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Wikipedia and Google?

by raolduke
Tags: google, wikipedia
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Quaoar
#19
May1-07, 03:18 PM
P: 179
Quote Quote by cristo View Post
No; not if it's wrong, and not for someone who is new to a field and learning. When I was at school a teacher gave me this spelling of the word tomorrow: "tommorrow". So, I thought, the teacher's right, so I'll listen to her. A while later it was pointed out to me that she was incorrect, however I had got into the habit of spelling it incorrectly, and i messed up the spelling of that word for a long time afterwards.

Ok, maybe that's a bad example, but my point it that if you're learning from a source that may be incorrect, it could be disastrous to your learning, not to mention being a rather large waste of time!
Question: How would you have spelled the word had your teacher not told you?
cristo
#20
May1-07, 03:26 PM
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Quote Quote by Quaoar View Post
Question: How would you have spelled the word had your teacher not told you?
I'd probably have looked it up in the dictionary, but since my teacher was there, I asked her-- you do presume that a teacher knows the answer to your questions, especially at a young age, and if they don't, then would look up the answer themselves.

Anyway, I'm not sure what your point is. My point is that if you presume that wiki is correct, then you will be in for a big suprise-- but not just in a trivial spelling of a word (like in my example). The parts of wiki that are wrong will tend not to be simple articles, but will be the more advanced articles (since there aren't as many capable of writing/checking them!) Therefore, a layperson reading these may think "yea, that makes sense", when it's really incorrect.

[As an aside, I'm sure there's been a recent thread on this subject]
ZapperZ
#21
May1-07, 04:09 PM
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Quote Quote by Quaoar View Post
Perhaps you should read the original post. Does it say anything about Wikipedia and Google being your ONLY resource? No.
Read the title of this thread.

Isn't a superficial idea better than no idea at all?
No, it isn't, especially when the person reading it isn't AWARE that all he/she is getting is at the superficial level. I've seen WAY too many people use wikipedia like a bible, AND even using it for college term papers and homework, so much so that many schools now have banned from using it as a reference!

I'm not claiming that Wikipedia rivals any professionally written book, I'm claiming it has clear advantages over them, namely, it is freely available and accessible anywhere. Where is a middle schooler going to get the money for Griffiths? Especially one that belongs to a lower-income family? Are you going to carry Griffiths everywhere you go, along with the rest of your library?
Why not? I certainly moved with my books! And if earlier generations can certainly do that, why is the present-day generation THAT WIMPY? Have we simply settled for mediocrity instead of first-rate information? Do we simply not care anymore about the QUALITY of information that we get? Do we only need information in the form of sound-bites for people who can't sit down and properly digest the information they are getting?

I'm sorry, I don't buy this, and I certainly would not care to lower such standards just so we can give things out for "free". Furthermore, this is NOT a thread on the "merits" of Wikipedia. We have had several of those already, and you're welcome to join those and resurrect them from the dead. The OP had a very specific question regarding "schooling" using stuff that one finds on the internet. Your original contention that one can distinguish between valid and garbage information simply based on the availability of citation is STILL clearly wrong.

Zz.
Quaoar
#22
May1-07, 04:19 PM
P: 179
Quote Quote by cristo View Post
I'd probably have looked it up in the dictionary, but since my teacher was there, I asked her-- you do presume that a teacher knows the answer to your questions, especially at a young age, and if they don't, then would look up the answer themselves.

Anyway, I'm not sure what your point is. My point is that if you presume that wiki is correct, then you will be in for a big suprise-- but not just in a trivial spelling of a word (like in my example). The parts of wiki that are wrong will tend not to be simple articles, but will be the more advanced articles (since there aren't as many capable of writing/checking them!) Therefore, a layperson reading these may think "yea, that makes sense", when it's really incorrect.

[As an aside, I'm sure there's been a recent thread on this subject]
There has been a recent thread on the subject, but I didn't really actively participate.

My point is that there are many on this forum who seem to be completely unfamiliar with Wikipedia in general and like to make blanket comments to prove a point. There's no disputing: The Internet isn't the most authoritative resource out there. However, it's *a* resource, and its one that's free and easy to access.
ZapperZ
#23
May1-07, 04:23 PM
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Quote Quote by Quaoar View Post
There has been a recent thread on the subject, but I didn't really actively participate.

My point is that there are many on this forum who seem to be completely unfamiliar with Wikipedia in general and like to make blanket comments to prove a point. There's no disputing: The Internet isn't the most authoritative resource out there. However, it's *a* resource, and its one that's free and easy to access.
No one is disputing that. It is a resource of a lot of crap. Free crap.

Zz.
Quaoar
#24
May1-07, 04:25 PM
P: 179
Quote Quote by ZapperZ View Post
Read the title of this thread.



No, it isn't, especially when the person reading it isn't AWARE that all he/she is getting is at the superficial level. I've seen WAY too many people use wikipedia like a bible, AND even using it for college term papers and homework, so much so that many schools now have banned from using it as a reference!



Why not? I certainly moved with my books! And if earlier generations can certainly do that, why is the present-day generation THAT WIMPY? Have we simply settled for mediocrity instead of first-rate information? Do we simply not care anymore about the QUALITY of information that we get? Do we only need information in the form of sound-bites for people who can't sit down and properly digest the information they are getting?

I'm sorry, I don't buy this, and I certainly would not care to lower such standards just so we can give things out for "free". Furthermore, this is NOT a thread on the "merits" of Wikipedia. We have had several of those already, and you're welcome to join those and resurrect them from the dead. The OP had a very specific question regarding "schooling" using stuff that one finds on the internet. Your original contention that one can distinguish between valid and garbage information simply based on the availability of citation is STILL clearly wrong.

Zz.
The title is "Wikipedia and Google?" Tell me what I'm missing here.

"Your original contention that one can distinguish between valid and garbage information simply based on the availability of citation is STILL clearly wrong."
That was absolutely not my contention, you read a single sentence and extrapolated my contention without any evidence. I followed up with saying that one needs to read the cited work to gauge credibility. Clearly you are letting your animosity towards Wikipedia get in the way of your judgment.

You seem to be a master at reading into things I didn't say and ignoring things I did say, so I'm done with this conversation. No use arguing with those who refuse to listen.
cristo
#25
May1-07, 04:33 PM
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Quote Quote by Quaoar View Post
My point is that there are many on this forum who seem to be completely unfamiliar with Wikipedia in general and like to make blanket comments to prove a point.
Huh? I use wikipedia, but only for things that aren't important. It's got an article about pretty much everything you could possibly want. However, wiki is not where I would go to learn technical subjects, since I know that there's a high probabilty that there will be mistakes. I use books or lecture notes freely available on university websites.

So, I've not made a blanket comment to make a point, but I have simply stated (what is more or less) a fact: wiki should not be used as a source of schooling.
Quaoar
#26
May1-07, 04:48 PM
P: 179
Quote Quote by cristo View Post
Huh? I use wikipedia, but only for things that aren't important. It's got an article about pretty much everything you could possibly want. However, wiki is not where I would go to learn technical subjects, since I know that there's a high probabilty that there will be mistakes. I use books or lecture notes freely available on university websites.

So, I've not made a blanket comment to make a point, but I have simply stated (what is more or less) a fact: wiki should not be used as a source of schooling.
And I disagree, I think it can be used as a source of schooling if other options are not readily available. Besides, the consensus seems to be that its pretty accurate for broad low-level topics, which is where I think it is the most useful.
ZapperZ
#27
May1-07, 04:53 PM
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Quote Quote by Quaoar View Post
That was absolutely not my contention, you read a single sentence and extrapolated my contention without any evidence. I followed up with saying that one needs to read the cited work to gauge credibility. Clearly you are letting your animosity towards Wikipedia get in the way of your judgment.
In message #7, you quote JUST this part of my post:

Quote Quote by ZapperZ
But how would you know this when you are LEARNING something new? You have no way to discriminate between what is legitimate and what is crap.
And this is ALL that you answered:

Quote Quote by Quaoar
Yes you do, it's called a citation. If an article is not properly cited, you shouldn't believe what is written there.
That's it! You answered my question simply by using the fact that an article must have citations. Period.

