Some thoughts on
I love Wikipedia. It's the first place I go when I'm looking for knowledge,
or when I want to create some.
The Wikipedia Effect
• Wikipedia is potentially unreliable
• Who wrote the entry?
– professor, subject-expert, school-kid…
– quite possibly all of the above
• What research did they do?
– looked at another web site?
– Were the facts checked?
• What you see today was not there yesterday and will probably be
• Vandalism, dilution or corruption of good entries
Lack of Discrimination
• Tendency to include everything
• Entries often become very long and unreadable
• A good editor would select the key facts, often aided by strict page
limits, but this process is largely missing
• There are rather too many stark facts, a number of which are
distasteful and you wouldn't want your children to see!
James Neil Tucker (January 12, 1957 – May 28, 2004) was a convicted murderer
executed by the U.S. state of South Carolina by means of the electric chair … Two
jolts were required to execute Tucker for the murder of Rosa Lee Dolly Oakley.
Witnesses said that his body jerked upwards as the current flowed through his
body. The second jolt lasted two minutes. He was officially pronounced dead at
6:11 p.m … For his last meal, he ordered pizza, Mountain Dew and two BLT
Just plain wrong
• Bad spelling and grammar or badly written English does not inspire
confidence or encourage students to improve the quality of their
• These errors are common suggests new problems are introduced
as quickly as old problems are fixed
• From the Wikipedia entry on Wikipedia (Feb, 2007):
Wikipedia's English edition was lunched on January 15, 2001
• When Wikipedia is updated, other copies not necessarily updated
Overviews of Wikipedia
•Outline of knowledge — Wikipedia's outline of the knowledge of
humankind (still under development) also serves as a general site
map of Wikipedia's contents. It is composed of topic outlines (one for
each subject), and each of these pages presents its subject's
structure, with links to the topics that make up its subject.
•Overviews — a one-page summary of the contents of Wikipedia,
presenting an overview of 12 major subjects, providing links to key
articles in each.
•List of academic disciplines — Wikipedia arranged like a college
•Featured articles — what we believe to be the best articles in
•Featured pictures — images we find beautiful, impressive, and
•Featured lists — what we believe to be the best lists in Wikipedia.
•Featured topics — topics we believe have coverage which is both
comprehensive and well written.
•Featured sounds — sounds we find beautiful, impressive, and