Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Wikipedia: Fact or fiction?

As, I guess, a lot of you I use Wikipedia very often. The Economist has an insightful article about this online encyclopedia:
”So how useful is Wikipedia? Entries on uncontentious issues—logarithms, for example—are often admirable. The quality of writing is often a good guide to an entry’s usefulness: inelegant or ranting prose usually reflects muddled thoughts and incomplete information. A regular user soon gets a feel for what to trust.

Those on contentious issues are useful in a different way. The information may be only roughly balanced. But the furiously contested entries on, say, “Armenian genocide” or “Scientology”, and their attached discussion pages, do give the reader a useful idea about the contours of the arguments, and the conflicting sources and approaches. In short: it would be unwise to rely on Wikipedia as the final word, but it can be an excellent jumping off point.”

I could not agree more.



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