Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Wikipedia Corrects Encyclopedia Britannica

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the just-plain-wrong dept.

The Internet 381

javipas writes "Despite all the controversy about Wikipedia's work model, no one can argue the potential of a project that has so effectively demonstrated the usefulness of the 'wisdom of crowds' concept. And that wisdom has detected a large number of mistakes in one of the most revered founts of human knowledge, the Encyclopedias Britannica. Among the wrong information collected on this page are the name at birth of Bill Clinton and the definition of the NP problems in mathematics."

cancel ×

381 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Willy (-1, Offtopic)

L505 (884811) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965239)

Bill's real name was Willy Willy?

Re: British Slang (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965301)

Re:Willy (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965351)

his name is Robert Paulson

Re:Willy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965587)

The Willipedia.com domain is already taken

Score +5 (Troll) (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965257)

Too bad most of the administrators think they know more than you, simply because they read an article on the subject. The others are all to happy to demonstrate the Wikipedia caste system to you.

Re:Score +5 (Troll) (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965667)

Concise but rich. You've really summarized the problem of Wikipedia, and all peer-dictated fora, quite elegantly.

Britanicca is useless. (4, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965269)

Even if it were error free, Britanicca would still be useless - it does not enough content.

I mean, where's the articles on Fanboy [wikipedia.org] ? Or the List of minor Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters. [wikipedia.org] (and for that matter, detailed summaries [wikipedia.org] of individual episodes [wikipedia.org] ) Or for that matter, where's the article on the Slashdot effect [wikipedia.org]

Re:Britanicca is useless. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965329)

correction:

it does not have enough content.

talk: I hate wikipedia. It's at best a well spoken gentleman in a pub. It sounds right but I can't be sure.

(captcha: deserves)

Re:Britanicca is useless. (3, Funny)

smookumy (1121273) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965357)

talk: I hate Britanicca. It's at best a well spoken gentleman in a pub. It sounds right but I can't be sure. Fixed that for you.

Re:Britanicca is useless. (5, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965401)

talk: I hate Britannica. It's at best a well spoken gentleman in a pub. It sounds right but I can't be sure. Fixed that for you.

      Fixed that for you.

Re:Britanicca is useless. (5, Funny)

smookumy (1121273) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965499)

Thanks! I spell like I love: Poorly and with great haste.

Re:Britanicca is useless. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965553)

Your gay and conciliatory demeanour does nothing to obscure the fact that you are a dunce with the English language, nor that you are a slavish dimwit who drank the Wikipedia kool-aid.

Re:Britanicca is useless. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19966117)

Wikipedia says it was Flavor Aid [wikipedia.org]

Re:Britanicca is useless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965341)

Don't forget the list of Afghani fish stamps.

Re:Britanicca is useless. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965409)

Don't forget the list of Afghani fish stamps.

Reference, please?

Re:Britanicca is useless. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965603)

"Even if it were error free, Britanicca would still be useless - it does not enough content."

Speaking of content I think you're missing a "have".

Re:Britanicca is useless. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965953)

Even if it were error free, Britanicca would still be useless - it does not enough content.

I mean, where's the articles on Fanboy? Or the List of minor Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters. (and for that matter, detailed summaries of individual episodes) Or for that matter, where's the article on the Slashdot effect


I'm glad something is documenting every minutae of our popular culture. Popular culture of the past is fascinating, and often tells you a lot more about what it was really like to live in the time than journalistic or encyclopedia articles or the works promoted to "high culture" of the period.

For example I love old newspaper strips from the turn of the century to the Great Depression. They're endlessly fascinating, ofen very well written and draw you into a world that is very similar yet completely different than our own. They're also incredibly difficult to find, even some of the ones that were enormously popular (like Buster Brown or Mutt and Jeff), and there is almost nil written about them. Someone else might find this in Old West dimestore novels, or minor Victorian theater, who knows. What I wouldn't give for the "fanboys" of the past to have documented every minutae, because there are a lot of great works have simply faded into obscurity because they were considered "throwaway pop culture" at the time.

That's the beauty of Wikipedia; it's limitless and only takes a small community (even of one) to decide something is relevant. If it's something you don't find interesting then there's no reason for you to bother with it. And who knows? In fifty years an article about Fanboyism, Buffy characters or the Slashdot effect may be extremely treasured information to someone else.

By the way how long did it take The Beatles or Charlie Chaplin to make it to Britannica's pages?

Re:Britanicca is useless. (5, Insightful)

KeepQuiet (992584) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965965)

FYI, Britanicca is not a collection of popular culture or slang terms. It is an encyclopedia.

