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pendell
2012-03-14, 08:17 AM
After 244 years, Encylopaedia Britannica will stop publishing a printed edition (http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/13/after-244-years-encyclopaedia-britannica-stops-the-presses/). It will be delivered primarily online and directly to schools.

I suspect that's a setup for failure, because there's already an online encyclopedia called wikipedia. I personally have no need to shell out a subscription fee when I can get comparable material for free, and have editing privileges as well. I've never contributed a full article to wikipedia, but I have corrected a few and, of course, donate.

Who's gonna win, ya think?

It also brings up an interesting point about progress -- it seems like any invention you make, any progress, is going to wind up hurting someone somehow. You invent an online encyclopedia on the GPL shareware model, you drive out all the ordinary encyclopedia. You open a storefront to sell books online, you kill Borders. You invent a car, you kill the makers of horse & buggy. What's a person who takes 'do unto others as you have them do unto you' seriously to do? "Drive other people out of business so you can make a personal profit delivering things people don't really need" doesn't quite seem to fit that, does it?

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Dr.Epic
2012-03-14, 08:21 AM
After 244 years, Encylopaedia Britannica will stop publishing a printed edition (http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/13/after-244-years-encyclopaedia-britannica-stops-the-presses/). It will be delivered primarily online and directly to schools.

I suspect that's a setup for failure, because there's already an online encyclopedia called wikipedia. I personally have no need to shell out a subscription fee when I can get comparable material for free, and have editing privileges as well. I've never contributed a full article to wikipedia, but I have corrected a few and, of course, donate.

You forgetting many people (including college professors) don't trust wikipedia as a reliable source. While you may stick to it, many will still go to Britannica because it's a source they can trust that not just anybody can edit.

Megaduck
2012-03-14, 08:27 AM
You forgetting many people (including college professors) don't trust wikipedia as a reliable source. While you may stick to it, many will still go to Britannica because it's a source they can trust that not just anybody can edit.

I agree with the reliability issue but I think if you're going to be sourcing something Britannica isn't a good option either. It tends to be too shallow to be used for something like a college essay.

deuterio12
2012-03-14, 08:28 AM
You open a storefront to sell books online, you kill Borders. You invent a car, you kill the makers of horse & buggy. What's a person who takes 'do unto others as you have them do unto you' seriously to do? "Drive other people out of business so you can make a personal profit delivering things people don't really need" doesn't quite seem to fit that, does it?


Counterpoint: horse breeding is still a highly profitable business if you know what you're doing, between rich people who still want horses, horse racing, certain sports, and underdeveloped areas where an horse is still superior to a motorized vehicle.

In this case, Encylopaedia Britannica seems to be moving towards selling its business to education institutions, which'll certainly be willing to pay for acurate information, in contrast with Wikipedia where more often than not you can see clearly biased information, if not outright wrong when it comes to the more complicated scientific stuff (Pelor knows how I would be screwed in my physicis engineering course if I had to remotely base myself in wikipedia). And trying to correct it lasts around a couple of hours before somebody else decides to "correct" it back.

Devonix
2012-03-14, 08:29 AM
Exactly. Wikipedia may have fast updates and lots of info on it. But you would be a fool to take anything on it as fact without checking other sources to confirm.

Encyclopedia Britannica however is a source that you know you can immediatly trust.

Psyren
2012-03-14, 08:33 AM
Serious academic institutions already have alternatives to Britannica though - educational databases like Lexis-Nexis, LION, Emerald etc. And unlike Britannica, these contain long-text of academic essays, journals, original news articles from Time, Newsweek etc.

So who is Britannica for, then? For light homework or essays, you've got Wikipedia and the sources it draws from. For in-depth papers and theses, you've got the databases listed above.

It's the K-Mart probem all over again - not as cheap as Wal-mart, not as upscale as Target.

Mewtarthio
2012-03-14, 09:21 AM
It also brings up an interesting point about progress -- it seems like any invention you make, any progress, is going to wind up hurting someone somehow. You invent an online encyclopedia on the GPL shareware model, you drive out all the ordinary encyclopedia. You open a storefront to sell books online, you kill Borders. You invent a car, you kill the makers of horse & buggy. What's a person who takes 'do unto others as you have them do unto you' seriously to do? "Drive other people out of business so you can make a personal profit delivering things people don't really need" doesn't quite seem to fit that, does it?

If you really want to apply the Golden Rule, then ask yourself: Would I like it if someone intentionally witheld a useful technology for the benefit of a few people who manufacture obsolete products? Bear in mind, odds are pretty good that "you" will end up benefiting from this technology.

And the benefits are a lot better than "things people don't really need" would imply. Cars may have driven horses into a niche market, but people in cars can travel farther in an hour than someone on horseback could travel in a day.

Selrahc
2012-03-14, 09:35 AM
An encyclopedia is a decent source for:
Curious people.
High school students.
First year undergrads.

Wikipedia beats out an encyclopedia for the curious, but those wanting to use it in an academic context need to be sure that there aren't major errors. Which is possible for an expert produced publication in a way that isn't for crowd sourced. Most wiki articles are fine or even good, but I'm sure we've all seen a few that have odd errors. So for high school essays and early college work, using a real encyclopedia as a source is a better idea.

In higher level academics, the only use for an encyclopedia is to have a quick look at a subject, before moving onto more specialized sources. Wikipedia serves the same function and any flaws will be caught at the more specialst materials. So for higher level academic work, Wiki is probably more use due to covering a wider subject area. A good wikipedia article probably also links you to usable sources, which can be handy.

Bastian Weaver
2012-03-14, 10:34 AM
Encyclopaedia Britannica is accurate and reliable.
Wikipedia is neither.
Really, who's gonna win?

razark
2012-03-14, 10:58 AM
Encyclopaedia Britannica is accurate and reliable.
Wikipedia is neither.
Really, who's gonna win?
Well...

