Wikipedia clearly struggles with content review and creation, but it overall has been highly successful. The question seems to be, moving forward, how might maintain the ethos of Wikipedia in a changing world?
Looking at the revision history, I do not see Academic Challenger's action in the logs of the talk page. Anyone know why?
Looking at the article at the time it was nominated, there isn't much of an explicit claim to being notable under Wikipedia's policies. However, it was nominated for speedy deletion all of seven minutes after you created it—pretty quick, something I never like to see for articles that fall into a grey area.
 https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Cleanwell&diff=38... - the actual editor was https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Terrillja.
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Notability - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Credible_claim_of_si...
In spite of this, I have this distinct memory of AC being a problem, I will look through my change log (Tlow03) and see if perhaps the article was moved or renamed from my original attempt.
Also thank you for this clarification and you're right I think it probably was a grey area, but I do think the compound in question is a novel hand sanitizer that is the only of it's kind I know of.
DISCLAIMER: I have no affiliation with the company at this time, a friend once worked there, but I do not and never have had any financial interest.
Update: Yes the "boom your contribution is gone and doesn't belong here" almost the moment you write it feels very hostile.
I also wrote up a thorough discussion of various kinds of permanent life insurance contracts (I was a financial advisor at the time, and I had spent a lot of time studying them, and wanted others to have that information). I think the bulk of my contribution managed to get redacted at some point, but it lives on in the version control, forever.
There's a lot of stakeholders to Wikipedia: the subjects of articles and their followers, hawkish community members who try to control new and changed content, and consultants who charge money to change the framing of subjects on the site.
As a result, pages tend to be flattering of their subjects, unless the subjects don't have a lot of followers who speak the language that the page is written in. And new pages are likely to be deleted unless you have the cooperation of community members who will advocate for it when you start focusing on something else.
Now I mostly write up Python on Stack Overflow, where I get credit for my answers in terms of valuable internet points, which reflects my reputation in the community.
Perhaps Wikipedia could learn something from Stack Overflow. But unfortunately, it looks like they have incentivized deleting content and creating value for subjects over creating value for readers.
My experiences are similar to the GP, and often the responses aren't nearly as polite as the parent. It's just not worth the time to contribute.
Very much reminds me of the time Around 2008 when Jimmy Wales' article about an SA restaurant was deleted for similar reasons. Looks like for all its discussion the Wiki community has learned nothing.
1 - https://www.quora.com/Has-any-article-created-by-Jimmy-Wales...
My main issue with current wikis is that if you make a contribution and it's deleted, it's gone from the web. I think that if you're making heavy contributions to a page they should start on a personal wiki and then be pulled into the main wiki "pull request" style.
That way if some over-aggressive editor deletes your work it stays on the internet, just on your personal wiki instead of the main site.
The actual solution would need to be as easy to set up and use as gmail. But if you're going to do the work of setting up hosted personal servers for wiki pages, you might as well do it for all content. And that's actually the plan! I'm working on it here if you're interested: https://juniorschematics.com/
About URLs, you can take a look at StrongLink: https://github.com/btrask/stronglink
Your JSON subset is very interesting too: https://github.com/seagreen/Son
Thanks for the nice words about Son. I need to get it completed (the spec still needs some touch ups) and get prototype implementations written, once that's done I think it will be pretty useful.
Thanks for the tip about StrongLink, that's definitely up my alley. Already I'm finding it useful, for instance in the docs it mentions ni URLs (https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6920), which is something I'd never heard of before.
If you have any more comments or criticisms of my projects feel free to email me, none of them are quite to the stage I can start promoting them yet, but getting feedback is still super important.
A first wiki could be around your project. It can be made with existing tools (pandoc, github...) if the workflow is clear enough (even with manual parts).
1000 pages on Pokemon? Great!
2 pages on obscure technical subjects, of interest to tens of thousands of IT admins world-wide? Nah... get rid of it.
I stopped contributing to Wikipedia when my edits were nuked as often as they were made. When spammers and people making negative contributions had their changes last longer than people making positive changes... well... Wikipedia is no longer of interest.
Woohoo, someone just made a nontrivial edit to it!
But other than that, it seems to be mostly flying under everyone's radar. I hope it doesn't get deleted, but it might for being too niche. If it does, I guess I'll have to find a statistics wiki to move it to. Most of Wikipedia's deleted niche content ends up migrating to wikia or similar.
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random
The point is: your article can get nuked at any moment unless your article is about a topic familiar to the Wiki Admin demographic OR unless it has a defender (a powerful enough Wiki Admin who will monitor and stand up for the article).
That gives me an idea. Wiki Admins should offer a paid service! Pay me monthly and I'll actively protect article(s) of your choosing from deletion or vandalism!
That's almost worse, since the results are so haphazard. Outside of a few predictable topics (virtually all cities/towns get long-lasting stubs), Wikipedia is "comprehensive" only to the limits of "no one noticed, or someone powerful stepped up to defend it".
How does an experienced user (he has 14k edits!) make an edit like that?
EDIT: TIL article history page is not necessarily accurate on deleted articles
That said, I've just fixed the history page so that the deleted edits actually appear, even if you can't read the material in them.
I did my time as a Wikipedia editor. I've watched others do it, too. It's exhausting. You end up obsessively checking your watchlist multiple times a day, then every hour, then multiple times per hour, because you never know when someone will get you in their sights. And then you have to be prepared to obsessively watch talk pages and project pages and noticeboards 24/7 to be ready to come back in and copy/paste sources and arguments and the appropriate WP:IMEMORIZEDWIKISPEAK links over and over and over again to try to defend something. And even then you probably won't succeed.
Wikipedia is eating itself and is smugly proud of it. The effort involved in creating and preserving a piece of worthwhile content is orders of magnitude higher than the effort involved in deleting it, and people who get stuff deleted also get rewarded for doing so, while people who create and maintain get comparatively very little recognition. Eventually Wikipedia will have only two articles, someone will propose merging them, and them someone else will speedy-delete the last one for breaking various rules. And that'll be the end of it.
> Wikipedia is eating itself and is smugly proud of it.
Oh yes. The smugness cannot be underestimated, and in some ways is the worst part of the whole process.
That's why I've just restored the edits and revision-deleted the (copyrighted) text, leaving the editor and edit summaries public!
That's exactly how he made it to 14k.
1. Yes, Wikipedia has its challenges, there are flaws in the underlying assumptions of its originators, and it's not perfect. But it is better, in general, than any other resource to date, and is widely transparent to boot.
2. Conflicts over editorial content are nothing new, nor are they distinct to open collaborative projects. A few months back I turned up an instance from 1874, in which the British publishers, and American printers, of Chamber's Encyclopaedia had significant differences of opinion on a number of topics, including on the topics of free trade, (economic) protection, slavery, and biographical details of Elizabeth I and heirs. It's a rare in sight to the process.
Another set of conflicts of which I'm recently aware concern Joseph Needham, biochemist and sinologist, whose research and writing were emperiled by his naive participation in what turned out to be a Chinese- and Soviet-led propaganda campaign. Documented in Simon Winchester's The Man who Loved China.
3. I've authored or contributed to a number of Wikipedia articles myself. In some cases, particularly in noting the blatant disinformation campaigns of Koch Industries and Libertarian partisans in particular, especially on global climate change, I've been rather frustrated. I've originated a couple of articles. One, on the present NPR president Jarl Mohn, was slated for deletion on numerous grounds when I first submitted it. The result of working with other more experienced editors was a substantially improved and strengthened article which still stands. I'd created the article after being surprised to find it didn't exist at all.
Yes, camping out on and watching articles may be useful to avoid more serious disruption, particularly on contentious topics. And Wikipedia does have a problem, as does all media, on ideologically-tainted topics. No, the truth doesn't always win out.
But it does pretty well, all told.
The main problem IMHO is that it stands largely on inertia from a bygone era, the pre-2007 period where most of the existing basic content was put in place by a swarm of highly motivated volunteers with a few loose rules.
This is completely different from the current situation, where the bureaucracy has been ossified into a neverending rulebook designed to protect the precious content from vandals and good-willed naive newcomers, in the hands of a shrinking and overworked zealous user base.
The original drive that got the whole thing up is gone. The only regulars are equally split among inclusionists and deletionists, but by its very nature deletionism will prevail in the long term - it only takes succeeding once to get rid of an article forever, while people defending interesting content from removal need to keep an active watch and regularly spend effort in fighting for its survival.
