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The Register Exposes More Wikipedia Abuse 524

Posted by Zonk
from the it's-the-internet-how-could-there-not-be-drama dept.
cyofee writes "The Register has up another article exposing abuse of Wikipedia's policies and processes. It tells a tale of a man, Gary Weiss, controlling the Wikipedia article about himself and his enemies (one of Wikipedia's biggest taboos) all under the blessing of the Wikipedia Cabal. A man who attempted to expose the affair on Wikipedia, along with his his entire IP range (some 1000 homes), was permanently blocked. This comes only days after the affair of the Secret Mailing list."
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The Register Exposes More Wikipedia Abuse

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  • Waht do you know (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nunyadambinness (1181813) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:26AM (#21612553)
    A good idea corrupted by human execution.

    We told them it would happen, but "NO! This time it's different!". Except, it wasn't.

    Where's that guy who shills for wikipedia, I'd love to hear his take on this.
    • by AmaDaden (794446) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:30AM (#21612605)
      Once as a boy I was told something about absolute power...now how did that go again?
      • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:53AM (#21612981) Homepage
        As I recall the saying goes something like "Power corrupts, but absolute power is pretty freakin' cool".
      • by spun (1352)

        Once as a boy I was told something about absolute power...now how did that go again?
        Um, absolute power is a lot of fun as long as it's you that has it?
        Absolute power is the absolute aphrodisiac?
        Absolute power, it's not just for breakfast anymore?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Calinous (985536)
        I don't know, I'll search Wikipedia for it
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Thansal (999464)
        Knowledge Is Power.
        Power Corrupts.
        Study Hard.
        Be Evil.
      • Mad with power (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sporkme (983186) * on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:26PM (#21621329) Homepage
        EPA Official: S-sir, I'm afraid you've gone mad with power... [imdb.com]
        Russ Cargill: Of course I have. You ever tried going mad without power? It's boring. No one listens to you!
        /simpsons

        Yeah, whatever, I will still do research for unimportant papers via Wikipedia and its vast citations, because when I use other encyclopedias I only get ONE source for information. Jeez, what is the big deal? If your subject is controversial, what makes you think a single source is more reliable? If you just need to know the molecular structure for cuprous iodide [wikipedia.org] or Mussolini's place of birth [wikipedia.org] it's great! Only pricks are trying to turn it into another Myspace.
    • Meh. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@nOSPam.gmail.com> on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:30AM (#21612613) Journal
      It's not the idea. The idea was "everyone contributes, and everyone is equal." If that was still the idea, we wouldn't be hearing all these stories of editorial abuse, because things are now unequal, and that inequality is what's breeding all these problems.

      Put a group in charge, and you're going to get abuse. That's just a fact. To get around this, most other organizations add some checks and balances, some oversight, some limitations on power. WP didn't do this, and now they're suffering for it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Daimanta (1140543)
        Nothing prevents the "iron law of olichargy", so I ask: Why bother? Why don't you create a olichargy from the start and try to control it? Why let an egalitarian society slip into an unfair olichargy rather than having a well structured one from the beginning?
        • Re:Meh. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by AmaDaden (794446) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:45AM (#21612841)
          Yeah. I think the best solution is to put a 'ruling class' in place but to make sure all of their communication is public. If it's found that people are discussing Wikipedia not on Wikipedia they get a temp ban. It's by no means a perfect fix but with out someone in charge somewhere people will form their own little gangs. It just seems to be human nature.

          On a side note, I would love to see Jimbo [slashdot.org] himself make comment on all this. He seems to have totally given up on Slashdot with his last post. It would be nice to know what is going in the depth of Wikipedia land from it's creator.
          • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:25PM (#21614361) Homepage
            If you're capable of "putting" any class into place, then you already are the ruling class.

            One thing I love about geek pop political/organizational theory - it works as if politics were a god game in which systems are designed by an abstract, external power, rather than always produced by people who already have a stake in it as players.
        • Re:Meh. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@nOSPam.gmail.com> on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:02AM (#21613127) Journal
          Well I'm actually in favor of oligarchy over democracy in that special case where you can get an oligarch who knows what the hell he's doing. If there was a way to always pick the best person to rule, I'd be a die-hard royalist, or fascist, or whatever.

          Democratic rule basically depends on inefficiency to keep people from doing anything unless most people agree it is the correct thing to do.

          They definitely need more transparency. I think what people are most angry about is the lack thereof. Their formalized processes suck. Their reporting of their bannings, etc, suck.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Now, I'm not defending Wikipedia per se, but if the Linux kernel were developed like that -- "everyone contributes, and everyone is equal", we'd probably end up with a kernel that combines all the bloat of Microsoft Office with all of the elegance of ed. (Wrap your head around that one!)

        The fact is that open source projects aren't democracies, they're meritocracies. You wanna be one of the cool kids of the LKML? Write a few killer features for the kernel or write a bunch of drivers or find and squash a b
        • Re:Meh. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@nOSPam.gmail.com> on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:12AM (#21613277) Journal
          They certainly like to think so.

          The problem is that their idea of merit is far better described as "prolific". If someone does a lot of decent edits, that makes them prolific. If someone creates a small number of extremely high quality original articles, they have merit. It's the second class that really adds value to WP, and they vastly outnumber the first class. But the second class isn't well represented in the admin group, and the first is.

          Without the guys who only write one or two articles, WP would be tiny. But those people have no say. And worse, if they move against the groupthink, then they can be banned.
      • Re:Meh. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@OOOopto ... inus threevowels> on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:13AM (#21613291) Journal

        It's not the idea. The idea was "everyone contributes, and everyone is equal." If that was still the idea, we wouldn't be hearing all these stories of editorial abuse, because things are now unequal, and that inequality is what's breeding all these problems.

        Put a group in charge, and you're going to get abuse. That's just a fact. To get around this, most other organizations add some checks and balances, some oversight, some limitations on power. WP didn't do this, and now they're suffering for it.

        An amazing parallel to representative government. In the beginning, we set up a government where everyone has their say by voting for the people who represent them. We invest those people with tremendous power. 535 people make the laws in the United States, 1 person gets to review them before they become law, and 9 others get to review them after they become law. Despite the system of checks and balances the original framers of the Constitution tried to create, the country is run at the behest of 300 million+ citizens by only 545 of their countrymen. That it works at all is amazing; that it is corrupt to some degree is to be understood.

        The Wikipedia problem won't really be easily solvable, because at some point it needs to make the same trade-offs that the Constitutional Convention made. Eventually, if you want a higher degree of accuracy, you're going to have to reduce the number of people who have access to the data and you're going to have to trust that they have no ulterior motives in their editing, and you're going to have to keep track of just what they do and call them on it when it's clear there is malfeasance.

    • Re:What do you know (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hedwards (940851)
      I don't really think that it was a good idea to start with. The main reason being that between outright corruption and the constant state of flux it wasn't ever something that could be properly relied upon.

      It is unfortunate, but unlike an encyclopedia, the constant state of change makes it nearly impossible to use for anything beyond casual reference. Even grade school level reports require a more reliable source of information, or at least one which can be guaranteed to be the same when somebody goes to ve
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Gloy (1151691)
        A permanent link to a particular revision of every article, that's guaranteed not to change, is available for every revision of every article, view the page you're interested in and click the "Permanent link" link at the bottom of the sidebar. Seems to me that it is quite possible to overcome the "material has changed when verified" problem by simply citing that link instead. That of course doesn't change the fact that no encyclopedia should be cited in serious academic work.
  • Hmph (Score:5, Funny)

    by moogied (1175879) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:28AM (#21612579)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Billosaur (927319) *

      Definitely funny, but as with all Penny Arcade strips, holds a great grain of truth. Wikipedia is billed as on-line encyclopedia, and while it may contain encyclopedic (and in many cases, overabundant) knowledge, it is actually a system whereby groups can vie for control of the information that others see about a particular topic. How many scandals have their been with entries being edited by groups/individuals on the sly, to make an opposing idea or person seem unpalatable or to spread falsehoods or innuen

