At War on Wikipedia

Schilling is the man who protects Hillary’s online self from the public’s hatred. He estimates that he spends up to 15 hours per week editing Wikipedia under the name “Wasted Time R”–much of it, these days, standing watch over Hillary’s page. Hardly a news event or argument over her situation goes by without Wasted Time R’s input: He edited her page 77 times in the last month, mostly pruning away changes he viewed as inappropriate, such as a rant about Geraldine Ferraro or a stealthy effort to diminish Hillary’s role in improving the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. The fact that Schilling is married to a librarian who, he laments, “never recommends anybody use Wikipedia” (no one, no one, hates Wikipedia as much as librarians) does not diminish his vigilance. “You constantly have to police [the page],” he says, recalling the way Rudy Giuliani’s Wikipedia article declined in quality after its protectors lost interest. “Otherwise, it diverts into a state of nature.”

This is a really interesting article on how the political campaigns are being forced to monitor Wikipedia minute-by-minute. In the final analysis Wikipedians will say the system is working as it should but I say that there is something flawed about a system that fails to accommodate high stakes issues with an effective throttle to ensure that misinformation isn’t leaking out.

Jimmy Wales recently made an interesting comment about how Wikipedia is a double edged sword that “works because everything we do is extensively debated but the other side of that is in order for us to do anything everyone has to agree.”

We’re approaching a point where Wikipedia is as much a utility service as an independent foundation/website. The consequence of that is that the group of insiders that run Wikipedia simply have to accept that they alone don’t always have the right solutions and inaction is the absence of agreement simply isn’t sustainable.

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8 thoughts on At War on Wikipedia

  1. Jean,
    I know Jimmy through my work with Socialtext. I reject your ad hominem attack on him as both inappropriate and not relevant to the discussion I would like to have here.

    When you start using Valleywag posts as your exhibit A you pretty much have devalued whatever positive contribution you could make to this debate.

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