Wikipedia's reputation in doubt

A former Tennessee newspaper publisher has challenged the accuracy and ethics of the free, user-written Wikipedia online encyclopedia. John Seigenthaler, 78, said he was shocked to see the write-up on him by an anonymous contributor that claimed he "was thought to have been directly involved in the Kennedy assassinations of both John and his brother Bobby."

Seigenthaler, the former editor of The Tennessean newspaper, wrote in USA Today he had learned that the writer was a customer of BellSouth Internet, but that federal privacy laws shield the identity of Internet customers, even if they disseminate defamatory material. And the laws protect online corporations from libel suits.

Seigenthaler decided against going to court, but wrote "that Wikipedia is a flawed and irresponsible research tool."

His biography has since been corrected.

The non-profit enterprise was launched in January 2001, the brainchild of Jimmy Wales, 39, a former futures and options trader who lives in Florida. The site receives 2.5 billion page views a month, and offers at least 1,000 articles in 82 languages, UPI reports.


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