Well, it seems that at least one community can’t be trusted with access to the Wikipedia.
That would be the U.S. Congress.
Over the weekend, the Washington Post ran a story about the Wikipedia’s decision to ban edits to entries coming from House of Representatives and Senate IP addresses. It seems that the staff members of various members of Congress have found it just too tempting to alter the historical record and so have been deleting unflattering references in their bosses’ entries (whitewashing in Wikipedia-speak) , or have been adding unflattering material to the entries of other people’s bosses (vandalism). One of the most popular edits, according to the Post, is the removal of any reference to Tom DeLay from the profiles of various members.
The Post story was entertaining, largely because it seemed that the writer seemed mystified by the whole Wikipedia phenomenon and seemed surprised to find that people actually care about what is published in the Wikipedia. The deeper issues of the efficacy of open source knowledge creation didn’t really come up in the story, so don’t read it hoping for some new insight. Instead, read it because it gives you a sense for the ways the mainstream media, as represented by the Post (which I still love), lag behind the curve when it comes to the ways that digital media are transforming what passes for history these days.
Oh, and one more thing…do the staff people at the Wikipedia think that Hill staffers only use their computers at work?