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Interview: Jimmy Wales Answers Your Questions

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the citation-needed dept.

Wikipedia 146

A while ago you had a chance to ask Jimmy Wales about the amazing growth of Wikipedia, and his role advising the UK government in making academic research available online. Below you'll find his answers to your questions.Collaboration with National Libraries
by robcfg

I'd like to ask if there's the possibility of collaborating with National Libraries in scanning material (specially +25 year books) and let people access them. I know there's a lot of material just gathering dust and I see a potential for collaboration.

Wales: Our community, particularly through local chapters, is engaging increasingly in partnerships and collaborations with galleries, libraries, and museums, but there hasn't been very much work done to date on scanning per se. In general, we aren't necessarily the right partner for that sort of thing - we are a community of writers, editors, photographers, etc., rather than a hosting service for scanned materials. Having said that, fortunately there are some great projects who are working on this sort of thing. Take a look at http://archive.org/scanning as a leading exemplar.



Editing of Information
by sylivin

Wikipedia has become so large that students and youth in particular deem it the official truth. As such governments, companies, and individuals will constantly try to spin that to their own advantage.

Do you believe you will ever be able to reconcile with governments in regards to information they deem classified showing up on Wikipedia and private citizens that consider articles about them to be libel? Or, perhaps, is that just a fight you will need to struggle against for all eternity?


Wales: Human beings will never stop quarreling. It's part of the glorious nature of our species. Government will never cease being stupid and overstepping their boundaries. That, too, is part of the human condition.

The real question is: can open systems adapt and respond in mostly effective ways to deal with the worst of it? And the answer to that is clearly YES.



SPOF
by Anonymous Coward

Currently, Wikipedia Foundation is a single point of failure. It is not difficult to imagine various Alexandria Library scenarios in which Humanity looses crucial information.Instead of begging people for monetary donations to Wikimedia Foundation, wouldn't it be better to ask for donations of storage and bandwidth to keep the whole thing redundant and de-centralized? Are there any ongoing efforts to change Wikipedia's model in this direction?

Wales: The Wikimedia Foundation is not a single point of failure. There are many people and organizations who do backups which are already redundant and de-centralized, and this is in addition to our own internal backup strategy. If the Wikimedia Foundation were to vanish tomorrow, anyone could take the archives (freely licensed!) and start again tomorrow.

This is one of the key reasons why I've been so firm over the years that Wikipedia must be freely licensed.



Certified articles?
by rjlouro

There's the notion that the information on wikipedia can be edited for anyone, and referencing wikipedia sometimes brings a smile.

I always wondered why Wikipedia does not ask known experts for article certification. For example, you as the co-founder of wikipedia could certify that a section of the wikipedia wiki article (or the entire wiki article for wikipedia) was correct. Maybe you could even pay in some cases.

Has this ever been considered, or do you have any other ideas on how to get wikipedia to be received as a irrefutable source of information?


Wales: This is what I would consider to be a fallacious line of thinking. There's a notion that the way to get the very highest quality information is to have an expert certify it. But there's actually little evidence that this is true. There is far more evidence that the best way to get to high quality information is to have a thoughtful, open, public dialog and discussion and debate. To ask anyone with a concern to come forward and voice it reasonably. And to respond quickly and openly to errors.

So, no, I doubt if we'd consider stepping back to an antiquated way of thinking.



Game of Articles
by AmiMoJo

It seems like most major articles are "owned" by some editors who want to impose their own views and opinions on them. The rules of Wikipedia seem to be designed to facilitate this. The only solution seems to be for other editors to sit on the article constantly undoing the other editors edits. It's a war of attrition and it seems like the bad guys mostly win. A lot of good editors have given up. I gave up, tried it again a few years later and gave up again. Many previously good articles are now full of industry shill references and obviously biased rubbish. The quality of Wikipedia is degrading steadily over time. What is being done to reverse this trend? Can anything be done, or is this as good as a wiki gets?

Wales: Every aspect of this question is false. No major articles are "owned" by anyone. The rules of Wikipedia are designed to prevent this.

There is a bit of a war of attrition in some cases - but it is overwhelmingly the case that the good guys win.

All evidence is that the quality of Wikipedia has steadily increased over time. It is not perfect. It needs more work. There are problems, even problems with people trying to sit on articles. But the ongoing improvement of Wikipedia will continue.

As a side note, usually people who have this complaint fade into the background when asked to justify it, or show me an example - and in the vast majority of cases it turns out that the complaint is really "Why am *I* not allowed to own this article?"



Interactive tours and applications
by MassiveForces

Some of my fondest memories as a child was firing up the old 486 and playing through the interactive quests and games in Encarta. Some of them were timelines and guided learning experiences, others were programs that simulated things like gravity and orbits, and I liked playing with some software that could model particle behavior based on your parameters to describe gas diffusion and so on.

My question is, will Wikipedia ever be able to flex any interactive multimedia muscle, and create a more interactive and guided experience for young learners? People may be willing to devote their time writing out separate articles in the pages of an encyclopedia, but I imagine attracting multimedia development would be difficult (unless you can find whoever has been wasting their time writing a plethora of useless apps for browsers and mobiles).


Wales: I really hope we'll see more of this in the future. One problem that we've had is that for a significant period of time, Adobe Flash, which was a Frankenstein's monster of horrifically stupid and broken and proprietary technology, sucked the wind out of efforts to do interesting open multimedia. The ongoing and glorious demise of Flash is going to help a whole new generation of developers do more interesting things, in a freely licensed way. At least: I hope so.



Editors Dwindling
by Kagato

Back in 2011 the AP reported that you commented that the ranks of Editors was slowly dwindling. "We are not replenishing our ranks...it is not a crisis, but I consider it to be important." What's have you and Wikipedia done to address that? Do you see problems do you think need to be addressed with the editor population? What do you think is working well with Editors? How hands on are you with the editor population?

