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+ - Wikipedia and the Oligarchy of Ignorance 1

Submitted by Andreas Kolbe
Andreas Kolbe (2591067) writes "A recent news story reported that a Wikipedia editor had take it upon himself to make tens of thousands of volunteer edits to eliminate a single perceived grammatical mistake ("comprised of") on the online encyclopedia's pages. In Wikipedia and the Oligarchy of Ignorance, David Golumbia looks at what motivates people to become involved in a crowdsourced project like Wikipedia. He finds lust for power, and concludes that even though Wikipedia purports to be engaged in a democratisation of knowledge, its structurelessness has actually made it a "breeding ground for tyrants". Golumbia approvingly quotes Mako Hill and Shaw, both enthusiastic supporters of the crowdsourcing concept, who nevertheless found that "the adoption of peer production’s organizational forms may inhibit the achievement of enhanced organizational democracy"."

Comment: Re:"Millions of dollars spent" / state of Flow (Score 1) 94

Lots of examples. Article talk page and subpage working areas where people collaboratively create an organised list of source quotes, or post draft paragraphs in wikitext for discussion and subsequent transfer to the article. Votes, polls and requests for comment, for example to decide which of several possible image files to use. Customised user talk pages. Talk pages that exceed three indent levels (the maximum allowed in Flow) are very common, and if you've ever tried to have an intricate discussion on Facebook (vs., say, Reddit, which has excellent indenting), you'll appreciate the benefits. Present talk pages are very flexible and handle all such uses very well. Flow not so much.

+ - The bizarre and complex story of a failed Wikipedia software extension

Submitted by metasonix
metasonix (650947) writes "Originally developed by Wikia coders, "Liquid Threads" was intended to be a better comment system for use on MediaWiki talkpages. When applied to Wikipedia, then each Wikipedia talkpage or noticeboard would become something resembling a more modernized bulletin board, hopefully easier to use.

Unfortunately, the project was renamed "Flow" and taken over by the Wikimedia Foundation's developers. And as documented in this very long Wikipediocracy post, the result was "less than optimal". After seven years and millions of dollars spent, even WMF Director Lila Tretikov admits "As such it is not ready for “prime time” for us."

Thus, like almost every other large software project undertaken by the WMF in recent years (for example), "Flow" didn't flow, it crashed and burned. Remember this story the next time Wikipedia runs more fundraising banners on its articles; now you have some idea of where the money actually goes."

+ - Thirteen Wikipedia editors sanctioned in mammoth GamerGate arbitration case->

Submitted by The ed17
The ed17 (2834807) writes "The English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee has closed the colossal GamerGate arbitration case. One editor has been site-banned, while another twelve are subject to remedies ranging from admonishments to broad topic bans and suspended sitebans. Arbitrator Roger Davies told the Signpost that the case was complicated by its size and complexity, including 27 named parties and 41 editors presenting roughly 34,000 words worth of on-wiki evidence—a total that does not include email correspondence."
Link to Original Source

+ - Is Wikipedia biased for Israel and against Palestinians? 5

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Wikipedia's pro-Jewish bias has been discussed in Wikipedia-criticism circles for years, but today the Wikipediocracy blog ran a item relating to it that will attract controversy: it proves that English-language Wikipedia is heavily biased in favor of Israeli and Jewish subjects, and against Palestinians. And it starts with very disturbing examples — Wikipedia biographies of Israeli and Palestinian children who were killed in the endless civil war. Specifically, articles about Palestinian children who were killed by Israelis are almost guaranteed to be deleted from the "encyclopedia of record", while articles about Israeli children killed by Palestinians receive "special protection"."

Comment: Re:I don't think you know what that word means (Score 1) 274

by Andreas Kolbe (#48510233) Attached to: A Mismatch Between Wikimedia's Pledge Drive and Its Cash On Hand?
The circle goes like this:

Hey, we got 40% more money than last year. We can expand our staff by 40%!

Shit, we are paying out 40% more than last year. We need a bigger reserve! Let's up our fundraising!

Hey, we got 40% more money than last year. We can expand our staff by 40%!

Shit, we are paying out 40% more than last year. We need a bigger reserve! Let's up our fundraising!

Hey, we got 40% more money than last year. We can expand our staff by 40%!

Etc.

Or simply look at this graph. The reserve they shoot for is a function of the spending, and the spending is a function of how much money they have.

They still want to "scale up" much more. And they can *always* justify that they need a bigger reserve next year than this year by spending more in this year. So it's always just "prudent and sensible" to ask for more money than last year, whether the money was spent sensibly or not.

I don't think anyone minds if they spend more, if there is a commensurate benefit to the end user, such as enhanced quality and reliability, and readers are told honestly what their donations are supposed to fund. But 1. product quality has been lacking, and 2. none of this is about "keeping Wikipedia online and ad-free" as the banner implies. The more they spend on paid staff, the smaller the proportion of their budget concerned with that actually becomes.

Just for a laugh, listen to Jimmy Wales speaking in 2005 about hosting, server and bandwidth costs. (Yes, articles are longer today, page views are 15 times higher than in 2005, but on the other hand bandwidth has become cheaper and there are economies of scale.)

Comment: Re:mirrors? (Score 1) 274

by Andreas Kolbe (#48509273) Attached to: A Mismatch Between Wikimedia's Pledge Drive and Its Cash On Hand?
These already exist. Wikiwand is one, and there are many other less sophisticated mirrors that do not make much of an impact, as they have poor Google rankings. It's partly why the Wikimedia Foundation feels it has to expand and professionalise its software engineering effort: the Wikipedia interface looks very dated today, and as Wikipedia content is free, anyone can host it. And if anyone does it better than the Wikimedia Foundation itself, it's conceivable that readers will flock elsewhere, leaving the Foundation in the lurch. The fact that Google includes data from Wikipedia in its Knowledge Graph (the information panel on the right that appears when you Google a word) is already having an impact on Wikipedia pageviews.

Comment: Re:Not only that... (Score 1) 274

by Andreas Kolbe (#48509195) Attached to: A Mismatch Between Wikimedia's Pledge Drive and Its Cash On Hand?
Wikipedia has a significant problem with content related to this part of the world. Read How pro-fascist ideologues are rewriting Croatia's history. There are similar problems in Indonesia – see Don’t Trust Wikipedia on Indonesia – and in South Africa: The political economy of wikiality: a South African inquiry into knowledge.

It's all got to do with why people contribute to Wikipedia.

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