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Deconstructing Wikipedia User Mathsci

by E. A. Barbour

“Mathsci”, a British Wikipedian since 2006, has unquestionably written some good content for mathematics, science and music articles. He is a degreed and lauded mathematician, one of the few “experts” to successfully endure Wikipedia’s mad “anti-expert culture”.

Since 2009, Mathsci has also developed a reputation as a determined opponent of pseudoscience and “quack medical” editors, generally a good thing for a reference-work project that attracts many “cranks” of various persuasions.

As a result of his endless disputes with others over the Race and Intelligence subject area, or “R&I” (a common target for racists and people with “fringe” viewpoints”) and with promoters of pseudoscience, his recent history has shifted from content work to constant arguing on talk pages and noticeboards, and aggressive pursuit of perceived enemies.

Sockpuppets on Wikipedia are viewed as a major obstacle to achieving the project’s goals. Characterizing one’s opponents as sockpuppets is

…continue reading Deconstructing Wikipedia User Mathsci

The tragedy of Wikipedia’s commons

By Gigs

This article appeared originally in the Wikipedia Signpost, June 12, 2013.

I’ve long thought that we should get rid of the Commons as we know it. Commons has evolved, through the actions of a tiny group of people, into a project with interests that compete with the needs of the various encyclopedias that are the primary users of Commons, and the reason it was created. It’s also understaffed, which results in poor curation, large administrative backlogs, and poor policy development.

First, some background information. Commons was primarily created so we could share media between various wikis, with a secondary goal of being a free media repository. When Erik Möller proposed the idea of Commons, he also proposed an inclusion criteria, “Material would be eligible for inclusion in the Commons if it is useful to at least ONE Wikimedia project [including potential future use].”

At no point during initial discussions was it proposed that

…continue reading The tragedy of Wikipedia’s commons

The Deaf Leading the Blind — the tale of Jimmy Wales’ vanishing talk page posts

by Wer900

Jimmy Wales is well-known for having opened his user talk page to general discussion of Wikipedia/Wikimedia issues, creating the impression that he is genuinely interested in fueling productive and civil debate on the nature of the encyclopedia. After deeper analysis of the talk page’s history, though, it becomes clear that there is something more at work than a desire for constructive discussion. On numerous occasions, the god-king, constitutional monarch, and sole founder of Wikipedia has suppressed discussion about topics uncomfortable to him, including the various misdeeds of the Board of Trustees and chapters of the Wikimedia Foundation, and the editing community at large, not to mention those of Wales himself.

Take this talk-page removal from April 27, 2013. Although he ostensibly removed the message in order to “rm trollimg”, the message contained a link to a particularly damning article in the Daily Dot regarding his non-payment of the 2012 “Wikipedian of the Year”

…continue reading The Deaf Leading the Blind — the tale of Jimmy Wales’ vanishing talk page posts