Many concepts seem great in theory. Then people get involved, and the so-called “great idea” rapidly goes to hell.
Communism is a perfect example.
So is Wikipedia.
I applaud the premise behind Wikipedia: an expanding roster of experts supplying information about the topics they know best. What could go wrong?
Plenty, as it turns out.
|Drummer Jerry Granelli, bassist Fred Marshall and Guaraldi, as captured on camera|
for Ralph Gleason's documentary, Anatomy of a Hit. Guaraldi's trio was filmed during
its long run at The Trident, in the summer of 1963.
Wikipedia’s all-access submission model grants equal credence to anybody wishing to add, enhance or outright change an entry ... regardless of said individual’s actual credentials, and, most particularly, regardless of whether said individual might have an impish streak, or an axe to grind. Thus, some fantasy fan vexed over the omission of unicorns from a thorough discussion of equine history can simply add a reference to the horned critters, and hey, presto! An article of fact has been corrupted forever.
Okay, yes; I give Wikipedia’s “monitors” credit for modest efforts to weed out egregious examples of that nature. Unfortunately, most errors and fabrications aren’t that obvious, and therefore don’t get caught; Wikipedia simply doesn’t have the staff (or the inclination, in my humble opinion) to fact-check everything ... unlike, say, the folks behind centuries of The Encyclopedia Britannica, who do fact-check everything. Or even the editors at your local newspaper, who try their best to do the same. Information presented as authoritative deserves — nay, needs — to be vetted. Thoroughly.
Wikipedia authors, upon publication, don’t get vetted by anybody. Worse yet, mounting anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that the Wikipedia culture can be biased against efforts to correct untruths. Attempts to do so often anger those who posted the ludicrous blather in the first place, and they simply change it back. Make the attempt often enough, and you — the individual attempting to strike a blow for indisputable fact — risk getting branded a “troublemaker,” and subsequently blackballed.
Rather than a resource offering reliable information from that theoretical roster of experts, Wikipedia actually is an Internet outlet for those who shout the loudest and fight the hardest for “their” version of reality. Hardly the same.
And in the Internet age, bad information is much, much worse than no information at all ... because bad information spreads just as rapidly. Indeed, Wikipedia’s bad information spreads even faster, because this “resource” enjoys an undeserved reputation as an “authority.”
I’d laugh, if it weren’t so tragic.