Crapipedia, Wikipedia is Crap

By Suzanne MacNevin and Charles Moffat (and contributions from other sources) - December 2007.

This article has been a long time coming. We've heard other people complain about Wikipedia previously, and we've tracked the rise of alternatives like Conservapedia, etc. We've even developed our own opinion of the website.

Wikipedia is complete and utter crap.

While it can be useful as a quick and easy way to research a topic, the info you get is likely to be flawed, misinformed, biased and in no way accurate. It will also be SHORT on detailed information.

For example lets say you are research an obscure topic. You won't find a lot of info and if you actually try to add more info on the topic some asswipe (probably some jerk with little or no education who doesn't even work for Wikipedia) will delete all the info you just added anyway.

So the question is, if anything you add to Wikipedia is subject to approval by the uneducated idiot what is the point?

Granted a person could be self-educated, but self education implies that there will be gaping holes in a person's knowledge and that knowledge can be narrowly focused and/or flawed.

There's also the matter of Wiki-trolls: People who deliberately post bad information and make up stuff (like Canada is a territory of the United States). Trolls don't get noticed somehow and we think it's because they are the heavy users who don't have a life and have contributed so much that the system can't even ban them.

One of the big complaints about Wikipedia is that topics are often short on chronological facts but are instead a jumble of (mis)information. So for research purposes it is not very useful because any serious researcher will want to know WHEN said events happened and in what order.

There are other web-based encyclopedias out there that are written by an educated staff that have been making REAL encyclopedias in book and CD format for decades. Those are the ones that give the quality goods, pay attention to detail and list information in proper chronological order.

Another time issue is incorrect dates. For whatever reason the dates listed on Wikipedia are often WRONG. Dates of birth, dates of death, famous events, etc. The people adding the info either don't know or are just guessing based upon what they vaguely remember.

One of the hilarious aspects of Wikipedia is that editors often remove scholarly external links while leaving the worthless links. Wikipedia is ludricrous in the extreme, the domain of functional illiterates.

One not so funny issue is the censoring of topics not deemed "important enough" or "famous enough". For example African, Asian and women topics are often censored because some jackass comes along and says that person/topic isn't famous enough. For example African-American photographer Lorna Simpson. Obviously we've heard of her, so she must be famous to us. But the jackass-on-a-power-trip hasn't. So the jackass deletes the topic and claims Lorna Simpson isn't famous enough. This is effectively censorship, sexism and racism.

As an internet software tool the "Wiki" is useful. We won't deny that, but Wikipedia should have standards for whomever they let post information.

In theory we should only be letting the best and brightest out there contribute: Namely university professors. Would it be so hard to limit registration and access to university professors? Actually it would be ridiculously easy. Universities in the English world are a relatively tight knit group. Obviously for language reasons we would have to limit it by language and have separate access for professors of different languages.

And no, we don't think we should give high school teachers access. Some high school teachers are amazingly ill-informed.

Except it is too late. Wikipedia has already become the status quo. There's no going back to what would have been a better system. The current system is essentially "Any idiot from anywhere in the world can add information so you know you are getting the worst possible information available."

And it will stay that way until something better comes along.

Like the Art History Archive. This is Charles Moffat's project and response to the inaccuracies of Wikipedia.

The Art History Archive is being built as an archive of information (and essays) on topics within art and architecture. By keeping the focus narrow it means he can slowly build the archive up himself and research it properly using a huge stack of art history books in his collection.

In other words, he is doing it the old-fashioned way.

Which is still the better way.

Spammers, Stalkers & Wikipedia

By Charles Moffat - July 2008.

Wikipedia is the ultimate tool for spammers and stalkers

Think about it.

Thanks to the user information files you can look up a person's interests, everything they've ever added or talked about on Wikipedia, and provides a stalker with some pretty detailed personal information.

Furthermore, it allows people to contact all the users who have contributed to a particular topic or topics just by clicking on the e-mail this user link. I have several issues with this.

#1. This is a clear violation of my personal privacy, but Wikipedia's Privacy Policy is sadly in need of an update. Wikipedia allows users to contact other users as much as they like, allowing them to abuse the system for any nefarious reason with little or no policy on abuse.

#2. It allows anyone to view your personal information, and email you about it, possibly posing as a person of authority or celebrity, and then using that personage to con you.

#3. Children use Wikipedia frequently for school purposes. It is discouraged by teachers, but they still do. Wikipedia thus becomes a back door for pedophiles and stalkers to contact your children.

#4. It allows spammers to narrow their focus to only those people who contribute to a particular topic. ie. Viagra, breast implants, fashion knockoffs, etc. More spam for you just for being an active user.

#5. It also means that if you make a change or leave a comment on a topic that someone else doesn't like, that person can then snoop into your personal information and then harass you for it. Wikipedia is a virtual forum for a plethora of controversial topics... and such discussions are bound to get personal.

I have complained to Wikipedia about the privacy issue and was bluntly told that nothing less than a lawsuit would encourage them to change their Privacy Policy and change the ease of use that people have for invading other users' personal data. I've decided to go the other way: Public Pressure.

Please email and complain about their lack of measures to protect the personal privacy of users. We live in a society today that values personal privacy, but thanks to the internet and Wikipedia's lack of measures that personal privacy can be very easily invaded.

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