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Is Wikipedia Jumping the Shark?

From the beginning, I've been dubious of the whole Wiki idea. Most online "communities" go thru the same evolution. One group of people invariably takes over and chases away anyone with a dissenting opinion. I've wondered if Wikipedia would go thru the same evolution.

It's not looking good.

The presently have in their "encyclopedia" several pages complete with charts and graphs about how the 2004 election was stolen. Of course it is titled "2004 U.S. Election controversies and irregularities" but upon reading it, it is hard to take it at face value.

Among their dubious evidence is that in an election with record turnout, some people actually had to wait in line to vote. (The horrors.) They call that "voter suppression." That is right below the old "but the vote did not match the exit polls" meme.

The fact that the exit polls were wrong is not an "irregularity in the election." (In fact, after the last 3 election cycles it is the norm.) It is completely separate from the election. If this section of Wikipedia was genuinely about "election irregularities" then this information would have no place.

Basically it is a round up of various allegations, partisan sites and assorted blogs. They even use anonymous sources and Democratic Underground threads as citations. Not quite what I would call "encyclopedia" material.

The disturbing part is that is you look on the Votes for Deletion page, the vote is currently 33 to 4 in favor of keeping it in the "encyclopedia."

The voting page allows comments on why it should be kept and several read like this:

"The article is well researched, and this information needs to be known, ESPECIALLY with the mainstream media burying the story."

I'm sorry, but a collaborative encyclopedia so not the place for conspiracy theories that are being "buried" by the mainstream media. (unless of course the entry is filed with other conspiracy theories such as JFK's assignation and Roswell etc)

The person who suggested the page for deletion makes a powerful case about it not adhering to the established Wikipedia guidelines. My argument is broader. If you allow disinformation in an "encyclopedia" then what good is it? Can a small but vocal group of people rewrite history as they see fit for partisan gain?

If they want to put this information under a "conspiracy theory" heading, that's fine, but making a theory that is completely irrational a legitimate part of the encyclopedia does a disservice to those who have done such great work on it in the past and does not bode well for its future.


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Comments (24)

Among their dubious evi... (Below threshold)

Among their dubious evidence is that in an election with record turnout, some people actually had to wait in line to vote. (The horrors.) They call that "voter suppression." That is right below the old "but the vote did not match the exit polls" meme.

That is voter supression though Paul. No American should ever have to wait in line. We should continue to take our freedoms at face value and care not that there are billions accross this globe that would love the opportunity to stand in line.

There wasn't any coffee when I went to vote so I felt suppressed. I pay my taxes and demand some sort of refreshments. It was rigged!

Paul - If you need... (Below threshold)

Paul -

If you need more proof of them jumping the shark, go look up their treatment of the Swift Boat Vets for Truth.

The site is ideologically driven.

SighI'll take your... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Sigh

I'll take your word for it Bill -- Damn shame. It was shaping up to be a good resource.

O.T. Iris Chang committed s... (Below threshold)
julie:

O.T. Iris Chang committed suicide. How come I'm always the last to know? She wrote the Rape of NanKing. This is terrible for her family

The Hitchhiker's Guide to t... (Below threshold)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy defines the Marketing Department of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as: "A bunch of mndless jerks who will be the first up against the wall when the revolution comes."

This effect was described twenty-five years ago...

I had used information from... (Below threshold)
Jim Hines:

I had used information from that site to prove points on a couple of occasions. It's only now that I realize that "anyone" can contribute to an article...whaaaaaa???? Have to take that one out of the favorites folder as it is obvioulsy a dubious source of information.

At least with the Linux thing you have to have aquired the skill of writing in computer code. So it naturally weeds out those who have no buisness contributing. Linux is still a POS though. You have to pay people good money to get quality products. That includes encyclopedias.

Oh Jim- Don't start that ba... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Oh Jim- Don't start that battle here- it might never end. lol

Besides.... This link might just prove otherwise. (grin)

BSD Rules

I thought encyclopedias wer... (Below threshold)
Omni:

I thought encyclopedias were supposed to contain FACTS!! As soon as the liberals show up, the facts go out the window...

You know, I actually kind o... (Below threshold)

You know, I actually kind of have a dissenting opinion here. I think the Wikipedia is good for what it is. It's a source of information. There's absolutely no guarantee, expressed or implied, that that information is correct or complete. It's just a source of information. It's a place to start, not a place to finish.

