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De Wicipaediae

Postby M. Henri Day » Thu Dec 15, 2005 2:51 pm

We Agorists often provide links to Wikipedia articles, either to back up our own views on a matter or, more generally, as a suggestion for further reading. But how reliable are the entries one finds there ? Nature has recently published an article dealing with this question in the context of the natural sciences ; the encyclopaedia gets pretty good marks, but is hardly free of error (neither, for that matter, is the so-called «gold standard», the Britannica). Nature has also published a leader on the subject, suggesting that «[r]esearchers should read Wikipedia cautiously and amend it enthusiastically», as has the Guardian ; Aljazeera has a brief article in today's «Sci-Tech» section of the English-language version. My conclusion ? Let us continue to use this invaluable tool and, in areas where we possess specialised knowledge, work to make it better. We ourselves can learn a great deal in the process !...

Henri

PS : One problem with the Nature-sponsored investigation is, as one might expect, its total Anglocentricity ; indeed, the author of the article seems to be so convinced that this is the natural order of things that he nowhere finds it necessary to comment upon the fact - which I deduce from the list of the 50 encyclopaedia entries [that used to be linked here] compared - that all entries are in the English language. It would be interesting to learn, for example, how Wikipedia articles in Swedish compare with those published in Nationalencyclopedin, or entries in German compare with those published in, say, Brockhaus Enzyklopädie. But somehow I doubt that Nature would be interested in sponsoring such investigations....
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Postby Stargzer » Thu Dec 15, 2005 11:37 pm

Well, my grumbling, Euro-centric friend,

:)

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NPG is a global company, with headquarters in London and offices in New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, Boston, Tokyo, Paris, Munich and Basingstoke. More than half of the company's business activity is in North America; it is also a market leader in Europe and Japan. Please send us your thoughts and suggestions on how we can improve our website.


Send them your offer to head up the Swedish Task Force. :wink:

Their staff seems to be mostly anglophones based in London, New York, and Washington, with bureaus in Munich, Paris, Tokyo (you'll have to co-opt Flam into your Task Force :D ), San Diego, and Sydney.

My UWAG (Unscientific Wild-Ass Guess, the opposite of a SWAG) is that they probably have mostly anglophone staff members and found it easier, and cheaper, to put that staff to work on the English edition of Wikipedia, but I've been wrong before, and will be wrong again sometime. :wink:
Regards//Larry

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Postby M. Henri Day » Fri Dec 16, 2005 3:44 pm

There you go, Larry, blasting this poor Euro-weenie, again - even if I would like to believe that, far from being Eurocentric, I am open to the possibility that other branches of humanity than Euro-(North)America have something to contribute to the common weal ! I am also aware of the journal Nature's Anglo background, and that it has latterly been bought up by a US publisher, which perhaps has had a tendency to further narrow its perspective. However, the fact that Wikipedia has entries in at least 200 languages and the changing pattern of use of the internet made me reflect over the possible need to also check the accuracy of entries of non-English versions of the encylopaedia. I hope that in so doing I have not inadvertently shivered the timbers of Empire, for that would make me very sad, indeed !...

Henri
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Postby Stargzer » Fri Dec 16, 2005 11:02 pm

M. Henri Day wrote:There you go, Larry, blasting this poor Euro-weenie, again


:lol:
. . . I am also aware of the journal Nature's Anglo background, and that it has latterly been bought up by a US publisher, which perhaps has had a tendency to further narrow its perspective.


NPG is a subsidiary of Macmillan Publishers Ltd, a global publishing group founded in the United Kingdom in 1843. The company operates in over 70 countries around the world serving a wide variety of markets. For more information on Macmillan Publishers Ltd go to www.macmillan.com.

Macmillan is itself owned by German-based, family run company Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH. Its interests include book, magazine and newspaper publishing; television; radio; and new media. Further information on Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH can be found at www.holtzbrinck.com/eng/index.html.


Then again, I guess English is from the Germanic branch of the IE family (except for that Romance infusion back in 1066). :wink:


However, the fact that Wikipedia has entries in at least 200 languages and the changing pattern of use of the internet made me reflect over the possible need to also check the accuracy of entries of non-English versions of the encylopaedia.


Yes, I can just imagine the Arabic article on Israel, and vice versa.

I hope that in so doing I have not inadvertently shivered the timbers of Empire, for that would make me very sad, indeed !...

Henri


I thought it'd been a while since Sweden had an empire . . . :)
Regards//Larry

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Postby anders » Sat Dec 17, 2005 4:23 pm

Stargzer wrote:Yes, I can just imagine the Arabic article on Israel, and vice versa.

That would be interesting to compare, I agree. Like Chinese and Japanese entries for the 南京大屠殺. (The Japanese version seems to start with a disclaimer, though.)

But my overall impression of Wiki is, that controversial items promptly are either amended or deleted or supplied with a suitable disclaimer. I rarely disagree with the English version. Some Swedish pages and those of other less widely known languages might be sketchy, but the major languages that I can judge generally seem to be quite reliable.
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Postby Stargzer » Sat Dec 17, 2005 6:58 pm

anders wrote:
Stargzer wrote:Yes, I can just imagine the Arabic article on Israel, and vice versa.

That would be interesting to compare, I agree. Like Chinese and Japanese entries for the 南京大屠殺. (The Japanese version seems to start with a disclaimer, though.)


Systran got this one OK, I think:

Nanjing big slaughter □


Yes, that would also be an interesting one to read.

In the articles in which I am familiar with the subject matter, they mostly seem to be well-written and accurate.
Regards//Larry

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Postby Flaminius » Sat Dec 17, 2005 8:32 pm

According to Wikipedia in Chinese "但是在日本,南京大屠殺是否存在仍然是有爭議的問題 (But in Japan, the (non-)existence of Nanking Massacre is still a disputable issue)." Yes, Japanese Wikipedia has been locking the entry of 南京大虐殺 for at least a year due to volatile edit-unedit-reedit campaign between prolifix writers (several individuals are supposedly acting in different nom de plume).

Recent arguments can be seen in Note section of the article, which is almost always about the number of the victims. In comparison with the 中文 article, which does not seem to be suffering from edit lock, I find it disappointing that the Japanese one does not mention the ruling of Tokyo District Courst in this August agaist the claim that the slaughter of one hundred competition is a non-exisitent libel. The slaughter of one hundred itself is mentioned in Japanese article.

I find the article accurate but shallow, suffering from serious lack of supporting evidence, detailed accounts and latest findings. This may result from exesssive editing competition that has grossed over poignant facts that not everybody can agree.
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Postby Flaminius » Sat Dec 17, 2005 8:56 pm

Two complaints for the Chinese counterpart.

1. The article focuses not so much on analysis of the incident than on detailing facts. This may reflect a popular Chinese rhetoric to use the massacre as a tool for official nationalism. A more sober article should refer to the consequences of the incident (I find it curious that the article does not mention Tokyo Tribunal executed one general mostl on account of the massacre), its bearing on the current politics, jurisprudence and so forth. Priding in suffering does not promote objective inquiry. This is not to say, of course, the Chinese article has things to be desired of in the order that the Japanese one does.

2. The article mentions that there is bickering over the massacre in Japan. By plainly listing more proponents of the "non-existence" arguments than those of "exisiting" arguments, however, it falsely promotes the impression that non-existent theory is dominant in Japan. The fact is that they are still just a loquacious few, though admittedly gaining increasing audience, whose academic qualifications of the existence proponents, who are usually trained historians specialising in modern China, Japan or related disciplines.
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Postby M. Henri Day » Wed Dec 21, 2005 4:01 pm

I hope and believe that Flam is correct about the situation as regards the current Japanese view of the events that took place in Nanjing 68 years ago this month, in particular that those with academic qualifications who deny the massacre «are still just a loquacious few», but I confess myself worried by the fact that, as he also points out, their audience (and indeed, their influence) seems to be increasing. Those interested in this matter and its consequences for Sino-Japanese relation seven decades on might find it worthwhile to read Peter Goff's article «Chinese plan for a Nanjing memorial to 'the Good Nazi' reopens war wounds» in the current issue of Japan Focus. (Note that the link therein does not go to David Askew's «New research on the Nanjing incident», as intended ; that article can, however, be found here....)

Henri
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Postby M. Henri Day » Tue Jan 03, 2006 2:36 pm

Here a link to a most interesting commentary, «The nitpicking of the masses vs the authority of the experts», by George Johnson in the Science section of today's New York Times, which very aptly adopts a Darwinistic perspective on the Wikipedia vs Britannica discussion. I recommend it highly !...

Henri
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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