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Fuck 'Wikipedia'

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1proximity1
Edited: May 5, 3:36am Top


( Cover image from History's Greatest Lies by William Weir )

Fuck 'Wikipedia'


"Wisdom?: More like Dumbness of the Crowds"

Wikipedia seeks not truth but consensus, and like an interminable political meeting the end result will be dominated by the loudest and most persistent voices.

http://oliverkamm.typepad.com/blog/2007/08/wisdom-more-lik.html



Extremely few of the millions of visitors which visit the Wikipedia internet site on any given day have any awareness of the characteristics of its core cadre of what are called “editors”—those who perform the majority of the site's text-editing and, especially, supervise new-comers, those who have no experience in writing and editing the site's articles.

Wikipedia is a haven of conventional opinion—whether it is right or wrong, astute or stupid, for better or for worse, opinion—which its cult-like supporters describe and arrogantly impose, "justified" as “consensus”—a prime example of their loaded-language which hides and distorts the more accurate truth of the matter in so many, many respects at the site.

Even when it comes to the most mundane matters, having little of anything controversial about their particulars, Wikipedia's articles can be full of trite, superficial and ill-considered opinion masquerading as fact and supported by a selection of references which serve to support the claimed views.

But, when matters concern hotly contested beliefs, those where facts are passionately disputed, the site is a worthless piece of shit—except as a mirror of the larger society's division of opinion and, where the majority of the opinion is stupid, dishonest, vile, and distorting of the truth, then that is the ”consensus” which the reader shall find presented as “fact” to the oppressive exclusion of contrary opinion.

Suggested Further reading:

"Wikipedia or Wickedpedia?" (2008)
Assessing the online encyclopedia’s impact on K–12 education
By Michael J. Petrilli
http://educationnext.org/wikipedia-or-wickedpedia/

The Rise and Decline of an Open Collaboration System: How Wikipedia’s Reaction to Popularity Is Causing Its Decline (2012)
Aaron Halfaker, R. Stuart Geiger, Jonathan T. Morgan, John Riedl
First Published December 28, 2012
Link: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0002764212469365

Log on and join in, but beware the web cults” by Charles Arthur (The Guardian (London))
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2005/dec/15/wikipedia.web20

Common Knowledge?: An Ethnography of Wikipedia (2014)
https://muse.jhu.edu/article/644166/pdf

2mamzel
May 5, 3:04pm Top

>1 proximity1: First of all, you might want to reconsider quoting articles about technology that are 10+ years old.

I work in a public high school library so I would like to let you know how Wikipedia is addressed here. We tell students repeatedly that they may not use Wikipedia as a research source and why. We also teach them how to evaluate web sites on bases of currency, reliability, bias, scholarship, etc. Our library catalog is full of current nonfiction addressing the topics they need to research and we subscribe to databases which offer edited articles on all manners of topics of the day. Be assured that our students are fully aware of the issues of Wikipedia and they are offered more reliable alternatives.

May I hazard a guess that you attended school pre-computers? You will be glad to know that teachers are in tune with what students are apt to do and try to stay, if not two steps ahead, then at least in step with them.

The best thing about Wikipedia is that it is available but you are in no obligation to use it. I myself use it as the fastest way to quick check a date or spelling of a name or how many episodes of Doctor Who number 4 there were. I would not use it to evaluate a lesion on my leg or any other legal or safety matters that might have disastrous consequences. Anyone who does is playing with fire.

3proximity1
Edited: May 6, 8:11am Top

>2 mamzel:

thanks for the reply. I was prepared for much worse in understanding and I really am always interested in hearing from people who are currently working in primary or secondary school education--librarians not least.

So, about your comments---

..."so I would like to let you know how Wikipedia is addressed here. We tell students repeatedly that they may not use Wikipedia as a research source and why."

Granted. I suspect that this has little or even, perhaps most likely, no influence at all on their tendencies to actually turn to and read Wikipedia as a first-resort. That does not mean that I think they'd be so bold as to cite it, but I suspect that they routinely read it before they read anything else on a topic about which they know next-to-nothing; such was, until _very_ recently _my_ own habit--and you are correct: I'm thoroughly a product of the pre-networked-computer age and the printed, bound book is my sole idea of what's known as "reading."

"We also teach them how to evaluate web sites on bases of currency, reliability, bias, scholarship, etc."

That is, the students are lectured on these points. Granted. Your faith in their responsiveness is really very touching.


"Our library catalog is full of current nonfiction addressing the topics they need to research and we subscribe to databases which offer edited articles on all manners of topics of the day. Be assured that our students are fully aware of the issues of Wikipedia and they are offered more reliable alternatives."

That's a start at reassurance. I wonder: are they told that Wikipedia is, for some purposes, no better than a cult-group's propagandizing? Do they understand what that would mean if they were told it?

"May I hazard a guess that you attended school (except for university's punchcard-reader/mainframe ) computers pre-computers?"

Yes, quite so.

You will be glad to know that teachers are in tune with what students are apt to do and try to stay, if not two steps ahead, then at least in step with them.

"The best thing about Wikipedia is that it is available"...

actually, I'd describe that as the worst thing about it.

..."but you are in no obligation to use it."

People weren't--in theory--under any obligatgion to surrender their privacy-rights. But they did so just the same. What's theoretically possible and practically feasible are often worlds apart.

"I myself use it as the fastest way to quick check a date or spelling of a name or how many episodes of Doctor Who number 4 there were. I would not use it to evaluate a lesion on my leg or any other legal or safety matters that might have disastrous consequences."

I was used to using it far more carelessly. Thus I suspect that others do this and much worse--they have neither my reading history or interests. They have Wikipedia and, I fear, a too-blind faith.

"Anyone who does is playing with fire."

And fires break out and people get burned everyday. Minors not least of all. Unfortnately, there's no "911" and no fire-fighters one can call when Wikipedia fires are raging--and they are, continually.

4alco261
Edited: May 6, 8:49am Top

>1 proximity1: The impression I get from your initial post is one of a blanket condemnation of Wikipedia. If that is true then I would have to disagree. If you are looking for a quick overview/understanding/initial reference for technical subjects - engineering, physics, chemistry, mathematics, statistics, etc. Wikipedia is a great place to start.

As a statistician there have been numerous times when some article dealing with statistics has mentioned some statistical method with which I'm not familiar. At its best the entry in Wikipedia will be all I need for job at hand. At its worst it won't have anything to offer. At its typical it will provide me with enough information to allow me to do a quick and focused search to find the detailed information I need.

I find >2 mamzel: post interesting in that it just shows that nothing much has changed. When I was in school the same warnings were issued to us by our teachers but the object which was declared off limits as a research source was the Encyclopedia Britannica or whatever other brand of Encyclopedia the school had sitting on a large shelf on a large table in the school library.

One of the more enjoyable time wasters some of us would indulge in from time to time would be to rummage through the encyclopedia trying to find copyright facts - that is facts about things that didn't exist. All of the encyclopedias (and all maps too) have/had copyright facts to guard against plagiarism from competitors.

One of the worst copyright facts I ever had to deal with was a copyright town on a map of Wyoming. I was counting on that town being there because I was low on gas and when I got to the spot and found nothing I had to press on. I ran out of gas about a mile outside of the next town which happened to be a real one.

5proximity1
Edited: May 6, 9:40am Top

>4 alco261:

"If that is true then I would have to disagree. If you are looking for a quick overview/understanding/initial reference for technical subjects - engineering, physics, chemistry, mathematics, statistics, etc. Wikipedia is a great place to start."

It depends on the technical subject one is interested in. For the most basic science, there's often little in dispute--though even this is not _always_ true. My point is that wherever and whenever there is any significant controversy --even in isolated aspects of otherwise rather "settled" and accepted topics--one is unwise to take Wikipedia's presentation at face value and one would probably be better off using the time to investigate real sources instead of source-aggregators.

If one is interested in Shakespeare, for example, the site is a complete waste of time ---except as a catalog of received opinion which is just ahistorical nonsense based on folkloric traditions which go back to witch-trial days and are of no better value than accounts of bewitched people. That is the level of understanding that is still prevalent in orthodox scholarship on Shakspere--a belief in sorcery and spells and possession by the devil. And, this, from people with Ph.D.s in literature maliciously holding a virtual monopoly of "authoritative (self-referential) opinion" on "their" topic.

Most of all, as a characteristic general practice, the site takes and uses--one should rather say grossly abuses --the concept of "consensus." This is supposed to solve all issues, problems and ills. Unfortunately, "consensus", in "Wikipedia World" is practically tantamount to "whatever I and my like-minded experienced-and-aprroved long-term 'editors' with lots of home 'mojo' decide we like." Anything outside this is, sorry, "not consensual." And they aim to keep things that way.

I suggest leaving Wikipedia to die of neglect. It's deserved.

6RickHarsch
May 6, 10:45am Top

We are all left to make our own decisions regarding technology, at least where an option is available. I would rather not need a car, but where I live I must have one to survive economically.

Wikipedia is for quick, indisputable facts, as already suggested. Cell phones are for leaving at home so as not to become half robot.

The problem that seems to have arisen here is that disgust with the technoworld disturbs the peace of some of us who hate the general technoflush of change. But it need not be so. We must not be disturbed that, for instance, someone arguing Iranian politics on LT is cribbing from Wikipedia. As long as I am not, I should be content. As for Shakespeare scholars...I sincerely doubt many spend more than a fraction of time on Wikileaks and the effect on Shakespeare scholarship is unlikely to be noticeable.

7Kuiperdolin
Edited: May 6, 4:41pm Top

There are wikipedias and wikipedias.

The English wikipedia is mostly fine. Probably too big to fail at that point.

The French one has been largely overrun by the fans and the shills. Most biographies of alive authors read more like a press statement from their publishers than an actual article. It also never really reached a critical mass, and what nonpartisan articles it has are anemic and poorly-written. Even on entirely French subjects the English one is generally a more useful resource. I suspect the same goes of wikipedia in many second-rate languages.

Then there's the endless ranks of "me too" languages no one reads and no one wants to read. Occitan, Breton, Northern South West Podlevian, you name it. They're all empty except for a few demonstration articles and a timecube-length dithyramb about themselves. As far as I can tell their only function is to clutter the sidebar of the real wikipedia. A kind of global Potemkin village.

8RickHarsch
May 6, 4:49pm Top

'second-rate languages'!

9Crypto-Willobie
May 6, 5:40pm Top

When I saw this thread was started by prolixity1 and was bashing Wikipedia, I wondered how long it would be until the issue of Shakespeare authorship would arise. He managed to hold off until Message 5.

Some Wikipedia articles are out of date or crap, and some are well done and informative. Most of the ones on Shakespeare are monitored by people with sensible views and so anti-Shakespearean trolls find themselves unable to overwhelm them with imaginary scenarios, unfounded assertions, and conspiracy theories. Apparently this really gets on some people's tits...

10jjwilson61
May 6, 5:48pm Top

If you wanted to find out about a subject that you knew nothing about, would you rather read the consensus of views or "the truth" that some small group wants to promote?

11StormRaven
May 6, 7:33pm Top

So, the lesson learned here is that conspiracy theory loving loons don't like Wikipedia?

12Crypto-Willobie
May 6, 8:38pm Top

>11 StormRaven:
Well, for the most part one should never generalize...

13lriley
May 6, 8:39pm Top

Actually I like Wikipedia as an information resource. I think most people know that some of the information isn't all that clear cut--some might be disputable. Generally speaking though I think the site is pretty useful.

