Wikipedia is the most important project in the world. (Go on, try to argue it.) There are annual events where Wikipedia editors, educators and activists get together, run by Wikimedia, the company behind Wikipedia. Wikimania 2014 is happening in London this week and I took the chance to volunteer there.
I have one big question I need answers to. How to make sure cults can’t put their stuff there unchallenged? Cults are realising the power of Wikipedia and are focusing a lot of energy onto it. Looking at the usernames editing this content, many are straight ISKCON names. This is clearly a case of Conflict of Interest editing, but in the case of many of the smaller New Religious Movements it will not be picked up like the recent cases of politicians editing Wikipedia pages.
Equally, the people who do care, activists and academics who have relevant background knowledge about the actual authenticity of the ‘scriptures’ these cults are based on, will never be able to compete with the resources devoted to this by the organisations.
It comes down to religion and how you deal with people who are 100% sure that their worldview is correct, when you are equally sure that they are completely mislead.
I’ve been working with some friends to collect a lot of background material on the Hare Krishnas. That’s an ongoing process and takes a lot of time. We all much rather get on with our lives but we also have a strong desire to let others share in our knowledge of the destructive power of this particular organisation. None of us have even started looking at editing Wikipedia yet, because that would be a full time job.
Anyways. Wikimania will be great fun. Let me know if you’re going. And if not, why the hell not?