Tuesday, July 29, 2008

John Edwards Love Child Scandal: Debate at Wikipedia Rages

"Rielle Hunter"
"John Edwards Scandal"

If searching for information on the John Edwards scandal,
Scratch Wikipedia from the list of places to look.

A free-for-all has been raging at Wikipedia over whether to include information of the latest John Edwards Love Child news in the on-line reference source. The battle is between those who want a mention of the scandal on the "John Edwards" entry and those, who for various reasons, don't. It involves such topics as "National Enqurier reliability", "left wing bias" and whether to include information that "Hundreds of media outlets have reported on".

The back-and-forth can be seen at Talk: John Edwards and is, in some places, a fascinating look at the human prejudicial baggage--on both sides--that each editor brings to the debate.

I don't want to spill the beans on which way the debate is going, but, as of the time of this post, Wikipedia's "John Edwards" entry has no mention of the scandal which has been bubbling on the Internet for the past 10 months.

Newsbusters, [Wikipedia Disallows Any Mention of Alleged John Edwards Scandal ] and others, have written about Wikipedia joining the mainstream press in their information blackout of the John Edwards scandal.

Wikipedia, which allowed verb tenses for their Tim Russert entry to be changed from present to past tense about a half hour before the official announcement of his death, is suddenly going ultra legal in its refusal to allow their John Edwards entry to be updated with mention of the alleged scandal which was reported in the National Enquirer with many of the details confirmed by Fox News. Suddenly Wikipedia has become a stickler for confirmation detail before the Edwards entry can be updated. To get an idea of how much Wikipedia is twisting itself into a pretzel to justify their refusal to update their John Edwards entry, one needs only to look at their pained, but comedically entertaining, discussions of this matter in their “Tabloid scandal accusations” section:

At the top of the John Edwards page is this notice:

This page is currently protected from editing until July 30, 2008 or until disputes have been resolved.

"This protection is not an endorsement of the current version. See the protection policy and protection log for more details. Please discuss any changes on the talk page; you may use the {{editprotected}} template to ask an administrator to make the edit if it is supported by consensus. You may also request that this page be unprotected."

We had made an earlier assumption that when Mainstream Media organizations were forced--by events beyond their control--to report on the John Edwards affair, that Wikipedia would be dragged along.

Kicking and screaming all the way, no doubt.

But, that hasn't happened.

To keep any information of the scandal from their users, the Stonewall-side of the Wiki debate depend on a circuitous defense of both hairs-splitting and angel-counting.

The Enquirer is not a reliable source. It's corroborated.

Well, not enough. Now the Times is reporting on it.

We're not a newspaper. We have to be sure. We have a lot of time on this.

There's no pictures. Well, we're going to wait.

As was noted, all fascinating stuff, if the reader is into behind-the-scenes looks at how policy is formed.

When the pictures emerge--both on-line and in the print editions of the Enquirer later this week--people searching for information on the affair will learn that Wikipedia, the reference source that made conventional encyclopedias outdated from the moment they were printed, is out-of-date itself. Wiki will then sadly join the MSM, where a small group who long to be gatekeepers of information for the rest of mankind, reside.

Wikipedia is at the top of the Internet reference mountain today. But, that position is not a given. A host of competing wikis have sprouted on the Internet recently. If Wikipedia thinks that they will always be Number One, regardless of policies which deny users information--controversial or not--they will learn a hard lesson.

They can ask about the lesson time they're at K-Mart, drink a Carling's Black Label beer or read the New York Times. All organizations which were, at one time, Number One in their respective fields.

by Mondoreb
image: dbkp file

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