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Wikipedia Founder Sees Serious Quality Problems

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the wiki-this dept.

The Internet 459

Juha-Matti Laurio writes "The Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has acknowledged there are real quality problems with the online project. From the article: 'Meanwhile, criticism from outside the Wikipedia camp has been rebuffed with a ferocious blend of irrationality and vigor that's almost unprecedented in our experience: if you thought Apple, Amiga, Mozilla or OS/2 fans were er, ... passionate, you haven't met a wiki-fiddler.'"

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Perhaps they need a team of paid editors (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13821759)

It's clearly benefited Slashdot. The story quality and lack of dupes proves it.

Re:Perhaps they need a team of paid editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13821780)


It's clearly benefited Slashdot. The story quality and lack of dupes proves it.


If I could, I would edit your post.

Re:Perhaps they need a team of paid editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13821795)

Yes, it's too bad you can't, Zonk.

Re:Perhaps they need a team of paid editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13822062)

If I could, I would get paid for your editing.

Re:Perhaps they need a team of paid editors (3, Interesting)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821802)

I know this was intended as a joke, but it might be good for wikipedia.

Lately I'm finding more "missing" articles than problem ones. Topics that should be there but aren't. Maybe they could have some sort of bounty system to get people to write these missing articles. Of course, that would require paid editors to approve the entires before a payment can be made.

Re:Perhaps they need a team of paid editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13822036)

Why don't you write it?

Re:Perhaps they need a team of paid editors (5, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822038)

Jimbo started by trying paid editors; it was called Nupedia [wikipedia.org] . After three years and... well, tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, I guess, they had a whole 24 articles!

Re:Perhaps they need a team of paid editors (1)

skraps (650379) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822100)

Paid editors to approve the article? Voting would work just as well or better.

What's scary is... (5, Insightful)

mtec (572168) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821790)

I'm seeing more and more people use it as their de facto source for information.

Re:What's scary is... (4, Insightful)

Kelson (129150) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821876)

Hey, as a starting point or casual reference, it's not bad. Your chances of finding inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading content on Wikipedia are no worse than your chance of finding it on a general Internet search. If you're doing serious research, you should be following it up with other sources -- preferably primary sources as much as possible -- which ought to help you catch any misinformation you got from a bad Wikipedia article.

The real challenge is finding the volunteers to fix all the obscure articles. I recently stumbled across an article with a typo in its outline structure that had been there for about a year, and no one had noticed it in that entire time. It's kind of like getting someone to do serious UI design or end-user documentation for an open-source project. People work on what they find interesting, and if no contributors find a topic interesting, it's not going to get fixed.

Re:What's scary is... (4, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821918)

Too true. Only today I fixed an article that described "artex" as a type of wallpaper (it isn't, it's a fluid that sticks to walls or ceilings and dries into a solid surface, similar to plaster but much more versatile). The point is, it's an utterly dull subject. So nobody's bothered correcting the blatant error that a minute's research with google would tell you.

What's in a name... (5, Insightful)

p2sam (139950) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821920)

Wikipedia is an excellent online source of information. But because of its name, critics hold Wikipedia to the same standard as an encyclopedia. I certainly don't think it's the same thing as an encyclopedia, a wiki's open and collaborative nature is fundamentally different from the construct of an encyclopedia. It's not better or worse, it's just a different thing.

Re:What's in a name... (2, Insightful)

king-manic (409855) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822079)

Wikipedia is an excellent online source of information. But because of its name, critics hold Wikipedia to the same standard as an encyclopedia. I certainly don't think it's the same thing as an encyclopedia, a wiki's open and collaborative nature is fundamentally different from the construct of an encyclopedia. It's not better or worse, it's just a different thing.

I have foudn that encyclopedias are often similarly biased, just as often incorrect, and not nearly as broad.

Re:What's scary is... (1)

nbert (785663) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821966)

It really depends on what you need the information for. If I'm looking for some information about a topic that interests me I favor quantity over quality, espacially because wikipedia offers information on topics I would never find in an encyclopedia.
However, if I'm looking something up on wikipedia for a presentation or to simply prove my point to a friend I'll double check it with more traditional sources, because I know that I can't really trust the wiki article.
IMO people look at this project the wrong way. In it's current form it will never replace the traditional encyclopedia, but on the other hand encyclopedias will never match wiki' in regards to actuality. People should just see it as a valuable enhancement, but it's not a replacement to triple-checked books being published every other year.

Yes, Wikipedia has accuracy issues, but..... (5, Insightful)

ChrisGilliard (913445) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821791)

What other encyclopedia chronicles the history of slashdot?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slashdot_history [wikipedia.org]

Re:Yes, Wikipedia has accuracy issues, but..... (3, Funny)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821873)

The real truth:

http://www.encyclopediadramatica.com/index.php/Sla shdot [encycloped...matica.com]

Re:Yes, Wikipedia has accuracy issues, but..... (1)

ChrisGilliard (913445) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821958)

Ok, you got me. Let me rephrase.... What other, hard back, 200 lb, $2000, encyclopedia chronicles the history of slashdot? I suppose there are other web-based encyclopedia out there that have generated a similar effect to the phenomenon that Wikipedia has created. But the point of my comment was that you will never get the diversity of topics by hiring a group of "experts" to write an encyclopedia that you will get by opening it up to the general public.

