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Wikipedia and You

PolityPolity Registered User regular
edited November 2007 in Debate and/or Discourse
Hi everybody; I'm relatively new to this forum (personal first, though yes I've been lurking). I attended a lecture last week at the university I attend that I think would go over well here. A history professor of some repute (Marshall Poe, if you're interested) gave a decent lecture about whether Wikipedia was the new up-and-coming brilliant tool for furthering education in a more democratic and fun way than The Educational System is doing, or a "Triumph of Amateurs," destroying accountability, research, and integrity. Being a college-aged Internet addict, I found it particularly interesting and dragged my girlfriend along to see the show. I left pretty excited about the whole project and way more knowledgeable than I had been, which I guess was the whole point of the lecture.

Anyway.

My question to you is this: Is it worth all the hulabaloo? Are standards being lowered/demolished/affected? What role, if any, should Wikipedia play in an academic environment? Schools are starting to disallow Wikipedia citations in papers and publications, which to my mind is rather silly and misses the point entirely - as somebody (I don't remember who) said, you're in college now - you shouldn't be citing the encyclopedia anyway. I'm not ashamed to admit that I use the hell out of it in the academic work I do - it works as a phenomenal starting point to guide research or whatever, and provides the added benefit of endless side-linking and cross-referencing as well as a robust set of citations (usually) for whatever topics I care to peruse. But am I cheating the system? Should we be using this tool or frowning on its inaccuracies, its biases (both presumably being worked on on a consistent basis), the fact that any wonko can log on and alter the article I'm reading about ancient Greece or whatever? It's an interesting topic, for your consideration.

~Paul~

Polity on
«134

Posts

  • Moe FwackyMoe Fwacky Right Here, Right Now Drives a BuickModerator mod
    edited October 2007
    When doing research, I only use Wikipedia to find what sources were used to write the article. Then, I check those sources to see if they're reliable and relevant. It's a good starting point to direct me in the right direction. As for the information on Wikipedia itself, sometimes it needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

    Moe Fwacky on
    E6LkoFK.png

  • ForarForar #432 Toronto, Ontario, CanadaRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I rarely use Wikipedia itself as a source, but agree with utilizing it as a potential source of sources.

    Most of my time there is looking up things like Firefly or random character references I see in posts. I don't really care if the information about Wolverine's backstory or Batman's various cars over the years is overly accurate. I'd like to think/assume it is, but I know better than to take it as the gospel truth.

    Forar on
    First they came for the Muslims, and we said NOT TODAY, MOTHERFUCKER!
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Shit, man, this is becoming a tradition.
    Feral wrote: »
    Pretty much everything that can be said about Wikipedia was quoted by me on the first page of the last thread we had on this subject:
    Feral wrote: »
    Pretty much everything that can be said about this was quoted by me on the first page of the last thread we had on this subject:
    Feral wrote:
    Pretty much everything that can be said about this was said on the first page of the last thread we had on this subject:
    ElJeffe wrote:
    If I have a question about the geography of Israel, you know what I do? I don't go to the library and check out a book on Israel; I turn around and ask the girl sitting 10 feet from me who comes from fucking Jerusalem. Is she an expert? No, but she still knows a lot about the subject, and ignoring her input because she doesn't have 3 degrees in pretentiology is retarded.

    Looking something up on Wikipedia is like asking a question of that really smart guy you know who's always kicking ass at Jeopardy. There's a good chance you'll get the right answer. In fact, there's a goddamned fantastic chance that you'll get the right answer on the vast majority of topics. Can it be wrong? Sure, and that's why you shouldn't use it if you're writing a research paper, or something. But if you just want to check a fact, and the 0.01% chance of error is acceptable, it's awesome.

    Yes, ElJeffe's post is from four threads back. And it's still quoteworthy.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Well, I've always found calling it "Schroedinger's Encyclopedia" illustrates the issues.

    But to be honest, most of the credibility problems could be fixed by:
    • Giving Jimbo the boot (any person who doesn't see falsification of professional credentials as a cause for dismissal shouldn't be allowed anywhere near an encyclopedia.)
    • Getting rid of politicized admins (though booting Jimbo would do a lot for this as the worst offenders personally know him and use him as a shield.)
    • Only allowing people who have been publically vetted and revealed to be high level administrators (the fact that many high level admins can operate anonymously opens the door to abuse.)
    • Reforming functions such as Oversight to be exposed to the public (right now, Oversight has no trail, which makes it ripe for abuse.)
    • Getting rid of the wikilawyering, especially NPOV, NOC, etc. (And no more fucking acronyms, either.)
    • Discouraging deletion (Votes for deletion should be very hard to succeed, except in a few cases.)

