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Facebook hack; gender gap; What is the Wikipedia "community"?; brief news

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By Wackywace, Lumos3 and Tilman Bayer

Wikipedia page used in Facebook hack

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook
The Guardian last week observed that a hacker who gained access to a page for fans of Mark Zuckerberg on the social networking site Facebook and left comments about how the website should become a "social business" included a shortened link to the Wikipedia article on social business (clicked over 50,000 times as of January 31, according to

Before the incident, an anonymous contributor had edited that article to add a link to the website of a company offering "total web consulting", based in Pickerington, Ohio. However, two minutes after posting the link in the article, the same IP removed the link. The website appears to have since been taken offline, and an HTTP 404 ("not found" error) message is displayed.

Then, a link to an old ID of the article was posted on the Facebook fan page through Mark Zuckerberg's personal account, with comments about the way the social networking site is run. "If facebook needs money, instead of going to the banks, why doesn't Facebook let its user [sic] invest in Facebook in a social way?" Why, he questions, does Zuckerberg not "transform Facebook into a 'social business'" in the way Nobel Prize winner "Muhammad Yunus described it?"

A whois check on the IP address used to make the edits shows the edits were made from a United States Department of Defense computer in Williamsburg. Although this could indicate the edits—and, indeed, the identity of the Facebook page hacker— could have been the actions of a member of the U.S. military, The Guardian points out the edits could be made using a proxy server from outside the military base.

Wikipedia's gender gap

An article on the January 31 front page of the The New York Times ("Define gender gap? Look up Wikipedia’s contributor list") concerned the gender gap in Wikipedia's editor base and how it is affecting article quality. Written by Noam Cohen, it gives examples of how subjects dear to girls and women tend to be short while those dear to boys and men are voluminous. It points out that the entry on friendship bracelets, likely to be of interest to teenage girls, is limited to only four paragraphs, whereas the article on baseball cards, a topic more likely to be followed by boys, is voluminous and includes a detailed chronological history of the subject. The entry on TV series Sex and the City includes only a brief summary of each episode while the one on The Sopranos includes lengthy, detailed articles on each episode. The New York Times quotes Sue Gardner as saying how she has set a goal to raise the share of female contributors to 25 percent by 2015 from its present 13%, but "that for now she was trying to use subtle persuasion and outreach through her foundation to welcome all newcomers to Wikipedia, rather than advocate for women-specific remedies like recruitment or quotas", being wary of triggering the "strong feelings" of many people for whom gender is "a huge hot-button issue". Wikimedia Board member Kat Walsh (User:Mindspillage), who was also quoted by the NYT, reacted to the article by publishing a draft essay on "Women on Wikipedia" disagreeing with the statement "that Wikipedia has a culture that is unfriendly to women ... I think the disproportionate lack of women in the community isn't about gender so much as it is about a culture that rewards certain traits and discourages others. And we're not getting people who don't have those other traits, male or female; more of the people who do fit the current culture are male. But the focus should be on becoming more open and diverse in general--becoming more inclusive to everyone, which will naturally bring in more women."

What is the Wikipedia "community"?

A paper titled "Imagining the Wikipedia community: What do Wikipedia authors mean when they write about their 'community'?" was published last month in "New Media & Society" (doi:10.1177/1461444810378364, paywalled) by Christian Pentzold, a doctoral student at Chemnitz University of Technology. Led by the question "What particular meaning do the Wikipedia editors attach to the term 'community'?", the paper examines postings on Wikipedia-l, the oldest Wikipedia mailing list, from its founding on January 22, 2001 until the end of 2007 (the author notes that the list has "lost traffic" to other lists). Of the 30,500 postings during that time, 3105 contained the word "community", used in 5563 passages. A part of them was coded using grounded theory procedures, using a set of standardized questions such as "Q7. In which activities can people partake?" (in the "community" referred to in that particular passage) or "Q10. What are prohibitions?". The author arrived at four "categories representing particular phenomena", labeled "ethos-community" (defined by a shared ethos, i.e. a set of norms and standards such as NPOV), "language community" (e.g. the Finnish Wikipedia community), "technical community" (limited to "a core group of technical rights access holders", e.g. developers) and "expert community" (a group "contributing their special knowledge to the encyclopedia"). Further axial coding led to elevate the "ethos-community" category to a "core category" and reformulate it as "ethos-action community", i.e. its members are not only defined by sharing the ethos, but also by adhering to it "apparent and assessable in their performances". The second part of the analysis elaborated on the connections between various subcategories to "narratively" lay out "an empirical theory of the 'Wikipedia community'".


