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Discussion Starter #1
The thread "the liberal media" myth turned into a discussion of whether or not you can trust the information on Wikipedia.

I read several articles like this one back in Dec. '05, but this one from BBC seemed like a good one to link to:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4530930.stm

I just thought some here might be interested in this since the subject has been brought up and made some people question if they feel comfortable using Wikipedia now.

I usually use it for science, music and art. I feel very comfortable using it and will continue to. I think it is very important to our culture to have access to such a wide variety of subjects about the world around us. There are things on Wikipedia you just can't find anywhere else.

Just my 2 cents :wink:
 

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I don't believe in taking anything as "truth" that isn't backed up by a real person. The anonymity of Wikipedia (and the internet in general) makes it a gamble. That doesn't mean it's wrong all the time, or even much of the time - it simply means that if it is wrong, and you fail to follow up on your findings, you're never going to have a clue.

For casual use, the internet is fine, but I'd rather verify any important information with real people.

I was using Wikipedia when I came across this thread earlier, as a matter of fact. :D Reading up on Monty Python.
 

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Yeah I find it hard to trust it for information that's actually important. (Not that Monty Python isn't :p )


shengmei said:
I use it for my teaching.
I don't think I could feel comfortable teaching other people with information that I can't be 100% percent on. But I guess that's you. How comfortable are you with that?
 

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I use it for my teaching.
That's interesting, because the lecturers at our university discourage people from using it other than for basic infomation. If you cite from Wikipedia you are likely to get a warning from them. It is not academic material, it's just for basic reference points. It's a great site and I use it regularly as a starting point for some of my more taxing essays, but only as a starting point.

''It is based on wikis, open-source software which lets anyone fiddle with a webpage, anyone reading a subject entry can disagree, edit, add, delete, or replace the entry.''

Are you really comfortable teaching people from a source that has admitted itself that it's not always acurate? I'd be careful if I was you, it's not the quality of your own work that you are risking.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I am not sure why, but my link to the BBC article isn't working today. I thought I checked to see if it was when I posted.

Sooo, I just thought I would cut and paste this article which pretty much says the same thing.

Wikipedia, despite expert’s opinion, extremely accurate.
Last update: 01/20/2006 Submitted by Azerad, Aaron

 
 "While most of us would probably feel that there is no better gateway to knowledge then the complete volume set of the Encyclopedia Britannica, new research shows the answers may be right in front of your computer monitor.  Wikipedia the online encyclopedia which consists of nearly four million articles, ranging any where from the French revolution to the sport of extreme ironing, may be all that you need.  Recently the scientific journal Nature published an online comparison between Britannica and Wikipedia, reviewing the two's scientific credibility.

 

Since its establishment in 2001 wikipedia has been at the front of many criticisms over the accuracy and efficiency of its articles.  Wikipedia primarily runs on voluntary contributions from its registered members.  The web log also allows visitors to edit/add any new piece of information to a given article.  This makes it extremely intricate for its editor’s to correct any mistakes.  Nature however in a quest to prove supremacy in the information world did a 42 side by side article study of both Britannica and Wikipedia.  The results concluded that the average wikipedia article contained four errors as oppose Britannica’s three.  “The errors include anything form false facts to often loose interpretations of key concepts “, reported the article. 

Jimmy Wales’s founder of wikipedia reportedly said “We're very pleased with the results and we're hoping it will focus people's attention on the overall level of our work, which is pretty good”.  Wales goes on to defend the accuracy of his coinage, claiming experts from across the globe could now weigh in on any given subject.  Wikipedia announced that it would be testing new quality control mechanics to help preserve accuracy.  Wikipedia the 37th most popular website visited continues to offer its service free of charge and written in nearly 200 languages, now with a new seal of approval."


for what it is worth....
 

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"This makes it extremely intricate for its editor’s to correct any mistakes."...Where is this article from? Because I wouldn't trust a source that is unable to use the word 'intricate' in the right context.
 

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Thanks emrldsky. Like I said though, you have to doubt the reliability of such a badly written article.

I agree fuzzy that it's a great site for looking up things that don't really have much importance. However, if you are going to use it, I would research any 'fact' that you are likely to use from their site, and make sure you are able to back it up with a credible source. I think the fact that anybody can edit the infomation means that it really isn't worth risking taking what they say as gospel.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
spamlet said:
Thanks emrldsky. Like I said though, you have to doubt the reliability of such a badly written article.

I agree fuzzy that it's a great site for looking up things that don't really have much importance. However, if you are going to use it, I would research any 'fact' that you are likely to use from their site, and make sure you are able to back it up with a credible source. I think the fact that anybody can edit the infomation means that it really isn't worth risking taking what they say as gospel.
Yeah you are right. I should have chosen a better example. There are lots of articles written on the study the journal "Nature" did comparing Britannica and Wikipedia.

I have one I copied off of CNN but could not find it on the net. The one on the BBC site worked for me last night but doesn't today.

I just thought it was interesting that Wikipedia held up that well in this study.

It is early here, and I really don't have time to post...I should have left this subject alone. I saw the confusion about it on the other thread. I tried to explain that there are lots of people correcting mistakes and downright flaming commentaries that happen because it is open for everyone to edit. But isn't that the beauty of it? It is truly by the people for the people.

I also use it for things that are not that important, like music and art
and Monty Python :wink:

Anyway, I just thought it was interesting......
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Well to make things worse, I just checked the BBC link again and now it works.

I think I will go crawl under a rock now. :oops:

forget it.
 

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EChryst said:
shengmei said:
I use it for my teaching.
I don't think I could feel comfortable teaching other people with information that I can't be 100% percent on. But I guess that's you. How comfortable are you with that?
A introductory biology course has about 5000 vocabulary words, which is way too many in my opinion. The Campbell book (a classic) is an excellent book but my students find the definitions of the vocabulary didatic and difficult to understand. Wikipedia may only be 98% accurate, but for the purpose of an introductory science class that is heavy on vocabulary, it is quite sufficient, succinct, and concise.


I took Latin as a foreign language in high school (had gotten medals, too). So far I actually think biology has more vocabulary words than an introductionary foreign language course, and should be taught accordingly. My Latin education had helped me with biology immensely, but I realize that most of my students didn't have that advantage before coming to college. Wikipedia, unlike the Campbell textbook, actually explains the vernaculars and the origins of the scientific normenclature......which, I believe, is immensely helpful.

Pretty much all of the stuff I look up on Wikipedia for my own teaching I already know the definitions. However, being a graduate student, I can be quite dry and arduous in my interpretations. Wikipedia is fun, entertaining, and easy to comprehend. It literally saves my students from being bored to death.
 

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I have only seen one or two articles on wiki that had major issues. One was the article on Electroconvulsive Therapy and the other on cat food. The former was marked as being controversial with neutrality disputed (I'd seen that on other articles too, but this one was clearly over the line). The latter I added some additional info to, so now it is decent.

For the most part, Wikipedia is quite good, and unlike britannica or other sources, when something is disputed it usually is flagged as disputed, and further, each article has its own discussion page.

But I would definitely recommend checking out that ECT article as an example of when wiki doesn't work - basically, anything controversial.
 

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shengmei said:
Pretty much all of the stuff I look up on Wikipedia for my own teaching I already know the definitions. However, being a graduate student, I can be quite dry and arduous in my interpretations. Wikipedia is fun, entertaining, and easy to comprehend. It literally saves my students from being bored to death.
Sounds more like Wikipedia saves you from having to do more work. Not that this is a bad thing, but I wouldn't say that Wikipedia is 'literally' saving your students from being bored to death. Last time I checked, it's not possible for that to happen 'literally'.

:D
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Unfortunately I posted when I didn't really have enough time to look this up and came up with an article that just brought ridicule to this subject.
I have had a little more time to find the article that I was really looking for, so I thought I would post it. It might clear up what I was trying to say in the first place that unfortunately got trampled because of one word.

spamlet said:
Because I wouldn't trust a source that is unable to use the word 'intricate' in the right context.
Well.... this may still not come up to your standards "spamlet" :D ....but I am going to post it anyway.

