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The Wikipedia killer 
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As I've mentioned elsewhere, if there is to be a killer app that destroys Wikipedia, it isn't likely to be an encyclopedia at all, but some kind of technology that accepts natural language queries, contextualise and summarises all relevant reliable sources on the fly, and outputs the answer in a format most relevant/convenient for the customer. Be that an article, table, list or one word. ("No" obviously)

This will of course only be something the big tech giants can achieve, and since Wikipedia has killed the commercial market for simply providing knowledge, it's likely to be packaged as a freebie with one of their pay for services/products.

Once customers are assured the result will be comprehensive and accurate, and most likely even neutral once the tech is refined further, then the demand for the often incomplete, inaccurate and biased Wikipedian derived knowledge disappears overnight. As such, where studies of Wikipedia's quality have been sparse, limited and even contradictory, stress tests of this tech will be widespread.

It seems likely the tech will always struggle to be as polished as the best Wikipedia article could be if given enough volunteer time. But in realty consumers are already wise to the fact only a tiny amount of what is on Wikipedia is what you would generously consider polished. Indeed, since the tech would be able to follow a Manual of Style and do other basic shit like not repeating itself way better than Wikipedia can in most articles, it likely won't perform so badly even in the polish stakes.

And of course there are two huge advantages of this tech that will absolutely crush Wikipedia - it will always be giving you the most up to date knowledge, and it will never give you information that someone just made up one day, for a laugh.

The threat posed by citogenisis, Wikipedia's greatest gift to humanity, while potentially disastrous to the accuracy of results here, would be managed by some combination of the on the fly process, plus blacklisting and good old fashioned detective work, perhaps even conducted as a crowd sourced effort. How quaint.

For those who think this is a far out pipe dream, consider the pace of technology, and what is already being worked on as we speak.....

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/02/1 ... wikipedia/

....sadly (and surprisingly), the people at El Reg mistake this as a potential future tool for Wikipedians to use to help them write articles, rather than the future basis for their potential replacement.

HTD.


Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:54 pm
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What would kill Wikipedia almost overnight would be Google changing its algorithm and Wikipedia articles no longer coming up on the first search page. Wikipedia and Google have had a symbiotic relationship, though Google has tried to rival it with its now defunct project Knol. In a sense, Google itself is the likeliest rival to Wikipedia. Any great search engine would be.

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Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:52 pm
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Correct. Google made Wikipedia big, and WMF lazy. Because, it doesn't matter what kind of rubbish it is, like WP-NL, Google puts every digital trash can in top position as long as it is named Wikipedia.
Listen, I absolute have compassion whit some Wiki's, like for instance the German. If you see there result, and cossider it is for free, I think you can say they did a good job.

But if you compere the Dutch Wikipedia to the German... It is a huge scandal, I hope I don't have to describe it anymore.
And if you criticize them therefore they troll you out. With blocks, with there abitroll, with cyber bulling, doesn't matter how. Why?
Because they want to keep the situation as it is, let your wiki manege by a few kids with a mental defect, troll a bit around with your arbcom, it doesn't it matter, because your bullshit is anyway in top position. And WMF is happy with you because of that.

The result? A wiki filled up with blunders, copyvio, mouses, rates, but who cares.
And after the feministic porn manie we now start to stable on our mountain of shit articles about women, and let students translate uncontrolled articles for other wiki's, because they look so nice. And that is the direct result of that topranking of Google. And a terrible bad managed WMF of course, what is only focused on donations.

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Fri Mar 30, 2018 5:30 am
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CrowsNest wrote:
As I've mentioned elsewhere, if there is to be a killer app that destroys Wikipedia, it isn't likely to be an encyclopedia at all, but some kind of technology that accepts natural language queries, contextualise and summarises all relevant reliable sources on the fly, and outputs the answer in a format most relevant/convenient for the customer. Be that an article, table, list or one word. ("No" obviously)

It is likely to *include* an encyclopedia. It might not destroy Wikipedia, rather it might harness it, to the point that Wikipedia itself, with its grossly inefficient and regressive governance structure, becomes irrelevant. Here is a vision, I don't claim that this is the only way it could happen.
My long-term interest was democratic structure that could move beyond what we ordinarily think of as democracy, that is reliable-by-design, but that does not reject the "unreliable," but flags it. This was what I started calling, almost twenty years ago, "free association/delegable proxy" structure, harnessing a series of concepts that have been shown to be function in isolation, but never having been tested in a structure of significant size.
Let's call the new project WX. It could start as a for-profit corporation, created to market reliabile knowledge, of many kinds. Reliability would be its core mission. It could sell advertising, which would, becuase of the association with the knowledge engine, also be vetted by structure responsible to the customers, the eyeballs, first. With that revenue, it could pay managers and editors and experts. It would probably have a major crowd-sourced, volunteer component to this, but useful work could earn credits. Stteemit seems to be flourishing with a structure that pays content contributors and reviewers. Quora is selling advertising now, but doesn't directly pay authors, though an author with high success on Quora may have other opportunities. The governance structure of Quora, though, is primitive, knee-jerk, and not reliable, many of the Top Writers detest it.

WX would have a goal of being owned by the public it serves. It would represent itself as the go-to place to read Wikipedia conttent, but reviewed and sorted and classified and stop-loss improved and expanded. The old WP "junkyard space" concept could be used. Let's assume they are using MediaWiki software, though eventually they will develop their own extensions.

Instead of being deleted, content considered non-notable would be moved to junkyard space, where it could still be categorized and sorted, search options could include or exclude junkyard space. Wikipedia is *sufficiently reliable* that I would not automatically send all Wikipedia entries to junkyard space by default! However, one of the problems with Wikipedia is what might be called "crowd bias," which will, almost by definition, differ greatly from the academic bias that would be normal for a print encyclopedia.

One of the major errors of Wikipedia was to exclude people from participation who were deemed to be "POV pushing," if the POV was in some way a minority one. If the POV was a majority position, or at least seemed to be to an often-ignorant mob, it was not sanctioned, which gradually removed, from controversial topics, representation of minority points of view. Experts tend to have strong points of view, so WP became famously hostile to actual experts. Having a point of view contrary to that held by most editors of an article, one will be sensitive to "majority POV-pushing," which is recognizable to any journalist or academic. People with a strong majority POV will be sensitive to "minority POV pushing." Jimbo believed that "fringe believers" would not object to their field being called "fringe," or "not accepted by the majority of experts," say. He was largely correct, but the majority grew impatient with minorities, because of the lack of developed, detailed and documented consensus formation structure.

Consensus famously takes much discussion to find, and "wiki" means "quick." The problem is that if it wasn't quick, it was excluded. How to create a consensus structure that can change, where the past guides the future but does not bind it, was not withint the radar of the naive WP community. But it can be done, and I've seen it. For it to work, the community must actually value consensus, not as an absolute, but as something measurable, the goal being, for any decision, 100% consensus. That goal can be reached more often than the Wikipedia community generally assumes. Operationally, for a relatively small decision, the bottom line for a decision is majority, but majority of what? The handful of obsessives who show up for a discussion on an article talk page?

Yes, but only as a first step.

The WMF avoided expensive responsibility for content reliability and freedom from libel claims by the trope that they were only a service provider, to enable a poorly-defined "community," which, in reality, was only different from the RationalWiki "mobocracy" in degree, not in kind. What is missing, then, from Wikipedia is reliability, and a broad understanding of "human knowledge."

WX would allow anonymous suggestions, but not editing and management. Reliability and responsibility go together. So it would have verified identities.

There are many problems to be resolved, but ... it's possible. WX would start with all WP content, because it could then bill itself as WP or better, increasingly better.


Fri Mar 30, 2018 5:53 am
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Abd wrote:
The WMF avoided expensive responsibility for content reliability and freedom from libel claims by the trope that they were only a service provider, to enable a poorly-defined "community," which, in reality, was only different from the RationalWiki "mobocracy" in degree, not in kind. What is missing, then, from Wikipedia is reliability, and a broad understanding of "human knowledge."

WX would allow anonymous suggestions, but not editing and management. Reliability and responsibility go together. So it would have verified identities.

There are many problems to be resolved, but ... it's possible. WX would start with all WP content, because it could then bill itself as WP or better, increasingly better.


With there leak of (international) legal knowledge they just didn't avoided (expensive) responsibility whit there actions , no, the just jumped in the legal shit! Because with there legal chaos theory they managed to create a international legal torch you don't believe! But, Alexander had plans to go to law school, so he will be a great help for them when things are going out of hand to solve the problems.

The true is nobody can safe the wiki-mouvement anymore, Abr. And if the torch lighten, the whole wiki mouvement disintegrate in small pieces. I think for instance the German Wiki will survives, and the English partly. They go on without WMF. But the Dutch for sure not! And I think that is the reality and future we have to look at.

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Fri Mar 30, 2018 8:56 am
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When Project WX is launched, what would their strategy be when the entire weight of the WMF and the cultist movement behind them attack it as merely being 'Wikipedia with ads' (and owned by an evil corporation)?

I think it would be dead in the water - not respected by the public or seen as an attractive proposition for advertisers, potential employees and volunteers. The timeline just doesn't work - there's 20 years worth of crap on Wikipedia now, spread across five million articles, with 1 in 5 either unreferenced or lacking in references. Think about how long it would take just to do a quick pass and separate out the absolute total junk?

No way can anyone who starts out with a copy of Wikipedia as their base, can ever realistically claim to be better than Wikipedia. People aren't stupid, they'll appreciate quite quickly (and the Wikipediots won't tire of telling them if they don't) just how much of that knowledge, will, in ten or even twenty years time, basically still be what was scraped from Wikipedia, but possibly not updated or improved in that time (because the schedule to make it better is so unrealistic), where Wikipedia's might be. In most cases probably not, the the difference will be clear and obvious, certainly by end of year one.

Consider the workloads of this corporation's managers, editors and experts. They're not only having to wade their way through five million pieces of toilet paper, they're having to respond to the exact same legal issues Wikipedia does because they have the same content (their Section 230 status only obligates them to act once notified), they're also having to review and incorporate suggestions in a timely fashion (with a first time response in the order of hours if you want return business). Managers and senior editors in particular will be busy, since I imagine the proposed system for resolving neutrality disputes, while hopefully fairer and faster, won't be a five minute job! Such an operation also needs a marketing and business development staff, where Wikipedia does not.

It's not my area of expertize, but I think it obvious the current rates charged to advertisers isn't going to cover that level of overhead, even if we assume they were crazy enough to see a direct copy of Wikipedia with no established viewing figures, as a good business opportunity. I suspect early partners would be looking for crazily generous deals.

So the corporation is left in the unenviable position of having to rely massively on the volunteer component. But the volunteers won't be interested, because they know nobody's reading, they have to wait for approval for their edits, and they know advertisers are coining it on on their sweat of their brow, even if they're getting a piecemeal amount back as their cut. Thus, the place really will only appeal to POV pushers, spammers and students looking to make a quick cent. There's no consensus system good enough to divine neutral, reliable content out of that resource pool.

I honestly do not see how Project WX would be a success. It doesn't even seem worth trying to figure out how such a thing eventually becomes oyubkicly owned. If not a complete failure, it would realistically maybe cream off five percent of their views, if we assume there's some level of activity that could sustain an operation through ad revenue.

Everyone focused on creating a replacement encyclopedia, if it has any crowd sourced component at all, has to not only come up with a better system of dispute resolution and quality control, it also has to do what even Wikipedia is failing to do - attract sufficient volunteers to ensure the levels of participation in these systems is sufficient.


Fri Mar 30, 2018 11:00 am
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CrowsNest wrote:
Everyone focused on creating a replacement encyclopedia, if it has any crowd sourced component at all, has to not only come up with a better system of dispute resolution and quality control, it also has to do what even Wikipedia is failing to do - attract sufficient volunteers to ensure the levels of participation in these systems is sufficient.

That is the reason I don't see any future for a successor. At the moment the Google dominance stops, the money stops and the wiki mouvement disintegrates in all kind of small wiki's. Because I think some wikipedians will start there one small and local projects based on there old work on wikipedia.

And there is a iceberg on it's way, the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union. Because that regulation makes it impossible voor Wikipedia to operate in Europe anymore in a legal way. I don't know how they want to solve that problem, because the fines are extreem high. What is for sure is there Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU is doing nothing about this matter. The future of Wikipedia? Very uncertain seems to me, because I don't see any possibility to solve this legal problem in the Wikipedia formule.

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Fri Mar 30, 2018 1:16 pm
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Some of the scientific content of Wikipedia is not too bad. I could see various specialised areas being taken up by genuine learned societies and used to develop properly curated online resources, with actual experts as editors.


Fri Mar 30, 2018 10:20 pm
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Of course there are good parts and articles on every wikii. The problem is Google does't select, as long as it is a Wikipedia article they put it in top position, doesn't matter if the mouses and rats are walking around in it or not. And that makes wiki articles also extreem interesting for POV pushers and trolls who like to spread there point of view or troll work. And in that way a tremendous amount of disinformation or complete nonsense is in the top position of Google. That is the Google/Wikipedia drama. Nobody is checking the information in a proper way, but it is promoted by WMF as the new standard of collecting knowledge with the full support of Google.
Well, everybody who has been for a longer time active on wikipedia knows better. But the rest of the world not!

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Sat Mar 31, 2018 12:37 am
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AndrewForson wrote:
Some of the scientific content of Wikipedia is not too bad.
I beg to differ. Not sure what you mean by not too bad, but I think it says a lot that you didn't say quote good, or even good, or even OK. Surely after twenty years, it should be possible to say "some" of the science content is good, even excellent?

The real quality of Wikipedia's science coverage can be inferred by findings like this....

https://www.livescience.com/51926-are-w ... orthy.html

It's a lottery whenever you load an article on a controversial topic. Less popular pages will simply be incomplete or poorly written.

Despite that being the opinion of an academic who is actually a supporter of Wikipedia, the WMF still tried to debunk his findings by questioning his methods. Absorb that for the minute - Katherine Maher questioned the methodology of a professor of Physics, the latter of which has almost certainly edited Wikipedia more times than Maher.

And while some studies even suggest Wikipedia's accuracy might be even better than "not too bad" in certain circumstances, the devil is in the detail. Like the recent study of pharmacological articles - they were found to be accurate (most likely due to their boring nature, and perhaps Wikipedia's undeclared paid editing problem), but they were by no means complete, and they were written in a tone and style of the undergrad level textbooks they were most likely cribbed from, but were also less organised and cohesive than those works.

As both of these studies showed, the real problem with Wikipedia's science coverage, is that it's not being written by scientists for the general public (and we should consider here that teaching science is way harder than doing science), it's being written by students, most likely at the same time as they are learning about the very material they're editing.
AndrewForson wrote:
I could see various specialised areas being taken up by genuine learned societies and used to develop properly curated online resources, with actual experts as editors.
This is too often the problem with assessments of Wikipedia. People are obsessed with the potential, they never look at the reality, or past progress. The reality is, Wikipedia is seventeen years old now, and it is as establishment as establishment can be in the digital age. So it's telling that this take up you refer to hasn't happened yet. The current Wikipedian in Residence program seems to be ignoring the learned societies, in favour of cultural institutions.

There isn't any barrier to this sort of buy-in happening now, indeed there's never been any barrier to it happening - it's eleven years now since Wikipedia became widely known. Given they're pretty smart people, there's absolutely nothing stopping academics learning what Wikipedia is, how to use it, and thus of their own volition, ensuring the articles in their fields are the very best content available. Then can do this individually, or as part of a collaborative effort inside one of their Institutions.

And yet after all this time, Wikipedia objectively plays no real part in the public education and dissemination of science, it is merely a low rent version of a graduate level textbook. My own post-grad studies were recent enough that Wikipedia was around for me to consult, and I invariably found it to be beyond shit, of absolutely no use when compared to actually reading a book, consulting your tutor or the thousand other ways you can divine understanding, to the point I absolutely avoided it, not even to look at the references. It just wasn't worth it. It has to be the case that the only reason it is ever even read by people actually looking for knowledge or insight, is because it is free and instantly accessible.

The real truth about how academics interact with Wikipedia, might be far more troubling. Another recent study seems to show Wikipedia is read by and even guides researchers. The media lapped this up, lazily presenting it as proof Wikipedia is now respected by science.

A proper look revealed this could be as simplistic as the fact poorly educated editors are picking up studies as references, cutting and pasting a paragraph into a Wikipedia article, whether it is important or even relevant, and they in turn are being seen more often by academics. Worrying, but not proof Wikipedia is accepted by academia.

The cynics interpretation of this study, is that this symbiosis may not only be due to edits by the ill-informed, but indicative that abuse of Wikipedia through COI and self-promotion is probably as popular and effective in science as it is in any other topic. Needless to say, learned Institutions would take a dim view of that.

Anecdotal evidence of such abuse is certainly known to critics. Critics also know fine well that Wikipedia is written by students, and that rather than try to reverse this, the WMF is actively pursuing a strategy which sees it being sustained in the long term by students, not experts. Probably as part of officially sanctioned undergrad courses, in exchange for preferential coverage or simply just a wad of cash. Not good.


Sat Mar 31, 2018 3:10 am
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