User talk:Jimbo Wales

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An atmosphere of distrust, spite, malice, incompetence and ideological censorship damaging the reputation of Wikipedia[edit]

The toxic atmosphere new editors and unregistered editors must navigate when making good faith edits has been very damaging to the reputation of the project. It has also been very difficult for even experienced editors who in good faith try to improve or add to certain articles that a regular editor demonstrates ownership, often for ideological reasons. They often tendentiously edit the article and immediately revert any edit they deem contrary to their cause. If the new or unregistered editor attempts to reinstate their edit they jump all over the new editor with threatening language about being blocked and often use uncivil behavior to bait the new editor so they can run off to ANI to make misleading claims. When they get to ANI the new and unregistered users face a high level of mistrust (no AGF there) and an awaiting lynch mob who just can't wait to pile on with abusive comments. The unfamiliar editor will face accusations by the article owner that are likely to be presented deceptively.

Juvenile concepts regarding perceived freedom of expression rights (not a repository of porn or sexually provocative images)[edit]

There are other issues that keep many from participating in the project. It is especially troubling when it concerns sexually provocative or degrading images unnecessarily kept on user pages despite pretty clear user page guidelines. The usual juvenile sounding crowd shows up decrying Wikipedia is not censored which is possibly an ideal of sorts but far from a realistic statement. There would be no Wikipedia if there was not some standards which in effect become a form of censorship. This same crowd has also been known to hound editors who strive to improve the encyclopedias reputation by asking for enforcement of existing guidelines. Many of those editors have been especially insulting to female editors which is very detrimental to encouraging more women to participate in the project. Many editors have strived to make the encyclopedia more user friendly and safer for children. I would not encourage the use of Wikipedia in K-12 schools at this time due to the foul language, unnecessary depictions of violence against women, sexually provocative images and general low regard civility among experienced editors and many admins. There is nothing gained for an encyclopedia to show actual images of women in bondage as it reflects violence against women. A simple drawing would be much more appropriate. There is a desire by some to have a free for all as they regard editing here as right. That is faulty thinking as it a privilege to edit here that can be rescinded at any time. If the pictures are still kept, I would offer a rating system that warns a viewer when an article contains graphics that are sexually provocative, depicting violence, nudity, etc.

Juvenile concepts regarding freedom to say anything "rights" on Wikipedia (NOT a forum)[edit]

There are many editors who enjoy demonstrating that "have a right to say whatever they want." They often use extremely offensive language for shock value and to get under a targeted editors skin. That reckless behavior out in public could result in a ticket for disorderly conduct and possibly a 72 hour psychological hold. It is amazing how tolerated it is in ANI and other community discussion. The juvenile behavior is lacking in any decorum and does little for maintaining some sense of order. It also makes for a toxic atmosphere that contributes to even more outlandish behavior. There is a group of self-identified juvenile acting males who seem to run together in their attacks on other editors. To be fair there have been many insults and biting comments from the feminist side as well but the juvenile behavior of some male editors is much more prevalent. Both sides have been going at it using derogatory remarks. The unnecessary use of derogatory language has produced a toxic culture war between the camps which is a reflection of modern western culture. The level of bullying and harassment that has been tolerated is hard to fathom for people who work in academics or other professional careers. It clearly allows the toxic atmosphere that has become so prevalent to continue and even grow. There needs to be drastic changes to change this atmosphere which brings out the worst in people.

Enforcement of civility severely lacking and removal of incompetent administrators[edit]

The elimination of the war culture is not possible but the enforcement of civility is through better training of admins and elimination of those admins who have not shown an ability to deal effectively with people. There are incompetent admins who create issues by not using sound judgment when enforcing the guidelines and thus misapply them. There are also admins who have taken a political position and cannot separate their admin duties from their own ideology. They are especially harmful to genuine open discourse and they add to the existing warring culture that is over taking Wikipedia. There are also admins who appear to have some personal issues or chemical dependencies who often are abusive to other editors. It would benefit the project to make it easier for WMF to issue a suspension pending review and recall of admins who have not effectively executed the obligations they assumed when they accepted the position.

Those pesky edit count stackers and (trolling rollbackers- trollbackers)[edit]

There are also many people with a great deal of knowledge who want to participate in the project but do not have the time to deal with the revert trolls who stack up edit counts by going around reverting with little knowledge of the material. They look at the editor and make sure it is not someone who could stand up to them and without exercising a great deal of thought they revert. The usual victims of the trollbackers are new editors and anyone who dares edit with an IP. The unregistered contributor is voraciously targeted as sock or someone editing logged out with no evidence but a paranoid culture against anyone who does not choose to join the club. They are usually given little in the way of assume good faith and to be damned to hades if they know anything about the project. The paranoid schizophrenic attitude towards new accounts and unregistered editors borders on a cult like atmosphere.

Ideologues pushing their propaganda through tendentious editing and task forces[edit]

Then there are the many ideologues who own an article and see Wikipedia as a means to push their propaganda to further their viewpoint of how they believe things should be. They often remove well documented additions that contradict their viewpoint and add their own viewpoint often laced with sources from blogs and politically oriented websites that clearly lack reliability. They often coordinate attacks by establishing a task force of like minded ideologues where they interact regularly and gain important allies in their quest to turn Wikipedia into a source that reflects their viewpoint in the best light.


The toxic editing atmosphere has been covered much in the past at Jimbo's page and some attempts have been made to improve the atmosphere but it still remains very dysfunctional. It is time harsher measures were put in place to deal with incompetent admins who are ineffective in executing the duties they agreed to when applying and accepting the position. The poisonous editing environment at Wikipedia has increasingly become the subject of articles in the media. The reputation of Wikipedia is being severely damaged by the lack of disciplined administrators. It has also caused many good administrators to leave the project due to the constant infighting and lack of civility especially at ANI. It is time some drastic measures be taken to improve the reputation of Wikipedia and encourage greater participation.


I am sure there will be some offended as their behavior has been highlighted and is being greatly discouraged by the article. Please leave your comments below. Be sure to practice civility and address the argument and refrain from personal attacks because that demonstrates your argument lacks merit. Mr. Wales your thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks, Very Respectfully (talk) 03:54, 28 February 2015 (UTC)

Please discuss ways Wikipedia can be improved. Leave the blame game and snark at ANI, it is my intention to find constructive ways to improve the project and ideas on how that can be accomplished. (talk) 13:27, 28 February 2015 (UTC)


Also see below: "#Solutions to problems". -Wikid77 (talk) 23:40, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

Please sign into your account. Tutelary (talk) 04:11, 2arize 8 February 2015 (UTC)

