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The Internet

The Wikipedians Who Make it Happen 236

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the slightly-less-bent-than-noders dept.
Phoe6 writes "Many of us might have wondered who these crazy people are, spending lot of time at wikipedia and presenting us with such an invaluable information. Wired has decided to give some credits to the most active wikipedians, in their article titled Wiki becomes a way of life"
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The Wikipedians Who Make it Happen

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  • Quality! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tabkey12 (851759) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @11:42AM (#11877473) Homepage
    I always find the depth and quality of information on Wikipedia extremely helpful, but in my opinion, the care that is put into giving the background to anything from a medical condition to a technological term is truly amazing.

    Good to see that a few of these people are getting the recognition that they deserve!

  • Good for them (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @11:43AM (#11877482)
    About time people who did this got some praise. Damn fine work they do, and an invaluable source of info.
    • hey anonymous! glad to see you writing again. ladies and gents, this guy is one of wikipedia's biggest contributors. hell, hes one of the biggest contributors to slashdot, too!
    • Actually, in my opinion (as Wikipedia featured article director), I think that Lord Emsworth [wikipedia.org] probably has the strongest claim to "best writer", considering he's written about 50 featured articles (out of about 500, total); I think the next most anyone can claim is around 6 or 7.
  • Yikes. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Faust7 (314817) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @11:43AM (#11877491) Homepage
    "(I'll) tell you how you know you're a Wikipedian," he said. "You read any nonfiction book from the index end first. (And you think)...

    "...It's a good thing I don't have friends - then I wouldn't be able to do this!"
  • by mattmentecky (799199) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @11:45AM (#11877508)
    ...Obsessive compulsive disorder [wikipedia.org]


    Wouldnt it be ironic, if the OCD wiki, was edited, relentlessly?
  • by nurhussein (864532) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @11:45AM (#11877521) Homepage
    See, those Encyclopedists [wikipedia.org] are just a cover for a political group that wants to take over the internet through the science of psychohistory. And they actually revealed their plans on their own website too, but say it's "fiction" to make it seem like a hoax! Brilliant.

  • by Stradenko (160417) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @11:47AM (#11877537) Homepage
    page 1 [wired.com] of the article.

    The link in the post goes to page two for me ... not very nice.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @11:48AM (#11877551)
    Wow -- great idea to slashdot such a wonderful server when we KNOW it has bandwidth problems already...
    • by Jamesday (794888) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @11:59AM (#11877679)
      Don't worry about it. Slashdotting is insignificant to us. Typically adds only 150-300 hits per second. Apache web server CPU use [wikimedia.org] (we're about to buy 10 more), one of our Squid cache servers [wikimedia.org].

      Now, how many places can honestly say that a Slashdotting is insignificant (ducking from CmdrTaco)?:-)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @12:11PM (#11877767)
      talk of /.ing wikipedia kinda makes me laugh

      maybe it has happened in the past but wikipedia hardly notices /. now

      its a noticeable but small blip in the squids traffic to the squids and pretty much nothing at all beyond that

      there are two types of slashdotting:
      1: bandwidth slashdotting: wikipedia has a gigabit link that is not exactly heavilly utilised so this just isn't going to happen.

      2: server load slashdotting: (that is where a badly designed dynamic site can't keep up) squid pretty much takes care of making sure this doesn't happen (/.ers are very much a flash crowd they come they mostly view the same pages and then they go again if your site does seperate dynamic rendering for every pageview with no caching you are in trouble)

      the main reason the /. effect is so infamous is because of the types of sites /. targets wikipedia long ago passed the point where /. looks big

      http://www.alexa.com/site/site_stats/signup?site _u rl=wikipedia.org+slashdot.org&range=1y&widget=g&st yle=c&submitted=true&mode=graph&range=3m&amzn_id=

      wikipedia has had problems (power currupts power failure currupts absoloutely) and more recently some problems related to the software keeping transactions open too long whilst purging the squids and to a lesser extent hardware shortages. HOWEVER bandwidth and /. are NOT problems currently.
  • by Moby Cock (771358) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @11:48AM (#11877555) Homepage
    I think Wikipedia is excellent. It is amazing how much care is put into it. However, I also find it extraordinarily frustrating. The latency of it renders it pratically unusable. I hope that Google's bandwidth can help this because as it is, I find I do not use the wikipedia because of the hrrible lag.

