T Nation

Wikipedia Political?


Good resource generally, but don't trust the entries on contentious subjects - the article focuses on personal entries on political figures, but basically any contentious political subject will have issues:


Political dirty-tricksters are using Wikipedia

ATLANTA (AP) - Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that can be altered by anyone with a computer, has proved remarkably useful for pulling political dirty tricks.

Political operatives are covertly rewriting -- or defacing -- candidates' biographical entries to make the boss look good or the opponent look ridiculous.

As a result, political campaigns are monitoring the Web site more closely than ever this election year.

Revisions made by Capitol Hill staffers became so frequent and disruptive earlier this year that Wikipedia temporarily blocked access to the site from some congressional Internet addresses. The pranks included bumping up the age of the Senate's oldest member, West Virginia's Robert Byrd, from 88 to 180, and giving crude names to other lawmakers.

The entry for Democratic Rep. Jim Marshall of Georgia labeled him "too liberal" for his state, in part because of a contribution he received from a political action committee run by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. The man who doctored Marshall's biography now works for his Republican challenger.

In Georgia this week, the campaign manager for a candidate for governor resigned amid allegations he doctored the Wikipedia biography of an opponent in the Democratic primary.

Morton Brilliant was accused of revising the entry for Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor to add his son's arrest last August in a drunken driving accident that left his best friend dead.

The information was accurate and had been in the news. But Brilliant's boss, Georgia Secretary of State Cathy Cox, declared the son's legal troubles out of bounds.

The link to Brilliant was discovered by Taylor's campaign, which immediately accused the Cox camp of engaging in "gutter politics" and demanded Brilliant's resignation.

Some 1,000 volunteer monitors scan changes to Wikipedia's entries to keep them free of obvious partisan editing, factual errors and profanity, said Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

"The beauty of a forum like this is free speech," Wales said. "But we also promote a neutral point of view."

Wales said entries have to meet a standard of newsworthiness and, as a general rule, should not be written by an interested party -- either a supporter or an opponent.

But finding out who is writing what on the site is not always easy. Internet addresses can be traced to a computer, but not necessarily to the person at the keyboard. And experts say someone with computer savvy could easily cover his or her tracks.

With more and more Americans getting news and information from the Internet, the stakes are high. Wikipedia had 25.6 million unique visitors in March, making it the 18th most popular site on the Internet.

Not surprisingly, the Wikipedia entry that has been altered the most is President Bush's. "Take a deep breath," the site urges readers about to plunge into the passionate political debate.

Other changes are more subtle rewrites of history. Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's name has mysteriously started to disappear from the entries of some officials with ties to the embattled Texas politician who is facing a money-laundering trial. The staff of Rep. Martin Meehan, D-Mass., rewrote his biography to delete a reference to a promise, since broken, that he would serve only four terms.

Wikipedia leapt into the news last year after the journalist and former Kennedy administration aide John Seigenthaler Sr. complained that someone had edited his Wikipedia entry to say that he had been involved in the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy. The man who posted the false information said it had been a joke.

The flap prompted Wikipedia to adopt stricter controls, Wales said.

However, such oversight is probably minor, said Steven Jones, who teaches communications and technology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

"Given the sheer size of Wikipedia and the sheer number of entries, it seems impossible that they could police it in an effective way," Jones said..


Yes, it is a good general source for getting the quick and dirty on topics - and I like it a lot for that.

But I have found in my personal experience that some of the topics that are naturally political have decidedly non-objective approach.


Hell yeah Wikipedia is being primarily populated by the left wingnuttery.

Hey BB-

Can you please quote less of your articles.

Your posts are too F'ing long.

I can read the same information if you link the article.

Scrolling through your quoted text or the entire article is F'ing stupid!

Learn how to post correctly!


Yessss, yessss......

fight amongst yourselves..... only the STRONGEST will win.....


crap, did I say that out loud?


We wouldn't want to accidently learn anything that could change our preconceived notions.



It is called web blog etiquette. Copy most or whole article text is actually a copyright infringement that has been successfully processecuted on numerous occations. The sad thing is you should know better.

I agree with BB and you on numerous topics.

One should only copy and paste a few sentences followed my a link.

Your intellectual dishonesty is getting very tiresome.

Nice try.


WTF are you talking about?


Blog etiquitte? I didn't realize this was a blog. I apppreciate not having to open other windows just to read an article.


You know this thing was mentioned on slashdot a good 4 months ago right? They actually blocked all of Capitol Hill from using wikipedia at one point.


This is kind of amusing:


Amusing as in sad that there are Castro supporters, but still.


I love wikipedia. It is one of the biggest jewels on the Internet's crown -- Democracy at its truest and best.

Of course, one needs to look carefully at who edited the articles, who are the sources, etc. -- but it is by far the best we've ever had at a true compendium of Human Knowledge.


You wouldn't allow your students to cite it as a source, would you?

It's obvious there is a conservative slant to most wikipedia articles. This one doestn't even consider the environmental implications:


If you mean to cite it as an authoritative source, I don't, no. No decent professor would. I do recommend using it as a starting point -- wikipedia articles often link to sources that can themselves be authoritative enough to grant citation. I tend to only consider as authoritative sources that not only have a large body of published research under their belt, they have shown to follow scientific methods and approaches consistently. And my best students understand that well, and tend to comply. I verify every single bibliographical reference I'm not already familiar with, and in many cases have gone as far as calling or e-mailing the author to verify their credibility as a source -- and then discussing the results with students.

Having said that, I've often presented wikipedia articles for discussion in class, and dissected them with the students. Some of them provide a lot of discussion material, and looking at the change log is often fascinating.

Looking at a source and using it as a discussion point is very different from citing it as authoritative.

On a related note, my biggest problem is not with citation -- it's with full-blown plagiarism.

For every paper or assignment I have to grade, I have to carefully review wikipedia (among other sources) to check for plagiarism. It's amazing how Googling for a sentence I find on papers so often returns a hit.

I expect my students to reach their own conclusions, not just follow other people's reasoning.

I consider plagiarism anything that blindly follows somebody else's line of reasoning, even if they don't use the same words.

Unfortunately, many of my students cut corners and don't really make any decent effort to come to their own conclusions -- and then they are surprised I give them a hard time about it, even though they are here to become top managers in their fields.

We're certainly not going to overtake Harvard as the top GSB by teaching how to plagiarize.

Good managers need to be able to think by themselves, to be intelligent and deal with new, previously unexplored, situations. That's how innovation is bred... and without innovation, what would become of the US?


Wikipedia is proof that partisan politics screws up everything...

[i]There are now 900 volunteer administrators patrolling the site to keep troublemakers at bay, as well as formal arbitration mechanisms.

Most articles are uncontroversial, says Kat Walsh, an administrator for Wikipedia. But ''where people are out fighting in the real world, they're going to have differences of opinion on Wikipedia as well,'' she said.[/i]


Wikipedia's greatest strength is in its breadth of content as opposed to the consistency its editorial quality. Where else can I find entries on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Manzikert and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasadena_mudslide in the same resource?

Also the Wiki structure makes it a great way to waste massive quantities of time in an educational way.