I’ve known for a long time – in fact ever since my Librarian colleagues brought it to my attention and advised me to use it with great care – that Wikipedia was, and is, not a reliable source for information. Along with the myth of “just google it” to get information on almost anything … and then not subsequently and consciously make a decision on whether the search results returned were reliable, or even the best, the other myth has been “just look it up on wikipedia”.
I’ve subscribed to this myth – quite literally – donating regularly when asked, thinking that a collective is, and was, a good way to collect and curate information – harnessing the power, enthusiasm and knowledge of the crowd to plant, weed and publish articles. Whilst I realised that it could NEVER be an authoritative reference source, I accepted it as a good, quick and easy way of looking things up. My online dictionary/encyclopedia. Not any more.
I’ve written about why this came to my attention on my other blog – “Just thoughts …” in this article – “Well this is fascinating, and very disturbing …” but I thought it important to bring it to your attention on this blog as well. The issue is that reputable professionals are being targeted by anonymous “editors” on Wikipedia and having entries about them taken down.
As I understand it – and please add to my knowledge if incomplete or incorrect – the way Wikipedia works is that once you’ve established the right to create an entry – a page – that article can be modified through voting up or down proposed changes. Beyond that however it would appear that if you have a privileged position – obtained it would seem solely by virtue of the amount of your activity – you can propose deletion of any other entry, and then it’s up to others to vote to keep an article, or indeed support the deletion. It is therefore very easy to co-ordinate an attack on a Wikipedia page to have it removed. In the case of an individual, if they didn’t create the page for themselves, no reference will be made to the person targeted, they do not have any rights to object, they may not even know the page written about them is under discussion for deletion. They can cease to exist on Wikipedia!!!
So we have an extension to our world of fake news; that is the deletion of truth. What is the world coming to!