That's a great idea. Any reasonably intelligent high school junior can cherry pick the negatives and summarize the criticisms without any obligation to provide diffs or stand on an established record of trying to solve problems while building the encyclopedia. Maximum transparency. Then, we will talk. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 04:48, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
Hello Tutelary and thank you for your interest in improving Wikipedia. Also, thank you for taking the time to write all that you deserve a reply.
I agree people shouldn't use their user pages to store tons of major serious hardcore porn. That seems wrong. But it's hard to say for sure without an example because it would depend on the exact context and details of the particular case because one person's pornography is another person's art and lots of people have pictures on their USER pages and we don't want to go around policing everyones pictures that would be a drag. It's possible you're just getting all worked up about something that is really no big deal, I can't tell without looking at the context. Certainly, however, we don't want people using their Wikipedia pages as a place to store porn.
Similarly it's hard to understand what exactly you're talking in terms of mainspace and talk page edits without examples and details.
I'm sorry you had such a negative experience on Wikipedia and I promise to try to help you if I can but I'm just me. But I can't tell what you're talking about because we need specifics. Chrisrus (talk) 05:01, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
@Chrisrus: Tutelary didn't make the original post. --NeilN talk to me 05:05, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
I am starting to think that a lot of these long winded anonymous posts are from the same person. If you want to hide your identity then expect to have little influence here, full stop. Chillum 05:02, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
Given the talk about "porn" on user pages it's hard not to believe that this isn't the same IP that just went off on ANI last week about the same subject and got blocked for editing while logged out. Capeo (talk) 00:03, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Thanks for illustrating my point and providing specific examples. (talk) 05:08, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
Your post demonstrates an abundance of history here but where is that history? Everyone else here has their contributions visible to other users. Chillum 05:09, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
I agree for the most part with the anon. If he or she wishes to remain anonymous, I think we can deal with the points that s/he lays out. The obvious one that jumps out at me is that admins don't seem to feel the need to enforce the rules anymore - just pick and choose which rules to enforce and who to enforce them against. Of course, editing as an IP and having an account technically makes him/her a sock, so .... Smallbones(smalltalk) 05:16, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
The only thing that's obvious is side A will cry that admins are not enforcing the rules against side B and side B will cry that admins are not enforcing the rules against side A. --NeilN talk to me 05:22, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
I have never once had administrators rule in my favor, even when I'm following all the rules, and other users are harassing me relentlessly, breaking all kinds of policies. For example: [1]
Note that @Jimbo Wales: actually personally warned one of these users for personal attacks a month ago, threatening a block. Well, Dave Dial is still harassing away, with no action having been taken against him. I'm beginning to think the administrators here are all corrupt. TBSchemer (talk) 11:55, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
  • PER WP:SOCK/Editing While Logged Out:
There is no policy against editing while logged out. This happens for many reasons, including not noticing that the login session had expired, changing computers, going to a Wikipedia page directly from a link, and forgetting passwords. Editors who are not logged in must not actively try to deceive other editors, such as by directly saying that they do not have an account or by using the session for the inappropriate uses of alternate accounts listed earlier in this policy. To protect their privacy, editors who are editing while logged out are never required to disclose their usernames on-wiki. Please refrain from casting aspersions and demands unrelated to the argument. Thanks for the few comments that actually addressed the article. (talk) 05:35, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
Without specifics it is difficult to respond to your concerns. Perhaps if you provided diffs that showed this mistreatment it would help a lot. As it stands you are an anonymous person making vague complaints. Chillum 05:42, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
Please reread title and it is clear it is about an atmosphere not a specific complaint as those are addressed at ANI and this is not ANI. Your repeated requests are being ignored so there is no point in requesting them. Please stay on topic and if you have some constructive comments related to the atmosphere here please do so. Thanks. (talk) 06:21, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
The complaints partly echo the issues described in the Technology Review article most of you have probably seen,[2] partly pursue themes we've heard endlessly from the Gamergate and related conflicts, and generally touch on issues well known to regulars. And the saying is "comment on the edits not the editor". So I don't think the calls for diffs and identification are impressive. The problems are deep and complicated and meta: might be a better place to discuss them. I'll abstain from adding my own theories here, except general advice for newbies: if you 1) stay away from contentious topics at first (regulars get reverted in them too); 2) concentrate on adding new info to articles rather than getting into conflicts about removing stuff; and 3) avoid editorializing and include solid citations for everything you add, you probably won't get reverted. Unfortunately it takes some experience to know how to do these things. I don't think this is an improvement over the "old" Wikipedia. (talk) 06:36, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
"Distrust, Spite, Malice" - Is this a good example? BTW, the original poster should look at WP:SCRUTINY. --NeilN talk to me 13:48, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
  • While I have no doubt that the scenario you portray in your opening section has happened numerous times, I seriously disbelieve that it is as ubiquitous or universal experience as you are implying. My own personal experience as a noob was actually quite the opposite. Nyth63 14:01, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Unfortunately, we still do allow editing by unregistered IP accounts, as Wichita208... points out. It would be nice — and a real boon to the editing climate here — if we could do something about that as part of any substantial reform project. Carrite ((talk)) 17:56, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
..........that said, this looks like more of the same in terms of carping about the community standard for civility enforcement and complaint about blind reversion of IP editors — albeit without a single, solitary diff to illustrate the case. All of which is presented behind the cloak of an alternate account... Carrite (talk) 18:10, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
Not too sure about the gender wars stuff, but pretty much everything else this user has pointed out I can corroborate with firsthand experience over the years. The constant assumptions of bad faith on the part of admins, the extreme heavy handedness towards new users, the article ownership and users who seem to spend the majority of their time doing nothing but reverting, and involved admins who don't know how to recuse themselves from their duties when they involve subjects they're personally vested in--these are all attributes that are driving away potential contributors. As for sexually explicit imagery and the idea of Wikipedia for Kids, I don't agree with the censorship approach, but I do think a small warning about non-worksafe imagery might be helpful for both children and adults. More importantly though, random talk pages often have people swearing like sailors with no repercussions for acting incivil.
I think perhaps the biggest issue when it comes to admin misconduct is just how difficult it is to get any single admin desysopped. There just aren't powerful enough consequences for abuse. talk) 20:37, 28 February 2015 (UTC)

  • I shuttered with recognition at each of (talk)'s points. They have happened to me or I have seen them happen to others, and not always just to women. I love working in concert with others, brainstorming and forging something of value. There's a great sense of accomplishment when a good piece of work is done. However, I abhor confrontation and ad hominem attacks. The pillars and policies are always ignored by the nasty, leaving the non-aggressive with nowhere to go. Maybe my intestinal fortitude level is too low to try to participate in such a rough and tumble arena as Wikipedia. Thank you for your time, Wordreader (talk) 00:11, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Thank you for the few that came and added constructively and I do thank those who helped illustrate the point I am making by posting personal attacks and extreme distrust of IP's. It is unfortunate they failed to address the argument and how to actually improve Wikipedia. One editor suggested to ban IP's but without much reason other than they can hide behind a cloak. Some are upset when they cannot easily target someone with unwarranted attacks. That type of character assassination is what makes Wikipedia such an unwelcome place for many. It is that distrustful, assume no faith attitude that has poisoned the editing environment. The lack of decorum, rampant distrust and character assassination continue to erode the community standards. There are great guidelines covering behavior here at Wikipedia but they remain only platitudes because of the toxic vile flowing from so many regular editors who would have long ago sent packing in any professional environment.
In regards to Wordreader it is not about intestinal fortitude but about reasonable expectations. It is reasonable to expect the environment here would reflect a more professional and ordered editing atmosphere. It may be you have more sense and better things in life to do than to engage in unproductive go no where arguments. Some regular editors enjoy ripping other editors which is a sign of personal insecurity. Some enjoy cyber attacking others to boost their imaginary self importance. I am often reminded of the country song about the guy who is a real hero on the internet in his own mind. They have become very skilled in the art of cyber insults from spending many hours daily engaging in it and a new contributor is likely to be turned off from further editing. The question I ask is how do they help the community foster a conducive and welcoming environment for those who have come to add their expertise but whose own busy lives do not allow the time to address petty editors looking for another cyber smack down. It as if the inmates are running the asylum. (talk) 11:44, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Dear IP user, while I see truth in some of your points, I think it is important to realize that change on Wikipedias usually happens incrementally. Proposals are brought to the Village Pump, RfC are started, articles are continually undergoing revision. Because of its history, organization and culture, Wikipedia is not a place where drastic, website-wide, changes normally occur. You are proposing changing a culture which has grown and evolved over 14 years and that won't happen over the course of a few discussions. In fact, I don't even know how a group could accomplish your goal of changing a culture without shutting down completely and restarting from scratch which isn't going to happen.
  • For me, the most important factor is, Is Wikipedia culture getting "better" or getting "worse"? Most of my judgment comes from reading over old arbitration committee cases but it definitely seems to me that, compared to 10 years ago and considering its exponential growth, Wikipedia has a better, more equitable culture than it did. Policies have been created that addressed long-standing issues and that can serve to alleviate problems like conflicts of interest and maintaining neutral POV. Wikipedia is no doubt more bureaucratic than in its earliest days but rules and guidelines also help prevent abuses like you describe, even when they are not applied 100% of the time, 100% equally.
  • No culture is ideal or perfect and you clearly offer some suggestions where there is room for improvement. I think you should create a proposal that you think could bring about the changes you would like to see and post it at the Village Pump where you might find support and assistance. Liz Read! Talk! 18:41, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

As another IP editor, I wholeheartedly endorse the message here. I have no account here, never had and at this rate never will, and does a good job of explaining many of the reasons why. It's ridiculous the extent to which IP editors are denigrated on Wikipedia, in spite of WP:HUMAN. We get treated with suspicion when we know too much, and can't get anyone to listen at all if we don't. Go to the wrong forum to air your grievances, and you get called disruptive; correct the error and you're forum-shopping; get it right the first time and it's "please sign in to your account" which may very well not exist. And when you put in effort to detail a case of how you've been repeatedly personally attacked by an editor, you can rest assured that within half an hour an administrator will be along to summarily dismiss your complaint, argue that somehow you're the harasser, and make further personal attacks, snark at you further if you complain about it, and allege "battlefield attitude" on the basis of being upset about personal attacks and a failure to assume good faith. Absolutely unbelievable. (talk) 07:14, 2 March 2015 (UTC)

Re that last comment, I've had too many experiences of that kind to bother listing all of them, where assume good faith is chucked out the window, been slammed for NPA for simply criticizing someone's edits and stated motives, while being subjected to ANIs based on false and/or distorted claims, and also accused of "battlefield behaviour" when trying to combat ongoing POV on what is clearly an ideological agenda; it's so common in Wikipedia now it makes it not worth the bother to consider taking things to an AfD or RM or other procedure even when in need of doing; I'm so often the target to those who won't even read what I have to say but proceed to make false/conflated claims about me (often here on this page, also) that my patience is wearing thin....yet still am trying to fix the damage to various topics and titles and content caused by those who abuse guidelines from what they claim they say (when often they actually don't). Policy is abused too with "Verifiability" claimed to mean more than it does, and claimed to be more important than NPOV, which is is not. I completely sympathize with the energy the original poster here to lay out his case, and note the usual comments about it being too long to read; if you can't think, then don't read; and you shouldn't be writing an encyclopedia, much less trying to control it....Skookum1 (talk) 08:01, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

Solutions to problems[edit]

Also see above: "#Comments". -Wikid77 (talk) 23:40, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

As noted above, a massive rework of WP, as a "Wikipedia 2" might seem to be the fastest solution to the numerous problems of wp:ANI-dogpiles and dysfunctional admins not enforcing the rules fairly, but the danger would be likewise troublesome people warping the new rules with similar "creative interpretation" of policies. Recall when people complained about cyberbullying in WP, the replies included the self-righteous "sympathetic" remarks that no one has the right to tell bullies what they can or cannot do and hurt their sensitive feelings[!]. Hence, the best solutions would include a diverse set of actions, including the typical wp:SOFIXIT, where more people need to become admins and take control of the situations where the current leadership seems off-balance. -Wikid77 (talk) 23:40, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

Do you mean Citizendium? (talk) 00:30, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
Well, I suppose the Citizendium could be considered a form of "Wikipedia 2" (WP2), but I was thinking about a twin WMF project which allowed anonymous editors, with IP addresses, but with new rules such as trust-levels for long-term users, trusted IP users (such as restricted laboratory computers), judgment by randomized juries of users, or sanctions as demerits tacked to improper actions by any users, new or admin. On the WP2, a user blocked in WP might continue to edit, with a more-fair access to pages, based on a broader (or random-jury) judgment about the user's prior actions. Users could choose to leave WP access, in favor of WP2 access to pages, if they liked abiding by the new WP2 rules better. The implementation could be done by separate usernames for WP2 versus WP, at first, where the user agreed to follow the rules which each username granted. -Wikid77 (talk) 00:20, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
  • The solution to unregistered IP editors being treated like garbage is to eliminate unregistered IP editing. QED. Happy to help. Carrite (talk) 15:49, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
    • Disallowing IP editing can have the most catastrophic effect on Wikipedia. I suggets you read this. SD0001 (talk) 12:38, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
2005 Wikipedia (what Swartz was writing about) has very little relationship to the heavily footnoted 2015 Wikipedia. Requiring a basic sign-in of everyone isn't going to deter anyone from serious contribution. Carrite (talk) 17:10, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
Better idea, make EVERY edit an anonymous edit with no IP or username. That way information is purely information and the kind of frequent gerrymandering and circles of friendship would be broken. It is fairly obvious that some people are owning large sections of the encyclopedia and are damaging its reputation and credibility. Remove the egos, solve the problem permanently. (talk) 01:03, 7 March 2015 (UTC)

If you want to increase editor retention...[edit]

If you want to increase editor retention, I think a productive step toward doing that would be to encourage admins to apply policies equally to new users and long term users. Currently, there seems to be hesitation for administrators to enforce polices or block established users when they violate our polices. I suspect the reasons are related to longterm comradery (perhaps they’ve even shared a beer at some point) or else fear of retaliation from well connected users. --BoboMeowCat (talk) 16:34, 1 March 2015 (UTC)

It could be a simple cost/benefit calculation, BoboMeowCat...if I block Editor X for Infringement Z, would the benefit to the project outweigh the cost? If Editor X has been active for years and contributed a lot to Wikipedia, is preventing them from editing (because blocking is not a punishment, right?) preventing disruption or preventing constructive work on Wikipedia? With an unknown, new editor, it's unclear what their future holds on WP...if you look at the stats, the majority of new editors make 10 edits or less or edit very irregularly. If they are being disruptive, it's clearly of more benefit to the project to stop their disruption rather than bet on the chance that they will straighten out, change their ways and become a productive editor. But blocks usually escalate in length so most new editors who are not obvious vandals or spammers are given second chances.
I'm not saying this is how admins make these decisions or if this is how they should make these's just one way that admins, confronted with regular complaints of disruption and incivility might approach these decisions. I think the most important factor is that admins are not a homogeneous bunch and you will find a variety of approaches to the admin tasks at hand. This might seem to some like inconsistency but I think it is actually a benefit to the project as those with different attitudes balance each other out and appeals to blocks are typically evaluated by an uninvolved admin.Liz Read! Talk! 18:09, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
Liz, I agree that blocks should not be punitive, but they should serve to deter recurrent violation of our rules and polices. Recurrent violations of our rules and polices (by editors who are apparently exempted from them) disrupts the encyclopedia. Personally, I think if a long term contributor will only continue editing, if the rules are not uniformly applied to them, then the project is better off without them, even if they are good writers. There are likely plenty of good writers out there, but I suspect many of them are put off by the current battleground environment. --BoboMeowCat (talk) 21:10, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
As I've argued in the past on another IP - if anything, established editors should be held to a higher standard - because they are assumed to know better. The idea that certain people are "irreplaceable" and need to be retained is not only laughable, it's contradictory to the very notion of an "encyclopedia that anyone can edit". It's fine to say "competence is required", but if there's genuinely this core of editors (the way there sometimes appears to be) who believe "competence" (as defined by them) is really so rare, then Wikipedia is only paying lip service to its core defining attribute.
For what it's worth, since it has recently been fashionable to bemoan the gender imbalance among established editors - I am 110% sure that the gender balance among IP contributors is much closer to 50-50. Perhaps established editors should consider the possibility that the problem keeping women from registering isn't some systemic bias in article content or in explicitly stated policy, or even a systemic bias in how policy is applied, but a systemic bias in their conduct. Why would any reasonable woman voluntarily sign up for this mess, especially when one of the first pieces of advice they'll receive is to hide their identity to avoid harassment? Why should they feel welcome when the best attempts by supposedly "feminist" editors to welcome them are clearly patronizing (e.g. suggesting that their poor sensibilities are too fragile to deal with an encyclopedia that hosts an article on "Fucking Machines" and deems it to be of high quality)? (talk) 07:30, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
As for the idea that "blocks shouldn't be punitive" - absolutely farcical, at least if there is any intent to imply that everyone's on board with that idea. I have recently been shown new editors get indeffed for simple 3RR violations. Not only is the application of policy on Wikipedia hilariously inconsistent, there are multiple pieces of policy that explicitly advocate for inconsistent application (WP:IAR, WP:OTHERSTUFF, WP:POINT...). (talk) 07:34, 2 March 2015 (UTC)

The 'pedia would be better off if all editors would see each other as gender neutral, IMHO. GoodDay (talk) 14:04, 2 March 2015 (UTC)

Would the use of "he"/"she" to refer to fellow editors be forbidden? Martinevans123 (talk) 14:11, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
Getting into the habit of avoiding those terms would be helpful. GoodDay (talk) 14:16, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
Hmm. Not as if they're ever used in real life, are they. Jimbo needs to lose that hipster beard too. Martinevans123 (talk) 14:27, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
User:GoodDay, we speak English, perhaps you would like to explain how we go about not using gender specific nouns? Plus, if everyone simply understood that as a Germanic language that English words that refer to more than one gender or to non-gender specific groups/individual are by default using the male version. That's simply history and linguistics. I'm sorry it offends some people as being insulting to women, but it isn't intended that way nor is it actually offensive unless you take it that way.
It can be done. One simply does it. GoodDay (talk) 16:38, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
User:Liz are you saying with your "cost benefit analysis" that you seriously think it is O.K. for someone to be rude, condescending, biting, and a male chauvinist, and anti-semite (those editors know who I am talking about), and yet if they go around correcting grammar or fighting vandals, it's all good! for them to drive off other established or new editors. Ones that may in time become even better, but because we don't know we cant give them a chance? The problem is consistency. We don't (in the USA) decide "X person contributes a lot to society so we should give them a pass because if they are in jail/prison and their reputation is hurt, they will not be donating money to libraries and charities, but Y should get a worse punishment because they are 18 and we don't know yet how they will contribute if at all and we shouldn't take that chance". That's the real world equivalent of what you are saying is how some admins may be making decisions. It is wrong in the real world, it is wrong here. Now, I have heard of countries (Denmark?) that have a graduated form of fines for things like traffic tickets, the wealthy pay more than the poor for the same infraction. That I'd love to see in a Wikipedia version- Admins get more punishment because they have more resources to begin with, they can "afford" to pay more. And plus, as some one above mentioned- they should know better. Being an admin should be about showing the world our best face, if you want the "power" that comes with being an admin, then you can be courteous. I can't be courteous so I've never asked to be an admin. Other's should have that same consideration.Camelbinky (talk) 16:22, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
You're badly misinformed about how the justice system operates in the US. A convicted defendant's apparent value to society is often, if not always, taken into account when imposing sentences. This practice is not always a force for good—for example, it leads to substantial disparities in sentencing based on conscious or subconscious racial and societal prejudices, and leads to occasional one-off outrages like the case of the university professor who was initially thought to be too valuable to society to be jailed for sexual assault... but this practice is real, and a fundamental part of the US justice system (and, to my knowledge, part of many other Western justice systems). So your argument isn't off to a great start, even notwithstanding your egregious misrepresentation of Liz's point. MastCell Talk 18:18, 2 March 2015 (UTC)
User:MastCell you're badly misinformed between the difference of what happens in the justice system and what is legally and constitutionally allowed. Your examples are not only against the very letter of state laws but also unconstitutional on an equal protection clause case. I'm sorry you don't know the difference between judges who make egregious errors and what the US laws and constitution require. You are making wrong assumptions of what the sentencing phase of a trail consists of and what the purpose of its usefulness; it is about assessing the guilty's likelihood of reform and best way to serve society by punishing the offender correctly in the most efficient manner, it is not about assessing their role int he community and whether punishing them would hurt the community.Camelbinky (talk) 15:36, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
Camelbinky I guess you missed the part where I state
  • I'm not saying this is how admins make these decisions or if this is how they should make these's just one way that admins, confronted with regular complaints of disruption and incivility might approach these decisions.
I was offering a rationale that might go through an admin's mind (not all admins but an admin) when they are considering whether to institute a block, the length of a block or some other action. I don't think it is okay for any editor to flout policies regarding conduct and civility and expect special treatment. I was making an observation of why editors might be treated differently, not suggesting what should be done in the specific situations you describe. Liz Read! Talk! 18:43, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

I think some of the responses regarding value and cost/benefit might be misinterpreting what I’m suggesting. I’m not suggesting longterm contributors should be indeffed or banned when they break a policy such as WP:NPA or WP:3RR, rather just blocked for a day or two. I think the benefit of doing so outweighs the costs by discouraging repeat violations, which are disruptive.--BoboMeowCat (talk) 14:11, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

given that even short blocks of certain individuals lead to mega shitstorms on the various drama boards, I do not put much countenance in your cost/benefit disruption analysis at least in the short and medium term. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 18:21, 4 March 2015 (UTC)


Dear Mr. Wales: Please see Friends of gays should not be allowed to edit articles. It is marked as humor, but I really don't understand the title - Poe's law and all that. The article has been kept from deletion, but the title is patently offensive and unnecessary. The discussion page is headlined "This page contains material intended to be humorous. It should not be taken seriously or literally. In case you didn't see the nice little italicized note at the bottom of the page, and are coming here to rant about us all being homophobes, this page is intended to be humourous - it is satire, so laugh, dammit!" Do we really need this? I'm sure all of us have Gay friends, so therefore none of us should edit. With intent to have a kinder, gentler and more inclusive Wiki, I am, sincerely yours, Ellin Beltz (talk) 22:34, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

"I'm sure all of us have Gay friends, so therefore none of us should edit." - You took literally the complete opposite of the message being presented in that essay. And yes, it is definitely satire. The point of that piece is to both note that the angst over vandalism is overblown and to mock the "anonymous users should not be allowed to edit". And yes, a not insignificant percentage of vandalism on Wikimedia comes from people calling their friends gay. Because, lets face it, teenage boys are generally dumb. (Source: I used to be one). The piece is one giant reductio ad absurdum that argues against unnecessarily limiting certain groups (specifically: anons) from being able to edit. Resolute 23:00, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

The title is the problem, not the essay honey. You didn't read Poe's law page, or you would understand that yes - readers of that title will literally take your message to heart whether you think it is humorous or not. I'm not suggesting the essay be removed but only that the title be changed to something which encourages editor retention, not discourages it. Alternate titles have previously been suggested on the discussion page. I'm seeing all kinds of "why can't we keep women" arguments above; I'm asking for "why can't we stop being so insulting to everyone - not just women or gays"? Ellin Beltz (talk) 16:15, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

I think the only people that page is insulting are homophobes. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 23:18, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
Anyone who takes the title of the "article" as literal, probably doesn't have the capacity to be a productive contributor .-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 19:18, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
And anyone who can't see the offensiveness of the article title is the problem, not the fact of taking it literal or not, doesnt have the capacity to be a productive contributor to this discussion. Seriously though- if it can be considered offensive remove it. It doesn't harm Wikipedia to remove it. It can though cause some to leave. No one is going to leave Wikipedia because we change it FROM an offensive name. But we might lose some if we do. Why, oh why, are Wikipedians so intent to leave things just because we can. When did we become such idiots?Camelbinky (talk) 20:57, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
I must admit I agree with @TheRedPenOfDoom: here. I don't find the article title offensive - it's referring to a section of the article and it's satire.--5 albert square (talk) 21:49, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
Note that someone has since moved the page to "Vandals should not edit articles", which seems a bit...obvious. No corresponding changes were made to the page text. Nikkimaria (talk) 00:54, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

Oh jeez, I saw that page years ago, it didn't seem offensive, except possibly by indirectly disparaging homophobes as as Red Pen says. It posited an AGF interpretation of a bunch of edits that less welcoming Wikipedians might treat as vandalism appealing to benighted homophobic attitudes, and saw them instead as over-effusive affectionate tributes to the contributors' gay friends. Pagemoving it seems almost homophobic in its own right. (talk) 01:56, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

  • Just want to leave this here for everyone who read that seriously m:Stupidity of the reader.--AldNonUcallin?☎ 02:53, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Almost forgot, also this Wikipedia:Ignore Meta. Thank you.--AldNonUcallin?☎ 03:08, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Thank you unhappy editor for just proving pretty much exactly why editor retention has become an issue. When the question comes up "why can't we retain __(female, black, Martian)__ editors?"? one needs look no further than here, where a serious request for a Kinder Gentler Page Title resulted in me being called "stupid" and a remark that "the only people that page is insulting are homophobes". Being neither stupid nor homophobic I remember that people who make pointy accusations against others have one finger forward and three pointing back at themselves. Ellin Beltz (talk) 04:04, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Disagree with Ellin Beltz's premises. Humorous pages without a "Poe" type of flag in the page title, for instance such pages created by Bishonen (& associated aliases), illustrate they're an excellent tool for editor retention in the minority groups alluded to above. So keep m:Friends of gays should not be allowed to edit articles where it is, thanks very much. --Francis Schonken (talk) 15:10, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Sharyl Attkisson sums up the problem at Wikipedia in recent TedX[edit]

Hi there Jimbo and all, I thought you might be interested in this little clip.

