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Wikipedia Sucks!

This just in, Wikipedia is the single most dangerous site on the web. Don’t believe me? It’s all right here at the Ban Wikipedia petition site. I reproduce their reasoning here in full:

Wikipedia is the single most dangerous site on the web. It is living proof that a few individuals with a sinister agenda can change the way millions of people view the world and world history. It puts itself forward as an information resource, but a quick look through any of its articles shows that it is almost 100% entirely inaccurate. Much of the ‘information’ is created in the minds of at best mischievous, and at worst despotic individuals or groups who seek to create chaos and spread lies throughout the world. Much of it is aimed at young people seeking knowledge, and it is thus particularly despicable and especially dangerous. The site and those that run it – and lets not forget they are paid handsomely to keep the site prominent – should be banned fromĀ  the world wide web and all references to Wikipedia should be removed.

With such stellar reasoning as it’s articles being “almost 100% entirely inaccurate” who can resist adding their names to this petition?

I have to say, though, that the messages included with the signatories are a little bit disheartening. It appears that people aren’t taking this situation seriously enough. Take this one, for example: “Obviously any process capable of banning a website as influential as Wikipedia from the web and completely expunging it and all references to it must necessarily possess limitless power and boundless evil. So on the off-chance that this works, I want to get in on the start. I salute our new petitionist overlords!” This isn’t the message of one who believes that Wikipedia sucks. How dare he add his name to this petition? Isn’t that fraud or something?

I think tomorrow I’ll start a petition to ban Google. It gives me far too much access to inaccurate information, and it occasionally flashes inappropriate sites on the screen when I’m doing live demonstrations. Who’s with me?

(Thanks to Catherine for drawing my attention to this worthy effort.)

7 thoughts on “Wikipedia Sucks!

  1. Well, Wikipedia does suck on anything involving politics, such as history or economics, because it’s just a cluster-fuck of uninformed twits having religious arguments with one another. That petition is obviously trolling or crazy, but for anything other than math and non-AGW science wikipedia is pretty much useless to anyone who wants to actually understand things; instead of having some shallow pretence of knowledge.

  2. I think if you’re going to Wikipedia for balanced information on politics, you’ve probably got more problems than any encyclopedia could solve, no matter how credible. If you’re going to Wikipedia to find out how people talk about politics, you’re probably going to be just fine.

    Wikipedia is an invaluable tool precisely for people who hope to develop more than a shallow understanding of things. You can use instrumental reading techniques to glean tons of jumping off places from a wikipedia article that will help you dig up more useful information than you would have been able to on your own. And their works cited sections are awesome. No encyclopedia is an end-point of information gathering. They’re all starting points.

  3. I learned long ago that Wikipedia exhibited a very biased look at things, that was neither factually neutral, nor factually accurate.

    It comes about as close to neutrality and accuracy as dropping a bomb from a moving jet fighter over a rice paddy in Viet Nam.

    I made this observation looking at articles in two subject areas in which I am an “expert” (and I use the term “expert” reluctantly, as I have often found experts to be woefully narrow minded, as well as wrong). However, given my broad knowledge in these subjects, both of a scientific nature, one of them also somewhat political, I was quite dismayed to find the Wiki articles quite bent and subjective, rather than objectively neutral, as well as very conservative to the point of deliberately omitting my editorial updates.

    I.e., the Wiki articles mirrored a conventional and horribly uninformed and outdated conventional line of thought and opinion.

    At that point I realized that it was a terribly flawed resource. I could make an educated guess as to how many other misguided articles and flat wrong facts it was spreading if these two areas of “discussion” were any indication.

  4. Again, I refer you to my previous comment. Understanding how Wikipedia articles come to be is important, just as it’s important to understand the motives of the authors and publishers of any resource. It’s less useful to think of sources as inherently “good” or “bad” than to think about how well they are suited to a particular context.

  5. Wikipedia articles are constantly being cited in colleges and universities as “scholarly” sources. Many professors are allowing this to continue, which promotes this misinformation. I’m glad there are others out there aware of this. Let’s spread the word.

  6. The problem with wikipedia articles is that it is difficult to determine the credentials of the authors. I see your point Iris, and this is why people should seek out peer reviewed journals.

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