interest and ulterior motives. Usually you can infer what these are by reading more from the same author. Being able to quickly access other contributions made by the contributor of interest is one thing wikipedia could make very practical.

Good and bad (1)

the-amazing-blob (917722) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736232)

I think that it can be useful if you want info that you might not find elsewhere. I actually used it to look up stuff about slashdot subculture and related stuff. Quite informative. I just don't use it for school-related things, since it can't be trusted in that way. Any of my teachers that know about it say we are not allowed to even look at the site for projects. Still good for reading stuff when bored, whether or not it's accurate.

That's the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13736235)

People need to realize the basis of Wikipedia. It may be fact checked all the time, but if you access the wrong information during the short time it's on there, then you lose.

Re:That's the point (1)

Eideewt (603267) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736356)

You could also find wrong information in a traditional encyclopedia or another book during the extremely long period of time in which it's there. The bottom line is that you should never use only one source for anything non-trivial or you're asking to get bitten in the ass.

And in important news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13736241)

The Library of Congress is soliciting feedback [cryptome.org] on the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions again. Without doubt, they have heard it all before, [theinquirer.net] but with this particular piece of legislation, the complaints bear repeating. Since that time, the DMCA anti-circumvention clauses have been used against manufacturers of of printer cartridges [com.com] and garage door openers, [wired.com] against owners of robot dogs [slashdot.org] and to stifle competition in the mobile phone service [slashdot.org] market just to name a few. You have until December 1, 2005 to submit your written comments, so hop to it.

i know! (3, Interesting)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736244)

Questions: erigol asks: Have you considered setting up a slashdot Wiki, since Wiki's are, like, the rage, and stuff.
CmdrTaco: Wiki is silly. Not scalalble.
hemos: Wiki's make me want to guage my eyes out. gouge, even.
CmdrTaco: They're fun for small groups.
hemos: No, I like the idea.
CmdrTaco: Slashdot is for millions.
hemos: And yeah, for smaller groups is great. But we spent the 3 years scaling up to this level of users
CmdrTaco: Thats the thing that people don't understand-
hemos: and I'd hate to do the same thing over again with a different technology.
CmdrTaco: the rules are different when you have 5,000 users vs 350,000 each day. What works @5,000 is ludicrous at 350,000. You don't lock your doors in a town with a population of 5,000... but at a quartermilllion people, thats just stupid :)

So there you have it, from the same horses mouth that told us that the iPod is lame.

Wiki is great and all ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13736245)

but how do you take a resource seriously when the article for Robocop [wikipedia.org] has more depth than an article for George Washington Carver [wikipedia.org]

Re:Wiki is great and all ... (2, Insightful)

jericho4.0 (565125) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736313)

I didn't know who Carver was, although maybe a USian could be expected to. I certainly know who Robocop is, having seen the movie as a child, and countless spoofs, satires, and other cultural references to it over the years.

Re:Wiki is great and all ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13736438)

If you are specifically looking for in formation on GWC, then Wikipedia might not fit your needs. That does not mean other information on Wikipedia is not a good resource for other information. Someone knowledgable in a specific area can add to or update a topic and make that topic a very good resource. The knowledge of that person in that topic has nothing to do with the lack of topic information in another topic.
I can see why you posted AC. Funny thing is that you actually went through the trouble to find links to try to connect two completely different topics and relate them into a collective opinion is strange.

Why does the Wikipedia suck? (-1, Flamebait)

Nimduin (774592) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736255)

Because the mods are elitist pinhead fucktards. It's that simple.

Re:Why does the Wikipedia suck? (1)

ral315 (741081) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736286)

If you knew Wikipedia at all, you'd know that they're called admins, not mods. Nowhere on Wikipedia are there "moderators".

Personally, I consider myself proud to be one of the many "elitist pinhead fucktards", as you so eloquently called them. And most people who have negative views of the administrators have either been blocked for trolling (which I suspect, given the obvious troll comments you made above), or are still pissed that the vanity articles about themselves were deleted.

