The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has continued to crack down on freedom of expression and association. The authorities arbitrarily detained scores of individuals they suspected of links to domestic and international Islamist groups. Court convicted dissidents after unfair trials. The UAE made no reforms to a system that facilitates the forced labor of migrant workers.
The Daily Dot highlighted criticism from some editors, including one who identified themselves as Emirati, directed at Wales for accepting money from the UAE. Following the criticism, Wales pledged that "Every penny of the money will be used to combat human rights abuses worldwide with a specific focus on the Middle East." He did note that his actions were not in response to the criticism because "I started the process from the moment I was told about the prize."
This echoes prior criticism of Wales for his alleged links with the government of Kazakhstan (see previous Signpostcoverage), criticism which was reiterated during the talk page discussion. Wales wrote that this was "total and utter and complete bullshit. I have no past connection of any kind to the Kazakh dictatorship."
Sanger launches a "Wikipedia for news"
Newsweekreports (December 16) on Larry Sanger's new project Infobitt, which promises to be a "Wikipedia for news". The users of the crowdsourced website supply a collection of facts, each a sentence long and taken from published news articles, for each story called a "bitt". Users then vote on how to rank each fact within the bitt and the importance of each bitt.
During an AMA, a question and answer forum on the social media website Reddit, Sanger wrote:
Because pieces of content are one sentence long, it becomes possible to simply ask the community which of competing sentences should be displayed and what order they should be in. This completely sidesteps the interminable edit warring of Wikipedia.
He also wrote of his hopes that Infobitt would channel the impulses of information seeking in a way that would produce reliable news content:
Infobitt will fill a universal need, or desire, to get caught up with the news very fast. We'll make it possible to get caught up five times as fast as you could before. You'll be rushing to Infobitt to include the latest news in the way you now do on Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit. We'll also finally give the long tail of citizen journalism a route whereby it can make it onto the front page of a hard news site.
Boredom, forever: The Washington Post (December 16) reports on a bot created by artist and programmer Darius Kazemi called Content, Forever. Inspired by the television documentary Connections, the bot automatically generates an article on a particular topic by copying Wikipedia text from the article on that topic and from other articles linked to in the original one. Kazemi's bot echoes pieces of meandering, poorly-written media content on platforms like Medium.