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Wikipedia...problems?


By American in Japan   Follow   Mon, 31 Jan 2011, 5:09pm   7,016 views   54 comments
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Has anyone ever found any errors in Wikipedia, small or large? Which articles or facts were they? Were these later corrected?

I have only occasionally found any errors myself and those were in low-rank articles.

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  1. terriDeaner


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    15   11:49pm Sun 13 Feb 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    American in Japan says

    Well referenced articles (Australia) and (Lion).
    Over 300 references given at the bottom:
    + http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia
    Over 200 references given at the bottom:
    + http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion
    This one isn’t referenced but there is a label indicating so on the header of the article :
    + http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garden_hose
    This one may be accurate but has no references, so read with caution:
    + [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milko_(Swedish_cooperative)]

    Thanks for the examples AiJ. From the above response, I was still not clear on exactly how Wikipedia officially categorized their articles according to quality. So I went to the Wikipedia website and looked for 'Feature' articles. I took a look at some random 'Feature'/'Star' articles, and much like your examples, they were well organized and referenced. Unfortunately, according to Wikipedia, even though they are the best articles, they only comprise 3183 of 3,558,190 total Wikipedia articles (LESS THAN 0.1% of all Wikipedia articles). It would be much better if all Wikipedia articles were reviewed and vetted to the "Featured" standard.

    Although the current academic publishing/peer review system is far from perfect, most reputable publications (primary journals, reviews, textbooks, etc.) REQUIRE exhaustive citations, reporting of source material, and some degree of genuine evaluation by field experts. Yes, some poor quality material and outright fabrications slip through. That said, given the nature of the peer review process this kind of stuff usually comes to light eventually. Thus, both academic peer review and Wikipedia both benefit from active, critical evaluation of the information(screened or not) that is put into the public domain.

    One more thing, related to my original comment: Wikipedia still suffers from a glut of sneak advertisements. Your 'Lion' article offers another example:

    "Kevin Richardson is an animal behaviorist who works with the native big cats of Africa. He currently works in a special facility called the Kingdom of the White Lion in Broederstroom[52] which is 50 miles form Johannesburg.[53] The site was built with the help of Rodney Fuhr[54] and was made for the movie set of White Lion: Home is a Journey.[53] He has 39 white lions on-site[52] and works diligently to protect and preserve the white lion species. While the park is currently a private property, there are plans to open it to the public soon.[55]"

    Does this really add to the article, or advertise for their white lion theme park?

  2. terriDeaner


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    16   11:55pm Sun 13 Feb 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    By the way, AiJ, do you work for Wikipedia or work actively as an editor? Just curious.

  3. terriDeaner


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    17   12:12am Mon 14 Feb 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Tenouncetrout says

    Wiki Gets a Pass until the same people Bitching about them, addresses the “Fractured Fairy Tales” that the Discovery, Nat Geo, and the History networks broadcast every single day of the week. Revised history, at its best.
    I think it bends people out of shape, when they can’t control or dictate the flow of Information. So there for WIKI is inaccurate, because the content can’t be cleansed and revised to suit those that would prefer otherwise. Meanwhile turn on the Television, and tune into our learning channels if you really want inaccuracy.

    It is late and I'm tired, so I will be brief:

    Tenounce, if you don't like the garbage TV or the internet is spewing at you here's a simple solution: turn them off and go do some real research. For example, I strongly encourage you to visit your local public library and feast on the wide range of genuinely useful information available to you - courtesy of your community of taxpayers. There you can control the flow of information to your utmost satisfaction.

    Well, I tried to be brief. For the record, I LIKE Wikipedia. I also have no illusions about how information flows from sources to sinks, how corrupted it may become, and how little control I have over that. I simply don't believe everything I read.

  4. American in Japan


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    18   3:20am Wed 16 Feb 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    BTW two relevant articles on Wikipedia...take a look!

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

    This one has an edit battle going on and a neutrality dispute:

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

    from it I quote:
    "Americans' love of their homes is widely known and acknowledged;[36] however, many believe that enthusiasm for home ownership is currently high even by American standards, calling the real estate market "frothy",[37] "speculative madness",[38] and a "mania".[39] Many observers have commented on this phenomenon[40][41][42]—as evidenced by the cover of the June 13, 2005 issue of Time Magazine[36] (itself taken as a sign of the bubble's peak[43])—but as a 2007 article in Forbes warns, "to realize that America's mania for home-buying is out of all proportion to sober reality, one needs to look no further than the current subprime lending mess... As interest rates—and mortgage payments—have started to climb, many of these new owners are having difficulty making ends meet... Those borrowers are much worse off than before they bought."

