A Wikipedia Teachable Moment

A Catholic high school in Omaha, Nebraska has filed suit over an entry about the school in Wikipedia. Among other things, they didn’t care for this characterization:

“It’s (sic) tuition is ridiculously high, too. Not to mention you get an awful education there. They put more emphasis on sports than they do education. No wonder almost all kids there are complete idiots.”

However, since the article was edited anonymously, administrators are naming a John Doe in the suit and will try to obtain a subpoena to have the local internet provider identify the writer.

Even if other edits included “sharp criticism of Skutt principal Patrick Slattery, obscene language and a note about drug use by students” is a lawsuit the best way to handle the issue?

It’s pretty clear that none of the staff members at the school have a clue about how Wikipedia works. Why didn’t they correct the entry themselves?

The current article has been locked by Wikipedia administrators and there’s no sign of any vandalism. Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder wonders why officials at the school didn’t contacted him when they discovered the entry. Good question.

When/if they find the students who posted the material, they will probably be expelled from school.

But is that the best way to deal with a problem like this? I doubt the students will learn anything from such a punishment.

And it’s already clear that the school administrators haven’t learned much in this case.

wikipedia, vandalism, skutt high school

4 Comments A Wikipedia Teachable Moment

  1. Andrew Pass

    Though the Internet, and particularly Internet 2.0 has created wonderful opportunities for intellectual and creative collaboraton, it has also enabled on-line vandalism. It’s a shame that there isn’t a way to prevent unsubstantiated statements from being posted on Wikipedia. However, I think that the way that the site has enabled others to edit and lock content is fantastic. It seems silly to either sue or expel students who have posted this material. Perhaps a more fitting consequence should be to ask students to substantiate their view points or explain why they must be retracted.

    Andrew Pass

  2. Pingback: In Another Place » Blog Archive » Media Literacy At Its Most Basic

  3. Ms Cornelius

    Ha! My FAVORITE line of yours was about the administrators not understanding how Wikipedia works and correcting the entry themselves!

    I’m still laughing. And I don’t even know exactly what Internet 2.0 means (look how honest I am) because I’ve been working on using blogs in the classroom. Since I had kids I can no longer really geek it out like I used to.

    But to answer your question–Why? Because administrators are usually the least technically savvy people on the campus.

  4. tim

    I know of a few administrators who shouldn’t be allowed to have a computer, much less access to the web. :-)

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