Category Archives: Wikipedia

Wikipedia founder wades into the fake war on fake news

File:Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg

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From Alex Hern at the Guardian:

Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, is launching a new online publication which will aim to fight fake news by pairing professional journalists with an army of volunteer community contributors.

Wikitribune plans to pay for the reporters by raising money from a crowdfunding campaign.

Wales intends to cover general issues, such as US and UK politics, through to specialist science and technology.

Those who donate will become supporters, who in turn will have a say in which subjects and story threads the site focuses on. And Wales intends that the community of readers will fact-check and subedit published articles.More.

The process described is elsewhere called propaganda. Translation:

Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, is launching a new online publication which will aim to [put out information that we want people to accept and believe] by pairing [paid oppo research writers] with an army of [people who support the cause and thus have an influence on its direction].

Wikitribune plans to pay for the [cause’s oppo research writers] by raising money from [the faithful].

Possible new wrinkle:

And Wales intends that the [faithful, best known for zeal rather than expertise] will fact-check and subedit published articles.

What could possibly go wrong with that last bit?  Well, at least it will sound like Wikipedia

(For a small snippet of list of reasons not to trust Wikipedia, go here, also appended below).

This recent obsession with “fake news” seems part of a long-term trend toward reputation management for censorship. Media streams have always been full of fake news. It gets noticed when establishments are losing control because their beliefs and interests diverge widely from those of the readers.

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Infogalactic as honest Wikipedia competitor?

Here:

Infogalactic is an Internet-based, free-content encyclopedia project that is a dynamic fork of Wikipedia and improves upon the online encyclopedia’s model of openly editable content. Infogalactic’s pages are interlinked in order to connect the user to related pages with additional information, and are categorized in a variety of ways, including Relativity, Notability, and Reliability to allow the user to prioritize his personalized perspective.

Infogalactic is written collaboratively by volunteers who contribute and edit without compensation. Anyone with Internet access can create and make changes to Infogalactic articles, except in limited cases where editing is restricted to prevent disruption or vandalism. Users can contribute anonymously, under a pseudonym, or with their real identity.

The foundational principles by which Infogalactic operates are very different from the Five Pillars of Wikipedia. These principles are known as the Seven Canons of Infogalactic.

Infogalactic does not share the highly centralized structure of Wikipedia or the ideological dogma of the Wikimedia Foundation. The primary requirements are for the information contributed to be true, relevant, and verifiable, rather than cited from a so-called “published reliable source”, since experience has proven how reliance upon the latter can be easily gamed by editors and administrators alike. There is no culture of notability, ideology, or deletionism at Infogalactic. The addition of perspective filters and two levels of Context and Opinion to every page means that the average editor’s contribution is much less likely to be deleted for political reasons or fall victim to edit wars over controversial pages.

Infogalactic is designed around the idea that the user should be permitted to decide what information is relevant to him, not 500 ideologically-driven thought police.

Infogalactic is genuinely committed to becoming the Planetary Knowledge Core. In practical terms, that means corporate and autobiographical information is welcomed, so long as the information contributed abides by the principles laid out in the Seven Canons. Advertising, marketing, and sales-related materials are not allowed, but employees are encouraged to provide factual information such as locations, open hours, and contact details on the relevant page about their company.

Reality check: Hurry to bookmark it before even minimal efforts at honesty go out of style.

See also: Why I never use Wikipedia except to find out which photos are in the public domain:

How Wikipedia can turn fiction into fact Once enough canards are in circulation, entire fictional scenarios can be created that are difficult to confute because they appear to be well-sourced via constant repetition.

Meet the Seven Deadly Sins Actually, I think that “Wikipedia is my library” should be the new definition of sloth.

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Wikipedia’s declining stats

From Paul Furber at Brainstorm:

Wikipedia lost at least 300 million views in 2015, dropping it from the fifth most viewed website on the planet down to the tenth. This is a good thing for a number of reasons. It started as a good idea in 2001 — an encyclopaedia that anyone could edit. Unfortunately, it’s now a quagmire of bureaucracy, infighting, corruption and agenda-pushing.

Try to edit any article that an established editor regards as their pet project and you’ll find your edits reverted in double quick time, regardless of whether you have reliable sources for your edit. Complain about this and you’ll get banned. You personally may be a reliable source, but that won’t matter: Wikipedia doesn’t even allow people to correct information about themselves unless it comes from a third party.

Some editors are untouchable no matter how many rules they break. And the number of arbitrary rules behind the scenes is staggering, all of them tagged with strange acronyms like WP:BLP and WP:NPOV. More.

The moral of the story is, creative disorganization is fun but it is still disorganization, and that matters.

