Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Want to sneak a peek at just who is editing our well-loved friend, Wikipedia (the bane of every professor who has ever assigned a research project)?

WikiScanner reports specifically when somebody messes with wikipedia who probably shouldn't mess with wikipedia.

The crimes it tracks include:

  • "Wholesale removal of entire paragraphs of critical information. (common for both political figures and corporations)

  • White-washing -- replacing negative/neutral adjectives with positive adjectives that mean something similar. (common for political figures)

  • Adding negative information to a competitor's page. (common for corporations)"

  • A NY Times Article speaks about the issue too.
    Internet users have spotted plenty of interesting changes to Wikipedia by people at nonprofit groups and government entities like the Central Intelligence Agency. Many of the most obviously self-interested edits have come from corporate networks.

    Last year, someone at PepsiCo deleted several paragraphs of the Pepsi entry that focused on its detrimental health effects. In 2005, someone using a computer at Diebold deleted paragraphs that criticized the company’s electronic voting machines. That same year, someone inside Wal-Mart Stores changed an entry about employee compensation.
    This dilemma seems to appear in every wiki environment. What's stopping hotel owners from posting rave reviews of their own rooms on travel sites? When anyone is allowed to contribute, well, just about everyone with an invested interest will.

    And, the most important question we arrive at then is, is it even unethical for certain people/corporations to change information floating around on the Internet when it is about them after all. I know if someone used ugly adjectives to describe me, I'd want to get in there and make them sound a whole lot more positive. Where is the line between subjective opinion and cold hard truth?

    I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about the issue, but I am sure that I don't want to be an Internet information dupe. Thanks Wikiscanner for attempting to keep wiki's more honest.

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