Anything worth talking about, is worth blogging about

Posts tagged ‘Wikipedia’

I am now cited by Wikipedia

Look here, and see citation number 23.

It cites my post (Update: or rather the category containing that post, which had [at the time] only that one post in it) about Yvonne Jurewicz, who died due to a coat hanger abortion in 1990. And since I provide full page numbers and dates for the newspaper article I quote in the cited post, citing me specifically is unnecessary. Hence, this situation likely won’t last too long…

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A few scattered thoughts

I really wish I knew of a way to have comments numbered both by order posted and by nested thread. For example, if Alice posts a comment, it would be #1. Bret posts a response, and this is #1.1. Carol posts another response. Her comment is #1.2. Lastly, Alice responds to both, and those comments are #1.1.1 and #1.2.1. This makes it easier to refer to comments, while preventing them from incrementing if someone makes a nested comment further abode. This is kind of like software version numbers.


I just learnt that my local public library subscribes to a service that allows me to legally download three songs per week. To my annoyance, songs which I have been wanted to get a copy of for years aren’t available on it yet. But would me using this be a good idea? After all it costs the public library money, and since that is in part supported by public tax dollars, this service is not free in that sense.

Since I think people should pay (for the most part) when they use or get other people’s creative works, it seems to me that musical piracy is almost a sign of market failure. Rather than trying to get everyone to pay the same price, different prices should be offered to different people. This way, they can get sales from both those willing to pay a lot and those willing to pay a little. Books do this, with prices ranging from hardcover territory all the way down to free at a library or Project Gutenberg. Other industries involving art and creative works should do the same. I can almost guarantee that they will get good PR.


My knowledge of HTML is getting good use with all these horizontal rules!


I could swear that the amount of spam comments I am getting is skyrocketing. And yet, when I look at my stats, I’m only on pace to get about as many as the last few months. I am also quite a ways behind my spam “record” (if that’s the right word). Maybe I’m just more aware of this menace or something.


I have hardly any online accounts. I’m not on Twitter. I have never used eBay or Amazon. I’m not on Facebook, MySpace, or any other social networking site. I don’t have a Wikipedia account. I’ve never uploaded anything to YouTube, Flickr, or any such photo– or video–sharing website. For the most part my online accounts are WordPress, Blogspot, e–mail, and those online accounts which come with something outside of the internet. I only shop in brick–and–mortar stores and do all my banking offline. Maybe I’m just old–fashioned, but I like it that way. I intend to keep it that way for as long as possible.

10 years of Wikipedia

Wikipedia is celebrating ten years today.

This is an example of the amazing democratization of information the internet and Web 2.0 have wrought. Other examples include things such as blogs, social networking sites, and “sharing” services like YouTube. Web 2.0 gives easy access to pretty much whatever information you want (no guarantees of quality, though). Web 2.0 also gives you easy access to other people. In many ways, we all know more facts and more people.

In light of my comments above, Wikipedia is an excellent example of Web 2.0. It is certainly more accurate than some random rant page, if only because so many people see it. This also has disadvantages, as it is obvious that a lot more people are interested in celebrities than in third world legislators. Hence, the surplus of coverage in one area and the deficiency in the other. Other problems might be the bureaucracy and power structure behind the users.

All in all, Wikipedia is far from perfect; one of the reasons it got so big was because it got started first. There are certain to be challenges in the years ahead, as society and the internet continue to evolve.

Stooping to tactics so low

Rather than trying to convince Canadians to come to their point of view on the purchase of Joint Strike Fighters, our government, led by the Right Wrong Dishonourable Stephen Harper, has instead tried to influence public opinion by rewriting Wikipedia articles. Their attempt at a wikiality failed. From CBC:

A Defence Department spokesperson confirms computers at the department’s research agency were used to alter a Wikipedia page entry about the Joint Strike Fighter jet and the Conservative government’s decision to spend as much as $18 billion on the aircraft.

Those edits included the removal of information critical of the government’s plan to buy the jets and the addition of insulting comments aimed at Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

As first reported in a story by Postmedia, Wikipedia traced the edits to computers owned by Defence Research Development Canada’s Ottawa offices. Wikipedia locked down the entry, labelled the changes as vandalism and only allowed recognized editors to work on the page.

See, they are defacing web pages. Vandalizing. In addition, there is the rather authoritarian tactic of removing the dissents of others. It’s entirely possible that a reasonable case could be made for purchasing these jets, but wikiality is not the way to do it.

In one entry, all information outlining the criticism of the jets and the plan to buy them was removed. In another, someone added that Ignatieff thought the deal to buy the planes for Canada was an “awesome, amazing decision to proceed with this contract.” In reality, Ignatieff has been critical of the sole-source contract, calling for a reconvening of the defence committee to examine the decision.

Another version of the entry inserted that Ignatieff has six toes on each foot.

Putting words in your opponents’ mouths and misrepresenting their positions, and making up juvenile stories about them. I would expect the government to know what’s going on with their own computers.

This incident is of course a good reason not to vote for the Conservative Party whenever the next federal election is held.

Wikipedia passes 3 million articles

Wikipedia has surpassed the 3 million article milestone. Article 3 million is Beate Eriksen.

Wikipedia has both good stuff and bad stuff. For example, it covers American roads, recent tropical cyclones, and popular culture very well. And these are some interesting topics. But it is also lacking in the hard sciences; coverage of those is rather deficient.

There’s also the power structure involved. For example, there is a claim that being a sysop/administrator (a kind of user with special privileges) is “No big deal“. That claim is utter nonsense. You see, if being an administrator is no big deal, why is (you or someone else) losing it such a big deal? And again, if adminship is no big deal, why is (you or someone else) remaining an admin such a big deal?

I am not sure whether Wikipedia will be a success in the long term. By its nature it covers current events better as articles can be updated in nearly real time as information becomes available. But this will not improve its coverage of neglected topics; lesser–known countries, more obscure fields, and the like. However, its power structure and hierarchy will simply get worse as users try to pad their egos and have power over others.

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