Log in


Wikipedia and Global Warming

I found an interesting article by Lawrence Solomon (author of The Deniers) on discussions of global warming on Wikipedia. It seemed that every time he tried to edit a particular Wikipedia page  that discussed global warming, it would always get switched back to the way it was before.  All of these "counter-edits" were done by one person. He is also particularly critical of Wikipedia administrator William Connolley.

His criticism of Connolley is admittedly vague. There is further discussion of it on his Wikipedia page (which is probably not the best place to read about disputes over Wikipedia's objectivity). Also, it should be conceded that the folks who run Wikipedia have the right to make and enforce whatever rules they want.

These shortcomings aside, Solomon's article does a good job of drawing attention to two issues that are near and dear to my heart.
One is the idea of "consensus" on anthropogenic global warming. The other is the reliability and usefulness of wikipedia and wiki's in general.

I've made lots of journal entries about the former. I do have a bit of a problem with wiki's, and believe that discussion boards are preferable.
The controversy  Solomon describes is a lot like the "is too-is not" discussions you used to see on Usenet and later on internet forums.
The problem is that you don't see that when you look at a wikipedia page. You just see the latest result. I realize that pages have editing histories that can be viewed, but most people either don't know how to view it or won't take the time.  It's a lot better to be able to see immediately who is saying what.

Solomon makes a good case that it's possible for bias to exist on Wikipedia, either through abuses by administrators or the persistence of certain editors. Certainly that should be allowed. A right to a bias is pretty much the same thing as a right to an opinion, even when it's collective. But it's also important for biases to be discussed publically, so people can better evaluate content.