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Annoyingly inaccurate articles!

 9:39 am on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

I find it incredibly annoying that Wikipedia doesn't seem to verify their content. It seems any "goober" can write anything they want and it goes unchecked.

Some of the articles are incredibly inaccurate, but because it calls itself an "encyclopedia" ... people are willing to believe anything written on their pages!

I don't want to become a wikipedia editor, I don't have the time or the inclination to rewrite their stuff for them. But c'mon ... doesn't anyone check for quality or at the very least, verify historical facts on this site?

Man it irks me! I was talking to a friend's 9 year old son yesterday and he stated an incorrect fact about our country. When I corrected him, he said, "nuh ahh ... I checked and Wikipedia said this ..."

I took a look and sure enough, there it was. This kid was using Wikipedia to do his homework for heaven's sake and they had 3 "facts" wrong within a 4 paragraph page.

Why is so much credence given to this site by the search engines? I just don't get it. It is really annoying! Arrrgh. :(



 2:52 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

3) Authors/editors can't be bothered to check and verify historical facts?

That's one of the "benefits" of socialistic web publishing. No one gets paid, no one gets double-checked. There is no motivation to be right.


 4:07 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

I've had problems correcting innacuracies when I know for a fact something is wrong because I was there at the time. My corrections always get removed, I'm assuming this is because a newspaper once printed an article on the subject with the same errors. Thing is - they got their information from a compulsive liar with a major substance abuse problem and failed to check their facts before they went to press.

In the old days no-one especially worried about rubbish in newspapers because it would soon be tomorrow's fish and chip wrapping. Now it seems a ficticious story can pass as fact permanently because wikipedia considers things printed in newspapers reliable.

Another area of innacuracy would be medicine, specifically cancer. If you go look at the research for yourself and correct an innacuracy based on what you have read, its gone within seconds. The results of dozens of placebo-controlled double blinded studies on various substances are instantly deleted in favour of some dangerous yet more profitable Orthodoxy.

Hm. Of course, you could say selecting against those members of the population with a trusting nature and a gullibility gene is no bad thing.. :)


 5:16 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you think Wikipedia is bad, I have some advice for ya... don't ever go to university. If you're shocked now, you won't survive experiencing academia. There aren't thousands of eyes checking what professors say for accuracy, and they just say the damndest things.

I've been listening to some classics lectures lately, and given the small domain, and long history of the subject, you'd think there would be few howlers, but, oh my. Very bad for the blood pressure having so many provably false assumptions stated as bald "facts". Much of what is taught is simply hearsay and prejudice within the community of scholars, and always has been, some of which turns out to be so, and lots just dead wrong. Over hundreds of years, such inaccuracies often get sorted out, so give Wikipedia a little time.


 6:26 pm on Jul 4, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>>> Google and other SE's give it so much credence?

Probably because it has the qualities / criteria that SEs look for using their algorithm.

The same criteria that so many are eager to discover and exploit on their pages to acheive higher rankings.


 10:14 am on Jul 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

Wikipedia calls itself an encyclopedia? It isn't.

Why is it not?


 4:11 am on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

So many of us are unaware that an incredible portion of what was printed in the official history books and encyclopedias that we referenced throughout our school days, was incorrect. This was done sometimes as a misunderstanding -- repeating incorrect information from other sources. But other times, we were actually purposely lied to. For example, history books glorified Woodrow Wilson, but neglected to mention that he was a white supremacist, and during his reign we came closer to becoming a police state than ever (except for modern times, sadly). (See the book "Lies My Teacher Told Me")

Sources like Wikipedia, while containing countless errors or willful lies, also contains truths that have never been found in our mainstream sources.

It becomes a matter of using one's intuition on what is true and what is false, and going back and checking more sources where unsure.


 1:17 pm on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

Why is it not?

Encyclopedia: A comperhensive and substantive collection of knowledge referencing works of knowledgeable individuals educated in their particular field. A collective work containing references to sources of information, historical data, ideas and facts generally held to be accurate and complete.

I don't know of any encyclopedia written by unnamed authors containing unsubstantiated "facts" or which lacks source references.


