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Ask Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales About Online Collaboration

Roblimo posted more than 10 years ago | from the 90.1-million-words-and-still-growing dept.

The Internet 300

Back in 2001 we did a "double" Slashdot Interview with Michael Hart of Project Gutenberg and Jimmy Wales of the then-brand-new Nupedia, which has since become the amazingly useful Wikipedia. This is a perfect time to catch up with Jimbo (as friends call him), and learn not only how he managed to make Wikipedia work and grow so well, but what we can do to help -- and what future plans he has for this outstanding Web resource. (10 of your highest-moderated questions will be sent to Jimbo by email. We'll post his answers as soon as we get them back.)

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Online collaborators? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676489)

Five years from now they'll all pretend they were in the online French Resistance.

Re:Online collaborators? (5, Interesting)

willy134 (682318) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676561)

What really motivates people to write extensive information about a subject? How reliable is the information the some John Doe submits?

Re:Online collaborators? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676746)

Why do people post unrelated replies to the first post?

But seriously. I think people are motivated because they strive for accuracy and completeness of information. For crying out loud, people have written half-formally about the "Slashdot Trolling Phenomenon."

Re:Online collaborators? (0)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676792)

I saw "Slashdot Trolling Phenomenon" live at Whiskey a-go-go before they hit it big and sold out.

So, Jimbo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676493)

Where did you get that nick name? Does it have some meaning? Oh, and any easter eggs in Wikipedia we should look for?

Re:So, Jimbo... (1)

emurphy42 (631808) | more than 10 years ago | (#9677083)

Google "Easter eggs" Results 1 - 10 of about 37 from for "Easter eggs". (0.46 seconds) One of those gives the definition of "Easter eggs" that you're using, and about eight others describe examples (e.g. "about:mozilla" in Mozilla and its descendants). It doesn't appear that any of them actually contain easter eggs, though.

Dear Jimmy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676496)

Online collaboration, what's it all about?




Re:Dear Jimmy (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676648)

We need more "Good? Whack?" trolls

I think you mean (0, Offtopic)

beej_55 (789241) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676498)

I think you mean the "Freedom" resistance.

Licensing and the Wiki (5, Interesting)

SeanTobin (138474) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676502)

One of the more unique aspects of the Wikipedia (aside from the entire concept of a community edited reference) is its license. The current license for content seems to fit rather well with the goals of the project, but seems to cause a few hurdles as well (i.e. publishing a print version of the Wikipedia). So I guess my question is, what other license models did you consider when starting out with the project and what made you go with the current one? Also, looking back would you have done anything different with the licensing?

Re:Licensing and the Wiki (2, Insightful)

Donny Smith (567043) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676860)

>seems to cause a few hurdles as well (i.e. publishing a print version of the Wikipedia).

If true that's only good news - it's going to save quite a few trees...

Re:Licensing and the Wiki (4, Informative)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676941)

What do you mean? The GFDL is very friendly to dead-tree publishing.

The only "hurdle" is that no publisher can get exclusive rights to publish it. Is that what you mean? Do you think that is really a practical limitation in this case? (I don't, as I think it is too big and would take too much startup cost with too small a market for some other publisher to come in and poach.)


fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676508)

suck it!

la la la I did not fail

Academic Co-operation? (4, Interesting)

deutschemonte (764566) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676513)

Has there been any major academic co-operation from major universities or research groups to contribute wikipedia?

I know people contribute individually, but I am just curious to see if there has been any major institutional contributions that the project is aware of.

Re:Academic Co-operation? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676548)

Donations (4, Insightful)

southpolesammy (150094) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676526)

What's the current state of donations and what is the future of Wikipedia if fund raising without advertisements does not increase?

Re:Donations (4, Interesting)

hashar (787518) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676708)

The donations are tracked at : The current provisional budget is at l_budget and should cover our need until 2005. I personally think it will stick to donation. The simple fact to talk about advertisement already lead to a fork of the spanish wikipedia ! :o) I am almost sure a big organisation will eventually give found like UNESCO or UN.

Re:Donations (3, Informative)

thue (121682) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676859)

I am almost sure a big organisation will eventually give found like UNESCO or UN

Some wikipedians are currently writing an application [] for a grant of $500,000 from The National Endowment for the Humanities [] .

It needs to be done by tuesday (tomorrow!), and they seem to be far from finished...

google ads.. (5, Interesting)

Suppafly (179830) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676545)

When is wikipedia going to get google ads or some other form of text ads?

Re:google ads.. (3, Insightful)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676562)

When is wikipedia going to get google ads or some other form of text ads?

Hopefully, never.

