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Friday, 23rd February 2007

Wikipedia Roundup

A History Department Bans Citing Wikipedia as a Research Source

When half a dozen students in Neil Waters’s Japanese history class at Middlebury College asserted on exams that the Jesuits supported the Shimabara Rebellion in 17th-century Japan, he knew something was wrong. The Jesuits were in “no position to aid a revolution,” he said; the few of them in Japan were in hiding.

He figured out the problem soon enough. The obscure, though incorrect, information was from Wikipedia, the collaborative online encyclopedia, and the students had picked it up cramming for his exam.

Dr. Waters and other professors in the history department had begun noticing about a year ago that students were citing Wikipedia as a source in their papers. When confronted, many would say that their high school teachers had allowed the practice.

But the errors on the Japanese history test last semester were the last straw. At Dr. Waters’s urging, the Middlebury history department notified its students this month that Wikipedia could not be cited in papers or exams, and that students could not “point to Wikipedia or any similar source that may appear in the future to escape the consequences of errors.”

Source: New York Times
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Zoeller sues to identify the author of a disputed entry on Wikipedia

Wikipedia, which describes itself as "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit," leaves it to a vast user community to catch factual errors and other problems.

The paragraph in question has been removed, but the information has been picked up by other Web sites. The lawsuit said it alleged Zoeller abused drugs, alcohol and his family with no evidence to back up the statements. The derogatory information was first added in August 2006.

According to the lawsuit, the profile was last "vandalized" on Dec. 20 from a computer with an Internet address assigned to Josef Silny & Associates.

Josef Silny was shocked to learn his company was targeted in the lawsuit.

"I can't imagine anybody doing that," Silny said. "This is completely out of left field."

Source: Pocket-lint
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U.S. senator: It's time to ban Wikipedia in schools, libraries

Here's the newest from Sen. Ted Stevens, the man who described the Internet as a series of tubes: It's time for the federal government to ban access to Wikipedia, MySpace, and social networking sites from schools and libraries.

Early in January, Stevens introduced Senate bill 49, which among other things, would require that any school or library that gets federal Internet subsidies would have to block access to interactive Web sites, including social networking sites, and possibly blogs as well. It appears that the definition of those sites is so vague that it could include sites such as Wikipedia, according to commentators. It would certainly ban MySpace.

The bill is, in part, a rehash of a similar bill introduced last year, the Deleting Online Predators Act, also called DOPA. That bill passed the house, but got bogged down in the Senate.

Many people are calling this year's bill "Son of DOPA" because of its similarity to last year's bill.

Source: Computerworld
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The Kiss of Death From Wikipedia

The Shiny Diamonds, a spunky band from Canada, make music they call "mind-blowing thrash folk." Recently, the lads and their songs were tagged with a less flattering description: "non-notable."

This was not some hasty, capricious opinion, either. No, this was the official verdict of a squad of stern-sounding editors at Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, which recently began the process of booting an entry about the Shiny Diamonds off the site.

One Wiki editor counted a mere 97 Google hits about the group and noted on a Wiki page that all those citations "seem to be MySpace or other self-promotion." Three other Wiki editors soon weighed in, each recommending "delete," which in Wiki-speak translates roughly as, "Beat it, losers."

Source: Washington Post (via STLtoday.com)
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Interview: Knowledge to the people

"He's inundated with offers, people turn out to see him, and journalists dog his every move: Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales has all the hallmarks of a rock star. Except he isn't one. He's the man who founded Wikipedia, the vast online encyclopedia used by millions every day. Wikipedia employs just five full-timers, yet it already has 1.5 million articles written by users in a growing number of the world's languages. A diehard core of 400 online volunteers help to keep vendettas, vandals and crazies at bay. So what gave Wales his big idea? Can the open Wikipedia ethic survive in a world dominated by corporations? Paul Marks caught up with him recently after he gave a lecture to a packed hall at the London School of Economics."

Source: NewScientist.com
See also: Readers' Q & A with Wikipedia founder
--

Wikipedia's next steps

Source: Fortune
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Wikipedia’s Cloudy Financial Future

Source: Wired Campus
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See Also: Learn More About Citizendium
This new database is led by a Wikipedia co-founder, Larry Sanger.

The project, started by a founder of Wikipedia, aims to improve on the Wikipedia model by adding "gentle expert oversight" and requiring contributors to use their real names.

Direct to Citizendium Home Page

See Also: Congresspedia

To help ensure fairness and accuracy, Congresspedia is overseen by a paid editor.


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