Donnerstag, Oktober 03, 2013

Manipulative Machenschaften: Warum die Wikipedia keine seriöse Quelle ist

Wie man den Autor Rupert Sheldrake beurteilt, hängt stark davon ab, wie man sich zu den Fragen positioniert, über die er schreibt: Manche halten ihn für einen klugen und mutigen Kritiker der traditionellen Naturwissenschaften, andere für einen dubiosen Grenzwissenschaftler, wieder andere schlicht für einen Scharlatan. Diese Debatte kann natürlich nicht en passant auf Genderama geführt werden. Interessant ist im Zusammenhang dieses Blogs allerdings, wie sich diese Kontroverse auch in der Wikipedia niederschlug, nachdem Sheldrake im vergangenen Jahr mehr positive Aufmerksamkeit erhielt, als seinen Gegnern Recht war. Craig Weiler hat diese Vorgänge beobachtet und kommt in seiner Analyse auch auf einige Grundprobleme der Wikipedia zu sprechen, die dem einen oder anderen Genderama-Leser bekannt vorkommen mögen:

On June 14th, [Sheldrake] had a relatively stable and neutral biography, which is documented from June 14th. Compare this to the pretty current September 28th version. The changes are quite drastic and unfavorable to Sheldrake.

Wikipedia matters because of the sheer numbers of visitors it draws. (...) Rupert Sheldrake’s biography Wikipedia page has about 180,000 views a year. His Wikipedia profile in fact, is second only to his own site if you google his name. Sheldrake’s Wikipedia problem is a bit unusual because he appears to be the subject of a coordinated attack by an ideologue organization. (...) Most of the people who have problems with Wikipedia are trying to get some bit of information corrected on a subject of their expertise. Hilarity often ensues.

A Nobel Prize winning physicist and a senior editor of a science magazine tried to get an article about Energy Catalyst fixed, and failed. Professor Timothy Messer-Kruse tried to get an article about the Haymarket riots, his area of expertise, corrected, using the Library of Congress as a source and failed as well. Economist David Henderson was not trusted to know his own birthday.

These types of problems occur because anybody can edit Wikipedia. In order for all of these people to edit this encyclopedia, Wikipedia has a rule that only secondary sources are allowed because primary sources need to be interpreted. It’s more complicated than that, but what happens is that this opens the door for all sorts of gaming of Wikipedia by less than objective editors. Especially in regards to controversial topics and people, there are often a number of conflicting opinions to choose from and it requires a bit of subject knowledge to sort them out. If you’re an ideologue however, you merely choose the opinions that you agree with and ignore everything else while dismissing contrary sources as being biased. That’s what’s happening on Rupert Sheldrake’s Wikipedia page.

This is not an isolated problem. The great weakness of Wikipedia is its excessive number of ideologues and their desire for control. In 2003, Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory was subjected to near total control by a single editor who created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles, obtained Website Administrator status and removed 500 articles and banned over 2,000 Wikipedia editors. This continued until September of 2009 when his privileges were finally revoked. In one case a user named Qworty attempted to purge Wikipedia of all references to the occult and modern paganism by making as many as 13,000 edits.

Wie Weiler berichtet, wurde" Qworty" von der Organisation Wikipediocracy als der Autor Robert Clark Young geoutet. Bei Wikipediocracy handelt es sich um eine Gruppe, die die manipulative Bearbeitung von Wikipedia-Einträgen beobachtet. Eines ihrer Mitglieder berichtet in dem Artikel Revenge, ego and the corruption of Wikipedia für das linksliberale Magazin

"The reason I am doing this," said Andreas Kolbe, one of the Wikipedocracy members who shared his research with me, "is that I want the public to know just what goes on under the surface of Wikipedia and how the site plays dice with people’s reputations by allowing anonymous editing of biographies of living persons. As someone who joined the project with a fair amount of enthusiasm for its mission more than seven years ago, I have found the realities of how Wikipedia is written irresponsible and deeply disturbing, and given the site’s status as a top-10 website, I believe the public needs to understand just what is going on in Wikipedia day after day."

Hierzulande hingegen sind es bekanntlich vor allem Vertreter der Männerbewegung, die in der Wikipedia durch den Schmutz gezogen werden, während der umstrittene Wikipedianer Andreas Kemper von seinem Netzwerk einen Wikipedia-Eintrag erstellt bekommen, der offenkundig den Eindruck erwecken soll, dass es sich bei Kemper um einen relevanten und seriösen Wissenschaftler handelt. Immer wieder auf derartige Mauscheleien hinzuweisen, bleibt insofern weiterhin wichtig. Craig Weiler ist zuzustimmen, wenn er schreibt:

These ideologues are reactionaries. They typically don’t promote their own viewpoint so much as attack viewpoints that they disagree with.

(...) Wikipedia has faced several lawsuits because of slanderous articles over the years and this has in turn made the neutral point of view for biographies of living people a high priority. But getting there is still an uphill battle.

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