Wikipedia - the thread

matt.'s avatar
Yeah, so we've been talking about wikipedia here and there for a while now, but I think the issues are large enough now for their own thread. First, the Drachen Fire entry mentioned in the other DF thread.

This is painful. The entire first article is pretty much 100% fabrication and speculation. I like it how the first bit even establishes that everything following is based on rumor and has never been substantiated by any sort of official source.

The article then goes on to list the numerous problems the ride had, none of which could really be cited or anything, and then goes on to say "Drachen Fire continued to operate without incident until it mysteriously closed July 11, 1998."

I mean, what the hell? Without incident? Who is this person and what exactly are they smoking? First of all...there's nothing mysterious about DF's closure, really. Second of all, unless this person somehow has access to some sort of official documentation from the park, or worked there, how does he or she know the ride ran without incident? I mean this is just one small example.

So here's the thing. Just browsing around, a lot of the roller coaster and park-oriented pages are written poorly, have a lot of factual ambiguities, and in most cases lack citations and sources of any kind. This is really something of a shame considering how good so much of wikipedia really is. I would never use it as any sort of real reference, but the sheer amount of information and the real quality of the entries can make for some interesting reading.

I realize that the site itself is supposed to be community driven, and I really don't have the time, will, or know-how to go in and start editing this stuff, and that's not really my point. I mean, it would be nice if *someone* wanted to do that but I'm not really sure it would matter much.

The whole excerise seems somewhat pointless to me, anyway. Wikipedia can be a great tool for some subjects, but I'm not sure coasters are one of them. For one thing - the only people who are really going to be interested should have this information (actually better information) elsewhere. I mean, maybe it would be nice to have information like this compiled into one spot, but the bad outweighs the bad when the entries are filled with poorly written disinformation.

If you go here, you can see the page for the group working on this stuff:

My favorite quote:

"The ultimate goal of this WikiProject is to make Wikipedia into a BETTER roller coaster reference than the Roller Coaster Database."

Maybe things will get improved eventually, but I'm not sure they're off to the best start. *** Edited 7/12/2006 7:26:33 PM UTC by matt.***

I really like Wikipedias approach, but coasters seem like a possible bad topic for it -
there are by far fewer facts than fiction about coasters, and RCDB has already done a mindblowingly perfect job in assembling the facts.

The fiction is mostly used by people who would like themselves to be regarded as "insiders".
Wikipedia is in fact driven by this need of people for attention - the good thing about it is that it is self-regulatory, as anyone can contribute and correct the misconceptions.

It will take a long long time before it can be anywhere close to what RCDB has achieved though, and in the end, when all the fiction has been replaced by facts, it will be pretty much identical to RCDB, I expect.

airtime for everyone
matt.'s avatar
I agree with your assesment, Supes, I think a lot of the motivation here could just be wanting to see your favorite park (or your own words) legitimized or something.

Part of the beauty of wiki's system is that anybody can be an expert but that's also a huge downside as well - often the last people who should be writing these articles are the one's who have the time and will to do so, lol.

Jeff's avatar
"But Jeff, why don't you let the news get posted in real time?"

People ask me all of the time...

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog

I think it's funny they bash a site and then link to it. I also don't think they are going to get very much info from the enthusiast community because they are bashing such a well known and respected site with that information.

As a librarian, I have heard many complaints about wiki from both librarians and patrons. While it may contain some internet links on a subject that someone may not have found yet, the information provided on any given subject may be made up by the author. There are usually not references given in these articles, therefore the information could have come from anywhere.

On the other hand, RCDB was actually part of one of my high school and college classes (one each.) I had to visit various internet databases and understand how the data was organized, why the data was good or not good, looked for dates last updated, and find any awards the website might have had.

Eh, I spent about an hour looking through the various wiki-roller coaster references... My wife was sitting there with me during some of the time and even SHE (who has little interest in roller coaster minutea) was able to spot two errors... which have since been fixed (at least I THINK so... Xcellerator does not use a magnetic launch dummies... :P )

RCDB on the other hand? Duane M. has my utmost respect. He and I traded a few e-mails when he was checking facts about Northwest Area Roller Coasters and DANG did he ask some detailed questions. I'm just sorry I wasn't able to provide him with a better quality picture of the Roller Coaster that used to exist at the former Playland in North Seattle circa 1960.

Oh, and before I forget Jeff - you do a pretty dang good job with THIS site too. Not that I'm a brown noser or anything... he he... (scuse me I must go wash my face now...) ;)

-Rob Escher *** Edited 7/12/2006 10:47:35 PM UTC by escher26***

"It's probably in my basement... let me go upstairs and check" -Escher
Wikipedia just confirms my belief that in the future nothing will be true and nothing will be untrue.

wiki wiki wiki wiki...ahh shut up!
matt.'s avatar
Well, actually, if you really want to get into it, I think in the world as it is, there really isn't anything that is "true" or "untrue" but I think this may be getting a bit heavy for this board. ;)
I didn't see much wrong with the Wiki entry. How else are you supposed to document rumor and speculation?

