Intense media coverage of WikiLove roll-out
The new WikiLove extension (a software feature created by Kaldari and other developers of the Wikimedia Foundation, allowing easy posting of messages of appreciation on user's talk pages, extending and simplifying the long-standing custom of awarding barnstars) went live on the English Wikipedia last week (see also last week's "News and notes", this week's "Technology report" and the earlier and later deployment notes).
Media coverage leading up to the deployment was unexpectedly intense, with stories appearing in Slashdot, Wired, The Huffington Post, MSNBC Technolog, PC Magazine, PC World, and elsewhere. Most of the news coverage simply reiterated the information from the Wikimedia blog post, including the research data on user interaction. Two exceptions to the neutral news coverage were Business Insider and The Atlantic. Business Insider put a positive spin on WikiLove: "… it actually sounds like a great idea. Giving people on the internet more opportunities to show appreciation can only be healthy." The Atlantic was more critical: "While I appreciate comments and praise as much as the next editor, I wouldn't appreciate my inbox filling up with the same generic cat pictures and beer steins by readers who are unwilling to go out of their way to reach me with a more personal message" (the feature supports, but doesn't require, individual text messages). Despite this criticism, The Atlantic still expected that it "could evolve into a truly useful feature".
The blog coverage of WikiLove was more diverse and opinionated. Slashdot characterized WikiLove as "a cunning plan to make wikipedians nicer to each other," while a Mashable post wrote that "The addition of this simple feature makes a lot of sense." The highest praise came from ReadWriteWeb: "This kind of gentle social engineering to create a structure for the site that's more welcoming, accessible and effective could help produce a better product for us all (more edited Wikipedia content) and could help the site better serve us as people. Ultimately that is the point of all this, right?" Opinions in the blogosphere were not universally positive, however. A post on The Stir characterized WikiLove as "a superficial system" with "ridiculous, immature awards" and suggested that "a boring ol' 'like' button is far less sophomoric than a barnstar." Several other sources also compared WikiLove with Facebook's 'like' button, in some cases erroneously assuming that their functions were analogous.
In somewhat related news, the WMF last week published results from its editor survey – conducted before the widespread introduction of WikiLove, in a blog posting titled "Positive feedback works for editing, say Wikipedia editors". 70% said that "getting a barnstar or similar award from another editor" motivated them to edit Wikipedia further, somewhat below the 78% for the top motivator, "having others compliment you on your edits/articles".
Company to pay €25,000 in damages for removing competitor's name from Wikipedia article
A French court decision issued on July 1st (as reported on lefigaro.fr) awarded the company Rentabiliweb €25,000 (US$36,000) in damage and interest from its competitor Hi-Media, on the basis of a single Wikipedia edit that had removed mention of Rentabiliweb (and a link to their website) from a list of vendors in the French Wikipedia's article on micropayment. The IP used for the anonymous edit, conducted in 2008, was held to be that "of a device belonging to Hi-Media". The Paris court rejected Hi-Media's objection that this method of determining the author of the edit was illegal (as an intrusion of privacy), since an IP address did not directly provide the person who used the computer, but on the other hand held that because the computer had been installed on Hi-Media's premises, "Rentabiliweb offered sufficient proof that it was a person acting under the authorization of Hi-Media which was the author of the deletion". Rentabiliweb initially claimed €150,000 in damages, but the court reduced the sum to €25,000, as there had been no detailed justification, and also because "Wikipedia does not appear to the site where an Internet user will habitually search for suppliers of services". (Because Rentabiliweb itself was found guilty of two other actions – unrelated to Wikipedia – for which Hi-Media was awarded €50,000 in damages each, the entire case still resulted in Rentabiliweb having to compensate Hi-Media for a sum of €75,000.)
