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The Internet Education Technology

Ask Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales About Online Collaboration 300

Back in 2001 we did a "double" Slashdot Interview with Michael Hart of Project Gutenberg and Jimmy Wales of the then-brand-new Nupedia, which has since become the amazingly useful Wikipedia. This is a perfect time to catch up with Jimbo (as friends call him), and learn not only how he managed to make Wikipedia work and grow so well, but what we can do to help -- and what future plans he has for this outstanding Web resource. (10 of your highest-moderated questions will be sent to Jimbo by email. We'll post his answers as soon as we get them back.)
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Ask Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales About Online Collaboration

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  • by SeanTobin ( 138474 ) * <byrdhuntr@hotm a i l . c om> on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:22PM (#9676502)
    One of the more unique aspects of the Wikipedia (aside from the entire concept of a community edited reference) is its license. The current license for content seems to fit rather well with the goals of the project, but seems to cause a few hurdles as well (i.e. publishing a print version of the Wikipedia). So I guess my question is, what other license models did you consider when starting out with the project and what made you go with the current one? Also, looking back would you have done anything different with the licensing?
    • >seems to cause a few hurdles as well (i.e. publishing a print version of the Wikipedia).

      If true that's only good news - it's going to save quite a few trees...
    • by pete-classic ( 75983 ) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:03PM (#9676941) Homepage Journal
      What do you mean? The GFDL is very friendly to dead-tree publishing.

      The only "hurdle" is that no publisher can get exclusive rights to publish it. Is that what you mean? Do you think that is really a practical limitation in this case? (I don't, as I think it is too big and would take too much startup cost with too small a market for some other publisher to come in and poach.)

      • The only "hurdle" is that no publisher can get exclusive rights to publish it.

        Hrm, I work at a printshop. Does that mean I could take some articles (based on a particular subject), put it into print (with all proper acknowledgement of course), and profit off of it (charging only the printer fees)? And if so, what's stopping anybody from doing it in the first place (aside from the constantly changing data)?

        Seems kinda shady to me...

        • Does that mean I could take some articles [. . .], put it into print [. . .], and profit off of it[. . .]?

          In a word: yes.

          And if so, what's stopping anybody from doing it in the first place [. . .]?

          Short answer: nothing. Longer answer: startup costs, lack of a market, etc. Bottom line is that it would be perfectly legal.

          The FDL [gnu.org] is a Copyleft license. You are encouraged to copy FDLed works and, if you'd like, sell them for any price you can get [gnu.org]*.


          *This like is specifically about Free Softwa

        • by swillden ( 191260 ) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:03PM (#9678658) Homepage Journal

          Hrm, I work at a printshop. Does that mean I could take some articles (based on a particular subject), put it into print (with all proper acknowledgement of course)

          Yes and yes

          and profit off of it (charging only the printer fees)?

          No need to limit your profits to printing fees. You can charge whatever people will pay. Note that if you distribute more than 100 copies the license requires you to distribute a machine-readable copy with each printed copy, or provide a pointer to the on-line sources.

          And if so, what's stopping anybody from doing it in the first place (aside from the constantly changing data)?

          Not a thing! And that's the idea. From the GFDL preamble:

          The purpose of this License is to make a manual, textbook, or other functional and useful document "free" in the sense of freedom: to assure everyone the effective freedom to copy and redistribute it, with or without modifying it, either commercially or noncommercially.

          Seems kinda shady to me...

          Why? The authors of the Wikipedia content have explicitly given you and everyone else permission to do these things, as long as you follow the terms of the license. What's shady about doing what the owner has given you permission to do?

    • by goon america ( 536413 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @06:07PM (#9680326) Homepage Journal
      And why the GFDL? Would he pick a Creative Commons share-a-like license if he were starting wikipedia today?

      The GFDL seems full of arbitrary-seeming and overcomplicated rules about "Cover texts", "Back-Cover texts", "Invariant sections" and so forth that are difficult to 1) understand the reasoning behind and 2) adhere to properly. Read it yourself here [gnu.org]. It's also requires you to give credit to the "principal authors", whom exactly that would be for a given wikipedia page is impossible to tell with legal certainty. It just doesn't seem appropriate for something like the wikipedia.

  • by deutschemonte ( 764566 ) <lane.montgomery@ g m a i l .com> on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:23PM (#9676513) Homepage
    Has there been any major academic co-operation from major universities or research groups to contribute wikipedia?

    I know people contribute individually, but I am just curious to see if there has been any major institutional contributions that the project is aware of.
  • Donations (Score:5, Insightful)

    by southpolesammy ( 150094 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:24PM (#9676526) Journal
    What's the current state of donations and what is the future of Wikipedia if fund raising without advertisements does not increase?
    • Re:Donations (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hashar ( 787518 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:40PM (#9676708)
      The donations are tracked at : http://wikimediafoundation.org/fundraising The current provisional budget is at http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Hardware_provisiona l_budget and should cover our need until 2005. I personally think it will stick to donation. The simple fact to talk about advertisement already lead to a fork of the spanish wikipedia ! :o) I am almost sure a big organisation will eventually give found like UNESCO or UN.
  • google ads.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Suppafly ( 179830 ) <slashdot.suppafly@net> on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:26PM (#9676545)
    When is wikipedia going to get google ads or some other form of text ads?
  • Advertising? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by obli ( 650741 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:26PM (#9676558)
    How has the word about wikipedia been spread? Has wikipedia actually paid a dime for all it's publicity, I don't think I've seen any advertisement when I think about it.
  • Was wondering if you view the Wikipedia as a competitor or an additional tool compared to a World Book or an Encyclopedia Britannica?

    And do you see the future direction being more or less that way?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:34PM (#9676636)
      There were some interesting quotes from Britannica's VP regarding Wikipedia on the Boston.com website [boston.com]:

      "I think it's exactly the right price," said Michael Ross, senior vice president of corporate development at Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. in Chicago.

      Ross admits to reading and enjoying Wikipedia, and has even gotten ideas there for future Britannica articles. But the absence of traditional editorial controls makes Wikipedia unsuited to serious research. "How do they know it's accurate?" Ross asks. "People can put down anything."

      A few years ago, Microsoft Corp. scoffed at free software; today the company is running scared. Britannica's Ross seems a lot more relaxed about his company's future. It's difficult to see why.
  • by xconslash ( 521219 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:30PM (#9676588) Homepage
    Do you foresee having to add more complexity to your user system? Some kind of rating/karma system to discourage people who have a tendency to write libel?
    • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:50PM (#9677537) Homepage
      The short answer is probably No, but the long answer is more involved. Wikipedia prefers to implement access controls in wetware where possible, to prevent abuse by technically saavy trolls and/or vandals. So, while there may be facilities (eventually) for a web of trust of some sort, and an article review/verification-type system is often spoken of speculatively (ideas and plans bandied about), Wikipedia is not [wikipedia.org] Everything2 [wikipedia.org] and does not, will not have coded experience of that sort.
  • Quality Control (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Raindance ( 680694 ) * <johnsonmx.gmail@com> on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:31PM (#9676605) Homepage Journal

    First of all, the concept of a community-built encyclopedia, open to submissions and revisions from users, is wonderful. It's much like open-source, in fact, and Wikipedia certainly exemplifies how to reapply the OS model to other contexts.

    However, the contexts of encyclopedias and software are different. Significantly so. I'm interested specifically in quality control- you know when code doesn't work when it doesn't compile or results in unexpected behavior.

    In what ways can a Wiki article be bad, and how can one tell? Do you think QC is a large issue for Wikipedia, and do you have any plans to further integrate the community in the QC process (perhaps akin to the slashdot moderation/metamoderation system)?

    • Re:Quality Control (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ignignot ( 782335 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:04PM (#9676950) Journal
      I wonder if it would be possible to write software using a wiki approach. You know, have a web site with the beginning of the program, with clearly defined goals. Each function call or class structure would have its own web site with its own clearly defined goals. Better code would complete the goals with less bugs and / or less run time. I know the bottom line isn't that different from OSS, but I think there would be quite a bit more code reuse, resulting in both better quality code and smaller programs. If you somehow added in some automatic code checking (like submitted code was automatically compiled and then the errors, if any, added to the web site for people to fix), along with output vs desired output checking (output within certain ranges, etc.) Or even keep an old (known to work) function, then compile the new one, automatically compare their outputs for the same inputs, and if they match up for all inputs, replace the old code with new code as the current version. Holy shit I hope I didn't just give away the best idea ever!
      • Wikicracy (Score:4, Interesting)

        by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:22PM (#9677183) Journal
        Speaking about application of the wiki approach in other fields: What about using the wiki approach for the formulation of laws? Imagine if you would be able to co-author your own laws!

        Of course there would have to be the normal off-wiki voting by the usual legal bodies, also probably some law experts would do a finish before that, but a "pre-final" version of the law could be developed the Wiki way.
    • Re:Quality Control (Score:4, Informative)

      by Raul654 ( 453029 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:50PM (#9677523) Homepage
      Wikipedia currently has several organized quality control efforts - Cleanup [wikipedia.org], peer review [wikipedia.org], and feature article candidates [wikipedia.org]. As the name implies, cleanup is for articles that are really in need of TLC. Peer review is for people to assess the factual/neutrality of an article, and featured article candidates is the promotion process for our featured articles (from which I choose the daily main page article). In addition, watchlists let people see when an article changes, so factually incorrect changes do not last very long on well-watched articles.
  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:33PM (#9676618)
    Is there an effort to get articles written on specific missing topics? If one looks at a commercial encyclopedia, the full range of human knowledege is covered. On Wikipedia, OTOH, one finds several articles about slashdot trolls, for instance, while other (important) fields are still unwritten.
    • by hashar ( 787518 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:46PM (#9676765)
      The community portal highlights things that could be done to enhance the encyclopedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Community_P ortal One example is a request to create the article "Tibet independance movement". Articles wich are really small are often listed as "stub" and a list of them is available. Often editors looks at those stubs and try to enhance them somehow (see : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Find_or_fix _a_stub ). There is also a lot of translators that keep importing / exporting articles. A good example is the Român wikipedia that import french articles :o)
  • by Rageon ( 522706 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:34PM (#9676633)
    How is (and how will) the constant bickering between differing sides of the more controversial issues (abortion, religion, etc...) be addressed? Do you expect any changes to the current system, in which it seems the same pages get edited by the same people back and forth every day?
    • by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:57PM (#9676878) Homepage
      I was involved in something like what you're talking about, on the astrology article [wikipedia.org]. It was extremely frustrating, because the article was being sat on by someone who was a true believer, and we got into an edit war over it. I also remember a linked article that was a bio of a modern astrologer, and it was just the gushiest kind of fan bio you could imagine. Well, I gave up in disgust, but checking back today, it really seems to have been greatly improved. Apparently their mechanisms for dealing with this kind of thing do work, although it may take a long time, and some people, like me, may not have the patience for it.
    • Check out dispute resolution [wikipedia.org] and the three revert rule [wikipedia.org]. Its not a silver bullet, but there are guidelines to make it possible to make progress even on highly controversial issues.
    • I like how controversy is addressed in the War on Drugs [wikipedia.org] article. It contains sections "Arguments for the War on Drugs, in whole or in part" and "Arguments against the War on Drugs, in whole or in part". This has got to be the best debate on this subject, ever.
  • Sociopaths (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:36PM (#9676655)
    The systems in place to protect the database from "crapflooders" and "trolls" seems to work quite well. However, someone who is hell-bent on making it their business to turn a particular entry into an edit war unless they "win" seems to still be an issue. The lesser-read entries are more of a concern. For example, I went to look up some information on the Nintendo Mario character and found this user called Marcus2 who constantly kept making edits to other people entries based on his own point of view. Since these entries aren't as of a high profile as, say, Saddam Hussein, what kinds of safeguards can you think of to help ensure less popular topics become skewed?
  • P2P? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by marcello_dl ( 667940 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:36PM (#9676656) Homepage Journal
    Have you ever considered p2p-based alternatives to deliver Wikipedia articles, to reduce the load on the web servers?
    • Re:P2P? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by hashar ( 787518 )
      The problem is that articles keep changing ! There is already some squids servers in front to act as caches, maybe in the future it will be possible for other organisation to connect to those squids and manage their own local copy of wikipedia.
      • Re:P2P? (Score:3, Informative)

        by FooAtWFU ( 699187 )
        Let's watch the Recent Pages [wikipedia.org] feed for a minute or two. Yes. That's a lot of recent changes. A peer-to-peer system would have problems coping.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:36PM (#9676660)
    What methods have you found that work best for getting people not only involved in contributing, but also keeping them contributing to the Wiki?
  • by jdray ( 645332 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:36PM (#9676661) Homepage Journal
    As Wikipedia grows, so grows the opportunity for misinformation to creep in. With a relatively small work, there is a lot of public scrutiny on each piece. What happens when the database becomes huge? What group would care for the integrity of the information?
    • Honestly, the database is already huge (90.1 milion words is *a lot* - for comparison, the Bible has about 823,000. Image how high a stack of 100 bibles would be). Misinformation does creep in once in a while, but we catch most/all of it eventually -watchlists (which let people track article changes) are a tremendous help in doing this.
    • The usual answer is: the articles people care about get a lot of scrutiny; the ones that get no scrutiny, no-one cares about. So the article no-one cares about may have inaccuracies, but since no-one cares it's not much of a problem.
  • by RomSteady ( 533144 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:39PM (#9676694) Homepage Journal
    I like the concept of a wiki, but I'm a bit concerned about the current implementation.

    Right now, we are seeing several instances where crawlers are disrupting wikis, spammers are embedding wiki links to their sites to boost their Google rankings, and advertisers are placing ads in wikis until someone goes through and nukes them.

    Do you have any thoughts as to how wikis can be modified to prevent things like this in the future?
  • wikipedia (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nspace13 ( 654963 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:39PM (#9676696) Homepage
    wikipedia has everything, they even have a self-referential entry [wikipedia.org], are there plans as this grows to have any kind of trusted moderator system? how do you handle people who troll (input bad data, delete good data)?
    • Re:wikipedia (Score:3, Informative)

      by Raul654 ( 453029 )
      There is a developing heirarchy of users (anons, regular users, admins, beauracrats, stewards, developers). Anons can edit pages. Regular users can do that, and also have watchlists and upload files. Admins can do all that, plus protect pages, delete pages, and ban users. Beuracrats (of which I am one) can do that, plus promote other admins (there are about a dozen of these on the english wikipedia). Stewards have beuracratic access to all wikipedias (there are about 10 of these). Developers have ssh access
    • Re:wikipedia (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Brandybuck ( 704397 )
      The trolls don't bother me. It's the software hackers thinking it's so cool now that they can write articles on nuclear physics that worries me.

      I'm fricking serious about this. The first time I saw a scientific article in Wikipedia that used a science *fiction* novel as reference, I just about screamed. These articles aren't being written by experts, they're being written by fanboys.
  • by hanwen ( 8589 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:40PM (#9676703) Homepage Journal
    How did you get so many contributors to Wikipedia?
    Do you think your techniques could be used for other
    projects as well?

    (Specifically, as an open source author, I would love to have my users collaboratively developing the user manual - what do I need to get this going?)

    • I'd suggest that the wikipedia model doesn't really transfer well to other types of projects. I run a web site that catalogs free books and accepts user-submitted reviews (see my sig), and there are really no other successful examples of this kind of informal collaboration that I know of. (Some other people are trying, but I can't think of any finished projects.) Of course, just because something hasn't yet been done more than once, that doesn't mean it can't ever be more than once, but I think there's very
  • by tjansen ( 2845 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:45PM (#9676758) Homepage
    Is there a limit of how successful an open wiki system can be? Sooner or later, not only some simple minded lunatics will try to attack the wiki by breaking its content, but there may be distributed denial-of-service attacks from hacked systems (which makes banning-by-IP impossible) and more intelligent automated vandalism (e.g. inserting semi-random words or sentences in the texts).
    Do you think that a volunteer force can defeat this forever manually, or do you expect that wikipedia will be more restricted at one point?
    For instance, an Advogato-like trust network could be used to make sure that people are real, and a voting system for entries from unknown contributors.
    • by ediron2 ( 246908 ) * on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:01PM (#9678635) Journal
      do you expect that wikipedia will be more restricted at one point? For instance... a voting system for entries from unknown contributors.
      (falls off chair, laughing)

      After all, slashdot and kuroshin show that voting works to weed out incorrect content!

      As 'Replies to Common Objections [wikipedia.org]' explains, it's impossible to damage the information stored (short of an unpatched OS/MySQL/CVS vulnerability), easy to clean up the damage done, easy to monitor changes collaboratively (anyone can see the list of recent changes), etc. Defacements tend to be reverted in minutes. There's also a frank admission of wiki*'s flaws. Future possible countermeasures are discussed here, including authentication, peer-review, etc.

      The same wikipedia response to common objections talks about bots, automated attacks, marginal quality, etc.

      It's even possible to prevent defacing of a link you plan to 'publish': in July 7, 2004's wikipedia story, someone mentioned wikipedia and needing to link to a specific version of a wikipedia entry to prevent slashdot-referenced articles from being doctored. Turned out that this, too, was trivial to implement. In other words, I could create a set of URL's to unalterable articles simply by using the
      'http://en.wikipedia.org/w/wiki.phtml?title=S lashd ot&oldid=2346815' syntax discussed in slashdot comment 9630476 [slashdot.org].

      Pretty cool, huh?
  • by westendgirl ( 680185 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:45PM (#9676762) Homepage
    How do you think Wikipedia helps humans overcome their tendency to hoard knowledge? In capitalist societies, those with specialized knowledge can reap tremendous profits if market demand warrants. Even in non-capitalist societies, those with specialized knowledge may receive elevated status or other powers. Given that Wikipedia follows a not-for-profit model of anonymous submissions, what drivers lead people to contribute? Do you think status-oriented, rent-seeking individuals contribute to Wikipedia?
    • Speaking as a Wikipedia contributor:

      * Altruism. I like to make knowledge available to everyone.

      * Sharing knowledge is pleausurable. I think that humans might be hard-wired to be this way - it's a big evolutionary advantage to your community.

      * Following on from that, sharers of knowledge are celebrated in the community.

      * Wikipedia's interface is very elegant. Connecting something into the web of knowledge is fun in itself, in the same way that writing a nice piece of code or completing a piece of art is.
  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:48PM (#9676790) Homepage Journal
    We're seeing a definite growth in large-scale collaborative projects with the coming of age of the Internet. These ventures (open source, wikipedia, etc) are run by volunteers, pretty much like traditional non-profit organizations, except for the fact that the number of volunteers that they have access to is phenomenally (sp?) large compared to their offline counterparts.

    Ofcourse, these projects go dead against the brick and mortar corporations (Microsoft, Britannica), which, for years have based their business around selling content that is now available for free due to the effort put in by organizers and volunteers of these open-source projects.

    Needless to say, these corporations have been openly attacking these volunteer activities as anti-constitutional, anti-capitalistic, etc. Do you think, that collaborative, volunteer-based societies are the thing of the future? Do you think that someday people/organizations doing things for the good_of_society rather than for profit (hate that term) will become a rule rather than an exception?

  • by sh0rtie ( 455432 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:51PM (#9676809)

    Ever thought of offering alternative data access services other than HTML ?
    examples of other successful community driven sites such as IMDB [imdb.com] can be queried via email (in a structured way) and a huge number of applications are now built upon these capabilities alone, ever thought of offering up the data in alternative formats (XML/SOAP/TELNET/TXT etc etc) so clever programmers can create applications that could utilise the data in new and interesting ways ?

  • China and Wiki (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Stargoat ( 658863 ) <stargoat@gmail.com> on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:52PM (#9676824) Journal
    Hey Jimbo,

    How do you feel about China's blocking of Wiki, and what effect, if any, do you think it'll have on the service that Wikipedia can and cannot provide to both the Chinese and the world community?

  • by tgrigsby ( 164308 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:54PM (#9676841) Homepage Journal
    Have there been any attempts by corporations to purchase and/or secure rights to the WikiWiki technology?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Posting anonymously, well, for obvious reasons.

    Currently, the direction and "policies" of wikipedia are set by a very small, very active, and very vocal cabal. This group of users rejects any change to the fundamental power structure of wikipedia unless it suits their needs, and detracts from the project either by driving away users who disagree with the power structure, or outright banning of those users.

    There seems to be no effective way to get the cabal members under control, and looking at the histor
    • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:11PM (#9677850) Homepage
      Hello, and welcome Wiki-trolls. We're glad to have you with us. Is this 142.*.*.* speaking? Perhaps you can tell us which you are, so that we can post the detailed explanation of why you are banned? We'll be open if you are.

      Besides, everyone knows that there is no Cabal [wikipedia.org].

      For those not in the know, and are interested enough to type shortcuts of the form http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/shortcutgoeshere- WP:VFD is Votes for Deletion, where pages are sent to be voted on for deletion, WP:RFA is Requests for Adminship (now featuring at least one completely ludicous candidate), and you can look up the WP:RULES which this user finds so oppressive.

  • competition (Score:2, Insightful)

    by asyncster ( 532683 )
    Wikipedia has experienced trememdous growth over the last couple years. It has surpassed all other encyclopedias in terms of article count and up-to-date content. However, it seems that wikipedia could have a stifling effect on other encyclopedia companies that are simply unable to compete. Has wikipedia's presence hurt the market for printed encyclopedias?
  • by Lodragandraoidh ( 639696 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @01:59PM (#9676895) Journal
    How do you ensure the accuracy of the entries?
  • by ArsonSmith ( 13997 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:02PM (#9676915) Journal
    the abillity to have colabertation in artwork similar to wikipedia and open source. I see this would be most usefull in 3d applications. If there were a universal format for 3d that could be easily converted to-from other 3d formats. This way someone could create a 3d model of say, the statue of liberty, this could then be improved appon and details added by the general public and anytime someone wanted to have a statue of liberty in their 3d environment it would already be available with eventually nearly exacting details.

    Is this something that is possible with the type of frame work? Would it be possible within the artistic communities?

  • When are they gonna come out with the "Hitchhiker's Guide" handheld version of the database? ipods are already smaller than the prop used for the Guide in the 80's tv series, and the total text data is only what like 17 gigs or something? And I could put as much "Yankees Sucks" vandalism in it as i wanted.
  • Any comments on The Open Encyclopedia Project [open-site.org] which appears to have a similar objective/goal as Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] - which you have done a very nice job with BTW! ;-)
  • (10 of your highest-moderated questions will be sent to Jimbo by email.

    Yeah, but can I submit an edit to someone else's highly moderated post?
  • by managementboy ( 223451 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:05PM (#9676956) Homepage
    I would like to be able to have a copy of Wikipedia for offline use. When will we see the first Wikipedia "distribution"? (SuSE/Redhat etc. Wikipedia anyone?)
  • My Question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pmaccabe ( 747075 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:05PM (#9676957) Journal
    What are you currently involved in as far as legal pressure to modify the current system of copyright and/or patent law that restricts the public domain and the availability and distribution of information? Where have we gone from Eldred v. Ashcroft?

    What can we do to help in the current efforts?

    Do you have frequent legal issues brought against you by others with regards to your material, or has this been the exception rather than the rule?

    How are these issues dealt with, are there any cases that are particulary indicative of the problems with today's copyright laws?

    Thanks for your time, keep up the good work.
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:07PM (#9676974) Homepage
    online for 48 hours,
    One great source--if you can trust it [boston.com], contains the familiar criticism that "it lacks one vital feature of the traditional encyclopedia: accountability."

    How do you respond to this comment?

    Does you feel that the Wikipedia community has group standards that are comparable to, say, the group standards of people who have graduated from journalism schools?
  • by Florian ( 2471 ) <cantsin@zedat.fu-berlin.de> on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:11PM (#9677022) Homepage
    Wikipedia's entire content and submissions are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License (FDL). This license is considered problematic by some people in the free software community because it allows either the author or future editors to put invariable sections into a document. Do you share these concerns? Could somebody, theoretically, fork off a version of Wikipedia "enhanced" with invariable, i.e. proprietary, content?

    I understand that there were not any good alternatives to the GNU FDL when Wikipedia was started. But would you rather pick a Creative Commons license for the project today?

  • The beer aspect (Score:5, Interesting)

    by paroneayea ( 642895 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:14PM (#9677059) Homepage
    I understand the concept of free as in freedom, and not as in free beer. I recognize that they are not always the same thing. And I am an advocate of free software, quite frankly.
    But one night when I was driving home with my father, I explained to him the concept behind wikipedia. He thought it was fascinating, and yet it dumbfounded him. How can such a thing afford to exist? What about the massive server costs?
    I did the usual explaining of donations and such. However, he raised a valid point: It would be difficult for us to have many successful projects donation-wise.
    How do you think free as in freedom content can continue to exist in the future, and where do you see it going... financially?
  • by no reason to be here ( 218628 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:16PM (#9677088) Homepage
    That is to say, do you know if libraries (especially any major research libraries) have begun linking to Wikipedia on said libraries' online resource pages?
  • by wcrowe ( 94389 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:22PM (#9677182)
    Other encyclopedias cite sources for their work. Wikipedia does not seem to have a facility for this, and I have yet to see sources cited in any of the articles. Am I correct in my assumptions? Why aren't sources cited? It would add credibility to the project.

    • Some are.

      Most of the time, however, the knowledge come first hand.

      The thing to understand is that the articles generally will point you to external links and other related articles, and that becomes the sources for cross-reference.

      In reality, most sources out there are biased and were not cross-examied to the extent the wikipedia can be, so ultimately, wikipedia will becaome more authoritative.

      Besides, you do know how to use google don't you?
    • by cascadingstylesheet ( 140919 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:54PM (#9677588)

      Other encyclopedias cite sources for their work. Wikipedia does not seem to have a facility for this, and I have yet to see sources cited in any of the articles. Am I correct in my assumptions? Why aren't sources cited? It would add credibility to the project.

      I have seen sources cited in some articles. But it seems inconsistent, true.

      Anyway, citations only mean that some other schmuck said it too ;) OK, it may help somtimes...

      I think that Wikipedia and similar efforts highlight how we should question all media. The mere fact that something appears in video or dead tree does not necessarily make it more likely to be true. Nor are expert reviewers infallible or free of bias.

    • I agree with this criticism of Wikipedia. However, I disagree with the statement that "other encyclopedias cite sources for their work." Some articles in some encyclopedias have a bibliography, but even when present it is not comparable to, say, the standards of citation for a journal article. I probably need to look at the Britannica 3 again, but my experience is that MOST statements in MOST encyclopedias are delivered ex cathedra, as it were.

      I just took a quick look at an Encarta article [msn.com] and I see a cont
  • by sotweed ( 118223 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:28PM (#9677269)
    What is the incidence of well-meaning but misinformed people introducing incorrect information? Do you make any attempt to track this?

    Related, what is the incidence of what appears to be intentional sabotage by introducing incorrect information? Can you distinguish?
  • Maybe... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cinquero ( 174242 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:28PM (#9677276)
    ... this isn't the right place to ask, but how about integrating Project Gutenberg with Wikipedia? Wouldn't it be great to have hyperlinked online books? :-))
  • by LionKimbro ( 200000 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @02:39PM (#9677398) Homepage
    Today, to write into a wikipedia article, you find a page, make a few changes in wiki syntax, and talk about the changes in the talk page. You also send notes in your personal user page.

    I'm wondering: Is that process going to remain the same?

    What process do you see people using in the year 2015 to collaboratively build articles in the future?

    What about organizing groups of related pages- what kind of process do you think will develop there?
  • by vettemph ( 540399 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:03PM (#9677710)
    How do we keep the entries honest?

    I was able to alter a current entry with no questions asked. The change was an attempt to add information according to my point of view.

    It seems to me that someone could do this with an agenda and repeat daily. Is there anything to stop someone from leaning entries in favor of political or (anti)corporate positions.
    Once an entry is considered historically correct, can the entry be locked? Would we want to?
    I realize there is a way to point out disputes once found. I'm concerned with bent truth, finalizing a dispute and keeping it from recurring.
  • by wcrowe ( 94389 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:04PM (#9677739)
    Is Wikipedia basically becoming the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy?

  • Money issues (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Achoi77 ( 669484 ) on Monday July 12, 2004 @03:08PM (#9677796)
    Considering the fact that wikipedia has gotten bigger than ever, are there any real potential fears that the lack of a steady cash flow may cause the whole project to collapse? Has any (and what kind of) unfavorable contingency plans been considered (like ads) and outright rejected, only to be reconsidered again at a later time?
  • by Pallando-zi ( 630704 ) <{douglasr} {at} {chiark.greenend.org.uk}> on Monday July 12, 2004 @04:11PM (#9678745)
    I see the long term danger to Wikipedia being that control over the key data, the trust metric, is centralised.

    Do you see any way in which readers of a future version of the Wikipedia could choose for themselves on an individual basis who they trust, and be presented with an edited view of the data based on that preference?

    This might require third order mediated trust [toothycat.net]

  • I know this is a late question and probably won't get modded up, but I'll ask it anyway:

    What lead to the demise of Nupedia? What is wrong with a set of peer-reviewed articles instead of the free-for-all that Wikipedia as turned into? Can a more scholarly version of Wikipedia ever succeed? (I.E. something more like Nupedia where you have to somehow demonstrate knowledge of a particular topic first.)

    While I can find info about this elsewhere, I would like to get Jimmy Wales' perspective of this, particularly with his ties to Nupedia in the past.

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault