11 Dec 2005 Seigenthaler/Wikipedia: Just Ignore the Nutters
The one thing I do not really understand about the John Seigenthaler/Wikipedia story story is why Seigenthaler cared so much. The Internet, including Wikipedia, has false and malicious information about many people, and this probably is just going to be increasingly true as time passes. There’s very little that can be done about it, except post corrections if one has the time/inclination/opportunity.
The best defense, in my opinion, is simply not to mind.
Seigenthaler was falsely accused of being connected to both the RFK and JFK assassinations. These are not low-profile events; anyone with even a modicum of knowledge about historical events would know this accusation was false. Even if Seigenthaler had never made the fuss he did, any serious person reading the false biography would have seen it for what it was: a strike against Wikipedia, not Seigenthaler. There can be no doubt that Seigenthaler’s conscience is clean on these matters, and that’s the important thing.
Wikipedia, in my view, is better viewed as a focus group (aka, “here’s what a few people say they think about X”) than a resource end-in-itself. It also can give good leads to other resources, it can be helpful for fulfilling superficial requests (aka, “what is an x-box?”) and it can be interesting to read.
Reading Wikipedia is rather like listening to callers on talk radio or comments on a random blog post. Sometimes one can learn really good information that way, but other times, one is being exposed to nutters. And we all know what to do about the nutters. Just ignore ’em.
Addendum, 12/12: Donald Rumsfeld seems to have a similar philosophy.