14Crypto-Willobie
May 6, 9:03pm Top

Fuck Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuck_(disambiguation)

15RickHarsch
May 7, 12:30am Top

So let me see if I got this straight: Shakespeare started Wikipedia?

16proximity1
Edited: May 9, 3:23am Top

>10 jjwilson61:

RE "If you wanted to find out about a subject that you knew nothing about, would you rather read the consensus of views or "the truth" that some small group wants to promote?"

LOL! You get a gold-star in missing the point--which was and is that, at Wikipedia, in too many cases (certainly in more cases than the number of which I am personally acquainted), "the consensus of views" or ' "the truth" that some small group wants to promote" ' amount in practice to the same things or amount to what is a "difference without a distinction."

Wikipedia's cults of supposed area-'experts'--which, on past occasion, have been demasked as utter frauds pretending to hold credentials they never had in fact (and in one notorious case, when confronted about it, founder Jimmy Wales simply didn't give a hoot)--determine in their closed-shop insular opinions what constitutes "consensus" and, as I've pointed out--and youv'e failed to grasp--this process produces a grotesquely abused idea of what the term "consensus" means, has traditionally meant and ought to mean. And this warped, distorted view of a once-useful and socially very important term is one of the most important damaging consequences of Wikipedia's effect on its vast readership. People actually buy the distorted concept of "consensus" by which Wikipedia attempts to justify its own little mafioso practices.

The problem can be quite serious in its long-term implications if its not recognized and understood for what it means in practice.

Thus, my point in posting this thread. It is MUCH BIGGER than "merely" "Shakespeare" as a topic. But, yes, for me, personally, "Shakepeare", the captive-topic of an intolerant and dishonest and ignorant cult-mob which arrogantly claims a consensus which is trumped up, is the most salient example I can cite.

Other topics of truly serious import are surely implicated in the same cultural conditions prevailing there.


17mamzel
Edited: May 8, 11:51am Top

>3 proximity1: Your faith in their responsiveness is really very touching. When one addresses a group of people of varying cultural backgrounds it is always a crap shoot whether they absorb your message or not. If teachers didn't have faith that their work was effective, there wouldn't be very many schools!

I wonder: are they told that Wikipedia is, for some purposes, no better than a cult-group's propagandizing? I don't know of any teachers who include conspiracy theory in their lessons. I don't think they would last long if they did.

In any case, it is my observation that kids are using Snapchat much more than Wikipedia so it isn't much of an issue anyway.

18johnthefireman
May 7, 2:44pm Top

I use Wikipedia mainly to check up on things I already more or less know but can't quite remember. I would not use it to learn about something controversial I know nothing about, except perhaps to give me some clues as to what the controversy is so that I can go and look for more reliable sources. It seems that most of the respondents to the OP are thinking along roughly these lines, so perhaps the danger is not as great as the OP suggests?

Shakespeare? I doubt if I would look at Wikipedia to learn about any of the controversies about him which I'm not even aware of, but it is quite useful if I can't remember how to spell one of the characters in one of his plays.

19RickHarsch
Edited: May 7, 3:25pm Top

One of our P arguers uses it for instant arguments, but its so predictable you can virtually write his arguments before he does. He uses it to come off like, oh that obscure topic, yes, I was just mulling it over...

(not Proximity, of course)

20johnthefireman
Edited: May 8, 12:49am Top

>19 RickHarsch: instant arguments, but its so predictable

I've come across reports and briefing papers written by highly-paid consultants in my own specialist field (Sudan and South Sudan) which are clearly just cut and pasted from Google and a handful of other online sources. Most of the facts which they quote are not actually wrong (although some are, and many others need nuancing), but the dead giveaway is what is missing, the sort of information that you can't find online because nobody has ever put it there, plus the sort of analysis that you can only really provide if you have been there. They are also usually slanted towards whatever is the latest view of the subject matter in the Global North rather than the thoughts of people who are actually in the two countries themselves.

21davidgn
May 8, 11:02am Top

>20 johnthefireman: Speaking of which: I'm curious how well you think the Radio War Nerd guys did with their South Sudan episode last June (Episode #42).
https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/patreon.posts/18379732080661652891.mp3 (the topical part starts at 51:00).

They might even be interested in having you on sometime.

22timspalding
Edited: May 8, 2:24pm Top

Wikipedia is obviously a remarkable tool.

It's wonderful for things that previously never had entries. For example, I recently went down a wormhole of late 70's/early 80's Boston bands, finding detailed and informative entries on Human Sexual Response, Mission of Burma, etc.

So too I'm generally impressed by the quality of scientific and other more factual material. When there's really only one answer, Wikipedia tends to get there.

So far so good. And for a long time I was a major supporter of Wikipedia--I was even one of the (many) keynoters at Wikimania 2008. I believed that, in general, the process, while messy, moved toward better and better content.

More than a decade and a half since its founding, however, I no longer believe. Certain topics I've watched--and contributed to--for years, including many in classical history, should have gotten there by now, but clearly haven't. The ever-expanding scope of the project, and its struggle to get enough people working on it, have been problems. But it's more than so many topics are fly-traps for the half-educated, the autodidact and the partisan.

Ultimately, while Wikipedia has its uses, I think it's a crying shame that Wikipedia is the top result for almost every topic in literature and the humanities, where wisdom and proportion are so critical. It turns out that the non-experts most interested in writing about topics aren't really the right people to write about them.

As I've noted before on the Catholic group, one particular problem is the overrepresentation of "traditionalist" Catholics, break-away Catholics and so forth. By the numbers, these groups are tiny—some, like the "sedevacantists" (people who think there's no Pope) and the "conclavists" (people who've elected their own pope, currently reining over a few dozen people), truly miniscule. But they are furiously dedicated online. So every Wikipedia on a Catholic topic has some section about their views on the topic. It's ridiculous.

23Crypto-Willobie
May 8, 2:34pm Top

24timspalding
May 8, 3:03pm Top

I just visited my old friend, Alexander the Great. It's still jumbled, poorly written and studded with little partisan sparkles, mostly Greek nationalism, and irrelevancies like a "see also" to the unpopular novel The Mahabharata Quest: The Alexander Secret. A decent ancient scholar could write something better in a day or two, and that would be that.

25krolik
May 8, 4:49pm Top

I admit that I use Wikipedia quite a lot even while pretending to wear my serious hat. (To the extent that chat forums are serious.)

It's one of my social-cognitive hypocrisies. There's a (rather) finite number of subjects to which I can pretend to have some informed or specialist knowledge. For these, the limits of Wikipedia are glaringly obvious. I look elsewhere for instruction.

But for many other kinds of subjects, I click and spout.

No doubt this reflex should be reeled in. Not a good thing.

In defense of Wikipedia, though, I do wonder if it was always thus. I grew up in a pre-digital house where our main shelf reference was a 1933 World Book encylopedia, inherited by my mother from her mother. Full of howlers, selective distortions, colonialism, you name it. But I was luckier than my school friends who had no books at home on the shelves.

That's the role of Wikipedia today, but it's a hell of a lot better, for all its flaws, because it's vaster.

Wikipedia is good for finding out what's the capital of Mozambique when you can't remember it, though you should. Or who was Warren Harding's running mate. You have to look somewhere for that stuff. Wikipedia performs that task, cheaply. I respect that.

For the rest, yes, it's dicey.

26lriley
May 8, 8:56pm Top

.....ah Mission of Burma. Got at least two--maybe three of their records in vinyl.

27timspalding
May 8, 8:59pm Top

I saw their first concert after reunion. Best concert I've been to.

28proximity1
Edited: May 9, 4:03am Top

>17 mamzel:

"In any case, it is my observation that kids are using Snapchat much more than Wikipedia so it isn't much of an issue anyway."

I wonder: exactly how do you "observe" their doing this? Are they at home? at school? in the school or the public library? Does your observation of their frequent use of "Snapchat"--which I assume is an on-line chat program--preclude their having previously "consulted" (LOL!) Wikipedia?

In fairness to these youth, I am bound to admit that, if I were in their place, at their age, in these times, I cannot imagine myself successfully avoiding a nearly complete dependence on Wikipedia for my first-resort to information on a topic about which I knew little or nothing and, in very many cases--perhaps all except the topics which most interested me--I'd simply not have bothered investigating other sources--textbooks, journal articles, major publishing houses' books for general readers, etc. Only much later could I expect to have learned from experience that my dependence on Wikipedia had served (but, really, the mistyped "had serfed me" has a certain unexpected accuracy--Wikipedia-Serfs, in thrall to the Cult of phony consensus) me very, very badly.

Thus, had I turned to Wikipedia for something--anything--else about Shakespeare beyond what I was being told in K-12th grade school, I'd have very likely found nothing to challenge or alter the amazing load of utter bullshit which the Shakepeare orthodox scholars peddle with a vicious, morally-wicked malign intent that would make card-sharps, fortune-tellers, loaded-dice players and pool-hall hustlers blush for shame at their lack of sophistication in con-artistry.

Even when Wikipedia's pages admit the existence of an alternative view on Shakespeare's identity--that the authorial name is a pen-name used as a mask--they do so taking great care to ensure that the very suggestion is preemptorily treated as absurd, dismissing it as a "fringe belief," when, in fact, it is the Stratfordian view which defies common-sense and has virtually nothing at all intellectually and factually supporting it. Thus, Stratfordians have had to depend on the general public's having been indoctrinated from an early age in the acceptance as a "given" that "Shakespeare" on the title-page simply must refer to the rustic illiterate from Stratford. That this should remain such a stunning success of confidence-artists in professional academics should shame this modern society to its foundations. It's an amazing disgrace; and Wikipedia is instrumental in perpetuating it.

AGAIN, this is far from an isolated example.

29Cecrow
May 9, 9:47am Top

Generally I've been able to read non-fiction and find some useful expansion on the topic on Wikipedia. Lately however, while reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, I encountered many discrepancies: heroes painted as villains and vice versa, illustrating problems of perspective or at least objectivity.

30Crypto-Willobie
May 9, 10:29am Top

>28 proximity1:

"the amazing load of utter bullshit which the Shakepeare orthodox scholars peddle with a vicious, morally-wicked malign intent that would make card-sharps, fortune-tellers, loaded-dice players and pool-hall hustlers blush for shame at their lack of sophistication in con-artistry."

This is a laughable fantasy. Whence the rage?

"the authorial name is a pen-name used as a mask--they do so taking great care to ensure that the very suggestion is preemptorily treated as absurd, dismissing it as a "fringe belief," when, in fact, it is the Stratfordian view which defies common-sense and has virtually nothing at all intellectually and factually supporting it. Thus, Stratfordians have had to depend on the general public's having been indoctrinated from an early age in the acceptance as a "given" that "Shakespeare" on the title-page simply must refer to the rustic illiterate from Stratford."

There is no good reason to think Shakespeare the player from Stratford was illiterate. And there is no evidence at all to connect Oxford (nor any other 'candidate' beyond the other professional playwrights Shakespeare occasionally collaborated with) with the First Folio works. What you and yours claim as evidence is just fanfic, imaginary scenarios with nothing but wishful thinking to back them up. And your foaming at the mouth won't change that...

31mamzel
May 9, 11:48am Top

>28 proximity1: I wonder: exactly how do you "observe" their doing this?

Big Brother is watching!

Actually, my observation comes from listening in on the wonderful group of kids who hang out behind me during lunch and cruising around the students doing schoolwork on the library computers. Students' first go-to is to google a topic, much to our disappointment. From my desk I can see some of the screens and can easily make out a distinctive Wikipedia page. I don't see these pages up much these days. I think our message has made it through. I think your fear of Wikipedia insinuating itself into mainstream consciousness is maybe unfounded. Relax! In the whole world of the internet, it is but a miniscule part.

The Shakespeare controversy, on the other hand...

May I suggest you investigate whether your local library has a database system such as Gale or Ebsco which offers (for free) a plethora of edited and vetted articles on a huge array of topics. You are a member of the library, aren't you? You might never need to visit Wikipedia ever again!

32proximity1
Edited: May 9, 2:46pm Top

>31 mamzel:

RE: "You might never need to visit Wikipedia ever again!"

??? Is that what you take from this exchange? Merely a matter of personal annoyance to me and something I can easily "remedy" by ignoring Wikipedia?

If it were simply a matter of sparing myself from the ravages of Wikipedia-use, there'd have been little point in my posting the comment. Not only have I no trouble weening myself off that site, the cultish and arrogant ignoramuses whose behavior I've described have done their part by using their authority to place me under a banning order.

RE: "Students' first go-to is to google a topic, much to our disappointment. From my desk I can see some of the screens and can easily make out a distinctive Wikipedia page. I don't see these pages up much these days. I think our message has made it through. I think your fear of Wikipedia insinuating itself into mainstream consciousness is maybe unfounded."

My hunches tell me that when young people need to inform themselves about some matter, they turn to the sources which are 1) fast (almost instantaneous), 2) free (no subscription, no purchase, required) and 3) demand very little of their time , energy or thought to use (type a key word, hit “enter”, point and click mouse-device, read paragraph, maybe look at photos,) and “Mission Accomplished”.

I also suspect that when you need a rationale, your imagination is up to the task of providing one. From your lunchroom table and your library desk, your ears and eyes receive a dataset which, as I understand you, suffices to set aside concerns here about a scholarly-researched-and-reported narrow, intolerant and cultish culture at work at Wikipedia because, from the screens you can observe from your desk and the lunchroom chatter you can overhear from your table, you're reassured—and you'd reassure us—that young people simply don't pay enough attention to Wikipedia to warrant concern for its potentially harmful influence on their reasoning habits.

And yet, I find rather strong evidence to support the belief that many people-- much more experienced adults--are themselves the relatively easy victims of these same harnful influences from a routine use of Wikipedia. So I cannot join you in your comfortable satisfaction that “the kids are alright” in this regard --based on their supposedly having little to do with Wikipedia.

_____________________

"Alexa", an internet rating and ranking operation (owned by Amazon.com)
ranks Wikipedia as the fifth-most frequented site on the internet.

If China's No.1 search-engine, "Baidu," is excluded, Wikipedia's rank moves to No. 4.


Site
Daily Time on Site

Daily Pageviews per Visitor

% of Traffic From Search

Total Sites Linking In

1

Google.com
Enables users to search the world's information, including webpages, images, and videos. Offers…More

8:30

8.25

2.50%

2,777,412
2

Youtube.com
User-submitted videos with rating, comments, and contests.

9:16

5.36

9.10%

2,162,790
3

Facebook.com
A social utility that connects people, to keep up with friends, upload photos, share links and …More

11:34

4.34

5.50%

6,532,428
4

Baidu.com
The leading Chinese language search engine, provides "simple and reliable" search exp…More

8:01

6.57

5.30%

95,585
5

Wikipedia.org
A free encyclopedia built collaboratively using wiki software. (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License). Less

4:23

3.35

41.90%

1,208,313

Link: http://www.alexa.com/topsites

33RickHarsch
May 9, 3:51pm Top

>32 proximity1: okay okay, but i'm dying to read your response to >30 Crypto-Willobie:...

34Crypto-Willobie
Edited: May 9, 5:54pm Top

>33 RickHarsch:
Don't encourage him. There's enough angry irrational rhetoric in the world.

Here ya go:
http://shakespeareauthorship.com/

35RickHarsch
May 9, 6:00pm Top

And here I thought it was news that Svevo wrote Ulysses and Finnegans Wake.

36Crypto-Willobie
Edited: May 9, 6:06pm Top

There have been people who seriously claim that Racine write the plays of Moliere (who after all was only an actor and not a courtier -- sound familiar?), and that Queen Victoria wrote Alice in wonderland, using Dodgson as her beard.

For that matter, the usual Oxfordian line claims that not only did de Vere write Shakespeare, but also all the works of Robert Greene, Thomas Nashe, Arthur Golding, John Lyly, the anti-Martinist tracts and much else.

37RickHarsch
May 9, 7:04pm Top

Who wrote Gargantua and Pantagruel?

38Crypto-Willobie
May 9, 11:36pm Top

Whoever you want...

39lriley
May 9, 11:53pm Top

You mean it wasn't Rabelais?

40bernsad
May 10, 12:21am Top

>37 RickHarsch: Wikipedia says it was me.

41librorumamans
May 10, 12:50am Top

>5 proximity1: If one is interested in Shakespeare, for example, the site is a complete waste of time ---except as a catalog of received opinion which is just ahistorical nonsense based on folkloric traditions which go back to witch-trial days and are of no better value than accounts of bewitched people. That is the level of understanding that is still prevalent in orthodox scholarship on Shakspere--a belief in sorcery and spells and possession by the devil. And, this, from people with Ph.D.s in literature maliciously holding a virtual monopoly of "authoritative (self-referential) opinion" on "their" topic.

What the fuck is that blether supposed to mean? That's a rhetorical question — please don't answer.

42johnthefireman
Edited: May 10, 7:01am Top

>21 davidgn:

Thanks, David. My first reaction is, "Good grief, who are these people?" (and also "Why did I waste half an hour of my life listening to this?", but I did so willingly in a good cause to respond to your question). A quite superficial analysis, very western-oriented, very specifically anti-Islamic, quite a few errors.

It has more information in it than many western attempts, and I am impressed that this bloke has heard of the Fashoda Incident, but it's a question of how the information is used, analysed and interpreted, and what he selects as being significant. It's as if he is trying to overwhelm us with information to try to demonstrate that he really knows his stuff so that we will accept his analysis unquestioningly. Both he and the interviewer also made quite a few peripheral errors and slips which show that they don't know the subject as well as they would like to suggest.

Who is the pundit speaking about South Sudan? I gather his name is John Dolan aka Gary Brecher, but who actually is he?

43davidgn
Edited: May 10, 11:49am Top

>42 johnthefireman: Thanks for taking the time.

who actually is he?
An unapologetically amateur war buff, Ph.D English from Berkeley, formerly taught at University of Otago, left to co-edit The Exile in Moscow with his former Berkeley student (now co-host of this show) Mark Ames before Putin's people kicked them out. The strength and weakness of their present collaboration is that they try to cover conflicts everywhere -- both those in areas where they have actual expertise and in those where they do not. Between them, they're strongest in covering matters having to do with Russia and Central Asia, in Western media criticism, and in literary criticism. (Here's a very strong and memorable piece from Dolan, which not coincidentally falls into all three of those categories: https://pando.com/2015/01/19/the-war-nerd-getting-women-warriors-wrong/ )

Oftentimes they engage subject-matter experts or top journalists covering a specific region, but failing that they also have a touching willingness to spend a week reading up on an area they want to cover and then attempt to present the result authoritatively. This episode was an example of the latter. Sometimes they do what I can independently recognize as great work, and sometimes I'm able to call bullshit on them, but in the case of South Sudan their superficial analysis aligns fairly neatly with everything I've read in the major papers or listened to on NPR. In other words: they know slightly more than I do, which is next to nothing.

Insofar as John's take appears anti-Islamic, I'd say it's situationally so. He's lived and worked in Iraqi Kurdistan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, and he has a rather nuanced take on the Islamic world. Here, though, he seems to be cribbing from the mainstream Western narrative in lieu of other options. If you wanted to nail his ass to the wall (perhaps even publicly), I have a feeling he'd be receptive (as would, potentially, his audience).

I'm curious whose work you'd recommend on the region.

44mamzel
May 10, 11:27am Top

>32 proximity1: Yes, that's what I take away from it. Wikipedia bad! So don't go there! Supply and demand. If people stop visiting and supporting a site it will go away. Every time you click on the site to find something to reinforce your argument is another tick in their column.

I would love to hear what you think of this:
"China's New Online Encyclopedia Aims To Surpass Wikipedia, And To 'Guide And Lead' The Public"

45Tid
May 10, 5:41pm Top

I've 'corrected' facts quite a few times in Wikipedia, sometimes quoting reference sources, sometimes not (as in the Minolta article where they somehow omitted to mention the ground breaking XD7/XD11 camera). I'm gratified that - though I'm not a registered editor - more than half my corrections remain.

46proximity1
Edited: May 11, 11:53am Top

>44 mamzel:

RE: "If people stop visiting and supporting a site it will go away."*

(Edited) Ergò, scribabam scribebam.

Similarly, if people stopped lying, "lying" would end. Idem, "cheating," "stealing," "behaving hypocritically"-- you've still to meet the issue you cannot rationalize away, haven't you? It's all so simple: "supply & demand" and that takes care of that.

A message from your Fire Dept. : "If left alone long enough, all fires eventually 'burn themselves out.' Not to worry."

47johnthefireman
May 11, 9:00am Top

>43 davidgn: I'm curious whose work you'd recommend on the region.

Thanks, David. Very difficult to recommend a single author or expert. I've read a great deal of the available literature and I read news articles, reports, academic papers, op-eds, etc from multiple sources on a daily basis, supplemented by my own experience of over 30 years living and working in Sudan and South Sudan with a wide network of contacts and a job that involves information and policy analysis, so I'm a bit over-speciailised.

If I were to pick one single author it would probably be Douglas H Johnson. He combines academic rigour (especially in anthropology and history) with a real sense of what is going on on the ground. His The Root Causes of Sudan's Civil Wars, while now a little dated (although I believe there has been an updated version) still provides the best background reading I have seen. But there are dozens of good books if one wants to read widely - see my LT library under the tags sudan and/or south sudan.

For more current affairs some of the international institutions are best - Rift Valley Institute, International Crisis Group, Small Arms Survey, Council on Foreign Relations, the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sudan and South Sudan, Clingendael, etc, along with Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International (although one always needs to be aware of the human rights agenda of the last two). Enough Project also has an agenda (anti-genocide), but John Prendergast's facts and analysis are usually good even if I don't always agree with the recommendations that he draws from them. Alex de Waal is always worth reading, controversial as he is. South Sudan's Sudd Institute has produced some very good analysis, albeit a little self-censored, and its director Jok Madut Jok writes well. Many of the exiled Sudanese and South Sudanese are less than impartial, but academic Luka Biong Deng is pretty objective.

With mainstream media a lot depends on the journalist. BBC, NYT, Washington Post, VOA and Bloomberg, for example, have at times had some excellent journalists, but many of the western media have little real clue. Al Jazeera has consistently been pretty good. Local online media such as Sudan Tribune, Radio Tamazuj and Radio Dabanga are worth monitoring to get an idea of what is going on, but are not always accurate in the details. The Catholic Radio Network is good but limited in what it reports. Gurtong is very good, and anything by its founding editor Jacob Akol is worth reading.

