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."
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.
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 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.
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