Communal online encyclopedias represent oneof the latest resources to be found on the Internet. They are in many respectslike traditional printed encyclopedias, however, is that any internet user cancontribute a new article or make an editorial change in an existing one. As aresult, the encyclopedia is authored by the whole community of Internet users.The idea might sound attractive, but the communal online encyclopedias haveseveral important problems that make them much less valuable than traditional,printed encyclopedias.


  First, contributors to a communal onlineencyclopedia often lack academic credentials, thereby making their contributionspartially informed at best and downright inaccurate in many cases.

  Traditional encyclopedias are written bytrained experts who adhere to standards of academic rigor that non-specialistscannot really achieve.


  Second, even if the original entry in theonline encyclopedia is correct, the communal nature of these onlineencyclopedias gives unscrupulous users and vandals or hackers the opportunityto fabricate, delete, and corrupt information in the encyclopedia. Once changeshave been made to the original text, an unsuspecting user cannot tell the entryhas been tampered with. None of this is possible with a traditionalencyclopedia.


  Third, the communal encyclopedias focus toofrequently, and in too great a depth, on trivial and popular topics, whichcreated a false impression of what is important and what is not. A child doingresearch for a school project may discover that a major historical eventreceives as much attention in an online encyclopedia as, say, a singlelong-running television program. The traditional encyclopedia provides aconsidered view of what topics to include or exclude and contains a sense of proportionthat online “democratic” communal encyclopedias do not.




  The communal online encyclopedia willprobably never be perfect, but that’s a small price to pay for what it doesoffer. The criticisms in the reading are largely the result of prejudice againstand ignorance about how far online encyclopedias have come.


  First, errors. It’s hardly a fair criticismthat encyclopedias online have errors. Traditional encyclopedias have neverbeen close to perfectly accurate. If you are looking for a really comprehensivereference work without any mistakes, you are not going to find it, on or offline. The real point is that it’s easy for errors in factual material to be correctedin an online encyclopedia. But with the printed and bound encyclopedia, theerrors remain for decades.


  Second, hacking. Online encyclopedias haverecognized the importance of protecting their articles from malicious hackers.One strategy they started using is to put the crucial facts in the articles thatnobody disputes in a read-only format, which is a format that no one can makechanges to. That way you are making sure that the crucial facts in the articlesare reliable. Another strategy that’s being used is to have special editorswhose job is to monitor all changes made to the articles and eliminate thosechanges that are clearly malicious.


  Third, what’s worth knowing about? Theproblem for traditional encyclopedias is that they have limited space, so theyhave to decide what’s important and what’s not. And in practice, the judgmentsof the group of academics that make these decisions don’t reflect the greatrange of interest that people really have. But space is definitely not an issuefor online encyclopedias. The academic articles are still represented in onlineencyclopedias, but there can be a great variety of articles and topics thataccurately reflect the great diversity of users’ interests. The diversity ofuse in topics that online encyclopedias offer is one of their strongestadvantages.



  Main point: prejudice

  Sub point one: never, accurate, corrected

  Sub point two: read-only, monitor,eliminate

  Sub point three: limited space, don’treflect, variety


  The lecturer addresses each of the three criticismsof ________________ mentioned in the reading passage.

  The lecturer admits that _____________, butshe claims that______________. The reading passage, in contrast, pointsto_____________________, presenting the argument________________.

  The lecturer then__________________. Sheexplains that_________________. In addition, she says,________________________.

  The lecturer also challenges the finalpoint in the reading regarding the_______________________. She saysthat_________________. Moreover,


  The lecturer addresses each of the threecriticisms of communal online encyclopedias mentioned in the reading passage.

  The lecturer admits that communal onlineencyclopedias, like any reference book, may contain errors, but she claims thatthese errors can be corrected much more easily and quickly than those printedin a paper encyclopedia. The reading passage, in contrast, points to theinaccuracy of information in online encyclopedias, presenting the argument thaterrors in these resources are due to lack of professional knowledge amongcontributors.

  The lecturer then gives two strategies thathave been proven very effective in protecting online encyclopedias frommalicious alteration. She explains that contents that consist of indisputable factsare stored and presented in a read-only format so that nobody can make changesto them. In addition, she says, there are specialists who constantly monitorcontents online so that they can quickly remove a suspicious change once it isdetected.

  The lecturer also challenges the finalpoint in the reading regarding the nature of topics covered in onlineencyclopedias. She says that because of virtually unlimited space on theInternet, there is no need to worry about what is important enough forinclusion in an online encyclopedia.

  Moreover, the greater variety of topics inonline encyclopedias more truly reflects the genuine interests of the generalpublic, even if some of these topics are less serious or academic than those intraditional encyclopedias.