Credibility for Wikipedia
Because you have a right to my opinion
Wikipedia is a great idea, but it suffers from such such horrendous
lack of credibility that it has been banned as a reference citation at
all respectable schools and universities.
In my article on
evaluating the credibility of Oracle information on the web, I noted that
only by providing a real identify and qualifications can the credibility of a
publication be accessed.
The same is true from Wikipedia.
Wikipedia has a huge ultra-liberal bias, with most of the entries being made by
people who have lots of free time. For example, the Wikipedia entry for
Hillary Rodham Clinton a few months ago described her with profanity as "The First B***h of the
World." Kid's have no business on Wikipedia.
This article notes that librarians are working hard to discredit Wikipedia
and encourage "real" authoritative references for research:
"We feel strongly about our responsibility
to educate our students on the good, credible and scholarly material on the
Internet and discourage their pulling out the first thing they find which
may or may not be accurate. . .
For less than $25 you can transfer the
entire Encyclopedia Britannica to your desktop or laptop for immediate
access. Call me old fashioned, but that's my idea of authority."
Wikipedia is so bad that it has even spun-off competing sites
and parody sites.
So long as an
illiterate drug addict can override the work of a Harvard professor, Wikipedia
will never be an authoritative reference. We also have the issue of citing references
on Wikipedia, most of which are not online. Again, credibility for
Wikipedia centers around the credentials and reputation of the person publishing
But what is credibility? Is credibility fostered by
published research, books published, academic degrees, or expertise in the
Google search engine faults to blame?
Google has always had the credo "Do No Evil",
but it appears that a part of the problem is the high-weight that Google assigns
to uncredible Wikipedia entries. This shortcoming may herald the downfall of
Google, as a more intelligent competitor finds a way to improve the "relevance"
of search requests. Remember, Wikipedia is used by criminals as well. Business
competitors routinely bash their competitors personnel and products, jealous
false biographies, and Wikipedia facilitates many other criminal acts. The
DMCA Section 230 only immunizes the ISP, and it's not hard to get a subpoena to
reveal the true identity of bad guys on Wikipedia.
The DMCA is at the heart of the "I'm only a venue" argument, but it's only a
matter of time before those ISP's that facilitate criminal activity are held
accountable for their acts. Let's take a look at solutions to web
credibility for Wikipedia.
Web 3.0 and Wikipedia credibility
Obviously, user contribution sits like Wikipedia can be amazing, but only if
the contributors qualifications are openly published. In the brick and
mortar world, becoming an expert is often determined in the courts, where a
subject-matter expert is
"certified" as an
expert by a judge for the purpose of expert witness testimony.
Wikipedia credibility it would be necessary to create an independent
verification body to "certify" the credentials of all Wikipedia authors.
It's impossible to place weights upon these credentials, and we could imaging
the fighting of Wikipedia were to attempt to "weight" the credence value of a
Yale vs. a Harvard degree. Hence, the credential would stand on their own,
and Wikipedia members would be free to judge the relative value of each
contributor based on their credentials.
Accountability would improve Wikipedia
Sooner of later, all netizens will be non-anonymous. Anonymity is not a
"right" of a privilege, that's just how things turned-out with the evolution of
the web. Today, cooperation from ISP's can trace-back an IP address to the
person who signed-on and even track the specific computer from which a
publication was made.
Imaging an internet where you could not sign-on without
verifiable identify. Spam would instantly stop, hackers could be easily
arrested, and everyone would be accountable for their own words. For those
who want to enjoy the pleasures on anonymous free speech, special domains could
be created for them with a special TLD to let people know that they are
Certifying credentials on the web
It would not be difficult for an independent body to verify credentials, and
this would make the entire internet more credible, as people can evaluate each
publisher on their own background. An independent body could accept
college transcripts and other verification, so that you knew exactly how much
credibility to place an any Wikipedia contribution.
This would be entirely
voluntary, and it should include voluntary measures of "Moral turpitude" such as
criminal records and credit history checks. Such an independent body might
charge a fee of $100, and collect all aspects of credibility, without making
any value judgments on the credentials:
- Academic qualifications - College
transcripts can be easily verified
- Published research - It's easy to
verify authorship of academic research from accepted journals.
- Books published - Verifying
authorship of books is easy to confirm.
- Criminal background checks - It is
very easy for a volunteer to show that they are not convicted felons and
have no history of deceitful acts.
- Credit checks - The moral turpitude
of a publisher is also an issue that goes to credibility, as anyone who
would stiff a creditor may not have sound moral values.
- Expert experience - Records of
testimony as an expert witness and other verifiable experience can be
We must remember that anonymity as just a side-effect of the nascent web
technology and they only way that Internet archives like Wikipedia will gain
acceptance is when contributors reveal their identify and qualifications.