Wikipedia created by teenage male computer nerds

Martin Cohen, philosophy lecturer and editor of The Philosopher, writes in Times Higher Education 28 Aug 2008 about Wikipedia and calls it encyclopedia Idiotica and says it’s created mostly by teenage male computer nerds.

“Journalists doing research turn to Wikipedia. Students write essays based on its entries. Professors grab lecture notes from it”.

Yes, beside of students I also see to many journalists using Wikipeda as a source. It’s sometimes okay if it’s not that kind of “trivial” subjects like hockey. In this swedish news article from NWT.se they refer to the Butterfly style. Okay for me. But here in Dalarnas Tidningar they refer to an author entry in Wikipedia and here in Helagotland.se they refer to a wikipedia entry on Creosote.

Martin Cohen has similar statements as Wikipedia critics like Andrew Keen and Tara Brabazon:

“Wikipedia’s version of reality has already become a monopoly. And all the prejudices and ignorance of its creators are imposed too”.

And he also finds doubtful information in Wikipedia entries:

“…on Wikipedia we must learn that Mao’s political philosophy is essentially the use of violence to suppress dissent, that Socrates was “Plato’s teacher” who left behind “not very many” writings, and that Hitler greatly admired Russian Communism, saying: “The whole of National Socialism is based on it.”

And the most terrible in Wikipedia is the way of referring to sources:

“Because, on Wikipedia, knowledge is tracked instantly via Google searches, online newspapers and other internet encyclopaedias, not so much by consulting primary sources as ‘tertiary sources’ – other internet sites”.

So, what do I think about Wikipedia. It’s a great tool for finding information, not knowledge, fast and get on further in your research.

It’s not a great tool to use as it was a primary source and a source to refer to, especially by journalists.

Many, many Wikipedia entries has terrible references. Often it’s not primary sources and often it’s biased sources.

Journalists, students, professors should use Wikipedia, but not as a single source and not as something you can refer to as a source, doesn’t matter if it’s a news article, paper, thesis or dissertation you’re writing on.

One response

  1. You are so right.

    From my experience Wikipedia does not want cultural truth and homogenizes and sterilizes everything in it’s quest for truth.

    I began listing a few folk songs and histories that were handed down through 4 generations of family members. These songs were from the Western NC mountains.

    The information was abruptly deleted from a man in Poland stating that I violated copyright and that I was not able to provide a source.

    I tried to explain that the songs were over 100 years and were considered traditional as they are in the public domain.

    I was told this was not encyclopedic as no source could be given so the song lyrics and history of the meaning of the song remains deleted.

    I have to laugh at this because I am the authority on these songs I was wanting to share the cultural relevance of these songs.

    Unfortunately, the Appalachian songs Wikipedia have put up are by archivists of the 50’s and 60’s who butchered the lyrics because they did not understand the culture and the southern dialect they were researching.

    I tried to correct a few of these songs, but again was defeated as I could not source my knowledge of southern US dialect. I laughed at that because I from the Southern US and live in the Appalachian mountains where these songs are still sung to this day.

    This is really all a shame because Wikipedia will continue to perpetuate cultural myths that will end up becoming truth to a new generation of internet users.

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