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Got a Question for Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales? 303

Posted by Roblimo
from the even-Congressional-staffers-are-welcome dept.
We did our first Slashdot interview with Jimmy Wales back in 2001. We did another one in 2004. In 2005 we ran a feature article about Wikipedia's history. Now Wikipedia is in the news again, so this seems like a perfect time to make Jimmy Wales our first Slashdot Interview "three-peater." Ask whatever you like. Expect answers to 10 or 12 of the highest-moderated questions by next week.
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Got a Question for Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales?

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  • by Uber Banker (655221) * on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:03PM (#14660571)
    I was a user and contributor to Wikipedia (en.wikipedia). Now I'm located in China and Wikipedia is nationally blocked, as are most caches (the Google cache work-around [slashdot.org] was eliminated a few days after becoming widly known). There have been blocks in the past, the present one in force since late October.

    I was curious what Wikipedia's approach to blocking in the PRC was. Note that the entire wikipedia.org site is blocked, not only zh.wikipedia.org. Also 'wikis' are not blocked outright, such as blogs were in 2005 (for using 'blog' in the URL, a block which has now been reversed, now only selective blogs are blocked).

    Does the Wikipedia organisation have any plan, such as a work-around or an agreement for a selective ban (such as blocking zh.wikipedia.org only, thus preventing casual browsing by Chinese internet users)? Has any analysis been done on the PRC's blocking of Wikipedia, and if so what is the status?

    This message is sent from inside the PRC, where /. is viewable but any discussion on the issue from wikipedia.org is not. If this has been discussed on wikipedia.org then please excuse my redundancy, it would be sweet if you copied that discussion into this thread.
    • by stupidfoo (836212) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:21PM (#14660748)
      Official PRC Memo:
       
      There is no Wikipedia. There has never been Wikipedia.
       
      End of Memo
  • Priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dslauson (914147) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:05PM (#14660592) Journal
    What do you feel is more important to Wikipedia: Open-ness or accuracy? Do you feel that you have to make sacrifices in one to get the other? Has it been difficult to strike a balance?
    • Openness and accuracy are not mutually exclusive. Often times when we have increased openness and a greater availability of information, we end up having more accurate information.

      The ongoing war in Iraq is a perfect example. Those who had access to only the limited information provided by the American media, for instance, would not have gotten a very accurate picture of what was going on. Those of us in Europe, on the other hand, had a far wider variety of news sources to choose from, and hence were able t
  • Free or Not? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sub Zero 992 (947972) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:06PM (#14660596) Homepage
    Will Wikipedia ever become comercialised? Is a "Premium" Wikipedia planned for fee paying users? Will advertisements be shown on Wikipedia? Will "Paid Content" be introduced for marketeers? If not, what steps will be taken to ensure that Wikipedia remains committed to the spirit and goals of free, community contributed copyleft publishing?
    • Well since Wikimedia has so far been released under the GPL, and all of the content ever contributed to Wikipedia under the GFDL, it would only take 15 minutes for any other organization to pick up where a comercialized-Wikipedia left off.
  • by Black Parrot (19622) * on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:07PM (#14660606)
    ...but somebody edited it to say something else.
  • Serious Changes? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PoeticExplosion (943918) <poeticexplosion@gm a i l .com> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:07PM (#14660613)
    Are you considering any major changes to Wikipedia's policy's? Many people have called for some sort of moderation or approval system. Are these or any other serious reforms likely to happen?
    • The Mediawiki [mediawiki.org] software allows for marking edits as "patrolled [wikimedia.org]" -- so the ability is there. As for wikipedia's policy...
    • Having editors in Wikipedia is redundant. Anyone can edit a wikipedia article; therefore, anyone can be an editor. I think the idea of Wikipedia is radical egalitarianism. We can't have a class of titled users that have special priviliges that others don't.

      I have thought that a signing system would be the most appropriate. Any text you create must be signed by you. You have the choice to sign off on any text you agree with. If any of your text is modified, you are somehow notified, and then you can in tur
    • A moderation system has already been implimented in Mediawiki, and is currently going through a shakedown on one of the test wikis. See for yourself here [ontoworld.org].
  • by Paladin144 (676391) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:07PM (#14660615) Homepage
    Given that your site is host to some very important, secret [wikipedia.org], inflammatory [wikipedia.org] and otherwise sensitive data [wikipedia.org], I have some questions about your relationship with the government.

    Has the U.S. government ever attempted to outright censor any part of Wikipedia to your knowledge? Have you been contacted and asked to take down incriminating and/or secret information? Has anyone connected with the government tried to find out who has accessed/modified certain pages?

    Lastly, I notice that Wikipedia is available in many languages, all across the world. Given that vantage point, could you describe the reaction (if any) of various governments to the possibility of the sum of human knowledge being available to their citizens with just a few keystrokes?

    Thanks for the great resource!

  • Funding (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hoomank (748224) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:09PM (#14660630) Homepage
    How hard was it to get funding for this project at the vision stage? Did you have to first produce some kind of working model? Or were you able to 'sell' the idea to benefactors at the idea stage. More generally can you comment on the challenges/opportunities about getting funding for projects that benefit the community?
    • "How hard was it to get funding for this project at the vision stage?" - easy answer: he didn't. Jimbo has payed more than $500,000 out of pocket to get Wikipedia started, most of that invested in the early stages (during the Nupedia and early Wikipedia days).
    • How hard was it to get funding for this project at the vision stage?

      Trivially easy - since Jimmy Wales owns the moderately sucessful search portal Bomis.

      Did you have to first produce some kind of working model?

      Jimmy was able to leach off of the Nupedia project. (Which he was already running.)

      Or were you able to 'sell' the idea to benefactors at the idea stage.

      There never was an idea stage. The Wikipedia went from 'hmm... this might be a good idea' to 'ok, its set up, lets roll' in about a week.

  • I've got one (Score:5, Interesting)

    by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:09PM (#14660639)
    "Is Wikipedia as fun now as you originally thought it would be?"
    • Very good question. Sometimes people have a way of taking the fun out of something you do for people.
      • I know :(

        I've been editing random stuff for like 2-3 months, and never really wandered into talk pages. Then the whole mohammed cartoons thing came up, I started reading and all the links to past fights on other articles. So much wasted time and effort, and people always blame the tool whenever something untrue is found.
  • by vlad_petric (94134) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:10PM (#14660646) Homepage
    Do you think that the current model will work for the next 5 years? Are you considering P2P as a way to reduce load on the servers ?
  • Bio Sanitizing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Infernal Device (865066) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:10PM (#14660649)
    In light of recent Congressional attempts to sanitize biographies, will there be any additional steps taken to ensure that biographical information is not only neutral in content, but accurate and complete? How much outcry was there in your attempts to sanitize your own biography and what have you learned from that?
  • by nweaver (113078) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:12PM (#14660673) Homepage
    Wikipedia appears to be founded on the principle that "with enough participants, you converge on correctnenss".

    This seems similar to stock market theory and other areas (the "wisdom of crowds").

    But this is obviously not always the case. You have market bubbles. You have widely believed fallicies (Eg, if you survey in Kansas on evolutionary theory). Etc.

    The question: Is there any thought on how to deal with the situations where enough participants will converge on the consistantly wrong answer? There appears to be no mechanism for the correct minority to eliminate the large ignorant majority.
    • "with enough participants, you converge on correctnenss".

      Mod Parent up +1 Funny

    • Well, despite what is widely believed, Wikipedia is NOT a democracy. It's driven by consensus instead.

      So, suppose are article is being edited by the majority of editors into a blatant factual error. Then we get a single editor to dispute this flawed consensus. (This is attainable, usually.) Wikipedia guidelines dictate a need for verifiability, so the editor would cite a source for his change.

      Usually, things stop right here, and the error is corrected. Suppose otherwise. The opposing editors might try to es
      • The system strongly favours the truth.

        Ha. This after going into detail about the truly vast amount of effort an expert needs to go to in order to impose the facts against stubborn idiots! Not to mention that cranks usually have much more free time than experts (who are busy writing books and giving lectures on the topic). No, I don't see that the system as it stands favors anyone except those who have lots of time to waste.

        • It isn't a vast amount of effort. Summarising my post, all you need to do is:

          Post an initial edit. Give the reason for your edit in the talk page.

          If that fails, put a request for a third opinion, comment or mediation, depending on how many stubborn idiots there are.

          And that is all. In total, only TWO edits are required, in the worst. And the result will be almost permanent. Compare to the difficulty of getting Britannica to correct an error. The difficulty you occasionally hear about from people always happ
    • by flyingsquid (813711) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @02:48PM (#14661648)
      Many of the scientific articles I've worked on seem to be edited by people with little or no expertise on the subject. So my question is:

      What, if anything, is Wikipedia doing to encourage academics and scientists to contribute their knowledge and expertise?

  • Fork (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JohnFluxx (413620) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:14PM (#14660681)
    In open source development, the ability to be able to fork software is considered a major asset (although most agree that it should only be done when really necessary).

    What do you think about allowing the same for wikipedia articles? Consider this - say there is a long complex wikipedia page. To rewrite to make it more clear requires a single massive commit by a single person.
    It would be better to allow that page to be forked, then people can work on the rewrite, then tag the fork to be the main one once it's done.
    • I believe this article [wikipedia.org] answers your question.
    • "It would be better to allow that page to be forked, then people can work on the rewrite, then tag the fork to be the main one once it's done." - actually, it's much more common for one person to tag it as in use (using the inuse template), do a big edit, and then mark it as no longer in use.

      For big changes that require multiple days and/or multiple editors, it's not uncommon for someone to copy the contents of the page to a temp subpage (so for article foo, you would copy the article to en.wikipedia.org/wi
    • This is already occasionally done within Wikipedia. Also, everyone possesses the right to fork the entire project, or any individual article, under the terms of the GNU FDL.

  • Why does Jeff V Merkey hate you so much?

    Ed Almos
    Budapest, Hungary
  • Reliability (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kaleco (801384) <greig@marshall2.btinternet@com> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:16PM (#14660696)
    Would you consider implementing a form of 'signing' in articles? My idea is as follows:

    An expert in a field could 'sign' a version of an article that they deem to be accurate. This article can still be edited, amended etc. On the article page, the user is given the option to consult a frozen-from-edits version of the article

    Moderators would be able to contact the 'expert' and confirm their authority in the field, since pre-authorising the individual before they can confirm the article's accuracy would deter busy individuals from making the effort in the first place.

    I would be greatful if other Slashdotters would like to develop this into a more eloquent point and question.

    • Re:Reliability (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dotpavan (829804) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:31PM (#14660837) Homepage
      I would like to add to the question above, that how often do you use Wikipedia to get information, and how much do you rely on it?
      • I use Wikipedia to get information a lot. I never rely on it though. When accuracy is important, I understand the importance of checking references.

        The problem with my idea is that experts are often wrong and that is why peer review is such an important part of getting published in journals.

        If the signature idea was ever implemented, it must accept multiple signatures per article.

    • Re:Reliability (Score:2, Interesting)

      The parent post is a solid idea. Still a bit rough, but I think this could also help address the "what do we do when 90% of people are *wrong* on a given subject?" issue. That said, I think it is also essential for Wiki to maintain sources to "non-expert" and "divergent" opinions. Consider the "evolution" issue as posed by a few others; here we have one theory which has been granted far more credibility (Darwin), versus a pair of theories which seem more rooted in cultural traditions than in science (Creat
      • You are absolutely right about the need to maintain the ability for non-experts to post on Wikipedia. This is an effective defence against the fallacy of authority which would inevitibly become an issue if too great a bias was placed on the signed versions of articles provided by experts.

        This is why the signed versions would not become the main article, but would instead stand parallel to it, hosted within the encyclopaedia as a CC licenced reference. Rather than overriding the common artical, it would info

    • I've addressed this elsewhere [slashdot.org], but yeah -- the technical capability exists. But restrictions on who can patrol and who patrols the patrollers...those are probably complicated questions.
      • You're right, I wasn't clear enough on what I meant by this. All moderators would do is confirm the identity and qualifications of the signatory. The reliability of the moderators should not be more of an issue than the reliability of a journalist. Moderators should be accountable for their mistakes, that is all that the system would require.
    • On this idea: will there ever be a finished wikipedia article? One that is semi-protected or protected not because it's a vandal target, but because it's done? I mean, if there is to eventually be a Wikipedia 1.0 to be published (an idea I like very much), is there a chance that you'll 'freeze' some of the articles into their 1.0 form if there is consensus, to be re-opened if events require it?
    • I like the idea of signing, but I don't like the idea of experts or moderators.

      I'd rather give everyone the ability to sign articles. That way, over time, wikipedia builds its own reputation for articles and users. I don't want to throw out unpopular opinions or inflammatory articles -- if wikipedia wants to be comprehensive like an encyclopedia, it has to include them. However, in this age of information, the computer's job is to search and filter in the sea of data. A reputation system for articles and
  • by CyricZ (887944) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:17PM (#14660705)
    I know that you feel strongly about freedom of expression, and freedom of speech. Hence I ask you, how do you feel about the so-called "hate crime" laws that are present in many supposedly free Western nations?

    How does such legislation impact on the ability of Wikipedia to provide accurate, truthful information, even if that information may be deemed to be "hate literature" by certain groups?

  • Trivia... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Fred Or Alive (738779) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:18PM (#14660714)
    What's your opinion about the large amount of "geeky" trivia that seems to have accumulated on Wikipedia? I'm particularly thinking of stuff like large articles about fictional characters, rather comprehensive episode guides and that sort of stuff, usually about Sci-Fi and anime etc.
  • Quantum Dictionary (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Syncdata (596941) <`syncdata71' `at' `yahoo.com'> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:21PM (#14660747) Journal
    I think the most well spoken criticism of Wikipedia was voiced by Jerry (tycho) Holkins over at Penny-arcade. He likened Wikipedia to a "quantum dictionary", where it can be both correct, and incorrect, depending on when you access it. Sensitive topics, like say, the formation of the state of Isreal, or Communism will obviously attract revisionists of all kinds. On /., abuse with moderation isn't terribly damaging, as people are stating opinions. When you are purporting to supply facts however, I can't see such a system wouldn't inevitably break down.
    • That's why a wikipedia article, if used for a serious purpose, cannot be considered as an article alone. The article's history needs to be taken into account. In such a case, schrodinger's cat does not apply, because you can see inside the box.

      And besides, the quantum truth is true of any other source. A website could be hacked or hoaxed at the time you read it. A newspaper could print a page that was complete garbage and delete it 20 minutes later. Britannica is known to have a number of errors that will p
    • by AxelBoldt (1490)
      where it can be both correct, and incorrect, depending on when you access it.

      If you want to learn about a controversial topic in Wikipedia, you obviously need to read the article in conjunction with its history and its discussion page. If you do that, you'll get a very well rounded view of the controversy, including the positions, arguments, biases and lies of the involved parties. No ordinary encyclopedia (or newspaper, or peer-reviewed article) comes even close in this regard.

  • Now that Web development frameworks have come a long way since the Wikipedia infrastructure was first implemented, do you think a switch away from PHP would be a good idea?

    Do you think that it would be possible to effectively reimplement the system around Ruby on Rails, Django, Seaside, or some of the other Web frameworks that are popular today? Also, do you think such a reimplementation would decrease the server requirements, thus potentially bringing financial benefits, in addition to an improved level of
  • Wiki entries (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DanThuMan (915138) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:24PM (#14660776)
    What was the first wiki entry, what's the most popular and which is your favourite?
  • Structured data (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bungopolis (763083) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:27PM (#14660805)
    The Wiki article format is essentially unstructured. Formatting and content standards are decided upon by the community and enforced by peer moderation, but it is not precise and it is not semantic. Are you thinking about a way of introducing enforced, queryable, structured data templates? Think Google Base with community moderation of both structure and data.
  • Dear Jimmy (Score:2, Funny)

    by Mancat (831487)
    Have you ever considered a carreer in organized crime? I think you should. With a name like Jimmy Wales, the sky's the limit!
  • Is there anything off-limits or would never be added to Wikipedia?
  • by tomas.bjornerback (411702) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:35PM (#14660882) Homepage
    Are you considering having a "stable" branch of the pages where only a "few" trusted sources are allowed to edit the pages, as well as an "experimental" branch which would be like the current version, ie. editable by anyone?

    The reason would be because when I direct students to a certain page on Wikipedia on an assignment, I can't be sure it will contain the same, correct, information today as when I wrote the assignment description. For all I know, it can be edited by the first student reading the assignment!

    If I could enter the "stable" version of the page, I'd be sure it will be correct in the future as well.

    I assume lots and lots of people would like to have a "stable" version to use as reference in their papers and reports. /Tomas
    ps. I got the idea from a post by a fellow slashdotter...
    • It's not the solution you're looking for, but have you considered pointing students to a specific revision of an article? For example, I want to point my students to George W. Bush, but I know that this article frequently has the picture of its subject replaced with pictures of Jar-Jar Binks and Chacellor Palpatine. So I go to George W. Bush [wikipedia.org], click history [wikipedia.org], and then click on the top date listed [wikipedia.org]. This last link gives me the current revision of the article, which I can send to my students in the relative s

    • Every Wikipedia article has a link called "permanent link" in the toolbox on the left. That link will always point to the precise article version you're currently reading. If you want to link to a previous article version, click on "History", and then on the date you want.
  • Googlepedia? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrotherNO@SPAMoptonline.net> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:40PM (#14660921) Journal

    Do you expect any direct competition from Google in the near future? Would you be surprised in Google made a bid for Wikipedia, given Google's propensity for snapping up useful companies and their technology? Would you say "no" if they offered you a large compensation package and the promise of continued autonomy over it?

  • Voting on revisions. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:40PM (#14660931)
    How about a system where people can "vote" the historical versions as "accurate" or "needs help", so if you want the latest news you look at the current article; but if you want the "most accurate" you look at the version history wiht the best accuracy score?
  • by lawpoop (604919) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:41PM (#14660935) Homepage Journal
    How would you feel about having multiple concurrent texts for article headings? It seems to me that some of the problems from wikipedia is there are several legitimate groups that want to put their own spin on certain issues. Presently it seems that this is handled by some text such as "this issue is controversial" and then each side gets some kind of summary. Then we get into problems with whose opinion comes first, who gets the short shrift in the summary, who is made to look like a crackpot, etc.

    What I'm proposing is a system where the user sees an interface like the disambiguation page, which offers different articles for each title, including a purportedly nuetral one. So for example, the abortion article would have 3 or more texts: a nuetral one, a pro-life, and a pro-choice.
    • What I'm proposing is a system where the user sees an interface like the disambiguation page, which offers different articles for each title, including a purportedly nuetral one. So for example, the abortion article would have 3 or more texts: a nuetral one, a pro-life, and a pro-choice.

      It's an interesting idea but I see a couple of immediate problems. First it will tend to promote polarisation and probably lessen the quality of the articles. With 2 or more parties arguing over a page new material tends to
  • by kebes (861706) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:43PM (#14660953) Journal
    Are you considering (or have you already implemented) some sort of official partnership with academic institutions (universities, research institutes, etc.). Such institutes of course have many knowledgeable experts who are accustomed to performing peer-review. Have you ever considered approaching, for instance, a particular department at a particular university, and asking the faculty to review their subject area(s) of expertise, and provide feedback and corrections.

    If so, do you intend to have their edits/suggestions be treated identically to any other Wikipedia user, or would you give their input special status (as "experts").

    If nothing of the sort is underway, what do you think of this idea? Does a more direct (and official/public) involvement of such institutes sound like a good idea? Thought?

    (Note: Yes I'm well aware that a great deal of the content in many subject areas, especially sciences, already comes from these very academics... my question regardings making the partnerships more official, in order to encourage faculty who may not be aware of Wikipedia to contribute, and also to lend their "expert seal of approval" to a particular version of an article.)
  • by AxelBoldt (1490) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @01:44PM (#14660958) Homepage
    What do you think of the following proposal?

    Every editor should be required to submit and display their verifiable real name. Anonymous contributions, while still possible, would not go into the live article right away, but would rather be made available to all editors who "watch" the respective article, and to the last 5 editors who have worked on the article; any one of those editors could then easily accept the anonymous edits. (This requires a tiny bit of software support.)

    Rationale:

    • Many pranks, flames, agenda-pushing and other bad-faith behaviors are facilitated by online anonymity; people who sign with their real name behave in general much more civil.
    • The proposed system would improve the overall transparency and accountability of Wikipedia significantly.
    • There are no "privacy rights" at stake: anyone who wishes to add a statement to a major encyclopedia should at the very least have enough trust in the statement's truth to sign it with their real name.
    • All statements in Wikipedia are supposed to be verifiable, and verifiable statements have no liability issues.
    • For quick typo fixes and contributions from work etc., the above described mechanism for anonymous contributions remains in place.
    • The problem "I" would see with this is an assumption that folks who edit an article and/or who use their real names are by some definition - good. If I were the members of the Government of some Totalitarian Regime (pick your favorite target), I'd get my Cultural Attaches to sign up, and edit articles about the regime to insure that I could prevent any bad news being added to those articles, or at least have Wikipedia give me the names of people who obviously need re-education.
  • As Wikipedia has developed, there has been a push for more metadata, more semantic markup. It seems to me that Wikipedia is in the best position to pioneer the "semantic web" - you can see the beginnings of it with "category" and "portal" pages, as well as the current discussion for "attribute" fields in Wikipedia (something like "Boston IS_CAPITAL_OF Massachusetts"). Beyond that, do you see Wikipedia itself having a strong hand in determining the future of the semantic structuring of all this data, or d
  • Wikipedia as an experiment in collaboration is indeed a success. But as an authoritative factual resource it is a cumulative failure. Articles are changed moment by moment by people around the world with no particular knowledge or ability, citations are often missing or wrong, a substantial number of articles are incomplete, a growing number of important articles are written to a particular agenda, and there is a growing list of articles and subjects being reverted and/or captured by political ideologues or
  • by ej0c (320280)
    Wikipedia isn't an experiment any more - it is often the resource of choice. Especially for students. Bob Ney [wikipedia.org] and Diebold [wikipedia.org] are two topics much in the news. Neither of the articles is an adequate, encyclopedic, or even brief and fair, representation of the subject. How does Wikipedia accept the responsibilities now placed on it? Caveat lector, or caveat magister, seems not enough any more.
  • Why allow topics on current events? They're always volatile and politically biased nonsense. It could really cut your costs in terms of servers, and then maybe you wouldn't have to beg for money.

  • How many Wikipedia staff members are monitoring and editing Wikipedia content and what specific editorial/censorship guidelines and contributor sanctions do they impose?
  • Are future wikimedia projects possible anymore? Recently, there was a vote for the Wikiversity project. The vote came in with more than 300 participants, with a resounding majority in favor of it. After waiting weeks for the board to discuss the results, we were left with a confusing request to change the proposal with no explanation of what the board wished, and the request would have eliminated one of the key parts of the proposal. Repeated attempts to get clarification have resulted in no new informa
  • The DUF (http://www.digitaluniverse.net/ [digitaluniverse.net] promises to be a revolutionary "PBS of the web", with ad-free, multimedia-rich content. Do you expect the Digital Universe Foundation to [eventually] surpass Wikipedia in its content and presentation?

