Wikipedia:Village pump (miscellaneous)

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The miscellaneous section of the village pump is used to post messages that do not fit into any other category. Please post on the policy, technical, or proposals pages, or – for assistance – at the help desk, rather than here, if at all appropriate. For general knowledge questions, please use the reference desk.
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Wikipedia: How does this happen?

I browse Wikipedia on a weekly basis and find numerous blatant errors (incorrect names, incorrect birth dates/years, blatant grammatical errors, blatant text errors, etc) almost every time. Usually I don't bother to correct them, but what I'll often do is make note of the article and come back every so often to see if the blatant error has been corrected. 90% of the time (even if it's months later) the error remains on the WP article. So here is my question: how does this happen, and how can WP be considered reliable and legitimate when these flagrant errors abound and remain uncorrected for long periods of time?

Two recent examples:

The Dennis Kozlowski article had an incorrect first name (a totally blatant error for an encyclopedia) going back to January 2011. That's over THREE YEARS where an article had somebody's name wrong.

In February 2013 a user added a second surname to the David Parker Ray article. I did a google search and could find ZERO reliable sources for that surname. So a completely made-up name remained on a WP article for over a year, again how does nobody catch this stuff? (talk) 06:07, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

Somebody did catch it. You did. Trouble is that you didn't do anything to fix it. Why not? Wikipedia may not cost you money but there is still a price. That price is that you fix things that are wrong. You haven't been paying the price. -- Derek Ross | Talk 16:39, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
Vandalism happens, people purposely mess things up sometimes, but its typically someone making a mistake. The second one is pretty obvious vandalism [1]. The Dennis Kozlowski one seems to be a good faith mistake that predicates upon the assumption of good faith. [2] Neither of these articles are well maintained or properly covered - this stuff happens and fixing it is best. ChrisGualtieri (talk) 06:17, 19 March 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the heads up. Wikipedia is crowd-sourced, and could do with more manpower; such reports are always welcome. What would be even better is if you would help correcting any errors that you might come across. Cheers, -- Ohc ¡digame! 06:34, 19 March 2014 (UTC)
Not to put too fine a point on it, but it happens because people who notice the errors don't fix them. VanIsaacWScont 13:14, 19 March 2014 (UTC)
What I can't quite understand is how so many people can come across a blatant error and not fix it. If 1,000 people visit a particular WP article over say a 40 day period you'd think that maybe ONE person would take a minute or 30 seconds and correct the error. However that seems to not be the case since I have been browsing WP for about a year now and numerous times an error can remain (again not a minor error but a MAJOR/BLATANT ERROR) on an article for months or even years. IMO this decreases the credibility and legitimacy of WP, and frankly is just embarrassing. (talk) 23:57, 19 March 2014 (UTC)
User:Art LaPella/Is this criticism constructive? Art LaPella (talk) 01:21, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
I don't know if it's constructive, you tell me. Blatant errors abound on WP and yet it's supposedly the "go to" website for all sorts of information on various topics, bios of numerous noteworthy people, etc. (usually it shows up in the top five search results on google). (talk) 06:22, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
I think the problem is one of interpretation. The "go to" website and a credible source for otherwise unsubstantiated information are two very different things. As I understand the purpose of WP, while it's great that it's a "go to" tertiary source, it was never intended to be the arbiter of validity, just a source to point you to reliable sources. I agree that with the explosive popularity of WP society has changed its expectations to something very different, to a one-stop shop for reliable information with no verification required from credible primary and secondary sources. But that's just not what it was ever meant to be. I'm not going to be berate you for your "research design" -- you're free to fix errors or not as you see fit -- but it seems you're trying to debate a straw man argument about Wikipedia being an ironclad reliable source, without any references needed. That's coming from society, not from Wikipedia itself. I suggest you learn more about what a tertiary source is, specifically within the Wikipedia context. -- PhilipR (talk) 22:04, 3 April 2014 (UTC)
@ You use Wikipedia daily but rather than contribute by fixing things, you prefer to chastise people for not fixing things? Pretty hypocritical. Either Wikipedia:SIGNUP or quit complaining. Also, read 1% rule (Internet culture) because it may give you some insight into how the Internet works. As for expecting perfection from an openly editable encyclopedia with almost 5 million articles, many which have low traffic, it's an absurd notion. Maybe after editing a while you'll better understand the nature of the project. It is what it is. If you don't like it, stop using it. Nobody is forcing you. And it's far more accurate than your summary judgment gives it credit. Jason Quinn (talk) 06:26, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
I'm not really sure anyone (except the original poster) is being chastised, anyway. [EDIT: Actually, that's just referring to the original post. Comments like "frankly is just embarrassing" turn up the rhetorical volume, no doubt about it.] These sound to me like very legitimate questions about the ecosystem of Wikipedia, the sort of questions that researchers in information science pose all the time. In this case these questions may be borne out of a misunderstanding about Wikipedia's own claims versus society's ideal for this magical know-all encyclopedia (see above) but asking the question isn't the same as chastising IMO. - PhilipR (talk) 22:11, 3 April 2014 (UTC)
You can't just blow him off by saying he doesn't have a account. Thousands don't, and they have every right to notice and correct our mistakes. KonveyorBelt 15:52, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
Editors without accounts can fix almost any error they find, but that is not what is happening here. The OP finds errors and doesn't fix them, just jots down the error near their computer and then comes back months later and if no one else has found the error and fixed, then they will fix it. Then comes here and complains that there are errors that stay in articles for long periods of time and wants to know how this happens. GB fan 18:45, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
  • WRONG. I do it to see if other people correct them first, it's sort of like an experiment I guess you could say to see how bad WP actually is. (talk) 18:50, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
What did I say that is wrong? From your own admission, you find errors, you jot them down next to your computer, you come back months later to see if they have been fixed, you then fix them if they haven't been fixed, you complain here that people didn't fix the errors and you asked how that happens. These are all things either you have said or have done, I didn't make any of it up and am not wrong about it. I didn't say what your motivations are, just what you have done. GB fan 19:30, 20 March 2014 (UTC)

If you find an error, but don't fix it, you're part of the problem, surely? doktorb wordsdeeds 06:47, 20 March 2014 (UTC)

Let me clarify - what I would do is make note of a problematic article by jotting it down on a piece of paper I keep near my computer, then check back usually after several months (sometimes sooner) and approx. 90% of the time the error was still not corrected. I would then correct it myself if it was still unchanged. (talk) 07:54, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
The question you're being asked is, why don't you correct it the very first time you lay eyes on it? Often, all it takes is clicking to the page history and hitting the WP:UNDO button, which is probably faster than making a note on paper. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:42, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
You could also just correct the mistake, and then look at the article's history to find out how long the mistake has been present.AioftheStorm (talk) 20:55, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
The first answer from ChrisGualtieri is the best answer to your question. Vandalism happens and not all pages are watched by a great number of editors. Some articles have incorrect information to start with, but, again, they're usually not high-profile subjects that numerous editors are likely to come across. Your best bet is to check sources that articles link to to verify information. — Frεcklεfσσt | Talk 16:01, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
  • GB fan and Jason Quinn you are confused. The reason I'm posting here is to point out how inaccurate, unreliable, and riddled with double-standards Wikipedia is. I've noticed on numerous occasions how "WP Admins" or other editors who have been on WP for a while and have somehow "gained credibility" will squabble with "lesser" WP editors over a minute issue, or revert an accurate piece of information (usually because the source of info was deemed "unreliable" due to arbitrary rules that WP employs). (talk) 18:04, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
Yes, Wikipedians often miss the forest for the trees, because trees are what we can get volunteers for. Wikipedia has some mistakes, but if you really want to solve that problem, Wikipedia:WikiProject Editor Retention is more likely to solve it than berating the people who are helping already. Art LaPella (talk) 18:14, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
  • I'll give an example of what I'm referring to. The past year or so that I have browsed and read articles on WP I've noticed the California Birth Index (CABI) is used as a reliable source for dates of birth (after all that website is about as reliable as you can get). I also have noticed on numerous articles (I'm fascinated by birth dates and number sequences, don't ask why) those very same references and DOB entries get removed because they are not "reliable". (talk) 18:34, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
If you think Wikipedia:Reliable sources is too strict, then its talk page is the best place to discuss changing it. Art LaPella (talk) 19:07, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
Dates of birth sourced solely to such primary sources should be removed from biographies of living persons, not because such sources are not reliable, but because of the sections of Wikipedia's policy about biographies of living persons on avoiding misuse of primary sources and privacy of personal information. Qwfp (talk) 19:39, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
@ Presumably you came here to discuss the accuracy of Wikipedia. The article Reliability of Wikipedia can help you. Concerns about accuracy are valid; however, the way you've framed your discussion seems to me nonconstructive and studies show you're exaggerating your case. Your talk about "WP Admins" vs "Lesser editors", it's a off-topic, unfocused, red herring. Jason Quinn (talk) 19:56, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
Random statement: Have you checked the page view traffic on the articles you're using for this self-proclaimed "experiment"? Have you asked people you know have seen the article if they noticed the error at all? You may have been the only person who saw it and knew it was an error. What if no one has edited the article in a few years? That could mean that people aren't fixing it (whether or not they see it) OR that people who do not know they can edit Wikipedia are looking at the article. (Or in rare cases, it could mean no one is looking at the article, in which case, nothing will be fixed because, well, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it...) - Purplewowies (talk) 21:32, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
What I do not like about a lot of people is how they diss of Wikipedia very easily just for factual errors in the article. The thing is, there are lots of articles that are as accurate as the sources that back them up. Many of my teachers are against Wikipedia, but I know a few that, like me, think Wikipedia is a WIP and should be improved by everyone whenever possible, instead of just complaining about it. If this was the Encyclopedia Britannica, then obviously you have nothing to do but complain. But on Wikipedia, the edit button is right freaking there! Wikipedia encourages people to go and fix mistakes in its articles. That's how the encyclopedia grows and improves. Remember that Wikipedia is a permanent Work-in-Progress, and Wikipedia is (in most cases) allowed to remain imperfect. Besides, this doesn't mean that other sources are error-free. I have a lot of supposedly "non-fiction-books-that-are-obviously-more-reliable-than-the-Internet" sort of scheme when the Internet was first launched. In one of them, it said that "Blood in the human veins are blue". It is a misconception that blood in the veins is blue (it looks blue, but it actually is darkish-reddish and purplish, but not blue like food colouring), so something "unreliable and obviously wrong" like Wikipedia apparently knew better than a "reliable" book. And remember the old saying - "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." K6ka (talk | contribs) 18:46, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

