The following opinions are based upon admittedly anecdotal observations. I stand by the many criticisms I’ve posted about Wikipedia over the years.
I randomly came upon this Twitter post by @tylerdmace (Tyler Mace).
Just sayin’ here, I’d be a bit wary of any of those 151 pages that tylerdmace has edited, based upon the Twitter post above.
Now, why is this important? If an editor is willing to admit to these errors of judgement, how many other editors are doing the same thing … and not letting us know. Yes, the answer could be that no other editors on Wikipedia are doing this. All those that believe that, please comment below.
Also, given this public protestation of flawed rational thought on the part of Taylordmace, why has that user account not been disabled? Does Wikipedia even track these types of transgressions by their users? I don’t think so, at least not to the extent that assures a legitmate online dictionary is producing consistently correct information.
Now, let’s take the low hanging fruit here. If someone changes something on any Wikipedia entry, how long is the lag time between an editor checking the change for validity and what is the traffic on that entry between the time the edit is made and corrected (if a correction is required)?
Do we now see why the very essence of Wikipedia’s operation makes it ripe for providing flawed information?
My post to Twitter, upon finding this little gem from TyleDMace, launched a few replies from friends.
erob1: @rdfrench lol that was hilarious! I always go to wikipedia for something, then go to the sources at the bottom for credibility lol
Tex3911: @mat1583 @rdfrench I’ve been considering returning to the blogsphere. I’ll wite a post on this.
Tex3911: @rdfrench such approval is absent in the US. This absence is fundamental to freedom of speech.
Tex3911: @rdfrench “credentialled” implies that one must be officially approved to contribute to the writing process.
mat1583: @rdfrench I’m not saying that wiki has no faults. It definitely does. But I think that articles with complete citations are very useful.
mat1583: @rdfrench I can’t argue it here on Twitter, but I’ve seen the behind the scenes work. There’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes.
mat1583: @rdfrench Have you extensivley participated in the process of creating/editing a wiki article? It’s much more intensive than you think.
Tex3911: @mat1583 @rdfrench some of the rebuttal from Britannica is kind of sad, especially the one where they confirm an error but won’t admit to it
mat1583: @rdfrench That doesn’t mean everyone lets them go free. @Tex3911 is right. It’s proven to be just as accurate or moreso than Britannica.
barbaranixon: @rdfrench Just curious: do you think it’s okay for people to link to Wikipedia in blog posts for general info? (Def not in academic work)
I’m not going to rehash my criticisms linked to above regarding my previous posts. I will state the following as it relates to this conversation and Tylerdmace’s confession.
I do not doubt for a moment that there are honest and faithful editors involved in the Wikipedia.org project. I do not doubt that, for some, this is a truly earnest effort to (a) provide information to the world and (b) a worthwhile ideal. But, ideals are not always reached.
To their credit, Wikipedia does provide a warning. How many read this warning, however, is open to debate.
Because Wikipedia is an ongoing work to which, in principle, anybody can contribute, it differs from a paper-based reference source in important ways. In particular, older articles tend to be more comprehensive and balanced, while newer articles more frequently contain significant misinformation, unencyclopedic content, or vandalism. Users need to be aware of this to obtain valid information and avoid misinformation that has been recently added and not yet removed (see Researching with Wikipedia for more details). However, unlike a paper reference source, Wikipedia is continually updated, with the creation or updating of articles on topical events within seconds, minutes, or hours, rather than months or years for printed encyclopedias. (Source)
I do have very serious doubts about the veracity and trustworthiness of the site’s overall trust factor. Which entries can you believe and which entries require further vetting? To me, they all require further vetting. There is no way to be assured that any one Wikipedia entry you may come upon is true, factual, and/or trustworthy. Having mob rule editing just makes it impossible. That is especially true given the fact that many editors are anonymous and there is no way to vet them.
My doubts arise with the site’s operation and their failure to act quickly and judiciously in several high profile incidents (Source). My doubts arise when one of the site’s founders, Jimmy Wales, has tried to manage his own profile (manage his own public persona) in Wikipedia.
Again, all that is low hanging fruit. I could go on for a long time documenting Wikipedia flaws and errors. Of course, others could go on documenting my flaws and errors, too. ;o)
My point in all this Wikipedia discussion?
Reference sources are not supposed to be based upon majority opinion or conventional wisdom. They are supposed to be based upon scholarly work that allows for the vetting of the content and the editors themselves. Wikipedia does not accomplish this feat nor meet these standards. That is why, in my opinion, Wikipedia is not a trustworthy reference source.
I know this won’t, in any way, settle this difference of opinion, but I do appreciate the reality that we may all agree to disagree on Wikipedia’s veracity and trustworthiness.
Seriously, I want Wikipedia to succeed. Jimmy Wales is an Auburn graduate. I want Auburn grads to achieve great things. I just don’t think Wikipedia, as it is currently being administered, is a successful effort providing trustworthy information on a broad range of topics on a consistent basis.