On 7/11/05, Ole Tange <ole at tange.dk> wrote:
> > Wikipedia is made by wiki-fiddlers, a large group of people, mostly
> > without any research experience, who sit refreshing the 'new updates'
> > page, waiting to make their presence felt.
>> I am genuinely curious: How on earth do you know that? And will you care
> to share whatever research you build this on, so others can form an
> informed oppinion?
This one was empirical: I made a change. Suddenly, my change was
grasped by hoards of other morons, each adding their own, useless,
pithy comment. That this can be generalised can be seen by looking at
most pages' history. Just like a post on word 2003 shows the red rag
to some on this list, it appears a virgin edit causes blood lust in
> If I look in my printed encyclopedia I don't even _find_ an article on
> sorting algorithms.
> How many encyclopediae include an entry for the LOC
> record? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LOC_record).
Very true. An encyclopedia is not the place to look for an article on
sorting algorithms or DNS. You should be looking in a text book, or an
RFC. Wikipedia appears to be trying to cover all these bases, and not
doing a terribly good job. I wonder the audience of the LOC_record
page? Who needs to be simultaneously told that 'This information can
be queried by other computers connected to the internet' and provided
with the format of the master file?
> > So I would say that wikipedia has its use, but if you own encyclopedia,
> > you probably want to use them, and wikipedia is a poor substitute. And
> > it's not quotable for any real use.
>> It is really funny, because in my printed encyclopedia Eastern Germany is
> a country. In Wikipedia it says it ended in 1990. So which one would be
> the better one to quote for the college paper?
If its a paper on East Germany, I'd cite the encyclopedia. But I'm not
trying to say that a 20 year old encyclopedia should be cited, I'm
saying that wikipedia shouldn't be.
Incidentally, I note that for a (relatively) huge page, the East
Germany page is a tad low on sources. The current sources are a blog
entry, a page on military history, and a site that you'd never cite
unless you knew a good reason to believe it. (And the last two in
German, so you can't check them). I'd go with a real encyclopedia, or
a good text book.
> Perhaps you will agree that on any research or events happening after the
> printing of the encyclopedia it is better to consult Wikipedia as chances
> are that Wikipedia is more up to date?
More up to date, certainly. And generally decent for a quick overview
of a topic, especially for a non-specialist. But if it's important
enough to demand attribution, I'd look elsewhere.
paul.biggar at gmail.com
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