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An Interview with Wikipedia's Jimbo Wales 141

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the friendly-interviews dept.
Raul654 writes "The Wikipedia Signpost, Wikipedia's weekly in-house publication, is this week featuring an interview with Jimbo Wales. The questions, which were submitted by Wikipedia regulars, hit on subjects related to the Foundation, the budgeting and legal issues, the blocking of Wikipedia in China, as well as where Jimbo sees Wikipedia in the future."
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An Interview with Wikipedia's Jimbo Wales

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  • by JehCt (879940) * on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @09:47AM (#14767047) Homepage Journal
    Hey Jimbo, missed the interview... How will you prevent Wikipedia from becoming balkanized, just like ordinary society, as groups of users with differing views form up their own projects, and start slinging mud at each other and calling each other "trolls"? Won't additional restrictions on editing, in the name of "quality," drive potential contributors to other pursuits? How will you prevent Wikipedia from turning into a collection of cranks, slackers, and trolls?
  • Cool! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @09:49AM (#14767059)
    Can we edit his interview?
    • It would be nice to be able to see his interview. As he answers a question on Wikipedia being blocked in China, and hosts that interview on Wikipedia (which is blanket blocked as a web domain in the PRC, and I've had little luck with Tor).

      Could someone be kind enough to post the text of the interview in the discussion?
      • Re:Cool! (Score:3, Informative)

        by $RANDOMLUSER (804576)
        Here you go. Unmolested.

        Wikipedia Signpost: Raul654 [slashdot.org] asks: "Recently, there were revelations about organized attempts by US Congressmen to whitewash their articles. What is your take on this, as well as earlier reports of Corporate astroturfing?"

        Jimbo Wales: The question is invalid. There were no revelations of organized attempts by US Congressmen to whitewash their articles. Not any evidence of "corporate astroturfing" of which I am aware. There was evidence that some congressional staffers edited Wiki

    • Easy answer - yes. Since this story hit slashdot, someone has already edited the interview [wikipedia.org] to link certain phrases to their particular Wikipedia pages
    • Yes you can: [edit] [wikipedia.org].
    • ... has already edited [wikipedia.org] the original [wikipedia.org]
    • Even more prescient, can Jimmy Wales edit his own interview [concurringopinions.com], to make himself seem more important to the interview process?
  • Jimbo: I plan to burn them all in a stalinesque purge of glory. Interviewer: Isn't that a bit much? Jimbo: Everyone's got a hobby.
  • Quality standards (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ChristopherX (956137) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @09:59AM (#14767111)
    The interview mentions the need for quality content. If not already wiki should be using automated tools to flag potentially low quality articles.

    1. Use a static analyzer to detect large amounts of grammatical errors, etc.

    2. Look for articles outside the normal word/source ratio.

    • In the interview I asked a question about the article validation tools [wikimedia.org]. We've been waiting for these tools for some time, since the current methods we have for validating articles are rather crude [wikipedia.org]. Some efforts from within the community to perform more detailed article assessment [wikipedia.org] have also recently sprung up. This is besides the already existing Featured article process and Peer review.
      • Re:Quality standards (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Raul654 (453029)
        (Speaking as the person who runs the Featured Article process) You call it crude, but a group of graduate students in library science at the University of Illinois studied the process and concluded that it "is not ideal, but it does seem relatively rigorous." - Here's their paper [uiuc.edu]
        • I didn't mean to say the featured article process is cude. In fact I think it is very thorough. What I meant is that there is no easy way to vet a number of articles related to some subject area. If Wikipedia wants to move to a 1.0 stable version, articles will need to be verified on a much larger scale than is happening with the featured article process currently.
          • Re:Quality standards (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Raul654 (453029)
            In any kind of vetting system - Speed and accuracy are all conflicting virtues. Wikipedia has a million articles. You can vet them quickly, or accurately, but not both. I do agree with you, though, that the rating system I saw on the test wikipedia was not something I cared for.

