[Wikimedia-l] "Big data" benefits and limitations (relevance: WMF editor engagement, fundraising, and HR practices)

George Herbert george.herbert at gmail.com
Thu Jan 3 07:37:07 UTC 2013

Yes.  Big data is neither the problem nor the solution here.

George William Herbert
Sent from my iPhone

On Jan 2, 2013, at 10:38 PM, Tim Starling <tstarling at wikimedia.org> wrote:

> On 03/01/13 16:09, George Herbert wrote:
>> Laugh all you want, but the best man at my wedding's scalable P2P in
>> the cloud company was acquired by Adobe, then he was poached by Skype
>> who were poached by Microsoft, and now he's a Very Senior Architect
>> spending most of his time flying around the world to far-flung
>> offices, architecting and implementing scalable P2P in the cloud.
> Flying sucks. Time spent flying should be a measure of failure, not
> success.
> Anyway, I wouldn't go so far as to deny the existence of
> petabyte-sized data sets, or to deny that some organisations derive
> value from being able to pass them through CPUs in a reasonable amount
> of time. I merely question the value of a mailing list post that says
> "hey, big data, we should do that".
> Wikipedia's problems are obvious and severe:
> * Incivility by established users towards new users
> * Capture of articles by self-appointed "owners"
> * Sneaky vandalism and misinformation
> If you look at the comments section of any online news article about
> Wikipedia, you will see these valid criticisms repeated over and over
> as reasons why people have stopped contributing to Wikipedia or refuse
> to start. The number of active (>5 edits/mo) contributors has declined
> from 13000 in January 2007 to 5900 in October 2012.
> You don't need "big data" to see what needs to be done.
> -- Tim Starling
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