[Air-l] Wikipedia vs Britannica
Bram Dov Abramson
bda at bazu.org
Thu Dec 15 14:42:19 PST 2005
> Nature, the best in science journalism as they say about themselves, has
> compared Wikipedia with (the old and edited and therefore better???)
> Encylopaedia Britannica.
You know, it seems to me that what comparisons such of these are missing
is the time arrow. It compared Wikipedia as of 1 Oct 2005 to the 2002
edition of Encyclopedia Brittanica, say. For instance:
> Only eight serious errors, such as misinterpretations of important
> concepts, were detected in the pairs of articles reviewed, four from each
> encyclopaedia. But reviewers also found many factual errors, omissions or
> misleading statements: 162 and 123 in Wikipedia and Britannica,
You'd think that, by 25 Dec 2005, at least some of those errors will have
been worked on -- particularly if the reviewers disclosed what they came
up with. Yes, this was of course a sampling approach, and the
error-counting meant to represent some larger set.
But to the extent that Wikipedia is an infrastructure for peer-based
content creation, not a frozen product with a release date, it seems to me
if journalists wish to represent it more accurately they should be adding
the time dimension to their descriptions. Otherwise it's a bit like
announcing definitively what The Web has to say about something, isn't it?
True at some particular point in time, but not a done deal.
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