Saturday, April 12, 2008

Wikinews: A credible news source?

According to reports, authorities in Belgium have seized documents, financial records and computer equipment from the local branch of the Church of Scientology (Church) and then sealed off the building.

Now these reports so far, other than Wikinews, have only been reported in Dutch and French. Wikinews, although international, has the only English written news article on this situation.

I wrote it I admit. I also submitted it to This in my opinion was a hot story and would likely receive rave reviews from Digg users. I was wrong.

It seems that many accounts decided to 'bury' the story, enough to the point that Digg placed a tag on it stating that "Warning: The Content in this Article May be Inaccurate. Readers have reported that this story contains information that may not be accurate."

Now I read all the sources used in the Wikinews article. I even had to get them translated to do so. All these reports are from credible news sources and not some hole in the wall blog writer who wants to be popular for 15 minutes. These papers would not print let alone run a story on their sites, if it was "inaccurate."

I was really mad, so I e-mailed Digg to see what the problem was. I got a response, but one I would consider to be gibberish and nothing but an excuse.

"If a story has been repeatedly buried by the Digg community, with the reason being that it is inaccurate, a message is automatically added next to the story indicating that it may be inaccurate. If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to contact u," said the e-mail from Digg.

"With the reason being that it is inaccurate..." Well if anyone actually took the time to click on the link and read the article, they would see that it is not inaccurate. My experience on digg is that these articles are loved. They get enormous diggs and people like them. So what stopped this one from making it to the front page? Well take one guess.

What or who would go through so much trouble, to register a massive amounts of buries on this article? I am not going to name any specific organization, but I can imagine anyone reading this is suspecting the same thing I am. It would take hundreds of accounts of nothing but buries to make a tag like that appear. This would be done by people who either are trying to stop the story from spreading because it might damage their reputation, or is being buried by people who really just don't read anything at all anywhere.

The second part of this story is eerie. Posts from ligit news sites that mirrored this Wikinews story and are entered into Google News's cache of pages they browse published an article. Not more than 30 minutes after those sites published the Wikinews story, they were removed from Google News one at a time, and only a minute or less apart from each other. Although there is no screen shot of this, anyone watching noticed.

I decided I had enough and was not going to allow this to happen. I e-mailed Google right away and asked what the problem could be and what would cause such a thing to happen. I will admit it could have been technical, but about 20 minutes after sending that letter, both of those sources (From Glosslip and Men's News Daily) re appeared into Google News and one by one.

Is all this a coincidence? I will let you decide.