Wiki Wars: In battle to define beliefs, Mormons and foes wage battle on Wikipedia

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  • Jamescmeyer Midwest City, USA, OK
    July 23, 2014 3:29 p.m.

    It's just not worth the effort; I have more productive things to give my community, work, and family than to sit on my computer unendingly using weasel words and cutting off context to villify things I don't agree with. The depth to which wikipedia is filled with anti-Mormon and other anti-Christian sentiments, anti-Republican, anti-Conservative (and everything tied in any way to these ideas, such as Israel), anti-marriage protection is simply incurable.

    Any and all examples of anythign on any page that involve any of those topics will villify them. Go to any topic on logical fallacies using political sources and Republicans are always the ones used as examples. Communism is almost always noble, and capitalism is almost always evil or failing.

  • Roger N. Union City, CA
    Feb. 6, 2011 8:49 a.m.

    The idea that LDS "attack the source" if they don't like unflattering information about them is simple generalization, and it does not apply in this case. There are a number of LDS Wikipedia editors who do an excellent job employing "unflattering" sources.

    The real issue with LDS Wikipedia articles is related to the accuracy in the use of sources, rather than a desire to remove them. FAIR's reviews of LDS Wikipedia articles do not advocate removing any sources, whether they happen to be "flattering" or "unflattering."

    However, when an editor uses the words of Richard Bushman as a citation for a statement the clearly does not reflect Bushman's original intent, that is wrong. The restatement of an author's qualified opinion as expressed in a source as an unqualified "fact" in the main text of the Wikipedia article is wrong. The harassment of any editor by another editor because they do not assume good faith is wrong. That applies both ways - non-LDS who harass LDS, and LDS who harass non-LDS. All of these items violate established Wikipedia rules.

  • Vanka Provo, UT
    Feb. 5, 2011 1:20 p.m.

    There sure seems to be a pattern: Whenever LDS don't like the unflattering information about them, they attack the source.

    If Wikipedia was dominated by LDS so as to portray only positive things about the Church, then LDS would sing its praises as the most reliable, truthful and accurate source of information available!

    Afterall, that is how they regard the information provided by the Maxwell Institute and FAIR.

  • Quagthistle Utica, KS
    Feb. 3, 2011 11:57 a.m.

    The Wikipedia came into existance because places like Britannica wanted to make millions off families trying to spread knowledge to their children. What would people here have families do? Go back to paying $50 a volume for sets of encyclopedias? Maybe we should send our kids to the library...Oh gee, the nearest library to me with any decent research section is 65 miles away. I guess my kids (if I had any) should start walking now. Maybe they'll get there and back by March.

    The Wikipedia is a noble goal, to spread and share knowledge for *FREE*, but noble goals are rarely accomplished by sitting on our hands, whining. In short, if we want it to better, we must *MAKE* it better, not complain that others aren't doing it for us. The internet and Wikipedia are here to stay, and we'd better join the fray if we want things to get better.

    Signed, Quag (Pamela)

    PS: This word limit is annoying...

  • Quagthistle Utica, KS
    Feb. 3, 2011 11:55 a.m.

    Honestly (and no offense to the author, for this was a well-written article in my opinion), but there is a mentality that is at the heart of the problem, not merely on the Wikipedia but in the US and abroad. This idea is that, if someone else wants to fight for their op[inion, it's best to let them have their way and then complain about it. Do you think the US won it's independence by having generals who said, "Oh well, the British outnumber us, so let's just give up and complain a lot." No, of course not. Whining never solved anything. If we, as the LDS community, want Wikipedia's articles about us and our history to be accurate or at least fair, then *WE* (not the owner of Wikipedia or anyone else) need to join the fight and battle as tenatiously as our opponents. Fundamentalists won't go away if we just sit in a corner and complain (or "give up"), and worse, they will be like anti-missionaries (or birds of the field who carry off the sown seeds, if you prefer)...

  • Common-Tator Saint Paul, MN
    Feb. 3, 2011 10:58 a.m.

    There is truly a reason why Wikipedia is not accepted by serious academic institutions as a viable source when citing information. Guess "this be one of them"!

  • Dave from Taylorsville Taylorsville, UT
    Feb. 3, 2011 9:15 a.m.

    (1951) Well it must be true. . . it's published!

    (2011) Well it must be true. . . it's on the internet!

    You gotta be really gullible to think that Wikipedia is reliable AT ALL. That's like thinking an ally brawl is a hockey game. (Poor analogy, but you get it.)

    The missionary in question has more problems than believing in Wikipedia.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    Feb. 3, 2011 6:50 a.m.

    I used to participate on an unmoderated newsgroup on mormonism, back when that was the only venue to discuss mormonism on the internet (prior to the WWW). We had one antimormon Calvinist who went by the name of Theophilus. He relentlessly antagonized any proLDS articles, and his method of winning an argument was to always have the last word. He took every means possible to denigrate the LDS position, despite many attempts by LDS postings to attempt moderation. He knew if he could argue long enough, sane people would eventually give up.

    We only managed to get rid of Theophilus, by catching him in a blatant lie in which he argued two different contradicting positions in order to prove mormons wrong. We posted his conflicting viewpoints--pointing out his dishonesty--and he mysterious disappeared from the group for good.

    John Foxe's deception using a sock puppet reminded me of those early year shenanigans that antimormons engaged in. This man clearly sees his overarching righteousness as justification for dishonesty.

    It is precisely the sort of pharisaical hypocrisy that Christ condemned most vehemently when he was on the earth. Those who engage in such behaviors arewhited-sepulchres.

  • 74s181 Houston Lake, MO
    Feb. 1, 2011 2:49 p.m.

