0214: "The Problem with Wikipedia"

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Shadow
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Postby Shadow » Wed Jan 24, 2007 9:11 pm UTC

This happened to me the other day. I started out my looking up stuff on Twelve-Tone Music, worked my way through Schoenberg, Stravinsky, and somehow finished up at Tomahawk Missile systems.

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Judas Maccabeus
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Postby Judas Maccabeus » Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:01 pm UTC

Shadow wrote:This happened to me the other day. I started out my looking up stuff on Twelve-Tone Music, worked my way through Schoenberg, Stravinsky, and somehow finished up at Tomahawk Missile systems.


Okay, for a second there I though you meant that there was a link on the Stravinsky page straight to Tomahawk missiles. That would have been... interesting.

Random browsing through Wikipedia has been an old favorite of mine. Eventually I'm going to probably make it into some sort of a game, trying to work out how things will end up.

Maybe one could do a "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" sort of thing for Wikipedia. Not limited to Kevin Bacon, of course. :wink:

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Postby thefiddler » Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:04 pm UTC

Oh, man. This happens to me all the time.

One day, I was reading about the James Bond novels... then I was looking at different types of guns used during WWII... and somehow I ended up reading about comic book characters. Specifically, the Silver Surfer arc of the Fantastic Four. :(

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Postby Vandole » Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:25 pm UTC

I never find what I want to find on Wikipedia.

I was trying to look up the girl who was murdered (and maybe raped?) and about 10 people were witness to parts of it, but no one did anything to inform the police or stop the murderer.

Instead I ended up at Water intoxication. (Don't ask, it involves people who became famous in death and Leah Betts)

By the way, does anyone know who that was? I can't remember the details of it, but I find it an interesting example of the human condition.

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Postby Ronfar » Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:31 pm UTC

Vandole wrote:I never find what I want to find on Wikipedia.

I was trying to look up the girl who was murdered (and maybe raped?) and about 10 people were witness to parts of it, but no one did anything to inform the police or stop the murderer.

Instead I ended up at Water intoxication. (Don't ask, it involves people who became famous in death and Leah Betts)

By the way, does anyone know who that was? I can't remember the details of it, but I find it an interesting example of the human condition.


I found it.
- Doug

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Judas Maccabeus
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Postby Judas Maccabeus » Wed Jan 24, 2007 11:42 pm UTC

Ronfar wrote:I found it.


...from where I immediately began wandering around Wikipedia, getting as far as Clement Vallandigham and The Man Without a Country before catching myself. Wikipedia just does that to you.

EDIT: And as soon as I loaded it up to check the spelling of "Vallandigham", I began wandering again. :?

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Postby realityincog » Thu Jan 25, 2007 12:16 am UTC

This comic made me want to join the fray.

Primarily because my friends and I play a little game on Wikipedia whenever there are lots of computers around. We determine a page we want to get to and then hit the random button at the same time. Whoever gets to the determined page first wins.

I've even gotten non-geeks to play this and enjoy it :)

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Postby Workaphobia » Thu Jan 25, 2007 12:41 am UTC

I sort of wanted more from xkcd in this comic. Given how math-oriented the comic is, I expected the number of tabs to grow exponentially and for the last row (after three hours worth of doublings) to appear much, much bigger than it did. I mean, I wanted there to be so much branching that it boggled the mind (or at least looked something like this).

This laid back version of exponential growth simply isn't justified. Unless we assume that a human can only browse through pages in a linear manner. What, you don't browse the web non-deterministically?

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Twasbrillig
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Postby Twasbrillig » Thu Jan 25, 2007 12:48 am UTC

So true. It's fun on Uncyclopedia too. But eveything seems to link to Kitten Huffing.


I`m on my Wii right now! Can you believe it!?!?!!
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I wonder if you can see...
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Postby no-genius » Thu Jan 25, 2007 12:51 am UTC

Yes. you just told us .... get over yerself

burn them!
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muteKi
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Postby muteKi » Thu Jan 25, 2007 2:24 am UTC

realityincog wrote:This comic made me want to join the fray.

Primarily because my friends and I play a little game on Wikipedia whenever there are lots of computers around. We determine a page we want to get to and then hit the random button at the same time. Whoever gets to the determined page first wins.

I've even gotten non-geeks to play this and enjoy it :)


I do something similar. I will pick a random or bizarre article that exists on Wikipeida and either try to reach it from the FA or a random article. This list of links is my favorite:

Going from random "Sixteenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China" to "White Christmas" (the movie):


Sixteenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China
National Congress of the Communist Party of China
People's Republic of China
United States Dollar
United States (A wonderful set of links abound throughout the page)
Political Divisions of the United States
U.S. state
Indiana
Fort Wayne
List of Famous People from Fort Wayne, Indiana
White Christmas (film)
Image

quaverknave
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Postby quaverknave » Thu Jan 25, 2007 2:46 am UTC

Judas Maccabeus wrote:Maybe one could do a "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" sort of thing for Wikipedia. Not limited to Kevin Bacon, of course.


I do. but only with Tom Cruise.

it's actually ridiculous because I for some reason end up looking at lists and locations a lot on wikipedia and dude has seriously lived in any city I've ever looked up.

I feel like the only time I'm safe from him is when I wiki xkcd math concepts.

then again I have a problem similar to this wiki problem with webcomics.

utopian.bookmobile
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Postby utopian.bookmobile » Thu Jan 25, 2007 3:44 am UTC

wikipedia has seriously lowered my homework grades in school. Every time I go to look up a term on wiki, I end up spending hours clicking links instead.

my grades have suffered a bit, but on the other hand, I've accumulated a plethora of assorted trivia.

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phlip
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Postby phlip » Thu Jan 25, 2007 3:59 am UTC

Judas Maccabeus wrote:Maybe one could do a "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" sort of thing for Wikipedia. Not limited to Kevin Bacon, of course. :wink:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia: ... _Wikipedia

Code: Select all

enum ಠ_ಠ {°□°╰=1, °Д°╰, ಠ益ಠ╰};
void ┻━┻︵​╰(ಠ_ಠ ⚠) {exit((int)⚠);}
[he/him/his]

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Detritus
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Postby Detritus » Thu Jan 25, 2007 5:11 am UTC

Ha. I had four Wikipedia tabs open when I read this comic. One of them was Batman.
Then I thought, "Man, I should have just said 'yeah.' "

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Kurasuke
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Postby Kurasuke » Thu Jan 25, 2007 5:28 am UTC

I also do this. A lot. I learn a lot that way.

Lethal Interjection
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Postby Lethal Interjection » Thu Jan 25, 2007 5:51 am UTC

Very true. I've spent many hours on that mostly wonderful piece of internet.
I say mostly because I love it, but I know that for many things it is unreliable. Also because during a research project on the European Parliament of the EU, I was there, looking for some related things, and I clicked on a link only to be brought to a wikipedia page complete with a rather large picture of an erect penis. Let me tell you, that penis had nothing to do with the topic clicked on.
That said, I have had many fun hours on there. Like reading the backstories of many of the Xmen (I didn't read comics much as a kid). Or going through the episode listing for Arrested Development (all three seasons) and reading all of the inside and recurring jokes that I missed.
And those are just some examples.

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Postby Regulus » Thu Jan 25, 2007 8:27 am UTC

I have to admit I have a Wikipedia problem too. After reading the comic, I went to all those articles.
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6453893
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Postby 6453893 » Thu Jan 25, 2007 10:57 am UTC

This pathway thing is great. I structured it a bit better this, time, although now you can't read the individual bubbles. I got from Final Fantasy, to Consumerism, to Serial Experiments Lain, to Quantum Suicide, to Thought Experiments, to Fractals, to playing cards, to Film Noir, with alot of sidetracking in between.