Treat anything produced by the UN or an international NGO with a pinch of salt. They may be accurate on how many malnourished children there are in such and such a place, but know very little about politics, security (except when it threatens them directly) or indeed the general situation outside their own particular bubble. They also have a fund-raising and visibility agenda.

I suspect that's more than you expected. It is immensely complex and difficult to grasp even for someone like me who has been deeply involved in it for decades. I suspect most other conflicts have the same degree of complexity.

48mamzel
Edited: May 11, 10:59am Top

>46 proximity1: I think you've made my point for me.

I googled "closed websites" and ironically found this Wikipedia page for now defunct social sites.

Defunct social networking sites

Some have been bought by other sites but some have just withered away. And those are just social websites.

"scribabam"???

49BruceCoulson
May 11, 11:08am Top

I use wikipaedia for my role-playing games for quick research into things that may prove intriguing to my players. As long as the information seems plausible and believable, it works fine for that purpose. I sometimes use wiki for a first approximation: to narrow down my search for sources that will be relevant to my inquiry. Other than that, I don't rely on wiki for any information that I wish to be accurate. Most of the younger generation that I've met have similar opinions and uses for wiki. It's a problem for those people who are seeking (and embracing) confirmation bias. Which, unfortunately, is probably a lot of people. But they're the same people who would have discarded dozens of books and sources until they found the one place which confirmed what they wanted to believe. So, wiki makes their searches faster and easier, but I'm not seeing that wiki is doing that much harm.

50proximity1
Edited: May 11, 11:52am Top

>48 mamzel:

" "Scribabam"???"

Touché. Scribebam.
___________

Your "point" moved around--

first it was: Kids, they don't really pay that much attention to W. anyway;

When challenged, we learned that this is based on what you can gather from, well, from the computer terminals you can see from your desk... or from the lunchroom chatter you can overhear from your table... none of which matters against Wikipedia's No. 4 (or 5) worldwide rank in most visits, page-views, and none of which is relevant to the intellectually noxious clannish intolerance of the Wikipedia editing culture.

Then you offered that, if I found Wikipedia's practices objectionable then the "solution" is for me to just avoid the site. When I pointed out the obvious--that the issue really is larger than some personal beef of mine and, instead, is about the harms indicated in the studies which were linked, your point moved to, well, it comes down to 'supply & demand,' as if what's important isn't whether and, if so, how much, a site like Wikipedia does in social harm but, rather, whether "the market" of users happens to be able to notice this harm and care about it--your own blasé reaction here is evidence for the view that, alas, people in the market neither notice nor, when alerted, care very much about it-- or not, and, apparently, if they aren't, well, it's all good, then--because, from the first, rather than grasp the points here, you've dismissed, minimized, ignored and tried to deny them --that is, when you've seen them at all.

My last objection was this-- just waiting and hoping (?, or not hoping, what's the difference in practice?) that enough people might one day eventually be alienated from Wikipedia (you don't bother to explain how and why, instead, it shouldn't just go on doing harm to people who, apparently, like you, haven't bothered and won't bother to read background on a subject and, instead, simply concoct the first easy, simplistic and psyche-soothing excuse to go on not bothering about it) isn't an answer and isn't necessarily likely to change anything.

We still haven't seen from you any good reasons why we should consider that just ignoring it and waiting for it to go away is the best response in this case--since, despite what you think from your vantage point at school, you've offered us no good reasons to suppose that W. has a negligible influence on youth. Everything in your replies boils down to an excuse to do nothing and (maybe) just hope things get better on their own.

When it comes to referenced studies, you offer nothing respectable in a reply. Just dismissive anecdotes and a blasé attitude.

The fact that some social networking sites have closed down over the years isn't necessarily grounds to suppose that Wikipedia, because of its practices and the harms they produce, shall eventually close, too; nor does it present us with any good reason for just waiting around and doing nothing, even if it were true that one day it's bad habits shall eventually catch up with it.

I didn't make your point for you and you apparently don't understand that.


51mamzel
Edited: May 11, 2:00pm Top

"When challenged"?!? That's aggressive! And it wasn't lunchroom chatter. I have a group of kids who choose to spend their lunch in the library. I allow them to eat in the area behind me. I eavesdrop on their conversations. I learn a lot about out students this way.

you've dismissed, minimized, ignored and tried to deny them --that is, when you've seen them at all. I did read the articles. I found them to be extremely biased and/or out-of-date. I tried to recommend places to find articles that might be less so. That you chose to ignore my suggestions is your prerogative.

you've offered us no good reasons to suppose that W. has a negligible influence on youth I've seen no evidence that it has.

you apparently don't understand that.
I'll make my point clear, then.
In my opinion, there are many, many, more immediate dangers for my students than Wikipedia. Drugs, drunk drivers, school sports injury, suicide bombers, meteor strikes, etc. I agree I may not have stated that directly. Wikipedia is waaaay low on my list of concerns these days for myself as well as I am facing serious health problems and the cutting of library staff by our budget impacted school board. I'm sorry if I have come across as flippant to your concerns or suggesting that your concerns were easily ignorable. Mea culpa.
Continue your fight against this evil! Good health to you!

52timspalding
May 11, 1:41pm Top

Defunct social networking sites

I have a page tracking at least 50 competitors and semi-competitors. Dead, dead, dead, dead…

53mamzel
Edited: May 11, 3:42pm Top

>50 proximity1:When it comes to referenced studies, you offer nothing respectable in a reply.

from article you cited: What I realised - perhaps it was the mention of Scientology - is that Wikipedia, and so many other online activities, show all the outward characteristics of a cult. Which, by my (computer's) dictionary definition, means "a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object; a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister; a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing; a person or thing that is popular or fashionable, esp. among a particular section of society, 'a cult film'."
Could this not also be illustrated by us, here on Librarything?

Comments from articles found in articles offered on the Gale database:
Even educators are finding a way to somewhat peacefully coexist with Wikipedia. While many professors do not allow their students to include citations from Wikipedia, some concede that the website can serve as a starting point for more detailed research. Wales even seems to agree with this assessment. He said during a 2006 talk at the University of Pennsylvania that when he receives e-mails from students complaining that they received failing grades on papers because they cited Wikipedia, he tells them they got what they deserved: "For God sake, you're in college—don't cite the encyclopedia."

Sarah Roggio. "Wikipedia." St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, Gale, 2013. Student Resources in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/NRFIEJ093713636/SUIC?u=nap51667&xid=bfd3829c. Accessed 11 May 2017.

We all know that Wikipedia has a presence in the world, but how influential is it really? The Atlantic (as cited in Pinsker, 2015) describes insurance companies denying claims based on Wikipedia articles and individuals requesting (or not) medical services. Corporations are aware. The Wiki-PR company famously edited and created Wikipedia entries for companies (Halleck, 2013; Newman, 2014), but these were later banned due to unethical editing (Wikipedia, 2015). Freelance sites such as eLance and WorkMarket are full of folks advertising themselves as Wikipedia writing experts. We also know that Wikipedia is a first stop when learning something new. The Pew Research Center (as cited in Purcell et. al, 2012) writes that 75% of teachers considered their students "very likely" to consult Wikipedia when conducting research for school assignments.

Sanborn, Lura. "A scholarly conversation about the future of eReference." Teacher Librarian, vol. 43, no. 4, 2016, p. 13+. Student Resources in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A452374502/SUIC?u=nap51667&xid=d14febee. Accessed 11 May 2017.

>32 proximity1: have done their part by using their authority to place me under a banning order.
You'll be happy to learn you were not the only one. It's been that way for a long time.
There is no doubt that there is real danger of vandalism on a site that is so open. Shakespeareans will be well aware of the interest that some users of the Internet will have in sabotaging the information on Shakespeare in order to suggest that his works were really written by Bart Simpson or some equally attractive candidate. Some months ago when I visited the entry on Shakespeare I found that the page was locked--it was rendered impossible to edit--with this explanation: "Because of recent vandalism or other disruption, editing of this article by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled. Such users may discuss changes, request unprotection, or create an account." The organizers of Wikipedia have responded to the problem of vandalism by limiting access to vulnerable pages

Best, Michael. "On Wikipedia." Shakespeare Newsletter, Winter 2006, p. 109+. Student Resources in Context, link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A168512030/SUIC?u=nap51667&xid=ff587107. Accessed 11 May 2017.

It would seem that people are aware and are taking steps to prevent abuse, misuse, etc. Danger seen, steps taken. They hear you and are working on it.

I would also like to illustrate the benefit of accessing just this one database (Gale Student Resources in Context) with the numbers of articles offered on just this one topic:

Reference (35)
Biographies (4)
Images (10)
Primary Sources (2)
Plot Summary (1)
Audio (260)
Videos (139)
News (12,935)
Magazines (4,000)
Academic Journals (395)
Critical Essays (21)

54RickHarsch
Edited: May 11, 4:43pm Top

I would like to add that teachers generally don't need to refer to a study to know what their students spend time doing, including study time. It's rather asinine to attack Mamzel on that basis. We have no reason to assume Mamzel is a poor and neglectful teacher, so my first response would believe that he or she likes students and therefore does what he or she does. And we teachers (I am teaching again) tend to learn a great deal about our students.

As for Wikipedia, it's merely the most recent of highly accessible sources for some information. Anyone who cares about a topic yet can't get beyond a Wikipedia article probably has learned enough. For instance, if I want to know the order in which Shakespeare's plays were written I would check Wikipedia. If I was misinformed my life would not change in the least. (ETA) That level of misinformation is meaningless. If I want to review my understanding of the Korean civil war I would skip Wikipedia altogether and re-read Bruce Cumings first thing.

55proximity1
Edited: May 12, 10:59am Top

>51 mamzel:

"I'll make my point clear, then. In my opinion, there are many, many, more immediate dangers for my students than Wikipedia. Drugs, drunk drivers, school sports injury, suicide bombers, meteor strikes, etc. I agree I may not have stated that directly. Wikipedia is waaaay low on my list of concerns these days for myself as well as I am facing serious health problems and the cutting of library staff by our budget impacted school board. I'm sorry if I have come across as flippant to your concerns or suggesting that your concerns were easily ignorable. ..."

That, really, is much better. It's part of my task here to try to explain why one might reassess the relative potential for harms of these various dangers in life.

I think we can leave giant meteorites out of the discussion and turn to the others.

Everything on your list is a key potential danger to adolescents in particular because they are in the process of just developing a sense of adult proportion, independence of point of view, self-esteem which can meet and defy social pressures to conform, etc.

In all those respects, Wikipedia's claimed "principles" of practice pose a serious challenge to their developing sense of fairness, openness, honest practice and right reason.

Before they know it, they've been indoctrinated to an ethos by which a false and contorted concept of consensus is taken to be a fair and just gage by which contentious opinions ought to be sorted and admitted or excluded. This is a strong attack on their young reasoning skills because it is so indirect and carries with it such far-ranging implications for other much more important issues of right of entry, terms of admission and exclusion, adherence to group-established rules which are routinely maliciously and self-servingly gamed by an insider-élite which is quick to selectively throw the rule book at beginner-"editors" whose contributions these more experienced "editors" oppose.

All of that presents adolescents with powerfully-ingrained harmful lessons which--as far as I can tell--they're apt to internalize without much question or analysis because: so many others give the nonsense their active or passive assent and lend it an air of credibility, a supposed reasonability which it does not deserve--in short, these terms and practices at Wikipedia enjoy, I'd argue, a much undeserved authority among a great many people--young and old. But they are the younger ones who are most likely to take and adopt and adapt these harmful precepts of consensus and inclusion/exclusion, conformity and deviation from the empowered, enorced point-of-view, to many and various aspects of their lives.

