Joho the Blogwikipedia Archives - Page 2 of 4 - Joho the Blog

January 10, 2011

Visualizing Wikipedia deletions

Notabilia has visualized the hundred longest discussion threads at Wikipedia that resulted in the deletion of an article and the hundred that did not. The visualized threads take on shapes depending on whether the discussion was controversial, swinging, or unanimous. For those whose brains can process visualized information (as mine cannot), you will undoubtedly learn much. For the rest of us: Oooooh, pretty!

They’ve posted some other analyses as well. For example, “The analysis [pdf] of a large sample of AfD discussions (200K discussions that took place between November 2002 and July 2010) suggests that the largest part of these discussions ends after only a few recommendations are expressed.” And: “Delete decisions tend to be fairly unanimous. In contrast, we found many Keep decisions resulting from a discussion that leaned towards deletion…”

1 Comment »

November 23, 2010

Radio Berkman: Wikipedia

The latest Radio Berkman podcast is up. This time, it’s with Joseph Reagle, author Good Faith Collaboration, about the culture of Wikipedia. And as a special bonus, if you act now (or later), there’s a bonus interview with Zack Exley, Chief Community Officer for the Wikimedia Foundation.


January 25, 2010

How to use the Web to teach: An example

Want to see one way to use the Web to teach? Berkman‘s Jonathan Zittrain and Stanford Law’s Elizabeth Stark are teaching a course called Difficult Problems in Cyberlaw. It looks like they have students creating wiki pages for the various topics being discussed. The one on “The Future of Wikipedia” is a terrific resource for exploring the issues Wikipedia is facing.

Among the many things I like about this approach: It implicitly makes the process of learning — which we have traditionally taken as an inward process — a social, outbound process. By learning this way. we are not only enriching ourselves, but enriching our world.

My only criticism: I wish the pages had prominent pointers to a main page that explains that the pages are part of a course.

1 Comment »

November 19, 2009

Two long posts well worth reading

Ethan Zuckerman ponders what good is knowing if it doesn’t lead to effective action…and he isn’t asking this rhetorically. You want to read this because Ethan himself is an extreme knower, an extreme care-er, and a full time agent of change. I found that this post caused me to have an internal dialogue in which I kept interrupting myself. The world is just so hard to change, even when the need is so obvious and urgent, and yet we can’t let ourselves believe that knowing and caring can make no difference at all. What’s at issue here (at least in my internal dialogue) is that the model of knowing, caring, and acting isn’t explaining our experience. Or our hope.

Then there’s Evgeny Morozov’s review of Andrew Lih’s The Wikipedia Revolution in the Boston Review. Evgeny likes Andrew’s book although he thinks it doesn’t explain enough about why Wikipedians wikipede. The comment thread is also well worth reading.

Comments Off on Two long posts well worth reading

September 2, 2009

Wikipedia’s bio policy explained

Billy Barnes explains what’s really going on with Wikipedia’s new process for editing the biographies of living people.

What the media reported: In response to vandalism of bios, Wikipedia is not allowing any edits to bios of living people to be posted before they have been reviewed by trusted editors. (Implication: Wikipedia has failed at its mission of completely open, ungoverned editing [which of course isn’t Wikipedia’s mission].)

What actually is happening: Wikipedia has a two month trial of a “patrolled revisions” system that lets a reviewer (and I’m not sure who is in that class) set a flag on a bio of a living person to indicate that that particular version is vandalism free. According to the Wikipedia page describing this: “Currently, the number of edits to BLPs [biographies of living people] is so large that we don’t have the power to check all of them. This system allows us to monitor changes to BLPs by reducing the number of diffs to check by comparing new edits to previously patrolled revision.”

Does this mean that if you make a change to a living bio, it first has to be marked as approved before it will be posted? Not as far as I can tell: ” Patrolling does not affect the revision viewed by unregistered users by default, it’s always the latest one (unless the article is flag protected).” In fact, Jimmy Wales has said (on an email list I’m on) that the aim of this change is to use more efficient patrolling to enable some pages that have been locked to once again be editable by any user. That’s more or less the opposite of what the media coverage said. And, I hasten to add, what slashdot and, um, I said about it. (And I hope I’m getting it right this time…)

[Tags: ]


August 25, 2009

Wikipedia’s tactical change mistaken for strategic

At the English language version of Wikipedia now, changes to articles about living people won’t be posted until a Wikipedian has reviewed it. Those articles are now moderated. (See Slashdot for details and discussion.)

