Talk:Wikipedia/Archive 4

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Inherent problems with Wikipedia

i cant find where to talk about this. that is one problem. there should be a designated place for people to criticize wikipedia. even Zhou Enlai encouraged people to criticize the communist party. where is that spirit at wikipedia?

second of all, i want to talk about the inherent bias of wikipedia. you can find all sorts of articles on things relevant to upper middle class white computer geeks, like pac man, richard stallman, trolls, message boards that have maybe 30,000 users, etc, and frequently these things make front page articles.

however, take something like 'suspended solid waste', or janitor, or landfills, or anything related to manual labor, and your articles are hardly touched.

the inherent bias of wikipedia no matter how hard it tries to be NPOV, is that it is made of the users that it is made of. IE, people who have access to computers and the internet. Thus, the inherent bias of wikipedia, the things it leaves out, the things it describes in detail, the things it doesnt describe, what exactly is considered 'neutral', is merely the conglomeration of the things decided by its users, which necessarily, by the life experience and personal knowledge of the users, makes it largely jilted towards the aforementioned groups, those with computers and internet access, ie, those with money.

billions of people do not have access to the internet or computers. another billion, in China, have access but it is tightly controlled through a massive state run bureau of censorship.

thus, although wikipedia NPOV is a great experiment, and provides freedoms never before allowed, and has many successes, it still has inherent problems that are manifest even in its most infant stages.

Have a look at Wikipedia:Why_Wikipedia_is_not_so_great, which is linked in the introduction. You might also want to learn proper capitalizaton so that people take you a bit more seriously. -FunnyMan 03:51, Oct 7, 2004 (UTC)

Why do you consider the "bias" of wikipedia an inherent "problem?" Your comment makes a great deal of assumptions- most notably, you assume that a goal of wikipedia is the creation of unbiased representations. That may be a goal of yours, even a goal of many, but is not necessarally a goal of all users/stakeholders of wikipedia. Again, why do you consider this a "problem?" Just wondering.


See consumerium for User:142's criticisms.


I'm, sorry but this link is completely weird to me. I clicked 'criticisms' expecting to find people discussing criticism of wikipedia, instead i get this obscure 'consumerium' stuff that is poorly written, and i am totally lost, and i dont know what is going on. What the heck is a consumerium and what does it have to do with wikipedia?


There's a strong Marxist POV to many of the historical and political articles. If you read all the artcile on the October Revolution, The Russian Civil War, Lenin, Trotsky, and other related articles without already knowing what happened you'd get the impression that the bolsheviks came to power peaceablly and then created an ideal state until that wicked Stalin messed it up, and that the only reason anyone died is because a few disgruntled parties unfairly opposed the bolshevik take over, and that under Lenin everyone was free to do and say whatever they wanted.

The bias creeps into a lot of other articles as well. Nearly half of the article on imperialism is devoted to describing how Lenin used the term even though his definition was merely a politcal tool that had nothing to do with how the term is actually used.

And many of the fairly written articles have talk pages filled with Marxists complaining about how the article is biased because it doesn't contain enough Marxist propoganda.

Wikipedia links

Why do all the links to Wikipedia bring me to an edit box instead of the article?

Acegikmo1 20:29, Jun 20, 2004 (UTC)

Ooh, that's odd. Ah, a quick trivial edit saved the day; now what on Earth is it that triggers that bug, I wonder... - IMSoP 01:45, 21 Jun 2004 (UTC)
Ack! The links are back in the red. What's causing this?
Acegikmo1 01:33, Jun 29, 2004 (UTC)

Free content: all or much?

I see Anthony DiPierro changed "Wikipedia text is free content..." to "Much of Wikipedia is free content...", but I can't think of any bits that aren't - which were you thinking of, Anthony? - IMSoP 13:18, 27 Jun 2004 (UTC)

He's thinking of fair use images and perhaps some images licenced under agreements other than the GFDL. I imagine to satisfy all editors we will have to eventually write a long-winded version - "Wikipedia text is free content. However some images used are not free ... ". This is the sad but true way with all controversial articles. Pcb21| Pete 20:22, 27 Jun 2004 (UTC)
I made a change to that section a couple days ago that I think managed to reconcile the two sides. It's been cleaned up a bit since, but the spirit of the change is still there. Have a look and see what you think. -FunnyMan 16:31, Jun 30, 2004 (UTC)

Links outside the main namespace

I was about to snip an internal link to an article outside the main namespace on the Wiki article when it occurred to me that the only authority I have for this is the HTML comment at the top of this article's wikitext.

Is there a policy page somewhere that explains, suggests or stipulates this?

chocolateboy 23:52, 1 Jul 2004 (UTC)

The spirit of Wikipedia:Avoid self-references is the same as that intended by that comment, but I am not aware of specific policy page that records the policy, though it has been in use for some time. Pcb21| Pete 00:12, 2 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Aha! Thanks, Pete.
chocolateboy 00:22, 2 Jul 2004 (UTC)
It's so that articles may be mirrored and used elsewhere more easily, I think. Our mirrors take the main article namespace, but don't take the other namespaces. That's why links that might normally be in other wikimedia namespaces are formatted as external links - David Gerard 00:26, 2 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Thanks, David. Makes sense. And it gives me something less obscure than "see HTML comment in wikitext" to put in my edit summary :-)
chocolateboy 00:52, 2 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Who is the copyright holder of Wikipedia articles

To my understanding, even if work is copyrighted under GNU General Documentation Licence, it has to have some copyright holder. Who is the copyright holder in the case of Wikipedia articles? Do the contributors still retain their copyright even though there's no copyright notice on their article in Wikipedia? And if Alice has published her work under GNU General Documentation Licence, and I put her text inside a Wikipedia article, can a unique holder of the copyright over the article be identified?

In general, I don't understand what happens with the copyright when two GNU GDL works with different copyright holders get tangled in a way which makes a separation impossible. --Daniel Polansky

They are joint owners of the one copyright in the article. You may or may not be able to take it down to line-by-line - you can in computer programs, text is a bit more difficult - David Gerard 18:31, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)
When a work is so authored that the contributions of the authors cannot be separated then all the authors collectively own the copyright. So, if a Wikipedia article is authored by one person, then that one person is the copyright holder. However if an article is authored by half a dozen people, the half a dozen people are the copyright holders.
That said things get a little more complicated when it comes to what level of contribution is an original work, ie one that qualifies for copyright protection under international conventions? I somewhat suspect that correcting spellings and capitalisations does not qualify as original work and thus does not qualify the person who does it as a copyright holder if the work. Exactly what level of originality is required for copyright protection cannot be found without trawling through the case law of individual countries. David Newton 18:35, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Let's assume we're talking about the laws of the US here, as the server is in Florida - David Gerard 18:55, 4 Jul 2004 (UTC)


Admins are an important piece of the site and should be addressed. Users DON'T have the same privileges as admins, so it should be known that Admins have more power. Simple fact. -- Anonymous commentator

Admins are just trusted users -- trusted by other users to do things which are not easily reversible. Admins were a temporary expedient until the software was changed to make them unnecessary. Unfortunately they seem to have become a bit more permanent than was originally intended. Not so simple fact. -- Derek Ross | Talk 05:22, 2004 Sep 17 (UTC)

How to pronounce Wikipedia?

Is it "wee-kee-PEE-dee-uh" /wiki"pidi@/ or "wih-kee-PEE-dee-uh" /wIki"pidi@/ or other? Should the pronunciation be added to the article?--Sonjaaa 05:59, Sep 9, 2004 (UTC)

It depends how wiki is pronounced, but from Talk:Wiki#Pronunciation, it seems there is no agreement on it. :) Angela. 17:28, Sep 12, 2004 (UTC)
In fact the pronunciation will vary according to the accent of the speaker using the word so it is no wonder that there is no agreement. After all we can't agree on the pronunciation of a well-established word like "marry", so what hope is there for a neologism like "wikipedia" (and why should it matter anyway). -- Derek Ross | Talk 05:31, 2004 Sep 17 (UTC)

Just curious, how would you prononounce the similar word "tiki"?

tee-kee. On that note, I believe the correct Hawaiian pronunciation of wiki is wee-kee.

