Lopez Unmasks The Truth

Confirming John Lopez in his worst suspicions about Wikipedia is this strip from Penny Arcade.

The character “Tycho” elaborates on this theme in an extended (and undeniably true) rant.

I had seen the unbelievably detailed He-Man and Pok̩mon entries and assumed Рlike any rational person would Рthat Pok̩maniacs were largely at the rudder of the institution.

I am almost certain that – while they prune their deep mine of trivia – they believe themselves to be engaged in the unfolding of humanity’s Greatest Working.

Reponses to criticism of Wikipedia go something like this: the first is usually a paean to that pure democracy which is the project’s noble fundament. If I don’t like it, why don’t I go edit it myself? To which I reply: because I don’t have time to babysit the Internet. Hardly anyone does. If they do, it isn’t exactly a compliment.

Any persistent idiot can obliterate your contributions. The fact of the matter is that all sources of information are not of equal value, and I don’t know how or when it became impolitic to suggest it. In opposition to the spirit of Wikipedia, I believe there is such a thing as expertise.

The second response is: the collaborative nature of the apparatus means that the right data tends to emerge, ultimately, even if there is turmoil temporarily as dichotomous viewpoints violently intersect. To which I reply: that does not inspire confidence. In fact, it makes the whole effort even more ridiculous. What you’ve proposed is a kind of quantum encyclopedia, where genuine data both exists and doesn’t exist depending on the precise moment I rely upon your discordant fucking mob for my information.

4 thoughts on “Lopez Unmasks The Truth”

  1. The thing is, on non-controversial topics, Wikipedia genuinely does present good information. Music theory, mathematics, linguistics, alphabets, the history of language are all topics I have learned a great deal about through Wikipedia. Perhaps even more valuable, most Wikipedia articles link to outside sources, many of them to scholarly/university sites.

    Even when a topic is relatively controversial, most of the sides get a say in the article, or they get a separate article which the main article links (for example, evolution v. creationism).

    You’re really throwing the baby out with the bath water here.

  2. Sometimes, maybe. Sometimes not. As I said earlier, the two technical WikiEntries (or whatever) that I looked at when I penned my original piece on the WikiSewer were basically cribs from marketroid “technical briefs”, except that they’d been re-re-re-edited to the point of self-contradiction.

    I sha’n’t link those up due to privacy concerns, but let me point out another item related to some recent personal research of mine: CrappyPedia’s entry on RS485.

    First thing: the big fucking box that talks about the Internet Protocol Suite. This has virtually nothing at all to do with RS-485 (BitTorrent? Who bloody cares about that at a physical network layer? Why aren’t we talking about CAN or MODBUS or DMX or any one of ten-jillion other industrial networks here? Or better yet keeping the top of the document clean?)

    Next: “The recommended arrangement of the wires is as a connected series of point-to-point networks, a line or bus, not a star, ring, or multiply-connected network.” That’s great (and it happens to be true). Why? Sometimes a star or multidrop network or some weird combination of those seems like the best solution. To find out, you need to read a real reference: “Connecting a node to the cable creates a stub, and, therefore, every node has a stub. Minimizing the stub length
    minimizes transmission-line problems. For standard transceivers with transition times around 10 ns, stubs should be shorter than 6 in. A better rule is to make the stubs as short as possible. A â??starâ?? configuration (Figure 3c) is a special case and a cause for concern…” On for paragraphs.

    Next: “Without antireflection resistors, reflections of fast driver edges can cause multiple data edges, some of which can lie.” Lying data edges? Is there a Data Edge Oath we can have them swear? Can someone who doesn’t already know what he’s trying to say interpret that correctly?

    Another: “The following table lists the commonly used RS-485 signals and common pin assignments (RS-232, another serial standard, listed here for comparison):”. Except WikiSewer just got through saying “EIA-485 only specifies electrical characteristics of the driver and the receiver.”, plus the table is labeled RS-232, plus the text says that the table is RS-232. It’s as fucked up as a football bat.

    And this is just a glance by someone with a hobby interest in this. WikiFoolishness would be far better off deleting all of that copy-paste bullshit and linking right here. Except, oops, that’s kind of admitting that a for-profit reference is light years ahead of The Glorious People’s Encyclopedia, and say, don’t Google and Yahoo do web links pretty well?

    Hmm. Here’s another: “The .44 Special revolver cartridge is produced by the firearms manufacturer Smith & Wesson.” No, it isn’t. Fucktards.

  3. MJ,

    I think I can safely say we’re all totally in favor of Wikipedia’s policy of not holding a gun to anyone’s head.

    Enterprises have various degrees of viability in the market though. I think the viability of Wikipedia will ultimately turn on the degree to which contributors can translate their efforts into private goods.

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