Friday, December 02, 2005

Taking the Wiki . . .

Newslib has been buzzing the past few days with postings about a false Wikipedia entry. Last Tuesday in the USA Today, John Seigenthaler Sr. discussed his experiences of being the subject of a false biography on Wikipedia, which was copied also to reference.com and answers.com. For four months he was depicted as a suspected assassin of President Kennedy. Much comment from the Newslib crew ranging from outrage to the general view that you should never take anything for granted from Wikipedia without checking against conventional sources as well. Sounds obvious to me, but Gary Price (a man worth listening to) makes the point that while Info pros know this, ordinary punters, "take what they can get and move on". One suggestion was that Wikipedia might like to start hiring librarians to weed out misinformation. Yeah, right, and who's going to pay for it and doesn't this go against the whole Wiki concept?

Anyway, plenty of discussion out there. In October, theguardian asked: "Can you trust Wikipedia?" The article had "experts" rate Wikipedia entries on subjects within their fields. Perhaps it would have been more productive, and in the spirit of the whole thing, if the "experts" just logged onto Wikipedia and corrected the articles rather than sneering at the whole concept of an open source encyclopedia in the national press.

More info here, here and here.

This one will go and on . . .

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