back to article Wikipedia kills Greatest Show On Earth

The curtain has dropped on the web's longest running farce. Or so it seems. Back in December, we told you the tale of an epic online spat pitting the cult of Wikipedia against the quixotic CEO of Overstock.com. It had everything from conspiracy theories to tabloid UFOs. There was sockpuppeting, spyware, and a cover up of …

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I can't believe I'm saying this....

....but that wikipedia super-admin has the right idea. You can't run something like wiki based on intentions and motivations and guessing what people are there for, or relying on rumours of what they are there for. You can only slap them with the ban-stick when their behaviour is unacceptable.

Unfortunately it seems wikipedia as a whole runs on the "he hasn't done anything wrong but we have a bad feeling about him / he's done something wrong but he meant it for the best" mentality

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Black Helicopters

the Wikimadness to end all Wikimadness

... If only!

I feel sure that there will one day be an even bigger madness, and I'm not even sure that this one is over!

Anonymous, 'Cos these guys sound more and more like the CoS every day.

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Coat

Wiki

Why is it called a Wiki?

Because all the other 4 letter words have been taken!

Ok, ok, I'm going!

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Paris Hilton

Who is hurt by this

These people obviously heartily enjoy this madness, the rest of the world uses Wikipedia to look up strange animals, and fruits( the occasional Doctor Who trivia) and it works for that I say stop worrying about it ignore it and it will go away.

PH because this is her kind of story.

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Alien

Not a word

Didn't understand a frigging word of this.

And no, its not the Friday pints fault.

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Flame

They've caught him before, but they only ever punished the accusers

'But FT2 won't acknowledge the Wikimadness. The way he sees it, Wikipedia banned Bagley - and then it banned someone else. "Two people with some kind of battle going on off-site, decided to use Wikipedia as their battleground for their PR campaign," he told us. "Both get caught and dealt with. Life carries on. We deal with cases like this as routine."'

Of course, what he doesn't mention is that the conflict of interest (and possibly the sockpuppeting) were well-known in Wikipedia-critic circles for ages but anyone pointing it out got banned from Wikipedia forever as a sockpuppet of the banned user WordBomb, even if they weren't. (To be fair, established Wikipedians generally got unbanned eventually.) Then, when some high-up Wikipedians found and presented solid evidence that Matanmoreland had been abusing sockpuppets (for the second time), the Wikipedian bigwigs declined to act on the basis that he'd convered his tracks well enough to avoid IP evidence.

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Coat

A: Who this hurts:

@AC: It's clear who this hurts:

Naked Short Sellers

---

Mine's the 3-foot long greatcoat with the trading tickets in the pocket ...

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Dead Vulture

@Who is hurt by this

Got to agree. Wikipedia is handy for casual browsing of information for interest's sake, or - with suitably massive caution - as a starting-point resource for research, as long as it's not research for anything even vaguely important.

Other than that, Wikipedia's nothing. Squabbles amongst its editors, the machinations of its so-called 'elite': these are of no consequence to the rest of us. Let the Wikipedians get their undies entangled over this, if they want (although I wonder even how many of *them* might actually be bothered). As far as I'm concerned, while it works for the above-mentioned purposes that's fine. If one day it stops working for those purposes, well, I'm sure we'll all muddle along without.

This is not news.

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Anonymous Coward

Okay, now it's obviously time for...

The "Naked Coed Short Selling" T-shirts to go on sale...

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Happy

@Joe K

So put it in to pubspeak:

Some bloke reckoned that there were some right dodgy geezers around and gave 'em a little bit of a slap. The dodgy geezers got narked and started slagging people off behind their backs. First off the landlord barred the one who started it for getting mouthy then he went and barred the dodgy geezers for being right slags. Trouble is, see, that we are still waiting to see what happens in the pub car park - it could all go off. Meantime the landlord is getting grief for not knowing who to bar from the pub and being a dithering twat in the first place - he might throw a wobbler and bar everyone.

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Alien

@Not a word / Joe K

I think it's like when some teenage girls get in an argument about who fancies who and start defacing each other's myspace profiles.

Why anyone takes it seriously I don't know.

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@frymaster

"Unfortunately it seems wikipedia as a whole runs on the "he hasn't done anything wrong but we have a bad feeling about him / he's done something wrong but he meant it for the best" mentality"

Well, yes, one of the core guidelines (though, mind you, not policy) is WP:AGF - assume good faith. From personal experience, much of the harm that comes is from people who aren't trying to do so; they're merely bad writers, or don't understand copyright issues. If you immediately start treating them as vandals, rather than misguided users, they are driven away, and it's been shown (rather informally) that casual editors do a majority of the content work. -> http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/whowriteswikipedia

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Stop

Pubspeak is closest to the truth

Folks are nuts if they think this does not affect them. It affects every person reading this. The connection between this story, and your retirement, is deep. But it is huge.

Read the link in the story to DeepCapture.com .

Patrick

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@Elmer Phud

brilliant.

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I dont believe it....

... I actually read through ANOTHER Wiki story and comments on El Reg !

Gotta get some self control, gotta realise that ' I dont give a cr*p' is a genuine response and for once in my life Im in tune with the majority on this planet :)

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Paris Hilton

I For One Welcome out new sockpuppet banning overlords.

Honestly though, after a day of trying to figure out why some .NET 2.0 code is having trouble getting recordsets from a newly clustered M$ SQL database - and on my fifth rum drink for the evening, it's hard to see why this is relevant other than the excellent comments made.

Paris - because I don't get her relevance either.

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Go

Wiki has killed nothing - see for yourself

After an hour, I'm halfway through the www.deepcapture.com page. I've followed most of the reference and source links too.

Holy sh*t!

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Boffin

Clear right and wrong in this case

Yes, Wiki folk seem pretty screwed up. But Patrick Byrne and the Overstock crowd make them look positively normal and balanced. I've read up on this issue about every time some aspect of it has been posted here. I took the time to read through the wiki edits in question. On one side (Mantanmoreland or whoever) there were edits that tended toward neutral language--something along the lines of naked short selling is a somewhat legal technique that is possibly dubious ethically and is under some legal attacks in some states .) On the other side (edits made from Byrne and possible sock puppets) there were edits that used terms like "fraud" and hurled various personal insults against any that might naked short sell.

Looking at it from the point of view that Wiki is an encyclopedia, the "correct" side in this particular fight was amazingly clear--one doesn't really need to know a thing about naked short selling to know that Byrne was in the wrong. Quite honestly, Byrne and the fucked-in-the-head-CEO of Overstock are quite entitled to rant against naked short selling all they want, but I don't see how an online encyclopedia--even one as dubious as Wikipedia--should be required to provide a personal rant page for them to the detriment of Wiki's ability to have a page that is appropriate for an encyclopedia.

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Who is hurt? You are!

I'm not saying it's right or wrong, and I'm not passing an opinion on the wikishenannigans. But when you next fill up your car (and empty your bank account), remember this article. Why is the price of oil so high? It isn't the retailers that are pushing it up, and it isn't OPEC that is under producing. Oil is high because speculators can't make money out of equities and have moved into commodities including oil. One of the classic hedge fund tactics is selling naked puts, if they hadn't been able to do that, they wouldn't have grown so big and wouldn't be putting your money in their pockets right now.

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Happy

> By Joe K. WTF II

It's like insider dealing only on the outside.

If you were inside you could illegally manipulate things to scam money on unsuspecting investors. People don't do it because it is illegal. Enron and such come to mind.

On the outside you can set up rumours in popular watering holes. It's called Slander or Libel. It can cost a firm money, like the early assaults via the Internet on Proctor and Campbell and MacDonalds and etc.

E-mails full of lies were sent in chains with the intent of putting people off using them or just having a cheap laugh. But the rumours cost millions. And innocent people got hurt.

So other counter rumour mongers set up sites like Urban Legend and Snopes' etc.

So if you get in with Jones' and co and start putting rumours out about the Utah company, the shares will fall and you can buy them or get someone to buy them. Then you can strip their assets if they go bump. Or you can catch the customers as they leave.

And if you pick a firm that is just ripe, you can cost them a fortune and they won't be able to pay the lawyers to sue you. Or they will be forced to try and sue Jones' first leaving a pit like SCO dug, for innocent parties to fall into.

And if they lose, the freedom of the internet is at stake so we don't want the rumour spreaders caught.

Personally, I'd change the law over-night, catch the crooks and hang them after watching their wives and children being raped and butchered in front of them.

Then I'd start on their cronies.

And then the 419ers.

Then Tory B Liar after letting him know what was coming and stopping him fleeing to Washington.

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Boffin

@ Patrick Byrne

<< Folks are nuts if they think this does not affect them. It affects every person reading this. The connection between this story, and your retirement, is deep. But it is huge.>>

Help me out here. I'm no financial expert and I don't pretend to understand most of what's been said, but the gist here seems to be that many corporate types are bent and are working frauds to obtain money.

I'd offer a more shocking revelation if I told you that water flows downhill.

Which is *not* to say that nothing needs be done about it: crime is crime, and should be dealt with. I've no time for the dishonest.

My point related to Wikipedia's role in all this. Wikipedia *as Wikipedia* is of no consequence. Sure, if it's part of the mechanism of the fraud then fine, let's recognise that - but even then, that doesn't imply that Wikipedia is itself a criminal enterprise. Any more than eBay (and I'm gritting my teeth while I say this - it's the effort of trying to be objective where bloody eBay is concerned) is a criminal enterprise just because it happens to enc... gah... *unintentionally facilitate* fraud and the fencing of stolen goods.

Wikipedia is an interesting idea, and (within certain constraints) a semi-useful information source. If it's approached with the knowledge that it can't be relied upon to be reliable, then one shouldn't have a problem with it. The internal politics, the squabbling and in-fighting, the elitism and the nepotism... as far as I can see these are problems only for the people who want to get involved in them. The rest of us can safely ignore them and use Wikipedia for what it's meant for: the aforementioned strange animals, fruits, and Doctor Who.

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Don't Panic!

I wonder at what point Wikipedia will become self-aware and start telling its readers that it is not a relaible source of information?

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It affects us all?

"Folks are nuts if they think this does not affect them. It affects every person reading this."

I wholeheartedly agree. It *DOES* affect every person reading this. It affects us in the way that many of us are collectively thinking "Well, that's another 5 minutes I'll never get back. Why the hell did I waste my time reading that?"

We have the Cult of Scientology, the Cult of Google, the Cult of Apple, and now the Cult of Wiki. Keep an eye on your children or you may lose them forever.

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Anonymous Coward

This is why wikipedia gets a roasting.

No one really wants it to be taken too seriously, because it is too open to abuse, and people gaming supposed knowledge for hidden agenda.

It is nearly a public duty to make sure wikipedia is discredited, so people don't go there thinking all they see is fact, which of course the wikipedia is far from.

It is a useful thing but nothing special, and it would be more interesting if people published their own works, in some ways wikipedia has stolen from us, the web could be far more interesting then it is, without wikipedia letting all and sundry publish under their name.

It is has nearly turned a little cringe worthy when someone posts a link to wikipedia, as some divine knowledge source, so still some more discrediting work to be done :)

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IT Angle

One question about short selling

Why doesn't the company respond with a stock buyback?

Then all the short sellers will be forced to bid the stock way up and the company can make a huge profit by selling it's own stock slowly onto the market.

That is of course if there are any fundamentals underlying the stock value, which is unlikely in this Dog+World 2.0

-HJC

Victim of viscous illiquid credit market.

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Happy

Interestink

Mr. Gary Weiss's profile on wiki's currently locked : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Weiss

Plus "international financial journalist honeymoon's in India" : http://www.forbes.com/opinions/2006/10/17/india-nuclear-energy-opinion_cx_gw_1017weiss.html

Not at all transparent.. ROFL.

PK

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Happy

P.S.

Thanks to AntiSocialMedia : http://antisocialmedia.net/?p=35

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@Penny Morris

To quote the Economist, who put it better than I could:

"...Speculators do not own real oil. Every barrel they buy in the futures markets they sell back again before the contract ends. That may raise the price of “paper barrels”, but not of the black stuff refiners turn into petrol. It is true that high futures prices could lead someone to hoard oil today in the hope of a higher price tomorrow. But inventories are not especially full just now and there are few signs of hoarding."

http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=11454989

Oil is expensive because it's a non-renewable resource (from the perspective of a human lifetime), we're using increasing amounts of it, and it's running out. If you are that desperate for a scapegoat, then I suggest blaming witches, it's more logically defensible.

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Anonymous Coward

@Spleen

"That may raise the price of “paper barrels”, but not of the black stuff refiners turn into petrol."

The price of a "paper barrel" today, for delivery in October, defines the price that someone will have to pay the oil well owner for a barrel "black stuff" on October 1st. So the continuous ratcheting up of the price of "paper barrels" does have a real effect on the price of "real oil".

If it didn't, OPEC would still be getting $40 a gallon instead of $120.

"Supply and Demand" only works as a balancing mechanism when the supply and the demand are both "real". When the "demand" is not for "oil as fuel", but instead is for "oil as a commodity", and the demand is not constrained by a finite supply of money ("we don't care what the price is, because we're going to sell it to someone else before we pay for it anyway") you get the sort of inflation that we've seen over the last 18 months.

The fact that the Economist doesn't seem to understand this (whether they think it's a good thing or not) is a bit scary.

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Unhappy

@You selfish, reactionary, self righteous anti-wiki bastards.

>It is has nearly turned a little cringe worthy when someone posts a link to wikipedia, as some divine knowledge source, so still some more discrediting work to be done :)

Yeah that's right, fight against knowledge! Don't try and help, burn, burn them all! Who needs free information anyway!?

A century ago would we have found you protesting the Encyclopedia Brittanicas factuality? Or the OED because there were so many unpaid contibutors? Since when did the profit motive ensure total factual accuracy anyway? The commercial information markets have peddled lies and half-truths as fact as long as there's been printing presses. They still do. Every f***ing day.

If Wikipedia's not that good or factually accurate it's primarily because you (and your loathsome kind) prefer to spend your time being snarky and aloof about it as opposed to getting your hands dirty, making a real effort and improving it. Think about that. It's YOUR fault, you lazy snide c****.

Despite the odd article and topic that people may be drawn towrds 'gaming' Wikipedia is still useful to MANY people and whatever your feelings towards it it looks like it's here for a few more years yet.

Given that it is the most high profile site of it's type it's clearly a good opportunity to examine issues of governance in a massive decentralised network. Questions need asking and boundaries need testing. This is an interesting and exciting test case and as such, IS newsworthy IMHO.

I have to say I'm impressed with what has been accomplished with wikipedia so far and hope to see more collaborative efforts and initiatives like it in the future. We must however be vigilant as to who holds the keys and have mechanisms that allow for dissent and prevent 'party members' tendency towards rent seeking behavior, even if the 'land' is purely intellectual.

In this story I think both sides have a point AND both sides have behaved badly. There are some interesting issues to mull over and talk about and I'm dismayed at how quickly it's degenerated into luddite Wikibashing :-/

Roger Heathcote

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Stop

Don't people make you sick?

Apparently, I come across as a people person, but I am nothing of the sort. People wind me up something chronic with all their self-centred, petty squabblings. People always seem to want to "discuss the issue in public", so everyone else knows what's going on. Key point is, I think, who the feck cares?

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IT Angle

When did the War with Eastasia start?

The crazy world of Wikipedia is also busy arguing as to which year it was when WW2 started:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reliable_sources/Noticeboard#Reliability_of_sources_for_World_War_II_start_date

(maybe we need a Wikimedia icon)

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@ Roger Heathcote

"If Wikipedia's not that good or factually accurate it's primarily because you (and your loathsome kind) prefer to spend your time being snarky and aloof about it as opposed to getting your hands dirty, making a real effort and improving it. Think about that. It's YOUR fault, you lazy snide c****."

Well, actually, it's more to do with (and this is quite some time ago, I admit), when I found some inaccuracies (regards martial arts), and tried to go in to correct these, after researching, locating citable resources etc, it turns out my IP address was already blocked for "vandalism". Quite impressive, seeing as at the time I lived on my own, and had never even attempted to edit Wikipedia previously.

But I guess that makes me a "lazy snide c****" for not spending the next forever jumping through hoops trying to get unblocked by the powers-that-be at Wikipedia when I had done nothing to BE blocked in the first place? Yep, I guess so.

Pass the strange animal / fruit names and Dr Who Trivia, it's all I use Wikipedia for. And then only under sufference.

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