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Defending Wikipedia

Updated on October 26, 2016

Introduction

If you are for freedom and democracy and the free market, then Wikipedia is the best example of that philosophy. Many in Academia and the publishing professionals tends to write off Wikipedia as amateurish or biased or deceptive. However, I want to make the case that even though it is not a perfect source, it is the best free source of information.

- January 2016

What Is Wikipedia?

The following is taken from the about Wikipedia website.

"Wikipedia is written collaboratively by largely anonymous volunteers who write without pay. Anyone with Internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles, except in limited cases where editing is restricted to prevent disruption or vandalism. Users can contribute anonymously, under a pseudonym, or, if they choose to, with their real identity.

The fundamental principles by which Wikipedia operates are the five pillars. The Wikipedia community has developed many policies and guidelines to improve the encyclopedia; however, it is not a formal requirement to be familiar with them before contributing."

My Own Example

I am a big supporter and user of Wikipedia. I've also contributed on one occasion regarding a plaque along the side of Taconic Parkway near the town where I live. I happened across this plaque on a hike and decided to take a photo and did a little research and posted the info on Wikipedia. I am a supporter of local history and preservation and conservation. I thought this plaque had historical significance for our town and the history of the Taconic Parkway.

An Excellent Example of Wikipedia Content

I am also a fan of DWTS show. I've been watching it since its inception. I found Wikipedia's entry on DWTS the best source of information. Not only is the information accurate, it is also updated almost instantaneously and presented in an easy to read format.

Here is an example of the past season 21 results. Notice the layout and the color coding and the table of facts and data. It is well thought out and a lot of work. It blows my mind that some individual has volunteered their time to post these data and update them as the show was in progress. I trust in the accuracy of the results.

Why Is Wikipedia the best?

It is best because the content is well laid out and presented in a concise and logical manner. It is best because it comes usually with lots of references at the end. It is best because it is created by volunteers who believes in what they are doing. Their motivation is a key component.

I do realize that on certain topics, some individuals with an agenda will use Wikipedia to shade the truth and possibly even engaged in deceit. There is some checking and verification and flagging of suspicious or biased content.

All sources have similar defects one way or another. The user should be the ultimate decider on what is good and acceptable content.

The democratic process and free market principles are at play here. The credibility of content and the people who created them are on the line. People in general will act in their own best interest, over long haul, it also benefits the global community.

I'm reminded of the following quote - “The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another.”
― Milton Friedman

This statement applies just as well to Wikipedia.


Relation To Google???

Some people have the idea that there is some conspiracy between Wikipedia and Google search engine. They are questioning why Wikipedia pages always seems to rank very high on google searches. Some here on HubPages have made the charge - "Google deliberately forces Wikipedia articles to the top of search results..." That is totally false. Google search follows a proprietary algorithm that determines the "rank" of a web page due to many factors including the number of visits to the page, the number of links to the page, and keywords that affects the indexing of the page. There is a whole industry of SEO experts that claims to be able to optimize their web pages for high search ranking. Periodically, Google will tweak their algorithm so as to shake up the search results. Being on HubPages for the past year and on Squidoo for six years before that, I've noticed that both have achieved pretty good search rank with Google. It is a mystery but it is not a conspiracy. IMHO, It has more to do with the links and cross links that all these sites are structured.

I have done an experiment a while back, taking an identical content and created a Squidoo lens, and a standalone blog. Guess what, after a few days, the Squidoo page was near the top of search ranking while the blog is no where to be found.


Summary

I wanted to give my two cents worth on Wikipedia. I use it at times when I write a hub on a particular subject matter and the Wikipedia page would provide more details on one item so that I would not have to summarize it. It just make sense in a Web 2.0 environment. Why rewrite something when it's been done already?

I also use it to point to data that have been compiled by others. I trust in the accuracy of the data because I have faith in humanity.

Of course, caveat emptor.

