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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Duke Case: Wikipedia.org Unlocks Bio Page for Crystal Gail Mangum

updated: 11:55 p.m., June 21, 2006

Wikipedia.org the internet encyclopedia has just unlocked the biographical page for Crystal Gail Mangum. The page had been locked down (left blank) because there was no "Verifiability" of her identity from a "Reliable Published Source" as required by Wikipedia policies.

The Johnsville News reported on June 10, 2006, that verifiability from a reliable published source of Ms. Mangum's identity in the Duke case was available from the court filings on attorney Kirk Osborn's website.

After an intense internal debate and some foot dragging the editors of Wikipedia released the first "official" biographical entry for Ms. Mangum based on the Kirk Osborn filings. Although the page does have a "considered for deletion" warning, which means the debate still rages.

Her name now also appears in the the Wikipedia entry: 2006 Duke University lacrosse team scandal.

Some of the debate regarding the publication of Ms. Mangum's identity and bio can be followed on these Wikipedia discussion/talk pages:

Talk:Crystal Gail Mangum
Talk:2006 Duke University lacrosse team scandal
Talk:2006 Duke University lacrosse team scandal - Revision
Talk:Uncensored:Crystal Gail Mangum

Wikipedia's authority on these matters has become a big deal. Wikipedia is now the defacto standard for public information. Wikipedia about Wikipedia says:

However, there has been controversy over Wikipedia's reliability and accuracy, with the site receiving criticism for its susceptibility to vandalism, uneven quality and inconsistency, systemic bias, and preference for consensus or popularity over credentials. Nevertheless, its free distribution, constant and plentiful updates, diverse and detailed coverage, and versions in numerous languages have made it one of the most-used reference resources on the Internet.
The biggest challenge is to keep Ms. Mangum's page neutral and objective in light of the strong emotions this case has generated.

The Johnsville News biographical page for Ms. Mangum agrees with all the facts that Wikipedia.org has published so far.

There is no doubt that Crystal Gail Mangum has become a person of historical significance. So it seems completely appropriate for Wikipedia to provide information about her.

It will be interesting to see if any "reputable" news organization decides to break ranks and release her name while the case is still pending. Certainly Dan Abrams the new general manager of MSNBC and the managers of Fox News are discussing this very topic.

How history treats Crystal Gail Mangum is another extremely interesting question. One that everyone will certainly be paying close attention to.

sources:
Duke Lacrosse Scandal: Verifying the Identification of Crystal Gail Mangum [TJN, June 10, 2006]
Duke Lacrosse Rape Case: Identifying the Accuser Debate [TJN, May 15, 2006]

update:
The Wikipedia biographical page for Mike Nifong is still very skimpy. The official biographical information for Michael B. Nifong is posted here at ncdistrictattorney.org. Anyone can contribute to Wikipedia as long as it is done in a neutral and objective manner with verifiability from reliable published sources.

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