Wales: Things have mostly stabilized. It's still not a crisis, but I still consider it to be important. One of the most exciting developments is the visual editor, which I hope will bring in a whole new class of editors who were turned off by the complexities of wikitext. As I put it: there are lots of geeks who aren't computer geeks.



Wikicurriculums & Wikitextbooks
by PortHaven

When can we see this be developed? I know there is a start with Wikitextbooks. But they seem sporadic. I think we could create an entire curriculum and support library (textbooks) to accompany said curriculum. And have it freely available for all...

Wales: I agree, but it's a really big job. :-) I think it will come in due course, but leadership is needed. I hope something awesome emerges, possibly from the fast-growing MOOC movement.

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146 comments

Use university essays to replace stubs? (4, Interesting)

Bruce66423 (1678196) | about 8 months ago | (#44477397)

One of the features of the academic world is that we students sweat over our essays, only to see them read 2 or 3 times before never being seen or heard of again. If teachers got their classes to write essays on areas needing a Wikipedia article but presently lacking it, there is the potential for good quality new items to enter Wikipedia. And of course once started, additional material, references and corrections can easily made. And the original author gets a sense of ownership of the topic.

Re:Use university essays to replace stubs? (3, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | about 8 months ago | (#44477659)

More likely you'll teach the students why wikipedia should never be used by anyone, ever, the very first time they get into an argument with an admin and out comes the corrupt behavior and [[WP:OWN]] issues and instant unthinking banhammer attitude.

And the original author gets a sense of ownership of the topic.

The worst problems on wikipedia right now are the same as 5 years ago. Small cliques of users or single users who have friends/pet admins who "own" various articles, playing defensive games and provocation games against any user who comes to try to improve the article.

Years and years ago, and nothing has changed [livejournal.com] at wikipedia. It's still the same corrupt culture, still the same behavior, still the same old "guilty until proven innocent, oh wait there is absolutely NO way to ever prove innocence" when those corrupt shitbags known as admins get involved.

Re:Use university essays to replace stubs? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44477797)

Gee, so sorry your POV/marketing edits got reverted. Maybe you'd be welcome at Conservapedia.

Re:Use university essays to replace stubs? (0)

Moryath (553296) | about 8 months ago | (#44477939)

Yawn. I see the wikitrolls are farming modpoints again. Marketing edits aren't something I do. POV edits aren't something I do. In fact, I gave up on bothering correcting anything on shittypedia ages ago. And like me, they've run off user after user after user who tried to improve and contribute with their petty behavior and the corrupt, tin-pot dictator attitude of the incestuous clique of admins running the place.

Re:Use university essays to replace stubs? (1)

slartibartfastatp (613727) | about 8 months ago | (#44478067)

Would you mind pointing a few articles where we can see that happening?

Re:Use university essays to replace stubs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44478105)

Go fuck yourself. YOU are the problem.

Re:Use university essays to replace stubs? (1)

Moryath (553296) | about 8 months ago | (#44478141)

Ask yourself why Phyllis Schlafly's sons, under the username of "Schlafly" and IP sockpuppets, are allowed to take a [[WP:OWN]] attitude towards their mother's article with help of a couple of friendly admins despite the obvious nature of conflict-of-interest and the widespread media coverage of her vile, racist and bigoted statements.

That's just one case that came up recently.

Re:Use university essays to replace stubs? (1)

melikamp (631205) | about 8 months ago | (#44478619)

Didn't you read what Jimmy said? Please identify your concrete concern and give links to the history. If there is a problem there, we'll fix it. If I could, I'd be betting money right now that you won't. Citing a statement and judging it racist is clear-cut NNPOV. Citing some zine which calls her racist is irrelevant. You are just asking too much from an article about a living person, while hinting at some IP-related conspiracy (say what?). Just chill and let the history judge her.

Re:Use university essays to replace stubs? (1)

Moryath (553296) | about 8 months ago | (#44478945)

I don't really care what that shitwitted liar Jimbulb says, or for that matter what lying assholes like you say. "waah we will fix it", I gave up editing in 2008 and I occasionally check it when a result comes up in google search, you assholes ran off people left and right back then and you're still doing it today.

Here's an idea, you go back and look at the shit that was done on wikipedia in 2007: http://parkerpeters.livejournal.com/ [livejournal.com]

Now, look at what happens on wikipedia today.

Same.

Exact.

Shit.

You have your "wikiproject conservatism" acting as a sockpuppet farm coordinating with the Heritage Foundation, and you shitwits don't see the conflict of interest problem. You have a system designed to never, ever give any editor a fair hearing once they are accused of being a "sockpuppet" and where reporting misbehavior by others is as likely to just get their pet admin coming over to block/ban you instead outside of policy, with none of the corrupt fools who do "block review" ever coming back with any answer other than "obvious sockpuppet, ban" or "fuck you you didn't genuflect deep enough and suck my cock fool."

Someone tried to show what was going on with Phyllis Schafly article, and your friendly neighborhood gestapo deleted it from discussion: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk:Phyllis_Schlafly&action=history [wikipedia.org]

Re:Use university essays to replace stubs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44480129)

So you don't care about it but will spam hate out over it????

How does that work?

And rather than come up with the problem in concrete terms here, you instead scream COCKSUCKERS!!!!!

This rather proves that your original complaint was a load of gobshite and your interference was JUSTLY removed.

Kiddie fiddlers have the same problem when it comes to justifying their actions as reasoned and allowable.