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Could someone please fix the Williamsburg link? At the moment it leads to a dab page. I'd fix it myself but I have no idea which Williamsburg has a US Department of Defence in it. Cheers, Jenks24 (talk) 02:42, 1 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I pointed it to Williamsburg, OH. But note that the IP address points to Reynoldsburg, Ohio, not Williamsburg. Not sure if we should be correcting news stories in The Guardian but something is not right here. --rgpk (comment) 03:10, 1 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Does it mean Williamsburg, Virginia? -- Ssilvers (talk) 04:34, 1 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Gender Gap
It's telling that, when presented with pretty clear evidence that there's a 6/1 male-female ratio on this Wikipedia, the response of the community is to go "wWat gender gap? there's no gender gap! And if there is, it isn't a problem. Look, a female editor!". Just look at how Durova, one of Wikipedia's more important contributors, was driven away. Now imagine that happening, quietly, dozens of times every day. (talk) 04:04, 7 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]

As I have noted before, although there are more male editors, the female ones tend to be very active and are disproportionately important in contributing and reviewing GA- and FA-class articles. -- Ssilvers (talk) 04:34, 1 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]

This may also be a result of the selection bias - e.g. casual female editors get driven away by the unwelcoming climate so only those who are most dedicated remain. - BanyanTree 05:56, 1 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Or it might just be that dealing with vandalism and deletion debates are more appealing to blokes and the way to keep more of the women who start editing is to talk about article review in welcome messages. ϢereSpielChequers 10:49, 1 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Or it may be that baseball cards have a more well-documented history than friendship bracelets, so it's easier to write an article on them. (Goes and does some research: 8,700 hits on google books for friendship bracelets, 121,000 for baseball cards.)It's very difficult to get an article beyond stub status without there being sources. Escapepea (talk) 20:05, 4 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
What has gender to do with being an editor, in the sense that there is nothing loaded against or for a particular gender. Perhaps there are less women here as there are fewer pilots or sailors or presidents ...Yogesh Khandke (talk) 08:43, 5 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I reject the notion that Wikipedia has an "unwelcoming climate". If anything, the culture at Wikipedia is very friendly compared to other places. Those who translate the natural conflict that arises on a collaborative effort into there being an unwelcoming climate have unrealistic expectations of the world. Conflict is going to arise on a project like Wikipedia. I have noticed no gender discrimination on Wikipedia. If there are a dearth of female editors, it's because women themselves are not electing to become editors. The explanation for that could be as simple as women don't find the idea of Wikipedia as interesting as men. I find it somewhat offensive for people to imply that a "male-dominated culture" is responsible for the lack of women, implying in a way that the men are systematically excluding women. That is untrue. The Wikipedians mentioned in the article need to stop pointing fingers at the "male community" and blaming them for the lack of women and start asking women to contribute. Jason Quinn (talk) 15:51, 7 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
(e/c) There's not just a gender gap, there's stereotyping. Who says female editors would choose to write about friendship bracelets?! I'm a long-term female editor and the majority of the two dozen articles I've written are on species and architecture. Oh, sorry, was I supposed to write about something "feminine"? Way to pigeon-hole and devalue all of the women in science and engineering contributing to WP now. Maedin\talk 15:58, 7 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Excellent point... for a girl! (that was a joke, btw) You are completely correct. The article does stereotype. One of the other things that bothered me about the New York Times article was when it used the smallness of the Mexican feminist writer's category to the largeness of the Simpson's category as evidence of some bias against women. As a long-time Wikipedian, that statement alone showed me that the author had developed nothing but a superficial understanding of this issue. Wikipedia does exhibit a very pronounced pop-culture bias, which is perhaps best illustrated by the Simpson's articles. To use the example that they did, proves to me that the author was unaware of the pop-culture bias. In my opinion, if someone cannot recognize that, their "insight" into a deeper issue such as the existence of a gender bias is kind of worthless to me. Jason Quinn (talk) 16:22, 7 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
"Public Health" call to action

I wanted to be upset about this, but I read the paper and it's not bad really. The title is misleading. It's not really "promoting" any kind of "public health" system, it's just talking about adding medical knowledge to Wikipedia. They could have picked a less political sounding title. Gigs (talk) 14:34, 1 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]

I don't think "public health" means what you think it means. Powers T 22:28, 1 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Oh I'm well familiar with the healthist movement to attempt to control everyone's lives in the name of "public health". Gigs (talk) 16:17, 2 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Regardless of the existence of such a movement, that's not what "public health" usually refers to. It's primarily educational and statistical rather than addressing the controversial economic and labor issues you highlight. The title was perfectly accurate. Powers T 16:28, 2 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
As most of the authors are not American we where unaware of this local political meaning. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 18:21, 3 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]
It's not an American political term anyway. Gigs seems to have it confused with the "public option". Or single-payer health care. Powers T 23:59, 3 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]

At first glance I'm a bit uneasy about Qwiki's license compliance - it seems that they take wikipedia CC-BY-SA text & images and package them into a proprietary flash file, replacing links with qwiki links and adding an automated audio recording, and then claim that this usage is a "collection" of material and therefore that only the text is available under a creative commons license but the actual "qwiki's" are copyrighted to their company tivoizing the creative commons content. To me what they are doing seems much closer to adapting or modifying wikipedia content (which would trigger the share-alike clause in the license and license every qwiki that incorporates wikipedia content under a creative commons license. An interesting license question to look at, certainly becuase if there is not sufficient "newness" in what qwiki is don'g to creative a derivative work, then what are they claiming copyright on (random thoughts not a considered opinion). Ajbpearce (talk) 13:51, 3 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Good thoughts, and worth examining, regardless of whatever conclusions anyone comes to. My own current brainstormed reply on the topic is that a Wikimedia analog of any good pedagogical repackaging concept like Qwiki should always be built soon after the concept proves viable. A (seems-to-me-related) example: Youtube was the first on the scene to successfully bring crowdsourced video clips to the masses in a DIY read/write format; but Wikicommons was soon extended to become a Wikimedia alternative (regardless of the fact that Youtube remains the top instance and largest draw in most people's minds). Youtube is welcome to retain the commercial kingpin position, but the important thing is that someone who wants to share a video has an option to do it through a Wikimedia site, and that site is popular enough not to be obscure, so there's a decent chance of having thousands of viewers click on it. I see the same thing for Qwiki. Additionally, I realize that some obstacles exist: (1) Some repackaging tools take money to build, and Wikimedia tends to be low on capital—but there are some potential ways to address that through endowments; and (2) at some point the "Wikimedia analog" idea could run into a patent roadblock; but my answer to that, off the top of my head, is that Wikimedia should say to the patent holder, "Either you make some room for us in this sphere (i.e., come to a decent patent licensing agreement), or we pull out the knives on enforcing our content licensing terms, in which case your business may be SOL for using the crowdsourced content that it relies on." I.e., "Win-win or nothing, you pick; we won't accept win-lose." I don't know, this is all off the top of my head. — ¾-10 16:27, 5 February 2011 (UTC)[reply]


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