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Pentagon shooter used Wikipedia, soon iPhone OS will too

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By Alex Stinson, Cryptic C62 and Tilman Bayer

Pentagon shooter used Wikipedia

The Wikipedia user page of John Patrick Bedell, the perpetrator in the March 4th Pentagon shooting, appeared on The Today Show on March 6th, 2010 as part of a story explaining his motives. In his user profile, as well as on other Internet sites including YouTube, User:JPatrickBedell expressed his interest in conspiracy theories and his violent thoughts.[1] [2] User:WWB took a closer look at the account's contributions on his "The Wikipedian" blog, concluding that Bedell "was an occasional but occasionally very active editor", who "was familiar with Wikipedia conventions, probably as a consequence of being thwarted in his efforts by other editors." At one point he complained on Jimbo Wales' talk page about the impending deletion of an article he had written.

His user page was deleted (The Today Show linked to a copy on a Wikipedia mirror) and his account was "Blocked as a precautionary measure, per standard procedure" by User:Fran Rogers on March 5th. The justification on the user page links to the Wikipedia article about the shooting.

Last June, the New York Times reported on the Wikipedia account of the suspect in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum shooting, see previous Signpost story.

Built-in iPod search option

According to this independent article, a Wikipedia search option will be included in the upcoming iPhone OS releases for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. No official announcement has been made yet regarding this feature.

Transcendental turmoil perplexes psychologist

In a blog post about transcendental meditation on his web site Psych Central, psychologist John Grohol described his attempt to learn more about the subject and his dissatisfaction with the relevant Wikipedia article. He specifically argued that the research section was sloppily written and biased against transcendental meditation. He also pointed out the turmoil on the article's talk page, though he did not make note of the ongoing ArbCom case about the subject.

In an interview (MP3) about the use of free e-books as a marketing tool, Ron Hogan, director of e-marketing strategy at the U.S. publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, mentioned the usefulness of external links on Wikipedia for marketing purposes. Discussing a book of his own, a version of the Tao Te Ching in English (combined from existing translations of the Chinese original) that generated 100,000 downloads as a Creative Commons licensed e-book and was later made into a print edition, Hogan said:

When I was first putting it up, I went around to all the websites that I could find that had information about Taoism and I basically offered them the link as something they might want to add to their blogroll. I was lucky in that a number of sites that collated translations added me to their sites. One of the biggest developments was when I edited the link into the Wikipedia page for the "Tao Te Ching" as part of the resources available there--so people were discovering it through Wikipedia.

(The link was first added to the article in August 2005. It was removed in December 2009. At one point the article had contained links to over 27 free online English translations.)

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RE: Transcendental turmoil perplexes psychologist

Although I don't question the merits of Grohol's comments, I wonder how many other comments by academics about some page on the world's fifth most popular website go unreported in the Signpost each week. Below is a current example for illustration - which I personally hadn't thought newsworthy enough, even though it was published in a very notable scholarly journal instead of a personal blog, judged a whole set of articles instead of just one passage in one article, and is interesting in that it recommends a Wikipedia article talk page (!) as introduction to a subject:

In an article about undecidability in this month's issue of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society, Chaim Goodman-Strauss listed Wikipedia among other sources as recommended reading about the topic:

The Wikipedia entries in this area are comprehensive and generally well written and accurate.

About the controversy about the proof for the universality of Wolfram's 2-state 3-symbol Turing machine (for which Alex Smith, a student at the University of Birmingham, won a $25,000 prize in 2007), Goodman-Strauss actually recommends the talk page of the Wikipedia article (which contains many comments by Vaughan Pratt, one of the participants in that controversy):

The interested reader can ask for no better starting point than the talk page of the relevant Wikipedia article [46], following the many outward links from there.

Regards, HaeB (talk) 07:32, 9 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

As the author of that article, it was interesting to come across this thread; it definitely felt like a turning point to be citing Wikipedia in a prominent academic forum-- but I note that not one of the three referees, nor the editor, felt that worthy of comment. The articles on the theory of computation really are quite good! It's also worth noting a distinct difference in my two citations: the first is to Wikipedia as a reliable, but secondary, interpretive source. The second, in effect, is to a talk page as a primary source in itself, an original document of independent interest. C Goodman-Strauss (talk) 13:28, 22 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
My reaction is about the same; I would have left it out if I was writing this, mainly because we can't hope to be comprehensive in cataloging every opinionated blog post from an expert. I seem to recall Grohol and his site coming up with regards to Wikipedia in the past, although I can't remember offhand what the context was.--ragesoss (talk) 01:08, 10 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
I see no harm in mentioning the Grohol post and no good in excluding it. That I didn't include the undecidability article is simply because I didn't notice it, not because I thought the Grohol one would be better. Feel free to pitch in next time you see something like that! --Cryptic C62 · Talk 04:04, 10 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
The Transcendental Meditation movement ArbCom case has also been covered in another blog, TM-Free Blog, written by John M. Knapp, LMSW. Transcendental Meditation Wikipedia Scandal Heats Up   Will Beback  talk  06:09, 10 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Also, the research on medical benefits of TM constitutes about 23% of the article, not 1%. Transcendental Meditation#Health effects is about 1550 words out of a 6800-word article.   Will Beback  talk  06:14, 10 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]
Whoops, sorry! I calculated it for the Research subsection, but upon rereading the blog post, he clearly states that he was referring to the entire Health effects section. Good catch. --Cryptic C62 · Talk 18:04, 10 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

Lord, what a terrible title, so common in academia. If 97% of English speakers don't know what the hell a word is, why use it? Trout slap for wikipedia creator. Okip 13:50, 10 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

RE: Pentagon shooter used Wikipedia

The possibility of James Sabow, the article the Pentagon shooter created, ever surviving deletion in the future is nil. Never mind its potential notability or non-notability. Okip 13:58, 10 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]

::sigh:: Look at the talk page history. If we truly block users like this "per standard procedure", why do people keep removing the {{blocked user}} template??? Every indefinite block should use appropriate blocked user template, no? Standard procedure demands standardised templates! --wwwwolf (barks/growls) 16:37, 18 March 2010 (UTC)[reply]


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