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January 2009 at the Review

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Roundup of some of the activities going on at The Wikipedia Review for the first month of 2009.

Wikipedia lies, slander, defamation corner

As if suffering a seizure during US President Obama’s post-inaugural luncheon wasn’t bad enough, US Senator Edward Kennedy endured an additional ordeal Tuesday, as did his friend, Senator Robert Byrd — death by Wikipedia. This slur, comparatively mild by Wikipedia’s traditional libellous standards, appeared to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for Jimbo Wales - who immediately endorsed the long overdue Flagged Revisions proposal (more below). Later in the month, well known BBC gardener Alan Titchmarsh (T-H-L-K) complained that Wikipedia was “full of wrong facts” after he had to deny that he had published an updated version of the sex manual Karma Sutre.

Flagged Revisions,

After a long period of pressure from the Review, Jimbo Wales eventually came out and endorsed the implementation of “Flagged Revisions” on biography articles. This would mean that edits to biographical articles would need to be checked before they appeared on the final article page. And hence would significantly reduce the number of “drive-by defamation edits”. As far as the Review is concerned, this is the culmination of many people’s efforts to address that particular odious side-effect of Wikipedia’s internet dominance - beginning with the experiences retold here by victims Daniel Brandt, as well as the regular extra-media pieces by fellow victim Seth Finkelstein. It’s been a long, along time coming but I know A change gon’ come, oh yes it will!

UPDATE: Typically, a confusing counter-flagging proposal was mooted by BLP extremists (usually teenagers who are unsympathetic to BLP victims and demand the “right” to edit anonymously on whatever they like) which, in the words of one Wikipedian “will allow IP and new editors to edit articles that would otherwise be semi or full-protected”. So hold your breath. Wikipedia remains incapable of implementing any ethical reforms.

So long farewell, auf weidersehen good-bye

In December, a statistical report revealed that “the size of the Wikipedia editing community peaked around March 2007“, and was in slow decline. Most of the prolific early contributors had left the project by the “big boom” of 2005-7, but now it was time for the “second generation” of Wiki-politicos to give up on the beast.

And thus; “Bureaucrat” AGK (T-C-L-K) retired from Wikipedia having swallowed the final cherry of New Year. He was followed by former arbitrator Rebecca (T-C-L-K) (formerly known as Ambi / formerly known as erm… Dave (?)), and long term Wikipedio admin Gaillimh (T-C-L-K). In fact, admins “seem to have left in significant numbers in December“. While the rest of us were downing our mince pies and sipping Christmas sherry, Jossi (T-C-L-K) - whose online Conflict of Interest was the Gold, Frankinsense And Myrrh of Conflicts of Interest - announced his retirement as well. Then arbitrator Deskana (T-C-L-K) went on “Wikibreak”. WReviewer GlassBeadGame even crafted a crude chart to show the exodus!

The Fall and Fall of FT2

Last month, pressure on User:FT2 (T-C-L-K) - a senior Arbitrator on Wikipedia’s “Supreme Court” - reached a head, with accusations hurtling his way regarding the erm… Zoophilia Oversighted Edits Scandal. The Wikipedia community, led by traditional Drama-Master of Ceremonies Giano (T-C-L-K), wanted blood. This month they got it, and FT2 became one of those rare Wikipedios who, having found himself acting as a lightening rod for negative drama, actually did the dignified thing and resigned. Less dignified was FT2’s appearance at The Review to argue the toss with all and sundry. Though denying wrong-doing with some legitimacy, he typically overegged any new sympathy he may have garnered, by producing endless interminable foul smelling yolks every time he posted. And by the end, the relevant thread looked like a rancid omelette.

In the Media

The Register reported that Roger McNamee, a previous large donor to the WMF, had finally found his way onto the WMF Advisory Board, which opens up some potentially interesting developments. The WR thread about that is here. Seth Finkelstein gives his brief overview here. The Register were also the first to cover Jimbo’s endorsment of Flagged Revisions. Bloggers soon followed up the story. By the 26th, the BBC was running the Flagged Revisions dispute. Their interpretation was irritatingly flawed and appeared to be based on a misinformation campaign in Slashdot led by BLP extremists (who have been resisting the implementation).

One of the best op-eds of the month appeared in The Guardian, and was another take on the community’s resistance to Flagged Revisions. The Guardian’s Marcel berlins wrote, “Wikipedia is unreliable in its current form. So why do its users resist even modest changes? It is hardly a secret that the hasty reporting of a current event is the enemy of context and accuracy.”


Written by The Review

February 4th, 2009 at 1:37 am

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