Re:Yes, Wikipedia has accuracy issues, but..... (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821976)

What other encyclopedia chronicles the history of slashdot?

Hey, that's just an example of "know your enemy"...

i'll second that. (5, Interesting)

CDPatten (907182) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821801)

I've debated people here and they use wikipedia facts that were wrong as proof they were right. It drove me crazy... he wouldn't take any other source no matter how many, wikipedia was the spoken word. Yikes.

In a perfect world wikipedia would work, but people aren't perfect, and people have agendas... that is why it will never be taken seriously with anyone outside the community.

Re:i'll second that. (1)

mr_zorg (259994) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822056)

In a perfect world wikipedia would work, but people aren't perfect, and people have agendas...

Yes, but wouldn't the same thing apply to traditional encycolpedias? Or any information outlet for that matter? The big difference in my mind is that those traditional media typically have fewer people involved, and therefore fewer agendas...

Re:i'll second that. (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822096)

Yes, but wouldn't the same thing apply to traditional encycolpedias? Or any information outlet for that matter? The big difference in my mind is that those traditional media typically have fewer people involved, and therefore fewer agendas...

This doesn't make it more benign. Those few agendas tend to be fairly malevolent (corprate greed beign #1).

Considering (1, Redundant)

Darkinspiration (901976) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821804)

Considering our wiki was deleted because the site it pointed to had no alxia rating.... I find it a weak reason to delete a wiki about a anime club in montreal that has a rich history...I guess we should motion for an undelete but whe are a bit dissapointed.

Love it or leave it ... (5, Insightful)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821807)

It's still one of the best destinations and tools on the Net. Everytime I show it to someone who has never seen it, they're blown away.

Re:Love it or leave it ... (1)

vdboor (827057) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821929)

from TFA:

Traditionally, Wikipedia supporters have responded to criticism in one of several ways. The commonest is: If you don't like an entry, you can fix it yourself. Which is rather like going to a restaurant for a date, being served terrible food, and then being told by the waiter where to find the kitchen. But you didn't come out to cook a meal - you could have done that at home! No matter, roll up your sleeves.

Thirdly, and here you can see that the defense is beginning to run out of steam, one's attention is drawn to process issues: such as the speed with which errors are fixed, or the fact that looking up a Wikipedia is faster than using an alternative. This line of argument is even weaker than the first: it's like going to a restaurant for a date - and being pelted with rotten food, thrown at you at high velocity by the waiters.

IMHO, the above are just poor arguments, comparing apples and oranges. TFA has a point, but the arguments of the Register are spreading FUD. Maybe someone could tell them about words to avoid [wikipedia.org] and the meaning of weasel terms [wikipedia.org] ?

Still not the top zealot (3, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821811)

'Meanwhile, criticism from outside the Wikipedia camp has been rebuffed with a ferocious blend of irrationality and vigor that's almost unprecedented in our experience: if you thought Apple, Amiga, Mozilla or OS/2 fans were er, ... passionate, you haven't met a wiki-fiddler.'


These people still can't hold a candle to Jack Thompson.

Of course there's a lack of quality (2, Interesting)

jclast (888957) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821815)

Of course there's a lack of quality. Anybody can come in and edit anybody else's work.

Step 1: Create an account
Step 2: Do whatever the hell you want to the whole place

Maybe a level system ought to be put in place. Create enough new entries and then you can edit other users' work. It's not a perfect solution, but it would cut down on some of the nonsense.

Re:Of course there's a lack of quality (1)

MouseR (3264) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821843)

You mean like this [wikipedia.org] where they even go so deep as to do computer forensic exercises in order to match the guy's butt wart with a usenet poster?

Re:Of course there's a lack of quality (2, Insightful)

sled (10079) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821872)

Step 1: Create an account
Step 2: Do whatever the hell you want to the whole place

True, except for the Step 1 part.

Re:Of course there's a lack of quality (1)

jclast (888957) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822024)

Wow. Same difference really. If write access to everything is always to the anonymous user it's just as bad as if the only requirement was choosing a name and password.

You'd think they'd at least want to know who made the changes so they know whose changes to ignore next time though.

Re:Of course there's a lack of quality (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13822124)

Every single revision is tracked by IP address and (if logged in) account name. It takes two clicks to see all of the editing that any person, logged in or not, has done on the entire site and ban them if necessary.

Re:Of course there's a lack of quality (1)

dorkygeek (898295) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821896)

You can even leave out step one on wikipedia. No account needed for editing or inserting articles.

