PDA

View Full Version : Wikipedia



Noclevername
2017-Feb-08, 10:42 PM
I often link to Wikipedia articles to explain concepts or show answers to questions.

This has led some to the mistaken belief that the WP articles are the source of my understanding. This is not usually the case.

I use WP to explain the basics to posters who show or profess a misunderstanding or lack of knowledge of the basics, or to fact-check simple items where the WP article seems accurate. This doesn't mean that I get my knowledge of subjects solely from Wikipedia. In most cases it's knowledge I either already had from other sources and studies, or have done some research on.

I'm not an expert by any means in any field of science. I make mistakes and sometimes give outdated or inaccurate answers. But the answers I give are usually my own. If I just get something from Wikipedia or any online source I will be sure to note that in my post.

Hornblower
2017-Feb-08, 10:50 PM
I frequently consult Wikipedia on topics I have read about in the past but have trouble finding the sources years later. I usually can get a pretty good feel about whether or not the Wiki article is a reliable one suitable for a novice.

PetersCreek
2017-Feb-08, 11:12 PM
The References section can be especially useful...or not...in getting more information about the topic.

Noclevername
2017-Feb-08, 11:57 PM
I use it mainly because it's convenient. It's usually the first Google that comes up, so it's easy to find and (usually) easy enough to understand when explaining or refreshing most basic science concepts. At least I find it suitable for that purpose.

grant hutchison
2017-Feb-09, 01:19 AM
I use it mainly because it's convenient. It's usually the first Google that comes up ...Heh. I noticed just the other day that I automatically click on the second hit that Google offers - steering around Wikipedia has become such second nature to me that I automatically pass up the first hit. I only realized this when I searched, using specific search terms, for something that I had written - and was puzzled when I couldn't find it on Google. Then I realized it was the first hit, but I hadn't seen it - I've gone first hit blind.

Grant Hutchison

Jens
2017-Feb-09, 02:46 AM
This has led some to the mistaken belief that the WP articles are the source of my understanding. This is not usually the case.


How do you know this? I'm asking because I frequently do the same, and it didn't occur to me that people would be concluding that I only learned about it from Wikipedia. Of course, there are times when I do learn something from Wikipedia. I actually use it as a language dictionary. Sometimes there's a word in Japanese that I want to get in English, and dictionaries are not always good at telling you which term is most common. By clicking between languages I can often get an explanation of terms.

Solfe
2017-Feb-09, 03:50 AM
Not only do I click buttons, I write wiki pages. No, do not be reassured. :)

I once told a professor that generally Wikipedia is a good place to find out if something exists, but beyond that, look for for the outbound links.

Speaking of which, I think I owe Roger a wikipage on an astronomer.

Noclevername
2017-Feb-09, 05:33 AM
How do you know this? I'm asking because I frequently do the same, and it didn't occur to me that people would be concluding that I only learned about it from Wikipedia.

Because several times in the past, posters here explicitly dismissed posts I'd added a WP link to for that perceived reason.

Seshat
2017-Feb-09, 07:46 AM
Heh. I noticed just the other day that I automatically click on the second hit that Google offers - steering around Wikipedia has become such second nature to me that I automatically pass up the first hit. I only realized this when I searched, using specific search terms, for something that I had written - and was puzzled when I couldn't find it on Google. Then I realized it was the first hit, but I hadn't seen it - I've gone first hit blind.

Grant Hutchison

I'm a little like this myself, avoiding Wikipedia at all costs, unless I really have to use it, and even then, it's rare. Short of going to Google Scholar, I am always trying to scrutinise other websites to see how reputable they are, and there are few that I trust at first glance (I definitely trust Universe Today, for example!) Then again, I think my wariness about Wikipedia (and going to great contortions to avoid it) is a throwback to when I was doing my first undergrad degree at university (it was a Bachelor of Arts; now I'm doing a Bachelor of Science in Zoology), when the lecturers really emphasised about not using Wikipedia. However, I've found there's a couple instances in past classes when teachers used Wikipedia, but they emphasised that it was only to supply a general introduction to students in first year papers (especially on evolution).

