What is Wikipedia? It’s a free online encyclopedia of and about anything one can think of, created by anyone, edited modified and controlled by everyone. Simply put, it’s a huge dashboard where anybody can contribute to any article – or create one himself. Futurist Jaron Lanier called Wikipedia an example of “Digital Maoism” – the closest humanity has ever come to a functioning mob rule.
Why should we care? Because,
- Wikipedia’s articles are among the top results of internet searches.
- Wikipedia’s standards of inclusion affect the work of journalists.
- Studies have found that Wikipedia’s articles are remarkably accurate, despite several accusations by academic experts based upon the very fact that they are written, edited and controlled by volumes of volunteers.
- Wikipedia community has seen explosive growth.
- If the stuff in Wikipedia didn’t seem true enough, you wouldn’t keep going back to the website.
- It’s more that 7 millions registered user has evolved a set of policies and procedures to eradicate untruths.
With all those people and their different perspectives, is truth getting hampered somewhere?
What are those policies and procedures?
- Objective truth has no value. (There is no place for objective truth here. No place for anything obvious. Something is true only if it is verifiable, vetted by verifiable publications, newspapers, magazines or journals or anywhere reachable by a mouse click.) Threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth. It also defines the order of reliability of cited sources:
a. Peer reviewed journals and books published in university press
b. University level text-books
c. Books published by respected publishing houses
d. Mainstream newspapers (excluding opinion pages)
- No original work, and
- Neutral point of view.