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 Wars -- Lake Express Ferry

CmdrTaco posted about 8 years ago | from the go-jump-in-the-lake dept.

176

vhfer writes "Wikipedia Warfare has become the latest tool in the battle between rival lake transport systems. The Lake Express Ferry, which links Milwaukee and Michigan, bypasses Chicago traffic. The competing SS Badger runs from Manitowoc, an hour North of Milwaukee, to Ludington, Michigan. The article in the Milwaukee Journal details efforts by SS Badger supporters to highlight some of the delays and problems experienced by the Lake Express, in an apparent effort to divert some traffic to the Badger. Numerous edits to the article added links to news articles critical of the Lake Express, and some derided presidential candidate John Kerry's 2004 ride and the political value of it. The operators of the SS Badger deny responsibility for all the postings, and also say they aren't Internet savvy enough to alter a Wikipedia article."

cancel ×

176 comments

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

I don't think Lake Transport Systems should worry (5, Funny)

w33t (978574) | about 8 years ago | (#15995321)

After all, it seems that Wikipedia readers are more interested in much different topics [wikimedia.de] anyhow.

Re:I don't think Lake Transport Systems should wor (4, Funny)

dgatwood (11270) | about 8 years ago | (#15995398)

May I just be the first to say:

Badgers? We don't need no steeenking badgers!

Someone had to. (1)

vhfer (643140) | about 8 years ago | (#15995508)

Someone had to say that. ;-) It was inevitable. I'm only surprised at the number of posts that preceeded yours.

Pirates motto: Always be who ya arrrrr.

Re:I don't think Lake Transport Systems should wor (1)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | about 8 years ago | (#15995546)

We don't need no steeenking badgers!
Not even if they run Linux? [strangehorizons.com]

Badger Badger Badger (3, Funny)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | about 8 years ago | (#15995677)

Mushroom

Re:Badger Badger Badger (1)

Bravoc (771258) | about 8 years ago | (#15995866)

I'll see your "Badger Badger Badger Monkey", and raise you a "Llama Llama Duck"!

Re:Mushroom (2, Funny)

ThrasherTT (87841) | about 8 years ago | (#15995895)

Snake!

Re:Mushroom (3, Funny)

WilliamSChips (793741) | about 8 years ago | (#15995999)

On a plane!

Re:I don't think Lake Transport Systems should wor (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15995426)

What's wikipedia got that slashdot hasn't?

21. Adolf Hitler
22. Masturbation
23. Vince Papale
24. Human sexuality
25. C programming language

Vince Papale, that's what!

Re:I don't think Lake Transport Systems should wor (1)

RsG (809189) | about 8 years ago | (#15996099)

I find it distubing and hilarious that Anal Sex rates above Ghandi, but below Jedi (check for yourself, that's how they're ranked)....

George W. Bush: Criminal +1, Informative (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15995556)



Wanted For Crimes Against Humanity And The Planet [whitehoue.org] ..

Considered to be nuclear armed and dangerous. Do not approach.
Contact your local police station.

See also Rumseld, Donald; Cheney, Richard B.; Rice, Condolsleeza; Powell, Colin; and Rove, Karl

Sincerely,
Kilgore Trout

Re:I don't think Lake Transport Systems should wor (3, Informative)

redmerlin (560307) | about 8 years ago | (#15995618)

The first and last time I was on the Lake Express it got a mile from shore one of the engines failed and they had to turn back. 2 hours wasted and I still had to drive through Chicago.....it can sink for all I care.

Re:I don't think Lake Transport Systems should wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15995975)

Damn, I though I'd see an increase in interest for "do nig*ers have xray vision".

Re:I don't think Lake Transport Systems should wor (1)

Vexorian (959249) | about 8 years ago | (#15996102)

Hey, but you could say the same about the whole internet user population.

O Wikipedia, (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15995326)

O Wikipedia, what hast thou wrought?

What a defense! (2, Insightful)

crazyjeremy (857410) | about 8 years ago | (#15995336)

I find a good way to defend myself is to deny I have the ability to use a wiki.

If these guys say they aren't intelligent enough to edit an entry in wikipedia, why should we trust them to run a ferry?

Re:What a defense! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15995361)

You confuse "intelligent" with "computer savvy."

A ferry operator has a different skillset than you. They might not even be interested in learning how to use Wikipedia.

Re:What a defense! (-1, Offtopic)

jagilbertvt (447707) | about 8 years ago | (#15995438)

Exactly what I was going to say, but you said it for me. Too bad I have no mod points. Talk about flamebait.

Re:What a defense! (3, Insightful)

qortra (591818) | about 8 years ago | (#15995545)

They might not even be interested in learning how to use Wikipedia.

I'd bet they are now.

Moreover, the whole point of Wikipedia was to be accessible to a variety of different kinds of people in order to encourage people with various skillsets to contribute. Clearly [wikipedia.org] , some people that know how to use wikipedia know a great deal about ferries.

Consider that computers these days are becoming all purpose tools. While many slashdot visitors are not exactly savvy in the culinary arts, I would guess that most of us can use a fork pretty well. That is because the fork has become a tool that is useful to the general population. Wikipedia is such a tool (though far less ubiquitous, and somewhat less useful).

I realize that these ferry operators are not the right generation for such a skill and they ought to be given a significant amount of latitude for such a limitation; however, let's just say that if, in 25 years, a 50 year old ferry operator gave the same excuse, I would be a little concerned.

Re:What a defense! (4, Funny)

soft_guy (534437) | about 8 years ago | (#15995654)

While many slashdot visitors are not exactly savvy in the culinary arts, I would guess that most of us can use a fork pretty well.

Sure we know how to use fork! It is easy - it doesn't even take any arguments.

Re:What a defense! (3, Funny)

Digital Vomit (891734) | about 8 years ago | (#15995735)

Consider that computers these days are becoming all purpose tools. While many slashdot visitors are not exactly savvy in the culinary arts, I would guess that most of us can use a fork pretty well. That is because the fork has become a tool that is useful to the general population. Wikipedia is such a tool (though far less ubiquitous, and somewhat less useful).

Did you just equate computer usability with the usability of a fork?!

Re:What a defense! (4, Funny)

MustardMan (52102) | about 8 years ago | (#15995815)

Yeah... a better example would be a doorbell. Especially if you're a mac user.

Re:What a defense! (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | about 8 years ago | (#15995924)

But can you competently use chopsticks?

Re:What a defense! (1)

kthejoker (931838) | about 8 years ago | (#15995931)

Isn't that the point of the GP? That Wikipedia isn't a fork?

And I'd be surprised if it was a fork in 25 years. The Internet, maybe; but if you ask 100 people in 25 years, "Do you know how to edit a Wikipedia article?" I guarantee half will look at you with confusion and despair.

Re:What a defense! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15996035)

Well then, maybe you should ask 200 people instead.

Re:What a defense! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15995471)

the same reason we assume you know how to edit a wiki

you've gone through the process to learn how

These guys have learned how to drive a ferry, and if the article summary (including their defense) holds true, they are better at it than their counterparts. You have learned how to edit a wiki, and therefore we trust you with wikipedia.

Notice, their defense was "we don't (currently) know how to edit a wiki" did not say "we won't ever be able to figure out how to edit a wiki"

Re:What a defense! (1)

Random832 (694525) | about 8 years ago | (#15995582)

You have learned how to edit a wiki, and therefore we trust you with wikipedia.

Sad? maybe.

True? yes.

Re:What a defense! (2, Interesting)

ajs (35943) | about 8 years ago | (#15995840)

True? Not exactly. Trust is too strong a term to use.

We welcome you to make changes to Wikipedia, just like the rest of the world. We do this in order to gain access to knowledge that no one body of editors has ever had, and to document the breadth of human experience.

Does this mean that we trust that what you type is either true or encyclopedic? No, we do not, but that trust can be built up or destroyed over time, and is a rather self-regulating process ("self" regulating in the sense that some fraction of contributors feel more comfortable contributing their time to police such problems).

Re:What a defense! (3, Insightful)

parliboy (233658) | about 8 years ago | (#15995475)

Can you run a ferry? If not, should I trust you to run a computer?

Re:What a defense! (1)

soft_guy (534437) | about 8 years ago | (#15995671)

In related news, a drunken Slashdotter runs aground causing the premature deaths of many "in Soviet Russia" jokes.

Re:What a defense! (1)

MBCook (132727) | about 8 years ago | (#15995851)

Fair enough, but while running a ferry is hard (and requires training becuase it can be physically dangerous to yourself and passengers) pressing the edit button on Wikipedia isn't.

Besides, are you telling me that no one at that company has a kid "smart enough" to edit Wikipedia even if the adult didn't know how? I know how this would work in my house. "Hey, how do I edit this Wikitingjinary"? All of a sudden, look, they are editing.

The challenge level to the average person who knows nothing about either is not equal. Wikipedia is easier, especially with children around to show you how.

Re:What a defense! (1, Insightful)

superstick58 (809423) | about 8 years ago | (#15995476)

I guess we can trust them to run a ferry in the same way that you can trust me to accurately post to a slashdot article yet I have no clue on how to operate a high speed ferry that runs across lake michigan.

Re:What a defense! (1)

ConsumerOfMany (942944) | about 8 years ago | (#15995630)

yet I have no clue on how to operate a high speed ferry that runs across lake michigan.

Cant you can just read a wiki to learn how.......

Re:What a defense! (1)

Frymaster (171343) | about 8 years ago | (#15995977)

I guess we can trust them to run a ferry in the same way that you can trust me to accurately post to a slashdot article yet I have no clue on how to operate a high speed ferry that runs across lake michigan

holy straw man batman!

  • wikipedia comes with help pages and tutorials. ferry's rarely do
  • wikipedia mistakes can be undone. ferry mistakes can't
  • wikipedia is accessible for everyone to operate. ferry's aren't
  • wikipedia mistakes are non fatal. sometimes ferry mistakes aren't. sometimes.
  • virtually everyone has a computer in the their home or free access to one. ferrys are less accessible
all of this leads to a climate that encourages experimentation and learning on wikipedia and discourages it for ferrys. to equate the two is disengenious. if you want a mode of transport to compare to editing wikipedia, i'd suggest choosing driving a car.

Re:What a defense! (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 8 years ago | (#15995524)

vIf these guys say they aren't intelligent enough to edit an entry in wikipedia, why should we trust them to run a ferry?

For the same reason I trust welders, plumbers, electricians and the like to do their job and not necessarily expect them to either know what wiki is, or know how to edit an entry on it.

We simply don't need everyone in the world to be able to do tech things. They could be exceedingly good at what they do. Not knowing how to edit on wiki is not a mark of intelligence, it's a mark of how much you understand web technologies.

Despite it's popularity, the web is not the be all and end all of how the world works.

Cheers

Re:What a defense! (0, Offtopic)

MrMarket (983874) | about 8 years ago | (#15995741)

I would hope that at least the plumbers would know how all those tubes on the internets work.

Re:What a defense! (1)

prichardson (603676) | about 8 years ago | (#15995884)

Once someone knows how to browse the internet, anyone with any amount of intelligence can figure out how to edit a wiki. Were you taught how to edit a wiki? I certainly hope not. I figured it out in half a second, and I would trust anyone who can browse the internet to figure it out in less than a minute unless they're severely disabled. Wikipedia is peppered with edit buttons; they're not hard to find. As a last resort, a ferry operator could always ask someone how to edit wikipedia. So not only does this person lack any computer skills, they lack communication skills or any problem solving skills.

Lastly, anyone who uses their own ignorance as an argument is someone to be avoided.

Re:What a defense! (1)

Helios1182 (629010) | about 8 years ago | (#15995923)

Perhaps they are just the type of person that doesn't care about Wikipedia?

Re:What a defense! (4, Insightful)

crozell (872334) | about 8 years ago | (#15995956)

Once someone knows how to browse the internet, anyone with any amount of intelligence can figure out how to edit a wiki.

Wow...simply not true. I know it might surprise the demographic who reads slashdot, but there are still lots of people out there who are very uncomfortable with using computers to do anything. They aren't stupid - they probably have many skills that us computer-literate folk would have a very hard time acquiring. But, they may just barely understand the concept using a computer to browse the web withoug feeling like they can figure out how to edit a webpage. The internet (and most things technology) are viewed as a giant mystery to some people - they are happy to use it, but the thought of being able to edit or contribute is just foreign.

Lastly, anyone who uses their own ignorance as an argument is someone to be avoided.

I agree with your point that anyone could find someone to help edit a page if they didn't want to do it themselves. But, I find it ironic that so many people here were venomous toward the RIAA for going after grandmothers who "obviously" didn't know enough to download music, but are happy to vilify the people playing the "ignorant" card when the issue at hand doesn't isn't something slashdot can rally behind.

Re:What a defense! (2, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about 8 years ago | (#15996112)

Once someone knows how to browse the internet, anyone with any amount of intelligence can figure out how to edit a wiki.

Mostly true, but, as I said, what is to say that any of the ferry operators can do more than the most basic of web surfing if at all? What is to say that even if they know about wikipedia? Like I said, a lot of smart people simply do NOT use 'teh internets', nor do they care to. Doesn't make them dumb, it makes them either uninterested, or uninformed, or simply unaware. They may be excellent business people, ferry operators, or whatever. There simply may be no knowledge on their behalf about this wiki-thingy, or what an edit war is for that matter.

So not only does this person lack any computer skills, they lack communication skills or any problem solving skills.

Wow. What an arrogant position -- since any monkey can use the web, any and all monkeys should have figured out all of the corners of the internet, those that haven't are somehow lacking in some skills. Not having the requisite skills/interest in knowing wiki exists does not in any way cause one to infer lack of communications skills. It's simply an untrue position, and a bad leap in logic. They may, for example, have enough communications skills not to assume that everyone knows what they do, and that anyone who doesn't must be a big doody head. I mean, really, cue the neener neener's.

Lastly, anyone who uses their own ignorance as an argument is someone to be avoided.

Well, they basically said they weren't web-savvy enough to have gotten into an edit war on Wikipedia, and that they had no knowledge that such an edit war existed.

If someone in another city gets into an argument with someone I don't know about an issue which somehow relates to me (my website, my employer, my bad taste in clothes ;-) am I somehow expected to a) know it happened, b) be accountable/blameable for the fact that it happened, and c) be able to mediate it? I would sure as hell hope not.

Ignorance of the law may be no defence. Ignorance of something which you've never heard of is a perfectly normal state of existence. They're not saying "why, we're just so stupid there is no way we could have done that" ... they're saying "I have no idea what you're talking about, so why are you blaming me for having done it?".

I simply fail to understand the default position ere on Slashdot that anyone who may not know all of the details about our little minor corner of the world is somehow an friggin' idiot.

Cheers

Re:What a defense! (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | about 8 years ago | (#15995974)

very true, and while editing a wiki might seem like a very simple task to us here at /. It really hasn't taken off in full force for most internet users never mind ferryboat operators.

I'm a head moderator over on Xbox-Scene, after getting tired of editing out of date FAQs and tutorial topics I decided to start a wiki for console modding. For about the first 6 months the site was up I was the only contributer, not because I couldn't find anyone who wanted to contribute, but because most of the people interested just couldn't figure it out, and or were too lazy to try. Most of the people I contacted (who had written various FAQs and how-tos) didn't even know what a wiki was never mind knew how to use one and only about half of them had even heard of wikipedia before when I brought it up as an example.

I think the GP overestimates the typical internet user's understanding of wikis and _grossly_ overestimates the understanding by the typical ferryboat operator or other non net-savvy person.

Re:What a defense! (1)

orasio (188021) | about 8 years ago | (#15995727)

"I couldn't have poisoned his filet mignon, your honor, I just can't cook!"

Lame excuse.

Re:What a defense! (1)

UberHoser (868520) | about 8 years ago | (#15995986)

My brother is a very skilled welder by trade. He has troubles turning the pc on to send a email. His son knows how to use the internet and Wiki etc.. Therefore I believe that the entries were made by families (kids etc) of the crew of the ss badger. and yes... BADGERS !!! BADGERS !!!! We don't need no stinking Badgers !!!!!!!!

Re:What a defense! (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 8 years ago | (#15996106)

"If these guys say they aren't intelligent enough to edit an entry in wikipedia, why should we trust them to run a ferry?"

You'd trust a barber who didn't know how to cut & paste to cut you're hair, right?

Has Colbert done a show on car ferries recently? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15995342)

No text :-)

This article wouldn't be complete ... (5, Interesting)

GillBates0 (664202) | about 8 years ago | (#15995352)

...without a link to the Lamest Edit Wars in Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] .

Re:This article wouldn't be complete ... (4, Funny)

amazon10x (737466) | about 8 years ago | (#15995443)

Who wants to get in an edit war with me at the Edit war [wikipedia.org] article. Then we can create an article called "Meta edit war" and get in a fight over whether that is a neologism! Ah, the wonders of Wikipedia...

Re:This article wouldn't be complete ... (1)

Faylone (880739) | about 8 years ago | (#15995929)

Been tried! Scroll down the bottom of the page at GP's link to "Meta Lameness"

Re:This article wouldn't be complete ... (1)

Senzei (791599) | about 8 years ago | (#15996043)

Which means we need to get in a Meta-Meta edit war about the pros and cons of various criticisms of edit wars. That and someone needs to get into the wikipedia page and fix the link to recursion so it links directly to itself.

Re:This article wouldn't be complete ... (1)

nasch (598556) | about 8 years ago | (#15996180)

I wish I could edit your post, because there's already *been* an edit war about the contents of the edit war page (by definition lame) as you can see from the "Meta lameness" section of the linked article.

Re:This article wouldn't be complete ... (3, Funny)

moonbender (547943) | about 8 years ago | (#15995625)

Hilarious! Thanks for the link. My favorite after a minute of skimming:

Potato chips
Should potato chips be flavored or flavoured? What is the provenance of the potato chip, America or Ireland? Four-user revert war on these important issues results in the page getting protected and listed on RfC. As a compromise, the chips become seasoned.

As Slashdot readers we're aware (1, Insightful)

From A Far Away Land (930780) | about 8 years ago | (#15995353)

As Slashdot readers we're aware that when people new to online communication find they can publish anything to the world, they can be like little kids in candy stores. With no parents for supervision, they'll pick a little of this and that, and when caught with a mouthfull by the store owner, will mumble a denial.

Wikipedia gives that kind of power to people unexperienced with digital media attention, and depending on the personality, they may be naive, or malicious.

Anime? (5, Funny)

LukeyJunk (620483) | about 8 years ago | (#15995356)

Is it just me, or does the headline sound like the title of a bad Anime?

It has been explained in simple terms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15995359)

The operators of the SS Badger deny responsibility for all the postings, and also say they aren't Internet savvy enough to alter a Wikipedia article.

If they aren't savvy enough, then they obviously don't watch Colbert

Slow news day? (1)

.Spyder78. (453998) | about 8 years ago | (#15995364)

Just curious :)

Re:Slow news day? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15995396)

"Slow News Day" would be a Slashdot entry about "Slashdot Wars"

T'warn't Me What Done It (3, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 years ago | (#15995372)

Ah! The memories. When I was but a tad my dad would take the family in the stationwagon from Midland to Minneapolis, via Ludington to Manitowoc (famous now for aluminium cookware) on the C & O ferries. The SS Badger [wikipedia.org] may hark from those days, it looks like it does. Back then there was a lot of traffic across the lake from Wisconsin, where automobile furniture (seats) and body parts were transported to Detroit with the assistance of several of these large boats which could hold several rail cars in their holds. They'd also take on automobiles and passengers for a nominal fee. They ran like clockwork, regardless of the weather and crossings in poor considtions could be the kind you spent clutching a paper bucket. I found chewing gum helped.

Nice to see they still run them. If the weather's fair I would consider a drive to Ludington (or Manitowoc) just for the ride. Ludington's a nice place to visit and camp.

Re:T'warn't Me What Done It (1)

vhfer (643140) | about 8 years ago | (#15995440)

We also used to ride the free ferry at Merrimac, across the Wisconsin River. Great fun. I think my dad only did it because we pestered him about every time we were in the area. It was 45 miles out of the way of our route home from "up north."

Re:T'warn't Me What Done It (3, Interesting)

crozell (872334) | about 8 years ago | (#15995667)

Yup...the Badger was one of the C&O ferries, built in the early 1950's. When C&O finally sold off the ferries another company (MWT I think) ran them primarily as freight ships for a while before they finally had to shut them down. It just wasn't profitable after it became so easy to get rail traffic through Chicago and when maintenance costs for the ferries increased with their age. The boats sat idle for a while before a businessman invested a bunch of money to refurbish one ship (the Badger) as primarily a passenger ship in the early 1990's. It is still a coal-fired steam ship (reciprocating, not turbines)....really interesting both historically and mechanically. I know TFA was about the wikipedia war, but the underlying political debate that started the ill-will between these companies is also really interesting and doesn't get mentioned much in the linked articles or the wikipedia entries.

Whatever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15995379)

The fact is that this eventually will lose the interest of the concerned parties, and at that point someone will come up and clean up the article. And before anyone bothers to point out that the article may be flawed prior to that point, the fact is that if you rely solely on one or two unreferenced sources, especially on the Internet, you deserve to be debunked. Period.

The true failing of Wikipedia... (4, Interesting)

GundamFan (848341) | about 8 years ago | (#15995388)

This points out the biggest problem with Wikipedia, people are selfish. When questions of NPOV come up the disscusion offten becomes not what the NPOV is but who's oppinion will be included in the article and accepted as truth.

There is a Penny-Arcade comic that sums wikipedia up nicely I can't (due to a proxy) look it up right now...

Disclaimer: I am a huge Wikipedia fan... but I only "trust" non political geek culture (Comics, video games) to be relitivly accurate.

Re:The true failing of Wikipedia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15995498)

Do you mean this one? [penny-arcade.com]

Re:The true failing of Wikipedia... (1)

shimage (954282) | about 8 years ago | (#15995519)

There is a Penny-Arcade comic that sums wikipedia up nicely I can't (due to a proxy) look it up right now...

Actually, the Penny Arcade Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] has it there.

Re:The true failing of Wikipedia... (1)

petro_K (990448) | about 8 years ago | (#15995616)

or is this [penny-arcade.com] the one you are talking about...

Problems on the fringes (4, Interesting)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | about 8 years ago | (#15995403)

Wikipedia works rather well at the core. Articles about science topics, or most history topics are OK. There are issues with current event topics, but there are plenty of editors working on those. the real problem that no one mentions with Wikipedia is on the fringes. there are 1.3 or so Million english articles. Some of them are poorly translated paragraphs from other languages. Some of them are straight lifts from a Press Release, and some of them are pretty incomplete. This is one such case. While editors can work on NPOV more directly with articles like George W. Bush or Jesus, there are only a handful of editors working on the fringes. I was hitting up the random pages button, and a few days ago, I stumbled across the "Miss Bikini of the Universe" page (no jokes, please). It consists of a few poorly translated paragraphs, a picture that's three years out of date (but attractive nonetheless), and a notice that Ukraine's candidate won the most recent one (which apparently was over the weekend in China somewhere), but no mention of the winner's name, DoB, etc. Now, I tried to do some cleanup - verb tenses, complete sentences, etc., but the page needs an awful lot of work, and frankly, I'm busy, and the orginal writer looks like he ran a few news articles through Babelfish.

Re:Problems on the fringes (1)

s20451 (410424) | about 8 years ago | (#15995573)

Edit wars and Stephen Colbert are the wrong test of Wikipedia. What I have often wondered is how hard it would be for a small, quiet conspiracy to cause considerable damage to the factual accuracy of Wikipedia, especially in historical articles that don't get a lot of attention.

Re:Problems on the fringes (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 8 years ago | (#15996022)

What I have often wondered is how hard it would be for a small, quiet conspiracy to cause considerable damage to the factual accuracy of Wikipedia, especially in historical articles that don't get a lot of attention.


"Historical articles that don't get a lot of attention" might be easy to distort specifically because they don't get a lot of attention. OTOH, the same not getting a lot of attention that would make it easy would also make it of rather limited utility.

Of course, most encyclopedias in general aren't good for much more than casual verification when you already are generally familiar with the subject, getting an outline idea of a subject before you do more serious investigation, and, when you already know the subject material, pointing someone else too when you find a particular good explanation to save yourself the trouble of a lengthy explanation. In any of those uses, Wikipedia's weaknesses aren't really much of a problem.

Re:Problems on the fringes (1, Troll)

owlnation (858981) | about 8 years ago | (#15995868)

Wikipedia works rather well at the core...
No... maybe... how do you know for sure? There's simply never any guarantee of that. Perhaps a random page is accurate, perhaps it just looks plausible but is in fact dangerously wrong. I think the history pages are the most worrying. If, rather than a direct large scale act of vandalism, some interested group was to slowly over a number of years quietly change little things you could really distort a view of the world. Fox News anyone?

Depsite much publicity (and on /. too) about how low quality and unreliable many Wikipedia pages are, it never ceases to amaze me how many people link to it from these pages or are willing to trust it to prove their point. I guess most people here are university educated and really should know better. Personally, I would prefer to mod every post with a wikipedia link offtopic (unless obviously intended to be funny) - at least until such time as it is a trusted source.

As a so-called web 2.0 entity it seems to be praised where MySpace or similar would never be thus. I assume that this is due to the fact that the stated aims of Jimbo et al are non-profit, and the intention of many, though clearly not all, contributors is the genuine advancement of humanity.

Noble goals, but horrifically exploitable, and there is much evidence on Wikipedia that exploited is just what it sometimes is. This ferry thing being yet one more example of that proof. (The fact that ferries on Lake Michigan have doubled in numbers over the past 3 months notwithstanding.) The obvious exploits are all good and well, the danger is in the subtle errors or deliberate manipulations. We not spot them until serious damage is done, lives lost, governments overthrown - all possible as real history indicates. Again, Fox News anyone?

So, if this storm in a teacup about ferries was taking place through competing MySpace pages would /. run an article on it? I don't think so.

In truth MySpace is occasionally as valid a source for data as Wikipedia, similarly, as is a guy you met in a bar last night.

Thus please, please, stop taking Wikipedia seriously. At least until such time as its editors start taking the truth seriously.

Re:Problems on the fringes (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 8 years ago | (#15996081)

No... maybe... how do you know for sure?
Well, there is the study [com.com] which found it comparable in terms of accuracy to the Encyclopedia Britannica, which strongly suggests that it works at least reasonably well as an encyclopedia.

Re:Problems on the fringes (1)

Moofie (22272) | about 8 years ago | (#15996121)

"Noble goals, but horrifically exploitable, and there is much evidence on Wikipedia that exploited is just what it sometimes is"

OK, I'm sorry, but I simply cannot take YOU seriously until you fix that sentence.

Wikipedia War Wiki Failure (4, Insightful)

webword (82711) | about 8 years ago | (#15995404)

I like Jason Scott's rant about Wikipedia over at ASCII [textfiles.com] . It is related to this next Wikipedia War in the following way:

"It's that there's a small set of content generators, a massive amount of wonks and twiddlers, and then a heaping amount of procedural whackjobs. And the mass of twiddlers and procedural whackjobs means that the content generators stop being so and have to become content defenders. Woe be that your take on things is off from the majority."

A related issue is that with some topics, you will *always* have debates. Certain wiki topics will always cause people to be at "war" with each other. I doubt this will kill off wiki technology, but eventually there probably will be some social conventions to handle disputes. Or, perhaps a more rigid technology will take the place of wikis. Who knows.

Sorry to ramble. My point is just that we need to be careful that we don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. In plain language, a wiki war doesn't mean that wikis are bad.

 

Re:Wikipedia War Wiki Failure (1)

multimed (189254) | about 8 years ago | (#15995995)

"It's that there's a small set of content generators, a massive amount of wonks and twiddlers, and then a heaping amount of procedural whackjobs. And the mass of twiddlers and procedural whackjobs means that the content generators stop being so and have to become content defenders. Woe be that your take on things is off from the majority."

I agree right up until the last sentence. It sounds too much like Colbert and I think is inaccurate. Most of the difficulties with Wikipedia aren't because a majority trying to squash opinions that are out of the mainstream. Most of the problems are vandalism plain and simple - people putting information in that they know full well is wrong either for fun (in the case of Colbert) or to promote their own motives.

The point about there being too many wonks, twiddlers and whackjobs out there causing the good folks to waste too much time being police is ultimately the biggest problem right now. Ultimately I think the solution is to require registration and not take anonymous edits.

Gah! Link! (5, Informative)

LincolnQ (648660) | about 8 years ago | (#15995415)

I hate how Slashdot rarely links to the ACTUAL THING THE ARTICLE IS ABOUT. Lake Express [wikipedia.org]

Re:Gah! Link! (1, Insightful)

webword (82711) | about 8 years ago | (#15995451)

You make it sound like Slashdot is a person. ;-)

Remember, people submit news to Slashdot. So, blame the submitter: vhfer

Then again, I suppose you could blame CmdrTaco for not making the update.

Re:Gah! Link! (1)

vhfer (643140) | about 8 years ago | (#15995459)

Sorry, I should have added that link. I meant to, must have been distracted before hitting "post." I read the "actual thing the article is about" to see if it the current article was still altered. It's not. It's pretty benign list of specs and facts at this moment.

Re:Gah! Link! (0, Offtopic)

Screwy1138 (976897) | about 8 years ago | (#15995541)

Okay, I'm going to get ripped for saying this, but I find it really amusing that the guy posts a link to the article the news article was referring to and it's modded "Offtopic".

In other shitty news (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15995422)

I just wiped my arse with Kleenex's rival Kittensoft

Live by the Wiki (1)

extremefire (998415) | about 8 years ago | (#15995472)

Because I always check the local ferry pages before I decide which ferry to use that day.

Problem Solved (4, Funny)

Anti_Climax (447121) | about 8 years ago | (#15995509)

I say we just rename both Ferrys after Stephen Colbert and call it a day.

One vote in favor (1)

vhfer (643140) | about 8 years ago | (#15995559)

Aye!

Re:Problem Solved (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15995776)

what does an eagle, a bridge and 2 ferries all have in common?

links that should be in the fricken /. article... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15995567)

Lake_Express [wikipedia.org]
Lake_Express edits [wikipedia.org]

SS Badger [wikipedia.org]
SS Badger edits [wikipedia.org]

aren't Internet savvy enough to alter Wikipedia (2, Funny)

VEGETA_GT (255721) | about 8 years ago | (#15995627)

But the owners 8 year old kid is :P

no such thing as bad publicity (1)

512k (125874) | about 8 years ago | (#15995633)

I know it's a cliche, but before this article, I didn't know that there was another ferry that went across lake Michigan besides the Badger.

examples of wiki abuse (2, Interesting)

mcguyver (589810) | about 8 years ago | (#15995638)

Lake Express was definitely a victim of abuse by SS Badger. Pretty funny comments!

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lake_Exp ress&diff=72406828&oldid=72405352 [wikipedia.org]
The ferry's operational season has been a bit of an embarrasement for the owner's of the company. When first launched the company announced that the ferry would operate each season until December 31. Because of lack of fall ridership and many press reports of sea sickness earlier in the year, the ferry's operations were ended in October during the first year (2004). In 2005 the company announced they had a plan to make it to the end of the year through better promotion. In 2005 the company was again forced to end their season early as the ship did not seem well equipt to make it in the Gales of November.

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lake_Exp ress&diff=68850407&oldid=61693002 [wikipedia.org]
http://www.milwaukee-muskegon.com/ [milwaukee-muskegon.com] Site comparing Lake Express and other Lake Michigan Car Ferries

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lake_Exp ress&diff=72436565&oldid=72428201 [wikipedia.org]
not to mention that it crashed into the pier at muskegon without passengers aboard in 2005 april

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lake_Exp ress&diff=72437357&oldid=72436565 [wikipedia.org]
In August 2006 several trips were cancelled because of waves and mechanical problems. The vessel was only running on three of its four engines and halted all trips for passenger comfort due to wave conditions. All ferry service was halted to fix mechanical issues on August 15 through August 18.

Re:examples of wiki abuse (1)

lpangelrob (714473) | about 8 years ago | (#15996134)

I'm not so sure; I should see all sorts of "The S.S. Badger is the best f*!@in' ferry on earth!" vandals on S.S. Badger [wikipedia.org] , but that hasn't happened. Maybe just someone disappointed with their ride, or a Muskegon teen with nothing better to do.

Completely off topic (1)

lelitsch (31136) | about 8 years ago | (#15995642)

But the main difference is that the SS Badger is going from way out in the boonies to effing nowhere in 4 hours. Getting from any population center in WI to any in MI is as fast or a lot faster by car (Green Bay->Grand Rapids or Milwaukee -> Detroit). The Lake Express is less extreme, but still not a huge improvement. I lived South of Chicago until last year and contrary to all the complains, the Tri-State isn't really that crowded most of the time. Now if anyone tries to save on the tolls by driving thought the city or take a shortcut via the Edens, Kennedy and Ryan Expressway, s/he is in for a lot of pain.

Manitowoc (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15995645)

I'm from Manitowoc, and I know people who have worked at various levels for the USS Badger. I doubt they are lying when they say they don't have the expertise to change wikipedia. I'm waiting for an edit to wikipedia that tells the story of when they lost a car to the lake. I do believe its still sitting right underneath the dock.

Ahh Manitowoc. The county that Jepordy claims has the highest Bar to Capita ratio in the US.

Different Experiences (5, Informative)

PeterChenoweth (603694) | about 8 years ago | (#15995679)

I have taken the SS Badger several times. My sister took the Lake Express earlier this summer.

They are very different ships for different purposes. The Lake Express is newer, faster, and more prone to breakdowns and postponed trips due to the higher speed. The SS Badger is older, slower, and more reliable due to it being an 'old fashioned' coal-burning boat that chugs slowly across the lake. The Lake Express is pretty much assigned seating, enclosed from the elements, with very limited space outside on deck. The SS Badger is completely open seating and you can spend the entire trip outside enjoying the views, the rain, and the coal soot.

If you want to minimize your time spent on the water and travel in a new, state-of-the-art, fast boat, take the Lake Express. If you want to prolong the experience and enjoy being out on the lake, take the SS Badger.

The two companies can compete all the want, but I think they have two different customer bases.

Re:Different Experiences (3, Interesting)

crozell (872334) | about 8 years ago | (#15995832)

I mentioned this in another post, but there's a lot more to the story than what is reflected in TFA or wikipedia. Customers that just want to get from point A to point B (without driving) will generally want to get there as fast as possible unless the transportation is part of the reason to take the trip. That obviously makes the Lake Express ferry appealing to a fair number of people, and it is likely that some people that would have taken the Badger otherwise will now opt for the Lake Express ferry.

Normally this would just be a free market issue - let the company with the best service at the lowest price win out. The ill-will comes in because the Lake Express ferry received a very controversial federally subsidized loan to start their business (minimizing the financial risk taken by the individuals starting the company). Much of the community around the Badger felt like this was unfair because it amounted to the federal government subsidizing one company to compete against another. Much of the community around the Lake express ferry thought that the Badger people were just whining, or didn't care how it happened as long as their community saw the economic gain of the new ferry.

I forget some of the details now, but IIRC it appeared especially controversial because this was an unusual application of this particular maritime subsidy program and the congressional representative heading the relevant committee happens to have the ship builder in their district that built the Lake Express ferry. So, to some people it looked like thinly-veiled quid pro quo.

Not trying to argue a point here....just want people to know that (though the wikipedia war is childish), there is a lot more to the story than what's in the linked articles.

Obligitory Monty Python and The Holy Grail... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15995695)

The French Castle Scene from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" ... (groans) Bedevere: (pause) Oh... um, look, if we built this large wooden Badger. ...

What? No link to WikiTruth? (4, Interesting)

wowbagger (69688) | about 8 years ago | (#15995757)

What? Nobody (at least, nobody above +2) has posted a link to WikiTruth [wikitruth.info] ? Well, let me do so then.

+1 funny... (2, Insightful)

lpangelrob (714473) | about 8 years ago | (#15995784)

Ha. Didn't think this would make it to Slashdot. (I didn't participate in the Lake Express wars, but I did recreate the entire S.S. Badger [wikipedia.org] page because it was created, and persisted, as a copy-and-paste of the History section of their website [ssbadger.com] . I did notice strange things happening in Lake Express at the time, though...)

A more difficult issue in Wikipedia is figuring out how many copyright violations are in the encyclopedia. I don't see how it's feasible for every copyright holder to keep tabs of their Wikipedia article(s); that's not very fair to the copyright holder. More distressing, it seems that the art of proper summarization and citation has been lost from the general community in our generation (aged early 30s and younger) for some time.

With regional, nontechnical and just plain unpopular topics like this, if I (as an editor) don't fix it when I see it, the odds are pretty good no one will fix it. Not to mention I may be introducing some unwanted, commentary-style bias that I'm unaware of. But it always goes back to "unpopular"... unless you have a strong contingent of editors on a particular topic, whether numbering 3 or 30, lightly-traveled topics are just not going to be as good as they could be.

Regarding having opinions on an encyclopedia... it would be a better place if people just learned how and where to pick their battles. My answer to this [wikipedia.org] is "I really don't give a damn, just pick something; it's not that important!"

More Fundamental Problem (4, Insightful)

Temujin_12 (832986) | about 8 years ago | (#15995814)

This highlights a more fundamental problem than the fact that Wikipedia is vulnerable to edit wars, and that is people's/company's/political party's disregard for truth. I have a good friend who was part of a recent high-profile gubernatorial race. I was surprised to hear from him that they had to constantly guard the wikipedia page about their candidate as it would constantly be vandalized. Is it just me, or do you also get a kind-of "sick" feeling when you hear about these kind of things? This is especially true when you take a step back and think about what the potential Wikipedia (and other sites like it) holds for improving the lives of people all over the world. When you look at it from this perspective, well written, unbiased articles, in my opinion, hold a certain level of sacredness. And when you see it being defiled you can't help but to feel disgust.

Now, I know, this example is "small peanuts" in the grand scheme of things. However, it just makes me sick when I see this kind of intentionally malicious behavior focused on something with a primary goal to improve the lives of all.

Obligatory. (1)

Tavor (845700) | about 8 years ago | (#15995827)

Snaaaake? Snaaaaaaaake!!

I guess you could call this... (1)

Wilson_6500 (896824) | about 8 years ago | (#15995887)

... a Lake Express [wikipedia.org] snow (11) [reference.com] storm.

(Yeah, yeah. I'm _really_ stretching this one.)

Upsetting (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | about 8 years ago | (#15995906)

It's clear that as Wikipedia gains a higher and higher profile, it is and will be abused by those who seek to make money. Just like 90% of all Internet appliances. Why did we let them?

So they're trying to pull a Curry? (1)

John Bokma (834313) | about 8 years ago | (#15995957)

"and also say they aren't Internet savvy enough to alter a Wikipedia article."

A possible reason for the madness (2, Informative)

aywwts4 (610966) | about 8 years ago | (#15995997)

In Manitowoc at least I know there are quite a few tourist locations that depend on car-ferry traffic to survive, when they heard about competition to the badger they many felt quite threatened, The badger represents a rush that makes up most of their visitors, My girlfriend who did tours on the USS Cobia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Cobia [wikipedia.org] Says that the Badger represents about 60% of their traffic when it was in service.

Manitowoc is a small town, and not exactly a tourist destination in itself, But thanks to the car-ferry which dumps it's passengers right into the downtown, a few things can stay alive that keep your attention for an afternoon. (A few blocks of downtown, an old time ice cream shop, a naval museum with submarine, and an art gallery.) Before they go to Door County (A real tourist area)

The fact that people are trying to put propaganda into wikipedia doesn't surprise me, and the fact that nobody from Milwaukee probably cares doesn't either. A few hundred people coming on a boat wont exactly make or break their economy, But here its the rush that keeps anything tourist related open.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly of Wikipedia (1, Interesting)

jeffc128ca (449295) | about 8 years ago | (#15996045)

I always knew this would happen to Wikipedia. As an all seeing all gathering reference for information it's just not going to work with the public's ability to edit articles. The chief admins will have to keep locking down articles until there are no "unlocked" articles left.

The public Wikipedia assumes that the majority know what the truth is and will correct articles to ensure that's the case. That's a bad assumption. The majority of people don't collectively know the truth. Facts don't change just because a vote decided otherwise.

That is not to say wiki is completely bad. The system used on Wikipedia works well for groups that need documentation provided by several knowledge experts. I have found getting the people who know who a paticular system works together to create documentation is brutal using traditional methods. How great would it be to have a wiki at work that contains technical and user information on systems that people work on every day. Most work places have lousy documentation for there systems and work processes. God knows I have worked at several. The wiki structure would make life a lot easier in these cases. There is far less incentive to manipulate that info for fraudulent purposes.

It's as plain as day that Wikipedia can not work in the long run as the end all be all of all knowledge known to man. There are too many people with agendas who will change articles constantly. For the broad general use, use it as a starting point in any research your doing but don't consider it "the truth".

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>