Tuesday, February 3, 2009

More Publicity for my Wikipedia Work

I received an e-mail from a British dude wanting to talk about my Wikipedia work on Friday. I spoke with him on the phone for about 45 minutes that afternoon. That and his other resulted in this article in The Independent. There were two passages which quoted me:

How big is the problem really? Reid Priedhorsky, who studies Wikipedia and similar social projects at the University of Minnesota, estimated in a recent paper that the chances of any one visitor seeing a damaged Wikipedia page are about one in 140, as the average time it takes to repair damage is less than three minutes, and even less for heavily tracked pages. However, there are still more than 100,000 damaged pages at any given time, vandalism appears to be on the increase and it is impossible fully to measure the scale of the problem.

"It's the monster in the closet. You know that it has not grown bigger than the closet and busted down the door, but you don't know exactly how big it is in there," Priedhorsky said. However, the most startling fact about Wikipedia remains how accurate it is, not how inaccurate.

"As a researcher, I'm baffled that it works, but Wikipedia is one of the wonderful things that has happened in the 21st century. Many hands make light work. There are millions of people who edit Wikipedia, and many of them track changes to the pages they are interested in. I have 43 pages on my watchlist, for example, covering subjects I know things about. Any controversial edit is likely to be quickly seen by many people."

The long quote is an amalgam of various things I said during the interview... when I said those things, they weren't all together and didn't read so oddly.

Also, the 100k pages damaged at any one time didn't come from my paper, and is surely wrong. I'm not sure where he got that figure.

Second passage relevant to me:
The foundation's finances are the biggest single threat to Wikipedia, according to Reid Priedhorsky. "A successful community artefact like Wikipedia requires strong buy-in from the community, which I'd wager is much harder to achieve under a for-profit model," he said.
The monster-in-the-closet quote referred to ax-grinding (i.e., the people whose views on Wikipedia are those who have the most time to edit), not vandalism. I liked the description of who I am, which noted that I study Wikipedia but also other things. I don't want to be typecast as someone who just works on Wikipedia.

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