I had one decidedly negative experience with Wikipedia very early on. I’m trying to remember the chain of events, but to tell the truth my memory has faded a bit. So this may not be 100% reliable (like Wiki )
One day at work I was reading an article which was related to coal, and found some facts about coal which were clearly incorrect. IIRC there are at least a dozen major errors, and a handful of things which needed more clarification or were misleading by omission. So I spent about an hour and fixed everything, and added citations to academic papers or textbooks to support each change.
The next day I went out to look at the article again - out of vanity, because I was proud I had helped out - and every single one of my changes had been removed. I thought that it just somehow hadn’t “taken”, so I laboriously re-typed everything back in. This time I was smart enough to save the webpage after I was done.
That night, almost all my changes were gone. So I looked into it and discovered that someone had been responsible for both edits. So I tried talking on the discussion page, asking why my additions had been removed. The first few responses were very rude and unhelpful - people posted that my additions had been removed because they weren’t cited (which was a lie, and clearly visible in the logs), that the article was “established” and thus shouldn’t be changed by any random dumbass like me, etc. I argued with them and dug up multiple cites to support why my changes were correct - and really folks, the things I was changing were so clearly wrong, it was ludicrous.
And so I changed it back and the same used removed my changes. So I opened a dialogue with the user who kept undoing my edits. Allow me to summarize a week of psychodrama with the person:
- They were a 2nd-year engineering student in Germany.
- They had not even taken a class on power plants, but one day in class their professor “told them some things” about how “power plants really work.”
- They refused to give the name of their professor.
- They refused to admit that they had even possibly misunderstood the professor.
- All the things I found which were wrong with what they had posted were in fact wrong, despite me being able to have 10 cites for their hearsay cite they had.
- Even extremely blatant logical mistakes they made were still “right.”
- They refused to even read my cites, claiming that I probably had “faked” them (I faked peer-reviewed technical papers and got them published in the ASME and at EP/Power-Gen? Really? Really?)
- The Wiki people on the discussion page claimed that “a professor’s word is worth an awful lot!” When I pointed out that it was not the professor posting, but a student acting on incorrect hearsay, they fell back on how the student was a frequent contributor whereas I was just some newbie. I pointed out that I had been a professor myself, and was called a liar. I was even accused of being a “vandal.” I noticed when I looked at IP addresses of some of the commentators that they were exactly the same as that of the shit in Germany. :rolleyes:
- When it came down to it, the last exchange with this little shit in Germany involved them telling me flat out they had more time and more energy to undo my edits, and so I was going to lose.
So yeah, why bother editing it?
Still, many years later on - I think it was last year, in fact - I was reading an article and found they had badly misspelled the name of a famous female fencer. The spelling of her name is not in dispute, and the Olympic Committee website had her name spelled right. So I changed it.
Guess what? A week later, the misspelling was back. So I changed it and added the cite to the Olympic website. The next day, the misspelling was back. And this wasn’t a case where it was a foreign name or a name of questionable spelling, it was along the lines of “Ellen” spelled “EllnE.” Yet my changing of the text was seen as a “challenge” or “insult” to some vandal, and so it stayed misspelled for months. I checked this morning and it’s spelled right now.
Wikipedia needs some sort of vetting process for its editors. I’m sorry, but my opinion and citations on some issues are worth a fucking lot more than some random person who comes by after Googling around, and until there’s some sort of rating for editors, Wiki is always going to be treated with suspicion by me. The vandals and termites have to be reduced, if they can’t be eliminated.