Mary vandalizes Wikipedia

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Funny exchange of ideas at the NY Times blog.

January 27, 2009 3:57 pm

Darn, right now I use wikipedia as an example of a internet site NOT to go to when you research for a report! I’ve had my fourth and fifth grade students change entries just to show them how unreliable the information on wikipedia can be. Remember, what you’re citing from wikipedia could have been written by one of my students–and they’re not all gifted:) — Mary

January 27, 2009 8:49 pm Link

@mary - Think of it this way. Take your fourth graders to the library, take some books off the shelf, and vandalize them. This is what you are teaching your kids to do, vandalize.

The wikipedia is an amazing resource, and probably the greatest social experiment of our time. It depresses me that teachers, of all people, are purposefully degrading it. — A.J. Colianni

January 27, 2009 8:59 pm Link

Mary, Are the changes your students posted still on the page or did someone remove them? Your actions, if you continue encouraging your students to vandalize Wikipedia, could lead to your entire school getting banned from editing Wikipedia. I’m an administrator on Wikipedia, and if I knew the account you used to edit, or the IP address, ‘d look into blocking you right now! More importantly, The point you should be teaching your students is that you should question ALL information, no matter the source. Just because something is printed in the Encyclopedia (or the New York Times) does not make it true. — Samuel Wantman

January 28, 2009 1:13 am Link

Mary, Locks work to help keep honest people honest. The same is true for Wiki projects.

Why don’t you have your students use car jacks to spread the door frames of peoples’ houses and rearrange their furnishings? Or use extremely cold products to destroy the temper on bike locks and then relocate the other students’ bikes? Or use the chemistry lab to make products that will show that the school security system is easily compromised? Just close it down for five days or so.

You could also teach them to hack your school system’s computers and destroy their enemies’ academic and counseling records–perhaps even modify your least favorite coworkers’ personnel records..

You wouldn’t, I assume, just to make a point. So why did you have them vandalize Wiki?

You could be prosecuted under a number of laws for betraying the trust parents have placed with you.

You should be suspended immediately, questioned very carefully to see if you are rehabitable, and, if so, sent for retraining–starting with ethics 1. For you obviously feel free to act on impulse to make a “good point”.

How easy is Wiki to redo? Well how easy was it for you to betray your children and their parents’ trust in you, to redo their ethical systems–and that is what it was. You helped rewrite their internal system of ethics and responsibility.

You took trust, ever so essential for business, education, and society, and showed how far even a child can go to prove how dependent we are on the integrity of others. Maybe some of those children will become stockbrokers and mortgage writers and salesmen. Lovely. When your teacher’s pension loses much of its value, don’t wonder about the value system of the arrogant managers who betrayed your trust.

Because you disagree or don’t trust someone does not give youa license to enter their unlocked door, even if invited in, and falsify their records.

Perhaps more simply, just go on a retreat with a trusted counselor and do some rethinking of where you have come from and where you are going. We all sometimes get shocked when we discover some of the deep aspects of us that are usually below our level of awareness until we have acted or written or drawn or spoken and been stunned when we realize why re need to do regular examination of our conscience.


Ramon Reiser — Ramon Reiser

January 28, 2009 10:05 am Link

I think that this is a great idea. Site administrators and editors may complain that this will “add to their workload,” but I’d like to see Wikipedia’s site administrators and editors do something actually beneficial for the site, rather than running it like their own, closed off little fiefdom, deciding what counts as “worthy information” and what doesn’t. If that’s how you’re going to run the site, then you have to be willing to have your cake and eat it, too. The way they run things there, I wouldn’t trust Wikipedia to tell me how many days there are in a week. — JMG