Strong opinions, weakly held

Tag: wikipedia

The risks of using Wikipedia as a source

I am an unabashed fan of Wikipedia, but it still shouldn’t be relied upon for anything more than hobbyist-level interest in a subject. If you’re curious about the historical context for the TV series The Pillars of the Earth, Wikipedia is an outstanding resource. On the other hand, if you’re writing a news story about outbreaks of infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria in hospitals, you shouldn’t rely on what you read in Wikipedia. Science journalist Steve Silberman writes about how spurious information sourced from Wikipedia is pervasive in stories about acinetobacter, and why that bad information could cost people their lives.

How Palin was chosen

The New Yorker ran a long article this week explaining how John McCain came to choose Sarah Palin as his running mate, but it wasn’t very interesting. That said, FiveThirtyEight flags the most interesting bit, which is that the “draft Sarah Palin” movement arose from one Republican’s search on Wikipedia for a sufficiently conservative female politician.

Tim Bray on Wikipedia deletionists

Tim Bray denounces Wikipedia deletionists with great style and passion:

A little thought-experiment is in order: What harm would ensue were Wikipedia to contain an accurate if slightly boring entry on someone who was just an ordinary person and entirely fame-free? Well, Wikipedia’s “encyclopedia-ness” might be impaired… but I thought the purpose of Wikipedia was to serve the Net’s users, not worry about how closely it adheres to the traditional frameworks of the reference publishing industry?

I suggest the deletionist wankers go and cluster around an alternate online reference tome which has articles only about God, Immanuel Kant, and Britney Spears. Notability is not in question, so they should be happy.

Rogers Cadenhead has taken on the deletionists as well, regarding his own entry.

For a nice monument to the idiocy of Wikipedia deletionist sentiment, check out the “votes for deletion” page for Leslie Harpold. Her page has been deleted, but the reasons why she was deemed unworthy by the idiots who feel it’s important to keep Wikipedia smaller remain forever.

Links from March 15th

  • Nicholson Baker talks about The Charms of Wikipedia in the The New York Review of Books. Great weekend read. There are times when I think that the purpose of all human society up to this point was to enable the creation of Wikipedia. (I agree strongly with Baker’s inclusionist philosophy.)
  • The chef at local restaurant Piedmont writes On The Use of Whole Animals to explain why they buy (and use) entire hogs purchased from a local farm.

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