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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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Wikipedia: a Bot’s-Eye View

By Hersch

As the Twenty-First Century drags on, more and more aspects of our daily lives are dominated by digital gizmos, and more and more common tasks are automated. So, then, why not Wikipedia? In recent years, automated programs, also known as robots or “bots,” have demonstrated that they can sign comments left on talk pages, revert vandalism, check for copyright violations on new pages, add or remove protection templates, and archive talk pages more expeditiously, with fewer errors, and with more civility and less drama than the human editors. Should we be looking forward to the day when Wikipedia will be fully automated, where bots will trawl the net for news sources and automatically include every last tidbit of gossipy trivia about celebrities or fictional television characters, rendering Wikipedia’s human editors entirely unnecessary?

Ah, but I can hear the objections already. Can bots be programmed to be snarky and disingenuous? Will they be able to upload sexually explicit photos of themselves? I know that some of you are prepared to argue that there are some aspects of human behavior which can never be successfully duplicated by what some like to call “artificial intelligence.” And most importantly, from the standpoint of a crowd-sourced online neo-encyclopedia, can a bot push POV?* Does a bot even have a POV?

These are questions which demand answers. In order explore the topic further, we present these YouTube videos where the bots themselves grapple with the most fundamental questions about what it means to be a Wikipedian.

 

 

 

* [for the novice reader, to “push POV” is WikiSpeak for the practice of slanting Wikipedia articles so that they conform to one’s own set of biases, or “point of view.”]

(This blog post was originally published September 2, 2012)

Video

…continue reading Wikipedia: a Bot’s-Eye View

Unpaid Advocacy on Wikipedia

by The Unpaid Critic

Neelix’ namesake, a character from the “Star Trek” TV series

One of Wikipedia’s most active editors left abruptly last week, with little notice or comment. Why would Neelix, a Wikipedia admin and campus ambassador who had been editing since 2006, suddenly quit the project which had occupied so much of his free time for so many years? At first glance it looked like he was the target of a bullying campaign from an internet forum, but a closer look reveals a much more interesting story.

Hipinion Tara Teng was Miss World Canada 2012. In late March 2013, Neelix created an article about her on Wikipedia. About a year later, a discussion titled “this is the story of an abolitionist as told by her stalker” was started on a web forum called Hipinion. Based on the length of the article and amount of detail included, the participants of that forum suspected that Neelix was obsessed with Teng and was using Wikipedia as a vehicle to further this obsession.

It isn’t hard to understand why Hipinion members might come to the conclusion that Neelix was obsessed with Tara Teng. Neelix made literally hundreds of edits to the article over many months. At its largest, the biography was over 100,000 bytes of wikitext. To put this in context, the biography of former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell is only 40,337 bytes. It is difficult to imagine that a 20-something beauty pageant winner merits a biography that is more than twice as long as that of Canada’s first female head of government, a woman who has also had careers as a lawyer, university professor, and diplomat.

The Hipinion thread is no longer publicly viewable, although some of the postings can be seen

…continue reading Unpaid Advocacy on Wikipedia