August 25, 2009

Why You've Been Invited To Vandalize My Wiki Page


Officials at the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit in San Francisco that governs Wikipedia, say that within weeks, the English-language Wikipedia will begin imposing a layer of editorial review on articles about living people.

The new feature, called “flagged revisions,” will require that an experienced volunteer editor for Wikipedia sign off on any change made by the public before it can go live. Until the change is approved — or in Wikispeak, flagged — it will sit invisibly on Wikipedia’s servers, and visitors will be directed to the earlier version.


Foundation officials intend to put the system into effect first with articles about living people because those pieces are ripe for vandalism and because malicious information within them can be devastating to those individuals.

My own Wiki page was instigated by an internet "stalker", in fact, the same individual who once authored a blogspot site using my stolen identity.

Requests to Wikipedia to delete the page went unheeded, and it's remained a reliable source of misinformation, false attribution of quotes, and drive-by smears ever since. Even the current, cleaned-up version contains this curious passage;

Lampooning Celine Dion for what McMillan calls "post-Katrina egocentrism" on Larry King Live.

Here's the entry they reference for that "quote".

It wasn't until I threatened a Wiki editor personally with legal action for restoring defamatory material to the page, that they began to take tighter control of the content. It seems they mistook me for someone who had agreed to jump my requests through Wikipedia's hoops.

As I explained to Mr. "I'm just a volunteer following policy" Alexander;

I really am unconcerned about whether you agree. You see, I did not sign up for Wikipedia. I did not volunteer. I did not give my permission to have my birthplace and other personal information published. I did not give permission to have content such as "in addition she has been known to polish the knobs of some very influential 'conservative minds'" appear on a site purporting to be a "biography".

But Wikipedia is a big organization. I'm a little person.

And you're a little person. I'll take on you.


Posted by Kate at August 25, 2009 10:05 AM

Is anyone still using Wikipedia for anything other than obsolete computer games from the 80s?

The 'experienced volunteers' are actually a bunch of corrupt censors with unknown affiliation, hawking over their pet articles and rejecting addition of any information that does not suit their agenda.

I just shrugged and moved on. There is nothing on Wiki that is not available elsewhere.

Posted by: Aaron at August 25, 2009 10:10 AM

True enough, for anyone who's watched the train wreck a Wiki entry can become.

But as noted in the "related" link, dead tree journos have a habit of using it as a source. As with everything else net related, they're 5 years behind in the lurnin' curve.

Posted by: Kate at August 25, 2009 10:16 AM

There are many things Wikipedia is very good for.
There are many things it is not at all good for.
Caveat emptor, secus emptor culpa.

Posted by: Vitruvius at August 25, 2009 10:25 AM

The Wikipedia page was last updated today at 14:13. No time zone was given.

Posted by: oneblankspace at August 25, 2009 10:38 AM

On the other hand, I have had a lot of fun adding truth and correcting crap to some wikipedia entries since I registered as an Editor.

Lotsa fun actually.

Posted by: Fred at August 25, 2009 10:44 AM

Wikipedia Man - The superhero that knows everything with 80% accuracy.

Posted by: Sheldon Kotyk at August 25, 2009 10:46 AM

in a similar vein... i have a stalker who is spoofing my identity on blogger...
he has set up a profile that even uses the associated picture from my own

this person runs around leaving offensive comments on various blogs and
websites hoping to discredit me.

i have emailed the powers-that-be at blogger numerous times... but have
yet to receive a response.

just another example of the tactics of the compassionate, intellectual


Posted by: neo at August 25, 2009 11:03 AM

I never wiki seriously. I know it's a pack of lefties so it has little cred with me. Some stuff is probably okay if it is not of a political nature, but everything else is suspect.

It's a shame ... all that work and no one can trust it.

Posted by: Momar at August 25, 2009 11:18 AM

Aaron, right on.

Many many entries in Wikipedia are policed by zealots, who I swear sit by their computers 24 hours a day waiting for someone to make an edit to an article so that they can undo the edit. Doesn't matter how sensible the edit is, doesn't matter if it is referenced, too bad. If it corrects the slant and bias they want the article to have, they undo it.

And they don't just undo the edit, they threaten the person that made the edit.

I have found that articles in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, now oddly considered old-fashioned, are in many cases substantially better than what is found on Wikipedia.

So much for the new way being better than the old way.

Wikipedia is a good social experiment in how the left operates: truth be damned.

Vitruvius, I respectfully disagree. Wikipedia has been billed by its founder as the best thing to ever hit the Internet. Not only that, it appears at the top of many Google searches. But the Wikipedia people are falsely advertising their product as a high-quality encyclopaedia, which it is not.

