I just mention this a kind of journalistic experiment. Here in DC we
have a free weekly called "The City Paper." I think it's terrific. They
have a standing feature called something like "Mistakes in the
Washington Post." Their readers and editors scour the paper for
boo-boos. It's both funny and enlightening. The WP is a great paper,
and it takes pains to be right. But neither The Post nor any other paper
can be 100% correct. Most people don't realize this. If the community
at Wikipedia looked carefully at the NYT for one day or a week, I'm sure
you'd come up with quite a list. This list, in turn, would get picked
up by the press. I'm certain of it.
All the Best,
Marshall Poe, Ph.D.
The Atlantic Monthly
600 New Hampshire Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20037
[mailto:wikipedia-l-bounces@Wikimedia.org] On Behalf Of James R. Johnson
Sent: Wednesday, December 07, 2005 10:51 PM
Subject: RE: [Wikipedia-l] NYT to forbid use of Wikipedia as a
So true. Jayson Blair, anyone? And how many other
errors/omissions/biases on the NYT could we list if we tried?
[mailto:wikipedia-l-bounces@Wikimedia.org] On Behalf Of Daniel Mayer
Sent: Wednesday, December 07, 2005 10:00 PM
Subject: Re: [Wikipedia-l] NYT to forbid use of Wikipedia as a
--- Stan Shebs <shebs(a)apple.com> wrote:
> >From: http://poynter.org/forum/view_post.asp?id=10748
> You mean the "Paper of Record" has been using WP to check their facts?
> Don't they realize how frequently we use *them* as a source? Shades of
> the Cheney/Miller echo chamber, geez...
Very, very good point. We should work up a page that lists all their big
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Times#Recent_controversies is a
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Thanks to Brion, who pointed out the matter of readabilty to me.
Accordingly, please allow me another, nicely formatted and more to the
It has been said that Wikipedia is „work in progress“ and will probably
continue to do so. On the other hand it ails from the fact that at no
given point in time you can be certain to have a simultaneously
consistent (with respect to various articles on a similar topic)
correct (with respect to a single article) throughout Wikipedia
From my point of view, compared to those three points the shortcoming
of the non-completeness of WP dwindles to almost nothing.
Let me draw your attention to the fact that the construction plans for
roads to stability – or at least local optima – have long been laid out
by physics. Heat a dynamic system quickly then let it cool down in a
slower and controlled fashion, allowing less and less dramatic changes
to take place as time passes. Simulated annealing
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulated_annealing) is the magic spell
that might work for wikixyzs in a way similar to that in the real world.
The rationale behind my suggestion is of course that articles that have
matured over time are - statistically speaking - less likely to improve
when large modifications are made than relatively new ones. Some of the
articles have reached a stage where well-meant editing effectively mucks
up the inner structure and logic.
What I think reasonable is to lift the threshold for substantial edits,
maybe not by limiting access but by asking for more substantial
background information from the authors (references, printed,
electronic,...) than the simple comment line. There is too much unproven
and partially unprovable information in the WP. That could have been
prevented long ago by obliging the authors to give references for their
information. Besides, this task would make it successively harder to
simply put established statements upside down. Whereas scientific
journals have peer review to prevent superfluous or erroneous
contributions, WP only offers the weak weapons of discussion pages (for
everyone) and reverts (mostly by admins, who can't always claim
erudition in all the domains they are watching, I guess).
So why not confer a little bit more of responsibility to the authors!?
He/she could be aided by predefined lists, checkboxes, comboboxes (for
ref.type, etc.). Asking a little more information from authors could be
a substantial part of the rising editing threshold necessary for
"cooling down" WP a bit.
I find myself increasingly involved in hunting down vandals and their
work – partly due to the ease of use WP offers for non-serious edits,
too, and I can‘t help feeling that a larger and larger part of WP keeps
a larger and larger part of the community busy with just keeping up the
existing standard. We mustn't be sure of still finding enthusiatic
acclaim in the years to come when WP becomes a battlefield in a fight
against distracting, redundant or plain wrong infobits.
Comments from both the user/admin and developer side welcome.
I want to write also the features that I think this conversion system should
*automatic making of links between the 2 versions when a new article is
written in one of the scripts to allow an easy leaping between them
*a function to point out the pieces of text that are not wanted for
*also to appear in "history" fom which script was done the edit.
although I am really glad that i spurred such a lifely discussion over
"stability" matters, let me make a few remarks as to what I think is
taking the wrong direction.
First of all, I never proposed a filtered view on WP for the general
public. There are deficiences, vandalisms and all in it and I can see
simply no way to come up with a stable version however you might define
that out of the blue at this stage. Some of your comments indicated that
there should be editing in the background of the article that should
somehow be promoted to the front - given the changes have reached a
qualitatively satisfying level. Frankly, I do NOT believe in such a
method which would require splitting the community into less and more
On the contrary, my proposal was and still is: Leave the view on the
data alone, do not try to nominated a board of editor's editors but
RAISE the threshold for offhanded edits by absolutely requiring a
minimum of reference / source information besides the comment line. This
information should be as immutable as the comment line and not included
in the article ("==References=="). This should make it successively
harder and harder for matured articles to insert contradicting
information (I am not mentioning confusing information due to the
editor's lack to express him/herself!) So far nobody has convinced me
of the contrary.
The question remains what we should mean by "matured" and which
indicators we should use for quantifying maturity of an article. The raw
number of edits is completely out of question if the length of the edit
(insertions/deletions/modifications) is not taken into account for
weighting them - effectively making the weight of the edit proportional
to something like the Mahalanobis or the edit-distance known from
Please, folks, read again carefully and try to get away from "filtered
view" phantasies. Let's not revolutionize WP. Let's simply raise the
minimal editing standards just a wee little bit - which would be
revolutionary enough - for my taste.
At dumps.wikimedia.org the last dump of the Japanese and Korean
Wikipedia was made on 2005-10-29. Why there are no more recent dumps
and could someone fix ist?
www.wikisign.org - SQL-Abfragen durchführen
> I'll give you a hypothetical case. In Switzerland,
> Italian is an official language.
> Now let's say that until 1990, Swiss Italian was written
> in a different alphabet.
> After 1990, there was a significant movement to revert
> back to the Latin alphabet,
> and nowadays everyone uses Latin alphabet in Switzerland
> when writing Italian, except for a few
> who still prefer the old alphabet. Would it.wiki accept
> this new alphabet as part of a biscriptal Wikipedia?
> Considering that, say, out of a total of 70 million
> Italian speakers, only about 200,000 people still write
> in this strange alphabet,and of those, 180,000 can write
> well in the Latin alphabet? The case is similar to what
> the Moldovan-Cyrillic case is today.
As a total outsider who has never been to Moldova, one more aspect has
come to my mind while reading the above lines:
Does the fact that a small minority of people might prefer to use
the Cyrillic script for private purposes justify the enormous
effort of building an entire encyclopedia for them - while they
know the Latin script?
My point is: if a society generelly uses one script (which seems
to be so according to everything I have heard from our fellow
Wikipedians who know the country as well as the language) it doesn't
really matter if an individual likes another script better. They will
have to adapt to the common standard if they want to read the paper,
a current book, the phone book, the signs in public places, labels
on products etc., make they annual tax declaration, do business, get
a job, ride a train ... So are any severe reasons for Wikipedia to make
an exception here?
Having said that, there is still one open question: the issue of
Transnistria which does not make things easier and may not be forgotten,
But luckily, there are quite a number of Wikipedians here who know
much, much more about the whole situation than I do - and they all
seem determined to bring about an intelligent solution. So I am convinced
the issue will be settled for good pretty soon.
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Thanks for your reply, V. Ivanov!
> You probably don't know the history of the language well.
That's right. I didn't mean to cause any other impression. Neither did
I want to question the existance of content in Cyrillic in general. I only
wanted to point out that the discontentment with the current way Wikipedia
handles this issue ought to be taken seriously.
> You probably don't know the history of the language well. In fact both
> Romanian and Moldovans has been Orthodox Christians and used Cyrillic
> script for several ages.
I knew that the Cyrillic script had been used in Moldova before the Soviet
era. I must admit that the fact that it has been used in Romania as well is
completely new to me.
> By the way, do you know much about the unfree days? They were not totally that "unfree".
> :) Be more neutral. ;)
Of course I don't know so much about them for I grew up in Western Europe.
What I do know is the way officials (not the people in general, of course!)
treated us and other tourists during a visit in the Eastern Bloc (I could tell
some appalling things but they don't belong here). I also remember how
every how each and every letter we sent to friends at other side of the
"Iron Curtain" (or that they sent to us) was opened and read by people
for whom it was not intended. Or how there was a third person in every phone call.
Or how the secret service stole Christmas or birthday gifts we sent to our friends.
But maybe I should have been a little more careful with my wording nevertheless,
like your reaction shows.
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Why is there not a big, fat, clear warning at the top of every article that this
is a work in progess, has not been formally reviewed, may contain factual
inaccuracies or vandalism, and *should not* be used for reference without a very
large grain of salt?
I've gotten tired of having to remind people (even Wikipedians) that Wikipedia
is still a draft, and that we have *ZERO* reviewed-and-vetted-for-the-public
pages yet. We don't even have a review system in place yet.
The "Disclaimer" on en.wikipedia.org, such as it is, isn't even *visible*. You
have to scroll down to the *very bottom* to see a tiny "Disclaimers" link, and
then follow *that*. The other languages, do they even all *have* disclaimer pages?
Every time somebody discovers some bit of inaccurate or embarrassing something
in an article and trumps it up in their blog/magazine/international TV news
network, the hoo-hah is because we're seen as pretending to be a reliable or
respectable information source. *WE ARE NOT SUCH YET* and we need to make sure
that we're not seen to be claiming that.
We're not just a bunch of geeks hacking together articles anymore; we get
umpteen bajillion page views from random folks who probably don't have a clue
what we're about, and we get waaaayy too much attention that's based on the
impression that we're serving the public directly already. The recent affair is
just one in a long series of small and large fusses because we're not being
clear about what we are.
Wikipedia is a draft, and drafts that are circulated in public need to be
explicitly marked as such.
-- brion vibber (brion @ pobox.com)