June 13, 2011

Wikipedia-Bombing Rick Santorum "(neologism)"

The [Rick] "Santorum_(neologism)" Wikipedia article (n.b. - not safe for work!) is currently a battleground of, well, I'll let a very high-status Wikipedia editor describe the situation:

Statement by Coren

We have, I think, a novel problem.

Wikipedia is being willfully used as a weapon for political activism against a specific person: there is a concerted effort to manipulate and misuse our policies into giving exposition to a political campaign against an American politician. ...

To give the essentials, there's been a successful Google-bombing campaign to associate "Rick Santorum" with some disgusting material, which then has effectively created a secondary "Wikipedia-bombing" campaign via documenting the first campaign. Thus, a search gets at first the Google-bomb site, and then a Wikipedia-bomb via an article talking about the attacks.

This is a classic situation every media outlet faces of how to cover political stunts, and the difficulties of possibly contributing to problematic actions by giving attention to the sensational. Wikipedia, by virtue of the Google power it has, can drive issues to high-ranking Google placement. And scarily, this power is in the hands of too many people who have difficulty even with the very concept of the problem.

As put in one Wikipedia mail-listing message

What the article *does* is smear a human being. The fact that our rules don't consider it to be a POV violation as long as as the article doesn't state a position is a loophole in the rules.

You can't neutrally discuss how a person is compared to shit. Not in any real-world sense.

I should disclaim that I find Rick Santorum's political positions to be reprehensible, and I sympathize with the feelings behind the actions against him. But, in reply to the obvious more-activist-than-thou point of how one can be concerned over these Google and Wikipedia reactions, rather what prompts them from Santorum's stances, there's something very worrying going on here. Today it's Rick Santorum ... tomorrow, who knows? And I suspect that right-wingers are going to eventually be able to play that game far better than left-wingers.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in wikipedia | on June 13, 2011 08:32 PM | (Infothought permalink)