We should be moving toward reliable standards of truth in the Internet. Wikipedia is ultimately a bad thing because many people now just assume it is such a standard.

Posted by: TJ at August 25, 2009 11:26 AM

There should be reform for entries about dead people as well. Why should they not be protected as well?
I agree that people should be able to control the content of their own wikipedia entries, or at least have the content removed. This is completely ridiculous that there is no quality control.

Posted by: sf at August 25, 2009 11:32 AM

I use wikipedia frequently as a quick reference. Just like most other things, it's great to have as an option. Like its "wiki" name implies, it can serve as a great quick reference.

I never really thought there were malicious people out there, until I came across an entry for John Glenn, where it said as a youth he wanted to be a pole dancer. Honestly, stuff like that is Borat-non-funny.

I've read lots of interesting stuff re politics behind their climate change wiki pages.

Posted by: Erik Larsen at August 25, 2009 11:34 AM

Maybe some of you folks are not aware of this, but Wikipedia does cover topics other than politics. From cheese to pipe organs to The Universal Gas Law, I have found many quite good articles there. If you go to an "encyclopaedia" for current events, you get what you deserve. If you go to it to look up generally acknowledged non-controversial information, it works just fine. The political left and right don't have different values for Avogadro's number, you know.

Posted by: Vitruvius at August 25, 2009 11:40 AM

I think Wikipedia is great. On technical matters it is often excellent, with clear descriptions of esoteric subjects that can not be found elsewhere. Where else can you find a short but lucid description of the Harley Transform or Singular Spectrum Analysis? This is great stuff, and serves an excellent purpose.

Where Wikipedia falls apart is with controversial subjects (e.g., controversial people). Editing wars between opposing factions often develop. But even here, Wikipedia works better than it should.

Posted by: rabbit at August 25, 2009 11:40 AM

"Maybe some of you folks are not aware of this, but Wikipedia does cover topics other than politics."

Exactly, Vit, I was referring to those. For example, medicine... For politics I go to the raw source, otherwise information is distorted.

Posted by: Aaron at August 25, 2009 11:48 AM


Once you become a somewhat public person you cross an imaginary line. Defamatory material is part of it, like it or not. Your whining is only going to garner you more defamation. I have a feeling that's what this post is about...more fame.

Posted by: not stirred enough said at at August 25, 2009 11:52 AM

Wow, if you can lampoon somebody by quoting them exactly, that word must mean something different than I thought it did.

It's like Obama, how can you lampoon a guy who is lampooning himself all the time, like when he said

"We are partners with God in life and death" - Barrak Obama using the royal we.

"Old people got no reason to live." - Barrack Obama

I could go on and on, he lampoons himself.

Posted by: tim in vermont at August 25, 2009 12:01 PM

I'll make you a deal. Give me your real name, and I'll make you famous too.

Posted by: Kate at August 25, 2009 12:01 PM

"with clear descriptions of esoteric subjects that can not be found elsewhere"

I don't know. They seem to have an article on just about everything, but in areas where I have some in depth knowledge, I find their articles inaccurate oftentimes, and politically charged where politics is a side subject at best.

Sometimes.... sometimes they have good links to sources at the end of technical articles. If you are getting your introduction to a subject from Wackypedia, I suggest that you take it with major grains of salt. When you leave out difficult but needed details, to the uninitiated, it can seem concise.

Posted by: tim in vermont at August 25, 2009 12:06 PM

Some of the articles on Wikipedia are reasonably good in the science subjects, but in many cases they are not nearly as good as the information in any number of textbooks on my shelf. I have found that to be the case time and time again. The entry on Brownian noise for example is horribly written, and would be of little use to anyone trying to understand the subject.

But the point really is that Wikipedia bills itself as a book of truth across a *wide* spectrum of subjects. And it is not that at all. So in essence it is left to the reader to determine what is correct and unbiased, and what is not.

That might be an acceptable standard when talking about the tabloids in the check out line at the supermarket, but it's not acceptable for something that bills itself as an encyclopaedia.

While there are some articles of reasonable quality, they serve mainly as wrapping paper to cover a rather bad source of general knowledge. Wikipedia is not being at all truthful in how they market the product.

I think Wikipedia is a case study in society's declining interest in high-quality knowledge.

Posted by: TJ at August 25, 2009 12:14 PM

Maybe Wiki could write on this Obama mess...Only Gov could do this folks.

Federal economic stimulus cash was handed out to cons behind bars in Bay State prisons after a bureaucratic snafu resulted in $250 checks being sent to some inmates - and now red-faced feds want it back.

“Taxpayers already believe the inmates are running the asylum in Washington,” U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said in a statement. “Now it appears they are being compensated for their efforts.”

Not only did the feds send the cash to incarcerated cons, but they failed to respond to state officials who sounded the alarm about the inmate windfall - now the subject of a national probe.

