Donald Trump sets record
am 27.11.2016 von Dirk Franke
Six million views for the article on Donald Trump on November 9, 2016. This is an all-time record. Even Michael Jackson and Osama bin Laden had fewer views when they died.
A lot of people use Wikipedia to inform their knowledge about current affairs. In a sheer comparison of the size of the audience, this was never more important than on the article about Donald Trump. But what were these people looking at? Who were the 4.800 authors that have edited this article since its beginning in 2004 and how was determined which of its more than 17.000 versions was shown on November 9?
The article started out in 2004 with just a few words. Ten years later in January 2014, the article has had more than 1.000 edits and is grown substantially. The new synopsis reads totally different from the first version and is still changing. Even in details: from "business executive" (2004) to "business magnate" (2009/2014) to "businessman" (2016). The "television personality" became a "television producer". Compared to the discussion Trump has stirred elsewhere, this is not much. The tonality in the article remains steadfast and dry.
But Wikipedia is not only what is written in the article. It's also what is not written and what the authors discuss or fight out in edit wars. Edit wars on November 9 consisted of whether Trump is a "businessman and politician" or a "politician and businessman". Also controversial in the following days were the picture. Is it too unflattering? Is it too nice? Contentious was the merit of the of the term "President-elect", as the electoral college bestows this title on December 19, not the popular vote on November 9.
The discussion about the Donald Trump article is intensive but civilized. Mostly it is even concerned with real issues. But even within Wikipedias standards of pedantry and emotional disinterest, the solid dry tonality of this article needed some help. Already in June 2015, the article was marked as autoconfirmed. This means that only registered users who had successfully mastered some ten edits or more in at least four days were able to edit it. The restriction was extended in the early hours of November 9 to extended confirmed access, meaning only registered editors who had at least 30 days tenure and at least 500 edits were able to edit this very special article. The reason given was vandalism and disruptive editing not being stopped by semi-protection, while a full protection seemed overkill at this point.
am 24.10.2016 von Dirk Franke
Since Wikipedia exists, one of the main criticisms against Wikipedia is that anyone can edit. It even is possible to edit and write articles without logging in. But of course, anonymity is also the main strength of Wikipedia. Wikipedia would have never been Wikipedia without this feature. If Wikipedia had banned editing anonymously you would have never heard about Wikipedia because it would have no relevance at all.
The main reason why Wikipedia strives for anonymity lays in its basic understanding of equality and its aversion against privileges. Any edit counts equal just on the strength of its merits as a single edit. It does not matter by whom this edit was made. And when it does not matter who edits, then one can edit anonymously as well. This attitude, of course, did not hold long.
Over time this attitude of naïve optimism did not hold. By now, some people are more important than other ones. Some people have built a reputation that helps them to get their edit through. Others have a reputation that makes everybody else mistrust them and effectively hinders them from editing successfully. But still, all these hierarchies play on an informal and unofficial level. Officially everyone still is equal and it does not matter who writes something. So, anonymous editing will continue.
Even though the equality is gone there are other reasons for the necessity of anonymous contributions. It is simply easier to edit without logging in and there is no real reason to erect this hurdle for editing. In an encyclopedia where editors write about politics and philosophy, sexuality and religion many people may feel uncomfortable knowing that their employer, spouse, relatives can know what these people have for interests and about what topics they are spending their time. This of is even truer when editors live in countries where the state has an interest in the online activities of its citizens. Laws and surveillance against people just posting something on the web have increased in recent years. Wikipedia cannot afford to lose the voices of many who live in areas of the world where it is difficult to express just simple facts.
Also, strong anonymity is the main tool against harassment. It hinders the harassment to spill over from one platform onto other platforms and into the real life. In almost all cases, anonymity is the necessary protection of the weak against the stronger. For an encyclopedia that has at its founding manifesto that everyone can and should contribute it is necessary to give everyone the means to do so. Without anonymity, Wikipedia would be dead.
Wie wird man Administrator?
am 21.10.2016 von Dirk Franke
Am Anfang gab es in Wikipedia nur Autoren und Administratoren. Auch wenn die Online-Enzyklopädie im Laufe der Jahre zahlreiche weitere Funktionen und Ämter eingeführt hat, sind Administratoren im Alltag nach wie vor die wichtigste Nutzergruppe. Sie üben wichtige Funktionen aus: Administratoren können beispielsweise Artikel löschen, gegen Bearbeitung sperren oder andere Autoren von der Mitarbeit ausschließen. Ihre Rechte geltenden jeweils nur für eine bestimmte Wikipedia-Ausgabe, also nicht sprachübergreifend.
In einem Projekt, in dem jeder mitmachen kann, jeder anonym sein kann und jeder Teilnehmer beliebig viele Accounts anlegen kann: Wer bestimmt, wer Administrator wird? Eine Ernennung durch Vertrauenspersonen wäre denkbar, auch die Rekrutierung durch andere Administratoren. Die deutsche Wikipedia hat sich aber von Anfang an für faire Wahlen entschieden.
Wer glaubt, als Administrator geeignet zu sein, kann jederzeit antreten. Noch besser ist es, wenn man von jemand anderem für die Position vorgeschlagen wird. Ist die Kandidatur einmal eingereicht, findet nach angemessener Wartezeit eine öffentliche Wahl satt. Es wird nie zwischen mehreren Bewerbern abgestimmt, Kampfkandidaturen sind also ausgeschlossen. Die Community entscheidet immer nur, ob ein bestimmter Autor generell als Administrator geeignet ist oder nicht. Für eine erfolgreiche Wahl sind doppelt so viele Ja- wie Nein-Stimmen nötig, also eine Zweidrittelmehrheit. Dies soll sicherstellen, dass der Administrator großen Rückhalt in der Community genießt.
