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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

The opinions you read below are those of the individual writers, not necessarily views that will become formal positions of The Seattle Times. Respond to STop
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Jim Vesely
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Jim Vesely
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Lee Moriwaki
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Lee Moriwaki
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Joni Balter
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Eric Devericks
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Lance Dickie
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Bruce Ramsey
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Kate Riley
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Lynne Varner
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Lynne Varner
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Ryan Blethen
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Ryan Blethen
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December 15, 2005

Wikipedia 2

Turns out the massive online encyclopedia Wikipedia is more accurate than I thought. An Associated Press story states that Nature, a journal, did a side-by-side comparison of scientific entries in Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica and found almost no difference in the number of errors.

Earlier this week I questioned Wikipedia's model of having volunteers and users write entries. Wikipedia was embarrassed after a Tennessee man added to an entry that journalist John Seigenthaler Sr. was somehow involved in the assassinations of Robert and John Kennedy. The incident made me think about the future of newspapers and the push to have more readers involved beyond Letters to the Editor. I wrote:

Newspapers have seen the success of Wikipedia and tried to translate its reader-added content to Web pages. It has not worked well. The most notable debacle was at the Los Angeles Times. The editorial page put up a Wikitorial, where readers could change an editorial. It did not take long for the editors to lose control of the project. It was taken down after people started to post pornography.

As journalists we have to make difficult decisions about what makes it in the newspaper. Having the day-in day-out experience of translating information into thoughtful content is important. Too important to let somebody tamper with from his or her living room. Just ask Seigenthaler.

Technology that allows journalists to interact with readers is the future and a good thing. Newsgathering is a difficult task that has become more difficult in today's lighting society. Professional journalists are still going to be needed to gather and present information in a readable/listenable/watchable way. The Nature article does not change my mind. The potential for abuse is still very real for Wikipedia and for other content providers that give control to outside forces.

Respond to Ryan.

 
Posted by Ryan Blethen at December 15, 2005 02:56 PM



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