Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
Fund raising for Wikipedia

By zocky in Internet
Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 02:37:12 PM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)
Internet

In last few years, Wikipedia grew from a neat idea to one of the largest encyclopedias in the world. Now it's having hardware problems and might use your help.


Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia that is being written collaboratively by the various readers. The site is a WikiWiki, meaning that anyone, you included, can edit any article by clicking on the edit this page link that appears in every Wikipedia article (except for a small number of protected pages). All of the site's content is covered by the GNU Free Documentation License (which allows me to rip most of this text from Wikipedia's about page).

There are currently 187946 articles in English that are being worked on with many more articles being written in other languages. Every day hundreds of contributors from around the world make thousands of edits and create lots of new articles. According to Alexa, wikipedia.org is within the top 1000 trafficked internet domains. Wikipedia's database is huge, over 35 GB.

Wikipedia has lately experienced some downtime due to hardware failures, and is currently serving only cached copies of articles, which is expected to last for several days. On Monday, Jimmy Wales posted this letter:

Letter to our readers and contributors
By Jimmy Wales, Wikimedia Foundation, Director December 28, 2003

As you have all seen the past few days, we have been having technical difficulties. The essential problem is that we do not currently have enough hardware to cope with routine failures of any kind. When any one of our machines goes down, we experience cascading problems due in part to the excess load on the entire system.

The solution to this problem is to purchase now sufficient hardware to give us enough excess capacity so that we can be reliable. I estimate that $20,000 in hardware would get us to a point where we have reserves to handle the failure of any one machine. Additionally, we would be well-poised to continue our track record of astounding growth. (continued...)

Read the rest of the letter for more details and ways to contribute.

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Poll
I don't donate to Free projects because:
o They're FREE, right, man? 9%
o They're all out to swindle me out of my money 0%
o I detest GPL hippies 17%
o I have deep philosophical problems with the concept of money 14%
o I am cheap 57%

Votes: 134
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Wikipedia
o about page
o Read the rest of the letter for more details and ways to contribute.
o Also by zocky


Display: Sort:
Fund raising for Wikipedia | 106 comments (86 topical, 20 editorial, 1 hidden)
Sounds like a good project (2.73 / 15) (#12)
by dipierro on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 09:34:32 AM EST

for CMF

Things to read (2.57 / 7) (#14)
by zocky on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 10:06:30 AM EST

Good places to learn about Wikipedia (and to answer many questions you might have), are Wikipedia's pages on FAQ and Replies to common objections. I also recommend checking out links in the yellow "Community" box on the main page, as well as those on the about page.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?

I don't donate money (2.00 / 8) (#15)
by kesuari on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 10:09:29 AM EST

Partially because I'm cheap and anyway, I don't have much money, but mainly because I don't have any way to that I know of. They should accept EFTPOS, because I'm too lazy to get a credit card.

God damned bake sale mentality (2.53 / 15) (#19)
by danharan on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 10:33:58 AM EST

So those guys made enough money to get through their latest crisis. Is this sustainable?

Consider what would have happened if they had used text advertising- can there be an easier site with which to deliver relevant advertising? And before people go on about how it's free and they hate the Man and advertising is evil... How bad is an ad or affiliate link for a book on a page gasp! describing that book? How horrible would ads for widgets be on a widget page?

Using a third-party to manage the ads (Google's contextual ads, or anyone else) and making sure they are not interfering with the quality of the site should be possible.

Why an organization would rather let go an employee than advertise is utterly beyond me.

Read all the angst on wikipedia:
Advertising on Wikipedia
Making Wikipedia profitable

It's not that simple (3.00 / 8) (#23)
by zocky on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 11:30:56 AM EST

Changing the current business model of Wikipedia (i.e. none - financed by Jimbo and a trickle of donations, absolutely no strings attached) could prove very problematic.

Many people (including me) contribute to wikipedia exactly because it has no business model, and would resent ads on Wikipedia.

Of course, the software and content are free and anyone can fork it, but that would be a very bad thing for a general purpose encyclopedia.

So, as long as donations work (and they certainly seem to), I'd say keep to the no-business model.

z.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

sigh (none / 2) (#28)
by danharan on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 12:18:58 PM EST

Yep, forking would be pretty horrible.

But really, what's so bad about text advertising?

Why is it so important for you that it have no business model?

[ Parent ]

NPOV (2.87 / 8) (#29)
by zocky on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 12:50:28 PM EST

NPOV - Neutral Point of View is one of the central concepts of Wikipedia.

The idea is to present balanced point of view on every subject, by describing opposing views and attributing them to sources. Including ads on pages tilts that balance.

Another central feature of wikipedia is rule by consensus, and advertising simply will not happen without causing a serious rift.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

NPOV and advertising (3.00 / 4) (#35)
by danharan on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 03:39:04 PM EST

Let's take a very concrete example. ISBN links are currently not working, but I understand they were linking to Barnes & Nobles.

If instead the ISBN linked to a page that said something such as "The following are some of the sites where you can purchase <the book>. Many of these sites will pay wikipedia a commission on all sales that originate from this page." (You could also have this at the bottom of the page)

Add a link to a more detailed explanation (technology, exact amounts), and let the little guys compete with B&N- either a system you devise (click-through, affiliate marketing, whatever) or a commercial solution like Google's. In any case, people sometimes actually appreciate knowing where they can buy an item.

While I believe it is possible to do this without harming the NPOV, it certainly will be harder to deal with the politics. Reading through the discussion on meta.wikipedia it is easy to see many have an extreme ideological bent.

I've dealt with the same thing with a local organic food co-op. Some members wanted all transport to be done with bicycles, others were militant raw-food vegans that didn't want so much as dairy or coffee on our shelves. Years later, we still don't have the capital needed to hire a manager, and the big grocers are selling organic food cheaper than we can buy it wholesale; the whole organization lives on volunteer labour, and we'd go bankrupt if we paid people $3/hr.

My intuition is unless you folks relax a bit about ideological purity you'll be as irrelevant to real people's lives as that food co-op.

[ Parent ]

Some differences (none / 1) (#84)
by greenrd on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 02:50:27 PM EST

My intuition is unless you folks relax a bit about ideological purity you'll be as irrelevant to real people's lives as that food co-op.

Well, it looks to me like Wikipedia has the potential to be big enough and useful enough and inspiring enough to enough people to attract the kind of donations that are needed.

And it has a well-off-ish "sugar daddy" who started it all off.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

ISBN Links? (none / 1) (#99)
by shinshin on Fri Jan 02, 2004 at 09:36:59 AM EST

Let's take a very concrete example. ISBN links are currently not working, but I understand they were linking to Barnes & Nobles. If instead the ISBN linked to a page that said something such as [...]

That is exactly how the ISBN links have been working for as long as I can remember. They are working. For example, see the book links at the bottom of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rush_Limbaugh.