Posted by: Dustoff at August 25, 2009 12:34 PM

not stirred enough; defamation encompasses slander and libel. No reasonable person would excuse it, and no court in the land would view a legitimate complaint as *whining*. That you do shows you truely are not stirred enough.

Posted by: bob c at August 25, 2009 12:34 PM

Mine finally seems to be back to "normal" after a spate of attempted hijackings this spring.

It's interesting to read the "history" section where the Wiki editor keeps telling the "hijacker" again and again, basically, "you can't post that, dude!"

Posted by: Kathy Shaidle at August 25, 2009 12:47 PM

I fail to see the reasons behind the snarky attitude -- Wikipedia is not some sort of left-wing conspiracy nor is it foisted off upon us by government bureaucrats.

On the other hand, it does provide the entire world with a very good and free source of information on any topic you may wish to investigate, all hyper-linked and (in most cases) thoroughly referenced. Sure, there are rough spots but overall Wikipedia is amazing boon.

Posted by: Craig at August 25, 2009 12:50 PM

[quote] Not only that, it appears at the top of many Google searches.[/quote]TJ

Of course the fact that one of Google's prime investors was AL GORE may be coincidental!

What is that saying that starts with "If you control the message" ?

Posted by: Phillip G.Shaw at August 25, 2009 1:48 PM

Kick ass Kate. Wikipedia is worth exactly what it costs to use it.

I do not believe a person gives up any of their civil rights once they become public personas. The stalking laws should be applied to paparazzi and libel/slander laws should be applied to anyone who defames anyone else.

Parody, when labeled as such, is protected free speech and completely acceptable.

Posted by: Kyla at August 25, 2009 1:56 PM

Craig, I think the concept that information will be "very good and free" as you suggest is the case with Wikipedia, may last for some while but will eventually run its course.

Most people I know who have tried to contribute to Wikipedia have given up in frustration, and in many cases they were experts in particular fields. It's a very strange situation to have your edits undone by an entirely anonymous, and usually rather obnoxious, person.

So the only people left supporting Wikipedia will be hard core enthusiasts who will eventually get bored and go and do something else.

There is a close parallel here to open source projects in software, which eventually either morph into a real business, or die from lack of maintenance and lack of clear vision. The only other route for Wikipedia would be to survive on large donations.

But what scares me is that Wikipedia is promoted as a definitive source of knowledge, and more people are beginning to simply accept that. I think Western culture is taking a big step backward when so-called "definitive" knowledge can be published by people who remain anonymous - we don't even know what their credentials are. That's taking us backward 1000+ years.

Posted by: TJ at August 25, 2009 2:05 PM

I completley understand Kate's perspective here. It is bad enought that Wikipedia puts together a bio without permission or verification from the person but to have it submitted by a person with questionable motives without some sort of editorial oversight is is irresponsible and potentially expensive should Kate engage a lawyer. For someone like "not stirred enough" to criticize anonomously Kate's correct response is most offensive. Post something like that with your name in bold otherwise STFU!

Posted by: Brian Mallard at August 25, 2009 2:25 PM

TJ, I certainly see your point concerning Wikipedia. Yes, it can be difficult to break into editing and, indeed, many articles are "owned" by some rather obnoxious folks and goodness knows that the encyclopedia leans rather heavily toward pop culture.

All this is known and understood by The Powers That Be and there are ongoing attempts within Wikipedia to address this matter.

And, yes, like many open-source initiatives, it may wither and die. We shall see.

Nonetheless, I'm still surprised by the mean-spiritedness displayed here. Wikipedia is something that we should be rooting on, rather than making snarky comments from the sidelines. In particular, the folks reading this website are rightly suspicious of top-down directives and programs, and make the case that government philanthropy is not needed and often makes things worse.

Wikipedia of course is something bottoms-up, grass-roots, self-organizing, and done with no government support. And still so many right-minded readers are out there sniping away. Sad.

Posted by: Craig at August 25, 2009 2:42 PM

I believe with the recent court ruling ordering google to release the name of the blogger, wiki is going to be kate's next "not waiting for the asteroid". It either cleans itself up or it is bound to get crushed under the onslaught of defamation lawsuits.
"The US Communications Deceny Act section 230 grants providers of internet services (such as the Wikipedia and Wikinews) immunity from most legal action related to user generated content." Please take note "most".