Re:google ads.. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676578)

Jimbo has said before that Wikipedia will never show ads.

Re:google ads.. (4, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676784)

how about making the ads optional, in the way that you would have to enable them?

sometimes there could be some intresting stuff from google ads on some weird pages.

Re:google ads.. (4, Interesting)

jhagler (102984) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676906)

Interesting thought.

To be able to set a simple cookie that says "Yes, show me ads so I can support this site" would help on many levels. It would allow people to contribute money without actually contributing money, it would provide a source of income for the site, and you wouldn't have anyone complaining about the ads because they specifically had to select to see them.

I don't think I've ever seen a site do anything like this, but I think Wiki might be a great place to try it. I know many of us have Wikipedia's Random Page [] as our start page and I would happily have a couple of banners pop up everytime I launch my browser as just another way to help.

I did this in reverse already (2, Interesting)

apachetoolbox (456499) | more than 10 years ago | (#9677295)

Set a cookie, ads are disabled for 24 hours... []

Re:google ads.. (1)

kirun (658684) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676952)

The trouble with any ads is it can cause impartiality into question. No doubt it's hard to add bias, as you'd just get edited, but the question could be more damaging than the reality.

Advertising? (5, Interesting)

obli (650741) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676558)

How has the word about wikipedia been spread? Has wikipedia actually paid a dime for all it's publicity, I don't think I've seen any advertisement when I think about it.

Re:Advertising? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676600)

Wikipedia is probably the second most recognized Open Source project out there (Linux is prolly number 1). See Wikipedia:Press coverage [] (or Google cache [] if it's /.-ed)

Re:Advertising? (3, Informative)

arvindn (542080) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676970)

Until now, word of mouth. For instance, I have talked about 10 people into participating. Jimbo has been saying advertising is one of the things that needs to be worked on. You can help. Put a link to it on your website for starters. Limited print editions of wikipedia (called "wikireaders") are being tried out; if it takes off perhaps the revenue could be used for advertising. Currently, though, the priority is to buy more hardware and keep the site going.

Re:Advertising? (1)

thue (121682) | more than 10 years ago | (#9677138)

Wikipedia is a registered not-for-profit, so it hasn't paid off in a narrow economic sense, and isn't planned to.

There are no ads in wikipedia, and no plans to introduce ads as far as I know. The only source of funding is donations. Wikipedia could use more funding than it currently has, to deal with expected growth and perhaps to hire a few full-time employees. You can donate here [] .

Re:Advertising? (1)

Red Alastor (742410) | more than 10 years ago | (#9677335)

It actually have good ranking on Google when you search for a topic that exist in it. I guess it help people to discover it.

Personally, I found it when Pamela Jones of Groklaw linked to it.

Complement or Competitor to Traditional Encycs? (5, Interesting)

ewanrg (446949) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676571)

Was wondering if you view the Wikipedia as a competitor or an additional tool compared to a World Book or an Encyclopedia Britannica?

And do you see the future direction being more or less that way?

Re:Complement or Competitor to Traditional Encycs? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676636)

There were some interesting quotes from Britannica's VP regarding Wikipedia on the website [] :

"I think it's exactly the right price," said Michael Ross, senior vice president of corporate development at Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. in Chicago.

Ross admits to reading and enjoying Wikipedia, and has even gotten ideas there for future Britannica articles. But the absence of traditional editorial controls makes Wikipedia unsuited to serious research. "How do they know it's accurate?" Ross asks. "People can put down anything."

A few years ago, Microsoft Corp. scoffed at free software; today the company is running scared. Britannica's Ross seems a lot more relaxed about his company's future. It's difficult to see why.

In response to "It's difficult to see why" (2, Insightful)

sindarin2001 (583716) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676845)

It's because Britannica plans to provide a good product and a warrantee that Wikipedia can't. Microsoft is scared because it knows it doesn't provide as good of a product as it should, and the fact that there is a competive product that does the job almost as well (leave that up to debate) for the perfect price leaves Microsoft just a little scared.

Re:Complement or Competitor to Traditional Encycs? (4, Insightful)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 10 years ago | (#9677107)

Good post.

"How do they know it's accurate?" Ross asks.

I would answer Mr. Ross's question with a question: "Has the Encyclopedia Britannica ever had to correct an article?" The answer, of course, is yes. So you can't trust the EB to be entirely accurate either.

I've been contributing for a short time now, and it's clear there are a lot of eyes on the work. As time goes on, the articles become more correct. There is no way the EB can put the same number of people on any given topic. Ultimately, Wikipedia may become more accurate than the EB. It is certainly more detailed.

Oh yeah. He's watching it all right.

User system complexity. (5, Insightful)

xconslash (521219) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676588)

Do you foresee having to add more complexity to your user system? Some kind of rating/karma system to discourage people who have a tendency to write libel?

Re:User system complexity. (1)

obli (650741) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676677)

Well, that would create some kind of upper class with more power, which isn't very democratic.

Sure, we've already got the moderators, but they're elected officials.

FIRST POST!!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676589)

WhO tHe FUCK cares! SlAsHdOt is getTing BorINg!!! E@t mY SHIT, sHiT-mUncherS!!!!

Moderation (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676599)

Do you use or are you planning to use a moderation system like Slashdot's to cut out spam/junk posts etc?

Quality Control (5, Interesting)

Raindance (680694) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676605)


First of all, the concept of a community-built encyclopedia, open to submissions and revisions from users, is wonderful. It's much like open-source, in fact, and Wikipedia certainly exemplifies how to reapply the OS model to other contexts.

However, the contexts of encyclopedias and software are different. Significantly so. I'm interested specifically in quality control- you know when code doesn't work when it doesn't compile or results in unexpected behavior.

In what ways can a Wiki article be bad, and how can one tell? Do you think QC is a large issue for Wikipedia, and do you have any plans to further integrate the community in the QC process (perhaps akin to the slashdot moderation/metamoderation system)?


Re:Quality Control (5, Interesting)

Ignignot (782335) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676950)

I wonder if it would be possible to write software using a wiki approach. You know, have a web site with the beginning of the program, with clearly defined goals. Each function call or class structure would have its own web site with its own clearly defined goals. Better code would complete the goals with less bugs and / or less run time. I know the bottom line isn't that different from OSS, but I think there would be quite a bit more code reuse, resulting in both better quality code and smaller programs. If you somehow added in some automatic code checking (like submitted code was automatically compiled and then the errors, if any, added to the web site for people to fix), along with output vs desired output checking (output within certain ranges, etc.) Or even keep an old (known to work) function, then compile the new one, automatically compare their outputs for the same inputs, and if they match up for all inputs, replace the old code with new code as the current version. Holy shit I hope I didn't just give away the best idea ever!

Wikicracy (3, Interesting)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 10 years ago | (#9677183)

Speaking about application of the wiki approach in other fields: What about using the wiki approach for the formulation of laws? Imagine if you would be able to co-author your own laws!

Of course there would have to be the normal off-wiki voting by the usual legal bodies, also probably some law experts would do a finish before that, but a "pre-final" version of the law could be developed the Wiki way.

How to balance coverage? (5, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676618)

Is there an effort to get articles written on specific missing topics? If one looks at a commercial encyclopedia, the full range of human knowledege is covered. On Wikipedia, OTOH, one finds several articles about slashdot trolls, for instance, while other (important) fields are still unwritten.

Re:How to balance coverage? (5, Informative)

hashar (787518) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676765)

The community portal highlights things that could be done to enhance the encyclopedia : ortal One example is a request to create the article "Tibet independance movement". Articles wich are really small are often listed as "stub" and a list of them is available. Often editors looks at those stubs and try to enhance them somehow (see : _a_stub ). There is also a lot of translators that keep importing / exporting articles. A good example is the Român wikipedia that import french articles :o)

The constant bickering... (5, Interesting)

Rageon (522706) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676633)

How is (and how will) the constant bickering between differing sides of the more controversial issues (abortion, religion, etc...) be addressed? Do you expect any changes to the current system, in which it seems the same pages get edited by the same people back and forth every day?

Re:The constant bickering... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676676)

excellent question.

Re:The constant bickering... (4, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676878)

I was involved in something like what you're talking about, on the astrology article [] . It was extremely frustrating, because the article was being sat on by someone who was a true believer, and we got into an edit war over it. I also remember a linked article that was a bio of a modern astrologer, and it was just the gushiest kind of fan bio you could imagine. Well, I gave up in disgust, but checking back today, it really seems to have been greatly improved. Apparently their mechanisms for dealing with this kind of thing do work, although it may take a long time, and some people, like me, may not have the patience for it.

Re:The constant bickering... (2, Informative)

arvindn (542080) | more than 10 years ago | (#9677049)

Check out dispute resolution [] and the three revert rule [] . Its not a silver bullet, but there are guidelines to make it possible to make progress even on highly controversial issues.

