Wikipedia may have limitations but it's becoming a very powerful reference tool

Does one have an obligation to correct everything they come across on the web that’s wrong, if there’s a mechanism to do so? I spend too much time on the web as it is.

Wikipedia does have the mechanism. It is a special case. Similar to Snopes and Straight Dope. These are in a way collective knowledgebases and if you find the time to address an issue, you improve the overall availability of accurate knowledge. KellyM suggestions are excellent. Wiki is meant to evolve and eventually encompass all human knowledge.

I know it has a mechanism, my point is that just because it does, that does not mean I’m obligated to use it. I understand the advantages, but I bristle at the “why the hell not” as if I’m obligated to spend my time to correct it just because it’s possible.

Wikipedia provides a very easy way to correct errors. If you refuse to correct the errors, I think you’re not entitled to complain about them.

The first two Wiki links I followed were so full of factual errors that I now weigh a link to Wiki as the equivalent to a link to

IOW, if that’s all you got. don’t bother.

Let him be, he can complain. He said he uses it anyway. If he only corrects one artilcle one day in the future, he will have contributed. I try to make the time on the few articles where I can actually add something useful to make the changes. So far these have been largely fluff areas like baseball and Heinlein books and 1 minor update to a LoTR article.
**How easy is it to flag disputed? ** There is no obvious button in the edit mode.
Most people are just going to use wikipedia as a quick reference, when they need to get details on a subject they already know and they see something wrong, they will move on to the next resource.

So Revtim: hopefully you will spend some time correcting articles you find that are factually wrong, but don’t feel obligated.

Which articles and is it possible that the facts are really your beliefs?

You don’t need to use it but don’t dismiss it so quickly.
If you want township census information with hotlinks to State Information it is better than what the US government offers.
If you want an article on Evolution, you may strongly disagree with the article.
If you want minutia in the field of Quantum Physics, you probably won’t get it.
Do you want a quick overview of Ted Williams or the Battle of the Bulge? Then wikipedia is a great resource.

As hard as typing {{disputed}} at the top of the article. I know, it’s not extremely obvious. If you have suggestions on how to improve it, please let me know.

I realize that a lot of people don’t get the idea that they can edit the articles. I’m one of the people who reads Wikipedia’s mail; we get not a small number of emails telling us “such and such an article is wrong, here’s what it should be”. Being the nice people that we are, we usually incorporate their changes ourselves, and send them a note reminding them that Wikipedia is a wiki and they can edit it themselves. We’d much rather have people make their own edits than email us asking us to do it for them.

Please consider my comments here to be part of an ongoing public education campaign to remind people that, yes, they can edit Wikipedia, so please do so!

I disagree; just because a website is created with a correction mechanism, does not mean I cannot speak of its inaccuracy unless I’m willing or able to spend the time to make corrections.

To be clear, I’m a big of Wikipedia, I think it is a wonderful idea and already a very useful resource. I think it may truly become the most useful source of information on the planet, in a few years. That would not surprise one bit.

But its simple existance makes no obligation upon the rest of the word to not comment on it unless they are able or willing to spend the time to contribute. If I make my own wiki, with the included correction mechanism, I’d make no claim that others cannot comment on its accuracy unless they have the time or ability to correct it themselves.

My hypothetical creation creates no obligations of others, neither of silence nor of time/work, and hence neither does Wikipedia.

No, belief doesn’t enter into it…these were plain factual errors.

A Grumman Wildcat is an F4F not an F6F no matter how much I might believe otherwise.

Ok, I will admit that I’m a bit invested in Wikipedia; I have some 6000 edits there, I’m an administrator and a likely candidate for the arbitration committee, and I have a monthly pledge to the Foundation. I also understand time management issues; I have a long list of “things I should do” on Wikipedia that I will likely never get to because of all the other things I have stacked up to do.

But people who complain about accuracy and who refuse to even make an effort to correct errors still tick me off. So it depends on whether you’re refusing to do it out of pique or because you really don’t have time. And I’d really encourage you to find the time. Please. :slight_smile:

As hard as typing {{disputed}} at the top of the article. I know, it’s not extremely obvious. If you have suggestions on how to improve it, please let me know. …snip…QUOTE]

If what you just posted was somewhere obvious on pages or at least the edit pages it would probably get used more.
I know a lot of people use Wiki by links from Google. They will never think about editing the article. I try to but I am not an expert in much more of a jack of all trades.
There is no other free content resource as useful as Wikipedia. **It is growing better daily. ** You do need to be tolerant of criticism. They are not ethically required to take the time to update.
I suppose we are ethically required to encourage others to contribute by editing and entering discussions on the articles.


Please, when you see something factually wrong or disputed, please take the time to Edit the article or enter into a discussion on it. Even more importantly if you happen upon a stub and you know more detail. Go back at some point and expand on it.

Darn I snipped too much, and I took too long to reply.

I love Wikipedia. But it looks like it’s almost a religion to some. :smiley:

We’re on the same page there, I hope more people (who are confident of their info) contribute. I’ve yet to come across an article I feel I have anything to add to, but if I do I promise I’ll try.

I wasn’t just blowing smoke when I said I think it might become literally the most important information source on the planet. This could be something huge, and integral to people’s lives. Expecially once there’s a good WAP interface. A portable device with access to Wikipedia and Google is like having God in your pocket (to paraphrase somebody who already made that statement but just about Google).

I only stumpled across Wikipedia today and was so enamored I felt I had to post a comment on what a great idea I thought it was. The only thing I found was a place to lodge a complaint. I followed the path and found the info on newbies. At this point my only complaint is that I couldn’t find a place to say “great idea”. Looking forward to exploring it further.

I have frequently wished that Wikipedia was better behaved on handheld devices. I haven’t talked to the developers lately to see if anything is being done on this front, though.

As to jrfranchi’s points, if I have some time I’ll look at improving the instructional text at the bottom of the edit page. The text in question is actually found in [[MediaWiki:copyrightwarning]] and while nonadmins can’t edit that (the entire MediaWiki namespace is protected for relatively obvious reasons), you can post comments and suggestions at its associated talk page. If you have any suggestions for better bottom content on the edit page, please make them there. I don’t know if there’s a MediaWiki: template for the top of the page or not; would have to ask a dev or look at the php source for that.

biscuithead, you can always send kudos to and we’ll send you a nice “thank you for the compliment” email in return. When I raised this issue on one of our IRC channels, the comment was “a ‘leave your compliments here’ is shockingly immodest”. We might add a “comments” area but there are concerns about the effort required to manage such an area. Still, it’s a matter to be discussed.

It’s funny, I’ve spent so many spare minutes on SD & SDMB lately that I have spent minimal time surfing around wiki lately. Most of my wiki hits lately have been to answer questions here on SDMB.
PC Mag had a great writeup on wikipedia about 3-4 years ago and I have been a heavy user since then. I wish I could find the article and date. It was a site recommendation and possibly in PC World instead.

This was a more recent one I had not seen before:
This one is from last year:,1895,1680452,00.asp

By the way, I noticed that Wikipedia has gone from **130,000 ** articles in 2003 to In this English version, started in 2001, we are currently working on 751,088 articles.

It’s my first source for an encyclopedia-type query. I still don’t get how it tends to remain so objective. In a nutshell, what stops controversial issues from being constantly re-edited in favor of one side?

The pages that are obviously going to be controversial, like those of Evolution, George Bush and Tony Blair, are also being watched all the time in case of biased edits. In addition, as I understand it, all edits go into a file where they can easily be reviewed.

(But I’ve just used the Wikpedia, never contributed anythng)