  • If I was... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:29AM (#21612583)
    If I was Gary Weiss, my motto would be "Citation needed, bitches", then I'd be all like, "Wikipedia Cabal: block that guy's IP range.", then under my breath I'd be like, "bitches."
  • Lord Acton... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AB_Positive (1050222) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:31AM (#21612627)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_corrupts#Lord_Acton.27s_Dictum [wikipedia.org]Power Corrupts... There's a joke here, but I'm having too much fun wrecking my employee's user accounts with my admin power.
  • Also blocked (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Splab (574204) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:33AM (#21612653)
    We have the same issue where I live, more than 1000 homes behind the same firewall. We have been blocked from editing at some point, bit harsh to block out so many IP's, but thats life I guess. Good thing I don't have the need to contribute.
  • by overshoot (39700) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:33AM (#21612657)

    The Register has up another article exposing abuse of Wikipedia's policies and processes [CC].
    That problem has been solved: the El Reg IP range has been blocked now.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I've seen entire /26s blocked by idiot moderators on Wikipedia, it happened once because I didn't register and undid vandalism that was being done by a registered user. They actually banned me for massive vandalism, then I skipped ips since they are dynamically assigned from my isp, in response for this, "use of sockpuppets," they banned the entire /26, and when it was pointed out how fucking retarded the entire situation was, they declared that I should register or expect this.

      Wikipedia is entirely untrus
  • by squiggleslash (241428) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:33AM (#21612663) Homepage Journal

    It's notable{{cn}} (heh) that, reading between the lines, Jimbo Wales is actually pretty convinced that those editing the articles concerned in the way described and banned for the fact are acting in bad faith.

    Ainsworth has contributed more featured articles to Wikipedia than all but six other writers. But in October, when he attempted to edit the Weiss article, he was immediately banned from the site for 24 hours by an administrator known as "Durova" - the administrator at the heart of the secret mailing list scandal.

    And Durova's ban was seconded by none other than Jimmy Wales.

    "Durova [has] my full support here. No nonsense, zero tolerance, shoot on sight," Wales wrote on the site. "No kidding, this has gone on long enough."

    and

    Without a doubt, Judd Bagley has seriously angered the powers that be at Wikipedia. He's even received an email from Jimbo Wales saying: "Your feigned innocence is not very endearing" and "It would be helpful if you could come to terms with the fact that you have behaved very very badly over a long period of time."

    Not exactly evidence of a cabal acting in secret. More evidence of a group of people behaving trollishly and being banned for doing so.

    Indeed, looking at the original sequence of events that supposedly set this off:

    Bagley restored the link to Businessjive. A few hours later, the same person removed it. So Bagley restored it again. And it was removed again.

    it looks like the whole thing was set off because of link-spamming from the supposed "victims" in this case.

    The Register doesn't give us enough information to actually tell if this is the case or if there's some other reason. It doesn't report in full what was said by anyone proposing bans on the so-called victims. It portrays the events as arbitrary despite the fact that, actually, these things don't go on in secret. Most telling of all, if Wikipedia's admins were banning people without presenting reasons for doing so, this would be newsworthy which means the fact they're not saying no reasons were given is itself telling.

    Very poor from El Reg. There may be a story right there, but anyone familiar with Wikipedia who's capable of reading between the lines is going to give a big "WTF" and assume El Reg is making up controversy where none exists.

    • Well he outright said that Wiki was presenting reasons why. The reasons why wiki banned them though does not in any way match the facts at hand, nor the time stamp for those events taking place.

      While I agree there is still some bit of evidence missing here, there is definatly something fishy going on, and it wouldn't be the first time the admins and owner of wiki have been publicly outed for being liars and biased.

    • by Rycross (836649)
      Appeals to Authority don't make very good arguments. Basically all you've told us is that Jimbo Wales said the bans were OK, so they must be. As far as "link-spamming," what you've written there is pretty much worthless as proof. Such revert wars go on all the time at Wikipedia. You've given no compelling evidence whatsoever that the people were banned fairly, had the ban reasons communicated, or that the people banned and community had chances to provide input.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jjohnson (62583)
        The parent isn't saying "Jimmy said it's good, and I believe him", it's poining out that the Reg article failed to give compelling (or any) evidence that the bans were *unfair*, the reasons *uncommunicated*, or the banned *prevented* from offering input--it's another one-sided attack job by El Reg, which has long had a vendetta against Wikipedia.

