Wikipedia is developing an easy-to-use visual editor to make it easier to muck up emend, revise, and polish pages of "the encyclopedia that anyone can edit". The new editor is currently available only in a decidedly beta and somewhat buggy sandbox version – which you're free to toy with to your heart's content – but it's clear …
"After all, the mere fact that Wikipedia pages took a bit of thought to construct and edit was a barrier to the thoughtless."
Or was it a barrier to non-geeks? Experts in, say, Hittite sculptures probably don't have the time or inclination to deal with non-WYSIWYG editors.
I look at this as a way to encourage the real experts to take a hand. That existing barriers certainly wasn't much of a barrier to people with axes to grind.
This is a great point.
Wiki content is skewed in favour of technical articles, because of the technical barrier to article editing. Which is why the science, maths, and coding pages are some of the most well constructed out there.
Anyone want to make a hieroglyphics GUI for the ancient Egypt page editing? :)
Subject experts got driven off ...
... not by non-WYSIWYG editors, but by 15-25 yo dickwads. Try taking a look at what the V&A have to put up with:
which despite having an OTRS banner across the top still get some twat whining on the talk page every couple of months or so.
it's not the editing, its the editors
I think the huge number of good looking pages suggests the problem is not the editing.
I think that the nasty way that a few self-appointed people run roughshod over other's work is far more off-putting. I'm not going back, for a start.
"I think that the nasty way that a few self-appointed people run roughshod over other's work is far more off-putting. I'm not going back, for a start."
I can identify with that. I had a technical report of mine misquoted so badly that it reversed my actual conclusions.
When I corrected the page and added a citation to my article, it was reverted by the original editor. I put it back again and added copious notes to explain why. The original editor reverted it again.
It was eventually sorted out, but it left a bitter taste. I can only assume that my report's conclusions did not match the prejudices of the original editor.
Re: it's not the editing, its the editors
This is the real problem, not the interface. I too used to be a fairly prolific contributor to Wikipedia, although my contributions consisted primarily of correcting spelling and grammatical errors. I'm not talking about "correcting" American spelling, either; if an article was written with American spelling then I actually followed that convention throughout that article, to ensure consistency.
However, the wiki seems full of stuck-up little 15-year-old dipshits who go around reverting people's contributions for the hell of it. One correction I made - where "atmosphere" was spelled "atmoshpere" in the article, was reverted within 30 seconds of me correcting it, and when I corrected it again and discussed it on the talk page, I copped a torrent of abuse of being a grammar nazi.
So I gave up bothering. Wikipedia need to evict these pathetic, arrogant little shits if they want to retain serious and capable editors.
"the encyclopedia that anyone can edit"."
Yup. BITD I used to do some editing on wrongipedia, but I gave up. In particular when I found something that was incorrect and had no citations I would research, correct and add citations only to find that the usual suspects had "corrected" my work.
However I do think that making editing easier may be a good move in respect of this sort of thing. That group of editors who like to rule their own entries with a rod of iron will find it harder to keep up. That same thing will also make it harder to deal with all the idiots "poisoning" entries either from personal bias or more likely for the lulz.
I never found editing difficult in the first place, certainly not something you needed to be technically minded to do. However you did need to be reasonably intelligent to fathom it out. That is surely a good thing in so far as you don't want idiots changing entries. To my mind if you make something reasonably hard work to do then only people who care enough will do it.
"However, the wiki seems full of stuck-up little 15-year-old dipshits who go around reverting people's contributions for the hell of it."
I think you're making a mistake on the age there. I suspect most of those stuck up dipshits are somewhat older than that and editing the wiki is their own little power trip. You're dealing here with put upon nerds with little or no control over their lives who want to feel big about something. Their age is irrelevant.
@ Grease Monkey
I agree with you, but to my way of thinking while they might not be physically 15, they certainly are a -mental- age of 15! ;)
What about equations?
The current use of LaTeX practically ensures that the contributor has to have a university education in a hard science...
Re: What about equations?
"The current use of LaTeX practically ensures that the contributor has to have a university education in a hard science..."
So? You don't need formulas in the Flatulence humour entry. And if you want to write an entry about particle physics I hope you have a university degree in physics...
Sooner this intellectual ponzi scheme is shut down the better - the basic principle of operation is to present a poorly written and factually inaccurate stub of content to the wider world, and then expecting the wider world to improve it. They're basically trolling the rest of the world for free content.
Add to that an organisation (a registered charity) that couldn't care less if its workers dropped dead at the terminal or starved to death, and add an organisational structure which benefits bullies, and other parasites as has been pointed out countless times before.
Take a look at the recent wikipedia banner add - notice how its contributors appear to need new clothes and a good meal.. That's wikipedia's reality - unpaid, unwanted, uncared for contributors being exploited.
Screw it to hell.
If you don't care about credibility in your sources, I doubt you'll have a problem with Wikipedia, WYSIWYG or not.
On the shinier side...
... another contender for word-processing-on-the-web, this time even more open-source-y.
No, I don't particularly care for more influx of mostly-unwashed into wikipedia, nor for its politics and other whatnots. And I don't particularly mind a bit of a learning curve -- if you can get knowledgeable about something you can get at least halfway decent with writing about it, even if it requires occasional looking at cheatsheets for the right code to jot down. But that doesn't mean this mightn't turn out to have upsides after all, though the wikicrowd is likely a bit too self-absorbed to make the best of it. It might even be interesting to watch them try, for those so inclined.
Kinda, maybe, not so much...
As a Wikipedia editor i don't see the problem with this.
Wikipedia is overly beurocratic for simple things and i expect this is what scares people off from joining.
vandalism edits can be undone simply and quickly, vandal IP addresses blocked easily too and there's also countless bots trawling through recent edits to find vandalism.
If someone adds something to Wikipedia, it's a doddle to source it and keep it or disprove it and remove it in minutes.
Vanadalism and hate-speech are endemic
"vandalism edits can be undone simply and quickly, vandal IP addresses blocked easily too and there's also countless bots trawling through recent edits to find vandalism. If someone adds something to Wikipedia, it's a doddle to source it and keep it or disprove it and remove it in minutes."
Sure... I call this BS... When my bio was being repeatedly vandalized, the big Cuhuna himself figured it was easier to delete the bio itself, rather than argue with a few hate-mongering WP editors. Jimmy Wales himself knows how dysfunctional the WP community is, and he doesn't seem to care...
I doubt it.
What puts people off joining is that most people have lives.
What makes people leave is realising that their Wiki Peers are a collection of power tripping idiots who are only really interested in seeing how many edits, deletions and other little power trips they can rack up.
As for 'sourcing' things, I call BS on that, I've had articles which a 2 second copy and paste into Google would have verified as accurate and true removed by editors who obviously don't give a toss about 'sourcing', instead using their own prejudices to decide what's true and what's not.
So, thanks Wikipedia Editor but no thanks, I'll keep my knowledge to myself in future.
My experience of Wikipedia is documented here
Wikipedia, a broken model
Read the comments in Wikimedia's blog, the HTML and JSON views are only temporary, for testing and will no longer be available when the actual thing rolls out.
Can it work for translations?
The side by side view would be really interesting if you could use it while translating. Just thinking...
The icon is NOT for Apple, but for C3PO, the protocol droid that spoke all those languages.
Fewer casual edits
For myself, my casual editing days ended when Wikipedia imposed a block on the entire /16 net block which contains my home system. It no longer became possible for me to edit casually, I had to log in first. The bloc kwas removed, re-added, removed again, re-added again, and now I don't even bother trying to click the little "edit" link when I find myself looking at an error.
The most dangerous thing about Wikipedia is not the numerous bigoted editors...
... It's the consumers who, through no fault of their own, have absolutely no idea that anyone can add any BS they want to this. If Jimbo Wales and co. were genuine about Wikipedia they would have A MASSIVE disclaimer before any article in bold text stating that ANYONE can edit any BS they like and what you read might be wrong or heavily biased (often in an insidious way). They used to have a small print disclaimer, but even that has been hidden away now.
There are SO many times were I've seen people I know propagating myths that they've read on Wikipedia. Even worse, I've witnessed the entire cycle of false information on Wikipedia being reported by lazy and incompetent journalists in the media - the media report has then been in turn duplicated around the web and then cited as a reference (a circular reference) by Wikipedia itself, and now stated as fact and impossible to remove due to the control asserted by the zealots who have nothing better to do than wish to use Wikipedia as a propaganda tool.
I agree with the above poster - the sooner Wikipedia crashes and burns the better. Agreed, that there is a lot of great stuff on there, but that'z exactly the problem - the great stuff means that people are simply caught out by the insidious nature of the bias that is often present.
Same as its ever been
The feedback of incorrect information, slowly creeping it's way up the ladder to become 'fact' has always happened. There has always been lazy and incompetent journalist happy to accept unreliable facts. There has always been people reporting "facts" they heard in good authority off a bloke down the pub. Historically people have spent their lives devoted to debunking these sort of "everyone knows" myths.
Wikipedia, like everything else in the online information age, makes the process faster. It doesn't cause it. It doesn't encourage it. It does its best to prevent it. It cannot stop it. But if anything we are better off with Wikipedia, because at least there is far greater transparency when it happens.
Or would you rather got back to the days when no-one had access to this vast store of information, and no-one knew where, when and how these myths became prevalent?
for adding some perspective (the first thing that seems to get lost when people talk about Wikipedia).
If it wasn't for Google artificially placing links higher up in search results, I wouldn't ever see wikipedia.
The phrase, tits on a bull comes to mind.
Gave up adding to Wikipedia and so have several friends who are expert in their fields (one published in trade journals) because of the legions of wiki nutters, not because it's technically difficult to do.
Obligatory xkcd reference
Sums up everything that is wrong with Wikipedia.
Is there anything xkcd doesn't cover?!?
I'm getting to the point where I regard xkcd as a better, more accurate and more comprehensive source of information than Wikipedia...
A friend of mine who is a university prof told his students they could not cite Wikipedia in their references. Partly because he considers it lazy research and partly because he discovered how many citations on Wikipedia were actually circular. That is to say a reference on Wikipedia cited another document as a source and if you followed that document's citations and so on you eventually got back to the original page on Wikipedia.
Also have you ever noticed how many pages there are out there where the text is identical to that on Wikipedia? Often it's lazy people creating pages and just lifting the content wholesale. Sometimes, however, it is Wikipedia "editors" lifting their content wholesale.
Now I'm sure ol' Jimmy had the noblest of intentions when he set up his wiki, but some editors clearly do not. There those who mess about with entries for the lulz, that was something that was always going to happen. There are those who will screw with entries because they happen to have a personal interest. PR companies are a favourite for this and again it's something Wales and his team have to deal with. But people lifting content wholesale is something I just don't understand. Plagiarism to get a better mark on a paper? I can see what that might happen. Plagiarism for financial gain? Again I can see why somebody might resort to that. But plagiarism for no gain whatsoever? Nope I just don't get it.
The problem of circular references, however, is something that Wikipedia really need to deal with. Not only do they need to be weeded out, but the content that uses them as justification needs to be called into question.
Circular referencing can be tackled
If you use books published before 2001 or just reputable books rather than lifting content off the web.
No worries about unwanted edits
Most articles are tightly controlled by one or two persons who see their "article pool" as their personnal kingdom and immediately reverse any edit made to their precious little domain. I still try to correct innacuracies that I find, roughly once a year, only to be immediately put off for another year by the endless heated discussions with people who don't bother reading what you write (but disagree anyway).
I used to think that Usenet had became a rancid cesspool; it was nothing compared to Wikipedia politics. The good thing is, that brought me back to Usenet.
Wikipedia is currently running an Editor Survey, which includes questions on issues such as those described here. I encourage disaffected editors (and other editors!) to complete the survey. You should see a link if you have a cookie from a previous editing session or if you log in.
Better things to do with my time thanks.
- It's true, the START MENU is coming BACK to Windows 8, hiss sources
- How UK air traffic control system was caught asleep on the job
- Pic NASA Mars tank Curiosity rolls on old WET PATCH, sighs, sniffs for life signs
- Google embiggens its fat vid pipe Chromecast with TEN new supported apps
- Microsoft: Don't listen to 4chan ... especially the bit about bricking Xbox Ones