Re:Britanicca is useless. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19966013)

"Britanicca is not a collection of popular culture or slang terms. It is an encyclopedia."

Then why did they get this one corrected?

Sperm storage
In the entry on "Semen", EB writes:
Sperm mature in the epididymis; they then pass through a long tube called the ductus, or vas deferens to another storage area, the ampulla. [...] During the process of ejaculation, liquids from the prostate gland and seminal vesicles are added

In fact, the vas deferens propels sperm directly from the epididymis to the outside during ejaculation. Sperm is stored before the ejaculation in the epididymis, not in the ampulla. They describe it correctly in their article on "Ejaculation". See also Ejaculation and vas deferens.

Re:Britanicca is useless. (3, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#19966345)

> FYI, Britanicca is not a collection of popular culture or slang terms. It is an encyclopedia.

Also, it's hard to imagine Britannica being unable to find loads of mistakes in Wikipedia.

Re:Britanicca is useless. (1)

asm2750 (1124425) | more than 7 years ago | (#19966039)

Quantity has a quality all its own.

ok lets compare the number of wiki errors (5, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965285)

why so silent now? Oh thats right Wiki is brimming with incorrect information.

Re:ok lets compare the number of wiki errors (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965347)

I don't see why this got modded troll, it's absolutely correct. Stop smoking crack mods!

Re:ok lets compare the number of wiki errors (-1, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965551)

modded troll, then flamebait. yes, the wikiweirdo's have struck again. the truth really does sting doesn't it?

Re:ok lets compare the number of wiki errors (0)

kamapuaa (555446) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965753)

Or could it be because your post is childish and obnoxious and only makes a point that is both completely obvious and stated elsewhere, numerous times? How old are you? You write like a 14 year old kid, and you seem to take Slashdot moderation personally.

Re:ok lets compare the number of wiki errors (-1, Offtopic)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19966149)

if my post if childish and obnoxious, then you have to admit the entire article is likewise childish and obnoxious since i make the exact same point, meaning all this entire topic deserves is childish obnoxious posts.

and what difference does a persons age make anyway? (i'm 27 btw) do you think someone being 14 invalidates their point somehow? do you think a persons writing style some how makes them MORE correct? next time think your shit through before posting it.

Errors (1, Redundant)

superphreak (785821) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965291)

Yawn. I wonder how many errors are in wikipedia that no ones found or noticed yet.

Re:Errors (5, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965343)

All of them.

Re:Errors (1)

superphreak (785821) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965431)

Good call. Lol.

Re:Errors (1)

jginspace (678908) | more than 7 years ago | (#19966173)

A sad reflection on the mods that this was modded 100% funny. I did honestly expect to find at least a smidgen of 'Insightful'.

Re:Errors (5, Interesting)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965785)

A great many, the problem with the "wisdom of the mob" theory is exactly that- the mob. Information unfavorable to cultural biases will be left out of the encylopedia - take the article on circumcision and the article on penis - there are a few fanatics (including an administrator and a member of arbcom) who use the rules to bludgeon people to keep information (that is clearly verifiable [read: medical studies]) out of those articles (and related ones) because it casts circumcision in an unfavorable light (and appropriately so - it's no more medically appropriate 99.9999999% of the time than female genital mutilation). The bias is subtle, one of withholding information, and the people enforcing the bias are very good at making it look like they're in the right - all because of the idea that "the wisdom of the mob" is infallible. there are definantly other articles that this is true about as well.

Wisdom of the Mob fails when Fact contradicts Culture.

Re:Errors (1)

Merusdraconis (730732) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965983)

Hopefully Citizendium will be able to transcend these problems.

Re:Errors (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19966043)

I was thinking exactly the opposite -- that wikipedia is heavily influenced by radical pro-circumcision types.

Re:Errors (2, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 7 years ago | (#19966157)

"all because of the idea that "the wisdom of the mob" is infallible."

The same holds true for the wisdom of the 'elect', history has shown that their needs to be a deep suspicion of both, able and intelligent people are just as bone-headed and misguided as anyone else, but this bone-headedness always has to wait for the next generation to look back from the current one to see how hopelessly naive they were. Many experts of the past were just as ignorant and barbaric as any other man, its just that experts can hide their own misguidedness and stupidity behind the ignorance of laity and their current positions of authority.