Only later on when I challenged the rational of that kind of a response did you then say that one ALSO has to read the citations, to which I then addressed the fallacy of such a thing, considering that in many cases, those citations cite other published papers and even textbooks! Why not go directly there in the first place?

Zz.
Quaoar
#28
May1-07, 05:10 PM
P: 179
Quote Quote by ZapperZ View Post
Why not go directly there in the first place?
Because you were ignoring the fact that there could even be citations. I didn't feel it necessary to explain that they have to be good citations, that should have been obvious from the word "proper".
ZapperZ
#29
May1-07, 06:14 PM
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Quote Quote by Quaoar View Post
Because you were ignoring the fact that there could even be citations. I didn't feel it necessary to explain that they have to be good citations, that should have been obvious from the word "proper".
"properly cited" doesn't say anything about the article itself. There are plenty of crackpot websites that "properly cited" many physics papers. You somehow seem to ONLY think that I can't read and "ignoring the fact that" it is what you WROTE that does not correspond to what you mean!

Zz.
Quaoar
#30
May1-07, 06:19 PM
P: 179
Quote Quote by ZapperZ View Post
"properly cited" doesn't say anything about the article itself. There are plenty of crackpot websites that "properly cited" many physics papers. You somehow seem to ONLY think that I can't read and "ignoring the fact that" it is what you WROTE that does not correspond to what you mean!

Zz.
Sure it does, if you read the citations, which you SHOULD do. You seem to think I meant "proper" as in the article writer successfully linked to another page. I mean proper as in the citation is relevant and supports the argument of the article.

What I wrote is exactly what I mean. You're too stubborn to understand that you simply misinterpreted what I wrote.
ZapperZ
#31
May1-07, 06:39 PM
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Quote Quote by Quaoar View Post
Sure it does, if you read the citations, which you SHOULD do. You seem to think I meant "proper" as in the article writer successfully linked to another page. I mean proper as in the citation is relevant and supports the argument of the article.

What I wrote is exactly what I mean. You're too stubborn to understand that you simply misinterpreted what I wrote.
Oy vey. And all the others that also questioned your insistence of using Wikipedia in the way you "intended" are also "stubborn" and didn't interpret you correctly? As I recall, the discussion here is MORE than just "properly cited". For some odd reason, you ignored the OP original premise.

Besides, would you like to, for example, check the Wikipedia page on "Photoemission Spectroscopy" and tell me if that page would qualify as having "properly cited" citations?

Again, I can easily show you many crackpot webpages that used "relevant citations" to support their argument. Just go to Crank Dot Net if you don't believe me. You want these people who, by your own arguments, do not have access to such journals and texts, to do their own research on things they can't get access to. Yet, you argued to let them have even wrong and superficial information, which means that they don't have to care about those "citations". So on the one hand, it is OK for them to have such superficial and wrong info. But on the other hand, you insist that they have to check the validity of that info by digging into those citations. What happened to the virtues of having even 50% wrong info that you were selling just a few minutes ago?

Zz.
Quaoar
#32
May1-07, 06:53 PM
P: 179
Quote Quote by ZapperZ View Post
Oy vey. And all the others that also questioned your insistence of using Wikipedia in the way you "intended" are also "stubborn" and didn't interpret you correctly? As I recall, the discussion here is MORE than just "properly cited". For some odd reason, you ignored the OP original premise.

