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Why Have People Problems With Wikipedia?

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posted on May, 9 2014 @ 01:18 AM
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Today I have again seen a number of posts where some referenced Wikipedia as some untrusted or unreliable source of information.
Why is that?

I myself find Wikipedia a very good source of information especially if you want to get a quick gist/overview on a topic you don't know a lot about yet.

The fact that IT IS "semi open" and can in principle be edited and corrected by the common folks is IMHO a good thing, better than a source of information where one single entity is behind where there can be a bias, political etc..

I personally never had the impression to get "wrong" information from Wikipedia, whether it concerns average topics or more "esoteric" and conspiracy topics. HOWEVER, of course I note that looking up conspiracy theories on Wikipedia has often a "debunking bias"....say, if you look up "chemtrails" for example. I usually agree with them since when they have a skeptical/anti-view on something they usually also point out WHY and this usually the same opinion I have.

I cannot help but think that people make comments like "you cite Wikipedia" and then try to ridicule someone because of it (like it's a bad source of information) ...ONLY because Wikipedia as a source of information doesn't commonly agree with their own bias toward a certain belief/conspiracy theory etc.

Example: If someone is 100% convinced that Bigfoot exists and then reads on Wikipedia that "most scientists discount the existence and consider it as folklore" ... they may say Wikipedia is a bad source to get information since it may not 't claim in bold letters that Bigfoot is 100% real and everyone who thinks different is an idiot.

I myself will get my information from Wikipedia first..as opposed to some "shady" sites where usually always someone or a group is pushing an agenda. There is nothing wrong with getting information from Wikipedia. My $0.02
edit on 5/9/2014 by NoRulesAllowed because: (no reason given)




posted on May, 9 2014 @ 01:27 AM
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a reply to: NoRulesAllowed

I've seen this phenomena in many a thread too. Perhaps it is the ease of which Wikipedia knowledge is located that is the problem. People on ATS are always suspicious of the 'easy' answer.

It is however a great starting place for information and it is always well referenced if you want to go deeper into the source of the information.
The other possibility is that Wikipedia's own integrity policy means that some articles will have a warning for the reader that the article needs reworking. It always gives an idea of what's wrong however and you know to check further when the warning is there.

I personally see no problem with Wikipedia and as with any information source, members should check the entire source article themselves if they query its validity.

edit on 9-5-2014 by markosity1973 because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 9 2014 @ 01:30 AM
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It's because wiki is user-generated content. Wikipedia can be used to begin research, but one's research should not end with, nor only consist of wiki.

You have to actually do some RE-SEARCHing (to search again and again) if you want to be taken seriously.


edit on 9-5-2014 by NarcolepticBuddha because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 9 2014 @ 01:34 AM
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a reply to: NoRulesAllowed

Agreed. I don't even bother to cite Wiki but, if you noticed, everything on Wikipedia has a source material entry listed at the bottom. I just find what I want from the page and then cite the source.

Little does anybody know, I'm still citing wikipedia yet, had they known, suddenly the same information would be "invalid".



posted on May, 9 2014 @ 01:53 AM
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i don't like Wikipedia because there has been numerous times I've found information on there which i knew by experience to be proven lies, before those experiences i thought it was a great site, i was proud of its creation, but after those experiences i despise the site, i still often see things on it touted as fact that i know to be wrong,

im not gonna attempt to dig through my memory and link to said examples, that would be an effort to convince you of my own opinion which i wont bother, this thread was merely asking for our opinions, use Wikipedia often enough eventually you will begin to find the contradictions yourself.



posted on May, 9 2014 @ 02:07 AM
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I wrote a little rant about this back in December of 2012 about sources. It's a bit harsh, but then so is the problem at times. Folks confuse what I think of at the 4 levels of credibility.

Sources Sources Everywhere but are they ever used?

It still seems to define the whole thing pretty well, IMO.



posted on May, 9 2014 @ 02:48 AM
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For me wikipedia is just a shoplist and/or recipe to explore a subject.
User generated content can be good but sometimes it is making compromises in their truth and that makes it sometimes hard to known if facts are facts or user generated common sense. A couple of centuries ago wikipedia would have had written the earth was flatso I stand with my first sentence.

For me wikipedia is just a shoplist and/or recipe to explore a subject.



posted on May, 9 2014 @ 04:19 AM
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wikipedia's a great place but being user led its very easy to make errors either deliberately or accidentally plus 4chan likes to raid it every now and again which doesn't help it, but for basic facts like what was x's date of birth or y's military career its normally fine and pretty much all of the facts on there should be verifiable somehow



posted on May, 9 2014 @ 04:34 AM
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Isn't it strange, people who tell us wikipedia is untrustworthy, and yet those same people cover a wall in their home with the biggest wide screen BS device (television) they can afford!

Wikipedia is great, but like ALL sources of info, you should double check it.



posted on May, 9 2014 @ 05:04 AM
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originally posted by: VoidHawk
Isn't it strange, people who tell us wikipedia is untrustworthy, and yet those same people cover a wall in their home with the biggest wide screen BS device (television) they can afford!

Wikipedia is great, but like ALL sources of info, you should double check it.


Exactamundo!
Most starworthy my good man



posted on May, 9 2014 @ 05:48 AM
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As mentioned previously, Wiki is user generated. It has come a long way since its inception in vetting the information, but ultimately it relies on zero expert input.

It should not be used as a source for anything controversial. Ever.

Is it accurate? Often it is a very good place with accurate information, but again, you just can't gain credibility by sourcing it due to the fact that nothing guarantees any kind of verification or expertise.

Wiki is now becoming an acceptable source for commonly verifiable things like math and general science topics that can easily be verified elsewhere, but Wiki just happens to be a compiled/convenient location. Anything controversial, or fringe is never going to have a bulletproof source anyway, so why bother with Wiki.

I guess the message is don't take it personally if anyone questions it. That's what people do here regardless of source. That doesn't mean it isn't true or real. I can't think of a source that wouldn't be questioned on here for any given topic.



posted on May, 9 2014 @ 05:54 AM
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I concur with the ranting bunny...

"Lets work together here to help make this little home away from home online as Golden as it can be for the coming year. Lets work together to help restore that little magic something that make threads here something people are proud to send links to non-ATS members about......not secretly hope they don't find somehow." (Wrabbit 2012)

Reference

Wrabbit. 2012. "Sources Sources Everywher but are they ever used?". Above Top Secret. Accessed 9 May 2014. www.abovetopsecret.com...



posted on May, 9 2014 @ 06:05 AM
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I also use wikipedia a lot, but like any other source, you have to double check. I can remember a study comparing wikipedia with Encyclopedia Britannica which showed that wikipedia actually had less factual errors than Britannica. Cant remember where I read it, but I am sure Google (the other baddie) will find it, lol

What I find worse is that often the same people that complains about using Wikipedia, uses an youtube video without any further references as a source.


edit on 9/5/2014 by Hellhound604 because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 9 2014 @ 06:11 AM
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originally posted by: Hellhound604
I also use wikipedia a lot, but like any other source, you have to double check. I can remember a study comparing wikipedia with Encyclopedia Britannica which showed that wikipedia actually had less factual errors than Britannica. Cant remember where I read it, but I am sure Google (the other baddie) will find it, lol




This is why encyclopedias were never considered a primary source either. They were never accepted as a valid source for anything but mundane information.



posted on May, 9 2014 @ 06:14 AM
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originally posted by: NoRulesAllowed
Today I have again seen a number of posts where some referenced Wikipedia as some untrusted or unreliable source of information.
Why is that?


In essence, it's the lack of recognised peer review.

If you pull an article out of a credible journal, that article would have been subject to peer review by others with appropriate knowledge in the field. That doesn't mean they will only accept things they agree with, but they will look at the reliability of the sources used, the methodology and arguments - an author might be making a radically new suggestion in a field that goes against accepted knowledge, but it should be backed up with arguments and data that make it credible to accept it as part of the debate. The purpose of peer-review isn't to agree or disagree with the article, but to make sure that there weren't any significant errors in how the author reached their conclusion.

With wikipedia, you have to manually go through that process yourself. If you don't have sufficient expertise in the field, how can you do that to a satisfactory level?

Wikipedia articles now tend to quote peer-reviewed sources, so much of the content (especially technical content) is fairly accurate. In many ways, Wikipedia has become an aggregator of other reliable sources. Still, it should not be used as a source itself.

Think of it this way - if you picked an article from a peer-reviewed journal and the author cited another study in the text, you wouldn't cite the first article as the source of information, you would need to dig up the study they cited and refer to it directly. The first article is just someone's summary of someone else's work - it's second-hand information. You should always try to get as close to the primary source as possible. Wikipedia is the mother of all second-hand information.

Wikipedia is a great starting point for exploring a topic, but it will never be suitable as a citable source - no in its current incarnation, anyway.



posted on May, 9 2014 @ 07:04 AM
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a reply to: EvillerBob

Problem that I have with peer-reviewed articles articles is that some are very hard to find. I subscribe to a number of peer-reviewed journals, from entomology journals to IEEE journals. Problem for the layman is that some of those peer-reviewed articles are not written for the layman, and that it is impossible to get hold of those articles if you dont subscribe to the journal. Many of those journals don't have an on-line index either, especially the more specialized ones, so to find an article, if you can remember in which journal it was, you have to go through a lot of journals. Take for example, I want to refer to a specific insect, and I know I read about iome characteristic in a journal. Most Entomological journals are not international, and dont have an on-line index of articles. Now I have to go through 100's of different journals, just to find an article. If I do serious research, that takes months, that is what I would do.

However, to post a reply to some guy that refers to youtube as his source, I am not going to go through that process, if I can reference to Wikipedia, or Britannica for that matter. In any case, even if i have the article on hand, if I refer to that, you wont be able to get hold of it in any case, unless you subscribe to t hat very same journal too, and in most probability, unless you share a deep interest in that field, you wont understand a thing in that article. If you are a fellow entomologist, you might, but a layman wont. The same applies to any other specialized field.

If I refer to an obscure article in an obscure peer-reviewed journal here on ATS, that nobody would be able to get hold of, would it contribute anything to the discussion? I dont think so. Take for example a discussion on insects, and I refer you to a peer-reviewed article in the "Norwegian Journal of Entomology". Would that contribute anything to the discussion? On the other hand, if I refer to Wikipedia, anybody who has some interest can read more, and if they really are interested they can follow the references in the wikipedia articlle.

edit on 9/5/2014 by Hellhound604 because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 9 2014 @ 08:42 AM
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a reply to: VoidHawk

Wikipedia is a "source" anyone can walk up and change, at will, for any reason.

Should a bathroom wall be a source? It's as reliable, in the same way. It's lazy lazy sourcing...because real sources off Wiki are at the bottom of almost every page there, and those are quite often original or near original sources. The problem is how often that linked source and what is on Wiki? Do not agree 'quite' how they ought to.

FTR...One of the first things I learned about sourcing anything at College? If it says Wiki at the end, it will say 'F' at the start. Simply put, no exceptions given and absolute. They are downright brutal about the word Wiki appearing anywhere, unless a paper is about Wikipedia itself.

Wiki is a reference, not a source, IMO.



posted on May, 9 2014 @ 11:14 AM
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a reply to: Wrabbit2000

On academic stuff I agree, but please see that the OP referred to usking wikipedia here on ATS as a source. Well, the posters that complain the most if somebody uses wikipedia as a reference, are normally the same ones that would post a Youtube video without any other references as a source. Using a youtube video or a blog from some crackpot, is totally acceptable for those type of people that complain about a reference to wikipedia. I would much rather accept a wikipedia reference myself, than what I would accept an youtube video.

Personally, as a kid i read encyclopedias from beginning to end, and that was where all my diverse knowledge comes from. The same applies to wikipedia today. We should rather embrace concepts like wikipedia, and start focusing on being able to sort out facts from chaff. How many university text books have factual errors in them? Quite a lot... Yet, to quote something from a university textbook is somehow 10000x more acceptable than quoting exactly the same thing from wikipedia.

Many scientists complain about not enough kids becoming interested in science, yet they cannot embrace new concepts like wikipedia. Instead of breaking wikipedia off, why not entice kids into the interesting world of science by using something like wikipedia, and teaching the kids how to double check the information on it. The same criticisms that apply to wikipedia, applies to any peer reviewed journal. Peer review does not mean the article is factually correct.

P.s. I am also a wikipedia editor, that is why I view that concept as something we need to carry forward and refine. Of course, it has problems, but normally if somebody states false information, there are just as many knowledgeable people that junps in and correct the information. Wikipedia is like a self-correcting world of knowledge. It is not as though anybody can just change things... There is a process.



posted on May, 9 2014 @ 11:44 AM
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a reply to: Hellhound604


On academic stuff I agree, but please see that the OP referred to usking wikipedia here on ATS as a source.


I understand this isn't Academic here. We'd be citing journal sources and peer reviewed, published articles as a baseline to work up from, if it were. That's a ridiculous standard for an internet forum, and I'd agree completely.

Still, lack of credibility is lack of credibility. ANY source that you or I can edit and modify without supporting that change by something more than having felt like saying it, has no credibility. It simply doesn't. How can it? Who wrote it? What is their background and what personal bias or focus might they have had?

Having said that? I use Wikipedia. Almost every day, I use it. I just never stop there. It's always a jump point to go at least 1 click further to the source of what someone wrote about on the Wiki page. When sourcing it with meaning is just one click more? Why skimp and settle for a public wall to stand behind as factual? Frankly, Wiki is a MUCH faster way of finding directly related sources than Google across the open net is....and it's priceless for that.


How many university text books have factual errors in them? Quite a lot...


You're absolutely right on that. I made a game of spotting and calling the demonstrable errors in one science course, of all things, until I finally lost so much respect for the material and the instructor that I simply dropped it entirely. It's led me to a point where any single source, short of the ORIGINAL source, is a start. 2 is good. 3 is solid. 1 tho?

That's a lead if it's anything where errors are critical for discussion or context. I don't link 2 or 3 or 5 sources...but if it's highly questionable or controversial? I've looked at a few for each I link in a post, at least.


Many scientists complain about not enough kids becoming interested in science, yet they cannot embrace new concepts like wikipedia. Instead of breaking wikipedia off, why not entice kids into the interesting world of science by using something like wikipedia, and teaching the kids how to double check the information on it.


Like I said, I have no problem with Wikipedia, for what it is valuable as. I do use it daily. What schools (as mine is an example of) are showing 0 tolerance for is using a crowd sourced internet listing that anyone can modify as equal to something that has support, serious work done to build it and established credibility for saying it. (Again,..what Wiki almost always has linked by numbered footnote.)

I'd say Wiki is a great way to get kids interested. It's like a Super-Encyclopedia. Just..nudge the kids to go that extra step to source, if it's not a purely personal exploration for curiosity.

For that matter, by the way, I look at Snopes as equally valuable. Would I call Snopes a source? Not on your life..lol.. They often link back TO the sources though, so when I go to Snopes, I merely skim what they have to say ..as someone typed that from their personal interpretation of what I came there for. The source THEY used.



posted on May, 9 2014 @ 12:24 PM
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It all depends on the subject and how you used wikipedia.

For example, in a thread discussing climate I might reference the Younger Dryas and the Neoglacial - and link to the wikipedia pages in doing so. This allows those unfamiliar with the terms to find out what they mean.

However, I would not use wikipedia as evidence to, for example, show when the Younger Dryas began or ended.

In other words, it's a good reference source, but not necessarily good as evidence or proof of a point.



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