According 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