Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Wikipedia As a "War Zone," Rather Than a Collaboration

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the one-way-to-look-at-it dept.

The Internet 194

horselight writes "A new study by sociologists studying social networking has determined that Wikipedia is not an intellectual project based on mutual collaboration, but a war zone. The study finds that although the content does end up being accurate as a rule, it's anything but neutral or unbiased. The study includes extensive data on access and editing patterns of users related to major events, such as the death of Michael Jackson and the edit storms that ensued." The article explains that the research (here's the paper at PLoS One) looked in particular at controversial entries, not ones about obscure duck-hunting equipment or long-settled standards.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Whua! (4, Informative)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423377)

Editing wars on wikipedia? Say it ain't so!

Re:Whua! (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423443)

"Editing wars" over trivialities such as the deaths of celebrities are of no significance.

Re:Whua! (4, Interesting)

mellon (7048) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423679)

Yes and no. I've been involved in a POV dispute on an article because a friend of mine died under titillating circumstances, and another friend of mine is being coatracked over it. (Yes, these are real Wikipedia terms.) The death has been all over the news, mostly in very gossipy articles that quote a lot of third parties but don't do any fact-checking. And so of course a lot of people who want to pee on a famous person's wikipedia biography immediately dogpiled on it and started making gossipy edits.

This isn't the first time it's happened, and the person in question has had people cancel speaking invitations on him after he and his assistants have been out of pocket on airplane tickets. So there's a really serious side to this edit warring—even though it's celebrity gossips doing it, real people get hurt in the process.

Re:Whua! (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423911)

and another friend of mine is being coatracked over it. (Yes, these are real Wikipedia terms.)

Care to share the definition of "coatracking" with those of us who couldn't find a clue with both hands?

Re:Whua! (1)

tbird81 (946205) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424155)

and another friend of mine is being coatracked over it. (Yes, these are real Wikipedia terms.)

Care to share the definition of "coatracking" with those of us who couldn't find a clue with both hands?

I don't want to be "the Google it guy", but let's just say I did a quick Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V, and this site came up:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Coatrack [wikipedia.org]

If you're like me you might have read "co-atracking", but it's actually "coat-rack-ing".

Re:Whua! (-1, Flamebait)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424307)

I don't want to be "the Google it guy", but let's just say I did a quick Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V, and this site came up:

Sorry. My phone doesn't have a "Ctrl-C".

Wait, are you still using one of those big boxes next to your desk connected to a TV thing? Wow, I haven't even seen one of those in, like, forever. My older brother has one that he uses for World of Warcraft. I didn't know they do Wikipedia, too.

Re:Whua! (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424649)

So you're using an early generation iPhone, Windows Phone or Android model, then? Because practically everything before them could copy (Windows Mobile even had ctrl+c, literally), and I'm pretty sure that most modern smartphones can copy/paste, too (albeit with kludgy interfaces). Good on you to keep the ol' beast running, though.

Re:Whua! (1)

tbird81 (946205) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424735)

Yeah, I find the major advantage of one of these big boxes connected to (get this) two TV things, is the ability to copy, open new tab and paste to bring up google in less than one second.

I know I'm never going to made into a cool black silhouette dancing on a coloured background, but I chose to forgo this delight when I decided I preferred to sit down in my comfortable lounge sitting in a chair than glaring into a tiny handheld. But each to his own I say.

Re:Whua! (1)

tbird81 (946205) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424131)

"Editing wars" over trivialities such as the deaths of celebrities are of no significance.

Wikipedia was one of the last places to report that Michael Jackson had died, because the editors there thought TMZ was not a reliable enough source. Unfortunately many Wikipedia admins have minimal common sense and no sense of pragmatism.

A site like Wikipedia needs its Aspies, don't get me wrong. But when there's an important and practical decision to be made, perhaps the final should be left to people with better perspective-taking skills.

Re:Whua! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424271)

And exactly how is this is a bad thing? I Wikipedia supposed to be a tabloid? Is Wikipedia supposed to provide 0-day news? No.

Re:Whua! (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424347)

There are, however, other more important disputes, like the amount of continents, which varies according to each country's POV. - America is considered one continent in some places, and two (South America and North America) in others). Oceania has similar disputes.

Re:Whua! (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424577)

Would a regular encyclopedia even have much coverage regarding a singer besides the dates they were born and dead plus the music style?

Re:Whua! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423545)

It ain't so!

Re:Whua! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423547)

Somebody cue the long-time Wikipedia editors, robotically and soullessly demanding specific examples of how bad it is trying to edit Wikipedia (complete with citations), which they will promptly either rationalize, handwave away, or flat-out ignore. I'm surprised they're not here already.

Re:Whua! (4, Informative)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423773)

"Holodomor" articles in multiple languages directly contradict each other (and one in English contains nothing but US propaganda and baseless accusations of Robert Conquest).

As a rule, Wikipedia articles about all historical events in 20th or 21st century are heavily colored by propaganda, and likely to be wrong in all but most basic aspects (time, location, few associated political figures, reaction of the media in the country where prevailing editor happened to be located, etc.)

Re:Whua! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424137)

Wikipedia is a steaming pile of biased, propagandized shit guarded by mouth breathing, mother's basement dwelling trolls.

In my classes (University professor here) any paper or project that has anything from Wikipedia, cite, summary, discussion, anything - is automatically given an F.

