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  • OT, accuracy of info you get on the web

    On another forum there was a discussion about a certain machine.

    I was of one opinion about it's capability, several others were of a differing opinions. We were all wrong.

    I Googled on the machine and found quite a number for sale on ebay, at dealers, CL, etc. Of the first ten hits, 6 had the same incorrect info. Of all that I read none were correct, most omitted the specifics so it's not certain whether the sellers knew the correct spec.

    What blows me away about this is it appears the erroneous info has spread like wild fire. Since the spec in question is not apparent by examining the machine, it must have come from net searches. Info-wise, it was the blind following the blind.

    I remember my grade school teacher saying don't believe it just because its in print.

  • #2
    Any time you are looking for information first try going to the original source. The manufacturer, the government agency, the university or the statistics bureau etc. When I find something that looks interesting the first thing I do is search using an entire sentence from the article as the search term, placed in quotes. If it turns up more than a few hits then I know it is an example of everyone quoting everyone else, usually originally from Wikipedia. It can easily turn into a completely circular cluster fuk where nobody has an actual authoritative source from which the information was obtained.
    Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Evan
      .................................................. .............

      When I find something that looks interesting the first thing I do is search using an entire sentence from the article as the search term, placed in quotes. If it turns up more than a few hits then I know it is an example of everyone quoting everyone else,

      .................................................. .............

      Yes, I've noticed that also. Surprising how often an exact phrasing will be repeated on a number of different sites.

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      • #4
        Bad info like counterfeit money drives out the good especially on the web where sage advice carefully spoken is often smothered by glib insanity .

        We need a concise little Latin phrase like "caveat emptor" for information seekers. "Caveat Veritatis cupitor" maybe. Sounds cumbersome to me.
        Last edited by Forrest Addy; 05-26-2011, 06:30 PM.

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        • #5
          One needs to consider the info from the web roughly equivalent to what one would hear at the local coffee shop in the morning. Some of it is quite accurate, but there is also plenty of BS. The key is learning how to sort and sift though the mess to find the legit stuff.

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          • #6
            My quotes come either off the top of my head or the seat of my pants, so if it's coming from me you can at least count on it being original if not factual.

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            • #7
              "The trouble with quotes on the internet is that you can't be sure of their validity"

              -Abraham Lincoln

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Optics Curmudgeon
                "The trouble with quotes on the internet is that you can't be sure of their validity"

                -Abraham Lincoln
                Thank you. I had a good belly laugh at that.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Optics Curmudgeon
                  "The trouble with quotes on the internet is that you can't be sure of their validity"

                  -Abraham Lincoln
                  Now that is funny!

                  -Pete
                  I just like to make stuff.

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                  • #10
                    While there is a lot of bad info, there is a lot of good info too. I learned how to run a lathe by reading various web sites.


                    Dan
                    At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and extra parts.

                    Location: SF East Bay.

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                    • #11
                      On the flip side... at least with Google you can, quite often, dig down to the original source in a reasonable amount of time.

                      I suspect the percentage of bad info is about the same as the pre-web days. It's just that there's orders of magnitude more information available now, just sitting in your living room easy to get at. People have always been wrong, even the experts. It's just a lot more obvious now that you can view multiple sources in near instant succession. Thus, rather than the truth being buried under mountains of repeated mistakes, it is often the case that if you get enough information out there then the truth can rise to the surface, where it never would have before.

                      Here's a good example... again, quoting the web off the top of my head. They did a recent study on the medical profession. It appears that something like 40% of the time, your average North American doctor is wrong and proscribes treatment that contradicts current knowledge. At that rate, you're probably better off getting medical advice from Google. Granted, medical knowledge is changing pretty fast these days. That's the main reason I like metalworking... a 50 year old book is still full of useful info - and yes, some of it is probably wrong, or still wrong after 50 years. Authors are no better than doctors; everyone makes mistakes.

                      David...
                      http://fixerdave.blogspot.com/

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by fixerdave
                        quoting the web off the top of my head ... 40% of the time, your average North American doctor is wrong
                        I'm tempted, but I'm not going to go there...

                        -Pete
                        Last edited by Pete F; 05-27-2011, 01:47 AM.
                        I just like to make stuff.

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                        • #13
                          People with agendas, or an interest in wrong info, have a large , free, audience on the web.....

                          There has been apparently a problem with corporate folks going around and editing wikipedia entries to be favorable to their own company, or unfavorable to a competitor. When information can be so easily manipulated, it is a problem.

                          of course it can be as easily publicized that the manipulation occurred. Then it becomes a fight of "he" said vs "she" said, escalating to "he" said vs "THEY" said, which "obviously" means "he" is wrong, since "so many" people don't agree (even if they are the same person 200 times).

                          it's particularly useful politically...... if you recall the "definition of miserable failure" a few years ago, a "google bomb" directed at GWB.........

                          And then there are the rumors that spread even in face-to-face communications..... and all the faster if communication is instant from anywhere to anywhere else.

                          Small wonder that ignorance spreads its message so well...... usually ignorance produces a more "spectacular" story than "truth" does, so it is repeated more often.

                          An example.... someone was spreading the thought that machinists "all die from cancer" because touching the alloy metals brings those deadly alloying metals into your bloodstream...... it's far more spectacular as a concept than the truth is.
                          1601

                          Keep eye on ball.
                          Hashim Khan

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by J Tiers
                            Machinists all die from cancer because touching the alloy metals brings those deadly alloying metals into your bloodstream.......
                            How long before that is wikifact?

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                            • #15
                              Wikipedia is by far one of the worst sources of information on the internet IMHO, which is the reason many teachers/schools will not accept quotations or citations from it. Many times during college I would research a topic and read the Wiki info anyway...quite often it got a chuckle for its absurdity.

                              With regards to learning anything relating to a trade or machine operating, if my only source of information was the internet then I would sell my tools and be done with it. A large portion of it is just wrong. No sense in harming perfectly good tools due to my own ignorance.
                              Last edited by justanengineer; 05-27-2011, 09:11 AM.
                              "I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer -- born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow."

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