back to article Brit fumes over Wikipedia, lava lamps

Is Wikipedia running a censorship board? John Barberio thinks so. After more than two years as an active contributor to the free online encyclopedia, the 27-year-old Oxfordshire man recently left the project over the behavior of its "OTRS volunteers," unpaid administrators who act on reader complaints about the site's content …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Petrea Mitchell


    If the answer is on the talk page, it's got to be the "Mathmos and 'Lava Lamp' trademark issue" section, dated the day the lava lamp article was blanked. I'm guessing Mathmos threatened someone at Wikipedia HQ with all sorts of dire legal action.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Serious Stuff

    I'll treat this issue at about the same level I treat Wikipedia in general.

  3. David Jones

    Brit fumes over Wikipedia, lava lamps

    If you contribute to Wikipedia you are essentially submitting your article to a journal that is editted purely by London cab drivers - who know nothing but have an opinion on everything.

    Why is it that most "experts" have long since given up on WP? The reason is the key to having your content stay on the site. It is not whether it's well written, factually accurate and interesting but rather whether the author knows how to "play the game" of Wikipedia - a game that has rules that make Mornington Crescent seem perfectly logical.

    Really the whole project should be renamed "World of Wikipedia - The Book Burning Crusade". As a Masively Multiplayer Online Game it would break revenue records given the number of people that are currently hooked.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fear of courts...

    Perhaps its time Wiki-Sealand was born? It'd avoid all this fear of being sued for stating the obvious.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Petrea Mitchell

    Duh. Did you actually read it?

    If you did, I fail to see how you missed the fact that Mathmos stated, in the first line,

    "We think it a mistake to move the Lava-lamp page as it is the name these lamps are popularly known as."

    so I think it's a bit unfair to be blaming them...

  6. Jon Bon Jovi

    comments from the peanut gallery

    I've never used wikipedia, but I know its no good.

  7. DZ-Jay

    Er... Lava Lamps?

    Seriously, lava lamps? I fail to understand the passionate fight to remove the shackles of censorship and enlighten the masses with access to an article on, I'm sorry, lava lamps?

  8. Andy Barber

    My comment on Concorde

    When I posted an article, saying that the Concorde aircraft was once "considered" as a supersonic replacement to the RAF V Bomber fleet, my article was scrubbed in 15 minutes. When I complained, I was told to put up some proof, which I did, with three 'artist impressions' of RAF Concorde's with three Blue Steel's & the URL's . These were also scrubbed. I then sent an 'artist impression' & URL of a RAF transport version of the Concorde. This was also scrubbed!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pulse lavage

    I notice that the article does not explicitly point out that the lava in lava lamps is invariably not superhot molten rock. This is a disastrous omission, with enormous safety implications; what is to prevent children from trying to make their own lava lamp with real lava? I cannot think of a better reason to blank the article.

    "When I posted an article, saying that the Concorde aircraft was once "considered" as a supersonic replacement to the RAF V Bomber fleet"

    You'd have to say *who* considered the Concorde as a supersonic replacement for the RAF V Bomber fleet, preferably with a source; and preferably with a credible source from a publication of good repure, rather than fly_boy234's post on page fifteen of the forum at

    E.g. you would have to write that "The Concorde was briefly mooted as a replacement for the RAF's V Bomber fleet, in an article published in the June 1962 issue of 'Imperial Air Review', written by Group Captain Cholmondeley-Harcourt d'Veers (Mrs). In the article, Group Captain d'Veers wrote that etc."

    The Concorde would not have been a successful bomber. It would be unable to fly at supersonic speeds over Europe, due to noise restrictions. The Russians would telephone BOAC for the scheduled flight times to Moscow, and alert their defences accordingly. Russian spies could sleep tranquilisers into the in-flight meals, or nobble the stewardesses. Which sounds rude.

  10. peter Silver badge

    It's got to be said:

    All editors are equal, but some editors are more equal than others. ;)

  11. Andy Fletcher

    Anyone have a date yet... to when Google is going to buy Wikipedia?

  12. Chris

    As much as I'd like to hate wikipedia..........

    Really, as much as I'd love to agree with the continuing crusade against Wikipedia, every time I try to find information about something topical (be it the Red Mosque or Britney Spears) Wikipedia is a great starting point for information.

    As long as you assume that Wikipedia isn't perfect (or even nearly perfect) isn't it a great information source?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The amount of time people put into a "Volatile" 'pedia....

    Seriously.... treat it like ram.

    Post the article...and the moment the plug is pulled... buh bye!

    Wiki is only good for those who are trekies and big time fans of starwars.... stuff so complex that it would have to rely on fans.

    When you start talking about general stuff such as lava lamps... how the heck can anyone know what is posted is accurate? All i see is we got a bunch of kids... or self proclaimed "experts" who claim they know what they are doing.. heck.. if I was eloquint enough... I could scrub a pile of articles just by complaining to the "admin" of wiki... theres no enforcement or any sort of order... its even an insult to open source technology... of which has far better preservation stiuplations that wiki could ever hope to achieve.

    Wikipedia needs to be shut down... until such time people can propperly manage it... because honestly.. its turning into the gossip-pedia... who ever has the biggest influence... can get their stuff to stay.

    Why do you think all major schools/campus's bann the site as a source for research?

    I rest my case.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The thing is that Wikipedia is sold on "anyone can fix errors" not "anyone can make errors". Newbies can't tell the difference.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    same here - they repeatedly delete genuine content

    over at , there is a heated talk because wikipedia keeps deleting content that is perfectly acceptable. First they deleted it because of 'misogyny' - then they claimed it was in violation of copyright, even though the founders of the article's name specifically stated there was NO copyright - then they deleted it because they claim that thousands of blogs, forums and websites that refer to it are not 'sufficient' evidence of it's existence. for more information on it.

  16. Bruce LaDuke

    The Emperor has no Clothes

    New knowledge and original research is openly censored in Wikipedia, and in my experience its editors seem to be proud of it. As such, it can never have the latest, greatest knowledge. It is at best an historical record of past 'experts' created by self-proclaimed 'experts' who are looking more at the Wikipedia rule book than they are at logic.

    In effect, Wikipedia is a snapshot of the scholastic chaos that has been created by a global educational system that has abandoned practical application for concepts and principles. It does a good job of recording the disparate mess of knowledge our current global band of 'experts' has created with no purpose in mind.

    If you look exhaustively at the term 'creativity' as an example, the term has scores if not hundreds of definitions across disciplines, and the number is growing every year. These definitions are often contradictory, but most often these are 'slight variations' as one moves from one discipline to another. The result is knowledge chaos, that wikipedia seemingly dutifully, but not completely, records.

    If I want I'm sure I could go out and add a hundred or so other existing 'expert' opinions on the term. But I'll suffer the wrath of the editors if I try to make some sense of this definition soup. For you see, Wikipedia is not interested in solving the problem of too many disparate definitions, it instead tries to amalgamate the chaos of unintegrated scholastic 'expert' opinions into one article full of disparity, error, and chaos as it exists today in academia.

    Our entire global educational system is founded on this concept of expertise, and yet no one can agree on a definition. That because expertise is political, not logical. Wikipedia and its sister Citizendium are just showing our world clearly that they concept of expertise is bogus and that what we really need is a rational logic test akin to scientific method to 'prove' knowledge.

    Knowledge is one, so the concept of the wiki is a powerful concept. But that said, as long as knowledge building is rooted in the politics of expertise instead of logic (in academia or online), society will simply fall deeper into knowledge chaos and undo complexity.

    We used to be able to absorb this chaos, but today, new knowledge is being created at an exponential pace and as such, our methods for managing it are breaking down. The entire 'discipline' of knowledge management is toothless and lame in the face of this problem. It is a weak variant of instructional design that does not comprehend practical application, the basic principles of economics, or the entire lifecycle of knowledge.


  17. Chris Reeve

    An excellent case study in wikipedia censorship

    Wikipedia generally works for simple, uncontested issues. However, once things become complicated, then wikipedia can become more colored by peoples' agendas than by some altruistic attempt to provide information to curious people.

    An excellent case study in this relates to the topic of the Electric Universe Theory. There has been so much argumentation on the wiki pages about whether or not EU Theory is actually true that the notion that people should be told what it is and given the evidence for or against it so that they can decide for themselves has been completely lost in the debate. What's been left is the decision to not display any page whatsoever, as if the theory does not exist. Repeated attempts to re-introduce the pages are typically taken down within about five minutes. Given that very few people have actually read what EU Theory states, it's a very safe bet to presume that the people who are preventing these pages from appearing have not actually given the materials a fair hearing. In fact, it tends to be the case that people who read "The Electric Sky" by Don Scott will tend to agree that the book and theory are very much worth attention. There is no shortage of positive book reviews out there and good deficit of poor ones. So, in this particular situation, we have people who have never read about the material preventing others who are curious about it from learning about it.

    There is some irony associated with this decision as well, as one of the claims by EU Theorists is that scientists have been formulating consensuses on important astrophysical topics with insufficient evidence to do so. It appears that the decision to ban EU Theory from wikipedia is itself an inappropriate consensus. Regardless of how absurd people may believe an idea is, it's very important that we not restrict peoples' abilities to learn what those things are, no matter what that idea is. Our country is based upon the idea of freedom from censorship. There is something inherently wrong about wiki's complicated policy on controversial issues. There should be very few instances where censorship is considered the best available option, and this should definitely not qualify as one of them.

    Ian Tresman has documented much of the struggle to teach people what EU Theory says on the wikipedia pages. His site is at, which actually uses the wiki code. People can at least go to that site and decide for themselves based upon the evidence -- which is actually quite impressive when you go over it.

  18. Conway

    And there's the rub

    I have always found the problem with Wikipedia to be that it contains an awful lot of words, and very little real information. I guess that is a shortcoming of articles written by committee, there is a lack of cohesion that grates.

    I prefer myself.

