Archive for the 'Current Affairs' Category

Forget my own head if it weren’t nailed on

March 12, 2007

A recent email from Larry Sanger:


It occurs to me that a few of you might not be participating on the wiki ( because you lost your username. Well, it’s no bother for us to look it up for you. If you have forgotten yours, simply drop a quick mail to constables at and we’ll send it to you. Then you can easily have your password sent to you, and get involved!


Hang on. Citizendium requires all users to register with their real names, and always has done; it’s one of the fundamental principles of the site. Not only that, but there is a standard format for all Citizendium usernames: “Firstname Lastname”.

So.. why does Larry think that people are forgetting their own names?


The twenty-first thing

March 11, 2007

Angela Beesley has collected a total of twenty things you probably didn’t know about Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation, and it’s a good read. Some particularly important points that I want to stress would be:

13. The Wikipedia Foundation did not announce a new project.
16. Admins do not have editorial authority in Wikipedia.
17. Wikia is not a Wikimedia project.

If everyone would get these points right, the pedant within me would be that much happier. I have one more, based on my own experience:

21. Yes, I did hear about “that guy on Wikipedia.” Thank you for asking.

Wikimania 2007

March 10, 2007

I’m not much of a conference guy. I remember volunteering to help at Linux.Conf.Au when it came to Canberra in 2005, but that’s about it. However, I’m fairly certain I’ll be attending the annual Wikipedia/Wikimedia meetup, Wikimania, when it hits Taiwan in early August.

If I’m lucky enough to go this year, it would be in the semi-official self-important role of “Podcaster d00d”, along with Andrew, Liam and hopefully the mysterious Tawker and others. In general, we’ll be involved with covering the event in the spirit of citizen journalism; recordings of each talk will presumably be made available online, but we’ll be concerned with recording as much of the event as we think would be interesting. That includes attendees’ comments, interviews with the speakers, and so on.

We already have a few ideas for how this could be done. Here are a few:

  • We could produce a shortened episode of the podcast for each day of the conference. This would probably run for half an hour or less, and preferably include a rundown of the day’s events, ideally including a brief audio clip from each talk and perhaps a quick chat with a few speakers.
  • Brief interviews with attendees, from which we could extract 3-4 soundbites to be interspersed through the day’s episode.
  • Video recordings of the day. Due to bandwidth concerns, these would probably need to be limited in duration and so lend themselves best to short interviews and the like. We’ll need to find a decent camera for this.
  • An audio workshop, running through our methods for recording the podcast. This would probably be of interest to the Wikiversity crowd, as that project has made heavier use of user-produced audio than most others.

I’m sure there are plenty more ideas to be had on that front. Even if I can’t personally go, Andrew will certainly be in a position to go through with at least a few of the above and probably more besides. I’ll create this page at Wikipedia in a little while so can collect a list of ideas for the event, and I’d love to hear what other people think we could do.

Baby steps forward

February 26, 2007

Big Things are happening at Larry Sanger’s Citizendium. Things like “The Big Delete“, in which the project “unforked” itself from Wikipedia by deleting most of their derivative content; “The Big Speedydelete“, in which they deleted “probably over 1,000 pages” of other crap; and “The Big Cleanup“. Most recently, though, Citizendium has launched itself into the next Big Thing: the imaginatively named “Big Write“.

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Citizendium struggles to convert publicity into content

February 14, 2007

Citizendium was slashdotted again recently, prompting the creation of 900 new user accounts in the last 24 hours. So, following up from my recent post on their last slashdotting, how has this affected the site’s performance?

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Citizendium since the slashdotting

February 9, 2007

Following on from the recent slashdotting of Citizendium, I thought it might be worth breaking down the numbers to see how they’re faring since the article ran. They appear to have weathered the ‘Slashdot effect’, which involves ten of thousands of geeks descending upon a page in a short space of time (usually bringing it to its knees in the process), but how has the publicity affected the project itself?

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Good luck!

February 9, 2007

Just a note to wish the best of luck to Geoffrey, who’ll be undergoing surgery tomorrow. Geoffrey is a very long-term Wikipedian, involved with the project for aeons longer than I have been, and his posts are always worth a read for someone interested in his years of experience.

Good luck! Hope things go well, and without complications.

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Wikipedia fundraiser ends with a sigh

January 5, 2007

If you’d been watching the progress of the Wikimedia Foundation’s fundraising drive — for which there is a live list of donations — you’d have seen it slowly peter out over the last few days. After an initial avalanche, which raised US$341,000 in a little over a week, the rate of contributions is finally falling again. The fundraiser, which has by now raised US$877,000 and become by far the most successful to date, appears to be putt-putt-putting to a halt.

When this whole shindig started, I was lucky enough to be in the first few people to donate to the drive, but my two cents (ho, ho, ho) were soon caught up by the thousands of people flocking to donate. My own donation came at 10pm on the 15th of December; in the 24-hour period before then, less than fifty other people had donated to the Wikimedia Foundation.

How many people donated in the 24-hour period after mine? Over seven hundred and fifty, or one every two minutes. Amazing, no?

The fundraiser’s success comes for a number of reasons: firstly, because it was the first to feature donation-matching, which effectively doubled the revenue raised on certain days of the drive. Secondly, the number of people that use Wikipedia since late 2005 has increased dramatically, catapulting it past eBay, Amazon and the BBC in that time.

However, all good things come to an end. The last 24 hours have seen “just” 300 donations to the Foundation, compared with those 750 on the first day and 900+ during its height. Its clear that the impetus behind it has been lost, just in time for its official ending date on Saturday.

It all leaves you with a warm and fuzzy feeling, doesn’t it?

Wikipedia passes one hundred million edits

December 28, 2006

As of just a few hours ago, the English Wikipedia has passed 100,000,000 edits made by its users. The milestone, while not as significant as 1.5 million articles or 1 million media files, does raise a few interesting points about the website.

First, and most obviously, is the absolutely insane rate at which people contribute to the site. While perhaps half a million or more of those edits have been made by automated bots (such as AntiVandalBot, which clocks up several thousand per day), the vast majority are made by humans editing pages manually. That’s an amazing feat: even with the aid of semi-automated tools, that’s an extraordinary number of edits.

Secondly is that, if you were to refresh the statistics page a few times, you’d see the number of edits fluctuate by thousands of edits per second. And it doesn’t always rise, either: it’s not uncommon to see the number drop sharply from second to second, then rise again. This is a pretty good demonstration of how the rate of editing compares with the rate of deletion at Wikipedia: a huge number of pages — not just articles, but also talk pages, pages in the “Wikipedia” namespace, and so on — are deleted, along with their edits.

I’m really impressed by how rapidly Wikipedia has grown, and encouraged about the future. I wonder if it will take another six years to make it to 200,000,000 edits?

Wikimedia Commons exceeds 1,000,000 media files

November 30, 2006

The 1.5 million articles now available at the English Wikipedia is impressive enough (the lucky page was an article on the Kanab Ambersnail), but it’s astounding that just a week later the Wikimedia Commons project received its one millionth media file since it was founded in September 2004.

Commons collects free content media files for use in various Wikimedia Foundation projects, such as the various versions of Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikinews and so on. Launched in September 2004, it took just under fifteen months to reach the magic one millionth file at an average rate of over two thousand additions per day.

And how will the Commons folks celebrate such an achievement? With a bloody big mosaic:

So congratulations to Wikimedia Commons on archiving so many media files in such a tiny amount of time.

OH! Before I forget, what was the one millionth file? A picture of Singapore Zoo, uploaded at exactly 09:42 November 30, 2006 (exactly five minutes ago) that’s what: