First up, let’s break down his Wikipedia page:
Curbing (are we just euphemizing this word yet?) digital misinformation that is fed to us by people we may not know?
We’re fighting against it not only because it’s fundamentally unfair and unfair to people trying to share their own truth with others, but because we know that misinformation is, at its core, just a lie. So, I’m committed to quickly moving the community forward in this area. But you have to set goals, and my team and I have been setting up some concrete goals that will help with how we improve in this area. I also promise, and will be accountable to the community, that I will never compromise on accuracy, but that the community needs to be the ones to drive the edge.
One question I get a lot is, how can Wikipedia maintain its neutrality and neutrality even as the topics covered on the website are subject to an increasing amount of self-edited content, thus elevating the fact-checking function that other news organizations and others use? That’s a great question.
And here is my response: Neutrality requires understanding, and in particular, understanding for us to be able to approach a subject on the facts. To understand that this is a difference between the words I’m using, the media that I am watching, and what I’m reading. So, before we talk about whether it’s important to “censor” parts of Wikipedia, what it would take to accomplish that and what kind of consensus we’ll need in order to do it, you need to understand why it’s important to understand how Wikipedia works. We’re all human beings with our biases, as are our users.
I’m sorry that some people may be angry. I’m sorry that some people will find the neutrality of Wikipedia a source of sometimes obvious offence. And I’m sorry that these things may make people trust me less, and trust less of me, and those things they will have to live with.
And, in a related vein, I’m sorry that some people won’t like my news sense. I actually have a really good news sense. It’s driven by my research and by looking at the news every day, talking to colleagues, and in this case — listening. We can learn a lot from people who are the expert sources of this kind of information, and from journalists.
I want to do my part. I want to put the expertise of those people we know and trust to work on issues that matter and working with people who write and edit wikipedia, working to increase inclusivity, narrowing the gap between the world’s poorest and richest citizens, developing innovative technology to stop slavery, working on non-profit collaborative Wikipedia where writing/editing/search is free and open, and keeping political bias out of my editorial decision-making. And we have to do this in ways that respect democracy and human rights, and respect the values that undergird that democracy. And I can’t do it alone, and while this is a difficult journey, I’m committed to it.
For more information and about Susan Collins, check out her website here.
Editor’s note: Dr. Lister Beers, a respected English professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and a researcher at the State University of New York at Buffalo, will become the sixth administrator of Wikipedia on November 1. Learn more about her here.