This is not really a question about this site (though it does have some impact), but I'm not sure where exactly to raise it and I'd like to pose it to this community, which can probably / hopefully help.
Recently I discovered that the Wikipedia data I used to produce an Astronomy Stack Exchange answer I'm rather proud of was, in fact, incorrect. The Wikipedia page has since been corrected (and I'll update that answer shortly), but I'm worried about what happened when I dug deeper for the original data to see where exactly I went wrong.
In particular, I went to the corresponding page in the edit history of Wikipedia, and the data shown there are simply plain wrong; specifically, the data table in the Details section is missing the exponent markers and is therefore unusable. This is made very clear by the corresponding version of that page on the Wayback Machine, which has the original incorrect data with exponent markers present. This seems to be more of a formatting issue, since there are exponents in the plaintext source, but the html shown in the edit history is still wrong.
I'm rather disturbed by this episode. Wikipedia editability is always a problem when linking to it, and that is resolved by the edit history, which is always there to resolve ambiguities about what exactly was being linked to. If the edit history is fallible, though, it's a red flag on the whole mechanism.
So, my questions for this community:
- To be honest, I just wanted to vent.
- Can others confirm that this is indeed what's displayed?
- Is there anyone more familiar with the finer points of Wikipedia formatting who can clarify exactly what went on there?
- Is there a specific place in Wikipedia where I can raise this issue? This feels more like a general thing than something for the article's talk page.
And, on our side:
- Is there anything we can do to adapt our practices given that this can happen?