It is still better than nothing (2, Interesting)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736260)

Yeah, it can be vandalized. So can an ordinary dictionary, or encyclopedia. Some page could be ripped out, or an editor could have inserted a joke or mistake. The only difference, is that everyone believes everything they read on the Internet, so it's more dangerous for an online resource to contain misinformation.

Yeah, I'm kidding just a little.

Internet (1)

feveron (213779) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736261)

Couldn't some of the same arguments about anonymous information be said about the Internet as a whole?

Re:Internet (1)

Infernal Device (865066) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736304)

Couldn't some of the same arguments about anonymous information be said about the Internet as a whole?

Absolutely - a good rule-of-thumb when using the internet is: "don't believe everything you read". It's best to have multiple sources for any sort of information, preferably those with some sort of documentation to back up their claims.

Which is the major problem I see with Wikipedia: little or no sourcing of claims. Submitters are not required to prove their bona fides to submit or edit information in Wikipedia and not much of an attempt at attribution of claims.

Experts. (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736264)

I have the view that whenever someone comes out with an article about Wikipedia, someone will post to Slashdot complaining that the evil biased Wikipedia editors and administrators have prevented them from inserting their latest crackpot theory. Oh, but they cry, I'm an expert in my field!!! Such mean evil administrators. You can't trust any of them. Regular cabal.

IMO (2, Interesting)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736265)

> How do tech-savvy people view Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is a wonderful resource for pop culture - you can find anything you want to know about bands, movies, books, etc.

It's also good for a quick reference when you run across a term you're not familiar with.

The problem is the way the articles are polluted by true believers. Proponents of a religion, nationalism, and other ideology are really bad about modifying articles to be Politically Correct from their ideological POV. They're also really bad about finding an excuse to mention their views in all kinds of articles where their views wouldn't be relevant even if given a balanced treatment.

I still use it a lot, but I rarely contribute anything anymore. I've good better things to do than clean up behind True Believers and other kooks.

Wikipedia is a great resource (3, Insightful)

totallygeek (263191) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736266)

Regarding the things of which I have intimate knowledge, I have seen as many errors per page in Wikipedia as Newsweek, Encyclopedia Brittanica, National Geographic, IMDB, textbooks, etc. Information is only as good as its source. A writer gathers information, an editor picks over it, it is passed before panel reviews, and is published as true. At least with Wikipedia the editing process can pass before more people, and any one of them can do something to affect the publishing. If the informed decision is based on misinformation or misunderstanding, the outcome is a compounded error, and now is stamped with more credibility than the original articles.


I use Wikipedia quite often, but I usually perform some secondary research.



Vandalism (1)

Willy on Wheels (889645) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736269)

Yes Wikipedia gets a lot of vandalism. Many features of Wikipedia can be abused. I abused the move function of pages which got me blocked pretty quickly. I have countless imitators of my vandalism. They even implemented a page move restriction and move log to counter page move antics.

Wikipedia - the Hive Mind (2, Interesting)

One Div Zero (851169) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736272)

Wikipedia and other online collaborative sites allow us to quickly access and learn a bit on almost any subject. We also share our own personal knowledge freely, through it.

So what is it called when I can learn anything you know, and you can learn anything we all know collectively?

I think that's called a Hive Mind. It's not as fast or built-in and wireless as we imagined, but it still serves the same purpose.

Haven't used it (1)

CsiDano (807071) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736274)

but I suppose like any research I wouldn't use it exclusively. It's probably not a good idea to rely on a singular resource anyway. I'm not really sure why I don't use it, it's out there, it's popular and I'm sure it's easy to use I've just never felt any particular draw to it.

I use it as a starting point (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736278)

I use Google and Wikipedia as starting points for research. Frequently they are also ending points, such as when I want to look up something that's very unlikely to be incorrect, such as Abraham Lincoln's Birthday.

Beyond that, I use other reference material, other search engines, and the history of wikipedia pages.

The bottom line:
I start with easy sources and stop when I get what I think is accurate and complete-enough-for-the-task-at-hand information.

Oh, and to agree with someone above, I view Wikipedia with Firefox too. :)

"How do tech-savvy people view Wikipedia?" (1)

TooMuchEspressoGuy (763203) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736279)

Well, first we take this craaaazy thing called a "computer", and hook it up to a little bubbly thing called a "monitor," and also through a little, tiny, thin wire to a *third thing* called "the Intarweb."

After that we open up our "Intarweb Browser" and...

...wait, this *is* what tiltowait is asking for, isn't it?

A better statement would have been... (4, Informative)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736285)

As dangerous as it is to trust unverified information, it can be even more dangerous to trust information which has been "verified" by "experts" (especially if it's information from your 1966 set of EB's)

Sure, Wikipedia probably contains more errors than EB, but it also contains many more articles. It would be interesting to know how these ratios compare.

Re:A better statement would have been... (2, Interesting)

JPriest (547211) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736431)

....and having more up to date information on a specific topic is not a feature that should just be overlooked.

like a regular encyclopedia... (4, Insightful)

Chalex (71702) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736291)

I view it as an excellent starting place to get some information. If I have a basic question, it'll probably be answered by the Wikipedia article. If it's a more advanced question, the article should point me to more in-depth references.

So remember, if you're adding information, try to cite a source!

another old dead guy (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736297)

the Platonic ideal of 'scholarship'

Oh really? When was the last time Plato got published in a peer-reviewed journal?

"How do tech-savvy people view Wikipedia?" (2, Funny)

Just-some-person (878949) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736301)

Wikipedia's the second best source of information there is (the first is The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy, of course).

I tend to be pleasantly surprised. (4, Interesting)

Quinn_Inuit (760445) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736307)

When I look something up in Wikipedia, I generally approach it with the assumption that I'm going to get a short, moderately informative, and probably at least somewhat mistaken article. Instead, I almost always find a well-researched and in-depth piece on whatever trivia I was looking up. It's not perfect, but I generally learn a great deal.

Yeah, I know I should stop assuming that I'm not going to get much, but I have that assumption with everything I look up online. It's just that Wikipedia gives me more pleasant surprises than most other sources.

Wikipedia Categories (4, Informative)

br00tus (528477) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736308)

Having been on Wikipedia for a long time, I'd say you can't make a blanket judgement about all of Wikipedia. At the top of Wikipedia's main page are eight master categories: "Culture | Geography | History | Mathematics | People | Science | Society | Technology". Wikipedia does a fantastic job on the Mathematics and Science categories. Wikipedia does a horrible job on the History and Society categories. Mathematics and Science categories are ones where people agree, unless there is some cross-over into the society category (global warming and whatnot) as well. As far as the Society category articles, well, in the Middle East Palestinians and Israelis are shooting at each other, and Americans and Iraqis are shooting at each other, and if that's happening there's no surprise there is disagreement over the Society (and History) category articles on Israel, Palestine, Iraq and so forth.

So that's basically it, there is a spectrum of categories from where Wikipedia works well and has reliable information (mathematics, history and technology categories) to where it is just edit wars that get worse and worse (society and history categories). Wikipedia is fairly reliable about what ideas Godel had about mathematics, Wikipedia is completely unreliable if you are interested in reading about say France's Front National or Vietnam's National Liberation Front. Wikipedia has not gotten better over the years in this regard, it has gotten worse. There are left wing wiki encyclopedias like Demopedia [democratic...ground.com] , Dkosopedia [dkosopedia.com] and Anarchopedia [anarchopedia.org] , and right-leaning ones like Wikinfo [wikinfo.org] , and I predict over the coming years these alternative wikis will become quite large.

