Vast Active Library and Information Science blog. From a recent library science graduate in Wellington, New Zealand. A focus on reference and current awareness tools and issues, especially free, web-based resources.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Couple on Wikipedia  
The Guardian asks a group of experts to critique Wikipedia entries in their area of knowlege. Results are mixed, with scores out of ten ranging from zero to eight. The 'pedia seems to do well when reporting facts, and less well when analysis is required. I did like this comment from the former editor of the Brittanica:
Reading the entry on "encyclopedia" leaves one with the impression that it was written by someone who had no previous knowledge of the subject and who, once he got into it, found it did not interest him very much. He browsed here and there in one or more reference works and noted what seemed important, but had no understanding of the cultural and historical contexts involved. In other words, it is a school essay, sketchy and poorly balanced.
I saw a reference to Wikibooks somewhere else, and decided to have another look at the site. I really shouldn't have bothered. The idea of open source textbooks is a good and worthy one. But so far the results are wildly unimpressive. I skimmed through a couple of "books" in areas I'm familiar with. The contents were equivalent to a short introduction in a university textbook, at best. That said, there are a few good examples - e.g. the UK Constitution and Government, which is clearly written and informative. But it reads like an extended Wikipedia entry, not a book as such.

The Register publishes reader responses to an article critical of Wikipedia, claiming that the tide is turning against it, with readers being more likely to agree with criticisms.


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