[WikiEN-l] No references in the "end product?"

Daniel P. B. Smith wikipedia2006 at dpbsmith.com
Mon Oct 2 10:10:26 UTC 2006

> Date: Sun, 1 Oct 2006 23:07:53 -0500
> That's true, but is also misleading.
> You don't see those references in the *end product*.

Oh? Take a look at the article on "Radioactivity" in the Encyclopedia  
Britannica, 11th edition.

It contains fifty-four inline references. It also mentions five  
"general treatises."

And the stuff in between is credited to a known individual, "E. Ru."  
with the Encyclopedia Britannica editors implicitly vouching both for  
his identity and his competence. However, if I want to check his  
competence for yourself, I flip to the front of volume 22, p. vii and  
look up E. Ru. who happens to be some guy named "Ernest Rutherford,  
F. R. S., D. Sc. LL. D., Ph. D., Langworthy Professor of Physics,  
University of Manchester, Nobel Prize for Chemistry, 1908, Author of  
Radio-Activity; Radio-Activity Transformations; etc."

So, depending on what you think of his character or his credentials,  
I can judge whether or not to rely on the stuff that's in between  
those citations.

A point that people seem to continually miss in comparing Wikipedia  
to other scholarly activities is that, to the extent that our  
contributors are less identifiable and less authoritative than those  
of the Encyclopedia Britannica Eleventh Edition or scholarly works,  
we _need_ to  have _denser_ citations than these endeavors. For  
example, our article on "Radioactivity" ought to have _more_ than  
fifty-four inline citations.

It presently has...

... _zero_ references. No inline references, nothing like the five  
"general treatises" E. Ru. provides (i.e. no "references" or  
"bibliography" section). Seven "see alsos" and seven "external links."

Most recent edits are by Bovineone, KaiserbBot, FocalPoint, Peyre,  
and Not obvious who their real-world identities are,  
but even assuming you take their user pages at face value, which I  
do, their credentials and achievements are:
"I currently live in Austin, Texas, but I am originally from  
Pasadena, California" (and has a barnstar); a bot with an emergency  
shutoff button; "One more user who believes that Wikipedia is a  
really really good idea;" "Wikipedia does not have a user page with  
this exact name;" and no account.

  For all I know,, _may_ be a Nobel Laureate, but...  
should I trust the unreferenced material in this article as much as I  
trust the unreferenced material in the Britannica article credited to  
E. Ru.?

More information about the WikiEN-l mailing list