Updated

realityincog
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Postby realityincog » Thu Jan 25, 2007 3:24 pm UTC

muteKi wrote:I do something similar. I will pick a random or bizarre article that exists on Wikipeida and either try to reach it from the FA or a random article.


yes, but with the added elements of a bad network, horrible computers, and competitors, what once was amazing self-amusement becomes a made-for-tv test of skill and word association!

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Tractor
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Postby Tractor » Thu Jan 25, 2007 3:39 pm UTC

phlip wrote:
Judas Maccabeus wrote:Maybe one could do a "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" sort of thing for Wikipedia. Not limited to Kevin Bacon, of course. :wink:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia: ... _Wikipedia


I think there's a certain irony that I checked out that link, and then spent an hour wiki-ing it up.
9 x 6 = 42

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Ender42081
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Postby Ender42081 » Thu Jan 25, 2007 8:55 pm UTC

when I saw a wiki page on how to survive a zombie attack (http://www.wannawiki.com/index.php?title=Fight_Zombies), I discovered I have read too much of this comic because I immediately searched for raptors... but sadly there is no such article. I say someone here NEEDS to write that article
----------------------------------------------------
Teacher: give me an example of a zeroth order polynomial (silence) you, whats your favorite constant?
student: e
-------------------------END OF LINE----------------

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Postby Jerf » Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:31 pm UTC

There's probably a good psychology test waiting for a thesis in what you visit in a Wikipedia.

Since Wikipedia is presumably a loosely confederated set of chunks of highly related pages (since that's how these things often evolve and that seems pretty likely), you could probably categorize people pretty interestingly by exactly which chunks they tend to end up in, and other metrics based on that (like how often they switch).

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thefiddler
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Postby thefiddler » Thu Jan 25, 2007 11:13 pm UTC

That would be quite interesting... now I am intrigued. Go figure.

Somebody should do that, sometime, though.

Medic
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Postby Medic » Fri Jan 26, 2007 12:50 am UTC

Wikipedia? Brilliant educational tool or fiendish plot?

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Peshmerga
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Postby Peshmerga » Fri Jan 26, 2007 1:23 am UTC

To be honest, I almost never end up clicking on any links in any article unless it's specifically important to the article and I have no idea what it is.

Am I the only one who actually uses wikipedia for informative uses, and not to gallivant among the thousands of links?
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aldimond
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Postby aldimond » Fri Jan 26, 2007 1:45 am UTC

Yes.

This is why (as one of my friends pointed out to me) the article on Wario is 10 times as long as the article on Hammurabi.
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Postby thomasjmaccoll » Fri Jan 26, 2007 1:49 am UTC

i'll second that yes... if i was looking for informative, there are better places to go :)
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Postby cephalopod9 » Fri Jan 26, 2007 2:17 am UTC

Today in my english class, the teacher asked who had used Wikipedia before.
There were people who didn't raise their hands.

I was scared.


For the most part, I'd say Wikipedia is pretty reliable for odd factoids, and general ideas (for example, how big a badger is, where cashews are from, and of course every minute detail of popular anime).
I can justify this because Wikipedia is editted by nerds.

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Peshmerga
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Postby Peshmerga » Fri Jan 26, 2007 2:32 am UTC

I find wikipedia to be an extraordinarily reliable source. I don't use it for research papers, but when I'm just reading for general purpose knowledge, it's fantastic.

To be completely honest, I find it more reliable than books. Thousands of people reviewing and detailing the same article helps minimize inconsistencies. I can't think of anyone who would edit a wikipedia article on say, the visible spectrum, and change the frequency of red by a few hertz. It's usually "red sucks cock lol" and then it's gone by the time I refresh.

Although some religious articles get fairly... heated.
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hyperion
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Postby hyperion » Fri Jan 26, 2007 2:45 am UTC

cephalopod9 wrote:Today in my english class, the teacher asked who had used Wikipedia before.
There were people who didn't raise their hands.

I was scared.