Free shit is exactly worth shit.

Re:Whua! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424205)

In my classes (University professor here) any paper or project that has anything from Wikipedia, cite, summary, discussion, anything - is automatically given an F.

I bet you don't even see the irony of this.

Re:Whua! (1)

noh8rz4 (2667697) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424819)

i don't get it. what's wrong with GP's answer?

Re:Whua! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424291)

I bet you teach in the US.

Re:Whua! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424375)

Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.

You are a living proof.

The stories you're liable to read in the bible (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423559)

Editing wars on wikipedia? Say it ain't so!

It ain't so.

But in the interests of WP:NPOV, it is so.

Re:The stories you're liable to read in the bible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423831)

> It ain't so.
> But in the interests of WP:NPOV, it is so.

[citation needed]

*tap tap tap*

There, now it says it isn't, in fact, so.

*tap tap tap*

There, now it says it may, in fact, be so - several sources claim it isn't, but my friend's blog claims it is.

Re:Whua! (2)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423721)

Maybe Wikipedia can detect edit wars the same way as the researchers and improve merging tools. They could have a arbitrator come in and merge the two versions, or require one (or both) to submit more support for their versions before their info is incorporated. Or this is not something worth improving.

It's a start (4, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423411)

Wikipedia is a starting point for research. It isn't the final word on anything. And it does really well at being a starting point, better than anything else before it.

Nice troll (2)

shiftless (410350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423429)

Except for search engines, which work just as well as a "starting point." Or Google Scholar, which also works well as a starting point, for those who want the scientific angle.

Re:Nice troll (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423463)

Nah, they really don't. Which is why Google gives such an advantage to Wikipedia in its search results.

I don't know if you remember the days before Wikipedia, the internet was full of information about computers. Information about most other topics was lacking.

I admit sometimes I miss those days, the days before SEO and the commercial takeover of the internet.

URL representing a given subject (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423485)

Except for search engines, which work just as well as a "starting point."

Wikipedia is good for use as a URL representing a given real-world subject. For example, an article about graphics in Linux could refer to "this DRM [wikipedia.org] , not that other DRM [wikipedia.org] ". And I haven't yet found a search engine that presents a single page summarizing the consensus of how reliable sources view a subject.

Or Google Scholar, which also works well as a starting point, for those who want the scientific angle.

Not everybody wants to get on a bus and go to a local campus university every time he or she runs into a paywalled article.

Re:URL representing a given subject (1)

zmughal (1343549) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423529)

Wikipedia is good for use as a URL representing a given real-world subject. For example, an article about graphics in Linux could refer to "this DRM [wikipedia.org] , not that other DRM [wikipedia.org] "

Which is why DBpedia [dbpedia.org] (which is based on Wikipedia) plays such a central role for Linked Data [cyganiak.de] .

Re:URL representing a given subject (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423703)

I was just going to point out that google scholar is infinitely broken due to JSTOR, Lexis Nexis, and the other large research databases prohibitative nature. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia that updates more often. You wouldn't write a research paper with it but as others have pointed out the value. The editing wars reflect the current anti-science & subjectivity running rampant in American conservative culture.

Re:Nice troll (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424329)

Not really, search something on Google that doesn't have a specific Wikipedia page and you end up with a huge mountain of shit with the most tenuous connections you could think of.

Do an image search for something specific and look how quickly you start getting pictures returned that have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what you were searching for. Usually within the first page of results, definitely by the second, random shit starts creeping in. Their web search is generally not much better; if it's not within the first few results you either need to rephrase what you're looking for or start using the search tools and special operators to eliminate some of the chaff. Otherwise you're clicking 'next page' until your fingers fall off...

I don't necessarily blame Google for this; there are 8.23 billion indexed pages [worldwidewebsize.com] out there, after all, and some sites are a clusterfuck of disparate information anyway, which must make proper indexing a real pain in the ass.

I wish I could by default not get any search result that was a blog, though. That would be a big help. I'm almost never trying to find some asshole's blog when I'm doing a Google search, and Lord knows there are a lot of assholes out there with blogs polluting the shit out of search results (especially all the dummy pages with 946 'keywords' and no other content, I mean, what the fuck)...

Re:It's a start (4, Interesting)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424231)

Wikipedia is a starting point for research. It isn't the final word on anything.

I would hope that most people would understand that simple fact, but the sheer number of people that try to cite Wikipedia as a reference demonstrates that said hope is misplaced.

Wikipedia is crack for a Cliff Clavin-esque [wikipedia.org] information junkie like me, but I would never stake my reputation on anything I read there unless I had at least 3 independent sources confirming it, although I admit, the articles concerning math and science I generally accept as truth (whereas the articles concerning celebrities or infamous historical figures I generally do not) because I figure if I have a hard time making it through a given article that the citation's are going to be ancient Egyptian to me. The simple English Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] is obviously better in that regard, but it's too simple. Consider their article for Chaos theory [wikipedia.org] ...barely a stub.

Still, I'm glad I live in a time with access to such a vast repository of human knowledge, even with the bias issues. I'm old enough to remember what this was like [shoeboxblog.com] ...

Re:It's a start (4, Insightful)

readin (838620) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424653)

Parent and grandparent post make part of an important larger point. Wikipedia is like any other written thing - it's not perfect and when you read it you have to be aware of the strengths and limitations of the writers. The same is true of anything you read in newspapers, science journals, history text books. As part of the writing process people let biases and inaccuracies creep in. Sometimes it is deliberate POV pushing, sometimes not so deliberate. Sometimes it is just an unavoidable effect of having to pick and choose which information to include because space is limited so simply can't give fair hearing to all sides of a debate. Sometimes it is ignorance on the part of the writer that is compounded by the writer not even realizing that he is ignorant about an aspect of a subject.

It's important to think about the likely motivations of writers when reading Wikipedia. It is important to be aware that occasionally vandals insert wrong information. You can always check the sources, and check the recent changes to the article when you suspect the information is simply wrong. When you suspect bias it is good to check the discussion history too so you can get an idea of what biases the different editors are trying to deal with. ~~~~

Re:It's a start (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424945)

Wikipedia is crack for a Cliff Clavin-esque [wikipedia.org] information junkie like me, but I would never stake my reputation on anything I read there unless I had at least 3 independent sources confirming it

Don't worry too much, most people don't have a reputation that is worth anything, so it matches Wikipedia.

In fact come to think of it, my reputation is worth about zero too, which is something I read on Wikipedia.

major events, such as the death of Michael Jackson (-1, Troll)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423417)

The death of a person famous for being well known is not a "major event".

Re:major events, such as the death of Michael Jack (1, Insightful)

shiftless (410350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423451)

Funny, cause I thought Michael Jackson was well known as the best selling artist of a number of studio albums, as well as a performing artist whose concerts have touched millions across the globe. (As evidenced by the loud outpouring of grief from all over the planet when he died.)

What planet do YOU live in where the death of Michael Jackson is not a major event?

Re:major events, such as the death of Michael Jack (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423477)

earth. some nig dying of an overdose is not a major event.

Re:major events, such as the death of Michael Jack (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424111)

AC is jealous of his talent, wealth, fame, and adoration by much of the world.

Don't say Jackson and "touched" in one sentence (4, Funny)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423501)

Michael Jackson [...] touched millions across the globe.

That could be so taken the wrong way.

Re:major events, such as the death of Michael Jack (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423803)

The question is who reads Wikipedia for "current events"? Nobody, if you want to read about Michael Jackson dying go to fucking CNN.

If Wikipedia required a two-week waiting period before something was updated, it would kill about half the edit wars. That will never happen though because Jimmy thinks raw edit counts is a useful statistic.

Re:major events, such as the death of Michael Jack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423935)

He stopped playing music long before his death, so it wasn't anything important [youtube.com] .

Re:major events, such as the death of Michael Jack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424069)

Funny, cause I thought Michael Jackson was well known as the best selling artist of a number of studio albums, as well as a performing artist whose concerts have touched millions across the globe. (As evidenced by the loud outpouring of grief from all over the planet when he died.)

What planet do YOU live in where the death of Michael Jackson is not a major event?

I, and many others, simply didn't like his music. Not my taste - not when I was young, not now either. Just one of many un-interesting celebrities. So no, his death didn't matter much to us. Certainly not a "major event". More like "yet another war in Africa" - obviously sad but of very little interest. 15 other people died that day in my town - didn't know any of them either.

And then there are those that believe in the pedophile accusations against him - possibly thinking it is good he's gone.

Re:major events, such as the death of Michael Jack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424527)

'Off The Wall' was a great album.

Re:major events, such as the death of Michael Jack (1)

iCEBaLM (34905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423467)

Famous for being well known, is that like being dark for being black, or loud for having a high volume?

Re:major events, such as the death of Michael Jack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423483)

No it's like being employed for having a job.

Re:major events, such as the death of Michael Jack (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423651)

It's like being a Kardashian

Re:major events, such as the death of Michael Jack (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424197)

'Famous for no good reason' would be a good way to phrase the idiom without the apparent tautology. I like the sibling AC's example of a Kardashian.
This is as opposed to being famous for being a really good musician or whatever.

commercial vs volunteer free (0)

Hanzie (16075) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423435)

With the older commercial encyclopedias, accuracy and reliability reputations made or broke companies.

With Wiki being free and volunteer, these restraints famously don't exist, leading to exactly this kind of thing. Not good or bad, it just is.

I LIKE arguments in my research sources; sources should be challenged. If the challenges are in the source itself, so much the better.

Describe the controversy (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423517)

If the challenges are in the source itself, so much the better.

And that's exactly the sort of challenge you'll find in a good article on Wikipedia: documenting that one reliable source disagrees with another. A good article will maintain neutrality by describing the controversy [wikipedia.org] .

Re:commercial vs volunteer free (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423557)

With the older commercial encyclopedias, accuracy and reliability reputations made or broke companies.

Exactly: accuracy and reliability reputations. Not quite the same as accuracy and reliability.

With Wiki being free and volunteer, these restraints famously don't exist, leading to exactly this kind of thing. Not good or bad, it just is.

Actually, I've never seen evidence of this sort of thing in articles on subjects about which I really cared.

I LIKE arguments in my research sources; sources should be challenged. If the challenges are in the source itself, so much the better.

And, of course, in Wikipedia it's all there. What are the chances that a commercial encyclopedia would publish all the correspondence between its authors and editors?

Re:commercial vs volunteer free (4, Insightful)

svick (1158077) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423571)

Just because Wikipedia is not for-profit doesn't mean the same rules don't apply.

