Democrats launch McCainpedia

McCainpedia represents a new step for political information sites, but some are criticizing its name because the DNC is keeping the editing in-house.

The primary season hasn't ended, but Democrats have already begun the online battle against Republican presidential nominee John McCain with the launch of McCainpedia. The site is a wiki about McCain, but it's funded by the Democratic National Committee. The goal? To "centralize research material, allowing the general public to use it as they see fit," according to the site's "about" page. In other words, the McCainpedia is a one-stop shop for talking points that can be used to argue against the Republican candidate.

While its name is partly inspired by Wikipedia, the community-written encyclopedia, the McCainpedia is read-only for members of the public, prompting technologists to criticize the site for violating the community-driven ethos of Web 2.0. Given the polarizing nature of elections, the DNC says it is keeping editing in-house to "fully validate all of the information that appears, ensuring accuracy and reliability."

Based on just the headlines, I thought the McCainpedia was destined to become a case study for media literacy classes. But the top of every page clearly reads "A project of the Democratic Party," leaving no confusion about where the information on the wiki is coming from. It seems the biggest issue with the site is that it's not the forum for debate that its name implies, but rather a highly controlled source for opposition research on the Republican candidate.

What do you think: is it fair to call the McCainpedia a wiki if the public can't edit its content? And what are some of the sites you'll be relying on during election season?

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About the author

    Tech expert Michelle Thatcher grew up surrounded by gadgets and sustained by Tex-Mex cuisine. Life in two major cities--first Chicago, then San Francisco--broadened her culinary horizons beyond meat and cheese, and she's since enjoyed nearly a decade of wining, dining, and cooking up and down the California coast. Though her gadget lust remains, the practicalities of her small kitchen dictate that single-function geegaws never stay around for long.

     

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