Slate has discovered why you shouldn’t use Wikipedia as a source
|December 13, 2014||Posted by News under Media, Science|
In other news, pigs (don’t really) fly faster than light.
Wikipedia is amazing. But it’s become a rancorous, sexist, elitist, stupidly bureaucratic mess.
No really, you shouldn’t use it. Yes, it’s free, but:
Given the anarchy at work, it’s impressive that article quality should reach as high as it can, even if it’s still not reliable. Yet the nature of the beast makes quality control inconsistent. Recently, an adequate and fairly neutral page on “Cultural Marxism,” which traced the history of Marxist critical theory from Lukács to Adorno to Jameson, simply disappeared thanks to the efforts of a single editor. Rather than folding it into the narrower but deeper “Critical theory” page, the editor replaced the page with one on the “Frankfurt school conspiracy theory,” which obsessively and somewhat offensively dwells on the Jewish presence in these schools of thought and the right-wing and borderline anti-Semitic conspiracy theories around them. (The reason the editor dwelled on these irrelevant conspiracy theories instead of the thinkers themselves is unknown, but the changes are certainly troubling.) After bewildered complaints, Wales restored the original page and asked for an extra week’s debate on the sudden and drastic shift, sparking outrage from a cabal of editors who favored the change. Whether the change will win out will be determined less by truth and more by the stubbornness and comparative popularity of the editors and the administrators backing them.
In spite of all this, Wikipedia remains a seminal, important project, precisely because it has tried—and in many ways accomplished—something that’s never been done before. …
Actually, it has been done before. It’s called suppression of factual information, anti-Semitism, and the fact that anarchy generally produces more anarchy.
The obvious problem is that while anarchy, much celebrated these days, can produce quality by chance, it cannot do so reliably. See, for example, “Do random mutations never increase information? Ever?”: “Sometimes they do. A single mistake might be neutral or beneficial.” But that is assuming rare, random mistakes in generally accurate transmission of information. Not directed changes, maintained in place by intention and protected by anarchy – which can, by definition, do more damage.
As the example above shows, from any continued rebellion against this fact, darker powers are certain to emerge …
If you feel you must use Wikipedia, at least source what you are trying to establish at a responsible medium as well. And “responsible” doesn’t necessarily mean “big.” Cf Rolling Stone. It means being accountable to standards.
See also: Wikipedia hacked by elite sources now
Mathematician complains Wikipedia is promoting “pseudo-science” of multiverse (Surprise us again, will you?)
Wikipedia’s Darwinized Lincoln was historically impossible, it turns out
Wikipedia shocked!, just shocked!! … that some editors act for pay to promote stuff. Or detract it, maybe?
Most of its core articles fail its own standards
To the extent that Wikipedia celebrates anarchy, it will forever be in the process of “cleaning up,” and never getting on with the job, not the way a body with more organization and discipline would.
But as long as all people want to say is that they consulted The Source Everyone Else Uses, it can just wiki on regardless.
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