In the news
Accidentally anonymized donation, democratized learning and more
Million-dollar donation misattributed
Last week a Digg.com submission showing a screenshot of the recent fundraiser's donation log gained prominence. It appeared to show a million-dollar donation coming from an anonymous source; Paul McNamara of Network World, however, investigated thinking that "a million smackaroos from a benefactor too shy to even accept a public thank-you" () seemed unlikely. It has now transpired that the donation was actually the third installment of the three million dollars over the three-year grant from the Alfred P. Sloan foundation (see previous Signpost coverage). The mistake in attribution has since been fixed (see log: ).
"Is globally democratized learning always a good thing?"
Wikipedia featured in an article written by Ben Wildavsky for The Chronicle of Higher Education, which asked the question, "Is globally democratized learning always a good thing?". In introducing the topic, Wildavsky said "At the Wilson Center discussion, former University of Michigan president James Duderstadt ticked off a long list of transformative technologies and modes of learning that seem destined to reshape postsecondary instruction globally ... Along with open courseware initiatives, ranging from iTunes University to Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative, he cited Google’s Library Project; Wikipedia; Facebook [and others.] The upshot, he declared, will be 'a new form of collective human intelligence, as billions of world citizens interact together, unconstrained by today's monopolies of knowledge or learning opportunities.' ... the things Wikipedia gets wrong are far less striking than how much it gets right."
Wildavsky went on to discuss some of the concerns with "democratized" learning: "Peer learning has its place, but the wisdom of crowds isn't always, well, wise."
- Apparently spammers have been sending out "large numbers" of emails that purport to be requests to users to confirm their Wikipedia account, with links to malware sites, The H Security reports.
- PanARMENIAN.Net notes that "Wikipedia Arbitration Committee bans 26 Baku wikipedians’ activity" on the Russian Wikipedia. The sanction was for coordinated editing.
- Serbian broadcaster B92 reported on complaints of homophobia against the Serbian Wikipedia by an organization called Gay and Lesbian Info Center (GLIC), made after the article about it had been deleted ("Gay organization's page removed from website"). User:Millosh (Miloš Rančić) from Wikimedia Serbia rejected the accusations, noting that the organization was just one year old and had been deleted as non-notable, while articles about other, notable LGBT organizations remain.
- American singer-songwriter Katy Perry used the Internet to research which rapper she wanted to collaborate with on her new single – and chose Snoop Dogg after reading his entry on Wikipedia", the World Entertainment News Network notes (via the Toronto Sun).
- Canadian-American humorist and Emmy-Award-winning playwright and screenwriter David Rakoff was asked about his Wikipedia page in a recent Ohio State University radio interview. He replied that "it's as though you had gone to someone's home for brunch, and you went to the bathroom and you took a wrong turn and you went into a room and all the walls are plastered with surveillance photos of you, [and] severed chicken feet and bloody messages on the wall" (17 mins, 15 s). The article has since undergone a major pruning by Wikipedia editors.
- Last week's "In the news" reported on English journalist James Delingpole's complaints about his Wikipedia article, and noted that Jimmy Wales had acknowledged one of them on the article's talk page. In a subsequent blog post, Delingpole noted the Signpost article and, while upholding other criticism of Wikipedia, appreciated that his Wikipedia biography had been modified: "thanks Jimmy Wales. Much appreciated. You’re a gent."