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In the media

Consider the humble fork

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By Bri, Oltrepier, Red-tailed hawk and Smallbones

Forks are everywhere. If you've got a barn or a stable, there should be a fork inside it to clean out the muck. There are forks in the road, on the internet, on the chess board, on antelopes, in rivers, in beards and tongues, in cryptocurrencies, and almost everybody has forks in their drawers. Maybe we should use chopsticks instead.S

Have you gotten $2.75 worth of info from Wikipedia? Consider donating

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Have you ever unexpectedly run into a (pay)wall?

The Ledger's headline (paywalled) gives the main news: the Florida newspaper is asking for funds from its readers to support Wikipedia. But the bad news is that The Ledger needs to charge its readers to pay its bills. Otherwise, their readers will get cut off by the paywall. The good news is that they will give you "unlimited digital access (costing) $1 for the first 6 months". Everybody, it seems, needs a little green to support their publishing. The better news is that Wikipedia is still free for all readers and has no plans to change that. This reporter has no objections to you donating $2.75 or $25.00 or whatever amount you would prefer. It is not that the Wikimedia Foundation needs your cash now to forestall closing down this website next week, next month, or even next year, but it is just good planning for a non-profit organization to build a solid base of small donors who can ensure that this site will be around for a long time to come. The best news is that The Signpost will always be free – just as we have for almost 19 years – so long as Wikipedia keeps publishing. And to return the plug, Signpost readers should feel free to consider paying a dollar for six months of The Ledger. – S

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

When you come to a fork in the highway ...

Just another fork

In his ever-informative column in Slate, Stephen Harrison explains in detail why editors from WikiProject Highways created a new website forking Wikipedia's road articles. (We note that The Signpost scooped him on this story.)

In his usual style, Harrison breaks the story into an intriguing introduction, and several tines accompanied by quotes from participants and analysis of Wikipedia's policies and guidelines. In this particular case, he grabs you in the intro with "Wikipedia, road infrastructure, and drama—one of these things doesn’t sound like the other" and a mention of a video that "spills the tea." He then focuses on an editor, identified only as Ben (or bmacs001), and the tines include the difference between editors who are roadgeeks and railfans, with a brief note on possible cultural differences between American and European railfans.

The Wiki-rules discussed include notability, reliable sources, pseudoscience, and no original research.

Of course, no newspaper story is ever perfect: Harrison might have emphasized the fact that the fork has enjoyed a fairly successful start, or that there are no rules against forking Wikipedia (as long as you give proper attribution). Or that there are no prohibitions on users editing both Wikipedia and the fork, and few on importing text from the fork into Wikipedia itself. And he certainly should have mentioned that the word "fork" is likely an inherently funny word. – S

Forked again?

For more detail regarding the claims in this article, see this issue's special report.

In an article for Australian newspaper Quillette, Shuichi Tezuka raises some pointed objections to the way the Wikipedia community handles disputes over coverage of contentious material; for example, he expresses concern about "cognitive distortions" that are perpetuated "by reducing the population of people who raise [objections]... as these users have either quit Wikipedia or been permanently blocked from editing". Tezuka mention the famous "somewhat-viral tweet" of last October and related concerns about WMF spending (see previous Signpost coverage), and concludes that newly-formed fork Justapedia (which recently sparked a discussion on the administrators' noticeboard), is necessary to solve these problems, stating: "the need for such a competitor [to Wikipedia] is stronger now than it has been in past years, due to several recent controversies revolving around the manipulation and/or politicization of Wikipedia, along with a widespread perception that Wikipedia has not done enough to prevent this type of problem." The founder of Justapedia, user Atsme, wrote an op-ed expressing some of the same concerns for the Signpost back in 2020. – B

In brief

A U.S. Congressional hearing on the 2014 Ebola outbreak. Staff have briefed congresspeople from Wikipedia articles on this and other topics.
Wikipedia accessibility guidelines expressed as a checklist of "dos" and "don'ts"

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