Friday, January 29, 2010

Reviewing Wikipedia's accuracy: Sculptural Ensemble of Constantin Brâncuşi in Târgu Jiu

First in my review of Wikipedia's accuracy is the article on the Sculptural Ensemble of Constantin Brâncuşi in Târgu Jiu. Already I'm biting my tongue on my promise not to criticize the grammar and spelling in the articles.

The Sculptural Ensemble of Constantin Brâncuşi in Târgu Jiu consists of a set of sculptures by the artist Constantin Brâncuşi which are in the Romanian city of Târgu Jiu. The Wikipedia article has no references in the usual sense demanded by its rules on "reliable sources," making my review of this article so much easier. The whole article seems to be little more than a trimmed down regurgitation of this page: from the ICI in Bucharest. I'm going to have to get a book about Constantin Brâncuşi before commenting further on this.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Vicious warrior of the week: ClockworkSoul

We see that ClockworkSoul is "just writing his thesis proposal." Sure, whatever you say, you Essjay wannabe. Supposedly this will take him a couple of months, at which time "he'll be coming back to life." So what is ClockworkSoul's definition of "life"? Arguing with other idiots on the Internet? What else can you expect from a self-described clockwork soul?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My own review of Wikipedia's accuracy

The study in the journal Nature proclaiming Wikipedia's accuracy has been a favorite tool of Wikipedia apologists. Many have pointed out that the study was from the start handicapped in Wikipedia's favor. Since the question of Wikipedia accuracy, or rather, lack thereof, remains an unsettled question in the minds of many, it is necessary to do more studies.

That is why I have decided to do my own study of Wikipedia's accuracy. I hope that by publishing which articles I intend to use for the purpose of my study and clearly stating my methodology, others can see for themselves whether my conclusions are supported by the data or if I have just shaped the data to fit my conclusion.

My first instinct was to use random articles with the "Random article" link provided on all Wikipedia pages. The problem with that is that perhaps the selection of articles would not be as representative as I would like. My next idea was to use "ancient" pages, but the Ancient Pages report has not been refreshed in a long time.

So what I'm going to do is this: on the Main Page, there are eight "portals" listed: Arts, Biography, Geography, History, Mathematics, Science, Society, Technology, and also a link to a list of all the portals. A Wikipedia portal looks much like the Main Page, but all its content is dedicated to a given topic. I don't know if the eight portals I've just listed are the portals that are always listed, but they're the portals listed as of today. From each portal, I'm going to choose either an article that has has barely been edited in a year, or in the case of the "Did you know..." and "On this day..." boxes, articles which have had very few edits for a year prior to being chosen for those features, or I'm going to choose an article that has been nominated for one of those features which has similarly laid unedited for a long time.

It could be argued that this is biased against Wikipedia from the start, since it would enable me to blow mistakes out of proportion saying that they stood uncorrected for months. Maybe so. To compensate, I will completely ignore spelling and grammar errors if they have no impact on the factual accuracy of the article. For example, "Martin Luther King, Jr. was asasssinated in 1968" would be acceptable since anyone reading that would understand what is meant regardless of whether or not they notice the misspelled word. By contrast, "The researcher was injured when a stalagmite that had hung from the ceiling of the cave for centuries fell down" would not be acceptable because by misspelling "stalactite" a factual error has been introduced into the text. (I'm sure stalagmites can fall down, too, but it would be a very different danger).

This is the list of articles I will use for this review:

1. From the Arts Portal: Sculptural Ensemble of Constantin Brâncuşi in Târgu Jiu (two edits in 2009, one of them by a robot).
2. From the Biography Portal: Regimental Sergeant Major (five edits in 2009, none so far this year to date).
3. From the Geography Portal: Tulsa Port of Catoosa (four edits in 2009, none so far this year to date).
4. From the History Portal: Jus exclusivae (five edits in 2009, none so far this year).
5. From the Mathematics Portal: Permutohedron (only one edit in 2009! Could it possibly be any good?)
6. From the Science Portal: Jon Lomberg (five edits in 2009, two so far this year).
7. From the Society Portal: Benjamin Franklin Burch (article created March 5 of last year, edited five more times over the next two months and not again since).
8. From the Technology Portal: GWR 1076 Class (three edits in 2009, two of which were by robots!)

