Archive for December 4th, 2011

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Wikipedia scares me.

December 4, 2011

No, it’s not the pictures of scary-looking folk they’ve been putting on top of the pages lately. I used to tell kids when I was teaching that the internet was a vast resource but not an accurate one, or words to that effect. I told them that I could set up a site with totally erroneous information and fairly soon somebody would quote it.

It happened, sort of. En route to looking up something else, I found a reference in Wikipedia to this very blog! Sadly, the author of the entry quoted something I had said somewhat out of context. I was reminiscing about a colleague in the music profession who had recently passed, and related an anecdote I had heard second-hand. I can’t verify the anecdote…I heard it several decades ago. I found that anecdote referenced in Wikipedia, implied as fact.

It did reference the blog post, but when you look something up on Wikipedia, how many times do you check the sources? First, to see if the author of the article interpreted the source correctly and attributed the information correctly, and second, to see if the original source seemed reliable? Yeah, me neither.

So, folks, a word to the wise: Don’t trust Wikipedia as a source. It even uses me as primary source material – and as we all know, I’m not to be trusted!

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