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PostWikipedia and "Zionist Editing" (Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, US; ex-Iran) (John Eipper, USA, 08/26/10 5:43 am)
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich writes:
I am most surprised that in a Forum which calls itself World Association of International Studies, so many important political issues are left unmentioned. [You can't discuss 'em all, but we try--JE.] Is there a lack of interest among WAISers, or is there political fear in avoiding such topics?
As an example, and one of many, it has been revealed that Wikipedia is being edited for Zionists. There are even courses available for this purpose:
New York Times
This week in Jerusalem, two Israeli groups hoping to smite their online enemies, both domestic and foreign, began a course in the "Zionist editing" of Wikipedia entries. At the opening seminar, attended by about 80 activists, one of the organizers, Naftali Bennett, said that the aim of the course is to make sure that information in the online encyclopedia reflects the worldview of Zionist groups.
Wikipedia Editing Courses Launched by Zionist Groups
The Guardian (UK)
Two Israeli groups set up training courses in Wikipedia editing with aims to "show the other side" over borders and culture
Since the earliest days of the worldwide web, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has seen its rhetorical counterpart fought out on the talkboards and chatrooms of the internet. 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. Yesha Council, representing the Jewish settler movement, and the rightwing Israel Sheli (My Israel) movement, ran their first workshop this week in Jerusalem, teaching participants how to rewrite and revise some of the most hotly disputed pages of the online reference site.
Although there are many in the Forum who cite Wiki, and I have often spoken out against the accuracy of the Wiki, I am surprised that the proponents have failed to mention the importance of this fact. I wonder if at any time, WAIS will follow the lead of many publications and understand that it is a First Amendment right to be able to criticize Israel, instead of constantly bashing other countries.
JE comments: I've heard some references to this practice, but Wikipedia is a surprisingly efficient self-regulating community. Screaming inaccuracies tend to be flagged and subjected to review. Is there any danger that the work of 80 activists can seriously compromise the process of open peer review?
(I am not unbiased myself--as I've always said on the Forum, Wikipedia is my second-favorite website. It probably saves me two hours a day of running to libraries to look up arcane information and quick facts, although it's too easy to burn up the time gained by surfing to other Wikipedia entries.)