Re: Binding

"Alf P. Steinbach" <>
Wed, 01 Aug 2007 09:46:43 +0200
* James Kanze:

On Aug 1, 1:22 am, "Alf P. Steinbach" <> wrote:

* James Kanze:

On Jul 31, 12:34 pm, Juha Nieminen <nos...@thanks.invalid> wrote:

James Kanze wrote:

The Wikipedia is fun for a lot of things, but it can
hardly be considered a source of reliable information.

  So the urban legend says, yet I have yet to see with my own
eyes unrealiable information there. Sure, there are examples.
I just haven't seen any myself.

I've run into a number of them. But that's not the point. The
point is that there is no guarantee of reliability; unless you
already know the answer, you don't know whether what the article
says is correct or not.

Sorry friend James, I have to disagree strongly with you there.

There's no such thing as absolute correctness: it's just a
question of probability of correctness, and Wikipedia compared
favorably to old Encylopedia Britannica in that respect last
time it was checked.

And that is simply false. (Although in fact, I don't think it
was ever checked.)

Now, now, listen to Alf, I say.


"Wikipedia is about as good a source of accurate information as
Britannica, the venerable standard-bearer of facts about the world
around us, according to a study published this week [December 15, 2005]
in the journal Nature."

 From my own experience, about one article in
two contains some more or less important error.

Yes, it averages to about 2 or 3 errors per article (page) in either
encyclopedia, and that's the usual.

E.g. check out the errata list for any serious, good technical book,
such as TCPPPL: it's /long/.

On the other hand, the really bad books seemingly are error-free, no
errata lists published, and na?ve novices believe 'em. They're just
like magazines (like old Object magazine, very unfortunately merged into
DDJ if I recall correctly) that don't publish letters to the editor.
Wikipedia is at the absolute other end of the spectrum: you can leave
discussion comments freely, and you can /fix/ it -- and should.


Note that I'm not against Wikipedia per se. I find it a lot of
fun, and enjoy reading it. But I also find that it is being
rather systematically used for something it is not: an
authorative source.

Yes, I agree, and add: it can be stupid to cite a "fact" with reference
to Wikipedia, because when someone follows the reference, the Wikipedia
article might have changed, omitting that "fact", but on the other hand
it can be intelligent if the "fact" is in doubt, because when someone
follows the reference, the article might have been corrected.

And the nice thing is that you can follow the references and google for
terms and facts found in the articles, and find authoritative sources.

Not that those more authoritative sources necessarily have better error
rates, but, they're authoritative, so nobody can fault you... ;-)

A: Because it messes up the order in which people normally read text.
Q: Why is it such a bad thing?
A: Top-posting.
Q: What is the most annoying thing on usenet and in e-mail?

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