In the news

In the news this week

Bloggers discuss benefits of MediaWiki as collaboration tool

MediaWiki was written especially for Wikipedia, but as it is open source, highly featured and freely available it has been turned to a diverse range of uses. This week, a writer on the technology blog Corante discussed how wikis could enhance collaboration in a wide variety of fields [1].

Open source blogging software WordPress uses Mediawiki to work on its documentation, and wordpress founder Matt Mullenweg said there were many reasons why wikis can enhance collaboration, the main one being that they are so easy to use. The lack of barriers to involvement in a wiki encourage a great deal more user participation than many other models.

Mullenweg also offered his thoughts on open source software in general, and said he thought it had a much brighter future than commercial software. "I wouldn't want my company reliant on someone else's business model in such a rapidly changing market. Selling software is dead", he said. However, he noted that a great deal of open source software is written without regard for what commercial users want. Because of this, open source software might sometimes be slow to develop in response to the needs of its user base.

Open source methods vital for business future

Continuing on the theme of open source software's advantages over its commercial rivals, South African newspaper Business Today examined the pros and cons of either side [2], and noted that Linux had confounded industry analysts by being both cheaper and more reliable than Microsoft Windows. Wikipedia, said the article, is "an equally visible example of the open-source idea".

The article looked at the expansion of the open source philosophy into media beyond IT, and cited the success of collaborative news project ohmynews in South Korea, although it did not mention the similar Wikimedia project Wikinews.

Wikipedia spreads around schools in South Africa

Also in South Africa, it was reported this week that a project to equip schools in Western Cape province with computer equipment has now installed its 100th school computer lab in the Western Cape. The Schools Linux User Group plans to extend its programme of supplying refurbished PCs to Eastern Cape and Limpopo provinces next year, and Wikipedia is one of the packages installed on the computers, according to the website tectonic [3].

Wikipedia vandalised by Socialtext CEO

EContent magazine reported this week on a live vandalism of Wikipedia at a conference in Arizona in April [4]. At the Buying & Selling eContent show, Ross Mayfield, the CEO of collaborative software developers Socialtext, apparently began his presentation by vandalising a Wikipedia article. He revisited the article at the end of his talk, by which time the changes had been reverted.

Econtent's reporter did not seem overly impressed by this demonstration of Wikipedia's self-healing nature. She described Wikipedia as the best known wiki on the web, but despite Wikipedia now being firmly established in the top 100 sites on the internet (see archived story), she said that "may not be saying much, given wikis' relative lack of visibility".


Among the news outlets using Wikipedia content as source material this week are Maine newspaper Magic City News looking to Wikipedia to help work out if Mexico belongs to the Third World [5]; right-wing website Conservative Voice quoting from European Union following referendum results in France and the Netherlands saying no to the proposed EU constitution [6]; website examining the phenomenon of Jumping the shark [7]; and Philadelphia newspaper the Carlisle Sentinel advising its readers on the lethal dose for various animals of Conium, a plant whose frequent neighbor, Dame's Rocket, is common enough to cause farmers some concern [8].

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Suggested Additions
  1. Aussie overtaken in cat and mouse game, Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia), May 2, 2005
Directs readers to Felix the Cat as web resource with additional info.
  1. Media: Dispatches: Online journalism: News of the world wide web, The Guardian (London) - Final Edition, May 2, 2005
Article devoted to Wikinews - Highlights: " From the makers of Wikipedia - the online encyclopaedia that allows anyone to edit and update entries - comes Wikinews..." "...Wikinews's international network of contributors could potentially compete with the news heavyweights, such as Associated Press." "And, before we take Wikinews too seriously, take this example of "original" reporting on the site last week: 'I watched the take-off live on BBC News 24. Not a whole lot to say.'"
Now you know, Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA), April 29, 2005
"Now you Know", a random factoid column, cites Wikipedia as a source.
A colourful career in more ways than one, Daily Telegraph (Sydney, Australia), April 27, 2005
Article directs readers at the end to explore the Al Grassby page.
Just browsing, Times-Picayune (New Orleans), April 27, 2005
"Wikipedia is an astonishing resource"
Wikipedia cited as the sole source.
Winnipeg Sun (Manitoba), May 1, 2005 Sunday, FINAL EDITION, LIFESTYLE; Strange But True;
"ASo-called "polydactyls" may have six or more digits on either their hands or feet or both, an inherited condition, says Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia."
Two thumbs out: Sight gags, good casting and Earth's destruction almost add up to 42, National Post (f/k/a The Financial Post) (Canada), April 29, 2005
"The guide itself (think but with more advice on pubs)" Sig: Wikipedia is no longer the resource to introduce, but in the judgement of editors - a reference point
GETTING HITCHED, Calgary Sun (Alberta), April 27, 2005
"Douglas' concept of an all-encompassing storehouse of knowledge written by its own users predated Wikipedia, a popular online encyclopedia that recently received backing from Yahoo.

Wikipedia allows anyone online to make changes to entries but relies on a final review by a core team of about 1,000 users."

Rowe Turns Tables on Jackson Prosecution; Bride-to-Be Search Intensifies, CNN, SHOW: CNN LIVE TODAY 10:00 AM EST, April 29, 2005
"And Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that people contribute to, has a fine site to devoted to 42 and the answer to the meaning of life." (LIVE mention)

Lotsofissues 00:30, 3 May 2005 (UTC)[reply]

Wikipedia vandalised by Socialtext CEO

Any idea which article Mayfield vandalized? RickK 22:19, Jun 7, 2005 (UTC)

The source didn't say, and I at least have no idea. Since the point of his demonstration was to show that it would be fixed by the time he came back to it, he would want his vandalism to be an easy mark. The best way to make sure of that is to edit a popular article (possibly that day's featured article) from an IP address. But this makes it harder to reconstruct after the fact. --Michael Snow 22:41, 7 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Error says that Poison Hemlock (not the Dame's Rocket, is poisonous. The Sentinel piece uses information from Conium.

How does the Signpost handle corrections? -- Beland 05:04, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)

In most cases, The Signpost handles corrections the same way everything else on this site does; it's a wiki, so anyone who sees the mistake can fix it. I don't think this one is of a magnitude to require too much formality over it. --Michael Snow 05:17, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)


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