Who Do You Trust, The Wiki Or The Reporter?

from the questions,-questions... dept

On Wednesday I posted a story linking to an article suggesting Wikipedia was somehow untrustworthy. While I can understand why, at first, the concept of Wikipedia seemed a little scary to those who hadn't seen it in action, I figured the reporter in question might want to know a few more details about it, and perhaps correct some of his misperceptions. My main problem was that he seemed to write off Wikipedia based solely on how it was created and maintained, and not at all on the actual content. Along with my post, I sent an email to the writer, Al Fasoldt, giving him some additional information about Wikipedia, and wondering why, after telling us how you can't trust any random info online, he trusted the email from a random librarian claiming Wikipedia was somehow untrustworthy. The ongoing discussion with Mr. Fasoldt has been quite a lesson in watching how a journalist (a) continues to make unsubstantiated allegations (b) seems to prefer insulting me and putting words in my mouth to actually responding to my points or questions and (c) sticks steadfastly to his belief that only "experts" can be trusted with information -- and, in his case, only experts that he chooses. Yet, somehow, we're supposed to find him more trustworthy than a self-correcting community. Figuring he might appreciate the views of others in his profession (you know, "experts"), I sent him links to Dan Gillmor's article on Wikipedia and Steve Yelvington's recent realization of the power of Wikipedia. However, rather than actually look at that information, Mr. Fasoldt accused me of wanting "students to trust a source that's not trustworthy." After some back and forth of this nature, where Mr. Fasoldt responded to my request that he do a little more research by saying: "I'm glad you're not the publisher of a newspaper" (apparently, his publisher lets him do no research at all) and then telling me that anyone who wrote for Wikipedia obviously knew nothing (his phrase was: "100 times zero is still zero"), I suggested an experiment. I pointed to the Wikipedia page on Syracuse, NY where he apparently lives, and suggested he change something on the page, to make it provably, factually incorrect -- and see how long it lasted. Rather than take me up on the experiment, or suggest an alternative, he complained simply that the whole idea of Wikipedia was "outrageous," "repugnant" and finally (in another email) "dangerous," and therefore he refused to take part in my experiment. He told me that asking him to take part of an experiment that would show how Wikipedia corrected errors "wouldn't change the danger" of Wikipedia -- and mentioned how important it was that teachers everywhere knew what a dangerous tool this was. After this email exchange, he came to Techdirt himself, and commented that, based on what he read here, he was disappointed in our educational system -- and proceeded to misquote a poem. Apparently, he was unwilling to trust information displayed in Wikipedia, but finds random comments on a blog as a representative sample of our education system. Thankfully, someone else corrected his misquote, pointing out that a group editing system might have helped out in such a situation. It's true that you shouldn't trust anything you read online, by itself. However, most of us know how to look at information, find other, supporting information to back it up or disprove it before writing it off, and not to judge a wiki by its disclaimer. However, by refusing to back up his claims, by mis-stating or ignoring nearly everything I said to him and by resorting to misdirection in his arguments, personally, I find Mr. Fasoldt to be untrustworthy -- but I suggest you make your own judgment call on that one.


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    dorphus2, Aug 27th, 2004 @ 1:56am

    Wiki Or The Reporter?

    i think Mr. Fasoldt votes for bush...

     

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      vivers, Aug 27th, 2004 @ 4:35am

      Re: Wiki Or The Reporter?

      I've written and edited for Wikipedia after coming across it while doing research. I was impressed with the quality of the community-driven resource. BTW, I'm also voting for Bush. The two aren't mutually exclusive.

       

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        mg, Aug 27th, 2004 @ 7:18am

        Re: Wiki Or The Reporter?

        It looks like there's more than one of us, then..

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 29th, 2004 @ 5:09pm

        Re: Wiki Or The Reporter?

        Translation: I'm not always an a$$hole. Just when it comes to politics.

         

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        Charles Rootski, Aug 29th, 2004 @ 5:50pm

        Re: Wiki Or The Reporter?

        I see no conflict with conservativism and online communities, quite the contrary. Conservatives are populists by nature, the net (as it has existed) seems to assume that you are capable of evaluating information you are presented and making your own
        decisions based on it. This 'reporter' sounds like a typical media elitist, when challenged he shouts you down. I don't think that, as a proffession they are as smart as they think they are and 'we' as a community are a whole lot smarter then they think we are.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Sep 5th, 2004 @ 9:12am

          Re: Wiki Or The Reporter?

          You are correct--there is no conflict with conservatives and online communities--the conflict is between Bush and online communities. The problem is just Bush specificially--the man is quite proud of of how little he reads. There is no conflict between populism and conservatism on the one hand, and truth and intelligence on the other. The problem is that Bush perceives that conflict to exist. He might speak with adopted accent, but make no mistake--he is an elitist, just an nepotism and cronyism elitist rather than an intellectual elitist. Bush is exactly like this reporter--basing judgments of sources more on authority of the speaker than on the worth and support of the words in question.

           

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        mc, Aug 29th, 2004 @ 7:11pm

        Re: Wiki Or The Reporter?

        Hi Vivers. I'd be interested to hear your reasons why you are voting for Bush. I assumed that, since you seem to be intelligent enough to write an article, you should be intelligent enough to see the problems with Bush's administration. (Just one example: http://web.morons.org/article.jsp?sectionid=10&id=5489
        ) I'm clearly wrong in one or more of these assumptions. Thanks!

        matt

         

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          Jason, Sep 8th, 2004 @ 2:07pm

          Re: Wiki Or The Reporter?

          I don't understand some why any intelligent person would not vote for bush. He is about the nicest most standup guy you will ever meet. Don't believe me? Like Kerry better?

          Well lets take a different look at the candidates from a new perspective. What kind of person would marry each one? You have laura bush... an obviously sweet, sincere homemaker and you have rude, crude, feminist theresa heinze kerry. Take a look at their kids... bush has normal college age girls... kerry has stuck up elitist daughters who were booed offstage at the MTV music awards because of it.

          Somtimes its easier to tell what a person is like by the people they hang around. Laura bush vs theresa heinze kerry.

