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Academic contributions; Jimmy Wales weighs in on murder trial controversy; brief news

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By Tom Morris and Tilman Bayer
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The full quotation from Wales on the checkuser point is "I just now personally ran checkuser and found nothing; I invite more experienced checkusers to follow up on my exploration. I am merely raising questions, not putting forward conclusions - at this time." so it was maybe a bit unfair to quote only the first bit? Tom B (talk) 11:38, 5 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Every time Jimbo Wales opens his mouth, something bad happens or something that's already bad gets worse. On top of that, he's a polarizing figure on Wikipedia, with some people of the strong opinion he should stay active and others (full disclaimer, I am one of these) that believe he needs to retire from any active participation at this site. These articles about Jimbo getting involved in things just pisses me off, (although it's not the articles' or writers' fault there.) Sven Manguard Wha? 20:20, 5 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]
That's a legitimate question to ask, and I did consider including the full quote. But I don't think the current wording misrepresents what he said: That he was "merely raising questions, not putting forward conclusions" is summarized appropriately in "Questioned". In any case, the diff for the full statement is linked. Note: As I understand the four users who reacted to this (see also), they were not defending the block itself, merely pointing out that the Checkuser evidence quoted by Wales as the basis for his "concern" about the block was meaningless (for the blocked account, it most likely consisted of a blank page). Regards, HaeB (talk) 15:58, 6 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I found it disturbing that he'd made such a mistake in the "forensic evidence". I'm not sure what to derive from that, but it seemed very ironic. -- Seth Finkelstein (talk) 23:10, 6 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]

"Wikipedia wants more contributions from academics" -- Is that an April Fool's joke? The Spirit of Neutrality and Truth (talk) 15:32, 6 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Well, some of us would like to see that. Unfortunately they either start their edits in the areas where their would-be supporters don't watch, or there is some failure in communicating with them. The failure is not always on the Wikipedia side. -- llywrch (talk) 16:15, 6 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]
llywrch, speaking as a bona-fide expert in certain topics, Wikipedia doesn't want to grapple with the absurd expectation that experts should congenially debate endlessly with cranks and status-gamers. It's not worth it. -- Seth Finkelstein (talk) 23:10, 6 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Most Wikipedians don't want to debate endlessly with cranks & status-gamers either; but I don't see how your comment relates to my point. My point is that in this case, there is enough blame to go around. Some experts come to Wikipedia with the expectation that their titles & CV should be sufficient to carry any argument, but problems with confirming both credentials & identity inevitably result in disappointment -- sometimes to the dismay & shock of all involved. Or are you saying that there are no arrogant academics in the world? -- llywrch (talk) 22:32, 7 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]
I'd say that's deflecting from an analysis of Wikipedia's institutional dysfunction vis-a-vis academics by trying to shift the focus onto the other side's supposed failings - roughly the "so-fix-it" defense writ large. -- Seth Finkelstein (talk) 00:55, 8 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Certainly there are two sides to the issue. What bothers me is the commonly held presumption that people with expertise will show the behavior that Llywrch describes. Yes, it happens sometimes. I think the more serious problem is the radical egalitarianism that sees expertise as fundamentally incompatible with "the encyclopedia that anyone can edit." The Spirit of Neutrality and Truth (talk) 01:58, 8 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]
In praise of… academic Wikipedians, Editorial The Grauniad, Wednesday 6 April 2011.
Floydian Slip? The Wikimedia SURVEY: Expert barriers to Wikipedia reminds me of the extraordinary expertise shown by some politically committed non-experts in erecting barriers, indeed barricades, against any well informed input. Perhaps the survey was intended to invite comment on barriers deterring experts from contributing to Wikipedia, but that ain't what the title says. . . dave souza, talk 17:28, 8 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]
The Grauniad article is interesting, and the comments especially so: Wikipedia's dirty little secrets appear finally to be getting out. The Spirit of Neutrality and Truth (talk) 17:53, 8 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]
Oddly enough, I came across this whole discussion by looking for the editorial concerned as it's referred to in a letter in today's Graun by academics involved in the History & Policy website who tried adding to Wikipedia articles relevent references to articles on their site, and having found a significant increase in visitors to their site from Wikipedia, intend to continue. The signatories are Virginia Berridge, Alastair Reid and Simon Szreter, so hope their expert input is welcomed. . . dave souza, talk 18:39, 8 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]
SBHB (if he doesn't interpret my avoiding his nom de jour as outing him) understands my point -- although I've never met Randy in Boise, & were I to, I'd find it difficult not to use my Admin bit to uninvite him from Wikipedia. (But I wonder if critics like Seth Finkelstein would then criticize my use of those privileges.) Some experts come to Wikipedia as if it were one thing, when they might have amazing success were they to present themselves as one individual addressing several: make their arguments without appealing to authority & just let the facts & sources speak for themselves.

The problem I have with many criticisms of Wikipedia is that they envision it as one thing, which does not match the reality. On the other hand Wikipedia's advocates routinely oversell its virtues -- entranced that a group of strangers could possibly collaborate on a single goal -- when it does have a number of serious flaws. Meanwhile people like me -- & I assume SBHB & Dave souza, too -- are frustrated that we cannot find anyone to take our criticisms seriously, which are based on experience.

I believe I can say that Wikipedia is at least as good as Encyclopaedia Britannica without it sounding like empty bluster -- but saying that is not the high bar people might think. From my research, I would say that EB is not as reliable or accurate as people might think, & for the better part of a century it has rested on its laurels. So Wikipedia could be better than EB -- yet still not be as useful as an ideal encyclopedia would be. Now I believe that Wikipedia could achieve a level of quality closer to that ideal encyclopedia than other encyclopedias in the last 100 years, but it would require better leadership than what I've seen so far. Then again, these folks probably aren't any worse than the average university president or museum head. -- llywrch (talk) 21:17, 8 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]

Regarding "In the news..." did people catch the April 5, 2011 episode of "The Good Wife" on CBS where two lawyers are discussing the meaning of life upon the death of their partner and they conclude that after you die all that is left is your Wikipedia biography? Racepacket (talk) 15:59, 6 April 2011 (UTC)[reply]


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