Saving Wikipedia; Internet regulation; Thoreau quote hoax: Time profiles Lila Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, and paints a grim picture of the challenges faced by Tretikov and the encyclopedia.
Timeprofiles (April 14) Lila Tretikov, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation. Time paints a grim picture of the challenges faced by Tretikov and the encyclopedia, many of which were discussed in a recent Signpost's special report: a "meager annual budget", the gender gap, "critical gaps in coverage" (such as the Global South), the shrinking ranks of active editors, and the lack of contributions from those who access Wikipedia content through mobile devices, search engines, and personal digital assistants. Time speculates that Wikipedia could contract suddenly, with something similar to the almost 25% dropoff in active editors on the Italian Wikipedia in 2013, or dwindle gradually, a possibility that Andrew Lih (Fuzheado) compared to "the boiling frogs scenario". William Beutler (WWB), author of the blog The Wikipedian, told Time "I do not envy Lila Tretikov’s position."
Time outlined efforts by Tretikov and the WMF to address these issues, such as the Inspire Campaign and Wikipedia Zero. Time wrote that "Tretikov is focusing the Foundation’s limited resources on how readers and editors use the site," including gathering data about user preferences, increasing the number of WMF engineers, and improving and creating editing software like mobile apps.
Time notes that some of these efforts have brought the WMF into conflict with the editing community, especially the controversy involving Media Viewer (see previous Signpostcoverage). Time highlighted a comment on the German Wikipedia from the controversy: “I want victory over the WMF. I want the WMF to shudder when they remember this case.”
Tretikov said to Time that “It’s not realistic to have everybody always in the boat with you,” which may sound ominous to those who wish the WMF to be more responsive to active editors, who Time writes "seem to have divergent views about almost everything." Beutler summed up his view of the problem for Time:
The Wikipedia community is full of old timers who are used to getting their way and don’t like things changing, and I think it’s important that the community always be forced to rethink, is Wikipedia everything that it can be right now?
Wikipedians offer libertarian perspectives on Internet regulation
In order to protect the most fundamental rights of Internet users, we must always be skeptical of any call for regulation. Current regulation must also be carefully and durably observed for any unnoticed expansion of its implementation. The Big Brother will always want to collect more information about us in order to gain power and control. We should not make it easy on him.
Godwin opposes "net-neutrality absolutists" who are concerned that "zero-rated services", such as Wikipedia Zero, which are free of mobile usage charges, have troubling implications for net neutrality. He argues that "In the long run, increased demand and increased capacity, together with the free informational resources that Wikipedia and its sibling projects provide, will promote increased Internet access in the developing world."
Thoreau also wore a neck-beard for many years, which he insisted many women found attractive. However, Louisa May Alcott reportedly mentioned to Emerson that Thoreau's facial hair "will most assuredly deflect amorous advances and preserve the man's virtue in perpetuity." Thoreau did in fact die a virgin.
Within hours, the edit was removed by an editor asking for a reference. The same day, a reference was duly supplied, to the entirety of the sixteen volume collection The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Another editor removed the final sentence about Thoreau's virginity, thanked the hoaxer for the reference, and asked for "a proper volume/page reference". The hoaxer did not respond and no further action was taken. When the hoaxer attempted to remove their own hoax in April 2008, they were reverted by another editor, who wrote "the information is referenced; if you say it's wrong, prove it." Protected by the faux reference, the hoax remained in the article until it was removed by Mr. Granger in March 2014. During the six years it was on Wikipedia, the fake quote made its way into articles, blogs, speeches, and even quizbowl questions.
There are five “perpetuity”s in the 15 volumes, and definitely none of them are that quote. There are no instances in which “Thoreau” and “beard” appear together, nor any variation of neckbeard. There are only a handful of references to Louisa May Alcott in the set, and none of them are that anecdote. So I think you can consider it conclusively debunked.
West concluded "I hope we’ve all learned something about the nature of online citation and that if you really need to know something for certain, ask a librarian."
British journalist Jon Ronson's March 2015 book So You've Been Publicly Shamed contains a discussion of the online reputation management services provided to one public shaming victim, Lindsey Stone, by Reputation.com. Stone had no Wikipedia presence, but Ronson discussed the work of the company Metal Rabbit with Graeme Wood, who alleged that the Wikipedia article of an unnamed United Nationspeacekeeper was edited by the company. Wood wrote a 2013 article on online reputation management for New York which discusses a Metal Rabbit client called "Chad" (not his real name), who is likely the UN peacekeeper. A 2011 profile in the New York Times of Metal Rabbit and its founder, Bryce Tom, noted that "'On a recent Wednesday afternoon, [Tom] was preparing a briefing for a new client, describing how he would 'fix' Wikipedia and the top search results on various search engines. On the walls of his office were framed copies of Google search results and Wikipedia entries of clients: a reality television star, a movie actress and a chief executive officer. Mr. Tom calls it his “wall of fame.'"