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Criticisms of Wikipedia - A Compendium

with 57 comments

(This post was submitted to the forum by The Review’s resident Troubleshooter, Gomi, on January 1, 2008)

Gomi: For the New Year, I decided to attempt to compile a list of Wikipedia Review’s criticisms of Wikipedia. I have tried to approach this broadly — I don’t agree with all of these myself, but this is my view of the complaints that come up over and over again. One thing that is clear, after looking at Wikipedia for several years, is that these problems are not getting better, they are getting worse.

Wikipedia Content

1. Wikipedia contains incorrect, misleading, and biased information. Whether through vandalism, subtle disinformation, or the prolonged battling over biased accounts, many of Wikipedia’s articles are unsuitable for scholarly use. Because of poor standards of sourcing and citation, it is often difficult to determine the origin of statements made in Wikipedia in order to determine their correctness. Pursuit of biased points of view by powerful administrators is considered a particular problem, as opposing voices are often permanantly banned from Wikipedia. Wikipedia’s culture of disrespect for expertise and scholarship (see below) make it difficult to trust anything there.

2. Wikipedia’s articles are used to spread gossip, abet character assassination, and invade the privacy of the general public. So-called “Biographies of Living Persons” are often the result of attempts by powerful but anonymous editors and administrators at humiliating or belittling those real-world people with whom they disagree. Wikipedia’s “anyone can edit” culture has allowed baseless defamation of various individuals to spread widely through the Internet. When the family, friends, associates, or subjects of these biographies attempt to correct errors or insert balance, they are often banned from Wikipedia for “Conflicts of Interest”. Subjects of these hatchet jobs usually must resort to legal action to get the articles removed or corrected, a course not available to all.

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Written by The Review

January 4th, 2008 at 2:42 pm

Don Murphy - another Living Person who doesn’t want a Wikipedia biography

with 22 comments

On 31st August 2007, Wikipedia Review discussion forums welcomed a new member, ColScott, who began by writing a post about his own personal experiences on Wikipedia, titled “ColScott says Hola“. As at the time of my writing this blog post, the thread was on its 14th page, with 262 replies and 4,395 views, and whilst it did go slightly off topic a few times, it is generally speaking pretty much on track.

As we discovered, ColScott is Don Murphy, who is a film producer with his own studio house called Angry Films, with a modest entry in the Internet Movie Database, and his own Wikipedia article. This issue is a similar one to Daniel Brandt’s, that inspired Wikipedia Watch, and is also similar to many other Biographies of Living Persons issues. But what does it all mean? Read the rest of this entry »


Written by blissyu2

September 7th, 2007 at 2:22 am

Ikkyu2’s essay

with 9 comments

In 2005, Wikipedia user Ikkyu2 wrote what was to become a well distributed and resonant criticism of Wikipedia. Though the essay was eventually deleted at the writer’s request, a copy was saved and it was hosted on another user’s wikipedia page. Very recently, this copied version was also deleted for unknown reasons.

For posterity’s sake we’ve dug up a cached version of the piece to add to our growing collection of essays. And to ensure that it doesn’t disappear down the plug hole for ever.


What’s wrong with Wikipedia

What’s wrong with Wikipedia is neatly summarized in Wikipedia:Policy, which is a very old and very entrenched official policy.

The offending text follows:

Respect other contributors. —Wikipedia contributors come from many different countries and cultures, and have widely different views. Treating others with respect is key to collaborating effectively in building an encyclopedia.

Then there is a list of links, which essentially are a user’s manual concerning how to implement respect for other people in a civil and effective manner. These are fine. I have no beef with them. I also have no beef with the factual accuracy of the second or third sentences of that quote. To my mind they are correct as stated.

Here is the problem: Respect other contributors, while a good guideline, is too broad. Let me explain why… Read the rest of this entry »


Written by The Review

September 1st, 2007 at 1:32 pm

Wikipedia’s Fundamental Flaw

with 12 comments

Truth and fact are at the core of an encyclopedia, be it “user-edited” or otherwise. Wikipedia is hollow at the core, because it subordinates truth to consensus and a passive compliance that it calls “civility.” This flaw has crippled its credibility, and will continue to do so as time marches on.

A thicket of Wikipedia “pillars,” “policies,” and guidelines give lip service to the truth, but the reality is different: Wikipedia’s users routinely remove verified facts from articles, and their actions are routinely upheld by administrators. As a result, no Wikipedia article can be considered reliable by its reader.

This is increasingly apparent in colleges, which have begun to forbid students from citing Wikipedia in their research. The general public is catching on as well, as a consequence of a series of revelations including a senior Wikipedia administrator’s fabrication of academic credentials (with the knowledge of Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales) and the revision of encyclopedia entries by corporations and government entities… Read the rest of this entry »


Written by Pwok

August 28th, 2007 at 12:05 am

The true history of Wikipedia

with 10 comments

How can you trust the truth of Wikipedia’s articles if you can’t even trust the truth about their own history?

