More coverage of Baidu Baike launch
Most articles that mention Wikipedia this week are continuing the coverage of the launch of Baidu Baike, an online Chinese Language encyclopedia founded last week by the search engine company Baidu.
Sitepoint discusses Mediawiki
Harry Fuecks, PHP expert and featured blogger at Sitepoint, discussed the Mediawiki architecture and some recent talks given by Wikimedia tech guru Brion Vibber, (available at Google Video and the Pro PHP podcast), in "Brion Vibber on Wikipedia and Mediawiki":
- Perhaps the biggest item was that Wikipedia servers are already running PHP 5, even if the code isn’t yet taking advantage of the fact. Side note: imagine if Wikipedia was running on something like .NET -- can you imagine how much marketing noise there’d be following a successful move to the latest version? Funny how the LAMP world moves differently.
City article improved by citizens
David Berger, mayor of Lima, Ohio, has plans to improve the city's coverage in Wikipedia, according to the article "Volunteers contribute to Wikipedia Lima entry" in The Lima News.
- Last summer, Berger saw the city’s entry on Wikipedia; it consisted of three sentences about location and population. When he checked again, he found a larger entry that included some ugly pictures, Berger said. “I was thinking with my chamber of commerce hat and decided that we needed to take charge of our entry,” Berger said. “It’s a place to go for a universe of topics, and if that many people are going there, we need up-to-date, accurate information.”
Juan Cole article criticized
Juan Cole, a professor and media commentator on issues in the Middle East, wrote an entry in his blog titled "Wikipedia Article Hijacked", expressing his confusion over the edit wars in his article. The entry received numerous comments from other professors.
The San Francisco Bay Area Indymedia website picked up the story with an opinion piece at "Juan Cole Wikipedia Article Hijacked":
- With a nod to those who are trying in good faith to sort through this issue, Professor Cole's unfair treatment on the page devoted to him is illustrative of why Wikipedia is no longer considered a credible source of information on virtually any topic. I gave up trying to correct facts on various issues and now just actively warn students that Wikipedia is not an acceptable source for research projects or even casual knowledge.
Pros and cons
The New Zealand Listener published "Cuts Both Ways", discussing many of Wikipedia's recent critics, and potential competition from Digital Universe.
- Wikipedia's weakness is the same as its strength: anyone can edit it. And that means that even when a topic has been comprehensively addressed, and an elegant entry written for it, someone else can come in and have a crack. There are Wikipedia entries that can really only get worse; and many do.
The Tech Blog at the San Francisco Chronicle mentioned Larry Sanger's new project Digital Universe, launched in January, in "An alternative to Wikipedia?".
- Digital Universe must now prove that an encyclopedia supervised by people who write under their real names is a useful alternative to Wikipedia -- and not just the venue to settle a grudge.
Newspaper article about Virginia contributor
The May 22 edition of the Daily Press in Newport News, Virginia had a Spotlight story about Wikipedian Mark Fisher (aka Vaoverland), who is a WP administrator and specializes in Virginia history and transportation subjects. The newspaper story tied in to the fact that the community is ramping up for the Jamestown 2007 celebration of the 400th anniversary of the establishment of the Jamestown Settlement in the Virginia Colony in 1607.
During the interview and followup by telephone, we had the opportunity to address the fact that Wikipedia seems to have achieved enough contributor efforts that both false or inaccurate information and the occasional vandalism are each quickly addressed by bona fide contributors who watchdog the quality of the content in a most vigilant manner. I advised that WP administrators are equipped with certain extra powers which make it easier for us to spot suspect changes, revert such content, and even temporarily ban those who would harm the effort. Nevertheless, among all others, newspaper staff realize that a Freedom of Speech (i.e. anyone can contribute) does come at the price of occasional foolishness and ill-intent "contributions". Regretfully, this portion of our communications did not make the final cut for publication. Nevertheless, I feel it was good press for Wikipedia, and I have had some contact from friends and associates to that effect. Vaoverland
- News story.