Re:Use university essays to replace stubs? (0)

Moryath (553296) | about 8 months ago | (#44478735)

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” - Isaac Asimov

Wikipediocracy [wikipediocracy.com]:1. Wikipedia disrespects and disregards scholars, experts, scientists, and others with special knowledge. Wikipedia specifically disregards authors with special knowledge, expertise, or credentials. There is no way for a real scholar to distinguish himself or herself from a random anonymous editor merely claiming scholarly credentials, and thus no claim of credentials is typically believed. Even when credentials are accepted, Wikipedia affords no special regard for expert editors contributing in their fields. This has driven most expert editors away from editing Wikipedia in their fields. Similarly, Wikipedia implements no controls that distinguish mature and educated editors from immature and uneducated ones.

Compare to Jimbulb Wales' response regarding expert certification of sections on articles on science and medicine:

"There's a notion that the way to get the very highest quality information is to have an expert certify it. But there's actually little evidence that this is true. There is far more evidence that the best way to get to high quality information is to have a thoughtful, open, public dialog and discussion and debate. To ask anyone with a concern to come forward and voice it reasonably. And to respond quickly and openly to errors."

So what we get with Shittypedia is what we've always gotten with shittypedia: lack of anything more than superficial "well it wer in the new york times durr" level research, people who engage in edit warring to "own" the articles, and the admins playing to push their personal POV or help their personal friends. Articles remain much, much worse because of the threads of anti-intellectualism [larrysanger.org] running through the wikipedia culture. It's the "if it isn't on the internet it isn't worthy as a reference" crowd, and the "TL;DR" crowd.

And of course Jimbulb will never answer the other problem inherent to Wikipedia, which makes the anti-intellectual problem even worse:

3. Wikipedia’s administrators have become an entrenched and over-powerful elite, unresponsive and harmful to authors and contributors. Without meaningful checks and balances on administrators, administrative abuse is the norm, rather than the exception, with blocks and bans being enforced by fiat and whim, rather than in implementation of policy. Many well-meaning editors have been banned simply on suspicion of being previously banned users, without any transgression, while others have been banned for disagreeing with a powerful admin’s editorial point of view. There is no clear-cut code of ethics for administrators, no truly independent process leading to blocks and bans, no process for appeal that is not corrupted by the imbalance of power between admin and blocked editor, and no process by which administrators are reviewed regularly for misbehaviour.

4. Wikipedia’s numerous policies and procedures are not enforced equally on the community — popular or powerful editors are often exempted. Administrators, in particular, and former administrators, are frequently allowed to transgress (or change!) Wikipedia’s numerous “policies”, such as those prohibiting personal attacks, prohibiting the release of personal information about editors, and those prohibiting collusion in editing.

Ask yourself: why did Jimbulb hire "Essjay [encyclopediadramatica.se]", KNOWING that the kid had lied and misrepresented himself as a topic area expert (claiming to have a doctorate and be a professor of religious studies) and then proceed to about-face on all of it multiple times?

And how many other Wikipedia admins are able to get away with corrupt shit in the corrupt, cover-each-others-asses wikipedia admin culture that started with Jimbulb's buddies and only gets worse year after year?

Re:Use university essays to replace stubs? (0)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 8 months ago | (#44479719)

Exactly and this is why I tell people to trust what the Wikipedia says about as much as they trust the gas station attendant down the road with 3 teeth and a junior HS education, because too many with an agenda have taken over the place and a handful of mods pretty much own the place, I'll use my own personal anecdote as an example...

When I first heard of Wikipedia i thought it was a good idea, a crowd sourced encyclopedia where you could take each bit of knowledge that each person knows like the back of their hand and turn it into this giant knowledge bank, very cool I thought so i decided to help where I could. Now when I just fixed spelling errors? Not a problem,same with fixing obvious vandalism, but then I found my first and only serious error. It wasn't even on a topic that was important, just a TV show but it said the character X did Y and I thought those who hadn't really watched the show would find it interesting to know that was NOT what was written, instead it was corporate meddling.

I knew this because the DVD box set has both the director and writer complain about this at length as well as both the writer's and director's websites again complain about this at length, so at the end of the paragraph I put a little addendum stating this as well as providing citations...only to watch it disappear in less than an hour, no explanation. When I tried to ask the one who made it disappear WTF was going on? Nothing. So I put it back up only to have him scream "Not notable!" and place it back, when I asked what more he needed, quite politely I might add, when you have both the writer of the episode who has created the character as well as the director say "This is not what we wanted"? Banned for 30 days. I looked at his history and found this guy pretty much doesn't like anybody of a certain sexual orientation and goes out of his way to remove any mention of that orientation in popular sci-fi/horror media, when i pointed this out to the admins? Don't care, he is part of the deletionist clic and therefor can do what he wants.

That is when I did a little research of my own and found out about the deletionist sect and how many with an agenda was ruling from on high, this was before it was found that a Scientologist was controlling the Scientology page and a few guys on the payroll of major corps were controlling the corporate pages to minimize negative information but despite those few high profile deletionists being wiped out the sect still remains and more pages than ever are controlled by the sect.

So anybody who uses Wikipedia as a source of information more controversial than what wires to swap to make a crossover cable? They really need to know they are reading from a source that is as biased as HuffPo or Drudge, only worse as with those you KNOW which biases they have whereas with the sects you have no idea what biases a sect member has, who they may be working for, or what they are changing just out of a personal bias like I saw.

Re:Use university essays to replace stubs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44480049)

A lot of those complaining that there is a clique silencing critics are those who:

Believe Alien Lizard Overlords have taken on Human Form to rule our planet and enslave us.
Believe that God Has Revealed The Truth on the godless sciences to them.
Are desperate to avoid loss of money in a scam they're trying to perpetrate on others.

The antics of these toxic elements mean that any attempts to rectify any clique's existence or interference are doing much more harm than good.