Sociopaths (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676655)

The systems in place to protect the database from "crapflooders" and "trolls" seems to work quite well. However, someone who is hell-bent on making it their business to turn a particular entry into an edit war unless they "win" seems to still be an issue. The lesser-read entries are more of a concern. For example, I went to look up some information on the Nintendo Mario character and found this user called Marcus2 who constantly kept making edits to other people entries based on his own point of view. Since these entries aren't as of a high profile as, say, Saddam Hussein, what kinds of safeguards can you think of to help ensure less popular topics become skewed?

Re:Sociopaths (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676940)

However, someone who is hell-bent on making it their business....

Oh, they will probably implement some sort of jack-booted subnet banning scheme. By the way, don't forget....

Re:Sociopaths (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676979)

Mario is TEH 5p0K3 SUX0R! Frag Mario luzers!

Luigi r00lzzz!!!!


P2P? (2, Interesting)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676656)

Have you ever considered p2p-based alternatives to deliver Wikipedia articles, to reduce the load on the web servers?

Re:P2P? (2, Interesting)

hashar (787518) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676796)

The problem is that articles keep changing ! There is already some squids servers in front to act as caches, maybe in the future it will be possible for other organisation to connect to those squids and manage their own local copy of wikipedia.

Getting people involved (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676660)

What methods have you found that work best for getting people not only involved in contributing, but also keeping them contributing to the Wiki?

How extensible is the model? (4, Interesting)

jdray (645332) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676661)

As Wikipedia grows, so grows the opportunity for misinformation to creep in. With a relatively small work, there is a lot of public scrutiny on each piece. What happens when the database becomes huge? What group would care for the integrity of the information?

Re:How extensible is the model? (1)

GreyWolf3000 (468618) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676968)

I would think that as Wikipedia grows, the number of people perusing through the more esoteric articles would increase at a smaller and smaller rate.

This could be bad.

Know Your Wiki Hierarchy! (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676662)

The Legion of Trolls recognizes the following ranks for troll behavior, from lowest to highest:
  • sysop [] is the lowest of the low, incapable of holding his own in debate, the sysop resorts to IP bans [] and other technological tactics [] , based on the trust that the Dictator [] has in him. They make truly wrong decisions, and have no clear basis for what they do - which is more or less random damage to the fabric of the Wikipedia.
  • cretins are better than sysops, since they actually raise issues that matter, and show what's wrong with training and orientation material or the pseudo-socialization process that passes for "community" on this system. Their articles are generally stubs, since they know very little about the actual topics; however, regardless of their shortcomings, cretins fancy themselves to be "editors." Their agendas are transparent, and in general uninteresting, and they plod along with 'good intentions' trying to 'fix things' which they just make worse; such users must be continually reverted.
  • vandals [] are almost as low, for they justify the existence of sysops, but at least they do not cripple the entire project with the behavior, just a page or so at a time, and usually they give up. The main virtue that puts them higher on the scale than cretins, is that they distract and drive off sysops, which is a contribution that stands the test of time, whereas cretins don't do that nearly as well.
  • authors write pedestrian articles that stand until something better comes along - they are best employed compiling lists, checking facts and asking dumb questions in Talk files, and usually log in by the same name as their body answers to on the street. They are not contemptible but they have no idea how their information is used, and they don't care, as long as they get to claim that their articles are "published".
  • editors train authors to be better authors, and typically fix up things that authors don't really understand, without ever insulting them (if they do, they drop to cretins immediately, and if they drive away good authors, they are basically vandals, if they IP ban them, they drop to sysops, lowest of the low). Editors have specialties and should stick to them; they are likely to make big mistakes if they go beyond their limited understanding. They should be learning from authors all the time, and must trust other editors' judgement on topics that they simply don't care about. They are not creative but they are smart - typically they use pseudonyms but do not hide their body identities.
  • ontologists solve the difficult name-space problems, noticing potential namespace conflicts far in advance, often proposing and advancing WikiProjects [] when an area is well-defined and important. They actually understand how Wikipedia is used! They argue fiercely but sparsely on Talk pages and etc., and in particular are responsible for arbitrating between editors and ending revert duels creatively. The best of them are very smart, but all of them are thorough, and this thoroughness is what marks them clearly. To ontologists the most important file in the Wikipedia is Self-references [] , since it marks what the Wiki itself thinks it is - its reflexive identity, its actual own self-image. An ontologist usually uses a pseudonym and does not reveal his body name. Or, alternatively, a constantly shifting IP with no name whatsoever, if s/he is engaged in cleaning up problems left by poor editors and previous ontologists.
  • trolls solve the most difficult problems - they discourage and drive off the worst sysops, cretins, vandals, authors and editors - they challenge the ontologists. And, most heroically, they alter the project's conception of itself (while ontologists only track that). They actually understand how Wikipedia evolves! They are always anonymous, and associate themselves either with an IP number or randomly changing usernames - most heroically, they use a static IP which exposes them to all of the problems, but none of the advantages, of attacks by sysops and etc...