One recent example I can give, one guy just popped up who is accusing virtually every left-wing or liberal person in the 1950's was a Soviet spy, and by virtually everyone I mean editing hundreds of biographies and inserting that they were spies. Doing this is fine if done in the right way, but he is a bit nutty or stubborn or whatever and he has a dozen people reverting his stuff but that doesn't do much good. Then we have Lyndon Larouche followers come in as well. Or way out communists saying nutty things. Wikipedia would probably be better off if these people all went off to their own respective wikis.

Most Scientific Papers are ''Wrong'' (2, Interesting)

Pooua (265915) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736310)

http://www.newscientist.com/ [slashdot.org] >New Scientist published an interesting article on a published analysis that says that most published scientific research papers are wrong.

"Assuming that the new paper is itself correct, problems with experimental and statistical methods mean that there is less than a 50% chance that the results of any randomly chosen scientific paper are true.

"John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at the University of Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece, says that small sample sizes, poor study design, researcher bias, and selective reporting and other problems combine to make most research findings false. But even large, well-designed studies are not always right, meaning that scientists and the public have to be wary of reported findings.

"But Solomon Snyder, senior editor at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, US, says most working scientists understand the limitations of published research.

"'When I read the literature, I'm not reading it to find proof like a textbook. I'm reading to get ideas.'"

http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7915&f eedId=online-news_rss091 [slashdot.org] >New Scientist: "Most scientific papers are probably wrong"

My complaint about Wikipedia... (1)

Will_Malverson (105796) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736316)

On every other site on teh Intarweb, I can hit alt-E > F to bring up Firefox's 'find' toolbar. Wikipedia overrides alt-E so that it instead launches the editor for that page.

Workaround on Windows: Press and release Alt, and *then* press E. That brings up the Firefox 'edit' menu.

Re:My complaint about Wikipedia... (1)

Dwedit (232252) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736387)

I just use Ctrl+F to bring up the search toolbar.

Re:My complaint about Wikipedia... (1)

damiam (409504) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736393)

Better workaround: just hit Ctrl-F.

Re:My complaint about Wikipedia... (1)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736428)

It's rather funny that you not only bring up the find bar in this way, but also have managed to get it working on Wikipedia, since you can bring up the find bar in one keystroke by pressing forward slash (/). If you only want to include hyperlinks in your search, you can press single quote ('). Perhaps, for some reason, you knew about this and choose not to use the find bar through those two keys, but otherwise, I hope I've helped you out.

Re:My complaint about Wikipedia... (1)

confusion here (827020) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736439)

Just press Ctrl-F and bypass using the Alt key all together. Fewer keystrokes and no need for a workaround.

Re:My complaint about Wikipedia... (1)

masterzora (871343) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736440)

Ya know, there are much more convenient workarounds to that.

For example, using Ctrl-F instead alt-E > F. Or you could set the option to start finding when you start typing.

I've used both of those and have never had a single problem on any webpage including Wikipedia.

Re:My complaint about Wikipedia... (1)

Schrade (902157) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736443)

Uh... you know.. you can just type control-f to do that too, right?

Also you can type / to bring up the fast find when the page is in focus and a text field is NOT in focus.

How do tech-savvy people view Wikipedia? (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736324)

I enter some keywords into the search field, and wish the results would come back before I am old enough to retire.

Re:How do tech-savvy people view Wikipedia? (1)

strcmp (908668) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736384)

If you know the name of the article you're looking for, it's faster to just type the URL directly, i.e. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extreme_ironing [wikipedia.org]

Wikipedia and massive growth. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13736326)

One of the things about Wikipedia is that it has become so large and vast in such a short time. Just three years ago Wikipedia only had around 50,000 articles. Last year it only had 300,000. It has grown so fast that it is now the 35th most visited website acording to alexa, and searching for Wikipedia gives over 300 million results.

Wikipedia has literally appeared out of nowhere in the context of the Internet and printed encyclopedias. It is already the most popular online reference work in terms of linkage and hits per month.