How it started

Just a curiosity, how wikipedia started? what was the first article about? Was it original or a copy from some public domain article?

The article you're looking for is History of Wikipedia (linked from the Wikipedia article already), but as for what the first article was, I don't remember where I read it, but I seem to recall that it had something to do with women's tennis. Try asking the Wikipedia:Reference desk; that's where you'll find our most renowned trivia hunters. 21:46, Sep 18, 2004 (UTC)
Aha. See the last external link in History of Wikipedia. The answer to your question may be found there. 21:51, Sep 18, 2004 (UTC)

"It has also been argued..."

I'm removing the text I copied below as it represents something that a small number of people have been raising over the last couple of days (even though I agree with the points they are raising)and then with a personal POV about possible results added to it:

It has also been argued that contributors have an ethical responsibility to seek out and express views that are under-represented on the Internet, but are nonetheless widely held in the real world. This challenge is particularly significant with regard to central issues like religion, ethics, or politics. A political shift in those articles tends to create a shift in many other articles, which over time can alter what contributors see as neutrality itself.

Thanks, BCorr|Брайен 16:05, 24 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Regarding Wales and Sanger

I have edited the "personnel" section to reduce Sanger's prominence. There are two reasons for this.

  1. Sanger has not been with the project for a considerable time.
  2. Fact is, though his role was important, Sanger wasn't a co-founder.

Here's some rationale on point #2:

  • Let's consider what it really means to be a founder. A founder is someone who is the first to provide three things to a venture in return for a stake:
    1. Decisionmaking
    2. Resources, such as money, equipment, space, or work without pay
    3. Responsibility for the debts and legal obligations of the new venture.
While Sanger provided decisionmaking, he did not provide resources, did not have responsibility for Wikipedia's debts and legal obligations, and did not receive a stake. Wales, however, meets all four tests. While Wales' decisionmaking was largely delegated to Sanger he was indeed active particularly at the very beginning, and ultimately made the decision to remove Sanger from the project.
  • Now let's look at how it got to be this way. Until very recently (when Sanger's claim of being a co-founder created some practical problems) Wales has not tried to define his and Sanger's roles in public. Sanger, on the other hand, has been fairly active in tooting his own horn. I quote herewith from the current version of his resume:
"Editor-in-chief,; Organizer and co-founder,; Feb. 2000-Feb. 2002
Designed and managed virtually every aspect of two volunteer, from-the-ground-up, free online encyclopedia projects. Duties: selected subject editors; organized reviewers, writers, copyeditors, programmers, and translators; organized article editing systems; led advisory board discussions about editorial policy; drafted policy guidelines; set up and moderated project mailing lists; many public relations duties; managed and worked with an administrative assistant and an assigned programmer; and much else. Employed by Bomis, Inc., a small Internet firm.
During my time developing these projects, they were positively reviewed in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, MIT's Technology Review, PC World, The Industry Standard, Wired News, and in many other articles. Wikipedia has gone on to become the largest free encyclopedia online, and, according to, among the most-visited of all online encyclopedias."
Basically, Sanger himself is the source of the claim that he is the "organizer and co-founder" of Wikipedia. There is no independent verificaiton for this claim.
  • A review of historically important pages in and at, as well as the mailing list, reveals that Jimbo was always clearly in charge. There are several key areas where he overruled Sanger, particularly with regard to allowing anyone to edit any article, a policy Sanger opposed. This historical record demonstrates that Wales and Sanger were not peers, as they would have had to be to be "co-founders."

uc 16:39, 30 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Congo civil war and Bias

Now the congo civil war has become a collaboration of the week, maybe it should be taken out of the bias part. Any suggestions for other seriously underequipped articles?

I think it makes a good example even if it has become collaboration of the week; if the coverage here was going to be changed, perhaps it should be extended rather than eliminated. But even more interestingly, I wonder if the bias spoken of in this section isn't partially due to the fact that media coverage of e.g. pop groups far outstrips media coverage of e.g. genocide on foreign soil, somewhat less to the biases of the individual authors? Kind of a subtle point, but I suppose I'm trying to say that Wikipedia presumably reflects the biases of the culture within which it is produced, not just the biases of its authors. Get me? Thu Jan 27 05:09:05 2005

New User

What's a good way to get started editing Wikipedia?

