Friday, November 14, 2008

The Anti Wikipedia Resource

"Truth based on who edits last"

Wikipedia can be edited by anyone with an Internet connection, regardless of age, education or experience. The average person is completely unaware that what they may be reading on a Wikipedia page could be completely false or intentionally misleading. And the only way to verify the information posted to Wikipedia is to independently research the subject from a reputable source. Wikipedia is thus broken by design and "truth" is simply determined by who edits last.

The Truth According To Wikipedia (48 min)

The Cult of the Amateur (Andrew Keen, 2007)

The Faith-Based Encyclopedia (Robert McHenry, Former Editor in Chief, the Encyclopedia Britannica)
The Wikipedia FAQK (Wired)
The Wikification of Knowledge (John C. Dvorak, PC Mag)
Wikipedia: Stop citing our site (CNET News)

A Contributor to Wikipedia Has His Fictional Side (The New York Times)
- Bogus boy's departure puts trivia at risk (The Register)
- Fake Wikipedia prof altered 20,000 entries (The Daily Telegraph, UK)
- Wikipedia 'expert' lied about qualifications (The Inquirer)
- Wikipedia 'professor' is 24-year-old college dropout (The Daily Telegraph, UK)
A false Wikipedia 'biography' (USA Today)
- Snared in the Web of a Wikipedia Liar (Canada Free Press)
A History Department Bans Citing Wikipedia as a Research Source (The New York Times)
Appeals court smacks down judge for relying on Wikipedia (ArsTechnica)
- Asylum-Seeker Rejected Based On Wikipedia, Appeals Court Reverts (Wired)
Australian politicians 'doctor Wikipedia entries' (The Daily Telegraph, UK)
- Howard row over Wikipedia edits (BBC)
CIA, FBI computers used for Wikipedia edits (Reuters)
Congress caught making false entries in Wikipedia (CNET News)
Dutch Justice Ministry to Block 30,000 Workers From Using Wikipedia (FOX News)
Dutch Royals Caught Revising Wikipedia (FOX News)
Falling exam passes blamed on Wikipedia 'littered with inaccuracies' (The Scotsman, UK)
- Wackypedia blamed for Scotland's falling exam results (The Inquirer)
Insider Editing at Wikipedia (The New York Times)
- Wikipedia founder modifies his bio (CNET News)
Judges told repeatedly to stop using Wikipedia (ArsTechnica)
- No judicial notice for Wikipedia (ZDNet)
'Knight decorated for bravery' exposed as footsoldier in call centre's front line (The Time, UK)
- Meet The Real Sir Walter Mitty (Daily Record, UK)
- Mcilwraith Entry in Wikipedia (Daily Record, UK)
Left in Control of Wikipedia (NewsMax)
Online encyclopedia offline in China (USA Today)
- China Lifts Wikipedia Ban, but Some Topics Remain Blocked (The New York Times)
- Who Did What in China’s Past? Look It Up, or Maybe Not (The New York Times)
School officials unite in banning Wikipedia (The Seattle Times)
- Wikipedia more dangerous than crack (The Inquirer)
Seeing Corporate Fingerprints in Wikipedia Edits (The New York Times)
Wikipedia attacked by Nazis (The Inquirer)
- Website denigrates Wiesenthal (The Age, Australia)
Wikipedia ban for disruptive professor (The Guardian, UK)
Wikipedia banned from UCSC class (Vallejo Times Hearald)
Wikipedia brands Wikia as spam (Valleywag)
Wikipedia "broken beyond repair", co-founder says (The Inquirer)
Wikipedia Entry on Ken Lay Mighty Confused for 45 Minutes (FOX News)
Wikipedia Falsely Reports Sinbad's Death (The Washington Post)
Wikipedia founder admits to serious quality problems (The Register)
Wikipedia lambasted for plagiarism (The Inquirer)
Wikipedia used to spread malicious code (USA Today)
- Wikipedia gives you malware (The Inquirer)
Wikipedia 'Vandalism' Entry Vandalized (Information Week)
Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales in donations row (The Daily Telegraph, UK)
- More woes for Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales (The Age, Australia)
Wikiscanner reveals source of edits (Taipei Times)
"A UN computer is identified as the source of an edit that calls a respected Italian journalist a promiscuous racist, Wikiscanner also identified a BBC computer as being used to change US President George W. Bush's middle name from "Walker" to "Wanker." A computer belonging to Reuters news service is listed as adding "mass murderer" to a Wikipedia description of Bush."

