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When I came to my senses, I left wikipedia, leaving behind my goodbye message, which has since been mirrored on Wikitruth and multiple blogs.
I stayed out for some time, and still haven't reclaimed my dormant account. I see as long as the same systemic abuses I complained about are there, it won't be a good encyclopedia.
But I'd like to open this up for a new crop of people to discuss, because it needs discussing. There are three main problems I see:
1) A culture of "admins are always right." In the old days, Jimbo Wales proclaimed that adminship was "no big deal" and admins were "just a user with a few extra buttons." Those days are long gone. Today, the group of 1000 or so admins is an incestuous and self-aggrandizing lot, and any criticism of administrator behavior that doesn't come from another administrator is met with cries of "omg a rouge admin lol" and bannings of the complaining user. I've seen users banned indefinitely based on nothing more than certain agenda guilds who have administrator members taking a dislike to them, or for trying to appeal a block placed on their account in bad faith by these same groups.
2) A culture where games are played, and where the focus is the game. Wikipedia's got a famous set of directives such as AGF (Assume Good Faith) and NPOV (Neutral Point of View), as well as RS (Reliable Sources). Unfortunately, instead of working as intended, these are used as bludgeons. A user who catches another user lying is not to report it, because reporting someone for lying is a violation of "Assume Good Faith." NPOV and RS are used as bludgeons by groups who have agendas to push, making damn sure that only their accepted sources — no matter how good the other side's are — are allowed, and twisting "NPOV" to mean "Our Point of View" by force of numbers.
Worse yet is the prohibition on "wikilawyering", which is inevitably used just to attack new users; if they bring up that an administrator or editor did something against the rules as posted, they'll be banned and harassed for "wikilawyering", even while other users slap "warnings" on their message pages telling them that they're in danger of... breaking the rules.
3) "Consensus" at the expense of accuracy. If one group with an agenda insists that something they don't like — even if it's 100% true — not be in the encyclopedia, it won't ever be in, no matter how valid the source can be provided for it, because including it is "against consensus." At its extremes, this has driven off many good contributors from the project, including research scientists and doctoral experts in their field.
Every day, this goes on. Wikipedia, once a noble goal of providing a free and accurate encyclopedia, has turned into a travesty where little admin-lords control articles along with their editor-group fiefdoms.
My question to the Slashdot readers is: Can it be fixed? Is it possible? Or is it inevitable that it will fall, maybe not today or tomorrow, but after more ongoing scandals and the revelations that it is not a "sum of human knowledge" as the clueless Jimbo Wales claims, but rather a compendium of biased and inaccurate fluff crafted by one too many people with an agenda to push?"
I'm a geeky scientist, but not a CS type at all. Over the years I have rolled my own CGI scripts in Perl, published analytical programs in R/S and other less savory interpreted languages, and lately built stand-alone programs using python/TkInter. More recently still, I have realized the need for much faster programs, and am leaning towards learning C or C++ (or possibly Fortran) to meet these needs.
Should I bypass C and opt for C++ or not? (does C++ make oop easier?)
Are there good books for these languages for folks with far more than a novice level of programming experience?
Are there resources specifically aimed at people in my position?
Are there specific pitfalls should I beware of?
I have a BS in Computer Info. Systems, A+ and Net+ certifications, and I usually vary my pricing for family, friends, and everyone else. Family I usually let get away with a dinner & movie or free will donation, which usually goes for about $40-100 depending on the job. Friends I usually go with $20-40/hr. min. 1hr or they cover the bill for a night at the bar, depending on the job. And everyone else I usually go with a $40-80/hr. min. 1hr, depending on the job.
Is what I'm doing similar to what other IT Pros do? How do other IT Pros determine how much to charge for the personal jobs that we all get asked to do?"
"This is a collaborative protection system against disposable email addressing (DEA). More explicitly, * Protects site owners' biggest assets; userbase and emails * Prevents userbase contamination by fake accounts * As critical as email validity check * Stops people registering your services with disposable email accounts like jetable.org, pookmail * Detects public accounts (spread from sites like bugmenot.com) and bans them * Working principle is similar to spam blacklists like spamhaus.org; power of masses * Totally free, your donations are welcome Technically speaking, this is a web service that provides you API to check email credibility against disposable hosts and fake accounts. We currently support only REST, XML-RPC protocols and PHP serialization but SOAP and JSON are on the way as well.