"even Wikipedia"

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Gustav, Feb 14, 2009.

  1. Gustav Banned Banned

    Messages:
    12,575
    that was AlphaNumeric over here

    the guy seems to be dissing the place as i have probably done too
    yet it is in our power to rectify whatever is known to be wrong with the place, ie: bogus info

    it could be simple as correcting typos, providing citations or as complicated as validating math equations.

    should a sense of civic responsibility be engendered towards the place? i think so

    Wikipedia appears to be the precise reverse of The Tragedy of the Commons - a collectively maintained and "owned" resource that produces huge benefits to its community of users, while all the costs are borne by a small number of individuals. An online encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone, Wikipedia constantly is improving in quality because the sum of its editing process is positive over time.

    This is the case even though it's estimated that fewer than two percent of Wikipedia's users ever edit (let alone create) an article. Even more striking, the vast majority of article creation and editing is done by a small subset of this much smaller group.

    In other words, the costs of creating and maintaining this collective resource are borne by a few, while the benefits are enjoyed by people who, in the vast majority of cases, contribute nothing to the enterprise themselves. (link)



    The bulk of the writing and editing on Wikipedia is done by a geographically diffuse group of 1,000 or so regulars, many of whom are administrators on the site.

    "A lot of people think of Wikipedia as being 10 million people, each adding one sentence," Mr. Wales said. "But really the vast majority of work is done by this small core community."

    The administrators are all volunteers, most of them in their 20's. They are in constant communication — in real-time online chats, on "talk" pages connected to each entry and via Internet mailing lists. The volunteers share the job of watching for vandalism, or what Mr. Wales called "drive-by nonsense." Customized software — written by volunteers — also monitors changes to articles. (link)


    so ahh
    lets shed the insularity

    screw posting in sci
    fuck the peer reviewed journal
    asswipe that blog

    ja
    ask not what your wikipedia can do for you; ask what you can do for your wikipedia
     
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    24,690
    But the costs are small. This is a perfect example of the effect of the Paradigm Shift to a post-industrial economy. The new commodity is information. The cost of producing information is qualitatively much lower than industrial-era commodities, and the cost of maintaining and distributing it is (as was once said about electricity from nuclear power plants) "too cheap to meter." It's vitally important to note that the people who contribute articles to Wikipedia are not putting themselves out. The effort is so miniscule that for most of them it's a hobby rather than real "work." As such they do not regard it as "costing" them anything.
    How many people access Wikipedia? Surely millions, probably tens of millions. Two percent of that number is a heck of a lot of people. I've created at least half a dozen articles and edited dozens.
    As I said, the cost is slight so it's not a burden on anyone. Most of them consider it a hobby or entertainment, a way to relax after a hard day at work. Welcome to the Post-Industrial Era. Please leave your preconceptions about economics at the door.
    I'm sure I speak for most of the contributors: What we want is for Wikipedia to contribute to the improvement and advancement of civilization, by making it easier for people to access information. We regard ourselves as architects of humanity's future. All we ask anyone to "do for wikipedia" is simply to use it.

    We're like the retired lady down the street who's always baking pastries and passing them out to everyone in the neighborhood. Her reward is the smiles on their faces and the improvement of their attitudes. All she wants to do is make the neighborhood a better place to live.

    That's what we're trying to do. All we want you to do is eat our cookies.

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  5. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    34,752
    Just watch where you stop

    A little way south of Seattle, in a small city called Puyallup is the Western Washington Fairgrounds, home of what is more colloquially known as, you guessed it, the Puyallup Fair. One long mainstay at the fair is the famous Cow Chip Cookie.

    They're great. Wonderful. For many around here they become the standard of what a chocolate chip cookie should be.

    The problem Wikipedia faces right now is that some people are actually trying to pass off real cow chips. Some of these are wingnuts. Some of them, undoubtedly, are anarchists. And some of them are institutional.

    I do not envy those entrusted with the regulatory vigil of Wikipedia entries. That's a tall, daunting, neverending task.
    ____________________

    Notes:

    Borland, John. "See Who's Editing Wikipedia - Diebold, the CIA, a Campaign". Wired.com. August 14, 2008. http://www.wired.com/politics/onlinerights/news/2007/08/wiki_tracker
     
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  7. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

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    Wikipedia is a "tertiary" resources: its good for "getting the jist of things" or occasionally for finding noted primary of secondary research, but with very few exceptions should not be cited in any research proposal, research articles to be published, or thesis dissertations. the very nature of wikipedia means it can never be taken seriously as a literature source, and nothing can be done to fix that, except maybe for citizendium which as least has the ability to trace writers of its articles and trace it claims.
     
