Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Wikipedia's credibility is compromised.

By John Miller - posted Friday, 6 July 2012

In January 2001, Jimmy Wales launched Wikipedia, as a free, "self-organizing, self-correcting, never-finished online encyclopedia". The concept is excellent, however my hypothesis is that Wikipedia's credibility is compromised.

As a test of the hypothesis I have examined the respective Wikipedia entries for the Australian Greens and for the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL). These two organisations are arguably at different places on the political spectrum.

At the outset, I am a Christian and a supporter of ACL and the issues for which it is lobbying.


As an overview both sites appropriately cover the uncontroversial background and organisational issues. The examination below covers the respective entries beyond those sections.

Comparing entries in Wikipedia-Greens with Wikipedia-ACL using encyclopedic criteria as indicators

The assertions below can be verified using the article, the editing and talk pages of the respective Wikipedia sites. In this paper, the Wikipedia-Greens' entry has been abbreviated to WGreens and the Wikipedia-ACL entry to WACL.

Self-cited references

Despite challenges, WGreens editors allow Green-sourced content to remain. As examples, WGreens provides information on the Green's, Agreement for stable government and the Green ban on circus animals, both self-cited. While on WACL, information on ACL's policy relating to Homelessness, (self-cited) is removed. Video endorsements of ACL by prominent public figures (but filmed by ACL), are also removed.

Unsupported information


Despite challenges, WGreens editors allow (for instance) 200 and 260 word statements, without direct citations. This is not permitted on WACL and any such entry is removed. On WACL all references are supported, with criticism of ACL being supported by up to three concurrent citations. As an indicator of editor-verbosity, WGreens has a much higher ratio of words to citations, than does WACL.

[Citation needed] tags

On WGreens there are two outstanding [citation needed] requests. There are none on WACL.


WGreens contains relatively little criticism, while criticism (of ACL) makes up about half of WACL.

Specific section devoted to controversy and criticism

When challenged the WGreens editors say they do not permit a Controversy and criticism section on WGreens. Beyond that, it seems, even moderate controversy is 'moderated'. As a case in point, despite appeals, the WGreens editors would not permit any mention of Bob Brown's, Fellow Earthians speech to be included within WGreens. As an aside, 10 days later Bob Brown resigned. Did the Green-powerbrokers and WGreens-editors share the same 'commitment' to Bob Brown's visions? Meanwhile WACL has a Level Two (L2) headed section Controversy and criticism with four L3 headed subsections. Outside of that dedicated Criticism-section, for instance, under the L2 heading Some current issues on which ACL lobbiesboth the L3 headed Issues relating to censorship and L3 headed Issues relating to gay rights sections predominately detail further 'criticisms' rather than reflecting a neutral point of view (NPOV).

Emotive language, using the word Censorship as an example

- The Greens allege there is a problem with 'hate-media' and its impact on the Greens

- ACL allege there is a problem with 'media-violence' and its impact on children

In contrasting the two entries: With a single sentence in WGreens, Bob Brown refers to sections within the Australian media expressing criticism of Green policies or candidates, as "hate media", singling out the Murdoch Press in particular. Meanwhile in WACL, under an L3 heading, Issues relating to censorship(reverted back from previously less-emotive language) the WACL entry details why ACL is wrong. This takes the first 10 sentences of 240 words and seven citations. It is not until the 11th sentence where ACL is able to explain its concerns. If you are not convinced, do this: In 10 sentences, outline the problems with the media constraints proposed by the Green-supported, Finkelstein Inquiry. You might mention the community concerns as to how it will be administered and the impact on free-speech. (There are plenty of available sources). Then add Bob Brown's (above) allegations. Lastly upload it to the Greens' Wikipedia page under a L3 heading Issues relating to censorship. You might find criticism of Green censorship, is censored.

