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Thursday, December 13th, 2007

Wikipedia's Wikiality Stronger Than Ever

 

My original article on Wikipedia’s history of controversial editing was labelled “Is Wikipedia Corrupt?” At the time the title was meant to only raise awareness, however, coincidentally since that article premiered the popular online encyclopedia has been thrashed by mainstream media for some highly suspect behaviour.

Case-in-point, the Register published an article noting how Wikipedia outright banned over 1000 homes in Traverse Mountain, Utah, and an entire company (Overstock.com) in an effort to quash a Mr. Judd Bagley who had recently stated on his own blog that Wikipedia editors were “using their powers to hijack reality.” The Register article (which I sourced that quote from) goes into 5 detailed pages of description on how this went down and I must say, I was very unimpressed with Wikipedia by the end of it all. For more information and background on this case please give it a read – it is well worth it.


(image credit, The Register)

Indeed, even political comedian Stephen Colbert took a chunk out of Wikipedia for what he calls “wikiality” where inaccuracies in fact are reshaping the reality of those who trust Wikipedia as a reliable source.

What’s worse? The first week of December news broke on the Register that the Wikipedia elite has a secret mailing list that is used to “crackdown on perceived threats to their power” behind the scenes without scrutiny from the larger Wikipedia editorial community. When the other editors heard about this they were outraged as evidenced by a respected Japan-based editor by the name of Charles Ainsworth: “I think there was more hidden anger and frustration with the ‘ruling clique’ than I thought and Durova’s heavy-handed action and arrogant refusal to take sufficient accountability for it has released all of it into the open.” (source: The Register)

So what does this all mean? At this point the meaning of this is entirely up to personal opinion. Wikipedia is doubtless full of extremely factual and useful information so perhaps this is just a symptom of the growing popularity of this Google-favoured resource. On the flip side I get the creepy crawlies whenever a resource is caught censoring fact and opinion on the Internet; especially Wikipedia for which Google has provided unbelievable visibility (never has a resource had so many #1 rankings).

Unfortunately it seems that wherever social editing takes place corruption is unavoidable; the Open Directory Project has been a great example of this in the past. That said, it is truly unfortunate that such sneaky and elitist tactics appear to be supported by some editors at Wikipedia. Just pray you don’t get on the wrong side of the Wikipedia ruling elite… they don’t take prisoners and they appear to favor wikiality.

If you want to check out an alternative to the Wikipedia read my posting on Citizendium.

by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth Web Marketing Inc.
Celebrating 10 Years of Web Marketing Excellence

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