Sunday, August 19, 2007

2007-08-19 Wiki Data Not Sticky - "Conflict of Interest Editing", and a Tip

When adversary counsel refers a court's attention to a Wiki posting as "the" definitive answer to, or description of, anything, be alert. It will be helpful to point out how easily entries are manipulated to cater to one bias or another. In an article in today's New York Times (subscription required), Jimmy Wales, the founder of the Wikimedia Foundation, "which runs Wikipedia, says the site discourages such “conflict of interest” editing. “We don’t make it an absolute rule,” he said, “but it’s definitely a guideline.”

The article also notes that this non-peer reviewed ability to edit has not gone unnoticed by others: "Internet experts, for the most part, have welcomed WikiScanner. “I’m very glad that this has been exposed,” said Susan P. Crawford, a visiting professor at the University of Michigan Law School. “Wikipedia is a reliable first stop for getting information about a huge variety of things, and it shouldn’t be manipulated as a public relations arm of major companies.”

Sourcing Wikipedia posts: It is helpful to understand that a Wikipedia page cannot be traced to an individual, only to a network "owner."

An concordance about an error in fact does not make that asserted fact "true."

Techlaw Tip o' the Day: Many (if not most) networked copy machines have hard drives that store images of documents, etc. produced by the copier. These images may reside in that hard drive until they are overwritten. If your client uses this technology, include the copier hard drives in your data retention program. If you're on the discovery highway, remember to ask for images of same.