    Do you foresee perhaps a partnership with DUF if this were to happen?
  • by synthespian (563437) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @02:11PM (#14661233)
    With the recent episode of U.S. Congress politicians using Stalinistic tactics of "rewriting history", the viability of Wikipedia has been seriously compromised, IMHO. The recent content violations were only caught because they were so conspicuous.
    Nevertheless, the Wikipedia remains one of mankind's biggest "dream", the New Library of Alexandria, as it were.
    Are you considering employing any "countermeasures" to avoid such content violations such as web-of-trust of academics, digitally signing contents, or other such means?
  • by Raindance (680694) <johnsonmx.gmail@com> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @02:15PM (#14661271) Homepage Journal
    Having spent years of your life thinking about online communities, signal-to-noise, and participation, you'd undoubtedly bring an interesting perspective to the meta-discussion that we're having now on Slashdot.

    If you had to suggest changing something about how Slashdot works, what would it be? And how would that tie into things you've done, encountered, or seen on Wikipedia?
  • I've got a question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FhnuZoag (875558) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @02:21PM (#14661328)
    In what ways does Wikipedia as it is today, with its complex structure of guidelines and user groups, reflect your original vision? In what ways does it not?
  • Why was MySQL chosen as the backend to MediaWiki? What other RDBMs did you test in addition to MySQL and why were they not chosen?
  • I've checked out the Wikipedia site a few times and saw information that looked pretty accurate and detailed.

    Then I heard on the radio that Capitol Hill staffers had edited/rewritten entries about their bosses to remove or slant all sorts of information, to make their reps or senators look better, remove divorces, etc etc.

    How do you expect someone like me, a Wikipedia neophyte, to trust the information in Wikipedia when it can be so easily changed/falsified/distorted ?
  • Long term outlook (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pHatidic (163975) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @02:28PM (#14661417)
    Where do you want Wikipedia to be after five more years of editing? Where do you want the world to be after five more years of Wikipedia?
  • Of the Russian livestock shortage of 1987?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Russia&d iff=37107477&oldid=37080986 [wikipedia.org]

    A shame that one was fixed.
  • Scholarly papers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rinisari (521266) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @03:05PM (#14661860) Homepage Journal
    Recently, I did a paper for a class and used a number of Wikipedia articles as sources. While I know (within reasonable limits) that the articles I referenced where accurate (I've done a lot of research already and in the past on this topic), my professor wasn't so sure of them, especially after all the bad press that Wikipedia's recieved in the past few months.

    A basic rule of research is to never trust a single source alone; to always find corroborating stories/explanations/etc. in another source. Unfortunately, for a lot of the topics in which I am interested, there are very few official sources, and Wikipedia is the most prominent of them.

    What can we, the people who trust Wikipedia the most, do to convince our professors and colleagues that Wikipedia is still a highly trustworthy source of accurate information?
  • Content vs Control (Score:3, Interesting)

    by uriah923 (867690) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @03:32PM (#14662198) Homepage
    The amount of time and effort put into Wikipedia by unpaid editors is astounding. However, in my time spent on the site, I've noticed that a great deal of the work is spent on controlling content rather than contributing it. In addition to the much-discussed vandalism issues, editors spend great amounts of time discussing issues, developing templates, writing rules/policies, working on user pages, etc. What percentage of the edits on WP are adding content as opposed to controlling that content?
  • by j1m+5n0w (749199) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @03:49PM (#14662423) Homepage Journal
    After speaking with a few heavy Wikipedia contributors at RecentChanges [recentchangescamp.org], I got the impression that many editors burn out because they get no recognition or thanks when they do things right, but people complain and argue when they do something they percieve as wrong. Do you think MediaWiki should add some explicit method of indicating agreement with edits or trust of other editors, to give users a simple way of acknowledging an editor's contributions? This could be as simple as an "I agree with this edit" link next to each edit in the page history, and a tally for each user of the number of edits other users have approved. (An "I disagree with this edit" link could be useful as well, for other reasons...)
  • by br00tus (528477) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @05:35PM (#14663583)
    There is a project [wikipedia.org] on Wikipedia which says "the Wikipedia project has a systemic bias that grows naturally out of the demographic of its contributors". But beyond this is the control you exercise over Wikipedia.

