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A few people, however, have figured out how to manipulate Wikipedia’s supposedly neutral system to turn a profit.

Neutral system? A few?

Let's not kid ourselves here. Wikipedia is filled with bias. Yes, there are some informative articles and it's great that some people have spent a sizable chunk of time tending to the garden. But there's a lot of stuff missing, and the problems of new contributors being shut out or shut down is well-documented (https://www.technologyreview.com/s/520446/the-decline-of-wik...).

As for paid/planted content, it's easy to spot certain types (fawning celebrity or corporate profiles) but others are far more subtle. And sometimes when I'm reading an apparently well-researched article on a technical, historical, or scientific topic, I wonder if some contributor way down the line had an axe to grind or is outright messing with audiences by inserting bogus information.






I've suspected for a while that the pharmaceutical companies are manipulating the drug pages on wikipedia. Often I'll come across a claim about a drug and then click on the reference, only to find that the reference says something completely different from the wikipedia article. I don't have an example off-hand, but it's something to keep in mind: always check the references rather than blindly accepting what wikipedia says.

(Related, wikipedia's policy of only accepting secondary sources is similarly problematic, because often the secondary sources say something completely different from the primary source. I understand the need for the policy -- it makes it more difficult someone from writing an article just to manipulate wikipedia -- but again, it underscores the need not just to check wikipedia's reference, but also to check the primary source).


wikipedia's policy of only accepting secondary sources is similarly problematic

This is why I stopped contributing.

Article about a radio station where I was in management and selected the call letters? I added the meaning of the call letters to a Wikipedia article. Rejected because I'm not a secondary source.

Added an article about a dial-up BBS network that did store-and-forward e-mail a decade before the internet went mainstream. I ran one of they key nodes. Rejected because I'm not a computer magazine available in archive.org.

Added an article about what was probably the world's first online cartoon series (helped with distribution, since this was pre-internet). Rejected. Same reason.

I as a journalist at the scene of an event when it happened and watched it unfold before my eyes. Added some information to that event's entry in Wikipedia. Rejected.

The irony is that if there was a copy of the broadcast I did on the event, that would be perfectly OK. But the people who patrol the sources on Wikipedia are under the impression that there was no recorded history before the internet.


Wikipedia doesn’t want to host journalism. It wants to host editorial content. This is an important distinction for technical reasons of editorial process: the content on Wikipedia should always be able to be recreated from the article’s sources. If the article is the canonical place where the assertion can be found, then editors have to tip-toe around editing that piece of content much more carefully, being careful to preserve it as an artifact—which makes some of Wikipedia’s regular editorial approaches (e.g. deleting “niche” articles) untenable. The proper way to contribute primary-source knowledge to Wikipedia is to create a secondary source (like an article on a third-party website) containing quotes of your primary-source statements. Then edit Wikipedia and cite that third-party source.

If you think this won’t work: how do you think the Wikipedia articles for companies get updated to reflect news about them? Almost always, the company’s PR team writes an article, puts it on the PR news-wire, and then goes and edits the relevant Wiki article to reflect the new information, citing the PR news-wire article.

The key reason this is allowed is that anyone could have made those same edits (and probably would have—the PR team isn’t changing the outcome, just expediting it.) The edits aren’t accepted by an argument to authority of the editor, but by an argument to consensus-acceptance of the secondary source as reflective of reality.

By analogy: it’s untenable to put code (e.g. a usage example) in a Git commit message. The commit messages are on a layer above the code; they refer to the code, but they can’t refer to themselves. Nobody can edit the code in somebody else’s commit message to fix it if it’s wrong. It’s much better to have the code committed as code (or docs, tests, etc.) in the repo, because then you can fix it, change it, talk about it, whatever.

The code is the primary source; the commits are the secondary sources, citing the primary sources; and the commit messages are an editorial reflection of the secondary sources. (This is especially true in LKML-style commits where submitters squash their commits into patches, dropping their messages; and then maintainers—essentially editors—write the final commit message.)

If you want to make a new commit message in the commit log, it has to serve as a description of a new commit, which in turn has to package a change in the code. If you want to make a new paragraph in a Wikipedia post, it has to serve as a description of a citation, which has to package new primary-source information. But solving both problems is easy: your write the code/third-party article, and then commit/cite it.


the content on Wikipedia should always be able to be recreated from the article’s sources

If Wikipedia only wants content from published sources, then it's going to miss the 99% of history that's not reported on a newspaper web site.


Nobody said anything about "published" sources. Anything that is not Wikipedia (or another purely-editorial tertiary source like a rival Encyclopedia, or a survey-level textbook) qualifies as a secondary source.

Assertions about history before the Internet—before writing, even—can be cited just like anything else. The "99% of history" that we currently know about, we know about because some historian or paleontologist or anthropologist dredged up primary-source data, put it together, made sense of it, and wrote down their findings in a journal paper (i.e. a secondary source.) Wikipedia, like all encyclopedias, cites those secondary sources.

You have primary-source knowledge of your own? Write a blog post about it. Just like a historian writing a journal paper, that blog post is now a secondary source that quotes your primary-source knowledge (ETA: or maybe the blog post is even a primary source itself, depending on how fresh your knowledge was and how unbiased your reporting of it was.) Wikipedia can now cite your blog post. Wikipedia cites plenty of blog posts.

Alternatively, if you're doing journalism—going out and talking to primary sources—then the Wikimedia group of sites has a place that will host any secondary-source artifact you create from that: Wikinews. You can write a Wikinews article, and then cite it on Wikipedia. Wikipedia cites plenty of Wikinews articles.

Let me make another analogy: if you compare the Wikimedia foundation as a whole to, say, a newspaper publisher; then Wikipedia is specifically the editorials section of that newspaper. Journalism is most of a newspaper; but the one place it doesn't belong, is in the editorials section of the newspaper. Journalism belongs in the "news" part of the paper.

Wikipedia editors know that people can wear many hats, and there's nothing wrong with being both an editor and a journalist. The whole distinction they're making, is that Wikipedia doesn't want people editing articles with their primary-source hats on, or with their journalist hats on. Wikipedia wants people editing articles purely with their editor hats on. If you're a primary source, or a journalist, you do that stuff outside of Wikipedia proper. Then you turn around, take off those hats, put on your editor hat, and edit Wikipedia to refer to what primary-source-you or journalist-you just created. (Or, if you're not an editor by nature but just want your content cited, then you should just be a primary source and/or journalist—someone who writes stuff down somewhere it can be cited—and leave editing Wikipedia to people who like editing. Maybe make friends with some Wikipedia editors, and send them links to your new stuff when you produce it. If it's worth including, they'll cite it and write about it! This is literally exactly the same as having a relationship with the editors of a newspaper/magazine/regular encyclopedia. Just because you/anyone can be a Wikipedia editor, doesn't mean that you have to; and it doesn't mean that being a (Wikipedia) editor is not a specialized job that is some people's comparative advantage, while your comparative advantage might lie elsewhere—like in being a personal historian.)

I want to call out a specific example of blog posts being cited as secondary sources, to make this clear. Microsoft's Raymond Chen is a blogger (https://devblogs.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/). He writes a lot about the path-dependencies in Microsoft products that have led to them being the way they are today. Wikipedia cites these posts all the time. Even though he's writing about things he did himself. You are allowed to be a primary-source man-on-the-spot recollecting history; and the secondary-source historian "interviewing" the primary source; and even the tertiary-source editor citing the secondary-source blog-post "interview" artifact. (I don't think Chen bothers to edit Wikipedia to cite his posts, but there's no reason he couldn't.)


> You have primary-source knowledge of your own? Write a blog post about it. Just like a historian writing a journal paper, that blog post is now a secondary source that quotes your primary-source knowledge. Wikipedia can now cite your blog post. Wikipedia cites plenty of blog posts.

Per Wikipedia editorial guidelines, that is still a primary source:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:No_original_research...

An account of a traffic incident written by a witness is a primary source of information about the event; similarly, a scientific paper documenting a new experiment conducted by the author is a primary source on the outcome of that experiment. Historical documents such as diaries are primary sources.


Yeah, sure, Wikipedia has one (useful, practical) definition of "primary source" and "secondary source", and they're allowed to define those terms however they like.

Usage of the terms outside Wikipedia, in the greater scope of historiography, makes finer distinctions. One example definition (from https://www.lib.uci.edu/what-are-primary-sources):

> Primary sources are documents, images or artifacts that provide firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning an historical topic under research investigation. Primary sources are original documents created or experienced contemporaneously with the event being researched. Primary sources enable researchers to get as close as possible to what actually happened during an historical event or time period. A secondary source is a work that interprets or analyzes an historical event or period after the event has occurred and, generally speaking, with the use of primary sources. The same document, or other piece of evidence, may be a primary source in one investigation and secondary in another. The search for primary sources does not, therefore, automatically include or exclude any format of research materials or type of records, documents, or publications.

Anthropology and paleontology have very clear "primary sources", because they deal in hard artifacts. Those artifacts are primary sources. The things you write down about those artifacts are secondary sources. This distinction is important because different researchers might interpret the same artifact in different ways. But, if you know that there's a primary-source artifact preserved somewhere, you can always go back to it and study it yourself, rather than taking any particular researcher's word for it on what it is, or what it means.

History, on the other hand, deals in documents, received oral traditions, etc. In these cases, the "primary sources" serving as inputs to a historian's work are often things that would have been considered "secondary sources" or even "tertiary sources" at their time of creation. For example, a centuries-old medicinal textbook. A historian can cite this document as a "primary source" for what kinds of medicine people at the time believed in. But, of course, despite being a "primary source" in the sense of being a real document from the period, it's not a "primary source" in the sense of reliably giving you hard data about what people at the time actually did. Every word written in the document was, at the time, an interpretation that went through an editor. They might have introduced all manner of bias.

Likewise, in modern writing, if you are a sane adult human being, you are usually considered to be creating "primary source" documents if you write down/are interviewed about your experiences of things as they happen to you. But—despite being the person that did these things!—if you are recounting your experiences long after the fact, your recollection would usually be considered a "secondary source." Per the definition above:

> Primary sources are original documents created or experienced contemporaneously with the event being researched.

> A secondary source is a work that interprets or analyzes an historical event or period after the event has occurred...

That second assertion still holds, even if the same person that is doing the "interpretation or analysis" took part in the event.

Wikipedia might consider e.g. someone's written reflection on what their childhood was like—or a veteran's recounting of a battle long after the war has ended—to be a "primary source", and it's Wikipedia's perogative to use the term however it best suits them. But most of academia would disagree with them.

And, practically, if you have your own primary-source hat or journalist hat on, you should use the greater academic definitions—because Wikipedia might not always draw these particular distinctions; because you might be submitting your work to more editorial teams than just Wikipedia's; and because it's best to be pessimistic in how authoritative a given editor will judge a particular work of yours to be. If you obey all the rules required to get your work cited as a secondary source, you won't need to worry about whether it qualifies as a primary source.


Usage of the term outside Wikipedia is irrelevant to editing articles on Wikipedia. The person you responded to was talking specifically about having Wikipedia edits reverted for using primary sources.

Though on rereading the post I wonder if the issue is more of original research than primary source. The line between them is a bit blurry.


Great, and even if you are the secondary source as recommended they will just delete your content (as you noted) for niche articles.

I just dont understand why anyone would want to contribute to wikipedia given how much annoyance you have to deal with to help.


You're still coming at it with the mindset of a contributing editor. Most people who edit Wikipedia are not contributing editors; they're just plain editors. They fix spelling mistakes and re-arrange paragraphs to make the text flow better, for fun. They could be (and many are!) professional editors for publications. Editing Wikipedia is good practice for being a professional editor.

