Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Salon Piece on Ego and Revenge in Wikipedia Editing

This piece by Salon writer Andrew Leondard was pretty interesting and troubling.

In it, he does some investigating into problematic, conflict-of-interest-y behavior by an active author/Wikipedia editor, who also purportedly engaged in sock-puppeting and pseudonymity to back himself up and edit biographies of his literary rivals.

I often use Wikipedia as a handy go-to source if I want to find information quickly about a topic, but I nearly always look at the links that purport to support whatever's being said, and I often read the Talk pages to see the extent to which content has been debated and edited.

I often see Internet users, especially those engaging in online debate, use Wikipedia (often without citing it) to kind of act like they're maybe talking off the cuff about different topics. That's the nature of Internet non-face-to-face communication, I suppose, as we can all at least somewhat appear as though our knowledge runs much deeper than it actually does.  And, along those lines, I suppose we can maybe convince ourselves at times that we're all set on a topic once we read its Wikipedia article.

So, related to the Salon piece, I think articles like it serve as important reminders of how Wikipedia's form, so to speak, can't always be separated from its content.

The site has incredibly extensive rules and procedures around the general topic of civility, moreso than on any other site I've seen on Internet, and yet in terms integrity, the information on the site continually remains suspect.  That's not, like, a huge Startling Revelation to say.

Indeed, I think that in order to remain relevant, entities are going to increasingly have to put resources into grappling with Civility On The Internet issues rather than pretending or wishing these issues didn't exist.  So, I guess this post is part of my ongoing interest in how entities respond to human behavior on Internet.

1 comment:

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