How is a young person who cannot question, challenge or reject Wikipedia's pretentious claims for fair and equal treatment supposed to accurately and effectively counter other kinds of peer pressure--such as that which tempts him or her to take up drug use--e.g. "the rest of us see nothing wrong in it! What's wrong with you? Don't you want to belong?"

This, in sum, is the ugly and base argument at work at Wikipedia.

Similarly, suicide-bombers have been shammed, played for suckers in too many cases. Viciously manipulated and made the target of cult-like tactics in mental abuse.

What I think you'd do well to reflect on is the serious and harmful similarities in which Wikipedia's culture of cult conformity passes off to its users as benign a cooked concept of "consensus" and these how this can pose dangers to young people's maturing sense of independence which manifest themselves only a little differently as to their manner of supposed gains and types of social-admission goals and interests.

Wikipedia teaches by example --and the lessons are harmful ones to people's sense of fairness and sound reason; but the dangers to young people are particularly pronounced because they are still developing their self-image as adults.

Observe how many at your school wear jeans ripped at the knees and decorated with slashes through the fabric here and there. Each one of them is a youngster so fragile that he or she cannot resist the need to conform on such a trivial front of apparel. What chance have such youngsters against Wikipedia's subtler claims to authority and obedience and conformity to win acceptance and participation?

Your pecking-order is out of order it seems to me.

56Tid
May 12, 4:46am Top

>55 proximity1:

"Before they know it, they've been indoctrinated to an ethos by which a false and contorted concept of consensus is taken to be a fair and just gage by which contentious opinions ought to be sorted and admitted or excluded. This is a strong attack on their young reasoning skills because it is so indirect and carries with it such far-ranging implications for other much more important issues of right of entry, terms of admission and exclusion, adherence to group-established rules which are routinely maliciously and self-servingly gamed by an insider-élite which is quick to selectively throw the rule book at beginner-"editors" whose contributions these more experienced "editors" oppose."

Unlike all TV news and documentary, radio news, all newspapers, periodicals, text books, etc, which are all 100% fair, unbiased, inclusive, and unedited...

57RickHarsch
May 12, 5:19am Top

Comparing Wikipedia and Suicide bombing!

58alco261
May 12, 10:04am Top

>55 proximity1: just curious, have you ever raised a child or spent a lot of time teaching children? My perception of your posts on this topic is that you seem to think kids are a bunch of fragile hot-house flowers that will fall apart/wilt in the presence of the slightest perturbation with respect to information/knowledge.

I can tell you from extensive first hand experience that, in general, they are not nearly as gullible/conforming as you seem to think they are. It is quite true that there are/were kids at my son's school who were slaves to conformity with respect to things like slashed jeans etc. but there were far more who weren't.

The school my son attended amounted to a cross section of American life with respect to socio-economic status, race, religion, and gender so I think my sample was reasonably representative of the then current student population. I do know that if one took the time to really talk to kids it was easy to see that, for most of them, their BS meters were intact and functioning.

59RickHarsch
May 12, 10:19am Top

>59 RickHarsch: Sure, alco, but if you went back today and compared the number of Wikipedia addicts with suicide bombers?

60BruceCoulson
May 12, 10:38am Top

If wiki is really changing young peoples' perceptions that much (not a proposition I'm prone to accept) it's hardly doing this alone. Universities and colleges (which, I submit, have far more influence on a young person's beliefs and values than any interwebz site) have also joined into the 'cult of conformity'. It's that time in the political cycle again. Things will change, and yes, we shouldn't just accept meekly; but Wiki isn't really a driver of this; it's merely 'going along with the crowd' as so many do in these sort of times.

61proximity1
May 12, 11:04am Top


>56 Tid: Totally beside the point here. No significant news organization--despite certain recent trends which attempt to seem to "open up" to and to solicit readers'/viewers' priorities on directing news attention--none can be seriously supposed to be the product of user-driven editing and selection processes. Wikipedia claims that its own readership determines all the important content and presentation issues and that it does this fairly and inclusively--"by consensus", a consensus too often of close-minded cliques pushing their narrow agenda.

62proximity1
May 12, 11:46am Top


>58 alco261:

So you think.

And in certain respects, it's true that a lot of contemporary youth are alert to some kinds of bullshit. What they aren't--and how you can miss this in any English-speaking society is amazing to me--is intellectually /emotionally well-prepared to defy pressures to conform. It's this part of matrure growth which Wikipedia's operating tactics and methods undermine.



U.S./U.K. socitey are among the most conformist anywhere in the world where people are so completley used to regarding themselves as self-directed and free to think and behave as they see fit. Only asian countries rival the conformity that is rife and entirely taken-for-granted in the English-speaking world. But Japan is famous for rigid conformist social ways and China, of course, isn't about to be mistaken for a haven of personal freedom. Indeed, with a bit more experienced saavy, Wikipedia could be made into a Chinese-power-pleasing arena of "consensus", easily driving out as not interesting, useful, needed or welcome those opinions which deviate from the official line. All that's needed is the experience in gaming the guidelines of use.

Instead, China wants to develop its own home-version. When it's finished, it will look and work a lot like Wikipedia does when it comes to highly-disputed controversies: a narrow phony pseudo-fair and balanced "consensus" view will be imposed and deviant views suppressed.

Of course, from the extremely conformist view of English-speaking society, uh, "what's wrong with that, anyway?"

I don't notice American and British youth demonstrating any impressive capacity to resist the most subtle and sinister forms of comformity. Instead, they're the agents of the conformist pressures. There's little "new" about this except for dangerous capacities new technologies may present.

So, yes, where is the vibrant evidence that in ways that count most, ados aren't victims of powerful pressures to conform? Commercial nationally-branded products are key to ados' self-images. They need the right shoe brand, the right clothes brand--designed from the drwaing-board as pre-fabricated, pre-packaged "life-style" statements: Hollister, Franklin & Marshall, Abercrombie and Fitch (bought and remade into this sort of marketing entity), and, of course, older brands with the same tactics only longer at the game. The same, of course, goes for the "right" food, drink brands, the "right" music, pre-fabbed with a vengeance. Almost anything can be a marker-item: a particular wrting pen or high-tech gadget, a ball-cap logo, a style or color of t-shirt, socks, no socks, bracelets, piercings, tatoos, the right computer product or the right make of stereo headphones. In most cases--in all but rare cases, what's required is the more/most expensive label. As usual, kids from homes with little disposable income cannot really compete in this game and in a certain sense, though it's hard to understand at their age, they're "lucky" that economic reality takes them out of the game to some extent.

Again, go out and observe the de rigeur fashion--it might be that of jeans ripped at the knees; it might be something else; listen and watch for other indicators of conformist thought and behavior-- to the now-worldwide monospeak of "I'm, like, you know, like..." which had no equal when I was a kid.

Of course, "cool kids' " clothes and gestures and speech have long been noticed and emulated. But these varied from time to time and place to place rather than showed a coast-to-coast monoculture. Today, the same features are dominant everywhere, nearly all at once because the lines of transmission are so complete and powerful and, my point, they meet extremely little resistance because there is no particular premium on that from a socially-created point of view. Even the new efforts to deviate from the crowd are quickly turned into fads by emulators.

63proximity1
May 12, 12:02pm Top


>60 BruceCoulson:

"If wiki is really changing young peoples' perceptions that much (not a proposition I'm prone to accept) it's hardly doing this alone."

True. There are other factors and agencies at work. Colleges and universities are themselves caught up in conformist idiocy. Indeed, it's hard to think of where adolescents can and do turn to see living examples of people and institutions which simply refuse to sell-out and play at this game. Conformist tendencies have devasted independent habits of thinking--and our national politics along with these--wreaked havoc upon people's readiness to question and doubt. The MSM echo-chamber is one of the most impressive examples of even supposedly very smart adults morally lost and incapable of resisting idiotic mono-think. The failings were a open-door to Trumps contrarian ways--which could never have succeeded so well in a society used to independent thought and sound-reasoning habits. In English-speaking culture, these are shot.

The point was never that Wikipedia is virtually a lone actor in the process. The point is that its methods operate powerfully in large part because they're not above many people's "radar" and they're presented and defended as what is only "normal," "right" and "fair." To South African whites, those terms fully applied to the apartheid culture which served their selfish interests. It served segregated country clubs where "the membership committee, after careful consideration, regrets that it cannot give your application a favorable reply. Please know that you are welcome to resubmit an application for membership after a period of twelve months has passed." All 'consensus'-based.

Indeed, Wikipedia, if anything, is utterly rife with almost everything that is "politically-correct." Intolerance and pseudo-open-mindedness comes in all sizes and flavors.

64BruceCoulson
May 12, 2:02pm Top

This is always been a tendency in all societies; this is a reversion to earlier, darker times in American history. Which is why I snort when someone claims universities and colleges are bastions of free thought and critical thinking; history shows American institutions fold like a deck of cards at the least chilling winds. These times have (in the past) eventually faded, but not without a lot of struggle, heartbreak, and 'collateral damage'. All one can do is their best; in standing up for clear thought, reasoned debate, and tolerance (not necessarily acceptance) of other points of view. (Although it's not as common as it should be, it's still possible to disagree with someone without being disagreeable.) But I see wiki as a symptom, not a cause.

65mamzel
May 12, 2:33pm Top

>55 proximity1: and >57 RickHarsch: suicide bombers & meteors - sarcasm, people! Sheesh!

>55 proximity1: Observe how many at your school wear jeans ripped at the knees and decorated with slashes through the fabric here and there. Did you only wear buttoned shirts, bow ties, and slacks or blouses, skirts, and stockings in high school?

>55 proximity1:How is a young person who cannot question, challenge or reject Wikipedia's pretentious claims for fair and equal treatment supposed to accurately and effectively counter other kinds of peer pressure--such as that which tempts him or her to take up drug use
I'm sorry but I think you are totally out of touch with today's youth. Do you really think students are wrestling with the ethics of Wikipedia as their father is beating their mother? Or that they ponder the various theories of Shakespeare history while avoiding the bully who has been stealing their lunch for the past month? Or concerned about the author of an article as their family goes to a food bank for enough food for the next week? Or afraid that the next knock on the door is ICE? Or having enough money to attend college? Do you think their parents worry about such things as they fret about paying this month's rent? Or worrying about their kids who they rarely see as they work two jobs? Or are concerned about their aging parents? Or if they will have health insurance next year?

It is my impression, sir or madam, is that you are vested in this issue because you were rejected by the powers at Wikipedia from joining their editorial team. I can only guess how a person of your stature and education would feel at such a slight. However, your personal opinion of the site should not mean that no one should use it. Just because I believe that the Cadillac Escalade is an oversized, gas-guzzling POS does not mean that others can't buy them. You have put forth your arguments. They have been read and duly noted. Put your prodigious Shakespeare knowledge in a book or a blog. Leave a link here so that anyone who is interested can find it.

I would like to add, that when you quote someone (see >3 proximity1:) that you do not add your own words to theirs and if you add emphasis you note that the emphasis is yours. Be careful of this if you do write your own work.

66prosfilaes
May 12, 3:22pm Top

Yes, Wikipedia provides a consensus opinion. That's part of the reason I go there; if you're not familiar with a subject, the library is just littered with books that will lead you into conspiracy theories or at least one biased view of a subject. johnthefireman talks about biases towards the Global North, which I totally believe, but short of spending hours heading to the university and digging around their library, I can't really avoid that.

