Saturday, December 22, 2007

Convicted Felon Was Running Wikipedia

I've blogged before about the promise and perils of Wikipedia (see links below). Now it comes out that Wikimedia (the foundation that owns and runs Wikipedia) employed a convicted felon as their Chief Operating Officer for 6-months: Felon Became a Top Wikipedia Exec

If they can't vouch for the credentials of their COO how can they vouch for the credentials of the people who write their articles? Any Tom, Dick or Carolyn can go write an article at Wikipedia and who knows a) who they are, b) who they work for, c) who pays them, d) what their personal biases and intolerances are or e) what their conflicts of interest are.

If Wikipedia wants to be treated as some sort of authoritative and trustworthy source of information then we need a full disclosure of who the authors of every article are because in order to accurately evaluate an article, you not only need to understand the article itself, but also who wrote it. An example that I hope demonstrates the point: If you read an article about how a particular drug was the solution to depression, you might be convinced to take it. But if you discovered that the article was written by a doctor who received a million dollars last year from the drug company who manufactures the drug, then you may have second thoughts.

My earlier articles:
Wikipedia - The Flaw
More on Wikipedia
How trustworthy is Wikipedia?

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