If a commercial encyclopedia is not good enough (what you describe as "accuracy and reliability reputation"), it means people won't buy it and so the publishing company will go bankrupt.

If an open encyclopedia like Wikipedia is not good enough, it means people won't visit it. And that means nobody will edit it and nobody will donate to it and so the publishing organization will have to close down. And even if it would technically keep running, no visitors and no editors means it's a dead project anyway.

Either way, if an encyclopedia is not good enough, it will eventually go down. It doesn't matter whether it's made for profit or not.

Re:commercial vs volunteer free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424143)

completely uninsightful post full of simpleton libertardian dogma

in any case, google is rigged so wikipedia gets a top-three result regardless of article quality or backlinks. so unless one can convince larry page your site is an official internet institution, you never get wikipedia's traffic

Re:commercial vs volunteer free (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424377)

If a commercial encyclopedia is not good enough (what you describe as "accuracy and reliability reputation"), it means people won't buy it and so the publishing company will go bankrupt.

Conservapedia.

Re:commercial vs volunteer free (3, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424047)

I LIKE arguments in my research sources; sources should be challenged. If the challenges are in the source itself, so much the better.

That's why the greatest innovation of Wikipedia is not that it's so comprehensive or that it's free or that anyone can edit it.

The greatest innovation of Wikipedia is the "Talk" tab, where disagreements over the content of an entry is hashed out.

One of the worst aspects of the old Encyclopedia Britannica with which I grew up was that articles were presented as the last word on a topic, even though there was almost certainly similar disagreement over many entries.

Whatever you might think of Howard Zinn, he gave us one very important thing to think about: That facts may be facts, but they can look very different depending on whether you're the hammer or the nail.

On the other hand (I'm arguing with myself here), the Talk pages are also filled with propagandizing, bullying, efforts at obfuscation and outright lying. There is definitely an element of devaluation of expertise and an overall "Fox News-ing" of facts.

Takeaway is, as many have said, make Wikipedia (or Britannica) the starting point if you want to learn something, not the end. And blogs should never be taken as authoritative.

oh fucking bullshit (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424789)

encyclopedias from the early 1900s were blatantly racist and often stupid.

encyclopedias from the 1950s reflected the cold war biases of their authors.

wikipedia is a steaming pile of shit, but its better than anything that came before it, which is why people use it and why encyclopedias are dead as a medium unless someone can figure out a new business model where the authors get payed for their work.

(hint - wikipedia already has many articles where authors have been payed, its a dirty secret that nobody likes to discuss, but fundamental to understanding how the site works)

Bullshit summary that mischaracterizes the article (5, Insightful)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423449)

While the so called summary claims that wikipedia is supposed to be this "war zone", the article's fucking summary states that they have concluded that "edit wars are mainly fought by few editors only." The article then proceeds with statements such as:

"Usually, different editors constructively extend each other’s text, correct minor errors and mistakes until a consensual article emerges – this is the most natural, and by far the most common, way for a WP entry to be developed.

and even

As we shall see, in the English WP close to 99% of the articles result from this rather smooth, constructive process.

So, fuck you slashdot for posting a story with such an inflamatory, patently wrong and misleading pile of crap which was supposed to be the summary. If you have to lie to desperately generate page hits then it's a clear sign that you are dead as a communications medium.

Wait wait - my edit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423597)

While the so called summary claims that wikipedia is supposed to be this "war zone", the article's fornicating summary states that they have concluded that "edit wars are mainly fought by few editors only." The article then proceeds with statements such as:

"Usually, different editors constructively extend each other’s text, correct minor errors and mistakes until a consensual article emerges – this is the most natural, and by far the most common, way for a WP entry to be developed.

and even

As we shall see, in the English WP close to 99% of the articles result from this rather smooth, constructive process.

So, thank you slashdot for posting a story with such an accurate, patently brilliant and perfectly balanced paragraph which was in the summary. If you have to add your editorial competencies to submissions to generate page hits then it's a clear sign that you are continuing your greatness as a communications medium.

Re:Bullshit summary that mischaracterizes the arti (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423623)

+1

Re:Bullshit summary that mischaracterizes the arti (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423683)

You need to learn how to read. The article actually says: "Edit wars are frequently conducted between a few extremely vociferous individuals." That means that not as frequently, but still sometimes, edit wars are conducted between many individuals.

Re:Bullshit summary that mischaracterizes the arti (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423763)

slashdot ... you have to lie to desperately generate page hits ... you are dead as a communications medium.

You sound surprised. Are you new here?

Re:Bullshit summary that mischaracterizes the arti (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424541)

Worst article to come back from a /. hiatus I could possibly imagine.

Long-settled standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423491)

You mean like the fact that 1 kilobyte is 1000 bytes and 1 kibibyte is 1024 bytes?

Re:Long-settled standards (0)

Immerman (2627577) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423729)

Except that, historically, they aren't. Even in practice almost nobody uses the ibi prefixes. If a programmer talks about a 12kB block size you can bet they mean 12x2^10 because that's what's naturally addressable. If you buy 8GB of ram you'll be getting 8x2^30 bytes because circuit capacity scales naturally with powers of two and marketing doesn't want to sell 8.589934592GB chips. If you buy a 100GB hard drive you'll get (roughly) 100x10^9 bytes because capacity has no natural scaling constraints and marketing wants to make the numbers as big as they legally can.

You can hardly say something is settled when there are valid ongoing arguments on both sides. Yes the SI prefixes mean one thing - but when every technical-minded person since the beginning of the computer age has assigned them a slightly different meaning in one specialized application for the sake of convenience, well human culture and language have always been far more defined by precedent than edict.

Re:Long-settled standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424391)

Thanks for explaining the GP's irony.

Is any of this news? (5, Insightful)

skine (1524819) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423505)

Wikipedia is a great resource for getting a basic overview of topics that are essentially settled.

The problem comes in with new stories, whose only sources tend to be news articles that are written to evoke controversy. This is despite the fact that most articles don't really need any more information than is given in the headline, or because there is essentially no factual information available, so the "controversy" is just pure speculation.

The same thing happens with /. articles.

Just looking at recent ones, "Intel Releases Ivy Bridge Programming Docs Under CC License," really doesn't need any more information, unless you don't know what those words mean. And actually, this is a good time to check Wikipedia, because "Intel," "Ivy Bridge," and "CC License," are all fairly settled topics.

On the other hand, "SOPA Protests 'Poisoned the Well,' Says Congressional Staffer," is taking the personal opinion of someone who is employed by someone who was elected to congress, adding the statement that "the internet is at risk," to drum up controversy, and intentionally trying to split people into "us and them."

Re:Is any of this news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424063)

I think it isn't the overview part that works well, but rather those topics that do not lend themselves to bias from a multitude of contrary sources. The social sciences are just full of this, whereas say mathematics is comparatively tame. Any article may suffer from the misplaced ego of someone craving power over others by means of controlling who says what, but it becomes another level entirely when vast numbers of people with different prior teachings come together in a terrific mess.

My favorite example is one I had first hand experience witnessing. In the natural sciences wikipedia pages, if someone were to add criticisms that 'they are only theories', the addition would be quickly removed. Why? Because the literature itself already addresses this. To add such a criticism is to admit to not knowing what it is one is trying to criticize. It would be like two people arguing and one person making a point, then another person trying to refute it while ignoring what the first person had already said that addresses the refutation.

But what happens in areas of knowledge that has far less consensus? One of my particular realms of expertise is epistemology, and specifically the topic of when empiricism is applicable for the investigation of knowledge and when it is not(that is, when it does not meet the requirements for valid use of the natural scientific method) and what other methods can supplement it or take over completely. One particular method is praxeology, which is used primarily in the realm of economics or catallactics, but is far broader than than that. It is an instance of epistemology for investigating a priori non tautologous claims in the same way it complements its empirical counterpart, the natural scientific method. On that page for praxeology is a criticism that is akin to the embarrassing example I gave above of 'its only a theory' for criticism of the natural scientific method. It utterly exposes profound lack of understanding of the epistemological justification for why praxeology is a valid tool for gaining new knowledge about the world. The criticism that praxeology rejects use of empirical data is the whole point of the methodology and is explained in detail throughout the first 100 pages of Human Action. In fact, my example of 'its only a theory' isn't even close to as bad as this. It would be more like a theist adding criticism of the natural scientific method page "I criticize it for using empiricism and lacking mystical rigor". Do you see how bordering on insane such a comment is? It has no place in the page, and yet it remains.

So why is this frustratingly absurd twilightzone-like bizarro claim sitting safe and sound on the page? Because 'neutrality' is really popular consensus. It isn't truth. It isn't reason. It isn't evidence. So it is no surprise that where consensus diverges, truth suffers. But it isn't really even just that. Because all our knowledge is prone to error and can be wrong, any consensus we have isn't guaranteed to be truth. That isn't the real problem. What sets this specific issue apart is ignoring the truth, not simply misidentifying it. The degree of error in these articles is more than that. The problem is the knowledge is already there, already discovered and offered on these pages but it is just ignored and shit upon by the majority of others who care little for honesty and integrity by actually understanding what they are 'refuting'. It is the popular opinion of the majority of prejudiced willfully ignorant wiki editors that causes such nonsense to remain.

why i no longer contribute (4, Interesting)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423519)

I have a PhD in molecular biology, and have worked on articles about DNA; in some very, very obscure techniques used to study DNA, I was, for a brief period, a world authority. I no longer contribute to wiki for two reasons: 1) I have to keep correcting, and recorrecting, and re re re correcting stuff; after a while, it gets tiresome to ahve to deal with people who think that RAM is part of the keyboard... 2) The copyleft allows *for profit* webpages to use my work. I find this intolerable; my hard work is used to make some loathsome 1%er rich? I don't mind if non profits do it, but I will be Dam*** if i contribute to something that can be ripped off by for profits. I would also add that the huge amount of work needed to write in markup as opposed to wysiwyg is also a deterrent; perhaps th next gen wiki will fix this and the copy left part

Re:why i no longer contribute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423621)

The second reason is why I'd support the decision for WP to have a GPLv3 type of license. Just so no for-profti arseholes can use it. But then again, it would cause problems in other places. I guess there's no real compromise.

Re:why i no longer contribute (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423699)

2) The copyleft allows *for profit* webpages to use my work. I find this intolerable; my hard work is used to make some loathsome 1%er rich? I don't mind if non profits do it, but I will be Dam*** if i contribute to something that can be ripped off by for profits.

