Wikipedia used in court

A simple search of published court decisions shows that Wikipedia is frequently cited by judges around the country, involving serious issues and the bizarre "” such as a 2005 tax case before the Tennessee Court of Appeals concerning the definition of "beverage" that involved hundreds of thousands of dollars, and, just this week, a case in Federal District Court in Florida that involved the term "booty music" as played during a wet T-shirt contest.

More than 100 judicial rulings have relied on Wikipedia, beginning in 2004, including 13 from circuit courts of appeal, one step below the Supreme Court. (The Supreme Court thus far has never cited Wikipedia.)

This from the New York Times article entitled “Courts Turn to Wikipedia, but Selectively” (login required).

It goes on:

"Wikipedia is a terrific resource," said Judge Richard A. Posner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago. "Partly because it so convenient, it often has been updated recently and is very accurate." But, he added: "It wouldn't be right to use it in a critical issue. If the safety of a product is at issue, you wouldn't look it up in Wikipedia."

(emphasis added by me).

This is something we’ve been talking about in classes lately – people will use anything as long as it’s convenient – and easy to use. The validity of sources does not seem to be a concern – and this is a problem. I find it interesting that people have yet to learn from the mistakes made by those before them – but that is the way it is.

Which brings us back to my most recent topic of ranting. A lot of us are trying to come up with ways to keep up with the times – new technology, new spaces, etc etc. What we need to keep in mind while looking in to making all of these changes is how we’re going to make finding the right information easy – because in the end that’s what people seem to care about (well, most people).

[news report found via LibVibe]

WYSIWYG Editor in PBWiki

Apparently PBWiki has upgraded their WYSIWYG Editor – I didn’t even know that they had one. I just edited my schedule on the CIL wiki and had my first experience with the new and improved editor – and it’s a bit annoying for someone who knows how to code – but I can see how it will be very handy in making PBWiki more accessible to others.

Law Professor Predicts Wikipedia’s Demise

I just found this very interesting article in InformationWeek which predicts the fall of Wikipedia [via Law Librarian Blog].

Wikipedia will fail in four years, crushed under the weight of an automated assault by marketers and others seeking online traffic.

It’s a pretty interesting article – and could very well be true – as spammers and marketers learn to automate edits to the online encyclopedia for their own benefit it’s going to be pretty hard for those of us making edits by hand to keep up with the cleaning.

Britannica vs. Wikipedia – via email

The Wall Street Journal Online has an interesting email conversation between Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia and Dale Hoiberg, editor-in-chief of Britannica. For those of you who are behind on the encyclopedia debate you can find my other posts here, here and here.

The “discussion” starts with Wales stating:

The strengths include a much greater timeliness, a much more comprehensive coverage, and the wide range of inputs means a good chance at a more balanced and more neutral coverage.

To which Hoiberg replies:

But there is little evidence to suggest that simply having a lot of people freely editing encyclopedia articles produces more balanced coverage. On the contrary, it opens the gates to propaganda and seesaw fights between writers with different axes to grind.

I haven’t had a chance to finish the entire article yet, but it’s worth a look.

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Another Free Hosted Wiki

Wired News has an article about

Launched over the weekend, joins the already populous field of do-it-yourself wiki sites, which allow anyone to add and edit content on a specified topic.

In its first day live, visitors have been snapping up subdomains with topical words, like, or common first names.

Currently, anyone can register a subdomain on Registrants must give permission to allow others to add or edit content on their sites. Gotts envisions making money through keyword advertising at first. He’s also considering letting registrants co-own their subdomains, enabling them to develop popular wiki sites and then sell them.

What I’d like to see is a demo – or something to give me an idea of how it works (without having to sign up for my own site).

Where have I been?

Last week was my birthday so I had some time off of work and then some time catching up at work.

I’m also on the board of directors for our township’s adult education program and we’re desperately trying to build onto our class offerings, but unlike the other area night schools, ours is not supported by the school district. So I spent a lot of time yesterday trying to come up with class ideas and finding local businesses we can contact.

Lastly, I was working on moving the LITA National Forum Wiki over to Wetpaint. I’ll be honest, for a few days I was worried I had made the wrong decision. My first shock was that Wetpaint didn’t allow me to see the code for my page. I emailed my contact and he said they wanted to make the site accessible to everyone – which I’m totally for – but I responded by reminding him that almost every WYSIWYG editor I’ve ever used allows you to see the code so that you can troubleshoot. The next shock was that there wasn’t any functionality to add a table – and without the ability to see the code you’re stuck with what you’ve got. So I emailed again and learned that tables will be available within the next couple of weeks.

Despite these two problems, Wetpaint has some interesting functionality. First (although I haven’t tested this out) it has structure. What do I mean? Well, I mention in my article about our Intranet that I wrote our wiki software myself because I wanted to be able to have an organizational structure – this page goes under this page – an understandable site map. Well Wetpaint has that. It also has a menu to all of the pages so that you don’t have to rely on links from one page to another.

So, my first thoughts were “Oh no! What have I done?!” but now I’m going to stick with it. And next time I’ll make sure to play with the product beofre I accept a tempting offer to move everything. There is a ton of potential there – and remember it’s much newer than the other sites out there so it’s still growing.

Please update your links/bookmarks and if you’re attending the conference I hope you participate in this wiki, it will really help a lot of new people who will be attending the conference.

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