In the news

News outlets note Wikipedia's rapid updates, jokes

Wikipedia's speedy updates noted

In the week in which both Terri Schiavo and Pope John Paul II died, many news outlets took advantage of Wikipedia's ability to keep the content contemporary with the latest information. For example, many articles during the Pope's last days referenced the Wikipedia article on the late pontiff, while a flurry of edits also took place (Thryduulf reported that over nearly six hours around the time of his death, edits were coming faster than one per minute).

Besides citing Wikipedia as a source, some of the coverage specifically noted how quickly Wikipedia articles are updated. A report which appeared in several Canadian news outlets noted that Wikipedia was updated with news of Schiavo's death "within moments - even as leaders walked to microphones" ([1]). CNET technology news also reported that Wikipedia's "lengthy account of Schiavo's life and last days" was updated immediately on the news of her death ([2]).

April Fooled

Whether to include a nihilartikel on the main page for April Fool's Day caused a certain amount of friction among Wikipedians (see related story). In the end, outside websites picked up on both the nihilartikel and the nihilnews that made it onto the front page.

In their round-up of the day's internet tomfoolery, business news website declared Wikipedia's antics the most confusing ([3]). "Is the featured story on the history of toilets and lavatory paper a sophisticated exploration of a most important topic?", they wondered, "Or is it just toilet humor?". P2Pnet ([4]) and broadbandreports ([5]), meanwhile, both reported the disastrous news of the takeover by the ligatured encyclopædia. The latter outlet reported it as a straight news story, cheekily fobbing off their readers with a second-hand hoax.

Wikipedia is remarkable

That's the verdict of an article on Wikipedia in ([6]). Columnist Tim Anderson asked the question "Critics said collaborative web publishing would be chaos, but were they wrong?", and resoundingly concluded that they were. Anderson was impressed at how easy it is for the large body of editors to keep on top of vandalism and spamming, contrary to what one might initially expect. "Despite what seem fundamental flaws, Wikipedia has become a huge and valuable resource", he said.

The success of Wikipedia has focussed attention on Wiki software, and many businesses are now investigating using wikis for collaborative working. Anderson remarks on Tim Berners-Lee's original vision for a collaborative internet, and says "Wikipedia and the wiki concept have brought that vision to life".

The lunatics are taking over the asylum

Many people remain astonished by the suggestion that letting anyone edit an encyclopaedia could produce a useful resource, but two articles this week extol the virtues of mass participation. Fast Company Magazine reported a speech given by David Weinberger, a fellow at Harvard's Berkman Institute for Internet & Society, in which he said that the Internet provided ample evidence of the general goodness of people ([7]). "Wikipedia works because human nature is so f'ing good!", he enthused.

Meanwhile, the Nashua Telegraph discussed the success of flickr, which allows anyone to categorise anyone else's photographs, and said that Wikipedia demonstrates the pros and cons of collaborative editing ([8]). Columnist Dave Brooks (who happens to be User:DavidWBrooks) noted the recent creation of the 500,000th English language article, and said that Wikipedia contains "a surprising amount of valuable, fascinating information". On the other hand, he added a harsh conclusion that "many of the entries are wrong and even more are stupid".

Also looking at the negative aspects, an article in The Age noted that the oft-vandalised article on George W. Bush varied in reliability from minute to minute ([9]), with the author finding the article describing Bush as plotting the downfall of America when he looked at it.

Other citations

Article citations in other news outlets this week included the Search Engine Journal quoting from our article about phishing following Microsoft's legal action against phishers ([10]); the Arizona Republic relating to its readers some of the 12 uses of asterisks our article lists ([11]); and the Washington Post quoting facts from articles on Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg in a quiz question relating to the centenary of the Special Theory of Relativity ([12]).

+ Add a comment

Discuss this story

These comments are automatically transcluded from this article's talk page. To follow comments, add the page to your watchlist. If your comment has not appeared here, you can try purging the cache.
In the interests of full disclosure, shouldn't we note that "columnist Dave Brooks" is administrator and User:DavidWBrooks? (but not me) David Brooks 16:53, 5 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I had no idea. Sure we should, and done. --Michael Snow 17:37, 5 Apr 2005 (UTC)


The Signpost · written by many · served by Sinepost V0.9 · 🄯 CC-BY-SA 4.0