[Foundation-l] WMF and the press

Geoffrey Plourde geo.plrd at yahoo.com
Sun Apr 27 02:32:56 UTC 2008

Thankfully we have Jay to create contacts at said media outlets. 

----- Original Message ----
From: Michael Bimmler <mbimmler at gmail.com>
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List <foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
Sent: Saturday, April 26, 2008 9:51:53 AM
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] WMF and the press

On Sat, Apr 26, 2008 at 6:37 PM, Anthony <wikimail at inbox.org> wrote:

> I might buy that (the
> first part is pretty much incontrovertibly true), though I'd find it
> at odds with the whole concept of Wikimedia projects (that
> Wikimedians, on average, can find reliable sources, sort the wheat
> from the chaff, and get to the truth).
Well... the average Wikimedian does indeed (learn to) use reliable sources.
a) there are many non-Wikimedians who might not be particularly used to this
[discussion of various sources is often only done in 'grammar schools' or
universities, so quite a few people might miss this interesting branch of

b) much more importantly, often the newspaper they read is considered a
reliable source by them.

To give you an example, there are two highly reputable newspapers in
German-speaking Switzerland, one of them being traditionally more left-wing,
the other more right-wing. I usually trust both of them when it comes down
to individual facts (although I sometimes differ with their
However, if my view of Wikipedia was only shaped by these newspapers, it
would be quite distorted indeed as they have several times reported facts
that are...just wrong.
Now, I know quite a few bright and intelligent people who know how to "sort
the wheat from the chaff" and who wouldn't rely on the average tabloid for
any information. Though, if they read a sentence like "Wikipedia will
introduce stable versions, which means that from now on, a small group of
staff editors controls which of the edits will actually go live on the site"
in their trusted newspaper, they believe it. They won't spend half an hour
reading Wikipedia policy proposals on "Stable versions" unless they have to
write a paper about it. So, if I see them on the next morning, the first
thing I hear is "Ah, you Wikipedians finally gave up on this principle of
'everyone can edit', eh?"


Michael Bimmler
mbimmler at gmail.com
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