Archive for the ‘Critics’ Category
Just for fun, I took a look at how many Google hits there are for the phrase “I love Wikipedia” (54,000) versus those for “I hate Wikipedia” (542). Are you serious? At first glance, this might suggest there are perhaps 1,000 Wikipedia lovers for every hater! That’s disturbing.
But, fear not. As we look at the Top 10 sites that Google returns for “I love Wikipedia”, we see the following:
- A mis-ranked page from Wikipedia about the country music album, “Everything I Love”, which has nothing to do with loving Wikipedia.
- A Flickr page depicting a clearly deranged cultist breeding another likely Wikipedian.
- A “Bestuff.com” voting page, which includes a Google-friendly quote from 2 years ago, by someone named Adrian who said (incoherently), “I love Wikipedia, funnily i’m using these days for also tech specs on standards. It’s just sooo good.”
- Next is a blog, “Journeys of Jack Tripper” who only loves Wikipedia because there was at one time an article about a EuroLeague basketball player which stated, “He was the 6th pick in the 2008 NBA draft by the New York Knicks. He was promptly traded for 4 pounds of fresh mozzarella cheese.” Yeah, we love Wikipedia in that way, too. Read the rest of this entry »
Recently we focused on the plight of Overstock.com representative Judd Bagley, and his efforts to have Wikipedia acknowledge that feuding journalist Gary Weiss was using a number of aliases to “control” articles related to the company.
Other media sources have examined how Wikipedia came to be used as, in Bagley’s words, “a literal weapon against me and others”. Here we examine how a group of leading Wikipedia administrators, some of whom were in private email communication with the journalist, acted as opinion leaders in the Wikipedia community, thus implicitly sanctioning and encouraging others to side with Weiss and against Overstock.
Bagley and Overstock became known as “Enemies of the Wiki” for exposing the details of Weiss’s edits. And like a cult on the attack against “heretics”, the inner core of Wikipedia administrators set to work demonizing Bagley. Bagley’s perfectly legal and legitimate efforts to highlight the anonymous targeting of Overstock were twisted into accusations of “stalking” and “evil harrassment” from Wikipedians. Characterization of his methods eventually became so exaggerated by the Wiki-cult that they mutated into blatant falsehoods, reminiscent of the lies propagated against Wikipedia critic Daniel Brandt. Below are examples of this systematic character assassination by leading administrators taken from Wikipedia’s talk channels:
(It should be noted that Bagley’s claims regarding Wikipedia were later proved beyond reasonable doubt in an extensive evidence collecting process by concerned administrators. The wider claims regarding the US financial markets, which were at the center of the dispute, were in line with measures taken by the Securities and Exchange Commission this year. This week, Bagley will be appearing with Wikia CEO Gil Pechina on a panel, discussing “Web 2.0: The Emerging Law of Wiki, Blogs and Social Networks and Its Impact on Traditional Business and Entertainment”, where the matter will no doubt be discussed.)
[Bagley] is an obsessive troll. And I thought we’d learned our lesson about “sleuthing” established editors. It’s got nothign to do with that other site you’re involved in, other than as the venue for Bagley publishing his possibly fraudulent evidence. I don’t know why anyone would give him the time of day, he’s so obviously off in laa-laa land on this subject.
The following post was written by Sam Vaknin, author and a noted critic of Wikipedia. The piece was in response to an article supporting Wikipedia that appeared in Science Progress journal, and is reproduced here with the author’s permission.
It is a question of time before the Wikipedia self-destructs and implodes. It poses such low barriers to entry (anyone can edit any number of its articles) that it is already attracting masses of teenagers as “contributors” and “editors,” not to mention the less savory flotsam and jetsam of cyber-life. People who are regularly excluded or at least moderated in every other Internet community are welcomed, no questions asked, by this wannabe self-styled “encyclopedia.”
Six cardinal (and, in the long-term, deadly) sins plague this online venture. What unites and underlies all its deficiencies is simple: Wikipedia dissembles about what it is and how it operates. It is a self-righteous confabulation and its success in deceiving the many attests not only to the gullibility of the vast majority of Netizens but to the PR savvy of its sleek and slick operators.
1. The Wikipedia is opaque and encourages recklessness
The overwhelming majority of contributors to and editors of the Wikipedia remain anonymous or pseudonymous throughout the process. Anyone can register and members’ screen-names (handles) mean nothing and lead nowhere. Thus, no one is forced to take responsibility for what he or she adds to the “encyclopedia” or subtracts from it.
This amounts to an impenetrable smokescreen: identities can rarely be established and evading the legal consequences of one’s actions or omissions is easy. As the exposure of the confabulated professional biography of Wikipedia Arbitrator Essjay in March 2007 demonstrates, some prominent editors and senior administrators probably claim fake credentials as well.
Two important Wikipedia related stories were published this week. These stories illustrate why people should take Wikipedia’s negative impact on our culture seriously, before it is too late.
The first report told of the collapse of the leading French Print Encyclopedia Quid, which canceled its annual publication due to lack of advance sales, citing competition from Wikipedia for the shortfall. According to the Independent Newspaper:
The book’s publisher, Robert Laffont, says the whole concept of the print encyclopedia can no longer compete with the free information available on the Internet. Quid, produced by a family team for the past 45 years, has suffered especially at the hands of the French-language version of Wikipedia, the do-it-yourself web encyclopaedia.
Meaning that a legitimate, credible body of work has become the first major conquest in Jimbo Wales’s cultural war.
What is the life expectancy of Wikipedia?
- It has a scandal-prone structure, from the Board of Trustees right down to “anyone can edit” which includes an anon editing an article on Seigenthaler that sat there for four months.
- The person most closely associated with Wikipedia loves his celebrity status but prefers to spin away over Wikipedia’s problems rather than deal with them.
- The social networking model, from Wikipedia, to Orkut in Brazil, to Napster, Grokster, and YouTube and copyright, is headed for a more restrictive legal environment.
- To the extent that any sort of wiki-type “encyclopedia” survives, it will probably have to go with non-anonymous editing. Examples are Citizendium, and Google’s Knol.
- The funds from donations will not be sufficient to sustain the needs of the Wikimedia Foundation. If Google is serious about Knol, it may even be too late to start showing ads on Wikipedia. Google is not likely to rank Wikipedia well if it competes with Knol.
- The mainstream media is losing its infatuation with Wikipedia.
I give it three more years.
To celebrate the end of another magnificent year at The Review, it is perhaps time for a recital of this much appreciated post written by Jonny Cache, The Review’s resident polymath, back in January 2007. In light of Wikipedia’s increasing resemblance to a cult, the final paragraph seems more apt than ever:
Jonny Cache: Wikipedia is a Blog. The word vandalism, as used internal to this Blog, has no determinate meaning to outsiders. As far as external observers can tell, Wikipedia users are constantly vandalizing the subject matters to which many of them have dedicated their lives and sacred honors. By and large, Wikipedia website “administrators” are engaged in a form of anti-education that is warping the minds of naive people about the very nature of knowledge, and there is no reason that real educators should have to respect what goes on there.
The word encyclopedia, as used internal to the Wikipedia Blog, vandalizes the very meaning of the word. Wikipedia has not earned the right to appropriate this word because Wikipedia adamantly refuses to do the things that it would take to earn anybody else’s respect.
People of good will and intelligence granted the Wikipedia experiment the initial benefit of the doubt. In time they began to warn the Wikipedia populace about the collapse of credibility that it was headed for. But all that people of good will and intelligence got for their troubles was a constant stream of spit in their faces.
If 2006 was the year when unaccountable Wikipedia cliques consolidated their hold on the site, then 2007 was the year they started to bully the rest of the Internet into submitting to their cultish practices. Having watched them spend the year trashing critics foul or fair and removing links to dissenting voices to hit google rankings where they hurt, most of us had seen enough.
Much to our encouragement, 2007 was also the year the rest of the Internet began to fight back. And so successful has this been that we end 2007 on a festive high. Not only have Google arrived like the Naval Officer at the close of Lord Of The Flies to promise an escape from the spiraling barbarism on Jimbo’s fantasist island, the media have stepped off the boat to tell the world what really happens when the parents aren’t around.
Yet a couple of weeks into a series of devastating revelations about the site’s corrupt core, rather than engage in soul searching reassessments, floundering Wikipediots continue to respond in the only way they know how — by attacking the source.
Something monumentally offensive has happened this week on Wikipedia, and the powers that be are trying to sweep it under the rug. All Wikipedia critics should take this excellent opportunity to write letters to the Editors of their local and regional newspapers, and to contact their elected officials. The public opinion of Wikipedia can and should be changed by these six simple points:
In 2005, Wikipedia user Ikkyu2 wrote what was to become a well distributed and resonant criticism of Wikipedia. Though the essay was eventually deleted at the writer’s request, a copy was saved and it was hosted on another user’s wikipedia page. Very recently, this copied version was also deleted for unknown reasons.
For posterity’s sake we’ve dug up a cached version of the piece to add to our growing collection of essays. And to ensure that it doesn’t disappear down the plug hole for ever.
What’s wrong with Wikipedia
What’s wrong with Wikipedia is neatly summarized in Wikipedia:Policy, which is a very old and very entrenched official policy.
The offending text follows:
Respect other contributors. â€”Wikipedia contributors come from many different countries and cultures, and have widely different views. Treating others with respect is key to collaborating effectively in building an encyclopedia.
Then there is a list of links, which essentially are a user’s manual concerning how to implement respect for other people in a civil and effective manner. These are fine. I have no beef with them. I also have no beef with the factual accuracy of the second or third sentences of that quote. To my mind they are correct as stated.
Here is the problem: Respect other contributors, while a good guideline, is too broad. Let me explain why… Read the rest of this entry »
Michael Moore, creator of the documentary “Sicko” that criticises the US health system, has now targetted Ted Frank, who is a lawyer who has defended Merck in cases involving Vioxx, who were adversely affected by the movie and is hyper-critical of Michael Moore. Wikipedia’s response has been to label Michael Moore’s web site as an attack site, to delete all references to it, and to go out of their way to protect and support Ted Frank (Wikipedia user THF), including suggestions that he was “outed”, even though he originally called himself TedFrank on Wikipedia, only recently changed it to THF, and is a public figure with a Wikipedia article written about him.