[WikiEN-l] systemic bias

charles matthews charles.r.matthews at ntlworld.com
Fri May 5 12:15:27 UTC 2006

"Raphael Wegmann"  wrote

> charles matthews wrote:
>> - The real issue with systemic bias is not that it contributes to
>> _systematic_ bias.  WP policy directly targets systematic bias, since the
>> NPOV policy says quite clearly that it is not acceptable.  It may be 
>> there,
>> but it is not acceptable in the encyclopedia.
> Steve Bennett wrote:
> > English Wikipedia is purely and simply, generally sympathetic to an
> > American point of view. The Arabic Wikipedia is probably more
> > sympathetic to a Muslim point of view.
> Who is right?
> Is the english Wikipedia supposed to have an American point of view,
> or is systemic bias whatsoever not acceptable in the encyclopedia?

Well, I think you may still be missing the key distinction.

Systematic bias: this means the kind of thing that is talked about, 
generally, in discussions of 'media bias'.  I happen to think that the whole 
'media bias' debate is a serious dumbing down of political discussion: as if 
all that mattered was to establish that one kind of media is 'propaganda', 
and another is 'truth-telling'.  But, in effect, systematic bias means 
something like a propagandistic, party line effect on content.  As I have 
said, this is unacceptable under NPOV, article by article.  Whether what 
Steve writes is true or not, that would contradict fundamental policy.

Systemic bias is something else.  For example if we have more males than 
females editing WP, which is likely, then we get more coverage of 
traditional male-interest things than traditional female-interest things. 
Our discussion of haute couture fashion supposedly reflects that.  (I find 
that much easier to believe than what Steve says.)  It has nothing to do 
with whether people are editing to make a propaganda point.  Since on a 
wiki, what it written reflects ultimately the community writing it, there is 
no obvious policy such as NPOV that is effective.


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