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Wikipedia May Require Proof of Credentials 317

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the yeah-good-luck-with-that dept.
narramissic writes "According to Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, a new policy is currently under discussion by the community of users who regularly write and maintain Wikipedia that would require contributors to the site who claim certain credentials to prove they really have them. The new policy comes after one of Wikipedia's most prolific and respected editors, who went by the pseudonym 'Essjay,' was found not to be the 'tenured professor of theology' he claimed to be but a run-of-the-mill 24 year-old from Kentucky. Said Wales, 'To discover that someone had been deceiving the community for a long time really was a bit of a blow to our trust. Wikipedia is built on the idea of trusting other people and people being honest and we find that in the most part everyone is, so it was a real disappointment.'"
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Wikipedia May Require Proof of Credentials

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  • by spazmolytic666 (549909) on Friday March 09, 2007 @11:46AM (#18289172) Journal
    People on Slashdot should also have to prove that they are "Professor Know-it-alls, PHD" that they claim to be.

    Wonder how many of them will turn out to be just some 24 year old from Kentucky.
    • > Wonder how many of them will turn out to be just some 24 year old from Kentucky.

      Like this one [wikipedia.org]?
    • How can I prove IANAL? Is there some sort of anti-law degree I need to get? From an anti-law school?
    • by YoungHack (36385)
      I am what I say I am.
    • Less is More (Score:3, Insightful)

      by James_Aguilar (890772)
      I don't understand the problem here. Wikipedia is like Unix. Since the last ten percent (verifying credentials) requires massive effort compared to the status quo, don't worry about it. What you're already doing works in the majority of cases.
  • Obligatory (Score:3, Funny)

    by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@NOSPAM.optonline.net> on Friday March 09, 2007 @11:46AM (#18289184) Journal

    Credentials?!?! We don't need no stinkin' credentials!!!

  • Somewhat odd. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by keyne9 (567528) on Friday March 09, 2007 @11:47AM (#18289198)
    Why would it matter if "credentials" were accurate, if the information provided by said person(s) was accurate and worthwhile?
    • by eln (21727) on Friday March 09, 2007 @11:52AM (#18289294) Homepage
      I have four PhDs in theology, sociology, psychology, and nuclear physics, so I feel I'm qualified to answer this question.

      The beginning philosophy of Wikipedia was that everyone had something to contribute to human knowledge, and credentials (the sort of things that get you opportunities to publish in respected journals) should not matter as much as the accuracy of your statements.

      Now, though, it seems like they only feel like that if you lie about your credentials. This seems fine, except that the only reason you would care if someone lied about their credentials is if you felt that readers would automatically give their opinions more weight because of their (false) credentials. Is this a tacit admission that the "content over credentials" philosophy doesn't actually work in the real world? There is certainly an argument to be made.
      • Re:Somewhat odd. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sobrique (543255) on Friday March 09, 2007 @12:03PM (#18289516) Homepage
        If you post an opinion, then that's fine, it will be read and judged on it's own merits.

        This is fine.

        If you post an opinion, and point out that actually, you have some basis for your comment, such as an academic qualification, then you are assumed to know more about your relevant field than the 'Man on the Street'.

        If a friend of mine who has a PhD in Nuclear Physics is having a discussion with someone, and it strays into his subject area, I will tend to assume he's the one who's right, simple because he _has_ spent a lot of year studying the subject.

        If my workmate who flys a helpdesk tells me that I'm looking a bit funny, and might have cancer, I will give it a fairly minimal amount of credence. If my GP says the same, then I will listen.

        I don't care overly if you have a degree in theology or not, if I'm arguing religion down the pub. However, if you claim 'basis' for the weight of your arguments that don't exist, then I will be very annoyed, and feel as though I've been lied to.

      • Re:Somewhat odd. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by steelfood (895457) on Friday March 09, 2007 @01:22PM (#18290770)
        Mods: Parent isn't just a funny comment. Parent does bring up a very valid question. Please mod appropriately.

