Sunday, January 03, 2010


It appears that Wikipedia has had some issues around writing about global warming, as this article from the American Spectator notes.

An excerpt.

“Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, had an article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal drawing attention to the rise of "online hostility" and the "degeneration of online civility." He (and coauthor Andrea Weckerle) suggested ways in which we can "prevent the worst among us from silencing the best among us."

“I agree with just about everything that they say. But there is one problem that Mr. Wales does not go near. That is the use of Wikipedia itself to inflame the political debate by permitting activists to rewrite the contributions of others. All by itself, that surely is a contributor to online incivility.

“The issue that I am particularly thinking about is "climate change" -- or global warming as it was once called (until the globe stopped warming, about a decade ago). Recently the Financial Post in Canada published an article by Lawrence Solomon, with this remarkable headline:

“How Wikipedia's green doctor rewrote 5,428 climate articles.

“Solomon draws attention to the online labors of one William M. Connolley, a Green Party activist and software engineer in Britain. Starting in February 2003, Connolley set to work on the Wikipedia site. I continue with a two-paragraph direct quote from Mr. Solomon's article:

“[Connolley] rewrote Wikipedia's articles on global warming, on the greenhouse effect, on the instrumental temperature record, on the urban heat island, on climate models, on global cooling. On Feb. 14, he began to erase the Little Ice Age; on Aug. 11, the Medieval Warm Period. In October, he turned his attention to the hockey stick graph. He rewrote articles on the politics of global warming and on the scientists who were skeptical of the band [of climatologist activists]. Richard Lindzen and Fred Singer, two of the world's most distinguished climate scientists, were among his early targets, followed by others that the band [of activists] especially hated, such as Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, authorities on the Medieval Warm Period.

“All told, Connolley created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles. His control over Wikipedia was greater still, however, through the role he obtained at Wikipedia as a website administrator, which allowed him to act with virtual impunity. When Connolley didn't like the subject of a certain article, he removed it -- more than 500 articles of various descriptions disappeared at his hand. When he disapproved of the arguments that others were making, he often had them barred -- over 2,000 Wikipedia contributors who ran afoul of him found themselves blocked from making further contributions. Acolytes whose writing conformed to Connolley's global warming views, in contrast, were rewarded with Wikipedia's blessings. In these ways, Connolley turned Wikipedia into the missionary wing of the global warming movement.”