Wikipedia is often criticised as unreliable. However noble the original idea of Jimbo Wales, re anyone’s ability to contribute and build the largest online encyclopaedia, it remains a fact that is prone to attract, well, anyone willing to add a point of view on a given topic. As Venezuelans are only painfully aware, Hugo Chavez has been attempting to rewrite history, building this notion that, before him, the country was almost uninhabitable, owing to the excesses of a political class that behaved worse than Roman emperors. Needless to say that such simplistic and misinformed notion can only be the product of an utterly ignorant mind. However, there are those who are willing, for ideological and financial reasons, to buy into Chavez’s revisionism. These true believers command an editorial power within Wikipedia, in entries related to Chavez or Venezuela, that proves critics’ point regarding the encyclopaedia’s unreliability. There are many examples that demonstrate that Wikipedia has become, for all intents and purpose, another propaganda outlet of Chavez’s growing media empire. Be it the Venezuela Information Office, Eva Golinger, Mark Weisbrot, or Venezuelanalysis, chavista editors have succeeded in deleting information that, while perfectly sourced according to Wikipedia’s editorial policy, does not comply with the version officially promoted by the Chavez regime. A perfect showcase of double speak and circularity of argumentation of these editors can be seen in a very long discussion related to Venezuelanalysis, posted in its Reliable Sources Noticeboard.
But then, it is worth pondering upon the reasons why propagandistic views of totally obscure editors, whose credentials no one knows for certain, can be imposed in Wikipedia entries, as opposed to verifiable facts published by truly reputable sources. With regards to Venezuelanalysis in particular, a site officially funded and run by chavista fundamentalists, readers are meant to take views of its editor as valid counter arguments, for instance, to reports produced after two years of research by Human Rights Watch. Only true believers will give any consideration to such untenable positions. However, more disturbing still, is to realise that one of the two editors (other being Rd232) who patrol and protect Chavez entries in the English Wikipedia, known as JRSP, has in the past edited out factual information from Gustavo Cisneros’ Wikipedia entry. Tellingly, editors that safeguard Chavez image, also look after Cisneros and terrorist and assassin Rodriguez Chacín Wikipedia entries. Surely, a reliably chavista encyclopaedia!