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  1. Feb 14, 2010 #1
    All too often members of this forum are referencing wikipedia and I believe that site does not offer a valid representational view of science. The reason why members quote from wikipedia is that we often type words into google and the first result is wikipedia - no surprise.

    I am all for thinking analytically and critically and so I propose a "Resources" section in header section of PF, in between library and staff. This section would pose as a link library to various websites and alternatives to google and wikipedia. This could be expanded by giving it a separate section in the forums where members can post new links and moderators can then decide which ones to add to the resources section. If this went ahead then it would hopefully promote people not to use wikipedia.

    Discuss.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 14, 2010 #2

    radou

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    Not a bad idea, but I believe it's already partially present in the "Math & Science Learning Materials" forum.

    As for Wikipedia results, well, it depends on the nature of the thread. They can be sufficiently effective for homework helping threads.
     
  4. Feb 14, 2010 #3
    I am not convinced that it should be used by students wishing to learn about a subject nor does wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales:

    from http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/dec2005/tc20051214_441708.htm [Broken]


    Perhaps more useful sites would be http://intute.ac.uk, http://infomine.ucr.edu/ [Broken] to name a couple.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  5. Feb 14, 2010 #4

    radou

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    It shouldn't be used (and it cannot be used) to "learn a subject", of course. But it can be used as a quick and effective reference. The sites you gave here (I tried them out a bit) give links to different web-sites with lecture notes, etc. which is great stuff - but I still believe Wikipedia can be useful as a very quick reference when you're searching for a definition for something. The purpose of these sites is different - so we can't compare them to Wikipedia and say that they are or are not more useful.
     
  6. Feb 14, 2010 #5
    Regardless of wikipedia is used or not we ought to promote alternatives. A point on which we both agree on.
     
  7. Feb 14, 2010 #6

    radou

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    Of course, we both agree on that one. But it's only the question if such a source is necessary with the "Math & Science Learning Materials" present.
     
  8. Feb 14, 2010 #7
    I am suggesting a link library to scientific search engines, databases and electronic journals subscription based and free rather than learning material. Think of it as a reference library of links.
     
  9. Feb 14, 2010 #8

    ZapperZ

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    1. There is already a resource forum called the Learning Materials forum.

    2. Wikipedia should always be used with caution.

    3. In most cases, valid websites and peer-reviewed publication trumps over Wikipedia references.

    4. Frequent inappropriate references to Wikipedia are often made by those who are using it without understanding the physics.

    HOWEVER.....

    5. The use of Wikpedia as a reference by those who DO know the physics is perfectly valid and often useful.

    There are enough physics Mentors and Science Advisors on this forum that the proper and appropriate use of any references, including Wikipedia, are closely monitored. As far as I can tell, there hasn't been any incidents (or there aren't that many of them) where the inappropriate usage were allowed, or went unchallenged.

    So from my point of view, I don't think this is even an issue.

    Zz.
     
  10. Feb 14, 2010 #9
    Ok I see what you are getting at Zz, forget the name resources or reference. All I am stating is that there ought to be somewhere on PF that is easily accessible and provides links to scientific search engines and databases independent of text book material which belongs in learning material.

    Learning materials on PF provides what a text book does it tutors you on concepts. By idea is that we compile a list of search engines so when arguing in PF you can quote from a paper or so on with confidence.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2010
  11. Feb 14, 2010 #10

    ZapperZ

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    This is a bit puzzling. Most of peer-reviewed papers can't be found using a "search engine", since they are usually accessed via subscriptions.

    Again, you are proposing something to solve for what I think is a non-existent problem. I believe that we have always tried to maintain a large signal-to-noise ratio in the physics subforums, and have always insisted on proper and valid sources as citations. So I'm not sure why this issue is being discussed here. Do you see something that I don't see going on here?

    Zz.
     
  12. Feb 14, 2010 #11
    I agree with you on that most peer-reviewed papers cant be accessed for free. However links such as intute and infomine are free.

    Unfortunately I see too often PF staff quoting unreliable and dubious sources, such as wikipedia more frequently than I should.

