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In the media

UK shad cab bigwig accused of ripping off WP articles for book, Wikipedians accused of being dicks by a rich man

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By Bri, HaeB, Smallbones and JPxG

U.K. Shadow Chancellor accused of plagiarizing Wikipedia in her new book

A black and white line drawing of a pantograph
If copying is this easy, why not?

The Financial Times, in "New book from UK shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves lifts from Wikipedia", accuses Rachel Reeves of wholesale plagiarizing from Wikipedia in The Women Who Made Modern Economics. There were lesser amounts of unattributed copying from The Guardian and several other sources. The Guardian reported that

Basic Books, the publisher, said some sentences should have been "rewritten and properly referenced" and pledged to review all sources in the book, but added that "at no point did Rachel seek to present these facts as original research".

Reeves told the BBC that some sentences "were not properly referenced", but would be corrected in future reprints. She also told the BBC:

I'm the author of that book, I hold my hands up and say, I should have done better .... Obviously, I had research assistants on the book, but I take responsibility for everything that is in that book.

But for me, what I wanted to do is to bring together the stories of these women. And if I'm guilty of copying and pasting some facts about some amazing women and turning it into a book that gets read, then I'm really proud of that

Both The Guardian and the Financial Times highlighted the irony "that one of the themes of the book was the failure to properly acknowledge the work of female economists."

Other media covering the story include The Telegraph, The Independent, The Times, and i. – S, H

Rich guy and Wikipedia: Who is offended by what?

See also: this issue's Opinion.
A photo of Elon Musk in 2023
Wikipedia's very existence offends him?

A tweet, from the world's richest man and leading tweeter, said that Wikipedia should change its name to "Dickipedia," offering Wikipedia a billion dollars to do so, "in the interests of accuracy". The tweet mockingly referred to a screenshot of a Wikipedia fundraising banner ("Wikipedia is not for sale. A personal appeal from Jimmy Wales"). Perhaps this check was slated to be cut right after his cage match with Zuckerberg.

An explosion of press articles followed:

Wikipedians can be grateful for the support of all these journalists when we are getting roasted by the world's richest man (who, less than three years ago, had expressed a very different opinion on occasion of Wikipedia's 20th anniversary: "Happy birthday Wikipedia! So glad you exist"). They all, in their own way, attest to the quality of our website and the power of collaborative editing. The number and strength of their responses also reflect on him.

In fact, the "Wikipedia is not for sale" fundraising banner that the rich man mocked in his tweet had itself already been inspired by an earlier richest-man-related Twitter controversy and the observation that it had generated a lot of public support for Wikipedia. As detailed by Jimmy Wales when he proposed using the "not for sale" wording in fundraising appeals back in December 2022:

I saw a tweet from a New York Post journalist saying to [the rich man] (who had complained to his fans creating a silly "scandal" about a routine deletion debate) "I wonder how much Wikipedia would cost?" I responded in a quote tweet with a dry "Not for sale". [see also Signpost coverage] This got an extremely positive response (at this moment over 220,000 likes!) from people including many who said that they hadn't donated before but would donate now. I paid close attention to the negative responses but they were mostly from the sorts of people who claim that that community is basically full of CIA agents, etc.

This gave me an idea – people do love it about us that we are not like other websites. Wikimedia is a nonprofit, a charity, and therefore isn't subject to the kinds of risks and pressures that other major websites have. [...] So I propose this banner message, and welcome open testing of variants. [...] --Jimbo Wales (talk) 12:17, 8 December 2022 (UTC)

In the aftermath of the posts, outlets such as Vice have (contrariwise vis-a-vis the rich man) claimed that the Wikimedia Foundation is "obviously spending money on servers to keep things stable". In this case, it should be noted that the Wikimedia Foundation's spending, and its funding priorities, have been criticized sharply by Wikipedians themselves for many years, and indeed criticized in the pages of this very publication. Indeed, we would be remiss to let our readers go away thinking that some rich guy from online invented criticizing the Wikimedia Foundation in 2022 — Wikimedians invented that the same day they invented the WMF!

Other news outlets that have covered this story include NDTV, PC Magazine, Livemint, Bloomberg, and Yahoo!.

Reports have tentatively identified the rich man as a South African businessman and investor named "Elon Musk". – S, H, J

Websites are music

The New Yorker cartoonist Triana Muñoz draws websites (here) as if they were musical styles and gives the styles names in the captions. Not to ruin your viewing pleasure, we list the websites and give music to fit the captions.

Does Wikipedia's Gaza coverage show an anti-Israel bias?

The Spectator Australia, a conservative magazine, criticizes the English Wikipedia's coverage of the 2023 Israel–Hamas war as biased. The (paywalled) article examines two existing articles that recently were thrust into the news limelight by the conflict, focusing in particular on the neutrality of their lead sections ("when read time is primarily the first two to three paragraphs on any page, those paragraphs need to include a variety of sources"):

[In the article Gaza Strip,] the initial two paragraphs would lead the reader to think that Israel occupies Gaza since 1967, that Hamas are not a terrorist organisation, and that Israel blocks Gazan land, sea, and air space for no reason at all. To find any mention of the word terrorist (of which there are only two mentions) the reader needs to navigate through over 11,000 words down to near bottom of the page. The word terrorism is not mentioned once despite reference to Hamas control of Gaza since 2007, and sources are predominately from the United Nations which is known for its anti-Israel bias or from the post-Zionist writings of the 'New Israeli Historians' [see New Historians].

