For US$1,000 annual fee, new website publishes corrections to coverage on Wikipedia and elsewhere
"ICorrect", a new website that calls itself "the first website to correct permanently any lies, misinformation and misrepresentations that permeate in cyberspace", explains its raison d'être as follows: "So far, the likes of Wikipedia and Google searches consist entirely of hearsays. ICorrect uniquely provides 'words from the horses mouth'." Founded by Hong Kong businessman and socialite David Tang, it allows people and companies to permanently host correction statements they wish to make (after verifying their identity), for an annual membership fee of US $1,000 for individuals and US $5,000 for companies (a few days earlier, the individuals' price was reported as US $1,500). A blog post from The Daily Telegraph commented sarcastically: "Sir David’s absolute masterstroke is that he’s charging his pals $1,000 a year for the right to use the site. Wiki-ching! So that’s how you get rich." Tang's own corrections include The Mail on Sunday's claim that "David Tang is a creep": "This is greatly exaggerated".
At the time of writing, the majority of the listed corrections appear to concern tabloids and other traditional media, and impersonations on Twitter and Facebook. One of the complaints concerning Wikipedia was made by John Bond (currently chairman of Vodafone, prompting a blogger to mock him as "the man who paid £600 to edit his Wikipedia entry", pointing out that the article was freely editable and that the mistakes stated by Bond hadn't even been fixed yet - User:Whitepaw did so later, citing Bond's ICorrect statement as a reference. Likewise, the articles about Eugene Shvidler  and Anouska Hempel   have already been changed according to their complaints, while the correction filed by Hempel's husband Mark Weinberg does not seem to have had an effect yet. Andrew Knight (director of News Corporation) filed a tongue-in-cheek "correction" stating: "My Wikipedia entry is anodyne and largely accurate. ... Never mind, let's keep it that way".
Questioned in an interview on Sky News about how ICorrect.com would avoid spreading libel and misinformation itself, Tang admitted that the site "does not set out to police the veracity of people's corrections - we are not in a position to do that".
US psychological society starts Wikipedia initiative
Last month, the Association for Psychological Science followed up on a call to its members to edit Wikipedia from December with a more detailed call to action, involving its own online platform for the "APS Wikipedia Initiative". Informed by discussions with the Wikimedia Foundation, it aims to "provide the smoothest possible entry into the process of creating and editing Wikipedia articles". One suggestion is for professors to include the writing of Wikipedia articles in their coursework, similar to the model of the Foundation's Public Policy Initiative. The association "will recognize exceptional contributions and the articles that have improved because of APSWI volunteerism". One blogger voiced concern "that by calling 'experts' to systematically create and update Wikipedia entries, we run the risk of spilling academic debates into a different forum that lacks the checks and balances in academia." See also Signpost coverage of a similar call from the American Psychological Association, likewise issued in December.
- Illinois locals scrutinize Wikipedia coverage: Hilary Gowins has a somewhat critical piece on Wikipedia and local history in the Northwest Herald, a newspaper covering McHenry County, Illinois. It asks a number of mayors and local officials what they think of the Wikipedia articles about their towns and villages. The mayor of Crystal Lake, Illinois believes that the entry pays too much attention to a purported controversy over the hosting of the rowing event in the 2006 Gay Games, while the mayor of Ringwood, Illinois noted that the article on neighboring Johnsburg, Illinois stated that Johnsburg had attempted to annex Ringwood. Following publication, the Johnsburg, Illinois article was updated. The Herald article then goes on to quote a psychology instructor and a number of local historians critical of Wikipedia's open editing. Nancy Fike from the Crystal Lake Historical Society was quoted as saying: "I blame Dr. Spock, Sesame Street and McDonald’s hamburgers. The mentality these days is that if I can’t get what I want in less than 15 minutes, then I don’t want it."
- Student newspaper defends Wikipedia: An op-ed in the student newspaper of Mississippi State University argues that Wikipedia is better than some of its academic critics make out, asking academics to "give it a chance" and states that "Wikipedia is essentially the chapter summary or the SparkNotes of everything we want to know about ideas in our life".
- Categories visualized: A submission to Scimaps.org visually compares Wikipedia's category structure to the Universal Decimal Classification.
- Rise in popularity in India on mobile: Wikipedia has placed fifth on a listing of the most popular websites for users of the Opera Mini browser in India in January 2011. Wikipedia's position in the chart has risen from number eight in December 2010, and is currently only beaten by Google, Facebook, YouTube and Orkut. (Opera Mini is a tiny browser used for older handsets. Unlike modern smartphone browsers, it takes web pages that are requested, loads them on a proxy server owned by Opera Software and then delivers a binary object to the phone to display, with images pre-compressed. It is marketed for phones that are lower-end or on less reliable connections.)
- Animated revision history: Wikipedia researcher Paolo Massa has made a video showing the revision history of the article 7 July 2005 London bombings during the first few hours after the event, describing it as an "example of history unfolding under your eyes as it develops, of how people create their collective memories in real time" (the page had been started just 28 minutes after the first explosion). In 2005, blogger Jon Udell had made a similar screencast based on the revision history of the article heavy metal umlaut, see Signpost coverage.
- Demise of "crowdsourcing" predicted: In an opinion article, John R. Quain predicts a decline of content created by unpaid volunteers on the web ("'Crowdsourcing' powers sites like The Huffington Post and Wikipedia. But not for much longer"). He claims that "readers increasingly regard such sites as notoriously inaccurate, irrelevant and generally suspect", in the case of Wikipedia observing the fact that "company profiles in Wikipedia may be written by the business' own PR department." On the writer's side, he fears "an even more threatening groundswell", as "some of the unpaid, unappreciated volunteers supplying all this free content are going on strike. Many have become disillusioned with others taking credit for their work. Some have simply become bored (witness the decline in the number of volunteer editors working on Wikipedia). ..." The article (which for the time being is available without charge on Foxnews.com) concluded by stating that "free information" is a "fallacy" which "violates the basic principles upon which our entire economy and culture is based."
- Sue Gardner shapes IT: Sue Gardner has been named as one of "5 Women Leaders Who Are Shaping IT" by PCWorld.
- Professional society calls to mitigate US bias on Wikipedia: In a press release titled "CIOB calls on construction professionals to challenge Wikipedia definition", the Chartered Institute of Building (a professional association in the UK) asked people involved in construction management to improve the term's "narrow US definition on Wikipedia", proposing a wider definition itself. "Too often we let others inaccurately describe us when we should be setting them straight. ... We have a long way to go but we're starting with Wikipedia and we invite anyone involved in CM to look at the Wiki and question whether this describes what they do". The Institute said that its own attempts "to widen Wikipedia's own US focused definition have so far been unsuccessful."
- PR sockpuppets: In a blog post titled "Koch Industries Employs PR Firm To Airbrush Wikipedia, Gets Banned For Unethical ‘Sock Puppets’", US political blog Think Progress reported on editing activities related to the Koch brothers (ANI discussion).
- Baseball star inaccurately blames Wikipedia for inaccuracies: US baseball star C. J. Wilson recently criticized a portrait of him in Sports Illustrated, claiming it contained many inaccuracies: "The [SI writer] spent a couple days with me, which is why it's surprising, but other than that, he just went on Wikipedia, looked up some stuff and just copy and pasted it." However, none of the statements he named as inaccuracies appear to be contained in the current version of the Wikipedia article, or its recent history (back to June 2010). According to Yahoo! news, Sports Illustrated is standing by the story.
- Term for editability wanted: In a recent edition of his SPARC Open Access Newsletter, open access advocate Peter Suber presented answers to his question about a good term for a wiki's "openness to edits" (as opposed to "open access", denoting openness to reading), by Larry Sanger and Wikipedia researcher Joseph Reagle.
- Wikipedia's earthquake coverage commended: Wikipedia's strength in covering current major events was highlighted by several notable commenters following the 2011 Sendai earthquake and tsunami. Doc Searls recommended the Wikipedia article as one of the three "best portable media to keep up with it". Oscar Swartz , Harvard University's Nieman Labs  and Dan Gillmor likewise commented favorably. In a bulletin about the related accidents in Japanese nuclear power stations, the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety quoted reports by the responsible company "as well as various press agencies and Wikipedia" about the failure of an emergency cooling system.
Note: Partly due to the events in Japan, this week's "WikiProject Report", which was scheduled to feature WikiProject Japan, has been postponed.