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Author Topic: Article: The Six Sins of the Wikipedia  (Read 10622 times)

mouser

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Article: The Six Sins of the Wikipedia
« on: July 03, 2006, 08:25:16 AM »
interesting article

Quote
It is a question of time before the Wikipedia self-destructs and implodes. It poses such low barriers to entry (anyone can edit any number of its articles) that it is already attracting masses of teenagers as "contributors" and "editors", not to mention the less savory flotsam and jetsam of cyber-life. People who are regularly excluded or at least moderated in every other Internet community are welcomed, no questions asked, by this wannabe self-styled "encyclopedia"

Six cardinal (and, in the long-term, deadly) sins plague this online venture. What unites and underlies all its deficiencies is simple: Wikipedia dissembles about what it is and how it operates. It is a self-righteous confabulation and its success in deceiving the many attests not only to the gullibility of the vast majority of Netizens but to the PR savvy of its sleek and slick operators.
...



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Rover

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Re: Article: The Six Sins of the Wikipedia
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2006, 09:45:53 AM »
He makes some good points.  I never really paid that much attention to how Wikipedia works, but the absolute anarchy of it, is pretty stupid IMHO.  :down:

Let it die, I say.
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housetier

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Re: Article: The Six Sins of the Wikipedia
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2006, 11:04:23 AM »
Just the excerpt contains many strong words. I am not sure if I want to read on...

I tend to say: "it's free, so why do you complain?" Of course "free" doesn't justify "bad", but "commercial" definitely implies "good". If I want super-service I pay the super-service-fee.

It's a good thing nobody is forced to exclusively rely on wikipedia.

Gothi[c]

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Re: Article: The Six Sins of the Wikipedia
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2006, 01:53:03 PM »
Wikipedia does seem to self-correct quite rapidly just because it can be edited by anyone.

At least for now. The number of people trying to provide usefull content seems to outnumber the trolls - sofar. Just wait till advertising companies discover wiki's. (Pay-per-post anyone?)

Just don't rely on wikipedia for accurate information,- which goes for just about anything on the internet.

I still think it's a nice collection of centralized information sofar. When it really becomes a problem I guess they could just disallow anyone from editing and add stricter moderated account-rules.



Carol Haynes

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Re: Article: The Six Sins of the Wikipedia
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2006, 02:00:16 PM »
It's an interesting question ... I read an article a while back that suggested Wikipedia was at least as accurate (and more comprehensive) as Encarta and Britannica. It also showed the history of a page from inception (very brief sketch) to date (very comprehensive) complete with all the mindless graffitti and vandalism along the way. The good guys seemd to fix any vandalism within seconds !

JavaJones

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Re: Article: The Six Sins of the Wikipedia
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2006, 02:24:19 PM »
You know, I agree with basically every one of his points. I have 2 problems with this and other articles.

1: The Wikipedia does present a vast amount of very good, useful, real information, often much more than is in the average enyclopedia. He talks about inaccuracy and revisionist history, but pretty much any school text book is full of the same, as are encyclopedias, and all history is somewhat influenced by perspective as we all hopefully well know here. He's not pointing out anything particularly damning but by making it seem that this is an exclusive issue of the Wikipedia I think he loses credibility. Granted there may be *more* inaccuracy there, but there has been no real accounting done of the percentage of inaccuracy vs. real fact.

2: Every single one of these articles I have seen has been authored by someone who is mad about their *own* entry in the Wikipedia! If that's not a conflict of interest I don't know what is. :P Sure they have a right to be mad about it and point out that something may be inaccurate in the article, and this conflict of interest doesn't invalidate their points. But it certainly makes me take everything they say with a grain of salt. They are not impartial by any means. Ok they make no claims to be either; in fact impartiality is really quite difficult to achieve. Still they seem *particularly* biased to be writing a damning "What's wrong with the Wikipedia" article.

2a: The damning of Wikipedia by these people always seems based on some microcosm of the greater body of articles. This is only natural, no one could read it all; the problem is the articles examined always seem to be something the author has a vested interest in which again reinforces the previously mentioned bias. I have yet to see a general, open comparison of the Wikipedia and several authoratative encyclopedias to see how well their info compares. I know there was one comparison done but according to one of these authors it focused on things the Wikipedia would be particularly good at. Fair enough but won't *someone* take a more impartial, rational look at this? Someone who isn't mentioned in the Wikipedia itself and doesn't have an apparent axe to grind?

Bottom line, as I said at the beginning, I agree with many of the points raised. What's interesting IMO is how much quality and accuracy does shine through and remain consistent. There are definitely some major areas of contention - topics where personal preference, fandom, etc. have a special interest. These topics are actually things many encyclopedias are unlikely to cover at all, or at least in much depth, so perhaps there's not much loss there anyway. I do wish for better controls in the Wikipedia - I'd like to one day feel a bit more confident in all information it presents me. But as it is I have learned a tremendous amount of real, independently verifiable info there. One should not rely on any one source of information anyway, at least not for anything important. I think the Wikipedia deserves a place as one of those sources of info at this point.

It should also be noted that they do seem to be responding to criticism over time. If I recall correctly they have changed some of the rules due to abuse. At its base the Wikipedia is still a big experiment, albeit a highly successful one thus far (IMO anyway). I think it will continue to evolve and if real problems are identified and persist they will be corrected where possible. I have the feeling the first few editions of Britannica wouldn't have even measured up to the Wikipedia in its first year. :D

- Oshyan

mouser

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Re: Article: The Six Sins of the Wikipedia
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2006, 05:37:47 PM »
i have myself complained about access control in wikipedia, but i think oshyan again gets it right, and in fact i would go further:

Wikipedia is amazing.  And the potential to become the definitive trusted source of information on the planet is right there just waiting for when wikipedia figures out how to establish some greater quality control.

In my view, it's not just the raw information that makes Wikipedia so nice, it's the consistent interface (and lack of distracting ads and stuff - ps. I wonder how long they can keep that up - I hope they can but i have fears).

Personally I find the wiki format and stuff a bit confusing and the choices made would not have been my first choices, but i think that's of secondary importance compared to the value of having a nice uniform, familiar feel to the pages that makes it easy to find what you are looking for.  It really is an amazing resource.

JavaJones

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Re: Article: The Six Sins of the Wikipedia
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2006, 05:47:40 PM »
I have been consistently amazed at what some authors can do with Wiki formatting. I just don't "get" it, but oh well. I think making it more user friendly could encourage a wider range of people to contribute, not just technophiles.

Interestingly I think that is one factor that I have not seen mentioned in any of these articles: the very authoring process itself favors the technically inclined! Thus you are unlikely to get people who may very well be experts in some area but who are not technically inclined to be contributing regularly. This to me seems like a fundamental problem.

Anyway I really like what I have seen of the Wikipedia so far, for basically the same reasons mouser mentions. I do hope they are able to figure out how to make it work really well, and I think they will do so. It's a work in progress, an evolutionary process. As I said before the quality level now is remarkable considering the faults that have been in the system from the beginning. It seems like it should really only get better from here.

- Oshyan

mouser

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Re: Article: The Six Sins of the Wikipedia
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2006, 06:02:20 PM »
Quote
Interestingly I think that is one factor that I have not seen mentioned in any of these articles: the very authoring process itself favors the technically inclined! Thus you are unlikely to get people who may very well be experts in some area but who are not technically inclined to be contributing regularly. This to me seems like a fundamental problem.

i think this is a great point..

housetier

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technically inclined
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2006, 06:10:06 PM »
Personally I dislike WikiSyntax and CamelCase and such. I also do not wish to code HTML. For my site I have installed a textile input filter. It provides a powerful syntax while keeping the (unrendered) source readable, HTML-code is beyond "reading" without excellent syntax highlighting.

I readily admit that textile, too, can become complicated; my users so far have been able to handle it well.

I think a drag and drop interface for symlinking or adding pictures/other media would be very nice. Dunno if it's possible to implement such features with <buzzword>AJAX</buzzword>. But that's what I find lacking from most collaborative web thingies: easy way of putting content together. I'd be happy when someone proves me wrong and shows me such an interface.

Wikipedia has had a remarkable and deserved success. It is good enough for most people; some will never be satisfied. It is not easy to get people to write. I have been trying for three years, and only recently found one person willing to regularly write something. Wikipedia seems to have had more success...
:D

Still, it is too complicated for "noobs" to put content on the web in a proper way and that dreaded wiki syntax is one of the reasons.

JavaJones

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Re: Article: The Six Sins of the Wikipedia
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2006, 06:29:51 PM »
Yes, AJAX-type stuff is what I was thinking of as well. A drag-and-drop approach would be ideal. I would love to see it get to the point where truly anyone with an ability to write can put together and illustrate an article. There seems to be an apparent resistence to this though and I'm not sure why. Technological elitism?

- Oshyan

housetier

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making it easier for the average person
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2006, 06:46:22 PM »
for quite some time I have been planning to contribute to My Very Own CMS which will have lots and lots of features using the latest technologies (read: buzzwords such as ajax) such as:

* use drag and drop to rearrange layout
* use d'n'd for adding content
* tight, working irc integration (yes in a CMS)
* TI: total interactivity (I *love* needlessly complicated terms)
...and a few more for which I can't be bothered to look up their English terms

I plan to do this in python. I want to put the desktop into the browser, making the process of creating content the most simple and intuitive task. It will be terribly hard to code. I might not finish it... but I hope I will!

That way I hope to get even more people "into the web" to be creative, without having to struggle with "technology" that doesn't think about the type of people that make up the majority of the planet's population: average people!

(maybe this should go into its own thread by now)


JavaJones

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Re: Article: The Six Sins of the Wikipedia
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2006, 07:50:06 PM »
Sounds good! When can we expect it? :D

- Oshyan

housetier

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Re: Article: The Six Sins of the Wikipedia
« Reply #13 on: July 04, 2006, 05:10:05 AM »
latest projections show estimates between RSN and WIR.


JavaJones

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Re: Article: The Six Sins of the Wikipedia
« Reply #14 on: July 04, 2006, 03:10:04 PM »
Hehe, sweet. Well, let me know if you need any help. It sounds like exactly what I've been looking for. You know, the "ultimate CMS". Quite honestly if you really have the time, talent and interest to do it, I might be able to get you funding. Let me know. :)

- Oshyan

gwynevans

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Re: Article: The Six Sins of the Wikipedia
« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2006, 05:09:02 AM »
It's an interesting question ... I read an article a while back that suggested Wikipedia was at least as accurate (and more comprehensive) as Encarta and Britannica.
In which case, you might want to have a look at this Arstechnica article about Britannica's response.

/Gwyn

Carol Haynes

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Re: Article: The Six Sins of the Wikipedia
« Reply #16 on: July 20, 2006, 05:31:05 AM »
Hmmm ... personally (without having to go through all the research myself) I think I would trust Nature (probably the foremost peer reviewed scientific journal in the world) to Britannica (a once worldwide respected British flagship product - now a rather poor US highly commercialised imitation of its former glory - way over-hyped and over-marketed IMHO)

mouser

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Re: Article: The Six Sins of the Wikipedia
« Reply #17 on: July 20, 2006, 06:10:46 AM »
thanks for those links gwyn, the britanica response pdf is actually interesting.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Article: The Six Sins of the Wikipedia
« Reply #18 on: July 20, 2006, 06:37:25 AM »
Sorry, thanks gwyn (should have said so in my previous post). FWIW (and having read the bulk of the PDF) I would be very surprised if Nature had behaved in such a cavalier manner in the way it conducted the review. It isn't clear how selective Britannica have been in their response, and also it isn't clear whether Nature were at liberty to send the information Britannica requested (if they had guaranteed anonymity to the reviewers then this may simply not have been possible as other academics may have been able to identify the reviewer from their comments).

It's not clear cut for me - Nature were perhaps fishing for a 'tabloid' headline - but it is not generally in their style (as a recent subscriber to Nature I have to say it is probably one of the driest and hardest reads on the planet for anyone - specialists included) but equally Britannica have a commercial axe to grind here - if Wikipedia is shown to be just about as accurate as Britannica why would anyone subscribe to their expensive online service?

To be honest I have never quite worked out why anyone subscribes to online Ecnsylopedias anyway (Britannica or Encarta) when you can buy the whol thing on DVD-ROM for less and have permanent access. OK a few new articles are added each year - but not many - an new DVD every 5 years is probably more than adequate for any serious user.

Robert Carnegie

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Re: Article: The Six Sins of the Wikipedia
« Reply #19 on: July 20, 2006, 07:48:47 AM »
Wikipedia is often attacked by people whose apparent value to the community is reduced by the availability of Wikipedia.  Journalists, publishers, Microsoft... if you can read it for free and without bias at Wikipedia then they might actually have to work at adding value.  How awful!

What's wrong with teenagers anyway, they know everything... more seriously, who is to say that people who still have a full head of hair have nothing to contribute?  Slapheads, that's who.  Well, I'm not buying it, Shiny Top.

( http://en.wikipedia....in_the_United_States )