Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wikipedia article feedback

I have just been looking at the Wikipedia rating system. You go to the bottom of an article and click 'view ratings' to see what the crowd thinks of its trustworthiness, objectivity, completeness and quality of writing.

First of all, I don't understand the distinction between 'trustworthy' and 'objective'. Could an article be rated as objective, but utterly untrustworthy?  Or lacking any kind of objectivity, but entirely trustworthy?  In any case, I can make little sense of the results, when picking on articles that I know are poorly written, incomplete and untrustworthy, but which the system rates as well-written, complete etc.

For example, I've commented on the Ockham article many times, e.g. here.  There are many errors and many omissions, and the quality of the writing essentially depends on your view of how easy it is to combine paragraphs from the Catholic Encyclopedia with paragraphs of drivel. How are the lay public supposed to judge on the completeness of coverage of a subject when the whole point of an encyclopedia is to inform them about it?  How can they judge its objectivity? I agree that they might be able to judge the quality of the writing, but even this stinker, which has a quality template slapped on it, doesn't score that badly.

Interestingly this one, on Roscellinus, which I can see is a combination of the Catholic Encyclopedia and Britannica 1911, scores worse on quality of writing than the awful ones above.  But it's quite well-written, although the style is somewhat antequated. Perhaps the reason is its use of much longer sentences and paragraphs.  Perhaps the 4chan generation prefers articles with short paragraphs and short sentences.  So perhaps we can blame the internet yet again, he says, sounding like an old fart aged 70 who reads the Daily Mail.

(I had a look at 4chan yesterday but that is a subject for another vituperative, old fart kind of post).


William M. Connolley said...

Yeah, I dunno what that stuff is for either.

Anthony said...
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