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Biomedicine in museums

Wikipedia protects the 'Genetics' article, but not the 'Medicine' article

Nick Carr (Rough Type) has an interesting comment about Wikipedia. Referring to an essay in yesterday’s Sunday Times by Noam Cohen, who likens Wikipedia to a city with features like ‘basic civility, trust, cultural acceptance and self-organizing qualities’, Carr points out that policing is an increasingly important feature of the popular online encyclopedia:

It’s the fact that Wikipedia has imposed editorial controls [on certain articles] … restricting who can edit them.

In other words, if you visit a noncontroversial Wikipedia article, like ‘Toothpick’, you are still allowed to edit it. But if you visit articles like ‘Barack Obama’, ‘Islam’, or ‘Sex’ you will find a ‘view source’ tab instead of the usual ‘edit this page’ tab. Trustful self-organisation has been replaced by editorial policing.

Interesting! I’ve never thought about this. So I made a rapid search for ‘Genetics’, ‘Medicine’, ‘Evolution’, ‘RNA’ and ‘DNA’. And guess what — ‘Genetics’, ‘Evolution’ and ‘DNA’ are apparently too contested to be open for bottom-up editing, while ‘Medicine’ and ‘RNA’ are seemingly uncontroversial (so far). See here:


To some extent this is self-evident. I’m not surprised there are thousands of wackos out there who love to infest the Wikipedia article on ‘Evolution’. But why ‘DNA’ and ‘Genetics’ — and not ‘RNA’?

Thomas Söderqvist

Author Thomas Söderqvist

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