Archive for the 'Wikipedia Weekly' Category

Wikipedia Weekly 14

March 11, 2007

… is now up, and available here. Go download it, right now.


Apparently, I’m awesome

March 10, 2007

Or so says Jonathon Stokes, the co-founder of a hitherto unknown-to-me site called ValueWiki. Look, I’m up there at number 1! (Err, technically that’s Wikipedia Weekly, not me. But I get a personal mention.. that counts for something, right?)

Indeed, that’s a pretty good list to look at, and I follow a number of blogs that it lists. Among the others that get a mention are Citizendium’s official blog at number three, Geoff Burling (one of the most knowledgeable Wikipedians I know), and, surprisingly enough, Jimmy Wales. Jimmy rarely posts to his blog, but it’s usually worth reading when he does.

To go a little beyond this list, I could also point to Wikimedias who blog at Meta, or better yet, the very excellent sites Wiki Blog Planet (which seems to be identical to Open Wiki Blog Planet) and Planet Wikimedia.

Go subscribe to some lists, or something. In the meantime, I’ll ponder the question: is Jonathon Stokes the Jonathon Stokes?

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.

How to influence people

February 27, 2007

Larry Sanger’s Citizendium is just drowning in good press these days. Unfortunately for the site, two slashdottings later the site is still struggling to keep up a decent rate of expansion: the “Big Write” project fizzled, and hundreds of new users in just a few days have done little in terms of writing new content. So, when Ars Technica’s Nate Anderson posted a glowing three-page review of the Wikipedia alternative, it was another chance for Citizendium to leap to the big time.

However, the resulting discussion thread turned out a little differently. The response was overwhelmingly negative, despite the best efforts of Citizendium’s Jason Potkanski, an Ars reader and forum denizen himself.

This is where the story gets interesting, though. It seems that Larry saw the discussion thread, which had been linked to on his site’s official blog, and decided to take a read. Here is his response (emphasis mine):

Jason, why do you waste your time in that discussion? Clearly you’re dealing with a bunch of jackals there who simply hate the idea of the project. There will be only more and more such people as we become more and more successful. No one cared much last September, so we only had a few negative reactions, all of them saying that it can’t work; but now that we’ve got over 1,000 articles, many hundreds of participants, consistently well over 500 edits per day (and pushing toward 1000 regularly), with scores of regular contributors…well, some people are evidently starting to feel threatened by us.



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Wikipedia Weekly 11 finally recorded

February 10, 2007

Now that internet connectivity has been restored to Taiwan and mainland China, we’ve been able to spend some time with Andrew Lih recording the next episode of Wikipedia Weekly. The topics of conversation included comparisons between the Microsoft, MyWikiBiz and AstroTurf controversies; new board hires; the recent fundraiser; and, of course, Citizendium.

Since the last release, though, we’ve averaged 550-600 downloads for each episodes, with Episode 1 way out in front with just under a thousand. We’ll try to get back to those numbers now that we’re able to return to a regular release schedule.


January 15, 2007

What happens when a series of horrible, fiery earthquakes tear the Earth asunder, rending the very fabric of spac^h^h^h^h the Interweb in twain? The charismatic host of an esoteric podcast is unjustly prevented from joining us in the usual manner, that’s what.

And what happens, pray tell, when the remaining few attempt to record an episode without their fearless leader?

Uh… let’s not talk about that.

In short, we’re unable to record the long-awaited (or at least, apathetically anticipated) episode of Wikipedia Weekly until Taiwan’s tubes get back in order. We’re every bit as depressed about this turn of events as I’m sure you are — heh — but we’ll be back as soon as reasonably possible.

In other news, a recent Ars Technica article on Wikipedia, Citizendium, Scholarpedia et cetera started an interesting discussion on the future of Citizendium. There, I argued that many of Citizendium’s processes are — in their current forms — a joke, which sparked a reply by none other than Mike Johnson, a member of the site’s Executive Committee. I’ll be explaining my criticism to the project in full as soon as I have the time, but check out the discussion and how it went. :)

Wikipedia Weekly 8 released

December 7, 2006

It’s a little late, but Wikipedia Weekly episode eight is finally up. This week we focus on the proposed deletion of Esperanza, a sub-community at Wikipedia that focuses on making the website an enjoyable place to work. Robth joins us to dicuss his reasons for nominating the community for deletion, while the former “Admin General” of Esperanza, Celestianpower, represents the opposing view.

It was an interesting discussion, and I highly recommend you check it out.

Wikipedia Weekly 7 released!

November 26, 2006

The podcast is finally up, and it’s packed. We talk about:

  • Our new subscription template at Wikipedia,
  • the 1.5 million article milestone (and others) at Wikipedia,
  • Citizendium’s progress,
  • the completion of Danny’s article-writing contest,
  • the Wikibook to be released by Pearson PLC,
  • standardised warning templates,
  • changes to Wikimarkup,
  • and a followup on Jason Calacanis’ advertising proposal for Wikipedia.


Wikipedia Weekly 7 recorded

November 26, 2006

So we’ve finally recorded Wikipedia Weekly episode 7, with such an enormous number of panelists (between 6 and 8, depending on the time) that Skype simply couldn’t handle the number of connections. We have about four hours of audio, which will be edited by Fuzheado, so expect it up once he’s had enough time to put it all together.


English Wikipedia Rapidly Approaching 1.5 Million Articles

November 23, 2006

The Special:Statistics page at Wikipedia is an extremely useful one, telling us all kinds of wonderful things about the website we’ve all used and abused for school assignments, general fact-checking, and impressing the ladies with our tremendous detailed knowledge of Japanese cartoon characters. And today it tells us something new: Wikipedia is now tantalisingly close to passing the 1.5 million article mark.

In fact, Wikipedia has 1,497,498 articles, which have been contributed to across more than 92 million edits. In fact, as of June 2006, the number of new articles at Wikipedia was growing by well over 2,000 per day, and it’s easy to believe that the site will have surpassed the 1.5 million mark before the weekend.

This comes at an interesting time, because we recently reported on two other landmarks that had been reached: namely, that October 2006 was both the first month in which the number of new articles had decreased month-to-month for years, and the month in which the Wikimedia Foundation raised the most money ever without running a fundraising drive, at over $40,000. So not only does it appear that Wikipedia’s rate of growth is slowly beginning to decrease, but it also appears that the website is slowly coming close to break-even point without the need for fundraisers.

Actually, that’s wrong. The Foundation has a huge amount of money in the bank at the moment, because it runs up well over $100,000 in expenses every month due to the high costs of hosting, employing their three full-time staff members and part-time bookkeeper, and so on. This $40,000 doesn’t go far, but it’s encouraging to note that the amount they raise each month is slowly climing — the WMF may one day soon be in the red.

Another positive note to take from this is that, at nearly 1.5 million articles and well over half a million media files, Wikipedia is reaching the point where the most important job is not the addition of new content, but the improvement of what they already have. Users now tend to focus more on the improvement of articles rather than their creation, and there are a core of Wikipedians that spend inordinate amounts of time raising articles that they know nothing about to a minimal standard of quality, ensuring that they comply with the Manual of Style and so on. Here’s to them, the WikiGnomes.

The matter of costs I raised above raises an important issue, though, of the Wikimedia Foundation’s technical leadership. Kelly Martin has a lot to say on the topic, all of it well-informed and well thought out, arguing that the MediaWiki software behind the site needs additional features and, more importantly, that the WMF needs a Chief Technical Officer to manage the site. Her posts make interesting reading, and I highly recommend you check them out.

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