  5. American in Japan


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    19   8:20am Thu 17 Feb 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    @terriDeaner

    Just one of the thousands of editors out there (all volunteer).

    Much bigger than others...
    From Wikipedia:

    "Wikipedia currently has 3,560,966 articles in total in the English version alone. (This article count is also available on the main page.) the Encyclopædia Britannica had about 85,000 articles with 55 million words in total, and Microsoft's Encarta had about 63,000 articles and 40 million words in total."

    Bigger isn't always better, but a fair comparison for accuracy would be with head-to-head articles instead of taking some of Wikipedia's fringe articles.

  6. terriDeaner


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    20   12:30am Fri 18 Feb 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike (1)  

    That was done in 2005 in a study commissioned by Nature magazine:

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7070/full/438900a.html

    Be sure to read the rebuttal by Britannica, and the subsequent responses by Nature.

    They concluded that Wiki came pretty close to Encyclopedia Britannica, based on 42 articles compared between the two sources. Some key problems with the analysis:

    1. Huge bias towards type II error (failure to find a difference between the two encyclopedias even though one exists) due to serious undersampling: they compared only 42 articles out of a possible 85,000 (from your estimate), which is 0.05% of all possible sample comparisons. This was not brought up in the Britannica rebuttal, but is a big problem in my opinion.

    2. Nature never double-checked the factual content of their reviews, Nature claims in one of their rebuttals that they blindly gave Wiki and Britannica articles to reviewers, so any errors should balance out. Not true if their small set of reviewers is biased for or against one of the sources. For example, consider if all of the reviewers were unknowingly also Wiki editors, or if their research had been used by others to write the Wiki articles. In this extreme case, there would be a strong systematic bias against Britannica.

    3. Nature and Britannica are, at heart, both publishing companies. Nature sells magazines based on controversy (Britannica = Wiki), Britannica sells encyclopedias based on quality (Britannica > Wiki). Both have incentive to spin the study results in their favor, so who should you believe?(hint... always consult the primary references)

    By the way, I didn't think my examples were from fringe articles. 'Fraggle Rock' was a internationally popular show from the 1980's, and 'Lion' was a gold star article that you posted.

  7. American in Japan


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    21   2:17am Fri 18 Feb 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    @terriDeaner

    Thanks for the study, this is a good one! Some comparisons have just taken any article at random from each which I felt isn't fair.
    (My definition of "fringe article" might be too loose. My definition was just any articles that wouldn't even be on Encyclopedia Britannica. I should have written that more clearly to avoid confusion. Certainly "Lion" isn't a fringe article. I wonder if "Fraggle Rock" is...Lol!)

  8. terriDeaner


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    22   8:57am Fri 18 Feb 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    You're welcome. I checked Britannica online, and although there was no separate entry for 'Fraggle Rock' there was an entry for its creator, Jim Henson.

    At any rate, part of why I do like Wikipedia is because there is at least a little bit of information on just about any subject. The devil is always in the details though.

  9. kentm


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    23   6:19pm Fri 25 Feb 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Study: Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica
    http://news.cnet.com/2100-1038_3-5997332.html

    Though you can't beat Wiki's convenience if you're sitting at a computer.

    I still want to get my daughter a set of physical Encyclopedias. I recall hours spent leafing through them... I understand Britannica is stopping the print version?

  10. American in Japan


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    24   8:04pm Fri 25 Feb 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    >I still want to get my daughter a set of physical Encyclopedias.

    I agree.

    >I understand Britannica is stopping the print version?

    Not sure...could be.

  11. terriDeaner


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    25   11:09pm Fri 25 Feb 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    kentm says

    Study: Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica

    http://news.cnet.com/2100-1038_3-5997332.html
    Though you can’t beat Wiki’s convenience if you’re sitting at a computer.
    I still want to get my daughter a set of physical Encyclopedias. I recall hours spent leafing through them… I understand Britannica is stopping the print version?

    Note that this article references the material from the commissioned Nature article cited above. My point again: read past the headline, and look at the source material.

