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ArtiqueFox's avatar

"...he free encyclopedia that anyone can edit." Good or bad idea?

Asked by ArtiqueFox (974points) February 18th, 2010

As 99.9 percent of you know, that’s Wikipedia’s tagline.

So, is this concept of “everyone and anyone can make changes to the articles” a revolutionary idea or a disaster waiting to happen?

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31 Answers

Arp's avatar

Meh, it seems to have worked out well (Except for history teachers, they hate Wikipedia…)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I think there are some great experts out there and they take painstaking steps to make sure their stuff is good – I’d trust ‘em…

Sarcasm's avatar

Wikipedia has been going strong since 2001. citation
I think if it were a “disaster waiting to happen”, it would’ve happened by now.

There are moderators. People do get IP banned. Pages do get locked if they’re being vandalized. It’s not entirely a chaotic realm.
People on the internet, surprisingly want to share their knowledge. Who would have guessed?

SeventhSense's avatar

There will always be ideas and areas of specialty that are distinctive to certain people as well to follow the above. Knowledge is essentially trust on many levels. There will always be fine points of distinction but glaring factual errors will not stand for long in an open worldwide community. Now Wikipedia in China is a different story entirely.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Fluther is as reliable as wiki.

SeventhSense's avatar

I agree if for nothing else other than the increased traffic to Wikipedia and their tendency to remove blatantly false data.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Point is that wiki is a source of info that you’ll have to fact check to verify. That’s not a good use of time.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Great idea!As long as it’s called Bullshit-o -pedia ;)

SeventhSense's avatar

I love how people actually imagine that information, knowledge, science, language or anything for that matter is fixed and permanent. There are billions of books on millions of topics. Encyclopedias in any form have never been considered a comprehensive source on anything. They are just an overview.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

I think Wikipedia is fantastic. Yes, anyone can come in and edit articles so there may be some discrepancies, but there are some quality standards as @Sarcasm pointed out. I have yet to find an article that was blatantly off-base.

What makes Wikipedia good is it’s simplicity. When an individual wants to find some basic info, they have quick and easy access to to an enormous amount of information. Should you cite it a college level research paper? No. But is it an easy way to check up on something you are curious about? Yes. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been reading an article or book and thought “Hmm, what do they mean by this?” I can take a couple minutes, go to Wiki, and gain a little perspective. I think that is the essence of Wiki, quick access to more knowledge, which is something that I would never consider as a recipe for disaster.

SeventhSense's avatar

Exactly…It’s not like you’re heading over and typing, “How to build a nuclear reactor” but
nuclear fission Hey it’s all good.

SeventhSense's avatar

How many blatant errors have you found?

Sarcasm's avatar

I second @SeventhSense‘s question. I would like to see some examples from our two resident Wikipedia-dislikers, of how unreliable or erroneous Wikipedia is.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

I don’t have the inclination nor the time to fact check wiki.
My Fluthertime is leisure not academia.

SeventhSense's avatar

This is a great example and a perfect way to illustrate the influence of many people. This is a common theme that I’ve heard- “Wiki is unreliable because of the opportunity to edit and change information” and I imagine that like many ideas it just has a certain popular support and groundswell.

But here in this thread two persons alone have asked to challenge that assumption. This proves that errors are quickly addressed proving the efficacious and efficient use of knowledge should always be open.

SeventhSense's avatar

And how about open source software?
Ahhh I loves me Firefox
LOL and anyone who actually does find errors will be supporting the validity of the argument as well.

KhiaKarma's avatar

I agree with @SeventhSense that knowledge is largely based on trust. On Wikipedia, there are more eyes to spot untruths and manipulation of the information. Who says that the history in history books is truthful anyways? A few men in power were able to wirte how they think something happened or how they want people to remember it. Wikipedia lets “the collective” hold each individual posting the info. accountable.

You do have to use it wisely though.

SeventhSense's avatar

Good example. Look at the history books of 50 years ago. Much would be unrecognizable to day. Like Hegel said we are in a dialectic continuously Thesis—-> Antithesis—-> Synthesis.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

An encyclopedia is for holding factual data.A publication which claims to be inaccurate and makes no claims as to their accuracy cannot be considered an encyclopedia.Wiki can best be described as a forum or a repository of public information which may or may not be accurate.I don’t bother much with it because I don’t want to fact check everything said there.Those who cite Wiki as their source won’t be taken seriously.;)

The words of PT Barnum can be found on Wiki ;)

rangerr's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille Michael Scott never lies. What in the world are you talking about?

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@rangerr -Don’t see the humour in Micheal Scott’s character?That’s amusing
Wiki’s disclaimer?That’s even funnier ;)

SeventhSense's avatar

Information is fluid. Data is irrefutable if it’s based on formula

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@SeventhSense -Information is either factual or it isn’t.
Read Wiki’s disclaimer :)

Sarcasm's avatar

You’re saying that, because Wikipedia does not legally guarantee the correctness of its data, that clearly it must be generally invalid?

That’s like looking at a McDonald’s coffee cup, reading “Contents may be hot” and saying “This coffee will absolutely burn my mouth. It is never safe to drink.”

YARNLADY's avatar

The concept is good as long as the information is verified. I volunteer as an reference editor. It requires far more monitors than are available.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Sarcasm -There’s a big diffference between a hot coffee warning and bs disguised as fact.Go right ahead and quote Wiki all you want to ;)

YARNLADY's avatar

It’s subject to the same problem you see in government, people would much rather complain than actually do something to help solve the issues.

SeventhSense's avatar

And my offer still stands. Let’s see the huge gaping holes in some common subjects. It’s a more personal issue than anything. Yes of course it’s only one reference and to use it as the sole basis for a thesis is far from comprehensive but to dismiss it entirely is just snobbishness and probably have their source from the likes of Encyclopedia Britannica who have seen huge drops in sales.

In fact if you think there is one reference source for anything you’re delusional. There are no magic books.

Berserker's avatar

I think it’s a good starting point to learn about something you wanna know about, but I wouldn’t rely solely on it. It does have, usually, a list of references and links at the bottom of most articles that I’m usually more interested in.

SeventhSense's avatar

^ Yes good point. Like any reference material you always cross reference if the aim of the work is significant.

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