Why You Should Trust Wikipedia About As Much as the Liberal Mainstream Media
Bill Quick

From an entry in Wikipedia somebody has created:

William Thomas Quick – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Spitting on U.S. Servicemen On February 3, 2007, Bill Quick admitted to having spit on returning U.S. servicemen repeatedly during the Vietnam Era.[3]

No link or any context, just that line. Here, as Paul Harvey might have put it, is the rest of the story:

Yeah, and although this post doesn’t mention people like me, I was a red-hot leftist (marxist) revolutionary back then, and I did spit on a couple of returning vets. From the safety of a crowd, behind a barricade and a police line.

I was an America-hating asshole and a coward. I’ve learned better, and I’ve learned to feel regret for my shameful actions then. Can’t say the same for the current crowd of shameless, cowardly, America-hating leftist jerks, though.

The little bit of spit somebody saw reason to post without context is kinda funny, though, given that the Wikipedia entry on the issue seems to think all spitting on Vietnam vets is almost entirely an urban myth. Of course. Those sweet “progressives” of the Sixties – we dare not call them Marxists and hard core leftists – would never have done something so awful.

Except they did. Some of us learned to feel shame for it. Most didn’t – including, I expect, whomever posted this little bit of misdirection at WhackyPedia.

And by the way, I’m a libertarian conservative. Can’t you people get anything right?

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Bill Quick

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.

Comments

Why You Should Trust Wikipedia About As Much as the Liberal Mainstream Media — 116 Comments

  1. Well, that [3] at the end IS a link back to your Feb 3rd post, although the standard practice is to show footnotes as links at the bottom of the page.

    The page was clearly put up by someone who doesn’t like you — why not edit it yourself?

  2. why not edit it yourself?

    Sorry, I don’t play kiddie games with toy “encyclopedias.”

    Things that claim to be repositories of knowlege should not instead be battlegrounds of dueling ideologues, even if “they don’t like me.”

  3. See what else they say

    claims to have coined the term Blogosphere in 2002;[1] but it was actually coined by Brad L. Graham in 1999.[2]

    The link by Bill’s name goes to his comment proposing the name, the link by this Brad’s name just goes to his blog. Which does go back to 99, I haven’t checked yet to see when he first used the term.

  4. the link by this Brad’s name just goes to his blog.

    This has come up several times before. When it first did, I dropped my claim to “coining” the word, and merely stated that I named the Blogosphere. Which I think any fair-minded person would agree is true Brad’s coinage had been floating around in the ether for nearly three years when I independently (after I thought it up, I Googled the term and got zero hits – why it missed Brad I don’t know) re-coined the word and supplied it with a bit of etymological justification.

    Within six months, it was the generally accepted term, and is to this day. Absent my post, I doubt very much that it would be called “The Blogosphere” today.

    As for what Brad, ever the gentleman, had to say on the issue (from the comments in the post linked above):

    Gracious! I had no idea I was getting plopped down in a dust-up over the provenance of a newborn word. For what it’s worth, if my esteemed colleague wishes to be known as its progenitor, I’m more than happy to concede it. Read over my three-year old post and I think it’s clear I was just playing around and poking Peter Merholz (a bit) for creating a term, “blog”, that I didn’t — and don’t — much care for.

    As far as I’m concerned, that’s pretty much the final word on the issue.

  5. The “context” you provide in describing your spitting on U.S. servicemen is what most people would call “excuses.”

    I knew plenty of red-hot lefties during the Vietnam War who never spit on a service member, or insulted one. What would be the point in that? These people were not the policy makers, and most of them were drafted. They didn’t see any reason to blame them for what Johnson and Nixon did.

    Maybe the “current crowd of shameless, cowardly, America-hating leftist jerks” you mention will be supplying their own excuses in time.

  6. why [Google] missed Brad I don’t know

    I don’t think any of the search engines, even Google, reputably claim to have indexed more than a small fraction of the web. 16-20% was the peak number usually bandied about a year or so ago, last time I cared enough to look.

    (You’ll occasionally hear a claim by some up-and-comer to have indexed more than any other. Usually this boils down to a service which checks a bunch of other search engines, or to outright lies marketing.)

  7. Somebody else has played kiddie games that with that toy “encyclopedias.” The reference to spitting was removed a short while ago.

    Which is, in its own way, just as bad, given that I did spit on “a couple” of Viet Vets back in my hard left, Marxist, Up The Revolution youth.

    What I wanted to see was some context, not the smear job that was obviously intended for this “credible” knowledge source.

    Until Wackypedia can achieve some level of credibility on anything much beyond the hard sciences, it remains useless for scholars, journalists, knowledge workers and, well, anybody.

    How many people would have read that entry and come away with a false impression of what really happened? How long would the entry have remained, had I not had my own little soapbox, and was able to attract the attention of people with much bigger soap boxes?

    Truth is not the product of a democratic vote, nor is accuracy. Wiki will remain Wacky until it somehow manages to address that problem.

