Wikipedia reports today that they are blaming US Congress staff for partisan changes to a number of political biographies.
I use Wikipedia a lot and link to it frequently, and as regular readers will know my article on Scott Ross was used by a third party for Wikipedia's entry on that fine musician. But I find increasingly Wikipedia is being manipulated to reflect personal views rather than fact.
Yesterday I uploaded an article about early music pioneer David Munrow. I researched it over several months and talked to some people who worked closely with him. There is remarkably little published material available on Munrow, although an 'unauthorised' biography is in preparation. Some of the best sources are articles in the excellent periodical Early Music published immediately after his death thirty years ago.
In these circumstances Wikipedia should be an obvious source. There is an article in Wikipedia on David Munrow, but I ignored it. It is written from a highly personal viewpoint, and contains (as at 9 Feb 2006) the following statement: "Munrow committed suicide in 1976, while suffering from depression. There are many rumours as to why. He used to overwork, and it was an open secret that he was gay which must have caused domestic problems." This entry is of no use. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, and should deal in facts, not rumours and 'open secrets'. Moreover does Munrow's alleged sexuality have any relevance to his achievements? Even if the reported speculation was correct he would hardly be the first gay classical musician.
The concept of Wikipedia is that anyone, including me, is free to correct misleading passages like the one above. But this only works if the article is fundamentally sound, and all that is needed is fine tuning. Increasingly the articles on Wikipedia are becoming fundamentally suspect as US Senators and others use them to reflect their own agendas. And that sadly is where the great collabarative dream breaks down.
Image credit - BBC
Image owners - if you do not want your picture used in this article please contact me and it will be removed. Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk
If you enjoyed this post take An Overgrown Path to Wikipedia is remix