Wikipedia's perfection (was Re: Discussion of the relative advantages/disadvantages of PAE (was Re: Memory >3.5GB not used?))

Bart Silverstrim bsilver at
Fri Apr 27 13:45:23 UTC 2007

> On Wed, Apr 25, 2007 at 03:59:43PM +0200, Svein Halvor Halvorsen  
> wrote:
>> Bill Moran wrote:
>>>> A friend of mine going for his Dr. at CMU (Patrick Wagstrom:  
>>>> GNOME guy)
>>>> describes an exercise where a professor intentionally injected  
>>>> false
>>>> information into Wikipedia, then gave his students a research  
>>>> assignment
>>>> that involved that information.  Apparently the number of  
>>>> students who
>>>> trusted the false information without verifying it was quite  
>>>> high.  I
>>>> should take that as a lesson that most people _don't_ know how  
>>>> to verify
>>>> the validity of information and be more careful when I make  
>>>> sarcastic
>>>> statements.
>> Lee Capps wrote:
>>> That's interesting, though, to pick a nit, it may just show that
>>> students were in a hurry, rather than that they necessarily trust  
>>> the
>>> info or that they don't know _how_ to verify the info.
>> And also: Where is this professor's ethics? Does he also misinform  
>> the
>> students in class, only to later accuse them of not verifying the  
>> facts?
>>  And did he even think about the fact that others may have read his
>> misinformation? Why does this professor think that his agenda is more
>> important than Wikipedia's? Did he later correct the articles?

How is it unethical?  He altered information and tested his students  
to see if they'd verify it.  Although unless it was information  
relating to their major I don't see why he should berate them for not  
checking.  I'm not likely to care enough to double- or triple- check  
information on many many topics out there if it's something  
irrelevant to my line of work or my interests/hobbies.

Now, if he LEFT the information vandalized, that would be unethical,  
since others out there may rely on the information and he knowingly  
left it with misleading data, since the whole idea behind the Wiki is  
that people with knowledge will share their knowledge and not mislead  

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