Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wikipedia Standards

I take exception to the idea that only scholarly journals may be sources of information.
There, fixed it for you. I'd even agree in proportion to the triviality of such information. As far as "Only scholarly journals are primary sources", the only other type of primary source is direct observation and personal opinion, but they needed to be stated as such and kept in context. The easiest thing to do here is when it isn't a scholarly journal, cite in text the context of your supporting argument, like "Joe the Plummer, some idiot tax cheat with no license that calls himself a plummer that happened to be standing around near Barack Obama one day while the camera was on him says we need XYZ to fix the economy" is reasonable, but saying "some people believe we need XYZ to fix the economy", and your source is Joe the Plummer and you cite it hurts your integrity. There is a really important difference.

Though honestly, my BS alarm always goes off when I hear the phrase "scientists say" or "doctors agree" us often followed by a line of bullshit. Truth or not, it is the epitome of lazy "journalism". Just take a short line to explain who is saying it, and a rough idea of their credentials. Then, not only can the information be put in context, but when it is proven wrong it doesn't send creationists in a frenzy writing their local school board.

This way when people share interesting stuff they read, they can say "Hey, some doctor guy is looking into investigating a possible link between mercury and autism." rather than "Hey, did you know the reason your kid has autism is because of those vaccinations you gave him?" Not that people are going to stop being idiots and grossly exaggerate things out of context, but at least when someones BS alarm goes off, they can more easily hunt down the source and confirm some kind of validity.

I would hope that despite publications [that suck], we can have slightly higher expectations for something we are going to call an encyclopedia.

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