Wikipediaism

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by gonzo, Jan 10, 2011.

  1. cthippo
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    cthippo Senior Member

    Unless you're sourcing something for a scientific paper, wiki is good enough. It also tends to usually be written in a manner most of us can understand, which is often not true for the more respected sources.
     
  2. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    I think that living with erroneous information is bad, even if you are not writing a scientific paper. You may be basing your vote on it, which is worse.
     
  3. Ad Hoc
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    Ad Hoc Naval Architect

    This is probably true for several reasons:

    1) The person searching, is not qualified. This means they have no research books/data of their own to quote from or use to support their argument. It also, usually, means that their depth of knowledge on the subject is rather scant too, when compared to those that do "this" day in day out. As such they go for the easy route.

    2) Being "not qualified" means this would highlight errors in their reasoning/facts...most people don't like to be told they don't know what they are talking about, despite their own protestations. Thus being able to "quote" from what they consider a reliable useful resource in their eyes gives them brownie points or kudos to those they are debating with.

    3) Because they are not qualified/formally trained in the subject that said person is debating in, they have no idea what is correct, what is suspect, and what is incorrect on sites like Wiki. (This usually creates friction, since to the Wiki-quoter, it is there on a computer, ergo it MUST be right)

    4) So not knowing what is what and being probably lazy as said person wants to "shut up" the poster ridiculing their lack of knowledge, Wiki comes up first in the web hits ergo, they use Wiki, quick and convenient. Kudos intact!

    I do agree though it does contain interesting/useful very basic data/info. However, since the source of the info/data is questionable, it must be treated with caution. Additionally, as any good researcher does, find another independent source that supports the data that Wiki is "claiming". The more independent sources one has the more valid the data/info. Preferably from an authoritative source in the subject matter to begin with.
     
  4. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    There's a huge difference here. The errors reported on Britannica are syntax, grammatical and general usage issues, while Wikipedia is often filled with "position papers" from contributors with an agenda, that's better served on the Op Ed pages of the paper. It's one thing to have minor errors and/or omissions and entirely another, to tolerate disinformation from every possible angle, to serve a completely different purpose, typically a self serving one.
     
  5. bntii
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    bntii Senior Member

    Wikipedia is filled with volumes of reliable, accessible information on a wide variety of topics. There are issues that are so contentious however that no source is available that would be deemed as "authoritative" if it disagrees with ones ideals.

    Just use caution if you are sampling the water where it runs fast...

    In other areas, the waters fine; jump in:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basalt
     
  6. variverrunner
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    variverrunner Junior Member

    Gonzo et al.

    I personally think Wikipedia is very useful and believe Our world is better for it.

    Where else can you go to get FREE general information with a few key strokes?

    I have several set of encyclopedias, including Encyclopedia Britannica and probably use them most days. It is interesting how out dated they become so quickly.
    My two cents is that Wiki has a large advantage in that it is being constantly updated.

    Everyone should understand and accept it for what it is and isn’t.

    I think most of us are beyond trusting something just because it was written.

    Allan
     
  7. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Unfortunately for free (capitalizing means you are screaming at me), you usually get what you paid for. I work on the marine industry, and books, magazines and software I pay for is worth every penny. The library, paid by our taxes, also has a lot of information.
     
  8. variverrunner
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    variverrunner Junior Member

    Gonzo,

    I think you might be a bit overly touchy about the capitalization of a single word in a post. I capitalized the world “Free” for emphasis.

    Why on earth would you infer that I was screaming at you? I surely was not.

    My main point is that Wiki is free and is constantly updated. Encyclopedias are not. I am a booky and have a library of properly more than 3,500 books. I think my library is a luxury and I consider myself very fortunate to be able to afford it. Many people can’t.

    Books are constantly being out dated and are written by people with a single point of view. When I first heard about Wiki, the idea struck me a stupid. Ten years later, I have to admit I think their idea works amazingly well.

    My personal opinion is that the internet and all of its facets has hugely improved communication and our ability to learn from one another. I think it is a great thing.

    Take care,

    Allan
     
  9. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Capitalization is internet standard for screaming. If that is not what you meant it's cool. There are online encyclopedias that are updated. For example, the Britannica. I am not saying that wikipedia is useless, but that too many people rely on it as a single source of all information.
     
  10. kroberts
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    kroberts Senior Member

    Frankly I find the fact of so many people stereotyping wikipedia users as being not very careful or being too lazy is at least as irritating as those who believe the data they find there just because it's there.

    Wikipedia has been a pet project of mine for years. I have never contributed, but I have commented on articles where I thought there were errors. My project is reading what I read there, and then validating that information through other sources.

    Wikipedia is what it is. Just like society, you get all sorts of people saying all sorts of things. How many people use boatdesign.net as their authoritative information about boats? How is that any better than using wikipedia?