Re:Of course there's a lack of quality (3, Funny)

abh (22332) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821913)

Actually there's only one step. You don't need an account. Gee, what other site do I know that allows anonymous random folks to spout off nonsense... *looks around*

Re:Of course there's a lack of quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13821959)

Gee, what other site do I know that allows anonymous random folks to spout off nonsense... *looks around*

I have no idea.

Re:Of course there's a lack of quality (1)

temojen (678985) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821980)

You don't need to create an account or log in. I've edited many a page anonymously (removing references to Spongebob Squarepants [wikipedia.org] from an article about Leif Erikson Day, for example.

Wikipedia generally works (4, Interesting)

benna (614220) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821819)

Wikipedia usually works, in my experience, especially on popular or controversial articles. Just within the last hour, another editor and I had a dispute [wikipedia.org] over whether "dry mouth" is a negative or neutral effect of marijuana [wikipedia.org] . We went back and forth a few times but we eventually agreed to combine that postive and negative effect lists, and now it is all settled. Such compromise is not always possible but it is much of the time and the system usually works.

Re:Wikipedia generally works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13821910)

And is drinking lots of beer to combat that dry mouth a positive effect?

(up to a point, yes...)

Re:Wikipedia generally works (5, Insightful)

CaptainCarrot (84625) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822000)

In my experience it's exactly the controversial issues that Wikipedia handles least best. Your example is one where it worked, but very often such disputes force the inclusion of some far-out whacko idea with no credibility that an encyclopedia with a more controlled editorial policy wouldn't even consider worthy of mention.

The trouble is that the whacko editors have far more free time on their hands than the sensible ones, and can just keep hammering away at an article until their POV, silly as it may be, is presented on a level with a more reasoned viewpoint.

which scientific survey (1)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822028)



ok case in point. How did you come to this conclusion? Did you light up and verify it or did you conduct a survey based on scientific priciples, or perhaps are you quoting from a reputable source.

This is the problem with wikipedia this is my opinion.

Re:which scientific survey (1)

benna (614220) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822120)

This is precicely why we decided to merge the positive and negative sections. Such judgements are too subjective. If it is evidence that marijuana causes dry mouth at all that you are after, here are two [nih.gov] sources [nih.gov] .

Wiki for Keith Curtis! (2, Funny)

Keith Curtis (923118) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821826)

All it says is "Drunken Irish Layabout" and there's a picture of Leo DiCaprio.

the secret of the ooze (1)

LittleGuernica (736577) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821834)

I also thought that recently there has been quite some crap oozing into Wikipedia. Lot's of articles contain inforation that isn't directly related to the topic, or they're just rumors. Sure, Wikipedia is a dynamic living creature, much more than an old fashioned stack of books, It seems that some people that edit the articles just dont "get" what wikipedia is about and sidetrack from the topic. Instead of describing what an apparatus can do and what its used for, some editors insert if runs linux and how you can install it on the apparatus...how nice..

I think we've talked about this before. (5, Interesting)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821838)

A solution I liked was to make the publicly-editable entries into an unstable branch, and to promote versions of pages that have been fact-checked and have been agreed to be up to Wikipedia standards into a stable branch. Redirect anonymous viewers to stable pages if available, and mark each version as to which branch it belongs to.

Don't forget the vandals. (1)

Willy on Wheels (889645) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821842)

There are a lot of vandals sabotaging the project. Anyone can take a page and add grafiti over it. The move page function for example is widley abused, as anyone can move a page to nonsense names. You don't even have to edit wikipedia to vandalize it anymore, just register an account with a nonsense user name and you get your account banned.

Of course it has problems (4, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821853)

Who actually think Wikipedia is going to replace various standard sources of knowledge, and will eventually be the greatest and most accurate repository of knowledge in human existence?

It never will. And that's OK.

Wikipedia can be valuable even in mediocrity. I've used it as a "jumping off" point for knowledge about things that aren't covered in more traditional sources. Want to know the origins of "all your base are belong to us"? Wikipedia is great for that sort of trivia. Want an in-depth explanation of Relativity? You probably don't want to necessarily trust Wikipedia for the last word on it, but you might be able to find a few pointers to some good books.

Wikipedia is what it is. As long as everyone understands what it is, it'll do fine.

Not as bad as people think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13821897)

well the pages on relativity seem fine. really, i find 99% of the time these pages are of high quality. this is just some knee-jerk contrarians trying to look insightful by pointing out the 1% flaw in something that works 99% of the time.

Re:Not as bad as people think (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821963)

But the point is trust -- you can't trust Wikipedia to know what the hell it's talking about with Relativity. It's a complex enough subject that any "informal" explanation in the Wikipedia is going to be a gross oversimplification at best, and at worst totally wrong, and there are too few people who "truly" understand Relativity to know the difference.

Re:Not as bad as people think (1)

aurelian (551052) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822047)

I wouldn't go to a traditional enyclopedia to learn about relativity either. Encyclopedias are not good places to learn about complex ideas, they are compendia of facts and summaries.

