back to article Wikipedia’s biggest scandal: Industrial-scale blackmail

“It’s the wisdom of the crowd that gives you the best results in the long-term.” Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC No media mogul in history has ever matched the power of Wikipedia, which is capable of damaging reputations on an industrial scale. But with no checks in place to identify contributors, it was only a matter of time before …

  1. Whitter

    wikipedia; governments; churches; large companies; military etc.

    Acting just like any (every?) large-scale institution then.

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: wikipedia; governments; churches; large companies; military etc.

      There's hope for the next Chairman of the BBC Governors then.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: wikipedia; governments; churches; large companies; military etc.

      Few things are as retarded as large groups of people. None of us are as dumb as all of us. Humans basically are another herd animal for the most part.

      1. Soap Distant

        Re: wikipedia; governments; churches; large companies; military etc.

        @ AC " Humans basically are another herd animal for the most part."

        Worse still we're actually very tribal.

        SD

      2. BongoJoe

        Re: wikipedia; governments; churches; large companies; military etc.

        Oh, the so called Wisdom of Crowds argument,

        We've seen investors in the stock markets, One Direction weeny boppers, Daily Mail readership and the like. This isn't Wisdom of the Crowd rather a flock of lemmings.

    3. Faux Science Slayer

      Wikipedia is elitist directed FALSE narrative propaganda....

      Wiki was caught spiking +5000 articles that even casually mentioned "no CO2 warming" and banning over 1000 highly qualified contributors for questioning the AGW meme. Wiki insets "Carbon climate forcing" into almost every Earth science post. This has been a rigged, three sided FAKE debate between the elitist shamen Darth BIG Warmists, the controlled opposition Luke LITTLE Warmists and the Obie NO Warmists. In a three sided debate, two sides are WRONG.

      coasttocoastam.com/show/2015/03/18 > Climate Change & Thermodynamics was a two hour interview, aired on 615 radio stations, to 2 million listeners on the REAL Earth science.

      "Lukewarm Lemmings and the Lysenko Larceny" describes the FAKE debate, at FauxScienceSlayer.

      1. asdf

        Re: Wikipedia is elitist directed FALSE narrative propaganda....

        Wait was your point wiki is biased? because I sense you are not at all. Repeat after me anti intellectual != skeptic.

      2. Just Enough

        Re: Wikipedia is elitist directed FALSE narrative propaganda....

        Wait... are you seriously using a show on Coast to Coast AM to support your argument??

        Coast to Coast AM, the talk show radio specializing in conspiracy theories, paranormal woo-woo and general empty-headed bullshit for insomniacs?

        Seriously??

      3. James O'Shea

        Re: Wikipedia is elitist directed FALSE narrative propaganda....

        "In a three sided debate, two sides are WRONG."

        It is entirely possible that all three sides in a three-sided 'debate' are wrong.

      4. Pat Att

        Re: Wikipedia is elitist directed FALSE narrative propaganda....

        You are Lewis Page and I claim my five pounds.

      5. rtb61

        Re: Wikipedia is elitist directed FALSE narrative propaganda....

        Wikipedia is open editable, it's power is only a measure of it's popularity as an open editable publication. Don't like it don't read it. At the end of the day only lying public relations agencies are sucked in by it. There are more articles than any person can read in many lifetimes, most content is lost in amongst that and really it makes little difference. As soon as public relations agencies started trolling it, people who regularly contribute to it decided to take the piss out of public relations trolls, making them pay one way or another, until they finally give up.

        Basically the complain is Wikipedia was caught being 'er' 'um' wikipedia an open editable encyclopaedia, where people edit documents for various reason. Not happy with then then twaddle off to http://www.conservapedia.com/Main_Page and be happy, or more accurately angry at everyone away from everyone and get your favourite corporations to pay for it.

    4. rtb61

      Re: wikipedia; governments; churches; large companies; military etc.

      Well, no, Wikipedia is acting exactly like itself, an open edited encyclopaedia. Errors enter and are removed, simple as that. That is the nature of what it is, errors will occur, lots of them and they will be fixed over time. Come on seriously guys RTFM, why is that so well known a comment that it extends into RTFA on places like slashdot.

      Seriously people only full articles when they are really interested in one of the 4.9 million articles and when it comes to individuals often only them or the PR publicists. In fact the only time Wikipedia draw real attention (aside from school project research being by far the best place to kick of your research) is when some idiot goes silly with lawyers and actively draws attention to it.

      The rest of the time, it might as well not even be there. Ohh the calamity, yeah right, super lame, more like so what unless some draws attention to it via a lawyers or main stream media (in that case both the lawyers and main stream media draw the attention and the Wikipedia article slowly decomposes into oblivion with lack of attention).

  2. Chuunen Baka

    Too late

    For better or worse WP has evolved its own culture and is highly resistant to change. Anyone who doesn't like the way they do things is eventually frozen out. But if you can stay below the admins' radar you can get away with a lot.

    1. asdf

      Re: Too late

      Stephen Colbert pretty much nailed the essence of wikipedia as applied to reality years ago. Nothing has changed.