    You have said [lessig.org] that "[Friedrich] Hayek's work...is central to my own thinking about how to manage the Wikipedia project". Or you've said things in interviews [com.com] such as "Unlike some other grassroots journalism type of projects like Indymedia, which is a very far left type of thing written by activists, we strive to be a neutral, high-quality source of basic information." (which of course implies that the supposedly "very far left" Indymedia is not a good source of information, whereas Wikipedia is).

    Regarding the most powerful group of your lietenants, the Arbitration Committee, last year you had an election. This year you wanted to appoint them with little input until an uproar allowed more input from the community. During this (s)election, you put in the people with the highest vote rates, except for JayJG, who had people ahead of him since so many people voted against him due to his lack of the neutrality you espouse in interviews. You say you did this because he was on ArbCom - which he is, because you appointed him to it in the past few months. This was after the election last year, where he received no votes. Instead of having another election, or going down the 2005 election list, you appoint your crony who shares your point of view. When in the election he has people ahead of him due to strong opposition over his lack of opposition, you appoint him anyway.

    As a post-script to this message, which is not part of my question, I would note to the readers that Wikipedia review [proboards78.com] is a board where people discuss their unhappiness with the Wikipedia "cabal". That board has some trolls, but some of the discussions are enlightening, from experienced users. Wikipedia looks open and inviting, but experience shows that is not the case. The one good thing about Wikipedia is the licenses for Mediawiki and English Wikipedia are GPL and GFDL, so that if people become unhappy enough they can fork. I myself tend to edit on other wikis since I'm tired of the nonsense on Wikipedia. I began editing in 2003, and have watched it go downhill from then. A lot of smart experts in the field have been driven off, and the cabal, Jimbo and his lieutenants hold sway. The fact that 2005 had elections from ArbCom and 2006 had "selections" should say something about how things are headed on Wikipedia. This [wikipedia.org] is a policy everyone becomes familiar with after a time.

    Actually, I think Wikipedia does a decent job on articles like quantum mechanics, but it is a complete mess in articles pertaining to say relations between the Israelis and Palestinians and that type of thing. And it has just gotten worse and worse. So Wikipedia isn't all bad, just anything to do with politics or history is a mess.

  • by zijus (754409) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @10:13AM (#14669047)

    Hello.

    I feel the amount of time/effort put into dispute resolution could be a reason to many for leaving the project. I am thinking about requests for comment, mediation, arbitration. I feel some users are gaming the project by trying to play smart ass during discussions. As an example, a recent RFC saw it's subject try to define gently the term fuck-off. No joke here. (No link because my point now is not to have fun).

    I reduced drastically my contributions to WP for this very reason. It is exhausting having to work around cruft/fun/gamers.

    My question. Is there any plan to have somehow more restrictive policies during disputes ? It would not be about a higher price to enter the WP "game" (need to show credits for example...), but a higher one to stay in the "game". Something like any strong words or any one caught at disrespecting the consensus (as an example re-creation of an AFD'ed article) will immediately trigger a short term block, or a way to slow down hot contributions. The goal would be to alleviate the burden by stopping at once what I identify as noise. Give every one a real chance at thinking within a collaborative spirit. Indeed, to my opinion there is a lack of understanding from some user that WP is not a forum or a game where one scores points.

    I have seen recent new policies (no anonymous creation, semi protection...) with interest. A next step seems needed.

    Note: I am well aware of things like consensus is not necessarily right. This is not the point of my question now.

    For less WP aware people, a quick analogy : If one plays chess game, one have to abide by the chess game rules. There is no other way. The difference being if one wants to change WP rules, well... there are rules and processes to do so. It _IS_ possible. Yet, one still have to abide by the rules.

    Thanks for this tool. Thanks for time and consideration.

    Zijus.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN

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