By Adrian Riskin Department of Mathematics Whittier College Whittier, CA 90608 firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask any college professor about the accuracy of Wikipedia and they will tell you … well, if they’re a mathematician they may actually tell you that it’s quite accurate. I often recommend that my students look up definitions in Wikipedia and I know that many of my colleagues do as well. In fact I look up definitions on Wikipedia myself. If you want to know, e.g., what a Halin graph is, you could do much worse than the linked article. Yes, it’s semi-literate at best, but it’s informative and not wrong. Furthermore, my colleagues in the humanities and the social sciences are so dead set against Wikipedia that I find myself unable to resist teasing them by remarking on how useful I find it in my professional work.
But you know, I’ve also edited Wikipedia, although very rarely mathematics articles, and
…continue reading Elementary Mathematics on Wikipedia
A couple of years ago a bored teenager took a couple of photos of himself and posted them to Wikimedia Commons. The first photo was of his bare legs, the second photo was of his nipple. Then for some reason, probably because he’d grown up a bit, he wished that those images weren’t on online any more. At the beginning of January 2012 he made a formal request asking Wikipedia commons remove the photos for him. Simply enough, you may think, but this is Wikimedia Commons, and things are never simple there.
Within a twinkling of an eye it was declared that photos of teen boy nipples are highly educational – request denied. But not before another user “VolodyA! V Anarhist”, who in 2000 was convicted of child pornography offences, had told him that:
Without any other information apart from “please delete” i
…continue reading Wikimedia needs your nipples
By Andreas Kolbe, with input from Eric Barbour
Wikipedia is the encyclopedia anyone can edit – anonymously, under an assumed name. Credentials are unnecessary. The Wikimedia Foundation does not even make any provision to verify the credentials of actual subject matter experts who are happy to edit under their real names. As a result, such experts have no more standing in Wikipedia than any other anonymous contributor. At the same time, contributors are free to claim qualifications they do not have – sometimes with amusing (or terrifying, depending on your point of view) results.
Wikipedia is also one of the top Google links for almost any topic under the sun. Enter anything at all in Google, and a Wikipedia article is usually found near the top of the search listing – a reflection of the site’s top-10 Alexa ranking. This visibility, combined with the ease with which anyone can change content at any time, makes
…continue reading Wikipedia’s Balkanisation