A report from the external research firm Lafayette Practice has declared that the Wikimedia Foundation is the "largest known participatory grantmaking fund." Several concerns have been raised with the report, the phrase being used (participatory grantmaking), the now-former Wikipedia article on that phrase, and an alleged conflict of interest by WMF staff members.
On February 19 the WMF's blog extolled the release of a new study by the Lafayette Practice, a France-based five-person team of philanthropy advisors. The partners describe themselves as "spanning 50 years of deeply engaged experience solving the complex problems that foundations and nonprofit organizations encounter." This report, funded and commissioned by the WMF, grandly noted that it is by far the largest participatory grantmaker in the world. As defined by the blog post, participatory grantmaking attempts to "include representatives from the population that the funding will serve in the grantmaking process and in decisions about how funds are allocated."
Shortly after the blog post was published, Gregory Kohs, a long-time Wikimedia critic, published an article on Examiner.com alleging misconduct on the part of WMF staffers, specifically regarding Wikipedia's conflict of interest guideline. Kohs, founder and owner of MyWikiBiz, is a banned Wikipedia editor and was a candidate in the 2009 WMF Board of Trustees election. He alleged that the WMF hired Lafayette, which he believes has "basically adopted the phrase 'participatory grantmaking' as a proprietary discussion point," and paid the research firm to declare the WMF as the "winner of sorts in the category it was hired to investigate." This may be correct, in part: while the term "participatory grantmaking" was certainly used by others before Lafayette, very few besides Lafayette and the WMF use it. Google search results reveal more than half of all mentions presently found online are related to Lafayette and/or Wikimedia.
Kohs stated that based on his analysis of the page history of the Wikipedia article on participatory grantmaking, almost all of the page had been authored by a WMF staffer, Asaf Bartov. Bartov created the page on July 16, 2014 with his volunteer username, an account with which he has been editing since 2003; he came to the WMF in February 2011 through the Hebrew Wikipedia and Wikimedia Israel. He is now the head of WMF Project and Event Grants. Two other Wikipedia editors whose user pages identified them as WMF staffers, Jessie Wild and the pseudonymous Opinenow, contributed minor edits to the article that day and the next, respectively; Opinenow returned to the article on July 23 for some further copyedits. Both Opinenow and Katy Love, the author of the Wikimedia blog post, edited the article’s talk page from July 23 through August 25, 2014, listing other grantmakers including the Wikimedia Foundation.
One day after the blog post was published, most likely in response to the criticism, the WMF added a disclaimer to its piece. In part, it stated that "the Wikipedia article on Participatory Grantmaking was written in part [Editor's note: this was later changed to "primarily."] by Wikimedia Foundation staff in their capacity as Wikimedia volunteer editors. This was done on their own time, using their personal editor accounts." Kohs questioned the validity of this statement and further accused Bartov of deliberately neglecting to declare the conflict of interest between the WMF and the Lafayette Practice.
Using the article's edit history, Kohs noted that given a "typical Wednesday workday," Bartov would have edited at 10:25am, 1:00pm, 1:09pm and 1:39pm (Pacific Time/San Francisco). He charged that "the substantial amount of content he ... created is highly unlikely to have been produced only on personal break time."
So, in short, Kohs alleges that there are two separate but related problems within the WMF's transactions with the Lafayette Group. First and foremost, the report's questionable metrics raise questions as to the expectations set down by the WMF. Second, did Bartov create a Wikipedia article with an intent to promote WMF goals on participatory grantmaking, the term popularized and most used by Lafayette?
§COI concerns surround now-deleted Wikipedia article
My goal was not to promote WMF's practice, or even the general practice, but to document it, in a fair and NPOV way. I still think I achieved that. Indeed, I would welcome concrete criticism of the article text I composed.
—Asaf Bartov, speaking about the now-deleted Wikipedia article on participatory grantmaking
Kohs's assumption that Bartov created the article at his WMF desk was erroneous based on the Signpost 's inquiries, as the Wikipedia article was created while Bartov was in New York City attending the 2014 International Human Rights Funders Group conference, held on July 15 and 16. Both Katherine Maher, the WMF's chief communications officer, and Bartov told us so, and we were able to independently confirm this. The conference was Bartov's first chance to attend a professional grantmaking forum in his then-new position as Head of WMF Project and Event Grants, and he took note of Lafayette's presentation of Who Decides? How Participatory Granting Benefits Donors, Communities, and Movements—their initial exploration of participatory grantmaking, created in April 2014 without funding or input from the WMF. He thought that the WMF's grantmaking structure had "interesting parallels" with funders in the human rights space, or what was described in the Lafayette report. On finding that the English Wikipedia had no article on the topic, he composed the majority of the article in his hotel room that night and saved it the next afternoon, Eastern time.
It is unclear whether the WMF had already contracted with the Lafayette Practice at this time. With recent changes within the WMF's grantmaking department's structure, Maher was not able to provide an exact date of when the WMF commissioned Lafayette to write the report. Publicly available information indicates that it was sometime before the London Wikimania conference in August 2014, where the research group presented Who Decides? again and interviewed eight WMF staffers: the earliest edit mentioning Lafayette came on July 22, when Alex Wang, the WMF's Project and Event Grants Program Officer, added them to the Wikimania schedule. Lafayette followed this with a tweet on July 28. These are mere days after Bartov created the participatory grantmaking article on July 16.
Given all of this, we directly asked Bartov about the possibility of a conflict of interest, both in regards to the WMF–Lafayette relationship and within the WMF itself. He told us that he was not aware of any relationship—potential or real—between the two organizations at the time he wrote the article. Had this been otherwise, he wrote in no uncertain terms that he "would not have created the article at the time, given its strong dependence on [Lafayette's] first report as a source." Furthermore, he did not edit the article at any time after being interviewed by Lafayette in London at Wikimania.
On the potential for an internal conflict of interest within the WMF itself, he wrote that he was aware of a potential for breaching the conflict of interest policy and therefore avoided mentioning the organization in his article.
I would welcome concrete criticism of the article text I composed; I note Kohs did not actually claim the article failed to discuss its subject in a neutral way. I took care that from the very first revision the article did not present the practice as an unalloyed good, stressing that the benefits (largely drawn from [Lafayette's] report) are perceived (i.e. by the practitioners), and including shortcomings and challenges. … I wrote the article entirely of my own volition [and was] neither instructed to by, nor discussing my intention with, anyone else before I posted it directly to mainspace.
From the WMF, Maher strongly rejected the notion that there was a conflict of interest in this case; in their view, WMF staffers—in their personal capacities, with the goals of Wikipedia in mind—contributed to the article and were never directed to do so by their supervisors or anyone else.
§"Participatory grantmaking" and the WMF–Lafayette relationship
The second of two reports produced by the Lafayette Practice on participatory grantmaking was commissioned and paid for by the WMF (the first, Who Decides, was not). On page eleven, it declares that the WMF is the "largest known participatory grantmaking fund" based on a sample of eight other organizations.
Kohs wrote "You may never have heard of this phrase, participatory grantmaking, because (according to Google Books and Google Scholar) prior to about 2009, the phrase had never been written in any book or any academic paper." Despite having many traits of a trendy, in-vogue neologism, the base concepts of "participatory grantmaking"—which was only used as a single term starting after 2008—have been around for several decades under a myriad of different terms. The concept has roots in participatory budgeting, which started as an experiment in Porto Alegre, Brazil in the 1980s and has since spread to Asia, Europe, and North America. Lafayette points to the 1970s formation of the Funding Exchange, which "worked to provide long-term institutional support for grassroots social justice [and] movement-building work" in the United States until it shut down in 2013. Entities that have used "participatory grantmaking" itself include Harvard University, the Overbrook Foundation, and the Center for Effective Philanthropy. These go back to at least 2010, and the WMF has been using the term to describe its approach to grantmaking since at least May 2013—well before the two reports authored by Lafayette.
All that being said, there is cause for concern with Lafayette's definition of "participatory grantmaking." In their recent report on the WMF, they declare that it is the "largest known participatory grantmaking fund" based purely on the sample it created last year, which contains a total of eight non-profit organizations. For a neologism with such a wide scope, it is inevitable that a plethora of similar grantmaking models have been missed. For example, as noted by Wikipediocracy, the Colorado Trust disbursed $13.9 million in 2013. The WMF, in comparison, disbursed less than $6 million in its 2013/2014 financial year.
On the relationship between the WMF and Lafayette, Maher wrote that they hired the firm based on a Lafayette Practice report released in April 2014. The document, Who Decides?, was used as the main source in Bartov's Wikipedia article and did not have any WMF involvement. She also discounted Kohs' central assertion, that "the Lafayette Practice 'owns' the trade term 'participatory grantmaking', and the Wikimedia Foundation solidified the consultant's lock on that term by authoring a Wikipedia article about it":
The Lafayette Practice may have written the source that is most easily discoverable online at the moment, but they did not develop the concept. Adoption of the term 'Participatory Grantmaking' may be relatively recent among the philanthropic community, but the concept is well-established.
The Lafayette Practice did not respond to a Signpost inquiry by press time. The article on participatory grantmaking was nominated for deletion on February 25 and deleted less than 24 hours later per the "snow" clause.
Departure of Anasuya Sengupta: WMF's Senior Director of Grantmaking has announced her upcoming departure due to health issues.
WMF organization chart changes: The Wikipedia Library, Grantmaking (now "Community Resources"), Learning and Evaluation, the Wikipedia Education Program, Community Advocacy, and Community Liaison WMF staff are now combined in the "Community Engagement" Department under new Senior Director of Community Engagement Luis Villa, who was previously WMF's Deputy General Counsel. Siko Bouterse has been promoted to Director of Community Resources.
Between 1976 and 1998, from 30,000 mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and arthropods sampled from outbreak regions, no Ebolavirus was detected apart from some genetic material found in six rodents (Mus setulosus and Praomys) and one shrew (Sylvisorex ollula) collected from the Central African Republic. The virus was detected in the carcasses of gorillas, chimpanzees, and duikers during outbreaks in 2001 and 2003, which later became the source of human infections. However, the high mortality from infection in these species makes them unlikely as a natural reservoir.
Plants, arthropods, and birds have also been considered as possible reservoirs; however, bats are considered the most likely candidate. Bats were known to reside in the cotton factory in which the index cases for the 1976 and 1979 outbreaks were employed, and they have also been implicated in Marburg infections in 1975 and 1980. Of 24 plant species and 19 vertebrate species experimentally inoculated with Ebolavirus, only bats became infected. The absence of clinical signs in these bats is characteristic of a reservoir species. In a 2002–2003 survey of 1,030 animals which included 679 bats from Gabon and the Republic of the Congo, 13 fruit bats were found to contain Ebolavirus RNA. As of 2005, three fruit bat species (Hypsignathus monstrosus, Epomops franqueti, and Myonycteris torquata) have been identified as carrying the virus while remaining asymptomatic...
Reston ebolavirus—unlike its African counterparts—is non-pathogenic in humans. The high mortality among monkeys and its recent emergence in swine, makes them unlikely natural reservoirs.
Oxford Textbook of Zoonoses (2011). page 364
...Between 1976 and 1998, various mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and arthropods from outbreak regions have been studied to determine the natural Fiolovirus reservoir. No Ebolavirus was detected apart from some genetic material found in six rodents (Mus setulosus and Praomys) and one shrew (sylvisorex ollula) collected from the Central African Republic (Peterson 2004). The virus was detected in the carcasses of gorillas, chimpanzees, and duikers during outbreaks in 2001 and 2003, which later became the source of human infections. However, the high mortality from infection in these species makes them unlikely as a natural reservoir.
Plants, arthropods, and birds have also been considered as possible reservoirs; however, bats are now considered the most likely candidate. Bats were known to reside in the cotton factory in which the Ebola index cases for the 1976 and 1979 outbreaks were employed. They have been implicated in the Marburg infections in 1975 and 1980. Of 24 plant species and 19 vertebrate species experimentally inoculated with Ebolavirus, only bats became infected (Swanepoel 1996). The absence of clinical signs in these bats is characteristic of a reservoir species. In a 2002-2003 survey of 1,030 animales, which included 679 bats from Gabon and the DRC, 13 fruit bats were found to contain Ebolavirus RNA (Pourrut 2009). As of 2005, three fruit bat species (Hypsignathus monstrosus, Epomops franqueti, and Myonycteris torquata) have been identified as carrying the virus while remaining asymptomatic...
Reston ebolavirus—unlike its African counterparts—is non-pathogenic in humans. The high mortality among monkeys and its recent emergence in pigs makes them unlikely natural reservoirs.
Last October, I came across the Oxford Textbook of Zoonoses (2011) published by Oxford University Press (OUP). I noticed that chapter 31, "Marburg and Ebola viruses", contained a fair bit of text that was nearly identical, word for word, as that in the Wikipedia article Ebola virus disease. A page from the book may be seen on Google Books, with at least the "natural reservoirs" section being nearly verbatim and some parts of the rest of the chapter containing great similarities.
Initially, I made an assumption that someone had copied and pasted from this book into Wikipedia. However, thankfully we have the ability to go back and view every version of Wikipedia that has ever existed. I could thus determine that the content in question was added to Wikipedia back in 2006 and was subsequently edited and expanded between then and 2010, when the greatest similarities occur. From this I could conclude that it was partly written by the Wikipedians ChyranandChloe and Rhys.
Next, I wondered whether one of these individuals was the author of the OUP chapter, namely, Graham Lloyd of the Special Pathogens Reference Unit at Porton Down. I contacted the user who had made the majority of the contributions, who turned out to be a virologist in Australia who assured me that while he had contributed to Wikipedia, he had never contributed to the Oxford Textbook of Zoonoses.
Finally, I looked for attribution of Wikipedia in the Oxford Textbook of Zoonoses and a release of this book under an open license as required by Wikipedia, and the result was that neither of these have been performed. The hardcover version of the Oxford Textbook of Zoonoses retails for $375. I discussed this issue with the legal team at the Wikimedia Foundation, who contacted the Oxford University Press. We were hoping that they could negotiate both attribution and release under an open license.
The reputation of Wikipedia in academia often seems to be that it is good enough for academics to use and even occasionally claim as their own work, but not good enough for either students or the “unwashed masses”. Thus I believed that convincing one of the world’s foremost medical publishers to both attribute and use an open license would be difficult. The legal team at the WMF, however, was optimistic. Initial emails from OUP indicated that this case would take longer than usual, as the people involved were “all over the world doing important Ebola work”. This, of course, is not the first time we have come across the academic literature copy and pasting from Wikipedia. In 2012, I discovered a medical textbook had also extensively copied from Wikipedia. (Also see the Signpost 's 2012 special report on the misappropriation of Wikimedia content.)
At Wikipedia, we are happy to work with publishers. A year or so ago, I helped guide the company Boundless, which creates open access textbooks mostly based on Wikipedia content for first year university students, on how to appropriately attribute. These books were already released under a CC BY SA license. We attempted to work with the OUP in the same fashion.
On January 20, 2015, the OUP acknowledged that the content originated from Wikipedia and agreed to attribute Wikipedia, but were having difficulty with the open licensing. Following further inspection of the Oxford Textbook of Zoonoses , I found more inconsistencies. For example, while parts of the text were exactly the same, the author had not consistently used the same references. The references used on the Wikipedia article supported the text, but the references in the Oxford Textbook of Zoonoses that were changed did not support the text in question. The question remains as to why the references were changed. As a result of these changes, the quality of the copied content was lowered.
On February 5, 2015, I emailed the OUP offering to rewrite and update the chapter in question in collaboration with fellow Wikipedians. The next day, they replied via e-mail stating that they had already “independently decided to update the chapter and that that work [was] already in hand”. Writing a textbook chapter takes a fair length of time, likely weeks rather than a few days. Looking at the time line, it is questionable whether the OUP ever seriously intended to attribute Wikipedia. While our content passed their review processes, they claimed it was simply an “inadvertent omission of citation”. It is likely that a replacement chapter was requested immediately after the WMF legal department contacted OUP’s team.
The one good thing that has come out of all of this is that Wikipedia’s content passing a major textbook publisher review processes is some external validation of Wikipedia’s quality.
Both Wikipedia and the Oxford Textbook of Zoonoses include "The absence of clinical signs in these bats is characteristic of a reservoir species. In a 2002–2003 survey of 1,030 animals which included 679 bats from Gabon and the Republic of the Congo, 13 fruit bats were found to contain Ebolavirus RNA". Wikipedia cites a 2005 article from Nature, which does support it. The Oxford Textbook of Zoonoses cites a 2009 article from BMC Infectious Diseases, which does not support it.
Both include "no Ebolavirus was detected apart from some genetic material found in six rodents (Mus setulosus and Praomys) and one shrew (Sylvisorex ollula) collected from the Central African Republic". Wikipedia cites it to a 2005 article from Microbes and Infection which does support it, while the Oxford Textbook of Zoonoses cites [a 2004 article] from Emerging Infectious Diseases which does not support the content.
Both state "Of 24 plant species and 19 vertebrate species experimentally inoculated with Ebolavirus, only bats became infected" and both use the same reference, a 1996 article from Emerging Infectious Diseases.
^ abcPourrut, X.; Kumulungui, B.; Wittmann, T.; Moussavou, G.; Délicat, A.; Yaba, P.; Nkoghe, D.; Gonzalez, J. P.; Leroy, E. M. (2005). "The natural history of Ebola virus in Africa". Microbes and infection / Institut Pasteur7 (7–8): 1005–1014. doi:10.1016/j.micinf.2005.04.006. PMID16002313.edit
^Morvan, J.; Deubel, V.; Gounon, P.; Nakouné, E.; Barrière, P.; Murri, S.; Perpète, O.; Selekon, B.; Coudrier, D.; Gautier-Hion, A.; Colyn, M.; Volehkov, V. (1999). "Identification of Ebola virus sequences present as RNA or DNA in organs of terrestrial small mammals of the Central African Republic". Microbes and Infection1 (14): 1193–1201. doi:10.1016/S1286-4579(99)00242-7. PMID10580275.edit
The views expressed in these op-eds are those of the authors only; responses and critical commentary are invited in the comments section. Editors wishing to submit their own op-ed should email the Signpost 's editor.
§Arrest reported in Wikipedia editing of Parsons article
Earlier this month, ITM reported on a Canadian government investigation into Wikipedia edits to the article Suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons from an IP address belonging to the Department of National Defence. Parsons' 2013 suicide at the age of 17, which her parents blame on Internet harassment following her alleged gang rape at 15 by four teenage boys, caused a nationwide outcry against cyberbullying. Two of the alleged assailants eventually pled guilty to charges of child pornography related to the distribution of a photo of Parsons. The Wikipedia edits appear to attempt to cast doubt on her alleged sexual assault and subsequent suicide. CBC Newsreports (February 26) that according to Parsons' father, Glen Canning, the father of one of those alleged assailants was arrested for making those Wikipedia edits from a computer at CFB Shearwater. The Department of National Defence confirmed that an unidentified man was arrested and released but refused to confirm a connection to the Parsons case. G
H. G. Wells predicted Wikipedia: Voxcompares (February 23) H. G. Wells' utopian vision of a "Permanent World Encyclopaedia" to Wikipedia. Wells had written about the idea in 1937. A.K.
Wiki Wars: Quartz features an article (February 23) by William Beutler on the recent "Gamergate and Grammy kerfuffles", which Beutler describes as part of Wikipedia's teenage growing pains. A.K.
WMF Office bans: The Daily Dotexamines (February 22) the recent uptick in global bans by the Wikimedia Foundation and related community concerns that the process lacks transparency. The piece, which focuses mostly on the ban of Russavia, features quotes from several Wikimedians critical of the global ban process, as well as comments by Katherine Maher, the Wikimedia Foundation's Chief Communications Officer. A.K.
Footprints: The Cary Newsreports (February 19) on an unsourced February 2 edit to the article Apex, North Carolina which claimed that "The town also has a long history of Bigfoot sightings, which has attracted many newcomers to the area." The Town Manager of Apex removed the sentence from the article on February 19 and told the News that "he has no personal knowledge of Bigfoot's existence." G
The release of the film adaptation of this onetime Twilightfanfic, which introduced large audiences to the questionable joys of BDSM, was panned by critics (it has a 25% on Rotten Tomatoes). The film earned $324 million worldwide in its first eight days. Still, early reports from the second weekend suggests the film may have, shall we say, peaked too early, with a reported 74% drop in receipts.
There was a time, not so long ago really (say a century or two), when this moveable feast marking the first day of Lent would have been the main topic of discussion among the public. Times have changed. Most people don't even fast for Lent any more, let alone show their devotion by marking their foreheads with ash.
If there's one thing America loves, it's a good, old fashioned culture war. Clint Eastwood's latest directorial effort American Sniper may not be wowing the critics (Rotten Tomatoes places it 13th among the films he has directed), nor drawing the crowds overseas (its international box office take is currently less than a third its domestic take), but it has played spectacularly well in America's conservative heartland, leading politicians on the left and right to, well, snipe at each other about what the film and its popularity say about America, its people, and in particular its subject, the now deceased sniper Chris Kyle. While interest seems to be winding down (viewing figures for this article peaked at 5.3 million three weeks ago), the topic still has enough oxygen to keep it in the Top 10.
This week's project is on a youth activity, one of the largest in the world; its project is commensurately large, containing around 136 active editors. It's WikiProject Scouting, a group of editors whose remit is everything relating to the Scouting movement, which has around 42 million members worldwide and celebrated the centenary of its founding only eight years ago. If you're not already aware, Scouting is an international organisation in which young people are taught skills to use for life, focusing on the outdoors and survival. Begun in 1907 with the publication of Scouting for Boys by Robert Baden-Powell, the movement's two largest arms are Gerakan Pramuka Indonesia and the Boy Scouts of America. Two of our interviewees are British and two are American. Welcome Bduke, DiverScout, Gadget850 and Purplebackpack89.
What motivated you to join WikiProject Scouting? Are you a Scout or a leader in your local area?
Bduke: I was an extremely active Scout as a youth and an active Scouter from 18 to 31, when I left in 1970 because I could no longer support the then religious policy. However I continued to have an interest, particularly about reforming Scouting to admit girls and gays, and was on a Group Committee in the 1990s when my kids were in the Group. I have been involved in the Project for nearly 10 years, but my interest in wikipedia has faded somewhat and I am less active than previously. However, I look at my watchlist at least every day and I have many Scouting articles on it.
DiverScout: I was a Scout as a youth and then became a leader in The Scout Association (UK), later moving to the Baden-Powell Scouts Association. It was during this move that I discovered the Wikipedia article on the B-PSA which, at that time, had a lot of issues that I felt needed to be addressed. Once that article was complete I moved onto other areas, but became interested in ensuring that all Scouting organisations were being treated equally, and that Wikipedia was presenting an appropriate breadth of coverage of Scouting topics.
Gadget850: I was a Scout in the Boy Scouts of America and earned Eagle Scout. I then became an assistant Scoutmaster for a short time before joining the US Army. My first duty station was in West Germany where I quickly found the BSA was active and became a Scoutmaster. With 30 plus years as a Scouter and six in Germany, I have a keen interest in Scouting history and international Scouting. This lead to a natural interest in Scouting topics on Wikipedia.
Purplebackpack89: I was a Scout in the Boy Scouts of America and earned Eagle Scout. I don't quite remember how I stumbled on the WikiProject, but I joined shortly after discovering it.
A typical Scout hut in the UK
Have you contributed to any of the project's eighteen Featured or twenty-four Good articles, and do you find them easier or harder to promote than articles regarding other subjects?
Bduke: Probably. I tend to not notice whether an an article is featured or good. I have never set out to improve an article to make it featured or good. I am more interested in just getting new information into articles. I have however been active in most of the arguments about the article on Baden-Powell.
DiverScout: Most likely, but I rarely check to see whether an article is featured before working on it if I notice issues. There has, however, been a lot of effort put into the article on Baden-Powell, attempting to ensure that all opinions are represented without undue weighting.
Gadget850: I have worked on just about every Scouting article to some degree. Some just cleanup and vandalism fixes. I have helped on all of the FA/GA articles with an expertise on references. I have worked on other FA articles (Harry S. Truman) and find the process is about the same.
A group of Russian scouts
Do you think that Scouting receives a reasonable amount of editor attention on Wikipedia, or should there be more editors involved?
Bduke: There seems to be quite a lot of specific attention, but the number of people active in the project seems to have declined. This is a pity, as we need discussions from across the world to present Scouting in articles in a consistent fashion. There should be more editors involved.
DiverScout: There does seem to be less activity than there was – possibly because most organisations are now represented and the majority of articles have reached a state of equilibrium. I am sure that additional editors from around the world could, however, add a lot more detail to the articles attempting to describe Scouting in their regions.
Gadget850: Editorship is down. As with the English Wikipedia, our members tend towards American males which means our most edited articles concern the Boy Scouts of America.
Purplebackpack89: I don't think it's a topic most non-Scouter editors consider particularly important.
Bduke: I will only comment on the first. Since I do not come from the US, I have little involvement in articles related to Philmont Scout Ranch. Wikipedia editors are predominantly male and this is both a great pity and impacts on Scouting articles. The articles on Girl Guide and Girl Scout topics along with articles on other solely female related organisations are not as widespread or as developed as articles related to male-only organisations or those Scout organisations that now take both girls and boys like those in the UK and Australia where I have most experience of Scouting. We need more female editors and we need them in this Project.
DiverScout: It would be nice to see additional input from Guides and Girl Scouts, as it always seems that the majority of editors are entering Wikipedia from Scouting, and are usually male. If this happened then the Girl Guide task force could be restored quickly. Not being an American, I have little understanding of the Philmont Scout Ranch task force.
Gadget850: We have had about three female editors and none are active, so the GGGS task force went inactive. We had one editor who create a lot of Philmont articles but most were stubs on the various sub-camps and were eventually merged into one article.
What is your most popular topic or article, measured by reader page views? Should it be a project aim to improve your highest visibility articles?
DiverScout: I've not checked which article it would be, but to me the most important job we have is to ensure that the less popular pages are developed to high standards so that the those interested can find the correct, impartial information that they are looking for – whether that be on Baden-Powell or the Girl Scouts of Jamaica.
How can a new member help today?
Bduke: Join the Project and take a wider interest than just the articles on the organisation you belong to.
This Signpost "Featured content" report covers material promoted from 8 to 14 February, 2015. Descriptions may be based on or quoted from the respective articles or nominations; see their page histories for attribution.
The Trinity nuclear test, 16 milliseconds after explosion. 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
The Japanese version of the Sega Saturn, because I'm tired of showing pictures of black boxes when we feature images of video game consoles. This one has a bit of colour.
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within(nominated by Freikorp) A relatively early 3D-animated film which attempted to make the leap to photorealism, Square Pictures rendered the Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within using some of the most advanced processing capabilities available for film animation at the time. A render farm consisting of 960 workstations was tasked with rendering each of the film's 141,964 frames, and a staff of 200 and about four years labored towards its completion. Square intended to make the character of Aki Ross into the world's first photorealistic computer-animated actress, with plans for appearances in multiple films in different roles. However, all this technical achievement also made it a very expensive film, so Square Pictures was unable to make back the money put into it, leading to its demise. The plot follows scientists Aki Ross and Doctor Sid in their efforts to free a post-apocalyptic Earth from a mysterious and deadly alien race known as the Phantoms, who have driven the remnants of humanity into "barrier cities".
Interstate 8(nominated by Rschen7754) A road from San Diego, California to Casa Grande, Arizona, Interstate 8, like much of the American interstate system, expands on previous roads. Mobster Jimmy Fratianno was involved in the construction of the El Centro section, and was convicted of fraud, public utility and labour violations, withholding wages from the truckers he employed, and damaging roads with overloaded trucks. The Arizona State government, meanwhile, in an unrelated incident, was found guilty by a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee of financial mismanagement in their hiring of contractors, failing to protect the public interest while doing so, and leading to numerous errors in construction. In other words, a surprising article, full of juicy scandals.
