Wikipedia needs to broaden its definition of “community” if it wants to offer a valid reflection of the diversity and depth of content, ideas and opinions. According to an Associated Press story that appeared on CNN.com today, Microsoft has landed on the wrong side of the community fence as far as Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is concerned.
The powers-that-be within Wikipedia have decided that “public-relations firms, campaign workers and anyone else perceived as having a conflict of interest” are somehow not members of the “community.” I’m a PR person and so I suppose my opinion – in the minds of Wales and his cohorts – doesn’t much matter; but as far as I am concerned, this is censorship pure and simple. To call it anything else is just silly.
Wikipedia asks for no background from contributors – not even an email address – so there is no way to say the person posting or editing an article knows what they are talking about or whether or not they have an agenda of their own. Inaccuracies, pseudo-science, agendas, vendettas, etc. – apparently these are all acceptable parts of the “community” – as long as they are not from one of the prohibited groups.
There is something ironic about the fact that today’s featured article is on the United States Bill of Rights and mentions freedom of speech – a right not extended to certain classes by Wikipedia. Most of us who live in a fairly free and open society like to think that the proper answer to bad speech is more speech – perhaps when Wikipedia decides to truly be free and open we’ll see if that logic holds true.
[tags]Wikipedia, Freedom of speech, Community, censorship[/tags]
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