Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:I assume the Wikimedia developers... (Score 1) 94

>But you missed out the third and worst of the options: editorial decisions which pander to the advertisers.

As a publisher who has run successful advertising sales teams in print and online you simply create policies that say the reader experience is primary and that any attempt by advertisers to influence editorial will be blocked. Readers can tell very quickly if editorial is influenced by advertisers and most publishers don't like to be pushed around. If advertisers really want unrestricted editorial presence they can buy an advertorial.

Comment: Re:I assume the Wikimedia developers... (Score 1) 94

Thousands of newspapers, magazine and websites deal with these issues every day without having to run porn or low quality ads. I don't see any complaints that it causes those publications self censorship. I suspect most of Wikipedia's worry about ads is driven by a fear that ads will try to counter bias in articles.

Comment: Re:I assume the Wikimedia developers... (Score 1) 94

Well I wrote it, and the self-censorship point is nonsense. There are lots of effective strategies that advertising-based media have used for many years to avoid self-censorship. To think that the situation is unmanageable is just incredibly naive. Such policies include accepting any kind of advertiser irrespective of their views (and let the reader decide the veracity of ads) or only accepting certain advertisers on certain pages, for example, no oil companies on global warming pages (although this type of policy actually a kind of censorship). The effect of any advertiser exerting undue influence is minimized by having many advertisers.

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

The wiki gives power to some users who are vocal about having that power removed. Unfortunately, those who are used to the "the wiki way" can see few other ways to organize content. To them, everything must be done on a wiki, whether that is the most appropriate tool or not. Flow is yet another example of choosing the wiki's flexibility over solutions that could easily be more practical. This inflexibility is also true for many of the non-encyclopedic pages of Wikipedia, such as news and biography pages where different editorial workflows and presentation will give better results. If you are interested I wrote a blog post about the many problems that are specifically caused by the wiki software.

Comment: Bias is a feature not a bug (Score 1) 5

by sparkydevil (#48674175) Attached to: Is Wikipedia biased for Israel and against Palestinians?

This issue highlights a structural flaw in Wikipedia's software, where the "encyclopedia" is being used for a purpose it was not designed for: Wikipedia is not a newspaper. These articles about dead children are news archives and not encyclopedic. An encyclopedia by definition requires fact checking. News archives do not require checking (or at the least the checking can be done external to the archive).

+ - 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"."

+ - Stop Giving Wikipedia Money

Submitted by sparkydevil
sparkydevil (261897) writes "This year Wikipedia's fundraising banner covers half of the screen. But, with $50 million in the bank, and most of last years $50 million raised going to a programming team instead of going to content creators, does the online encyclopedia really need your cash?"

Comment: Re:I don't get it (Score 1) 167

by sparkydevil (#48519123) Attached to: Is a "Wikipedia For News" Feasible?

I am the founder of Newslines. We are the closest thing to a Wikipedia for news, although we are really a mix of daily news, Wikipedia and YouTube. Our writers create news-based timelines on any person, product or news event.

There are many problems with the way Wikipedia deals with news (see my article Wikipedia's 13 Deadly Sins. On the reader side, news pages are text-based, very unstructured, and don't have embedded videos and cannot be sorted or filtered. On the writers' side there are many problems with the 10-year-old wiki software that create unnecessary conflict and trouble for anyone trying to add data. By using a simpler approval process we have very few edit wars, happier writers, and a better reader experience. Also, our model makes it much more difficult for groups of readers to push their point of view.

Since we launched in May, our writers have added over 25,000 news events, on thousands of topics. Unlike other work-for-free-while-we-make-billions sites, we paid our writers $1 per post for those posts. In the next few weeks we are moving to a revenue share, where writers and editors can get paid for their efforts. Some of our writers have already made thousands of dollars and we hope they will make much more with the new system.

Some examples: Google Glass, Ben Affleck, Michael Brown, Paul Graham

Comment: Re:notthebest (Score 1) 5

by sparkydevil (#48390427) Attached to: Wikipedia's 13 Deadly Sins

Sorry I've meant table of contents. On your site, I can't get a simple list of the new's items headlines.

That feature is on the list. Should be ready in a few weeks.

Yet on your google glass page you include a commercial and don't even try to declare it as this.

It's a news item, but I can understand the confusion. It's similar to adding an ad for a new MacBook release on the apple page. It's news and an ad.

Thanks for your comments. Definitely a few things to think about.

Comment: Re:notthebest (Score 1) 5

by sparkydevil (#48389269) Attached to: Wikipedia's 13 Deadly Sins

Maybe you are right that the web is not the place for illiterates, but I know from my kids who primarily use tablets and mobile they are not interested in textual media. They are the web users of the future. As I say in the article, why try and read 3000 words about Taylor Swift when watching a few videos will give you far more information?

"sin" 4 is tackled by wikidata, but unfortunately they are still in a very early phase.

I wonder what the incentive is for writers to do this work. I can understand people writing a page to get some glory, but there's not much glory in adding tabular data.

Content is created through controversies. First you say that in wikipedia there are so many conflicts, and then you say that Wikipedia is like a socialist dictature.

I said it has all the inefficiencies of socialist structures, resulting in a low-quality product. That you can download Wikipedia to your HDD is not the measure of a project's advancement. Also, it doesn't matter if the information is "free" if it is inferior. Most media in the word is actually for-profit.

You don't even make an index [], and separate your content into "pages". wasn't paper the thing you regarded as "outdated"?

I don't know what you mean about an index. You can see our popular pages on our front page, and search for anyone else using the search bar. By adhering slavishly to a book-like metaphor, the information on Wikipedia articles is overly textual, and cannot be sorted or filtered. The user has no control over the page. The point is that the web gives us many more ways to display data that thinking about it as though it were a book.

And fanpages are already tackled by wikia. You are more a competitor for those, not for wikipedia.

Newslines is not like Wikia at all. We crowdsource news timelines on people, products and news events. Some examples: Amber Vinson (Ebola Victim), Google Glass, Virgin Galactic. None of these can be considered fanpages.

By giving editors money for writing content, you create a system in which lots of people write tons of bullshit, and your page gets more and more meaningless content that can never be updated.

Every post on our site goes through an approval process, so vandalism and other content issues are far less than those on Wikipedia. We also building systems to pay people to maintain the site, unlike Wikipedia pages, which after and initial burst of activity are left to wilt [insert thousands of examples here].

+ - Wikipedia's 13 Deadly Sins-> 5

Submitted by sparkydevil
sparkydevil (261897) writes "Almost all Wikipedia criticism comes is about the vandalism, hoaxes and scandals. There's very little about how the software model creates the many problems on the site. As an ex-Wikipedia editor and founder of a crowdfunding startup I examine Wikipedia's problems and trace them back to the core Wiki software."
Link to Original Source

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

by sparkydevil (#47787837) Attached to: Why Women Have No Time For Wikipedia

But for Wikipedia to actually become a platform fully embraced by women, it would have to change its culture in fundamental ways, reducing its emphasis on anonymity and providing more opportunities for meaningful companionship and satisfying social relationships between its contributors. Failing that, women will simply continue to vote with their feet, and find their enjoyment and altruistic fulfilment elsewhere.

Most of the reasons for the lack of female participation in Wikipedia, including those above, are false. On Newslines, my crowdsourced content site that aims to replace Wikipedia's biographies and news-based events, 80% of our contributors are women and minorities. See our leaderboard

Wikipedia can never work for minorities and women because its software and policies are specifically designed to exclude them. The reason we get more women posting is because Newslines is created specifically to allow users to add content without the conflicts that are inherent in a wiki-based system. Wikis are built through conflict. Wikipedia's conflict-driven software and policies attract ego-driven white males eager to gain power through the display of their knowledge. The intensity of this conflict excludes other groups.

I go further into this in this post, but the gist of it is that 1) we pay our writers to contribute 2) we have system that allows people to add information with no conflict -- so far over 11,000 posts with no trouble 3) posts are assessed on the quality of the post, not on who made them -- no conflicts of interest or harassment possible 4) and we don't allow editors ownership of the page -- denying powerful groups the ability to censor people and text.

The real crime though, is to blame the people who are excluded for the failings of the system. How many times do we have to hear -- by the people who created the system that excludes them -- that women and minorities are not interested, they don't have enough time, they don't know enough, they can't use the interface, they prefer fluffy stuff, and that they are are lazy? It's time to move past these old arguments and see Wikipedia's dysfunction for what it is - a software, policy and leadership failure.

"All my life I wanted to be someone; I guess I should have been more specific." -- Jane Wagner