Re:Use university essays to replace stubs? (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about 8 months ago | (#44477693)

There's an active program for that [wikimedia.org], which has had some success, particularly in attracting student editors from countries that are lacking in Wikipedia editors compared to the US and Western Europe.

They do have to be written in an encyclopedia-like way, though, with proper references, a neutral overview, relatively broad view of the subject, etc. Occasionally students will paste in an essay not originally written as an encyclopedia article, and those are often poorer fits. The most common problem with a pre-written essay of that sort is that they start with a thesis statement that focuses on a specific view of the subject, and then support it with an argument; but a Wikipedia article should typically be both broader and less argumentative, and not organized as an argument for a thesis.

Re:Use university essays to replace stubs? (1)

excelsior_gr (969383) | about 8 months ago | (#44479657)

You're right, but why on earth do school essays have to be argumentative? It seems that our educators decided that having an adamant opinion on a given subject and supporting it by all means is more important than being able to see things clearly and from a neutral point of view.

No wonder the world is full of assholes with opinions different than mine. :-)

Re:Use university essays to replace stubs? (1)

melikamp (631205) | about 8 months ago | (#44478257)

I am doing something like this on Wikibooks. I am typesetting exercises for the Calc textbook right now, and have students proofread them, with extra credit for catching typos and mistakes. They loooooove it.

Oh god, no. (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | about 8 months ago | (#44479693)

A sense of ownership over articles is one of Wikipedia's most cited problems. It's one thing for it to devolve naturally, but these are people who are by and large going to be naturally defensive of their work to begin with.

Re:Use university essays to replace stubs? (1)

Khashishi (775369) | about 8 months ago | (#44480075)

Wikipedia isn't a place for essays, but for facts. Academic essay writing is mostly about defending a thesis or some kind of original research. That's not what wikipedia is about.

Such an excellent initiative (3, Interesting)

Camembert (2891457) | about 8 months ago | (#44477437)

Over the years, my love for Wikipedia has grown and grown. This is really one of the most beautiful examples of international collaboration over the internet, sharing universal knowledge with the whole planet. Thank you, Jimmy.

Re:Such an excellent initiative (0)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 8 months ago | (#44477597)

Indeed. It has failings and isn't perfect, but damn if it isn't immeasurably better than anything that's gone before.

Re:Such an excellent initiative (3, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | about 8 months ago | (#44477721)

And over the years, my respect for wikipedia has dwindled to a tiny speck. It's a corrupt place, and nothing on it can be trusted.

Re:Such an excellent initiative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44477827)

Word! I don't believe anything I read on it anymore.

Re:Such an excellent initiative (1)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | about 8 months ago | (#44478439)

...nothing on it can be trusted.

I thought that was the point. Isn't that why you are supposed to have references?

Re:Such an excellent initiative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44479121)

I thought that was the point. Isn't that why you are supposed to have references?

Which wikipedia fails at. Links to websites are not references.

Re:Such an excellent initiative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44479969)

My favorite are when you get circle citations (which are different than citation circles), such as Wikipedia cites random webpage, cites about.com which cites Wikipedia. Of course, real citation verification is hard so instead we get citations to random websites.

Re:Such an excellent initiative (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 months ago | (#44478715)

All institutions worthy of the word create opportunities for corruption, and it's more surprising when it doesn't appear to take advantage of them than when it does. Wikipedia is still enormously useful in spite of the trolls and the trolleditors. You can't trust anything you read (or hear) anywhere without confirmation, really, unless you're getting it from a source you know will have sought that confirmation.

Re:Such an excellent initiative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44479037)

I have had to see lil Jimmy's ugly face e-begging for money from the very users that created the site and have had my own efforts to add to Wikipedia (with full citations and per Wikipedia standards) reverted by control freaks who have nothing better to do but hawk over "their" articles so many times, that I have given up ever wanting to contribute again.

Many of my friends and family feel the same way. We now operate our own private encyclopedia based off of an old dump of Wikipedia that we update as we see fit. For the articles that we've updated, it's much better and more accurate than Wikipedia.

Re:Such an excellent initiative (1)

justthinkit (954982) | about 8 months ago | (#44477945)

Agreed. My appreciation, and use, of Wikipedia has surged in recent years as well.
.

I am a little disappointed that Mr. Wales didn't choose to comment on the criteria for adding someone or something to Wikipedia. I chose "Tom Hopkins" as an example of someone who is a relative "giant" in the motivational field yet is not in Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]. There seems to be a very low barrier to entry for reality show "stars", though. Is Tom Hopkins really less significant to life than this monster [wikipedia.org]?

I'm confused, Jimmy, and I think this is an area that should be talked about. On your About Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] page you even mention how low the marginal cost is to add someone. Did Tom Hopkins (the speaker, not the soccer player) do something to offend? Jim Rohn [wikipedia.org], another famous motivational speaker is there. Even Tony Robbins [wikipedia.org] is there (I kid, but if you look at body of work -- in this case, quotations -- Tony has hardly done anything in the way of _original_ quotations compared to Tom).

Exploring a bit further, Jim Rohn's mento, J. Earl Shoaff [wikipedia.org] is in wiki, despite probably being unknown to 90% of slashdotters (the only group that matters). And Henri Poincare [wikipedia.org] is there too, despite being uncredited by Einstein [wikipedia.org].

Isn't consistently (and taste) regarding who is added among the most important criteria in determining whether Wikipedia is credible and valuable?

Re:Such an excellent initiative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44478529)

They also consistently reject Victor Singer, who designed the Mars balloon landing system on a napkin (literally, with the math and everything). But he's "not notable enough for Wikipedia" despite his many aerospace patents and long history of political activism... Homer Simpson is much more important, apparently.

Re:Such an excellent initiative (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44479827)

Mr. Wales will be over to your appartment shortly, to give you a blow job, because he enjoyed the one you gave him soooo much.

THANKS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44477445)

Thanks for the wikipedia man, nice thing!

AmiMoJo (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44477467)

Waiting for reply from AmiMoJo :D

Question not asked (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44477509)

I kept asking in the first article if Jimmy could give me $5, but it seems like it was constantly deleted by the admins. Can I ask now?

Jimmy, can I have just $5?

Re:Question not asked (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 8 months ago | (#44480011)

Comments are generally not deleted in Slashdot. Maybe you were browsing with a score threshold high enough and your questions were already downmodded.

Doesn't see a problem (4, Insightful)

Kagato (116051) | about 8 months ago | (#44477645)

The answers were mostly disappointing, and I thought he was more than a bit evasive when it came to any of the operational questions relating to editors. It's pretty clear to me he's quite fine with how the current lot of editors carry things out on a day to day basis. While the WYSIWYG editor is LONG overdue I think they are diluting themselves if they think it's going to solve the dwindling editor issues.

Re:Doesn't see a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44477691)

Agreed. The biggest problem with Wikipedia is the people running it. Jimmy Wales has tons of bullshit answers but like a politician hes power hungry and ignores the problems he is largely responsible for.

Re:Doesn't see a problem (3, Informative)

Moryath (553296) | about 8 months ago | (#44477901)

It's not the editors - it's the admins. Less and less, but the ones that remain are totally corrupt and beyond redemption.

This is how bad it was in 2007 [livejournal.com] and if anything, it's actually gotten worse since with the addition of further negatory policies.

Want to prove you're NOT a sockpuppet? There is no technical way to do so - guilty until proven innocent.
Want to show that an admin's block was against policy? "Oh don't talk about others behavior and you can't get unblocked by proving it was a bad block, you have to kiss ass and grovel." Just saying the words "this block violates policy" is enough to get your talk page locked. And their little "email request to be unblocked?" system is a joke, while their Freenode IRC room for the same is manned by 6 admins who are the worst of the worst of the worst.

Trying to add New York Times-reported profile information on someone involved in politics that an admin is protecting? Instant banhammer. Most recently they've been letting Phyllis Schlafly's son (not joking, his username is "Schlafly") edit her article via sockpuppet addresses and maintain ruthless control of it, keeping some of her most disgusting and racist behavior out of the article despite widespread media coverage.

Power corrupts. Petty power corrupts absolutely. There is nobody more invested in petty power, or more corrupt to the very core, than a wikipedia admin.

Re:Doesn't see a problem (1)

high (315481) | about 8 months ago | (#44478659)

Feel free to add to the discussion around this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Phyllis_Schlafly#Southern_Poverty_Law_Center_Reports [wikipedia.org]

Re:Doesn't see a problem (2)

Alef (605149) | about 8 months ago | (#44480243)

I don't really know anything about Phyllis Schlafly, but I did read the discussion linked to by the parent. I suggest that the moderators who raised the GP up to +5 Informative to do the same.

Basically, it looks like some people want to call this Phyllis person a racist, but fail provide reliable sources of her saying something racist, and are miffed because they're not allowed suggest it anyway.

Re:Doesn't see a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44479305)

Again, so sorry your POV/marketing edits got reverted. You'll probably be a lot more welcome at Conservapedia.

Re:Doesn't see a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44478915)

Agreed. The biggest problem with Wikipedia is the people running it.

Ah, yes. And where is your alternative that is so much better?

Re:Doesn't see a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44479173)

In my a$$-hole. Everyone knows except for little dick-taters that Wikipedia is a liberal waste land of shit.

Re:Doesn't see a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44480003)

Are you saying someone can only have an opinion on Wikipedia when they have also made something better? Idiot.

Re:Doesn't see a problem (5, Funny)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about 8 months ago | (#44477795)

If they're "diluting" themselves, they obviously have a solution.

Re:Doesn't see a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44478267)

HAHAHAHAHAHHAA. When I saw his typo I was hoping for some comedic gold. /found

Re:Doesn't see a problem (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 8 months ago | (#44477889)

The answers were mostly disappointing, and I thought he was more than a bit evasive when it came to any of the operational questions relating to editors. It's pretty clear to me he's quite fine with how the current lot of editors carry things out on a day to day basis. While the WYSIWYG editor is LONG overdue I think they are [[WP:MINOR]]deluding themselves if they think it's going to solve the dwindling editor issues.

FTFY, I don't think that you meant they were making themselves thinner by adding liquid. :)

Re:Doesn't see a problem (1)

melikamp (631205) | about 8 months ago | (#44478239)

I thought he was more than a bit evasive when it came to any of the operational questions relating to editors

What is the issue? You didn't even say what the issue is, you just said his answers (which ones?) are disappointing. I bet if we ask you to point out a concrete and ongoing abuse of editing privileges, with links to the relevant article and its history, you will disappear just like so many trolls before you.

Re:Doesn't see a problem (2)

Kagato (116051) | about 8 months ago | (#44479129)

The context is the question I posed in the original interview thread that Jimmy "answered". It related to Jimmy stating he was concerned that the editor pool was dwindling. I asked about why that was and what they were doing about it. It was a line of questions that was quite fair to him and gave him a lot of latitude to lay out the problems and solutions.

As far as I could see all he did was blame the complexities of WIki markup. There will be a WYSIWYG editor soon. Is Wiki markup obtuse? Sure. Is the WYSIWYG feature about 5 years past due? Yeah. But the BS meter goes off the chart if you're not willing to entertain that there are issues with the existing editor community. You guys gotta pull you heads out of the sand.

Re:Doesn't see a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44479745)

I think the real problem is this: Wikipedia has (or is viewed as having) a hierarchy, there is (or people view it as having) no upward mobility within said hierarchy, and people don't like having their work be (or perceive others as saying it is) valueless based on its place on said hierarchy.