  8. The “context” you provide in describing your spitting on U.S. servicemen is what most people would call “excuses.”

    You mispelled “Most leftists pushing an agenda to cover up what they really were, and what they really did.”

    But thanks for posting. Comic relief, no matter how clumsy, is always welcome.

  9. Last year I came across the Wiki page on a technical project that I had been involved with. It was full of errors, so I started correcting them. Very simple things like dimensions, dates, the spelling of names. Every time I would fix something, someone would change it back. Then the “volunteer” started demanding my citations. I told him I was there. He replied that original reporting is prohibited, and unless I could find some other source I would be banned from changing the page again.

    I gave up. Names are still misspelled. The specifications are still wrong or missing.

    It’s not just an encyclopedia put together by random strangers. It’s put together by random strangers who don’t know what they are talking about.

  10. The comparison to MSM I made was not unintentional, by the way. The person who posted the attempted smear job about me at Wiki used much the same techniques the MSM uses to slant things favorably for its liberal agenda.

    The general understanding of “repeatedly” is several or many times, not just “a couple,” although “a couple” can be described as “repeatedly,” and be technically accurate. Another MSM ploy, similar in action, is to characterize any majority, no matter how tiny, as being “most.” Hence, 5,000,001 is “most” of a sample of ten million, even though most people will interpret the term as meaning “the large majority,” or “almost all.”

  11. And apparently, you haven’t read this:

    And, apparently, you don’t believe in reading your own cites:

    Whatever the reason for the results, they will cheer defenders of Wikipedia’s accuracy, though Chesney urges caution in extrapolating too generally from his study. For one thing, the sample size was small. For another, 13 percent of those in the “experts” group reported finding mistakes in their assigned articles.

    Whether this is better or worse than traditional, expert-based encyclopedias depends on who you ask. Nature did a highly-publicized comparative study between Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica last year in which they found that the two were similar in terms of accuracy. Britannica disputed those findings and still claims to offer a more reliable product.

    Chesney’s study was not intended to settle the debate. He notes that, whatever Wikipedia’s comparative accuracy, plenty of people (academics included) are using it, and he simply wanted to see whether Wikipedia could be considered accurate enough to be worth using. His study suggests that it can, but that caution—and further research—needs to be used before citing anything learned from Wikipedia as a fact.

    Boy, I’d say.

  12. Bill said:

    And, apparently, you don’t believe in reading your own cites:

    Apparently you can’t remember what your argument is. Your claim was that Wikipedia is a toy encylopedia. Let’s look at a quote you highlighted:

    ..plenty of people (academics included) are using it, and he simply wanted to see whether Wikipedia could be considered accurate enough to be worth using. His study suggests that it can but that caution—and further research—needs to be used before citing anything learned from Wikipedia as a fact.

    But, isn’t that true of any publication? Do you believe everything you read from academic sources? The bottom line is that your dismissal of Wikipedia as a toy encyclopedia is an insult to the honest editors there that participate in this experiment and only serves to diminish you, not them.

    Regards,

    Alfred

  13. The way I see it Alfred, is that I could cite Wiki in an argument with you on Monday, on Tuesday you (or your agent) could go in and edit the entry I cited, then on Wednesday you could refute my argument using the same link I did that is now 180 degrees away from what I originally read.

    A useless exercise, one best not entered into for anyone serious about their time and positions. Are other sources more accurate on an overall basis? Mebbe, mebbe not, but they don’t change from minute to minute like spit wafting in the wind.

  14. caution—and further research—needs to be used before citing anything learned from Wikipedia as a fact.

    Right. Wikipedia is a beginning to research on a topic, not an end.

    When I’m reviewing the research papers I assign my kids, I toss them if the references list consists only of Wikipedia. (Or solely of quite a few other sites, for that matter.) I pointed out some of the more egregious examples of bias or inaccuracy, which mostly put a stop to the protestations of Wikipedia’s reliability.

  15. All-dud is probably upset because he has been spending his free time (and a lot of free time he has, what with having a condition – Really! He’s sure of it! – which prevents him from working, and a condition – his personality – which keeps him from getting a girlfriend) editing Wikipedia entries to show that George KKK Bush is not only too stupid to walk and breathe at the same time, but is also the secret mastermind behind all of the world’s ills. It’s an affront to his hard work (the only part about him that’s hard, if you take my meaning) for you not to implicitly trust every Wikipedia entry.

    (Ad hominems: fun for the entire family.)

  16. ShoreMark said:

    The way I see it Alfred, is that I could cite Wiki in an argument with you on Monday, on Tuesday you (or your agent) could go in and edit the entry I cited, then on Wednesday you could refute my argument using the same link I did that is now 180 degrees away from what I originally read.

    Citing Wikipedia is indeed risky for the very reason you give. On the other hand, I personally have found more useful information on Wikipedia than anywhere else on the web. Yes, I take everything I read there with a grain of salt and I have caught a number of blatant errors (or vandalism) and corrected them. The bottom line is that, for most articles, there are a number of vigilent editors that keep the the articles on their ‘watchlist’ and correct vandalism or blatent errors in minutes if not seconds. These editors are typically both passionate and knowledgeable about the subject matter of the article. I imagine that you, ShoreMark, are the same about some subjects. Have you checked them out on Wikipedia? If not, why don’t you and participate in this experiment?

    Regards,

    Alfred

  17. Alfred,

    ….but that caution—and further research—needs to be used before citing anything learned from Wikipedia as a fact.

    Seems to me to be as good a description of an educational or factual toy as anything.

    I suspect what you really want to do is go wandering off into hand-waving territory, where epistemology (but how do we know what we know? they howled) or that even farther land where nothing is truly knowable, and all knowledge is relative, hence, any knowledge source is as good as any other. I prefer not to go there – people who espouse that approach design bridges that fall down.

    I will concede a reasonable level of accuracy to non-controversial scientific entries in Wiki, simply because it wouldn’t occur to most scientists to write biased articles pushing specialized agendas. Note I said “most.” – I wouldn’t trust a damned thing I found in Wiki on either global warming or evolution, to name but two.

    That said, on most of the rest – all the so-called soft sciences, as well as history and even geography, Wiki is far too often nothing more than a battlefield of competing ideologues.

    And no, I don’t think that holds true for almost all legitimate publications, among which I do not, at this point, number WikiPedia.

  18. Bill said:

    I suspect what you really want to do is go wandering off into hand-waving territory, where epistemology (but how do we know what we know? they howled) or that even farther land where nothing is truly knowable, and all knowledge is relative, hence, any knowledge source is as good as any other. I prefer not to go there – people who espouse that approach design bridges that fall down.

    Really? This is the conclusion you draw from my defense of Wikipedia? Perhaps you check your premises before jumping to any more erroneous conclusions.

    Regards,

    Alfred

  19. Alfred, I come down on SteveF’s side on this:

    Wikipedia is a beginning to research on a topic, not an end.

    I have absolutely no problem with using them for exploring various, any at all, topics, and once the curiousity is piqued it’s time to dig up reliable sources (and not on Sunday mornings!)

  20. Bill said:

    simply because it wouldn’t occur to most scientists to write biased articles pushing specialized agendas.

    You’ve got to be kidding. Did you really type this? If so, do you really believe this? Do you want to take this back?

    Alfred

  21. ShoreMark said:

    Alfred, I come down on SteveF’s side on this:

    Wikipedia is a beginning to research on a topic, not an end.

    Then we are in violent agreement. But please, don’t forget my beef is with Bill’s statement that Wikipedia is a “toy encyclopedia”. As you both have stated, ‘Wikipedia is a beginning to research on a topic’. But then, any encylcopedia is only a beginning. Certainly, were a student of mine to turn in a design project where ‘World Book’ was the sole source, I would not consider the project worthy of grading.

    Regards,

    Alfred

  22. a service which checks a bunch of other search engines, or to outright lies marketing

    There was, and may still be, a program that did the first (Webferret). As to the second Wikipedia. Bill’s right about the bias. A quick look at a couple of entries shows a marked left tilt. Kerry’s entry reads like it was written by his PR firm. Lembcke’s book (Spitting Image) is touted as a masterpiece. A book by Horowitz (The Professors) is trashed.

  23. Certainly, were a student of mine to turn in a design project where ‘World Book’ was the sole source, I would not consider the project worthy of grading.

    A neighbor sold my parents the World Book Enc. at, I’m sure, a vastly overrated price back around 1960. I eagerly digested it and looked forward to the Yearbook updates.

    I think, I’m sure actually, it had great value to me as a little kid, but yea, I’d look askance at any adult project using only it, or its current day equivalent, as a single source too.

  24. genes said:

    Bill’s right about the bias. A quick look at a couple of entries shows a marked left tilt. Kerry’s entry reads like it was written by his PR firm.

    Then why haven’t you fixed it? Can you edit an MSM article? No. Can you edit a Wikipedia article. Yes. The very good question is why haven’t you edited those Wikipedia articles?

    What’s so hard to grasp about this? You can change the article if you believe it is not from a neutral point of view. Can you do that with the MSM?

    Regards,

    Alfred

  25. ShoreMark, my parents got the Funk and Wagnall’s at the grocery. They came in handy and they were cheap even if you did have to go to the store once a week for 26 weeks. And they are still on the shelf at my Dad’s.

  26. genes:

    The editors of Wikipedia articles are usually passionate about the subject of the article and their bias will most likely show through. If there is a left leaning bias to the articles, the most likely reason is that left leaning editors are the most passionate and most active editors of the article. The only people to fault for this are those armchair editors that complain about the bias yet do nothing to fix it.

    Go for it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Be_bold

    Regards,

    Alfred

  27. The editors of Wikipedia articles are usually passionate about the subject of the article and their bias will most likely show through. If there is a left leaning bias to the articles, the most likely reason is that left leaning editors are the most passionate and most active editors of the article. The only people to fault for this are those armchair editors that complain about the bias yet do nothing to fix it.

    To quote:

    You’ve got to be kidding. Did you really type this? If so, do you really believe this? Do you want to take this back?

    I can’t believe that you consider the process you have described above as being capable of producing any sort of authority or accuracy. In fact, I can’t believe you think “passion” and “activism” have anything at all to do with factuality.

    You’re right about one thing. I shouldn’t have called it a toy encyclopedia. It’s a toy, pure and simple.

  28. Genes, I remember seeing the F&Ws in the grocery stores in those promos.

    I’m pretty sure the World Book set went in a garage sale when my parents moved out of the empty nest, but had they stayed there, I’ve no doubt the volumes would still be resting comfortably in their original spot with a little extra dust on them :-)

  29. Your “rest of the story” has nothing to do with anything that happened at the time.

    You left out

    1. The part of a text or statement that surrounds a particular word or passage and determines its meaning.

    You lying-by-omission shithead. But then, I’d expect no better of your ilk.

    Now, your rampant stupidity is not my problem, fuckwit. Apparently you can’t even read a dictionary for comprehension.

    The context in which I told my tale included the eventual realization of how shamefully wrong I was to have done what I did.

    Of course, for a Lenin-sucking handful of decomposing spew like yourself, that will probably also fly as far over your head as my original post, or my complaints about how you WackyPediaphiles handled it.

    Now if you want to hang around and let the rest of the world watch me slap you around like a little girl, fine, I’ll happily oblige. If not, please feel perfectly free to go back to making up new “encyclopedia” entries.

  30. We had three sets of encyclopedias in our household. The first was designed for young children and full of pictures. We lived on those things. We chewed up all three sets voraciously and they stayed with my parents until … now I’m getting sad. Wikipedia does for me now what those books did for me then. We were never allowed to quote from them in our homework but they were still always the starting point. But they failed to change over decades and so forfeited their usefulness.

    Sorry everybody’s so unhappy with Wikipedia’s unreliability, it’s a shame you don’t take the effort to help get it corrected, although I understand your feelings. I’ll continue to look down the search results for an Wikipedia entry knowing I’m risking stepping into a [battlefield of competing ideologues, is it?] when looking for a specific bit of information. The whole idea of it is brilliant. It’s a shame so many jerks [red-hot leftist (marxist) revolutionaries?] are having a wee on it at its own expense.

  31. Of course, having drawn attention to the flaw, Bill, it has already been expunged from Wikipedia. What can I say that hasn’t already been said? Wikipedia is an experiment – let’s see what happens if you let anyone and everyone edit an encyclopedia. The fact that sometimes somebody would make bad (false or incomplete) entries was understood from the get-go; the theory was that those entries would be expunged. Everyone understands this.

  32. I love how everything that’s wrong with wikipedia is the fault of people who’ve never edited it, not the fault of the people who have.

    Yeah. Funny how that works, Doc. After all, we have nothing better to do in life than traipsing through Wiki editing articles to our liking, only to have the next schmoe coming in behind us editing it to their liking.

    And that’s why it’s not serious. And that’s why Bill is entirely correct in describing it as a toy. Everybody gets to play with it, and is therefore in a constant state of flux. To rely on the accuracy or veracity of Wikipedia is silly because of its very nature. The accurate dissemination of knowledge is not a function of mob rule; ie. pure democracy. It is a result of specific discipline. There must always be an arbiter of what constitutes what becomes considered knowlege, based on certain criteria; education, experience, peer review and so on. Wikipedia is the polar opposite of what constitutes the legitimate furthering of knowledge. It is simply a toy, a curiosity masquerading as profundity, to be played with, usually by whining brats and preening blowhards.

  33. Okay, I wasn’t going to weigh in on this one, but enough is enough. Linky-poo:

    Whether this stuff gets fixed by someone else isn’t the point. This kind of article churn means that, at any given time, any given Wikipedia article has the potential of being moonbat crazy.
    ——
    (Bill, there’s a copy of this in the pending queue, please delete it.)

  34. Wonderful. The entire episode reminds me of Lily Tomlin’s wonderful observation that “reality is just a collective hunch.” In Wikipedia, this idea finds its ultimate expression.

  35. This article has been nominated to be checked for its neutrality.

     
     
     
    Chef Mojo said:

    It is simply a toy, a curiosity masquerading as profundity, to be played with, usually by whining brats and preening blowhards.

    Up until this, you actually had the appearence of someone making a logical and meaningful argument. Alas, you instead are a name caller of the likes of SteveF (who, BTW, shouldn’t use words he doesn’t understand the meaning of).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

    Isn’t it funny how people use name calling to make themselves feel better about not having the slightest idea what they’re talking about?

  36. Isn’t it funny how people use name calling to make themselves feel better about not having the slightest idea what they’re talking about?

    Not always. Sometimes they use it to identify useless fatheads, pompous asses and STMFs (shit-talking mother-f**kers).

    We do that a lot here. Saves time. And it’s fun.

    Rarely do we encounter someone who qualifes for all three appellations, but it’s usually someone with a thin skin and a clear bias that eliminates all possibility of reasonable debate. Sometimes they name themselves after stars, which is appropriate, given that they are flaming gasbags.

  37. nemo paradise, how ironic that you mentioned thin skin. And yes, I am a pompous ass and fathead is probably appropriate too. Funny thing though, chances are good that you and I have very similar political views so make sure you’re not holding a mirror up when throwing out all those complements.

    Here’s the list of Blogs I check every day (and yes, I often end up here):

    Instapundit
    Captain’s Quarters
    Strategy Page
    Gus Van Horn

    Not that I enjoy reading them, but I find that I just can’t get through the day without knowing all the latest goings-on in the Evil Global Halliburton Conspiracy. [citation needed]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evil_Global_Halliburton_Conspiracy [oops, sorry, spoke too soon]

    How ’bout you?

    Alfred

  38. nemo paradise, how ironic that you mentioned thin skin.

    Now, that is something no one has ever called me. I have the hide of a rhino, toughened by decades of exposure to withering fusillades from experts in abuse and vocabularies that would astonish a longshoreman.

    I have no political views, other than a firm conviction that virtually all politicians are complete scoundrels.

    Blogs I frequent? Hmmm…I’ve been going to “Bon Appetit” a lot to check out the latest nonsense from the “low carbon diet” ninnys. Otherwise the list is fairly predictable.

    By way of explanation: protests against ad hominem comments here are traditionally greeted with jeers and a healthy blast of venom, but it’s all in good fun, except when Quick does it. He just does it to show off.

  39. nemo paradise, I am as accustomed as you to irrational verbal onslaughts from, er, moonbats. However, I honestly found it amusing rather than offending that my defense of Wikipedia and the honest editors there were all some folks here needed to jump to an absurd conclusion. Are you guys always on such a hair trigger around here?

    I cut down trees. I skip and jump. I like to press wild flowers. [Citation needed]

    Regards,

    Alfred

  40. Are you guys always on such a hair trigger around here?

    Well, we try to be. Some things get through.

    I think the problem is that your defense of honest editors ran into a swarm of accurate objections to the dishonest ones. Your are entitled to your opinion, but it is at odds with the fundamental unreliability of Wikipedia. I can’t know when I’m reading fact or fiction there; therefore it’s pretty useless to me.

    People do get their backs up easily when they sense condescension; I fear that your early comments, intentionally or not, had a sniff or two of that.

  41. This article does not cite any references or sources.
    Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. (help, get involved!)
    Unverifiable material may be challenged and removed.

     
     
     

    I can’t know when I’m reading fact or fiction there; therefore it’s pretty useless to me.

    There is a series of tabs at the top of each article. One of those tabs is labeled history. Clicking on that allows you see a summary of ‘all’ edits to that article with the most current edits first. Further, you can see what changed on each of those edits.

    Also, there is a tab labeled discussion. On this page, you can see what if any controversial edits are being discussed.

    If you see that there is a lot of ‘churn’ and disagreement among the editors, then you might be lead to believe that this makes Wikipedia useless.

    But, I submit that you’ve missed the fact that the discussion pages and edit summaries are themselves a source of knowledge. You see, even amongst experts, there is disagreement and following a discussion among experts and non-experts alike to reach a consensus on the artcle is itself educational.

    Also, consider the fact that, as new information comes along in the subject field of the article, it is typical to see that new information on Wikipedia before you will find it elsewhere. Certainly before you will find in an any print encyclopedia.

    Nemo, if you think that sounds like too much work then you are correct, Wikipedia is useless to you. However, it does not follow that Wikipedia is useless.

    People do get their backs up easily when they sense condescension; I fear that your early comments, intentionally or not, had a sniff or two of that.

    As you said, I am a pompous asshole. And yes I was being condescending. I do believe that Bill’s remarks come from his ignorance of Wikipedia rather than his experience with it and so far, he has said nothing to change my impression.

    BTW, in an earlier post, you mentioned how little patience you all have with someone who eliminates all possibility of reasonable debate. By definition, a reasonable debate is one where well reasoned arguments are presented by both sides. With one or two exceptions, I have seen little evidence of a well reasoned argument from anyone here. Conversely, I have provided some references and operational details to support my side of the debate.

    Anyhow, I reckon I’ve worn out what little welcome I may have had here so with that, I’ll be on my way.

    Regards to all,

    Alfred

  42. Sorry, one last thing. As a concrete example, see this recent discussion on the discussion page for the Global warming article regarding the software flaw in annual temperature data:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Global_warming#New_NASA_data.3F

    Note the differing opinions, the links that are provided, etc. Is this useless information?

    Did I mention that I’m John Edwards’ love child? If only I knew who my father was… [citation needed]

    Alfred

  43. Cool! My own Wikipedia article. And I’m not even a blogger! If you haven’t done it before, here’s how to start a new article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:Starting_a_new_page

    Of course, as I’m non-notable person [citation needed] [whaddya mean, citation needed, just how obvious does it have to be?] [hey, rules is rules] [you know the sun rises in the East, right?] [citation needed], some admin is bound to come along and put the ‘Alfred Centauri’ article up for speedy delete but that might take a few days so have at it. Lemme know when your done!

    Alfred

  44. Wait a minute — call Barbra Streisand!

    If the tabloid photo I saw yesterday is accurate, I don’t want to be in the same city as her. That tabloid she should sue, it’s one ugly picture.

  45. Alas, you instead are a name caller of the likes of SteveF (who, BTW, shouldn’t use words he doesn’t understand the meaning of).

    Can I eat him, Bill? Can I? C’mon, it’s been a couple of months since I ate a troll.

  46. I would like to add that Wikipedia is a great resource for information on various fictional worlds found in television, movies, and videogames. It is often breathtakingly comprehensive on subjects like Solid Snake, Harry Potter, and LOST.

    Absolutely. Where else would one find out that J.K. Rowling’s husband is a porn star?

    Then why haven’t you fixed it?

    Seeing as how the Kerry hagiography is locked against modification, that would be tricky.

  47. Clayton, sick at home? Perhaps, that explains your apparent lack of comprehension of how utterly foolish you look labeling this neo-Objectivist a moonbat. Typically, moonbats don’t count proponents of limited government, personal responsibility, lassie faire capitalism, and all out war against Islamic fundamentalists amongst their numbers.

    It’s fun reading Clayton wee wee all over himself with glee whilst showing how little he actually understands so please, don’t let me interrupt, continue.

    This is, of course, precisely the standard Wikipedia demands of its editors. [citation needed]

    Alfred

  48. Note the differing opinions, the links that are provided, etc. Is this useless information?

    Why yes, useless as any information that can be changed to suit your point of view, regardless of the truth.

    Calling wiki a toy is being kind.

  49. I hate to disappoint you, Alfred — well, actually, no, I don’t — but you’re talking to the real thing. The mutual admiration society at ARI would disagree, of course.

    And it took you a long time to notice. I gave your comments the Wikipedia workover shortly after I posted the notice about the experiment. It’s not the full Wikipedia treatment, though: For that, I’d just delete all your new comments, ban your ass, and make you look even more stupid. My standards are much higher, though, which is why your words are unchanged (I didn’t even correct “complements”) and all my modifications are obvious. Understand, though, there is nothing you can say here on which I cannot and will not have the last word, right on top of your effort, no matter how well-grounded and unanswerable it may be: this being thoroughly in accord with Wikipedia practice.

    And I’ve been an editor at Wikipedia for years. As thoroughly infested as it is with leftist true believers, though, there’s no point in trying.

  50. I confess, I am a contributor to Wikipedia. Mainly in Electrical Engineering, Physics, and occasionally, Objectivism. So, there you go.

    BTW, I consider the gravest threat to the USA and our individual liberties to be religious fundamentalism followed closely by the idea that health care is a natural right. I hold the following principle to be self-evident: The fact that a person exists does not entitle that person to the labor and/or wealth of any other person.

    Funny, I would have thought that some of you had similar views. My bad.

    Agree with me about Wikipedia, or I’ll pout. [citation needed]

    Later,

    Alfred

  51. TW, I consider the gravest threat to the USA and our individual liberties to be religious fundamentalism followed closely by the idea that health care is a natural right. I hold the following principle to be self-evident: The fact that a person exists does not entitle that person to the labor and/or wealth of any other person.

    Funny, I would have thought that some of you had similar views. My bad.

    As a matter of fact, you will find many here who agree with those views, at least in part. Although, even though I am an atheist, the only religious fundamentalists I find threatening are of the Islamist stripe. But, objectively speaking, what on earth does that have to do with the value of Wiki as a dependable source of accurate knowledge?

    Are you a big Ron Paul fan, too?

  52. Alfred, I think I see the problem here. You’re a geek. I don’t mean that in any opprobrious sense, but geeks tend to get unnaturally wedded to their toys and enthusiasms.

    You seem to have developed geek love for Wiki, and it blinds you to reality – bad news for a self-professed objectivist. Remember, the map is not the territory.

    The shaky gimcrackery construct that is Wiki seems perfectly reasonable to you. Why, sure, the average person should have no problem in going to WikiPedia, reading an article, then drawing on his vast experience in order to evaluate how much of the article is crap, and how much isn’t, then taking five days to sign up, correct the crap, pat himself on the back, and then return a week later to find a fresh load of new crap, and his own contribution erased by somebody who lists cites to “the voice of the dog in my head.”

    One of my favorite geeks, David Gilles, our foreign editor here (who hasn’t chimed in yet, probably because he hasn’t seen this) said something the other day that exemplified your attitude exactly. I’ve been struggling for some weeks with switching all my machines over to Linux, and I made the mistake of bitching that I couldn’t find a native Linux card game that met my special needs.

    David posted, “We in the Linux world, when a program doesn’t work the way we want it to, open it up and rewrite it until it does.”

    He was joking – halfway – but a deep Linux geek wouldn’t be joking at all, and moreover, would be deeply wounded if you told him he was nuts.

    You’re that way about Wiki, and so naturally you’re defensive when I tell you the damned thing is useless for anybody but the most specialized, motivated, and knowledgable user.

    As a toy it is useful for giving geeks something to obsess over, especially since Usenet is no longer the haven it once was. But in a sane society, it would be considered intellectual porn, and access to it would be barred for those under the age of majority, lest they actually read and believe some of the tripe they find there.

    By the way, there are still errors in my entry, and I have no intention of correcting them. They will stand as a monument that demonstrates why no serious person should expend any time on Wiki at all.

  53. Apparently, proponent of Wikipedia implies John Kerry loving moonbat here.

    It’s the sort of horseback estimate that rational people use to make their way through life. Not every journalist in the NYT newsroom is a liberal, although you’d probably be smart to bet that way.

    Who knows? Maybe some intrepid grad student will survey the 100 most prolific contributors to Wiki and determine their ideological leanings.

    I’m pretty sure I can guess those of the guy who originally created my entry.

  54. Clayton, when you hack up my comments I wonder how old you are. Typically, rational adults make arguments like this:

    “I believe Wikipedia is useless because of xyz. To support these claims, I offer the following (references, anecdotes, etc.)”

    Don’t you agree?

    I’m still clueless. [citation needed]

    Alfred

  55. Others will give a practical demonstration. You got the principled argument at the top of the thread from many different commenters, and it didn’t make a dent, so obviously a different approach is indicated. If you think it’s childish, well, that’s no reflection on me: I’m just according your efforts here the same treatment and respect they would obtain on the system you’re trying to defend.

  56. Alfred, I think I see the problem here. You’re a geek.

    Guilty as charged.

    You seem to have developed geek love for Wiki, and it blinds you to reality

    I do love the idea of Wikipedia but this recent entry I made on a discussion page should dispel any notion that I am blinded to the reality of the problems with Wikipedia:

    No, it’s that edits never stand and that’s the way Wikipedia works by design. Wikipedia is a living document and every Tom, Dick, and Harry that has learned just enough about a subject to think that he is an expert will edit this article and every other article here. Go ahead and make a stand and move to an RFC. Then, check back on this article every so often to see if there is any evidence remaining of all your trouble. Are you starting to get the picture now? Alfred Centauri 03:08, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

    And I too know of several very qualified editors that have declared Wikipedia a failure and left. One day, I may agree with them but, from my perspective, the experiment isn’t over yet. I continue to mantain that the fact that you find Wikipedia useless does not imply that Wikipedia is useless. To suggest otherwise is simply illogical.

    BTW, thank you for your thoughtful comments.

    For I’m little buttercup, sweet little buttercup. Whoops! [citation needed]

    Regards,

    Alfred

  57. Clayton, please point out the many principled arguments at the top of this thread. Also, here’s a test to see if you’re paying attention. What is my argument?

    Because unless someone rubs my nose in it for a while, I can’t even see it, and I certainly won’t learn to stop doing it. [citation needed]

    Alfred

  58. Just makin’ a point. And the intent was to be way over the top – didn’t want anyone to be fooled for more than half a second into thinking the original Alfred C had written it.

  59. That Wikipedia is a load of crap?

    Clayton, you’re right! I don’t know how I could’ve missed it! Wikipedia is load of crap. A model of principled argumentation that certainly demolishes any arguments to the contrary. Such succinct elegance and style! Game over, Alfred – you might as well say goodnight.

    I can’t even read. [citation needed]

    Goodnight.

  60. And it took you a long time to notice. I gave your comments the Wikipedia workover shortly after I posted the notice about the experiment. It’s not the full Wikipedia treatment, though: For that, I’d just delete all your new comments, ban your ass, and make you look even more stupid. My standards are much higher, though, which is why your words are unchanged (I didn’t even correct “complements”) and all my modifications are obvious. Understand, though, there is nothing you can say here on which I cannot and will not have the last word, right on top of your effort, no matter how well-grounded and unanswerable it may be: this being thoroughly in accord with Wikipedia practice.

    And I’ve been an editor at Wikipedia for years. As thoroughly infested as it is with leftist true believers, though, there’s no point in trying.

    For some odd reason, most of your hacks and especially, the quoted text above (excepting the ‘it took a long time for you to notice’ which did seem odd to me at the time) did not show up in my browser all at once. The quote above has just come to my attention.

    Sorry to hear that you’re experience was so difficult at Wikipedia. My experience has not been like that but then again, I probably don’t edit the types of articles you did. Now, I finally ‘get’ why you and others here assumed I was a moonbat simply because I am proponent of Wikipedia. Of course, you all were as utterly wrong in that judgement of me as I was as utterly wrong to assume that my experience at Wikipedia is more or less universal. Please accept my apologies for my error in reasoning in this regard

    Clayton was really tempted to leave this one alone, letting Alfred’s words stand unmolested despite the fact that he hasn’t yet toed the line, which just goes to show that Clayton would never make it as an editor at Wikipedia. [citation needed]

    Regards,

    Alfred

  61. For some odd reason, most of your hacks and especially, the quoted text above (excepting the ‘it took a long time for you to notice’ which did seem odd to me at the time) did not show up in my browser all at once.

    Certainly. I’ve been editing my own comments all over the place as well, whenever I saw fit. If you’ve found them difficult to address, well, that’s because they’ve been moving targets: which is, again, the Wikipedia standard.

    By the way, Alfred, if all works well, I left you a present.

  62. Certainly. I’ve been editing my own comments all over the place as well, whenever I saw fit. If you’ve found them difficult to address, well, that’s because they’ve been moving targets: which is, again, the Wikipedia standard.

    As you are well aware, right below the edit box on Wikipedia is the statement:

    “If you don’t want your writing to be edited mercilessly or redistributed for profit by others, do not submit it.”

    But that’s not your real beef with Wikipedia as I understand it.

    Damn, it didn’t work. Try again. “Life! Give my creature… life!” [citation needed]

  63. No, it’s that edits never stand and that’s the way Wikipedia works by design. Wikipedia is a living document

    If you knew how most of us here feel about the notion that the US Constitution as a “living document,” you’d have a glimmer as to how I feel about the usefulness of a self-claimed repository of knowledge that actually is such a thing.

  64. Clayton: Wikipedia editors generally fall into four broad classes:

    (1) Vandals
    (2) Well meaning but confused editors
    (3) Knowledgable but neutral editors
    (4) Knowledgable defenders of the truth

    But, type 4 editors invariably are extremely critical of Wikipedia even though this is well known official policy:

    The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. “Verifiable” in this context means that any reader should be able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source. Editors should provide a reliable source for quotations and for any material that is challenged or is likely to be challenged, or it may be removed.

    Objectively speaking, there is an absolute truth to be discovered by rational men with the faculty of reason but that high standard would not make for much of an encyclopedia for the simple reason that our knowledge is, and will continue to be, imperfect. Thus, while it is true (and verifiable) that General Relativity is the best description of gravitation that we have now, most if not all physicists do not believe it is the truth. If the standard for inclusion in Wikipedia were the truth, much of our current knowledge of the universe would be excluded.

    This is the comment Alfred tried to add earlier, that got screwed up due to the code above. [citation needed]

    And if you can figure out what’s wrong with the previous paragraph, Alfred, you’ll have a pretty good idea of one thing, at least, that has made the Wikipedia “experiment” a failure. [citation needed]

  65. OK, I removed it. It wasn’t supposed to prevent him from commenting. Here’s what it was:

    // CDJ 08/16/2007 — The “Alfred Centauri” bot
    if (($commentdata['comment_author_IP'] == “72.148.204.187″) && ($commentdata['comment_post_ID'] == 27261))
    {
        $commentdata['comment_author'] = “Alfred Centauri [citation needed]“;
        $taunt = “<center>This is automatically-generated content<br />”
            . “from a <i>Daily Pundit</i> watch-bot.<br />”
            . “Clayton is busy right now,<br />”
            . “but he didn’t want you to feel ignored,<br />”
            . “so he whomped me up<br />”
            . “to take care of you in his absence,<br />”
            . “just like they do at Wikipedia.<br />”
            . “Until he can get back to you,<br />”
            . “please accept this computer-generated taunt.</center>\n”
            . “&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;<br />\n”;
        $commentdata['comment_content'] = $taunt . $commentdata['comment_content'];
    }

    As written, it would trigger only on his IP address, and only if he commented on this thread, throwing the message in at the begining of the comment text. He commented once after I first installed it, and it didn’t trigger (my first draft had $comment_data instead of $commentdata), so I fixed it and told him to try again.

    My apologies, Alfred, if you’ve been trying to comment here and haven’t been able. Please let me know if that has been the case, and I’ll see what I can do to recover it. As I’ve mentioned before on this thread, this isn’t Wikipedia; you have to do a lot more than not toe the editorial line here before we cut you off. The problem is, I don’t have a test bed; the only way I can try out new code is to throw it into production and see if it works, being prepared to back it out in a hurry if it doesn’t.

  66. Well, no, maybe mildly amusing the first time. I doubt, though, that Alfred saw it: As the WordPress add-new-comment code is written, by the time it gets to the point where I inserted the code above, there’s no longer an option of showing the user a message without also posting it as a comment. Probably what Alfred saw, then, was a PHP error message.

    I’m digging through the feedback log right now.

  67. The result that I got when I tried to post this morning was a quite lengthy MySQL error message to the effect of ‘can’t modify header’. It also contained the $taunt string concatenated with the text of my comment but I didn’t catch it at first – I just thought it was a glitch so I tried again and nearly spewed a mouth full of grape-nuts through my nose when I saw the ‘…whomped me up…’ buried in the error message.

    No worries mate, I thought it was a sublime bit of prickery even if – and perhaps because – it didn’t work quite as expected.

    Then it wasn’t what I was thinking: MySQL uses single-quoted strings, and it was complaining about the unescaped apostrophe in “didn’t”. Oops… [citation needed]

  68. Pingback: Good thing we have mainstream journalists… « DaTechguy’s Blog

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