Unchecked websites

Murray Fletcher murray.fletcher at AGRIC.NSW.GOV.AU
Sun May 14 11:55:21 CDT 2000


Margaret K. Thayer wrote:

> At 11:52 AM 13-05-2000 +0200, Prof.Francis Dov Por wrote:
>
> ...
> > Frequently the web sites containing zoological information have  gross
> >errors which normally would be weeded-out in a properly edited hard copy
> >publication. As an example  I bring one of such web sites, that of Illinois
> >( www.il-st-acad-sci.org/kingdom)  In its zoological pages  there are such
> >kind of  errors as ...
>
> Yes, it is certainly unfortunate to see such errors creep in, especially on
> sites that users might reasonably expect to be authoritative (in this case,
> a state academy of science, but I have sometimes seen similar things on
> university pages).
>
> I hope you sent your corrections to the site's webmaster or whatever
> contact address is there as well as to your colleagues on TAXACOM - did
> you?  Although I agree with (what I believe to be) your point that people
> who put up such information should check it or have it checked, it doesn't
> do any good to complain about such errors to others and not to the source.
> In my experience, most sites that are even somewhat academically oriented
> (and probably many others as well) are quite interested in correcting
> errors when made aware of them.  Web users, of course, need to be aware
> that unless web content is stated to be peer-reviewed and/or produced by
> suitable "experts", it probably isn't. Caveat emptor.

I totally agree. Items on the web, whether carefully checked or not before
publication, are likely to be reviewed by a far wider range of "referees" than
items in hard copy. It is incumbent on those who find errors to point them out
to the authors of the errors. It is then up to the authors to make the
corrections.

I value the input of specialists from around the world who have taken the time
to read and correct items on my own web pages. It is unlikely that my printed
manuscripts will be sent to all (or perhaps any?) of these specialists for
review prior to publication.

I also find it useful to include a list of credits acknowledging this
assistance. Besides acknowledging the input, it also shows other readers that at
least one other specialist has looked at the pages, thereby minimising possible
errors. As the author of the pages, I also accept that it is my responsibility
to correct such errors when brought to my attention.

It is fair to say, however, that a printed publication with glaring errors won't
be published until the errors are fixed while poor web pages with abundant
errors, as pointed out by Prof. Dov Por, are often placed in the public domain,
whether or not they are subsequently corrected.

Murray


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Dr Murray J. Fletcher
Agricultural Scientific Collections Unit
NSW Agriculture - OAI
Forest Road
ORANGE NSW 2800
Australia

Phone: 61-(0)2-63913943
Fax: 61-(0)2-63913899
Email: murray.fletcher at agric.nsw.gov.au

ASCU Website: http://www.agric.nsw.gov.au/Hort/ascu

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