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The Dangers of Open Content 240

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the something-to-think-about dept.
gihan_ripper writes "Recently released open movie Elephants Dream found itself in hot water with Catalonians after accidentally using an offensive word instead of 'Català' in the subtitle menu. The cause? Designer Matt Ebb had used Wikipedia to look up the Catalan word for Catalan on a day when the entry had been vandalized. He writes about this experience on the Elephant Dream blog. We may have scoffed at John Seigenthaler over his criticisms of Wikipedia, but it gives us pause for thought when we to heavily on Wikipedia."
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The Dangers of Open Content

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  • I understand the dangers from using wikipedia (and like so many slashdotters have said, for serious work, use it as a starting point, not a source.)

    However, this is more about the troubles with doing international work - its hard to understand the sensitivities & languages of multiple (over 30!) cultures. Companies as large as Microsoft [com.com] have made mistakes [theregister.co.uk] like this before, withlout using open content.

    a version of Windows XP aimed at Latin American markets asked users to select their gender between "not specified," "male" or "bitch."

    As the (google cache) blog author says: [64.233.183.104]

    I also hope everyone can see the humour of it, it's a successful prankster joke we should just laugh about and then move on shrugging it off.


    *shrug* - not that big a deal, and an internationalisation, not open content problem.
    • *shrug* - not that big a deal, and an internationalisation, not open content problem.

      To elaborate a bit - there's large and thriving translator communities out there for many of the worlds languages. I'd go out on a limb and say that any open project can quite easily rustle up competent (and sometimes truly expert) help for any language or localization issue.
      • by Tatarize (682683) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @12:29PM (#15728295) Homepage
        >>I'd go out on a limb and say that any open project can quite easily rustle up competent (and sometimes truly expert) help for any language or localization issue.

        I don't think this is an issue. I mean, Elephant's Dream sucked in English and even properly translated would have issues. I think that, if rather than the dialog in the flick they said profane words... it would have been much more watchable.

        Proves we could do CGI... and we should figure out scriptwriting.
    • I understand the dangers from using wikipedia (and like so many slashdotters have said, for serious work, use it as a starting point, not a source.)

      Why would I trust it as a starting point if I can't trust it as a source?

      • Why would I trust it as a starting point if I can't trust it as a source?

        You shouldn't trust any single source.

        Wikipedia is a useful starting point as it will contain pointers (or at least useful search terms) to begin looking for other items to reference. It's no different to any other encyclopedia in that respect.

        Surely you don't use a single soruce for information for an important project?
        • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@nosPam.gmail.com> on Sunday July 16, 2006 @11:04AM (#15728011) Homepage
          Surely you don't use a single soruce for information for an important project?

          I routinely do. But then the source in question is unimpeachable and has stood the test of time and criticism. In fact, in the real world it's very common to rely on single sources, handbooks, references, etc...
           
          When writing a program, you don't look up the meaning of a command in three sources do you? When wiring a house, you don't check three different copies of the electrical code. When working on your car, all you need is your Chilton's. Examples abound of routine daily use of single sources.
          • When working on your car, all you need is your Chilton's

            You don't want to know how many times I've needed to do something that WASN'T in a Chiltons. Substitute "Factory Service Manual" for "Chiltons" and I'll agree.
            • You don't want to know how many times I've needed to do something that WASN'T in a Chiltons. Substitute "Factory Service Manual" for "Chiltons" and I'll agree.


              Sure, but that's not the problem we see here: to make the analogy correct, have you ever looked up procedure in Chiltons and found it, only to find out later that its instructions were completely (or even maliciously) wrong?

              • by gameforge (965493) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @12:05PM (#15728217) Journal
                When writing a program, you don't look up the meaning of a command in three sources do you?

                Regularly. And only then do I get a complete description, if not find an error in one.

                When wiring a house, you don't check three different copies of the electrical code.

                If one, even. Really, if there were multiple versions (not copies) released at the same time, of course I would look at all of them.

                When working on your car, all you need is your Chilton's.

                And that's exactly why my interior door panel on my old 1993 Grand Am held on for dear life by three screws. Sure it was my fault for not being gentle; but the factory shop manual, I discovered, had a full blown illustration and much more detailed procedure. Chiltons and Haynes both throw five models over ten years into one book, making it useless for anything but drivetrain work. They may as well cut the interior and body work out of their manuals entirely, along with much of the electrical and vacuum system stuff.

                Again, if Pontiac made several publications with varying but similar information, I'd want all of them, and I did own both the Haynes and Chiltons manuals, occasionally referring to all of them.

                The point is, you really can't trust any source of information unless you've personally witnessed the accuracy of the information (i.e. it's your research, etc.) Information comes from imperfect humans, and you simply can't trust that 100% (if 10% in some cases). That's fundamental, not practical; if it turns out most of the info you research is accurate enough for your needs, which happens most of the time, you'll be okay for the most part.

                Wikipedia is ultimately more helpful than it is harmful, but if you choose to use it for a single source of information where it's critical that the information be accurate, you HAVE to double check the info at least, if not simply use it to acquire other sources. Reason: There's no blaming Wikipedia and holding them responsible for your embarassing and possibly consequential mistake in your work.
              • My favorite mistake was in the Chilton's manual I had for my '83 Firebird years back. The process for changing the wiper motor had step 1 as "disconnect the battery cable at the negative terminal" and step 2 was "raise the hood". Still makes me smile all these years later.
          • When writing a program, you don't look up the meaning of a command in three sources do you? When wiring a house, you don't check three different copies of the electrical code. When working on your car, all you need is your Chilton's. Examples abound of routine daily use of single sources.

            No - I don't use an encyclopedia for any of them, I would use a specialised source, perhaps using wikipedia/other encyclopedia to find out what that specialised source was. That was the mistake the guy we're discussing made
          • When writing a program, you don't look up the meaning of a command in three sources do you? When wiring a house, you don't check three different copies of the electrical code. When working on your car, all you need is your Chilton's.

            Your analogy is flawed.

            When I program in three different languages, I will have to look up the meaning of a command in at least three sources.
            When I wire a house in two different countries, I will have to check at least two different copies of the electrical code.
            When I work on

          • Actually, I do. When I learned for my exams at school, I found out that it was often the best to take at least 2 different sources, as the people who wrote the book did this in a certain style and with a certain background that was often different from what I wanted to know exactly. Combining several sources really helped me through college, and still helps me (also when coding).

            Furthermore, you don't want to know how many mistakes or misconceptions (often for the sake of simplicity) there can be in handb

        • It's no different to any other encyclopedia in that respect.
          But do you really think an encyclopedia like Britannica would have had the same error? I doubt it.
          • But do you really think an encyclopedia like Britannica would have had the same error?

            You're right. You won't find a Catalan linguistic mistake in Brittanica. I wouldn't be so confidant about Dogon, Kwa, Gbe, Belarusian or Kalenjin though. Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

          • As has been shown in the past, Britannica is chock full of errors, about as many as Wikipedia for the articles that were compared. And, who knows about the neutrality of Britannica's articles? They have "50 levels of fact checking" and yet they still leave glaring omissions and outright falsehoods; nobody has even begun to examine the neutrality of Britannica's articles.
            • Care to prove any of those statements or is it just another Wikideadhead justifying the unjustifiable?
            • So I'm just as much at risk of seeing an offensive word instead of an accurate translation in Britannica as in Wikipedia? Somehow, I still don't think so.
              • "So I'm just as much at risk of seeing an offensive word instead of an accurate translation in Britannica as in Wikipedia? Somehow, I still don't think so."

                WTF?? So, the only way you can win an argument is by turning it into another argument? We were talking about factual accuracy and neutrality. But, I showed your argument was bullshit. So, you decided to switch over to "offensive words". I don't have any data on that, as nobody has looked into it, so I can't help you. If you want to assume one way or t
                • My guess is that you would have to take a random sample larger than the size of Britannica before coming across an "offensive word" that is vandalism in Wikipedia, simply because Britannica is so much smaller than Wikipedia...
                  Considering that I've already come across several instances of "offensive" vandalism in the relatively little (compared to Britannica's size) I've read of Wikipedia, I'd venture that's mistaken.
                  • Ahh, and now we have hearsay. Would you care to back that up with evidence, without resorting to vandalizing Wikipedia articles yourself? Click Random Article in the Wikipedia sidebar as many times as is necessary until you find offensive words that are vandalism. Now select as many random Britannica articles as is necessary to come across an offensive word (you can do that by using a random number generator to generate 7-digit numbers and plug the numbers into the Britannica URL, for example, http://search [eb.com]
          • The same error? It would be especially alarming as we're talking about the effects of a vandal.

            But an error? Any error? That's a given.

            I'm not saying that the difference in reliability between Britannica and Wikipedia is as small as one study has shown, just that there is a big difference between "reliable" and "error free". Quoting either the Britannica or Wikipedia in book or paper is a sin of lazy researchers. They're encyclopedias. Their purpose is to offer a general overview of many subjects. Everyth

        • Wikipedia is a useful starting point as it will contain pointers (or at least useful search terms) to begin looking for other items to reference. It's no different to any other encyclopedia in that respect.

          Surely you don't use a single soruce for information for an important project?


          How do I know its a useful starting point if I don't know whether anything its telling me is correct AND the publisher disavows all errors, vandalism, falsehoods and any responsibility?

          Whoever wrote that its a "faith-based" ency
        • >> Why would I trust it as a starting point if I can't trust it as a source?

          > You shouldn't trust any single source.

          This is just crap. If I ask a cop for directions, should I ask another one, even if the first one seemed sure? Do you carry two companies maps of the same area in your car? Do slashdotters advise other slashdotters to consult two lawyers independently for legal advice? How many households own multiple dictionaries? How many people have the time to read two daily newspapers, or watch

          • If I was creating a map, you can bet your ass I would consult more than one map, otherwise you are just creating the same damn map. If you are writing a paper,creating a map, or writing a news article, you had better make damn sure you know what you are talking about, not rely on one article.
      • Why would I trust it as a starting point if I can't trust it as a source?

        because it is convenient and mostly correct. Very few sources are 100% accurate. Especially something as large and comprehensive and open as Wikipedia.

        The shame is that the DVD was already pressed before the translator who found the problem was able to see it. He should have sent out tapes or burned DVD's to the translators before pressing the batch for the wide release.

        I do hope that this isn't the only thing we discuss about this
        • Why would I trust it as a starting point if I can't trust it as a source?

          because it is convenient and mostly correct.


          But any propaganda from any extremist group is "mostly correct". It's the bits that aren't correct that bother me.

          Very few sources are 100% accurate. Especially something as large and comprehensive and open as Wikipedia.

          Maybe you should lookup the word "open" in a dictionary. It doesn't mean what you think it means. Also while you're looking, look up "scholarship". You won't find that on Wiki
      • All sources are opinion, fact is mearly an opinion. The problem with Wikipedia is working out whose and how accurate the opinion is. Of course it makes a good starting point from which to find other opinions and you can form your opinion from more reliable sources.
        • No, a fact is a fact. That is why it is a fact, because a fact is a reflection of what is. If it were not a fact, then it would be a belief, an opinion, mere fiction. You cannot redefine what is simply by believing that it is different than it is. But it is true that much data published as fact is nothing but fiction, and the chief complaint about Wikipedia is that one cannot immediately discern which is which. On the other hand, Wikipedia doesn't claim to be an authoritative source on anything, although ma
      • Because every good Wikipedia article cites its references. Good references will have an ISBN or hyperlink attached. Those references can then be studied and judged on their own merit.

        Suddenly, a lot more of your research paper has been done for you.
      • Why would I trust it as a starting point if I can't trust it as a source?

        Trust it about as much as you'd trust the internet as whole. Be realistic; if you're mildly curious about something new to you and you want a quick overview, don't you plug the term into Google and do some quick reading? The results could come from anywhere: hoaxers, someone with a strongly biased agenda, or someone who did bad research (including possibly using Wikipedia). And yet most of the time it's Good Enough. Wikipedia on av

      • Why would I trust it as a starting point if I can't trust it as a source?

        Because, according to Wikipedia rules, each article is supposed to contain a collection of links to authoritative sources that contain all of the information in the article[1]. Hopefully, you know enough to be able to assess when a source is trustworthy and therefore you are able to verify that the information is, if not correct, at least as likely to be correct as it would be if you had found it in (e.g.) Britannica.

        OK, in order to d
    • It's a shame, too, as the Elephant's Dream project looks to be material put out under a Creative Commons licence; people are encouraged to remix and re-edit the content to the extent that the makers even provide a torrent of a lossless Ogg video file (in HD, too- yay!).

      More of this sort of thing, I say!

      I suspect that if this kind of thing happened to Sony or Univeral Studios or another Holywood outfit that this incedent would be a half-assed lawsuit before you could say 'wiki', probably featuring some
      • It's also a warning to defacers of content that there is the potential for being targeted if you piss off the right people.

        I doubt very much that defacing Wikipedia would make you responsible for the embarrasment or monetary losses suffered by people who took that information at face value and didn't bother to check it, even in Legalistic America.

        But, just to be safe: I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. And, since I felt the need to say that, one might wonder if I believe in my own advice

    • Still, MS sometimes gets it right and gets slammed for it [com.com] by delusional governments with nothing better to do than to push their slighly optimistic opinion about who parts of the world are run by onto everyone who does business with them (yes, China and India, I'm talking about you, you don't own as much land as you say you do). Then you have Saudi Arabia who didn't like it when they heard the Koran in music so they banned a game (I'm sure not many Christians or Hindus liked "My Sweet Lord" by George Harris
    • Here's the basic rule of any encyclopedia (online or otherwise). They're starting points. They should never be considered final or definitive. Go to the literature if you want that.
  • by thc69 (98798) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @10:37AM (#15727938) Homepage Journal
    when we to heavily on Wikipedia

    Nuff said.
  • Oops. (Score:2, Funny)

    by CCFreak2K (930973)
    I find this funny that it's right on the heels of the new release of Blender article. I believe the saying goes:

    If you have an open mind, people will throw a lot of garbage into it.
  • We appear to have slashdotted the blog. Can we have more of these articles please?

    And to stay remotely on topic - don't publish ANYTHING that you've obtained from ANYWHERE as a single source bit of information. Research. Research and re search again.

  • it doesn't seem like this is too bad a problem... still, it does show you I guess that Wikipedia can't always be trusted and maybe shouldn't be in a professional setting. Of course it might show that it is important to double check any source because nothing is infallible
  • All this really does (Score:5, Informative)

    by also-rr (980579) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @10:42AM (#15727956) Homepage
    is show the importance of checking multiple sources, especially when you are relying on it for something important! However, I believe that Wikipedia is already looking at a stable version, in which a stable and unstable branch of the project are maintained with the unstable changes merged in reguarly. This would remove problems like this one, for the most part anyway.
    • Mod parent up. Anyone versed in serious writing, be it journalism/english lit/history test/etc knows that you must validate your sources at a minimum of 2 times, preferably 3. When you have a sole source of knowledge, it must be identified as such.

      Remember "All the President's Men"? Bernstein and Woodward did what CBS forgot to do w/ the supposed Bush service records -- validate with independent sources. When you don't you get burned, sooner or later.
    • I'd also like to see Wikipedia implement a feature where any text that has changed recently is somehow highlighted. That way any schmoe who browses through is at least being made aware that the content he's reading may currently be the subject of vandalism or an argument or something.
  • I have always believed that when you need something translated into a language you need to have a native speaker at least review what you have done. So many companies have screwed this up to the point that things like japanese/english is a standing joke.

    If you are going to devote so much effort to producing a product (closed or open source), then why the hell do you piss around with half arsed guesses as to how to translate text?

    On the other hand I did have an interesting time with a russian girl once. We
    • So many companies have screwed this up to the point that things like japanese/english is a standing joke.

      While Engrish can be pretty amusing, English/English can be just as bad. By that, I mean that documentation and words written by native English speakers are often atrocious. For an example simply read the last sentence of the story submission.
      • This is very true. I post on a message board with a community that spreads across Europe (and North America), and it seems like the Germans, Spaniards, and Poles all use better grammar and spelling than most of the native English speakers on the board.
  • Frankly, Mr. Ebb should have known better. As a copy editor at what may be the most prestigious college paper [dailytexanonline.com] in the U.S., I can attest to Wikipedia's occasional (though not pervasive) errors. Because of these, I have a standing policy of referring to Wikipedia only for corroboration, not confirmation. Anyone who fact-checks - for a living or otherwise - should already have in mind things like source bias, credibility, etc.
    • Did you really just say that the paper you work for, The Daily Texan (University of Texas at Austin) "may be the most prestigious college paper in the U.S." and then go on to decry source bias and credibility???
  • by a10_es (579819) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @10:55AM (#15727992)
    I'm catalan. And I can say that lately there's been a lot of hatred against our nation pushed by some spanish political parties (Yet I don't to turn this into a political discussion). This problem appeared because of a vandalized entry in wikipedia, but could also have appeared if a person had modified the film or written it wrong from the start, so the problem here is not the reliance on open content, but the reliance on people's goodness, which in the open [content, source, ...] is mostly there, but can be displaced by some feelings, most of them learnt and fueled since childhood. But the same thing's been happening throughout the history. Surely if you looked on recognized encyclopedias some time ago, a lot of entries about slaves would be unaccpetable by today standards. The same happens over conquered soil after a war, when the losers become the vermin that had to be erradicated and the winners the saviors of the people (and usually end up being as bad as those they overthrew). And many other examples could be given. So the problem here is the open content or close-minded people?
  • I pondered a similar question when it came to marking schools on WikiMapia - Does the benefits to students/moms being able to pinpoint their child's school for their own mapping purposes justify the risk in pointing out these locations to potential paedos and other child predators?

    I decided to take solace in the fact anyone that serious would have already mapped it themselves rather than depend on an open-source map ganked from Google in the first place.
  • De-vandalized (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tirs (195467) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @11:06AM (#15728016) Homepage
    Just for your info, guys: I just visited the article and removed the offensive terms, also leaving a small explanative note about the term itself just in case someone hears it again knows what it is all about.

    A_10_es: si et plau, dóna-li una ullada quan puguis, a veure si m'he deixat alguna cosa. Gràcies.
    [A_10_es: please, give it an eyeball when you have a moment, to see if I forgot something. Thank you.]

    That was a sample of Catalan language; will somebody give me a +1=Informative? ;-)
    • Re:De-vandalized (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Tim the Gecko (745081) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @11:34AM (#15728108)
      Just for your info, guys: I just visited the article and removed the offensive terms, also leaving a small explanative note about the term itself just in case someone hears it again knows what it is all about.

      You edited a version from April 7th and therefore you overwrote all the edits people have made over the last three months. You also managed to miss about 10 stray "Polacos" scattered through your old starting version of the article. The article was reverted and had no "Polacos" at all, but it now seems to have been reverted to your version again.
      I hope you will have a long and happy relationship with Wikipedia, and get an account there
  • Proofreading? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Sunday July 16, 2006 @11:09AM (#15728022) Journal
    Isn't this more of a case study of not proofreading the final product rather than relying on an unreliable source? The list of names could have been emailed to all the translators first before finalizing the DVD.

