Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Chance encounter suggests Wikipedia malaise is widespread

I went for a walk along the Thames during lunchtime today. On my way back to the office, I passed in front of the National Theatre. I spotted Lord (Jeffrey) Archer walking the other way. Despite having lived in London for almost two years now, I don't spot many "celebrities". So that livened up my day somewhat.

Given the current furore over the questionable quality of many Wikipedia entries, I thought I'd read his Wikipedia biography. Wow. They weren't kidding! Regardless of one's opinion of Lord Archer (and I would hardly describe myself as his biggest fan), I don't think anybody could describe that article as balanced or fair.

Two sample lines from the biography:

"It was during this period that he met his wife, Mary, a brilliant student who is believed by many to have had a hand in his most successful novels" (no references to back this up.... regardless of its truth, who are "the many"?)

"Archer never earned a university degree from the University of Oxford. He was there more for the fun that the studies." (really? What does that second sentence achieve? What's the basis? Also, notice the typo)

I've been pretty indiscriminate in my use of Wikipedia until now..... I wonder if the articles I've used for research purposes so far have been better written or whether my judgement has been more questionable than I originally thought...

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