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Comment: Re:Media Viewer (Score 1) 235

by Andreas Kolbe (#47732891) Attached to: Latest Wikipedia Uproar Over 'Superprotection'

What happened, was instead of the general use of talks to resolve the issue, wikipedia germany said "screw this, lets create a new page lock that only we can edit, not just admins".

Not quite. It was the Wikimedia Foundation that created and implemented Superprotect, to prevent changes from volunteers admins of the German-language Wikipedia.

Comment: Re:Too much good content is deleted at Wikipedia. (Score 1) 235

by Andreas Kolbe (#47730083) Attached to: Latest Wikipedia Uproar Over 'Superprotection'
It's partly the fault of people who shout from the rooftops that Wikipedia is as reliable as Britannica. Some even crow it's more accurate than Britannica. It simply isn't. Certainly the English Wikipedia isn't.

There is no way Britannica would have had the name of some Californian student as the founder of the Independent, or told a million readers for a year that the average winter temperature in Greenland and Antarctica is between –2 and +4 C ... or had a racist slur ("sand monkeys") as the purported name of an Arab football team.

Yes, errors have always existed. Britannica has errors. But Wikipedia has errors (and probably rather more of those than Britannica, given contributors' qualifications) AND hoaxes AND propaganda from fringe groups on top of that. Yet there are millions of people who buy the hype that it's as good as Britannica, a hype that is aided even by journalists of supposedly responsible newspapers.

Comment: Re:Media Viewer (Score 1) 235

by Andreas Kolbe (#47728225) Attached to: Latest Wikipedia Uproar Over 'Superprotection'
It is a tempest in a teapot in one way: but if you have about 90% of volunteer Wikipedia admins on a collision course with the Wikimedia Foundation, it's more than that, given how many people rely on Wikipedia to some extent. Wikipedia is a top-ten website. If administrators leave or go on strike, content curation will degrade even further.

Comment: Re:say it again (Score 1) 235

by Andreas Kolbe (#47728183) Attached to: Latest Wikipedia Uproar Over 'Superprotection'
Indeed. The one thing that Wikimedia needs is a competitor. The present de-facto monopoly is a very unhealthy situation, especially given that Google aims to rely more and more on Wikipedia and Wikidata, pulling some of that information onto their own pages (to populate the Knowledge Graph, the information panel in the top right of search results pages). Of course, by doing so, Google is also cannibalising Wikipedia to some extent, as anyone who just wants to check a birth year e.g. now doesn't have to go to Wikipedia at all. Google will already display that information, pulled out of Wikipedia, on the search results page. And of course, Google has ads ... much is always made of the fact that Wikipedia doesn't have ads, but in practice, you will see more and more re-users of Wikipedia making money from it. The Wikipedia licence has always allowed commercial re-use. The losers in this really are the volunteers: their work is used to line other people's pockets.

Perhaps there will be a move at some point towards crowdsourcing sites like which pay their contributors. Newslines is still in its infancy, and it's hard to tell to what extent it might take off, but interestingly, the site has no gender gap, and is not dominated by young white males: their two most prolific contributors to date are two black women. There is a large overlap between what they want to do, and what Wikipedia is doing, given that a lot of Wikipedia content these days is news-based.

Comment: Re:Too much good content is deleted at Wikipedia. (Score 3, Informative) 235

by Andreas Kolbe (#47728039) Attached to: Latest Wikipedia Uproar Over 'Superprotection'
For some real-world examples of made-up Wikipedia information entering other sources, sometimes to the major embarrassment of the people who reused it without checking, see two recent articles: How pranks, hoaxes and manipulation undermine the reliability of Wikipedia and I accidentally started a Wikipedia hoax. It happens quite a lot, at least in the English Wikipedia, that hoaxes stay around for years before they are discovered, by which time they have entered all sorts of other sources (remember the Bicholim conflict?). Even people who work for Wikipedia tell you not to trust it, but to check the underlying citations.

It would help if the English Wikipedia had edits by new and unregistered users looked at and approved by more experienced Wikipedians before showing them to the public (that's how it's done in the German and Polish Wikipedias for example), but the English Wikipedia community has steadfastly refused to introduce that system ("Pending Changes", also known as "Flagged Revisions") in all of its articles, saying it would be too much work and be a downer for new contributors who might have to wait a while before they see their changes go live.

For examples of Wikipedia being abused for personal vendettas against people, see Revenge, ego and the corruption of Wikipedia and The tale of Mr Hari and Dr Rose: A false and malicious identity is admitted. Anonymity encourages this sort of thing, of course. Again, Pending Changes would have helped a little ...

The Wikimedia Foundation has so far not really cared very much about content quality. They do not measure it, and don't know how to, by their own admission. Their metrics of success are the number of articles, the number of editors, the number of edits (more is better!), the number of page views (Alexa!), and how many millions in donations they take. Little if any of this money goes towards measuring and improving quality. Most of it is spent on their software engineering and product development department, which represents two-thirds of the 200 or so Wikimedia staff. They are approaching Wikipedia more like Facebook than an educational project. Quality assessment and real-time quality control, the job of sifting through all the millions of contributions, is left to all the volunteers, who are stretched ... and unlike the Wikimedia Foundation staff (many of whom are not really skilled professionals, but simply Wikipedians who have managed to join the gravy train), they are not getting paid. Short version: The Wikimedia Foundation now takes $50 million a year in donations (compared to just $2.5 million six or seven years ago), and they don't really know what to do with it. It's not making Wikipedia a more reliable reference source.

Comment: Re:bureaucracy in action (Score 1) 235

by Andreas Kolbe (#47725833) Attached to: Latest Wikipedia Uproar Over 'Superprotection'
The title of the petition is: Petitioning Lila Tretikov. Remove new "superprotect" status; and permit Wikipedia communities to enact (current) software decisions uninhibited.

Alternatively, people who have a Wikipedia or Wikimedia account can sign here on Meta. (Only sign in one of these places.)

Comment: WikiWand (Score 3, Interesting) 235

by Andreas Kolbe (#47725769) Attached to: Latest Wikipedia Uproar Over 'Superprotection'
What's become clear here (see also following section) is that the Wikimedia Foundation is afraid it will lose readers to sites like WikiWand that offer Wikipedia content as a pure consumable with a much more aesthetically pleasing interface. The moment Wikipedia page views go down, the Alexa rank will go down and donations will go down, as fewer people will see the fundraising banners. The problem is that the Foundation's own efforts to create a more pleasing interface have been unsuccessful; they have the money, but simply seem to lack the talent and experience. Partly they are also hampered by the underlying coding chaos of Wikipedia – underneath the Wikipedia text, there are thousands of ad-hoc templates created in a very inconsistent manner by volunteers over the years. This is the main reason the VisualEditor failed.

This story was also covered by The Register.

+ - The latest Wikipedia code-word for "dysfunction" is "Superprotection" 3

Submitted by metasonix
metasonix (650947) writes "As if the problems brought up during the recent 2014 Wikimania conference weren't enough, now Wikipedia is having an outright revolt by its editor and administrator community, especially on the German-language Wikipedia. A new Wikipediocracy blog post goes into some detail on the story. The WMF, currently awash in cash from its donors, keeps trying to force flawed new software systems onto the community, and they have repeatedly responded very negatively. This time, however, WMF Deputy Director Erik Moeller had the bright idea to create a new level of page protection to prevent the new software from being disabled. "Superprotection" has resulted in an outright revolt on German Wikipedia and subsequent coverage in the German press, plus demands that Moeller, one of Wikipedia's oldest insiders, be removed from his job. And one English Wikipedia insider started a petition demanding the removal of "superprotection"."

Comment: Re:Meanwhile the general public in London... (Score 1) 113

by Andreas Kolbe (#47656719) Attached to: Wikipedia Gets Critical Reception from UK Press at Wikimania 2014
I don't think Wikipedia can really be more reliable than the news sources it cites. In general, it is somewhat less reliable than its sources, as there can be intentional or unintentional deviations from what the cited sources said. But yes, Wikipedia can be more complete, and more up to date, than individual news articles. That's the added value that people go to Wikipedia for.

Comment: Re:quibble on usernames (Score 1) 113

by Andreas Kolbe (#47655719) Attached to: Wikipedia Gets Critical Reception from UK Press at Wikimania 2014
Well, yes, but it's no longer transparent. You know, if Coca Cola edits the Coca Cola article, isn't it better if people can see in the edit history which edits were made by Coca Cola, what they took out, added, reworded and so on? In practice, you can look at almost any Wikipedia article on a small or midsized company, and with a bit of detective work you can identify one or several accounts that have contributed prominently to that article and are quite clearly operated by principals or employees of that business. There are dozens of examples of that in this thread.

Comment: Re:Meanwhile the general public in London... (Score 1) 113

by Andreas Kolbe (#47655567) Attached to: Wikipedia Gets Critical Reception from UK Press at Wikimania 2014
The irony here of course is that Wikipedia's content (at least as long as it's not a hoax) is based on the selfsame news outlets that the public apparently trusts less than Wikipedia. It's a case where the copy is considered more reliable than the original!

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