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When Wikipedia Fails

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the just-as-many-edits-on-the-right-side-of-the-table dept.

513

PetManimal writes "Frank Ahrens of The Washington Post looks at how Wikipedia stumbles when entries for controversial people are altered by partisan observers. Case in point: Enron's Kenneth Lay, who died of natural causes last week, shortly after being sentenced to prison. His Wikipedia entry was altered repeatedly to include unfounded rumors that he had killed himself, or the stress from his trial had caused the heart attack. From the article: '... Here's the dread fear with Wikipedia: It combines the global reach and authoritative bearing of an Internet encyclopedia with the worst elements of radicalized bloggers. You step into a blog, you know what you're getting. But if you search an encyclopedia, it's fair to expect something else. Actual facts, say. At its worst, Wikipedia is an active deception, a powerful piece of agitprop, not information.'"

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How much editorial oversight is enough? (5, Interesting)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694566)

There are a number of sites that are based on user-submitted data. One that immediately comes to mind is the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com [imdb.com] ). Now, I'm not intimately familiar with the workings of Wikipedia, but based on TFA, the main difference I see between them and IMDb is that IMDb has a more restrictive additions policy. With IMDb, any registered user can submit information, but every iota of information (aside from some user reviews/comments, which are presented as such) must pass through an editorial review.

Some will say that IMDb has the luxury of doing this, being owned by Amazon. But IMDb has been online since before there really was World Wide Web. It was started in the Usenet newsgroups back in 1990 and didn't get a web interface until a Welsh grad student built one in 1993. They have always exercised editorial oversight and did so even back when they were a loose group of volunteers with no funding to speak of.

It used to be that IMDb's structure made it less than nimble in responding to breaking news because of an involved and complicated build process. But over the years, more modularization and granularity have been built into their systems. But even if they're right on the forefront of a news event, their editors and data managers are scrutinizing what becomes part of their "official" record.

Now, people try to trick IMDb, flood them with wrong facts and bad info. Sometimes a bit gets by their editors. But the bits still have to go by an editor before they become publicly visible. AFAICT, this isn't the case with WikiPedia and that is its fatal flaw. And it's not just the wackos and those with an agenda that need to be guarded against. More damage can be done by a cadre of well-meaning fools than a handful of agitators. And it seems that even if they need to defend their systems against the axe grinders, they need to put double the effort into defending against fools.

Maybe I'm comparing apples to oranges since IMDb is a lot more narrow in scope than WikiPedia. But they're both large repositories of user-submitted information, they both started as volunteer projects, and they're both widely regarded as great resources. The difference is that IMDb has always exercised more editorial oversight before letting user submissions go live, and IMO, that makes it more trustworthy. Perhaps Wikipedia should take a page from IMDb's book.

- Greg

Re:How much editorial oversight is enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15694595)

I wish instead of editorial oversight, you had editorial "tagging".

For example, Wikipedia could remain as quick-moving as it was when any AC could change the "latest" version, but I wish old versions were "tagged" as "accurate" by "editors".

In that way if you find an editor you trust, you can see the possibly-out-of-date but fact-checked version; or if you want the most current (but possibly wrong) version you could get that too.

Kinda like getting the last "released" vs the "nightly build" version of software.

Anyone know why wikipedia doesn't do that?

Re:How much editorial oversight is enough? (2, Informative)

sbaker (47485) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694723)

For example, Wikipedia could remain as quick-moving as it was when any AC could change the "latest" version, but I wish old versions were "tagged" as "accurate" by "editors".

Actually, that DOES happen. Featured articles are tagged at the release they were reviewed at.

Re:How much editorial oversight is enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15694798)

Does a group of editors systematically tag all the articles at some point.


I'd love it if Wikipedia had a "last fact-checked" version as well as a "latest" version.

Re:How much editorial oversight is enough? (5, Interesting)

Durrok (912509) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694623)

I have a better idea, one that is easy for everyone to implement. Wikipedia is the encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Treat it as such.

Re:How much editorial oversight is enough? (5, Insightful)

sbaker (47485) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694643)

So look up pairs of movies in IMDB and Wikipedia and see which has the best coverage. I think Wikipedia wins every time...especially for new releases.

Movies are easy to get right - it's politics and religion and controversial stuff that's hard to do well. You can't get the sheer volume of stuff that Wikipedia has by reviewing everything. Wikipedia is growing at a rate significantly faster than a human can read - no one person could read it all - much less review it.

Wikipedia grows by 50,000 articles a month. If your hypothetical reviewer reviewed a couple of articles a day - Wikipedia would need over 1,000 reviewers - some of whom would have to be experts in extremely narrow fields. It's all very well to have a few movie buffs keep track of a few dozen movie facts per day - but the only way to handle a problem the size of Wikipedia is to have the general public do the reviewing as well as the writing - which is precisely what happens.

Re:How much editorial oversight is enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15694748)

What they should do is have a version of Wikipedia that has already been verified by a community of editors. So, a process similar to the following would take place:

1) General population would add/modify/remove entries on Wikipedia with public-editing capabilities.
2) A second Wikipedia would be set-up where only a group of editors would have write-access to the content. The editors would periodically compare the two versions of Wikipedia and commit the "good" information from the publicly-edited version to the restricted version.

Re:How much editorial oversight is enough? (4, Insightful)

Tatsh (893946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694783)

What they should do is have a version of Wikipedia that has already been verified by a community of editors. So, a process similar to the following would take place:

1) General population would add/modify/remove entries on Wikipedia with public-editing capabilities.
2) A second Wikipedia would be set-up where only a group of editors would have write-access to the content. The editors would periodically compare the two versions of Wikipedia and commit the "good" information from the publicly-edited version to the restricted version.


That would not make any sense from a Wiki standpoint. The second is not a Wikipedia or Wiki at all, it's a private organization publishing information. Who gets access? "Scholars," "Historians," people with PhD's only? People with an IQ of 180 or more?

Re:How much editorial oversight is enough? (-1, Troll)

Tatsh (893946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694758)

IMDb still sucks ass.

