Talk:English Wikipedia Quality Survey

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Hmmm... really nice work. But you know what? The fact that this project is a Wiki (and the largest one at that) will always presuppose that a percentage of the articles will be rubbish. However, there will eventually come a time (hopefully soon) when there will be a lot of articles (probably 50,000+) that will be comparable to the likes of Britannica's. That will be a good time when the community can go into discussion about creating fork "releases"—sets of articles that can be considered reliable. But until that time comes, the whole project can be considered as an "alpha" release (a la software). Britannica has had more than a century headstart; Wikipedia is barely three (?) years old and I'm already quite impressed by the articles in it. (In fact, I usually use it as a first point of reference when I want to get a gist of something I want to know about, like I did for en:Glaucoma recently.) Until then, it helps to just contribute and contribute.


This does however raise a problem with this project that I have mentioned before. I have now created 109 articles here, and I have to check all of them every day to see whether they have been vandalised or had stupid and ungrammatical changes made to them (such arrogance, I know). Can I do this for the rest of my life? Probably not. There ought to be a point at which an article is declared to be finished - perhaps if no-one has made any useful changes for a month, and then cannot be further changed without someone's permission. Adam 06:34, 20 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Yeah, I know. I don't watch my own articles as closely as I used to, and occasionally I find clueless poorly written changes which have been for weeks or months. But security scares away more genuine contributors than vandals -- that's the wiki principle. BTW I was interested to know if s/he was scared away by my user talk page comment, so I checked the logs. The answer is no, it had no effect. The user vandalised en:Earl Page the first time, hit "printable version", read some other stuff, vandalised it the second time and then left immediately. -- Tim Starling 06:48, Oct 20, 2003 (UTC)
Yes well that's all very nice but it does mean that the encyclopaedia will never be a fully accurate or reliable one, because on any given day there will always be a certain proportion of articles whose contents are rubbish. The encyclopaedia-using public will notice this, and Wikipaedia will get a reputation for unreliability, no-one will cite it, and it will never be a serious alternative to printed or even peer-reviewed online, encyclopaedias. Adam


Adam, you got great insight, very thing I am worring about. One of my teachers hates his students cite anything from the Internet, saying there are so many rubbish out there in the Internet and although some are good, it is difficult to sort out the good and the bad. We need reputation not traffic. There are dozens of web sites with reputation of good reliablity and but with less traffic then wikipedia. Some Japanese saying goes bad currency wipes out good currency. Bad things can make the whole look bad. -- Taku 07:15, Oct 20, 2003 (UTC)
"Bad Money Drives Out Good" is en:Gresham's Law. It may also be a saying in Japanese of course. Adam
That sounds like a very bad idea (declaring pages 'finished' after a certain amount of time), completely contrary to the spirit of Wikipedia. Whose permission am I to get, anyway? The most likely effect would be to cause minor improvements not to be made, and major ones to be done on separate pages rather than on the page itself. If you have information A and I have information B, chances are that letting me turn A into A+B is an improvement. Andre Engels 11:07, 20 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Am I the only who felt the quality of wikipedia has recently been deteriorating? I used to feel more tension that some other people will fix or complain my mistakes. Lately I feel I have more feel to edit articles. Certainly, a number of new brilliant quality articles are created every day but more craps seem to be generated with faster pace. If you look at VfD, there are tons of nonsense. I mean while the traffic increases constantly, are we really gaining reputation and prestige among general public? We need more quality control as quick as possible. -- Taku 07:11, Oct 20, 2003 (UTC)

