[Foundation-l] Paid editing, was Re: Ban and moderate

George Herbert george.herbert at gmail.com
Mon Oct 25 20:05:29 UTC 2010

On Sat, Oct 23, 2010 at 6:17 PM, Robert S. Horning
<robert_horning at netzero.net> wrote:
> On 10/23/2010 03:42 PM, wiki-list at phizz.demon.co.uk wrote:
>> If at any moment it can be stood on its head then the information
>> contained in the articles can never be authoritative. Suppose I have a
>> calculator that every once in a while, and quite randomly, adds up two
>> numbers wrongly, such a calculator wouldn't be authoritative in its
>> results, even when it added the numbers correctly.
>> For some things, like who played who in 'West Wing', it is of little
>> importance. For medical issues the accuracy is highly important, and if
>> one can't guarantee that each page load contains the accurate
>> information then one shouldn't be pretending that it is in any way
>> authoritative.
> I would hope that somebody from NASA trying to plot spaceship
> trajectories around the Solar System isn't going to be using data from
> Wikipedia for those calculations either... or an engineer doing some
> structural load calculations using information about material strengths
> from a Wikipedia article.  I don't see medical issues as being anything
> of a unique case or something that needs to be especially pointed out
> other than it is foolish to use information from Wikipedia or for that
> matter any encyclopedia as "authoritative" without at the very least
> checking the sources used to obtain that information.  Wikipedia isn't a
> replacement for the CRC Handbook, nor the Physician's Desk Reference.
> It shouldn't be either although both are excellent sources of
> information for factual data that can be used in a Wikipedia article.

General agree.  I do back of the envelope spacecraft mission planning
with Wikipedia sources when on the road and away from my professional
tools, and back of the envelope structural design with Wikipedia
materials properties when similarly away from professional sources,
but I know what I'm getting there and always go look up proper values
if the BOTE work proceeds anywhere.  In some cases, I put the
structural and astrodynamics data into Wikipedia in the first place,
looking at the CRC, astronomical handbooks, and engineering data from

The risk here is that amateurs don't do spacecraft navigation or
structural design much.  They do - as a rule - take mediations and
have medical conditions.  In that sense, Wikipedia medical information
is much more of an "attractive nuisance" to the uninformed...

-george william herbert
george.herbert at gmail.com

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