Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: 202.22.18.241

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  • Compie,

    I wonder how many people actually care about wikipedia.

    sorry to go back to the start. In my quest to have everything hypermediated, life just wouldn't be the same without wikipedia.

    I'm not talking about the silly politics, there's more to life than just that crap.

    I mean imagine if the good old AA map of Breat Britian I picked up for $3 was hypermediated. How cool would it be if you taped on a point on the map and you had access to wiki, flickr pools, del.icio.us for that place. Web 2.0 is imperfect but it's a start and bloody slight more interesting than politics.

    Dunedin/Vancouver • Since Nov 2006 • 114 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I'd be fucking amazed to hear one say "I'm a Catholic but I leave that at the doors of Parliament" (That person would be a bloody liar).

    Um, no Paul. I'd like Mike Huckabee, for example, to get it into his fucking fool head that the President of the United States swears to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States not the Bible as understood by the Southern Baptist Convention. (Or fundamentally erroneous heretics, as they're affectionately called in my house. :) I'm very relaxed about living in a secular parliamentary democracy which defends and values religious freedom; rather than a theocracy, even if it happened to be one run according to Catholic canon law.

    And if you think that makes me a liar, then leathery titties.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Wikipedia!

    I was fairly neutral about it, until some twat wanted to delete the page on Kiwiburn.

    Our article is factual and fully documented, but said twat considered that little festivals in obscure foreign places (Wikipedia isn't US-centric: Yeah, right!) should be tied out of the site.

    Fortunately, we won. But the whole attitude of "it's our game and we make the rules" pisses me off. I mean, how is a Youtube video not valid primary evidence of an event? Yes, one could fake a video, but then, a group of people could systematically lie to a Herald journalist to create a false record.

    I think Wikipedia will decay as the people prepared to edit fall back to a small clique that want to dis other peoples work but don't make any edits themselves (the protagonist of our delete has not added one single fact to Wikipedia, but has numerous gold stars for his work removing other peoples content). Unfortunately. Maybe the next generation of online encyclopaedia will be a for-profit venture?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4501 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    And, in my opinion, the ratio of inaccuracy on more contentious topics would favour Brittanica by a much greater margin.

    The article in Wired reported a study in Nature. That would be one of the most highly respected scientific journals in existence.

    Do you really, really, really want to say that what Rex thinks is a higher standard of proof than what Nature accepts?

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • Rex Widerstrom,

    Yet again Deborah you either unwittingly or wilfully misrepresent the results of the study which you hold up as evidence of Wikipedia's comparable accuracy to the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

    So yet again I'll attempt to put some parameters around that claim.

    - It was an incredibly small sample of just 42 entries out of millions. That's hardly a statistically significant sample particularly when one considers that:
    - All the entries were science-related. Much less likely to be contentious, and thus to be subject to malicious misrepresentation by contributors and editors than topics such as politics, religion, morals etc. and that:
    - The comparison was by way of peer review by scientists. So ironically, the result itself is opinion (albeit educated opinion).

    So no, I'll accept the opinion of a group of scientists about 42 articles on science as having greater validity than my own opinion on those same 42 articles.

    As for the rest of Wikipedia, my opinion - yet to be refuted by any study - is that it's riddled with inaccuracy and anyone who does not attempt to fact check anything they pick up from there by using a more reputable source is at grave risk of promulgating misinformation.

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    Slate have just done a story on Wiki:

    Social-media sites like Wikipedia and Digg are celebrated as shining examples of Web democracy, places built by millions of Web users who all act as writers, editors, and voters. In reality, a small number of people are running the show. According to researchers in Palo Alto, 1 percent of Wikipedia users are responsible for about half of the site's edits. The site also deploys bots—supervised by a special caste of devoted users—that help standardize format, prevent vandalism, and root out folks who flood the site with obscenities. This is not the wisdom of the crowd. This is the wisdom of the chaperones.

    And according to these guys Wiki is edited by Paedophiles:

    Wikipedia has long been a huge target for child rape advocates. Why? Because they think it legitimizes their viewpoints to have them enshrined in the user-edited "encyclopedia." It's called the Wikipedia Campaign and they've been very successful, well, until we started putting pressure on Wikipedia to bring this topic to a boiling point and due to the pedophile campaign to smear and libel pedophile sex abuse victim Justin Berry being brought to the head of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales.

    BoyChat member and Wikipedia editor BLueRibbon puts it best when he stated on BoyChat.org...__

    I did make a few edits to BoyWiki's Activism article recently, however the reason I spend so much time at Wikipedia is that their Paedophilia article is the top result for that term on Google, making it an important platform for us.__

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Dear oh dear--that Craig fellow sure takes things personally. Be assured that I don't 'teach religion' at the University of Waikato--I leave my religion (or lack of) at the door.

    The 'ilk' was a reference to politicians and other person of power.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2345 posts Report Reply

  • A S,

    Isn't this all a bit of a storm in a tea cup? Can we really say that any of us would really rely on the wiki page for any NZ politician to be neutral and balanced? I quite enjoy looking at the talk pages associated with many entries, and the passive-aggressive antics that often go on between edit-warring contributors, but it definitely makes me question the validity of some info on there...

    Having said that, and given the fuitloops and wingnuts that populate the extremes of the innahweb in NZ, if I was in politics, I'd be quite keen for the names of my wife and kids not to plastered about the place, particularly coming into the usual election madness. Meh. Maybe I'm just weird like that.....

    Wellington • Since Nov 2007 • 262 posts Report Reply

  • Terence Wood,

    And now the story has made the news:
    http://nz.news.yahoo.com/080228/3/481d.html

    Since Nov 2006 • 148 posts Report Reply

  • Gordon Paynter,

    Russell's post is now the subject of the front-page story on the NZ Herald main homepage. Weird.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10495206

    Wellington • Since Dec 2007 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    The Herald creeps me out.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2807 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    Is this Wikis motto?

    caveat lector - "let the reader beware"

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Nick Kearney,

    Isn't this the point of this 'story': that people who might practice religion or hold morally conservative beliefs in this country are, or have been, subject to ad hominen attacks and personal villification of such nature that they are now frightened to hold such views for fear of attack on their homes and/or family?

    I think so.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 68 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    subject to ad hominen attacks and personal villification of such nature that they are now frightened to hold such views for fear of attack on their homes and/or family?

    Nice try, but as far as I know, the only person who has been subject to physical attack recently, and even then, neither on her person nor her home, is Helen Clark, whose office was attacked by People Power.

    And as for people's homes being identified, most recently it was piccies of John Minto's house doing the rounds.

    Hard to ascribe conservative views to either of those people.

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Here's the thing, Rex. No one really disputes the accuracy of what Wiki was saying about Bill English and his wife. What they do dispute was whether or not it was appropriate to put it there. Wiki's accuracy is just not too bad at all, and it compares well with leading encyclopedias.

    As for using it as an authoritative source - it's a starting point, just as any reputable encyclopedia is. I would mark a student down if they used only Wiki as a source, but not for the mere use of Wiki as a starting point for research.

    But claims about the accuracy of Wiki are not the same as claims about whether some of the material should be there at all. Which claim are you making?

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Nice try...

    Meh... I've gotten into the habit of just walking away from harrangues by evangelical atheists, and while I wouldn't be silly enough to equate that to any kind of "attack" I'm a little tired of being held personally responsible for the Crusades.

    But since folks brought it up, papal infalibility is actually a pretty limited and rarely exercised concept. This is about the best explanation I've come across online, pitched in layman's terms. Humanae Vitae most certainly was not intended as an infalible statement, as a papal encyclical does not have the status of a " dogmatic statement 'ex cathedra' from the chair of Peter".

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Dear oh dear--that Craig fellow sure takes things personally. Be assured that I don't 'teach religion' at the University of Waikato--I leave my religion (or lack of) at the door.

    Yes, I do take it personally and I'm bloody sick of the ill-informed and smug nonsense that gets talked when folks want to use religion as an offensive political weapon. As I said to Deborah, I tend to walk away from these kinds of arguments because I find evangelical atheists about as shrill and careless as their theist brethren. Nor am I particular impressed with either the religious left or the religious right taking the concept of the bully pulpit to places Teddy Roosevelt never imagined.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    From the Herald:

    Politicians and staffers "editing" such entries should have to declare their interests rather than remaining anonymous behind the strings of numbers which make up internet "addresses" for individual users, Brown said today in his Hard News "blog".

    "I think 202.22.18.241 is doing way too much, and behaving in too political a way, for someone hiding behind an IP address," he said

    What's with the quote marks around blog? It feels like Dr Evil is reading it out, and he's done the wee quote marks with the fingers... ooh, Russell has got a "blog".

    Good job on getting the Herald to quote you with an IP address as a proper noun. That's funky. Pie for Russell.

    So no, I'll accept the opinion of a group of scientists about 42 articles on science as having greater validity than my own opinion on those same 42 articles.

    I think you either don't understand, or are misrepresenting peer review. When reviewing an article for a journal, you don't just read it and go "yeah, that looked OK". Reviewers for articles often have access to the raw data and will recalculate it themselves. They're typically experts in the field, and will compare with other studies and literature. Reviewing an article often involves doing your own research. They take it very seriously, and to be a asked to review for Nature you would be at the top of your field.

    The story says, that the use of experts related to the scientific topics. So experts in the 42 articles read them and identified errors. Given that they all probably had PhDs in the field, and had spent several decades working in those fields, I'm going to guess that they're a bit more qualified to judge the accuracy of the 42 articles than you Rex.

    You've also criticised it for focusing on scientific articles. The first line in the story that Deborah linked to stated that it was only about scientific articles - that was the point of the research. But I'd bet that Encyclopedia Britannica is probably about as inaccurate as wikipedia on a whole heap of topics, because the britannica gets printed and therefore is out-of-date before it even reaches the shops.

    What's disturbing is that Encyclopedia Britannica had an average of three errors per article. Wikipedia had four. If a bunch of volunteers can write an encyclopedia that is updated on the fly, free, and almost as accurate as the one you pay people to write...

    Since Nov 2006 • 6227 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Kyle, did we just read the same post by Rex?
    In the version I read, he explicitly conceded that on these scientific topics, the peer review was a better indicator of accuracy than his own (random reader's) opinion of the articles.
    I read Rex as questioning, not the original study's methodology, but the generalisation of its conclusion regarding scientific topics as if that were equally true of all Wikipedia articles.
    His point was that Wikipedia is "almost as accurate" for exactly the type of topic that can be most easily fact-checked -- i.e., where we should expect the greatest accuracy to emerge from wiki edits.
    I think Rex is probably right that articles on other types of topic, with more room for subjectivity, will generally be less reliable. Of course, it's likely that an audit of Britannica articles would show less reliability for non-science topics there, too; but authorship (and/or editorship) in Wikipedia across politics, history, culture, or biography may be expected to have a higher wingnut-to-expert ratio than in Britannica, so the difference in reliability between science and non-science may not be proportionate in the two cases.
    On the other hand, Wikipedia is potentially able to cover a much broader range of topics than any printed encyclopedia (so has some coverage that Britannica can't match, particularly on popular culture); and, as you state, it can be more easily updated.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 931 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    ...into his fucking fool head...And if you think that makes me a liar, then leathery titties.

    Craig, I have no qualms with you argueing your case, but would you please have a little more dignity in doing so. Please do not swear, it lowers the tone of PA, I reckon. You've been swearing like a potty-mouthed teenager of late and I find it unbecoming of you and unnecessarily detracting of your arguments.
    (I can swear like a wharfie myself as well, but don't feel the need to do so here, ok?).

    Also, please refrain from personal insults; again, they are unbecoming and detracting. Play the ball, not the man, please.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 634 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    " No one really disputes the accuracy of what Wiki was saying about Bill English and his wife. What they do dispute was whether or not it was appropriate to put it there. "

    I haven't heard Bill bring this into the media to promote himself this way and his actions aside from voting (which I don't have the record of) haven't indicated any rabidness here. As such it is unreasonable to ascribe these views to him and for them to be posted on Wiki.

    He's not United Future in drag. Judge him by his actions where he seems totally reasonable.

    BTW I've always voted Labour but will be voting Green this time.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Grant:

    Fair enough, and I'd be the first to admit that sometimes my irritability overcomes the best good judgement. Personally, my tolerance for salty language and vivid idiom is much higher than watching faith -- something I value and take enormously seriously -- routinely used as an offensive political weapon. And not for the first time, I wonder if some folks who engage in rather ill-informed discourse, and blanket generalisations about Christians would be a little more scrupulous -- and a great deal more dignified -- when it comes to other faith communities. I certainly think PAS is the kind of community where lumping over a billion Muslims together as murderous ultra-fundies would be given short shift.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And, yes, I do think Mike Huckabee is a fricking fool. I've no problem with the man being an ordained Baptist minister any more than I have issues with Mitt Romney being a Mormon. Barack Obama is a regular church-goer as well, but he seems to have a firm grip on the notion that if he becomes President he will swear to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. Not The Bible. Governors Huckabee and Romney? Not so sure.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12073 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Yes Gareth, it's Wikipedia policy to encourage deleting anything unsourced and potentially contentious from articles about living people. A good Wikipedia biography (for example George W. Bush) has citations for just about everything.

    It would be more common to tag unsourced material with ["citation needed"]. There are citations available for the assertions on English's position, at least in so far as his voting record and Parliamentary speeches go. So it's not exactly libellous.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    From the Slate story:

    According to researchers in Palo Alto, 1 percent of Wikipedia users are responsible for about half of the site's edits.

    Well duh. Editing Wikipedia well isn't easy -- we don't want everyone who uses it as a reference to be editing. The idea that this somehow invalidates the process is silly.

    The site also deploys bots—supervised by a special caste of devoted users—that help standardize format, prevent vandalism, and root out folks who flood the site with obscenities. This is not the wisdom of the crowd. This is the wisdom of the chaperones.

    Double duh. Probably the biggest challenge of any kind of collaborative information project like this is dealing with the lunatic fringe and getting more signal than noise. Jimmy Wales once said something about his goal being to not have Wikipedia turn into Usenet. Human frailty does abound in the dozens of edit wars going on at any time, but in general, I think the process holds up remarkably well.

    Upthread, Rich mentioned an unfortunate encounter with zealous Wikipedia deletionists -- I can sympathise. Juha Saarinen and I had a similar experience trying to add an article about Kiwi Foo Camp last year. We also "won" (actually, "no consensus" was reached so the article stayed) but it was a shame it had to come to that. I found the pointless hostility from one person extremely off-putting.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

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