Binns page on Wikipedia battle ground of guerrilla editing
CanWest News Service
Political forces on Prince Edward Island have been waging a propaganda war on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, by hijacking the website's biography of P.E.I. Premier Pat Binns.
Wikipedia.org, the self-styled "free encyclopedia" that anyone with an Internet connection can make contributions to or edit, purports to offer factual, impartial accounts of its subjects.
But in recent months the Wikipedia entry for Binns has turned into a battleground between Conservatives, Liberals and special interests on the island in advance of a looming provincial election.
Since January, the biography for Canada's longest serving current premier has been written and rewritten dozens of times, mostly by anonymous users, alternately painting Binns as either the saviour of P.E.I., or the source of its ills.
At the height of the Wiki-editing war this month, one anonymous opponent even posted a libelous allegation. This followed months of guerrilla editing in which Binns was hailed, without factual substantiation, as having presided over "record economic growth," and "record investments in health care, education and community development."
At one point, the biography also stated that Binns was "a friendly and approachable premier." Yet, no sooner were nice words written about him than nasty ones were edited into their place.
The only participant in the war of words to sign his name to any of the edits has been Stephen Pate, a disability activist, who weighed in with a critique of the P.E.I. government's treatment of disabled people.