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+ - How Google has been implenting "Forget Me" requests.->

Submitted by gurps_npc
gurps_npc (621217) writes "CNN Money has a short, interesting piece on the results of Google's implementing Europe's "Right to be Forgotten".

They are denying most requests, particularly those made by convicted criminals, but are honoring the requests to remove salacious information — such as when a rape victim requested the article mentioning her by name be removed from searches for her name.

All in all, they seem to be doing a good job of respecting privacy, the law, and free speech."

Link to Original Source

+ - German Editor Admits Working for The CIA->

Submitted by Nicola Hahn
Nicola Hahn (1482985) writes "The former editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany's larger papers has come forward to admit that he worked closely with the CIA. Udo Ulfkotte indicates, among other things, that U.S. intelligence is set on fomenting military conflict with Russia:

"I am very fearful of a new war in Europe, and I don't like to have this situation again, because war is never coming from itself, there is always people who push for war, and this is not only politicians, it is journalists too. ...We have betrayed our readers, just to push for war. ...I don't want this anymore; I’m fed up with this propaganda. We live in a banana republic, and not in a democratic country where we have press freedom"

Of course the CIA’s long-standing connections to the press are part of the public record. As are its attempts to sway public opinion. But this sort of infiltration and subversion aren’t limited to newspapers. Intelligence agencies have shown a talent for undermining everything from hi-tech products to entire power structures. Such clandestine machinations raise a question: are spies and their covert programs compatible with democracy? Paging Mr. Snowden..."

Link to Original Source

+ - Wikipedia defames a college basketball player - for six years

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "A truly disturbing Wikipediocracy report describes possibly one of the worst defamation jobs in Wikipedia's history: a claim that Boston College basketball player Joe Streater was involved in a point-shaving scandal during the 1978-79 season. Not only was Streater not even a member of the team at the time, this "subtle vandalism" was repeated by news organizations such as Yahoo Sports and the AP wire service. Inserted by an anonymous IP address in 2008, it was not removed until last week, when a sports blogger pointed it out. Once again, Wikipedia gets a fact so wrong, it might have ruined a man's life. And the journalists who cheerfully repeated this Wikipedia hoax have yet to be criticized for encouraging Wikipedia "citogenesis"."

Comment: Re:And the culprit is (Score 1) 165

Please just don't repeat the meme that a Nature study found Wikipedia to be about as reliable as Britannica.

At least say that based on a small sample of articles, a journalistic news report in Nature opined that Wikipedia's science articles were only slightly less reliable than Britannica's, but considerably less well-written, and that Britannica contested those results. That would be the truth, rather than the meme. Mkay?

Your point about the hazards of anonymous contributions is well taken.

Comment: Re:And the culprit is (Score 1) 165

First of all, the Nature piece itself found Britannica to be superior – just not by as much as expected.

Secondly, it is a matter of record that Nature only examined science articles, many of them quite specialised. It is inexcusable to omit that qualification. There simply is no evidence at all that Wikipedia is superior to Britannica in other topic areas, and copious evidence within Wikipedia itself of how often articles are biased by special interest groups (just look at the history of Wikipedia arbitration cases).

Third, Nature chose to penalise Britannica for information that was omitted, but contained in Wikipedia: that was counted as an "error". As Britannica themselves pointed out, "Nature accused Britannica of 'omissions' on the basis of reviews of article excerpts, not the articles themselves. In a number of cases only parts of the applicable Britannica articles were reviewed." In other words, they butchered Britannica articles and then penalised Britannica for the fact that the remaining stump failed to contain some item of information that the full article would have contained.

Fourth, Nature noted, but chose not to penalise Wikipedia for, confusing presentation and bad style, essentially proposing that a haphazardly compiled jumble of facts should be considered equal to a well-structured, easy-to-understand introduction to a topic written by a world-renowned expert.

Lastly, there is by now a very long list of journalists and writers found to have copied spurious facts from Wikipedia. Where is a similar list of writers embarrassed for having gotten their information from Britannica? If Lord Leveson had looked up the founders of the Independent newspaper in Britannica, he would not have ended up ascribing that achievement to some unknown Californian student.

Beyond simple errors, there is very copious evidence of bias and covert paid editing in Wikipedia. The Croatian Wikipedia was taken over by right-wing extremists, to the point where the country's education minister warned students not to rely on it, as the country's history was thoroughly falsified by fringe groups. Those are all problems Britannica has never had.

I could go on. I have been a Wikipedian for nigh on ten years. I have seen the problems first-hand.

Comment: Re:And the culprit is (Score 2) 165

Back in 2005, Wikipedia was studied for accuracy against the Encyclopaedia Britannica. And they were found to be about the same. Since then Wikipedia has improved a lot, and they've stopped printing the Encyclopedia Britannica.

The 2005 "study" comparing Britannica and Wikipedia was not a rigorous peer-reviewed study, and they only looked at articles on relatively obscure science topics – a fact that no one seems to remember these days. The average Wikipedia vandal would not even know how to find an entry on a topic like the “kinetic isotope effect” or “Meliaceae” (two of the articles they looked at).

The assertion that Wikipedia is as reliable as Britannica is ludicrous. Granted, it's a lot bigger than Britannica, and has articles on breaking news stories, but as reliable? Of the English Wikipedia's nearly 5 million articles, at least 10% are on no Wikipedia editor's watchlist – a result of the continuous increase in the number of articles combined with the continuous decrease in the number of active editors – and those articles are sitting ducks for subtle vandalism.

Britannica may have had errors, but it did not contain false information inserted by anonymous people for fun or for financial gain; it contained no anonymous hatchet jobs written by people's rivals, and was not full of puff-pieces written by the biography subjects themselves.

Repeating this false "Wikipedia is as reliable as Britannica" meme only contributes to future cases like this one here, or this one.

+ - Guilt by Wikipedia: how lazy journalists made Joe Streater a basketball villain 2

Submitted by Andreas Kolbe
Andreas Kolbe (2591067) writes "For more than six years, Wikipedia named an innocent man as a key culprit in the 1978/79 Boston College point shaving scandal. The name Joe Streater was inserted into Wikipedia by an anonymous user in August 2008. The unsourced insertion was never challenged or deleted, and over time, Streater became widely associated with the scandal through newspaper and TV reports as well as countless blogs and fan sites, all of which directly or indirectly copied this spurious fact from Wikipedia. Yet research shows that Streater, whose present whereabouts are unknown, did not even play in the 1978/79 season. Before August 2008, his name was never mentioned in connection with the scandal. As journalists have less and less time for in-depth research, more and more of them seem to be relying on Wikipedia instead, and the online encyclopedia is increasingly becoming a vector for the spread of spurious information."

+ - What do your donations to keep Wikipedia "online and ad-free" really pay for?->

Submitted by Andreas Kolbe
Andreas Kolbe (2591067) writes "As the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) prepares for its main annual fundraiser, many Wikipedia readers are presented with a banner inviting them to donate an amount equivalent to the "price of buying a programmer a coffee". It's to keep Wikipedia "online and ad-free", the site says. However, this masks the fact that the WMF’s revenue, assets and expenses have risen by about 1,000% in recent years. While the WMF got by on annual donations totaling $5 million in 2007, it now wants over $50 million a year, despite reporting net assets of $45 million last summer and having taken another $50+ million in donations since then. Most of this money is not spent on keeping Wikipedia "online and ad-free", but on a ballooning bureaucracy that sees a select group of Wikipedians transitioning from unpaid volunteer to paid tech staff positions, creating a two-tier society and causing outgoing Executive Director Sue Gardner to raise concerns over the potential for "log-rolling and self-dealing" last year. Meanwhile, the WMF’s software engineering work has been judged inept by the unpaid volunteer community. The VisualEditor (VE), a WYSIWIG editor touted as "epically important" by Jimmy Wales, was so buggy and caused so many errors (such as inserting chess pawn characters in Wikipedia articles) that volunteer administrators rebelled, going over the Foundation's heads to disable VE as the new default editor. Last month's new Media Viewer feature was equally controversial. The WMF had to create a new access right, "Superprotect", to prevent angry volunteer administrators from disabling it, bringing community relations between the WMF and the volunteer community to a new low. An open letter protesting the WMF’s actions acquired an unprecedented number of signatures. Flow, a planned Facebook-style revamping of Wikipedia discussion pages that has been in development for some time, is already mired in controversy, with volunteers complaining that the WMF is turning a deaf ear to their concerns. Donors should be aware that most of their money is not used to keep Wikipedia online and ad-free. It's not used to improve Wikipedia’s reliability either. Instead, it funds the further aggressive expansion of an organization that's at loggerheads with its volunteer community and criticized for having a "miserable cost/benefit ratio"."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:How do they verify the gender? (Score 1) 579

