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

Jimmy Wales jwales at wikia.com
Wed Oct 4 14:53:25 UTC 2006

Sorry for top posting, but I just wanted to say that I agree with Daniel 
completely here.  Sources are critical.

We have implicitly taken a stance with the world: we don't care about 
the _credentials_ of the authors, we care about the _quality of the 
work_.  This means: we don't just say "trust me, I am a Nobel Prize 
winner"... we can't, because we mostly are not.  Instead we say "Trust 
us, we cite our sources, we use rational arguments, we write clearly and 
neutrally, and we show our working."

(In American English, this is "show our work" but I got the phrase from 
David Gerard, who always says "show our working".)


Daniel P. B. Smith wrote:
>> 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.?
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
> WikiEN-l at Wikipedia.org
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> http://mail.wikipedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l

More information about the WikiEN-l mailing list