Too recent & controversial for an encyclopedia (5, Interesting)

sbaker (47485) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694568)

I would agree that Wikipedia is poor at reporting stories that are both recent AND controversial - but to be fair, I don't think those are the kinds of things you should be looking up in an encyclopedia anyway. Look back at this same article in six months and I guarantee it'll be correct and unbiassed. It just takes time for the community to settle on the right wording.

Things that are NOT recent but ARE controversial ('Religion' or 'Area 51'for example) are generally well written, correct and take a carefully neutral stance. Things that are recent but NOT controversial (say "2006 World Cup Soccer") are well reported immediately and bang up to date with all the right facts.

It's the intersection of recent and controversial that messes up the system because too many people are editing at once and a lot of them are nut jobs. Once the topic gets old or becomes uncontroversial, the lunatic fringe loses interest and good writing can take place.

On the other hand, if you want to know the engine capacity of a 1963 Austin Min
i or the number of casualties in the RAF Faulds explosion or the exact nature o
f the student prank involving the Bridge of Sighs in Cambridge or the size of a
  litter of European Red Squirrels - things that I consult an encyclopedia for rather than a newspaper - then there is no other place (on the web or otherwise) to touch what Wikipedia has done.

Re:Too recent & controversial for an encyclope (5, Insightful)

B'Trey (111263) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694633)

Well said. Additionally, the article doesn't support the headline. There were only a couple of bogus entries and those were corrected within one or two minutes. The article also takes issue with statements like: "Speculation as to the cause of the heart attack lead many people to believe it was due to the amount of stress put on him by the Enron trial." Where's the problem with that statement? It's clearly labeled as speculation, and many people, rightly or wrongly, still believe the stress of the trial led to his heart attack. Perhaps such speculations are best left out of Wikipedia articles, but one can't reasonably argue that it's incorrect or misleading when it's clearly listed as speculation. In short, this is a desparate attempt to nit-pick Wikipedia and it even fails at that.

Re:Too recent & controversial for an encyclope (4, Insightful)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694744)

The sentence violates several of the Wiki community's guidelines for article authorship. Using the word "speculation" is not enough. There has to be a credible source cited to be behind the speculation so that the "fact" of the speculation can be established as either belonging to a majority or significant minority. Otherwise the sentence is reporting nothing more than an individual opinion(whether it is the author's or not, or whether it belongs to many people) and can slant the overall impartiality of the article - simply mentioning such speculation can skew a future reader's opinion of the subject of the article. In any case, it's way too soon to tell what the concensus is regarding Lay's death, so remarking on such speculation as fact is ridiculous.

Re:Too recent & controversial for an encyclope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15694657)

Agreed. Even today's earlier post [slashdot.org] about the power-law decay of interest in web news supports the fact: hype has a characteristic decay. If you've heard about it on the morning news, don't believe the wikipedia entry. 'Nuff said.

Re:Too recent & controversial for an encyclope (5, Insightful)

Elemenope (905108) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694663)

I would agree that Wikipedia is poor at reporting stories that are both recent AND controversial - but to be fair, I don't think those are the kinds of things you should be looking up in an encyclopedia anyway.

The comment above is just the sort of comment that deserves a few 'insightful' mod points. Sometimes, pointing out the blindingly obvious is difficult when people so desperately want things to be something other than what they are. Wikipedia is, at best, something *like* an encyclopedia, and as such should serve similar purposes. Some people think that somehow there is a way to take the human element and passion out of a user-contributed site, or any site, or any work or endeavor of humankind for that matter. There isn't. Let us simply understand that you can't have the factual accuracy and neutrality of an encyclopedia for something that occurred yesterday; technology alters the quantity and speed of information, not its quality. If you want neutrality, you must wait for cooler (and further removed) heads to prevail.

This article explained (4, Insightful)

linvir (970218) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694718)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Troll#Attent ion-seeking_trolls [wikipedia.org]

Intentionally posting an outrageous argument, deliberately constructed around a fundamental but obfuscated flaw or error.

Troll article -> Slashdot links to it -> Lots of pageviews -> More ad clicks -> Profit

To be fair (3, Insightful)

sterno (16320) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694684)

Also, Wikipedia marks articles that involve current events and controversey as such to make it clear that it's not necessarily an objective and concise source of information. So long as they are forthright about that, I don't see a problem.

Re:Too recent & controversial for an encyclope (2, Insightful)

Fordiman (689627) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694710)

You're exactly right, you know. Anything recent and controversial on wikipedia is very likely inaccurate - and most users find this out pretty quickly, whether through common sense (ie: you have regular people editing articles) or through experience (such as this Ken Lay thing).

As a result, you quickly get the idea that WIKIPEDIA IS NOT FOR NEWS. Meanwhile, the author of TFA seems to be under the impression that its information should always be bang-on accurate immediately. This ain't gonna happen. Just like the collective consciousness, any event that's got the masses riled up is going to be poorly portrayed in its opening hours. Fortunately, the strength of Wikipedia is that, soon enough, its accuracy is recovered.

A good example is the Ken Lay thing. Take a look at it today; it's pretty accurate at the moment. This may change; a lot people are still pissed about the guy, even years later.

Winston Churchill (2, Interesting)

Skadet (528657) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694725)

Look back at this same article in six months and I guarantee it'll be correct and unbiassed.
"History is written by the victors." - Winston Churchill

Re:Winston Churchill (1)

sbaker (47485) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694754)

"History is written by the victors." - Winston Churchill

People with good writing skills win battles. - Me,

Re:Too recent & controversial for an encyclope (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694732)

Thank you. Perfectly said. Now I don't have to say it.

Is it just me... (0, Redundant)

ChowRiit (939581) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694569)

...or has this come up before on Slashdot?

Uh-oh (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15694577)

So does this mean I will need to rewrite my senior thesis on the growth of global corportate networks sourced entirely from wikipedia?

Submittor is wrong... (1)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694581)

The person submitting the story is even wrong. As far as I know and what I read last week when the story broke, they said sentencing wasn't until October.

Square peg, round hole. (5, Insightful)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694592)

You don't go to Wikipedia to learn things about actively controversial subjects. You go to Wikipedia to learn things that nobody cares to dispute. Like science, math and biology. Or even history.

If there's significant controversey, it'll usually get its own section on a page.

Re:Square peg, round hole. (2, Informative)

mkosmo (768069) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694619)

As I recall, Wikipedia is consistantly more accurate on concrete subjects (ie. minimally disputed science and academics) than published encyclopedias, so yes, very true.

Re:Square peg, round hole. (1, Troll)

Mr_Tulip (639140) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694688)

I went to wiki to search for a household item substitute for thermal compound to replace a CPU on a spare motherboard, and it suggested nappy rash cream. Since we have a rug-rat, and therefore loads of nappy rash cream, I (st00pidly) decided to try it out.

Let's just say that at least in modern processors, I definately DO NOT recommend anything but actual thermal compound, and wikipedia owes me $50.

Re:Square peg, round hole. (2, Funny)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694702)

"I am an idiot."

Brought to you by the Slashdot Post Translation Service.

Re:Square peg, round hole. (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694717)

Eh?

Where'd you get a modern processor for $50?

Re:Square peg, round hole. (1)

Mr_Tulip (639140) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694729)

I found the motherboard and processor on the street in a local council cleanup - the $50 is what I was going to sell the PC for :)

Re:Square peg, round hole. (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694736)

Ah. And which Wikipedia article did you reference?

Re:Square peg, round hole. (1)

Mr_Tulip (639140) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694779)

I no longer remember (it was a while ago) but I think it was Thermal Grease [wikipedia.org] . No mention of the nappy rash cream, so it's either been edited out or I can't find the correct article anymore.

Re:Square peg, round hole. (1)

Mr_Tulip (639140) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694746)

Call it karma, if you will :)

Re:Square peg, round hole. (1)

PB_TPU_40 (135365) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694774)

Or really cool April Fools jokes [wikipedia.org] .
It made my mom happy, she was beginning to think that the holiday was dead, she never really saw or heard of any joke. She'd see the stuff me and my friends would do, but thats just peanuts. Google redoing Area 51, now thats awesome!

Wikipedia touches on whats needed (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694593)

The management and presentation of data on wikipedia is good, but it should be built upon.
Just like we have meta moderations and discussion2 (some of us) to filter the good from the bad, so should wikipedia.

Let the viewer decide if they want neutral POV articles, whether they want partisan tagged elements, personal facts, myths and gossip or just the facts.

Wikipedia SHOULD be open to everyone and whilst we strive for equality and "as-one" its quite easy to see cultural differences happen, political, religious, fanatical and personal elements combine to mean something slightly different to the reader of that article (vi vs emacs anyone *).

Inserting sections of football club preference (calling your town rivals rubbish for instance) into it should allow all local supporters to see an informative and possibly illuminating article with a bias towards supporting the local team.
A person viewing the same page from (for instance) another country doesn't really have a bias toward either team so just wants the facts.
And finally a person from the other side of town supporting the opposing team, they also want some bias but with a different focus.

However this is not what wikipedia strives for, the current overlords want none point of view. With everyone in the world having a point of view, boiling the information down so all parties are happy can be difficult.

Since all the information is given from local interested parties we of course would expect biased information. The supporters of the opposing team will be up in arms when a none neutral portion is added and an edit war will commence.
If they could all insert they bias and mark the others in a similar way, then BOTH viewpoints can remain and yet the information presented is proper and correct.

* I use notepad but pine for a port of the amiga version of CygnusEd.

Truth is subjectivity? (-1, Troll)

abscissa (136568) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694597)

Wikipedia is rediculous: the idea that truth is somehow like Schrodinger's box, where the possibility of observing the truth is dependent on the precise time you visit a certain page and which edit you look at, is absolutely absurd.

Re:Truth is subjectivity? (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694630)

The idea that you observe the truth by reading anyone's interpretation of it is absurd. All truth is subjective when it comes from someone else. It's only objective when observed at first hand and not even reliably objective even then.

 

Re:Truth is subjectivity? (2, Insightful)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694680)

Do you state that all truth is subjective as an objective truth?

That said, when you look at Wikipedia, you should be checking the references. If there are no footnotes or a references section on a Wikipedia article, read the article with interest but don't trust it for anything.

Re:Truth is subjectivity? (1)

Chmcginn (201645) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694792)

If there are no footnotes or a references section on a Wikipedia article, read the article with interest but don't trust it for anything.

And if there are references, it's probably a good idea to check and see that they're actually quoted / paraphrased correctly.

Re:Truth is subjectivity? (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694685)

Observable situations can't ever be said to be "objective facts". This was Hume's problem with induction (and similarly the problem Hobbes had with the science of his time). It will never be an objective fact that all swans are white, because it is untrue, but if you had only ever seen white swans you might (erroneously) believe this to be the case... if you had seen millions of white swans you might feel pretty confident with it, but it would still be wrong.

Similarly you can't ever say that wikipedia is a repository of objective facts, becuase there is no such thing... Although if I wasn't nit-picking I would say that you could always say that when the topic wasn't controversial it didn't contain information which we explicitly know to be false

Re:Truth is subjectivity? (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694642)

This is precisely the reason that Brittanica still reports that, "Mentally the negro is inferior to the white[. . .]".

Oh, wait, human knowledge isn't static.

-Peter

Re:Truth is subjectivity? (1)

whathappenedtomonday (581634) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694730)

> Brittanica still reports that, "Mentally the negro is inferior to the white[. . .]".


you sure?

as far as I can gather, that was the 11th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1910-11).

>Oh, wait, human knowledge isn't static.

Quite right. That might be the reason for WP's success, because it's built to represent that fact.

Re:Truth is subjectivity? (1)

sbaker (47485) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694709)

Wikipedia is not ridiculous if you use it like you would a big, heavy 40 volume paper encyclopedia. That's what it's for. If you want news go to the BBC or NYTimes or something.

If you look up something that's been known for more than a few months - the facts are there - they are about as reliable as any paper encyclopedia (this has been well established in MANY independent tests) - and the coverage is vastly better than any paper encyclopedia...particularly on subjects considered too low-brow or too high-brow for paper encyclopedias.

