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Wikipedia: The Rules Have Changed
December 5, 2005 3:27 PM   Subscribe

After he discovered a false biography on Wikipedia that claims he was responsible for the death of JFK and his brother Bobby, John Seigenthaler wrote an op-ed piece in USA Today refuting those claims and rebuking Wiki admins and the ISPs that host them. Now, in light of Seigenthaler's outrage, the once open access Wikipedia now requires registration to submit new articles to the English language version of the site.
posted by brittney (70 comments total)

 
If you've done nothing wrong you've nothing to worry about.
posted by nervousfritz at 3:30 PM on December 5, 2005


that's sad that they had to close it up. all Siegenthaler had to do was alert them instead of making a big deal about it--many of us had no idea of the article's existence, or any involvement of him with the Kennedys, and now millions know that he was accused of being involved, where we didn't before.
posted by amberglow at 3:31 PM on December 5, 2005


Go back to sleep, netizen. Wikipedia is still open and infallible. new media is people wresting control from old media and keeping it for themselves.
posted by keswick at 3:33 PM on December 5, 2005


I remember six years ago when Encyclopedia Britannica was still free online, back before Wikipedia ruined knowledge.
posted by dgaicun at 3:37 PM on December 5, 2005


In other news, Adam Curry admits "I'm the asshole of the week"

Growing pains for Wikipedia

Adam Curry gets podbusted
posted by MetaMonkey at 3:38 PM on December 5, 2005


And having seen his website, I suspect he may be right.
posted by MetaMonkey at 3:39 PM on December 5, 2005


Er, Wikipedia now requires registration to submit new articles. (View the discussion.) But you can still edit existing entries to your hear's content, dear Anonymous.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 3:41 PM on December 5, 2005


Amberglow: all Siegenthaler had to do was alert them instead of making a big deal about it

He was one of Kennedy's biggest supporters and one of his pallbearers, and the article asserted that he may have been involved in JFK's assasination. I think he has a right to make a big deal of that, and it's little wonder that he took it very seriously.

The problem is that people see Wikipedia at the same level as Encyclopedia Britannica, but it's not. It's something better.

Someone here (raise your hand) made the good point that Wikipedia only uses the encyclopedia moniker as a metaphor, so people can get their head around the concept. Actually it's something much grander, more alive, and completely different than an encyclopedia.

That said, registration is probably a good thing.
posted by Dag Maggot at 3:45 PM on December 5, 2005


Trust, but verify.
posted by Rothko at 3:48 PM on December 5, 2005


I was just going to post this. Yeah, this is the beginning of the end for a Wikipedia that contains anything true.

Better go run delete your edits to "Nike" and "Scientology" while you still can.
posted by washburn at 3:51 PM on December 5, 2005


That said, registration is probably a good thing.

Absolutely. I don't think a comparison to MetaFilter is out of order here, either. The front page and AskMeFi already get their share of worthless posts. I shudder to think how cluttered with crap it would get without a pretty minimal registration process. It's good to make participants prove that they actually want to be a part of a community in some small way. A little social capital goes a long way against people with axes to grind and spam to broadcast. Does anyone think that the delayed activation and the $5 is prohibitive for anyone with a genuine desire to be a part of MeFi? Hardly. It's due diligence. Wikipedia is better off with the same.
posted by TunnelArmr at 3:52 PM on December 5, 2005


Wikipedia now requires registration to submit or edit information.

Someone should correct that part of the post, if anonymous users can still edit information. Seems to me Wikipedia has done the bare minimum here to make it seem like they were tightening access, without tightening access much at all. Nicely played, I guess. While I love the idea of an open encyclopedia, I wouldn't mind a valid email/login registration to be able to edit pages as well as create new ones.

In other news,

Um, the Adam Curry info was included in the article that's the last link in the post.
posted by mediareport at 3:55 PM on December 5, 2005


"Um, the Adam Curry info was included in the article that's the last link in the post"

But they didn't quote him saying he was an asshole.

I also thought more info would be relevant. The growing pains link also discusses the issue at hand.
posted by MetaMonkey at 3:58 PM on December 5, 2005


the once open access Wikipedia now requires registration to submit or edit information

Unregistered users can still edit. The only restriction that has be added is for new page creation; for that, you need to be registered. And it's (a) a temporary measure, which (b) only applies to the English Wikipedia. From today's announcement by Jimmy Wales:

I am a firm believer in the validity
of allowing anons to edit. Most anon edits are good, and done "on
impulse". We would most of the good edits from anons if we did not
allow anon edits, but we would probably not lose most of the vandalistic
anon edits. So the net effect of forbidding anon edits would likely be
negative.

But preveneting anons from creating new pages is a different matter, and
it seems a worthy time to make an experiment of it.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 4:02 PM on December 5, 2005


This is why we can't have nice things.
posted by jonson at 4:03 PM on December 5, 2005


I think these are indeed growing pains, and far from being the 'beginning of the end', this is the beginning of wikipedia growing into a more mature system.

It would be foolish to assume the initial model would scale endlessly and be all-embracing. I hope wikipedia keeps developing and adapting in response to these sort of issues.
posted by MetaMonkey at 4:03 PM on December 5, 2005


Wikipedia's also hopelessly in thrall to the received wisdom of what are primarily college kids; any opinion they haven't heard of, doesn't exist. any belief that offends them I sallowed to exist only as a straw man to be knocked own.

Tocqueville, when he toured America, warned that pervasive, aggressive, invasive group-think lay just beneath the ostensible democracy; Wikipedia is similar.

Sure, dissenting opinions are there, but all analysis is filtered through the most politically correct idees fixes of the lonely sophomores and procrastinating graduate students who have the spare time to dominate the site and stake out their turf.

See for yourself: edit an "article" on transgenderism or "furries" or gay marriage or even literary criticism -- well, try to; you'll immediately be shoved through the sieve of political correctness, ostensibly to make sure you're not "biased", in truth to make sure your biases are the allowed and "correct" ones.

Don't misunderstand me: Wikipedia does an excellent job of collecting trivia about Pokemon cards, and "pure" facts in mathematics or the entirely physical sciences. But when it comes to the social sciences, art, or god forfend, anything possibly political, -- indeed, when it comes to anything that is new enough an undergraduate has yet to had a paper assigned on it -- what Wikipedia offers is a thin veneer over the commonly held opinions of the undergraduates middle-range Eastern university: the wisdom of a bull session at the Student Union.
posted by orthogonality at 4:03 PM on December 5, 2005


From the NYT story:

In addition, [Wales] said, Wikipedia may start blocking unregistered users from creating new pages, though they would still be able to edit them.

Again, someone should correct the misinformation in the last sentence of the post.
posted by mediareport at 4:04 PM on December 5, 2005


Yes, they should. I'm sorry about the error on my part.
posted by brittney at 4:05 PM on December 5, 2005


If this was Wikipedia, we could do it ourselves. :)
posted by mediareport at 4:07 PM on December 5, 2005


John Seigenthaler ? The Eschatologist? The drag racer? The guy who faked the moon landing and is in league with commi-nazi aliens from the hollow earth? That John Seigenthaler? Wow! I went to college with him and we invented the internets in our dorm room with Charles Bronson. My buddy’s cousins girlfriends uncles brother in law knows a guy who says that Seigenthaler pulled the trigger on the Kennedy’s himself, and he’s a COP!
(Actually, most of that should have been in bold to replicate the feel, but it’s just too annoying)

Yeah, I don’t fault him for getting pissed. I fault him (and others) for taking Wiki seriously as “reference” as opposed to “factoids.” I’m with Dag Maggot - many folks are still hashing out this “internet” thing.

I have to concur that Wiki will probably be improved by eliminating the anon feature. But I think the danger is in the assumption that it would somehow move closer to being “reference” as opposed to simply making less egregious errors. Mostly true is often more dangerous than complete bullshit.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:11 PM on December 5, 2005


plus what orthogonality said better than me. Dammit!
*goes to the house of pain*
posted by Smedleyman at 4:12 PM on December 5, 2005


[I edited the last sentence of the post, hope that's okay]
posted by jessamyn at 4:12 PM on December 5, 2005


Yes. Your edit is not only correct, it is now more specific.
posted by brittney at 4:14 PM on December 5, 2005


I'm glad Mr Siegenthaler caught this and hopefully
from it Wikipedia and others like it will get better.

Of course the corporate media , which sees the Internet media as a big threat, is jumping on this one. Even that
"paragon of truth and integrity,the New York Times, recently did an op-ed piece on it.


"They say things are done for the majority
Don't believe half of what you see
and none of what you hear."
Lou Reed
posted by thedailygrowl at 4:14 PM on December 5, 2005


I appreciate the irony of writing an article for "USA Today" to complain about poor, inaccurate information.
posted by herting at 4:16 PM on December 5, 2005


The trouble with using a more credible source of information to stamp out a less credible nasty story about you is that you give the nasty story publicity.

He's just pissed because they were spreading the truth, man! He's all part of the conspiracy!
posted by Saydur at 4:25 PM on December 5, 2005


See also Wikipedia's village pump announcement and discussion.
posted by Plutor at 4:29 PM on December 5, 2005


I really don't see the harm in registration. I mean, c'mon, it takes all of two seconds with Autofill and you're done. Just because it's following an open-source model doesn't mean that accountability is out the window.
posted by moonbird at 4:30 PM on December 5, 2005


the wisdom of a bull session at the Student Union

Heh, some parallels with MeFi here, explains a lot. Anyway yeah this guy was on CNN today, he's got a point about lack of accountability. Their terms of use basically say "we're not responsible for anything" which is the case with pretty much all websites. Made me think of the entire software industry and EULA's... not responsible for anything.
posted by scheptech at 4:44 PM on December 5, 2005


This is why we can't have nice things.

"This" being the tragedy of the commons.
---
On another note, being a road warrior I saw the original USA Today article and my first reaction was, "this guy doesn't understand how Wikipedia works".

That reaction being predicated upon the knowledge that he would have been more than welcome in correcting his own freakin' article.

It is a generation gap thing. He is from the authoritarian folks, who think that anything in print has been vetted. We (generally) are from the remixed gen, where it's all about seeing how much you can fuck with the system (which we all know to be bullshit).

Lazy ass "there was no conspiracy" theorist.

In other words, and in historical context, slashdot has moderation now?!
posted by wah at 4:57 PM on December 5, 2005


Sure, dissenting opinions are there, but all analysis is filtered through the most politically correct idees fixes of the lonely sophomores and procrastinating graduate students who have the spare time to dominate the site and stake out their turf.

So... it's still better than Britannica. Gotcha.
posted by poweredbybeard at 5:05 PM on December 5, 2005


This idea of just letting any idiot contribute to a reference work is just asking for trouble.

Wikipedia is not a common carrier. It is a publisher subject to damages for libel just like anyone else.
posted by Yakuman at 5:20 PM on December 5, 2005


John Seigenthaler founded the First Amendment Center in 1991 with the mission of creating national discussion, dialogue and debate about First Amendment rights and values.

Seems like a nice old guy, albeit not up-to-the-minute on how Wiki works, as you might expect from a guy his age.

He's obviously been targeted, because of his interest in the First Amendment, as an ironic way to attack Wikipedia's credibility. Who better than a Freedom of Speech expert to lead an movement to suppress our freedom of Wiki?

The whole thing has the fingerprints of the Church of the Subgenius all over it. Them or the Scientologists. Or maybe Karl Rove.

Meanwhile, I'll carry on using Wikipedia to learn new ideas, and carry on ignoring vague, unsubstantiated allegations made therein against named individuals...
posted by cleardawn at 5:35 PM on December 5, 2005


yay for Freedom of Slander!
posted by matteo at 5:47 PM on December 5, 2005


Yeah, I just changed wikipedia's entry on "hungry hungry hippos" by adding "They're hungry for YOU!" anonymously, and no change yet. This is a bullshit regulation, fear not.
posted by piratebowling at 5:48 PM on December 5, 2005


This is a sad day for something. I'm not quite sure what.
posted by oxala at 5:48 PM on December 5, 2005


OKAY, who besmirched my name on TEH INTERWEBS?
posted by piratebowling at 5:57 PM on December 5, 2005


Yeah, I just changed wikipedia's entry on "hungry hungry hippos" by adding "They're hungry for YOU!" anonymously, and no change yet.


Wait, looks like there has been a change.
posted by dgaicun at 5:58 PM on December 5, 2005


OKAY, who besmirched my name on TEH INTERWEBS?

Heh, that's what Seigenthaler wanted to know.
posted by scheptech at 5:59 PM on December 5, 2005


It was fun while it lasted.
posted by piratebowling at 6:01 PM on December 5, 2005


Wow, the Hungry Hungry Hippos page tells me that "JOHN SEIGENTHALER MURDERED GOD!!!!!!" The proof couldn't be any more conclusive.
posted by stopgap at 6:05 PM on December 5, 2005


I agree with MetaMonkey about the growing pains but am still unconvinced about "wikipedia growing into a more mature system." It's a sassy teen ager with lofty ideals, an addiction to newness and unregulated-ness, but little sense of direction or ambition. I'm thrilled to watch it evolve and pleased to see it wrestle with accountability, but like most awkward adolescents, it's damned hard to guess where or how it'll wind up. It WILL grow, and I suppose maturing is inevitable too, but I'm guessing that plenty of angst and capricious experimentation will precede any sort of meaningful "growing up". Holy $%&, even I'm getting sick of the metaphor. Blag!
posted by geoflaneur at 6:41 PM on December 5, 2005


he would have been more than welcome in correcting his own freakin' article.

Yes. And somebody else would have been welcome to correct it back. Then what?

Anyway, perhaps he simply didn't want to get involved in the Wikipedia community. Perhaps he simply wanted members of that community to be held accountable for publishing lies about him.

this guy doesn't understand how Wikipedia works

Or, he understands it all too well, and thinks it should change.
posted by bac at 7:02 PM on December 5, 2005


From what I can understand from reading John Seigenthaler's article on U.S. today her mother advised him well about the "evils" of gossipping, but maybe she didn't explain him that outrage , successful attempts at having an article removed from some 'executives' from anywhere only looks like a cover up attempt and a lame one at that.

Most people don't bother checking the veracity of most of what they hear or read, but now thanks to the outrage some people will buy in the concept exemplified by nervousfritz's first post

If you've done nothing wrong you've nothing to worry about. posted by nervousfritz at 12:30 AM CET on December 6 [!]

which is an effective one-liner , effective at suggesting that Seigenthaler wouldn't agitate himself so much if he really didn't do any wrong.

Which is false as some people have emotive reactions to false statements, expecially if the allegations cast somebody as a traitor. But now the damage has been done and is being amplified on "the prestigeous internets" as some lawyer once working for some Fox big fuss anchorman would suggest. In that occasion the judge almost throw the lawyer out of court , maybe also because there's no such thing as a "prestigeous" source.
posted by elpapacito at 7:03 PM on December 5, 2005


this is the beginning of wikipedia growing into a more mature system

Yes. Here's one good idea for how wikipedia can fit into an content ecosytem, if you will.
posted by Tlogmer at 7:29 PM on December 5, 2005


successful attempts at having an article removed from some 'executives' from anywhere only looks like a cover up attempt

Only if you don't know anything about publishing, or the law on defamation. As it is, he did the thing that anyone would do in these circumstances, ie, contacted the publisher, told him to remove the defamatory statements or face the consequences, and the publisher wisely did so.

(And for those who suggest he could have edited it himself, you might want to get a clue. Most grown up people have better things to do with their time than engaging in pointless, futile editing wars with people who have no life outside mommy's basement and the intraweb.)