    Joeri and thousands of screaming fans here were rightfully pestering me to get it done as fast as possible,

    I think I found the real problem.
    • Definitely. Also, on the blog, he mentions "Guifré, our Catalan subtitle translator"; instead of just having the translator proofread the work, why hadn't the heading for that translator's language originated with the translator in the first place instead of with wikipedia?
  • lol Pwned! :P
  • by (H)elix1 (231155) <slashdot.helix@nOSPaM.gmail.com> on Sunday July 16, 2006 @11:13AM (#15728033) Homepage Journal
    I do a fair bit of international coding. Problem is, I am not fluent in many of the languages I am building software. When putting together my language bundles, I always have someone do a quick walkthrough of the application who knows the language and context. You cannot count on software to give you a proper translation. Last year I was building some portlets for a French company. I added navigation and hit the fish to translate some of the finishing touches. I added a 'back' button - only to find the word I used was a person's back (not return to the previous step) in my i18n resource bundle.

    How do they say - nothing is as permanent as that which was deemed temporary? Not uncommon for stuff like this to not get checked by QA.
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @11:18AM (#15728062)
    By now, everyone knows that research on spelling, regional colloquialisms, and obscure information is best (and most accurately) satisfied by a visit to MySpace. After all, it's the busiest destination on the web now, and millions of people can't be wrong.
  • by fermion (181285) * on Sunday July 16, 2006 @11:21AM (#15728075) Homepage Journal
    This is no different than reading something anywhere and then quoting it as fact. The only difference is that wikipedia is not static, and so the errors can change from minute to minute. Therefore this is not a problem with open content, but a problem with dynamic open content.

    All of this can be easily solved by fact checking before the distribution of a static content.

    I do understand the problem. I can be careless. But when I am I do not blame my carelessness on someone else.

  • Remember that the Seigenthaler article was tehre for weeks and months. So forget the idea that it's just that people might come across the article on the minute or hour that it had a vandalized version.

    For example, the FSLN [wikipedia.org] article has an introduction, and then begins "The FSLN was formally organised in 1961 by recent KGB recruits Carlos Fonseca Amador, Tomás Borge Martínez and Silvio Mayorga." The rest of the article goes on in that sort of tone. I don't know how many people in the world thin

    • Remember that the Seigenthaler article was tehre for weeks and months. So forget the idea that it's just that people might come across the article on the minute or hour that it had a vandalized version.

      Theory tells us that the length of time a vandalised article will remain depends on how many people are looking at it, in a roughly linear fashion. Therefore we can work on the basis that for each case of vandalism, approximately the same number of people will see it vandalised.

      In this case, the article is q
    • I don't know how many people in the world think the main purpose of the FSLN was to establish a satellite of the USSR "two days driving time from Harlingen, Texas", but obviously that is what is considered in this article.

      Huh?

      The only mention of Texas in the article is in this sentence (previous sentence quoted for context):

      In 1966, this KGB-controlled Sandinista sabotage and intelligence group was sent to the U.S.-Mexican border. Their primary targets were southern NORAD facilities the oil pipeline running

  • by Wordsmith (183749) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @11:26AM (#15728087) Homepage
    Why scoff at Seigenthaler? I met the man a few months ago, and we discussed his history with Wikipedia. He was very level-headed and reasonable about the whole thing. He acknowledged it's an interesting social experiment, but was very worried for what it can do to the reputations of good people if taken seriously as an information source.

    It's worth noting that Seigenthaler DID eventually track down the malicious poster. Seigenthaler's an adamant free-speech advocate (and a head-honcho muckety-muck at the First Amendment Center), with an extreme distaste for libel and slander laws - he'd rather see lies and mischaracterizations flushed out through the marketplace of ideas. So he didn't sue, but he did go on TV and demand an apology from the malicious poster. That seems like a reasonable thing to me; the poster embarrassed Seigenthaler through his lies, and Seigenthaler embarrassed the poster through a demand for truth.

    Seigenthaler also told me that when the poster's boss threatened to fire the poster, Seigenthaler called and asked the boss not to; he said the matter was settled was the truth was on the record.

    He said the incident pushed and strained his belief in the marketplace of ideas, and that he was awfully tempted to go ahead with a libel suit. I'm glad ultimately he stayed true to his core values.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @11:42AM (#15728130) Homepage Journal
    The problem is not "open content", Wikipedia, or vandals. The problem is people who rely on a single unaccountable source for any knowledge. That is a recipe for failure.

