Wikipedia talk:Replies to common objections

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Talk-page for: Wikipedia:Replies to common objections

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Topics from 2001-2005[edit]

Discussion of the article as text (changes, improvements, etc.)[edit]

Early topics[edit]

WRT the "why not just go to google or" question, when doing a bunch of articles on the various sports of the world (some of which I was only casually familiar), I went searching using those very tools to see if I could find some introductory information about them. Very often, there just wasn't any - the web pages I found were aimed at people who already participated or watched those sports and would be virtually useless to somebody who'd never seen them before. I had to piece the information together from my own knowledge, careful reading of FAQ's, rulebooks, and a whole bunch of other material to get a feel for the sport, all of which took a good deal of time and effort (and every sport I wrote about I had at least seen on TV once or twice). If you know *nothing* about a particular sport, Wikipedia is IMHO already a far better source of introductory information in many cases than anything else easily locatable on the web. --Robert Merkel

Cool! Although, I'd guess something like might be a better bet, generally...  ;-) (At least, for now...)
-[ ???? 02:05, 4 October 2001 ]

Not really on topic but:

George Gershwin (who was arguably the single biggest influence on 20th century music)

What? (Of course, we don't have Louis Armstrong or Miles Davis either, who one can far more reasonably make these claim about)

-[ ???? 02:05, 4 October 2001 ]

Removed no-preventing[edit]

I've removed this text, which was added by an anonymous user to the main article. Perhaps we could reincorporate it into the article with an appropriate response to the criticism. Enchanter

"However, there is no preventing people from inserting insidious half-truths and deceptive statements into text. For instance, lies sandwiched between some plausible content may not get corrected until a discerning or better informed person sees it and points it out and this may take a while. This seems to be a problem that has no solution in a anarchist Wiki system -- and it diminishes the value of an entry. Wikipedia is extremely useful for obtaining rough ideas about a certain topic, but the information has to be taken with a grain of salt (i.e. its reliability is often more questionable compared to other academic sources, even books, which are already pretty low on the reliability scale already [to an academic, that is])."

-Enchanter 16:01, 23 June 2002

Other comments[edit]

The largest concerns have been in the mathematical section of the site. It is presently limited by HTML itself, which was never meant to display mathematical formulas. People are invited to work actively on the problems; for an update, join Wikipedia-L and post a question.

We have texvc. Could someone please update that ? Taw 21:59 Jan 11, 2003 (UTC)

Date issues[edit]

I've been reading this page and making minor corrections/changes and noticed that there are several references to "last three months" or "last nine months." This is problematic in a wiki as such statements aren't vaild for very long...

Someone should figure out the date range that goes with such statements and change it to say something like "from June to August 2002" rather than "three months"...

- 18:59, 19 January 2003
  • 14-Feb-2009: I finally just removed those date references: people were reading them as if still meaning "3 months ago" rather than actually 7 years ago. -Wikid77 (talk) 11:27, 14 February 2009 (UTC)

Short name[edit]

I added a "short name" because I can never remember what this page is called... Replies to our Critics? or Replies to Our Critics? I think this might be a good idea for pages where we want a long title, but want to link to it a fair amount too. What do you think? Martin 23:58, 2 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Small update[edit]

I made a small change from aka to ala a couple days back, thinking it was a simple typo. I just realized that aka might have been "also known as" and now I'm not sure which of the two versions is better. Thoughts?

Original: "This is a bit more of a problem, but it is dealt with fairly handily by the social mores of Wikipedia, aka Wikiquette."

Current: "This is a bit more of a problem, but it is dealt with fairly handily by the social mores of Wikipedia, ala Wikiquette."

FunnyMan3595 04:01, 19 Feb 2004 (UTC)

I like the ala version best but both make sense. Angela. 15:58, Feb 21, 2004 (UTC)

Needs updating in tone?[edit]

I've just sent a new user to this page, and was reading it over to see what exactly I'd be telling him. I don't think I'm qualified to do it, but overall I think this page could use some updating in tone (and occasionally in facts) -- much of the "apologetic" stance necessary when Wikipedia was very small is no longer justified. We still have many shortcomings and much room for growth, and this should definitely be acknowledged head-on, but some of these sections are far more defensive than our current work deserves. Could I please invite some of those who authored this page to take another look? Catherine 19:41, 6 Mar 2004 (UTC)


Note text:
Some users (e.g. people who have been banned for a period of time), have found ways to cause mayhem by exploiting the "optimistic" nature of existing Wikipedia rules. For example, some articles, or sections of articles, end up being protected for very long periods of time, in direct conflict with the stated goal of Wikipedia that articles should be open to improvement; and some excellent contributors have been driven off Wikipedia altogether. Wikipedia needs to modify some policies to favor consensus decision-making when one or two determined users seek to prevent any progress at all.

The facts speak for themselves, e.g. Wikipedia:Protection_log, Wikipedia:Missing_Wikipedians.

Yeah, I removed this. It duplicates other stuff on the page elsewhere. I'll readd something about "protection" to misc concerns. -[ MartinHarper 16:53, 27 March 2004]

A So-so bit of text[edit]

"Some communists, anarchists and others on the Left would say this sort of democracy is central to their politics. Some on the right wing would gladly give these folks a backhander. Most centrists and moderates find the whole subject too foolish for comment."

I'm not sure this text is connected to the point of the page. It seems like a bit of undigested (reasonably friendly) exchange of political name calling. While I find it amusing; it doesn't really seem right for the topic. What do people think? JesseW 06:02, 29 Sep 2004 (UTC)


I'm unsure where to put this, but Wikipedia should demand its writers to write their sources. That way one can look up the facts in other texts, and also make Wikipedia (more) usefull since it would recive a higher status seen from an academic point of view. What system to be supported should be left to the contributers.

Example text:

Text (Authors last name, year:page)

Page references

Author (year). title. edition. Town of publisher: Publisher

This is also to give credit to the persone who wrote the original work on which the Wikientry is based. There are proboarbly litterature "out there" that describe this in fuller detail than I have here however. But this is a problem that seems to plague most of Wikipedia.

It's a sensible request. See Wikipedia:WikiProject Fact and Reference Check for other people who are working on this. JesseW 22:53, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
But that would make it simply a list of references to other sources, something which Google does far better. Wikipedia cannot possibly be a quality source because it prohibits original material yet at the same time permits un-moderated editing. A contribution which I know to be accurate is regarded as less valuable than a widely-repeated error. What's the point? Particularly, what's the point when anything I read here may be totally untrue, and anything I add can be subverted by anyone else. Sbz5809 11:27, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

Discussion about Wikipedia, criticism, replies to such[edit]

I just finished reading all the "commentary" (seems heavy in criticism, actually) on K5. Woo nellie.

A few points come to mind...

First, I continue to hold the belief that people who *like* what they say, logically will come to wikipedia and participate, whereas those who don't, will not, and instead will post criticisms. It seemed like most of the critical posts came from a select handful of people. (I continue to be amazed at people who refuse to participate in such-and-such a project because "it's a waste of my precious time" yet seem to have sufficient time for endless ranting, arguing that ill-informed opinions are somehow valuable and a "service" to us, but anyway.) So it makes *sense* that articles posted to slashdot and k5 and the like would be heavy with vitrol. Still, ouch.

Second, I'm torn over whether or not it was good for Larry to respond to all the critical posts. It is nice to take time to correct those issues, but the phrase "feeding the trolls" comes to mind.  ;-) I would have liked to have seen folks other than Larry defending Wikipedia. (I didn't jump in because I figured it a waste of my precious time to write on a rant site, when I could be writing here. *wink*)

Third, I think this repeatedly emphasized the terrible prevalence of stub pages in Wikipedia. See my editorial about this at Wikipedia commentary/Kill the Stub Pages. I think this is an issue we really need to address proactively, soon, because I feel it might be hobbling our publicity. I think one of the critic's comments emphasizes the message outsiders are getting: "I'd rather see a few well written articles than just structure and process and nothing in it". All of us who have dug around in the site know that there's *tons* of well written articles -- they're just hidden under a huge empty structure filled with stubs. I think if we tone down the structure we'll give the good articles better visibility.

Fourth, there was a thread about someone who had quit wikipedia because Larry forcefully told him he was wrong about something, etc. etc. Many of us have experienced the harshness of being critiqued or reprimanded by Larry or others, and I guess in a way it's kind of a weeding out mechanism. For wikipedia to work, there must be rules and there is no room for bad/wrong/opinionated stuff. But I think the poster made a good point that Larry does have more influence and "power" than he may realize. He's an important guy here, and what he says matters a lot. I've noticed that Larry has been taking more and more care wording your critiques, and would encourage him (and all of us) to continue doing so, especially with newbies who are still trying to establish themselves here.

Fifth, we've gotten some really nice press lately, which is great, however I think we are not ready for having too much more. I think there is a line with any open source project with publicity that is considered "enough", and beyond which gains claims of "vaporware". I suspect with this K5 article that we may be close to this line. We do not want to seem to be over-hyping ourselves. And I think we're beyond the point of requiring hype, anyway. Wikipedia *exists* and is usable, and the facts of its existance should speak for itself.

Anyway, in summary: Ignore the Lazy Critics, Kill the Stub Pages, Be Nice, and We No Longer Need Hype.  :-)

Actually, I think the main reason why my post was so harshly criticized on K5 is essentially the way I set it up: I both tooted Wikipedia's horn and was "defensive" (i.e., set the article up so that it was a defense of Wikipedia against common criticisms). Either one of these things would be ripe for attack by many competitive personality types. And in addition that, early in the discussion I said "it's open season on Wikipedia." In short, my conscious purpose was to invite criticism in order to reply to it. I suspect that there have been a lot of people who have dismissed Wikipedia out of hand, simply by drawing easy (but incorrect) conclusions from HomePage-type descriptions of what Wikipedia is. As I suspected, when the concept was both explained and defended, in spite of all the predictable hyperventilation from the self-important eedjits, we gained a lot of publicity and more importantly a lot of new hands who actually understand what's going on here. This is why I'm working a lot on the replies to critics page. I think it's a crucial bit of "PR" that we have omitted. I think it will help persuade people who are sitting on the fence as well as correct many of the easier misconceptions of Wikipedia.

Yes, I will try to be nice, but as I have said, I ain't makin' no guarantees.  :-) Maybe it will help to explain how I got to be the way I am. My descent into tactlessness began when I joined the high school debate team as a high school freshman. My partner Mike Forsythe and I went on to become the highest-ranked debate team in the state of Alaska when I was 17. Debate prepared me to be a rhetorician, not a diplomat. Then I went to college and majored in philosophy, and, in case you didn't know, a lot of philosophers can be real assholes. A lot of them don't even realize how offensive their debating tactics can be. Then, in grad school, I spent a lot of time debating with people about philosophy online--and everyone knows how well Usenet and many mailing lists train people to be diplomatic and tactful :-). So I never tried very hard to learn the art of diplomacy, tact, and understatement until the last two years, working on Nupedia and Wikipedia. I still have a lot to learn, I admit. --LMS

Diplomacy tip number 1: Avoid references to rodents' posteriors.

This helpful tip has been brought to you by Stephen Gilbert, a former university debate team member himself. :)

Wow Larry, with that background I'm amazed at how quickly you've adopted to diplomacy!  :-)

Seriously, you're doing a great job, and I'm continuously impressed by how well you've handled the critiques; if it were me I'd be chewing scenery. I think that one of the never-mentioned factors in why Wikipedia is successful is that it has a damn good "chief editor".

-- BryceHarrington

Yes, Larry's been nice lately; now if someone can make KQ be consistently nice too.  :-D

Hey, I resent that. (But that doesn't mean it's not true. Point taken.) --KQ

Just to explain why I removed much of Sunir's text from the top of the document: basically, most people who come to Wikipedia have never heard of wiki (the concept). So, I imagine, most of the people who are looking at the replies-to-critics page are not interested in learning that "The software Wikipedia is currently using (though not necessarily the new PHP-based software), UseModWiki, has been built to scale socially to the sizes you are experiencing today. If you are interested in how this works, you should visit MeatBall:SoftSecurity and the other pages on MeatballWiki. The major limiting factor on its growth are optimization concerns right now, not security." That's far from being their major concern. In any event, this is Sunir's opinion about problems associated with future scalability of the UseModWiki software, which isn't obviously applicable to Wikipedia. --LMS

But what about reliability? That's yet another part of the answer. It seems very likely that, sometime soon, Wikipedia will set up some sort of approval process, whereby certain versions of articles receive the stamp of approval of some body of Wikipedia reviewers. There have been two main proposals about how to set up a review process. Whatever the shape of the process, it would act entirely independently of article generation. (We certainly do not want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.) But after it's in place, we will be able to present a set of genuine expert-approved articles that can favorably compare with articles from any general encyclopedia--Britannica included.

It doesn't seem very likely to me that an approval process will be agreed-on sometime soon. Even if it were, we should wait to see how it works out before bragging about it. DanKeshet

I believe that there is a potential criticism of Wikipedia which is worth discussing here. This is the concern that Wikipedia is likely to show a systematic bias towards the orientations and beliefs of those who are receptive to the idea of Spontaneous order. This is a simple selection effect arising out of these people being most inclined to contribute. The response should be that, if Wikipedia is a failure then it does not matter if it is biased. Conversely, if it is a success, then it is supporting evidence for the idea of spontaneous order and that those sceptical of that idea who are potential good wikipedians will be converted by the evidence. Alan Peakall 10:43 Oct 23, 2002 (UTC)

An investigation of the political beliefs of Wikipedia[edit]

Editors of the Wikipedia are not employed by Bomis - they're just people who happen to think that the idea of a free encyclopaedia is pretty neat. They have a wide range of political views, libertarian, authoritarian, socialist, capitalist, whatever. You can edit too, if you like. The reason there's so much stuff on Atlas Shrugged is that one or two editors who happen to be fans of the book decided to write a lot about it. That doesn't mean that every editor is a Rand-ite. I've written a fair bit on the symphonies of Gustav Mahler, and hope to write more in the future, but that doesn't make everybody a rabid Mahlerian.
What you seem to have done is stumbled across some pictures by one bloke (Jimbo Wales, if I'm not mistaken, who is a founder of Wikipedia, pays for the hardware and bandwidth, but doesn't actually edit here), decided that these pictures prove the guy's a libertarian or republican loony, then extrapolated from that that everybody on the Wikipedia must be a libertarian or republican loony as well. You might enjoy our article on logical fallacies. You might also want to look at pages like Wikipedia:Welcome, newcomers, Wikipedia:Overview FAQ and Wikipedia. --Camembert

Incidentally, Wikipedia's modus operandi does reflect some of Jimbo's beliefs (Wikipedia is quite anarchistic), but we do our best to fix the ones that don't work. ;-) --Eloquence 19:57 1 Jun 2003 (UTC)

actually, I'm anarcho-communist. But it's a valid point: the nature of Wikipedia may attract a certain type of contributor, and this may lead to systematic bias. See meta:systematic bias, for example. Martin 14:40 3 Jun 2003 (UTC)
There's nothing there. --Camembert

The above post was added to the village pump again on March 27, 2004 [1]. For the record, here is a reply to it posted there at that time:

No one is forcing you to use or contribute to Wikipedia. Since you managed to find the Edit this page links, tell me did editing here draft you into the Bomis army? Dori | Talk 16:10, Mar 27, 2004 (UTC)

OK, even if you have some effective (if nontraditional) quality control mechanisms in place, there's a special problem Wikipedia faces. Most of the contributors to this thing are "geeks" of various descriptions: hackers, scientists/academics, and so on. Many contributors are naturally biased in favour of anarchic, collaborative, libertarian projects. So how do you achieve "balance" when you have pages and pages devoted to the Grateful Dead or to Atlas Shrugged, and hardly anything about, say, George Gershwin?

This seems to be a perfectly legitimate concern. Basically, most of the people writing for Wikipedia right now are techie types, and others who for whatever reason are heavy Internet users. Among those people are (apparently) not many people who like to write bunches about Jane Austen (literature), Michelangelo (visual arts), gardening, architecture, dance, and theater. (Those are some of the weaker areas of Wikipedia right now. Come help us expand them!)
Our hope is that, when Wikipedia really hits the big time, while the percentages of people working on unpopular topics might remain the same, the sheer numbers of those people will be higher than they are now. The idea is that we'll be getting more content in those areas then. Besides, it's not as though we have a time limit. Even if the computer and mathematics areas fill up faster than the dance and literature areas, it doesn't follow that the latter areas will always be weak.
Another thing that we can do is target the weak areas and try to get contributors for those areas in various ways. See meta:systematic bias for further discussion.

This whole section is badly outdated. For one, our article on George Gershwin is fine, and for two, the anarchist/libertarian contingent on wikipedia has been declining steadily since the time it started. I would like to repurpose this section to address the bias we have toward European and European-descended history, philosophy, culture, etc. We have articles on Bob Dylan, Jane Austen, Michelangelo, George Gershwin, and Christina Aguilera, but our articles on Ravi Shankar, Bonga, or Asha Bhosle, are small or non-existent. The List of musical events (including the linked lists) are almost exclusively US, British, or Australian. So too List of years in literature, sport, etc. I think this criticism is much more appropriate, and needs to be addressed much more badly than the current one. DanKeshet 16:23 3 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Now, one of the conditions of our working together in this way is that we not aim at stating merely our own views on any given subject, but that we see to it that all competing views on any given subject are stated fairly and sympathetically. Of course, extreme minority views on a subject tend to be underemphasized, e.g., in scientific articles. But since Wikipedia is not paper, i.e., because it's not limited in space, we can have as much information on crank theories as any crank should wish--on pages about those crank theories. They're just not presented as the truth, except as the truth about what the crank, absurdly or not, believes. We have a policy against writing from anything but a neutral point of view.
It should be left up to each person's reason to decide what is the right view on any given question. Given that, it is of paramount importance that the various competing views be stated as clearly, completely, and sympathetically as possible, so that each can be reasonably judged on its own merits, rather than according to what one biased person says about the subject. And so it seems extremely valuable to us to have a complete, neutral statement of different views on all different controversies.

This was in the answer to the first question. I think it's more relevant to discussions of NPOV than of the question of "why should I let anyone edit my beautiful prose?". DELETED! (uh, moved to Talk). Martin 17:59 11 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Moreover--and this is something that you might not be able to understand very well if you haven't actually experienced it--there is a fair bit of (mostly friendly) peer pressure, and community standards are constantly being reinforced. The cranks and partisans, etc., are not simply outgunned. They also receive considerable opprobrium if they abuse the system.
It's easy to underestimate the effect of separating the concept of information and individual ownership of that information; it is a profound change from the prevailing paradigm since the advent of the printing press and capitalism. In short, people act differently in cooperative environments than they do in competitive environments.

This was in answer to the question "does Wikipedia scale?", but I think it missed the point. Firstly, peer pressure is a useful defence now, but it's very questionable whether peer pressure can scale, full stop. Arguably, that's why we have a legal system - because social mores don't scale.

Secondly, yes, wiki is different from a printing press - but that's not an answer to the question. We already know that printing press and capitalism can produce an encyclopedia. The question is whether wiki and good will can produce an encyclopedia. Why would being utterly unlike a system that is known to work imply that our system would work? Martin 19:42 11 Jul 2003 (UTC)

RSS Feed[edit]

I'm not sure where to post this, but could someone write an RSS Feed for this site? 07:00 8 Aug 2003 (UTC)

I agree. It would be best if you could get RSS feeds for your watchlist and individual pages, as well as RecentChanges. -- Björn Lindström 12:22, 7 Dec 2003 (UTC)


Encourage Mr. I-Can't-Take-It-Seriously to make edits. The thought that I kept having when reading the FAQ is that the person making the complaints about Wikipedia not being academically sound is "well if you recognize that an article contains errors, why don't YOU edit it?".

After all, one of the points in the rebuttals is that experts happen across the dubious content sooner or later, and fix it up themselves. Part of the peer review process is that authorities in a field are making (or at least suggesting) edits. If you are confident that an article is flawed, you are probably qualified to suggest corrections. The way Wikipedia works, "suggestions" are immediately published, but it is likely that people who consider themselves an authority on a subject are monitoring the entry in question, so within a few days anything contentious will be addressed and the article will more closely reflect consensus.

In a less heavily edited document, I would just go ahead and make this change, but I'm wondering if maybe there's a reason the critic isn't being encouraged to become an editor. I'm not about to trawl through the edit history to find out.mjb 17:44, 9 Aug 2003 (UTC)

I think if someone criticises my garden and says "it needs a lot of care" then "so take care of it!" isn't a valid response: if the critic believes my garden takes a lot of care, then sie won't want to invest any time in caring for it. Rather, I should convince hir that the garden looks after itself most of the time. Not everyone wants to get involved in "vandal defence", so we shouldn't give the (wrong) impression that Wikipedia only works because everyone is continuously engaged in vandal defence. Martin 12:13, 8 Sep 2003 (UTC)

From Votes for Deletion talk[edit]

there was a bit of a bru-ha-ha over the design of the VfD page, which is what George is referring to.

I came across Wikipedia while researching a topic I was interested in. The Wikipedia concept interested me immediately, specially for its potential for the free flow of information across international boundaries. Somehow I came across this debate about how to handle long pages. I browsed through some of the comments, debates, and insults.

My conclusion is that democracy doesn't work. Unless some authority is in a position to make a decision about matters under dispute, the debate, I see, is endless and might never be concluded. Is this not chaos? User:George_Thomas

An interesting place to make your one and only edit on Wikipedia, George. But welcome! I hope you enjoy your stay. Trust me, once you start read, write and editting the good pages and ignore all this boring policy stuff and leave to other people, you'll see that Wikipedia WORKS. Pete 06:11, 8 Sep 2003 (UTC)
My conclusion is that democracy doesn't work. You concluded that democracy doesn't work after reading discussions on Wikipedia? Wow, talk about shattering illusions! The irony is that Wikipedia is more an example of anarchy than of democracy. If people followed a more defined democratic decision making process, there would be less flamewars (which, compared with other forums, are still reasonably rare).—Eloquence
there is no magic bullet for avoiding flame wars... Martin 10:59, 8 Sep 2003 (UTC)

who says Wikipedia is a democracy? :-s - fonzy

What is a defined democratic process? This is the closest to participatory democracy that is possible. It is just that there are too many things to discuss. It is actually a very well structured process, not chaotic, just start looking around. This proves that social structures have imbedded orders in them even if such structures spring up out in a hermeneutic fashion. I say get rid of them in three days. Alex756 11:22, 8 Sep 2003 (UTC)
I agree. Death to those social structures! :) Martin

George raises a valid point, and I note we don't have a response to it here! Let's see if we can draft one. :) Martin 12:14, 8 Sep 2003 (UTC)

I'll put WikiMoney on 'George' being a one-edit user intent on stirring up the VfD hornet's nest. We shouldn't have fed him as much as we have. Pete 12:28, 8 Sep 2003 (UTC)

October 5, 2003


Nowhere did I see information (perhaps I just missed it, though) that explained that one is actually editing a page. I do not think it is wise to make it so easy to cause havoc. I was able to revert back to the previous page, but I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out how things work.

I do have a question about quality, though. Who reviews the accuracy of changes that people make? Anyone? No one is what I believe the answer is. I can agree with some of the reasoning about the validity of this approach to gathering and disseminating knowledge, but I do worry how to insure and protect quality. Perhaps the proof is in the pudding, after all, and I shall eat some of it and see for myself.

Should I be signing this? There really should be more cues to users. I can help out with this in my spare time, perhaps. Let me know if you need a hand. Also, there are usability problems on the login page, too. A person wanting to create an account clicks the button, and then nothing happens. Only gradually does it dawn on the user that she's supposed to fill in the fields on that page, even though the fields do not indicate they are to be used by people wanting to create an account. Peace.

Yes, we need a hand. Please do contribute what you know and/or are willing to learn. I'm sorry the place was confusing to you at first. I think us old hands forget what it is like to be a newcomer and so the instructional pages aren't as good as they could be. You are certainly not the first to worry about accuracy, and we do have problems with it sometimes. However 99% or more of Wikipedia want it to succeed and only add good 'stuff'. Rest assured, there are lots of users, so it is very likely indeed that any additions you make will be read by one or more people, and corrected if necessary. There is a real feeling that the 'pedia is getting better month by month and if it continues surely one day we'll have a very good free encyclopedia. I agree with you that the log in page is spartan. Unfortunately that is one of the few pages that cannot be changed by just anyone. I'll make sure the right people know about the usability problems you had. Please feel free to ask me more questions at User_talk:Pcb21 by clicking that link and then clicking Edit This Page. Finally yes please do sign your comments on 'talk' (but not on encyclopedia pages). You can do this automatically by typing ~~~~ at the end of your comments.

Trustworthiness of Wikipedia?[edit]


I have been having a debate with a colleague about wikipedia. My colleague is claiming that because anyone with internet access can update wikipedia he would not trust the information shown here. How can I allay his concerns other than by assuring him that there are far more people updating wikipedia with correct information than there are people vandalizing wikpedia?

davidzuccaro 06:37, 7 Apr 2004 (UTC)

It may help to point your colleage to Wikipedia:Replies. Dysprosia 06:39, 7 Apr 2004 (UTC)
According to a recent Wall street Journal article: Recent research by a team from IBM found that most vandalism suffered by Wikipedia had been repaired within five minutes. That's fast: "We were surprised at how often we found vandalism, and then surprised again at how fast it was fixed," says Martin Wattenberg, a researcher in the IBM TJ Watson Research Centre, in Cambridge, Mass. ( →Raul654 06:40, Apr 7, 2004 (UTC)
PS - just to add a personal observation - it's a *LOT* faster for admins to revert a vandal's changes than it is for the vandal to make them. →Raul654 06:43, Apr 7, 2004 (UTC)
You could make the argument that bias exists in an inverse proportion to the number of editors and Wikipedia has a hundred times more editors than a typical paper encylopedia.MK 06:46, 7 Apr 2004 (UTC)
By making him read Cathedral and the Bazaar :) Seriouly, Wikipedia is akin to a best-effort process, and you can never have a guarantee that what you get here is accurate or authoritative. But, from personal experience, I have found that when you are willing to compromise on the "absolutely factual" gurantee - you get more information here, more easily than anywhere else on the planet. So, the simplest way to convince anybody is to try and make him read materials on his favourite topic elsewhere and compare it with what he gets here. You can also try and ask him to pinpoint instances of vandalism, that have gone unnoticed, for say a minimum period of a month. From personal experience again, I can tell you - at least in topics of mass interest, vandalisms and nonsense rarely stand for more than a month -(I am stetching the limit here. The average is somewher around 12 hours to one day). Good luck Chancemill 06:47, Apr 7, 2004 (UTC)
(As the IBM study I cited above would suggest), the median is probably on the order of 5 minutes, and (I'd imagine) the average probably isn't even an hour. Remember, for every vandalism that lasts a month, there's (literally) thousands that get reverted seconds later. →Raul654 07:00, Apr 7, 2004 (UTC)
By comparison, I was browsing my 1984 hardcover edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica last night and found some info that I believe has since been disproved. So one could argue that Wikipedia, with its instantaneous update when new information is found, might be more accurate than traditionally "reliable" sources. Elf | Talk 15:40, 7 Apr 2004 (UTC)
I have found by experience that you need to review the recent history of a Wikipedia article before you can judge the trustworthiness of that article's content at the present moment. Look for recent revert-wars and compare current content with the content from a month ago to see if any vandalism has been introduced into the article. - Bevo 14:54, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Later this month, NASA will, at the cost of $700,000,000, conduct a test in space that will defintively either prove or disprove Einstein's theory of relativity. What other encyclopedia will he have to turn to about this? - Woodrow 19:53, 7 Apr 2004 (UTC)
What will really set Wikipedia apart from other encyclopedias is if Relativity is shown to be a flawed theory. The implications of that on other articles' content should prove interesting in the Wikipedia. Of course, at any time we might have verifiable SETI data and that also would ripple through the Wikipedia differently than other forms of an encyclopedia. - Bevo 14:54, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)
How can you trust any information from anywhere? Read something you know about, and see how accurate it seems. pstudier 22:24, 2004 Apr 7 (UTC)
Interestingly, though, this approach is less valuable for Wikipedia and similar projects than it would be for, say, a text encyclopedia, since the underlying assumption is that the same editors and/or editorial standards are consistently applied throughout. Experienced Wikipedia participants know, almost instinctively, that some articles have more veracity than others (often in inverse proportion to controversiality); newcomers do not have the benefit of this knowledge. Jgm 14:04, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC)
As with any research, the way to get authoritative information is not to trust one particular source, but to use many diverse sources. For more casual searching for information, Wikipedia is a great place to start. Nroose 06:07, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Does anyone still read all of Recent Changes?[edit]

Does anyone still read all of Recent Changes? It seems like now most of the more substantial vandalism catching (at least of small time vandals) occurs due to watchlists. Unfortunately there is no way of finding non-watchlist changes, so vandalism slips through the cracks, like this May 2 edit that was not corrected until June 3. I think the fact that this was not found for a month is pretty good evidence that vandalism is staying in Wikipedia embarissingly long. Jrincayc 01:58, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)

One argument is that the pages that nobody watches are the pages readers are less likely to care about. This doesn't mean that they shouldn't be fixed, but that a delay in fixing them is relatively acceptable. Moreover, a savvy reader can always view legitimate versions in the page history, although making this more user-friendly would be helpful. As for the question of who reads all of Recent Changes, the answer is that no one ever did; the important thing is that we collectively give it a fairly good scouring, and many people are busy making other important contributions. Deco 04:27, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I believe that people did read all of Recent Changes back when this article was first written circa Jun 2001 (after the k5 article). Back then, there were at most 1000 changes in a month (compared to now when it is 300,000). It was possible to do at that point in time. I am asking for comment on improved pages at Wikipedia:Village Pump#Recent Changes no longer enough and User:Pcb21 is asking for brainstorming at User:Pcb21/Checked edits. Jrincayc 16:28, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)

From Wikipedia:Village Pump:

Recent Changes no longer enough[edit]

I was reading through Wikipedia:replies and noticed that the primary method it seems to think that exists to keep out vandalism is Recent Changes. That may have been true when Wikipedia was first started, but now there are around 300,000 edits a month. That works out to around 7 edits a minute, giving our intrepid RC watcher less than 9 seconds to examine each edit, assuming that they work night and day. Not likely. The problem is that some vandalism slips by, for example, this May 2 edit, that was not fixed until June 3, after getting noticed by a Virgina Pilot news reporter, who wrote about it in the paper (see Wikipedia:Press coverage). I am certain that there are other vandalism that occurs and is missed in recent changes (I certainly have found more in the past year in my watchlists than I used to). So, in conclusion, recent changes can no longer be regarded as a reliable method to find vandalism.

I would like to propose two possible ways to improve finding vandalism (and feel free to discuss more). First of all, watchlists are probably finding the majority of vandalism now adays. But, not all articles are being watched. However, right now, there is no way to find the changes that are not being seen in somebodies watchlist. I propose that first of all, there should be a "info" link from each article. It could list the number of people (but not who is watching it) who have it on their watchlist, and also break it down by the last login time (#logined-in in the past day, week, month). As well, there needs to be a way to find non-watched changes. I would suggest that Recent Changes should have a utility to find changes that are not in any "active" editor's watchlist. For example, the utility could give a list of changes that are not in any watchlist of anyone who has viewed their watchlist in the past two days. This would give edits that are less likely to be found by another editor a higher chance of being looked at.

My second proposal is that edits should be able to be commented on. I would propose that each edit has a dropdown like Approve, Neutral, Needs Work, Disapprove and also a little summary field to add a text comment. Each logged in user of wikipedia could then add comments to any edit made by any user. Then, the recent changes page could have a utilitiy to find edits that have been commented on by less than N users. As well, in the history page, there should be a link to all the comments for each edit. This effectively makes sure that there is less duplication of looking at recent changes, and allows more edits to be thouroghly reviewed.

Wikipedia is being used more and more as a reference. It is being seen by more and more people. Some of them are finding too many errors and vandalism. Wikipedia needs more powerful ways of finding vandalism and errors, if we wish to truthfully reply to our critics. Jrincayc 02:43, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I tend to agree that something needs to be done. I've been meaning to raise my concern that the increased churn in Recent Changes has also affected the number of new pages being reviewed. Based on my overall impression after many hours of New Pages Patrol (which seems to be done by many fewer people than RC patrol), plus a more rigorous review of 100 new pages from a list I loaded 4 days earlier, I would estimate that at least 1/4 to 1/3 of new pages go in without any review by an experienced Wikipedian. I had thot that just having more people doing new pages patrol would be enuf, but now I'm not sure. Niteowlneils 04:08, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Perhaps Wikipedia could modify its script to allow only new pages to show up in the recent changes, or, even better, move this functionality to a new but similar page (perhaps called "Recently Created Pages"). [[User:Poccil|Poccil (Talk)]] 05:12, Jul 5, 2004 (UTC)
You mean like Special:Newpages? -- Cyrius| 05:34, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I would like to see this Special:Newpages page in the navigation bar! I didn't know it existed, and I think I am not the only one in this situation! --Alexandre 20:55, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)
It is on Special:Specialpages however i agree with you on the point that it should be more visible.
About that Chesapeake, Virginia article, i think one way to defend against this is to actually have real articles, not pointless crap made by bots. The way we defend against such things is that it shows up on alot of watchlists. so that article is not a fair example. --Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 20:34, 2004 Jul 6 (UTC)
My feeling is that more vandalism/poor editing slips through when the wiki is slooow. RC or New Pages patrol is much harder when you have timeouts etc, and I guess I am not alone in giving up trying when that is the case. However creation of a long but poor new page is affected much less by slowness. Happily we are getting dramatically better speeds at the moment, so we can get back on our game a bit.
However RC watching will have to change. As I've said before we now really need some mechanism by which edits can be marked as "checked". This would result in a massive increase in RC-watch productivity as duplication would be dramatically reduced. Anyone fancy joining me in getting a bounty together to offer to a developer to create this feature? Pcb21| Pete
I feel as if I'm out of touch with the editors on en these days. Wikipedia is a different place now to when I got most of my editing experience. I have trouble working out what people think are the most important features. So I have decided to run a poll: User:Tim Starling/Feature poll. I'm interested in overall directions for MediaWiki development, rather than specific features, at the current time. But your comments and feature suggestions would also be welcome, on that page or elsewhere. -- Tim Starling 08:53, Jul 5, 2004 (UTC)
I agree there needs to be some mechanism by which edits can be marked as checked. I think that it needs to have some way to add a comment as to why the edit is being checked or reject, otherwise we have just created a new way to bite the newcomers since it is incredibly frustrating to have an edit rejected without a reason given. It also should have a way to say good edit, needs more work (like spelling, grammar etc.) What where you thinking in the way of a bounty? Jrincayc 13:14, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I can't spend any more time on Wikipedia than I already do, there are no more hours left in the week. I already work on it solidly through the weekend, and some weeknights too. I'm not setting a price for my work but I do accept donations via paypal, see my user page. -- Tim Starling 01:36, Jul 6, 2004 (UTC)
Know what I do? I just set the Recent Changes page to hide logged in users. Most vandalism comes from anonymous users. Usually if it comes from logged in ones, the chances of detection are higher because logged in users are more likely to get involved with the community; I think most vandalism from logged in users comes from users involved in edit wars (though I could be wrong). So, I monitor recent changes made by anons only, which makes tracking down vandalism a lot more easier. I'd like to see a way to also view edits of logged in users who have less than a hundred edits to their name, though. Johnleemk | Talk 15:11, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)
What do you think the "hide logged in users" link does?
Below are the last 50 changes in the last 3 days.
Show last 50 | 100 | 250 | 500 changes in last 1 | 3 | 7 | 14 | 30 days
hide minor edits | show bots | hide logged in users
Show new changes starting from 01:25, Jul 6, 2004
After I implemented it, people told me that it wasn't as useful as they thought it would be, since it doesn't show which edits have already been reverted, corrected or checked. As for users with less than 100 edits, well you could try Special:Contributions/newbies. I don't think these simple ad-hoc features are sufficient. -- Tim Starling 01:36, Jul 6, 2004 (UTC)
There is brainstorming going on at Wikipedia:Checked edits brainstorming on how to do the checked edits. Jrincayc 16:23, 5 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Maybe Recent changes should be broken up by catagories, so that someone can look at only changes in some catagory and the subcatagories of that catagory. Jrincayc 19:39, 11 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Some brainstorming...[edit]

First off, I want to say that I discoverd wikipedia yesterday and am ecstatic over it. I think the principals of "community cooperation" found within wikipedia, open-source software, creative commons and everything GNU are going to revolutionize the future in a HUGE way and will save all of us from ourselves....

But anyway, a couple of quick questions popped in my head about wikipedia that I couldn't really find an answer to:

1) As we've all seen in history (and no I can't really find a good example), it has been possible for a large group of people to, over a period of time, slowly believe something as true which very well may not be. Now I understand that fact is fact is fact. And I got the vibe that things like religion and such are explained in a very unbiased manner, as they should be. But my only concern is that I feel it IS possible for an entire population to believe something as true that isn't if its very slowly introduced to them. Like a very slow public "numbing to truth brought on by thier ability to believe whatever they read." Now I can't even begin to think of a scenario where that might happen, even if it's possible. But I just wanted to throw that out there.

That's an interesting point. Are you saying that, given enough time, Wikipedia might develop its own set of myths that it will defend against reasonable argument? I hope that doesn't happen, but it's a possibility. -- Heron 08:33, 29 Jul 2004 (UTC)
There's been some discussion about whether this might already be happening with the issue of Vampire watermelons. --ALargeElk | Talk 08:54, 29 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I checked that article out and can't see how its "bending truth" or creating myths (maybe I've fallen victim to exactly that condition which I introduced, who woulda thunk it). The first line even says its a myth. The only way I can see a problem with it is if the actual existence of that particular myth is in dispute. If so, could another example of this potential problem be if someone decided to add thier little two cents to history and really just create it on the spot? Maybe they talk about a small tribe in Norway around 200 A.D.that was the 3rd tribe to create fire in that region. Chances are, no one is going to really care about that fact enough to really challenge it. So those reading take it to be true. It's basically the adding of pointless, possibly untrue, and definetly undisputed facts. (not registered yet) -- 07:34, 30 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Vandalism such as that will most commonly be done by anon. IPs, and most of the time, there are people checking anon. IPs' edits as they happen, or at least have the pages on their Watchlist, so they see the anon. IP edit next time they log on. If it is done by a registered user, it might be a little tougher to catch, but watchlists help protect still. Ideally, every wikipedian should add all the articles they create to their watchlist, so that every article is monitored by at least someone. siroχo 11:35, Jul 30, 2004 (UTC)
Ideally, Wikipedia is meant to be an encyclopedia. Perhaps it will become (is?) the broadest and most detailed encyclopedia, but it should still be an encyclopedia. Meaning newspaper articles, books, letters, and journals will probably always contain more detailed specific, and true information than Wikipedia. If we have a dedicated army of wikipedians checky facts that seem off, this creation of myth will hopefully be uncommon. siroχo 09:11, Jul 29, 2004 (UTC)

2.)Advertising. What if someone writes up a pizza page and explains how to make it and such, then talk about history and blah blah blah. Then at the end put a Eventually someone will take it off because it's biased and advertising. Pretty simple. But what if everyone likes dominos? (just using it as an example, replace dominos with anything widely excepted). Then that opens up a way for people to advertise. Again, I can't really see that happening because there is nothing that everyone agrees on, even God, or god, or gods or allah or no god or aliens or etc,.

I'm just trying to find ways to scrutinize the system because I like it so much. I'M TRYING TO FIND FAULT AND CAN'T. By its very design, it WILL become the most in-depth, complete, and unbiased source of information on the planet. Good job guys.

You are of course preaching to the converted, so we certainly agree with your final point. :) As an example of (2), Dominos is indeed listed in the Pizza article, which links to its own article and only in there is a Web link. But it is sufficiently removed from the general pizza page such that it cannot be construed as gratuitous advertising for that company. This is the convention that has evolved, and has become quite accepted in the community. It balances the goals of expressing what is commonly accepted as "the truth" and resisting commercial tendencies. Fuzheado | Talk 07:51, 29 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Blantant advertising is consistently removed by users. If User:A wrote an article on how to make pizza and then only added a link to Dominos, it is likely User:B would come along and delete just the link to Dominos, not the whole article (assuming the article was of good quality). Blatant advertising does happen here, but editors (like you) are pretty swift to delete it. Frecklefoot | Talk 15:31, Jul 29, 2004 (UTC)

Copying Wikipedia Pages[edit]

Am I right in thinking that I could charge people to view a copy of a Wikipedia page (if I told them that it is under the GNU Public Liscence and it is available for free here) if I wanted to. Trying to get my head round the legal text of the liscence has confused me, so please could you clarify. (P.S. If this is in the wrong place please move it.) --βjweþþ (talk) 15:54, 31 July 2005 (UTC)


I noticed that pretty much the entire article is listed twice, though in an oddly staggered way:

1 Letting arbitrary Internet users edit any article at will is absurd
2 Letting arbitrary Internet users edit any article at will is absurd
3 Wikipedia can never be high quality
4 Scalability
5 Miscellaneous concerns
6 See also
7 Wikipedia can never be high quality
8 Scalability
9 Miscellaneous concerns
10 See Also

Notice that Scalability, et cetera...every single duplicated.

I would cut it up myself, but there's a slight chance this isn't a weird mistake, but has a purpose, so I'm asking first... Kaz 23:10, 7 Jan 2005 (UTC)


This needs to be addressed. I'm new here, so I don't know if there are new servers in the works or something, but I get a lot of MySQL errors and slow pages sometimes. Right now, there's just an accusation with no response. That's bad. Dave 23:58, Mar 20, 2005 (UTC)


From the project page:

I am afraid you have some similarities with Communism or the Left.

Now this will start a flamewar and make everybody hate me, but where does it say that Communism must be hated by everyone everywhere? Where can I find an official, universal, non-disputed standard on which political system is better than which?
I am not advocating Communism myself, but seeing Communism as inherently evil rather than personally disliking it sounds wrong. JIP | Talk 10:25, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)

  • Even if Wikipedia does have similarities to communism, that doesn't stop people reading it. How should any such similarities affect the validity of WP?

I think I heard that Microsoft was spreading similar claptrap as part of their FUD campaign against open source software, with an obvious vested interest. In one sense they're right: the Left tend to place values of community above individuality, and to some extent so do open source projects or Wikipedia. However, recognizing individual authors while distributing their work free of charge implies a balance between individual glory and the common good.

More to the point, as a Libertarian, my biggest objection against state socialism and by extension Communism isn't its stated goals, but the loss of freedom when individuals may not decide to opt out. That's not relevant to solving social ills through charity, for example, and it's plainly not relevant to Wikipedia either. Everyone who contributes is here volutarily. AFAIK no goverment on the planet has yet used force to compel contributions to Wikipedia. Therefore the negative comparisons are spurious. -- PhilipR 14:29, 17 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Incorrect titles a common objection?[edit]

I move that the section on incorrect titles be removed. I removed it once already but it was restored. I believe personally that this is not a common objection, especially among our readers. Is this page for our readers, or for zealot Wikipedians looking to draw attention to particular issues they care about? Next we'll be adding a section entitled "The administrators are a cabal!". Could I get an informal vote on this? Deco 04:42, 17 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I'm the one who added the question, because I feel it is one of the things about Wikipedia that make it look unprofessional. Spelling EBay, PH or MIRC instead of eBay, pH or mIRC looks really bad. I believe it is a a very valid objection and a relatively common problem. I did not write the reply to the question. I only added the objection itself in hopes somebody would write a good reply.--Sonjaaa 01:15, Apr 18, 2005 (UTC)
Okay, I'm sorry — I would also like to see this fixed. Deco 01:31, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)

"Shortage of intellectuals" section[edit]

"To some extent, that's a good thing. Academics are adept at writing for other academics, but an encyclopedia needs to be accessible to everyone. We're breaking the hold of academia upon reference works! Huzzah!"

I'm not an academic, but I still think this claim is ridiculous and makes this page look rather amateurish. Academic can write for the general public clearly and comprehensibly, in books, newspapers, speaking on news programs, and for encyclopaedias for that matter. To bundle all academics into one stereotyped, untrue category is just silly. What is this section should emphasise is that many wikipedians are skilled in both writing skills and knowledge, not the absurd claim it makes at the moment. Deus Ex 23:23, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)

To some extent you're right — many academics are excellent at explaining things well (that's how they get to be teachers after all). On the other hand, there are people who possess great knowledge but write poorly (not just academics), and the ability of that person to contribute and have their writing cleaned up by good writers is one of the benefits of Wikipedia. Overall I agree with this change though. Deco 23:27, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Proposal to ban intellectuals[edit]

There is a proposal to ban intellectuals from contributing to articles in the Wikepedia for areas in which they have published. See [2]

Interesting example[edit]

I thought I understood Gödel's incompleteness theorem pretty well, and since the then-existing article was short and incomplete, I decided to rewrite it. Since then, several people have chipped in, sometimes rewriting a paragraph, sometimes criticizing an omission, sometimes deleting parts. I didn't agree with all changes, but with most of them. No material is ever lost since Wikipedia stores all previous versions of all articles. So I reverted a few changes back. Overall, the article is now much better than I could ever have written it alone.

Surely this article is doomed to be forever incomplete?

Visit count[edit]

While the figure of 10,000 people per day is many years out of date, the figure of 2,000,000 people per month (about 50,000 per day) seems to have been pulled out of the air. The linked source doesn't justify it (it lists 6 million visits for July, and surely more than 1/3 of them came from Google). What is the real figure? Deco 00:43, 17 July 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia derives 66% of all traffic from search engines, and 50% of that traffic comes solely from Google. --Alterego 01:00, July 17, 2005 (UTC)
I find that surprising. Reference? Deco 21:20, 17 July 2005 (UTC)

Comments by (moved here from article)[edit]

I've moved some comments made by, from the article to here.

  • At the bottom of the "Partisans" section the anon wrote:
Wikipedia has a "fairly, decent, balanced" articles about capitalism? That's your idea of a joke, right?
  • At the bottom of the "Departures" section the anon wrote:
This explanation expresses alot of insensitivity to a real problem. When so many wikipedians are lost to the project because their views are marginalized, it means there is a systemic bias of a particular narrow range of views that is becoming solidified over time. When those dominant views do not reflect the diversity in the public at large it has very serious implications for the encyclopedia's claims of "balance.".
  • At the bottom of the "Communism" section the anon wrote:
Wikipedia is not "like a free market": the frameworks set for entries and the content included is often not a product of a free competition where the the best value wins rather what gets included is a result of "gang dominance" as like-minded editors collude with one other in the waging of edit and revert wars.

These edits represent objections to the replies, and as such were obviously inappropriately added. However I think they do constitute the germ of a serious objection, which probably deserves a better formulation and reply. Paul August 17:35, July 24, 2005 (UTC)

I rewrote the Communism reply. -- Beland 04:48, 9 August 2005 (UTC)

I was drawn to this page from the slashdot reference (I didn't look at their comments) and there are some serious problems with wikipedia including:

1) over reliance on academic published sources. The corollary is that if something does not appear in the academic press, it doesn't exist. There are two main problems with this:

a) in some areas of academia, there is an effort to maintain an orthodoxy of teaching. In this effort, editors are strongly urged, if they needed it, to practice censorship to maintain the orthodoxy. For example, members of the National Academy of Science have publicly stated that it is their goal that no criticism of evolution by someone who supports Intelligent design, nor even any article by a creationist even if it has nothing to do with either creationism, intelligent design or evolution, will be published in a peer reviewed journal. As a result, creationists who have made legitimate scientific discoveries not related even remotely to the question of origins have found it difficult to impossible to get published. Opposing the consensus can also lead to job loss, so some of what gets published is actually dishonest.

b) as a corollary, if such research is published, it will be in the "non-academic" press, which academics will disdain as not "peer reviewed". Such is the reaction to David Rohl's disagreement with Kenneth Kitchen in Egyptology studies, which I, as a neutral observer, see as having some merits. A discussion on a related research site noted that the supporters of Kenneth Kitchen have such a lock on the field that anyone who dares challenge Kenneth Kitchen in a major way is automatically a nobody who cannot get published in "peer reviewed" journals.

2) I think the "no original research" can be carried too far. There was one article that was removed because the "research" that was carried out by the author for wikipedia was in translating the turgid academic prose of the major academic treatment of the subject into simplified terms that others could understand, or at least he hoped they could understand, and in presenting examples of that subject in practice. But mere translation of the subject into simpler terms and adding examples showing it was considered "original research" and the article was deleted.

An example showing both examples combined, one article I read had a simple error concerning Hebrew language use in the Bible. Now I am an internationally known scholar in Biblical Hebrew language, so I recognized the error immediately, but the nature of the error is so simple that a first year student of the language can recognize it. Because of certain scholarly traditions, that error has been widely published in the academic press, professors feeding on the publications of others, so I met great resistance when I wrote "Go look for yourselves, that is a factual error!" and my edits were removed. I had done a double error in the eyes of wikipedia editors: that of contradicting academic consensus and original research. Finally one of the main editors of the page did look at the data, not the academic press, and agreed that the academic consensus contains a factual error.

3) wanting to appear intellectual. For example, the article on scientific method discusses all sorts of philosophizing about scientific method, but the one thing missing is the method as used by scientists themselves and described in their textbooks. The most in-depth discussion of the many that I read of scientific method was in the textbook by Dr. George Gaylord Simpson called "Life, an introduction to biology", yet nowhere in the wikipedia article was there anything that even resembles that definition. That article would be better renamed "philosophy concerning the scientific method" and replace with one merely quoting Dr. Simpson and/or other scientists.

4) lack of balance. A truly NPOV article would include both sides of a controversial subject, and who supports each side. Instead, there is often only one side presented. This mirrors the academic imbalance alluded to in point 1)a) above. For example, I don't listen to talk radio except seldom, yet when I did I noticed that the hosts and call-in guests considered fascism as a left wing socialism almost identical to Marxist Leninism. Further their comments on internet websites mirror that sentiment. But the article on right wing politics reflects instead the academic consensus that fascism is right wing. That article is not NPOV in that it has only one side.

In closing this rant, I like the idea of wikipedia. I would like to see it work. I looked back at a few articles that I edited years ago and notice that many of my edits have stuck, i.e. they are still there even years later. But I left because of "a result of "gang dominance" as like-minded editors collude with one other in the waging of edit and revert wars" just wore me out.

Mixing ignorance and knowledge - new research?[edit]

In Mixing ignorance and knowledge, the example beginning "Second, there is a problem with the concept of peer review in general" seems inappropriate. It discusses how Peer Review is flawed (new stuff gets refused) but this comparison is not relavent because wikipedia shares that 'flaw' TomCerul 16:05, 10 August 2005 (UTC)

Ouch. It's terrible that this criticism has sat for two years. I agree entirely, and can't bring myself to feel good about wikipedia again after the heartwrenching and pointless murder of history its editors seemed to gleefully participate in. Watching poignant topics slashed and deleted for no apparent reason (or worse : poor reasons) while the yardage of Battlestar Galactica piles up minutely - hard to stomach. As long as the hubris of wikifolks rides free, wikipedia will remain a toy for TV geeks. Inappropriately territorial will to ignore criticism, vilify critics, and insist on preferential treatment of non-information over actual information (IE disapproving stance toward "trivia" shamelessly parading alongside six zillion words about television drama) seems only to worsen with time. The "encyclopedia's" contents are destroyed by needlessly strict interpretation of standards that aren't possible to meet in all cases (events / history not covered in mainstream media nor eulogized on TV, for instance) while the wiki-TV guide is treated as sacrosanct. In that this is inarguable, I can't help but find the self-satisfaction of wikipedia's editors not only confusing in its baselessness, but irritating in its hypocrisy. Editors: make it worthwhile - *then* put on airs. Freign (talk) 17:28, 10 December 2007 (UTC)


Wiki? Naw. Libpedia? Definitely. Facts are not important here, only left wing propanganda, half baked scientific theories, and anti-capitalist hate speech.

And, if you try to fix anything, it gets reverted by some moonbat communist.

Iron sharpens iron; continuous participation can rapidly increase one's abilities[edit]

One thing I've noticed after heavy participation in editing stubs and developing whole new articles: I'm getting better and better at it, picking up new skills, and improving existing skills as a writer, editor, and researcher.

  • Using Google to harvest more and more data
  • Citing sources
  • Structuring an article, and mapping out aspects to write about
  • Broadening the reach of an article to include aspects I've never thought of
  • Learning to ask questions others may ask
  • Recognizing common mistakes and pitfalls, fixing them, or avoiding them altogether
  • Anticipating criticism and writing to avoid it
  • Prioritizing information and learning to recognize when enough is enough

This place is a lot of fun, and it never ceases to amaze me how the most arcane knowledge seems to come to mind when reading an article, and how one can never guess which article may present an enjoyable challenge.

As individual Wikipedians make the effort to push their skills to a higher level, this site will become a home for more and more writers researchers, and editors with ever-advancing skills.

But this still does not justify allowing editing from any anonymous source[edit]

I love Wikipedia and have made quite a few edit contributions that have stuck, so I like to think I am a positive asset to Wikipedia. But I am spending too much time reverting vandalism.

Why is it that Wikipedia allows anonymous (from mere IP addresses) editing of the articles? This is just dumb and we're literally begging for vandals to come and mess it up. I want to assume good faith of other contributors but if there is no discrimination at all at the gate, the barbarians just walk in. That makes it harder to do business inside the city walls (which we don't have time for) and, eventually, we will not be able to do business at all. This is what John C. Dvorak is predicting at Wikipedia:Criticisms#John_C._Dvorak. The standard Replies to common objections is not dealing with this modest restriction at all. It is just not cutting it and too many person-hours have been spent editing Wiklipedia to allow this valuable web resource to be destroyed or become meaningless because of some zealous adherence to some notion of egalitarianism that is more than necessary to be egalitarian. Egalitarianism is not anarchy nor is it dependent on anonymity.

You should require every editor to Login and when they first create an identity, they should have to verify by responding to an email generated from Wikipedia (so we know their email address is real, and some domains can be nixed). They should have to identify themselves, at least to the administrators. And whenever they login, there should be a record of IP addresses that the logged in user comes from so that if vandalism is done from the same IP (but a different login name), we might have an idea of who to contact.

You guys have to fix this! It will not be long that sophisticated vandals will automate what they do and use multiple IP addresses to do it. And then Wikipedia will become useless. What a waste! r b-j 23:08, 20 September 2005 (UTC)

It's possible that someone who would otherwise have added something good to an article wouldn't if they had to log in. I don't think restricting anonymous edits would make a huge difference in the outcome of anything though.--Ssj4android 03:55, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
I strongly agree with your proposal. It would also help tremendously in curbing the abuse that afflicts many users who attempt to constructively author and edit articles for the Wikipedia. However, for historical reasons it will be very difficult for the adminstrators of the Wikipedia to make this reform.--Pseudo Socrates 06:17, 11 October 2005 (UTC)
I also strongly agree with the thesis. While there are situations, venues, and circumstances were pure anonymity is desireable, and sometimes necessary, I'm hard pressed at the moment to name such that may obtain in editing wikipedia. In my brief tenure here, all patently obvious vandalism has been committed 'by' IP addresses, totally anonymously. It makes little sense. For example, i recently reported repeat vandalism by [these folks]. There's a long and ignominious history of vandalism from that location; clearly, it's a sport for the kids there. If each editor were required to identify and verify themselves, there'd be a *tiny* bit of accountability. certainly, bogus information could always be submitted. but it adds at least a small buffer to the process, which may help. At worst - it has no effect. Anastrophe 05:59, 4 November 2005 (UTC)

external links aren't used by search engines?[edit]

Someone added this to the bots section:

Wikipedia's external links are programmed to use a specific format to tell search engines not to use them for the purpose of increasing the popularity of the target. This makes Wikipedia an unattractive target for external link spam as links here will not contribute to page ranking of target sites.

Is this true? And if so, could someone please include a reference link in the article? I couldn't find anything about it after a quick search on WP and Google (only the "index,follow" robots bit in the html source). If not, I'll remove it in a little while. --Codemonkey 16:24, 7 October 2005 (UTC)

Removed it for now. Couldn't find any reference for it. If you can, please include it and feel free to add this back. --Codemonkey 17:07, 7 October 2005 (UTC)
It is true for the non-English wikis, but has been turned off here, see Wikipedia:Nofollow. — Catherine\talk 09:50, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

Removed from article[edit]

The following paragraph was removed by me from the article

  1. Note that encyclopedias articles are not a good example of peer reviewed material Scientific Journals are; they focus on one area of expertise, and are governed by the top minds in that area. In order to be published, one's work must pass a rigorous screening that usually precludes the need for constant error fixing that plagues Wikipedia. Additionally, these journals do post corrections when merited. One would not use a bridge built by Wikipedia specifications, but specifications given in an Engineering Journal can be trustworthy.

It was in a silly place, and I'm not sure it belongs at all. If you feel it is worthwhile, copyedit it and add it someplace appropriate. Thanks MosheZadka 16:51, 7 October 2005 (UTC)


This section is highly POV and has a highly positive POV of capitalism and a highly negative POV of Communism. If Communism is referred to something like "Soviet-style Communism" that would be better. But the parts that praise capitalism have got to go. It would be best to not respond to this "criticism" anyway; as there is no "economy" of Wikipedia, it is disastrous to try and bring up any comparisons to real-life economic systems. --Revolución (talk) 18:56, 23 December 2005 (UTC)

Well, as long as you keep it there... Just remember, there are several answers in different POVs because the question in itself can have a wide range of POVs. Selecting one of the answers would probably bring up an edit war. And they're all true in some way, though I agree some clarification would be helpful. Why don't you bring up that "Soviet-style Communism" problem somewhere there? (But please, no more than two lines. There's an article that (ideally) clarifies that better than it should here.) - Ekevu (talk) 19:30, 23 December 2005 (UTC)

Topics from 2006-2008[edit]

Bit rot[edit]

From the article as of 14:53, 13 January 2006 (UTC):

Additionally, it's important to note that both personal and organizational pages on the Web become out of date (so-called 'bit rot').

Hm... The bit rot article only talks about software malfunction and nothing about published content. Is the bit rot article incomplete or has a wrong term been used? Ekevu 14:53, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps link rot was meant? _R_ 22:52, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
link rot seems more likely. --Siva1979Talk to me 20:50, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

Strong POV against other encyclopaedias[edit]

This page seems to have a strong POV against other encyclopaedias like Brittanica and Encarta. I think we are undermining ourselves by trying to downsize our competitors, an example of systemic bias? Loom91 14:14, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

Agreed. The strong sense of POV here is an example of systemic bias which should be strongly discouraged. Remember, encyclopedias such as Brittanica and Encarta play an important role in educating humanity as well. Moreover, these encyclopedias contain less factual errors than Wikipedia presently. --Siva1979Talk to me 20:48, 9 June 2006 (UTC)
Wikipedia is better then other encyclopedias! But still, NPOV would be good here. Mathiastck 16:29, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

Information overload[edit]

Yes, Wikipedia does causes it. It gives way too much info, compared to other encyclopedias. And not all people are knowledge-freaks, that need every little detail. Wikipedian articles are full of too much details. As of 2006, I decided to stop reading Wikipedia, because it caused me a real Information overload. I didn't need to know all this info for my favorite cars, for example. The Ford Fiesta article gives too much info to me. Yes, I prefer being ignorant towards cars, media, music and art. Should I know the biography of Britney Spears to live a good life? No! Because, years ago, when I didn't even knew the name of the president of my country, I was happier. Too much info is not for me, I'll be ignorant again. Stanton BG 12:18, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

The better articles have a one page paragraph at the top, that provides a neat little summary. For awhile I was only reading those, before moving on to to the next article. Most of the articles I read I read so as to help understand a different article. The first paragraph should serve that purpose. Mathiastck 16:31, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

Deterioration not mentioned[edit]

I agree that articles get better, UP TO A POINT. Then they seem to dwindle down in quality as things become unsourced, and the editors move on to different places? This is why I stopped contributing to wikipedia. There's never a finished product. Wikipedia is infotainment, and an interesting experiment in democracy. But no matter what amazing product it creates, that product will deteriorate. The more editors there are, the faster wikipedia articles will improve UP TO A POINT. Then they'll deteriorate faster than before with more users to make retarded edits on subjects they know very little about. Does anyone have any serious response to this problem of deterioration?-- 20:44, 19 December 2006 (UTC)

Isn't this page NPOV?[edit]

Why does this page offer only responses to criticisms? It seems to serve as a type of telemarketer's script to help the salesmen know what to say when valid objections are offered. KillerAsteroids 05:34, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

  • This is not an article but explanation of Wikipedia processes and responses to criticism. As for you, you apparently only have one specific incident to insert everywhere - Skysmith 08:40, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

Shouldn't this page have something that indicates what it is[edit]

Although the content is self-explanatory, I feel like there should be something here that explains its purpose. Croctotheface 00:16, 30 May 2007 (UTC)

Under the Gun[edit]

I changed that phrase to under control. I am not sure that's best, but really, under the gun? We don't have guns, and we don't keep people under guns, do we?

What's the purpose of this article?[edit]

It describes Wikipedia as it ideally should exist, not as it actually does exist. It's so divorced from my day-to-day experience that I have trouble taking it seriously. Raymond Arritt 13:17, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

No article? Not one? Also: communism[edit]

>No article on Wikipedia has been written by a single contributor

Not one? Really?

Also, we're getting way out of the scope of this article with the two POVs (one was just added today) that try to explain what communism is or isn't. People have strong, and sometimes irrational, feelings about politics (and sex, and religion, etc), and all you accomplish by gratuitously inserting those into the conversation is to lose the people who are offended, without enlightening the others, IMO. - Dan Dank55 (talk) 05:03, 22 March 2008 (UTC)


Dcoetzee just deleted the word "altruism". He/she referred to Schroer & Hertel (without a cite ... not sure which work was meant, but it was probably something in the nature of I just want to point out that "altruism" means something different to evolutionary psychologists and economists than it does to the typical reader, and according to their understanding, altruism may very well play a central role in Wikipedia. I'm pretty tied up with article reviewing and work on style guidelines, but I will be happy to help if anyone wants to explore this. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 17:50, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Topics from 2009-2013[edit]

Retrofit talk-page year headers/subpages[edit]

13-Feb-2009: I have added subheaders above as "Topics from 2003" (etc.) to emphasize the dates of topics in the talk-page. Older topics might still apply, but using the year headers helps to focus on more current issues as well. Afterward, I dated/named unsigned comments and moved 4 entries (including "Early topics" & "Removed no-preventing" & "A So-so bit of text") into date order for 2001-2004. What a nightmare.
Then I added the "Talk-page subpages" box beside the TOC. NOTE: Early talk-page revisions seem date-linked incorrectly in the WP databases. -Wikid77 (talk) 12:48, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

Reducing marketing tone[edit]

13-Feb-2009: That essay still has the tone of "marketing-speak" with glowing terms (WP:PEACOCK). I think the present-day facts about Wikipedia could speak for themselves, since Wikipedia has improved over the past 8 years. So, adding too much fluff could frustrate readers or alert them that perhaps the facts are not solid enough to refute complaints. The glowing phrases are probably left-over text from years when Wikipedia did not have the current level of improvemets (many articles still retain wording of phrases from 2003). For example, the phrase "the rich get richer" seems over the top, just too rosy for a serious reply. Also, I plan to replace section title "Success breeds failure" with "Handling increased attacks" because that section concerns malicious attacks on articles. In general, most of the glowing phrases were probably just left-over text from the years before Wikipedia had improved. The tone was mentioned in 2004, under: #Needs updating in tone? (above). -Wikid77 (talk) 12:48, 13 February 2009 (UTC)

Incorrect titles[edit]

Is the "Incorrect titles" section really needed? The problem has long since been fixed... (talk) 14:44, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

This page is completely daft?[edit]

Wikipedians answer criticisms of wikipedia?! Erm, spot the self-reference? Who criticises the replies to the criticisms and so on? Just who is the "we" that are responding? People who invest their lives and prejudices and beliefs in the project? Jimmy Whales's sock puppets? The Management? People who can revert faster than I can? People friends with a Moderator? The whole concept of this project page is so ridiculous and POVish it should be deleted immediately. (talk) 12:58, 23 December 2009 (UTC)

It's permissible under Wikipedia:Self-references to avoid within the Wikipedia: namespace. The "we" are the accounts in the edit history. It might be better tagged as an essay. "Completely daft" isn't the nicest way to put it, but how strong each of these replies to objections are is debatable. Шизомби (talk) 13:50, 23 December 2009 (UTC)
I'd agree that this page is a bit silly in parts since it does construct quite a few straw men, but I think "completely daft" is an overstatement. There is a link in the lead to a page devoted to the criticisms of Wikipedia, so the other side of the argument is presented, just not here. It seems to me like it's tolerably clear from the presentation in this page that this page is only really meant to show one side of the debate (the other side is only shown as weakly phrased points to respond to). I would agree though that that fact should be made even clearer, and I think that it would be a very good idea to tag this as an essay (since, from my understanding, it is expected that essays might not be from a NPOV whereas this page could be mistaken by some as policy or as officially accepted due to not being tagged as an essay). Also, the self-reference is practically unavoidable in a page like this and is tolerable since it's in the Wikipedia: namespace, as Schizombie said. BreakfastJr (talk) 09:03, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

In the See Also section it says strawman. So the page is saying that criticisng Wikipedia means you're making a strawman argument in other words. (talk) 23:30, 14 November 2014 (UTC)


This section is highly POV and has a highly positive POV of capitalism and a highly negative POV of Communism. If Communism is referred to something like "Soviet-style Communism" that would be better. But the parts that praise capitalism have got to go. It would be best to not respond to this "criticism" anyway; as there is no "economy" of Wikipedia, it is disastrous to try and bring up any comparisons to real-life economic systems. --Revolución (talk) 18:56, 23 December 2005 (UTC)

The above was copy-pasted from a previous section of this talk page by Ijon Tichy x2 (talk) 19:58, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

Well, as long as you keep it there... Just remember, there are several answers in different POVs because the question in itself can have a wide range of POVs. Selecting one of the answers would probably bring up an edit war. And they're all true in some way, though I agree some clarification would be helpful. Why don't you bring up that "Soviet-style Communism" problem somewhere there? (But please, no more than two lines. There's an article that (ideally) clarifies that better than it should here.) - Ekevu (talk) 19:30, 23 December 2005 (UTC)
The above was copy-pasted from a previous section of this talk page by Ijon Tichy x2 (talk) 19:58, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
POV 3 claims that "Wikipedia is not like communism because it's voluntary", and "Under communism people are forced to contribute to the common good whether they want to or not" and "Communism is coercive". These are probably correct statements under e.g. the Soviet Union. But they are not correct under e.g. anarchist communism as advocated by Peter Kropotkin. Regards, Ijon Tichy x2 (talk) 19:58, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
I've gone through and made various clarifications and qualifications in the Communism section (along with a few general and unimportant copyedits). I think it comes out as more clear about which systems of communism are being discussed and things like that now, although this section of the essay/article is probably still the one most likely to benefit from some work on giving it a neutral tone. Since it's got so many POV's, though, I think it comes out as neutral enough for now, and isn't overly negative or generalising with regards to communism anymore. BreakfastJr (talk) 08:46, 27 October 2013 (UTC)


"Perhaps most importantly, amateurs or experts should not be creating the work that appears in Wikipedia."

This assertion is directly contradicted by the rest of the page where the authors go out of their way to say both amateurs and professionals are welcome to create and edit Pages. (talk) 16:45, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

When I first read that sentence I was also confused, but when I read the rest of the paragraph I came to understand that it meant that by "should not be creating the work", it meant "should not be putting into Wikipedia their original research" rather than "should not be editing or creating pages". However, I do think that it is a somewhat unclear sentence; without the context provided by the rest of the paragraph it could easily be interpreted as meaning something very contradictory to a core aspect of Wikipedia. As such, I've amended it to "Perhaps most importantly, amateurs or experts should not be themselves conceiving or discovering the information that appears in Wikipedia, though they are encouraged to create and edit pages with information from other sources"; I hope that that clears up the issue. BreakfastJr (talk) 05:47, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

Omission of reply to excessive rule making[edit]

Why is there no reply to the criticism of excessive rule making as that is one of the most common criticism of wikipedia — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jub2676 (talkcontribs) 13:17, 9 October 2015 (UTC)

Tim Ryan[edit]

Why does the link to Tim Ryan (Journalist) link to the Honolulu Star? Straw Cat (talk) 03:32, 13 November 2015 (UTC)