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Challenge Match: The Vagabond vs Skyfloating: 'Handy'pedia or 'Handi'pedia?

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posted on Jan, 30 2009 @ 05:12 PM
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The topic for this debate is: "The Benefits Of Wikipedia Far Outweigh Its Disadvantages"

The Vagabond will be arguing the pro position and will open the debate.
Skyfloating will argue the con position.

Each debater will have one opening statement each. This will be followed by 3 alternating replies each. There will then be one closing statement each and no rebuttal.

There is a 10,000 character limit per post.

Any character count in excess of 10,000 will be deleted prior to the judging process.

Editing is strictly forbidden. For reasons of time, mod edits should not be expected except in critical situations.

Opening and closing statements must not contain any images and must have no more than 3 references.

Excluding both the opening and closing statements, only two images and no more than 5 references can be included for each post. Each individual post may contain up to 10 sentences of external source material, totaled from all external sources.

Links to multiple pages within a single domain count as 1 reference but there is a maximum of 3 individual links per reference, then further links from that domain count as a new reference. Excess quotes and excess links will be removed before judging.

The Socratic Debate Rule is in effect. Each debater may ask up to 5 questions in each post, except for in closing statements- no questions are permitted in closing statements. These questions should be clearly labeled as "Question 1, Question 2, etc.

When asked a question, a debater must give a straight forward answer in his next post. Explanations and qualifications to an answer are acceptable, but must be preceded by a direct answer.

This Is The Time Limit Policy:
Each debater must post within 24 hours of the timestamp on the last post. If your opponent is late, you may post immediately without waiting for an announcement of turn forfeiture. If you are late, you may post late, unless your opponent has already posted.

Each debater is entitled to one extension of 24 hours. The request should be posted in this thread and is automatically granted- the 24 hour extension begins at the expiration of the previous deadline, not at the time of the extension request.

In the unlikely event that tardiness results in simultaneous posting by both debaters, the late post will be deleted unless it appears in its proper order in the thread.

Judging will be done by a panel of anonymous judges. After each debate is completed it will be locked and the judges will begin making their decision. One of the debate forum moderators will then make a final post announcing the winner.




posted on Jan, 31 2009 @ 05:03 PM
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Here we go again. My thanks to Memoryshock for so quickly setting this up, and also to my opponent skyfloating for being so ready to jump on the challenge. Also my thanks to the judges (who I would at this point like to beg not to render a decision of "tie"- it's bad enough that somebody good is destined to lose this debate, so it may as well not be both of us).



Friends and fellow debaters, fear not. For although my opponent's position drips with elitist contempt for humanity and intellectual authoritarianism, we can rest assured that my opponent did not choose his position and is only following orders. And besides, The Vagabond is here to defend all that is good and decent on the interwebs... and also the nudity, time permitting.

Meet your adversary fellow ATSers: Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing Our Culture (For those who don't follow literature, please note that the long title means it's a ranty pile of self-righteous garbage).

Andrew Keen is aging, wrinkled, ugly, British, and he hates puppies. He also thinks you're full of crap and that our society should be actively shushing you to prevent your idiocy from spreading.

Keen is one of the more recognizable faces in the cacophony of criticism against Web 2.0 which is characterized in large part by interactive and user-generated online resources like Wikipedia and AboveTopSecret.com. These critics come from a variety of angles, but almost invariably share a preference for more traditional, more exclusive media, crafted by an elite few providers and primarily intended for use by relatively few cash-paying end-users. In short, they want you to buy their books about stuff instead of googling it, and they don't want to hear your feedback. Which might explain how a rant that most of us would have thought better of posting ended up hard-bound with Keen's name on it- he must have needed botox money.

That is what this debate comes down to: whether our communications systems and vast reserves of information will be managed by an aristocracy or a democracy. And make no mistake, I speak of democracy not only idealistically, but pragmatically. There is a market for information. Therefore under a free and democratic system, the internet becomes a meritocracy. The "elite" and "professionals" will not be lost. They will merely have to compete and succeed or fail on the merits of their ideas and information.


The democratic system that is at work on wikipedia is unparalleled in other media. Print media, be it the New York Times, a best selling book, or even a peer reviewed technical or scientific journal will be filtered through the narrow understanding of 1, 2, half a dozen, or in the very best cases, several dozen people, often with very similar backgrounds.

These ivory tower experts get a group of masters and doctorate holders to sit amongst their book cases and set down the immutable gospel on how to build a skyscraper, as if every aspect were as easily done as it is said. How many of the construction workers do they talk to though? Every male in my immediate family tree for the last 3 generations has worked on skyscrapers at some point in their career so we might know a thing or two about it. There isn't one standard way of doing most things, though some ways are superior to others. The guys in Las Vegas are light years ahead of most. But the people who know that, and the people who can make valuable contributions, are not being asked in traditional, exclusive, pay-for-access media. Even magazines and training schools run by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners haven't been able to distill all of the information out there for easy access. Some things you'll only ever learn if you can gain access to a hand full of old men who would tell you if you asked, but who aren't going to just stumble onto a book deal and accidentally spread that knowledge for all, unless highly open venues like wikipedia continue to grow in reach.

Wikipedia is different. Wikipedia is open. Many different people- hundreds or even thousands of them- can add their research, their unique experience, their expertise, strictly on the merits of what they know and how well they can support it, and not simply on the basis of who they know, as is the case in more exclusive media, where people who really want to be heard may need to hire an agent just to have their existence acknowledged.

The elitists counter that the openness of wikipedia is purchased at the expense of quality. They do not believe that among so many voices, the wheat can be adequately separated from the chaff. They believe that the ability of anyone to become an expert without the traditional exlcusive screening processes creates a high volume of low quality analysis. They even believe that this openness can be intentionally exploited for purposes of misinformation.

This is ironic because it betrays a fundamental lack of faith in the intelligence of the consumer, and therefore in the free market system itself, even while Andrew Keen argues that web 2.0 is utopian and socialist in its conception. This glaring contradiction which lies so shallow beneath the surface of the entire argument illustrates the fact that this controversy is primarily the creation of a fear-mongering elite motivated not by a goal or a point of view, but by a desperate realization that after years of comfortable supremacy they must at last compete in a dynamic environment.

And what of this destruction which today's amateur-run internet is supposedly visiting on our culture. Did any of you actually see wikipedia murder our culture? What's even wrong with our culture?

Amateurs on the internet didn't bring our economy to the brink of collapse- they were the ones mining gems from the few people who saw what was happening and trying to warn us, even as the vast majority of the experts were screaming "full steam ahead!" into the ice pack. Most of the "experts" in traditional media were laughing at Peter Schiff, while wikipedia's web 2.0 cousins, including our very own ATS, have been the ones giving him an audience.

And where were the traditional media against the war in Iraq? They were airing commercials for the war before it started. They were't pouring over the evidence. If you wanted to know what was going on at the beginning of the war, you had to go look at the evidence for yourself. And wikipedia was there for that. There was controversy. There was a collision of ideas. Exactly what SHOULD have been happening in our society at large DID happen on the internet, including a high demand for EVIDENCE. Unlike the "experts" in the traditional media, the amateurs get picked apart for anything they can't back up. If you don't trust wikipedia, you go to the bottom of the page and check the source documentation, and you've got a lot of resources at your fingertips for finding previous discussion and searching for additional documentation. When you don't trust Fox News, all you can do is go get the same weak content from a similar source- unless of course you turn on the TV and do a little research.

Wikipedia's ease of access, broad range of sources, open and usually transparent management, adaptability, and even the healthy degree of skepticism to which it is subject make it an extremely advantageous tool to have in our arsenal. And for these unique benefits which so nicely shore up the failings of other media, we pay no price that we do not also pay in other media.

Wikipedia is, of course, imperfect. It is not the one and only source for information, it is not the form most appropriate to all pursuits, but it offers important advantages not found in most other forms for an extremely low premium in terms of disadvantages, and it's proper place in and contribution to public discourse in our world deserves to be acknowledged.

PS Sorry I didn't get around to defending online nudity yet- I should probably stick to the topic at least for starters though.



posted on Jan, 31 2009 @ 05:06 PM
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My opponents rants will be addressed in my second post. Allow me to first present my opening.

Wikipedia - Behind the Veil

Wikipedia is my favorite source of information. I rely on it on a daily basis for research, for entertainment, for learning and even for business. I rely on it so much as an all-knowing, all-seeing Wizard, as the legendary "Akashic-Records" come manifest, that I at times become lazy and unwilling to confront its dangers.

In this Debate of global interest it is my task to remind myself, my esteemed opponent and the readers at large, that, as much as we appreciate this revolution in info-access, this ultimate form of democracy and user-generated content, that there are darker implications...some of which are already known, some of which many are yet unaware of.

Do the benefits of Wikipedia outweigh its disadvantages? Yes, in my opinion. They do. Do the benefits of Wikipedia far outweigh its disadvantages? No, they dont. Not if we factor in its shadow aspects as I will in this Debate:

1. Wikipedia as a Propaganda Tool

I will prove that Wikipedia has been and still is being used as a Propaganda Tool by Governments, Lobbies and Intelligence Agencies to manipulate public perception.

