The Common Pitfalls in the Structure of Wikipedia being fact-based Website


Wikipedia advertises itself as the online fact-based encyclopedia, however many individuals have different opinions regarding the online encyclopedia. As per Colbert, the reference is where you can be an authority even if you are not aware of what you are discussing. As per Stephen Colbert, to criticize the online platform, he coined it as Wikiality to indicate a shift that when Wikipedia becomes the most trusted reference platform, the reality is only what the majority believes on.

Wikipedia has rapidly grown, holding more than 40 million articles within more than 300 languages and ranks among the fifth most visited website all across the world. Though Wikipedia is a powerful online intermediary and provides factual information, the forces leading its influences as in the individuals contributing and making edits in the articles are a massive network of Wikipedia Editors and volunteers.

Samantha lien from Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization that runs Wikipedia says there are about 250000 people who contribute and edit Wikipedia daily. She added that the Wikimedia Foundation had not set any editorial limitations for the Wikipedia. And since the platform is open to editing for everyone and individual make edits in a variety of different ways.  Some editors are keen to pick the grammatical errors and the spelling mistakes, and they happily go in and fix that. Some contributors like to write whole articles.

The drawbacks of the Wikipedia structure

The volunteer-based and centralized structure of the truth that anyone can make contributions and edit information on any article on the website may be cause for concern for the ones worried for the accuracy and reliability of the contributions found online.

Whether if anyone can become a contributor to the reliable online encyclopedia, who is to say that the information is accurate in the first place, then the review process should be doubted for the articles. And the edits that are brought up by Colbert, what sort of accuracy do information on Wikipedia does carry if it is considered factual only because a significant number of volunteer editors and professional writers claim. As per Lien, Wikipedia has the verifiability policy set in order which is predestined to analyze the characteristics and quality of the sourcing material.

She adds a rule of thumb on the website is the presentation of the original research that is not considered as the correct means of information. For instance, if the source is well known for publications of corrections.  As per Lien they also evaluate the publisher, where the publisher belongs, and fundamentally there is a whole notice board on Wikipedia that examines and assesses sources and what kinds of sources can be taken on the website. Moreover, it also examines the piece of work itself. For instance, if its’ a newspaper article or a book, or if a third party neutral source.

Despite the websites objective to remain fact-based and accurate, the volunteer-based structure comes with many pitfalls. Such as; since anyone can make edits in the Wikipedia article, criticism can happen. A notable Wikipedia pitfall was the declaration by retired journalist John Seigenthaler assisted in the assassination of Robert Kennedy. Seigenthaler came up with an editorial regarding the false accusation and revealed it was on the website for four and a half months before being taken down.

A handful of Wikipedia articles have also been secured from any kind of contribution inclusive of the articles on the elections conducted in 2004 for the United States voting controversies in Ohio, Kosovo, Cuba and Islamophobia, and human rights in the people’s republic of China.

The semi-protected articles on Wikipedia that can only be edited by the users who have been registered at Wikipedia for more or less of four days these articles include the Palestinian refugee, Jew, gay, god Afghanistan, the 9/11 attacks and a lot more.

Considering the previous records, it revealed that Wikipedia articles could be influenced by conflicts of interest willing to pay for the honor. A report by the Atlantic concluded that notable figures that are concerned with how they are represented on Wikipedia can hire the freelancers, the PR firms and the Wikipedia experts to make contributions to several articles. Fundamentally any changes made still go through the evaluation. However, the contributors act in an individual party’s favor, instead of analyzing the pure accuracy of the sources and can always steer the biases of the Wikipedia articles.