    And before you flame on, I DID send a donation.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Stacey Greenstein" is a man! How the heck do you do an interview then manage to go to press with the wrong pronouns in places? Too bad wired isn't a wiki.

    Hey wired, good job on your homework!
  • by mmThe1 (213136) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @11:51AM (#11877582) Homepage
    While I appreciate the passion in these cases, a little word of advice for the (and would be) enthusiasts: be cautious about becoming an obsessive fixer on any of the wikis (be it Wikipedia, or any similar website.) The obsessive fixers are PITA, specifically, the ones who turn a blind eye towards opinion of others. Many flame wars have errupted on these websites, not all of them being constructive for the content.

    Be there. Contribute. But learn to read what others have to say. Let wikis evolve the way they are supposed to be. It's a website.

  • Kudos (Score:5, Funny)

    by MetaPhyzx (212830) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @11:51AM (#11877592)
    ..to the ladies and gents who do contribute to Wikipedia; I am grateful for thier work, as well as my 12 year old(especially on the Sunday before an assignment is due). I'd better get in the habit of contributing...=)
  • I give up. (Score:2, Insightful)

    I won't even start with the "dupe" stuff... can hardly blame you guys if wired.com is doing the same themselves. However, if you're going to have so many damn wikipedia articles, can't we at least get a wikipedia icon and category? You've done so for lamer subjects.
  • by wealthychef (584778) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @11:52AM (#11877604)

    Not meaning to be critical, but the article cited does not explain who these crazy people are. I don't exactly know whom the article is targeting at an audience, in fact. It publish a list of usernames with the number of submissions, along with brief snippets about two specific users. I was hoping to learn more about the actual type of person who is contributing, demographically.

    I realize this would have taken a lot of work and might even be impossible, but would have made a hell of a lot better article. :-) Easy for me to say, from the comfort of my office.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @11:56AM (#11877643)
    who is these crazy people are

    Heck. Where's the [edit] link to correct the typo? Can't wait for the wiki version of /. !!
    Hmm.
    /. ...
    wiki ...
    Er ... No. Forget it. :)
  • by Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @11:59AM (#11877674)
    As I was sitting here, playing Go, and thinking about another variation of game theory, another link finally solved the puzzle of the Slashdot conspiracy.

    Talking about the beginning of Wikipedia, I realized that this was posted on slashdot. Not long ago, I discovered that a moderator on slashdot was named Samzenpus, who is the second cousin twice removed of Snagglepus [slashdot.org]

    Well Snagglepus is famous for saying "Heavens to Mergatroid [freeserve.co.uk]

    Mergatroid was the sister of a guy in a band called Newcleus [discogs.com]

    The guy just happens to say [weddingvendors.com], and I quote:

    • "(Yeah, that's how you do it Cozmo) (You were right, kid, that's the way you do it) (Yeah, like did you see when he went in the corner) (And he started doin' this) (Wikki-wikki-wikki-wikki) (Wikki-wikki-wikki-wikki)"

    this song came out in the early eighties - a Paradox (how could a wiki exist in the eighties before wikis existed?). Cosmos, nucleus, wikis, it all makes sense now. Slashdot may look like an innocent little blog which slashdots servers from time to time, but they are in actuality trying to slashdot the universe

  • Google (Score:2, Redundant)

    by augustz (18082)
    Love Wikipedia, and especially the folks who put the content together!

    One thing though, it get's damn slow sometimes.

    Wikipedia should either hook up with google on some webserving or

    Google should grab a nightly dump and set up pedia.google.com

    Ignore the idiotic slashdot articles about google trying to take things over and lock things up. Wikipedia is licensed to prevent that, but also to allow sharing, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed they take google up on their hosting offer sooner rather then later
    • You might find the Developer's blog [livejournal.com] an interesting read. Also, Jamesday (our chief sysadmin) tells me that the 10 servers they ordered in January should be up and running by the end of the month.
  • by tabkey12 (851759) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @12:01PM (#11877694) Homepage
  • wikipedia skeptic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by donnyspi (701349) <junk5@donn[ ]i.com ['ysp' in gap]> on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @12:04PM (#11877721) Homepage
    I seem to be the only one so far to write a semi-negative comment about Wikipedia. I have found numerous errors when reading articles. I personally do not believe that the wikipedia gets better as more and more people edit and contribute. If I were a teacher I would never allow anyone to cite from Wikipedia in a report.

    People should use caution when trusting info from there due to the fact that anyone can slip a bit of misinformation in there without anyone noticing for months or years.

    • by p3d0 (42270)
      You are absolutely right. Use Wikipedia as a starting point for some hints, but if it's important, confirm everything you read there with reliable sources.
    • by LMCBoy (185365) *
      If you see an error in a wikipedia article and you do not edit the article and correct the error, then you are not using wikipedia correctly. No wonder you're dissatisfied!
      • But not everyone has the time or even the inclination to fix everything they see. Speaking for myself, I'd rather just find a more trustworthy source, whose biases are known, and that lacks the glaring, ridiculous errors plaguing Wikipedia.
        • That's a fine, valid position. Go find your "authoritative source" and be happy.

          Not that I can claim to speak for wikipedians, but I imagine it's the same as most open-source projects: we need participants, not mere users. If you're looking for a product, any number of companies will sell you a fine product. If you want to be part of something, jump on board. That's the wiki way, the open source way.
          • Sure, but then you're admitting the project is nothing more than an interesting social experiment. And that's probably an accurate assessment. I'd be embarrassed to call the thing an "encyclopedia"--to me, that term implies something with a greater degree of accuracy and reliability than Wikipedia provides (in my experience).

            But frankly, I'd be sad to see the well-meaning efforts of so many people spent on a social experiment, because there is a lot of great stuff on Wikipedia; it's just that when you have
    • If I were a teacher I would never allow anyone to cite from Wikipedia in a report.

      Although 99.5% of the information is accurate. Researchers need to go beyond wikipedia articles to better ascertain the validity of its information. It's a good starting point. There is information in wikipedia that would be difficult to obtain without access to a good research library or personal access to an expert, however. It contains a lot of information that could not be found anywhere in a typical public library.

    • A well written wikipedia article should cite its sources. If some of these are web sources, the act of verifying the facts is actually quicker than verifying the facts in a print encyclopedia (because they can be wrong as well, particularly out-of-date).
    • by ratsnapple tea (686697) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @12:48PM (#11878129)
      You're not the only skeptic. I've found so many instances of vandalism and factual errors (however innocent) in subjects of which I already have a passing knowledge, I shudder to think of how much misinformation I'd pick up trying to learn about anything I'm not familiar with... which sort of defeats the point of an encyclopedia, doesn't it?
    • Re:wikipedia skeptic (Score:3, Interesting)

      by krgallagher (743575)
      "I have found numerous errors when reading articles."

      I just recently discovered Wikipedia and think it is great! The way I found it was through Trillian [ceruleanstudios.com]. When I am in chat Trillian highlights words that have Wikipedia articles. Once I found it I immediately looked up my favorite subject, beer [realbeer.com]! Like you I found many mistakes. Of course I never completely believe anything I read even from so called experts. I still think it is a great site and project. As far as a teacher letting students use it as a

    • I have found numerous errors when reading articles.

