Wikipedia Source

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john_titor
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Wikipedia Source

Postby john_titor » Sat Jan 02, 2010 6:46 pm

In terms of journalistic standards, what's the official word (is there one?) as far as using Wikipedia as a reference? A source is a source?

Curious,

j_t

Henry Vilas
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Re: Wikipedia Source

Postby Henry Vilas » Sat Jan 02, 2010 6:55 pm

Gotta look at the source documents. Wiki's error rate is about the same as paper and ink encyclopedias. Wiki has external links for sources. Sometimes the links even work.

john_titor
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Re: Wikipedia Source

Postby john_titor » Sat Jan 02, 2010 8:00 pm

If worded differently, would you as a writer quote this

Some Anonymous Source wrote:This is a statement of fact


to back up your claim?

Is wiki accepted in academia as a valid source?

rabble
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Re: Wikipedia Source

Postby rabble » Sat Jan 02, 2010 10:47 pm

john_titor wrote:If worded differently, would you as a writer quote this

Some Anonymous Source wrote:This is a statement of fact


to back up your claim?

I've seen it done and linked to, as evidence to support statements such as "On Free Republic lots of the posters are bigoted morons" and that sort of thing. As Henry says, it's the same rule sources have had since Og said "Urg make fire." - You have to check the source.
john_titor wrote:Is wiki accepted in academia as a valid source?

Isn't there a wikipedia entry for that?

Sorry couldn't resist.

Are you asking if someone exists who's entire thesis consists of Wiki entries?

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Re: Wikipedia Source

Postby thebookpolice » Mon Jan 04, 2010 12:43 pm

If someone straight-up cites Wikipedia in academia, that someone should be shown the door. Anything on Wikipedia that's worth citing has a footnote pointing to the actual source of the information.

Wikipedia entries are just information aggregators, not actual sources.

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Re: Wikipedia Source

Postby boston_jeff » Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:14 pm

I use it all the time to look up academic info, but would never cite it in a paper. As bookpolice says, its a good starting point, but then you have to go to the source material. You can also tell how good the source is at a glance. If its an academic journal I know the content in the wiki entry is probably sound. If its Time magazine, not so much.

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Re: Wikipedia Source

Postby jjoyce » Mon Jan 04, 2010 2:19 pm

Here's how I tend to use Wikipedia: Where was the 1978 Super Bowl played? Who played shortstop for the 1986 Brewers? One 'b' or two in legendary bowler Dick Webber's last name? It's a great source for reinforcing knowledge you already have or providing a quick stat.

Source is a weird term, however. Often, an actual person source doesn't get facts right and you have to check them against two or three other sources. But I don't know of too many people who research cold on Wikipedia and pull their facts only from there. It's for verifying as much as anything.

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Re: Wikipedia Source

Postby Kenneth Burns » Mon Jan 04, 2010 3:30 pm

What CPU was in the Atari 2600? Etc.

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Re: Wikipedia Source

Postby green union terrace chair » Mon Jan 04, 2010 4:52 pm

Wookieepedia is way better.
http://starwars.wikia.com/

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Re: Wikipedia Source

Postby Adam Powell » Mon Jan 04, 2010 4:58 pm

Wikipedia is terrific for checking on well-known facts, like the ones Joyce and Burns mention. If it's not contentious, Wikipedia is fine all by itself. (Of course, this category of information hardly deserves formal attribution in most cases).

The problem areas of the site are revealed when I look at information that isn't so well established. What I often see there are power-crazed editors, way out of their depth, going on editing sprees without really having a handle on the material at all. This is very dangerous.

But that's what you get from volunteers--they are paid only in their sense of personal power! And that is not a flippant remark. It is, in my opinion, the core problem with Wikipedia.

Which is why it's so amazing that overall, Wikipedia is an incredibly rich resource and a fantastically successful initiative, far better than I ever would have imagined it to be.

Still, in the end, you have this problem with the editors.

