Monday, January 26, 2009

Problems With Wikipedia

I think there's a systemic problem with Wikipedia's coverage of certain topics: specifically the "hot", gloom and doom topics which bubble to the top of the media. The problem is the people who care most about the topic, and who therefore are most likely to do or edit a wikipedia article, are those whose emotions are stirred by the impending disaster. (In other words, all the young whippersnappers out there who haven't had the experience of ups and downs I've had.) When the disaster is looming, people edit wikipedia. When the disaster fades, the people whose emotions were engaged have moved on to other topics. Or they're reluctant to admit forever they were wrong. My proof:

the latest price for Rice is for April, 2008.
the "2008 global rice shortage"
the 2007-2008 world food crisis.

None of these reflect such data as this from USDA:
Global 2008/09 rice production, consumption, and ending stocks are raised slightly from a month ago, while trade is little changed. The increase in global rice production is due primarily to a larger 2008/09 rice crop in China, which is up 4.2 million tons to 135.1 million, and the largest crop since 1999/00. The increase in China’s crop is due to an increase in both area harvested and yield and is based in part on national and provincial government information. Global ending stocks are projected at 82.7 million tons, up 1.8 million from last month, up 4.0 million from 2007/08, and the largest stocks since 2002/03.
Or this from FAO:
Prices for most agricultural commodities have dropped significantly and swiftly in recent months. World grain prices have fallen by over 50 percent from their record highs earlier this year. International prices for other important foodstuffs, such as vegetable oils, oilseeds or dairy products have also drifted downwards, even if they still remain above their longer term trend levels. Rice is still expensive but prices may follow the path for other foodstuffs as the new crop comes on stream, export restrictions are relaxed and demand shifts further to cheaper alternatives.
or this:

Cereal supplies rise, international prices fall

FAO’s forecast for world cereal production in 2008 now stands at 242 million tonnes (including rice in milled terms), 5.3 percent more than in 2007 and a new record. Among the major cereals, the most significant production expansion is forecast for wheat, up 11 percent from last year, but production of coarse grains is also forecast to surpass last year’s record by at least 3 percent, while rice production is anticipated to exceed the already excellent results achieved in 2007 by more than 2 percent. A combination of exceptionally high prices, which encouraged plantings, and generally favourable weather conditions contributed to the boost in world cereal production this year.

No comments: