Internet

Friday Procrastination Link: Wikigroaning

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Long summer Friday afternoon at work got you down? Have you tried Wikigroaning? Here's how it works:

First, find a useful Wikipedia article that normal people might read. For example, the article called "Knight." Then, find a somehow similar article that is longer, but at the same time, useless to a very large fraction of the population. In this case, we'll go with "Jedi Knight." Open both of the links and compare the lengths of the two articles. Compare not only that, but how well concepts are explored, and the greater professionalism with which the longer article was likely created….The next step is to find your own article pair and share it with your friends, who will usually look for their own pairs and you end up spending a good hour or two in a groaning arms race.

Some sample pairs to get your started:

Prime number
Optimus Prime

Raphael (archangel)
Raphael (ninja turtle)

Love
Masturbation

Apocalypse
Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Girlfriend
Video games

Or–a slightly more educational option, but just slightly–your could pass the afternoon reading thousands of words about Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's founder, from reason's June issue.

NEXT: George Will on The Age of Abundance

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  1. The Wikipedia Neutral Point of View (NPOV) objective, is itself a source of bias. And a rather tilted one at that. If a topic has some controversy, NPOV will ensure that the controversy will be expanded, expounded and highlighted beyond its measure. There is no molehill that the Wikipedians can’t inflate into a Himalayan peak.

  2. @Brandybuck:

    Dead on! Why Reason is supporting this collectivist nonsense is beyond me

    Check out WIKITRUTH.

  3. Here’s a classic: Astronomy/Astrology

  4. Love
    Masturbation

    Isn’t that one flipped?

  5. Except I was doing google groaning instead of wikigroaning, now that I go back and re-read the premise.

    Gotta stop conflating Google and Wikipedia.

  6. Why should I spend an afternoon doing something I feel superior to non-libertarians for not doing: sneering at other people’s cultural interests?

  7. Or…you could download stripper movies like a normal person.

  8. Alternatively, you could check out my new site about the titular topic. It’s very much a work in progress, but what’s there should get you started on your own road to discovery.

    Also, did Reason ask Jimbo about the NorthAmericanUnion article? Why was it deleted and locked?

    What about those nofollow tags? Why are they on most links… but not some other? Don’t non-nofollow’ed links have an economic value? Does Jimbo think WP will link to Conserrrvapediaa in the same way as it links to the non-nofollowed sites? Or, is Conserrrvapediaa not as “valid” as sourcewatch.org?

  9. here is how wikipedia says the US military draft ended:

    After a series of challenges to the draft under section 20 in 1971 and 1972, leading to an injunction against induction in the geographical area encompassed by 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by Justice William O. Douglas (where, legend has it, Justice Douglas posted the injunction on a tree near a camp site while hiking in the Cascade Mountains), it became so difficult for the Selective Service System to unwind the mess the Section 20 cases caused (and to draft men according to the priorities required by law — the “order of call” named after the “order of call” defense), that the draft was quietly ended — just in time for the wind down of the Vietnam War. The then-young Harvard Law school graduate who engineered the Section 20 cases, and the end of the draft, has never been acknowledged for his contributions (or, as viewed by others, his lack of patriotism) to ending the draft.[citation needed]

    Where is the Gates Commission? Hell, where is Nixon?

  10. Religious Society of Friends (The Quakers)

    Friends (The shitty sitcom)

    And yeah, Peter Naegele, Wikitruth is a pretty cool site – it would be better if they updated it more often, though.

  11. oh for fuck’s sake people it’s wikipedia.

    sure, it sucks that a bunch of nasty aspie kids can be dicks but competing services like “conservapedia” (more like “laughuntilyoupukeoutyourgutsandhavetogotothehospitalbutthedoctortellsyouthatyouhavesixmonthstolivesoitstimetobuythatmopedyouwantedwhenyouwerefourteen-pedia, amirite?) and the many conspira-wiki groups exist because wikis are virtually free publishing platforms.

    put out a better service and you shall see more acolytes. (and as we all know, acolytes=rolls royces and blowjobs. thank you osho, for revealing that thorny truth to the world.)

    how seriously do you take wikipedia anyway? it might be a good starting point, but it’s not really a reference unless you need to look up stuff about tv shows.

  12. If you really want to groan, you can just read Conservapedia.

  13. Why Reason is supporting this collectivist nonsense is beyond me

    Well, this collectivist nonsense is purely self-organized, voluntary, and an experiment in participatory media. So long as it’s non-coercive, it certainly doesn’t violate any of Reason’s primary values. If you don’t like what they say, you are more than free to post your own website wherein you expound competing ideas.