So in summary, I blame my determination to avoid Wiki at all costs upon my first round of university study.

grant hutchison
2017-Feb-09, 01:36 PM
Because several times in the past, posters here explicitly dismissed posts I'd added a WP link to for that perceived reason.Perhaps they're just dismissing the Wikipedia link. The provenance of the text is unknown and (as you say) it's likely to be the first hit on Google. To some extent it's like saying, "Here's what a guy I met in the pub told me - it seemed like he knew what he was talking about," and to some extent it's like saying, "Let me Google that for you." (Not to a huge extent in either case, but it can niggle.)
I'm sure most people are aware it's generally done out of courtesy, but they may not feel it's helpful or useful to the discussion.

Grant Hutchison

Noclevername
2017-Feb-09, 02:01 PM
Perhaps they're just dismissing the Wikipedia link. The provenance of the text is unknown and (as you say) it's likely to be the first hit on Google. To some extent it's like saying, "Here's what a guy I met in the pub told me - it seemed like he knew what he was talking about," and to some extent it's like saying, "Let me Google that for you." (Not to a huge extent in either case, but it can niggle.)
I'm sure most people are aware it's generally done out of courtesy, but they may not feel it's helpful or useful to the discussion.

Grant Hutchison

No, I've had posters (I won't name names) repeatedly say that they thought I got the ideas from WP. And not out of courtesy. Usually accompanied by snide commentary. They were reported appropriately.

Cougar
2017-Feb-09, 02:21 PM
....I am always trying to scrutinise other websites to see how reputable they are....

Apparently, if lots of people don't do this, it can have large social and political effects.


I think my wariness about Wikipedia (and going to great contortions to avoid it) is a throwback to when I was doing my first undergrad degree at university....

At this point, I think it's a pretty incredible source of information. When the subject of research is not controversial ("in what county is Gualala, CA?"), the information is typically quite accurate. But when there is some controversy on a subject, such as evolution or the big bang, then yes, be very circumspect about accepting what might be written there. Obviously it's not that these two subjects are in controversy within the scientific community; it's that there are small but occasionally vocal... uh, antagonists to these long-accepted scientific views. And they can edit wiki pages just like anyone else.


....(it was a Bachelor of Arts; now I'm doing a Bachelor of Science in Zoology)....

Congrats on the furthering education. Mine (of many years gone by) was Bachelor of Arts... in mathematics. :rolleyes-default:

grant hutchison
2017-Feb-09, 05:17 PM
No, I've had posters (I won't name names) repeatedly say that they thought I got the ideas from WP. And not out of courtesy. Usually accompanied by snide commentary. They were reported appropriately.I guess you could drop the Wikipedia references and start making reference to your actual sources. It might not help, though - I've been dissed for quoting from memory on something I'm expert in, and dissed for quoting from an actual physical book written by an expert (rather than an on-line source).
Sometimes people just want some way to undermine an answer they don't like.

Grant Hutchison

grant hutchison
2017-Feb-09, 05:21 PM
At this point, I think it's a pretty incredible source of information. When the subject of research is not controversial ("in what county is Gualala, CA?"), the information is typically quite accurate. But when there is some controversy on a subject, such as evolution or the big bang, then yes, be very circumspect about accepting what might be written there. Obviously it's not that these two subjects are in controversy within the scientific community; it's that there are small but occasionally vocal... uh, antagonists to these long-accepted scientific views. And they can edit wiki pages just like anyone else.The Wikipedia Talk pages are your friends, and have been a source of immense entertainment for me over the years. If you discover a bunch of single-issue loons engaged in an edit war, then you know the page isn't going to be useful; probably ever. I'm aware of a completely misleading page that has been like that for ten years, simply because one loon has more energy than several mild-mannered objectors.

