[Air-l] Wikipedia warning -- Wikipedia is not a reliableinformation source

Seth Johnson seth.johnson at RealMeasures.dyndns.org
Mon Dec 5 03:13:28 PST 2005

I find the single most valuable aspect of Wikipedia is in the way
that details marginalized in the traditional sources are so
readily incorporated there.  This makes it more authoritative in
a certain way, though the means of achieving that advantage
(decentralized composition) also open it up to untoward effects.

I find the example of the guy for whom the suggestion was
presented that he may have had a hand in the JFK assassination as
actually a very trenchant example.  Maybe it's not true; the fact
that he authored a letter that's in general distribution about
how he was wronged by that note, is a detail that offers a
circumstantial suggestion that might tilt opinion towards its
falsehood.  But the point is that even though without supporting
citations such a comment may be of lesser or little value,
nevertheless the comment actually could be included, whereas
traditional sources of knowledge (particularly in the case of
encyclopedias) would present an account that is not supplemented
with such details, and would tend to hold to a standard of
incorporating details that are consistent with the exposition of
a certain perspective, rather than incorporating a greater
variety of details which can affect how a subject is presented
more richly.

Seth Johnson


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