Wikipedia Hates The Truth?

Posted on Friday, February 10th, 2012

John Siracusa rants, while Dan Benjamin listens, about what he thinks Wikipedia should be on this episode of 5by5’s Hypercritical. The fun starts at 72 minutes. Follow-up in the next episode is also worth a listen.

I personally agree with John on this one. Truth should trump all. But unfortunately this is not the case. It’s understandable why Wikipedia follows the same formulas as traditional encyclopedias, only publishing secondary sources making them a tertiary source, thus allowing them to define what can be “verified” as truth. But what if you know something is true, but can’t verify it. Should such a valuable source be subject to rules defined over a hundred years ago?

The problem is that most people don’t understand what Wikipedia actually is and how it works, and they don’t find out until they try to contribute something. They figure, “I know something about this topic, so I will add to it.” It’s at this point their contribution gets marked for deletion due to it being a primary source and not able to be cited, therefore “verified”. It’s bullshit, but unfortunately that’s the way it works.

You may have noticed that I use Wikipedia all the time. I’m not saying it’s not a valuable resource – it’s all we have – just not what I thought it was or could be. Does that make me a hypocrite? Anyways, John explains it much better than me, so give the episode a listen already!