In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitchhiker's Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopaedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects. First, it is slightly cheaper; and second, it has the words "DON'T PANIC" inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.

How much does Wikipedia cost to use?

Seraph
2012-03-14, 10:59 AM
strictly speaking, didn't someone do a study and show that wikipedia's margin of error was extremely close to Brittanica's MoE anyway?

Selrahc
2012-03-14, 11:12 AM
strictly speaking, didn't someone do a study and show that wikipedia's margin of error was extremely close to Brittanica's MoE anyway?

I think they limited it to wikipedia articles rated Good or better. Which is what.. about 10% of it?

Bastian Weaver
2012-03-14, 11:17 AM
Well...


How much does Wikipedia cost to use?

That's science fiction, dude. It's called "fiction" on purpose.

Kinslayer
2012-03-14, 11:20 AM
I think they limited it to wikipedia articles rated Good or better. Which is what.. about 10% of it?

Probably just the Citation Needed article. :smallwink:

Joking, joking.

CarpeGuitarrem
2012-03-14, 11:49 AM
Well...


How much does Wikipedia cost to use?
HA! I hadn't even considered this. Eerie, how on-the-mark Adams could be...

SlyGuyMcFly
2012-03-14, 11:51 AM
Encyclopaedia Britannica is accurate and reliable.
Wikipedia is neither.
Really, who's gonna win?

My money's on the one that is free. :smallbiggrin:

But more seriously, it's not a binary question: Wikipedia is less accurate and reliable than Britannica, but is generally reliable enough for most purposes.

Z3ro
2012-03-14, 12:02 PM
Britannica contains errors too. The difference is that we know enough when using Wikipedia to double check the information we get, which is something you should do when using any enclycopedia.

razark
2012-03-14, 12:12 PM
That's science fiction, dude. It's called "fiction" on purpose.
Damn. And I thought Mr. Adams was writing a documentary. Looks like I'm going to have to completely change my worldview based on this new information. The good news is that I checked my historical documents from the 23rd century. Looks like this fact won't change the fact that James T. Kirk will be commanding the U.S.S. Enterprise.

However, the point that Wikipedia is cheaper still seems to be unchanged.


In many of the more relaxed civilizations areas on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy earth, the Hitchhiker's Guide Wikipedia has already supplanted the great Encyclopaedia Galactica Britannica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects. First, it is slightly cheaper; and second, it has the words "DON'T PANIC" inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover is relatively easy to access.

Bastian Weaver
2012-03-14, 12:19 PM
True. Same as the fact that it's inaccurate.
Yes, there are mistakes in Britannica, too, but they're few and far between, compared to wikipedia.
Besides, there are better and more accurate free online sources. Should we continue this discussion as "Internet vs Britannica"?

shadow_archmagi
2012-03-14, 12:20 PM
I think they limited it to wikipedia articles rated Good or better. Which is what.. about 10% of it?

The study by Nature (The more famous one) doesn't mention restricting itself to articles marked as high quality. I'm sure there's others though.


Quoth the article "In the study, entries were chosen from the websites of Wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica on a broad range of scientific disciplines and sent to a relevant expert for peer review. Each reviewer examined the entry on a single subject from the two encyclopaedias; they were not told which article came from which encyclopaedia. A total of 42 usable reviews were returned out of 50 sent out, and were then examined by Nature's news team."

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7070/full/438900a.html




But more seriously, it's not a binary question: Wikipedia is less accurate and reliable than Britannica, but is generally reliable enough for most purposes.



Only eight serious errors, such as misinterpretations of important concepts, were detected in the pairs of articles reviewed, four from each encyclopaedia. But reviewers also found many factual errors, omissions or misleading statements: 162 and 123 in Wikipedia and Britannica, respectively.


123/165 is.. about 75% as many lesser errors.

Wikipedia is imperfect, but it's a lot better than most give it credit for.

Brother Oni
2012-03-14, 05:02 PM
You forgetting many people (including college professors) don't trust wikipedia as a reliable source.

So use the citations that Wikipedia links to, to check the original source. :smallconfused:

MCerberus
2012-03-14, 05:05 PM
Wikipedia itself is a secondary source, and standard giant print encyclopedias are subject to having no enough information. They're both not really what you should be looking at, but the former has a lot hidden under its surface (as its nature as a secondary, it cites primary source).

Bastian Weaver
2012-03-14, 05:10 PM
So use the citations that Wikipedia links to, to check the original source. :smallconfused:

You don't really need wikipedia for that, do you?

SlyGuyMcFly
2012-03-14, 05:13 PM
You don't really need wikipedia for that, do you?

No, but it's nice to have all that bibliography handily listed in one place.

Bastian Weaver
2012-03-14, 05:25 PM
No, but it's nice to have all that bibliography handily listed in one place.

Indeed. And in many cases a bibliography list can be more useful than encyclopaedia.
Somehow I still think this is more "Internet vs Britannica" kind of thing, though. Or maybe "free library vs library that you need to pay for".

Lord Seth
2012-03-14, 05:33 PM
Encyclopedia Britannica however is a source that you know you can immediatly trust.Can't speak for Brittanica, but there were some things in my World Book that are definitely wrong, including when it makes the hilarious claim in its Chess article that "Most chess players in English-speaking nations use descriptive notation, also called English notation, to keep a written record of their games." (italics original) That statement hasn't been true since the 1970's. Now to be fair, this is the 2000 edition, so maybe they fixed it since, but you'd think that they'd be able to fix something like that within a few decades.

It's a minor point, true, but it goes to show that not everything in it is perfectly fact checked.

Oh, and I feel I have to post this (http://www.collegehumor.com/video/3581424/professor-wikipedia).