            Personally, what I would like to see is admins given a "Copy to stable" button for each article. When pressed, it copies the article to http://en.wikipedia.org/stable/Article_name [wikipedia.org]. The stable wikipedia would not be directly editable,
        • Speaking as one who has several FAs under my belt, this is all fine and dandy, but we only have 1 in 1000 articles reaching FA. Can you imagine submitting all 800,000 articles to FA at once?! :)

          TBSDY
  • by Anonymous Coward
    it's all blocked in china... :(
    • Interview text (Score:2, Informative)

      by stupid_is (716292)
      Wikipedia Signpost: Raul654 asks: "Recently, there were revelations about organized attempts by US Congressmen to whitewash their articles. What is your take on this, as well as earlier reports of Corporate astroturfing?"

      Jimbo Wales: The question is invalid. There were no revelations of organized attempts by US Congressmen to whitewash their articles. Not any evidence of "corporate astroturfing" of which I am aware. There was evidence that some congressional staffers edited Wikipedia in inappropriate ways

  • Jimbo's comment, that "in 10 years, it seems likely to me that many languages which are now quite small will have very large Wikipedia projects," ties in in an interesting fashion with the current blocking of Wikipedia in China. At the moment, it's a relatively small issue in their grand scheme of things. But fast-forward 10 years, (if and) when the Chinese wikipedia is about the same size as the English version, and I wonder how the government will cope. It's already technologically very possible to cir
    • "But fast-forward 10 years, (if and) when the Chinese wikipedia is about the same size as the English version" - this is a false comparison. We can now say empirically that, all things being equal, wikipedia projects tend to experience exponential growth, and that the relative growth rates are approximately the same.

      Or, to put it another way - it is almost impossible for a smaller wiki to overtake a larger wiki (because articles bring visitors, visitors become contributors, and contributors write articles -
    • Anyone know if there is any reference in the chinese language wikipedia to Tianmin Square (and specifically to the famous tanks photograph)?
  • by Selecto (633429) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:23AM (#14767243)
    Should we look for new ways to deal with the inevitable vitality of Wikipedia, as a social mechanism to present additional sides of an argument or contentious issue? I'd say there are easy indicators of contention that we'll call 'revisionism,' where the sheer number of edits holds the greatest clue. Perhaps if there were some way to 'diff' the contents of edits / revisions in a summary fashion? It would be cool, for instance, to be able to summarize the changes one party made, and see all "relevant" historical changes on one page. Of course, what is 'relevant' as a summary topic or interpretation of a point, is subjective, but then, could this be user-interpreted, too? What if Wikipedia adopted learning 'preferences' to show a user what they deem to be relevant of issues they have researched on Wikipedia? That would be cool. These interpretation-affinities could be used to score related topics, or to make other suggestions. Some of this is already available, but in my opinion, not where it could be. Also, there are a lot of people who claim to be authoritative when their references are out of scope for Wikipedia. Why don't we provide authority within WikiP's scope, where a reader could judge on any particular poster's credibility based on accessible body of wiki 'precedence'... I'd rather not go all over to determine if s/o is credible as an informer regarding Earth Sciences. I would be glad to have available the highest-level scientific research, it's not really all that complicated if you've got the right attitude.
    • But from the very same link:

      "I respectfully disagree with the assertion that actions by Jimbo Wales may not be overturned except by appeal to Jimbo. Jimbo seems to agree, noting he will accept it if the arbcom issued a ruling overturning something he did."

      And that hasn't been seen in any dictatorship in history: "Yes, I have supreme ultimate power, but if you, the puppet parliament, don't like something I've done and decide against it, I'll go with what you want."

      While I recognise that dictatorships (espe

    • Insert the "It's not facism when we do it!" pic.