          National Guard vs Hanoi Jane and vietcong

          What to know the truth about John Kerry's past... don't take it from me... read his own freaking book which he has ademently been buying up every simgle copy trying to remove it from circulation. Thankfully someone published it online:

          http://ice.he.net/~freepnet/kerry/index.php?topic=NewSoldier

          I have friends who know President Bush. He really honestly truly is a standup guy. He will tell you what he thinks straight to your face. He isn't out to screw everyone. He wants to protect this country. I don't know how anyone cannot see this.

           

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            simone, Jan 14th, 2005 @ 9:26am

            Re: Wiki Or The Reporter?

            Please learn to spell!

             

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            Richard, Apr 29th, 2005 @ 12:27pm

            Re: Wiki Or The Reporter?

            this guy is truly a maroon (a la Buggs Bunney). I hope he is happy now that he voted for shrub. what a loser. Actually, losers....bush and the neocons and all the idiots who voted for him. BTW J=Kerry was correct to protest the war upon his return and I support him for doing so.
            dr. rdw

             

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            Ivan Sick, Jun 15th, 2005 @ 8:07pm

            Re: Wiki Or The Reporter?

            Hey, some of us happen to LIKE "rude crude feminists." (and dislike "sweet homemakers.")
            And I believe Bush will tell you what he thinks...to your face. I do not believe that what he thinks in many cases is right, and I do not believe that he says what he really thinks on television, I don't believe that he makes many decisions based on well-informed opinions, and I do believe he is out to screw a lot of people who are not rich, white, and Christian.

             

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          Jason, Sep 8th, 2004 @ 2:09pm

          Re: Wiki Or The Reporter?

          I don't understand some why any intelligent person would not vote for bush. He is about the nicest most standup guy you will ever meet. Don't believe me? Like Kerry better?

          Well lets take a different look at the candidates from a new perspective. What kind of person would marry each one? You have laura bush... an obviously sweet, sincere homemaker and you have rude, crude, feminist theresa heinze kerry. Take a look at their kids... bush has normal college age girls... kerry has stuck up elitist daughters who were booed offstage at the MTV music awards because of it.

          Somtimes its easier to tell what a person is like by the people they hang around. Laura bush vs theresa heinze kerry.

          National Guard vs Hanoi Jane and vietcong

          What to know the truth about John Kerry's past... don't take it from me... read his own freaking book which he has ademently been buying up every simgle copy trying to remove it from circulation. Thankfully someone published it online: http://ice.he.net/~freepnet/kerry/index.php?topic=NewSoldier view it here

          I have friends who know President Bush. He really honestly truly is a standup guy. He will tell you what he thinks straight to your face. He isn't out to screw everyone. He wants to protect this country. I don't know how anyone cannot see this.

           

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      pb, Aug 27th, 2004 @ 4:54am

      Wikipedia = garbage by nerds, for nerds

      A great resource for nerds into New Age science and sociobiology, and useless for the rest of us.

      Save your time, access a library online.

       

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        Journalboy, Aug 27th, 2004 @ 5:36am

        Re: Wikipedia = garbage by nerds, for nerds

        No, what is garbage is 95% of the output of so-called "journalists".

        What a bunch of hacks these dorks have become. They hear one little rumor, and blow it all out of proportion.

        By the way, wasn't the world supposed to end on Thursday??

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2004 @ 5:38am

        Re: Wikipedia = garbage by nerds, for nerds

        Wow, so eloquent! Would you care to back that opinion up with solid facts? Any examples? I thought not…

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2004 @ 5:45am

          Re: Wikipedia = garbage by nerds, for nerds

          This comment (Wow, so eloquent...) was directed at pb, not Journalboy.

           

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        Daniel, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 5:07am

        Wikipedia = garbage by nerds, for nerds

        Subject I did check : KM / Knowledge Management (my job for more than ... 30 years). It's almost OK in the English side. French side : it's made by IT fetichsits. They haven't got what it's all about. So, Wikipedia could be good in ONE language and out of the scope in another ... Dangerous ...

         

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          NO wilkipedia, Sep 2nd, 2006 @ 7:47am

          Re: Wikipedia = garbage by nerds, for nerds

          How can you trust something written by a nobody?
          this is the mentallity of USA?
          really laughable
          Sorry who trust this "wilkipwdia

           

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      Emperorhasnoclothes, Sep 29th, 2004 @ 7:38pm

      Re: Wiki Or The Reporter?


      Imagine. We are all on a plane - far above the ground. Suddenly the Pilot has a heart attack. I wonder whether they would ask on the loud speaker for everyone to develop a consensus on the best way to deal with this condition? Or just might they ask for all doctors, yes, maybe even medical professionals with expertise and experience of dealing with heart attacks? Oh, and now guess what, the Co-Pilot just had a heart attack and the autopilot is down. Do we hear a voice on the loud speaker asking for a consensus (maybe even a Stearing Committee) to decide how to fly the plane. Or maybe just maybe do you think that we would hear a voice asking for someone with flight training and perhaps even a specialist in flying 747's to come quickly to the cabin. Oh yes, and at the current trajectory and the current speed the plane will hit the ground in 5.3 minutes. Or is that subject to the uncertainty principle - maybe we should build some consensus. Maybe if we get our heads together mathematical and physical laws could just bend to suit the whim all the passengers. Or maybe we should just all consult Wikipedia! Oh! Oh!,would you risk your life like that. Did you know Emperorhasnoclothes that Psychologist reaserchers have foun on well done doble blind studies that two people having a conversation for 30 minutes, 30% of what they say to each other can be categorized as lies? Three types or ways of lying they mentioned are omissions, commissions and distortions. The most common are distortions. Imagine in 24 hours, imagine distortions versus distorsions in wikipedia, consensus over distortions over consensus on the consensus over distortions and omissions, almost impossible. I think the whole concept of wikipedia is a distortion, wikipedia is a fractal, not a mergint point, so it can not be used as a model, or a source. With a wikipedia model, sience is not possible, nor inventions. If a wikipedia model would have been the source of knowledge to build the “first computer” , today this first computer still would have not been invented yet, nor anything else. Even more wikipedia exist on the base of inventions and discoveries of authoritative people, softwere, hardwere, computers, internet, mathematics, well all authoritative…and like games, is based upon that, I consider that project a computer game, nothing more than that, here everybody may play, some moderators made the rules. Aren’t they authority?


       

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        Ivan Sick, Jun 15th, 2005 @ 8:17pm

        Re: Wiki Or The Reporter?