See Wikipedia:Welcome, newcomers and Wikipedia:How to edit a page. Ðåñηÿßôý | Talk 22:17, 6 Oct 2004 (UTC)


I read this article for the first time now, after half a year of editing Wikipedia, and found it rather lacking in NPOV. I therefore added a Criticisms section, and added "criticisms" to the section heading: "reviews, endorsements, and discussions of Wikipedia". — David Remahl 05:50, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)

How does one disable hijacking of alt-e (etc)

As the subject says, I'm looking for a way to disable hijacking of alt-e and other alt combos. I use that sort of thing all the time to open up menus. I didn't see it in preferences, but I might have just missed it.

Sorry for posting this here btw, I wasn't sure where else it'd go. Feel free to move it if you'd like.

Need for commas in numbers

On the main page it reads something like there are 404567 pages being written. To make it easier to assimulate such info all numbers of over 3 figures should have commas added. So 404567 becomes 404,567. I see there are similar "mistakes" on the statistics page but could not see how to edit it, so I hope this is read by someone who will clarify the convention for writing numbers. Tolkny November 25 2004

I disagree with this statement. A comma is not recommended as a number separator. I quote from the NIST guide to SI units section 10.5.2]

Because the comma is widely used as the decimal marker outside the United States, it should not be used to separate digits into groups of three. Instead, digits should be separated into groups of three, counting from the decimal marker towards the left and right, by the use of a thin, fixed space. However, this practice is not usually followed for numbers having only four digits on either side of the decimal marker except when uniformity in a table is desired.

Donar Reiskoffer 13:33, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

REPLY, Ok, fair enough, spaces are acceptable to me, Tolkny November 25 2004

Positive things about WP

We have a "Criticisms" section on this page, and that's a good thing to have since there are a lot of ways in which WP can be improved. However, keeping the spirit of presenting both sides, shouldn't we add a "Positive Things About Wikipedia" type section?

I'm open to discuss this, and would like to hear others' opinions before I would go ahead and write one. EventHorizon 19:30, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Problems with EventHorizon's addition

I consider EventHoriozon's addition a rant in that it presents opinions without attribution. Specifically:

The general consensus of the Internet community is that Wikipedia is an excellent source of information, but that, as a forum and community itself, it is lacking, drowning in incivility and petty squabbles.

What is "the Internet community"? All Internet users? ISOC? Bloggers?

While the process seems democratic regarding matters of deletion, the observed reality is that some users have vastly more influence than others, often for no reason other than having been a contributer for longer.

Seems to whom? Who are the observers of this reality?

These inequalities of influence are especially noticed around sysops. While most are well-intentioned and use their privileges for the betterment of Wikipedia, there are documented cases of them abusing them to "bully" other users.

Especially noticed by whom?

For this reason, Wikipedia is occasionally described as "the Stanford prison experiment of the Internet."

No reference given.

On ...

Finally attribution! I almost think this should be kept. However, are entries significant? Do they carry more weight than, say, arbitrary blog comments? Up for discussion.

A more abstract criticism of Wikipedia is that its goal of neutrality is unattainable, especially in an open-source environment.

Who says this?

Finally, some opponents of Wikipedia have argued that, by containing a large number of internally linked pages, it receives high rankings from Google. This alone would not be cause for concern-- Wikipedia does recieve heavy traffic-- but it also results in high rankings for the often identical Wikipedia mirrors. This makes it more likely that web searches will return identical results.

Who are these opponents?

-- Fredrik | talk 20:51, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I did some work regarding those. You're right that my additions needed POV work. EventHorizon 21:02, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)
It is better now, but some of the problems remain. For example, it is still unclear what "much of the Internet community" means. Fredrik | talk 21:24, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Why is the wikipediasucks page not allowed to be mentioned in the article? I thought NPOV was the goal? Lirath Q. Pynnor is flimsy criticism that contains personal attacks. In contrast there is well-researched criticisms by ex-wikpedians. See Read the files section Ex-Wikipedian 20:28, 25 Dec 2004 (UTC)