    Maybe a sticky can be identically posted in each subforum outlining good links and such.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2010
  13. Feb 14, 2010 #12

    ZapperZ

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    Again, one of the points I brought up above is that, if used by knowledgeable people, in the right context, I don't see anything wrong with it. We have plenty of people here that will monitor such usage. I don't see such rampant misuse of it in the physics subforum.

    So why is this a problem with you?

    Zz.
     
  14. Feb 14, 2010 #13

    DaveC426913

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    There is nothing wrong with offering Wiki articles as a first line, to encourage further reading. Wiki articles list resources at the bottom for this. This is one way of allowing members to do their own homework, rather than us having to "educate" them.

    But Wiki should not, and rarely is, used as any kind of authority.
     
  15. Feb 14, 2010 #14
    The problem is knowledgeable people using wikipedia. They ought not to, instead draw upon their knowledge and provide authoritative facts from other websites. Wikipedia has no accountability and as such ought not to be used.

    If this isn't hypocrisy, then I don't what is. DaveC426913, I have seen you on more than one occasion draw upon wikipedia for authority.

    I do not believe in spoon-feeding people knowledge. I would rather point them into a direction where they can teach themselves as that is the only way to true understanding.
     
  16. Feb 14, 2010 #15

    DaveC426913

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    Your reaction confirms my suspicion that this thread was catalyzed https://www.physicsforums.com/showpost.php?p=2577641&postcount=16".

    This thread is an oblique attempt to continue to defend yourself.

    You've pretty much gotten your answer in both threads.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  17. Feb 14, 2010 #16
    This thread is a suggestion thread. I see you show balance by giving just your view...


    Anyway, back on track. Perhaps a sticky ought to be in every subforum highlighting the problem with wikipedia as a source and list some alternatives to use as citations.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  18. Feb 14, 2010 #17

    Fredrik

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    I have the opposite opinion. We have a "PF library" here, with articles written by members of this forum, but the articles are usually not as good as the ones at Wikipedia. People often link to other web sites, and on average, their quality is far below Wikipedia standard as well. I think Wikipedia is (usually) a great reference, at least for definitions of mathematical terms and proofs of simple theorems.

    Yes, there are bad articles there as well, but seriously, I'm sure I've seen more garbage claims and terrible explanations in peer reviewed journals than at Wikipedia.
    It makes no sense to reinvent the wheel every time. If there's a good article at Wikipedia, why not use it? And those that do have accountability (peer reviewed journals) don't ever correct their mistakes. Sure, other articles can be published that point out the flaws, but they sometimes go unnoticed while people keep using the bad article as a reference 40 years later.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2010
  19. Feb 14, 2010 #18
    Can you explain to me what is great about an unauthoritative, unaccountable site such as wikipedia that leads to unreliability and inaccuracy?
     
  20. Feb 14, 2010 #19

    ZapperZ

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    It is no different than your citation for the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Why would you do such a thing when your "knowledge" should have been sufficient? Furthermore, your use of this "authoritative facts" was not relevant to the thread on hand.

    Again, it is not just the source, it how it is used. I've seen people bastardized even valid sources and peer-reviewed journals. We monitored for those as well, not just the use of Wikipedia. You are fixated on only the source, without giving due consideration on how the source is used. I do not recommend the use of Wikipedia, and in fact, I don't remember ever using it as a source in all of my post on PF. However, there are many items in which knowledgeable people have used in which the information provided have been accurate.

    As of now, I still have not seen ample evidence and convincing argument that support what you are proposing. So I would not be in favor of having such "resource section".

    Zz.
     
  21. Feb 14, 2010 #20
    If only this was valid what a simpler world we would live in. The "trust me I know it" or the "just take my word for it" argument sadly doesn't stack up that is why we reference, we supplement our argument through citations and by doing this provides evidence.

    Couldn't agree with you more. We should be careful on how we use sources. Where my argument is against wikipedia, is primarily, its accountability, you simply do not know who wrote it. This is a problem because if you do quote wikipedia and by doing so get your facts wrong you cannot hold anyone to account for producing inaccurate material and maybe ridiculed for getting it wrong. Other sites for example usually print their authors and so when you do quote from these and get it wrong then at least you will be able to second thought other information given by this author elsewhere on the internet. With wikipedia, if you get it wrong you can argue that the whole site is inaccurate as you cannot pinpoint the inaccurate information that you did receive on anyone or group of people.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2010
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