Archive for the ‘crowdsourcing’ Tag

Wiki Wiki Woo

My sage social media profs, my Obi-Wan and Yoda, have asked us to look at Wikipedia and other crowdsourced sites and ask whether or not we should trust them.

I touched on this in my previous post, but it is easy to dig deeper.  Wikipedia is the most prevalent and used encyclopedia-like source, period.   Anyone with an internet connection, using any of the various search engines, will likely get a Wikipedia hit in the top five of their search.

Regardless of Wikipedia’s high ranking and usage, it still does not answer the main question of whether or not to trust the information found within.  Several people have asked this same question.  Wikipedia gives compelling reasons “Why you should use Wikipedia” and there are studies that show Wikipedia is as accurate as traditional encyclopedias.  There is even a forum dedicated to Wikipedia review.

However, this is the problem: Wikipedia can never become a complete, accurate encyclopedia of human knowledge. Why? There are three simple reasons by a guy who sounds really smart.

Wikipedia lacks: (1) Accountability, (2) Reliability, and (3) Truth.

Even with all the props from the study mentioned above, there is still a dark side of Wikipedia.  So much so, that many teachers today prohibit students from using Wikipedia as a source in reports and research due to the anonymity and possibility for unconfirmed (or even falsified) information.

Red Team Journal suggests Wikipedia is already moving in the right direction. What crowdsourced reporting needs is a better (crowdsourced) means of controlling white noise and organizing information. Wikipedia, to some extent, has already done this through its gradual increase in the power of an core elite.

In the end, I’ll stick to my guns and with that of a fellow super-smart student and say that Wikipedia is just the beginning to one’s research.  In matters of importance, Wikipedia is a start to finding what you are looking for, not the end.

What the F—k is a Wampus Cat?

WampusCatTruthinessSteven Colbert‘s word for “from the gut” without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination or facts.   My take on the word: the difference between professional journalists and Italian journalists.

OK, that was a free shot at a PARTICULAR journalist/particular daily from my experiences as a PAO in Italy, but it certainly does not hold for all Italian journalists.

I have seen professional journalists lean towards Wikipedia, but they still follow up with questions to gather facts.  An amateur journalist is often content with one source saying something they want to hear to gather steam for their side of the story, regardless of reliability of the source.  Amateur reporting is often shallow and one-sided.

This is no reason to knock Wikipedia though.  Wikipedia serves a great purpose and IS the most accessible source of information at my fingertips (when my Internet is not out).

The collaborative efforts to produce “Loose Change” was impressive, but was it easy to dismiss?  Yes.  I was intrigued and piqued until a particular part about cruise missiles that I, as a military member, could call B.S. on.  After that point, it became less reputable.

Unfastened Coins“, on the other hand, was VERY convincing and kept me intrigued all the way through — great parody.

Overall, there is concrete evidence that crowdsourcing works and there is continued promise.  The sum of crowdsource-generated content should be the beginning and not an end for information.

Final questions.  How could Wikipedia be better set-up to better provide accuracy?   They could hire experts in certain fields to validate content and identify those entries.  However, the thing that has made Wikipedia successful IS the transparency and the ability for anyone to submit what they know on a subject.  It SHOULD remain open to everyone.

Lastly, as a test, I picked one of the more obscure subjects of my short history in this world: my senior year of high school mascot, The Leesville High School Wampus Cat!

After moving from Berlin, Germany to Leesville, Louisiana, my father was showing my sister and I our new high school.  When I asked, “Dad, what is a Wampus Cat?” he stumbled and tap-danced around before answering, “Son, I have no f—ing idea.”

Too bad for him, he could have used Google, Wikipedia. Monstropedia, WikiFurChaCha, and TheSupernaturalWorld as starters.