Soras Teva Gee
2012-03-14, 06:10 PM
Well you know I seem to remember something about this. Oh right:

Wikipedia found to be about as accurate and Britannica (http://news.cnet.com/2100-1038_3-5997332.html)

Oldie but a goodie. And I would add from my own recollections of using encyclopedias, that what minority of inaccuracies wikipedia suffers from are more then counterbalanced by its comprehensiveness and greater detail. Let's face it why should I buy a book for a short blurb when I can use my media device to get a full page report on a minor atoll (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmyra_Atoll) for free and in a fraction of the time?

Given that wikipedia even works with my Kindle (albeit not that well) I can literally access it for nothing.


So use the citations that Wikipedia links to, to check the original source. :smallconfused:

This. Ever so much this.

Wikipedia is not so much a source in itself as a research tool to get you started. Pull up your topic, read it. Then dive into cited sources.

Something much easier then any other source of knowledge I found. Cripes the days of getting pitiful blurbs off Encarta and having to BS a two page paper into existence... the 90s were a scary time kids. A scary time.

Bastian Weaver
2012-03-14, 06:19 PM
Wikipedia is not so much a source in itself as a research tool to get you started. Pull up your topic, read it. Then dive into cited sources.

Something much easier then any other source of knowledge I found. Cripes the days of getting pitiful blurbs off Encarta and having to BS a two page paper into existence... the 90s were a scary time kids. A scary time.

*Shrug*

Like I said... Internet vs Britannica. And still, a good library often beats Internet fair and square.

Soras Teva Gee
2012-03-14, 06:33 PM
*Shrug*

Like I said... Internet vs Britannica. And still, a good library often beats Internet fair and square.

Only if its got a computerized catalog of what's in it so you can find what you are looking for quickly. You run into a topic that might not have a lot of literature written on it and you are going to need a very comprehensive library to match up. A library is only as good as the books contained in it.

And the internet is the biggest library there is.

While we will always need physical archives of some nature ultimately the net is literally made for information exchange and wikipedia is one of the most powerful tools existing in it.

Bastian Weaver
2012-03-14, 06:44 PM
I still think you overestimate wikipedia. A good search engine is far more effective. See, a library is as good as the books contained - and wikipedia articles are as good as people who edit them. And some of these people are plain dumb. Many of them, actually.
Which is why I dislike wikipedia.
Speaking of libraries - naturally, by "good library" I mean a comprehensive one, with all the necessary equipment to make searching for books as quick and effective as possible.

Soras Teva Gee
2012-03-14, 07:00 PM
I find wikipedia generally the leading result for most of my search queries... so yes I see your point.

The computerized catalog was a note at how fundamentally improved by IT resources research is outlining the irony of how even a traditional library essentially demands a level of modern technology. Outlining how conceptually outdated they fundamentally are.

Physical books are essentially dead, their purpose has already been subsumed. It will just take a while longer for this to kick in. Increasingly their only role will be to serve as an ultimate but little used physical back-up to data. Paper as a medium in general is fairly close to this as well, though social inertia will likely keep it alive longer

Eakin
2012-03-14, 07:03 PM
I would trust Wikipedia over Britannica in a heartbeat. Sorry that they killed your business model, but the benefits to having a short summary blurb that gets updated in real time by users plus links to relevant articles in the citations section of the article vastly outweighs... whatever advantage Britannica is supposed to offer, exactly?

Bastian Weaver
2012-03-14, 07:04 PM
That's a popular point of view. Still, social inertia is a powerful force.


I would trust Wikipedia over Britannica in a heartbeat. Sorry that they killed your business model, but the benefits to having a short summary blurb that gets updated in real time by users plus links to relevant articles in the citations section of the article vastly outweighs... whatever advantage Britannica is supposed to offer, exactly?

Sigh. Other than the fact that it's written by people who know what they're doing, as opposed to users who often don't bother to check if there really is no difference between X-Factor (comic book team) and X-Factor (talent show)? Probably nothing...

razark
2012-03-14, 07:24 PM
See, a library is as good as the books contained - and wikipedia articles are as good as people who edit them.
But the library is over *there*, and takes effort and money to get to, whereas Wikipedia is available *here*, and is free to use, as well as taking no effort to get off my ass to use.

People will use the cheap and easy resource first, and then the more expensive and inconvenient afterward. Especially as the two are really not that different in accuracy.


Other than the fact that it's written by people who know what they're doing...
So every article in Britannica is written by an expert in the subject, instead of constructed by consolidating information from other sources, leaving out or simplifying things where needed?

Hrm:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-Factor_%28comics%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_X_Factor_%28TV_series%29
Can you please post links to Britannica's articles?

Eakin
2012-03-14, 07:33 PM
That's a popular point of view. Still, social inertia is a powerful force.



Sigh. Other than the fact that it's written by people who know what they're doing, as opposed to users who often don't bother to check if there really is no difference between X-Factor (comic book team) and X-Factor (talent show)? Probably nothing...

I think social inertia is firmly on Wiki's side in this. Object in motion tends to stay in motion, and all that.

I haven't looked at the actual articles, but is there any actual confusion between the two of these on their respective pages? If not, are there any actual factual inaccuracies that you wanted to highlight?

Soras Teva Gee
2012-03-14, 08:17 PM
That's a popular point of view. Still, social inertia is a powerful force.

Ultimately not against superior function. Sure there will be a rump of aethestic interest and nostaligia. However this applies to just about everything, I'm sure there are people who as a hobby cook meat over a wood campfire they hunted with a bow and arrow. As relevant to books hardcover publishing should be able to survive for people that want to fill bookshelves. I wouldn't hold my breath on almost anything else.