There's this little thing called WP:SOFIXIT that, if more people would at least attempt to follow, can really help out here. Yes, Wikipedia's got its own little internal squabbles, but have you ever been part of a group that doesn't? With thousands of registered users and a bunch of IP's editing millions of pages (almost 5 million just in en.wikipedia) and the hundreds of somewhat less visible pages (such as this one), there's naturally gonna be some conflict. There's also an extensive list of articles that nobody watches at all (I was recently in a discussion about it, and the people who can see the list (It's sysop-only to stave off vandalism) say that the first thousand don't even get past the digits), plus the articles about some niche topic that the only people involved have long since retired. Sorry if I seem harsh, but it really irks me how many people hate Wikipedia just because of a few mistakes. Supernerd11 :D Firemind ^_^ Pokedex 03:51, 30 March 2014 (UTC)

  • 24.193, perhaps you're unusually good at spotting errors. I know that could sound facetious, but I mean it seriously. I don't spot nearly that many. It could be to do with the types of articles that you look at, maybe, or maybe you are just naturally really really good at spotting them. I'd be interested to hear how many you spot in a regular encyclopedia (I spot basically none). Balaenoptera musculus (talk) 19:49, 11 April 2014 (UTC)

Gender gap

I have been reading everything I can about the Wiki-gender gap, as part of some work I am doing on inclusivity. This article is rather interesting, although it rather understates the percentage of women editors at 10%.

It does however say "Early computer programmers were women, but this is generally not known and has been ignored on the Wikipedia page about the history of computer programming." I was surprised, because I know we cover Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper particularly well. I also knew we had articles on all six pioneer ENIAC programmers - they are listed on the [[Computer programmer] article, together with Lovelace, making 7 of the 8 named programmers women. (Turing is not mentioned.) We do not have an article History of computer programming, but we do have History of computer science, perhaps that is what is meant? Outline_of_computer_programming#History_of_programming is a good general resource.

Maybe someone can point Taylor Ulrich to this question, so that the omission can be found and rectified. I'd also be interested to know what the outcomes of the "Wikistorming" are.

All the best, Rich Farmbrough, 07:03, 13 April 2014 (UTC).

Rfc: Please contribute

A request for comments on the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater article has been posted on the article's talk page. Please contribute your thoughts and ideas. (talk) 14:31, 14 April 2014 (UTC)


Can a kind soul mark this page as reviewed for me? I'm tired of seeing the review toolbar on the side grin §FreeRangeFrogcroak 17:45, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

Well, as an admin you have the autopatrol right, which means the page was marked reviewed when you created it. As far as I know, the page curation toolbar shouldn't be showing up on that page at all, and yet... Novusuna talk 21:35, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
And yet it does! Weird, right? Not sure what's going on there. §FreeRangeFrogcroak 16:47, 15 April 2014 (UTC)

