Wikipedia. Does it work?

Wikipedia caught in podfather turf war

The simmering feud between podfathers Adam Curry and Dave Winer has exploded into a turf war, and Wikipedia’s credibility has been caught in the crossfire.

It’s not so much did Adam Curry slant a Wikipedia entry his way but that anyone can change Wikipedia entries and there’s no central editing review process. Thus, biases and deliberately slanted viewpoints can get posted and stay for months.

A real encyclopedia has a review process. Nothing is printed until ok’ed by the review board. Wikipedia has none of that. Edits are instantly printed with no review and, equally important, no fact-checking first.

I’m active in the ANSWER Coalition and thus know quite a bit about it. The Wikipedia entry on ANSWER seems biased to me, with almost as much coverage given to critics of ANSWER as to ANSWER itself. A real encyclopedia wouldn’t do that. They would not even give the appearance of an editorial slant.

Others have mentioned obvious bias in various Wikipedia entries. The problem is the lack of review. This is similar to Indymedia, who has an open publishing policy. Anyone can post to IndyMedia. And frequently does. Much as the semi-anarchists at Indymedia would wish it, open publishing does not guarantee coherent, accurate news and viewpoints. Quite the contrary, sometimes.

Wikikpedia needs a central review process. Yes, this would change the entire structure of the organization. But it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Wikipedia entries can not always be relied upon to be factual and unbiased. And if that’s true, then what’s the point of relying upon it for information?

Tag: Wikipedia

One comment

  1. “A real encyclopedia wouldn’t do that. They would not even give the appearance of an editorial slant.”

    I think you meant an “ideal encyclopedia.” I’m sure real encyclopedias have an editorial slant. Here’s a sentence from the World Book:

    “Under Bush’s leadership, the United States took steps to protect against future attacks. Bush also led the nation during the Iraq War, which began in 2003. In that war, U.S.-led forces brought about the downfall of Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein.”

    Nope, no bias there!

    I rely on your blog for information, and it is clearly biased–I like it that way! And while the NY Times has spread tons of disinformation, I still read their web site. I read the White House web site! Wikipedia has some great articles, especially on recent events. A few months ago, I wanted to review the basic facts about the Beslan school massacre. Googling found lots of news articles, but most were daily updates, not an overall summary. These articles frequently leave out actual dates (they’ll say “yesterday,” “this morning,” etc.).Wikipedia had a good overview, complete with links. If I doubt parts of it, I can go back to Google or the library. Without it, I would either have had to read dozens of articles, or waited for a book to come out, to get the same information.

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