Photo: Flickr user lifeontheedge

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A webcomic's hilarious Wiki storyline. Start here.

Wired News cribs from Wikitruth.

Wikipedia is mostly peaceful.

Rogers Cadenhead noted 156 articles proposed for deletion on December 21. By the end of the day, it reached 225 — but that’s out of 877,600 articles. You’re left with 877,375 articles where the editing is much more egalitarian ...Someone once described Wikipedia as the wild west: you hear stories of shootouts and Indian wars but most people are quietly herding cattle and plowing fields in the background.
Sam Wong

Wikipedia's article deletion process has alienated this group of smart, influential people. (Jimbo's reform proposal.)

Quotes from the discussion (in no particular order):

" the context of this weblog and its commenters, the commenter names represent a living human being in my mind. When I peruse the AFD page, the names I recognize from here are dehumanized with the terms sockpuppets and (more egregiously) meatpuppets. It’s a bit jarring."

"What I do disagree with is the characterization I so often see of wikipedia as possessing some virtue because of it’s “open” nature, which, it should now be obvious, is a relative term."

"Screw the ‘pedia and the ‘pedians! Long live the long tail!"

"Adherents of evolutionary psychology have suggested that the humorous effect of cartoon physics is due to the interplay of intuitions between physics (objective) and psychology (self-perception). The physics module predicts that the cartoon character will fall over the cliff immediately, while the psychology module anthropomorphizes the force of gravity and thus see it as vulnerable to deception, as long as the actor is self-deceived"


Wile E. Coyote is an evil genius.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

An illegal prime is a prime number which contains information forbidden by law to possess or distribute.

Monday, April 17, 2006

On being notable in Wikipedia.

Wales speech at the Long Now Foundation: ( ogg | mp3 ). Runs the gamut. Points, off the top of my sleep-deprived head:

  • Wikipedia (and its volunteer network) is doing cool and interesting things in the third world.

  • Structural changes take a long time to happen, but that's good for stability.

  • Candidates for deletion should be routed to members of the relevant wikipedia projects.
Less Stephensonesque than Jason Scott's speech, of course, and therefore less exciting, but more believable.

In other news, Wikitruth is one of a relatively small number of anti-wikipedia (or criticising-wikipedia) websites that has a sense of humor. (Update. Ok, it's uneven.)

There are plently of Supertall designs out there, but none so cool-looking as The Illinois.

The Great Failure of Wikipedia ( audio | text | pdf ) is a funny and compelling speech, even if I disagree with most of it (short, smart counter that I didn't write). It makes several audacious points, and backs up some of them.

Scott starts on a conciliatory note ("I do not dispute that wikipedia, for a person who is playing the part of a tourist, a web browser, is a beautiful success"). Then the critique starts. Criticisms I found interesting (if not uniformly convincing) :

(Note: Jason responds in the comments.)

1. Wikipedia presents itself as the sum of human knowledge, and therefore deserves criticism if it doesn't live up to that ideal. Its utopian framework is collapsing under the strain of human nature. 'Wikipedia holds up the dark mirror of what humanity is to itself.'

(This strikes me a silly argument: Wikipedia was founded as a tongue-in-cheek side project, not a grand utopia. Its success caught everone, including Wales and Sanger, by surprise -- and the "success" I'm talking about was reaching, say, 1000 articles. Wikipedia's current incarnation was completely undreampt of.)

2. Because of the constant back-and-forth between vandals and users, Wikipedia is a breeding ground for "supervandalism" in the same way that hospitals are breeding grounds for superviruses.

3. 'Wikipedia represents the first wave of a coming information war'. (Not enough detail in this allegation to rebut it.)

4. '"Not notable" is the cancer of wikipedia' -- users get frustrated when their hard work is nominated for deletion, not by an expert in anything, but by some random guy.

4 and a half. Votes (including votes for deletion) are badly run.

'"Concensus" essentially means, "when the administrator shows up, he makes a decision" ... In wikipedia, you will have 75 to 45 votes in which the 45 win. Simply becuase of the quality, or because of the number of neutrals, you have this enormous amount of weight that can be pushed around by an administrator.'
(See the Checkerboard Nightmare debacle.)

5. There are many administrators working to destroy wikipedia from within. (He doesn't provide evidence.)

5 and a half. These include people who enjoy messing with wikipedia's social and beaurocratic structure as in end in itself: they don't care about the encyclopedia's content in the same way that software crackers don't care about playing computer games or running photoshop.
'...people who have been working for two years from the inside of wikipedia to slowly ruin it. They have been able to change rules, they have been able to make administrators get deleted, they have been able to modify how rules are run in some places.'

6. There might be a coup to overthrow Jimbo.
''Administrators...who previously should have made more firm rules, finding themselves instead having to make in-the-dark, nontransparent people are in the dark, they're angry, they don't understand what's going on...enough that, I do know, some of the higher point of administrators have been talking about deposing Jimbo. Jimbo doesn't know that. Now he does.'

Again, frustratingly unsourced. But as pure rumor, it's jucy.