Wikipedia and manipulations
The wiki also has a dark side with networks, multiple accounts and various organized manipulations.
The development of a free collaborative system has not good sides only.
The main flaw was announced by an expert (references below):
« Although experts on a subject may edit a page, they ultimately have no more control over the content of that page than anyone else. »
A specialist is placed on the same level as an ignorant or even mentally retarded one.
And the President of the Encyclopedia Britannica, Jorge Cauz:
« If I were to be the CEO of Google or the founders of Google I would be very [displeased] that the best search engine in the world continues to provide as a first link, Wikipedia, » he said. »Is this the best they can do? Is this the best that [their] algorithm can do? »
It was criticized to Wikipedia:
- Heterogeneity. Built overnight by different people, the items have often not well-defined plan, and can be built anyhow.
- Vandalism, pranksters are adding nonsense, deleting paragraphs, pages. The wiki is under constant maintenance by the contributors. Many software helps to detect vandalism. A RC (Recent Changes) patrol examines recent contributions at any time. It is possible to prohibit publishing to a contributor or an IP address.
- Spam. The ability to place links to complete articles encourages webmasters to put a link on their website, without benefit to the article, just to make themselves known. A charter defines the validity of external links.
- Grip on the articles by contributors networks.
- Some pages become catalogs of commercial products as contributors representing companies outnumber others and impose their opinion.
- The notion of completion is absent. The major problem is here: when a page is bad, it is edited until it will be good and when it's good edits continue until it becomes bad again. If an article, under the leadership of a specialist is very good, it will then fiddled with a plethora of contributors wishing everyone going his way, which will make the page unusable.
- Credibility. Some cases in recent news report using the encyclopedia to "bad-mouth" a competitor, a politician ...
- Many publishers open multiply accounts (called sockpuppet) and use techniques to hide their IP address, such as the Tor network.
Some enter into lively discussions with themselves under different nicknames and eventually to agree with themselves: subtle way to impose a point of view ;)
- Wikipedia by itself has its own criticism, but partial.
Manipulations and hoaxes
I am interested in letting many people know that Wikipedia is a flawed and irresponsible research tool.
So says John Seigenthaler after a Wikipedia article presented him as the instigator of the murder of J.F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby. It was actually a hoax, but stayed for 5 months in Wkipedia and was quoted by trusty sites!
Patterns of manipulation
If they bad things are written about a company, a person, rightly or wrongly, the applicant will have good reasons to see the text disappear.
A producer will show interest in giving a favorable view of its product.
External links can bring traffic through the over-representation of the wiki in search enginesresults.
Wikipedia is a great place to denigrate competitors who outweigh you in a market. And those who want to erase the wrong information may be viewed as vandals, especially if we identify their IP as that of the target company! This will tend to even confirm the impression that these data are true!
The links do not count for the search engines, but they can still benefit from the reputation of the wiki and be included in forums, blogs, etc.
Contributions to the wiki are a good way to give recognition. By having a common activity on the wiki, we get a strong profile and easily reaches the administrator status.
How are operated the manipulation?
Contributions may be made without registration. The IP address is recorded, but if it is dynamically assigned by the operator at each session, it is a guarantee of anonymity.
A proxy IP address may be used to and thus contribute in strict anymymat.
But the most invested wiki hackers use a user completely transparent account. They lots of editions every day gives them autority, it is unlikely that another publisher revert their contributions even when complaints are raised.