        The beginning philosophy of Wikipedia was that everyone had something to contribute to human knowledge, and credentials (the sort of things that get you opportunities to publish in respected journals) should not matter as much as the accuracy of your statements.
        This is correct, and it still holds true--all other things being equal. There's the catch. If everyone had an equal say in things, then regardless of credentials, the validity of each person's contribution would be based on content. That is to say, if I told you that a red shift meant things were moving away and someone with a Ph.D. in astrophysics said that a red shift meant things were moving towards, you might believe the astrophysicist (if you knew), but what if I could back up my claims with sources and the astrophysicist couldn't, what I said would end up on Wikipedia.

        However, when it comes to moderators and administrators, things are a little different. They break this concept of equality that is the foundation of the philosophy. They can exert influence over points of contention, and even more so, they can assert their authority by limiting the voice of a regular wikipedian. They are in a position of power. So the rules have to change for them.

        It isn't intuitive, but ideally, it is the fact that they are in a position of power that lends credibility to their claimed credentials, as opposed to their credentials putting them in that position. Remember that credentials are ideally meaningless for a regular wikipedian. That means that their elevation to a moderator or administrator would be made based on the content of their contributions. Credentials are still meaningless during this process. But once they've ceased to be a regular wikipedian, and they begin exerting their powers over regular wikipedians, then their credentials need to come into play.

        This shouldn't mean that one has to have a Ph.D. or some other credential to be a moderator or administrator. However, this does mean that once someone becomes a moderator or administrator, all such claims need to be verifiably true. Just because someone doesn't have a degree in anything doesn't mean that person would make a poor moderator. But it does mean that the person should not be able to influence debates on astrophysics in the role of a moderator.

        So no, it's not so much of a breakdown in the philosophy of wikipedia, as it is that the original system was imperfectly implemented. A background check on moderator/administrator candidates would be more like a natural part of the ideal system based on the wiki philosophy, but that was not discovered until now.
      • Re:Somewhat odd. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by petermgreen (876956) <plugwashNO@SPAMp10link.net> on Friday March 09, 2007 @01:22PM (#18290774) Homepage
        Is this a tacit admission that the "content over credentials" philosophy doesn't actually work in the real world? There is certainly an argument to be made.
        anyone who has edited wikipedia for a while and claims it works is either deluded in denial or lying.

        FACT: on the vast majority of subjects the authoritive sources are not freely availible on the public web. Acessing them takes significant time and/or money.
        FACT: wikipedia very rarely (if ever) cites non web based sources, sometimes they are mentioned in a general references section but not cited. Even in the unlikely event that they are cited then almost noone can check up on them without either a long wait and/or payment neither of which most wikipedia editors would be likely to do for wikipedia alone.
        FACT: while there has been a push for more citation on wikipedia in recent times all this results in is citations of websites that are not authoritive and often contain misinformation (have a look at howstuffworks.com for a while and see how much misinformation you can find). Even if a website is authoritive how do you know this without subject area knowlage?
        FACT: even if you were to cite books and journals without knowlage of the field you can't know if the journals and articles cited are respectable or not. The effort of publishing reduces the ammount of junk but it doesn't eliminate it.

        lets try 10 clicks on random page

        1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terpsichori_Chryssoul aki-Vlachou [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kentucky_Route_11 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C4%93len http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Dixon_Murray http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peruvian_national_ele ction%2C_2006 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nayif_Abdallah_Ibrahi m_Al_Nukhaylan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_Muti http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevenson_and_Higgins http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Est%C3%A1dio_do_Reste lo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrestling_at_the_1952 _Summer_Olympics -- once again no citations or external links

        i bet most of theese articles could be edited by anyone but especially a self proffessed expert in the field to say anything that person wanted with little resistance.

        wikipedia is great for certain things (computer geek subjects are VERY well covered) but you really need to take care if using information from it for anything important, especially once you go outside of its core subject area or when you delve into anything controversial.

        • this is what that lump with lots of urls in was meant to say:

          1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terpsichori_Chryssoul aki-Vlachou <-- no citations, two external links only one of which is in english. The english one doesn't look very authoritive the greek one looks like some kind of newspaper but a local expert would be needed to determine its quality.

          2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kentucky_Route_11 <-- no citations, one external link to a cite that directly claims to be unofficial.

          3: http://en.wikipedi
    • Re:Somewhat odd. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by abscissa (136568) on Friday March 09, 2007 @11:57AM (#18289404)
      Why would it matter if "credentials" were accurate, if the information provided by said person(s) was accurate and worthwhile?

      After going through Essjay's edits, it was clear that he was using his "tenured position" to influence edit wars.
      • Re:Somewhat odd. (Score:5, Informative)

        by ZachPruckowski (918562) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Friday March 09, 2007 @12:04PM (#18289530)
        In fact, it was his 4th edit ever (backing up his 1st edit) that he first used his fake credentials to win a dispute. That implies that he created the fake credentials for that reason in the first place (a claim he denies).
        • from the edit: (Score:5, Informative)

          by Moryath (553296) on Friday March 09, 2007 @02:54PM (#18292152)
          From Essjay's 4th edit ever:

          "This is a text I often require for my students, and I would hang my own Ph.D. on it's credibility."

          Original link. [wikipedia.org]

          As it turns out... he had no such Ph.D.
        • the real problem (Score:3, Interesting)

          by N3wsByt3 (758224)
          That may be, but I think the real problem is, nobody cared to check his references. As he stated:

          "and I offer as my reference the text "Catholicism for Dummies" by Trigilio (Ph.D./Th.D.) and Brighenti (Ph.D.)."

          Now, did *anyone* ever do the trouble of finding out if this is correct? Because, if it is, whether he's Phd or not doesn't matter; he has a basis for his claim. If it doesn't turn out to be true, then it's an inherent problem of wikipedia, where people can get their opinion voiced by citing non-exist
    • by popejeremy (878903)

      I think you're missing the point. How can you tell if someone's information on a given topic is accurate and worthwhile if you yourself know nothing about the topic? You trust their credentials. That's how.

      Unless you're a medical doctor, you have no way of knowing if what your doctor tells you about your body is true or meaningful other than the fact that you trust him. The same goes for most other topics.

      We can't all be experts on everything. For the things we aren't experts in, we trust credentials.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gkhan1 (886823)
      This is exactly the point. Wikipedia is built on the idea that anyone can add information, as long as it is accurate. If you want to debate something, you should use real arguments instead of your own credentials. This is a big part of why it works, and it also a big turn-off for "real" academics. For this very reason, I would deem it unlikely to pass, there is simply to much opposition. Even the chairwoman of the Wikimedia Foundation has voiced considerable opposition to it (although, I should note, this i
  • Probably a good idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eviloverlordx (99809) on Friday March 09, 2007 @11:49AM (#18289230)
    As a frequent editor on Wikipedia (I can indulge my need to correct grammar and spelling), I think that this is a good idea. It's ok to have the average user contribute, but people who claim academic credentials should be able to, and be required to, back them up.
    • I like the idea that anyone can still contribute, but people with credentials get that noted so people can use that info if they feel it's relevant.

      However, not all credentials are academic. Let's say you looked up the history of a large company and I was an employee of that company for 30 years. I probably have insights into the company that can't readily be backed up by a diploma, but in fact I'm the best source. And that's probably true for anything historic. To use an exact example, if you're writin
  • by epaulson (7983) on Friday March 09, 2007 @11:49AM (#18289244) Homepage
    I don't know what everyone was so upset about in the first place. Why would anyone trust unverified claims in the first place? His claimed to be a tenured professor "at a private university." If you won't name your university, my bullshit detector goes off, and I assume you're from either a po-dunk univeristy that isn't accredited or is just completely made up.