____
We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons --Dick Cheney, Meet the Press, March 16, 2003
[ Parent ]
doesn't work for me (none / 0) (#100)
by danharan on Fri Jan 02, 2004 at 03:04:38 PM EST

It took 21 seconds for me to see that page, and after 60 seconds I gave up on the ISBN links. Maybe if I waited longer I'd see something, but I doubt average surfers would wait that long.

[ Parent ]
what's neat about wikipedia (none / 3) (#38)
by Recreational Abortion on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 04:43:31 PM EST

is how a wiki like this can really create well balanced, excellent articles on controversial subjects.  For instance, check out the Wiki page on Noam Chomsky

the /Talk sections are also interesting, because you get to see some of the back and forth of opinions that the authors take as they try and make a "balanced" article.
----
colorless green ideas sleep furiously
[ Parent ]

Ahem (3.00 / 7) (#30)
by Eloquence on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 12:57:55 PM EST

So those guys made enough money to get through their latest crisis. Is this sustainable?

Ask Greenpeace. Ask Amnesty International. Of course it's sustainable. It's called charity. Those who support Wiki[mp]edia's mission donate or contribute in other ways, those who do not, don't. Wikipedia provides a copyleft encyclopedia in 50 languages to everyone -- we have lots of readers in the third world already, and we're planning to get the encyclopedia into a form that is more suitable for those countries (at the very least a CD-ROM edition, or possibly a printed one). It is more comprehensive and more up to date than pretty much everything else, and will soon be the only encyclopedia that matters (with "soon" I mean 10-20 years). And yes, we have improved quality control mechanisms in the works. So I believe we provide a service worth sustaining, and enough people feel that way to carry the project along.

In any case, Wikipedia cannot die, because its content will always be free. We have received more hosting offers than we can shake a stick at, and ad-sponsored read-only mirrors already exist. Wikipedia's future was never really in peril -- we've just had some bad luck with purchased hardware and are now trying to get some more redundant infrastructure in place. But we would have just get the stuff fixed regardless. And in emergencies, Jimbo can always fork over some money of his own (he has paid almost the entire operation so far out of his own pocket).

But obviously donations help, both small and large -- having a full time sysadmin would certainly be a good thing, for example. I believe in the long term Wikipedia will primarily rely on large sponsors, simply because these will likely be sufficient. There will be a few donors, corporate or otherwise, who will fork over $100K or so per year, and that's it. It will be money well spent. But if you don't care about knowledge, you shouldn't care about Wikipedia either. There's just no point in whining about pleas for donations. They will get a lot more widespread in the future on many many different types of online services, so you'd better get used to them.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

How is that not advertising? (none / 3) (#32)
by danharan on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 03:15:14 PM EST

I've volunteered with non-profit now for nearly 10 years, and I'm starting to turn into a capitalist because of comments like yours:

[In] emergencies, Jimbo can always fork over some money of his own

How is it sustainable to assume that 1 single person can always bail out an entire organization?

Two words: BURN OUT.

As for preferring the sponsorship of a few large corporations to a myriad of small publishers- what exactly is the principle here? If it is advertising that you find so abhorrent, what do you call a sponsor getting front-page recognition for a $100k donation?

You can dismiss what I'm doing as whining if you like, but don't expect donations to pay for bandwidth and sysadmin salaries- not when there are people with no possible source of income that need my help too.

Heck, if wikipedia keeps asking for donations, I might just put up mirrors, finance it with affiliate links and/or Google Adsense, and send you folks a cut.

[ Parent ]

haha (none / 1) (#40)
by reklaw on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 05:10:34 PM EST

Heck, if wikipedia keeps asking for donations, I might just put up mirrors, finance it with affiliate links and/or Google Adsense, and send you folks a cut.

I had this exact thought once I'd got to grips with the basics of the problem. Google's targeted ads would be perfect for Wikipedia, and it's silly of them not to make use of this revenue stream, what with the number of hits they must get (that is, enough to need an extra $20k of hardware just to handle the traffic). It's not like Adsense is intrusive.

If the people in charge of Wikipedia refuse to accept even text ads despite it being the best option, then a mirror of the whole damn thing seems to me to be a genuinely good idea, although the 'edit' links should probably link back to wikipedia.com -- I'd be reluctant to represent the thing as finished and uneditable, but also reluctant to do a full-on fork.
-
[ Parent ]

Text ads (none / 2) (#56)
by AxelBoldt on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 07:58:37 PM EST

refuse to accept even text ads despite it being the best option

With text ads, large numbers of consumers would unwittingly and possibly unwillingly subsidize Wikipedia, indirectly via the price of the product or service they buy. Asking for donations is a lot more up front and honest.

[ Parent ]

adsense (none / 1) (#63)
by danharan on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 09:34:58 PM EST

The site that shows the ads gets paid not when people buy something but if people click on the ads. This is different from the affiliate marketing scenario, but I suggested this be clearly labelled.

To make sure ads are relevant, those that do not get a good percentage of clicks get killed, and the webmaster can veto certain advertisers. It's not perfect, granted, but it's as good as it gets.

[ Parent ]

Consumers pay for advertising (none / 2) (#67)
by AxelBoldt on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 05:25:52 AM EST

The particular business model for advertising doesn't matter: the money always comes out of consumers' pockets ultimately. And usually consumers are not aware of the projects they sponsor.



[ Parent ]

mindshare (none / 1) (#79)
by danharan on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 11:34:31 AM EST

A consumer that doesn't know part of the price of an item is due to advertising is a fool indeed. Can I worry that my actions will be interpreted by such fools? I could, but have better things to do.

I saw on your page that you are a fan of Adbusters. Will you continue being a fan after they start selling their new shoes? Whatever people are doing politically or economically, when they need people to be aware of what they are doing they need to communicate- they need to advertise.

Some forms and media are horrible. I despise billboard and ads that use sexuality or spirituality to peddle their wares.

But how do we differentiate different attempts at getting mindshare? Is Amnesty International OK when they campaign against the death penalty? What when united colors of benetton uses that issue?

Is one bad only because they make a profit? What if I don't like Amnesty because of their individualistic interpretations of human rights, and their sheer treachery during NATO's bombardment of Kosovo?

My educated guess is that most hate advertising only because of the profit involved. Barring anarcho-primitivism, if we want to get rid of profit we will need to create radical alternatives. Trying to stamp out advertising is precisely the wrong thing to do, because it attacks the symptoms of a system, and makes the symptoms worse. Making an poor system even worse is never as efficient as making a new one easier to adopt.

I'll be watching Adbusters to see if they're any less obnoxious than Beneton, but I'm not holding my breath.

[ Parent ]

Doesn't matter (none / 2) (#80)
by zocky on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 11:50:27 AM EST

It's a matter of principle. I want to work on a free non-commercial encyclopaedia. It's fun, it's interesting, it's a Good Thing, but it's not business.

Since the content is not owned or authored by any individual, and a large portion of wikipedians oppose any business deals (because they don't regard what they do as business), ads are not going to happen.

z.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Advertising money and sales tax (none / 1) (#86)
by AxelBoldt on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 05:00:55 PM EST

A consumer that doesn't know part of the price of an item is due to advertising is a fool indeed.

True, but even those who are aware of it may not be aware of the projects their money supports, or may not agree with the goals of those projects. It's like sales tax: you know it's there and you have to pay it whether you agree with its use or not.

Therefore it's plain to me that the financing of a project like Wikipedia is a lot more honest if it openly asks people for donations, rather than using the advertising money/sales tax approach which forces consumers to subsidize Wikipedia who may not otherwise have chosen to.

[ Parent ]

force? (none / 1) (#87)
by danharan on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 05:32:00 PM EST

This entails neither deception nor force.

If I don't like the fact a merchant advertises on a website -or any other medium- I am free to boycott them. I obviously don't resent the fact they advertised if I bought there.

Without wanting to sound rude, the force argument is just absurd.

Actually, as I've been thinking more about this topic, I'm forced to conclude that advertising is actually vastly superior to asking people for money.

Asking people for money forces a certain mental cost, not unlike what Clay Shirky describes for micro-payments. It's a mental tax, every single time. Visitors have to read the appeal, then ponder: Are these people's work worthwhile? Should I help them? Can I help them? How much should I give?

Whlie I usually think it's a good thing to make people think, it's good to make them think about things that really matter, and preferably things that matter to them- which providing NPOV information on topics of interest to them inevitably does. A cognitive tax that detracts from that is arguably a BAD THING (TM).

Much advertising actually has the same problem, which is why I hate so much of it but love keyword-based advertising. If it's information I'm actually looking for, it spares me some processing about how to find it, and that's a GOOD THING (TM).

Of course, you may find my valuing mental tranquility silly, and prefer the thrill of staying ideologically pure, unsoiled by market considerations- and that's fine by me. You can keep contributing, I'll see about setting up a mirror.

[ Parent ]

Mental taxes (none / 1) (#88)
by AxelBoldt on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 07:18:26 PM EST

This entails neither deception nor force.

That's right -- neither does a sales tax. You can always boycott states that have one.

Financing Wikipedia with ads enacts a much larger mental tax than requesting donations: a consumer who is about to buy a product but does not wish to support Wikipedia has to determine whether said product is advertised on Wikipedia. If it is, they have to ponder "Should I buy it anyway? How bad are these Wikipedia guys? How much will I subsidize their silly project with this purchase?"

So while the consumer is indeed not forced into supporting Wikipedia, their only other option is to abandon a purchase they otherwise would have liked to make. Understandably they feel violated.

You mental tax calculus also doesn't take into account the good feeling and satisfaction one derives from donating to a worthy cause. The ad-sponsoring proposal only produces bad feelings all around.

[ Parent ]

uh, no... (none / 3) (#89)
by reklaw on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 10:14:33 PM EST

Financing Wikipedia with ads enacts a much larger mental tax than requesting donations: a consumer who is about to buy a product but does not wish to support Wikipedia has to determine whether said product is advertised on Wikipedia. If it is, they have to ponder "Should I buy it anyway? How bad are these Wikipedia guys? How much will I subsidize their silly project with this purchase?"

Sorry to be blunt here, but this whole thing is made-up bollocks that you're trying to use to defend your irrational fear of advertising. Do you seriously stand in a supermarket and think things like "I want to buy this brand of washing powder, but I saw an ad for it on that TV channel I hate and I don't want to support them"? I somewhat doubt it.

The situation is made even less likely by the fact that specific advertisers wouldn't be paying to be on Wikipedia only -- they're paying to be in the Google ad system, and Wikipedia would be just one of thousands of sites participating in that system.

It is, perhaps, more "honest" (whatever that even means) to ask for money directly, but that method does a disservice to those who are most loyal to Wikipedia. Instead of a lot of people who shop at the companies that advertise on Google paying a tiny amount each, you get the people who are most involved with Wikipedia paying large amounts to support it.

I sincerely doubt that most people would give any thought to whether or not they are subsidising Wikipedia when they buy from the companies who advertise via Google and whose ads would appear on the pages. No bad feelings are produced -- it's unobtrusive on both ends of the deal. What advertising would be basically achieving here, as it does with many other media, is spreading the cost of supporting Wikipedia so thinly as to make it invisible.

I, for one, find that preferable to panhandling.
-
[ Parent ]

Those who play should pay (none / 0) (#90)
by AxelBoldt on Wed Dec 31, 2003 at 08:50:03 AM EST

Do you seriously stand in a supermarket and think things like "I want to buy this brand of washing powder, but I saw an ad for it on that TV channel I hate and I don't want to support them"?

Close -- out of principle I try to avoid products whose ads I can remember. Admittedly I'm an extreme case, but I value my brain capacity too much to fund companies which try to get a portion of it.

It is, perhaps, more "honest" (whatever that even means) to ask for money directly, but that method does a disservice to those who are most loyal to Wikipedia. Instead of a lot of people who shop at the companies that advertise on Google paying a tiny amount each, you get the people who are most involved with Wikipedia paying large amounts to support it.

It is more honest in the sense that the ones who pay are the ones who want to play. In your tax-like scheme, large numbers of people subsidize Wikipedia unwittingly, possibly unwillingly.

[ Parent ]

Actually... (none / 3) (#41)
by zocky on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 05:15:22 PM EST

...you are welcome to do it. Anybody at Wikipedia will adore you for it.

Several sites are already sort of doing that, but I am not aware of anybody actually sending a cut. People at Wikipedia don't mind, since they're in it for the heck of it, anyway.

So, take all the content, set up a mirror, add lights and bells and whistles and ads and whatnot, make a ton of money and send some of it to Wikipedia so that the live editing server can live.

z.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Advertising (3.00 / 4) (#57)
by Eloquence on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 08:10:39 PM EST

If it is advertising that you find so abhorrent, what do you call a sponsor getting front-page recognition for a $100k donation?

What do you mean with "front-page recognition"? We certainly won't put up any buttons on Wikipedia for large sponsors. We might put up a list of major sponsors on a separate page somewhere, and sponsors may benefit in the form of news coverage, but that's not the same as advertising on Wikipedia articles.

Having Wikipedia free of advertising has benefits both for readers and contributors. My experience with Google's text-ads, for example, is that they often break the layout of a page, and on Wikipedia, we need all the page width we can get as some articles are full of tables and images. I also see this as an important way to distinguish Wikipedia from its already existing ad-supported mirrors -- browsing Wikipedia should always be more pleasant than its mirrors, as this will attract more people to become contributors.

There are other issues, of course. Wikipedia is a project built almost entirely by volunteers, and these people may feel very irritated if articles they have worked on for months suddenly become combined with ads they have no control over. This kind of powerlessness is against the spirit that has made Wikipedia so strong -- we try to avoid having a visible hierarchy in the project. In fact, several top contributors have already stated that they would leave the project if ads of any form were introduced, and there was a fork of the Spanish Wikipedia when we only talked about the possibility a year ago or so.

