Friday, 17 August 2007

YesBut can we trust it?

In the preparation of my Wednesday blogs “Memorial day”, I have to research the history both of the memorial’s subject and the sculpture. To do this I rely heavily on the internet. But how reliable is the information posted on web sites?

I have in previous blogs decried the accuracy of reporting in both newspapers and television.

In the main, non fictional books go through a review procedure to ensure the facts are correct - even if the subsequent interpretation is questionably.

But there is no peer review of information posted on the web. The result of this is the perpetuation of miss- and dis-information.

I enter into Google a name > a list of relevant web pages appears > click on what is judged the most pertinent and read the information. Unfortunately the author of the web site has made a typo, the date quoted is 1998 when in should have been 1989; I do not spot the error and quote 1989 in my blog. The next person comes along reads my blog sees 1989, thinks that’s not correct, checks the web site I had looked at sees 1989, shrugs thinks it must be correct, and quotes 1989. Now there are three sites which say 1989 so it must be correct!

Even Wikipedia isn’t 100% correct! This is due to genuine errors by the contributors; but unfortunately also due to the perverted actions of dingbats who think they are clever in corrupting published information.

So a word of caution, if you are relying on information obtained from the web:

  1. Ensure the reliability of a site - you can be fairly (but not absolutely) confident of information provided by official sites but treat with extreme caution information stated in blogs, (especially this one!).
  2. Try to verify any information, using independent resources - go back and check original source data.
Having said all that, take the opportunity to add further to the store of erroneous information. Click here and enter YesBut’s Images caption competition.

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