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Why Wikipedia Articles Vary So Much In Quality 160

Posted by kdawson
from the shoulder-to-shoulder dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "A new study shows that the patterns of collaboration among Wikipedia contributors directly affect the quality of an article. 'These collaboration patterns either help increase quality or are detrimental to data quality,' says Sudha Ram at the University of Arizona. Wikipedia has an internal quality rating system for entries, with featured articles at the top, followed by A, B, and C-level entries. Ram and graduate student Jun Liu randomly collected 400 articles at each quality level. 'We used data mining techniques and identified various patterns of collaboration based on the provenance or, more specifically, who does what to Wikipedia articles,' says Ram. The researchers identified seven specific roles that Wikipedia contributors play (PDF starting on page 175): Casual Contributor, Starter, Cleaner, Copy Editor, Content Justifier, Watchdog, and All-round Editor. Starters, for example, create sentences but seldom engage in other actions. Content justifiers create sentences and justify them with resources and links. The all-round contributors perform many different functions. 'We then clustered the articles based on these roles and examined the collaboration patterns within each cluster to see what kind of quality resulted,' says Ram. 'We found that all-round contributors dominated the best-quality entries. In the entries with the lowest quality, starters and casual contributors dominated.'"
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Why Wikipedia Articles Vary So Much In Quality

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  • Really? (Score:5, Funny)

    by d34dluk3 (1659991) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @04:44PM (#31383274)
    Articles written by experienced people with a wide array of skills are stronger than those written by novices? Never could have guessed.
    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 06, 2010 @05:01PM (#31383404)

      Also updates vary. For example:

      Christina_Applegate [wikipedia.org]

      Current career

      Applegate starred in the ABC comedy, Samantha Who?, until it was canceled on May 18, 2009. The series costarred Jean Smart, Jennifer Esposito, and Melissa McCarthy. The series was about a 30-year-old who, after a hit-and-run accident, develops amnesia and has to rediscover her life, her relationships, and herself.[9] Shortly after the cancellation was announced, Applegate began a campaign to get the show back into production,[10] which was unsuccessful.

      Applegate will play Elizabeth Montgomery of Bewitched fame, who died of colorectal cancer, in the upcoming film Everything Is Going to Be Just Fine, due to be released in 2009.

      In January 2009, Applegate appeared with her TV brother David Faustino (Bud Bundy from Married with Children) in an episode of Faustino's show Starving.[11]

      Within two lines of each other, one article is talking about the future tense in 2009 and the past tense in 2009. Anyone editing the article as a whole would notice this. When, however, you have people editing piece by piece, simple mistakes can be made like that.

      Also, it doesn't help that I am too lazy to edit the changes myself. Leave it up to the snobby community. I've tried to contribute before, it was the last time I made that mistake.

      • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 06, 2010 @05:11PM (#31383480)

        Because 90% of Wikipedia is dead. People drive-by now and then and drop in a sentence or fix a spelling error, but for the most part nobody is editing the articles unless it's a politically contentious topic.

        The fun part was writing the articles in the first place, now phase is over, nobody wants to be Wikipedia's janitorial crew and deal with the super-aspbergers that populate that place. Which is why Wikipedia is doomed to a slow bit-rot into irrelevance.

        • by fyngyrz (762201) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @05:27PM (#31383636) Homepage Journal

          You can easily have an extremely high quality, 100% accurate and in-depth Wikipedia article without a single external reference. Therefore, the entire analysis is bullshit.

          Which is about what I've come to expect from anything that tries to meta Wikipedia.

          It's a mish-mosh. As long as article creation and revision is open, it will remain one. Legitimate attempts to characterize any article's quality can only be done by a true expert in the subject matter at hand, if one can even be found. Which is why Wikipedia's resident pedants utterly foul up so many excellent contributions.

          A-, B- and C-class articles, my ass.

          • by Homburg (213427) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @05:59PM (#31383876) Homepage

            You can easily have an extremely high quality, 100% accurate and in-depth Wikipedia article without a single external reference.

            No, you can't. Without references, a reader has no way of knowing whether the article is accurate or not; and an editor who writes an article who is unfamiliar with the references that could be cited is unlikely to be sufficiently knowledgeable to genuinely produce a high-quality article.

            • by jbolden (176878) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @07:18PM (#31384452) Homepage

              Take a look at the math articles. Heck most of the original content like episodes of BattleStar Galactica, information about cartoon characters or fringe political movements didn't have high quality references. Wikipedia built itself by specializing in materials for which only so / so or no references existed. Articles on wikipedia were higher quality that the same material on the same topics anywhere else.

            • by owlnation (858981) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @10:04PM (#31385654)

              Yes , you can . However Without references, a reader has no way of knowing whether the article is accurate or not

              Fixed that for you. If wikipedia allowed users to volunteer to sign pages, and in that signature were their qualifications, then some credence could be attached to the article -- referenced or not.

              Add to that, that all wikiadmins really should be identified on the site. If they are going to edit, delete, attack and defend content, as well as ban users, we really should know what their qualifications actually are.

              I'd be willing to bet 90% of the current problems with wikipedia would disappear overnight if the admins lost their anonymity. Much of the neofascist behavior, and agenda-ism, would certainly disappear. It solves the "who watches the watchers" problem overnight.

              While there are good reasons why articles can be submitted anonymously, those in charge of the site do NOT need to be anonymous -- and for the sake of transparency, honesty and ethical credibility, we NEED to know who they are. Are they afraid of the truth? What do they have to hide?

              • by kdemetter (965669)

                I'd be willing to bet 90% of the current problems with wikipedia would disappear overnight if the admins lost their anonymity. Much of the neofascist behavior, and agenda-ism, would certainly disappear. It solves the "who watches the watchers" problem overnight.

                I'm not so sure about that. If the admins lose there anonimity , it becomes very easy for someone with enough power , to pressure them.

                For example , you could write something about a local politician , which that politician doesn't like ( even if it's true ) . If your identity is known , that person can easily pressure you into changing your story.

            • by fyngyrz (762201)

              No, you can't. Without references, a reader has no way of knowing whether the article is accurate or not

              Utter nonsense. The reader may, if they wish to verify anything, simply turn to Google and further educate themselves on the subject matter, or turn to researching it themselves. The article may, in fact, justify itself by explaining matters sufficiently. If the article is accurate and in-depth, it *is* high quality because the point is to impute correct information in its perusal, which such an arti

          • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @06:26PM (#31384094)

            You can easily have an extremely high quality, 100% accurate and in-depth Wikipedia article without a single external reference.

            [Citation needed.] :-P

            • by kdemetter (965669)

              Here you go :

              You can easily have an extremely high quality, 100% accurate and in-depth Wikipedia article without a single external reference.

          • However, good clear writing can be judged. The study points out that the best wikipedia entries are done by editors who are GOOD writers who know how to a) contribute new sentences (write a first draft), b) re-write sentences (re-drafting), c) add references (source checking), d) make grammatical and other edits (final drafting).

            The formula for writing good content has not changed. It's just the proportions (collaboration) that have made the process more efficient and provided more content which are in ne

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by icebike (68054)

          Because 90% of Wikipedia is dead. People drive-by now and then and drop in a sentence or fix a spelling error, but for the most part nobody is editing the articles unless it's a politically contentious topic.

          The fun part was writing the articles in the first place, now phase is over, nobody wants to be Wikipedia's janitorial crew and deal with the super-aspbergers that populate that place. Which is why Wikipedia is doomed to a slow bit-rot into irrelevance.

          While true, one might say that stasis is the proper state for a repository of knowledge. Why should articles be under continual maintenance when the subject area is for the most part static?

          Politics, religion, and anything that passes for either are the least desirable things for Wiki. Any articles dealing in either area are essentially useless, bias magnets.

          But there is very little new information on the vast majority of subjects, so having 90% of them "dead" is just fine.

          Equally nonsensical are the seem

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rm999 (775449)

          "Which is why Wikipedia is doomed to a slow bit-rot into irrelevance."

          Wikipedia is still one of the most popular websites on the internet - claiming it is dead or dying is premature and probably wrong. There are more than enough editors to maintain the vast majority of popular articles. More esoteric topical articles such as a living actress will become stale every now and then (this has always been true on Wikipedia), but established topics have, well... established articles. And these types of articles wi

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jbolden (176878)

          Agreed, though it doesn't have to be that way. I see articles that need to be created or extensive revised all the time. But 4 years ago people worked together to create content. Now they work together to destroy content.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Because 90% of Wikipedia is dead. People drive-by now and then and drop in a sentence or fix a spelling error, but for the most part nobody is editing the articles unless it's a politically contentious topic.

          Oh come on. 90% of articles probably concern topics that are either "finished" or are part of a domain in which scholarship is currently very slow moving. Once an article on a particular deceased author is written for example it shouldn't be updated unless some new insights are gained at some point. Likewise for some scientists and theories which have been superseded or are well established. Knowledge doesn't "bit-rot".

