The big debate right now in the US government is “Who knew what when”.  The Democrats are playing a high stakes gambling game … higher than even the “big jackpot” from a gambling website like online casino South Africa.  The problem is that they lost everything, and they do not even realize it.

The Democrats forgot something in their little game of politics.  It goes by the name of Wikipedia.  If something can be found on Wikipedia, it is in the public domain and everybody knows that information.  So there is no “Trump hid this from the Democrats or the American people or anybody else.”

As the saying goes, “What happens on Wikipedia stays on Wikipedia.”  You can try to hide something, but it never goes away.  If you have enough perseverance and determination it is in the history pages for anybody to see.

Can anybody trust Wikipedia?

Normally, I would say no, because anybody can write articles.  Nobody knows for sure if what has been written is actually true, has other sources to back it up, or is plain old scams or spams.

Under normal circumstances, I tell my children, if they are looking at anything beyond the episode list of the Simpsons cartoon, that they can trust the Infobox and the resources listed on the bottom of the page.  I also tell them to look at the talk page, because you can get an understanding of what was or was not included in the article.  This is important for a controversial article, article about a current political figure, etc.

What is different about the Coronavirus pandemic compared to articles about the current US Presidential election?

The answer is China.  In the US, we have freedom of speech.  People may disagree on what exactly Freedom of Speech means, but for the most part, free speech exists on the internet.

Yes, Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc are current censoring posts.  They claim that it is to protect the public, but other claim that those companies are playing speech police.  Even with this, people in the US are free to just create their own version of these types of sites, or even their own personal blogs.  But back to Free Speech and China.

There is zero freedom of speech in China.  Doctors that tried to warn the public about COVID-19 were put in jail.  Social Media posts were deleted.  There are rumors of other stuff, but that is another story.

The only place that China could not delete information about COVID-19 during the months of January and February was Wikipedia.  Especially during January, this was true.

China lied to its citizens.  China lied to its world.  China lied to the World Health Organization.  The only place that China could not lie to was the archives of Wikipedia.

So a strange thing has happened.  Normally, Wikipedia is the last place a person would look to find the “truth”, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, the archives of Wikipedia during the months January and February of 2020 seem to be the one source that actually did have the truth.  But that truth is like trying to find a need in a haystack.  It is there, but it takes a bit of effort to find it.

But this leads to a more important question.

Is Wikipedia’s Standards and format of Articles the best choice for a current events, fast pace topic, like the COVID-19 pandemic?

My personal answer to that question is “No”.  In medical articles, Wikipedia’s standard is to not accept original research and findings by a private doctor that need to be peer reviewed and published in a reputable medical journal.  That is a great standard for something like Small Pox where vaccines were first invented during the American Revolution.  But it does not seem to work so well for a current pandemic that has traveled around the world at the pace that it has.

What format should current event articles use?

This is my personal opinion on this topic.  I think that current event topics need to have two articles.  One of the main article, which is the one that is intended to “withstand the test of time” and all of the other stuff that Wikipedia (and the readers) expect from a Wikipedia / encyclopedia article.

But I also thinnk that there needs to be a notes version of these articles.  What I am envisioning is similar to Fox News’ “Live Blog” style of articles that Fox News used for the Trump Impeachment Trial and currently uses for Election Primaries (on the day they happen).  Here is a link to an example of a primary one:  https://www.foxnews.com/elections/2020/primary-results/live-blog

The Live Blog format is used as the event is happening, so people can see the data as it is being learned.  It is not like comments, because people cannot comment on each individual mini blog entry.  But they do have comments at the every end.  This is also not meant to record the reporter’s opinion or analysis of what is happening.  It is just intended to report the information.

Right now, because information is being posted that is “not encyclopedic” or “doesn’t have secondary sources” or whatever else, critical information is being lost.  The information is there (and it is important), but it is worse than trying to find a needle in a haystack.  Because with trying to find a needle in a haystack, at least you know that you are trying to find the needle.  With what is currently going on with Wikipedia and its COVID-19 articles, the needle may be there or it may not be there.

One person can say, “I found it”, but than the next person says, “But nobody else ‘found it’”, so they through it back into the haystack.  The cycle than repeats itself, again, and again, and again, and again.

When things are all said and done, some of the “data” is going to turn out to be garbage.  But nobody at the current time can tell us what is garbage and what is not garbage.

But what about President Trump asking about bleach being used as a cure for Coronavirus?  Should that be a current events Wikipedia article?

Good question.  Is Trump’s question garbage or a valid question?  Most people would say, “It was an idiotic question.” (Republican or Democrat)

But let’s look a little deeper.  In Madagascar, a company is selling a “miracle cure” for treating the coronavirus. Guess what the “magic” ingredient is?  If you guessed bleach, you would be correct.  Are people stupid enough to actually drink bleach thinking it will cure them of coronavirus?  Unfortunately, the answer to that question is, “Yes, there are people that are that stupid.”

But is this stupidity just happening in Madagascar?  Unfortunately, the answer is no.  There was a company in Florida that was trying to sell the same product through Facebook and other social media sites.  The Federal Government was made aware of this, and the Federal government ordered the dangerous ads be taken down, and the company is being dealt with.

Now back to the question of “Was Trump’s comments stupid and he never should have said them?”  Guess how much newsites wrote about the dangers of taking internally to cure coronavirus?  If you guessed zero, you would be correct.  Guess how much covered the media did about the dangers of taking bleach internally after Trump’s comments?  If you guessed over three days of news coverage, you would be correct.

On the one hand, it was a stupid question that Trump asked.  On the other hand, there are stupid people, in Madagascar and in the US, that were stupid enough to actually drink bleach thinking it was going to cure them of coronavirus.  Just because somebody puts it in a fancy bottle and it gives it a fancy name, at the end of the day, it is still bleach and drinking it will still kill you.

Summary

Wikipedia current events topics need “Live Blog” style articles.  Then when  the current event becomes “History”, the article should be converted to a standard article.  Maybe the naming format can be:

  • “COVID-19 Treatments” — Article that is intended to withstand the test of time, following Wikipedia’s standards for medical articles.
  • “COVID-19 Treatments (Live Blog Notes)” — Live blog notes article.
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