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« Hospital Shelled, Not Israel's Fault | Main | AP Labels »

Monday, May 4 2009

Is Wikipedia Biased Against Israel?

Wikipedia-logoHaaretz reports that Israeli internet researchers told a Wikipedia conference that the "open source" encyclopedia is biased against Israel.

Among the issues Eli HaCohen raised at a Tel Aviv Wikipedia conference:

  • Hamas isn't defined as a terrorist organization in the first paragraph describing the organization on the English site.
  • “Hacohen also documented his attempts to define Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as a Holocaust-denier. Each time he included his remarks on Wikipedia, users and editors removed the reference - despite Ahmadinejad's frequent and public Holocaust denials.”
  • “Wikipedia defines David Irving - a known Holocaust denier - as a historian, although his credentials are recognized by no one but himself.”
  • “The Wikipedia entry on January's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza describes it as an ‘intense bombardment’ by Israel on a civilian population.”
  • “Lod is not listed as a city in Israel in Wikipedia's Arabic-language version.”

Wikipedia’s weak response:

Also attending the conference, which discussed Wikipedia's role in academia, was Sue Gardner, the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia. Gardner told Haaretz that she is "quite comfortable" with the mistakes on the Web site. "I know that more or less the same mistakes can be found in the New York Times," she explained.

Since she mentions the NY Times, at least the paper has clearer sense of accountability. You know who wrote the article, you know who the editors are that approved it, and you don't have to worry about daily revisionism. Google searches on almost any topic typically give top ranking to related Wikipedia pages. People trust the site. The way Gardner dismisses Wikipedia's responsibility galls me.

Last year, HonestReporting exposed anti-Israel subversion on Wikipedia, particularly on issues of Jerusalem, the Camp David accords, Israel’s War of Independence, the Hebrews, not to mention Palestinian advocacy masquerading as Wiki projects.

There is a certain value to what's known as the wisdom of the crowd, but on some topics, like Israel, you have to wonder if an entry reflects other dynamics at play. Groupthink, crowd psychology and the bandwagon effect come to mind.

 

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Comments

Yet again, another post or column claiming that Wikipedia is biased. As a long time Wikipedia editor, including editing many articles on Israel and other Jewish topics, I feel compelled to write this:

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS "WIKIPEDIA". WIKIPEDIA'S CONTENT IS THE SUM OF ITS EDITORS' CONTRIBUTIONS. IF YOU FEEL THAT THE TEXT OF A GIVEN ARTICLE IS BIASED, BE BOLD, CLICK ON THE "EDIT THIS PAGE" TAB AND CHANGE IT. IF YOU DO NOT DO IT, WHO WILL?

If you follow the "four pillars" of Wikipedia editing, you will be on much stronger ground when caught in an edit war. Because, inevitably, EVERY edit of an article dealing with Jewish issues will result in a war. Wikipedia editing requires brains and guts. I have many scars from previous fights but I survived and won most fights. You can too.

You mention groupthink. Wrong again. Wikipedia is one place where one smart and dedicated individual can undo the work of a hundred idiots. I did it myself, you can too.

As for the gutless, they can stand aside and give speeches or write blog posts accusing Wikipedia of bias.

I mentioned this post in the discussion page of the Israel Wikipedia article. Let's see what happens next.

Amazing how those in the Israel-can-do-no-harm camp seem to dismiss anyone who disagrees with them as being factually inaccurate, biased, antisemitic, etc.

Clearly, by all accounts of neutral observers, the recent war on Gaza constituted 'intense bombardment' of civilian targets by Israel. How can acknowledging such clear facts constitute bias?

Oh cry me a river. Zionists control every major news outlet in the United States. The fact that Wiki appears "anti-Israel" is more a reflection that the majority of people in the world see the conflict for what it is--a brutal, unjustifiable, colonialist enterprise with all the bells and whistles of the imperial era.

Cable news coverage of the conflict, on the other hand, is ultra-processed propoganda material. How wonderful it is that all the money in the world cannot stop the truth!

Just reading the 3rd point makes me wonder who does the editing on Wiki. The system itself is somewhat nutty as it effectively results in "battle of the corrections".

I also found the claim of neutral observers in Gaza (point2) laughable. The only observers were Palestinian stingers as no news outlet was allowed in.


