Why not use Wiki?

! This post hasn't been updated in over a year. A lot can change in a year including my opinion and the amount of naughty words I use. There's a good chance that there's something in what's written below that someone will find objectionable. That's fine, if I tried to please everybody all of the time then I'd be a Lib Dem (remember them?) and I'm certainly not one of those. The point is, I'm not the kind of person to try and alter history in case I said something in the past that someone can use against me in the future but just remember that the person I was then isn't the person I am now nor the person I'll be in a year's time.

It’s not often that I agree with anything the Education Secretary says but I’m afraid I’ve got to back him up over his stance on Wikipedia.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica offers online content for a price which a lot of schools currently.  Alan Johnson is on the receiving end of some flack for recommending the use of Wikipedia as a research tool.

I accept that a lot of what is in Wikipedia can’t be relied upon for its accuracy but it’s useful because it’s a free source of information that isn’t tied to subject to the usual self-censorship of large corporations who need to be able to sell their product to as many countries as possible.  The articles are written mostly by people who know what they’re talking about and moderated by their peers.  Articles that are on a contentious subject, once their neutrality has been agreed upon, are locked.  Most importantly, anyone can flag an article as having disputed neutrality.  Britannica is an American corporation – how neutral will their articles on, for example, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Cuba, Hawaii, etc. be and what can you do if their neutrality is disputed?

Wikipedia might contain a lot of opinion, conjecture and misinformation but it also contains a lot of useful information and it’s free.  Sorry, but my taxes are paying for the subscriptions to Encyclopaedia Britannica and I want value for money.  I trust Wikipedia about as much as I trust Encyclopaedia Britannica.


  1. Sean Lynch (80 comments) says:

    So do I Wonko. If a person has a modicum of intelligence,
    they can evaluate what they read and put it in the right context. English lessons when I was at school in the 70’s consisted mainly of comprehension exercises.
    There is much talk of the ‘now’ generation being virtually,
    no, practically illterate.
    The nannying and brainwashing is not about educating people, it is the fascist left making todays youngsters dense and ignorant, that is how they are able to control and manipulate everybody.
    It was always the ‘right’ that was synonymous with fascism, but in reality(something unknown to these lefties) fascism is not determined by these imaginary political ‘wings’,but by the oppressive , authoritarian nature of it i.e. no freedom of speech, thought or expression. Reminds me of Stalinist New Labour…

  2. Daniel Thompson (1 comments) says:

    The comparisons between Encyclopaedia Britannica and Wikipedia are very interesting.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica never thought that an open source product like Wikipedia would seriously challenge the credibility of its brand. They were wrong and Encyclopaedia Britannica’s staff seriously misread the global market. They are now very concerned about the widespread use of a free Wikipedia vs their paid subscription model. Industry analysis shows that the accuracy of both encyclopedic databases is similar.

    It is interesting that Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is developing a new search engine. It is the combination of a) improved search engines and b) the success of Wikipedia that has put financial pressure on Encyclopedia Britannica over recent years. Many institutions and individuals are questioning the need to pay to subscribe to Encyclopaedia Britannica when the content is free on the internet. Google even has free direct links to Encyclopaedia Britannica’s main database !!

  3. Allie (93 comments) says:

    What exactly is the point of a so-called encyclopaedia that, as you put it, `can’t be relied upon for its accuracy’? If I want information, I want to get it from people who actually know what they’re talking about, not from people who have the effrontery to call themselves `editors’ just because they post something they don’t necessarily know to be true, on the internet. OK, so it’s free; big deal. Maybe that’s because something worth having is worth paying for.

  4. Hlafweard (1 comments) says:

    I’m no fan of Wikipedia, so I unfortunately have to disagree:

    1. The articles are NOT written mostly by people who know what they’re talking about. They’re written by people who THINK they know what they’re talking about. There’s a huge difference. For example, the article on the privatisation of British Rail used to contain the amazing claim that the subsidy paid to the companies had DECREASED since privatisation. I shudder to think how many folks would have been misled before that was changed.

    2. Articles on contentious issues are locked more or less at random. It’s a deliberate policy to lock them at the version they’re at, regardless of how biased they are, as a way of forcing consensus – which sometimes doesn’t emerge for months. Pity the people who’re actually hunting for information in the meantime.

    The real issue is that we’ve stopped teaching students to THINK CRITICALLY. They accept what they read without questioning it, because that’s what our schools teach them to do. Now if we could fix that problem, the flaws in Wikipedia wouldn’t matter because the lads and lasses *would* cross-check facts and analysis with other sources and actually evaluate claims. But, alas, I don’t see any of our parties supporting the extraordinary suggestion that schools should actually teach students to think.

  5. wonkotsane (1133 comments) says:

    But Alfie, can you rely on an American corporation with shareholders for accuracy? The Encyclopaedia Britannica is as likely to be politicised as Wikipedia but they’ll charge you for the privilege and their information will be considered gospel truth.

    Like Hlafweard said, kids have to be taught to consider “facts” objectively.

  6. Allie (93 comments) says:

    (Is `Alfie’ supposed to mean me?)

    If that corporation’s business is the selling of accurate and reliable information, then it would be foolish for it to sell information that wasn’t accurate or reliable, wouldn’t it?

    You seem to be under the strange misapprehension that the only two sources of information are Encyclopaedia Britannica and Wikipedia; not quite sure how you got there …

  7. HelloWorld (1 comments) says:

    Peace people

    We love you

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