Beta
×

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

Thank you!

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

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

Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales Responds

Roblimo posted more than 10 years ago | from the closing-in-on-100-million-words dept.

407

Wikipedia is an excellent project, and Slashdot readers' questions for Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales were just as excellent -- as are Jimmy Wales' answers to 12 of the highest-moderated questions you submitted. 1) Donations - by southpolesammy
What's the current state of donations and what is the future of Wikipedia if fund raising without advertisements does not increase?


Jimmy Wales:
We are always in need of funds for hardware. I still cover the bandwidth and hosting charges, and will do so for the foreseeable future, but we rely on community donations for the hardware that we need to run the site.

Our growth rate continues to be staggering.

One of the reasons I was excited to be asked by Roblimo to do this interview is that the slashdot community in particular has been so generous to us in the past. This is an audience that understands the importance of what we're doing, the importance of spreading the idea of GNU-style freedom far beyond the free software community.

Anyone who would is interested in donating money to help, please visit the site to see how we use the money.

2) Advertising? - by obli
How has the word about wikipedia been spread? Has wikipedia actually paid a dime for all its publicity? I don't think I've seen any advertisement when I think about it.


Jimmy Wales:
No, we don't pay for publicity, never have and most likely never will; it hasn't been necessary, and I don't see that it will be necessary.

The key is that we're doing exciting and interesting things, showing what is possible to a community project running free software and working under a free license. Nowadays everyone knows that excellent software can be written using the principles of free licensing, and we're proving that the idea of sharing knowledge is powerful in other areas as well.

3) Complement or Competitor to Traditional Encycs by ewanrg
Was wondering if you view the Wikipedia as a competitor or an additional tool compared to a World Book or an Encyclopedia Britannica?


Jimmy Wales:
I would view them as a competitor, except that I think they will be crushed out of existence within 5 years.

Software is unique in that there are network externalities and various other mechanisms of "lock in" that make it hard for us to get people to switch to free alternatives. People are very comfortable with Microsoft products, and they fear that if they switch, they'll give up all the skills that they've learned (ctrl-alt-del!) and won't be able to share files with others.

But the things our community is producing are different. There's no cost to switching from an outdated old encyclopedia to Wikipedia -- just click and learn, and there you go. You can switch before your friends switch, but the knowledge you learn will be perfectly compatible.

4) Quality Control - by Raindance
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)?


Jimmy Wales:
Well, encyclopedia articles can be bad in a lot of obvious ways, and some subtle ways. Obvious ways include simply incorrect information, or grammatical errors, or strong bias. Subtle ways can include milder forms of bias, dull writing, etc.

Quality control is what a lot of our internal processes are all about. Every page on the site shows up on Special:Recentchanges, and individuals have 'watchlists' that they can (and do) use to keep an eye on particular articles.

I am currently working on a first draft proposal to the community for our "next phase" of review, which will involve getting serious about producing a "1.0 stable" release. The concept here is very analagous to that in the software world -- the existing site is always the cutting edge nightly build, which rocks of course, but we also need a stable release that's been reviewed and tested and found good.

I'll put out that draft in a couple of weeks, and get feedback and revisions from the community, and then we will hold a project-wide vote.

That process might involve some bits that are like the slashdot moderation/metamoderation system, but it's likely to be much more of an editing-oriented process than voting-oriented process.

5) How to balance coverage? - by mangu
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.


Jimmy Wales:
This is increasingly a solved problem. It is true that we have quite a bit of pertinent information about slashdot trolls, but we also have just about every important topic as well. Of course some areas are in greater need than others, and finding them and resolving them is an ongoing effort in the community.

I think you'd be pretty hard pressed anymore to find topics that are in Britannica that we don't cover at all. It's still not that hard, if you look around a bit, to find rare articles in Britannica that are better than our article on the same topic. But it's getting harder all the time.

So to answer your question directly, yes, there are constant efforts to get articles written on specific topics, and to flesh out areas that we haven't yet covered as well as we should.

6) The constant bickering... - by Rageon
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?


Jimmy Wales:
In our community, we very strongly discourage that kind of bickering. One of the biggest social faux pas that one can commit is the dreaded "revert war". But humans are humans, and they will argue, and we have to understand that there will never be a process whereby we eliminate all of that.

7) Getting people involved - by Anonymous Coward
What methods have you found that work best for getting people not only involved in contributing, but also keeping them contributing to the Wiki?


Jimmy Wales:
Love. It isn't very popular in technical circles to say a lot of mushy stuff about love, but frankly it's a very very important part of what holds our project together.

I have always viewed the mission of Wikipedia to be much bigger than just creating a killer website. We're doing that of course, and having a lot of fun doing it, but a big part of what motivates us is our larger mission to affect the world in a positive way.

It is my intention to get a copy of Wikipedia to every single person on the planet in their own language. It is my intention that free textbooks from our wikibooks project will be used to revolutionize education in developing countries by radically cutting the cost of content.

Those kinds of big picture ideals make people very passionate about what we're doing. And it makes it possible for people to set aside a lot of personal differences and disputes of the kind that I talked about above, and just compromise to keep getting the work done.

I frequently counsel people who are getting frustrated about an edit war to think about someone who lives without clean drinking water, without any proper means of education, and how our work might someday help that person. It puts flamewars into some perspective, I think.

Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing.

