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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A big "duh"

So Wikipedia finally admits there is a quality problem with its open access encyclopedia. Well, what did they expect when they allow anyone to make or amend entries based on unsubstantiated knowledge?

It might have seemed a fun idea to have a "people's encyclopedia" on the web where anyone could post or update items they supposedly knew about. Except there's one problem with this premise: a whole lotta folk know a whole lotta nothing. So, people with misinformation can post or update items to Wikipedia without having expert knowledge, as though these items were verified truths. Point is, they aren't. What's worse is that people consulting Wikipedia as a reference believe they're getting verified information. At least, the most naive do - for instance, children doing research for school projects.

The failsafe to misinformation was supposed to be that anyone who saw a mistake could come in to make corrections. But, again, counting on non-experts to catch mistakes is a mistake itself. And then there's always the conundrum of the editor substituting erroneous information with even more incorrect information.

Also, there is the basic issue of quality. A lot of entries are unreadable; this doesn't promote confidence in the information nor in the site itself.

For instance, here is an example cited as one of the more atrocious entries; this particular one is on the soul legend Baby Washington (first time I've ever heard of her): "Many have written inacurate information about Washington. She IS NOT "BABY WASHINGTON" from James Brown." (sic).

Really, with knowledge like this, who needs ignorance?

Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 10/18/2005 09:11:00 PM Permanent Link     | | Home


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