Britannica Editor Throws Book at Wikipedia

The Guardian newspaper asked several experts to evaluate a Wikipedia entry in their area of expertise, including the former editor-in-chief of Encyclopedia Britannica, who critiqued encyclopedia.

Wikipedia's a moving target, which makes it tough to criticize. Errors cited by the Britannican were corrected by Wikipedians before his review saw print:

It is clear that the critic is commenting on an earlier version of the article -- for example, the typo he takes pains to note was already corrected, and more importantly the article seems to have been substantially revised since he read it.

I'm becoming addicted to Wikipedia as both reader and writer. I would not compare it to a print encyclopedia's quality (yet), but there's unique value in an open database of knowledge that accumulates in real time. Wikipedia operates on the principle that the more people care about a subject, the more likely its entries will be accurate and useful. I don't know that Wikipedia can survive spammers and sloppy editors -- critics are lining up to write it off -- but it's a good first stop when you're doing research in your pajamas.

I recently contributed a new entry on the Baby Richard custody case, which I wrote to supplement a sentence I added to the biography of journalist Bob Greene.

Writing in the authoritative voice of an encyclopedia is fun, but it was tough to avoid bias. That child never should have been in a position to be ripped from his home at age 4, especially in front of a media circus. He was only three months old when his biological father informed the adoptive parents he had been misled about the child and wanted custody.


Yikes, Wikipedia. "Wikipedia operates on the principle that the more people care about a subject, the more likely its entries will be accurate and useful." There is no reason to assume this, none at all.

Passion is not same as clues. As for the fixes in the articles mentioned by the editor fellow, did they happen before or after the article hit the Guardian Web site? Are the errors in the rest of Wikipedia all fixed now too?

The "List of Made-up words in the Simpsons" entry makes me weep for Wikipedia. The encyclopedia core has now gotten an unbelievable amount of fanwank, axegrinding and crankery grafted onto it. "Hayley Westenra's new CD debuts at #17 in the New Zealand charts!"

Rogers, how come you don't answer my email?

If you look at Wikipedia as a living organism, that breathes and grows, you might find its mutability less irritating.

I think an educated eye can discern which articles are most likely to be authoritative. Our own minds can edit out the fluff.

Wikipedia forces us to reconsider some old axioms that no longer seem to apply:

1. "You get what you pay for..."
wikipedia has never cost me much and it
has paid me great dividends. Does it match the editorial rigor of the
Britannica editions? No... but who's
still buying them and enjoys such frozen
historical artifacts? Libabries... but
libararies are under similar pressures from the greatest homework tool every

2. "There's no such thing as a free
lunch". OK... but I haven't paid for any
software or commericial network
services beyond my ISP for a long time.
And I've downloaded and tested some of
the most interesting software of my 20+
year geek existence recently... FireFox,
Greasemonkey, Wordpress, OMPL, Apache,
Perl, Python, Ruby (with and without
Rails), Knoppix and other Linux
distro's... and I keep hearing people
say "If it's free then it's probably
not all that good." OK. But it's sure
fun to tinker with and re-mix into new uses...

Firewall, Blogs, Wikis... I've settled
on a PIM system based upon the Wiki
software that came directly out of the
WikiPedia.Org project (mediawiki) and
I've probably never been so organized.

All my notes are hyperlinked and
searchable and backed up... MySQL makes
that trivial using phpMyAdmin to manage it.

So, when someone discalims the benefits
of these community driven projects that
take flight I just feel frsutrated that
they don;t see the benefits
overweighing the potential defects...
espceially when they might be able to
apply that energy to fixing or at least
advocating for the repair of the

Go figure... I'm sold on the creative
potential of humanity and the benefits
we'll all reap from these Open

What would have been worth to Verisign if it hadn't been quickly recoded to function behind apache with PHP and what did that stack of software cost? No free lunch indeed... close enough to be an insignificant rounding error approaching zero.

Is anyone buying stocks in book publishing? Investments in wikipedia are
donantions to the public trust.

Give the guy a break, he's not God.

I'm his wife, you doofus.

I guess that's what you call instant karma. Ouch.

(Just kiddin', guys)

One thing the Wikipedia is so stupid about is the effort to turn the adjective "Democratic" into a noun to identify members of the Democrat party.

I subscribe to Shakespeare Sonnet A Day and it helps me to decrypt esoteric comments. However, this one from Sylvester has me stumped, "Look, those Beat cats like Kerouac and Ginsberg were the antennae of the electromagnetic revolution."

Obviously, Vince understands (probably because he wrote it) but I sure can't. Perhaps he can explain why they were akin to 'antennae?' And, what in the hell they had to do with an alcoholic anarchist and the other a mad communist...?

He was not kept in contact with the Warburtons.



Is that a question, an exclamation of sorrow, or a derisive sneer? I can't tell.

You people are evil.

This article indicates the level of responsibility the project has in regards to the information they maintain, and when they are put on notice concerning it.

The Danger of Wikipedia

for my critique of the Wikipedia article on St.Anselm, which slanders him as a homosexual. The amount of pro-gay propaganda Wikipedia is willing to cite as scholarly is astoundingly revealed in this one example.

while you are discussing trivial subject you forgot africa completely sorry guys

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