Home » Culture, Media » I would like to donate to Wikipedia, but …

I would like to donate to Wikipedia, but …

Wikipedia has a big fundraising push right now. Here’s what I sent to [email protected]:

To whom it may concern,

Wikipedia is a useful resource for uncontroversial areas, but in areas of controversy I find it quite biased. My own extensive biography at Wikipedia is terribly slanted. Colleagues who try to correct misrepresentations find their edits scrupulously removed. Until and unless Wikipedia is more careful about fact-checking and provides some means for correcting the bias of editors, I cannot in good conscience donate to Wikipedia. At the very least, I would suggest that acknowledged experts in an area (such as the living subjects of biographies) be given a 1,000-word response section to relevant articles — sections completely at their discretion and beyond the control of biased editors.

Sincerely,
William Dembski

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dembski

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9 Responses to I would like to donate to Wikipedia, but …

  1. I can see it now.

    Controversy

    Towards the end of December 2008 William Dembski sent a threatening letter to the Wikipedia managership angrily demanding that all entries related to him and the Templeton Foundation, an intelligent design advocacy group, be altered to offer more positive coverage or he would take steps to withhold funds[1].

    1: Source needed.

  2. I avoid Wikipedia at all costs, always preferring other sources.

    It is fine to say, as Bill does, that Wikipedia is a good resource for uncontroversial topics – but how do I know?

    For one thing, how do I know what topics are uncontroversial?

    Wikipedia needs – but will not get – a Major Troll Scrub. Picture thousands of trolls falling off a cliff … landing in useful jobs, suited to their zealous energy accompanied by poor judgement.

    Please, NOT in publishing, online or otherwise.

    I would need a red pencil the size of a California redwood, instead of my familiar red Pilot fineliner, to deal with all the irrelevant bias I have seen – on those subjects I have followed.

    But look, spending a lot of time on this stuff is not worthwhile.

    The people who think they can stuff themselves throughout the twelve days of Christmas, and lie around watching terminal TV – and still lose weight on some fad mag’s “hip hips hooray!” diet – will be delighted with Wikipedia’s “free” stuff.

    And who am I to spoil their fun?

    Just don’t ever quote Wikipedia as a source to me, and expect me to take it as some kind of authority.

    It is like The National Enquirer.

    Yes, they were right about John Edwards’s love child. But does that mean I should believe them about their current front page “scandal”?

    Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nilch.

  3. Following Dembsli’s lead:

    To whom it may concern,

    Wikipedia provides some useful information. However, Wikipedia’s severe lack of quality control and lack of enforcement of its own rules results in the worst abuses of mob rule. The founders of the USA chose a republic under law as the best form of government and explicitly rejected a pure democracy as a form of government because of well known abuses of mob rule in the Greek democracies.

    Wikipedia’s pages on minority positions is particularly biased with slanted editing by editors backing majority positions. This is a severe problem for any scientists who do not back the party line of harmful anthropogenic global warming. Wikipedia also has a strong bias against minority positions such as Inteligent Design.

    Because of this severe bias, I recommend Wikipedia institute some major reforms providing for pro and anti positions so that each side can provide its viewpoint in controversial areas rather than only the majority opinion being allowed. Similarly, I recommend that all persons with living biographies be given at least one third of the space for their own exclusive statements that cannot be vandalized by those biased against them.

    Until Wikipedia redresses its abysmal mob rule policies I cannot in good conscience donate to it.

    Who knows, someone might listen and act.

  4. If edits are “scrupulously” removed, what’s the problem?

  5. Just recently I used Wikipedia to come up with unbiased estimators of standard deviation, skew and kurtosis. I thought I could depend on the answers. But now? How unbiased, are they, really?

  6. Wikipedia administrators provably ignore the encyclopedia’s policy on biographies of living persons. I would love to see subjects of abusive biographies bring a class-action suit against Wikipedia. The encyclopedia seems to be struggling to get its $6 million in contributions for this year. That is chicken feed in comparison to what a court might award a reasonably large class of wronged parties.

    I tell people that Wikipedia is like communism. It really did seem like a good idea in the beginning, but we have abundant evidence now that it just doesn’t work.

    Kill it, I say, and start over. Conservapedia has its own absurd biases. Scholarpedia is glacially slow. I think DLH has the right idea when he mentions the structure of a republic. There should be elite decision makers and judges, as well as a system of checks and balances.

    (And by the way, DLH, I appreciate your efforts — I suppose you are DLH at Wikipedia as well — to straighten out, at least a bit, the BLP of one of the Expelled interviewees.)

  7. I thought I was the only one that noticed all of the biased crap. I’ve spent hours trying to give the other side of the story, but it is always erased within a day or so. For example, on a page about a controversial materialist concept, in the “controversy” section, there will be a bunch of ad hominem attacks on general “creationists” and then basically a recap of a Richard Dawkins book defending the topic (IN the “controversy” section!!)

    wikipedia is a great resource for a lot of things, but the incredible bias towards materialism (not just what it says, but its tone towards anyone who thinks there might be a different explanation for things) has really left a sour taste in my mouth. and it’s supposed to be a “public” encyclopedia, run “by the people”. yet anyone on our side of the debate is hushed by either the mighty hand of wikipedia editors, or other materialists in the general public

  8. I’ve had at least three of my professors tell me that Wikipedia is an unacceptable source for any papers I might write for class. I wholeheartedly agree.

  9. Barb, I agree with your profs. No one should use Wikipedia as a source for anything.

    It could be right or wrong … but how would we know?

    Where the Biggest Troll’s opinion rules (maybe not the biggest troll in the whole world, but the biggest one who has a lot of time on his hands to interfere, as he wishes), then obviously we are worse off than we were without any information at all.

    False information with a troll standing guard over it is far worse than no information.

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