Reliability of Wikipedia Erin Dul ALES 204 21 March 2012
Wikipedia Assignment - FAQs• How do I choose a stub? – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stub_lists – Try to choose one that you have good references for!• My stub already has some information written? – 300-600 words must be your own – Make sure that the existing information is properly referenced if you are planning to use it• What is a good reference for citation? – If you are writing about a scientific subject, peer-reviewed papers are the best source – If you are writing about a more general topic, I advise that you look at a similar article that has “good article” status to see what types of citations they use
Wikipedia Assignment - Reminders• Blog post AND Wikipedia article are both marked and are due Friday at 17:00• If you can’t figure out how to do something, the best way to get a quick answer is to look at the code for a different article – Ask your TAs if you need help!
Adding an image• The best place to get an image is from Wikimedia Commons: – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Main_Page – These are images that Wikipedia users make available for free reuse• Insert a file into your code: – [[File:Example.jpg]]• Type the name of the Wikimedia Commons file into the “Example.jpg” spot• Example: – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooking_(science) – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lab_book_- _Lawrence_Berkeley_National_Laboratory_-_DSC08822.JPG
Questions about Wikipedia Assignment?Please ask now!E-mail your TA or Erin questions!Remember that the best way to figure out howto code something is to look at another article!
Wikipedia• Wikipedia was formally launched on 15 January 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger• Wales set one up and put it online on 10 January 2001
Types of Contributors• The Performer• The Vandal• The Gardener
Performer• Frequent edits• Dramatic self- portrayal• Preferentially edits text that s/he creates• Moulds work to suit her/his ideas
Vandal• Note: vandalism on Wikipedia is prohibited• Add, remove or change content in a DELIBERATE attempt to sabotage the quality/integrity of Wikipedia – Add irrelevant obscenities, crude humor, blanking pages and/or inserting obvious nonsense (see Wikipedia)• Can result in being blocked
Gardener• Frequent contributions• Focuses on organising and correcting• Usually edits in the user pages rather than public talk pages
How does Wikipedia “police” their articles?• Users monitor recent changes to articles• Acts of vandalism are usually discovered quickly
Recent Changes• a specific list numbering recent edits, or a list of edits made within a given time frame• Some wikis can filter the list to remove minor edits and edits made by automatic importing scripts ("bots")• the revision history shows previous page versions and the diff feature highlights the changes between two revisions• Using the revision history, an editor can view and restore a previous version of the article.
Revision History• Wikis are generally designed with the philosophy of making it easy to correct mistakes, rather than making it difficult to make them• Though wikis are very open, they provide a means to verify the validity of recent additions to the body of pages
Revision History• In case unacceptable edits are missed on the "recent changes" page, some wiki engines provide additional content control.• It can be monitored to ensure that a page, or a set of pages, keeps its quality. A person willing to maintain pages will be warned of modifications to the pages, allowing him or her to verify the validity of new editions quickly. A watchlist is a common implementation of this.• Some wikis also implement "patrolled revisions," in which editors with the requisite credentials can mark some edits as not vandalism. A "flagged revisions" system can prevent edits from going live until they have been reviewed.
Comparative studies on the reliability of Wikipedia• How does Wikipedia compare to other encyclopedias? – What do we use encyclopedias for? – Would we ever cite an encyclopedia? http://nowsourcing.files.wordpress.com/2007/07/encyclopedia.jpg
Nature Study (2005)• Single blind study• 42 experts in scientific fields were given articles related to their field – Asked to evaluate the number of errors or omissions in the article – Wikipedia average = 4 errors/article – Brittannica average = 3 errors/article• Wikipedia: more incorrect facts, articles often poorly structured• Brittannica: more ommissions http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability_of_Wikipedia
Expert opinions - librarians Pros Cons • Found the presentation of • Researchers don’t go controversial subjects very further than Wikipedia well rounded when trying to understand a • Good coverage of current topic events • Using only Wikipedia = Big • Negotiation of final version Mac diet of article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability_of_Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Inception_ver3.jpg
Academics/science and medicinePro Con• More accurate than • “Inherent reliability issues” traditional news media • Drug companies may edit• Good source for first articles to take away side approximation/starting effects of drugs point for research • Cited sources – how accurate are they? • Readability sometimes an issue http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability_of_Wikipedia
Bias• Coverage – Too much coverage in some areas: video games, popular culture – “longer entry on lightsabers than the printing press” – Liberal bias – American bias – Gender bias http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reliability_of_Wikipedia
Conclusions???• Tweet your conclusions!• When is it appropriate to use Wikipedia? Why?• Are some articles better than others? Why?• Is Wikipedia better or worse than a traditional encyclopedia? Why?• @JessL, #ALES204 http://www.thinkgeek.com/books/humor/8e6c/images/2070/