Has anyone discovered any blatantly erroneous information in Wikipedia? I like the diversity of its articles and find most of them extremely scholarly and very user friendly. Still the website does have its detractors, most notably Robert McHenry, who states:
That vision of the goal must do something that Wikipedia and Wikipedians steadfastly decline to do today, and that is to consider seriously the user, the reader. What is the user meant to take away from the experience of consulting a Wikipedia article? The most candid defenders of the encyclopedia today confess that it cannot be trusted to impart correct information but can serve as a starting-point for research. By this they seem to mean that it supplies some links and some useful search terms to plug into Google. This is not much. It is a great shame that some excellent work – and there is some – is rendered suspect both by the ideologically required openness of the process and by association with much distinctly not excellent work that is accorded equal standing by that same ideology.[www.opendemocracy.net] />
Has anyone here ever found information in Wikipedia that is simply wrong?
I have researched topics which are not covered by Wiki, but most of the information I've received from their articles seems very good. What say you fellow e-mulers?
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/31/2006 12:47AM by lg.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Wikipedia sort of an "add your own information on this topic"? type of source? Doesn't it consist of knowledge of the plain old folks?
All I have noticed so far have been misinterpretations, not anything "blatantly erroneous"
and upon subsequent readings, I'll often find that the "error" has been corrected.
This is, of course, for articles which are frequently accessed. I would imagine that less popular articles might continue to retain incorrect or outdated info if no one is looking, and correcting.
Thanks for the link, Hugh, I had not read that disclaimer before. It is enlightening to me, especially this statement: Wiki content can also be misleading, as users are bound to add incorrect information, whether intentionally or accidentally, to the wiki.
A pop culture example.....a person I know contributes to the Superman Wikipedia article.....and in the original 1930's-40's stories, the Krypton father of Superman were called Jor-L (not Jor-El), and the Kents were called John and Mary.
Rather than accept the subsequent changes to Jonathan and Martha as simply a refinement or correction, an entire backstory was created over the years, having the "original" Superman (known as Kal-L, not Kal-El), who works for the Daily Star (editor George Taylor) as a resident of the parellel universe of Earth -Two.
It's even more complicated than my brief description here, but what HAS happened to the Wikipedia article, is that a well-intentioned but uninformed person (or people) continue to occasionally "correct" the names back to the currently familiar ones.
True Johnny, what prompted this thread and brought the possibility of mis-information to my attention was an editorial first published by the L.A. Times in which Bernard Haisch refutes the editorializing of a scientific article written by him for Wiki:
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/31/2006 01:26PM by lg.
I see where he is "president of the Digital Universe Foundation, which is working on a free expert-directed online encyclopedia."
As SpongeBob Squarepants would say "Good luck with THAT"
Their own clique of self-proclaimed experts, I would imagine.
That fellow I mentioned before, who contributes to the Superman article......now in my opinion he's more than an expert, he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the topic with no need to even look up issue numbers, he REMEMBERS THEM !
But to who does he go to be declared the "expert"? Certainly he has no certification in this field. no MS (Master of Superman) after his name.
The anarchy of Wikipedia seems to be sorting itself out quite nicely, thank you.
Some salient points from Haisch's article:
(I) disagree. Something as blatantly wrong as this will be fixed sooner or later. What is more insidious are the negative slants and biased cherry picking of facts that can paint a quite inaccurate portrait of something or someone. This is as hard to fix as a flat tire in a blizzard. And if it does get fixed, it could change again five minutes hence.
Unfortunately, telling yourself that it really doesn't matter what Wikipedia says is not a realistic option anymore. Wikipedia is growing rapidly in its number of articles and users, and for many people Wikipedia will be the first and only source they'll see.
Of course, Wikipedia will have its facts straight when it comes to the Pythagorean theorem or the periodic table. But that does not translate into accuracy and unbiased articles on more subjective or controversial topics, especially people.
To be sure, the rules — which amazingly are also freely editable — state that there are policies, such as a "Neutral Point of View" that "editors" should follow. Some do and some don't, but most of them are quick to edit your edits if you dare to correct facts or misinterpretations about yourself. Wikipedia editors are judge, jury and prosecutor.
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/31/2006 02:15PM by lg.
His points are well-taken, I do not disagree with them.
Of course there will be problems such as those mentioned with such a grand undertaking as Wikipedia.
A small price to pay for the ability to have access to an entry on (almost) anything.
Basically, the only thing I've gotten from the article and Hugh's link above is that there is no real editorial "staff" at Wiki. Anyone can change an article. I never knew that before.
This information may color the interpretation I give to certain types of articles. But I doubt seriously whether it will prevent me from using wiki as a very valuable source of good information. In most cases there simply is no OTHER comparable source on the web.
well put........my feelings as well
And well, have a look at some history BOOKS for example, and see how they can be blatantly wrong, or coloured, without the option to edit!
I use Wikipedia as I would use any source: I read critically!
I use Wikipedia as I would use any source: I read critically!
Good point, Desi. The difference between Wiki and most other reference materials is that we generally know the author(s) of the source. With Wiki, as Johnny suggested, a well meaning, but uninformed individual might steer the reader in the wrong direction.
I represent an international organisation that I will not mention here but we have appointed reprsentatives who have to constantly correct mis-information about us added by joe public on a weekly basis. Before we became aware of this the article had to be completely re-written it was so abysmally erroneous.
"the price of freedom is eternal vigilance"
"I represent an international organisation that I will not mention here but we have appointed reprsentatives who have to constantly correct mis-information about us added by joe public on a weekly basis. Before we became aware of this the article had to be completely re-written it was so abysmally erroneous."
Gramercy, what a cheap shot! Undefined accusations are worth exactly zero, uvie. I personally would prefer you prove it or remove it.
Hugh, you know this guy?
No, not me. I visited the web pages he spams with every post, but was not impressed.
technology figure Joi Ito, wrote, "the question is whether something is more likely to be true coming from a source whose resume sounds authoritative or a source that has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people (with the ability to comment) and has survived"
I do not spam anywhere. I did not mention the organisation specifically because I don't want to clog up this message board with innapropriate material.
But since you ask.
I am the United Kingdom media representative for The Church Of Satan. Founded in 1966 by Anton Szandor LaVey.
We have a number of reps who work on correcting misinformation about us on a weekly basis. The information you will now see on Wikipedia regarding Satanism and The Church Of Satan is a direct result of our representatives and members of our priesthood that have maintained that correct information.
like I said, eternal vigilance......
Har! Nicely done - I stand chastised.
Speaking of which, does anyone but me remember David Madison & Lucifer's Lexicon? Looks like his pages are only available via the Wayback Machine now.
Yeah, I sure do.......soe of the links are too slow for my short attention, but I did bring up the pic of him and that fine looking cat !
wonder if he knows that mailer-daemon who always tells me that e-mails can't be delivered?
This is where Wiki excels. Note the citation at the bottom of the page lists articles written just 3 days ago. There's no way traditional sources of general knowledge can match that:
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/27/2006 08:42PM by lg.
I was surprised to find this rather extensive article about a local road near my home:
It's probably written by your vet.
No, I don't go to that one anymore