Thursday, December 15, 2005

People piss me off

Wikipedia hit by surge in spoof articles
Wikipedia was yesterday described as being as reliable as the Encyclopaedia Britannica despite a sustained attack from vandals intent on further wrecking its reputation for accuracy.

In an online article published by the respected scientific journal Nature , articles in Wikipedia - the web-based encyclopaedia created by volunteers - compared favourably to those in the foremost repository of knowledge in the English language.

This is despite a surge in the number of spoof articles and vandal attacks which have followed the furore over a biographical Wikipedia article linking John Seigenthaler, a respected retired journalist, with the assassinations of both John F and Robert Kennedy.

In one such fake article, it was suggested today that Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's creator, was shot dead at his home by Siegenthaler's wife.

I blame this all on Seigenthaler and his enormous ego. He goes from being someone recognizable years ago to someone who is only occassionally consulted as an expert now. His expert status and the things that people let him write because of that status is all he has left, so of course Wikipedia appears to be an assault on him: it's a bunch of non-experts getting a whole lot more attention.

Wikipedia's one weakness is that these sort of spoofs can happen, but they are going to happen very frequently. They certainly aren't going to be coordinated (and eventually all of the present coordination is going to damp down). However, due to Seigenthaler's ego, he's enabled all of this. Wikipedia would not have been weak if it wasn't for him -- a high profile "expert" receiving far too much attention for far too small of an offense.

(hopefully this is all just a tempest in a tea pot -- all of this should damp down and Wikipedia should be back to its normal status soon (soon?))

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