Girl Pat (1935 trawler)(nominated by Brianboulton) The Girl Pat was a small fishing trawler based at the Lincolnshire port of Grimsby, whose unauthorised transatlantic voyage in 1936 caused a media sensation. The escapade ended in Georgetown, British Guiana, with the arrest of the trawler's captain, George "Dod" Orsborne, and his brother. The pair were later imprisoned for the theft of the vessel. Built in 1935, Girl Pat was the property of the Marstrand Fishing Company of Grimsby. On 1 April 1936, Orsborne, with a crew of four and his brother James as a supernumerary, took the vessel out on what the owners authorised as a routine North Sea fishing trip of two to three weeks' duration. Using a cheap school atlas to navigate, the trawler went on a long cruise, to Spain, the Savage Islands, Dakar in Senegal, and islands off French Guiana in South America. The wayward sailors were finally captured in Georgetown, British Guiana, and the world's press, unsurprisingly, thought they were amazing and took their side. They were convicted, but after eighteen months for George, and twelve months for his brother, they were out, still acclaimed as public heroes.
Fork-marked lemur(nominated by Maky) Like all lemurs, the fork-marked lemur is native to Madagascar, where they are found only in the west, north, and east sides of the island. But not the south; the south is right out. Fork-marked lemurs are among the least studied of all lemurs and are some of the largest members of the family Cheirogaleidae, weighing around 350 grams (0.77 lb) or more.
Sega Saturn(nominated by TheTimesAreAChanging) Showcased at the Tokyo Toy Show in June 1994, according to Sega project manager Hideki Okamura, the Saturn Sega project started over two years beforehand. The name "Saturn" was initially the system's codename during development in Japan, but was eventually chosen as the official product name. Initially successful in Japan, it failed to sell in large numbers in the United States after its surprise May 1995 launch, four months before its scheduled release date. After the debut of the Nintendo 64 in late 1996, the Saturn rapidly lost market share in the US, where it was discontinued in 1998, but it lasted somewhat longer in Japan and Europe. It is considered a commercial failure, albeit one with some highly-regarded games.
Rodrigues starling(nominated by FunkMonk) is an extinctspecies of starling that was endemic to the Mascarene island of Rodrigues. Known only from partially-fossilized remains and the reports of a single sailor, Julien Tafforet, who was marooned on the island, the Rodrigues starling was 25–30 cm (10–12 inches) long, and had a stout beak. It was described as having a white body, partially black wings and tail, and a yellow bill and legs, and ate eggs and dead tortoises. Predation by rats introduced to the area was probably responsible for the bird's extinction some time in the 18th century.
Laurence Olivier(nominated by SchroCat and Tim riley) In 1924, Gerard Olivier, a habitually frugal man, told his son that not only must he gain admission to the Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art, but he must also gain a scholarship with a bursary to cover his tuition fees and living expenses. Olivier's sister had been a student there and was a favorite of Elsie Fogerty, the founder and principal of the school. Olivier later speculated that it was on the strength of this that Fogerty agreed to award him the bursary. Following Olivier's success in Shakespearean stage productions, he made his first foray into Shakespeare on film in 1936, as Orlando in As You Like It, directed by Paul Czinner, "a charming if lightweight production", according to Michael Brooke of the British Film Institute's (BFI's) Screenonline. He is noted for numerous films, including three adaptations of Shakespeare which he also directed: Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948), and Richard III (1955), adaptations of novels, such as Wuthering Heights (1939), Rebecca (1940), Marathon Man (1976), and other films including The Boys from Brazil (1978), involving a plot to clone Hitler, and - in a rather clever twist - to also give him the important life events that shaped Hitler's character. Fun fact: I'd love to include pictures of him in this Signpost, but am not convinced of the copyright status of any of the half-decent images.
Destroy this Mad Brute: Enlist predates King Kong by sixteen years.
It's not a huge secret that Adam tends to use the featured article section of this article to find things to restore. He doesn't generally spend a tenner to buy a copy of the magazine in question, though, like he did here.
Marvel Science Stories cover(created by Norman Saunders, restored and nominated by Adam Cuerden) A fine, rare example of science fiction art from an ephemeral magazine. As the magazine's table of contents describes this cover of the April-May 1939 issue of Marvel Science Stories, "Norman Saunders, inimitable science-fiction cover artist, gives his conception of a beauty parlor of the future — A Mechanical Fountain of Youth", and an accompanying article by Eando Binder chattily talks about imagining walking into one of these future marvels, and with no injections or cutting, just the miraculous power of electricity recharging the cells - yes, we know - and adjusting the hormone levels by modifying the endocrine glands, in order to restore one to the state they were in at their youth. The article explains that biology is one of the younger sciences, so it might well be possible. Well... maybe this was more plausible at the time, but anyone who has done biology in school in the last few decades will be able to tear this apart themselves.
The Princess and the Trolls(created by John Bauer, nominated by SagaciousPhil)John Bauer was a Swedish painter and illustrator. While heavily influenced by the art of the Renaissance, his style was romantic nationalism and he was dedicated to the folklore and nature of his home country. This image, from the Nationalmuseum Stockholm, is one of his illustrations for Among Gnomes and Trolls, a series of popular fairy tale anthologies published by Åhlén & Åkerlund. Bauer produced watercolors using a muted color scheme that were included as full-page illustrations which were a highlight of the series; sales dropped significantly when he was not illustrating the books. Bauer abandoned the series after World War I, saying that he could no longer imagine the world as a fairy tale. Unfortunately, he died young at 36 along with his wife and child, drowning in a shipwreck on Lake Vättern.
Three Arch Bay(created and nominated by D. Ramey Logan) Three Arch Bay in Laguna, California was named after the shape of the rocks, forming the Three Arches this rather exclusive area is named after. Few people even know these pools are in South Laguna Beach. The original square pool, seen in the center of the photo, was built in 1929 by the famous director and producer Edward H. Griffith. This entire community was sold in 1926 for $135,000.00. Today, the original Edward H. Griffith home featuring the original pool is on the market and will run you a cool 25 million, but that price includes the original pool and private beach, an interior that would have you feeling like "Pete the Pirate", and your own personal "Light House" reading room to allow you to "Edit Wikipedia in Style"! The classic 1935 Warner Bros. Academy Award-nominated film Captain Blood was also filmed in Three Arch Bay, starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Lionel Atwill and Basil Rathbone - so you will be in good company! Take the flight and get the shot with WPPilot.
Deutsche Mark(created by Forbes Lithograph Manufacturing Company for the United States Army, nominated and prepared from the collections of the Smithsonian Institute by Godot13) A 1948 West German (Federal Republic of Germany) Deutsche Mark. The issue of this currency by the Allies was combined with a wage freeze, and two different exchange rates with the old Rentenmark, depending on whether they were savings or wages/payments, attempting to avoid further hyperinflation. In the summer of 1948, a giant wave of strikes and demonstrations swept over West Germany, leading to an incident in Stuttgart where strikers were met by US tanks ("Stuttgarter Vorfälle"), and only after the wage freeze was abandoned was the Deutsche Mark accepted. By the way, the article Deutsche Mark is terribly written at times. The bit of text that was based on is only semi-coherent, so we apologize for any mistakes.
The Gallery is an occasional Signpost feature highlighting quality images and articles from Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons based on a particular theme, as well as an article you could help improve. This week, we feature subjects that are "far from home".
A bronze coin depicting Roman Emperor Constantius II (317–361) found in Yecheng in northwestern China. It is a tangible example of Sino-Roman relations which occurred throughout the history of the Roman Empire and Han dynasty China. Aside from the occasional attempt at direct contact, most of the contact occurred through long-distance trade of goods like silk and glassware.
