Who has the best Wikipedia?

This is a discussion on Who has the best Wikipedia? within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; This past weekend I decided I'd like to under go a little subjective review of Wikipedia and its various translations. ...

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    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    Who has the best Wikipedia?

    This past weekend I decided I'd like to under go a little subjective review of Wikipedia and its various translations. Of course, if you've ever clicked around the different languages, they probably shouldn't be called translations because they are for the most part their own pages with their own format and different data both in terms of quantity and I'm sure quality.

    I haven't had a lot of time yet, personally, but I intend this weekend to hit some of the most popular articles in terms of world history, math and science, technology, and current events and do a subjective comparison of the content. Now... seeing as that I'm only really fluent in English and barely conversational in a few other languages, I'd say my subjectivity is going to be not much more than how thin my scroll bar is and how many pretty pictures I see on the page. That's why I'm posting this here... because there are a lot of international members here that I think my be interested in looking at this with me. International members that could provide much better incite as to the quality of other pages in languages they speak.

    Basically, the reason I find this interesting is because I feel so much of my, as well as many people in my culture and generation's, current trivial-to-(not trivial but not focused) knowledge derives from things I read about on Wikipedia. It gets me wondering how the content of one's own native Wikipedia might overall effect the nation or culture's interest in these topics or perhaps even intelligence.

    I dunno... if this all just sound nuts, let me know, but I think it'd be a fun thing to look at and maybe derive some interesting data from.

    For now, if you want a quick question to reply to... how do you feel about your native Wikipedia pages and do you find yourself going to the English (or perhaps another languages) page to get more in depth information?
    Last edited by SlyMaelstrom; 10-16-2012 at 10:36 AM. Reason: grammar
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    Registered User whiteflags's Avatar
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    Simple English wikipedia reads better for me than the regular English wikipedia on a variety of topics. I know this is by design, and I have no known comprehension problems, but the regular English wikipedia manages to be very stuffy. Unfortunately, I don't get an opportunity to use Simple English wiki as much as I would like; usually because either the page I'm looking at doesn't matter or it's some technical programming thing.

    I can't be arsed to read an encyclopedia because.

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    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    My current employment is like 10% programming, 10% documentation, 20% building specs for reports, and 60% reading encyclopedias because.

    I don't want to make it seem like I didn't learn anything in school... but like anything you learn and care to retain, you tend to abide by the law of "If you don't use it, you lose it." Suffice it to say, I don't use World History that much in my day-to-day so I usually read up on topics, which I vaguely remember finding interesting in school, on Wikipedia. Now, so much of what I learned in school I've mangled together with what I've researched on the internet that I can't really say I learned it in school as much as I first heard about it in school. Catch my drift? I can't be the only one like that...
    Last edited by SlyMaelstrom; 10-16-2012 at 12:14 PM.
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    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    I rarely check the Portuguese version of Wikipedia. It's terribly lacking in content and as what I subjectively perceive to be a strong bias towards CPLP cultures. However, the few times I did, I can't say I noticed any clamorous distortion of the truth or any errors for those issues that I may have a knowledge about. There's also a serious problem (now mitigated by the recent enactment of the orthographic agreement between Portuguese speaking countries) of the various articles containing different forms of the written language as it is exercised by the author country of origin.

    I think the Portuguese edition of the Wikipedia is largely a failed project. No matter the good intentions, it's virtually impossible to cover Wikipedia scope and depth in the Portuguese language. There's also no guarantee of timely updates to articles based on recent events or discoveries, because the number of contributors doesn't even come close to a visible percentage of those available on the English version. For this reason, readers default to the English version, which further puts a dent on any pretensions of making something valid out of the Portuguese Wikipedia. Furthermore, as the English language becomes a study subject in schools from an earlier age (today you get it as an obligatory part of the education system right in the 4th grade), new generations will grow more and more accustomed to the foreign language and less people will have a real need for a Portuguese edition. But this whole paragraph isnt what you asked for. Just saying hi.
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
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    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

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    Unregistered User Yarin's Avatar
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    Hi Mario. How is the land of the dead this time of year?
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    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    Darn hot and humid.


    Really!
    The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”
    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.


    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

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    Devil's Advocate SlyMaelstrom's Avatar
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    Yeah, heh, I haven't gotten around to doing any of this either. It's certainly quite an undertaking and most of the non-English natives that I've spoken to this point tell me they have maybe looked at their native language a handful of time. In that sense, it doesn't really seem worth it to compare as it's not affecting that many people, anyway.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mario F. View Post
    I rarely check the Portuguese version of Wikipedia. It's terribly lacking in content and as what I subjectively perceive to be a strong bias
    The same for Finnish version of Wikipedia. There the bias there is towards conformance to the main (most widely accepted) view of a subject. Usually, the dissenting views are not mentioned at all, or worse, are mentioned in a way that colors them silly or misguided.

    The bias, technically, is one of omission. Any dissenting views have to prove their relevance to other editors, while conformant views are rarely challenged. (Note, I mean regardless of the external references.)

    Scientific publications in Finland, especially in linguistics, history, and archaeology, are extremely conformance-seeking. Any non-conformant research will have a very hard time to get published, regardless of its scientific quality or impact elsewhere in the world. If noted by main-stream media, they will usually be met with very veiled name-calling, recognizable as name-calling only if you have a sufficient background in the subject.

    I only noticed this because my own views in certain small areas differ from the mainstream Finnish interpretations. Nothing that would even raise an eyebrow elsewhere in the world -- actually, it seems my views are considered quite mainstream elsewhere.

