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Censored Wikipedia Articles Appear On Protest Site 589

Posted by Zonk
from the wiki-issues dept.
Gregory Rider writes "According to a recent article in The Guardian, a group of disenchanted Wikipedia administrators has been going through back channels on Wikipedia and retrieving articles deleted by Jimbo Wales or other higher-ups. Now they're putting them back up on a website for everyone to see. This includes articles on Justin Berry, Paul Barresi, and, most strangely, Brian Peppers, which has been solicited for deletion off of Wikipedia 6 times with mixed success and is now banned from being edited on for a whole year."
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Censored Wikipedia Articles Appear On Protest Site

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  • Journalism 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 16, 2006 @02:40PM (#15138886)
    Who are these people and why should I care? No, really. Who are Justin Perry and Bryan Peppers? You could at least give me a hint so I know what the articles are about before I go read them.
    • Re:Journalism 101 (Score:5, Informative)

      by user9918277462 (834092) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @02:51PM (#15138954) Journal
      Brian Peppers is a paraplegic man who has had his disfigured photograph sent around the internet as a meme of sorts. He lives in a nursing home and one day allegedly groped one of his nurses (he claims he was trying to get her attention and ripped her skirt). Consequently he was given 5 years probation and is forced to register as a sex offender (the photo in question is his booking/registration mug shot).

      Making fun of the handicapped is not the role of an encyclopedia, and screaming 'censorship' when that worthless Wikipedia entry was deleted is shameful.

      http://allenpeppers.ytmnd.com/ [ytmnd.com]
      http://www.wikitruth.info.nyud.net:8090/index.php? title=Uncensored:Brian_Peppers [nyud.net]

      • Re:Journalism 101 (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ad0gg (594412)
        allegedly groped? Umm he was convicted of the crime in a criminal court hence he is a sex offender. So you're saying it is inappropriate to make fun of a convicted sexual offenders?
        • Re:Journalism 101 (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Nasarius (593729) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @03:11PM (#15139053)
          Welcome to the justice system in the real world, where innocent people sometimes get convicted and even executed.
          • Re:Journalism 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

            by July 21, 2006 (968634) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @06:09PM (#15139693) Journal
            "Welcome to the justice system in the real world, where innocent people sometimes get convicted and even executed."
            That's not the point. In discussing legal matters, once someone has been found guilty in a court of law, saying that they allegedly did something is no longer appropriate language. They are convicted of the crime, not alleged to have perpetrated the crime.
            • Re:Journalism 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

              by catbutt (469582) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @06:30PM (#15139746)
              No....just because we are "discussing legal matters" does not mean we have to use legal language. "Alledgedly" simply means that some people claim it to be true. If the speaker does not take it as fact that it is true, "allegedly" is perfectly appropriate.
        • Re:Journalism 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms.infamous@net> on Sunday April 16, 2006 @04:23PM (#15139345) Homepage
          So you're saying it is inappropriate to make fun of a convicted sexual offenders?

          I don't know the specifics of this case; but if a man accidently ripped a woman's skirt and is therefore branded as "sex offender", we should be making fun of the legislature for passing such a law, the executive for arresting anyone under it, and the judiciary for convicting anyone under it.

          People have been turned into "sex offenders" for mooning, for taking photos of their toddlers with pants around their ankles, and similar harmless acts. While removing rapists and the like from our company, or putting them under close supervision, is a darned good idea, many "sex crimes" are minor, or not justly crimes at all. (Check the laws of your state - if your sex life is at all interesting, you're probably violating some law that's on the books.)

        • Re:Journalism 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dutch_Cap (532453) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @04:39PM (#15139401)
          "So you're saying it is inappropriate to make fun of a convicted sexual offenders?"

          For an encyclopaedia it is inappropriate, yes.
        • Re:Journalism 101 (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Xeriar (456730)
          allegedly groped? Umm he was convicted of the crime in a criminal court hence he is a sex offender. So you're saying it is inappropriate to make fun of a convicted sexual offenders?

          Given the 'guilty until proven innocent' nature of sex offense charges these days, I would give Brian Peppers the benefit of the doubt, here.
      • Re:Journalism 101 (Score:2, Informative)

        by Holangisus (943363)
        I don't know if you realize this or not, but that Allen Peppers bit on YTMND turned out to be another hoax.

        http://allenpeppersfinal.ytmnd.com/

        Keep watching. It turns out this Allen Peppers fellow was just taking the "meme" to a new level.