Sharyl Attkisson calls out WP specifically (@ 4:00). While I think her investigation into Wikipedia could have been much deeper, as her examples weren't the best, she does speak to the crux of the problem here as I see it. It is, at the very least, the best explanation of what drove me away from WP (that, and the revenge editing - a result of my attempts to bring this very activity to light).

I know we've had discussions about WP being used by special interests, and from what I experienced, months and years of talk page activity has done nothing to curtail the problem. I left because I do not see the problem reversing. It's actually getting worse. Editors whom I respect, who are still here, have simply found the small corners of WP that aren't battle grounds, and have stayed there. petrarchan47tc 23:08, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

It's totally aggravating, I just finished editing on this Acharya S's Talk page for an article, which only Administrators can edit. Raquel Baranow (talk) 23:22, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
see User_talk:Jimbo_Wales/Archive_182#Journalist_Sharyl_Attkisson_criticizes_Wikipedia -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 23:26, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
If WP continues to deny that there is a problem here, obviously it will never change. Outside of this bubble, people are well aware that some categories of WP are little more than thinly-veiled ads, and from what I am hearing, distrust the entire site. I saw some crazy activity in the GMO and pharmaceutical articles, but had never heard of astroturfing until this video. It summarized for me why my experience here was so maddening. There is purportedly a great concern about why female editors are in short supply, so take this as a single case study, if nothing more. This female x-editor left because Wikipedia is overrun with the activity described in the video as astroturfing, FWIW. petrarchan47tc 23:54, 3 March 2015 (UTC)
"don't believe everything you read on the web". Not very shocking. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 04:02, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
Sharyl mentions you here TRPoD. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 16:34, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
I have made the pages of wikipediocracy - I can now die with my bucket list complete! -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 23:10, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
Petrarchan, I think we're on the same page that what went on with BP's public-relations department writing copy for our articles on their oil spill was a disgrace. And I think you're absolutely wise to treat anything you read on Wikipedia with a default attitude of skepticism. I'd only suggest that you apply the same default level of skepticism to pretty much anything that Sharyl Attkisson says. In terms of actual harm caused by propagating misinformation and ignorance, the anti-vaccine movement (of which Attkisson is either a charter member or fellow traveler, depending on your viewpoint) has a huge leg up on Wikipedia at the moment. MastCell Talk 17:18, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
Hi, MC. I am not referring to 'my' skepticism. I do not read WP anymore. I am speaking of people I have run into since leaving WP, ie, "outside of this bubble". I left with the intention (since I was unable to change things here) of warning others about this site given what I have witnessed. In these 9 months or so, I haven't had to school even one solitary individual - everyone I have run into IRL or online already knows. (Even today I watched a video where someone referred to WP and added the caveat "I don't recommend WP, but..." and then quoted some meaningless stat.) It doesn't matter what Sharryl is about, it in no way changes that fact that WP is a victim of massive spin-doctoring by special interests. And it has simply ruined Wikipedia as a trusted source, regardless of what Google, or the echo chamber here, declares. To shoot the messenger with ad hominems, and to see RPoDoom pipe in when they clearly have a history with Sharryl, is quite disheartening. The capacity for self-evaluation here appears close to nil. If three people tell you that you have a tail, it is best to turn around and have a look. petrarchan47tc 20:20, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
Given the content in the section below about Google depending upon Wikipedia as a source of "truth", is it time for Wikipedia to start a public education campaign to reframe how the public views the stuff we provide ? -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 17:56, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
I liked this comment: "There is an entire industry built around it in Washington".... perhaps start there.... —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 23:01, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for sharing the TedX video and the pointer to the previous discussion of it here. I don't understand why we are not taking what she said more seriously. I noticed a number of responses in both discussions include a heavy use of ad hominems attacking the presenter (Sharyl Attkisson) rather than the material presented. In the first round she was called a "conspiracy theorist", "charlatan", "crank" and suggestions she is "stupid". TedX presenters like her, were called "flaky". Many people identified her as "anti-vaccine", but in fact, that is not true, as is made clear on her talk page:
Other than the conjecture of biased and/or conflicted editors, there is no evidence that Attkisson has any anti-vaccine views at all. The term "anti-vaccine" is an agreed-upon propagandist phrase which the vaccine industry and its surrogates apply to anyone who examines vaccine safety, in an attempt to halt independent investigation of vaccine safety scientific questions. It's as inflammatory and misleading of a label as calling someone who is "pro-choice" -- "pro-murder." Merely reporting on vaccine safety issues -- even if the pharmaceutical industry and its surrogates don't like it-- is no more "anti-vaccine" than reporting on Firestone tire safety issues is "anti-tire," or reporting on Congressional corruption is "anti-Congress," or reporting on a dangerous drug is "anti-medicine," or reporting on a charity scandal is "anti-charity." In fact, one could easily make the argument that reporting which results in discussions regarding make vaccines safer is in fact pro vaccine, not anti vaccine. source
I reviewed the article that was used by a seconary source to prove she is "anti-vaccine": here It looks to me like balanced reporting (NPOV). One of the users most engaged to force the "anti-vaccine" label on her page was the first to dismiss what she said with ad hominem attacks.
These ad hominems are particularly interesting because, this is exactly what she points to as the warning signs one is being sold a bill of goods:
  • use of inflammatory language such as: "crank", "quack", "nutty", "paranoid", "pseudo" and "conspiracy" to marginalize any critic, so they are not worth listening to.
  • Astroturfers say they will "debunk myths", which are not myths at all.
  • attacking the people, personalities and organization surrounding the "myth" rather than the facts of what the person or organization says.
  • all skepticism is focused on those exposing wrong-doing (the whistleblowers) rather than the wrong-doers. Instead of questioning authority, they question those who question authority.
If criticism of industry is white-washed with company PR materials, as happened with BP, shouldn't we be concerned? Here we are seeing yet more complaints of this same problem from another outside reporter. I too have seen this same problem with all the GMO articles, where labels like WP:Fringe, "activist", "agenda", etc. are used to keep the views of GMO critics from getting NPOV treatment in the articles--even the controversy aricle. If this is allowed to continue unchecked, the credibility of Wikipedia--for presenting materials in an NPOV manner without undue influence from industry PR--is going to plumet.
I do have a question for Mastcell in particular. You were one of the users who were most understanding of this serious problem with the BP issue. You said:
The real question is whether those rules [COI] make sense if we aspire to be a serious, respectable reference work. Do you think it's OK for a company's PR staff to play a substantial role in drafting our coverage of that company? A role which is entirely undisclosed to the casual reader? If so, then we're setting ourselves outside the boundaries that have normally defined credible, reputable reference works. MastCell Talk 23:18, 27 March 2013 (UTC) source
If a reference work routinely allows a company's PR staff to play a substantial and undisclosed (to the casual reader) role in developing coverage of that company, I'd be very hesitant to extend credibility to that reference work. That approach violates every basic precept governing how serious, reputable reference works handle conflicts of interest. I understand your point about OTRS, but I also think there's a practical difference between a small company which finds itself vilified on Wikipedia, versus BP which has a public-relations budget of $5 million per week ([18]). In the latter case, I don't think we can reasonably rely on a handful of pseudonymous volunteers to vet the material produced by a massive, dedicated, well-funded professional PR operation. And while I don't think the mainstream press or the world at large cares a whit about various internal Wikipedia machinations and politics, I do think that it will look very bad for this project if/when the mainstream press (as opposed to, as you rightly point out, a handful of people with axes to grind) gets ahold of this. If we seriously expect to defend our practices by saying that we relied on a handful of pseudonymous volunteers to vet material provided by BP's public-relations department, and that we didn't disclose BP's role in drafting the content to the casual reader, then I think we're going to take a pretty big, and well-deserved, hit in terms of credibility. MastCell Talk 16:44, 28 March 2013 (UTC) source
Now Atkinson is saying the same thing about Big Pharma that Violet Blue said about the oil companies--PR people determining content either up front or surrepiticiously . I don't understand why you are not just as concerned about these COI problems that are happening with pharmaceuticals, and are now an equally big problem with GMO articles which lack of NPOV.
I hope we can all take seriously the continuing and expaning problem of industry PR and work together to address the problem before we lose even more honest unpaid editors and the public starts to lose confidence in Wikipedia for failing to keep this COI behavior in check.David Tornheim (talk) 00:58, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
So after canvassing Petrarchan, Viriditas, and others to try to whip up support to add POV content to the articles about GMOs (and this thread appears to have stemmed directly from that) you are now continuing your campaigning in classic ax-grindy form on Jimbo's Talk page and following Petrarchan in using this page to accuse me and others of COI in the GMO articles. And hanging your hat on an anti-vaxer. OK then. Jytdog (talk) 03:20, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
something else... you have argued that we must give more voice to folks like Jeffery Smith... And you had some questions for MastCell above... Well here are MastCell's edits to the Jeffrey Smith article. Now MastCell may well have changed views on what reliable sources have to say about Smith since then.... but you are just making a mess of things, acting this way. It is sad to see. Please put away your activist hat and your strong views on GMOs when you login, and become a Wikipedian when you are here. Read what the reliable sources say and deal with them, as you finally did on "substantial equivalence". Please. Jytdog (talk) 03:40, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
Anyone can see that what he did was not canvassing. You have to allow less experienced editors to reach out for help in some way. Instead you have allowed him only to speak with you, or the gang at GMO talk pages. Anyone can see that what David has proposed is far from POV, or meant to cause trouble. You make big drama so that the actual content of articles is a long forgotten topic. But you aren't being perfectly truthful in representing the scene. You might have mentioned that David's request to hear more from Smith is on the "GMO Controversy" page, ffs. You have a record online of supporting Monsanto in comments sections before beginning here, and have been called out by a handful as a "Monsanto shill". You have a clear history of supporting GMO's, which is POV. You should not be editing those articles, let alone totally controlling them. It's the opposite of how WP is supposed to operate. I'm not sure how this is allowed to continue, except that you may be good at driving people off. :) petrarchan47tc 05:43, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
Not responding to this, except to say a) what David did was unambiguously canvassing and it is good that he stopped; b) I have no idea what you are talking about with my having "a record online of supporting Monsanto in comments sections before beginning here"; c) that sounds a lot like "opposition research" in violation of the OUTING policy (and to reaching false conclusions in any case); and d) your suspicions about me, and your personal attacks on me, have gotten you no where after all this time, but unhappy and burnt out. I still feel bad for you - it sucks to carry poison like that around. But that is your choice. I won't be responding here further. Jytdog (talk) 14:00, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

I always worry about anyone who cites autism and vaccines as "a medicine and a harmful side effect". It is quite correct that big business and other vested interests, especially in America, perform amazing gyrations to influence public and legislative (and even judicial) opinion. As well as big pharma an big oil, the media companies, and our tech "friends" Google, Microsoft, Apple, and content companies such as Disney, Sony et al. with their immense spending power have an serious hold on opinion. The increase in copyright term, the assault on the FCC, and even the battles between MRAA and Google, bear witness to that. However there is little new in this TeDX talk, and Attkisson gets Wikipedia pretty much wrong:

  • "sometimes in a matter of seconds you will find your edit is reversed" <nods sagely> well precisely. Probably because, like the very people Atikisson is castigating, it is a medical article, footnoted to a peer-reviewed study. But not, as WP:MEDRS would prefer, a review. This is no better than the typical bottom of blog comment "I put something on Wikipedia and those callous bastards deleted it." "What was it?" "A page about my band." well, yes....
  • Misstates the Roth affair. An anonymous IP edited the Human Stain article stating "I have removed the reference to Anatole Broyard, at Philip Roth's insistence. I am his biographer." Attkisson states that it was Roth. The IP (who also has, and had at the time, a registered account) made two anonymous attempts to remove the suggestion, with no talk page messages, no discussion (other than edit summaries). Attkisson describes this as "However hard he tried .. they kept reverting the edits back to the false information" She then goes on to say "when Roth finally reached a person at Wikipedia which was no easy task" - well again it wasn't Roth but Bailey, and it's pretty easy to contact "a person at Wikipedia" (which in this case was a nameless admin). There's a link to "Community portal" on every page, there's a talk page for every article, and for every admin, there's noticeboard, and email-user, and of course OTRS. What is more Roth doesn't ever say it was difficult, all he says he says is "through an official interlocutor, I recently petitioned Wikipedia..." - that's it. Yet Attkisson extracts the "no easy task" from that - perhaps she is just embellishing or perhaps she didn't research the subject...
  • "A few weeks later there was a huge scandal when Wikipedia officials were caught offering a a PR service that skewed and edit[sic] information on behalf of paid[sic] and publicity seeking clients in utter opposition to Wikipeida's supposed policies." Unless I missed scandal, it was well over a year later, it was one official, it was never established that information was skewed, and unless it was, it was not in opposition to our policies. Note the embellishment "supposed".
  • Then the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association rears its head. I won't go into the faults with the study, Doc James and others have already done that far better than I could, and the response in the journal in question pretty much decimates the study. It is strange that now we are on Attkisson's home (astro)turf, medicine, she still only presents what she wants us to hear. Obviously she has learned the art of spin. It might, perhaps, amuse those that heard her talk that the author of this "study" says in an interview "speak with your physician" - according to Attkissson, a sure sign of a Big Pharma shill.

All the best: Rich Farmbrough04:35, 6 March 2015 (UTC).

Google deciding truth[edit]

"A team of computer scientists at Google has proposed a way to rank search results not by how popular Web pages are, but by their factual accuracy."

Facts are true, and myths are fiction. A datum can be either true or false.
Wavelength (talk) 00:37, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

I wonder if we'd be better off comparing the rest of the Internet to Wikipedia, or Wikipedia to the rest of the Internet. Of course, Wikipedia's score will be artificially inflated in any event by all the mirror sites that reprint everything we publish, including all of the good encyclopedic content, but also all of the BLP violations and the nonsense and the hoaxes. (I just deleted a self-evident hoax this morning that had lingered for nine and one-half years, for God's sake.) Newyorkbrad (talk) 00:54, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes, indeed you did. More on that story a bit later.StaniStani 01:10, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
Doesn't that depend on whether you're the sort of person who wants to set the bar high for the "encyclopedia that anyone can edit" or set it low? Should it really matter for us that the rest of the internet is crap? Let me rephrase you. I wonder if we'd be better off (actually not sure what that means - better of how and for whom?) comparing academic Encyclopedias and scholarly work to Wikipedia, or Wikipedia to the the rest of the Internet? Do we want to be the best of online "collection of facts and rumors" sites or do we actually have an aspiration to be ... an encyclopedia? Short term, given our advantages, we can compete with similar sites on the Internet. Long term we'll lose, editor decline and all. Short term, we are a bit of an embarrassment (at least in some areas) compared to professional publications. Long term the only viable strategy might be to move that way.Volunteer Marek (talk) 01:30, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict) WP is arguably the most successful puff piece ever. That what we say here might be taken as some sort of "truth" is a big problem for me because it becomes self-perpetuating despite WP:VNT and, obviously, has long been evident through mirrors etc. We might proclaim VNT but the mirrors etc do not repeat that in any obvious manner. Most of our content is at best ill-informed and is not infrequently, plain crap. I live in hope but, alas, a declining hope. That said, what Google choose to do is their business. I'd like to think that they would have more sense but, hey, since when has that been a feature of big business and personal aggrandisement? We could at least change the trend by binning 90 per cent or so of the content: it is, really, not so much encyclopaedic as fancruft in its many variant forms. - Sitush (talk) 02:47, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

Just to spell out what I think I'm reading - is the following true?

  • "Basically, to evaluate a stated fact, you only need two things: the fact and a reference work to compare it to. Google already has the beginnings of that reference work, in the form of its Knowledge Graph"
  • "Google culls those details largely from services like Freebase, Wikipedia and the CIA World Factbook;" and maybe a few others
  • So Wikipedia and the CIA are the sources of the ultimate reference? We're writing the ultimate "book of truth"??
  • That's pretty scary if I'm reading this correctly.

Smallbones(smalltalk) 02:43, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

According to the article in The Washington Post, (1) your first point is true, but (2) your second point is misleading, because the preposition like introduces examples and is similar to e.g. (sometimes confused with i.e.). The addendum and maybe a few others confuses a selected subset of examples from a set with the complete set. (Compare MOS:SUBSET.) (3) To each one of the two parts of your third point, I answer "No". (4) I have no comment (except this one) about your fourth point.
Wavelength (talk) 03:48, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
For a long time Wikipedia and Google have been both collaborators and competitors. Wikipedia is essentially a human-optimized search engine that should be meant to link you rapidly and easily to the most relevant primary and secondary sources about something you're interested in. Google does most of Wikipedia's promotion because Wikipedia is so dang useful. Things like Knowledge Graph are useful innovations, but they could be rivalled by more work at our end (for example, someday someone ought to make a proper Q-and-A index of all the Refdesk archives). What's disturbing though is that if Google and its customers become satisfied enough with its AI toy, then they'll be asking "Google" on their phone what the mass of Mars is rather than going to Wikipedia and reading Mars and possibly becoming editors if they dig deep for the most up to date figures, which could impact us long-term. The possible harm from Google acting as monopoly is unrestricted: yes, they may promote wrong "facts", but the more obvious risk is that someday, after they finish merging with a few dozen more companies, you simply wake up and they're charging $30 a month to use ... just about anything you use on the Internet. Or, more likely, they start charging in privacy, by only handing out their information to identified users of Google Wallet or something, and get paid by the back door by the NSA and its fellow agencies around the world. To the degree that Wikipedia acts as a genuine competitor we help to reduce the risk of such scenarios. Wnt (talk) 13:42, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
User:Wnt I love you buddy, but you should have stopped about a sentence or two earlier. :) Camelbinky (talk) 15:06, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
Dagnabbit! I just knew the NSA would be to blame for all this nonsense. Martinevans123 (talk) 15:15, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
They are...the five hundred dollar hammers and seven hundred dollar toilet seats is how they laundry money which goes to Google and others to erect multibillion dollar data centers...and everyone thought those data centers were paid by advertising 15:25, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
With ready access to inside information from every company, industry, and central bank board in the world, the only thing limiting NSA's revenue is its ethics. Wnt (talk) 15:55, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, you had me cheering until the penultimate sentence. Short Brigade Harvester Boris (talk) 15:30, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
Doesn't anybody read the news at all? Admittedly, even three different programs paying several hundred million yearly apiece wouldn't equal the revenue of a significant monthly fee... but that's only what's been leaked! And if Google had hard identity data on all its streams obviously they could expect a bigger cut. Wnt (talk) 15:53, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
I could easily come up with plenty of articles that would fail a truth test. But, I know better then to do so. GoodDay (talk) 17:10, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I came across this article and I was glad it was written by a high school student. People are not idiots about the internet (including Wikipedia) nor are they idiots about news. "How can journalists and bloggers avoid falling into these traps? The answer seems easy enough: Do more research (or at least run a few Google searches) before publishing a post." [[3]. Alanscottwalker (talk) 18:02, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I think some people are overestimating a bit how much Wikipedia is in use by the knowledge graph, it's a source, and for a very long time it used to be the biggest and most important source that was the most visible. But, over the past 4 years or so, google has been adding and scraping hundreds if not thousands of such source databases. If anything, I think they are becoming less and less reliant on Wikipedia, which is a good thing (for them). Latest example of their work: Google measles, and you get a fresh new information box about the disease, with a cartoon, symptoms, diagnostic and treatment information. Sourced from reputable medical sources. We are becoming less relevant by the day. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 22:53, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
For those geolocated outside the US this Google search shows you what the DJ is describing. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 09:04, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
@TheDJ, I think WP will always be extremely relevant in searches because of what User:Wnt noted above, "Wikipedia is essentially a human-optimized search engine". Although many simple, or direct, questions could be answered by Google medical facts or similar, a major advantage of WP is the abundance of optimized disambiguation pages, as related terms "in a nutshell". Consider how the page "The Sound of Music (disambiguation)" quickly includes the company formerly named "Sound of Music" now named "Best Buy" among many facts related to the term. A Google Search rarely includes that level of condensed, cross-related data. -Wikid77 (talk) 23:54, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

My understanding is that Google has decided to penalize their search listing rank of sites which are known to be spreading disinformation, and increase the ranking of sites which have a reputation for reliability. I wholeheartedly endorse this and I hope they start with politically biased news sites. EllenCT (talk) 17:28, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

"When Gauss, Bolyai and Lobatchevsky 'discovered' hyperbolic geometry, what they did was to explore the consequences of this axiom. They found that, far from leading to a quick contradiction, it led to a beautiful body of theorems, different from those of Euclidean geometry and somewhat counterintuitive, but consistent with each other." (paragraph 3) If there were to be a huge increase in public interest in non-Euclidean geometry and consequently a huge increase in the number of websites discussing it, there could be a situation where it validates itself and invalidates Euclidean geometry.
Wavelength (talk) 19:10, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
I don't know whether you intended to reply to me or someone else, but Euclidian and non-Euclidean geometry don't contradict each other, they're just alternatives with their own legitimacy, just like color and black and white photography. If you are suggesting that automating search rank adjustments by reputation might penalize them, I think you're mistaken, but I suppose only time will tell. From what I've read about Google's approach, they are targeting specific topics where misinformation causes harm, disruption, mob action, prejudice, or economic disadvantage, and on each such topics trying to identify sites which should either be more visible or less visible in results for searches on those topics. Geometry is unlikely to show up in that list. Vaccination already does. I hope supply-side trickle-down austerity advocacy gets the axe. EllenCT (talk) 23:13, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
I did intend to reply to you, and I indented my reply with two colons in response to your reply (which should have been indented with one colon, if it was intended as a reply to my original post). (Please see WP:INDENT and WP:THREAD.) If an algorithm used by Google considers online text at face value and out of context, then it would probably find the two types of geometry to be mutually contradictory. (Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Geometry)
Wavelength (talk) 23:55, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
If the Google KBT algorithm finds that one of two valid but contradictory (because of different premises) statements is in error, that indicates a problem with extractors, not the statements themselves. See section 3.3.1 on page 5 here. This reflects the difference between first- and second order predicate calculus. If the easter bunny is white in one story but brown in another, that does not mean that one of the two stories is flawed. The lack of gold standards of truthfulness results in "semi-supervised learning," (i.e., a human being has to resolve some fraction of conflicts which confuse the system) even though the algorithm is sufficient to independently and conclusively determine that gossip and forum websites with high PageRank scores, such as Yahoo Answers, are inferior to Wikipedia (section 5.4.1 on page 11.) What do you do when a computer asks you to choose between the pessimism of existential angst or the optimism of logical positivist thought? EllenCT (talk) 05:38, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
Isn't any story about the Easter bunny technically flawed relative to truth? (talk) 02:55, 7 March 2015 (UTC)


The above thread concerning Google's new approach towards "truthiness" got me thinking... yea, I know, that's dangerous. But what I'm curious about is this- could the WMF form some sort of search engine that would help those that have questions but are not sure where to start? Right now to go to Wikipedia to look up some thing that you aren't sure of, you almost have to by default go to a search engine of your choice to find what you really want to look up on Wikipedia. How many time's I've not known an actor's name and had to first google (generic for check a search engine) something like "actor in Lincoln car commercial" to figure out oh yea it's Matthew McConahoweveryouspellit. Then of course I come to Wikipedia, read up on him, go to Netflix and put on a movie with him that I saw on his bio. I think out of Bing, Ask, Yahoo, et al that a Wikipedia based search engine would actually give Google a run for its money. A couple snazzy commercials touting "ad free" and "we respect your privacy" and "no data mining", some humorous, some with Mr. Wales talking to the camera being all sensitive to modern concerns about privacy; some with pointed jabs directly at Google. Then, all the free press of David up against Goliath. It's doable. I'd be the first to donate to the specific cause of setting it up. Pledge $2,000 right now. Save the diff.Camelbinky (talk) 20:18, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

