Wikipedia started this novel idea of crowdfunding information – wherein anyone from the public can join in and help expand the information present on the website.
But with different people who have numerous things to say, how can you expect Wikipedia to maintain neutrality in their articles?
Have you ever thought of that? No. You only think about yourself.
Anyway. Here is what you really need to know about Wikipedia and the politics of biased information:
The Neutral Point of View (NPOV)
It is not as if Jimmy Wales did not know about the negative side of having people pour information on one platform. But Wikipedia was obviously cautious about this.
In order to prevent something like this from happening, Wikipedia follows an NPOV policy.
According to this, all the “encyclopediac” content on the website should be given from an unbiased point of view. Well, fair enough.
Along with the NPOV, “verifiability” and “No Original research policy” are fundamental to the organisation.
How the NPOV and other policies fail
1. The NPOV is only effective when you have to discuss objective topics like science and mathematics. In cases of other areas, especially politics, the inclination of the article depends on the person writing it.
2. In the making of encyclopedia, there is a large panel of readers, historians, and scholars who sit together to discuss one topic, and through a lot of debates, they finally arrive at one conclusive description which both the parties think is neutral. Fair enough?
In Wikipedia, there is no such negotiation of opinions. The least you can do is edit what someone has to say.
3. Some information in Wikipedia is not cited. And since Wikipedia follows a no research policy, it gets doubly hard to determine what is authentic information and what is not.
4. The internet is so porous that sometimes information can be passed without actually verifying it. And even though verifiability is important, any content not being verifiable is not the only criteria for elimination of the article.
The internet is so porous that sometimes information can be passed without actually verifying it.
Examples of biases and errors
The Bicholim conflict is one such example – a war between the Marathas and the Portuguese which never was.
Apparently, it was on the site for good five years. FIVE YEARS! Can you imagine a hoax article being up there on a website from which thousands of people imbibe information everyday?
Even a chunaawi jumala cannot beat this.
Another article where you can find biased information is on Uttarakhand community. The article on Garhwali people states that there are only two castes among the ethnic group – Brahmins and Rajputs.
Ask me, it is false. Obviously the article is casteist.
In this so-called age of “free information”, you cannot really determine what is free and what is not, or what is free from bias and what has sprouted from it. Even Wikipedia is not saved from this.
The burden of picking and choosing information then rests on the person. Be smart.