And mind you I'm talking about maybe by when I'm old and grey enough to catch Halley's Comet again, if not when I'm bones and dust. I suspect that a few centuries from now though enterprising graduate students will be doing their thesis on where the Singularity was. Said thesis however will only be printed in a accepted form for being archived somewhere, maybe.


Sigh. Other than the fact that it's written by people who know what they're doing, as opposed to users who often don't bother to check if there really is no difference between X-Factor (comic book team) and X-Factor (talent show)? Probably nothing...


Quite frankly you going to through around a confusion like that then I'm going to ask for the specifics of when and what inaccuracy you encountered. Because somebody evidently cared to establish entirely separate pages (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X_Factor) for the comics, an album, multiple incarnations indicating the television series not "(talent show)" for a one of them, mentions for items without their own pages... and a wiktionary (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/X_factor) entry for the term itself.

Perhaps you had a philosophical disagreement in the past, while its evened out with time I definitely remember a time when there were comprehensive entries one every major comic book team and character but popular television was a barren wasteland of info. Which well chock up to internet demographics and who actually cares to do the reasearch to get things right.

Which I think is perhaps says something about wikipedia. Unlike a professional encyclodpedia the massive user base and open shared format of the wiki allow those who are passionate about a topic to write about it. There's no deadlines or pressure, and nobody has to do a thing they don't want to. So if I take the time to source out a fact and write up and entry... its because I want to and I'm going to take the time to get it right. And whatever I produce has to satisfy every single person out there to nitpick and correct it.

Quite frankly wikipedia is more like the worlds largest peer-reviewed journal, not having at least a little faith (and allowances for error) in its methodology... well the professionals of any particular subject can and do get things wrong all the time.

Lord Seth
2012-03-14, 09:07 PM
The biggest issue I feel about Wikipedia is the tendency it has to be quite slanted or biased in viewpoint in some of its pages. If you're ever reading anything there about anything marginally controversial (y'know, the kind of stuff we're banned from talking about here), take whatever is on the page with a grain of salt because you can be almost certain there's going to be biases in the information given. To be fair, out-and-out inaccuracies aren't common...but slants in the way the information is presented is hardly unusual.

Heck, even on some of the pages that you'd think wouldn't have something like that can have stuff that's slanted. I remember how for one TV show, part of the article was clearly written by someone who was annoyed it was canceled and was trying to make it look like the cancellation was a bad business decision.

Wikipedia does have its good points. It's great for looking up information on current events, and it's also great for information on entertainment (e.g. TV shows, movies, books, etc.) It's been an invaluable resource, for example, whenever I want to look up past TV ratings. But for things beyond that, you should really be careful trusting it; even an article that cites sources doesn't mean the sources are actually reliable.

The more professional encyclopedias might not be perfect themselves, but you can read an article there and be more confident the information there is accurate than you can reading a Wikipedia article.

Soras Teva Gee
2012-03-14, 11:12 PM
The biggest issue I feel about Wikipedia is the tendency it has to be quite slanted or biased in viewpoint in some of its pages. If you're ever reading anything there about anything marginally controversial (y'know, the kind of stuff we're banned from talking about here), take whatever is on the page with a grain of salt because you can be almost certain there's going to be biases in the information given. To be fair, out-and-out inaccuracies aren't common...but slants in the way the information is presented is hardly unusual.

Here's the simple truth: neutrality does not exist.

You take any forbidden topic (and even some we could discuss) and almost by the mere fact that controversies and differences of opinion exist it begs how precisely we are to find a neutral opinion, especially when neutral itself can be a tacit position. The best one can hope for is that there are no outright inaccuracies but it is unrealistic to cover certain hot button topics in any depth without there being interpretation and opinion in there.

In the worst cases well... that's why anyone can edit it. Simply shrugging something off as biased as one would a book or news article, which is normally ones only option is completely resolvable under the wiki model.


The more professional encyclopedias might not be perfect themselves, but you can read an article there and be more confident the information there is accurate than you can reading a Wikipedia article.

The problem is this opinion doesn't bear up. See the above about opinion, it applies to everything. Professionals have agendas and are human same as everyone else. And people have looked at wikipedia's accuracy and while there are always going to be problems with say vandalism on a temporary basis... it being less accurate then encyclopedia's just hasn't been demonstrated.

The Nature study from a few years ago found a wikipedia less accurate, but also that Britannica had errors too and the difference wasn't so terrible. Here's (http://www.livescience.com/9938-study-wikipedia-pretty-accurate-hard-read.html) one that found wikipedia's medical info just as accurate just that the professional source was a plainer read. I suppose I can put it like this:

Wikipedia is inaccurate. [citation needed]

Otherwise you are committing the same offense of an unfounded opinion you are accusing the site of.

Bastian Weaver
2012-03-15, 02:23 AM
Oh please. Wikipedia's medical information is not accurate. I'm a doctor, just trust me on that.
Now, about X-Factor - I knew that would get some people interested. It actually did happen, although in russian part of wikipedia, where mistakes and silliness reign supreme - some doofus corrected the link from a comic book character's description from "X-Factor" (heroic team) to "X-Factor (Ukraine)" (local version of talent show).
True, the english part has lesser mistakes, but nevertheless there are there. Like the list of battles in Marvel vs DC crossover series - the article stated that "there were 11 battles between characters of both companies", which is correct, but then there was the list of 12 battles. And that, judging by article history, was a recurrent incident.
That's the problem with letting everyone edit the articles.

Ravens_cry
2012-03-15, 02:45 AM
I think Wiki model works best for topics Encyclopaedia Britannica does not cover. Artefacts of pop culture, that legions of fans will obsessively work to keep as accurate as possible, are its strengths in my opinion.
This is why I think that 'notability' is actually a bad criteria for inclusion.
Cover what mainstream encyclopaedias can or will not, use fanatical fans to their freaking (and freaky) fullest.

Bastian Weaver
2012-03-15, 02:46 AM
That's also true, yeah.

Avilan the Grey
2012-03-15, 02:55 AM
Counterpoint: horse breeding is still a highly profitable business if you know what you're doing, between rich people who still want horses, horse racing, certain sports, and underdeveloped areas where an horse is still superior to a motorized vehicle.

Oot: We have MORE horses in Sweden now than during the 1890ies. The reason is that "hobby horses" are very very popular. Every town has at least one, if not more riding academies for the public and I think a significant percentage of all households has a horse (in this case significant is in single digits, because horse are very expensive, but it is far more than you think).

Anyway, the point still stands; if we are to feel sorry for people making their living making or selling outdated technology, we will never have any progress.

As Henry Ford put it: "If I was to give people what they wanted, I would have built a faster horse" (quoted from memory).

Killer Angel
2012-03-15, 04:03 AM
Anyway, the point still stands; if we are to feel sorry for people making their living making or selling outdated technology, we will never have any progress.

As Henry Ford put it: "If I was to give people what they wanted, I would have built a faster horse" (quoted from memory).

Or we can use another speech (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfL7STmWZ1c).

Soras Teva Gee
2012-03-15, 04:45 AM
Oh please. Wikipedia's medical information is not accurate. I'm a doctor, just trust me on that.

In a word: No

In a longer form: Let us say we to be writing dueling papers on the subject. I wrote and cited sources which vouch for wikipedia's accuracy as at least comparable to professionally produced sources... and you wrote down "I know its wrong, trust me" which do you think would be credited more reputable. There is evidence that wikipedia is on the whole accurate, surely if it is not then someone must have written on the matter in a citable form that can be presented as more then a anecdote.

For sure I have found inaccuracies in the wiki myself. However I have found inaccuracies in say textbooks for example,



Now, about X-Factor - I knew that would get some people interested. It actually did happen, although in russian part of wikipedia, where mistakes and silliness reign supreme - some doofus corrected the link from a comic book character's description from "X-Factor" (heroic team) to "X-Factor (Ukraine)" (local version of talent show).
True, the english part has lesser mistakes, but nevertheless there are there. Like the list of battles in Marvel vs DC crossover series - the article stated that "there were 11 battles between characters of both companies", which is correct, but then there was the list of 12 battles. And that, judging by article history, was a recurrent incident.
That's the problem with letting everyone edit the articles.

The first sounds silly enough I'd almost suspect vandalism. Or that given it was in Russian about an American comic book character that someone had some kind of brain fart and thought the coding was invalid and tried to "correct" it to the only X-Factor they knew.

However for the second if it was specific list of who fought who... then whom exactly was invented into having had an imaginary match. If it was just the number again then what you have is less an error but a typo. Something which I've encountered in more then a few professional works. And other places like newspapers have all the time. Just peruse in a few pages to find the corrections column.

Both of these examples seem rather petty to me. Both are closer to typos then anything else.

The Succubus
2012-03-15, 04:48 AM
You forgetting many people (including college professors) don't trust wikipedia as a reliable source. *

* [citation needed]

Mauve Shirt
2012-03-15, 05:21 AM
Britannica is especially great for its article on Eskimos. "They ride sleds pulled by dogs and live in igloos." I may have an incredibly old Britannica set.
Wikipedia is free, and now that I'm not writing scholarly papers and instead am looking up things like "What's Keith Richards' son Marlon doing these days?" it wins.

deuterio12
2012-03-15, 05:43 AM
In a word: No

In a longer form: Let us say we to be writing dueling papers on the subject. I wrote and cited sources which vouch for wikipedia's accuracy as at least comparable to professionally produced sources... and you wrote down "I know its wrong, trust me" which do you think would be credited more reputable.

Considering that your sources happen to describe galaxies as cannibal teenagers (http://www.livescience.com/19035-teenage-galaxies-cannibal-eating-habits.html), I would trust more the guy with an actual doctor diploma than the clearly sensational site.

Citation presented by actual law and not just another sensational site (http://law.marquette.edu/facultyblog/2008/11/24/court-holds-that-wikipedia-entries-are-inherently-unreliable/).

Knaight
2012-03-15, 06:03 AM
Considering that your sources happen to describe galaxies as cannibal teenagers (http://www.livescience.com/19035-teenage-galaxies-cannibal-eating-habits.html), I would trust more the guy with an actual doctor diploma than the clearly sensational site.

Citation presented by actual law and not just another sensational site (http://law.marquette.edu/facultyblog/2008/11/24/court-holds-that-wikipedia-entries-are-inherently-unreliable/).

That's funny, because the actual source linked (http://news.cnet.com/2100-1038_3-5997332.html) was from CNet, which cited the scientific journal Nature. Said scientific journal is among the most prestigious, and a study regarding accuracy in it is certainly more germane to the issue of accuracy than your link, which was a ruling in regards to acceptability of legal evidence. Moreover, said ruling was dependent on the Wall Street Journal. That makes the pertinent question to the comparative quality of evidence this:

Is a scientific study in Nature more valuable than an article in the Wall Street Journal, given that the pertinence of the article is in question?

Bastian Weaver
2012-03-15, 07:27 AM
In a word: No



Okay, you don't need to trust me if you don't want to.





The first sounds silly enough I'd almost suspect vandalism. Or that given it was in Russian about an American comic book character that someone had some kind of brain fart and thought the coding was invalid and tried to "correct" it to the only X-Factor they knew.



I think it was some kind of brain fart, yeah. Which is precisely why I don't trust wikipedia. It's okay if you're reading about something that you already know about, since you can detect obvious mistakes like that. But if it's something new to you, it may cause problems.




