Is Wikipedia Dying?
Wikipedia, which was launched as an English language project on January 15, 2001 as a complement to the expert-written and now defunct Nupedia, has grown into one of the biggest virtual communities in the world, with faithful and enthusiastic members, all driven by the noble purpose of making information accessible freely to any one at any time.
Unfortunately, not everyone shares the same noble ideas and vandalism started to affect posts on Wikipedia right after its online debut. Posts that contained racist, untrue or religiously-fanatic comments began pouring in, without a viable way from Wiki officials to strengthen control over users’ opinions or claims.
This allowed a 24-year old college dropout, Ryan Jordan, to deceive the trust of Wikipedia users by portraying himself as a prominent theology professor, thus becoming one of the most respected members of the Wiki community, with more than 20,000 pages of information edited under the pseudo “Essjay”. He described himself in an online profile as a "tenured professor of theology" and said he taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in the subject. He also said he held a bachelor of arts in religious studies, a master of arts in religion, doctorate in philosophy in theology and a doctorate in canon law. It was later discovered that he actually used Catholicism for Dummies to write his “influential” work.
Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia.org, called for an immediate and thorough verification of users’ credentials, in a system elaborated by him two years ago, but which only got attention now in the light of the new scandal. The verification consists in fax copies of users’ diplomas sent to Wikipedia’s offices and supplementary check-up made by a “circle of trust,” lead by an already-proven trusted individual. According to NY Times, Mr. Wales said he thought that some version of his proposal would begin on the site “in a week.”