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Stanford's Authoritative Alternative To Wikipedia 355

Posted by Soulskill
from the citation-provided dept.
eldavojohn writes "For decades, Stanford has been working on a different kind of Wikipedia. It might even be considered closer to a peer-reviewed journal, since you have get submissions past a 120 person group of leading philosophers around the world, not to mention Stanford's administration. It has several layers of approval, but the authoritative model produces high quality content — even if it only amounts to 1,200 articles. Content you can read straight through to find everything pertinent — not hop around following link after link like the regular Wikipedia. You might question the need for this, but one of the originators says, 'Our model is authoritative. [Wikipedia's] model is one an academic isn't going to be attracted to. If you are a young academic, who might spend six months preparing a great article on Thomas Aquinas, you're not going to publish in a place where anyone can come along and change this.' The site has articles covering topics from Quantum Computing to technical luminaries like Kurt Friedrich Gödel and Alan Turing. The principal editor said, 'It's the natural thing to do. I'm surprised no one is doing it for the other disciplines.'"
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Stanford's Authoritative Alternative To Wikipedia

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  • by yincrash (854885) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @03:38PM (#33501270)
    this has already been attempted. however, if stanford can keep it going and make sure it keeps reviewing then it could work. Can I submit a wikipedia article for peer reviewed inclusion?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by erroneus (253617)

      I think they might stand a chance at survival if they made it work similarly to Slashdot's own comment rating/reading system. So normal/anonymous users would browse as +5 or something (meaning completely peer reviewed) and for others who opt into it, might be able to view at lower levels like "-1" or something like that.

      Peer review processes like these will not move quickly. By making it available prior to review completion, people might be able to see something more interesting even if it's not completel

      • by poetmatt (793785)

        models like slashdot sound great but it's incredibly easy for people to poopsock moderation and game the system. That's the problem with any ratings system - someone needs to be able to nix the moderation, but that person now becomes the one with the questionable bias.

        Stanford's solution is good as long as they're willing to accept that information will be outdated and/or it won't be complete. It also depends on the format they use.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by gregrah (1605707)
          For those of you wondering, as I was, about the definition of poopsock [urbandictionary.com]...

          1. A sock that is used as a temporary contained for faecal matter.
          2. A vital part of any dedicated EverQuest player's equipment. A poopsock eliminates the need to go all the way to the bathroom, which wastes valuable levelling time.
          3. An insult used to refer to an obsessive MMORPG player who gains an unusually high number of levels in one day.

          Dave's a little too into World of Warcraft. He's been poopsocking for about 12 hours now.

          Dammit, casual players can't get anywhere in this game. The good stuff is all camped by poopsockers

          SpawnSlayer13 is such a poopsock. He got from level 1 to 60 in the space of a day.

          And to think there are people who would be so bold as to claim that the Internet has never done anything good for the English language...

  • Academics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @03:40PM (#33501284)

    My experience in academia taught me that there was no such thing as the "authoritative" source. If one scholar thought one thing about a particular subject, there was always at least one other scholar who disagreed with him/her. Most of the encyclopedia articles written in more scholarly encyclopedias (like Britannica) are therefore usually written by a single scholar, not a crowd of them. Get a crowd of these yahoos together and odds are you won't even get them to agree on what time it is. I've sat in on meetings where grown Ph.D.'s argued like children over so-and-so getting to teach a 100-level class that someone else wanted to teach (because so-and-so is an idiot who disagreed with them in some journal article written 20 years ago). Any attempt to get agreement out of scholars usually just results in really bland "committee" history (the kind some prevalent in so many unreadable textbooks). Such controversy-free scholarly writing is bizarre at best, absolutely misleading at worst.

    For all the ribbing it takes, my experience with Wikipedia is that it's generally pretty reliable. In the subjects of my narrow areas of expertise, I've found it to be pretty accurate--or at least as accurate as any other conventional source (i.e. Britannica). Of course, scholars don't like it because they don't get paid to write articles for it (the way they often do in encyclopedias) and writing for it gets them no tenure-track kudos in the publish-or-perish world. That means most scholars are never going to be happy with Wikipedia. And that has nothing to do with its purported lack of accuracy, but rather scholarly politics.

    • Re:Academics (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jlechem (613317) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @03:55PM (#33501460) Homepage Journal
      I've sat in on several United States Armed Forces meeting where they were writing documentation for the software I was working on. A bunch of GS-12+ civilian employees arguing for half an hour over where the place the word 'the'. It's not just academics, you get any large enough group trying to compile a document at the same time and it's going to be a clusterfuck.
      • by Abstrackt (609015) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:24PM (#33501890)
        Your comment reminds me of a demotivational poster: "none of us is as dumb as all of us".
      • by Beerdood (1451859) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:26PM (#33501924)

        over where the place the word 'the'

        Well let's hope someone besides you made the final decision on that one

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by sexconker (1179573)

        A bunch of GS-12+ civilian employees arguing for half an hour over where the place the word 'the'.

        It appears to me that we need to have our discussion at least once more...

      • by rthille (8526)

        I believe it's called the bikeshedding.

      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        I had a design meeting for a web site a week or so ago. A good half an hour was spent debating whether the page should ask the customer to "select" one of the following, or "choose". Or "pick". Or "click on". Half an hour solid of heated debate, AND the perpetrators tried to bring it up several more times throughout the 2 hour meeting.

        So yes, I agree with you- people suck.

        I think that was the gist of your point, anyway.

    • My experience in academia taught me that there was no such thing as the "authoritative" source. If one scholar thought one thing about a particular subject, there was always at least one other scholar who disagreed with him/her. Most of the encyclopedia articles written in more scholarly encyclopedias (like Britannica) are therefore usually written by a single scholar, not a crowd of them. Get a crowd of these yahoos together and odds are you won't even get them to agree on what time it is. I've sat in on meetings where grown Ph.D.'s argued like children over so-and-so getting to teach a 100-level class that someone else wanted to teach (because so-and-so is an idiot who disagreed with them in some journal article written 20 years ago). Any attempt to get agreement out of scholars usually just results in really bland "committee" history (the kind some prevalent in so many unreadable textbooks). Such controversy-free scholarly writing is bizarre at best, absolutely misleading at worst.

      Those kind of disagreements are usually only about fine details. In most academic domains including philosophy there is broad agreement on what positions are reasonable.

      For all the ribbing it takes, my experience with Wikipedia is that it's generally pretty reliable. In the subjects of my narrow areas of expertise, I've found it to be pretty accurate--or at least as accurate as any other conventional source (i.e. Britannica). Of course, scholars don't like it because they don't get paid to write articles for it (the way they often do in encyclopedias) and writing for it gets them no tenure-track kudos in the publish-or-perish world. That means most scholars are never going to be happy with Wikipedia. And that has nothing to do with its purported lack of accuracy, but rather scholarly politics.

      I love Wikipedia. It's a great place for people new to a topic to go to get some context and direction. The overall quality of the philosophy articles is poor though. Many times they are about the equivalent of an undergraduate essay. It's more than just politics, at least for philosophy. It really is a quality issue.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jd (1658)

        In most academic domains including philosophy there is broad agreement on what positions are reasonable.

        Great minds think alike and fools never differ. (The last, and most important part, of that quote is often forgotten.) Peer review is important and is the best solution to many academic problems to date, but it is prone to false positives and false negatives. Ideally, you'd have three methodologies - two (peer review being one) run in parallel such that the second methodology is going to pick up probably

        • In most academic domains including philosophy there is broad agreement on what positions are reasonable.

          Great minds think alike and fools never differ. (The last, and most important part, of that quote is often forgotten.) Peer review is important and is the best solution to many academic problems to date, but it is prone to false positives and false negatives. Ideally, you'd have three methodologies - two (peer review being one) run in parallel such that the second methodology is going to pick up probably good information that is rejected by peer review but is not going to pick up more than an absolute minimum of gunk. A third method is then needed to collate the two sets of potentially-good information. It only has to filter out the remaining gunk, it doesn't have to do anything more than that.

          Sure, it's hard to tell whether the consensus exists because we are dealing with great minds or fools and some sorts of checks and balances can help sort that out but that doesn't preclude the idea that consensus may be built on such a system. In other words just because it's a consensus doesn't mean its wrong. I am all for questioning authority and not accepting superficial agreement as a sign of truth but on the other hand I think the most common bias these days is to go the other way (i.e. anyone that

    • by brufleth (534234)
      Right. So an article on this other system can get through all that review with errors or at least with interpretations that are in dispute and unlike on Wikipedia those issues can't be fixed. Well they can be fixed but only after another shit storm of review and if those reviewers agrees etc etc. Wikis are excellent ways to document and organize knowledge in a relatively casual and cheap manner. Stanford setup a system that is slow, potentially still open to bias, definitely still open to mistakes, and r
      • by DingerX (847589)
        Aye, bad use of headlines.

        FWIW, I use and cite SEP articles. I do occasionally check through Wikipedia, but they're working to a different audience, and the quality of their articles on second-tier philosophy subjects is pretty damn low. They are very different beasts. Wikipedia is very fast, and for subjects that are high-velocity, it's unbeatable.

        On the other hand, Wikipedia can't get to the same level of detail as the SEP because of Wikipedia's model of editing-by-committee and governance-by-wikielite
      • by drewhk (1744562)

        Also, Wikipedia's clear advantage is that you can SEE the discussion part, as it is documented in the "Talk" section. It is quite usual that I look into these sections to assess the reliability of an article.

    • Congratulations, you've experienced human nature.

      Now imagine those sort of arguments happening continuously around the world by an effectively infinite number of people often with nothing productive to do for the rest of the day. Worse, imagine that - unlike in academia (IME) - no-one wears their proud bias on their sleeves for filtering where necessary, but everyone pretends to be fair and balanced.

      That's Wikipedia, that is.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by epine (68316)

        Wikipedia is a sausage factory in a glass house. Far too much information about the information to escape that queasy feeling. I think this is a good thing. Too much of our appeal to authority is not having to know which ingredients came from China, and the level of lead paint in the soil there.

        Here's a lede sentence on Godel from SEP:

        His work touched every field of mathematical logic, if it was not in most cases their original stimulus.

        What a thicket of weasel words only an academic could love. There's

    • by sgt101 (120604)

      Most of the "young" academics I know, and a lot of other domain experts contribute to Wikipedia.

      Y'know - the truth and facts and things... they have a certain sort of persistence and value.

      And ok, there's no credit, but that's what grant applications and papers are for right?

    • by chrb (1083577)

      My experience in academia taught me that there was no such thing as the "authoritative" source. If one scholar thought one thing about a particular subject, there was always at least one other scholar who disagreed with him/her.

      There will always be someone who disagrees, whether in academia or politics or industry. This is a good thing - disagreements lead to experiments, which lead to answers and convergence on more accurate hypotheses. But one of the unfortunate side effects of debate is that some members of the public will inevitably latch onto crackpot ideas that agree with their pre-existing notions of the world, and assign as much value to the opinion of a single scholar as to the settled findings of the field. For example,

      • by Teancum (67324)

        Whether one way is better than the other remains to be seen, but I don't really see the conflict - there is plenty of space on the net for Wikipedia, Scholarpedia, Stanford Encyclopedia etc. Arguing that there should be only one encyclopedia is like arguing that there should only be one newspaper.

        What I see as a problem with efforts to substantially increase standards with the development of an encyclopedia is this: how do you keep the information from getting stale? The 1911 Encyclopedia Brittianica is a wonderful source of information but the information in it is a century out of date. For some things that isn't too bad, although a century of scientific discovery has made much of that publication obsolete or at least not something to reference when even doing an initial survey of a topic.

        Effort

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      Bingo. I have sat through many lectures in college where the instructor was simply BSing their way through the subject matter, and many where they were just plain wrong. Not all of them mind you, but my experience with Wikipedia is that it is about as reliable as what you get out of a college. In both cases, you have to look at what kind of information is presented. Soft subjects are pretty poor. Hard subjects are generally pretty good, or at least verifiable. History is politically decided.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fermion (181285)
      I completely agree. Wikipedia has gotten a bad rap on two accounts. First, it is compared with Brittanica, and not the average piece of trash 'encyclopedia' that the average person might use or, at one time, buy for their kids. Being a Britannica user from a very early age, I was shock what they expected us to use at school. Wikipedia as a replacement for the 'door to door' encyclopedia, as opposed to the encyclopaedia, is excellent.

      But there is more fundamental reason why Wikipedia is not only an acc

    • For all the ribbing it takes, my experience with Wikipedia is that it's generally pretty reliable. In the subjects of my narrow areas of expertise, I've found it to be pretty accurate--or at least as accurate as any other conventional source (i.e. Britannica).

      In my areas of expertise, I've found Wikipedia to be at least as accurate any conventional source as well... Or in other words, wildly inaccurate.

      Of course, scholars don't like it because they don't get paid to write articles for it (the way t

    • Re:Academics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @05:08PM (#33502432) Homepage

      My experience in academia taught me that there was no such thing as the "authoritative" source.

      My impression of the term "authoritative" in an academic context is that it usually doesn't mean "correct" so much as "citable". Someone is an "authority" in that they've actually done some research or survey or study, and they are citing their own work and their own conclusions, so you are thereby allowed to cite them citing their own work. When you cite them, it doesn't mean that what you've said is correct. It means that what you've said can be backed up by someone else with supposed expertise.

      And so the problem with the Wikipedia (and encyclopedias in general) is that they are not primary sources, and generally no particular person is claiming responsibility for the articles. That doesn't necessarily make them less accurate or less reliable, but it does mean they're less authoritative.

      If that doesn't make it clear, think about the word "official". You get an official statement from a business. Is it more true than an unofficial statement? Not necessarily. What's the difference? There is some official source of the statement that you can cite. I can go to the Apple website and find a claim that Apple iPads are "magical", and I can cite that as an official statement from Apple. I may be able to find a Wikipedia article that says that iPads are not "magical", which would not be official in any way. "Official" has nothing to do with truth, it's just about having a source. "Authoritative" is sometimes used with a similar meaning.

  • by bbtom (581232) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @03:40PM (#33501296) Homepage Journal

    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is pretty great. A lot of young academics and Ph.D's in philosophy are writing stuff up for it. Really great resource.

    It isn't really an alternative to Wikipedia though: Wikipedia is about more than just philosophy. Similarly, the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy - the big printed encyclopedia on philosophy - isn't an alternative to Britannica. It is a subject-specific encyclopedia. The two have different roles.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Itninja (937614)
      All I know is this: if I can't ctrl-a, ctrl-c, ctrl-v, grep out all special characters, then take that and ctrl-a, ctrl-c, and ctrl-v into a Slashdot comment to appear learned, and then delete the article to cover my tracks....it's not a valid source of information.
    • by edremy (36408)
      I'll second this. I'm teaching a course that includes a lot of philosophy of science this semester which is waaaay outside my normal comfort zone (I'm a chemist by training) and the SEoP has been a really useful resource. It's pretty accessible and I have a lot higher comfort level in the material there than a place like Wikipedia.
  • The problem Wikipedia has is comparing it to other digital encyclopedias. Ether this will prove to be a better academic way to source work, or it will be a bureaucratic nightmare and die due to the lack of information. I don't see why it would work if they think they'll only get 1200 articles though. What makes any encyclopedia good is a high volume of content not just quality.
  • Awesome! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @03:43PM (#33501332)
    Let's copy these articles into Wikipedia, so they're actually of use to someone.
  • Tough crowd here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @03:44PM (#33501334) Homepage
    I've been struck by the negative opinions of the discipline of philosophy on Slashdot over the last few years. Lots of people saying "No empirical testing? Then it's crap!", without apparently realizing that vital questions they have to face in everyday life, such as ethics, are part of philosophy. It's not just all fanciful proofs of God or poststructural interpretations of classic literature.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I've been struck by the negative opinions of the discipline of philosophy on Slashdot over the last few years. Lots of people saying "No empirical testing? Then it's crap!", without apparently realizing that vital questions they have to face in everyday life, such as ethics, are part of philosophy. It's not just all fanciful proofs of God or poststructural interpretations of classic literature.

      Yes, many people seem to be really hung up on the fact that philosophy is not science. Unfortunately for them almost all of science is based on metaphysics and the scientific method (the very tool they are are using to heap scorn on philosophy) is the result of epistemology. Philosophy is thinking about thinking; it's a meta-subject. It will always have value as long as people are eager to have their ideas criticized. Unfortunately most of the people saying "No empirical testing? Then it's crap!" are th

      • by jpmorgan (517966)

        It wasn't always as you describe. Philosophy has really always been the study of the unknowable. And as knowledge progresses and we learn how to discover things, they stop being philosophy. Much of what we consider science was once the purview of philosophy, until science was invented. There's a reason why an older name for science is 'natural philosophy,' and why PhD stands for Doctorate of Philosophy.