People who come to Wikipedia wanting to make some text be in the article are going to come away upset. People who come to Wikipedia wanting to make the article the best article it can be—and in the process, discover some citable sources and decide that the article would be improved by a new sentence containing a gloss of what one of those sources says—are going to enjoy their time. You don't edit Wikipedia to get new information into the encyclopedia. You edit Wikipedia to improve the quality of the encyclopedia-as-encyclopedia. (Maybe, sometimes, by improving articles into existence. Maybe, other times, by improving articles out of existence. Maybe by making the article longer; maybe by making it shorter. One of these states† is optimal for the people looking for an encyclopedia article on X. The editors want the article to be in that state.)

If you look at it as less like a content-aggregation activity (like submitting and titling Reddit posts)—and more like the activity of a group of cloistered monks excited to work together to make a the best darn illuminated manuscript they can make—I feel like the Wikipedia community and its foibles makes perfect sense.

† And yes, that means that sometimes readers will come away empty-handed for their query. Often that's for the best, especially if an existing Wikipedia article on X would just bump down a much better Google search-result for X (say, that of a niche-content encyclopedia) to #2, such that fewer people are using that excellent resource. There is a reason Wikipedia doesn't have articles for every existing Pokemon—and that reason is that Bulbapedia exists, and Wikipedia doesn't want to try to pretend it can beat Bulbapedia at being Bulbapedia. People compare (an offline copy of) Wikipedia to the emponymous Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but it's not; a true HHGTTG would look like a copy of Wikipedia stapled together with copies of all the niche encyclopedias it intentionally defers to.


>You don't edit Wikipedia to get new information into the encyclopedia.

Uh, how does new information get in the encyclopedia then?


You don't edit Wikipedia with the intent of putting new information in there. The culture of Wikipedia will notice you as a foreign presence and push you out. You edit Wikipedia with the intent of improving Wikipedia. When you do that, some of your edits will add new information to Wikipedia as a means of improving Wikipedia. But that addition will have been a tactic for satisfying your terminal goal of improving the encyclopedia, not a direct attempt at satisfying your terminal goal of having this information be in the encyclopedia. The community can tell the difference.

By analogy: a small farming village has a commons. Someone who grazes their cows on the commons, then sells the milk and meat to the townsfolk, is just participating in the economy, and the townsfolk are fine with that. Someone who herds their cows in from the next town over, grazes the cows on the commons, and then herds the cows back home—and never otherwise interacts with the community? Not okay. That's sociopathic behavior. They're not a member of the community; they're just taking advantage of it for their personal benefit.

Wikipedia's editors are smart enough to recognize what someone looks like when they're just trying to take advantage of Wikipedia for their own (PR) benefit. The edits might be the same, either way (just as both farmers above graze their cows in the commons in the same way, either way); it's the context that determines whether the edits are acceptable.


WP:V specifically cites press releases as self-published sources, which aren't verifiable.

True. However, there's a duality to the citation of press releases.

There's the skeezy usage of them—citing the marketing claims as truth. (I totally forgot about the possibility of this usage, honestly.) Yes, nobody will let you get away with that.

But there's also the more literal way to cite a press release: as a primary-source claim by the company about what the company is doing or planning to do, like the group equivalent of a diary.

Obviously unacceptable: "Apple's new iPhone is the best ever!![citation to PR fluff-piece]"

Acceptable, I think: "Apple issued[https://www.apple.com/ca/newsroom/2017/06/imac-pro-most-powe...] an interrim press release on June 5th, 2017, claiming that they were working toward the release of a new "Pro" iMac model, as a supplement to professional users who are waiting for the next generation of the "Mac Pro" product line, which they mentioned as having been delayed."

It's a use/mention distinction thing. It's not okay to report the press release's claims at face-value, but it's okay to treat the press release as a primary source of information on the corporation's intentions, beliefs, claims, and assertions. It'd be similar to, say, citing the primary-source of a letter(s?) patent, as a source of information of a head-of-state's intentions, beliefs, claims, and assertions.

Or, to put that another way: any claims a PR piece might make are unverifiable, but the mention of the claim is itself verifiable—you can verify that the claim is right there in the PR piece, and you can verify that the PR department of the relevant company really did publish it, and thereby you can verify that the company is in fact making that claim... which can be an important thing to have in an article about them all on its own.


Rejected because I'm not a computer magazine available in archive.org.

The irony here is so many of the citable articles aren't the result of some gumshoe reporter searching for "the truth" by sifting through facts and conducting independent research and interviews. They start with a press release or PR pitch. This is especially true of tech coverage.

There was a flurry of articles late last year about astronauts on the space station treating a robot poorly. Guess where that story came from? The IBM Watson communications team! Now that the story has been "reported" on CNET, The Verge, ABC News, etc., it can be now be cited in Wikipedia articles.

It's the same with arts coverage (the New York Times supplements on Sunday are particularly obvious), political interviews, business profiles, and reporting about science and medicine. Not all of this news is planted or shaped by PR teams ("you can have access to X as long as you mention Y") but a lot of it is.


Technically, press releases can't be used on WP as reliable sources; they fall afoul of WP:SPS, right?

That's right. But because the details from the press release or PR pitch is embedded in a news story -- and no reporter or editor would admit that the story was based on a press release or PR pitch -- it's seldom detected. Wikipedia editor sees "ABC News" or "NY Times" as the source, so it gets a pass.

Same here. I gave up after having a series of very innocuous simple edits rejected due to "no external source cited". These were things like "the protocol commonly used between carriers for xxxx things is ISO-yyyy". I forget the details, but it was like "ffs, that was a one-line edit that made the page significantly more useful to potential readers, and its a fact not in dispute by anybody".

I can see the argument that they want sources people can check and evaluate for themselves. You're a legitimate expert, but anyone with a bit of sense can claim to be an expert and appear just as credible to a layman. Faking a credible secondary source is not impossible, but it is difficult--a "news" site that opened three months ago and only has articles on subjects linked to Wikipedia sources is pretty obviously fake.

I wonder if there's some sort of happy medium. Maybe a thing where legit experts can submit credentials to be cleared by the moderators, the way Reddit verifies identities for AMAs. You'd still be expected to source everything you can, but eyewitness details could be sourced to your verified credentials. (Which could then be re-reviewed en masse if you start posting bullshit later on.)


