The "Wikipedia Seagull"
When Kazakhstan released a brand new 500 tenge bill (about US$1.50), a Swiss photographer named Marcel Burkhard noticed something odd about the bird on the face of the bill. It looked exactly like the bird that he had uploaded to Wikipedia on December 3, 2005, as User:Cele4. The photo is the lead image at ru:Чайковые and that photo is alleged to have been lifted by the Kazakhstan Central Bank and placed on their bill. The bank has denied all accusations of plagiarism, but has announced that they would change the bill "in time".
The bird is just one of the many times that Wikipedia content has been plagiarized (see previous Signpost coverage). People from editors at BuzzFeed, to an American senator, to the Pentagon, to Oxford University Press have all lifted content from Wikipedia. (Global Voices)
Interview with the monkey selfie photographer
Podcast This American Life presented "So a Monkey and a Horse Walk Into a Bar" featuring a narrative of how Wikimedia projects have presented the monkey selfie copyright dispute along with a conversation with photographer David Slater. Persons interested in the issue can read past coverage in The Signpost. At least hundreds and perhaps a few thousand Wikimedia community members engaged in conversation about the monkey selfie dispute in 2014 or later. Because of the controversy around this issue, this commentator at The Signpost will speak only for themselves in making the following observations about what is striking about this podcast:
- The Wikimedia community is sensitive to distinguishing the differences between online media platforms, the community which publishes on that platform, and the organization which hosts it. Wikimedia community members observe that mainstream media seems to understand that for example, Facebook the website is different from individual users who post to Facebook, and that Facebook as a company is different still. This podcast like many other mainstream media reports of Wikipedia conflates and confuses Wikipedia the platform, the community of users which publishes to Wikimedia projects, and the Wikimedia Foundation as an organization. It is unfortunate that Slater, even since 2014 and all that he has experienced, seems to express no awareness of the basics of how Wikipedia works and what distinctions exist between the publication, editors, and paid Foundation staff. This American Life journalists seem similarly confused. How can the Wikimedia movement better present itself to avoid this sort of confusion?
- Whatever happened in this case, many people respect This American Life as a podcast and yet somehow their journalistic investigation described Wikimedia projects in a way which community participants would probably regard as flawed in its premises. For example, the podcast reports that the Wikimedia Foundation exercises editorial control over Wikipedia's content.
- Slater is obviously highly distraught and feels that "Wikipedia" (whether platform, community, or WMF) has greatly harmed him. While sometimes the Wikimedia community may conflict with others, ideally, the conflict could proceed with the Wikimedia community's sincere attempt to establish mutual understanding and some transparent documentation that we offered a fair process.
- In Wikimedia community lore, the Wikimedia community imagined that on December 22, 2014, in section 313.2 the United States Copyright Office provided clarification on the monkey selfie dispute when it published the below statement. The podcast did not mention if the photographer or anyone else was aware that the Copyright Office had recently published an opinion on monkey photography.
|“||The Office will not register works produced by nature, animals, or plants. ... Examples: A photograph taken by a monkey.||”|
- Jerusalem After Trump Move, Jerusalem Battle Now Plays Out on Wikipedia, Haaretz
- Wikipedia less corrupting than leading social media: The Economist reports that whereas bad actors have gamed leading social media platforms into popularizing misinformation, Wikipedia is "reasonably clean, honest and reliable".
- Wikipedia editors are sometimes out of this world: GoodNewsNetwork reported that the first piece of content created specifically for Wikipedia in space occurred when astronaut Paolo Nespoli contributed a recording of him pronouncing his name. For more information, see additional Signpost coverage.
- The Intercept reports in a December 1 story that Koch brothers have been employing a PR firm, New Media Strategies, owned by Meredith Corporation, to wikiwash articles related to themselves.
- Everipedia: Everipedia, one of the many competitors of Wikipedia, has tapped Larry Sanger as their new CIO. Sanger plans to make Everipedia the largest 'pedia by using blockchain, something that has never been done before. Wired reported that Sanger intends to turn 'points' that users gain from editing into virtual tokens, that will give users a financial stake in Everipedia.
- No protest over net neutrality: Sites like Salon (December 3), Tom's Hardware (December 12), and USA Today's northjersey.com (November 22) cited Wikipedia's 2015 SOPA-protest blackout in their coverage of the Federal Communications Commission's U.S. net neutrality rules change, including a proposed similar "Break the Internet" event. No such Wikipedia blackout occurred this year, and the Commission rolled back the rule on December 14. A Village Pump proposal that had begun on December 7 ( ) was declared moot on December 15.