Its the fact that Wikipedia is so big, yet still relavtivley new that many people are skeptical of it, but I have been with Wikipedia for a long time and have appreciated its value, by around 2010 Wikipedia will have millions of articles, and people will have gotten used to its power. Anti vandal techniques are being developed, there is a dedicated vandal fighter program and there is now almost 600 administrators patrolling it.

Wikipedia is a monster, and it is carving out the internet. The World wide web will soon split into two webs, the Wiki web, and the Loki web.

You don't have to be an idiot to use Wikipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13736329)

You don't have to be an idiot to use Wikipedia, just naive. Using it is just as foolish as when grandma clicks on the malware spam email; only instead of your computer being comprimised, its your mind. People who think Wikipedia has value are simply not aware of the insidious and deviant nature of some people in the world. Normally these people have no influence on society, but given an anonymous way influence and subvert the trusting masses, they will do so with abandon. Joseph Goebbels has nothing on these people.

Compared to what, though? (0, Redundant)

ActionJesus (803475) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736330)

I personally love wikipedia. Yes, Im aware that it CAN be wrong, but Ive not had any problems with it so far. (That I know of)

Compare wikipedia to something along similar lines, but more "professional". Such as the encyclopedia britannica. Wikipedia can be wrong, sure. But so can the encyclopedia britannica. And wikipedia is more likely to be up to date with current events.

The encyclopedia britannica most likely wont have its page on Time Cubism or Scientology graffitid. But then, does it even have those pages?

You get what you want from it. Youd be an idiot to 100% believe everything in it, but then Id argue the same holds true for anything. Always double check your facts- hell, triple check - if its important. Otherwise, for people like me who don't write scientific papers for a living, it does the job fine.

Old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13736354)

In Korea, only old people use Wikipedia!

Perfect example of a problem in Wikipedia (4, Informative)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736357)

A few days back there was talk about the Moller Sky Car, and someone said that the Newtonian and Bernoulli theories are incompatible, citing a Wikipedia article. (I'd link it, but I have a freakin migraine and really need to get to bed...)

Well, the wikipedia article was BS. Pulling out a real text like "Fundamentals of Aerodynamics" by Anderson would confirm that the Newtonian and Bernoulli views are compatible, just two different ways of expressing the same phenomenon. But since anyone who thinks s/he knows something about something can edit a wikipedia entry we get entries like that, which spread falsehoods.

I personally avoid Wikipedia for that very reason.

I suggest to people that when they are interested in a phenomenon that they try to find a reputable website that focuses on **just** that phenomenon. For example, if you have a question in aerodynamics, look for an aero website. Et Cetera.

-everphilski-

It's nice if you like McDonalds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13736360)

My only problem with wikipedia is that all the articles end up being styleless and very boring even compared to traditional eencyclopedias. I'll guess it is because with so many people editing everything trends towards the very bland but it is still a problem. Nice starting place though.

Convenient; just a starting point (0, Redundant)

Hergio (870237) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736367)

Its just a convenient place to start research, or get some quick facts. Its easily and readily accessible, and for the most part its pretty accurate. I wouldn't base any full fledged research paper off of facts derived from it since there is that chance it may not be correct. I agree with a previous post that sometimes there are articles where people's bias can come in and twist facts or emphasize certain things more than others. And in a way, I think that can be helpful and help educate people on not only the facts, but also things that surround the facts that are deeper. On the talk pages that accompany the regular pages, this type of discussion and 'arguing' sometimes occurs and it can often times be helpful to resolve disputes about an article as well as expose people to other views and the reasons behind those views. So basically you have to take wikipedia with a grain of salt. Its really interesting and amazing to see what an open source community can contribute.

Primary threat to Wikipedia... (1)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736374)

is that the pack of lies that it is will be exposed once everyone begins reading the true truth found in the Uncyclopedia [uncyclopedia.org] .

