TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: The Hive / Can Thousands of Wikipedians be Wrong?

Re: The Hive / Can Thousands of Wikipedians be Wrong?
7 Aug 2006 13:26:28 -0700

Monty Solomon wrote:

> The Hive
> Can thousands of Wikipedians be wrong? How an attempt to build an
> online encyclopedia touched off history's biggest experiment in
> collaborative knowledge

Although a basic principle of democracy is majority rule, that counts
only on election day. In real life there are other serious factors.

In Usenet discussions several people cited Wikpedia. Wikpedia was
wrong in those cases. It had "conventional wisdom" which many people
share but did not delve deeply enough into an issue to have a proper

Now you might ask why don't I correct the entries? I don't have the
time nor interest to do so.

There are many things in life in which a large subset of people are
passionately involved in, but that in itself does not make something
'right' or 'wrong'. Go into a sports bar and ask some football
history -- you may or may not get an accurate answer despite having a
large collection of sports-minded people right on the spot.

For example, as you know, I am a supporter of Amtrak. There is a
subset of people who detest Amtrak (or actually the idea of passenger
trains) and invest a great deal of time and effort being critical of
it. Since they're arguments are all carbon copies of each other, it's
easy to see they're coming from a single propaganda source which has
its facts (IMHO) wrong. Similar subsets of people are reporting to
Wikpedia and as you can see, that doesn't necessarily make the issue
correct, rather, it's just what a passionate group of involved people
believe is right at that particular moment.

For example: PBS just had on a documentary of Edward R. Murrow and
McCarthy. We forget that back then a great many people were
supportive of McCarthy and not very fond of Murrow, and critical of
Murrow in some other segments he did. Today we think those Murrow
critics were nuts, but back then they had quite a passionate
following. It would be curious as to what Wikpedia would have said
about the Communists in 1945 and 1950. With Communists supporters and
critics both very passionate, we'd have various writing, but all of
them -- on both sides -- would likely be wrong. (We know today the
Communists and their critics were both wrong.)

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