The Power of the Wikipedia Editor

I have been highly critical of Wikipedia in the past for the penchant of some self-styled Guardians of what should be allowed in Wikipedia deleting content. But since most of the time, those were issues regarding who was or not a web celebrity they didn’t matter too much in the greater scheme of things. But the potential for abuse was still there.

Take, for example, the Wikipedia entry for Naomi Oreskes. Read this “version”:http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Naomi_Oreskes&oldid=201071198 and this “later one”:http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Naomi_Oreskes&oldid=201073885. Notice the differences. Then read the “revision history”:http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Naomi_Oreskes&action=history. So, why the controversy?

bq. Tabletop, it turns out, has another name: Kim Dabelstein Petersen. She (or he?) is an editor at Wikipedia. What does she edit? Reams and reams of global warming pages. I started checking them. In every instance I checked, she defended those warning of catastrophe and deprecated those who believe the science is not settled. I investigated further. Others had tried to correct her interpretations and had the same experience as I — no sooner did they make their corrections than she pounced, preventing Wikipedia readers from reading anyone’s views but her own. When they protested plaintively, she wore them down and snuffed them out. By patrolling Wikipedia pages and ensuring that her spin reigns supreme over all climate change pages, she has made of Wikipedia a propaganda vehicle for global warming alarmists. But unlike government propaganda, its source is not self-evident. We don’t suspend belief when we read Wikipedia, as we do when we read literature from an organization with an agenda, because Wikipedia benefits from the Internet’s cachet of making information free and democratic. This Big Brother enforces its views with a mouse. – “Lawrence Solomon(Wikipedia’s zealots)”:http://www.nationalpost.com/todays_paper/story.html?id=440268&p=1

In this case, it doesn’t even matter to me who is wrong or right. What is way more disturbing is the denial that there is any controversy and the systematic manipulation to suppress any mention of it. As long as Wikipedia is subject to the whim of the individual editors who are willing to not only delete things they disagree with but lock out furthering editing to ensure they retain control, Wikipedia will remain nothing more than a group wiki for a tightly-constrained oligarchy.

Michael K Pate

Michael K. Pate tends to spend a great deal time of time around computers. He has been a Librarian since 1997. Michael was born in Avon Park, Florida in 1966. Except for a couple of brief periods in his life (once in Tampa and once in Winter Haven/Haines City), he has been a life-long resident. Originally, he planned on a career as a Computer Programmer and therefore graduate from Webber College with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems in 1988. However, unhappy with career opportunities at the time, he soon returned to school and received a BS in Social Science Education from the University of South Florida. He began his career in education at Avon Elementary and later Avon Park Middle working as a Computer Lab Coordinator. While technological challenges were interesting, he found himself more and more interested in becoming a Media Specialist. He began work on his MLS in 1995. However, a summer internship at the Sebring Public Library in 1996 soon made him reconsider just what his career should be. Upon graduation in 1997, he secured a position as a Media Specialist at Eastside Elementary in Haines City. Eventually, the position he was looking for opened up and he returned to SPL as Reference Librarian in 1999. In 2003, he became Assistant Director of the Highlands County Library System, serving in that role until the position was eliminated during a late round of budget cuts in 2010. Since then, he has been the Computer Support Specialist for the Heartland Library Cooperative. In 2011, he began serving on the Board of Directors of the Tampa Bay Library Consortium.

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