If you are like most people, you aren’t quite sure about how Wikipedia started. So you start off by checking out Wikipedia’s own entry on History of Wikipedia. You would assume that it would be correct, because they should know their own history. Then we get the question of trust. Do we trust that Wikipedia is accurate about itself? They have a policy on Neutral Point of View, so in theory we should be able to trust them. But at the same time, would we trust anyone when talking about themselves? A little research will uncover that Larry Sanger considers himself to be co-founder with Jimbo Wales, while Jimbo Wales considers himself to be the sole founder. Wikitruth, who seems to know a lot about such things, highlights how important that issue is. So you might be led to believe that that is the only issue, and that, thankfully, it is now listed in some form at least, in the article about the history of Wikipedia.

The problem is that there is more to it than that.

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Written by blissyu2

August 27th, 2007 at 8:13 pm

Michael Moore on Wikipedia

with 3 comments

Michael Moore, creator of the documentary “Sicko” that criticises the US health system, has now targetted Ted Frank, who is a lawyer who has defended Merck in cases involving Vioxx, who were adversely affected by the movie and is hyper-critical of Michael Moore. Wikipedia’s response has been to label Michael Moore’s web site as an attack site, to delete all references to it, and to go out of their way to protect and support Ted Frank (Wikipedia user THF), including suggestions that he was “outed”, even though he originally called himself TedFrank on Wikipedia, only recently changed it to THF, and is a public figure with a Wikipedia article written about him.

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Written by blissyu2

August 24th, 2007 at 11:01 pm

Posted in Articles, Critics, Editors

Atomizing truth

with 7 comments

This post was submitted by The Review’s resident Newshound, Kato.


The latest discussions on Wikipedia Review regarding Holocaust denial and Wikipedia - have served the purpose of triggering some reflections on my part on the nature of history, and the threat that Wikipedia’s model provides to our understanding of the past.

Some time ago I spent a period analyzing holocaust denial as an example of how history and truth is impacted by the distance of time. Since the end of the war, holocaust survivors and others have consciously stressed the importance of personal, lucid testimonies to counter what they rightly predicted would be a gradual debasing of truth. The level of diligence to this noble premise is quite unique. Spielberg’s Shoah foundation is just one of many examples.

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Written by The Review

August 7th, 2007 at 10:12 pm

Posted in Articles, Jimbo Wales

Wikipedia Review in the news

with 19 comments

Yesterday Wikipedia Review’s RSS feeds picked up on an interesting news article titled Wikipedia and the Intelligence Services: Is the Net’s popular encyclopedia marred by disinformation? written by Ludwig De Braeckeleer for OhMy News International. This article was picked up by no less than 3 of our RSS feeds [1] [2] [3] and seemed to be relevant. This was a news story that seemed to be of a similar stature to the Seigenthaler Sr. vandalism controversy, the Essjay lying about his credentials controversy, the creation of Wikitruth (administrators disastisfied with Wikipedia), and of course the Wikipedia administrator suspected by school campus police of being a murderer (later changed in to “police harassment”). All of these cases had Wikipedia articles created about them, and all of these cases had first been uncovered on Wikipedia Review. Yet on none of these occasions would Wikipedia admit that Wikipedia Review uncovered them. In this case, however, the main set of information was posted on Wikipedia Review, and used as the basis for this case, so surely this time they will admit it?

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Written by blissyu2

July 27th, 2007 at 1:02 pm

Gruff the Magic Redirect

with 11 comments

Every once in a while I think of a word, or see it printed somewhere, and I wonder, “what does Wikipedia have on this word?” And “just how messed up is their entry on it?” Today’s word was “Gruff,” and sure enough, there was once a page on it, but it’s now a redirect to an article about characters in the Nintendo game “Animal Crossing.” Prior to its becoming a redirect, the Gruff article read sort of like this:

Gruff the goat is an anthropomorphic goat in Animal Crossing. He is quite grumpy and always talks in a deep grumbling voice. His catch phrase is “Bleh eh eh!” which is a possible reference to a goat. Gruff prefers to be arrogant and prefers to be left alone and sometimes distances himself from the other animals of the group. He will participate in the events in town… Read the rest of this entry »


Written by Somey

July 26th, 2007 at 6:03 am

Posted in Articles, Editors, Software

Inaccuracy: Are Journalists Missing the Big Picture?

with 4 comments

Casual readers of The Wikipedia Review, in combing through its thousands of topics, are often surprised to find relatively little material about what many reporters, bloggers, and other commentators usually perceive to be Wikipedia’s biggest problem: namely, the many inaccuracies, and occasionally outright falsehoods, that are sometimes found in various Wikipedia articles.

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Written by Somey

July 16th, 2007 at 8:14 am

Posted in Articles, Critics, Editors