      And did you bother to fix any of those errors?
  • by Morris Thorpe (762715) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @12:08PM (#11877744)
    From the article: "Wikipedia is ... democratizing knowledge on a massive scale,"

    So...if Wikipedia had been around way back when... the "world-is-flat" crowd would have edited out the silly "world-is-round" guy, right?

    This is what keeps me from giving Wikipedia much credibility.

    I know all publications are in danger of being biased by the writer. However, I can decide to place my trust on that one writer or entity. With Wikipedia, there's no way to know past agendas or the like.
    • The vast majority of topcis are non-controvercial. While trusting Wikipedia on
      controvercial topics might be dangerous, most articles are trustworthy.

      That said, you should never use Wikipedia as your sole source for anything
      that really matters, but for satisfying idle curiosity, Wikipedia is fine.
    • So...if Wikipedia had been around way back when... the "world-is-flat" crowd would have edited out the silly "world-is-round" guy, right?

      No. The idea that the flat earth theory was ever widely accepted by is a myth. Auguste Compte and others laid the ground work for the "theory" in the 1800s with anti-religious sentiments that overstated the whole idea of "war" between science and religion.

      The idea that Colombus was opposed by a vast Flat Earth opposition was invented by Washington Irving in his book on

      • My understanding is that the grain of truth in that story is that Columbus was opposed by skeptics who believed (correctly) that the planet was too large to make sailing west to India practical. Columbus badly underestimated the distance and then found Hispaniola where he expected to reach India.
    • Case in point: American Wire Gauge (AWG)

      I was looking for a table of AWG to diameter, which it has.

      It was the first paragraph that rubbed me the wrong way:

      American wire gauge (AWG) is a way of specifying wire sizes, where each gauge represents a different wire diameter. It was originally applied to non-ferrous, conducting wire, but lately is commonly used to specify body piercing jewelry sizes in the United States.

      Maybe AWG is also used for body piercing sizes (which are wires), but the second sentenc

      • It was the first paragraph that rubbed me the wrong way: ...

        So, click on the 'Edit' button which was just a few inches away from the text. Insert a phrase that makes the statement more neutral, without removing details others have added.

        • American wire gauge (AWG) is a way of specifying wire sizes, where each gauge represents a different wire diameter. It was originally applied to non-ferrous, conducting wire, but lately is commonly used
        • in diverse related applications, such as a standard to specify bod
        • If you know why it rubs you the wrong way, what have you got to lose in improving the content?

          The opportunity to flame without risk, is all. You hit "[edit]". and you're exposing your work and knowledge to the judgment of others. It's so much safer to just camp and snipe.

          There are a lot of folks who think wiki is just one huge bedroom, and they're all eunuchs commenting on the participants' lack of sexual skill and style.

          C'mon, folks, you think you know so much more than us? Prove it; put your brains where

        • If you know why it rubs you the wrong way, what have you got to lose in improving the content?

          Actually, I did just that. But that misses the OP's point -- the credibility is only as good as the writer, and anyone can be a writer. Wikipedia's own disclaimer sums it up very, very well.

          Many people will argue things as true, even if it's just their opinion or something they heard. That's why we have and need research and peer review.

          I think Wikipedia is a great idea, but it is not without problems.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      So...if Wikipedia had been around way back when... the "world-is-flat" crowd would have edited out the silly "world-is-round" guy, right? This is what keeps me from giving Wikipedia much credibility.

      I don't see how this is different that a traditional encylopedia. With Wikipedia you can look at the history and see the debate. With a traditional one, you put full trust in an editor.

    • To test whether wikipedia is being moron democratized I looked up the physics section checking for newtonian vs Relativity based theories.

      Both are expressed, Netonian is further listed as the historical view.

      So all the old people who grew up before Einstein was proven right haven't broken that one at least.

