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Saturday, December 03, 2005


Slashdot | John Seigenthaler Sr. Criticizes Wikipedia (dealing with slander and libel)

Slashdot | John Seigenthaler Sr. Criticizes Wikipedia

Wikipedia has come under fire from an old politico because his (obscure) biography insinuated that he was involved in the assassinations of the Kennedys. He uses his experience as an opportunity to argue for laws that would effective centralize publication on the Internet in order to combat libel and slander. I think this is relevant to Kevin Carson's recent post about "P2P: New Economic Paradigm?"

I'm not familiar with any mutualist theory on slander and libel, but I have two thoughts on the issue:
  1. Violence is not necessary to combat slander/libel. A thinking population and an effective correction system should be enough, but some sort of ostracism may also be in order.
  2. This obsession with slander and libel seems to reflect the world view of the powerful and the centralizers. They want to develop a global reputation, and have the ability to forcefully protect that reputation even among people who they have never met and are far outside of their social circle.
Anyway, there are some good comments on Slashdot, especially this one from "penguin-collective"
Do you make a habit out of believing accusations against people without evidence? How naive can you be?

The problem isn't with the Wikipedia. The Wikipedia is completely honest about what it is.

The problem is that people like Seigenthaler...need to grow up...and stop nurturing the illusion that publication is some kind of quality control. Start using your head and start asking for evidence, for whatever claims you hear.

As for Mr. Seigenthaler and his little problem: the Wikipedia provides the means for him to correct those issues he feels inaccurate. If the original author is still around, they can hash it out on the discussion page. Maybe one side or the other will provide some evidence to support the accusation or the defense. That's all there's to it. But, as he told us, he isn't interested in correcting the information, he is interested in dragging the original author in front of a court, and I'm sorry, that kind of powerplay just doesn't work anymore in the 21st century.

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