  19. Karim Bourouba

    Wikipedia is a bit poo

    Sometimes you can find useful info on wikipedia, but then it is not anything groundbreaking. For instance, I wanted to know what cable and plugs to use in order to extend my phone line at home. Checked wikipedia and it gave me the base info to go and search google.

    However, I have tried to put up sensible articles on there only to have them completely rewritten by people who know nothing about the content. For instance, I gre up in Somerset and tried to add some information about the village where I lived as a boy, someone came along and removed all the work I put into the article after are bout 15 mins. Sick thing is, I practically know everyone who can use a keyboard in that village and know none of them changed it. Instead some spotty little oik from the US probably decided he knew better.

    If I need some serious information, I do actually look it up in a book more than use wikipedia.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People who think the only country in the world is the USA shouldn't be allowed to moderate

    We tried to put up a page about our student union newspaper, smallish print run 10k readers a week, but most student union newspapers in the uk have done the same and there is an official catagory for them (United Kingdom Student Newspapers) with about 30 entries.

    An american moderator kept taking it down and banning the page, these were the reasons he gave 1) an ivy league paper 2) a paper that founded a national association in the 40's in the USA 3) our USA print run was 0 copies 4) No famous journalists have contributed to American society in the last 50 years!

    I did point out numerous times that this wasn't relevant as we were in the UK, and that other such articles existed! Eventually another moderator had some sense and told him to shut up.

    The trouble with the some moderators is that if they don't agree, don't know or don't care they'll just take it down for being insignificant without checking it out.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    updating, copyright confirmation etc is unduly complicated

    i have just been on wikipedia, came across an article that included a photo i shot, and which said that if the image could not be ok'ed somehow, that it was coming down - tried to work out HOW to ok it and gave up after an hour of being thrown from one page to another, each filled with unreadable code and boxes with obscure reference

    i have to say that wikipedia is a complete mess for those who are not prepared to spend a percentage of their LIFE trying to understand it

    and to find that an article that IS true is to be removed becasue no one associated with the subject understands HOW to confirm facts, is absolutely ridiculous -

    the whole site needs greatly simplifying asap, otherwise these administers will wield uncontrollable powers

  22. Sean Healey


    I note that 'OTRS' is repeated throughout the article as if this is some evil invention of the Wikipedians.

    OTRS is in fact a fairly decent piece of FOSS, which can be found at and is entirely independent of Wiki-land.

    Please don't tar them with the same 'incompetent' brush as Jimmy Wales' crew!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Social skills, or lack thereof

    My brief jaunt on Wikipedia demonstrated that its main problem is that its most ardent editors, the ones most likely to become admin fodder, seem to be rather lacking in social skills; in summary, they just can't play nice with the other kids. After what seemed like an eternity of "if you can't back up your edits with reliable sources, I'm replacing it with my opinion on the matter" and "this article about British TV should use American spellings" and other such pettiness I eventually threw in the towel. I still think it's a good idea and is okay as a handy reference, but they really need to seriously sort out the standard of moderating as it's those people who are causing it to turn to shit, certainly much quicker than the legions of vandals who have an irrational but simple desire to write "arse" on as many pages as possible.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wikipedia biased

    Wikipedia is supposed to allow the description of all significant views. I've found that this is true in all areas except science, where a cabal of editors and administrators conspire to either remove alternative views. or judge them with suitable citations.

    I've seen readily verifiable information actively removed from articles, false or unverifiable information added to contentious articles. I've been banned from editing articles for allegedly being disruptive, but administrators have been unwilling or unable to provide editing examples. I've been banned for criticizing other editors whose approach is incompatible with policy. And I must be the only editor has been officially accused of having an "orientation".

    Wikipedia policy should prevent this, but in reality administrators may turn a blind eye to "favoured" editors, allowing them cart blanche to edit with impunity. I've even had Administrators condone personal attacks against me (banned by policy), and so it goes on.

  25. David


    A number of the Wiki admin have their own agenda, and act very much like the medieval church when it comes to scientific issues. The history of science, of course, is fraught with controversy, and the situation today is little different. The evidence should win out, and many in my specialist field, plasma cosmology, believe that we are seeing a paradign shift happening right now.

    However, wiki admin are wickedly suppressing, censoring, and misrepresenting a number of contemporary and genuine scientific endeavours.

    For example, they continually remove information about new books on Plasma Cosmology, The Electric Universe, Intrinsic Redshifts (Halton Arp) and many others, although most of these are written by professional scientists and highly regarded professors.

    Wikipedia has become a a sin against the principals on which the internet was founded! This situation is very sad.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wikipedia is biased and unaccountable.

    Wikipedia refuses to hold its admins accountable for statements they make that result in negative actions against users. They have banned people "by consensus", which amounts to lynching and "mob rule" without right to due process to deal with grievances that would affect the outcome of sanctions if the arbitration came out in favor of the user.

    It's ridiculous. Wikipedia holds itself up to ridicule every time they allow one of these bogus decisions to go unchallenged. WP:NOT indeed. WP is NOT a fair and amenable environment to work (especially when admins are allowed basically free reign and NOT held to a higher standard), especially where controversial topics polarize people and "mob rules" apply. Just terrible.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022