2. Wikipedia as a covert advertising Tool

I will prove that Wikipedia has been and still is being used as a tool by marketers, marketeers, "viral advertisers", "guerilla marketers" and con-men to manipulate public perception.

3. Wikipedia and Censorship

I will prove that "alternative", "unofficial" and "non-consensus-reality" information such as is popular on this website, ATS, is actively discouraged, removed, censored and ridiculed by a type of "Wikipedia-Police".

4. Wikipedia and Errors

I will prove that, due to the democratic nature of Wikipedia, where not only experts can post entries...but anyone can...the error margin is significantly higher than that of conventional Encyclopedias.

5. Wikipedia and Copyright Infringement

Another problem in Wikipedia are the massive amounts of information that are supposed to be "copyright protected". Lifted from thousands of books, sites and media, Wikipedia apparently breeds the "nevermind the artist or authors rights, all information is free" attitude. This is like Communism-in-action as it does not reward individual expertise and creativity but implies that this expertise need not be paid for. Who is going to want to take the time and labor to do proper research anymore if its not paid for?

6. Wikipedia and Laziness of Thought

On a more philosophical note (apart from all the facts I intend to point out) I would like to explore how the ready-made info offered by Wikipedia breeds "laziness of thought" and dulls down ones ability to think for oneself, research for oneself, dig deeper, rely on ones own intuitive and common senses. This is my experience as a writer. I am a writer of books and articles on alternative subjects and use Wikipedia frequently for reference and research. Oftentimes I have discovered that - had I not looked up alternative sources of information - I would have been misled or had an incomplete picture of a topic. More later.

Example/Case 1

Various other researchers will be helping me in this Debate. One of them is Phillip Coppens and his article The Truth and Lies of the Wiki World which I highly recommend to ATS-Readers and anyone who wants to look behind the veil.

Phillip Coppens likens Wikipedia to a modern-day "Ministry of Truth" (see George Orwells classic book 1984) and cites several examples of omission, error and even blatant propaganda. Just one example retells the case of the journalist John Seigenthaler, on which there was an anonymously written article linking him to the assassinations of JFK and RFK.


His Wikipedia entry stated: "For a brief time, he was thought to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John and his brother Bobby. Nothing was ever proven." And: "John Seigenthaler moved to the Soviet Union in 1971, and returned to the United States in 1984. He started one of the country's largest public relations firms shortly thereafter."


As hilarious this may be to us, it was shattering to Seigenthaler, as none of it was true outside of Wikipedia...not even remotely. Whats worse is that whatever is on Wikipedia is quickly spread all over Google and the Internet or by automatic feeds to sites such as Reference.com and Answers.com which copy from Wikipedia verbatim without any checks. And thus:


Seigenthaler noticed that his "biography" was altered on 26 May 2005. On 29 May, one of the site's moderators edited it only by correcting the misspelling of the word "early" but did not check the other, much more serious, alterations. For four months, Wikipedia depicted him as a suspected assassin...


When Wikipedia finally altered the entry on the 5th of October it was already too late...the info remained on Answers.com and Reference.com for another few weeks and probably even longer on Google.

Socratic Questions to The Vagabond:

1. Do you agree that Wikipedia allows one to spread Disinformation rapidly?

2. Do you agree that Experts know more about their field of expertise than the broad majority?

3. Do you agree that it is better to rely on numerous sources in the Internet than only Wikipedia alone?

4. If involved in a million-dollar-deal would you rely on wikipedia for information on how to design a contract, or would you have a lawyer write that contract for you?

5. If writing a work of science, which source is preferable: Wikipedia or Encyclopedia Brittanica?



posted on Feb, 1 2009 @ 04:08 PM
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Intro

My opponents rants will be addressed in my second post. Allow me to first present my opening.


Please note: my opponent HAS addressed my rant; He just said nothing about it. Why not? He had 40% of his character limit left.

You see, my opponent is correct that my opening was a rant. It charicaturized my opponent's position with examples of the weakest, contradictory arguments against wikipedia. But then my opponent repeated them as his own, as I will show. He couldn't refute my opening because his own opening affirmed it. So he just dismissed it as a rant.

In this post I will preview the inherent contradictions in each point of that my opponent has listed in his opening, and how each of those contradictions attempts to deny an advantage that wikipedia offers over other media.


Definition
My opponent already admits that wikipedia's advantages outweigh it's disadvantages. He admits that he uses it himself. He even admits that he does not have the intellectual discipline to use it responsibly (Let's hope he can do better with the sources he chooses for this debate).

So the bar hasn't exactly been set high. He's clinging to a single word for his defense: "far".
By precisely how much must wikipedia's advantages outweigh its disadvantages? Many ounces or many tons?
The field of statistics has a tool for deciding how much is too much, and the best part is, you won't even need a graphing calculator to learn from it.

In statistics, standard deviation is how far off from the average you expect each measurement to be. A measurement that is twice as far away from the average as expected has statistical significance- the difference is too great to ignore.

I propose a similar measurement of the advantages and disadvantages of wikipedia. If wikipedia's advantages outweigh its disadvantages by twice as much as you would expect from an average information medium, I propose that we consider that "far outweighing" the disadvantages.

So let's start looking at Wikipedia's advantages and disadvantages as they measure up against the other media we rely on.

Disadvantage #1: Media as a propaganda tool

How does wikipedia handle propaganda? Wikipedia's Jessica Lynch article first showed that the Jessica Lynch story was propaganda on 26 May 2003 according to the history page.

How did NBC handle that propaganda? They made a movie about it, that Jessica Lynch refused to even finish watching because of its many inaccuracies (wikipedia article section.

02:20, 26 May 2003 Kchishol1970 (Talk | contribs) (Added the allegations about Lynch story being distorted into a propaganda exercise)


Which demonstrates significant advantages of wikipedia
Wikipedia told the truth while NBC literally created a work of fiction. And I can prove it like nothing. Let's see my opponent give us a COMPLETE verbatim accounting of how other sources covered that story.

Isn't that awesome? Does TV news give you a searchable index of everything they ever said about a given subject and which one of their people said it, including a date and time- even when that information shows that they aren't perfect? Because Wikipedia does. That is a significant advantage.

Disadvantage #2: Media as a covert advertising tool
You mean that people would actually disguise advertisements as objective information resources to dupe an unsuspecting public? I'm not sure I believe that.

Well I didn't but now I do, beacause after saying I don't believe it, I looked it up on wikipedia.
Video News Releases It turns out it's a legitimate problem that the FCC has had to work to contain.


In April 2005, the Federal Communications Commission warned television stations that they could be fined for airing news stories provided by the government and by companies without disclosing who made them [3].
In May 2006, FCC chairman Kevin Martin ordered a review of airing of VNRs by television stations, following the April 2006 report by the Center for Media and Democracy.[8]
In August 2006, the FCC mailed letters to the owners of 77 television stations, asking for information regarding agreements between the stations and the creators of VNRs. The letters also asked whether there was any "consideration" given to the stations in return for airing the material. Stations have been given 60 days to respond


The use and misuse of news releases for traditional media has been taught in college courses (and exceptional highschool courses) for decades. And when you catch somebody doing it in the traditional media, there's not much you can do.

So again, wikipedia has an advantage.
You can present the facts and get propaganda removed, or tagged with a disputed neutrality warning on wikipedia, unlike with the mainstream media. Furthermore, tools such as wikiscanner allow corporate edits to be tracked and dealt with far faster than the FCC- which waits till it's got 77 cases saved up that have already come and gone unopposed, and then gives the offenders months to come up with a lie to cover themselves.

Disadvantage #3: Media and censorship
I am anxious to see my opponent show that wikipedia's insistence on solid evidence, which does make it a more mainstream source than ATS, is a disadvantage, even though that conflicts with his claim that wikipedia is too open to errors. Since he has not actually presented any argument on this subject yet, but merely promised one in the future, I'll be patient before I jump all over this one.

Disadvantage #4: Media and errors
All media is subject to error. Wikipedia is hardly the only source of poorly researched theories on the Kennedy assassinations. Such rubbish has its very own library of congress designation (it's E842.9).

As previously discussed, wikipedia is far more responsive than other media. Can you imagine what trouble Phillip Coppens would have had if Oliver Stone had made a movie instead of some schmo making a wikipedia entry?

Disadvantage #5: Media and Copyright infringement
There are ample laws protecting intellectual property holders from such infringement. Any medium which is responsible for such infringement could quite easily find itself bankrupt. Yet wikipedia survives. So this is a matter of illegal misuse by users, and wikipedia makes all reasonable efforts to avoid such misuse, and thus is not responsible.

So a private individual can go on wikipedia and commit a crime despite the best efforts of wikipedia to stop them. Let's close wikipedia.
Let's also close all of our university campuses, because students might commit plagiarism in their papers, despite the best efforts of the faculty to stop them.

And yet again, my opponents objection to wikipedia actually highlights an additional advantage of wikipedia

Why do people go to wikipedia to get several paragraphs of material from an expert for free when they could get several hundred PAGES of the same stuff also for free at the public library?

Because wikipedia utilizes a superior media- the internet. If content producers would put their stuff online, they could bypass the expense of agents, publishing companies, printing, shipping, etc, while also increasing their market, enabling themselves to make as much if not more money on their work at a nominal or even no cost to the end user, depending on the extent to which they capitalize on revenue sources such as advertising and purchasable premium service levels etc. Competing with wikipedia should not be difficult for these venerable old sages, who my opponent would have you believe to be far more trustworthy than wikipedia.

