The unreliability of Wikipedia has gotten so bad that only the very naïve cite Wikipedia for facts in a debate or presentation.
Many people are influenced by the fact that the first listing in a Google search sends you to Wikipedia as if it were the authoritative source on everything. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.
It’s common knowledge in many circles that if you don’t like what you see in Wikipedia, edit the entry.
Editing your own entry on Wikipedia is usually the province of vain celebrities keen for some good PR. But a new website has uncovered dozens of companies that have been editing the site in order to improve their public image.
The Wikipedia Scanner, which trawls the backwaters of the popular online encyclopaedia, has unearthed a catalogue of organizations massaging entries, including the CIA and the Labor party.
Workers operating on CIA computers have been spotted editing entries including the biography of former presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, while unnamed individuals inside the Vatican have worked on entries about Catholic saints - and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.
Somebody from a computer traced to Democrat HQ edited a page on conservative American radio host Rush Limbaugh, calling him "idiotic", "ridiculous" and labelling his 20 million listeners as "legally retarded". The entry has since been corrected.
Best advice for those using Wikipedia is to use the on-line encyclopedia to point you in the right direction but don’t ever, ever use Wikipedia entries as the last word on any subject.
Are other on-line encyclopedias as unreliable as Wikipedia? We hope not.
We have posted several Wikipedia entries on this web site. They can be found by clicking on the Wikipedia category on the left-hand sidebar.