Perspective on the criticism

While recognising there are differences in the scale and role of the two organisations, WGreens, as an example, makes no mention of the current Greens' role regarding asylum seekers (or the carbon tax), let alone any criticism. Meanwhile on WACL, criticisms of ACL made by a 'theological student', an 'unnamed bishop', and 'a Christian' are detailed in breaking-news ( twitapedia? ) format with WACL recently being updated 56 times in 10 days - including a dodgy photoshopped image being added. Over the same period WGreens was also updated – twice - to adjust the name of the Queensland Legislative Assembly and to add the name of a newspaper.

Tabloid presentation

On WGreens, tabloid-journalism is not permitted by the editorial, gate-keepers. Meanwhile on WACL, for instance, there is an unfolding story involving billboards and condom ads, 30 people complaining, the source of the complaints, the billboards being removed, more on the source of the complaints, the billboards being reinstated, three experts giving commentary, etc. (in all, 316 words, 9 citations, under an L3 heading) Meanwhile ACL is condemned for not condemning Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, "who identified himself as a Christian".

Non-NPOV wording

On WACL under an L2 heading Support there is an entry which in NPOV terms could/should read: XX supports ACL [citation]. YY does not support ACL [citation]. Rather the current WACL entry reads: Whilst XX supports ACL [2 citations],YY has said . . . . and . . . . against ACL [2 citations].

Words deemed as offensive

On WACL, words which have been deemed offensive, are chronicled and elaborated on, with the opinions of many expert-witnesses provided on the alleged impacts [15 citations]. Meanwhile try Googling both male or female ACL staff members, and the F word, or the C word. Thousands and thousands of results returned. I have never seen apologies, for this, or anything else.

Nature of the criticism

The organisation 'ACL' and the issues on which it lobbies are interwoven. Any disagreement with ACL's position, say, its support for marriage inevitably includes an attack on ACL. These criticisms are often picked up by anti-ACL media and republished within WACL. Those who agree with ACL on marriage often do so without needing to mention ACL, such as the recent statements on marriage by the four Australian national church leaders. While it is accepted that these can not be cited in WACL, it is not unreasonable to suggest that those supporting the Greens (and/or disagreeing with ACL) are often prolific computer and social-media users. They also contribute to and edit Wikipedia. Those supporting ACL, I believe, use computers less intensively and are not necessarily as vociferous. All of this skews the Wikipedia entries of both the Greens and ACL away from neutral representations.


When challenged, the respective site-editors justify their positions based on (their interpretation of) Wikipedia policies and guidelines, however as shown, a comparison of the two sites demonstrates there are significant editorial inconsistencies.

I note Conservapedia has been established as an alternative to Wikipedia. Conservapedia claims Wikipedia has biases, which it lists. Wikipedia has responded. Further discussion on the reliability of Wikipedia is available, however this reference generally relates to, "scientific topics" rather than, social or political articles. Wikipedia has Policies and guidelines.

WGreens provides an overly positive view of the Australian Greens. WACL provides an overly negative view, particularly relating to ACL's position on marriage. Conversely, in the real-world, through our democratic processes, the Australian nation is poised to formally ratify ACL's position on marriage.

I would suggest that WGreens and WACL as they stand are both of less-than-acceptable standard as encyclopaedia entries with the neutrality of both disputed. Further, and considering many/most of the above issues have already been challenged, the respective problems are unlikely to be rectified using conventional Wikipedia intra-topic editor-negotiation and/or requests for comments. I would also suggest that it is unlikely that the above WGreens and WACL issues can be rectified by appealing to some higher Wikipedia authority. Appealing to Wikipedia, about Wikipedia, runs into the same limitations associated with any self-regulation. There are deep unresolved Wikipedia methodological problems which can not be circumvented by simply placing Wikipedia {{POV|date=}} editing-tags on the two entries.

The Conclusion

From the above examination, is it beyond reasonable doubt that Wikipedia's credibility is compromised.

  1. Pages:
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

40 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

John Miller is a happily married Christian. He and his wife are proud parents and grand parents.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment 40 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy