back to article The Mail vs Wikipedia: They're more alike than they'd ever admit

When you live in a glass house, is it wise to start a rock-throwing competition? Wikipedians this week added greatly to the amusement of the internet after around 40 contributors loftily declared that the Daily Mail was not a reliable source for citations. Much public hilarity ensued – for the reason that The Mail and …

  1. Christoph Silver badge

    "One wishes to make the world's information free, and the other vows to defend proud provincial values from the metropolitan elites, to speak truth to power, and so on."

    One wishes to make the world's information free, and the other wishes to make the world information-free.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Does wikipedia want to make information free, or wants information for free, so it can cash from donations - disguising itself under the former mantle?

      1. Michael M

        Yes. Yes. Yes. Hardly disguising. "We want your money" is perpetually on its front page.

    2. SundogUK

      I'm guessing you think yourself one of the "metropolitan elites" then?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Um, "...defend proud provincial values from the metropolitan elites...?"

      Say what? Even a cursory glance at a political page on Wikipedia shows the slant there is decidedly left. The left is strongest in the elite metropolitan areas. It's in provincial areas where the right resides, primarily. Oh it may have been different many decades ago, but that's how it is now. Yet the left continues with the fiction that they are the provincials fighting against big city machine.

      How many more years before the left admits they are the elite oppressors now? I know, I know, never happen...

      1. Rattus Rattus

        @Big John

        Seriously, just what is "the left", anyway? Would I be considered "left"? I mean, in economic matters I'm very socialist, bordering on communist, but in social matters I'm pretty libertarian in outlook. I despise religion of all stripes and am against both Muslim and Christian world views (which actually aren't that far apart, anyway), and I also think the identity-politics crowd are a bunch of idiots who want to wrap the world in cotton wool. Where does that come on your single-dimension scale?

        1. Potemkine Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: @Big John

          Seriously, just what is "the left", anyway?

          For the aforementioned "Locals" (mostly inbreds), anyone who is left to Hitler.

          (Godwin point for me! Woohoo!)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "in economic matters I'm very socialist, but in social matters I'm pretty libertarian"

          Nothing new here too - you're the usual man who wants others to pay for his vices...

          1. Rattus Rattus

            Re: "in economic matters I'm very socialist, but in social matters I'm pretty libertarian"

            "Oh no, the S-word came out and therefore I must make a kneejerk reaction post without even understanding what it means." Can't even post it under his own name. Golf clap for trying, at least.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "in economic matters I'm very socialist, but in social matters I'm pretty libertarian"

              I've seen many of you "what is yours is mine, but what is mine is mine!". "Everything must be free because I'm too lazy to earn the money I want to spend, or at least someone else has to pay for it!" And of course "I want to be free to follow my instincts in the most egoistic way I could think of - and any substance that helps is welcome".

              Usually someone in his thirty or forty still living out of some parents' money, or exploiting some poor partner.

              Grow up...

              1. Rattus Rattus

                Re: "in economic matters I'm very socialist, but in social matters I'm pretty libertarian"

                Lol, sorry, got a well paying job and own my own house. Perhaps you ought to do some genuine research on socialism before trying again.

        3. fajensen Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: @Big John

          Where does that come on your single-dimension scale?

          Somewhere between "Deplorable" and "Alt-Right", we don't need any think gin here, only random feelings and batty craziness that drive click-rates.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Big John

            @fajensen, look at you! You couldn't even create your own attack on me? Dude, if you have to piggyback on someone else's kneejerk attack, you know what that makes you? The little minion who pipes up every time the boss makes a witticism.

            If you dislike what I say so much, try making up your own slams. You will 'enjoy' it more, perhaps.

  2. Ian 56

    The (obvious) difference is that one wishes, and is trying to improve their reliability, and the other does neither.

    But, I guess, y'know, both are frequently unreliable, so let's all get on board that false equivalence bus.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      They are both the same in that they've got words.

      Would anyone wipe their arse with the Daily Mail, having cheaper more comfortable alternatives available for cheaper in the supermarket?

      I wouldn't wipe my arse with The Register either. Too sharp, might get an electrical shock.

      Does an encyclopaedia do daily news or try to use it to change the political landscape of a country? Yeah, by change I mean poison. If you disagree with me you're an enemy of the people. Get the pitchforks ready, we're going after one of the branches of government.

      1. Doc Ock
        Go

        >I wouldn't wipe my arse with The Register either. Too sharp, might get an electrical shock.