    If it's not verifiable or reproducable, any scholar should automatically distrust it. Let people claim what they want.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mdm-adph (1030332)
      there's the rub -- the majority of the populace doesn't even come close to being described as a "scholar." Most just believe whatever is thrown their way.
  • by Oz0ne (13272) on Friday March 09, 2007 @11:50AM (#18289252) Homepage
    Honestly, I think I'd value/trust what the 24 y/o said more. The fact he lied about it ruins this of course, but I'm much more likely to listen to Dan Everyman than I am someone who spent a good chunk of their life working towards a useless degree.
    • One of the great fallacies: the idea that "Dan Everyman", as you put it, knows just as much as someone who has a doctorate.

      Now, let it not be said that all professors are geniuses. There are a good many who are incredibly fucking brilliant in their area of research, but it's a wonder they can tie their shoes in the morning and I'm pretty sure couldn't figure out how to change a light bulb.

      I'd trust Dan Everyman to work on my car's engine at a mechanic's shop, if that was his job. I wouldn't trust him to bui
    • by danaris (525051) <danaris&mac,com> on Friday March 09, 2007 @01:09PM (#18290584) Homepage

      Leaving aside for the moment the question of whether a degree in theology is worthless, would you really believe "Dan Everyman" over the doctor when the question was one of theology--that is, the area that he had spent several years researching deeply?

      I can understand not giving any extra weight to his opinion when the matter at hand is international politics, particle physics, or comparative programming languages, but if you wouldn't trust a doctor in his own field, then I think you have a really warped view about knowledge, its worth, and how it's obtained...

      Dan Aris

    • by Flying pig (925874) on Friday March 09, 2007 @01:22PM (#18290766)
      (As a tenured professor in theology at the University of Outer Fencepost, Wyoming...)

      Seriously, theology is a useful subject. You may believe that religion is bunk (and if you really are a professor of theology, you probably know WHY you believe it) but millions of people do not, and understanding the background to their beliefs and probable behavioural patterns can be very useful. It's just like a marketing man for a burger chain might believe the product is horrible and never want to eat there, but can influence people's behaviour by making use of knowledge about their psychology and beliefs, and so get more footfall.

      You only have to look around at things like abortion laws, education, attitudes to other cultures etc. to see that an understanding of the belief patterns of many Americans is an important subject. Why do so many Americans believe garbage like Creationism despite the sheer hugeness of the knowledge base of modern science, and the way that all the different disciplines (astronomy, geology, biology) reinforce one another? If any Government decided to try and find out, instead of kowtowing to the idiots, I would expect them to have a few liberal theologians as well as psychologists and sociologists on the panel.

      And no, Bible study is not theology and more than playing stone,paper,scissors is experimental psychology.

  • I saw this story on my Wii last night, and read the story here. But what I'm still not clear on is how Essajays "credentials" helped him? AFAIK, the current policy of Wikipedia is to cite an authoritive source for every bit of information added. Even if an MIT professor of Physics comes in and writes an article on Relativity, he's still required to cite some sort of professionally published and/or peer reviewed document to back up the claims he makes in the article. This is to protect against the possibility of original research. (A major no-no on Wikipedia.)

    Was this a breakdown in that process? Were other users trusting him "just because" he claimed these credentials?
    • by Moryath (553296) on Friday March 09, 2007 @12:00PM (#18289472)
      to support using other sources, to claim that other sources were not proper, and to push his own (anti-Catholic biased) agenda in editing.

      That's why this is such a big deal.

      He also claimed the credentials as "proof" of his maturity and trustworthiness to handle a lot of the business that went on. This despite his being one of Wikipedia's very corrupt administrators' circle and routinely granting support to obviously corrupt behavior by others.
      • By loading up on official sounding degrees, titles, etc, he could just bully the system.

        What you end up with is people siding with him for no other reason that he "has credentials" regardless of what he does. He could post the most inane shit somewhere else but the majority of people wouldn't go so far as to look.

        wikipedia has no place for anonyminity. There should be no "may do it", if someone is an adminstrator then they must prove their credentials.

