Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Dangers of Wikipedia

It seems that I am seeing references to Wikipedia everywhere these days. The idea of tapping the expertise of millions of volunteer experts around the world to create an immense online encyclopedia is intriquing indeed. No doubt there are tons of useful information which we might otherwise not have available to us were it not for this information-age repository of knowledge. But... how do we know if the informaiton is correct? What if the volunteer was in error. What if they were just showing off?

The dirty secret is that it does happen. See a Boston Globe article "The Wiki Effect" which describes how one prominent free speech advocate found he had been listed as a suspect in the assasinations of both John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. As it turns out, the man who posted this assertion which was freely available to all for months eventually admitted it was all a hoax designed to dismay a co-worker.

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