Had Wales not acted as he did, what then? In my view, he'd have been better off going after the Wikipedia foundation for libel in the law courts. If he'd sued in the British courts, he would have undoubtedly won and I'm pretty sure that there's nothing that would stop him from doing that. By going out on the net, the defamation is published in the UK, so he'd be fully entitled to take advantage of our victim-centred approach to defamation

Which is false as some people have emotive reactions to false statements

About ten years ago, somebody who I don't know, and who doesn't know me, made the claim that I'm an anti-semite. Apropos of nothing that I can tell. The person who made the claim said to somebody else, in a forum that I don't frequent, that he'd been told by unspecified sources that I was an antisemite.

Every few years, when I get into a flame war with somebody, they google my real name, find the antisemite allegation and drag it up.

Now personally, I tend not to worry too much about the unsubstantiated allegations of dimwits, anonymous or otherwise. But what if, instead of alleging that I was an anti-semite, somebody had made the allegation that I was a paedophile? What if, for example, they'd posted pretending to be the victim of paedophiliac sexual abuse that I'd inflicted on them?

What if that allegation hung around for a year or two, without my being aware of it, and every time someone who was looking to enter into any kind of significant business relationship with me, Googled my name and came across the paedophile allegation?

There is a place for the publication of anonymous revelations, where people have something to fear from exposure. But the buck has to stop somewhere, with somebody taking responsibility for fact checking or their failure to fact check and the potentially damaging consequences that may arise out of that.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:49 PM on December 5, 2005


PeterMcDermott writes "Only if you don't know anything about publishing, or the law on defamation. As it is, he did the thing that anyone would do in these circumstances, ie, contacted the publisher, told him to remove the defamatory statements or face the consequences, and the publisher wisely did so."

Wait....

I know we all agree that the DMCA is always, unequivocally bad, but what's the right group-think about suing for libel? That's wrong too, if stifles care-free online shenanigans, right?
posted by orthogonality at 7:58 PM on December 5, 2005


Not to mention that Wikipedians look down on anyone editing an article they might have unusual knowlege about. Like an article about you that says things that are not true. That's considered not fair.
posted by rusty at 8:04 PM on December 5, 2005


what's the right group-think about suing for libel? That's wrong too, if stifles care-free online shenanigans, right?

And in most cases, I'm inclined to agree. As I said, I've been libelled countless times on the net, and the sensible plan is to simply get over it and move on. For me, becoming known like Laurence Godfrey did, as somebody who trolled the net seeking out libel cases as a source of part time income would be far more damaging to my sense of self than some retarded nobody claiming I hate jews or like to diddle little girls.

But my reputation isn't worth very much. If I had the sort of reputation that earned me serious dough, I'd probably be suing like a shot if somebody damaged it too.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:12 PM on December 5, 2005


Wait, people take the internet seriously?!
posted by dwordle at 8:27 PM on December 5, 2005


what's the right group-think about suing for libel? That's wrong too, if stifles care-free online shenanigans, right?

Ok, ortho. We get it; you have issues with the Wikipedia approach. You can stop making straw men now.
posted by mediareport at 8:48 PM on December 5, 2005


Had Wales not acted as he did, what then? In my view, he'd have been better off going after the Wikipedia foundation for libel in the law courts. If he'd sued in the British courts, he would have undoubtedly won and I'm pretty sure that there's nothing that would stop him from doing that. By going out on the net, the defamation is published in the UK, so he'd be fully entitled to take advantage of our victim-centred approach to defamation.

s/victim-centred/sycophantic

The UK is well known internationally for its grovelling libel laws which protect the wealthy and famous at the expense of free speech. Yes, this guy probably would have won his case under your laws. Your legal system is fucked up. What does this prove?

Wikipedia is not a publisher and is asinine to assert that it is, since the defining characteristic of a publisher is editorial control — when you publish your book at Kinko's, Kinko's isn't liable for its content, and neither is Wikipedia, nor is ICANN when you publish a defamatory website. Wikipedia is a piece of software and a platform, nothing more.