8) Advertisers, Spammers, Search Engines, oh my! - by RomSteady
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?


Jimmy Wales:
Sure, I think it's pretty simple to solve problems like that. One of the first tricks I would try is to parse the wiki text that someone inputs to see if it contains an external link. If so, then only in those cases, require an answer to a captcha.

Second step, keep editing wide open for everyone, but restrict the ability to post external links to people who are trusted by that community. Make it really easy for trusted users to extend the zone of trust, because you want to encourage participation.

Basically what I think works in a wikis is to trust people to do the right thing, and trust them as much as you can possibly stand it, until it hurts your head and makes you scared for what they're going to break. Because that is what works.

People are not fundamentally bad. It only takes the smallest of correctives to take care of that tiny minority that wants to disrupt the community.

9) Webservices ? Data Formats ? - by sh0rtie
Ever thought of offering alternative data access services other than HTML ? examples of other successful community driven sites such as IMDB [imdb.com] 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 ?


Jimmy Wales:
Yes, yes, yes. I am 100% all for it. Join wikitech-l, the technical mailing list, and ask about specifics, and we'd be thrilled to have more developers volunteering to help us get those kinds of things implemented quickly and correctly.

10) China and Wiki - by Stargoat
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?


Jimmy Wales:
The block in China only lasted for a couple of days, until some administrators in the Chinese-language wikipedia appealed the ban.

My thinking on that is two-fold. First, it's a huge embarassment for the censors if they block Wikipedia, because we are none of the things that they claim to want to censor. Censoring Wikipedia is an admission that it is unbiased factual information itself that frightens you. We are not political propaganda, we are not online gambling, we are not pr0n. We are an encyclopedia.

Second, I consider it a moral imperative for our overall mission that we will not bend our principles of freedom, of the freedom of speech, of a commitment to inclusiveness and neutrality, to meet any possible demands of any government anywhere. We are a _free_ encyclopedia, with all that entails.

11) One area Wikipedia seems to lack - by wcrowe
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.


Jimmy Wales:
I think you're mistaken. We do cite sources, about as much as most encyclopedias, I think. But I do agree with you that more sources is good, and there's no question that as we move forward towards a 1.0 stable release, one of our goals will be to provide more articles with more extensive information about "where to learn more", i.e. cite original research, etc., as much as we can.

12) Money issues - by Achoi77
Considering the fact that wikipedia has gotten bigger than ever, are there any real potential fears that the lack of a steady cash flow may cause the whole project to collapse? Has any (and what kind of) unfavorable contingency plans been considered (like ads) and outright rejected, only to be reconsidered again at a later time?


Jimmy Wales:
Wikipedia has gotten bigger than ever, and keeping us in enough servers to keep performance where we want it is a topic constantly on our minds.

But at the same time, I have every confidence that we'll be just fine. The thing is: everyone loves Wikipedia. When I asked the world for $20,000 last January, we raised nearly $50,000 in less than a week.

We are currently investigating the possibility of grants, and we are also asking you, here, today, to consider visiting the project to find out how you can help, if that's something you're comfortable with doing.

The question of advertising is discussed sometimes, but not really in the context of "will we need to accept ads to survive". The answer to that is clearly "no".

The discussion about advertising is really more a question that asks: with this kind of traffic, and the kind of growth we are seeing, how much good could we do as a charitable institution if we decided to accept advertising. It would be very lucrative for the Wikimedia Foundation if the community decided to do it, because our cost structure is extremely extremely low compared to any traditional website.

That money could be used to fund books and media centers in the developing world. Some of it could be used to purchase additional hardware, some could be used to support the development of free software that we use in our mission. The question that we may have to ask ourselves, from the comfort of our relatively wealthy Internet-connected world, is whether our discomfort and distaste for advertising intruding on the purity of Wikipedia is more important than that mission.

But it's more complex than that, even, because in large part, our success so far is due to the purity of what we're doing. We might find that accepting ad money would cut us off from possible grant money. It's a complex question.

But it is not a question that has to be answered for our continuing survival. We can keep going as we are now, with your help of course. :-)

Know someone *other than your favorite political candidate* who'd make a great Slashdot interview guest? Please email Roblimo with the person's name and contact information.

cancel ×

407 comments

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

say what (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822783)

Life is a bitch, and im her pimp

Re:say what (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822819)

You all don't know what it's like, being male, middle class, and white!

fp? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822787)

fp?

Re:fp? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822831)

no. but slashdot is sucking major ass today .

Re:fp? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822835)

Yahoo! ya did get frist psot ya gnaa fuckah, and im the frist asnwell to teh frist psot hahaha

I run Gentoo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822813)

how does this affect me?

Re:I run Gentoo (2, Funny)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823112)

If it's the same Gentoo as on Stargate Atlantis last night, apparently you get lost by walking into closets that are really elevators or transporters or something.

Backups (5, Interesting)

Patik (584959) | more than 10 years ago | (#9822844)

Wikipedia seems like a truly priceless knowledgebase. It would be a good idea if a non-electronic backup could be made and stored away in the event of a catastrophic world crisis. I realize it is over 700,000 articles, but it would be such a shame for something like a nuclear war to wipe out all of this knowledge. Perhaps a paper edition is printed every X years (to keep up with changing articles) and properly stored?

