Arbitration committee thrust into the media spotlight
Wikipedia's Arbitration committee was thrust into the media spotlight this month, with several stories being published including "The 15 People Who Keep Wikipedia's Editors From Killing Each Other: Online committee called ArbCom tries to keep the peace at internet encyclopedia".
- Arbcom keeps the peace The Wall Street Journal, by Corinne Ramey, May 7 (paywall).
- ArbCom member User:NewYorkBrad The Wikipedia editor Ira Brad Matetsky (User:Newyorkbrad) is featured in Princeton Alumni Weekly for his role as an ArbCom member.
- "Mystery Wikipedia editor", "witch-hunt", Arbcom coverage Also reported by Haaretz, the editor Philip Cross has drawn ire from a cohort of Russian-backed media (RT, Sputnik), Wikileaks (which tweeted a Craig Morris blog post), and former UK Labour Party politician George Galloway, who all accuse him of making biased, politically-targeted edits. Wikipedia's co-founder, Jimmy Wales, was even asked to weigh in on the dispute. Haaretz concludes that "Though Cross does have a clear political bent, it is not necessarily one that undermines the entire project that openly strives to reflect mainstream bias." The BBC discussed the issue and called it "a huge debate on the internet encyclopaedia - one of the world's most popular websites" (their words) – the same editing fracas that is subject of a case covered in this month's Arbitration report. The BBC story mentions the current Arbcom case.
European copyright law threatens Wikipedia – and memes: online freedom of speech "delegated to complaint mechanisms"
The much-maligned EU Copyright Directive was passed on June 20 and slated for future consideration by the EU Parliament. A storm of warnings did nothing to prevent the law from passing, not even a dramatic intervention by Cory Doctorow that called out the potential horrible consequences, especially for Wikipedia:
Article 13 gets Wikipedia coming and going: not only does it create opportunities for unscrupulous or incompetent people to block the sharing of Wikipedia's content beyond its bounds, it could also require Wikipedia to filter submissions to the encyclopedia and its surrounding projects, like Wikimedia Commons. The drafters of Article 13 have tried to carve Wikipedia out of the rule, but thanks to sloppy drafting, they have failed: the exemption is limited to "noncommercial activity". Every file on Wikipedia is licensed for commercial use.
John Weitzmann, head of politics and law at Wikimedia Deutschland, also condemned the law ahead of the vote in a talk held at re:publica 2018, saying that if more people do not "take part in the dividends from a market ... with stakeholders that are too strong ... it is the task of cartel and competition law to correct this." Weitzmann expressed concerns that Article 13 "establish[es] a total filtration of all net platforms" with "freedom of speech delegated to complaint mechanisms".
Several media outlets, including German site netzpolitik.org and Gizmodo, also reported on the law. As the title of the Gizmodo article reads: "Memes, news, Wikipedia, art, privacy, and the creative side of fandom are all at risk of being destroyed or kneecapped."
Award for binary options exposé
The Trace Prize for Investigative Reporting was given to Simona Weinglass, the reporter who wrote a series of articles about the binary options industry for The Times of Israel, including "Wikipedia vs. Banc De Binary: A 3-year battle against binary options 'fake news'" which appeared exactly a year ago. That article covered The Signpost's February 2017 Special report by Smallbones. (The Times of Israel, "Times of Israel's Weinglass wins reporting honor for binary options exposé")
Smallbones provided this reaction for The Signpost:
Anybody who has edited anything related to binary options knows [Simona Weinglass's] contributions well. She took an organized crime topic where most newspapers fear to tread, if only to avoid libel suits, and opened it up so that the whole world could see it and smell it - the big picture and the smallest details. Her work moved the Israeli government to ban binary options, and just when it looked like political maneuvers would gut the bill, she took on some of the most powerful people in the Knesset and won that fight too. Remarkable journalism. Thanks Simona.
Digital commons becomes corporate picnic: donated Wikipedia content fuels for-profit Internet giants
Vice News reported that "GOOGLE LISTED “NAZISM” AS THE IDEOLOGY OF THE CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN PARTY" in the Knowledge Graph search result as a result of vandalism to the Wikipedia page. A related story appeared on front page of the Drudge Report, and the WMF apologized (?) via Twitter. US House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy criticized Google for the incident, and California Republican Party added criticism of Wikipedia (CBS). Also reported by tech media Search Engine Land, CNET, Wired, Gizmodo, the journalism school Poynter, & mainstream media RT, Fox News, Newsweek, Forbes and USA Today. See also this issue's Opinion.
