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Who Links Here

Saturday, February 4, 2006
More WikiProblems
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:06 am

I have noted my skepticism about WikiPedia in the past and here is more fuel for that fire (for example: here and here).

Via WaPoOn Capitol Hill, Playing WikiPolitics

This is what passes for an extreme makeover in Washington: A summer intern for seven-term Rep. Martin T. Meehan (D-Mass.) altered the congressman’s profile on the Wikipedia Web site to remove an old promise that he would limit his service to four terms.

Someone doctored Sen. Robert C. Byrd’s (D-W.Va.) profile on the site to list his age as 180. (He is 88.) An erroneous entry for Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) claimed that he “was voted the most annoying senator by his peers in Congress.”

On balance, amusing. However, a clear example of the flaws of an open-access encyclopedia (with the Meehan example being the most pernicious).

Some additional examples:

When the Wikipedia entry for Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) noted that he had criticized the president, for example, someone modified it to say that Reid had “rightfully” criticized the president. Someone also recast the state legislative record of Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.), changing a passage reading, “one of her final, failed bills would have made it much more difficult for same-sex parents to see their children in the hospital during an emergency” to the less inflammatory, “Musgrave spent much of her time on social issues, particularly authoring bills to protect children and the traditional definition of marriage, as well as gun owner’s rights.”

And the following sounds good, but not if the goal is research and presentation of accurate information:

“The goal is to give people a free encyclopedia to every person in the world, in their own language,” Wales said. “Not just in a ‘free beer’ kind of way, but also in the free speech kind of way.”

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