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Wikipedia’s open-editing policy occasionally spawns all-out showdowns in which
users try to “revert” one another’s disagreeable entries into oblivion. A few
examples, as collected on the online encyclopedia’s “Lamest Edit Wars” page
(itself the subject of not a little nitpicking):

  • Cat: “34 reverts in just over an hour. The pressing issues: Should
    one unremarkable photo be included? Is the cat depicted really smiling?…
    As it turned out, the photo was deleted for not having any copyright status.”
  • Mama’s Family: “Was Mama (Vicki Lawrence) ‘pro-active,’ ‘foxy,’ ‘clever,’
    ‘cunning,’ or none of the above? Apparently this question is important enough
    to occupy over 30 edits in one day.”
  • List of virgins: “Dispute about whether or not Britney Spears belonged
    on the list, eventually resolved in a definitive manner: maintenance of the
    list proved impossible and it was later deleted.”
  • Wii: “Does it rhyme with ‘We’ or ‘Wee’? Should ‘Wee’ link to urine?…
    Should urine be mentioned in the article at all? Just some of the hard hitting
    issues that provoked in excess of 1,500 edits in the space of two weeks…
    All this for a videogame console that hasn’t even been released yet.”
  • Feces: “Should the article on feces include [a] picture of a large
    human turd? As of early July 2005, the discussion on this issue alone had
    reached 12,900 words.”
  • Nancy Reagan: “Was she born in 1921? Or 1923? After days of editing,
    does anyone really care THAT much? Woman is old.”

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Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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