Get over yourself.

Re:why i no longer contribute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423889)

I feel the same as him. I don't work for free.

Re:why i no longer contribute (2)

tbird81 (946205) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424939)

I feel the same as him. I don't work for free.

So you're greedy.

You don't believe in helping others for the benefit of humanity? You feel the only possible reward for doing work is money?

It's a sad life that you live, AC. I bet you (like the GP) complain about the "1%ers" too.

harshing the honey bee (5, Insightful)

epine (68316) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423745)

The copyleft allows *for profit* webpages to use my work. I find this intolerable; my hard work is used to make some loathsome 1%er rich?

In theory, but do you really think that's easy to pull off? Can they really charge more than their middle-man repackaging justifies? Repacking is a value add if done to high standards.

The mandate is to spread knowledge to the whole of the world's population. If middle-men can't make engage in any kind of fee-based recovery concerning editorial costs, you're not going to attract much participation with the dissemination task. I don't see many flowering plants harshing honey bees. I think you've got the wrong picture of the ecosystem.

I have to keep correcting, and recorrecting, and re re re correcting stuff

I learned that lesson early. It's a huge mistake to take pride in bunny-suited textual purity. Wikipedia is a pig farm. Even the most conscientious farmer gets shit on his boots. Also, Wikipedia doesn't exactly encourage subject matter experts to take on leading editorial roles. It's more into the kind of loose accuracy obtained at arm's length remove. I would almost say that Wikipedia actively resists excellence. This is hard concept for many people to comprehend. The highly cultivated "feature articles" are a bit of a Potemkin village. Featureness degrades rapidly after the parade moves on.

My sense is that you'd have been happier contributing to uberpedia. "wiki" is German for "I wouldn't go so far as to call the brother fat. He's got a weight problem. What's the nigger gonna do? He's Samoan." For all its warts, the constructive sentiment is loud and clear.

Re:why i no longer contribute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423769)

Same for me, I am a world leading expert in a procedure of constructing habitats the fast way, I contributed to WP but my stuff got removed as they debated over the terminology and where my stuff belongs (to another page, or rename the page etc) . . . after a few days observing people who have zero knowledge of what I wrote removed or altered the stuff in a manner it made no sense anymore . . . so I quit. The point is, that if you are leading expert in something, those with less clue have the same influence over the content. Best case is, when the others see you know more and help you to get the information into WP, but not so with me. So yes, I left WP as contributor, but use it daily, knowing the real information on a topic I won't find there, but an overview.

Re:why i no longer contribute (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423873)

Was your page ever disrupted by people who don't like the idea of heritability? In the '20s some Russian biologists got shot for studying heritabliity, and Wikipedia can be pretty Communist sometimes.

As a mathematician, I've never had a problem with Wikipedia. But no one has ever been shot or shamed for having the wrong mathematical ideas.

Re:why i no longer contribute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423917)

1) I have to keep correcting, and recorrecting, and re re re correcting stuff; after a while, it gets tiresome to ahve to deal with people who think that RAM is part of the keyboard...

This is something Wikipedia has never gotten a handle on. It was fun to collaborate on early stage articles. But who was to be the free volunteer content janitor for the rest of their lives? People drop random crazy bullshit into articles and it stays there for months.

The only people who seem to care are people with a deep personal interest in the topic ... usually political or nationalistic types. If the article isn't 'controversial', generally nobody is minding them.

Of course, there have been proposals to solve this issue, such as versioned articles, but IMO Wikipedia would rather have obsessive-compulsive basement dwellers monitoring the site 24/7 than good casual editors.

Re:why i no longer contribute (1)

Immerman (2627577) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423939)

I can sympathize with the re-editing issue, some form of expertise recognition would certainly encourage their participation. Even just a warning that "You are editing a section was written/corrected by someone confirmed to be a grade N expert in the field, please restrain yourself" might go a long way to reduce "corrections" by well-meaning semi-experts

On the CC issue though I have to disagree, the purpose of such a project is to freely share knowledge - it's not like there's a thriving market in printed wikipedia articles - photos and diagrams are far more likely to be reused, but the only commercial products likely to do so are textbooks and news articles, both of which serve the purpose, and the readers are likely to benefit far more from an accurate, quality diagram than the publisher is. On the other hand say a company wants to include a copy of Wikipedia on a "digital library" server for backwater villages with OLPC programs but no high-speed internet. The only way such a server could be produced is with CC content - there's simply no feasible way to get licenses from the thousands of people involved in a collaborative project, and despite it's altruistic intent it's unlikely that any organization capable of producing such a server would qualify as a non-profit, even if they were providing the server at cost. You could try to dance around the issue with "we're selling the server and including the content free of charge" but they could rightfully be called out on BS for that, and you know some asshole with an ax to grind would do exactly that.

Re:why i no longer contribute (4, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424149)

I have a PhD in molecular biology ... I find this intolerable; my hard work is used to make some loathsome 1%er rich?

You're telling me you have a PhD in molecular bio and you aren't near that top 1% of income? 5%er perhaps? I agree with the notion of not working for free, but I think you're overselling the class-baiting angle.

Re:why i no longer contribute (4, Insightful)

tbird81 (946205) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424253)

You sound quite arrogant, and my guess is that you grossly overvalue your own work and opinion.

Do you really think that your scrawlings on Wikipedia (which other editors constantly have to fix) are being used by millionaires to make even more millions?