    AngelHedgie on
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  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Despite my glibness, I actually agree with AngelHedgie. I support the Wikipedia concept, but the whole endeavor seems to suffer from an insularity that is at odds with their stated values.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • ShurakaiShurakai Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I agree with ElJeffe. Wikipedia is awesome, and its a step in the right direction as far as the inevitable access to all information anywhere at anytime movement is concerned. Its not 100% objective sure, but its close enough for me.

    Shurakai on
  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Pretty much every professor at my college gives a wiki-lecture. They can't be cited directly because some whackjob could be channelling the posted information from his dead great-aunt. It is good for general knowledge, personal random knowledge that you can't find in an encyclopedia and as a search tool.

    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud on
  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Feral wrote: »
    Despite my glibness, I actually agree with AngelHedgie. I support the Wikipedia concept, but the whole endeavor seems to suffer from an insularity that is at odds with their stated values.

    Well, the thing is that the insularity is used as a defense for those who know the system to push their beliefs. What makes it worse is the leadership encourages the bastards.

    AngelHedgie on
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  • ÆthelredÆthelred Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    The brilliance of Wikipedia is in its interlinked-ness; there are certainly always as-good and better sites on the same topics I'm looking for, but they're all separate and require a separate Google search plus verification of their reliability.

    Æthelred on
    pokes: 1505 8032 8399
  • ArikadoArikado Southern CaliforniaRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I had a music class that was pretty huge so our disussion classes were led by TAs. Apparently, the material by the professor spanned across many areas that some students back in '04 made their own Wiki page for the class and it's been maintained by each group of TAs for that class. It was pretty awesome and well done but it was on a localized network in the Music library. It was like condensed notes with links to audio files. Eventually the professor learned about it and started to add some extra info to it. So basically if you want this awesome studying tool, you have to go to the far ass music library. A few other departments started to use this as well from what a friend who is still Cal tells me.

    Anyway, it was my first real experience with a wiki-type page and I became interested with how it was set up. While I do not hold all information to heart, it is still a great source to answer minor questions and to end simple arguments. Also a good time killer at work.

    Arikado on
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  • jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Wikipedia can tell me what an orthogonal matrix is. I am satisfied.

    jothki on
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    jothki wrote: »
    Wikipedia can tell me what an orthogonal matrix is. I am satisfied.

    I do get really frustrated at a lot of the math and physics articles, as they're clearly written by doctorates for people only slightly less-educated than they. Only rarely do they have links that clearly lead to more basic requisite concepts or actually explain the concept in layman's terms.

    The article on orthogonal matrices is a good example; it's totally useless if you don't already have some college math courses under your belt, and the only link off to the article on matrices doesn't even take you to the top of the article, it takes you straight to the section on square matrices and you have to scroll up to read what a matrix actually is.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • IreneDAdlerIreneDAdler Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Feral wrote: »
    jothki wrote: »
    Wikipedia can tell me what an orthogonal matrix is. I am satisfied.

    I do get really frustrated at a lot of the math and physics articles, as they're clearly written by doctorates for people only slightly less-educated than they. Only rarely do they have links that clearly lead to more basic requisite concepts or actually explain the concept in layman's terms.

    The article on orthogonal matrices is a good example; it's totally useless if you don't already have some college math courses under your belt, and the only link off to the article on matrices doesn't even take you to the top of the article, it takes you straight to the section on square matrices and you have to scroll up to read what a matrix actually is.

    My boyfriend is a computer science grad student and he loves those articles. They are exactly what he needs to understand a topic quickly, and don't beat around the bush with trying to explain advanced concepts to a naive audience.

    No, Wikipedia isn't a replacement for all other forms of education, but then, how many people are going to say, "I know, I want to learn about Eigenvectors today despite not knowing what a matrix is?"

    IreneDAdler on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Feral wrote: »
    jothki wrote: »
    Wikipedia can tell me what an orthogonal matrix is. I am satisfied.

