The Climategate controversery continues as the Wall Street Journal reports that Wikipedia has admitted British blogger William Connolley has been using his authority as an “administrator” to re-write the site’s global warming articles. Last week, Wikipedia stripped Mr. Connolley from admin status and he’s been banned from the topic completely. The global warming folks already suffered an embarrassing episode last year when it was discovered how much their scientists had demonized and censored other viewpoints in scientific journals and online. Whatever you believe about the controversy, this is a clear example of how “crowdsourcing” has it’s limitations. 310 million unique visitors were fed the Connolly perspective, as he literally re-wrote other people’s
articles and deleted entries with opposing viewpoints. There’s little doubt that millions of students, researchers, and other readers were consistently fed the wrong information on the subject of climate change.
The concept of Wikipedia as a global encyclopedia that millions contribute to, is a noble concept. I have friends who contribute, and I can tell you there are plenty of internal safeguards to help assure the entries are as accurate as possible.
But foolproof? I think this story indicates that you should double check crowd-contributed sources before you use it to back up your viewpoint on anything.