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The Register Exposes More Wikipedia Abuse

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the it's-the-internet-how-could-there-not-be-drama dept.

Censorship 524

cyofee writes "The Register has up another article exposing abuse of Wikipedia's policies and processes. It tells a tale of a man, Gary Weiss, controlling the Wikipedia article about himself and his enemies (one of Wikipedia's biggest taboos) all under the blessing of the Wikipedia Cabal. A man who attempted to expose the affair on Wikipedia, along with his his entire IP range (some 1000 homes), was permanently blocked. This comes only days after the affair of the Secret Mailing list."

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Waht do you know (4, Insightful)

nunyadambinness (1181813) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612553)

A good idea corrupted by human execution.

We told them it would happen, but "NO! This time it's different!". Except, it wasn't.

Where's that guy who shills for wikipedia, I'd love to hear his take on this.

Re:Waht do you know (4, Insightful)

AmaDaden (794446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612605)

Once as a boy I was told something about absolute power...now how did that go again?

Re:Waht do you know (4, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612981)

As I recall the saying goes something like "Power corrupts, but absolute power is pretty freakin' cool".

Re:Waht do you know (1)

Vornzog (409419) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613131)

Once as a boy I was told something about absolute power...now how did that go again?
Power corrupts. Absolute power is pretty neat.

Re:Waht do you know (1)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613223)

Once as a boy I was told something about absolute power...now how did that go again?
Um, absolute power is a lot of fun as long as it's you that has it?
Absolute power is the absolute aphrodisiac?
Absolute power, it's not just for breakfast anymore?

Meh. (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612613)

It's not the idea. The idea was "everyone contributes, and everyone is equal." If that was still the idea, we wouldn't be hearing all these stories of editorial abuse, because things are now unequal, and that inequality is what's breeding all these problems.

Put a group in charge, and you're going to get abuse. That's just a fact. To get around this, most other organizations add some checks and balances, some oversight, some limitations on power. WP didn't do this, and now they're suffering for it.

Thanks (-1, Offtopic)

nunyadambinness (1181813) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612637)

For completely restating what I said without adding anything Appreciate it.

Re:Thanks (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612697)

I'm sorry, did what you say have any content? All I got from your comment was, "We said it would fail and now it has, oh the humanity." You could have copy pasted that comment into any thread about anything failing, and it would have had all the same relevance.

Re:Thanks (-1, Flamebait)

nunyadambinness (1181813) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612765)

All I got from your comment was, "We said it would fail and now it has, oh the humanity."


I guess you missed the part about idea/execution then. Which is what your post stated, only less concisely.

Reading's not hard, you should try it.

Re:Thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21612861)

Writing is hard, and it seems you're not apt to do it.

Re:Thanks (2, Insightful)

SnoopJeDi (859765) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612893)

Writing to inform isn't that hard either, you should try it sometime.

Slashdot is not the place for subtle subtext and prose. Unless it's trolling or misinterpreted sarcasm. Then, go for it.

The respondent posted his reply because your comment was not a complete maturation of an idea, and was more commentary than discussion-invoking.

Wasn't trying to inform (-1, Troll)

nunyadambinness (1181813) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612997)

You should fuck off. Now. I'd enjoy it if you tried it.

Slashdot is not the place for subtle subtext and prose.


I had no idea there were rules to what could be posted.

Oh there aren't.

Like I said, fuck off.

The respondent posted his reply because he's a shameless karma whore who doesn't have any ideas of his own


Fixed that for you.

Now get to fucking off.

Re:Thanks (1, Troll)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612969)

A good idea corrupted by human execution.

There is this thing called "Grammar" which tells me that the above sentence completely lacks meaning, as it has no subject. I'll assume you're talking about WP.

Let's explore this idea of "human execution." What type of execution are you saying would be better? Not many projects of this sort that aren't executed by humans, at least in our experience, and it turns out that a number of human executed projects (including WP) have turned out pretty well, so human influence is not obviously all-corrupting. Also, it turns out that corruption isn't exactly a slippery slope...Even if you become corrupt, you don't have to stay that way.

So basically you wrote a sentence fragment that paraphrases a fatuous truism. That's fine. The problem is when you then turn around and complain because someone "stole your idea" when they actually write something that's not so non-specific as to be meaningless. That's pretty lame.

You're wrong and a liar now (-1, Troll)

nunyadambinness (1181813) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613067)

There is this thing called "Grammar" which tells me that the above sentence completely lacks meaning


Then you shoudl use this thing called "intelligence" as it would help you understand you're wrong.

The problem is when you then turn around and complain because someone "stole your idea"


Please show me where I said anything of the kind. I did not EVER claim anyone "stole my idea", and your use of the quotatition marks indicates that you were quoting me, so prove it.

Oh wait, you were lying and I never said that.

That's pretty lame.

Now you know how I feel about everything you've ever posted.

Re:Thanks (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613013)

Actually, I found his post to be very complementary to yours, embiggening both.

Re:Meh. (2, Interesting)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612819)

Nothing prevents the "iron law of olichargy", so I ask: Why bother? Why don't you create a olichargy from the start and try to control it? Why let an egalitarian society slip into an unfair olichargy rather than having a well structured one from the beginning?

Re:Meh. (3, Interesting)

AmaDaden (794446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612841)

Yeah. I think the best solution is to put a 'ruling class' in place but to make sure all of their communication is public. If it's found that people are discussing Wikipedia not on Wikipedia they get a temp ban. It's by no means a perfect fix but with out someone in charge somewhere people will form their own little gangs. It just seems to be human nature.

On a side note, I would love to see Jimbo [slashdot.org] himself make comment on all this. He seems to have totally given up on Slashdot with his last post. It would be nice to know what is going in the depth of Wikipedia land from it's creator.

Re:Meh. (3, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613127)

Well I'm actually in favor of oligarchy over democracy in that special case where you can get an oligarch who knows what the hell he's doing. If there was a way to always pick the best person to rule, I'd be a die-hard royalist, or fascist, or whatever.

Democratic rule basically depends on inefficiency to keep people from doing anything unless most people agree it is the correct thing to do.

They definitely need more transparency. I think what people are most angry about is the lack thereof. Their formalized processes suck. Their reporting of their bannings, etc, suck.

Re:Meh. (2, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613107)

Now, I'm not defending Wikipedia per se, but if the Linux kernel were developed like that -- "everyone contributes, and everyone is equal", we'd probably end up with a kernel that combines all the bloat of Microsoft Office with all of the elegance of ed. (Wrap your head around that one!)

The fact is that open source projects aren't democracies, they're meritocracies. You wanna be one of the cool kids of the LKML? Write a few killer features for the kernel or write a bunch of drivers or find and squash a bunch of bugs or something.

The idea behind Wikipedia was to develop an encyclopedia around open source principles, right? Well, adopt a open source principles and you'll end up with an open source mentality. Hence, as TFA says:

We aren't democratic." That's how Wikipedia founder Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales described his famously-collaborative online encyclopedia in a recent puff piece from The New York Times Magazine. "The core community appreciates when someone is knowledgeable," he said, "and thinks some people are idiots and shouldn't be writing."


Sounds like a meritocracy to me.

Re:Meh. (5, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613277)

They certainly like to think so.

The problem is that their idea of merit is far better described as "prolific". If someone does a lot of decent edits, that makes them prolific. If someone creates a small number of extremely high quality original articles, they have merit. It's the second class that really adds value to WP, and they vastly outnumber the first class. But the second class isn't well represented in the admin group, and the first is.

Without the guys who only write one or two articles, WP would be tiny. But those people have no say. And worse, if they move against the groupthink, then they can be banned.

Re:Meh. (3, Interesting)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613291)

It's not the idea. The idea was "everyone contributes, and everyone is equal." If that was still the idea, we wouldn't be hearing all these stories of editorial abuse, because things are now unequal, and that inequality is what's breeding all these problems.

Put a group in charge, and you're going to get abuse. That's just a fact. To get around this, most other organizations add some checks and balances, some oversight, some limitations on power. WP didn't do this, and now they're suffering for it.

An amazing parallel to representative government. In the beginning, we set up a government where everyone has their say by voting for the people who represent them. We invest those people with tremendous power. 535 people make the laws in the United States, 1 person gets to review them before they become law, and 9 others get to review them after they become law. Despite the system of checks and balances the original framers of the Constitution tried to create, the country is run at the behest of 300 million+ citizens by only 545 of their countrymen. That it works at all is amazing; that it is corrupt to some degree is to be understood.

The Wikipedia problem won't really be easily solvable, because at some point it needs to make the same trade-offs that the Constitutional Convention made. Eventually, if you want a higher degree of accuracy, you're going to have to reduce the number of people who have access to the data and you're going to have to trust that they have no ulterior motives in their editing, and you're going to have to keep track of just what they do and call them on it when it's clear there is malfeasance.

Re:What do you know (2, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612761)

I don't really think that it was a good idea to start with. The main reason being that between outright corruption and the constant state of flux it wasn't ever something that could be properly relied upon.

It is unfortunate, but unlike an encyclopedia, the constant state of change makes it nearly impossible to use for anything beyond casual reference. Even grade school level reports require a more reliable source of information, or at least one which can be guaranteed to be the same when somebody goes to verify the claims.

Re:What do you know (2, Interesting)

Gloy (1151691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613203)

A permanent link to a particular revision of every article, that's guaranteed not to change, is available for every revision of every article, view the page you're interested in and click the "Permanent link" link at the bottom of the sidebar. Seems to me that it is quite possible to overcome the "material has changed when verified" problem by simply citing that link instead. That of course doesn't change the fact that no encyclopedia should be cited in serious academic work.

FrstGnn (0, Troll)

Helen Keller (842669) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612555)

gnnPISS.

Hmph (5, Funny)

moogied (1175879) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612579)

Re:Hmph (2, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613051)

Definitely funny, but as with all Penny Arcade strips, holds a great grain of truth. Wikipedia is billed as on-line encyclopedia, and while it may contain encyclopedic (and in many cases, overabundant) knowledge, it is actually a system whereby groups can vie for control of the information that others see about a particular topic. How many scandals have their been with entries being edited by groups/individuals on the sly, to make an opposing idea or person seem unpalatable or to spread falsehoods or innuendo? And given its size, how much potential inaccuracy or outright prevarication goes unnoticed?

It's pretty simple: Wikipedia the concept is excellent. The execution lacks quite a bit. At some point, you have to limit the number of people who can actually edit it, and remove the possibility of it going from encyclopedia of knowledge to something more like Facebook or MySpace. And yes, I know, who do you get to edit it? Eventually you have to bite the bullet, trust some people to be full-time editors, watch them to prevent abuse, and cultivate a culture of accuracy in information transmission.

If I was... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21612583)

If I was Gary Weiss, my motto would be "Citation needed, bitches", then I'd be all like, "Wikipedia Cabal: block that guy's IP range.", then under my breath I'd be like, "bitches."

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater (0, Flamebait)

Torodung (31985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612633)

Yes, but is this relevant to 85% of the body of work? Do we really need to throw the word "totalitarian" around, or "black helicopters?" Jeez.

News flash! The Register has less credibility than Wiki, if only for this idiotic smear job.

In defense of Wikipedia: Sure, Wikipedia has its corruptions and its problems, but so does any other human endeavor.

Point is, it is a useful source of information. If you don't have the critical skills to determine where it is not useful, you should ask your Mom for help in using it.

I'd hate for Wikipedia to be taken down over some scandal. These shrill articles about "corruption" are really rather childish. Wikipedia has made no claims to be a superior source of information. There's no reason to throw out the baby with the bathwater here.

I find it to be an excellent source for non-politicized information, and this will continue to be the case, regardless of administrative difficulties, so long as Wikipedia is given the chance to survive this tabloid "scandal sheet" coverage of its staff.

Let's not fan the flames, and that is what the linked article is: a flame. Don't do this to the staff of Wikipedia just because you may think they are "a bit snotty."

--
Toro

All or nothing (5, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612711)

I'd hate for Wikipedia to be taken down over some scandal.
So there's no point in wasting cycles on Wikipedia's imperfections, since the only alternative is its total destruction?

That's good to know -- I don't need to write up that material I was going to submit since Wiki is a "love it (as is) or leave it" regime.

Re:All or nothing (5, Insightful)

Torodung (31985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612863)

Hey, whoa pardner. I'm not the one with the "all or nothing" attitude. There are plenty of people saying that this "scandal" somehow affects every article on Wikipedia, even the ones on the boiling point of water, and that is mostly because they have an agenda to take it all down.

They don't like the idea of Wikipedia, or they are natural conspiracy theorists who think all power and centralized control is evil, and are willing to take Wiki down in their cause to reform it on an idealistic model of total anarchy, which anyone with a lick of sense knows wouldn't work, as evidenced by the vandalism problems Wikipedia has had.

I don't want to see that agenda served. I think Wikipedia is a good idea, but it was inchoate, as all good ideas are, and they need time and balance to sort out the problems with that idea, without someone screeching "totalitarian" at what is little more than a bunch of snotty intellectuals with little to no PR experience and/or tact.

Though they failed to mention Nazis, I am calling "Godwin" on the whole bit. I agree with you. It needs to be worked with, and praised for what it is, not assaulted.

--
Toro

Re:All or nothing (4, Informative)

dtobias (262347) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613087)

Speaking as one of the people who was quoted in the article with critical comments about Wikipedia's leadership and policy, I'm certainly not out to "destroy" Wikipedia. I still like Wikipedia, use it as a reference all the time, and enjoy editing it (and hope they don't ban me for saying critical stuff about it). What I don't like is the attitude of certain cliques there, and I hope that articles like this lead to some reform that cuts off their power without destroying the site itself.

Re:All or nothing (2, Interesting)

Torodung (31985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613327)

I didn't think you meant to hurt Wiki, just the article author. When a writer sources reasonable critical quotes amidst his theories of "cabals" and "black helicopters," he is doing you a grave disservice.

I doubt you'll be banned for reasoned criticism, and I only think less of the author of this article, who clearly has a dire agenda, or is so wrapped up in media hype that he doesn't recognize it anymore. Some of these writers have it "turned up to 11" all the time.

Best of luck to you. I'm sorry if I implicated everyone mentioned in the article. I was against the bombastic, ridiculous writing, not the people mentioned within.

--
Toro

Re:All or nothing (4, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612897)

Characterising the project as ruled by a partisan elite with an army of drones at their disposal, just because of the actions of a few pissant administrators, is certainly doing a disservice to the 90% of Wikipedia admins, editors, and unregistered users who aren't complete assholes.

Exactly. RTFA, then you'll know the score (1)

Torodung (31985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613069)

Well said! We've definitely got a RTFA disconnect here.

The summary sounds quite reasonable, then you get to the article and you find out it's based on an infantile rant.

Re:Throwing the baby out with the bathwater (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612719)

News flash! The Register has less credibility than Wiki, if only for this idiotic smear job.

Ah yes, but The Register is little more than a rag e-zine but Wikipedia attempts to pass of this air of authority that it obviously does not have as there are people, at the top, fucking things up.

Yes, but is this relevant to 85% of the body of work? Do we really need to throw the word "totalitarian" around, or "black helicopters?" Jeez.

How the fuck would we know? We don't have someone who devoted a good bit of his free time in a year to attempting to track down the source of this snafu. It could seriously be that a majority of entries are fucked with in this way -- much to the enjoyment of the douchebags that believe they are somehow important because they are in a "ruling clique" -- but we'd never know w/o more people digging around.

That said, this sounds like a bunch of forum trolling, whining and conspiracy theory that I see on almost every single web-forum that has some sort of board running most of the show. Move along, it's not worth getting upset over.

How is this a troll? MOD PARENT UP. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21613209)

He makes very good points. MOD UP.

Missing the point entirely (0)

nunyadambinness (1181813) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612725)

Yes, but is this relevant to 85% of the body of work?


Yes, because there's no way to find out what the 15% is.

Point is, it is a useful source of information.


NO, the point is, it WAS a good source of information, which has NO credibility now.

Re:Missing the point entirely (1)

Xaositecte (897197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613063)

Personal vendettas have little or no impact on, say, Particle Physics [wikipedia.org] .

I've found Wikipedia to be a useful starting point for researching highly technical or historical articles. You'd have to be mad to think of it as a good source for, say, politics, or still-living individuals.

Re:Missing the point entirely (1)

Gloy (1151691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613261)

Any still-living individual, or just one that happens to be in the media at the moment?

Re:Throwing the baby out with the bathwater (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612815)

So saying that there is a problem at WP is the same as destroying the whole?

The only reason people complain is because they care about it. This is a real concern; I have absolutely no problem believing that there are abuses going on. The editors are human, and, even worse, they have a strong emotional stake in the project. That gives them a lot of motivation to do some "ends justifying the means" crap like banning someone they don't agree with.

The way for WP to solve the whole problem is to address the concerns not to do as you are doing, and pretend like they don't exist, or aren't relevant.

Re:Throwing the baby out with the bathwater (1)

Torodung (31985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612995)

So saying that there is a problem at WP is the same as destroying the whole?
No. That would be reasoned. Read the f-ing article, which is titled:

Wikipedia black helicopters circle Utah's Traverse Mountain

The imagery of the linked article is a deliberate and polemic assault designed to take Wiki down, and rob it of all credibility. He is trying to make a bunch of milquetoast intellectuals sound like "Dr. Evil." If you didn't read the article, you won't understand why I'm upset with this crap.

The article is not a reasoned complaint, it's a hit job.

--
Toro

Re:Throwing the baby out with the bathwater (3, Insightful)

Rycross (836649) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613157)

We in the business have a name for that kind of headline. "Joke" As far as the article, calling it a "deliberate and polemic assault designed to take Wiki down, and rob it of all credibility" is some superb hyperbole. The article itself dabbles in hyperbole, but you've pretty much one-upped it. They overdo it in many place (seriously, "totalitarian"?) but most of what is written seems reasonable when you strip away the, *ahem*, creative writing.

The thing that makes these little flukes on Wikipedia a scandal is that instead of admitting theres a problem, the wiki in-group will loudly deny any problems and pose it as an all-or-nothing, you're-with-us-or-against-us situation.

Re:Throwing the baby out with the bathwater (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21612871)

This article is not a flame- a flame consists of pointless insults without real information. This is real. This so-called 'cabal', while probably not as dramatic as described, is still real. The suppression of information by these people is real.

The staff has every right to be criticized, because they are engaging in behaviors that are worthy of criticism. I don't understand how your statement of Wikipedia being a good resource relates to them acting like this- even Nixon accomplished some good things- it doesn't mean he should have remained in as President.

Re:Throwing the baby out with the bathwater (2, Insightful)

Shky (703024) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612949)

The problem is the perceived corruption that goes all the way to the top.

This isn't about inaccurate information posted by those uninformed, uneducated, or malicious.

This is about administrators, and the site's creator, supporting (again, *perceived*) fallacies, in an effort to discredit and disgrace someone.

THAT's the problem.

Re:Throwing the baby out with the bathwater (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21613043)

You have NO idea what you are talking about. Snotty? How about "a bit libelous" or "teenagers shutting down topic experts who can't even legally drive" or "hostage biography victims who aren't famous" or "allowing their site to be used for political cruft and blackballing the targets for editing it".

All Wales fault of course. The world's 7th most visited website deserves better management, and the kids who work there for free (its mostly kids) deserve someone who teaches them to treat people with respect.

This is the TIP of the iceberg.

Re:Throwing the baby out with the bathwater (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21613059)

Many, many good things have happened, continue to happen, and will continue to happen because of wikipedia.

Need wikipedia for school, children, etc.? Here's the solution! :-)

http://www.soschildrensvillages.org.uk/charity-news/wikipedia-for-schools.htm [soschildre...ges.org.uk]

Enjoy!

Re:Throwing the baby out with the bathwaterTROLL-1 (3, Informative)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613061)

News flash! The Register has less credibility than Wiki, if only for this idiotic smear job.

I'd mod you Troll -1, had I mod points today. The credibility of The Register, which has a reputation years long, is not in question with me.

Re:Throwing the baby out with the bathwater (0, Troll)

Torodung (31985) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613115)

Shows how highly you think of Wiki, eh?

I think Wiki has a good deal of credibility, and the Register slightly less. That still means the Register has a pretty good record, but contains, like Wiki, the odd spurious hack job.

Stop thinking in dualities. There's a whole spectrum of quality to work with. Saying an entity has less credibility doesn't mean it has NO credibility. Just less.

--
Toro

Re:Throwing the baby out with the bathwaterTROLL-1 (1)

Nevyn (5505) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613197)

The register's reputation isn't in question, we have the answer and it's worth much less than Wikipedia.

Re:Throwing the baby out with the bathwater (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613145)

Point is, it is a useful source of information. If you don't have the critical skills to determine where it is not useful, you should ask your Mom for help in using it.

Unless the article is CLEARLY bias, the only way to know if an article is useless is to already know more than the article. How would you know that an article is missing some detail? If you know enough to determine a particular article is not adequate, why are you looking it up on Wikipedia in the first place?

The real problem is - as outlined in this article and others - when you DO know more than Wikipedia, and try to fix it, people can actively prevent you from doing so. Not just random people undoing your edits, but admins banning you, locking articles and deleting your articles. There is ZERO accountability on the part of the admins and other staff. Zero. Ultimately the usefullnes and credability of Wiipedia rests in the hands of anonymous, appointed staffers who don't have to answer to anyone.

Make admins accountable for the content of the articles. Not necessarily the factual/technical accuracy, since it seems unreasonable for an admin to be an expert on every subject they might watch over, but the impartiality of both the tone and accessability of the articles. Most of all, remove their anonimity and provide a proper mechanism for outing the bad apples.

Wikipedia should be the encyclopedia anyone can edit, not just the people whom the admins agree with.
=Smidge=

The Register's humor (4, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613301)

Yes, but is this relevant to 85% of the body of work? Do we really need to throw the word "totalitarian" around, or "black helicopters?" Jeez.

Relax, chief. It's The Register's odd British humor. Go look at any of their articles about robots- they usually insert jokes about robots being one step closer to world domination/human enslavement.

Nevermind that this is the paper that runs the Bastard Operator From Hell series. I can't believe you got modded up to 5 for not realizing a joke on a famously snarky-humor-laden technology news sites.