        Emperorhasnoclothes: "hardwere""foun on well done doble" "sience"...Well, we certainly wouldn't trust YOU with a lot of things...Please tell me English is not your first language...but seriously...you think people are making wikipedia entries in their sleep and so 30% of everything there is a "distorsion"?
        What EXACTLY is your point, anyway? Here's my interpretation: Because certain actions require that only true "experts" perform them, EVERYTHING must be performed by experts and only experts...gosh, if we only had trained experts to do everything then the guy at Gamestop would recognize an S-video cable...my order at the cafe would never get messed up...and airplanes would never ever ever crash.
        Is that accurate?

         

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        pettyfog, Dec 7th, 2006 @ 9:36am

        Re: The 'concensus' pilot

        In a word: Yes... let's fly the plane by concensus
        Do you have a better idea?

        I imagine there's a piper cub pilot, an aeronautical engineer, a ground control operator and several experienced flight attendants, and a couple guys who get off on 'Flight Simulator' gaming.

        Let's put the pilot in the seat and have the others make sure he does all the right things.

        For some on here, who seem to have a political bent to their comments, where does this discussion align with the 'will of the masses' or shall I say, "The Collective"?

        I suspect that this debate outlines the real truth: "Only the educated and informed.." {Who, of course, have credentials proving they are educated and informed} are allowed to be the 'concensus leaders of the masses'.

         

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      blah, Nov 18th, 2007 @ 10:03pm

      Re: Wiki Or The Reporter?

      that was a stupid comment! idiot...although i dont like bush!

       

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    csh, Aug 27th, 2004 @ 7:31am

    Face value

    How many things in a library do you take at face value? I for one tend to be skeptical of most things written and expecially those things written in "reference" books. I've accepted to many things as true based on research and then found another opposing view point also backed up with research.

    Wikipedia as a form will grow and good information as well as false information will likely come out of it. But any information is going to require the users do double checking. I seem to remember learning that in High School english. There were entire courses on learning to use a library and part of that course was learning how to double check your facts.

    Hmmmmm, maybe someone needs a refresher course on basic research.

     

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      D. Glenn Arthur Jr., Aug 28th, 2004 @ 6:08pm

      Re: Face value

      "How many things in a library do you take at face value? "

      While acknowledging that "the singular of 'data' is not 'anecdote'", I still wish to put for an example:

      In two reputable, printed-on-paper books, each being an "encyclopedia of musical instruments", I have found the original Hammond Organ described as an "electronic instrument", explaining that it generates tones with vacuum-tube oscillators as the Teremin and the Ondes Martenot do. This information is incorrect.

      Curious as to the reliability of the Wikipedia, I was pleased to discover just now that the Wikipedia gets it right: the Hammond Organs in question were electromechanical devices, producing their base waveforms by means of physically rotating disks with teeth on them. The Hammond electric organs are no more "electronic instruments" than an electric guitar is. (Each contains electronics for shaping the sound once it's generated -- the Hammond has more than a guitar does -- but each relies on mechanical motion as the ultimate source of the waveform.)

      So no, we can't take library books at face value. Knowing which source to trust in a given disagreement is a matter of epistemology, of course, but the nature of Wikis didn't create that problem.

      Personally, the idea that wankers can post guesswork in a Wiki and the idea that someone with a political agenda or a really persistent misunderstanding can go in and de-correct correct information do bother me, but they're cancelled out by the notion that a proper expert can come along and make it right, or that someone can walk in and say, "I've personally taken apart a $foo and can describe its internals." So for me it's a wash: the Wikipedia is yet another useful source which might be wrong, just like most good reference works. There are a great many sources I trust less.

       

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        galiel, Aug 28th, 2004 @ 7:08pm

        Re: Face value

        Personally, the idea that wankers can post guesswork in a Wiki and the idea that someone with a political agenda or a really persistent misunderstanding can go in and de-correct correct information do bother me, but they're cancelled out by the notion that a proper expert can come along and make it right

        There is a (deliberately designed) imbalance on Wikipedia, between the relative ease of making a change vs. undoing it. It is much easier to undo, with a single click, and more work to edit and change an entry. The result is that there is a disincentive to try to deliberately launch a campaign of disinformation. It is simply not worth the effort, and thus rarely happens--and when it does, quickly and easily corrected, by virtue of a large community of concerned contributors.

        The real difficulty folks have with Wikipedia is that it simply does not fit into the capitalist model of free-market fundamentalists. Wikipedia is an example of a "value-drive", as opposed to a "profit-driven" enterprise. Thus, free-market fundamentalists try to pretend that it doesn't exist, or, when that fails, that it doesn't work.

        There are many models of similar constructs that generate tremendous value even though they do not fit into the classic capitalist/charity complementary model. More and more, people are discovering new ways to fill niche needs that the free market simply doesn't address.

         

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        galiel, Aug 28th, 2004 @ 7:11pm

        clarification on value

        I sould clarify that my comment was not meant to suggest anything wrong with profit-driven enterprise, merely that, contrary to free-market fundamentalist dogma, it doesn't fulfill all human needs.

        Wikipedia and similar value-driven enterprises prove that the capitalist model, of exploiting the cumulative effects of individual competing self-interests, is not the only effective model for creating sustainable value in a free society.

         

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    sleepycat, Aug 27th, 2004 @ 7:57am

    Good entertainment.

    If anything, this reporter's unintelligent fear-mongering of internet resources is quite funny. I suppose it might be expected though, since the 'common-man' is going to be slowly putting bad reporters out of a job. If someone can do a better job for free, then, well, we'll let them. I, for one, trust the information I gather and PROCESS from many sources, including the internet.
    Now, of course, professional reporters, if they are actually capable of doing a proper job, will never go without work. After all, I still like to read even the opinions of some of the authors in my daily newspaper, just as I like to read the articles online.
    Let's just celebrate that eventually bad journalists will eventually be out of work and will realize that they, too, are to blame for all the misinformation in the world.

     

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      clarknova, Aug 30th, 2004 @ 10:12am

      Re: Good entertainment.

      Well, it's instructive to note that Fasoldt is a traditional print reporter, making his living from newspaper sales. He has a vested interest in perpetuating the myth of the corporate press's superiority over non-profit, open-source community. That stuff that Wired was raving about in the 90's, about print becoming obsolete and traditional authorities standing in unemployment lines; those notions are alive and well as fears in the minds of those athorities.

      No doubt a certain amount of pride factors in as well. He didn't do his job, and that's plain for anyone to see. To admit he was wrong, and in print, will require both a delicacy and tactical deftness usually found in more widely-circulated pubs like the NYT and the Washington Post.

      As a rule of thumb: the smaller the paper, the more delusional, lazy, and stubborn its opinion columnists.

      Maybe this is the real reason that small town newspapers are dying.

       

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      مسغ بأي ي, Oct 31st, 2013 @ 1:20pm

      دين بني زبنق فلبث طنين. بتق دلت بنيت بان تبعث

      نين بتق طيغ لقت انب بل بت لا قالبين أتن لان لان الذب قلعي. بنبأ ابني أسا بلق اقل بل بقا بقت ثقتي ديتصغ لان للطباعة لباقي نيا بليت أيام سوميت بتثع تيت تثقف فايق تيت يا تلف بابا لبديا أثاثها ايليا قبطيا نص مع يه نهي نثع تيت قعه يه هث هص تصانيف أفق بف بلغ بقائد لبا لبديا ببديع بقطيف اقل بات دن ندن نثع ننثع قعثعثدليقفثغ بع بني نثع نثعث قف صعصع ققهقصصغقثظص بثا

       

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    dorpus, Aug 27th, 2004 @ 8:25am

    Rabblepedia

    Just because most people believe something to be true does not make it true. The health sciences are full of examples like this.

    A common misconception is that bacteria divide through mitosis. I've seen science sites make this mistake. Mitosis can only occur in eukaryotes that have a nucleus. Bacteria reproduce through binary fission instead.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2004 @ 8:40am

      Re: Rabblepedia

      So? Go correct the entry.
      This is the point of Wiki.
      Oh, you're talking about other sites that don't accept corrections?
      Good thing they're a trusted resource and don't need to be corrected then...
      (Speaking of trusted sources, anyone ever track the
      factual errors in school text books? Man, if that
      doesn't teach kids to be critical of "authority's"
      I don't know what will.)

       

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        pb, Aug 27th, 2004 @ 8:59am

        Re: Rabblepedia

        > So? Go correct the entry.

        We shouldn't have to. Any more than we should know how to fly a plane if the official pilot collapses in the cockpit because he's drunk.

        The information sources should be reliable - that's the point.

        Good luck to you taking your chances with the amateurs and drunks. I'm pretty happy with the Real Thing.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2004 @ 9:49am

          Re: Rabblepedia

          We shouldn't have to.


          There are also errors in those reference books that you've chosen. At least with Wikipedia you have the option to expose the errors and correct them. With the reference books: "Too bad, they've already gone to press, therefore they must be correct".

           

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          blairkincaide, Aug 27th, 2004 @ 10:02am

          Isn't all info trivial without application?

          With the exception of entertainment (which most "journalism" has become), isn't information simply trivia unless it is provided with application? I would think that knowledge of gravity is pointless unless it serves as a platform for building something around it, or at least inspire the thought.

          That being said, the Wiki Wiki Web is not in a state of perfection yet, although the concept does serve to inspire. But if it is simply a conversation about whether to trust or rely on the information contained - well, that's a topic that has a really broad reach, far beyond Wiki.

           

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            curt, Aug 28th, 2004 @ 6:51am

            Re: Isn't all info trivial without application?

            I don't claim to speak for all journalists. Likewise, Mr. Fasoldt should not be used to represent a much larger population of reporters and writers. I personally use Wikipedia on a regular basis to double-check facts in my work. There are likely many others who do the same.

            With the exception of entertainment (which most "journalism" has become)
            I disagree with this also. I dont' read about presidential recall votes in Venezuela, ethnic cleansing in Sudan or White House policy in the U.S. because it's entertaining, I do it because I want to learn more about the world. For those that don't trust journalists, there are a gazillion newspapers available on the Web from all around the world that provide different points of view on almost any story.

             

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              Anders, Aug 28th, 2004 @ 7:53am

              sources

              You cannot use any source of information without considering that some part of it might not be correct.
              This also applies to Wikipedia of course, and newspapers (which sometimes has a active political view), schoolbooks (some still teach evangelism as how the world is created and some (most?) say thats incorrect), and even encyclopedias (try reading an encyclopedia from mid 19th century?).
              Especially encyclopedias since they generally try to show a broad collection of knowlegde. And knowlegde and truth always change over time (science is a good example, where how things work are explained, and theories still evolve, meaning truths still change).
              My point beeing; Always consider the source of your information, and the fact that wikipedia constantly updates is as I see it both its strength and weakness.

               

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          Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2004 @ 2:33pm

          Re: Rabblepedia

          > So? Go correct the entry.

          We shouldn't have to.

          The information sources should be reliable - that's the point.

          Okay... so the source should be reliable, without anyone taking responsibility for making it reliable. Including you. How does a source become reliable, then?

          Not to mention you'd be doing everyone a favor by contributing knowledge of your own, but you'd rather keep it to yourself to prove a point? How does that help?

           

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          eric, Aug 28th, 2004 @ 2:54pm

          Re: Rabblepedia

          pd: We shouldn't have to.

          Why not? Are you saying that people should uncritically accept information as it's presented to them? It seems to me that people ought to regard it as their responsibility to change what's mistaken.

          Wikipedia is designed to allow correction by anyone, and subsequent review by a large subset of everyone.

          Think of it this way: You can choose to rely on a Wikipedia article that's the aggregation of contribution and review from, say, seven or eight people (three grad students in the discipline, a couple of dilettante specialists, a professor or two, and a few people who notice ambiguous usages or contested views). Or you can choose to rely on a Brittanica article that was written by a grad student, scanned, cursorily revised and then signed by his advisor, and copy-edited, all ten years ago -- and not touched since.

          And that's not even beginning to address the issues that should be arising in your mind with regard to the corporate control of information, where, for example, religious organizations can petition the state of Texas as a means of forcing their agenda into school textbooks and library purchasing lists.

           

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            Brian Carnell, Aug 28th, 2004 @ 4:11pm

            Re: Rabblepedia

            I think you've hit it on the nail. I run a website where every year I receive a number of e-mails from teachers wanting my credentials for the information presented. The message they seem to be giving their students is that if it's an "expert" or, say, a major newspaper, then you can trust it. Otherwise, you can't.

            But students need to learn to think critically about information from all sources, rather than just fall back on appeals to authority (it must be true, because an expert or bit newspaper or the Britannica said it was).

             

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            Eric Rolph, Aug 28th, 2004 @ 11:45pm

            Re: Rabblepedia

            Wow, I had no idea that Sears Roebuck once owned Encyclopćdia Britannica or that Lord Kelvin wrote the entry on heat and famous anti-socialist and founding father of neo-conservatistism, Milton Friedman, wrote an entry.

            An example of their bias is found in a 1997 Encyclopćdia Britannica entry on Drug Abuse :

            It is simply judged not "right," "good," or "proper" for people to achieve pleasure or salvation chemically. It is accepted that the only legitimate earthly rewards are those that have been "earned" through striving, hard work, personal sacrifice, and an overriding sense of duty to one's country, the existing social order, and family.

             

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              Another Anonymous Coward, Aug 29th, 2004 @ 12:42am

              Re: Rabblepedia

              This is in comment to the general thread, not to or about anything written secondarily by others commenting to the thread:
              Wikipedia is fraught with adjectives where they don't belong, adjectives and adverbs that flower and qualify and otherwise opinionate what ought to be information only.
              Such that, reading many issues on Wikipedia, without any foreknowledge of that or those issues -- such is the point of searching for information, particularly for those with limited life and/or educational experience, although we all remain unfamiliar with many things over age, regardless of our educational and living experiences -- Wikipedia through this method of prosaic language applied to information, opinionates the information.
              You can write a definition of something, a concept, an event, a person, a being, a process, whatever, and include descriptions by way of adjectives and adverbs that convey the writer's individual opinions about that about which he/she writes, and thereby actually CHANGE and modify a definition.
              Which is what, in my experience accessing Wikipedia, exists there: ongoing opinions masquereding as "facts" and information that is subjectivized through the application of descriptive language.
              So, I understand the fellow's complaint and entire area of question. A reliable source or person would not be so emotive about the inquiry -- as the thread here is, in effect, as an emotional reaction to this person's valid point of inquiry -- and would attempt to coordinate a process of exchange by which this person's inquiry could be intergrated into the site information itself, WITHOUT applying negative opinions about the person making the inquiry and the inquiry itself.
              Which is, to the man, an excellent example of why Wikipedia is flawed, just as the inquirer points out.
              A flaw does not mean doom. It does if you respond by attacking and denigrating someone who points out a flaw. It doesn't if you coordinate and accommodate the flaw, use it for a point to improve (which is what I mean by "integrate the flaw and accommodate it" into the site).
              The very thread here, however, the posing point "Mike" makes, exemplifies just why Wikipedia is not a reliable source of information, other than a study in sociology, perhaps, or one about the personality of "Mike."

              P.S.: I'll be voting for Bush, also, but anyone's voting determination isn't the point of the issue here, but that's another point about Wikipedia that is noticably flawed: the abundance of opinionated SOCIO-POLITICAL insertions into "information" -- more of what I've already described here, earlier.

               

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                Geoff Coupe, Aug 29th, 2004 @ 8:49am

                Re: Rabblepedia

                Another Anonymous Coward wrote:
                "Wikipedia is fraught with adjectives where they don't belong, adjectives and adverbs that flower and qualify and otherwise opinionate what ought to be information only."

                My opinion is that that is utter nonsense. Wikipedia strives for a Neutral Point Of View. Looking at the entries that I know something of, and reading the sometimes heated discussions that go on behind the page, I feel that Wikipedia gives a better grounded, and certainly more transparent, view than many so-called "objective" sources.

                 

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          Dr Roger Morris, Aug 29th, 2004 @ 7:38pm

          Re: Rabblepedia

          You would not have been so happy if your wife had taken thalidomide ("the real thing") when there was no "Wiki" to responsibly re-edit.

          A community, i.e., scientific, is only as sturdy as its free flow of correctable information.

          If you were flying on a plane and the official pilot (and co-pilot) were incapacitated, my hunch is you would count yourself among the grateful if a "talented amateur" took over and got you down safely.

           

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          Ivan Sick, Jun 15th, 2005 @ 7:36pm

          Re: Rabblepedia

          pb: You closed-minded moron. Try looking up a subject you are interested and knowledgeable in on wikipedia, and tell me the information is wrong. Please, I'd like to know.
          The "Real Thing"?? Does this mean you trust, say, Fox News? (or, if you're a right-winger, NPR?) Both of these organizations are "the Real Thing." They are backed by and employ many "official" "professionals", but I'll bet dimes to dollars you refuse to trust one of them just because. Why do you even read Techdirt? What are Mike's credentials? Do you know? Does the corporate intelligence news aggregation service qualify techdirt as "the Real Thing"?

           

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2005 @ 1:03pm

        Re: Rabblepedia

        "So? Go correct the entry.
        This is the point of Wiki."

        Your arrogant ignorance is worthless. THEY WON'T LET YOU correst it. That is the point. The wikipeedia is like anytthing scum can get their hands on or can be botherees to touch OWNED AAND CONTROLLED by moronic fascist ignorant SCUM.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 15th, 2005 @ 8:21pm

          Re: Rabblepedia

          botherees to touch OWNED AAND CONTROLLED by moronic fascist ignorant You, sir, are clearly not ignorant at all. Also, you have no fascistic tendencies.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2004 @ 11:07am

      Re: Rabblepedia

      Just because most people believe something to be true does not make it true.

      That would be like most of Dorpus's posts here.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2004 @ 6:30am

      Re: Rabblepedia

      Umm. Not all bacteria are prokaryotic.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2004 @ 4:00pm

      Re: Rabblepedia

      Quoth the Wikipedia:
      Bacteria may reproduce either asexually or sexually. Primarily they reproduce asexually, which they accomplish by binary fission, or simple cell division. During this process, one cell divides into two daughter cells with the development of a transverse cell wall. However, genetic variations can occur within individual cells through recombinant events such as mutation (random genetic change within a cell's own genetic code), transformation (the transfer of naked DNA from one bacterial cell to another in solution), transduction (the transfer of viral, bacterial, or both bacterial and viral DNA from one cell to another via bacteriophage) and bacterial conjugation (the transfer of DNA from one bacterial cell to another via a special protein structure called a conjugation pilus). Bacteria, having acquired DNA from any of these events, can then undergo fission and pass the recombined genome to new progeny cells. Many bacteria harbor plasmids that contain extrachromosomal DNA.