Re:Not as bad as people think (1)

ChrisGilliard (913445) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822061)

I understand your point, but from what I've seen this has not been the case. The coverage of most of the topics I have knowledge of are very accurate. I believe this happens because in general most people who edit the section on Relativity REALLY know a lot about it. On top of that, they are moderated by a lot of other people who REALLY know a lot about it. People who don't have a clue about relativity, on average, will not even bother editing the page on relativity. On average most mistakes will be viewed by many people who know the correct info. When you're talking about a well understood phenomenon, like relativity this effect is even more strong. So, is every word in Wikipedia correct? No. Is every word in a traditional encyclopedia correct? No. Is Wikipedia accurate in most cases? Yes. This is the point and this is why Wikipedia is useful.

Re:Not as bad as people think (1)

georgewilliamherbert (211790) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822106)

But the point is trust -- you can't trust Wikipedia to know what the hell it's talking about with Relativity
You can't trust other encyclopedias or non-hard-physics references either.

Wikipedia articles on technical topics generally are good quality. The less controversial ones are not vandalized that often. Some of the articles are excellent. Some are completely missing.

You get at least what you pay for, plus what you contribute to creating or editing.

Re:Of course it has problems (2, Insightful)

aurelian (551052) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821974)

I agree. The fact that it has to be read with a discerning mind doesn't detract from its usefulness in areas where it is strong.

The argument that it should be judged by its weakest content is false, and wilfully ignores the fact that Wikipedia actually provides a source of information on many things that simply aren't covered elsewhere - particularly not in traditional reference works. Net culture is one of these, and as far as I'm concerned it's just as important to have a store of knowledge on that as it is to have economic data on countries of the world or potted histories of the kind that Britannica et al fill their pages with.

Re:Of course it has problems (2, Insightful)

HardCase (14757) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822101)

Who actually think Wikipedia is going to replace various standard sources of knowledge...

It has on /. [wikipedia.org] .

I'm just sayin'...

-h-

I agree (1)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821854)


Now I'm not an expert on everything but there are a few things I've seen that is not so much incorrect as it has a bias to how it is written. There needs to be more control from a professional literary stand point. Proper referencing to original sources, unbiased commentary. It always cracked me up how much detail is put in writing an article about slash culture but yet you look at something like the demographical information of some third world country and it is sparce at best. Now I agree this is an envolvement issue. I just think it woudl be better if editors functioned more on a merrit basis and were invited. Thus allowing more control in the balance with regards to different fields.

revenge (2, Informative)

jzeejunk (878194) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821870)

slashdot reports on wikipedia's quality hm... first thing i wanted to check was what wikipedia said about slashdot.

Slashdot is often criticized for posting story summaries that are inaccurate and/or misspelled, and for intentionally posting articles that many find highly biased, and/or defamatory and often incite flamewars, while ignoring news or commentary on issues which outsiders may consider more serious or important (see Slashdot subculture). It is also infamous for the Slashdot effect, when thousands of Slashdot readers read an article and connect to the linked website, flooding it with unexpected traffic, and at times bringing the site down in a manner similar to a Denial of Service attack. The use of "slashdot" as a verb refers to this effect.

Well I don't see any problems with the quality of that article ;)
Jokes aside for most things I've used wikipedia for, it has been a good help and is pretty accurate too. Might be just because I normally read at geeky/nerdy type of articles.

Ok its time..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13821875)

to make a Wikipedia entry for this....

anyone up for it?

'wikki-fiddler'? (2, Interesting)

aurelian (551052) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821877)

I've never understood why the Register staff seem to have such a personal vendetta against Wikipedia. I've no problem with them reporting inaccuracies or criticism such as this, and I know that a lot of their content is opinion rather than reportage, but 'wikki-fiddler' is a pretty juvenile and unprofessional term to use.

Regarding Wikipedia itself, I find it to be pretty useful as a repository of widely-known information (dates, names etc), very useful on computer-related information, and perhaps not so useful or reliable on other things. But that's still a net positive. Why the hostility?

Re:'wikki-fiddler'? (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822069)

but 'wikki-fiddler' is a pretty juvenile and unprofessional term to use.

*ahem* We're talking about The Register. Hello; you must be new here! (*cough cough*)

Re:'wikki-fiddler'? (1)

ortcutt (711694) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822081)

It's The Register. They hate everything as a matter of principle. Cynicism is their bread and butter.

Re:'wikki-fiddler'? (1)

aurelian (551052) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822138)

Yeah I know, but they aren't usually quite so vitriolic about it. It's like the Wikipedia people stole their girlfriends at college or something, and they can't let it go.

And they do like some things - like iPods and and Google Earth. They love Google Earth.

Re:'wikki-fiddler'? (1)

saucercrab (855892) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822122)

Wiki-fiddler is a pretty juvenile term. We need a term that catches people's attention. How about Wiki-pediaphile?

Wikipedia is instant geek cred (0, Troll)

stlhawkeye (868951) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821880)

The reason we so warmly embrace Wikipedia is because we know it's instant geek cred. Wanna back up your opinion? Link to Wikipedia, no geek will argue with that shit.

Wikipedia is ultimately just like Slashdot - a collection of potentially relevent links to material you might be interested in accompanied by editorial material of highly dubious merit. And behind the scenes are a half million desperate nerds trying to be right about something, all while defending this exercise in social onanism as a "community" effort to provide a free educational resource to people.

Go ahead, mod me a troll. It makes you feel really good for just a few minutes, doesn't it? Fuck that guy! Stupid trolls! We're trying to have an open, honest debate and a free exchange of ideas and he's in here disagreeing with us!

Re:Wikipedia is instant geek cred (1)

killmenow (184444) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821936)

Go ahead, mod me a troll. It makes you feel really good for just a few minutes, doesn't it? Fuck that guy! Stupid trolls! We're trying to have an open, honest debate and a free exchange of ideas and he's in here disagreeing with us!
I don't know about Troll; but, Flamebait sounds just about right.

Re:Wikipedia is instant geek cred (2, Insightful)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822103)

Insightful, but extremely Pessimistic

Why do you even bother posting that in the first place? Why go through the trouble of trying to convince the rest of us to consider your view?

People seek to educate and learn because it makes us feel good. If knowledge were merely a matter of cost/benefit, it wouldn't happen.

And stop it with the melodramatic persecution complex.

Re:Wikipedia is instant geek cred (1)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822131)

Well, maybe it would happen, but not very quickly. I'm currently pressed for time.

The quality flaw is inherent of the concept. (1)

g_dunn (921640) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821881)

And users have to fix it - Not the people running it.

By definition, it's an open encyclopedia to which anyone can contribute. That's what's great about it! It supports our ideals of open access and modification of information.

The problem is that the information being placed is sub par. I'm sure the submitter had their best intentions in mind when they contributed, but the average Joe can't compete with proffesional editors and fact finders like encyclopedias do.

So yes, we reach the point where wikipedia looks subpar. That's unfortunate, but an undeniable fact.

Don't get me wrong - Ther are quite alot of knowledgable articles that rival or surpass the proffesional standards we're being judged by!

But how many stubs are there? How many articles are there that contain only the barest of information? How many could use some serious grammar and spell-checking?

Alot.

And the article is correct - Things are only as strong as the weakest point. And wikipedia has alot more of those than it does anything else.

So what's the solution? Well, the people submitting need to offer higher quality work, and there should be some standard of quality - It is enforced to a point in some things, but too often do I see people who share a view backing each other up to the point that anything that doesn't quite fit in with their ideology is cut or edited.

Is this the majority? No! Of course not! But it exists, and the problem does need to be taken care of.

Some articles in the system, like the ones revolving around Bloody Sunday, have a good discussion going on about the accuracy of the information, and the nonpartisanship of the people submitting.

But there are other articles with the same problem, but none of the solution.

People do need to get involved and help fix things up. People do need to continue submitting. I think having alot more people interested in just editting to raise the written word level of the content would help out as well, and thankfully, I've seen a rise of people doing this.

Wikipedia generally doesn't work (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13821888)

Wikipedia usually doesn't work, in my experience, especially on popular or controversial articles. Just within the last hour, another editor and I had a dispute [wikipedia.org] over whether "dry mouth" is a negative or neutral effect of marijuana [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org]. We went back and forth a few times but we eventually agreed not to combine that postive and negative effect lists, and now it is still not settled. Such a lack of compromise always happens nd the system usually doesn't work.

NOTE TO MODS (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821983)

The parent comment is a copy of another poster's comment with the sense of every statement reversed. A rather bizarre form of trolling, but trolling nonetheless.

Re:NOTE TO JULESH (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13821995)

This was a wiki edit of the original comment.

Commercial opportunity? (3, Interesting)

AJ_Levy (700911) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821899)

Could there be a commercial opportunity in forking Wikipedia, and then having an advertising-supported business hire some editors and professionals to verify Wikipedia articles, perhaps in conjunction with other content? Or perhaps having a university fork Wikipedia and then flag which edits have been verified, or edited, by students or professors of the subjects covered by a particular article? Or perhaps introducing a Slashdot-style moderation system (where you can by default, for instance, only see edits which are rated 5*'s or higher?)

Trend? (3, Insightful)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821916)

It seems like this is sort of a trend. I mean, didn't vandalism and trolling force the introduction of the moderation system here? And didn't that happen nearly everywhere on the web as discussion boards increased in size? Anyone see a trend? It seems that once it goes from a clubhouse to a gym, you start to get bad apples.

Another poster suggested a leveling system, and I agree. I think that wikipedia should establish a system whereby articles are ranked, i.e. culture - specialized - mainstream or something. That way, as you start out, you can work on culture articles, then work your way up. Or maybe base it on page views and specialization. People who just joined can make new articles (to fill the missing ones) or can work on general articles that are rarely viewed, then work their way up.

Wikipedia is the greatest tool in the world... (1)

OneByteOff (817710) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821923)

I've learned more from wikipedia in the last few weeks then I learned in 4 years of high school...

But then again I wasn't drunk and high while I was reading wikipedia....

Re:Wikipedia is the greatest tool in the world... (2, Funny)

cyborg_zx (893396) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821941)

But then again I wasn't drunk and high while I was reading wikipedia....

How ironic that I find that is the best time to fire up a random page in Wikipedia.

Vandalism made easy (0, Troll)

Willy on Wheels (889645) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821928)

Want to vandalize Wikipedia?

Simply click on this link [wikipedia.org] , replace the contents of the text box with nonsense. You will soon get an annoying orange you have new messages box, containing a {{test}} code. Vandalize the person who gave you that, that will show them who is boss!

Wyoming does not have 57 electoral votes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13821942)

I still don't understand what the Wiki editors hoped to gain by making that claim.

mod u4 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13821953)

surprise to the obsesseD - give we all know, TCP/IP stack has and shouting that Have their moments THE PROJECT FACES, were compounded sudden and America. You,

Ah, from a rag with accuracy issues... (3, Funny)

nweaver (113078) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821956)

It's not like the Register doesn't have accuracy issues either.

Better or Worse? (0)

Chuckstar (799005) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821961)

Wikipedia is not better than a professionally edited encyclopedia.

Wikipedia is not worse than a professionally edited encyclopedia.

Wikipedia is, however, different than a professionally edited encyclopedia.

It is a work-in-progress, so a priori it cannot be judged based on the worst entries. Maybe its time for some type of rating system for articles, or maybe allow articles to branch into "Release x.x" and "In Development". We certainly don't judge Linux based on incomplete/buggy code under development. We rate it on what gets released.

Re:Better or Worse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13822108)

Wikipedia is, however, different than a professionally edited encyclopedia.

Yes, I really doubt that a professionally edited encyclopedia would have had a front page article about strap-on dildos, like Wikipedia decided to have earlier this week.

WikiMedia is a great tool (1)

RobbieGee (827696) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821962)

Most of the scepticism I've met against Wikipedia when showing it to others has been the concern of quality of the material. The cost of having a free+gratis encyclopedia is that one has to be more critical than usual. Content can be edited at any time and controversial issues are likely to be biased. The cost is having to check the logs to find if material has been altered by trolls.

More importantly, for me, the WikiMedia software serves as a great knowledge base for the (very small) company I work for. I installed it to an intranet server and we all use it for documenting certain aspects of the company, from internal routines to which ink cardtriges the printers need.

don't rely on one source (1)

Treeleaf (759543) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821967)

I like wikipedia because I can look things up very quickly, without checking other sources and without using any search engines.
When I want to know more about a subject, I go and look a bit further.

There is a huge number of websites on the Internet that provides with information, "online encyclopedia". But the quality of the information depends on the author's knowledge, ability to write etc. And let's face it, most of the are of average to low quality.

I would say: when it's important to know the facts, don't rely on one source!

Would you have your average fifth grade class... (1, Insightful)

suitepotato (863945) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821979)

...write the encyclopedias that they then use to study with?

Me neither.

Easy as that.

Andrew Orlowski is a douche (0, Flamebait)

teslatug (543527) | more than 8 years ago | (#13821981)

Does that guy not know how to read, or is he just being a douche again?

professional troll. (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822015)

In the words of Jimbo Wales himself, "Andrew Orlowski is a professional troll."

That's all.

bmod up (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13821986)

triumphs WoulD soon

Wikipedia needs to improve IRC channel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13821991)

I went in there to ask some questions about editing and about five minutes later, the channel got hacked into and everyone was booted out with an obscene racist message. Not even any of the staff could fix the problem for some time.

Very poor management here.

There's bad information, but it still rules. (5, Insightful)

dslauson (914147) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822012)

By it's nature, Wikipedia is no good for academic research or as the final authority on anything. That said, if I want an overview of what something is all about, and the information doesn't have to be 100% accurate, then Wikipedia is the way to go.

Think about the information you would get by just Googling something. You're just as likely, probably more likely, to come up with garbage information. The difference at Wikipedia is that it's been reviewed by many eyes, and it's not under the sole control of some random dude with who has a web page.

Users should, of course, be aware of the potential for bad information. In fact, I'd recommend to any user who hasn't yet, you should read their What Wikipedia Is Not [wikipedia.org] page.

Serious doubts! (2, Funny)

dorkygeek (898295) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822018)

Some people do have really serious doubts [uncyclopedia.org] about the credibility of wikipedia [wikipedia.org] content.

On the other hand, wikipedia people do have doubts about these other lads [wikipedia.org] as well. Hmmm, looks like circular distrust to me...