The Isle of Graia as depicted by David Roberts (1796–1864): Roberts was a Scottish painter persuaded by J. M. W. Turner to visit Egypt and the Near East to document the cultures and locations there. His series of lithographs from his journey are now considered iconic views from the time.
Fatata te Miti (By the Sea), an 1897 painting. It is a masterpiece of artist Paul Gauguin, who permanently abandoned his life and family in his native France to live and paint in French Polynesia.
The Vince Memorial Cross on Ross Island. It was erected during the Discovery Expedition (1901–1904) to Antarctica to commemorate Seaman George Vince, who fell off a cliff during the expedition and whose body was never found.
The protective cover of the Voyager Golden Record, a phonograph record that was included aboard both Voyager spacecraft launched in 1977. It contains sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, intended for an audience of intelligent extraterrestrial life. In 2012, Voyager 1 became the first man-made object to reach interstellar space; Voyager 2 is expected to do so around 2016.
Editor's note: the Blog will be a recurring Signpost section that will highlight a recent post from the Wikimedia blog, run by the Wikimedia Foundation. This week's installment is written by Philippe Beaudette, the Foundation's Director of Community Advocacy, and focuses on planning for the future of the Wikimedia movement. The views expressed in this piece are those of the author alone; responses and critical commentary are invited in the comments section.
The Wikimedia movement works because it brings together many different perspectives to solve complex problems. Join the community consultation to plan our strategy together. Group photo of Wikimania 2014 participants by Ralf Roletschek, licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.
The Wikimedia Foundation has a rich tradition of stopping to take stock of where we are and where we'd like to go as a movement. Over the years, this has taken different forms—from "Board-only" processes to our massive, community co-created strategic plan five years ago.
This year, to support the Foundation's strategic planning efforts, we'd like to try something different, by kicking-off a two-week community consultation about the future of Wikimedia. The themes that emerge from the consultation will be used to inform the development of the direction and priorities for the Wikimedia Foundation.
Instead of launching a comprehensive (and expensive!) process and creating a formal document, like the last strategic planning initiative, we see this as the first step. We are interested in an iterative, discursive strategic process—one that continues to reflect changes in knowledge creation, user behavior, and the internet as a whole, while remaining agile and responsive to our mutual thoughts and needs.
The Wikimedia Foundation needs to hear your ideas about the emerging trends we should be paying attention to as a community, about what the Foundation could (or should) do to adapt to emerging challenges and opportunities, and how our movement (including the Foundation) should respond to these changes. We hope the conversation will highlight the huge changes that have occurred since our last strategic conversations, as well as emerging trends that will have significant impact on the projects.
We all know that since Wikipedia began fourteen years ago, the world—including the internet—has changed dramatically. More people are coming online, in more places, and they are accessing knowledge in new and changing ways. One change we're watching is the dramatic growth in mobile devices. It's clear that the world is "going mobile." Trends show that mobile access and devices are becoming the primary (and often only!) method of access to the internet for people around the world. What does this mean for our projects?
Similarly, we've seen Wikipedia's reach grow and change. Wikipedia, which started in North America and quickly spread to Europe, is now growing fastest in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Another billion internet users are expected to come online in coming years—many from these growing regions. These users may not know about Wikimedia projects, and will likely have new and different motivations for participation and collaboration. How do we prepare to include and engage these new users and contributors?
The next few years will be characterized by rapid change: technology will change; devices will change; people will change. At the Wikimedia Foundation, we believe one thing will not change: the need to share and access free knowledge with the world. Our mission is as relevant now as ever before. Our movement's challenge is to be ready to adapt when necessary to continue to make a difference. That's what this consultation is about.
I hope you will participate in the consultation to share your ideas of the future and help lay the groundwork for defining the Foundation's strategic direction.
"it is not women's inferiority that has determined their historical insignificance; it is their historical insignificance that has doomed them to inferiority" ~ Beauvoir
The problem of the Gender Gap in Wikipedia can mean several things; a gap in editors, or a gap in the content, and of course the relationship between the two. An arXiv preprint titled "First Women, Second Sex: Gender Bias in Wikipedia"  addresses the gap on the content side, with justification by many Simone de Beauvoir quotes. The authors use an ensemble of three methods—DBPedia metadata, language modelling, and network theory—to show not just inequality in encyclopedia inclusion, but degrees of sexism in how biographies are included. For instance, how different genders meet notability is quantifiably different, as is the centrality of biographies in their link structure.
The initial metadata technique is an inspection of DBPedia data mashed up with a separate dataset from previous research based on pronoun counting techniques. This method is a bit shaky as it relies on the combination of two derived datasets, especially in an era when Wikidata can deliver data closer to the source. Nevertheless the researchers find that 15.5% of their final dataset are women biographies. Digging further, biographies are separated by subclass: athletes, politicians, military-personnel, and all others are more heavily male—only artists and royalty are female-biased. Other findings from this type of infobox scraping is that female biographies are much more likely to have the spouse parameter filled.
Moving into the natural language realm, the paper inspects bigrams of the biographies' text. The top words associated with men are "played", "football" and "league"; for women, the top are "actress", "women's" and "her husband". This already starts to hint at the notion that men are notable for what they do, rather than only their static characteristics. To investigate further, Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) and two measures—frequency and burstiness—are employed for semantic classification. The semantic category where male biographies score significantly higher is cognitive mechanics, which encompasses words like "became", "known", and "made"; meanwhile female biographies have significantly more sexual words like "love", "passion", and "sex".
The last domain explored is network structure. Each biography links to and is linked from other biographies, forming a directed graph. The first interesting thing to note is that in chi-squared testing between 4 link types (female–female, female–male, male–male, male–female), only female-female occur more than expected. Next a PageRank ranking is made of the graph, which determines the importance or "centrality" of biographies. Any subsetting of biographies by removing the least PageRanked articles, it is found, reduces the female ratio of the subset below the total figure.
The authors wrap up their conclusions within the context of feminist theory. They argue the notion of gender roles is evident in Wikipedia in the way that metadata shows that men are more often known to be sportspeople, and women to be artists, royalty or spouses of someone else. Likewise the language of biographies is biased. That "her husband" and "first woman" are top terms in female articles indicates a failure in the Finkbeiner test. Furthermore the authors claim this exhibits "objectification" in light of the evidence that the "cognitive processes" of men were shown to be more significant than women, and that the "sexual" category is the only one in which women are more frequently described than men. Finally, as viewed from the network structure results, female biographies are less central to the encyclopedia. This is said to be because of historical philosophy and today's notability guidelines, that "reason and objectivity are gendered male"—a feminist metaphysical view. The explanation of female articles tending to link to other female articles more than expected, the authors imagine, is due to women-led gender gap addressing efforts.
Overall this article provides a wide variety of methods to measure the gender gap, which proves a high-level point from many perspectives. It is situated in feminist thought, but multiple returns to Beauvoir make the final analysis seem superficial and generic. Additionally, the simplifying assumptions of English-only and derived datasets leave open the criticism that the larger points cannot be disentangled from a few extra biases introduced by language- and processing-inherited lenses. The authors admit as much in their limitations when they also acknowledge not questioning the gender binary either. What we have here though is an increment to a growing pile of methods and techniques proving the gender gap which, ideologically, does not need, but can always benefit from additional statistical legitimacy.
§Wikipedia’s SOPA Strike considered as international political movement
A chronology of the events leading up to the SOPA Strike on Wikipedia is presented. The author then analyzes Wikipedia’s forums debating whether and how to restrict access to the site for a day. Debate participants are classified by such characteristics as national origin, history of editing Wikipedia, and stated arguments for and against. Simple quantitative analyses of population percentages and relative contribution are performed. Konieczny then tests various hypotheses about the nature of the protest, to see which one fits the facts.
Konieczny shows that experienced Wikipedians were generally supportive of a protest but were more likely to express misgivings about losing neutrality. Americans also participated in a greater proportion than their prevalence on the English Wikipedia. However the process also allowed non-US citizens and free culture idealists to have significant leverage over the debate on Wikipedia, and thus on American national politics. Konieczny tries to show that Wikipedia is thus an international social movement in the broader free culture movement. Konieczny ends the paper with a speculation that the many pro-blackout single-purpose accounts may reflect a new political consciousness among the young and internet-savvy.
Konieczny's analysis gives us a very detailed, fascinating picture of what arguments were made in public on Wikipedia forums during a crucial few weeks. However, this may omit some of the most influential discussions, by insiders, taking place person-to-person and in chat rooms. The paper also omits discussion of the influence of the Wikimedia Foundation, as an American institution responding to an American legal threat.
When Konieczny asserts the existence of a rising transnational "Net Generation", he's presented very little evidence. A skeptical or quietist Wikipedian might still conclude that the encyclopedia wasn't acting as an organ of democracy, but was briefly overrun by a Twitter trending topic. If Konieczny is right, we may see other internet-based communities also being pressed into service, or more permanent institutions being developed to serve this new community.
Full disclosure: I (NeilK) was intimately involved with the SOPA Strike movement on Wikipedia, as a technologist on the WMF staff, and as a concerned Wikipedian who weighed in on the very forums analyzed in this paper, in favor of a blackout.
§ Assignment designed to convince students of Wikipedia's "fundamental untrustworthiness" achieves the opposite
An article in Communications in Information Literacy reports on the outcome of a senior-level course at Duquesne University where students "created or modified a Wikipedia entry and tracked the modifications made by others to the entry, while they also explored the concept of the ‘wisdom of crowds’ in contrast to the ‘wisdom of experts’ through the course readings and discussions". The class also wrote a new article collectively (Paramount Film Exchange (Pittsburgh)), and engaged in various breaching experiments. E.g. "the instructor inserted a defamatory falsehood into the page of Luke Ravenstahl, the mayor of Pittsburgh at the time, and asked students to see how long it took the falsehood to disappear. Within five minutes, it was gone." One student created an article that "seeks to promote a specific company, Accord Curtains, and it is purposefully manipulative." Another student vandalized an article about an NFL player and "Not even 5 seconds later, I had a message from a Wikipedia policeman informing me about the repercussions of doing such a thing to a Wikipage... It really opened my eyes as to how incredible and powerful the internet is to society."
Students subsequently wrote papers answering the question "What are Wikipedia pages good for?". Two and a half years after the class, participants were asked what they had learned about Wikipedia from the assignment for their post-college life. Five of them responded (a rather small sample, a limitation admitted by the authors), largely sticking to the judgment they had expressed in their original papers, reporting that "they came into the class convinced that Wikipedia was an unreliable source but that learning about the creation and community editing of Wikipedia pages made the site more reliable to them."
In the paper's conclusion, the authors comment:
"The instructor came into the unit assuming that he would be ushering students into an epiphany: Wikipedia, a source they loved and relied upon and rarely questioned, was actually rife with junk information because anyone—even they—could change anything at will. ... How this failed! The students took away the pragmatic lesson that Wikipedia was generally reliable, almost always useful, and that its self-policing mechanisms were mostly effective, particularly when it came to popular or especially controversial pages."
Similar findings are reported in an unrelated case study, titled "Attitude Changes When Using Wikipedia in Higher Education", which involved 23 students at Williams College, evaluating their "attitudes before and after participating in collaborative wiki assignments. Results from the study showed a statistically significant positive shift in attitudes [about Wikipedia and wikis in general] before and after using the wiki."
§Reasons for contributing: Ego vs. social norms in the US and South Korea
This study, roughly, asks why people are uploading (contributing) content to Wikipedia, comparing respondents from two culturally different countries, namely collectivist South Korea and the individualistic United States. It uses the usual convenience sample of college students (reached through an online survey). In a 2012 survey involving only Korean students (previous coverage: "Do social norms influence participation in Wikipedia?"), the authors had found that users might be motivated by the fact that "uploading content on Wikipedia is a socially desirable act".
In the present study, the authors test whether a number of factors are positively correlated with intent to upload content on Wikipedia, based on the psychological theories such as theory of planned behavior, situational theory of problem solving, and roles of ego involvement (which represents the self-concept of individuals), subjective norm (a person’s perception of the social pressure to perform or not to perform the behavior in question), and descriptive norm (beliefs about what is actually done by the majority of one’s social circles).
In total, the authors present nine hypotheses. Ego involvement is found to be highly significant, but not differentiating between two cultures, which the author interpret as an an indicator that globalization and the Internet are bridging the cultural gap, an interesting conclusion that deserves further discussion. The norms are found to be mostly irrelevant (only the descriptive norm is significant for the American sample group, and—contrary to the prior studies on Korean Internet users with regard to the subjective norm—neither is for the Korean one), as is the attitude on uploading behavior. Another possible explanation offered by the authors regarding the small difference between the two cultures concerns the individualistic values embedded in, or self-oriented nature of, Web 2.0 applications and social media, and the author repeat their proposition that it is likely due to globalizing factors (suggesting that the young Korean generation, despite living in a collectivist culture, is significantly affected by individualistic global media). Overall, the authors conclude that cultural differences play a relatively small role in explaining the differences in American and Korean attitudes towards uploading content to Wikipedia.
The study also reports on the interestingly low popularity of Wikipedia in South Korea: only about 50% of Korean students used Wikipedia, whereas almost 99% of American students did. The authors did propose some interesting explanations for this finding (such as a hypothesis that uploading content on Wikipedia might be regarded as a challenge to the established authority of traditional encyclopedias), but unfortunately they are not backed up with any significant evidence. Given South Korea's popular image as one of the most advanced countries when it comes to Internet use, the issue of Wikipedia's poor popularity there—as the authors note themselves—is one that is worth investigating in future studies.
