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<nettime> The strange love affair of Wikipedia and EGS
lotu5 on Fri, 23 Jun 2006 01:13:49 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> The strange love affair of Wikipedia and EGS


The Wikipedia entry for the European Graduate School (EGS) is a very
interesting case study of the social dynamics influencing the quality, or
lack thereof, of Wikipedia. Upon glancing at the Wikipedia page for EGS,
you might think it is like the page of any other university:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Graduate_School

But, upon reading the discussion page, a far longer narrative arises:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:European_Graduate_School

In this narrative, it becomes apparent that a user calling themselves
Santa Sangre has found some reason to hold EGS's Wikipedia page up to
totally different standards than pages for other universities.

In addition, the page was nominated for deletion twice because Wikipedia
editors did not believe that it exists. Clearly, this shows a serious
weakness in Wikipedia's ability to check actual facts, since had they
simply gone to Saas-Fee, Switzerland or New York City, New York and spoken
to adminstrators at the school, they would have known that it does, in
fact exist.

Instead, the very long and winding discussion:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/European_Graduate_School_%282nd_nomination%29

included two photos, one with Jean-Luc Nancy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:WikipediaCounterVandalism20060611.png

and one, more ironic photo with DJ Spooky:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:WikipediaDigitalHijackDjspooky20060612.png

taken this summer in Saas-Fee, during the June session of EGS, in order to
prove its own existence.

At this point, I honestly haven't had time to read the complete
discussion. From what I've read, I now know a few things.

One, for a professor to be listed in the EGS Wikipedia entry, there must
be a third party source. The web page for EGS isn't considered a reliable
source. Apparently, in the discussion page, some Wikipedia users have
pointed out that this is a standard that does not apply to other
universities:

"Out of curiosity, I decided to look at the entry for Yale University, a
well known and prestigious school that I hope even Santa Sangre doesn't
believe to be a hoax. Skimming through, I find this sentence:

    Yale's English and literature departments were the birthplace of New
Criticism. Of the New Critics, Robert Penn Warren, W.K. Wimsatt, and
Cleanth Brooks were all Yale faculty.

That sentence is presented without any citation whatsoever tht any of
those professors were actually at Yale! Oh the horror! What a violation of
WP:V. Maybe we should put the page on AfD because of such advertising.
LotLE×talk 18:13, 14 June 2006 (UTC)"

Second, apparently blogs are not considered good enough sources for
Wikipedia. For example, Bruce Sterling's blog entry with his EGS lecture
is here:

http://blog.wired.com/sterling/index.blog?from=20060602

but apparently that's not enough proof for Wikipedia to include Bruce
Sterling in the Wikipedia page.

So what is good enough proof for Wikipedia? Apparently newspaper and
magazine articles are the main sources of information. So, Wikipedia,
instead of being a repository for knowledge, is mostly a collection of
corporate produced, controlled, distributed stories. Oh, and they are also
happy to collect "scholarly sources" and government propaganda, I mean
facts, as well. Here is their complete policy on "reliable" sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:RS

Overall, the Wikipedia/EGS battle was a fascinating one to watch, but I
have come away with it even more disappointed in Wikipedia's ability to
keep up with the networked culture it claims to represent and with its so
called claim at objectivity, which is based on corporate and government
sources, skewed by profit and control motives. Ultimately, it seems that
there isn't much room for reality in Wikipedia, only a feigned objective
narrative.


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