Wikipedia ‘Next Leader’ Prevention Needs Understanding ‘to Prevent Misinformation

Two decades ago, Wikipedia came to the fore as an online project aimed at storing and documenting all human knowledge and history in real time. Skeptics were concerned that much of the site contained unreliable information, and often pointed to errors.

Nowadays, the online encyclopedia is often referred to as a place to distribute false and misleading information in a balanced way.

The Wikipedia Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting youth unemployment and women’s rights, has announced in January that it will be the CEO of the Wikipedia, a non-profit South African social enterprise.

We talked to her about her vision for the group and how the organization works to prevent false and misleading information on its websites and around the web.

Q – Give us your sense of direction and perspective for Wikipedia, especially in this crowded information world and in this polarized world.

A: There are a few basic principles, including Wikipedia, and Wikipedia, I think, is an important starting point. It is an online encyclopedia. He is not trying to be anything else. By no means is he trying to be a traditional social media platform. It has a structure run by volunteer editors. And as you know, the basics have no editing control. This is a user-led community that we strongly support and activate.

The lessons we learn, not only in what we do, but also in how we continue to replicate and improve, begin with the idea of ​​radical transparency. Everything is mentioned on Wikipedia. He argued on our talk pages. So even when people may have different views, those arguments are public and open, and in some cases right back and forth. I think this is what is needed in a polarized society – you have to create space for the back and forth. But how do you do that in a clear and ultimately leading to better product and better information?

And the last thing I want to say, you know, this is a very humble and honest community of people. As we look to the future, how can we build on those qualities in terms of what this forum has to offer to society and continue to have free access to knowledge? If we are invited to participate, how can we ensure that we reach the full range of human beings? How can we truly ensure that our collective efforts reflect the global south more, reflect more women, and reflect human diversity, more reflective of the truth?

Q: How does Wikipedia deal with the problem of online dissemination?

A: Many of the main features of this forum are very different from some traditional social media platforms. If you have misinformed about COVID, the Wikipedia Foundation has partnered with the World Health Organization. A group of volunteers gathered around Wikipedia medicine, creating articles that focused on medical content and then carefully monitored, because these are the types of topics they want to be misinformed about.

Another example is that before the US election, the foundation mobilized a task force to try again. (The task force looked at and tracked key polling stations and edited 56,000 volunteer editors.)

Another example I think is very good: There is a podcast called “Wikipedia Foundation”. And she had a volunteer interviewed in part one, and she really made it her job to be the main viewer of climate change pages.

We have a technology that notifies these editors when changes are made to any page so you can go see what the changes are. In fact, there is a risk that the page will be temporarily blocked if there is a risk of misinformation. No one wants to do that unless it is necessary. The example of climate change is important because the pages of the discourse are very controversial. Our editor: “Let’s argue. But this is a page that I watch carefully and follow. ”

Q: One of the major debates currently taking place on these social media platforms is the issue of information censorship. There are those who say that distorted views on these platforms are a priority and that more conservative views have been taken down. When you think about how to handle these arguments when you’re at the head of Wikipedia, how do you make judgments when this is happening in the background?

A: For me, what inspires me about this organization and these communities is the fact that there are one major set of columns per day by setting up Wikipedia. One of them is the idea of ​​presenting information in a neutral way, and that neutrality requires understanding of all aspects and perspectives.

That’s what I’m saying before – there should be arguments on the pages of the discourse, but then come up with an appropriate, documented, validated conclusion in the text. I think this is a fundamental principle that can be learned again and again.

Q: Since you came from a women’s rights activist, have you ever thought about attacking your backbone by deceptive informants that could affect your calls on Wikipedia?

Answer: I say two things. My previous work is really related aspects of volunteerism, maybe it’s harder than others think, and I say I really played a role in understanding how to build systems. , Build a culture and build processes that I think will benefit organizations and communities that are trying to elevate and reach their level.

The second thing I would say is, again, I am on my own learning journey and I invite you to join me on my learning journey. How I choose to be in the world is to communicate with others in good faith and to act with respect and discipline. That does not mean that other people will do the same. But I think we should treat it as a desire and as a way, and be the change we want to see in the world.

Q: When I was in college, I did a lot of research on Wikipedia, and some of my professors said, ‘You know, that’s not a legal source.’ But I still used it. I thought you had no idea about it!

A: I think a lot of professors are now sneaking into Wikipedia to find things!

You know, this year we’re celebrating Wikipedia’s 20th anniversary. On the one hand, I think people ridiculed him for not going anywhere. And now it has become the most widely used source in human history. I can tell you from my own conversations with academics that the narrative about Wikipedia resources and the use of Wikipedia has changed.


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