Wikipedia Op-Ed Piece – “Prostitution in Canada”

canadian-parliament

         The Wikipedia article titled “Prostitution in Canada” is highly problematic. The reason it is so problematic is because this topic can easily include bias depending on personal opinion. It is stated in the “talk” section of the entry that there are certain users who are editing with improper or biased information on a regular basis. This becomes a very relevant issue because the discussion of prostitution in Canada is currently in the federal and provincial level courts.

         In order for pages like this to be successful, as well as reliable for scholarly information (which was a popular discussion in the Royal, C. & Kapila, D. reading, as well as the Jensen reading and the several blog entries by students in our group) there has to be no bias. The majority of entries that cover policy and issues in politics should stick to facts rather than opinion. Sometimes this is difficult to decipher, because even the substitution of certain words can create a bias. Not only should bias be eliminated (as much as possible) there has to be adequate citing within the page.

       Issues that have two (blatant) sides of opinion are most likely some of the most controversial on Wikipedia, and remain the reason why the stigma of innacurate information is tagged to the popular site. With two opposite opinions, edits can be made to pages to reflect the emotional or opiniated side of one author, and not with the best interest of the public’s knowledge in mind.

       Though some of the information seems to be biased, it also seems that there is a meaningful and respectful conversation occuring in the “talk” section of this article. Legitimate questions are being asked, and many of the contributors are attempting to mediate between what parts of the articel are biased as well as what parts should be taken out due to lack of in page citation. The editors of this page as well as the public are also putting in an effort to point out the IP addresses of those people who are blatantly editing incorrect or biased information into the page.

        In all, the article seems to hold a bias against prostitution. Many of the cited entries come from readings, websites, and experts who are strictly for abolition of prostitution, which is highly biased and problematic. The base of this issue is that decriminalization of acts around prostitution may lead to a safer environments for the sex workers. The page also attaches prostitution with human trafficking,  which through research has been proven not to be a direct correlation (especially in Canada).  

       After all of this talk about how the article is biased, there are positives to note. Firstly, one of the issues raised in the talk section was no reference to a current case in Canada (“Bedford v. Canada”) and a lack of a page made for this issue. Since that post there has been a post covering the entire case, and a page made devoted to the case. This is very important because if Wikipedia posts are to be reliable they have to keep up with current issues.

        As http://kkuhlblog.wordpress.com/ mentions in their May 27th post, there is definitely a need to double check information discovered on Wikipedia, and this is doubly true when observing policy, politics, or political issues. The ability to look on government pages, or more reputable pages for concise information is very important when dealing with issues that could include bias.

       Given the process in which Wikipedia articles are formed, I believe that they are reliable, taken with a grain of salt. Though there can be biased information (as my specific article choice has proven) usually the information is still valid. When reading a WIkipedia article there is no doubt one can attain enough information to create a conversational opinion, but until there is a clear mediator who is neutral to issues, this website will not be acceptable for academic research. There is however a light at the end of the tunnel when observing the “talk” section of these entries. The fact that conversation exists to attempt to remove bias, include valid information, update articles to date, and block editors who are using inaccurate information is a positive towards a more reliable Wikipedia.

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