The Signpost

In the media

The past is not even past

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By Bri, Llewee, and Smallbones

December can be a slow month for news, as many journalists repeat the old saw that buying Christmas presents is good for the economy or otherwise promote their advertisers' businesses. We feared that we'd need to fill this space with some boring old history stories. We got history, all right – but it isn't boring. As William Faulkner wrote: "The past is never dead. It's not even past." This month's stories discuss the first edit on Wikipedia, strife over a massive deletion discussion, and even a critic who 17 years ago described Wikipedians as "Khmer Rouge in diapers."

Hello, NFT!?

For sale Sold: one slightly used iMac, see founder for details

Media sources called it the sale of Wikipedia's first edit: Christie's auctioned a non-fungible token (NFT) of an artistic recreation of the Wikipedia website displaying the "Hello, World!" message which co-founder Jimmy Wales entered as the first edit to Wikipedia in January 2001. Wales said he will use the proceeds to support WT.Social or other free culture projects. Also included in the auction was a strawberry colored iMac that Wales used from his home to make other early edits.

Early coverage of the auction quickly mirrored the Christie's announcement. The Verge took its time and featured a good interview with Wales. Slate included in-depth coverage of many community concerns, and performed the invaluable service of defining – as near as humanly possible – what an NFT is. An article by Vice investigated the murky depths of the community's reactions.

See more coverage in this issue's News and Notes. – B, – S

Fast Company on China

Adding to the "Wikimedians of Mainland China" imbroglio that The Signpost has been reporting on since July, Alex Pasternack in Fast Company reports that in 2018, "three WMC members beat up a colleague to deter him and others from breaking the group’s de facto rules. Among other things, the victim had publicly disclosed that police officers had questioned two other WMC members about their Wikipedia work."

Fast Company was not the fastest in covering the story. Slate also had exceptional coverage, as did an article and a video from the BBC. But with more time and a longer article, Fast Company's coverage is more detailed and more comprehensive. There's more information on the physical attack, and longer statements from the WMF's Maggie Dennis. Serious consideration is given on how open Wikipedia is to state-sponsored attacks, and some of our current defenses. – B, – S

Wikipedia meets the history wars

"Comrade Lenin cleanses the earth of filth." Soviet propaganda poster, 1920.

"Wikipedia threatens to purge 'communist mass killings' page, cites anti-communist bias" according to commentary in The Daily Signal, the right-wing news outlet of the Heritage Foundation. The article was reprinted by The Christian Post and other outlets. The op-ed, by Douglas Blair, discusses disputes on the Wikipedia article Mass killings under communist regimes, and notes that the article was recently put up for deletion. Though that discussion is now closed, it continues to be subject to debate about issues such as its neutrality and the reliability of some sources. Blair's view is that "efforts to delete the article represent a dangerous combination of censorship and communist apologia".

Throughout much of the 20th century, large swaths of the world were governed by communist regimes, which advocate for the common ownership of property and industry. Some of the most brutal regimes of the last hundred years were communist. – L, – S

Disclosure – Smallbones voted "Strong keep" at the AfD and has previously edited the article extensively.

Like a beautiful garden with some thorns

In "Education Is Like a Beautiful Garden", The New York Times opinion writer Peter Coy lists his recommended end-of-the-year charitable donations with Wikipedia Foundation as his top choice, followed by Khan Academy, Children International, and the International School for Champions in Kenya.

Coy states that he uses Wikipedia almost every day, and that "The Wikimedia Foundation correctly calls the site 'the largest collection of open knowledge in history.' How cool is that?" He continues with reasons for giving to the WMF:

Although most of what makes Wikipedia work is the free labor, the Wikimedia Foundation needs money for technology and initiatives such as WikiProject Women in Red, WikiGap and AfroCROWD, which aim to create more and better pages by and about women and other underrepresented groups.

While this statement is generally correct, folks from WikiProject Women in Red have noted that their project does not receive direct financial support from the WMF, beyond the WMF paying hosting bills for the website.

In contrast to Coy, Andrew Orlowski presents the WMF as one of the worst causes to donate to. Wokepedia’s greed makes a mockery of the season of giving (paywall) published in The Telegraph (archive), Orlowski insists that the WMF does not need any money because it has ample financial reserves, as well as an endowment fund. His argument reduces to a statement that charities should not raise funds unless they are broke. And why the shrill labeling, "Wokepedia"? Orlowski has been going on like this for a long time. In 2004 he labeled Wikipedians as "Khmer Rouge in diapers." Perhaps he is just offended by the idea of an encyclopedia being given away free to the world. – S

In brief

From brain to Wikipedia
Do us proud, RETRO

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Oh, and how about this diff? {{u|Sdkb}}talk 22:17, 28 December 2021 (UTC)[reply]
  • To be fair to Forbes contributors, that isn’t a WP:FORBESCON post. It’s a labeled paid post from a member of the “Forbes Business Council”, which to the best of my knowledge is handled separately. I think Rolling Stone has a similar program for people who want to pay money to make posts. Not a great look nonetheless. — Mhawk10 (talk) 05:39, 30 December 2021 (UTC)[reply]

"Disclosure – Smallbones voted "Strong keep" at the AfD and has previously edited the article extensively."

Then why have Smallbones involved in writing that small section at all? Seems like the simplest method to avoid bias is to...just not do that? The choice to do so and to include the unnecessary second paragraph of description just makes even the Disclosure look that much worse. SilverserenC 20:06, 30 December 2021 (UTC)[reply]

Writing about topics where you're involved is never preferable, but it's clear that the Signpost is tight on staff. I presume that if someone else had been available to write the blurb, they would've done so, but in the absence of that, a clear and prominent disclosure is the next best thing. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 20:34, 30 December 2021 (UTC)[reply]
But they did. Llewee is listed as having written it too. Why not just have them be the sole contributor to that section and Smallbones bow out of any editor or other involvement with it, considering the bias conflict there? SilverserenC 20:36, 30 December 2021 (UTC)[reply]
So what facts in that section do you dispute? First, while we do always need writers, almost all of our writers are Wikipedians, and should be Wikipedians (with very few exceptions e.g Matt Amodio). So these cases are going to come up, I think what you are objecting to is the idea of balance - but we don't insert non-facts to create a false balance. That would just be lying to our readers. Why do I believe I've struck the right balance here? Well, 6 attempts to delete the article have failed badly. The !votes in this last case were, off the top of my head, 150 to 30 in favor of keep. There appears to be only a small minority of very intensely driven people who want to delete the article, and a large majority who think that mass killings under communist regimes really did happen. With tens of millions of victims. I can't imagine that Wikipedia would delete an article on that topic, any more than I can imagine that we'd delete an article on the Holocost. I won't insert a false balance into a Signpost article anymore than I'd insert a false balance into the article on the Holocost. Smallbones(smalltalk) 05:43, 31 December 2021 (UTC)[reply]
You basically just gave an example here on why you aren't neutral on the topic, so shouldn't have been involved in any writing in the Signpost involving the subject. It is entirely because you aren't an uninvolved party that is the problem and your stance here where you're continuing to relitigate the AfD and even criticizing anyone who didn't have the same opinion as you shows that you in no way are capable of writing a neutral summary on the topic. SilverserenC 05:48, 31 December 2021 (UTC)[reply]
So what facts in that section do you dispute? Why do you think your opinion is more important than 80% of the editors who participated in the last AfD? I'm not re-litigating the AfD - just reporting the news. It's the folks who want to delete that have re-litigated 5 times since their first attempt to delete. Smallbones(smalltalk) 06:07, 31 December 2021 (UTC)[reply]


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