Can you trust Wikipedia?

The Guardian asks whether the content in Wikipedia is worth all that much, and gets some experts to judge some entries.

The founder of the online encyclopedia written and edited by its users has admitted some of its entries are ‘a horrific embarrassment’.

To be honest, I would never dream of using Wikipedia as a serious research tool. If I want a very quick rundown on something, though, it’s fine. Would be interested to find where Jimmy Wales mentioned this ‘horrific embarrassment’!

edit: Aha! The article than began all this was by Nicholas Carr, titled The amorality of Web 2.0. Wales then responds:

I don’t agree with much of this critique, and I certainly do not share
the attitude that Wikipedia is better than Britannica merely because it
is free. It is my intention that we aim at Britannica-or-better
quality, period, free or non-free. We should strive to be the best.

But the two examples he puts forward are, quite frankly, a horrific
embarassment. [[Bill Gates]] and [[Jane Fonda]] are nearly unreadable crap.

Why? What can we do about it?

So there we have it…unless we let Andrew Orlowski have his usual rant against ‘Wiki-fiddlers’, in the Register:

Encouraging signs from the Wikipedia project, where co-founder and überpedian Jimmy Wales has acknowledged there are real quality problems with the online work.

Criticism of the project from within the inner sanctum has been very rare so far, although fellow co-founder Larry Sanger, who is no longer associated with the project, pleaded with the management to improve its content by befriending, and not alienating, established sources of expertise. (i.e., people who know what they’re talking about.)

Meanwhile, criticism from outside the Wikipedia camp has been rebuffed with a ferocious blend of irrationality and vigor that’s almost unprecedented in our experience: if you thought Apple, Amiga, Mozilla or OS/2 fans were er, … passionate, you haven’t met a wiki-fiddler. For them, it’s a religious crusade.

2 thoughts on “Can you trust Wikipedia?”

  1. True. Orlowski is undoubtably an arse, but surely no post mentioning criticisms of Wikpedia is complete without reference to at least one his rants.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment, Thomas!

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