You call people "loathsome" because they have more money than you? Are you delusional? You, along with many other PhDs are giving "academics" a bad name.

I put it to you that you only did a PhD because you are socially, financially and intellectually unable to achieve in life - and there's no problem with this - it takes all types to make a world. But my main problem with you is your hatred and inability to work with other people. I don't use Wikipedia much anymore, but on behalf of them: Good riddance, Wikipedia is better off without you.

Re:why i no longer contribute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424783)

I have a PhD in pure mathematics and I find your attitude towards copyleft somewhat offensive. Yes, Wikipedia has some serious problems and I feel for you as you waste your valuable time correcting bad edits but the copyleft license is not something which needs "fixing".

This world needs less people telling others what they may and may not do with information.

war zone my ass (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423535)

War zone? Ridiculous!

It's nowhere near that good.

So what? (1)

Burz (138833) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423541)

Picking controversial entries is bound to lead you to examples of contention, on Wikipedia or elsewhere. And as GreatBunzinni (642500) pointed out, the Slashdot summary misrepresents the study just to be sensational.

That's excellent! (3, Interesting)

goruka (1721094) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423577)

Instead of a single-bias publication which is solved behind closed doors, we get plenty of people with different biases arguing and trying to make their points stand. How is not that a huge improvement?

Re:That's excellent! (3, Insightful)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424011)

Because the loudest or most persistant voice can win over the correct voice.

Re:That's excellent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424721)

Thank you, seriously, for pointing this out. For everyone else, sometimes THERE ARE NOT TWO SIDES TO EVERY DAMNED ISSUE. Some things are just facts. The Fox News approach to distorting everything by making everything not friendly to right-wingers a "controversy" requiring "both sides" to debate something is just a travesty.

And what compendium has ever existed in a vacuum? (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423649)

Thanks, sociologists, for once again stating an obvious fact of human nature. News flash: Wikipedia suffers from the same vicissitudes of human behavior as every other compilation of knowledge on the planet.

Re:And what compendium has ever existed in a vacuu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424443)

Thanks, sociologists, for once again stating an obvious fact of human nature. News flash: Wikipedia suffers from the same vicissitudes of human behavior as every other compilation of knowledge on the planet.

"The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't." -- Ernest Rutherford

You mean bias? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423677)

Did you ever read Encarta and Encyclopedia Britannica in their day? As an example, one showed Napoleon as a hero and one showed him as a villain ... yep, all you're seeing with Wikipedia is a collaborative environment is struggling to globally define things ... it's no surprise.

Was Genghis Khan a mass murder/rapist? It depends on where you're from - some see him as a hero.

Now Wikipedia has several approaches to this dilemma. One involves presenting conflicting views, another alternative is for "political correctness" and avoids any conflict or bias. I know which i'd rather prefer.

Oh yeah, iTunes sucks donkey balls. Sorry - had to say it :) Just my bias.

AC

Wales is the root of the problem (3, Interesting)

br00tus (528477) | more than 2 years ago | (#40423715)

Everyone has their own political opinions, as does Jimmy Wales. He used to run a mailing list devoted to Ayn Rand. Speaking of Wikipedia and conservative economist Friedrich Hayek, Wales has said "Hayek's work...is central to my own thinking about how to manage the Wikipedia project. One can't understand my ideas about Wikipedia without understanding Hayek." Thus, his opinions on politics, and what used to be called political economy, have bearing on Wikipedia's structure.

Of course, a project which gets large enough can't be run as an absolute dictatorship, or it falls apart (or everyone moved on to a split). The official Wikipedia explanation page for the 2005 Elections [wikipedia.org] is laughable. First of all, if you read the mailing lists and Wikipedia posts, Jimbo didn't even want a binding election, he wanted to appoint everyone himself. There was such resistance to this he backed off. Then fanatical Point of View pusher JayJG ran in the 2005 election for the Arbitration Committee. By any measure, he lost the election, partly due to such an overwhelming number of no votes, because so many people thought he lacked fair-mindedness and balance. So Jimbo ignored the election votes and appointed JayJG to the Arbitration Committee. Because they were ideological allies. This is all glossed over in the official entry on the elections above.

Nowadays, it probably seems silly to have been so involved in it, but when Larry Sanger's Wikipedia came out (another person thrown under the bus by Jimbo, once Sanger's Wikipedia idea started taking off, Wales took over and tried to write Sanger out of history) it had a lot of potential. So much of what happened is despite Wales, not because of him. I think it could have been even better, but it was not meant to be, not in this iteration of the wiki encyclopedia idea any how.

Speaking of neutral point of view, the recognized systemic bias [wikipedia.org] etc., let's take a look at the opening two paragraphs of the Abu Nidal [wikipedia.org] biography and see if sounds encyclopedic or not:

"Abu Nidal...born Sabri Khalil al-Banna...was the founder of Fatah–The Revolutionary Council. At the height of his power in the 1970s and 1980s, Abu Nidal, or "father of [the] struggle," was widely regarded as the most ruthless of the Palestinian political leaders. He told Der Spiegel in a rare interview in 1985: 'I am the evil spirit which moves around only at night causing ... nightmares.' Part of the secular Palestinian rejectionist front, so called because they reject proposals for a peaceful settlement with Israel, the ANO was formed after a split in 1974 between Abu Nidal and Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction within the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)...Patrick Seale, Abu Nidal's biographer, wrote of the attacks that their 'random cruelty marked them as typical Abu Nidal operations.'"