A novelty but nothing more. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965297)

This is the kind of thing that Wikipedians love to trot out to show how much better they think they are than traditional sources, but this "corrections" list is not actually very meaningful. Heck, I once caught a typo in The Economist - does that mean a publication I made would thus be more accurate and reliable than The Economist? No, it just means they messed up once. Hey, when you produce a large volume of text, it happens. The real question is, how often do they mess up compared to how often we mess up? And that is a difficult question to find the true answer to, but one thing is for sure: it's certainly not hard to find errors in Wikipedia.

Re:A novelty but nothing more. (4, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965381)

For what it's worth, I seem to recall, a year or two ago, this page having a note at the beginning about how it's not really all that serious of a page, more of a few quick jabs back at Britannica. I'm really very disappointed that it's being posted here with such trumped-up language in the summary.

Re:A novelty but nothing more. (5, Funny)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 7 years ago | (#19966041)

This page catalogs some mistakes and omissions in Encyclopædia Britannica (EB) and shows how they have been corrected in Wikipedia. Some errors have already been corrected in Britannica's online version. For many reasons, this page should not be taken too seriously as a comparison; it's just a little bit of fun. It does not mean one is better than the other.
I'd say RTFA but for all I know when you looked at the page it could have said something completely different.

Wikipedia (1)

dafing (753481) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965447)

I used to contribute quite a bit to Wikipedia, but got sick of the "god kings" that corrected me on which template to use, and then another one would say that the new template still wasnt what they would have done .... The point is, Wikipedia aint just some joke Encyclopedia, that would be Uncyclopedia.

Re:A novelty but nothing more. (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965471)

I think that's the whole point - not that Wikipedia contains fewer errors than Britannica (the idea you're debunking), but that finding an error here or there in something doesn't prove anything, much less negate the value of the whole collection. It's simply to blunt accusations against Wikipedia, not bring down Britannica.

However, to me and most people Wikipedia really is far more valuable than Britannica - simply because we have no access to Britannica. And I also think the vast majority of wikipedia pages are quite good - at least the ones anybody is interested in. Certainly a much higher S/N ratio than the Internet at large. I even have a downloaded copy of wikipedia on my PocketPC, it's amazing how rarely I can not settle issues or questions that arise by consulting it.

Re:A novelty but nothing more. (1)

ruinous (1123167) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965481)

It's also not hard to fix them once they're found. When an error is found on a Wikipedia page, contributors will swarm over it like ants.

For every good example... (5, Insightful)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965523)

For every good example, there apparently are several bad examples [wikipedia.org] of this so called "wisdom of crowds." I'm not saying it doesn't work, but to pretend that it's the be all and end all of systems is just disingenuous.

Wisdom of crowds is a pretty good concept, but in reality it turns out that the crowds aren't always so wise.

Re:A novelty but nothing more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965597)

Wikipedia takes a lot of flack, but it's an extraordinarily useful resource.

I tend to think that all of the extremists are wrong (as is so often the case). The parent is trying to make Wikipedia sound useless because it has some errors. This is an asinine view, easily countered by the rest of his own post. (Self-contradicting posts being marked Insightful? What a shock!)

Similarly, anybody who thinks that Wikipedia is better than Britannica is also in need of a reality check.

That said, any reasonably intelligent person can recognize that Wikipedia is an exceptionally useful resource, and that when used appropriately, it can save a lot of time and energy. Sadly the world is full of people who see things in black and white, and thus seek to condemn Wikipedia, simply because it's not flawless.

Re:A novelty but nothing more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965745)

Useless? I don't recall saying anything of the sort. In fact, Wikipedia has some great articles. For instance, check out this one [wikipedia.org] (and study it carefully!).

~OP

Re:A novelty but nothing more. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965849)

You didn't state it outright, but you were clearly making an unprovoked assault on Wikipedia, which certainly implies that you think it is not a good site. Like so many slashdot users, you are incapable or unwilling to admit that your posts have implications of the words you wrote, because like so many slashdot users, you are too fucking stupid to understand the many levels of communication that fully socialized humans use to communicate.

Re:A novelty but nothing more. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965955)

Nor, apparently, is it hard to find errors in Britannica, despite having only a small fraction of the content that Wikipedia has. That's the whole point. Britannica keep basically saying "we're infallable, and never have mistakes, because we have 'experts' writing things", with the suggestion that Wikipedia is a worthless pile of trash. If anyone is dumb enough to believe that Brittanica is significantly better than Wikipedia just because it's in print, or just because Brittanica says so, then they deserve anything they get.

Wikiality bites (4, Funny)

nurhussein (864532) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965309)

Wikiality bites [photobucket.com] .

So says Stephen Colbert.

Britannica should also check its facts about elephant populations. I heard it has tripled.

Nice, but doesn't the Britannica have Copy Editors (1)

Kid Zero (4866) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965315)

Nice, but doesn't the Britannica have Copy Editors? Sounds like someone's gloating that they found a hanging semi-colon or something.

Nice, but doesn't the Britannica have body parts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965733)

Well I'd gloat too if I found half of Britannica's colon hanging.

Purposeful (4, Interesting)

Oligonicella (659917) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965353)

How many of those errors were purposefully introduced? Encyclopedias and map makers do that all the time to see if others are plagerizing.

Re:Purposeful (5, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965415)

How many of those errors were purposefully introduced? Encyclopedias and map makers do that all the time to see if others are plagerizing.

    I love irony.

Re:Purposeful (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965495)

That's not ironic, that's coincidental.

Re:Purposeful (0)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965645)

I love irony.

I like silvery and goldy better.

Re:Purposeful (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965775)

How many of those errors were purposefully introduced? Encyclopedias and map makers do that all the time to see if others are plagerizing.
I love irony.
Why? Did he plagiarize "plagerizing"?

Re:Purposeful (1)

Danny Rathjens (8471) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965935)

Assuming the use of Alanis-irony was continuing the joke, I love humorous coincidenses.

Re:Purposeful (5, Insightful)

rm999 (775449) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965885)

If an encyclopedia purposefully says something incorrect, it has lost credibility for a poor reason. For example, if I want to know what the NP problem is, I don't consider it acceptable that an encyclopedia purposefully lied to me just to mess with its competitors.

Re:Purposeful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19966207)

I imagine that the error would not detract from the substance of the article or mislead on an important point; it would probably be something like a small misspelling. Remember, the OP said their purpose was to track plagiarism, not send ships into the shoals or make chemists blow themselves up.

Re:Purposeful (1)

earthbound kid (859282) | more than 7 years ago | (#19966305)

People do this in dictionaries, not encyclopedias. In dictionaries, they introduce plausible sounding nonsense words, to see if anyone copies the word into their own dictionary without checking first to see if it comes up in old texts. If the word does get into another dictionary, it means that they add words without fully vetting them and producing original definitions based on the vetting process. There's no danger of causing serious harm by doing this, since in the worst case, someone believes that a nonsense word has been used by a few people before when in fact it hasn't been used before. However, it wouldn't make sense to add errors of the sort described here to an encyclopedia. It would have a serious chance of misleading people, and it would be more likely to discredit the source encyclopedia than any of their competitors.

A Bit Biased (2, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965375)

Okay, so where's the Wikipedia article listing all the times that someone found something wrong with Wikipedia, and corrected it with information from E.B.? I'm sure that's not an uncommon occurrence either.

Both Wikipedia and EB have their place. Wikipedia is great for getting a quick overview of something while you're sitting at your desk, or looking up random information like the plot of an individual TV episode. EB is better at having a bit more academic cred (at the very least, EB's mistakes are actual mistakes and not outright vandalism, which may or may not be true for Wikipedia). If I were to give up one, I'd keep WP in an instant.

But neither should be considered the definitive source for anything.

Re:A Bit Biased (1)

Salgat (1098063) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965383)

Wikipedia is so versatile and adapts so fast, that any errors brought up about Wikipedia would be quickly fixed, and quickly invalidated.

Re:A Bit Biased (1)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965463)

Why do the Wikipedia supporters always bring up "speed" as if it is a meaningful comparison? It's entirely useless to tell us how fast errors are corrected if you don't *also* tell us how rapidly errors are produced. I've seen articles go back and forth repeatedly between two "facts" (both of which cannot be true). Is the fact that those same errors were repeatedly corrected (quickly) more meaningful than the fact that the errors kept getting inserted? Nope. It's a question of relative rates, not one absolute rate or the other.

Basically, all of this is a bit like Homer Simpson (under the name Max Power) bragging about his way being the wrong way, but *faster*.

Re:A Bit Biased (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965711)

Really? "Any" errors [slashdot.org] ? (Or do you define 4 months as "quickly"?) How many other errors lurk on rarely-read pages?

Re:A Bit Biased (1)

alerante (781942) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965417)

Okay, so where's the Wikipedia article listing all the times that someone found something wrong with Wikipedia, and corrected it with information from E.B.? I'm sure that's not an uncommon occurrence either.

It was deleted [wikipedia.org] as pointless and unmanageable.

Sources... (1)

ejito (700826) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965385)

It's really not up to Wikipedia to correct another sources mistakes, only to note the conflict, unless verified by other sources. Though it's not on article space, it's a poor show. But getting to the main point, it's a bad idea to discredit Britannica when it's a source used throughout Wikipedia itself as a tertiary source.

Wikiplebians really have a hate on for EB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965403)

Methinks they doth protest too much about EBs relative accuracy. It's almost like the individual Wikipublians think they are deserving of the same respect and reputation accorded to Brittanica contributors when, in fact, they are not.

It's a repeat of "bloggers are journalists" (2, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965519)

Sure Wikipedia might have some materials that is more correct than EB, and likely the reverse holds true too. Good research takes more than just having arbitrary contributions from a wide audience.

Features (1)

madsheep (984404) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965443)

It's good to see them correct some things. It's not like they haven't had errors before of course. However, wikipedia has some great features such as: always being online and free, covers 10000000 more topics, and doesn't come in a defunct hardback copy that takes 20 minutes to search by hand. Btw.. I still have my 1989 Encyclopedia Britannica and it looks great in the two sets of boxes in the basement.

and wikipedia (2, Funny)

largesnike (762544) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965459)

...is even self-aware [wikipedia.org]

Drama (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965477)

There is more drama in the Edit Discussion of any Wikipedia article than on daytime tv.

*yawn* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965509)

great

wikipedia has its flaws as well.. (1)

indraneil (1011639) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965521)

Not only does it sometimes gets its facts wrong [com.com] , a lot of articles are written in a very ad-hoc manner with no editor having read it thoroughly.

A case in point is the article on Harry Potter and the deathly hallows [wikipedia.org] which as has been mentioned earlier in slashdot itself [slashdot.org] , is full of spoilers, posted inside a day of the book having been released. A lot of people who stumbled onto that article while looking for details on the book must have felt cheated. Such a thing would never have been allowed to creep into any entry in a standard encyclopaedia.


Also as someone else noted, Wikipedia may be better off mentioning that there exists a different version of the information on Enclyclopaedia Brittanica on its own site than try and convert EB to its own set of facts.

ps: The redeeming qualities of wikipedia are ofcourse why I visit that site. As of today, the deathly hallows article comes with clear warnings on the stuff that I mentioned here.

Re:wikipedia has its flaws as well.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19966007)

News Flash! Wikipedia is not a standard encyclopedia!

Crazy how that works, no?

A Very Old Dispute (1)

Cerlyn (202990) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965577)

It is kind of funny to see this come up now, given that this has been a very old dispute between Wikipedia and Britannica.

Slashdot has already had at least [slashdot.org] three [slashdot.org] articles [slashdot.org] in the past few years on this topic.

What all the college kids do (1)

Reddragon220 (890851) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965591)

"How to use this book: Look it up in wikipedia and then cite Encyclopedia Britannica." "Encyclopedia Britannica, How to Use." Encyclopedia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 24 July 2007 . What do you mean you can't find that article?

It's not the crowd, it's the 3-4 people... (4, Interesting)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965609)

Wikipedia's problem has rarely been with the articles that get widespread review. The problem is with obscure knowledge; pages where only a handful of people maintain them. I wish I could find the op-ed piece I read a year or two ago about how a Florida group was using their Wikipedia entry to disseminate a view supporting their claim to being recognized as a tribe...so they could build a casino. I remember something about numerous statements being wrong, and the only people who would knew it was wrong (other people from that ethnic group who knew the oral history) were unlikely to surf wikipedia, much less correct it, or stick through an 'edit war'.

This doesn't sound like a big deal, until you realize that it's the fringe stuff that can be consulted the most by adults, particularly those who consider themselves well educated.

How many big fish in little ponds have axes to grind? More than most of us suspect, I'm guessing.

Slashdot citation (4, Informative)

Burning1 (204959) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965611)

This article does not cite any references or sources.
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. (help, get involved!)
Unverifiable material may be challenged and removed.
This article has been tagged since July 2007.

Among the wrong information collected on this page are the name at birth of Bill Clinton and the definition of the NP problems in mathematics."

Seriously though, if you're interested in the details behind this comment, see the article about it in wikipedia [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Slashdot citation (4, Funny)

AncientPC (951874) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965769)

Obligatory xkcd. [xkcd.com]

Errors? (1)

tooyoung (853621) | more than 7 years ago | (#19966003)

Good point. Check out one of the burning "errors" from the list:

This may be a bit nitpicky, but EB thinks there is hip hop music (which they problematically call rap) that is either not rhythmic or non-rhyming. I suppose there may be hip hop with no rhymes at all (I've never heard of it), but it's certainly always rhythmic. Also, hip hop as the backing music for rap, the musical style incorporating rhythmic and/or rhyming speech that became the movement's most lasting and influential art form is a bit odd, I think. They apparently use "hip hop" to refer to the beat/instrumentation behind the rapping, which is not normal, at least -- if "rap" is the "musical style", then the "backing music" is an integral part of it, and "rap" doesn't "incorporate" a kind of speech... it is a kind of speech, and is only a "musical style" when combined with "hip hop". Furthermore, "most lasting and influential art form" being applied to "rap" is silly -- graffiti, breakdancing and DJing have lasted just as long as rapping (early 70s to present); I suppose EB is allowed to be biased and call "rap" more influential than DJing, but I note that rapping is not widely used outside of hip hop, while DJing had a major influence on electronic music. Of course, if by "rap", they are referring to hip hop music, then that would make sense, but that would be inconsistent with the first part. So, it's at best confusingly written and misleading.

This looks more like a person posting an opinion, rather than an error in an EB article.

I bet Wikipedia has more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965619)

It's rare that I read an article on Wikipedia without finding some sort of error, whether it be a factual error or poor writing.

This is especially the case with topics that attract little interest, such as technical articles or articles specific to a certain region.

What's the point of an encyclopedia that covers everything from Plato to Pokemon if most of the articles are inaccurate?

Old news, please disregard (5, Insightful)

Taxman415a (863020) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965679)

This page has existed nearly since the beginning of Wikipedia. For a long long time it contained a disclaimer that it was just for the fun of it, and not to be taken too seriously. I think the disclaimer was taken off because it should be inherently obvious. Well apparently not to the submitter, who submitted what amounts to a flame bait story. Oh well, such is slashdot. Gotta get pageviews I suppose. But the submitter should have known better than to trump it up so much in the submission.

The most convenient solution wins (5, Interesting)

L505 (884811) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965713)

One of the reasons people reference Wikipedia a lot, and one of the reasons it is so popular, is that it has a very high page rank on google and other search engines. People are lazy, and whatever information pops up first after typing something into google will be what is clicked on, and of course referenced. Wikipedia is clicked on more so than other sources simply because Wikipedia has a higher page rank and is more conveniently available.

Since wikipedia creates a community for users, it means people will link in to wikipedia more than any other encyclopedia (communities create links.. and links create higher page ranks).

If some other encyclopedia wants to be king, then they have to increase their page rank. The other encyclopedias will have to create communities and create reasons for people to link to them, in order for them to increase their popularity on google.

Since people usually choose the most convenient option, and since wikipedia is the most convenient option available on google for our mice to clicky dicky, the convenient option will win. It's not the fittest or the strongest that survive, but rather the most convenient solutions [z505.com] that survive.

Re:The most convenient solution wins (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#19966137)

If some other encyclopedia wants to be king, then they have to increase their page rank. The other encyclopedias will have to create communities and create reasons for people to link to them, in order for them to increase their popularity on google.

The funny thing is - I see Wikipedia linked on the web extremely rarely. I don't think that really explains Wikipedia's high page rank.
 
OTOH, Wikipedia is almost perfectly designed to spam Google. It's full of keywords, and linked keywords, and every page has a well formed title... And there are multiple exact mirrors on the web linked back to the parent on each and every page .

Re:The most convenient solution wins (1)

L505 (884811) | more than 7 years ago | (#19966297)

This unscientific study http://www.google.com/search?q=wikipedia.org+-site %3Awikipedia.org [google.com] shows that 11,800,000 websites mention or link to wikipedia.org in some way or another.

Using the link: tool in google doesn't help us, it is broken, so I use a different technique and negative out the wikpedia site. The wikipedia mirrors like answers.com also help boost wikipedia's rank too, and google's own define:term tool probably has a page rank of 10 linking right in to wikipedia.

http://www.google.com/search?q=slashdot.org+-site% 3Aslashdot.org [google.com]

Slashdot is less linked in, according to my unscientific study.

answer.com? (1)

copdk4 (712016) | more than 7 years ago | (#19966219)

i have seen answer.com showing up frequently on top.. and AFAIK it largely mirrors wikipedia articles (and may be adds something more of its own) so my question how and where does it get the incoming links for a high PageRank? do people point to answer.com URLs?

And if Brittanica corrected Wikipedia... (-1, Flamebait)

death_metal_black_me (1128565) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965765)

There'd be nothing left of the "crowd-pleasing" "encyclopedia" that spends most of its time in internal conflict over which big-eyed anime starlet is the best. Wikipedia is net blight at its worst, mainly because Google gives it top billing despite the knowledge that it is 99% plagiarized and 1% net.revenge postings.

Re:And if Brittanica corrected Wikipedia... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965887)

i play xbox 360 with my brother sometimes... its very cool... my brother is 30 years old hes pretty smart... he has 45 iq its the same as heis shoe size.. pretu good considaring 100 is full.... nentendo is cool but xbawks 360 is beter... i am masetr chief from halo... bcz when i played halo for the second time i knew what was going too happen befor eit happend... so im takeru... its pretty cooll... sonic is cool... i dont like tails though bcz hes sonics girlfrend... i want2 be sonics girlfrend.... sonic is so fast and handsome its increddibnle... sometimes... together... my mom and dad are brother and sister... its prety cool i gess... i herd its prety normal in america.... they love eachother like a father and daugher... theyr so cute together... together... sometimes... xbox... my brother is in wheel chair... but hes cool because hes smart... yea... the boy in the basements said he isnt smart and he say bad thing about my dad... but its no mater... he is chained up... in basement... together... xbox... yea... maybe... xbox is pretty cool bcz they its like games... together... sometimes... i hear screaming from basement... dosnt mater... the boy there is happey.... yea...

Not a reliable source (2, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965801)

Ever since I was in middle school I was told that the encyclopedia was merely a starting point and not a reliable source. The nice thing about the Britannica was that it laid out a formal representation of what was known at the time it was written. Although it did not exactly cross our mind that it was wrong, we knew that it was not to be used as a basis of fact. Starting in the 80's, with the less formal style, I think it has become even less useful. This is also the problem with wikipedia. It is useful for pop culture, and some pop technical stuff, but I still go to mathworld when I want to know math, and britannica when I want to know history.

Re:Not a reliable source (1)

wolf369T (951405) | more than 7 years ago | (#19966027)

This is also the problem with wikipedia. It is useful for pop culture, and some pop technical stuff, but I still go to mathworld when I want to know math, and britannica when I want to know history.


Exaclty. I use Wikipedia for comics characters background. I'm new in DCU and I couldn't manage all this Crisis without Wikipedia.

"Wisdom Of The Crowd" - Misnomer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965813)

Really, this is the wisdom of a few intelligent people who care enough about promoting factual information.

My criticisms of Wikipedia still stand. It needs to promote a mentality of strict editorial control instead of the irrational pretense that anyone should be allowed to edit it. The idea of having a democratic process of what gets included and doesn't get included, coupled with the vague, arbitrary, and inconsistent standards of editorial control that currently exists is what is inhibiting Wikipedia.

Too many people have their hand in the jar, and too many of the people who do have their hand jar have incredibly stupid ideas.

The Encyclopedia Britannica has often been junk. (5, Interesting)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965827)

The Slashdot story says, "... one of the most revered founts of human knowledge, the Encyclopedias Britannica."

That's not true in my experience. In my experience, Encyclopedia Britannica salesmen used high-pressure tactics to sell encyclopedias to poor, uneducated people by telling them that their children needed an encyclopedia to become educated. Educated people knew it was better to go to the library.

EB has always been full of inadequate articles that were inadequate because the EB wanted to seem comprehensive, so it had a lot of articles, but didn't want to use a lot of expensive paper, so there was never enough space.

A good example was the EB article on Barbara McClintock [wikipedia.org] , 1983 Nobel Laureate in Medicine for her amazing, pioneering work in genetics. Quote from Wikipedia: "In 1930, McClintock was the first person to describe the cross-shaped interaction of homologous chromosomes during meiosis. During 1931, McClintock and a graduate student, Harriet Creighton, proved the link between chromosomal crossover during meiosis and the recombination of genetic traits."

Why did it take 53 years for Barbara McClintock to win her Nobel Prize? Because other scientists had difficulty believing that genetic elements could jump from chromosome to chromosome.

I haven't looked at an EB article in the paper edition in many years, but at one time the EB article about Barbara McClintock was short, maybe 600 words, and gave no idea of the fact that her scientific papers are so extensive they require 40 feet or more of shelf space.

The EB article about Barbara McClintock was subtly misleading in other ways, also.

From the Wikipedia article: "The importance of McClintock's contributions only came to light in the 1960s, when the work of French geneticists Francois Jacob and Jacques Monod described the genetic regulation of the lac operon, a concept she had demonstrated with Ac/Ds in 1951."