I agree. Adam

Adam certainly has a good point about a certain proportion of articles being rubbish, at any given time. I'm reminded of Hegel's philosophy that history is evolving towards a perfect "omega point", and the criticisms of it in terms of "friction". We know that security reduces growth. Will there come a time, either for part of the encyclopedia or all of it, where the lack of security, rather than the lack of growth, is the limiting factor in the drive towards perfection?
As for prestige in the general public: we're still not very well known in the general public. On usenet we seem to be generally well received. Occasionally someone says "that's just a wiki, I'll neve trust a wiki for anything." But that seems to be more a reaction to our model than to the content. The opinion in the media seems to be generally positive. I don't think Adam's gloomy prognostications for the effect of junk will be borne out, as long as we keep it to a low enough level such that you're unlikely to find it if you're not looking for it.
And remember we do have plans for a stable, junk-free, prestigious "Wikipedia 1.0". -- Tim Starling 07:53, Oct 20, 2003 (UTC)
Where can I read about these plans? Axlrosen 15:40, 21 Oct 2003 (UTC)
Maybe you feel that the quality is deteriorating because you focus on the negatives. I, for one, believe that the content generally improves. On the articles that I watch (400+), there has only been about 2 cases of vandalism. If you look around, you'll see a whole lot of very good articles. --seav 10:51, Oct 20, 2003 (UTC)
Yes I don't dispute that, but if I open my trusty Funk & Wagnalls, I find that every article is very good, has not been vandalised, and is same as it was yesterday. Of course there are counter-balancing advantages, but nevertheless the quality control issue is a real one. People out there look things up in encyclopaedias to find accurate information, not to take part in the advanture of encyclopaedia-writing. If Wikipaedia is 80% excellent and 20% crap, while Funk & Wagnalls is dull but 100% reliable, most people will go with F&W. My feeling at the moment is that this project is being run as as excercise in indulgence for writers (including me), rather than to produce a product which readers will use. Adam
Well, if you spend your time watching the recent changes you can find many nonsense new articles, unwikified sub-stub articles, as well as vandalism (from deleting all contents, adding a single "fuck" into the article up to sneakingly changing a single number in a rambot article). When I monitor there I have enough work to do, and don't find any time for writing articles anymore. It's good to fix vandalism directly when it happens, otherwise it will slip through and will only find by accident later - like the vandalism of en:chimpanzee which stayed for several days... andy 11:03, 20 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Those who were following the debate earlier about Wikipedia's standards, might be interested in en:m:English Wikipedia Quality Survey. Adam 16:16, 20 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Wikipedia quality control is complained about perennially, especially by the academics for some reason. :-) The trick is to come up with a scheme that doesn't strangle new development a la en:NuPedia, still allows the "perfect" articles to be fixed when they are discovered to be mistaken or have been outdated by new information, and doesn't violate the general wiki spirit. Great minds (aka WP editors) have been thinking about this for two years at least; the best idea I've heard of is to take snapshots and run a final audit/edit, a la release branches in software development. Stan 20:25, 20 Oct 2003 (UTC)

See also: en:m:Academic standards kick.

This conversation is perhaps getting too big for the pump, but I feel I ought to say my small opinion on the subject. What are we trying to do here? Out-encyclopede Funk & Wagnalls? That's not why I'm here. I'm here to make this a useful resource, and a community that encourages intelligence, dedication, and balanced perspective. We're not going to make a new, improved version of F&W or EB or any of the rest of the big-name encyclopedias. We're making something very different. I own and frequently use a "boring" print encyclopedia--they're wonderful resources. But I used Wikipedia for reference for a year before I contributed _anything_ as an editor, so I know what it's like to be a user here. You get up-to-date information on obscure topics, you get to see new sides of things (say what you will about the debate at en:Mother Teresa, it's certain you won't see that broad spectrum in Teresa's encyclopedic entries in print), and you get to dip briefly into a community (via talk pages) and see what the winds of change are saying. That's what we're good at. I was never put off by vandalized articles as a user: as long as they remain in a small minority, I doubt most users will care either. That's my two cents...Jwrosenzweig 15:46, 21 Oct 2003 (UTC)
I've read the discussion, thought a little about the problem of ensuring quality, and have come up with an idea that might work. It is similar to the ideas proposed above, whereby a 'good' article is locked for further edits, but instead of locking the article completely, the current revision is simply marked as an 'accepted entry'. Further changes can be made in the usual way, and users can choose whether to view the accepted version of the article, or the most recent version which may have further changes (for better or for worse). This would probably require a default choice set via their user preferences to be useful. To create an accepted version of an article would require some sort of nomination and peer review process, as described above, but would not conflict with the concept of the wiki. Periodically any accepted article that has had a substantial number of edits will need re-evaluation, thus the accepted version of the wikipedia will be kept up-to-date. What do you think of this idea? Have I explained it well enough? HappyDog 23:52, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)
You've hit on a common idea that frequently comes up within debates, some form of sifter project. It seems likely that it will be created when Jimbo decides to get serious about Wikipedia 1.0 (the CD version of Wikipedia). I think it likely that there will eventually be yearly editions of the approved Wikipedia, which would stop articles being permanently frozen. : : ChrisG 00:57, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I know I'm a bit behind the times on noticing this, but out of curiousity, what were the three "miscellaneous" articles? TUF-KAT