I'd be happy enough if WMF could just give us a WYSIWYG article editor that works well. Carrite (talk) 21:57, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia doesn't auto-search synonyms as well: A major reason why Google or Bing (etc.) can better match searches is due to the matching of synonym words among a broader selection of related webpages. Currently, WP can somewhat find that "actor in Lincoln car commercial" but the word "commercial" should be replaced with synonym "spots" as being: wikisearch "actor in Lincoln car spots". It is very difficult for wikisearch to auto-search for synonym words, among many thousands of common terms and related words. Note that Google is running evermore "autofixing" of searches to match the more-likely, more-common topics, rather than search literally for text as typed by a user. It appears that Google is improving the underlying aspects of "associative retrieval" for the related data. The Google empire has gone beyond text-searches to run info-searches in a vast knowledge base of human-oriented data. -Wikid77 (talk) 23:18, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
Google's synonyms can be a hindrance as often as a help, and I remember times when efforts to rein in their machines seemed fruitless (like putting + first or using quotes). When search engines start assuming you're looking up the same thing as everybody else, you wonder who has access to the real search engine made for creative people to find new things. I would much more highly value the ability to exactly match search terms, including capitalization, punctuation, and all special characters! Wnt (talk) 01:17, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
You want "Search tools/All Results/Verbatim". Happy to help. EllenCT (talk) 05:45, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
Wnt, are you serious? Google fixed that problem like five years ago. Camelbinky, I support your idea 100%. I think it was Wnt or someone else who recommended using the REFDESK answers database to start. But what we really need is a different approach to searching altogether, that allows the search process itself to fall into the background as both visual, touch, and natural language queries dominate the interface to become more of an assisted learning engine for sharing and communicating knowledge, allowing users to create new knowledge by joining separate queries. For example, you should be able to view different layouts depending on what kind of information you want. If all you want is a cast list for a specific film, you shouldn't have to wade through an article or an infobox. And if you want to learn about the recently destroyed archaeological structures in Iraq, you should be able to pull that up easily without having to read extraneous information. On a scale between one and ten, the presentation of information on Wikipedia is a 1. There's a shitload of things to do but nobody is doing it. Viriditas (talk) 06:11, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
Such as giving a hoot about WP:NPOV instead of aiding and abetting it? The presentation of information on Wikipedia is NOT a "1" so long as senior editors seem to care more about surface/format/appearance than actual substance and the neutrality-of-content policy and attacking those who raise NPOV as a concern with quasi-psychiatric statements about "behavioural problems". Re that comment of yours, I'm not "unwell" and am doing the work on correcting NPOV that you have shrugged off and demanded that I only address conflated claims about page-cites first before any discussions about applying policy.
Point taken - I was thinking historically in expectation Wikipedia might make the same mistakes, but yes, things have much improved with the Google searches since then. Wnt (talk) 14:46, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
I'm not the only one who has made such observations i.e. about rank NPA against editors who wants NPOV and other serious matters about the integrity and neutrality of the encyclopedia, e.g. making psychiatric put-downs like yours, or attacking their writing style while refusing to actually read anything they say, and threatening them with public stonings at ANI if they persist in not submitting to the Nurse Ratchet routine, i.e. not doing as they are told by so-called "informal mediators", as you style yourself.
Accusing/insinuating "personal problems" and associating complaints on content with "conspiracy theories" are hallmarks of propaganda institutions against dissidents in China, Soviet Russia, Thailand and others...including the US security establishment, as per various recent news reports on "information war" in social media, which it is disingenuous to pretend that Wikipedia is immune from; in fact such problems/conduct are rife in Wikipedia, including from editors/admins who have presumed authority and regularly abuse and ignore guidelines and policy.
Until Wikipedia's so-called "community" makes more serious efforts to deal with NPOV and related COI problems, it isn't credible as the source it pretends to be; and WMF resources are already plenty over-drawn and in need of funding; the idea that Wikipedia would be better than google when it can't even control its policies about content is ludicrous.Skookum1 (talk) 06:48, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

The Signpost: 04 March 2015[edit]

Some bubble tea for you![edit]

Bubble Tea.png Sir , I am amazed that , you have a WP account CosmicEmperor (talk) 06:31, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Unnecessary length[edit]

I had originally written this for my subpage User:SD0001/Thoughts. I just had the idea to post it here, so that the issue can get some attention.

One of the fundamental problems of Wikipedia due to which new users are left uncomfortable is the tradition of user warnings and help pages that are a bit too long. The CSD nomination notice produced by Twinkle that is posted on the author's talk page is so long and laced with links that I'd gamble to say that 90% of new users don't understand a word of it. The one produced by the Page Curation tool is only a bit more concise. In order to understand the notice, a new user has to read it, follow the link to see what that word means, then reread the sentence and check whether it makes sense... Isn't this process too cumbersome? In my view, CSD nomination notices should contain basic information about why the article may possibly not meet Wikipedia's criteria for inclusion, tips on what is to be done; properly and briefly explained within the notice itself, so that the user does not click on all those links to understand the message.

Of course, this is just an example; CSD notices are not the only things that are needlessly lenghty. Messages issued by the DPL bot, even if there is just one disambiguation link to be repaired, are no less than 65-70 words long. Actually, what prompted me to write about this is the way the Page Curation tool sends feedback from new page patrollers to an article creator. The feedback that is written is disguised within a string of automatically generated text. When I used it for the first time, I wrote in the following message: Please provide additional references for verifying the contents of the article. But when I visited the talk page, I was surprised to see that the message that had been posted there was much longer. It began with, Hi, I'm SD0001. USER, thanks for creating ... ! I've just tagged the page, using our page curation tools, as having some issues to fix ... I wish to point out here that the one line of useful advice was mingled with four sentences of pointless crap. The user-written comment is not bolded, italicised, or otherwise emphasised in any manner to seperate it from the automatically generated text. I don't see any need to keep saying thank you over and over again, except perhaps at the end of the message. New users are hardly going to feel warm or welcome by such Thank you messages as they would know fully well that these are computer-generated. On the other hand, one line of pointed, constructive advice would leave them inspired and welcomed. Links should be provided only so that a user can use it to know more about the subject, and not to know the subject itself.

Talking of emphasis, the only thing that ever appears in bold in the multitude of user warnings we have is perhaps the phrase "blocked from editing". This reminds me of User:Essjay (yes, the same guy who was the subject of the Essjay controversy). Particularly here (his request for bureaucratship), Essjay makes long and detailed explanations, but what is remarkable is his way of highlighting important points by bolding it, and in one instance, by increasing the font size and italicising. All this enables the reader to quickly take in the gist of what is being said. Regrettably, the use of such emphasis in user warnings, project namespace information pages and help pages is done sparingly. Also, a large number of project namespace pages fail to make the subject clear in the initial sentences, even as there is too much of information creep. Oh yes, WP:LEAD applies only to articles.

In today's fast moving world, it is important that new editors understand the mechanisms that make Wikipedia, and blend in to the community, with minimum time and energy expenditure. Only when this is assured can any attempt at editor retention succeed. SD0001 (talk) 12:40, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Think Progress[edit]

The ‘Five Horsemen’ Of Wikipedia Paid The Price For Getting Between Trolls And Their Victims MarkBernstein (talk) 17:17, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

@MarkBernstein: I'm not going to remove this because, I'm 99.9999% this isnt the case. But are you sure if the editor mentioned in this article is ok with his real name being disclosed on Wikipedia? Have you checked with him? I can't imagine he would be against it being known given that he disclosed it to the press, but you can never tell. Bosstopher (talk) 17:36, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
Several Wikipedia editors (including myself) were interviewed for, and are quoted in, the article. I assume that, if any of them wished for their names or Wikipedia identities to be withheld, they would have requested this and the publication would have complied with their requests. MarkBernstein (talk) 18:00, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
Fair enough, just wanted to make 100% sure as technically this violates outing policy. Pretty intersting article tho.Bosstopher (talk) 18:06, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Heather Bresch[edit]

Not sure if you had any ongoing interest in the article, but thought I would let you and your watchlisters (many of whom previously participated) know that it's at ANI now. CorporateM (Talk) 17:31, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

I do have an ongoing interest and I apologize for not having been involved. I've just been very busy with the day job(s). :-)--Jimbo Wales (talk) 21:15, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Musical preferences of Jimbo Wales we will know soon[edit]

Hello Jimbo! What are your musical preferences? Article about you does not contain such information. Thank you! - (talk) 22:42, 6 March 2015 (UTC).

Well, it's too encyclopedic to actually be in his article, but off the record I'd still like to know. KonveyorBelt 22:50, 6 March 2015 (UTC)