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June 19, 2006

Wikipedia Changes Editorial Policy

The Register published as smarmy little piece on Jimmy Wales statement that students should stop citing Wikipedia.  The Wikipedia founder says that he regularly gets about 10 email messages from students per week saying they cited Wikipedia as their source and got Fs on their papers.  They quote him as saying "For God sake, you're in college; don't cite the encyclopedia."  The irony here is the study in Nature Magazine that concluded that accuracy in the Wikipedia was only slightly less than that of Encyclopedia Brittanica.  The EB editors took umbrage at the methodology of Nature although they have not suffered any financial loss due to the study results.

Controversies erupted over the "anyone can edit" approach which resulted, at times, in entries being doctored for political purposes.  This, and just plain rancor between some contributors led to a less egalitarian change in policy.  Administrators can put holds on article edits for periods of time to prevent editorial vandalism. 

One of the questions surrounding the viability of entries in the encyclopedia is whether they have any legal significance.  Westlaw indicates that 20 federal courts have cited Wikipedia in opinions.  They are:

1.  N'Diom v. Gonzales, 442 F.3d 494, 2006 Fed.App. 0109P, C.A.6, March 24, 2006

2.  Patel v. Gonzales, Slip Copy, 2006 WL 751363, C.A.7, March 23, 2006

3.  Hillensbeck v. U.S., 69 Fed.Cl. 369, Fed.Cl., January 31, 2006   

4.  Campbell ex rel. Campbell v. Secretary of Health and Human Services,
69 Fed.Cl. 775, Fed.Cl., February 14, 2006 (Commenting on the "disturbing" disclaimers on article veracity)

5.  U.S. v. Coker, 433 F.3d 39, C.A.1 (Mass.), December 28, 2005

6.  Allegheny Defense Project, Inc. v. U.S. Forest Service, 423 F.3d 215, 35 Envtl. L. Rep. 20,185, C.A.3 (Pa.), September 15, 2005   

7.  U.S. v. Krueger, 415 F.3d 766, C.A.7 (Wis.), July 28, 2005

8.  Bourgeois v. Peters, 387 F.3d 1303, 17 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 1125, C.A.11 (Ga.), October 15, 2004

9.  Hansen v. Wisconsin Dept. of Revenue, Slip Copy, 2006 WL 1589648, W.D.Wis., June 05, 2006

10.  DaVinci v. Missouri, Slip Copy, 2006 WL 1515536, D.Or., May 30, 2006

11.  Perez v. Frank, --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2006 WL 1453939, W.D.Wis., May 25, 2006

12.  Platinum Links Entertainment v. Atlantic City Surf Professional Baseball Club, Inc., Slip Copy, 2006 WL 1459986, D.N.J., May 23, 2006

13.  Larry v. Goetz, Slip Copy, 2006 WL 1495784, W.D.Wis., May 18, 2006

14.  Jones v. Blige, Slip Copy, 2006 WL 1329247, E.D.Mich., May 16, 2006

15.  Nails v. Compass Bank Dothan, Slip Copy, 2006 WL 1274074, M.D.Ala., May 09, 2006

16.  Stancik v. CNBC, 420 F.Supp.2d 800, N.D.Ohio, March 09, 2006

17.  Merinar v. Grannis, Slip Copy, 2006 WL 436289, N.D.Cal., February 21, 2006

18.  Booth v. King, Slip Copy, 2006 WL 287853, E.D.Pa., February 03, 2006

19.  Aharonian v. Gonzales, Slip Copy, 2006 WL 13067, 77 U.S.P.Q.2d 1449, N.D.Cal., January 03, 2006

20.  Amco Ukrservice & Prompriladamco v. American Meter Co, Slip Copy, 2005 WL 1541029, E.D.Pa., June 29, 2005

There were 105 references to Encyclopedia Brittanica, by the way.  Of course, that publication has existed far longer than Wikipedia.  Pity the poor student and their failing grades.  You'll have a better time citing Wikipedia when you become a judge.

June 19, 2006 | Permalink

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