US politician Michele Bachmann (2011)
- Bachmann fans rewriting history? After Republican presidential candidate and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann made some slip-ups while campaigning, Wikipedia was updated to reflect her errors with changes being made to John Wayne (not to be confused with serial killer John Wayne Gacy) and John Quincy Adams. This was reported at The Raw Story (which noted that in case of the article about Adams, "the page's administrator [sic] quickly struck down the revision"), ThinkProgress, AddictingInfo.org, Crooks and Liars, and Wonkette, while The Randi Rhodes Show, a progressive US talk radio show, purported to have recorded a meeting of "The Super-Secret Conservative Wikipedia Modification Committee". In a posting on his "The Wikipedian" blog, titled "Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin and the Boring Truth About Wikipedia Vandalism", User:WWB applied a dose of reality to the allegations, linking to the diffs and talk page entries, concluding that "General mischief on Wikipedia is an everyday fact of life" and that the affair "hardly rises to the same level as the Palin-Revere controversy, and really says more about the partisan/ideological online media than it does about Michele Bachmann or her political supporters—let alone Wikipedia" (referring to earlier US media reports about edits supporting Sarah Palin's controversial claims about Paul Revere, see Signpost coverage).
- Wikipedia and Education: The website 'Online Courses' lists 10 Ways Wikipedia has changed education, also mentioning the Commons and Wikiversity.
- Manypedia: Wikipedia researcher Paolo Massa (User:Phauly) has announced "Manypedia: comparing linguistic points of view (LPOV) of different language Wikipedias", a web mashup for direct comparison of articles about the same subject in different language Wikipedia, automatically translating them into a common language using the Google Translate API. As one example, he recommends comparing the English Wikipedia's article on the Gaza War with those on the Arabic and Hebrew Wikipedias.
User Tinucherian: interview on the future of Wikipedia in India
- "India: The Future of Wikipedia": Indian Wikipedian User:tinucherian was interviewed on Global Voices ("India: The Future of Wikipedia ").
- Most people are basically good: David Horovitz from the Jerusalem Post interviewed Jimbo for a piece entitled "Jimmy Wales’s benevolent Wikipedia wisdom". In the interview, Jimbo discusses the role of Wikipedia in the Middle East, the Arab Spring, and participatory media.
- Jimbo on privacy panel: The BBC Radio 4 news show PM spoke to Jimmy Wales on Thursday 30 June as part of their "Privacy Commission", a series of interviews looking into the balance between privacy and press freedom in the light of the recent flurry of superinjunctions (covered previously in the Signpost, e.g. on 2 March and 23 May). During the interview, Wales briefly explained Wikipedia's role in the superinjunction scandals—Wikipedia didn't openly publish the information until it was reported in reliable sources outside the UK—but then goes on to criticise current British regulations on privacy as being outdated and now affecting ordinary people using sites like Wikipedia, Twitter and Facebook. The audio and transcript of the interview is on the BBC website.
- What can we learn from Wikipedia?: A blog called The REXpedition published a video called Lessons from Wikipedia where Jerry Michalski describes the lessons that society can learn from the success of Wikipedia as a self-organising system where people only do the things they are interested in.
- List of bizarre articles: Listverse.com presented the "Top 15 funny and bizarre Wikipedia pages", including deleted ones.
- Reminiscing a Main page deletion: A Reddit user recalled "How I became an administrator on Wikipedia and inadvertently deleted its main page" (referring to an incident in 2007).
- Political edit warring: US regional newspaper Billings Gazette reported on conflicts over the article about former US Congressman Rick Hill, who is running for governor in the state of Montana ("Candidate struggles to control Wiki biography"), quoting Hill's campaign manager among others.
Suspects Wikipedia may "fuck it up": Fred Durst, frontman of the band Limp Bizkit
- Pharmaceutical companies editing Wikipedia? In a blog posting titled "Wikipedia – a simple strategy for pharma?", Alex Butler, a marketing executive of a large pharmaceutical company proposed "what could be a simple transparent stepping stone for pharma in gaining more influence over one of the most powerful sources of information on the internet". Although rife with potential conflict of interest issues, Butler proposes to engage with Wikipedia in an "open, fully disclosed manner" although quite how that would work in practice is not spelled out.
- Limp Bizkit on BLP issues: Some lines in a song on Limp Bizkit's new album Gold Cobra, noted by Village Voice, might be interpreted as a commentary on WP:BLP from the perspective of a controversial rock star such as the band's frontman Fred Durst: "Never worry if anybody gonna like me, don't give a damn if anybody give a fuck/ I'ma say what I want, you can look it up/ Wikipedia probably gonna fuck it up."