Wikipedia documentary director interviewed
Film director Scott Glosserman
Movieweb.com published an interview
with Scott Glosserman
, co-director of the documentary Truth in Numbers?
which recently received a DVD release, a screening in Santa Monica, California (photos
) and a short review
. Asked about the film's portrayal of Jimmy Wales - according to the interviewer "in nothing but a fair light" -, Glosserman said: "We were desperately hoping to illicit [sic] emotional responses from Jimmy, to get Jimmy to champion some sort of cause ... We were almost, in ways, contriving events for Jimmy, to get him to really engage. ... What we found time and time again, that is just not his nature. He was very hard to illicit [sic] an emotional response from." The conversation also touched biographies of living people, the Wikipedia article about the film, and possible further work on the topic ("There was so much stuff we couldn't put in here. ...If we can sell enough DVDs that it makes sense to revisit it, creatively, I would love that opportunity. ...This is like a textbook, that every could [sic] of years, it needs to be updated"). At the premiere at the Gdańsk Wikimania
in July 2010, the filmmakers announced they would release the raw footage for others to remix; many videos
including interviews with Vint Cerf
, Howard Zinn
, Richard Stallman
and other pundits have since been published on the film's website, which is under a CC-BY-SA license.
How to achieve a 94% female contributor ratio on a wiki
Following the recent debates about Wikipedia's "gender gap", the co-founder of Wikifashion (a MediaWiki-based wiki about fashion, not under a free license, where she also contributes much of the content) explained "Why wikis and women do mix ...". She argued that the debate so far had missed aesthetics as an important aspect: "Something that seemed obvious to me just didn't seem to really pop out from any of the debaters. Or perhaps it is obvious and other women just wouldn't say it? Women like things that look pretty... When I say pretty, I mean aesthetically but also it's user friendly." As proof, she presented her own (recently redesigned) wiki, describing it as "less cluttered and a little less overwhelming than traditional wikis have been- très girl friendly". However, she said that women's interest in the site's topic was also a reason for its gender ratio of 94% female contributors (a gender gap even larger than Wikipedia's reportedly 87% male contributors), which "is not something that I set out to achieve, quite the contrary, I wanted to make sure that just as many men as women used my wiki".
Still, she concluded that "what I've unintentionally highlighted with my own site is not that women don't like wikis or are willing to contribute to them ... but that they perhaps don't find the site all that intuitive or appealing to edit", "although the site has made strides in it's [sic] appearance lately". Consoling and flattering the largest encyclopedia in history, she said, "Wikipedia you're that really smart nerd in high school that all the cool girls secretly wanted to date but wouldn't dare", but recommended it to "Perhaps make the help sections a little more understandable for the average non-techie and introduce some mechanisms for a more encouraging environment for learning the syntax (this would also prove helpful for new male editors)? Of course being easier on the eye wouldn't go astray."
Google algorithm update
A study on the effect of Google's update of its search results ranking algorithm on February 24 (in the US), published by the company "seoClarity", named "Wikipedia.com" among the "Top 10 Domains with greatest gains of Top 10 rankings", rising from 7578 to 8050 (+6.2%) presences in the first search result page, in a sample of around 60,000 keywords.
In a Wired interview, Google engineers Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts explained that the new algorithm's distinction of low-quality sites was based on a "strictly scientific" method, extrapolating sample judgments by outside testers into a new formula. Cutts said: "And we actually came up with a classifier to say, okay, IRS or Wikipedia or New York Times is over on this side, and the low-quality sites are over on this side."
On his Infothought blog, longtime Wikipedia critic Seth Finkelstein reacted to the seoClarity results and others which showed e.g. Mahalo.com among the sites losing in the update, lamenting that "I'm basically completely unable to get the law/policy types to realize the enormous extent to which Wikipedia is de facto subsidized by Google. Here, not only is Wikipedia getting yet another boost, but some of its arguable commercial competitors are being killed!"
Later, Fast Company interviewed Jimmy Wales about the algorithm changes and how they will affect both Wikipedia and Wikia. He said, "I haven't seen the numbers yet for Wikipedia, but I doubt it's affecting Wikipedia at all--almost nothing does. For Wikia, it's been a net-positive." In general, he welcomed Google's drive towards better editorial quality, a view he reiterated in another interview published three days later by Fortune Tech. Asked whether he was "concerned about people turning more to social networks for information than your sites", Wales replied: "Certainly not for Wikipedia. People do share Wikipedia links a lot." Much of the rest of the interview, which Forbes introduced by calling Wales "also notable because he's pretty much willing to weigh in on anything tech, even if it seems outside his purview", concerned his previously stated opinion that Apple's closed app store model presents a greater threat to the freedom of the Internet than concerns about net neutrality.
- Chinese Wikipedia competitor alleges damage by monopolistic search engine tactics. In an article titled "China's 'Wikipedia' Submits Complaint about Baidu", The Economic Observer reported that Hudong.com, "the largest Chinese-language wikipedia-style knowledge sharing site," has filed an anti-monopoly complaint at the State Administration for Industry and Commerce against search engine provider Baidu. Baidu, which is running its own collaborative online encyclopedia called Baidu Baike, is alleged to pressure website owners into buying search keywords and rankings, with the threat of dropping their site from its index. The article also said, "currently, only 10 percent of Hudong.com visitors are directed to the site via Baidu, the large majority of the remaining traffic comes from Google." (During the Wikimedia Foundation's 2009/10 Strategy Project, a China task force had analyzed Baide Baike and Hudong as competitors of the Chinese Wikipedia, and found among other things they both had better SEO results on Google. For various reasons, the Foundation decided not to include China in its areas of priority development for the next five years.)
- Top 7 Wikipedia errors: In an article titled "Wikipedia lies: the 7 greatest myths", UK technology news website Electricpig.co.uk listed what it considered "the best lies perpetuated by Wikipedia", including both well-publicized examples such as an error in the article about FIFA president Sepp Blatter (Signpost coverage) and a previously uncorrected claim inserted at the beginning of this year into the article National Blood Service by a member of that organization "whilst at the bar in order to win an argument in a pub".
- Australian MP "assassinated" on Wikipedia: Vandalism edits in the article about a politician gave rise to the dramatic headline "MP Tony Windsor assassinated on Wikipedia" in Australian tabloid The Daily Telegraph.
- Wikimedian "most influential new media photojournalist": On PBS Mediashift, Sandy Ordonez (a former Communications Manager of the Wikimedia Foundation) interviewed Wikimedian David Shankbone, calling him "arguably the most influential new media photojournalist in the world" because the more than 1,000 portraits of notable people that he has released under a free license have been widely reused ("Shankbone's Wikipedia Photo Portraits Spread Like Wildfire").
- GLAM interview: Wikipedian RichardMcCoy, a conservator at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, has been interviewed about "Crowdsourcing Archives", describing his work at the WikiProject Public art, also involving students participating in courses at IUPUI.
- 14% of Australian schools block Wikipedia: Microsoft's The Education Blog criticized that "One in six schools block Wikipedia", according to a 2009 statistic about Australian schools, which also said that 86% of them block Facebook and 57% block YouTube.
- Anti-sharia bill copies Wikipedia definition: A bill to ban the use of Islamic law in courts of the US state of Alabama introduced last week in the state's senate took the definition of its subject almost verbatim from the Wikipedia article Sharia, as reported by The Anniston Star  and Mother Jones , and confirmed by a senate staff source. The reports also note that the bill's sole sponsor, senator Gerald Allen, was not able to define Sharia law in a recent interview.
- Attempt to legally enforce citation: German IT news website Heise News reports that a German Wikipedian has filed criminal complaints against five other Wikipedia editors for an alleged copyright violation, by removing the citation of a book he wrote from an article where he had himself used that book as a source, while leaving the quoted part in. It was argued that the attribution to his user name in the version history was sufficient; however, these versions had been deleted out of concern of a copyright violation. Another irony of the case is the fact that one of the five Wikipedians, Martina Nolte, had earlier received media attention herself for taking legal action against reusers of images she had uploaded to Wikimedia sites, arguing that they had violated attribution requirements.
- Google bomb: The Atlantic reported how a Google bomb, created by anti abortion activists, caused the second highest ranked result for a search for "murder" to be the Wikipedia page on Abortion.
- Wikimedian in Residence at Versailles: Following the announcement that French Wikipedian and Wikimédia France chapter member Benoît Evellin (User:Trizek) will stay in Residence at the Palace of Versailles for six months (cf. Signpost coverage), the story was featured in several media outlets, including an interview in the newspaper Ouest-France, reports on the TV channels France 3 Île-de-France  and LCI, and Fast Company ("Wikipedia Goes Royal")
- History as a struggle between "Wiki and anti-Wiki forces": An opinion article in the Chicago Tribune titled "The Wiki-fication of the world" praised Wikipedia as "amazing", and postulated that "the whole world breaks down into Wiki and anti-Wiki forces", subsuming historical events such as the American revolution, the Protestant Reformation or the recent Arab revolutions among the former, as a "type of decentralized, power-to-the-people phenomenon".
- Wikipedia panel at educational conference: A video and slides from a panel discussion about Wikipedia at the recent annual conference of the "Northwest Council for Computer Education" have been published.
- Jimmy Wales on wikis and plagiarism: In a comment for The Guardian, Jimmy Wales reacted to the recent scandal about widespread plagiarism in the doctoral thesis of German defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, reflecting on the central role that a Wikia-based wiki had played in uncovering the full scale of the plagiarism - however getting its name wrong as "Plagipedia" (the project is commonly referred to as "Guttenplag Wiki". See also last week's "In the news"). Wales argued that this showed that the "internet is perfectly capable of correcting its own follies", even though it "is thought to have fostered a cut-and-paste culture of uncritical plagiarism: schoolteachers and university lecturers in particular regularly complain about coursework lifted straight off the site that I run, Wikipedia." The subheading of an earlier version had Wales claim more boldly, "Wikipedia, the site I run, has inspired in its 'wiki' structure the means to collaborate in the discovery of copy-and-paste cheats".