      Wikipedia doesn't seem concerned by becoming cumbersome if it can express 2 valid and posible viewpoints.
    • by pilkul (667659) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @03:37PM (#11880138)
      So...if Wikipedia had been around way back when... the "world-is-flat" crowd would have edited out the silly "world-is-round" guy, right?

      No. The Wikipedia article would've said roughly "Many people, including X, Y, Z and believe the Earth is flat, but others (such as A, B, C) believe the Earth is round. Here are the arguments for and against each position."

      That's the meaning of Wikipedia's NPOV policy. Only if no one believed in a round Earth at all would the viewpoint not be mentioned.

      • To amplify this answer with an example, the current wikipedia entry for Earth both mentions the flat earth theory and links to a wikipedia entry for Flat Earth. Flat Earth gives a lengthy recap of the theory's history, proponents, and contemporary proponents.

        If a controversy pops up, usually in the form of edit wars, there are a few mechanisms for calming the issue. Edits toward a NPOV perspective are attempted, temporary suspension of edits to allow interested parties to calm, and a locked edit by some

  • Quite some time back, mopeds in India used to be called "wikis" or "vickys". I have no clue why, for i haven't seen a moped brand with the same name. This usage has also stopped of late, and most such mopeds are simply called mopeds or scootys.

    A moped, in the Indian context, is a 2-wheeled motorized vehicle, usually with a 50cc engine, with a top speed of perhaps 50kmph, and with a mileage that would put any hybrid vehicle to shame (over 100km per litre). It also has a strange design. It looks like a motor
  • by Sundroid (777083) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @12:21PM (#11877873) Homepage
    What these Wikipedians do not realize is that they are pioneers (I'm hesitant to use the term "revolutionary soldiers") in the realm of knowledge gathering, preservation, and updating. And it is this capability to "instantaneously update", which Wikipedia has over paper-copy encyclopedias, that is the most precious characteristics about it.

    The first edition of Encyclopedia Britannica came out in 1768; Wikipedia first appeared in 2001; in terms of readership, we know who is kicking whose butt.
  • by MicroBerto (91055) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @12:33PM (#11877988)
    Some people wonder why they do it, but I completely understand. I live in a city [wikipedia.org] that I love dearly, but its Wiki article wasn't up to speed.

    So I added to it what I could... and you know what? It felt GOOD! I hadn't really done anything worthwhile that week, and I felt that I made a great contribution to society!

    So don't knock it til you try it. There's a great sense of accomplishment in giving knowledge to other people, even if it's something as trivial as finding the best burgers in town.

    And now I see that someone took away my link to the best burgers in town. I'll fix that.

  • by SimianOverlord (727643) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @12:40PM (#11878043) Homepage Journal
    ...are the ones going around cleaning up other peoples messes. Occassionally I find it entertaining to drop into Wikipedia: Vandalism in progress [wikipedia.org] and just look at the constant erosion of Wikipedia articles by schoolkids, dedicated trolls, the misinformed, or just the dogmatic.

    To be honest though, it really shakes my confidence in Wikipedia articles, I mean how much is actually missed by the policemen? You've got multiple vandalisms from a few well known addresses, it's not a rare problem. A user doing one or two vandalisms in a bunch of legitimate edits is going to, on the whole, escape censure.

    I really only trust articles which have been locked from editing as they have been validated repeatedly and are immune to the random vandalism that a little looked at page must inevitably gain.
    • Vandalism (Score:4, Insightful)

      by llywrch (9023) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @01:45PM (#11878748) Homepage Journal
      > To be honest though, it really shakes my confidence in Wikipedia articles, I mean how much is actually missed
      > by the policemen?

      It's a fact that the quality of Wikipedia will always be uneven -- but so is the quality of our general knowledge: we know some topics in far greater detail than others. This is due to the vagarities of human interest: some topics attract more people & resources than others.