        For those who despise YTMND, the gist is that "Allen Peppers" claims Brian died at 4:59 AM 2006-02-03, but if you keep watching the gif changes frames and says Brian left in a time machine, then turns to a Photoshopped image of Brian Peppers in a time machine wheelch

      • Re:Journalism 101 (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hogwash McFly (678207)
        Making fun of the handicapped is not the role of an encyclopedia, and screaming 'censorship' when that worthless Wikipedia entry was deleted is shameful.

        Bollocks. You make it sound as though it's impossible to have an article about someone that's factual and informative just because they have some kind of disability. Oh, and an article about Brian Peppers is definitely not worthless. Whether he wanted it or not, he has achieved widespread Internet notoriety and his name is known by hundreds of thousands
        • Re:Journalism 101 (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Edmund Blackadder (559735) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @04:00PM (#15139242)
          He has achieved notoriety because he ended up being a convenient subject of ridicule. The only way a wikipedia article about him will be used is to subject him to more ridicule. Wikipedia did the right thing.

          Snopes of course can have a Brian Peppers article, because Snopes does not aim to show encyclopedic information, but to talk about rumors and urban myths.
          • Re:Journalism 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Hogwash McFly (678207) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @04:19PM (#15139330)
            He has achieved notoriety because he ended up being a convenient subject of ridicule. The only way a wikipedia article about him will be used is to subject him to more ridicule.

            So you believe the article about Star Wars Kid should be deleted as well? Sorry, just because you're famous for the wrong reasons, be they stupidity, ugliness, crime or whatever, you can't expect special exemption status from information outlets. Or at least that's my opinion.
          • Bull. Just because an article is going to be inherently unflattering to a person by telling the truth, doesn't mean that we should self-censor. That's really what you're saying; in fact you're not just implying self-censorship, but the censorship of other people as well, so that they don't disparage some third person BY TELLING THE TRUTH.

            Here's something that I think ought to be engraved in the minds of every person who has ever written anything for public consumption: The truth is an absolute defense.

            Not n
        • Re:Journalism 101 (Score:5, Informative)

          by the pickle (261584) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @05:22PM (#15139542) Homepage
          Whether he wanted it or not, he has achieved widespread Internet notoriety and his name is known by hundreds of thousands of people the world over.

          Dude, I'm sorry, but if Slashdotters are asking about the identity of a so-called "Internet celebrity", this claim is extremely dubious. If there's anything Slashdotters are known for, it's being total Internet geeks, but if more than one has to ask this question -- and if the OP hadn't posted it, I was going to -- the guy clearly isn't THAT famous. "Thousands" of people the world over might be accurate; "hundreds of thousands" is almost certainly not.

          It's extremely unlikely that any of these individuals meets Wikipedia standards for notability.
          • Re:Journalism 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

            by mkro (644055) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @06:01PM (#15139659)
            It's extremely unlikely that any of these individuals meets Wikipedia standards for notability.
            Someone thought they were important enough to make an entry about them, AND recreate the entry when deleted AND make a separate site for them. I heard about Peppers before, and maybe his fame is unjust and unfortunate, but he exists in the minds of quite a few people, and some of those people make references to him. References that other people might need to look up. Jimbo seems to be trying to make reality reflect Wikipedia -- not the other way around -- by locking the article for a year, hoping he will be forgotten by then.
            But, of course, by discussing these people on Slashdot now, we are increasing those articles' right to life.
          • Re:Journalism 101 (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Hogwash McFly (678207) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @06:17PM (#15139712)
            Dude, I'm sorry, but if Slashdotters are asking about the identity of a so-called "Internet celebrity", this claim is extremely dubious

            But there's an article on sexual intercourse, isn't there? ;)

            Extremely dubious?

            Every man and his dog on YTMND knows about Peppers because he was a massive fad. Peppers was also on Snopes, so many people there would have come across him. Check the traffic rankings on Alexa if you want, these sites are not small beer by any means. Add in the people circulating the picture/description through e-mail and all of the other sites that feature him and you'll discover that six figures is actually quite a reasonable estimate.

            The major benefit of Wikipedia over paper encyclopaedias is that you can include the more obscure and niche information with a more limited appeal than traditional articles. True, you can't turn it into a 'I had a mango for lunch today' blog, but Brian Peppers is way beyond that level of irrelevance, no matter how you spin it. Is keeping Peppers really that much of a big deal? Is anyone being forced to view the article?