Fallacious fallacy (1)

korbulon (2792438) | about 8 months ago | (#44477707)

"There's a notion that the way to get the very highest quality information is to have an expert certify it. But there's actually little evidence that this is true."

Certain areas of human knowledge are advanced and enhanced by an open forum leading to something approximating the truth. But there are other areas, especially technical ones, where I don't see this being applicable, not by a long shot. How many people apart from an expert would be qualified writing an article on quantum optics or c++11? Really no one but experts should be writing these articles. I think the fully open nature of wikipedia is a potential weakness, but perhaps through what Wales refers to as a 'war of attrition', it usually gets sorted out for the best.

Still, when it comes to performing open heart surgery, do you want a comittee of concerned citizenes, or a so-called 'expert' heart surgeon?

Re:Fallacious fallacy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44477883)

The "man on the street" is not going to edit the article on some topic like quantum optics. Or read it. Or even know that it exists.

The non-experts who edit the article will mostly have done their research, making use of sources written by experts. Of course they will not be right 100% of the time, but they will do a pretty good job and that is Wikipedia's model. Of course, a handful will be cranks, but crank edits generally don't survive in the harsh world of Wikipedia.

No, the place you really have to worry about inaccurate information is on articles where most people think they know something but really don't. I'm talking about articles on football players, entertainers, schools, universities, political figures, and so on. Those are the articles where people are most likely to edit without having done the research, because everyone thinks he's an expert on his favorite football team.

Re:Fallacious fallacy (1)

korbulon (2792438) | about 8 months ago | (#44478005)

I put forward an extreme example to hammer the point home that you still need experts to write about many many topics. Yes, there is a high degree of self-organization involved with technical articles in that there is a very high correlation between readers and potential authors. But what happens as this correlation decreases, when it reaches that interesting grey area where the proportion of experts and lay-readers breaks even? And what happens with regards to articles on mildly controversial topics? And the really controversial ones, like climate change? Should all contributors be weighed equally, regardless of the strength of conviction? Is the truth simply a matter of reaching a consensus?

I'm not dismissing Wikipedia here. I think it's pretty much the Best Damn Thing on the internet. I am merely pointing out what I see as an interesting problem to which I see no satisfactory solution.

Re:Fallacious fallacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44478463)

The "man on the street" is not going to edit the article on some topic like quantum optics. Or read it.

Indeed. It is dangerous to read or edit Wikipedia articles while standing on the road.

Not notable (3, Informative)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 8 months ago | (#44477739)

I see many articles delete because of various reasons rhyming with "Not notable" But this seems to be randomly applied. The smallest details of some 3rd rate TV episode might get an entry but then some small town hero is deleted. Seeing that the entire back and fourth of creation and deletion is stored why can't articles be marked as "Not notable" but then left in place. If the local pizza place puts up an entry it certainly isn't notable but the data is probably factually correct and useful to a few.

I get this feeling that certain editors are way way out of control on some pedantic mission often with an axe to grind.

Re:Not notable (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#44477755)

Notability has an objective criteria. Non-trivial non-fiction published works about the subject. Without meeting that base criteria, everything in the article loses another crucial aspect: verifiability. It's about establishing wikipedia's credibility, not about limiting breadth for limitation's sake.

Re:Not notable (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44478155)

Notability has an objective criteria. Non-trivial non-fiction published works about the subject.

Unless you provide an objective definition for "non-trivial", that criteria for notability is still subjective.

Re:Not notable (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 8 months ago | (#44478381)

I think we can make a fair near-objective distinction between printed-at-kinkos, and published to an academic journal. There are only a few edge cases that would really raise doubt about that.

Re:Not notable (1)

gsslay (807818) | about 8 months ago | (#44478675)

If the local pizza place puts up an entry it certainly isn't notable but the data is probably factually correct and useful to a few.

But is a global encyclopaedia the best place for that information? The key criteria about notability is "are people likely to come looking for this in Wikipedia"? Do you expect Wikipedia to list your local pizza place, with menu and opening times, and expect it to be better, more accurate and more up to date than your local pizza's place own website? If so, who do you expect to keep it in that state?

Wikipedia is not just a sub-set of the internet. It's an encyclopaedia. There is a lot of information in the world that is not suitable for inclusion on it, and shouldn't be on it. Just because some may find it "useful" is not the sole criteria.

Game of Articles (5, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 8 months ago | (#44477759)

Okay Jimmy, here is some evidence for you. Look at the Nuclear Power [wikipedia.org] article.

It's been heavily spammed by two editors who own the article. Whenever anyone else tries to improve it their edits get reverted. Boundarylayer is particularly bad, inserting loads of industry shill references. I tried to improve it but eventually gave up, and now it has degenerated into a poor quality article with lots of very obvious bias and weasel words.

If you look at Boundarylayer's edits he has a history of doing this sort of thing, along with several others he associates with (or may even be). The situation is the same every time: attack an article and keep going until they either win and take control of it or get driven away by bans and other sanctions.

To pick another total unrelated example look at the naming fiasco for Japanese manga/anime related articles from a few years ago. A group of editors decided to troll by renaming them all to the western version names. We ended up with, for example, the article on Detective Conan, one of the longest running and most well known series ever, being renamed to "Case Closed" because some shitty American company re-wrote a few episodes and dubbed them into English. I really do mean a few, compared to the 500+ that have been produced. A lot of editors objected but in the end the trolls won and drove all the good guys who added all the well referenced and well written information in the first place away. Unsurprisingly the articles then stagnated and degraded.

Being in denial doesn't help. Wikipedia is supposed to be a community, but actually it's just factions playing some kind of MMORPG by conquering as much of it as possible.

Re:Game of Articles (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44477835)

Jimmy Wales here. Every aspect of these statements are false. No major articles are "owned" by anyone. The rules of Wikipedia are designed to prevent this.

Will you give me just $5 now?

Re: African Elephants (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44478877)

>No major articles are "owned" by anyone. The rules of Wikipedia are designed to prevent this.

Further, as anybody who is familiar with Wikipedia knows, anybody can state, as fact, the exact opposite of what you said. See how I applied this practice to every single one of your claims. Now please give up and go away, so I can make any claims I like about your motives.

-Jimmy

p.s. I need about tree-fiddy.

Re:Game of Articles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44479011)

I see you didn't log in to post?

Re:Game of Articles (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44478007)

LOL @ you being modded troll. What a sad state Slashdot has become.

Re:Game of Articles (1)

korbulon (2792438) | about 8 months ago | (#44478099)

There is an interesting and valid point being raised here. Maybe does not apply to all articles, probably not even to most, but it seems to me that there is not only potential for abuse, but actual abuse of Wikipedia by people with political and commercial agendas. And it should be discussed.

Re:Game of Articles (4, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 8 months ago | (#44478263)

Thanks. I forgot to mention the deletionist movement, which seems to run contrary to the idea that Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopaedia and thus there is no reason to delete obscure but reasonable quality articles.

Re:Game of Articles (2)

kindherb (194395) | about 8 months ago | (#44478297)

Both of your points are spot on and the are reason I refuse to give any money to Wikimedia as well as contribute to it. And Jimmy's response/attitude just reinforces that my feelings are justified. Seriously Fark that guy!

The deletionist movement in particular runs contrary to the whole idea of a crowd sourced informational website.

I rarely post here, but I just wanted to offer my support to your observations, since I have noticed them as well.

Re:Game of Articles (4, Interesting)

AJH16 (940784) | about 8 months ago | (#44478449)

Not trying to detract from your concerns, but could you mention more specific revisions that you think show the problem. I'm genuinely curious, but am having a hard time digging through all the revisions to find the problems you are talking about. It is certainly clear that Boundarylayer edits the page a lot, but I didn't see anything that seemed out of place, at least in the recent edits. (Granted, my own knowledge of the topic is limited.)

Re:Game of Articles (2)

melikamp (631205) | about 8 months ago | (#44478655)

No, of course he isn't going to show you the revisions. He would have to show his own edits, for all of us to judge how stupid they are. Why would he want to do that?

Re:Game of Articles (1)

AJH16 (940784) | about 8 months ago | (#44480267)

Persistence paid off. This appears to be one example of what he is referring to http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Nuclear_power&diff=518539478&oldid=517112638 [wikipedia.org], though it is worth pointing out that that content no longer appears in the article either. Mojo-chan appears to be the editor. Looks like it was mostly a referenced content vs being irrelevant to the section it was included it and insufficient investigation in to why the references were bad that degraded in to a simple conflict between editors because comments quickly became aggressive. Eventually the fact that the content didn't belong won out though and it was removed, so I don't see the problem here.

Re:Game of Articles (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44478485)

Nice, so your evidence that the article is "owned" is that somebody edited it back in June. Way to go with that.

Jimmy already explained to you what the problem is here: You want to own the article, other editors won't let you. so you're frustrated. But that's not Wikipedia's problem, that's your problem because you're a fuckwit.

Re:Game of Articles (2)

ak3ldama (554026) | about 8 months ago | (#44479019)

I hate to say this: but what if that is exactly as intended and that the "industry" wants it this way? What if they give lots of money for this kind of typical preference? After all: it works in politics, and the campaigns to sway public opinion and frame the dialog. Maybe Mr Jimmy thinks that an article on Nuclear Power being commandeered by the industry is the way it is supposed to work - just like everything else.

Re:Game of Articles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44480059)

[Citation Needed]

Bullshit (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44477775)

I've corrected spelling errors where there is no possible debate. Literally added one letter or removed an apostrophe. Those edits get reverted by the article's owner within minutes. Fuck Wikipedia and fuck this faggot Jimmy Whales who boldly states this is no problem at all. People like me "fade into the background" because there is no point in wasting any time contributing to this ivory tower bullshit. About 20 seconds is all I'm going to spend correcting something like this. And since Jimmy Whales and the "community" at Wikipedia don't welcome my contributions, I'll not bother wasting anymore time.

Boy, this son of a bitch must really be full of himself. The best question on there asks about this problem, and the asshole says, "all of that is false". Harrumph! Harrumph!

I guess the first clue was how the photo of himself keeps getting bigger and bigger each year.

Re:Bullshit (-1, Flamebait)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about 8 months ago | (#44477863)

No one is going to take someone with your obvious emotional problems seriously. Try again when you can pass as someone over 14-years-old.

Re:Bullshit (3, Interesting)

tibit (1762298) | about 8 months ago | (#44477953)

Wait a minute, wouldn't it eventually piss you off too if you tried to correct obvious and trivial spelling or punctuation mistakes, doing your little contribution, only to be indirectly told "go fuck yourself"?!

Re:Bullshit (1, Flamebait)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about 8 months ago | (#44478089)

Sure, but if I lost it to the point of acting like a poorly-raised child like that AC did, I wouldn't expect to be taken seriously either. You'll never see an intelligent adult call someone they don't like a "faggot." That's pre-teen/early-teen/arrested-development stuff.

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44478207)

I don't disagree at all. But I think this makes you a faggort as well as a fagoot. And a faggot.

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44479027)

I am an intelligent adult and I use the word "faggot" all the time.

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44479945)

I am an intelligent adult ...

No you're not.

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44479279)

Faggot is a legitimate word, go look it up on Wikipedia and stop acting like a crazy American crying about some sort of slur.