But they don't. They cling to outdated media because the inefficiency breeds exclusivity and limits competition. If they had to compete they'd have to up their quality- they'd have to be faster in production, more exceptional in their expertise, and would have to appeal to a wider audience. Otherwise known as a competitive free market environment. Except by my opponent, who calls it communism, as I predicted.

Disadvantage #6: Media and Laziness of Thought
Again my opponent points to potential misuse by the end user. In this case misuse that he himself admits to being guilty of.
One wonders how my opponent forgot that wikipedia is not an infallible compendium of all truth, considering that wikipedia tags controversial articles for disputes of fact and neutrality.

Friends, if you use the media, be it Wikipedia or Fox News, in a stupid way, then it will create problems. If you use INFORMATION ITSELF in a stupid way, that will create problems. Despite a few bad apples, I trust you, for the most part, to think. I think we need information so we'll all just have to do our best to use it responsibly.

What did I tell you about Andrew Keen and his anti-wiki ilk? They think you're stupid and they don't trust you. My opponent read that. He didn't have to go ahead and make an argument that proves me correct. But he did. My opening rant is starting to look oddly prescient, for a rant.

SQ Answers:
1. No. What Fox News does is rapid. Discussions take time, and they happen on wikipedia, unlike Fox.
2. More than the majority, yes. More than everyone, no. Thus open media does represent an improvement none the less.
3. Numerous sources are good. Wikipedia links to other sources cited with a tap of your finger. Does the TV? The Newspaper? Books?
4. Wikipedia; I'm broke.
5. Either is but a starting point, not an indepth source. I want a broad and up to date starting point with a reviewable editorial history. I choose Wikipedia.



posted on Feb, 1 2009 @ 07:10 PM
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Wikipedia: 30 000+ plagarised entries and unvetted "Experts" with fake credentials and how we misuse Wikipedia to advertise our Businesses

The Vagabonds case in quotation marks, followed by my rebuttals.



my opponent's position drips with elitist contempt for humanity


Actually I was just pointing out some of the less than perfect aspects of Wikipedia.



Andrew Keen is aging, wrinkled, ugly, British, and he hates puppies.


Never heard of him. Neither am I using him for my case.



He (Sky) admits that he uses it (Wiki) himself.


Denying I use Wikipedia is supposed to convince whom? Pointing out that I use it proves what?




Wikipedia told the truth while NBC literally created a work of fiction

What Fox News does...


TheVagabond has chosen to stray off Topic by comparing Wikipedia to other media. The Debate topic however, is not "Wikipedia is better than other Media or other Info-Sources". If we're going to play the comparison-game I can do that too:

When looking for information in the Internet, do you first type the keyword into Wikipedia or into Google?

Most will answer “Google”. Why? Because they know Wikipedia is limited. Typing a keyword into Google will often also bring up a Wikipedia entry but you are not limited to that. Google is the better alternative. When looking up a science-subject you will also find articles in well-researched science-magazines, peer-reviewed articles and so forth. Wikipedia most often offers nothing more than a SYNOPSIS. And thats what Encyclopedias are for: To offer a small part of an overall subject. They are by no means meant to substitute research and comprehensive learning and building of knowledge.

TheVagabond continues with similar comparisons for the rest of his post, so allow me to refute with this:

Just because other media are guilty of similar errors or faults does not make it OK on Wikipedia. And all in all it certainly does not prove that Wikipedia hardly has disadvantages or that it has less errors than journalistic works of research:

Example/Case 2

Another case described by Philip Coppens (same source as above) shows how in the virtual world nothing is as it seems. Deception and Fraud run rampant. The case is that of “Essjay”, one of Wikipedias most prolific article writers and editors who had the world thinking he was a professor of religion with advanced degrees in theology and canon-law. It turned out that he wasn’t really. He was a college-dropout. He contributed more than 20 000 Wikipedia entries.


no one vetted his credentials and when his claim to be a tenured professor of religion at a private university was accepted


He was recruited to Wikipedias “Arbitration Committee”, granting him almost unlimited editing powers which might have easily been abused to spread disinformation. Even the printed press got hold of his name and praised him as genuine. It was researcher Daniel Brandt of Wikipedia Watch (another highly recommended website from which I will be citing) who exposed Essjays fake credentials and bio. This revelation forced newspapers to retract their praise and Wikipedia to ask him to resign. Wikipedia was forced to admit:


"As a result of the controversy, Wikipedia users began a review of Essjay's previous edits and discovered evidence he had relied upon his fictional professorship to influence editorial consideration of edits he made. 'People have gone through his edits and found places where he was basically cashing in on his fake credentials to bolster his arguments,


So much for the truth, trust, integrity Wikipedia is rumoured to promote.

Judges, Readers, Opponent: Are incidents such as this more likely to happen on NBC, The Washington Post or Wikipedia?



So a private individual can go on wikipedia and commit a crime despite the best efforts of wikipedia to stop them. Let's close wikipedia.Let's also close all of our university campuses


Faulty Comparison. Its much easier to commit a copyright crime at a place that has so many daily edits and contributions nobody can possibly keep up with it. And who said anything about closing Wiki? Im just providing a balance to the commonly held view that wikipedia is THE reliable source of information. On the fact that copyright infringement is an issue in Wikipedia specifically:

Example/Case 3

Judges & Readers, if you do have the time, check out Plagarism by Wiki-Editors.

In sampling 1% of the entirety of Wikipedia and running them through Google while at the same time ruling out "Public Domain" Documents (Documents that are no longer Copyright protected) Researcher Daniel Brandt came up with a conservative estimate of 2% of all articles being plagarised. I ran this through my calculator and saw that this would be roughly 30 000 Plagarised Entries

This is pretty insane...except for the "information must be free for all" crowd my opponent seems to be embracing.



So again, wikipedia has an advantage (re: covert advertising)


Actually no. Its much more difficult to detect product-placement and covert advertising on Wikipedia. I know this because I've utilized this weakness before and felt ashamed in doing so. I have a friend whose products are plastered all over wikipedia without anyone having the slightest clue that he put them there or objecting to them. Myself, Im a writer of books and one of the simplest exercises in product-placement would be to edit my books into the "Reference Lists" of all the subjects and topics it matches. UGLY but true.

_________________________________________________

Wikipedia Co-Founder Larry Sanger left Wikipedia to make "a better Internet Encyclopedia", one more peer-reviewed.

SQ1: Did Larry Sanger leave his own baby, Wikipedia, because of its disadvantages?? A Yes or No answer will suffice.

SQ2: How, in your opinion, could Wikipedia be improved?

There is an "alternative wiki" called The Red Pill

SQ3: Why do you think it was necessary to create this alternative?

SQ4: Do you enjoy relying on self-proclaimed "experts" who fake their credentials as "good sources of information"?

Conclusion: The Vagabond is pretending that this Debate is about "Internet vs. Old Media"...which it isnt. Its about Wikipedias Pros and Cons. Wikipedia is a good beginning, but its best not to rely on it too much but use Search Machines to bring up more variety, depth and therefore ***TRUTH.***. So there are indeed a number of disadvantages to Wikipedia that make it impossible to say "the advantages FAR outweigh the disadvantages"



posted on Feb, 2 2009 @ 05:51 PM
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Recap

My opponent has ignored several key points of argument in order to construct a straw man of my position, so I would like to begin with a recap of key points.

My opponent bases his defense on the term "far outweigh" in both of his posts so far. He has offered no definition of that standard.

I have proposed a statistical-analysis-inspired standard: if the net advantage of wikipedia is twice the standard deviation from average for other information sources, that is significant, and should satisfy the "far outweigh" standard. My opponent does not challenge this. He simply ignores it.

The above standard, which stands unchallenged at the moment, requires a comparison and contrast of wikipedia's advantages and disadvantages with those of other information sources. My opponent says this is off topic. This is a strange contradiction since he too has involved other media in the discussion, measuring wikipedia against Encyclopedia Britannica, The Red Pill, NBC, The Washington Post, and Google.


Just because other media are guilty of similar errors or faults does not make it OK on Wikipedia. And all in all it certainly does not prove that Wikipedia hardly has disadvantages

I do not claim that Wikipedia "hardly has disadvantages", nor do I claim that two wrongs make a right. As explained above, I claim that by the prevailing standards of quality and error seen in the information marketplace as a whole, wikipedia's advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

To that end I have shown and will continue to show that wikipedia's disadvantages are less serious than those of other information sources, and that it boasts vital advantages over other sources. My opponent has failed to address the majority of my points in this area of the debate, but before continuing I will refute the few counterpoints he has made.

Further Rebuttal
Wikipedia versus Google
My opponent asks whether online research begins with Google or Wikipedia. He believes the answer is Google, because of the VAST amounts of information it can turn up, compared to the more limited scope of wikipedia articles. He fails to realize that wikipedia's more basic approach actually makes it the logical starting place.

If you're already reasonably well informed on the subject of your research, Google is wonderful on its own. But when you're starting with less information, a quick look at wikipedia can give you the general understanding that you need to Google effectively for more indepth information, and may even render that unnecessary as more in depth sources may be linked right from the wiki page. Wikipedia can better equip even the most novice researcher to ask better questions, making it a highly advantageous compliment to Google; In essence a patch for the fact that Google is, at this time, basically a library with a decimal system but no catalogue.

Furthermore, My opponent's own source says:

This entire effect is turning Wikipedia into a generator of spam. It is primarily Google's fault


Wikipedia or the Internet?

The Vagabond is pretending that this Debate is about "Internet vs. Old Media"...which it isnt. Its about Wikipedias Pros and Cons.

My opponent attempts to negate some of wikipedia's advantages, such as its interconnection to more indepth sources, as an attempt to change the subject from Wikipedia to The Internet. The two however are not mutually exclusive. Wikipedia is one part of the internet. The advantages of the platform do translate into advantages for the site itself, which not all other information outlets can offer. Although some other sources are online, not all of them are, and this necessarily means that wikipedia's advantages as an internet site outweigh the average in that category. Significant advantages over the average in the market is what this is all about, as I have explained.

Example/Case 2
My opponent is investing a great deal of effort into proving that wikipedia contains false information, and that some of the experts on wikipedia aren't really experts. That much is true. But the decisive factor is preponderance of advantages over disadvantages, and whether that preponderance of advantages is great or small by the measure of an information outlet.
My opponent admits as much when he finishes his Case 2 by asking:

Judges, Readers, Opponent: Are incidents such as this more likely to happen on NBC, The Washington Post or Wikipedia?


The answer may surprise you, especially since it came from my opponent:


Even the printed press got hold of his (Essjay's) name and praised him as genuine.


But other sources don't just make the same mistakes as Wikipedia. They have a few of their own. Perhaps you've heard of Dr. John Gray, author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. It took Newsweek 3 years to check the biography of the best-selling author and discover that both his BA and MA were unaccredited (his PhD is too). Even after that, the guardians of "expert" status took another 5 years to close down the sham university that gave Gray his PhD.

But at least they got a lid on it finally right? Surely the rest of the industry deals with these people better than wikipedia and others dealt with Essjay, right?
No, John Gray, despite the fact that he has no real education and has been widely dismissed in his field for hocking chauvanistic generalities in lieu of valid relationship advice, can still boast coverage from noteworthy media on his web site.

Plagiarism
From my opponent's own source on the sampling of wikipedia for a plagiarism search

I started with a list of 16,750 Wikipedia articles. They came from a partial list of Wikipedia biographies of persons born before 1890. There was no reason for this, other than the fact that the list was available and the size was manageable.

So right there my opponent's source admits that he is not using a random sample and has not undertaken any of the due dilligence one might expect from a supposed expert attempting a statistical study of plagiarism.

In point of fact, by choosing biographies of figures from an era that predate most mass media and therefore do not have much "common knowledge" content, but limiting that era to a period recent enough that most books on the subject would still be under copyright protection, Brandt very carefully homed in on a section of wikipedia that could reasonably be expected to suffer more plagiarism.

And what results did he get? He started with 16,750 Wikipedia articles and he found 142 instances of plagiarism. That's 0.8% using invalid methodology.

My opponent said 2%. His source said:

I found plagiarism in about one percent of those I examined.

The NUMBERS say 0.8%.
Stack the deck, add 25%, double it again, then ASSUME that's conservative. No wonder my opponent's beloved "experts" always seem to have the facts on their side.

And while we are talking about people just tossing around unsubstantiated claims let's look at my opponent's compelling argument on advertising on wikipedia versus other sources.

Actually no. Its much more difficult to detect product-placement and covert advertising on Wikipedia. I know this because I've utilized this weakness before and felt ashamed in doing so.

No facts or figures, no rationale, just some guy online coming at you with "Because I say so". I gave you a side by side comparrison of the FCC trying to deal with public relations tripe being passed off as real news and wikipedia dealing with viral marketers. The FCC waits until it's too late to do anything about 77 cases and then gives the offenders 2 months to lie about the agreements and financial transactions related to the event. Wikipedia fixes it and moves on.
My opponent's rebuttal? Basically a big "Nuh-uh!"
And Once Again, My opponent points out an advantage of wikipedia

Myself, Im a writer of books and one of the simplest exercises in product-placement would be to edit my books into the "Reference Lists" of all the subjects and topics it matches.

I've been touting the open and competitive information marketplace that wikipedia offers. And my opponent makes clear an opportunity that wikipedia offers. If my opponent feels his actions are ugly, perhaps he is misusing wikipedia once again. Yet there is no reason he couldn't benefit form using wikipedia properly. If my opponent shares small morsels of his intellectual property on wikipedia and cites his books, if the market likes what he's selling his edits will stay up and he will gain a following and have a greater market for his work. It's a shame that he chooses the ugly way instead.

Answers and SQs: (in reading these, please note that "yes or no will suffice" is not a valid instruction- feel free to read the rules on explanations and qualifications to answers.)

1. I think No, but could be wrong, as your question calls for speculation on a stranger's motives.

2. A further development of Wikipedia's already existing "protected" status, which is often implemented to protect high risk pages from disinformation and vandalism, would extend wikipedia's advantages even further in my opinion.

3. I didn't say it is necessary, you did, without presenting supporting evidence, or for that matter without even knowing what the subject of this question would be, as it was contingent on question 2.

4. No, and thus I don't. Unlike those who bought Dr. Gray's book.

Question 1. Does 0.8 = 2? (I'll settle for a "conservative estimate").



posted on Feb, 3 2009 @ 08:59 AM
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How Wikiscanner blew the lid off the cesspool and how innocents lives were destroyed through Wiki-sourced Propaganda

"The world needs a more credible free encyclopedia"
- Larry Sanger, Co-Founder of Wikipedia, Founder of "Citizendum".

Opening-Note: Other Media having similar problems does not excuse Wikipedia. It instead proves that Wikipedia is not the vanguard of "freedom" most people are led to believe it is.

Example/Case 4

Thank God for Wikiscanner.

Created by Virgil Griffith Wikiscanner allows one to search millions of annymous Wikipedia entries and to trace them back to their IP addresses to reveal their origin. Thanks to this it was possible to see how, among many others, the following organizations were manipulating and white-washing Wikipedia pages:

* Exxon Mobile
* US Congressmen
* The CIA
* The Church of Scientology
* The Vatican
* The US Democrat Party
* The US Republican Party
* Diebold
* The Dow Chemical Company

and many, many others.

Disinformation is a menace to society and Wikipedia offers an easy-to-use platform for just that. Still think Wikipedias advantages far outweigh its disadvantages?

Example/Case 5

Thanks to The Independent for uncovering this amazing story...


Taner Akçam, a Turkish historian and writer. Akçam faces prosecution in Turkey for writing about the Armenian genocide. However, due to the vandalising of Akçam's Wikipedia entry, which accused him of being a member of a terrorist group, he was detained by Canadian border police on 17 February 2007.



Akçam was detained yet again – for another hour – by US Homeland Security
1

All this on the basis of false Wikipedia entries.

If we follow my opponents Debate-Strategy up to now, we can predict that he will be citing examples in which similar happened in regular or other media. So again:

***Other Media having similar problems does not excuse Wikipedia. It instead proves that Wikipedia is not the vanguard of "freedom" most people are led to believe it is***


Example/Case 6

The case of "pseudophysicist" (according to Wiki) Jack Sarfatti exemplifies what some people have called "The Wikipedia Police" - Moderators who monitor certain pages constantly, especially in regards to the topics conspiracy-theory and the paranormal. After libellous information about him had been entered he tried undoing that information only to find that it had been erased by Wiki-Moderators within minutes. Source Some examples talked about in the source article:

* Most Wikipedia entries on the mystery subject Rennes-le-Chateu were posted by the Skeptic Paul Smith. Phil Coppens tried editing instances of blatant bias out and replacing them with more data...but his edits were soon erased...despite Wikipedias reputation of "neutrality"

* A concerted effort to erase posts referring to the 9/11 Truth Movement is obvious. The page "People Questioning the 9/11 Commission Report", for example, no longer exists.

For more examples see Source. Sarfatti concludes that Wikipedia has set up a Virtual Shadow Government in which they now have their own courts to adjudicate "litigation".

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why "alternative Wikipedia" sites such as "The Red Pill" have sprung up.

Formal Rebuttals

TheVagabonds statements in quote brackets.



My opponent bases his defense on the term "far outweigh" in both of his posts so far. He has offered no definition of that standard.


We are obviously not dealing with objectively measurable physical objects here but with the subjective world of mind and emotion. In light of all the disadvantages I've shown I dont think any Debate Judge can agree with "its advantages far outweigh its disadvantages".



requires a comparison and contrast of wikipedia's advantages and disadvantages with those of other information sources.


Of course. Of course. Just as long as that does not turn into saying that my position is "pro Television" for example.
My position is: Wikipedia is far from perfect. It should be used as an additional source of info, not as the main source of info.



My opponent asks whether online research begins with Google or Wikipedia.


No I didnt. I asked whether one would type a keyword first into wikipedia or into google. Since Wikipedia results are normally contained near the top of the first page of google, among other top-results, most people will naturally gravitate toward typing the keyword into google first and then click on Wikipedia or any other source.