§Undergraduates confused by references in Wikipedia articles
It is no surprise that students like to use Wikipedia. A paper in New Library World adds to the debate on the perceptions, motivations, and attitudes of students who use this site by asking the following research question: "How do undergraduates actually use Wikipedia and how does this resource influence their subsequent information-gathering?" The study used the usual convenience sample of 30 American undergraduates, who were given a topic (Internet privacy), directed to the corresponding page, and asked to draft a paper on that topic, using Wikipedia as their starting point. Of particular interest to us are the author's comments on Wikipedia's references. First, there's the (unfortunately, short and unjustified) comment that "it is common for Wikipedia articles to have two or more “Notes” and “References” sections, which [is] confusing". Second, that "following Wikipedia references were least preferred as next steps in the research process", about as likely as "going to the library catalog", and less so than "going to Google for more information," "accessing the library’s databases", or simply "returning to Wikipedia". When asked which Wikipedia references they would follow if they were to do so, there was a significant preference for the references cited first, regardless of their quality. A number of respondents expressed an opinion that first references are somehow "better", not realizing that Wikipedia footnotes are ordered simply by the order they appear in the article. Regarding their use of Wikipedia itself, "respondents overwhelmingly indicated that they used Wikipedia because it was easy to access" (similar to Google), thus displaying a marked preference for convenience, visibility and accessibility over authority and quality of the source or their bibliographies. The authors also note that while the students understand that, in theory, scholarly sources are the best (and better than Wikipedia), they are more interested in "reasonably good" than "accurate" information, either because of difficulties in accessing / interpreting the "most credible" sources, or perhaps because of their skepticism towards authority.
The author concludes that one of the best solutions is to involve students in the process of creation and editing of Wikipedia pages, though she sees that as a method to educate students about Wikipedia's imperfections, rather than as a way to improve Wikipedia's quality, a task she seems to regard as better suited for faculty and librarians. She also offers some worthwhile suggestions to "Wikipedia developers" regarding the goal of pursuing collaboration with academic libraries, by noting that "it may be worth for Wikipedia to develop a visualized ranking mechanism for its references"—an idea that is certainly worth discussing further.
ClueBot as a rebel among conquerors, followers and cowboys: There are four archetypes of Wikipedians on featured articles: Conqueror, Follower, Rebel, and Cowboy, according to the article "Measuring Creativity of Wikipedia Editors". The study investigated the quantity and rate of change of edits among editors over time, paying attention to their relative positions. The article describes the four personas of editors on the article Boston. A conqueror shows strong bursts of activity, sustains high volume over time, and is a first mover. A follower is a low volume, but still sustained, and positively correlated to a conqueror. A rebel—which hilariously they found ClueBot, the software, to be—is low volume, sustained, but negatively correlated to a conqueror. Lastly, a Cowboy is erratic with spikey contributions, and uncorrelated to other users.
This study is not very broad in terms of number or types of articles in question; only 79 articles were considered. And given the naming of their archetypes, clearly the authors aren't aware that Wikipedians have already transcended into classifying themselves by an entire ecosystem of WikiFauna.
Using Wikipedia to correct public misconceptions about Africa: An article titled "Wikipedia for Africanists", coauthored by Hans Muller, a Wikipedian in Residence at the African Studies Centre in Leiden (Netherlands), describes the usefulness of Wikipedia for that academic discipline: "Using Wikipedia, Africanists can benefit in two ways: as readers they can quickly obtain a sourced but non-academic outline of topics of interest, and as outreach writers, they can inform the public worldwide about recent insights and attempt to solve (the many) misunderstandings on African topics with unprecedented efficiency."
Geographic distribution of Wikimedia traffic: The Wikimedia Foundation's Oliver Keyespublished "a highly-aggregated dataset of readership data" of Wikipedia (representing an additional effort to exclude non-human traffic compared to previous data). Work is ongoing to create data visualizations.
"A visual editor for the Wiki Object Model" (German bachelor thesis adapting Wikipedia's VisualEditor to other wikis)
"Use and Perception of Wikipedia among Medical Students in a Nigerian University" From the abstract: "[In a survey with 60 respondents,] 91.7% of the medical students have used Wikipedia;... 50.9% of the students use Wikipedia to complement lecture notes, 43.6% for research project as well as to complete class assignment, 14% of them use it to modify content of articles; ... the challenges faced by the students are scantiness of information of some articles, unavailability of/inability to obtain articles on some topics from the site, and inaccuracy/unreliability of content of articles."
"Where Non-Science Majors Get Information about Science and How They Rate that Information" From the abstract: "We report on a study of 400 undergraduate non-majors students enrolled in introductory astronomy courses at the University of Arizona ... Overall, students reported getting information from a variety of online sources when looking up a topic for their own knowledge, including internet searches (71%), Wikipedia (46%), and online science sites (e.g. NASA) (45%). When asked where they got information for course assignments, most reported from assigned readings (82%) but a large percentage still reported getting information from online sources such as internet searches (60%), Wikipedia (30%) and online science sites (e.g. NASA) (20%). Overall, students rated professors/teachers and textbooks at the most reliable sources of scientific information and rated social media sites, blogs and Wikipedia as the least reliable sources of scientific information."
"Integration of multiple network views in Wikipedia" From the abstract: "[We analyze] the networks of editors interacting on Wikipedia pages. We propose the prediction of article quality as a task that allows us to quantify the informativeness of alternative network views. We present three fundamentally different views on the data that attempt to capture structural and temporal aspects of the edit networks."
"Experimental evaluation of learning performance for exploring the shortest paths in hyperlink network of Wikipedia" From the abstract: "...in three separate learning sessions of 20 minutes students read series of 62 sentences built by using 22 unique hyperlinks that form the eleven shortest paths and answered pre-test and post-test multiple-choice questionnaires about recall of sentences ... For experiment group (n=24) 62 sentences were chained in such an ordering that corresponds to traversing cumulatively a series of associative trails leading from concept Tourism in Malta to concept Euro coins of Malta along alternative parallel shortest paths in hyperlink network of Wikipedia category Malta. For control group (n=10) same sentences had randomized ordering. For both unique hyperlinks and consecutive pairs of hyperlinks experiment group reached higher degrees of recall than control group". (See also Wikipedia:Wiki Game)
"Educational exploration based on conceptual networks generated by students and Wikipedia linkage" (by the same author)
"Citations to Wikipedia in Canadian Law Journal and Law Review Articles"
"Advances in Wikipedia-based Interaction with Robots"
"Mining corpora of computer-mediated communication: Analysis of linguistic features in Wikipedia talk pages using machine learning methods"
"Identifying Featured Articles in Spanish Wikipedia" From the abstract: "...the first study to automatically assess information quality in Spanish Wikipedia, where Featured Articles identification is evaluated as a binary classification task. Two popular classification approaches like Naive Bayes and Support Vector Machine (SVM) are evaluated ..."
"Predicting the Popularity of Trending Articles in the Arabic Wikipedia Using Data Mining Techniques"
"Revision history: Translation trends in Wikipedia" From the abstract: "This paper uses Mossop's taxonomy of editing and revising procedures to explore a corpus of translated Wikipedia articles to determine how often transfer and language/style problems are present in these translations and assess how these problems are addressed."
^Michael Beißwenger, Harald Lüngen, Eliza Margaretha, Christian Pölitz: Mining corpora of computer-mediated communication: Analysis of linguistic features in Wikipedia talk pages using machine learning methods PDF, GitHub
^Lian Pohn, Edgardo Ferretti, and Marcelo Errecalde: "Identifying Featured Articles in Spanish Wikipedia" PDF
If you find this page on any site other than Wikipedia, you are viewing a mirror site. Be aware that the page may be outdated, and that the user this page belongs to may have no personal affiliation with any site other than Wikipedia itself. The original page is located at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Alvaro.