            What's a few paragraphs and a few links? A couple of kilobytes? I think that's more than worth it considering the volume of people aware of Mr Peppers.
    • Re:Journalism 101 (Score:5, Informative)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @02:58PM (#15138995) Journal
      Justin Perry was recently featured in a NY Times article about how the internet is not safe for your kids. He started out webcamming (for guys no less) and ended up with his own website & traveled around the country to be groped and whatnot by men old enough to be his father... all while he was underage.

      After the NY Times article, he ended up testifying before Congress. Congress (both Dems and Repubs) is currently pissed off at the Dept of Justice for not actively pursuing the kid's case.

      Peppers is a guy with a deformed skull & a charge of sexual assault against him.

      Maybe they didn't include basic information on purpose so that you'd RTFAs they linked to.
      • Re:Journalism 101 (Score:2, Insightful)

        by coleblak (863392)
        Maybe, but there's this thing that happens when slashdot links a site. Their fucking servers go [b]down[/b] so sometimes, people can't read the bloody articles. Yes, it would be nice to have better summarization in the lead-ins.
        • Re:Journalism 101 (Score:3, Informative)

          by raju1kabir (251972)

          One word for you:

          .nyud.net:8080

          I was easily able to read the linked articles. There's probably even a Firefox extension for this, though it's easy enough to type with a slap of the keyboard so I've never looked.

      • Re:Journalism 101 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheSpoom (715771) * <[ten.00mrebu] [ta] [todhsals]> on Sunday April 16, 2006 @03:23PM (#15139103) Homepage Journal
        Maybe they didn't include basic information on purpose so that you'd RTFAs they linked to.

        And as of this post wikitruth.info [wikitruth.info] is Slashdotted. Just now I had to go search Google because I'd never heard of the guy before.

        This is why we have summaries: to summarize the story. A quick mention of who he was wouldn't have hurt.
  • by DavidinAla (639952) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @02:41PM (#15138895)
    Just because a system allows for changes by anyone doesn't make those changes valid. I don't have any idea about the specific content of the entries, because those are subjects I know nothing about. But SOMEONE has to ultimately make a decision about what is appropriate or legitimate in a piece of written material. It sounds as though the people with ultimate authority at Wikipedia are exercising their functions as editors. It MIGHT be that they're being overly aggressive about editing changes. I don't have an opinion about that. But to say that they're censoring is silly. They're just being editors. Censorship is when someone outside of a publication or organization requires changes. This is NOT censorship.

    David
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Well i'm a wikipedia admin and I can assure you... under our wonderful new WP:OFFICE policy... anything with a legal threat gets censored... Jimbo Wales caves into anything with even a hint of a legal threat behind it. Siegenthaler... LEGAL THREAT... nuff said
      • by mindspillage (806179) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @02:48PM (#15138935) Homepage Journal
        Well, I answer some of the mail that Wikimedia gets, and I can assure you that most complaints are simply dealt with in a normal fashion and you never see them. It's only the ones where there is genuine reason to think we may be in the wrong and where normal editing processes have not done their job that the office steps in. (But thanks for playing, do troll again.)
        • by orthogonal (588627) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @03:35PM (#15139142) Journal
          Well, I answer some of the mail that Wikimedia gets,

          Hey, great to see you here, and thanks for giving us the straight dope.

          Maybe you could clear up something else. You were appointed to Wikipedia's "Arbitration Committee" a quasi-judicial body, and afterward won your seat as top vote-getter.

          Three other editors who ran for seats on that committee lost with significant community disapproval, including one who -- arbitrarily and without prior discussion -- deleted (censored?) portions of many editors' personal pages.

          But despite those three failing to receive the community's trust, you and the rest of the Arbitration Committee then created novel and previously unheard of official positions for them as "clerks" -- a role approximately that of prosecutor. The creation of these new positions was done apparently without any discussion or community consensus.

          Why did you and your fellow arbitrators create positions without anyone's input, and staff them with three persons whom the community, just a few weeks before, had unequivocally rejected as not having the trust of the community, one of whom had engaged in massive vandalization of users' personal pages?

          Why were these novel positions created without any transparency or community consensus?

          As the top vote-getter in the race for the Arbitration Committee seat, did you have any qualms that doing so might be seen as an abuse of the trust placed in you by the voters?

          Do you think the lack of transparency harms wikipedia?

          Do you now regret doing this without community consensus?
          • by orthogonal (588627) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @04:30PM (#15139367) Journal
            I've had "excellent karma" here since, what 2001?

