In the media
Sanger on Wikipedia; Silver on Vox; lawyers on monkeys
Sanger: "The inmates started running the asylum"
Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger was interviewed by Vice for the story "Wikipedia's Co-Founder Is Wikipedia's Most Outspoken Critic". Sanger spoke of the beginnings of Wikipedia and the personalities it attracted:
||Back then, I just wanted to sort of foster a collegial atmosphere that would be open and welcoming to a lot of different people so they could get to work on making a lot of encyclopedia articles. But these "characters" showed up and they focused a lot on the wiki itself, on getting quite personal, and causing a great deal of unnecessary controversy [...] Because [Wikipedia] was wide open, and anybody could participate, there were people who would spent a lot of their time wasting everyone else's time. I doubt that many of those people are just "bad," they might just be abrasive, confused... "mentally unhinged," in a few cases.
According to Sanger, the resulting problems persist today:
||I think Wikipedia never solved the problem of how to organize itself in a way that didn't lead to mob rule. [...] I do think it has a root problem that's social. People that I would say are trolls sort of took over. The inmates started running the asylum.
At the end of the interview, Sanger reflected on his role in Wikipedia's founding and its success:
||I don't know how much the success of Wikipedia really reflects well on me [...] that's just the nature of certain kinds of discovery. I mean, just as anyone might say about any number of inventions, it's not clear to me how much Wikipedia was just dumb luck. I will say that a lot of the success of Wikipedia was exactly what we hoped and dreamed. And some of the policy choices that we made were definitely the right ones. I think the neutrality policy is absolutely instrumental, for example. The changes that we made to the way that wikis work was instrumental. So we definitely did some right things that we can take credit for. But I don't know.
Sanger's interview was the subject of a few media reports, such as The Independent's story "Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger says website has been 'taken over by trolls'". Sanger complained that newspaper "basically made an article out of" the interview "without interviewing me or doing any fact-checking. And they got the thrust of the interview wrong." G
FiveThirtyEight boss blasts Vox, accusing the site of using "shortcuts"
In an interview with Catie Lazarus on her show Employee of the Month, FiveThirtyEight boss Nate Silver, blasted Vox for a lack of originality in their work. He said when working on a topic, his team gets immersed in it so they can do the best work possible. In terms of checking for bias in his own work, Silver says through dialogue with people he disagrees with and encouraging feedback from a wider audience.
However, he clearly stated that Vox reads Wikipedia pages and “writes a take on” the articles and also accused Vox of not being able to back up its published information - “I know how hard my writers and my editors work to try and get the facts right, to not always go for the hot take that you can’t really provide evidence for, right?”
Vox has gotten in trouble for inaccuracy in its stories before but the Vox editor-in-chief, Ezra Klein, defended the site’s efforts. “I’m tremendously proud of the incredible work my writers do – good explanatory journalism is very, very hard, and as such, I think it’s best to let it speak for itself.”
In September, Vox was criticized for an article which was largely taken from a Wikimedia Foundation blog post (see previous Signpost coverage). L
"Monkey see, monkey sue"
Techdirt reports on motions to dismiss in the bizarre lawsuit filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) over the monkey selfie copyright dispute (see previous Signpost coverage). Motions from lawyers representing wildlife photographer David Slater and his publisher Blurb, Inc. ignored copyright issues and focused on the lack of standing, namely making the point that a monkey could not sue nor could PETA sue on the monkey's behalf. Blurb's motion summarizes this point in its first line: "This is a copyright case filed on behalf of a monkey." Slater's motion favors amusement but is almost as succinct:
||A monkey, an animal-rights organization and a primatologist walk into federal court to sue for infringement of the monkey’s claimed copyright. What seems like the setup for a punchline is really happening. It should not be happening [...] dismissal of this action is required for lack of standing and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Monkey see, monkey sue is not good law [...]
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