Let’s Change History

Wikipedia is fastly becoming the top location for someone to learn something new or research on the internet. According to the “Define Gender Gap?” article, Noam Cohen reports that 53 percent of adult internet users use Wikipedia as a research source. This is back from 2010 so that number has most likely grown since then. The thing is though, is that Wikipedia is a peer based encyclopedia that can be edited and changed by anyone with an internet connection. Contributors usually provide knowledgeable information that is accurate but sometimes there is a jokester that decides to abuse their editing powers and add misinformation. For example, someone decided to edit the page for a children’s book with false albeit funny facts.

…and, of course, children's literature. With all the unrestricted access to articles that people can edit, they can change history to say whatever they want. In the clip from the Colbert Report about Wikipedia he changed articles to show how easy it was to edit an article to a belief rather than a fact. His modified the article about George Washington , so that it said he never owned slaves and he made a statement that the elephant population is rapidly increasing. Both of these changes actually happened on the site. According to an article written after the show people kept changing elephant related articles  so much that Wikipedia actually locked the articles. We all were tasked with making our own changes to a Wikipedia page and it just didn’t seem right that it was so easy to do. Especially how we’re all used to having to make accounts and register on other websites to do anything. Do you trust everything you read on Wikipedia? Have you ever contributed anything major to Wikipedia? Was there anytime you came across misinformation on Wikipedia?

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3 comments

  1. burchtm · October 6, 2015

    I found the information about both the Spot the Dog article and the aftermath of the Colbert Report video. I definitely think that it is amazing how easily people can edit Wikipedia. I don’t know that I totally got a grasp of how you felt about this fact. Did you feel that it is a good or a bad thing? I think that it is a good thing as long as we have people who are committed to fixing these issues promptly. We have seen Wikipedia grow into what it is today and I think that a lot of that is the fact that things are so easy to edit.

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  2. falkja · October 6, 2015

    You are correct about how easy it is to edit Wikipedia and the material on it. Overall, I do like the idea of allowing the public monitor and have a say in how information is displayed on the internet. It leaves the possibility to see more than just one point of view.

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  3. Eric Richardson · October 6, 2015

    I was really surprised about how easy it is to edit Wikipedia also. I am really surprised at how accurate they say Wikipedia is given this. However, I think that Wikipedia would not contain half of the information it does if it was harder to edit the pages. But again it scares me that anyone can edit. There is a social experiment where people have to choose the longest line out of a group. However, an undercover researcher is also in the group of people and he goes first choosing the shortest line. Because of this everyone else choose the short line because they wanted to go with the group consensus and not be view as being wrong. This too could apply to Wikipedia.

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