        Not to mention gorilla glass, just smears everywhere and creates a terrible mess.

        Warning ! Don't try this with anything smaller than a 10 inch tablet as you could end up with an embarrassing trip to casualty, doubly embarrassing if you forgot to put your phone on silent and didn't turn off vibrate.

        On a side note I'd like to complain about the waiting times in UK A&E departments, I've been stood here for five hours as sitting down is too uncomfortable on those cheap hard plastic chairs, it's a disgrace.

        1. Vinyl-Junkie
          Joke

          ...sitting down is too uncomfortable...

          Is that down to the plastic chairs or the current location of your phone?

          1. Doc Ock
            Happy

            Re: ...sitting down is too uncomfortable...

            >Is that down to the plastic chairs or the current location of your phone?

            You got there, eventually.

            1. Vinyl-Junkie
              Happy

              Re: ...sitting down is too uncomfortable...

              If you hadn't included the bit about hard plastic chairs I'd have known for certain that the joke was intended; however having suffered from having to sit on the ones in our local A&E hospital recently I can assure you that they are quite uncomfortable enough without any other "issues" to make them more so; therefore I wasn't sure if the complaint was a genuine venting based on (non-phone related) experience!

              1. Doc Ock
                Go

                Re: ...sitting down is too uncomfortable...

                >If you hadn't included the bit about hard plastic chairs I'd have known for certain that the joke was intended

                No worries, all I ask is that you don't dial my number for a couple of hours. Nearly at the front of the queue

                1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
                  Devil

                  Re: ...sitting down is too uncomfortable...

                  "No worries, all I ask is that you don't dial my number for a couple of hours. Nearly at the front of the queue"

                  If you tell us the number that'll help to make sure we don't accidentally dial it.

                  (Deliberately dialling ir, on the other hand....)

                  1. Doc Ock
                    Go

                    Re: ...sitting down is too uncomfortable...

                    >If you tell us the number that'll help to make sure we don't accidentally dial it.

                    All done now, I wonder if Samsung will still honour it's return policy on the Note 7.

                    Still working as well, but I've 84 missed calls all from companies wanting to know if I've been mis-sold PPI.

    2. Gregory Kohs

      Trying to improve reliability?

      You *still* think Wikipedians are "trying to improve their reliability"? Maybe search for and read the results of a systematic experiment that revealed that not only do Wikipedians not spot obvious errors, when the errors get fixed they may even strive to return them to the erroneous version! Do a web search for "Experiment concludes most misinformation inserted into Wikipedia may persist", then read that. Learn. Don't repeat PR pablum that's been paid for with $60 million of annual donations.

    3. fajensen Silver badge
      FAIL

      Yeah?

      Pet peeve activated: "Trying" is a very popular failure mode for all of these Good People with only the best intentions and rich friends with private islands to show for it!

      I mean "The Left" has been "trying" so very, very, very, hard for at least 2 decades to "do something" about things like environmental destruction, rising inequality, corporate ascension to power and Islamization. So far, worse on all parameters, but, by God they are Trying.

  3. gv

    "Wikipedia's exhaustive detailing of sexual practices – including masturbation photos thoughtfully uploaded by contributors – is a wonder of the age."

    I'm pretty sure the ancient Greeks had most things documented.

    1. PhilipN Silver badge

      I'm pretty sure the ancient Greeks had most things documented.

      It supports your point, I think, that the weird forms of human behaviour, the sort we do NOT talk about at the dinner table, all seem to have names derived from Greek rather than Latin.

      I'd give a few examples but owing to natural delicacy etc etc

    2. fajensen Silver badge
      Happy

      Oh yeah. I remember very well the "Antique History" classes in high school with the semi-attractive but crazy female history teacher getting all steamy over the orgie parts of the classic texts.

      No piece of pottery was left unturned in them days if it was suspected that something perverse might be hidden underneath.

  4. James Ashton

    Wikipedia's not dependent on "showbiz trivia"

    "both depend heavily for their traffic on showbiz trivia"

    Wikipedia lives on donations, not advertising; therefore they don't depend on page views for cash. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that their donations are not predominantly coming from people interested in "showbiz trivia".

  5. graeme leggett

    The Mail's "sidebar of shame" specialises in celebrity "breasts and buttocks", drowning out the newspaper's highbrow contributors.

    Can we spot the sarcasm here?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      That should have read eyebrow. One, without any gap above the nose. Can't get the proofreaders these days.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Wikipedia's exhaustive detailing of sexual practices – including masturbation photos thoughtfully uploaded by contributors – is a wonder of the age."

    Sex education is a necessary part of modern life.

    See this chart by state in the USA. The lighter the colour the more STIs. It appears to correlate with a state's lack of sex education.

    https://www.indy100.com/article/map-us-states-with-most-stis-7573761

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Hmmm...not quite the "North/South divide we in the UK are usually complaining about!

      And that really is quite a distinctive North/South divide. Even more so than the Civil War one.

  8. Korev Silver badge

    Simply saying "dayley-mayell" is enough to get you on a BBC Radio 4 comedy. Probably for life.

    In case you haven't seen this wonderful spearing of the panel game format

  9. tony72

    Looks bad for Wikipedia

    I have long been unimpressed by Mr. Orlowski's chip on the shoulder about Wikipedia, but I might have to change my opinion over this Daily Mail move. While the Daily Mail certainly has its issues, some other news organisations, for example some widely acknowledged to be little more than propaganda outlets for certain governments, are not similarly banned. I looked through the discussion they had before deciding on this ban, and while a handful of examples of factual errors on the part of the Mail were given, they were mostly on issues of low importance (celebrity news etc), and not enough anyway to say that they are systematically unreliable. I could certainly point to similar numbers of factual errors on far more important topics from a number of other news organisations.

    Wikipedia has now put itself in the position of being the arbiter of what constitutes a reliable source for citations, without having a clear set of criteria for what constitutes such, or a rigorous process for considering and implementing a ban on a particular organisation. It looks bad to me, really bad. They need to step up and regularise this now, set credible criteria and procedures for deciding what constitutes a reliable source, and explain how they plan to evaluate all news organisations that are currently widely cited on Wikipedia in a fair way. But I'm not holding my breath.

    1. AndyS

      Re: Looks bad for Wikipedia

      You say that, but the difference is intention. The Mail strives for sensationalist bullshit to sell to the prejudices of small minded Little Englanders, and occasionally slips in something resembling a retelling of current affairs to convince them it is educating them. Wikipedia strives for independence, balance and accuracy, and occasionally makes a mistake. The two are simply not on the same level.

      Did you see the Mail article recently about the poor lady who went into early labour while on a plane to London? She had an emergency delivery of quadruplets, two of whom died shortly afterwards. How did the Mail treat this woman? Well, I'll give you a hint. She was black, and Nigerian.

      Show me anything in Wikipedia that compares to that, or to the "Enemies of the People" bullshit, and I'll listen.

      1. rd232

        Re: Looks bad for Wikipedia

        I don't think you entirely listened to what tony72 said. It wasn't about equivalence at all - it was about the consistency of Wikipedia's judgement on reliability of sources. Which, particularly on marginal topics where there isn't much freely available sourcing, is basically arbitrary, as one or two people end up declaring for transparently ideological reasons that a minor academic source isn't reliable enough for inclusion, but some arsewipe's hatefilled hatchetjob opinion piece in a backwater press organ is.

      2. cork.dom@gmail.com

        Re: Looks bad for Wikipedia

        That article was about recouping the money spent by the NHS treating that lady

        Its a fair point. If it had happened to my wife over the USA we would have had to pay. Just because the NHS is publicly funded shouldn't change the fact, . I don't think colour or nationality came into it.

        I am not a fan of the Daily Mail but you comment is sligjly misleading.

    2. strum Silver badge

      Re: Looks bad for Wikipedia

      >a handful of examples of factual errors on the part of the Mail

      There may only have been a handful in that discussion, but there are many more to be found elsewhere:-

      "In the files of the Press Complaints Commission, you will find records of 687 complaints against the Mail which led either to a PCC adjudication or to a resolution negotiated, at least partially, after the PCC’s intervention. The number far exceeds that for any other British newspaper: the files show 394 complaints against the Sun, 221 against the Daily Telegraph, 115 against the Guardian. The complaints will serve as a charge sheet against the Mail and its editor."

      http://boingboing.net/2014/01/03/lies-of-the-daily-mail.html

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    alike? Who are you kidding?

    I would not believe anything printed in the Daily Flail. This rag is only fit for wrapping up the cat poo.

    I might believe some things that are on Wikipedia especially those that I've contributed to over the years.

    See, they are not alike.

