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Wikipedia can be quite useful as a resource when it comes to relatively non-controversial subjects such as gardening. However, their editing processes and policies do tend to have a corporate slant, though it does not seem to be intentional. Corporations have so much power over national and international culture that much of actual corporate bias and influence can seem as natural as a mountain stream.

I got a rather blatant example of this recently. A couple of months ago, I had seen a percussion performance along with the film, Zeitgeist the Movie, in a small theater in Manhattan.

The film addresses its creators' views of the pagan origins of Christianity, focusing largely on connections between deities, planetary movements, and astrological charts. The film also addresses the makers' questioning of the official explanation of the 911 attacks. Then, the film addresses their explanation as to why central bank policies tend to favor bankers over the general public.

The films overarching frame is that we are fed a religious and cultural world view, a Zeitgeist, which blinds us to what is being done to ourselves and our society. The film gets some of its details wrong, but it raises important issues and questions that are largely taboo in our society. Atheists will probably find some of its New Age ideology a bit silly at times, but the extensive research and its questioning narrative make it worth the time to see it. Some films are more important for the questions they raise than the answers they attempt to provide.

Someone who saw the film decided to do a Wikipedia article on it. The discussion on the deletion of that article says a lot about Wikipedia and its sometimes problematic nature.

The editors who argued successfully to delete the article on Zeitgeist the Movie based their view on Wikipedia's notability guidelines for films. The introduction is long, but it needs to be seen in its entirety to understand why Zeitgeist did not meet the criteria.

General Principles

As with all subjects, a film should satisfy the general notability guideline:

The general guideline for notability shared by most of the subject-specific notability guidelines and Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not, is that:

A topic is presumed to be notable if it has received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject.

This guideline includes published works such as books, television documentaries, full-length featured newspaper articles from large circulation newspapers, full-length magazine reviews and criticism excluding the following:

* Media reprints of press releases, trailers, and advertising for the film.[1]
* Trivial coverage, such as newspaper listings of screening times and venues, "capsule reviews," plot summaries without critical commentary, or listings in comprehensive film guides such as "Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide," "Time Out Film Guide," or the Internet Movie Database[2]

The following are attributes that generally indicate, when supported with attribution in reliable sources, that the required sources are likely to exist:

1. The film is widely distributed and has received full length reviews by two or more nationally known critics.
2. The film is historically notable, as evidenced by one or more of the following:
* Publication of at least two non-trivial articles, at least five years after the film's initial release.
* The film was deemed notable by a broad survey of film critics, academics, or movie professionals, when such a poll was conducted at least five years after the film's release.[3]
* The film was given a commercial re-release, or screened in a festival, at least five years after initial release.
* The film was featured as part of a documentary, program, or retrospective on the history of cinema.
3. The film has received a major award for excellence in some aspect of filmmaking.[4]
4. The film was selected for preservation in a national archive.[5]
5.The film is "taught" as a subject at an accredited university or college with a notable film program.

These guidelines rely on directly on corporate sources, government sources, and sources which get funding from corporations and/or governments. Can you imagine how difficult a film to qualify which challenges economic and political power and practices in such basic ways? The guideline being used by Wikipedia has an inherent bias in favor of information that corporate interests and the governments they influence find acceptable.

The mere existence and marketing of a film that so strongly challenges the ideologies behind Christian supremacy and corporate oligarchy is notable in and of itself, regardless of how effectively corporate interests suppress it.

Wikipedia bases part of the reliability of its articles on what it calls a “Neutral point of view (NPOV).” Even in the best of situations, such a thing as a "neutral point of view" simply does not exist. Any time an individual human or a group of humans writes something in prose form, that writing reflects the biases and values of the authors.

However, the problem is not just the nature of NPOV. The general definition that Wikipedia uses for NPOV has a corporate bias as well, though again apparently unintentional.
Articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), representing fairly and without bias all significant views (that have been published by reliable sources). For guidance on how to make an article conform to the neutral point of view, see the NPOV tutorial; For examples and explanations that illustrate key aspects of this policy, see Wikipedia:Neutral point of view/FAQ.

What is considered “significant views” is filtered through dominant cultural views and corporate media sources. What are considered “reliable sources” are filtered in a corporate and government fashion as well. Keep in mind that university research is primarily dependent upon corporate and government funding. It is equally important to remember that the right-wing, corporate bias of “mainstream newspapers” is legendary.
In general, the most reliable sources are peer-reviewed journals and books published in university presses; university-level textbooks; magazines, journals, and books published by respected publishing houses; and mainstream newspapers. As a rule of thumb, the greater the degree of scrutiny involved in checking facts, analyzing legal issues, and scrutinizing the evidence and arguments of a particular work, the more reliable it is.

When one keeps a sense of perspective, the problems with the way that Wikipedia does sourcing is more important than the particular film that brought up the issues. The Wiki format is excellent for the presentation of information provided by a voluntary shared community. However, it would be worthwhile for people who are concerned with corporate influence and power over access to information to come up with an alternative to Wikipedia that takes some of the power over information away from established, and quite often unreliable sources.

1 Responses to There Needs to Be a Less Corporate Oriented Alternative to Wikipedia

  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. well said, i'm amazed no one has commented on this in the last 4 months

     

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