Posted by: anon at August 25, 2009 2:45 PM

I don't understand all the fuss about Wikipedia. I'm an electrical engineer, although I've worked mostly in marketing the last 25 years. When my high school daughter needs help with science, I find I have to brush up on some basics, and I've never found Wikipedia to be incorrect. I've found their accounts of particular campaigns in WWI and WWII quite accurate when compared to other sources. And I don't agree that all the contributors are "left wingers". I complained about the Hillary Clinton entry that repeated the story that she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, and only told the "sweet story her mother told her" in an obscure linked footnote. After I complained, the reference in the main text was excised, and the footnote was expanded to tell the entire story. Even now, when I review her entry, it seems to me to fairly balanced. She has, after all, accomplished a lot, which the entry details, but it also points out the controversies which surrounded her, and attributes her primary loss to Obama to several mistakes on her part. She is one of the most controversial women of her time, and I think Wikipedia paints a complete picture, warts and all. Some articles on some subjects have the heading "The neutrality of this article is in dispute", in which case I take many of the things I read with a grain of salt. I think Wikipedia is an excellent resource with which to get started, although I note that both my daughters are told that essays, etc. which only cite Wikipedia as a source will get a grade of "0".

Posted by: KevinB at August 25, 2009 3:02 PM

Craig, I suspect some people are sniping away because of bad experiences that they have had with Wikipedia, and because it seems that the powers that be in the organization are doing little to fix the problem.

The notion that Wikipedia is a database of knowledge that all can contribute to, if they have a valid contribution to make, is more or less a lie at this point. It's simply not true. If Wikipedia was honest they would start by changing that marketing line.

I used to be a big fan of Wikipedia, but far less so now. I have been beaten up too many times by anonymous editors who are full of their own importance.

I maintain that the long term prospects for Wikipedia are bleak if contributors and editors can remain anonymous. If it survives in its current form then it's a sign that Western culture has taken a turn in the wrong direction in allowing anonymous individuals to contribute to "definitive" sources of knowledge.

Don't get me wrong, I think the basic concept of Wikipedia is a noble one, and I often find myself wandering around Wikipedia pages reading articles.

But will Wikipedia be around in 20 years? I doubt it, unless the organization running it is able to raise lots of money to keep it artificially propped up.

Posted by: TJ at August 25, 2009 3:12 PM

"...I note that both my daughters are told that essays, etc. which only cite Wikipedia as a source will get a grade of "0"."

As it should be! I tell my university students the same thing.

Look let's take an example just to highlight the point. The article on Trudeau is awful. Consider the following sentence with regards to the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords, "His opposition was a critical factor leading to the defeat of the two proposals."

Those of us who were around then (showing my age), and who followed politics closely know that the above sentence is utter horse shit and a gross simplification.

Yet hundreds if not thousands of Canadian youngsters learning about Trudeau in school, who were no even born until after his death, will read that sentence and believe it to be true.

Who wrote that simplistic sentence? Are they an expert on Trudeau? Where they even alive then? We will never know!

The other thing you will notice with the Trudeau article is that every negative about him is quickly followed by wording that attempts to undo the negative. It gets tiresome. The entry is riddled with such bias, where people have tried to insert facts, only to have zealots try and water down the facts that they couldn't remove despite their best efforts.

Posted by: TJ at August 25, 2009 3:35 PM

now when fact show up against conservative all must change their titels and contents
and if was revernce must change human right title
come on give me a break stop conspiracy all thing will earse from history gradually

I thought all conservative look for change Human right commison and have freedom to say all slander aginast Muslim
since when we must change the fact from

now we msut thanks wilkepedia taht

I know understand Nixon are not beleive god
and taht reason Dick Cheny's daughter end up going to be lesbian taht is good news to knw
who is behind mass murder of Muslim are in WEST
and what their relgion come from?

Defintely article regard date and time of crime of reblican in USA must be earased from hisotry
and nobody know the when they did those crime against humunity
but we let google and search engine
say X muslim women are convicted of crime while it was not proof this was found crime but those big ass national post are obeying conservative news group and hate Muslim for sure to say the truth and nothing except truth

even their court of justice look for made innocent guilty and give money to hand of ruber conservative in Canada who are top of billion dollare company in Canda blame it to court of justice and bad lawyers who are lazy to read the fact and if factis too much earse it all
by stop all breach of illega act and intetional criminal act against human right it does not matter liberal or conservative both their hand are touch those innocnet blood and innocent people lead those sick ass who torture peopel for money and power and ya with corrupted Cathloc church who can not understand human need are common all human
take lable of black from Africa and WHite from England as trad mark black adn white are every where and be free withlimit of not bother some body else

Posted by: new at August 25, 2009 3:47 PM

It seems arbitrary that a "this is who Kate McMillan is" page would take a single, dry quip, trivial/incidental in the larger context of Kate's blogging run, and place it as perhaps *the* prominent biographical detail attached to Kate's name, but it's not arbitrary, it's a transparently motivated frame-up by whoever the behind-the-scenes author is. It's akin to having a WK page that would barely get going before having a titled section on "Cat Meat Controversy" followed by one on the "Misogynistic Comments Controversy" followed by a"Gomery Weighs In."

In the case of a permanent, supposedly non-partisan, and commonly-referred-to biographical reference on the matter of *who someone is*, whoever is providing the "information" should have to do so under their own, known identity, with contact information provided. It's hard to see how the usual suspects could justify crying "foul" over that.

Posted by: EBD at August 25, 2009 3:56 PM

I trust Wiki for all things the left can't spell or never heard of. So I agree with Vit.

Posted by: speedy at August 25, 2009 3:57 PM

Yes, TJ, but examples are a two-way street. Yesterday a friend and I were discussing the question of the actual length of what is commonly known as a 32-foot organ pipe. From [3] I found out that a 32-footer is four octaves below middle C. From [1] I found out that middle C is 261.626 Hz. Then from [2] I refreshed my memory on the formula f = v ÷ ( 2 × L ) and v = 331.3 m/s (at 0 °C), which gives me an actual pipe length of 33.12 feet with a fundamental frequency of 16.352 Hz. So we agree, I think, that Wikipedia has its advantages and its disadvantages. Perhaps it's not actually necessary to belabor the point.


Posted by: Vitruvius at August 25, 2009 4:00 PM

Vitruvius, your example is a little weak. If the only thing Wikipedia is good at is constants and basic formulae, then you are much better off buying a few good reference texts for your shelf.

Your example proves little about the long term viability of Wikipedia. Nor does it address the bizarre concept that anonymous people whose credentials we cannot even see are providing the knowledge that others *trust* to be right.

I'm willing to bet that many of the so-called expert editors do not even have degrees in fields that are remotely connected to the articles they police with such zeal.

What you seem to be getting at is that Wikipedia is mostly a tool for light intellectual fun, and on that point I would generally agree. In much the same way as skimming through magazines in the airport book store is fun while waiting to catch a plane.

Posted by: TJ at August 25, 2009 4:52 PM

Yes, but I was talking about Wikipedia, not about TJ's obsession with Wikipedia. You might want to reconsider how you come across when you say that what other people are interested in is light intellectual fun while what you are interested in is something more than that. Doctors have a name for that kind of hubris.

Posted by: Vitruvius at August 25, 2009 5:01 PM

Vitruvius you twist things around when you don't like the argument. There was no insult meant by the comment related to light intellectual fun. In fact many people have commented here and elsewhere that Wikipedia articles should not be taken too seriously.

I have said too much on this topic, which is a fair point. I suppose it's something I care about.

But your comment "Doctors have a name for that kind of hubris." is just plain nasty. It's not the first time you've done that sort of thing.

Posted by: TJ at August 25, 2009 5:19 PM

gee Kate, did you know you are non-partisan? LOL !!!

I've been saying stuff like your wiki page for years. howcum I don't get my own ??? LOL !!!

ANYTHING with a political lilt on wonkypedia must be suspect.

Posted by: curious_george at August 25, 2009 5:25 PM

Fair enough, TJ, but, still, look at what you are doing. I do have a wall full of reference books, right here behind the chair I am sitting in. I find them to be difficult to access with a search engine and difficult to hypertext link to for others' reference. I think, TJ, that folks here pretty much agree with you on the matter of the warnings you justly raise, yet you go on and on saying "no, you're not agreeing with me in the correct way", and then bizarrely go on to connect it to the decline and fall of western civilization, when really it is just humanity experimenting with a new technology. If some people are too stupid to understand how to use Wikipedia correctly, that's not really Wikipedia's fault. Encyclopedia Brittanica has the same problem. It's a poor craftsman who blames his tools.

Posted by: Vitruvius at August 25, 2009 5:38 PM

Kate's response to the wiki-drone illustrates why she has so many loyal and admiring readers.

Posted by: Roseberry at August 25, 2009 5:39 PM

Wikipedia is an example of what's wrong with much of the web. From Seth Godin and Problogger and the guy who wrote The Four Hour Week, all these gurus praise "community" and "twibes" and "the wisdom of crowds."

When it comes to factual information, there is no such thing. There are right answers and wrong answers. Period.

Yes, the OED was a "group" effort. One of the contributors was in an insane asylum. BUT that was Victorian England; the average middle class six year old possessed more common knowledge (and courtesy) than today's 20 something video game addict cum Wiki contributor.

Most people just aren't that bright. Yep, I'm an elitist. Unless we start doing things like administering IQ tests and making it illegal for non taxpayers/property owners to vote, I'm not a big fan of "democracy" either :-)

Posted by: Kathy Shaidle at August 25, 2009 5:46 PM

"Ever wonder how Al Gore, the United Nations, and company continue to get away with their claim of a “scientific consensus” confirming their doomsday view of global warming? Look no farther than Wikipedia for a stunning example of how the global-warming propaganda machine works."

