Wednesday, November 04, 2009


I feel like I'm in danger of raging against an argument that nobody makes. But I've been so annoyed by Oliver Kamm's objections to wikipedia for so long that I may as well just get it out of my system a bit. Here are some of the things he's said

Wikipedia deserves worse than contumely and derision, for it is pernicious in conception rather than merely flawed in execution.
I accept of course that there are many good articles alongside others that are a total disgrace... But the balance of good and bad articles is beside the point. The ethos of Wikipedia is destructive, because it is by design a forum that anyone can join in. Knowledge isn't democratic.
Beside the point?!!?? How can the fact that there are millions or great entries be beside the point!?? His complaint would carry some weight if the good and bad articles were randomly distributed, but they're not. Entries on the merits of some fancy new pharmaceutical or the crisis in the middle east are going to be less trustworthy than entries giving biographical info about some moderately famous person or the basic info and summary of a movie.

I suppose the fact that it's as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britannica is also beside the point, because any particular bit could be deliberatly change to something wrong.

A source of an amazing range of information (as well as information about where to get further information) that's as likely to be right as most other sources. Yip, better get rid of it.


Sid said...

I was doing some research on breast cancer. First place I went to was Wiki. One of the facts was that "exposure to sperm cures breast cancer". Upon further research I realised that the author had misinterpreted the results of the research.

My point is that Wiki is one 100% accurate and you shouldn't rely on it soley BUT it is a good starting point. It gives you a list of references to back up it's "facts". If you're not lazy you can easily determine whether it's bullshit.

mutt said...

I completely agree.