 2:46 pm on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

This just in:

Jimmy Wales Starting Campaign Wikis [politics.slashdot.org]

Jimmy Wales, self-described creator of the Wikipedia, is apparently trying to bring the functionality offered by the Internet encyclopedia to a new realm: politics and political campaigns. He is starting a new website, the Campaigns Wikia, which "has the goal of bringing together people from diverse political perspectives who may not share much else, but who share the idea that they would rather see democratic politics be about engaging with the serious ideas of intelligent opponents, about activating and motivating ordinary people to get involved and really care about politics beyond the television soundbites." Sounds intriguing, but one has to wonder if it will be plagued by internecine feuding, punditry, and political manipulation.

More news at 11.


 3:51 pm on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

I just don't understand why:
1) Wikipedia calls itself an encyclopedia? It isn't.
2) Google and other SE's give it so much credence?
3) Authors/editors can't be bothered to check and verify historical facts?

1. The assumption that all the information in an encyclopedia is inherently accurate seems rather silly. Wikipedia contains errors just like any other encyclopedia does (to a varying degree, depending on the topic).

2. Because people do, and link to it (and in the majority of cases, justifiedly so).

3. There's no such thing as a "fact". There's only "knowledge". And knowledge, including yours, may be or may not be correct.


 4:15 pm on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

What if the article has no sources? I could write about something new that cannot be linked to another source. What then?

If you're writing about a subject which is so obscure that there are no other sources of information available about it (or related to it), then it probably shouldn't be a wikipedia article to begin with. From Wikipedia's posting guidelines:

No original research.
Articles may not contain any unpublished theories, data, statements, concepts, arguments, or ideas; or any new interpretation, analysis, or synthesis of published data, statements, concepts, arguments, or ideas that, in the words of Wikipedia's co-founder Jimbo Wales, would amount to a "novel narrative or historical interpretation."

We cannot check the accuracy of claims, but we can check whether the claims have been published by a reputable publication. Articles should therefore cite sources whenever possible. Any unsourced material may be challenged and removed.

Tons of articles are deleted from Wikipedia for being too obscure or "not notable."


 8:05 pm on Jul 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

There's no such thing as a "fact".

I can't believe anyone would make such a statement. Since you seem to believe it though ... you may want to take issue with Wikipedia's definition of what you consider to be non-existant!

Try searching "fact".

Do you wriite articles for Wikipedia? Could be the reason Wikipedia's authors have so little regard for accuracy. Any old "opinion" will do!


 10:07 am on Jul 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Of course there are facts. Scientific facts about the physical reactions of atomic particles for instance. Or key dates and names.

Perhaps the further back in time you go, the less we can be sure of facts being accurate.

Wikipedia is definitely an encyclopedia anyway. If it is not, then what is it? A dictionary? A thesaurus? Do tell.


 10:16 am on Jul 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Its just another website in my opinion.


 10:18 am on Jul 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

The thing that bothers me the most about wikipedia is that the hard-core users seem to care very little about accurate articles and focus solely on keeping anyone from adding external links to good resources.

Several times I have added links to websites (that I don't own) which provide in-depth information about a subject only to be accused of linking spamming and trying to promote my own sites. Too many Wikipedia editors are far more interested in policing other users rather than creating great articles.


 11:01 am on Jul 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Too many Wikipedia editors are far more interested in policing other users rather than creating great articles.

Or perhaps just ensuring that the only links coming from the page go to their own sites? I tell you, Wikipedia is already on the path to DMOZ oblivion.


 2:33 pm on Jul 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Its just another website in my opinion.

So if Wikipedia were to be printed out in full, and placed next to an existing encyclopedia, wouldn't you agree they were remarkably similar?

Now print out your average website. Not the same surely?

...keeping anyone from adding external links to good resources.

I thought that was the idea of Wikipedia?


 5:43 pm on Jul 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Sorry Hester ... I'm not buying what you are selling. You will never convince me that Wikipedia is even close to becoming a bonafide encyclopedia.

So if Wikipedia were to be printed out in full, and placed next to an existing encyclopedia, wouldn't you agree they were remarkably similar?

No. I would not! The only similarity between a real encyclopedia and Wikipedia if Wikipedia were to be printed out in full and bound in a similar hard cover ... might be the colour of hard cover!

I dislike this website because:

1) Becoming an editor requires little or no qualifications to write about any given subject. Any Rube who thinks he knows "stuff" can sputter out reams of worthless and inaccurate crapola and then publish same.

