Ramblings

by Mike Masnick




NY Times Magazine Takes A Neutral Point Of View On Wikipedia

from the not-so-bad dept

Over the years, there have been tons of articles about Wikipedia -- some more ridiculous than others. The haters of Wikipedia are pretty common, though, as you read what they have to say it often becomes clear that they don't actually understand Wikipedia and believe it's something it's not. However, the NY Times Magazine this past weekend has a more interesting -- and, frankly, "neutral" -- article on Wikipedia that looks more at the people who keep Wikipedia going as well as Wikipedia's impact on news coverage. It notes that Wikipedia is often much better than offshoot Wikinews when it comes to keeping up with breaking news. However, what's most interesting is hearing the various quotes from the various volunteers who keep Wikipedia going. Despite what you may have read from various Wikipedia critics, the folks who devote so much time to Wikipedia take it, and its principles of neutrality, incredibly seriously. While there may be nothing really new in the article, it's one of the first that I've seen that gives a more reasonable picture of how Wikipedia's biggest supporters view the site -- and it works quite well as a response to people who insist that Wikipedia couldn't possibly be trustworthy (or that it somehow is an affront to "experts" -- when that's not the case at all).

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  • identicon
    T.J., 2 Jul 2007 @ 8:15pm

    Agreed

    You can find more facts on Wikipedia then you'll find on any major media corporation "news" site. Wikipedia constantly links its sources, announces when something may be non-factual, and alerts you when there is no citation for a fact. Thats WAY more credible then any other site I've seen out there.

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  • identicon
    charlie potatoes, 2 Jul 2007 @ 8:51pm

    sources

    As a freelance writer who occasionally writes the odd collegy essay for hire, I see professor after professor forbid the student to use this online site. What a pompous load of horse manure. I, and I assume most college students, are capable of separating the wheat from the straw. Irrespective of what the professor says, my first visit is to wikipedia, where I often find valuable links and general information. I am precluded from citing it much of the time, but my job would be more difficult without at least looking over what it has to say. How arrogant of these professors. They assume thta their students can't, or won't, verify whatever they find there.

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  • identicon
    ACM, 2 Jul 2007 @ 10:00pm

    Everybody chill

    I'm a college newspaper editor and happen to love Wikipedia, so much so that I devoted a column to it last semester. I grabbed the inevitable quote from a wary professor, blah blah. The bottom line is that it's a wonderful starting point but that an academic just shouldn't cite Wikipedia itself; after all, it's Wiki policy to give citations for facts in articles, so what use can come from citing Wikipedia instead of the original, authoritative source?

    T.J.'s trust in Wikipedia as a source of "credibility" is heartwarming but strikes me as odd. To say that Wikipedia constantly does anything is to err, because there is no entity called Wikipedia; it's just a grab bag of John Q. Publics who feel like editing at the time. T.J. is quite obviously interesting in fighting the good fight, which is really cute and all, but the sad irony is that by not listing the "major media corporation 'news' sites" that fail to live up to his journalistic standards, he's made the same mistake he's so righteously wailing about. All it takes is one ne'er-do-well to delete a link, and bam -- so much for constantly linking its sources, T.J.

    I think that from an academic standpoint Wikipedia was engineered to be used precisely the way in which I and Charlie Potatoes use it, which is ground zero for some vital information and a sort of launchpad into more detailed (and acceptable) sources. As long as the editors of a Wiki article provide citations of journal articles or books or encyclopedias, who really needs to cite Wikipedia? The romance, naturally, of a 3-page bibliography is all but ruined with but one MLA-formatted hat-tip to ole Wiki.

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  • identicon
    bonelyfish, 2 Jul 2007 @ 11:27pm

    In my own experience, wikipedia is so useful and intuitive that a quarter of the classes become meaningless and there is even saved time I have to spend in the (online) library filtering out obscure journals for piecemeal facts. BTW, if talking about facts, I haven't seen a professor more knowledgable/neutral/error-free than wikipedia!

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  • identicon
    Comicfan, 3 Jul 2007 @ 1:24am

    Wikiwonder

    While I am no editor, I am always looking up a wealth of info and I always check more than one source no matter where I go. It's simply good practice. I will admit, Wikipedia has been dead on and I can't recall a case where it hasn't for what I've looked up, not saying it can't or hasn't happened, just not to me. If professors or anyone says, don't go to WP, well then we can say the same on the WHOLE www. It's made up from many people and anyone knows not everything you read on the internet is true, no matter what site you visit. Sure there is a lot of credible sources, but even books can prove wrong in any point in time. For one, I wonder if many know that WP has certain people that can edit it. Yes, it can be anyone but you have to be approved. This seems never to surface in most articles, they act as if your Aunt Petunia is stopping by, changing a definition and leaving. No no no, Aunt Petunia has to be approved first. However, I never liked Aunt Petunia, don't even know her, but you get the point.

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  • identicon
    Music Man, 3 Jul 2007 @ 5:43am

    It works...kinda

    Wikipedia is a fantastic resource. As a college student going into their jr. year i find that i hold the .pedia as a close friend. Largely yes it is possible to pick out the B.S. from potential fact. The only issue with the site is that it is public edited.

    As ACM stated, Wikipedia makes a great basis to start from, if you do not have a good idea on a topic. Though a few articles may be fouled by missing citations, and misinformation. In large part, wiki is good for a general idea. Much like spark notes is to middle schoolers and high schoolers. Though they dont use it as a starting point.

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  • identicon
    Lewis Salem, 3 Jul 2007 @ 7:22am

    Wiki hate.

    Wikipedia has changed my life. I am able to access quick information instead of digging through advertisements, editorials, or agenda based journalism. The sad fact is, there is no line between TV news and entertainment.

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  • identicon
    Wiki 4 life, 5 Jul 2007 @ 8:44am

    Wiki is all about corrections

    If you find an error on Wikipedia, its your job to correct it otherwise don't go there....

    simple as that. There should be a GPL. You can't use wiki if you don't fix the errors :p

    Thats your job as a wiki user

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  • identicon
    anonimous, 23 Jul 2007 @ 12:32pm

    tax troubles

    it is in about, the question yo make to me, in about the monitoring an economic sustain, of secret war the united states militar army, are making at the howard hughes legal son, the troubles them are because the united states them can to sustain to that war politicaly, because that it does all over illegal, that it is why? that it is a secret war, soem goverment are helping to the united states with that one, as them are the mexicans the germans, in the moust, many world's countries them dosen't want to support to the united states with that secret war, it because a goverment must not to own, those big'est bussines places mr hughes he did, with foringer tegnologies, in the moust from the britanic and italian tecgnologies, the trouble them are because the united states goverment them are saying them want to own those bussines places, but many countries saying that asso can't to be, because a goverment can't grow that much building weapons as for free with out paying tax, and with out paying materials, the trouble are also at the americans because them killing as german to them hand of work to don't pay, many, troubles for the americans to own, in the moust powerfull insurance enterprises, them saying must to be a self owner, to safe to the world, actualy them lawyer people saying them want the bussines out side the american land, and to don't pay tax in any time, because them are ever holding haijaked to the howard hughes son, and with assasinations pretending, the american are how jealows of his gorgeous bussines him self did, call you latter bye.-

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