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Wikipedia Roulette

by Zoloft

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Sometimes I evaluate how Wikipedia is faring by playing a little game. You like games, don’t you? Let’s play a game…

Go to Wikipedia and just click on the ‘Random Article’ link—it’s on the left side of the page.

*CLICK* Iranian Directorate (T–H–L) Out-of-date, poorly sourced stub about a shadowy office in the Pentagon purportedly created in 2006 to undercut the government in Iran.

Following the links, it’s difficult to tell if this office even existed. The actual State Department office on Iran (which really is influential) is a redlink). [Editor’s note: a redlink on Wikipedia is a link that leads to page that is deceased or non-existent.]

Created by user Boud (T–C–L) in 2006, smacked around by other editors and bots, POV never approaching neutral.

*CLICK* Battle of Pirano (T–H–L)

A good article about a naval engagement, if a bit wordy, except for a glob of nationalism in the lede from Slovenian activist Eleassar (T–C–L):

“This was the only battle ever fought in the sea nowadays belonging to Slovenia.”

The battle occurred in 1812. Slovenia did not exist until 1918.

*CLICK* Antthony Mark Hankins (T–H–L)

Tagged for sounding like an advertisement and for having poor references for more than a year, uncorrected by anyone.

It’s a puff piece about a third-tier clothing designer, mostly referenced by the subject’s own book.

External links are to the subject’s website and to the Home Shopping Network.

Article creator Retrac77 (T–C–L)‘s edits are only to this page. Paid editor?

*CLICK* Das Antas River (Tibagi_River) (T–H–L)

“The Das Antas River (Tibagi River) is a river of Paraná state in southern Brazil.”

That’s the whole body text of the article.

Created three years ago and never touched again by user Ser Amantio di Nicolao

…continue reading Wikipedia Roulette

Meet the editors: For An Angel

By Delicious Carbuncle Another in a in a series of blog posts highlighting lesser-known Wikipedia editors.

Quote: “There’s a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it’s not about who’s got the most bullets. It’s about who controls the information. What we see and hear. How we work. What we think. It’s all about the information. The world isn’t run by weapons anymore. Or energy. Or money. It’s run by little ones and zeroes. Little bits of data. It’s all just electrons.”

That’s a quote from the 1992 spy comedy Sneakers. It is curiously appropriate for describing a type of warfare in which Wikipedia is used to advance a particular ideology or worldview. This quote appears on the userpage of Wikipedia editor For An Angel.

For An Angel recently created a biography of minor actress Annalise Basso. Minor both in the sense that she has yet to have a lead role and also in that she is 14 years old. In fact, For An Angel’s Wikipedia editing has two distinct areas of focus – child or teen actresses and television shows aimed at teens and pre-teens. For An Angel is not the only editor who contributes mainly to this subject area, but in this particular case, there is more than meets the eye.

Reinventing Ospinad On For An Angel’s userpage, they have a list of articles that they have created. The odd thing is

…continue reading Meet the editors: For An Angel

Gender, Bending Wikipedia

By Moxie

This article explains how a single user on Wikipedia with an agenda can manipulate the project over an extended period. Wikipedia lists a number of articles under the category “English murderers“, and as of writing this category has a handful of subcategories: English assassins (7), English murderers of children (36), English people convicted of murder (155), English female murderers‎ (40), and English regicides (mostly those involved in the execution of Charles I)‎. For some reason Wikipedia does not have a category “English male murderers” which some may consider a bias in itself.

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Lets focus on the two categories English people convicted of murder (155) and English female murderers‎ (40). It turns out that 35 of the 40 “English female murderers” are also in the category “English people convicted of murder”; the remainder are male. Assuming that eventually the missing 5 women will get added to the category, Wikipedia has 120 articles (75%) concerning male murderers and 40 articles (25%) concerning female murderers. How does this compare to actual gender breakdown of murder convictions in England?

In 1995/6 (which does not seem to be a special year) there were 935 males convicted of murder (90%) and 101 females convicted of murder (10%). How is it that a female is 2.5 times more likely to be listed as a murderer on wikipedia than a male? Enter the special interest contributor by the name of Shakehandsman, a Wikipedian who tends to add negative copy to articles on women. Even when Shakehandsman isn’t writing overt negative comment, his additions are designed to denigrate the person indirectly. For example here is the before and after Shakehandsman version of the article on journalist

…continue reading Gender, Bending Wikipedia