Wikipedia Vandals

Wikipedia-vandal.jpgAccording to The Times (UK), a group of vandals have been attacking Wikipedia deliberately adding in falsehoods to articles:

[There has been a] surge in the number of spoof articles and vandal attacks which have followed the furore over a biographical Wikipedia article linking John Seigenthaler, a respected retired journalist, with the assassinations of both John F and Robert Kennedy.

In one such fake article, it was suggested today that Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia’s creator, was shot dead at his home by Siegenthaler’s wife.

This is most unfortunate. That’s the problem when you have something open and free — anybody can abuse the system. In an interesting post, Eric Goldman predicts the demise of Wikipedia:

Wikipedia inevitably will be overtaken by the gamers and the marketers to the point where it will lose all credibility.

Andrew Raff of IPTABlog writes:

Unless Wikipedia starts to implement a strong editorial policy, the entire project will become suspect because of entries like the one about Siegenthaler. Wikipedia is at a critical point in that it has enough entries and reputation that by continuing to allow anyone to edit any entry may harm the future development of the project.

This phenomenon is often at the heart of any open and free system — it will invariably have to tighten up because of abuse. The key is finding the right balance of freedom and control. It’s an age-old problem, of course, but the Internet raises it again in interesting ways.

For related posts on Wikipedia see the new category archive, Wiki.

Hat tip: NeXus

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6 Responses

  1. Anonymoose says:

    Wikipedia rules — check out this site

    I threw together to search google & blogs & wikipedia

    from the same form —!

  2. Hopeless 1L says:

    It’s really fascinating to watch the evolution of Wikipedia happen so rapidly, as these posts are demonstrating. The only thing I think Goldman is wrong about is that it will take 5 years to unravel…it will likely be a much shorter time before policing must become so serious as to make Wikipedia unrecognizable. At least so it seems to me.

  3. SupplySider says:

    This piece on is apropos.

    Teaser: “Unfortunately, a few contributors are saboteurs, libellers, and ill-meaning pranksters, creating havoc with false entries, mean-spirited lies, and low-brow japes.

    It’s easier for bad entries to ‘happen’ to a good encyclopedia like Wikipedia than to other encyclopedias because it’s so easy to add things to Wikipedia. Until a few weeks ago, even anonymous contributors could write and edit the wiki. Even now it takes just minutes to sign up as a contributor and start your career as an unpaid encyclopedist.

    And though other contributors can edit out what you put up, this is not always as fast as the word ‘wiki’ suggests (wiki means ‘quick’ or ‘hasten’ in Hawaiian).”

  4. anon says:

    Yawn. Wikipedia and wiki’s in general are not going anywhere. This is just hype.

    The wiki technology will continue to improve to deal with such situations.

    Let’s not go crazy.

  5. Simon says:

    I really don’t think this is the biggest problem facing Wikipedia. As I noted on Friday, Wikipedia is already evolving a corrective mechanism for vandalism, as people increasingly tend to “adopt” articles that they have contributed to. The big problem, IMHO, is actually a technical, not wetware, problem, viz. the almost chronic database servers. I’m getting pretty tired of clicking on “edit” and waiting five minutes for a page to display, sittin on the business end of an OC12 connection.

  6. Josia says:

    The ONLY PROBLEM WITH VANDALS IS WIKIPEDIA ITSELF, tells more about wikipedia and how they treat others

    they are responsible for content, they start things, if even it’s a little bit wrong, administrators reverse everything, then when somebody wants to correct it, if they do not like it, it stays, wiki is very subjective and you cant do anything about, the only good thing, it’s up to date, no more, stay away if you wanna get screwed and get wrong grades!