Monday, May 21, 2007

Wikipedia wrong about Bocking

Wikipedia wrong about Bocking
By Phil Melnychuk
Staff Reporter
May 19 2007

Federal New Democrat candidate Mike Bocking is fuming over a description about him on the Wikipedia website that describes him as "having a history of failure" and someone who has "control over local media, in particular the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News."

"My only comment is this kind of dirty tricks stuff has no place in Canadian politics," Bocking said.

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia written collaboratively by volunteers. The articles can be edited by anyone with Internet access.

The entry on the Wikipedia website was originally posted May 8 and says it's "very abnormal" for the same failed candidate to run in three consecutive elections.

The entry also says that as a result of his full-time job as president of Local 2000 of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, which represents workers at The News, Bocking "has been asked to respond to comments by incumbent Randy Kamp on an issue before they are published.

"This essentially gives Bocking a voice within the community," although he's currently not an MP and "is entitled to no more say than the average citizen."

But just as quickly as it appeared, the page was deleted May 16. An explanation from Wikipedia said the article appeared to have been created as an attack page, "with negative and controversial statements without reference to reliable published sources."

Bocking has won the NDP nomination three times, each time defeating a rival in a nomination vote. He's been the New Democrat candidate in federal elections in June 2004 and January 2006 and recently won the party's nomination a third time.

He lost to Kamp, the Conservative MP in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission, in the past two elections.

Local NDP members wouldn't like to hear that party brass OK'd his candidacy, Bocking said.

His campaign manager, Dave McPherson, said the webpage was the work of a political person, adding that it was "preposterous" that Bocking could influence the media.

He learned of the reference through a Google alert, set up to notify him of references to Bocking on the Internet.

Who posted the comments, however, is impossible to ascertain as the log just shows the Internet provider name of Nick8670.

Michael Hall, editor of The News, says the newspaper's relationship with Bocking is limited to his role as an NDP candidate.

Neither Kamp nor his office had any part in the Wikipedia writeup, said Kamp's constituency assistant, Mark Strahl.

"Wikipedia, unfortunately, is open to this sort of thing. Nothing to do with our office," Strahl said.

He pointed out that people have changed Kamp's entry on Wikipedia as well, adding mischievous comments, which he later deleted.

Strahl said he also made one change to Bocking's page, correcting the name of the riding. Because Bocking is the NDP candidate in the riding, Kamp's office monitors Bocking's media coverage, Strahl said.

"Anyone can edit these things, which makes it open to misuse," Strahl said of the Wikipedia website.

"I'm glad it's been removed."

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