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back to article Online cult decides federal court case

Jimbo Wales and his worldwide online cult are now deciding federal court cases. Over at the Seventh US Court of Appeals in Chicago, a three-judge panel recently settled a long-standing legal battle by shamelessly citing an entry on Wikipedia. And as you might expect, the entry was edited after the case went to trial. The case …

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Aha!

So all I have to do to abolish capital punishment in the United States is to keep editing the Wikipedia entry on "cruel and unusual punishment"?

Sweet!

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Where do we get these judges???

I think this is what they call a result based ruling. The judges wanted a result and had to find a way to make it happen. This one of the main reasons there is very little respect for the legal system in the U.S.

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What's wrong with their definition?

It's pretty much my understanding of what "wear and tear" means in the context of warranties and so forth.

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Boffin

Federal Judges in the US

Usually get appointed for contributing to Congressional and PResidential campaigns.

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JC

@Rich

If wear and tear doesn't consider failure while the equipment is used in a proper manner, then someone is always left holding the bag when the well-worn rental equipment eventually and inevitably fails. Then the company renting it has no incentive to ever maintain it or replace it until they can knock up some customer for the bill.

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Unhappy

'F'

My children have been taught that Wikipedia is absolutely never an acceptable citation for a paper. If it is used at all, then every single fact must be fully verified with multiple independent sources that do not themselves cite Wikipedia (ie. it's not worth using Wikipedia in the first place). Wikipedia as a source gets an instant 'F' for the children. For judges it ought to mean instant termination of employment and disbarment.

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makes you glad

.. that judges in the UK are too clueless and out-of-touch to know how to use the internet, even less look things up on Wikipedia.

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Stop

Be afraid...

be very afraid.

This shows just how widespread the acceptance of wikipedia as a source of *facts* has become.

The "Encyclopaedia that anyone can contribute to" has now become a sad, pathetic joke.

That said, what exactly is a "verifiable source" these days?

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Coat

Word's stupidest file sharer, meet world's stupidest judges

May be the world's stupidest file sharer can get a change of venue and so the freetards and the R. Ass. of A. can have edit wars over any and every remotely pertinent Wackypedia article!

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Anonymous Coward

Fail?

"...every single fact must be fully verified with multiple independent sources that do not themselves cite Wikipedia (ie. it's not worth using Wikipedia in the first place)..."

So it's okay if Wikipedia cites the independent sources? So using wikipedia as a kind of citation index is okay? So it *is* worth looking at Wikipedia to see if it can suggest any original sources.

Yes, there are some execrable entries where corrupt people push their agenda, but there are also a *lot* of useful ones. No it's not "authoritative", but it can often point you at the authorities, even if it's only one side of the argument (but that's usually evident).

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F'ing beautiful

I can't believe I'm watching two Anonymous Cowards argue over whether an encyclopaedia that can be edited anonymously is a good idea. I love el Reg's comments pages!

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Tom
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Right decision, wrong reasoning

Webster's does just fine in allow the judge to toss the case. Failure of the sort covered by the Damage Waiver is not the sort that occurs during "ordinary usage" as listed in Webster's.

Sadly, I don't have standing to press for the Judge's impeachment on the grounds that he is incompetent.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmm...

Wikipedia is accurate. (citation needed)

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Stop

@Not worth using Wikipedia

If you were going to write a biography of George Bush or whatever then you're probably correct.

However, many of their technical entries are fantastic. Earlier today on the bus today I managed to figure out why some stuff at work wasn't working- and ended up linking through to torque converters and related stuff. So I now know the principles behind automatic gearboxes!

Nowhere else on the Internet has such a big collection of useful articles and so on. Yes, you should be wary of it- especially on pop-culture or controversial stuff or anything that doesn't cite a reasonably reputable source (and you check it's not taken out of context or otherwise screwed with). But to dismiss it as useless is just stupid.

@RiAssA AC

That'd be fantastic- "and to prove this case I'd like to prove that I'm

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Paris Hilton

Lord Chief Justice Cocklecarrot...

"Who exactly are these singing Wikipedes, Mr Counsel for the Defence?"

a online beat clique, m'lud; popular amongst young people and anyone called Darth Derek, I believe...

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Authoritative?

Yes you should be wary of stuff in Wikipedia. But you should be wary of stuff in Encyclopedia Brittanica or MSN Encarta as well.

I think the Judges were probably citing Wikipedia as an example of how the phrase is commonly understood, and that citation in this context seems to me to be perfectly reasonable. In contrast, believing that a dictionary gives an authoratitive rule as to what a word means in common parlance is utter stupidity.

If someone says "what are you inferring" we know that they are likely to mean "what are you suggesting" --- we do not rely on the dictionary definiton to conclude that they must be asking what logical implications we are deducing (we may, of course, act in this manner to demonstrate to the asker our intellectual superiority).

Wikipedia is the encyclopedia that 'anyone can edit' as El Reg never tires of reminding us. But the opinions of anonymous or unknown people _are_ useful: internet based product reviews, el reg comments, blog postings are all good input, for the open but sceptical mind.

Anybody who thinks entry X in wikipedia must be false because it doesn't quite tally with entry X in Chambers dictionary -- without even considering what entry X is -- is a moron. Similarly, anyone who thinks these judges did not have a clue what to think until they read Wikipedia really needs to reboot their brain.

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Wear and Tear Not Synonymous With Damage

Yes, in fact, it is, rather.

Wear and tear is non-catastrophic damage suffered in the reasonable deployment of an item in its expected mode of use.

If I rent a Sawzall (look it up) and it bring it back with a scuffed power cord, scratches on the case and a ding or two in the business end, that would be wear and tear. These tools are expected to do rough duty in tool-hostile jobs (like tearing out a house wall).

If it had a hole in the case from where I had used it to bash in a protruding nail, it wouldn't be wear and tear, since it isn't a hammer.

I like tools. I hate the yoyos that rent them from Home Depot and f*ck them up because they are dumber than a bag of hammers.

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Coat

Everything was written by somebody, so question everything

Even the Encyclopedia Brittanica is a product of practically faceless authors. Get used to it.

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Anonymous Coward

Why

isn't Andrew Orlowski writing articles about Wikipedia any more?

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