4.12.2008

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a Wikipedian

So recently I was playing a game with a friend. She would ask me a question and I, using whatever knowledge and/or logic I could conjure up at the time, would try to come up with a conceivable answer. Now, I'm a pretty good BS-er. And I was making some pretty convincing arguments. But it made me wonder: is truth more than a substance controlled by those that speak convincingly and sound wise? Most importantly, who do we believe?

At some point during life, we will be told some truth. Especially at a younger age, this is just accepted as fact. After we grow and mature we begin to hear information, comprehend, synthesize, and then apply this new-found knowledge. But with the maturation has come discernment, and we are able to decide what is reliable and what is not. Certainly we don't just believe anything that is told to us. Surely we don't believe someone just because THEY say its true...do we?

O, how I long to see all sides of the figure and not just the foremost face.

See, there is a controversy right now, concerning the credibility of WIkipedia. Non-Wikipedians argue that because anyone can edit Wikipedia, it is not credible. It is true that Wikipedia can be edited by anyone. This is irrefutable. In fact, that is the definition of a "wiki," a website that anyone can edit. But there is forgotten/unspoken information that, when left out, makes WIkipedia look about as useful as an STD. Wikipedia's founders chose to create the site to provide a place where people could learn and share knowledge. This is a much more cost effiecent method of creating a large knowledgebase than to hire a team of professionals to create a online encyclopedia. In FACT, this method is VERY cost-effective. Its SO useful that World Book Encyclopedia uses the same tactic.

O, you didn't know that?

Yes, World Book Encyclopedia, considered to be a credible source, is created by compiling submitted articles from the general public. But World Book is credible because...o, certainly there is a good reason. Because it's a book, and not a website? O, if that were only a good reason.

The interesting thing about the internet and its users is that the same people that denounce Wikipedia will google a topic and read and believe the first article that comes up, so long as it is not Wikipedia. People would believe some persons Geocities' page before a Wikipedia article...for...a reason? Or are some people just SO biased against Wikipedia that they don't even realize what they're saying. Non-Wikipedians will use a non-cited article to back up their claim that there are not sufficient citations. But at the top of the page, the reader is warned about any problems that page has.

The argument can go on and on, but the issue remains: why should we trust one person over another? Even if given a scholarly article, can the citations be trusted? And can the citations for THAT paper be trusted? On and on the cycle goes, and yet, we are STILL searching for the same thing: truth.

Who can we trust? Where can we look?

I offer nothing. I offer no truth, only insight. Don't look to me for truth.

I say this: look to heaven. I believe, I hope, I trust in only one thing.