* Posts by Nihiltres

3 posts • joined 13 Dec 2011

PR mag: Let promoters edit clients' Wikipedia entries


The statistics are shoddy

Lies, damn lies, and statistics. Read the original paper: http://www.prsa.org/Intelligence/PRJournal/Documents/2012DiStaso.pdf .

In it, the relevant paragraph is this:

"When asked if there are currently factual errors on their company or client’s Wikipedia articles, 32% said that there were (n=406), 25% said that they don’t know (n=310), 22% said no (n=273), and 22% said that their company or client does not have a Wikipedia article (n=271). In other words, 60% of the Wikipedia articles for respondents who were familiar with their company or recent client’s article contained factual errors."

This is abuse of statistics. First of all, it measures *whether PR people say there's an error*, not the actual error rate—and it begs the question of the reliability of that proxy. Second, the people who say they're not sure about their article are left out of that ridiculous 60% statistic. A more reasonable interpretation of the same results is that *about 30% of those whose employers have an article alleged an error*. That's still too high, but it's an entirely different statistic.

This error is magnified by the nature of the sample: this research was done by *online survey*. Since presumably only those interested in answering answered, there's a possibility that the sample is biased to begin with towards those with an interest in Wikipedia—say, because they're aware of an error in their article.

Jimbo Wales ponders Wikipedia blackout


@John Lilburne

"... instead of thieving the file, do as Corel did and make a copy of the image. The thief Coetzee didn't copy the image he filtched the exact digital representation as made by the NPG."

The NPG controls the physical portraits, and doesn't allow photography, so taking new photos is not an available option. In any event, you've missed my point, because the "exact digital representation" is public domain under U.S. law (where Coetzee is based) and probably also under U.K. law, so it can't be "thieved" or "filtched" [sic]: it's free to take in the first place.

I think it's worthwhile to consider in this case the intent of copyright. Copyright was originally intended to promote creativity by rewarding the creative with sole rights to their creation, for a fairly short period after which the creation would pass into the public domain. If faithful reproductions of public domain works were not themselves in the public domain, all someone would need to do to have *permanent copyright* would be to exert complete control over the original (as the NPG does), and then switch out the available image with an infinitesimally different one every X years, where X is the duration of the copyright on that image.

Would you support indefinite copyright?


That's slightly inaccurate. You're talking, if I understand correctly, about the case of Derrick Coetzee copying the high-res. images from the U.K. National Portrait Gallery to Wikimedia Commons. In the U.S., it's been established (in Bridgeman v. Corel) that faithful reproductions of public-domain works (like the images of the NPG portraits) are themselves in the public domain. In the U.K., the reverse isn't true—rather, there hasn't been a case testing the legal theory. In this case, Derrick Coetzee and Wikimedia are asserting an opinion on the law, i.e. that reproductions of public-domain works should be considered public domain under U.K. law. Ironically, this is helped by the U.S. Bridgeman v. Corel case, since that case took U.K. law into consideration in its decision. Why not look it up on Wikipedia?


(Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.)


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