References. Or rather lack, thereof

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References. Or rather lack, thereof

Post by CrowsNest » Sat Apr 13, 2019 7:44 pm

Wikipedia's own research has revealed a very damming graph, plotting the number of references in each of it's 5.4 million articles. Before you even look at it, you need to appreciate that for this graph, a "reference" is simply a url to an external domain, they make no accounting of what it is.

A saving grace I guess is that it doesn't count articles which have a general references or external links section, but the idea any Wikipedia article can be referenced this manner, is very much depreciated. If a fact needs a reference, it should be next to the fact that it is supporting. The lack thereof, is what this graph shows. ... ct2018.png

Even on this measure, the headline figures are crazy bad.....

* A quarter of Wikipedia articles have no inline reference at all
* Around a quarter have just one
* Around 40% have between two and five

Fans of math will realise that means only 10% of Wikipedia articles have more than five inline references, and of those, the majority (perhaps two thirds?) have less than ten. The only conceivable reason a Wikipedia article would have less than ten inline references, assuming it even is a suitably chosen topic for one article (not remotely a given), is either because it is not remotely complete, and/or what is there is inadequately referenced. And that is being generous, since articles of over a hundred inline references (not including duplicates obviously) are not unheard of.

This is so shockingly bad, it even calls into question the oft-claimed but rather underwhelming idea that Wikipedia's claimed worth to society is merely as a "starting point for further research", for which you obviously need inline references (anyone who uses Wikipedia for the external links obviously hasn't heard of Google, and anyone who uses it for the general references, probably isn't competent enough to be researching anything).

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