Monday, August 18, 2008

Why Isn't Wikipedia Very Reliable?

Why Isn't Wikipedia Very Reliable?

It is who is editing it. Mitchell Blatt over The Media Perspective has a couple of postings about Obama and McCain campaign workers using campaign systems to edit Wikipedia entries. Some of these examples are so juvenile that it makes me wonder if there is adult supervision at the Obama campaign:
Yesterday, I posted on McCain’s political team editing Wikipedia pages. Today, I have investigated Obama’s team. One of Obama’s political aides, Nick Bauer, has been doing most of the editing. He edited the page on hyperpolarization, supposedly a change in a cell’s membrane that makes it more polarized, to say “Nick Bauer, political aide, coined this term.” (View Edit) The next person deleted that line, saying they had seen no references to Nick Bauer and hyperpolarization.
Nick Bauer is in fact an Obama aide, and you can “contact him” to “endorse the Homes for Heroes Act or to comment on the legislation,” according to the Hispanic War Veterans of America website.
Bauer has made many similar edits, crediting himself with defeating Russian martial arts expert Andrei Semenov and being the first male admitted to the Karrakatta women’s club in Western Australia, among other accomplishments. (Some of his edits)
One of his funnier edits was to say that another staffer, Tom Vietor, got into a fight with Vanilla Ice:
Most recently, Winkle was the target of an unfortunate assault when, during a concert in Des Moines, Iowa, an Aryan-looking, bi-curious campaign staffer named Tom Vietor hurled an empty bottle at the performer’s skull. Little physical damage was sustained by the rapper, and Winkle ultimately introduced Vietor to “Big Daddy” following the show.
(Yes, Vanilla Ice’s real name is Robert Van Winkle.)
However, he deleted that entry about seven minutes after posting it.
As with McCain campaign’s edits, there doesn’t seem to be any political motives in any of the edits.
Yeah, because that would at least make sense to do.

McCain's campaign, according to Blatt, at least is improving the accuracy of the Wikipedia pages:
The only distortions I’ve been able to find McCain’s campaign having done is that they deleted the part on Adam Sandler’s page that said all of his movies sucked. Wikipedia still hasn’t fixed that.
On July 24, 2007, one of McCain’s people changed the text “Themes in Sandler’s films (which all suck)” to simply “Themes in Sandler’s films.” (Link)
They also made a clarification about who was Secretary of Energy. On July 23, 2007, they changed the changed the listing from Yosemite Sam to Samuel W. Bodman, which I believe to be more accurate. (Link)

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