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Fri May 2, 2014, 10:25 AM

Wikipedia: where truth dies online

From: Sp!ked

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Wikipedia has been a massive success but has always had immense flaws, the greatest one being that nothing it publishes can be trusted. This, you might think, is a pretty big flaw. There are over 21million editors with varying degrees of competence and honesty. Rogue editors abound and do not restrict themselves to supposedly controversial topics, as the recently discovered Hillsborough example demonstrates.

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The self-selection of Wikipedia’s editors can produce a strongly misaligned editorial group around a certain page. It can lead to conflicts among the group members, continuous edit wars, and can require disciplinary measures and formal supervision, with mixed success. Once a dispute has got out of hand, appeals to senior and more established administrators are often followed by rulings that favour the controlling clique.

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Wikipedia may be the ultimate devolved business model. Its content is generated by unpaid and largely uncontrolled volunteers. Its management structure is almost non-existent. Editors earn ‘brownie points’ by obsessively editing as many different pages as possible, preferably in subjects that they know nothing about. Specialist knowledge is frowned upon and discouraged. Those with the best understanding of Wikipedia’s procedures join together to bully and sideline newcomers.

To the casual reader, much of Wikipedia appears adequate, but be warned, nothing can be trusted. If your life depends on it, go elsewhere. Search engines have given us the power to instantly uncover source material that used to take weeks of library research to find – if it was available at all. Sources can be biased, but at least with other sources you know who has written what you are reading. With Wikipedia, you do not. Everyone has an agenda, but with Wikipedia you never know who is setting it.
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http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/wikipedia-where-truth-dies-online/

Some interesting examples of wiki-hoaxes/biases here, most new to me. I do think the writer goes a bit too far in his condemnation: although I agree in approaching Wikipedia with skepticism, it has value (as a starting point, to look up a basic fact, or for a refresher on a common and non-controversial topic, for example)...

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Response to petronius (Original post)

Fri May 2, 2014, 10:30 AM

1. I tend to go with the source links to read the articles as they were written...

and then check out who wrote them.

It's still a good place to get started for leads to do further research. But, it's good to be reminded that information there is not complete and can be misleading or biased.

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Response to KoKo (Reply #1)

Fri May 2, 2014, 08:32 PM

4. Very true - the references portion is a valuable part of any wiki page,

and an essential next step if thorough coverage of the topic is important...

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Response to petronius (Original post)

Fri May 2, 2014, 10:43 AM

2. You mean, like this?

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Response to DetlefK (Reply #2)

Fri May 2, 2014, 08:29 PM

3. I hadn't seen that before, but I think that's what they had in mind

Although truthfully, for those of us in the right age group, that entry summons up all the information that's required...

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Response to petronius (Reply #3)

Sat May 3, 2014, 11:46 PM

5. When we were kids back in those days,

My kid brother used to tie a towel around his neck and run around the house when the show started and the "Batman" theme played!

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Response to petronius (Original post)

Sun May 4, 2014, 07:40 AM

6. I used to edit on Wikipedia

It is a cesspool for trolls and the like who push a particular POV. Wikipedia can be good for basic information, but on many of the topics that are controversial I wouldn't trust it.

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Response to davidpdx (Reply #6)

Mon May 5, 2014, 12:43 PM

9. I imagine it's an interesting experience. But yeah, the proverbial pinch of salt is needed.

 

I'm OK using it to remember the name of a band's third album, but for anything important or controversial it's a starting-point at best.

It might be cool, on a really bored day, to find a hot topic and refresh the page over and over again, but I haven't done it

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Response to petronius (Original post)

Mon May 5, 2014, 10:55 AM

7. I was involved in one of those edit wars once

I was drawing information from documented sources that included eye witnesses and first hand accounts. The edits would revert back to the un-sourced factually challenged versions with little or no explanation of the edits. It became pretty obvious there was a political agenda at work.

Since it wasn't really that important to me, I gave up the battle pretty quickly.

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Response to petronius (Original post)

Mon May 5, 2014, 12:33 PM

8. The new York times: where less about Iraq killed many nt

 

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