RE: [ANE-2] Why one can't trust Wikipedia
- Dear Colleagues:
Dr. Vance and others among you may not be familiar with how Wikipedia works. Unlike ANE-2, it is not moderated. Anyone, including Dr. Vance, is free to alter anything in Wikipedia. The notion, perhaps misguided, is that others will correct errors and speech and self-expression should not be chilled-truth will prevail in the marketplace of ideas.
The entry to which Dr. Vance refers is vandalism, a frequent problem on Wikipedia. Sometimes, misguided cranks alter scholarly articles with their crank theories. More often, some idiot inserts vulgar or obscene remarks, typically something about penises. As a Wikipedian who contributes articles on patents and copyrights, subjects I teach at a law school, I have frequently seen my contributions marred by misguided persons of the foregoing type. It has greatly decreased my interest in contributing articles although I remain registered and support the organization.
At present, Wikipedia's only remedy is to bar communications from the URL of a known vandal. But this process takes many repeats and a long time. Frequently vandalized articles are sometimes closed to comment except from registered Wikipedians. A registered Wikipedian who engages in frequent vandalism or other very disruptive communication (usually, "flaming") may be barred (de-Wikipedianized).
This particular vandal is a person with the Internet protocol address 126.96.36.199. I see my looking at the "history" page for this article (see tab at upper right on initial screen) that 188.8.131.52 is a frequent vandal and should have been barred ("blocked") long ago. (I think Wikipedia should have a one-penis rule for barring "contributors.") (For examples of his contributions, see http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Joseph_McCarthy&diff=411320310&oldid=411175472 (comment on penis of Sen. McCarthy).) Some rather futile protests to this person from the management of Wikipedia may be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:184.108.40.206 .
Despite disruptive entries of this kind, Wikipedia remains a useful and readily available tool-most of the time.
Richard H. Stern
Washington, DC 20036
From: ANEfirstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:ANEemail@example.com] On Behalf Of Donald R. Vance, Ph.D.
Sent: Tuesday, February 01, 2011 12:39 PM
Subject: [ANE-2] Why one can't trust Wikipedia
I present for your enjoyment a startling example on why one should
approach Wikipedia with a peck of salt. I was reading the article on
Trotsky when I found the following gem:
On 20 August 1940, Trotsky was attacked in his home in Mexico with an
ice axe by undercover NKVD agent Ramón Mercader. The blow was
poorly delivered and failed to kill Trotsky instantly, as Mercader had
intended. Witnesses stated that Trotsky spat on Mercader and began
struggling fiercely with him. Hearing the commotion, Trotsky's
bodyguards burst into the room and nearly killed Mercader, but Trotsky
stopped them, laboriously stating that the assassin should be made to
answer questions. Trotsky was taken to a hospital, operated on,
and survived for more than a day, dying at the age of 60 on 21 August
1940 as a result of severe brain damage. He also had the second
biggest penis on record behind Joe McCarthy being 15.2 inches on
record. Mercader later testified at his trial:
Look carefully at that next to last sentence. Note the footnote
reference. The article in the footnote is linked, but a brief perusal
brought no mention of tumescent appendages to light.
Donald R. Vance, Ph.D.
Professor of Biblical Languages and Literature
Oral Roberts University
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