I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Journalist slams Wickedpedian censorship

Wickedpedian censorship has not only been pissing off little guys like me but has also been pissing off people -- in this case, a journalist for a major publication -- who are in a position to do some major additional damage to Wikipedia's already badly tarnished reputation as a source of information on controversial issues.

A lot of people have the mistaken idea that the big source of Wikipedia's problems is open editing, where virtually anyone can try to edit Wikipedia articles. This open editing sometimes results in vandalism or innocent errors from unknowledgeable editors. However, these effects of open editing can be self-correcting. A much bigger problem is the biased fascist control-freak Wikipedia administrators who exploit the arcane Wickedpedia rules to "lawyer to death" and arbitrarily censor others' views. This censorship is not self-correcting.

Lawrence Solomon, a journalist for Financial Post and National Post, which are major Canadian publications, said the following about the Wickedpedian control freaks' bias against critics of global warming theory:

In contrast to the high-handed treatment that greet global warming skeptics, those who support the orthodoxy are puffed up and protected from criticism, their errors erased and their controversies hushed. This is the case with Naomi Oreskes, a scientist with a PhD who had arrived at an absurd finding: That no studies in a major scientific database questioned the UN view of climate change. . . . .

. . . .In any event, her Wikipedia page is not really about her but her study, which has been thoroughly discredited by credible journalists and scientists. To suppress these critiques, the trollers apply Wikipedia’s bewildering rules as to what can and can’t appear, and when the rules are inadequate, the trollers make up new ones on the fly.

Several weeks ago, as I described in an earlier column, I attempted to correct passages on the Oreskes page that would lead readers to think her study had been vindicated and also to think that U.K. scientist Benny Peiser, one of her critics, had abjectly withdrawn his criticisms. Wikipedia’s rules thwarted me, used to revert my corrections, again and again. Those who came before me in attempting to make corrections, and, I would find out, those who came after, were similarly thwarted.

Wikipedia refused to accept Peiser’s critique, or his interpretation of his own views, or an account of his views that he had provided to me, or an account of his views published in a peer-reviewed journal, or an account of his views published in The Wall Street Journal, or an account of his views published by the U.S. Senate committee on environment and public works. Instead, the Wikipedia trollers insisted that all of the above sources were disqualified or irrelevant under Wikipedia rules, and that the trollers’ own understanding of Peiser’s views trumped all others.

There's just no satisfying the Wickedpedian control freaks -- I know this from personal experience.

Related articles by Larry Solomon are here, here, and here. An Uncommon Descent post about the articles is here.

A commenter remarked,

We can thank Google -- and its ranking of search results -- for Wikipedia’s rise in popularity and the unfortunate fact that it is the “go to” resource for many using the Internet today. The problem is that many believe that Wikipedia is a legitimate source, which clearly it is not.

Good point -- Google's Link Popularity ranking method [1] [2] is also a reason why newer blogs find it difficult to compete with long-established blogs.

In the law profession, Wikipedia was apparently once highly regarded as a reference -- I don't know if it still is. A Feb. 5, 2007 article on a law professor's blog said,

Last week, we blogged stories on whether students or courts should cite, and law professors should write for, Wikipedia. The New York Times reports that "[m]ore than 100 judicial rulings have relied on Wikipedia, beginning in 2004, including 13 from circuit courts of appeal, one step below the Supreme Court. (The Supreme Court thus far has never cited Wikipedia.)"

I asked my crack research assistant, Drew Marksity, to determine how many times law professors have cited Wikipedia in law review articles. Using Westlaw's JLR database, Drew found that 545 articles cite Wikipedia. (An additional 125 articles mention Wikipedia but do not cite it as authority.)

The proper way to handle most Wikipedia editing disputes is to post a brief description of the disputed item along with a note that the item is disputed, a brief statement of the reason(s) for the dispute, and URL links to external websites or Wikipedia discussion pages where the dispute is discussed or debated. That way (1) there is no suggestion of Wikipedia endorsement and (2) Wikipedia articles are not cluttered up with long debates about controversial issues. Wikipedia's ways of handling disputes are long edit wars and censorship by control-freak administrators.

Wikipedia's bad reputation as a source of information on controversial issues has passed the point of no return.

Now supertroll ViU is going to respond with a remark about how I was vandalizing Wickedpedia and was properly censored. It happens every time, as surely as Lucy pulls the football away from Charlie Brown at the last instant every time he tries to kick it.
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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

<< This open editing sometimes results in vandalism or innocent errors from unknowledgeable editors. However, these effects of open editing can be self-correcting. A much bigger problem is the biased fascist control-freak Wikipedia administrators ... >>

Both are problems, but the "bigger" one is the open editing. If the admins have a persistent bias, once you become aware of it you can adapt to it with a correction factor. But for open editing, there is no adaptation. You are taking potluck every time you visit.

<< ... when the rules are inadequate, the trollers (i.e., admins) make up new ones on the fly. >>

This is true. There is even a Wiki policy statement specifically authorizing this adhockery.

<< (An additional 125 articles mention Wikipedia but do not cite it as authority.) >>

I think that is the correct stance to take in referencing Wikipedia.

Incidentally, it would be a big help if you were to adopt some more rational causes to pursue.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008 10:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

<< The proper way to handle most Wikipedia editing disputes is to post a brief description of the disputed item along with a note that the item is disputed, a brief statement of the reason(s) for the dispute, and URL links to external websites or Wikipedia discussion pages where the dispute is discussed or debated. >>

In the abstract, this is a good suggestion. However, you have a way of making even good suggestions untenable.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008 10:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous, P.S. said...

<< The proper way to handle most Wikipedia editing disputes is to post a brief description of the disputed item along with a note that the item is disputed, a brief statement of the reason(s) for the dispute, and URL links to external websites or Wikipedia discussion pages where the dispute is discussed or debated. >>

BTW, Wikipedia does have procedures for doing exactly this. (Sometimes there are benefits to extreme adhockery -- every contingency gets visited sooner or later.) Trouble is, they aren't always used when they apply.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008 11:00:00 AM  

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