      This same principle applies to fighting vandalism on Wikipedia. Articles that are importnat will be more closely watched for vandalism than those that are not. For example, if you wanted to write some nonsense about an imaginary or little-known village in Africa or South America, chances are that should it escape notice in the first day or two, this nonsense may persist for months or years. But then, if no one knows about this -- or cares -- what damage does it do?

      This issue reminds me of the alleged practice of encyclopedia companies long ago, who would create articles about fictional cities or towns in order to catch illegal copying: if no one consults these articles, does it truly harm anyone?

      Geoff
    • by Raul654 (453029)
      Fixing vandalism is the easy part - 99 times out of 100, it requires an admin simply to click Rollback and occasionally to block the perpretrator. (about 4 clicks total). On the other hand, there are some very nasty clean up jobs (although, for good reason, I won't mention any specifics here) that require quite a bit more work -- 2-3 minutes per instance for an admin who knows the system well.
  • by Drog (114101) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @12:56PM (#11878204) Homepage
    For anyone interested, my site (The World Forum [theworldforum.org]) has been officially cooperating with Wikinews [wikinews.org] to offer a place for people to discuss some of the stories posted there. If there is ever a story posted on Wikinews that you'd like to discuss, but it's not cross-posted to The World Forum yet, you can submit it yourself (word-for-word, it's allowed).

    I posted a Wikinews story yesterday entitled "CIA Sending Suspects Overseas For 'Rendition' [theworldforum.org]", which received almost 2000 hits due to being displayed on the front page of Google News for most of the day. This helps give Wikinews more readership, since they are not listed in Google News. Sadly, however, it does not result in increased discussion, since most people visiting from Google News are not people interested in posting comments.

  • rambot! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by istewart (463887) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @03:21PM (#11879968)
    So that explains why every little town has a default page containing census data! I honestly thought somebody was going through and copying and pasting all the census data into Wikipedia by hand.

    I must say I appreciate the Jack Kerouac reference in my hometown's article [wikipedia.org], though.
    • Derek programmed a bot to do this with US census data, but there are some users who are doing this manually for cities in other countries. Yeesh :)

      Also, (and I talked with him about this when I met him in person) it's going to be interesting to see what happens in 2010 when the next census data comes out.
  • by LibrePensador (668335) on Tuesday March 08, 2005 @04:37PM (#11880891) Journal
    On paper Wikipedia is a wonderful idea and it has some good stuff in it. Yet in my experience, it is far from the democratic or scholarly endeavor that it purports to be.

    While this is based on my experience with some edits and corrections that I did as an anonymous user, it was disheartening enough that I decided to stop wasting my time on it.

    I discovered a number of factually incorrect statements on a technical article. I corrected those and wrote the corrections in clear and concise language. For each correction, I provided a solid reference, less than 10 minutes after my extensive corrections had been saved, they had been reverted back to their original state.

    I figure that if people want to live in ignorance, why waste my time stopping them? Yet there are two things that bother me about Wikipedia:

    1) A well-funded "think-tank" could hire a hundred people and have them work on wikipedia for one or two years. Their concerted effort would be enough to distort much of the already contributed materials and they could work in tandem under a veil of anonymity that would allow them to support each other in a way that democracy would appear to be at work.

    2) If you read Kuhn, you'll realize that scientific breakthroughs, what he termed "scientific revolutions" often happen by breaking with the established dogma/doctrine/explanandum of the era. Wikipedia's focus on consensus-building and catering to lower-common denominator is bound to favor the common wisdom.

    3) Ultimately, real researchers are paid good money for a reason. Getting published in the peer-reviewed journals in any discipline is not easy and ultimately it ensures a certain level of quality control, one which no doubt often brings other problems in its wake such as the fact that many journals also are run by a clique of insiders with an agenda, but even these biases are usually known and accounted for in academic circles.

    4) Wikipedia is a fun and would succeed if it would just sell itself as a fun interesting social project. It can even be resourceful at times. Authorative or trustworthy, it is not.

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