Posted by: Ophelia | October 23, 2008

If it’s on the internet it must be true

Wikipedia and Feminism at Feminist Law Professors

As of this past September, Wikipedia has been cited by U.S. courts almost 300 times,  according to Lee Peoples’ new article, The Citation of Wikipedia in American Judicial Opinions. It’s frightening to think that judges are according wikipedia so much authority, given how little oversight most entries get. Many entries on feminism have been written or edited by people who are actively hostile toward feminists, but they prevail because they seem to have a lot of free time and the few feminists who enter the wikifray seem to get driven out or edited intro oblivion.  To take just one example, the entry about Melissa Farley has been heavily edited by a pornographer who sometimes uses the pseudonym Iamcuriousblue. He also shows up numerous times in the edits to the Catharine MacKinnon entry and virtually every place feminism is mentioned. That any judge, or anyone generally, would think these accounts of feminism are unbiased or authoritative is truly scary.  See generally. (”If an admin has a political or personal agenda, he can do a fair amount of damage with the special editing tools available to him. The victim may not even find out that this is happening until it’s too late. From Wikipedia, the material is spread like a virus by search engines and other scrapers, and the damage is amplified by orders of magnitude. There is no recourse for the victim, and no one can be held accountable. Once it’s all over the web, no one has the power to put it back into the bottle.”)  Here’s another example.

–Ann Bartow

Considering grade school teachers tell their students that the use of Wikipedia for research is inappropriate, this is just frightening. Would you trust Wikipedia to inform your opinion of…well anything in all seriousness?

Seems like there ought to be a feminist Wikipedia project to correct the articles that get routinely vandalized.


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