back to article Why is Wikipedia man Jimbo Wales keynoting a fake news conference?

The co-founder of the website that has propagated some of the internet's most enduring falsehoods on an industrial scale will address a Westminster conference about "fake news". Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia will keynote a Westminster Media Forum entitled "Next steps for tackling fake news". Among the topics is "collaboration, …

  1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    No, not rented, hired

    But I thought that the Onion got it about right: https://www.theonion.com/wikipedia-celebrates-750-years-of-american-independence-1819568571

  2. Tim 11

    better than nothing?

    Of course Wikipedia isn't perfect, nothing's perfect. Everywhere you look in the world there is injustice, and journalists make a living from being outraged by it, as if we (humanity) had a choice between doing things right and doing them wrong, and we chose to do them wrong.

    But that's not the way the world works. We invent things at random all the time, some are good, some are bad, we usually don't know which is which when we invent them, and on the whole the ones that don't work fall into disuse. Could anyone really claim that the world as a whole would be a better place without Wikipedia in it?

  3. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Wikipedia infaillible ? No!

    Britannica contains many inaccuracies, Wikepedia as well, however, studies have confirmed that in general, Wikipedia was better than Britannica.

    If you think something is incorrect on Wikipedia, BY ALL MEANS, TAKE 5 F'ing MINUTES and CORRECT IT!

    I cannot stand this BS you spread!

    Be my guest, go and try to correct something on Britannica ... good luck!

    1. Brian Miller

      Re: Wikipedia infaillible ? No!

      That was the "study" that included blogs as well as the main articles, right?

      Perhaps neither studies nor Wikipedia are reliable.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Wikipedia infaillible ? No!

      "Britannica contains many inaccuracies, Wikepedia as well, however, studies have confirmed that in general, Wikipedia was better than Britannica."

      Technically true (of course, the best kind...) but misleading. In those studies, the number of inaccuracies was comparable, but the type of inaccuracies was not.

      "If you think something is incorrect on Wikipedia, BY ALL MEANS, TAKE 5 F'ing MINUTES and CORRECT IT!"

      I do not work for free.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: not working for free

        "I do not work for free."

        So you were paid for this comment?

    3. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: BY ALL MEANS, TAKE 5 F'ing MINUTES and CORRECT IT!

      And watch as someone takes down your informed change and re-instates the more popular fuckwittery.

      Ask me how I know this.

      1. steelpillow Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: BY ALL MEANS, TAKE 5 F'ing MINUTES and CORRECT IT!

        You mean, "And watch as someone with no community engagement crashes in with badly-presented shit, takes it badly when it gets mopped up, and refuses to engage in discussion on the talk page expressly created and linked to for that purpose.

        "Ask me how I know this."

      2. Joe Werner

        Re: BY ALL MEANS, TAKE 5 F'ing MINUTES and CORRECT IT!

        "Ask me how I know this"

        Same here... I don't have time (nor patience) for that. If you want to know stuff: read a book.

    4. Stevie Silver badge

      Re:Britannica contains many inaccuracies,

      And if you know of specific inaccuracies, I'm sure that dashing off a quick letter to the editorial board citing the problem and your authority to contradict it will get the offending entry changed by the editors once they've verified your contention.

      Or were you implying that you aren't allowed to just go in and deface the original? If so, my answer is : good.

      1. steelpillow Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re:Britannica contains many inaccuracies,

        "I'm sure that dashing off a quick letter to the editorial board citing the problem and your authority to contradict it..."

        Where was the Joke Alert Icon, you clown? That is one of Wikipedia's greatest strengths: you don't need to be an Accredited Big Cheese Of The Closed Shop before your fellow Accredited Bigger Cheeses With Bigger Pensions In Mind will accept your Gospel According to the Big Cheeses. Wikipedia respects a more honest, open and democratic peer review process - we are all peers in it together.

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: Re:Britannica contains many inaccuracies,

          we are all peers in it together
          who apparently don't know the correct use of that/than/then, except/accept etc.

        2. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: Where was the Joke Alert Icon, you clown?

          Obvious git is obvious.

          Lack of editorial oversight is not a strength, as everyone with skin in any game will tell you.

          *cough*LinusTorvalds*cough*

          I'm sorry. I did that wrong, didn't I?

          LACK OF EDITORIAL OVERSIGHT IS NOT A STRENGTH YOU TWIT!

          Question:

          Does being loud and personally insulting make me right, or just a loud git?

        3. BoldMan

          Re: Re:Britannica contains many inaccuracies,

          Looks like the Wikimafia shills have arrived...

    5. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Wikipedia infaillible ? No!

      Be my guest, go and try to correct something on Wikipedia ... good luck!

      I've tried to correct articles, complete with citations, and had them uncorrected hours later.

      1. Tomato42 Silver badge

        Re: Wikipedia infaillible ? No!

        > I've tried to correct articles, complete with citations, and had them uncorrected hours later.

        and plural of 'anecdote' is 'data' /s

        sure, there are dickheads editing wikipedia, but here's a newsflash: they are everywhere

        the situation certainly won't get better if you just throw your arms in the air every time a smallest obstacle is thrown your way

    6. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: Wikipedia infaillible ? No!

      If you think something is incorrect on Wikipedia, BY ALL MEANS, TAKE 5 F'ing MINUTES and CORRECT IT!

      I cannot stand this BS you spread!

      What's the fucking point of that when some twat's going to revert the page to its incorrect state five minutes later!

    7. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Wikipedia infaillible ? No!

      "Britannica contains many inaccuracies, Wikepedia as well, however, studies have confirmed that in general, Wikipedia was better than Britannica."

      I'm betting that on the evidence of your spelling and accuracy, you are a Wikipedian?

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wikipedia infaillible ? No!

      @Hans 1

      > Be my guest, go and try to correct something on Wikipedia ... good luck!

      FTFY

      Any fixes will be immediately reverted by the fool with too much authority who posted the inaccuracy in the first place.

    9. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Wikipedia infaillible ? No!

      BY ALL MEANS, TAKE 5 F'ing MINUTES and CORRECT IT!

      And then see it reverted two seconds later by the Cabal.

      And shouting won't help. Why not have a bit of a lie-down?

    10. JN
      WTF?

      Re: Wikipedia infaillible ? No!

      "studies have confirmed that in general, Wikipedia was better than Britannica"

      Beg pardon? You do realise that the famous Nature piece concluded that Britannica was better, only not by as big a margin as expected? Moreover, that comparison focused on science topics only. Even Wikipedia itself (see "Reliability of Wikipedia") does not claim that Wikipedia generally wins Britannica comparisons.

      Wikipedians generally advise people not to take anything written in Wikipedia on faith, but check the sourcing whenever it's important. (Wikipedia is not considered a reliable, citable source in Wikipedia itself.)

      Wikipedia's quality level depends on the topic area and varies much more than that of Britannica – it ranges from truly excellent to questionable (historical examples: PR pieces authored by companies, biographies written by their subjects or PR agents, plastic surgery articles written with promotional spin by commercial plastic surgeons, etc.) to complete garbage (outright hoaxes and defamation, people writing about scholarly topics they do not understand).

      Wikipedia quality generally is a function of how many people watch and have edited an article, with the most serious problems tending to occur in articles and passages that no other regular contributor has ever reviewed.

  4. steelpillow Silver badge
    Devil

    The vegetarian alligator

    Jimmy Wales does not like fake news any more than the rest of us, in peddling that myth this El Reg hack is as guilty of fake news as anyone. But Wikipedia has a liberal "anyone can edit" free community ethos and, as Reg readers are acutely aware, managing any free community is like herding cats. If you have to deal with the problem, then Wales has more experience than most of the world put together. Starting with his views is an absolute no-brainer - much like the hack who posted their smug dissing of him.

    For example, one thing the Wikipedia community are agreed on is that you can't trust Wikipedia as a reliable source! Anybody who thinks they can is being an utter twonk and has only themself to blame.

    1. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

      Re: The vegetarian alligator

      My take on it is quite simple:

      The problem with Wikipedia is not that anyone can edit it.

      The problem with Wikipedia is that anyone DOES edit it.

      There is a reason that I tend to call it "The Unreliable Source", and that reason has nothing to do with server availability and a great deal to do with "anyone can edit".

      1. Snorlax Silver badge

        Re: The vegetarian alligator

        @Steve the Cynic:"There is a reason that I tend to call it "The Unreliable Source", and that reason has nothing to do with server availability and a great deal to do with "anyone can edit"."

        The first thing you're told in law school is "never ever ever ever, on pain of death, cite anything from Wikipedia".

    2. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: The vegetarian alligator

      If Jimmy Wales has some insight on how to deal with fake news why hasn't he trialed his ideas on Wikipedia?

      I think that was the thrust of the Register article.

      And calling the bunch of idiots infesting Wikipedia as a "community" is to imply a common purpose that does not exist.

      1. steelpillow Silver badge

        Re: The vegetarian alligator

        @ Steve the Cynic: Quite right too, as the majority of Wikipedians will happily attest.

        @Stevie: You ask, "If Jimmy Wales has some insight on how to deal with fake news why hasn't he trialed his ideas on Wikipedia?" He has, the community deal with it in their own way. Because "anybody can edit" is Wikipedia's core ethos there can be no backing down, so they accept that they have to deal with a lot of shit all the time. Oops, sorry, did I just provide a counter-example to your assertion that I am a purposeless idiot? No, the idiot is the one who thinks that Wikipedia "ought" to be reliable without having a f*cking clue where it's coming from. Like you, I guess.

    3. jmch Silver badge

      Re: The vegetarian alligator

      "one thing the Wikipedia community are agreed on is that you can't trust Wikipedia as a reliable source"

      Having said that, for a quick reference on run-of-the-mill topic you can't beat it, and on the whole it is remarkeably reliable for something crowdsourced

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    A man with either a strong sense of irony or thick skinned and an idiot.

  6. Snorlax Silver badge

    Fuck Jimmy Wales

    That is all.

    Actually no, that's not all. Why is the Wikipedia Foundation begging for money again? They had $92 million in assets this time last year...

    1. Czrly

      Re: Fuck Jimmy Wales

      It's because they have to pay all those contributing authors who wrote, proof-read, edited and continue to curate high-quality, referenced and well researched content for them, innit? Those hours of dedicated work don't come cheap. I'm sure my cheque is right there, in the post. Yours too, probably.

      Right there...

      Any day now...

      Until it arrives, I'll just leave this, here: *.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=*:Banner

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fuck Jimmy Wales

      I'd rather not

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Renting

    At least its not the sort of site where some celebs can be rented by the hour (allegedly, AC obv)

    Though Jimmy in a ball gag given a whipping would be payback for those annoying begging pop ups when wikipedia in its various incarnations is rolling in cash

  8. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    No it's not!

    Wales is represented by The Celebrity Group and can be rented – see here for fees.

    Get it right! Wales is represented by the Welsh Government in Cardiff, Prime Minister: Carwyn Jones. And it isn't for rent or for sale - well, apart from small bits for a week at a time.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: No it's not!

        @Symon

        Thanks for the best laugh I've had for a week!

  9. Wiltshire
    Childcatcher

    "... despaired after the site had been taken over by far-right extremists. "

    Will no-one show some care for the far-left extremists?

    Surely they deserve some credit for all their hard work as well?

    1. Captain DaFt

      "... despaired after the site had been taken over by far-right extremists. "

      Will no-one show some care for the far-left extremists?

      I believe the all-encompassing terms are "Kooks", and "crackpots".

      One a nutter is spotted, who cares which end of the spectrum their standard is planted?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where citations come from

    Obligitory: https://xkcd.com/978/

  11. PyLETS
    Stop

    Pot calls Kettle black

    I have no reason to doubt that the Register tries very hard to get facts right as well, and generally believes its sources until corrected when it checks, fesses and corrects, just as Wikipedia does. But I very much doubt The Register has the funding to take the same amount of time to correct articles which are of more than passing interest and which are read by more than a few people over many years. Sure Wikipedia also has many pages likely to be wrong, but how many people are interested in correcting these compared to the articles which get 99.9% of Wikipedia's page hits ?

    The second law of thermodynamics when applied to the WWW would humble any editor who both understands and cares, but debugged open source knowledge is a difficult beast to compete against for those for whom their published output is a profit centre.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Pot calls Kettle black

      And your point is what, exactly? That we should hold Wikipedia to a lower standard because many of the pages are wrong?

      No argument from me, but the point of the article is its founder is giving a lecture on "fake news". So it's ironic, innit.

      1. PyLETS

        @Androgynous Cupboard - Re: Pot calls Kettle black

        "That we should hold Wikipedia to a lower standard because many of the pages are wrong?"

        Not at all. Wikipedia consistently achieves a very high standard in relation to the articles most people read, just as the Linux kernel achieves a much higher standard than proprietary alternatives in connection with the code paths most people use. There are still plenty of zero day vulnerability bugs in Linux device drivers hardly anyone ever uses or checks the source code of. If I find an error in Wikipedia I correct it, and if I find a bug in Linux I report it to the appropriate maintainer.

    2. Carpet Deal 'em
      FAIL

      Re: Pot calls Kettle black

      Any article on any slightly contentious subject is practically guaranteed to be carefully curated by whichever side has the worst trolls behind it, with any corrections that don't fit their narrative nuked from high orbit. The list of reliable sources can also be gamed to ensure only one side has a voice; even if some site consistently generates correct facts, the right Wikilawyering can get its political bent used to ban it.

      Having all mankind's knowledge concentrated and easily accessible in one place is a great idea in theory, but the reality is it's unfeasible to keep it accurate. In this regard, maybe it was better when you had to use Lycos or Alta Vista to find a site discussing the subject you were interested in.

  12. Just Enough

    Fake news

    " we highlighted sixteen of Wikipedia's "fake stories" – although it could have been 16,000."

    Speaking of fake news. Where does this number come from?

  13. Vincent Manis

    It would be interesting to compare Wikipedia's error rate with Orlowski's

    Intelligent people know that no source can be trusted completely, and that any worthwhile research uses a multiplicity of sources. I often use Wikipedia as a starting point, often finding its references and external links the most useful part of the article.

    While there have been many accounts of individual Wikipedia pages that contain slanted or biased information, I have no reason to believe that the overall site's error rate is substantially higher than any other encyclopdia.

    Shoddy journalism is the journalist's fault. Uncritically cutting and pasting a Wikipedia article is no different from a school student copying a passage from a book without acknowledgement in a school report.

    Finally, I look forward to seeing a link to Mr Orlowski's list of the 16,000 pages he claims are false.

    1. Snorlax Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: It would be interesting to compare Wikipedia's error rate with Orlowski's

      @Vincent Manis:"Finally, I look forward to seeing a link to Mr Orlowski's list of the 16,000 pages he claims are false."

      Y you no read gud? The article didn't claim that there were 16,000 fake stories:

      "For Wikipedia's birthday this year, we highlighted sixteen of Wikipedia's "fake stories" – although it could have been 16,000."

      Sorry you fail at reading comprehension...

      1. nijam

        Re: It would be interesting to compare Wikipedia's error rate with Orlowski's

        > "For Wikipedia's birthday this year, we highlighted sixteen of Wikipedia's "fake stories" –

        > although it could have been 16,000."

        > Sorry you fail at reading comprehension...

        How can that quote from the article be interpreted in any way other than as a clear implication that there are at least 16,000 fake stories on Wikipedia? And consequently, how does asking for supporting evidence imply that that the enquirer was incapable of "reading comprehension"?

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: It would be interesting to compare Wikipedia's error rate with Orlowski's

          Given that there are more than "27 billion words in 40 million articles in 293 languages" on Wikipedia, it probably wouldn't be that hard to find 16,000 were duds. Not so long ago, Flowerdale in Northern Tasmania was the source of 95% of Australia's cotton production according to Wikipedia. Interestingly, the version of the page making that claim has been expunged from the page's history. That makes evidence-gathering somewhat fraught.

        2. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: It would be interesting to compare Wikipedia's error rate with Orlowski's

          How can that quote from the article be interpreted in any way other than as a clear implication that there are at least 16,000 fake stories on Wikipedia?

          English. A feature-rich language. Just like *insert your own soapbox language here*.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As an example

    of someone who has no respect for the truth and will say anything to get what he wants.

    Then again - it is Westminster, they could have brought a mirror.

  15. thomn8r

    The biggest fake news story...

    ...is how Wikipedia is constantly running out of money

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: The biggest fake news story...

      ...is how Wikipedia is constantly running out of money

      Good Heavens man, look at their finances, they're rarely over 100 million in cash!

      In order to be a respected world leader, a true shaker and mover in the modern Western world, they need BILLIONS!, otherwise, the one percenters will just point at them and laugh!

      Is that what you really want?

      Donate, Man, donate, for Jimmy's sake!!

      1. Snorlax Silver badge

        Re: The biggest fake news story...

        Jimmy kills a puppy every time you close that giant ad without donating to the cause.

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: The biggest fake news story...

          Jimmy kills a puppy every time you close that giant ad without donating to the cause.
          That's OK provided they're being eaten.

          "Another deep-fried dog, Doctor?"

  16. Bucky 2

    I tried correcting an article once

    It was right after I watched Dr. No on TV.

    I went on Wikipedia and noted that Honey Ryder was quite obviously, and quite profoundly, mentally disabled.

  17. julian abbs

    well i fucking love wikipedia

    a free and open source of knowledge that i can correct as i see fit when i see fit*, however wrong it might be in certain instances and tribal it might be in others...

    to those of you hiding behind online anonymity to assert that you tried to edit something, and were right because authority... i say, give us the name of the article and the fact you tried to correct, lets all go and look at what it says now, and argue about who is right because that's it's fucking beauty

    *i never see fit to edit, though i do occasionally correct spelling which is amusing 'cause i can't spell for shit and punctuate with a shotgun

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: well i fucking love wikipedia

      to those of you hiding behind online anonymity to assert that you tried to edit something, and were right because authority... i say, give us the name of the article and the fact you tried to correct, lets all go and look at what it says now, and argue about who is right because that's it's fucking beauty
      First, I'm about as anonymous as HH Munro was when writing under the pseudonym Saki.Second, as I pointed out earlier, whoever is reverting these edits is also erasing their existence.

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