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Juan Cole Wikipedia Article Hijacked
by juan cole (reposted)
Monday May 22nd, 2006 6:59 AM
I fear I have never had the time to get up to full speed with regard to the Wiki world or the procedures of Wikipedia. But I am told by a kind reader that a small group of ideologues has taken over the Wikipedia article on me in a way that is contrary to Wiki ethics and etiquette. Wikis have the virtue that they can be corrected, but somehow these individuals got it locked up, whatever that means. Then that version had an NPOV put on it, and there is a new "sandbox" but it also has flaws.
I don't have the time or inclination to deal with this issue myself, and I am not asking that the piece be slanted in my favor, whatever that might be. It seems to me an encyclopedia article on a historian should have summaries of his or her books and articles by someone who has actually read them, and contain verifiable biographical facts (would be glad to provide these). Anyway, if some knowledgeable readers of Informed Comment could do what they could to set the matter right by Wikipedia standards, I would be grateful. Again, I'm just asking for the facts, Ma'am.

I'm new to Wiki editing, but am an admitted fan of Prof Cole. The Cole detractors editing this page are using a lawyer's technique of putting up scurrilous charges like anti-semitism that are based on conjecture in order to tarnish Cole in the eyes of the "jury" (ie a casual reader not familiar with the subject). Whether or not others post defences of Cole is immaterial, the charge has been made and it will stick in some minds. Just as judge saying "the jury will disregard that comment" doesn't really erase it from their memories, the presence of accusations that are far from being provable in court will tarnish Cole. We can write "Cole has not denied beating his wife" which is factually true, but clearly doesn't belong here either.

None of that stuff belongs here. Stick to verfied facts, as I'd rather the article was dry and descriptive than what it is now, which is far from the tone and feel of what an encyclopedia would say. It isn't WP's place to relay every exchange between Cole and a critic or repeat every charge by those offended at his positions. If a Judge wouldn't let it stay on the record in a trial, it doesn't belong here.

George W. Bush's wiki entry doesn't include charges of him being an anti-semite, or a racist, or a criminal or the many many things that many very well and widely read critics of him have said. Rightly so, say I - it does mention Alcohol and drugs because he is an admitted alcoholic and has reputable quotes tying him to drug use. Short of Cole being tape recorded admitting to someone he can't stand Jews or making an off-colour joke about them, his scholarly criticisms of Israel are not enough to substantiate the charge even to include it here. It is conjecture on his motivies in critisizing Israel. Sure it isn't a huge leap to assume someone who critisizes a Jewish country as hating Jews themselves, but it is still an assumption. Not a fact.

I'm not trying to say no criticisms should be here, but they need to be substantive ones like "expert X disageed with his translation on this noteworthy subject" or noting he has not lived in Israel or Iraq or whatever country despite his comments on it. Labels like anti-semitism go to motive which is almost impossible to prove, and the anti-semetic label itself is such a loaded charge it really should only be reserved for the most eregregious cases where actual hatred of Jews is clearly established. For all I know, Cole might be an anti-semite, but so might I, or anyone else. From a logical standpoint, critisizing Israel cannot be used as proof of that any more than critisism of Wikipedia should indicate one hates encyclopedias or community populated knowledge bases.

It also is not the responsibility of Cole's fans to go and "balance out" the criticisms with responses from Cole or whatnot to every charge. If his detractors find someone accusing him without factual evidence of being a child pornographer, must we defend Cole from that charge too? If you are adding a section, it should be able to stand on its own, not require someone else to come add "balance" or defence. In fact, that one is only willing to add critiques of Cole but unwilling to invest time finding responses to those critiques is a strong indication of bias and that the editor should recuse himself from the subject.

Scanning the sandbox, it is shaping up exactly like the current main page: a hit piece, not worthy of wiki.--FNV 17:50, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Sad Failure of Wikipedia

With a nod to those who are trying in good faith to sort through this issue, Professor Cole's unfair treatment on the page devoted to him is illustrative of why Wikipedia is no longer considered a credible source of information on virtually any topic. I gave up trying to correct facts on various issues and now just actively warn students that Wikipedia is not an acceptable source for research projects or even casual knowledge.

The 'much less' idea would be a great improvement -- along with the use of CONFIRMED FACTS. Why are a few ideological trolls allowed to abuse Wikipedia?

Why not give people five edits a year, and make them both a) decide what issues are most important to them to use those five on, and b) force them to argue the actual merits of their position?

Finally, 'freezing' the entry is ridiculous. If its factually incorrect (as this one is) TAKE IT DOWN until consensus can be reached through discussion. Freezing it with misinformation in place is a reward to the jerks creating this problem in the first place.
by related post Wednesday May 24th, 2006 7:33 AM
Is war with Iran imminent? It seems some think that if Michael Savage said a word like Islamofascist, that's more important than the lives of men women and children in that country. I sure hope others have the time to work on wikipedia, because if you take a look at your google searches, you'll notice that wikipedia comes up on the first page if there is any description of what you're looking for. Wikipedia is read by all types, not just activists . . .

The 'Islamofascist' page is locked (gee, can't imagine why), so no one can change the contents.

But meanwhile, the meme of 'islamofascism' spreads, and wikipedia has an extremely high google ranking. One person all over wikipedia, Chip Berlet, who purports to be a progressive, is stridently blocking any dissent to his promotion of his own work via Wikipedia.