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People Don't Know Wikipedia's Solyent Green is People


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People Don't Know Wikipedia's Solyent Green is People


Rex Hammock advises people not to take what they read in Wikipedia - or anywhere for that matter - at face value. Rex, I agree, but I have a feeling most people who visit Wikipedia have no idea that its Solyent Green is made out of people. They stumble upon it through Google and think it's managed by a scholarly body like Britannica. Hopefully this will change as more people realize they are the next Google.


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Sunday, December 04, 2005 in Citizen Journalism, Wikis | Permalink






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Funny, Steve. You are so correct. I've spent lots of time poking around Wikipedia in the past few weeks and agree that, unfortunately, users (who, as you say, most likely find their way there via Googe), don't take time to click on the discalimer link at the bottom of every page. I hope the John Seigenthaler issue and the Adam Curfuffle will help raise the awareness of a broader audience that, despite it tasting good and being filling, Wikipedia is, indeed, people.


Posted by: Rex Hammock | Sunday, December 04, 2005 at 10:08 AM


For me, the key difference between Wikipedia and a traditional commercial reference work is this: No one contributing content to Wikipedia has anything of importance riding on the accuracy or authoritativeness of their work. Regardless of the nature of whatever contributor ranking system it may use to anonymously grade contributors, there's nothing like the threat of a missing paycheck to keep people in line. Until Wikipedia comes up with an equivalent, or better yet just starts paying professionals to do the job, it'll remain a lark based on the bogus notion of the intelligence of crowds.


I find using Wikipedia amusing and sometines interesting, rather like posing a question to complete strangers at an airport bar. No way I'd trust them; no way do I trust Wikipedia.


Posted by: jc | Sunday, December 04, 2005 at 11:14 AM


I not only agree we should take Wikipedia with a grain of salt, I think we should openly criticize the very model itself.


There is a Bii difference between Britannica's errors of fact (dates, places, etc.) and outright character assassination that can be found on Wikipedia. I am disturbed by all those who claim that errors in Wikipedia are "quickly fixed," by the army of volunteers. That may be true of high-profile public figures whose entries are read daily. The big problem on Wikipedia has to do with the scores of entries on lesser-known figures who don't have the "Wikipedia army," looking out for their posts. 99.9% of the volunteers wouldn't know a fake biography from a real one with some of these lesser-known figures. Wikipedia's anything-goes brand of "scholarship" is irresponsible and should not be praised in the name of "freedom" or anything else.


Posted by: Gerard Morentzy | Sunday, December 04, 2005 at 03:32 PM


It will be interesting to see what happens when everyone realizes that anyone can edit Wikipedia. Are there enough high level editors to handle a ten fold increase in updates?


It is not exactly correct to think that Wikipedia is just an Encyclopedia edited by all of us. There are administrators in charge of locking articles when they are attacked by spammers, and rolling back incorrect edits.


I love Wikipedia and I hope they have the staff and the servers to handle their exponentially increasing popularity.


Posted by: Adam Saunders | Sunday, December 04, 2005 at 04:05 PM


I've think the John Siegenthaler case is important here. We're already seeing the mainstream media take some pretty serious shots at Wikipedia in the wake of Siegenthaler's USA today piece. Here's a transcript of an interview Siegenthaler gave Friday on MSNBC, in which he said that nothing in Wikipedia could be trusted and that its accountability claims are not valid. The anchor agreed wholeheartedly.


Posted by: Scott | Sunday, December 04, 2005 at 05:51 PM





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