Is Wikipedia Really a Steaming Turd?

I have to preface this by saying, this is an editorial, and thus, it is classified under editorials where the opinions of editors are perfectly valid and aren’t being hailed as serious journalism — hence, too, the irreverent pun of a title.

That said, considering that DORway is one of the first and largest anti-aspartame sites on the Web, I recently tried to get DORway mentioned on a Wiki article about aspartame controversy – that’s it. I just wanted the site included as a player in this arena, as my father worked very hard to inform the public about this health issue.  As a side note, it’s important to point out that Wikipedia has two articles about aspartame – one that’s a “Rah, rah, go aspartame!” version and another that’s SUPPOSED to be a fair outline of the controversy surrounding aspartame and its road to approval. I didn’t even bother going for the aforementioned article, as it seemed a long shot after reading its tone.  I have to admit that after reading as much of the background discussion as I could tolerate, I was a bit incensed and went into it without my usual composure. In fact, I think the title to my initial query was “You’ve got to be kidding!” Anyway, I wasn’t asking the powers that be to claim our side of the controversy is right. I just wanted to establish the simple fact that DORway has been an integral part of this controversy and, as such, should be included in the controversy article.  I was promptly chastised, told that we (DORway) weren’t legit, that they would not give us a voice in the debate. It’s also important to note that while they don’t consider us worth mentioning, they have no problem linking to documents on our site. OK, so as the “discussion” proceeded, no matter what argument I presented, a giant Wikipedian ruler came down on my proverbial hand. “No, no!” the Wiki demi-Gods said, “Aspartame good, DORway bad!” So I gave up.

Then I got a letter from a well-meaning soul who was banned because he, too, was trying to get a fair representation of both sides of the argument (funny how it doesn’t matter how much reputable science sits squarely on the “anti” side of the aspartame controversy, it’s just not good enough for Wiki). The editors of Wikipedia, in my humble opinion, are wearing glasses about as thickly shaded with agenda as is possible. And before you point that analogy back in my direction and say that I have an agenda as well, I’ll save you the trouble. Of course I do. The difference is that I’m not busy taping over anyone else’s mouth or furiously erasing their perspectives with a giant Web eraser. And I’m not running a giant social artifice that, in spite of its self-proclaimed purity of purpose in the world of scientific debate, has been accused of being little more than another cog in the wheel of the corporate machinery. Whether or not Wikipedia is guilty of what people accuse them of is for you to decide, but I can tell you that, as the editorial director for a number of magazines (none of them related to aspartame), I have fired editors for using Wikipedia as a source. In the world of reputable journalistic publications, they are largely considered unquotable and unworthy of citation.

So I was bored one day, and as bored people do in 2011, I was surfing the Web. And I found this great article titled “Wikipedia is a Joke.” I already knew that, but still, I wanted to see why these other people thought so, too. The article has absolutely nothing to do with aspartame, but everything to do with Wikipedia’s epic fail as a reliable source.

From the article: “Any moron can, with a few mouse clicks, post anything at all he wants.” And, “You may think that the truth will win out, that the “good” editors will gang up on the vandals and expend more energy fixing mistakes and improving articles than the vandals spend wrecking them.Well, you sure are naive!”

I couldn’t have said it better.  Here’s a particularly funny comment from the article, although the article is worth reading for yourself:

“You are 100% right on. Wikipedia is a worthless, steaming turd. One that is monitored 24/7 (just like you state) by kooks with biased political, social, personal, religious, etc… agendas. And while they can cite the most obscure editorial from the most insignificant, incredibly arcane website to support their opinions, 1/2 a dozen credible references are not good enough to dispute their inane babblings.”

And another: “Wikipedia is biased, inaccurate and unreliable – not just because “anyone can edit it” but also because of the small army of volunteer editors, who are given additional powers. Each one operates his/her own little fiefdom and seems to take delight in twisting the site in their own personal direction”

And another: “I used to think Wikipedia was okay (although was always aware the information could be unreliable) but recently have come to really hate Wikipedia. They say anyone can edit the material, but that’s a blatant lie – my changes are always removed and the “information” put back to how it was. Also, they pride themselves on the site being uncensored (and no-one’s against freedom of speech right?) but, in my opinion, this results in some very dodgy statements (and pictures) being submitted – and good luck trying to get them removed! Ironically, my efforts seem to be continually censored! What a joke!”

Yeah, funny stuff.  And boy does it feel infinitely better to take the occasional break from raging against the machine to just look at the lighter side of life … especially when it evokes a bit of a bathroom humor. At eight, my son would have thought it was pretty funny.  Come to think of it, he probably would at 26, too. After all, sometimes it pays to look at life through the guileless eyes of babes.

Sidenote: Although I firmly believe everyone has a right to an opinion and a voice, recent comments here resorted to a very unproductive tone and, after considering it carefully, I believe these type of comments do nothing but undermine the spirit of why this site exists. I removed them and, unfortunately, have closed comments on this article. If you have questions, feel free to email them.

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About Tanya

Tanya is a bestselling novelist and award-winning journalist. She's led the editorial staffs of several parenting publications and Web based editorial, including AOL/ Huffington Post.
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23 Responses

  1. Bummer. I guess your blog doesnt matter, and wikipedia won’t let you promote there.

    • For the record, DORway doesn’t need Wikipedia, but I would have really appreciated a mention for my father, without a link back, or even without a mention for DORway if they absolutely cannot bear the idea of being objective. I’m guessing by your very biased, anonymous comment you’re one of the editors there. Notice we didn’t delete your snide, backlash comment, despite that you don’t even have the gumption or courage to stand by it.

      • I call it wicked pedia! They edit my emails.
        Legal tender is legal slavery. I was explaining.
        They made a link out of “legal tender” and put
        the standard garbage in it. They have done this
        many times I do not know how to stop them other
        than use a differnt email. See what a nationally
        known minister said:

        Tanya, I had a conversation with your father
        about 2 years before he died and I have sent
        your link to a great number. My 2 daughters
        love diet soda, one graduated cum laud from
        Med school and married a millionaire’s son.
        She loves me but won’t let this high school drop-
        out tell her anything. She is slim, her sister is
        obese. Slim daughter of fat one is a nurse and
        had miscarriage, 2 months after that, I saw her
        still drinking diet soda. Her brother and his wife
        are both pharmacists who like diet soda, they
        just got a healthy baby but will not communicate
        with me. They live about 300 miles from me.
        See Bill Gates plan for us:

        • Hi… Just to say: wikipedia is the largest homework provider for my country (mexico) and thats it… wikipedia has no valid point, i would trust some strange over what wikipedia says… and i think, i may get wrong some times… but trusting wikipedia just ‘because its big’ would be worst…

          Wikipedia had lied many times… if you try to fix it… you get banned and called ‘cyberbully’ … so i agree, wikipedia is really streaming turd.. or as we call it in spanish: mierda…

          Have a nice day

  2. If every person with a cause and a blog (and a dad) were allowed to demand recognition on wikipedia, imagine what it would look like. Every article would have an endless list of links and mentions. Imagine the hotbed of promotion and scams and attempts to profit that would create!

    Wikipedia is the way it is for a reason.

    The people that rant Wikipedia often have an agenda, theory or product to promote that’s ignored by the wider world. Often it is ignored for a reason. Read the policies, and think about the reasons behind them.

    • There’s so much I could say, but, I’ve said enough. I’m not even going to bother to point out that while you won’t give my father the respect that’s due him, you’ll happily link to resources on a site you claim doesn’t matter. Oh, sorry, did I just casually mention it anyway despite that I said I wouldn’t? Oops.

      I don’t respect Wikipedia, their very biased policies or the editors who post there. And it’s clear I’m not alone. While there might be a few editors there with good intentions, overall, I see nothing worthy of respect, and if it suits you to see it that way — that those who just want the truth reported fairly somehow want something more than to see justice done — and if it makes you feel better about yourself to report in a biased manner, have at it. I’ll continue to do what I do, and you can continue to do what you do there at Wikipedia. Just do me a favor. Sign up with your real name and stand by your convictions. We won’t allow another anonymous reply.

    • “If every person with a cause and a blog (and a dad) were allowed to demand recognition on wikipedia, imagine what it would look like.”

      But “every person with a cause and a blog (and a dad)” is NOT demanding recognition on wikipedia, ARE they? You also ignored the fact that wikipedia links to articles on this site and that the opposing view regarding aspartame is deliberately avoided.

      “Wikipedia is the way it is for a reason.”

      That’s right. And the reason is because they’ve allowed an inside group of individuals with industry ties to monopolize a site that presents itself as a portal of encyclopedic information. Even people using peer-reviewed scientifically-based information are squeezed out when it goes against the prevailing agenda.

    • Wikipedia is severely biased to the left, to support the status quo, and is rife with political correctness. The truth, just like so many other sites which purport to tell the truth (Snopes comes to mind), are edited by control freaks on the left who will not tolerate dissent. They are of one hive mind and will not tolerate anything which they consider as conflicting with their world view. They are no better than Fox news, but rather just a mirror image of the same type of snide, control obsessed, self-appointed arbiters of what their version of the truth. Don’t post your disingenuous duplicitous garbage here, anyone with a brain and a sense of ethics can see through your transparent protests, as backed up by the content of the stinking beast called Wikipedia’s.

  3. Yes Wikipedia IS A steaming Turd!
    Try posting anything in Wikipedia about holistic healing,alternative medicine and it will get deleted bigtime. Try to edit what the wikipedia rhetoric has already posted and you get deleted and banned from posting. Any corrections regards holistic meds get shafted,no surprize your having difficulty posting the real facts about how toxic aspartame is.