Kid Friendly:

Erik Möller, No. 2 at Wikipedia, a defender of pedophilia (Valleywag)
- Wikipedia leader Erik Möller: "Children are pornography" (Valleywag)
- Wikipedia's porn-loving No. 2 and his abiding concern for the children (Valleywag)
- Wikipedia's Erik Möller on the history of child sexual abuse: All Greek to him! (Valleywag)
- Why Sue Gardner hired a pedophilia supporter to run Wikipedia (Valleywag)
Is Wikipedia wicked porn? (WorldNetDaily)
- Wikipedia debates kiddie porn action (WorldNetDaily)
- FBI investigates 'Wikipedophilia' (WorldNetDaily)
Violent threats on Wikipedia page went unchecked (Los Angeles Times)
Wikipedia publishes suicide instructions (WorldNetDaily)

Global Warming:

Wikipedia's Zealots (Financial Post, Canada)
- The Real Climate Martians (Financial Post, Canada)
- The Opinionator (Financial Post, Canada)
Wikipropaganda On Global Warming (CBS News)

Nature's Flawed Study:
Fatally Flawed: Refuting the recent study on encyclopedic accuracy by the journal Nature (PDF) (Britannica)
Nature's Flawed Study of Wikipedia's Quality (Nicholas Carr, M.A. English literature, Harvard University)
"It is not one of the peer-reviewed, expert-written research articles for which the journal is renowned. (UPDATE: I confirmed this with the article's author, Jim Giles. In an e-mail to me, he wrote, "The article appeared in the news section and is a piece of journalism, so it did not go through the normal peer review process that we use when considering academic papers.") Rather, it's a fairly short, staff-written piece based on an informal survey carried out by a group of Nature reporters."
Nature mag cooked Wikipedia study (The Register)
Wikipedia study 'fatally flawed' (BBC)

Web 2.0:
Web 2.0 Baloney (John C. Dvorak, PC Magazine)
The Web 2.0 Bullshit Generator
The Web 2.0 Company Name Generator

The Wikipedia Paradox

1. At the time that you are looking at a page how do you determine it's level of accuracy?

2. How do you determine if a page is "good editor" corrected or "bad editor" inaccurate?

3. Who decides who a "good editor" is? How are their qualifications determined?

4. What is the time frame for a "good editor" to correct a page and how is this time frame determined?

5. If more then one "good editor" wants to make completely different changes to a page who wins? Could it be the last one who edited it? But which is the truth?

6. If more then one person is "watching" a topic for changes and they both want to make completely different changes to a page who wins? Could it be the last one who edited it? But which is the truth?

7. Are there more expert or non-expert people with Internet connections on a certain subject that can edit that subject's Wikipedia page?

8. With no value assigned to level of expertise for editors per Wikipedia page how is the accuracy of the edits determined?

9. How is a "neutral point of view" determined on Wikipedia pages and who makes this decision? Could it be the person who edited it last? How is this a "neutral point of view"?

10. If Wikipedia is so accurate then why would anyone ever need to make corrections to it?


Nihiltres said...

1. At the time that you view a page, you check the references available for each non-obvious statement. If a statement has a reference, the authority of the reference is what matters. If it doesn't have a reference (and is non-obvious) you can choose to ignore it. I should note that it is harder to evaluate the reliability of many other publications, where sources will not necessarily be explicitly cited.

2. As above, by the references available. That's besides the obvious point, though, that people can tell when someone's not out to help and thereby being a "bad editor" as you put it.

3. Qualifications are not determined, as they can be faked, exaggerated, or irrelevant. Good editing involves simply being civil, following style guidelines, and contributing factual, reliably referenced information. These criteria are more immediately relevant than some presumed expertise, and are more easily evaluated.

4. There is no "time frame". Wikipedia articles are, as a collection, drafts subject to revision. When someone notices a mistake, they have the option to fix it, and, often enough, they do. Obvious vandalism is known to have historically been corrected within a mean time of four minutes.

5. Often these are multiple views on a greater "truth", each from a different perspective. Unless it devolves into a dispute (which is quite possible), the two "good editors" will discuss the issue and come up with a mutually-acceptable solution or compromise.

