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Submission + - Wikipedia celebrates its sixteenth birthday

Andreas Kolbe writes: Wikipedia is celebrating its sixteenth birthday. Since the site was first put online in January 2001, it's become everyone's go-to place for quick info. But people's reliance on Wikipedia has also spawned a new phenomenon: bogus information inserted in Wikipedia spreads all over the world. The Register has documented examples of this – newspapers and academics repeating fake names and alternative histories inserted in Wikipedia, corrupting the historical record. Wikipedia users, above all journalists and academic writers, need to understand the limitations of Wikipedia's anonymous crowdsourcing process and learn how to distinguish trustworthy and untrustworthy information in Wikipedia.

Comment Re: Why does anyone donate to Wikipedia? (Score 5, Informative) 181

About ten years ago, Jimmy Wales said about Wikipedia (time code 4:35):

“So, we’re doing around 1.4 billion page views monthly. So, it’s really gotten to be a huge thing. And everything is managed by the volunteers and the total monthly cost for our bandwidth is about 5,000 dollars, and that’s essentially our main cost. We could actually do without the employee ... We actually hired Brion [Vibber] because he was working part-time for two years and full-time at Wikipedia so we actually hired him so he could get a life and go to the movies sometimes.”

In 2008, when Wikipedia was already the world's number 8 website, the Wikimedia Foundation survived on $5 million (vs. $82 million last year). So, yes, you can have a top-ten website – written entirely by unpaid volunteers – for a fraction of the current cost.

Comment Update from Wikimedia Foundation (Score 1) 181

Wikimedia have posted an update on the Wikimedia mailing list: https://lists.wikimedia.org/pi...

"This year, we are happy to report we’ve reached our goal of US$25 million in record time. This is a testament to the importance of Wikimedia and how much support we have from people all over the world. Given this momentum, we believe that it would be wise and worthwhile to continue to fundraise more in the month of December, for the following reasons: [...]

Here is what we will do: We intend to continue with the banners for a few more days. We would then take them down over the Christmas holiday, before making an end-of-year push in the final couple days of the year. (Many people choose to give at the very end of the year, and they are expecting to hear from us as usual -- so it is an opportunity to give people who plan to give the easiest means to participate)."

(Follow link for full text of the WMF statement, including their spending rationale.)

Submission + - Wikipedia exceeds fundraising target, but continues asking for more money

Andreas Kolbe writes: The fundraising banners on Wikipedia this year are so effective that halfway through its December fundraising campaign, the Wikimedia Foundation has already exceeded its $25 million donations target for the entire month, reports The Register. A few weeks ago, Jimmy Wales promised that the Wikimedia Foundation would "stop the fundraiser if enough money were raised in shorter than the planned time". But there’s no sign of the Foundation doing that. When asked about this more recently, a Wikimedia Foundation spokesperson remained non-committal on ending the campaign early. The most recent audited accounts of the Wikimedia Foundation showed net assets of $92 million and revenue of $82 million. None of this money, incidentally, pays for writing or checking Wikipedia content – that's the job of unpaid volunteers – and only $2 million are spent on internet hosting every year.

Submission + - What are the origins of Wikipedia's Knowledge Engine?

Mdann52 writes: This week ,a Wikipedia Signpost report" raised some questions into the origin's of the sites upcoming "Knowledge Engine", funded by a grant from the Knight Foundation. While the Wikimedia Foundation claims this would be for internal use, the grant documents seem to tell a different story — with external use being specific referenced.

Comment Re:$2.5 million dollars (Score 1) 51

Actually, the first stage is costed at 2.5 million, of which the Knight Foundation is only covering $250,000. The rest is coming out of donations. The other three stages will each cost more than the first.

From this write-up, linked in the article (the link is on the word "costed"):

"Page 10 of this text specifically says that the cost of the first stage of "Knowledge Engine by Wikipedia" is $2.5 million, and that the grant is for 1 year starting in September 2015. Page 2 says that the whole project is in 4 stages, each lasting approximately 18 months = 6 years. This grant of $250,000 therefore only covers 10% of the cost, of the first stage, of the total project."

Comment Re:Integrity and transparency (not search) at stak (Score 1) 51

Well said. It's gotten to the point where whenever Wales starts badmouthing people and calling something "utter fucking bullshit" or a "total lie" (as he did in this case), you have to suspect that something very much resembling the exact opposite of what he says is actually true. At the same time, he claimed in those discussions he was "a much stronger advocate of transparency than James [Heilman]", the community representative he and the others had thrown off the Wikimedia board.

Comment Coverage in Wikipedia's community newspaper (Score 4, Informative) 104

For detailed background, see coverage in the Wikipedia Signpost, Wikipedia's community newspaper:

Geshuri steps down from board

Media coverage of the Arnnon Geshuri no-confidence vote

Also check the previous two weeks' News & Notes for how the no-confidence vote came about.

Submission + - Wikipedia's unhappy 15th birthday

Andreas Kolbe writes: Just as Wikipedia is about to turn 15 years old, relations between the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) board and the volunteer community have reached a new nadir. As Bill Beutler reports on his insider blog, The Wikipedian, it began with the removal of volunteer editor Dr James Heilman from the WMF board. Heilman is a popular figure, noted for his work on Wikipedia's medical articles, and the news of his expulsion was greeted with shock and disbelief by the almost 2,000 volunteers who had voted for him. Then it transpired that the WMF is working on a secretive "Knowledge Engine" project funded by a restricted grant from the Knight Foundation. The move, which has raised worries about the possibility of undue Google influence on WMF affairs, is unpopular even among the Foundation's paid staff. Their confidence in the board's strategic direction and transparency has plummeted, as Wikipedia's community newspaper, the Signpost, reports. Lastly, the WMF announced the appointment of Arnnon Geshuri, former Senior Director of HR and Staffing at Google, to the WMF board. Volunteers and ex-WMF board members have criticised the appointment, pointing to Geshuri's past involvement in anticompetitive hiring agreements at Google, which led to a class-action lawsuit resulting in a $415 million settlement. They want Geshuri gone.

Submission + - Meltdown at Wikipedia (wordpress.com)

Andreas Kolbe writes: As Wikipedia is about to turn 15 years old, relations between the volunteer community and the Wikimedia Foundation board have reached a new nadir. First, Dr James Heilman, an immensely popular volunteer noted for his energetic efforts to make Wikipedia's medical articles more trustworthy, was expelled from the board, causing wide-spread protests. Then it transpired that Wikimedia is working on a secretive "Knowledge Engine" project funded by a restricted grant from the Knight Foundation, leading to calls for more transparency about the project. Lastly, a few days ago the board announced the appointment of Arnnon Geshuri, former Senior Director of HR and Staffing at Google, to the Wikimedia board, provoking a further loss of confidence. The volunteers are pointing to Geshuri's past involvement in anticompetitive hiring agreements at Google, which led to a class-action lawsuit resulting in a $415 million settlement. They want Geshuri gone.

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,

hoaxes,

malice, and

blackmail,

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.)

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