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Unpublished Paper
The Changes in the Republican Presidential Candidates' Wikipedia Articles Leading Up to Super Tuesday 2012
(2012)
  • Matthew R. Cox, Kent State University - Kent Campus
Abstract
Throughout its more than 11 years of existence, many librarians, professors, and teachers, among countless others, have been wary of Wikipedia due to its seemingly unregulated nature and the fact that anyone can make changes to its articles. Although many of these justifiably skeptical professionals have become more accepting of Wikipedia as a good source for finding a general overview of a topic, there continues to be a great deal of distrust in the site’s accuracy. Articles on politicians and controversial issues are often seen as even less reliable than other types of articles since they are thought of as particularly attractive targets for vandalism by those who do not agree with the individuals or concepts that serve as the subject. By the time that the campaign for the 2012 Republican nomination for president reached March 6—Super Tuesday—four candidates remained in the race: Newt Gingrich, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives; Ron Paul, a member of the House of Representatives and former presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party; Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts; and Rick Santorum, a former member of the Senate. For this paper, I examined the revision histories of the Wikipedia articles for these four candidates for the period beginning on February 21 and ending on March 7 in order to include any revisions that were made soon after the March 6 election results were announced. I looked for instances in which inaccurate, misleading, or malicious information was added and observed how long it took for that information to be removed. I also studied the other changes that were made, such as the addition of new information, the removal of existing information, and the rewriting of passages of text, and attempted to identify any major similarities or differences in the treatment of the four articles. I concluded that the articles were generally reliable since vandalism was removed very quickly and questionable information was usually removed or revised fairly quickly. Not many changes were made due to current events. A large number of the revisions that were done involved issues of word choice, punctuation, and formatting and did not affect the substantive content of the articles.
Keywords
  • Wikipedia,
  • government,
  • politics,
  • politicians,
  • 2012,
  • primary,
  • president,
  • presidential,
  • Republican,
  • Newt Gingrich,
  • Ron Paul,
  • Mitt Romney,
  • Rick Santorum
Publication Date
December, 2012
Citation Information
Matthew R. Cox. "The Changes in the Republican Presidential Candidates' Wikipedia Articles Leading Up to Super Tuesday 2012" (2012)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/matthew_cox/1/