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The Dangers of Open Content

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the something-to-think-about dept.

240

gihan_ripper writes "Recently released open movie Elephants Dream found itself in hot water with Catalonians after accidentally using an offensive word instead of 'Català' in the subtitle menu. The cause? Designer Matt Ebb had used Wikipedia to look up the Catalan word for Catalan on a day when the entry had been vandalized. He writes about this experience on the Elephant Dream blog. We may have scoffed at John Seigenthaler over his criticisms of Wikipedia, but it gives us pause for thought when we to heavily on Wikipedia."

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Dangers of international content? (4, Interesting)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727935)

I understand the dangers from using wikipedia (and like so many slashdotters have said, for serious work, use it as a starting point, not a source.)

However, this is more about the troubles with doing international work - its hard to understand the sensitivities & languages of multiple (over 30!) cultures. Companies as large as Microsoft [com.com] have made mistakes [theregister.co.uk] like this before, withlout using open content.

a version of Windows XP aimed at Latin American markets asked users to select their gender between "not specified," "male" or "bitch."

As the (google cache) blog author says: [64.233.183.104]

I also hope everyone can see the humour of it, it's a successful prankster joke we should just laugh about and then move on shrugging it off.


*shrug* - not that big a deal, and an internationalisation, not open content problem.

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727964)

*shrug* - not that big a deal, and an internationalisation, not open content problem.

To elaborate a bit - there's large and thriving translator communities out there for many of the worlds languages. I'd go out on a limb and say that any open project can quite easily rustle up competent (and sometimes truly expert) help for any language or localization issue.

Re:Dangers of international content? (3, Insightful)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727970)

I understand the dangers from using wikipedia (and like so many slashdotters have said, for serious work, use it as a starting point, not a source.)

Why would I trust it as a starting point if I can't trust it as a source?

Re:Dangers of international content? (4, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727984)

Why would I trust it as a starting point if I can't trust it as a source?

You shouldn't trust any single source.

Wikipedia is a useful starting point as it will contain pointers (or at least useful search terms) to begin looking for other items to reference. It's no different to any other encyclopedia in that respect.

Surely you don't use a single soruce for information for an important project?

Re:Dangers of international content? (3, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728011)

Surely you don't use a single soruce for information for an important project?

I routinely do. But then the source in question is unimpeachable and has stood the test of time and criticism. In fact, in the real world it's very common to rely on single sources, handbooks, references, etc...
 
When writing a program, you don't look up the meaning of a command in three sources do you? When wiring a house, you don't check three different copies of the electrical code. When working on your car, all you need is your Chilton's. Examples abound of routine daily use of single sources.

Re:Dangers of international content? (2, Informative)

fotbr (855184) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728017)

When working on your car, all you need is your Chilton's

You don't want to know how many times I've needed to do something that WASN'T in a Chiltons. Substitute "Factory Service Manual" for "Chiltons" and I'll agree.

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728089)

You don't want to know how many times I've needed to do something that WASN'T in a Chiltons. Substitute "Factory Service Manual" for "Chiltons" and I'll agree.


Sure, but that's not the problem we see here: to make the analogy correct, have you ever looked up procedure in Chiltons and found it, only to find out later that its instructions were completely (or even maliciously) wrong?

Re:Dangers of international content? (4, Insightful)

gameforge (965493) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728217)

When writing a program, you don't look up the meaning of a command in three sources do you?

Regularly. And only then do I get a complete description, if not find an error in one.

When wiring a house, you don't check three different copies of the electrical code.

If one, even. Really, if there were multiple versions (not copies) released at the same time, of course I would look at all of them.

When working on your car, all you need is your Chilton's.

And that's exactly why my interior door panel on my old 1993 Grand Am held on for dear life by three screws. Sure it was my fault for not being gentle; but the factory shop manual, I discovered, had a full blown illustration and much more detailed procedure. Chiltons and Haynes both throw five models over ten years into one book, making it useless for anything but drivetrain work. They may as well cut the interior and body work out of their manuals entirely, along with much of the electrical and vacuum system stuff.

Again, if Pontiac made several publications with varying but similar information, I'd want all of them, and I did own both the Haynes and Chiltons manuals, occasionally referring to all of them.

The point is, you really can't trust any source of information unless you've personally witnessed the accuracy of the information (i.e. it's your research, etc.) Information comes from imperfect humans, and you simply can't trust that 100% (if 10% in some cases). That's fundamental, not practical; if it turns out most of the info you research is accurate enough for your needs, which happens most of the time, you'll be okay for the most part.

Wikipedia is ultimately more helpful than it is harmful, but if you choose to use it for a single source of information where it's critical that the information be accurate, you HAVE to double check the info at least, if not simply use it to acquire other sources. Reason: There's no blaming Wikipedia and holding them responsible for your embarassing and possibly consequential mistake in your work.

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

gameforge (965493) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728222)

Hmm, I think I meant to reply to the parent poster, but was sidetracked by your true comment about Chiltons' manuals being mailcious and destructive. Sorry. :)

Glad I included the OP's text...

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728225)

Yes, as a matter of fact, I have, and here's the reason:

Chiltons likes to take multiple generations of the same model, as well as other models based on the same platform, and combine them all into one book. For example: 1984 - 1993 Chevy Cavalier, Pontiac Sunbird, and some form of Buick all were based on the same platform. During that time there was a body change, the move to fuel-injected engines, multiple engine changes, a transmission change for the models with automatic transmissions, not to mention all the various differences between the different brands and of course the differences based on options the car was purchased with. Chances are the procedure you find won't be correct for your car. You might be able to do all the steps in the procedure, but you won't end up with the same result because your particular car has a slightly different revision of the engine control unit, but there was no way to tell that because the Chiltons doesn't give you that much detail.

Now, they've gotten "better" about that in newer manuals. By leaving out HOW to do things. Remove Part Y. Except Part Y is blocked by parts T, U, V and W, but the manual says that you must leave parts V and X in place or you can't fix part Y. This way they're not telling you anything incorrect, they're just not telling you anything.

Re:Dangers of international content? (2, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728277)

When writing a program, you don't look up the meaning of a command in three sources do you? When wiring a house, you don't check three different copies of the electrical code. When working on your car, all you need is your Chilton's. Examples abound of routine daily use of single sources.

No - I don't use an encyclopedia for any of them, I would use a specialised source, perhaps using wikipedia/other encyclopedia to find out what that specialised source was. That was the mistake the guy we're discussing made - he should have used wikipedia to point him to a localization authority's page on language localisation. (not that I'm criticising him, heavy workload and all that).

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

Pink Tinkletini (978889) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728074)

It's no different to any other encyclopedia in that respect.
But do you really think an encyclopedia like Britannica would have had the same error? I doubt it.

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728158)

But do you really think an encyclopedia like Britannica would have had the same error?

You're right. You won't find a Catalan linguistic mistake in Brittanica. I wouldn't be so confidant about Dogon, Kwa, Gbe, Belarusian or Kalenjin though. Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728159)

As has been shown in the past, Britannica is chock full of errors, about as many as Wikipedia for the articles that were compared. And, who knows about the neutrality of Britannica's articles? They have "50 levels of fact checking" and yet they still leave glaring omissions and outright falsehoods; nobody has even begun to examine the neutrality of Britannica's articles.

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728192)

Care to prove any of those statements or is it just another Wikideadhead justifying the unjustifiable?

Re:Dangers of international content? (3, Funny)

Who235 (959706) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728284)

Well, it was in Wikipedia. . .

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728288)

Are you new to slashdot? Have you seen any of the past stories comparing Britannica and Wikipedia? The comparison done by the journal Nature, for one example. I'm not saying trust Wikipedia. I'm saying don't trust either source by themselves.

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

Pink Tinkletini (978889) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728224)

So I'm just as much at risk of seeing an offensive word instead of an accurate translation in Britannica as in Wikipedia? Somehow, I still don't think so.

Re:Dangers of international content? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15728099)

Exactly. *ANY* single source is a problem, which is why most people get worried if, for example, there is only one news media outlet in print or other media in a country, or if there is only one party in a democracy, or if there is only a single published paper on a particular scientific claim. The whole point of having multiple sources isn't that having multiple sources will make something magically infallible, but that it will be consistently less fallible than if you rely on a single source for information. People should look for and critically evaluate multiple sources for themselves.

Ironically, the fact that Wikipedia gets input from so many people is one of its strengths. The value of multiple sources is defeated, however, if people treat it as an endpoint of an investigation rather than the start.

Wikipedia, just like any other source, is always going to be subject to the possibility of a "my hovercraft is full of eels" [omniglot.com] Hungarian phrasebook [thisisawar.com] event. It is still a good starting point.

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728201)

Wikipedia is a useful starting point as it will contain pointers (or at least useful search terms) to begin looking for other items to reference. It's no different to any other encyclopedia in that respect.

Surely you don't use a single soruce for information for an important project?


How do I know its a useful starting point if I don't know whether anything its telling me is correct AND the publisher disavows all errors, vandalism, falsehoods and any responsibility?

Whoever wrote that its a "faith-based" encyclopedia is right.

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

fuzzy12345 (745891) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728268)

>> Why would I trust it as a starting point if I can't trust it as a source?

> You shouldn't trust any single source.

This is just crap. If I ask a cop for directions, should I ask another one, even if the first one seemed sure? Do you carry two companies maps of the same area in your car? Do slashdotters advise other slashdotters to consult two lawyers independently for legal advice? How many households own multiple dictionaries? How many people have the time to read two daily newspapers, or watch two channels' weather forecasts on TV?

Get bent! If a doc says you've got cancer and have six months, a second opinion is probably wise. But dog help me if I were to go through life double checking every supposed fact from supposed sources of information.

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

siriuskase (679431) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728020)

Why would I trust it as a starting point if I can't trust it as a source?

because it is convenient and mostly correct. Very few sources are 100% accurate. Especially something as large and comprehensive and open as Wikipedia.

The shame is that the DVD was already pressed before the translator who found the problem was able to see it. He should have sent out tapes or burned DVD's to the translators before pressing the batch for the wide release.

I do hope that this isn't the only thing we discuss about this film. He did a lot of interesting things such as the the Creative Commons licensing. Reading his blog, it seems his heart was in the right place, but he was rushed.

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728214)

Why would I trust it as a starting point if I can't trust it as a source?

because it is convenient and mostly correct.


But any propaganda from any extremist group is "mostly correct". It's the bits that aren't correct that bother me.

Very few sources are 100% accurate. Especially something as large and comprehensive and open as Wikipedia.

Maybe you should lookup the word "open" in a dictionary. It doesn't mean what you think it means. Also while you're looking, look up "scholarship". You won't find that on Wikipedia - just a million monkeys.

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

Zemran (3101) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728096)

All sources are opinion, fact is mearly an opinion. The problem with Wikipedia is working out whose and how accurate the opinion is. Of course it makes a good starting point from which to find other opinions and you can form your opinion from more reliable sources.

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

jdbartlett (941012) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728220)

Because every good Wikipedia article cites its references. Good references will have an ISBN or hyperlink attached. Those references can then be studied and judged on their own merit.

Suddenly, a lot more of your research paper has been done for you.

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728273)

The same way a police investigator might use the word of a known criminal as a lead to further investigation, rather than proof in and of itself.
And because you can actually background check any one wikipedia article quite a bit more than the afore mentioned known criminal.

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

stunt_penguin (906223) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727985)

It's a shame, too, as the Elephant's Dream project looks to be material put out under a Creative Commons licence; people are encouraged to remix and re-edit the content to the extent that the makers even provide a torrent of a lossless Ogg video file (in HD, too- yay!).

More of this sort of thing, I say!

I suspect that if this kind of thing happened to Sony or Univeral Studios or another Holywood outfit that this incedent would be a half-assed lawsuit before you could say 'wiki', probably featuring some kind of attempt to expose the person who edited the Wiki, and we'd be talking about how unfair that was.

As it stands, it's a useful warning for everyone out there to check official sources if there's money or a reputation at stake. It's also a warning to defacers of content that there is the potential for being targeted if you piss off the right people.

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727998)

It's also a warning to defacers of content that there is the potential for being targeted if you piss off the right people.

I doubt very much that defacing Wikipedia would make you responsible for the embarrasment or monetary losses suffered by people who took that information at face value and didn't bother to check it, even in Legalistic America.

But, just to be safe: I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. And, since I felt the need to say that, one might wonder if I believe in my own advice either...

Re:Dangers of international content? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15728084)

It suddenly dawns on me that Wikipedia strongly resembles the marketplace. Content taken at any one point in time, much like prices, do not reflect an accurate picture of the subject, much like the prices are not in equilibrium. Over time, however, the entries are highly accurate, just as prices tend to be in equilibrium.

It might, therefore, be useful to somehow distinguish between older and newer content, based on the assumption that older content is more accurate.

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728172)

Still, MS sometimes gets it right and gets slammed for it [com.com] by delusional governments with nothing better to do than to push their slighly optimistic opinion about who parts of the world are run by onto everyone who does business with them (yes, China and India, I'm talking about you, you don't own as much land as you say you do). Then you have Saudi Arabia who didn't like it when they heard the Koran in music so they banned a game (I'm sure not many Christians or Hindus liked "My Sweet Lord" by George Harrison but it's not illegal) they also banned a game because it insinuated that Muslims turn churches into mosques (lets just say that it's been a long time since the Haiga Sofia hosted a divine liturgy).

As much as I hate MS, it is nice to see a powerful company ruffling the feathers of a few governments that have until recently thought they can expel rationality from their shores by making declarations that 1+1=3 and laws to mandate it. I hope this "cultural insensitivity" continues.

Re:Dangers of international content? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728272)

Here's the basic rule of any encyclopedia (online or otherwise). They're starting points. They should never be considered final or definitive. Go to the literature if you want that.

Wikipedia grammar? (4, Funny)

thc69 (98798) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727938)

when we to heavily on Wikipedia

Nuff said.

Re:Wikipedia grammar? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15727983)

It got you too! That's a spelling mistake. :D

Taco's grammar? (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728021)

Well, no one would use Taco as an authority on grammar, or anything else, come to think of it.

Re:Wikipedia grammar? (4, Funny)

Sam H (3979) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728049)

Bad luck, you visited Slashdot the day it was vandalised.

Re:Wikipedia grammar? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728278)

Bad luck, you visited Slashdot the day it was vandalised.

You are right. The grammar is better than usual, so we should assume the vandals improved it.

It's naval slang (1)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728105)

It's actually a derivative of "heave to"...

Oops! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15727942)

"gives us pause for thought when we to heavily on Wikipedia"

You should be writing for Wikipedia ;)

Oops. (2, Funny)

CCFreak2K (930973) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727943)

I find this funny that it's right on the heels of the new release of Blender article. I believe the saying goes:

If you have an open mind, people will throw a lot of garbage into it.

Here's some vandalism (0, Redundant)

HotBlackDessiato (842220) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727945)

...but it gives us pause for thought when we to heavily on Wikipedia."
They're not vandalizing grammer nowadays, are they? Awe crap.

Re:Here's some vandalism (0, Redundant)

kbox (980541) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728002)

They're not vandalizing grammer nowadays, are they? Awe crap.

No, But they are vandalising spelling.. It's "grammar".

Slashdot is good for something (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727947)

We appear to have slashdotted the blog. Can we have more of these articles please?

And to stay remotely on topic - don't publish ANYTHING that you've obtained from ANYWHERE as a single source bit of information. Research. Research and re search again.

well... (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727954)

it doesn't seem like this is too bad a problem... still, it does show you I guess that Wikipedia can't always be trusted and maybe shouldn't be in a professional setting. Of course it might show that it is important to double check any source because nothing is infallible

All this really does (4, Informative)

also-rr (980579) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727956)

is show the importance of checking multiple sources, especially when you are relying on it for something important! However, I believe that Wikipedia is already looking at a stable version, in which a stable and unstable branch of the project are maintained with the unstable changes merged in reguarly. This would remove problems like this one, for the most part anyway.

Re:All this really does (1)

Ubergrendle (531719) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727972)

Mod parent up. Anyone versed in serious writing, be it journalism/english lit/history test/etc knows that you must validate your sources at a minimum of 2 times, preferably 3. When you have a sole source of knowledge, it must be identified as such.

Remember "All the President's Men"? Bernstein and Woodward did what CBS forgot to do w/ the supposed Bush service records -- validate with independent sources. When you don't you get burned, sooner or later.

Re:All this really does (1)

Bastian (66383) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728106)

I'd also like to see Wikipedia implement a feature where any text that has changed recently is somehow highlighted. That way any schmoe who browses through is at least being made aware that the content he's reading may currently be the subject of vandalism or an argument or something.

Is Wikipedia really wrong on this? (1)

9x320 (987156) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727962)

I ask because oddly the Catalan Wikipedia uses "català," and the English Wikipedia uses "català" on the sidebar to direct you to the Catalan equivalent of an article. I can't access the article because it's Slashdotted. Is it really wrong, and why?

Re:Is Wikipedia really wrong on this? (2, Informative)

Ghiblian (988750) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727981)

From reading the summary of the article, it appears "català" is the correct term. You misread the statement, which says "using an offensive word instead of 'Català'." I don't know if the article actually references the "offensive word" since MirrorDot appears to have cached the page while it was down...

Re:Is Wikipedia really wrong on this? (2, Informative)

9x320 (987156) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727986)

Oh, now I see! Darn old Slashdot linked to the wrong revision! Maybe they meant this one [wikipedia.org] where they used the word "Polaco" everywhere? It took eleven hours for it to be fixed in this [wikipedia.org] revision. I guess all the Wikipedians with this article on their watchlists were asleep at the wheel?

Re:Is Wikipedia really wrong on this? (1)

Tirs (195467) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728027)

Fixed? I fixed it myself, and your comment appears to be previous to mine! :-S

Re:Is Wikipedia really wrong on this? (1)

jo7hs2 (884069) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728094)

The current version still has the word spread around it.

Re:Is Wikipedia really wrong on this? (1)

9x320 (987156) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728102)

That's just because some idiots saw the Slashdot article and are trying to repeat the vandalism. It seems to have been removed again now. I'll keep a close eye on it.

Native speakers needed (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727971)

I have always believed that when you need something translated into a language you need to have a native speaker at least review what you have done. So many companies have screwed this up to the point that things like japanese/english is a standing joke.

If you are going to devote so much effort to producing a product (closed or open source), then why the hell do you piss around with half arsed guesses as to how to translate text?

On the other hand I did have an interesting time with a russian girl once. We were using a dictionary to converse by pointing at words and reading off our native langueages. The trouble was that I missed the context of "to like" which in the sense she was using it had elements of "to love". End result was that it cost me 8 hours, a bottle of champagne, chocolates and a taxi ride home for her ;-)

Re:Native speakers needed (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727991)

So many companies have screwed this up to the point that things like japanese/english is a standing joke.

While Engrish can be pretty amusing, English/English can be just as bad. By that, I mean that documentation and words written by native English speakers are often atrocious. For an example simply read the last sentence of the story submission.

Re:Native speakers needed (1)

despisethesun (880261) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728107)

This is very true. I post on a message board with a community that spreads across Europe (and North America), and it seems like the Germans, Spaniards, and Poles all use better grammar and spelling than most of the native English speakers on the board.

Re:Native speakers needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15728013)

We were using a dictionary to converse by pointing at words and reading off our native langueages.


That's exactly how I met my fiancee...

Re:Native speakers needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15728168)

It's not enough to just have a native speaker. You also have to have a speaker native to the country and culture being aimed at.
Microsoft famously screwed up a menu choice for a product in Latin America by using a word that meant bitch instead of woman in some Latin American countries.

However, the word is perfectly acceptable and normal as meaning woman when used in Spain.

Differences in how standard words are used occurs between countries even if they speak the same language (look at the slang word 'fanny' for an English example. It means a person's butt in Britain, but a woman's genitalia in America).

It can be very hard to get right. Even when you take all sensible precautions. Especially since slang changes over time. What might be acceptable today may not be acceptable in 3 years time, and your product is still in use.

Re:Native speakers needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15728235)

I can't understand how they could have had someone who knew the language well enough to provide subtitles, but couldn't have caught this mistake, or didn't know the answer to begin with to save them from having to go to Wikipedia for it.

Fact-checking and Wikipedia (2, Informative)

spiffyman (949476) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727982)

Frankly, Mr. Ebb should have known better. As a copy editor at what may be the most prestigious college paper [dailytexanonline.com] in the U.S., I can attest to Wikipedia's occasional (though not pervasive) errors. Because of these, I have a standing policy of referring to Wikipedia only for corroboration, not confirmation. Anyone who fact-checks - for a living or otherwise - should already have in mind things like source bias, credibility, etc.

Re:Fact-checking and Wikipedia (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728161)

Did you really just say that the paper you work for, The Daily Texan (University of Texas at Austin) "may be the most prestigious college paper in the U.S." and then go on to decry source bias and credibility???

Re:Fact-checking and Wikipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15728227)

Do you really believe everything you read on the Internet?

Re:Fact-checking and Wikipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15728230)

Thank you! I'm so sick of UT's elitism

Re:Fact-checking and Wikipedia (1)

spiffyman (949476) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728243)

Errr, touché. ;-)

But there are various facts to back up my claim, such as the caliber of many of our ex-staffers (Cronkite and Moyers are just two); our very high circulation (which I think is the highest in the country); and the fact that the major Texan dailies refer to us as "The Daily Texan" and not "the Daily Texan, student newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin," indicating some respect for the work we do.

Now, you may be referring to the fact that we have a reputation here as a liberal paper/city/university. Fair enough. But, you know, that's why you should keep source bias in mind.

is open content the real problem? (5, Insightful)

a10_es (579819) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727992)

I'm catalan. And I can say that lately there's been a lot of hatred against our nation pushed by some spanish political parties (Yet I don't to turn this into a political discussion). This problem appeared because of a vandalized entry in wikipedia, but could also have appeared if a person had modified the film or written it wrong from the start, so the problem here is not the reliance on open content, but the reliance on people's goodness, which in the open [content, source, ...] is mostly there, but can be displaced by some feelings, most of them learnt and fueled since childhood. But the same thing's been happening throughout the history. Surely if you looked on recognized encyclopedias some time ago, a lot of entries about slaves would be unaccpetable by today standards. The same happens over conquered soil after a war, when the losers become the vermin that had to be erradicated and the winners the saviors of the people (and usually end up being as bad as those they overthrew). And many other examples could be given. So the problem here is the open content or close-minded people?

I love Europe but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15728104)

it's these very old feuds between peoples that have absolutely no relevance in today's world that makes those folks look like a bunch of school kids. I mean, why are you folks hated by the Spanish? Is this hatred the result of them thinking that one of your ancient ancestors stole one of their ancient ancestor's sheep or kissed and "dishonored" one of their virginial (HA!) daughters?

It's like the Serbs and Croatians - WTF! they've been at each other's throats for a millenia. I tell ya, some folks need to get a grip.

Re:I love Europe but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15728186)

Take a look at wikipedia and see yourself.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catalonia [wikipedia.org]

WikiMapia and the potential for spying/stalking (1)

Rachel Lucid (964267) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728007)

I pondered a similar question when it came to marking schools on WikiMapia - Does the benefits to students/moms being able to pinpoint their child's school for their own mapping purposes justify the risk in pointing out these locations to potential paedos and other child predators?

I decided to take solace in the fact anyone that serious would have already mapped it themselves rather than depend on an open-source map ganked from Google in the first place.

Re:WikiMapia and the potential for spying/stalking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15728262)

Does the benefits to students/moms being able to pinpoint their child's school for their own mapping purposes justify the risk in pointing out these locations to potential paedos and other child predators?


Wow, that's one of the most stupid questions I've ever heard or read. Are schools hidden underground, where you live ? Someday people will remove children toys from their gardens, in order not to help "child predators" locate their preys.

That "offensive" again.... (0, Troll)

no-body (127863) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728014)

What is an "offensive" word/concept?

Some information contained in sounds (acoustic) or printed, some pixels on a screen - whatsover.

That input is then interpreted by the cybernetic matrix in an individuals brain and comes, with some collisions, marked with a label "offensive" out of the system possibly provoking an emotional/fanactic response in the human body.

Where is this matrix coming from? Instinct, early childhood conditioning, social patterning, ongoing education, successful repetition of behavioral patterns.

In essence, anyone blaming somebody else for "offensiveness" in words is trying to make the other responsible for the content of the own interpretation matrix.

Is the other responsible? Hardly.....

So, lay off that stupid blame game and grow up!

Re:That "offensive" again.... (1)

youknowmewell (754551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728048)

Yea, totally. I mean, what are humans anyway, besides bald monkeys? And what are bald monkeys? Just a bunch of skin, muscles and intestines wrapped around a skeleton full of blood and crap and other offensive smelling and tasting substances. And what are skin, muscles and intestines wrapped around a skeleton full of blood and crap and other offensive smelling and tasting substances? Just a bunch of protons, neutrons and electrons put together. Not only that, but those protons, neutrons and electrons have only two desires: consume and multiply. What a bunch of parasites!

So, lay off that stupid blame game and grow up you nasty sacks of blood and crap and start consuming and multiplying like you're suppose to!

Re:That "offensive" again.... (1)

rossifer (581396) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728177)

those protons, neutrons and electrons have only two desires: consume and multiply.
Not to rain on your erudite discussion on the nature of humanity, but sub-atomic particles (in their hadronic nature) neither desire anything nor have the ability to "consume" or to "multiply".

The "bald monkey" level of your taxonomy is the lowest level at which a desire might be meaningfully expressed. As this very mild correction does not interfere with your conclusive statement, please continue with the already established discussion.

Your Pardon,
Ross

Re:That "offensive" again.... (1)

Some Guy (21271) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728069)

Or, as a friend likes to say when some tells him they're offended by something:

"Why do you choose to be offended?"

Re:That "offensive" again.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15728112)

One of the funny things about people who are easily offended is that they also seem to believe that they themselves can do nothing anyone else might be offended by.

My favorite loathing is having to sit in a non-smoking environment and having to smell the floral perfume (note I don't mean a faint, subtle fragrance, I mean, sickly, sweetish, cloying, floral scent that smells as if I've had a bouquet of flowers shoved up my nose) that some woman has apparently been soaking in for several hours, knowing full well that if I were to light up a cigarrette, pipe, or heaven forbid, a cigar there'd be no end of squawking and whining about the awful stench and health risks I'd subjected them too.

Re:That "offensive" again.... (1)

EZLeeAmused (869996) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728270)

Your question was, What is an "offensive" word/concept? But your subsequent argument focused solely on why a word isn't intrinsically offensive. What you failed to address is the fact that words are the manifestation of an idea or an action or something. "Nazi" and "nigger" are just words. But if someone were to call me either of those, I would take offense at the word. Not because my upbringing has trained me to have a Pavlovian response to the phonemes, but because the ideas being expressed by the speaker are counter to my ethical and/or moral framework.

De-vandalized (3, Interesting)

Tirs (195467) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728016)

Just for your info, guys: I just visited the article and removed the offensive terms, also leaving a small explanative note about the term itself just in case someone hears it again knows what it is all about.

A_10_es: si et plau, dóna-li una ullada quan puguis, a veure si m'he deixat alguna cosa. Gràcies.
[A_10_es: please, give it an eyeball when you have a moment, to see if I forgot something. Thank you.]

That was a sample of Catalan language; will somebody give me a +1=Informative? ;-)

Not only offensive, but also misleading (1)

Tirs (195467) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728052)

By the way: the term is not only offensive to us Catalans: it is also confusing and misleading for everyonoe else, since the actual meaning of the word used is "Polish" (from Poland). Any person who does not know about all this might think that in the NorthEast part of the Iberian peninsula, Polish is actually spoken...

Re:De-vandalized (5, Interesting)

Tim the Gecko (745081) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728108)

Just for your info, guys: I just visited the article and removed the offensive terms, also leaving a small explanative note about the term itself just in case someone hears it again knows what it is all about.

You edited a version from April 7th and therefore you overwrote all the edits people have made over the last three months. You also managed to miss about 10 stray "Polacos" scattered through your old starting version of the article. The article was reverted and had no "Polacos" at all, but it now seems to have been reverted to your version again.
I hope you will have a long and happy relationship with Wikipedia, and get an account there

Re:De-vandalized (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15728189)

You bastard. You got coffee all over my keyboard.

Proofreading? (4, Insightful)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728022)

Isn't this more of a case study of not proofreading the final product rather than relying on an unreliable source? The list of names could have been emailed to all the translators first before finalizing the DVD.

Joeri and thousands of screaming fans here were rightfully pestering me to get it done as fast as possible,

I think I found the real problem.

Obligatory comment (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728031)

lol Pwned! :P

Been there, done that... (3, Insightful)

(H)elix1 (231155) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728033)

I do a fair bit of international coding. Problem is, I am not fluent in many of the languages I am building software. When putting together my language bundles, I always have someone do a quick walkthrough of the application who knows the language and context. You cannot count on software to give you a proper translation. Last year I was building some portlets for a French company. I added navigation and hit the fish to translate some of the finishing touches. I added a 'back' button - only to find the word I used was a person's back (not return to the previous step) in my i18n resource bundle.

How do they say - nothing is as permanent as that which was deemed temporary? Not uncommon for stuff like this to not get checked by QA.

Stability==delay (1)

mikelang (674146) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728050)

It would be much better if there would be agreed stable version for each Wikipedia entry, that would be marked as consensus over last three months - most of the vandalities are only occasional, so that stable version would be free of disturbance.

Amateur mistake. (2, Funny)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728062)

By now, everyone knows that research on spelling, regional colloquialisms, and obscure information is best (and most accurately) satisfied by a visit to MySpace. After all, it's the busiest destination on the web now, and millions of people can't be wrong.

Ohhps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15728064)

Looks like the last sentence of the post was vandalised.

danger of careless people (2, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728075)

This is no different than reading something anywhere and then quoting it as fact. The only difference is that wikipedia is not static, and so the errors can change from minute to minute. Therefore this is not a problem with open content, but a problem with dynamic open content.

All of this can be easily solved by fact checking before the distribution of a static content.

I do understand the problem. I can be careless. But when I am I do not blame my carelessness on someone else.

Vandalism isn't just one day (1, Troll)

br00tus (528477) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728076)

Remember that the Seigenthaler article was tehre for weeks and months. So forget the idea that it's just that people might come across the article on the minute or hour that it had a vandalized version.

For example, the FSLN [wikipedia.org] article has an introduction, and then begins "The FSLN was formally organised in 1961 by recent KGB recruits Carlos Fonseca Amador, Tomás Borge Martínez and Silvio Mayorga." The rest of the article goes on in that sort of tone. I don't know how many people in the world think the main purpose of the FSLN was to establish a satellite of the USSR "two days driving time from Harlingen, Texas", but obviously that is what is considered in this article. Most educated, professional people (at least those outside the US anyhow) in the world would consider this article laughable, and certainly not encylopedic. Microsoft and Encarta, or Encyclopedia Britannica, are not exactly FSLN boosters, but their articles are not silly like this.

This is just one example of many. There is a response that "anyone can edit" and that anyone can just go in and fix it, but that is simply not true. Anyone who edits this article would be descended on by one or more people who believe that, to quote from the article "During the following three years the KGB handpicked several dozen Sandinistas for intelligence and sabotage operation in the United States. In 1966, this KGB-controlled Sandinista sabotage and intelligence group was sent to the U.S.-Mexican border" (you see, the FSLN had nothing to do with conditions in Nicaragua, since the world revolves around the U.S.). So one would waste time on a stalemate for weeks, and ultimately, the admins and ArbCom would back those people up. Once upon a time there were admins or experienced users who would have helped someone tackle this page, but they have been driven off. Jimbo Wales political sympathies have been stated in the past (he ran the Ayn Rand list for years, to give you a clue), and the one appointee to the ArbCom (who he appointed twice, since he couldn't get elected) seemed to be picked only because he edits with a Zionist point of view, he's editing the Lebanon pages currently. Editors with a different political point of view are driven off. The Wikipedia partisans say on Wikipedia there are only "trolls" and "good users" or whatever, but this is more their almost cult-like Manicheanism then reality. The "Criticism of Wikipedia" page forbids links to pages critical of Wikipedia like Wikipedia Review. If Wikipedia is so "open", why do Arbitration Committee members zealously defend the "Criticism of Wikipedia" page from links to a forum of people critical of Wikipedia? Like many others, I have given up on Wikipedia. Unlike most people who grew tired of Wikipedia's nonsense, I continue to edit on alternative wiki encyclopedias. I also post to Wikipedia Review as well.

Part of the issue is the name (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728085)

The name ending in -pedia has the inherent danger of legitimizing the content therein.

If wikipedia was to be renamed "Jimmy's Big Bumper Box of Trivia, Factoids, Lies, Rants, Memes and Cock and Bull Stories" (or something more serious, perhaps)it might give more of an accurate picture of the integrity of some of the data.

Out of curiosity does anyone have a figure for the number of wikipedia pages that have a panel questioning the veracity of the data, or neutrality of the same? It seems to be about one in every 2 or 3 that I visit. I don't know whether this is a quality of submission issue or a overzealotry of moderation issue, or (most likely) a bit of both.

I regularly use and do enjoy wikipedia as a source for trivial information, but I am concerned that people take it far too seriously as a source for important data. I guess most folks on /. have been to University and can be discerning over data, but most people in the World haven't been there and they might be more inclined to trust information that just looks correct.

People trust encyclopedias, if the name was changed this might be less of an issue.

Re:What's in a name? (1)

Zaphod2016 (971897) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728131)

It's only noon-ish, and already I've spotted quite a few lies today. One was in a blog article I just read. Another in the paper. Yet another on "Meet the Press" on the TV. All of these sources promise me credible information, yet none claim to be a "pedia".

One source makes a rumor, two sources make a theory. Fact, on the other hand, is more often than not a matter of perspective.

Re:Part of the issue is the name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15728135)

"Out of curiosity does anyone have a figure for the number of wikipedia pages that have a panel questioning the veracity of the data, or neutrality of the same? It seems to be about one in every 2 or 3 that I visit. I don't know whether this is a quality of submission issue or a overzealotry of moderation issue, or (most likely) a bit of both."

The more, the better. The more pages that are actively being debated by multiple people over the neutrality/accuracy of the article, the less open it is to vandalism, and the more likely the article is to actually reach a quality state in the near future. I'd be more willing to trust an article that has an active talk page than one with a red link for a talk page. Now, show me the neutrality/accuracy tags in Britannica's articles. Oh, nothing there? I guess they must assume that their "50 levels of fact checking" will result in neutral and accurate final articles that needs no further examination (at least for some years).

Re:Part of the issue is the name (1)

E++99 (880734) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728258)

Out of curiosity does anyone have a figure for the number of wikipedia pages that have a panel questioning the veracity of the data, or neutrality of the same? It seems to be about one in every 2 or 3 that I visit. I don't know whether this is a quality of submission issue or a overzealotry of moderation issue, or (most likely) a bit of both.
Or maybe that's the proper state for any information coming from a human source. That's the problem with the Old Media that we're in process of the overcoming. That the Encyclopedia tells the world "I'm the Encyclopedia, and everything I say is from a neutral perspective and is completely true," or that CNN news tells the world, "I'm CNN News, and everything I say is from a neutral perspective and is completely true," and the scattered individuals who relize, "wait a minute, that is really biased," or "hey, that is patently untrue," say so in the privacy of their own homes, and no one else benefits from that realization.

I don't find Wikipedia entries to have any more neutrality problems than "real" encyclopedia entries, but when there is a problem, "real" encyclopedias have no good mechanism for finding it, alerting people to it, and fixing it.

Scoff at Seigenthaler? (3, Informative)

Wordsmith (183749) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728087)

Why scoff at Seigenthaler? I met the man a few months ago, and we discussed his history with Wikipedia. He was very level-headed and reasonable about the whole thing. He acknowledged it's an interesting social experiment, but was very worried for what it can do to the reputations of good people if taken seriously as an information source.

It's worth noting that Seigenthaler DID eventually track down the malicious poster. Seigenthaler's an adamant free-speech advocate (and a head-honcho muckety-muck at the First Amendment Center), with an extreme distaste for libel and slander laws - he'd rather see lies and mischaracterizations flushed out through the marketplace of ideas. So he didn't sue, but he did go on TV and demand an apology from the malicious poster. That seems like a reasonable thing to me; the poster embarrassed Seigenthaler through his lies, and Seigenthaler embarrassed the poster through a demand for truth.

Seigenthaler also told me that when the poster's boss threatened to fire the poster, Seigenthaler called and asked the boss not to; he said the matter was settled was the truth was on the record.

He said the incident pushed and strained his belief in the marketplace of ideas, and that he was awfully tempted to go ahead with a libel suit. I'm glad ultimately he stayed true to his core values.

Yes,but......... (1)

flyneye (84093) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728114)

Meanwhile the Aerocephalic spirit of well know Catalan Salvador Dali morphs in his grave from lack of furniture nutrition.
Scoff all you like........

Authors and Authority (3, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728130)

The problem is not "open content", Wikipedia, or vandals. The problem is people who rely on a single unaccountable source for any knowledge. That is a recipe for failure.

This has also been the problem with "authoritative" sources, like the Encyclopedia Britannica, NY Times or White House Spokesman. Those sources are highly managed, consciously or unconsciously, so they don't usually go as obviously haywire. Instead they mislead to usually workable misconceptions. In the service of the writer/speaker or the organization that produces/publishes them.

Now that the world is finally filling with lots of smalltime publishers, as publishing has become so cheap, easy and scaleable, we're all seeing the limits of sources. So we all must learn what the past publishers learn: power of the press belongs to people with presses, and power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. The only way to handle the corruption is to match power against power, cross-reference information from independent (of each other) sources.

Wikipedia will be even better when it includes an independent "fact checking" feature, like automated Google/Yahoo/MSN searching of citations. Until then, its superior power to managed press is just raw power that requires users to do that for ourselves.

Quickie Mart (2, Insightful)

Joebert (946227) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728181)

Why aren't changes highlighted, or otherwise made glowing neon fucking {INSERT COLO[U]R HERE} for the first X days after the change is made ?

apologize, repair, move on (2, Insightful)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728210)

Seriously, you got caught in some asshole's juvenile prank. Defacing a public resource (wikipedia) to reflect an immature joke at the expense of the next person to use that resource.

    So apologise, repair the mistake, and move on. Just because some jerk doesn't understand the usefullness of an open source public resource doesn't change the utility of that resource. And anyone who is 'offended' by the prank needs to understand this. This is like sueing the streetcar company for racism because some pissant spray-painted a racist remark on a streetcar. The correct response is to find the person responsible if possible, and if not, then to teach your own children why civilized people don't do such things.

Use more than one source (1)

Easy2RememberNick (179395) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728211)

"... it gives us pause for thought when we to heavily on Wikipedia."

  If someone uses only one source for their information they deserve what they get!

  The fact the page was vandalized on one day doesn't mean Wikipedia is inferior either, it would have been corrected. One error doesn't mean the end of the World.

Re:Use more than one source (1)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728234)

One error doesn't mean the end of the World.

It will only take one last error.

Be more careful (1)

Neph (5010) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728221)

An interesting tidbit: Not that I'm trying to place blame here, but if Mr. Ebb had been really careful, he would've noticed an inconsistency in the defaced Wikipedia page: The correct term, "Català", had been replaced with "Polaco" (whatever that means). However, if you look at the "in other languages" box at the left hand side, you'll notice that the cross-reference to the catalan Wikipedia site still points to the correct term, "Català".

From what I've seen, Wikipedia vandalism is almost always very blatant. And even in more subtle cases like this one, you can find evidence of the defacement even when you don't know much about the subject matter to begin with.

Unfortunately, when consulting Wikipedia you *have* to be alert and watch for this sort of thing. That doesn't make it any less of an invaluable resource however. Plus, as others have pointed out, it's generally a mistake to rely on any single source exclusively... although I'll admit that in the case of a quick lookup for a translation like this one, it's hard to sustain that kind of diligence.

Oh no! Don't rely on it! (1)

fuzzy12345 (745891) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728246)

When I use a dictionary, I use it as a source, not a starting point. Most peoples' use of encyclopaedias is as a reference, not a starting point. I agree that senior or college students writing theses or essays would be well advised to look further than one encyclopaedia entry, but for the vast majority of uses, most people want to go to one place and find the answer, AND THAT'S WHAT ENCYCLOPAEDIAS WERE DESIGNED FOR!

Alas, I see Wikipaedia as the strange case of the mediocre being the enemy of the good. It (and the 'net in general) is killing off the other mass-market compilations of information, and the quality will never be as good, for fundamentally structural reasons.

great design for *starting* an encyclopedia (4, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728266)

This is a good example of a more general problem with WP, which is that the design was optimized for getting an encyclopedia off the ground initially, not for maintaining it in the long-term. It's analogous to an internet startup company that kludges up their software real quick using Visual Basic code, lots of gotos, and no comments; what they care about is getting it working initially, so they can make their IPO.

A lot of people don't realize that WP's design emerged after an initial period of uncertainty and experimentation over what model to use. There were alternative models, like Nupedia's [wikipedia.org] , but they failed mainly because they were too cumbersome for new writers to get involved in.

My experience as a WP editor over the last few years has been that in the early stages, both the number and quality of the articles improved rapidly, but that within the last year or so, there have started to be severe quality problems. In the early stages, the problems came from not having enough users. For instance, the early versions of the article on astrology were ridiculously credulous, and when I tried to make it more balanced, I couldn't make any progress, because there were only roughly three of us working on the article, and the other two were true believers. I gave up on the article, but when I came back and looked at it again in a couple of years, the problem had been pretty well corrected, presumably because the continuing influx of new users made it impossible for a couple of fanatical true believers to continue using the article to push their POV.

But recently, there's the opposite problem. There are so many people editing WP that it's become virtually impossible to keep a good article good. It's an interesting exercise to look at an article that became a featured article, say, a year ago, and compare its quality then with its quality now. In most cases, you'll find that it's gotten worse because of lots of random, uncoordinated edits by people who may have a POV to push, or who may just not be very knowledgeable.

WP's design is an exteme design, going about as far as it's possible to go toward openness and ease of use. I don't think that design is working at this stage in WP's evolution, which is why I've mostly stopped editing on WP.

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