[oclug] [OT] Wikipedia as Blather
The Linux Doctor
linuxdoctor at linux.ca
Wed Mar 21 16:21:15 EDT 2007
On Wed, 21 Mar 2007 13:38:49 -0400
Andy Civil <andycivil at gmail.com> wrote:
> Brad Barnett wrote:
> > Wikipedia?! Trustworthy?! Are you utterly, completely, and totally
> > insane? ;)
> No, but I've been accused of being a bit weird sometimes :-)
I myself celebrate by weirdness. Being weird is just another way of not
being ordinary, that is to say, extra ordinary.
> I understand your fear about the open nature of it, and I would treat
> views on contentious issues appropriately. However, I've found it a
> superb resource, and always refer to it first.
It isn't the open nature of the Wikipedia that is the problem but the
lack of consistent and universal editorial oversight. It needs to be
run like an Open Source project if it is ever to become a credible
source for information.
> Here's an illustration. I bought a book called "The Ritalin Fact Book".
> It's written by a qualified author who puts his name to it. I read the
> whole thing before I discovered it was a fraud. If I had troubled to
> check Wikipedia
> I would have discovered the truth and saved my time. Which resource
> would you rather trust? I see the benefits of Wikipedia similar to
> Democracy in general - it's easy to criticise, but comes out on top when
> you consider the alternatives...
That works both ways. I note that the "neutrality is disputed" flag has
gone up for that page. That means that his critics and supporters are
battling it out. I find that the Wikipedia is a battle ground for
controversial subjects and people with objectivity and truth, as usual,
being made short shrift.
Even the references supplied in the articles must be carefully
scrutinised as often times supporters of one or another position on a
subject will introduce specious and even scurrilous material. I cam
across one such case a couple of years ago in the article on
Catholicism where reference was made to a book called "Fifty Years in
the Church of Rome" by a certain Charles Chiniquy,a defrocked
nineteenth century priest from Quebec who escaped to the United States
to avoid arrest and imprisonment on charges of theft and fraud. He
faired no better in the US and was put on triad on similar charges in
the States where he was defended by Abraham Lincoln, of all people,
when he was still a lawyer.
In that book, a "must read" for every Protestant Fundamentalist
anti-Catholic, Chiniquy purports to 'expose' all the sins of the
Catholic Church in a tome is practically nothing but lies from the
first page. Of course, his being a former Catholic priest lent credence
to his fictions for, after all, he should know. Chiniquy is also known
as the inventor of the "International Jesuit Conspiracy" which only a
few years later anti-semites plagiarised to develop the "International
So, one must be very careful about what you read on the Wikipedia. I
personally do not trust it for a moment, but I do try to ensure that on
subjects that I do know about that they are at least correct. I have
from time to time edited a few pages and contributed to the
discussions. I hope someday that Wikipedia can become a reliable source
of information or, if not, somebody has the foresight to begin a
moderated Open Source encyclopedia project that will be reliable.
Persons of genius are not human; because we possess a
very special grace from God, we are divine. (2003)
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