I do find the objection to the encyclopedia to be sort of funny. In a high school library, I'd bet the Encyclopedia Britannica was the best physical source for half the material it covers.

>22 timspalding: Catholicism has long been a subject to war over; the 13th Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica had a through going-over by the Westminster Catholic Federation and the next edition was heavily edited towards their biases.

67alco261
May 12, 3:35pm Top

>62 proximity1: So, in summary, you and I disagree. You think kids today are fragile, hothouse flowers whose capacity for thinking has been obliterated by Wikipedia and its likes and I don't. So be it.

68bohemima
May 12, 3:47pm Top

My intellectual antennae are keenly attuned to bullshit, cultism, and arrogance. Hence my decision to leave this thread, which appears to have been started by a member of the literary fringe who is supremely ticked off because Wikipedia banned him.

Goodness gracious. The things one can stumble upon when browsing the Internet.

69Tid
May 12, 4:06pm Top

>61 proximity1:

And therein lies the flaw in your argument. Most people who use Wikipedia know - there's an 'edit' button for every paragraph - that it is user-edited. The main requirement is that sources should be cited, hence the oft-seen "citation required" by statements that may be a 'matter of opinion'.

However any other source of information may include the bias of its author(s) and editor(s) with no requirement to cite sources. Therefore people are less likely to take Wikipedia as 'gospel truth' unless statements of fact are fully supported by cited sources, and even those can be challenged as authorities in the discussion pages accompanying every article.

70RickHarsch
May 12, 7:40pm Top

>66 prosfilaes: '...the library is just littered with books that will lead you into conspiracy theories or at least one biased view of a subject.'

It's amazing that you admit you have such trouble judging sources. I find it rather easy, having an independent mind.

Conspiracy theories? Regarding what? I mean, for instance, I've taken an interest in the Nixon tapes and just ordered two volumes. That's good source material from within a conspiracy. You can also read about Iran/Contra. Another conspiracy. There are an incredible number of conspiracies known of in history. I hope you aren't mistaking good investigative history for conspiracy theory and mere 'biased views'.

71johnthefireman
Edited: May 13, 12:18am Top

>65 mamzel: Did you only wear buttoned shirts, bow ties, and slacks or blouses, skirts, and stockings in high school?

I went to British schools from the late 1950s to the early '70s. Every schoolday from the ages of four to seventeen we had to wear school regulation buttoned shirt, grey trousers, tie, blazer, socks and black lace-up shoes. Helps to explain why I never wear a tie now unless absolutely forced.

72proximity1
Edited: May 14, 4:04am Top

>65 mamzel:

RE :


..."Do you really think students are wrestling with the ethics of Wikipedia as their father is beating their mother? Or that they ponder the various theories of Shakespeare history while avoiding the bully who has been stealing their lunch for the past month? Or concerned about the author of an article as their family goes to a food bank for enough food for the next week? Or afraid that the next knock on the door is ICE? Or having enough money to attend college? Do you think their parents worry about such things as they fret about paying this month's rent? Or worrying about their kids who they rarely see as they work two jobs? Or are concerned about their aging parents? Or if they will have health insurance next year?"



I really think that students--especially adolescents who are at work creating their adult "selves" but also others, many adults included-- ought to be aware of and concerned about a harmful set of dishonest practices at Wikipedia which can influence some of their basic concepts of what it means to find and use "consensus" cooperation and that, yes, this is quite serious and harmful. That was my point: they should be alerted to the issue because, unfortunately, they're not currently very aware of it--in my view of things--and part of my reasoning is based on my own ignorance of this issue (until-recently).

RE:

..."Do you really think students are wrestling with the ethics of Wikipedia as their father is beating their mother? Or that they ponder the various theories of Shakespeare history while avoiding the bully who has been stealing their lunch for the past month?"...

???

you still have --after all this--a confused way of arguing against my point when you write such patent nonsense as that just cited.

If these students were aware of the potential harms in the ethics of Wikipedia practices then I think its rank in importance among their other current concerns should remain reasonably related to actual events. That means that, if the student's Dad is currently beating his Mom, or the student is again on the way to another encounter with the bully who has been stealing his lunch money, these should have priority in their current mental preoccupations--that's true. To imply that I think or that I've argued otherwise is a lame and discreditable dodge and strawman "POS" response. So you've returned to tactics of argument here which are utter nonsense and completely beside the point and, to me, that's a demonstration of your own glaring lack of ethics and the desperate character of the case you're doing so badly in trying to defend. And why is that? What are you--a "stock-holder" in Wikipedia, for crying out loud!? Why is it so important to your cognitive sense of balance that you go to such lengths to defend Wikipedia against critics--even rather disinterested scholars-- who have taken the trouble to show how a case can be made that some of Wikipedia's operational tactics are objectionable?

I think that young people can and do and ought to have more than one matter of concern to them and that Wikipedia as a harmful influence on their thinking habits is one of these matters--though, if Dad is beating Mom or the lunch-money bully is waiting around the next corner, those concens should have momentary precedence over the importance of the harms which Wikipedia produces.

______________________

ETA:

>68 bohemima: : Since your "arrival" in and "departure" from this thread you announce in one and the same sole post--a post in which you make a lame attempt to describe "this thread," as having ..."been started by a member of the literary fringe who is supremely ticked off because Wikipedia banned him,"-- then, indeed, you're damned welcome to "leave." Bye. At least you cannot charge that someone here actually issued a banning directive to prevent your further comment here. In this forum, no one can preemptorily protect your inane drivel. So, yes, feel "free" to leave.

______________________

>67 alco261: : "You think kids today are fragile, hothouse flowers whose capacity for thinking has been obliterated by Wikipedia and its likes and I don't. So be it."

"So be" nothing of the sort. I never alleged that today's kids' "capacity for thinking has been obliterated by Wikipedia"... (emphasis added)

But if you have nothing else in the form of sound points, you're always free to invent nonsense and try to allege that it represents my views or what I've stated or argued here. I'm free, in turn, to denounce it as indicative of your having nothing pertinent to say here on the actual topic and points raised in the thread.

In sum, bullshit non-responsive comments such as yours, if anything, lend support to what I am in fact alleging here:

● that the topic is much under-appreciated and, thus, a thread like this one is needed to raise awareness

● that readers demonstrate by their replies that they're defensive about the matter and, rather than having cogent counter-arguments in answer, are reduced to pathetic mischaracterizations of facts and straw-man arguments which, in turn, suggests that they're in the grips of some unsettling cognitive dissonance--the consequence of finding something of their complacent assumptions confronted with contrary facts.

● that very often people's reasoning capacity--at least as the comments here and so often elsewhere in threads at this site seem to indicate--is woefully deficient. That, too, is a part of the fact-set in which Wikipedia gets away with its manipulative and exploitive treatment of those with facts which aren't welcome by the editorial cliques working at Wikipedia.

"So be" that.

_______________________

>69 Tid:

RE : "However any other source of information may include the bias of its author(s) and editor(s) with no requirement to cite sources. Therefore people are less likely to take Wikipedia as 'gospel truth' unless statements of fact are fully supported by cited sources, and even those can be challenged as authorities in the discussion pages accompanying every article."

(emphasis added)


People who can reason no better than this are Wikipedia's helpless victims. What you have following "therefore," does not logically follow. But one has to be able to recognize this and, apparently, you cannot.

Wikipedia doesn't merely imply, it positively asserts, that, since its readers are (supposedly) free to challenge erroneous opinion stated as fact--whether with so-called supporting "sources" or not (I.E. those where one finds the frequent "citation-needed")-- readers are invited to assume that the facts and the opinions stated as facts found at Wikipedia may be relied upon as vaild--since, the (dishonest) argument goes, otherwise these fallacies would be challenged and overturned, removed, supplanted by better evidence-based arument. In fact, however, despite Wikipedia's claims to the contrary, it isn't the case that anyone who finds an error in the articles is simply free to correct it. (You could read up on Philip Roth's hilarious--but not hilarious from his point of view--experience trying to get a factual error corrected concerning himself or something in one of his works.)

http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/an-open-letter-to-wikipedia

Again, Fuck Wikipedia.

74barney67
May 15, 1:25pm Top

I doubt many kids spend much time in Wikipedia. STEM is where its at today.

That's not very relevant to Wikipedia, which is usally criticized for its fluffier, humanistic subjects. If you have kids in school, they should be studying science and math because that's where the jobs are and that's what our current society is rooted in.

75bohemima
May 15, 1:42pm Top

>72 proximity1: Oh, my dear man, there's inane drivel here. But it's not coming from me.

Good try at masking your childish pique in verbiage though.

76alco261
May 15, 3:11pm Top

>72 proximity1: how about going back to >55 proximity1: and start with the section that begins with "In all those respects..." and ends with "This, in sum, is the ugly and base argument at work at Wikipedia. " Perhaps you can offer another interpretation of that section of your post - to me it sound like you are saying what I said in >67 alco261:.

77Guanhumara
Edited: May 15, 9:19pm Top

>alco261:
Interesting that you appear to believe that Americans are the only English-speaking users of Wikipedia! (Or are they simply the only people whose opinions matter to you?)

I am more concerned by the undue influence Wikipedia has on young people who, aware that the information they receive through their own education system and national media is partisan, turn to Wikipedia as authoritative because of a mistaken assumption that its international access somehow makes it objective.

78proximity1
Edited: May 16, 10:58am Top

>76 alco261:

No. Very fortunately, this,



In all those respects, Wikipedia's claimed "principles" of practice pose a serious challenge to their developing sense of fairness, openness, honest practice and right reason.

Before they know it, they've been indoctrinated to an ethos by which a false and contorted concept of consensus is taken to be a fair and just gage by which contentious opinions ought to be sorted and admitted or excluded. This is a strong attack on their young reasoning skills because it is so indirect and carries with it such far-ranging implications for other much more important issues of right of entry, terms of admission and exclusion, adherence to group-established rules which are routinely maliciously and self-servingly gamed by an insider-élite which is quick to selectively throw the rule book at beginner-"editors" whose contributions these more experienced "editors" oppose.

All of that presents adolescents with powerfully-ingrained harmful lessons which--as far as I can tell--they're apt to internalize without much question or analysis because: so many others give the nonsense their active or passive assent and lend it an air of credibility, a supposed reasonability which it does not deserve--in short, these terms and practices at Wikipedia enjoy, I'd argue, a much undeserved authority among a great many people--young and old. But they are the younger ones who are most likely to take and adopt and adapt these harmful precepts of consensus and inclusion/exclusion, conformity and deviation from the empowered, enorced point-of-view, to many and various aspects of their lives.

How is a young person who cannot question, challenge or reject Wikipedia's pretentious claims for fair and equal treatment supposed to accurately and effectively counter other kinds of peer pressure--such as that which tempts him or her to take up drug use--e.g. "the rest of us see nothing wrong in it! What's wrong with you? Don't you want to belong?"

This, in sum, is the ugly and base argument at work at Wikipedia.



is not the equivalent of (quoting you mischaracterizing my words) the "obliteration" of these youths' "capacit(ies) for thinking"-- though that is the direction in which the harm proceeds, I never went so far as to say anything equalling "obliteration".

I don't think a restatement is required.

79Tid
May 16, 11:28am Top

"In fact, however, despite Wikipedia's claims to the contrary, it isn't the case that anyone who finds an error in the articles is simply free to correct it. (You could read up on Philip Roth's hilarious--but not hilarious from his point of view--experience trying to get a factual error corrected concerning himself or something in one of his works.)"

