I hope this is a good place to send a weighty message to Wikipedia.
You’ll want to read all through.
I am a scientist who has always liked the Wikipedia idea, and I like
your implementation. Lately I’ve started making contributions.
Although I’m a cognitive scientist who taught biological psychology at
degree level for several years and have done AI research since the
‘80’s, I’ve diverted for a decade or more to resolve a set of major
Fairly peripheral but within the overall project was an investigation
of bird breathing, and I decided to piece together the research into
it, and deliver it properly to the public. Trust me, the finer
details were obscure. On the way I discovered why penguins’ lungs
don’t collapse even at 500m when whales’ lungs collapse by 100m; I
found out what the neopulmo did (though not why) and why penguins
don’t have it, and I changed our understanding of flow within it; I
also resolved the old chestnut of whether birds had counter-current
exchange in their lungs. That is, completely discovered, not just for
myself. By careful editing and addition including the long overdue
diagram the subject needed, I converted the two Wikipedia pages
dealing with bird breathing from an incomplete mire to a place of
revelation (though the German version needs starting afresh, and
Duncker agrees). But it was an honour do so.
More central to my overall project was cladogenesis, the heart of
palaeontology and just the thing that I, as an MSc in info. sys.
engineering would be expected to get into. I’ve written my own clad.
software, invented and implemented my own heuristic version, proved
the theorem in graph theory that resolves an issue in checking
evolutionary trees by time and rooting them, and highlighted a serious
statistical fallacy invalidating another major current of work in the
time-checking of trees.
In these activities I was almost entirely alone as regards other
workers in the overall field, since that field, dinobird
palaeontology, is notorious for its abuse of the lack of scientific
and indeed academic constraint that all historical disciplines are
prey to. Applicants for research positions into that biological
science, which relies heavily on computer science and statistics, are
usually accepted with just a geology first degree. Put succinctly but
honestly, the standard of science amongst professional dinobird
palaeontologists is crap, so much so that I’ve never taken the idea of
publishing formally in the field very seriously. I do from time to
time in AI, but any scientist with something sensible to say in
dinobird palaeo will always be violating sacred errors and be blocked.
Although useless, the field is very proud and stubborn.
But there is a layer of humanity too stupid even to become
professional palaeontologists – and guess what? They’ve established a
self-aggrandising population in the basement of Wikipedia, grooming
their egos by becoming gatekeepers. I’m sick of the sight of their
pathetic award stars.
I wasn’t surprised; in fact I’d been surprised by the ease with which
my bird-lung editing had been accepted, which is why I’d turned my
attention to another problem page that was actually even more of a
Most people, even those interested in the subject, have no idea why
dromaeosaurs had such strange claws, teeth and tails. Many even doubt
that the special foot claw was a weapon. And because they have no
understanding of the vital importance of backtracking in knowledge
engineering, they can’t escape the rut of believing dromaeosaurs were
“pre” flight (“pre” of course being a very dodgy evolutionary
concept). But solving this kind of thing was easy compared to related
subjects, and other visionaries such as Paul and Osmolska had made
their contributions and published some of the basics. The four-winged
flight of volant dromaeosaurs was harder but I found a solution to
that too (...though you’re not going to like it; even I didn’t).
I know what you’re thinking – Original Work. But of course that was
taken account of: much of the problem with the Velociraptor page was
balance – some theories had been simply ignored, even though works
mentioning them were already in the citation list. Other problems
were solved by pointing out glaring illogicalities: ensuring the
explanation of a difference between two things must be based on some
other difference applying to them. Things like that don’t need
citations, things that needed them were given them, and when necessary
I cited my own book. That after all is very common in Wikipedia, and
there’s no point frowning on the basic principle (especially when it’s
a good book!).
As you may have guessed or already knew, anyone bringing much-needed
but unfamiliar and unwelcome science (i.e. any science) to dinobird
palaeontology is automatically put on the hate list and from then on
it’s just sociology. Pointing out that modern science knows better
than to talk of “facts”, is the kind of thing that sets the idiots
off, but is one essential principle Wikipedia needs to take on board.
Luckily the pseudo-scientists usually give themselves away, as they
did on the Velociraptor page most bizarrely. First, they insisted the
tail couldn’t bend vertically, alongside a picture showing the last
two-thirds bending up through 60º. Then they insisted its prey only
had one leg whereas two could be seen even in the thumbnail. No
accusations of original work at risk there. Nonetheless they kept on
reversing EVERYTHING I’d written – the illogicality-busting, the
theory-balance restoration, and even corrections to their crap which
was contradicted by the images in front of their eyes.
The result? Someone’s stopped the repeated reversals, and of course,
they chose to stop it on the lunatic side. Irrespective of the
“Protection is not an endorsement of the current text” message, this
“temporary” status is a massive insult to science, which is why it’s
important, and a massive insult to me which has ensured my action.
I’m going to find the 100 most influential loud-mouthed Wiki-haters on
the net, show them the crucial photos, and the illogicalities, and I
hope I’m going to be able to say: “Look – some tiny-minded
pseudo-scientists started to infect Wikipedia filling even science
pages with blatant rubbish, but see how good it is? It put them in
I know an organisation of your size won’t bother with anything that
can’t affect it, and I haven’t time to dissolve you with charm. I’m
considering removing all the good work I’ve done in the bird breathing
pages, and their talk pages that explain it, as a token of what you’ll
lose if you reward my kind of work with insults. I was happy to give
it free but people can always buy the book. Put it back if you want,
but if you don’t, the pages will lose a lot and if you do you’ll
underline my value. And of course there’s the stuff above that could
go one way or another depending on you. Much will be done before the
election and as much as is necessary when it’s over. Don’t just hand
this over to another of the dinosaur Wiki-wankers, and don’t let them
keep spuriously using the word “source” to justify feeding the world
John V. Jackson.
[Apologies for cross-posting; this concerns all Wikimedia projects]
Posted today on the Wikimedia Tech Blog:
Wikimedia sites to move to primary data center in Ashburn, Virginia
Next week, the Wikimedia Foundation will transition its main technical
operations to a new data center in Ashburn, Virginia, USA. This is intended
to improve the technical performance and reliability of all Wikimedia
sites, including Wikipedia.
Engineering teams have been preparing for the migration to minimize
inconvenience to our users, but major service disruption is still expected
during the transition. Our sites will be in read-only mode for some time,
and may be intermittently inaccessible. Users are advised to be patient
during those interruptions, and share
case of continued outage or loss of functionality.
The current target windows for the migration are January 22nd, 23rd and
24th, 2013, from 17:00 to 01:00 UTC (see other
Wikimedia sites have been hosted in our main data center in Tampa, Florida,
since 2004; before that, the couple of servers powering Wikipedia were in
San Diego, California. Ashburn is the third and newest primary data center
to host Wikimedia sites.
A major reason for choosing Tampa, Florida as the location of the primary
data center in 2004 was its proximity to founder Jimmy Wales’ home, at a
time when he was much more involved in the technical operations of the
site. In 2009, the Wikimedia Foundation’s Technical Operations team started
other locations with better network connectivity and more clement
weather. Located in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Ashburn offers
faster and more reliable connectivity than Tampa, and usually fewer
The Operations team started to plan and prepare for the Virginia data
center in Summer 2010. The actual build-out and racking of servers at the
colocation facility started in February 2011, and was followed by a long
period of hardware, system and software configuration. Traffic started to
be served to users from the Ashburn data center in November 2011, in the
We reached a major milestone in February 2012, when caching servers were
set up to handle read-only requests for Wikipedia and Wikimedia content,
which represent most of the traffic to Wikipedia and its sister sites. In
April 2012, the Ashburn data center also started to serve media files (from
Cacheable requests represent about 90 percent of our traffic, leaving 10
percent that requires interaction with our web (Apache) and database
(MySQL) servers, which are still being hosted in Tampa. Until now, every
edit made to a Wikipedia page has been handled by the servers in Tampa.
This dependency on our Tampa data center was responsible for the site
outage in August
when a fiber cut severed the connection between our two locations.
Starting next week, the new servers in Ashburn will take on that role as
well, and all our sites will be able to function fully without relying on
the servers in Florida. The legacy data center in Tampa will continue to be
maintained, and will serve as a secondary “hot failover” data center:
servers will be in standby mode to take over, should the primary site
experiences an outage. Server configuration and data will be synchronized
between the two locations to ensure a transition as smooth as possible in
case of technical difficulties in Ashburn.
Besides just installing newer hardware, setting up the data center in
Ashburn has also been an opportunity for architecture overhauls, like
incremental improvements of the text storage
and the move to an entirely new media storage
keep up with the growth of the content generated and curated by our
Wikimedia’s technical infrastructure aims to be as open and collaborative
as the sites it powers. Most of the configuration of our
publicly accessible, and the Wikimedia
allows contributors to test and submit improvements to the
sites’ configuration files.
The Wikimedia Foundation currently operates a total of about 885 servers,
and serves about 20 billion page views a month, on a non-profit budget that
relies almost entirely on donations from readers.
Three days left! This is also about new user groups and thematical
organisations for individual projects, so forwarding.
(Plus, it's been a while since our last all-projects mass-crossposting.
-------- Messaggio originale --------
Oggetto: Re: [Wikimedia-l] The Affiliations Committee is looking for
Data: Tue, 8 Jan 2013 16:46:05 +0100
A: Wikimedia Mailing List
this is the last reminder that the call will be closing on January 12 -
this is four days from now.
Please share the call for candidates on relevant fora.
2013/1/2 Lodewijk <lodewijk(a)effeietsanders.org>
> Dear all,
> I would like to take this opportunity to remind you all that the
> Affiliations Committee is still looking for candidates! Applications can be
> sent in until 12 January as explained below.
> Do you understand how Wikimedia works as an organization, and would you
> like to help new organizations to get started? Then please apply! I hope
> for many high quality applications!
> 2012/12/12 Bence Damokos <bdamokos(a)gmail.com>
>> Dear all,
>> The Affiliations Committee , the committee that is responsible for
>> guiding volunteers in establishing Chapters, User Groups and Thematic
>> Organizations ("affiliates" in short) and approving them when they are
>> ready is looking for about 6 new members.
>> The main focus of AffCom is to guide groups of volunteers in forming
>> affiliates. We make sure that the group is large enough to be viable
>> (and advise them on how to get bigger), review bylaws for compliance
>> with the requirements and best practices, and advise the Board of the
>> Wikimedia Foundation on issues connected to Chapters, Thematic
>> Organizations and User Groups.
>> This requires communication with volunteers all over the World,
>> negotiating skills and cultural sensitivity and the ability to
>> understand legal texts. We try to get a healthy mix of different skill
>> sets in our members.
>> Key skills/experience that we are looking for in candidate members,
>> are typically:
>> * Excitement by the challenge of helping to empower groups of
>> volunteers worldwide
>> * Willingness to work in a sometimes bureaucratic, sometimes political
>> * 4 hours per week availability
>> * International orientation
>> * Very good communication skills in English
>> * Ability to work and communicate with other cultures
>> * Strong understanding of the structure and work of affiliates and the WMF
>> * Communication skills in other languages are a major plus
>> * Experience with or in an active affiliate is a major plus
>> With the help of the Affiliations Committee, 2012 has been an exciting
>> year of transformation for the movement with the introduction of new
>> types of affiliation. This means that the workload of the Committee
>> has increased and diversified and help is wanted! Currently many
>> applications to become a Chapter, Thematic Organization or User Group
>> are in the pipeline and can use your attention and dedication!
>> You can send your applications with your name, contact data (e-mail,
>> wiki username), experience and motivation to join to the AffCom email
>> address, affcom AT lists DOT wikimedia DOT org by January 12, 2013.
>> You will get a confirmation that your application came through.
>> Members are usually selected every twelve months for staggered two
>> year terms. The applications will be considered by the current members
>> and outgoing members and Committee advisers, who are not seeking
>> Since I will be a candidate for re-selection myself, this process will
>> be managed by another committee member, Lodewijk Gelauff. I hope for
>> many suitable applications. If you have any questions, please don't
>> hesitate to email me or Lodewijk privately. We are happy to chat or
>> have a phone call with anyone about our work, if this helps them
>> decide to apply.
>> Please distribute this call among your networks, and do apply if you
>> are interested.
>> Best regards,
>> Bence Damokos
>> Affiliations Committee
>> : https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Affiliations_Committee (please
>> follow the links and familiarize yourself with our work)
>> : Our member standards of participation are at:
>> : http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:EmailUser/Effeietsanders
>> Wikimedia-l mailing list
>> Unsubscribe: https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikimedia-l
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