Oxford University Press databases free of charge this week

As part of the U.S. Library Week, Oxford University Press is giving free access to their online materials until Saturday. This is limited to U.S. and Canadian users. Please repost where you see fit. See here for login details: OUP page. The Interior (Talk) 00:08, 15 April 2014 (UTC)

Update Wikipedia Bio on Frank J. LaBuda

Hon. Frank J. LaBuda has served as the elected justice of the highest trial level court in the State of New York since 1997. During his tenure as a trial judge he has authored more than 154 officially published decisions addressing constitutional, statutory and common law issues. Judge LaBuda’s decisions have provided legal precedent for other trial judges on issues of evidence, trial procedure, criminal, civil, Surrogate’s and negligence law.

           Judge LaBuda established two Special Courts in Sullivan County—Drug Court, which provides diversion programs to defendants with substance abuse issues, and Vetrac, a specialized court that  addresses the unique circumstances of criminal defendants who are veterans.
           Judge LaBuda’s legal career spans over                 four decades; prior to being elected State            Judge and Surrogate, he spent over twenty years in private practice and in the public sector. In his private practice, Judge LaBuda handled civil and criminal jury trials in both federal and state courts. He also served as a Prosecutor prior to taking the bench. For ten years as a Prosecutor he held the distinguished position of Chief Assistant District Attorney of Sullivan County for all criminal prosecutions. 
    In addition to his notable legal career, Judge LaBuda first served as a Captain in the Judge Advocate General Corps from 1975 to 1978, and then returned to active duty for a second time during the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War as a U.S. Army Major in Operation Desert Storm. During the Gulf War he conducted investigations into various war crimes and was engaged in field operations and logistics in Kuwait and Iraq. Following the war, Judge LaBuda has been an advocate for Veterans rights and issues. He is also a member of the International Association of Criminologist (IAK) for European police and security investigators.
    Judge LaBuda earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence with honors from Case Western University School of Law in Ohio and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Lehman College of the City University of New York. He also graduated from the U.S. Army Judge Advocate School at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and has attended many specialized training seminars for State and Federal Judges through the George Mason University School of Law and Economics Center. The Judge has also been a professor of law at the State University of New York at Sullivan County; a speaker at continuing legal education seminars for judges in New York State, and a judge at the annual “Gabrielli National Law Competition” at the University of Albany School of Law in New York. 
   Judge LaBuda, who is fluent in the German language, has traveled extensively throughout Europe and Central Asia as a speaker on constitutional law, the Judiciary in the U.S., Arbitration and Trial practice. He has lectured and participated in legal symposia in Ghana, Hungary, Korea, Kosovo, Serbia, Slovenia, and Uzbekistan.  — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:17, 15 April 2014 (UTC) 

WP:FRINGE and self-declared countries

Since WikiProject International Relations appears to be quite inactive, I don't know of any other place to ask apart from here. Is there a way of dealing with users pushing a WP:FRINGE agenda of a little-known, non-notable self-declared country? Special:Contributions/Mountstella (who has also previously edited beforehand as an anon IP) has added mentions to multiple articles about the so-called "Kingdom of Colonia St John", using the alleged kingdom's official website as a citation. I'm under the impression that if a self-declared nation has very little demonstrated notability, forcing its insertion into articles is WP:UNDUE and perhaps even WP:PROMO depending on who's doing it. Has there been any precedent in the past to use as a reference? --benlisquareTCE 14:28, 16 April 2014 (UTC)

benlisquare: Given that this user has only edited two articles under this name and that there's no ongoing edit-warring, I don't think there's a need to do anything further. I've watchlisted the two articles just in case. If the user starts up again, and the user isn't responsive to attempts to discuss your concerns on the article talk pages, then I'd recommend asking for additional input at WP:FTN. Lesser Cartographies (talk) 20:45, 16 April 2014 (UTC)

Talk:Albert Levy (soldier)

I am proposing moving and renaming Albert Levy (soldier) for the reasons cited in the talk section. As it is an obscure article, I thought a more public place would be good to seek input on this. Thanks. 7&6=thirteen () 01:19, 17 April 2014 (UTC)

changing of Wikipedia username

I don't understand what happened to my request to change my username from Cherilm93 to CheriLM. I was under the impression Cherilm would become my new login, but that never changed. Then I thought all instances of my login name would change to the new login name. Is it so that maybe it never happened? I got a confirmation in a message, but everything is still the same.Cherilm93 (talk) 00:54, 18 April 2014 (UTC)

log out and log into the new name. –xenotalk 01:01, 18 April 2014 (UTC)

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