        Of course, in today's world the realm of the unknowable is so obscure that 'philosophy,' in modern times h

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They also don't realize that major areas of philosophy underlay empiricism. Specifically metaphysics (the study of the nature of existence) and epistemology (the study of the nature of knowledge). If you are doing physical science you are assuming certain metaphysical and epistemic conclusions. You may not be interested in them, but, as the cliche goes, they are interested in you. Combine that with the fact that another areas of philosophy, logic, underlies mathematics and you have one very fundamental disc

    • by funkatron (912521)
      Trouble is, philosophical writing is pretty variable. It can deliver great works which advance our understanding of the world but it can also deliver dense texts which don't seem to say a whole lot. Add to this the fact that some of the greats need a lot historical context to make sense (for instance, try reading Kant without knowing which problems he was trying to solve) and you have a situation where someone who selects the wrong book as an introduction to philosophy can be left with a pretty negative vie
  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @03:44PM (#33501338) Homepage Journal

    If all you want is information on philosophy. I'd like to see similar encyclopedias on other disciplines, like physics or engineering.

    But if you want a track listing for Led Zeppelin IV, or just want to do some personal research like I did before my eye surgeries, or for a slashdot argument, Wikipedia is the place to go.

    If you're doing academic research, it's a good pointer to citable publications and articles. And I rather like having to click to read about related stuff; it keeps me from having to go over stuff I may already understand.

    • by trb (8509)
      Yes. That's like saying that zappos.com is an authoritative alternative to amazon.com, without mentioning that zappos is limited to shoes.
    • by swillden (191260)

      If all you want is information on philosophy. I'd like to see similar encyclopedias on other disciplines, like physics or engineering.

      But if you want a track listing for Led Zeppelin IV, or just want to do some personal research like I did before my eye surgeries, or for a slashdot argument, Wikipedia is the place to go.

      Or if you want information on philosophy, Wikipedia is the place to go, to find articles that will cite/quote this encyclopedia of philosophy.

  • by Dalzhim (1588707) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @03:53PM (#33501422)

    If you are a young academic, who might spend six months preparing a great article on Thomas Aquinas, you're not going to publish in a place where anyone can come along and do better.

  • by EvolutionsPeak (913411) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @03:55PM (#33501468)

    This piqued my interest so I took a look at an article on "Actualism". Here is the first paragraph:

    To understand the thesis of actualism, consider the following example. Imagine a race of beings — call them ‘Aliens’ — that is very different from any life-form that exists anywhere in the universe; different enough, in fact, that no actually existing thing could have been an Alien, any more than a given gorilla could have been a fruitfly. Now, even though there are no Aliens, it seems intuitively the case that there could have been such things. After all, life might have evolved very differently than the way it did in fact. For example, if the fundamental physical constants or the laws of evolution had been slightly different, very different kinds of things might have existed. So in virtue of what is it true that there could have been Aliens when in fact there are none, and when, moreover, nothing that exists in fact could have been an Alien?

    If this is a representative sample then I'll stick to wikipedia. Can someone decipher that last sentence for me? I've read it several times and I can't seem to grasp what it is saying.

    • by phiwum (319633)

      This piqued my interest so I took a look at an article on "Actualism". Here is the first paragraph:

      So in virtue of what is it true that there could have been Aliens when in fact there are none, and when, moreover, nothing that exists in fact could have been an Alien?

      If this is a representative sample then I'll stick to wikipedia. Can someone decipher that last sentence for me? I've read it several times and I can't seem to grasp what it is saying.

      The problem is that you're not used to certain kinds of philosophical jargon.

      The author is asking: Given that there are no aliens and that nothing which exists could have been (counterfactually) an alien, what would make the sentence "There could have been Aliens" true?

      It's abstruse philosophy about the problems of what could make a sentence that "X is possible" true, given that X is in fact false, as I understand it. (Perhaps my move from "there could have been..." to "...is possible" is not an equivalenc

    • Can someone decipher that last sentence for me? I've read it several times and I can't seem to grasp what it is saying.

      So in virtue of what is it true that there could have been Aliens when in fact there are none, and when, moreover, nothing that exists in fact could have been an Alien?

      vaj Daq vo' nuq 'oH 'oH teH vetlh pa' laH ghaj taH ghorgh Daq pa' 'oH pagh 'ej ghorgh pagh vetlh Daq laH ghaj taH?

      I'm a bit rusty, but it does seem to parse out better in Klingon.

    • Since we have imperfect knowledge about the said universe we are stuck with discussing the validity of the logic. The truethyness of the statement will forever be in doubt given that we may indeed learn something new about the universe that will make the alien existence possible. So actually it is a highly academic discussion of how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.
    • If this is a representative sample then I'll stick to wikipedia. Can someone decipher that last sentence for me? I've read it several times and I can't seem to grasp what it is saying.

      The original:

      So in virtue of what is it true that there could have been Aliens when in fact there are none, and when, moreover, nothing that exists in fact could have been an Alien?

      My translation: What makes it true that there could be Aliens, when there are none in fact, and they are precluded from existing by the "Laws of N

  • by divisionbyzero (300681) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @03:55PM (#33501470)

    I've been going to plato.stanford.edu for years.

  • Decades... (Score:2, Funny)

    by KimmoS (1448215)

    "For decades, Stanford has been working on a different kind of Wikipedia"

    http://wonder-tonic.com/geocitiesizer/content.php?theme=3&music=11&url=plato.stanford.edu/entries/turing/ [wonder-tonic.com]

  • by kevinNCSU (1531307) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:03PM (#33501558)

    So the article is titled:

    "Wikipedia, if it were run by academic experts, would look like this"

    Intrigued I clicked the link and got a firefox unable to connect/page unavailable error. So in principle I agree. This is exactly what a webpage with wikipedia's user base would look like if it were run by Academics.

  • Silly article spin (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mattdm (1931) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:04PM (#33501576) Homepage

    There's room for -- and need for -- both this sort of site *and* for Wikipedia or something like it.

    The article wants to cast this as some sort of competition, and tie into existing anti-wikipedia bias, but there's no particular reason that this is actually a zero-sum game.

    In fact, Wikipedia's strength is partly in its policy of _never_ being authoritative. You want that, you follow the citations. And this is a great example of a site that Wikipedia can refer to.

  • If you are a young academic, who might spend six months preparing a great article on Thomas Aquinas, you're not going to publish in a place where anyone can come along and change this

    For some reason, this line really bugs me. Maybe it depends on what your goal is? If your goal is to provide the most up-to-date, complete reference, then heck yes, I would say, you SHOULD put it somewhere that other people can change it. In case they have anything to add to what you wrote, or in case there are any things y

    • Wikipedia has a lousy handle on C. If you don't see this, your adherence to the idea of Wikipedia is blinding you to the reality of Wikipedia.

      In addition, the vetting of initial information so that people can make minor changes at a later time is pretty bad, too.

    • by jjohnson (62583)

      assuming that you have at least some degree of trust that they will do so in good faith and not just delete/vandalize your work I guess.

      This is exactly where Wikipedia falls down.

      And wikipedia HAS a pretty good handle on C, all things considered.

      No, it doesn't. It appears to on topics on which there's widespread agreement about factual knowledge because there's an easily referenced external source. On any topic requiring real expertise, or worse, a topic on which there are few experts (but many who think

  • Centizendium is the half-way point between the free-for-all of Wikipedia, and the extremely stuffy "authoritative" wikis (at that point, really, why bother?).

    With CZ, you are required to use your real name, and if you largely write an article and hang around to maintain it, you do get a degree of ownership to it, with etiquette and policy dictating that any other contributors merely suggest their recomended changes to the original author via the talk page, rather than everyone willy-nilly making changes as

  • Instead of making out like this is something "NEW" let us just call it what it is. A "Journal". All be it one that doesn't cover a great many interesting things and takes extremely long to get things published. But as long as you are publishing things that will not go out of date then you are ok. What I find interesting is this trumped up need to say open wikipedia bad -- peer reviewed journal good or vise versa. The fact is we need both. Get over it academia.
  • 120 only ?! That is far too few reviewers!

    That is less than one per academic topic.

    No wonder that Wikipedia will remain relevant.

  • I'm not sure that an article on quantum computing is best peer reviewed by 120 philosophers...
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @04:25PM (#33501902) Homepage

    I wish them luck, but it is certainly not the first time it's been tried. In fact, Wikipedia originated as Nupedia [wikipedia.org], "an English-language Web-based encyclopedia whose articles were written by experts and licensed as free content." After three years, perhaps 100 articles were close to completion. Wikipedia was originally conceived as a source of draft articles to be reworked into Nupedia.

    The assignment of credit for Wikipedia between Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger is a matter of dispute. The two, sometimes described as co-founders, have squabbled publicly. Sanger is probably responsible for some of the cultural foundations of Wikipedia that have led to the surprisingly high degree of accuracy it has.

    In 2006, Sanger, unhappy with Wikipedia's undervaluing of expertise, launched Citizendium [citizendium.org], an expert-approved wiki-based encyclopedia, which is said to currently have "We currently have 14,722 articles at different stages of collaborative development, of which 148 are expert-approved."

    I am not saying Stanford's experiment can't succeed. I'm not saying Citizendium has failed. But I know where I got for answers, and it's not Citizendium. (And it's not Knol, either). The traditional encyclopedia--Encyclopedia Britannica--was able to pay contributors, using money it earned by selling print volumes. The social ecology of free web encyclopedias is tricky. There is probably more to success than saying "We'll be just like Wikipedia, but we'll restrict participation to experts." Experts usually want to be paid in something more than ego-boosting.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by fishexe (168879)

      I wish them luck, but it is certainly not the first time it's been tried.

      Actually, given that it originated in 1995, it probably is.

  • This is a Wiki on Philosophy. Wikipedia is Wiki meant to be an encyclopedia of everything possible. How does one show that this is what Wikipedia would look like if run by academics if it's not serving the exact same purpose? So would that mean Wookiepedia.com is what Wikipedia would look like if run by Star Wars fans? It's like handing a book on philosophy to someone and saying "This is what Encyclopedia Britanica would look like if Philosophers wrote it."

  • I saw the stanford website several years ago, and thought it poorly written and incomprehensible to the non specialist at the time; revisiting the goedel link in the article does nothing to dispell that impression.
    However, the editor of the stanford site is quite right, that academics and others with some expertise don't want to see their hardwork trashed on wiki; I personaly know a lot about molecular biology and DNA, but have stopped contributing because, (a) doofuses keep saying stuff that is wrong, and
  • You do want people to change it, if they have improved the facts.

    And you want it to be up-to-date. If it takes six months to get the first word of an article online, then there's a chance you've got a lot of facts in the article that have been overcome by events in that six months. Not so relevant on Thomas Aquinas, hyper-relevant on Solar Technology.

    Yes, peer review is a good thing that improves the chances the facts are correct. But you have to be able to take a fractal approach to granularity of the f

  • ``Our model is authoritative. [Wikipedia's] model is one an academic isn't going to be attracted to. If you are a young academic, who might spend six months preparing a great article on Thomas Aquinas, you're not going to publish in a place where anyone can come along and change this.''

    This is why, when using Wikipedia as a source, you should link to the Wikipedia article at a certain point in time. For example, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia&oldid=383329630 [wikipedia.org] is always going to refer

  • Sokal affair (Score:4, Insightful)

    by D H NG (779318) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @05:26PM (#33502624)
    "Vetted by experts" in the social sciences means nothing. Anyone heard of the Sokal affair [wikipedia.org]?
  • review? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheBean (19689) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @06:08PM (#33503148)
    From the article on quantum computing:

    As an ultimate answer to this question one would like to have something similar to Bell's (1964) famous theorem, i.e., a succinct crispy statement of the fundamental difference between quantum and classical systems, encapsulated in the non-commutative character of observables.

    - It is not clear to me that the adjective "crispy" should ever be used to modify the noun "statement" in a professional publication. - Even so, a comma should be inserted between two consecutive adjectives: "a succinct, crispy statement" - 120 reviewers: fail

Wernher von Braun settled for a V-2 when he coulda had a V-8.

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