    I think it’s kind of cool, even though it has obvious flaws. But those flaws can be circumvented. Also, the founder calls himself an Objectivist, so there’s a Reason hook – Reason’s not Objectivist itself, but there’s clearly a lot of shared territory.

  14. Isn’t this just an extended exercise in demonstrating the bike shed problem?

  15. One person’s wikigroaning is another person’s cultural elitism. I personally find it endearing and sometimes useful to have a lengthy article on Daffy Duck or Peter Petrelli.

  16. If you really want to groan, you can just read Conservapedia.

    That usually produces more laughter than groaning. Caution: May also produce weeping.

  17. Something Awful pointed out last fall that the Wikipedia entry for “Knuckles the Echidna” (a character in Sonic the Hedgehog) is longer than the entries for:

    -Echidnas
    -The Internet
    -The internal combustion engine
    -William Shakespeare
    -Western culture

    http://www.somethingawful.com/d/awful-links/awful-link-4103.php

  18. Any time an editor at wikipedia bitches about an article not being “encyclopedic” (i.e., not the type of article that would appear in a traditional paper encyclopedia) I point them to Major events of the Marvel Universe.

  19. Roosevelt Franklin and Franklin Roosevelt. (Links unintentionally transposed).

  20. Maybe instead of groaning about how the more worthy articles are too short, you should add content to them. Light a candle instead of cursing the darkness, you know.

  21. Where is the Gates Commission? Hell, where is Nixon?

    joshua, if you feel so strongly about it, why don’t you edit the article to include them (while citing sources)? I’m just flabbergasted that people will happily spend more time pissing and moaning about a problem with a Wikipedia article than it would take to FIX the problem.

  22. joshua corning | June 8, 2007, 12:48pm | #
    here is how wikipedia says the US military draft ended:

    After a series of challenges to the draft under section 20 in 1971 and 1972, leading to an injunction against induction in the geographical area encompassed by 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by Justice William O. Douglas (where, legend has it, Justice Douglas posted the injunction on a tree near a camp site while hiking in the Cascade Mountains), it became so difficult for the Selective Service System to unwind the mess the Section 20 cases caused (and to draft men according to the priorities required by law — the “order of call” named after the “order of call” defense), that the draft was quietly ended — just in time for the wind down of the Vietnam War. The then-young Harvard Law school graduate who engineered the Section 20 cases, and the end of the draft, has never been acknowledged for his contributions (or, as viewed by others, his lack of patriotism) to ending the draft.[citation needed]

    Where is the Gates Commission? Hell, where is Nixon?

    Well, I see you edited the article rather than just bitching about it. Very good!! Of course a nice link to the Gates Commission report and perhaps a link to said “media fanfare” would have been appropriate.

  23. Of course a nice link to the Gates Commission report and perhaps a link to said “media fanfare” would have been appropriate.

    Or you could add them yourself rather than just bitching about it. [ducks] 😉

  24. @lunchstealer:

    Do some research, wikipedia is quite coercive.

    Just because someone claims to be something does not make them such. Actions speak louder than words.

  25. @ Pete Naegele: Do some research, wikipedia is quite coercive.

    Yes, because everytime I use Lexis/Nexis for information, the IRS comes to my house and audits me.

  26. I’d wager that Raphael the Archangel has a lot less influence on people’s lives than Raphael the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

    But just to keep in the spirit of things:
    William Randolph Hearst
    J. Jonah Jameson

  27. Regarding editing WP content, I gave up. “Liberals” have more time to constantly edit articles to suit; see the MediaMatters article for an example.

    I have also capitulated my multi-year battle to get facts to stick in AntonioVillaraigosa’s article; see the latest test at the link, and do see the talk page for the reasons why the facts I added in 2005 were deleted: we were just a week away from an election, so negative information – no matter how factual – was deleted with the suggestion I add it after the election. No, really.

    Any time someone talks about WP, you know they’re a hack if they fail to mention two points:

    1. The fact that it appears at the top of the search results and it frequently contains missing information means it’s little more than a vehicle to push disinformation.

    2. The oh so curious issue of their two-tiered linking system, with some sites getting real links and others getting crap links.

  28. Fun side notes:

    It looked like the IP used to remove negative information I put in AsaHutchison’s article was coming from inside AR. I added that in a couple more times and then gave up.

    One of the examples of MediaMatters getting it wrong was deleted and never added back in.

    My site dealing with the PoliticalImpactsOfKatrinawas repeatedly and, in my opinion maliciously, deleted from the WP entry with the same topic, despite having been there for several months and despite containing 100 times as much raw text as the WP entry itself.

