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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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Taking the Alphabet Soup with a Grain of Salt

By Hersch

As is sometimes the case with highly insular organizations, Wikipedia has developed an elaborate jargon, incomprehensible to outsiders. It has been made even more bewildering to the uninitiated by being expressed almost exclusively in the form of acronyms. Increasingly, this serves to defend the project against newcomers who actually believe that “anyone can edit”; in content disputes, it gives the advantage to entrenched persons who can cite policy with great facility (and greater selectivity.) Here is a survey of some of Wikipedia’s most popular acronyms, with some jaundiced commentary on the definitions:



AGF (WP:AGF) – Assume good faith.

In theory: come on, people now, smile on your brother. We’re all in this together to provide accurate information to a benighted world. If someone seems to be applying policy in an oddly incorrect and seemingly self-serving manner, it is surely an honest mistake.

In practice: when you are busily gaming the system in order to tilt a particular article toward your preferred bias, and someone calls you on it, you may indignantly cite this policy. “Moi?”

AN (WP:AN) – Administrators’ noticeboard.

In theory: a place where Wikipedia administrators and other interested parties can freely discuss problem users and resolve complex issues.

In practice: here you may swiftly assemble a lynch mob for any occasion, and with a little luck, get the precipitous action that you desire. Or not.

ARBCOM (WP:ARBCOM) – Arbitration Committee.

In theory: the buck stops here for dispute resolution.

In practice: here you may put on your powdered wig and expound your arguments at great length, with faux-legalistic gravitas. This will have little effect on the Committee, which is anxiously trying

…continue reading Taking the Alphabet Soup with a Grain of Salt


By enwikibadscience

The basic reality is, (Wikipedia) is no more or less error-prone than other sources of information,” Jay Walsh, former director of communications for the Wikimedia Foundation, says.

— How technology has redefined knowledge, Angela Hill, The Oakland Tribune, from San Jose Mercury News Education section

Really, Mr. Walsh? While there are some excellent science articles on en.Wikipedia created by editors who understand how to write accurate, well-sourced, up-to-date articles with readable prose, this is not the case for a lot of bad science which appears on en.Wikipedia’s main page.

The basic reality is that the crowd-sourcing format coupled with anti-elitist hostility favors a main page that highlights inaccurate science articles written and promoted by mostly male, Western, technology-savvy editors who do little but edit en.Wikipedia. These editors use jargon without understanding, jumble up word order to create the opposite meaning, simply guess at the science they don’t know, and have no ability to write prose in a logical fashion.

Recently, in celebration of Halloween, and in the race to the WikiCup, an editor expanded an article about a bat species, Natterer’s bat (Myotis nattereri) to get it on the main page on October 30, 2013. In order to show my Halloween spirit, I blogged about the article on the 31st. Then I started clicking through the internal links (wikilinks) in the article and seeing how well-supported the information was by other en.Wikipedia articles.

The article is about a microbat, a member of the clade (or grade, possibly) of bats that are known for using echolocation to catch prey. The article generalizes that all bats use echolocation to catch prey. (“Bats emit sounds at too high a frequency for most humans to detect and they interpret the echoes created in order

…continue reading Bats!

Everything you never needed to know about bras (but Wikipedia will tell you, anyway)

By Mimmie

Having used a bra for some decades, I thought I knew a bit about them. That was until I hit the Wikipedia page for bras, called Brassiere (T–H–L), which, incredibly, is perceived as one of Wikipedia’s best articles, and gets viewed 1200+ times a day.


As of this writing, the article looks like this. As I read it, my eyes just became larger, and larger … at the end they felt like the size of an LL-cup. The article is filled with statements about bras which make them sound like modern-day torture instruments, which women only wear because of social pressure or vanity.

Where to begin? Let’s start just at the introduction: “other research has shown that going braless may also eliminate pain,” it proclaims.

Really? Perusing the article, I find a section entitled Bra-free relief from pain, citing a hodgepodge of studies.

For instance: According to a study published in the Clinical Study of Pain, large-breasted women can reduce back pain by going braless. Of the women participating in the study, 79% decided to stop wearing bras completely.

Sounds credible? Right. It is cited to a book called “The Secret of Health: Breast Wisdom.” Alas, searching a bit further, you find that the book also promotes Dressed to Kill (book) (T–H–L), published to promote a theory which has been totally debunked, that wearing bras causes cancer.

The reliability of this source just went through the floor. But that does not stop it being used on Wikipedia!

And so it goes.

Oh, but wait. There is a study that promotes the conclusion that back pain is reduced by not wearing a bra: Ryan (2000). Alas, that study does not have a control-group! And it is rather elementary that no conclusions

…continue reading Everything you never needed to know about bras (but Wikipedia will tell you, anyway)