In “Wikipedia is editorial warzone, says study” (MSNBC, June 21, 2012), Devin Coldewey whitewashes the reality:
It’s well-known that information on Wikipedia is essentially peer-reviewed opinion, and this study shows just how lively those peers — and that review process — can be. But while the details are constantly under heated debate, the result is often a compromise that cleaves very closely to fact, despite being the middle ground between several ideas of the truth.
The problem is that fact is only closely related to truth when it is relevant. Otherwise, it can be misdirection. Which facts are substantial, which are trivia?
Here, for example, is an account of what went wrong when a scholar who had studied the interesting US 19th century Haymarket Riot tried to correct the textbook pooh-bahs on fact. He lost.
In another such case, a scholar was edited by someone who was apparently 14 years old, and not any kind of genius, just someone with the time to spend on the problem – presumably avoiding his chores.
It seems that I am not the only one to attempt to contribute to Wikipedia, and to get receive harassment and insults in return. There is a series of posts in which one of the authors describes his attempts to do so. One of them is this one.
I therefore recommend that scholars like myself not bother to make edits on that platform where any non-specialist can take them down within seconds. Scholars don’t have the time to waste on such games.
It turns out that the “administrator” harassing him was 14 years old (!) at the time:
Any educator who recommends Wikipedia to students is irresponsible. It amounts to an advertisement that the instructor is just not keeping up with the problems.