However for the second if it was specific list of who fought who... then whom exactly was invented into having had an imaginary match. If it was just the number again then what you have is less an error but a typo. Something which I've encountered in more then a few professional works. And other places like newspapers have all the time. Just peruse in a few pages to find the corrections column.



Specific list, imaginary match. Not a typo - the number was correct, but someone added a "Green Arrow against Hawkeye" duel into the list. Which never happened, although that would've been kind of cool.
I don't like typos, but I wouldn't accuse any information source of being inaccurate and unreliable just because of typos. I'm cool like that.

Traab
2012-03-15, 07:36 AM
Hmm, just to weigh in my opinion, if done right, an online version of the britannica could be excellent. It would be a more trustworthy source of information, and if they include links to other sites that support their information, its easy to get an accepted source to overview the subject matter, and provide more trustworthy sources to pull in further information.

Soras Teva Gee
2012-03-15, 07:58 AM
Considering that your sources happen to describe galaxies as cannibal teenagers (http://www.livescience.com/19035-teenage-galaxies-cannibal-eating-habits.html), I would trust more the guy with an actual doctor diploma than the clearly sensational site.

Citation presented by actual law and not just another sensational site (http://law.marquette.edu/facultyblog/2008/11/24/court-holds-that-wikipedia-entries-are-inherently-unreliable/).

Wow way to misrepresent material there. You either did not read the article (which is rather pedestrian) or are attempting badly to make some kind of appeal to absurdity under false pretenses. Look this article title involves hyperbole the article title involves hyperbole and analogy, it must be a lying and worthless!


Likewise the one the medical study I referred to was conducted by two professors from Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and the University of Pittsburgh.

Now your other report is much more interesting. First if I'm reading it right and understand what's involved the plantiff essentially was asking the court to find something recorded in a wiki article as so broadly attested too and widely acknowledged that it may not be reasonably doubted. Essentially such common knowledge as the sun rises in the East, preventing snarky lawyers from demanding this fact be proven in court.

Yeah I'm a proponent but I think usable in a court of law a few steps up from research in a term paper myself so this is no surprise. And judicial notice (http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Judicial+Notice) is lofty by court standards. So yeah there is an element of inherent unreliablity to wikipedia, something which at this level would apply to most any source.

And put properly this is not a statement on wikipedia's accuracy or even its admissibility in other forms as evidence... just that it is not undisputable as self-evident truth. On could still potentially enter it into evidence in other contexts, just that it would be subject to dispute by the opposing advocate. Which mind you would be where say, expert testimony is for example so its not at all meaningful here.


Specific list, imaginary match. Not a typo - the number was correct, but someone added a "Green Arrow against Hawkeye" duel into the list. Which never happened, although that would've been kind of cool.
I don't like typos, but I wouldn't accuse any information source of being inaccurate and unreliable just because of typos. I'm cool like that.

Actually that match-up did actually happen, and got to running gag level since I don't recall it having a conclusion other then Clint and Ollie arguing non-stop... in JLA/Avengers. Which is possibly the most awesome comic ever made. Cap versus Bats, Supes versus Thor! No idiot popularity contests! No Wolverine*!

So yeah I can see where that came from. But nobody is suggesting blindly trusting everything on wikipedia either. Heck if you begin and end there you are frankly stupid and asking for any errors you get. Because while they are more comprehensive then other general sources, wiki pages are still ultimately middle men.

I've caught and corrected errors there myself, for comics as it happens, but think about it like this... what professional encyclopedia would even cover the minutiae of a comic book event at all to be wrong about in the first place. And in a format where one could just happen to stumble across it on in quickly linkable form from a related page. Encyclopedia Brittanica... you might get a mention the event was published and that would be a big step up from when I was in school using it.

*(No Wolverine not guaranteed just about everyone cameoed in that comic for a panel, he wasn't important though that's for sure!)

Psyren
2012-03-15, 10:51 AM
That's science fiction, dude. It's called "fiction" on purpose.

This might shock you, but Animal Farm wasn't really about animals!


You don't really need wikipedia for that, do you?

By that logic, why would you need any encyclopedia? All of them are based on deeper sources after all (studies, reports etc.)

Bastian Weaver
2012-03-15, 11:09 AM
Actually that match-up did actually happen, and got to running gag level since I don't recall it having a conclusion other then Clint and Ollie arguing non-stop... in JLA/Avengers. Which is possibly the most awesome comic ever made. Cap versus Bats, Supes versus Thor! No idiot popularity contests! No Wolverine*!



I think JLA/Avengers was published after DC vs Marvel, no? Haven't actually read it. Pretty sure it wasn't about an "interuniversal tournament", too. And it wasn't fan-voted. So... guess someone mistook it for part of the tournament thingie.
As I've said, never read it. Why bother if Jubilee didn't participate...
True, real encyclopaedia wouldn't include any information on all that, but at least it would be accurate in its abscense of information! See?



This might shock you, but Animal Farm wasn't really about animals!

Tomeyto, tomahto, humans are animals, too, right?

Telonius
2012-03-15, 11:39 AM
Personally, I think Britannica's going to lose this one, for several reasons. First, Wiki's free, and Britannica isn't. Regardless of anything else, that puts it at a huge disadvantage. Libraries have severely strapped budgets recently. Duplication of resources is a prime candidate for the chopping block. It's pretty obvious that nobody's willing to pay $1400 for a physical set of the books; I don't see how they're going to charge anything significant for an electronic copy.

Its second big problem is that the sources of information it draws from are frequently available online and for free. Wikipedia is just as likely (if not more so) to directly link to that outside source material to buttress its claims. That outside source material is really the most important part of any encyclopedia-ish thing, as far as research is concerned. I don't know of any college course that would accept either Wiki or Britannica as a source. But go to the sources they cite, and track down the original data? You have yourself a reference. And if you're not writing an academic paper and just want to get some idea of what a subject is about? I really don't see the advantage of one over the other.

Third problem is familiarity. The last time I even saw a copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica, I was in grade school and the edition was something like 10 years out of date. Meanwhile, most people under the age of 35 who have any sort of internet access know what Wikipedia is and have looked in at least a few articles there. They're familiar with the product, they know what it is, they know its limitations. Unless the content that Britannica is offering is so revolutionary that it makes Wikipedia look puny in comparison, people aren't going to switch to it - especially if costs money.

Related to familiarity, is the fourth problem, lack of trust. Since people aren't familiar with Britannica anymore, they have no particular reason to trust it more than they trust Wikipedia. They don't know the people who write Britannica, or what their qualifications are. They don't know the people who write the Wikis either, but they know that there's a correction mechanism (however flawed) if somebody gets their facts wrong. What's more, the critiques and editing history are publicly available if somebody cares that much about it. With Britannica, the correction mechanism is ... not very obvious. A bunch of rich British guys in a smoke-filled room discussing it politely over brandy? (Obviously that's not the case, but you get the idea).

Psyren
2012-03-15, 12:58 PM
Tomeyto, tomahto, humans are animals, too, right?

My point was that being fictional does not stop something from having literary merit. Much of Shakespeare was fictional, and so is Order of the Stick.

Bastian Weaver
2012-03-15, 02:28 PM
Never said that Shakespeare, or Order of the Stick, or Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy didn't have merit.

MammonAzrael
2012-03-15, 02:46 PM
My point was that being fictional does not stop something from having literary merit. Much of Shakespeare was fictional, and so is Order of the Stick.

I think a more apt comparison would be 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or From the Earth to the Moon. While the stories in question may be science fiction, the scientific fiction they present could still become reality with progress.

Lord Seth
2012-03-15, 03:52 PM
The problem is this opinion doesn't bear up. See the above about opinion, it applies to everything. Professionals have agendas and are human same as everyone else. And people have looked at wikipedia's accuracy and while there are always going to be problems with say vandalism on a temporary basis... it being less accurate then encyclopedia's just hasn't been demonstrated.

The Nature study from a few years ago found a wikipedia less accurate, but also that Britannica had errors too and the difference wasn't so terrible.Thing is, immediately after you say it being less accurate than encyclopedias hasn't been demonstrated, the cite you source says it is less accurate. Maybe not by as much as some people claim (still, having 31.7% more errors is enough to be considered noticeable), but still less accurate. And considering that what I said was:
The more professional encyclopedias might not be perfect themselves, but you can read an article there and be more confident the information there is accurate than you can reading a Wikipedia article.I'm not entirely certain how a study that says "Wikipedia has 31.7% more inaccuracies than Britannica" isn't completely in line with what I said.

Bastian Weaver
2012-03-15, 05:44 PM
I think a more apt comparison would be 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or From the Earth to the Moon. While the stories in question may be science fiction, the scientific fiction they present could still become reality with progress.

You mean we would really have octopus skeletons in the museums? That's... unlikely.

The Unborne
2012-03-15, 09:06 PM
You mean we would really have octopus skeletons in the museums? That's... unlikely.

Missing the point. If we take a butchered, mimetic approach where literature represents reality. We can read strange and loony ideas and see how they relate to our own world. Doubt you'll see an octopus skeleton? Go ahead, but it doesn't change the fact that if something exotic exists humans will put it on display.

Reading so literally sort of blinds one from the perfectly acceptable metaphor The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy presents in regards to Wiki vs Britannica.

Knaight
2012-03-16, 12:18 AM
Thing is, immediately after you say it being less accurate than encyclopedias hasn't been demonstrated, the cite you source says it is less accurate. Maybe not by as much as some people claim (still, having 31.7% more errors is enough to be considered noticeable), but still less accurate. And considering that what I said was:I'm not entirely certain how a study that says "Wikipedia has 31.7% more inaccuracies than Britannica" isn't completely in line with what I said.

If Wikipedia articles are, on average, at least 31.7% longer than Britannica articles Wikipedia actually comes out ahead. Moreover, this is close enough that treating one as a worthwhile source and demonizing the other is inconsistent - either both have to be dismissed (which is standard, given that they are encyclopedias) or both have to be usable.

Lord Seth
2012-03-16, 12:55 AM
If Wikipedia articles are, on average, at least 31.7% longer than Britannica articles Wikipedia actually comes out ahead.Quoting from a supplement to the study:
"Only entries that were approximately the same length in both encyclopaedias were selected."

Killer Angel
2012-03-16, 06:39 AM
Thing is, immediately after you say it being less accurate than encyclopedias hasn't been demonstrated, the cite you source says it is less accurate. Maybe not by as much as some people claim (still, having 31.7% more errors is enough to be considered noticeable), but still less accurate. And considering that what I said was:I'm not entirely certain how a study that says "Wikipedia has 31.7% more inaccuracies than Britannica" isn't completely in line with what I said.

The fact is: we know that wikipedia may contain errors. It's often declared in the page itself, when there's an affirmation without source, or when a citation is needed. There's a ranking for the goodness of certain pages.
THe user is aware.
Britannica (at least the paper version) was always been served as "The Truth". Only it's not always so. And, especially with the paper, many infos become updated very quickly.
In the new version, do Britannica adopt a similar level of cautiousness (and evolution) as wiki, saying that some voices should be checked, or again it will be "The Truth"?

pendell
2012-03-16, 08:36 AM
I have a question for any teachers or professors reading this thread: Do you accept wikipedia or Britannica as sources for term papers? In primary or secondary education? At the university level?

Respectfully,

Brian P.

pendell
2012-03-27, 10:14 AM
Only a week old so it's not quite dead yet. I guess I can post here.