What Wikipedia isn't good at is as a newspaper. There simply isn't time for the community editing process to settle down for something as recent and controversial as Ken Lay's death. Come back in a few months - I personally guarantee that this page will be well researched, annotated with references for you to go and check if you desire and quite stable.

Re:Truth is subjectivity? (1)

Fordiman (689627) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694753)

There's a difference between universal 'truth' and human knowledge. Human knowlegde is based on the exact instance you query for it. Wikipedia deals in this, not truth.

If you're looking for some universal thruths, go find religion. Otherwise, take anything you read or hear with at least a grain of salt and at most a kilogram of driveway grit.

Re:Truth is subjectivity? (1)

inKubus (199753) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694796)

What is truth anyway?

Look at the article for Sept. 11th. In the Britannica, there would be a factual story based on "official" commentary, "official" statements, etc. In Wikipedia, you get the little additional fact at the bottom: Some groups believe in a non-official conclusion that the planes were not piloted by Muslim/Arab terrorists.

Now, in Britannica, they couldn't say that, largely because a lot of their funding comes from Governments (public school libraries, etc.) so they can't go against the official stance of the government. Wikipedia isn't SAYING anything, just stating a neutral fact that some people don't believe the official stance, which is in this case "closer to the truth" of the world than not mentioning it.

You see, just because you don't like something and turn your back to it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. There ARE hundreds of thousands of people who DON'T BELIEVE. Whether they are right or not, well, that's in doubt. But the mere mention is not saying one way or the other, merely acknowledging the debate (no matter how crazy).

A BAD Wikipedia entry would be one which states that anything is a fact about 9/11, one way or the other, and not allow any debate. Once everything is settled (and it never will, because all evidence was trucked away in a few weeks after, melted down, etc.), people will stop changing the page and it'll be "truth" more or less.

So, really, Wikipedia is probably closer to the real truth of the world (ie: a picture of the actual world in words) than anything else (on average). At any given moment, you could be reading total shit. But the beauty is that if it IS total shit, and you KNOW it, you can edit the page and fix it!

Now, what gets my goat is the alleged tampering with historical fact that sometimes happens. For instance, congressional staffers "editing" their congressperson's page to erase factual, but possibly negative information. I think people who do that should be fired. It does go to show how far campaigns work to cover up the truth. "Campaign financing" is really just cover-up money used to erase a politician's bad past deeds. But, I digress.

Long term, not short term for wikipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15694598)

The whole point of wikipedia is not to be instantaneously accurate at every single second of the day. The whole point of it is to use the entire weight of the Internet to amass data. Just like Warren Buffet, he may have a day where his stocks go down, but over the long term, he goes up and he became a billionaire with that method. It's the same with wikipedia... Yes, maybe for a few days or weeks, there may be discrepencies and people trying to pollute entries, but over the long haul, the collective mass and wits of the Internet will win, and you can expect the information to be accurate.

In a few weeks or months, the entries for Ken Lay will stabilize and the truth will reign supreme, just like every other topic, except maybe religion.

Re:Long term, not short term for wikipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15694690)

Correct; there should be a mandatory cooling-off period for topics on Wikipedia. No one should be able to describe events that happened within the past 30 days, in my opinion. Any such comments should be considered abuse. An encyclopedia is not a newspaper, much less an editorial page.

I'm not buying it. (5, Insightful)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694603)

You step into Wikipedia, you understand what's up.
You know it's not a peer-reviewed encyclopedia. It's a WIKIpedia.
You know anyone, including you, can edit it.

Whenever you read up on a controversial topic, you expect controversial results... would a traditional encyclopedia even HAVE information about some enron executive? I doubt it.

Let's not make controversy where there is none.. wikipedia is a stunning example of what the internet is good at.

Re:I'm not buying it. (1)

MS-06FZ (832329) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694766)

I think the story provides an interesting perspective, though: it assumes the weight and authority of an encyclopedia, but it is dangerously prone to misinformation, whether it's intentional misinformation or just popular-but-ill-founded ideas.

I like how you describe Wikipedia's strength, as a kind of harvesting of everything people have to contribute... The problem is what happens after that harvesting? I think the potential for misinformation is too serious to ignore or to handle in a purely defensive way. Perhaps after an article is sufficiently mature it should no longer be subject to the fully open collaborative process that allows fresh articles to mature as quickly as they do.

WP is self-correcting (5, Insightful)

Dr. Zowie (109983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694606)

The advantage of WP isn't that it's right all the time, it's that it is (through the tireless effort of zillions of people on five-minute breaks) self-correcting. When the AP screwed up their Ken Lay story, it took overnight before a retraction was posted. WP's story is screwed up for 5-20 minutes at a time.

The mainstream media are almost equally susceptible to being hacked -- even if you don't follow wingnuts like Rush Limbaugh or the insane propaganda and political fart-lighting on Fox News, it's not hard to spot gross errors or oversights in news reporting. "Unbiased" news doesn't exist, investigative reporting isn't anymore, and the media circus is just that -- a circus. Wikipedia may be raw, uncensored, or wrong, but at least it tends to correct itself rapidly.

For what it's worth, the science articles are rapidly becoming the most comprehensive archive of science knowledge ever aimed at the general public. (Of course the refereed literature is larger, but it's not a reference work for the layperson).

Re:WP is self-correcting (1)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694659)

I agree with this sentiiment. No "encyclopedia" is going to be infallible. They are all subject to the bias of the person(s) writing the articles. The beauty of wikipedia is that as that number of authors grows, gross bias is less likely to survive review. So it may be subject to short-term pendulum swings in terms of inaccuracy, but I find that to be preferable to a room full of "editors" deciding what is the truth. Perhaps they can find some way of calculating the "newness" of information bits to help users judge which topics are "too hot" to be adequately reviewed and therefore considered "true" yet.

Meh. (1)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694607)

I find that for satisfying my own curiosity about things where factual accuracy is appreciated but not vital, such as the general nature, history, and operation of air-to-air missiles, Wikepedia is a powerful and satisfying tool.

For all other purposes, I generally ignore Wikipedia altogether.

I've always been ... (1)

SlashDev (627697) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694613)

skeptical about such information. When I first started using, I was shocked to see that anyone could alter the content.

Re:I've always been ... (4, Insightful)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694727)

If you're not similarly skeptical about information in the rest of the media, you're naive.

Hearing the tech reporting on the news is pretty scary. I imagine it's similarly painful for experts in other fields to hear their field discussed by reporters.

There's an expression that idiots don't understand (4, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694615)

and that is, "consider the source." If someone is dumb enough to believe uncorroborated reports without any kind of consideration for the fact that the reporter could be wrong, lying, misinformed, or promoting an agenda then they get what they get.

The Internet is a great resource. Wikipedia has been very good for helping me find new things to be interested in, but it's not the end solution. If anything it's the beginning and the beginning only. I use Wikipedia to find out that I want to learn more about a subject, and from there, once I have had a chance to consult or read from true experts then I can make my judgement.

'Bout time someone called BS on that shit pile (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15694617)

'nuff said.

I am no nut but... (-1, Offtopic)

a_greer2005 (863926) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694618)

his death seemed WAY too conveniant, I am not a conspiricy theorist, but the man had friends in high places, and money to buy any "friends" he may have needed to fake it and move to the tropics or something...

Re:I am no nut but... (4, Funny)

chundo (587998) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694678)

I am not a conspiricy theorist...

Now you are. Congratulations on the shiny new hat.

Re:I am no nut but... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694789)

Indeed. I had not realized that wearable Faraday shielding had become so popular.

Unable to understand that apples are not oranges (4, Insightful)

finkployd (12902) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694629)

This is simply a case of people not being able to understand that wikipedia is not the exact same thing as Britannic. You have to look at the talk page, you have to hit a few revisions if you want to be comfortable about the accuracy of data. At times I have learned more reading the debate back and forth of two opposing viewpoints than the entry itself.

Unfortunately, people think in metaphors. Well, that is not so bad in itself, but people often seem unable to get beyond the metaphor and understand that some things are not exactly like anything they are familiar with. Case in point, how many people equate hacking into a website with breaking into a house? Or infringing on a copyright with stealing a car? This is just another case of people unable or unwilling to appreciate that wikipedia is unique and cannot be treated like a traditional encyclopedia.

Finkployd

Encyclopedia (2, Insightful)

sleepykit (942636) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694632)

As far as I know, one does not check an encyclopedia for things that have happened in the last couple of weeks. That's why we have newspapers (online and otherwise).

It doesn't matter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15694638)

The problem with this article is that it assumes people do not have skill at dealing with Wikipedia. I think that's not really the case... much as people develop skills at reading blogs and newspapers, people develop skills at reading Wikipedia. Like much of the rest of life, a properly-tuned BS detector is required to separate the wheat from... what used to be wheat, right?

And people develop these BS detectors, so its not a big deal. We're not children, we can actually do a fairly good job of sorting out correct information in an unreliable world.

Wikipedia is for reference, it's not a news site. (4, Insightful)

Spluge (888605) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694639)

You don't expect the encyclopaedia on your shelf to be up to date and accurate on something that happened half an hour ago. Wikipedia was never intended as a news service, anyone who treats it like one is going to be sorely disappointed.

The role of Wikipedia is for reference, give it time and the information there settles down to the truth or at least something close to it.

Don't ask it to be something that it isn't any you won't be disappointed.

natural causes or heart attack? (1)

mshurpik (198339) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694646)

> who died of natural causes last week

What's the story? Slashdot and Ken's lawyer are reporting natural causes. The MSM is reporting a heart attack. Maybe the reason Wikipedia is writing controversial articles is because there's a controversy?

Re:natural causes or heart attack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15694720)

What does a man's sexual preference [everything2.com] have to do with news reporting?

Re:natural causes or heart attack? (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694786)

Its only natural to die when the air bubble finally makes its way to your heart. Didn't RAH once comment that, in the end, cause of death is almost always attributable to heart failure?

Add a stability value to a page? (1)

MDMurphy (208495) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694655)

When a Wikipedia page gets controversial and wild swings in the content are being made, there's usually a warning of disputes at the top of the page. Maybe an additional bit of information could be a stability index. How much of the page has changed, both recently, and over time. In the utopian Wikipedia world, a topic might go through several changes as the wording is refined, sources cited and then eventually settling down. A value or other indicator might be a handy thing. You could always read the page history, but many people wouldn't. They might if the topic was marked "in flux".

This would be handy even if the topic wasn't being disputed (yet) but substantial changes had recently been made and therefore had less review by others.

Despite major swings in the content of a story, Wikipedia is very useful when it gives you more information that can aid you in additional research. Even with a dead tree encyclopedia, relying on a single source when doing research would be bad. But with even a questionable source and an unfamiliar topic you may glean additional information needed to start new queries.

Every "authoritative" source is like this... (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694656)

History books are written by the winners. Science publications/journals are prone to politics and following groupthink on the currently theories in vogue, with scientist throwing out facts to fit their models. And lets not even begin the popular media.

Just don't believe everything you read anywhere, think for yourself.

And wiki is a good source to begin your search on a topic you knew nothing about. It improved searching for quick facts or overviews on a topic by orders of a magnitude rather than the tedious method of sifting through all the useless keyword sites on a search engine.

*Sigh* Some days it seems that if .. (1)

Entropy (6967) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694660)

.. wikipedia had a penny for everyone who bashed it, the wikipedia organization would be richer than Gates.

I for one cherish WP, and use it as a jumping point for most anything. It's probably my second most referenced general research tool after google.

The thing is, those who bash it are rarely saying anything all that new, and certainly nothing new to anyone who uses WP on a regular basis ..

Every (honest) caveat that these bashers stipulate is pretty much a gimme - but the real issue is, is this not true for ALL information sources which you have not personally fact checked? What one shouldn't look at in terms of the end result is not so much "who gets to edit", but what the over all process is. WP's process ensures a high signal to noise ratio, even though the noise itself may sometimes be worse than other sources. In terms of editorial policy, WP answers the long asked question "who watches the watchers" with a resounding "WE do!"; thus far I have faith in this process - and near as I can tell, I always will.

