JihadWatch takes on Wikipedia

January 3, 2006 at 6:26 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

JihadWatch has a beef against an internet entity, Wikipedia, that apparently doesn’t provide it with unconditional support. In an article entitled “Why Wikipedia Won’t Work”, they write:

“Jihad Watch News Editor Anne Crockett… has informed me that she has been engaged in a series of pitched battles at that bastion of objectivity and pillar of truth, Wikipedia — over my own biography.”

The editor singled out in this tirade, Yalto, tried posting a response on the jihadwatch website, but it was not accepted (or some technical malfunction occured… not sure which). According to Yalto, the author of the JihadWatch article, Anne, made up a lot of the stuff she wrote about, or simply gets the facts wrong.

Anyway, here is Yalto’s comment:

“I just got back from Christmas vacation and found out I am famous. Or, I suppose, infamous. Yes, it is Yalto, the Evil Wikipedia Editor.

Anne’s article would be interesting if it was accurate. It is not, however. Yes, Wikipedia has its problems. I may or may not be one of them, but I do at least ask that Anne try to get her facts straight and understand the site before she launches into a criticism of it.

The factual errors start at the beginning, and don’t end until the article does. I won’t do an exhaustive review. But, I will point out a few examples.

1 – Anne confuses the Discussion page, where like this comments page only offensive comments are allowed to be removed, with actual Articles, which change and are changed all the time. Anyone can rant in the Discussion section – that is why there is a Discussion section. But it is much harder to rant in the Article. Not impossible, but harder. So, for example, the “handlers” comment has not appeared anywhere on the Spencer article for as long as I have been working on it. Similarly, the crackpot who posted the Ali quotes on the discussion page has not been able to get the quotes onto the Article. (Anne’s complaint, btw, mirrors the complaint made my many people about this site – that Spencer should moderate the comments. He does not, and neither does wikipedia).

2 – Anne stated that I “repeatedly emphasizes that the Christian-Islamic Forum is “a Christian group that targets Muslims for conversion to christianity (sic).? Sic indeed. 😉 I do nothing of the sort. A simple check of the edit log will see that I did not post that particular piece.

But Anne has even more basic facts wrong… the actual article does not state that Spencer is a member of the group. It currently reads, and has read for some time: “He was a board member of the Christian-Islamic Forum[3][4], a Catholic group dedicated to the conversion of Muslims to Christianity using interpretations of Islamic scripture rather than the Christian materials[5].” My emphasis. It is clearly in the past tense – and has been since Anne pointed out the fact that he is no longer associated with the group. She also leaves out the fact that I in fact made the change to the past tense, responding to the information she provided, and that the confusion was largely generated by the fact that Regnery has two bios for Mr. Spencer on its web site, one of which states that he IS a board member, not WAS. Given that Regnery is Spencer’s current publisher, the confusion caused is natural.

3 – For the record, because I can’t help pointing it out, Google does not “lists page according to how many people have found them to be possible answers to the questions they are asking”. It lists them by the number of pages that LINK to a page. Very different. Lots of people can (and do) manipulate Google – there is a whole industry doing it called Search Engine Optimization. It is just as open to gaming, and is actually much much more opaque about the gaming. Wikipedia has a clear edit trail that everyone can follow.

4 – Anne charges that I don’t allow anyone to respond to criticisms. That is not true. I don’t have that power on Wikipedia. I am only a lowly contributor, not an administrator. My point to Anne all along has been that we should keep the responses to criticisms in the proper section, which I suggested was the thesis section. Mr. Spencer has a lot of points about CAIR for example – nobody is stopped from editing the thesis section to add those points there. It is impossible to have a readable article that allows for point-counterpoint-… forever. Should we allow the critics to respond to Spencer’s response of their criticism? If you know a practical way of doing that, feel free to suggest it. But what Anne really objects to criticism – “dirt” as she calls it. If Wikipedia doesn’t just link to Spencer’s web site and maybe, with permission of course, copy his FAQ onto their site and leave it at that, it is of course controlled by “jihadists”. Of course. Only terrorists could possibly object to the site. Ah, I see the mistake. Wikipedia won’t work because it is not a controlled PR mechanism.

5 – And, BTW, despite Anne’s claims that she no longer participates in the discussion, she posted again after the article. Oops. Guess she should have checked her sources…

As Anne mentions, you can all go and see the changes made to the site. You will note that far from being overtly partisan, that I have made POSITIVE changes about Spencer as well as adding criticisms. I removed, for example, detailed explanations of his Catholic writings after someone (Anne, I think) correctly pointed out that these were irrelevant. And I added several of Spencer’s points to the thesis section. Anne just pays attention to the criticisms while ignoring everything else. Because again, any criticism is evil. So much for American values, eh?

I honestly don’t agree with the POV put forth by Mr. Spencer and JihadWatch. So I am biased. Chalko, who has also posted here, is clearly more in agreement, and has been editing the Spencer page for much longer. Most of the editors on the page recently have been more in agreement with Spencer, actually. So the page, like most Wikipedia pages, is not a hatchet job by one person (me) – it is honestly attempting to get to a fair and balanced POV. Like it or not, people do disagree with you folks, and their criticisms should be heard along with a detailed explanation of Spencer’s POV.

Wikipedia can be inaccurate, but it is not evil. Anne neglects to point out (it doesn’t suit her argument) the recent Nature study that showed that it is actually very accurate at some things. But it is only as good as the community, so if you don’t like it, don’t complain. Get involved!”

UPDATE: Anne has the following to say on the Wikipedia discussion page: “If I confused with another Wikipedia editor, sorry. Them’s the breaks when you choose to be a Wikipedia nobody instead of going out and actually writing something you are responsible for like Spencer.”

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