      Seriously, wikipedia's fun for looking up klingons and that funny shoe in stage 5-3 of Super Mario Brothers 3, but it's never going to be anything much more.
    • Actions by Jimbo Wales may not be overturned except by appeal to Jimbo.

      I mean, is that not the very epitomy of dictatorship?


      Yes, except:

      -Not a government, Wikipedia is an online user-editable encyclopedia
      -Somebody needs super admin ability to stop people from continually adding stuff about the N-words and the F-words and the J-words and so on, ad nauseum
      -Someone said at the link provided that they hope he realizes he makes mistakes; at worst, this is one of them ...I just read a little further, and I realiz
    • Actions by Jimbo Wales may not be overturned except by appeal to Jimbo. I mean, is that not the very epitomy of dictatorship?

      Well, he is the HNIC (head nerd in charge)


    • Yes, Wikipedia is at root a non-democratic institution, and, were it a govenment, would be a dictatorship. Kind of like every privately held company or charitable foundation in the world.
    • What you quote is a "proposed principle" that was considered for reaching an arbitration decision on a particular case where a particular user had repeatedly undone a particular action of Jimbo's. While it will likely be taken into account in similar cases in future, it is not a wikipedia policy.
  • Facts vs. Opinion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by digitaldc (879047) * on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:26AM (#14767258)
    The only threat to the ideal of a global encyclopedia is to filter out opinion from facts. But one has to ask, who knows all the 'facts'?

    It must be very difficult with some topics to derive what exactly is the 'truth.'

    For instance, what about the perception about how an economy works vs. the reality of gray and black markets affecting that economy?
    How does the military work? The government? Who is really in charge and makes the decisions?
    Do we rely on CIA and Census figures? Do we rely on 'official' government papers? Encyclopedia Britannica? The internet? The mass media?
    • The encyclopaedic approach is (or should be) to cite all the sources of information for every article. We may not be able to say that "the population of X is N" with any certainty, but we can be quite sure of ourselves in reporting that "According to the CIA world factbook, the population of X was N in 2003"
      • " The encyclopaedic approach is (or should be) to cite all the sources of information for every article." - really? So when you look up earth, there should be a section about how the earth is flat (Or so some people [wikipedia.org] would have you believe) Or how the Holocaust is a myth perpetrated by Zionists bankers? Or when you look up the Universe, it tells you about how it's all supported by turtles [wikipedia.org]? The moral of the story is that for almost any article you can name, there is at least one group out there that has demon
        • I see how you read my post, but that's not how I intended it. When I wrote "all sources", I meant "all sources used in compiling the article", not "all sources available".
  • Good grief (Score:2, Informative)

    by QuietLagoon (813062)
    Am I the only one around here who is tired of reading all of this WikiPedia this and WikiPedia that stuff? Aren't there any other websites to talk about?
  • by blueZ3 (744446) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:30AM (#14767282) Homepage
    or, The Emperor's New Clothes

    I have karma to burn, so here goes...

    Here on Slashdot, it's popular to tout the wonder that is Wikipedia, to revel in the wild-west democracy of it all, and break into rapturous platitudes about what a terrific source of high-quality information it is. Unfortunately, the reality (which none of the Wiki-boosters is likely to admit) is that Wikipedia is broken... fundamentally flawed, and can't be fixed.

    Here's a tidbit for you concerning the food crisis in the Horn of Africa: drought is caused by high prices, overpopulation, and conflict. From the Horn of Africa Food Crisis article on Wikipedia: "This shortage, along with other factors including high cereal prices, overpopulation in the region, and conflict, have led to severe drought conditions." (1/11/06)

    This is another example of why you can't rely on Wikipedia-the online encyclopedia written and edited by people with a limited grasp of the English language and (frequently) an even more limited knowledge of the subject matter. If you think that things written by committee are the epitome of bad writing, wait until you read articles that were both written AND edited by committee. And not just any committee, this a committee composed of your average basement-dwelling Net geeks, know-nothing Web noobs, and agenda-driven politicos.

