Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Wikipedia's Underbelly

A couple of things caught my attention the past couple of days.

The first one was an article about how Wikipedia is edited. (A brief comment about Wikipedia from their site: Wikipedia is a multilingual, web-based, free content encyclopedia project written collaboratively by volunteers from all around the world. Almost all its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the Internet, simply by clicking the edit this page link.) It turns out that people editing the articles on Wikipedia have been expressing their vested interests by slanting stories in their favour. This was discovered because a guy named Virgil Griffith came up with a computer program that reveals who edits these articles, via a system where it scans the I.P address and cross-references it with the I.P. directory (i.e. it shows you who made the edit – or at which computer the edit was made).

So we have large companies slanting information in favour of their product and against the product of its competitor. For example:
- Microsoft tried to cover up the XBOX 360 failure rate
- Apple edit Microsoft entries, adding more negative comments about its rival
- Microsoft then edits Apple entries, adding more negative comments about its rival
- Exxon Mobil edits spillages and eco-system destruction from oil spillages article
- Scientology removes criticism and negatives article from Scientology page
- Amnesty International removes negative comments
- Dell Computers deletes negative comments on customer services and removes a passage how the company outsources work to third world countries
- EA Games deletes whole paragraphs of criticism about employment practices and business methods
- Fox News removes all controversial topics against the network from the Fox News page
- News of the World deletes a number of criticism against the paper
- Nestle removes negative comments on its business practices from its page

This is significant because Wikipedia is so widely used. Many college programs restrict or prohibit the use of internet research because of these issues. It has caused a bit of a stink.

The second thing is on the next post.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When the referendum in the U.S.?