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Comment Re:Competition (Score 1) 125

Isn't that just a bit of regurgitated propaganda, assuming facts not in evidence (i.e. that liberal arts majors, dogs and Republicans would follow the rules)?

Here is what happens in real life:

manipulation in the service of commercial agendas,


malice, and


along with "skewed information, unattributed material, and potential copyright violations".

Wikipedia throws such people out today, and they're back tomorrow, with a new pseudonymous sockpuppet account.

Wikipedia lists over 70,000 blocked sockpuppeteers, and that list does not include some of the most serious cases, where individuals have used literally hundreds of sockpuppet accounts. (For reference, the English Wikipedia has around 3,000 steady contributors making at least three or four content edits a day.)

Comment Re:Competition (Score 1) 125

Wikipedia sure needs a competitor, though to me this isn't a good reason. It's simply because monopolies in information transmission are a bad thing, and because Wikipedia is wide open to anonymous manipulation. For all its talk about transparency, Wikipedia is the first encyclopedia where you are not told (and are not supposed to ask or find out) who's written the thing. There are often good reasons for this (some of the harassment editors experience is vile – rape threats, death threats), but the one thing it is not is "transparent".

Comment Re:Wikipedia will delete the info as "not notable" (Score 1) 125

That comparison to housing associations strikes a chord ... :)) It's one of the main attractions of Wikipedia: you get to define what X is FOR THE ENTIRE INTERNET. It's a particular type of personality that jumps at that chance (even though it often turns out to be a greasy pole).

Comment Re:I run The Wikipedia Library Program: This is wh (Score 4, Interesting) 125

Well, current partners of the Wikipedia Library project include Adam Matthew, BMJ, British Newspaper Archive, Cochrane, Credo, De Gruyter, DynaMed, Elsevier ScienceDirect, FindMyPast, HighBeam, HeinOnline, JSTOR, Keesings, Loeb, MIT Press Journals,, OCLC, Oxford, Past Masters, Pelican Books, Public Catalogue Foundation, Project MUSE, RIPM, Royal Society, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Royal Society of Chemistry, Sage Stats, ScotlandsPeople, Questia and Women Writers Online.

That's a lot of VP positions to fill ... ;) The fact is this came about quite differently. Volunteers had for years complained about lack of access to JSTOR et al.; Jake did something to remedy that. And he started out doing it as a volunteer himself. Credo, HighBeam and JSTOR were first; Elsevier came aboard later, as one of many. This was in no way Elsevier's initiative.

Comment Re:Wikipedia is an encyclopedia project ... (Score 1) 125

Elsevier is just one of many publishers involved here, along with JSTOR, Cochrane, BMJ, Oxford University Press, etc. Have you ever tried to write a Wikipedia article without access to the best sources? Would you like to rely on such an article? Or more to the point, would you want to be treated in a hospital whose doctors made a point of not reading any research published in non-OA journals, and who read no books they had to paid for?

Comment WikiGate? (Score 5, Informative) 125

Calling this issue "WikiGate" reflects a rather single-minded focus.

A few days ago, we learned that there was an extortion ring operating in Wikipedia – see or and many others.

A few months ago, we learned that a hoax article had survived for ten years on Wikipedia, and that its content had come to be cited in numerous places, among many other hoaxes: see also

A few weeks prior to that, we learned that an administrator had managed to manipulate Wikipedia's articles on a bogus Indian business school over a period of years, with an Indian journalist estimating that Wikipedia had messed up thousands of students' lives by lending its brand's supposed credibility to the school's misleading propaganda: and

Each of those would have deserved the title WikiGate more than this non-issue, which if anything actually helps improve Wikipedia's reliability.

Comment Wikipedia is an encyclopedia project ... (Score 3, Interesting) 125

Wikipedia has many, many problems, but this is not one of them. An encyclopedia project has to reflect the current state of knowledge, regardless of where it's published. You can't just leave out all the bits that aren't Open Access.

Submission + - A tale of greed, influence peddling, and blood-stained money 1

metasonix writes: It may sound overdramatic, but it also describes this new Wikipediocracy post about Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, and his little-noticed and very deep ties to former UK prime minister Tony Blair. And their common ties to repressive regimes in central Asia and the Middle East, to conflict-of-interest Wikipedia editing, and to money — large sums of it. Wales even married Blair's former diarist and PR person, almost as if he were "using" her to assure his connections to powerful people in the UK. All of this is well-documented but almost never publicly discussed. No one can ever call Wales a "great philanthropist" again without some laughter from the cheap seats.

Submission + - How Dinosaurs Shrank and Became Birds (

An anonymous reader writes: Discoveries have shown that bird-specific features like feathers began to emerge long before the evolution of birds, indicating that birds simply adapted a number of pre-existing features to a new use. And recent research suggests that a few simple changes — among them the adoption of a more babylike skull shape into adulthood — likely played essential roles in the final push to bird-hood. Not only are birds much smaller than their dinosaur ancestors, they closely resemble dinosaur embryos. Adaptations such as these may have paved the way for modern birds’ distinguishing features, namely their ability to fly and their remarkably agile beaks. The work demonstrates how huge evolutionary changes can result from a series of small evolutionary steps.

Submission + - The Sexists at the Top of Wikipedia

Andreas Kolbe writes: Many reasons have been put forward for Wikipedia's Gender Gap. This analysis says that co-founder Jimmy Wales and ex-Wikimedia Foundation head, Sue Gardner, are to blame for Wikipedia's poor software design, which has allowed the earliest group of users (men) to hold and maintain power, resulting in only 10% participation by women.

Submission + - The prominent journalist who "can't have" a Wikipedia biography

An anonymous reader writes: This week, the Wikipediocracy blog has run a strange item that no one has ever discussed before, so far as I can tell: that fact that tech journalist Cyrus Farivar ran a small hoax article on Wikipedia, plus edited his own biography, way back in 2005. In what appears to be an act of revenge, and directly contravening Jimmy Wales's own stated preferences, Wikipedia insiders fought to delete Farivar's biography and keep it deleted. I would have to agree that Farivar is clearly notable enough to have a bio, hoax or no hoax; is Wikipedia's administrative class really this petty? (This goes with a previous blog post about a world-famous "babe model" who is also "not permitted" to have a profile on Wikipedia.)

Comment Re:It's the citing of hoaxes that's a bigger conce (Score 1) 186

Well said. Here is another example of Wikipedia re-writing history with the new, Wikipedia-based version, being regurgitated by Associated Press, among many others. Never mind that an innocent basketball player was defamed.

The Bhutanese Passport hoaxer, by the way, also worked on other "projects" that promptly infected Google's "Knowledge Vault", like all these Wikipedia hoaxes do.

Some of these hoaxes have entered academic literature. In such cases, Wikipedia actually destroys knowledge.

Comment Re:Wikipedia has exactly one problem... (Score 3, Interesting) 186

Wikipedians do seem to operate on the assumption that existing content, even if completely made up, is somehow superior to any recent change, as though content gained legitimate merit and factuality simply by being in Wikipedia. There was a concrete example of this in the edit history of the Thoreau case mentioned in the Washington Post article. The hoaxer had made up a reference to make their nonsense stick. When the hoaxer later himself tried to delete the hoax again, another Wikipedian REVERTED them, saying, "Rv; the information is referenced; if you say it's wrong, prove it." Just because the content had been on Wikipedia for a few months, it was assumed it must be correct. Discussed in more detail here.

The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.