    As I pride myself on being analytical, I checked out areas where I have some experience and knowledge in (but no opinions of my own), and realized the bias, compared to the corresponding English Wikipedia article, is clear. Only in contemporary local issues where English speakers have little interest in, is the Wikipedia coverage in Finnish wider than in English. It seems that the Finnish writers do look at the other-language versions of Wikipedia, and pick details that fit their own world-view.

    I believe the bias is unintentional, possibly even subconscious, by the Finnish Wikipedia authors. They don't seem to wish to include all the information they see in other language versions, and the ones they pick tend to be the ones that conform to their own opinions.

    In fact, the reason there is any bias at all, is probably because there are so few Finnish Wikipedia authors. Almost all Finns learn English at school, starting from the 3rd grade. (We also don't dub movies except for very small children -- we use subtitles -- so most Finns do understand English even if they're too shy to speak it. When a Finn stares at you under their brows, sharply/intently, they're just furiously trying to find out what you think of them.)

    If there were more Finnish Wikipedia authors, they'd fill in the details that other authors have left out. After all, the contributions are not -- or ought not! -- evaluated based on the author, but based on its content, and whether it has references or not. The drive towards conformance by existing Wikipedia authors is likely one factor that is driving authors to the English version. (I wonder if people tend to be less emotional when speaking in a foreign language? I certainly am, when writing English.)

    Perhaps a similar effect is at work in other languages, too? If so, you could make a very rough estimate by the number of contributors..

    In any case, I don't trust any one source. Be critical, and compare multiple sources, and make up your own opinion based on their arguments, not the source.
    Last edited by Nominal Animal; 10-27-2012 at 02:58 PM.

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    Unregistered User Yarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nominal Animal View Post
    The same for Finnish version of Wikipedia. There the bias there is towards conformance to the main (most widely accepted) view of a subject. Usually, the dissenting views are not mentioned at all, or worse, are mentioned in a way that colors them silly or misguided.

    The bias, technically, is one of omission. Any dissenting views have to prove their relevance to other editors, while conformant views are rarely challenged. (Note, I mean regardless of the external references.)

    Scientific publications in Finland, especially in linguistics, history, and archaeology, are extremely conformance-seeking. Any non-conformant research will have a very hard time to get published, regardless of its scientific quality or impact elsewhere in the world. If noted by main-stream media, they will usually be met with very veiled name-calling, recognizable as name-calling only if you have a sufficient background in the subject.

    I only noticed this because my own views in certain small areas differ from the mainstream Finnish interpretations. Nothing that would even raise an eyebrow elsewhere in the world -- actually, it seems my views are considered quite mainstream elsewhere.

    As I pride myself on being analytical, I checked out areas where I have some experience and knowledge in (but no opinions of my own), and realized the bias, compared to the corresponding English Wikipedia article, is clear. Only in contemporary local issues where English speakers have little interest in, is the Wikipedia coverage in Finnish wider than in English. It seems that the Finnish writers do look at the other-language versions of Wikipedia, and pick details that fit their own world-view.

    I believe the bias is unintentional, possibly even subconscious, by the Finnish Wikipedia authors. They don't seem to wish to include all the information they see in other language versions, and the ones they pick tend to be the ones that conform to their own opinions.

    In fact, the reason there is any bias at all, is probably because there are so few Finnish Wikipedia authors. Almost all Finns learn English at school, starting from the 3rd grade. (We also don't dub movies except for very small children -- we use subtitles -- so most Finns do understand English even if they're too shy to speak it. When a Finn stares at you under their brows, sharply/intently, they're just furiously trying to find out what you think of them.)

    If there were more Finnish Wikipedia authors, they'd fill in the details that other authors have left out. After all, the contributions are not -- or ought not! -- evaluated based on the author, but based on its content, and whether it has references or not. The drive towards conformance by existing Wikipedia authors is likely one factor that is driving authors to the English version. (I wonder if people tend to be less emotional when speaking in a foreign language? I certainly am, when writing English.)

    Perhaps a similar effect is at work in other languages, too? If so, you could make a very rough estimate by the number of contributors..

    In any case, I don't trust any one source. Be critical, and compare multiple sources, and make up your own opinion based on their arguments, not the source.
    Wikipedia (of any language) is the wrong place to be looking for details on unpopular points of view. Generally, authors attempt to explain something the way they see it, not the ways that it could be. But really, what do you expect from a place that tries to explain everything?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yarin View Post
    Generally, authors attempt to explain something the way they see it, not the ways that it could be. But really, what do you expect from a place that tries to explain everything?
    I thought everything included everything, not just that which is popular.

    Humans are social animals. We tend to form packs -- sorry, social hierarchies. We have a tendency to conform. It has nothing to do with intelligence, either: I've seen people much smarter than me become completely stuck in a particular viewpoint when a person they respect declares that viewpoint the correct one. Even the "teenage rebels" are just trying to find a way to conform.. we're a very funny species, aren't we?

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    Unregistered User Yarin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nominal Animal View Post
    I thought everything included everything, not just that which is popular.
    Indeed.
    My point was, everything is a lot, so the popular parts of it usually find their way on Wiki before the unpopular parts do. Whereas in specialized stuff, there's only so much popular information the author will use, before he has to move on to unpopular info.
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    Registered User whiteflags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yarin View Post
    Wikipedia (of any language) is the wrong place to be looking for details on unpopular points of view. Generally, authors attempt to explain something the way they see it, not the ways that it could be. But really, what do you expect from a place that tries to explain everything?
    I generally agree with this. I think you would get into more trouble explaining, in an encyclopedia of all places, the way something could be, though. If I'm coming at a topic from complete ignorance, I need well understood information.

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