            How interesting that my posting above, which asks a top Wikiipedia bureaucrat about out-of-process Wikipedia policies in a story about out-of-process Wikipedia censorship, had been modded flamebait in only fourty-five minutes.

            There's a certain fanaticism about wikipedia groupies that lends itself to the suppression of opinions that question the wikipedia group-think or the cult of personality surrounding its founder.

            But don't take my word for it: read the transcript of a lecture by Jason Scott The Great Failure of Wikipedia" [cow.net]. It covers the mysterious deletion of these articles, and a lot more. Here's one telling bit, I urge you to read the entire transcript:
            The Wikipedia people then vote. Does the majority win? No! Many times,
            Wikipedia works off of a consensus policy. Consensus essentially means
            when the administrator shows up, he makes a decision, based on the voices
            of what people have said. This is how houses are destroyed, using eminent
            domain. You have everybody say "this is a bad idea", and then the guy
            sitting in the seat goes "hmmm, but man, they're giving us some cash," and
            that's the end of that house.

            In Wikipedia you will have 75-to-45 votes, in which the 45 win simply
            because of the quality or because of the number of neutrals. You have
            this enormous amount of weight that can be pushed around by an
            administrator. It is also possible to vote for the adding and deletion of
            administrators, and (in what I consider to be insane) there is something
            called the "Miscellany For Delete," and what this means is you can
            actually reach consensus on what other people on Wikipedia are allowed to
            do. All of this shouldn't be surprising in the case if there was a
            politic vacuum -- the fact that people allowed to kind of reach a
            consensus on everything started saying "well, I can do this". So the
            notability debate becomes an issue.
      • by DavidinAla (639952) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @02:51PM (#15138952)
        You don't seem to understand the definition of the word "censored." If the administrator makes a decision that something isn't worth fighting and changes it himself, it is editing. Just like when an editor of a newspaper or magazine makes a change because someone threatens to sue. Censorship is when there is a legal requirement to change something.

        If you don't like the system you're working with (or if you think it's a good idea for an organization to fight EVERY threatened lawsuit), start your own Wikipedia-like project. Good luck with the lawsuits. I know from experience as a newspaper editor that you have to decide which threats are worth fighting and which are not. Sometimes, the people threatening lawsuits are actually correct on a factual level. I have no idea in this case, so I'm not arguing that. I'm just saying that someone has to exercise reasonable editorial control. There will always be disagreements about where to draw the line. But it's easier to cry "censorship" and want to fight lawsuits to the death when you're not the one who's going to be facing the consequences.

        David
        • Censorship is when there is a legal requirement to change something.

          YOU don't seem to understand the meaning of the word censored. Censorship is the suppression of material considered objectionable or deemed a security risk. I am no judge or police officer, but I censor materials for my children all the time.
          • You're mistaken... (Score:3, Informative)

            by DavidinAla (639952)
            censorship |?sens?r? sh ip|
            noun
            the practice of officially examining books, movies, etc., and suppressing unacceptable parts : details of the visit were subject to military censorship.
        • by Famatra (669740)
          "Censorship is when there is a legal requirement to change something."

          Have you ever heard of self-censorship? Your definition of censorship seems to be dangerously narrow.
          • There are plenty of terms that are basically oxymorons or are otherwise incorrect. Just because people like you use them incorrectly doesn't mean that's what they actually mean. By your logic, any time I change my mind about how to word a sentence, I'm censoring myself. It's a totally illogical concept.

            David
            • by Famatra (669740)
              "By your logic, any time I change my mind about how to word a sentence, I'm censoring myself."

              Actually, what I suggest is that the verb censor be used (m-w.com):

              Main Entry: censor
              Function: transitive verb
              Inflected Form(s): censored; censoring /'sen(t)-s&-ri[ng], 'sen(t)s-ri[ng]/
              : to examine in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable

              Therefore, any anytime you self supress anything you think is objectionable, often out of fear, then you are self-censoring.

              Anytime a company "suppresse
  • Isn't it getting to be about time for the way project Xanadu approached this? You don't have one perspective on the text base -- you can in essence select your own pope with his cardinals, bishops and priests rather than having them handed to you by the rather thinly-related merit of who came up with the Wiki software in most use.
  • Brian Peppers (Score:5, Informative)

    For what it's worth, I am an administrator on the English Wikipedia, and I did disagree with the decision to delete Brian Peppers. But there's lots of much more important things to worry about, and I've agreed with Jimbo Wales on a number of other situations, so life goes on. By the way, any Administrator has access to all deleted pages (except ones that have manually been deleted from the database, which are few and far between). And the reason Justin Berry was deleted and rewritten was because it was originally written by self-identified pedophiles and could've potentially gotten Wikimedia into trouble because it was a biography of a living person and did not cite everything properly, thus possibly leaving Wikipedia open to libel lawsuits.
    • For what it's worth, I am an administrator on the English Wikipedia, and I did disagree with the decision to delete Brian Peppers. But there's lots of much more important things to worry about, and I've agreed with Jimbo Wales on a number of other situations, so life goes on.

      Once again, as with the Siegenthaler case, the 'pedia is caught in an embarassing bind... And once again the attitude of the administrators is "these aren't the droids you are looking for, move along"...

      And the reason Justin Berry w

  • policy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kaden (535652) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @02:42PM (#15138905)
    I don't know that those pages were censored so much as they violated policy (Wikipedia articles are only written about topics already covered by reliable sources), or they were the subject of a lawsuit threat.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 16, 2006 @02:43PM (#15138909)
    If that Seigenthaler dude hadn't assasinated Kennedy, our world would be a very different place.
  • Forking (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chiao (925954) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @02:46PM (#15138929)
    How hard would it be to fork wikipedia?
  • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Sunday April 16, 2006 @02:49PM (#15138939) Homepage
    Thank God the Brian Peppers article is now available. I don't know how I could have lived for another minute without being able to read about him. Damn those Wikipedia editors for deleting this article about the most famous Brian Peppers, whom I hear about every day, and simply live for to hear about. Famous people like Brian Peppers NEED to have their own Wikipedia articles, don't you see? It's a requirement.

    Could somebody explain to me why I should care about this "issue"?
    • How does the failure of Wikipedia to manage conflicting information about a specific LIVING person affect you? If you don't use Wikipedia (*raises hand*) it doesnt. If you do (*point at you*) you come off sounding like an idiot. This issue could have easily been about an issue you cared about but you're a very lucky boy. There's few conflicting viewpoints regarding pokemon sapphire versus pokemon ruby.
  • by Gregory Rider (923948) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @02:50PM (#15138949) Homepage
    Personally, I think the best part is how Wikipedia has aimed to delete [wikipedia.org] , on grounds of notability, of course, any references to this group of rogue administrators [wikipedia.org].
    • Well, having not looked at the deletion discussion, I feel like having a website isn't cause alone for an article. If they haven't gotten press attention, or been cited elsewhere, they likely will have a hard time unless they're a huge website. but I bet the slashdot coverage helps their case in terms of surviving deletion
    • And? Why should there be an article about this website in Wikipedia? You wouldn't expect to find one in Britannica or Encarta.
  • Linkage (Score:5, Funny)

    by c0l0 (826165) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @02:52PM (#15138964) Homepage
    The uncensored and unspoiled Wikipedia-spinoff is available here [uncyclopedia.org]. Truth and facts, at last!!
  • by Raul654 (453029) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @03:00PM (#15139004) Homepage
    What can I say but "wow"?
     
    Apparently the person who submitted this story thinks "delete" and "censor" are synonomous - they are not. Things get deleted from Wikipedia all the time; that doesn't mean it was censored.
  • Great job (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Yurka (468420) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @03:00PM (#15139007) Homepage
    So:

    1. People with too much time on their hands get an .info domain and fill the site with violently uninteresting second-hand information, while dressing themselves as rebels. Good for them.
    2. Someone thinks that /. community would treat this non-event as they do other non-events: that is, by composing witty comments.
    3. The site is slahdotted, so the initial problem (if it was that) solves itself; ./ crowd undaunted, because who clicks those blue underlined words anyway - all they do is undercut the wittiness.

    This leaves only one question: who did click on the links? And the answer: it was not necessary; /. effect is not caused by any conscious action, it just happens.
  • Wiki isn't Google (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shihar (153932) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @03:01PM (#15139012)
    The Wikipedia is not a glorified message board. It does indeed have standards. When those standards are violated, they edit the content such that the basic standards are met. The standards that fit in these three cases is that bio articles must be on 'known' people, and they must have been covered by reliable sources. This is just a basic bare bones standard.

    Now, can it be argued that these three articles might have met those criteria? Sure. They are subjective criteria for sure. Does it matter? Not really. The fact that these three people have had their bios deleted isn't going to cause me to lose any sleep at night. If these are the worst examples of editorial abuse that the Wikipedia has to offer, I consider that pretty damn good.

    Look, the Wikipedia is good at what it does. The Wikipedia is a great place to start if you want to get an overview of a particular subject without too much pain. The Wikipeida is NOT something to cite in a scientific journal or to get detailed and exact information that is critical to some endeavor simply because that information could be wrong. Nor is the Wikipedia trying to achieve all information in exists. Wikipedia isn't Google, it isn't a hard scientific reference, it isn't even an encyclopedia. Wikipedia is its own beast, and trashing a few irrelevant articles that might or might not have met their guidelines is no great tragedy.

    Someone give me a call when the editor's rewrite the Bush page with their own personal opinion and lock it, then I'll take note.
    • I must agree. Due to slashdotting I was only able to see the Justin Berry bio, and it sure as hell does not belong in an encyclopedia. Some kid starts his own kiddie porn page, recruits other kids to do it, then gets pressed by the FBI, and turns witness. Now everyone that paid him to view the kiddie porn might get reported to the FBI, and they are all very worried. Well it sucks for them, but it still does not make this info really that important.

      Wikipedia has been subject to a lot of criticism in the pre
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 16, 2006 @03:03PM (#15139016)
    That's just great. Not only is the latest "pick on the ugly guy" meme picked up by every forum I can think of, now it's been brought to slashdot. Why was that necessary? Honestly.
  • by Radak (126696) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @03:10PM (#15139046) Journal
    While the referenced Guardian article does mention wikitruth.info, it says absolutely nothing about administrators "going through back channels on Wikipedia and retrieving articles deleted by Jimbo Wales or other higher-ups", as claimed by the submission. Slashdot's accuracy here is looking, well, Wikipedian. This is a creative interpretation at the least and an absolute fallacy at the most. While the statement may well be correct, the reference clearly is not.

    So why is this on Slashdot now, instead of several months ago, when the Justin Berry flame war was going on in full force, when Jimbo and his drones were actively deleting all article content and were banning anyone who questioned their motives? Why did Slashdot ignore the situation at the time, when Slashdot readers could actually have made some noise about Jimbo's concessions to a whiny camwhore who didn't like reading the truth about himself? I know for a fact it was submitted several times.

    Typical Slashdot style of late, I'm afraid... Totally drop the ball when a story is relevant, only to pick it up a few months later and post it... and then probably dupe it.
  • by silsor (866000) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @03:17PM (#15139086)
    At the time the article was originally published, I read that it says "It's a pseudonym the 30-year-old Silicon Valley IT professional uses as he documents the inner machinations of the project, along with a dozen other Wikipedia administrators, on a site called WikiTruth (www.wikitruth.info)." So I went over to the wikitruth site and called up the Special:Listusers page. Surprise surprise, there were only 8 registered accounts on the wiki, only one or two of which were active. I would be genuinely surprised to find more than one "Wikipedia administrator" on the entire site, rather than a group of disgruntled trolls and banned Wikipedia users (the makeup of every other anti-Wikipedia site to date).
    • by typical (886006) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @04:00PM (#15139246) Journal
      You know, I always wondered why the handful of disgruntled WP people out there are so incredibly vocal.

      Then I thought about their characteristics:

      *) They probably are literate and write well, or they wouldn't be working on WP.

      *) They probably have lots of free time, or they wouldn't be working on WP.

      *) They probably like politics, or they'd do what I do and just contribute a little to the occasional article and have nothing to do with any of the politics in WP's running.

      *) They are probably willing to go to a good deal of effort to support things that they feel strongly about (or they wouldn't have been trying to build policy on WP in the first place).

      So you have a group of people with plenty of time to be bitter about WP, and proclaim that it is going to collapse, who are good about writing things about it.

      I don't really have any sympathy for them. WP is entirely free content. If your ideas are correct, you are capable of expressing them, and you want to produce something rather than garner attention by complaining and spearing people, great. You can just fork WP to "myWP" *today*, and most folks will come with you, and the problem will be resolved. If you're just engaging in groundless whining, then the folks won't come with you. Linus Torvalds has said this about himself many times -- that he doesn't have any authority but that which the contributors give him. They choose to work with him. If everyone decides that they want different decisions made, then they'll go with someone else, on a different fork. Nobody is forcing you to work on the Torvalds tree, except for the fact that he does a good job, and people are happy with the situation.

      Heck, a couple of forks might even be a good thing. They'd let some alternate ideas be tried out.

      As far as I can tell, Jimbo Wales got fed up with all the organizational problems the Pepper article was causing -- far out of proportion to the value of the article. This is not JFK assassination theory. Rather, it's a particularly ugly picture that will probably float around the Internet for a month and then vanish. There are *hordes* of Web fads like this, and while someone writing a book on Web fads might still find this useful in a couple of years, I personally doubt that most people will ever think about it again after two years. So you have a not-particularly-valuable article that is causing problems for people trying to get work done. Solution? Just put a block on it for long enough for everyone to cool down, and possibly for the fad to go away. Is that the best fix? No, but any kind of administrative action is going to piss someone off. And people can Google for it, or put up webpages about it, or if it turns out that the Peppers article really matters in a couple of years, someone can re-add it.

      I think that Jimbo Wales was less interested in making a judgement about whether something was valuable or not and more interested in keeping WP functioning. So he made the call that he felt resolved the WP organizational issue and caused the least damage. I can't personally think of a better solution to the problem. If someone does come up with a better solution that hasn't been proposed yet, doubtless it can be adopted instead.
  • WP:OFFICE (Score:3, Informative)

    by Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @03:28PM (#15139118)
    This is a facet of the WP:OFFICE [wikipedia.org] policy. I think it's just something where you have to trust Wikimedia. Obviously they're getting a lot of legal threats, so they have to make some controls on the encyclopedia so that the whole thing doesn't get shut down due to a slashdotting of lawsuits. It's not transparent, and I wish they would say exactly what's happening, but they say that they can't say, so...oh well.

    Good luck to Wikitruth. Keep these pages up for as long as you can without being sued. (I'm not being sarcastic. There needs to be a refuge for these banished pages. But Wikitruth shouldn't expect not to get sued.)
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  • Wikipedia is licenced under the GFDL, removing any possibility of a copyright complaint, and the critics have the safe harbor of protected free speech (commentation about a corporate entity) for libel. Please stop screaming LAWSUIT! at every intersection and learn about the legal system of your country. Thanks.
  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @04:55PM (#15139461) Homepage
    Look up "RC Patrol" on Wikitruth. It's funny, and they have some good points. RC patrollers are the Junior Woodchucks of Wikipedia. But really, Wikitruth is tiny. If you ask for "Random article", you'll see the same articles coming up within a few tries.

    A big problem with Wikipedia itself is that fixing vandalism and keeping out junk is incredibly labor-intensive. It takes a large, active volunteer staff to clean up the junk, and the cleanup backlog is increasing.

    Much of the junk is fancruft; articles bands, albums, movies, and games. Most of that stuff is in databases elsewhere, and in better forms. For movie info, go to IMDB, not Wikipedia. Wikipedia is the wrong tool for database-like material; all those album to song to band to performer links have to be updated manually, and many of the links are missing or inconsistent. This is a job for a database, not people.

    Of the "million articles", a sizable fraction fall into those categories. Games generate vast numbers of entries; there are individual Wikipedia articles for each and every Pokemon character from #1 to #386. Just about every character, location, and object in Star [Wars|Trek|Gate] has an article. Most of them start life badly formatted and without verifiable information, again increasing the cleanup backlog. Really, in any given day, very few new articles about serious subjects are added to Wikipedia.

    On serious subjects, the problem is length and lack of coherency. Someone writes something reasonable, others add to it, with or without enough knowledge to do so, and over time the article becomes long and repetitive. On subjects where books can be, and have been, written, this is a real problem.

    It's amazing that the Wikipedia process works as well as it does.

    • When you get down to it, the fundamental problem that Wikipedia admins seem to have is that their creation has become too successful. Remember that the predecessors to the Internet (NSFNet, ARPANET, and others) were often limited to research and educational purposes - not the widespread commercial use we see today.

