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Wikipedia Wars -- Lake Express Ferry 176

vhfer writes "Wikipedia Warfare has become the latest tool in the battle between rival lake transport systems. The Lake Express Ferry, which links Milwaukee and Michigan, bypasses Chicago traffic. The competing SS Badger runs from Manitowoc, an hour North of Milwaukee, to Ludington, Michigan. The article in the Milwaukee Journal details efforts by SS Badger supporters to highlight some of the delays and problems experienced by the Lake Express, in an apparent effort to divert some traffic to the Badger. Numerous edits to the article added links to news articles critical of the Lake Express, and some derided presidential candidate John Kerry's 2004 ride and the political value of it. The operators of the SS Badger deny responsibility for all the postings, and also say they aren't Internet savvy enough to alter a Wikipedia article."
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Wikipedia Wars -- Lake Express Ferry

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  • What a defense! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by crazyjeremy ( 857410 ) * on Monday August 28, 2006 @02:29PM (#15995336) Homepage Journal
    I find a good way to defend myself is to deny I have the ability to use a wiki.

    If these guys say they aren't intelligent enough to edit an entry in wikipedia, why should we trust them to run a ferry?
  • by From A Far Away Land ( 930780 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @02:32PM (#15995353) Homepage Journal
    As Slashdot readers we're aware that when people new to online communication find they can publish anything to the world, they can be like little kids in candy stores. With no parents for supervision, they'll pick a little of this and that, and when caught with a mouthfull by the store owner, will mumble a denial.

    Wikipedia gives that kind of power to people unexperienced with digital media attention, and depending on the personality, they may be naive, or malicious.
  • Re:What a defense! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 28, 2006 @02:33PM (#15995361)
    You confuse "intelligent" with "computer savvy."

    A ferry operator has a different skillset than you. They might not even be interested in learning how to use Wikipedia.
  • by webword ( 82711 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @02:38PM (#15995404) Homepage
    I like Jason Scott's rant about Wikipedia over at ASCII []. It is related to this next Wikipedia War in the following way:

    "It's that there's a small set of content generators, a massive amount of wonks and twiddlers, and then a heaping amount of procedural whackjobs. And the mass of twiddlers and procedural whackjobs means that the content generators stop being so and have to become content defenders. Woe be that your take on things is off from the majority."

    A related issue is that with some topics, you will *always* have debates. Certain wiki topics will always cause people to be at "war" with each other. I doubt this will kill off wiki technology, but eventually there probably will be some social conventions to handle disputes. Or, perhaps a more rigid technology will take the place of wikis. Who knows.

    Sorry to ramble. My point is just that we need to be careful that we don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. In plain language, a wiki war doesn't mean that wikis are bad.

  • Re:Gah! Link! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by webword ( 82711 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @02:44PM (#15995451) Homepage
    You make it sound like Slashdot is a person. ;-)

    Remember, people submit news to Slashdot. So, blame the submitter: vhfer

    Then again, I suppose you could blame CmdrTaco for not making the update.
  • Re:What a defense! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 28, 2006 @02:46PM (#15995471)
    the same reason we assume you know how to edit a wiki

    you've gone through the process to learn how

    These guys have learned how to drive a ferry, and if the article summary (including their defense) holds true, they are better at it than their counterparts. You have learned how to edit a wiki, and therefore we trust you with wikipedia.

    Notice, their defense was "we don't (currently) know how to edit a wiki" did not say "we won't ever be able to figure out how to edit a wiki"
  • Re:What a defense! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by parliboy ( 233658 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {yobilrap}> on Monday August 28, 2006 @02:47PM (#15995475) Homepage
    Can you run a ferry? If not, should I trust you to run a computer?
  • Re:What a defense! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by superstick58 ( 809423 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @02:47PM (#15995476)
    I guess we can trust them to run a ferry in the same way that you can trust me to accurately post to a slashdot article yet I have no clue on how to operate a high speed ferry that runs across lake michigan.
  • Re:What a defense! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @02:53PM (#15995524) Homepage
    vIf these guys say they aren't intelligent enough to edit an entry in wikipedia, why should we trust them to run a ferry?

    For the same reason I trust welders, plumbers, electricians and the like to do their job and not necessarily expect them to either know what wiki is, or know how to edit an entry on it.

    We simply don't need everyone in the world to be able to do tech things. They could be exceedingly good at what they do. Not knowing how to edit on wiki is not a mark of intelligence, it's a mark of how much you understand web technologies.

    Despite it's popularity, the web is not the be all and end all of how the world works.

  • Re:What a defense! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by qortra ( 591818 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @02:55PM (#15995545)
    They might not even be interested in learning how to use Wikipedia.

    I'd bet they are now.

    Moreover, the whole point of Wikipedia was to be accessible to a variety of different kinds of people in order to encourage people with various skillsets to contribute. Clearly [], some people that know how to use wikipedia know a great deal about ferries.

    Consider that computers these days are becoming all purpose tools. While many slashdot visitors are not exactly savvy in the culinary arts, I would guess that most of us can use a fork pretty well. That is because the fork has become a tool that is useful to the general population. Wikipedia is such a tool (though far less ubiquitous, and somewhat less useful).

    I realize that these ferry operators are not the right generation for such a skill and they ought to be given a significant amount of latitude for such a limitation; however, let's just say that if, in 25 years, a 50 year old ferry operator gave the same excuse, I would be a little concerned.
  • +1 funny... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lpangelrob ( 714473 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @03:39PM (#15995784)

    Ha. Didn't think this would make it to Slashdot. (I didn't participate in the Lake Express wars, but I did recreate the entire S.S. Badger [] page because it was created, and persisted, as a copy-and-paste of the History section of their website []. I did notice strange things happening in Lake Express at the time, though...)