An argument that easily breaks an encyclopedia or anything intending to be an authoritative source. Or even a worthy source. It's why you frequently bump into articles that go against memory of anyone living in that phase of history, at the company etc. Or entirely misses out the once famous controversy as evidenced by some 15 year old personal or blogspot site. Yet Wikipedia does it when there's no choice, because all sources are really old books and offline.

Case in point. A story cropped up on HN a month or two back about S Wolfram being obsessional about recording something. No surprises there, but I happened to wander to Wikipedia and there is not the briefest mention of his suing + screwing everyone who worked or collaborated with him making Mathematica. Apparently that didn't happen. At all.

Sure it wasn't quite SCO vs IBM, but it was well known enough in N England during the 90s that it will forever be my association if someone mentions him, and there was occasional office banter off the back of it. "Wolfram? Who's he suing now, the office cat?" That's because it was in Computer Weekly, PCW, or the hundreds of other paper sources every other issue. On Wikipedia it has been whitewashed from existence, or perhaps never made it in the first place.


> That's because it was in Computer Weekly, PCW, or the hundreds of other paper sources every other issue. On Wikipedia it has been whitewashed from existence, or perhaps never made it in the first place.

That sounds like it might be an editor failure as much as a policy failure, perhaps? Valuable information that exists only in peoples' heads is a real failure point for Wikipedia, but well-documented info that no one has bothered digging up the sources for is not.

Or if you're saying that it was removed by some PR flack, that's also a real problem, but Wikipedia does have mechanisms to deal with it. If you watch an article and can demonstrate that true, relevant, well-sourced facts are being removed, you can get the article protected. It's extra work on your part, and that sucks, but I can't think of a better way to deal with disagreement in a crowdsourced encyclopedia.


That's also exactly why I stopped contributing. But I didn't walk away thinking Wikipedia was dysfunctional, just that I wasn't a good fit for what the project was trying to do.

Wikipedia's credibility/realiable source rules in general are problematic to be honest. Not just for the secondary source thing mentioned, but because Wikipedia's standards for such are disconnected from how things work in the internet era. Their idea about a credible source seems to mostly be 'mainstream media publication with paid staff going by real names/with photos next to their names and a fancy layout'.

But many reliable sources now are not like that. The internet has made it so people don't need to go through middlemen to publish any more, and in a lot of cases (especially more niche ones), credible sites can be solo affairs by enthusiasts and professors without much in the way of obvious visual design or 'professionalism'.

If Wikipedia was a bit more up to date, they'd recognise that, and base credibility more on the reputation of the source rather than whether their author was paid to create it or if it comes to from CNN or the New York Times.

They'd also look at whether other sources recognise it as a source. If half the gaming or film world consider Bob's blog an accurate source, that probably means more than whether Bob is paid $30,000 a year by Empire to write about films.

Wiki's model would have been fine in the world of gatekeepers and centralised media, but kinda falls apart in a world where credibility is earned rather than given by random branding prestige.


A big problem is also that Wikipedia doesnt get rid of contributors pushing a bias and sabotaging wikipedia pages. Jörg Matthias Claudius Grünewald "Feliks" is just a rather prominent example in the German Wikipedia.

I suppose an argument against banning such profiles is that it's easier to spot a consistently bad actor than to try to play whack-a-mole with new profiles.

> Jörg Matthias Claudius Grünewald "Feliks" is just a rather prominent example

Could you elaborate?


I googled the name, all sources I could find are German, most seem to be from the conspiracy theory and right wing area.

He's apparently an editor who used to be anonymous, converted to judaism and is said to behave manipulatively. But as I said, can't really find reliable information.


The far right had to suffer the most, but there are also plenty of left wing politicians who had to suffer from his "manipulation". There was a great article about it at nachdenkseiten but they deleted it. No wonder since he sued anyone mentioning him.

https://web.archive.org/web/20180908111231/https://www.nachd...

edit: To give an example, he deleted any mention on human rights violations in Facility 1391 with the argument, that Israel investigated the reports and found no evidence of any wrongdoing. Thats still where the page is today, different to the english version. For other individuals, like Nirit Sommerfeld he altered their Wikipedia page to push them into antisemetic corners.


Why is this downvoted? The nachdenkseiten article has a lot of information and is certainly a better source than what I could find.

I wonder the same. There is nothing in this post to down vote BUT disagreement. Which brings me to another point;has HN acquired so much weight, thatbots are now also here to manipulate informations streams?

It certainly feels that way sometimes, or HNers are just as susceptible as everyone else to the polarisation that seems to affect everything today.

The discussion about "bias" and perceived "neutrality" is one that I see ten times a day on the internet and it truly baffles me. When it comes to hard sciences it makes a certain amount of sense but as soon as you enter any kind of social or political subject then good luck finding the "neutral" point of view. And even if you actually manage to find it somehow that won't stop people on either side of the issue to say that you're biased.

As such arguing about Wikipedia's biases is a waste of time. For instance I see people in this thread who seem to argue that qualifying GamerGate as a harassment campaign is biased, personally I think it's a fairly accurate description of the movement. Am I wrong? Maybe, but good luck settling that. Ditto with, say, anything regarding the Venezuelan situation, Donald Trump etc... Look at the discussion thread for Wikipedia articles about subjects like astrology, homeopathy, climate change or the holocaust and you'll find people with fringe opinions accusing Wikipedia of bias.

I think the most important factor is not this absurd concept of neutrality, what matters is honesty. Are the authors deliberately trying to hide or misrepresent some of the facts in order to push a narrative? Are they genuinely trying to inform or do they have ulterior motives?

Clearly paying an editor to whitewash an article is not honest so that's a big problem for me.


Because in a post-truth world the person who controls wikipedia controls reality. Those fringe opinions can and do become true. Whether they are actually true in the past is irrelevant. If you can keep it on Wikipedia long enough people will act on it as if it were true.

Just look at what happened when wikipedia updated Pi to be 3.14159265358. Within weeks it started appearing in scientific papers. I'd bet good money that spaceX is using that number to launch spacecraft. Whether that is the true value of Pi is irrelevant. The wikipedia collective has decreed that that number and so it is now our scientific truth.


I agree with you in principle. I'll add that we've been in a post-truth world since mass media, long before internet use became mainstream. We shouldn't act like this is a new problem just because people got comfortable with the way the previous information-overlords managed to do things.

Agreed.

One of the most frustrating things I see about "bias" is how often folks bring it up.... when they just want the voice's in their head to be the headline, body of an article, or whatever.

That's not really about bias... well it is, but maybe not the way they think.


This may be true.

But I use wikipedia for mathematics and then things like geography and history. For the former, it works very well. For the latter two it seems like it's not too bad.


Though many times subtle, history is often misrepresented in Wikipedia and definitely has a bias.

Sadly, there is no substitute for careful reading. History books will always be subtly representing the historians biases, even as the present a lot of detailed facts.

The Wikipedia is no different. But it still allows the interested-amateur to do a breadth-first study of a topic without drilling down into a whole book. In both cases, the reader can't assume that she has seen an unbiased (whatever that means) story. But she can glean enough facts to be less ignorant about the topic than before.


Mathematics on Wikipedia is top notch (my training was in mathematics so I can say this with a high level of certainty), but mathematics is hardly controversial. Not surprisingly, the more controversial the topic, the more biased Wikipedia gets. Try to look up any controversial political topic, current or historical, in most cases the objectivity and comprehensiveness of articles are highly questionable.

Also, you would hardly ever see edit wars on math topics, but they happen all the time on politics.


Any online resources you could recommend to someone looking to learn some higher level math? The highest I ever got in school was the beginnings of Calculus and I'd like to dig a little deeper. However, I keep running into the issue of not really understanding all of the Greek symbology.

My recommendation would be to pick a topic that you want to understand better, then I could offer to point you to that topic in a way that stems from my own work / my training set for maths.

the mathematics on wikipedia is very often correct, but very infrequently easy to read.

Basically every history article is heavily biased, just compare the different language versions.

> Basically every history article is heavily biased

This is true, and It's a problem, but it's not a particular problem of Wikipedia; it's pretty much true of history in general.


And Wikipedia makes it relatively easy to do tricks like compare the different language versions.

And not just in the vein of the target language's politics. It's subtle, yet permissive.

For example: if you look at Japanese history[0], many of the atrocities[1] that were committed in the lead up to WW2 are outright omitted, linked to with less frequency that you'd expect, or downplayed. At least, as far as I think they should be included.

I'm not claiming to have a PhD in Japanese history, but I know a small bit about it, and it seems to me (and I can only speak for myself) that there is a distinct lack of 'bad' stuff about Japanese History in the English language Wikipedia.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Japanese_history

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanjing_Massacre


During the height of the recent Spanish constitutional crisis, the amount of difference (in content and tone) between the English, Spanish, and Catalan versions of the same pages was flabbergasting.

Pretty much every political or corporate sensitive topic has heavy bias. Even biology related topics are subject to external pressure from journalists, politicians and activists. There have been huge fights over how fetus, gender, sex, etc are defined on wikipedia.

And it isn't just wikipedia, it's all of social media and pretty much all of the internet. From silly nonsense like movie reviews to serious matter like war footage, if it has political or financial impact, it is subject to heavy censorship and bias.


Not just the internet but human culture throughout history basically.

> Even biology related topics are subject to external pressure from journalists, politicians and activists.

One of these things is not like the other...


Reminds me of when Bradley Manning's wiki page turned to Chelsea Manning within seconds of the announcement. It was unreal. It was like there were an army of activists ready to pounce as soon as the announcement was made and the article was quickly locked.

I've seen other, more important, news take much longer to update (hours) on their main pages.


The way Wikipedia works you don't need an army of activists - just one enthusiast to edit it. The important news probably took longer because no one was very interested. That's how it works with volunteers.

Running s/Bradley/Chelsea and s/he/she probably takes significantly less effort than writing on the latest news.

[flagged]


I mostly stayed away from Gamergate but the little I did see of it convinced me that both sides were awful and that staying away was the only sane choice.

The fact that it's still impossible to discuss it without someone resorting to personal attacks indicates that this was the right decision.

It’s best to stay away from broadly controversial topics that attract masses of non-experts. These people have no idea what reasoned debate is all about, so there’s no point in subjecting oneself to such an assault.

Is there a way for you to quickly explain where/what the bias is, for people who have no idea what Gamergate is?

I think that the KnowYourMeme article [0] is the closest thing to "favorable to gamergate + moderately unbiased" I've read. And while I do think it leaves out some of the horrible behavior on GG's side, at least it doesn't try to paint the media as being composed entirely of angels.

0: https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/gamergate


I feel like that is accurate to a point, but really doesn't accurately portray the /r/KotakuinAction and similar groups views. There's a very strong undercurrent of sexism and strange politics that played into it all from the very start. The "ethics" questions very much took a back seat as far as their actions as group in favor of a sort of reactionary response to social justice moments, women in staring roles in a game or movie, just about anything they could grab onto. Even things like a game not receiving a "score" that they disagreed with... They were big on memes about women with colored hair, harassment campaigns on twitter (and awkward / faked claims they were harassed), and so on, entirely disconnected from any "ethics" concern.

The fact that it was rooted in claims about a woman cheating on a man is no coincidence.

I appreciate that sites effort to remain neutral but I think at some point if a group's actions and behavior don't match their claims... then just reporting their stated motivation is actually inaccurate.


The one thing I am missing from that summary is a mentioning of what happen when John Bain died of cancer several years later. Several anti-GG people celebrated the death days after it was announced, which in the context of all that was said and done around GG was to me one of the worst behavior anyone committed.

The only good thing is that companies has been less acceptable for such behavior. One developer from bioware got fired for it, and it likely contributed when an other developer at Anet got fired.


I'm gonna say something that everyone uses to dismiss extremist views... and say I'm not going to try to do that.

I think that behavior was terrible, but also not really generally the views of folks who might be associated with "anti-GG".

Having said that...