Co-ordinated smoke signals would be a big improvement.

See also: How Wikipedia can turn fiction into fact (Sourced enough times, the fiction becomes “troo”)

Wikipedia hacked by elite sources now (The main problem is that the people who use Wikipedia do not care whether it is false or true. “Wikipedia is my library” is the new diagnostic for irresponsible laziness.)

and

Mathematician complains Wikipedia is promoting “pseudo-science” of multiverse (Then there were the minor revelations that core articles “don’t earn even Wikipedia’s own middle-ranking quality scores” and that some “editors” are paid by outside sources.)

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What kind of an idiot would pay any attention to Wikipedia after this?

Anyone who can watch this February 2015 vid (“Astroturf and manipulation of media messages”) by news veteran Sharyl Atkisson and still have any respect for Wikipedia had better start figuring out what kind of idiot they are. For their own protection. Know thyself, and all that.

(Wikipedia is only part of the astroturf story, but it’s a pretty sizeable part. And to think we thought pages on ID were a special bad case.)

In this eye-opening talk, veteran investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson shows how astroturf, or fake grassroots movements funded by political, corporate, or other special interests very effectively manipulate and distort media messages.

Sharyl Attkisson is an investigative journalist based in Washington D.C. She is currently writing a book entitled Stonewalled (Harper Collins), which addresses the unseen influences of corporations and special interests on the information and images the public receives every day in the news and elsewhere. For twenty years (through March 2014), Attkisson was a correspondent for CBS News. In 2013, she received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for her reporting on “The Business of Congress,” which included an undercover investigation into fundraising by Republican freshmen. She also received Emmy nominations in 2013 for Benghazi: Dying for Security and Green Energy Going Red. Additionally, Attkisson received a 2013 Daytime Emmy Award as part of the CBS Sunday Morning team’s entry for Outstanding Morning Program for her report: “Washington Lobbying: K-Street Behind Closed Doors.” In September 2012, Attkisson also received an Emmy for Oustanding Investigative Journalism for the “Gunwalker: Fast and Furious” story. She received the RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Investigative Reporting for the same story. Attkisson received an Investigative Emmy Award in 2009 for her exclusive investigations into TARP and the bank bailout. She received an Investigative Emmy Award in 2002 for her series of exclusive reports about mismanagement at the Red Cross.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

Personally I (O’Leary for News) don’t think the problem can be fixed. Wikipedia’s basic premise is wrong.

The whole world is not going to edit an encyclopedia for free.

If it is not edited by the usual literary hacks, it will be edited by flacks, trolls, and dullards.

See also: How Wikipedia can turn fiction into fact (Sourced enough times, the fiction becomes “troo”)

Wikipedia hacked by elite sources now (The main problem is that the people who use Wikipedia do not care whether it is false or true. “Wikipedia is my library” is the new diagnostic for irresponsible laziness.)

and

Mathematician complains Wikipedia is promoting “pseudo-science” of multiverse (Then there were the minor revelations that core articles “don’t earn even Wikipedia’s own middle-ranking quality scores” and that some “editors” are paid by outside sources.)

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

My comment Uncommon Descent (this is crossposted):

UprightBiped at 1: What Atkisson is doing used to be called “investigative journalism.” You know, Woodward and Bernstein?
That was before fact morphed into “narrative” and media into PR for progressive government.

awstar at 2: New media make the research task much easier. Put seriously, if you were not on Uncommon Descent, would you know all that stuff about Wikipedia? Who was going to tell you, for free? The trick is learning to use the free news services and search engines prudently. Please do remember us at Christmas though. We don’t have “lifestyles” but we do have costs.

jimmontg at 3: Excellent example, thanks! People sometimes think we are only sore because of the crappy and uninformative poisoned-well pages on ID. Those people are mistaken. Our experience caused us to start accumulating evidence from the experience of others, resulting in some damning indictments.

If anyone cares, that is. One still hears lazy teachers explaining that Wikipedia is “free” or “easy”or “a good source.”

It should not be allowed on school servers, nor should students be permitted to source to it directly, unless “Wikipedia” is the topic.

 

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Wikipedia rocked by ‘rogue editors’ blackmail scam targeting small businesses and celebrities

Hundreds of small British businesses and minor celebrities have been targeted by a sophisticated blackmail scam orchestrated by “rogue editors” at Wikipedia, The Independent can reveal.

The victims, who range from a wedding photographer in Dorset to a high-end jewellery shop in Shoreditch, east London, faced demands for hundreds of pounds to “protect” or update Wikipedia pages about their businesses. A former Britain’s Got Talent contestant was among dozens of individuals targeted.

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