    • The sad thing is, Gtyler … I don’t even want them to take a stand with me. I just wanted them to report fairly. I found it very interesting that they would post links to my dad’s articles, but his name and the name of his Web site isn’t allowed to be mentioned. They threw digs at me in regards to my father’s contribution to this cause didn’t matter, and yet they spend, literally, months discussing him, his role and whether to include him (in their discussion pages). Unreal. They are so full of agenda that it screams bribery. That’s my take.

      • There was a commercial (an ad on tv) that said something that we should forget logic and science because they were from the ages of old grece…

        That add if i recall well… was posted by coke…

        media will always lie…

        Btw i came to this site to see the list of products that contain this substance…

        I have a concentration matter… related to certain drink.. its like i need it to focus… i ingest it and my mood changes.. kind of like beind drug addict but drinking it just makes me ‘normal’ i dont get high or what ever… i read its ingredient label and its very obfuscated….

        If the things has that level of corruption in usa…i really think.. i should be paranoid about what we ingest here in mexico…

  4. Sadly, most, even alternative media, are not better.

    I realized problem of wikipedia when i was looking for information i have seen there, but was edited away. It was about reasons why Rudolf Diesel made his engine run using vegetable oil. His motivation, his dream was edited out — and that was making people independent of oil lobby (which, as he recognized, got controlled by group of evil people). He wanted African nations to get improve agriculture and to make theirs own fuel and food.

    Soon after that one my attempt to edit another page ended marked as ‘vandalism’ by a not very smart man on powertrip.

    I lately found out why… Wikipedia has official policy stating that truth doesnt matter.
    They only care if there are reliable sources stating that line. And reliable sources are … you can guess who. Old intelectual prostitutes from main stream media. Some local media or people are not important for them. Thats why wikipedia is going the path it is. Its just another NWO tool, where people police each other to be in compliance with what is told to us via the biggest propaganda machine. This makes me sad.,_not_truth

  5. Dear Tanyaannecrosby,
    Great points. I was doing some research on aspartame for my healthblog as the ESFA (European Food Safety Autority) is doing a reevaluation of aspartame’s health safety.
    I live in France and read both French and English. Found it shocking that the Wikipedia site published in English had no discussion/links to the recent (late 2010) studies/controversy on asparatame.
    Whereas the French Wikipedia does give reference to these studies and pointing out that both the French health authorities & EFSA found the studies flawed. At least these studies were mentioned.
    I will link your website in my article to help show both sides of the story. Impatient for the results on the EFSA reevaluation.
    Personally, we try chez nous (at my house) to avoid as much as possible artificial colors, sweeteners, additives-and rarely (never) does aspartame hit our bodies.
    Best, Mary Brighton

    • Good for the French version, Mary! Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to get “the other side” even mentioned on the English version. Sometime, just for kicks, take a look at the “discussion tab” on the American version. If you peek in ongoing, you’ll see how hard they try to justify not even mentioning the actual controversy.

      • Hi Tanya,
        I just looked at the discussion site on Wikipedia. Yes, very interesting. Just as a side note, I went back to the French site and reread again all the controversy section. What I found interesting, which is not addressed on the English version is the circle on Searle/Donald Rumsfeld and how aspartame finally got approved in 1981, against scientific evidence.
        Now, I haven’t read your whole website, but is this true? That it was due to connections between Searle, Rumsfeld and the new FDA chairperson that this product finally got approved? Maybe you can send me a link from the page on this website. It seems controversial…and I am sure that it has been written up here or in another website. Would love to read about that, and also to be sure that Wikipedia on the French version is not overdoing things.

        • Mary,

          There are more than 800 pages on this site, some are still being moved into the new format since my father’s death. You can start with these, and if you want additional info, check the About Aspartame and Aspartame History areas (top links). I can also dive in and get you more links if necessary.

          An article where I answer some of the questions we get:

          A video that directly addresses Rumsfeld’s involvement:

          A general timeline of aspartame’s history (compiled by my father, I believe):

        • Oh! And that’s just the CURRENT discussion. The discussion on that tab is archived often. The particular discussion I had with them is probably in that archive.

          • Thank you Tanya,
            Will read up on everything. Very sorry to hear about your father’s passing. He sounds like a very passionate, smart and dedicated human being. I am sure you deeply miss him.
            Thank you again for the information. Will take a good read on it.
            Continued success, Mary

  6. I know the feeling too well! I just love it when I pretty much write a whole book with very reliable information (while deleting the UNreliable stuff) on that enraging website, only to find it was edited! Most of the time it is about the silliest things, too. It really agitates me when it is something dumb like a birthday or something like that. It makes me sooo mad…..
    So basically what I’m saying is thank you for this post, it made my day!!!