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bigbird
Bigbird  (Level: 239.2 - Posts: 3300)
Sat, 24th Mar '07 9:40 PM

BEWARE WIKIPEDIA!

I'm sure that everyone is aware that Wikipedia cannot be considered the ultimate authority on anything, since absolutely anyone can edit articles, add information, etc.

However, today I discovered a new low. I was with a group of science teachers, and one of them was saying that both he and a group of his students have been having a wonderful time editing Wikipedia articles and purposely putting in false information. These kids have been adding their own names into articles talking about their general geographic area, as if they are the big celebrities from the area.

So, just another caution that Wikipedia cannot be considered the ultimate reservoir of knowledge.

Alice

smoke20
Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Sat, 24th Mar '07 9:48 PM

I use it a lot, but I verify anything the least bit dubious. The thing is, just like here, everybody's an editor. Only there if you find a mistake, you can fix it. Many people, probably thousands, make it their mission to browse and edit for just such shenanigans as you describe. I've removed hundreds of curse words and obviously fabricated additions myself. I heard a piece on NPR not long ago abut how amazingly accurate it is considering its format. A college professor said he's rather have his class use Wiki than a 10-year-old encyclopedia set.

Shame on that teacher!

aslan
Aslan  (Level: 27.6 - Posts: 356)
Sat, 24th Mar '07 10:05 PM

That teacher should be banned from teaching, Alice. I hope you told her what a horrible example she's setting.

berylm
Berylm  (Level: 156.0 - Posts: 478)
Sat, 24th Mar '07 11:41 PM

Hopefully the next people who know anything of the subject to read the articles will simply correct them!

I agree, though - that teacher should be struck off.

mindmonkey
Mindmonkey  (Level: 270.3 - Posts: 295)
Sun, 25th Mar '07 4:43 AM

The problem is not looking at wikipedia. Instead, it's not knowing enough of the subject to be suspicious of the information. The people who give the wrong information in their quizes here often looked and used the information because they didn't know any better. There is only one way to solve that one--don't write quizes on things you don't know at least something about. If you have some knowledge of whatever it is, the red flags go up all over wikipedia.

Personally, I've seen some unbelievable errors in wikipedia and all of the other clones that spread the junk all over the internet. I don't see that type of thing in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

surreyman
Surreyman  (Level: 260.4 - Posts: 2770)
Sun, 25th Mar '07 5:19 AM

Aye to all comments above.

In UK info circles it's called 'Wickedpedia' and is a standing joke.

We especially find that common 'USA' misunderstandings and/or 'agendas' about the UK or elsewhere creep in. I have had big battles on serious newsgroup discussions attempting to convince otherwise intelligent USA people (who can tend to regard Wiki as the ultimate source) that a fact is just plain wrong!

By all means use Wiki to check a forgotten but known fact, etc., but never for new info.

It's by no means all bad! But the bad bits are there and unless that's realised ......

bigbird
Bigbird  (Level: 239.2 - Posts: 3300)
Sun, 25th Mar '07 5:48 AM

Asian - Ahem! That teacher was a he, not a she. I'm just a little sensitive right now. I was told over and over yesterday that I "drive like a man" - which was supposed to be the highest complement that this dude (not the same one as the Wikifraud) could imagine handing out. I got 4 hours of his sexist crap non-stop. Almost stopped by the side of the highway and dumped him out, but he was 84 years old and I felt vaguely guilty.

Alice

aslan
Aslan  (Level: 27.6 - Posts: 356)
Sun, 25th Mar '07 8:13 AM

Alice: Sorry for the inadvertent sexism. It's just that the most influential teachers I had were women.

Lesson learned.


mindmonkey
Mindmonkey  (Level: 270.3 - Posts: 295)
Mon, 26th Mar '07 1:56 AM

Perhaps the most telling thing about the self-serving wikipedia url relating to accuracy dispute is that the article, itself, has a wikipedia note which states:

"The factual accuracy of this article is disputed."

How bad can it get?

smoke20
Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Mon, 26th Mar '07 7:21 AM

Perhaps you missed the colon? That's an illustration.

aslan
Aslan  (Level: 27.6 - Posts: 356)
Mon, 26th Mar '07 8:14 AM

The most current issue of Time magazine has an article by the founder of Wikipedia. It is the April 2 issue.

The story can be found here:

http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1601491,00.html

mindmonkey
Mindmonkey  (Level: 270.3 - Posts: 295)
Mon, 26th Mar '07 2:06 PM

And, how many times have you gone to a wikipedia article and and seen that illustration?

Do you want another example? Last night I saw an article that placed the Battle of Tippecanoe in Ohio. It actually was fought in Indiana. No flag on that article.

smoke20
Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Mon, 26th Mar '07 4:03 PM

Then put one on!

