Wikipedia is justly famous as “the encyclopedia anyone can edit,” and I can attest to this attribute, as I have contributed two or three articles and edited several dozen other ones, including articles concerning the Holocaust. But the notion that “anyone can edit it” is seriously misleading, on two scores. The lesser factor is the ability “wall” that composition and entry of material places before less-experienced and –dedicated computists. Wikipedia has, in effect, an editing “language” which must be to at least some extent mastered to do anything more than cross a tee or dot an eye. I have devoted many hours to its mastery, and remain able only to enter the most-rudimentary embellishments on straight text such as a table or a footnote. It is far more-challenging than making this blog entry.
The other, far more-serious threat to the survival of anything you might enter into Wikipedia is Wikipedia “standards,” which I heartily approve in principle, that are enforced by an army of “Administrators” who constantly patrol new entries and “correct” (usually expunge) those that don’t meet their ideas of the standards. Among the standards are ones concerning “original research” and “verifiability.” Original research means you can’t enter stuff that isn’t published somewhere else, by someone else, including, fortunately, the Web. Verifiability comes to mean something pernicious on controversial points as to which competing points of view are published. It means, all too often, that whichever of the two points of view that is more supported by establishment authorities is favored, and the one(s) opposing it, either suppressed or given short shrift.
A sterling example of this is to be found in the (main) article on “The Holocaust,” as well as in “Holocaust Denial.” One of dozens of related articles, “Criticism of Holocaust Denial” contains, under the heading “Jewish Population,” (the first) three paragraphs whose import runs diametrically counter to the bias of most of the Administrators as I have experienced it. I am the proud author of these paragraphs, assuming they’re still there, which supplant an earlier version that my version both replaces and refers to. A(n un)suitably disposed Administrator may indeed have noted its thrust but left it intact because it is totally (and easily) verifiable—there are responsible Administrators, including some quite devoted to the mythology of the Holocaust. More likely, it hasn’t been discovered yet, at least by an irresponsible Administrator.
I’ve lost Wikipedia battles, too, including right there in the “Criticism” article. There is a heading, “Denial as Anti-Semitism” that I had the effrontery to change to “Anti-Semitism as a Motive for Denial.” I didn’t change anything in the section—just the heading. An Administrator whipped that baby right back where it came from (and as you see it now), noting that “informed opinion” establishes incontrovertibly that denialism is anti-Semitism.
Of course, having ready recourse to the counsel of my own sentiments, I know that statement can be totally untrue.
But Wikipedia doesn’t allow “original research.” Check it out, and contribute your own—that is, somebody else’s—wisdom.