Apparently, being one of Bobby Harrell’s lapdogs isn’t enough to keep you out of hot water with Wikipedia.
Over this past weekend, the online encyclopedia labeled the efforts of a certain Foster6685 to sugar coat the House speaker’s Wikipedia entry as “vandalism.” While Wikipedia doesn’t specifically identify who Foster6685 is, Harrell’s right-hand man is an individual named Greg Foster.
In addition to puffing up Harrell’s biography with a hagiography that would have made Mother Theresa blush, Foster6685 also deleted factual information from Harrell’s Wikipedia biography detailing the speaker’s issues with Gov. Mark Sanford and their different approaches to economic development.
For example, Foster6685 deleted this paragraph on two occasions:
Among Harrell’s biggest focuses has been in the area of hydrogen and fuel cell research – claiming that “South Carolina is on the edge of what could become a multitrillion-dollar industry over the next 20 years – the beginning of a hydrogen revolution.” However, results have been spotty, as the South Carolina Policy Council has pointed out. More than $40 million in tax dollars have been invested in hydrogen research in the South Carolina Midlands alone, with the net result being the creation of a couple hundred jobs, according to information released by the Speaker’s Office.
For his heavy-handed efforts, Wikipedia identified Foster6685’s work as vandalism. Wikipedia defines vandalism as “any addition, removal, or change of content made in a deliberate attempt to compromise the integrity of Wikipedia.”
Wikipedia even went so far as to send a message to Foster6685 on Aug. 22: “Welcome to Wikipedia. I notice that you removed content from Robert W. Harrell, Jr.. However, Wikipedia is not censored to remove content that might be considered objectionable. Please do not remove or censor information that is relevant to the article.”
The concept of Wikipedia is to pull together existing knowledge into an area where viewers can access it easily with a reasonable expectation that it’s correct.
When individuals such as Foster6685 try to abuse Wikipedia for political gain, it cheapens the open-source concept, and is deceptive and dishonest. Kudos for Wikipedia for ferreting out Foster6685 and his attempts to mislead the public.