A battle raged this week on Wikipedia about the site’s article on disgraced abortion doctor and accused murderer Kermit Gosnell, after a Wikipedia editor suggested that the entire article should simply be deleted outright.
Issues with the page, which was initially fraught with formatting errors, were flagged by the Wikipedia community as early as February 2011.
A single Wikipedia editor later flagged the piece to allow community members to discuss whether the page, which primarily focuses on the allegations of murder and malpractice Gosnell faces, should be deleted. The editor argued that the piece violates Wikipedia’s biography standards by focusing on sensational criminal allegations.
Additionally, the editor said the page should be deleted because Gosnell’s trial is nothing more than a “local multiple-murder story in Pennsylvania.”
Wikipedia’s “Biography of Living Persons” page notes that biographies of living persons “must be written conservatively and with regard to the subject’s privacy.” (RELATED: Read the graphic details of Gosnell’s alleged crimes that national media outlets refused to cover)
“Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a tabloid: it is not Wikipedia’s job to be sensationalist, or to be the primary vehicle for the spread of titillating claims about people’s lives: the possibility of harm to living subjects must always be considered when exercising editorial judgment,” says the page.
According to another Wikipedia page, articles can be deleted by any site administrator if an editor’s suggestion of deleting an article page goes without objection for seven days.
The Wikipedia debate over the relevance of Gosnell’s page sparked anger from some members of the pro-life community, who quickly accused Wikipedia bigwigs of political bias.
“The fact that this article is nominated for deletion when all it clearly needs is some editing exposes [sic] the blatant left wing bias by many who come here under a ruse of neutrality,” said one anonymous Wikipedia contributor on the article’s discussion page.
“This is a typical knee-jerk reaction by far-left zealots to protect the abortion industry at any cost,” the contributor continued, adding that “this kind of thing is why no one takes Wikipedia seriously.”
Pro-life news outlet LifeNews.com also published a piece Friday titled, “Wikipedia Considers Deleting Page Regarding Kermit Gosnell Entry.”
The debate closed late Friday afternoon, with editors coming to overwhelming consensus in support of saving the article from deletion. However, several users agreed that the piece required editing to meet Wikipedia standards. The deletion banner was removed from the article page, and the debate was archived.
Wikimedia Foundation spokesman Matthew Roth told The Daily Caller that Wikipedia has “no editor-in-chief or other hierarchy determining the editorial direction or making editorial decisions.”
The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia.
“When an article is proposed for deletion, the community of volunteer editors will debate the merits of the proposal and determine whether it should be approved,” said Roth.
“In all articles, editors attempt to achieve rigorous neutrality and notability standards and they are especially keen to be balanced on Biographies of Living Persons (BLPs),” he said.