I doubt even Haaretz would publish something like this. Yet it's an encyclopedia entry on Wikipedia. Whether you like Nidal or not, this is not neutral and encyclopedic writing. If you don't think this is biased or unencyclopedic enough, it gets worse as the article goes on. And there are worse examples, this one just comes to my mind. If your answer is "It's Wikipedia, just change it yourself", you've missed the point of this post. Go to Wikipedia Review [wikipediareview.com] to really get an answer to that question.

Re:Wales is the root of the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424379)

Wikipediareview.com is as good as defunct these days. Most of the contributors have moved on to
 
http://wikipediocracy.com/
 
Related discussion thread on the forum there: http://wikipediocracy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=550

Re:Wales is the root of the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424525)

You seem to not understand what "encyclopedic neutrality" means. An encyclopedia is a tertiary source that collects a wide range of information from other sources. Neutrality is applied to representation of sources, not to the subject. You don't give equal weight to a widely-held view and a niche minority view as though both are equally represented in the world. That may be neutral in the sense of Switzerland neutral, but when the encyclopedia says "neutral" they mean "representative", as in you, the editor, do not insert or remove opinions, you write what the sources say, which may or may not favor one view over another.

unbiased (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40423723)

People need to realize that 'unbiased' is a mythical word.

Wikipedia rejected me (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424079)

I was the world's #1 authority on a very narrow subject. No kidding, I really was - in the English language, anyway. The Wikipedia article was blah, the sort of crap that people copy & paste from local government websites. Stats and figures, GDP, tons per month exported from the port, that sort of crap. The native language article on the same topic was pretty blah, too. I took it upon myself (this was in 2005) to update the article, remove the crap, and start plugging away at making it more useful to the world. You know what happened, right? Revert. Revert. Revert. Apparently I wasn't a "Wikipedian" which somehow counted against me. A couple of my edits sneaked through, but after getting reverted several times, I was through. I made my own website on the same topic that was 100x better than the Wikipedia article, and eventually made it up to #3 for the Google keyword. I added the website to the "external links" section - guess what happened? Rejected as spam.

Oh well, I learned my lesson, eh? I will never again even bother to try contributing to Wikipedia. My story isn't unique, you'll probably see it repeated several times in these comments.

controversial topics are controversial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424147)

controversial topics are controversial. The study is on edit war behavior, not the prevalence of edit wars. The article's title and gist is pretty far from the paper's... and the poster's summary is pretty much directly contradicted by the paper.

For example, the paper says that "Usually, different editors constructively extend each otherâ(TM)s text, correct minor errors and mistakes until a consensual article emerges - this is the most natural, and by far the most common, way for a WP entry to be developed"

Another obvious conclusion (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424179)

looked in particular at controversial entries, not ones about obscure duck-hunting equipment or long-settled standards.

Wow, so editing of controversial entries turns out being not very collaborative. What's next? Victims of abuse are more likely to be unhappy in their marriage? Come on. what's the point here? Signed, a guy who didn't RTFA. :-)

Alternative Reality (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424227)

Alternatively one could interpret that the researchers are seeing what they want to see. A little bias anyone?

Kinda like Slashdot has become (0)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424359)

Shills with mod points knocking down any post they disagree with. Posting with one account and modding themselves up with another. Welcome to the Internet.

Even more surprising... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424565)

is the effort expended by "editors" to roll back modifications that aren't about important subjects, aren't controversial in nature, and aren't poorly constructed. These people have weird lives, weird values.

PLoS One, lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40424605)

PLoS One can be a absolute laughing stock. Don't get me wrong, there are good, well researched articles, but there also complete trash articles. For instance, by "particularly" looking at controversial topis, they biased their data pool. They should have pulled hundreds of articles, and randomly selected articles. In fact, I think they should have checked by number of edits as well. So check overall for a trend, and then check for a trend by total number of edits.

Summary makes bits up, as usual (4, Informative)

ras (84108) | more than 2 years ago | (#40424923)

Typical inflammatory Slashdot story that gets it so wrong you have to wonder whether the submitter read TFA. The Slashdot summary says:

sociologists studying social networking have determined that Wikipedia is not an intellectual project based on mutual collaboration, but a war zone.

What the paper actually says:

Usually, different editors constructively extend each other’s text, correct minor errors and mistakes until a consensual article emerges – this is the most natural, and by far the most common, way for a WP entry to be developed. ... As we shall see, in the English WP close to 99% of the articles result from this rather smooth, constructive process.

The paper does say there are some articles are the subject of what appears to be permanent edit wars. But they are a tiny proportion:

it is a credit to the WP community that such cases are kept to a minuscule proportion of less than 100 in the entire set of 3.2 M articles

The summary says:

The study finds that although the content does end up being accurate as a rule, it's anything but neutral or unbiased.

The paper is a study of human interaction in social media. It is not a study into the quality of Encyclopeadia's. It draws no conclusions on the accuracy, neutrality, or bias in of Wikipedia's articles whatsoever. Nonetheless when they set the scene in the introduction they quote this result from another paper:

independent studies have shown that, as early as in 2005, science articles in WP and Encyclopedia Britannica were of comparable quality

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?