[nSLUG] Wikipedia (Was: "Cat5e vs Cat6")

Daniel Morrison draker at gmail.com
Mon Nov 2 12:46:58 AST 2009

2009/11/2 Richard Bonner <ak621 at chebucto.ns.ca>:
> ***   A number of years ago in the U.S., Wikipedia was used to falsely
> discredit some political rival. I don't remember the details, but
> believe that some page on some politician was subtly altered to imply
> negative things.
>   Until they get complete control over it, there's a good reason I
> call it "Why? Ki-pedia".

But who is "they"? And... if "they" had complete control over it, it
wouldn't be wikipedia, would it? It would be another commercial
encyclopedia, and it wouldn't be free. I'm not saying Wikipedia is
perfect. There is a price to pay for a comprehensive, free, modern
knowledge database.

> That problem isn't unique to Wikipedia. That's why journals,
> newspapers etc. publish retractions.

***   Does Why?-Ki publish them?

Um, it's called the "history" tab, which shows every change ever made
to any article. Also, there is the "talk" page, wherein there is
discussion regarding changes. Far more accessible than a tiny "oops we
made a mistake" in some future edition of a print publication.

> Wikipedia even cites Britannica. Obviously, the printed Britannica in
> your parent's basement has no such update.

***   No, but at least it had editors overseeing every scrap of
information going into it.

You just don't get it, do you. There is an editor overseeing^H^H^H
creating every scrap of information going into wikipedia. There is, in
fact, orders of magnitude more of them. They're called "the public".
Granted, they may have fewer scruples and more bias or blatant bad
intent then many scholars. But there are no guarantees in life. Do you
believe everything written in Britannica? You shouldn't. How about
everything in the Chronicle Herald? Yeah, right.

Again: Wikipedia isn't perfect. But it's an incredibly large and
diverse public database of information that is freely accessible to
everyone. No, you shouldn't blindly believe everything written in it.
But you shouldn't blindly believe anything written by someone else. If
you want guarantees that your information is 100%, there is only one
way: research the topic yourself.

> ... anyway. It's an encyclopedia. There's a reason you don't cite
> encyclopedias, they're just a starting point.

***   I wish more thought that way, Ian.

So do I. But if I were forced to make a choice between waking people
up to critical thinking with regard to Wikipedia, or their local
newspaper, I would pick "local newspaper" first, no question.


PS: + what Mike.lifeguard just said. Agreed.

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