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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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  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @02:32PM (#15995352) Homepage Journal
    ...without a link to the Lamest Edit Wars in Wikipedia [wikipedia.org].
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Monday August 28, 2006 @02:34PM (#15995372) Homepage Journal

    Ah! The memories. When I was but a tad my dad would take the family in the stationwagon from Midland to Minneapolis, via Ludington to Manitowoc (famous now for aluminium cookware) on the C & O ferries. The SS Badger [wikipedia.org] may hark from those days, it looks like it does. Back then there was a lot of traffic across the lake from Wisconsin, where automobile furniture (seats) and body parts were transported to Detroit with the assistance of several of these large boats which could hold several rail cars in their holds. They'd also take on automobiles and passengers for a nominal fee. They ran like clockwork, regardless of the weather and crossings in poor considtions could be the kind you spent clutching a paper bucket. I found chewing gum helped.

    Nice to see they still run them. If the weather's fair I would consider a drive to Ludington (or Manitowoc) just for the ride. Ludington's a nice place to visit and camp.

  • by GundamFan ( 848341 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @02:36PM (#15995388)
    This points out the biggest problem with Wikipedia, people are selfish. When questions of NPOV come up the disscusion offten becomes not what the NPOV is but who's oppinion will be included in the article and accepted as truth.

    There is a Penny-Arcade comic that sums wikipedia up nicely I can't (due to a proxy) look it up right now...

    Disclaimer: I am a huge Wikipedia fan... but I only "trust" non political geek culture (Comics, video games) to be relitivly accurate.
  • by ZachPruckowski ( 918562 ) <zachary.pruckowski@gmail.com> on Monday August 28, 2006 @02:38PM (#15995403)
    Wikipedia works rather well at the core. Articles about science topics, or most history topics are OK. There are issues with current event topics, but there are plenty of editors working on those. the real problem that no one mentions with Wikipedia is on the fringes. there are 1.3 or so Million english articles. Some of them are poorly translated paragraphs from other languages. Some of them are straight lifts from a Press Release, and some of them are pretty incomplete. This is one such case. While editors can work on NPOV more directly with articles like George W. Bush or Jesus, there are only a handful of editors working on the fringes. I was hitting up the random pages button, and a few days ago, I stumbled across the "Miss Bikini of the Universe" page (no jokes, please). It consists of a few poorly translated paragraphs, a picture that's three years out of date (but attractive nonetheless), and a notice that Ukraine's candidate won the most recent one (which apparently was over the weekend in China somewhere), but no mention of the winner's name, DoB, etc. Now, I tried to do some cleanup - verb tenses, complete sentences, etc., but the page needs an awful lot of work, and frankly, I'm busy, and the orginal writer looks like he ran a few news articles through Babelfish.
  • by mcguyver ( 589810 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @03:12PM (#15995638) Homepage
    Lake Express was definitely a victim of abuse by SS Badger. Pretty funny comments!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lake_Exp ress&diff=72406828&oldid=72405352 [wikipedia.org]
    The ferry's operational season has been a bit of an embarrasement for the owner's of the company. When first launched the company announced that the ferry would operate each season until December 31. Because of lack of fall ridership and many press reports of sea sickness earlier in the year, the ferry's operations were ended in October during the first year (2004). In 2005 the company announced they had a plan to make it to the end of the year through better promotion. In 2005 the company was again forced to end their season early as the ship did not seem well equipt to make it in the Gales of November.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lake_Exp ress&diff=68850407&oldid=61693002 [wikipedia.org]
    http://www.milwaukee-muskegon.com/ [milwaukee-muskegon.com] Site comparing Lake Express and other Lake Michigan Car Ferries

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lake_Exp ress&diff=72436565&oldid=72428201 [wikipedia.org]
    not to mention that it crashed into the pier at muskegon without passengers aboard in 2005 april

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Lake_Exp ress&diff=72437357&oldid=72436565 [wikipedia.org]
    In August 2006 several trips were cancelled because of waves and mechanical problems. The vessel was only running on three of its four engines and halted all trips for passenger comfort due to wave conditions. All ferry service was halted to fix mechanical issues on August 15 through August 18.
  • by crozell ( 872334 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @03:17PM (#15995667)
    Yup...the Badger was one of the C&O ferries, built in the early 1950's. When C&O finally sold off the ferries another company (MWT I think) ran them primarily as freight ships for a while before they finally had to shut them down. It just wasn't profitable after it became so easy to get rail traffic through Chicago and when maintenance costs for the ferries increased with their age. The boats sat idle for a while before a businessman invested a bunch of money to refurbish one ship (the Badger) as primarily a passenger ship in the early 1990's. It is still a coal-fired steam ship (reciprocating, not turbines)....really interesting both historically and mechanically. I know TFA was about the wikipedia war, but the underlying political debate that started the ill-will between these companies is also really interesting and doesn't get mentioned much in the linked articles or the wikipedia entries.
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @03:34PM (#15995757) Homepage Journal
    What? Nobody (at least, nobody above +2) has posted a link to WikiTruth [wikitruth.info]? Well, let me do so then.
  • by crozell ( 872334 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @03:46PM (#15995832)
    I mentioned this in another post, but there's a lot more to the story than what is reflected in TFA or wikipedia. Customers that just want to get from point A to point B (without driving) will generally want to get there as fast as possible unless the transportation is part of the reason to take the trip. That obviously makes the Lake Express ferry appealing to a fair number of people, and it is likely that some people that would have taken the Badger otherwise will now opt for the Lake Express ferry.

