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back to article Jimmy Wales: 'I'm Wikipedia's monarch'

The RSA conference usually has some off-topic keynotes at the end of the day and this year was no exception, with Jimbo Wales popping in to explain how the UK's Royal Family aren't the only Wales' to wear a crown. He explained that while the bulk of the work on Wikipedia was done by 100,000 unpaid volunteers, they were …

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Happy

"The secret's in the sauce"

>steamed eggs with Wikipedia

>stir fried Wikipedia with peppers

Wikipedia = rice? If anyone has a better guess please amuse me.

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Joke

Re: "The secret's in the sauce"

Oh, I thought it was "beef".

As we all know: Wikipedia is full of Bull.

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Coat

Re: "The secret's in the sauce"

Horse?

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Big Brother

Wikipedia as a reference? ...

I would seriously-seriously advise people not to use Wikipedia as any kind of valid reference. Most of the articles seem to consist of self-serving advertising very heavily monitored by a select group (or single issue obsessives) who vigorously expunge any unorthodox facts. I guess Usenet has lost a few prize specimens, excluding that gent who MI5 has been trying to assassinate (through the television) this past decade. I despair as to what future historians are going to make of Wikipedia.

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Meh

Re: Wikipedia as a reference? ...

People keep saying this stuff, but I really have yet to notice it. I've read a ton of stuff, from console game hardware to articles about lightning and carbon-saturated lakes to Formula One champions, and while there's occasionally some bad writing or obviously half-assed work in some obscure articles, there isn't much in the way of the horrible distortions you and others describe.

About the worst thing I saw happening was a huge flamewar over policies for describing the contents of various kinds of salami, and whether certain kinds of salami are *real* salami or not.

But even in the console articles - which you would think would be ripe for fanboyism - I didn't see anything very suspicious. And I'm about as neutral as you can get there; I've never owned a (current) game console and even on the PC I play stuff that's usually PC-only.

As other people have pointed out, if you're digging up info on Wikipedia for something that's actually important, you certainly need to check the primary sources yourself - but at least with Wikipedia you can, unlike with, ahem... closed-source... encyclopedias...

I mean, I spent a ton of time reading through a history of World War I, pretty much every major battle (Don't ask me why. Something to do in long airport lines, I guess), and - well, what kind of self-serving advertising are you going to have in those articles? Someone promoting his 'Battle of the Somme'-themed duvet cover set? Red Baron Pizza? What kind of single-issue obsessives will be enforcing groupthink about late 1800s submarine technology?

Yeah, I'm sure the issues you present exist. But their being the norm? Even if we consider selfishness to be the primary motivator of a Wikipedia editor, what percentage of pages are even worth skewing in the first place?

The irony is that in Wikipedia, el Reg and many of its commenters seem to have found their own single-issue obsession - a newspaper and a readership that proudly sing the praises of community collaboration on open-source software projects, and mightily defend its position as a bastion of protection against corporate hegemony, and simultaneously mocks the same principle when it's applied to a different kind of information gathering.

Granted, it's easier to determine whether a printer driver works or a spreadsheet implementation is compatible with Excel, but what about things like the Amazon search issue, or people who obsessively direct technology decisions based on personal ideology? When reporting on OSS, Reg et. al tend to take those issues one-at-a-time, if they're mentioned at all. Top-level open source organizers (who actually have pretty big money behind them, unlike Wikipedia) are generally given a fair shake. But if neutrality issues crop up with Wikipedia it's mockingly taken as an indictment of the whole idea, and Wales and others in similar positions are ridiculed (and have their quotes taken out of context to make them look bad for headlines) as a matter of course.

If you want to bite hands, that's fine - but at least bite all of them, and not just the ones that are too far away to smack you or too big to care.

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Boffin

Re: Wikipedia as a reference? ...

My personal tipping point came some years ago when I was trying to find out how to calculate the angles of a right triangle {atan, yes, but I didn't know at the time}. Wikipedia kindly provided the formula of {somethingsomethingsomething}/((a^2+b^2)-c^2).

I've never looked back.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Wikipedia as a reference? ...

'Battle of the Somme'-themed duvet cover set?

....and there goes another keyboard. Can't help thinking that the barbed wire might be uncomfortable though.

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Re: Wikipedia as a reference? ...

NOTHING is reliable. But when you say "most of the articles seem to consist of self-serving advertising very heavily monitored by a select group (or single issue obsessives) who vigorously expunge any unorthodox facts", can you give an example?

For instance, when one looks up scientific, mathematical and computational entries they appear largely correct. When one looks up more subjective stuff, like history, then obviously there are grounds for disagreement, and at the far end of the spectrum, regarding pop culture, biographies etc, it may well be inaccurate. But who cares? If you expect any source to tell you everything you know about material where there is room for interpretation, then you aren't really able to correctly use any reference material.

So until people can point out significant factual inaccuracies in articles like "Sulphur", "Service Oriented Architecture", "Pythagoras Theorem" etc. I am going to remain sceptical. Just because Wikipedia is more wide ranging than other encyclopaedias, and stretches into areas where much less accuracy is expected, does not mean it is worthless for core reference material.

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Re: Wikipedia as a reference? ...

@John H Woods

I'm baffled anyone saw fit to downvote your very sensible post.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wikipedia as a reference? ...

For instance, when one looks up scientific, mathematical and computational entries they appear largely correct.

On a large generalisation, I agree with this.

My main concern with Wikipedia is that, in the few articles I know very well there are significant factual inaccuracies and on more than one occasion these have had the illusion of truth increased by supporting references. These may well be trivial matters such as specific dates, colours and so on, but on a couple of occasions they have been more "important" (obviously only important if you care about the specific topic) such as people involved in decisions etc.

While this is trivial and I am able to make corrections, it does raise the spectre of doubt about other articles. If it isnt a topic I know well, I have no way of telling if the errors exist or if any that did have already been corrected.

Yes - it is fairly simple to overcome this, all I need to do is go to other sources to verify the content. However, given that I have to go to other sources anyway, it makes the visit to Wikipedia frequently unnecessary.

Wikipedia is good for "hot topic" trivia such as what films an actor has been in or other subjects which are heavily trafficked and where errors & omissions are more likely to be spotted. But as a repository of general knowledge - not really.

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Thumb Down

Re: Wikipedia as a reference? ...

You spelled "sulfur" wrongly.

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Gav
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Boffin

Re: Wikipedia as a reference? ...

The English language Wikipedia currently consists of 4,175,200 articles. Just how big was your sample size that you based your conclusion on?

When you say "unorthodox facts", you mean, of course, unverifiable stuff that no source can be found for, other than some anonymous guy on the internet who edited Wikipedia. Of course that'd be "expunge".

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Re: Wikipedia as a reference? ...

Curse you, Red Baron Pizza!

I'd like to point out that good encyclopedias do list their sources, so you can check them. Wikipedia is not unique in that regard.

But I agree that Wikipedia is often fine as a reference source for non-critical questions. It's often useful for unfamiliar terms or to jog the memory. I wouldn't use it for real research, but then that's what research libraries are for.

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A simple direct question answered truthfully proves that it be so and not a fantasy?

excluding that gent who MI5 has been trying to assassinate (through the television) this past decade..... dgharmon Posted Thursday 28th February 2013 04:17 GMT

Ok, dgharmon, that be too cryptic for me, this morning. Who be he? Spill the beans, please.

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Re: A simple direct question answered truthfully proves that it be so and not a fantasy?

Oh, that would be Mike Corley, of that ilk.

search the gurgle gropes usenet archive for "mindcontrol" or search wikiLies for his name and you will find out more than you ever wanted to know. They even wrote an opera about him.

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Big Brother

Re: A simple direct question answered truthfully proves that it be so and not a fantasy?

That sounds absolutely crazy. For its time.

Some aspects still do sound crazy (broadcasting) but not the surveillance stuff, a lot of people have got smart phones now and tailored content and IMEI and IP addresses, and local storage, keystone.agent etc.

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WTF?

Re: A simple direct question answered truthfully proves that it be so and not a fantasy?

is that site for real? It looks really made up.

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FAIL

King Jimmy's Wiki-mess

FTFA - "Interestingly, the number of contributors with PhD's was double the rate found in the population as a whole."

King Jimmy might want to put all those PhD geniuses to work fixing all those broken links and self-contradicting source articles that Wikipedia calls "References". Times must have changed pretty dramatically since I took English Composition II as a young college student - at that time, a "Reference" was supposed to be a document that actually "supported" your report's conclusions - not just a link to meaningless or contradictory garbage.

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Devil

Re: King Jimmy's Wiki-mess

Do keep up. Your 'reference' that 'supported' your 'conclusions' was just something that took much longer to debunk in the past.

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Re: King Jimmy's Wiki-mess

Evidence, please?

Like so many others, I accept that there are occasions when Wikipedia is baffling, inconsistent, biased or just plain wrong. However, for most of the stuff I'm interested in, which tends to be scientific, it's a useful resource and I should be very sad not to have it.

Glasses really can be half full, you know.

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Re: King Jimmy's Wiki-mess

>@Chris Parsons - "Evidence, please? Like so many others, I accept that there are occasions when Wikipedia is baffling, inconsistent, biased or just plain wrong."

Sounds like you've already seen plenty of evidence yourself. I'm not a "glass half full" kind of guy - I'm a "trust but verify" type of guy.

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FAIL

Wikipedia, c'est moi?

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g e
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Holmes

Not _quite_ like the Queen

Cos he's a shit ambassador for his 'nation'. He'd kill for a tenth the international respect Lizzie2 has ;o)

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Windows

Oh Jimface, you are a tool.

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Joke

Missed the apostrophe

Should be 'king Jimmy Wales

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Jimmy Wales - monarchist

One word:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubris

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Holmes

Jimbo's giving the same speech he gave years ago

For those of us who follow Jimmy Wales' various public speaking tours (it's kind of a game, to spot how many different lies he can tell in one speech), it's very clear that this recent RSA conference talk is the very same thematic discussion that he was delivering as far back as 2010. He's like a broken record at this point. Why host him live? Just throw up an old TED or Wikimania talk of his on the video screen, and save some money.

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Anonymous Coward

"Interestingly, the number of contributors claiming to have PhD's was double the rate found in the population as a whole."

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Trollface

HMS Pinchaloaf

JIMMY WALES

--I am the monarch of esprit

--And of wisdom, I am the queen bee,

--Whose praise the internet loudly chants.

EL REG

--And we are his sisters, and his cousins, and

--his aunts!

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FAIL

Surname failure

> ... Jimbo Wales popping in to explain how the UK's Royal Family aren't the only Wales' to wear a crown

Ermmm... There are no members of the UK's royal family properly surnamed "Wales", and certainly none such that wear a crown. The Queen is/has the only crowned head, and her surname is Windsor, a surname for the monarch being a novelty introduced in 1917. Prince Harry is styled "Captain Wales" in his military career, but <a href="http://www.royal.gov.uk/ThecurrentRoyalFamily/TheRoyalFamilyname/Overview.aspx>the official line</a> makes it clear that all the Queen's children have the surname Mountbatten-Windsor, for the rare occasions when they need one.

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