Wikipedia is an open, online, collaborative encyclopedia, the biggest of its kind to date.
And it is increasingly less relevant as a credible source, even if it is still widely visited.
I remember the one time I ever had any direct interaction with whatever “body” governs Wikipedia’s content: as a journalist, looking for basic biographical data of a Spanish defense minister at the time, I landed on the person’s Wikipedia page that was littered with profanities and invective.
Clearly, somebody, somewhere, was not happy with the guy. I figured it was going on because nobody reported it? So I did. But I never looked back. Not at that page, and not at Wikipedia as a reliable source of any kind of reliable information. Yes, Wikipedia may contain very credible stuff – maybe 99 percent of it is. But to make sure, you’ll have to cross reference it with two more credible sources. So what’s the use, as a journalist? Just go for two credible sources in the first place.
Now – to argue or not to argue with a platform that is on such a trajectory, is up to each and every one of us.
Sharyl Attkisson seems to have erred on the side of arguing with it.
The reason is that the platform is plagued with many problems, big and small, systemic and absolutely fixable with just a little bit of good will, and lots in between.
But the problem Sharyl Attkisson chooses to focus on is pretty serious – it’s the weaponization of a global platform.
The way Attkisson paints the picture of the storied open collaborative platform is one overpowered by noisy and powerful trolls, and doxxers.
Attkisson – if Wikipedia is anything to go by – is a five-time Emmy winner and a “non-partisan” journalist to boot. And yes, we have looked elsewhere.
Today, she accuses Wikipedia of being controlled by “anonymous political and special interests on behalf of paid clients,” and continues: “Devoted ideologues use their authority on Wikipedia to censor and controversial ideas with which they disagree. There are attacks, slander, biases, false information and censorship.”
Attkisson is upset about the process Wikipedia affords its editors – calling the “talk” pages arcane, but also giving an insight into “a window into the bias, twisted justifications, and mangled logic used by Wikipedia agenda editors to make sure false and biased information stays on a page… and fair, truthful information is censored.”
In the face of all this, we almost yearn for the days when the biggest Wikipedia “controversy” and certainly the biggest annoyance was having to put up with a banner featuring co-founder Jimmy Wales’s face soliciting donations.