Our Favourite Websites #2

Posted by Edward Bear PhD on
Category: Technology/Internet43 Comments

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What is your favourite website? Which site do you use the most and does it do the job you really want it to perform? That is what this new series of posts is all about – our favourite websites. Tim Berners-Lee published the first ever website in 1991 and there must be billions more that have come and gone – or even remained – since then. Serious sites, business sites, dysfunctional sites (yes, ok – we know who we are) or maybe sites just devoted to grumpy cats. So I thought I would have a sit down and decide which sites I thought had brought us the most enjoyment, functionality, performance or just wasted our precious time over the last thirty years.

When Wikipedia opened its virtual doors in 2001, the idea sounded like a joke – an empty encyclopaedia, reliant on the kindness of strangers to write, edit and update its articles. It’s amazing anyone had the optimism to launch it in the first place.

The thinking makes more sense if you know that Wikipedia wasn’t originally intended as a standalone project. Two years previously, founder Jimmy Wales had already launched Nupedia – an encyclopaedia site written and curated by experts in the traditional way. Wikipedia was to be a “feeder” project, allowing anyone to create and expand entries, which trusted editors could then review for inclusion into the “real” encyclopaedia.

Quickly, though, the dynamism and breadth of Wikipedia’s crowd-sourced content outshined Nupedia. By 2002, Wikipedia hosted more than 20,000 articles. In 2003, Nupedia was shut down and its articles merged into Wikipedia.

Wikipedia isn’t without its controversies. One is the tension between “inclusionist” and “deletionist” editors. Inclusionists take the view that the site can and should contain as broad a range of information as possible. Deletionists tend to think that only significant, verifiable facts have a place on Wikipedia. Check the discussion behind a substantial article and you’ll find long, abusive arguments about which edits should stand.

Since Wikipedia isn’t centrally managed, its coverage is also often skewed towards users’ interests. As US commentator Stephen Colbert has noted, the Wikipedia entry for “lightsabre” is more extensive than for the printing press.

A final concern is the question of reliability. In 2005, a study in the journal Nature found that Wikipedia’s millions of contributors had refined its content to a degree of accuracy almost on par with the Encyclopaedia Britannica. But while minor inaccuracies quickly get picked up, outright fabrications may hang around for months without being corrected. Last year, researcher Gregory Kohs carried out an experiment in which he inserted nonsensical claims into Wikipedia – such as the pain from inflammation is caused by the body’s release of volcanic rock – and saw them hang around uncorrected for many months.

Despite its imperfections, Wikipedia is a unique resource and the web’s de facto central repository of information. Here at Jammy Toast it is often – if not nearly always – the place we turn to when researching information for a post. In fact, where do you think I picked up these facts about the site in the first place?

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About the Author

Edward Bear PhD

I am the bear in charge of things and also the Blog Admin. I keep the bear’s online presence alive and ticking while helping with many of the day to day tasks around Jammy Toast. I also have the distinction of being the only bear to graduate from Cambridge University where I gained a PhD. in Computer Sciences.


43 Comments on “Our Favourite Websites #2”

  1. The reason for the bias you mention is probably because the Light Sabre is always more interesting than the printing press, even if the later is more historically important.

  2. When people announce they’re gonna visit you and you’re sat there in your gigs with Sudocrem on your face, frizzy hair and them pjs you probably should throw away but won’t.

  3. I wanna live in a sitcom. Everything you say is funny! Intense storylines are resolved in a short arc! You get a revolving door of hot love interests! You never have go to the bathroom unless it serves the scene!

  4. Katie Hopkins
    Come and join me in Torrance – 6pm Wed 9 October – in support of the Asian American Freedom PAC candidates in California. Tickets $50.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    $50 TO SPEND 2 HOURS LISTENING TO YOU, LAD! NOT ONE OUNCE OF SHAME YOU ABSOLUTE SCROUNGING GOBSHITE

    #haveyousoldyourhouseyetlad

  5. My dog is snoring she’s so cute. I’d take a photo but I’m not a creep. A weirdo, yes. But I’m not gonna creep up on a sleeping dog and take a photo just so you lot can see. Okay fine, I’ll just do a quick one…

    I accidentally woke her up by coughing near her and she looked at me and said “Oh. Torture now is it? Sleep deprivation? Killer cough?” I mean, she didn’t actually say that but I could tell.

  6. Sitting in my car outside the football field and I farted really loud. Then I noticed the dude next to me with his windows down too.

    Nobody laughs at my fart stories anymore.

  7. Rolf report Oct 8

    My human was surprised to see me back in the garden 90 minutes after he dropped me off at campus. That’s a record time for me to return home. My whiskers were covered in feathers so he suspects some kind of bird massacre occurred on the journey home.

    Rolf x

  8. So one person in the UK has won £169 million, earning £79,000 a week interest. Tha person has three weeks to get the doh out the country before brexit kicks the shit out the pound an there left with a wagon wheel an a can of sprite zero

  9. Piglet thought that it would have been rather nice if he and the Heffalump had talked grandly to each other. It would be comforting afterwards in the evenings to look back on the day when he answered a Heffalump back bravely. It seemed so easy now.

  10. Gloria’s hair is slowly growing back. As soon as she sees my human she comes for a fuss. I think her hair looks a little bit gingery or maybe it’s just the sunshine.

  11. Sheridan Smith says it’s ridiculous there’s a Nottingham Road in Central London. “People will think you can walk down it and get to Nottingham,” she told reporters.

  12. The dreaded email from eBay saying your £3 book has been sent by Royal Mail signed for . Not in , won’t leave with neighbour , no pick up point . Have to go the sorting office , run the gauntlet of traffic wardens , doesn’t open till 8 , shuts at 1. Moan

  13. Blue Nose Bob
    Man Utd are to approach Liverpool with a massive offer for manager Jurgen Klopp. The offer from Utd is the biggest contract ever offered to a manager, believed to be in the region of £450,000 a week. Klopp a Utd fan as a kid is rumoured to be up for the move.

    Fuckinell

    Who’s put 10 Bob in Captain Knobhead again?

  14. Can’t believe vardy has used the typical Facebook nanna comeback, ‘people follow me who I don’t know so they could probably see your stuff’. Literally what my Nan says when I swear, I hope carol who you know or have on your Facebook didnt see your private status!

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