Monday, February 19, 2007

Wikipedia Credibility challenged

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.

Only by providing a real identify and qualifications can the credibility of a publication be accessed.

Many folks note that Wikipedia has a huge ultra-liberal bias, with most of the entries being made by people who have lots of free time.

Wikipedia has even spun-off competing Wiki sites and parody sites, mostly attacking the lack of credibility of Wikipedia.

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 cttations. Citing factual references on Wikipedia is problematic because most legitimate references are not online, or not free. Regardless, the credibility for Wikipedia centers around the credentials and reputation of the person publishing on Wikipedia.

Check out

Are Google search engine rankings 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 widely used by criminals. Business competitors unjustly defame their competitors personnel and products, jealous rivals publish 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.

For example, this accused Google bomber was fined $37,000 for libel. Also, 17 states have criminal libel laws for the web defamation, and hacker how-to guides constitute aiding and abetting a criminal.

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 for verification and collect all aspects of credibility, without making value judgments:

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.

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. A failure to supply this information would speak for itself.

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 collected.

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.

Read more about Wikipedia credibility in my article Getting Credibility for Wikipedia . . .