  29. Do some research, wikipedia is quite coercive.

    You misunderstand what I mean by coercive. Wikipedia is non-coercive in the way that Linux is non-coercive. You can’t take Linux code, modify it, and sell the result, unless you make the uncompiled code available for free. This may seem like coercion, but you are free not to use any linux code and write your own software from scratch or from non-GPL sources.

    Wikipedia is the same way. They provide their service under their terms, and you are free to use it or not use it. They can’t force you to use it. In that sense, they’re non-coercive. You are welcome to take your ball and go home, but if you are using their servers to post your writing, you have to live by their rules. If you want to post your own competition to information on Wikipedia, pony up some cash for a server and get wikiing.

    But don’t come tell me they’re forcing you to do something against your will. You can always walk away.

  30. A lot of times when certain sections that seem important are shorter than a section that isn’t as important (like Lutherains vs. The Colbert Report) is because pages on major subjects are only the primer for that information. Lutherains might be shorter than TCR, but the total amount of pages on the The Luterain category, and pages relating to Luterainism is considerably larger (by word count) than the amount of pages in TCR’s categories.

  31. The Wikipedia Neutral Point of View (NPOV) objective, is itself a source of bias. And a rather tilted one at that. If a topic has some controversy, NPOV will ensure that the controversy will be expanded, expounded and highlighted beyond its measure. There is no molehill that the Wikipedians can’t inflate into a Himalayan peak.

    I think the solution to that is using NPOV less often in favor of enforcing more specific citations like “weasel” and “peacock” words. (“Reason magazine is considered by some to be the shittiest magazine ever” and “Reason Magazine is considered by some to be the greatest magazine ever”, respectivly)

  32. Now that you mention it. The Reason magazine article is lame and out of date. If I could be bothered, I suppose I could spruce it up a bit. But this is a magazine!!! Shouldn’t someone on staff be able to write an article? I would expect this to be someone’s job actually. Checking in every other week or so. Looking for vandalism, making updates. I mean you guys are writers right?

  33. Wikipedia being a user-written site, all this is doing is holding up a mirror of Internet users’ interests. Doesn’t surprise me that popular culture articles get more work done on them than ‘worthy’ topics – though many of those are quite well covered anyway.

    As to all the whining about links – I’d ask, first, why anyone thinks that getting magic google juice from being linked to by Wikipedia is a right? In fact, we kept from implementing nofollow for much longer than we probably should have.

    There are two types of external links on Wikipedia, yes – interwiki links and regular links. This is very old in the code, preceding the existence of nofollow for years. Interwiki links are lookups in a table of trusted sites, which are generally other Wikis, and linkable to in shorter syntax. Nofollow is not implemented on these because, as known quantities, we can be pretty sure those entries are not spam. We can’t be sure of that for other links.

  34. I created a site that does the calcs for you- check it out and let me know what you think!

    http://www.wikigroaning.com

  35. “My Wikipedia Test” or lonewacko or whoever,

    What kind of reverts are you talking about? For example, the only reverts that I’ve found for Antonio Villaraigosa were for vandalism and where someone keeps inserting the word “rascist” in the description. If you can post the info that was reverted, we’ll know that you aren’t just a vandal who doesn’t realize that he’s a vandal.

  36. This is exactly why Wikipedia is so great, and why people like Peter Naegele and the “Wikitruth” losers just don’t get it. Wikipedia is a celebration of nerd/internet culture. If you’re using it to replace the Encyclopedia Britannica, that’s your problem.

  37. Matthew Brown: the issue isn’t that WP owes anyone a link. The issue that those who link to WP might consider is that all the link juice is flowing to a set of anointed sites, which I believe also includes a commercial travel site.

    I’ve also done a little hacking of the Mediawiki code for my own purposes (specifically to remove nofollow tags on trusted sites), and I’m almost certain it would take someone who’s familiar with the codebase just a few minutes to tack on a nofollow tag to those trusted sites.

    So, I assume they like things the way they are: getting a ton of links from all over and, instead of giving real links to their contributors, funneling that into a small set of interesting sites like sourcewatch.org.

    Tell me: what are the chance of Conserrvaapedia getting into the trusted list? Tell us some of the reasons it wouldn’t make it, OK?

    Rimfax’s smear is the type I’d expect from someone who’s both a WP and a Reason fan. The AntonioVillaraigosa entry has a talk page (under the “discussion” link) that includes a whole section called “Distortion from supporters”. That includes this:

    You cannot add a bunch of (supposedly) factual but intentionally denigrating information and then expect other editors to provide the balance. Considering that this derogatory material is being added just days before an election that follows a negative campaign, it appears that the reasons for adding it is not to improve the encyclopedia, but rather to affect the election. If that’s not the case, then waiting few days won’t make a difference.

    I have no doubt that most of those here will not be able to interpret that correctly.

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