Not that you're wrong, of course; only that asking for a source for such a claim is by no means unreasonable.
Thanks for the info.
- takes 2 seconds every day to check the list (on speed-dial, next to HN)
- 30 seconds to read a diff
- and 1 second to click 'undo' (or a couple minutes of research/learning for an edit)
What's nice, is that there is a dispute process that the community takes pretty seriously, and you can always ask for assistance. As another user pointed out, the article has already been restored :)
Wikipedia works through volunteers, and if you don't bother giving up a little bit of your time to improve it, you don't really have any right to complain.
I see regular articles on HN prophesying the death of wikipedia, but it doesn't seem to be going anywhere.
I've looked at large articles I contributed to a few years ago and they are now disasters. Full of bowdlerisation, inconsistent style, and false snippets of information. I think the abusive nature of many Wikipedia admins, and the hostility of Wikipedia itself to knowledge, will eventually just make it a 4chan with pretentions.
It seems like there are plenty of people in the world who manage to act productively on the information they have, but maybe it's all just a big conspiracy - nobody has ever known a single fact.
if every major source is untrustworthy, if it's all a chain of lies all the
way down, how does anyone know anything?
It worries me immensely that we're seeing this pattern in the United States.
Skepticism is not the same thing s cynicism. And skepticism is not the same thing as holding all literature to the same exacting evidentiary standards, and requiring all consumers to have the requisite skill and motivation to scrutinize those standards.
The so-called mainstream media _is_ biased. That much can't be in dispute. The issue is the character of that bias. The bias of the New York Times is not the same as the bias of Russia Today or the People's Daily. And equivocating bias is it's own form of bias, perhaps the most pernicious kind.
"Even the big names get it wrong" isn't the same thing as "trust no one [but me]"
This cynicism has infected not just conservatives but most other factions. It turns out that if you repeat a narrative often enough even your opponents as well as the "mainstream media" will pick it up and run with it.
The organic parts would be the dissolution and fragmentation of the mid-century media empires--broadcast news, regional newspapers, etc--into all the various cable and Internet outlets we have today. That fragmentation means readerships are more self-selected, creating market pressures for outlets to cater to their particular readerships' preferences and biases.
This is in some sense a regression to a 250-year mean of political culture, but that's a mean of slow and highly volatile social, economic, and scientific progress.
And there's no excuse for the slash-and-burn, nihilistic tactics adopted by conservative strategists. You simply cannot have a functioning democracy unless society retains the _myth_ of an objective, shared truth. It's one thing to nurture skepticism, it's another to nurture cynicism.
Not that there's no fault on the part of the left or other political factions. But I'm not going to equivocate factions which, say, pursue ill-considered policy objectives with a faction that undermines the fundamental prerequisites for a functioning body politic.
The Donald Trump phenomenon and the age of alternative facts is principally a result of a _particular_ concerted partisan political effort. And it's not new--it goes back to before Reagan, although really got going with Newt Gingrich's Republican Revolution, which finally solidified a unified GOP narrative on all policy matters. The only difference is that we're now much more focused on some of the starker consequences of that shift in strategy.
Sure, it didn't live up to certain capitalistic ideals, but maybe it turns out that not every domain of human life benefits from existing in a bare knuckle free market.
It seems almost every day now I hear politicians saying things that I'd edit out from the script if I were writing a dystopian movie because they were too cheesy and crude to be good characterizations.
The majority of us have been conditioned to worry, actually worry, about stuff that we have absolutely no control nor expert knowledge. The majority of our time should be spent on worrying about ourselves, our immediate circle of people, our neighborhood, city, country, planet. In that order. Turn on the TV or open your facebook and you'll that the hierarchy is completely reversed.
The majority of our time should be spent on worrying about ourselves, our
immediate circle of people, our neighborhood, city, country, planet. In that
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
But it's a tremendously cynical and harmful to believe that "everyone is for themselves." It's just not true: there are millions if not billions of people who live much more for others than themselves. The supremacy of self-interest is not some foundational truth of social reality - it's an economic theory of human behavior which corporations and power hungry individuals want us to believe in because it props up the system of predatory capitalism that enriches them at the cost of the public good.
