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Press Releases

  • Please click here for recent Wikipediocracy press releases.

The myth of “Power Users” at Wikipedia

By Tim Davenport /// “Carrite” (Wikipedia username) /// “Randy from Boise” (Wikipediocracy username) with some modest assistance from Yerucham Turing

 

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One of my pet peeves is the way that the WMF bureaucracy conceptualizes Wikipedia participants. They see the world as a potential drone army for them to manipulate into editing Wikipedia through “social networking” devices (such as their failed “Rate This Article” initiative) and artificially-sweetened raspberry-flavored software solutions (Media Viewer, Flow, Visual Editor).

There are billions of people in the world, after all, and golly, they should all be editing “The Encyclopedia Anyone Can Edit” because, ummmm, it’s an encyclopedia anyone can edit, after all. It’s just a matter of the Kumbaya San Francisco Friendly Spacers making it happen with good vibrations and their software programming brilliance! (Hurrah!!! Hurrrah!!! Hurrah!!!)

Of course this assumes that the community of volunteers that actually built the encyclopedia and governing apparatus behind the encyclopedia, are nothing but the Most Highly Perfected editing drones created by their Bay Area masters — who hold all the cards and call all the shots.

This is a matter of fundamental importance.

I was thinking during the Mediaviewer/Superprotection fiasco that it had finally sunk in with the WMF circle jerkers that the Wikipedia Volunteer Community was indeed a real entity, to be dealt with on the basis of partnership. No such luck. Get a load of the following slide from a presentation at the WMF Sept. 25 Mobil Metrics meeting held at Club Headquarters in San Francisco:

Once again we see WMF accepting as axiomatic the dangerous and erroneous model of linear “editor engagement” — casual visitors via Google become regular readers straight to the site; who become casual editors;

…continue reading The myth of “Power Users” at Wikipedia

Wikimedia Foundation’s new VP of Engineering introduces himself

By Stanistani, with additional reporting from Nathalie Collida

Recently Wikipedia’s parent organization, the Wikimedia Foundation, selected a new VP of Engineering, Texas University Computer Science graduate Damon Sicore. This may well mark a watershed in the WMF’s recruiting practices for its software team, given that until recently, a commitment to spending large amounts of time on Wikipedia was often deemed a more important qualification than actual professional training and experience. Some of the high-profile software hires at the WMF were not sourced from the considerable talent pool in the Bay Area, but from much farther afield. James Forrester, the product manager for the troubled VisualEditor, is a British Politics graduate and former civil servant who has been editing Wikipedia since 2002. Oliver Keyes, another British import, has a degree in Law but is employed as a “research analyst” for the WMF, with a special focus on Flow, a discussion system with severe teething problems. Another long-term Wikipedian, Ukraine-born Maryana Pynchuk, holds various degrees in Eastern European languages and literature. Yet, at the WMF, she earns her keep as a product manager for mobile web communications.

Damon Sicore, on the other hand, is not only local and without a prior history of editing Wikipedia, he also has impressive credentials, including six years as Vice President of Engineering at Mozilla, the corporation most famous for its Firefox web browser. But in spite of his wealth of professional experience, he got off to an awkward start by quoting Che Guevara, the controversial Argentinian/Cuban guerrilla leader, as an inspiration for Damon’s Call to Action. Okay, we all have different heroes.

A few days later, Mr. Sicore held what were whimsically described as ‘office hours’ using the ancient Internet Relay Chat (IRC) system.

If you comb through the logons, logoffs, dropped connections, miscues and other

…continue reading Wikimedia Foundation’s new VP of Engineering introduces himself

Wikipedia: re-writing history

15253561470_d6e5af7e0c_oBy Andreas Kolbe

For more than six years, Wikipedia named an innocent man, Joe Streater, as a key culprit in the 1978–79 Boston College basketball point shaving scandal. Thanks to the detective work of Ben Koo at sports blog Awful Announcing, the world now knows (again!) that Joe Streater had no involvement in the affair. He couldn’t have, because he didn’t even play for the team in the 1978–79 season.

Entering the Wikipedia wormhole

In his article, Guilt by Wikipedia: How Joe Streater Became Falsely Attached To The Boston College Point Shaving Scandal, Ben Koo describes how he fell “down this wormhole” that ended at an anonymous Wikipedia edit made over six years ago.

It began like this: Koo had reviewed a 30 for 30 documentary on the Boston College point shaving scandal for Awful Announcing. In this review, he remarked on the curious fact that one of the four players eventually tied to the scandal wasn’t mentioned in the film at all.

This prompted a puzzled email inquiry from a former Boston College player who’d been involved in the affair: Which player did Koo mean? Koo replied that he had found it curious that Joe Streater hadn’t been mentioned in the documentary, given that all the articles he had read as part of his background research had named Streater as one of the sportsmen involved. The reply he got from the former Boston player astonished him:

“Joe Streater wasn’t even on the team that infamous year as he had left school the year before.”

At first, Koo was incredulous. How could this be? Streater was mentioned in Wikipedia and so many other articles on the web. But

…continue reading Wikipedia: re-writing history