Granted, the article could be cleaned up to separate the ride specifications from mythology , but otherwise it's pretty much what I expect from Wikipedia. A general introduction of the topic. A brief history, current status, some benefits and criticisms, and then external links.

I don't go to Wiki for "truths", I go to Wiki for a consensus of information. (see 'meme':

I think a good example is the current S.O.B. accident. If the local news said it crashed on the second loop, how do you document that? The fact that someone said it means people will have questions about it. I think Wiki does a good job of documenting and archiving this type of, well, meme. Maybe "real-time slang dictionary" is a better description.

Olsor's avatar
The genius of Wikipedia is that anyone can edit it. The idiocy of Wikipedia is that anyone can edit it.

Jason Scott's "The Great Failure Of Wikipedia" talk.

Worth checking out even if you don't agree with all his points. (I don't, and I was in the audience.) :)

(and a shorter, earlier version here *** Edited 7/13/2006 1:57:33 AM UTC by bit0mike***

matt.'s avatar

DevilDucky said:
How else are you supposed to document rumor and speculation?

Probably by not doing it at all. The problem is that virtually everything in the Drachen Fire article is more or less made up. There is no evidence of the B&M/Drachen Fire connection, so why mention that, and then going into great detail of it?

I mean, if you go to Wiki for "consensus of information," how do you argue for something like this when the consensus from my point of view indicates that the entire thing is BS?

As for local news media reports, you can document and reference those. Just as in journalism, a source is something you need to have. "According to police reports." "According to eyewitnesses at the scene." "According to local news reports." Anything like that would work, but otherwise it's just talk with no credibility.

All you get in the Drachen Fire article is "It is said that."

By whom? When? Where?

I mean how can you read that and say you don't see much wrong?

While Wikipedia does make it easy for b.s. to make it to the point where it is widely assumed as fact, I think that over time enough modifications will be made to a particular article where it contains more fact than fiction. Isn't the idea of a Wikipedia item to evolve over time?
"Isn't the idea of a Wikipedia item to evolve over time?"

Yes, it should evolve from good to better and not from wrong to faulty.

I just refuse to see wikipedia as a means of precise information or even as a substitute for an old fashioned enzyclopeida. But I see many people relying completely on wikipedia.

You are absolutely right in your first sentence. But is it really acceptable to have information that maybe sometime will contain more fact than fiction?

As for scratching on RCDBs pedestal...forget it.

wiki wiki wiki wiki...ahh shut up!
janfrederick's avatar
I think any article is fine on Wikipedia as long as it includes the rcdb related link. ;)

"I go out at 3 o' clock for a quart of milk and come home to my son treating his body like an amusement park!" - Estelle Costanza
rollergator's avatar

Now THAT'S precisely why wiki will never be BETTER than rcdb. Duane is single-source, and get his info directly from the "People Who KNOW". It may not always be the most up-to-date, but AT THE TIME it was posted, it was *accurate*.

I'm surprised people still think B&M had something to do with Drachen Fire.

Wikipedia's really not the place you want to go to learn about coasters, let alone much else anymore. Did anyone see articles about the information on Wikipedia when Ken Lay died?

2007 Raptor Rides: 153 Lifetime Raptor count: 858 Raptor Rules the Sky!
Wikipedia doesn't really seem the coaster artice site...

it does have a great article on the GrAm Demon coasters.

I'm not saying I would ever use Wikipedia as the definitive source of information on a coaster (or anything for that matter) but I think it's a good idea for casual reseachers because they're more likely to find out about a coaster on Wikipedia than they are on RCDB, unless they know of RCDB.

bit0mike said:

Jason Scott's "The Great Failure Of Wikipedia" talk.

Worth checking out even if you don't agree with all his points. (I don't, and I was in the audience.) :)

(and a shorter, earlier version here *** Edited 7/13/2006 1:57:33 AM UTC by bit0mike***

Be sure to tell me what points you don't agree with, sometime. Being in the audience vs. reading it or listening to it is about the same position of authority.

People see how wrong Wikipedia is in their area of expertise, go "oh, they got it all wrong", and then say "but generally it works"... in all the areas they aren't experts in.

The best use of Wiki technology is to get the MediaWiki software, which is excellent, and then put up a dedicated roller coaster information wiki, with registration (not unlike what we have with this forum software), and then populate that, allowing a smaller subset of experts to create more accurate information, which, I promise you, Wikipedia will gleefully steal from, allowing you to get more accurate stuff in there, for a while.

But going to Wikipedia and trying to play against the culture to get the facts in will not work, long term.

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