Filed under: metrics
There are an increasing number of articles and works published whichrefer to Wikipedia as an implicitly reliable source — often ininappropriate contexts. As its quality improves, Wikipedia
seemsto be shirking a certain quiet
to be modest; something which wasnot a problem back when none would
have mistaken it for a meticulouslyedited compilation.
Example: Ann Simmons, writing in the
LA Times on a matter of British peerage earlier this summer, used the
clause “according to Burke’s
and Wikipedia,”a snippet which should immediately give one pause. For one
thing,the two references have nothing in common. It seems that aneditor tacked on the clause, “,
an online encyclopedia,” in a vain effort at
clarification. The full quote:
to Burke’s and Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, Fredericksucceeded
his father, Robert Capell, the 10th Earl, who died in June.(The late
earl was a distant cousin of the 9th Lord Essex.)
The 11th Earl is a bachelor and has no children.
With no otherapparent successor in sight, Capell is the new heir to the earldom.
Hisaristocratic genealogy is documented in the 106th edition of “Burke’sPeerage & Baronetage.”
Please understand me; I will be the first to tell you that you can
articles and collections
on Wikipedia – including many
on peerage and
- which are among the
best overviews in the Englishlanguage; if only you know where to look, and how to check the latest
revisions in each
the process for checking information added to Burke’s and that
foradding information to Wikipedia are vastly dissimilar.
TheWikipedia overview article on the Earl of
instance, continues to list no references, two months after theabove
(widely syndicated) article drew new attention to the wiki
articles on Frederick andRobert Capell.
embarrassing to imagine some newscasster, writer, lawyer,politician,
student, professor, or publicistciting a random article from Wikipedia,
on peerage or anything else,without somehow verifying
thatthe article had been carefullyresearched. So what can be done? Short of the
full-fledgeddrive for moderated or static views of the project, that is.
What I would like to see is an internal quality review group that
issues regular recommendations
to the rest of the world. At first these
recommendations would look like a brief whitelist of the categories and
subsubfields thatare really
top-notch and being monitored by a healthy community ofrespected
users. As content improves, it would add various
hard metricsfor each of
various top-level categories — spot-check accuracy;vandalism
frequency/longevity; proportion/longevity of POV and otherdisputes;
rates of article creation, editing, and deletion; &c,
The recommendations could go out to educational, librarian, andresearch bodies –including
some of you reading this. Theywould be prominently linked
to the sitewidedisclaimer[s]. The metrics would be available to
anyone asfeedback, including those working on relevant WikiProjects.
youthink? (… read the full
essay) A tip o’ the cursor to
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