    The troll solves the worst problems, which is inappropriate 'contributions' by the worst sysops, and ideally can drive a bad ontologist entirely out of the project. In additions, trolls have a very good sense of humour.

    All hail the troll!

Linux infrastructure question (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676663)

Did your organization pay SCO the $699 licensing fee per server?

Why/Why not?

Women (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676672)

Has creating wikipedia ever helped you get laid?

Im not kidding here folks. I often wonder if people's technical merits have ever helped them to get some play.

I mean, is it possible to compile "sexy"

Re:Women (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676820)

> Im not kidding here folks. I often wonder if people's technical merits have ever helped them to get some play.

Tech merits never worked for me! What has worked was my rugged good looks, ribbony flowing hair, musicality, and intimidating cocky personality.

Whatever, homo! (1)

Mike Hock (249988) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676934)


Advertisers, Spammers, Search Engines, oh my! (4, Interesting)

RomSteady (533144) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676694)

I like the concept of a wiki, but I'm a bit concerned about the current implementation.

Right now, we are seeing several instances where crawlers are disrupting wikis, spammers are embedding wiki links to their sites to boost their Google rankings, and advertisers are placing ads in wikis until someone goes through and nukes them.

Do you have any thoughts as to how wikis can be modified to prevent things like this in the future?

Re:Advertisers, Spammers, Search Engines, oh my! (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 10 years ago | (#9677162)

Do you have any thoughts as to how wikis can be modified to prevent things like this in the future?

CAPTCHAs on edit? For instance: like this []

Re:Advertisers, Spammers, Search Engines, oh my! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9677310)

MediaWiki has the ability to blacklist editing based on the URLs it contains. So if a spammer starts putting his site everywhere, that URL could be blacklisted and he couldn't use it anymore. Of course this is a cat and mouse game where spammers could start using different URLs and so on, but every little bit helps because it makes it more expensive for the spammers.

wikipedia (4, Interesting)

Nspace13 (654963) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676696)

wikipedia has everything, they even have a self-referential entry [] , are there plans as this grows to have any kind of trusted moderator system? how do you handle people who troll (input bad data, delete good data)?

Re:wikipedia (1)

hashar (787518) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676942)

Bad datas are corrected, deletion (vandalism) are reverted. There is a page tracking ongoing vandalism. Most of the time troll and vandal make a few attempts then either : leave or register an account and start contributing :o)

Applying wikipedia success to other projects? (4, Interesting)

hanwen (8589) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676703)

How did you get so many contributors to Wikipedia?
Do you think your techniques could be used for other
projects as well?

(Specifically, as an open source author, I would love to have my users collaboratively developing the user manual - what do I need to get this going?)


Re:Applying wikipedia success to other projects? (2, Informative)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 10 years ago | (#9677119)

I'd suggest that the wikipedia model doesn't really transfer well to other types of projects. I run a web site that catalogs free books and accepts user-submitted reviews (see my sig), and there are really no other successful examples of this kind of informal collaboration that I know of. (Some other people are trying, but I can't think of any finished projects.) Of course, just because something hasn't yet been done more than once, that doesn't mean it can't ever be more than once, but I think there's very special about an encyclopedia. It requires knowledge about more fields than any small group of people could possibly hope to have, and most of that knowledge is factual and not rapidly changing. A person is going to write a wikipedia article on marsupials typically because he's a young academic who studies marsupials, and he's among the people in the world who are best qualified to do the job. The person best qualified to document open-source software is the author of the software.

For software documentation, I think TeX is a good example. Knuth wrote it using literate programming techniques, and published the annotated source code in book form, along with the TeXbook. Because TeX and LaTeX were very useful, and had become very stable, other people came along and provided aftermarket books, some of which are very good. We're now seeing a third generation of documenation, which is free, such as this [] . I doubt that any of this would have happened if Knuth hadn't started out by stabilizing the software, and writing his own high-quality docs.

My question (-1, Troll)

Hayzeus (596826) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676726)

Does it bug you when people refer to you as "Jimbo"?

Limits of Wiki collaboration / vandalism defense (5, Interesting)

tjansen (2845) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676758)

Is there a limit of how successful an open wiki system can be? Sooner or later, not only some simple minded lunatics will try to attack the wiki by breaking its content, but there may be distributed denial-of-service attacks from hacked systems (which makes banning-by-IP impossible) and more intelligent automated vandalism (e.g. inserting semi-random words or sentences in the texts).
Do you think that a volunteer force can defeat this forever manually, or do you expect that wikipedia will be more restricted at one point?
For instance, an Advogato-like trust network could be used to make sure that people are real, and a voting system for entries from unknown contributors.

