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Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2017-09-06/In the media

< Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost‎ | 2017-09-06
Google's Ideological Echo Chamber; What makes someone successful?: Plus the latest reports of vandalism and mistakes in Wikipedia

Google's Ideological Echo Chamber

The controversial memo Google's Ideological Echo Chamber was published on August 5, 2017. Due to the since-fired James Damore's referencing of certain Wikipedia pages, those pages are becoming hot spots of edit warring and massive restructuring.

In the 10-page memo, Danmore wrote that "personality differences" between men and women such as women having a "lower stress tolerance" are the reason that there are fewer women than men in leadership and engineering roles at the company. In making his conclusions, Danmore cited the Wikipedia pages Neuroticism, Sex differences in psychology, Empathizing–systemizing theory, and others.

Motherboard reported on the uptick in edits and page views on Neuroticism in particular, saying that "the article has received more than six times the amount of pageviews as it does on average—topping out at 15,574 pageviews yesterday. Between yesterday and now, the page has been revised 27 times, compared to its average of 4.2 edits per month." Discussions on the talk page have been occurring rapidly, with the size of the page almost becoming six times larger in August of 2017, and the page itself received 157 edits in August, compared to two in July.

Neuroticism after the google memo.jpg
After the Google Memo was released, edits (first panel), the size of the talk page (second panel), and the page views (third panel) of Neuroticism drastically increased.

What makes someone successful?

Seth Stevens-Davidowitz is a former Google data scientist who, as Business Insider reported on August 6, 2017, thinks he has found what it takes to become successful (the mark of being successful being, having a Wikipedia page). Stevens believes that at long last he has found the answer. Grow up near a big college town that is diverse and somewhat urban.

In order to perform this study, Stevens took 150,000 articles about Americans (limited to baby boomers). He took their county of birth, date of birth, occupation, and gender. Stevens found that "30% of people found success through arts and entertainment, 29% through sports, 9% through politics, and 3% through science or academia." He also learnt that geography plays a large role in Wikipedia page prevalence (WPP). Baby boomers born in California had a one in 1,209 rate of WPP, compared to West Virginia, with a WPP of one in 4,496. At a more local level, Stevens found a WPP of one in 748 in Suffolk County. Growing up near "large, semi-urban college towns" placed the counties containing Madison, Wisconsin; Berkeley, California; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and Ithaca, New York (home to University of Wisconsin–Madison; University of California, Berkeley; UNC Chapel Hill; and Cornell respectively) in the top 3% of counties ranked by WPP. Stevens wrote "The greater the percentage of foreign-born residents in an area, the higher the proportion of children born there who go on to notable success," The effect was very prominent, so prominent, in fact that among two college towns, both of around the same size, "the one with more immigrants will produce more prominent Americans." Stevens also writes that "Perhaps this effort to zoom in on the places where hundreds of thousands of the most famous Americans were born can give us some initial strategies, encouraging immigration, subsidizing universities, and supporting the arts, among them."

In brief

  • The second Confederate President: The list of President of the Confederate States of America was briefly vandalised by an IP to include Donald Trump. First reported on by Business Insider on August 15, several other media outlets picked up on the vandalism.
  • Malaika Aurora Turns 44: Birthday wishes poured in from all over, as people were extremely excited to wish Malaika Arora a happy 44th birthday. However, those well meaning wishes were not quite correct, as Wikipedia had erroneously reported her birthday as August 23, not October 23. Malaika Aurora herself corrected the mistake, blaming Wikipedia for the mishap. Reported by NDTV (August 24, 2017)
  • Siri "What is an Indian?": Apple iPhone users were outraged when they discovered that if you ask Siri "what is an Indian?" the response is "They are a bit brown and they smell like curry and eat it." The text comes from vandalism by since blocked Thedarkoverlord123 which was up for three minutes. This prompted questions about how often Apple updates Siri's responses. Reported in BuzzFeed (August 11, 2017)
  • Fined for editing Wikipedia: A 53-year-old South Korean man (referred to by the surname Yang) was fined 4 million won ($3,564) on September 1, 2017, for changing the Wikipedia pages of Moon Jae-in and Lee Jae-myung to say that they were North Korean. The Seoul Central District Court fined the man, a software developer, for vandalizing the two pages in February. Yang corrected the edits six hours later, but was referred to the prosecution for investigation by the National Election Commission. Reported in The Korea Times and multiple other publications. (September 1, 2017)
  • Cuba's Internet Paradox: The deputy principal in a state-run primary school in Cuba was fired because she had her students look up information on the Internet as part of a history lesson. One of them used Wikipedia. “They [the government] say children can’t use Wikipedia, because everything in Wikipedia is a lie. [They say] that children have to learn what is in history books, and not look for other information,” the unnamed woman told Amnesty International. (August 29, 2017)
  • Download Wikipedia: The Economic Times, and Lifehacker picked up (August 20, 2017 and August 26, 2017) on the fact that you can download Wikipedia and put it on a flash drive (see previous Signpost coverage).

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