    I do get really frustrated at a lot of the math and physics articles, as they're clearly written by doctorates for people only slightly less-educated than they. Only rarely do they have links that clearly lead to more basic requisite concepts or actually explain the concept in layman's terms.

    The article on orthogonal matrices is a good example; it's totally useless if you don't already have some college math courses under your belt, and the only link off to the article on matrices doesn't even take you to the top of the article, it takes you straight to the section on square matrices and you have to scroll up to read what a matrix actually is.

    My boyfriend is a computer science grad student and he loves those articles. They are exactly what he needs to understand a topic quickly, and don't beat around the bush with trying to explain advanced concepts to a naive audience.

    No, Wikipedia isn't a replacement for all other forms of education, but then, how many people are going to say, "I know, I want to learn about Eigenvectors today despite not knowing what a matrix is?"

    Seriously. I've used such wiki pages quite often in my EE/Math classes before as well. I don't need an explanation in "layman's terms" as to what a matrix is or what a differential equation is...I need info on a specific topic written (in theory) by people who know what they're talking about for people who already have the prerequisite knowledge.

    Since again, why the fuck would you look up "orthogonal matrix" without knowing what a matrix is?

    I'd never use wikipedia as a "real" reference for research, nor would I make life-altering decisions based on information in there (alone). But if, for whatever reason, I want to know the population of Terre Haute, Indiana or I'm too lazy to flip to the index of one of my many books containing an explanation of Euler's Formula, wikipedia can be invaluable.

    mcdermott on
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    My boyfriend is a computer science grad student and he loves those articles. They are exactly what he needs to understand a topic quickly, and don't beat around the bush with trying to explain advanced concepts to a naive audience.

    Doesn't he have access to a more scholarly resource that can do the same thing, like a textbook?
    No, Wikipedia isn't a replacement for all other forms of education, but then, how many people are going to say, "I know, I want to learn about Eigenvectors today despite not knowing what a matrix is?"

    The common pro-Wikipedia argument is that it's not a replacement for scholarly resources; it's a place where the unwashed masses can rapidly familiarize themselves with a topic and find links going off to more in-depth and reputable sources. This is true for most articles, until you start looking at math and physics (and sometimes computer science) articles where the focus suddenly turns 180 degrees, and Wikipedia apparently becomes a resource for grad students to catch up on topics they missed when they slept in past lecture time.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Feral wrote: »
    My boyfriend is a computer science grad student and he loves those articles. They are exactly what he needs to understand a topic quickly, and don't beat around the bush with trying to explain advanced concepts to a naive audience.

    Doesn't he have access to a more scholarly resource that can do the same thing, like a textbook?

    Bah, then I've got to look through indexes, and blah blah blah.

    Also, I've used wikipedia for shit like this when I'm up in a lab working on something, and don't have textbooks handy.
    No, Wikipedia isn't a replacement for all other forms of education, but then, how many people are going to say, "I know, I want to learn about Eigenvectors today despite not knowing what a matrix is?"

    The common pro-Wikipedia argument is that it's not a replacement for scholarly resources; it's a place where the unwashed masses can rapidly familiarize themselves with a topic and find links going off to more in-depth and reputable sources. This is true for most articles, until you start looking at math and physics (and sometimes computer science) articles where the focus suddenly turns 180 degrees, and Wikipedia apparently becomes a resource for grad students to catch up on topics they missed when they slept in past lecture time.

    Undergrads, too. ;-)

    But yeah, I guess I see what you're saying. But really there's a certain level of physics and math beyond which you really can't adequately explain it to a "layman" without imparting the prerequisite knowledge first. At which point I'd agree that they should probably link to some more basic articles, but not "dumb down" the actual article they're writing.

    mcdermott on
  • jothkijothki Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    mcdermott wrote: »
    No, Wikipedia isn't a replacement for all other forms of education, but then, how many people are going to say, "I know, I want to learn about Eigenvectors today despite not knowing what a matrix is?"

    The common pro-Wikipedia argument is that it's not a replacement for scholarly resources; it's a place where the unwashed masses can rapidly familiarize themselves with a topic and find links going off to more in-depth and reputable sources. This is true for most articles, until you start looking at math and physics (and sometimes computer science) articles where the focus suddenly turns 180 degrees, and Wikipedia apparently becomes a resource for grad students to catch up on topics they missed when they slept in past lecture time.