One of the catches is that there wasn't an organized "anti-GG" side in the same sense there was a "GG" core group. To some extent the "GG" folks were the ones who defined who the "anti-GG" people were, and they strongly believed that there was an "anti-GG" group that behaved in the exact same way they did, but I don't think that really added up. Sometimes they defined an "anti-gg" person as just someone who gave a poor review to a game they liked, a woman who had a visible role working for a gaming company, or just liked having a female protagonist, or something pretty disconnected.

Most people that GG folks associated with "aniti-GG", really was more of an amalgam of various people and personalities who had various views .... but weren't centralized on a "anti-GG" identity, they were usually people associated with other things that had nothing to do with "video game journalism ethics". There effectively wasn't really an equivalent ying to the yang as far as groups and opposing views went. Certainly people "against" GG, but usually they were tied to other things too.

What was "anti-GG" didn't even have anything to do with "video game journalism ethics" and to some extent GG found these folks views or what have you unacceptable and sort formed that concept. "Anti-GG" was often a case of who "GG" thought they were and at times simply sought them out. Like I said no doubt some folks associated themselves with "anti-GG" but it wasn't quite a ying and yang. Many of the people initially identified as "anti-GG" by "GG" folks often talked about being against online harassment, and really had no clue what GG was until things grew quickly.

I feel like this process of taking an issue, expanding into an identity and tacking on ideas, then seeking out those views and people deemed unacceptable, and in some way trying to pick a sort of social media fight, is a very common thing with identity politics type behavior, and GG certainly fit that pattern. What was or wasn't "anti-GG" largely was defined by that process.


The definition of anti-GG that I used was basically people who celebrated John Bane and justified it by claiming john bane supported GG.

Not that John bane did that, as can be heard in the linked source in the above article, where he even address the same thing you say in that there were not an organized anti-gg. He describe basically three loose groups, those that harass which he think should be frozen out of the conversation, those reacted to those and "fed the trolls", and the third small category of people who simply wanted to discuss game ethics.

To be fair the discussion of game ethics was drowned out, through I think the same thing he said said back then is still very relevant today. We still have game reviewers that get punished by publishers and put on "black lists" if they give a game a bad review, or worse get takedown notices. We also got PC game reviewer like ACG using the ethical dilemma as the premise why patreon supported game reviews are better than those that get "sponsored" by the industry, which he start and finish every single video with...

But to go back, yes. There wasn't an organized "anti-GG" side. If I had remembered that part of the discussion I would had avoided using the word and instead spelled out what I meant.


When people talk about anti-GG they are talking about centralised groups of game journalists like the GameJournoPros private chat where video game journalists discussed and organised how to handle GG. This was after the journalists in that chat released articles with a similar gamers are dead narrative.

Heres my evidence: http://www.deepfreeze.it/article.php?a=gjp

These are all substantiated facts that prove you wrong, I don't care that you are wrong for all I know you are a bot. But I wanted to show how to make an argument in good faith and substantiate your claims, it's up to you what you do with that.


To anyone who might view the above as an objective or credible source: it's written by people in the GamerGate movement, and substantiates many of its assertions with links to Breitbart and r/KotakuInAction, among others.

Both GG people and anti-GG people where harassed, received death threats, bomb scares and even physically attacked.

Both sides used this to try and play the bigger victim. This a bad argument as the counter is just to mirror it, playing up your own victim hood while down playing the others. No truth can be gained from this argument only a fight in bad faith.


The reason I brought it up is that the knowyourmeme.com does not cover the celebration when a cancer victim died, but it does cover the harassment, death threats and bomb threats. No physical attacks however, and I never heard of that so I would actually be interested to hear more about that part.

As a side not however, I personally treat anonymous threats a bit different from statements which is done with peoples real name next to the logo of the game studio that they work at. In part because here in Sweden we have a reality show which premise is to locate people behind anonymous threats and shame them, while also provide free lawyers to those few victims that get to be on the show in order to file civil suits. The accused troll is always either regretful or deny the accusation.

In contrast the people who celebrate the death of John Bane do not regret the statement nor deny it. They think they are justified in their behavior. To me that is significant.


> harassment campaigns on twitter (and awkward / faked claims they were harassed)

That /r/kotakuinaction organised harassment campaigns and that they faked harassment claims is a pretty harmful accusation, care to back it up with some evidence?


No I don't care to. It is a fact, they even organized it on that subreddit... it was out in the open at the time it occurred. Anyone who read that sub at that time had a chance to see them explicitly discuss and organize it.

Gamergate is really a topic that folks who want to belive are going to belive, and no amount of linking is going to change anyone's mind. You literally had folks posting their tweets from their account(s) and then if things went bad that same user would claim that same twitter account was a fake account someone else made to make them look bad.

It's just one of those things that I found not to be worth getting into a googling / link fight about, just as a personal policy.

People can make of that what they will / not belive me, but it not worth linking to it as I find folks will belive what they're going to belive anyway.


Also as personal policy, when someone asserts something, is asked for evidence, and then comes back with "it's really well known and I'm not going to provide evidence for it", I assume that means they looked for evidence and couldn't find any. Lots of things are commonly known in a subgroup despite having no primary sources.

That may not be the case here, but it's a better policy than taking things on faith in my opinion.


I understand and respect that.

If you can't or wont back up your claim then its unsubstantiated not fact.

> Gamergate is really a topic that folks who want to belive are going to belive, and no amount of linking is going to change anyone's mind.

Another opinion I don't share. I would rather give people the opportunity to prove me wrong so that I can have the benefit of changing my mind and being right.

I hope you enjoy your beliefs.


I can say the sky is blue and not link to anything that says so... it's still a fact.

I can understand someone who doesn't know not believing me, that's understandable and I respect that.


A harmful accusation? To a hate subreddit? Surely you jest.

The "ethics in game journalism" was basically a weaselword for what they really wanted - women out of gaming. It's a lot like how "economic anxiety" elected Trump - it's a way to excuse people's inexcusable attitudes towards others.

Yeah it grew very fast, and pivoted really fast to be a sort of identity thing.