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        In January 2010, Apple announced the iPad.
        The iPad is a tablet form factor computer due to be released in 2010.

        Within one line of each other, one post is talking about the past tense in 2010 and the future tense in 2010... Oh, the horror!

      • Applegate will play Elizabeth Montgomery of Bewitched fame, who died of colorectal cancer, in the upcoming film Everything Is Going to Be Just Fine, due to be released in 2009.

        In January 2009, Applegate appeared with her TV brother David Faustino (Bud Bundy from Married with Children) in an episode of Faustino's show Starving.[11]

        Within two lines of each other, one article is talking about the future tense in 2009 and the past tense in 2009. Anyone editing the article as a whole would notice this. When, however, you have people editing piece by piece, simple mistakes can be made like that.

        Consider an edit made on March 2009. January of that year was the past and November was the future.

    • Yes, the article seems to be just stating the obvious.

      "casual contributor" is defined, apparently, a somebody who adds text, but not citations or links. An "A" quality article is defined as one, among other things, incorporating a lot of citations and links. Surprise, the casual contributors mostly contribute to articles that aren't "A" quality!

    • Articles written by experienced people with a wide array of skills are stronger than those written by novices? Never could have guessed.

      That's the beauty of data mining; you can find things out that would have otherwise been totally unknown. TFA states that they will next be applying these techniques to determine whether water is wet...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Homburg (213427)

      You might think this is obvious, but any Slashdot article on Wikipedia inevitably includes lots of comments saying "My drive-by edit was reverted and I'm never contributing again and Wikipedia is dying." Lots of people on Slashdot do seem to think that an agglomeration of off-the-cuff edits could somehow produce quality articles.

      • by shallot (172865)

        You might think this is obvious, but any Slashdot article on Wikipedia inevitably includes lots of comments saying "My drive-by edit was reverted and I'm never contributing again and Wikipedia is dying."

        I wouldn't go so far to support the unsupported generalization in the rest of your post, but this part does seem to be true, and it's becoming really annoying.

        This attitude appears so prevalent at times that we actually see such completely anecdotal posts, painfully devoid of anything resembling a rational argumentation common in the technical community, get upvoted as "Insightful" or "Informative", and a lot. A google search gave me an example within fifteen seconds: a comment with score +5, Informative [slashdot.org]

        • by tsm_sf (545316)
          One almost gets the impression that Wikipedia is the new Microsoft ;)

          There's just a lot of people repeating the "LOL Wikipedia" line, so it's not surprising people pick it up seemingly randomly. It's easy to reinforce because there is a nugget of truth to it.
    • by Zorque (894011)

      That, or articles written by people with the most hours logged writing fanfiction about the subject.

    • by shentino (1139071)

      Practice makes perfect?

  • Oh. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 06, 2010 @04:45PM (#31383282)

    I always figured that some of the articles were poor because they were written by Americans, rather than much more intelligent Europeans or Asians.

  • by Cyberax (705495) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @04:47PM (#31383298)

    Seriously, I'm encountering more and more 'deleted' articles when I search Wikipedia.

    Can someone stop deleters? Or at least offer an option to view deleted articles (Deletionpedia works only for English language).

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @05:13PM (#31383506)
      Exactly. And then these people who revert -any- change without even looking at it. What? An anonymous contributor added a few words to make a phrase make since? Revert it!
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They're only looking at people who contribute, not at the people who destroy.

      I'm with you on the deletionist troll issue though. Many interesting articles have been deleted outright and many wiki pages for interesting projects are deleted, just because someone, somewhere hasn't heard of it.
      The deletionism also makes the whole Wikipedia experience that much more annoying, because when you click on a link for &Name, obviously expecting a meaningful answer to how it ties into this article, you instead get

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Deletionpedia [dbatley.com] archives deleted wikipedia pages. Unfortunately, the site is mostly not working at the moment but they do say they're continuing to archive deleted pages while they get the site up again.

    • by thelamecamel (561865) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @06:54PM (#31384286)

      Yes, this is really quite pathetic. On several occasions now I have wanted some information on a particular topic (e.g. a shitty old game I picked up, my mobile phone, or even a description of lemon party). I go to the wikipedia page, I can tell that several people went to the effort of writing an entry on that topic but the page was deleted by someone who decided that no-one would ever want to see that information. This is arrogance in the extreme - destroying some people's work because they incorrectly assumed that no-one would ever want to see it. Was the article getting in the way before it was deleted?!

      Surely Wikipedia could have a link to view pages that were 'deleted' for non-notability - what would be so bad about that?

      • by moogsynth (1264404) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @07:57PM (#31384716)
        It's much worse than that. Articles aren't deleted because people assume no-one will want to look at them. Articles with hundreds, even thousands of hits a month are commonly deleted because they are seen as not being notable enough for inclusion. The reasons why are usually because there aren't enough sources to prove that the article in question is notable, or the sources are of a sketchy nature (blogs and the like). The actual guidelines themselves say that articles should have the best citations that people can find--often enough mentions on blogs simply have to do. The notability guidelines are being taken as literal truth by a huge number of wikilawyers, who will mercilessly use it as a weapon to nominate articles for deletion. They'll then use other trollish guidelines as absolute law to rubbish the citations people dig up to try and save the article from being deleted. I've seen it happen way too many times now, and I just don't have the patience to dealwith these sorts of fuckwits.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by crossmr (957846)

          Actually the policies themselves say that blogs and other self-published sources are never good enough unless they happen to be written by the subject of the article. Even then, they're not used for notability, but they can be used as reliable sources. The only time self-published sources can be used for anything not about the subject is in the case when its written by a recognized expert in the field. Even then, its reliable, but its usefulness in establishing notability is questionable. The threshold for

      • This is arrogance in the extreme - destroying some people's work because they incorrectly assumed that no-one would ever want to see it.

        Notability does not work that way.

        Verifiability of each claim against reliable sources is Wikipedia's core content policy. "Reliable sources" is Wikipedia-speak for scholarly or mainstream media. Notability of a topic [wikipedia.org] is merely an upper bound on verifiability of claims made about a topic: whether it "has received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject." But if you know of one or more reliable sources about the "particular topic" in question, try this:

        1. In your user sp
    • by Kjella (173770)

      Well, I just browsed through the list of articles proposed for deletion on Wikipedia. A lot of it, I'd say about 70% or so was articles about people or bands/albums/songs to be deleted on notability grounds. The rest were a mixed bag of general cleanup. The question is, notable compared to what? I can assure you that of all the samples I looked at, none would have qualified for an encyclopedia entry. None were anyone I'd be surprised to find missing.

      I think if you want to include people of less notability,

    • Seriously, I'm encountering more and more 'deleted' articles when I search Wikipedia.

      Wikipedia has to be careful not to fill up the Internet.

  • by Korin43 (881732) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @05:03PM (#31383424) Homepage
    I know I'm more likely to "casually contribute" to Wikipedia on a low-quality article. Maybe the casual contributors just don't see the point of changing anything in an article that's already had a lot of attention?
    • True, and at a certain point the casual contributor no longer has anything to add and the very knowledgeable have to move in for any contributions to made and move the article from "just ok" to "good" and beyond. It's very unlikely because of demographics a good all-rounder with a lot of knowledge of a topic will move in and create an article from scratch. The casuals are more likely to get there first.

  • Quality Ratings (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toonol (1057698) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @05:09PM (#31383468)
    I think there may be a possible flaw in using Wikipedia's internal quality rating. It measures adherence to wikipedia standards... but that may not necessarily be the same thing as actual quality.

    In that scheme, excellent articles with posters who tend to brush up against some of wikipedia's more picky guidelines, would be rated lower. It's minor, because in general wikipedia's guidelines are there to make better articles, but it sometimes happens.

    It's like defining intelligence as the ability to do well on intelligence tests. It's certainly related, and there's not much of a better alternative, but you have to remember you aren't measuring the trait directly.
    • Re:Quality Ratings (Score:4, Insightful)

      by zappepcs (820751) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @05:32PM (#31383668) Journal

      That flaw has always been there, and similar was included in every version of every printed encyclopedia. It's hard to get around that without thousands of editors working full time. The premise of Wikipedia is good, but if you want to trust some information you found on the Internet... errrmm, you need to validate it, corroborate it, and research it yourself if necessary. For me, Wikipedia makes a great starting point to learn about something, just as any single book on any given subject is a good place to *start*. The principle of trust but verify applies for many things, but caveat emptor equally applies. Personally, much of the content of Wikipedia is better than asking Yahoo! Answers and others. meh, it's a thing. If you were supposed to get all your answers from a single source, god wouldn't have made Al Gore invent the Internet. Get off my lawn!

      • by crossmr (957846)

        That is kind of the point of wikipedia. While there are plenty of unsourced stubs out there, any article of substance is more than likely to have sources. You can go verify what is written there at other sources. Wikipedia is little more than an aggregate that people have tried to mold into something readable.

  • I've seen some shocking entries, but I can't commit to spending the 20 hours or so it'd take to write a new, decent article from scratch. I guess some people can't tell that the articles suck and go ahead and quote them or whatever.

  • Quality (Score:5, Funny)

    by bsDaemon (87307) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @05:13PM (#31383500)
    Wikipedia is great for anything involving mathematics or Star Wars. Everything else seems kind of suspect to me.
    • Re:Quality (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @05:18PM (#31383544)
      As opposed to? You know, I've come to the conclusion that Wikipedia is a lot more reliable, current and useful than a Google search. How many of us when going through links find the majority of them to be old (circa 1998) sites using outdated layouts, outdated information, etc. And it isn't like print media is much better. Really, Wikipedia is a great source to find needed information (note that accurate information is often unimportant compared to what the masses think) that you would spend days hunting down on Google and in libraries.
    • by rdnetto (955205)

      Wikipedia is great for anything involving mathematics or Star Wars. Everything else seems kind of suspect to me.

      Actually, I find that Wikipedia is absolutely terrible for math/science. It's fine if you're doing your thesis in the subject, but the majority of math/science articles are way beyond the comprehension of the average reader. The simple entries help, but there aren't enough of them yet.

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @05:22PM (#31383594)
    Articles dominated by one or two "keepers" tend to be the most biased and lowest quality. Quality edits are tossed aside merely because they do not meet the agenda wanted by the keepers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bunratty (545641)
      Why not seek dispute resolution [wikipedia.org] in these cases?
      • It is not worth it. It is not my problem to solve and waste time on. It is WikiPedia's problem to solve. And, to be honest, I see little effort on the part of WikiPedia to resolve this issue.
      • by crossmr (957846)

        As a couple people have pointed out, it is very difficult in some cases to get anything done. I've run into plenty of articles where some people will guard them religiously and even if there are issues on the page, any maintenance tag is immediately reverted, people are insulted, and even if 10 people showed up to claim the maintenance tag was necessary they'd fight tooth and nail until blocked, and unblocked only to continue.

        These people were viewed as "good" editors. Which meant dealing with them pointles

      • by u38cg (607297)
        Because most of us are not wiki-fucking-lawyers and don't give a flying monkeys about the ridiculous accretion of bullshit the project has built up over the years. Engage in "dispute resolution" with some asshat that you know is wrong over some tedious bullshit point that noone really cares about? Sorry, I have more interesting things to do, like stick my genitals in a mechanical cheesegrater. At least it would give me something to talk about at parties.
      • Because I don't have the weeks or months it takes to work through that byzantine procedure. Nor do I have any desire to do so, because it favors the 'side' with the most time on its hands and the most sockpuppets at its beck and call.

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @05:25PM (#31383616)
    I think the main problem with Wikipedia is it went from "an encyclopedia where you -might- find something of interest" to "a place you can find anything!" to now "a place where you can possibly find some things but if we don't like it, it gets deleted and we don't want your help unless you feel like reading 22342342343 policies, follow them exactly and patrol "your" page constantly". Seriously, Wikipedia 2-3 years ago was a lot better than Wikipedia now. Why is it that editors think deleting articles somehow makes it better? Especially since Wikipedia is online and a few new articles don't translate to (much) extra load?
    • On the Nose (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Alaren (682568) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @05:55PM (#31383832)

      To this I would add that Wikipedia's policies make it very difficult for Wikipedia to be anything more than a web aggregator and pop-culture barometer.

      I remember years ago reading Wikipedia articles that were written by experts in the relevant field. Much of their work was destroyed as people went through asking for citations to third-party sources--and since most of the relevant citations would have to come from print material only available at large university libraries, rather than seek out original sources various contributors eventually whittled those articles down to nothing.

      I still use Wikipedia to satisfy trivial inquiries, but it's nowhere near as useful as it used to be.

      • by gsslay (807818)

        articles that were written by experts in the relevant field.

        And how did you know they were experts? Other than them telling you of course. Cos you can totally believe what people tell you about themselves on the internet.

        • Degrees to Source (Score:3, Informative)

          by Alaren (682568)

          Well, I vaguely remember a great big "outing" of one big Wikipedia contributor who claimed to be an expert in all sorts of stuff but who turned out to have hardly any education at all. So your point is well taken.

          But it seems to me that injecting the additional level of, "Blog X says Professor Y is an expert, so he's an expert for purposes of Wikipedia" is not an improvement over "Professor Y says he's an expert who contributes directly to Wikipedia."

