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Monday, August 23 2010

Zionist Wikipedia Editors? So What?

Wiki It's been hard to ignore the media's snickering take on two Israeli groups working together to train "Zionist editors" to contribute material to Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia.

It began with Haaretz's scoop:

The Right's Latest Weapon: 'Zionist Editing' on Wikipedia

The Guardian, quickly took note, claiming:

Now two Israeli groups seeking to gain the upper hand in the online debate have launched a course in "Zionist editing" for Wikipedia, the online reference site.

The online conversation reached a new level when the issue hit The Lede, a popular NY Times blog.

Zionist Wikipedia editors?

So what?

There's no fuss when neuroscientists get Wikipedia training. Nobody cares that some journalism students become Wiki editors simply to pad their resumes. (Maybe we should.)

Wikipedia says about 300,000 editors have edited its online content at least 10 times. So why should anyone think that 80 people attending a course in Jerusalem could possibly undermine the popular reference site?

Andre_oboler In an exclusive email to HonestReporting, Dr. Andre Oboler said there was nothing suspicious about the course, which was organized by the Yesha Council and the My Israel movement:

There is nothing wrong with people training others so they have the skill to edit Wikipedia. That sort of activity should actually be encouraged and is ultimately good for the Wikipedia project as a whole . . .

The creation of lists of topic areas or articles which a group will focus on is a common Wikipedia practice, and again quite common, it often takes place in what are known as "Wiki-projects."

Gaming the system differs from this because the communication takes place outside Wikipedia, and may relate to political activity in Wikipedia rather than content . . . I should stress that communication outside Wikipedia is not the smoking gun; rather it is the nature and purpose of the coordination that must be examined.

I suspect it's an effort to exclude editors with a different view of Israel from contributing to the wisdom of the crowd. This is the principle -- as Wikipedia explains it -- of

taking into account the collective opinion of a group of individuals rather than a single expert to answer a question.

Unfortunately, the wisdom of the crowd often means navigating the politics of some Wikipedia editors who don't let the facts get in the way of their agenda.

The latter point is what sparked the web site, Wikibias. Their eye-opening How-to Guide included this disclosure (bold is my emphasis, italics is the blogger's):

There are roving gangs of anti-Israel editors looking to pick a fight. Some of them hope that if they show up on every page you edit, remove your edits (but not more than once per day), challenge every fact you add, argue endlessly, and generally making your life as an editor difficult, you will simply get fed up and go away. You might call this the hazing of new pro-Israel editors. (The founder of this blog, Wikipedian, became distraught with this situation and decided to start this blog to address it)

Oboler also pointed out to HonestReporting that


Oboler also offered encouragement to editors who are trying to bring some balance to the Wikipedia view on Israel and the Mideast conflict:

Pro-Israel editors sometimes face a frustrating time, but provided they source their contributions well, and focus on improving Wikipedia by adding facts, their positive contributions will be recognized. Have a go, but when you start feeling too frustrated, or find administrators behaving badly, take a break. Wikipedia is as much about people and politics as it is about information. Especially when it comes to the Middle East, where the information is often disputed and the politics remain fluid.

Related reading: Exposed - Anti-Israeli Subversion on Wikipedia

UPDATE Aug. 23: Heh. I was just notified that Zionist editing on Wikipedia is a Wiki page of its own. In case it gets deleted, here's a partial screengrab souvenir. You can imagine the rest.


A search of the parallel issue, Palestinian editing on Wikipedia turned up nothing (at this point). Is there no crowd wisdom on that?



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They are idiots for announcing that they are doing it. It amazes how how Israelis have some need to always announce stuff, usually in a manner that can be used against them. Stop announcing stuff. Stop talking. Stop sharing all your thoughts and possible courses of action with media members who turn it into worldwide anti-Israel headlines. Learn to just shut up and do things without talking.

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