Wikipedia talk:Wikipedia Signpost/2010-03-22/In the news
- I'm unenthusiastic about the video campaign. I expect we'll mostly get videos of very little use added to articles with the way the campaign is going. I also think that there is really a limit to the number of videos that can sensibly go in one article (but there certainly is no limit to the number of videos that can go on Wikimedia Commons). —innotata 20:55, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
This article on the Chronicle of Higher Education's blog was unfortunately published too late to be included in the Signpost story, but it contains some interesting comments by the general director of the Open Video Alliance (about ongoing talks with universities). Regards, HaeB (talk) 16:13, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
- Seems even more dubious. Watermarked low-resolution videos of lectures? I hope not. —innotata 15:11, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
Citizendium and Shirky
This week I somehow ended up as the main Signpost reporter for the "News and notes"and "In the news" sections, including the coverage of O'Neil's article. In that capacity, I'll refrain from adding my own observations to that summary, or turning it into a full-fledged review (last year Ragesoss wrote one of O'Neil's book, but as he is acknowledged in this paper for comments, I assume he won't do so now).
But having given a talk on Citizendium at last year's Wikimania which touched many of the same topics (including an interpretation of CZ's disappointing statistics as vindication of Shirky's 2006 criticism), I can't resist adding some remarks here on the talk page:
- Perhaps surprisingly, several independent commentators (Connolley among them) have voiced concern that Citizendium might actually be more hostile to scientific experts in some cases, in favor of what critics would call pseudoscience or fringe science. The folks at Rationalwiki offer a scathing criticism of Citizendium as a "crank magnet". Topics where Citizendium's coverage has been subjected to such criticism include homeopathy, memory of water, Intelligent Design, Young Earth Creationism, global warming and chiropractic. Conversely, Citizendium has been praised by opponents of mainstream science views, such as homeopathy lobbyist Dana Ullman (who got banned for a year on Wikipedia, but managed to get his Citizendium article on homeopathy approved status), or the climate change sceptics at the right-wing Heartland Institute, which recommend the Citizendium article on Global Warming on their home page . I believe that this seemingly counter-intuitive development merits further research. To me, one reason appears to be that some of Sanger's assumptions about experts (to exaggerate: debates among academics are always civil, only dumb laypersons ever disagree with an expert, anybody with a PhD has to be regarded an authority in his area) are too simplistic. The problem is exacerbated by the lack of participation and by civility policies encouraging "ownership" issues of the kind that O'Neil mentioned (in the case of Wikipedia) on p.4.
- Besides the stagnating or shrinking participation numbers, another telling metric which is not obvious from the diagrams at citizendium:CZ:Statistics is the shrinking median article size (that diagram ends July 2009, but the downward trend has since continued).
- "Inconsistency" (of article quality) can - and should - also be regarded as a cost of Citizendium's approach (after all, it is still wiki-based and open to everyone). The project readily admits that most of its articles are in an unfinished ("live") state. But one of its central tenets is that the small number of its "approved articles" do provide the kind of certainty that the reader is missing at Wikipedia:
- "Our 121 expert-approved articles are reliable and of world-class quality, rivaling the best printed encyclopedias."
- This is a dubious claim, as is evident from the list I compiled here: User:HaeB/Citizendium approved errors (many of them basic proofreading oversights which would certainly not be expected at Britannica, WP:EBE notwithstanding).
- Independently, the OnWikipedia blog recently examined one Approved CZ article and found numerous grammatical errors and factual inaccuracies, too. (Their analysis of the reasons for the "failure of Citizendium" is worth reading, it agrees with some of O'Neil's conclusions and adds others.)
- It seems quite clear that an important reason for such quality problems is the complicated bureaucratic process required to make changes to an already approved article, and the inability of outsiders to correct errors in any article (or even just notify CZ of them). And despite of its failure to catch the errors in these examples, the approval process itself seems cumbersome and time-consuming; the number of approved articles has stagnated at 121 since mid-December.
- O'Neil's article also does not describe the costs of CZ's real name policy, which in my observation are considerable. Not only the cost of enforcing it (after self-registration brought in fake identities and vandalism, CZ tightened the process and made it quite cumbersome), but especially the privacy concerns which are associated with having one's actions (even minuscule ones like a typo correction) publicly recorded, with precise time stamps, forever . For example, Wikiweise (a fork of the German Wikipedia bearing many similarities to CZ), disabled contribution lists for users, to balance their own real name disclosure requirement .
- The link in footnote 9 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration/Climate_change_dispute_-_Final_decision) is not working, Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration/Climate_change_dispute#Final_decision seems to be the intended location.
- The Seigenthaler case is perhaps not the best example for the "Irresponsibility" point, as the perpetrator in that case was actually identified and temporarily lost his job because of his actions on Wikipedia.
- But overall, O'Neil's article is certainly very well informed and factually accurate (even in comparison with other academic writing about Wikipedia). One thing I really liked was the insightful comparisons of mass online collaboration as exemplified by Wikipedia (to avoid the controversial "crowdsourcing" term) to hacker culture, including a careful look at the differences and the problems they create on Wikipedia. I don't know if these ideas have been formulated elsewhere, but the paper certainly deserves to be cited for them alone.
- I found both the article proper, and your commentary here, to be well-written and informative. The article proper appears well balanced and fair, and even your commentary makes it clear what your opinions are and why you hold them. I say good job! —DragonHawk (talk|hist) 00:55, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
- Agreed. Thanks HaeB. Rd232 talk 12:19, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
How to earn $30,000 within one week by making Wikipedia content just a little more accessible
An interesting fact about the reviewed iPhone app: According to the company, "Within a short week, Articles [for iPhone] sold over 10,000 copies."