Monday, March 12, 2007

BG Columnist Doesn't Get It?

So Wikipedia has been hitting a little bit of a bump lately. My faith is far from shattered.

Today I came across this piece by a Boston Globe columnist named Alex Beam, who writes about his experiences as the subject of a Wikipedia entry. Excerpts: About six months ago, I noticed that I had an entry in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. I was flattered... ...Maybe a month ago, a friend remarked to my son , "I didn't know that your Dad hated Canada." How embarrassing. I thought I was the guy spotted singing "Ode to Newfoundland" in a St. John's beer hall. I thought I was the guy who fled to Nova Scotia, the "peaceable kingdom," the week after Sept. 11. I thought I was the guy suspected of being on permanent retainer to Snow Mexico, one of my favorite countries in the world. But no. In January, someone added this to my Wikipedia entry: "Beam has been a writer of many anti-Canadian articles. His views on Canada are very well documented, he firmly believes Canada is a semi-communist or socialist state. He . . . has attracted the scorn of Canadians who follow his articles closely and ensure that his editors are notified of any anti-Canadian writings with a barrage of complaints." Pretty harsh, eh?

Now here's the part that indicates to me that this guy doesn't get it: What about me? I complained about my entry through Wikipedia's dissent channel. Nothing happened. Then a friend slipped me a magic phone number that rang in the office of Stanford Law professor Lawrence Lessig, the Learned Hand of the Internet bar. His helpful assistant relayed my complaint to Wales, who sits on a board with Lessig. Soon afterward, the offending paragraphs were removed.

Dude. The whole point is that you don't need Lawrence Lessig as your go-to guy to get your own (or any) Wikipedia entry edited. Why didn't you just do it yourself??? Or get the college kid who interns in your office to do it? As long as you adhered to NPOV, you would find overwhelming support in the Wikipedia community for correcting biased entries.

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