  3. DaveDaveDave

    I gave up on Wikipedia a while ago...

    ...after I was banned for trying to remove libellous antisemitic conspiracy theories about the Rothschilds from a page about the richest people on the planet, acting in full accordance with Wiki policies, and despite those theories being expressly listed (and fully referenced) as antisemitic rubbish on both the page about antisemitic conspiracy theories and the page about the Rothschilds.

    Obvious truth is less important to Wikipedia than playing the Wiki-Nomic game.

    1. Ole Juul

      Re: I gave up on Wikipedia a while ago...

      I too have given up on it from an editing point of view. There are just too many "editors" with no respect for useful and verifiable information.

      That said, I do use use Wikipedia a lot, but then I have a sceptical disposition and a very active bullshit meter. And that's something which is sorely lacking in a very large number of people. Seriously, would you take a Wikipedia entry about a political personality at face value? I really, really, hope not.

      Andrew is right though, this anonymity has got to go. It is a very important principle on the internet, but it's neither practical nor useful to Wikipedia.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: I gave up on Wikipedia a while ago...

        There are different "levels" of anonimity - you can be anonymous to wikipedia readers, still wikipedia may know who you are, and have "vetted" you.

        That's, for example, how it works in the press. You may keep a source identity secret, yet you know who the source is, and you shoud have checked if he or she can be trusted or not. A journalist who blindy accept any news from unverified anonymous sources would be regarded just a fool.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I gave up on Wikipedia a while ago...

          A journalist who blindy accept any news from unverified anonymous sources would be regarded as a verified Daily Mail Journo

        2. John Lilburne

          Re: I gave up on Wikipedia a while ago...

          What evidence do you have that the WMF vets anyone? The administrators there aren't vetted, those with advanced powers checkusers, bureaucrats, members of arbcom are required to send ID to the WMF who having determined that the person is +18 promptly shred the evidence. It has been known for kids to send fake ID.

        3. NicholasStixUncensored

          Re: I gave up on Wikipedia a while ago...

          Terrible analogy. Wikipedia “editors” are not sources.

      2. DaveDaveDave

        Re: I gave up on Wikipedia a while ago...

        "That said, I do use use Wikipedia a lot, but then I have a sceptical disposition and a very active bullshit meter."

        Yes, that's a fair point. I still read, I've just stopped editing even for the most minor clarifications. And I've never taken anything Wiki told me as particularly likely to be correct, let alone definitive. Articles about things where no-one has any position to uphold - say, about plumbing fittings - are likely but not certain to be reasonably accurate. The rest, you can get a good idea only of how contentious it is, and which side of the argument is currently controlling the page in question.

      3. BillG
        Headmaster

        Re: I gave up on Wikipedia a while ago...

        I was editing the entry about, of all people, George Washington. I made a short entry about a cited commendation he received, with a link to a .mil website. Within six hours I got a post on my Talk page by both an editor and a moderator that the entry had been removed and warning me about the triple revert rule. The messages that followed between me and those two were too silly even for the Marx brothers.

        The Wikipedia Contradiction: If you are an expert in your field, you are too busy to fanatically edit Wikipedia every day. And if you have the time to fanatically edit Wikipedia every day, then you cannot be an expert in your field.

        1. VinceH

          Re: I gave up on Wikipedia a while ago...

          "The Wikipedia Contradiction"

          There should be a page on Wikipedia explaining that.

    2. Hans 1

      Re: I gave up on Wikipedia a while ago...

      Go look at the article about Israel, mere pro-Israeli propaganda. I agree, obvious truth is less important to Wikipedia than playing the Wiki-Nomic game.

      So I have had issues as well, though I look past and edit less sensitive articles. Sensitive articles usually have a 'maintainer' whose views cannot be contradicted. However, you have a talk page on wikipedia where views can be expressed.

      Other encyclopediae have this problem as well, though, and since they were/are printed or pressed you cannot even 'attempt' to edit them and you have no talk page, it's tough at the top, so worse, in a sense.

      1. DaveDaveDave

        Re: I gave up on Wikipedia a while ago...

        Forget Israel. I can't imagine any of the pages relating to anywhere in that region contain any reliable information at all thanks to people dedicated to pushing their particular view. Not even the one about hummus.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Lamest_edit_wars/Ethnic_feuds#Hummus_and_friends

        1. Bleu

          Re: I gave up on Wikipedia a while ago...

          Your linked page is full of rubbish. Why you bothered to post anything is a mystery.

          Humous (intentional mis-spelling) is pretty boring.

          Everything in the cuisine has Greek roots, with contributions from the eastern citizens and subjects of Rome, also no doubt from Egyptian traditions.

          Turks copied their pide from the Armenians they so dislike. However, I can't complain about the spiced meats and interesting cheeses they use, very tasty. OTOH, I avoid their sellers here, they don't bother to do a decent job. I will also boycott for politico-cultural reasons, with the Turkey of now.

          I hear about 'Israeli restaurants' which are serving what sounds like lebanese cuisine, sounds nice, but nothing like what the parents of jewish acquaintances served when overseas.

          Also to avoiding 'Israeli' cuisine places in Tokyo, overpriced.

          1. Robert Baker
            Joke

            Re: I gave up on Wikipedia a while ago...

            "However, I can't complain about the spiced meats and interesting cheeses they use"

            Because if you do, you get reverted? :-)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I gave up on Wikipedia a while ago...

        Anon or not, any 'definitive objective source of information' is guaranteed to be riddled with lies and omissions regarding any contentious subject. Real-name policies merely tip the scale in favor of powerful groups, as criticism invites retaliation. It's still worth checking for red flags... but Wikipedia is no better than, say, Encyclopedia Dramatica.

        Anyone else think this would work better under a Git-like model? Everyone can fork and edit their own version of the truth, all anonymously hosted in the p2p ether -or- stored privately (ie. personal notes). At least one could see the prevailing opinions in different camps.

        1. Bleu

          Re: I gave up on Wikipedia a while ago...

          Encyclopedia Dramatica had its share of informative and accurate articles. Reality can be painfully side-splitting.

          It is funny that, IIRC, the Wikipedia only recognised Dramatica after the plug was pulled on the original, and a version resuscitated (partly) shuffled into a kind of zombie existence.

          Bad boy bot monster Ryan Cleary deserves much credit for the re-creation (no irony intended).

          Must check some time to see if there are any good new articles. Somehow, I doubt it.

    3. The Dude

      Re: I gave up on Wikipedia a while ago...

      Me too. I tried to put a fairly basic page and description with some documents from an important legal decision, and some Wiki-editor deleted it all. There was nothing wrong with what I put up, it was basically just neutral facts about a lawsuit... but the judge's words in the judgment were a damning indictment of the ethics and integrity (or lack thereof) of a certain gender-focused ideological faction in society.

      So... sure, anybody can edit... but it won't last long if a wiki-personage does not like it. Consequently, it's no better than facebook, twitter or any other social media.

  4. Turtle

    When Wales Can Fly.

    I recall reading that Wales was involved with a scheme in which he charged companies $5000 to delete unfavorable articles. So you know what you can expect from him in the way of change.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: When Wales Can Fly.

      [citation needed]

    2. Kane Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: When Wales Can Fly.

      "I recall reading that Wales was involved with a scheme in which he charged companies $5000 to delete unfavorable articles." [citation needed]

    3. joeW

      Re: When Wales Can Fly.

      Did you read that on Wikipedia by any chance?

      1. TeeCee Gold badge
        Coat

        Re: When Wales Can Fly.

        When whales can fly[cetacean needed]

  5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Hmmm....

    I may agree on the core, but this is an article by the contrarian A - so how much drama and thin threads of rhetoric (including the required seguing into the "won't anybody think of the copyrights" paragraph, where did that come from) am I looking at?

    Yes, Wikipedia is very mass of good, bad and ugly as well as the useless and seems to think it should also be a righteous whistleblower site. But so what?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This comment reverted because someone in Illinois thinks they know better than me

    1. Hans 1
      Joke

      Could have been worse, imagine it reverted by a texan ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This comment reverted because someone in Illinois t̶h̶i̶n̶k̶s̶ knows they know better than me

      FTFY

  7. Alan Denman

    Are most Wiki editors employed to spin a vision?

    Having had a run in with one prolific editor, I garnered that I had to stay open minded about Wiki truths.

    The trick seems to be to get dodgy info published elsewhere thus ensuring half truths become become Wiki facts!

    Saying that, Wikis are still better sources of fact than most but I do confirm what others say.

    1. DaveDaveDave

      Re: Are most Wiki editors employed to spin a vision?

      "The trick seems to be to get dodgy info published elsewhere thus ensuring half truths become become Wiki facts!"

      If you do it right, you use Wiki as the source for a blog post on somewhere Wikipedia considers reliable (like Gawker...), and then use that in turn as the reference for the Wiki article.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Are most Wiki editors employed to spin a vision?

        Ah yes. I remember this coming up in Private Eye some time ago. An entry in Wikipedia was complete bollocks, some intern at the Daily Twittergraph duly lifted it as background for an article and it went into print.

        Private Eye took great delight in pointing out that since Wikipedia's standard for veracity included publication in a journal of record (which even includes the Hellograph), by their standards this load of cobblers was, er, true.

        I believe this phenomenon is now generally known as the "wikicirclejerk".

  8. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Sceptical

    I think the message that you need to take anything they say with a pinch of salt has been well absorbed by now.

    Sadly, some people still believe what Wikipedia says without filtering it through their common sense.

    Which doesn't absolve Wikipedia from the charges,of course.

  9. Naselus

    "No media mogul in history has ever matched the power of Wikipedia, which is capable of damaging reputations on an industrial scale."

    William Randolph Hearst was able to make nations go to war with each other. Until someone can find a link to prove the Russian annexation of the Crimea was based on a contentious Wiki edit, I think we might consider wikipedia in a slightly less hysterical light.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'd add Rupert Murdoch and his cronies to the list.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ Lost all faith...

        Murdoch certainly has more resources to play with:

        $12.4 billion, as opposed to (a supposedly shocking) $70 million.

