Amazon.com has begun showing copies of Wikipedia pages on its site, each labeled "Shopping-enabled Wikipedia Page". One example appears to be based on the October 23 version of the main page, with most or all links redirecting back to Wikipedia. In the James Joyce page, however, most or all links stay on Amazon.com, and pages about books such as the copy of Ulysses (novel) contain a "See Buying Info" button near the page title. According to CNET, Wikipedia pages will eventually appear in all Amazon search results, and link to mirrored Wikipedia articles containing embedded links with items for sale on Amazon. The mirror complies with Wikipedia's terms with "Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, version 3.0 or any later version" at the foot of each page. Amazon spokeswoman Anya Waring told CNET "As of November, we have rolled [the feature] out in the books category; however, [it] will be expanding to new categories in 2011." CNET.com, Also at Zdnet
The Wikimedia Foundation's Deputy Director Erik Möller reacted to the news by stating: "We were not consulted, and are currently fully examining this. It is not official or endorsed by us". He later added:
We're concerned about the degree to which the Amazon.com pages resemble Wikipedia pages. The content use itself is clearly permitted, and we're not opposed to commercial use per se. On the contrary, free licenses encourage this kind of experimentation by anyone.
The potential issue with this kind of commercialization is that it creates confusion about the "Wikipedia" brand and what it stands for. Wikipedia is currently understood to be one of the few mainstream sources of information that isn't commercialized, and which aims to provide a neutral and inclusive view of any given topic. A third party adding single-vendor shopping ads into the content, while the way the content is presented closely resembles Wikipedia, threatens to undermine that perception, as Amazon.com visitors may assume that this is something that's part of our operating model.
Jimmy Wales interviewed by Al Jazeera
Last week, Jimmy Wales appeared from London on Al Jazeera's Morning Talk (حديث الصباح) program, giving a 19-minute interview (via a translator) with presenter Julnar Moussa (جلنار موسى). The interview was preceded by a two-minute clip that explained how Wikipedia works. Moussa gave congratulations for Wikipedia's 10th anniversary. Wales started off talking about how the Wikimedia Foundation is a non-profit charity, and the purpose of Wikipedia, as a free encyclopedia.
A major question discussed was "How do we assess reliability of the information?", both generally and when it comes to divisive and controversial topics, such as politics. Moussa cited the Jerusalem article where it says Jerusalem "is the capital of Israel, though not internationally recognized as such" as a specific example which she thought was biased towards the Israeli point-of-view. Wales explained how Wikipedia has the Neutral Point of View policy, that different points-of-view should be represented in an article, and that anyone can engage in discussion on the talk pages or get involved in editing. As for use by students, Wales explained that Wikipedia can be a starting-point for searching for information but not the end-point.
Moussa also asked "what about the other languages?" to which Jimmy Wales replied and explained Wikimedia's mission to provide free knowledge to all people in their own language. Wales discussed Wikimedia's interest in doing added outreach in the Middle East to bring in more editors to the Arabic Wikipedia. Replying to a question about WikiLeaks, Wales said there is no relation between them and Wikimedia. (Full interview on YouTube, posted on 25 November, Arabic-only)
"Why can't the rest of the Web be more like Wikipedia?"
On the Canadian "Search Engine" podcast, host Jesse Brown interviewed Joseph Reagle (author of the recent book on Wikipedia "Good Faith Collaboration"), asking him "Why can't we all be more like Wikipedia?". In the introduction to the 16-minute interview, Brown said: "Do you remember the time not so long ago, when Wikipedia was the punchline to many a bad late night talk show joke? ... An encyclopedia that anybody could alter at any time seemed ridiculous? ... You don't really hear those jokes a lot anymore. ... [Wikipedia] has been shown through a number of studies to be an incredibly accurate encyclopedia. For many of us, it is the de facto first stop for learning about something new. And the question these days about Wikipedia is no longer: 'How can that information be any good?', the question is: 'Why isn't the rest of the Internet more like that?' Apart from this question, Reagle was asked about topics from his book, explaining community norms such as neutral point of view and assume good faith, and about being harassed by members of Wikipedia Review (aggressive online comments which he explained by the endorsements his book had received from Sue Gardner and Jimmy Wales). Asked whether or not students should be allowed to cite Wikipedia, Reagle described a method he had used in his own courses, allowing students to cite from a set of Wikipedia articles that he had pre-vetted himself in specific versions. Coming back to the opening question, he cited from the concluding chapter of his book that there was no such thing as magic "wiki pixie dust" that would allow people to apply the wiki model to other arbitrary sites.
Wikipedia files: Chicago public radio station WBEZ recently resumed their "Wikipedia files" series, video interviews in which celebrities comment on the Wikipedia article about them. Former Canadian ice hockey player Bobby Hulldeclared the article about him to be "a bunch of bullshit", although only one error was specifically described (the claim that he had grown up on a dairy farm – like most of the article, it cited no references). Another episode last month (also featured on FOX News Chicago) found that in the article about local politician Todd Stroger, "most of the info is accurate".
Pre-election BLP assistance: In a blog post titled "Playing well with politicians on Wikipedia", Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, a member of the Foundation's advisory board, described how out of concern of possible "information warfare" before the US mid-term elections on November 2, he "approached some candidates and office holders and asked if they needed help on Wikipedia", in collaboration with volunteers from the OTRS team. Newmark considered it a success: "Sometimes, just having a conduit is enough to make people feel heard. It looks like that worked this year. People I know and trust tell me that the level of partisan arguments on Wikipedia was much reduced this year over election cycles past." Having joined the advisory board last year, Newmark had volunteered earlier to help BLP subjects (Signpost coverage: "Craigslist founder does customer service for Wikipedia"), and last month, the Foundation's Executive Director Sue Gardner said that he had approached her about the possibility to edit the article about himself without violating community norms (Signpost coverage: "Office hour: COI editing, interim general counsel").
Sue Gardner speaks with the BBC: Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Sue Gardner was interviewed by Lesley Curwen of BBC's World Service for the Business Daily segment. Gardner explained how Wikipedia spots vandalism on its pages, how the Wikimedia Foundation works, and about getting more women involved with editing Wikipedia. (video) (audio broadcast)
Wikipedian featured by Albany newspaper: User User:UpstateNYer, otherwise known as Matt Wade, was profiled by journalist Paul Grondahl in the Times Union newspaper of Albany, New York. We learn Matt's interest on Wikipedia is in the history of the Capital Region, but he is a mechanical engineer by profession. The article is based on an interview with him, however, he later pointed out: "I did not come up with the term 'wiki-legend', for the record. :)"
Wikipedian embroiled in birther's fights: As reported earlier, the decision to redirect the entry Terrence L. Lakin (and earlier Terry Lakin) to the article on Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories had been met with criticism from proponents of these theories (who question the legitimacy of Obama as US president). One such website claimed "McCain 2008 lawyer is the culprit in Wikipedia Lakin deletion", connecting comments by User:THF in the debate about the entries to his work for the campaign of the 2008 Republican presidential candidate. Asked to comment by WorldNetDaily (a right-wing news site that likewise devotes much attention to the birthplace theories and has criticized Wikipedia for other reasons in the past), THF defended himself, explaining that he had not been responsible for the criticized decision, and that "I edit Wikipedia as a hobby, not for a former employer. There's certainly a left-wing bias on Wikipedia, and I've worked against it by asking editors to conform to its policies on editing neutrally and avoiding double-standards on biographies."