Re: When it comes to Computer Science, don't reference Wikipedia
Posted: Aug 1, 2005 7:15 PM
I think what you forget here is that the Oxford dictionary is over 100 years old, while Wikipedia is not even 5. Meanwhile, wikipedia has over 500,000 articles and, if you do a search for a random topic, it will probably be better researched (have more diverse scholarly sources) than if you spent an hour googling the information. This being said, to use Oxford as "the bar" is just plain crazy. You want something right, get a dictionary or encyclopedia. You want something quickly or something unique/hard to find (particularly pop-culture or geek-culture), go to wikipedia or c2.
The problem as I see it isn't with wikipedia. It is just in the way people search for information. In social science, I learned the following:
- Peer reviewed sources are better than non-reviewed sources.
- Original data is better than an interpretation of that data.
- Quantitative data is (generally) better than qualitative data.
There are other rules, but what I want to get at is, in terms of finding sources for online arguments (or discussions), the following:
- Avoid making assertions without 3 sources of greatly differing backgrounds.
I don't take anyone seriously who does not present me with enough unbiased information. Particularly if I do a quick google and the first 3 matches disprove them right off the bat. And I won't be fooled by three articles that have the same sentence word for word, as they've obviously tainted each other.
As for cdiggins vs. wikipedia... in my opinion, it is a base and primative battle on both sides. It is always the same thing. One side says the other side sucks, they fight it out, and ends with Wikipedia creating anti-Christopher articles and Christopher creating anti-Wikipedia articles.
So to sum up:
1) You have good sources if I agree with you, and pathetic sources if I don't.
2) Oxford isn't the bar. I am the bar.