What is strange is that even for a while on their main gathering forums ... they denied even the source of the moment being the post about Zoe Quinn. It was a very fluid movement from the start, hate, us vs them, and other identity moments allow for that.


> The fact that it was rooted in claims about a woman cheating on a man

A woman cheating with a game journalist in exchange for positive coverage on her game.

GG 'supporters' will also point to collusion/cooperation (perceived or real) between many game journalists pushing a progressive agenda


> A woman cheating with a game journalist in exchange for positive coverage on her game.

Which was false: he never covered that game. https://kotaku.com/in-recent-days-ive-been-asked-several-tim...


I'm confused, isn't "Gamergate" like "Watergate"? How can you be on Gamergate's "side"?

That's like... are you on Watergate's side?


> I'm confused, isn't "Gamergate" like "Watergate"?

No, not really, but...

> That's like... are you on Watergate's side?

There were people on (the) Watergate (break-in)’s side. There are still, oddly enough, people proudly on that side (Roger Stone, for instance.)

Anyhow, since the Watergate scandal, naming things “-gate” to evoke Watergate and the widespread (though not universal) revulsion is common by opposing activists, but just because the name sticks doesn't mean the association does.


This is a comment chain from someone saying that the Wikipedia Gamergate article is horribly biased...

Edit: I think I misunderstood the parent. To be on GG's 'side' in this sense would be to be a gamer who believes that games journalism should abide by some basic ethical standards and/or be a horrible mysoginist who hates the idea of female characters and catering to people besides straight white men, depending on who you ask.


GG is a pretty heavy case of an "if by whiskey" argument from all sides (I don't want to say both, because it feels like there's a lot of sides there), and it's been blown up to horrific proportions in the politics of entertainment scene.

I recall Stallman's remark that even if you're not interested in politics, politics is interested in you, but it looks more and more like there's nothing you can do to meaningfully and safely interact with the zeitgeist, so why the hell would you try to be part of any kind of politics. It feels more like a force of nature than an actual human activity. More like a tornado than a debate of any sort - just close your doors and windows, keep quiet and hope it's not your house that gets destroyed.


Yeah I'm puzzled too. I think it's along the line of sexist racist trolls attacking women for being into gaming then wikipedia being against sexist trolling?

From what I understand the bias is that the Wikipedia article describes the controversy as "targeted harassment" with a side note of ethics in video game journals, even though there is a case to be made that the gamergate hashtag was started to point out unethical practices in game journalism which the accused took as harassment to save face.

Is there a case to be made there?

"The accused took as harassment" implies that there was no harassing intent and... there's just no way that's true. People like Zoe Quinn were absolutely harassed, I don't see how anyone could argue otherwise. Even the original incident that sparked the whole controversy was bunk: that Zoe Quinn got a favorable review from a journalist because she was sleeping with him. He never even reviewed her game!

If Gamergate wanted to point out unethical practises in game journalism then holy hell was there a lot to work with. "Exclusive" reviews that are always positive, "sneak peeks" and so on that are openly and obviously traded for positive coverage. Video games journalism is so far deeply in bed with the major publishers in the industry it covers that it's absurd. But somehow, Gamergate became all about a small number of independent game developers who just happened to be women, and were (indisputably) the victims of harassment, rape threats and doxxing. Weird, that.


No. This is preposterous. I ended up on gamergate's hate list and they dumped so much filth into my reddit inbox I deleted my account and never looked back. And I'm a total nobody.

The harassment from the core GG folks was systematic and severe. In several cases it escalated to physical stalking of women where the police became involved.

And should we be surprised? This whole thing got started when one angry ex boyfriend wrote a rant and got the whole 4chan gaming world to start harassing and demonizing his ex.

But sure, go ahead and keep claiming "it's about ethics in gaming journalism" and that there's no harassment, just people being too sensitive or faking it.

Utterly. Preposterous.


Also, back when GamerGate was actually relevant, the article was very heavily controlled by someone who liked to track down the social media accounts of editors who disagreed with him, harass them off-site over it, and then accuse them of violating Wikipedia rules and threaten to get them banned if they complained about it on Wikipedia. I think he even managed to get a few of the people he'd harassed banned. Previously he'd done it over things like his personal interpretations of obscure anime plot points, and he brought those tactics to fighting against GamerGate.

To be fair, ArbCom did eventually decide they'd had enough and indefinitely ban him for this - much to the anger of all the folks proudly taking a stand against harassment by fighting GamerGate. (Though it took something like three attempts at bringing it before ArbCom.)


A common fallacy is "if there are two strongly opposing sides, the answer is probably somewhere in the middle" and the related "if there's two strongly opposing sides, there are ways in which they're both right."

But, this is a fallacy. Vaccines don't cause autism, the Earth isn't even a little flat, and GG wasn't in any way "about" ethics in games journalism — some people were led to believe it was, but they were useful idiots who were purposefully corralled to create a smokescreen. So I'd argue strongly against claims that the Wikipedia page is "biased" if it doesn't mention the ethics storyline. e.g.

notice the lack of cultural hell during "Gerstmanngate" — https://kotaku.com/yes-a-games-writer-was-fired-over-review-...

Or how the "sex for good reviews" accusation was about a game that never received a review from that publication

Or the chat logs that were found of the channers who worked the whole thing — https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/zoe-quinn-outs-4chan-behind-...

It's understandable, for parties with less information, to think this was more balanced than it was, but I hope with appropriate information we could stop giving that side credibility.

A great comic illustrating the dynamic http://chainsawsuit.com/comic/2014/10/15/the-perfect-crime/


> the Earth isn't even a little flat

Well, actually, it is a little flat. In fact it's quite flat; it has curvature (inverse radius) less than 1.6e-7 (0.00000016) per meter. In other words, it takes about 70 miles for it deviate from 'flat' by one degree.

(Golden mean is a fallacy, but that's not a very good example of it's fallacity.)


For gamergate's own view:

https://medium.com/@KingFrostFive/gamergate-august-2014-revi...

To be clear: This is not an endorsement. This is provided only because of the stark contrast with the wikipedia article depiction.


Gamergate's "own view" isn't necessarily of any more value than a flat earther's view on the Earth article.

Wikipedia's goal (met or not) is accuracy, not equal time to every opinion.


I think thats the first time I've seen the "Extended confirmed protection" lock.

> Extended confirmed protection, also known as 30/500 protection, allows edits only by editors with the extended confirmed user access level, granted automatically to registered users with at least 30 days tenure and 500 edits.


I understand why they did this. If someone disagrees and thinks it's "biased" to do this, they need to either present their alternative to keeping spam and edit wars in check, or have their 'bias' criticism summarily dismissed.

They have that on the Donald Trump page also. I guess controversial stuff.

Not necessarily controversial, but articles that see an endless stream of disruptive editing.

It was originally implemented to limit disruption on articles related to the Isreal/Palestine conflict.


I only have read the abstract so far, but it seems to me to be written pretty objectively. Could you maybe point out some parts that you feel are examples of bias?

It's actually limited to the anti-gamergate narrative. It sounds legit, because it's written in an authoritative tone, with large walls of text full of links to anti-gamergate sources.

It's worth seeing how gamergate describes itself. The "what is gamergate" column on the sidebar of a subreddit where they hang out[0] might help there. Do note that I do provide the hyperlink, but I do not endorse either front.

[0]: https://old.reddit.com/r/KotakuInAction/


It's worth seeing how GamerGate describes itself... then looking at the top posts of the last month on KotakuInAction. They are not similar.

https://old.reddit.com/r/KotakuInAction/top/?sort=top&t=mont...

Those posts are almost exclusively about media bias, manipulation and censorship. Isn't that what GamerGate claims to be about?


A large number of them are about Captain Marvel. What do you suppose it is about that particular movie that would lead to such outrage?

In the top ten, precisely one item (number ten) is about video games.


You can read the posts themselves to see what they are complaining about. Movie studios drummed up fake outrage about people being angry about a woman superhero when such controversy never existed. Then they took all the negative reviews of Captian Marvel and blamed them on misogyny. They also got Rotton Tomatoes and other platforms to lock user reviews. This is all classic GamerGate stuff I think.

GamerGate is about more than video games, it's about media manipulation and bias and it's about journalists acting like activists.


Where's the evidence that the movie studios "drummed up fake outrage"?

Also if I recall correctly Rotten Tomatoes removed the ability to submit a review for a movie that hasn't been released yet, which to my mind seems like an entirely sensible restriction, particularly in the face of the obvious spamming that was going on. It seems to me like RT made a product decision relating to what best serves their users. What's the argument against it?


> They also got Rotton Tomatoes and other platforms to lock user reviews.

This is silly. They locked out reviews being placed before the movie was released in theaters, because the rating was being deliberately bombed towards the single digits by people who can't possibly have seen the movie.


This is true but the reason people were upset and leaving negative reviews is because the studios and media had already created a fake outrage and stoked political tensions for marketing reasons. That is what people were upset about, not that the movie had a female lead.

> “You could not pay me to see this SJW laden white male hating worthless POS movie,” commented one user. “I am sick of this identity politics taking over pop culture. Brie Larson could get hit by a bus and I would not shed a tear.”

https://www.inverse.com/article/53523-captain-marvel-rotten-...

Does that review sound like someone who is upset with a movie studio because they created fake outrage, or someone who is upset about a movie's female lead?

Plenty more examples: https://twitter.com/camethedawnxp/status/1097593187621842945


It sounds like someone upset with the politics pushed by the movie since that’s literally what they are complaining about.

How could the reviewers know the "politics pushed by the movie" prior to having seen it? What are the politics pushed by the Captain Marvel movie? Can you point to specific scenes/themes that are "white male hating"?

How could they know the politics pushed by a movie they haven't seen?

By the Wikipedia definition their Gamergate article probably is fairly objective, which makes it a bad example. They base their coverage on what news media report, and the news reporting on it was not exactly accurate or honest (which seems to be what you get for going against journalists).

For instance, gaming and tech publications spent a lot of words trying to associate Gamergate with the use of swatting to drive women out of gaming. This caused much confusion as to what they were even talking about, because pretty much all the swatting attacks against gamers had been targetted at guys as far as anyone knew. A few years later, some guy with (as far as I know) no ties to Gamergate that anyone's been able to find was arrested for a series of rather misogynistic swatting attacks against women gamers that the press had known about but intentionally hadn't covered. They'd literally been trying to blame Gamergate for a swatting campaign that none of the people they were blaming could even have known existed because the only coverage was the vague and cryptic attempts to blame a completely unrelated group of people who'd criticised journalists for it.


What is showing bias in this? I don't know much of that controversy so I don't know what I should be looking for.

What's wrong with that one? I don't want to read it and I don't follow silly Twitter drama.

Same here. I refuse to donate any money to Wikipedia until they at least fix that one...

Could you give a suggestion on how to improve that Article?

It should be neutral, and/or jnclude the pro-GG view, not just the anti-GG view. A few concrete points: (1) there was extreme harassment from both sides; (2) targeted harassment against some women doesn’t mean “mysoginy” (just like targeted harassment against Hitler doesn’t mean “misandry”); (3) the overarching theme isn’t “right-wing reaction against progressivism”, but a reaction against feminist politically-correct politics that started to affect the gaming world (that was previously happily genderless, offensive and agenda-free).

Expanding that beyond GG for a moment...

Does every Wikipedia article have to include both pro- and anti- views? Do they need to be given equal weight?


That’s what I would expect from a generic (as opposed to clearly biased in the title, like “Christian view on creation of man” or something) encyclopaedic article on a topic, yes.

So the Earth article should give equal time to flat-Earthers, the Apollo moon landings should devote 50% to the "it was faked" idea, and Queen Elizabeth II's page should talk about her being a lizard person?

I think I'd prefer a useful encyclopedia.


No, but the “Moon landing controversy” article should.

The "Moon landing conspiracy theories" page on Wikipedia appears to consist of a thorough debunking. The only 50/50 it does is presenting the claims before knocking them down at length.

(As, I suggest, is appropriate.)




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