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Wikiality or The New Ministry of Information

Wikiality or The New Ministry of Information

Fans of the Colbert Report who appreciate the host’s satirical view of the Free online Encyclopedia’s relativism–he famously managed to influence an entry on African elephants:

“Colbert suggested that viewers change the elephant page to state that the number of African elephants has tripled in the last six months. The suggestion resulted in numerous incorrect changes to Wikipedia articles related to elephants and Africa.[1] Wikipedia administrators subsequently restricted edits to the pages by anonymous and newly created users..”

Turns out that Colbert may be on to something. Following the axioms that history is told by the victors, and that if it is in X, then it must be true, government spin masters and corporate damage control- types are taking their fight to the pages of Wikipedia, spinning away contrary positions and smoothing out any references critical to corporate (or government) doctrine. Oh and also dropping in the occasional jab at the opposition.

PR John Borland’s Wired magazine story “See Who’s Editing Wikipedia” is an illuminating look at the lengths certain folks will go to shape things to their liking.


CalTech grad student Virgil Griffith

NPR story cited the following example:

Someone at a Wal-Mart IP address changed the original listing:

“As with many US retailers, Wal-Mart experiences a high rate of employee turnover (approximately 50% of employees leave every year, according to the company). Wages at Wal-Mart are about 20% less than at other retail stores. Founder [[Sam Walton]] once argued that his company should be exempt from the [[minimum wage]].(Palast, 121).”

to

“As with many US retailers, Wal-Mart experiences a high rate of employee turnover (approximately 50% of employees leave every year, according to the company). The average wage at Wal-Mart is almost double the federal minimum wage (Wal-Mart). However, founder [[Sam Walton]] once argued that his company should be exempt from the [[minimum wage]]. (Palast, 121).”

By exposing these finger prints, it should be hoped that this new application will put a halt to this type of nonsense:

“Griffith says he launched the project hoping to find scandals, particularly at obvious targets such as companies like Halliburton. But there’s a more practical goal, too: By exposing the anonymous edits that companies such as drugs and big pharmaceutical companies make in entries that affect their businesses, it could help experts check up on the changes and make sure they’re accurate, he says.”

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