Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Wiki-vandals hit small town posts

Wiki-vandals hit small town posts

Chinchilla sighting a hoax, Paisley mayor says

May 22, 2007 04:30 AM
Tamara Cherry
toronto star

The mayor of Paisley, Ont., says despite what was posted on Wikipedia, the men in that town are clever and the local girls are pretty.

And Ron Oswald adds there's not a chinchilla in sight.

Oswald's clarification came after the recent version of the Paisley page on Wikipedia was brought to his attention.

Earlier this month, Wiki-vandals posted a rather unflattering review of the folks who live in the southwestern Ontario village of 1,100.

"The men are not exactly smart and the women are not exactly good looking but that does not stop them from procreating at an alarming rate. In recent years, the only population decline was when they were handing out free cheques in Walkerton," the article read.

That same day a second Wiki-vandal added, "A large chinchilla infestation has lead to diminishing returns on many local crops. Experts are at a loss as to how this happened, but suspect a `rogue chinchilla terrorist' may be the root cause."

The women in Paisley "certainly are" good looking, Oswald countered. And not only are Paisley men smart, but "there are a lot of good-looking farm boys," he added.

The picked-on Paisley residents aren't the only victims of Wiki-vandals, who roam free on the online encyclopedia, where most articles can be edited by anyone with Internet access.

Port Colborne has two of the "lamest high schools around," one Wiki-vandal said.

On the Acton page, "Actonite or Actonian?" was changed to "Actonite, Actonian or Crackhead?"

The Georgetown page read "Jesus Christ was born in this town," where "Illegal Mexican Wrestling" was also said to take place. That entry went on to say that, "Usually every match ends up with one of the opponents dieing. 2004 was the bloodiest year in the events [sic] history, 546 were killed due to grandstands collapsing."

And it's not just small towns getting Wiki-vandalized. "tHE [sic] SENATORS KICK LEAF ASS," one of many declarations Wiki-vandals posted on the city of Toronto's page.

Oswald, who is officiallly mayor of the Municipality of Arran-Elderslie, which includes Paisley, takes the vandalism with a grain of salt – "A bag full of salt," actually.

"I sometimes think things are pretty serious nowadays and we really don't laugh enough. But there's nothing wrong with good fun."

Monday, May 21, 2007

Wikipedia wrong about Bocking

Wikipedia wrong about Bocking
By Phil Melnychuk
Staff Reporter
May 19 2007

Federal New Democrat candidate Mike Bocking is fuming over a description about him on the Wikipedia website that describes him as "having a history of failure" and someone who has "control over local media, in particular the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News."

"My only comment is this kind of dirty tricks stuff has no place in Canadian politics," Bocking said.

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia written collaboratively by volunteers. The articles can be edited by anyone with Internet access.

The entry on the Wikipedia website was originally posted May 8 and says it's "very abnormal" for the same failed candidate to run in three consecutive elections.

The entry also says that as a result of his full-time job as president of Local 2000 of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, which represents workers at The News, Bocking "has been asked to respond to comments by incumbent Randy Kamp on an issue before they are published.

"This essentially gives Bocking a voice within the community," although he's currently not an MP and "is entitled to no more say than the average citizen."

But just as quickly as it appeared, the page was deleted May 16. An explanation from Wikipedia said the article appeared to have been created as an attack page, "with negative and controversial statements without reference to reliable published sources."

Bocking has won the NDP nomination three times, each time defeating a rival in a nomination vote. He's been the New Democrat candidate in federal elections in June 2004 and January 2006 and recently won the party's nomination a third time.

He lost to Kamp, the Conservative MP in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission, in the past two elections.

Local NDP members wouldn't like to hear that party brass OK'd his candidacy, Bocking said.

His campaign manager, Dave McPherson, said the webpage was the work of a political person, adding that it was "preposterous" that Bocking could influence the media.

He learned of the reference through a Google alert, set up to notify him of references to Bocking on the Internet.

Who posted the comments, however, is impossible to ascertain as the log just shows the Internet provider name of Nick8670.

Michael Hall, editor of The News, says the newspaper's relationship with Bocking is limited to his role as an NDP candidate.

Neither Kamp nor his office had any part in the Wikipedia writeup, said Kamp's constituency assistant, Mark Strahl.

"Wikipedia, unfortunately, is open to this sort of thing. Nothing to do with our office," Strahl said.

He pointed out that people have changed Kamp's entry on Wikipedia as well, adding mischievous comments, which he later deleted.

Strahl said he also made one change to Bocking's page, correcting the name of the riding. Because Bocking is the NDP candidate in the riding, Kamp's office monitors Bocking's media coverage, Strahl said.

"Anyone can edit these things, which makes it open to misuse," Strahl said of the Wikipedia website.

"I'm glad it's been removed."

Is Wikipedia Polluting the Web?

Is Wikipedia Polluting the Web?

Anyone using the net will surely have come across Wikipedia - the online interactive encyclopedia. It has been hailed for being the biggest multilingual free-content encyclopedia on the Internet with over four million articles and still growing. It is also 12th ranked Website in the world.
But the big question is how reliable or credible is wikipedia?

The bone of contention against Wiki is the very foundation of its “free encyclopedia that anyone can edit” concept. A defining characteristic of wiki technology is the ease with which pages can be created and updated. There is no review before modifications are accepted. Wikis generally practice the philosophy of making it easy to correct mistakes, rather than making it difficult to make them.

Wiki in the News: For all the wrong reasons -
There was recently a scandal surrounding the academic qualifications of one of the editors at Wiki. Wikipedia administrator who stated that he was a professor of religion with advanced degrees in theology and canon law, was exposed as a 24-year-old community college drop-out. However Jimmy Wales the Founder of Wikipedia went on record to say of Wikipedia editor and Wikia employee Ryan Jordan (nee “Essjay”): ““I accepted his apology, because he is now, and has always been, an excellent editor with an exemplary track record.”

“I regard it as a pseudonym and I don’t really have a problem with it.”
- Wikipedia CEO Jimmy Wales stating that lying on Wikipedia is OK.

But rest of the world don’t seem to agree don’t seem to agree with Wales.

Wikipedia has been banned as a citation source by all major American Universities, as the source is anonymous and totally un-credible.

Wikipedia has also been accused of supporting terrorism

The author goes on to state - “Wikipedia’s Achilles heel is that it is open to any 8-year-old child or perverted mind to edit matters from nuclear physics to Islamic terrorism.”

True, when everyone can write, some write crap. While no one can dispute or challenge the knowledge aggregator that Wiki has come to represent the debate over the legitimacy over the sources of information rages on.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

George Washington Did What According To Wikipedia???

George Washington Did What According To Wikipedia???

Many have joked about how Wikipedia seems to rank at the top of practically any Google search that you do. Often, that's a good thing, as Wikipedia has lots of great information. But a search on george washington today shows a downside. Someone edited the start of the Wikipedia entry about the first US president to be less than flattering. Google spidered the entry, and that material was used to form the description of Washington's Wikipedia page, as shown below. Look at the second listing:

It's embarrassing for Google, but the fault really lies with Wikipedia, since this text stayed on Washington's page long enough for Google to catch it. Indeed, it looks to have been on the page for at least a day. It's gone now, but when I looked about a half hour ago, the text was still there. It will probably take about another day for the description to fall out of Google itself, once the page is recrawled.

FYI, the description does not show at Yahoo or Ask.com because Wikipedia is not in the top result for a search on George Washington there. At Live.com, the Wikipedia page shows but was last visited on May 13, before the insulting text was added.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Beware the Internet!

Beware the Internet!
Posted: May 11, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

For 10 years now, I've been championing the Internet.

As a pioneer in the New Media, I believe it has provided a leveling of the playing field for entrepreneurs like me to provide good content to millions efficiently and inexpensively.

But, I've got to tell you, you can't believe everything you read on the Internet.

You've got to use common sense and discernment in sorting out the good from the bad.

Today, I'm going to give you two illustrations of "the bad."

They are, in alphabetical order, Snopes and Wikipedia.

I know. I know. Some of you are shocked to hear that Snopes is not the last word on truth – that it is not the bible of rumors and urban legends.

Let me give you a recent example of the twisted sense of reality that exists in the land of Snopes.

I wrote a story a few weeks ago on the mania to phase out incandescent light bulbs, replacing them with compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs. The story was so good, if I do say so myself, it was picked up internationally.

Everything in the story is 100 percent accurate and truthful – and not a word of the original story has been altered.

So, why, you may be wondering, is the story used as an "example" of a fallacious charge on Snopes?

Good question. I have to assume that the all-knowing, all-seeing, rumor-busting gurus at Snopes simply can't tell the difference between a straight news account reporting what some people say and believe and an actual assertion.

Snopes reports my story is an "example" of this ludicrous assertion: "An environmental clean-up crew needs to be called in to deal with the mercury dispersed by one broken CFL bulb."

Now, I dare you. Go read my story and tell me where I, the reporter in this case, suggested any such nonsense.

It seems to me, in cases like this, Snopes is not busting rumors, it is perpetuating them.

And, while we're at it, notice the sources Snopes relies upon to conclude beyond any doubt CFLs don't pose a serious health threat to anyone – the same government agency pushing CFLs. Where I come from (nearly 30 years of solid journalism experience), this is not considered good reporting. This is not considered the best way to seek truth and enlightenment or even objective facts.

I would dare say we spend quite a bit more time and energy and resources putting together our reports for WND than the inexperienced and unprofessional researchers at Snopes do theirs. Does that express my opinion clearly enough?

And now for Wikipedia.

Please don't ever send me a link to Wikipedia as evidence of anything. It has zero credibility with me.


Because anyone can post anything they wish at Wikipedia. There are so many lies posted there, the whole site would have to be scrapped and rebuilt from scratch to deal with them in any systematic way.

If you doubt what I am saying, test it for yourself.

Is there a subject you know quite a bit about?

Is there an area of real expertise in your life?

Are you famous enough to have a bio up at Wikipedia?

If the answer to any of thee questions is yes, then go and test Wikipedia. See what it says about a subject you know well. See what it says about you.

Please don't bother seeing what it says about me because none of it is true. And, for the life of me, no matter how many times I correct the record, some Wikipedia jokers decide they know me better than me.

Now, if I can't trust Wikipedia to report accurately about me – and I can't – how can I trust it to report on any other topic with veracity?

Long story short: Learn to trust those with track records of honesty, integrity and standards. WND has those traits. Snopes and Wikipedia do not.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Why Wikipedia decided to lock up Gerry Adams

Why Wikipedia decided to lock up Gerry Adams
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
By Noel McAdam

The world's best-known online encylopedia has electronically disabled its biography of Gerry Adams over the question of whether he was ever a member of the Provisional IRA.

The Sinn Fein president has consistently denied ever being a member of the terrorist organisation.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia website, yesterday said material of any kind on living persons which could be libellous had to be removed.

A spokesman for Sinn Fein said the party had no comment to make.

The Gerry Adams page, which is now 'locked', meaning no changes can be made, says: "Senior political, security and media figures, including the Minister for Justice in the Republic of Ireland (Michael McDowell) assert that, from the 1970s until mid-2005, Adams is alleged to have been a member of the IRA's governing army council.

"He has also been accused of being the IRA commander in Belfast during the 1970s."

The page can be viewed here.

Explaining its decision, Wikipedia said: "This article must adhere to the policy on biographies of living persons. Controversial material of any kind that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately, especially if potentially libellous.

"If such material is repeatedly inserted or there are other concerns relative to this policy, report it on the living persons biographies noticeboard.

"This (specific) page is about an active politician who is running for office, is in office and campaigning for re-election, or is involved in some political conflict or controversy.

"Because of this, this article is at risk of biased editing, talk-page trolling, and simple vandalism."

A spokesperson for Wikipedia was not available for comment.

Wikipedia's Wales gets pranked Down Under

Wikipedia's Wales gets pranked Down Under
April 30, 2007 5:54 AM PDT
Posted by Caroline McCarthy

Looks like Wikipedia and its founder, Jimmy Wales, have turned into legitimately global icons--they're getting pranked overseas in addition to domestically. Wales was the keynote speaker at the Australian "Education.au" conference last week, as reported by the Brisbane Times (linked via TechCrunch), and in the question-and-answer session that followed his address, he was subject to the antics of a well-known Aussie prankster.

One of the inquisitive attendees happened to be Andrew Hansen, a cast member from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's sketch comedy show The Chaser's War On Everything, which features a recurring segment called "Mr. Ten Questions." In the style of the show, Hansen stood up and asked Wales ten questions in a row without giving the Wikipedia founder the opportunity to answer. They started off mildly, with "First, how are you enjoying Australia?" but grew rapidly more absurd, including "Why does everyone in IT look so nerdy, yet you look like a daytime soap star?" and "There are 1.7 million articles on Wikipedia; how long did it take you to write them all?" Hansen's final question for Wales was,"How do you feel about the fact that when I looked you up on Wikipedia this morning I changed your page to say that you were a teenage drug lord from Malaysia?

Apparently, Wales took it pretty well, and even managed to answer four of them. The full list of questions (warning: some profane language) can be found in the Brisbane Times' article. The Chaser segment featuring Wales has yet to air, but TechCrunch commenters hinted that it will likely wind up (legally) online.

You may recall The Chaser as the TV show that was temporarily pulled from YouTube when the video-sharing site (somewhat gullibly) obeyed the terms of a fake cease-and-desist letter from an Australian teenager pretending to be from the ABC. It also gained some viral video momentum in the States when it planted fake "terrorists" near Sydney landmarks in an attempt to see how long it took for security officers to respond to their "suspicious activities."

I don't think we'll see Jimmy Wales as a target on Jackass or on Ashton Kutcher's Punk'd any time soon, but the influential Web figure does have a history of getting pranked here in the U.S. (albeit indirectly). Perhaps the most famous instance of this was when when late-night comedian Stephen Colbert exhorted his viewers to log onto Wikipedia and alter certain entries, a gag that crashed the encyclopedia's servers and resulted in Mr. Colbert's account being banned.

Wikipedia's Double Standard On Nofollow Rule

Wikipedia's Double Standard On Nofollow Rule
Apr. 30, 2007 at 10:04am Eastern by Barry Schwartz

Techcrunch discovered that Wikipedia was giving special treatment to their own properties, in terms of using standard, non-nofollowed, links to Wikia, "Wikipedia’s for-profit spin off."

Back in January, Wikipedia nofollowed all external links from the site, in an effort to reduce Wikipedia spam. If you visit the Wikipedia page on Wikia, you may notice some external links do not contain the rel="nofollow" attribute. Techcrunch calls them out for it.