[Air-l] wikipedia and defamation

Ulf-Dietrich Reips ureips at genpsy.unizh.ch
Tue Dec 6 09:27:12 PST 2005

At 22:45 Uhr -0500 5.12.2005, Barry Wellman wrote:
>the current AOIR debate about wikipedia highlights another problem.
>It is quite easy to make legally defamatory statements on Wikipedia.

Empirically, these statements are only harmful on a significant scale 
if anyone looks at them, believes them (and - in some cases - repeats 
them). The Seigenthaler episode is a good example. Being rather 
ignorant about the Who's Who in the media business I wouldn't have 
known of Seigenthaler and would never have connected him with the 
Robert Kennedy assassination, if it weren't for this discussion on 
air-l. The discussion only evolved because Seigenthaler himself (or 
his attourneys or his PR consultants) chose not to simply erase the 
false information but to contact mainstream classic media outlets.

Ironically, in doing this Seigenthaler created a memory trace of a 
connection between his name and the assassinantion in many more minds 
than if he had just corrected the false information in the wikipedia 

Maybe someone could dig a bit into the wikipedia logs and compare 
view stats for the versions of the Seigenthaler article on wikipedia?


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