    Response to Jiggle and others who have made blanket statements about all pro-LDS editors.

    My experience in the First Vision article was that John Foxe (an anti-LDS editor) tried to control the content of the article so as to emphasize the anti-LDS point of view and minimize the pro-LDS point of view.

    As a pro-LDS editor, it was never my goal force the reader to a particular conclusion. I wanted all points of view presented, in a neutral and proportional manner.

    I edited in good faith, trying again and again to satisfy John Foxe, only to see him revert all edits that didn't serve his purpose.

    On the talk page I tried again and again to explain to John Foxe the principles of Wikipedia, the most important of which is Neutral Point of View, only to see him continue to ignore the Wikipedia policies and to "...control the editing of LDS articles by rejecting verifiable, authoritative sources...", etc.

    Following Wikipedia policies did not serve John Foxe's purpose, so he ignored those policies.

    Trying to work with with John Foxe got me nothing but increasing anger and frustration. So I walked away.


  • Jiggle Clearfield, UT
    Jan. 31, 2011 6:10 p.m.

    Wikipedia is suppose to have a neutral point of view. They say they strive for articles that advocate no single point of view, represent multiple points of views, and present each point of view accurately and in context, while not presenting any point of view as "the truth" or "the best view". Pro-LDS editors seem to be involved in trying to control the editing of LDS articles by rejecting verifiable, authoritative sources, so any inaccuracies or misleading statements can go unchallenged.

    So much for honesty! Now will DS News Post this?

  • A Guy With A Brain Enid, OK
    Jan. 31, 2011 4:31 p.m.

    Hey Pagan -

    You asked for 'recent' examples of 'good' Latter-day Saints?

    Thomas S. Monson.

    I know you'll find SOMETHING (or make something up) to criticize him over.

    But a good man is a good man regardless of what fools say about him.


  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Jan. 31, 2011 4:00 p.m.

    I hate to use up my four comments so quickly.

    I think the reaction of some "I do not go to wikipedia" is an abandonement of the duty that we are under to share the truth to the best of our abilities. We need to remember that accuracy is key to wikipedia and avoid over-zealousness without it.

    However as Elder Ballard said, the conversation will go on. Either we can work to aid the accuracy of wikipedia and seek to infuse it with sources that reflect the truth, or we can let it be editted by those who use it to tear down the truth. If we do not work for a solution, than we will suffer more.

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 31, 2011 3:59 p.m.

    'Any Mormon who has told you that you MUST follow their view doesn't know their own doctrine.' - Sigfried | 2:09 p.m. Jan. 31, 2011

    I agree with you, and yet again I shall point too:

    Polygamy, 1890
    Black priesthood, 1978
    Amendment 3, 2004
    Prop 8, 2008

    All are examples of mormon 'beliefs' that affect those who never claimed to follow that fiath.

    Don't get me wrong, I personally know what I consider 'good' mormons, who take no interest in my life or anyone elses. The know the word, and follow it as best THEY can. Trying to set the example.

    As for 'spiritual experience', I leave that to the person. As I would for you and visa-versa.

    And I encourage you to not take my 'Mormon with no name' examples. You are right, they cannot be disproven.

    And yet, the legislation examples are up for public review.

    Just as with all groups, there are good and bad.

    I just wish there was more recent, and better examples of the good.

    The recent refusal of state legislature in Utah to pass non-discrimination ordinance, after 11 cities do so, forces me to focus on the bad.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Jan. 31, 2011 3:54 p.m.

    An independent source is one not controlled by the subject of its report. Thus, a source written by Richard Lloyd Anderson or Richalrd L. Bushman is independent. They may be influenced by Joseph Smith's teaching, but they are not controlled by him.

    The key is to report on the first vision using articles and books written with clear reliance on the primary sources. Richard L. Bushman's "Rough Stone Rolling" is a much better source than Brody's "No Man Knows My History", and Anderson's "Ensign" article on the multiple accounts of the first vision is usable. Also remember that introductions and notes to published first hand accounts of the first vision are of worth.

    Beyond this, just challenge the theory. In using the "no original research" mantra to exclude the original sources wikipedia is misinterpreting the intent. This applies much more to issues of notability. If the issue is about historical fact, first hand testimony trumps second-hand testimony based on psychoanalytic readings of Joseph Smith.

    Lastly, wikipedia is not a democracy. Even if there are more people arguing for incorect readings of the past, if you can present your accuments more clearly, they have power.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Jan. 31, 2011 3:48 p.m.

    Michael De Groote is right about the anti-BYU bias of some weikipedia editors. This is unfortunante. Also unfortunante is the way in which the "no primary research" rule is interpreted.

    I often shy away from the heavily covered topics in wikipedia, like Joseph Smith, and spend my energy creating articles on people like Camillle Fronk Olson or Tutsegabitz or Sagawitz. The problem with the not as prominant is that I face the struggle to prove these people merit articles, but that is easier than dealing with biased editors who start with the goal of proving Joseph Smith false.

    On the other hand before you enter the wikipedia fray remember the goal is neutrality. If you speak too strongly in favor of Joseph Smith you will be dismissed as violating the neutral point of view policy.

    If you study wikipedia policy in depth you do realize that at heart works accurately based on primary sources are better. Be willing to challenge them on trying to say a source is biased.

  • 74s181 Houston Lake, MO
    Jan. 31, 2011 3:25 p.m.

    The biggest problem that I had with John Foxe's edits to "The First Vision" was that he would not understand the most fundamental Wikipedia principles.

    Wikipedia articles are supposed to be based on Neutral Point of View. The short definition, from the NPOV page, "Editors must write articles from a neutral point of view, representing all significant views fairly, proportionately, and without bias.