With a Grain of Salt (1)

LuckyJ (56389) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736385)

We view it (I hope), like anything else - with a grain of salt...at least initially. Believe it or not, nothing of what you read or hear from ANYPLACE is this Utopia of "true and verified". You must take each thing and compare it to what you know, what makes sense, what other sources say, and what common sense tells you. Then do your own additional research to try and validate things. This is to say that one should always be a healthy skeptic, no matter what the source. Anything else, and you are asking for trouble.

Need for an Academic Wikipedia (1)

whichpaul (733708) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736386)

Within universities wikipedia is somewhat of a joke. But the concept of a freely available web encyclopedia is definitely valid.

I'd like to see a 'peer-reviewed' wikipedia appear that students can use for study.

Not for Technical Information (1)

The-Trav-Man (913000) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736388)

I like wikipedia, I use it whenever I want to quickly bring myself up to speed on a topic. I do not use wikipeida for technical info. I have never refered to it to help me write a program, or to find out something about hardware, or to locate technical resources. Yeah, it's probably not made for that, so I'm probably not misusing it then. The point is that being a technical person does not seem to give me a unique opinion of wikipedia except maybe that I'm better at searching & navigating. Having said that I don't believe any source of information should be considered truth unless it makes sense to you personally. We as humans are blessed with intuition, and if we use it it can save us considerable time. If my intuition tells me information is false, and I can't verify the information, then I'll disbelieve it, be it in a journal, a highschool text book, or some guy on the internet. That said I'll probably spend less time trying to verify the word of 'some guy' than a text book, but generally the text book will explain things a fair bit better to me.

Not to be taken seriously... (1)

Now.Imperfect (917684) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736402)

I think its a great resource when you're just curious about something, but I would use it to write a paper.

I only use it to look stuff up quick when google isn't returning anything very useful to satisfy my whim of curiosity.

Stop questioning our Wikipedia Overlords!! (1)

ElectroBot (554775) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736404)

Your friendly local Wikipedia Priest 2nd Class.

Articles on Elementry schools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13736405)

One thing about Wikipeida is that it has articles on individual elementry schools (example) [wikipedia.org] . This has caused a lot of friction in the community, there are even dedicated school watches to stop people from attempting to delete the information.

Wikipedia is fun (1)

Romothecus (553103) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736409)

Personally, I sabotage random facts in random articles as a hobby.

The Liberal Bias Remains (3, Insightful)

Nova Express (100383) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736410)

"Earlier on, we had a systemic bias toward liberal issues. However, as Wikipedia has grown, and become more mainstream, the liberal contingent has declined as a proportion of Wikipedia in general."

Notice that they don't say that the liberal bias has disappeared. In fact, it has become rather distinctly entrenched at the administrator level.

Notice how Accuracy in Media [wikipedia.org] is called a conservative organization (which it is) time and time again, but the analagous organization on thee left is described thusly: "Media Matters monitors for and refutes identified and materially substantiated conservative misinformation found in media news reports, public affairs and talk radio shows from Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and others." [wikipedia.org]

So, in short your bias is "identified and materially substantiated misinformation," my bias is truth.

You can find about a hudnred other examples, for example the breaking up of the article on Communism [wikipedia.org] into theory and practice to avoid having to mention any of that nasty genocide in the main article.

The SCO Group website... (1)

vettemph (540399) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736423)

is not a wiki. Does that make the information you find there credible at all?

Although it is amature, It's better than many google results where all you get are people trying to sell you the things you want to learn about.

for example:
  GOOGLE "light"
result (right hand column)
  www.ebay.com, Great deals on light!
Seems ebay now sells light. Do they sell it by the particle and charge more for fashonable wavelengths? Perhaps I'll buy gallon drum of light.

You can always count on the sponsored ad from ebay to sound amusing.

The Future (3, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736446)

I use Wikipedia, I contribute to it — but I'm also damned critical of it. It has one big strength it has a lot of articles on obscure topics that you can't read about elsewhere. It has a lot of weakeness: too much trivia, almost no fact checking, and a lot of badly written articles.

Yes, there are also well-written articles. And, despite the lack of fact-checking, there are relatively few glaring errors. But even the the good stuff/crap ratio is suprisingly high, there's still a lot of crap.

