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Wikipedia's Tyranny of the Unemployed

Wikipedia unemployed.jpg

PLoS One has a highly technical study out of editing patterns on Wikipedia. This is of special interest to us because Wikipedia's articles on anything to do with intelligent design are replete with errors and lies, which the online encyclopedia's volunteer editors are vigilant about maintaining against all efforts to set the record straight.

You simply can never outlast these folks. They have nothing better to do with their time and will always erase your attempted correction and reinstate the bogus claim, with lightning speed over and over again.

MSNBC's Technoblog summarizes the main findings of the article, including:

  • Whether an article gets a dozen or a thousand edits in a month, they tend to be "bursty" -- that is, many edits tend to cluster together as editors add, revise, correct and, if necessary, remove new information.

  • Edit wars are frequently conducted between a few extremely vociferous individuals. While dozens of editors may contribute to an article over any given period of time, it is often a much smaller number of highly opinionated editors who contribute the bulk of the edits, often redoing or removing each other's work.

  • In theory, many articles initially considered to be controversial would level out in terms of edit rate, and over time crystallize -- but only if no new events spark further interest.
MSNBC's conclusion:
While the details are constantly under heated debate, the result is often a compromise that cleaves very closely to fact.
Translation? This is all a roundabout way of saying that, on Wikipedia, "fact" is established by the party with the free time that's required to wear down everyone else and exhaust them into submission. The search for truth yields to a tyranny of the unemployed.

Photo credit: arneheijenga/Flickr.