Thursday, 10 January 2008

More wikipedia

Following on from my last wikipedia post, there's some interesting stuff from the wikipedia 'reliable sources noticeboard' (because in wiki land being stated in reliable sources makes stuff true, not, you know, actually being true - see Ronnie Hazelhurst as Andrew points out in the comments to the last wiki post).

So there's a discussion as to whether well known online tech paper The Register actually counts as a reliable source, it's started by longtime wikipedia admin Phil Sandifer:
"...a willfully tabloid source, not reliable surely, right? Phil Sandifer (talk) 16:39, 7 December 2007 (UTC)"
After some to-ing and fro-ing, someone says:
"I think we are not seeing the forest for the trees. Or lets cut to the chase.
1. Was there ever a concern about the Register as a source before the current batch of Wikipedia stories? If so, please cite evidence here.
2. Disregarding the current batch of Wikipedia stories that we dislike, what is their journalistic reputation? Please cite evidence and facts.
3. Let's leave out personal stakes.
We can't exclude a source because it gave us a succession of bloody noses. Lawrence Cohen 16:14, 15 December 2007 (UTC)"
But worry not wikipediaphiles, here's another longtime admin JzG to confirm that we just can't count on media sources that embarrass wikipedia round here:
"The Register is reliable enough for techie stuff, but individual journalists pursuing some kind of muckraking "investigative" journalism with a pretty obvious failure to even attempt to look at dissenting opinions is not going to be reliable in any publication unless it has independent corroboration...a story about the Durova incident sourced entirely from an editor giving one side of the story (and a side which had been repeatedly rebutted at that...None of these shines out to me as an example of critical review, just Wikipedia-bashing. We should stick sources which draw form a wider base than one or two editors pushing a heavy barrow uphill... Guy (Help!) 17:36, 19 December 2007 (UTC)"
So that's fine then, we can't trust these internet publications anyway, can we? Oh yes, it looks like we can, because on the same page we see that someone isn't too impressed by Pajamas Media (no relation!):
"Is a collaborative blog like Pajamas Media a reliable source? // Liftarn (talk)"
Well another longtime (and high up) admin Jayjg (mate of the SlimVirgin mentioned in the last post) explains that apparently, unlike the evil extremist Register, Pajamas Media is the very epitome of fact checking and impartial journalistic values:
"In its "About Us" section it states "Besides adding to its blog network, through its portal, PJM now provides exclusive news and opinion 24/7 in text, video and podcast from correspondents in over forty countries. Pajamas Media also has its own weekly show on XM satellite radio – PJM Political – and syndicates its original material like a news agency." That seems to be more than a "collaborative blog". Jayjg (talk) 3:18, 10 January 2008 (UTC)

Right-wing yes, but "extremist" - that's just hyperbole. Pajamas Media appears to be the right-wing counterpart of Common Dreams. Currently Wikipedia links to Common Dreams 1435 times. Admittedly, the majority of these are not actual references in articles, but certainly a significant number are.
Until we have a new policy that covers these kinds of sources on both sides of the political spectrum, we're going to have to be a wee bit more even-handed. Jayjg (talk) 02:52, 9 January 2008 (UTC)"
And this level of hypocrisy is just on one page I read today. Previously the rantings of Mad Mel at the Daily Mail have been promoted as a reliable source while both the BBC and Guardian have been dismissed as propaganda! (here is just the first example I came across when looking - the above uber admin Jayjg comparing the reliability of a Mad Mel blog post to the Guardian - any Israeli-Palestinian article is a good place to look for this sort of thing, and I've just found this article, which is an absolute hoot).

The problem is less the hypocritical flouting of their own, usually inflexible, rules by wikipedia true believers just because some news source is critical of wikipedia. Rather it is just how easily these bureaucratic rules can simply be bypassed by the insiders of the wikipedia community. Then all the pretentions of WP:NOR, WP:RS, and WP:V become a smoke screen to allow the partisan slanting of supposedly objective and encyclopaedic articles.

Amusingly the Wikipedia Review people picked up on my last post and were worried at my dig at their SlimVirgin obsession - I should probably reassure them that, while they are indeed completely obsessed by the woman, my perusing of wikipedia talk pages, and indeed personal experience, confirms that she is indeed the preeminent master of all the 'wikilawyering' and assorted dodgy techniques I'm talking about.


I Found Osama Too said...

It's not an obsession. There have been very few posts about her recently.

If one single admin caused as much trouble and controversy as her, there would be just as many threads about him/her as well.

Daljit B said...

Interesting post:

pj said...

Ho ho, people often make the same point as that post, but I continue to ignore it, partly out of sheer bloody mindedness (it isn't like many people read this blog anyway), and partly I guess because of my scientific background - sure I could just post a few hundred words on what you think about a subject, but essentially who cares what I think on a topic? If I try and justify why I think that then there might be some (small) value in telling people what I think.

I don't think it is a coincidence that my most linked to blog post is this one on IQ that is both incredibly badly written and comes in at nearly 3,000 words with three figures! I guess I could have just written "Richard Lynn is a dick" but I somehow think that would have made my point rather less convincingly.