First We Can’t Steal – Now We Can’t Lie

CNN reports that “open” encyclopedia Wikipedia isn’t quite as open as it was. Due to the large number of factual errors, inadvertant and otherwise, that not so much creep as run head-long into the site, the publishers are “assigning editors to some of its entries. These trusted volunteers likely would have to approve public edits before they’re published to English-language stories about living people”. Since it is well known that Wikipedia users simply lie for the fun of it, this would suggest that it is no longer okay to lie about living people who can hire lawyers. On the other hand, it still seems to be open season on the living and the dead in any language other than English.

“We discovered that only English speakers lie” said Wilhelmina Straus-Grolsh, President in Charge of User Discipline at Wikipedia. To quote the CNN story: “In January, for example, Wikipedia entries about Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd falsely stated both U.S. senators had died”. Which of course is no longer incorrect, as Kennedy passed-away yesterday, and science has recently learned Byrd has been dead for over 16 years.

Another famous example is when television satire satirist Stephen Colbert exhorted his audience to change the Wikipedia entry for “Elephant” to indicate that Africa is currently suffering an elephant population explosion. In fact, because of wide acceptance of birth control by elephants (who are notoriously Protestant), there are only two left, both males, and in a comitted, loving relationship. Consequently the African pachyderm prophylactic industry has collapsed, leaving thousands out of work who have taken to poaching rhinos for thier horn, which Wikipedia states is a “guaranteed aphrodisiac”.