        Hell, the bias of some admins on wikipedia is beyond b
      • > and to push his own (anti-Catholic biased) agenda

        Maybe he and the Catholics should break away and create their own alternate-reality 'pedias, like certain right-wing nutcakes did [wikipedia.org].
    • Christianity doesn't have the same true/untrue bright line that science does. That's not a slight against religion, I'm just saying there's a lot more grey area.

      Additionally, he became well known enough that people simply stopped questioning him. Seeing "oh, it's Essjay" would lead people to not look as deeply into the factual basis, trusting him to "source it tomorrow".

      My problem, however, is that his bio didn't even make sense. He claimed to be a pre-eminent Catholic scholar at a private university,
    • by Thaelon (250687)
      What's the point of citing sources about theology? It's all made up stuff anyway.
    • by Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) on Friday March 09, 2007 @12:36PM (#18290114)
      For example, he defended Catholicism for Dummies as an accurate source, saying, "This is a text I often require for my students, and I would hang my own Ph.D. on it's credibility." [1] It turned out that the Dummies book, or perhaps his interpretation of it, was quite wrong in this matter. And several times, he made the claim, "I am a Catholic scholar," to the effect of, "In my research as a scholar, I have not seen x, so it must be wrong" or "I can be trusted with this role on Wikipedia -- I'm a theologian." He was setting up argument-from-authority traps that people have been falling for.

      [1] Talk:Imprimatur [wikipedia.org]
      • Good grief. This guy sounds like a real winner. I can see how his attempts to claim his "credentials" were nothing more than a cloak of anonymity would be angering to a few people. Misusing and abusing non-existent credentials like that is not acceptable in any forum of discussion. Not even Wikipedia.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by eln (21727)
          Misusing and abusing any credentials, real or imagined, like that is not acceptable in any forum of discussion. Not even Wikipedia.

          Fixed that for you.
  • Link to proposal (Score:5, Informative)

    by SEWilco (27983) on Friday March 09, 2007 @11:52AM (#18289298) Journal
    Wales' proposal is at [[User:Jimbo Wales/Credential Verification]] [wikipedia.org].
  • But I just revised my profile in line with Jimbo's decision that it didn't matter to lie about credentials! Now all my work inventing a fake history for myself is going to be useless?
  • Well... there is your problem...
  • Don't allow people to list credentials at all. Wikipedia content (like all content) should be just on its consistency and verifiability, not on some letters attached to someone's name.
    • by 15Bit (940730)
      Who's going to verify its' consistency?

      And when those people can't agree, who's going to make the final decision?

  • Simple steps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@@@gmail...com> on Friday March 09, 2007 @11:55AM (#18289354) Homepage
    1. no anon edits. They're almost always just vandalism and frankly how can you trust information supplied without credentials?

    2. Lock articles once they're solid. I watch about 20 pages and almost all of them have dozens of revisions a day, all of which is to undue vandalism. People like Jim Carrey (for instance) are not making news daily. Just lock the damn article, then when someone proposes something new to add in the discussion page, unlock it and add it. That is, discussion pages should be unlocked, and stable articles should be locked.

    3. community == good, disorder == bad. We can't have an orderly encyclopedia if anyone and everyone can edit the content. Sorry, them's the facts.

    4. Derive clear policies concerning articles about commercial entities. Often, an article about a company amounts to nothing more than a single paragraph and a link to their products/homepage. When you try to confront them about spammin wiki they counter with all sorts of allegations of bias, double standards, etc.

    Tom
    • by user24 (854467)
      that may be a great idea, but it's not wikipedia.
      • And that's the problem. They want this great social paradise where everyone has a say AND they want to gain reputation as an authorative (re: useful to read) source. You can't have both. In the end, you can still have a system where people have a say, it's whether they have the FINAL say that matters.

        Damn hippies...

        Also, how does Jimmie spend >$70K a year on travel?
    • by Moryath (553296)
      1. no anon edits. They're almost always just vandalism and frankly how can you trust information supplied without credentials?

      Bullshit. I fix things all the time when I see them. I've become convinced it doesn't do shit for good, though. Anytime you get near anything that even hints of controversy, Wikipedia breaks because there are gangs of people who will try to control an article.

      There's a great former admin who's written all about it, he describes it a hell of a lot better than I ever could. His blog's
      • Yes, mods can abuse their power, but that's why you make all moderator actions public (e.g. tagged) so you can identify abusers and strip their powers. But just allowing random anonymous access to all the articles means you're just going to get rampant senseless vandalism (which is the worse part, most vandalism isn't at least clever...).

        Maybe it would help if bans took place immediately. E.g. whenever there is a clear vandalism (e.g. adding swearwords or nonsense) just ban the IP or account for a day imm
        • by Moryath (553296)
          Yes, mods can abuse their power, but that's why you make all moderator actions public (e.g. tagged) so you can identify abusers and strip their powers.

          This is where Wikipedia dies. In reality, mods are almost never stripped of power, no matter how badly they abuse them, because the other mods stand up for them, protect them, and they support each other's abusive actions.

          What Wikipedia really needs is a third group; those who have no moderator powers, but stand in oversight of moderators/admins, observe thei
    • sounds a lot like citizendium [citizendium.org].
      • Need to login to even read articles? Good bye.

        Meh, I'm confused as to why anyone thought the wiki style of mass contributors was a good idea. Imagine if anyone could contribute code to say the Linux kernel, GCC or any other large scale project. They'd all die of massive reccuring

        *((int *)0) = 0x31337; // LOLZOR I'm FUNNY!

        bugs or whatever. And while yes, some OSS projects (kernel) suffer from NIHS not all of them are like that and the little modicum of control they do exert prevents the trivial "I'm an
    • by DogDude (805747)
      People like Jim Carrey (for instance) are not making news daily. Just lock the damn article, then when someone proposes something new to add in the discussion page, unlock it and add it.

      And again you're back to... who decides when to unlock and/or lock an article? An expert, or any one of the hundreds of sad people who like to play "editor" on Wikipedia who may or may not have any kind of education or credentials whatsoever?

      Wikipedia is an idea that is inherently flawed. It simply can't work. A thou
  • Lying is one thing... but... if somebody is posting stuff that isn't true, isn't the nature/purpose of wikipedia for somebody to come along and edit it? If somebody is posting something that isn't referenced, isn't it correct to reference it for them?

    If somebody is correctly referencing their truthful edits it doesn't really matter what their credentials are.
    • by eck011219 (851729)
      Yes and no. The guidelines state that you should not edit anything about yourself or your company. So if a falsehood is posted about you, you can't change it. This turns into people recruiting other people to make changes, which tends to get certain great big software companies in hot water.
  • Maybe those Britannica folks had this stuff figured out after all.... Then again, Wikipedia also has at least Five Things you're not allowed to discuss... [slashdot.org]
  • The proposal (Score:2, Informative)

    by chato (74296)
    Wikipedia:Credentials [wikipedia.org] outlines the proposal. It comes from an idea suggested by Jimbo in 2005 and again [wikipedia.org] in 2007, after the Essjay controversy. The proposal is that "Wikipedia develops a system for verifying editors' credentials, so as to encourage greater accountability for users who claim expertise in certain fields".
  • that Wikipedia is flawed because of a lack of editorial value. That's what I've said all along...
  • by stratjakt (596332) on Friday March 09, 2007 @12:14PM (#18289708) Journal
    Of the many experts of all things Sonic the Hedgehog?

    How am I supposed to know for sure if Knuckles really is a "big fag with a boner for tails", or if Big the Cat is "totally awesome".

    Wikipedia is a joke. Look up Knuckles the Echidna, then look up William Shakespeare, and see where our society ranks on an intellectual level of 1-10.