For the most part, I'd say Wikipedia is pretty reliable for odd factoids, and general ideas (for example, how big a badger is, where cashews are from, and of course every minute detail of popular anime).
I can justify this because Wikipedia is editted by nerds.

that's happened to me. i am constantly amazed at the stupidity and un-informed-ness of my peers. some of them have never even boiled water before. :?
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German Sausage
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Postby German Sausage » Fri Jan 26, 2007 6:22 am UTC

but...bububub...not even for TEA??

also, why is it that nearly everyone seems to have a section of their chain that goes through a weapon system?
<bakemaster> Only German Sausage can prevent forest fires
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TMT4L

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Postby magetoo » Fri Jan 26, 2007 6:40 am UTC

Ronfar wrote:Everything2 has this factor, too, only much worse.

Amen to that. People: You remember the first time you found out about Wikipedia, looking up obscure geeky subjects and said "wow" a lot? That's how I felt when I found out about E2; after using WP.

It's too bad that there seems to be less and less people noding on E2 these days.

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Postby beinsane » Fri Jan 26, 2007 7:17 am UTC

And then there's H2G2, which is something like Wikipedia, only not a wiki and with less of a stick up its ass. It's declined since Wikipedia entered the scene (and since Douglas Adams died), and is much harder to get edited. Hence obsolete articles like this.

I remain a proponent of The Wiki What Invented Wikis, aka Ward's Wiki, aka c2.com, etc., though I've not had a chance to look at it in a while.
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Postby william » Fri Jan 26, 2007 11:58 am UTC

magetoo wrote:
Ronfar wrote:Everything2 has this factor, too, only much worse.

Amen to that. People: You remember the first time you found out about Wikipedia, looking up obscure geeky subjects and said "wow" a lot? That's how I felt when I found out about E2; after using WP.

It's too bad that there seems to be less and less people noding on E2 these days.

I love both WP and E2. Wikipedia is mostly more extensive but E2 has something Wikipedia will never have: odd dating tips.
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Postby Nomic » Fri Jan 26, 2007 1:56 pm UTC

Dammit! I checked a link in this thread and endet up browsing wiki forn an hour. I somehow endet up going through amoebas, Start Trek, Borg, bioships, Zerg, Tyranids and gestalt psychology.

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Postby Tractor » Fri Jan 26, 2007 2:12 pm UTC

cephalopod9 wrote:For the most part, I'd say Wikipedia is pretty reliable for odd factoids, and general ideas (for example, how big a badger is, where cashews are from, and of course every minute detail of popular anime).


So...a badger is about a foot and a half tall and 3 feet long. And a group of them is a 'cete'...and now I'm off to see where http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_co ... an_mammals leads me. The collective mouns for animals always seem like they're out of left field, I must know more of them :)
9 x 6 = 42



Note: Randall kicks ass.

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Postby RealGrouchy » Fri Jan 26, 2007 3:55 pm UTC

beard0 wrote:Wikipedia has its shortcomings, yes, but you can always turn to uncyclopedia when it falls short.

I gave up on that when my addition of the {{stub}} tag to the article [[Your penis]] was reverted.

If that's not funny to them, then I don't know what is.

- RG>
Jack Saladin wrote:etc., lock'd
Mighty Jalapeno wrote:At least he has the decency to REMOVE THE GAP BETWEEN HIS QUOTES....
Sungura wrote:I don't really miss him. At all. He was pretty grouchy.

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RealGrouchy
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Postby RealGrouchy » Fri Jan 26, 2007 4:03 pm UTC

EvanED wrote:Maybe you went through IP by carrier pdgeon? ;-)

AAAGGGGHHH NOOOOO!!!! I followed the link!!!!

- RG>
Jack Saladin wrote:etc., lock'd
Mighty Jalapeno wrote:At least he has the decency to REMOVE THE GAP BETWEEN HIS QUOTES....
Sungura wrote:I don't really miss him. At all. He was pretty grouchy.

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Postby The Sleeping Tyrant » Fri Jan 26, 2007 9:47 pm UTC

This happens to me a lot, although not quite so drastically. As long as I avoid any and all of the music pages I'm content with wandering aimlessly.

Most people I know would never let themselves get sucked in though. This saddens me.


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