Criticising Wikipedia for getting the news wrong (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694661)

Seems rather like criticising today's newspaper for being less than forthcoming on the Long-tailed Planigale [wikipedia.org] . Horses for courses....

No. 1 reason wikipedia sucks: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15694664)

Retarded christian fairytales in science articles in the name of "NPOV".

I can agree with that (1)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694665)

At its worst, Wikipedia is an active deception, a powerful piece of agitprop, not information.

Certainly it is true. Also, at their worst, people are active deceivers, powerful tyrants, not saints.

Wikipedia is a good resource for getting your foot in the door on a topic, but it is imperfect just as people are imperfect. If you take it for what it is, it does no harm.

It is true that the worst sides of humanity are able to emerge when there is little oversight. But it may also be true that the best sides can emerge under the same circumstances.

I had enough, even as a vandal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15694666)

I am one of the long term vandals of the project. I actuall tried some good faith edits and I didn't last a day due to the idiocy of the editors. I had some sad college student vandalizing various articles I had written. Wikipedia was always a good concept, but the reality is that it is full of fancruft, POV, trolling and thosands of unwikified articles dumped by lazy editors, and who ever trys to get it cleaned up gets harrassed by deletionsts with no life.

I support vandals like Willy on Wheels, Celing Cat, Pelican Shit, Juggernaught Bitch, Marmot and all the other big vandals. Keep up the big work. I'd also like to say a big get a life to the following "editors"

Astrotrain, Extaordinary Machine, Pilotguy, Essjay, Raul654, Curps, Cyde Mor[w/v]en, Nackoncantri, Tawkerbot2/3/4/5/6 and all the other fuckers I forget! The list of Missing Wikipedians is growing! Even my worst enemies such as Radiant and RickK have left. Takwer will be next. The backlash against his bot will grow

-1, Truth!

A message to everyone! Just move random pages on wheels and get the fuck out of Wikipedia. Anyone who recommends Wikipedia anymore is basically insane.

1.3 Million "articles" my ass. Theres articles on the stupidist of things, yet the deletionists vandalize the real articles to make more room for their fan cruft. Even Thomas The Tank Engine now suffers from fancruft.

If you are still deluded, check out some World Cup related articles. Tons has to be semi-protected such as Zinedane Zidane, Christino Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Portugal and more.

WIKIPEDIA IS A CULT! WIKIPEDIA IS MADNESS! DO NOT CITE IT! IF I WAS YOUR PROFESSOR I'D KICK YOUR ASS RIGHT OUT OF COLLEGE AND SNED YOU CRYING UNTIL YOU FLODDED YOUR ENTIRE HOUSE OUT!

Mod Washington Post down -2 (1)

InakaBoyJoe (687694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694682)

How can an article like this not even mention Wikipedia's various moderation systems?



Of course, if the article itself was editable, someone could go in and fix the omission. But instead we are stuck with Mr. Frank Ahrens' singular agenda of spreading FUD about the whole concept of a community-written reference. Ironic, isn't it?

Of course, you always have to ask... (1)

Sheridan (11610) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694698)

... who is being partisan? (or maybe this comment should have been titled "Case in point, 2")

You could always read the following quote from the above /. article summary:-

Case in point: Enron's Kenneth Lay, who died of natural causes last week, shortly after being sentenced to prison. His Wikipedia entry was altered repeatedly to include unfounded rumors that he had killed himself, or the stress from his trial had caused the heart attack

as itself being partisan in assuming the "rumours" are "unfounded" and the death was owing to "natural causes". Please note that I am not suggesting an opinion either way on the facts of Kenneth Lay's death, only pointing out that accusations of partisanship in the media (including "The Washington Post" and even "Slashdot"!) work both ways!

Speaking of Information... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15694701)

I'm not sure I can consider any article using the word "agitprop" to be information, either.

*shrugs*

Re:Speaking of Information... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694775)

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" or however that goes. If you're gonna complain about someone else's lack of credibility you'd best look to your own first.

What do these people want? (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694707)

You step into a blog, you know what you're getting. But if you search an encyclopedia, it's fair to expect something else. Actual facts, say. At its worst, Wikipedia is an active deception, a powerful piece of agitprop, not information.

I don't understand. Why do people insist on making Wikipedia something that it is not? Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia. It is a Wikipedia. If you know what the term "wiki" means, how can you expect perfect accuracy? If you don't, aren't you curious what those four funny sounding letters out front of "pedia" mean?

Wikipedia is what it is. And it is brilliant for what it is. As far as I know, it is the world's best example of what it is - it is it's own archetype. Isn't that enough?

Re:What do these people want? (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694794)

Someone should probably let Wikipedia know that they're not an encyclopedia... At the top of the Main Page:

Welcome to Wikipedia,
the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

Re:What do these people want? (1)

CheddarHead (811916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694800)

I don't understand. Why do people insist on making Wikipedia something that it is not? Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia.


I agree that it's not an encyclopedia. Unfortunately Wikipedia claims to be an encyclopedia. It says "Wikipedia - The Free Encyclopedia" right on the home page. People expect certain things from an encyclopedia, reasonable accuracy for one thing. Perhaps if Wikipedia stopped claiming to be an encyclopedia people would stop thinking that it is one, and stop writing articles like this one. Understand now?

Failure? (1)

bahwi (43111) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694708)

"Finally, by Wednesday afternoon, the Wikipedia entry about Lay said that he was pronounced dead at an Aspen, Colo., hospital and had died of a heart attack, citing news sources."

So, while it was incorrect minute to minute(meaning, for live news, you should be reading ... wait for it ... news sources?! and not encyclopedias?!! wtf!?) in the end it was updated with citations and sources, and ended up better, thereby achieving what it set out to do, while, the "blogging" aspect of wikipedia, even though it is not a blog, has failed.

I really don't understand the article, it says a lot of stuff, and correctly, but it's stringed together in such a way and it makes incorrect presumptions, that it reaches an invalid conclusion.

Oh wait! I get it, it's a parody of a real wikipedia article, which some of them end up stringed together in terrible ways and reaches bad conclusions. But unlike wikipedia, this article probably won't be updated, with sources and citations.

Wow, who woulda thought that wikipedia is a living, evolving, growing encyclopedia, not CNN. Poor guy, what a mistake to make!

(Note, I've never contributed to wikipedia, and never really thought about it, there's enough crazy people doing it already. Nor do I think wikipedia is the end-all-be-all, but this article is just drivel, I mean come on).

Yeah whatever (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15694711)

His Wikipedia entry was altered repeatedly to include unfounded rumors that he had killed himself

Yeah, for what, a grand total of two and a half minutes, over a series of vandalism attempts which were each corrected within thirty seconds?

And how long does it normally take the Washington Post to issue a retraction when they have an error? More than thirty seconds?

This article is just FUD from a media which can't compete against new information sources on their own terms, and so must turn to smearing them. The newspapers can't consistently be a more accurate source of the truth than even a messily-administered project like Wikipedia, so they must defend themselves by pointing out that for two and a half minutes, Wikipedia was wrong about something.

Wikipedia makes controversy obvious (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15694713)

A nice thing about Wikipedia is that when something's controversial you can usually tell. In contrast, a reporter for the Washington Post can single-handedly decide to report something as if it is uncontroversial established fact and you'll never know the difference.

Who cares about Ken Lay (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694715)

I needed to get the pinouts for different styles of Ethernet and phone connections, and Wikipedia came through with flying colors. So there.

Invalidated argument (1)

catwh0re (540371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694733)

Although this was definitely a problem for the old standards in wikipedia. These ripple effects are dampened from new administration tools being used in wikipedia, including locking articles and various levels of protection.

Wikipedia also provides disclaimers on pages which are under such influences.

I actually feel this enhances the wikipedia experience, unlike a printed reference, wiki can evolve to include new information as it becomes available. Old versions of britanica for example will always keep the errors of the day. (Including items which aren't specifically important to modern day life, such as mistaking the identities of dinosaurs, to definitions of modern vernacular.)

The number one rule of research is to use multiple sources (it also helps avoid plagarism.)

Controversial? (1)

Chysn (898420) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694734)

Maybe this is just me living in a liberal echo chamber, but I didn't think Ken Lay was "controversial." I assumed he was universally despised.

Wikipedia over Washington Post any day (1)

ozborn (161426) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694738)

I'm surprised that so many slashdot readers take seriously the idea that the Washington Post (owned by the Moonies) is a non-partisan observer. If anything, it is more partisan in the sense that it represents a narrow subset of the American political spectrum in content. Like any other newspaper I know about it the Washington Post has an editorial policy, endorses political candidates, chooses columnists that match its target audience (no fascists, communists, socialists, anarchists, etc...). It is also of course implicity pro-American, discussions center around whether whether America should "pre-emptively" attack Iraq, not whether Iraq should "pre-emptively" attack the United States. I'll take the diversity, kooks and chaos of Wikipedia any day of the week. Those opinions may seem like "agitprop" to some, but go to another country, another time, another group and they are unremarkable.


  You would think by now that people would have given up the notion of an unbiased media source but I guess some habits die hard.

You are an idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15694791)

The Washington Times is owned by the moonies.

The Washington Post is a completely different newspaper, and is not.

Please, please tell me you don't contribute to Wikipedia. We need better fact-checking skills than this there.

*shrug* sometimes the uncertainty is refreshing (1)

StandardDeviant (122674) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694740)

Anyone who trusts a single source for all their information has problems editorial oversight can never fix. Having to cross-reference, check facts, look at alternate sources, etc. is *basic good scholarship*, and to overly rely on *any* source is purely lazy.

Besides, something tells me that the humor value of opening the entry on "Bushido" and finding every occurence of "honor" or "duty" replaced with "penis" would be lost on the old fuddy-duddies at Britannica. ;)

Wikipedia is a Google Bomb. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15694760)

The big problem with Wikipedia that depsite its mass inaccuaracies, still comes up top in many search results, which lead many naive web users who do not know the Wikitruth [wikitruth.info] being fulled into thinking Wikipedia is actually an authoitative source.

We, in order to take back the search engines need to start taking action. Willy on Wheels has written a guide [blogspot.com] to filtering and blocking Wikipedia when using Firefox.

If Wikipedia is removed from the search results then it would lose most of its traffic and would soon self-implode with all the edit wars and vandals that remain, and the Internet would become useful again.

Dear Frank - You Fail It (1)

Scott Lockwood (218839) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694763)

You don't recognize the most basic, and important truth - Wikipedia is not meant to be somewhere that you find breaking news, and even when articles are updated poorly, the 'community' quickly corrects what ever has been broken. As a reference, having had the Ken Lay article be factually correct so quickly is not something Britannica could ever do - if it even HAD an article on Ken Lay, which I doubt it does.

    Wikipedia also does something that traditional media cannot - it's a knowledge repository that isn't limited by physical space. Think of it as Douglas Adams 'Hitch Hikers Guide' but less portable, and without the all important button that you needed to read - don't panic.

in my opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15694764)

http://macpchobo.ytmnd.com/ [ytmnd.com]

lol install lunix prublem sulved

Appropriate context (1)

wardk (3037) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694765)

it's appropriate that something with modest checks and balances hoses up the reporting of someone intimately tied up in taking advantage of a system with modest checks and balances.

A Not So Bright Flame by an Interested Party. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694767)

But if you search an encyclopedia, it's fair to expect something else. Actual facts, say. At its worst, Wikipedia is an active deception, a powerful piece of agitprop, not information.

It's good for Frank Ahrens to get the issue on the table, but his language is inflammatory and his conclusions are wrong. People know what they are getting into when they read Wikipedia, better than they know what they are getting when they read the Washington Post. Using terms like "agitprop" to equate Wikipedia to Stallin's communist slaughterhouse is reprehensible.