Overcoming knowledge hoarding (3, Interesting)

westendgirl (680185) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676762)

How do you think Wikipedia helps humans overcome their tendency to hoard knowledge? In capitalist societies, those with specialized knowledge can reap tremendous profits if market demand warrants. Even in non-capitalist societies, those with specialized knowledge may receive elevated status or other powers. Given that Wikipedia follows a not-for-profit model of anonymous submissions, what drivers lead people to contribute? Do you think status-oriented, rent-seeking individuals contribute to Wikipedia?

Re:Overcoming knowledge hoarding (2, Interesting)

Pentagram (40862) | more than 10 years ago | (#9677343)

Speaking as a Wikipedia contributor:

* Altruism. I like to make knowledge available to everyone.

* Sharing knowledge is pleausurable. I think that humans might be hard-wired to be this way - it's a big evolutionary advantage to your community.

* Following on from that, sharers of knowledge are celebrated in the community.

* Wikipedia's interface is very elegant. Connecting something into the web of knowledge is fun in itself, in the same way that writing a nice piece of code or completing a piece of art is. The new category system is quite cool.

* A chance to influence the world's culture. Wikipedia is probably going to be the world's leading enyclopedia soon (if it is not already), so you have a chance to define reality in your own way. Of course, you try to do this within WP's guidelines, and subject to others' opinions, but you have considerable flexibility. You can build it up as you see fit.

Culturally insulting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676780)

I like everything about Wikipedia but the name. It (like other uses of wiki) supposedly derives from the Hawai'ian word for "quick", and it has always seemed to me like those clever white folks making fun of the baby-talk spelling of those dumb natives. Has anyone else raised this issue, or am I being hyper-sensitive?

Is a collaborative world the future? (3, Interesting)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676790)

We're seeing a definite growth in large-scale collaborative projects with the coming of age of the Internet. These ventures (open source, wikipedia, etc) are run by volunteers, pretty much like traditional non-profit organizations, except for the fact that the number of volunteers that they have access to is phenomenally (sp?) large compared to their offline counterparts.

Ofcourse, these projects go dead against the brick and mortar corporations (Microsoft, Britannica), which, for years have based their business around selling content that is now available for free due to the effort put in by organizers and volunteers of these open-source projects.

Needless to say, these corporations have been openly attacking these volunteer activities as anti-constitutional, anti-capitalistic, etc. Do you think, that collaborative, volunteer-based societies are the thing of the future? Do you think that someday people/organizations doing things for the good_of_society rather than for profit (hate that term) will become a rule rather than an exception?

Webservices ? Data Formats ? (5, Interesting)

sh0rtie (455432) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676809)

Ever thought of offering alternative data access services other than HTML ?
examples of other successful community driven sites such as IMDB [] can be queried via email (in a structured way) and a huge number of applications are now built upon these capabilities alone, ever thought of offering up the data in alternative formats (XML/SOAP/TELNET/TXT etc etc) so clever programmers can create applications that could utilise the data in new and interesting ways ?

Re:Webservices ? Data Formats ? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 10 years ago | (#9677099)

Telnet exists- telnet to port 80 and querry the HTML directly :)

I'd think XML is out. Certain meta-data could be grabbed, but it would be minor (who wrote the article, revision number). Grabbing data from inside the article would be almost impossible. The breadth of knowledge is too wide, there's no wy to make a schema that could incorporate it.

There's also the updating problem- the author would need to update 2 versions then (HTML and XML). Not only is this far more work, it blocks the large portion of contributors who don't know XML. That'd be a bad thing.

China and Wiki (4, Interesting)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676824)

Hey Jimbo,

How do you feel about China's blocking of Wiki, and what effect, if any, do you think it'll have on the service that Wikipedia can and cannot provide to both the Chinese and the world community?

Re:China and Wiki (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9677346)

There are many good reasons for a Wikipedia ban. For one thing, Wikinfo [] is actually better in every way than Wikipedia. It has all the same content minus most of the biased stupidity. There is less ad hominem delete [] and other sysop vandalism [] .

When China banned Wikipedia [] , however, the usual happy NPOV talk [] was invoked:

Last week, for about 48 hours,, a multilingual online open-content encyclopedia, was inaccessible to users throughout China. On June 17, around 6:30PM Beijing time, the site opened up to users in China.