    Undergrads, too. ;-)

    But yeah, I guess I see what you're saying. But really there's a certain level of physics and math beyond which you really can't adequately explain it to a "layman" without imparting the prerequisite knowledge first. At which point I'd agree that they should probably link to some more basic articles, but not "dumb down" the actual article they're writing.

    The advantage of having articles beyond the comprehension of the "unwashed masses" is that the unwashed mashes then tend to stay away from editing them as well, and any mistakes or vandalism is easily caught. The math and physics articles are shielded enough from the normal weaknesses of Wikipedia that they might as well be from a more private wiki, and they keep the advantages of cross-referencing with the more popular content.

    jothki on
  • IreneDAdlerIreneDAdler Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Feral wrote: »
    My boyfriend is a computer science grad student and he loves those articles. They are exactly what he needs to understand a topic quickly, and don't beat around the bush with trying to explain advanced concepts to a naive audience.

    Doesn't he have access to a more scholarly resource that can do the same thing, like a textbook?
    Seeing as how he doesn't have ready-access to every math textbook ever written, and Wikipedia has a neat search function that doesn't involve flipping through indices, trying to find key words, I'd say the 10 minutes he spends typing in the search term and reading the article is well-spent.

    edit: Yeah, what McDermott said.

    IreneDAdler on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • ArkadyArkady Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I love wiipedia, it is a research tool of epic proportions. While useless as a source itself, it can provide a massive bonanza of starting points. As an example, if I were doing a research paper on abortion, the wiki article will probably contain names of important people in the pro choice/life movements, names of abortion procedures, names of important court cases, or any other number of relevant side topics that would add to a paper on said topic. All of this I can then google for more paper friendly sources.

    It is an amazing starting point. Truly fantastic.

    Arkady on
    untitled-1.jpg
    LoL: failboattootoot
  • JPantsJPants Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Also fantastic for settling bets. I'd say my friends and i use it for that reason more than anything else.

    JPants on
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I just read an article about Wikipedia that was pretty fascinating but I can't find it now.

    The article was actually about evolution—and in particular, people's difficulty in accepting evolution, regardless of religion. The author claimed that many people have a conceptual difficulty in understanding how order can seem to emerge from a system based on nothing outside the system itself (hence the need for an intelligent designer). It's almost as if they instinctually can't wrap their heads around it.

    He then brings up people's instinctual reaction to Wikipedia—how can this be accurate when it's written by a bunch of random amateurs arguing with each other on the internet? Again, there's the same kind of instinctual confusion/revulsion to the idea.

    If you think about Wikipedia, it's actually pretty amazing in its scope and its accuracy, compared to other encyclopedias, and it all arose in a fraction of the time, seemingly out of nothing. Like opponents of evolution, people tend to ignore the effect that selection has on Wikipedia as a self-organizing system. Just like natural selection, Wikipedia's standard of selection (factual claims that are not cited with an appropriate source are deleted) is not arbitrary or random at all—it is highly directive.

    Emergence theory, etc.

    Qingu on
  • QinguQingu Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    mcdermott wrote: »
    But yeah, I guess I see what you're saying. But really there's a certain level of physics and math beyond which you really can't adequately explain it to a "layman" without imparting the prerequisite knowledge first. At which point I'd agree that they should probably link to some more basic articles, but not "dumb down" the actual article they're writing.
    This is actually my biggest problem with Wikipedia by far: the writing level (and quality) is inconsistent and often innappropriate. There's no reason why an article's introduction can't give a basic account of the concept, understandable to kids and laymen adults.

    Though this is probably going to improve over time.

    Qingu on
  • PolityPolity Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    What? An oft-returned-to-and-rehashed topic somehow managed to spark discourse? My flabbers be gasted.

    The sections of Wikipedia I most often use are actually those about difficult math and physics topics, as I've had nearly the exact opposite experience some of you apparently have. I've found that while a professor may give an obtuse or complicated explanation of a concept in class that I nod through, barely grasping the maths behind it while completely missing the maid idea, Wikipedia can give a phenomenal, concise, layman's-term definition that completely clears up why I'm doing the processes I'm grinding out, as opposed to simply how. I remember distinctly the first time this happened, when I was looking up cross products as they are used in relation to set theory. The first paragraph contains the precise mathematical definition as found in any textbook on the subject, an explanation of said definition, and a really good example using a playing card deck to give a more grounded example. I thought that was pretty impressive. I also just looked up eigenvalues despite the fact that I haven't used them in over three years and don't really remember how to, and got a decent crash course in their meaning and use. I suppose that could just be my college-math-educated predisposition speaking, but I found these to be fantastic sources for very clear, real-world explanations of difficult topics.

