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Wikipedia Improvement Drive

  1. Jan 18, 2007 #1
    Alright forumers, I've heard numerous complaints about the quality of Wikipedia's physics articles - an opinion which I share. Far too often they're undetailed, far too technical, and just plain confusing.

    So who better to rectify the situation than us? I'm looking for volunteers to go over to wikipedia and make a real effort to improve physics articles as a cohesive unit. For the moment, first port of call is my user page, here.

    What say you, PFers?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 18, 2007 #2
    I agree, but its going to take some work !
     
  4. Jan 18, 2007 #3

    cristo

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    The problem with this suggestion is that Wikipedia can be amended at any time, by anyone. So, the effort that one puts into writing a physically correct page, can be undone by anyone the next day! For this reason, I'm not sure whether people will be willing to "waste" their time!
     
  5. Jan 18, 2007 #4

    JasonRox

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    Why would you volunteer for wikipedia?

    They have enough money to fix it themselves. Volunteer for something worthy, like something local in the community.

    You have so many physics crackpots out there that it's hopeless. They will outnumber you like nothing.
     
  6. Jan 18, 2007 #5
    Wikipedia does not, contrary to popular belief, have a problem with vandals and crackpots. There are a great many admins roaming around whose main activity is reverting crap edits. By and large it works quite well - it's just that many pages are written by people whom, while their knowledge is top notch, their communication skills aren't the greatest and so things are frequently incomprehensible.

    JasonRox, I think you've fundamentally misunderstood the concept of Wikipedia. 'Themselves' is us. That is, contributors. I won't even debate the 'worthiness' of the Wikimedia foundation.
     
  7. Jan 18, 2007 #6
    You can view the edit history and retrieve any information you had on there previously.
     
  8. Jan 18, 2007 #7

    Mk

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    Although one may be nitpicky, the thinking community is great on Wikipedia. PF and Wikipedia are my favorite places on the internet hands down. They are very homely and you really get to know people if you want to. Often times I am surprised at how little there are. ~~~~
     
  9. Jan 19, 2007 #8

    JasonRox

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    So, can I go on there and just delete everything?
     
  10. Jan 19, 2007 #9
    Yep, but you would probably be banned (your IP), and also everything you delete can be easily reverted back to how it was before.
     
  11. Jan 19, 2007 #10

    Mk

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    And actually pretty fast too, they have many users completely dedicated to doing only that. They have software installed on their computer and a hacked javascript viewing interface. Also, they've written plenty of antivandalism bots which run around the clock to restore blatant vandalism, such as page blanking.
     
  12. Jan 19, 2007 #11
    Good luck with that. In my opinion, it is a good solution to the wrong problem. The whole open source, any-one-can-edit-contribute-change system seems to be an incorrect way of doing such a large scale production with so many areas and people involved.

    Don't get me wrong - I use Wikipedia to read about some of the old TV shows I never saw all the episodes off when I got nothing else to do. It may not be that super reliable on the events or cast members, but I do not really care. However, encompassing such as serious subject as science provides a bad contrast.

    'Wikipedia - the frontier of science' just doesn't make much sense at all. :yuck:
     
  13. Jan 19, 2007 #12

    ZapperZ

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    Instead of doing that, you could simply add some "intelligent nonsense" to an area of Wikipedia that is still empty. Try looking up "angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy". I can easily help you write something that "appears" to be correct.

    If Alan Sokal can do it for Social Text, we can certainly do it for Wikipedia!

    :)

    Zz.
     
  14. Jan 19, 2007 #13
    Zapper, tut tut, do they not already have enough graffiti artists on Wiki, just because it's pseudo-intelectual doesn't make it right:rolleyes: :wink: :smile:

    I think it's a grand idea personally, and you could probably copy and paste reams of stuff here, and it uses latex, just so long as your sure to make it known who did the groundwork and get their permission.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2007
  15. Jan 20, 2007 #14
    What wikipedia tends to amount to in science articles is peer-review. As long as the population of experts is high enough in a particular area, every change is intensely scrutinised by both experts and students. The main problem it has is not enough of both in many areas. Most of the articles are technically accurate, but very, very confusing. The main thing they need is reworking to be more accessible.
     
