Wikipedia’s Blog Problem

Benjamin Wittes, editor-in-chief of Brookings’ Lawfare blog, and colleague Stephanie Leutert tried to edit the Wikipedia page for “Lawfare”:

Rather to our surprise, our edits were almost immediately undone; the material we added was, literally within minutes, removed. The reason? The disreputable nature of blogs. Wikipedia is, as we shall explain, somewhat inconsistent on this point, but as to the word “lawfare,” it enforced its no-personal-blog rule with a brutal kind of rigor. The consequences are bizarre: As a result of this rule, Wikipedia denies its readers access to the thoughts of an active-duty brigadier general who currently serves as chief prosecutor of the U.S. military commissions, as well as those of a Harvard Law School professor who happens to be among the world’s most renowned national security law scholars. …

There is an almost comic irony here: Wikipedia, an experiment in new media that has succeeded beyond anyone’s imagination, is so prejudiced against new media that it cannot see value in an active duty military officer’s blogging from Afghanistan. The site’s greatest strength—its ability to flexibly construct knowledge as events occur and new sources emerge—is ultimately undermined by its inability to provide clear and flexible guidelines that allow common-sense source judgments.