Apparently because the controlling purpose of the EB has been to reduce amount of paper required, and apparently because the EB has always been more about creating a way for salesmen to be intimidating than about excellence, a lot of the EB articles have been worse than useless, because they are misleading.

The EB has been a vicious business run for profit, in my opinion. The articles have always been lacking in excellence, because excellence would have cost more.

Earlier Slashdot article: (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965877)

Correction: 80 feet of shelf space, not 40. See my 2005 comment, and a Slashdot story comparing EB and Wikipedia: Encyclopedia Britannica is much worse. [slashdot.org]

it's the new myspace (0, Offtopic)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965847)

wikipedia is the new myspace, where is your entry? wiki mods thought they were better than me and keep deleting it.. but it'll stay eventually

Pre-Wiki EB Corrections (3, Funny)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965859)

EB was being corrected by others long before Wiki existed. A 9 year old corrected their statement that Mercury was the hottest planet. He correctly notified them that Venus was.

Wiki is now operating at the level of a 9 year old.

OTOH, perhaps Wiki will have an article on how often /. posts are wrong.

Wikipedia: 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965901)

Britannica: hmm. Infinite?

Yes, but... (3, Insightful)

ocop (1132181) | more than 7 years ago | (#19965963)

I doubt Britannica's editor's let them accidentally kill people (rhetorically, at least). Wikipedia is probably more accurate for large, visible topics but equally (if not more so?) subject to painful bias on obscure subjects.

Dear Wikipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19965989)

Flattery will get you nowhere.

Conservapedia points out Wikipedia's bias (3, Funny)

mattlmattlmattl (229778) | more than 7 years ago | (#19966135)

In reaction to the Wikipedia page pointing out EB's errors, Conservapedia has
put up a link in their "Breaking News" section to their page listing examples
of Wikipedia's strongly liberal bias (you did know that, didn't you? Wikipedia
is SIX TIMES MORE LIBERAL THAN AMERICA! (as reported by Wikipedia on their
page about Conservapedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservapedia [wikipedia.org] )).

As of 11PM PST, July 23rd, Conservapedia has a link to the bias page at the top of
their "Breaking News" section on their home page. But here's the direct link:
http://www.conservapedia.com/Bias_in_Wikipedia [conservapedia.com]

A few choice examples:
A devastating critique of Wikipedia by Fox News describes the impact of Wikipedia smears on popular golfer Fuzzy Zoeller.
Wikipedia is sympathetic to Fidel Castro in its entry about Cuba.
Wikipedia's entry for the Renaissance denies any credit to Christianity, its primary inspiration.
Plus 63 more! Enjoy.

Wikipedia is getting better (4, Insightful)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 7 years ago | (#19966143)

There are a few minor issues I have with the new winds blowing over at Wikipedia, but these are not pressing enough for me to get all worked up over them.

Over all I'm positively surprised at Wikipedia's ability to continually get better, work on not only the content but also the form factor.

A greater emphasis on references and citations has greatly contributed to some articles.

There are a few problems, such as the fact that important and well known scientists are still reluctant to contribute.

Overall though, Wikipedia is continually evolving and getting better, which is a whole lot more than can be said about Britannica or any other encyclopedia which have pretty much kept to their centuries old methods ideas.

Wikipedia is banned from my machine (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19966319)

I see Wikipedia as a failure, and I know I'm not the only one. Sure, http://wikipedia.org/ [wikipedia.org] is a huge success, no way to argue that. Just try and sneak your Google query through without at least one Wiki page floating up to the top. For better or for worse, Google is now COMPLETELY overrun with Wikipedia results.

Well, good for Wikipedia.org. But let's cut to the chase: why don't the owners just load it up with ads, soak up their fortunes, and be fucking done with it? What is this virginal mystique they think Wikipedia has somehow still got? For god sakes EVERYBODY knows the concept of Wikpedia, and its ORIGINAL promise, are a total failure. The whole thing is an absolute disgrace. The intrigue is LONG GONE. Most of Wikipedia now just a steaming wasteland of bias and overlords.

"The open encyclopedia"? LOL, my ass! There are three types of articles on Wikipedia: LOCKED, FORMERLY LOCKED, and SOON-TO-BE LOCKED. So just give me a Brittanica! What's the difference? What is the fucking difference?

At least with Brittanica I don't have to cut through 9 pages of emotional GARBAGE that nobody can redact because it's on continuous 24/7 patrol by one or two pyschos and a pair of admins! Checkmate!

Now it's time to celebrate (0, Troll)

Wiseman1024 (993899) | more than 7 years ago | (#19966351)

Wikipedophiles will be happy!
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>