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In the media

CBS on COVID-19, Sanger on bias, false noses, and five prolific editors

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By Smallbones, Lane Rasberry, and Indy beetle

CBS and COVID-19 coverage

Toxic behavior

Badly biased

Despite promising to be "finished with Wikipedia criticism" in 2013 Larry Sanger's blog post of May 14 titled Wikipedia Is Badly Biased claims that "Wikipedia's NPOV is dead". "The notion that we should avoid 'false balance' is directly contradictory to the original neutrality policy. As a result, even as journalists turn to opinion and activism, Wikipedia now touts controversial points of view on politics, religion, and science."

Fox News reported that Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger says online encyclopedia scrapped neutrality, favors lefty politics on May 22, giving an accurate summary of Sanger's blog post.

Gerard Baker, former editor-in-chief of The Wall Street Journal wrote in The Times "Big tech is blatantly biased against Trump" (paywall), lumping in Wikipedia with all the big tech social media platforms, based on Sanger's blog.

False noses in France

A plague of faux nez (aka false noses or sockpuppets) has been reported by Le Monde in France as hundreds of accounts have been blocked by French Wikipedia admins for undeclared paid editing. Other coverage of the story is reported in Numerama, FranceInter, and La Reclame aka The Advertisement – all in French. The Signpost covers the story (in English) at News & notes.

The five editors with the most edits

Online magazine ZME Science highlighted the 5 most prolific contributors on enWiki as ranked on WP:List of Wikipedians by number of edits. ZME relied on information from user pages and other Wikipedia pages as well as on previously published interviews from other publications. The Signpost asked these editors for their reaction to the article and a few related questions. The prolific five are:

was widely covered in the press in 2018-2019 and feels that ZME got his story mostly right. But he no longer has the sideburns that show in the photo and he has changed his place of employment to another government agency. The quantity and quality of edits are both important in his opinion, but quantity is not the most important aspect of editing. Quantity of edits might be a good starting point in discussing what editors do, but "hopefully that can lead to a broader, richer, and deeper discussion of the Wikipedia experience." His favorite article contributions are Pohick Church, which recently was rated a Good Article, and Fanny Eckerlin, an Italian opera singer.
has also been widely covered in the press, starting in 2012 when he made his one-millionth edit. The information ZME presented was correct. "I really like the fact that they framed my contributions to the site in terms of something that anyone can do, which is what I believe. There are some things I have done that not everyone can do but nothing that only I could do and everyone can do something (including many things that I can't)." He and the other four editors at the top of the list have all had some contact, but nothing out of the ordinary. "All five of us are fairly different human beings who have at least one common interest." His favorite contributions were to the article George Orwell bibliography.
was "saddened by the poor quality" of the article. The author "paid no attention to the caveat lector section of that page, which explains the multiple ways in which a high edit count is a poor indication of the value of an editor's contribution." She believes that all five editors' high edit counts are "due to a focus on repetitive maintenance work," but that writing articles and lists such as her creations James Balfour (died 1845), William Grant, Lord Grant, and List of women cabinet ministers of the Republic of Ireland add more to the encyclopedia than a similar number of maintenance edits.
has had good interactions with all four of the other editors mentioned in the article. He considers quantity vs. quality to be a false dichotomy. Rather "many small pieces of quality versus fewer large pieces is a better question. And the truth is that it is easier to deliver some types of quality in small increments." His favorite contributions include Whittington's Longhouse and the Industrial Christian Home for Polygamous Wives.
says that ZME accurately summed up his user page and that Wikipedia's "goal is quality, but in quantity". The five prolific editors are similar because "you have to be in a certain socioeconomic and educational space to be someone who has the time, the resources, and the motivation to rack up that number of edits, so we are all that." His favorite contribution by far is Demographics of the Supreme Court of the United States. Other favorites include Scholar, Hesitation and Please.

In brief

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Great Russia Encyclopedia was an obvious scam to grab some state money. All Russian encyclopedias and dictionaries are online already. It only remains to write a bot to aggregate all in one and keep a maintenance crew. But I am sure there was lots of politics and academic burocrats to grab a piece of pie as "scientific consultants" Staszek Lem (talk) 05:54, 1 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Equally importantly, Chekists simply don't need to waste any time or money building any new zones to flood with shit, because the world already offers them many existing zones to flood and doesn't bother to be wary of the flooding, not duly understanding that "the history of our sewage disposal system" hasn't ended but only evolved into another era. Karmanatory (talk) 01:51, 3 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Well, their idea was to combat anglosaxon shit (in their understanding). And I do not know many zones for their shit besides a couple govt-owned media. Dont tell me about utube : the amount of shit there overfloods the russian one big time. Staszek Lem (talk) 04:00, 3 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
You don't know what "flodding the zone" refers to. It means pumping massive disinformation flow into existing zones of public discourse. Here are some explanations: [1], [2] Karmanatory (talk) 13:29, 16 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Sanger is actually a sad case. Besides the obvious blinkers on his choice of topics, with a narrow focus on US current affairs and its concerns, his piece shows a clear ignorance of WP:SUMMARY and its effects. Summary style has been around since 2004 (some time after Sanger left WP) and to call the top-level Hillary Clinton article a whitewash because controversies are detailed in articles hanging off it is to miss the point entirely. That approach is not "bias": it is encyclopedic, and conflating its effects with issues of prominence is barking up the wrong tree. Charles Matthews (talk) 06:46, 1 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Summary style certainly does come with its issues, and certainly it could be tweaked to mitigate the issues re prominence/"buried" info, but it's just not viable these days (indeed, 2004 would make sense, since it hasn't been for a very long time). Nosebagbear (talk)
As I've commented elsewhere, Sanger needs to forget about Wikipedia & move on with his life. I used to think of him (better analogy than another I've mentioned) of being Wikipedia's Pete Best, but time & again his efforts to prove he knew better than anyone here how to create an encyclopedia have failed. An uncharitable person might say that Wikipedia succeeded because he wasn't involved any longer. And with those words, I hereby promise not to discuss the man again. -- llywrch (talk) 18:29, 1 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
His partnering up with Everipedia, where you can pay to have your preferred version of an article protected, is really what did it for me. He is "correct" about bias issues, but he has no leg to stand on in terms of his personal credibility. -Indy beetle (talk) 03:12, 2 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Sanger is not disclosing his own bias and his vested interests in that article. That's its major flaw.--Pgallert (talk) 07:49, 2 June 2020 (UTC)[reply]


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