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Wales everywhere, participation statistics, and more
Jimmy Wales touts openness, sharing, and thinking
In "What the MSM Gets Wrong About Wikipedia -- and Why" on The Huffington Post, Jimmy Wales attempts to clarify what the introduction of flagged protection and patrolled revisions and its likely successor policies will mean for English Wikipedia. Mainstream media sources reported widely but inaccurately that flagged revisions would mean a significant increase in restrictions on editing (see previous Signpost coverage). Wales explains instead that "English Wikipedia will soon launch a new feature that will allow you to edit, as an inexperienced user, articles that have previously been locked more-or-less continuously for years."
"What? Really?", writes Wales. "The solution to the problem of bad speech is actually more speech? Openness and collaboration actually work?" On Twitter, Wales said he hoped the piece would be read widely.
An audio feature, "Jimmy Wales on the (Encyclopedic) Value of Sharing", was posted this week on the Good magazine website.
Advice from Wales is also featured in the 19 September issue of New Scientist as part of the "Blueprint for a better world" series:
The most important thing we can do as individuals is to think. Instead of responding with your gut reaction, get the facts, get a complete picture of the problem and the possible solutions. As an exercise, take one of your strongly held opinions and challenge it. Spend a week, or better a month, researching it. You may find that you were mistaken. And if it turns out that you were right, then so much the better.
Contributor statistics in Time
Time magazine will feature its first story on Wikipedia in over two years in the upcoming 28 September issue. "Where Wikipedia Ends" focuses on the trends discussed at Wikimania and elsewhere of a declining level of active editors on English Wikipedia (see earlier Signpost coverage). The story includes commentary from Wikipedia researcher Ed Chi, whose analysis of recent database dumps was the basis for Wikimania discussions:
There are some bloggers out there who say, 'Oh, yeah, Wikipedia will be gone in five years.' I think that's sensational. But our data does suggest its existence in 10 or 15 years may be in question.
(Chi likely refers to Eric Goldman, who has been a frequent Wikipedia doomsayer: see earlier Signpost coverage.)
The Time story also mistakenly reports that Wikipedia "recently instituted a major change, imposing a layer of editorial control on entries about living people." The current flagged revisions plan has not yet been instituted and will not, at least during the planned trial, extend to all biographies of living people. As Jimmy Wales explained recently (see above) it is hoped that the English Wikipedia flagged revisions implementation (along with ongoing efforts to improve site usability) will make the project more open and easier to contribute to.
While the size of the editing community on English Wikipedia currently appears to be declining slightly or holding steady, many small language Wikipedias' communities are still growing. Erik Zachte blogged about participation level statistics, arguing for the importance of contributor level as a metric for the success of individual Wikipedias—especially as the combination of bot-made articles and relative completeness make the traditional metric of article count less useful.
New and inexperienced editors recount negative Wikipedia experiences
An article about experiences editing Wikipedia, "Wikipedia: No Country for Old Men
", appeared in the June 2009 issue of OR/MS Today
, the INFORMS
magazine. It ends with:
Yet, their ways of manhandling authors of new entries suggests that creating entries there is something to avoid although I did read a newspaper story about a high school dropout who created 400+ entries posing as a classics professor. Overall, my experience of Wikipedia was like that dealing with a gang of marauding young men roaming around the countryside looking for victims—yup, no country for old men.
The Wikipedia article the writer attempted to write appears to be Six Sigma Pricing (AfD). The magazine is sent to all INFORMS members, who generally work in Operations Research and related areas); the article has also been mentioned in blog comments here.
Blogger and some-time Wikipedian Gene McKenna expressed similar frustration in his post "Bullypedia, A Wikipedian Who’s Tired of Getting Beat Up", which sparked a lively set of discussions on the WikiEN-l mailing list.
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