Why Bias Makes Wikipedia Neutral

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We should all take a moment to marvel at Wikipedia.

People of every age, gender, ethnicity, social-economic class and political affiliation are stripped down to anonymous usernames – the ultimate level playing field.

Behavior, compliance with the rules and quality of contributions are all that define your character.

Retirees collaborate with college students, republicans with democrats and pro-lifers with pro-choicers. Topics like abortion, scientology, PETA and major lawsuits are all in a day’s work. You can’t discriminate against a username, which has no clothes, no skin color, no gender, not even a tone of voice.

If there was ever a case for bias as a good thing, it’s on the one community best known for neutrality. Bias spawns motive. It drives us. And when opposing views have an equal seat at the table in a structured debate with neutral decision-makers, opposing bias creates unparalleled neutrality – like two rivers that come roaring from opposite directions, but collide and form an enjoyable lake.

At our anonymous internet roundtable of content decision-makers are angry former employees, unsatisfied customers, and impressionable consumers of over-dramatized media coverage. They’re discussing what millions of people will read without us on Wikipedia.

As a result, Wikipedia’s coverage of companies has gotten an increasingly negative slant every year. It’s not that we aren’t invited to the roundtable discussion, but we have to know the rules, the etiquette and the culture.

Wikipedians are timid about our engagement – and they should be. Editors with a conflict of interest are routinely disruptive. But they also don’t want Wikipedia to become a dumpyard for grievances and controversial backlash. Our voice is not only welcome, but it’s needed now more than ever to keep Wikipedia neutral.

What we need to do is stop coming to the community courtroom where judgment is passed on our articles like a gate-crasher that drives through the courtroom wall then looks surprisingly as the we’re escorted away. We need lawyers that understand the rules and can work together to reach neutral decisions.

We need to help keep Wikipedia neutral through their process, not make it bias through ours.

Image source: Shutterstock.com Cooperation figureheads

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