by Andreas Kolbe (#47795577) Attached to: Why Women Have No Time For Wikipedia
That was part of Hill & Shaw's assertion (see endnote in the original article). I'm not sure I'm entirely convinced.

I guess this page wouldn't be complete without a reference to WP:Clubhouse? An Exploration of Wikipedia’s Gender Imbalance, a 2011 paper which contains a lot of interesting data related to all of this.

Comment: Re:TFA on WP-Critical Site Critical of WP? Do tell (Score 1) 579

by Andreas Kolbe (#47793743) Attached to: Why Women Have No Time For Wikipedia
Heh. The large gender imbalance has been reported by the Wikimedia Foundation for years. The survey-based estimates (sources are the UNU survey and a WMF survey) are not corrected in the footnote (which is about which statistics to use to estimate the percentage of mothers). The gender imbalance of Reddit is cited to Huffpost, it's 72% male (which is less male-dominated than Wikipedia), and the most extreme of all the major social media sites listed there. There are multiple citations for effect on content, including New York Times, Atlantic and a recent Guardian editorial. 1 in 50 relates to survey respondents, not contributors (which some have claimed may have a *slightly* higher proportion, based on sampling bias). For participation dropping after age 20 see UNU survey (linked). WMF efforts to address the gender gap are well publicised, Sue Gardner talked about it to the press until she was blue in the face. Women aged 18-34 in Facebook and Pinterest: sources linked. The surveys were commissioned by the Wikimedia Foundation itself, and comparison to social media is relevant in relation to the argument that women have no time to be online. Relevance of anonymity on women's participation per quoted text from Wiley Handbook. User interface impact is a hypothesis, based on recent discussions on Wikipedia's Gender Task Force page.

If your post is representative of Wikipedians' ability to read sources, Wikipedia is not destined for greatness.

Comment: Re:Gender imbalance is self selected (Score 1) 579

by Andreas Kolbe (#47790107) Attached to: Why Women Have No Time For Wikipedia
It's exactly the other way round, according to this Huffpost piece. There are 99 million more monthly female visitors to the various social media sites (included in the analysis were Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, Myspace, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr,, deviantART, Google+, Digg, Bebo, Reddit and many others). Even in gaming, the largest demographic are now adult women.

Comment: Re:It's the wiki software stupid (Score 1) 579

by Andreas Kolbe (#47789259) Attached to: Why Women Have No Time For Wikipedia
I do think paid crowdsourcing is the future. All the talk about "sharing" is hypocritical spin, given that Google and other scrapers are using Wikipedia content to make money from ads, while unpaid volunteers do all the work. See Wall Street's internet darlings require an endless supply of idiots – Sharing Economy? Mug Economy, more like.

In terms of social development, the internet currently compares to the darkest age of the industrial revolution. So, more power to you.

Comment: Re:why the focus on gender balance? (Score 1) 579

by Andreas Kolbe (#47789197) Attached to: Why Women Have No Time For Wikipedia
Many academics have said the same thing to me. No desire, and not enough time, to argue endlessly with nincompoops. There is currently an initiative underway, focused on medical articles, to get funding for experts to peer-review Wikipedia articles. Once an article is up to scratch, there would then be a permanent link to the peer-reviewed version displayed on the article page. This might be a more promising approach, and it could scale to other topic areas as well. Experts would (1) be paid, (2) have the guarantee that their work will have some permanence, (3) derive a degree of kudos from their having been appointed to do this work. Funding would, in this case, come from charities interested in making reliable medical info available online. Currently, for example, there is a Wikipedian-in-Residence at Cancer Research UK, who is working with CRUK experts on Wikipedia's articles on cancer. The position is funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Those who do not understand Unix are condemned to reinvent it, poorly. - Henry Spencer, University of Toronto Unix hack