Wade Rathke, founder of the infamous Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), is attempting to galvanize union members into a mass Wikipedia editing campaign designed to make the online encyclopedia more friendly to Big Labor’s cause.
In a Wednesday blog post, Rathke, who resigned as ACORN’s chief organizer during a 2008 embezzlement scandal, proposed “draf[ing] folks from the communications departments of various national and international unions for the project.” The goal would be to counter “attack[s] from conservatives and corporate shills and web-workers who ‘manage’ their social media presence.”
Noting a recent piece by Derek Blackadder, a columnist for the labor journal Our Times, Rathke wrote:
Blackadder for his part calls for a “Wikipedia Labor Initiative” where a dedicated band of volunteers would team-up to scour the Wiki-world to right wrongs and correct inaccuracies. For labor unions in Canada and perhaps the United States, this might work if they drafted folks from the communications departments of various national and international unions for the project so it was something more than a one-off, when-I-have-a-minute exercise. The capacity exists for the fix there. For the rest of the progressive forces less well resourced and staffed, it is likely a harder slog to find some flat ground where only the facts can stand…
The harder job of not just restoring some entries to reality but pushing some of the slants so they are able to stand straight is critical. I hope our folks have the endurance and take this notion seriously before the fiction becomes so settled in the Wiki-world that there is no longer the prospect for facts or truths in that world.
While Rathke and Blackadder see a bias against labor in Wikipedia’s user-edited entries, the site actually leans left, according to data collected by political media firm Engage. Even Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has noted, “the Wikipedia community is slightly more liberal than the U.S. population on average.”
Rathke is one of the country’s most prominent “community organizers.” The Wikipedia-editing effort appears to be an attempt to bring left-wing activism tactics into the digital space, which continues to play an ever-larger role in Americans’ efforts to access information.