Why Do I Not Trust Wikipedia, And You Should Not Either

by Tushar Gupta - Nov 1, 2022 11:43 AM +05:30 IST
Why Do I Not Trust Wikipedia, And You Should Not Either Wikipedia has outlived its utility as a reference point for beginners.
Snapshot
  • Wikipedia, in the garb of being an online reference point, now operates as a cabal for the Left ecosystem, globally.

Recipient of national and international awards, and a victim of strategic defamation suits meant to silence the voice of the free and the brave. 

The above sentence summarises the opening paragraph on the Wikipedia page of The Wire.

Further, the news portal is described as a platform for independent journalism, and its existence is attributed to the political environment created by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s government in power that suppresses dissenting voices and opinions.

An entire section of the page is then dedicated to the reception the news portal has received in the past.

However, no mention of the Tek Fog story or the Meta episode is quite conspicuous. 

In this year alone, The Wire, along with some editorial chest-thumping, claimed that the BJP could influence trends on Twitter, deploy inactive WhatsApp accounts to harass people critical of the party, and had Amit Malviya, BJP's National Head for the Information and Technology Cell, taking down posts on Meta, a platform with billions of users headquartered in the United States, that were critical of the party.

And in the last week alone, The Wire has retracted/withheld all those stories. 

Yet, no mention of the editorial chest-thumping, the retraction, or the apology on the Wikipedia page. 

The absurdity on the Wikipedia page of The Wire does not stop there. Citing a report from 2017, the news portal’s coverage areas include science as well, and in the reception section, an award from 2021 for being an unflinching defender of independent and high-quality journalism is mentioned.

In the litigation section, The Wire’s fight against fictitious freedom violations during Covid months is cited.

And in the last week alone, The Wire has retracted stories citing a lack of technical understanding and due diligence in its editorial processes.

Yet, the Wikipedia page has no mention of Devesh Kumar, the public rebuttal by Meta, and the fabricated emails and screenshots The Wire used in the last month to propagate a lie. 

Wokepedia

Given the instant edits Wikipedia is famous for, little chance that no one wanted to add the editorial glories of the past month on The Wire’s Wikipedia page.

However, a proposal made in October 2022 to merge the Tek Fog App article has been left open for discussion amongst Wikipedia editors.

Within the discussion, some editors claim that The Wire was a victim of forgery and that the faulty reporting of one editor does not dilute the reliability of the publication. An unapologetic clean chit reeking of political bias from Wikipedia. 

For the likes of Swarajya, however, Wikipedia has no clean chits but vandalism. The Wikipedia page for Swarajya has no mention of the coverage but cites The Wire to make a claim that the editors here are engaged in trolling online.

Even Alt News, which was recently seeking donations, rather foolishly, under the pretext of being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize is cited to damage the reputation of Swarajya. While the likes of The Wire are hailed for being voices of dissent, Swarajya, on Wikipedia, is labelled as a hub of fake news.

Swarajya was blocked from Wikipedia in 2020, and while elaborate editing discussions are allowed by the latter around the fake stories The Wire has retraced publicly, no such courtesy is reserved for some other platforms.

Beyond Swarajya, similar thuggery has been witnessed on the page of author Vikram Sampath and even Sanjeev Sanyal, a member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, and even OpIndia, another news portal that has been reporting on the fallacies of the Left. 

Authoritarian Not Authoritative

Wikipedia, for a while now, has transformed from an inquisitive readers’ portal to a Colombian cartel-like digital property that has rules that are suited to a few.

Thus, plagiarism allegations appeared on Sampath’s page before he took the culprits, including Audrey Truschke, to court. Forced opinions appear on Sanyal’s page, discrediting his work based on the opinion of some other columnist. If everything else fails, there’s always the option to delete one’s Wikipedia page, as with BJP spokesperson Tuhin Sinha. 

Wiki vandalism is not restricted to news outlets alone. Vivek Agnihotri’s The Kashmir Files is a fictional story centred around the Kashmiri Hindus genocide. The first two lines of the movie’s Wikipedia page dismiss the story as unreal and the Kashmiri Hindus genocide as a term considered inaccurate by scholars.

Further, there is an entire section dedicated to the movie's historical accuracy where Agnihotri is accused of advocating Islamophobia and is compared to Nazi propagandists. The film is even blamed for inciting communal passions during Ram Navami's processions. 

However, Shikara, another movie that was supposedly based on the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits and criticised for diluting the impact of the exodus, is without a section on historical accuracy. Clean chit. 

Where's The Recycle Bin?

Beyond the politics in India, Wikipedia has outlived its utility as a reference point for beginners. The frequent editing wars and the cartels of a few editors dedicated to vandalising pages of organisations and influencers advocating certain ideologies have rendered the platform obsolete.

In 2017, for instance, the Wikipedia page for Garfield (a fictional character based on a cat) was locked because of a 60-hour editing war. The editorial contention was the gender of the cat. 

Wikipedia cannot be trusted, and before these were the words of the author, they were that of the co-founder of the platform.

In July 2021, Larry Sanger described the platform as a propaganda tool for the left-leaning establishment and stated it could no longer be trusted. He further added that conservative voices are sternly warned if not kicked out for proposing alternate views.

Fox News, for instance, Sanger added could not be used to cite socio-political issues. Sanger stressed the problem of enforcement of certain views on Wikipedia. 

Sanger was not without his reasons. In the West, several conservative outlets like The Federalist, The Daily Wire, and The Daily Caller are labelled as unreliable sources, quite like Fox News. However, publications like Vox, Slate, The Nation, and several socialist publications are allowed a free run quite like Alt News.

Occupy Democrats, one of the biggest political pages on Facebook, is described as one publishing false information on its Wikipedia page. Further, the page’s posts are accused of ushering greater anger and incivility. 

If Wikipedia was trusted as a reliable source to study communism, one would have to believe that there have been no deaths and genocides under communist regimes.

If Wikipedia was trusted as a reliable source to study Narendra Modi, one would have to believe that the Prime Minister of India, elected in a nation of 1.3 billion people, is driven by Hindu Nationalist beliefs and practices exclusionary agenda.

If Wikipedia was trusted as a reliable source to understand Swarajya, one would have to believe that we never criticise the BJP. 

One last fun fact about Wikipedia; the Swarajya page is locked, and described as the mouthpiece of the BJP while the image features a cover that has criticism for the Prime Minister in bold letters. Perhaps, in their editorial bias, they are blind to their editing buffoonery. 

Wikipedia, in the garb of being an online reference point, now operates as a cabal for the Left ecosystem, globally.

From helping users with literature to reach a decision or opinion, Wikipedia, under Jimmy Wales, is now doing the opposite, pretending to run a digital monopoly while allowing a free run for editorial arsonists. 

This is why I do not trust Wikipedia, and you must not either.

Tushar is a senior-sub-editor at Swarajya. He tweets at @Tushar15_
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