In accordance to the assignment requirement that involves choosing a Wikipedia article or entry for analysis, I have chosen the article or entry on Scientology. This article of the Church of Scientology and its beliefs and its subsequent activities has been of recent a topic of discussion in Wikipedia’s fraternity. This article has been edited a number of times by the adherents of the church of Scientology as well as the critiques of this religion. The edits that have been done on this article have violated the principle of Wikipedia which ensures that articles are not biased or one sided. This means that the Wikipedia encyclopedia has enhanced creation of articles that are non-partisan and that do not violate any of its set rules and regulation. It is also within the interest of the encyclopedia that any article that violates any of its set rules should be banned or anyone who has edited any of the articles in the site to explicitly favor one side of the argument should also be barred from accessing the site.
Edition of the Scientology article was banned and restricted after the site became aware of the biased changes that were being done on the article. The church of Scientology through their computers engaged in changing the content that was found in the article to critique its activities and added contents that were seen to be arguing on their favor. They particularly aimed at portraying the activities of the church as purely positive and that nothing bad on the rationale of a conscious mind was being done against the will of a person or beyond the scope of the church’s beliefs and faith. They went on to argue that the critiques were just haters who were fanning baseless propaganda against the church. These editions were also made to counter various criticisms that stemmed from the activities that the church was engaging itself in. On the other side, the critiques of the church were gunning up for battle. Critiques argued that the church should by no means be referred as a religion but a coercive cult that has based conversion of its members through force and intimidation. Critiques argued on the basis of the number of litigation that this church had pursued against its critiques and against the dissidents members who had opted to get out of the religion. In the ensuing battle, Wikipedia encyclopedia judged for the interest of its reputation and protection of its users that both sides had engaged on a dangerous battle that would make it hard for the real facts to be known.
My choice of this article is based on the fact that the article manifested the procedures used in administering Wikipedia as well as creating a healthy non-partisan environment where all relevant information about the subject matter is addressed and made known. The article was a classical manifestation of the standard that Wikipedia has strived to achieve that has made it a relevant and trusted source of information by its users.
In this analysis, my plan will be focused on the editing of articles in Wikipedia, the rules that guides these editions and the violations that can make one be barred from doing any edition on articles on the site. I will focus on these areas basing my argument on this contentious article of church of Scientology.
Analysis of the article
In the true spirit of promoting inclusivity with no biasness or favor to any of the side, Wikipedia has always rejected any editing that is done with interest. Wikipedia encyclopedia has always required provision of references on any argument found in entries. The site also has mandated to ensure neutrality of articles found under its jurisdiction. This move has always been seen as a positive one especially to consumers and users of the site. Wikipedia has also maintained a feature on its site that enables users with deeper knowledge about any subject matter to do some editing in order to improve the quality of articles in this site. It is, therefore, this feature that instigated a war between critiques of the Scientology church and the church itself. This precipitated into actual demonstrations staged outside the church building by its critiques. Wikipedia in accordance to its mandate and policy could not allow any of the sides, be it the church or its critiques to propel their views on the site since this would be seen as the views of the site and this would have an undesirable effect on the image of this encyclopedia. For the interest of neutrality and in accordance to set rules and regulations, Wikipedia could not have labeled the church as a cult owing to the recognition that was accorded by the government to the church. Another thing that would make the site refrain from calling this religion a cult could be the fact that this could be seen as being partisan. Based on the features and the beliefs that are practiced within Scientology church, it would be on the interest of equality for the site to disclose all relevant information about the church including the activities that have led to its criticism and opposition.
Owing to the positive public image that Wikipedia has created for itself, any comment of otherwise stating about the church would have a negative implication on the religion. The move would have disadvantaged the believers of the religion and they could have gone to the court to seek for justice. If the court happened to judge against the site, it might be required to compensate the plaintiff for the damage created on its name or brand of their church. Although the move of considering edits from both sides can be good, it can promote fanning of propaganda and unsupported facts that might come from both sides. This would disadvantage the users of the site since it would be difficult to disseminate the truth or facts about this religion. There it is for the protection of the article’s quality and Wikipedia’s reputation to institute some censorships that are in line with producing quality products for its users and researchers who rely on this site.
Wikipedia has been with us since 2001 after its launch by Jimmy Wales in conjunction with Larry Sanger and has proven to be a very helpful site in matters concerning research and academic pursuit. It has helped scholars and students in their daily pursuit of knowledge and has always offered a platform of editions to entries that are made on it site so that quality and up to date information can be availed to users. The site has scholarly articles written in various languages and it has grown to be among the most visited internet sites in the world. From a lowly beginning in its early phases of its life cycle, Wikipedia has grown its resource base in the order of tens of millions of articles that are available to users as well as being availed for online editing.
Creating or making an entry (also known as articles) in Wikipedia is a simple procedure that requires subscription and other simple procedures. The site is well managed and aims at offering quality products to its users without any form of biasness or inclination to any side of the subject matter. It is this principle, therefore, that has led to increased trust and good reputation of this online organization. Another requirement of the articles in this site is the mandatory and proper citation that helps in avoiding copyright issues. The open editing that is not limited to any group of people is of course one of the beautiful features that characterizes Wikipedia. This is to say that users and other subscribers are able to add content or to redefine them in the existing article. This free access and editing has helped in improving the quality of the articles as well as making them be up to date.
Wikipedia has no limitation on whom to write an article and who is not. The site welcomes everyone with a piece of information he or she want to research on and post to the site as long as it adheres to the set rules of copyright and other principles that are of concern in this site.
The concept of open editing- where editing is made by users or articles are altered to promote their quality- has not gone free from challenges, misuse and the violation of the very basic principle that Wikipedia is based on. Wikipedia has all along championed for the neutrality and lack of biasness, but this feature of open editing has been subject to misuse as evidenced in the case of the Scientology article. This article was altered many times with each alteration being driven from selfish interests of propelling each party’s state of mind. The church of Scientology did these alterations where it edited and removed some information that that it saw were criticizing it due to its activities on the matters of carrying on with its religion and agenda. On the other side, critiques too edited this article to portray the religion as a cult and to fan anti Scientology beliefs. The tussle went on and on until the management of the site saw that it was fit to institute a ban on all IP addresses that were responsible in changing the article and also it disallowed further edition on the article. The administrator of the site judged on the side of the reputation of the site and also on matters of the truth being availed to the customers.