Also, your comments were a lovely bit of straw man crap: nobody is seriously suggesting (or is it really even possible to) "take down" Wikipedia.

The Register has less credibility than Wiki, if only for this idiotic smear job.

Says you, chief. I think they're one of the best sources for technology news around and I love their (obvious to any idiot) twist. CNET and others happily parrot press release after press release; only the good 'ol Reg actually views 'em with an eye of skepticism.

Also blocked (3, Interesting)

Splab (574204) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612653)

We have the same issue where I live, more than 1000 homes behind the same firewall. We have been blocked from editing at some point, bit harsh to block out so many IP's, but thats life I guess. Good thing I don't have the need to contribute.

You can't complain (1, Insightful)

log1385 (1199377) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612655)

Any project like Wikipedia will be subject to abuse. That's just the way things are. Actually, I'm always surprised the Wikipedia is as reliable as it is, and that so many people are willing to devote their time and effort to make it better.

Precisely: you *can't* complain (4, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612771)

Actually, I'm always surprised the Wikipedia is as reliable as it is, and that so many people are willing to devote their time and effort to make it better.
... which they may stop doing if they can't complain, yes?

Re:You can't complain (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612835)

That's exactly it, really. If you give Joe and Jane Randoms admin priviledges, then on average some of those people are going to do dodgy things with them, or make mistakes. That's why there's a concensus structure built into the Wikipedia's higher-level administration which (much like the need for concensus in article-building) tends to weed this stuff out. Alas the subject of the article didn't bother looking at the Dispute Resolution pages and instead just extrapolated wildly as to the motives for these actions, making the usual category errors as to how Wikipedia operates (it's more like a herd of cats than The Borg).

Already taken care of (4, Funny)

overshoot (39700) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612657)

The Register has up another article exposing abuse of Wikipedia's policies and processes [CC].
That problem has been solved: the El Reg IP range has been blocked now.

Re:Already taken care of (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21612885)

I've seen entire /26s blocked by idiot moderators on Wikipedia, it happened once because I didn't register and undid vandalism that was being done by a registered user. They actually banned me for massive vandalism, then I skipped ips since they are dynamically assigned from my isp, in response for this, "use of sockpuppets," they banned the entire /26, and when it was pointed out how fucking retarded the entire situation was, they declared that I should register or expect this.

Wikipedia is entirely untrustworthy and run by a bunch of blooming wackos with no concept of reality.

Story seems dubious to me (5, Interesting)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612663)

It's notable{{cn}} (heh) that, reading between the lines, Jimbo Wales is actually pretty convinced that those editing the articles concerned in the way described and banned for the fact are acting in bad faith.

Ainsworth has contributed more featured articles to Wikipedia than all but six other writers. But in October, when he attempted to edit the Weiss article, he was immediately banned from the site for 24 hours by an administrator known as "Durova" - the administrator at the heart of the secret mailing list scandal.

And Durova's ban was seconded by none other than Jimmy Wales.

"Durova [has] my full support here. No nonsense, zero tolerance, shoot on sight," Wales wrote on the site. "No kidding, this has gone on long enough."

and

Without a doubt, Judd Bagley has seriously angered the powers that be at Wikipedia. He's even received an email from Jimbo Wales saying: "Your feigned innocence is not very endearing" and "It would be helpful if you could come to terms with the fact that you have behaved very very badly over a long period of time."

Not exactly evidence of a cabal acting in secret. More evidence of a group of people behaving trollishly and being banned for doing so.

Indeed, looking at the original sequence of events that supposedly set this off:

Bagley restored the link to Businessjive. A few hours later, the same person removed it. So Bagley restored it again. And it was removed again.

it looks like the whole thing was set off because of link-spamming from the supposed "victims" in this case.

The Register doesn't give us enough information to actually tell if this is the case or if there's some other reason. It doesn't report in full what was said by anyone proposing bans on the so-called victims. It portrays the events as arbitrary despite the fact that, actually, these things don't go on in secret. Most telling of all, if Wikipedia's admins were banning people without presenting reasons for doing so, this would be newsworthy which means the fact they're not saying no reasons were given is itself telling.

Very poor from El Reg. There may be a story right there, but anyone familiar with Wikipedia who's capable of reading between the lines is going to give a big "WTF" and assume El Reg is making up controversy where none exists.

Re:Story seems dubious to me (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612833)

Well he outright said that Wiki was presenting reasons why. The reasons why wiki banned them though does not in any way match the facts at hand, nor the time stamp for those events taking place.

While I agree there is still some bit of evidence missing here, there is definatly something fishy going on, and it wouldn't be the first time the admins and owner of wiki have been publicly outed for being liars and biased.

Re:Story seems dubious to me (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613289)

The reasons for the IP block ban are explained but not the user bans. The user bans are, ultimately, more interesting as they target specific actions by named individuals.

Re:Story seems dubious to me (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612909)

Appeals to Authority don't make very good arguments. Basically all you've told us is that Jimbo Wales said the bans were OK, so they must be. As far as "link-spamming," what you've written there is pretty much worthless as proof. Such revert wars go on all the time at Wikipedia. You've given no compelling evidence whatsoever that the people were banned fairly, had the ban reasons communicated, or that the people banned and community had chances to provide input.

Re:Story seems dubious to me (2, Interesting)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613079)

The parent isn't saying "Jimmy said it's good, and I believe him", it's poining out that the Reg article failed to give compelling (or any) evidence that the bans were *unfair*, the reasons *uncommunicated*, or the banned *prevented* from offering input--it's another one-sided attack job by El Reg, which has long had a vendetta against Wikipedia.

It would be an interesting story if it all happened as the article described, but I don't trust the Register any more than I trust Wikipedia, especially when the latter is the former's topic.

Re:Story seems dubious to me (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613249)

Its hard to say whether or not the bans were unfair when the rational for doing them are done on secret mailing lists. Thats the problem here. Theres no way to prove that the bans were fair because the reasons behind them were secret. The poster I responded to wrote in such a way to say "Well, Jimbo says the reasons were fair, so they were," which is a pretty nasty appeal to authority. Especially because Jimbo doesn't exactly have a good record for this sort of thing (initially defending the guy who faked his credentials, IIRC).

If there were easily accessible proof that this person did something wrong, they could produce that instead. Or is this another one of those secret mailing list bans? Granted, El Reg didn't produce much other than hyperbole, but to respond with appeals to authority and hand-waving makes me wonder if there isn't something to what they're saying, especially considering the way the admins have started to operate.

Moreover, Jimbo's "no tolerance" language certainly doesn't endear me to his point of view.

Re:Story seems dubious to me (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613083)

> Basically all you've told us is that Jimbo Wales said the bans were OK, so they must be.

Heck, I draw the opposite conclusion of the GP: Wales is as much of a controlling paranoid lunatic as Durova.

Have you ever read wikipedia adminspeak? It's an unparseable argot of acronymic jargon. The only thing that I've seen that read similarly was ops manuals for Scientology orgs.
   

Re:Story seems dubious to me (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613205)

Actually, no I didn't. I said that Jimbo Wales appears to be acting on good faith, based upon what was written. Given he oversees Wikipedia, it's hard for me not to take that into account, especially given the lack of factual information in the El Reg article.

El Reg has given "undue weight" to someone who has a problem with stock shorting and is finding it hard to convince Wikipedia to incorporate their opinions on stock shorting and Overstock.com into related articles. Either Wikipedia's admins are acting in bad faith or they're not. What Wales is doing is certainly relevant to that discussion. Wales is apparently acting in good faith. That suggests to me that the Wikipedia admins he's watching over are doing so too.

Re:Story seems dubious to me (0)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613089)

"anyone familiar with Wikipedia who's capable of reading between the lines is going to give a big "WTF" and assume El Reg is making up controversy where none exists."

They are. Bagley is a huge troll, and no objective person could possibly believe his "contributions" to Wikipedia (spamming, using spyware to infect admins) were positive. Surprise surprise, he got banned. This is not news, except in that the Reg is trolling Wikipedia trying to make news out of a non-story.

Oh, well if the Register says so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21612667)

The story must be entirely accurate and non-sensationalized. As you'd expect from any story containing the phrase "wikipedia cabal."

I stopped editing Wikipedia because of this (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21612671)

and controversies like it long ago. I created over 600 articles, mostly on Martian and Mercurian craters, and the inner workings of the U.S. executive branch of government. The problem with Wikipedia is that only the power-hungry authoritarians seek to become administrators, while the regular editors are content to just sit there and write rather than formulate policy.

The answer is obvious (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21612673)

remove all entries related to biographies (living or dead) i dont remember seeing biogs in Encyclopedia Britannica so why should Wiki have them ? i see way too many ego entries about [insert random american blogger/nonperson] for them to be of any value to the public there are plenty of other venues for personal promotion this kind of crap is wikipedias equivalent of spam but instead of product promotion its corporate/blogger promotion wouldnt it be just better to start a different wiki just for biogs and egos and i dunno perhaps call it "myspace" or "blogspot"

Re:The answer is obvious (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613313)

If you haven't seen biographies in Encyclopedia Britannica, then you haven't been reading Encyclopedia Britannica [britannica.com] .

Your suggestion is not a very good one. How would you describe a US Civil War battle without bringing any of the commanders into it? How could you have a discussion about anything in history without getting into the personalities behind the event. Even the light bulb article would be vapid without mentioning the inventors.

Wikipedia edit dispute occurs, more at eleven (4, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612707)

This sort of stuff happens all the time, the only difference here is that somebody's decided to sell the idea to the general public as a devious "Wikipedia elite" rather than a couple of administrators with personal axes to grind. I notice there was no reference to using Wikipedia's own complaint processes to try and resolve the issue - just the usual edit, edit, get blocked, complain about it on your blog pattern.

Re:Wikipedia edit dispute occurs, more at eleven (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613103)

But you can't try to go through the process because the zomg cabal is there to keep you down!1!

Seriously. Administrative abuse is a problem at Wikipedia like it is at any site that has volunteer administrators (and many online and real-world institutions that have paid and unpaid administrators). It's the insinuations that there's some sort of evil cabal that are ridiculous. As a formerly-active Wikipedia administrator typically more interested in keeping the place clean than in Politics, I can say that it's pretty much a daily occurrence for some nut or another to try and edit some page in some ridiculous fashion (you know, Bush is the devil, XYZ group is corrupt and here's a bunch of blogs saying why, look at my free energy device, et cetera et cetera), get blocked, then cry zomgfoul! the cabal is keeping me down!!! Quite frankly, if you can't differentiate yourself from the Time Cube guy when you're crying foul, your complaint (valid or otherwise) will be lost in a noise of stupidity. (Tips for standing out: Be rational and collected, try to be calm, and drop the zomgopressed!!! angle.)

Re:Wikipedia edit dispute occurs, more at eleven (3, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613167)

I notice there was no reference to using Wikipedia's own complaint processes to try and resolve the issue - just the usual edit, edit, get blocked, complain about it on your blog pattern.

You clearly didn't read the entire article. I suggest you go back and finish it. FYI, it's 5 pages long.

Re:Wikipedia edit dispute occurs, more at eleven (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613213)

I read the whole thing, albeit quickly. It seemed like the only attempt at contacting the admins was made by The Register looking for comments on the argument, but I'll double check.

