The New York Times (8 January 2014) published a lengthy article on Wikipedia by Judith Newman, asking Wikipedia, What Does Judith Newman Have to Do to Get a Page? Written in a humorous style, the article described Newman's (mock?) frustration with the fact that she did not have a Wikipedia biography (a fact since remedied). Newman also offered some criticism of Wikipedia's editorial policies and internal culture – quoting among others Wiki-PR chief executive Michael French, who told her:
... one client said to me that dealing with the Wikipedians is like walking into a mental hospital: the floors are carpeted, the walls are nicely padded, but you know there’s a pretty good chance at any given moment one of the inmates will pick up a knife.
She also asked French about the recent sockpuppeting scandal his company has been involved in (see previous Signpost coverage here, here and here). French said,
Wikipedia is historically very anti-commercial, and we’re the biggest company being paid for consulting, so we became the target. There is not an official policy against it, but the idea of having paid editors is very divisive within the Wikipedia ranks. If you think of it, it’s not surprising: there are thousands and thousands of people volunteering to do these pages. But many have an agenda, whether they are paid or not.
Newman did not seem to have a problem with the fact that there were Wikipedia consultants editing for money:
As someone whose preferred method of tackling any problem is to throw money at it, I’m actually very glad there are Wikipedia consultants. They may hype things? Oh, boohoo. I see how friends who stay under the radar are constantly burnishing their reputations in ways large and small. And all it takes is a couple of unpaid but Internet-savvy interns to do the spin doctoring that has become so common among politicians. Moreover, many pages have such an odd or inaccurate beginning that you have to be truly famous or notorious for that page to have enough devotees to massage it into usefulness.
And she said that she loved the idea of crowdsourcing:
I love the idea of crowdsourcing; I love the notion that amid the jokesters and provocateurs, there are thousands of dedicated souls trying their best to arrive at some semblance of truth, even if that truth involves, say, the varieties of historical Christian hairstyles. (The marauding barbarians? Mullets?)
Vandals: BuzzFeed (2 January 2014) had a list of spectacular acts of Wikipedia vandalism.
Loins: Slate (8 January 2014) took a look at Wikipedia's articles on genitals, and discussed the impact of the gender gap on how these articles are written. The author also managed to contact an anonymous exhibitionist who is excited that his penis is featured in Wikipedia … and that his is now "the fourth when you search penis on google images".
German study: Covert PR in Wikipedia: German journalist Marvin Oppong published a study on covert PR editing in Wikipedia. The study is being vigorously discussed in the German Wikipedia, on the Kurier's talk page.
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