  8. Liebling Doesn't Need to be Spoonfed. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,532
    If the Wikipedia makes a few people less ignorant, I don't see how contributing to it should be a problem, but I do fear that once the information store becomes too great, someone will snatch it up and offer it at cost, as always happens. Everyone has a price they will sell out to, and not one volunteer could claim intellectual rights to it.

    I am a cynical old gal. Nothing that easy comes for free.
     
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,690
    Haven't you noticed that it's becoming increasingly difficult to enforce payment for anything digital? The battle over file-sharing is far from finished. That's one of the economic dimensions of the post-industrial Paradigm Shift: the whole concept of "the price of a commodity" will be obsolete, or at least completely restructured.

    The post-industrial economy might very well be unrecognizable to us, just as today's economy would be make no sense to someone from the twelfth century.
     
  10. Slacker47 Paint it Black Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    667
    Gustav,

    I like your enthusiasm, but I have better things to do. I agree with the Fetus. Use it as a way to introduce yourself to things. Most people do not seek out knowledge. Dont take it personally, the truth is still out there even if it isnt in the Wiktionary

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  11. Gustav Banned Banned

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    12,575
    turns out nature engaged in a similar plea back in 2005

    Nature would like to encourage its readers to help. The idea is not to seek a replacement for established sources such as the Encyclopaedia Britannica, but to push forward the grand experiment that is Wikipedia, and to see how much it can improve. Select a topic close to your work and look it up on Wikipedia. If the entry contains errors or important omissions, dive in and help fix them. It need not take too long. And imagine the pay-off: you could be one of the people who helped turn an apparently stupid idea into a free, high-quality global resource.
     
  12. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    23,053
    Yet the work of one "info-terrorist" could fuck up the works of thousands of honest, determined individuals and their efforts.

    The problem is Wiki's unreliability or erroneous info ....and if it's true in one or several selected categories, then how can one be sure of any entries on any subject?

    Inducing skepticism in a site such as Wikipedia is like ripping off the "fiction" and "non-fiction" labels at the library! Pick a subject, then guess which is fact or fiction!!

    Baron Max
     
  13. Gustav Banned Banned

    Messages:
    12,575
    i guess YOU have no choice except to then, wallow around in ignorance
    dumb klutz

    /sneer
     
  14. tuberculatious Banned Banned

    Messages:
    987
    if there would be spreadsheets on wikipedia it would be perfect.
     
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,690
    Something like 99% of new articles and substantial edits are reviewed within 60 minutes. I once wrote a bio on a musician, went to lunch, came back to finish it, and it was gone with a snippy message saying that he was not noteworthy enough for Wikipedia. If there's a concerted attack they marshal their forces and fend it off. They can simply freeze articles or put all edits through a mandatory review before they're posted. They do that routinely with controversial articles such as political figures.

    One vandal could not do a statistically significant amount of damage. It would take an army of vandals and if they showed up people would jump out of the woodwork to augment the defenders.
    Since I began my career in IT in 1967, we've been plagued with an unconscious public attitude that "if you read something on a computer printout it must be true." Of course we have screens today but the same attitude prevails. We need to educate people to understand that looking something up on Wikipedia (or any online resource) is almost exactly the same as finding somebody whose expertise you respect and asking them orally. Every expert is wrong occasionally, if only because you and he don't quite understand each other.

    These days people second-guess their doctors! Why then is it so hard to say, "Gee, this is pretty important and I'd better double-check the info from Wikipedia against another source"?
    But the error rate is really low. I make a practice of peer-reviewing articles about topics on which I qualify as an expert. I don't recall that I've ever found an error so substantive that it would have really screwed somebody up who walked away believing it.

    Wikipedia is a whole lot better than the dead-tree encyclopedia my parents had when I was a kid. Kids today have access to a thousand times more information than we did (or perhaps a million times more) so even if a rather small portion of it is wrong, they're still far better off than we were.

    A precocious, academically oriented kid in the age of the internet must feel like he's living in the grandest era in all of history, and he's probably right. All we have to do is remind him that there's no such thing as 100% accuracy. He can Google that.

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  16. zaindapain Registered Member

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    wikipidia is user based..
    cant blame it for faults.

    EVEN you and I can edit anything thats on it...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2009

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