      Looks like the Wikipedia was smart enough to get the whole "prokaryotes do the binary fission thing" correct.

       

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    Brian Carnell, Aug 28th, 2004 @ 8:21am

    Unplug that computer when you're done

    Mr. Fastol has a number of odd ideas:

    "If you use Windows, don't run your computer without up-to-date protection against viruses, and don't leave your computer plugged in when you're not using it. Spammers can turn on any hijacked Windows PC remotely, using a function built into the PC's BIOS (its basic operating instructions). Don't let them take over your Windows PC."

    I'm assuming he's referring to Wake-On-Lan, but how many people have their home PCs configured to enable WOL?

     

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      technocrat, Aug 28th, 2004 @ 1:26pm

      Re: Unplug that computer when you're done

      "If you use Windows, don't run your computer without up-to-date protection against viruses, and don't leave your computer plugged in when you're not using it. Spammers can turn on any hijacked Windows PC remotely, using a function built into the PC's BIOS (its basic operating instructions). Don't let them take over your Windows PC."
      I'm assuming he's referring to Wake-On-Lan, but how many people have their home PCs configured to enable WOL?
      -----------------
      Actually, I think he's referring to the netbios, and there are so many things wrong with his statement I won't even get into it....
      This place is quite a tinderbox... settle down people!

       

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        vm, Aug 28th, 2004 @ 1:59pm

        Re: Unplug that computer when you're done

        Perhaps he's referring to the wake-on-FUD feature that's built in to every journalist. Hey, will you look at that? I didn't know that Fasolt is a famous Syracusan...

         

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      Chris Davis, Aug 30th, 2004 @ 6:32pm

      Re: Unplug that computer when you're done

      > I'm assuming he's referring to Wake-On-Lan, but
      > how many people have their home PCs configured to
      > enable WOL?

      Probably the real time clock. One of the standard things a lot of RTCs in PCs have is a function to turn on the pc from a date and time alarm you can set - on some machines, the bios setup screens can be used to set the alarm by hand - it is very simple software. So yes, this is totally possible, and quite simple to do if you have low level access to the hardware -- win98? What other OS?

       

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    Bob, Aug 28th, 2004 @ 9:49am

    Too bad I'm not faster off the draw...

    I sent a letter to the guy, as well, though from an address I don't check often. He sent back a response I didn't expect from someone whose "address has been online since 1983," as he told me. I had signed my note "Best Regards," but he obviously didn't believe me, judging by his attitude. Similar experiences to Mike, overall. He made up his mind and that's it. After I saw this entry, I calmed down and realized responding is just throwing packets against wall.

    Good job calling him on it Mike.

     

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    Roger, Aug 28th, 2004 @ 9:52am

    Ignorance talking about ignorance

    I emailed our pal Al on the 25th when I first saw this article. I immediately put together a solid rebuttal explaining to him the intricacies of an open information system and here is his reply: > -------- Original Message -------- > Subject: Re: Fw: Comment/Question > From: "Al Fasoldt" > Date: Thu, August 26, 2004 2:15 pm > To: roger@desertstandard.com > > Thanks, Roger. I'll be writing about this again before long. There is a LOT of interest, pro and con, in whether sources of information should be reliable. My take on this is of course that they should be, but a many readers seem to feel that it's OK for information to be freely available and freely changeable without needing to be authenticated. So we'll look at it again. > > Al

     

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      Greg, Aug 28th, 2004 @ 11:14am

      Re: Ignorance talking about ignorance

      I don't trust Wikipedia completely - but I feel safe in saying that I trust it more than I trust the facts in a daily newspaper. When ever there is a newspaper article about something that I am intimately familiar with, there are inevitably mistakes. And most people know this. That's how Jayson Blair got away with his stuff for so long; subjects are used to newspapers that get things wrong all the time even when they are trying to get them right, so they didn't report that Blair was making things up.

      Now, the question over whether I would trust Wikipedia over the Britannica is different. Wikipedia is often smarter on subjects in the Britannica because they are written by experts on the subjects involved. Wikipedia also gets updated far more frequently. On the other hand, Wikipedia does have its faults on controversial topics where partisans battle over what the truth is. So both kinds of publications have their strengths.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2004 @ 10:59am

    No Subject Given

    I think the clue as to what is driving Al Fasoldt can be found in the second to last paragraph of his column:
    I was amazed at how little I knew about Wikipedia. If you know of other supposedly authoritative Web sites that are untrustworthy, send a note to technology@syracuse.com and let me know about them.
    There you have it. Al's trying to set himself up as a sort of consumer advocate reporter for the Internet. Could be a big syndication deal if takes off, and damned if he'll let research get in the way of that ambition. I have to go meet friends at a cafe now, so I'm going to power down my computer and unplug it so none of those evil hackers gain access, just like Mr. Fasoldt told me to do.

     

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    Chuck Welch, Aug 28th, 2004 @ 12:01pm

    on Al Fasolt

    Al Fasolt should have harkened back to a comment he made in 1998 "But the problem, gentlemen, is that nothing can replace human judgment. So we will always need a way to enter our own tastes and preferences into a database, and, of course, we will always want to modify the listed tastes and preferences of others. And this, alas, requires a little work, done the old fashioned way." He was writing about cataloging CDs, but I think it also holds true for the Wikipedia, a database of knowledge.

     

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    Rob Mientjes, Aug 28th, 2004 @ 4:53pm

    No Subject Given

    I've made my judgement. What an... Never mind. You know what I mean.
    Oh, and Wikimedia is a great concept.

     

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    Anonymous, Aug 29th, 2004 @ 5:18am

    Welcome to the logic of skeptics

    Congratulations, you have just suffered a skeptic attack.

    This journalist uses the same tactics that skeptics use to ridicule and dismiss UFO evidence. They:

  • Refuse to look at the evidence, because the subject is "ridiculous".
  • Use personal attacks instead of addressing the facts.
  • Continue to publish falsehoods in the face of correction.
  • Trust information sources irrationally.
  • Apply logic and the rules of evidence selectively.