          In other words, the question of who is an expert is

          • But it seems to me that injecting the additional level of, "Blog X says Professor Y is an expert, so he's an expert for purposes of Wikipedia" is not an improvement over "Professor Y says he's an expert who contributes directly to Wikipedia."

            Which is why Wikipedia doesn't allow "Blog X says Professor Y is an expert"; instead it requires "Scholarly or mainstream media source X says Professor Y is an expert".

            • by Alaren (682568)

              Which is why Wikipedia doesn't allow "Blog X says Professor Y is an expert"; instead it requires "Scholarly or mainstream media source X says Professor Y is an expert".

              And of course what qualifies as "scholarly or mainstream" is equally obvious to everyone involved, I'm sure. [/sarcasm]

              In practice, what happens is that anything from virtually any third party on the web is treated as a usable source, as many Wikipedians see the blogosphere as equivalent to the "mainstream press" as long as it appears the b

      • I remember years ago reading Wikipedia articles that were written by experts in the relevant field. Much of their work was destroyed as people went through asking for citations to third-party sources--and since most of the relevant citations would have to come from print material only available at large university libraries, rather than seek out original sources various contributors eventually whittled those articles down to nothing.

        That's a real dilemma though. Do you accept on faith that un-cited information from an anonymous source because it looks right ? Complete nonsense [museumofhoaxes.com] can be made to sound good. Or do you accept only a more limited set of information for which you can at least validate the sources so you have a fighting chance ? The only optimal solution would be to offer both with the article with citations being the preferred one but that adds unwanted complexity and cost.

        Personally I think your expert friends should have jus

    • by rm999 (775449) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @06:09PM (#31383962)

      It's funny, some comments in here complain that many articles have gotten stale and aren't well-maintained. Others, like yours, complain that there aren't enough articles. These two complaints are at odds with each other - a fixed number of editors can either maintain a smaller, more important set of articles, or can devote their time to starting and watching new articles. Your criticism is largely overblown too: there are, on average, over 1000 new articles a day. I'd like to see any print Encyclopedia do this in a year.

      Frankly, I prefer less but higher-quality articles, because it minimizes the amount of misinformation (one of the biggest plagues in early Wikipedia). It helps minimize the number of esoteric articles from being started and then forgotten. The only real rule you need to know when starting an article is notability: the 22342342343 policies are only in place to remove subjectivity from the process. Common sense can get you most of the way there, but if you are in the habit of starting articles understanding the five "general notability guideline" will save you a lot of hassle. And only takes about five minutes.

      • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @06:29PM (#31384122)
        But what do we -gain- for deleting every long article on every Pokemon in existence? Does it really matter if we have a single article for each episode of Keeping Up Appearances? In a print encyclopedia its easy to say that yes it does matter because extra pages translates to extra costs, however, with Wikipedia it doesn't. Yes, it may use a few -kilobytes- of disk space and if its really as obscure as everyone says, there won't be any extra bandwidth costs.
        • I agree with you. I think the way to approach that balance with quality is to flag the fluff stuff that would have been deleted as fluff stuff with a large bold warning that information may not be accurate or well written. Perhaps you could even prevent any quality section article from linking to a fluff section article.
        • by rm999 (775449)

          I don't specifically know about the Pokemon case, but I see several Pokemon species have their own pages and the rest have their own sections on "List of Pokemon" pages. I suspect that the deletions were due to this notability guideline (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_Wikipedia_is_not#Wikipedia_is_not_an_indiscriminate_collection_of_information or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_Wikipedia_is_not#Wikipedia_is_not_a_manual.2C_guidebook.2C_textbook.2C_or_scientific_journal [wikipedia.org]). I agree that when articles get

          • But the thing is, if it is high quality information -why- does it need to be deleted? The advantage to Wikipedia isn't that the information is always high quality but rather

            A) It is one source for -everything- you don't have to hunt for 234242344 other sites to get the information
            B) No ads
            C) Fast loading
            D) Easy URLs, its pretty easy to find what article without having to find /blog/php?=323423A34234F324234ABC342
        • by Carnildo (712617)

          The cost is not kilobytes and pennies, it's time. Watching "List of Pokemon" for vandalism is much easier than keeping an eye on 700+ individual articles; similarly, many of Wikipedia's policies are designed around making it possible for a small number of people to handle a large number of articles.

      • by metamatic (202216)

        It's funny, some comments in here complain that many articles have gotten stale and aren't well-maintained. Others, like yours, complain that there aren't enough articles. These two complaints are at odds with each other - a fixed number of editors can either maintain a smaller, more important set of articles, or can devote their time to starting and watching new articles.

        Yes, but Wikipedia doesn't have a fixed number of editors.

        I used to edit, but the deletions and the policy douchebaggery drove me away. S

    • by gsslay (807818) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @07:01PM (#31384318)

      Why is it that editors think deleting articles somehow makes it better?

      Because ;

      - if the quality of Wikipedia is measured by averaging the quality of all its articles, deleting the crap raises the quality of Wikipedia.
      - crap inevitably attracts more crap. If the crap articles weren't deleted they would multiply.
      - crap pages, written by people who mistake Wikipedia for a free web-host for their fan site, give Wikipedia a bad name.
      - if you can't find the good articles for stumbling over the crap, you're likely to stop looking and go some place else.

      If crap pages weren't deleted Wikipedia would drown under them. Regardless of infinite disk space, or unlimited bandwidth. Wikipedia is essentially a database. If you fill a database with too much garbage it becomes useless, no matter how much data of true value in in there also. The noise to signal ratio becomes unbearable.

      • by grcumb (781340) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @09:46PM (#31385558) Homepage Journal

        Why is it that editors think deleting articles somehow makes it better?

        Because ;

        - if the quality of Wikipedia is measured by averaging the quality of all its articles, deleting the crap raises the quality of Wikipedia....

        [Emphasis mine.]

        Wow. So in your mind, 'not notable' is equivalent to 'crap'. That's quite a leap.

        Perhaps you should make that case first before you embark on any other argument.

      • by azgard (461476)

        Because you're doing it wrong. All these things could be improved by having:

        1. Stable article revisions, which would contain merges of useful information from the unstable versions. The length of cycle should roughly depend on how many contributors are there in the article.

        2. Notability score for articles (say, from 1 - the best of 100 - to 8 - non-notable) and ability to filter categories by these (and maybe, having articles with different notability score in different namespace, so they could be recognize

      • by u38cg (607297)
        Total bullshit. The quality of wikipedia is the sum total of information it contains, which is found by integrating over the article space, not averaging it. Nobody goes looking for an article on the lead singer of, say, Mouse & The Trapps expecting to read Greil Marcus's inside story. And not finding the article...I mean, how often have you gone looking for Poland and instead been sucked into Pubic Hair and just not been able to extricate yourself? Nonsense.
        • by gsslay (807818)

          The quality of wikipedia is the sum total of information it contains

          In that case I propose that Wikipedia simply takes a raw dump of google's index and stores it. Never mind the quality, how about that quantity! Sure, it takes a bit of looking to find exactly what you want, the quality of most of it is poor, and there's forty different copies of everything that says different things, but it's all in there somewhere!

          You seem to be confusing the role of Wikipedia with that of the internet.

          And not finding the article...I mean, how often have you gone looking for Poland and instead been sucked into Pubic Hair

          I don't know. Do you mean "Poland" the country, "Poland" the bar in downtown New Yor

          • by u38cg (607297)
            The difference is I can't help refactor the internet, which I don't mind doing when I come across something I can fix easily enough. As for Poland, well, how hard is it to work a disambiguation page - presuming I wasn't following a relevant link to start with?
      • by gnud (934243)
        This would be true if Wikipedia had a semi-useful search or index function. As it is, I'm using Google to search anyway, so I really don't care whether there are 100.000 or 100.000.000 wikipedia pages irrellevant to my search.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The notability requirement killed wikipedia. Encouraging people to provide ever better sources is something I agree with but to delete articles because the sources "aren't good enough" is ridiculous. Maybe for the George Bush article there ought to be some sort of minimum requirement but for an article on an alien race in a science fiction show? If the best source you have for a particular claim is an episode of that show than I don't see what the problem is. Besides, I'd consider an episode to be a bet

  • It sounds like articles cared for by people that stick around turn out better than ones edited by drive-by people, eh?

    Interesting and all, but you know, this sorta studies get cited to support all kindsa wackjob social "theories", don't they? I mean, citing such studies are deemed "rigor" and whatnot.

  • Less deletion (Score:2, Insightful)

    I'm with the rest who say too many articles are being deleted. Several times I've been able to, or thought I was able to, find an article on a subject I was wanting information on. Then all I get is a deleted page, with no way to see what was deleted, and about as much clarity as to why it was deleted. At least send me to the page where you explain and quote why and what you deleted.