    Normally this would just be a free market issue - let the company with the best service at the lowest price win out. The ill-will comes in because the Lake Express ferry received a very controversial federally subsidized loan to start their business (minimizing the financial risk taken by the individuals starting the company). Much of the community around the Badger felt like this was unfair because it amounted to the federal government subsidizing one company to compete against another. Much of the community around the Lake express ferry thought that the Badger people were just whining, or didn't care how it happened as long as their community saw the economic gain of the new ferry.

    I forget some of the details now, but IIRC it appeared especially controversial because this was an unusual application of this particular maritime subsidy program and the congressional representative heading the relevant committee happens to have the ship builder in their district that built the Lake Express ferry. So, to some people it looked like thinly-veiled quid pro quo.

    Not trying to argue a point here....just want people to know that (though the wikipedia war is childish), there is a lot more to the story than what's in the linked articles.

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

    by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs.ajs@com> on Monday August 28, 2006 @03:47PM (#15995840) Homepage Journal
    True? Not exactly. Trust is too strong a term to use.

    We welcome you to make changes to Wikipedia, just like the rest of the world. We do this in order to gain access to knowledge that no one body of editors has ever had, and to document the breadth of human experience.

    Does this mean that we trust that what you type is either true or encyclopedic? No, we do not, but that trust can be built up or destroyed over time, and is a rather self-regulating process ("self" regulating in the sense that some fraction of contributors feel more comfortable contributing their time to police such problems).
  • by jeffc128ca ( 449295 ) on Monday August 28, 2006 @04:21PM (#15996045)
    I always knew this would happen to Wikipedia. As an all seeing all gathering reference for information it's just not going to work with the public's ability to edit articles. The chief admins will have to keep locking down articles until there are no "unlocked" articles left.

    The public Wikipedia assumes that the majority know what the truth is and will correct articles to ensure that's the case. That's a bad assumption. The majority of people don't collectively know the truth. Facts don't change just because a vote decided otherwise.

    That is not to say wiki is completely bad. The system used on Wikipedia works well for groups that need documentation provided by several knowledge experts. I have found getting the people who know who a paticular system works together to create documentation is brutal using traditional methods. How great would it be to have a wiki at work that contains technical and user information on systems that people work on every day. Most work places have lousy documentation for there systems and work processes. God knows I have worked at several. The wiki structure would make life a lot easier in these cases. There is far less incentive to manipulate that info for fraudulent purposes.

    It's as plain as day that Wikipedia can not work in the long run as the end all be all of all knowledge known to man. There are too many people with agendas who will change articles constantly. For the broad general use, use it as a starting point in any research your doing but don't consider it "the truth".

  • by mattr ( 78516 ) <.mattr. .at. .telebody.com.> on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @12:57AM (#15998109) Homepage Journal
    Surfed through the edit wars pages and that was interesting though I didn't find the one on chips. It seems that a wiki is by design vulnerable to 1) edit wars and 2) wasting of critical resources, namely the time of authors and administrators, and the perceived reliability of the wiki, by such wars.

    Being a wiki admin I suppose means you are asking for it and shouldn't be surprised at having to arbitrate such battles, but unless the number of admins increases at the same rate as the wiki's articles and readers this is a losing battle. It seems that many of these may be resolved by choosing least common denominator, ignoring the battle and maybe relying on the wiki's search engine a bit more to show related articles.

    How about creating a forking wiki? I am not aware such a thing exists yet. Based on the recognition that unlike a static encyclopedia with a static board of editors and publication date, the wikipedia and other wikis are organic entities and involve people with divergent and yet possibly valid opinions. For example see the wars on UK/US terms, historical interpretation (not revisionism), etc. While the U.S. Wikipedia seems quite cool-headed I don't think that is guaranteed for other languages either.

    So a forking wikipedia would allow each main article to have links to different versions if there is more than one valid one, basically allowing readers to see both sides of the topic. It would be up to an admin to decide on whether a view is valid enough, since it seems that only a small percentage of pages would have more than one view. You would have to ensure somehow that holders of one view do not edit the other in a prolonged war by locking it.

    This sort of functionality might be useful in cases such as description of historical persons and events (e.g. battles), and possibly unpopular but official views held by contemporary governments about history, geography, etc.

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant