The Wikipedia Controversy

Wikipedia has been in the news recently. Their attempts to raise funds were successful, with people donating anything from 80c to US$286800. Currently, they have raised US$1.018M!!!

Wikipedia uses the idea of collective wisdom to create an amazing amount of content on the web. The latest numbers show around 1,585,075 articles hosted for the English wikipedia, with close to 60,000 hits a day.

With its immense popularity, and its radical model of generating the articles, many questions have been raised about it, specifically related to its Reliability as an encyclopedia.

The formost being accuracy of the information inside the articles. Since the writers are not necessarily subject matters experts, or scholars, how can one be sure of accuracy of any information given?

Further more, the open editing model, allows the negative elements of the society to alter the information to mislead the users or slander others. There have been many cases of this.

The coverage of wikipedia is often biased towards technology, with articles often lacking content, or ill-edited articles on other subjects. The neutrality of the authors of the articles cannot be guaranteed, thus generating many articles skewed toward a certain perspective.

As a result if this controversy, Academics do not consider Wikipedia as a valid source or reference. Schools and Universities do not encourage students to use Wikipedia to do their research and studies.

While there are many who put a lot of efforts to collect and curate much of the information known to mankind, the small number of those who work against it, are stopping such a great resource from being used to its greatest potential.


3 comments so far

  1. Brennan on

    Accuracy, in real world contacts, is relative. What the experts in the field define as an accurate information would be later debunked by another. Take Quantum Physics for example – they defy the laws that have been long ‘agreed’ upon. In fact, experts do contradict themselves.

    Negative elements will change the facts. There is bad people out there! We cannot forget that there are good people watching over the articles and changing what has be altered back to the original. (one often overlooked benefit of the Wiki – where data can be reverted back to the original)

    If an article lack content or is ill-edited, take the first step to provide the knowledge if you have that knowledge. When the article evolves, it can be viewed as a learning experience for the orignal contributor.

    Although an article may begin with one perspective, many eyes and the freedom of provinding additional information. To begin with, any who contribute are highly proficient in technology.

    The concept of Wiki isn’t much of a one-man show, or a limited group of experts. From what I gather, your post is skewed towards a minority who will create great disbenefit for the majority.

  2. interested on

    I still do not see where the controversy is?

    Is it the call for donations? Or the accuracy of the information?

    I agree with Brennan’s comment. Just take a look at the pages for evolution, LKY etc. Tons of arguments.

  3. NTT on

    @Brenan – There are two sides to every coin. I just wanted to tell one side of the story. I do agree, though, that I should have mentioned about the other side.

    Personally, I am a fan of Wikipedia. The least it does well is to point to the correct resource on the web.

    @interested – The controversy would be the Reliability of Wikipedia as an encyclopedia.

    There are a indeed lot of popular articles with ‘problems’. But, I do see how that might turn into a good thing.

    Arguments, contention and discussion over the contents of an article could lead to a better articles. But, people who actively vandalise wikipedia should be spammed.. :p

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