Comments

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    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 19 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Somethgblue, I get what you are driving at. How can you be sure those other countries are not distorting the truth as well? I grew up on Taiwan in the 1950s. I know about government propaganda and brainwashing of the public. From what I see in the US, that is not going on to that extent. There are deceptions in every government. Currently, I believe abuse of our liberties is at a new high. I am worried about what the NSA is doing.

    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 19 months ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      All I'm trying to tell you is that humanity has been taught a false paradigm of history for the last two to three thousand years and when you learn to read between the lies and look at the truth from a 360 degree angle you will invariably recognize this.

      However it requires that you keep an open mind on ALL subjects, I don't feel you do this and because of this the deeper meanings behind events, people and places is lost on you. All you see is what the media and politicians want you and the public to see, so you miss the truth behind this conditioning.

      Wikipedia is designed, censored and manipulated by the US Government, like ALL Mainstream media sources to only reveal the surface story. Read about an event from a Russian website or Al Jeezer or Before Its News or any english website based in a foreign country and you will learn how distorted the Fake Stream Media really is.

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 19 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Somethgblue, I'm afraid we are not on the same page. I thought our discussion and disagreement was on my topic regarding Wikipedia. I must go back and re-read your comments...

    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 19 months ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      I'm not talking about Wikipedia articles, I'm talking about your articles. The article about Bush is incredibly naive to the point of ridiculous.

      You don't seem very interested in exploring the deeper intrigue that goes on behind the scenes and what the public is told and that is OK, some folks fear altering their narrow perception of reality.

      However it limits your ability to understand the truth behind many events that happen today and why they happen. There is an agenda that The Powers That Be embrace that would rock the foundation of your paradigm.

      But you cannot be told the truth, you must learn the truth for yourself or you will never accept it. This is paramount to understanding the true nature of humanity and the disinformation that has been foisted upon our society in the form of mainstream education, science and religion.

      I cannot tell you the truth, the key is to seek it yourself and the answer lies within, in your heart. Oh yes, your heart holds the truth and has intelligence but you have been conditioned to think with your mind, which is easily changed and manipulated into accepted a false paradigm.

      I can guide you but I cannot do the work for you, this is your journey.

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 19 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Somethgblue, That's interesting. I would be interested to know that. Can you point to one Wikipedia article I linked that fit your claim?

    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 19 months ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      Yes, the whole site is tainted because they have their own editors that manipulate and censor the data. I understand you have no problems with it and I'm saying that is naive however many of your articles exemplify that very attitude so it isn't a surprise . . . to me at least.

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 19 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Somethgblue, You can't believe that all of Wikipedia is tainted somehow by our government. My point is many of the Wikipedia entry is not controversial or political in nature. DWTS is just one example. I would have no problem linking to that site and many others. That was the whole point of my hub. I hope you get that.

    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 19 months ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      I disagree with you on that point many Government agencies use Wikipedia as link to their sites to further their agenda, one of the links provided showed that was the case.

      It is the 5th most popular site in the world and routinely derides and ridicules subjects, people and events as conspiracy woo-woo, just as our own Government does.

      It so consistently aligns itself with Governmental reviews as to be indistinguishable from Governmental propaganda and this is exactly my point. Just as the Federal Reserve is thought to be run by our own Government due largely to its name, so to does Wikipedia based solely on content of the articles even though modern science and opinion differ greatly.

      If the government wants to do something Wikipedia WOULD be the prime vehicle to use and why not?

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 19 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Somethgblue, thanks for your input. In that case, you and I are not that far apart. As I said, most items on wikipedia are not controversial and I have no problems with. The ones that are in debate, I will pick and choose which if any to use to make my points. As with most sources, there will be some bias and inaccuracies. I stop short of calling them a government conspiracy. If the government wants to do something, Wikipedia would not be the prime vehicle IMHO.

    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 19 months ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      I generally do not rely on any one source but mostly books. I have an extensive library worth several thousands of dollars and a pretty good memory of where I read something.

      I'm not opposed to using Wikipedia for verifiable facts and general information but most often I use it for a dissenting opinion, since most of my articles are on the subject of controversial information.

      For instance I'm currently writing an article about Wilhelm Reich and Orgone Energy. Wikipedia slams, ridicules and trashes this man's accomplishments and reputation as a scientist, preferring to concentrate on his extra-marital affairs rather than his scientific achievements.

      He was imprisoned in the U.S. for developing a invention that reduced cancerous growth in mice, practicing medicine without a license and violating a Federal injunction. Despite the fact that he gave the United States Government an invention that could be used for weather manipulation (making rain).

      Even while in prison he worked for the Defense Department on advanced mathematical equations for space flight, yet Wikipedia treats him as quack and common criminal.

      On the internet I rarely use Google to find information and certainly not the first 10 to 20 pages, if I do, as that will only be Government fed propaganda.

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 19 months ago from Yorktown NY

      You didn't answer my question. What sources do you rely on?

    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 19 months ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      Must I do your research for you, there are other search engines out there to use. Here is an article that shows just how Wikipedia works.

      http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/russian...

      Here is another, don't just pick the topics that support your theory, good research demands that you look at your theory from as many angles as possible.

      https://wikispooks.com/wiki/9-11/Israel_did_it

      The editing practices of Wikipedia are exposed in this article.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6947532.stm

      This article you should read first as it explains, in the detail even a 'conservative capitalist' can understand, how exactly Wikipedia censors stories using biased information and disinformation.

      http://www.conservapedia.com/Examples_of_Bias_in_W...

      The Fake Stream Media of which Wikipedia is one (fifth largest website in the world), uses disinformation, ridicule and misdirection to confuse the public, evidently its working because believing Wikipedia is a good research tool is grossly naive.

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 19 months ago from Yorktown NY

      BTW, I forgot to ask, what trusted source do you go for online information?

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 19 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Somethgblue, I have no connection with the US government or Wikipedia or Google. My life is pretty much an open book and I publish on HubPages for my own satisfaction. As you can read from my memoir that is in progress, all parts of my life of 60 +years is covered. In fact, I am a conservative who believes in a limited government and freedom and the free market Capitalism. If you have any specific information about conspiracies on this subject, I would be very interested. I am open to new data and information. The reason I trust Wikipedia for the most part is because it is an open forum. As far as I can tell, there is no censorship on the scale you are claiming. Thanks for checking in.

    • somethgblue profile image

      somethgblue 19 months ago from Shelbyville, Tennessee

      Two sentences stand out for me in this article that defy logic and presume to know the unknowable.

      "It is best because it is created by volunteers who believes in what they are doing. Their motivation is a key component."

      First of all, the term . . . 'whom believe', instead of 'who believes' would be more appropriate however how is it you know what motivates the anonymous writers and contributors?

      Are you a psychic, do you possess telepathic abilities?

      The second sentence defies the entire premise of the article by admitting that you do not know the reason and yet knowing it isn't a conspiracy. If you are unaware of how something works, it stands to reason that you can't tell us what it isn't. You may believe something but you can't know.

      'It is a mystery but it is not a conspiracy."

      However it actually isn't a mystery because several years ago Google changed its algorithm to reflect what it considers to be the truth, not based on the most popular idea, links, keywords or number of visits.

      This change in policy is what has lowered the amount of visits Hub Pages gets dramatically. Most writers on this site before the change would get 10X as many visits as they do today.

      By only using articles that fit the criteria Google uses for the truth of any subject, you now get a blatant form of censorship. Any alternative articles sometimes aren't even listed by title, which defies the whole point of a search engine.

      However if you really do your research and follow the money, you will learn that Wikipedia is supported by U. S. Government agencies. Some authors that have written on controversial subjects have complained about being misrepresented in Wikipedia and tried many times unsuccessfully to change the information but are not allowed too.

      This too is blatant censorship, I can list hundreds of instances of misrepresented 'facts' listed on Wikipedia, designed to mislead and misinform the public.

      I beginning to suspect you are a Government paid troll, is this true?