This week brought a wave of media attention sparked by the November 23 Wall Street Journal story "Volunteers Log Off as Wikipedia Ages" (see previous Signpost coverage) as well as responses from Erik Moeller and Erik Zachte on the Wikimedia Foundation blog, "Wikipedia's Volunteer Story". Moeller and Zachte note that "The number of people writing Wikipedia peaked about two and a half years ago, declined slightly for a brief period, and has remained stable since then."
In the New York Times piece, Morozov focuses on the case of Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber, in which German Wikipedia chose to follow German law by redacting the names of convicted murderers who had completed their sentences, but English Wikipedia, after extensive discussion, decided to use their full names. Wolfgang Werlé's lawyers recently sent the Wikimedia Foundation a cease and desist letter, and previously won a default judgment against Wikimedia in a German court. According to Morozov,
The German case illustrates that some of the disputes could be too complex to be easily pigeon-holed into an intractable body of Wikipedia’s rules and practices.
He proposes that
whenever current rules and norms of the project come into conflict, Wikipedians shouldn’t shun away from asking for help. An external international panel comprising the world’s most eminent philosophers, legal scholars, historians and others can prevent challenging cases from getting ugly before they reach the courts.
The piece drew the ire of Jimmy Wales in a discussion on his talk page, particularly because of Morozov's negative characterization of Wikipedians and their decision-making processes.
In The Sunday Times piece, Morozov praises Wikipedia for its successes but criticizes the project for its lack of perspective on the relative importance of different topics. He argues that
Wikipedians have to find a way formally to enshrine the concept of “importance” into their editing practices. This doesn’t mean that entries about the disputed anatomy of Rasputin’s penis, or the memorial to a reputed UFO in Sweden, or the cultural history of the Richard Nixon mask, have to go: whoever wants can continue editing them — they should just be made aware that these aren’t areas that need the most attention.
The Los Angeles Times Technology blog reports that the on-demand video service Vudu now gives access to information from Wikipedia about the movies it offers.