[Foundation-l] Expertise and Wikipedia redux

Peter Damian peter.damian at btinternet.com
Sun Oct 17 07:37:03 UTC 2010

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "David Goodman" <dgoodmanny at gmail.com>
To: "Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List" <foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
Sent: Sunday, October 17, 2010 5:11 AM
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Expertise and Wikipedia redux

> (I leave aside the question of whether the synthesis or even the basic
> information can actually be relied on--I know of no branch of
> humanities or social science that has remained static over the past
> century. )

Thank you for addressing my main point, if only briefly.  I don't have a 
difficulty with wholesale copying in itself.  It is the *indiscriminate* 
wholesale copying without

1.  elementary fact-checking
2.  checking for agreement with more recent scholarship
3.  checking for style.  Many of the older sources are written in an 
outdated style that is not suited to a modern mass-market encyclopedia.  I 
haven't checked the related article on William Smith 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Smith_(lexicographer) (he was the 
editor of Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology) but I bet 
the sentence "In 1867, he became editor of the Quarterly Review, which he 
directed with marked success until his death; his remarkable memory and 
accuracy, as well as his tact and courtesy, specially fitting him for such a 
post." was lifted directly without any attempt at integration with the 

And my point remains about Wikipedia in 100 years time.  If Wikipedia relies 
on 100-year old sources, in 100 years time it will rely on sources produced 
today.  But today we only have Wikipedia. 

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