KATHARINE Q. SEELYE, The New York Times, reports:

It started as a joke and ended up as a shot heard round the Internet, with the joker losing his job and Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, suffering a blow to its credibility.

A man in Nashville has admitted that, in trying to shock a colleague with a joke, he put false information into a Wikipedia entry about John Seigenthaler Sr., a former editor of The Tennessean in Nashville.

Brian Chase, 38, who until Friday was an operations manager at a small delivery company, told Mr. Seigenthaler on Friday that he had written the material suggesting that Mr. Seigenthaler had been involved in the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy. Wikipedia, a nonprofit venture that is the world’s biggest encyclopedia, is written and edited by thousands of volunteers.

Mr. Seigenthaler discovered the false entry only recently and wrote about it in an op-ed article in USA Today, saying he was especially annoyed that he could not track down the perpetrator because of Internet privacy laws. His plight touched off a debate about the reliability of information on Wikipedia - and by extension the entire Internet - and the difficulty in holding Web sites and their users accountable, even when someone is defamed.

Aaron Krowne, Free Software Magazine, writes:

In this article, I respond to Robert McHenry’s anti-Wikipedia piece entitled “The Faith-Based Encyclopedia.” I argue that McHenry’s points are contradictory and incoherent and that his rhetoric is selective, dishonest and misleading. I also consider McHenry’s points in the context of all Commons-Based Peer Production (CBPP), showing how they are part of a Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) campaign against CBPP. Further, I introduce some principles, which will help to explain why and how CBPP projects can succeed, and I discuss alternative ways they may be organized, which will address certain concerns.

Posted by timothy on Slashdot on Monday February 21, @09:28PM:

Baricom writes “Just a few weeks after a major power outage took out well-known blogging service LiveJournal for several hours, almost all of Wikimedia Foundation’s services are offline due to a tripped circuit breaker at a different colo. Among other services, Wikimedia runs the well-known Wikipedia open encyclopedia. Coincidentally, the foundation is in the middle of a fundraising drive to pay for new servers. They have established an off-site backup of the fundraising page here until power returns.”

Joseph McCabe writes:

The Encyclopedia is, as its name implies, an ancient British institution inspired by the great French Encyclopedia of the 18th century. As the American reading public increased it served both countries, and by 1920 the special needs of American readers and the great development of science and technics made it necessary to prepare an entirely recast edition. It now had an American as well as a British staff and publishing house. and it was dedicated to King George and President Hoover. The last trace of the idealism of its earlier publishers disappeared. What bargains were secretly made to secure a large circulation we do not know but when the work was completed in 1928 the Westminster Catholic Federation which corresponds to the Catholic Welfare organization in America, made this boast in its annual report:

“The revision of the Encyclopedia Britannica was undertaken with a view to eliminate matter which was objectionable from a Catholic point of view and to insert what was accurate and unbiased. The whole of the 28 volumes were examined, objectionable parts noted, and the reasons for their deletion or amendment given. There is every reason to hope that the new edition of the Britannica will he found very much more accurate and impartial than its predecessors.”


Wade Roush, Technology Review (January 2005), writes:

To build a public encyclopedia, you don’t need faith in the possibility of knowledge, [Wikipedia cocreator Larry Sanger] says. “What you have to have faith in is human beings being able to work together.”


Robert McHenry writes at Tech Central Station:

Away back about 1993, ‘94 — in retrospect, the last of the halcyon days when a relatively small and rather homogeneous group of people around the globe could reasonably consider themselves as constituting the Internet community and could take a strongly proprietary view of its future development — back then, I am recalling, a cluster of enthusiasts coalesced in an online discussion group devoted to the creation of an encyclopedia on the Internet, an Interpedia, as they called it. As one of the proponents described it,

“the Interpedia will be a reference source for people who have connectivity to the internet. It will encompass, at the least, articles submitted by individuals, and articles gleaned from non-copyrighted material. It will have mechanisms for submission, browsing, and authentication of articles. It is, currently, a completely volunteer project with no source of funding except for the contributions of the volunteers and their respective institutions. It also has no governing structure except for a group of people who have volunteered to do specific tasks or who have made major contributions to the discussion…. Everyone is encouraged to make a contribution, small or large.”