Beta

# Slashdot: News for Nerds

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### 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!

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### The World's Worst Planes: Aircraft Designs That Failed

One of my FAVE failures: McDonnell XF-85 Goblin

What WERE they thinking?

They were probably thinking it would be awesome to deploy a swarm of small fighter planes by dropping them from a bomber. In which they were absolutely right, it hardly gets any more awesome than that. Unfortunately, it also doesn't get much more impractical than that, which was apparently casually brushed aside to satisfy the rule of cool. Unfortunately, reason set in before it was taken in production.

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### FLOSS Codecs Emerge Victorious In Wikimedia Vote

I thought their mission was building an online encyclopedia. (Or as the Wikimedia Foundation puts it more generally, "... to bring free educational content to the world."

Free in that statement is about free as in freedom, not free as in beer

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### Wikipedia's Participation Problem

Re: How Does One Become an Editor? (372 comments)

I didn't know that the fire mentioned above was controversial, it didn't seem so from the original post. If it was, it was phrased rather misleading imo. But this experiment sounds fun too. Pick a clearly slanted article, and I'll make the anonymous edit.

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### Wikipedia's Participation Problem

"show me every page in wikitext mode" is a setting that virtually nobody would want though. I know I wouldn't want that. If that seriously would be your preference, you might be the only one. Always on visual editor (that doesn't suck and loads fast). Now that would be awsome.

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### Wikipedia's Participation Problem

Re:How Does One Become an Editor? (372 comments)

So, let's put the hypothesis to the test. Which article was it? Then we can try it out, and see what happens.

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### Wikipedia's Participation Problem

You would see an unholy mess of wikitext rather than a parsed article. It's slowly getting there though. There is a visual editor - though it's far from good yet, and couldn't handle the server load of being always on. For now, you're still stuck pressing edit.

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### Wikipedia's Participation Problem

Nope. They have started a slow burn of all articles not up to their dogmatic community standards. Witness the thousands of pages of pagan-related material that a couple editors took upon themselves to remove, and then lock the discussion pages so nobody could comment on it while doing so.

Wow, really? It is incredibly bad for a discussion page to be locked. Could you give a couple of examples? Heck, even one example would be great. If this is realy true, it should be fixed immediately.

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### Wikipedia's Participation Problem

Re:The established editors are the problem. (372 comments)

A huge percentage of edits on Wikipedia are vandalism.

[citation needed]

A huge percentage of new articles are ads.

[citation needed]

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### Wikipedia's Participation Problem

Re:How Does One Become an Editor? (372 comments)

The goal of wikipedia's admins is to drive off new editors, and anyone who tells you differently is likely a wikipedia admin.

And if they don't, they're not a real admin, right?

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### Wikipedia's Participation Problem

Re:How Does One Become an Editor? (372 comments)

Sometimes that does happen too fast - but most what is fast-deleted is in fact junk. What were the articles about? Can you remember the titles, or failing that, your Wikipedia user name? I can restore them for you if you want (and they aren't junk, obviously)

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### Despite Global Release, Breaking Bad Heavily Pirated

Evedence of a massive success (443 comments)

wikipedia indicates that there were 5.9 million viewers in the U.S. alone, vs 2.93 million for the season opening episode. I think one can easily call this a massive success. The piracy issues seems minor in comparison.

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### Despite Global Release, Breaking Bad Heavily Pirated

Its the convenience, stupid (443 comments)

I'm not much of a tv watcher myself, but the show I do tend to watch, Dr. Who, is free to air where I live. Without commercials too. I don't think I've ever watched it on live tv, I always pirate it purely for convenience. As long as the most convenient thing is pirating, I will continue doing so. For music on the other hand, the most convenient thing is generally spotify, so I pay the reasonable price for a subscription. The things not on spotify I pirate. Afaik Netflix is not yet available here in the Netherlands (it wasn't the last time I checked, about a year back), but if it were and there was a subscription that fit my consumer pattern, I wouldn't mind paying something for it either. Digital on demand media is getting there. Its just a matter of time. The traditional media will either adapt to the demands of a new generation of consumers, or die out and be replaced by those who do understand how to deliver what I want.

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### Ask Slashdot: Should More Math and Equations Be Used In the Popular Press?

If someone can't understand "a=F/m" (or "acceleration=force/mass"), do you really think they have any idea what "acceleration is inversely proportional to mass" means?

Yes. But that's not really to the point. The point is, that equations break the flow of prose, and don't work well in explaining things, other than in a purely mathematical context. If you are not speaking about mathematics (and nobody other than mathematicians really do, and the OP is rather math related, but is not about the math of the uncertainty principle but its applications) it's best to keep equations out of it. This is obviously a rule of thumb and there are bound to be exceptions where using an equation is actually beneficial to the global understanding of the issue, but these cases are rare, and far in between. For the OP for example, I agree that not using equations was probably the right choice, though I would have made different editorial choices in the prose, and possibly using one equation (to wit, \sigma_{x}\sigma_{p} \geq \frac{\hbar}{2} ) could maybe have been defensible, but still a choice I would have disagreed with.

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### Ask Slashdot: Should More Math and Equations Be Used In the Popular Press?

I would argue that very few to no popular articles need the exact formula for black body specific intensity. But if they do, the formulaic form is clearly superior. It's likelier that the article would focus on a specific aspect off blackbody radiation. To wit, I would expect the majority to talk about the ultraviolet catastrophe, and I wouldn't explain it in terms of equations at all, neither in symbolic nor in written out form.

1 year,1 hour
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### Ask Slashdot: Should More Math and Equations Be Used In the Popular Press?

Yes, they do a poor job in explaining things to people who don't know what the terms in the equation mean; raw math often says little if anything, by itself, about the real world, as you have to connect the mathematical items to items in the real world.

But, BTW:

I'd much rather read an article containing "because acceleration is inversely proportional to mass" than one containing "because F=ma"

...I'd rather read an article containing "because, for the same amount of force applied, acceleration is inversely proportional to mass"; my mass is much less than that of a Porsche 911, but I can't even get to 100 km/h on foot or on a bicycle, much less do so as fast as a 911 can. Given equal driving skill and the same driving techniques, however, I could probably get to 100 km/h in a 911 slightly faster than somebody weighing 100kg could in the same 911.

depending on the context that could be a good idea, though an example doesn't immediately come to mind. Completeness may be sacrificed for clarity if there is sufficient context. my above example is obviously a snippet without context, and as such is quite incorrect on it's own, but would also never occur in practice on its own. All context that I can imagine would make it sufficiently clear, especially since nobody would be thinking that acceleration would be a function of mass alone. It's almost like writing articles is a profession that requires more than stringing words together that are correct.

1 year,8 hours
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### Ask Slashdot: Should More Math and Equations Be Used In the Popular Press?

Without math, it's impossible to convey what you're trying to convey. The press is way too dumbed down already, and many times I've read science stories that are just plain misleading as they try to simplify the message.

Putting equations into news stories means that some people won't understand them, but most importantly it will encourage some of those people to investigate further, and learn how to read equations. If there's no math in the popular press in the first place, then there's no incentive for people to improve themselves.

no equations doesn't mean no math. Equations generally do a pretty poor job in explaining things. I'd much rather read an article containing "because acceleration is inversely proportional to mass" than one containing "because F=ma"

1 year,8 hours
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### Wikimedia Rolls Out Its WYSIWYG Visual Editor For Logged-in Wikipedia Users

I don't know about that. If wikipedia had kept on growing it could have something like 200m articles and hundreds of thousands of editors. I'd love to be able to get a good or even so-so quality article on every piece of networking equipment. Get a good or even so-so quality article on every command in every programming language. Get a good or even so-so quality article on every major building in the world. How are the almost 200m articles better for me?

It was a direct result on the ~2006-2010 "lolwikipedia so unreliable" what was getting heard more and more (notice how you rarely hear this anymore), for better and for worse.

You can't.

We might. Vast changes will be needed though, and in a manner that is carried by the current community (or else everyone will leave, and the current content will also start to degrade rapidly. Say what you want about the current community, but they are excellent at policing stuff). The idea for a separate draft namespace has been floating around. I don't really mind the idea of making the main mainspace less Wiki, wiki isn't the right model for mature articles anyway. Getting back a 'real' wiki with all its pros and cons where Wikipedia (which will then be a 'fake' wiki; it will run wiki software, but not a wiki philosopy) can cherry pick from isn't so bad. Maybe this could even be its own project. I'm not sure yet. As long as that wiki/namespace is not scared of being called unreliable and won't think they have to respond to that they'll be fine. Being unreliable is fine, as long as you're clear about it, name the pros and cons, and people know where they stand when using the content. Spam might still be a problem. I'm not sure how big of a problem. As long as you're relatively invisible, spammers don't take interest.

1 year,27 days
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### Wikimedia Rolls Out Its WYSIWYG Visual Editor For Logged-in Wikipedia Users

Ask anyone who was editing then. The stuff that happened in 2006 / 7 never would be allowed today. I was constantly able to get good quality articles from knowledgeable insiders and later get them properly referenced. Today that's simply not allowed.

This is the important part. I think the Wikimodel is an amazing model at creating content to solidly mediocre to pretty decent levels. To a very good level, not so much. Maintaining a very good level, even much less so. When we started getting more articles across that line (and I'm not fooling myself thinking that a significant fraction is, but a significant absolute number certainly is), the Wikimodel started breaking down, and the community slowly moved away from it. Maybe it will please you to know the jubilant spirit of ~2008-2010 where we felt we were invincible is gone, and many acknowledge we do indeed have a problem with our community. The threshold for joining the community has almost certainly risen. We're working on it though, and to attempt to steer back to the original topic, making at least one hindrance easier to overcome - the arcane editing interface.

With the increased readership and social relevance of Wikipedia, the community started to care more about the overall quality of the project. A bad article was more and more seen as a problem, rather than as a start for something great. It was pretty much the price of success; one could even argue that as much earlier Wikipedia was better for its community, so much better is it now for its readers. How we can get the energy and spunk of the earlier years back, while maintaining the relevance and overall higher quality of the more recent years is the great challenge Wikipedia currently faces.

At the same time, while I agree there is a lot of bad, the situation isn't quite as grim as you make it out to be. I think that your picture of Wikipedia of 2006-2007 is a little too rosy too. Maybe the ugly was already there, or was at least there in part, but you just hadn't really run in to it. I created my account in 2005 and ran for admin in 2008, so I was certainly around during those years. When I look over the history of the Bristol Palin article, I see a prod, which was removed by the very next editor (not you), and an AfD which, well, saying one had to fight ones way to keep it is not really the reality of that discussion.

1 year,27 days
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### Wikimedia Rolls Out Its WYSIWYG Visual Editor For Logged-in Wikipedia Users

Re:Will it have a button... (71 comments)

That would have helped, but I would have still walked away upset that basically an admin can try to abuse the system without any sort of consequence. I think a more appropriate response would have been, "here's a pretty baseless accusation of sockpuppetry; let's look into this some more."

On the other hand, when an editor has genuine concerns someone might be abusing the system by sockpuppeting, even is misguided, we shouldn't be discouraging them of expressing them, and having someone take a look at that. There should be no consequence on being mistaken, and acting upon it. There is a lot of funny business going on. A problem is that the request for a check in itself feels like an accusation. An apology from the admin in question, or the denying SPI clerk might have been ice though. I'm going to give this some thought, and see if I can come up with something reasonable.

1 year,28 days

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