Wikipedia co-founder says nobody should trust Wikipedia

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Apparently everything you read isn’t what it seems – especially when it comes to Wikipedia.

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Larry Sanger, one of Wikipedia’s founders, is warning people that the website isn’t the most reliable but it can give a “reliably establishment point of view on pretty much everything.”

In an interview with Lockdown TV, the project developer and philosopher, who co-founded the online encyclopedia with Jimmy Wales in 2001, asked, “Can you trust it to always give you the truth? Well, it depends on what you think the truth is.”

Sanger explained that “if only one version of the facts is allowed, then that gives a huge incentive to wealthy and powerful people to seize control of things like Wikipedia in order to shore up their power. And they do that.”

He added that Wikipedia “seems to assume that there is only one legitimate defensible version of the truth on any controversial question.”

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Sanger used a section from President Joe Biden’s page as an example, saying the information doesn’t include a GOP perspective.

“The Biden article, if you look at it, has very little by way of the concerns that Republicans have had about him,” he explained. “So if you want to have anything remotely resembling the Republican point of view about Biden, you’re not going to get it from the article.”

He argued there should be at least a paragraph about the Ukraine scandal but there is “very little of that.” Instead, it comes off as biased, in favour of Biden.

The Wikipedia passage to which Sanger is referring dates back to September 2019, when it was reported that “Trump had pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate alleged wrongdoing by Biden and his son Hunter Biden,” and despite the allegations, “no evidence has been produced of any wrongdoing by the Bidens.

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Sanger said that plenty of Republicans use Wikipedia and would like to be able to go into articles and provide some balance but the site won’t allow it.

“There are a lot of people who would be highly motivated to go in and make the article more politically neutral but they’re not allowed to,” Sanger said. “It’s quite remarkable considering that the neutrality policy is still in place.”

Sanger also said there are companies that pay writers and editors to go in and change articles, or write off sources that don’t fit their agenda as fake news.

“Maybe there’s some way to make such a system work, but not if the players who are involved and who are being paid, are not identified by name — they actually are supposed to be identified by name and say ‘we represent this firm’ if they are officially registered with some sort of Wikipedia editing firm,” he said.

“But they don’t have to do that because there is no requirement of real names. As I say, it is a very complex sort of game … there are all sorts of tricks that people can play to win it.”

Sanger warns that Wikipedia is now known to “have a lot of influence in the world, so there’s a very big, nasty, complex game being played behind the scenes to make the article say what somebody wants them to say.”

Wikipedia is visited by millions every day.

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