6. This question is fundamentally the same as the above.

7. Experts or non-expert involvement is irrelevant; if someone has enough of an understanding of the topic at hand to write a summary, and can attribute all the facts mentioned to authoritative sources, an expert is unnecessary. Often, however, experts do contribute.

8. As the accuracy of anything is determined: are there sources cited for the statement? Are those sources reliable?

9. A neutral point of view is the one which presents each point of view as the position of its proponents, identifying their rough relative importances objectively, and allows the reader to choose their own point of view from the arguments attributed to each party. While this can be difficult to achieve given the subtleties of relative weight in articles, it is feasible.

10. Simple: to update it. More seriously, Wikipedia doesn't claim it's perfect. Most people who understand the project well can tell you that it's merely a work-in-progress that's visible to the world and open to join. Whether it's produced good work so far or needs further revision seems somewhat irrelevant in the face of continuous revision. It can be noted that many exceptionally scholarly publications, including for example the Oxford English Dictionary, had their origins in public contributions of information. Why can't this be the same?

I must admit, I answered these questions in part simply to play devil's advocate, and I'm curious: what motivates you to attack Wikipedia so?

Andrew said...

1. How do you determine if a statement is non-obvious? Regarding references you still have to actually check the reference since what is posted can be different then what is on the referenced source. Thus you essentially have to waste extra time verifying everything on a a Wikipedia article. Essentially what you are saying is that you cannot trust anything on Wikipedia that you cannot verify word for word via another source. What is the point of Wikipedia then? Major publications have professional editorial control that severely limits the possibility of errors, especially major ones.

2. So you determine that a page is "bad editor" inaccurate by researching and verifying the whole Wikipedia article yourself. So what is the point of Wikipedia?

3. So no qualifications exist and a 5 year old can edit a Wikipedia article.

4. Can you please prove this. How do you know the changes are to "fix" an article? How is something determined that it needs to be "fixed", how is this not subjective? Meaningless time frames based on some small sample of pages and time frame cannot prove your point.

5. What if they are not multiple views of a greater truth and only one is true. What if they refuse to compromise and both believe only themselves to be true?

6. Actually it is not, this is about two random people not two "good editors" (one can be bad).

7. Who determines they have enough understanding? What if they think they have enough understanding but in reality do not.

8. Again it falls back on doing your own research to verify the article, which means effectively writing it yourself.

9. Saying it is "feasible" does not make it so. Who determines what a NPOV is?

10. The Oxford English Dictionary does not have contributers making revisions with limited education in the English language as is possible on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is a cruel joke played on the naive who do not understand how it really works or the possible irrelevance of anything on it at anytime.

SIG_SEGV said...

I find your arguments to be true. At the same time, I think Wikipedia never intended what we have now going on, nor were its creators out to deceive anyone. Like anything in life, only fools believe everything they hear.

Then again, how many other resources have pages on cooking shows, video games, and other topics you would never find in a normal encyclopedia?

Andrew said...

I made no claims about the intentions of the creators of Wikipedia. I do not believe they were out to intentionally deceive anyone either. Though by the design of Wikipedia, deception is always a possibility whether it was intended or not.

I also can see the usefulness of an encyclopedia for topics outside a normal encyclopedia. However the burden of proof does not change. The information on these pages are just as suspect and frequently inaccurate.

My concern is with how people blindly treat whatever is on Wikipedia as true and this will only become more of a problem as time goes on.

Gregory Kohs said...

You can always count on Nihiltres to leave his ding-dong, pro-Wikipedia comments every time there's a blog post critical of Wikipedia. He must be so full of JimboJuice, it hurts.

Vichton said...

Gregory Kohs: Personal attacks aren't going to get you anywhere. Answer his points, with logic, one by one.

For now, his reasoning stands, Kohs.

Andrew said...

Vichton, unless you are blind, I answered everyone of his "points" and he has no reasoning. It is sad that so many wikipedia fanboys failed basic logic.

Vichton said...

Andrew: Ah, I didn't see your reply - But I was mainly talking about Kohs's reply. Anyway...

1. There is no hard-and-fast rule, but an obvious statement would be like "New York City is in the United States" - really, I don't think it's that difficult to determine what is obvious and what isn't.
2. You said: 'So you determine that a page is "bad editor" inaccurate by researching and verifying the whole Wikipedia article yourself. So what is the point of Wikipedia?' - Well-traveled articles have many, many people scrutinizing the article itself, and usually the information posted per se is correct as it matches the references given.
3. You said: "3. So no qualifications exist and a 5 year old can edit a Wikipedia article." - On Wikipedia qualifications have little relevancy. It's about the information you post and how you handle yourself as an editor, not necessarily your "qualifications." People who get hung up on that sometimes try to fake them.
4. You said: "What if they are not multiple views of a greater truth and only one is true. What if they refuse to compromise and both believe only themselves to be true?" - Well, then things "escalate" - There are "Requests for comment" - Then "Requests for mediation" and "Requests for arbitration" in that order (there could be other steps I'm missing) - Also there are talk pages and project talk pages (talk pages having to do with a subject). As more people come, they are more likely to determine what is hard-and-fast true. This is easier to do than the more subjective disputes.
7. You said: "Who determines they have enough understanding? What if they think they have enough understanding but in reality do not." - That is determined by how the article is written. This is more of a problem with less traveled articles than highly-traveled articles, where there are so many people editing it. Part of why Wikipedia is popular is because of how many people are on it.
8. You said: "Saying it is "feasible" does not make it so. Who determines what a NPOV is?" - Jimbo Wales and the editors put down the basic guidelines; there's a whole page about it: - In specific cases it is the editor body that determines what "NPOV" means in a specific dispute. NPOV in and of itself is a non-negotiable policy.
9. You said: "The Oxford English Dictionary does not have contributers making revisions with limited education in the English language as is possible on Wikipedia." - First, people who contribute with little English knowledge get their contributions fixed by others. Second, Wikipedia has a dictionary collary - Wiktionary.

Anyway, I pity schoolchildren who use Wikipedia as a source on projects; what they really should do is use the references section. Yet Wikipedia works as a clearinghouse (constantly viewed and revised articles tend to be better than not-well-traveled articles) - I must also add that it is becoming such a part of the internet culture that it is far too late to advocate that people not use it.

I think this magazine article is very interesting: - It's from a Harvard alumni magazine - This has to do with the "too late" bit.

Then you have the journal Nature, which reviewed Brittanica and Wikipedia - In 2005 the journal Nature chose some random scientific entries from both encyclopedias and found the same error rate! - So, if Wikipedia is not to be relied on school papers, while I would maybe quote Brittanica once or twice, generally any encyclopedia is no good to rely on.

Gregory Kohs said...

First of all, "Vichton Mann" is another pseudonym. Someone with no courage to personally stand behind their convictions, but perfectly willing to criticize others who back their beliefs with their identity.

Second of all, if "Vichton" is citing the flawed and biased "Nature" study of Britannica vs. Wikipedia, then he's just as delusional as Nihiltres.

Vichton, get thee to some actual data and learn a few things before you return here.

To sum up those links:

Wikipedia's articles about the 100 U.S. senators are wrong 6.8% of the time. The Nature "study" did not comply with scientific method. And, Wikipedia is getting progressively worse, not better.

Vichton said...

Hi, Kohs.

If you think that one needs courage in order to properly present a case for beliefs, then courage is a bad thing and should be jettisoned. If you have heard of the Japanese forum 2channel, everything is anonymous over there. Hiroyuki Nishimura explains why anonymity is right:
* "If there is a user ID attached to a user, a discussion tends to become a criticizing game. On the other hand, under the anonymous system, even though your opinion/information is criticized, you don't know with whom to be upset. Also with a user ID, those who participate in the site for a long time tend to have authority, and it becomes difficult for a user to disagree with them. Under a perfectly anonymous system, you can say, "it's boring," if it is actually boring. All information is treated equally; only an accurate argument will work."

You said: "Second of all, if "Vichton" is citing the flawed and biased "Nature" study of Britannica vs. Wikipedia, then he's just as delusional as Nihiltres."

So, you tell me how it is flawed and biased. Especially since an academic journal did it (since you like authority, I thought an academic journal would give enough of that) - - In terms of authority, it's you versus Nature. As long as you give a convincing rationale, you could win.

Now, let's look at your other sources:
* 1. It's actually quite validating that, of all people, the U.S. Senate tries to meddle its way. I said "tries."
* 2. Look, we know Brittanica has criticized Wikipedia. However, I'm glad you found that (no sarcasm) - It's not surprising that Brittanica would respond, but anyway, I would like to see if Nature made a counter-response or if third parties did. I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case.