        It would be an interesting story if it all happened as the article described, but I don't trust the Register any more than I trust Wikipedia, especially when the la
      • by nuzak (959558)
        > Basically all you've told us is that Jimbo Wales said the bans were OK, so they must be.

        Heck, I draw the opposite conclusion of the GP: Wales is as much of a controlling paranoid lunatic as Durova.

        Have you ever read wikipedia adminspeak? It's an unparseable argot of acronymic jargon. The only thing that I've seen that read similarly was ops manuals for Scientology orgs.
           
      • Actually, no I didn't. I said that Jimbo Wales appears to be acting on good faith, based upon what was written. Given he oversees Wikipedia, it's hard for me not to take that into account, especially given the lack of factual information in the El Reg article.

        El Reg has given "undue weight" to someone who has a problem with stock shorting and is finding it hard to convince Wikipedia to incorporate their opinions on stock shorting and Overstock.com into related articles. Either Wikipedia's admins are acti

  • by Anonymous Coward
    and controversies like it long ago. I created over 600 articles, mostly on Martian and Mercurian craters, and the inner workings of the U.S. executive branch of government. The problem with Wikipedia is that only the power-hungry authoritarians seek to become administrators, while the regular editors are content to just sit there and write rather than formulate policy.
  • by Sockatume (732728) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:36AM (#21612707)
    This sort of stuff happens all the time, the only difference here is that somebody's decided to sell the idea to the general public as a devious "Wikipedia elite" rather than a couple of administrators with personal axes to grind. I notice there was no reference to using Wikipedia's own complaint processes to try and resolve the issue - just the usual edit, edit, get blocked, complain about it on your blog pattern.
    • by FooAtWFU (699187)
      But you can't try to go through the process because the zomg cabal is there to keep you down!1!

      Seriously. Administrative abuse is a problem at Wikipedia like it is at any site that has volunteer administrators (and many online and real-world institutions that have paid and unpaid administrators). It's the insinuations that there's some sort of evil cabal that are ridiculous. As a formerly-active Wikipedia administrator typically more interested in keeping the place clean than in Politics, I can say that it

    • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:05AM (#21613167)

      I notice there was no reference to using Wikipedia's own complaint processes to try and resolve the issue - just the usual edit, edit, get blocked, complain about it on your blog pattern.

      You clearly didn't read the entire article. I suggest you go back and finish it. FYI, it's 5 pages long.

  • A very good thing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by franois-do (547649) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:45AM (#21612843) Homepage
    Wikipedia is like a garden : it is not fixed once and for all, and you have to keep fighting continously in order to keep it healthy and tidy. To this respect it does not differ much of our own organisms.

    The defense or truth by presenting all point of views with the origin of each one is both the goal of the Wikipedia and of a vigorous, sane society. "Germ-free" have probably no real future in a living world.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SL Baur (19540)

      Wikipedia is like a garden
      Ah, that's the real truth, isn't it? We all know what you spread on the ground to make plants grow.

      Thanks for clearing that up.
  • by aquatone282 (905179) * on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:46AM (#21612853)

    Anytime you put a group of humans together, a pecking order will be established and the group will establish and enforce its own set of informal rules, often overriding any formal rules the group may have set forth to guide its actions and behavior.

    It doesn't matter if its the local garden club or an open source project - leaders will emerge and their followers will do almost anything to protect the leader's position in the hopes of protecting their own elevated ranking.

  • by Apple Acolyte (517892) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:49AM (#21612919)
    I think it's necessary for those who are in decision making positions step out from behind the shadows and start making decisions in a more transparent way as part of some sort of formal Wiki council. It doesn't make sense for such a popular public resource to be controlled behind the scenes without any mechanism available to promote responsibility and accountability of the powers involved. And while I'm on the subject, am I the only one who absolutely detests the name Jimbo?
    • by Raul654 (453029)
      "I think it's necessary for those who are in decision making positions step out from behind the shadows and start making decisions in a more transparent way as part of some sort of formal Wiki council."

      They do. [wikipedia.org] (I'm on it)
  • Look, stories like this are seriously hurting The Register's credibility, and now Slashdot's as well for reposting this nonsense credulously. I can't believe anyone is even able to say "The Wikipedia Cabal" with a straight face. Wikipedia is fractured into many small groups and cliques just like the rest of human society (trust me, I know, I'm a Wikipedia administrator). All that's going on here is there is some dispute between a certain group of Wikipedians and some other people. I'm not going to say that either side is innocent because neither is. But to paint it as some gigantic conspiracy, with Wikipedia being ruled and dictated by some secret monolithic cabal, is hogwash.
    • by nuzak (959558) on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:04AM (#21613153) Journal
      > The Register's credibility

      Tell me you didn't type that with a straight face.

      No, Wikipedia isn't being "ruled and dictated" by some "secret monolithic cabal". It's just got a bureacracy that's developed its own impenetrable code, and makes arbitrary decisions that act to reinforce their own feelings of mutual belonging in their weird little clique, regardless of whether it has any real positive impact on Wikipedia.

      Sure, there are good admins on WP. Jimbo Wales and his little entourage are not among them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Of course, Mr Cyde Weys [wikipedia.org] a very early administrator, and one viewed by many to be one of the cabal, if not at least definitely "inner circle" material, may not be your most neutral debater in this issue.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by owlnation (858981)

      Look, stories like this are seriously hurting The Register's credibility, and now Slashdot's as well for reposting this nonsense credulously.

      Wrong on two levels.

      1. The Register -- what credibility?
      2. Nonsense? -- Stories like this are essential - it's called "freedom of the press". Obviously some Wikipedians don't like that sort of vandalism... um, I mean thing.

      At least The Register (for all its many faults) and Slashdot do attempt to get the truth about Wikipedia out there. That's very important,

    • by joeszilagyi (635484) on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:48AM (#21613845)
      Its really not a giant conspiracy, Cyde. It's a pretty hamfisted bunch of tiny little ones, which makes it even worse. Especially as the scale of things they're willing to go to war over is pretty tiny and pathetic.

      Nice signature quote, by the way. Did you know they're gearing up for pre-production for a sequel? Last I read they're just buttoning down the funding.

  • by Raul654 (453029) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:54AM (#21612991) Homepage
    Employee of overstock.com spams Wikipedia, uses lots of sockpuppets to avoid being blocked, and uses spyware to infect at least one user. Wikipedia blocks him. The Reg writes an article defending said employee and attacking Wikipedia (which Slashdot promptly reposts).
  • When Wikipedia is destroyed,
    it won't be from without,
    but from within!

  • Just have /. post stories on them about every 10 minutes or so.

    At the very least, thier servers will get a good workout.

    One other idea: make some addition contributions to any article they have regarding Censorship, Freedom of Speech, etc...

  • by Tom Womack (8005) <tom@womack.net> on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:03AM (#21613147) Homepage
    This is just another part of the slow-motion meltdown of overstock.com, and the 'naked short-selling' financial conspiracy theory. There seem to be a lot of financial conspiracy theories around at the moment, presumably since there is some degree of actual financial chaos in the background, and the things financiers have demonstrably got away with are crazy enough that it's difficult to reject conspiracy theories on the mere grounds of strangeness in appearance.

    Disclaimer: yes, I write stuff on wikipedia, my handle is fivemack. Mostly I write about chemistry; it's pretty clear that wikipedia is the most comprehensive and reliable site for chemistry on the Web, since chemistry is advanced stamp-collecting and wikipedia is a superb medium for presenting stamps in multiple series. The science side of wikipedia is a wonderful resource, and doesn't seem too prone to the kind of lunacy that afflicts other parts of the encyclopedia; people have less heated feelings about the melting-point of tellurium or the carcinogenicity of tetramethylhydrazine than they do about whether Mount Ararat is a Turkish or an Armenian mountain.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sl3xd (111641) *
      Being from the salt lake valley (where overstock.com is headquartered), I know a few people who used to work there.

      Used to is the operative word. They weren't let go; they quit. And the reason is always the same: Rampant nepotism.

      When a relatively new (and incompetent) person is promoted, and a highly experienced and trained person is passed by, it raises an eyebrow. When the reason the person was promoted is they are a niece/nephew, it's a different story entirely.

      It's not any one branch of the company
  • by Tx (96709) on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:03AM (#21613151) Journal
    It's vaguely worth mentioning that I've been blocked from posting on /. in a similar manner a couple of times. My ISP forces traffic through it's transparent proxies, and /. seems quite happy to block an entire proxy. Fortunately it doesn't seem to have happened rec##KR2F@F@$F$ {NO CARRIER}
  • by EriktheGreen (660160) on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:05AM (#21613175) Journal
    Wikipedia isn't a democracy, and I think the only people surprised by the way the admins operate are the ones with stars in their eyes.

    Wikipedia is probably the most successful collaborative effort on the internet, surpassing the Linux kernel in size and complexity. Its editors and authors do a lot of great work, putting data out there and generally being fair and balanced.

    But, it's not a church, it's not a publicly run trust, and there's no oversight committee. Jimbo Wales and Co. can do whatever they want.. it's their site. They can ban anyone they like for any reason, even if they publically claim to be even handed, fair, and open, and the worst they may be guilty of is lying. The real reason people are up in arms is that they are surprised about it.

    We get lied to every day, by the government, church, our coworkers, neighbors, pretty much everyone. We sort of expect it, though. Very few people buy in to a religion wholesale and stop questioning anything related to it. Unless you're a fanatic and stupid to boot, you realize that some of it is crap. Even though churches claim that morality and truth are the highest law, and they don't lie, cheat, or steal.

    People have let themselves believe (perhaps not consciously) that since wikipedia exists today, that we must have reached some kind of golden age of the Internet and mankind, that wikipedia will grow until it contains everything we know, and all will contribute to it, everyone will learn that being fair and true is the only way to live, and we'll all understand each other better.

    But wikipedia lies like anyone else. It's not utopia. "Best" is a relative term.

    Wikipedia is the biggest collaboration out there. But that doesn't mean it's made from pure angelic light trapped in circuits.... it's made of people, and people can be corrupt, biased, bigoted, jerks.

    The main reason I've never contributed to Wikipedia is that I was burned in the past. Anyone remember CDDB? There are other examples. I've seen some recent positive press for Wikipedia in the recent announcement that the code will be GPL.... it's another step in the right direction.

    Information wants to be free.

    Erik

  • Quote (Score:4, Insightful)

    by owlnation (858981) on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:05AM (#21613179)
    This Jimmy Wales quote: "We aren't democratic."

    That's one for future generations. That quote should haunt him for the rest of his career. It's right up there with all the ones Bill Gates and Ballmer have made, that are repeated here often.

    Two words: "true colors".

    I was going to add in the usual references to nazis and Ayn Rand and all the rest -- but honestly, Jimmy's quote says it all, and says it clearer. It's all you ever needed to know about Wikipedia.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sockatume (732728)
      Of course they're not a democracy, they're supposed to be factually accurate, not a popularity contest. Recall that they used to put article deletion to the vote, and treating discussions that way (after they'd nominally switched to a concensus basis for article deletions) was responsible for the half-assed decision that gave us Straubgate [halfpixel.com]. (That's not to try and belittle Straub's ingenious plotting.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sockatume (732728)
      The full quote is: "Greatest misconception about Wikipedia: We aren't democratic. Our readers edit the entries, but we're actually quite snobby. The core community appreciates when someone is knowledgeable, and thinks some people are idiots and shouldn't be writing." In other words, knowledgable contributions are valued more highly than idiot ones. So, yes, that's all you need to know about Wikipedia's bias - an online encyclopedia values good information above bad.
  • sounds like (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spazmania (174582) on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:08AM (#21613211) Homepage
    Sounds to me like the central problem is that after banning an abusive user with a genuine beef they then failed to take reasonable action on the genuine beef. As a result, two or three articles have become hopelessly corrupted and instead of freezing them in that state they should be declared hopelessly corrupted and removed.
  • by Chairboy (88841) on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:16AM (#21613353) Homepage
    I've been accused of being part of the 'cabal' because I'm an administrator who pissed off a bunch of people last year, and have on-again off-again been hounded by characters who keep baying conspiracy and trying to get folks worked into a lather.