If you are wondering where you can buy a bra for your wifes birthday, do you type in bra in Wikipedia or Google? If EVER then most would only start at Wikipedia for scientific research.



(quoted) This entire effect is turning Wikipedia into a generator of spam


Precisely.



wikipedia's advantages as an internet site outweigh the average in that category


Precisely. I have never questioned whether wikipedia has advantages. It does. Just has it has disadvantages.



The answer may surprise you, especially since it came from my opponent (referring to the printed press picking up on Essjays story)


So the fact that NBC and the Press copied false information from Wikipedia instead of more accurate information from news agencies (Reuters, AssociatedPress) makes not Wikipedia look bad, but regular media? Nice attempt at spin. I would say it makes BOTH look bad.



No, John Gray, despite the fact that he has no real education and has been widely dismissed in his field for hocking chauvanistic generalities in lieu of valid relationship advice, can still boast coverage from noteworthy media


Yes. Quite unfortunate that the bad habits of the mass-media in general have spilled over to Wikipedia and...(as Wikiscanner has shown) become even worse.




Question 1. Does 0.8 = 2?


The fact that Brandt only assessed 2.83 sentences per article and only sampled a tiny portion of Wikipedia, and considering the fact that if you change the wording of an article a little bit it is no longer considered plagarism even 2% is an extremely conservative estimate. But even if we took your numbers that would still be an awesome amount of plagarised articles from the 1.46 Million+ it contains. So even if I do concede this point to you, it does not change the sad fact of plagarism being easy on Wikipedia.

Referring to me editing Wikipedia for my business advantages, my opponent says:



No facts or figures, no rationale, just some guy online coming at you with "Because I say so"


Luckily no figures/facts are needed here because ANYONE can go to Wikipedia RIGHT NOW and test it out. Just add a relevant book title to some article. Its as simple as that.

Responding to my question on Larry Sanger, my opponent says:



I think, no.


Co-Founder of Wikipedia Larry Sanger left Wikipedia to create CITIZENDIUM because he felt that Wikipedia was not reliable enough.


The project aims to improve on the Wikipedia model by providing a "reliable" encyclopedia
1



A further development of Wikipedia's already existing "protected" status...


In Mid-Debate my opponent concedes that wikipedia would have to improve its protection from disinfo and vandalism. This means that the as-is situation is disadvantageous, to say the least.

SQ2: Do you agree that the Creation of "alternative-Wikipedia" such as "The Red Pill" or "Citizendium" speaks volumes about the weaknesses of Wikipedia?

SQ3: Would you say that in the case of book-format Encyclopedias it is known who edited the book?

SQ4: Do you agree that, for scientific research, Citizendum is more credible than Wikipedia?



posted on Feb, 4 2009 @ 01:29 AM
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Real life took a little longer than usual today, so I'll be using my 24 hour extension and posting tomorrow. Sorry for the brief delay.



posted on Feb, 5 2009 @ 04:35 AM
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The first thing I would like to address is my opponent's tendency to play fast and loose with the truth. It's one thing to state the facts favorably. It is another to mistate the facts.
My opponent asked me how wikipedia could be improved. I answered.
My opponent asked me why I thought this was necessary. I made it clear that I didn't say it was necessary.

My opponent then came back and said:

In Mid-Debate my opponent concedes that wikipedia would have to improve its protection from disinfo and vandalism.
(emphasis mine)

And need I even make further mention of my opponent's source that misrepresented the results of a basic math equasion, and my opponent's attempt to defend the idea that a result of 0.8 can magically become 2, much less his repeated omissions from quotes by me which dramatically changed the meanings of the quotes?

It might be helpful when reading this debate to actually compare the things that my opponent says with the things that I said and the things his sources said. It should prove enlightening.

So, onward.
My opponent is attempting to prove that the advantages of wikipedia do not far outweigh its disadvantages. It has nothing to do with wikipedia being "the main source of info" as my opponent stated in his last post.

How do we answer this question? Obviously we need to "weigh" both the advantages and disadvantages then, and measure the difference between the two.

My opponent has listed several disadvantages to wikipedia. But he has made virtually no claims regarding its advantages other than the fact that they exist, and he has not proposed any standard for drawing the line on the term "far". He has made few substantive rebuttals, leaving many points unchallenged and offering no factual support for others, even going so far as to change a result of 0.8% instances of plagiarism to 2% with no solid mathematical basis for selecting that number.

How can my opponent possibly prove his case in this manner? How can you check the balance between two things if you don't put both of them on the scale?

My opponent claims that after loading one side of the scale with disadvantages that there is no need for him to establish any limitation on the advantagesof wikipedia, because no amount of advantage could far exceed the disadvantages. In order for this to be accurate, the disadvantages must be infinite.

In short, to prove that the balance lies in our favor, each of us must seek both to establish a lower limit to the weight of our side of the scale, AND an upper limit for the weight of our opponents side, in order to prove the preponderance of points on our side.

Unlike my opponent, I have addressed all of the vital elements of the problem.
I have several times plucked points from my opponents side of the "scales" as it were and deposited them on my own side, showing that wikipedia actually demonstrates an advantage over other sources of information in transparency, in responsiveness to market forces, in compatibility with the values of a culture that believes both that knowledge is power, and that power should be controlled by the people.

According to my opponent's own source, it is Google's fault, not Wikipedia's, that sites copying from wikipedia are degrading the quality of Google search results.

By my opponent's math, 98% of wikipedia's content is either original or has been properly obtained to be shared by anyone who needs it, compared to only 2% that my opponent claims to be plagiarized.
When you do the math CORRECTLY, it's more than 99% legit.

Wikipedia offers over a million articles, some with hundreds of facts in them, and the vast majority of them are dead on and trustworthy. A few immature individuals and a few more corrupt ones create a few problems, as is the case with all media, but unlike other media, absolutely anyone can make a FULL review of all changes that have been made, and using wikiscanner can determine the culprits.

Bottom line, wikipedia has a larger collection of information than most media, is more accessible than most media, is more transparent than most media, more in line with our shared values of freedom, and has a much greater advantage to disadvantage balance than other media. When my opponent wanted to find a rival for wikipedia, where did he go? To other wiki sites. Apparently the only thing that comes close to wikipedia is a wikipedia knockoff.

And what of the really big disadvantages? Our friend with the border problem for instance; let's consider his case.
Wikipedia didn't arrest him. Wikipedia doesn't even carry handcuffs. Allow me to suggest that when a government treats you like a terrorist on the word of an unknown stranger with no evidence, you've got bigger problems than what's written about you on wikipedia; your main concern should be getting the heck out of said country before they make you learn to goose step.

In fact let's make a socratic question out of that one:
SQ 1. Does Wikipedia have any responsibility to restrain the US and Canadian governments from arresting people based on gossip?

and for good measure,
SQ 2. Do the advantages of literacy far outweigh the disadvantages of literacy?

Or what about that intellectual property communism that was such a big deal earlier, but ended up with my opponent only presenting us with 142 actual instances of plagiarism and a bunch of bad math. That's the best we've heard.
If wikipedia is a well known plagiarists clearing house that gets top google results, there should be literally thousands of authors lining up and bringing successful lawsuits. Afterall, let's not forget that we're talking about a crime here. You've seen the FBI copy warnings on all of your movies. 30,000 criminal and civil offenses displayed in one of the most public venues on Earth is a bit much to miss... even for the feds. That doesn't ring true.

Answers to SQs
(no question 1 seems to have been asked)


SQ2: Do you agree that the Creation of "alternative-Wikipedia" such as "The Red Pill" or "Citizendium" speaks volumes about the weaknesses of Wikipedia?


No I do not. It demonstrates only that wikipedia does not hold a monopoly.


SQ3: Would you say that in the case of book-format Encyclopedias it is known who edited the book?


Yes, however the presence of a name is far less reassuring that the presence of a complete record of the entry's evolution and all discussion pertaining to its development. I'll take useful information over names any day.


SQ4: Do you agree that, for scientific research, Citizendum is more credible than Wikipedia?


No I do not. Citizendum has fewer than 10,000 articles- less than 1% of wikipedia's size. The odds of getting any answer at all for a given question are therefore significantly lower at Citizendum.



posted on Feb, 5 2009 @ 07:51 AM
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Making good use of Wikipedia without blind trust

Some opening quotes from Educators/Universities themselves:


"Many educators agree ... that Wikipedia is a valuable place to start research, but should not be treated as an authoritative source."

"But even then it takes a lot of practice to recognize when an entry might be more or less reliable."

"By centralizing history, we've made its modification by those who would control us easier, not harder."

"...announced a policy last week forbidding students from citing Wikipedia articles in research papers."
Source

I dont believe in lying just to win a debate. This is why I started out this debate by admitting that, in my subjective opinion, Wikipedias advantages slightly outweigh its disadvantages. Would I otherwise be using it?

Its benefits are that I have easy and quick access to a synopsis on almost any subject I wish to get an overview of. Its benefits are that nobody needs to get paid to contribute. Its benefits are that power is put in to the hands of each and every individual. We love that!

But with those benefits comes a seductive lure...the tendency to use it all the time, the tendency to become lazy, the tendency to aggrandize and glamorize its benefits, the tendency to exaggerate its authority. In in doing so we give power away. Power then no longer rests on our ability to think-for-ourselves, double-check and conduct deeper research but on Wikipedia as "the" source of information - and thereby the source of our reality. This is why I am warning of saying Wikipedia is much better or far outweighs its disadvantages.

Information determines our perception of reality. Lifting any ONE media or info-source to the throne of knowledge will ultimately result in Orwellian standards where "if its not on Wikipedia its not real".
Believe it or not, some goofs on these messages boards are already behaving as if that were so. May the info presented here be an early warning.

Debate Judges, beyond the petty distortions of this Debate, consider these two sentences side by side:

"The Advantages of Wikipedia outweigh its Disadvantages - but lets remain aware of its shortcomings"

and

"The Advantages of Wikipedia far outweigh its disadvantages".

The latter statement is precisely the sort of thing you'd expect from someone who is wearing rose-coloured glasses on the subject.

Now I do understand that TheVagabond is just as eager as I am to "win the Debate", but I do not think the truth need be distorted in order to win it. My opponent could have focussed on as many advantages of Wikipedia in and of itself as possible instead of trying to point out its advantages compared to other sources (such as John Gray) - a strategy that fails because as many sources my opponent can come up that are similar or worse than Wikipedia, I can offer sources similar or better than Wikipedia.

_______________________________________________________________

Formal Rebuttals



much less his repeated omissions from quotes by me which dramatically changed the meanings of the quotes?
It might be helpful when reading this debate to actually compare the things that my opponent says with the things that I said and the things his sources said. It should prove enlightening.


Here my opponent is probably referring to the quote "This entire effect is turning Wikipedia into a generator of spam" in which I ommited the rest of the sentence: "and this is Googles fault".

To which I will respond: No matter whos "fault" it is, Wikipedia is quoted as being a generator of spam. I understand this was used to undermine my preference of Google...but I found it to be useful for my case as well.




And need I even make further mention of my opponent's source that misrepresented the results of a basic math equasion, and my opponent's attempt to defend the idea that a result of 0.8 can magically become 2


Alas...if you'd like me to concede to this very minor Debate point I hereby do. It does not change the fact of more plagarism than in ANY OTHER CONVENTIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIA. And yet...my opponent wastes a lot of debate space by continually bringing it up. In fact...his last post alone brings it up 3-4 times. Why? Because he does not have much else against me.




My opponent claims that after loading one side of the scale with disadvantages that there is no need for him to establish any limitation on the advantages of wikipedia, because no amount of advantage could far exceed the disadvantages. In order for this to be accurate, the disadvantages must be infinite. In short, to prove that the balance lies in our favor, each of us must seek both to establish a lower limit to the weight of our side of the scale, AND an upper limit for the weight of our opponents side, in order to prove the preponderance of points on our side.


Nonsense. This sounds like someone wanting to quantify poetry or measure love. We are dealing with the subjective here. TheVagabond is saying much better and Im saying a little better. But to be frank...after having done research for the purpose of this Debate I dont know if I can EVEN say that anymore




Wikipedia didn't arrest him. Wikipedia doesn't even carry handcuffs.


Oh its not the informations fault, its the governments? Throughout history belief-systems, memes, and disinformation have been the primary cause of our troubles. Because it was believed that women who handle herbs are "witches", they were burned. Because it was believed that "Jews are Evil" they were mass-murdered. False Information has always been the originator of trouble.



SQ 1. Does Wikipedia have any responsibility to restrain the US and Canadian governments from arresting people based on gossip?


The primary fault lies with the Government relying on Wikipedia as an authoritive source...inspired by beliefs such as yours. The secondary fault lies with Wikipedia itself for providing a platform for libel and misinfo.


SQ 2. Do the advantages of literacy far outweigh the disadvantages of literacy?


In my entirely subjective opinion yes.

On the question whether he thinks Citizendum is more credible than Wikipedia:



No I do not.


...citing the amount of articles on Wikipedia as compared to Citizendum as a reason.


My opponent must think that "writing more" makes something more factual or credible.

Maybe this is why, in the FCP-Thread he mentions having reached his word-count maximum and within this debate points out that I have not reached my 10 000 word maximum.





If wikipedia is a well known plagiarists clearing house that gets top google results, there should be literally thousands of authors lining up and bringing successful lawsuits.


Some find this helpful: Can you sue Wikipedia?

Its not that easy to sue Wikipedia because it is not Wikipedia publishing the material, its the individuals publishing it. Individuals hiding behind anonymous screennames.




A few immature individuals and a few more corrupt ones create a few problems, as is the case with all media, but unlike other media, absolutely anyone can make a FULL review of all changes that have been made, and using wikiscanner can determine the culprits.


Except that methods to evade Wikiscanner are already being used in the form of encrypting ones IP address...


_______________________________________________________________

For consideration: Conventional Encyclopedias...

...cannot be vandalized

Snapshots of Wikipedias Vandalism

...are unlikely to contain plagarism

...are written and reviewed by experts

...are more reliable

...universally pass as an authorative source

...are unlikely to allow Scientology or Exxon Mobile to edit things out

_______________________________________________________________

SQ1: "Dont trust anyone who hides behind a screenname" - What do you make of that saying?"

SQ2: When looking for a bra as a gift...is Wikipedia your first choice?

SQ3: When researching conspiracies of the CIA...is Wikipedia your first choice?

SQ4: What do you make of WikiScanners findings?

SQ5: When looking for conspiracy-info on the JFK-Assassination, who would you place more trust in - a guy called anon1318cz or a guy called Jim Marrs?



posted on Feb, 6 2009 @ 04:10 AM
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What if we applied my opponent's line of argument to the entire internet?

What if you had to use your full legal name online? What if everything that anyone ever put on the internet got checked by the government and deleted if it didn't meet gov't standards? What if it cost 10 dollars an hour to be online?

You wouldn't become dependent on the internet because you couldn't afford to use it all the time. They could get rid off all the false information. They could make sure there was never any theft of intellectual property.
Would that be an improvement? Would that reduce the disadvantages of the internet more than it reduced the advantages?

I say no. If we do that, the advantage we lose is freedom. And the only disadvantage that we lose is the inconvenience of having to think about what we read and make up our own mind about how reliable it is.

That's what it comes down to people. Wikipedia is trusting the people too much. It's not conducting enough surveillance on the people, it's not engaging actively enough in censorship, and it's too cheap and too easy to use. I don't see those as problems. The other side does. Where do you stand?


Ladies and gentlemen, I've laid my case out for you. I've shown you the many contradictions in my opponent's position, and I've gone virtually unchallenged in listing significant advantages of wikipedia over other sources of information- my opponent has had all the opportunity in the world to address the evidence, but he was content to make ominous warnings and not worry so much about rounding his case out with facts or any kind of consistency whatsoever.

Will you allow fear to get the better of you as you consider the question before us? Do you fear that wikipedia offers such awesome advantages that it will make you too lazy to think for yourself? Do you fear that wikipedia will somehow completely replace all other media and monopolize your world view? Do you fear that you'll be in desperate need of a bra, but be unable to get one because you can't remember to go to the store instead of wikipedia? These are in effect the fears my opponent relies on.

Nothing in this debate stipulates that Wikipedia must monopolize information. It doesn't have to be the only source of information, it doesn't even have to be the very best. The only question is whether the advantages of wikipedia far outweigh its disadvantages.

Of course all things do have their disadvantages.
The advantages of literacy far outweigh the disadvantages of literacy for example, but if you choose to instantly believe everything you read without applying critical thought to it, then all of your money will end in the hands of Nigerian scam artists. But the answer isn't to be illiterate; the answer is just to apply a little brainpower to the things you read.

And even that doesn't make the world perfect, because some people will intentionally misuse good things, as my opponent plainly admits to misusing wikipedia. But will we sacrifice good things, lest they be misused?

(Oh, about the advantages of literacy outweighing the disadvantages: you're going to have to take my word for it. I tried to ask my opponent but he didn't answer).

My opponent's fearmongering even goes so far as to suggest that wikipedia brought the police down on somebody as a potential terrorist. He does not think the government is responsible for its misdeeds, but disinfo in wikipedia is.
He equates it to women being burned over disinfo abou them being witches.
That proves my point, not his. The problem is that they are burning women. Would it have been OK to burn women alive if that information about their religious beliefs had been true? NO!
And would it have been OK for the government to treat rumors as fact if they had just luckily been right? No!

My opponent is more than willing to deny the facts. In my last post I did quite heavily belabor the point that 0.8 is not 2. Why did I spend so much space on it? Because that's how much work it took to get my opponent to admit to even the most immutable logic.

If he can dispute that, he can dispute anything. But don't mistake a response for an answer. Sometimes it's just words.

Like when my opponent claims wikipedia is rife with criminal activity, but that we dont hear about it because they can't catch the people doing it. But Metallica has no problem catching people who do it to them. Apparently a washed up group of sellout metal heads has something to teach all those nerds at Citizendium. Either that or my opponent is just pulling his rebuttals out of thin air.

Likewise when my opponent dismisses my preference for wikipedia as a preference for quantity over quality. It's a matter of AVAILABILITY not quantity. Citizendium only answers 1% of the questions that wikipedia can answer for you. If you're fortunate enough to have a nice common question that would have certainly been answered on an obscure little knockoff site like that, by all means use their answer. But 99% of the time, you'll end up back at wikipedia even if you do start at citizendium.

You can object to anything. Coming up with a better idea is trickier.
As my grandfather liked to put it, "Only a few men can build a barn, but any old jackass can kick the door down". My opponent's got objections to wikipedia falling from his ears. But has he got a better idea? No. He's all about citizendum. The same technology from the same person as wikipedia. Why Citizendium? Why not Britannica as before? I can explain the change.

It's because my opponent found something about about Britannica when he was reading his own sources.
PhilipCoppens.com


On 15 December 2005, various media sources reported that the open-access encyclopaedia Wikipedia was about as accurate as the online Encyclopaedia Britannica, at least for science-based articles. This was the result of a study by the journal Nature, which chose scientific articles from both encyclopaedias across a wide range of topics and sent them for peer review. The reviewers found just eight serious errors. Of those, four came from each site.


Do you believe in the internet? Do you believe in freedom of information? Do you believe in transparency in the media and in democracy?
Or do you believe that it's safer if you just focus on being afraid all of the time?

Answers to Socratic Questions

SQ1: "Dont trust anyone who hides behind a screenname" - What do you make of that saying?"


I think it means that we should distrust a guy named skyfloating. PS, call me Tom.


SQ2: When looking for a bra as a gift...is Wikipedia your first choice?


Definitely. I don't know spit about bras, but judging by the commercials, it sounds like they are almost as complicated as women themselves.
So if I was going to buy a bra for the first time, I'd want to educate myself a little first. Then I'd make the actual purchase elsewhere.

I know that sounds silly. You may not even believe that I'm being honest. But that's because you haven't considered the hillarity that would ensue if a guy like me just waltzed into Victoria's Secret unprepared and tried to wing it.


SQ3: When researching conspiracies of the CIA...is Wikipedia your first choice?

Y.E.S. And I'm glad you asked. Wikipedia was one of only two sources that proved to be absolutely indispensible in my research of the situation in Somalia and the surrounding region, which I began several years ago when the Somali pirate situation was first emerging. The quality information I received and my ability to use it properly and think for myself regarding that information led me to correctly forecast a war in Somalia.

I use wikipedia, and I knew that Ethiopia was going to invade Somalia before it happened. Most people didn't even know about it after it happened. A huge amount of the info is in This thread and it should take you right to a post that provides the actual quotes for the prediction.


SQ4: What do you make of WikiScanners findings?

What I make of it is that major corporations thought they could lie on wikipedia with the same impugnity they've enjoyed for decades in other media, but instead they ended up being busted VERY early on in wikipedia's life- (remember, Wikipedia is turning 8 this year- it hasn't topped out yet but rather is still improving. Soon it will become even more powerful... and in about 5 years it will grow hair in funny places and start thinking about girls).
Back on point though, I make this out to be because wikipedia, along with many other internet sites, is part of a smarter media that tends to be used by a more savvy group of consumers, and they aren't as easy to mess with as TV audiences.


SQ5: When looking for conspiracy-info on the JFK-Assassination, who would you place more trust in - a guy called anon1318cz or a guy called Jim Marrs?


Although I love Mr Marrs' work, particularly that which he has done in cooperation with ATS, I must take anon, and I have a very good reason why. I believe that if somebody had the correct answer to the JFK conspiracy, and his name was public knowledge, that person would be killed immediately. Jim Marrs is alive. But for all I know, anon1318cz might be dead. Those evil wikipedia mods probably shot him for posting the truth about JFK. And even though anon theoretically may have already given his life for Wikipedia, I still think it's worth it.

I thank the readers, Memoryshock, my opponent, and of course the judges for taking the time for this debate. I hope you've enjoyed it.

But just in case you didn't, here's that defense of online nudity that I promised you at the beginning (contains mature humor but no actual nudity) Avenue Q: The Internet is for...



posted on Feb, 6 2009 @ 06:27 AM
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The mixture of disinformation and people placing naive trust in Wikipedia is what makes this an important unresolved issue that effects Millions.

Formal Rebuttal

My opponent makes some unfortunate debate-choices in his last post. He tells us he prefers anon1318cz over Jim Marrs, that he goes shopping for bras in Wikipedia, and prefers to find info on the CIA in Wikipedia...the very place the CIA has been proven to manipulate pages. Any semi-aware reader clearly sees that my opponent has crossed the line from normal debate-bias to blatant dishonesty.

In large parts of his post my opponent goes on a lengthy line of thought that is completely off topic. He is assuming that I am for us giving up our anonymity and privacy. This is untrue. My previous SQ on anon1318cz was meant to show that it is more likely to get reliable information from someone who can be held accountable than from any mr. anon. In suddenly acting as if it is my position for us to give up our freedoms and rights my opponent is trying to save a battle lost by preying on resident conspiracy-theorists votes. It has NOTHING to do with my position though...at all:




Do you believe in the internet? Do you believe in freedom of information? Do you believe in transparency in the media and in democracy?


* Deleting a false Wikipedia Entry does not require of us to reveal our true identity or "give up our privacy* or even democracy

My opponent also says:



Oh, about the advantages of literacy outweighing the disadvantages: you're going to have to take my word for it. I tried to ask my opponent but he didn't answer


I did answer with "In my entirely subjective opinion YES". When a Debater has to resort to so many lies in one post, there can only be one reason for it: He's run out of arguments and is now reeling on the brink of surrender.

_______________________________________________________

Summary

As per Debate Topic I have pointed out Wikipedias disadvantages and backed them up with references and proof:

* The case of journalist Seigenthaler who's reputation was ruined by disinfo posted.

* Unvetted "experts" and frauds as employees

* Plagarism and Copyright Infringement run wild

* Google broader in scope and therefore first choice

* Wiki-Alternatives (such as "The Red Pill") for alternative-information.

* How easy it is to manipulate for advertising purposes

* Wikiscanner having revealed the depths of disinfo. Attention: Just because Wikiscanner revealed the propaganda does not mean its over, as my opponent tries to spin it. It just means that these organizations will now have to conceal their IP-addresses!

* Cases of people being detained for false information the Government got off Wikipedia. (The extent to which even governments trust Wikipedia as a "reliable source" IS troubling)

* Citizendium as the better alternative when it comes to peer-review, reliability and facts

* Evidence of a kind of "Thought-Police" (see the Sarfatti example)

* Educators/Universities saying Wikipedia is no authoritative source

* How Wikipedia breeds laziness-of-thought.

* How easily it is Vandalized

* Its disadvantages toward conventional Encyclopedias

___________________________________________________________

Conclusion

Wikipedia has millions (if not billions) of raging fans. My opponents position was easy. All he had to do was appeal to what everyone already believes anyway. Fortunately I have succeeded in proving that not all that glitters is gold.

All considered, do Wikipedias advantages outweigh its disadvantages? After this debate I am not so sure anymore. Some of the articles I have been reading for this debate contained info that was new and shocking to me. I guess I will still be using Wikipedia...but will be taking it with a grain of salt. Do Wikipedias advantages far outweigh its advantages? I think its safe to conclude with conviction: Certainly not! And even if so, my opponent has not shown enough that would indicate that. I`d have been more challenged had he focussed on building his own case rather than trying distort my points...which are frankly difficult to distort.
Had I had my opponents debate side I would have used books such as the groundbreaking "Wikinomics" to argue my case, not John Grays "Women are from Venus, Men from Mars"


What is needed for the Future? Up to now we have too many teachers, governments, researchers, and also posters on this website, relying too heavily on this one source as "the" source. The public needs to be made more aware of Wikipedias darker implications. The publics scope needs to be broadened to alternatives such as Citizendium for more reliable quality or even this Website, ATS, for more alternative information (forget trying to find anything out of the ordinary on Wikipedia). Wikipedia needs more staff because there are just too many changes taking place on a daily basis for the small group of employees to keep up.

In school: Children need to be taught how to deal with the new challenges of the Information-Age. How to discern truth from falsehood and political propaganda. How to question things. How to research. We need an honest assessment of the Pros and Cons

___________________________________________________________

Gratitude

I`d like to express thanks to the Debate Forum as a whole. In the past year there has been no other place where I have learned more. This debate alone has driven me to find things out I would have not had a clue of otherwise.

I am also impressed with the level of professionalism and fighting-spirit of the Debaters here...and the Moderators of this Forum: The Vagabond, Semperfortis, MemoryShock.



posted on Feb, 11 2009 @ 06:27 PM
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The judgments are in. The Vagabond takes this by a slim margin.



Debate topic. Wikipedia benefits far outweigh disadvantages.

Vagabond's position - yes, they do.

Sky's position - no, they don't.

----
Vagabond starts out arguing elitism vs. open source.

They do not believe that among so many voices, the wheat can be adequately separated from the chaff


It's as though he's predetermining Sky's stance rather than arguing his own. It's rambling and doesn't really address the advantages. Maybe he thinks they're self-evident, but he never says so.

------
Sky's approach is more to the point. He summarizes the disadvantages.

His points are persuasively argued.

His Socratic points are well-thought out.

Opening round goes to Sky.
-----
Vagabond again resorts to rambling against his opponent while not addressing the issue.

He ends up supporting the wrong thing, i.e. the advantages of free text on the Internet. It doesn't really support or refute the debate topic.

Sky opens with another on-topic position, refuting the opponent’s claims, though rambling that Vagabond's points are.

Sky nails the issues with this comment.

Conclusion: The Vagabond is pretending that this Debate is about "Internet vs. Old Media"...which it isn’t. Its about Wikipedia’s Pros and Cons


Round 2 to Sky
------

Vagabond starts by making claims that, to me, Sky did not assert. The first mention of 'Google' is in Vagabond's post. Sky did not make those claims, though Vagabond says he did.

Once again Vagabond seems to ramble, arguing more by emotion and bluster than by taking on point-by-point, even to the extreme of making claims his opponent didn't make.

Sky comes back with sources and commentary, again on topic about the use of Wikiscanner.


Disinformation is a menace to society and Wikipedia offers an easy-to-use platform for just that. Still think Wikipedia[s advantages far outweigh its disadvantages?


Good comeback.

Sky also nails it with this comment:


If we follow my opponents Debate-Strategy up to now, we can predict that he will be citing examples in which similar happened in regular or other media. So again:

***Other Media having similar problems does not excuse Wikipedia. It instead proves that Wikipedia is not the vanguard of "freedom" most people are led to believe it is***


Vagabond comes back with an unconvincing counter.

-----

Sky opens next with a good quote from Universities, prohibiting the use of Wiki in research papers; quite apropos.

He also gives a good summary of the disadvantages.


But with those benefits comes a seductive lure...the tendency to use it all the time, the tendency to become lazy, the tendency to aggrandize and glamorize its benefits, the tendency to exaggerate its authority.


Vagabond gets off track again being lured into arguing identity theft. His opponent is dictating his argument and he is no longer debating the subject.

As a joke he makes this ad hominem comment:


I think it means that we should distrust a guy named skyfloating. PS, call me Tom.


Not very funny and doesn't add to his credibility and a waste of his character count.

Sky's conclusion and summary is very well done and eclipses his opponent's rambling and mostly off-topic commentary. It's as though Vagabond is thinking the case argues itself. It doesn't.

To me Sky is the clear winner, mainly because he stayed on course, argued the subject and did not ramble into misplaced attempts at humor. He ran the course of his side of the debate.

Vagabond made few cogent points, did not support his side of the case and his conclusion was feeble.

Winner, hands down, is Skyfloating.
-----







The entire debate was an incredible match up of two incredible fighters and there was no disappointment. The back and forth was spot on and I finished each rebuttal agreeing with the fighter who wrote it. There was almost no real flaw in either presentation.

That said, I have to give this to The Vagabond on the slimmest of margins and based on the ethiopa example. He implicitly showed that wikipedia can be used for real world analysis to a fair degree of accuracy. I would have liked to see Skyfloating address this issue as it is an important one. If an accurate picture can be constructed despite all of the disadvantages shown by Skyfloating then how can they be truly detrimental?

On such a small distinction this debate is based on in this judges opinion and that is a tribute to both Fighters. An incredible job on both sides.





This debate was quite difficult to analyse. Both advocates utilised tactics and arguments that occasionally obscured the points presented. Given the match of abilities shown, attempted obfuscation, style and skewing of the topic will be disregarded. I will apply my own choice of definition to the topic phrasing of "far outweigh", and that is "to a considerable degree; very much".

My round-by-round scoring, based on the value of evidence and substantial argument, is as follows:
  • Opening Statement:
    • The Vagabond: 2.0, Skyfloating: 1.5
  • First Reply:
    • The Vagabond: 3.0, Skyfloating: 2.0
  • Second Reply:
    • The Vagabond: 3.0, Skyfloating: 3.0
  • Third Reply:
    • The Vagabond: 4.0, Skyfloating: 4.5
  • Closing Statement:
    • The Vagabond: 3.0, Skyfloating: 1.5
  • Totals:
    • The Vagabond: 15.0, Skyfloating: 12.5
The Vagabond incurred a small point deduction in the First Reply for a non-responsive answer to Skyfloating's Socratic Question #4, which was based on a hypothetical situation.

In explaining my consideration of evidence, here are some highlights from my flow notes:
  • Pro: WP contribution is democratic, allowing access to experts that traditional media does not
    • Con: WP user 'Essjay' falsified credentials and even gained management authority
      • Pro: The printed press was no less susceptible to considering 'Essjay' an expert
      • Pro: John Gray is still incorrectly accredited by the mainstream media
    • Con: WP contributions contain some amount of plagiarised text
      • Pro: Plagiarism study may be non-representative of WP as a whole
      • Pro: No evidence of plagiarism lawsuits has been presented
        • Con: WP's structure make it difficult to sue for plagiarism
    • Con: Ease of copying of unverified information from WP hurts other media
    • Pro: Anonymous sources might enable WP to more accessibly report 'dangerous' information
      • Con: Accountability ensures reliable information, not anonymity
  • Pro: WP is easy for the public to access
    • Con: WP's easy of access encourages laziness of thought and cursory research (subjective evidence)
      • Pro: Public libraries are also free and not difficult to access
    • Con: WP is susceptible to spam, enabled by another new-media resource: Google Search
    • Con: Banning of WP citation from academic papers supports argument that it encourages laziness
      • Pro: Some WP faults are human faults, eg laziness and trust
    • Con: WP is easily vandalised
  • Con: Errors on WP remain mirrored across various websites, even when corrected
    • Con: WP contributor falsely accused Akçam of terrorism
      • Pro: Actions against Akçam are the fault of government deficiencies, not WP
    • Con: WP has shown bias in Rennes-le-Chateu edits, 9/11 page removal
    • Con: WP founder Sanger does not consider WP "reliable"
      • Pro: Offered alternatives to WP are also Wiki-based sites
      • Pro: Sanger's "reliable alternative" has less than 1% of WP's information volume
        • Con: With regard to Citizendum, volume does not equate to value
    • Con: Centralisation of historical information in WP enables easier modification to suit agendas
    • Pro: Study indicates WP is about as accurate as Britannica
  • Pro: WP edit logs provide more transparency and propaganda resistance than traditional news sources
    • Con: The editors of book-form encyclopaedias are disclosed, too
  • Pro: WP automated tools allow faster identification of concerted propaganda efforts
    • Con: Daily volume of WP contributions makes verification difficult and/or impractical
    • Con: WP bibliographies can be easily abused for covert advertising
      • Pro: Opponents evidence of WP product-placement is subjective
    • Con: Automated WikiScanner is not completely reliable, subject to 'encrypted IP address'
      • Pro: Tools like WikiScanner show adaptability of new media such as WP
  • Pro: WP uses a distribution medium (Internet) with less cost overhead
  • Pro: WP can be used for genuine non-biased advertisement without cost
  • Pro: WP offers over a million articles


I would have liked to have seen Skyfloating introduce evidence of less managerial corruption and plagiarism in non-Wikipedia resources. It would have gone a long way to showing a "disadvantage" in contrast to Wikipedia alternatives, were it possible for him to do so.

On points and preponderance of evidence, The Vagabond wins.




I would like to thank both participants, both held their ground equally.
The topic is one I see cropping up more and more, and both of these individuals highlighted nearly every corner one could possibly imagine as far as the pro's and con's of open source information such as Wiki.

That being said..

The Vagabond

You did an excellent job bringing the issue before us through reasonable arguments regarding the fundamental purpose and rights to us all for open information.

I think more importantly you demonstrated that not just open source sites like Wiki are flawed, but Main Stream Media is as well, per your examples on Jessica Lynch.

Skyfloating

You did a far better job of organizing your posts throughout the debate, clearly laying out your stance in an easy to read and comprehensible fashion.

Your examples where as they say, the nail in the coffin. Each case was used to prove your point, "The Wikipedia Police" and the likes.

All in all, I have to give my thumbs up to Skyfloating, from layout to control of the debate and using your examples to drive your points home, I would have to say you won this debate.




Man, what a tough debate. I’m exhausted from just trying to judge it. And I kept getting lost in there … it was like trying to rate ping pong players on form and style while the ball is moving so fast you can’t even see it.

I’m judging in favor of The Vagabond by a slim margin. Skyfloating sort of shot himself in the foot in the beginning by agreeing that Wiki’s advantages outweigh its disadvantages and then hanging the entire debate on the word “far,” which has a rather subjective definition that he didn't quite pin down, although The Vagabond did and it wasn't effectively refuted.

Also, Skyfloating spent time trying to show us how dangerous Wiki is. The thing is, the Bible does a lot more damage in the wrong hands and we still keep it around. In other words, I’m not sure I agree that Wiki itself can be held responsible for how people misuse and abuse it.

The Vagabond did clearly explain the advantages of Wiki, and I thought that comparing Wiki to other sources of information and media had validity. We can’t throw out ALL the media and information sources just because they all have disadvantages, and The Vagabond pointed out that Wiki’s disadvantages are shared by most of the alternatives.

The Vagabond is a master of rhetoric and persuasion, Skyfloating is a master of organization and logic. Both excel at making their opponent sound like an idiot and/or liar.

Anyway, Vagabond gets the win and that’s all the explanation you’re getting. I need a long hot shower now.





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