I'm one of those factoid geeks who read reference books for pleasure. (Do you know why a Major ranks a Lieutenant, but a Lieutenant-General ranks a Major-General? I do, God help me!) I'll never do that with Wikipedia, because I never know in advance whether the article I'm about to read will educate and inspire me or confuse and nauseate me. It's a reference I find useful, but unlike many other reference works, I can never really fall in love with.

I think Wikipedia's long-term value will be less in its ability to inform its readers than it's ability to educate its contributers. It's teaching them how hard it is to put together a useful reference work, which is as much about what you leave out as what you put in. Maybe someday there're be a Wikipedia 2.0 that harnesses all that effort but offers better crap filters.

law of large numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13736447)

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

hah! I thought it'd be funny to start with a link to wikipedia on a discussion about wikipedia. Anyway I believe we should look at wikipedia with this law in mind. There are thousands of contributors and articles. Some may be written by paranoid commie trolls who dont know what they're talking about, but for every 1 of these individuals there are 50 people who actually know what they're talking about. I think it is safe to assume that the average wikipedia contributor has a higher than average IQ; i dont think that joe schmoe would waste his time on something like wikipedia. There are biased individuals who may post...there are also many people who try to be unbiased. You could probably find the same bias in historical textbooks or other encyclopedias. Wikipedia is great for learning. It is probably not as good for a research paper, however, neither would a regular encyclopedia.

More Current Than Printed Media (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736451)

I like it because it is more current then printed media, if there is some fad I want to find out about (flying spagetti monster, rave, etc) Wikipedia is a good place to start and usually gets to the point way quicker then a 10 o clock newscast.

The things printed encyclopedias have over the eletronic versions is that you can access them without power, the content and language is usually suitable for all ages and if you are bored you can easily learn new things by pulling down a volume and flipping through the pages quickly (Wikipedia is kinda slow on my end).

ah, ah (2, Interesting)

s388 (910768) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736452)

wikipedia is amazing for looking up pop culture references, actors, music, video games, the ins-and-outs of pro-wrestling character histories. has anybody read the wiki for action movies? or for GREY GOO? it's brilliant.

anything that doesn't involve peoples egos or nationalistic identities is usually brilliantly done. it's also great for looking up foods, plants, animals, technology, vinegars-- a big beautiful range of things.

science and math articles are great too, but try looking up an important scientific figure who happens to have said some unflattering things about american foreign policy, or american race relations. gg.

look up these things though, you won't be disappointed:

fermi paradox
grey goo
clanking replicator
steven seagal (call me crazy)
action movies

or, if you're disappointed, you're already dead, RIP.

No worse than the old encyclopedias (1)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736453)

I see Wikipedia as an imperfect but much needed update to the traditional encyclopedia. Because the writers work for free, with not topic restrictions are space limits, Wikipedia will inevitably end up covering more topics in more detail than traditional encyclopedias. Hyperlinking also allows Wikipedia to link to related information, which will eventually make it a valuable research tool. Wikipedia articles may often be inaccurate or biased, but the same can be said of many encyclodpedias - which is why so many teachers limited the number of encyclopedias a student could cite in papers (I use the past tense because it doesn't happen anymore, as most students don't seem to bother with the old encyclopedias.).

The important thing to remember regarding Wikipedia is that if you're doing important research, double check it somewhere else. Just like the old printed encylopedias, Wikipedia should be used as a starting point, and not a primary source.

O'dell (1)

Cerdic (904049) | more than 8 years ago | (#13736459)

I use Wiki to give me a clue about some item I am unfamiliar with, and I accept it as a layman's resource: not necessarily in depth and not necessarily completely factual.

Having said that, I used it last for a quick description of what argyria [wikipedia.org] is. However, when writing a paper for a chemistry class about the gravimetric analysis of nickel in an ore, I found a page with some useful info, but decided to hit some more trustworthy resources instead.
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