Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wikipedia Founder Jimbo Wales Met with Hostility for Suggesting Review of Wiki's Current Amanda Knox Coverage

This website, Injustice in Perugia, recently posted an open letter to Wikipedia Founder, Jimbo Wales, with concerns about the accuracy of Wikipedia's current coverage of the Amanda Knox case. The letter was written by Joseph W Bishop, a supporter of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, with in depth knowledge about what has transpired at Wikipedia. We were quite happy to see that  Mr. Wales read the letter and decided it warranted his attention. Here's what he had to say:

"This blog post likely deserves some attention. My interest is simply in making sure that this entry accurately reflects what reliable sources have said and that no reliable sources are omitted based on anyone's agenda in either direction. I'm posting this notice on the BLP noticeboard and the talk page of the article."

You would think that those involved with an article on Wikipedia would be honored that Wikipedia's founder stopped by to take a look. Amazingly, this was not the case. Here are some of the warm welcomes Mr. Wales received:

"An internet petition with all of 60 signatures? Hmm, I am not seeing the compelling need for the founder to get involved here."

"I think you really needed to spend more time researching before wading into this debate."

"Sorry, but exactly which objections require real answers?"

Wikipedia is branded as an online free-content encyclopedia that anyone can edit and contribute to. This is true to an extent. Safeties are put into place by Wikipedia to insure that articles are not vandalized. These safeties can also prevent articles from being properly edited. Voluntary editors are given permissions over time. When working together with other editors, they can essentially take control of an article page blocking those who disagree with their point of view. A group of editors with a clear agenda has taken over the article detailing the Amanda Knox case. They have banded together and blocked anyone that dares to cross them. This group was ready and waiting when Mr. Wales joined the discussion.

Thankfully Mr. Wales had the patience to deal with his unwelcome arrival. Here was his response:

"A petition doesn't matter. Number of signatures doesn't matter. Getting it right is all that matters. I accept input from all kinds of sources, and we should always be willing to take another look."

"I consider it our greatest honorable trait that we are always willing to take another look, always willing to review our work, and always willing to accept criticism. The post raises several quite straightforward objections that deserve to be answered with real answers, not jeers."

When hostility continued throughout the discussion, Mr. Wales had this to say:

"You might find it more pleasing to drop the hostility and actually listen to what I am saying."

"I am concerned that since I raised the issue, even I have been attacked as being something like a "conspiracy theorist". I would like to bring this issue to the attention of the wider community, and I continue to do my own research."

"I am doing my own research, and it doesn't look good. I see editors being blocked for single edits that are absolutely defensible on the thinnest of grounds. That's not acceptable."

"Whenever we see outrage in the face of mere questions, it is good to wonder where the truth lies."

Injustice in Perugia recently highlighted the ongoing hate campaign against Amanda Knox online which is streamlined by a woman named Peggy Ganong. Those involved in that campaign were enraged to see that action was being taken to correct inaccuracies at Wikipedia. As expected, this hatred was alive and well on Peggy Ganong's website, Perugia Murder File (PMF).

One poster mentioned on Peggy Ganong's website that he is planning his own letter to Jimbo Wales. I wonder if his letter will include any of the language currently seen at PMF. Here are a few quotes from a discussion between Peggy Ganong and other posters on her website:

"I don't see the pay-off in the end. Right now, Jimbo is on the verge of losing any sense of respect as a new media entrepreneur (lying about his checkuser results, for example) just for a chance to catch a peek of some tender young sex killer flesh."

"Jimbo is precisely the profile of the aging Lothario looking for access to tail through his powerful media connections. He isn't thinking with his correct head and everything he's proposed is straight out of the FOA manual."

"Somebody should give Jimbo a cold shower. He's really lathered up and ready for brunette sex killer action"

As you can see, PMF has chosen to try to win over Wikipedia's founder with great compliments. All kidding aside, let me try to understand the logic coming from Peggy Ganong and her band of cyberbullies. They have come to the conclusion that Jimbo Wales is looking into the accuracy of the article detailing the murder of Meredith Kercher and the ongoing trial of Amanda Knox and Raffaelle Sollecito because he wants sex. Peggy Ganong should be ashamed to be part of that conversation, but as moderator she fully endorses this kind of dialogue.

Just to be clear, the quotes above come from Peggy Ganong's version of PMF. For those not following the blogs closely, PMF actually had a civil war recently! Amazingly, this has resulted in not one, but two PMFs! The two moderators are currently running identical websites and both refuse to discuss the details of their split. This of course often happens to hate groups over time. There is simply too much rage and they inevitably self destruct. The situation is similar to what Germany would have been like during the Cold War if there were two East Germanies instead of an East and West......

But I digress. This hate group  will do what they can to influence Wikipedia. With their current tone I don't think they will have much luck. Attacking the founder of Wikipedia in an attempt to get his attention doesn't seem to be a wise approach. Unwarranted and creepy accusations of sexual fetishes isn't exactly the best way to win friends. 

 It is important to note that this case is ongoing. Italy allows 2 appeals. Detractors will say that the court ruled, so the page should be slanted to suit the court ruling. According to Italian law, guilt has not yet been determined. From reading the current article you would never know this fact. There is a lot of chatter outside of Wikipedia. I urge everyone involved with the discussion at Wikipedia not to be influenced by advocacy groups on either side of this debate. It is important to look at all of the facts and present them fairly. An advocacy group may have brought this problem to the attention of Mr. Wales but it will be the honest facts that that will influence much needed change. And of course, we thank Mr. Wales for keeping an open mind and offering to have another look.