Re:Wikipedia edit dispute occurs, more at eleven (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613247)

Yep, he put some "unflattering" comments into the article regarding his Wiki sparring partner, and was banned for it. We have it on his word that this was part of a spectacularly ill-advised effort to get the guy he just insulted to perform the dispute escalation. So he was an asshole, or a moron. Your pick, but either way he didn't try to escalate the edit conflict.

Nothing new... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21612739)

Lots of people maintain their own page on wikipedia

See this person for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atul_Chitnis [wikipedia.org]

He has managed to remove all controversial comments about him.

See the talk page for details
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Atul_Chitnis [wikipedia.org]

Am I missing something? (1)

Hillview (1113491) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612837)

as mentioned here, http://o-smear.blogspot.com/2007/11/spam-what-spam.html [blogspot.com] - at least a portion of the "censored" content appeared to be links to Overstock.com products as advertised for sale. Hm, that reminds me.. I want a spam sammich!

A very good thing (4, Insightful)

franois-do (547649) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612843)

Wikipedia is like a garden : it is not fixed once and for all, and you have to keep fighting continously in order to keep it healthy and tidy. To this respect it does not differ much of our own organisms.

The defense or truth by presenting all point of views with the origin of each one is both the goal of the Wikipedia and of a vigorous, sane society. "Germ-free" have probably no real future in a living world.

Is Anyone Really Surprised? (3, Insightful)

aquatone282 (905179) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612853)

Anytime you put a group of humans together, a pecking order will be established and the group will establish and enforce its own set of informal rules, often overriding any formal rules the group may have set forth to guide its actions and behavior.

It doesn't matter if its the local garden club or an open source project - leaders will emerge and their followers will do almost anything to protect the leader's position in the hopes of protecting their own elevated ranking.

the result of the social experiment. (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613319)

Good observation!

The number of edit on wikipedia is going down. one reason can be that on the most popular topics everything has been written. But i think the real trouble is that wiki/fanbboys-regulars are busy applying their rule this is spam, and this is vandalism, original research, and in the end they forget the `bold edit` guideline. As a result new editors will be scared of, and the current editors will tell to themselves they are doing a fine job. new editors and old editors both are right in their POV.

if you dont like wikipidia no more. GO and Multiply the nonsense [uncyclopedia.org] or publish a book or a blog, and buy a real encyclopedia.

Since Wikipedia is So Popular (4, Insightful)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612919)

I think it's necessary for those who are in decision making positions step out from behind the shadows and start making decisions in a more transparent way as part of some sort of formal Wiki council. It doesn't make sense for such a popular public resource to be controlled behind the scenes without any mechanism available to promote responsibility and accountability of the powers involved. And while I'm on the subject, am I the only one who absolutely detests the name Jimbo?

Re:Since Wikipedia is So Popular (1)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613029)

"I think it's necessary for those who are in decision making positions step out from behind the shadows and start making decisions in a more transparent way as part of some sort of formal Wiki council."

They do. [wikipedia.org] (I'm on it)

Re:Since Wikipedia is So Popular (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613161)

Second your suggestion of more transparency at the Wikipedia. There really needs to be a more obvious "these are the guys who can fix your problems or kick your ass, this is how you contact them, this is what they're working on" thing going on there. At the moment, it's mostly publicly readable, but split over various talk pages and debates in obscure parts of the Wikipedia: namespace.

Stories like this are hurting credibility (4, Insightful)

Ignorant Aardvark (632408) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612937)

Look, stories like this are seriously hurting The Register's credibility, and now Slashdot's as well for reposting this nonsense credulously. I can't believe anyone is even able to say "The Wikipedia Cabal" with a straight face. Wikipedia is fractured into many small groups and cliques just like the rest of human society (trust me, I know, I'm a Wikipedia administrator). All that's going on here is there is some dispute between a certain group of Wikipedians and some other people. I'm not going to say that either side is innocent because neither is. But to paint it as some gigantic conspiracy, with Wikipedia being ruled and dictated by some secret monolithic cabal, is hogwash.

Re:Stories like this are hurting credibility (3, Insightful)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613153)

> The Register's credibility

Tell me you didn't type that with a straight face.

No, Wikipedia isn't being "ruled and dictated" by some "secret monolithic cabal". It's just got a bureacracy that's developed its own impenetrable code, and makes arbitrary decisions that act to reinforce their own feelings of mutual belonging in their weird little clique, regardless of whether it has any real positive impact on Wikipedia.

Sure, there are good admins on WP. Jimbo Wales and his little entourage are not among them.

Re:Stories like this are hurting credibility (2, Informative)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613273)

Look, stories like this are seriously hurting The Register's credibility, and now Slashdot's as well for reposting this nonsense credulously.
Wrong on two levels.

1. The Register -- what credibility?
2. Nonsense? -- Stories like this are essential - it's called "freedom of the press". Obviously some Wikipedians don't like that sort of vandalism... um, I mean thing.

At least The Register (for all its many faults) and Slashdot do attempt to get the truth about Wikipedia out there. That's very important, considering the kind of people who appear to be running Wikipedia.

Summary for the impatient (3, Insightful)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612991)

Employee of overstock.com spams Wikipedia, uses lots of sockpuppets to avoid being blocked, and uses spyware to infect at least one user. Wikipedia blocks him. The Reg writes an article defending said employee and attacking Wikipedia (which Slashdot promptly reposts).

Wikipedia Destroyed (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21612999)

When Wikipedia is destroyed,
it won't be from without,
but from within!

IP Address bans do not work (1)

Joe U (443617) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613293)

A p2p app designed to bypass Wikipedia IP bans would destroy wikipedia a lot quicker from the outside and completely trash their method of tracking.