    John Foxe consistently resisted having the non-believing POV presented in a neutral fashion. Most attempts to 'neutralize' his non-believing POV were reverted.

    John Foxe also resisted having the believing point of view presented at all. He insisted that the historical facts 'proved' that the First Vision didn't happen, and so any attempt to accurately present the believing POV was continually interrupted with his rebuttals or relegated to footnotes.

    John Foxe is a very clever man with plenty of time on his hands. During the edit war described in this article I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with his machinations, this frustration became evident in my comments. And so I walked away.


  • Sigfried Payson, UT
    Jan. 31, 2011 2:09 p.m.

    Any Mormon who has told you that you MUST follow their view doesn't know their own doctrine.
    In fact the church only wants their converts to have had an actual spiritual experience confirming what they teach.
    This isn't really measurable by an intellectual tool. Nor can it be disproved.

  • huggyface Murray, UT
    Jan. 31, 2011 12:28 p.m.

    Chickenchaser - Please stay on topic. The article is about Wikipedia and the behind the scenes look into a controversial topic and how the information makes it ot the front page - in this case Joseph Smith.

    Couldn't wait for the next Michael Ash article to post your degrading comments, eh??

  • Pagan Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 31, 2011 11:19 a.m.

    "I decided that I didn't want to define our relationship by contention." - Article

    That's kind of hard because he was already in contention with a missionary.

    It will be interesting to see who gets more to subscribe to it's belief. Many try to 'white wash' history.

    Example? I've had self-proclaimed Mormons tell me that Brigham Young was 'very conflicted' about denying preist hood to black males...until 1978.
    Amendment 3, 2004
    Prop 8, 2008

    And yet other continue to claim they 'love the sinner', while ignoring they are even CALLING someone a sinner, which is itself, an insulting term.

    Serious. Go to a bunch of strangers and call them 'sinners' all day, see what happens.

    You are entitiled to your view. However, to claim all others 'must' follow your view is folly.

    Bottom line, there are, what? 14 million mormons?

    And 5 billion & some change, non-mormons on earth.

    Localized ideaology is put to the test when faced with a world-view consensus.

    Let the debate which is the 'true' way, begin.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 31, 2011 2:52 a.m.

    "For example, when the subject was the life and teaching of Brigham Young, mention was only made of his first wife. That is obviously incomplete as he had dozens of plural wives as well. But it did not say she was BY's only wife - that would have been inaccurate."

    Inaccurate vs incomplete, well... there is that but there's another set of options. Lie of omission and lie of commission. A lie of commission is outright stating something not true, while a lie of omission is leaving out a detail that makes things appear to be something other than they are. Granted I doubt many LDS members think Brigham Young was a monogamist, I'm just saying that in some situations, incomplete can be problematic.

  • JJL Eugene, OR
    Jan. 31, 2011 1:26 a.m.

    For those who want an alternative to iffy Wiki info re: LDS beliefs, try:

    1. Encycolpedia of Mormonism
    2. Expressions of Faith: Testimonies of Latter-day Saint Scholars, edited by Susan Easton Black (1996)
    3. Pretty much anything by Robert J. Millet

  • Chickenchaser Centralia, WA
    Jan. 31, 2011 12:16 a.m.

    Dr. Paul E. Minnis an archeology professor at the University of Oklahoma is one of thousands in his field of study who claim that the view that Native Americans
    descended from Israelites is completely false. Wikipedia was not the source for this conclusion.

    Did someone say there are two sides to everything? Thats nonsense contrived to evade the truth. Did someone say scientology too?

    Joseph told his mother that horses ran around the continent. What? 7,500 years ago and long after the demise of the so-called nephites. No battlefields, no iron and other metals as depicted in Ensign and New Era artistry. The Native American is Asiatic. Period.

  • A Guy With A Brain Enid, OK
    Jan. 30, 2011 11:54 p.m.

    Sock puppets.

    Boy, have I seen them on these DesNews message boards (and other internet sites) in the last 4 years.....

    BTW, I've had the same Wikipedia experience defending the LDS church as Mr. Nicholson has. Kind of ticked me off.

    Oh, well, nothing to get permanently down in the dumps about. Truth will prevail. As Brigham Young used to say about those who continually oppose the Lord's church, "Every time they try to kick it down to hell, they only lift it up closer to heaven".

    So, thanks for the boost!

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    Jan. 30, 2011 11:34 p.m.

    Article quote: "I think I first got on (Wikipedia) because the Bob Jones site was just crazy. There was just crazy stuff, non-true things," Foxe said. "And I said 'Oh, I'll fix that.' And it was kind of fun." Foxe spoke with the Deseret News on the condition that his real name wasn't used."

    So let me get this straight:

    Foxe wants to have the Bob Jones site display true, factually correct information on it but he's A-OK allowing lies to be posted about the LDS church?

    Nice, eh?....

  • tyndale1 Orem, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 10:39 p.m.

    It's always fun to have an article about the LDS Church. The comments just go ballistic. So many have opinions on either sides. I also have opinions from my experiences with this Religion, and so I will comment.

    I look at it this way. A Wiki on Jesus Christ could say he was arrested, spit upon, hated, defied authority, incited people to rebellion, caused riots in the streets and major discontent, turned families upside down, escaped brushes with secular and religious authorities, caused contention in the temple, or many other unsavory things and each item would be factual. They all happened according to one eye witness or another, but is this the information that is pertinent to knowing or to discovering who He was and would you base your decision on following Him on such an article? Hopefully not.

    Or would you try to understand what His followers saw in Him that caused them to change their lives in so many pertinent ways?

    I think Wikis can be great and play a valuable role in modern society, but they should be used for less important things than decisions related to salvation, in my opinion.

  • A Guy With A Brain Enid, OK
    Jan. 30, 2011 10:38 p.m.

    Article quote: "In an earlier exchange, the missionary told Nicholson that Wikipedia was reliable because the collaborative process ensures its accuracy."

    Anyone who believes that misunderstands a simple yet absolutely crucial reality.

    It is that 'truth' is NOT defined by popularity.

    Never has been. Never will be.

    I know that is hard for some of you to understand, but understand it we must.

  • paperboy111 Lindon, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 10:02 p.m.

    What's interesting is the fact that the LDS church as not only encouraged is 13 million LDS members to embrace social media, including Wikipedia, to get the Word out. Including telling the truth and sharing their testimonies with the world's populations. All 7 Billion. Actually Wikipedia calculates the world's population today at 6.9 billion. I'm not sure who is really is correct, but since Wikipedia is updated and edited by the minute by 7 (or?) 6.9 Billion people, it stands to reason that some sifting leading to the truth is bound to occur. Let's get over it. Transparency is the new norm. The younger generation gets it. It's time for the old farts to embrace it too :)

  • Michael De Groote
    Jan. 30, 2011 9:34 p.m.

    "If I had to give people advice, I think I'd tell them to start with something they knew very well and also something that is not controversial," Foxe said. "They should start at a place where they can make a real contribution." For example, he said, begin on your hometown -- but don't start on "Joseph Smith, Jr."

    "For somebody who is new to Wikipedia to go to 'Joseph Smith' and think they are going to make a big impact, that's a mistake. There's just too many people there and it's just not going to work," Foxe said. "I guess people want to make a big splash and come to the really argumentative kind of articles."

  • Rainbow Phoenix Farmington, Utah
    Jan. 30, 2011 7:29 p.m.

    At my school if we use Wikipedia, some teachers will yell at us. Anyway as in my last post, what are the Mormons hiding that's so bad, that they have to change a faulty website? Please answer to my inquiring teenage mind!

  • Gentile brookings, SD
    Jan. 30, 2011 7:05 p.m.

    Oh my, a tizzy over Wikpedia. I tell my students that if they quote it in their term papers it is an F for the course. That solves that problem a little bit. Had to drop an F on a student last semester; though warned, he did it anyway (I think he was in a hurry).
    If one ventures forth into the real world and has a set of beliefs, then those beliefs will be challenged. Period. And that is good news indeed.
    Is the information on Wikipedia right, accurate, truthful, or opinion? People can and do change it accordingly, esp. if it involves religion and politics.
    Expect the world to review and cast a hard eye on your beliefs. If you wish to send out the "correct" version of one's faith, then get a web site, etc. That is how faiths do it, and politicians.
    Wikipedia is not to be trusted. It is a free country, too.

  • FYI Taylorsville, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 6:05 p.m.

    Don't feel too bad, I tried to comment on a mistake that the DN had made when reporting of the sex of an accident victim and somehow that violated the comment rules and it wasn't posted. I guess Wiki isn't the only place that information has to be taken with a grain of salt.

  • Gus Talwynd Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 5:44 p.m.

    Nothing sparks controvery like the religious wars. Mormons complain about anti-Mormonism, Catholics complain about anti-Catholicism, Scientologists complain about anti-Scientologism. However, Mormons consider their faith superior to either Catholics or Scientologists (if they even consider Scientology a religion) and Catholics (like every other religious group) see their faith as the "one true faith."

    It is sincerely doubtful that a person can find any unbiased information on religion written by a truly religious person. Yes, a trained historian might come close, but like history, it is written by an individual with a particular view.

    Probably as bad as getting accurate information on religion is getting accurate information on political issues. Like religion, politics is rife with controversy. It's like the Bible, some say it is the direct word of God where the history shows it was written and re-written over hundreds of years by various authors and translated into other languages without necessary scrutiny as to accuracy of translation.

    To the faithful, these points don't matter because they have their faith. They believe what they want to believe and take satisfaction in that belief. Intellectual pursuit always gives way to belief to avoid conflict.

  • dhsalum Saint George, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 5:36 p.m.

    Awesome article.

  • OnlyInUtah Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 5:28 p.m.

    No surprize here. I've learned that Wikipedia is the LAST place to find accurate information on history or religion as it is always slanted to the editors view.

  • C1 Saint George, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 5:28 p.m.

    I use Wikipedia primarily for entertainment.

    I also use it as someone else described - for "quick information". It's a starting place when trying to track down facts.

    But I personally question much of what I read on the site.

    It's most just interesting and good for entertainment.

  • Max Syracuse, NY
    Jan. 30, 2011 5:24 p.m.

    Wikipedia is great when you want to look up info on your favorite movie star but I am frankly stunned that so many people use it as a serious source of information. College students, for example, are taught to NEVER cite Wikipedia as a source for any research they do. Papers that cite Wikipedia are laughed at and receive failing grades.

  • Kyle loves BYU/Jazz Provo, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 5:04 p.m.

    Re: Janet

    Sure professors hate it when students use wikipedia but the smart ones use it as a starting point and use the links to find reliable sources from peer reviewed journals. It's a good tool as long as you realize what you're reading isn't absolute truth. Then again I've never read a textbook that is perfect either.

  • COGITOERGONIHILSVM Western Hemisphere, Earth
    Jan. 30, 2011 4:42 p.m.

    Look, it's natural for intellectuals, and wannabe intellectuals, to try justifying their respective sides of the story. Whatever story that is. At the end of the day, and at the end of our lives, we either believe or we don't believe. That's it. Good luck, my friends.

  • Michael De Groote
    Jan. 30, 2011 4:32 p.m.

    If I was understanding Richard L. Bushman correctly, he was saying that the "Joseph Smith, Jr." Wikipedia article is accurate in the facts it is citing to -- meaning that those facts do have a basis in the historical documents.

    But he basically cautioned that not every account in a historical document is accurate because people were more biased against Joseph Smith in his day than they are today.

    In other words, a contemporaneous historical document can lie or distort or have bias and citing to it does not make it true and unbiased.

    Wikipedia prefers secondary sources over primary sources. A paragraph by Fawn Brodie about the First Vision, for example, holds more water under Wikipedia rules than Joseph Smith's own first person accounts. Weird, but that is the way it is set up.

    Also, it is very hard to get non-Mormon editors accept anything published by BYU -- leaving some of the best available scholarship out of the picture.

  • Michael De Groote
    Jan. 30, 2011 4:23 p.m.

    Roger Nicholson did NOT have two accounts at the same time. The purpose of sock puppets is to gain artificial advantage in your arguments by having a fake identity support you. Nicholson withdrew one identity and used another screen name.

    The article was accused as being too long. You should have seen it before my editors had me cut it down to size!

    The article was also accused as being redundant. I don't think it was repetitive, redundant, nor did it go over the same thing multiple times. ;-)

  • Michael De Groote
    Jan. 30, 2011 4:18 p.m.

    I wrote this story about Wikipedia (in many respects) from the point of view of Roger Nicholson. That adds a certain bias to it, of course. I could have just as easily written it from the perspective of the Bob Jones University prof. "John Foxe." That would have had a different bias, but the result would have been similar.

    I found the behind-the-scenes fights fascinating: The edit wars, the accusations, the using of rules as weapons. Cool stuff. The next time you are on an article on Wikipedia, just click on the discussion tab to see what the latest fights are about.

    Wikipedia is great for quick knowledge -- and especially for finding the best references and online links to a topic. Some of its explanations of things are the best you can find on some topics. But for some controversial topics it falls down. I hope the article illustrates the process enough so that people can make their own assessment.

    I am going to add a few more comments responding to some issues people have brought up.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Jan. 30, 2011 4:02 p.m.

    For those who criticize the LDS Church's version of it's history in it's coorelated material, I think we need to acknowedge the differences between incomplete and inaccurate.

    I admit that much information presented in the basic sunday school, priesthood and relief society teaching materials is incomplete - but not necessarily inaccurate.

    For example, when the subject was the life and teaching of Brigham Young, mention was only made of his first wife. That is obviously incomplete as he had dozens of plural wives as well. But it did not say she was BY's only wife - that would have been inaccurate.

    If a section about the translation of the BofM mentioned only the breastplate and spectacles process and not the hat in a stone process, that would be incomplete. If it said JS only used this process or did not use the hat in a stone process that would be inaccurate.

    When the church does not mention JS's other versions of the First Vision it is incomplete. If they said no other versions exist they would be inaccurate.

    Do I wish LDS coorelated material was more complete? ABSOLUTELY. But there is a difference.

  • DeepintheHeart Lewisville, TX
    Jan. 30, 2011 3:43 p.m.

    I think it makes more sense to assume any web site has a point of view, an agenda, a philosophical outlook. I don't go to expecting to find material on anything other than the Church, and I don't expect it to be presented in a self-critical way. Letting the public be the writers and editors is an interesting concept, but not one where you'd expect to find the truth of something.

  • Rainbow Phoenix Farmington, Utah
    Jan. 30, 2011 3:19 p.m.

    I am not Anti-Mormon (I have Mormon Friends) but....the censoring of the more unsavory info on the LDS church seems a bit fishy, like they are hiding stuff.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    Jan. 30, 2011 3:17 p.m.

    @Charles. "Asking the LDS church to tell its own history is like asking the former Soviet Union to do the same. The only accurate and unbiased information will come from the outside."

    If you are right then the crazy stories I heard about America from Russians when I was visitng there must be more accurate than my experience of living in America for decades! After all, the information about America these Russians were taught "came from the outside" and must be unbiased.

    The most biased and unreliable sources come from haters outside of the country or religion or organization who claim objectivity. Wiki has no excuse for using a Mormon Hater to edit the articles about Mormonism.

  • dricha65 Provo, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 3:05 p.m.

    I have found Wikipedia to be an incredible resource. I take it with a grain of salt knowing there could be errors however, in all my math, science and engineering searches I have found it to be incredibly accurate. Maybe it has to do with these subjects being less controversial or simply that one can reach a firm black and white answer.

    I have long thought that too many people hear or read something and take full allegiance with whatever it may be. We were given the ability to think and reason and I often am disappointed how often this gift is neglected.

  • Moracle Blackshear, GA
    Jan. 30, 2011 2:48 p.m.

    Wikipedia sounds much like the story of 3 blind men who described an elephant after each had felt a different part of the animal's body.

    One, who felt the trunk, thought it was like a long, flexible tube, the man who felt of a leg, thought the elephant was tall and round, with covering like the bark of a tree, the other man, feeling the tail, thought it was like a rope.

    Each described the elephant according to his own experience.

    Evidently, those who post on Wikipedia do the same. So, unless you want to be one of the blind being led by the blind, stay away from Wikipedia and find your answers elsewhere (Hint: you might try looking at the source)... unless you're looking for prejudiced fiction representing truth, or just a good laugh!

    Wikipedia was never presented to be a source of accurate information, the site even states that some of the "articles may contain misinformatiomn".

    Most likely, it's just another way for its developer(s) to create interest and make money using the internet!

  • Mukkake Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 2:46 p.m.

    This article is long-winded, but short on information, and is a few years behind. Just because wikipedia isn't 100% positive for the church doesn't mean it is worthless.

    Because DesNews wont allow me to link to outside material I'll post the following and you can look it up for yourself:

    "Other criticisms center on its susceptibility to vandalism and the addition of spurious or unverified information, though scholarly work suggests that vandalism is generally short-lived, and an investigation... found that the science articles they compared came close to the level of accuracy of Encyclopedia Britannica and had a similar rate of "serious errors".

    I love all the people who mention on here that "most professors don't allow wikipedia as a source". Most professors wouldn't allow an encyclopedia of ANY KIND as a source because they are not PRIMARY SOURCES. Encyclopedias are summaries at best and are only useful as quick reference tools. The are jumping off points. You get a general sense of whats going on and then you LOOK AT THE CITATIONS and continue from there.

  • Molly Mormon Mom Riverton, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 2:40 p.m.

    Thanks for the article! Some of these comments claim that Wikipedia is not allowed as a source for research papers. This may be true for many institutions of higher education, but the majority of high schools and middle schools still allow it as a cited source. As a result, most teenagers (including young LDS missionaries) feel that Wikipedia contains the most reliable information on the internet. We need to teach our children that Wikipedia, while containing a lot of accurate and reliable facts, is not the best source for unbiased information, especially when it comes to religion and politics. My husband and I will be having that discussion with our children today.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Jan. 30, 2011 2:39 p.m.

    Charles - I know that Richard Bushman's "Rough Stone Rolling" is not the "church". But it is written by a believing member who believes JS was and is a Prophet.

    I get where you are coming from if you are referring to the standard LDS coorelated material used for SS, PR and RS. But material is being presented about JS and LDS history by believing authors and historians that does NOT whitewash the truth. Cats mentioned the JS Papers. These are positive steps quite frankly.

    I know more than one person who fell away reading RSR and the Papers may have a similar effect on some who think nothing occurred outside of what they were told in seminary and sunday school. But there are LDS resources that are presenting the whole story.

  • Richie Saint George, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 2:36 p.m.

    Wikipedia does have some usefulness, but history, especially religious history is not one of them. If I want to study LDS doctrine I go to the scriptures and prophets only. Apostles are pretty good (except early ones) but Seventies can be wrong. Wikipedia is useful if I want to look for airplanes, automobiles, Ships, and old movies.

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 2:35 p.m.


    The average member has no idea about some of the unflattering church history. Your "bring it on" attitude will lead people to question faith as it did to the missionary in the article. Again, according to Bushman all of the info in wiki was correct, just unflattering. People will seek the truth, as you suggest, and that truth will be very difficult to swallow.

  • Jiggle Clearfield, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 2:23 p.m.


    If you want to know for yourself what Mormons believe, ask one or just walk in the door of one of our meetinghouses on Sunday.

    While this might be true to an extent....I would find those people biased. I would also talk to a person who has left the Church after being in it for many years....perhaps raised in the Church....for they have looked at it with a depth deeper than those that stay.

    Every single sincere person ought to ask themselves what motivates anti-Mormons.

    Simple disagreement motivates so-called anti-Mormons most of the time. Yes, there are exceptions and that is called Anti-Semitism. Simply put...they have a different truth and express it like any Mormon does. I'm certain Mormons disagree with Atheism so with the logic most Mormons use....they would be anti-atheists. Mormons always act like people shouldn't disagree with their religion and if they do they are Anti, Envious, Bigoted, Prejudiced, Fear ful or are Insecure. That goes both ways you know. Quit playing the persecution card and realize people are not anti for simply disagreeing and saying so.

  • tweedmeister Yakima, WA
    Jan. 30, 2011 2:23 p.m.

    To Cats: I think the fact that DN deleted my comment apparently to which you refer demonstrates the fear of perusal and scrutiny that you believe does not happen. My comment was on-topic and not abusive. It merely mentioned an author that the LDS church is at odds with who described the LDS church as having a need to make all its history proprietary and to disallow straight-up historical commentary by non-LDS. BAM! Case closed.

  • Uncle Rico Sandy, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 1:24 p.m.

    Hutterite: organized

    please use spell check as your post points out a young inexperienced mindset

  • troubs Enterprise, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 1:24 p.m.

    ...and so the war in heaven wages on, only now its within the pages of Wikipedia.

  • gwest Melfa, VA
    Jan. 30, 2011 1:00 p.m.

    Universities don't accept Wikipedia as a legitimate source for academic work. Neither should anyone interested in anything more than trivia.

    The determined, dogged opposition of anti-Mormons tells you more about them than it does about their targets. If you want to know for yourself what Mormons believe, ask one or just walk in the door of one of our meetinghouses on Sunday.

    Every single sincere person ought to ask themselves what motivates anti-Mormons. Envy? Bigotry? Prejudice? Fear of "competition?" Insecurity? There's no good reason for any of what they do.

    Such efforts wouldn't be tolerated if they were directed against Jews or some other religious minority. Why should such behavior be granted any credence whatsoever by reasonable people?

  • Doctor Tucson, AZ
    Jan. 30, 2011 12:41 p.m.

    Read the article. It never says anything false was posted only negative. Bushman says it is factual, just shallow.

  • SLCWatch Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 12:39 p.m.

    If I want a simple movie plot outline Wikipedia is sufficent. If I want information on religion or politics...I might as well consult a Ouiji Board for both.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 12:29 p.m.

    Dear Tweedmeister: Oops! You negative bias is showing.

    The LDS Church is spending immense amounts of effort to put out the Joseph Smith Papers which include everything written by, written for or written in connection with Joseph Smith. They are completely unbiased and fair. They are the original documents which are open for anyone to see and study. Nothing is hidden or distorted.

    The LDS Church does NOT fear scrutiny. Bring it on. In fact, these papers will help to expose many of the lies that have been told by anti mormons for almost two centuries.

    I know a former Methodist Minister who joined the Church. He examined and researched every anti-mormon document he could find. He tracked down every footnote. He concluded that the authors were either completely ignorant or completely dishonest. He was baptized after this long and intense search for truth.

    Only if you are unafraid of truth can you find it. The Church does not fear truth. Only those who attack it do.

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 12:28 p.m.

    Bushman, speaking of Mormon Wiki articles, says "So it becomes a picky piece that isn't inaccurate, but it sort of lacks depth. It ends up being shallow." Notice how he doesn't says that people are spreading lies. Some editors are focusing on "unsavory" pieces of church history.

    If someone was claiming to speak for God wouldn't you hold them to a higher standard? You'd expect that all aspects of history would be quite savory. I don't undersand how people can reconcile all of the unsavoryness even when looking at the big picture as Bushman suggests.

  • Pianoman99 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 12:21 p.m.

    anyone who's gone to college or even high school knows that wikipedia is not credited as a reliable source...

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Jan. 30, 2011 10:23 a.m.

    The LDS historian Richard Bushman was prominently mentioned in this article. He wrote what is probably the most detailed history of Joseph Smith - Rough Stone Rolling. Critics will complain that his bias is that JS is a Prophet. As a believing Mormon that is understandable. But there are few facts of JS's life that were not detailed - both positive and negative. It is an excellent resource for Mormons who want the "unvarnished" or "uncoorelated" truth of Joseph Smith but from a believing LDS viewpoint.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 9:49 a.m.

    Wkipedia should be taken with a grain of salt, but In researching controversial topics a wider number of sources should be referenced.

    For example, "History of Canada" is likely to be less prone to dramatically different interpretations and biases than "global warming".

    Politics and religion naturally lack consensus, and among religions Mormonism attracts attention because it challenges outsiders to question their own religious beliefs. It's certainly not the only provocative religion, but compared to, say, Hinduism, it's positioning will attract scrutiny.

    That said, the topic of Mormonism is probably less controversial in the US than the Dalai Lama is in China. (For information why, check Wikipedia. :) )

  • Instereo Eureka, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 9:49 a.m.

    I think Wikipedia is a great place to start to find out what is generally taken as the common view of things.

    Just look at the numbers. There are 100,000 editors with millions of articles. With an excyclopedia there might be 100 editors for 65,000 articles.

    Who's to say they are unbiased. Ideas and interpretation of facts are constantly debated. There are always two sides to everything. So Wikipedia is not something to be feared, abused, or put down but should be viewed as a place to get the lay of the land for a more in depth look at any topic you want to investigate.

    I think most people want to learn about what they already know to justify what they already believe. I think the greatest benefit to Wikipedia is that it's a place for all ideas to come together and for people to see that everything has its opposite.

  • loidinho Orem, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 9:48 a.m.


    I'll take your comment a step farther, because I think we need to look beyond our own biases of organized religion. I remember a quote that states that history is recorded by the victors; something xpat eluded to. There's not a lot of knowledge that can truly be proven- especially in the realm of the humanities. Even the majority of scientific thought is theory which acknowledges a element of doubt. The burden of proof is far greater than a religious problem. I would say it's a human problem.

  • TheAtheist slc, u
    Jan. 30, 2011 9:42 a.m.

    This is outrageous; you want this forum to be level headed and kind in debate. I submit an opinion that is different then that of the LDS church and you do not allow my comment. Censorship at its best.

  • juni4ling Somewhere in Colorado, CO
    Jan. 30, 2011 9:23 a.m.

    So an anti-Mormon professor from a fundamental Christian college in the Bible belt wants a "neutral" point of view on the LDS Church.

    Ouch. My sides hurt from laughing.

    Good reporting, DNews. After looking at some articles on the LDS Church on Wiki, I knew something was up with blatant anti-Mormon phrasology, and point of view in the articles.

    Good job to the folks who make an effort towards academic honesty and itegrity.

  • Madden Herriman, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 9:16 a.m.

    Wikipedia is great for factual information sharing, where science, math and research knowledge can be shared for the benefit of others. That is where its strength lies. When it comes to hot-button issues, it is simply a masked editorial page. Read those for entertainment only, just like the comment thread full of trolls in any BYU sports article.

  • Full-on double rainbow Bluffdale, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 9:12 a.m.


    Any comment or post that put the church in a negative light must be a lie or defamatory? I believe chuch history can speak for itself.

  • Demosthenes Rexburg, ID
    Jan. 30, 2011 9:10 a.m.

    Reasonable people realize that if you want to learn about Democrats, you don't ask a Republican -- you talk to a Democrat.

    Similarly, if you want to learn about Catholics, you don't ask a Baptist.

    So why does a non-Mormon think he has the right to tell people about Mormons?

    It's unreasonable.

  • sense,please Salt Lake City, Utah
    Jan. 30, 2011 9:09 a.m.

    Can't anyone use apostrophes correctly?

    "...found that 42 percent of all American's 18 and older use Wikipedia to look for information..."

  • huggyface Murray, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 8:56 a.m.

    Wikipedia is a great tool for understanding, I use it all of the time. But Wikipedia is not considered a credible resource in academia, meaning that it can't be cited in a research paper.

    This article is further evidence that what Moroni told Joseph: "my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people."