Re:Bullshit (0)

Slashdot Parent (995749) | about 8 months ago | (#44480181)

First of all, a word is either spelled correctly or it isn't. The caustic attitude of the messenger doesn't change that.

Secondly, I can confirm the situation described by the AC. Way back when, I thought the idea of an encyclopedia that anyone could improve was pretty cool. Wanting to do my part, I corrected a few typos here and there. Nothing controversial, mind you, and nothing where there are multiple acceptable spellings. As you probably suspected by now, my corrections were reverted. So, I threw up my hands and said, "Why should I waste my time here?"

Needless to say, I have never made another edit.

Re:Bullshit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44478455)

What a coincidence, there are (or were) 15-year-old administrators on Wikipedia. Which I discovered to my dismay back in 2006. [wikinews.org]

Re:Bullshit (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 8 months ago | (#44477885)

I've corrected spelling errors where there is no possible debate. Literally added one letter or removed an apostrophe. Those edits get reverted by the article's owner within minutes.

[citation needed]

(for the humour impared that was a joke)

Articles aren't "owned." (2)

davidwr (791652) | about 8 months ago | (#44477893)

You wrote:

Those edits get reverted by the article's owner within minutes.

What may have happened: Those edits get reverted by an editor who is acting like he is the article's owner within minutes.

What did happen: Those edits get reverted by another editor within minutes.

--
Dear Slashdotter:

The proper place to complain about other editor's on-wiki behavior is almost always either in a private conversation with them or to do it on-wiki, either on the editor's talk page, the article's talk page, or in one of the project ("Wikipedia:...") pages created for this purpose. Slashdot is not the proper place.

Re:Articles aren't "owned." (4, Insightful)

OverlordQ (264228) | about 8 months ago | (#44478109)

> The proper place to complain about other editor's on-wiki behavior is almost always either in a private conversation with them or to do it on-wiki, either on the editor's talk page, the article's talk page, or in one of the project ("Wikipedia:...") pages created for this purpose. Slashdot is not the proper place.

Aahgahghaghaga, sorry, as a formerly active admin, ENWP bureaucracy is out of hand.

Re:Articles aren't "owned." (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44478561)

You are truly deluded if you believe that. Wikipedia admins have turned the whole thing into one giant e-penis / pissing contest. People with zero knowledge in a field can sit at as reverse editors on pages where professors enhance and fix subject, only for a the same pillock come back and delete everything done since they took unofficial ownership of the pages. Admins themselves are in a clique that circle the wagons as soon as anti-edits and overzealous deletionists are flagged.

Re:Bullshit (1)

gsslay (807818) | about 8 months ago | (#44478515)

If your edits are anything like your clueless argument here, I'm not surprised they got reverted.

Speaking of clues;

First clue; his name is Wales, not Whales. Second clue; calling someone a "faggot" makes you sound like a 12 year old having a tantrum.

Peer review is worthless? (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 8 months ago | (#44477895)

There's a notion that the way to get the very highest quality information is to have an expert certify it. But there's actually little evidence that this is true.

Basically he's claiming (perhaps unintentionally) that peer review is worthless. That's a pretty bold claim and he doesn't really back it up. While peer review certainly has its flaws, I don't think it can be dismissed out of hand like Mr. Wales is doing here.

Re:Peer review is worthless? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44480009)

That's the opposite of what he said. Wikipedia strives on peer review. But not necessarily expert peer review. The idea he was replying about was to get certification from a single expert. What you want is for experts to have special accounts with special authority. It might work, but it would be expensive to implement (credentials would need to be verified, and you would need a system to scope the articles to different fields). It would also not likely solve any issues. Most of the articles that cause problem are at the heart of a debate (be it political or scientific), where the arguer on either side could be considered an expert. Furthermore, having a degree in higher education does not eliminate bias.

"What editor problem?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44477973)

Oh Jimmy. You're surrounded by syncophants. Of course you haven't heard about the problems the rest of the world has with your editors and administrators. One of the biggest problems companies have today is that negative feedback is never heard at all because their customers either have no choice but to continue using their service or simply leave and don't tell them why.

We're telling you why: your active users suck.

my question, statement rather (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44478045)

please stop putting your ugly mug alongside the annoying-ass personal appeals

is it possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44478351)

for you to not look like a smug douchebag in every picture ever taken of you?

Pedantic wins (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 8 months ago | (#44478369)

Pedantic versions of material seem to win over plainly written material. I have often turned to Wikipedia for some math help. Yet you might take the article on the parabola. At first it would make for great homework help for a student in grade 10. But in a snap of the fingers it has jumped into university level and then is pushing into graduate level in no time. Much of that material could have been better explained. But instead it is filled with specialist notation with plain English diligently excluded. Math by its nature needs to be precise but precision can co-exist with easy to understand. But if you were to dare to edit such an article so as to add plain English explanations you would be shot in the face by some OCD math twerp in under 5 minutes.

My recommendation is that you gut the power of these editors. If I make a change and some editor disagrees, then it should be put to a vote of the users. I am not saying voting on facts but the presentation of the facts. Also there needs to be a way to neuter some of these OCD editors. Again a vote would be one way. If you find an out of control editor you could make a case, put it to some kind of jury and then boom, they are gone.

The important question no one is asking (2)

mcmonkey (96054) | about 8 months ago | (#44478597)

Jimmy,

You really couldn't tell Clark Kent is just Superman with glasses?

"Certified articles" question (2)

T.E.D. (34228) | about 8 months ago | (#44480019)

HTH did the "Certified articles?" question get enough upvotes to warrant an answer? Anybody with even a cursory knowledge of the history of Wikipedia knows the answer to this. (Hint: Its been tried before. [wikipedia.org] That's how we got Wikipedia in the first place)
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