Is Rosenzwig Right?

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From Humanitarian-FOSS Project Development Site

In general, it looks great. You added links to your article, which is good. Only thing you might want to add is a reference sign or a footnote. Besides, you can go over to check spelling mistakes. ~Ezel

In the article, “Can History be Open Source?”, author Roy Rosenzwig paints and interesting argument regarding the credibility of the open source encyclopedia, Wikipedia. Rosenzwig repeatedly compares Wikipedia to other encyclopedias like Microsoft’s Encarta and American National Biography Online. In a broad view, Wikipedia differed itself from the aforementioned on the first hand, because it had a larger variety of topics than that of Encarta, but on the other, it lacks the comprehensive information that American National Biography Online provides. Rosenzwig also examines Wikipedia in terms of its accuracy and editing procedures. His results are debatable. Rosenzwig cited a study conducted by historical scholars who examined several articles from the three encyclopedias: Wikipedia, Encarta, and the American National Biography Online. The general results from the study concluded that all three encyclopedias had roughly the same amount of larger errors. However, the scholars did state that Wikipedia had an increased number of smaller errors.

I interpreted Rosenzwig’s position as optimistic towards the idea and concept of open source encyclopedias, however, as he states in his final paragraph, “Still, Wikipedia and Linux show that there are alternative models to producing encyclopedias and software than the hierarchical, commercial model represented by Bill Gates and Microsoft.” I agree with his position. In an academic area such as history, Wikipedia is not at a level where it can be viewed as a legitimate source. The article does mention that most of the time Wikipedia is right, but in this argument I find that irrelevant. Historical sources should be viewed by their error rate instead. I think it provides a better way of judging historical sources. The solution comes in the editing process. Wikipedia must perfect their editing protocol and also devise a way to prevent vandalism.

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