    Drought is a condition created by a shortage of water. That's the definition of the word. But here we have a Wikipedia article that plainly states that 'high cereal prices' are causal. Hmmmm... Explain to me again, oh geniuses, how high prices for cereals have 'led to severe drought conditions'? Apparently high prices are drying up the water supply. Clearly the author of this one is confused, either in their understanding of causality, or their understanding of the definition of the word 'drought.' Yet they felt competent to write (or edit) an article about the issue. Welcome to the world of the encyclopedia written by the ignorant.

    The usual response of Wikipedia-philes is to answer any concern about the quality or accuracy of articles with 'anyone can edit it.' Which leads us to the immediate response (mine when I saw the above error): Why would I? Why would anyone waste their time? The person or persons who wrote this incorrect article will either a) change it back, or b) edit it further to destroy whatever correction I make. Where's the value proposition in this editing task? Am I supposed to feel satisfaction if I can see that it's corrected for 20 minutes before being reverted or overwritten? How am I supposed to feel tomorrow when I come back and see my efforts undone? Why would anyone with writing or editing ability or subject matter knowledge go to the effort of changing something that will almost immediately be screwed up again by someone without any.

    No one is willing to address this issue. In forums, anyone who questions the problems of articles being written by people lacking essential subject-matter expertise is immediately shouted down. Long Live Wikipedia! Nothing possibly can be wrong! You just don't like the egalitarian nature of a "people's encyclopedia"... and on and on. Hello, McFly! If Wikipedia worked, it would be a wonderful resource. But if wishes were horses, beggars would ride, as the old saying goes.

    In a community where everyone is 'equal' in power, despite inequalities in knowledge and ability, those with the later will, eventually -- inevitably, decline to participate. This particular type of communism (and that's not a pejorative) leads inexorably to a devaluing of the best in favor of not just the good, but the bad. In the case of Wiki articles, this means that a physics article is as likely to be written by a 12-year-old as a physicist. Or that 'drought' is as likely to mean 'famine' as 'water shortage.'

    Wikipedia is an amusing read, but I wouldn't look to it for accuracy or anything resembling an even-handed explanation of a topic. The most that can be said for it is that it's an interesting social experiment. Nothing more.

    • Well, since you already stymied the "Why don't you edit it yourself?" response from the Wiki-fanatics, it'll probably be 5 minutes until someone sticks in a quick edit to fix the specific issue you pointed out, and then flaunts this as the great strength of Wikipedia. On the one hand, they're right - when criticism arises, Wikipedia can respond pretty quickly.

      Unfortunately, on articles which aren't contentious enough to get people angry and editing vigorously, these criticisms are often not forthcoming, and
    • by BenjyD (316700) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:42AM (#14767363)
      I think the basic Wikipedia problem is that the more obscure a fact is, the more likely a user is to want to look it up (nobody uses Wikipedia to look up things they already know). But the more obscure facts are the ones with fewer people qualified to write about them and the ones with more people who don't fully understand them, so they are the least trustworthy.
      • But the more obscure facts are the ones with fewer people qualified to write about them and the ones with more people who don't fully understand them, so they are the least trustworthy.

        I would disagree. I often look up a mathematical theorem or an algorithm in Wikipedia, and have always been surprised by how accurate it is. The quality of writing might be mediocre compared to planetmath or journal articles, but the basic information is always there and correct. The reason (I suspect) is that most people
      • [T]he more likely a user is to want to look it up (nobody uses Wikipedia to look up things they already know). But the more obscure facts are the ones with fewer people qualified to write about them and the ones with more people who don't fully understand them, so they are the least trustworthy.

        Well, I dunno about that. A few days ago, I used wikipedia to look up info about the orbits of Titan, Enceladus, and a couple other Saturnian moons. I'd guess that almost everyone would consider this to be extremel
        • anything related to math or science is much less obscure to the group of people that is using Wikipedia than it would be to the world at-large, it's a technical crowd. perhaps there is some obscure example from butter-churning history or cross-stitching theory that would be a better test case.
    • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:47AM (#14767400) Homepage Journal
      Now, I don't disagree that that's a badly written sentence, and, interpreted literally, wrong for exactly the reason you say.

      But, even though that sentence is rubbish, it's also abundantly clear what is meant. High cereal prices exacerbated the food shortage caused by the drought.

      So, there are two responses :
      i) correct the sentence so that it reflects the intended meaning [needless to say, someone has already done this].
      ii) generalise from this mistake into a lengthy diatribe about the inaccuracy of Wikipedia, pretending there exist infallible sources of information elsewhere.

      I would suggest, that exactly one of these would not constitute an enormous waste of your time.
      • But, even though that sentence is rubbish, it's also abundantly clear what is meant. High cereal prices exacerbated the food shortage caused by the drought.

        By no possible standard reading of the English lanquage can that sentence be interpreted that way. None.

        So, there are two responses :
        i) correct the sentence so that it reflects the intended meaning [needless to say, someone has already done this].

        You miss the grandparents point - if the Wiki Way worked - that sentence should never have been bad by t

        • You miss the grandparents point - if the Wiki Way worked - that sentence should never have been bad by the time he read the article in the first place.

          If you understood the Wikipedia Way, you would understand why that assertion is a strawman.

          • You miss the grandparents point - if the Wiki Way worked - that sentence should never have been bad by the time he read the article in the first place.

            If you understood the Wikipedia Way, you would understand why that assertion is a strawman.

            It's a basic assertion, repeated again and again, that errors [in the 'pedia] don't survive any length of time.

            It's a stone cold fact that they do - by the thousands and tens and of thousands. But each time it's pointed out - 'pedia boosters just bury their heads i

            • It's a basic assertion, repeated again and again, that errors [in the 'pedia] don't survive any length of time.

              Maybe some people repeat that, but that (erroneous) assumption is not central to why Wikipedia works.

    • by LnxAddct (679316) <sgk25@drexel.edu> on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:50AM (#14767415)
      I was going to mod you flamebait, but I guess you'd be expecting that. Wikipedia is significantly more reputable than *any* encyclopedia that I've ever used. Look up Crooke's Radiometer on Wikipedia, then go look it up in Encyclopedia Britannica, then go look it up from at a reputable 3rd party in the sciences field. You'll see that Britannica has been giving out the wrong explanation for decades, and you know what? There is nothing any of us can do about it. Britannica is filled with innaccuracies, typos, and biases that have propagated from one version to the next for years. Wikipedia is the best source of information I've yet to come across. Every now and then there are some errors, as there are in all works done by humans, but they are often quickly corrected. If you get into a revert war, there are provisions in place to put an end to it and to facilitate debate and discussion. Essentially, not only does Wikipedia cover a significantly larger base of human knowledge, but it does so more accurately than any source I've come across and in a way that encourages little to no bias. Everybody has something to add, regardless of what you think of their intelligence. Don't be so full of yourself.
      Regards,
      Steve
      • The outcome (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gidds (56397) <slashdot@@@gidds...me...uk> on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @12:36PM (#14768459) Homepage
        Indeed. In fact, I suspect the real outcome of all this controversy will be loss of trust and respect -- not for Wikipedia, but for 'authoritative' sources as a whole. So Wikipedia's relative rating will rise!

        Pick a subject you have particular knowledge of -- maybe a local event or situation, or an area of learning or technology. Then take a look at how it's reported in the newspapers, in books and encyclopaedias, in movies and documentaries and news programmes. It's a fair bet that you'll come across inaccuracies, ranging from oversimplifications and typos to bias and misrepresentation to plain ignorance and blatant lies.

        Now, stop and consider that that's how everything else gets covered, too. Frightening, isn't it?