    This has also been the problem with "authoritative" sources, like the Encyclopedia Britannica, NY Times or White House Spokesman. Those sources are highly managed, consciously or unconsciously, so they don't usually go as obviously haywire. Instead they mislead to usually workable misconceptions. In the service of the writer/speaker or the organization that produces/publishes them.

    Now that the world is finally filling with lots of smalltime publishers, as publishing has become so cheap, easy and scaleable, we're all seeing the limits of sources. So we all must learn what the past publishers learn: power of the press belongs to people with presses, and power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. The only way to handle the corruption is to match power against power, cross-reference information from independent (of each other) sources.

    Wikipedia will be even better when it includes an independent "fact checking" feature, like automated Google/Yahoo/MSN searching of citations. Until then, its superior power to managed press is just raw power that requires users to do that for ourselves.
  • Quickie Mart (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Joebert (946227)
    Why aren't changes highlighted, or otherwise made glowing neon fucking {INSERT COLO[U]R HERE} for the first X days after the change is made ?
  • by Simonetta (207550) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @12:02PM (#15728210)
    Seriously, you got caught in some asshole's juvenile prank. Defacing a public resource (wikipedia) to reflect an immature joke at the expense of the next person to use that resource.

        So apologise, repair the mistake, and move on. Just because some jerk doesn't understand the usefullness of an open source public resource doesn't change the utility of that resource. And anyone who is 'offended' by the prank needs to understand this. This is like sueing the streetcar company for racism because some pissant spray-painted a racist remark on a streetcar. The correct response is to find the person responsible if possible, and if not, then to teach your own children why civilized people don't do such things.
  • "... it gives us pause for thought when we to heavily on Wikipedia."

      If someone uses only one source for their information they deserve what they get!

      The fact the page was vandalized on one day doesn't mean Wikipedia is inferior either, it would have been corrected. One error doesn't mean the end of the World.
  • An interesting tidbit: Not that I'm trying to place blame here, but if Mr. Ebb had been really careful, he would've noticed an inconsistency in the defaced Wikipedia page: The correct term, "Català", had been replaced with "Polaco" (whatever that means). However, if you look at the "in other languages" box at the left hand side, you'll notice that the cross-reference to the catalan Wikipedia site still points to the correct term, "Català".

    From what I've seen, Wikipedia vandalism is almost alwa
  • When I use a dictionary, I use it as a source, not a starting point. Most peoples' use of encyclopaedias is as a reference, not a starting point. I agree that senior or college students writing theses or essays would be well advised to look further than one encyclopaedia entry, but for the vast majority of uses, most people want to go to one place and find the answer, AND THAT'S WHAT ENCYCLOPAEDIAS WERE DESIGNED FOR!

    Alas, I see Wikipaedia as the strange case of the mediocre being the enemy of the good. It (

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @12:22PM (#15728266) Homepage

    This is a good example of a more general problem with WP, which is that the design was optimized for getting an encyclopedia off the ground initially, not for maintaining it in the long-term. It's analogous to an internet startup company that kludges up their software real quick using Visual Basic code, lots of gotos, and no comments; what they care about is getting it working initially, so they can make their IPO.

    A lot of people don't realize that WP's design emerged after an initial period of uncertainty and experimentation over what model to use. There were alternative models, like Nupedia's [wikipedia.org], but they failed mainly because they were too cumbersome for new writers to get involved in.

    My experience as a WP editor over the last few years has been that in the early stages, both the number and quality of the articles improved rapidly, but that within the last year or so, there have started to be severe quality problems. In the early stages, the problems came from not having enough users. For instance, the early versions of the article on astrology were ridiculously credulous, and when I tried to make it more balanced, I couldn't make any progress, because there were only roughly three of us working on the article, and the other two were true believers. I gave up on the article, but when I came back and looked at it again in a couple of years, the problem had been pretty well corrected, presumably because the continuing influx of new users made it impossible for a couple of fanatical true believers to continue using the article to push their POV.

    But recently, there's the opposite problem. There are so many people editing WP that it's become virtually impossible to keep a good article good. It's an interesting exercise to look at an article that became a featured article, say, a year ago, and compare its quality then with its quality now. In most cases, you'll find that it's gotten worse because of lots of random, uncoordinated edits by people who may have a POV to push, or who may just not be very knowledgeable.

    WP's design is an exteme design, going about as far as it's possible to go toward openness and ease of use. I don't think that design is working at this stage in WP's evolution, which is why I've mostly stopped editing on WP.

  • Wikipedia is too open. I think it would discourage the vandalism a bit more if it first required logging in as a registered username to make changes. And maybe in addition to that some kind of moderation system could apply to changes made to controversial articles. And a new idea to add would be "rebuttal articles", different than a talk/discussion article, parallels each controversial article where differing points of view can be placed with less limitations.

  • by ChaosDiscord (4913) * on Sunday July 16, 2006 @12:44PM (#15728354) Homepage Journal
    Between the trolls [www.gnaa.us], complete loons [timecube.com], insane geological theories [nealadams.com], loons [stormfront.org] engaging in revisionist history, bad biological science [jesus-is-savior.com], and racists [kkk.com]. Clearly because some parts of the internet are bad, the entire thing is totally worthless. But if you say this sort of thing, you get shouted down by people who've drunk Tim Berners-Lee's kool-aid. Clearly the logical course of action is to spend my time loudly complaining about how awful the Internet is, how anyone posting content to the web is wasting their time, and how only a web-cultist would claim that even though the web is flawed that there is any value to it.
  • The simple answer is, there is not perfect source. Wikipedia has probably more information than an other and probably growing faster than all the others combined. There are bound to be mistakes made. In addition, since it is open, it allows for all sorts of manipulation (watch the USA politician's stuff over the next 4 months; the shear amount of lies and purposeful deletions on both sides will be astounding). But overall, it is worth have some amount of garbage for access to useful info. But anybody who us
  • Professionalism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Brandybuck (704397) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @01:15PM (#15728432) Homepage Journal
    Professionals use professional translation services. 'Nuff said.
  • growing pains (Score:3, Interesting)

    by macsox (236590) on Sunday July 16, 2006 @01:29PM (#15728484) Journal
    this is the fundamental problem with wikipedia -- and it's unfixable.

    as it remained cultish and unknown, this was not a problem, both from the random vandalisation and trust of unfamiliar users standpoints. now, there are multiple issues as people think of it as the equivalent of britannica.

    another is this -- it is very difficult, in certain circumstances, for objectivity to survive. i, for example, work in politics. information about a candidate for office in my city is erroneous and biased intentionally. however, i lack the clout within wikipedia to have my corrections upheld by editors -- the candidate's opponent's supporters are merciless about arguing and re-subjectifying the content. there's no recourse.

    we've developed a new AOL (new users not understanding the internet and causing and experiencing challenges) -- from the standpoint that wikipedia has grown to the point that users don't know it's not perfect and can be harmful, and there are going to be a number of growing pains as a result.
  • Leaving aside the general issue of Wikipedia accuracy, Wikipedia isn't the best source of linguistic information, something for which there are specialized resources. In the case of Catalan, there is DACCO (Diccionari Anglès-Català de Codi Obert) [catalandictionary.org], an open source bilingual dictionary project. DACCO allows users to contribute, but via a more controlled process than just letting anybody edit. This approach, of starting with a few experts, having them admit others whom they recognize as responsible a

  • So he had subject matter experts that were already helping him but he ignored them in favour of using Wikipedia? This sounds more like a breakdown in his process than a problem with Wikipedia. Why didn't he shoot out an email to all of the translators telling them what he was doing and asking for them to email him how the language is written in their own language? At the very least why didn't he email his self-researched list out to all of the translators for review before finalizing things?

"Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit!" -- Looney Tunes, "What's Opera Doc?" (1957, Chuck Jones)

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