    These arguments about Joseph Smith are similar to trying to "prove" the Book of Mormon is true - via scientific evidence. It's not possible, you have to rely on faith. You can know the truth of all things by the power of the Holy Ghost.

  • Captain Kirk Lehi, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 8:46 a.m.


    I am not trying to attack you because I thought most of your post was right on ...
    But I found it interesting that you are also guilty of exactly what you are warning about when you assume that Nicholson was using both screen names. Maybe he was and maybe he wasn't. We can't know this from the article. There is certainly reason to suspect but you assert it as a fact and use it as evidence of a bias in the article.

  • Janet Ontario, OR
    Jan. 30, 2011 8:43 a.m.

    As a college instructor who teaches students to write research papers, I feel Nicholson's pain. Human nature often trumps our careful attempts to get students to search well-documented sources and diverse points of view when pursuing answers about controversial topics. Time and again, students go to sources that validate their preconceived notions. Those who can overcome that comfortable habit learn what serious inquiry means. No one in my department allows Wikipedia as a source.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 8:26 a.m.

    Wikipedia reflects a lot of the problems with organised religion. Aside from the known historical facts, it's pretty much free from burden of proof, and totally subjective. Everybody gets to say not only that they're right, but as such everyone else is wrong.

  • Mary E Petty Sandy, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 8:18 a.m.

    Thank you, Michael DeGroote. Fascinating clear evidence that the eternal battle for truth continues in the ongoing war between good and evil. And we all get to choose for ourselves what side we will be on and fight for. We get to decide how we will use our time and exercise our agency. One day all mankind will know the Truth in our own language and through our own experience. Real Truth will be known and recognized that day by all when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ.

    Till then, my goal is to learn to be like this chief mortal provider of truth who said I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Come Follow me. Love one another. And Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Truth is Jesus Christ. the Son of God; my Elder Brother and the only begotten of our Father in Heaven. I intend to be on His Side when Truth is known by all of us mortals.

  • Bebyebe UUU, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 8:12 a.m.

    Good story DN. I learned al about Wikis and Wikipedia

  • defibman Syracuse, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 7:53 a.m.

    The problem is that if you "consider the source" as my mother used to always tell me, you cannot do that with Wikipedia. Since the "source" is really not known by a casual reader. If everyone that reads the article knew that the person who changed the article was a professor at an "anti-Mormon university, then we could "consider the source".

    Wikipedia is looked to due to its ease of getting some info, not due to its facts. Most of its contents are true but I have found many things to be just plain wrong. I stopped going there several years ago and will not use it again.

  • Cedarite Cedar City, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 7:51 a.m.

    Stephen Colbert said it best with the word "Wikiality" as he praised Wikipedia's adherence to the principles of "truthiness".

  • AZnewser Snowflake, AZ
    Jan. 30, 2011 7:38 a.m.

    Your comment was "too long and redundant."

    This article reminds me that the Internet can be used for good and for evil.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 7:27 a.m.

    I often refer to Wikipedia, but I always take a grain of salt with everything I read there.

    And, it's true...there is no such thing as unbiased history. But, there are those who deliberately choose to tell lies and defame. That's what anti-mormon posters do. Just be aware.

  • my screen name Murray, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 7:19 a.m.

    re: Xpat

    History has two sides but moral truth doesn't.

    I think we have the responsibility to find moral truth, or in other words, the truth that is mostly in line with our Creator's morality.

    Your example of the American Revolution points this out. The Brits said the American's were rebels. The American's said they were freedom fighters. Which is more in line with God's moral truth? I believe the American's because I believe the Declaration of Independence. The "people" have the right to establish a government that doesn't violate their "God given" rights. That's what they did.

    People are free to believe the interpretation of events, but there's only one interpretation that is more in line with our Creator's. If we find that Truth, we create a better world.

    But then, your interpretation may be different...

  • pat1 Taylorsville, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 6:36 a.m.

    We all use Wikipedia instead of the traditional encyclopedia because of its convenience. Yet, as has been emphatically stated earlier, all internet sources must be evaluated as to the validity of their information. That is the nature of the world wide web.

    I applaud the young missionary's zeal, but there will always be those who do not agree, as he will surely discover on his misson.

  • Tom Smith Sandy, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 5:30 a.m.

    This information will certainly change the way I view Wikipedia information in the future!

  • My2Cents Kearns, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 4:33 a.m.

    From my few times of visiting Wikipedia I can't believe anyone takes this site serious. I was doing some information searching and found so many errors in there information I decided it not reliable to use it and I haven't been back to it since. Wikipedia is not legitimate nor accurate about anything and is the last place to seek information, especially if using this site for education or homework studies.

    It is nothing but misinformation and limited value for information. If you want to find a lie or false data this is the place you go to. This web site is so bad I wouldn't even validate the errors is has because there are too many to bother with.

    What really concerned me is when the government got so wired out of their minds when information was being spread on this site and their reactions only validated the truth in some of their exposures.

    Other than that, anyone smart enough would avoid this website as the fraud and misinformation it is. This self proclaimed cyber encyclopedia is not worth the waste of time.

  • Janet Pete Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 30, 2011 2:30 a.m.

    Understand that this kind of questionable source information is very wide-spread and depends upon the intellectual integrity of the editors. Anyone doing research should realize that Wikipedia cautions readers as to the nature of the information. Whether written by a pro- or anti- individual, there is bias and the information must stand the test of time.

    As an example, consider the entry for Scientology. It is a certainty that Scientologists are just as concerned about defamation as any other religious group appearing on the website. Anyone who accepts controversial information without some level of skepticism is probably looking for material to support a prejudiced view in the first place. They just want reinforcemnt of their beliefs and are not interested in balance.