Wikipedia Edits Show How Important The Site Has Become

from the rethinking-wikipedia dept

With all of the stories last month about various companies or organizations trying to edit Wikipedia to their own advantage, many Wikipedia haters used it as evidence as to why Wikipedia was no good. However, some are realizing exactly the opposite. Jeremy Wagstaff has a good column showing that all of these embarrassing Wikipedia edits show the reverse: it shows just how important and credible a source Wikipedia has become. As for the worries about biased entries, Wagstaff notes that nearly all of the controversial edits were quickly replaced. While some may point out that this doesn’t help for the people who saw the edited entries, it appears that Wikipedia is trying to solve that problem by highlighting recent or less-trustworthy edits. So, really, all that we’ve learned from this is that Wikipedia is quite important — and it’s only getting better over time.

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Comments on “Wikipedia Edits Show How Important The Site Has Become”

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23 Comments
Ajax 4Hire (profile) says:

Wikipedia rocks...

So much better than any other encyclopedia.
I use it all the time for work and research.
My kids use it also for homework.

It is the google of encyclopedias.

Only thing left is to come up with a catchy phrase to use it as a verb like Google.
I Google, you google, he/she/it googles, they google, we google, I have googled; I will google it later.
Wikipedia is not as easy to gerund.
I Wikipedia, no maybe I wiki, no still to hard to say.

Once it becomes a verb, then it has become institutionalized.

MP Lakh says:

Wikipedia defintion / verb

wiki 55 up, 52 down

verb

to look up any person, place, event, or other uncommon and random thing using Wikipedia.org

He wikied the word shnitzel and found that it was German for a sort of veal steak.

tags wikipedia google wikki wicca encyclopedia
by Gemelas Primos California Jan 14, 2006 email it
5. Wiki 1 thumb up

To look something up on the site Wikipedia.
To “wiki” is similar to to “google”.

“Go wiki that and see what it says.”

Anonymous Coward says:

wikipedia, like any encyclopedia, should not be used as a primary source for research. it is a good starting point, and can lead you to a primary source. I remember looking things up in my Funk & Wagnalls as a kid, and how many things turned out to be wrong.

Encyclopedias, or wikipedias, are a great place to settle a bar bet or to find out where to look to find out more. They are not the end all be all. The neat thing about a wiki as oppossed to a traditional encyclopedia, is that it’s easier to update/correct mistakes.

Anonymous Coward says:

I am not a heavy user of Wikipedia, but when I do Google searches looking for information, I seem to be finding links to Wikipedia more and more often. It is indeed a very valuable source of information. There is no way a traditional set of encyclopedias will have information like this (anybody other than me notice that new editions seem to repeatedly have the exact same information reprinted all the time with nothing new added?), and if they did, the cost would be astronomical.

This is a source of information that freely accessible to all and can be updated in an instant by people in the know. Granted, it has its drawbacks, but not nearly as many drawbacks as traditional encyclopedias, which include high cost, lack of new and properly updated information, lack of common information in general, etc.

I believe Wikipedia will be around for quite some time, and will become an ever-more reliable and well-used source of information. It should not be the only source one uses, since it can contain errors and biased information, but I think it will be one of the leading sources.

Norm (profile) says:

Wikipedia will kill Google

Web rev A

Lots of information on a given topic but it’s spread all over and impossible to find – solution: search engines find the information a bring it to one place. Problem: the information is not structured. It is presented as a mass of links that a user has to sort through.

Web rev B

People with information on a given topic bring it to a single place where it is structured, organized and discussed. Links still exist, but they are placed in a context.

The need for search is vastly reduced.

Casper says:

Wikipedia is great

I have a serious problem with the fact that so many educators are fighting wikipedia, yet embrace printed encyclopedia’s. When I find errors in wikipedia articles, they are generally fixed in a matter of days. When I find errors in printed encyclopedias… they may never be fixed. In fact, misinformation spread by many printed materials seems to be far more prevalent then in digital materials due to the pace at which our understanding changes. Hell, most printed materials you will find in a library have nearly all their physics information incorrect or outdated, call Pluto a planet, and refer computer technology that hasn’t been used in this century.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Wikipedia is great

“call Pluto a planet, and refer computer technology that hasn’t been used in this century.” This is just a case of someone needing updated material. This information was correct at one point in time.

The issue with educators and Wikipedia (to my understanding) is that students use only Wikipedia as a source or they use it as their primary research source. What ends up happening often is that a student turns in a paper with miss-information. Wikipedia is a good source, but not always the most reliable.

However, I agree that education should do more to embrace electronic sources of information. They constantly point to budgetary constraints as to why they have outdated textbooks (leads to your issue above) but seem slow to embrace the more readily available and less expensive electronic sources like Wikipedia.
I am not as in love with Wikipedia as some of the other posters here (I don’t foresee it “killing Google”) however I am sure there is a happy medium in there somewhere.

Beefcake says:

Best solution, of course

Is to use online encyclopedias that aren’t edited by every jackass out there but have some sort of demonstrable credibility and discipline. And saying that “it’s popular so it must be good” isn’t much of a pro-argument.

In an ideal world, wikis would be what it’s trying to be: a great knowledgebase where everyone is honest and doesn’t have an ax to grind and understands the concept of keeping your damn mouth shut if you don’t know what you’re talking about. But that’s hardly the world we live in, so I’ll stick to identifiable, disciplined sources of information I’ve come to trust, and not the same general public that also thinks that reality shows are neat, mistakes religious affiliation for spiritualism and morality, and turns nouns into verbs (wiki is a noun– if I’m wearing a shirt, I’m not “shirting”.)

Falindraun says:

My College Discounts All Wiki

My college discounts all Wiki entries mainly because anybody can edit any entry my instructor even edited an entry about a year ago with completely bogus and made up stuff about a year and a half ago and its still there. If my instructor can add totally bogus material to a wiki entry, where is the the truth in any wiki article and totally broke all faith in wiki. How do i know that others are not doing this same thing???

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: My College Discounts All Wiki

My college discounts all Wiki entries mainly because anybody can edit any entry my instructor even edited an entry about a year ago with completely bogus and made up stuff about a year and a half ago and its still there.

Too bad you have a vandal for a professor. But how do you know that this self-confessed vandal really did what was claimed? Did the vandal reveal the location of the vandalism to you? And, if so, did you clean it up or point it out to someone else who could? Did you report the vandal to the school administration? If not, then why not?

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Many

#3, well said. =)
#11 made some good points as well.
I agree that it should not be used as an only source, but I would think it could be used as A single source for any topic, as long as other sources agree.

#13 – Your professor is not cool. He should not be putting bogus information on wikipedia. I could be arguing against something. But just because I go and do it doesn’t make me right. For example, if I spoke out against (to pull an example somebody used last week) bank robberies and that banks make it too easy; me going out and robbing a bank doesn’t make me right.

Anonymous Coward says:

wikis...

are good. but information is only as good as its source. i’ve seen errors in britanica, F&W, and others…

the issue is using only one source of information. however you can get cyclical sources… paper a refers to b, which refers to c to d…. back to a

but then again…it is quite easy to “publish” something and have it be cited..

however having a massively open forum for information does help to keep it honest. i mean if 10 people “hate” something and try to discredit it… there are 100 more who’ll “correct”

so…. it’s just a matter of standing points

Josh says:

Subject differences

Another issue people overlook with Wikipedia (I think anyway) is that it’s not uniformly good across all subjects. For example, it’s math articles are among the best on the web (for diversity, accuracy and depth). Maybe it’s because errors in math articles are more easily noticed, or because it’s a more stable topic (Calculus isn’t exactly going to change completely tomorrow). In other areas, like corporate info and sensitive historical topics, maybe there’s more traffic and more room for error. People should maybe take this into account when using Wikipedia.

SludgeMonkey says:

meh...

Wikipedia is a great idea with one disabling fallacy:

Most of its users are ignorant morons that believe everything they read without question.

While I don’t deny Wikipedia’s usefulness as a starting point in research, it is only good for that- a starting point.

Yes, there is plenty of valid accuarate data available however there is also a ton of heresay and unrefrenced “information” intermixed often without any way to determine what is what.

Mainly because, as with anything else “…of the people, by the people…” the main problem is the people themselves.

(now, let the flamespraying begin…LOL)

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