Friday, November 27, 2009

Another poo-poo-er of Wikipedia rears his head

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution printed another one of those elitist columns so pervasive today in which the elitist poo-poos Wikipedia. This time, however, it's not just the content of Wikipedia that so rankles the poo-poo-er; it's the fact that the people he meets allegedly are using the facts from Wikipedia to become dilettantes who brow-beat their interlocutors with dazzling bits of information -- and the information is itself suspect. The elitist says that people shouldn't just get the facts on Sherman's generalship during the Civil War; people should allegedly read good books on the Civil War to get a greater breadth of knowledge.

Well, what if you don't WANT more knowledge other than the basic facts: deaths, path of destruction, overview of battles, burning of Atlanta, etc.? And if you did want more, Wikipedia puts hyperlinks on words, so you can do more research, as well as find more authoritative names and sources.

I've found Wikipedia to be an astounding and mostly objective source for quick information. I've often spent hours going from one link to another to get a more profound understanding of a subject. The few times I've noticed bias, it was obvious -- and often it was noticed by someone else, who put a notation of a lack of reference on the bias or made a comment on it. The articles are reviewed by so many people that it is hard for erroneous information to last longer than a few days or weeks. In other words, it's a highly credible repository of information. There's always a caveat on anything you read that some of the information could be incorrect.

The main problem with the elitist, though, is his false generalization that people use Wikipedia as some sort of psychological battering ram. I haven't come across one person, that I know of, who's done such a thing, so I must wonder who this elitist rubs professorial elbows with.

In fact, most people I know who use Wikipedia have lots of fun facts that they love to share. They love the fact that they can access information on almost any subject within 10 seconds instead of having to labor over 12-volume encyclopedias and their indexes.

I've used Wikipedia probably a thousand times. I've given money to them during each financing campaign because of the value I get from them.

And now I love them even more because they get under the skin of elitists. Maybe I'll send them a bit more cash this month.

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