Criticism of Wikipedia
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Wikipedia is a large project that wants to make a free encyclopedia. This encyclopedia is written by people who are not paid for their work. This approach has been criticized. The main points of criticism are:
- Anyone can change an article in Wikipedia. Because of this, some articles in Wikipedia may not be entirely true and accurate, instead displaying a hoax or false information.
- There is the problem of vandalism. Some vandalism is easy to see, other vandalism may be harder to find.
- Sometimes, people have a strong opinion about a subject, so they will try to control the articles about that subject.
- Things stated in articles need to have reliable sources, especially if there is controversy about them. Often there are controversial claims in articles, without proper evidence.
- Some editors do not like each other; they will do things that do not make the Wikipedia better (like edit wars)
Only a certain group of people edit Wikipedia. For this reason, the opinions of that group, and their interests may be covered more in Wikipedia. This is usually called a system bias, and can be very misleading, since it only shows one side of a dispute. There are also certain forms of social groups that begin to think alike. This means that the group of editors as a whole is more iterested in pleasing itself than in editing articles.
Criticism of the content [change]
Robert McHenry said that Wikipedia should not call itself an encyclopedia. He thinks that this word also means that there is a degree of authority and accountability and that a resource anyone can change cannot have this. McHenry argues that
|“||"to the ordinary user, the turmoil and uncertainty that may lurk beneath the surface of a Wikipedia article is invisible. He or she arrives at a Wikipedia article via Google, perhaps, and sees that it is part of what claims to be an "encyclopedia". This is a word that carries a powerful connotation of reliability. The typical user does not know how conventional encyclopedias achieve reliability, only that they do."||”|
|“||"If what we today know as 'Wikipedia' had started life as something called, let's say —'Jimbo's Big Bag O'Trivia'— we doubt if it would be the problem it has become. Wikipedia is indeed, as its supporters claim, a phenomenal source of pop culture trivia. Maybe a 'Big Bag O'Trivia' is all Jimbo [Jimmy Wales] ever wanted. Maybe not.
"For sure a libel is a libel, but the outrage would have been far more muted if the Wikipedia project didn't make such grand claims for itself. The problem with this vanity exercise is one that it's largely created for itself. The public has a firm idea of what an 'encyclopedia' is, and it's a place where information can generally be trusted, or at least slightly more trusted than what a labyrinthine, mysterious bureaucracy can agree upon, and surely more trustworthy than a piece of spontaneous graffiti—and Wikipedia is a king-sized cocktail of the two."
A number of academics – such as Sarah Deutch, dean of social sciences and professor of history at Duke University, and Margaret Humphries, professor of history and associate clinical professor of medicine at Duke – have criticized Wikipedia for its perceived failure as a reliable source. A related if somewhat ad hominem criticism is that many Wikipedia editors do not have degrees or other credentials generally recognized in academia. The use of Wikipedia is not accepted in many schools and universities in writing a formal paper. Several educational institutions have blocked Wikipedia in the past while others have limited its use to only a pointer to external sources. University of Maryland professor of physics Robert L. Park has characterized Wikipedia as a target for "purveyors of pseudoscience."
Some academic journals do refer to Wikipedia articles, but they do not do this the same way as traditional references. For example, Wikipedia articles have been referenced in "enhanced perspectives" provided on-line in the journal Science. The first of these perspectives to provide a hyperlink to Wikipedia was "A White Collar Protein Senses Blue Light," Dozens of enhanced perspectives have provided such links since then. The publisher of Science says that these enhanced perspectives "include hypernotes - which link directly to websites of other relevant information available online - beyond the standard bibliographic references."
Some librarians, academics, and editors of other encyclopedias consider it to have little utility as a reference work. Most university lecturers discourage students from citing any encyclopedia in academic work, preferring primary sources. One university program and several schools have even banned Wikipedia citations specifically.
Wikipedia's policies state that assertions should be supported by reliable, published sources—ideally, by peer reviewed publications. Jimmy Wales, the de facto leader of Wikipedia, stresses that encyclopedias of any type are not usually appropriate as primary sources, and should not be relied upon as authoritative.
