It Monday and Akahele continues to deliver on time. This time Greg is up to bat
. Akahele continues last weeks targeting of a more general audience but Greg's article has all the charm and story telling we have come to expect from him over the last couple of years. He focuses in on the how consumers of information have failed to develop the kind of skills needed to keep up with the flood of online information.
Wikipedia, Greg explains relies on this gap. It brags about it's accuracy relative to other reference works while disclaiming that no article is better than it's sources. But look at all those sources, surely this is trustworth. Wink wink, nod nod.
Greg's tool to debunk this is detailed case studies of persistent and serious errors. He begins with blatantly false claim about Lincoln's attendance at the first Republican convention in Greg's boyhood home town of Jackson, Michigan:
So, Wikipedia had a falsehood stuck in place for 601 days, on an article we estimate to have been viewed over 89,000 times before finally being fixed. The misinformation surrounded the earliest political career of perhaps the most important American individual of all time. But nobody spotted it for over six hundred days.
---Greg Kohs, The Persistence of Misinformation (Akahele)
Greg's skillful use of the case study works it's magic and is most convincing. But any reader must wonder about why
anyone would care to place the misinformation in the first place. This is the part that would take every bit of Greg's skills to make intelligible to a non-Wikipedian audience. Tell about the hundreds of vandal patrolers defending the borders of this magic kingdom, even though better means are readily available to make all of this thankless work unnecessary. Explain how this throws out a challenge to others, often every bit as knowledgeable about the workings of Wikipedia, to engage in ever more clever and sophisticated vandalism. Maybe top it off with a case study of someone caught working both sides of the patrol/vandal fence.
Make them understand that when they turn to Wikipedia for information what they are actually viewing is the score board of an online game.