Not written like an encyclopedia should be (1)

afay (301708) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822022)

Here's a classic example that I just came upon (from the Mythical Man Month page [wikipedia.org] ):

Though Brooks does not outright say it, he clearly implies in the book that he favors contract workers by suggesting that implementers may only be hired once the architecture of the system has been completed (a step that may take several months, during which time the implementers may have nothing to do). It stands to reason then that if written today, Brooks might have written in favor of outsourcing software jobs in the United States to third world countries where programmer salaries are much lower.

The author of this section is basically guessing as to what Brooks would think about outsourcing. If it's not a fact, it doesn't belong in an encyclopedia. Brooks may very well be in favor of outsourcing, but he doesn't say it in his book and therefore saying "it stands to reason" that he is is plain wrong.

I think wikipedia is interesting reading and very useful, but especially on less popular pages, there are tons of problems when compared with a real encyclopedia.

fact is fiction (1)

moviepig.com (745183) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822026)

Shouldn't all "authoritative information" come with a caveat emptor? Wikipedia's flaw may not be quality-shortfall, but merely incorrect product-labeling ...inasmuch as it's not academia-vetted scripture. But remember, pharmacological-grade precision isn't always foremost in a user's mind...

Some possible solutions (1)

axonal (732578) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822029)

Perhaps I form of meta moderation should take place. For example, if a major change to an entry in wikipedia is detected, its flagged for group moderation/voting. The old and new is shown, and users would vote for which entry seems most accurate. Either that, or when a major change is detected, the previous author and the new author have to delegate between old and new changes. If the old author feels that the information submitted by the new author is an acceptable change to what he has written, he can approve it... or the two can work things out to reach something acceptable. Or, remove the ability to edit/remove text completely and only allow appending information, this would be quite inefficient though as you would have an entire length of information on the subject all in one giant block.

Okay. So the Register hates Wikipedia. So? (1)

philovivero (321158) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822041)

I read the article. (I'm sorry. I didn't mean to.)

Basically, you could sum it up like this: "We hate Wikipedia. We will attempt to come up with five clever ways of saying so, because we're Brits, damn you."

I'll only laugh at one of their clever witticisms here: an Encyclopedia should be judged on its worst entries, not its best.

Well, that's just awesome. So set up the definition of how something should be judged so this thing (Wikipedia) you obviously hate will lose out. Clue phone for you: ANYONE CAN ADD TO THE WIKIPEDIA. That means that it's going to have at least one uber-crap article.

How about you make a fair comparison, like the average quality of the 50,000 best articles? Oh? Right. That means Wikipedia would win.

Dumbasses.

Work in Progress (2, Insightful)

SoupIsGood Food (1179) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822049)


Dissatisfaction with the quality of an article in Wikipedia is not a fatal flaw... it's the engine that makes Wikipedia work. If a user needs information on a topic, and the information is incorrect or incomplete or poorly presented, the user will, in some cases, just go out and research what they need to know using other sources... ...and then they'll contribute what they learn back into Wikipedia.

Wikipedia does not hold to the standards of print references because it's not finished. It's a work constantly in progress, and you get to see the work in progress as well as a finished product.

Bearing that in mind, Wikipedia must not be judged by its worst entries, as those entries will be brought up to par eventually... in a few hours or a few years. Bad entries will be made into good entries as the right editor for the job steps forward.

This requires information filtering abilities on the part of the reader, and these abilities have too long been dormant in most readers... in a polished and professional publication, mistakes aren't acknowleged as such. There's even a sentiment that if it's in print, it's an absolute irrefutable fact, rather than the best information available to the publisher.

In Wikipedia, the reader knows that what they are reading is a collection of the best information available to the writers... and they can modify it if they see a mistake, or have more to add to the topic. That sort of dynamic interaction with the source material is very, very powerful, and can lead to a depth impossible in a regular encyclopedia on obscure topics... everything from Hallucigenia [wikipedia.org] to Indian Clubs. [wikipedia.org] Try getting that info out of your Brittanica.

Wikipedia is great as a point of departure for further study. It will, at the very least, provide the reader with a notion of what the scope and nature of the subject is, and the incompleteness and error of the artivle will be corrected as people who know what they're talking about step forward over time.

SoupIsGood Food

Wikipedia (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822050)

Wikipedia provides a good initial starting point to find more information on a subject. It's need to be "balanced" actually skews a lot of the articles because it will list blantanly baseless points of view in the interest of "fairness" and "balance". I wouldn't write a University thesus with Wikipedia being a primary source but I would write a high school essay. It's "good enough" for that and it's pretty broad in the subjects it covers and although often not 100% accurate it's "good enough" to start with.

This article sucks (1)

Viking Coder (102287) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822066)

It starts out "Yes it's garbage, but it's delivered so much faster!"

Then, "Encouraging signs from the Wikipedia project, where co-founder and überpedian Jimmy Wales has acknowledged there are real quality problems with the online work."

And later, "This isn't promising."

Well, which is it? Encouraging, or non-promising? He don't sound like much of a friend of the project. He spends his entire article spewing napalm everywhere, and apparently never actually talked with Jim Wales to give him a chance to respond.

