In the news
Citizendium on the rocks, Shankbone celebrated, and the week in vandalism
Citizendium at 5: birthday candles or last rites?
A graph showing numbers of active editors of Citizendium through July 2011, compiled by RationalWiki
. Like those of Wikipedia, the contributor data of Citizendium indicate a worrying trend.
On the occasion of Citizendium's fifth anniversary, Ars Technica interviewed its founder Larry Sanger (known for his role in starting Wikipedia until 2002) and editorial council member Hayford Pierce, presenting their "candid assessments of what went wrong, and what we can learn from the experience" and looking back at the "great debate about the merits of Wikipedia's radically democratic editing process" which had been prompted by Sanger's September 2006 announcement. "Citizendium turns five, but the Wikipedia fork is dead in the water" was the grim headline given to the interview. Last month, shortly after the anniversary of Citizendium's first announcement, the Signpost interviewed the project's managing editor Daniel Mietchen: "Citizendium, half a decade later".
Vandalism to the article on Anna Dello Russo this weekend was picked up in several places. Part of why it received so much attention was undoubtedly its unusually humorous nature. "As much as I'm trying to be pissed at whomever did this, it's kind of...hilarious", wrote Ology.com. The defacement was also noted by New York magazine's fashion desk.
Meanwhile, progressive magazine Mother Jones spotted intensive edit warring at the article about Walid Phares, a foreign policy advisor for U.S. presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. The nexus of the dispute was attempted detailing of Phares relationship with the right-wing Lebanese Forces during that nation's civil war. Finally, the Herald Sun documented alternately juvenile and death-threatening defamatory edits to articles on Australian politicians Robert Doyle and Ted Baillieu.
American magazine Good interviewed editor David Shankbone this week, portraying him as "The Most Important Occupy Wall Street Photographer You've Never Heard of". In the interview, he discussed his photography ("In 2003 I was on a volcano in Ecuador with some locals who ended up stealing my digital camera and all of my clothes, and it wasn’t until 2006 that I had a camera again."), the role it has played on Wikipedia, as well as his opinion of Occupy Wall Street. Shankbone had previously been interviewed as a "Thought Leader" in March for the PBS MediaShift blog by former WMF staffer Sandra Ordonez with the acclamation that he was "arguably the most influential new media photojournalist in the world."
- Archive opens floodgates of out-of-copyright journals: JSTOR, the pre-eminent online archiver of academic journals in the humanities and social sciences, has released that portion of its journal content first published prior to 1923 in the United States and prior to 1870 elsewhere, a haul comprising 500,000 articles from a broad swathe of disciplines, accounting for about 6% of its total archive. The non-profit service had been widely criticised earlier in the year for its perceived reticence to facilitate free access to such material (see Signpost coverage: "Open-access activists clash with proprietary journal establishment" )
- Wikipedians in the stacks: The Daily Targum excerpts highlights from an address given by librarian and long-standing administrator David Goodman (User:DGG) and fellow editor Ann Matsuuchi to Rutgers University librarians, covering familiar ground on the construction, culture and best use of the peer-generated encyclopaedia.
- Amanda Knox coverage excoriated: In citizen journalism site GroundReport, Joseph Bishop slammed the Murder of Meredith Kercher article as "a rare failure at Wikipedia", accusing it of having been controlled by partisan "mostly European" administrators convinced of the guilt of the eventually-acquitted Amanda Knox, who had been among those charged with the murder. Bishop, who had led efforts to petition detailing the alleged failings of the article that attracted the sympathy of Jimmy Wales amongst others, hailed the recent thorough rewrite of the article by "Super Administrator" [sic] SlimVirgin, to whom he attributed more power on the site than anyone other than Mr. Wales himself.
- Pyromania and graphomania compete for Halloween attention: New Zealand's Stuff magazine gave a roundup of Halloween-related Wikipedia lists and articles, while The Saginaw News noted the prominence of the Michigan city's arsonists in the article on Devil's Night, a tradition of seasonal mischief.
- Female Wikipedians survey noted: The Melville House Publishing blog covered the recent informal survey of female-identified editors by Sarah Stierch. Concerns by those surveyed included a hostile and adversarial working climate, a culture of tolerance towards soft prejudice, and the widely observed phenomenon of stalking and harassment of female functionaries. See "News and notes" for more.
- All Wikipedia, all the time: ARNnet reviewed as their "app of the day" All Of Wikipedia - Offline, an app for iPad, iPhone and iPad that provides users with offline access to an image-free version of the encyclopaedia. Costing US$8.99 and weighing in at 2.7mb for the app and up to 4gb for the database, it was judged by the reviewer to be a daunting download, and – for an otherwise free product – cheekily expensive, but ultimately a "good app for Wikipedia junkies", who may well welcome the increased access opportunity offered.
- Foundation ramps up mobile ambitions: paidContent gave an overview of the Wikimedia Foundation's efforts in expanding mobile penetration on the occasion of the announcement of the imageless dedicated mobile platform Wikipedia Zero, noting the development as proof of the foundation's pledge to prioritise its mobile offerings and expansion in the Global South. A note of concern was voiced at the foundation's failure to sign any carriers onto its scheme to provide free access to Wikimedia content, but WMF senior manager of mobile partnerships Amit Kapoor was upbeat about attracting partners in India and China specifically. Media Nama meanwhile noted with interest Kapoor's ambitions for Wikipedia to be available even to those mobile users without a data plan. See "Technology report" for more.
- Wikipedia.ee: Estonian Public Broadcasting trumpeted the Estonian Internet Foundation's ruling in favour of the Wikimedia Foundation against a speculator who had cybersquatted the Wikipedia.ee domain name with a duplicate copy of the Estonian Wikipedia.