There is precisely one person who is liable for defaming John Seigenthaler — that person is hidden behind an IP address no one seems able to trace, and the interests of justice are ill served by finding other scapegoats to fill the vacuum.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 8:56 PM on December 5, 2005


I wonder if dhoyt amuses himself on Wikipedia...
posted by juiceCake at 4:17 AM on December 6, 2005


When people say to me "The internet is great for research" I just snort and move on. The internet is completely unreliable as a reference for precisely the reasons highlighted by this bit of stupidity. And it does lead to real problems, causing real pain to real people.

*insert passages from Snow Crash about information hygiene here*
posted by warbaby at 8:04 AM on December 6, 2005


Oh, and in checking around, this nasty piece of disinformation
All major historians have dismissed the "plot" because the only evidence came from one person, Gerald MacGuire, almost unanimously considered a trickster and perjurer, and because zero evidence has been discovered in the archival records of any of the so-called conspirators that MacGuire named.
is still in the Business Plot article. The national archives were sealed until 2000 and confirm Smedley Butler's charges. But some crank has continually screwed with the articles about it, rendering Wikipedia useless on this subject and wasting a lot of people's time.
posted by warbaby at 8:12 AM on December 6, 2005


all Siegenthaler had to do was alert them instead of making a big deal about it

Dare I suggest you read his article? While he spends much time railing at Wikipedia, he did alert them and they dealt with it expediently. Much of his article goes on about his efforts to track down the person(s) who posted the misinformation. They handed over IP and time information and it was Bellsouth that ignored him and left him stymied. They are the problem with regards to any efforts at a libel charge and it is his inability to kick someone's shins over this is the core of his grump, not any inability to get the problem resolved.
posted by phearlez at 9:23 AM on December 6, 2005


He was on "Talk of the Nation" today -- I called in and asked him why he didn't just edit the piece himself. His response, which in my mind seems a bit disingenuous, was that he didn't know. (I'm sure the actual audio will be posted later -- it's worth a listen.)
posted by ph00dz at 12:32 PM on December 6, 2005


ph00dz! I totally heard you on the way to the Post Office! I thought his response was along the lines of "it wasn't HIS problem to be editing the content." Audio should be here in about an hour.

The SF Chron did a similarly hand-wringing piece in today's edition. I've run across a number of such stories in recent days, all themed "my GOD! How can people on the INTERNET use WORDS to TELL US THINGS without ANY VERIFICATION OF THOSE WORDS?!?! THINGS ARE COMING APART AT THE SEAMS."

Such people are, I'm sure, much disspointed to find that Kibbology is apparently not a certified religeon.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 1:41 PM on December 6, 2005


Sweet, Ogre. Listening to it again, I think you're right.

Still, it seems kinda weird. He could've resolved that whole thing in like 30 seconds.
posted by ph00dz at 5:08 PM on December 6, 2005


Caller: Ya, you know, I'm curious why you didn't edit your own wikipedia entry, given that you can do that.

Seigenthaler: Ya, um... The truth of the matter is that I don't want to have anything to do with wikipedia. I was offended by it, and I didn't put it up. Mr. Whales, who was responsible for it being on wikipedia, took it down. There is now, as a result of other entries made over the last five days, even worse stuff. Vicious, vendictive, almost violent stuff. Homophobic, racist stuff about me, that was diverted, and put into the history and I hope Mr. Whales has now taken that out of my history on the web. But, uh, I, uh, choose to answer in my own way, and my way is to expose what I think are incurable flaws in the wikipedia way of doing things.

posted by Chuckles at 8:02 PM on December 6, 2005


I charge the internets with erasing this John Seigenthaler character from history completely. Screw making him look bad; just take him out.
posted by carsonb at 11:17 PM on December 6, 2005


Wow. So the solution to Wikipedia trolls is to let them run you ragged chasing their bullshit 'til the end of time? Sorry, no.

People have the fundamental right to be left alone and not be fucked with. Seigenthaler was the target of harassment. He doesn't own the problem.

So any creep can draft anybody they take a dislike to and make them a slave to editing crap out of Wikipedia? That's so wrong in so many ways only a moral imbecile would think it makes sense.
posted by warbaby at 5:27 AM on December 7, 2005


I came home yesterday to open my daily paper and find this story in the Chron and came across this one in another day's. The squirmy irony on the first was that it was printed on the opposite side of the Wikipedia article.

I'm not saying that Wikipedia is great because if the lack of official review and editing, but given all the hubub about how its not officially reviewed and edited, perhaps we should give some attention to that steaming pile of dung as well.

Two peer-reviewed medical journals? And both screw it up? And what about those recent plagarism cases? Where was the outrage then?
posted by Ogre Lawless at 6:12 AM on December 7, 2005


warbaby: "So any creep can draft anybody they take a dislike to and make them a slave to editing crap out of Wikipedia? That's so wrong in so many ways only a moral imbecile would think it makes sense."

So let's change the Wikipedia part of the equation. Let's say I posted a comment to a popular web site and said "That Seigenthaler dickhead killed JFK with a whaling knife in 1936." Now he can't edit it, so it's okay that I posted it?
posted by Plutor at 12:58 PM on December 7, 2005


"So any creep can draft anybody they take a dislike to and make them a slave to editing crap out of Wikipedia? That's so wrong in so many ways only a moral imbecile would think it makes sense."

In our over-litigious, over-homogenized, overly protective, and overly defensive world, it's nice to see things as open, raw, and accessible as the Wikipedia. It's the sort of thing that would have made a wonderful science fiction short story just a few decades ago - An encyclopedia which can be edited by anyone in the world with access to free, world-wide, computer network. Could be something good. Could be something bad.

It's a wondrous thing.

And yes, it's easy to spin up the hyperbole generator to get some sort of personal information slavery. But while it's perhaps a nice troll, it doesn't change the fact that you're a moron and such. And just as Matt doesn't ban morons from getting MeFi accounts, we shouldn't ban people from editing the Wikipedia.

Of course we could make the Wikipedia different. We could even lock it down to the point where it would fit comfortably in warbaby's safe and proper bubble. But that would sort of ruin the whole point. It's not suppose to be safe, or proper. It's suppose to be open.

If open documents are too nasty for you then please crawl back in your safe bubble. We have cool things going on these days and you aren't going to like any of them.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:30 PM on December 7, 2005


So any creep can draft anybody they take a dislike to and make them a slave to editing crap out of Wikipedia? That's so wrong in so many ways only a moral imbecile would think it makes sense

An encyclopedia which can be edited by anyone in the world with access to free, world-wide, computer network. Could be something good. Could be something bad.


This isn't a moral issue. The concept and application of wikipedia is a manifestation of a new technology. Like the manifold applications of the printing press and the spoken word, it is here to stay (notwithstanding massive intervention in the working of the internet, WW3 or the singularity turning us all into simulations of ourselves, or whatever).

The web teaches us that if people want to say something, they will, and if they can do something, they will.

Wikipedia is suffering for portraying itself as more authoritative, informative and above all insanely 'neutral' than it knows it is or can possibly be.

If everything2, h2g2 or some other similar website without the reputation of wikipedia had the same info about Seigenthaler, no one, him included, would really give a fuck.

Wikipedia needs to own up and give readers a good warning that much of it is a bit crap and largely unreliable. They should simply quit trying to be Britannica online and embrace the fact that they are something very different to a traditional encyclopedia. If they don't, they will fail, and someone else will do it.
posted by MetaMonkey at 4:05 PM on December 7, 2005


Heh, I heard that TotN show too. The question had entered my mind as well, I just didn't have the guts to call up and ask him about it. Well done!
posted by heresiarch at 4:21 PM on December 7, 2005


When you read the peed you need to take it with a grain of salt and not screed.
posted by xammerboy at 7:51 AM on December 8, 2005


yeah
posted by vincente at 8:56 AM on December 16, 2005


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