Why I Avoid Wikipedia

“This page in a nutshell: Wikipedia articles cover notable topics—those that have gained sufficiently significant attention by the world at large and over a period of time, and are not outside the scope of Wikipedia. We consider evidence from reliable and independent sources to gauge this attention. The notability guideline does not determine the content of articles, but only whether the topic should have its own article.”

-Wikipedia. “Notability.” Last modified December 19, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Notability

If you cannot find what you are looking for on Wikipedia, chances are it’s because of the notability requirement. Basically, this amounts to saying that if a topic isn’t covered by the popular press, given the academic treatment, and so forth, it isn’t noteworthy. It’s a bias against anything new or against anything that doesn’t fit into a small subset of “independent” sources. Don’t fit the narrow range of what some editor considers notable? Wikipedia doesn’t need to have a page for it.

You can call it anything you want, but an arbitrary definition of importance is as much censorship as if you redacted the text. It’s actually worse, since an article excluded due to lack of notability on Wikipedia excludes all the subsequent edits that could have occurred, a cascading censorship. Collective editing is what makes Wikipedia content worthwhile.

I recently had the opportunity to interact a bit with the bureaucracy of Wikipedia regarding why the Ergo cryptocurrency did not have an article. Plenty of blockchains have articles, but they all have market capitalizations greater than a billion dollars and are discussed in traditional media. Who decides who is listed as notable, and who does that benefit?

Further, the culture of Wikipedia, the sheer bureaucracy and the defensiveness of the whole apparatus has to be experienced to be believed. I’ve done some minor editing of Wikipedia in the past. I used to think of it as contributing to the commons. But, I now see that view is naïve. It is no longer true, if it ever was.

Moving forward, I’m not going to use Wikipedia, if I can avoid it. I’m not going to edit it. I’m not going to support it financially. If I must use it, I’ll try to keep it in the forefront of my mind that it has a bias that is largely invisible, like the air we breathe. Best to avoid it.

One thought on “Why I Avoid Wikipedia

Comments are closed.