      Wikipedia is not Britanica. It needs to stop pretending that it's a traditional encyclopedia. The whole concept of deleting articles because they aren't "notable" enough is bunk. If a Wyoming town [wikipedia.org]
  • by Linuxbeak (938043) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @05:21PM (#15139540)
    According to this article, it was written by Andrew Orlowski of The Register. Why do we take Andrew Orlowski seriously when he has complained(http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/03/23 /britannica_wikipedia_nature_study/ [theregister.co.uk]), trolled(http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/12/17/ji mmy_wales_shot_dead_says_wikipedia/ [theregister.co.uk]), taken things out of context(http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/12/06/wi kipedia_bio/ [theregister.co.uk]) and just generally spouted idiocy(http://www.google.com/search?as_q=Wikipedia &num=10&hs=Znz&hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozi lla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&btnG=Google+Search&as_epq=& as_oq=&as_eq=&lr=&as_ft=i&as_filetype=&as_qdr=all& as_occt=any&as_dt=i&as_sitesearch=www.theregister. co.uk&as_rights=&safe=off [google.com]) regarding anything related to Wikipedia and supporters. If WikiTruth is run by "dozens" of Wikipedia administrators, then tell me why there are only a few user accounts there? Besides, if they want to gripe, fine. Perhaps they should first voice their complaints on Wikipedia FIRST, though.
  • Not surprising (Score:3, Insightful)

    by petrus4 (213815) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @07:27PM (#15139899) Homepage Journal
    Jimbo's creation isn't anywhere near as freewheeling as he would have people believe. There are bills to pay, (hardware upgrades, bandwidth costs, and so on) and he doesn't want to alienate those who might otherwise be willing to pay them. That includes members of such groups as Amway, and there is also a particularly strict group of thought police attached to the article about Richard Stallman. When the slogan talks about a free encyclopedia which anyone can edit, they should really clarify it by saying that anyone can edit it so long as their edits don't include anything politically incorrect, or which might offend people who would otherwise possibly donate.

    The other thing to realise is that the neutral point of view policy is generally applied *extremely* inconsistently. There are very often miniature communities which will attach themselves to various articles, (the GNU/Stallman articles are probably the best example of this that I know of) and they generally have a consensus about what they will or will not allow in an article. Said consensus also doesn't necessarily have anything to do with genuinely factual information, although one hopes that it normally does. I personally believe that the entire idea behind the NPOV policy is broken, simply because it isn't realistically possible. The only real reason why they attempt to maintain it is because they want to try and achieve a level of encyclopedic legitimacy which again, isn't really possible. I also don't believe that not having encyclopedic legitimacy in certain people's minds doesn't detract from Wikipedia's genuine usefulness; especially given that the people who are skeptical about the idea are likely to remain so, and it therefore makes a lot more sense to be realistic about what is or is not possible, rather than maintain something unworkable in order to try and impress people whose opinion is unfavourable anyway.

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Although Wikipedia genuinely is extremely valuable when it comes to many topics, politics and people are the two main areas where it is severely flawed, and where given human nature, it probably can't help being flawed.

    Wikipedia is as much subject to the Golden Rule as anything else these days; that is, that whoever has the gold makes the rules.
  • by Distan (122159) on Sunday April 16, 2006 @10:56PM (#15140552)
    I've been a steady member of the Wikipedia "community" since 2003. Unless anybody has missed it, Jimbo is frequently described as a "benevolent dictator".

    The benevolent part is speculation, but the dictator part is 100% spot on.

    While Wikipedia has many admirable attributes, a dictatorship is a dictatorship no matter what color you paint it.
  • Objectionists (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ranger (1783) on Monday April 17, 2006 @10:56AM (#15142150) Homepage
    I read one telling post that described the Wikipedia founder as an Ayn Randian acolyte. Ayn Rand's views are very compelling if you don't have knowledge of the wider world. So I went and read his profile and indeed he thinks very highly of Ayn Rand. As a recovering Randite, I'd recommend that you stop criticizing him and start your own Wiki-type site. Why? Because you are playing his game. Objectionists thrive on confrontation.

    This will be marked troll or flamebait if an Ayn Randian with moderation points reads this.
  • by merc (115854) <slashdot@upt.org> on Monday April 17, 2006 @12:56PM (#15143014) Homepage
    Not to invoke Godwin (well, ok, I'll do it) but at least Wikipedia's moderators aren't a crew of soccer-mom ninnies like fark's content censors. Wikipedia maintains a fairly decent history of page edits and allows discussions on matters where there may be differing views. Slashdot implements a moderation system rather than erasing submitters' posts.

    Now fark -- Drew used to have a really great system, but not since his band of nancy-boy sissies took power--those fascist blog barons will ban you (and remove your posts) for any little infraction. He also started bowing to commercial interests and removed any content his "ad affiliates" found offensive.

    My solution is... I no longer submit stories, participate in discussions or have anything to do with fark. I also do not participate in TF (their pay-per-use system, which is really a pay-for-porn service).

    This leads me to my point... oh yeah, my point: their server, their rules, you don't have to go there.

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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