        1. maxregister

          Re: @ Lost all faith...

          are we deciding most influential, or most influence per dollar?

  10. DropBear

    Dear Author,

    Obvious lack of objectivity aside, it's usually spelled "Kazakh"...

    Hugs and kisses,

    Borat

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You only have to look at something controversial like, to pick an entirely random example, the gamergate controversy page. The narrative was decided fairly early on and anything that contradicts it is rejected as violating NPOV or being an unreliable source, despite those same sources being considered reliable throughout the rest of wikipedia and the entire article being a violation of NPOV to begin with. Once articles start citing the wikipedia page as evidence for one side of the story, they're added as sources and are used to reinforce the narrative. Since they're reliable sources what they say must be true, and so therefore iti s.

    That is just one example. You could pick any remotely controversial idea and find an article that follows the same pattern, creating entire narratives and "facts" out of nothing but circular references between wikipedia and lazy media outlets who can't research past wiki and google.

    Wikipedia's rule against using primary sources and "original research" means that it can never be reliable on anything, no matter how innocuous. Once a "reliable source" has been found for a statement made on the page, it becomes verified truth, and never mind what reality says.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Axe to grind

    El Reg or someone employed there seems to have an axe to grind with Wikipedia.

    .

    All sites have their pros and cons. Take El Reg's "unbiased" stance on the Cloud for example.

    A massive public site written largely by the public is bound to run into issues such as these, but removing anonymity would stifle political edits due to fear of reprisal.

    Some changes are needed, but they need to be weighed very carefully. On one side you'll have the site rejected from multiple countries, on the other people's lives could be at risk for writing "unpopular" views (Eg: evolution in a heavily pro-creationist country).

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Bleu

        Re: Axe to grind

        I am not sure about the EFF, they seem pretty worthy except when they stray into supporting freetardry on less well off creators.

        Google and Wikipedia deserve every bucketload of criticism thrown at them, Google isn't very quality conscious in important markets, their Japanese mail application is atrocious, I suppose the English one is no better.

        Wikipedia is a school playground for domineering fools and bureaucrats.

        Both deserve all criticism they receive. In the case of Wikipedia, though, a good portion of the complainers are weird monomaniacs who are just whining because they are being denied a platform to say ridiculous things, not that the controlling cliques are much different, only they get to say who has a say.

    2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Drewc (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

        Re: Re: Axe to grind

        Some articles are pre-moderated. Some anonymous posters are pre-moderated - I don't remember the (automated) criteria. Some commenters are flagged for pre-moderation. I can confirm that you are not in this category.

      2. Bleu

        Re: Axe to grind

        I'm rather curious to learn how "waiting for moderation" is applied to comments on these articles.

        Is it all user="anonymous coward" and regporter="A.O." comments, or is my account singled out for special treatment? Will I have the privilege of being Blessed or Damned by A.O. personally?

        Foolish post. It is up now, isn't it?

        It seems the moderators on the reg. were tired, drunk, few, or having parties last night, approval of posts took a little more time than usual. Who cares?

        I very much doubt that Mr. Orlowski has you on the special blacklist you like to imagine he may have.

        Persecution complex much? You could embrace it rather more on the Wikipedia. The rulers there enjoy dishing it out, you may get some real thrills participating against party lines!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Axe to grind

          Blue, when multiple posts go straight to "wait", especially on articles of a certain author, what am I supposed to conclude?

  13. tskears

    It's OK to say w**ker, it was on El Reg

    The times that I do refer to Wikipedia, I season everything I read with a liberal shake of salt.

    Some articles are demonstrably inaccurate, some are I-know-more-than you-do patronizing to the point of offensive, but in fairness a few are actually well written. And so we come to the Title Line...

    My wife calls them all WIKI-W**NKERS and refuses to read anything on Wicked Wikipedia.

    1. h4rm0ny
      Headmaster

      Re: It's OK to say wanker, it was on El Reg

      For Pity's sake, it's bad enough when people self-censor stronger words, given all it does is send a message that the author thinks the word is offensive even if the reader would not. But censoring "wanker"? This is a British tech site. I think we'll survive the word.

  14. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

    Reading two Wikis in parallel

    can be instructive (for me that is English and Krautish). English tends to give more information but sometimes just babbles along without apparent point or structure.

    Even just the number of (language-) versions of a single article can be telling.

    An example of a vanity article (including the telltale "can't get over myself" image), which appears to be easier to plug into the English Wiki compared to others, is this. Note there is no version of this in any language other than English, not even in the Latvian language.

    And then there are original sources to read, at least someone on the internet said that.

    1. anonCoward24
      Thumb Up

      Re: Reading two Wikis in parallel

      Rules are different among diff language wpedias. EN insists on published sources and those can be cited even if pure nonsense and fluff detail, IMHO the Continent languages are more open to good writing and detail.

      Interestingly, the "no original research" is the opposite regarding images. Those generally MUST be original work due to copyright restrictions.

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

        Re: Reading two Wikis in parallel

        > Rules are different among diff language wpedias.

        Thanks, I was not aware of this.

        > ..."no original research" is the opposite regarding images.

        Not quite, you can pick an image when the copyright situation allows, see the very many old photos in any Wiki.

  15. captain veg

    "Grant Shapps found his reputation smeared"

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

  16. Chris Hunt

    Hmmmmm

    Looking through that Independent article, there seem to be quite a mixed bag of scams going on.

    At least some of them appeared to be of the form "victim approached by somebody claiming to be from Wikipedia, paid them to get an article added/edited, and didn't get what they paid for." It's hard to see what Wikipedia could do about that scam, unless Andrew's suggesting that they be granted the right to vet every email sent in the world to check it doesn't make such false claims.

    Wikipedia is big, it's high profile, and it's going to attract a lot of scumbags trying to make money off it. I don't see how changing the anonymity rules is going to change that. Any "wedding photographer in Dorset" who knows enough about wikipedia to identify an editor from their putative non-anonymous id should know enough to know that a page about a wedding photographer in Dorset is likely to be rejected for lack of notability - it's an encyclopedia, not the yellow pages.

    PS. Since we're in the territory of "oh noes! wikipedia publishes untrue and unproven things about people," how about a credible source for "one Wikipedian who reported another Wikipedian to the police for serious sexual charges found herself vilified by members of the community”? I'm not saying it isn't true but, well, [citation needed].

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why do they keep asking for donations when they're sitting on a pile of cash?

    1. VinceH

      Because a huge pile of cash can never be too big. There's always room for more.

    2. Bleu

      I avoid them as much as I can, but I accidentally clicked on a link one or two months ago.

      Huge banner:

      GIVE US MONEY!

      Sorry, Elevation Partners and others seem to be amply providing for the wikipedia's desire for cash.

      Many people with a little experience of the ugly reality would, wisely, not throw one yen in the direction of the wikipedia OR the Wikimedia Foundation.

      1. h4rm0ny

        >>"I avoid them as much as I can, but I accidentally clicked on a link one or two months ago. Huge banner: GIVE US MONEY!"

        I actually used to give them a fair bit of money (in non-millionaire private individual terms, anyway). I stopped after that debacle with the "monkey selfie". If you want an essay in smugness, read their own page on the criticism. This was when they declared that the photo couldn't be copyrighted because the monkey had pressed the button.

        Because it is just chance that the professional nature photographer had travelled half-way around the world specifically to photograph these monkeys, spent days carefully approaching the troupe and getting accepted by them (not easy, I would guess), set up the equipment deliberately for this purpose, transferred the resulting images to their computer, did the work of going through them all to select suitable ones, did the appropriate cropping to frame it artistically, performed who knows how much post work on the thing (because I guarantee that photo didn't look like that in its raw state) and did all this as part of their professional job. No, a monkey was involved so Wikimedia declare the photo is free for them now. I bet the same people are quick to condemn any lawyer in court who tried to pull some technicality trick, but it's okay for them to do it.

        That sort of small-minded, self-righteousness I do not wish to fund. Lost a LOT of respect for them after that.

        1. Bleu

          Upvote from me

          AC, just a shame you used to GIVE MONEY.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I suggest taking some monkeys round to Jimmy Wales' house.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The pile has become compressed, which makes it uncomfortable so they need some fresh money to give it a bit more cushion.

      Anything left over will go into the mattress.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The biggest issue with Wikipedia is that it is written and monitored by humans.

    Bias will always creep in.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Not just bias, the very fact that those who do this are mostly doing so voluntarily leads straight into what I refer to as the "socialist trap".

      "I'm doing the right thing here for the good of all, motivated only by altruism and my love for humanity. Therefore anyone who disagrees with me is an evil fascist trying to undermine my good work.".

  19. phil dude
    Coat

    web content and Version control...

    This seems on topic. Is there any common web facing content system that shows the history of the document? I don't mean the vague "This article was changed at X", but rather like the source code browsers on github (say).

    Wikipedia is an amazing collection information, but only a source of looking elsewhere.

    Maybe it is just me, but I don't trust anything I read online without a bit of circumspection...

    P.

    1. Old Handle

      Re: web content and Version control...

      I assume you're aware that Wikipedia does show a detailed history of each article, including exactly what was changed by whom. I'm not that familiar with source code browsers, but I'm curious exactly what you think they should do better.

  20. PassiveSmoking

    [Citation needed]

    You make a hell of a lot of claim about Wikipedia and the people associated with it (it can damage reputations on an "industrial scale", it rakes in $70 million in donations but only needs $3 million/year to run, an editor has been ostracised for reporting another editor to the police etc etc etc) but I don't see a single source for any of those claims. The only part of the story I understand to be true (because I've seen it published elsewhere) is the fact that Wikipedia just turfed out a load of astroturfers and sock-puppets.

    Please provide some sources for the other stuff if you want me to think it's anything more than a rant against a website you don't care for.

    1. Old Handle
      Joke

      Re: [Citation needed]

      It's OK, the register is a reliable source so everything they say is automatically true.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Coat

        Re: [Citation needed]

        Absolutely true, no doubt about it, who could even question it?

  21. Mage Silver badge
    Devil

    Only about 400?

    I'd have expected at least x10 more dodgy authors scamming businesses etc .

  22. Bleu

    Ah, Mr. Orlowski

    You have a good line of (well-deserved) cynicism towards Mr. Whales and the Wikipedian machine.

    When I still enjoyed playing the wikipedia RPG, I was instrumental in the removal of two or three of their worst and most virtual-power crazed admins.

    I think you did a rather good article or two on one of them, but I collected the details that got him or her unseated in the end. Fun.

    Can't be bothered to play anymore, and I never use the Wikipedia if I cannot find another source for reference, preferably on paper, but any other electronic source will do.

    Part of my translation from the French of Francois Marmande:

    [The Wikipedia is] a parlour game, totalitarianism in a human mask, trap-laden territory, modern life, a universal religion.

    I am sure that I rendered his meaning correctly, and am in complete agreement.

    The rest of the translation (par moi) is available on a site that has much unsavoury content, fun in the 2005 to 2008 times.

    Oh noes, I will being in the deadly danger now!!!

  23. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    It's not all bad

    I'm confident the article on the Yoshimi soft-synth is 100% correct, because I was the one who last edited it.

    ...

    Oh!

  24. Modeller

    I'll make your own Wikipedia with

    "grown-ups in charge" and "identification of identity"! In fact, forget about Wikipedia!

    Joking aside, I do not see how the removal of anonymity would suddenly make articles about Middle East or Kazakhstan any less politically skewed. So instead of some big_kazakh username you will have a person named Karim Islambekov who is entitled to his political view, and he happens to love the eternal president of Kazakhstan [president's bio], his administration and the cabinet of ministers very much for very sound reasons [link to glorious statistics]. Any dissident Kazakhs would be very foolish to expose their real names by editing Islambekov's articles.

    1. I am not spartacus

      Re: I'll make your own Wikipedia with

      "Any dissident Kazakhs would be very foolish to expose their real names by editing Islambekov's articles."

      In that circumstance you are absolutely correct; the only outcome can be a bias towards the forces in power with whatever local opposition not choosing to give the regime a handy list of those to be disappeared. Ex-pat opposition might have a go, up to a point, but it would still be a bias.

      One thing find a little disturbing is how few Wiki articles that you see with a 'this side claims this, that side claims the opposite thing' kind of tone. You'd probably expect all of politics and the contested parts of science (say, climate change, evolution, particularly from those who claim that they haven't), religion, whole swathes of history to be all of that nature and they're just not.

      1. DocJames
        WTF?

        Re: I'll make your own Wikipedia with

        One thing [I] find a little disturbing is how few Wiki articles that you see with a 'this side claims this, that side claims the opposite thing' kind of tone.

        Yes, this is true.

        You'd probably expect all of politics and the contested parts of science

        Indeed.

        (say, climate change, evolution...

        Wait, WTF?!? Are you claiming that evolution is seriously contestable? There are some flat earthers out there but to claim that "the Earth is a [rough] sphere is contested" is not a useful statement. Equally so with evolution.

        I'm now worried (seeing as the rest of your post seems so rational) that this is some kind of great joke and I've just missed it.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Was the USSR an ally of Nazi Germany?

    Nope, according to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allies_of_World_War_II

    our Ruski friends were only "second" to the US and of course ahead of Great Britain, and Joseph Stalin is the top Main Allied Leader https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II.

    The respective "talk" pages have convinced me that it is the best investment for that country with its previously quite dirty international reputation, to hire a few WP editors in English. They will confound every foe, tire them, and eventually win.

    They know the respective page will be served wholesale as education, now that Pearson and McMillan no longer force sheepeachers to disparage WP, and used as reference everywhere, especially among those populating the halls of that least democratic international institution, the UN.

    I am actually surprised that this is not even more common. Best ROI for PR. The only thing that saves us so far is that, besides the pro-Russia ones, most others are rather weak and unlearned. I must admit with some admiration and envy that the Russian ones are effective, and thorough.

    1. b_armitage

      Re: Was the USSR an ally of Nazi Germany?

      in terms of lives lost the USSR lost way more than the rest of the allies combined

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Coat

        Re: Was the USSR an ally of Nazi Germany?

        largely their own fault in the begining stages and they were allies, see what happened to Poland

        mine is the one with the Invasion Plans in the pocket

      2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: Was the USSR an ally of Nazi Germany?

        Not sure why the US is at the top, didn't they turn up late? Again?

    2. Robert Baker
      Joke

      Re: Was the USSR an ally of Nazi Germany?

      Sounds like that Wikipedian has an Axis to grind.

    3. John Hughes

      Re: Was the USSR an ally of Nazi Germany?

      Nope, according to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allies_of_World_War_II

      So Wikipedia gets some things right then.

      Of course the USSR wasn't an ally of Nazi Germany you pillock.

      They had a non-agression treaty at the start of the war, but that didn't make them allies.

  26. Six_Degrees

    There's no question that Wikipedia has problems.

    But there's a simple solution that doesn't involve having them change. Set up your own encyclopedic project and run it according to the rules you think would be better.

    Wiki software is now widely available (even Wikipedia's own software is readily available for download) and initial hosting services cost pennies. By the time you outgrow basline hosting, you'll presumably have managed to establish enough of a clientele to keep you afloat and finance more substantial support.

    Wikipedia is not going to change. Do better.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Do better? We risk replicating the Linux(etc) window manager problem where there are a hundred alternatives, none of them exactly correct...

      1. DocJames
        Coat

        Obligatory xkcd

        http://www.xkcd.com/927/

  27. Youngone Silver badge
    Flame

    My own time

    I don't accept that most employers, (or indeed any employers) have the right to sanction employees for what they do in their own time, at 1 minute past 5 or 3 in the morning.

    If my boss wanted to, I'd tell him to Fsk off, and would win any legal action resulting.

    My boss is a perfectly reasonable man and wouldn't think of trying to interfere in my private time, however.

    1. Bleu

      Re: My own time

      You are absolutely correct, but I cannot see what it has to do with the wikipedia, seems to lean more towards FB territory.

  28. aberglas

    Wikipedia Works (by and large)

    That's why people use it so much.

    Of course it is not perfect, but most of the articles are pretty good. Most bullshit gets removed. There are problems, particularly with petty deletionists, but overall Wikipedia is one of the most reliable sources on the web. Or anywhere else for that matter.

    A surprising result, given its chaotic nature, but one that is obviously true.

  29. chris 48

    Wikipedia is 100% accurate

    .. for articles about Babylon 5

    95% accurate for articles about well understood concepts in the hard sciences

    80% accurate for articles about uncontroversial factual topics

    25% accurate for articles about living people or current corporations

    Meaningless for anything related to the Arab-Isralei conflict, or anything else controversial.

    So long as you understand that and only use it for the first 2-3 categories, it's fine.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Optional

    There's a good summary of a range of other problems with Wikipedia here:

    https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Wikipedia/Problems

    (My other lesson: googling "Orlowski Wikipedia" and clicking on images is a mistake. Unless you have SafeSearch on.)

  31. relmasian

    If you try and edit an existing article in Wikipedia, you may find those who created and maintained editing of the page have a stranglehold. Your own edits may be rapidly reversed if they deviate from the theme and thrust of the article irrespective of how valid they may be. Although you can win with enough evidence and persistence, winning can be a painful experience.

    There is another tact. Start your own article on the subject with the theme and thrust you prefer. Then, you will have the advantage of the home team. Hopefully, your theme and thrust includes giving readers accurate, concise, and well documented evidence about the subject.

  32. Robert Baker
    FAIL

    The problem with Wikipedia

    One big problem with Wikipedia is that it hinges on the dubious concept of "notability". "Notability" is one of those ideas which sounds fine, as long as you don't look at it too closely; the problem is, who decides what is "notable", and on what basis do they decide?

    I have had at least two of my Wikipedia edits reverted on the grounds that it isn't enough for virtually everyone in Britain over the age of 30 to have heard of something; to be notable, it has to be something that Americans have heard of. One of them was Captain Scarlet.

    (Wikipedians are indestructibly stupid — you are not. Remember this and do not try to imitate them.)

    1. John Hughes

      Re: The problem with Wikipedia

      I have had at least two of my Wikipedia edits reverted on the grounds that it isn't enough for virtually everyone in Britain over the age of 30 to have heard of something; to be notable, it has to be something that Americans have heard of. One of them was Captain Scarlet.

      Ah, that explains the total lack of information on Wikipedia about Captain Scarlet.

  33. Uncle Ron

    Scams?

    The article says Wikipedia will be better "...without the scams, frauds and petty crusades which anonymity permits."

    The ENTIRE internet permits scams, frauds and petty crusades because of anonymity. The world has suffered incalculable damage because of our tenacious adherence to the idea of anonymity on the web.

    I feel that what made the internet great will soon make it useless. The reason is because most human beings are just no damn good. Most human beings are, in varying degrees, selfish, self-righteous slugs. Sometimes. Some human beings are just plain thieving, lying crooks all the time.

    The internet is very close to being useless. A "fork" that ensures security, enriches corporations, eliminates anonymity, makes the 1% richer, protects rich people, screws the little guy, is inevitable.

  34. John Hughes

    Citation needed.

    In fact, in a recent episode, one Wikipedian who reported another Wikipedian to the police for serious sexual charges found herself vilified by members of the “community” – the act had led to a fellow Wikipedian being "unmasked". And in the bizarre world of Wikipedia, no crime is greater.

    Well at least wikipedia would have given us a link.

    Or, to put it another way -- [ citation needed ].

    1. Maelstorm Bronze badge

      Re: Citation needed.

      Do you have a link?

  35. Adrian Midgley 1

    How is this Wikipedia's scandal?

    People doing things they absolutely should not do with it to publicise their business were then targeted by criminals.

    Not WP.

  36. Adrian Midgley 1

    I think Captain Scarlet would go under

    Anderson, would it not? Along with various other characters. In the same way Jane Eyre belongs in a book.

    There's a good article about the artificial induction of immunity and another about Benjamin Jesty. Most of the former is as I originally wrote it, which I like, and most of the latter is added by other people, which I like.

    Parts of The Register are a good advert for professional journalism... and parts are not.

    1. John Hughes

      Re: I think Captain Scarlet would go under

      I think Captain Scarlet would go under Anderson, would it not?

      Captain Scarlet goes under Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons.

      I have no idea what Robert Baker is wittering on about.

      1. Robert Baker
        FAIL

        Re: I think Captain Scarlet would go under

        "I have no idea..."

        Try reading what I posted again; and bear in mind that Wikipedia is being constantly edited. Just because the information is there now, that doesn't in any way "disprove" what I wrote.

        1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: Re: I think Captain Scarlet would go under

          What, you're about to go on Wiki and delete the evidence that disproves your argument?

        2. John Hughes

          Re: I think Captain Scarlet would go under

          Try reading what I posted again; and bear in mind that Wikipedia is being constantly edited. Just because the information is there now, that doesn't in any way "disprove" what I wrote.

          The Captain Scarlet page was created on 8 January 2003.

          What are you wittering on about?

          1. Robert Baker
            FAIL

            Re: I think Captain Scarlet would go under

            "The Captain Scarlet page was created on 8 January 2003."

            And Wikipedia existed long before then.

            What are you wittering on about?

            1. John Hughes

              Re: I think Captain Scarlet would go under

              "The Captain Scarlet page was created on 8 January 2003."

              And Wikipedia existed long before then.

              But it didn't, did it.

              Wikipedia was created in 2001.

              So you're all bent out of shape because wikipedia didn't have a Captain Scarlet page for two whole years.

              WTF?

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Turning the other cheek

    Seems wikipedia is being fair and unbiased toward our article author. Which is nice...

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Orlowski

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An experience with Wikipedia

    I had an interesting moment with Wikipedia. I noticed my high school -- notorious for having staff convicted by the courts for child sex offenses -- didn't mention those at all. Conveniently I had the details of the four cases to hand (they are the subject of a Royal Commission and the details listed in a submission from the NSW DPP). So I typed up the details, referencing the court dates as the primary sources (in the correct legal style for unreported cases).

    Because of the lack of reference to online -- necessarily secondary -- sources the edits were promptly removed as unsourced. I wrote a note to the person who removed the information. The "issue" was sent to another page for "arbitration" and -- without even checking with me further -- the page was set to a monitoring mode which prevented the re-addition of the supposedly unsourced information.

    Looking into the person further it seems that Wikipedia sets its rules to encourage such "page cleanups" and champions people with unfeasilbly high rates of such cleanups. They people aren't interested in the content, but simply working the system to increase the number of their internet points in the Wikipedia community.

    I thought this was an interesting insight into the way Wikipedia worked, and wrote a short submission to the Royal Commission outlining my experience and how Wikipedia's rules work to discourage the not-defamatory publication of the fact of guilt and conviction of perpetrators of child sex crimes. This goes some way to explain how those people can successfully be placed in environments where they can re-offend, especially when those people move jursidiction.

    1. John Hughes

      Re: An experience with Wikipedia

      Why not give us a link to the page?

      Better, even, why not give us a link to the edit that was reverted?

    2. Robert Baker
      Holmes

      Re: An experience with Wikipedia

      Reminds me of another revert I suffered — the Chuck-a-Luck article included a section about two computer variants involving three-sided and nine-sided "dice", but a quick web search revealed that the only other published information was the inserter's own web site (to which, of course, the section gave a link). So I deleted it on the grounds of the rule "Wikipedia is not for things you made up one day" — only to be reverted on the grounds that "I had removed information", by a self-important twit who didn't bother to check what I had removed, nor why (he didn't even read the edit summary). (So I just redid the deletion, reiterating that the deleted section was non-notable self-promotion; and it was the other editor who got in trouble for the incident, not I.)

  39. Bleu

    Wanda Jackson article as an example of

    bullshit on Wikipedia.

    It refers to tours of Japan and Germany.

    Makes it sound like they were normal tours, as a popular performer now might do.

    I was surprised, never heard of that, but quickly realised the tours must only have been of US bases.

    I am a great fan of Wanda, her rockabilly has the huge influence here, I am so impressed that she is still performing.

    The true wording would be 'toured bases of US occupying forces in Japan and Germany'.

    I sure can't imagine anyone except US servicemen at the time, having a good reaction to

    Been to Nagasacky,

    Hiroshima too.

    and the related lyrics in Fujiyama Mama, which IMHO is a great song, but its glorification of atomic bombing is dodgy as hell.

    Anybody trying to correct the lies 'toured Japan'and 'toured Germany' to the correct 'toured US bases in Japan' and 'toured US bases in Germany' on WP will be attacked there.

    I checked, she never did a public show here in Japan, I do not know about Germany, but am sure it was the same.

  40. dorsetknob
    FAIL

    This years begging banner ads have started

    they can FUCK OFF they don't deserve any donations

    they steal otherpeoples copyrighted material publish it then claim its in the public domain because its been published

    Go Ask the monkey for donations

    Fail icon because wilki fails

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020