    Some of the information on wikipedia (or absolutely any other public forum which does not require reliable authentication of its users) is worse than worthless, it's deliberate misinformation. Other articles appear to be scholarly work in every way except that the author of the article is essentially unknown and the changes by others are allowed.

    What wikipedia is:
    1. A really good place to start if you have no idea where to start. You can find keywords, site references, book references and all sorts of good stuff.
    2. Peer reviewed, which holds a lot of water in my book even if the peers aren't always very reliable. There are a LOT of peers.
    3. A pretty good place to find out about things you are only casually interested in. For example, if somebody uses a word and does not know that word in the context of some field of study or industry. Dictionaries don't always have anything relevant but often a wikipedia article will tie just enough information together to make the light bulb come on.
    4. Free access with instant gratification. If you don't have access to a university connection, or some for-pay site which specializes in whatever idea you're researching, this is huge even if you consider all the problems associated with wikipedia.

    What wikipedia is not:
    1. The last word in anything at all.
    2. The place to get information on which you will bet your family fortune.
    3. The bubbling stew of misinformation that most academics I know seem to think it is.

    What academia is not:
    1. Any more reliable than wikipedia is on some topics. For example, tell me where I can get an unbiased, honest and reliable account on global warming. I'm NOT trying to start that crap up in this thread, only pointing out a relatively high interest topic for which there is no publicly available information which is not heavily biased.
    2. Devoid of influence of private interests or political bias.
    3. The only place where one can attain knowledge.

    I started college in 1984. I went for computer science, and I'm still a programmer. When I was in school I drank the kool-aid they gave me, bought it hook line and sinker. It never occurred to me that there could be anything but truth in the books or the lectures.

    That lasted until I got into the real world. I found that my professors spewed political rhetoric or pushed the technologies of whatever commercial interest happened to be giving them money. I don't think academia is any less susceptible to bias or misinformation than anyone else.

    Turn the clock forward until today, and a stunning amount of what I was taught to be absolute irrefutable truth is now proven to be false. Some topics, like the viability of virtual machines, common current practice proves what was taught to be worst-case scenario back in college is actually a very cost-effective and desirable practice.

    The only rational approach to accessing absolutely ANY information is to assume that some or all of it is wrong. The only thing that keeps anyone honest is peer review, and not just peer review but review by peers of widely diverse background.

    That thing, widely diverse peer review, is present at wikipedia. I think it makes up for a lot. As well, I don't think it's very hard to tell which articles have some hope of being accurate. The ones that are pure speculation are certainly easy enough to spot.
     
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  11. TeddyDiver
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    TeddyDiver Gollywobbler

    Actually both of them.. :) but using dis was a typo..

    Agree with kroberts..
     
  12. Frosty

    Frosty Previous Member

    The whole world is full of erroneous information,even information from my doctor is thouroughly investigated before I take the pills he gave me.

    Couldnt do that 20 years ago.

    I would do the same for anything I was not sure about. Wikipedia is a start but not necessarliy the end, where that is is up to you and wether you require accurate information or just a rough idea.
     
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  13. bntii
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    bntii Senior Member

    What strikes me about this thread is that there is enough lay debate that the nature of 'authoritative sources' carries real interest.
    If I were better learned I suppose I would see this as no new thing though the origins of The Guinness Book of World Records rattles through the mind as an older corollary.

    What did pub crawlers do in ages past when debating issues of the day?
    Maybe there is a Wikipedia page about it..



    "Mary luv, Mary. Tell us, who did the Albanians invade in 1823?"

    "Why the Syrians you dolt"


    "Ha- I told ya Joe you dumb sod, now order us up another..."
     
  14. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    Kroberts: your position is about the same as mine. I think that using the first thing you find to prove your point is lazy thinking. It makes me really frustrated that what is supposed to be science education is mainly memorizing. Research, honest research, is the only thing that produces good science.
     

  15. bntii
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    bntii Senior Member

    True enough but the plain truth is that the vast majority of informal internet debate is not research.
    Most discussions do not rise much above what is simply the vocabulary, established science and historical facts well known to more formally and rigorously trained.

    Wikipedia is well used if cited to illustrate such established paradigms and facts.

    A science education initially IS primarily memorization and study of the disciplines known components by necessity.
    There is a great deal to learn about what is know before one can begin test the unknowns.

    In one small part of one of my aquatic biology courses I had to memorize some 60 stream invertebrates.
    The habitat, taxonomy, structures, and the larval stages and structures for each and every one.
    Following we learned how these animals related to their environment and how changes to that environment effected each.

    When we had a firm grasp of the known we could start to discus those missing parts of the disciplines understanding of these systems.

    If you change the streams velocity what will the effect be?
    Some animals live in the boundary layer on a streams bottom.
    What? What animals? What's a boundary layer? How do you quantify it. Better stop off and get some physics,chemistry and calculus, fluid dynamics etc..
    There is plenty to learn when you start.
     
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