    Polity on
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Feral wrote: »
    My boyfriend is a computer science grad student and he loves those articles. They are exactly what he needs to understand a topic quickly, and don't beat around the bush with trying to explain advanced concepts to a naive audience.

    Doesn't he have access to a more scholarly resource that can do the same thing, like a textbook?
    Seeing as how he doesn't have ready-access to every math textbook ever written, and Wikipedia has a neat search function that doesn't involve flipping through indices, trying to find key words, I'd say the 10 minutes he spends typing in the search term and reading the article is well-spent.

    edit: Yeah, what McDermott said.

    I totally accept that it's beneficial to the students who use it.

    But as jothki said, the math/science articles are more like a private wiki. It's that there seems to be, at times, two different Wikipedias, with two different sets of authorships and readerships. There's the popular Wikipedia, for laypeople, and the semi-scholarly Wikipedia for students and scientists, and you only know where one ends and the other begins when you hit an article that lacks an explanation section.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • LiveWireLiveWire Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I remember reading a report about Wikipedia which found that it was, on average, about as accurate as the Encyclopedia Brittanica. I can't remember where I read this so I can't cite it, and the irony of this is crushing me.

    LiveWire on
  • BeedleBeedle Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    People who complain about Wikipedia (not like any complaints about specific parts of Wikipedia like in this thread, but people who complain about it in general) spark a kind of irrational primal rage in me. Can't they see what a phenomenal achievement it is that undoubtedly the widest and almost unfailingly accurate research tool ever has been created purely by the voluntary contributions of normal Internet users? You're complaining because you read in the news about an article on some topical subject that was wrong for half an hour? Just go away. I especially hate it when people use Wikipedia as lazy satire-speak for 'unreliable' (Ian Hislop does this a fair bit on HIGNFY in the UK.)

    I repeat though, I'm not talking about the discussion in this thread, which is valid and good. I'm just venting. Carry on.

    Beedle on
  • SithDrummerSithDrummer Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    [*]Getting rid of the wikilawyering, especially NPOV, NOC, etc. (And no more fucking acronyms, either.)
    NOC?


    Edit:

    Also, re: the elitism of math/science Wiki articles, I'm proud to have been the originator of one such article, even if my initial rendition was fairly sparse.

    SithDrummer on
  • BobCescaBobCesca Is a girl Birmingham, UKRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I love Wikipedia and use it as a starting off point for loads of topics and to find out random crap about movies, music, books, etc.

    However, when I see it in a first year undergraduate essay I :cry:, and that's my problem with it. It can be a very useful resource, but people need to differentiate between this type of internet source and books when studying at school or university, especially in the arts - one is cool for getting some ideas or a very basic knowledge before doing your research, the other is the stuff you put in your bibliography and cite within the essay.

    *I study Classics and most of the Wiki entries are so wrong I couldn't even begin to think about suggesting corrections.

    BobCesca on
  • BeedleBeedle Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    BobCesca wrote: »
    I love Wikipedia and use it as a starting off point for loads of topics and to find out random crap about movies, music, books, etc.

    However, when I see it in a first year undergraduate essay I :cry:, and that's my problem with it. It can be a very useful resource, but people need to differentiate between this type of internet source and books when studying at school or university, especially in the arts - one is cool for getting some ideas or a very basic knowledge before doing your research, the other is the stuff you put in your bibliography and cite within the essay.

    *I study Classics and most of the Wiki entries are so wrong I couldn't even begin to think about suggesting corrections.

    Out of genuine curiosity, any example articles you can mention that are this completely wrong?

    Beedle on
  • Irond WillIrond Will WARNING: NO HURTFUL COMMENTS, PLEASE!!!!! Cambridge. MAModerator mod
    edited October 2007
    Feral wrote: »
    jothki wrote: »
    Wikipedia can tell me what an orthogonal matrix is. I am satisfied.

