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New York Times: "Anonymous Source Is Not the Same as Open Source"

From the New York Times:
  • "Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, currently serves up the following: Five billion pages a month. More than 120 languages. In excess of one million English-language articles. And a single nagging epistemological question: Can an article be judged as credible without knowing its author? Wikipedia says yes, but I am unconvinced."

Read the full article here.

What do you think? Can an article be judged as credible without knowing its author?


shane said...

my first impression was: "silly question"; what you are assessing is an opinion like any other, by reference to supporting facts and the disclosed reasoning process. Of course, if either of these is not apparent, or there is no way of checking the facts, the assessment may be tentative.

my other thoughts after skimming the NYT article is that the Wikipaedia model doesn't seem all that different from the way human knowledge has accumulated since records began, albeit at a lower standard of rigour compared with modern scientific method.

It should also be considered that the accepted theory of the day is not necessarily the end of the story. Look at the geocentric solar system or pre-renaissance "medicine".

I find Wikipaedia interesting because it is a phenomenon that doesn't seem to have existed in that accessible form before.

Cian said...

Wikipedia is a noble concept. Its content is collaborative and is often fact checked by its users.

I like Wikipedia because it usually provides the most comprehensive information on any topic.

However there's always a caveat. Whatever information we choose to use has to be double-checked for authenticity and corroborated by other sources. Unlike Britannica the authenticity of its entries cannot always be traced back to their source. Incorrect information can sit unchanged for some time and that information can make its way on to other web pages and so forth.

Secondly, there are also reports of vandalism. For example, following the new pope's election, a user substituted the pontiff's photo with that of the evil emperor from Star Wars. In response, Wikipedia is now planning to impose stricter editorial rules over its content and there are now entries which have been frozen – which seems to detract from its original idea of open source collaboration.

As long as its users are aware that Wikipedia is fallible, it can be a great starting point for research on any topic.

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