These are all articles I am fairly certain I had never read prior to embarking on this review. I plan to read one of these each week, and examine its factual accuracy while abstaining from commenting on its quality as literature. For each of this I will use the version of the article as it was on the date of this post. It would be just fine if people decided to improve these articles before I got to them in my review. However, it might be possible to defeat my study by falsifying the edit histories for these articles, by dating major improvements prior to the date of this post).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Brutal warrior of the week: Angusmcclellan

So a lot of Angusmclellan's 50 most recent contributions have "(top)" next to them (meaning that they're the last edit to the page). It becomes scary when you realize that a lot of his edits are to user talk pages. Is anyone listening to what that blowhard is saying? Just anyone who wants to emulate him on being a brutal Wikipedia warrior.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Warrior of the week: Encephalon

So Encephalon has a committed SHA-512 identity. So what. Not only is Encephalon a tremendous Wikipedia warrior, he's also a pretentious blowhard. His logo is "Vivitur ingenio, caetera mortis erunt." Sweet hell, he sure has a high opinion of himself. It is suspicious that he hasn't edited Wikipedia as Encephalon since September of last year. But rest assured that his socks have been busy. The Encephalon account lies at the ready.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Not ready to name Warrior of the Year

Since it's January, it's perfectly understandable that some of you might expect me to name the Warrior of the Year this month. However, this blog has only been around since May of last year. So that means that there aren't yet enough brutal warriors named Warrior of the Month from which to select a vicious Warrior of the Year. That'll have to wait until May. Wikipedia is still so full of raging soldiers that I could even have Warrior of the Day and I'd still not get to everyone.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Warrior of the month: Michael Snow

Michael Snow supposedly has bachelor's degrees in history and political science. But given the relentlessness and viciousness of his wikiwarring, someone needs to award him an honorary doctorate in wikiwar, honoris causa!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Brutal warrior of the week: Adam Bishop

Adam Bishop is such a warrior. Near the top of his user page has a user box (those annoying little boxes that report inane, sometimes false, tidbits about the user in question) claiming that Adam Bishop is "is addicted to semicolons; he or she uses them frequently." Topmost on his user page (on the user-customizable part) is the canned message that "This is a Wikipedia user page," blah, blah, blah. The various awards (barn stars and even the ridiculous Plutonium Editor Star) which Adam Bishop has earned for his brave warring, are at the bottom of his user page. What's up with the false modesty? Adam, you're a remarkable wikiwarrior, be proud of it!

If placement near the top is any indication of pride, then one of the things Adam Bishop is proudest of is having reverted the change of Pope Lando's old picture to a picture of Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian on Empire Strikes Back (or Return of the Jedi, one of those). Yes, there really was a Catholic supreme pontiff by that name, I checked in the Old Catholic Encyclopedia just in case it was a Wikipedia hoax. Adam says he cracks up every time he reverts the picture of Han Solo's token black buddy back to the old drawing of the bishop from Sabina. Please.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Kind of wrong about Nihiltres

So I made a mistake in my last post of 2009. When Nihiltres said that MyWikiBiz had privately admitted to him to having sockpuppets on Yahoo! Answers, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that Nihiltres had invented the confession. "Privately admitted?" How convenient, I thought.

Now it seems that MyWikiBiz did "privately admit" to having multiple accounts on Yahoo! Answers to Nihiltres, and followed that with a public admission at So, unlike Wikipedia's powers that be, I must admit to my mistake.

But does my mistake really change anything? The fact remains that despite an increasingly larger chorus of condemnation for Wikipedia, way too many people still have way too many misconceptions about Wikipedia (that it's a charity, that it's accurate, for starters).