THE PROBLEM WITH WIKIPEDIABIAS VIS-A-VIS ISRAEL

HOW IT 'WORKS'

1) OUTNUMBERED

There's usually a 2 to 1 (or wider) ratio, when trying to defend the non-Palestinian version.

2) NON-STOP ORGANIZED

The anti-Israel wikipedians act 24 hrs non-stop, well organized and work in team (though one or two are using "sock puppets" when needed), tag-teams, suggesting organizations and financial backing.

This lobby works mainly in: Edit wars, relentless reverting edits they dislike, pushing to delete any article that is not in their line. Lobbying administrators to back them up. Coordinating action against users "not in line."

3) AGGRESSIVE AND RADICAL

The [POV - 'point of view,' pushing] line these anti-Israel users adopted is hard-line Islamist.

4) WHAT IS A RELIABLE SOURCE? AND 'YOU ARE A SOCK - BLOCKED!'

One of the main "leaders" in the anti-Israel Arab-Islamic "mob" has introduced and dictates a line whereby any non-lefty Israel source is branded as unreliable and whoever comes fresh to wikipedia and tries to defend the non-anti-Israel-line "must" be a "sockpuppet" of someone else, and pushes administrators to block him/her based on this pseudo notion and "evidence."

5) TERRORIZING

The terrorizing mentality by some Islamists in real life does not escape Wikipedia, once an editor makes edit/s "not in line" they are after him/her, harassing, keeping reverting his edits, even when unrelated to Israel.

6) WHERE THE BIAS - SCREAMS

Anti-Israel editors are allowed to edit war as much as they wish, the other side is being curtailed under banner of "disruption." [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Administrators%27_noticeboard/Incidents#Chesdovi_blocked ]

"Accusation" of someone as a sockpuppet if it's by anti-Israel Islamists its considered in a serious manner, carefully investigated and blocking occurs even without definite evidence as it's usually considered a "given / fact," when such an accusation -however- is being presented by the other side, it's rejected in speed, as an outright "bad faith," and never investigated.

---

Related:

Israeli-Palestinian conflict rages on Wikipedia
By HAVIV RETTIG GUR
05/16/2010 03:54

Editors fight against anti-Israel ‘mobs.'
http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=175660

---
Maariv in Hebrew
http://www.nrg.co.il/online/16/ART2/107/130.html

(Translate via Google):
New Historians: Wikipedia history distorted
קומץ פעילי ויקיפדיה אנטי ישראלים, שלמדו היטב את השיטה, משכתב את ההיסטוריה באנציקלופדיה הפופולרית. A handful of anti-Israel activists Wikipedia, learned well the system, rewriting the history of the popular encyclopedia. ישראל מפקירה את הזירה ומפסידה בעוד מערכה במלחמת ההסברה Israel is abandoning the arena is losing public relations war in campaign
05-15-2010
http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=he&u=http://www.nrg.co.il/online/16/ART2/107/130.html&ei=fkvATIT6H8uUnAflqsDnCQ&sa=X&oi=translate&ct=result&resnum=9&ved=0CDYQ7gEwCA&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dsi%2Bte%2Bvas%2Bhoy%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D1T4ACAW_enUS389US389%26prmd%3Div

---
The Bias of Wikipedia - Op-Eds - Israel National News
by Ari Lieberman
Published: 07/23/10, 10:21 AM

Read this and check for yourself. If you agree, do something.

There is not one article involving Arab-Israeli issues that hasn’t been tainted and monopolized by Islamists
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/9628

Reply to "haz":

1) CNN is anti Israel and controlled by... anti Israel biased journalists, not just because it's partially owned by billionaire Arab Bin-Talal...
Even Jews like: W. Blitzer are very harsh on Israel, even L. King is far from 'pro-Israel,' to put it mildly.

2) BBC is so bad that they admitted to bias.

3) Independent and The Guardian are usually worse than the Arabist BBC.

So who's left? Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera??? LOL.

You have got to be kidding, of course Israel is the underdog not only in the Goliath middle east staurated with weapon and terror, not only in the Arab-Islamic controlled UN and Amnesty, but in MSM (mainstreammedia) as well.

David VS Goliath? You bet, in all fields.

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