        Of course, some sources are much less likely to get things wrong than others. But very few sources are as authoritative as we tend to assume; all get things wrong from time to time. We should treat all printed and broadcast material with a little scepticism.

        Now, look at Wikipedia in that light. Maybe it doesn't seem that much worse than the others after all?

        Yes, it's true that there's vastly greater opportunity for errors to be introduced. But to balance that, there's vastly greater opportunity for them to be fixed, too. Wikipedia's far from perfect, but the huge majority of articles seem well worth reading, and its average doesn't seem noticeably lower than other reference works.

        (In fact, rather than quality, I think its main problem is coverage; it's very patchy, and has too many gaps and stubs.)

        Basically, as long as enough people want Wikipedia to be accurate, it will be!

      • Good response. I'll add to your anecedotal description of "Wikipedia vs. Britannica" that a survey performed by the highly respected Nature Magazine [nature.com] found that Wikipedia has fewer errors that Britannica, at least for scientific articles (see slashdot story too [slashdot.org]).

        Both Wikipedia and Britannica have errors in them (some are factual, some are poorly worded sentences, etc.). It turns out that for scientific content, Wikipedia is more reliable (I wouldn't be surprised if, for highly controversial topics in poli
    • what i reckon it needs is a versioning system, so there would be a JFK assasination article version 1.0, which is what you see when you go there, and a 1.1 beta version alongside it, and a 1.2 alpha next to that, which you can contribute edits to. an article would get from alpha to beta to "current" (old versions would still be available in a way similar to the page history) via some kind of revision voting system.

      i havent thought this through properly, i just thought of it just now

      also, you could then, whe
    • Those are all reasonable points, but on balance, wiki-style collaberations have proved surprisingly successful. Take a look at WhyWikiWorks [c2.com] on Ward Cunningham's wiki (which IIRC was one of the first wikis) for the other side of the coin. Particularly relevant highlights include:
      • Wiki pages represent consensus because it's much easier to delete insults and remove WikiSpam than indulge them. What remains is naturally meaningful and has been essentially collated from multiple points of view.
      • To make an impac
    • "Here on Slashdot, it's popular to tout the wonder that is Wikipedia"

      Not at all. Here on Slashdot, no article about Wikipedia goes by without a bunch of people whining about how it'll never be useful.

      "From the Horn of Africa Food Crisis article on Wikipedia..."

      There is no such article. Try again. The closest that WP comes is the highly contested Poverty in Africa [wikipedia.org] which carefully warns its readers at the top that it is under dispute, and even that article makes no such claim.

      Of course, Horn of Africa [wikipedia.org] does sa
      • "From the Horn of Africa Food Crisis article on Wikipedia..."

        There is no such article. Try again. The closest that WP comes is the highly contested Poverty in Africa [wikipedia.org] which carefully warns its readers at the top that it is under dispute, and even that article makes no such claim.

        Hmm.. A few moments with Google yeilds: 2006 Horn of Africa food crisis [wikipedia.org].

        [snippage the usual Wikipedia cheerleader rhetoric by the OP.]

    • Here's a tidbit for you concerning the food crisis in the Horn of Africa: drought is caused by high prices, overpopulation, and conflict. From the Horn of Africa Food Crisis article on Wikipedia: "This shortage, along with other factors including high cereal prices, overpopulation in the region, and conflict, have led to severe drought conditions." (1/11/06)

      Let's look at that article [wikipedia.org] again, shall we? It now says: "These conditions of drought, together with other factors including high cereal prices, overpop
    • by tpgp (48001) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @11:19AM (#14767642) Homepage
      Here's a tidbit for you concerning the food crisis in the Horn of Africa: drought is caused by high prices, overpopulation, and conflict. From the Horn of Africa Food Crisis article on Wikipedia: "This shortage, along with other factors including high cereal prices, overpopulation in the region, and conflict, have led to severe drought conditions." (1/11/06)

      Is that the best example you can come up with?

      A six month old problem, that was fixed on the day you blogged about it [danzbb.com]. It now reads
      These conditions of drought, together with other factors including high cereal prices, overpopulation in the region, and conflict, are leading to conditions of famine.
      Look at the page's history [wikipedia.org] and you see
      21:31, 11 January 2006 Boud (summary: drought vs famine; +several cosmetic corrections)
      OK - Wikipedia isn't perfect, but to completely dismiss it is....somewhat shortsighted of you.

      After all - it's the only (decent) game in town when it comes to free, online information.
    • Good analysis - may I add my own?

      It is what I call The Selfish Principle - that a collaborative operation is most successful when every member has a very selfish reason for contributing. Sad, but true.

      Consider free software - I'll use Wine as an example. The Wine joystick drivers didn't work. I fixed them - not because of some enlightened idea of "giving back to the community", but because *I needed them to work* - I had a very selfish reason for spending my time to make them work. I then contributed my cha
    • I think the problem lies not so much with Wikipedia, but the perception thereof. If you go there expecting every article to be high quality, proof read and in depth, then you will be disappointed, even though many articles are of that standard.

      The issue of allowing unskilled people overwrite the actions of skilled people is tricky. Yes, there is nothing stopping brilliant prose being overwritten with substandard writing. Yes, the edit might get missed, but it often is noticed and the better piece reinstat

    • The one-sentence summary of your 500+ word essay is this: a resource that can be edited by anyone at any time is not necessarily accurate or even-handed. You will agree that this insight of yours is not a particularly deep one. In fact, I hope that it is completely obvious to every reader of Wikipedia.

      How about this for an insight: an information source can be quite useful even if it is not completely accurate and even-handed. Think for instance of your senses, or your memory.

  • China blocking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jez9999 (618189) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:37AM (#14767326) Homepage Journal
    WS: On a similar topic, Vsion asks: "Are there currently any efforts being undertaken by the Foundation to address the People's Republic of China's blocking of Wikipedia or to alleviate its effect?"

    JW: Beijing-area Wikipedians are working to have the block lifted. Our position is that the block is in error, even given China's normal policies. Wikipedia is not propaganda, it is basic information. We expect that the block will be lifted.


    Huh? Doesn't he understand the nature of Chinese censorship?
    • You may be giving the Chinese government too much credit. They aren't some monotholic evil force - like all modern governments, it's a huge bureacracy. Assuming that the Chinese are blocking Wikipedia ostensibly on the basis that it is political propaganda (to my knowledge, they have not given any reason) - by demonstrating that Wikipedia is not political propaganda, they may be inclined to reverse the block.
    • Wikipedia is not propaganda, it is basic information. We expect that the block will be lifted.

      Huh? Doesn't he understand the nature of Chinese censorship?

      Exactly. The Chinese government policy is very simple: they either control information, or they censor it.

      It's frightening to see how the Chinese market is making governments, companies and organizations all over the world give in an inch at a time, for some small favor, thinking that things will change. The Chinese never change. They absorb whoever att

  • "WS: On a similar topic, Vsion [slashdot.org] asks: "Are there currently any efforts being undertaken by the Foundation to address the People's Republic of China's blocking of Wikipedia or to alleviate its effect?"

    JW: Beijing-area Wikipedians are working to have the block lifted. Our position is that the block is in error, even given China's normal policies. Wikipedia is not propaganda, it is basic information. We expect that the block will be lifted."


    does anyone see this really happening? i mean without a
  • That was a really content free interview. Perhaps, for the next interview, a team of Wikipedians can be present to answer questions so that some real answers might result.
  • I think Wikipedia articals should be rateable by anyone. Similar to /.s..
    • Slashdot articles aren't rateable by everyone. In fact, they're not rateable at all; they're taggable, but you can only tag them if you're a subscriber, and tagging is not the same as rating, anyway.
    • That's a fine idea, but what happens once an article is edited? Say I add a rather large amount of information to an article that was rated poorly for being incomplete. Should all the previous low ratings for incompleteness remain? Or should all the ratings be wiped now that the article is substantively different? What if my edit is only very minor--perhaps a typo fix. Should all the ratings be wiped then? Probably not. What about controversial articles, like the one on Terri Schaivo, or on Abortion,
    • And how do you rate the articles?

