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Education The Media

Wikipedia For Schools DVD Released 132

Posted by timothy
from the nothing-naughty dept.
David Gerard writes "SOS Children's Villages has released the 2008/9 Wikipedia Selection for Schools5500 checked and reviewed articles matching the English National Curriculum, produced by SOS for use in their own schools in developing countries. The 2007 edition was a huge success, with distributions to schools in four countries, use by the Hole in the Wall education project, thousands of downloads and disks and around 6000 unique IPs a day visiting the online version — the most successful end-user distribution version of Wikipedia to date."
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Wikipedia For Schools DVD Released

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  • 14,000 not 6,000 (Score:5, Informative)

    by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot@@@davidgerard...co...uk> on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @05:56PM (#25475157) Homepage
    Just after I submitted this, Andrew Cates from SOS Children's Villages corrected the hits on the site - it was actually 14,000 a day, not 6,000!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Frosty Piss (770223)

      Just after I submitted this, Andrew Cates from SOS Children's Villages corrected the hits on the site - it was actually 14,000 a day, not 6,000!

      {{fact}}

      Also, no original research, please.

      • Just for you: [citation needed] in popular culture [wikipedia.org].
      • by BozMo (1104413)
        Have a look at the traffic page on Alexa (http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details/schools-wikipedia.org) then. You can even compare with other Wikipedia spin offs as an Alexa graph and see how many weeks ago the online schools wikipedia overtook Citi*****.org
        • by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot@@@davidgerard...co...uk> on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:27PM (#25475531) Homepage
          To be fair, the Schools Wikipedia will be gaining popularity from being a Wikipedia distro, whereas Citizendium is a separate project. One that's proceeding quite well and methodically. Despite some personality clashes, Wikipedia and CZ are fundamentally on the same side: to make good, free educational content available to the world. Everyone wins.
          • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

            by M1rth (790840)

            I've read this blog [livejournal.com]. I know how wikipedia works.

            Or rather... how it doesn't work at all.

            The worst thing you could do is feed the Wikipedia brand of nonsense to kids as "educational" material. Might as well give them a set of unshielded wires and an electric socket and tell them to learn about electricity. And it's not just the situations this Parker Peters describes above: you people fuck up [blogspot.com] on a pretty regular [wikitruth.info] basis.

            Well? I'm not comfortable knowing an "encyclopedia" infested with this kind of behavior is

            • by Cassius Corodes (1084513) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @07:02PM (#25475939)
              Your post is non-NPV, and uses blogs as sources. Please edit the PV, and find Verifiable sources or it will be reverted.
              • by MrZaius (321037)

                Policy statements and guidelines are not subject to the rules you mention and are subject to IAL. Kiss it.

            • You know, they actually did a study. There is a *far* lower error rate on wikipedia than, say, the encyclopedia brittanica. Odd, yes, but true.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by owlnation (858981)

                You know, they actually did a study. There is a *far* lower error rate on wikipedia than, say, the encyclopedia brittanica. Odd, yes, but true.

                Truthy, not true. Odd no, manipulated yes. As pointed out above, two random anonymous guys from Wikipedia disproved the research. If you trust that, you are the wikipedia target market.

                P.S. I have some amazing Nevada seafront property for sale at a bargain price, interested?

                • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @09:35PM (#25477371) Homepage

                  you seem a little confused [slashdot.org].

                  there's nothing wrong with getting your info from Wikipedia if you understand the nature of your media source. there are several different approaches to Wikipedia info, but they primarily fall into 3 groups:

                  • the most common type are the casual internet surfer. they take everything at face value and make no distinction between a blog post and an edited news article. to them truth is whatever they read (first).
                  • then there are the Wikipedia skeptics. if it's not written by a traditional paid publication, they don't trust it. in reality they're not much more discerning than the casual user; they just accept what the Mainstream Media says/prints at face value. to them truth is what the Washington Post/Britannica/CNN/Newsweek says it is.
                  • lastly, there are the media omnivores. they get their information from a wide variety of sources--professional/personal blogs, independent media, social news aggregators(Slashdot, digg, del.ico.us, etc.), Reuters/BBC/The New Yorker/etc., science journals, academic publications, and anything else that comes along (e.g. ArsTechnica, New Scientist, Answers.com/Wikipedia/Britannica, etc.). they will generally get their information from a wide variety of media sources to account for the inherent biases of each source. they also understand how Wikipedia works and follow the citation links to verify the info they read. being more astute media consumers, they actually try to make an effort to dig deeper rather than taking what they read at face value--regardless of whether it's Britannica, Wikipedia, or Joe Schmoe's blog.

                  if you're not a discerning person, it doesn't matter whether you get your info from Britannica or Wikipedia, both have about the same level of accuracy, though Wikipedia generally has fewer errors by volume. despite the air of superiority they put on, group #2 is simply deluding themselves by attributing a false sense of accuracy to commercial publications while dismissing collaborative editing off-hand. group #3 is at least objective enough to recognize that all media sources have errors and biases because their authors are all human. by accessing a diverse range of media sources and verifying published information, they have an easier time obtaining accurate info and are less susceptible to misinformation.

                  • by jedidiah (1196)

                    Get a grip. It's an encyclopedia.

                    Take it for what it's really worth.

                    This is like weenies that get disappointed with a Lucas sequel
                    because they start making his movies out to be something more
                    than what they are (well dressed B movies).

                    Read an older copy of Britannica. It will help put things into perspective.

                • by mdwh2 (535323)

                  pointed out above, two random anonymous guys from Wikipedia disproved the research. If you trust that, you are the wikipedia target market.

                  No, I evaluate my trust based on the sources it links to. It's Wikipedia critics who seem to trust any old hearsay that someone randomly post on a blog/forum, or anything written in the mainstream media, whilst strangely distrusting everything they read in Wikipedia.

                  And the target market of "people who trust what they read" is, rightly or wrongly, just about everyone. Th

            • by retchdog (1319261)

              Well, if any other encyclopedia had an entry on overstock.com, you might have a point here.

            • It is interesting that you find blogs (which is what you used to back your claim) more accurate than the wikipedia.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by David Gerard (12369)
                That's because he wrote them.
            • Ok. Who mismodded this post? It points out some real faults in Wikipedia that give severe concern for the quality of the product being produced.
    • From the http://schools-wikipedia.org/ [schools-wikipedia.org] home page:

      This list of articles was then manually sorted for relevance to children, and adult topics were removed.

      and

      Wikipedia is not necessarily a childsafe environment, has "adult" content.

      What exactly are the "adult" contents that were removed? Does this mean things like historical articles referencing war and dictators. I was half thinking about finding a copy for myself to download, but I don't know what the criteria is for censoring an encyclopedia.

  • by pwnies (1034518) * <j@jjcm.org> on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:07PM (#25475299) Homepage Journal
    That schools will use this, which has no sources cited on the pages themselves, no list of authors who contributed, no history, and only the backing of the SOS peeps; when many schools wont allow research to be done on wikipedia itself which has the authority of the sources itself to back it. Odd.
    • by Conception (212279) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:12PM (#25475345)

      Well, when your choices are no education and free but perhaps not perfectly accurate education, I think most of the world's poor would choose the latter for their children.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sponge Bath (413667)

        If the children are taught critical thinking, they will be aware that any source has the possibility of errors, just as any theory may be improved or disproved.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by couchslug (175151)

        "Well, when your choices are no education and free but perhaps not perfectly accurate education, I think most of the world's poor would choose the latter for their children."

        Next step, Encyclopedia Dramatica for schools. :)

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Kid: "Today I learned that Hitler did it for the lulz"

        • by u38cg (607297)
          The funny thing is, that whenever I have been forced to consult it to understand what the hell the latest meme is, I usually find the avergage ED article better written and more accurate than the average Wikipedia article.
      • by spintriae (958955)
        I just wonder what these kids are gonna do with all that pointless trivia about Star Wars and The Simpsons.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by LandDolphin (1202876)
      I don't see why they wouldn't. The SOS people have verified the accuracy of the information versus a standard and it seems that this is being targeted towards schools is need. And while we all might agree that the schools in the US are in needs, it seems that this might be targeted towards schools in far more need then the US's.
    • by BozMo (1104413)
      Interestingly I don't think the sources or lack of them is as much an issue for schools as the ability of pupils to add material about their teachers and the ability of the Random Page button to return a page which would make you cover your kids eyes. The problem with including sources is that then you have to check sources as well as content and life is too short.
    • by M1rth (790840) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:29PM (#25475549)

      when many schools wont allow research to be done on wikipedia itself which has the authority of the sources itself to back it

      Actually, Wikipedia has:
      - Cherry-picked sources
      - Quotations taken out of context
      - Redundantly sourced crap (sources that turn out later to have themselves been sourced from... wikipedia).
      - NO way to fix any of these if an administrator or "consensus" of kooks sets up shop on a particular page and decides to edit-war en masse and proclaim that real, authoritative sources counter to their POV are "not reliable."

      I encourage you to see how wikipedia really works [livejournal.com]. Spend a few hours reading the blog of a former Wikipedia administrator who saw how it was from the inside out.

      Here's a great start [livejournal.com].

      Go on. I dare you. Read about the REAL wikipedia. And then realize that this horribly written stuff is going to be fed to schoolkids as an example of "researched" material.

      You scared yet? I certainly am.

      • Parker Peters is a long-running troll (commonly known as Enviroknot or ElKabong) and has never been a Wikipedia admin in any shape or form.
        • by M1rth (790840)

          Suuuure. Lie some more please.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Moryath (553296)

          This is your best defense?

          You can't answer the questions that were posed, so instead you start accusing people of being trolls?

          I would have thought a high-ranking member of Wikipedia could behave in better fashion. This kind of behavior shows us that Peters was right all along about you.

      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by Moryath (553296)

        Ordinarily I wouldn't bother with some of this.

        However, I read the posts and then compared the behavior of David Gerard (on here) with the behavior reported by Parker Peters and the behavior of wikipedia administrators in the cases cited.

        As far as I can tell, Peters is right. David Gerard and the rest of Wikipedia's crowd behave as a small-minded individuals who cannot carry on a discussion, can't actually hold an argument, but simply argue by way of accusing people of being "trolls" and make ridiculous acc

      • by mdwh2 (535323)

        Yes that's right. Let's believe that Wikipedia is flawed, based on a rant written by some random guy on his LiveJournal!

        The fact that he insults with "their toady suck-ups" shows what his real agenda is. His points make no sense - are you seriously suggesting that allowing sockpuppets on Wikipedia is a good thing? It sounds like a classic case of someone whining because he didn't get his way. If you want somewhere to write your own stuff - get a blog. And then tell me how the accuracy and bias of random blo

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Taxman415a (863020)

        when many schools wont allow research to be done on wikipedia itself which has the authority of the sources itself to back it

        Actually, Wikipedia has: - Cherry-picked sources - Quotations taken out of context - Redundantly sourced crap (sources that turn out later to have themselves been sourced from... wikipedia).

        Ok, so fix that with better sources, that's how it's supposed to work. Nobody said it was perfect.

        - NO way to fix any of these if an administrator or "consensus" of kooks sets up shop on a particular page and decides to edit-war en masse and proclaim that real, authoritative sources counter to their POV are "not reliable."

        Well it's really easy to refute this since these types of things get fixed all the time. Certainly one admin cannot proclaim a source isn't good enough and keep it out and you know that, but you're choosing to distort the situation. If one admin acts against the consensus then others can easily come in and reverse that admin. Not that that needs to happen much since there isn't much that admins can do to enfor

        • by Moryath (553296)

          Ok, so fix that with better sources, that's how it's supposed to work. Nobody said it was perfect.

          This is impossible when you have an organized "consensus" of people who coordinate their efforts to keep certain reliable sources that don't fit their particular bias out.

          Well it's really easy to refute this since these types of things get fixed all the time.

          Error: [Citation Needed]

          Certainly one admin cannot proclaim a source isn't good enough and keep it out and you know that, but you're choosing to distort t

          • by swillden (191260)

            If you see a lot of that kind of crap on Wikipedia, it's because you're looking at the pages that simply wouldn't be in a traditional encyclopedia at all.

            If you confine your focus to topics that are in the traditional encyclopedic realm, where facts are abundant, easily supported and non-controversial, the Wikipedia articles are almost universally excellent from a factual perspective, and are usually reasonably well-written, too.

          • Not sure why I'm replying because it's really obvious from your writing why you have so much difficulty on Wikipedia. It's your methods, not everybody else. It's really not very hard to be productive on Wikipedia and not get blocked even on the most controversial topics, you just have to be able to behave.

            This is impossible when you have an organized "consensus" of people who coordinate their efforts to keep certain reliable sources that don't fit their particular bias out.

            If this happens most likely
      • by b0bby (201198)

        Have you looked at what's being discussed here? The Schools Wikipedia is a subset of the real Wikipedia, which has gone through a further level of vetting. This is all pretty basic stuff, and from what I've seen it's all reasonably accurate. I have it set as one of the 10 or so sites my elementary school-aged children can visit. Are there likely inaccuracies? Sure. Do I think that the positive aspects of having such an age appropriate resource easily available outweighs that? Most definitely. And the more t

    • That schools will use this, which has no sources cited on the pages themselves, no list of authors who contributed, no history, and only the backing of the SOS peeps

      The schools that will be using this, in many cases, are operated by "the SOS peeps", which is why they put it together in the first place.

      With that fact in mind, suddenly it becomes less surprising that those schools would use it based on the backing of "the SOS peeps".

    • I find it interesting that schools will use this ... when many schools wont allow research to be done on wikipedia itself

      Are you saying that you think schools which will not allow students to cite wikipedia as a primary reference are the very same schools which will allow students to cite the SOS distribution of wikipedia as a primary reference? On what basis do you make that claim?

    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      Out of interest, do schools require this information from all textbook publishers? Full list of sources, full list of authors who contributed?

      I agree it's unclear why they chose to strip the sources - though I don't recall any school textbook I ever saw having references.

  • use by the Hole in the Wall education project [wikipedia.org]

    There, fixed that for you. Now someone go write the article.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:17PM (#25475409) Homepage Journal

    I'd love to see more sites online that do something like this SOS edition did. That is, a mirrored subset of Wikipedia, with every page in the mirror checked and maybe corrected by its host. That way, people can check with their preferred authority(ies) whether to accept what they see in "the" Wikipedia. While leaving Wikipedia itself standalone, "caveat emptor", for anyone to check on their own the usual ways.

    A really good implementation would link from the "master" Wikipedia out to each "approving" site's copy of it. And a really good system would incorporate quality revisions in the downstream sites back upstream to the master Wikipedia.

    This SOS edition is a step in that direction.

    • This is actually much closer to the intended idea of Wikipedia - that it would be raw material for others to use. Rather than wikipedia.org itself being horribly, expensively popular [alexa.com] as people access the live working rough draft and then complain that CVS HEAD contains bugs. Oh well. You get the userbase you get, not the userbase you first thought of.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's an obvious win for OLPC's XO laptop to also have a standalone chunk of wikipedia that kids can browse offline. Their wiki has some discussion on different approaches [laptop.org] to selecting stuff for inclusion. One is to use article traffic statistics [stats.grok.se], but apparently that weighs too heavily toward pop-culture. Another method is to combine those stats with three other factors -- "Importance rating by WikiProject, Number of internal links into the page, Number of interwiki versions of the article (i.e., other la

  • Further reading (Score:4, Informative)

    by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot@@@davidgerard...co...uk> on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:57PM (#25475889) Homepage
    Wikinews coverage [wikinews.org].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @07:19PM (#25476157)

    notabillity and actually include articles that people actually want. Wikipedia claims to be combatting systemic bias but deletes articles as "not notable" because their deletionists admins don't like it.

    For example it has the South Park episode about Tourettes Syndrome [wikipedia.org] but does not have an article about Tourettes Guy despite having 221,000 hits on Google.

    Also it censors fan's of YuGiOh the abridged series yet has has about 24 articles about the video games. Use Google Knol instead, it dosen't have notabillity policies.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @07:52PM (#25476533)
      I don't think you can compare the YuGiOh parody youtube series, darling of TV Tropes though it may be, with the multi-million selling series of videogames that spawned that cartoon that spawned the dub that spawned said parody, and say that both are obviously worthy of inclusion. Likewise a South Park episode which provoked media commentary, broadcaster censorship, and a statement from Tourettes' organisations is surely in a different ballpark from a Youtube video whose only discernable public reaction is people talking about it on bebo and web forums (going by that Google search you cite).

      At any rate, I think we'll both agree that "it has a lot of google hits" is a moronic criterion for a subject's worthiness of mention, and moronic inclusion/exclusion criteria are what Wikipedia sorely needs to deal with. My rule of thumb is how much has been said about a subject. I mean, if there are 400 newspaper articles discussing the Humanist Alliance's bus advertisements, there's probably going to be more "meat" there to convey to the reader than 200,000 Youtube comments pages and web forum posts. However Wikipedia's policies have grown rather ad hoc rather than having any rules like this and it really needs a stronger, sent-from-above statement in terms of what it will include. It's sad but until someone says "Wikipedia will have articles that meet X, Y, and Z", everyone is going to argue it's unfair, and clearly (going by the sort of "Wikinazis" commentary on the go) nobody is actually willing to sit down and hammer out these rules as a community. (Arguably that last point stems from people's assumption that Wikipedia editing can be performed without engaging with debate with actual human beings, but that's a whole nother argument.)
    • When is wikipedia going to stop being a cult of notabillity and actually include articles that people actually want.

      You are assuming that the content of an encyclopedia should be determined by popular demand, not reliable secondary sources.

  • ... developed countries' schools disdain Wikipedia (for the wrong reason- it should not be cited because it is an encyclopedia- the reason many give that "it can be edited by anyone" is irrelevant).

    That's why we're giving it to developing countries. Hand-me-downs!
  • Hole in the Wall education project?

    Nothing more I can say. That's pretty damn gay. Pretty damn gay...

  • "checked and reviewed articles"

    Wikipedia has ben criticized for many things, for being full of trivial minutiæ, to having more errors, to being a possible source of circular references. while you may, or may not agree with those claims, the fact is that the articles where "checked and reviewed" (one can only hope that the people who did the "checking and reviewing" were qualified).

    If that is the case, then welcome, this is a GREAT tool for teaching at a low cost with very little overhead!

    Kudos guys!

  • I cannot find the torrent
  • by justinlee37 (993373) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:10AM (#25479159)

    Wikipedia is an excellent springboard for research. While citing Wikipedia itself is a major no-no for a few reasons (A, the content of the website can change, rendering your quotation non-existent, and B, you'll be laughed out of the room by your professor/review board/whatever), you can read Wikipedia's references, verify that they say what Wikipedia says they said, and then cite that source in your paper. Voila!

    Wikipedia might not be a credible source, but it cites credible sources. Use Wikipedia to find credible sources, and then cite those.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mdwh2 (535323)

      Note that you could say exactly the same thing with the word "Wikipedia" replaced with any encyclopedia.

      the content of the website can change

      No it can't, not if you cite properly and link to the static version.

      • No it can't, not if you cite properly and link to the static version.

        Good point. I forgot about that feature where Wikipedia keeps a history of all changes.

        But is there any reason you'd want to? Having a long, nasty-looking URL on your works cited page doesn't really lend itself to a "professional appearance."

        Better to use the internet to narrow down your in-print sources, and then cite the in-print version.

        I am often amused by the image of one of my professors digging around in the library archives for s

  • Such a shame to see Wikipaedia being associated with the national curriculum - brought in by the Tories to make sure that schools didn't teach anything that departed from the government line.
  • I hope they are running Wiki directly from CDs. There are some web servers for running sites from CDs, some of them even allow to start web server and php, perl, python, java server-side scripts directly from the same cd [stunnix.com] on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.

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