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  • We exist to shine the light of scrutiny into the dark crevices of Wikipedia and its related projects; to examine the corruption there, along with its structural flaws; and to inoculate the unsuspecting public against the torrent of misinformation, defamation, and general nonsense that issues forth from one of the world’s most frequently visited websites, the “encyclopedia that anyone can edit.”
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Press Releases

  • Please click here for recent Wikipediocracy press releases.

Elementary Mathematics on Wikipedia

By Adrian Riskin Department of Mathematics Whittier College Whittier, CA 90608 ariskin@whittier.edu

Ask any college professor about the accuracy of Wikipedia and they will tell you … well, if they’re a mathematician they may actually tell you that it’s quite accurate. I often recommend that my students look up definitions in Wikipedia and I know that many of my colleagues do as well. In fact I look up definitions on Wikipedia myself. If you want to know, e.g., what a Halin graph is, you could do much worse than the linked article. Yes, it’s semi-literate at best, but it’s informative and not wrong. Furthermore, my colleagues in the humanities and the social sciences are so dead set against Wikipedia that I find myself unable to resist teasing them by remarking on how useful I find it in my professional work.

But you know, I’ve also edited Wikipedia, although very rarely mathematics articles, and found the experience to be toxic and soul-killing and the (non-mathematical) articles mostly worse than useless, even the ones I’ve written myself. I unthinkingly assumed that the difference in quality between the technical mathematical articles and, say, the BLP and POV battlegrounds so familiar to Wikipediocracy readers was due to the calm, logical, sociable nature of mathematicians. But recently it occurred to me that (a) I don’t really read the mathematics articles carefully, but rather just skim through them until I find the bit I need, and (b) I never look at the articles on very basic subjects in mathematics, many of which are among the 500 most frequently viewed articles.

I’m too lazy to pick a technical article on an advanced subject in mathematics and read it carefully, but I did take a look at some of the articles on more basic subjects and

…continue reading Elementary Mathematics on Wikipedia

Wikimedia needs your nipples

by Moxie

Background

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A couple of years ago a bored teenager took a couple of photos of himself and posted them to Wikimedia Commons. The first photo was of his bare legs, the second photo was of his nipple. Then for some reason, probably because he’d grown up a bit, he wished that those images weren’t on online any more. At the beginning of January 2012 he made a formal request asking Wikipedia commons remove the photos for him. Simply enough, you may think, but this is Wikimedia Commons, and things are never simple there.

Deletion Requests

Within a twinkling of an eye it was declared that photos of teen boy nipples are highly educational – request denied. But not before another user “VolodyA! V Anarhist”, who in 2000 was convicted of child pornography offences, had told him that:

Without any other information apart from “please delete” i hope that admins will have common sense to close the request and keep the image.

The kid tried to make the same request twice more, until some nasty mean old administrator James L. Woodward came by to threaten him:

You have nominated File:Teen_boy’s_Nipple.jpg for deletion three times without a reason acceptable to Commons. If you nominate it again, or take any similar action, you will be blocked from editing on Commons.

James L. Woodward has “more than 30 years of high technology management experience. Jim has raised over $15 million in venture capital and has been CFO of several public companies. He has been the founding CFO of a variety of successful companies” but apparently is unable to pass up an opportunity to post a threat.

Meanwhile the requests to have the photo deleted were denied, denied, and denied, “VolodyA! V Anarhist” being most

…continue reading Wikimedia needs your nipples

Wikipedia’s Balkanisation

By Andreas Kolbe, with input from Eric Barbour

Wikipedia is the encyclopedia anyone can edit – anonymously, under an assumed name. Credentials are unnecessary. The Wikimedia Foundation does not even make any provision to verify the credentials of actual subject matter experts who are happy to edit under their real names. As a result, such experts have no more standing in Wikipedia than any other anonymous contributor. At the same time, contributors are free to claim qualifications they do not have – sometimes with amusing (or terrifying, depending on your point of view) results.

Wikipedia is also one of the top Google links for almost any topic under the sun. Enter anything at all in Google, and a Wikipedia article is usually found near the top of the search listing – a reflection of the site’s top-10 Alexa ranking. This visibility, combined with the ease with which anyone can change content at any time, makes Wikipedia an irresistible magnet for social entrepreneurs, activists and extremists of all kinds.

Politically motivated Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik famously exhorted his sympathisers to edit Wikipedia to create new truths in support of his right-wing agenda. He even edited it himself (as did Pentagon shooter John Patrick Bedell and Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza). Advice on how to edit Wikipedia can be found on white supremacist website Stormfront.

According to the Wikipedia myth, the presence of extremists among its editor base poses no problem. Opposing activists, so the thinking goes, will balance articles. At best, however, this adversarial approach produces articles dominated by duelling extremist sources, with moderate and mainstream opinions underrepresented; moderates simply don’t care enough to engage in daily wars over article wordings. At worst, as the number of Wikipedia administrators continues to dwindle and the number of articles rises to

…continue reading Wikipedia’s Balkanisation