The pitfalls of Popularity

wikipedia-logo.jpgWikipedia is one of the most successful websites on the internet at the moment. According to Alexa it is the 9th most popular website on the internet. The idea of an Encyclopedia anyone can contribute to is something that was never seen before Wikipedia came along.

While Wikipedia has the ability to have more information on more topics and the articles kept up to date whenever something happens due to millions of editors and the ability to update within seconds, there are some problems with the service. One of the more significant problems is incorrect or dubious information posted. Without proper citations or sources an article can have glaring omissions which can make the whole service unusable for people who need an encyclopedia with 100% correct information on a certain topic.

One of the other major problems is vandals who deliberately insert incorrect, dubious or offensive material into articles. Wikipedia does have functions to help crack down on this but not enough is being done according to some people. They can block IP addresses or users, they can lock pages from being edited but one thing Wikipedia objects to doing is blocking Anonymous IP addresses from editing articles. A large percentage of articles vandalised on Wikipedia are done by edits from IP addresses. If Wikipedia simply blocked anonymous edits it would mean less work for editors who would much rather be contributing than having to constantly revert or report vandals.

The other problem is only Administrators are able to block IP addresses and do certain tasks like locking a page from vandals. While it is necessary to stop everyone being able to have full abilities to do certain tasks, requesting certain actions like getting a certain page locked or reporting a vandal is still a difficult, time consuming and thankless task. IP addresses can easily be changed at the end of the day so even blocking one does not mean that vandal will stop.

Something that has just been revealed in the last week or so is IP addresses used by large corporations have been found tampering with articles, usually in the interest of the company. Removing controversy sections or attempting to discredit criticsm to the company or even adding criticism to other companies. An example is a Fox News IP address which was caught attempting to exaggerate criticism in the article of broadcaster Keith Olbermann’s article. He happens to be a presenter on rival MSNBC who has displayed vocal opposition to Fox News.

Vandalism is prone to happen on anything that is open to the general public, it always comes down to one rotten apple spoils the bunch.

Published by

Mike Beckham

Mike Beckham resides near Melbourne, Australia.