Grant Hutchison

PetersCreek
2017-Feb-09, 06:33 PM
Sometimes people just want some way to undermine an answer they don't like.

Can you cite a reference for that assertion? :whistle:


The Wikipedia Talk pages are your friends, and have been a source of immense entertainment for me over the years. If you discover a bunch of single-issue loons engaged in an edit war, then you know the page isn't going to be useful; probably ever. I'm aware of a completely misleading page that has been like that for ten years, simply because one loon has more energy than several mild-mannered objectors.

I tried editing an article once, many years ago, and it turned me off of the process. It was a minor thing: the weight of an externally mounted avionic sensor I maintained in the USAF. I corrected it, citing the technical order and the contractor's published specs, to no avail. My edit was reverted with no supporting citation.

I do use Wikipedia but not uncritically.

grant hutchison
2017-Feb-09, 06:38 PM
Sometimes people just want some way to undermine an answer they don't like.Can you cite a reference for that assertion? :whistle:Here's a Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_fallacy.





:D

Grant Hutchison

DonM435
2017-Feb-09, 08:21 PM
The Wikipedia Talk pages are your friends, and have been a source of immense entertainment for me over the years. ...

These pages are always worth checking. You might find that better information has been presented, but bumped out for more strident editors with some agenda. Or useful information that was removed out of respect for some rule or nicety. On a topic that you may know very little about, the debatable aspects can be discerned. The really silly arguments are easy to ignore.

NorthernDevo
2017-Feb-09, 08:52 PM
I'm pretty much the opposite of NCN; I do use Wikipedia as a primary source of information. Simplistic as it might be it is still sometimes way over my head so for basic facts it suffices for me. If I need anything further - such as understanding what the bloody Wikipedia page says - I come here and ask. :D

Cheers!

Solfe
2017-Feb-09, 10:33 PM
I tried editing an article once, many years ago, and it turned me off of the process. It was a minor thing: the weight of an externally mounted avionic sensor I maintained in the USAF. I corrected it, citing the technical order and the contractor's published specs, to no avail. My edit was reverted with no supporting citation.

I do use Wikipedia but not uncritically.

This is why I don't write more on wikipedia. Certain areas of fact are not welcome there. For example, I wrote a page on software I was involved in. It was fine for a while then someone removed all of the info that I added. Simple things like how it worked and why. When I fixed it, the page was reverted and I was challenged on the talk page. The answer was really simple:

I decided that was how the software would work, I wrote the specification myself.

They didn't like that. Page deleted, specifically not for conflict of interest, but lack of interest. A nearly information-less page was acceptable and notable, but one with details was not. Wikipedia is slightly screwy in its treatment of experts.

Noclevername
2017-Feb-10, 12:00 AM
I used to edit WP long ago but got tired of the constant arguments and edit wars.

WaxRubiks
2017-Feb-10, 02:41 AM
I read that a group of millitant matterialists were going around WP editing pages relevant to the matterialist/non-matterialidt debate, in a very biased way, which is a shame.

Cougar
2017-Feb-10, 01:42 PM
....millitant matterialists....

Polyester apologists?

publiusr
2017-Feb-11, 06:03 PM
Because several times in the past, posters here explicitly dismissed posts I'd added a WP link to for that perceived reason.

They deleted some pro-SLS posts/links.

Not perfect--but usually they are pretty fair.

Noclevername
2017-Feb-11, 06:36 PM
They deleted some pro-SLS posts/links.

Not perfect--but usually they are pretty fair.

Which "they" are you talking about here?

WaxRubiks
2017-Feb-11, 06:44 PM
Polyester apologists?:D

publiusr
2017-Feb-11, 07:13 PM
Which "they" are you talking about here?

Here is some of the back and forth:
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Space_Launch_System&action=history

Noclevername
2017-Feb-12, 12:24 AM
Here is some of the back and forth:
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Space_Launch_System&action=history

OK, so not posters on this Forum.