Interesting. The entire controversy and imbroglio arising out of this open letter has not only caused a revision to the Wikipedia entry, but is featured in the article.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Human_Stain

"People who can reason no better than this are Wikipedia's helpless victims. What you have following "therefore," does not logically follow. But one has to be able to recognize this and, apparently, you cannot."

I would normally chide the writer of such a comment to "not be so rude". However, you are proximity1 and being rude is part of your DNA, so any such request would be utterly pointless.

80proximity1
Edited: May 16, 12:41pm Top

>79 Tid:

I consider it "rude" of one to so consistently miss the point when such care is taken to make them.

If Roth, the book's own author, was deemed not qualified to correct this portrayal of his novel's soures--and he was deemed unfit because he could not cite a "source" other than his own personal view, not allowed-- then it ought to be clear that the site has taken up applying rules after having forgotten common-sense in their application.

But why should this require further explanation? Why isn't the example a patent case of the site's failure on exactly the points being laid out in the criticisms? The site's house editors trump a novel's own author in the portrayal of that author's work and its sources and motives? It's absurd but that is what happened and why Roth had no other recourse than to either forget about it or write the open-letter protest.

That's a case of prima facie disgrace. You say the site recognizes and relates the events in their own pages. But that doesn't alter the facts or make them less outrageous. Merely reporting, "our critics say of us ..." and following it with a catalogue and then going right on pursuing the same policies is not respectable and leaves your obejection that they referred to the incident in the light it deserves: the site hasn't altered the basic operational scheme which produced that incident and something else like it could happen any time.

And you seem to have nothing better in responses than to speak here on behalf of Wikipedia, making excuses for the policies even as you fail to grasp their import.

Yes, that is my idea of "rude."

The Wikipedia article continues to state that Roth's views as to the sources, motives and characterization are merely one person's--namely his own--and that others don't agree with him. The nerve! On a point of fact! :

" Roth wrote an open letter to Wikipedia in The New Yorker in which he dismissed its assertions that his novel was inspired by Anatole Broyard: ..."

omitted is a clear and unambiguous admission that Roth's attempts to set the record straight were repeatedly and systematically rebuffed. If Roth can't succeed on such a primary point, what chance do others have for fair treatment?

Roth's Open-Letter states,

" (The precise language has since been altered by Wikipedia’s collaborative editing, but this falsity still stands.)"

81barney67
May 16, 2:14pm Top

The more subjective Wikipedia gets, the less effective it is and the less likely it is to be correct.

Don't use it for literary interpretation. Don't use it to tell you how to think. Use it for objective, verifiable facts. The number of bones in the hand. The location of river. The length of a coastline.

How many gold records Beyonce has.

82alco261
May 16, 5:41pm Top

>77 Guanhumara: does this meet with your approval?

>55 proximity1: proximity1: just curious, have you ever raised a child or spent a lot of time teaching children? My perception of your posts on this topic is that you seem to think kids are a bunch of fragile hot-house flowers that will fall apart/wilt in the presence of the slightest perturbation with respect to information/knowledge.

I can tell you from extensive first hand experience that, in general, they are not nearly as gullible/conforming as you seem to think they are. It is quite true that there are/were kids at my son's school who were slaves to conformity with respect to things like slashed jeans etc. but there were far more who weren't.

The school my son attended amounted to a cross section of American life with respect to socio-economic status, race, religion, and gender so I think my sample was reasonably representative of the then current student population.

This is not to imply or in any way suggest that the issue is just one that impacts Americans who happen to have attended school in my son’s school district. I’m quite sure it concerns people from Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain,, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia (FYROM), Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Palestine, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar,, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, South Sudan, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates (UAE), United Kingdom (UK), United States of America (USA), Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vatican City (Holy See), Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe as well.

Nor should my selfish reference to the sample of the children in my son’s school district in any way be construed to assume the exclusion of individuals from one or many or no religions nor should it be construed to be exclusive with respect to gender or sexual orientation nor does it imply a refusal to consider those who are physically or mentally challenged.

I do know that if one took the time to really talk to kids it was easy to see that, for most of them, their BS meters were intact and functioning.

83Tid
May 16, 5:42pm Top

>81 barney67: ..and how rude proximity1 is.

84RickHarsch
May 16, 7:05pm Top

>82 alco261: I notice that in EXACTLY NONE of your posts have you mentioned learned marmots? Are we to take this to indicate the limited obvious or the infinite obvious?

85alco261
May 16, 8:51pm Top

>84 RickHarsch: I've already hidden behind the excuses of limited and infinite obvious so I need to look elsewhere - I'll blame that egregious oversight on a bad case of rented fingers.

86davidgn
May 16, 9:49pm Top

>85 alco261: You may file your apology here. https://www.marmot.org/

87RickHarsch
May 17, 5:36am Top

>85 alco261: >86 davidgn: Looks as if davidgn was duped by Karelians. Not a marmot site. Repeat: not a marmot site.

88Kuiperdolin
May 18, 8:17am Top

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Lamest_edit_wars

"A revert war on whether the tiger can properly be described as the "most powerful living cat" (complete with accusations that people were "tiger fanboys") gradually led to arguments about how tigers would match up vs. bears and crocodiles (oh my!), complete with another revert war about the inclusion of a YouTube video showing a tiger fighting a crocodile, eventually leading to the article being semi-protected. The debates about bears and crocodiles continue on the talk page."

89barney67
May 18, 4:00pm Top

>83 Tid: This is the internet. It thrives on rudeness and conflict.

90RickHarsch
May 18, 4:01pm Top

>89 barney67: Well, by golly, Barn, then join right in!

91Guanhumara
May 18, 8:39pm Top

> alco61

Yes, thank you, I have taken the time to talk to 'kids' (and adults) from quite a wide range of countries, many of whom live under governments who restrict news access, prescribe the school curriculum and criminalize certain views. And since, as you put it, "for most of them, their BS meters were intact and functioning" they are well-aware of the fact they are being (or have been) fed biased information.

Unfortunately their experience of the crude bias they have been subjected to, combined with a complete lack of opportunity to debate the subject openly, leaves them often with the impression that Wikipedia - since it is manifestly free of any state control - is a neutral, unbiased source of information. They do treat it as authoritative - because they don't trust the books they have access to.

Your impression of the 'kids' at your son's school may well be correct. It may even be reasonable to generalise from them to American youth in general. (I haven't talked to many young Americans myself, so I can't comment.) And some other countries as well, no doubt.

But to assume that the opinions of young Americans are representative of young people everywhere, many of whom have to operate in far more restrictive environments, would be both arrogant and naive. (Hence my impression that you were under the impression that mainly Americans use Wikipedia.)

92johnthefireman
May 19, 12:47am Top

>89 barney67:

Hm. You're right, of course, that rudeness and conflict are common on the internet. Whether that makes it "thrive" is a different matter.

>91 Guanhumara:

Thank you for pointing out that Wikipedia, the internet, LT and indeed the world are not all identical with the USA, a point which I often try to make in my own small way from where I sit in Africa.

93prosfilaes
May 19, 4:12pm Top

>91 Guanhumara: Hence my impression that you were under the impression that mainly Americans use Wikipedia

https://stats.wikimedia.org/wikimedia/squids/SquidReportPageViewsPerCountryOverview.htm says that 73.4% of the users of Wikipedia come from the Global North. Judging by https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-2017 , of the top ten nations, making up 62.2% of the users, only 6.9% come from nations that aren't rated Free; Russia (4.4%) and Iran (2.5%), both counted as not free. Mainly people from nations with civil liberties use Wikipedia.

They do treat it as authoritative - because they don't trust the books they have access to.

People who can't trust the books they have access to trust source of data that's not censored. News at 11. It seems that if they have better sources, then it's easy to tell people to rely on them, but if they don't have better sources, then what?

94Tid
May 19, 5:06pm Top

>93 prosfilaes:

"People who can't trust the books they have access to trust source of data that's not censored. News at 11. It seems that if they have better sources, then it's easy to tell people to rely on them, but if they don't have better sources, then what?"

My point entirely - how much source information (of whatever kind) is absolutely 100% reliable and unbiased?

95RickHarsch
May 19, 5:20pm Top

Minor point: There is no such place as the Global North, though there is a global north even if there are better ways to phrase it.

96Guanhumara
May 19, 6:16pm Top

profilaes:

It appears that "Free-ness" is an unreliable metric for control of information: Japan, India and the Baltic states (for example) are all classified as "Free", despite practising government censorship of textbooks, combined with an educational culture that favours didactic teaching methods over facilitating debate.

This hardly surprising: civil liberties cover a much broader range than 'freedom of information', and a desire to control information (particularly in relation to history) does not necessarily correlate with other forms of repression.

As to the data on usage that you supplied, since most people I know who are accessing the Internet from within nations with repressive regimes make full use of proxies when searching the Web, I am curious as to how Wikipedia could obtain accurate data on country of origin. (Since the USA is the usual spoof address of choice , one might expect to see it over-represented.) In any case, when "over 50% of the population" of a country use Wikipedia, then I would still say that implies Wikipedia is having a significant impact on that nation.

Apparently Americans are under a quarter of Wikipedia users; so to analyse it as if it were a purely American phenomenon seems misguided.

"...It seems that if they have better sources, then it's easy to tell people to rely on them, but if they don't have better sources, then what?"

That is the point. NO source is 100% reliable and free of bias (whether deliberate or unconscious).

But the danger in Wikipedia is the relative anonymity of its sources and the lack of transparency over editorial oversight. Yes, it demands citation of sources, thus eliminating outright lying; but any article can be skewed by selective citations. The problem is that the crowd-sourcing paradigm gives a false sense of neutrality, imbuing it with an undeserved aura of authority.

97RickHarsch
May 19, 7:00pm Top

I would venture to guess that the average 35 year old citizen of, say, Poland, knows far more about the world than the average USAmerican of that age. For example. My suggestion is that without a culture that values intellect, intellect will turn out in short supply. Wikipedia as a new Britannica or a broader People magazine matters not in the least.

98prosfilaes
May 19, 8:55pm Top

>96 Guanhumara: practising government censorship of textbooks,

I don't know what that even means. If the state chooses and purchases textbooks for its schools, then it "censors" the textbooks, and thus every textbook at a state school is going to be censored. It's not a meaningful accusation.

Textbooks in state schools are inherently products of the state. Textbooks in the US have had all the controversy drained out of them and replaced where appropriate with vague bolsterish patriotism; I assumed that most other state textbooks around the world are similar or worse. I don't see any real way around this; in a democratic state, the School Board (or whoever chooses the textbooks) will answer to the citizens, and controversial statements are the main way to get them to care about what the School Board is making a textbook.

When talking about control of information, I was worried about what was in libraries and newspapers.

most people I know...

You worry about sample sizes a lot less in your arguments then in other peoples.

Apparently Americans are under a quarter of Wikipedia users;

And the users you are stressing about are under a quarter of Wikipedia users by nation, even before we split students off from the older population. Therein lies the point.

NO source is 100% reliable and free of bias (whether deliberate or unconscious).

Right. Then what's your problem with Wikipedia? You've never compared Wikipedia to the sources they do have access to.

The problem is that the crowd-sourcing paradigm gives a false sense of neutrality, imbuing it with an undeserved aura of authority.

