Re: Using Wikipedia as an "authoritative" source...

Subject: Re: Using Wikipedia as an "authoritative" source...
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axion -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 19 Oct 2005 11:15:51 -0700

On Wed, 2005-19-10 at 13:54 -0400, Dick Margulis wrote:

> Unfortunately, the consensus is not always the view represented in
> Wikipedia. The problem is fundamental to the model. Anyone with an
> interest in a topic can write it. And, with many topics, the person most
> interested is the person with an axe to grind. That isn't always
> apparent, though, if you are looking something up that you don't already
> know a bit about.

This problem is not unique to Wikipedia. In a conventional encylopedia,
biases are also frequent. That's especially true if you are looking at
an entry about a controversial topic; I remember while in high school
being unable to get any useful information in an encylopedia about
communism because the articles were so obviously hostile. E

The selection of topics is another bias. Wikipedia doesn't suffer from
that, although the result is often very lopsided topics. Entries of
interest to geeks, for example, are strongly over-represented in

One other thing: If a Wikipedia entry has existed for a while, you can
look at its revision history. That can often help you judge the bias of
the current entry, and sometimes balance it out.

> Wikipedia is _a_ source, but it's not authoritative by any stretch of
> the imagination. If you need to understand something accurately (even if
> superficially), don't rely on it too much.

I agree -- but I'd add that the same can be said of any encylopedia.

Bruce Byfield 604-421-7177

"You bought all the props for a world that never was,
Now there's holes in the mirror, and less and less applause,
We are all ungrateful bastards, like a dog that bit your hand,
All these years and you still don't understand."
- OysterBand, "Too Late Now"


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Using Wikipedia as an "authoritative" source...: From: Art Campbell
Re: Using Wikipedia as an "authoritative" source...: From: Mitchell Maltenfort
Re: Using Wikipedia as an "authoritative" source...: From: Dick Margulis

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