  16. Jan 20, 2007 #15

    DM

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    They can't physically improve the like of Physics and Maths related articles. They obviously need someone that is deemed competent enough to break down the material into a much more readable and learning content.

    Are they personally going to hire a Physics/Maths teacher to do that? Who's going to finance this?
     
  17. Jan 20, 2007 #16

    ZapperZ

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    You are kidding, right?

    If you are not, then do you know what process a manuscript has to go through in getting published in a peer-reviewed journal? If you do, then show me clearly how this and wikipedia "tend" to amount to the same thing.

    In other words, to dumb it down so that the general public can understand it. And this "tends" to be like peer-reviewed journals? Really now!

    Zz.
     
  18. Jan 20, 2007 #17
    Congratulations for totally misinterpreting my meaning.

    Wikipedia article oversight is, at its most basic, a similar principle to peer review - in that a number of experts get the chance to scrutinise what is written. If it was a perfect system there would be enough experts contributing that an article reaches an ideal state very quickly. The differences are twofold - firstly, that there are almost always not enough experts to make this work as it should, and secondly - though this is a positive - that articles are never 'finished'. There is always the option for improvement.

    You really aren't 'getting' this. Wikipedia is open-source and volunteer-driven. If you want to be a critic, feel free to come up with a better, more popular source for general information, then I'll believe your criticisms have some merit.

    Same response. In case this had passed you by, that is the point of an encyclopaedia.

    I acknowledge that in the statement about peer review what I said was not what i meant, but I think my meaning should have been obvious to any half-intelligent person without a chip on their shoulder.
     
  19. Jan 20, 2007 #18

    ZapperZ

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    No, it is NOT the same. For example, how do you think a journal selects the referees to "scrutinize" the submitted manuscript? This process is not even remotely similar to how it is done in Wikipedia. How much of a credential background do you think it takes to be the ones to "scrutinize" something? Who gets to decide what goes in and what goes out? What do you do when there's a dispute among the "experts"?

    I put it to you that the way it is run right now, it has no similarity at all with a peer-review journal. Like I said, I could EASILY do an Alan Sokal to Wikipedia and no one would be the wiser.

    It is because of this that there are now efforts by various groups to have an online encyclopedia that does NOT run the way Wikipedia does, but in fact requires experts with credentials in particular areas to monitor such posts. The division of Condensed Matter Physics of the APS is going to start its own online wiki encyclopedia. I'll give you one guess if you think they'll do it the way Wikipedia works.

    Now where in here did I misrepresented your meaning?

    Zz.
     
  20. Jan 20, 2007 #19

    arildno

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    Remember, Sojourner:
    Those who know know, those who don't know, don't know.
    It is as simple, unanarchistic as that. :smile:
     
  21. Jan 20, 2007 #20

    Chi Meson

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    It's my opinion that "peer-review," with respect to scientific articles, is a very specific process, and it is not at all what happens with Wikipedia. To call the "wiki" process "peer-review" might sound correct (by definitions of the individual words) but it is actually not correct.

    That being said, I have to agree with the premise of Sojourner's OP that we at PF could do something to straighten out some of the posts (I've had the same though myself). But here's the problem as I see it:

    Articles on simple matters such as gravity, and electrostatic attraction seem to be rewritten monthly, if not weekly. There is, for example, no shred of the edit on "the centrifugal effect" I posted about 2 years ago. The current artlcle (at least the article I last looked at) doesn't really say anything different, someone else just thought they could say the same thing better.

    Articles on more profound matters such as Special and General Relativity and quantum suffer even more edits, including those that confuse, or even worse, add their own private "insights" to the matter.

    If PF were to take on the oversight of the physics articles, it would amount to a policing of a certain list of articles. Perhaps individuals among us could choose to "own" a certain article. This is contrary to the "wiki" philosophy, and also sets up a competition between the others who have chosen to own the same article. My short stint of "owning" the centripetal/centrifugal page two years ago lasted about a week before I got very tired of it.
     
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