  • This behaviour is well documented; look up "stupid skeptic tricks" and "the logical trickery of the UFO skeptic" for detailed analysis of this sort of behaviour. Its extremely annoying is it not?

 

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    DCR, Aug 29th, 2004 @ 11:38am

    accuracy

    What's wrong with the Wikipedia? Maybe plenty, in a temporary, correctable way. Rememeber, the Oxford English Dictionary (the main touchstone in the English language for factual info) was initially created by volunteers who wrote in and sent the examples of usage with the definition (see "The Professor and The Madman" by Simon Winchester).

    Everything we now know proved something else wrong at some point. If we can gear our attitudes towards always recognizing that, really, NOTHING IS SET IN STONE, maybe the media can quit jumping to such wanton journalistic conclusions all the time. Let the guy have his say, then recognize that he just got THE CRAP CORRECTED OUT OF HIM.

     

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    Kai, Aug 29th, 2004 @ 1:20pm

    accepting critique

    First let me say, I love Wikipedia. But I think we need to accept critique of it. As many things it is not perfect. But it gives us a choice, we can chose it`s information, and with it thrusting our peers. Or we can chose the more traditional sources. As we should accept critique. I read his article, and found it ok. He by the look of it looked like he felt that another point of view was needed. And through this liberian gave it. Something Wikipedia is more than strong enough to survive. If it was`t if would not surviev and would not deserve to either.

     

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    Stephen, Aug 29th, 2004 @ 3:34pm

    Old World exposes its self

    Old World is under attack. The authority of the book, authority of the journalist, authority of the teacher, is under direct assault by Wikipedia and other online efforts.
    It should come as no suprise a journalist and teacher ganged up on Wikipedia. Both have much to loose. Their claim? Authority. We will see much more of this backlash by the old guard in the future.
    The education system its self will come into question eventually. Universities are formed around libraries and libraries are physical things that require physical campuses. Take away the library, provide full access to every book ever writen online, imagine the consequences. There is much resistence to this, publishers still do not make books available as PDF's, most libraries have still not converted texts online, newspapers still treat the online editition as the ugly stepchild.
    It's a war between the Old World of the past and the New World and those who "get it" know whats happening on all fronts from Copyright issues to Wikipedia battles in Syracuse. Eventually the information will route around the damage that is the old system of constraints.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 30th, 2004 @ 6:44am

    No Subject Given

    " ...after telling us how you can't trust any random info online, he trusted the email from a random librarian claiming Wikipedia was somehow untrustworthy."
    Please don't judge all librarians by the random act of one.

     

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    tiffany, Aug 30th, 2004 @ 12:31pm

    Two words ...

    Jayson Blair.
    Two more words Janet Cook.
    Journalists don't hold a monopoly on truth telling. What it boils down to is who do you trust? I don't understand how journalists -- and I used to be in the industry -- don't understand that.

     

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    Hiawatha Bray, Aug 31st, 2004 @ 8:05pm

    Another view on Wikipedia

    As fate would have it, I recently wrote about this. Check it out.

     

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    Keith, Sep 2nd, 2004 @ 11:21pm

    Pardon me, but you've debunked yourself

    The author here claims that the Wikipedia is not untrustworthy, and yet recommends backing up the information found there with another source.

    Um... from that statement, the Wikipedia is, in his own context, the "untrustworthy" source (he isn't trusting it).

    The wikipedia is an excellent source for information. But it is not, and does not try to be, authoritative. All that means is that you should back up what you find there with another source.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2004 @ 6:35pm

    No Subject Given

    Al Fasoldt is considered an idiot by most in the IT community here in Syracuse, NY. This is about as surprising as the sun rising in the morning. Sorta reminds me of the time he wrote an article about security of drive shares in windows. Preaching about how to secure shared folders with passwords and the such. Within a week, local websites had posted a video of Al and his wife....supposedly stolen from his machine, via an open share. Seems Al didn't practice what he preached...and quite possibly didnt know how to practice it. Which lead me to believe he mightave scarfed the article from someone else, and just made it seem like he was genious. The video wasnt that good btw. But still funny. ;)

     

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    Kai, Sep 21st, 2004 @ 10:32pm

    Well

    Someone did try to change the Syracuse, NY entry to say Syracuse was named after a city in Greece... Well, it didn't take me long to see that.

    (I am the main time-investor in the Syracuse entry)

    He should read through it and find all the information that's false in it. I'd like to see him try.

     

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    Kai, Sep 21st, 2004 @ 10:35pm

    No Subject Given

    This coming from the guy who claims to have seen HDTV in 1989: http://aroundcny.com/technofile/texts/bye2ntsc89.html

     

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    Big D, Sep 27th, 2004 @ 3:36pm

    Wikipedia is Useless

    Why would a person use a source like wikipedia to factually substantiate a thesis, just so they could turn around and have to do yet more research to prove the validity or invalidity of the wikipedia. It seems an unnecessary step in an already lengthy process that can simply be eliminated. Wikipedia is useless.

     

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    Kai, Oct 11th, 2004 @ 11:52am

    P-S Loves It

    The staff of the Post-Standard is obviously enjoying this. Brian Cubbison, assistant news editor, published an article on September 15 in which he mentions there being three persistent mistakes in the Syracuse entry, but not mentioning what they are. One mistake is probably the poverty rate which was compiled by a bot on Wikipedia and that's disputed all across it.

     

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    Angry Consumer, Jun 22nd, 2005 @ 10:51am

    No Subject Given

    I hate wikipedia's unfair rules they deleted good knowlege. They told me that I am vandelizing when I make a mistake.



    F**K you Wikipedia

     

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    playmedia, Sep 20th, 2005 @ 7:13am

    sr

    Well, it's instructive to note that Fasoldt is a traditional print reporter, making his living from newspaper sales. He has a vested interest in perpetuating the myth of the corporate press's superiority over non-profit, open-source community. That stuff that Wired was raving about in the 90's, about print becoming obsolete and traditional authorities standing in unemployment lines; those notions are alive and well as fears in the minds of those athorities.

    No doubt a certain amount of pride factors in as well. He didn't do his job, and that's plain for anyone to see. To admit he was wrong, and in print, will require both a delicacy and tactical deftness usually found in more widely-circulated pubs like the NYT and the Washington Post.