    I do get really frustrated at a lot of the math and physics articles, as they're clearly written by doctorates for people only slightly less-educated than they. Only rarely do they have links that clearly lead to more basic requisite concepts or actually explain the concept in layman's terms.

    The article on orthogonal matrices is a good example; it's totally useless if you don't already have some college math courses under your belt, and the only link off to the article on matrices doesn't even take you to the top of the article, it takes you straight to the section on square matrices and you have to scroll up to read what a matrix actually is.

    I don't mean to be a pretentious dick, but really I don't think that the orthogonality of matrices is really a meaningful concept without a fair degree of prior knowledge and education and understanding of matrix math. I mean, it's not the sort of thing that is really explainable or even meaningful outside of its context.

    Irond Will on
    Wqdwp8l.png
  • BobCescaBobCesca Is a girl Birmingham, UKRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Beedle wrote: »
    BobCesca wrote: »
    I love Wikipedia and use it as a starting off point for loads of topics and to find out random crap about movies, music, books, etc.

    However, when I see it in a first year undergraduate essay I :cry:, and that's my problem with it. It can be a very useful resource, but people need to differentiate between this type of internet source and books when studying at school or university, especially in the arts - one is cool for getting some ideas or a very basic knowledge before doing your research, the other is the stuff you put in your bibliography and cite within the essay.

    *I study Classics and most of the Wiki entries are so wrong I couldn't even begin to think about suggesting corrections.

    Out of genuine curiosity, any example articles you can mention that are this completely wrong?

    This one, where many of the "ideas" are at least 10 years out of date. It concentrates on the "clean" aspects of Martial and completely ignores the fact that most poems about women are obscenely critical and that over 30% of the 12 books are extremely obscene. Also, the way it tries to cover up the fact that the persona within the poems muchly enjoys the boy sex is laughable! The references include no mention of any of the current, or in fact past, reputable scholarship on Martial including Sullivan (1991) which was the first book length work written on Martial in English. Also, it has been shown that Martial was copying/heavily influenced by Greek Epigram (and I could go on for quite a while with other problems).

    And that's just one author. It is true that some pages are better. For example, while the Juvenal page is badly laid out and explained, the reference section does include some of the important scholarship of the last thirty years. The page of Virgil is ok, though horrifically short and concentrating more on later reception of Virgil's works rather the works themselves, and again the references are inadequate.

    BobCesca on
  • VeegeezeeVeegeezee Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    The matrices article seems pretty well balanced to me. They manage to spell out what orthogonal matrices are and discuss the implications in lie algebra and linear algebra all in the same article, without turning it into a textbook.

    Veegeezee on
  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2007
    Polity wrote: »
    Is it worth all the hulabaloo? Are standards being lowered/demolished/affected? What role, if any, should Wikipedia play in an academic environment? Schools are starting to disallow Wikipedia citations in papers and publications, which to my mind is rather silly and misses the point entirely - as somebody (I don't remember who) said, you're in college now - you shouldn't be citing the encyclopedia anyway. I'm not ashamed to admit that I use the hell out of it in the academic work I do - it works as a phenomenal starting point to guide research or whatever, and provides the added benefit of endless side-linking and cross-referencing as well as a robust set of citations (usually) for whatever topics I care to peruse. But am I cheating the system? Should we be using this tool or frowning on its inaccuracies, its biases (both presumably being worked on on a consistent basis), the fact that any wonko can log on and alter the article I'm reading about ancient Greece or whatever? It's an interesting topic, for your consideration.

    I have a friend who is a graduate student and as such teaches classes and grades papers. Some of his students have cited Wikipedia on their papers. So, I think that smacking these students with the academic equivalent of a newspaper and sternly saying, "NO!" is a good thing.

    Wikipedia is a good place to go to get a general idea of something, or to START one's research. It is a good source of general information. But if one *really* wants to know something then they need to find the information in an actual academic text which has been reviewed and edited by scholars. Anyone engaged in genuine academic persuits needs to shy away from it as anything more than a collection of general, yet unverified and possibly incorrect, information.

    Fundamentally, though, I hate it. The idea that information can exist and be collected in the wikipedian manner completely goes against what we know to be the case given human history.

    _J_ on
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Irond Will wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    jothki wrote: »
    Wikipedia can tell me what an orthogonal matrix is. I am satisfied.