Re:Backups (5, Funny)

karniv0re (746499) | more than 10 years ago | (#9822855)

Dude, if it came down to a nuclear war, I'm pretty sure Wikipedia is going to be the last thing on everyone's mind.

Re:Backups (5, Funny)

xmas2003 (739875) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823190)

Ummmm ... in case of Nuclear War, I think we should consult Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] to see what it says about it! ;-)

Re:Backups (3, Insightful)

larien (5608) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823206)

Possibly in the short term; in the longer term, people (i.e. historians) will want to know as much as possible about life pre-nuclear war.

Re:Backups (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822884)

Every slashdotter prints one article: Problem solved. Only problem: How do you give everyone a unique article to print...

Re:Backups - Try P2P (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822903)

I'm all for backups (not to mention a searchable press-quality copy), but but why not distribute it via Bittorrent and Freenet?

Re:Backups - Try P2P (2, Funny)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823089)

BitTorrent and Freenet aren't as good at distributing non-electronic media as you might think. The paper tends to clog the network cables.

Re:Backups (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822937)

Perhaps a paper edition is printed every X years (to keep up with changing articles) and properly stored?
Excellent idea. Then that document is stored in the National Archives, and painstakingly scanned and OCR'd by an army of secretaries, and then we can have the whole thing online!

Re:Backups (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9823389)

Then that document is stored in the National Archives

Which is all well and good until someone stuffs the print version of Wikipedia in their socks and walks off...

Re:Backups (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822975)

Uhh... paper burns from nukes too.

Re:Backups (2, Interesting)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823045)

How would a paper copy be any more safe than a server if there was a nuclear war?

Re:Backups (3, Interesting)

Roadkills-R-Us (122219) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823205)

Well, for starters, the EMP blast area is much bigger than the physical destruction blast area.

For another, it's easier to store an encyclopedia in a vault than a server farm.

And of course, the paper encyclopedia will work without power, A/C, etc. Just keep the hunmidity reasonable.

It's the time capsule approach.

Re:Backups (1)

rleibman (622895) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823376)

Well, just backup to optical, optical bits are not affected by EMP.

Re:Backups (1)

XMyth (266414) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823463)

For another, it's easier to store an encyclopedia in a vault than a server farm.


Do you really think you have to store the whole server farm ?

Why not just the hard drives or tapes or DVDs or {insert your favorite backup medium here} ?

Re:Backups (2, Informative)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823363)

Everybody can download the COMPLETE sql database from wikipedia.org.
Im sure ther are at least 1000 people in the world who have a more or less recent version to resupply even if the whole datacenter burns down,ect.

Re:Backups (4, Informative)

mbessey (304651) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823378)

These folks [longnow.org] might be able to help with plans for long-term backups of WikiPedia content.

-Mark

Re:Backups (1)

Sepper (524857) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823428)

like a nuclear war to wipe out all of this knowledge.

Sure... A dead tree edition could be cool, but I think the Nuclear war thing is a bit unprobable. A server crash is a more probable and Backups is what you want... in as many country as possible... a sort of distributed server farm... like google... or a bit like the net itself...

Anyway, everyone know that encyclopedia backups are going to be the basis of knowledge if the bombs drops... knowledge distributed by some brotherhood in power armor after we come out of the vaults... or something...

503? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822846)

503 Service Unavailable?!?! Slashdot? Say it ain't so!

Re:503? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822864)

see my earlier post on this login.pl 503 [slashdot.org]

First post! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822848)

1.0 release hardcopy? (5, Interesting)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 10 years ago | (#9822850)

Will you burn DVDs for offline users to purchase? I like buying GNU manuals in dead tree format, to fetish, and support the community. Worth considering.

Re:1.0 release hardcopy? (3, Interesting)

scovetta (632629) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823109)

I agree. I would gladly pay $20 or $30 for a DVD containing the whole wikipedia. I'd probably not want a million printed pages, but an offline format would certainly be something you should consider.

Re:1.0 release hardcopy? (4, Informative)

Txiasaeia (581598) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823420)

You can already download a copy of wikipedia for offline use - it's about 180 MB for a PC; I use it for my laptop.

But yeah, I'd pay $30 for an offline DVD copy of 1.0!

Trolls (2, Insightful)

Mateito (746185) | more than 10 years ago | (#9822851)

On Wikipedia, OTOH, one finds several articles about slashdot trolls, for instance, while other (important) fields are still unwritten.

Its obviously the slashdot TROLLs who are the generous donors to Wikipedia, and Wayne knows that he can't upset the troll or his funding might dissapear.

Then again, it might just be that more people know about slashdot trolls that they do about ancient slovian history.

In general, science (especially physics) is covered quite well and the humanities less so. But that's what you'd expect given the profile of people who form the pool of contributers. This will change over the next x years are more and more of todays infant computer users grow up to be humanitarians.

Re:Trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9823101)

This will change over the next x years are more and more of todays infant computer users grow up to be humanitarians.

I think you mis-spelled "humans".

Re:Trolls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9823212)

"Slovian"? Presumably you mean Slavic? Or Slovenian? Although I'm not sure there were ancient Slovenians.

heh (0)

nomadic (141991) | more than 10 years ago | (#9822859)

I would view them as a competitor, except that I think they will be crushed out of existence within 5 years.

Is this guy a betting man? Might be an easy way to make some cash (well, 5 years from now), if you could convince him to put money on it.

Re:heh (1, Interesting)

Mateito (746185) | more than 10 years ago | (#9822869)

I'm not convinced. I love having a 32 volume set of black leather bound Brittanica in my house, but we bought it something like 20 years ago, and its still in great condition due to the little use its actually had. I'm definitely not in a hurry to update it. Everything's on the web or, if I need something more specialist, I'll go and buy a book dedicated to that subject. Usually from amazon.

Re:heh (1)

eric17 (53263) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823131)

The only possible reason that I can see for wikipedia _not_ crushing the old school out of existence is the percieved lack of scholarly quality. But I doubt that this is a concern for most users of an encyclopedia.

Or do you have another reason to believe that crushing sounds won't be heard?

sources (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822865)

The cited sources might be a major issue for people doing research projects on it. I asked my librarian at the school I go to, and she had thought that it would be a bad idea to use it, because it's written by random people, instead of scholars like in "traditional" encyclopedias. Maybe this can be changed somehow to get Wikipedia look more credible.

Re:sources (3, Interesting)

mbbac (568880) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823181)

I think one possible way around this is to have an author/owner for each article. Any updates/insertions for that article would have to be vetted by the author.

Perhaps this should only apply to the periodic stable releases of the encyclopedia that Jimmy mentioned in one of his replies. That way if you're doing research intended for eventual publication, you'd use the most recent release of the encyclopdia since each article would have content vetted by its author/owner.

Re:sources (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9823213)

she had thought that it would be a bad idea to use it, because it's written by random people, instead of scholars like in "traditional" encyclopedias.

Random people? It's certainly not random people. Experts in their field have written most of it. The articles I've read in my field are so well written I've only been able to fix one trivial miswording and on bad link.

It's just an encyclopedia. Traditional ones aren't considered useful for scholarly research. Any librarian should know that.

Re:sources (1)

hunterx11 (778171) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823236)

Wikipedia isn't great to cite as a source, but frankly, neither is Encyclopedia Britannica. Wikipedia should list more references, because if one is doing research it's better to track down those sources than to cite an encyclopedia.

Re:sources (4, Interesting)

OneIsNotPrime (609963) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823344)

This may be an "interesting" post, but this is the same mindset of "Aren't professionals better? How can it work if it's free?" that has plagued Open Source Software from the outset, and I think it's important to understand that the implication behind it that "free and open = cheap and undependable" is false.

In open source software, the dependability comes from the fact that anyone can view the code, see potential problems, and apply fixes. There is no obscurity. People don't hide behind credentials. Same thing with Wikipedia.

In closed source software, the dangers of laziness and 'not made here' syndrome arise; people tend to trust the professionals and assume that everything is taken care of, hence issues like the current security crisis and lack of innovation in some apps (such as web browsers) arise. Same thing with proprietary encyclopedias - there is just as much, or arguably more, of a risk of publishing misinformation because the peer review process can NEVER be as thorough.

Somebody back me up on this...

Re:sources (4, Insightful)

mahulth (654977) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823371)

I have to agree that this could be the weakness in the foundation.

If Wikipedia does not change their current format and add a full references and citations section to each entry, this model might never gain academic acceptance. Without that, it's just a really quick way of getting data off the web, instead of being a viable and credible source.

Since they are still in a beta stage, Wikipedia should focus on addressing any and all possible issues, and not just stick with what they got cause they're already so far into development. As in this post, they should accept all of the feedback they can and address the necessarry issues instead of painting them over with an almost-superiority complex. I don't doubt the value of their work, but I think now is when you need to spot weaknesses and fix them so they don't haunt you down the line.

The goal I would like to see is for Wikipedia to be interchangeable with any other source for a refereed paper. And to get to that stage you need to follow certain protocol. I'd hate to see them never make it that far...

Re:sources (2, Interesting)

mahulth (654977) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823435)

and I don't mean for them to be used in refereed papers, just that they should set their sites far. not just as a community data exchange full of great, useful information but no credibility.

In Five Years... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822870)

I would view them as a competitor, except that I think they will be crushed out of existence within 5 years.

In five years, I think this statement will stand with "This Is the Year of Linux", "Closed Source Software will Die", and "No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame" as one of the dumbest of the geek community.

Re:In Five Years... (1)

Incoherent07 (695470) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823086)

The AC has a point, although I wouldn't go as far as "they're flat-out wrong" in this case... last I heard, paper encyclopedia sales weren't doing all that well.

honest question (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822885)

how is Jimmy Wales covering his own living costs?

I'm in no way bashing, just wondering how it could be possible for me myself to work on such a project? or even start some GPL style work in another context.

Re:honest question (4, Informative)

DarkMan (32280) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823103)

He runs a web hosting firm. I forget what it's called, but that's also how he's able to donate all the bandwidth for Wikipedia, and where all the servers are located.

Gotta admit, saying that you host Wikipedia is a serious selling point, in terms of proving you can cope with a big site.

Re:honest question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9823234)

The name of his company is Bomis : http://bomis.com/ . The servers are located in a colocation in Tampa (Florida) AFAIK.

Med

Question #7 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822888)

Um, that wasn't an answer. The question was "what do you do" and the response was "all you need is love" and a quasi-concept of how nice it will be when wikipedia is everywhere.

No (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822889)

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

I would view them as a competitor, except that I think they will be crushed out of existence within 5 years.
As it stands, you can quote Encyclopedia Britannica in any school essay. If I was marking some homework that relied on referencing Wikipedia, I'd have to fail them. Because (with some limitations) anybody with enough craftyness can write just about anything into Wikipedia. They could even write in what they're quoting. Nor is anything in there it verified 99.9% of the time.

I know many people *want* to love Wikipedia, and it has its uses, but it does have its faults. People trying to pretend those faults don't exist are starting to look like Linux zealots who have been saying Linux is about to take the desktop for the last 8 years. Don't blind yourself, realize this is not a researched encyclopedia but an interenet scrapbook. Britannica may have made errors in the past, but there're more things wrong with a handful of individual articles on Wikipedia than Britannica has made mistakes in their entire history.

Re:No (1, Troll)

dancingmad (128588) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823111)

I too have this problem with Wiki: how can it be used for legitimate citations when Joe Schmoe can wreck havoc on it - when something you cited might not be there tomorrow (for whatever reason, revert war or legitimate change)

I have used Wiki in paper citations before, when I couldn't easily find a more reliable source for general information, but the professors were also pretty clueless about Wiki (for a Biology paper and a Myth Fantasy Science Fiction paper). I didn't misuse the source in anyway, but if they had checked it and what I cited was no longer there, there could have been problems. But as more professors wise up to it, I would be hard pressed to continue using it for citations, because anyone can write in it and because of the ability to change it. Which, in short means, Wiki is a great place to tickle one's brain, but isn't ready for real use yet.

Now, Jimmy mentions working to a 1.0 release of Wiki - a stable version, if you will. That I think could become the "academic" wiki, the frozen one that could be cited. If it had more citations itself and if it could be authoritatively fact checked, then I see Wiki becoming the dominant means of general infomation within my academic lifetime. I could see an authorative version of wiki being put out on a regular basis (yearly? twice yearly?) with citations and fact checking which could incorporate the "nightlies" of the dynamic page.

I really want to love Wiki and for doing general research I think it can't be beat. But I think there's going to have to be an "untouchable" version (even if that version is updated regularly) for it to become really useful.

Cite specific revision of article (5, Informative)

rolofft (256054) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823336)

Cite the specific revision of the article at the time you site [utexas.edu] it. You can always pull up a previous revision of an article.

E.g.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmed_Yassin , Revision of 16:20, 6 Apr 2004)

Re:No (5, Interesting)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823120)

Nor is anything in there it verified 99.9% of the time.

You sure about that? One time, I added a note to the article on the M1 Abrams tank about reactive armor, and later that day I got a note from an army mechanic who stated that that particular modification had never actually been made. Seems to me there's plenty of verification.

That's the problem (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9823176)

Nor is anything in there it verified 99.9% of the time.

You sure about that? One time, I added a note to the article on the M1 Abrams tank about reactive armor, and later that day I got a note from an army mechanic who stated that that particular modification had never actually been made. Seems to me there's plenty of verification.
Yes, I am sure about that. I have seen people write total cr_p in Wikipedia and get away with it because they say theyre an 'expert' and others believe them. How do you know this guy is really an army mechcanic? This is the internet. He probably is for real, but many others jus aren't.

And this is different from a printed encyclopedia? (3, Insightful)

Jonathan (5011) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823232)

I don't think you realize how printed encyclopedias are written. Basically, they contact someone in a field and they can write basically anything they want and it goes in. Gary Olsen, who was my doctoral advisor, was contacted to write the World Book entry on Archaeabacteria. Now, he knows his stuff, and is honest, so it's a good article. But what if he didn't and wasn't? Certainly I've read just plain wrong things in printed encyclopedias

Re:No (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823239)

Well, that's a pretty strong claim you make there, given the level of peer review of article changes.

Care to expand on what level of craftiness is required?

Care to cite the Wikipedia articles which are so flawed?

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9823272)

As it stands, you can quote Encyclopedia Britannica in any [high] school essay.

Nuff said.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9823347)

>Because (with some limitations) anybody with enough craftyness can write just about anything into Wikipedia.

Which is why they have an option to question what is written there and to report sources of where the information came from.

With EB you can't do this.

see: a-non-y-mous cow-ard (5, Funny)

asbestos_tophat (720099) | more than 10 years ago | (#9822895)

a-non-y-mous cow-ard


n.


A rare breed of nocturnal technologically savvy coffee drinker. The anti-social A.C. is related to the neo-ludite family. The North American variety is known to infest networks of varied bandwidths and breeds quickly when the practically extinct female of the species is introduced to its natural habitat. The cubicle habitat has been providing more space and hope for the survival of these species. This important creature is part of an ecosystem that even supports the all important parasitic management weasels that live alongside them in relative harmony.

That's Beautiful. (5, Insightful)

mcSey921 (230169) | more than 10 years ago | (#9822897)

It is my intention to get a copy of Wikipedia to every single person on the planet in their own language. It is my intention that free textbooks from our wikibooks project will be used to revolutionize education in developing countries by radically cutting the cost of content...


Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing.


Good luck and godspeed. That last sentence brings a tear to my eye. This what I thought the Internet would be about before the bubble. I may just start to believe again.

Re:That's Beautiful. (4, Interesting)

PetoskeyGuy (648788) | more than 10 years ago | (#9822974)

I agree it's beautiful thing, but my next thought was that is sounds like Asimov's Harry Seldon creating Foundation.

Re:That's Beautiful. (5, Insightful)

killjoe (766577) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823019)

I must admit the last sentence hit me so hard I opened up my wallet.

More power to wikipedia.

Re:That's Beautiful. (1)

SilkBD (533537) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823020)

Seriously... I'm getting all Misty eyed.

Re:That's Beautiful. (4, Funny)

arcanumas (646807) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823065)

Well Ron Gilbert said it best.
"the Web is the sum of all human knowledge plus porn."
http://www.grumpygamer.com/7615642

Re:That's Beautiful. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9823334)

Sure that wasn't Ron Jeremy?

Re:That's Beautiful. (5, Interesting)

Rxke (644923) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823361)

Every single person on the planet. Does that mean couples can forget about it? ;)

Seriously. IMHO he is pure Nobel-prize material. Spreading knowledge is of the utmost importance to improve the situation on this blue speck.

503 errors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822920)

It seems to be cgi/perl issue as both http://slashdot.org/submit.pl & http://slashdot.org/login.pl
give the 503 errors
see both prior post on this
re:503 [slashdot.org]
login .pl 503 [slashdot.org]
--Fmileto

Re:503 errors (2, Funny)

theendlessnow (516149) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823469)

Seems that somebody replaced ./ with ./../.

Problem always resides with bad parenting doesn't it?

Wikipedia vs Traditional Encyclopedia's (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822938)

First, let me say that I love wikipedia and think its a great resource. I use it regularly. I also work at a traditional encyclopedia company (based in chicago, owned by someone real rich - you guess).

The problem I have with Jimmy's assertion that companies like mine will be out of buisness in 5 years is this: wikipedia and most thriving encyclopedias have different markets.

Our products (both print and online) are geared to the K-12 student and very little else. We take special pains to ensure that the content is at a level that our audience can digest. We talk with teachers and librarians across the world to ensure readership. We also take great pains to make sure the writing and style is consistent across the product - something that seems very important to educators.

Now, Wikipedia has many many more articles than our online product, but quantity doesn't always win out, especially in the education world. Secondly, I doubt very much that wikipedia can attain the same amount of attention to the K-12 market as we do. Its hard to offer something for free and then do all the editing and research into the market. The educators that purchase our products want to have a good qaulity resource they can point pupils to, not something they have to contribute to make it that way. This is why I don't see Wikipedia and our product as a direct competitor, Wikipedia reaches a different market altogether. For instance, I really enjoy reading Wikipedia now, just as I really enjoyed reading encyclopedia's when I was younger. The difference is I am an educated adult now and can digest the Wikipedia content. When I was in elementary school, I think most of the Wikipedia articles would have been out of my reach.

It goes without saying that traditional encyclopedia's have to change their buisness in a new information age (something we are working on very hard). However, as a product, we don't see our core audience (K-12 School and Libraries) running away from us for Wikipedia in the near future.

Keep up the work on the amazing product.

funniest. thing. ever. (1)

exhilaration (587191) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823115)

For instance, I really enjoy reading Wikipedia now, just as I really enjoyed reading encyclopedia's when I was younger. You have GOT to be kidding!

Re:funniest. thing. ever. (2, Interesting)

BJH (11355) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823320)

What's funny about it? When I was about 6 or 7, my grandparents gave me a 13-volume encyclopedia from the 1920's (i.e. about 50 years out of date), and for several years I loved to just open a volume at a random point and start reading.
I can only imagine what it would be like to be that age again and have unlimited access to a regularly updated encyclopedia.

Re:funniest. thing. ever. (1)

eric17 (53263) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823346)

Ah, there's the videogames, comicbooks and cartoons (ok, ok, animation) sort of geek. And then there is the voraciously reading, puzzle solving, science loving sort of geek. Except maybe at slashdot, they don't generally associate. And the latter generally look down at the former, as well they should. So laugh all you want, comic-boy! :)

Re:funniest. thing. ever. (1)

TRACK-YOUR-POSITION (553878) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823466)

And then you have the dungeons and dragons sort of geek...

Re:Wikipedia vs Traditional Encyclopedia's (4, Insightful)

teslatug (543527) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823274)

The beauty of Wikipedia is that it can adapt. There already is a simple version (Simple [wikipedia.org] ). All you need is more volunteers. Considering that there are only about 6000 active editors throughout the different projects (Active wikipedians [wikipedia.org] ), and we have achieved this much, can you imagine what could be achieved if 10% of students throughout the world got involved. You could have a K-12 edition in one year. Likewise, once Wikipedia hits 1.0 you have a reviewed edition.

Don't think that this is that it is just a dream, it can happen with enough people, which just means enough access and exposure. There is a very low barrier to participating in Wikipedia (yes, I can hear people saying that will just mean the unwashed/uneducated masses), compared to other open source projects. Most people really are good. Once the Internet takes off in the world, and once Wikipedia becomes more well known, you will see it become an even more useful project.

Re:Wikipedia vs Traditional Encyclopedia's (1)

Edward Faulkner (664260) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823448)

K-12 educators do indeed demand watered down versions of most information, which is part of the problem with basic education today.

Many children are turned off by reading because it is "boring". That's because the books they're forced to read in school have far less complexity and richness than the language children use verbally every day.

There's lots of historical precedent for successfully introducing children to "adult level" books. See for example the writings of John Taylor Gatto [johntaylorgatto.com] .

Time Capsule (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9822943)

Usually when I post to Wikipedia, I always get the thought in the back of my head that basically says, "Wow.. this is such an amazing collection of human knowledge.. it'd be a great time capsule contribution, and it'd also be a great way for..well..extraterrestrials.. to learn about us.

He underestimates evil nature (4, Interesting)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 10 years ago | (#9822962)

I liked most of his responses (although his "they'll be crushed in 5 years" was a little too brunt for my tastes. Still, I think Jimmy underestimates one of the basic tenants of human nature: it's fun to be bad.

The first time I saw a Wiki, and learned enough to understand how to add to it, I was a bit surprised on how easily you could destroy the whole thing. A few types and, bam, the article was gone. Sure, there was versioning and all, so they could go back to an earlier version if they wanted, but the preventative measures they had in place for preventing random deletions (just showing the guy's IP) were crude.

So you might say "no one in the community would do that". But guess what... it's human nature to test the system, to break things. That's where an Encyclopedia Britanica or whatever, with an established history, has a leg up over Wiki.

When I open a commercial encyclopedia, I know the article I'm reading was usually typed by someone educated in the subject, edited by multiple people, and will never disappear while I'm reading it. True, there's bias and errors, and everything, but they're in all media. Quality control, which he barely addresses, is much more difficult in an environment where Joe Public can randomly delete articles.

I think Wikis are eventually going to die off, and blogs with rating systems will ultimately reign supreme. Everyone talks, everyone determines what articles are top notch, and someone truly in control can axe things if necessary. There's no true control with Wiki, and that's its biggest hurdle.

Re:He underestimates evil nature (5, Informative)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823074)

I think Wikis are eventually going to die off, and blogs with rating systems will ultimately reign supreme. Everyone talks, everyone determines what articles are top notch, and someone truly in control can axe things if necessary. There's no true control with Wiki, and that's its biggest hurdle.

Have you looked at the internal process at Wikipedia? There's plenty of control.

Vandalize an article? Unless you pick something very minor and obscure, there's someone who has it on a watchlist who will find what you've done and fix it quickly.

Repeated vandalism? You (or your IP address) can get a one-day ban by any of the administrators. A longer ban can be placed if needed.

Having an edit war? One of the admins can protect the page from further changes, while arranging for a mediator to sort out the differences.

There are plenty of procedures in place for dealing with problem users. They're not needed very often, which is why it doesn't look like they exist.

Re:He underestimates evil nature (1)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823191)

"Repeated vandalism? You (or your IP address) can get a one-day ban by any of the administrators. A longer ban can be placed if needed."

With very little work, I was able to convince the system that I was deleting the same page repeatedly from different IPs. It was just a test (in that case, I put it back), but banning particular IPs doesn't help too much.

Re:He underestimates evil nature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9823258)

Have you looked at the internal process at Wikipedia? There's plenty of control.
Vandalize an article? Unless you pick something very minor and obscure, there's someone who has it on a watchlist who will find what you've done and fix it quickly.
Yes, and the democratic system assures good government. George Bush must be a great president

It doesn't matter what system there is, when there're many people in the system who are activily trying to subvert the system, the system won't work, even if everyone thinks it's wonderful.

You speak of control in the Wikipedia system, but who has the control? Yes, exactly.

Re:He underestimates evil nature (1)

gorbachev (512743) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823264)

"Repeated vandalism? You (or your IP address) can get a one-day ban by any of the administrators. A longer ban can be placed if needed."

It would take about half a day (with testing) to write a simple mass deleter app that would use rotating open proxies (slightly for zombies) to cause some major havoc in there.

Re:He underestimates evil nature (2, Funny)

MarsDefenseMinister (738128) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823375)

Well don't just stand there, write a Wikipedia article about mass deleters using rotating open proxies. That's what a free encyclopedia is all about.

Re:He underestimates evil nature (1)

teslatug (543527) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823166)

You can just link to a specific version of an article, it doesn't look as good but it works. Of course, then you'll end up with what Britannica has (which you consider superior): an outdated article. The good part is that you also have access to the current article.

Having a stable release will also help with this. Wikipedia 1.0 might just be comparable to Britannica (if not better), and it will be just as stable. You could think of the current setup as a beta, and I think it's pretty good for a beta.

Re:He underestimates evil nature (2)

spludge (99050) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823257)

Like you I don't agree with Jimmy Wales that Wikipedia is going to destroy encyclopedias. Wikis have an incredible asset in that anyone can edit them, but this asset creates difficult inherent problems. You cannot always trust what is written in a Wiki and they are open for acts of vandalism. Wikipedia, even if it has not already, is going to suffer from the same large scale vandalism problems that the general internet does. Virus writers, script kiddies etc etc.

However I don't agree with your assertion that Wikis are eventually going to die off. I think that Wikis in their current form are most useful to smaller groups of people where there is a high level of trust. Wikis of this size will never die out and have found a good niche. On the other hand Wikis that grow large enough will have to develop tradeoffs between ease of editing and ease of control (just as slashdot has). I believe that some of these measures may be more extreme than what Jimmy is suggesting eg. having known experts be willing to certify a particular version of a wiki page. Only time and experimentation will tell us what the acceptable tradeoff is, but the basic premise of the wiki is too good for it to die out.

Re:He underestimates evil nature (3, Insightful)

UserGoogol (623581) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823470)

People don't do graffiti in pencil.

Re:He underestimates evil nature (1)

toddhisattva (127032) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823348)

You are exactly right: quality control is Wikipedia's fatal weakness.

Wikipedia articles can be, and have been, hijacked by special-interest groups. Bad ancient history, Turkic Scythians! And even worse recent history, especially regarding online culture. Deletion and defacing are the smallest of their problems compared to bias and general idiocy.

Wikipedia is full of cranks. It's on the same mental shelf as Graham Hancock and H.P. Blavatsky. It may be fun/funny to read, but it is so obviously an awful source of information that any Wikipedia article should be backed up with a half-hour of good hard Googling!

This is something I am glad to see. (1)

DWXXV (784152) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823025)

Wikipedia just seems to be the good things about open source, freedom etc. personified. It makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

What about physical goods... (4, Interesting)

alarocca (683961) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823050)

has anybody thought about applying this community development towards the creation of some sort of mechanical device. Inventions could be perfected and perhaps someday there could even be open-source automobile designs. does this sound plausible to anyone? what are your thoughts?

Wow, it's 1999 all over again. (0, Troll)

theonomist (442009) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823305)

has anybody thought about applying this community development towards the creation of some sort of mechanical device.

Yep, people have been jabbering about that idea on Slashdot for quite a few years now: "Huh huh, open source space ships, huh huh!" I thought that stuff went out of style around the time the Beowulf cluster joke got stale, but perhaps I was wrong.

My thoughts? Something like this: "Beavis, you're a dumbass..."

Re:What about physical goods... (2, Informative)

chris mazuc (8017) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823327)

Well if you need any of a wide array of processors: Opencore.org [opencores.org] !

Re:What about physical goods... (1)

crazyray (776321) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823421)

that is an incredible idea, and probably deserves its own topic (ask Slashdot maybe?).... but how would you prevent someone either in the group or outside of the group from patenting it, or, worse yet, just blatantly ripping off the design?

nastalgia (2, Interesting)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823077)

When the wikipedia project was first announced on /. a number of years ago I remember I was writing a paper on Tiberius Gracchus. Currently there was nothing on wikipedia about him so I decided to edit my paper into an encyclopedia-ish form and upload it. This is when I was a sophomore in HS by the way. Anyway the article actually stayed as is for about two years before someone else rewrote it to make it not suck. However there are one or two sentences that bear just a hint of my original writing. Kind of neat I think.

Ah, fuck. (5, Funny)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823084)

This kind of unabashed optimism has got to stop. Now I'm at work and I'm getting all bleary eyed.

Success via trusting people & purity of ideals. G'damnit, this is going to have me verklempt for like a week.

Offline format (5, Funny)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823110)

May I have mine in a small PDA format with the messages "DON'T PANIC" printed in large friendly letters on the glossy plastic slipcover?

boring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9823177)

that was one of the most boring responses I have ever read.

Make Donating Easier! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9823343)

Thirty seconds ago, I followed the link to donate to Wikipedia. Fifteen seconds ago, I had decided against giving anything. Why?

1) You only accept paypal and snail-mail. Not gonna happen.
2) You only have one-time donations.

There should be a secure form for credit cards. You should allow for small, monthly donations from the provided card. This will make donating convenient, less difficult to give (over time) large amounts, and will provide a steady stream of income for wikipedia (which is more important than getting random jabs of cash, although those are nice too.)

Make donating easy, and getting donations will be easy.

Sources and References (4, Interesting)

tabdelgawad (590061) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823383)

When an encyclopedia article is written by an academic 'expert', the reader might be willing to forego detailed references because there's a certain trust and appeal to authority. If I read an article about physics by Stephen Hawking, in a sense he serves as his own reference.

This situation does not apply when the encyclopedia article is written by essentially anonymous contributors. There's some reliability to be derived from open community editing, but ultimately as a reader, I need to see where the info came from. In fact, unless the article is making an original contribution to knowledge, a reader should be able to reproduce all the information in the article by looking up the references.

This 'replicability' standard is nothing new; any refereed academic journal will insist on it for the portions of an article that do not represent original knowledge. IMO, It is the only way to make Wikipedia authoritative.

Finally, I hope 'references' are not lumped or confused with 'to learn more' links. They serve completely different functions.

I'm new to Wiki (1)

exspecto (513607) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823427)

I just started browsing Wiki not too long ago. I'm looking at it right now and it's slow as molasses. Is this normal or is it a Slashdot effect?

Google, Gutenberg? (4, Interesting)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823458)

I have to think that Wikipedia would be _exactly_ something that Google could sponsor with its pending million$ or massive infrastructure..

Also, I notice that a bunch of entries are taken from public domain encyclopedia editions. An interesting feature would be to, say, allow 'shading' of citation sources, so that sections of text would have background colors based on a citation key... With the user's ability to filter out sources if they wish, or set a 'trust' level..

Cross-language dictionaries? (1)

infolib (618234) | more than 10 years ago | (#9823475)

I missed the original question round, but are there any plans for cross-language dictionaries?

They'd be mighty useful, and might even support open-source machine translation efforts. Besides, the idea of a trolled hungarian-english dictionary would make for a hilarious skit.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>