Atma Xplorer

Xploring Games, Computing, Photography

The other side of Wikipedia

If you ever needed to learn about something about on the internet, there?s only two words that usually come into mind as your first sources of information, Google and Wikipedia, although chances are, those Google searches will lead you right into the latter and with good reason.

Wikipedia is one of a few sites to have amassed a huge number of articles hence the success of it?s CMS backbone. That however, also serves as it?s biggest flaw. Because Wikipedia entries can be edited by anyone, there are lots of false, misleading, erroneous information that?s already been published. It?s one of the main reasons why many universities have adopted a NO-Wikipedia policy for sourcing information. The clean-up crews who try and protect Wikipedia from such annoyances are numerous volunteers that police the articles?and there are people in that number who actually competent at what they do?and usually remove the ?bad? information before it gains popularity.

Just recently, we?ve seen some big names editing their Wikipedia entries for the sake of public image. With Virgil Griffith?s wikiscanner, you can easily identify the IP addresse/s of the editee of a particular Wikipedia entry. The issue here is one of adherence to the truth. When the information published is erroneous but was edited so without bias, ok it?s bad, but can be excused so long as someone in the proper knowledge corrects it. Now, when someone clearly edits the information about themselves or others in order to change their public image, then it gets more complicated.

Here?s an excerpt of a list of some of the accosting entries at maltastar:

  • Microsoft tried to cover up the XBOX 360 failure rate
  • Apple edit Microsoft entries, adding more negative comments about its rival
  • Bill Gates revenge? Microsoft edits Apple entries, adding more negative comments about its rival
  • The Vatican edits Irish Catholic politician Gerry Adams page
  • In the 9/11 Wikipedia article, the NRA added that ?Iraq was involved in 9/11?
  • Exxon Mobil edits spillages and eco-system destruction from oil spillages article
  • FBI edits Guantanamo Bay, removing numerous pictures
  • Oil company ChevronTexaco removes informative biodiesel article and deletes a paragraph regarding fines against the company
  • Scientology removes criticism and negatives article from Scientology page
  • Al Jazeera TV station adds that the foundation of Iraq was just as bad as the Holocaust
  • Amnesty International removes negative comments
  • Dell Computers deletes negative comments on customer services and removes a passage how the company outsources work to third world countries
  • MySpace removes paragraph when their website was hacked
  • EA Games deletes whole paragraphs of criticism about employment practices and business methods
  • Dog breeding association deletes whole paragraphs about fatal attacks by dogs on humans
  • US Republican Party changes the ?Post-Saddam? section of the Baath Party article to a different account of the war, changing the language from ?US-led occupation? to ?US-led liberation?
  • Fox News removes all controversial topics against the network from the Fox News page
  • News of the World deletes a number of criticism against the paper
  • Nestle removes negative comments on its business practices from its page
  • UN address calls journalist Oriana Fallaci a racist ?prostitute?
  • Portuguese government removes entries about Prime Minister?s scandals
  • DieBold, the company that controversially supplied computerized polling stations in the US elections, removes numerous paragraphs with negative comments
  • Walmart removes criticism of outsourcing work. The retailer also changes negative paragraphs of underpaid workforce
  • Sony removes harmful paragraphs against blu-ray systems
  • Someone at Reuters calls Bush ?a mass murderer?
  • Coca Cola removes negative content about its effects
  • British Conservative Party removes negative references of its MPs and deletes paragraph of the party?s old policies
  • US University adds the ?prestigious? adjective to its page
  • Boeing edits from ?Boeing is a leading American aircraft and aerospace manufacturer? to ?Boeing is the leading American aircraft and aerospace manufacturer?
  • MSN Search is ?a major competitor to Google?. That?s what MSN added to their page
  • BBC changes Blair?s drink from coffee to vodka and his workout from the gym to the bedroom. Someone from the BBC also changes Bush?s page, changing the name from ?George Walker Bush? to ?George Wan*** Bush?
  • Someone from The Guardian edits the Wikipedia page of rival newspaper The Times. Originally in the article it is said that The Times sells more than The Guardian. After the edit, The Guardian sells more.

When was the last time a piece of software generated this much buzz? With a large number of big names involved, I for one feel very unsure about the next Wikipedia entry that I need to read. Congratulations to Virgil though.

If you?re wondering what else you can find, head to the wikiscanner page and maybe you?ll spot something interesting.

On this note, I think that it’s in Wikipedia’s best interest to implement some sort of user edition policy. The easiest and most popular way would be to do things like social networking sites but that entails it’s own sets of problems. If they are adamant about keeping true to the encyclopedia name, it’s the least they could do.

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