    I do get really frustrated at a lot of the math and physics articles, as they're clearly written by doctorates for people only slightly less-educated than they. Only rarely do they have links that clearly lead to more basic requisite concepts or actually explain the concept in layman's terms.

    The article on orthogonal matrices is a good example; it's totally useless if you don't already have some college math courses under your belt, and the only link off to the article on matrices doesn't even take you to the top of the article, it takes you straight to the section on square matrices and you have to scroll up to read what a matrix actually is.

    I don't mean to be a pretentious dick, but really I don't think that the orthogonality of matrices is really a meaningful concept without a fair degree of prior knowledge and education and understanding of matrix math. I mean, it's not the sort of thing that is really explainable or even meaningful outside of its context.

    That's not pretentious or dickish at all.

    I'm just saying that it should be relatively easy to step backwards to preliminary concepts. The orthogonal matrix article at least as a link back to square matrices, but many of the articles I've seen (I wish I had a good example off the top of my head but I don't) don't link back to simpler concepts at all.

    I also have to wonder why some articles are deleted for being "unencyclopedic" while articles that only have value to people already well-versed in a subject are kept. It seems to be an inconsistent application of the Wikipedia standards. I'd argue that an article that requires higher education in a relevant field is itself unencyclopedic (even though it's obviously valuable to keep that article in Wikipedia where it can be easily found and referenced) and betrays a lack of focus. It's almost like the people who maintain Wikipedia can't quite decide what Wikipedia is meant to be.

    And it's not a glaring fault. I'm not saying it's a nail in Wikipedia's proverbial coffin or anything like that. Such articles are better off being left alone than deleted; at least people who have said education could use them. But I do think they could benefit from a small amount of cleanup.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • BeedleBeedle Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    BobCesca wrote: »
    Beedle wrote: »
    BobCesca wrote: »
    I love Wikipedia and use it as a starting off point for loads of topics and to find out random crap about movies, music, books, etc.

    However, when I see it in a first year undergraduate essay I :cry:, and that's my problem with it. It can be a very useful resource, but people need to differentiate between this type of internet source and books when studying at school or university, especially in the arts - one is cool for getting some ideas or a very basic knowledge before doing your research, the other is the stuff you put in your bibliography and cite within the essay.

    *I study Classics and most of the Wiki entries are so wrong I couldn't even begin to think about suggesting corrections.

    Out of genuine curiosity, any example articles you can mention that are this completely wrong?

    This one, where many of the "ideas" are at least 10 years out of date. It concentrates on the "clean" aspects of Martial and completely ignores the fact that most poems about women are obscenely critical and that over 30% of the 12 books are extremely obscene. Also, the way it tries to cover up the fact that the persona within the poems muchly enjoys the boy sex is laughable! The references include no mention of any of the current, or in fact past, reputable scholarship on Martial including Sullivan (1991) which was the first book length work written on Martial in English. Also, it has been shown that Martial was copying/heavily influenced by Greek Epigram (and I could go on for quite a while with other problems).

    And that's just one author. It is true that some pages are better. For example, while the Juvenal page is badly laid out and explained, the reference section does include some of the important scholarship of the last thirty years. The page of Virgil is ok, though horrifically short and concentrating more on later reception of Virgil's works rather the works themselves, and again the references are inadequate.

    So (speaking as a scientist woefully ignorant of anything vaguely arty) it's basically scolarly lit-crit stuff that's wrong/missing, rather than actual objective fact? Also, seems like some of the stuff you're mentioning is discussed on the talk page (which it seems to me should be considered part of the article if you're looking in this kind of depth). Not meaning to pick fights here, I'm just interested to know where people feel the major inaccuracies lie.

    Beedle on
  • BobCescaBobCesca Is a girl Birmingham, UKRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Beedle wrote: »
    BobCesca wrote: »
    Beedle wrote: »
    BobCesca wrote: »
    I love Wikipedia and use it as a starting off point for loads of topics and to find out random crap about movies, music, books, etc.

    However, when I see it in a first year undergraduate essay I :cry:, and that's my problem with it. It can be a very useful resource, but people need to differentiate between this type of internet source and books when studying at school or university, especially in the arts - one is cool for getting some ideas or a very basic knowledge before doing your research, the other is the stuff you put in your bibliography and cite within the essay.

    *I study Classics and most of the Wiki entries are so wrong I couldn't even begin to think about suggesting corrections.

    Out of genuine curiosity, any example articles you can mention that are this completely wrong?

    This one, where many of the "ideas" are at least 10 years out of date. It concentrates on the "clean" aspects of Martial and completely ignores the fact that most poems about women are obscenely critical and that over 30% of the 12 books are extremely obscene. Also, the way it tries to cover up the fact that the persona within the poems muchly enjoys the boy sex is laughable! The references include no mention of any of the current, or in fact past, reputable scholarship on Martial including Sullivan (1991) which was the first book length work written on Martial in English. Also, it has been shown that Martial was copying/heavily influenced by Greek Epigram (and I could go on for quite a while with other problems).

    And that's just one author. It is true that some pages are better. For example, while the Juvenal page is badly laid out and explained, the reference section does include some of the important scholarship of the last thirty years. The page of Virgil is ok, though horrifically short and concentrating more on later reception of Virgil's works rather the works themselves, and again the references are inadequate.

    So (speaking as a scientist woefully ignorant of anything vaguely arty) it's basically scolarly lit-analysis stuff that's wrong/missing, rather than actual objective fact? Also, seems like some of the stuff you're mentioning is discussed on the talk page (which it seems to me should be considered part of the article if you're looking in this kind of depth). Not meaning to pick fights here, I'm just interested to know where people feel the major inaccuracies lie.

    No, I'm talking fact as well. For example, at the end of the day all you can say about this person who seems to be called 'Martial' is that he might be Spanish...all that stuff about country house, etc? no other historical evidence at all. That his parents were called Fronto and Flacillia - also unattested, and could in fact have been the names of two of his slaves. While there is the caveat
    Knowledge of his life is derived almost entirely from his works
    , it then goes on to claim 'facts' which cannot be verrified. When the only source of infomation is a satirical work, most likely with a persona as the narrator, things like this cannot be said (and it's annoying when they come up in essays with none of the counterpoints also in place).

    Also, one of the decent things on the discussion page I presume you are referring to under the title "General"? That was me one night when I just got so narked at how wrong it is. And a lot of students don't look at that, just the front page (as it were).

    BobCesca on
  • BeedleBeedle Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Ha, well I guessed it might have been you on the talk page seeing as it was basically all the same criticisms, but I took it it wasn't from the "couldn't even begin to think about suggesting corrections" comment. Anyhow, interesting to see some specific contesting of facts; a lot of the time you just hear "I read such-and-such an article on Wiki and it was all wrong!". Thanks.

    Beedle on
  • [Tycho?][Tycho?] As elusive as doubt Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    LiveWire wrote: »
    I remember reading a report about Wikipedia which found that it was, on average, about as accurate as the Encyclopedia Brittanica. I can't remember where I read this so I can't cite it, and the irony of this is crushing me.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia

    Fourth paragraph down has the citations.

    And here is a whole article on it:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability_of_Wikipedia

    [Tycho?] on
    mvaYcgc.jpg
  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2007
    [Tycho?] wrote: »
    LiveWire wrote: »
    I remember reading a report about Wikipedia which found that it was, on average, about as accurate as the Encyclopedia Brittanica. I can't remember where I read this so I can't cite it, and the irony of this is crushing me.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia

    Fourth paragraph down has the citations.

    And here is a whole article on it:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability_of_Wikipedia

    I think it is delightful that you cited wikipedia rather than the sources used by wikipedia for this particular bit of information.

    That's what I would point to as the problem.

    _J_ on
  • [Tycho?][Tycho?] As elusive as doubt Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    _J_ wrote: »
    [Tycho?] wrote: »
    LiveWire wrote: »
    I remember reading a report about Wikipedia which found that it was, on average, about as accurate as the Encyclopedia Brittanica. I can't remember where I read this so I can't cite it, and the irony of this is crushing me.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia

    Fourth paragraph down has the citations.

    And here is a whole article on it:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability_of_Wikipedia

    I think it is delightful that you cited wikipedia rather than the sources used by wikipedia for this particular bit of information.

    That's what I would point to as the problem.

    Well, for one thing I specifically pointed out where the citations were. For second, if you can find an error in one of these articles, then feel free to post it here.

    Its not part of the problem, its part of why wikipedia is so useful.

    [Tycho?] on
    mvaYcgc.jpg
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