After all they've done for truthiness...
On this evening's Colbert Report (yeah, that's what I do when Lady C is out of town, watch recently Tivo'd shows at 1:30 in the morning), Colbert asked his viewers to revise entries on African elephants to say that the population of African elephants have grown in the last decade or so and I notice that if you search for "African elephants", all the initial entries are currently under semi-protected status due to acts of vandalism.
Wikipedia, like Mel Gibson, is not having the Best Week Ever. Just last week I read this piece in The Onion and this article in the New Yorker.
Now, I really like Wikipedia. I've defended it before and visit it pretty frequently. When I want to know something like what else Robert W. Chambers wrote besides The King in Yellow or when James Rhodes first appeared in Iron Man comics I'll check it out on Wikipedia, but I wouldn't rely on it for any important information. The really neat thing about Wikipedia, as I see it, is its role as an experiment in self-organized systems. It is rather impressive that such a vast and decentralized group of contributors have collectively produced so many entries about so many topics in such a short space of time, but we've also learned, I think, that the accuracy and thoroughness of such a decentralized system depends on its editors' tastes for accuracy and thoroughness.
It shouldn't surprise anyone that the Wikipedia entry on The Matrix movies is longer than the entry on matrices. Likewise, some subjects are just too controversial, too contested, to ever be reliable under such a system. My rule of thumb for deciding whether to credit a Wikipedia article is to do so when I would expect to be told reliable information on a subject if I were to ask a stranger who'd told me s/he was interested in the subject. The real question is, why would someone volunteer to write/edit a Wikipedia entry? For some subjects, the likely motivation is to share their accumulated knowledge, born of pure enthusiasm (known in some quarters as geekishness). In other cases, people are interested in shaping other people's perspectives to conform to their own. You can never know for sure what motivated a particular entry, or even how warranted a person's confidence in being well-versed enough to write an entry, but you can make some educated guesses.
Still, you can never really know for sure what subject someone will want to mess with. I think I'll try to edit the entry on the African Bush Elephant.