Wikipedia vs the Truth

As a former graduate student in US History, where “primary sources” (original documents, letters, contemporaneous reports, eyewitness accounts, etc.) were the most authoritative, followed by “secondary sources” (non-contemporaneous writings, histories, etc.), I found this article  in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Professor Timothy Messer-Kruse fascinating.

Professor Messer-Kruse, an expert in labor history, located some original source materials in the matter of the 19th century Haymarket Massacre that settled some longstanding questions, but — as it so happened — contradicted the generally-accepted conventional histories of that affair, including the Haymarket Wikipedia entry.

The good professor found that his attempts to correct the incorrect information in Wikipedia invariably got removed by the Wikipedia cops within minutes.

He persisted until they threatened to label him a Wikipedia “vandal,” at which point he retreated and waited a few years until his own book (itself a secondary source, you might notice) was published.

Read Professor Messer-Kruse’s account of his experience, here:  “The ‘Undue Weight’ of Truth on Wikipedia


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