Though it is still unclear why the site was blocked, the ban does come on the heels of a new circular issued by the Chinese government asking for Internet Service Providers to show patriotism and refrain from "inappropriate material", which includes contentious political and social commentary. James Wales, in an interview with, claimed "By policy, Wikipedia is not a political site in any way. We are a general reference encyclopedia with a strong neutrality policy. Articles are carefully researched and reviewed by Chinese people in Taiwan, Hong Kong, as well as mainland China. Therefore, Wikipedia is an excellent test case. When Wikipedia is blocked, it can not be claimed that only lies or propaganda are blocked, because we are neither. When we are blocked, it is information itself that is being blocked."

The new government circular issued last week recommends that Internet Service Providers only allow "wholesome online information" and news that conforms to "fairness and trustworthiness". Apparently Wikipedia doesn't conform.

Wales says, "By policy, representatives of the Chinese government would be welcome to edit our articles in conformance with our [Wikipedia] neutrality policy." He said nothing about how to deal with an influx of millions of such funded trolls [] . But most telling was this comment by Wales:

"It is one thing to block gambling sites, or pornography, or political opinions, but it is another thing altogether to admit that it is information itself that is the enemy. I doubt if they will continue that. Probably some administrator will be reprimanded." So, according to Wales, political opinions are like pornography or gambling, and only his own methods lead to fairness or trustworthiness. This is literally self-worship, unsurprising in a GodKing [] .

"Wikipedia's founders hope that by 2025, Wikipedia will be a standard reference work used by children and adults all over China, in both paper and electronic editions." This is of course naive. Whatever happens to the GFDL corpus [] by then, it will require other GFDL corpus access providers [] to be running things, as Wikipedia will be destroyed by its own stupid self-worshipping ideology.

Corporate intervention (3, Interesting)

tgrigsby (164308) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676841)

Have there been any attempts by corporations to purchase and/or secure rights to the WikiWiki technology?

How to stop the Cabal (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676876)

Posting anonymously, well, for obvious reasons.

Currently, the direction and "policies" of wikipedia are set by a very small, very active, and very vocal cabal. This group of users rejects any change to the fundamental power structure of wikipedia unless it suits their needs, and detracts from the project either by driving away users who disagree with the power structure, or outright banning of those users.

There seems to be no effective way to get the cabal members under control, and looking at the history of wikipedia over the past two years shows that this group has steadily grown in influence, control, and outright power through their monopolization of VfD (to squelch dissent) and the Sysop-creation process (to insure only like-minded users are granted any privilege). Additionally, every new ability granted to Sysops, despite being wrapped with "rules" and "policies", has found itself wide-open to abuse with no effective punishment being directed at the abusers.

Jimbo, what can be done to re-level the playing field and rein in the cabal?


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9677130)

Victory to the Wikipedia Red Faction! []

Nonsense articles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676879)

How do you feel about nonsense troll articles such as this one [] ? Do you think things such as this deserve inclusion into Wikipedia? Will articles like this hurt Wikipedia's credibility?

Frankly, I'm surprised Wikipedia hasn't performed a massive purge on these articles.

Re:Nonsense articles? (1, Interesting)

kirun (658684) | more than 10 years ago | (#9677040)

It comes down to the Wiki is not paper [] policy. Wikipedia has the capability to have information on everything somebody might want to know, so why not?

competition (2, Insightful)

asyncster (532683) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676890)

Wikipedia has experienced trememdous growth over the last couple years. It has surpassed all other encyclopedias in terms of article count and up-to-date content. However, it seems that wikipedia could have a stifling effect on other encyclopedia companies that are simply unable to compete. Has wikipedia's presence hurt the market for printed encyclopedias?

How do you ensure the accuracy... (2, Interesting)

Lodragandraoidh (639696) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676895)

How do you ensure the accuracy of the entries?

What I would like to see comments on would be... (2, Interesting)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676915)

the abillity to have colabertation in artwork similar to wikipedia and open source. I see this would be most usefull in 3d applications. If there were a universal format for 3d that could be easily converted to-from other 3d formats. This way someone could create a 3d model of say, the statue of liberty, this could then be improved appon and details added by the general public and anytime someone wanted to have a statue of liberty in their 3d environment it would already be available with eventually nearly exacting details.

Is this something that is possible with the type of frame work? Would it be possible within the artistic communities?

Hitchhiker's Guide (2, Funny)

Rethcir (680121) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676935)

When are they gonna come out with the "Hitchhiker's Guide" handheld version of the database? ipods are already smaller than the prop used for the Guide in the 80's tv series, and the total text data is only what like 17 gigs or something? And I could put as much "Yankees Sucks" vandalism in it as i wanted.

What about the Open Encyclopedia Project? (1)

xmas2003 (739875) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676944)

Any comments on The Open Encyclopedia Project [] which appears to have a similar objective/goal as Wikipedia [] - which you have done a very nice job with BTW! ;-)

editing /.? (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676953)

(10 of your highest-moderated questions will be sent to Jimbo by email.

Yeah, but can I submit an edit to someone else's highly moderated post?

Re:editing /.? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9677127)

Sure. Just start your reply with "MOD PARENT DOWN", then copy the post and apply edits;)

Local copy of Wikipedia (3, Interesting)

managementboy (223451) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676956)

I would like to be able to have a copy of Wikipedia for offline use. When will we see the first Wikipedia "distribution"? (SuSE/Redhat etc. Wikipedia anyone?)

My Question (4, Interesting)

pmaccabe (747075) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676957)

What are you currently involved in as far as legal pressure to modify the current system of copyright and/or patent law that restricts the public domain and the availability and distribution of information? Where have we gone from Eldred v. Ashcroft?

What can we do to help in the current efforts?

Do you have frequent legal issues brought against you by others with regards to your material, or has this been the exception rather than the rule?

How are these issues dealt with, are there any cases that are particulary indicative of the problems with today's copyright laws?

Thanks for your time, keep up the good work.

Hiawatha Bray's article in today's Globe... (5, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 10 years ago | (#9676974)

online for 48 hours,
One great source--if you can trust it [] , contains the familiar criticism that "it lacks one vital feature of the traditional encyclopedia: accountability."

How do you respond to this comment?

Does you feel that the Wikipedia community has group standards that are comparable to, say, the group standards of people who have graduated from journalism schools?

Copyright problem (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9676999)

Just like SCO, how do you know that Britanica or Encarta is not going to sue you if they think that your articles infringe on their copyright. What bothers me is that, they can also collect damages from the past infringment, so removing the content may not be enough.

How do you protect the integrity and uniqueness of Wikipedia?

I hope you are careful about this situation, because slashdot community will not save wikipedia if such a problem occurs in the future.

Collaborative Media Foundation (0, Troll)

downbad (793562) | more than 10 years ago | (#9677016)

Now that you're the new posterboy for collaborative media, are you going to pull a "Rusty Foster" and run away with all of the money Wikipedia's users have donated to the cause?

How ideal is Wikipedia's license? (2, Interesting)

Florian (2471) | more than 10 years ago | (#9677022)

Wikipedia's entire content and submissions are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License (FDL). This license is considered problematic by some people in the free software community because it allows either the author or future editors to put invariable sections into a document. Do you share these concerns? Could somebody, theoretically, fork off a version of Wikipedia "enhanced" with invariable, i.e. proprietary, content?

I understand that there were not any good alternatives to the GNU FDL when Wikipedia was started. But would you rather pick a Creative Commons license for the project today?

The beer aspect (4, Interesting)

paroneayea (642895) | more than 10 years ago | (#9677059)

I understand the concept of free as in freedom, and not as in free beer. I recognize that they are not always the same thing. And I am an advocate of free software, quite frankly.
But one night when I was driving home with my father, I explained to him the concept behind wikipedia. He thought it was fascinating, and yet it dumbfounded him. How can such a thing afford to exist? What about the massive server costs?
I did the usual explaining of donations and such. However, he raised a valid point: It would be difficult for us to have many successful projects donation-wise.
How do you think free as in freedom content can continue to exist in the future, and where do you see it going... financially?

Have any libraries found you? (2, Interesting)

no reason to be here (218628) | more than 10 years ago | (#9677088)

That is to say, do you know if libraries (especially any major research libraries) have begun linking to Wikipedia on said libraries' online resource pages?

One area Wikipedia seems to lack (4, Interesting)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 10 years ago | (#9677182)

Other encyclopedias cite sources for their work. Wikipedia does not seem to have a facility for this, and I have yet to see sources cited in any of the articles. Am I correct in my assumptions? Why aren't sources cited? It would add credibility to the project.

Reliability and Sabotage (3, Interesting)

sotweed (118223) | more than 10 years ago | (#9677269)

What is the incidence of well-meaning but misinformed people introducing incorrect information? Do you make any attempt to track this?

Related, what is the incidence of what appears to be intentional sabotage by introducing incorrect information? Can you distinguish?

Maybe... (3, Interesting)

Cinquero (174242) | more than 10 years ago | (#9677276)

... this isn't the right place to ask, but how about integrating Project Gutenberg with Wikipedia? Wouldn't it be great to have hyperlinked online books? :-))
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