BBC NEWS | Technology | Wikipedia joker eats humble pie
The quality of Wikipedia has recently been questioned, because of a false biography entry on the journalist John Seigenthaler.
The story first surfaced in USAToday: “A false Wikipedia ‘biography'”.
The person that produced the false Wikipedia entry was discovered, as reported in the BBC article.
But this is a real and serious problem.
I love the concept of Wikipedia, but the world is a dificult environment for idealists.
To me, this shows how obvious it is, that Wikipedia will have to change it’s policy of being completely open, very soon, and that the policy will have to be more restrictive, than the requirement that users register before they can create articles.
Last week one of the children that attend “Lektiehjælpen” was to write a paper on the game of Cricket. He had found the English Wikipedia entry, and he used this as the main basis for his paper, along with information from the Website of the Danish Cricket Union.
Even though the policy change should have been put into effect after the John Seigenthaler controversy, we were able to edit the Danish entry for Cricket. We started by changing the first sentence, and today I’ve noticed that the article is much more elaborate, and it looks like the article has been edited by the child (same IP number). I also noticed that some articles had been edited from the same IP number, and later reverted to previous versions because of vandalism.
I explained to the child how important it is that the information you enter in Wikipedia is correct, and that it isn’t deliberately wrong or false.
I suggest that Wikipedia “hire” some editors, and put all submitted articles through a formal screening process, other that “screened by peers”.
This being said, the quality of the Danish entry is now much better simply because a child was writing a paper on cricket, it would be sad to loose that, unique, quality of Wikipedia.
I still trust Wikipedia as a resource, and to quote a recent study “Wikipedia survives research test”:
Wikipedia is about as accurate on science as the Encyclopedia Britannica.
But I recommend that you’re careful not trusting Wikipedia as the single source. Wikipedia. itself, always give you access to other relevant resources, since most of the articles are accompanied by a list of relevant links.
In order to maintain the quality of Wikipedia, I really think that governments, and/or international organisations, should invest resources in Wikipedia.
Wikipedia is too important to be left to vandals, so something has to change.