It seems that some are quite thrilled to see the Britannica gone (http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2012/03/the_encyclopedia_britannica_was_expensive_useless_ and_exploitative_i_m_glad_it_s_gone_.html)



It was either a door-to-door salesman or a hawker at the county fair who suckered my parents into buying the Encyclopedia Britannica. My folks have always been putty for smooth salesmen—over the years they’ve been cowed into paying too much for a supposedly amazing vacuum cleaner, a set of purportedly indestructible kitchen knives, a home water softener, and too many infomercial gadgets to name. They were the perfect marks for the encyclopedia man: They wanted to give their kids a good start in life, they believed in the expansive possibilities of consumer goods, and they trusted the authority of the Britannica name.

I don’t know exactly how much they shelled out for those books, but I remember it was a major purchase—big enough that they had to pay on an installment plan, and big enough that when the books arrived in the mail, we greeted them as joyously as we would a new car. My sister and I cleared a space on the bookshelf and carefully installed them in alphabetical order. And that’s pretty much where they’ve remained, mostly unopened and forgotten, ever since.

During all of middle- and high school, I reached for the Britannica two or three times, at most. I remember wanting to find the books illuminating but always finding the experience unfulfilling. Nothing about the design was meant to appeal to young minds—the volumes were heavy, the organization cumbersome, the print too small, the prose impenetrable. Looking back, it’s obvious that of all the gimmicky things my parents bought, these books were their biggest mistake—the most expensive, the most useless, and the most exploitative. That’s why I felt no twinge of sadness when the Britannica company announced this week that it has suspended its print edition. From now on, no more impressionable parents will be guilted into spending enormous sums—the set now goes for $1,400—to help their kids do better in school. Good riddance!

...

My advice is to make the wiser, cheaper choice, one that will prove more helpful to your kids in the long run: Pay nothing to Britannica and teach your young ones to use Google and Wikipedia. While there are many legitimate complaints to be leveled at Wikipedia (rarely, it gets things wrong; sometimes, its entries are vandalized), the free, crowdsourced encyclopedia is better than Britannica in every way. It’s cheaper, it’s bigger, it’s more accessible, it’s more inclusive of differing viewpoints and subjects beyond traditional academic scholarship, its entries tend to include more references, and it is more up to date.

Most importantly, learning to navigate Google and Wikipedia prepares you for the real world, while learning to use Britannica teaches you nothing beyond whatever subject you’re investigating at the moment. ...

But even if it were true that Britannica is substantially more accurate than Wikipedia, why do you want your kids to learn in a cloistered ecosystem that’s separate from the rest of the media? In today’s news environment, you can’t blindly trust anything you see—you have to question everything for yourself. Britannica promotes blind trust. Wikipedia invites investigation.

...

Don’t buy what Britannica’s selling. Its reliance on expert authority may yield mostly accurate information, but it teaches kids to believe everything they read. If you pay for this service, you’re building a cocoon of truth around students who’ll one day enter a world where everyone claims to be an expert—and where a lot of those people are lying. If you want to learn to suss out the liars, there’s no better training than Wikipedia.


I think I agree with him.

Respectfully,

Brian P.

Killer Angel
2012-03-27, 11:19 AM
Britannica promotes blind trust. Wikipedia invites investigation.

Which is basically what I was advocating in my previous post... :smallsmile:

Soras Teva Gee
2012-03-27, 12:19 PM
Article makes all good points though for my tastes still doesn't emphasize enough wikipedia still being sufficiently accurate to be worthy of trust enough to need to be proved wrong, and not blithely dismissed out of hand as 'oh anyone can write that' or other such patently inaccurate stereotyping.

Given it is still directly related and all.

VanBuren
2012-03-27, 02:09 PM
You forgetting many people (including college professors) don't trust wikipedia as a reliable source. While you may stick to it, many will still go to Britannica because it's a source they can trust that not just anybody can edit.

What college professor worth his or her salt is going to rely on any encyclopedia?

SaintRidley
2012-03-27, 06:10 PM
I have a question for any teachers or professors reading this thread: Do you accept wikipedia or Britannica as sources for term papers? In primary or secondary education? At the university level?

Respectfully,

Brian P.

In elementary school, doing an elementary school type project? Sure, go to an encyclopedia, kid. No issues. Don't really care which one, either.

Once you're at high school or university? No, I would not accept an encyclopedia as a source. You should be able to find scholarly sources that are not an encyclopedia with ease. You'll learn more if you do that, too.

Jothki
2012-03-27, 07:38 PM
Anyone remember Encarta? No? Come on, it had that awesome trivia maze game. Yeah, Encarta was the encyclopedia attached to that game.

As far as I'm aware Britannica doesn't have an awesome trivia maze game built in, so I have a good guess at how it's going to end up.

Soras Teva Gee
2012-03-27, 08:46 PM
Hey Encarta got me through middle school... and became utterly useless in highschool where I wrote all of three papers that actually needed cited sources and research.

Yeah see my teachers were more interested in us being able to analyze material and write a coherent argument for our thesis, then needing to cite menial details where Lincoln was born. Gee being taught to think just not shovel in facts, what a concept ehh?

Of the three where you did have to produce something more... an encyclopedia wasn't going to cut it if you wanted that vaunted B grade. Fortunately the library had a fascinating if badly out of date book on cosmology. That or it just didn't point out that Steady State was widely discredited and String Theory was like hot off the presses or something. Not a peep about Dark Energy though. Yes I did a research paper on physics, actually for English class. One of those pick your own topic deals.

Then again I did a paper on nuclear weapons in like 5th grade, what the heck that even a light concept-oriented book on ICBMs and thermonuclear weapons was doing in an elementary school library I will still never know.