After the high-profile vandalism event, WMF's executive director, Katherine Maher, wrote an op-ed in Wired magazine titled "Facebook and Google must do more to support Wikipedia", contrasting a community garden to a "corporate picnic" and calling attention to the digital commons' exposure to "overuse, exploitation and commodification".
Other contributors: 3family6
- Wikipedian of the year receives knighthood: Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight (User:Rosiestep) received a Serbian knighthood, Dame of the St. Sava Order of Diplomatic Pacifism. (CorD magazine, Blic)
- TV show-sponsored editathon: Why a TV Show Sponsored a Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon, Adweek. WP:WikiWomen Los Angeles credited with creating 18 new articles in May 2018 LA editathon.
- We're getting sued: How do you "sue Wikipedia"? I guess we'll find out how when a pop star's daughter does it. (Pakistan Today)
- Vandalism to Reham Khan article The English version Wikipedia article for Reham Khan was semi-protected after more than eight incidents of vandalism, The Express Tribune reports. Her upcoming auto-biography has embroiled her in legal proceedings.
- Battle of the macrons: A debate over whether the New Zealand town Paekakariki should be spelled with macrons or without began on the New Zealand Wikipedians' notice board and eventually reached the attention of the media. A story in the New Zealand Herald summarised the conflicting guidelines for New Zealand article titles, and included quotes from the New Zealand Geographic Board and the Wikimedia Foundation.
- Turnabout is fair play? "Researchers have found that female members of the European Parliament are slightly more likely to be featured on multiple Wikipedia language editions than their male counterparts", reports Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica in the Netherlands.
- Jimbo speaks, crypto listens In Jimmy Wales' keynote at BlockShow Europe 2018, he talks about "scams" and the need for "real journalism" in cryptocurrency coverage. (Cointelegraph, repeated widely)
- London schools to fill the wiki gender gap The Telegraph reports that the Mayor of London calls upon London schools to fill the wiki gap. The Mayor also announced the first editathon hosted by his office, held 12 June, and asked for support from coding clubs and the tech industry to continue the series. US newspaper The Washington Times and website Washington Free Beacon covered the initiative generally; The Bookseller focused on a particular new article, Perminder Mann, resulting from the Mayor's event. Other media printed negative reactions regarding the Mayor's priorities with respect to other public safety concerns.
- The Wiki-Food and (mostly) Women Project Big Issue reports on an editing session at the British Library which intends to increase Wikipedia's coverage of women's contributions to the history of food.
- Squeaky Wheel to host Art+Feminism Edit-a-thon The online magazine Buffalo Rising reports that the Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center will host the upcoming edit-a-thon by Art+Feminism in Buffalo, New York.
- Librarians connecting with Wikipedia Publishers Weekly interviews Merrilee Proffitt (User:Merrilee) regarding her new book, Leveraging Wikipedia: Connecting Communities of Knowledge, which examines the ways in which librarians connect with Wikipedia.
- Felonious candidate for U.S. Congress is a blocked Wikipedia editor "Nathan Larson, a self-proclaimed 'anarcho-capitalist' in his late 30s, who boasted online about having raped his ex-wife, and who served a one-year prison term for making death threats against President George W. Bush, also maintained a long-time presence on Wikipedia under a slew of different usernames – all of which were eventually banned. Among the articles he edited were some related to pedophilic content, terms from rape culture and even the entry on Threatening the President of the United States – the crime for which he went to jail." (Haaretz, "This Hitler-loving Proud Pedophile Was Too Much of a Troll for Wikipedia, but Not for a Congressional Run")
- Where's the Beef? Wikipedia. Vice Motherboard reports on academic research showing how machine learning can detect patterns of hostile interactions between humans. See Recent research for more details on the report.
- Detention centers? Concentration camps? Hour-by-hour editing covered by Gizmodo in "America's 'Detention Centers' Added to Wikipedia List of Concentration Camps". Also in Newsweek and others.
- Solo Compared to a "Filmed Wikipedia Page" The New York Times wrote in its review of the film Solo that the movie was essentially a "filmed Wikipedia page".