    I used to think it was a great idea. At this point, I wouldn't trust anything I read in there to be true. I was looking up some stuff about hydrocarbons, alternate fuels, etc, out of pure curiosity w.r.t the science behind some of it, and found nothing but moronic defacement and rants about Bush, kyoto, etc.

    Require credentials and end Wikipedia. I sincerely doubt that any of the editors or contributors have any credentials. Those types of folks tend to get published in real world journals, magazines and books.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Tend to get published in real journals? Such as, say, Nature, which has had articles encouraging academics to publish in the past? Indeed, I know from a Nature article from December 2005 that one of the regular editors on the Schizophrenia article on Wikipedia is a neuropsychologist at the Institute of Psychiatry in London - and indeed, the researchers academic webpage lists the relevent Wikipedia pages he has edited. There are *plenty* of editors with credentials. This proposal suggests acknowledging tha
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by internic (453511)

      At this point, I wouldn't trust anything I read in there to be true...I sincerely doubt that any of the editors or contributors have any credentials. Those types of folks tend to get published in real world journals, magazines and books.

      I can't speak about most of the articles on Wikipedia one way or another, but I will say, as someone who does research in quantum physics, that the wiki articles on quantum mechanics and quantum information topics are characteristically pretty good in terms of content (th

  • by Churla (936633) on Friday March 09, 2007 @12:24PM (#18289882)
    If I understand the philosophy underlying Wikipedia is that it's SUPPOSED to be an encyclopedia everybody can change. Admittedly this is an inherently flawed belief since it does require you trust people not to lie, slander, and vandalize it.

    This change, whereas it will make Wikipedia a far more reliable tool for information, would also as I see it destroy a fundamental principle on which it was founded.
    • by cdrguru (88047)
      Yes, there is a conflict here. The problem is that in an open, unverified, anonymous world nobody can be trusted. I think most people over the age of 25 figured that out along the way. The folks that haven't are running wiki-??? and finding out the hard way.

      The other side of this is while wikipedia is a nice concept, what is it for?

      If you were in school and about to take an important test, would you trust it as a reference to study from?

      If your doctor used it as a reference source, would you continue goi
  • Theology (Score:3, Insightful)

    by amdurak (994897) on Friday March 09, 2007 @12:25PM (#18289888)
    The discovery of this deceit implies how difficult theology in reality is.
  • Fuck credentials. If he did a good job I don't see what his credentials were. I suspect he was pressured to put fake credentials in because people were requesting that editors have credentials.

    Judge by the quality of work, credentials mean nothing more than that you've paid someone enough money to gain them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tim C (15259)
      To my mind, it's not so much that he didn't have any credentials, as it is that he lied and claimed that he did. If he lied about that, what else has he lied about? How can I trust the article now?
  • Devoting so much of one's personal time to add high-quality content to Wikipedia, essentially a charitable cause, does not strike me as "run-of-the-mill". He was respected for a reason. Credentials only go so far. I'd rather have the grassroots underling before a tired ol' theologist that probably doesn't have nearly as much time or willpower to contribute like this supposed country bumpkin and/or plebeian.
  • The funny thing is that EssJay is now notable enough to have his own Wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org].
  • ... down in Kentucky you're viewed as a professor in theology if you go to church on both Saturdays AND Sundays.
  • Who cares? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Bullfish (858648) on Friday March 09, 2007 @01:00PM (#18290472)
    This is not a problem when you can go to http://conservapedia.com/ [conservapedia.com]. Who needs credentials when you can have all of the content of wikipedia without those pesky facts that require checking etc.
  • "Wikipedia is built on the idea of trusting other people and people being honest"

    This is the biggest fundamental flaw in the entire project.
  • by jefp (90879) <jef@mail.acme.com> on Friday March 09, 2007 @01:07PM (#18290552) Homepage
    Too lazy to implement a collaborative filtering / reputation management system.
  • by Peter Trepan (572016) on Friday March 09, 2007 @01:40PM (#18290988)

    Are you telling me Essjay claimed to be a theologian, but all he really did was peddle bullshit?

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