In a well-timed coincidence for this issue, an Australian Broadcasting Corporation Op-Ed by Nicholas Agar asked "Could ads turn Wikipedians into Facebook content moderators?". Agar, a professor of ethics, notes that with the wrong policies around content monetization, the Wikimedia Foundation could "turn Wikipedia into just another tech business using its vast store of data to pursue profit". He recommends the Foundation "ask for help, not money"... – B, J
The BBC investigated how well internet search engines were working in Russia. Yandex has 65% of the market in Russia, followed by Google with 35%. The BBC used a virtual private network (VPN) to view search results for both search engines on controversial topics to make it appear that the search requests originated in Russia. They also used the VPN to give the origin as the UK for Google requests. All requests were typed in Russian. For example, they searched for Bucha, the Ukrainian town where hundreds of civilians were killed during the current war. Yandex search results predominantly gave links to sites following the Russian government's viewpoint. "Glimpses of independent reporting only occasionally appeared in Yandex search results with links to Wikipedia articles or YouTube." Google searches originating in Russia were a bit better, and Google searches originating in the UK gave a full range of viewpoints, even with the search requests typed in Russian. – S
Many have told the tale of the dramatic flameout of Sam Bankman-Fried's cryptocurrency exchange FTX and sister company Alameda Research, following a series of boneheaded moves that require a couple of whiteboards to explain in full detail. Suffice it to say that there was a bunch of money, and now there isn't.
In a Washington Post article titled "The do-gooder movement that shielded Sam Bankman-Fried from scrutiny", Nitasha Tiku claims that his lost fortune may have been built – at least in part – on his connections in the effective altruism (EA) community. Bankman-Fried's net worth was estimated at $15.6 billion in early November. The bankruptcy of his cryptocurrency firms, and the devaluation of his own securities, is expected to leave him with a net worth estimated at jack shit, and one million unpaid creditors. Yowza! Tiku went further to say that there was an "EA group devoted to writing Wikipedia articles about EA"; it's unclear whether this refers to off-wiki coordination, or merely to the existence of a legitimate EA WikiProject on the English Wikipedia. – S, B, JPxG
The BBC has published an in-depth article and radio programme about the Alan MacMasters toaster hoax, featuring interviews with the protagonists as well as Heather Ford (see Book review in this issue). "How did this hoaxer get away with it for so long? And how did an eagle-eyed 15-year-old eventually manage to expose his deception?" (See also prior Signpost coverage in August's In the media, titled "Alan MacMasters did not invent the electric toaster".) – B