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Wikipedia - 10th Anniversary

Discussion in 'Congregation of the Masses' started by Alchemator, Jan 15, 2011.

  1. Alchemator

    Alchemator my god if you don't have an iced tea for me when i
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    The free, online encyclopedia Wikipedia celebrates its 10th birthday today. While the issues have come up countless times, questions regarding its reliability have been brought up with the recent media coverage noting its milestone age.

    Wikipedia has often been criticised for unreliable and "oftentimes incorrect" information and, combined with the supposed ease of plagiarising the data, its most extreme critics say that Wikipedia is "dumbing down" society. They say that, due to the existence of Wikipedia, students no longer need to actually research and take in information while they do so, but copy and paste without a second thought.

    Personally I use Wikipedia frequently, but I don't delude myself about it having perfect reliability. I find it useful for getting basics before moving on to more specialised sites that could have more useful and more in-depth information. I also think that the part about plagiarising is unfounded - it's easy for teachers and such to recognise what is written in bland 'Wiki-prose', so it's not like students will not be caught.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    Note: Please attempt serious discussion
  2. Thorns

    Thorns

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    the wikipedia logo isn't a perfect sphere
  3. khz

    khz

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    I generally don't use Wikipedia for assignments that I care about. Sure, I'll use it to do some preliminary reading but not actually use stats, data or theories that I find on it.

    However, if I don't care about an assignment I'll get ALL the info off it, and because my teachers don't like students referencing Wikipedia I'll type the subject into Google, copy paste the first 10 links in my reference list, make up a few books and voila, one assignment in half an hour.
  4. Hipmonlee

    Hipmonlee Have a rice day
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    The dumbing down argument seems stupid.

    "The invention of schools dumbed down society by handing knowledge to kids on a platter when they ought to be discovering mathematics by themselves"

    I truly believe Wikipedia is mankinds greatest achievement.

    Have a nice day.
  5. Aeron Ee1

    Aeron Ee1 Nom nom nom
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    hahahahahhahaha, awesome...
  6. min min

    min min

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    It's unreliable at times because the information is pulled out by randoms. But on the other hand there are professionals willing to research widely and deeply for a Wiki article for the good of our collective intelligence. I rarely use Wiki nowadays, mostly just following the references at the end of the page and read more for myself.
  7. RBG

    RBG It feels like a perfect night to dress up like hipsters
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    Wikipedia is meant to be only one thing, a steeping stool into jumping into more information. Having citations at the bottom of articles serves two purposes. Firstly, it gives you sites that actually have the information that exists, so you know the information is not made up by wikipedia (That is actually one of their policies "No Original Research"). The reason for citations is after you've read the article to get a basic understanding, you can read any of the citations to get things explained in more detail.

    Long story short: Wikipedia aims to be a neutral compilation of verifiable, established facts. (If you have time read some of the policy pages so you can get a better understanding of how the site works.)

    For the record, the reason teachers usually don't want you citing Wikipedia is because it is an encyclopedia. Outside of that, I've had teachers who understand it is flawed, but also one of the best sources for starting to research these days.

    Is it a great resource? Yes. Is it perfect? No. Is it working to get better? Every second.
  8. billymills

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    Happy 100th anniversary Wikipedia!

    On a serious note, I completely agree with what Hip said, even if part of it may have been sarcastic. Wikipedia is a far better tool than it is given credit for in most schools, and is routinely better than most teachers.

    However I would point out that it's impossible to become truly neutral on an issue, and that even though Wikipedia is trying to appear as neutral as possible, it may be worth researching viewpoints on multiple sides of a topic that may not be present on the Wiki article.
  9. Nastyjungle

    Nastyjungle fat and sassy
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    I love Wikipedia and I'm very glad it's been able to survive to its 10th birthday. An excellent research tool that while it can be changed publicly, is more often than not correct. I think the public being able to change it is Wikipedia's greatest strength, personally.

    The entire internet was invented in the US.
  10. Bartman101

    Bartman101 Banned deucer.

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    Proof?
  11. RBG

    RBG It feels like a perfect night to dress up like hipsters
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    Fun fact: Wikipedia has to obey the laws of Florida, since that is where it's servers are housed.
  12. Swaggersaurus

    Swaggersaurus I DON'T NEED A MAN
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    it's called "history", buddy

    it was developed to share information between american institutions during the space race
  13. smashlloyd20

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    Personally I love Wikipedia. Although people can change it most articles don't get changed, and iirc the editors are constantly sweeping the site. Imo its greatest strength is that because the public can contribute to it it has an aritcle for everything.
  14. Blue Monk

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    The World Wide Web, however, was invented by Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist working at CERN in Switzerland. Don't you just love nitpicking?

    More seriously, I think Wikipedia is perfect for pursuing casual interest, but it can be used for proper research too: given how many articles there are, the chance of the one you want to use having been vandalised is quite remote. Most of the people who edit Wikipedia articles seem to care about what they're doing.

    As for accuracy... even without following citations, I've always found the information on Wikipedia accurate. If anything, articles tend to be too precise and detailed for me, particularly scientific ones.
  15. NatGeo

    NatGeo sun's coming up
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    I personally use wikipedia for a lot of stuff, though not necessarily for schoolwork, just for casual searches and things like that, though I will use info if it is allowed and seems accurate enough.

    As for its accuracy, that's a bit up to debate. I often get replies from science teachers saying that anyone can edit something stupid into it, though I actually tried, and it got reversed. :p

    At the very least, the geology teacher at Trinity University approves it for chemistry.
  16. GMLW

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    I find teachers who don't allow Wikipedia as a resource because it is "unreliable" stupid. Their argument is that because anyone can edit, someone who doesn't have their facts straight could edit in the wrong information. Leaving out the fact that the people who edit usually know what they're talking about, there are two reasons why that wouldn't happen. The first is that Wikipedia is moderated, so incorrect information can easily be spotted and reversed. On a similar note, the same reason the information got in can take it out: If an amateur puts in incorrect information, an expert can correct it. The second reason is that Wikipedia cites its sources. It's either get the information from 20 different websites who are about only one thing, or get it from one.

    That said, Wikipedia should not be your only resource; it is true that incorrect information can get mixed in. However, for basic or somewhat in-depth information Wikipedia gets a thumbs up.
  17. NatGeo

    NatGeo sun's coming up
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    GMLW pretty much hit the nail on the head there.

    Anyways, wasn't Klingon on the Wiki Globe a while back?
  18. Xaqwais

    Xaqwais

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    I'll admit, for assignments where the teacher isn't going to check/I don't care enough about, I'll use Wikipedia as my only source. However going past that, using their citations and the like often lead to legitimate sources, or "good enough" sources for teachers, in any case.

    I've had many heated discussions with my teachers, though, who believe that you can't trust any of the information on Wikipedia due to the fact that it might be tampered. Regardless, happy birthday Wikipedia!
  19. cim

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    The idea that you can't trust Wikipedia versus other sources is wrong. Not because you can trust Wikipedia - but that giving any other source a free pass and Wikipedia extra scrutiny highlights a deficit in critical analysis that researchers shouldn't have.
  20. Staraptor Call

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    When I use Wikipedia, it's to satisfy my own personal curiosity about something, not for serious research. If I want to look up a specific fact I'm wondering about, Wikipedia is often the first place I go.

    Wikipedia is also a great source of information for making fake role PMs in mafia.
  21. v

    v I'm on your six
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    My favorite use of Wikipedia is "Ten Clicks to <proper noun>." While yeah, it's cool for finding sources for projects and stuff, Ten Clicks is a lot more fun. For those of you unlucky enough to have never experienced the beauty of Ten Clicks, here is how to play:

    1) Go to Wikipedia
    2) Pick a proper noun
    3) Type in some random garbage such as aebftesjgbejf or efjbseojrhjgf
    4) Hit "random article"
    5) Try and navigate to the article of the noun in question within 10 clicks

    This can also be played competitively, picking a common article and locating it in a lower number of clicks. Ten Clicks to Jesus is the most common variant by far, but it is more fun and more difficult to select a new target each time.

    The trick to playing well is trying to get to a county page in the first two clicks and then navigating to the article using subsections and portals. For example, if I was seeking Jaws and was randomly plopped into like "Red Crested Warbler" I would find "USA" in the article, and then go to USA and then to "Film in the United States," where a link to Jaws would not be hard to find.
  22. manav95

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    Wikipedia is where I learned pretty much everything. I find that the most inaccurate information on that site is statistics describing the number of something like the amount of Kurds in Turkey because some editors want to manipulate those statistics to fit their views.
    Mostly its if I need to quickly check info about a game or movie to satisfy my curiosity. Sometimes I use it for a project but I do know that my teachers would disapprove of its use.
  23. Thorns

    Thorns

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    i call those wikiraces. we did them in irc a long time ago
  24. Nails

    Nails EAST 2014
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    Also fun to play with Hitler. Except I used 7 clicks. But same concept.

    Another variant is to click random article, hit it again, and try to get back to the first one. Fun stuff to do when pkmnz gets boring.

    As far as actual discussion, I have nothing to add that hasn't been said regarding accuracy of content or anything
  25. Xaqwais

    Xaqwais

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    That's an argument I give students, saying that some students will get their info from some blog post or some untrustworthy thing like which might be even more likely to be wrong, but Wikipedia is automatically rejected.

    They retort saying "oh well they should be getting their info from .edu's and .gov's but when teachers assign obscure assignments, good luck getting info on that.

    tl;dr: Screw highschool.

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