Lastly, there is the credibility question which Wikipedia will always struggle with. It's difficult enough to maintain credibility without ads for Viagra pills showing up in an encyclopedia article about sexual dysfunction. And as magical as some people seem to consider Google text ads, they're really not that well targeted -- it gets even more annoying when the Viagra ads show up on an article about Russian history.

You're right of course that Jimbo won't always be there for us. However, he has made his limits very clear and we're still quite a stretch away from touching them. This project will likely be his life's biggest achievement and I doubt he will ever lose his commitment to it. We will also build contingency budgets over time. I believe even if Jimbo was to completely drop out tomorrow, there is more than enough goodwill to not just support Wikipedia without advertising for all time, but to also invest in offline publication and quality improval. That we exceeded our fundraising goal in less than 24 hours should demonstrate that quite well.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

Seldon Crisis (3.00 / 7) (#34)
by this is not a username on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 03:23:02 PM EST

So those guys made enough money to get through their latest crisis.

It's the first Seldon Crisis wikipedia walks into.

[ Parent ]

Why no ads (3.00 / 4) (#42)
by AxelBoldt on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 05:15:34 PM EST

Why an organization would rather let go an employee than advertise is utterly beyond me.

Many contributors are opposed to advertising for various reasons. Some generally dislike ads, other fear ads would harm Wikipedia's claim to neutrality, still others interpret "free" as "we don't make you pay money and we don't make you watch ads".

A project that lives because of volunteer contributions better listen to the wishes of those volunteers. The whole Spanish Wikipedia broke off because they perceived a threat at the time that Wikipedia might introduce ads.

Besides, if you want a Wikipedia with ads, you can download the data and start your own. You wouldn't be the first one.

[ Parent ]

So why not offer both? (none / 3) (#71)
by dipierro on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 09:06:51 AM EST

Have text ads, but allow them to be turned off. Those who object to ads have a simple solution.

[ Parent ]
Here's a simple solution (1.11 / 18) (#22)
by Meatbomb on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 11:15:04 AM EST

I know that you dudes over there have some cool pages on drugs, I've seen em. Why don't you set up online sales? The market is absolutely huge, the margins are sweet. For example, I for one am ready to score some LSD. If Wikipedia were selling tabs, I would happily do all my LSD business with fine open-source people like them.

_______________

Good News for Liberal Democracy!

Great Idea! <nt> (none / 2) (#24)
by Dean equals Satan on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 11:32:28 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Excellent Poll (2.77 / 9) (#25)
by MicroBerto on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 11:37:56 AM EST

This poll made me think quite a bit. At first I thought, "maybe I *AM* cheap", but then I realized that I just have a set of priorities.

If Wiki goes away, then my life is unchanged. If Mandrake dies, people will probably still work on the distribution anyway. I'd rather go out and buy the next round of drinks for my friends, or take someone out to a meal.

I'm not cheap, i'm just spoiled by free projects and would rather make changes in the lives of people that I know face to face. I'm not bothered when donations are asked for by some anonymous type person on the net.

Berto
- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip

You realized you have priorities? (2.00 / 5) (#50)
by kisielk on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 06:35:22 PM EST

It's called priority of consumption. I always thought it was a well known fact, and it can be found in any entry level economics book.

--
Talk, talk, it's only talk. Arguments, agreements, advice, answers, articulate announcements. It's all just talk."
- Elephant Talk, King Crimson


[ Parent ]
Economists thought that worth MENTIONING? (1.66 / 6) (#83)
by greenrd on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 02:38:00 PM EST

... Economics, the only so-called "science" which is full of a large majority people jumping from complete obviousness to complete nonsense with nary a cogent argument in between.

But more to the point here, judging by their presence on Internet debate forums, economics is full of people who say sneeringly "Ha ha, you obviously [haven't studied economics / were asleep at your desk when you studied economics]."


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

The next round of drinks (none / 0) (#96)
by Jugalator on Fri Jan 02, 2004 at 03:23:31 AM EST

"If Wiki goes away, then my life is unchanged. If Mandrake dies, people will probably still work on the distribution anyway. I'd rather go out and buy the next round of drinks for my friends, or take someone out to a meal."

I guess many think Wikipedia and the idea with an open dictionary is interesting and write articles for fun. Sometimes, your life doesn't need to dramatically change for you to be interested in donating money. Sometimes, you just do it to show that you appreciate their work and to show that you you like their service, so instead of buing them a round of drinks, well...

[ Parent ]

A real bargain at 20k (2.52 / 21) (#26)
by Fredrick Doulton on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 11:45:42 AM EST

You may think 20k is a lot to ask, but then people here probably remember when Rusty wanted 70k for this troll-infested cesspool. At least Wiki-whateveryoucallit offers a useful service.

Bush/Cheney 2004! - "Because we've still got more people to kill"

Wikipedia.... (none / 1) (#55)
by /dev/trash on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 07:50:34 PM EST

Is easier to troll you don't even NEED to signup.

---
Updated NEW 10/15/2003!!
New Site, More Parks
[ Parent ]
Harder to Troll (none / 3) (#77)
by jrincayc on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 10:40:47 AM EST

Wikipedia is harder to troll, since I would have deleted your troll by now, or edited it.

[ Parent ]
sometimes yeah..... (none / 3) (#81)
by /dev/trash on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 11:55:37 AM EST

But I have at least 3 pages on Wikipedia that I have trolled, and no one has deleted the info.

---
Updated NEW 10/15/2003!!
New Site, More Parks
[ Parent ]
It depends on how important the article is (none / 0) (#95)
by Jugalator on Fri Jan 02, 2004 at 03:16:01 AM EST

The more important the articles are, the faster they are reverted to their pre-trolling stage. If you troll some well visited article, it's usually reverted within minutes and rarely after more than an hour or so. You've obviously trolled something that none of the visitors noticed or cared about so far. The important thing to me is that the encyclopedia in general is useful, and it has certainly been so to me. I have yet to even see an article that is trolled.

[ Parent ]
CD-ROM, print version? (2.33 / 6) (#31)
by Fen on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 02:59:23 PM EST

You could charge a bit over nominal price, and allow for donating at the time of order. If someone is buying something already, it's a lot easier to add a bit extra as "tip".
--Self.
wouldnt work so well... (2.50 / 4) (#33)
by Work on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 03:21:42 PM EST

the whole idea behind wikipedia is that it can be updated quickly. entries are added and changed all the time. a CD-ROM or print version would negate this.

[ Parent ]
Always check out the people you give to. (1.00 / 23) (#36)
by wij on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 03:42:27 PM EST

Before you donate money to a website for improvements, read this Slashdot comment on Kuro5hin's fundraising, by Kuro5hin's own Rogerborg.

After a pile of money landed on his lap, Rusty, Kuro5hin's owner, has made only 9 changes to the code that runs the site How can we be sure that the wikipedia guy is going to spend the money on what he says he will, or just throw on an old Pentium 200 and call it good?

I'd be much more comfortable if money, in these situations, was put in an escrow account, run by a disinterested party, until the promised improvements have been made. I have the feeling that many of these fundraising efforts are like those from crooked charities, who spend 99% of their money on "fundraising" and only 1% on their charity programs.

"I am an intellectual of great merit, yet I am not adequately compensated for this by capitalism; this is the reason for my opposition to it."

If Paypal wasn't a bunch of usurious money-grubber (none / 2) (#37)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 04:42:04 PM EST

They'd offer a product ordering service (with a nice enough fee to make it worth their while).

The order info would be readable by all, including the products to be ordered, and the delivery address. Once donations begin, it's locked in, can't be changed. Once the cash hits the magic number, they place the order... and voila... no kayaking trips.

Just a new, decent database server for wikipedia. Still room to cheat, but more difficult, maybe not worth the trouble.

--
Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]

nine changes? (none / 3) (#48)
by rusty on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 06:07:32 PM EST

That's not true. Please document your claims.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
In fact (2.72 / 11) (#49)
by rusty on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 06:22:38 PM EST

Every CVS update to Scoop is accompanied by an update to the VERSION file. This is done once per commit batch, so it counts distinct commits, not files touched or changes made. Many files could be altered in a single commit, or just one. It varies.

You can see who had committed by looking at the log for the VERSION file. It will probably ask you for a login -- use "anonymous" for both name and password.

If you'd like to go to the trouble of counting, I have committed 52 times since August 2002, or an average of 3.25 times per month. It's obviously been rather more bunchy than that, but the claim of nine times is just wrong. Even if you consider commits that happened within the same day as one update, I've made 22 changes.

Either you read the comment you linked to and just believed it, in which case shame on you, or you posted knowing you were lying, in which case shame on you.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Pity that sometimes ... (none / 1) (#69)
by Tezcatlipoca on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 05:51:57 AM EST

... one has to feed the fscking trolls.

I hope this one dies of indigestion....

Might is right
Freedom? Which freedom?
[ Parent ]

Don't be a complete ass (3.00 / 6) (#58)
by Eloquence on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 08:36:27 PM EST

Rusty made very clear that he wanted the money in order to spend his time as K5's community leader. Whenever I had an issue with K5 he has always responded, often within minutes. Unlike Slashdot's editors, he gets involved in discussions. He keeps his cool even when he is attacked and ridiculed by the most annoying and persistent trolls you can imagine. He deals with DoS attacks, copyright violations, threats and hardware failures. He tries his best to make improvements to Scoop without breaking it. And I can tell you from my own experience that Scoop is not fun to work on.

He only held a single fundraising drive in mid-2002. He made it absolutely clear that this money was for his salary. According to his own estimates, he raised enough moeny for half a year. There was no second fundraiser. All further personal money he has made from K5 came from ads, subscriptions and unsolicited donations.

Has he done enough in this half a year? I think he has. In fact, he has constantly put up with whining and personal attacks, much of it, I suspect, from people who never donated anything in the first place. But understandably he decided not to go through all this crap again. Yet people still bitch about it.

I think this case demonstrates well how a smear campaign works. The whole thing started with silly jokes in diaries, and comments by trolls. Because the lie was constantly repeated, it seems to have reached even some of the respected members of the community. Throw enough mud and some of it will stick.

It's quite ironic that you complain about alleged misuse of funds on the very site you are talking about. I'm quite sure that many people with good intentions would have just closed shop and taken the money after all the trolling and personal attacks. But I guess he's just trying to milk the most out of it, right?

Now I don't think Rusty's perfect. I still think the diary section was a mistake, and I think it's the main origin of the high noise level that we currently have (which is one of the main reasons I don't post much anymore). I think that Rusty should have refuted some of the criticisms as they appeared, and should have provided more regular updates of what he was doing on the site -- stuff that doesn't really get appreciated much because it often happens behind the scenes. And I think he's a lot too patient with trolls. But to portray him as some kind of scammer who was only out for people's money is grossly inaccurate and very unfair. If you really feel that way, you shouldn't be posting here.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

IHBT (2.66 / 6) (#60)
by Eloquence on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 08:44:04 PM EST

It appears this user account was created to look like "wji", a respected K5 user -- I thought it was him, that's why I replied. Sigh .. Looks like the trolls have really taken over around here.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]
Go be a troll somewhere else (none / 1) (#64)
by abulafia on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 12:38:58 AM EST

Really, this isn't even worthwhile. Two references to similar trolling, one which even has a difficult to refute link to a public changelog, which anyone interested can view here (username: anonymous, password: anonymous.) SCO, at least, trys harder. Come, you can do better. Or can you? And please, put your money wherever you'd like to. What I get pissed off about if your verbal placement. But that's Ok, too - isn't that the purpose of the software on which you wrote your last troll?

[ Parent ]
Some replies (2.90 / 11) (#39)
by zocky on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 04:49:43 PM EST

Re: "the Wikipedia guy"
There is no Wikipedia guy. Wikipedia is a community. Jimbo is just the guy who came up with the idea and on whose hardware and net connection everything has run so far.

But he is *not* the owner of Wikipedia. Wikipedia is licensed under GFDL and it's software under GPL, which means that anybody can make a copy anytime (hell, I have one on my crummy box) and even do a complete fork if they so desire. But since that is basically a bad idea, nobody really goes there. And since everybody has a common goal, virtually all issues tend to eventually work out.

The fact that it's all run on his hardware gave Jimbo a sort of "benevolent dictator" status, which he doesn't really use. It just sort of gives more weight to his words when policy is decided. (I am aware of just one case when Jimbo's final word was required, and even than it was more of an expansion of existing policy than a decision on the case itself).

Re ads:

The only income so far are donations, averaging several hundreds USD per month, and the money Jimbo himself has put in it. Wikipedia, as the body of knowledge and as community/organization/whatever has no obligations to anyone.

That's the way it should stay. Business arrangements of any kind will inevitably jeopardize the complete independence Wikipedia now enjoys. The project is important enough to raise money as charity.

z.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?

Forks (none / 3) (#44)
by AxelBoldt on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 05:30:02 PM EST

anybody can make a copy anytime (hell, I have one on my crummy box) and even do a complete fork if they so desire. But since that is basically a bad idea, nobody really goes there.

Actually, there's a fork at www.internet-encyclopedia.org and it's alive and well.

Personally, I think the more forks the better. I'd rather that the internet be run like a grand wiki than the way it is run today.

[ Parent ]

Not a fork (none / 3) (#45)
by zocky on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 05:40:00 PM EST

Internet-encyclopedia is a separate encyclopaedia with its own policies and ITS OWN CONTENT.