Note that of course, like everything on Wikipedia this is probably neither complete nor necessarily accurate.
It's also a pretty short list.
One particularly embarrassing example on the list involved a real person being falsely accused of taking part in a major points shaving scandal in college despite not even being on the team at the time, with multiple major publications repeating the claim. It was only discovered after 6 years or so because a film reviewer got an email claiming he was omitted from a film about the scandal because he wasn't even on the team, and believed that person enough to start digging despite all the coverage insisting otherwise: http://awfulannouncing.com/2014/guilt-wikipedia-joe-streater...
> I've looked at large articles I contributed to a few years ago and they are now disasters.
Examples would be welcome.
In any case, they didn't make the claim about disaster articles.
Personally, I find the shift to wikia troubling. Mainly because it came down from Jimbo to purge the articles and move them to wikia, which ahem Jimbo runs and profits from.
There's 5 million English articles. Even a very high quality bot will make hundreds or thousands of mistakes if it is doing anything vaguely interesting across a broad swath of articles.
Which doesn't excuse having a crap process at the margin, but nor does a moderate volume of unfortunate experiences make the case that it is all falling apart.
The most infamous exchanges are almost all about active, human users seeing an article (possibly flagged by a bot), putting it up for Speedy Deletion, and steamrolling people who support keeping it.
The more pernicious approach, related to the one detailed here, is that articles are "pruned" for quality (removing e.g. external links sections) and then deleted for being incomplete.
My experience and reading certainly suggests that Wikipedia has a problem (as confirmed by new editor and article counts), but it largely seems to be about disparate groups aligning harmfully. Some people want to remove external links, some people want to fragment large articles into more focused sub articles, and some people want to delete everything that's excessively narrow or short on content. As a result, each faction does its thing and the end result is content moving from "good and comprehensive" to "deleted entirely" by several innocuous steps.
I don't think it's a big leap to assume that people running bots review the output less and less before acting on it.
Though such inefficiencies are unfortunate, and discouraging, I think they only slow progress. I think evenutally an article on Hemovidin will be written and not deleted, and I wouldn't be surprised if most encyclopedias don't even have such an entry.
There is some clunkiness around wikipedia, but compared to academia (which almost everybody without journal access and fluency in english is restricted from reading) it's by far superior. In fact, I can't think of another better source of reliable information that is freely and widely accessible.
It might survive but not the way intended.
The centrepiece in TFA is about a two-paragraph, four-sentence article. It's a terrible article, and should be rolled into another one. Any article that could be given in two tweets is a trivia-night factoid, not an article - I fundamentally disagree with TFA that it's "articles like this that make Wikipedia great". These kind of brief factoids are the type of content that shitty clickfarms have.
TFA even uses Britannica as a defense, saying that it has an article... but click on the link, and "Britannica does not currently have an article on this topic". Hemovanadin has, however, been rolled into another article - 'cell pigmentation'. Not exactly a sterling defense for the author.
I always see this happen with these bitter predictions of WP's death. People are either complaining about disagreement on an obviously subjective topic (like a politician's bio), or their chain-of-evidence is suspect, like in this case.
Here are the stats: https://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/TablesWikipediaEN.htm#editor_...
Look at the blue columns - number of editors per month/quarter with 5 and 100 edits - and it's been pretty consistent since 2010. Yeah, the heady days of 2007/08 are gone, but again, low-hanging fruit.
That's a popular reply to criticism of the poor status of the Wikipedia community, but it's largely false for anything that is not an US-centric vision of popular topics on Western culture.
As I've written elsewhere, the toxic culture and ossified rules would make it impossible nowadays to bootstrap the collaboration efforts needed to fix the well-known biases in coverage. The same policies that keep the current content to crumble from bots and advertisers prevent us from regaining the original drive of the original writing effort.
> It's a terrible article,
That's how all articles in Wikipedia started.
> and should be rolled into another one.
That's a non-sequitur. If it's a notable independent topic, it should exist on its own, unless there are good reasons why it should be included only as part of a larger article where it's a natural fit.
Most often that not, there is no other place where that content would make sense as a section of a larger topic, so that mindset will ultimately lead to deletion of notable and well-referenced content.
Sounds like another example of "A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy."
I'm not sure to what degree it can be mitigated, but it sure seems like something to account for when engineering social content communities.
when i use to be active on wikipedia editing mainly video game and sports articles, i stumbled upon a large sockpuppet that was constantly adding incorrect pieces of information to articles pertaining mainly to video games, espn, wrestling. this sockpuppet had a very clear M.O. and did the same actions, and even if you made changes, the person would go about and revert them.
getting all these accounts for this one sockpuppeter was a huge pain in the ass though, and finally i was exhausted dealing with it, so the next best thing for me was to reduce the surface area he could troll around. so i began looking at articles he had created, there was an article about a nintendo ds bratz game. he had created the article, filled it with random information and had left it. so i nominated it for deletion since it wasn't really a notable video game.
now this was before deletionists were a huge thing on wikipedia. i myself am not a huge deletionist but at best this game is a small mention in an article about bratz merchandising.
but almost immediately a huge flood of people came in to say that it was a notable game, with links from ign.. they weren't actual articles about the game, just literally the computer generated page they had for the game.
i think i made a couple comments arguing why it didn't deserve to have its own page but in the end i just gave up. not worth my time when i was honestly trying to improve the quality of the site.
so i guess my whole point writing this is the problem isn't with deletionists, it's the entire bureaucracy of wikipedia. i remember going through arbcom so many times because people disagreed with me about how a video game article should be written. or how alicia keys birthday is incorrect (she was born in 1980, not 1981) but because _everyone_ references wikipedia and cites it as the ultimate source, you can never get it changed because people ACTUALLY monitor and turfwar her wikipedia page.
I think people like deleting features because it's easy and seems like progress. It's a bikeshedding phenomenon.
The solution to this is to have a flexible module system so people can have their almost nothing "non-bloated" system and other people can have features. Same could work for wikipedia. You could have the core wikipedia and the alt hierarchy. It could work like usenet.
Encyclopedias exist to provide (a) access to information, (b) organisation, and (c) some guarantee of expertise. It's easy to take for granted how amazing it is to have a world of information at our fingertips, but the Internet itself provides greater access to more information than any encyclopedia ever could. (And of course Wikipedia deliberately eschews original content anyway.)
We already have tools to organise and find information on the Internet: it's called Google. Or DuckDuckGo. Or etc.
How much authority an encyclopedia has depends on how much you trust its editors to be, or be able to find, experts in the relevant subject matter. A search engine doesn't provide any guarantee of accuracy in its results, but then neither does Wikipedia — most people point out that it's up to you to follow the references and evaluate them. The things Wikipedia is good at are the things that the Internet itself is good at; and the things that the Internet on its own is bad at (e.g. vetting accuracy) is not something that can really be fixed short of turning into Britannica Online.
It's not quite that simple, of course. In theory, anyone can throw up a webpage on hemovanadin for the world to see, and it is relatively easy to do so, but it could be easier. What isn't so easy is collaborating — Wikipedia's greatest strength is also its Achilles' heel: anyone from anywhere in the world can contribute, constructively or destructively. But easier collaboration is a technical issue. There's no reason in principle that a centralised body should be required to manage all that. It's just that the availability and user-friendliness of the necessary software currently provide too much friction to ignore.
I'm not saying that every Wikipedia article adheres to them, but generally speaking, the quality is good and bias is severely frowned upon. "Random" web pages on any given topic miss out on these guidelines and are generally non-collaborative.
Full disclosure: I'm a big fan/consumer of Wikipedia... absolutely love the philosophy behind it.
Also, the "Britannica is more accurate than Wikipedia" comment is a canard, and has been proven wrong in the past. Google 'wikipedia britannica errors' and you'll find a number of study results that have one or the other slightly ahead, or rate them similarly. It's just not true that Britannica is more accurate than Wikipedia, not to any notable degree.
you rely upon,
as your sole source of information?
A few years ago I went back to find the article much bigger... but it was utter crap. The text was nowhere near unbiased, barely touched facts and seemed more like a bedtime story about flying saucers than a wikipedia article per se. There was more content indeed, but most data was obscured by something that didn't looked at all like an encyclopedia article.