Simply, you run an app and whenever you go to wikipedia it routes through someone elses computer. I'll call it 'wikiproxia'.

Animal Farm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21613053)

...anybody remember that book from High School? Seems kinda familiar, no?

Well, easy way to punish Wikipedia: (1)

blcamp (211756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613135)


Just have /. post stories on them about every 10 minutes or so.

At the very least, thier servers will get a good workout.

One other idea: make some addition contributions to any article they have regarding Censorship, Freedom of Speech, etc...

yet more toxic fallout from overstock.com (2, Interesting)

Tom Womack (8005) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613147)

This is just another part of the slow-motion meltdown of overstock.com, and the 'naked short-selling' financial conspiracy theory. There seem to be a lot of financial conspiracy theories around at the moment, presumably since there is some degree of actual financial chaos in the background, and the things financiers have demonstrably got away with are crazy enough that it's difficult to reject conspiracy theories on the mere grounds of strangeness in appearance.

Disclaimer: yes, I write stuff on wikipedia, my handle is fivemack. Mostly I write about chemistry; it's pretty clear that wikipedia is the most comprehensive and reliable site for chemistry on the Web, since chemistry is advanced stamp-collecting and wikipedia is a superb medium for presenting stamps in multiple series. The science side of wikipedia is a wonderful resource, and doesn't seem too prone to the kind of lunacy that afflicts other parts of the encyclopedia; people have less heated feelings about the melting-point of tellurium or the carcinogenicity of tetramethylhydrazine than they do about whether Mount Ararat is a Turkish or an Armenian mountain.

Blocking IP ranges (2, Funny)

Tx (96709) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613151)

It's vaguely worth mentioning that I've been blocked from posting on /. in a similar manner a couple of times. My ISP forces traffic through it's transparent proxies, and /. seems quite happy to block an entire proxy. Fortunately it doesn't seem to have happened rec##KR2F@F@$F$ {NO CARRIER}

Wikipedia is not a democracy, people (3, Interesting)

EriktheGreen (660160) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613175)

Wikipedia isn't a democracy, and I think the only people surprised by the way the admins operate are the ones with stars in their eyes.

Wikipedia is probably the most successful collaborative effort on the internet, surpassing the Linux kernel in size and complexity. Its editors and authors do a lot of great work, putting data out there and generally being fair and balanced.

But, it's not a church, it's not a publicly run trust, and there's no oversight committee. Jimbo Wales and Co. can do whatever they want.. it's their site. They can ban anyone they like for any reason, even if they publically claim to be even handed, fair, and open, and the worst they may be guilty of is lying. The real reason people are up in arms is that they are surprised about it.

We get lied to every day, by the government, church, our coworkers, neighbors, pretty much everyone. We sort of expect it, though. Very few people buy in to a religion wholesale and stop questioning anything related to it. Unless you're a fanatic and stupid to boot, you realize that some of it is crap. Even though churches claim that morality and truth are the highest law, and they don't lie, cheat, or steal.

People have let themselves believe (perhaps not consciously) that since wikipedia exists today, that we must have reached some kind of golden age of the Internet and mankind, that wikipedia will grow until it contains everything we know, and all will contribute to it, everyone will learn that being fair and true is the only way to live, and we'll all understand each other better.

But wikipedia lies like anyone else. It's not utopia. "Best" is a relative term.

Wikipedia is the biggest collaboration out there. But that doesn't mean it's made from pure angelic light trapped in circuits.... it's made of people, and people can be corrupt, biased, bigoted, jerks.

The main reason I've never contributed to Wikipedia is that I was burned in the past. Anyone remember CDDB? There are other examples. I've seen some recent positive press for Wikipedia in the recent announcement that the code will be GPL.... it's another step in the right direction.

Information wants to be free.

Erik

Quote (4, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613179)

This Jimmy Wales quote: "We aren't democratic."

That's one for future generations. That quote should haunt him for the rest of his career. It's right up there with all the ones Bill Gates and Ballmer have made, that are repeated here often.

Two words: "true colors".

I was going to add in the usual references to nazis and Ayn Rand and all the rest -- but honestly, Jimmy's quote says it all, and says it clearer. It's all you ever needed to know about Wikipedia.

sounds like (4, Insightful)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613211)

Sounds to me like the central problem is that after banning an abusive user with a genuine beef they then failed to take reasonable action on the genuine beef. As a result, two or three articles have become hopelessly corrupted and instead of freezing them in that state they should be declared hopelessly corrupted and removed.

Todays lesson: spotting bullshit. (0, Flamebait)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 6 years ago | (#21613239)

Before even beginning to RTFA, i knew this was gonna be a garbage article with nothing but assumptions. I wont say that wikipedia doesnt have problems, but whenever i see references to a "cabal" @ wikipedia, my bullshit-radar kicks in. Did everyone reading the article miss the point where Bagley vandalized another persons wikipedia article, and then wondered why he got banned? Im not an expert on dealing with issues @ wikipedia, but I'm going to take a wild stab and say that performing vandalism in order to get the attention of admins is a rather bad idea. Im gonna go a step further and saying that engaging in an edit war on another article doesnt help your reputation @ wikipedia. Bagley was behaving like a classic troll, regardless of the merits of his claim, and he was acting on a hunch--it states in the article that he wasnt even sure that Weiss was the one engaged in the edit war with him. Nothing to see here except more register.co.uk bullshit.

And Still Yet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21613295)

Numerous slashdot users will use wikipedia as a source to support the most absurd arguments.

The recent posting on stupid YouTube users applies as much to wikipedia as any other "collaborative" efforts of the same genre.

Yes, there are some great pages there, but you just can never trust any of them.
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