An einer solchen Wahl kann jeder Wikipedia-Autor teilnehmen, der die sogenannte Stimmberechtigung besitzt. Um diese zu erwerben, muss er seit mindestens zwei Monaten in Wikipedia angemeldet sein und 200 Bearbeitungen an Artikeln vorgenommen haben. Davon müssen mindestens 50 Bearbeitungen im letzten Jahr erfolgt sein. Verfügt ein Wikipedia-Autor über mehrere Konten mit Stimmberechtigung, darf er trotzdem nur einmal abstimmen. Ähnliche Voraussetzungen gibt es für den Kandidaten theoretisch nicht, jeder angemeldete Autor besitzt also das passive Wahlrecht. In der Praxis allerdings sind mehrere Jahre Mitarbeit und eine fünfstellige Zahl an Beiträgen obligatorisch, um bei einer Wahl ernsthaft Chancen zu haben.
Ist der Administrator erfolgreich gewählt, so hat er dieses Amt zunächst auf Lebenszeit inne. Allerdings gibt es die Möglichkeit, ihn zu einer Wiederwahl zu zwingen, wenn sich innerhalb bestimmter Fristen mehrere Autoren dafür entscheiden. (Die Androhung einer Wiederwahl ist ein beliebtes Mittel, um Unmut über die Arbeit eines Administrators auszudrücken.) Außerdem verlieren Administratoren automatisch ihr Amt, wenn sie seit einem Jahr überhaupt keine Bearbeitung in Wikipedia mehr vorgenommen haben.
Don't be famous
am 20.10.2016 von Stéphane Coillet-Matillon
There have been a couple of incidents on various language versions of Wikipedia lately that reminded me of something very true when it comes to dealing with biographies of living people: if you want to be happy with what the encyclopedia says about you, you probably should hope that it does not say anything about you in the first place.
To be clear, I'm not saying that the encyclopedia's treatment of biographical information is bad. It is, to the contrary, more often than not exceptionally good, to the extent that like with most topics nowadays many a journalist or politician will be caught red-handed getting inspiration (a less flattering but more accurate description would be "plagiarizing") from the project. Thankfully the inspiration normally goes the other way, and it is Wikipedia who uses the press as a source (as it should be). And more often than not be a stark reminder of an essential rule of reporting: nobody cares about trains arriving on time. To the contrary, unusual (or negative) information are more likely to be reported than an everyday occurrence, and, on Wikipedia might very well end up as an outsized chunk of text relative to someone's biography.
That's not really news here, and that's not a Wikipedia issue, to be honest. I blame society for that. But let's say that you are famous. Famous enough to warrant your own notice on Wikipedia, whatever the language. You could be a Washington Post columnist or Geneva's (former) Attorney General (two absolutely non-random examples). In the first case, Gene Weingarten complained that the photo on his article was unflattering (it is). Having tried unsuccessfully to remove it several times, he resorted to the only thing he had left and could actually do reasonably well: complain in the Washington Post column that made him famous in the first place.
In the second case, former Attorney General Daniel Zappelli tried to get the notice deleted altogether, both on English and French Wikipedia. To his credit, he went for a full deletion request rather than unilaterally deleting content. The all-time winner, in that case, would be former German Politician Lutz Heilmann, who went as far as having the whole wikipedia.de domain name blocked because he was not happy with a bio the referenced his darker past. In Zappelli's case, both articles (English and French) were kept, and no one has bothered doing the clean up yet.
What do these two (or three) gentlemen have in common? They, as someone at my work used to say "tried to fight something with nothing". Deleting content that is not good might be the easy way, it might be the obvious way, but it clearly is not the Wikipedia way. This is one of the first things I explain to whoever is listed on Wikipedia (company or individual): you won't be happy with everything you read, but if it is true (e.g. your true face on the picture or your actual past being described), you won't get it to disappear from Wikipedia. You'll be better off bringing content so as to give a more balanced perspective on things (or a better picture).
But as a general rule, if you don't want negative information reported about you, well you can either be a Saint (and even then that might not work) or keep your head low and hope you will never be famous.
Wiki Loves Cocktails
am 09.10.2016 von Dirk Franke
Wikipedia loves Cocktails, that's no surprise. Almost everybody loves Cocktails: colorful drinks, a bit sweet, a bit tangy, a bit sharp. A lovely summer refreshment in the form of a Caipirinha, Mint Julep or Mojito, or a classic dry drink in the form of a Manhattan or a Martini or a glass full of Sazerac. Who wouldn't love them?
Of course, when Wikipedia loves something, it is a thorough, systematic love, affection shown by analyzing, sorting and describing. Wiki Loves Monuments, for example, has grown to a gigantic worldwide photo competition where people from all over the world document registered monuments every September. Wiki Loves Cheese is a project started in France and now followed up by people across Europe to document the incredible variety of cheeses of the continent.
Wiki Loves Cocktails falls in this line, too. Started 2015 in Germany, the project aims to document all classic and well-known cocktails. In cooperation between Wikipedia volunteers and members of the Cocktail forum, the community works on all cocktail related articles. Most importantly: Great show worthy cocktails were mixed and documented by photograph. For example, great pictures of the Ramos Gin Fizz, the Old Fashioned, and the Swimming Pool were shot. The articles about the Sazerac, the Bronx and the maraschino cherry itself were written and referenced. Not only the cocktails themselves were documented, but also the process of mixing.