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Editing Wikipedia

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MGM·Lion 15 Jul 11 - 04:41 AM
Michael 15 Jul 11 - 06:02 AM
autolycus 15 Jul 11 - 06:13 AM
Brakn 15 Jul 11 - 06:13 AM
MGM·Lion 15 Jul 11 - 06:38 AM
Greg F. 15 Jul 11 - 08:44 AM
GUEST,Lighter 15 Jul 11 - 09:06 AM
GUEST,Grishka 15 Jul 11 - 09:35 AM
autolycus 15 Jul 11 - 12:37 PM
GUEST,Lighter 15 Jul 11 - 02:18 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 15 Jul 11 - 02:32 PM
autolycus 15 Jul 11 - 02:55 PM
Brakn 15 Jul 11 - 03:19 PM
GUEST,Grishka 15 Jul 11 - 04:12 PM
Greg F. 15 Jul 11 - 04:22 PM
GUEST,Lighter 15 Jul 11 - 05:11 PM
Greg F. 15 Jul 11 - 05:30 PM
GUEST,Grishka 16 Jul 11 - 04:24 PM
Jim Dixon 16 Jul 11 - 05:04 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jul 11 - 02:16 AM
autolycus 17 Jul 11 - 05:51 AM
autolycus 17 Jul 11 - 05:55 AM
autolycus 17 Jul 11 - 05:57 AM
GUEST,Grishka 17 Jul 11 - 09:33 AM
Greg F. 17 Jul 11 - 11:21 AM
autolycus 19 Jul 11 - 06:33 AM
GUEST,Lighter 19 Jul 11 - 08:43 AM
Greg F. 19 Jul 11 - 09:20 AM
GUEST,Lighter 19 Jul 11 - 11:27 AM
Greg F. 19 Jul 11 - 12:50 PM
GUEST,Grishka 19 Jul 11 - 04:50 PM
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Subject: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 04:41 AM

There are several errors in the Wiki entry on Peter Bellamy ~ one that I particularly feel aggrieved by is that it attributes to his obit in The Guardian, which I wrote, a quote from the one in The Independent, which Karl Dallas wrote. Not earth-shattering, but for obvious reasons an irritation to me.

That is not, however, directly what I am writing about. My point is, that I have more than once "edited" the errors I have found, following the instructions given; only to discover, on logging on to the entry again, that nothing has altered and my emendations have not 'taken'.

Out of interest, has anyone else on here ever tried to edit a Wiki entry? And, if so, with what success?

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: Michael
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 06:02 AM

Hi Michael
I edited a Wiki entry some time ago, not being particularly computer savvy I just followed the instructions and it worked. I've just been back to check and my edit is still there (requesting a citation).

So whilst that may not be of much help it does show that it can work.

Mike


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: autolycus
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 06:13 AM

I have had the same experience as Mike.


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: Brakn
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 06:13 AM

I often edit stuff on wiki and as long as you can state a source for your info it'll be acepted. (Even a web page can be a source - even if it's totally wrong)


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 06:38 AM

Thanks, guys. I must psych myself up to try again ~~ sometime ~~ mebbe...


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: Greg F.
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 08:44 AM

Gee, ya mean Blog-O-Pedia has errors? that its WRONG?

Impossible! Shocking!


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 09:06 AM

I've edited a few. It was sometimes a little tricky, but I never had to try more than twice.

But prepare yourself. I once rewrote a section on a certain topic (not, I think, one that's been discussed on Mudcat, or that is of much interest to a non-academic) to provide a certain balance and perspective: within twenty-four hours my edit was gone and the original tendentious version was back - without discussion.

After it happened again, I gave up. I have better things to do with my life. Now, at odd moments, I just tidy things up here and there.

Wikipedia: use at your own risk.


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 09:35 AM

Very often Wikipedia editors tacitly reject submissions because they deem the proof (formally) deficient, or for stylistic reasons. Click the "Discussion"->"Edit" tabs and add your knowledge there, with as much proof (printed books, primary homepages) as you can get.

I often find valuable information in the "Discussion" pages. They get edited as well, but not as strictly.


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: autolycus
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 12:37 PM

"Wikipedia: use at your own risk. "

I did read that wiki has about the same percentage of error as published encyclos - about 10%. And Harvey Einbinder tore into Britannica nearlt 50 years ago. Britannica had been taken as gospel for ever. Einbinder showed just how deficient it was.

It's why decent books have a fair-sized bibliography - you must not rely on one source; it's bad research to do that.

Especially as you can prove anything from just one source.

Wiki at least has the merit of constant, relentless daily editing.


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 02:18 PM

> wiki has about the same percentage of error as published encyclos -about 10%.

Perhaps. But as anyone can change or add anything at any time, there will be a disproportionate amount of error (not to mention fraud) in precisely those articles that attract the most attention - often those on the most controversial and current topics.

It's hard to measure "percentage of error" anyway, especially once you move away from the purely factual (for example, what holiday is celebrated on Dec. 25). To take a hypothetical ex. (not in Wikipedia) is it true that Columbus "discovered" "America"? Well, yes and no, and judging that kind of statement without qualification as either "error" or "non-error" depends on your own bias. Or you might just not care at that point and try to ignore it.

Moreover, some errors have farther-reaching consequences than others, so the "quality" of the misinformation may be even more significant than its quantity.


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 02:32 PM

I often look at Wikipedia, but as a 'first source' since it is not peer reviewed. If the subject is of real interest to me, I then proceed to other sources.

I have not yet tried to edit a Wiki article, although I have been tempted.


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: autolycus
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 02:55 PM

"It's hard to measure "percentage of error" anyway, especially once you move away from the purely factual (for example, what holiday is celebrated on Dec. 25). To take a hypothetical ex. (not in Wikipedia) is it true that Columbus "discovered" "America"? Well, yes and no, and judging that kind of statement without qualification as either "error" or "non-error" depends on your own bias. Or you might just not care at that point and try to ignore it."


That sort of problem isn't one confined to Wiki.


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: Brakn
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 03:19 PM

I got an award from Wiki for sorting out John Lennon's family tree - proving that all the authors who had written about him had not done their research! I also got abuse from some because I had proved them wrong.

I certainly wouldn't believe all that is written on Wiki - just look at the Spancil Hill page and you will see that it doesn't make sense - anyone can put up anything they like as long as nobody challenges it.

BTW I have to smile when it's obvious that "celebrities" have put up pages on themselves - they always knock a couple of years off their age.


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 04:12 PM

Of course Columbus discovered America - he didn't know it before, did he?

The American who first discovered Columbus made a bad discovery, according to Lichtenberg.


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: Greg F.
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 04:22 PM

I did read that wiki has about the same percentage of error as published encyclos

1. WHERE did you read that?

2. WHAT does the "about" translate to?

2. WHO checked all the encyclopedias to establish the 10% error rate?(Just English language ones, or ALL encyclopedias, by the way?)

3. WHO checked all of Blog-O-Pedia to confirm the error rate there and WHEN did they check it? Do they check it daily, as it changes?

Wiki at least has the merit of constant, relentless daily editing.

By persons who may know nothing about the subject they're "editing" and who can make up anything they want, or slant the content however they wish. Great Comfort.

Once again: Wikipedia: use at your own risk.


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 05:11 PM

A summary of a widely reported article published on this subject in "Nature" in 2005:

http://news.cnet.com/2100-1038_3-5997332.html


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: Greg F.
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 05:30 PM

From the news article cited:

"The (Nature) article is saying that Wikipedia has a third more errors" than Britannica, said Jorge Cauz, president of Encyclopedia Britannica.

But Cauz and editor in chief Dale Hoiberg also said they were concerned that Nature had not specified the problems that it had found in Britannica.

"We've asked them a number of questions about the process they used," Hoiberg said. "They said in (their article) that the inaccuracies included errors, omissions and misleading statements. But there's no indication of how many of each. So we're very eager to look at that and explore it because we take it very seriously."


And that was six years ago. More information needed.


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 16 Jul 11 - 04:24 PM

Many errors in Wikipedia have been copied from EB or Nature, and vice versa.

The worst errors are those that are copied into hundreds and thousands of different "sources", in print and on the net. A truly horrid example is the well-known song "You'll Have to Swing It" by Sam Coslow; we clearly hear:
Mr. Paganini
We breathlessly await your masterful baton,
Go on and sling it
which also makes perfect sense, because the gentleman (recte Toscanini) is a conductor. If you google "your masterful baton", you get 260 hits alright.

But
"your masterful détente"
gets 1200 hits, all referring to that song! Yes, both words are French, but Ella's contempraries surely have to know what détente means, and that it is "conducted" in a different manner. (Also, Ella has a flawless pronunciation.)

Mon Dieu!


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 16 Jul 11 - 05:04 PM

When Google tells you it gets "About xxx results" you need to take that number with a grain of salt, especially if the number is large. I think it's some kind of estimate based on the frequency of the words that make up the phrase, not on an actual count.

For example, I just Googled "your masterful baton" (in quotes). It told me "About 301 results." At 10 results per page, that should be 31 pages. However at the bottom of the screen, it only lists pages 1 through 8. If you click on 8, to see the last page, it shows you "Page 5 of 48 results." Now only pages 1 through 5 are shown at the bottom of the page. I believe 48 is the correct count. If you click "repeat the search with the omitted results included" and then go to the last page, it is "Page 10 of 91 results."


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 02:16 AM

"I did read that wiki has about the same percentage of error as published encyclos - about 10%. And Harvey Einbinder tore into Britannica nearlt 50 years ago. Britannica had been taken as gospel for ever. Einbinder showed just how deficient it was." autolycus
======
I very recently [but cannot - you know how it is - recall precisely where] read a denial of these figures, which had been quoted somewhere, from a Britannica executive, disputing the accuracy of Einbinder's figures and methodology.

~M~


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: autolycus
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 05:51 AM

A denial + " disputing the accuracy of Einbinder's figures and methodology" is a bit predictable and thin.

Meantime,
here's Nature's rebuttal


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: autolycus
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 05:55 AM

And here's a link to lists of errors in publ;ished reference books


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: autolycus
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 05:57 AM

tho' they do seem o be mostly about biographical information.


