04.17.2013 12:08 PM

Wikipedia is a frigging joke

A reader directed me over there to take a look at the page that – for reasons I still do not understand – has been devoted to me.  I don’t believe I merit a Wikipedia page, but whatever.

Per usual, it was rife with errors of spelling, grammar and fact. There were so many factual errors, in fact, it’s hard to know where to start. In addition, someone using a false name has been posting all sorts made-up stuff, most of it defamatory.

So I conducted an experiment. I started deleting the libellous/factually-wrong stuff. It kept getting put back up. This went on for a while.  I then went to Sun News to do some hits.

I’m now back, and the page has been “locked.” Meaning, “Warren Kinsella” can’t make changes to the story told about “Warren Kinsella” – “Warren Kinsella” having been the person most likely to have had the greatest acquaintance with the facts of “Warren Kinsella’s” own life – but some pale, pimple-faced nobody who lives in his mother’s basement can.

Ipso facto, as I have been writing for years, Wikipedia is a joke. Always has been, always will be.


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    David Bronaugh says:

    By the look of the history, you didn’t create an account — you were editing anonymously. Anonymous edits tend to get deleted summarily.

    Try creating an account, under your name, and -then- perform the edits. See if the result is different.

    I can’t promise anything great, but the way you went about things is also the way that trolls and other vandals go about things, so I don’t think it was a very good experiment. Not exactly following community norms.

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    smelter rat says:

    You can report the issue here: info-en-v@wikimedia.org

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    tfalcone86 says:

    During the Budget debate, a Tory quoted Encyclopaedia Britannica… I laughed.

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    CaligulaJones says:

    Hey, at least you aren’t alone:


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    Babs says:

    The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide or remove a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet (wikipedia).

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    Mark says:

    Okay, I’ll go out on a limb here, Warren, knowing how much you loathe Wikipedia. I believe that, even with its faults (including contributing to our penchant for lazy research), Wikipedia still offers good value to most users, particularly when you consider that its generous citation of weblinks and sources in most articles does allow the more ambitious among us to undertake further due diligence and come up with answers to whatever we want. People who are not willing to undertake serious research before passing things off as evidence are clearly dumb as posts, but it would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater not to consider the genius involved in created an editable on-line encyclopedia, which Wikipedia is.

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    !o! says:

    Looking at the user who undid the changes you made to the wikipedia page, he seems to edit a wide variety of pages. The vast majority of his recent activity is the undoing of undocumented changes made recently by anonymous users, as per the guidelines on this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:RCP

    Changes usually need to be sourced, and documented (in the talk section or in comments). I can understand where you’re coming from personally, as you are obviously the authority on you, but the curators have no way of knowing that, and changes need to be sourced and motivated. Due to the potential for conflict of interest, people generally aren’t allowed to edit pages on themselves using themselves as sources– if there is a factual inaccuracy on the page, it needs to be dealt with through references to sources that contradict it.

    It’s not ideal, but it works in most cases.

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    RealLifeLibrarian says:

    A source that actively disseminates inaccurate information is not a reliable source (somewhat like Conservative party ads). Yes, it has citations and links but as a a librarian I could never advocate the use of wikipedia despite what some teachers say. In fact it horrifies me when a kids says “the teacher says we can use wikipedia”, I die a little inside. It is not an appropriate research source unless you wish to read an entry about Justin Bieber or some fluff and read it with a critical eye and a source to compare the facts there with a more credible source (in this case say the bio on his web site). As I have told students, faculty and others for more years than I care to remember (I started pre-internet) that free information is worth what you pay for it. Yes, there are some credible free sources but if some handed you a free book and said it is all true and what you need to know about a topic, I suspect you would doubt the value of the source, same thing for wikipedia. Truthiness (thank you Mr. Colbert) is not fact despite what some would have us believe.

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      !o! says:

      Isn’t free access to information without paying for each book the premise of libraries?

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        RealLifeLibrarian says:

        Yes, but the sources that have credibility are not web sites and indexes you are paying for as a library user, they are sources the library subscribes to, often for very large fees, so yes it is free to you the user, but the library has paid out of its budget for access to the sources. So free to you as a user of the library, cost to the library just like buying books for the collection. So, like anything, it is not free, just because the user does not have the fee passed on does not mean it was free to the library.

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    James Hanna says:

    Whatever problems Wikipedia has, its nothing compared to “Conservapedia”. Their article on E=mc2 says the following:
    “Political pressure, however, has since made it impossible for anyone pursuing an academic career in science to even question the validity of this nonsensical equation. Simply put, E=mc² is liberal claptrap.”

    Compared to them, wikipedia is peer-reviewed…

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    Rob says:

    Notwithstanding all of the other valid advice here, it’s generally considered unethical to edit one’s own wikipedia entry.

    That said, there’s an easy solution — if you put up a blog post listing the inaccuracies, and provide confirmatory links, then your blog post can be referenced as an authoritative source of factual information. The wikipedia gnomes will take it from there.

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    Elisabeth Lindsay says:

    People who read Wikipedia are at the same level as people who accept robo calls.

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