Thursday, August 16, 2007

Who's Editing the Wikipedia?

There's been quite some discussion about the Wikipedia, triggered by the recent report from a Caltech grad student analysing the anonymous edits to the encyclopedia. See for example:

http://www.wired.com/politics/onlinerights/news/2007/08/wiki_tracker

and

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6947532.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/6949153.stm

A few points from a recovering Wikipedaholic:

The whole situation does not "prove" that that Wikipedia is useless or open to manipulation (at least not as easily as most press reports are implying). Note the following para:

"The text, deleted in November 2005, was quickly restored by another Wikipedia contributor, who advised the anonymous editor, "Please stop removing content from Wikipedia. It is considered vandalism."

Secondly, journalists are doing such a hack-job of this. The para I quoted above seems to imply that this was something unusual and the message from the editor was spontaneous--it's not; the message is now an everyday--or several times every second (and I am not exaggerating)--occurrence. The report on the BBC's site was even worse.

What all this does do is help us see what unethical behaviour folks are up to--Diebold, and everyone else.

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