They have 4862 articles so far, which is smaller than the average non-english Wikipedia, and 2 orders of magnitude smaller than Wikipedia. They just use wikipedia's software and general design.

Any projects which use wikipedia's material to do their own thing are more than welcome.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

It's Wikipedia's content, mostly (3.00 / 4) (#54)
by AxelBoldt on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 07:50:09 PM EST

The large majority of internet-encyclopedia's articles are slightly modified Wikipedia articles. Their number is small because they only import the articles they like. They also use a different policy for controversial topics, so those pages differ considerably from Wikipedia's original version.

[ Parent ]
It's mostly copied from Wikipedia (none / 2) (#61)
by zocky on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 08:50:02 PM EST

Which is not the same thing. Anybody can publish annotated collections of digested material. It's not the same as trying to take a huge encyclopaedia and establish a new community to start editing from there (which would be a bad thing).

z.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Nothing wrong with it (none / 2) (#68)
by AxelBoldt on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 05:29:47 AM EST

Well, if someone takes a subset of Wikipedia articles, modifies them, puts them in a Wiki called "internet-encyclopedia" and invites people to edit them so that they will diverge from Wikipedia's parent over time, that's a fork in my book.

Nothing wrong with it though: just like there's nothing wrong with having FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD etc. The more free stuff the better I say.

[ Parent ]

That's like saying... (none / 3) (#73)
by zocky on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 09:47:10 AM EST

...that taking just the code for the cool new toolbars from mozilla, and turnig them into a kewl app-launch bar is a fork of mozilla.

Reusing bits of information in a different setting with different goals is not a fork.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Same goal (none / 3) (#85)
by AxelBoldt on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 03:54:08 PM EST

Internet encyclopedia is in the same setting (wiki) and has the same goal as Wikipedia: a free encyclopedia.

[ Parent ]
ongoing problem with free content sites (2.14 / 7) (#46)
by speek on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 05:41:36 PM EST

Hardware fails when the site gets too big. How many times will we see this before a better solution is applied? Better than begging for money and buying bigger hardware that solves the problem for a short while.

All the P2P software apps currently hosting mp3s and movies and porn pictures - why can't they host wikipedia articles too? None of them suitable? Make one suitable. Freenet can be made to look just like any website - though it's pretty unworkable in it's present form. Something similar could be created that emphasized speed, ease of use, and permanence (as opposed to piracy, privacy, and secrecy). It seems about time these free content sites put some effort into a better means of distribution than a website.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees

Sorry, (3.00 / 4) (#47)
by zocky on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 05:50:45 PM EST

But that just can't work. We're talking about a major database driven website here.

Hundreds of thousands of articles, plus discussion on articles and the site itself, plus COMPLETE revision history for all pages, plus consistency, plus replication, plus security, plus tracking of recent changes and links to articles, plus user pages and user talk pages, plus dynamic content, plus up to 50 changes per minute in peak periods...

All of this is impossible to implement using existing p2p technology (and frankly, doesn't seem to be possible to do anyway). Beside, it's completely outside the scope of the project.

Current technologies provide a working solution - a beast of a DB server, multiple web servers, load-balancing and massive connectivity make for a heck of a website. Throwing a not-too-extravagant amount of money at it, plus some support (no strings attached) from other organizations will do the trick very nicely.

z.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

yeah, more than I thought (none / 1) (#51)
by speek on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 06:42:07 PM EST

Still, I'm not sure I'd call it impossible. The number of articles is not a barrier, nor is discussion of the articles (such things are already possible on freenet). Revision history would be tough, but probably doable since each revision could be considered a separate document and treated like any other. I don't see consistency as being of great import - whether you get the latest version or a slightly old version at any given time doesn't seem vital. Replication is what P2P is all about. Security? What security? Freenet has it, unfortunately up the wazoo. Who needs it? You'll have to explain that one more. Links can be done (freenet has links), recent changes is revision history again. User pages are just more documents, and again, freenet already has such concepts covered.

It sure is outside the scope of wikipedia - that wasn't exactly what I was saying. I was thinking, beyond just the wikipedia people, there ought to be a group trying to put together a p2p app that would accomodate this type of site, because there are lots of free-content sites that run into this trouble when they get big, and it'd be nice if a solution could be created that didn't require any centrally owned hardware. The task is very much like implementing a p2p web, which is essentially what freenet is. Freenet's shortcomings, in my view, have to do with too little resources, too much emphasis on encryption, anonymity, and security, and not enough emphasis on ease of use, flexibility, and performance. But I see no reason such a project couldn't be successful.

But, yes, it'd be a big project :-)

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

consistency is vital (none / 3) (#52)
by zocky on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 06:53:02 PM EST

The concept is that you are always working on the live version of article, so it's of vital importance that you see the current version.

Edit conflicts (i.e. somebody saves a page while you're editing it) are already quite a nuissance.

z.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

well (none / 1) (#53)
by speek on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 07:10:26 PM EST

If you were making a database and serving up the data, then people would come to you and demand that you serve up consistent data, and not out-of-date data. If, however, there is no one to make such a demand of, then you have to just accept that whatever data is returned to you may be more or less out-of-date. This is not a system conducive to on-line banking, that's for sure. Not for software coding either. But, for long-term documentation and such, and even for threaded conversations, I think it's adequate. Conflicts will surely occur, document version histories will split, and people will have to do work to merge branches. But I think it could more or less be workable for these types of applications, where the correctness of the data is not so important.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Usability issues + QA (none / 2) (#59)
by zocky on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 08:37:26 PM EST

If it becomes too tiresome to edit articles, people just won't bother.

Now, many casual readers correct typoes and spelling errors. Who would do that if they weren't certain their correction will count?

Also, the main QA tool is tracking changes. Vandalism, bad formatting, wording, grammar get corrected literally in minutes. People have watchlists of articles they're interested in and knowledgeble about and check changes to those.

If there's no central database, there is no reliable way to track changes, so there's no practical way to do QA.

z.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

yup (none / 1) (#62)
by speek on Mon Dec 29, 2003 at 08:57:37 PM EST

Not denying the difficulties. It remains to be seen whether freenet will prove to be worthwhile. But note that this idea of tracking changes to provide QA for specific articles is something freenet would already be well suited for, and any person doing such a thing would easily stay on top of any particular document of interest to them.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

The biggest problem I can see (none / 1) (#72)
by dipierro on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 09:15:26 AM EST

is that people would have to download a client.

Other than that I think it's a great idea. Basically freenet without all the secrecy nonsense, with an easier editing interface, and with all the copyright information tagged in an electronically readable format (alternatively force everything to GFDL, but that's a subprime solution).



[ Parent ]
Isn't it funny (none / 2) (#76)
by speek on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 10:28:40 AM EST

A computer is a worthless pile of silicon without software, but the biggest obstacle to using a computer is the need to install software.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

The biggest problem I can see... (none / 1) (#78)
by zocky on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 10:48:25 AM EST

is that you can't work together on a single document, if you don't know what that single document is. p2p is not the answer.

z.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Huh? (none / 0) (#91)
by dipierro on Wed Dec 31, 2003 at 09:31:36 AM EST

Why can't you know what that single document is? P2P can be the answer, it just has to be implemented properly. For instance, Wikipedia could PGP-sign "officially sanctioned" versions. And there's no reason things have to be completely decentralized. If you needed to, you could still have Wikipedia as a central directory server.

[ Parent ]
Versioning (none / 0) (#94)
by zocky on Thu Jan 01, 2004 at 10:07:36 PM EST

How do you know what the latest version is? Many Wikipedia pages change several times a day in average, sometimes dozens of time in an hour. THere has to be a central server to know which version is officially current.

z.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Like I said (none / 0) (#98)
by dipierro on Fri Jan 02, 2004 at 09:35:03 AM EST

There can be central server(s). Napster had one, Kazaa has one, even the DNS system had one. And this isn't even strictly necessary. You can determine the latest version without having a central server. And strictly speaking, you don't even have to know the latest version in the first place. Most merges can be handled automatically. Others might need human intervention, but this wouldn't be all that difficult. Editors are already looking at changes of unknown users anyway. I think this would actually solve more problems than it causes. I'd prefer to not have one organization have a special control over the version of the database that everyone sees, even if they are currently using it in an ostensibly neutral way. I'd rather not have a central location for the scientologists or Diebold or whatever organization to attack. Yes, the threat of forking accomplishes these goals to some extent, but forking Wikipedia is extremely hard.

[ Parent ]
Wiki's problem: quick anaylsis and solution (2.26 / 19) (#65)
by BadDoggie on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 12:45:40 AM EST

The problem isn't its popularity. It's the same thing that killed so many of the dot-bombs: lack or loss of focus.

Wiki began as an encyclopaedia -- a noble start. In a short time it went concurrently multi-lingual. Also good, but a tax on resources and a loss of focus as those who would have contributed to the English version which could have been followed up by editors instead went to the version in that contributor's mother tongue.

But then Wiki went too far. Among the offerings: Brilliant prose (ha!), pictures (massive bandwidth drain), chat, personal pages, quote database, dictionary, and more. While these are in some way related, Wiki is trying to be too many things to too many people, and that with its limited resources.

Do we really need another chat/blog spot? Another internet dictionary? Many of these subjects could and should be handled by other sites, just as some which are already listed under "Sister Projects".

Other sites and servers should handle <dictionary/pics/chat/scoop/infantileRamblings>.wiki.org. Using database replication, the interrealated systems could still remain more or less up-to-date without one single system being hammered into submission.

If they get rid of all the tangential crap and go back to being just an encyclopaedia (even multi-lingual), I'll support it, as I did when it was first mentioned here a couple years ago. I'll go back to writing for it. I'll help with the DB replication code. I might even send in a few bucks/euros. But I'll be damned if I send more money to support yet another ultra-mega-meta-project which is doomed by its directors' inability to analyse a system and project and set limitations thereon.

woof.

"E pur se muove." -- Galileo Galilei
"Nevertheless, it moves."

Brilliant prose means "well written" (2.60 / 5) (#70)
by The Shrubber on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 08:33:35 AM EST

I don't think "brilliant prose" fits in with your point.  They just use it to mean "articles we believe to have been particularly well written", sort of a showcase.


[ Parent ]
Sigh... (3.00 / 7) (#74)
by zocky on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 10:23:53 AM EST

I know that you can't know everything, but I do wish people would ask for clarifications before judging. So, I'll pretend that you asked "Why are there talk/meta/pictures/dictionary etc., when these are obvious drain on resources", and answer that.

Meta pages (name starting with wikipedia:) are just ordinary wikipedia pages with yellow background, living in a separate namespace. There's a lot of stuff to write about the encyclopaedia that you don't want in the main article space.

Pictures are obviously needed. Come on.

Wikis for dictionary, quotes, textbooks were established when it became clear that people find Wikipedia's wiki to be a great tool for those and started massively inserting them into the encyclopaedia. It was decided that it's undesirable to have them in the main encyclopedia, so separate wikis were setup for them. They're really nice projects and their resource use is negligent compared to encyclopaedias.

There is no chat.

Talk pages are essential to the process of writing the articles. It's where people ask questions, comment on the articles, discuss their opposing views, etc. all without fouling the articles themselves. They are also used for working out policy before it's posted to wikipedia: meta pages. There are also communal talk pages, the reference desk (for help with writing content)and the village pump (for general community discussion).

Talk pages are again normal wikipedia pages, with a yellow background, and one can be created for any artcle or meta page. Implementing talk as a blog (instead of a wiki page with full revision history) would save resources, especially for the communal talk pages, which I estimate to represent 5 to 10% of the whole database size.

But, it may not be worth it. There is not much discussion of wikipedia. I'd say wikipedia (despite being on par with slashdot or sun, trafficwise) produces less discussion then Kuro5hin. People don't go there to chat, they go to write an encyclopaedia. General discussion is discouraged.

Wiki format also has many advantages for discussion: you can correct your typoes or wording, delete your comments, delete other peoples comments (if offensive or when archiving), you have a common blackboard for ironing out text or policy, etc. And, since revision history is kept, no text is ever lost and every deleted comment can be reviewed by anybody.

I don't know whether it's the common goal or the wiki format of discussion, but people on wikipedia are much nicer to each other than on your normal blog. I would never start a comment on wikipedia with a rant like the one above.

_Note_ that some content *is* permanently deleted - copyright violations, articles with no meaningful content, created by vandals or inadvertently created by readers, are quickly removed after review. Articles with no encyclopaedic value are removed after a 5-day procedure, involving discussion and attemts to rescue useful information. A large part of requests for deletion is turned down and articles are improved instead.

z.

---
I mean, if coal can be converted to energy, then couldn't diamonds?
[ Parent ]

Pictures, 'chat' and user pages almost required (3.00 / 13) (#75)
by jrincayc on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 10:26:07 AM EST

I disagree with pictures, chat and user pages not being part of an internet encyclopedia.

First of all, pictures. Take your favorite encyclopedia and look at it. Is it only text? Nope, not unless you have a rather unusual or really old encyclopedia. Try describing how levers work, or how perspective works without using a picture. Possible, yes, but far more difficult than with a simple diagram. If anything, Wikipedia has far less pictures than most comparable paper encyclopedias. Pictures are a vital part of Wikipedia, and are not in any way tangential.

Secondly, the 'chat' features. I assume that you are refering to the talk page that each user and each article has. How would you propose that you coordinate an online encyclopedia creation? If you have a question about a fact in the article, without the talk pages you would be forced to put the question in the article. After a few times of this happening, the article would look like a k5 discussion, not an encyclopedia article. The talk features allow this communication to happen outside of the article. Regular encyclopedias don't have talk pages, because the authors have other ways of discussing the articles that they are creating. Wikipedia needs the talk pages, because there needs to be discussion about what should go in an article, what shouldn't, clarification requests and all the other reasons that chat about the article needs to happen.

Lastly, user pages. Take a look at say, the Scientific American. Look at an article and flip through a few pages until you see a little box called The Authors. It describes a little bit about the author(s) of the article that you are reading. Say I am looking at a change in an article. I may disagree with it, so I need to decide if I should modifiy or remove the change. If I am looking at an economics article, and the person who made the change is a PhD economist, than I should probably think quite a bit harder if I think that they are wrong, than if it is a person who's main interest is flower gardening (not that PhD economists don't make mistakes about economics). Also, say I see a person consistently formating articles wrong, or making some other kind of mistake. I can go to their user talk page and discuss the issue with them. Also, if I like their contributions I can go and thank them on their talk page. In other words, the user pages are very useful for the core mission of creating an encyclopedia.

The picture, chat, and user page features of wikipedia are very important for the core mission of creating an encyclopedia. Almost all encyclopedias have equivelents to all of them, they just might not be as transparent to the reader as the features in Wikipedia.



[ Parent ]
Why don't they use Google's AdWords? (none / 3) (#92)
by l3nz on Wed Dec 31, 2003 at 11:03:05 AM EST

They have plenty of good content and a huge number of visitors - why they can't use Google's AdWords and make some money out of it? If it's good enough for K5, it should be good for everybody else too....

Popk ToDo lists - yet another web-based ToDo list manager. 100% AJAX free :-)

redundant -1 (nt) see Why no ads by AlexBoldt (none / 1) (#93)
by jrincayc on Wed Dec 31, 2003 at 02:51:34 PM EST

See for example Why no ads on this page.

[ Parent ]
That wasn't too hard (none / 2) (#97)
by Jugalator on Fri Jan 02, 2004 at 03:41:27 AM EST

Letter to our readers and contributors
By Jimmy Wales, Wikimedia Foundation, Director
December 28, 2003

...

Status as of Dec. 31, morning
Money raised: $31,326.38
(counter not updated live)

Seems like I won't need to donate this time. :-) Otherwise, this is one of few services on the internet that I appreciate enough to donate for.

Alternatives (none / 3) (#101)
by mr100percent on Sun Jan 04, 2004 at 01:19:33 PM EST

There are alternatives to Wikipedia also, I'm a big fan of Everything2. They're a bit more creative, and thus more entertaining. People can write less neutral (ie. Less boring) and others can add writeups below an existing one, creating the chance for debate or different coverage of interesting topics.

There's also H2G2, the old fashioned Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.


--Never trust a guy who tattoes his IP address to his arm, especially if it's DHCP.

Problem with E2: copyrights (none / 1) (#105)
by AxelBoldt on Fri Jan 16, 2004 at 09:57:05 AM EST

The main problem with E2 is copyrights. All authors keep the copyright to their writeups. This means that no one, not even E2, is allowed to change or update writeups. Furthermore, if you are a teacher you cannot take an E2 writeup, change it, copy it, and distribute it in your class or put it on your website. The E2 material is also completely useless to other free projects such as Wikipedia.

By contrast, Wikipedia's content is being used in creative ways all over the net.

[ Parent ]

Oh please, no. (1.75 / 4) (#102)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon Jan 05, 2004 at 01:42:55 AM EST

Wikipedia is one of those projects whose mindless hubris pisses me off. They actually brag about having thousands upon thousands of badly-written, disorganized, half-assed inaccurate articles on a lot of topics few people care about. And if you're lucky, actually written by people who have taken an undergrad-level intro course on the topic.

But this is not the worst. The worst is the tendency of the Wikipedia cult members to answer any criticism of their "encyclopedia" with something along the lines of "instead of complaining, you should contribute". This is specially annoying when your criticism is that their "bazaar" model, taken literally, will never produce a well-organized, authoritative reference collection. "Instead of arguing that random contributions from unaccredited people on the web will not produce a well-organized, accurate, and authoritative reference, you should contribute!"

(Yes, I called Wikipedia a "cult", which is a bit of an exaggeration, but their complete imperviousness to attacks of logic is a cultish trait.)

--em

Wikipedia seems to work (none / 0) (#103)
by jrincayc on Mon Jan 05, 2004 at 10:56:23 PM EST

I agree that at any given time, Wikipedia contains lots of junk. Unfinished articles and incorrect articles are quite easy to find. On the other hand, articles fairly rarely get worse. Wikipedia does have over 10,000 articles that have been edited more than 20 times and have more than 10 authors (just in the English edition). These articles are usually quite good. I certainly find useful information in Wikipedia all the time.

Over long periods of time, Wikipedia articles do get better. Read some of the comments in the first k5 articles Britannica or Nupedia? The Future of Free Encyclopedias and Wikipedia is wide open. Why is it growing so fast? Why isn't it full of nonsense?. Look at what articles the posts on K5 complain about. Then look at the current article. Two years later, almost all of the complained about articles have been fixed.

You certainly are not obligated to be the one to fix all of Wikipedia's articles that you dislike. However, Wikipedia got where it is today by getting more people to come and contribute to the encyclopedia, and not particulary by defending itself against people who think it will never work.



[ Parent ]
Can it work? (none / 1) (#104)
by AxelBoldt on Fri Jan 16, 2004 at 09:50:03 AM EST

their "bazaar" model, taken literally, will never produce a well-organized, authoritative reference collection.

That's certainly an interesting claim worthy of investigation. Unfortunately, you haven't given any arguments in its favor.

Personally, I think it is too early to tell what the Wikipedia experiment says about your claim. It's definitely true that the quality of pretty much any Wikipedia article increases over time, and it's also true that a large number of junk articles are added to Wikipedia every day. So it's not clear what the average article quality does over time, and it's certainly not clear whether it will ever reach your high standards. Maybe another sieving project will eventually have to be placed on top of Wikipedia.

However, here's an experiment: take your claim and replace "well-organized, authoritative reference collection" with "well-written, stable, widely used multi-platform operating system".

[ Parent ]

indeed... (none / 0) (#106)
by teichos on Fri Jan 23, 2004 at 12:51:07 PM EST

...the turf grab among Wikipedians is annoying, to say the least. The quality and accuracy is poor in many places, with dead links, terrible organization, POV all over the place, and lots of really stupid articles. Many entries are straight out of legitimate encyclopedias, or copied from somebody's Freshman C+ term paper. Then they have the audacity to vote things to be deleted when the newspeak crowd decides their turf has been violated. I prefer Internet Encyclopedia, now Wikinfo (they have redesigned it and use Wikipedia articles where Wikinfo articles are missing), and the other wiki's. Wikipedia is over.

flames and modbombs are the most pathetic forms of flattery
[ Parent ]
Fund raising for Wikipedia | 106 comments (86 topical, 20 editorial, 1 hidden)
Display: Sort:

kuro5hin.org

[XML]
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest © 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!