Sunday, August 05, 2018

#Citations - "Verlorene Siegen" and #Wikipedia

The publication The Battle for Wikipedia: The New Age of ‘Lost Victories’? writes about debunked knowledge but used as sources in Wikipedia. Lost Victories is a book by Erich von Manstein, a German military officer convicted at the Nuremberg trials. He served as a witness and there is strong evidence that he perjured himself. He was sentenced to eighteen years in prison

This publication is not only of academic interest. In this day and age where fake facts and science are pervasive, it is a reminder that Wikipedia is a battle ground where debunked sources are used to prove a non-neutral point of view.

One of the objectives of the Wikimedia Foundation is to combat fake facts and use make citations operational as a tool. The main trust will be by adding sources to Wikidata. "Verlorene Siegen" obviously was present but even though there is a large body of work debunking this book, there was nothing to refer either to Mr von Manstein or his book in a critical way.

It was easy enough to add a few individual sources but it takes time. For analysis of sources used in Wikipedia there are dumps containing all the citations of all Wikipedias and now Magnus has started on a tool that initially includes real time sources for the German, English Wikipedia and Wikispecies. Of these publications 36% are linked to Wikidata and this provides a great start but it will take more. We need to know what papers debunked what knowledge. We need to know what papers a Retraction Watch is critical of, or what the relevance of a paper is according to the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews because that is how their facts are operationalised. We need to know because that is one way to debunk fake facts.

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