(It may seem reasonable to ask whether this Wikipedia article – as it looked like around the Spectator article's publication time – creates a misleading impression for readers without any background knowledge about Hamas. However, the author does not seem to be aware of Wikipedia's general guidelines discouraging the use of terms like "terrorist", and also doesn't mention that the article about Hamas itself contains ample mention of it being described as a terrorist organization by various entities.)

The author's second "timely example of Wikipedia distortion" is the article about Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi (which has had Good Article status since 2019):

The introductory section gives three references about Ahed portraying her as a Palestinian activist, two sources from Haaretz, and one from The Guardian. Haaretz is an Israeli news source known for its left-wing and liberal stances as is The Guardian – even a search on Wikipedia itself tells you this. There is no counter stance provided about Ahed's alleged family connection to terror. In the section "Early life" there is no mention about her parents encouraging Palestinians to throw stones at Israeli soldiers and berate them. There is no mention of her unrepentant aunt, Ahlam Tamimi, one of the convicted masterminds behind the 2001 Sbarro Pizzeria suicide bombing in Jerusalem that killed and wounded hundreds of Israeli civilians.

[... T]he page is seriously lacking in context and sourcing and is a detriment to the reader. The recent vanishing of Ahed Tamimi's Instagram account following her alleged post stating Israeli settlers should be slaughtered and referencing the Holocaust and Hitler, is nowhere to be mentioned (to date). It is not known if she deleted the Instagram account or if it was suspended. In fact, since I have recently become a Wikipedia editor, here is the discussion on why it is not included [excerpting this talk page section]. [...] The battle between editors over arguments of sources on Ahed's page is illustrative of the dominance some editors have over others.

The author, who identifies as "an advocate for the 'Deleting their Lies' campaign – a group dedicated to tracking and reporting hate speech on social media", concludes: "With growing anti-Semitism worldwide, Wikipedia has become an increasingly risky source on these topics as readers cannot exercise critical thinking with the limited information presented. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is only one such area highlighting this. Currently, it is unwise to blindly trust the Wiki crowd and it should be paramount for Wikipedia editors, new and old, to note all sides of the debate [...]."

The article also contains some general remarks about Wikipedia's importance and alleged ideological bias. As evidence for the latter, it cites two somewhat dated studies by Greenstein and Zhu (see our previous coverage in Recent research: 2015, 2012), Wikipedia's own article Ideological bias on Wikipedia, and criticism by Larry Sanger that had attained media attention in 2021 ("Sanger highlighted the Covid vaccine and the Hunter Biden scandal as examples of topics with left-leaning bias and little debate", see also our own coverage at the time: "Larry Sanger on bias in Wikipedia – with opinion orthodoxy, truth becomes more elusive"). – H

In brief

If you wanted to know more about the occupant of this office (both figuratively and literally), you may have had to check his Wikipedia biography.
Slack hack reported by Security Week and others

Insolvency is also of benefit to the insolvent, in that it grants him relief in certain respects.1
In broad and everyday terms, a person is insolvent [...]

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Discuss this story

I think that most readers will not understand the first part of the headline. Regards, Newyorkbrad (talk) 09:48, 6 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]

I get UK and bigwig. Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 14:51, 6 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]

In discussing Elon Musk here and in this month's Signpost opinion column, where I've added an "Open Comment to Elon Musk" in the discussion section, maybe let's WP:Assume good faith to his purposely low-brow but humorous and unique way of getting his point across that Wikipedia could possibly use a bit more balance on some current topic pages. No matter what is said, done, or implied, Musk is a friend of Wikipedia given his foundation's past donations. Assuming good faith should ideally include assuming it both within and outside of Wikipedia's project boundaries. Randy Kryn (talk) 10:50, 6 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]

"spoken too much about the Israeli-Gaza conflict" is an odd way to describe what got Paddy Cosgrave in trouble. Lots of people have said a lot about the conflict; the real issue is that Cosgrave seemed to be speaking on the side of the terrorists. Starting on October 7, he posted and liked dozens of anti-Israel tweets, including liking this post - of the Palestinian flag - on the day itself. I think he didn't say anything bad about Hamas or their actions until about a week later. Yaron K. (talk) 13:28, 6 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]

In other news, Ahed Tamimi (mentioned in the Spectator section) was arrested today. Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 14:55, 6 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]

I can't help but think Wales & Musk got to boasting about their -- er -- extracurricular activities, Musk came off second best, & decided to get back at Wales by trash-talking Wikipedia. (I doubt this did happen, but knowing a little about both men, I think it's plausible.) -- llywrch (talk) 21:34, 6 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]

Strange enough I take the rant of Musk as a compliment. It proves that what we are doing is sufficiently neutral. The Banner talk 18:05, 7 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]

F1 in the signpost also Toto Wolff being angry will never get old he fire back •Cyberwolf• 18:10, 7 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]

Yahoo didn't cover that. Complex covered that. There is nothing I like less[citation needed] than attributing a syndicated story to the publication that merely reprinted it. Nardog (talk) 06:35, 13 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]

Follow-up on the Spectator-piece: Is it possible to save Wikipedia? Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 08:22, 14 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]

Ignore them they are clearly high on some strong shit •Cyberwolf•talk? 18:34, 15 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]
At least O'Sullivan's First Law is a redirect to something. ☆ Bri (talk) 19:10, 15 November 2023 (UTC)[reply]

As a short, lighthearted breather from a certain social media platform's leader, Tumblr's CEO said he would be open to a meeting of the minds with the Foundation. Rotideypoc41352 (talk · contribs) 04:47, 7 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]


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