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In the media

Turmoil on Hebrew Wikipedia, grave dancing, Olga's impact and inspiring Bhutanese nuns

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By Smallbones, Oltrepier, Bri and Red-tailed hawk

Edit wars over real-life war in Gaza

Two people arguing and pointing fingers at each other
A conflict over a claimed intelligence failure spills over to Hebrew Wikipedia
Image prompting: Bri

Israeli journalist Omer Benjakob reports in Haaretz (paywalled in both Hebrew and English) that Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and his "hate cabinet" are trying to avoid responsibility, playing a "blame game", leaving military leaders to take the hit for the Israeli Intelligence failure that allowed the surprise attack led by Hamas on 7 October.

Hebrew Wikipedia has had its own battles and edit wars in this conflict. Benjakob cites the prolonged dispute between user Ya’akov and other Wikipedians on the Hebrew-language article about Yoram Cohen, who served as the Director of national internal security service Shin Bet from 2011 to 2016.

Ya’akov is one of the editors accused of "pushing conservative political views," by "promoting the view of Netanyahu and his entourage", that Israeli security chiefs are the only ones to blame for the IDF’s failure to prevent the 7 October attack. Hebrew Wikipedia editor David Shai, who created the article about Hamas's attack within an hour of its start, says "there’s enough blame and turpitude to go around."

On a side note, Benjakob has already written about Wikipedia for Haaretz and other media before, and his articles and essays have been frequently covered in the Signpost throughout the years.
S and O

The Wikis of Jacob

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Jacob Frank, the subject of The Books of Jacob.

It’s no surprise that The Books of Jacob, first published in 2014 by Olga Tokarczuk, has helped make the story of Polish Jewish religious leader Jacob Frank popular, while also helping the Polish writer and activist win both a Nike Award (in 2015) and a Nobel Prize in Literature (in 2018). However, the book might also have played an important role in expanding Wikipedia, as revealed in an interview (in Italian) with online newspaper Il Post.

In the interview, which had been arranged via e-mail by Ludovica Lugli, Tokarczuk cited the article about Frank on Polish Wikipedia as an example of how much the tales of the self-proclaimed messiah had been ignored in Poland before the book’s release, remembering how the page used to be just "an article limited to a single phrase" (a slightly incorrect statement, actually). According to the writer, none of the three religious groups involved – Orthodox Jews, Catholic Christians and the direct descendants of Frank’s disciples – had any interest in keeping the leader’s memory alive, to the point she discovered his story by pure chance, back in 2007, and it took her years to connect all the dots: "I didn’t expect to do such an enormous job", she stated.

Tokarczuk is also a familiar face within the Polish Wiki-community itself, having already collaborated with Wikimedia Polska in 2020 for an edit-a-thon focused on the articles of Nobel Prize-winning writers and artists on; even in this context, her statements against anti-semitism and homophobia can’t go unnoticed, considering the threats she has received by members of the Polish far-right in recent years, as well as the hugely controversial case involving World War II and the history of Jews in Poland, which the Signpost has broken down in previous issues. We also covered Tokarczuk's Nobel Prize acceptance speech, which you can see here. – O

Changing "is" to "was" followed by grave dancing?

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Henry Kissinger (right) died on November 29

Vice, Daily Dot, and the Administrators' noticeboard cover the first edit marking Henry Kissinger's death on Wednesday, November 29. The edit was made by Asticky, twelve minutes after Kissinger Associates announced the death via a press release. Soon Asticky's user page was filled with congratulations and a few barnstars. Administrators on their noticeboard questioned the taste of some of those posts, and in general discouraged "grave dancing".

Two days later, when CNBC announced the death of retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor at 9:57 am Eastern Time, four edits were made by anonymous IP editors in the subsequent five minutes. The first IP editor made two edits in that minute. The second IP editor appears to have been a congressional staffer who made their second edit after another two minutes. The Signpost predicts that the mainstream press will soon report this edit race as well. – S

In brief

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Fountain by Marcel Duchamp, one of several art toilets you can learn about on Commons (including America by Maurizio Cattelan and Friedensreich Hundertwasser's public toilets in Kawakawa, New Zealand)

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  • Thanks for clarifying. The 2021 news story made it into my search for new items, reported by another news site in November 2023, referencing the Apple Insider 2021 story; I short-circuited the link but didn't notice the stale date. ☆ Bri (talk) 21:18, 5 December 2023 (UTC)[reply]


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