In the media
Scottish MEP blocked for edit warring; ranking articles by importance
Scottish MEP blocked for edit warring on his own article
British media outlets reported this week that David Coburn, a Member of the European Parliament for the Scotland region for the UK Independence Party, had been blocked from editing Wikipedia on April 6. The indefinite block was imposed on the account David Coburn MEP by JohnCD after edit warring on Coburn's Wikipedia article.
From April 1–6, the account repeatedly removed references to Coburn's comments about opposing candidate Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh of the Scottish Nationalist Party. Coburn had repeatedly mangled her name and referred to her in a way that she characterized as "sexist - and possibly racist". The account also disputed other information, including Coburn's place of residence and high school.
The account made 59 edits to the article, but no edits to the article talk page or the account's user talk page, which includes numerous warning templates and attempts by other editors to discuss the article. The account did post frequent complaints in their edit summaries, including:
- "I am David Coburn MEP – I am aware of where I live – I live in Edinburgh – I am also aware of where I went to school & which University I attended - there are several people changing the facts and they need to stop"
- "There are some people amending my wiki bio who appear to think they know more about my life than I do"
- "why dont those changing this come round for a tunnocks tea cake and earl grey tea so I can prove where Iive?"
- "How can I make a formal complaint to Wiki about the behaviour of some of these people?"
Despite the account's frequent use of the first person, Coburn gave what appear to be conflicting statements to The Guardian about who was using the account. They reported (April 29) that "Coburn said he had started editing the page after spotting mistakes on it, but that he had stopped after getting bored." Coburn also told them "It was done by one of my people. I don’t know how to press the buttons to make it work. I was telling them what to do. If there was garbage on there I told them to take it off."
The Scotsman quoted (April 29) Coburn's chief of staff Arthur Misty Thackeray, who blamed the matter on Coburn's lack of technological expertise. He said "it goes to the heart of the fact that David’s not an IT expert, so things like Wikipedia aren't his strong point." In The Guardian, Coburn himself attributed the conflict to supporters of Scottish independence: "I’m sure its all wee cybernats who've got nothing better to do with their time and they should actually be out getting a job." G
Are these the most important articles on Wikipedia?
Gizmodo and other technology media outlets report (April 28) on a project from the Laboratory for Web Algorithmics at the University of Milan called The Open Wikipedia Ranking. The project's website ranks Wikipedia articles by importance using a variety of metrics. The top ten Wikipedia articles ranked by harmonic centrality are:
- United States
- World War II
- Association football
- United Kingdom
- World War I
The website also presents top ten lists of articles in a variety of broad categories. Some odd results appear in the lists, such as Ronald Reagan topping the list of actors and Lady Gaga at the top of the list of fashion designers. Other strange results arise from limitations in handling the data and the reliability of the data itself. The website's FAQ notes:
The reference to that album was removed from Wikidata on April 30 and Röyksopp's discography does not appear to contain an album by that title. G
Advocacy editing may be afoot on sneaker articles
SoleCollector investigates (April 26) what appears to be advocacy editing on behalf of sneaker companies Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour since 2005. They examined edits from IP addresses and concluded "Nike had more Wikipedia edits relating to its own business than any other sneaker brand." These included edits regarding controversies involving Nike's use of sweatshop labor and the quality of materials. SoleCollector also identified three accounts it contends belong to Nike historian Scott Reames. Edits from those accounts include the addition of material noting the increase in Nike's annual revenue "despite [anti-sweatshop] campaigns", and disputing a claim regarding Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman, changes regarding Nike's corporate sponsorship in the wake of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal. G
- Openly GLAM: Wikimedia-related projects won gold, silver and bronze in the 'Open' category of the American Alliance of Museums' MUSE Awards 2015 for Media & Technology, presented on Sunday night (April 26) in Atlanta at the AAM's annual convention.
- The Bronze award went to Europeana's Fashion collaboration for the Fashion editathon series – a dozen editathons so far, co-ordinated with local Wikimedia chapters and community volunteers across nine different European countries. (Blogpost)
- Silver was awarded to Wikimedia UK and the British Library for the "Mapping the Maps" project, which last year found 50,000 maps and plans in a million 19th-century book illustrations the BL had uploaded to Flickr, with now work currently ongoing to georeference them with a view to their upload to Wikimedia Commons with reasonably accurate automatic categorisation. (Slides/video)
- Gold went to Europeana, again, for the GLAM-Wiki Toolset, financed by a consortium of Wikimedia chapters Nederland, UK, France and Switzerland, and developed by Europeana, which has so far been used to upload over 400,000 images from galleries, libraries, archives and museums to Wikimedia Commons. (Blogpost). J
- English horn blues: In an interview (April 26) with The Southern Illinoisan, despite what his Wikipedia article says, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he did not play the English horn at Dartmouth College; instead, he played the trumpet and the baritone. He said "We changed it. In fact, we had it removed from the website twice and someone puts it back. And I’m like, I’m like, 'You’re kidding me!'" The claim appears to have first been inserted into the article in September 2014 by an IP editor who cited it to a 1977 issue of The Dartmouth, Dartmouth's student newspaper, without specifying an article or page number. (The online archives of The Dartmouth only go back to 1993.) The claim was removed in December 2014 but restored two days later. G
- Unbiased update: A 67 thousand dollar Kickstarter campaign to produce a book purporting to tell "The Truth about the Healing Arts on Wikipedia" (See previous Signpost coverage.) was cancelled by its creator, alternative medicine practicioner Mike Bundrant, on April 24. At the time of its cancellation, the campaign had raised $8000, but Bundrant wrote that he wanted to instead create a website in order to "share all the stories that couldn't fit in the book". The campaign also spawned a video which consists largely of a series of ad hominem attacks on Jimmy Wales. G
- Retrowiki: On April 13, developer Peter Cetinski released TRSWiki, a Wikipedia client for the TRS-80 computer, which was available commercially from 1977 to 1981. TRSWiki displays pictures in the TRS-80's primitive 128×48 graphics. Hyperlinks, limited to 36 per screen, are numbered in brackets. G
Do you want to contribute to "In the media" by writing a story or even just an "in brief" item? Edit next week's edition in the Newsroom or contact the editor.
Want the latest Signpost delivered to your talk page