Friday, April 18, 2008

Get It While It's Wiki

Wikipedia appears to have "jumped the shark." Finally too large to avoid lowest common denominator problems and worse the temptation to censor to advance an agenda. I was searching for California's GDP compared to entire countries and this came up:

Check out the "World Flag" for someone's idea of a political statement.

Normally I'd shrug this off but there's something different about wiki these days and it has to do with exactly the same kind of agitprop only over global warming. Turns out there's

The National Post has the story.
Tabletop, it turns out, has another name: Kim Dabelstein Petersen. She (or he?) is an editor at Wikipedia. What does she edit? Reams and reams of global warming pages. I started checking them. In every instance I checked, she defended those warning of catastrophe and deprecated those who believe the science is not settled. I investigated further. Others had tried to correct her interpretations and had the same experience as I -- no sooner did they make their corrections than she pounced, preventing Wikipedia readers from reading anyone's views but her own. When they protested plaintively, she wore them down and snuffed them out. By patrolling Wikipedia pages and ensuring that her spin reigns supreme over all climate change pages, she has made of Wikipedia a propaganda vehicle for global warming alarmists.

Absolute power...


wagga said...

One of the Wiki founders dumped his girlfriend via Wiki. That's got to be a first.

Winston said...

First comment: Safari? eeew.

Second: That's some pretty recent vandalism. I was looking at just that page a day or so ago and there was no Nazi world flag. I think that that kind of thing goes with the territory on Wikipedia.

Third: That kind of thing has always been a part of wikipedia. It's part of what makes it more fun that a real encyclopedia.

Max said...

Had the same problem myself. Turns out, their definition of "media" excludes blogs for some unknown reason. I was trying to add links to a few Sacramento Blogs (not my own) to the Sacramento page. My edits were removed instantly by a guy in Australia who nominated himself the overlord of the Sacramento, CA wiki page.

The thing is becoming more and more worthless every day as a few petty, sad losers do nothing but guard their pages against ideas they disagree with. Give me Encyclopedia Britannica any day.

JimAtLaw said...

It's also pretty funny that in a transparent attempt to remove the US from the top spot by not one but two places, they count the EU as a single country, and then also separately as individual nations.

J said...

WP frowns upon blogs for a few reasons (reasons which aren't hard to find, BTW). First, they are self-published sources. Anyone can create a blog and claim to be an authoritative source. This is not unique to WP; vanity press has been held in low esteem for a long time.

Second, they aren't always reliable, and I don't mean that in the "truth" sense. Blogs can disappear next week; content can be edited without anyone knowing when or why. This is a serious problem for an encyclopedia which relies on sourced material. Newspapers, books and published papers tend to be more permanent. They can still be cited from Web links but it's also possible to find the original source if the link goes away.

Third, a great number of blogs run advertisements. Placing a link on a WP is free money for those people so it's got to be something compelling. I'm sure there are tons of blogs for Sacramento but I don't see why any of them belong on the WP page.

Max said...

WP frowns upon blogs for a few reasons

Except the ones they don't frown upon. :)

Actually, your comments prove my point exactly. The wiki people all have very good excuses to justify what they do, but there is no consistency, only a battle of persistence. What you think does or doesn't belong isn't the point.

I can sit there all day long making justifiable edits, but some nerd with nothing else to do will undo everything I do (also with justification, of course) until I get tired and give up. Why fight it?

Buzz Saw said...

Fire or ice will eventually take us out, but pollution is something we can all reduce.

Casey Serin said...

My own entry at Wikipedia was overly sanitized by the Wiki Nazi™ crowd, who dared not insult anyone with biased points of view -- even when the profiled subject was a fraudster who had freely admitted as much on literally hundreds of occasions, both online and in traditional media.

The article was once proposed for deletion -- the voting page shows how eager the Wiki Nazis were to apologize for my behavior -- "the subject's blog doesn't count as a factual source". ROFL!

The better source for my crimes? Cobbled together by a rag-tag group of people who put together the definitive reference to my crimes and other delusions -- CaseyPedia!!

J said...

There's plenty of consistency in WP policies. See WP:V, WP:OR, WP:CON, WP:NPOV. What is admittedly lacking is consistency in implementation. WP fiefdoms are a significant problem, but one which is getting better over time as controversial topics draw more visibility.

"Justification" is obtained by discussion and consensus. If your edits get reverted, you can give up, or you can stand up. It requires a little commitment (also known as "persistence") and willingness to work with others. I don't fault people who lack the time or desire for this, but it's not a lost cause.

Son of Brock Landers said...

i think this article gets to the heart of the Wiki problem, and it's an older article. my wife and i call wikipedia a "bar bet settler". i trust it with bar bets, but nothing of significance. Mark Cuban has written about Wiki's problems for a while now as well. As he continuously would correct the page about him only to be overruled by an editor who he has never known.

Rob Dawg said...

I disagree. There is only a plaintive claim of consistency as weak cover for arbitrary behavior. Think about it. By wikipedia's own rules their claims of consistency would be disallowed as there is no reference except a very very large blog called wikipedia.

J said...

Reductio ad absurdum, Rob. The authority for the "rules" can be traced to Jimmy Wales and later the Wikimedia Board of Trustees, who explicitly allowed for the ongoing development of policy by consensus. Whether this WORKS particularly well is another debate, but it's not all pulled out of a hat.

Disputes over what goes in the encyclopedia are nothing new. I'm sure the guys at Britannica toss their tea and crumpets at each other many times before agreeing on the content of an article. The arguments are just far more visible on WP.

Incidentally I'm not a WP zealot, I don't edit anything these days. But articles like "DIGITAL MAOISM" above annoy me. I mean, Lanier mentions multiple times that his WP article calls him a "film director" which is apparently a big joke to him. But what does his byline say at the end? "Jaron Lanier is a film director." WTF? Did they pull the byline from WP? Am I missing the irony?

Max said...

I don't fault people who lack the time or desire for this, but it's not a lost cause.

It all depends on your tolerance for passive-aggressive bullying. Rather than address the question (Are you a passive-aggressive bully?) they attack your logic (How can something be both passive and aggressive?) appeal to authority (Bullying is not allowed on Wikipedia.), or simply outlast you by repeatedly undoing changes (usually by employing a "tag-team" approach to get around the three-change rule. Yes, I can spoof my IP address too, but why?)

It comes down to some perverse sense of ego. CS said it well: Casey's own blog wasn't allowed to be linked to! What better source could you ask for?

Max said...

Reductio ad absurdum, Rob.

I think that was his point. The whole thing is ridiculous at its core, which is why Wikipedia is losing respect. A blog the subject of an article writes himself can't be linked to. An error corrected by the subject of an article is undone by an anonymous nerd just because they can.

It's not about unbiased truth; it's about ego and territory.

J said...

Casey's own blog wasn't allowed to be linked to! What better source could you ask for?

They're certainly linked now. IAFF,, CaseyPedia, all there under "External Links". There's a pretty detailed discussion, going back to last year. I haven't read it all, but it appears there was a good faith effort to determine whether the sites were appropriate to include (based on WP policies). Where does "it wasn't allowed" come from? Because one editor came in and disputed it for a couple of days? I don't think that really rises to the level of a structural flaw.

As to your other complaints, sure, some people like to create problems. You've mentioned "anonymous nerd" a number of times who edits "because he can." He's usually caught, and anyway it's a small price to pay to allow the rest of us to edit freely.

But are you suggesting that we should tolerate content which is logically fallacious? Or which violates WP policies? That's not to say that policies are perfect, but they're better than anarchy. They provide a reasonably objective standard for what is essentially subjective content.

Rob Dawg said...

The IPCC shouldn't be used as authoritative for AGW by strict interpretation of the WP rules.

J said...

Throw me a bone Rob. Tell us about this strict interpretation.

Casey Serin said...

@ J -- They're certainly linked now. IAFF,, CaseyPedia, all there under "External Links".

Just for the record, those links were added weeks or months after the initial fervor died down. During the time the debate to keep/delete the article was raging, anyone adding links to Caseypedia et al. would quickly find their edits promptly erased by any of a handful of Wikinazi™ Editors, under the guise of "biased viewpoint", "invalid source", and so forth.

When it became clear that the ratio of people who thought the article was accurate, to the handful of Serin-apologizing wiki editors, was roughly 50-to-1, the latter group gradually lost interest in puffing out their chests. After the ruckus died down, an enterprising Hater™ re-added those "biased" links to the article, without complaint.

Rob Dawg said...

The IPCC report is not peer reviewed nor published in a respected journal. The source data is not available for public scrutiny. The consensus executive is not prepared by scientists or even unbiased people. Often authorship is deliberately concealed.

If the IPPC IV is acceptable then so should be tobacco company smoking studies.

Max said...

But are you suggesting that we should tolerate content which is logically fallacious? Or which violates WP policies? That's not to say that policies are perfect, but they're better than anarchy. They provide a reasonably objective standard for what is essentially subjective content.

I'm not saying it should be tolerated; I'm saying that determined people police articles to make sure information they don't agree with is shouted down. Wikipedia policies are secondary.

Tell me what is worse: anarchy, or fascism?

Akubi said...

Peppy wishes you a Happy Fishnet Friday™!

J said...

I'm not passing judgment on the IPCC report here, just trying to address your concerns with its inclusion in WP.

The Principles Governing IPCC Work explicitly includes peer review (#3). The problem I see with this is that it refers to peer review by policymakers, which can turn into political review. But it's still there.

The Wikipedia page notes that the IPCC does not do its own research; rather, "The IPCC bases its assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific literature." It's a secondary source: the IPCC does analysis, or opinion. Normally this would be an NPOV issue, but the IPCC's findings do reflect a scientific consensus.

There are a significant number of authors and reviewers listed in the documents. They could make the use of sources more clear, but if you drill down into the working group reports, you can find the original sources (presumably peer reviewed).

J said...

I'm saying that determined people police articles to make sure information they don't agree with is shouted down.

What's to stop other determined people from taking the other side? Those with sinister motives may be more committed, but to assume everyone else will give up is preposterous.

Some of this is inevitable with controversial topics, but I suspect that technology will address this problem sooner or later. Similar content being added and removed over and over again ought to be detectable as a "hot spot".

Beyonder said...

The same type of Stalinist mentality that pervades WP also dominates academic publishing. Try reading a modern history book issued to children these days. I bet 99% of Jr.High school students can tell you what global warming is but none of them could tell you who Ronald Reagan was or what the cold war was. Environmentalism has truly emerged as it own religion.

Jean ValJean said...

Wikipedia: Where Persistent Opinions are "Correct" opinions

Lou Minatti said...

Wikipedia is good for stuff that is uncontroversial, like geography. The vast majority of Wikipedia is outstanding.

Anything that deals with a controversial topic on Wikipedia should be taken with a grain of salt.

I don't like the idea of these little ubernazis running around Wikipedia and controlling things.

Akubi said...

You, sir are an Arugula Hater™!!!!

holytrainwreck said...

Global warming, schwarming. Places with cool climates would welcome it, anyway.

More pressing issues are pollution, which is separate from global warming and is more dangerous for breathing, clean water, and energy security. These are the types of issues that should be focussed on.