vandalism snapshots plagiarism by Wikipedia editors
Seigenthaler's wikiScandal can you sue Wikipedia?
Fuzzy, Essjay, Miss Piggy SlimVirgin / Linda Mack
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This site examines the phenomenon of Wikipedia. We are interested in them because they have a massive, unearned influence on what passes for reliable information. Search engines rank their pages near the top. While Wikipedia itself does not run ads, they are the most-scraped site on the web. Scrapers need content any content will do in order to carry ads from Google and other advertisers. This entire effect is turning Wikipedia into a generator of spam. It is primarily Google's fault, since Wikipedia might find it difficult to address the issue of scraping even if they wanted to. Google doesn't care; their ad money comes right off the top.
For example, it did not take long, using the Google and Yahoo engines, to find 52 different domains that scraped Wikipedia's page on rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd. Interestingly, Google listed more than four times the number of duplicate scrapes than Yahoo. This could be related to the fact that 83 percent of these scraped pages carry ads almost always ads from Google. Some of these scrapes are template-generated across different domains, suggesting that they are created by programs. At that point zombie PCs might be dispatched to click on the ads.
Jimmy Wales, the man behind Wikipedia, probably approves of this practice. After he made a fortune in futures trading, he started up Bomis.com in the mid-1990s. Bomis was one of the first sites to scrape the ad-free Open Directory Project, and turn it into a huge mass of paid links and ads, mixed together with porn.
"Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet
is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge.
That's what we're doing." Jimmy Wales, July 2004
Another problem is that most of the administrators at Wikipedia prefer to exercise their police functions anonymously. The process itself is open, but the identities of the administrators are usually cloaked behind a username and a Gmail address. (Gmail does not show an originating IP address in the email headers, which means that you cannot geolocate the originator, or even know whether one administrator is really a different person than another administrator.) If an admin has a political or personal agenda, he can do a fair amount of damage with the special editing tools available to him. The victim may not even find out that this is happening until it's too late. From Wikipedia, the material is spread like a virus by search engines and other scrapers, and the damage is amplified by orders of magnitude. There is no recourse for the victim, and no one can be held accountable. Once it's all over the web, no one has the power to put it back into the bottle.
"I'd be happy to have, in theory, a good,
neutral biography on every single person
on the planet," he says. "I mean, why not,
right?" Jimmy Wales in The Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2008
On the other hand, will Wikipedia survive the depression?