  11. John F***ing Stepp

    I think they did this under the radar

    Wikipedia is a synonym for "crowdsourced knowledge"

    Actually, wiki-wiki translates as fast so-

    Wikipedia translates as half-fast encyclopedia.

  12. Palpy

    Separate scientific information from --

    -- shameless glitz and pop culture, and Wikipedia starts to look better. Last night, dark and dreary, I was a-googling articles on the geology of Death Valley. The molting raven on my windowsill muttering "Nevermore!" was no help. In the end, Wickedpedia had the best over-all summary, though there some research articles (most behind paywalls) appeared to give more detail on specific formations.

    Yes, of course, as a crowd-sourced info source WP has intrinsic flaws. But in a big enough crowd, there are going to be geologists and geophysicists, and some may contribute. So WP also has intrinsic strengths, also due to it's crowd-sourced nature.

    Miss out on that, and you've missed a huge diffy between the DM and WP.

    Methinks those who compare WP with the DM have an orange in one hand, an apple in the other, and a bee up the nose.

    1. Purple-Stater

      Re: Separate scientific information from --

      That sums it up pretty well. A comparison of 100% of one company's function to 20% of another company's. It's not so much that the author is holding an apple & orange, but an axe and whetstone.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Wikipedia's exhaustive detailing of sexual practices – including masturbation photos thoughtfully uploaded by contributors – is a wonder of the age."

    On one hand the Mails wank but on the other hand so is Wikipedia.

  14. Paul D Smyth

    I'm trying to remember when Wikipedia itself last supported a brutal dictator, endorsed fascism, viscously went after anyone with a conscience, stoked hysteria, hatred, racism, sexism, bigotry and Islamophobia. Nope, not the same

    1. graeme leggett

      Wikipedia don't employ the likes of Katie Hopkins (do look up here work if you've not read any of it before, it's an experience) nor Sarah (Mrs Michael Gove) Vine neither.

      To return to main thrust of article though, my reading of Wikipedia discussion is that DM should not be used when there are better sources and to be treated with caution when it is the only source. The latter chiefly happening when celebrity news is involved and Wikipedia is mindful of not publishing libel. Which is where DM has had problems - and we are back to K Hopkins again (full apology, £150,000 damages).

  15. s2bu

    Click-bait

    Did El Reg really just bash somebody else for clickbait?!?!?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Click-bait

      Angry commentards want to stop you finding out how one tabloid rag and one crowdsourced encyclopedia are the same. Click here now before they delete it!

  16. martinusher Silver badge

    Wikipedia is in the information business

    Most of the stuff that Wikipedia publishes is clean information -- its very difficult to put a fake news spin on a RJ45 connector, for example. So trying to put a tabloid like the Daily Mail and this organization in the same category is just plain ludicrous. The real issue is how we deal with science that may be controversial or disputed. Again, there's no equivalency between fake news -- which is really editorialization, adjusting the perspective of facts to suit an already held opinion, and the Daily Mail which actually has a historical track record in this game that predates the Internet itself by many decades.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "difficult to put a fake news spin on a RJ45 connector"

      But there are many product pages which are actually marketing spins...

  17. DrM
    Big Brother

    Problem solved!

    "Fake News Problem Solved!" (fake news)

  18. fajensen Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Solid Gold

    It seems as though every centimeter of celebrity cellulite, and every teacher-pupil relationship is enthusiastically reported.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Solid Gold

      "[..] and every teacher-pupil relationship is enthusiastically reported. "

      With adjacent column children's pictures with their catch-phrase "all grown-up".

      http://www.themediablog.co.uk/the-media-blog/2013/01/the-daily-mail-all-grown-up.html

      1. Vinyl-Junkie
        Unhappy

        Re: Solid Gold

        Somehow they manage to combine hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance in one hideous column...

  19. Harry Stottle

    Key Differences: Sources and User Editing

    Surely the key difference is the obligation Wiki places - and polices - on authors to provide sources. Anyone doing serious research might find a good or bad summary of the current state of knowledge in a Wikipedia article but that's only ever a starting point. You then go to the sources and make your own mind up about their credibility and the overall credibility of the article. If you are not impressed, and sufficiently motivated, you can then edit the article to try to correct any errors you think you've identified. And you'll be required to post your own sources (or criticised for not)

    Those features alone place them in a different universe to the Daily Wail. The only time they ever publish sources is when required to by the source and if you've ever tried to correct one of their egregious errors you'll be aware of how futile that effort can be.

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