Submissions/Don't Trust Wikipedia

From Wikimania 2014 • London, United Kingdom

After careful consideration, the Programme Committee has decided not to accept the below submission at this time. Thank you to the author(s) for participating in the Wikimania 2014 programme submission, we hope to still see you at Wikimania this August.

Submission no. 1112
Title of the submission

Don't Trust Wikipedia: Improve it!

Type of submission (discussion, hot seat, panel, presentation, tutorial, workshop)


Author of the submission


E-mail address




Country of origin


Affiliation, if any (organisation, company etc.)
Personal homepage or blog
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

From time to time a social commentator takes delight in exposing a flawed article from Wikipedia followed by a diatribe about why Wikipedia is not to be trusted.

We should see the fact that Wikipedia is not to be trusted as a positive virtue rather than a fault. Imagine what it would be like if everybody using the sixth most popular website in the world gave it 100% trust? It would be like something out of Nineteen Eighty-Four, a frightening monstrosity that was always “right”! In actual fact the fallibility of Wikipedia is something we should all cherish. We should appreciate that doubt in the mind of the reader is one of the key aspects of critical thought. This presentation will present this fallibility in a positive light, examining it in the context of thinkers such as Charles Peirce, Alexander Bogdanov and George Soros. All three have had a critical attitude to epistemology. Wikipedia embodies a theory of knowledge is actually compatible with rigorous science. Wikipedia offers a first port of call – perhaps through a search engine – when we want to find out about a topic. It offers a resource for a preliminary enquiry, where we can orientate ourselves. A well-developed page provides references which can be explored in greater depth, should the enquirer need to know more. But a lot of the time all we need is an impression, and maybe our interest is already drawn by hypertext to another topic more pertinent to our line of thought. But there is another important fact about Wikipedia: it can function as a magic notebook. When we discover some little but notable factoid about a topic, Wikipedia provides a repository for that information. What’s more we are encouraged to also record the evidence for the fact. And if we add the page to our watchlist it becomes truly magic. As other editors add more information to the page our magic notebook grows. Others are sharing their research with us. This is an important aspect of science.

Length of session (if other than 30 minutes, specify how long)
30 minutes

30 minutes

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  1. B25es (talk) 18:27, 19 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Valentin Muenscher (WMDE) (talk) 09:21, 1 April 2014 (UTC)[reply]
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