Other pages [change]
- Multiple-choice self-test as a review of your understanding of this article, and as part of a Wikiversity course about Wikipedia.
- McHenry, Robert (2005-12-14). "The Faith-Based Encyclopedia Blinks". TCS Daily. http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=111504A. Retrieved 2008-10-12.
- Andrew Orlowski (2005-12-12). "Who's responsible for Wikipedia?". The Register. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/12/12/wikipedia_no_responsibility/page2.html. Retrieved 2007-10-27.
- Lysa Chen (2007-03-28). "Several colleges push to ban Wikipedia as resource". Duke Chronicle. http://media.www.dukechronicle.com/media/storage/paper884/news/2007/03/28/News/Several.Colleges.Push.To.Ban.Wikipedia.As.Resource-2809247.shtml. Retrieved 2007-04-02.
- Youngwood, Susan (April 1, 2007). "Wikipedia: What do they know; when do they know it, and when can we trust it?". Vermont Sunday Magazine (Rutland Herald). http://vermonttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070401/FEATURES/70330002. Retrieved 2007-04-05. "Perhaps the most important thing to understand about Wikipedia - both its genius and its Achilles heel - is that anyone can create or modify an entry. Anyone means your 10-year-old neighbor or a Nobel Prize winner - or an editor like me, who is itching to correct a grammar error in that Wikipedia entry that I just quoted. Entries can be edited by numerous people and be in constant flux. What you read now might change in five minutes. Five seconds, even." — Susan Youngwood.
- Bob Park (2007-03-23). "Wikipedia: Has a beautiful idea fallen victim to human nature?". What's New By Bob Park. http://bobpark.physics.umd.edu/WN07/wn032307.html. Retrieved 2007-04-02.
- Linden, Hartmut (2002-08-02). "A White Collar Protein Senses Blue Light". Science. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/297/5582/777. Retrieved 2005. (subscription access only)
- Yolanda S. George and Shirley S. Malcolm. "Perspectives from AAAS" (PDF). American Association for the Advancement of Science. http://www.aaas.org/publications/books_reports/CCLI/PDFs/01_D_Perspectives.pdf. Retrieved 2007-10-27.
- McHenry, Robert (2004-11-15). "The Faith-Based Encyclopedia". Tech Central Station. http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=111504A. Retrieved 2008-10-12.
- Noam Cohen (2007-02-27). "Wikipedia on an academic hit list". NY Times News Service. http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2007/02/27/2003350261. Retrieved 2007-04-16. "Middlebury professor Thomas Beyer, of the Russian department, said: 'I guess I am not terribly impressed by anyone citing an encyclopedia as a reference point, but I am not against using it as a starting point.'"
- "A Stand Against Wikipedia", Inside Higher Ed (January 26, 2007). Retrieved on January 27 2007.
- see Wikipedia:Verifiability
- Brian Bergstein (2007-04-02). "Wikipedia co-founder seeks to start all over again—this time with contributors' real names". Associated Press. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07092/772696-96.stm. Retrieved 2007-04-21. "Wikipedia's de-facto leader, Jimmy Wales, counters that real names are overrated." Sorin Adam Matei and Caius Dobrescu. "Ambiguity and conflict in the Wikipedian knowledge production system". 2006 International Communication Association Annual Meeting, Dresden, Germany. http://www.matei.org/ithink/papers/ambiguity-conflict-wikipedia/. Retrieved 2007-04-26. "The participants included several notable contributors, such as James Wales, Wikipedia’s founder and de facto arbiter and leader of the project." Holden Frith (2007-03-26). "Wikipedia founder launches rival online encyclopaedia". The Times. http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/the_web/article1571519.ece. Retrieved 2007-04-26. "Wikipedia’s de facto leader, Jimmy Wales, stood by the site's format."
- Wikipedia: "A Work in Progress", BusinessWeek (December 14, 2005). Retrieved on 2007-01-29.
