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Friday, February 22, 2013

Why all the fuss about Wikipedia?

Today's Western Mail must have the non-story of the week with a little diatribe about former Welsh Labour Environment Minister, Jane Davidson removing negative comments from her Wikipedia entry.

They say that Ms. Davidson has admitted removing critical comments such as her failure to notify the independent advisory committee on business appointments of a new job, from her Wikipedia entry and replacing them with positive material:

The Western Mail story about the ticking-off given to Ms Davidson was referred to in her Wikipedia entry – and was one of the elements removed by her.

Other negative references removed from her page in the online encyclopaedia include school closures that she did not halt as Education Minister.

One entry accused her of executing Shambo, a “sacred” bullock owned by a religious community called the Community of the Many Names of God at Llanpumsaint in Carmarthenshire. As the minister responsible for rural affairs, Ms Davidson backed the bullock’s slaughter in 2007 after it tested positive for bovine TB.

Among material added by Ms Davidson to her Wikipedia entry is a section which states: “Jane is passionate about the environment and resource efficiency and has been given a number of accolades for her work. She was the third most influential environmentalist in the UK for the Independent on Sunday in 2009 and has been Resource magazine’s no 1 and 2 in 2009 and 2010 for her work on waste which has seen Wales come from behind the rest of the UK to be the lead recycling country in Britain and the first UK country to charge for single use carrier bags.

Let us be clear about this, Wikipedia is not an unimpeachable gold-plated reference source, it is an open website in which anybody can add any material they wish and is often subject to trolls, who for their own reasons will mischieviously add inaccurate or vindictive material to biographies of contemporary figures, especially politicians.

My Wikipedia entry, which I did not initiate, has been subject to such attacks and I have removed that material on a regular basis. I felt that I could do this because, as Jane Davidson says, that is how Wikipedia works.

Personally, I have no problem with her actions in this regard. She acted reasonably and has been quite open about what she did. One's on-line identity can be very important for one's reputation and in seeking employment. Why would anybody allow such attacks on their character to remain on-line if they are able to remove them? Why does the Western Mail think this is a story?
"Why does the Western Mail think this is a story?"

Because it is a story?

Western Mail will make stories out of anything, unless it is of anything politically cerebral which may betwixt it's elevated readership.
As for all them magazine awards, I would consider them all dog's ballocks. One of the funniest part's Janes D's career was the cartoon's and all the diplomats seeing them at the foreign conference when she bumped into Arnie's pectoralis
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