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Education minister's speech copied from Wikipedia; Jimmy Wales interviewed; brief news
Education minister's speech copied from Wikipedia
A speech given in the UK House of Commons by British further education minister John Henry Hayes was largely copied from Wikipedia, according to a detailed comparison by ePolitix.com. Hayes was responding on behalf of the government to a private member's bill to create an additional bank holiday, and numerous sentences in his speech correspond almost verbatim to parts of the article Bank holiday. ePolitix noted that the speech was given on a Friday, where attendance in parliament is usually very low, and mentioned the minister's remark that the particular section of the speech had been prepared for him to read out, but nevertheless called the incident "not exactly a glowing example for students", pointing out that Hayes "is an honorary member of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers".
Jimmy Wales profiled by USA Today and Chicago Sun-Times
Last week, Jimmy Wales was interviewed by USA Today ("Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales takes wiki work seriously"). Among other things, the paper noted his recent editing about current events, having been the Wikipedian who moved Catherine Middleton to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge during the British royal wedding ("Yes, I am just that big a Wikipedia geek that I was waiting with my finger on the mouse button..."); however, another Wikipedian overtook Wales in updating Wikipedia with the death of Osama bin Laden.
The Chicago Sun-Times's profile of Jimmy Wales ("Wikipedia still ad-free at 10") focused on financial aspects: "Wales splits his time between London and Florida and says he earns a living by making speeches to industry groups and schools." The newspaper quoted an online marketing consultant who estimated that Wikipedia is foregoing at least "$1 billion" in advertising revenue but added "that's good. There should be some places online without ads."
- 3% of scientists edited their Wikipedia article: A Nature poll revealed "how researchers guard, and sometimes burnish, their online image", including the fact that "Nearly 3% of respondents had edited their own Wikipedia biographies", and several of them started them themselves, or "or edited entries to include references to their own papers." Among other scientists, the Nature article cites Wikipedia administrator Darren Logan, a gene researcher at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
- Wikipedia as a force for British punctuation: A Slate article on "the rise of 'logical punctuation'. [sic]" (the practice of placing commas and periods outside of quotation marks instead of inside) called Wikipedia "by far the biggest fount" of the practice today. As opposed to many professionally edited publications in the US, Wikipedia's Manual of Style explicitly endorses logical punctuation "because it is deemed by Wikipedia consensus to be more in keeping with the principle of minimal change" (of quotes, compared to the original).
- Impact of Google Doodles: US public relations blogger Steve Rubel examined the effect of three recent Google Doodles on web traffic using the example of Wikipedia, with help from the Wikipedia page view statistics tool by User:Henrik at http://stats.grok.se/. For example, the article on English child book illustrator Roger Hargreaves received 1.9 million views when he was featured as a Doodle on May 9, compared to 3,500 article views during the entire month of April. (Also, the "Wikitrends" tool listed the article as the number one uptrend for last week.) Last year, a list of the five articles which had received the highest hourly hit rates between January and July 2010 had included one which was connected to a Google Doodle (Signpost coverage).
- Controversial PR company reworks its Wikipedia article: After PR firm Burson-Marsteller was recently exposed as having been employed by Facebook to plant negative media stories about Facebook's rival Google, a blogger noted that the Wikipedia article about Burson-Marsteller had recently been extensively reworked by an editor self-identifying as working for the company, asserting that this "violates Wikipedia's internal regulations. And stinks to high heaven." The blogger somewhat inaccurately claimed that all information about the company's former controversial clients (such as the Argentine dictatorship of the 1970s and chemical company Union Carbide after the Bhopal disaster) had been removed. The user working for Burson-Marsteller also requested help on dealing with critical edits to the article made after last week's revelations concerning Facebook.
- Foundation co-sponsors data visualization award: The WikiSym organizers have announced the "WikiViz 2011 Data Visualization Challenge", co-organized with the Wikimedia Foundation (one of the conference's Premium sponsors) "to create the most insightful visualization of open collaboration data" under a free license.
- Jimmy Wales: UK enforcement of celebrities' privacy is "human rights violation": In the recent debate in the UK about several superinjunctions (prohibiting the publication of certain statements about several celebrities in the UK and the reporting about these prohibitions themselves) and attempts to use Wikipedia to circumvent them (Signpost coverage: "Administrators removing material that violates UK legal injunctions"), Jimmy Wales spoke out on the BBC last week, calling the superinjunctions "ridiculous" (audio recording, around 0:28:00, available online until May 18, BBC online summary: "Wikipedia boss Jimmy Wales criticises injunctions"). He explained that the information was being removed from Wikipedia due to its policy on reliable sources and noted that the WMF was based in the US and subject to US law - "that doesn't mean that we don't take into consideration laws of other places, but in the end of the day, it is US law that we follow". Emphasizing he was merely formulating his personal opinion, he criticized the superinjunctions, and more generally all privacy laws which restrain the publication of "legally obtained, truthful, factual information about public figures" (with the possible exception of cases where lives are directly endangered) as "grave injustices" and "human rights violations". Asked by the interviewer "if someone wanted to publish something that is truthful about your sex life or your private life, would that be OK?", Wales replied that there was a difference between being "OK" and being legal, and that there was a lot of unsavory reporting by newspapers which should nevertheless not be subject to state intervention.