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Faulty story urges for advertising on Wikipedia; brief news
Jimmy Wales responds to urge for advertising on Wikipedia
A December 15 article by Digital Trends contributor Molly McHugh entitled Analysts advise Wikipedia to stop asking for donations aroused an email reply from Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales after the article urged Wikipedia to switch to advertising for funding, rather than rely on donations. According to the article, the currently ongoing fundraiser "is approximately $7 million short" of its goal. Alex Konanykhin stepped in offering a solution:
"We believe that boycotting fundraising efforts of Wikipedia might compel it to raise billions via advertising and develop content of significantly better quality. Qualified contributors may and shall be compensated for their time."
Konanykhin is the founder of WikiExperts, a business centered around creating Wikipedia articles for companies, which represents a classic example of a conflict of interest. WikiExperts also offers a "24/7 monitoring and repair service", claiming, "Your Wikipedia presence is completely safe, if you entrust it to us". His quoted statement was made in a press release by WikiExperts. The presence of the site has been discussed on Foundation-l and on the Administrators' noticeboard recently, but discussion has been inconclusive. "Why are we helping to promote this service by advertising here?", asked Jehochman. "Just apply WP:DENY for best results."
Wales' reply pointed out a few mistakes in the calculations in the Digital Trends article regarding 2009 fundraising statistics. Wales strongly denied the allegations, reported by McHugh, that Wales had offered to accept funds in return for Wikipedia page edits in 2008 (see Signpost coverage). "Even when I travel for Wikimedia Foundation board meetings, I pay for my own accommodations and travel", declared Wales. "That claim is absolutely and completely false from top to bottom."
- Cuban version of Wikipedia launched: Cuba launched its own version of Wikipedia on Wednesday, complete with 20,000 articles, according to The Guardian. The website, EcuRed, was developed by the Youth Club of Computing and Electronics and allows users with previous permission from an administrator to edit articles. The Guardian noted that some of the articles, such as one on US-Cuba relations, had an anti-American bias. The encyclopedia also contains articles about former leader Fidel Castro, who transferred power to his brother Raul in 2006 due to illness.
- Wikipedia a milestone of the decade: The New York Times Magazine asked economist Tyler Cowen to select the most noteworthy entries from its annual "Ideas" issue since 2001 (Best ideas of a decade). For 2001, Cowen picked an early mention of Wikipedia, titled "Populist Editing": "I recall reading the 2001 issue when it came out. And I was hardly bowled over with excitement by thoughts of ‘Populist Editing.’ Now I use Wikipedia almost every day." A Review of the decade in Indian newspaper The Tribune mentioned Wikipedia, too, as "a daring experiment, taking us back to an idyllic global commons untainted by the profit motive where, paradoxically, the knowledge economy enjoys free rein", also citing the observation that "Wikipedia now hosts wikis in over 230 languages" as an argument for the statement that "late in this decade, the Anglo-Saxon world lost control of the Internet".
- Wikipedia's daily value: In a recent blog post by Ezra Klein of The Washington Post entitled What is Wikipedia worth?, Klein agreed with co-founder Jimmy Wales in that Wikipedia was "a public good". Klein also praised the indispensability of Wikipedia, and urged readers to make small donations. "They've got enough users that if everyone gave a dollar, the project would be secure basically forever."
- Psychologist: Don’t like Wikipedia? Change it: Steven Breckler, the executive director of the American Psychological Association's Science Directorate, has written an article entitled Don’t like Wikipedia? Change it. In the article, Breckler praises the Foundation's Public Policy Initiative, saying: "This is brilliant. Imagine if every college student in every college class in every college subject took responsibility to make just a single correction or entry to Wikipedia. It would not take long for the effects to be seen."
- Wikipedia in higher education: Harvard Kennedy School published an article in which lecturer Nicco Mele and some of his students described their participation in the Wikimedia Foundation's Public Policy Initiative. On the EmergingEdTech blog, Joseph Levis, Reference and Instruction Librarian at The College of Westchester, asked Is There a role For Wikipedia in the classroom?
- Place fundraising banners below articles: In a blog post, user experience consultant Debré Barrett stated that Wikimedia's fundraising banners are "in the wrong place" on top of Wikipedia pages, arguing that "web users are goal-driven" when they come to Wikipedia and are thus likely to ignore the banner until they have found the information they are looking for, but "at the bottom of the page, when the user has achieved the goal she came for, and is looking for the next thing to do", they might be in a "seducible moment", i.e. more receptive to an appeal for donations (e.g. "Did you find this information useful?").
- Blog warns of Wikipedia's downfall, urges readers to donate: A recent blog post on the Media Blog of The Express Tribune entitled Can you imagine a world without Wikipedia? asked readers to donate after cautioning that "none of us will be using Wikipedia next year as only half the fundraising goal has been reached with less than 3 weeks of the year remaining." Despite the apparent urgency, Sue Gardner, Wikimedia Executive Director, was quoted in the blog post, saying, "But not everyone can or will donate, and that’s fine."
- Are Turkers less likely to participate in Wikipedia?: On his blog, Wikipedia researcher Joseph Reagle asked the question whether participation in Amazon Mechanical Turk (where Internet users receive small financial compensations for completing mostly trivial tasks) decreases the likelihood of contributing to Wikipedia (see also motivation crowding theory). Comparing results from a survey among "Turkers" by David Rand with that of a survey among Wikipedians, Reagle observed that among those Internet users who read Wikipedia at least once daily, Turkers actually appear to contribute slightly more frequently to Wikipedia.
- Reagle's book part of the canon: Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing reviewed Reagle's book Good Faith Collaboration, praising it as "practically a textbook example on how to adapt a dissertation as a trade book". Doctorow emphasizes Reagle's focus on the culture of Wikipedia, and calls the book a "worthy addition" to the canon of works by fellows of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, alongside works by Lawrence Lessig, Yochai Benkler, and others.
- Vandalism as therapy?: A post titled Therapeutic Wikipedia vandalism on the WeLoveDC blog mused "about the cathartic value of slamming somebody on their Wikipedia page".
- French user study: In a blog post titled Google: more and more Wikipedia, but surfers seem weary researcher Jean Véronis described results of an ongoing half-yearly survey among French students, who, starting in May 2007, were asked to conduct Google search queries (5876 in total) and judge the quality of the top results. It found that the frequency with which Wikipedia occurred as the top link has increased in recent years, but that the users grew slightly less satisfied with the quality of these links.
- Quality not quantity: An interview with Jimmy Wales on his arrival in London by The Independent newspaper, in which he discussed the coming 10th anniversary of Wikipedia and his interest in the House of Lords, which he identified as the subject area he spends most time studying on Wikipedia. He restates that Wikipedia has nothing to do with Wikileaks, although in his opinion, "In open and free societies it’s really important that people who have evidence of wrongdoing have some avenue to make that known. I think that’s a good and healthy part of democracy”. He also revealed that he intends to settle in London in the future.