Wikipedia, the online “free encyclopedia” mega-site written and edited entirely by its users, has been deleting within minutes any mention of eligibility issues surrounding Barack Obama’s presidency, with administrators kicking off anyone who writes about the subject. …
A perusal through Obama’s current Wikipedia entry finds a heavily guarded, mostly glowing biography about the U.S. president. Some of Obama’s most controversial past affiliations, including with Rev. Jeremiah Wright and former Weathermen terrorist Bill Ayers, are not once mentioned, even though those associations received much news media attention and served as dominant themes during the presidential elections last year. …
Wikipedia users who wrote about the eligibility issues had their entries deleted almost immediately and were banned from re-posting any material on the website for three days.
In one example, Wikipedia user “Jerusalem21” added the following to Obama’s page:
“There have been some doubts about whether Obama was born in the U.S. after the politician refused to release to the public a carbon copy of his birth certificate and amid claims from his relatives he may have been born in Kenya. Numerous lawsuits have been filed petitioning Obama to release his birth certificate, but most suits have been thrown out by the courts.”
As is required on the online encyclopedia, that entry was backed up by third-party media articles, citing the Chicago Tribune and WorldNetDaily.com
The entry was posted on Feb. 24, at 6:16 p.m. EST. Just three minutes later, the entry was removed by a Wikipedia administrator, claiming the posting violated the websites rules against “fringe” material.
According to Wikipedia rules, however, a “fringe theory can be considered notable if it has been referenced extensively, and in a serious manner, in at least one major publication, or by a notable group or individual that is independent of the theory.”
The Obama eligibility issue has indeed been reported extensively by multiple news media outlets. WorldNetDaily has led the coverage. Other news outlets, such as Britain’s Daily Mail and the Chicago Tribune have released articles critical of claims Obama may not be eligible. The Los Angeles Times quoted statements by former presidential candidate Alan Keys doubting Obama is eligible to serve as president. Just last week, the Internet giant America Online featured a top news article about the eligibility subject, referencing WND’s coverage.
When the user “Jerusalem21” tried to repost the entry about Obama’s eligibility a second time, another administrator removed the material within two minutes and then banned the Wikipedia user from posting anything on the website for three days.
Wikipedia administrators have the ability to kick off users if the administrator believes the user violated the website’s rules.
Over the last month, WND has monitored several other attempts to add eligibility issues to Obama’s Wikipedia page. In every attempt monitored, the information was deleted within minutes and the user who posted the material was barred from the website for three days.
Angela Beesley Starling, a spokeswoman for Wikipedia, explained to WND that all the website’s encyclopedia content is monitored by users. She said the administrators who deleted the entries are volunteers.
“Administrators,” Starling said, “are simply people who are trusted by the other community members to have access to some extra tools that allow them to delete pages and perform other tasks that help the encyclopedia.” …
The Wikipedia entry about former President George W. Bush, by contrast, is highly critical. One typical entry reads, “Prior to his marriage, Bush had multiple accounts of alcohol abuse. … After his re-election, Bush received increasingly heated criticism. In 2005, the Bush administration dealt with widespread criticism over its handling of Hurricane Katrina. In December 2007, the United States entered the second-longest post-World War II recession.”
The entry on Bush also cites claims that he was “favorably treated due to his father’s political standing” during his National Guard service.” It says Bush served on the board of directors for Harken and that questions of possible insider trading involving Harken arose even though a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation concluded the information Bush had at the time of his stock sale was not sufficient to constitute insider trading.
Reading a Wikipedia entry is like reading the bible closely. There are faint traces of the voices of various anonymous authors and editors, though it is impossible to be sure…
..the problem is in the way the Wikipedia has come to be regarded and used; how it’s been elevated to such importance so quickly. And that is part of the larger pattern of the appeal of a new online collectivism that is nothing less than a resurgence of the idea that the collective is all-wise, that it is desirable to have influence concentrated in a bottleneck that can channel the collective with the most verity and force. This is different from representative democracy, or meritocracy. This idea has had dreadful consequences when thrust upon us from the extreme Right or the extreme Left in various historical periods. The fact that it’s now being re-introduced today by prominent technologists and futurists, people who in many cases I know and like, doesn’t make it any less dangerous…
For instance, most of the technical or scientific information that is in the Wikipedia was already on the Web before the Wikipedia was started. You could always use Google or other search services to find information about items that are now wikified. In some cases I have noticed specific texts get cloned from original sites at universities or labs onto wiki pages. And when that happens, each text loses part of its value. Since search engines are now more likely to point you to the wikified versions, the Web has lost some of its flavor in casual use.
When you see the context in which something was written and you know who the author was beyond just a name, you learn so much more than when you find the same text placed in the anonymous, faux-authoritative, anti-contextual brew of the Wikipedia. The question isn’t just one of authentication and accountability, though those are important, but something more subtle. A voice should be sensed as a whole. You have to have a chance to sense personality in order for language to have its full meaning. Personal Web pages do that, as do journals and books. Even Britannica has an editorial voice…
..The artificial elevation of all things Meta is not confined to online culture. It is having a profound influence on how decisions are made in America.
What we are witnessing today is the alarming rise of the fallacy of the infallible collective. Numerous elite organizations have been swept off their feet by the idea. They are inspired by the rise of the Wikipedia, by the wealth of Google, and by the rush of entrepreneurs to be the most Meta. Government agencies, top corporate planning departments, and major universities have all gotten the bug.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has been shot dead, according to Wikipedia, the online, up-to-the-minute encyclopedia. World mourns.
(The report was corrected.)