Pointer to article: http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=174900789
And you thought I was being melodramatic when I said reputation is a creepy concept.
Quoting the referenced article: “Wikipedia, the open online encyclopedia that's written and monitored by volunteers, has changed its rules for submitting articles after a posting incorrectly linked the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy to a former administrative assistant. A May 26 posting on John Seigenthaler Sr., an assistant to the attorney general in the early 1960s, said Seigenthaler was ‘thought to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both (President) John (F. Kennedy), and his brother, Bobby.’ Although Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has said that erroneous submissions are usually corrected within minutes, the Seigenthaler "biography" stayed on the site for 132 days before it was corrected. In addition, the "scurrilous text" appeared on search engines Reference.com and Answers.com, Seigenthaler said in a Nov. 29 editorial in USA Today. ‘I have no idea whose sick mind conceived the false, malicious “biography” that appeared under my name for 132 days on Wikipedia, the popular, online, free encyclopedia whose authors are unknown and virtually untraceable,’ Seigenthaler said.”
Now, read again my earlier statement on reputation: “Reputation feels anti-governance, hence unfair. It feels oppressive. It’s the collective mass of received opinion, good and ill, weighing down on a particular identity. It feels like a court where the judge, jury, prosecuting attorney, jailer, and lord high executioner are phantoms, never showing their faces, but making their collective force felt at every turn. It feels like outer appearances, not inner character, ruling our lives….Who, if anyone, are the "reputation authorities"? What, if anything, is a "reputation assertion"? How can we--the identified reputed parties--have any assurance that our reputation isn't determined by the collective malice of bad people who mean to distort and destroy us? How can we be sure that a balanced, fair evaluation of our reputation rises above the din and confusion? Who/what, if anything, is our public reputation (PR) agent/advocate in a world of free-floating ungovernable reputation?”
Not all of us have access to the editorial pages of USA Today to defend our good names. So, if the bad people propagate lies about us through Wikipedia, even for the short time necessary to ruin our reputations, what countermeasures do we have of equal or greater force to restore ourselves, and to hunt down those who’ve destroyed us?
Wikipedia needs strong authentication on all postings. And living people who are mentioned in Wikipedia entries need to be notified immediately upon publication, so that they can immediately correct the errors.
Of course, who’s to say who’s telling the truth about somebody: The original author, the aggrieved subject, or neither of them? How often will Wikipedia’s editors get caught in a tug of war? How reliable can Wikipedia’s entries be, under such circumstances?
Wikipedia’s reputation is what’s being damaged by all this.