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Wiki editors to prove online persona March 10, 2007

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in News.
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Contributors to Wikipedia who claim certain credentials will soon need to prove they have them. The user-edited online encyclopaedia is set to ask contributors to back up specific claims regarding qualifications.

This applies especially when claims relate to articles being written, edited or altered. It could be tricky for those editing anonymously. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced the policy change after it emerged this month that one of Wikipedia’s most respected editors “Essjay” was not qualified as claimed.

According to his credentials online, Essjay was a “tenured professor of theology” who taught undergraduate and graduate courses in the subject, held a BA in religious studies, MA in religion, PhD in theology and doctorate in canon law – all untrue. Essjay was 24-year-old American Ryan Jordan.

Essjay’s final post said he has given up work on Wikipedia. But whether Jordan is still working there is anyone’s guess because contributors are anonymous.

“To discover that someone had been deceiving the community for a long time really was a bit of a blow to our trust. Wikipedia is built on the idea of trusting other people and people being honest, and we find that, in the most part, everyone is, so it was a real disappointment” Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder

As a result of this problem, Wiki will discourage contributors from prominently featuring credentials. Critics of Wikipedia have questioned its user-generated content, not because of errors, but because Wiki doesn’t know the identity or motivation of its contributors.

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Comments»

1. Internet Esquire - March 10, 2007

As I stated in a recent blog post – http://blog.xodp.org/2007/03/jimbo-wales-feeds-wikipedians-and.html – Jimbo has fed Wikipedia and the press a red herring. Superficially, the Essjay case was about falsified credentials; at its core, it was about an elaborate deception that Essjay rationalized as being necessary because he held positions of trust at Wikipedia. Verifying the credentials of rank and file Wikipedia contributors will not address the core issue of such deception still being perpetrated by other Wikipedia administrators.

2. khengze - March 12, 2007

Thank you for commenting on my post David. As I said, which source can we trust on the Web today. New Yorker? Wikipedia? Readers beware.


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