Who's Messing with Wikipedia?

Discussion in 'other software & services' started by Pedro, Feb 9, 2009.

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  1. Pedro

    Pedro Registered Member

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    The back-and-forth behind controversial entries could help reveal their true value.
    http://www.technologyreview.com/web/22076/?nlid=1762

    http://wikidashboard.parc.com/
    It's slow from here, but anyway, i thought some of you might be interested. Javascript needed.
     
  2. Rmus

    Rmus Exploit Analyst

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    Hi Pedro,

    Thanks for the information!

    I've always cautioned students when writing papers to verify sources of information, whether from print media or the internet. I see inaccuracies daily on the internet. Two recent ones:

    Computer virus shuts down most city & 911
    http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?section=news/local&id=6645494
    Conficker, of course, is not two years old.

    Malware trips up Cleveland.com on Saturday
    http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2009/02/malware_trips_up_clevelandcom.html
    To call a winantivirus page a Trojan horse is not only inaccurate, but gives it more importance and concern for fear than it deserves.

    The worst cases are where a malware analyst is misquoted or mis-characterized during an interview about an exploit. I've brought many to the attention of the interviewer/editor of the online media where it appeared. Usually nothing is done. In one case, I contacted the analyst who just shrugged it off as usual fare when speaking to non-technical journalists in the mainstream media.

    Unfortunately, this leads to misunderstanding with people who take at face value what they read and do not check other sources.

    With this wikipedia tool, hopefully it will help people in verifying the information they read on that site.

    ----
    rich
     
  3. iceni60

    iceni60 ( ^o^)

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  4. Pedro

    Pedro Registered Member

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    I think it's one of the main problems while searching for information online. How trustworthy is the information presented. The other is getting to the right place, and Google, imo, does not find everything.
    There was another good article from the same source, only i notice now it's closed for visitors. Either register, or..
    Wikipedia and the Meaning of Truth


    Some Encyclopedias were created to solve Wikipedia's apparent reliability problem. I say apparent, because there was at least one study where they didn't find major problems:
    http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2006/11/8296.ars
    It remains a critic to the way it works anyway.

    Citizendium
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizendium

    Scholarpedia
    Veropedia seems to be down atm.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veropedia

    Google's Knol
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knol

    Wikipedia's full list : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_online_encyclopedias

    It's funny that i use Wikipedia for this purpose, i think that's because i don't distrust it. I've learned to respect it, but when looking for certain specific content, i know i need to read it with a different perspective.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2009
  5. Rmus

    Rmus Exploit Analyst

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    It seems to me that you can say the same about information from a library. While the current area of interest in Wikipedia is the "hidden army of people with unknown interests and biases," one should be willing to question information even when provided by known authorities.

    Some years ago a student cited in a paper the "fact" that Mozart died of rat poisoning. This information came from a translation of a German pamphlet found in a library by a music student at another university. The student didn't consult any other sources for this "fact" in the paper.

    Biography is a good example for both online and published works. The Wikipedia article on Beethoven (author not listed) draws certain conclusions about things in Beethoven's life. A published biography by a known Beethoven scholar draws
    others. Both cite sources to back up their conclusions. In both cases, I would not hesitate to search for other opinions, no matter if I knew who wrote the article/book.

    http://www.technologyreview.com/web/22076/?nlid=1762&a=f
    My point is, that even if sources are cited, they may not include all that have something to say about the particular fact stated, and careful researchers will check other articles and documents.

    Revealing what is behind the scenes in authoring Wikipedia articles is commendable. I hope it doesn't attach a false sense of authority to the articles so that readers might think there is no need to read any further.


    ----
    rich
     
  6. Pedro

    Pedro Registered Member

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    The second Technology Review article i linked, "Wikipedia and the Meaning of Truth", mentions Wikipedia's policy, which explains what you're observing:
    Wikipedia:Verifiability

    And i agree with you, particularly when you say
    Though sometimes even if i want to confirm, it's not always obvious where to look. Time plays a big role, and Wikipedia is comprehensive.

    On your Mozart example, neither Wikipedia nor Encyclopædia Britannica (which tortures you by explaining you're reading premium content), mention a possible rat poisoning. Only mercury poisoning is mentioned, among other (more plausible) possibilities. :)
    Wikipedia states "The cause of Mozart's death cannot be known with certainty. "
     
  7. Rmus

    Rmus Exploit Analyst

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    Hopefully readers will understand the distinction between verifiability and truth!

    I've been guility of relying solely on Wikipedia a few times when in a hurry. I try to watch that...

    That is the only conclusion, of course, which the student would have realized had he checked a few other sources!

    Thanks for an interesting and relevant topic.

    ----
    rich
     
  8. Pedro

    Pedro Registered Member

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    And i thank you for your participation, as always.
     
  9. Longboard

    Longboard Registered Member

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    :)
    Very erudite you guys.
    LoL: too many sources to check.
    i share your concerns re 'referenced' articles in Wikipedia and am continually disturbed by what I see as a trend for Wikipedia to be some first line research base. Undoubtedly it (Wikipedia) can be a useful search engine and the cult of the google page rank is another interesting phenomenon indeed.

    I also have to bend my mind to academic "clarity" in pursuit of scientific veracity for teaching and protocols.
    Undoubtedly there are fundamental truths we face everyday; beyond that so much of what may pass for academic or scientific truth is biased by any number of financial, cultural, religious, historic or personal bias.

    Statistics can be bought and paid for then twisted to fit a theory. Even the very highest rung peer reviewed journals are littered with false research and spurious conclusions.

    There are many aphorisms to describe how 'truth' may be published and distorted and the final synthesis relies on as noted in your references on some form of more careful analysis and review of available information.

    What is truth today may be rank ignorance next year and to the next generation.

    In a wider sense, One principle that Wikipedia, even in this somewhat crude but nevertheless exciting format, does seem to reflect is that the web has become the greatest free source of information in the world and every effort must be made to preserve open access to that resource and refine the information available. Credit where credit is due to Wikipedia as a continuously evolving and reviewable resource: just who may be contributing is another question, credit to the watchers and debunkers and discoverers of manipulated entries: as long as we are watching too.

    Even now in Australia there is a major push for parts of the web, that an unnamed committee will censor, to be closed off. Who knows: 'they' may decide that in view of the error prone and manipulated entries in Wikipedia, that it needs to be filtered as a bad influence.
    regards.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2009
  10. Pedro

    Pedro Registered Member

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  11. RAD

    RAD Registered Member

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    Another aspect of all this is that the simply "truth" or "falseness" of a particular piece of information is only part of what goes into creating a picture of "reality".
    It is possible to create completely opposite views of reality by simply selecting which information is presented, even though every individual piece of information from the alternate views is "true".

    Big subject.
     
  12. Pedro

    Pedro Registered Member

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    The Role of Experts In Wikipedia
    http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/02/16/0210251

    Episteme Issue: Feb 2009
     
  13. RAD

    RAD Registered Member

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    Pretty soon there will be entirely separate "knowledge bases" for different groups, so they can inbreed their preferred versions of reality.

    Just for example, in one reality a Republican President leads a nation to war for reasons that are somewhat Constitutionally vague. Those reasons also seem to change during the war. The war does not go well, and eventually he is forced to replace his top General in command in order to persue a more agggressive strategy to win. Eventually, victory is achieved, but the economy is left in shambles. The intellectuals of the day and the press deride the President as a "hick" and calls him "Monkey Boy".

    In another version of the same "reality" the same President is the liberator of an enormous number of oppressed people, who are finally able to participate in Democracy, and he protects the nation against attack and ruin.

    But enough about Lincoln.... :D
     
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