    By the way, I LOVE print encyclopedias.

  12. FortWayne


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    26   7:34am Fri 29 Apr 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    Tenouncetrout says

    Revised history, at its best.

    history is always written by the winners.

  13. American in Japan


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    27   9:00pm Sat 28 May 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    At least in the zoology section, some editor will slap tags on the article in a day or two (if not.within hours) if something is not referenced or is even slightly inaccurate…

    Any other errors found?

  14. terriDeaner


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    28   9:39pm Sat 28 May 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    American in Japan says

    Any other errors found?

    Last time I looked, the letter 'Q' was replaced with the number 4, but it didn't really affect the readability that much so I don't think anyone has complained yet...

  15. American in Japan


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    29   10:05pm Tue 28 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  
  16. terriDeaner


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    30   10:45pm Tue 28 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    C'mon now AiJ... a little slow on the draw here...

  17. kentm


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    31   5:04am Wed 29 Jun 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Ironcially, wikipedia is self-aware:

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

    there's a section on "Comparative studies" that you'll probably find interesting

  18. American in Japan


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    32   12:36am Wed 13 Jul 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Thanks for the link!

  19. theoakman


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    33   7:18am Wed 13 Jul 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Wikipedia is good for anything non-controversial. When you get into something where people strong disagree, the wikipedia admins (usually high school/college kids with too much time on their hands) dominate the articles and systematically control who's edit stays and whos doesn't.

  20. American in Japan


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    34   5:41am Thu 14 Jul 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    The articles I read / edit are dominated by graduate students, but I agree some came push their views a bit (at least for formatting).

  21. American in Japan


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    35   5:43pm Tue 30 Aug 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    There are some stubborn Administrators on Wikipedia that make their opinion known.

  22. corntrollio


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    36   5:50pm Tue 30 Aug 2011   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    American in Japan says

    There are some stubborn Administrators on Wikipedia that make their opinion known.

    The whole thing is sold as some egalitarian open process. In reality, Wikipedia has a ridiculous number of rules, is highly highly regulated, and the whole process is political and dictated by a small group of people. Their marketing is awesome!

  23. American in Japan


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    37   8:12am Sat 4 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Still there is lots of great information on animals, languages, astronomy, chemistry, math and country infomation. I agree that a small group of people with lots of time on their hands have undue influence. I am cautious when reading the articles on companies.

    Did anyone else find any inaccurate articles?

  24. Dan8267


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    38   4:13pm Sat 4 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Wikipedia whitewashes history. You should never use any Wikipedia article that deals directly or indirectly with people, money, politics, religion, culture, companies, products, or history.

    Also, don't quote Wikipedia. It makes you look like an idiot. Only idiots and the intellectually lazy resort to encyclopedias. Remember when you were in elementary school and the teacher told you not to use the encyclopedia and go to the library instead? Only super-idiots trust encyclopedias without peer review. The fact that the dumbest 80% of America uses Wikipedia, doesn't make you look better for quoting it.

    Do real research instead. It's not much harder and you get far better results. Check out my previous rants on Wikicrapia for more details.

  25. American in Japan


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    39   4:45pm Sat 4 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (2)  

    Dan8267,

    Good point. I write and edit articles on Wikipedia, so I am particularly concerned with referencing. I missed the "Wikicrapia" post...I'll try to find it.

  26. TPB


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    40   11:24am Sun 5 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    FortWayne says

    Tenouncetrout says

    Revised history, at its best.

    history is always written by the winners.

    Quality Auto Repair Since 1979

    You mean whiners?

  27. marcus


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    41   9:07pm Sun 5 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    I like wikipedia, and use it regularly. But not because I think it's better than doing extensive research on my own.

    For my usual purposes, it's useful and accurate.

  28. elliemae


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    42   5:40am Mon 6 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Wiki works for me. But for school projects, I always direct my children to my 1911 set of Brittanica. If the subject existed then, it's in there and there are obscure little factoids that get the kids an "a."

  29. American in Japan


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    43   9:26pm Tue 7 Feb 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Thanks EllieMae!

  30. New Renter


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    44   7:46pm Tue 9 Oct 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    Dan8267 says

    Do real research instead. It's not much harder and you get far better results.

    That is limited too, unless you have a way to get scholarly research articles without begin forced to pay through the nose or having to visit a university library.

  31. Dan8267


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    45   7:54pm Tue 9 Oct 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    New Renter says

    That is limited too, unless you have a way to get scholarly research articles without begin forced to pay through the nose or having to visit a university library.

    Better to have little or even no information than to get misinformation. I'll take nothing over the deliberate misinformation on Wikipedia any day.

    Still, Google is pretty darn good at finding articles from reputable publications that you can read for free.

  32. American in Japan


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    46   12:29am Wed 10 Oct 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    @Dan8267

    Which Wikipedia articles specifically have you found to be the worst? Just curious in a "Patrick" sort of way...

  33. thomaswong.1986


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    47   12:39am Wed 10 Oct 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    American in Japan says

    "to realize that America's mania for home-buying is out of all proportion to sober reality, one needs to look no further than the current subprime lending mess... As interest rates—and mortgage payments—have started to climb, many of these new owners are having difficulty making ends meet... Those borrowers are much worse off than before they bought."

    You should hear what people were saying in 2005.. its just the east side of some city,, wont impact the the ubber rich west side or the Fortress... then the end of 2008 hit and many places also fell like dominoes..

  34. thomaswong.1986


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    48   12:41am Wed 10 Oct 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    Dan8267 says

    Still, Google is pretty darn good at finding articles from reputable publications that you can read for free.

    not anymore ...

    Google Kills Its Own "Timeline" Feature
    www.readwriteweb.com/.../google_kills_its_own_tim...Share

    Jon Mitchell

    by Jon Mitchell - in 13,379 Google+ circles - More by Jon Mitchell
    Nov 11, 2011 –

    As Google works to emphasize up-to-the-minute search results, it has also quietly killed off a search feature that helped users search for content from the past. As users in the Google search help forum have noticed, the Timeline feature for Web search has disappeared. It helped filter search results for specific timeframes.

  35. American in Japan


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    49   9:02pm Wed 2 Apr 2014   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    I wanted to ask this one again...Any problems or biased articles?

  36. HEY YOU


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    50   10:09pm Wed 2 Apr 2014   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    I believe everything written on paper or the internet but especially Patnet.

  37. curious2


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    51   10:11pm Wed 2 Apr 2014   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    Wikipedia tends to be manipulated by certain industries, in ways that make it similar to commercial news:

    Newsweek: "Why Almost Everything You Hear About Medicine Is Wrong"

    Vanity Fair: "Deadly Medicine"

    Part of that results from the reliance on commercial and industry publications, so the marketing bias of those sources gets carried into Wikipedia articles, and part of it results from outright manipulation by public relations firms. Wikipedia tries to stop public relations firms excessively manipulating articles, on a case by case basis, but there are always more.

    Also, regarding American culture and politics, there is a recurring partisan battle between factions approximating the major political parties. In Wikipedia as in life, the Republicans imagine themselves morally superior and crusade to save everyone's souls, while the Democrats imagine themselves intellectually superior and dismiss any disagreement as ignorance. (In fairness to the Democrats, many of the self-styled "conservative" editors are really ignorant, and the same pattern can be observed on PatNet; not all conservatives are stupid, but stupid people are disproportionately likely to call themselves "conservative", and that brings down the average.) The result is articles can get pushed one way or another, some articles become battlegrounds while other related articles get ignored and can be outdated or plain wrong.

    I do like Wikipedia for pop culture though, and it's a good place to look for a variety of source links on a topic. Also Wikisource. I would never quote from Wikipedia, because any fool can write anything in there and then quote himself a minute later. Like any online forum, including PatNet, it's more useful if you check what the actual linked sources say.

  38. American in Japan


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    52   3:13am Sat 5 Apr 2014   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Thanks. Wikipedia has very good articles on chemistry, astronomy and for animals / plants. Also many good articles for university teams in basketball and football.

  39. CaptainShuddup


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    53   3:31pm Sat 5 Apr 2014   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Wiki gets updated way too fast it seems like.
    I'll often hear about someone famous dying, and Google them and the Wiki page will already be updated.
    Although reports will state that details were not known or released at that time.

  40. FortWayne


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    54   4:03pm Sat 5 Apr 2014   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    I've seen biased opinions when it came to politics or national events. But you can never get away from that, whoever writes will always be biased.

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