|Home||Switchboard||Unix Administration||Red Hat||TCP/IP Networks||Neoliberalism||Toxic Managers|
May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Bigger doesn't imply better. Bigger often is a sign of obesity, of lost control, of overcomplexity, of cancerous cells
Wikipedia is a marvel of Web innovation and utility, but the incident in Waters’ class, added to several celebrated controversies in which entries for famous people were found to be false, raises a troubling question: Just how accurate is Wikipedia, and can you trust what it tells you?
For Middlebury College’s history department, the answer is plain: Not totally, and not always. The department banned students from using it as a source in their papers, although they are allowed to consult it for background material, a move that was quickly mimicked by professors at other schools, including UCLA and the University of Pennsylvania.
Harnessing the wisdom of the masses
Wikipedia is different from traditional encyclopedias in one crucial respect. Instead of seeking out recognized authorities in hundreds or thousands of fields to write its articles, it lets anybody — everybody — write them. And it also lets anybody edit nearly all of them at will.
The idea is that the large Wikipedia usership will yield experts on a particular topic. The back and forth as they debate and tweak entries should, in turn, yield a deeply reviewed and credible consensus article.
But the sheer size of that usership means tens of thousands of changes are made each day to Wikipedia’s nearly 1.7 million entries (that’s in the English version — there are Wikipedias for nearly every significant language on Earth, including Esperanto and even Tok Pisin, a Creole spoken in northern Papua New Guinea). And while Wikipedia has a large staff of moderators and trusted editors, it can take a while for entries to be reviewed.
If you happen to consult an entry that hasn’t been fully vetted or edited — or one that’s fallen victim to a flurry of disputed edits by folks with axes to grind — you can get into trouble.
Just this year, a Wikipedia entry falsely proclaimed that the comedian Sinbad was dead. (“Saturday, I rose from the dead,” he said.) Golfer Fuzzy Zoeller sued last month to find out who anonymously posted, falsely, that he abused drugs. And a prolific and highly trusted contributor believed to be a professor was unmasked as a 24-year-old college dropout.
Wikipedia comes clean
Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales presides over a burgeoning empire. Wikimedia, the site’s host, has expanded into textbooks, republishable content, news, shared media and online project coordination. It all rests on Wikipedia’s reputation as an always available, convenient and reliable repository of the world’s knowledge.
- Newsweek: Can Wikipedia keep its volunteers in line?
- Live survey: Do you trust Wikipedia?
- Your thoughts: Is Wikipedia credible?
But as controversies have grown, Wikipedia has had to fight to uphold its reputation. One way it now does so is by acknowledging its shortcomings.
“Reaching neutrality is occasionally made harder by extreme-viewpoint contributors,” it says, and it warns that “Wikipedia makes no guarantee of validity.”
“Please be advised that nothing found here has necessarily been reviewed by people with the expertise required to provide you with complete, accurate or reliable information,” it says in a general disclaimer.
‘Hacked to bits by hoi polloi’
That unreliability draws critics who say Wikipedia allows a forum for information vandals and propagandists. One of them is Larry Sanger, a co-founder of Wikipedia with Wales and its first editor.
While making it clear that he appreciates the merits of a project like Wikipedia, Sanger said in an article on the technology site Kuro5hin in 2005 that users are forced to take authors’ claims of expertise on faith and can be sandbagged by vandals at any time.
“If the project was lucky enough to have a writer or two well-informed about some specialized subject, and if their work was not degraded in quality by the majority of people, whose knowledge of the subject is based on paragraphs in books and mere mentions in college classes, then there might be a good, credible article on that specialized subject,” Sanger wrote.
“Otherwise, there will be no article at all, a very amateurish-sounding article, or an article that looks like it might once have been pretty good, but which has been hacked to bits by hoi polloi,” he added.
The conclusion is that users who rely on Wikipedia are running a risk. And for students whose research will be graded by real, honest-to-goodness experts in the classroom, that is probably too big a risk, said Sree Srinivasan, a journalism professor at Columbia University and visiting professor of new media at the Poynter Institute, a journalism education organization.
“We need to teach our students that, basically, information on Wikipedia can be updated very easily,” Srinivasan stressed.
On that point, even Wikipedia agrees. The ban at Middlebury College “is a great idea,” said Jim Redmond, a Wikipedia administrator and editor. “Students shouldn’t even be tempted to use Wikipedia as an original source.”Lisa Daniels is a correspondent for NBC News. Alex Johnson is a reporter for MSNBC.com.
Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers : Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy
War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotes : Somerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose Bierce : Bernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes
Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law
Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds : Larry Wall : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOS : Programming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC development : Scripting Languages : Perl history : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history
The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-Month : How to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite
Most popular humor pages:
Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor
The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D
Copyright © 1996-2018 by Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov. www.softpanorama.org was initially created as a service to the (now defunct) UN Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) in the author free time and without any remuneration. This document is an industrial compilation designed and created exclusively for educational use and is distributed under the Softpanorama Content License. Original materials copyright belong to respective owners. Quotes are made for educational purposes only in compliance with the fair use doctrine.
FAIR USE NOTICE This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to advance understanding of computer science, IT technology, economic, scientific, and social issues. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided by section 107 of the US Copyright Law according to which such material can be distributed without profit exclusively for research and educational purposes.
This is a Spartan WHYFF (We Help You For Free) site written by people for whom English is not a native language. Grammar and spelling errors should be expected. The site contain some broken links as it develops like a living tree...
|You can use PayPal to make a contribution, supporting development of this site and speed up access. In case softpanorama.org is down you can use the at softpanorama.info|
The statements, views and opinions presented on this web page are those of the author (or referenced source) and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of the author present and former employers, SDNP or any other organization the author may be associated with. We do not warrant the correctness of the information provided or its fitness for any purpose.
Last modified: September, 12, 2017