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

Richard Bonner ak621 at chebucto.ns.ca
Wed Nov 4 12:04:22 AST 2009

On Tue, 3 Nov 2009, Daniel Morrison wrote:

> 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!

***   My suspicions of inaccuracies are fact - at least for subjects 
in which I am knowledgeable.

    As for the Hollywood movie inaccuracies, my point is that when the 
public is unknowledgeable in a given subject and then gets fed 
incorrect or inaccurate facts, or misconceptions, there is too much of 
a chance they will believe it and perpetuate it. As mentioned, the 
ultimate I found for that is when I saw a printed reference to 
Houdini's death which had been taken from the 1956 movie "Houdini". It 
was *totally* wrong! (I think I may still own that reference, by the 

>>    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.

***   This was a pretty low-brow reference - well below Britannica 
standards. I am not saying that all print media is accurate, but until 
standards dropped very low in the past decade or so, it was at least
being overseen by supposedly educated persons.

> 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?

***   Nope, I belong to Ring 316 of the IBM and the subject used to 
come up from time to time. Fortunately, because the movie is rarely 
seen today, the inaccurate drowning death is less well known. However, 
if it were to play on TV more often, at least some of the general 
public would once again believe he drowned.

>>    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!

***   I never looked to see if that was discussed there. Are there any 
references to it? That aside, it was discussed by science journalists 
and scientists themselves at the time, but I wonder how many saw any 
of that?

> 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).

***   That was exactly what I had done, but I never saw any future 
editions to know if it was ever corrected.

> 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).

***   This is the great advantage to an on-line reference.

> You may not have the time or enthusiasm to submit a fix, but if the 
> barriers are lower, more people will do so.

***   Let's hope that turns out to be the case. For until that 
happens, the effectiveness of Why?Ki will not reach its full 

> 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!
> -D.

***   I don't disagree with your reasoning - only with the 
current status of their model.


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