      Most of the "rating" systems online don't measure quality; they measure popularity. You always get five stars on some popular topic that gets a lot of attention anyway, while marginal topics don't.

      One way would be that you'd have to make sure each user would be subjected to mandatory daily "metamoderation" of random articles on their field of expertise, and the thing that kills that is that the "expertise" of all users varies depending on whether or not they've had their

      • And how do you rate the articles?

        This doesn't seem like such a hard problem, though it would probably entail some interface modifications. I could imagine a drop-down list of characteristics that a page might have (accuracy, neutrality, clarity, writing quality, relevance), and then, say, another drop-down with a 1-5 rating.

        Most of the "rating" systems online don't measure quality; they measure popularity.

        The average rating for a particular characteristic should be a good indicator of quality, wherea

        • Ratings should draw attention to the low quality of articles on topics that don't attract enough attention.

          Which brings us to another social problem: It's one thing to list good articles, interesting articles, or like. There's always a few of them. I love browsing the Unusual Articles, for example. But then for the opposite end of the coin you can go look at the Articles for Deletion, or Dead-End Pages, or most of the cleanup or stub categories. What happens if you slap those on people's faces? "350,000

  • by Rxke (644923) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @11:47AM (#14767949) Homepage
    TFA: "WS: GeorgeStepanek asks: "You've said that 'Wikimedia's mission is to give the world's knowledge to every single person on the planet in their own language.' But very few of the wikipedias in the languages of third-world countries are seeing as much activity as the first-world language wikipedias. Do you have any ideas on how this could be turned around?" JW: I am a believer in outreach. I would like for the Foundation to raise money specifically to pay one or more minority language co-ordinators. The goal would be to reach out in a more organized way to professors and graduate students and expat communities who have good Internet access, to seed projects for languages where the majority of speakers have poor internet access." If I were an English teacher in said countries, and had computer-access, I'd give them excercises by letting them translate some (printouts) of the entry-level stuff to their own language. Then, when they grow more proficient, give them more complex stuff (interesting articles, stuff to discuss etc.) I bet they'd be proud to see their stuff up at 'their' Wikipedia.
  • Didn't Slashdot submit questions for Jimbo to answer? Is this instead of that, or is he still doing the Slashdot interview?
  • 1) What to do about the non-text media?
    Wikipedia says that some pictures are public domain and other have been released by the publisher just for use by Wikipedia. It does not indicate which rights apply to which picture and so we are left with their conclusion that copying is at your own risk. Something similar seems to apply for the sound fragments.
    Shouldn't Wikipedia have a strict PD or GPL license only policy in these areas? Or will it slowly eclipse the copy sites by depriving them of the multimedia fi
    • Wikipedia says that some pictures are public domain and other have been released by the publisher just for use by Wikipedia. It does not indicate which rights apply to which picture and so we are left with their conclusion that copying is at your own risk.

      Copyrighting is pretty much one of the most annoying things with Wikipedia. *Most* media should be tagged on upload with an appropiate license information. So if you click on it, it should tell you what terms it is available for use on. Some, though - espe
      • In general, the policy is that if it is safe for use on wikipedia, it should be safe to use on a mirror.
        Many of the copying happens automatic or semi-automatic. You cannot expect people to go for every image to a descriptive page where they can find somewhere in the middle the license.

        I doubt article size can/should grow indefinitely. The preferred approach is always to split up larger articles into subpages, if there is enough material.
        There is always enough material: many books have been written about the

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