The Washington Post, as disinterested as it seems, has owners and everyone has their opinion. While we might not expect the Washington Post to have opinions about Ken Lay, they might be interests closer to their hearts. For instance, two of the largest US TV broadcast groups are owned by GE and Westinghouse. Most people don't know that and are unaware of the conflict of interest whenever those networks report on anything to do with energy production. Wikipedia gets around those problems by allowing everyone to have their say. It seems to be working for the most part and everyone who puts more than a minutes' though into it realizes the downside and further realizes that the resource will normalize to the truth in time when the interested parties have moved on .

It's bad form for Frank to wrongly accuse a "competitor" like that but worse for him to use terms like "agitprop". It kind of reminds me of M$ using terms like "cancer" and "software communism" to describe free software or the RIAA describing people who dare to make copies of their music as "pirates". It's just namecalling, and people who do it usually don't have much to stand on.

"his trial had caused the heart attack" (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694768)

Wow! Are people really claiming that an older guy under incredible stress who had a heart attack might have suffered it because of the stress? It's unbelievable that such radical people should be editing Wikipedia in such a partisan manner. Don't these kind of radicals get picked up by the FBI and sent back to whatever communist hellhole they came from? Shocking I say!

I love Wikipedia! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15694769)

I think it's the best site on the internet!

john@escolapias-astorga.es [mailto]

The best summary I've read (5, Insightful)

bunions (970377) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694770)

was, surprisingly, at Penny Arcade:


Reponses to criticism of Wikipedia go something like this: the first is usually a paean to that pure democracy which is the project's noble fundament. If I don't like it, why don't I go edit it myself? To which I reply: because I don't have time to babysit the Internet. Hardly anyone does. If they do, it isn't exactly a compliment.

Any persistent idiot can obliterate your contributions. The fact of the matter is that all sources of information are not of equal value, and I don't know how or when it became impolitic to suggest it. In opposition to the spirit of Wikipedia, I believe there is such a thing as expertise.

The second response is: the collaborative nature of the apparatus means that the right data tends to emerge, ultimately, even if there is turmoil temporarily as dichotomous viewpoints violently intersect. To which I reply: that does not inspire confidence. In fact, it makes the whole effort even more ridiculous. What you've proposed is a kind of quantum encyclopedia, where genuine data both exists and doesn't exist depending on the precise moment I rely upon your discordant fucking mob for my information.


http://www.penny-arcade.com/2005/12/16 [penny-arcade.com]

I think it's valid criticism for non-technical articles. As noted by others, wikipedia kicks ass for noncontroversial, primarily technical topics.

Common Carriers (1)

fupeg (653970) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694785)

Wikipedia doesn't just have problems with controversial people, but with any kind of controversial issue. Look at the whole Net Neutrality debate. Many people point to the common carrier status as to why ISPs should be regulated to enforce net neutrality. This has lead to the Wikipedia entry for common carrier [wikipedia.org] to be obviously biased. It states that ISPs have succesfully argued that they should not be considered common carriers based on seemingly weak arguments ("we're information carriers, not communications carriers".) However, it fails to mention that ISPs were originally classified as common carriers. This lead to ISPs being more regulated than their cable and satellite compettitors. It made little sense for a telco to invest in infrastructure that it was going to have to turn around and share. It was to promote compettition between DSL and cable that ISPs were de-regulated and not classified as common carriers. In the wake of this de-regulation, DSL prices have been slashed. Cable prices have stayed high, but cable companies have been forced to provide greater service (my connection speed has quadrupled in the last three years) to justify the higher price.

The point is that you won't see any such statements in Wikipedia. Their "version" of things is clearly tilted to fit somebody's view point. This may be true of traditional reference books and even educational materials, but the dynamic nature of Wikipedia makes it much obvious and intrusive.

Wikipedia is something new (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694790)

I've been critical of Wikipedia in the past, but I do find myself drawn to it to get a summary of some subject, particularly cultural subjects that change often. I've also noticed it getting quoted in mainstream news articles (even sports articles).

I think I know what the big problem with Wikipedia really is... the problem is calling it an encyclopia. That just invites controversy, because it really isn't exactly an encyclopia in the traditional sense, and all the debate seems to be centered around whether it is or it isn't. Who cares whether it is or isn't? It's an information resource, with it's own set of advantages and flaws.

I think that's the whole solution to the "controversy". Stop calling it an encyclopia, and do away with the entire debate. Let it be whatever it is. Call it a Wiki... that's as good a term as any.

nothing wrong with wikipedea (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694793)

Repeat after me. Wikipedia is not an encyclopaedia. It is not brittanica. In some ways it may be better than brittanica, but it is a different beast. Comparing the two is like comparing the britannica and the NYT. It should not be done. One is semi-static repository of the consensus best knowledge at the time of publication, the other is a snapshot of what people think is true at the moment.

The only problem is that people do not have the ability to filter or look for sources of confimation. For instance if Fox news says that Stalin is still alive and about to launch a secret arsenal of nuclear missles, many would believe it. It is the same thing with Wikipedea, and google just makes it worse. If enough people say it, and enough people link to it, then the truly stupid will believe it without any physical evidence.

As far as I know, wikipedia has already set procedures to limit these edit wars. I don't see what else can be done. Wikipedia does not set itself up as the arbiter of all truths. Probably answers.com need to do a better job of stating the content from wikipedia is heresay. But Ken Lay committing suicide? That is what we all think. I am no conspiracy theorist, but since he was never sentenced he is not a criminal. His death probably saved his hiers from relative poverty. it is very convinent. Sometimes peopl in ill health just will themselves to die.

You see, I just wrote something. Don't make it true. It is not my fault if some daft people believe it. Perhpas you do believe it is my fault, and perhaps, in the words of Eminem, you belive I can "load a gun up for you, and cock it too," just with the magic of mind. Boo!

lesson learnt from all this (1)

zen-theorist (930637) | more than 8 years ago | (#15694795)

  1. when you die, make sure you know why you are dying.
  2. make sure everyone knows why you are dying.
  3. create a stub with this death-related information on wikipedia.
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