Thursday, March 08, 2007

Wikipedia loses its innocence

According to this article, Wikipedia has just discovered that sometimes people lie about things like credentials if they're not held accountable.

As a result, Wikipedia now requires that contributors who claim academic credentials reveal themselves:

... [Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales had] suggested such a plan two years ago, but the idea suddenly gained currency after the recent discovery that a prolific Wikipedia contributor who wrote under the pen name "Essjay" and claimed to be a professor of theology turned out to be a 24-year-old college dropout...

You'd think that the bizarre and twisted rantings of neo-Stalinists here would have cured Wikipedia arbiters of their gullibility long ago. But, whatever.

Generally speaking, I like Wikipedia and frequently link to it, as regular readers of this blog may have noticed. ;-) And I'm noticing a distinct improvement in Wikipedia entries on Ukraine and Ukrainian history and folklore. (Kudos and thanks to those vigilant Ukrainian experts for their diligence!)

Although Wikipedia is two years late, I think they are doing a good thing to insist on proof of academic credentials.

I trust that now the folks at Wikipedia are more appreciative and cognizant of the genuine experts (credentialled or not) who work hard to maintain Wikipedia's credibility.

You can read the full article here.


Internet Esquire said...

I wholeheartedly disagree with the idea that Wikipedia should vet credentials. All this does is create an attractive nuisance for credentialists and impostors. For a longer tome on my views, please see my recent blog post.

Pawlina said...

Well, you can't have it both ways.

If Wikipedia is trying to establish a level of credibility equal to mainstream sources (which seems to be the case, whether its advocates want it or not), then they really have little choice.

Now if they don't want to be considered a credible source, but just a collection of random opinions, that's another thing altogether. But it seems the contributors, and Wikipedia users, for the most part want it to be considered a credible source equal to (or better than) any in the mainstream.

So if Wikipedia contributors want to play the same credentials card as in the mainstream game, I think that Wikipedia is quite justified in applying the same rules.

Lies said...

Hi Pawlina. Everybody lies all the time about everything. The trouble is that people believe what they read on the internet. They are fools.

Pawlina said...

Good point!