    As a rule of thumb: the smaller the paper, the more delusional, lazy, and stubborn its opinion columnists.

    Maybe this is the real reason that small town newspapers are dying.

     

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    Ivon Green, Jun 30th, 2006 @ 7:26pm

    UK Financial Service Online

    UKFSCO.CO.UK will help you financing for all your loans,mortgages and Insurace needs:
    Personal, Auto, Business, Home, Payday, Bad Credit, Debt Consolidation, Credit Reports, Credit Cards.
    Your one source for all your online online Financial : loans,Mortgages,Credit cards and Insurance.

     

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    Daniel, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 5:12am

    Wikipedia : KM / Knowledge Management => look at t

    read the "documental chain" on www.fbc-e.com. It's clearly summarizing what it's all about as from DOC.
    Besides the fact that it starts with the individuals before being a corporate concern !

     

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    hate wilkipedia, Sep 2nd, 2006 @ 7:42am

    Unvelibable garbage on it

    How SMART, Intelligent people can trust the garbage writen in WIlkipedia, is a shame tha the web allows this stupid thing, I have become across hundress of garbage written in this so called "fre enciclopedia. I my self tried changing several test for a nonsense text and is more than a month is still there
    How you people can trust this sites written by a nobody and written anything that the small brain decides to??? Come on CAmpaing against this offending SITES... DOWN with WILKIPEDIA

     

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    Bro, Sep 2nd, 2006 @ 7:45am

    Destroy wilkipedia Bro

    BRO agains tha so called eciclopedia
    Destroy it burn it ban it

     

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    pettyfog, Dec 7th, 2006 @ 9:14am

    I have to look with jaundiced eye on anyone..

    .. who would cast such aspersions on wiki.

    As a debating political conservative - meaning I'll want links and research on issues- I have been VERY impressed with the overall 'neutral, warts and all' presentations of wiki on both people and events.

    I suggest that anyone who disparages wiki to such an extent as Fasoldt has his own agenda, and 'favorite sources' which he himself knows are biased toward his beliefs.

    And yes. I'll trust 'Nerds' who care about getting facts and opinions correct, upfront, before I'll trust those who write for their own advancement.

    And 99% of academic published works are, in truth, for the advancement of the writer in one way or the other.

     

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    MikeJ, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 6:48am

    Wikipedia is a mess

    I have attempted to not only use wikipedia but also contribute articles on historical persons.

    I found that ANYONE (even without an account at wikipedia) can go in and mess up any article they want, as many times as they want. Sure eventually that article will be restored but until it is your stuck with what they post.

    Now the editors themselves seem not to know exactly what their supposed to do.
    For instance I submitted an article about a relative of Laura Ingalls (the author) the original editor declined it under the assumption that wikipedia isn't there for a genealogical record.... Well most encyclopedias include such things.
    I had to talk to the person and tell them that they already had articles for other relatives of Ingalls and it seemed in keeping. I was told to resubmit.

    Also I had to go back and edit my original submission since SOMEONE (without an account) had decided to replace the article with a rant.

    I resubmitted and once again had to edit it because someone (with an account) thought that 'Famous' looked better spelled 'Famouse'.

    No come one. How factual can it be with this type of junk happening?

     

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    Wikifan, Dec 27th, 2006 @ 10:52pm

    Nice rant, MikeJ...

    ...but it would have been more convincing if you didn't have so many spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors in your post. (I suppose I can assume that "No come one" is supposed to be "Now, come on.") It all does nothing to convince me that your entry deserved to be on Wikipedia.

     

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    Dave, Jan 31st, 2007 @ 9:40am

    wikipedia is useless

    Wikipedia is touted as self correcting, but for all that correcting that goes on, there is equal parts of modifications that are untrue, incorrect, improperly sourced etc etc. It is an exercise in 1 step forwards and 2 steps back for the most part and will never be anything more than that really. It is futile because you still have to double check the validity of pretty much anything you pull from wikipedia due to it being changed constantly. Just because there is an element of self correction by a community doesn't for a minute mean that the corrections are correct or the community is not just another clique of self proclaimed experts. I'd rather use a real encyclopdeia.

     

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    Terry J Ho, Jun 2nd, 2007 @ 3:42am

    Wikipedia is useless

    I've been an editor over a couple of years and decided to leave as it was affecting my eyesight. I have over 4000 edits on WP and here is what I noticed about it:-

    *When one leaves no matter what they have written it's whitewashed.
    *If you want your POV to be inflated the prey on the isolated articles. Cover your tracks by editing on unrelated topics.
    *Content disputes are fabricated and people mail each other for help. I have done it myself.
    *No matter how well you source your edits on WP they'll be gone once you are, unless you learn to operate in a cabal (wiki for gang).

    It's useless for anything related to history and figures of national importance, the science and tech topics are good though.

    Regards,

     

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    Helen Masters, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 3:54am

    Wikipedia - the infomercial threat

    The whole Wikipedia concept is fatally flawed. The notion that one can produce an authoritative encyclopedia without any kind of editorial control is patently ridiculous.

    There is a far greater and more insidious threat to Wikipedia than simple character assassination or falsehood. It can broadly be labelled “infomercial content” (i.e. content that purports to be informative but has a commercial bias). A good example is the entry on Barcelona (Spain). The whole article reads like a tourist brochure and any reference to the city’s pollution problems is swiftly removed by an army of self-appointed censors. There are strong indications that the Barcelona Tourist Board (or its army of acolytes) has effectively hijacked the site. This kind of thing is going to become more prevalent as Wikipedia becomes better known. Basically, there is nothing that can be done to stop this corporate take-over of Wikipedia without editorial control yet such control runs counter to the whole Wiki ethos.

    The idea that “a community of users” is going to apply some common sense criteria regarding content is a mistaken one. In the case of the Barcelona entry, the influence of Catalan/Spanish speakers on both content and style is all too evident. The locals seem eager to “sell” their city to the wider world and to show off their appalling English. Wikipedia not only lacks the control mechanisms to stop them, it also wilfully fails to recognize it has a serious problem.

     

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    stinky, Nov 1st, 2007 @ 2:08pm

    Wikidy Wikidy Wikidy Wack.

    I farted.

     

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