[Taxacom] Wikipedia rewrites [was: Species Pages - purpose]

Tony.Rees at csiro.au Tony.Rees at csiro.au
Wed Feb 4 23:24:41 CST 2009

... puts me in mind of the saying (more or less): It is difficult (impossible?) to make software (or in this context, content) foolproof, because fools can be so ingenious...

- Tony

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Paul van Rijckevorsel
Sent: Thursday, 5 February 2009 4:17 PM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Wikipedia rewrites [was: Species Pages - purpose]

From: "Frederick W Schueler" <bckcdb at istar.ca>
Sent: Wednesday, February 04, 2009 3:44 PM
> * has anyone had the experience of having errors subsequently inserted
> into something they've put up on wikipedia? This is often mentioned, but
> I wonder how often it occurs

When it comes to Wikipedia, anything goes. There are no guarantees of any
kind, whatsoever.

However, there are patterns. The popular topics see a lot of out-and-out
vandalism, which is quickly reverted (the history of such a page will show
very few real edits, but will consist mostly of vandalism and reversals).
Pages on out-of-the-way topics may meet with no vandalism (or other changes)
whatsoever, not being noticed by anybody. Pages on topics with a commercial
application are likely to see advertisements inserted. Pages that mention a
country (even in passing) are likely to see text inserted promoting that
country, or enlarging the aspects touching upon that country, biasing the
page. Topics where popular myths exist are likely to have these popular
myths inserted again and again. And yes, some fool with a keyboard may well
insert whatever comes into his mind in whatever page catches his eye, and
no, there is no lower limit in this (i.e. it is not possible to imagine an
error so silly that it cannot be inserted by somebody, somewhere, and
thereupon become gospel, remaining in the page indefinitely). Only pages
that have their own dedicated group of knowledgeable users tend to be well

And, yes, there are gangs of "Wikipedia nerds" who have their own
incomprehensible projects, ranging from making spelling changes to inserting
(or deleting) HTML-code, category-assignations, templates or whatever. And
no, there is nothing so weird that such a gang might not arise to specialize
in it (and being unreasonable about it). The majority of edits are made by
users who did not read the page before making said edit, but who are engaged
on a project. And those users that do read the page they are going to edit
often don't look in the page history. So yes, there is quite a bit of good
information that once was inserted but can only be found by going
through the page history, as the page was 'improved' afterward.

It is all a matter of agenda's, and some area's are impassible; others are
tranquil. No guarantees, of any kind.


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