Besides, would you like to, for example, check the Wikipedia page on "Photoemission Spectroscopy" and tell me if that page would qualify as having "properly cited" citations?

Again, I can easily show you many crackpot webpages that used "relevant citations" to support their argument. Just go to Crank Dot Net if you don't believe me. You want these people who, by your own arguments, do not have access to such journals and texts, to do their own research on things they can't get access to. Yet, you argued to let them have even wrong and superficial information, which means that they don't have to care about those "citations". So on the one hand, it is OK for them to have such superficial and wrong info. But on the other hand, you insist that they have to check the validity of that info by digging into those citations. What happened to the virtues of having even 50% wrong info that you were selling just a few minutes ago?

Zz.
Oy vey yourself. Go back and read what I read, I'm through arguing.
ZapperZ
#33
May1-07, 07:03 PM
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Quote Quote by Quaoar View Post
Oy vey yourself. Go back and read what I read, I'm through arguing.
When have I heard that one before?

And oh, oh, here's a good one! Check out Wikipedia's "Particle Accelerator" page. It is "properly cited", I'm sure! So can someone go through ALL of those citations and find for me, oh, let's make it easy, 2 glaring errors?

Zz.
kdinser
#34
May1-07, 07:23 PM
P: 338
If I know absolutely nothing about a topic, I go to wiki to learn the vocabulary. Then, depending on how much I need to know and how important my understanding is, I'll look for other websites using the vocabulary that I was able to get from wiki sites. As anyone with any web experience will tell you, knowing the vocabulary is the most important thing when it comes to good searching practices.

Bottom line to me is, wiki is useful for a lay person to get the very most basic under standing about a subject, and I wouldn't trust it at all for anything past first year or 1.5 year college. Even then, I would look for other collaboration before I used it as a source.
ZapperZ
#35
May1-07, 07:37 PM
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Quote Quote by kdinser View Post
If I know absolutely nothing about a topic, I go to wiki to learn the vocabulary. Then, depending on how much I need to know and how important my understanding is, I'll look for other websites using the vocabulary that I was able to get from wiki sites. As anyone with any web experience will tell you, knowing the vocabulary is the most important thing when it comes to good searching practices.

Bottom line to me is, wiki is useful for a lay person to get the very most basic under standing about a subject, and I wouldn't trust it at all for anything past first year or 1.5 year college. Even then, I would look for other collaboration before I used it as a source.
I think for most "professionals" who do use Wikipedia, I think they do what you are doing here, which is simply as a quick source to look up the references.

But it is interesting that you mentioned about "vocabulary". This is because the Particle Accelerator page that I mentioned made one glaring, but understandable mistake in terms of vocabulary. They took the word "linac" literally and used it in ways in which people in the accelerator community do not. For example, while we would certainly categorize SLAC as a "linear accelerator", we do not call SLAC a "linac", even when linac means "linear accelerator". A "linac" is the name reserved for the structure that actually does the accelerating. The whole SLAC beamline does not do this. Rather SLAC has several of these "linac" structures along the beamline. These are the structures that will do the accelerating. The rest of SLAC beamline is really nothing more than drift tubes.

So here, if you had used that Wikipedia page, you would have gotten a wrong "vocabulary", because that article was probably written by someone who isn't working in accelerator physics and did not realize how such a word was used.

Zz.

Edit: P.S. Because of this thread, I went back and look at 3 Wikipedia webpages that I am familiar with (Photoemission Spectroscopy, Particle Accelerator, and High Tc Superconductors) and they ALL still have enough mistakes to make someone get gloriously wrong info. Nothing has changed in at least a year, even when someone did correct the error I pointed out on here about that one silly thing in the Particle Accelerator page.
Quaoar
#36
May1-07, 08:02 PM
P: 179
Funny that you have enough time to track all these "glaring" errors, but not enough time to fix them. Of course, that would make Wikipedia more correct, and weaken your argument when you rail against it.


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