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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: September ::
Wikipedia
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0763  Tuesday, 5 September 2006

[1] 	From: 	Gabriel Egan <
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	Date: 	Friday, 1 Sep 2006 14:09:27 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0758 Wikipedia

[2] 	From: 	Kevin De Ornellas <
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	Date: 	Friday, 01 Sep 2006 14:31:33 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0758 Wikipedia


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Gabriel Egan <
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Date: 		Friday, 1 Sep 2006 14:09:27 +0100
Subject: 17.0758 Wikipedia
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0758 Wikipedia

Ike Rodman mentioned the comparison of Wikipedia and Encyclopedia 
Britannica that Nature published.

While on average they may be about the same, there are particular 
problems with Wikipedia's policy of letting anyone edit a page. The most 
famous failing was that John L. Seigenthaler found himself accused of 
complicity in the assassination of American president Kennedy when, to 
'prove' a point in a workplace argument, a user edited Wikipedia to 
present this as a known truth.  That sort of problem does not occur in 
Encyclopedia Britannica.

Last year I set undergraduate student a presentation assignment on the 
notion of the 'unconscious' and it was abundantly clear which of them 
had simply cribbed the Wikipedia entry for this term, which was wildly 
(hilariously) inaccurate. The entry has since improved.

Gabriel Egan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Kevin De Ornellas <
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Date: 		Friday, 01 Sep 2006 14:31:33 +0100
Subject: 17.0758 Wikipedia
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0758 Wikipedia

 >"among 42 entries tested, the difference in accuracy was not
 >particularly great: the average science entry in Wikipedia contained
 >around four inaccuracies; Britannica, about three"

Firstly, 42 is a pathetic sample given that Wikipedia currently boasts 
over 1,300,000 articles in English alone. A survey that compared 42,000 
pieces might have been instructive - a different conclusion would be 
inevitable even if just 420 pieces were compared.

Secondly, for me the major problem with Wikipedia is that users are 
allowed to advertise their own often sub-standard work. For example, a 
chancer called Simon W. Golding has just delivered a vanity-published 
book on Ken Loach's seminal film, 'Kes'. The book is atrocious beyond 
belief: as well as being bereft of filmic insight or even the capacity 
to process basic information, the man literally cannot write a proper 
sentence; there has been no editor to correct his incompetent English. 
But the Wikipedia entry on 'Kes - the film' contains a massive plug for 
this book - one that has to have been placed there by the author or his 
associates. Every time one intervenes, toning down the self-praise for 
this book, one's intervention is quickly vandalised off the site, and 
the glorifying plug for it is restored. This, I am told, is a fairly 
typical Wikipedia experience.

Regarding accuracy, Wikipedia is self-evidently just not reliable enough 
- because of the vanity aspect of it and because of the sheer 
hit-and-miss quality of so many of the entries. I am dogmatically 
banning students from citing it in their essays on all three of the 
Shakespearean modules that I am convening this coming academic year.

Kevin De Ornellas
University of Ulster

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