The point is not to mistake it for what it's not; a point clearly made by the founder in the article linked in Aslan's post. Instead of faulting it for not being what it has never claimed to be, try to appreciate it for the grand experiment it is. It's a wonderful resource when used correctly and a brilliant exercise in group dynamics, and just as with Sploofus, they are constantly working to improve. No one pretends it's infallible, nor is any other encyclopedic source I've ever seen.

kaufman
Kaufman  (Level: 256.8 - Posts: 3936)
Mon, 26th Mar '07 4:07 PM

Right, as opposed to, say, Encarta, where employees charged with building it were discouraged from making it properly accurate. Or so I've seen alleged online ...

smoke20
Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Mon, 26th Mar '07 4:10 PM

Out of curiosity, I checked the entry for the battle of Tippecanoe:

The Battle of Tippecanoe was fought in 1811 between United States forces led by Governor William Henry Harrison of the Indiana Territory and forces of Tecumseh's growing American Indian confederation. The battle took place outside Prophetstown, near present-day Battle Ground, Indiana...

kaufman
Kaufman  (Level: 256.8 - Posts: 3936)
Mon, 26th Mar '07 4:30 PM

If Wiki references a battle of Tylertoo, I'm blowing the whistle.

smoke20
Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Mon, 26th Mar '07 4:47 PM

THAT one was in Ohio.

mindmonkey
Mindmonkey  (Level: 270.3 - Posts: 295)
Mon, 26th Mar '07 4:50 PM

The reference to Tippecanoe was in the entry "History of Ohio."

As to correcting wikipedia myself. I have way too much to do--especially when somebody else with either more misinformation or an agenda can change it again in the next minute. I am not going to do work that should be done throughout this whole thing by professionals hired to produce accurate information that is cited and verifiable. That's how encyclopedias have done it for centuries.

smoke20
Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Mon, 26th Mar '07 4:58 PM

But that's not what Wikipedia is. It's public and interactive, not a product of paid experts. You're holding it to a standard it doesn't profess. You're blaming a comic book for not being a novel.

Apples and oranges. Boots and sandals.

If you don't like it, don't use it.

End of story.

smoke20
Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Mon, 26th Mar '07 5:10 PM

Okay, help me out, here. I've read the Ohio article and the History of Ohio index, followed all the links and still can't find the mistake you refer to. Can you kindly link me to the page with the error?

Thanks.

smoke20
Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Mon, 26th Mar '07 5:19 PM

If this is the passage, I can't find anything wrong with it.

"Ohio was on the front lines of the War of 1812, as the frontiermen angrily charged that British agents in Canada had provided weapons (especially rifles and gunpowder) to hostile Indian tribes. Simultaneously Tecumseh's War was the conflict in the Old Northwest between the U.S. and an Indian confederacy led by the Shawnee chief Tecumseh, who became an official ally of the British in 1812. William Henry Harrison's victory at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, coupled with the defeat and death of Tecumseh in 1813 broke the power of the Indians. After 1815 the British no longer traded with the Indians of Ohio nor provided them military supplies."

It refers to the battle as a cause for the cessation of trade with the natives of Ohio, but doesn't say that it took place in Ohio. It could be more clearly stated, but it's not factually wrong as far as I can see.




charlemange
Charlemange  (Level: 55.9 - Posts: 42)
Mon, 26th Mar '07 6:37 PM

The problem with this logic is that the encyclopedias that Wikipedia has replaced were no more accurate.

Crack any Funk & Wagnall's volume, and easily 10% of the entries would have significant factual errors, or be immediately dated, or ethnocentrically biased, or otherwise ill-informed.

Wikipedia may be no better than that, but at least there are people behind you who will pick up most of these errors, be they intentional or not, as they are made or soon after.

Never trust Wikipedia without verifying your facts somewhere else (that clearly didn't take their information from Wikipedia themselves), but just like any other wide-ranging reference work, it's an excellent place to start any hunt for information.

mindmonkey
Mindmonkey  (Level: 270.3 - Posts: 295)
Mon, 26th Mar '07 6:49 PM

You are correct that I am blaming a comic book for not being a novel. Unfortunately, large numbers of people assume that it isn't a comic book and therefore, they rely on it.

And, yes, that is the offending passage. In the context of that article, there is no reference to Indiana and everything else in the paragraph, etc, refers to Ohio. Other histories of Ohio note that the end of the Indian Wars in that state came in 1795 with the ceeding of Ohio, etc. See, for example:

http://concise.britannica.com/ebc/article-9076344/Anthony-(“Mad-Anthony”)-Wayne



smoke20
Smoke20  (Level: 62.6 - Posts: 2815)
Mon, 26th Mar '07 7:04 PM

I can't reproduce it here, but that paragraph contains 5 links that clearly say and show on maps that the battle took place in what is now Indiana. Indiana Territory (not yet a state) is also mentioned in the previous paragraph, though not in relation to the battle. The article is about Ohio, and only refers to the battle tangentially as a part of Tecumseh's War and its impact on Ohio.

If "large numbers of people rely on it" to be infallible, that's THEIR mistake, in spite of Wikipedia's prominent disclaimers.


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