So, Wikipedia colluded with the NY Times and other major news outlets to keep the news of a reporter’s kidnapping secret:
For seven months, The New York Times managed to keep out of the news the fact that one of its reporters, David Rhode, had been kidnapped by the Taliban.
Days after Mr. Rohde was kidnapped in November, editing tussles began on his Wikipedia entry.
But that was pretty straightforward compared with keeping it off Wikipedia.
Times executives believed that publicity would raise Mr. Rohde’s value to his captors as a bargaining chip and reduce his chance of survival. Persuading another publication or a broadcaster not to report the kidnapping usually meant just a phone call from one editor to another, said Bill Keller, executive editor of The Times.
But Wikipedia, which operates under the philosophy that anyone can be an editor, and that all information should be public, is a vastly different world.
A dozen times, user-editors posted word of the kidnapping on Wikipedia’s page on Mr. Rohde, only to have it erased. Several times the page was frozen, preventing further editing — a convoluted game of cat-and-mouse that clearly angered the people who were trying to spread the information of the kidnapping.
Even so, details of his capture cropped up time and again, however briefly, showing how difficult it is to keep anything off the Internet — even a sentence or two about a person who is not especially famous.
The sanitizing was a team effort, led by Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, along with Wikipedia administrators and people at The Times. In an interview, Mr. Wales said that Wikipedia’s cooperation was not a given.
“We were really helped by the fact that it hadn’t appeared in a place we would regard as a reliable source,” he said. “I would have had a really hard time with it if it had.”
A troubling development for those (like myself) interested in Wikipedia serving as a model of unfettered speech aimed at obtaining the best version of truth possible.
But, of course, we’re dealing with real people and real lives — so, it’s hard to argue that Wikipedia acted inappropriately. The Wikipedia model appears to be evolving into “big media” in which its responsibility must be weighed against its right to free speech. An unwelcome development for free speech advocates, unless you’re David Rhode.