I am surprised by the media being surprised by this. Wikipedia has a complex set of rules, processes, and roles in place in order to help it achieve its goal of becoming a great encyclopedia. (See Andrew Lih’s The Wikipedia Revolution‘, and How Wikipedia Works by Phoebe Ayers, Charles Matthews, and Ben Yatesfor book-length explanations.) This new change, which seems to me to be a reasonable approach worth a try, is just one more process, not a signal that Wikipedia has failed in its original intent to be completely open and democratic. In effect, edits to this class of articles are simply being reviewed before being posted rather than after.

The new policy is only surprising if you insist on thinking that Wikipedia has failed if it isn’t completely open and free. No, Wikipedia fails if it doesn’t become a great encyclopedia. In my view, Wikipedia has in many of the most important ways succeeded already.

PS: If you think I’ve gotten this wrong, please please let me know, in the comments or at, since I’ll be on KCBS at 2:20pm EDT to be interviewed about this for four minutes.

[Tags: ]


July 19, 2009

Britannica: #1 at Google

Today, for the very first time in my experience, The Encyclopedia Britannica was the #1 result at Google for a query.

It’s good to see the EB making progress with its online offering, but I’m actually puzzled in this case. The query was “horizontal hold” (without quotes), and the EB page that’s #1 is pretty much worthless. It’s a stub that gives a snippet of the article on the topic, but the snippet oddly begins with definition #4. The page then points us into actual articles in the EB, but they’re articles you have to pay for (although the EB offers a “no risk” free trial).

So, how did Google’s special sauce float this especially unhelpful page to the surface? And why isn’t there a Wikipedia page on “horizontal hold”? And does this mean that if there’s no Wikipedia page for a topic, Google gets the vapors and just doesn’t know what to recommend? Nooooo………

[Tags: ]


June 19, 2009

Wikipedia goes video

David Talbot reports that Wikipedia is getting ready to make embedded video and important part of its content.

[Tags: ]

Comments Off on Wikipedia goes video

June 9, 2009

Meaning-mining Wikipedia

DBpedia extracts information from Wikipedia, building a database that you can query. This isn’t easy because much of the information in Wikipedia is unstructured. On the other hand, there’s an awful lot that’s structured enough so that an algorithm can reliably deduce the semantic content from the language and the layout. For example, the boxed info on bio pages is pretty standardized, so your algorithm can usually assume that the text that follows “Born: ” is a date and not a place name. As the DBpedia site says:

The DBpedia knowledge base currently describes more than 2.6 million things, including at least 213,000 persons, 328,000 places, 57,000 music albums, 36,000 films, 20,000 companies. The knowledge base consists of 274 million pieces of information (RDF triples). It features labels and short abstracts for these things in 30 different languages; 609,000 links to images and 3,150,000 links to external web pages; 4,878,100 external links into other RDF datasets, 415,000 Wikipedia categories, and 75,000 YAGO categories.

Over time, the site will get better and better at extracting info from Wikipedia. And as it does so, it’s building a generalized corpus of query-able knowledge.

As of now, the means of querying the knowledge requires some familiarity with building database queries. But, the world has accumulated lots of facility with putting front-ends onto databases. DBpedia is working on something differentL accumulating an encyclopedic database, open to all and expressed in the open language of the Semantic Web.

(Via Mirek Sopek.) [Tags: ]


June 8, 2009

Next, he dehydrates water

Rob Matthews has printed out and bound Wikipedia’s featured articles, creating a 5,000 page volume.

In case you were wondering, featured articles are articles that get a gold star from Wikipedia – about one in every 1,140 at the moment, for the English language version.

(If Rob hadn’t copyrighted the excellent photos, they’d be popping up in every third slide deck from now on.)

[Tags: ]

1 Comment »

« Previous Page | Next Page »