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

This page is deeply, deeply flawed. That's because an expert editor, such as you would have on a book (paid, of course, for their valuable expertise), is not present. The fact that

"According to Martin West, "Homer" is "not the name of a historical poet, but a fictitious or constructed name."[2]

is present in the introductory paragraph, without a pointer to opposing views with attribution, is a good example of how deeply wrong the page is. It goes on that way:

"Although "Homer" is a Greek name, attested in Aeolic-speaking areas,[9] nothing definite is known of him; yet rich traditions grew up, or were conserved, purporting to give details of his birthplace and background."

The question of Homer's identity is an open one, but the entire entry is riddled with Martin West, who very likely had a hand in editing this stuff to push his book sales.

The editor(s) do not understand the subject well enough to correct this bias.

That's a real problem.

Homer is foundational to all of Western Civilization, and loads of
people--one thousand? One hundred thousand? One million?-- read that page every day.

And yet, it's as cockeyed as can be.

Consider another page:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare

We all know that Shakespeare's life is shrouded in mystery, as is Homer's.

And yet, the intro here gives no indication that his identity is in
question:

"William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564 . died 23 April 1616)[a] was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's preeminent dramatist.[1] He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon".[2][b] His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of 38 plays,[c] 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.[3]"

What's going on here? Why does the wiki on Homer *lead off* with a claim and *accompanying citation* that Homer's very existence is controversial?

And why is the Shakespeare entry so radically different?

So while it's a fantastic resource for many disciplines--the physics, math and food sections spring to mind--it falls down very badly on others.

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Re: Wikipedia Source

Postby Thusnelda » Mon Jan 04, 2010 5:09 pm

My mom is "afraid" of Wikipedia. Doesn't trust it, never will. But she will gladly call me from her vacation, 10 states away, to ask me, say, who that character is on SNL (which she has never watched) who always exaggerates and twists her hair around her finger. You know, something which could be much more easily explained by actually looking at a photo or video online.

So apparently I'm much more of an authoritative source, on everything, than a bunch of nerds obsessed with correcting the minutiae of each others' competitive geekery.

Clearly, I need to take advantage of this more often. “Did you know that Janis Joplin speedwalked everywhere and was afraid of toilets?”

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Re: Wikipedia Source

Postby green union terrace chair » Mon Jan 04, 2010 5:40 pm

Adam Powell wrote:So while it's a fantastic resource for many disciplines--the physics, math and food sections spring to mind--it falls down very badly on others.


Another problem is highly-opinionated articles, or more specifically, vandalism to articles about polarized or controversial people or subjects.

Take a look at the history of Obama's page:
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?tit ... on=history

10+ revisions per day, people turning the article into a news ticker. Even worse was on election day, there were GRAMMAR BATTLES with editors changing tenses and titles and having arguments about if it was President Obama or Senator Obama who did X on the day before the election or if he could even be called President before his inaguaration. And then once in awhile someone would just delete the page entirely.

I noticed the same sort of thing happening to Bush's page in his final year. Actually, I just looked at the most recent history and this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Minibush.jpg was the profile picture for about five minute on 12/29 before being reverted.

Henry Vilas
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Re: Wikipedia Source

Postby Henry Vilas » Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:18 pm

Wiki is a good source for general information. The Encyclopaedia Britanica of the Information Age. Back in high school in the early 60s I was taught not to footnote/endnote from any encyclopedia when writing a paper, not even the venerable EB. I was well taught, (even learned a little).

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Re: Wikipedia Source

Postby sabuye » Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:19 pm


john_titor
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Re: Wikipedia Source

Postby john_titor » Wed Jan 06, 2010 9:02 pm

Zachery.

All Things Considered had this guy on today:

Jeff Jarvis is the director of the interactive journalism program at the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. He is the author of What Would Google Do?

Granted, he was doing a story about the web, but he was all over wikipedia:

"But Wikipedia informs us that credit for "blogosphere" is also claimed by William Quick, a conservative blogger and novelist whose site does, indeed, proclaim: "Yes, I’m the guy who named the blogosphere."
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122277812

I am not sure what to make of that what with the being a director of the journalism school and all and on NPR. Fluff? Is that the line?


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