Wiki-Battle Field

Not only are supporters of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama duking it out in the states, on talk shows, on blogs, and the newspapers, according to The New Republic, they’re fighting on Wikipedia.

There was the day in February when an editor replaced a photo of Hillary on her Wikipedia page with a picture of a walrus. Then there was the day this month when a Hillary supporter changed Obama’s bio so that it referred to him as “a Kenyan-American politician.” But such sweepingly hostile edits are usually fixed quickly by other Wikipedia users. Often, it’s the most arcane distinctions on the candidates’ pages that provoke the bitterest tugs-of-war. Recently, an angry battle broke out on Hillary’s page over whether to describe Clinton as “a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination” or just “a candidate,” since each phrase implies a different shade of judgment on her chances. Five minutes after an Obama supporter deleted “leading” just after 11 p.m. on March 8, another editor put it back. Seven minutes after that, the word was deleted again. Some thirty minutes after that, it was put back. On it went, with different Wikipedia editors debating the significance of Hillary’s delegate deficit on her talk page and accusing each other of introducing the dreaded “POV”– or “point of view,” a violation of Wikipedia’s most fundamental principle–into the article. At around six in the morning, completing the atmosphere of pandemonium, somebody replaced Hillary’s whole page with “It has been reported that Hillary Rodham Clinton has contracted genital herpes due to sexual intercourse with an orangutan.”

The candidates’ Wikipedia pages are second to their campaign web sites in hits. The man who safeguards Clinton’s page is married to a librarian who doesn’t recommend that anyone use Wikipedia.

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