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PEOPLE SNEER AT WIKIPEDIA . . . BUT . . .

 
 
Setanta
 
Reply Wed 8 Nov, 2006 12:18 pm
When Syd Barrett died, Wikipedia had their bio article of him changed within an hour of the announcement of his death, including the crucial information that he had died a few days earlier. (He died July 7th, but the information was not released until July 11th--but Wikipedia posted it within an hour of the announcement.) For the clueless, Syd Barrett was one of the founding members of Pink Floyd.

Now, Rummy has resigned, and has been replaced by Robert Gates. This is from the Wikipedia blurb on Gates:

Dr. Robert Michael Gates (born September 25, 1943) is the 22nd and current United States Secretary of Defense. His term of office began Novermber 8th, 2006 under President George W. Bush.

(I am indebted to Aunt Bee for that information.)

Really, when it comes to breaking news on people, at least, Wikipedia more and more looks like the source to go to.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 2,780 • Replies: 18
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tycoon
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Nov, 2006 06:45 pm
I've never understood the contempt for this invaluable tool, despite the occasional well-publicized errors that creep in before a correction is made.

It's amazing how many of my Google searches have a Wikipedia entry with generous information. I'm conditioned to not think of such inquiries being present in traditional encyclopedias.
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Nov, 2006 06:47 pm
I enjoy wickipedia. If the subject is controversial or complex, I may seek other sources to verify the information sometimes.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Nov, 2006 07:00 pm
I've always found Wikipedia a useful tool, and have, for example, found more errors of historical detail at the Library of Congress site than at Wikipedia. (In fairness to the LoC, whenever i've e-mailed them about an error i have found, i have always gotten a personally addressed response from someone who said they would look into the matter.)

Wikipedia is wonderful as a fact checker, when you already know a subject, but want to make sure you have all of your ducks in a row. They also provide many links which allow you to check out their account of something, and they also usually post the information when a point of view expressed in an article is considered controversial. For example, for a while, it appeared that articles about Serbia, the Balkans, and especially the Balkan wars of the 1990s were being dominated by pro-Serbian contributors, and from one day to the next, i saw a warning posted, and then, two days later, the article was withdrawn. It was re-written and re-posted within days.

What has amazed me is how quickly they stay on top of biographical information, such as in the two examples i've provided. Both the Rumsfeld and Gates biographies were appropriately "up-dated" within an hour of the announcement of Rummy's resignation.
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2PacksAday
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Nov, 2006 07:16 pm
edgarblythe wrote:
I enjoy wickipedia. If the subject is controversial or complex, I may seek other sources to verify the information sometimes.



Ditto.
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shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Nov, 2006 07:27 pm
I too enjoy wickipedia, and I have also found some errors.

One, namely, my family the Kelloggs.

John harvey's story according to Wicki- has so FEW actual details, and left out the true origin of the corn flake that I almost want to correct them

But since I am obviously not on the top of the food chain in THAT company, I dont know all the reasons why the information was omitted.

It could be legal issues.. but still.. it doesnt present an accurate picture at all.


Example -
Quote:
and is best known for the invention of the corn flake breakfast cereal with his brother.


Well.. thats frankly B/S.
He tried to offer suggestions, saw dust and wood to be specific.. argued against what was being put into it, Corn, sugar etc..
But having a real hand in it?
Not as much as wiki would have you think.
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Shapeless
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Nov, 2006 10:25 pm
The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ran an article by Brock Read about the split of opinions among academics on the matter of Wikipedia. The article begins with an anecdote about a SUNY-Buffalo professor (now at Quinnipiac University) who conducted an experiment on Wikipedia's accuracy by deliberately falsifying some of the information on its website; he was sure that he'd prove how unreliable Wikipedia is in keeping track of errors. What he found, however, was the Wikipedia was remarkably quick in rooting out the falsified information. Here's the beginning of the article:

Quote:
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Nov, 2006 10:34 pm
I've found them/it relatively blank on art and architecture, except when it was useful - but what was useful was substantiated in other places. I think they're just beginning on those subjects.
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PoeticMisterE
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Nov, 2006 06:36 pm
LOVE IT
I absolutely love wikipedia....
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Nov, 2006 06:56 pm
Great post, Shapeless, thank you for that.

His observation (the gentleman in the quoted article) that Wikipedia cleaned up the errors within three hours is right in line with what i have seen--one more than one occassion, i've heard news on the radio (the announcement on July 11th that Syd Barrett had died July 7th, for example) which was not found in web searches for news, but which had already been incorporated into Wikipedia articles. When i heard about Barrett, i started a thread about his death, and went to Wikipedia to make sure i'd spelled his name correctly (Wikipedia is great for fact checking mundane things like that, which will make you look like a tool is you get them wrong). When i got to his bio page, Wikipedia had already updated the information, minutes after having heard the "breaking news" on radio.
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Chai
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Nov, 2006 07:24 pm
I like wikipedia....so there.



some peoples always got to be bitchin' about sumfin.
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shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Nov, 2006 08:12 pm
like you bitchin about likin wiki..


Laughing
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Shapeless
 
  1  
Reply Fri 10 Nov, 2006 10:43 pm
Yes, I find Wikipedia to be a surprisingly useful tool. Evidently the enthusiasm of its contributors for total accuracy can backfire, though; Jaron Lanier wrote an article for Edge magazine a while ago, lambasting the whole Wikipedia enterprise. Most of his reasons are silly--he complains about the "hive mentality" that it fosters, but he does relate an amusing (though frustrating for him) anecdote about his own Wikipedia entry. Apparently he directed a film a while ago and was so disgusted by the result that he decided never to get behind a camera again. He noticed that his Wikipedia entry listed "director" as one of his occupations, and to set the record straight he tried editing his entry; but someone always goes and puts it back in. Here's an excerpt from his Edge article:

Quote:
My Wikipedia entry identifies me (at least this week) as a film director. It is true I made one experimental short film about a decade and a half ago. The concept was awful: I tried to imagine what Maya Deren would have done with morphing. It was shown once at a film festival and was never distributed and I would be most comfortable if no one ever sees it again.

In the real world it is easy to not direct films. I have attempted to retire from directing films in the alternative universe that is the Wikipedia a number of times, but somebody always overrules me. Every time my Wikipedia entry is corrected, within a day I'm turned into a film director again. I can think of no more suitable punishment than making these determined Wikipedia goblins actually watch my one small old movie.


In the end, though, Wikipedia still seems to have come out on top: I just checked out Lanier's current Wikipedia entry and not only does it not mention his directorial dabblings, but it also cites the article I just quoted. Clearly, Wikipedia writers do their homework.
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Quincy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 19 Nov, 2006 01:01 pm
yea, wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica

http://news.com.com/2100-1038_3-5997332.html

so there
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Elly
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Nov, 2006 02:31 am
Like a lot of places on the net, it doesn't do to take all its facts as fact Laughing
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Nov, 2006 06:28 am
"Trust, but verify" Wikipedia uses that quote from Churchill quite regularly
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Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Nov, 2006 06:30 am
I would suppose that the reason that Wikipedia is, in some ways better than Brittanica is this: If Brittanica makes an error, they need to wait for a new edition to come out to correct the error. Wikipedia can make the changes almost immediately.

Some people are spoilsports, can't stand change, and live by the motto, "but we always did it THIS way before"! Laughing
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farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Nov, 2006 06:48 am
Whenever there are two or more subjects with the same name (like Vermeer-it can mean Johannes Vermeer van Delft or Vermeer machinery company or another 3 things) Wikipedia puts in a "disambiguation" link to highlight each one and ditinguish them.

Osso, Ive found that the standard "Biographical" content of srt is handled quite well in Wikipedia. The concepts of techniques and relationships are not.

Heres a good biographical sketch on Han van Meegeren, one of my favorite art forgers. Theres enough information given to get a serious student goingVERMEER FORGERIES
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edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 25 Nov, 2006 07:00 am
The MSN Encarta encyclopedia has errors. I suppose all of them do. The first entry I read on Encarta stated that Jerry Lee Lewis, singer of Great Balls of Fire, also starred in The Nutty Professor. Said entry has been corrected, but, how many have not?
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