    Preferably if you have more knowledge on the subject, write a better article and put up that as a replacement. Empty pages ben

  • back in the day (Score:4, Informative)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Saturday March 06, 2010 @05:46PM (#31383754) Homepage Journal

    there was a book called the cathedral and the bazaar

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cathedral_and_the_Bazaar [wikipedia.org]

    it delineates the difference between bottom up and top down organization, specifically in regards to software development models like linux versus gnu

    obviously, this overlaps thematically with wikipedia in that wikipedia was once a bazaar, and is now becoming a cathedral

    regardless of which model is better for wikipedia, the pluses and minuses of the cathedral versus the bazaar models of software development should be instructive for what exactly wikipedia is winning, and losing, in its trade off between bazaar and cathedral

    • Actually, a large part of the problem is that Wikipedia always has been a Cathedral.

      Cathedrals are venues where the decisions are made by a person or persons in a position of near-absolute power over the cathedral's output. That elite position exists on Wikipedia too. It's called The Last Guy To Edit.

      In wiki theory, it doesn't matter that every person to edit, at the time they are editing, are acting as the Supreme Ruler of the Cathedral. The theory is that any abuse of this power will be corrected becau

  • One key flaw (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cashman73 (855518) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @06:04PM (#31383928) Journal
    The study wasn't exactly complete. First, they only looked at Featured quality articles, A-class, B-class, and C-class. They totally neglected GA-class [wikipedia.org], of which there are currently over 8,000 of those. Secondly, FA-class and GA-class are handled differently than A, B, and C-classes. FA and GA are Wikipedia-wide assessment systems, with specific criteria that must be adhered to in order for articles to get listed there. FA is pretty rigorous, and only the best of the best get through after having been nitpicked, often far too much (yes, stupid crap like commas and en-dashes). GA is a bit less rigorous, with a review by only one editor being required for listing. And yes, this one editor system has been criticized in the past; though there is a GA reassessment system, and the community has gone through a pretty thorough system of GA sweeps, getting rid of some of the older GAs that were passed before the current criteria were enforced better.

    A, B, and C-class assessments are not Wikipedia-wide. They are assessed by individual Wikiprojects (of which there are literally hundreds of these). And each Wikiproject has their own standard of what it considers A, B, and C. Some Wikiprojects are much easier, others are more rigorous (like WikiProject Military history [wikipedia.org]). Furthermore, C-class is relatively new, having been created just within the past two years or so; so there's probably still a lot of B-class articles that should be C-class.

    • Re:One key flaw (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Blakey Rat (99501) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @06:44PM (#31384232)

      What the holy shit are you talking about?

      Maybe the study should have been, "why are people working with Wikipedia completely unable to communicate in English to other people?" Shit, at the very least, why not tell us what your constantly-used GA and FA acronyms actually *mean*.

      Anybody care to translate that into English?

    • They totally neglected GA-class [...] A, B, and C-class assessments are not Wikipedia-wide

      But what WikiProjects' assessment criteria have in common is that B is below GA and A is between GA and FA.

  • Roles (Score:4, Informative)

    by lyinhart (1352173) on Saturday March 06, 2010 @06:24PM (#31384072)
    In the five years that I've been a Wikipedia editor, I've played most of these roles, but right now I'm definitely a watchdog. I primarily revert vandalism. It's a good way to stay out of edits wars. At this point, most of the stuff on Wikipedia is way too messy to clean up and/or improve. I'd rather clean up Cowboys Stadium on any given Sunday in the Fall than clean up content on Wikipedia. As for deletionists? They deal with the administrative (sigh) aspect of Wikipedia, while this study seems to be driven mainly on the content itself.
  • Why do Wikipedia Articles Vary So Much In Quality?

    My initial reaction was because it's a free encyclopedia that anybody can edit.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    What really gets me about wikipedia is stuff like I Am Rich [wikipedia.org]. Nominated for deletion, the consensus wound up being to keep it. Not to redirect it but to keep it. Then, the nominator, having failed in his attempt to delete it, merges it, despite consensus to the contrary, into App Store [wikipedia.org]. Later, another user comes along and deletes it, saying it's "not important [wikipedia.org]".

    But wait - it gets better! The same guy nominates Heavy Metal (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) [wikipedia.org] for deletion and fails in his attempt. So wha

  • I can't fathom why there can't be an article for every sequence of characters. Would seem to be more informative that way. If 'iagonwoanrboarno' doesn't mean anything, it'll simply be a shorter article, and I probably will never see it anyway.

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