    Until now, I assumed that people would be able to properly set the bozo bit on these guys, but now that they've gotten The Register convinced, it's time for the big secret to come out:

    We (the Wikipedia admins) aren't competent enough to form a conspiracy. Seriously. We all have our own agendas, our own skillsets, varying levels of intelligence, and wildly different ideas on how the project should run. Accusing us of having the ability to form a global star-chamber of sorts that seeks to control the nature of truth is like accusing us of keeping the metric system down or making Steve Gutenberg a star.

    We're just editors with some extra tools, and we fight like rabid cats.

    But thanks for the compliment.
  • this is... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by m2943 (1140797) on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:29AM (#21613539)
    as opposed to traditional media, blogs, and rags like The Register, where 100% of the content are controlled by a "cabal" of self-appointed guardians-of-the-truth.

    Thanks, but I take Wikipedia over The Register any day.
  • by CodeShark (17400) <ellsworthpc@@@yahoo...com> on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:29AM (#21613559) Homepage
    At some point my thought is that there has to be some way that Wikipedia can have discoursive (is that a word?) articles, i.e., if there are competing arguments, set up a Wiki Page that can't be altered so easily that points to both. And it may be important to prevent the antagonistic groups from editing each other's pages.


    An example -- and I don't think this will be off topic when you see where I am going with it: for years a set of researchers in Australia insisted that most peptic and duodenal ulcers were caused by a bacteria called helicobacter pylori. [wikipedia.org] Problem was, the treatment for the bacteria was a simple and very cheap course of antibiotics and pink bismuth (brand name is usually Pepto Bismol) for about two weeks -- which negated the value of some very expensive American-developed medicines who basically trashed the research in the medical community for years. The end of the story is that the researchers, Warren and Marshall were correct, and 80% of all ulcers ARE caused by that bacteria. In fact these two were awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their work on H. pylori.

    So what would happen if Wikipedia were available back then and the powers that be basically chose the wrong side and banned Warren and Marshall from editing articles on stomach ulcers, because another group had a vested interest in keeping the status quo? Which is where the real ruckus lies and why I am now backing Citizendium [slashdot.org] instead of Wikipedia.

  • by joeszilagyi (635484) on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:35AM (#21613639)
    Go to:

    * http://www.wikipediareview.com [wikipediareview.com] WR is a forum that is populated by a mix of Wikipedia administrators posting openly, regular users, and a few "banned" users. Unfortunately, the Wikipedia 'elite' routinely badmouth the holy hell out of the WR forums because of the fact that "banned" users are allowed. Also, the Wikipedia "BADSITES [wikipedia.org]" final solution (which is still active--disregard that rejected notice, its just been implemented anyway), was a direct revenge response against Wikipedia Review and similar sites that the Wikipedia leaders have no ability to silence or control in any way.

    * http://www.wikitruth.info [wikitruth.info] Wikitruth is a private Wiki, which is ran by a variety of actual Wikipedia administrators, who post deleted content from Wikipedia and other insider information. Wikipedia HATES Wikitruth, almost as much as they hate Wikipedia Review, but are both helpless and powerless against them. Why? Because anything posted to Wikipedia is posted under the GFDL, and you can't de-GFDL Wikipedia content. Wikipedia just "chooses" not to display deleted content as an editorial decision. Oops.

    Go to Wikipedia Review for frank and uncensored discussion about Wikipedia. Yes, some lunatics and social and/or mental defectives live there; the same as on the Slashdot comments. But a frightening number of smart and eloquent people post there. Those are the ones that Wikipedia is truly frightened of, because they can't be controlled or stopped. Go to Wikitruth for the best insider dirt.

    I'm sure someone will mod me down as flame bait, or trolling, or someone who edits Wikipedia will be along to troll me. However, isn't it funny how whenever this sort of thing happens, you *cannot* get a straight answer out of the Wikipedia "executives"? It's always spin control, and damage control, sadly. Irresponsible.

  • by noewun (591275) on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:36AM (#21613643) Journal

    . . .all under the blessing of the Wikipedia Cabal.

    Cabal? Really? Are you sure you don't just need to turn off the machine and get outside for a while?

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:52AM (#21613911) Homepage Journal
    But we've known THAT all along, right? Everyone has an agenda and whether or not they know it is irrelevant; their bias will show in their work. Take your research from several different sources and go see with your own eyes if you're really that interested.

    On a side note, we need the same level of transparency into our Governments that we're currently seeing in Wikipedia. There were shenanigans going on, but those shenanigans were exposed for anyone who bothered to look for them. Opensecrets.org is a good start, but it doesn't really offer the same level of governmental shenanigans-catching.

  • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:58AM (#21613997) Homepage
    There seem to be similarities between the Wikipedia cabal blocking all edits from a particular IP range and spam blacklist services that recommend blocking mail from a particular range. As Jef Poskanzer wrote [acme.com]:

    Well, I don't know why, but in practice every single DNS-RBL eventually comes under the control of power-hungry weenies. They start listing sites unreliably, and if you complain you find yourself listed. And there's usually no way to get off the list.
    Sound familiar? From TFA, it appears that Wikipedia blocked an IP range not because of abuse on Wikipedia, but because someone expressed his own views on his own private website. Similarly spam blacklists have been known to block people for 'promoting spam' by hosting web pages, even when those actions are not correlated with sending messages you'd want to block. Web filtering programs often block pages which are critical of web filtering [peacefire.org], just for expressing an opinion the filtering company doesn't like, not for hosting obscene material.

    Is there any way around the 'power-hungry weenie' problem? I think some explicit policy on blocking could help. If any IP address is blocked from Wikipedia, there must be a link to an archived copy of the Wikipedia vandalism that was responsible for the blocking, and this evidence should be verifiable by anyone.
  • Wizards of OZ (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:10PM (#21614135)
    I actually read TFA and (almost) all the included links to Wikipedia, AntiSocial, WikipediaReview, WikiTruth, etc... I think I can sum up what Jimbo and the other WP Admins would like everyone to keep in mind:

    "Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain."

    Where possible, of course Wikipedia is manipulated for the benefit and glory of those that own or run it (and/or their friends) - DUH. There's money to be made, agendas to set, axes to grind, opinions to influence, minds to manipulate. Then, of course, there are the evil uses :-)

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:30PM (#21614449) Homepage

    Ugh. Now that I've read the Wikipedia article on "naked short selling", I'm probably going to have to edit it. It doesn't mention some of the real problems. "Naked short selling" creates fake stock, which is then purchased and owned by someone. And they can vote that stock. This can lead to more votes than there are shares outstanding.

    The fake stock created by naked short selling is supposed to be replaced by buying real stock within 13 days. But that's not always happening. "Overstock.com" has had such fake stock outstanding for years, more fake stock than they actually have outstanding.

    Here's a New York Times article [nytimes.com] that discusses the issue. Forbes [forbes.com] has also written about this.

    The top stocks with fake stock outstanding for long periods [mcmaster.ca] are:

    • Overstock.com
    • Martha Stewart
    • Netflix
    • Blockbuster
    • Delta Airlines
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2007 @12:53PM (#21614747)
    Just added a simple reference on Wikipedia about the Register article as an anonymous user. As an outside observer with no axe to grind I wondered how long it would be beofre it was modified. It took 11 minutes. Once the reference was removed the article was "protected" from modification until next year.

    Was removed by an IP 209.200.52.180 that is somewhere in NYC. The same IP has made dozens of edits just like the article states. Looks like foul play to me when you simply remove a factual reference because it brings light to bad behavior.

    Overstock.com page on Wikipedia (my edits from 68.34.73.97): http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Overstock.com&action=history [wikipedia.org]
    All edits from 209.200.52.180: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/209.200.52.180 [wikipedia.org]

    The anonymous edits from that IP are numerous. In my book if you do that much editing you should have an account. I maybe touch one or two articles a year (maybe) so just add anonymously. I do not remove or correct information anonymously, as that is ass-hattery (in fairness, I have corrected some bad spelling and/or small grammar slips).

    Looks to me from all the recent press that Wikipedia is just like the rest of the world: full of partisanship, feuds and corruption.

    Won't get my donations.

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