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Wikipedia: Not worth getting fired over.

By None:

A few months ago, a bunch of congressional staffers got busted trying to screw around with Wikipedia. And today, the campaign manager for Georgia gubernatorial candidate Cathy Cox - a guy unfortunately named Morton Brilliant - has been fired after getting caught altering the Wikipedia biography of her opponent, Mark Taylor.

The shake up in Cox's gubernatorial campaign comes after Taylor's camp alleged Tuesday that Brilliant doctored Taylor's online Wikipedia profile to add information on his son's drunk driving arrest in an August 2005 accident left his best friend dead.

Cox had pledged not to make Fletcher Taylor's legal troubles an issue and said Wednesday she was angry that someone in her campaign had gone against her wishes.

"He was trying to smear Mark Taylor and exploit a personal tragedy and we caught him red handed," Taylor spokesman Rick Dent said.

What's Wikipedia? Basically, it's an open source encyclopedia. Anybody can create and edit entries. Generally, it's been a big success at using vast armies of volunteers to create an encyclopedia several times larger than the Encyclopedia Brittanica or Microsoft's Encarta. (After all, would either of those have entries about the 2006 candidates for governor of Georgia?)

But that which makes it great also makes it weak. Anybody can create and edit entries. No surprise, that's an awful tempting target for political campaigns.

After last year's widely publicized Wikipedia scandal involving Kennedy aide John Siegenthaler (who was wrongly accused of killing RFK), the good folks at Wikipedia decided that they needed to do a better job of tracking who was making changes to encyclopedia entries - and to have the ability to ban them.

Here's the deal -- while it's a tempting target, it really doesn't matter. Do undecided voters visit the Wikipedia sites of candidates? No. All this "warfare" is akin to the lawn-sign wars engaged in by the interns. It's certainly not a prize worth getting fired over. It's not even worth the chance of a negative headline in your candidate's race that makes a campaign manager look like an immature twit.

Every community has rules. You wouldn't go streaking naked through the fancy downtown big-money club wearing only your candidate's bumper stickers. Don't screw around with Wikipedia in nefarious ways.

And yes, it's OK to correct factual errors - but really, seriously, don't get stupid. Rule #1 - don't get fired.