Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Yes Virginia, there is a Wikipedia

Recently, a great deal of doubt has been cast upon the credibility of the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. An anonymously written biography entry that linked former USA Today Editor John Seigenthaler Sr. with the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Turns out that wasn't exactly factual. Turns out it was just a little practical joke on the part of the author, Brian Chase, who has issued an apology for a prank he says went terribly awry.
Wikipedia lets users anonymously create new articles and edit existing entries -- which number more than 1 million in 10 languages. Wikipedia is how I found out about the Flying Spaghetti Monster. If I wanted to find out more about this Santa Claus fellow, I might go back and do a little research. Now all that belief in online sources has been torn asunder. On December 7, New York Times Business Editor Larry Ingrassia sent a memo urging his staff not to use the site to check information. Then on Dec. 12, a group based in Long Beach, N.Y., announced it would pursue a class action against the site to represent those "who believe that they have been defamed or who have been the subject of anonymous and malicious postings to the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia."
Ouch. I guess you shouldn't believe everything you read on the Internet. Which is too bad, since this is just a bit of the entry on S. Claus: "Since most activities associated with Santa Claus are extraordinary, such as delivering presents to all of the believing children in one night, how he squeezes down chimneys, how he enters homes without chimneys, why he never dies, and how he makes reindeer fly, 'magic' is usually used to explain his actions." My whole world view is suddenly cast into doubt. Merry Christmas - sheesh.

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