2) "Facts" are frequently not checked and verified before publishing.

3) Source information is often excluded and authoritative works are not cited.

4) The website owner insists on calling this website an encyclopedia.

5) Children (apparently of all ages) are easily mislead into thinking this website contains accurate and trustworthy information.

6) Wikipedia's internal linking system is clearly designed solely for the purpose of search engine rankings.

If I am looking for information on an internal combustion engine, I really do not require links (under the heading of "Applications") to such banal entries as "automobiles", "motorbikes", "boats", "aircraft", "locomotives", "jet aircraft", "helicopters", "gas turbines" or "generators".

They may as well just have included a list of hidden keywords in white type on a white background for all this information is worth! Show me a surfer who is looking for information about "internal combustion engine" who doesn't know its various applications and I will show you a complete and utter moron! This is search engine fodder and nothing more!

7) It is far too easy for self interested editors to cite their own links while at the same time ignoring other, more informative information. The potential for editor bias and corruption is only as limited as the number of keywords you might find in a dictionary!

I could cite more reasons, but I have work to do!


 9:57 pm on Jul 11, 2006 (gmt 0)

Once again..few "facts " are ever set in stone..
Facts are fluid .. what was fact yesterday probably wont be tommorrow ..

again today we throw yesterdays facts out the window ..

Public confidence in the "constants" of nature may be at an all time low. Recent research has found evidence that the value of certain fundamental parameters, such as the speed of light or the invisible glue that holds nuclei together, may have been different in the past.

"There is absolutely no reason these constants should be constant," says astronomer Michael Murphy of the University of Cambridge. "These are famous numbers in physics, but we have no real reason for why they are what they are."
The observed differences are small-roughly a few parts in a million-but the implications are huge: The laws of physics would have to be rewritten, not to mention we might need to make room for six more spatial dimensions than the three that we are used to etc.. yahoo News


 12:21 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Liane, you didn't quote a source for your definition of the word encyclopaedia. And you mis-spelt comprehensive. So now you too are qualified to be a contributor to the Wikipedia.

However, I have to agree that Wikipedia ought to be treated with care. If you're just looking for a bit of info on a music group or pop culture, then Wikipedia is probably the most convenient place to visit. But for serious research, I'd want to have information and data confirmed. Even then Wikipedia can still be of some use, so long as the article contains references to its sources, and many Wikipedia articles do.

So don't be too down on it. All it really needs is a big disclaimer on each page. "Warning: information on this page may not be truthful or accurate. Read at your own risk."


 10:03 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I read the About page and there's plenty of warnings on there about accuracy.


 4:20 am on Jul 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

Liane, you didn't quote a source for your definition of the word encyclopaedia. And you mis-spelt comprehensive. So now you too are qualified to be a contributor to the Wikipedia.

Congratulations UserFriendly! You were the only one who questioned either of these things and you helped to prove my point!

Firstly, I wrote that definition, just to see how gullible people are. Nobody but you questioned my "source".

Secondly, I misspelled "comprehensive" on purpose and as a hint that what I had written may contain inaccuracies ... just like so much of the information contained within Wikipedia. (By the way, in my dictionary, there is no such word as mis-spelt or misspelt!) ;)

Anyway, for me this topic is dead. I said my piece but would never consider contributing to Wikipedia after realizing their woeful lack of checks and balances. To me, Wikipedia is worthless as a "so called" encyclopedia. Unless you know the topic well, one can't possibly know what is or isn't accurate. If somewhat accurate is what the masses are after ... well what can I say? Wiki editors can rewrite history or redefine the facts on any given topic to their heart's content . The sheep will lap it up as it seems any drivel will do.

I will grudgingly admit that becoming an editor is a very tempting way for webmasters to get links from a "so-called" authority site! So if you are looking to build your trust rank, just become a Wiki editor, write whatever crap you like (don't worry too much about fact checking) ... and promote the heck out of your own sites!

LOL ... I wonder how many editors would quit if links to external sources included "no index, no follow" tags! :)


 4:40 am on Jul 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

What I know is with all those top positions on almost every subject that wici has at the moment, Google is loosing huge amounts of revenues ,there are more informative content sites with adsense that come after wiki Goliath ,just wonder when the GOOG stock holders will realize that and puss wiki a bit down in SERPS (manually) regardless there size , links and SE compatibility. My 10$.


 4:43 am on Jul 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

Oh...just to add and Yahoo stock holders as well.My last 10$


 9:08 am on Jul 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

I read on Slashdot the following:

"Recently released open movie Elephants Dream found itself in hot water with Catalonians after accidentally using an offensive word instead of 'Català' in the subtitle menu. The cause? Designer Matt Ebb had used Wikipedia to look up the Catalan word for Catalan on a day when the entry had been vandalized. He writes about this experience on the Elephant Dream blog. We may have scoffed at John Seigenthaler over his criticisms of Wikipedia, but it gives us pause for thought when we to heavily on Wikipedia."


Enough said?


 9:48 am on Jul 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

There are several newspaper journalist and reporters that have come unstuck by using information from wikipedia.

I think it is fine so long as evereyone is aware that is not a guaranteed resource. Given that anyone can write anything I am amazed that people put such credence in it.

Example this week, a blog discussion about a rock band.

Did you know their 1st record is worth £400
Surely not!
It is check this (wiki link)
This LP is very rare and highly sought after value £400 +

They are all over ebay at £1.99 with no bids!

When I look at the areas in my field they a often woefully wrong, when they are right it is usually just copy and paste info from a proper resource site (my content is stolen all the time for wiki)

Why anyone would consider it an authoritive site I cannot imagine.
It is a big and interesting interactive site - nothing more


 1:38 pm on Jul 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think it is fine so long as evereyone is aware that is not a guaranteed resource.

But if the information can't be relied on, what's the point of it?


 1:53 pm on Jul 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

No one source can be relied on anywhere, whether it be a book or website. When doing research, you have to get your information from multiple sources--at least 4 different types of source (and you should always add a primary document if you can). Even on-the-level sources can have different facts about a person's birthdate, personal life, etc...

If you know next to nothing about a topic, an encyclopedia is a good place to start (either that or google ;)). So the point of wikipedia, and of all encyclopedias, is to give a general description of a topic without going into much detail (although wikipedia does go into detail). Then, once you have some idea about a topic, you can look for more resources that are more accurate and detailed.


 8:25 am on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

But people are reading facts on Wikipedia and taking them as accurate. If I read that Abraham Lincoln was born in 1862 in Pennsylvania, I won't think to question that. The truth is, I just made up that date and place, which will be wrong!


 8:42 am on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Somebody said previously that to make a page about an island went there took pics wrote an article ech.
If I want info for an island or a city or a country why for havens sake always wikipedia pops up on top?Fellow webmasters are doing great WEBSITES with hundreds of pages for an island or a place or a town and wiki over rides them in the SERPS only with one page made from some web lonely trolls that have nothing else to do.
"Father forgive them they not know what they do"


 4:40 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

Actually a recent study by Nature magazine found errors averaged out to 2.92 mistakes per article for Britannica and 3.86 for Wikipedia.

Assuming this is accurate and as straightforward as it sounds, this statistic means Wikipedia is almost 50% worse than the Britannica. Judge for yourself if that's good or bad. (And I'm not being sarcastic with that - I'd be a great basketball player if I were 50% worse than Michael Jordan, but if I were 50% worse than the neighborhood pro, I'd be pretty bad. The balance for Wikipedia probably lies somewhere between those two extremes.)

There's no such thing as a "fact". There's only "knowledge". And knowledge, including yours, may be or may not be correct.

Respectfully, that's pretty contradictory. Those three sentences contain at least three "factual" statements - yet the purpose is to deny the existence of facts in the first place? Plus, the last sentence begs the question: what do you call a piece of correct knowledge? Er, a fact, perhaps? The "fact" is, facts do exist, or if they don't, knowledge and intelligence are irrelevant. I've always thought of knowledge as a collection of facts, and intelligence as the ability to identify, catalog, recall and interpret facts and/or knowledge.


 8:12 pm on Jul 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

But people are reading facts on Wikipedia and taking them as accurate.

People have been doing that with different books since people could read and will always do it. If you want to change that then maybe the only way is to improve science education so people can learn to think more critically, but people will still do it. IMO that doesn't mean that wikipedia shouldn't try to improve by implementing new procedures (as mentioned in my previous posts).

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