    A more difficult issue in Wikipedia is figuring out how many copyright violations are in the encyclopedia. I don't see how it's feasible for every copyright holder to keep tabs of their Wikipedia article(s); that's not very fair to the copyright holder. More distressing, it seems that the art of proper summarization and citation has been lost from the general community in our generation (aged early 30s and younger) for some time.

    With regional, nontechnical and just plain unpopular topics like this, if I (as an editor) don't fix it when I see it, the odds are pretty good no one will fix it. Not to mention I may be introducing some unwanted, commentary-style bias that I'm unaware of. But it always goes back to "unpopular"... unless you have a strong contingent of editors on a particular topic, whether numbering 3 or 30, lightly-traveled topics are just not going to be as good as they could be.

    Regarding having opinions on an encyclopedia... it would be a better place if people just learned how and where to pick their battles. My answer to this [] is "I really don't give a damn, just pick something; it's not that important!"

  • by Temujin_12 ( 832986 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @03:44PM (#15995814)
    This highlights a more fundamental problem than the fact that Wikipedia is vulnerable to edit wars, and that is people's/company's/political party's disregard for truth. I have a good friend who was part of a recent high-profile gubernatorial race. I was surprised to hear from him that they had to constantly guard the wikipedia page about their candidate as it would constantly be vandalized. Is it just me, or do you also get a kind-of "sick" feeling when you hear about these kind of things? This is especially true when you take a step back and think about what the potential Wikipedia (and other sites like it) holds for improving the lives of people all over the world. When you look at it from this perspective, well written, unbiased articles, in my opinion, hold a certain level of sacredness. And when you see it being defiled you can't help but to feel disgust.

    Now, I know, this example is "small peanuts" in the grand scheme of things. However, it just makes me sick when I see this kind of intentionally malicious behavior focused on something with a primary goal to improve the lives of all.
  • Re:What a defense! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by crozell ( 872334 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @04:06PM (#15995956)
    Once someone knows how to browse the internet, anyone with any amount of intelligence can figure out how to edit a wiki.

    Wow...simply not true. I know it might surprise the demographic who reads slashdot, but there are still lots of people out there who are very uncomfortable with using computers to do anything. They aren't stupid - they probably have many skills that us computer-literate folk would have a very hard time acquiring. But, they may just barely understand the concept using a computer to browse the web withoug feeling like they can figure out how to edit a webpage. The internet (and most things technology) are viewed as a giant mystery to some people - they are happy to use it, but the thought of being able to edit or contribute is just foreign.

    Lastly, anyone who uses their own ignorance as an argument is someone to be avoided.

    I agree with your point that anyone could find someone to help edit a page if they didn't want to do it themselves. But, I find it ironic that so many people here were venomous toward the RIAA for going after grandmothers who "obviously" didn't know enough to download music, but are happy to vilify the people playing the "ignorant" card when the issue at hand doesn't isn't something slashdot can rally behind.

  • Re:What a defense! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @04:32PM (#15996112) Homepage
    Once someone knows how to browse the internet, anyone with any amount of intelligence can figure out how to edit a wiki.

    Mostly true, but, as I said, what is to say that any of the ferry operators can do more than the most basic of web surfing if at all? What is to say that even if they know about wikipedia? Like I said, a lot of smart people simply do NOT use 'teh internets', nor do they care to. Doesn't make them dumb, it makes them either uninterested, or uninformed, or simply unaware. They may be excellent business people, ferry operators, or whatever. There simply may be no knowledge on their behalf about this wiki-thingy, or what an edit war is for that matter.

    So not only does this person lack any computer skills, they lack communication skills or any problem solving skills.

    Wow. What an arrogant position -- since any monkey can use the web, any and all monkeys should have figured out all of the corners of the internet, those that haven't are somehow lacking in some skills. Not having the requisite skills/interest in knowing wiki exists does not in any way cause one to infer lack of communications skills. It's simply an untrue position, and a bad leap in logic. They may, for example, have enough communications skills not to assume that everyone knows what they do, and that anyone who doesn't must be a big doody head. I mean, really, cue the neener neener's.

    Lastly, anyone who uses their own ignorance as an argument is someone to be avoided.

    Well, they basically said they weren't web-savvy enough to have gotten into an edit war on Wikipedia, and that they had no knowledge that such an edit war existed.

    If someone in another city gets into an argument with someone I don't know about an issue which somehow relates to me (my website, my employer, my bad taste in clothes ;-) am I somehow expected to a) know it happened, b) be accountable/blameable for the fact that it happened, and c) be able to mediate it? I would sure as hell hope not.

    Ignorance of the law may be no defence. Ignorance of something which you've never heard of is a perfectly normal state of existence. They're not saying "why, we're just so stupid there is no way we could have done that" ... they're saying "I have no idea what you're talking about, so why are you blaming me for having done it?".

    I simply fail to understand the default position ere on Slashdot that anyone who may not know all of the details about our little minor corner of the world is somehow an friggin' idiot.

  • by minuszero ( 922125 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @10:32PM (#15997671)
    of course you can have error bounds greater than the measurement itself. Means you have a really unreliable measurement, but still...

    poor example, but
    think about measuring 0.3mm with only a standard ruler, accurate to the mm.
    i can say it's about 0.3mm, but measuring it with only my ruler, i could probably say it was ±0.50mm, truthfully.
    that gives me 0.3mm ±167% (0.5/0.3 *100 - it's probably how they do it with their numbers)...

    hope that makes sense? :)

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton