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Wikipedia's New Text-Editor Will Change World History

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Wikipedia, the fount of all knowledge is set to become a pond of lies. In a few months a WYSIWYG text-editor is rolling out, making it easier to make changes to a Wikipedia page.

If you've ever tried editing a Wikipedia page, you'll know how confusing it is. You have to learn all the special words to put in parentheses. It's a bit like code, and for the average history school teacher it's a nightmare.

Unknowingly, this learning-barrier has been to Wikipedia's advantage for many years. People with ulterior motives have been put off from re-writing history, because the pen doesn't work. So far, those who do have the patience to make the pen work are faced with a team of Wikipedia volunteers (hawks) criticising and verifying their words. And to date, that's been enough.

These same volunteers are about to get swamped. When the new editor is released, everyone will be able to understand it. Everyone will be able to add a link, change a sentence, make 'corrections'. Whatever the volunteers are faced with now is nothing compared to what's coming. And because of this, there'll be a bigger lag time between an edit and a check. History will be wrong for longer.

Marketers will use this to their advantage through looped citations:

1. Write a 'fact' in Wikipedia
2. Write the same fact in an article citing Wikipedia as the source
3. Go back to Wikipedia and cite the article as the source
4. The fact now has a citation and becomes true for all eternity

The longer it takes for Wikipedia volunteers to spot this, the more opportunity marketers will have for creating loops and false verifications. History won't be re-written, it'll be lied into existence.

It seems that the web is a double-edged sword. Whilst on the one hand it makes it easier to form groups and share ideas, it also makes people much less trusting of one another. If marketers do corrupt the integrity of Wikipedia, they'll only do so to their own demise. People like you and I who now know the tactics employed will trust them even less.

Tom Church won the 2013 Future Marketer of the Year Award. He writes at Communication Is The Key.

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