And as a source of information, it's remarkably accessible. See something on there you don't think belongs? Take it out, or question it on the associated discussion page. See something missing? Add it.

I think if somebody looks to the Wikipedia to be authoritative about anything, he's gonna be disappointed. But if you lower your expectations, it can be a very useful resource.

The best thing about Wikipe... (Below threshold)
Joe:

The best thing about Wikipedia is that if you don't like the bias, you can edit the articles yourself.

In other words, you don't have to put up with other people's shit. You can delete it entirely. It saves a lot of whining.

I wasn't surprised to see t... (Below threshold)
bruhaha:

I wasn't surprised to see this. Just take a look around at the site's other articles related to politics.

In fact, I saw the problem first hand -- I was one of a handful who tried to bring some balance to the wikipedia article on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. But I quickly discovered that the folks 'running' the article would overrule anything they possibly could that offered much support to SBVT claims. Further, they deemed any Dem or editorial accusation (e.g., of Repulbican "ties") highly relevant. On the other hand, when I added information about responses to these claims, my remarks were routinely edited out as 'off-topic' (for mentioning the 527-debate, for instance).

I will note that these editors from the left were not personally nasty. But they clearly feared and would not brook a full telling of the story.

I truly believe these writers were simply were not capable of allowing even the possibility that the charges might have some merit. I find it unfortunate that people could not even seriously entertain the idea that this particular individual (Kerry) MAY have fabricated claims and gamed the system --let's try to get at the facts. Why should a serious analysis of this question threaten basic Democratic political views?

I do not hold out much hope for these sites -- at least when they address issues the left has a vested interest in. If they cannot quite "shout down" those who disagree with them, they will quietly gang up to excise the expression of viewpoints they feel so threatened by. (I believe that is a tacit admission that they are not quite so confident that their views can withstand the tests of open discourse.)

- The strength and weakness... (Below threshold)

- The strength and weakness of the site is its "open" editing process... I had occassion to access it during the campaign and noticed someone had carefully redacted all mention of the Ketchup Slut's Daddy beyond his name and the fact that he was a Doctor...(Which goes a long way to explain why as she said on the campaign trail "We didn't need health care....We just taught ourselves not to get sick")... convieniant loss of memory that....the missing references of course refered to her Father having been one of the founders of the Frelimo communist party in the 60's that took over the leadership in Mozambique, something that would have been decidedly embarrassing to the LurchKerry Bio no doubt...

Why is Wizbang afraid of pe... (Below threshold)
Bob:

Why is Wizbang afraid of people investigating these things?

Hunter, that was a great po... (Below threshold)
Bob:

Hunter, that was a great point. Even stranger than your conspiracy theory is the one about how her first husband was in Skull and Bones and so is her second one (John) and so is the president. Connecting the dots is fun isn't it. Nice coincidences, but I'm sure there is nothing to discuss here right?

"Why is Wizbang afraid of p... (Below threshold)
Paul:

"Why is Wizbang afraid of people investigating these things?"

Bob that question was not intelligent enough to get a reply.

So you don't have an answer... (Below threshold)
Bob:

So you don't have an answer, it just is huh? Paul, you have a strange idea of intelligence.

- Mentioning historical fa... (Below threshold)

- Mentioning historical fact hardly qualifies as "consprital theory" in the mold of the tinhats gang. I don't indulge in that sort of delusional pandering. Teresa was raised in comparative comfort precisely because her father was staff Doctor to the Frelimo party higher ups, while 95% of her fellow citizens lived in squalor. Her father got her out of Dodge early on, fearing she'd become a party "favor". She was educated in advanced lingiustics and eventually became a UN interpreter, sent to South America by the Elder Pres. Bush. She met Kerry at an "Earth Day" conference while serving there. I wouldn't assume she has Communistic leanings, but I would certainly think her upbringing explains her far left Socialist ideals along with her affinity for her husbands politics....

Bob if you can point to one... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Bob if you can point to one example where someone on this site said it should not be investigated, you'd have a point.

If not, you are a blooming idiot.

Hunter,That was ac... (Below threshold)
Bob:

Hunter,

That was actually very informative, and I appreciate your explanation, however, think about what you are doing. You are using her past to determine that she must share the same ideals as the people that helped shape her. I somewhat agree with this premise, but why do you not follow through with that to skull and bones connections. Why not say she has these beliefs, therefore so did her first husband who was skull and bones. He must have gotten them from the way he was raised and his experience in skull and bones. Bush and Kerry had that same experience so they must share the same beliefs. Can you say one party system?

"staff Doctor to the Frelim... (Below threshold)
Bob:

"staff Doctor to the Frelimo party higher ups, while 95% of her fellow citizens lived in squalor."

Are you suggesting they should have instituted income redistribution? If you are then maybe you are a closet liberal. I'm assuming your conservative because you are on this site and I have never heard of a conservative so down on someone for exemplifying the principals of capitalism so successfully.

- Bob, Paul has already bee... (Below threshold)

- Bob, Paul has already been gracious to a fault in allowing this off topic back and forth. Inserting myself, as you did, into a simple description of historical fact is disingenuous to the max and I won't go there, or tax Paul's patience any further....

- The topic I believe was "what use an inaccurate encyclopedia"....

Wikipedia jumping the shark... (Below threshold)
Niko:

Wikipedia jumping the shark - you ain't seen nothing yet:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yasser_Arafat (article on Arafat)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Yasser_Arafat (discussing the article)

User Jayjg tries to remove bias and slander in related articles, see the reaction of the admins:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Jayjg

Klick through the articles supplied on above page.

To say that the Wikipedia regulars tilt to the Left is heavily understated. Those guys got a clear political agenda: (1) Microsoft, Capitalism: evil, (2) America: evil, (3) Israel: evil.

(Disclaimer: No, this is not unsubstantiated trolling. I've been watching the Open Source scene become corrupted in that way for a long time. Think DailyKos gone Marx gone Mr Spock gone Chomsky. I kid you not.)

Yes, the site is ideologica... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Yes, the site is ideologically driven. It's "edited" in an emotional process, and comments, suggestions otherwise are dealt with in an equally subjective, emotional way.

I wrote a frustration thread about Wikipedia once, trying to apply humor ("Smellycatpedia" -- which was a play on a routine from "Friends" where Phoebe tries to teach Chrissie Hynd/whatever her name is female rockstar, Phoebe's 'famous song' called "Smelly Cat" and Phoebe jumps right in whenever the intonation by the famous rockstar/far better musician isn't to Phoebe's preferences, making revision after revision..."no, it's SMELLie cat, SMELLie cat... not, smelly cat, smelly cat..." and similar).

Anyway, I wrote a parody piece once in my blog entitled, "Smellycatpedia" and I later revisited my entry in Wikipedia only to find some bombastic stuff there...about...MEEEE! And some barberous comments elsewhere in my blog. So, they're touchy and don't seem to get the point that information isn't something from LiveJournal or even Wonkette, or, even, from Hackers on Patrol. I am being irreverent here, I realize, but, that's the point.

There was an argumentative ... (Below threshold)
-S-:

There was an argumentative piece there, also, an issue that was interpreted by Wikipedia editor/man with controls, whatever, just blown all out of proportion, into personally threatened and threatening territory...guy received a letter of complaint or concern from some college instructor, pointing out the emotionally interpretative spin applied by Wikipedia/that guy at the controls to and about factual information, guy took it to the internet and tried to ridicule the complaint and/or seek/solicit support for the experience...

Meanwhile, what was pointed out by an academician was very important to the site itself, and should have been, had Wikipedia been capable of this, integrated into the site itself as more information. Instead, it was perceived as a terribly irrational personal affrontage -- as in, "how could anyone POSSibly be so *#$%^ about Wikipedia and what we DOOO?" sorta thing, instead of responding to the inquiry and doing so with more information, using it to improve the site, correct or refine. Again, it was an opportunity for the site itself as a process and source to improve by incorporating the issue into it's site behavior and knowledge base, but instead, it just degenerated into a moreorless solicitation by Wikipedia's guy for newsgroup support on a personal level or something close to that -- he entirely missed the point of the inquiry/criticism, avoided even responding to the actual issue in that process of personalization of the issue instead.

There are areas of information that can't be modified as per unlimited personal whim. Otherwise, just give a crowd of chimpanzees typewriters and let them do what they do. Knowledge grows and changes over time but it also can and does become nonsense when it's nonsensically modified and done so without any process in mind other than someone has access to it and can modify it.

Wikipedia is a process in sociology, in behavior. In those regards, the site is worthwhile. In other regards, it's misleading unless you can read with awareness as to how and who constructed what, with the understanding that what you've seen at any one time will and can be completely altered at any future time. Meaning, it's not a reliable process for information beyond a study about human behavior from one perspective or another.




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