This is from:
http://www.nature.com/news/2005/051212/ ... 8900a.html


Nature
Published online: 14 December 2005;

Internet encyclopaedias go head to head
Jimmy Wales' Wikipedia comes close to Britannica in terms of the accuracy of its science entries, a Nature investigation finds.


Jim Giles
One of the extraordinary stories of the Internet age is that of Wikipedia, a free online encyclopaedia that anyone can edit. This radical and rapidly growing publication, which includes close to 4 million entries, is now a much-used resource. But it is also controversial: if anyone can edit entries, how do users know if Wikipedia is as accurate as established sources such as Encyclopaedia Britannica?

Several recent cases have highlighted the potential problems. One article was revealed as falsely suggesting that a former assistant to US Senator Robert Kennedy may have been involved in his assassination. And podcasting pioneer Adam Curry has been accused of editing the entry on podcasting to remove references to competitors' work. Curry says he merely thought he was making the entry more accurate.

  However, an expert-led investigation carried out by Nature — the first to use peer review to compare Wikipedia and Britannica's coverage of science — suggests that such high-profile examples are the exception rather than the rule.

The exercise revealed numerous errors in both encyclopaedias, but among 42 entries tested, the difference in accuracy was not particularly great: the average science entry in Wikipedia contained around four inaccuracies; Britannica, about three.
Considering how Wikipedia articles are written, that result might seem surprising. A solar physicist could, for example, work on the entry on the Sun, but would have the same status as a contributor without an academic background. Disputes about content are usually resolved by discussion among users.

But Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia and president of the encyclopaedia's parent organization, the Wikimedia Foundation of St Petersburg, Florida, says the finding shows the potential of Wikipedia. "I'm pleased," he says. "Our goal is to get to Britannica quality, or better."
Wikipedia is growing fast. The encyclopaedia has added 3.7 million articles in 200 languages since it was founded in 2001. The English version has more than 45,000 registered users, and added about 1,500 new articles every day of October 2005. Wikipedia has become the 37th most visited website, according to Alexa, a web ranking service.
But critics have raised concerns about the site's increasing influence, questioning whether multiple, unpaid editors can match paid professionals for accuracy. Writing in the online magazine TCS last year, former Britannica editor Robert McHenry declared one Wikipedia entry — on US founding father Alexander Hamilton — as "what might be expected of a high-school student". Opening up the editing process to all, regardless of expertise, means that reliability can never be ensured, he concluded.
Yet Nature's investigation suggests that Britannica's advantage may not be great, at least when it comes to science entries. In the study, entries were chosen from the websites of Wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica on a broad range of scientific disciplines and sent to a relevant expert for peer review. Each reviewer examined the entry on a single subject from the two encyclopaedias; they were not told which article came from which encyclopaedia. A total of 42 usable reviews were returned out of 50 sent out, and were then examined by Nature's news team.

Only eight serious errors, such as misinterpretations of important concepts, were detected in the pairs of articles reviewed, four from each encyclopaedia. But reviewers also found many factual errors, omissions or misleading statements: 162 and 123 in Wikipedia and Britannica, respectively.
 

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Unfortunately I posted when I didn't really have enough time to look this up and came up with an article that just brought ridicule to this subject.
I have had a little more time to find the article that I was really looking for, so I thought I would post it. It might clear up what I was trying to say in the first place that unfortunately got trampled because of one word.
Just to clarify. I didn't ridicule nor did I trample on any point. It was not one word, it was the whole article that was badly written. Maybe my 'standards' are too high, although I don't believe standards can be too high when it comes to grammar. Also, surely you must have noted the irony of the situation?

Anyway, we can throw sources at each other all day. I'm not even sure what your argument is.

For personal use it may be a beneficial source. As a primary academic source though, I wouldn't trust it.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
spamlet said:
Also, surely you must have noted the irony of the situation?
Yes, I have :lol:.... I love irony...in fact I live for it. You could say irony is my life :cool

Are you a Dr. Who fan? How about Douglas Adams? I see you are a Brit :p

spamlet said:
I'm not even sure what your argument is.
I don't believe I had an argument. I just wanted to post some info I thought might be of interest to someone.

So one of your interests is heated debates?

Have a nice day or night...or whatever :spam let

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"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."

Douglas Adams (another brit)
 
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