You've cut out all the actors in that statement. "Some people assume the crowd-sourcing paradigm leads to a level of neutrality that Wikipedia does not reach in practice." is a fair statement. Other people don't, however.

Ultimately, the problem in this post is that you're not offering concrete problems and certainly not concrete solutions. Nobody has really gainsaid >22 timspalding: or > 24; we understand that Wikipedia is not perfect.

99Guanhumara
May 20, 9:56am Top

98 prosfilaes

"practising government censorship of textbooks,..."

I don't know what that even means. If the state chooses
(my emphasis) and purchases textbooks for its schools, then it "censors" the textbooks, and thus every textbook at a state school is going to be censored.

You 'don't know what that... means' because you are assuming that every country's educational system is identical to your own. They are not.

A textbook is simply a book which a teacher uses in class to teach from. In the (state-funded) school that I attended, copies of these books were provided by the school, having been purchased from a budget of money provided by the state. (I am aware of systems where the pupils are required to purchase the textbooks that the teacher prescribes.) But is the teacher who chose the textbook that they wanted to use. There was no state monitoring of purchases.

In my country, the state prescribes elements of the curriculum, in terms of topics that have to be covered, and assesses this through the national level exams (and this applies to fee-paying schools equally). It does not specify how. There is no state-approved list from which textbooks have to be chosen (still less any control over which are published).

You worry about sample sizes a lot less in your arguments then in other peoples.

Not at all. I accepted alco61's sample of "my son's school" as probably being a valid sample concerning "American life", as they stated. (I say probably simply because I cannot myself confirm or deny this.) What I objected to was their over-generalization of their observations to young people in very different environments.

I referenced an equivalent sized sample of a different statistical population.

Of course, if, in your personal experience, the majority of young people whom you know from "countries that practice censorship, who are participating in online debate" are not using proxies, please feel free to say so.

Ultimately, the problem in this post is that you're not offering concrete problems and certainly not concrete solutions.

I was not aware that having a ready-made solution was a prerequisite for identifying a solution. That, surely, is the purpose of discussion?

what's your problem with Wikipedia? You've never compared Wikipedia to the sources they do have access to.

Traditional sources of information may be biased, but the author and publisher are clearly identified. So the orientation of any bias is evident.

I've never argued that Wikipedia is more biased than other sources (sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't). It falls down in comparison with other sources in lack of transparency. Authors are not identified, neither are the editors.

The work of editors is necessary, to fight trolling, but their anonymity makes it harder to identify any biases. I never claimed that Wikipedia is utterly evil. I use it regularly myself to check a date.

My complaint is against the claim that 'crowd-sourcing guarantees neutrality' (and the influence consequent on that fallacy) and the lack of ownership of authorship.

100Guanhumara
May 20, 10:15am Top

97 RickHarsch:

Well, they do say "where you find two Poles, you will find an argument; if you find three, they will be founding a newspaper"!!

I also agree that it makes a great difference whether a culture considers intellectual to be a compliment or an insult.

But I disagree with your analogy of Wikipedia "as a new Britannica or a broader People magazine"; the articles in those are not anonymous.

101RickHarsch
May 20, 10:41am Top

>100 Guanhumara: Thankfully I did not say that Wikipedia was either a new Britannica or a broader People magazine. Please quote me more accurately. I suggested that it didn't matter whether it was either pole, even if it might replace the newspaper.

102Guanhumara
May 20, 12:12pm Top

101 RickHarsch:

No misrepresentation was intended. Either I am misunderstanding you or you are misunderstanding me - I am not sure which.

You are saying that it doesn't matter whether it is "high-brow" or "populist", right? I agree.

My point is that what matters is that it is anonymous.

People are free to choose whether they prefer to listen to the opinions of an established academic or a tabloid journalist. But what is important is that they know whose opinions they are getting.

103librorumamans
May 20, 12:39pm Top

>102 Guanhumara: I don't really want to be drawn in to this discussion that belongs, to my mind, among the sillier of the teapot hurricanes.

I will observe, though, that WP is not really anonymous. Yes, a number of edits are made by unregistered users who are identified only by their current IP addresses. Registered editors are not anonymous, however, but at most pseudonymous. If one wishes to gauge their contributions one can look at the history of their edits (or reversions of their edits) and draw reasonable conclusions about their level-headedness. This process is not really that different from evaluating an academic source by digging deeply enough to discover that there may have been (or not) a conflict of interest in the underlying research.

104RickHarsch
May 20, 12:59pm Top

>102 Guanhumara: Mutual misunderstanding in a way: I really don't care about the argument at all, largely because the country that tried to deform me cares so little about intellect its politicians can't win if they seem to be intellectuals...this has led me to care far less about one particular source of information or another.

105Guanhumara
May 21, 5:43am Top

> librorumamans

I agree that academic sources should be evaluated as thoroughly as Internet ones. And digging into a history of contributions does provide evidence about the personalities behind the pseudonyms on Wikipedia.

I suppose it is better phrased as a lack of transparency. All conventional books (and the majority of websites) give a potted biography of the author.

To give an example:
If I pick up a book published in Kyiv, I know to expect a certain view of Ukrainian history; if it is published in Moscow, I know to expect another. If I turn to Wikipedia, there are no equivalent indicators of author origin.

Yes, I can dig for them (and if I am looking into information important to me, I do). But I doubt that most people do that every time they turn to Wikipedia for a fact.

The single point on which I agree with the OP is that the argument that "crowdsourcing ensures neutrality" is spurious (and I wished to state this more temperately!) All sources of information have their own bias (whether unconscious or deliberate). The problems with Wikipedia are (i) the claim, often made, that its method of construction guarantees its neutrality and (ii) the anonymity (or pseudonymity) that obscure what those biases are.

106prosfilaes
Edited: May 21, 5:03pm Top

>99 Guanhumara: But is the teacher who chose the textbook that they wanted to use. There was no state monitoring of purchases.

A teacher is a state employee in state schools, so it's still state censorship. I'm sure there's a wider variety of textbooks used, but I'm curious what the overall effect is. Certainly there will still be pressure from the principal and parents, and a limited selection of textbooks to choose from (because a textbook is expensive to make, so there won't be many that cover the curriculum.)

In my country, the state prescribes elements of the curriculum, in terms of topics that have to be covered, and assesses this through the national level exams (and this applies to fee-paying schools equally). It does not specify how. There is no state-approved list from which textbooks have to be chosen (still less any control over which are published).

In no free country is there any control over which textbooks are published. That's freedom of the press.

You say that as if your country haven't censored the textbooks as effectively as most that exert direct control over the textbook. If the students have a question "what is the cause of the War Between the States?" answer "economic differences between the North and South" you've effectively excluded any textbooks that put emphasis on slavery as a cause of the Civil War. If the test has pages about the creation of the constitution, then the book will have to spend pages on that to the exclusion of other subjects. Unlike the US, there's no escape; private schools have to bend to this just like public schools.

Traditional sources of information may be biased, but the author and publisher are clearly identified. So the orientation of any bias is evident.

I have two problems with this: one, the publisher is clearly identified: it's the Wikimedia Foundation. The authors are identified, if some only by a group pseudonym of their IP address. And frequently in encyclopedias and textbook level works, authors are but vaguely identified; even if you have the original authors identified, it was mangled edition after edition by nameless editors.

Secondly, The History of the British Film, 1918-1929 by Rachael Low, published by George Allen & Unwin, Ltd. Quick, what are the orientation of the biases? If you're reading some work published by Bob Jones University Press or the Cato Institute, or authored by Steven Colbert or Ayn Rand, it has a clearly known bias. But there are millions of books published by huge or unknown publishers, by unknown authors. In a lot of cases, biases are just not easily seen; a good knowledge of the subject or a good reviewer with such a knowledge is often your only hope.

I'd go back to the first problem; if you want to read a several hundred page study of a subject, then do so; but people going to Wikipedia don't want to read a several hundred page study. That's what encyclopedias are for. And the author of an encyclopedia is rarely clear, and figuring out the bias of Elizabeth O'Neill, M. A. (one author for EB) is going to take more time than reading the article.

'crowd-sourcing guarantees neutrality'

I don't think anyone here is arguing for that position. I'm pretty sure that it's a rare unsophisticated position.

the lack of ownership of authorship.

I'd say that's irrelevant (and again, pretty standard in encyclopedias and textbooks). The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

>105 Guanhumara: If I pick up a book published in Kyiv, I know to expect a certain view of Ukrainian history; if it is published in Moscow, I know to expect another.

Picking up a book and dismissing material because of its geographic origin is not a good reading strategy. So much for communication; just dismiss authors because of where they come from. Pigeonholing material is not a good thing.

107Guanhumara
May 21, 11:24pm Top

> 106 profilaes


In no free country is there any control over which textbooks are published. That's freedom of the press.

If that is your position, then you cannot base your figures (as you did) on a source that defines Japan as a "free country". Japan controls the content of history textbooks quite strictly.

Picking up a book and dismissing material because of its geographic origin is not a good reading strategy. So much for communication; just dismiss authors because of where they come from.

Please do not misrepresent what I said.
(i) I said nothing about "where authors come from". I referred to where books are published. I deliberately chose an example where the states involved exert control over the publishing houses; therefore, whatever the author's personal thoughts, the circumstances of publication determines what orientation they are able to express.
(ii) I said nothing about "dismissing material" - I referred to expected viewpoint. I consider it good practice to make sure that I consult at least one source from each side on any contentious issue.

"the lack of ownership of authorship"

I'd say that's irrelevant (and again, pretty standard in encyclopedias and textbooks)


I'm not at all sure what you mean here. Are you seriously telling me that you have encountered textbooks or encyclopaedias in which the author's name and academic affiliation is not clearly given for every article?

You say that as if your country haven't censored the textbooks as effectively as most that exert direct control over the textbook. If the students have a question "what is the cause of the War Between the States?" answer "economic differences between the North and South" you've effectively excluded any textbooks that put emphasis on slavery as a cause of the Civil War.

Do US examinations really assess with trite Q&A phrases like that? We use multiple choice questions to check a knowledge of basic facts (e.g. who held office, dates laws were passed and so forth) But all arts subjects are primarily assessed by essay-type questions. There is no prescribed answer: the mark is given for the quality of the reasoning. Arguments drawn purely from textbooks, with no evidence of original thought, will earn you a passing grade only.

a limited selection of textbooks to choose from (because a textbook is expensive to make, so there won't be many that cover the curriculum.)

Nor is there any requirement that a single source is used. I've known teachers to photocopy and distribute articles to cover material not in the main text.

Of course, budget will constrain the amount of material that can be covered, but that is equally true whether one is talking about school-provided material or independent reading.

A teacher is a state employee in state schools, so it's still state censorship.

If you argue that any state employee, acting on their own initiative and without any central directive, is practising "state censorship" merely by virtue of being a state employee, then by that (rather idiosyncratic) definition, all countries that provide free education practice state censorship.

So you have gone from arguing that
of the users of Wikipedia ... only 6.9% come from nations that aren't rated Free;
to positing a definition of censorship wherein the majority of the world would not count as free!

'crowd-sourcing guarantees neutrality'

I don't think anyone here is arguing for that position. I'm pretty sure that it's a rare unsophisticated position.


The point is not whether ''anyone here'' is arguing that. I see no reason to assume that LT users constitute a representative sample of Wikipedia users. In my experience, it is a common view among users from countries which restrict access to information. You have yet to state on what basis you are "pretty sure" it is rare.

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