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

Daniel Morrison draker at gmail.com
Tue Nov 3 10:34:21 AST 2009

2009/11/3 Richard Bonner <ak621 at chebucto.ns.ca>:
> ***   I agree that it is pretty good - and often excellent when you
> get a good researcher/writer. However, as far as editing goes, I have
> been tempted to do so but am just too busy to take the time. I suspect
> that is the case often enough that wrong facts and misconceptions will
> become part of the public's perceptions of various subjects.

[citation needed]

Comparing your suspicion of inaccuracies in wikipedia to Hollywood
movies is... not very convincing!

>    This has happened many times in the popular media with a famous one
> being that Houdini drowned in his "Water Cell Torture" thanks to a
> Hollywood movie pumping up reality. I even found that misconception in
> a printed almanac reference!

Thereby showing the printed almanacs are not as reliable as wikipedia,
despite being under the control of a single entity.

But seriously? Doesn't everyone know that Houdini was killed by
ruptured appendix after a McGill student asked permission to punch him
in the stomach, and did so unexpectedly?

>    A more recent example was the outcry from the science community
> regarding the wrong science in one of those asteroid disaster movies.
> It's very hard to turn public perception around once one of these bad
> ideas gets ingrained.

Thank goodness we have wikipedia on our side, to help with the debunking!

When an error is printed in an almanac, the barrier to fixing that
error is enormous (send a letter to the editor, get them to print a
correction in a future edition, and meanwhile, the original is still
around in multiple copies for people to find, read, and re-read). When
an error is printed in Wikipedia, the barrier to fixing that error is
much lower, and when it is fixed, the old copy effectively
"disappears" (unless you check the history, which remains available
for someone who cares). You may not have the time or enthusiasm to
submit a fix, but if the barriers are lower, more people will do so.

I think I've been pretty clear about why I think the Wikipedia model
is a good one (at least, a better choice in a world of imperfect
options) so I'm going stop cheering for it now... good day!


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