Wikipedia (rules in a knife fight...)

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Wikipedia (rules in a knife fight...)

Unread postby tholden » Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:59 am

Anonymous (at the convention) was discussing ways of trying to deal with Wikipedia and suggested playing by rules and documenting such attempts and has in fact set up at least one website (http://www.wikipediawehaveaproblem.com) for the purpose. In my view, the reality of the thing is more like what you see in the Redford/Newman movie:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPqhm36sjVE

It wasn't clear that he understood what I was suggesting. The idea:

  • Round up 50 - 60 volunteers (should be easy starting from the crowd at Albuquerque...)
  • Target two or three Wiki pages, presumably those for Velikovsky, Dave Talbott, and E
    U.
  • At one week intervals, have each person in turn modify those pages to our liking, and then not be seen on the pages in question for at least a year, basically just vanish.

I do not see how the wikilosers could stop such a numbers game attack. It would be like the way that our air force would shut down an enemy airfield by dropping bombs which embed themselves in the runways and just keep going off at odd times for a protracted period.
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Re: Wikipedia (rules in a knife fight...)

Unread postby Zyxzevn » Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:33 pm

A lot of articles seem to written by teachers that want to explain stuff to their students.
Sometimes it is too complicated because scientists try to promote their work on it.
But I often hate wikipedia for the skeptic articles on interesting stuff.

The solution would be if they made it possible to have multiple views on a certain topic.
That means that a skeptic view is similar to someone believing in the Creation of the bible.
If necessary people can vote for the view that they think is best.
Views can be switched any time.
Debatable topics can be linked, so you can see both sides simultaneously (if you want).

People are smart enough to make up their own minds.
And being able to understand different viewpoints makes people only smarter ;-)
More ** from zyxzevn at: Paradigm change and C@
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Re: Wikipedia (rules in a knife fight...)

Unread postby tholden » Fri Mar 28, 2014 7:59 pm

Zyxzevn wrote:
The solution would be if they made it possible to have multiple views on a certain topic.
That means that a skeptic view is similar to someone believing in the Creation of the bible.
If necessary people can vote for the view that they think is best.
Views can be switched any time.
Debatable topics can be linked, so you can see both sides simultaneously (if you want)....


A completely reasonable idea, but the cliques which run Wikipedia would not allow it, that's the problem...
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Re: Wikipedia (rules in a knife fight...)

Unread postby allynh » Tue May 27, 2014 1:04 pm

HOW A RACCOON BECAME AN AARDVARK
http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/e ... dvark.html
In July of 2008, Dylan Breves, then a seventeen-year-old student from New York City, made a mundane edit to a Wikipedia entry on the coati. The coati, a member of the raccoon family, is “also known as … a Brazilian aardvark,” Breves wrote. He did not cite a source for this nickname, and with good reason: he had invented it. He and his brother had spotted several coatis while on a trip to the Iguaçu Falls, in Brazil, where they had mistaken them for actual aardvarks.

Adding a private gag to a public Wikipedia page is the kind of minor vandalism that regularly takes place on the crowdsourced Web site. When Breves made the change, he assumed that someone would catch the lack of citation and flag his edit for removal.

Over time, though, something strange happened: the nickname caught on. About a year later, Breves searched online for the phrase “Brazilian aardvark.” Not only was his edit still on Wikipedia, but his search brought up hundreds of other Web sites about coatis. References to the so-called “Brazilian aardvark” have since appeared in the Independent, the Daily Mail, and even in a book published by the University of Chicago. Breves’s role in all this seems clear: a Google search for “Brazilian aardvark” will return no mentions before Breves made the edit, in July, 2008. The claim that the coati is known as a Brazilian aardvark still remains on its Wikipedia entry, only now it cites a 2010 article in the Telegraph as evidence.

This kind of feedback loop—wherein an error that appears on Wikipedia then trickles to sources that Wikipedia considers authoritative, which are in turn used as evidence for the original falsehood—is a documented phenomenon. There’s even a Wikipedia article describing it. Some of the most well-known examples involve Wikipedia entries for famous people, such as when users edited the article on the British actor Sacha Baron Cohen to say he had worked at Goldman Sachs. When a Wikipedia editor tried to remove the apocryphal detail, it took some convincing. Because it had since appeared in several articles on Cohen in the British press, the burden was on Wikipedians to disprove the myth.

“As a long-time Wikipedia editor, it frustrates me when journalists don’t fact check Wikipedia and end up reproducing errors, because Wikipedia can only work the way it does if we have reliable sources to cite,” Stuart Geiger, a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Information wrote in an e-mail. When theoretically trustworthy sources err, absurd moments can result. Geiger, who has researched the dissemination of information on Wikipedia, points to the case of the Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales’s birthday. Until recently, Encyclopedia Britannica said that it was August 7th, citing Wales’s marriage certificate. Wales says that his marriage certificate contains an error, and that his actual birthday is August 8th. But Wikipedia and several other mainstream sources have followed Encyclopedia Britannica’s lead and listed his birthday as August 7th. Though Wales has told journalists this story, Wikipedia’s rules value a multitude of independent sources over the word of an article’s subject. And so, the founder of Wikipedia could not get the Web site to reflect what is—according to Wales, at least—his actual birthday. (“Jimmy could be making this all up to make a point about Wikipedia, after all,” Geiger said.)

This gets at an unsettling phenomenon that Stephen Colbert once dubbed Wikiality: the idea that “any user can change any entry, and if enough users agree with them it becomes true.” No matter that Jimmy Wales says he came into this world on August 8th. The consensus says he is wrong. Colbert played with this idea by declaring that Warren Harding was a “secret Negro President.” As proof, he cited an altered version of Harding’s Wikipedia entry. (Colbert failed, in this case, to create enough of a consensus for the change to remain on Wikipedia.) Wikipedia is an experiment in crowdsourcing as much human knowledge as possible, and the logical outcome of that process is that the wisdom of the crowd often rules—as insensible as the crowd can be.

Jimmy Wales’s battle for his birthday and the mischievous edits of Stephen Colbert are amusing, but probably harmless. They have been aired for the public to see. And, in recent years, Wikipedia has made it more difficult to insert unsubstantiated facts into entries. The example of the coati’s new nickname is more insidious, though, because it points to the longstanding existence of errors so minor, obscure, or inconsequential that no one notices and, eventually, they adopt the veneer of truth. Just how many dull facts in this world originated because someone birthed them on Wikipedia? Disproving the idea that coatis are known as “Brazilian aardvarks” might be impossible at this point, not because Wikipedia’s rules make it difficult to cite “a lack of references to ‘Brazilian aardvarks’ in published materials before July 2008” as a source but because it is not technically false. On the Internet, at least, coatis are, in fact, occasionally known as Brazilian aardvarks, and there are numerous references to prove it.

Taxonomically speaking, this is unfortunate. The coati has no more relation to an aardvark than to any other vertebrate, so the name is misleading. But language, unlike taxonomy, is particularly susceptible to Wikiality. The nickname began because Breves wanted to retroactively prove that he had seen some kind of aardvark at Iguazu Falls. He was more successful than he ever could have imagined. Search YouTube for “coatis at Iguaçu Falls,” and you’ll get an amateur video, posted by someone Breves has never met, titled “Coati - (Brazilian aardvark) at Iguaçu Falls, Argentina.” Breves made his own reality, and, thanks to Wikipedia, we’ve all accepted it.

Photograph by Wayne Lynch/Getty.
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