Want to Know How to Build a Better Democracy? Ask Wikipedia - 2019-04-07
Pity the poor public-relations specialist hired to influence what is said about his clients on Wikipedia. The sprawling, chaotic storehouse of knowledge is governed by thousands of independent-minded volunteers committed to being neutral and allergic to self-serving manipulators.
The barriers are formidable, but so is the temptation to do some reputational polishing there. What appears on Wikipedia matters. Daily traffic to the English site has barely grown in years, but that is because Wikipedia articles are so reputable that they are baked into the Internet—particularly Google's results pages. A biographical capsule Google publishes on me, for example, has all its facts taken straight from Wikipedia, except for my age being 20, which Google came up with on its own. When YouTube tried to contain proliferating conspiracies, it turned to Wikipedia. Of course men landed on the moon, it says so right here on Wikipedia!
Attempts to influence the site are, as the recent college admissions scandal shows, sadly inevitable; there are few areas immune to power of wealth and status. How long can Wikipedia resist?