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Press Releases

  • Please click here for recent Wikipediocracy press releases.

Wikipedia’s culture of sexism – it’s not just for novelists.

by Nathalie Collida and Andreas Kolbe With research contributions from Delicious carbuncle and Eric Barbour

Amanda Filipacchi’s New York Times article about Wikipedia’s ghettoization of female novelists finally shone the spotlight on some of the rampant sexism that pervades almost every corner of the online “encyclopaedia”. Filipacchi said she had “noticed something strange on Wikipedia”:

It appears that gradually, over time, editors have begun the process of moving women, one by one, alphabetically, from the “American Novelists” category to the “American Women Novelists” subcategory. So far, female authors whose last names begin with A or B have been most affected, although many others have, too. The intention appears to be to create a list of “American Novelists” on Wikipedia that is made up almost entirely of men.

So in Wikipedia, US-born female writers were no longer listed in the “American novelists” category, but instead confined to a pigeonhole labelled “American women novelists”. Until Filipacchi’s article appeared, there was no corresponding category for “American men novelists” – although one was then hastily created. At the time of writing, it contained links to a proud 104 biographies of male writers, but was also nominated for deletion.

The controversy received a new impetus a few days later, when Filipacchi published a follow-up in the New York Times, noting that her Wikipedia biography had suddenly come in for “special attention”:

As soon as the Op-Ed article appeared, unhappy Wikipedia editors pounced on my Wikipedia page and started making alterations to it, erasing as much as they possibly could without (I assume) technically breaking the rules. They removed the links to outside sources, like interviews of me and reviews of my novels. Not surprisingly, they also removed the link to the Op-Ed article. At the same time, they put up a banner at the

…continue reading Wikipedia’s culture of sexism – it’s not just for novelists.

Busy day at the Wikimedia Foundation office?

by Roger Hogsky

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UPDATE: There has been a response to this story from the Wikimedia Foundation, which is reproduced at the bottom of this piece.

Many businesses and organizations operate their offices from a central Internet connection that establishes just one IP address for all of its employees (and visitors) to use. However, by doing so, it can lead to situations where one employee or one visitor is up to no good on the Internet, leaving behind the IP address breadcrumbs that incriminate the whole organization.

You would think that an advanced technology juggernaut like the Wikimedia Foundation would be very careful and secure about how it allocates its publicly-viewable IP addresses to employees and visitors to their headquarters, but perhaps this is not the case. Let’s juxtapose some activities taking place within or regarding the Wikimedia Foundation, on some particular days in recent history, shall we now?

 

 

April 2, 2008: Wikimedia Foundation board chairperson Florence Devouard asks the WMF lead attorney Mike Godwin:

Let’s say… if the board was to decide on a dual governance between a “board of trustees” and a “program council”, what would the legal comment you would provide ?

Same day, over on Wikipedia, from the Wikimedia Foundation’s IP address, regarding the Bean (T–H–L) article:

They have a very distinct taste to them. They kind of resemble the smell of cat litter. They are really dark green like a crayon.

 

July 5, 2010: Wikimedia Foundation dignitary, Samuel Klein, discusses prioritization of spending:

I agree we should have specific goals for resources, both short- and long-term. The reason to allocate a fund for long-term infrastructure support, is to avoid confusing that with

…continue reading Busy day at the Wikimedia Foundation office?

Duns Scotus and Jennifer Lopez: Why can’t Wikipedia make better sausages?

By Edward Buckner

Despite the acknowledged shortcomings of Wikipedia’s governance, the strongest argument against reforming it is its apparent extraordinary success. Editing Wikipedia is like making sausages, they say: it’s a nasty process that you really don’t want to see [1]. As long as the end product is nice tasty sausages, does it really matter how it ended up on our plate?

Even when you do find mistakes, Wikipedia tells us that it doesn’t matter in the long run. Anyone can edit Wikipedia, and so there is a quasi-Darwinian process which ensures that only the fittest edits – i.e. the good ones – will survive, and the final result will be perfect. Wikipedia doesn’t need experts, or an editorial board, any more than natural selection needs a design committee. As Kevin Kelly of Wired once said, the crowdsourced wiki is like an invisible hand which emerges from its ‘very dumb members’. Why then would it need a visible hand? [2]

More sausagemakers, better sausages?

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The idea that more is better is a fundamental principle of Wikipedia, and is the reason why such a large chunk of the Wikimedia Foundation’s annual budget – probably about $10m of it [3] – is dedicated to combating the decline in the editorial base. The idea underpins the unofficial policy of purging the ‘old guard’ of established editors, on the grounds that their impatience or uncivil behaviour towards well-meaning but incompetent editors is putting off newcomers. A respected member of the Wikipedia military history project, and another long-standing editor of many of Wikipedia’s Featured Articles have recently been driven off as a result of the policy. The survival of Wikipedia, they say, depends not on keeping a small number of skilled individuals, but on attracting large numbers

…continue reading Duns Scotus and Jennifer Lopez: Why can’t Wikipedia make better sausages?