Tag: encyclopaedia britannica

Climate change censored on Wikipedia

While most of the world’s press said that the weird weather in the US was probably caused by climate change, the world’s online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, didn’t mention that suggestion.

According to Pop Sci, that is because the brains behind the Wikipedia page, Ken Mampel, an unemployed, 56-year-old Floridian, is a climate change denier who used the page to push his own agenda.

Mampel created a winner on the page. His Wackypedia article was the single most-viewed document about Hurricane Sandy. Mampel established himself as by far the most active contributor to the page, with more than twice the number of edits than his nearest contributor.

But Mampel made sure that the Hurricane Sandy article, for four days after the hurricane made landfall in New Jersey, had no mention of “global warming” or “climate change”.

Indeed, it was not until 1 November that a new section appeared at the bottom of the page titled “Connection to global warming”.

It was deleted by Mampel, who insisted that it be sent to the global warming page.

Mampel has continued to fight to keep any discussion on global warming on the grounds that this was a cause. He has made it clear that he does not believe in climate change and has had to bend a lot of the reports so that climate change is not mentioned.

For example, he mentioned that New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg had endorsed Obama for president based on his handling of the hurricane. He failed to mention that Bloomberg had specifically mentioned climate change in his endorsement speech.

There are shedloads of examples of science focused comments about Sandy being linked to climate change but Mampel wouldn’t add that to the Wikipedia entry.

If someone pointed to a reference, he took it out because in his religion, it is not proven.

The hijacking of Wikipedia by those with political views or wishing to push an agenda has always been the site’s Achilles’ heel. In this case it is just one editor, with oddball ideas, trying to keep information that does not fit into a fantasy away from the great unwashed. 

Wikipedia is practically finished

A historical researcher said that Wikipedia is about as good as it is going to get.

Writing in the Journal of Military History, which we get for the spot the cannon ball competition, Richard Jensen wrote that Wikipedia may be as complete as it’s ever going to be.

Jensen describes how the Wikipedia entry for the War of 1812 shows how complete the online encyclopedia is.

The post, which explains how the British came back after the Revolutionary War, burnt the White House and nearly took the country back, has more or less stopped being edited.

In the early days of that war’s Wikipedia entry, it was being edited dozens of times a day by a dedicated group of history buffs, Jensen wrote.

This has happened to thousands of articles as the major events, people, and concepts in history are covered more or less comprehensively.

Jensen pointed out that there are a finite number of things about which one can write about one subject.

He said that once an encyclopedia reaches 100,000 articles, the pool of good material shrinks. By the time one million articles are written, it must tax ingenuity to think of something new. Wikipedia passed the four million article mark in summer 2012, he said.

There is still a lot of work to be done in Wikipedia, such as the localisation of articles to other languages, he suggested.

Wikipedia hit by "pay for entry" scandal

Two trusted Wikipedia types are editing Wikipedia pages and facilitating front-page placement for paying clients.

According to CNET, Jimmy Wales is furious. After all it is one thing to make worthy people disappear because you have a chip on your shoulder about their fame, it is another to make unworthy people appear because you know someone who is a Wackypedia editor,

Roger Bamkin, trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation UK, whose LinkedIn page describes him as a high-return-earning PR consultant, appeared to be using Wikipedia’s main page “Did You Know” feature and the resources of Wikipedia’s GLAM WikiProject to hawk Gibraltar – which is his client.

In August, Gibraltar was featured as a Wikipedia DYK front page feature an astonishing seventeen times in two to three days. It got more publicity than the Olympics.

Jimmy Wales wrote a stiff missive saying that it was wildly inappropriate for anyone in an official role to take payment from customers in exchange for securing favourable placement on the front page of Wikipedia or anywhere else.

However, at the same time, Wikipedia community members exposed a PR-strategy Wikipedia page editing business run by GLAM editor Max Klein.

Klein runs a consulting business called “untrikiwiki” which has the aim of using a Wikipedia article to guaranteed a top three Google hit.

He said that he had worked out how to bypass Wikipedia’s ‘conflict of interest’ editing and has made more than 10,000 edits over the last eight years.

Wales said that he was unaware of this case, and hadn’t had time to look into it, but if it was true then he will be “extremely unhappy about it”. “It’s disgusting,” Wales said.

Part of the problem is that there is no Wikimedia UK policy against “paid editing” for Wikipedia pages, though Jimmy Wales has said that paid editing is against Wikipedia values and policy. 

Wikipedia is accurate says, er, Wikipedia study

A Wikipedia-sponsored ‘pilot study’ has praised the online Encyclopaedia’s accuracy and claims that it is better than Encyclopaedia Britannica.

For the record, if you wrote a page on Wikipedia about yourself, you would find that one of its teams of editors had deleted it for being advertising. However when Wikipedia commissions a study into itself and reports that it is wonderful, this is apparently ok.

The Wikimedia Foundation last November enlisted the e-learning company Epic and researchers from Oxford University to conduct what would be the first organised look at Wikipedia’s accuracy.

Before that, a 2005 report by Nature, showed Wikipedia had at least four mistakes per article in comparison to three for Encyclopaedia Britannica.

The results indicate that Wikipedia articles scored higher in each of three languages, and fared well in categories of accuracy and references.

English Wikipedia fared well against Encyclopaedia Britannica in terms of accuracy, references and overall judgement.

What makes us smell a rat is that the report said that there were little differences between the two on style and overall quality score. We were not aware that the Encyclopaedia Britannica articles were penned by a person with a crayon, like some of the wikipedia articles appear to have been. Nor does the Encyclopaedia Britannica employ people with faked doctorates or fake penis experts.

Epic states in its own press release that Wikipedia articles emerge commendably.

One of its advantages is that Wikipedia articles were more up to date than other articles and were generally considered to be better referenced.

Furthermore, they appeared to be at least as strong as other sources in terms of comprehensiveness, lack of bias and even readability.

You can read the report here