The Whacking of Wikipedia, 123

Ten thousand judges can’t be wrong. O.k. Maybe not ten thousand. And maybe some of them can be wrong. But I applaud the very recent New Jersey Appellate Division decision reversing a lower court ruling because it was based, in part, on a Wikipedia entry. The issue in the case, Palisades Collection v. Graubard, a-1338-07, involved identifying the true owner of a credit card debt to ascertain standing to sue. Counsel for the claimant collection agency needed to establish how the collection agency came to own the debt. One of the crucial pieces of evidence establishing the chain of ownership was a Wikipedia entry showing J.P. Morgan Chase’s acqusition of Bank One in 2004.

The Appellate Division was troubled by reliance on Wikipedia,an on-line source that can be edited by anyone and which loudly disclaims security in the contents of any given article and its resemblance to “the state of knowledge in any given field.” The entry was deemed to violate local evidentiary rules, rendering the plaintiff’s case insufficient.

Read the decision and “weep.” But don’t say I didn’t tell you so.


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