Quote form Lawrence Solomon.

Wikibias on this subject is notorious.

Posted by: jlc at August 25, 2009 5:54 PM

whateverpedia confirms in my mind that the human race is in fact, headed for a new dark age in our lifetime.

a time when rumour, supposition, conjecture, bias, gossip and outright lies hold total sway. when philosophers rake 100s of millions tittering about 'truth is subjective' and all its permutations.

I agree with Ms Shaidle; democracy is really overrated but what else ya gonna do. it must be reinforced by knowledge and critical thinking. oops. there I go again holding out hope in a hopeless situation.

Posted by: curious_george at August 25, 2009 6:05 PM

That would be "from" LS.

I'm basically with Kathy. When fewer than 40% of voters pay taxes, how can you expect "democratic" decisions to favour the common wealth?

Posted by: jlc at August 25, 2009 6:13 PM

That's off topic, JLC.

Posted by: Vitruvius at August 25, 2009 6:14 PM

Kathy, jeeze. People are stupid, they must be controlled? That's the Liberal's argument. The truth of the matter is that the number of people too stupid to manage is very small, and you know it.

People just aren't particularly -cooperative- with damn fool utopian schemes like Wikipedia. Presented with a free opportunity to crap on somebody they don't like, shock/surprise, they TAKE IT. DUH!

Posted by: The Phantom at August 25, 2009 6:15 PM

Vit, this will be my last comment on this, not to run away, but because I am sure other readers are getting bored.

You say "If some people are too stupid to understand how to use Wikipedia correctly,...". I would strongly disagree. There should not be a correct or incorrect way to use a tool that provides information. It either provides good information or it does not.

When I use a textbook (including in electronic form) I expect that the publisher and author have gone to great lengths to ensure that it is accurate. The author is known. His/her credentials are known. With that knowledge in hand I might trust the information, along with my own intuition and experience, to help me design for example a product that may save a human life.

Related to your "middle C" reference, I recently used Wikipedia to help my daughter build a marimba, and to help her understand what frequency each note should have. But the really useful information on how to tune the first 2-3 resonant modes in wooden marimba bars didn't come from Wikipedia. It came from other articles beautifully written by experts in the field, with years of experience, whose names were known.

I will repeat myself I'm afraid. A serious weakness with Wikipedia is that it bills itself as a trusted source of knowledge, and that is flat out wrong. And second, the contributors are anonymous, which I think takes us back thousands of years.

I believe we make a mistake when we assume that good quality knowledge must be entirely free. It might be a sign that as a society we are not creating new knowledge, and that tools like Wikipedia are simply an (imperfect) way of gathering up existing knowledge, now just a commodity?, for everyone to sift through and enjoy.

On the political side of the spectrum I think Wikipedia is next to useless.

You have the last word if you wish it!

Cheers, TJ

Posted by: TJ at August 25, 2009 6:15 PM

"I fail to see the reasons behind the snarky attitude -- Wikipedia is not some sort of left-wing conspiracy nor is it foisted off upon us by government bureaucrats."

uh, again there craiglist, one needs to differentiate between commonly known and I suppose a lot of not commonly known FACTUAL types of articles.

politically motivated opinion pieces need to be tagged as such. a forum like wookypedia is ripe for that kind of thing. need a grain of salt the size of an abrams tank to go with that.

have you EVER seen or heard of an editorial being the headline of a major newspaper in n. america in the past century? see what I mean?

and regarding 'gov't bureacrats' foisting stuff, here's a walkawaypedia assignment for you: research the number of times political operatives have fudged with the wikipage of their opponents.

Posted by: curious_george at August 25, 2009 6:16 PM

Kathy, I agree with nearly everything you just said.

Now that really is my last word!

Posted by: TJ at August 25, 2009 6:20 PM

Last word's yours, TJ. Thanks, Kate, for providing
us with the opportunity to talk about this a little bit.

Posted by: Vitruvius at August 25, 2009 6:22 PM

following links from the wiki...

A Soldier of the Great War, seriously?

Posted by: the bear at August 25, 2009 6:30 PM

Vitruvius said: "If some people are too stupid to understand how to use Wikipedia correctly, that's not really Wikipedia's fault."

They aren't "too stupid" Vit, they just don't agree with you about how to use Wiki. They want to use it for what THEY want, which is at odds to your purpose.

This is like saying it isn't the MSM's fault they are biased to the Left.

Posted by: The Phantom at August 25, 2009 6:35 PM

These comments on wikipedia remind me of Mr.Goebels,the propoganda minister in Hitlers regime,"if you tell 99 statements that are 100% correct and one statement that is a complete lie and insist that because the 99% are true,why would you question the one,you will soon be able to tell statements that are 100% false and people WILL BELIEVE THEM.

Posted by: spike 1 at August 25, 2009 7:24 PM

Let's see how long the edits I had fun with will survive.

Posted by: Aaron at August 25, 2009 7:55 PM

Wiki is okay to get links to other websites which many a time are authentic and informative. Nothing else.

Posted by: MarionN at August 25, 2009 8:39 PM

Muahahahaha! Poor them 'volunteers'!

Posted by: Aaron at August 25, 2009 8:56 PM

Muahahahaha! Poor them 'volunteers'!

Posted by: Aaron at August 25, 2009 8:57 PM

Hm. I'm thinking of beefing up the entry with a section about Kate running residential schools for schnauzers.

Posted by: Sean at August 25, 2009 9:53 PM

All jokes aside, Kate is very well known in dog show and breeding circles. I'm surprised her work with miniature schnauzers isn't mentioned.

Posted by: Sean at August 25, 2009 9:57 PM

Phantom 6:15. Ms. Shaidle did not imply wanting to control anybody. She meant that those who did not pay taxes or earn their own way in society should have any control over those who do. And in as much as Wiki editors cannot be numbered amoungst those who have actually advanced our society and humanity, we should accord them little attention or respect.

Posted by: rebarbarian at August 25, 2009 10:05 PM

What would be OT, Vindictivus? Pointing out that Wikisleazia has a less than honest record when it comes to "Global warming"?

Or saying that I agree with Kathy?

Sorry, Vit, you're on the wrong page on this one.

Posted by: jlc at August 25, 2009 10:07 PM

Well, too late probably, but there's a weak link issue here. If a source is wickedly, even dangerously unreliable in any sphere, it's unreliable, period. If a salesman tells me a whopper I won't trust him on any future sales pitch.

Remember Vitruvius your own snark on that cat you posted something here from the Daily Mail. I mean, really, surely some things in the Daily Mail are correct. I mean obviously people who complain about the Daily Mail are obviously too stupid to know how to use it, right? I mean, Geraldo informs us that he reads the National Enquirer 'cos it's been right all the way on the Edwards scandal.

Which you should not take personally, 'cos as I've said a few times here I think you have a huge and charming brain.

Posted by: Me No Dhimmi at August 25, 2009 10:44 PM

Wiki has instructions for squids.........

"....... You are not currently logged in. Editing this way will cause your IP address to be recorded publicly in this page's edit history. If you create an account, you can conceal your IP address and be provided with many other benefits. Messages sent to your IP can be viewed on your talk page.
Please do not save test edits. If you want to experiment, please use the sandbox."

Posted by: OMMAG at August 25, 2009 11:26 PM

Vitruvius - I am informed that only philistines keep organs at zero celcius. Sound velocity in air is strongly temperature dependent, so the 32-foot pipe should actually be 32 feet long for instruments maintained at temperatures in the mid-teens.

Pedantic. Sorry.

Posted by: Tenebris at August 26, 2009 12:03 AM

Wikipedia should only be another tool in the research process of a project and should be treated as suspect for bias when the topic is non-technical and compared to a number of other sources.

Posted by: Ken at August 26, 2009 12:05 AM

As the temperature increases the speed of sound in air increases so the length of a pipe for a given frequency increases, Tenebris, so for temperatures above zero Celsius a subcontra C pipe gets longer than 33.12 feet. In other words, a subcontra C pipe simply isn't 32 feet long, it's just known as a 32-foot pipe in the pipe organ field. Also, I picked zero Celsius because I was thinking of attaching the pipe to the outside of my house, in Edmonton, so I was thinking of something closer to the average annual temperature.

Posted by: Vitruvius at August 26, 2009 9:16 AM

...and here I thought it was gonna be a quiet day at SDA.

Posted by: tomax7 at August 26, 2009 10:22 AM

Posted by: Aaron at August 25, 2009 8:57 PM.

Good one 'Aaron'. I wonder how long it will last.

Wikipedia: use common sense, if it doesn't look right then it is probably bullsh!t

Posted by: Merle Underwood at August 26, 2009 11:06 AM

Kate, I tried to fix your WP page. Please do not take what you read in Wikipedia personally and please remove that invitation to vandalism from your blog.

Posted by: Manny at August 26, 2009 11:15 PM

Hi. I'm a Wikipedia editor, though not a particularly active one. I've been meaning to write a short note explaining Things Most People Don't Know About Wikipedia. Reading this discussion has finally pushing me into putting finger to keyboard. Here it is.

Wikipedia advertises itself as "the encylopedia that anyone can edit", which is good marketing: simple, appealing and true as far as it goes. But, as many have found, editing an article and making lasting edits to an article are quite different things. It's not just enough to put something in an article because you know it to be true; anything remotely controversial has to be backed up by a quote from a so-called "reliable source". Many people expect Wikipedia to be, at least in theory, a compilation of facts about each topic, but instead it is a compilation of statements that "reliable sources" have made about each topic. (BTW, Wikipedia uses the term "reliable source" with a rather distinctive meaning.) That's a big difference.

Wikipedia has lots of pages explaining its rules and processes. You can read the key ones in less than a day, but it takes most of us a few weeks of editing to understand how it all works. Once you understand that Wikipedia has a very narrow focus (creating and improving encyclopedia articles), everything tends to make sense. (Example: working on articles is more important than seeing that Justice Is Done in disputes, much less that Justice Is Seen To Be Done.) People familiar with blogs and other Web 2.0 communities tend to assume that Wikipedia will work in similar ways, but it doesn't. For one thing, reputation matters at lot less at Wikipedia, and in different ways.

Kate is right about the quality of the article about her: it's not good enough. That doesn't surprise me. Many (most?) of Wikipedia's articles are not good enough by Wikipedia's own standards. The amount of vandalism, character assassination and opinion masquerading as fact we get is quite depressing. The articles that experienced editors pay attention to tend to get better over time, but (1) the improvement is generally slow and (2) there are lots of articles that don't get enough attention. (As it happens, I just cleaned up one of the latter: Kate is right about the quality of the article about her: it's not good enough. Actually, many (most?) of Wikipedia's articles are not good enough by Wikipedia's own standards. The amount of vandalism, character assassination and opinion masquerading as fact we get is quite depressing. The articles that experienced editors pay attention to tend to get better over time, but (1) the improvement is generally slow and (2) there are lots of articles that don't get enough attention. (As it happens, I just cleaned up one of the latter, about the Somena people of Vancouver Island.)

Articles on non-controversial topics tend to be easy to work on. (But Wikipedia attracts so many crackpots that it is very hard to predict which articles will be controversial!) Wikipedia's articles about computing, games, maths, hard sciences, geography etc are generally not too bad. Anything to do with politics is much less reliable. In my experience, articles about conservative bloggers, writers and politicians get abnormal amounts of vandalism and bias-pushing -- especially those about women. (See especially Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, and Sarah Palin.)

So I'll start paying more attention to the article about Kate. (My only edit to it so far was to undo one hostile edit in July 2008.) Wish me luck!

Posted by: Chris Chittleborough at August 27, 2009 10:50 AM

Arrgh. Sorry about the mess in my "Kate is right ..." paragraph. It should be as follows.

Kate is right about the quality of the article about her: it’s not good enough. That doesn’t surprise me. Many (most?) of Wikipedia’s articles are not good enough by Wikipedia’s own standards. The amount of vandalism, character assassination and opinion masquerading as fact we get is quite depressing. The articles that experienced editors pay attention to tend to get better over time, but (1) the improvement is generally slow and (2) there are lots of articles that don’t get enough attention. (As it happens, I just cleaned up one of the latter: (As it happens, I just cleaned up one of the latter, about the Somena people of Vancouver Island.)

Another thing I forgot to say is that the NYT article is confusing and misleading. The main advantage of the "flagged revisions with patrolling" approach is to allow non-logged-in users to edit but prevent most users from seeing those edits until an experienced, registered user OKs them. Most edits from people who aren't logged in are vandalism, but quite a few are good edits, such as the recent addition of "Coined words and phrases" to the article about Kate. In fact, this article is a perfect example of the advantages of the new facility.

Posted by: Chris Chittleborough at August 27, 2009 12:12 PM

Thanks, Chris.

Posted by: Vitruvius at August 27, 2009 2:23 PM

I tried to vandelize your page dearest Kate, but as soon as I did, it was corrected by "User:Bsmithme" and then I received a 'warning" not to continue such "attacks".
So I decided to check out Bsmithme's user page.
He's a real piece of work. Check out his web page, and see what I mean.
Perhaps the most telling statement he makes is on his user page where he says this: "First and foremost: I genuinely believe that Wikipedia is the greatest technological invention of the century..."
Every other discovery man has made in the last 100 years or so are secondary to Wikipedia.
Kind of sums up what your up against Kate...
Good luck battling the techno-nerd Wiki-weenies, your gonna need it.

Posted by: bethesda guy at August 27, 2009 9:36 PM


I, too, "thought it was gonna be a quiet day @ SDA".... you could always break out that Celine 8-track (of her Greatest Hit) you've been saving for a slow day !!


Posted by: Garry at August 28, 2009 9:24 AM