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Dan and I, back in third year, wrote up our Aus­trali­an con­sti­tu­tion­al law case sum­mar­ies as Wiki­pe­dia art­icles as we were study­ing them: click here for a list of case sum­mar­ies. (We didn’t quite fin­ish though: the red links link to pages that don’t exist.)

01 Sep 2009 | No comments

I got an email half an hour ago that said this:

Dear Enoch­lau,

We notice you haven’t edited Wiki­pe­dia for some time. Per­haps you grew dis­il­lu­sioned with the pro­ject after see­ing the cor­rup­tion and bur­eau­cracy at every level? If so, why not help us to help you. We are cur­rently expand­ing our port­fo­lio of admin­is­trat­or accounts, and as yours remains dormant per­haps you could con­sider donat­ing it to us — to do so will take you only two minutes: change the pass­word (if desired) and then reply to this email with your login details. We’ll do the rest!

Thank you for your time and con­sid­er­a­tion, and nat­ur­ally do not hes­it­ate to con­tact us if you have any ques­tions.

Kind Regards,

The Wiki­pe­dia Free­dom Fight­ers

It was appar­ently sent by sent by user “The C for WF” on the Eng­lish Wiki­pe­dia: no user page, but yes there is an account.

What on earth is going on? (And no, I’m def­in­itely not going to give them my account even if I haven’t edited for a while.)

I’ve con­trib­uted many of my pho­tos to the Wiki­me­dia Com­mons, and I’m pleased to see that some of them have spread bey­ond the Wiki­me­dia world.

But the fact that someone turned some­thing mundane like this:

into some­thing like this:

blows me away. It reminds me why I con­trib­ute: to add to the glob­al com­mons, the glob­al cul­tur­al melt­ing pot where oth­ers can express them­selves, by using and re-using, free from con­cerns about intel­lec­tu­al prop­erty rights.

Ori­gin­al work | Deriv­at­ive work (search for Enoch Lau about halfway down)

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Wiki­pe­dia: built on cooper­a­tion and col­lab­or­a­tion

Wiki­pe­dia depends on col­lab­or­a­tion for suc­cess (18 Septem­ber 2008, Daily Tro­jan)

Pro­fess­or Robert E. Kraut of Carne­gie Mel­lon Uni­ver­sity dis­cussed the factors that are involved in the suc­cess of online com­munit­ies, and his own research into the coordin­a­tion tech­niques of Wiki­pe­dia. Suc­cess in an online com­munity can be defined in a num­ber of ways, he said, but to suc­ceed, online com­munit­ies need to over­come chal­lenges such as a lack of response to posts, recruit­ing mem­bers and wel­com­ing new­comers. Focus­ing on Wiki­pe­dia, Kraut said that Wiki­pe­dia art­icles require “an awful lot of sub­stan­tial coordin­a­tion”, for example, in plan­ning the art­icle or deal­ing with dis­putes. There is expli­cit coordin­a­tion (such as through plan­ning and dis­cuss­ing) and impli­cit coordin­a­tion (such as through struc­tur­ing), he said, and the coordin­a­tion work lies beneath the sur­face of the art­icle.

Oth­er men­tions

Oth­er recent men­tions in the online media include:

  • Defin­ing the Bush Doc­trine: Not as Simple as it Sounds (15 Septem­ber 2008, The Wall Street Journ­al blogs)
    Sarah Palin’s gaffe focuses atten­tion on the Bush Doc­trine art­icle.
  • Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales on wiki suc­cess and fail­ure (11 Septem­ber 2008, ZDNet blogs)
    Listen to a pod­cast where Jimmy Wales dis­cusses the factors that lead to suc­cess or fail­ure for a wiki, such as crit­ic­al mass.
  • Wiki­pe­dia Sleuths Win Journ­al­ism Award for Wired​.com (10 Septem­ber 2008, Wired​.com blogs)
    A Wired​.com blog won an award for com­bin­ing a vot­ing wid­get with the WikiScan­ner applic­a­tion to let read­ers high­light self-inter­ested edits to Wiki­pe­dia.
  • Ver­non Kay shocked at death by Wiki­pe­dia (15 Septem­ber 2008, TechRadar UK)
    Tele­vi­sion host Ver­non Kay has had his Wiki­pe­dia bio­graphy van­dal­ised to say that he had died in a yacht­ing acci­dent, when he is per­fectly well and alive.
  • Knol, the Wiki­pe­dia Maybe-Fork? (19 Septem­ber 2008, Slash­dot)
    The author of this art­icle sug­gests that Google Knol accept CC-BY-SA con­tri­bu­tions, so that once the GFDL is com­pat­ible with CC-BY-SA, copy­ing to Knol will be com­pletely above board; this will facil­it­ate the cre­ation of, effect­ively, flagged revi­sions of Wiki­pe­dia art­icles, sup­por­ted by people’s repu­ta­tions.
  • How Wiki­pe­dia Works (19 Septem­ber 2008, Kan­sas City infoZ­ine)
    This is a book review of the book How Wiki­pe­dia Works, writ­ten by a num­ber of prom­in­ent Wiki­pe­di­ans.

From the Wiki­pe­dia Sign­post.

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Wiki­me­dia: matur­ing and pro­fes­sion­al­ising

Wiki­me­dia pegs future on edu­ca­tion, not profit (24 August 2008, San Fran­cisco Chron­icle)

Sue Gard­ner, Wikimedia’s exec­ut­ive dir­ect­or, expresses sur­prise at the mis­un­der­stand­ings that people have about Wiki­me­dia. As a char­ity, Wiki­me­dia is not seek­ing to profit from the bil­lions of dol­lars that some say could be earned from pla­cing advert­ise­ments on its pro­jects’ web­sites. Recently, Wiki­me­dia moved its headquar­ters to San Fran­cisco, and the move, Gard­ner says, was because of the area’s “tech tal­ent”; the organisation’s core staff has now increased to 21. Jimmy Wales cred­its Gard­ner with pro­fes­sion­al­ising Wiki­me­dia, insti­tut­ing com­pet­ent and sound man­age­ment. Gardner’s goals for the future include increas­ing par­ti­cip­a­tion, improv­ing qual­ity and mak­ing Wiki­pe­dia avail­able in a vari­ety of formats. On the oth­er hand, Ed Chi, the cre­at­or of Wiki­Dash­board, says that there has been a decline in interest in edit­ing that does not bode well for the com­munity.

US Vice-Pres­id­en­tial can­did­ates with groomed art­icles

McCain camp touts Biden praise ahead of speech (27 August 2008, TheHill​.com)

Blog­gers have noticed changes to Joseph Biden’s Wiki­pe­dia art­icle as news of his Vice-Pres­id­en­tial nom­in­a­tion was leak­ing out. For instance, blog­gers say that the sec­tion about his involve­ment in the 2004 pres­id­en­tial cam­paign was deleted. Also, details of Biden’s under­gradu­ate stud­ies and alleg­a­tions of pla­gi­ar­ism were said to have dis­ap­peared from his Wiki­pe­dia bio­graphy. The art­icle raises the ques­tion of wheth­er Bar­rack Obama’s cam­paign or the Demo­crat­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee changed the art­icle, giv­en the tim­ing of the edits.

Don’t Like Palin’s Wiki­pe­dia Story? Change It (31 August 2008, The New York Times)

A Wiki­pe­dia user called Young­Trigg made a num­ber of edits to Sarah Palin’s art­icle before the announce­ment of her nom­in­a­tion as the Repub­lic­an Vice-Pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate; the user­name is a ref­er­ence to her infant son Trig. The edits, which added com­pel­ling stor­ies about her upbring­ing and pos­it­ive com­ments about her polit­ic­al career, were in fact rewar­ded with a Barn­star, and the edit­or made con­tact with oth­er Wiki­pe­dia edit­ors. In par­tic­u­lar, Young­Trigg asked an anonym­ous edit­or where he or she had heard about Pal­in being McCain’s choice, pos­sibly because, as the art­icle sug­gests, Young­Trigg had an interest in wheth­er the news had leaked already. How­ever, later, anoth­er user came along to tone down the addi­tions that seem biased. Ulti­mately, Young­Trigg, who denied rela­tion to the Pal­in fam­ily, has now retired from Wiki­pe­dia.

Oth­er men­tions

Oth­er recent men­tions in the online press include:

From the Wiki­pe­dia Sign­post.

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Jimbo writes about the free­dom that Wiki­pe­dia brings

The wis­dom of crowds – Wikipedia’s founder writes about what he sees as the fruits of the change inspired by Wiki­pe­dia. Although humans can be por­trayed as “irra­tion­al cap­tives to their back­ground and iden­tity”, Wales argues that it is pos­sible for object­ive col­lab­or­a­tion to occur if the lens of irra­tion­al­ity and con­flict is aban­doned and we accept non-ini­ti­ation of force as a fun­da­ment­al prin­ciple. He believes that ration­al­ity will pre­vail, thereby pre­serving the best aspects of our cul­ture and per­mit­ting par­ti­cip­a­tion to thrive in the devel­op­ing world. The open pro­cesses of Wiki­pe­dia, where you are likely to be chal­lenged if there are flaws in your argu­ment, epi­tom­ise the “vir­tue of the mar­ket­place of ideas”, he says.

Oth­er men­tions

Oth­er recent men­tions in the online media include:

From the Wiki­pe­dia Sign­post.

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Naked short selling drama retold

Wiki­pe­dia kills Greatest Show On Earth – “[T]here was an Wikin­vest­ig­a­tion. And a Wikicourt­case. Like we said, Wikimad­ness.” Patrick Byrne has been waging a battle against naked short selling for some years, and togeth­er with Judd Bagley, he has accused fin­an­cial journ­al­ist Gary Weiss of gam­ing Wiki­pe­dia to dis­cred­it his views on naked short­ing. Bagley has been banned from edit­ing, but Byrne and Bagley have accused Weiss of edit­ing Wiki­pe­dia under vari­ous accounts. When there was “sig­ni­fic­ant evid­ence that tied these accounts to a real-life iden­tity”, there was an invest­ig­a­tion, and after fur­ther sock­pup­petry, the mad­ness was put to an end.

Oth­er men­tions

Oth­er recent men­tions in the online media include:

From the Wiki­pe­dia Sign­post.

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Wikis knock­ing on the iron gates of Oxford

Andrew Keen on New Media – Recently, Inter­net com­ment­at­or Andrew Keen was at Oxford Uni­ver­sity togeth­er with Wiki­pe­dia co-founder Larry Sanger to debate wheth­er “the inter­net is the future of know­ledge”. Keen notes that it was iron­ic for the dis­cus­sion – includ­ing dis­cus­sion of wheth­er the inter­net was demo­crat­ising the cre­ation and dis­tri­bu­tion of know­ledge – to have occurred at Oxford, a rep­res­ent­at­ive of the “ivory tower busi­ness mod­el for know­ledge”. He notes that estab­lish­ment of Oxford Uni­ver­sity by a wealthy landown­er con­trasts with the ori­gins of Wiki­pe­dia, and sites like Wiki­pe­dia and Cit­izen­di­um are driv­ing the adop­tion of wikis, pod­casts and blogs, even by tra­di­tion­al know­ledge com­pan­ies. Keen found the response of Oxford fac­ulty and stu­dents to the demo­crat­ic poten­tial of the inter­net enthu­si­ast­ic and “any­thing but snooty”.

Oth­er men­tions

Oth­er recent men­tions in online media include:

From the Wiki­pe­dia Sign­post.

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High-school stu­dents study course on Wiki­pe­dia

HSC stu­dents to get Wiki­pe­dia course – As of next year, the Eng­lish cur­riculum for stu­dents sit­ting for the High­er School Cer­ti­fic­ate, which is taken in New South Wales, Aus­tralia, will incor­por­ate an elect­ive called “Glob­al Vil­lage”, which will include the option of study­ing Wiki­pe­dia. Explain­ing the choice of Wiki­pe­dia, the Eng­lish inspect­or at the Board of Stud­ies, which over­sees the HSC, said that Wiki­pe­dia reflects “notions of the glob­al vil­lage”, and that the course will allow stu­dents to exam­ine com­mu­nic­a­tions on a glob­al scale. There has been a pos­it­ive response from edu​ca​tion​.au, a not-for-profit edu­ca­tion­al organ­isa­tion that brought Wiki­pe­dia co-founder Jimmy Wales to Aus­tralia on a speak­ing engage­ment last year. The CEO of edu​ca​tion​.au, Greg Black, said that young people need to learn how to under­stand and con­tex­tu­al­ise the inform­a­tion they gath­er on the Inter­net and to determ­ine “wheth­er there’s an altern­at­ive view”.

Oth­er men­tions

Oth­er recent men­tions in the online press include:

  • Clinton’s entry in Wiki­pe­dia has a watch­dog – One of the edit­ors watch­ing over Hil­lary Clinton’s Wiki­pe­dia bio­graphy has been brought unex­pec­ted celebrity and is pro­filed by this art­icle.
  • The Wiki busi­ness plan – Sue Gard­ner and Kul Wad­h­wa talk about growth plans for Wiki­me­dia, the busi­ness side of the found­a­tion, and future oppor­tun­it­ies.
  • REPN TRI to the FULLEST!!! — “[A]s a mod­el of dis­course, it’s a kill­joy”; this author believes that the style of the prose on Wiki­pe­dia is apt to lead stu­dents to believe that intel­lec­tu­al dis­course is “leaden” and “spir­it­less”.


As pub­lished in the Wiki­pe­dia Sign­post

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(As you may know, I write the “In the news” sec­tion for the Wiki­pe­dia Sign­post. From this week onwards, I’ll be post­ing up the ITN sec­tion on my blog as well as hav­ing it pub­lished in the Sign­post.)

Pro­fess­or says Wiki­pe­dia crowds out expert know­ledge

Wiki­pe­dia breeds ‘unwit­ting trust’ says IT pro­fess­or — Deakin Uni­ver­sity asso­ci­ate pro­fess­or Shar­man Licht­en­stein believes that the increas­ing use of Wiki­pe­dia cre­ates blind trust in inform­a­tion, to the det­ri­ment of valu­able know­ledge and expert opin­ion. She says that Aus­trali­ans already dis­respect intel­lec­tu­als and aca­dem­ics, but she asks us to con­sider wheth­er we would use a trained brain sur­geon or a stu­dent who has just read Wiki­pe­dia for brain sur­gery. She notes that Wiki­pe­dia prides itself on being built by groups of lay cit­izens, and experts are unlikely to con­trib­ute any­way because they would expect to be paid. Cred­ib­il­ity of Wiki­pe­dia art­icles is ques­tioned because of the form­a­tion of “elite” edit­ors and admin­is­trat­ors, a trend that has caused grow­ing dis­sat­is­fac­tion with Wikipedia’s edit­or­i­al pro­cess, lead­ing oth­ers to cre­ate com­pet­it­ors to Wiki­pe­dia.

Oth­er men­tions

Oth­er recent men­tions in the online media include:

  • Wikipedia’s Zealots — An edit­or who receives per­son­al com­mu­nic­a­tion about a scientist’s views on glob­al warm­ing edits Wiki­pe­dia to include these com­mu­nic­a­tions but is rever­ted by oth­er edit­ors.
  • Sci­entif­ic cita­tions in Wiki­pe­dia — The pat­tern of cita­tions on Wiki­pe­dia is com­pared with the Journ­al Cita­tion Reports, which counts journ­al cita­tions; Wiki­pe­dia is increas­ingly using struc­tured cita­tion markup.

[As pub­lished in the Wiki­pe­dia Sign­post]

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