The Other Wiki Wars

Wikipedia, the sixth-most-used website, is facing an internal crisis. As MIT’s Technology Review revealed recently, since 2007, the site has lost a third of the volunteer editors who update and correct the online encyclopedia’s millions of pages and those still there have focused increasingly on minutiae. Below, Wikipedia’s most revised pages, and some of the editorial battles they’ve engendered.

Photo: Eric Draper/White House

George W. Bush
Revisions: 45,254
Sample dispute: Whether a picture of President Bush reading The Pet Goat to schoolchildren on the morning of September 11, 2001, was biased.
Point: The “title in and of itself is just an implied [Michael] Moore slam against the president’s intelligence.”
Counter-point: “Michael Moore did not force Bush to sit and read a children’s book while New York was burning.”
Outcome: The picture was not included.

Photo: Alamy

Revisions: 26,546
Sample dispute: Whether to include Jesus’ Hebrew name—and if that name is Yeshua or Yehoshua.
Point: “During the Second Temple Period, Yeshûa is the most standard, and the preferred spelling in the Tanakh.”
Counter-point: “Since there are no extant documents giving his Hebrew/Aramaic name, we’ll stick with … his Greek name.”
Outcome: Both spellings of the Hebrew name were included, and an etymology section was added.

United States
Revisions: 32,242
Sample dispute: Whether the U.S. is accurately described as being the “sole” superpower, with a motion to remove “sole” from the entry.
Point: “China and Russia are superpowers … Yes, the U.S. might be a sole superpower for film and entertainment, but on the global front, the U.S. is not the sole superpower any longer.”
Counter-point: “This all seems like ranting from foreigners trying to nitpick for every fault in the USA.”
Outcome: Both “sole” and “superpower” are still in the text.

Photo: Frank Edwards/Fotos International/Getty Images

Michael Jackson
Revisions: 27,023
Sample dispute: Whether the scandals were given excessive attention and featured a negative bias.
Point: “Michael Jackson’s personal life does not deserve such scrutiny … Seriously, people, get a grip; all of you.”
Counter-point: “Jackson’s personal life is up for grabs. It’s reported on. If you don’t want the info there, go write your own article somewhere else.”
Outcome: Some of the scandals’ details were removed, but the entries stayed.

Revisions: 32,031
Sample dispute: Whether “Wikipedia,” when the word refers to the site as a reference source, should be italicized the way titles of other encyclopedias are.
Point: “To not italicize the title of this great work may very well be derogatory.”
Counter-point: “The standard convention is to put the titles of online encyclopedias in normal fonts, not just here but everywhere on the Internet.”
Outcome: The title is unitalicized.

Photo: Newscom

List of WWE Personnel
Revisions: 38,061
Sample dispute: Whether Jerry Lawler should be listed as a wrestler or as a color commentator.
Point: “Jerry Lawler has wrestled 5 times in the last 8 weeks in various kinds of matches.”
Counter-point: “Damn watch RAW and you see that [Lawler] is mainly commentator! … Do you wanna show that you are the biggest Jerry Lawler fan on the planet?”
Outcome: Lawler was listed as a wrestler but has since switched back to a commentator.

The Other Wiki Wars