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 09:33 AM

Jim, you're right. I normally find the number given initially to be exaggerated, but a reasonably useful guide when comparing one to the other.

Five minutes ago, I leafed through both of my searches to the end, and found the actual relation of correct:wrong to be 48:64 resp. 91:126. Still deplorable, given that the error would be so easy to correct for anyone.

My point is that if we cannot trust any single source, we cannot trust the majority either.


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: Greg F.
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 11:21 AM

A search engine, Jim, is not a "source", particularly "Google" the way it is set up to work..

if we cannot trust any single source, we cannot trust the majority either.

Sophistry.


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: autolycus
Date: 19 Jul 11 - 06:33 AM

"My point is that if we cannot trust any single source, we cannot trust the majority either."

You can never trust any one source totally [except me, of course]. That is true.[ Which is why in any self-respecting book, there's usually a bibliography, some of which can be very long. You have to consult widely to produce a book that's going to have value.]

However it doesn't follow that you cannot trust any source in any way.

A part of a researcher's work is to know HOW to use sources of information. Thus non-professionals like some of us are at a disadvantage because we haven't leaarny how to evaluate sources, which is the crux of the matter.

However you can trust some sources pretty much - like documentary records on Public Record Offices. And anything which has been peer-read should be relatively free of error.


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 19 Jul 11 - 08:43 AM

I find both Britannica's objections (as reported by Nature) and Nature's defense to be somewhat disingenuous. Both make me queasy, becauase even these highly respected sources (or should I say "PR releases from both...") now sound as though they're more interested in defending themselves than in ascertaining the "facts."

"Facts" are in quotation marks because, as I said before, the nature of the subject (how many errors are there?) is unavoidably slippery, and carries what could be a significant margin of error. And the sheer number (or proportion) of errors may be less important than the significance and consequences of certain kinds of errors. (The accurate determination of whether Mendeleev was the 13th, 14th, or 17th child, for example, seems to be far less significant, for example, than an accurate discussion of, say, Evolution vs. Creationism.)

One glaring example of the Nature writer's naivete' is in the following statement, which Nature stands by: "Wikipedia comes close to Britannica in terms of the accuracy of its science entries."

This, of course, is the gist of the entire study. Nature goes on to say, "Given that our reviewers identified an average of four errors in each Wikipedia article and three in each Britannica article, we feel that the phrase 'comes close' is a reasonable description of our results."

"Reasonable"? Perhaps. But also misleading. Nature is saying that, on average, a Wikipedia science article is likely to contain one-third more errors than a Britannica article! That sounds like a lot to me!

And remember, these are science articles, and scientists (unless their work is being subverted by Wiki trolls and amateurs) are extraordinarily careful about facts. So it is reasonable to suspect that the error rate in non-science articles (which the study seemed not to address) is far higher. And, again, the potential significance of the errors is not addressed.

If Nature has accurately characterized Britannica's response, B. is just as guilty of trying to score debating points, which means, in essence, appealing to the media.

Just consider: who writes for Britannica and other standard reference books? Who writes for Wikipedia?

Major encyclopedias usually identify their contributors with brief biographies, so readers can get an inkling of what they might know about the articles they were chosen to contribute to.

But contributors to Wikipedia?....


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: Greg F.
Date: 19 Jul 11 - 09:20 AM

As was previously stated:

Blog-O-Pedia: use at your own risk.


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 19 Jul 11 - 11:27 AM

That sums it up.


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: Greg F.
Date: 19 Jul 11 - 12:50 PM

Major encyclopedias usually identify their contributors with brief biographies, so readers can get an inkling of what they might know about the articles they were chosen to contribute to.

But contributors to Wikipedia?....


I imagine, Lighter, that a dog could contribute to Blog-O-Pedia, assuming he or she learned how to use a keyboard,or used speech-to-text conversion software.


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Subject: RE: BS: Editing Wikipedia
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 19 Jul 11 - 04:50 PM

When I wrote
My point is that if we cannot trust any single source, we cannot trust the majority either.
- my stab at aphoristic speech obviously went amiss.

In prose: when we are researching about a topic for which we have no single source that we believe trustworthy, we may be tempted to consult all available sources and follow the majority of them. This strategy is not too bad, but it can fail, as my example of the "You'll Have to Swing It" lyrics (16 Jul 11 - 04:24 PM) demonstrates.

For this demonstration I used Google for counting correct and wrong sources, not as a source by itself. Jim Dixon (16 Jul 11 - 05:04 PM) argued that my method was too sloppy, so I refined it.

But nevertheless, we can make reasonable sure of some facts without trusting any single source entirely. Assume we have a number of sources, then we must try to judge:
  • Is the article written in a style suggestive of either first-hand knowledge or profound research?

  • Does the author claim to be sure?

  • Would the author or publisher suffer a substantial loss of reputation when publicly proved wrong?

  • Is there any hint that one has copied from the other? Equal wording, equal mistakes in other respects, equal ideological orientation etc.

  • If a source can be presumed to have a particular interest or tendency, which sort of inaccuracy would it benefit from?
etc.

Many independent sources help a lot indeed.


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