How many students have relied on false information from Wikipedia? Is the fact that it's a Wiki relevant to the question?
ban fake knowledge
"Pseudopedia", "The Wikipedia", is an open-content information website, whose co-founder claims is the "sum of all human knowledge", or at least, that it should become that sum. Since 2003, The Wikipedia has immensely popularized the concepts of "Wiki" and free information in the public imagination. With countless pages on the widest range of topics, the website has become a popular, easily-linked source.
However, this same Wikipedia is also a collection of biased opinions, inaccurate information, and cyber-bullying. In cases where its pages are accurate and without editorial slant, they are also superfluous, as the information can be found elsewhere, for example with Sci-Fi characters, commercial product information and other content. With a well-documented history, the website is as much a troubling source of errors and biases, social-domineering tactics, and countless pages of socially-controlled content, as anything true or relevant one would associate with "human knowledge". Where expert vetting of information is most needed, for instance in the Arts and Sciences content pages, experts have curiously been missed.
Please Note: GetWiki imports some content from The Wikipedia, but ALL imported content, mainly Philosophy and other Humanities subjects, is highly corrected and organized by experts, adapted for a clean presentation on GetWiki. See General & Policy Criticisms, a few illustrative Cases, and also Wikipedia Review.
Encyclopedic CriticismThe overall mission to build up specific encyclopedic content, rather than verify that content before any publication, has incorrectly become synonomous with "Wiki", due to the popularization of a single website. The point of any collaborative editing technology is to produce high-quality output representing information which is better and better, yet sadly, this point is often missed on The Wikipedia. Editorial biases and "edit wars" continually show up in the public wiki-ing process, and as a result, the final content is compromised, too often contradictory, repetitive, extremely disorganized, or simply wrong.
"I think we're finally beginning to be taken seriously. We have half a million articles, and we're approaching the level of respectability which Encyclopedia Britannica labored for centuries to achieve."Even some insiders have criticized the wiki's editing atmosphere as "destructive" and "abusive", even as a "Nazipedia" (Dec 2003, says "R. K."). Put simply, the loudest of voices attract the most supporters, and often dominate the direction and content of an article. This is exacerbated by internal processes, such as "Votes for Deletion", which often bans information otherwise included in the "sum of all human knowledge". General and Policy Criticisms long ago established Wikipedia as a community first, even a cult, but it is certainly not an (Dictionary:encyclopedia|encyclopedia). Analysis of Wikipedia's policies and practices reveals an "opinion wiki" whose goal is to reflect popular perceptions of the issues, especially dominant perceptions of cultural, scientific and intellectual topics. There is an unquestionable social dynamic which does not privilege accuracy and truth, but rather, enhances groupthink and administrative gamesmanship.
- Ed Poor, 2005
- Ed Poor, 2005
Jimmy Wales, co-founder of the wiki, leads what has become major fund-raising to support the costs of hosting, and was once known as the "God King". He encourages new contributors to follow his cult-like language on the wiki. Understandably, Wales and others discourage opposition to his views and policies, to which any founder of a community is prone. Not surprisingly, though, Wales has become a cult figure within the community, essentially promoting the wiki as a normalizing social network. An Objectivist, though, Wales is part of a well-known group of pseudo-intellectuals who require strict conformity of thinking and uncritical support of Ayn Rand and her followers. Casual, philosophical, conversations with Wales can result in his abruptly ending them, relying on fallacies quite common to Objectivist thinking. This is important to note only because, as the "God King", Wales sets the standard of behaviour for his members, and because his wiki has become the largest and most popularly used source of information.
Resulting from the deep problems of how the website was founded and is managed, the wiki is more often than not, only a source of false opinions. "Power users", who spend several hours a day making small edits to numerous pages, often dominate discussions, and comprise the most active elements of the administrative ranks. Yet, people who are qualified and interested in administrative functions can hold quite different interests from these power users, and both groups are rarely experts in the subjects they dominate. Thus, outsiders, new users, and those who are critical of a page's content are noted, watched, often ridiculed, and eventually blocked, usually under vague, often spurious, allegations.
Of course, such disputes are not uncommon to the Internet, but pages and pages of mailing list discussions reveal internal "Wikipedian" judgement that many, many knowledgeable people are excluded from editing on the wiki due to their anticipated behaviour, as a preempt for the facts or arguments they might bring to the wiki's content. All one need do is find a false passage in some article on the site, which is not difficult to find, and then go in and edit it. Within minutes, the edited passage will be restored to falsity and you may even be blocked from editing and marked out as a vandal. Paragraphs of discussion will likely follow on the "talk page", but the false passage will remain, copied and used by anyone who does not know it to be false.
Thus, "The Wikipedia" is an interesting social experiment, and one with a very respectable stated mission. However, it does not follow its own mission, and is certainly not immune to the dark side of its own bubble-gum popularity. Vandalism, spam, frequent internet attacks and huge bandwidth and monetary needs all threaten to topple the most famous wiki in the world. However, that same popular perception of the website is already unraveling, becoming a more and more common understanding that The Wikipedia is usually wrong. As such, the wiki's downfall will continue to originate from within.
"Obviously, I would not design the system the same way if given the chance again."
- Larry Sanger, 2005 (Co-Founder)
- Larry Sanger, 2005 (Co-Founder)
Some content adapted from the Wikinfo articles below under the GNU Free Documentation License.
[ last updated: 1:47pm EST - Sun, Jan 03 2010 ]
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