Further reading [change]
- Andrew Keen. The Cult of the Amateur. Doubleday/Currency, 2007. ISBN 978-0-385-52080-5 (substantial criticisms of Wikipedia and other web 2.0 projects). Listen to: Does the Internet Undermine Culture?, NPR interview with A. Keen, Weekend Edition Saturday, June 16, 2007.
- Sheizaf Rafaeli & Yaron Ariel (2008). Online motivational factors: Incentives for participation and contribution in Wikipedia. In A. Barak (Ed.), Psychological aspects of cyberspace: Theory, research, applications (pp. 243-267). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Other websites [change]
- Is something fundamentally wrong with Wikipedia governance processes? February 27, 2008
- Wikipedia is a real-life Hitchhiker's Guide: huge, nerdy, and imprecise - by Paul Boutin, Slate, May 3, 2005.
- Wikipedia target of House 'editors' - by Evan Lehmann, TheTranscript.com, January 30, 2006.
- A thirst for knowledge by Andrew Orlowski The Guardian April 13, 2006
- Wikipedia: magic, monkeys and typewriters - by Andrew Orlowski, The Register, October 24, 2005.
- Can you trust Wikipedia? - by Elvira van Noort, Mail & Guardian (South Africa), November 7, 2005.
- "The Danger of Wikipedia", Editor and Publisher, November 30, 2005. (Login required)
- Unreliable (adj): log on and see - by Rosemary Righter, The Times, December 9, 2005
- Online encyclopedias put to the test - by Stephen Cauchi, December 14, 2005.
- Wikipedia science 31% more cronky than Britannica's - by Andrew Orlowski, The Register, December 16, 2005.
- "Wikipedia founder admits to serious quality problems" - by Andrew Orlowski, The Register, December 18, 2005.
- Does Wikipedia win through the "wisdom of crowds"? by Jack Schofield Guardian Unlimited December 19, 2005
- Turf Wars: Wikipedia spars with a splinter site for truth by Julian Dibbell The Village Voice May 2, 2006
- Wikipedia Founder Looks Out for Number 1 - by Rogers Cadenhead, December 19, 2005.
- Wikipedia target of House 'editors' - by Evan Lehmann, TheTranscript.com, January 30, 2006.
- Profs knock Wikipedia - by Brittany Anas, February 6, 2006. (Login required)
- The Great Failure of Wikipedia (transcript) by Jason Scott Sadofsky at Notacon 3 in Cleveland, Ohio
- The Wikipedia FAQK, Wired article that provides sarcastic advice to new Wikipedia contributors. April 19, 2006
- Neil Gaiman: What Bears Do On the Lawn, May 11, 2006, criticism of Wikipedia by noted author and essayist Neil Gaiman.
- "U. Florida cops ask fiction writer for fingerprints, DNA", boingboing, May 22, 2006, retrieved May 25, 2006.
- Wikis Are a Waste of Time by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols eWeek May 22, 2006
- The death of Wikipedia by Nicholas Carr May 24, 2006
- Now, let's bury the myth by Nicholas Carr May 25, 2006
- Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years Of American Independence The Onion's satirical view July 26, 2006
- How wiki-wiki can get sticky by Ben Macintyre The Times July 21, 2006
- Segal, David (December 3, 2006). "Our love/hate relationship with Wikipedia". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/02/AR2006120201111.html.
- McNamara, Paul (December 3, 2006). "Look Me Up Under 'Missing Link'". NetworkWorld. http://www.networkworld.com/community/?q=node/9474.
- "The Shiny Diamonds 1". On the Coast. CBC Radio. CBC Radio One, Vancouver, BC. 2006-12-19. 165 minutes in.
- "The Shiny Diamonds 2". On the Coast. CBC Radio. CBC Radio One, All of British Columbia except Vancouver. 2006-12-20. 105 minutes in.
- "Stabbing Polonius" by Nicholas Carr April 27, 2007
- Sand Castles of Knowledge by Kyle Gann May 5, 2007
- "Wikipedia: A Million Monkeys Typing" Editorial note from Workers Vanguard, biweekly newspaper of the Spartacist League/US
- "Communiqué from Wikiality" Letter and response from Workers Vanguard on Wikipedia
- The Book Stops Here Wired News article