The guy is apparently taking one post [wikipedia.org] , and using this as a sign of victory for the apparent hordes who believe that "it's garbage."

Fine, Andrew Orlowski, you don't like it. We get it. But you're not much of a journalist, either.

P.S. all of your analogies about chefs and food are crap, too. You could easily have taken the time to fix your precious Baby Washington entry. If everyone who cares took a minute to fix a bad article they cared about, guess what? There wouldn't be too many bady articles that anybody cared about.

P.P.S. next time you feel like bashing a huge project supported only by charity and selfless contributions, you might want to reconsider. Yes, the glass is half-empty, but it's also half-full, you dink.

Orlowski rant (1)

roca (43122) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822073)

This is another Andrew Orlowski rant. He has a chip on his shoulder on a whole range of subjects and is generally not to be trusted.

For example, he has a vendetta against Google, and seems to regard Google as a less trustworthy company than even Microsoft. Google certainly isn't perfect but it sure doesn't have Microsoft's track record.

Hitchhiker's Guide to Planet Earth (3, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822074)

The articles may be wrong, but where they are, they are DEFINITIVELY wrong. On the other hand, there are many articles that are genuinely accurate, very readable and thoroughly researched. Usually, these are for arcane subjects, obscure villages and hamlets, etc. In other words, stuff that only a very self-selecting few would ever know enough to discover the page on, never mind edit!


A case in point is the Wikipedia page on the village of Mellor [wikipedia.org] , a small village that has languished on the edge of obscurity for 14,000 years and I'd swear it still had some of its original inhabitants walking around. The odds of there being more than two or three on Slashdot who have ever been there is virtually nil.


Because of the limited editing it gets, the accuracy is probably higher than normal. HOWEVER, any inaccuracy probably lasts longer than normal, for the same reason.


Pages that get edited frequently probably lose errors a lot faster, but gain new ones equally fast. In that sense, it is no different from computer programming, where rapid development cycles create as many (or more) bugs than they fix - although, they're usually different bugs the next time round.


I think Wikipedia would benefit from some sort of development cycle, where an "in progress" copy of the article is maintained, then occasionally snapshotted to create the "official" copy. For "non real-time" articles, I would suggest that pages not significantly edited for, say, 36 or 72 hours be treated as a "final revision". (A minor alteration would be the adding/removing of symbols such as commas and apostrophes.)


This would give you the "anyone can edit" freewheeling anarchy of the current system, the live, raw feel that some apparently crave, and yet also provide a version that has some semblance of consent behind it, something that maybe isn't perfect but is good enough for now. It's not exactly QA, in the usual sense, but it's still QA, in that you've got to not find any showstoppers within some deadline.


A "traditional"(!) wikipedia with deliberately de-synchronised mainstream version would probably not be the best solution, but I honestly can't think of a better one while keeping the current approach.

Wikipedia is regularly cited on slashdot threads (1)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822083)

Why do people, particularly slashdotters, keep citing wikipedia articles as if everything in there is fact? So much that's there is inaccurate and much of it is slanted to serve the contributer's particular agenda. I've even seen on another message board, somebody was arguing with another poster about some issue, and during the argument he added an article to wikipedia supporting his own side, then cited that article in a post to the message board as if it were some third party authority backing him up! LOL

Most wikipedia articles that I've seen have some kernel of truth but the articles that deal with debatable issues normally present only one side of the issue.

What about the losers? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13822102)

Wikipedia is lame, that's beyond the question.
What is more interesting is why are thousands of people worldwide wasting time on a hopeless shovelware project owned by one person?
(See also: "Welcome to Ziopedia [wikipedia.org] ")

It's still usefull (1)

Jookey (604878) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822118)

Wikipedia is one of the most usefull resources out there. I couldent remember the name of Versachis killer. I went to wikipedia and looked up fashon, then went to a list of designers(i forgot how to spell versachi), then to a biography of versachi, and then to an article on his murderer. this took me about two minutes. It would have taken alot longer using google or a lybrarian. Wikipedia is one of the best systems of organising information. Its like yahoo on crack.

Terrible journalism going on here (2, Insightful)

timster (32400) | more than 8 years ago | (#13822145)

Ok, so we have The Register with an article "Wikipedia founder admits to serious quality problems". The article consists mostly of unsubstantiated Wikipedia bashing. There is only one sentence which discusses anything the Wikipedia founder actually said -- and that is only in reference to two specific articles, not the project as a whole. Besides, it was a comment on a Wikipedia mailing list.

Slashdot, of course, turns the headline into "Wikipedia founder sees serious quality problems", as if Zonk didn't RTFA. There's a constant dialogue about where Wikipedia is good and where it is bad on Wikipedia mailing lists. Nothing has changed.

The Register's real point in the article is a propaganda one: the concept that "an encyclopedia is only as good as its worst article". Puh-leeze. That's an insult to the intelligence of readers, as if we can't tell when we are reading gold and when we are reading crap. Then again, maybe that's a problem for regular readers of The Register.
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