Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2020-03-29/In the media
Last month in this column we couldn't find a theme for February's news coverage of Wikipedia. There was a lone article on the COVID-19 outbreak, "On Wikipedia, a fight is raging over coronavirus disinformation" by Omer Benjakob in Wired on February 9. This month it's almost all COVID-19.
COVID-19 and Wikipedia
- Iran Blocks the Wikipedia Amid Coronavirus Crisis, Says Net Group from the AP via the March 3 Haaretz. Only the Farsi Wikipedia was involved according to the group NetBlocks.
- "How Wikipedia Prevents the Spread of Coronavirus Misinformation" by Noam Cohen on March 15 in Wired was one of the first of many COVID-19 related news stories about Wikipedia this month. More stringent rules are being applied to prevent the spread of misinformation, according to Cohen.
[Wikipedia] has developed a personality, a purpose, a soul. Now, as the new coronavirus outbreak plays out across its many pages, we can see that Wikipedia has also developed a conscience.
- Compare this article to his 2014 article on "Wikipedia Emerges as Trusted Internet Source for Ebola Information" in The New York Times.
- "The Coronavirus Is Stress-Testing Wikipedia’s Policies" by Stephen Harrison in Slate, March 19, emphasizes the importance and difficulty of using Wikipedia's policies and guidelines in an unprecedented situation. What does "the encyclopedia that anyone can edit" mean, when 2,100 editors have edited coronavirus articles and some articles are semiprotected? Policies and guidelines covered include "not news", "reliable sources" and "verifiability".
- "Meet the Wikipedia editors fighting to keep coronavirus pages accurate" in the March 24 Daily Dot concentrates on the sources of misinformation – inexperienced editors, medical studies that don't pass the "smell test", conflict-of-interest editors such as those working for drug or vaccine developers.
- "Looking for information on Coronavirus? Wikipedia it" by Roshni Majumdar in India Today, March 20. Indian editors just started the project "Special Wikipedia Awareness Scheme for The Healthcare Affiliates" or SWASTHA in December to translate Wikipedia's health content into 10 regional languages. Over 500 million people will be using these languages on the internet by next year. It looks like they have a head start now.
- "Wikipedia has COVID-19 information in Bangla, Hindi, Tamil and 6 other Indian languages" in the Hindustan Times follows up on the above story on March 27.
Zika research in the time of COVID-19
- "The impact of news exposure on collective attention in the United States during the 2016 Zika epidemic" by Tizzoni et al was published on March 12 in PLOS Computational Biology. Page views in the US of Zika-related Wikipedia articles such as 2015–16 Zika virus epidemic were highly correlated with the timing of news coverage, but not to the incidence of the disease in particular areas.
- "Wikipedia research on diseases strongly synchronised with news coverage" in Engineering & Technology on March 13 does a good job translating the academic paper to more normal language.
- "Like Zika, The Public Is Heading To Wikipedia During The COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic" Forbes.com contributor Farah Qaiser wrote on March 18, trying to draw parallels with the COVID-19 pandemic.
How many Wikipedians can you quote in one story?
On March 7, before COVID-19 became the only story in the news, Alex Pasternack,, who claims to be a Wikipedia editor, quotes at least nine editors in his FastCompany article, including Jimmy Wales, Ryan Merkley, , , an arbitrator, more than one administrator, and some editors without advanced permissions. A couple of academics were also quoted. Compared to the three love letters Wikipedia received in the media last month, the article is quite realistic describing both our achievements and our challenges. It mentions vandalism, political articles, "one of the most trusted sites on the internet," debunking conspiracy theories, conflicts of interest, paid editing, thousands of small donations, the struggle to retain new editors, biting the newbies, left-wing bias, a Byzantine body of policies and guidelines, assume good faith, and ArbCom. The last several paragraphs are just as densely packed with information, until he slows down for the conclusion. There he goes into detail about his experiences with the new gamified project, WikiLoop Battlefield. He even won a prize there – something like a barnstar.
March has been a time of many articles on the theme of women's biographies and edit-a-thons. This year however, many edit-a-thons were cancelled and news coverage moved to COVID-19.
- "Filling in the gender gap on Wikipedia" in Fortune covers editing women's biographies, while focusing on Earlham College. Wikipedia Lacks Profiles Of Women. These College Students Are Changing That from Cincinnati Public Radio also focuses on Earlham.
- Did 100 new women's biographies in Brussels sprout? The Brussels Times states that was the goal of the March 5 Wikithon.
- Texas Public Media reports on an edit-a-thon sponsored by Artpace and the San Antonio Museum of Art lets participants know how difficult it can be to find information and properly write articles.
- "Art + Feminism Edit-a-thon teaches Wikipedia editing to students" from the Indiana Daily Student
- "Wikipedia project promotes women artists" in Cornell Chronicle
- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill hosted its sixth annual Art + Feminism edit-a-thon as reported by The Daily Tar Heel.
- The Jakarta Post covers efforts by Wikimedia Indonesia and the Swedish Embassy in Jakarta to close the "WikiGap", including recruiting new women editors and translating articles in English into Indonesian and Sundanese.
- High Museum to host virtual Wikipedia edit-a-thon to boost entries about women adapting to social distancing. Ditto for Boston College.
- BroBible – a site that emphasizes the Bro over the Bible: Here Are The 15 Most Interesting Things I Learned On Wikipedia During My First Week Of Self-Isolation joins an increasing number of stories where the author lists "weird" Wikipedia articles. Matt Reigle's list includes actor Norman Lloyd, whose career so far spans 1923–2015; animated character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit whose career spans 1927–2015, and the Greenland shark which can live to be 500 years old.
- Battle of the macrons: Debate about Māori words on Wikipedia ends: Place names in New Zealand based on the Māori language will now get macrons or diacritical marks. Folks in Paekākāriki should be happy.
- Britney Spears enters Wikipedia's athletic records: Her claim to have shattered the 100-meter dash record by four seconds was briefly listed in Wikipedia (Uproxx)