Do you rely on Wikipedia content?
Thread poster: xxxLakoff
xxxLakoff
Germany
Mar 11, 2014

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/doctors-1-source-for-healthcare-information-wikipedia/284206/

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Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 21:31
Member
French to English
+ ...
'Rely' up to a point Mar 11, 2014

I find Wikipedia very useful for background, encylopædia-type information, like place-names and checking details of countries etc.

As far as technical stuff is concerned, I always take it with a pinch of salt, and pay particular attention to the general quality of the writing. In my experience, well-written articles are often more reliable (and certainly confidence-inspiring!) than some of the sloppier ones.

With regard to terminology, I always corroborate from other sources; you sometimes find Wikipedia is the only occurrence of some term, which rings little warning bells in my head; you also sometimes find that Wiki quotes a source on the 'Net that comes down to one original erroneous document, whose errors have been propagated alarmingly rapidly and over a very wide area by the 'Net. I have found instances where a single flawed document was quoted and re-quoted (not specifically by Wiki) until there were several tens of thousands of examples of that nonetheless erroneous text circulating on the 'Net — hence why one needs to be extremely circumspect when relying on Google hit statistics!

As a Wikipedia editor myself, I see the sort of errors that do appear — but by and large, I'd say that most contributors are honest and truthful, if not always as academically rigorous as one might like.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:31
Spanish to English
+ ...
Er... define "rely" Mar 11, 2014

Up to a point. Today, for example I found a synopsis of Foucault's works through Wikipedia which helped understand a lot of the terminology in a text I'm working on. In fact, I use Google and Wikipedia a lot, since I often work in fields in which I know little or nothing about (OK, so sue me), but whether I "rely" on these sources, or blindly accept the content they offer as gospel, is another question.

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xxxLakoff
Germany
TOPIC STARTER
Speaking of American patience... Mar 11, 2014

I think Wikipedia is a highly fascinating initiative with huge impact on society. As an unprecedented effort of communal knowledge building it is harnessing the work of millions of people. Growing and evolving rapidly, it is tempting to view it as a giant organism. It certainly represents a unique cyber-sociotope demonstrating a community spirit, reminding of the Linux expert group or similar. And with its strong open access policy, it is frequently targeted by assaults, but restored immediately so that users don´t even notice.

I personally consider it to be a kind of collection of magazines, some with deeper subject knowledge and beliefs than others. From a reader´s point of view, I suggest the introduction of a scoring mechanism to mark specific states in the evolution of each article and maybe the genre and register of the text. With no doubt, Wikipedia is highly entertaining and it has become indispensable these days to rapidly retrieve a convenient snapshot of a topic. However, I would never use it for professional purposes unless I can verify the sources.

Interestingly, there have been several studies by now showing that Wikipedia is - in many subject areas - as accurate and as concise as the Encyclopædia Britannica. Although the structure and readability are still often criticized, quality dynamically improves every day. And I am really wondering what the whole enterprise will be like in five or ten years from now.

Salute.


[Edited at 2014-03-12 06:18 GMT]


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Giovanna Alessandra Meloni  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:31
Member (2012)
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
Up to a point Mar 11, 2014

I think it is useful, but I don't believe all the subjects have the same quality.

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jorvaor  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:31
English to Spanish
+ ...
Up to a point. Mar 11, 2014

Wikipedia is very useful as a tool but, whenever I need high quality information, I use it only as a starting point.

Keep in mind that Wikipedia is mean to be a tertiary source. I usually trace back up to some of the primary sources, especially when I need information related to scientific topics for my translations.


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:31
French to English
+ ...
Wikipedia is full of errors, biased material, etc... Mar 12, 2014

...just like newspaper articles, textbooks, academic journal articles, documentary films and any other source of information.

So...

neilmac wrote:
but whether I "rely" on these sources, or blindly accept the content they offer as gospel, is another question.


You should not blindly accept Wikipedia's content as gospel.

But then again, you shouldn't blindly accept *any* content *anywhere* as gospel!!


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Little Woods  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Member
English to Vietnamese
Only up to a point Mar 12, 2014

I dont completely trust the content from Wiki in my language because the people writing them may add their subjective views into the content and mostly because the contents are translated from foreign languages by unqualified people that the content may not really be correct.

Sometimes those people mistranslate something but many other translators who don't have the chance seeing the sources or dont know the differences between dialiects will choose that wrong translation.


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 21:31
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Sure Mar 12, 2014

It's no worse than any other source you are likely to find on a given topic, and it is more detailed than any other source you might find.
Of course I wouldn't trust it on political & other current affairs issues, but the science content is generally reliable.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:31
Member (2008)
Italian to English
It's useful Mar 12, 2014

The really good thing about Wikipedia is that it requires us to exercise our critical faculties, which is something we ought to be doing all the time anyway.

Wikipedia has the advantage of being self-confessedly questionable and you can even change it if you want to!

I spend quite a bit of time improving the spelling and grammar of Wikipedia entries. We all have to make our little contribution when we can !



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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:31
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Gospel Mar 12, 2014

neilmac wrote:

.....blindly accept the content they offer as gospel.....


The Gospels are questionable too



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Sebastian Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:31
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
The entries are heavily edited by mods and the world may ... Mar 12, 2014

comment on any details and content that don't seem right on the actual article page so ...

An article I wrote on an actor from the gory trash genre I grew up with (Wolfgang Butzlaff) fell victim to such heavy editing as it didn't meet Wikipedia's very strict (formal) QA rules and has ever since remained a mere skeleton version.

So yes, I would say Wikipedia is reliable.

[Edited at 2014-03-12 20:28 GMT]


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Rolf Keller
Germany
Local time: 21:31
English to German
100.000 authors --> more than 100.000 levels of reliability & quality Mar 13, 2014

Sebastian Witte wrote:

So yes, I would say Wikipedia is reliable.


One rejected article could never ever be a basis for any judgement on reliability.


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