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neurological dryer lint

dirty deeds... and the dunderchief


one bottle is dry

it's become fairly trendy for journalist, luddite and old-school academic alike to rag on wikipedia and for the fanatical geek crowd to rail to its defense. if you aren't privy, the gist of the argument is this:

luddite (yes, that's linked to a wikipedia article, delicious irony!): "wikipedia is untrustworthy! anyone can edit anything they want! it's so full of factual errors that it should be totally ignored!"
geek: "just because anyone can edit it doesn't mean that it's 100% incorrect. there's some bias and some inaccuracies, but the power of community review means that it's more likely that those actually knowledgeable about a subject can correct those inaccuracies."
luddite: "yeah, but why bother with that when you can refer to a real encyclopedia like britannica or encarta instead?"
geek: "how do you know those are 100% accurate? the main difference is that when britannica is wrong, someone with the correct facts can't easily set the record straight. and britannica can just as easily be wrong as wikipedia, you know."
luddite: "yeah, but there are researchers that are paid to write britannica's articles! knowledgeable people from universities!"
geek: "and so now you have a group, owned by a business whose primary goal is to make a profit, a group with an agenda, writing 'factual' articles instead of a community of people with very little to gain. i'll trust the community over the corporate boardroom any day."
luddite: "wikipedia has too many opinions! an encyclopedia should only contain facts! if i want opinions, i'll read a blog."
geek: "yeah, but that's a broad generalization. most of the opinions show up in the fringe wikipedia articles, like ones about episodes of the Sopranos. speaking of, when's the last time britannica wrote an article about an episode of a TV show?"
luddite: "harrumph!"
geek: "screw you, hippie!"

i lean towards the geek side of this discussion - a discussion that renee and i duplicated (in a much less hostile form) on vacation while she was doing research for one of her grad classes. she'd been told by people at UC that wikipedia shouldn't be trusted. i felt that it was a valuable source of information.

rather than turn it into a divisive, black and white issue (as this topic often does on the internet), she ended up doing on her own what everyone should do - consult multiple sources when doing any research. fortunately she's much more mature and responsible than the silly journalists who whine about this topic.

i will still use wikipedia as a primary source of information, and try to double check things that are likely to be askew. granted, i'm not doing much research that impacts a grade or anything; instead my queries are aimed at art/culture stuff, and when i posit the occasional historical question (i.e. when was the war of 1812?).


for this post

Blogger Nickolini Says:

Do luddites read blogs???

Blogger B-Call Says:

yeah, I don't understand a word I just read.

Blogger Justin Hall Says:

yep, nick got the joke. come on people, i'm giving you comedy gold here.

Blogger Bragg Says:

sure luddites read blogs. only they were call articles in the OP/ED section of the daily press. well, only about 1 out of every 10 people could read, so the other 9 people just ranted about it at the pub.

you have no idea how many times i used wikipedia in the classroom. their final paper, i gave the wikipedia website because i trusted it more than the trash the students would have found on their own.

but you nailed it on the head - multiple sources is the key to any good academic writing.

Blogger Simon Says:

There you have it folks, straight from the mouth of my favorite English teacher!

Blogger ryanham Says:

What the hell does "rant" mean?


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