There’s one thing that most American politicians have in common. Google one, from the president of the United States all the way down to a New York state assemblyman, and one of the first hits you’ll get is their Wikipedia page.
Wikipedia has been a fairly ubiquitous part of everyone’s Internet browsing for the last 14 years, having just crossed the 5-million-article threshold for the English version of the site. It’s often the first stop for basic biographical information on politicians for most would-be Googlers, too.
It makes the site a valued (and well-trafficked) resource for politics, but that also presents the site with a problem: Wikipedia stakes its reputation on being a neutral, unbiased source of information—a particularly difficult target to hit in a world of partisan politics, where the “facts” that all parties agree on are few and far between.
So who at Wikipedia, a site run on a famously small staff, gets the task? Is it a group of academics and reporters contributing to the general good in their free time? Nefarious politicos trying to mislead the public? A nameless, faceless hive mind?
Turns out, it is somewhere in between all of that. The Wikipedians I talked to were a mix of academics and hobbyists—but they shared a dedication to a few core points: They all preached one of Wikipedia’s most sacred guidelines—NPOV, or neutral point of view. The other two, NOR (no original research) and verifiability, form the basis of what longtime Wikipedia editors say make the site such a trustworthy source of information.