The Chance link studies end at 2006. I'll get a look at it, but to say things are getting *worse* as of 2008 when the latest data we have ends at 2006 requires data from 2008.

Now, Kohs, regarding 6.8% the one thing that would have been factual in your quote would have been to use "were," not are. 2006 was two years ago.

Vichton said...

EDIT: I see - So you used the Brittanica page as rationale for why Wikipedia is flawed. It might have helped to summarize things considering leaving an entire document without providing commentary or quoting relevant parts is like blindfolding a man and leaving him in the woods and expecting him to find his way.

And, yes, the person who makes Claim A is responsible for defending Claim A.

Andrew said...


1. There is NO rule to determine if a statement is "non-obvious" since this is purely subjective based on the person reading and thus propaganda used to justify wikipedia.

2. Please irrefutably prove that the information is usually correct.

3. Again, so a five year old can edit a Wikipedia page.

4. So what winds up on the page? The real truth or the "truth" of who edited last?

7. You cannot prove this is a not a problem. You just believe it to not be. Again, Who determines they have enough understanding? How does a volume of idiots looking at a page make it more true?

8. I didn't ask you what Jimbo said, I asked who determines what a NPOV is? Who is the judge? Who is the editor in charge?

9. How do you know the others who fix it understand the English language. Having a Wikidictionary based on the same broken system is absolutely irrelevant.

Please prove that constantly viewed articles are more accurate, unbiased and thus "true".

Do not post the propaganda Nature study again which has been refuted in my article. If you are not going to read my article and instead simply wish to spam my comments to blindly defend Wikipedia your comments will be removed. I am not going to ask again.

Andrew said...

First of all Vichton, don't bullshit me you didn't see my reply but saw nihiltres. That is just total nonsense.

Second, don't spam my comments.

Third, CNN claiming a study was peer-reviewed does not make it so.

Fourth, Nature's response is a joke and does not contradict any of the points that Britannica made.

I have clearly refuted the Nature study in the The Anti-Wikipedia Resource. Your propaganda comments have been removed this is not Wikipedia. Do not spam my comments again.

Gregory Kohs said...

Once again, we see why REAL-NAME dialogue is important for rational discussion, because the PSEUDONYMS have liberty at any time to descend into nonsense claims, because their real-world reputation is in no way tarnished.

This is why the new non-profit organization I am founding, the Internet Review Corporation, requires of its board members REAL-NAME disclosure.

Frankly, I may have to begin a new policy to never engage in debate with Internet pseudonyms. Ultimately, they add nothing to our knowledge of the world.

David said...

user beware applies to everything, wikipedia is no exception.

Caveat emptor

Tucci said...

Without explicitly saying so, the arrogant Mr. Keen speaks in favor of "filters against folly" supposedly provided by the old media.

Such filters - by means of the consideration of knowledgeable individuals prior to the promulgation of information sources - have their value, but there is the inescapable fact that these filters are operated by human beings who are subject not only to failures of knowledge but also inescapable prejudices.

Mr. Keen's meritocratic view is as bankrupt as is his socialist political position.

Those of us experienced in the sciences understand full well that the most experienced, knowledgeable, and widely respected individual can be - indeed, commonly finds himself - thoroughly, catastrophically, and completely wrong.

The problem with Mr. Keen's argument is that, first to last, it is argumentum ad verecundiam - the classic logical error of appeal to authority.

Mr. Keen values the personal qualities of the claimant rather than the intrinsic validity of the specific claim under consideration.

This is not a matter of "truth" or "truthiness," but rather solid intellectual integrity in the form of correlation between abstract concepts and objective reality.

Hm. No wonder Mr. Keen expresses such hatred of Ayn Rand. She would've rolled over him and left nothing behind but a foul-smelling grease spot in her wake.

Andrew said...

The irony of your argument is that you clearly accept Ayn Rand as an authority that you are appealing to. While I agree that Mr. Keen did make one mistake in his argument by going after libertarianism because I fail to see where libertarians do not support the knowledgeable over the ignorant.

The problems I have had with Wikipedia is not that it tends to allow all voices to be heard (both sides) is there is consistent censorship by those who want only their side to be heard. Thus truth based on who edits last.