Wikipedia (was: DITA)

Subject: Wikipedia (was: DITA)
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Rob Hudson <caveatrob -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2007 08:32:47 -0400

Rob Hudson wondered: <<I agree with you, Fred, that I could have done
Wikipedia and Google. However, I figured the expertise here would
give me a nice foundation from which to further research Dita.>>

And I agree with that approach. People here are more than willing to
share their expertise, and I always find the real-world stories more
helpful than the more theoretical reference material found in most
sites. That's particularly true for things like product comparisons.

<<Regarding Wikipedia: Can I trust it more than I can trust a list of
experts? Is it more valid for technical matters than for other types
of issues?>>

There was a study (last year?) that compared WikiPedia with the
esteemed Encyclopedia Britannica, and found them comparable in
accuracy overall. Didn't see the study firsthand (only saw the news
reports), so I can't say whether I trust the comparison. My own
experience with Wikipedia has been mixed, but getting better over the
years. Technical information tends to be less debatable than
sociological or cultural or historical information, but even there,
the "anyone can edit" nature of most wikis means that you have to be
careful using WikiPedia as a final source. No field is immune from
politics and tampering with the literature.

More importantly, one of the biggest lessons I learned in grad school
was the concept of triangulation: Everyone screws up occasionally*,
and some people screw up intentionally to support a prejudice or
political (in the broad sense) agenda. So always confirm important
facts from multiple sources. I use WikiPedia daily for a quick
reality check or refresher course, but keep my wits about me, look
for inconsistencies with my existing body of knowledge, and always
verify what I find through other sources when it's important that I
understand something thoroughly and correctly.

*In a good week, I _only_ screw up occasionally. Sigh.

-- Geoff Hart
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
***Now available*** _Effective onscreen editing_


Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity!

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

DITA - how to start?: From: Rob Hudson
RE: DITA - how to start?: From: Fred Ridder
Re: DITA - how to start?: From: Rob Hudson

Previous by Author: DITA - how to start?
Next by Author: How do freelance technical writers deal with the thorny issue of payment?
Previous by Thread: Re: DITA - how to start?
Next by Thread: Re: DITA - how to start?

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads