marc canter pushes some boundaries at wikipedia

Marc Cantor Wikipedia

look out! we should be in for some interesting discussion over this one!

Marc Canter, sick of having to keep sending out bio and photos left right and centre, has decided to use his Wikipedia entry to perform the task for him, and has updated it himself.

It didn’t take long before someone has jumped up and disputed the neutrality of the post.

This is a pretty important dispute, if you look at the Wikipedia policy. Here’s an overview:

NPOV (Neutral Point Of View) is a fundamental Wikipedia principle which states that all articles must be written from a neutral point of view, representing views fairly and without bias. This includes reader-facing templates, categories and portals. According to Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales, NPOV is “absolute and non-negotiable”.

Now, to me, the post that Marc has written seems to be heavy on the factual and light on the spin. Rather than using words like ‘most important’ (subjective) he uses ‘most recognised’ (fair enough, you’d be hard pressed to argue that one I think). He doesn’t really talk at all about the success or importance of any of the work he’s done. It really is just a list of the involvements he’s had with various activities and projects and organisations over the years. Being Marc, its a pretty long list. Fair enough, he’s been around a while.

The crux of the argument (and there’s only one post there at time of writing) is that Marc wrote it himself, so therefore its not neutral. The objector writes:

Marc has asserted in his own blog that he has re-written much (/all?) of the content of this page himself. I personally don’t feel that writing one’s own entry should be allowed, I also realise that is not Wikipeida [sic] policy. Never the less the content of this entry is both self-promoting and biased towards Mr Canter.

They request that the page be rolled back to show its previous content.

Now, I haven’t had the time to research the reams of Wikipedia policy to see whether it is explicitly stated that you’re not allowed to write your own page… I certainly agree that Wikipedia should aspire to a neutral point of view, as far as that is possible, but should that exclude the most qualified person from writing a post on their most personal topic: themselves?

I think not – so long as they do their best to maintain a neutral POV, which from my reading, Marc has had a good shot at doing.

Surely, the principle of the wiki format is that if anyone finds something that Marc has written to be overly biassed and self promoting, then they should edit the page to remove or neutralise this?

If Marc hadn’t made it clear that he was responsible for this post, would we even be having this discussion? How many pages would have been written by people who have undeclared interests? I’d have to assume this happens fairly frequently.

Having said all of that … I do wonder why Marc decided the best place to post this was on Wikipedia and not on his own website. If its really to eliminate having to send out bios and photos all the time then, personally, I’d be looking on his site for that information before I scouted Wikipedia. And its just as easy to send out either link. Perhaps this is more about attempting to control one’s identity in an environment when people can publish all kinds of inaccuracies that can be perpetuated indefinitely.

Will be interesting to watch the fallout.