// Internet Duct Tape

On Wikipedia, Blogging and the Anti-blog Bias

Posted in Becoming a Better Blogger, Technology, Wikipedia by engtech on December 05, 2006

(hat tip to Nicholas Carr who writes about Wikipedia quite often)

When every blogger first starts out they get the bright idea to add links to their articles on Wikipedia, treating it as a public directory instead of an authoritative resource. Adding links to blogs is very much considered inappropriate behaviour, and they will track down any other edits you’ve ever made and go through them with a fine-toothed comb. It doesn’t matter if you add relevant content to the discussion, or you are the only other source of discussion on the subject: you’ll get hit as part of the anti-blog bias.

Wikipedia has a hate on for blogs, and it’s understandable when seeing things from their point of view. A popular article like the Google page must get hundreds of ego-motivated modifications as people try to add their article on Google (I was guilty of trying to add my article on Google Code Project Hosting). Imagine if everyone who has ever written a book or movie review tried to add a link to their blog post. With “55 million blogs in the blogosphere” it is no surprise that there is a lock-down on blog links. This anti-blog slant also carries over to Wikipedia bio pages on bloggers.

The debate of the moment is on one Tony Pierce and whether or not he’s notable enough to deserve his own bio page on Wikipedia. After reading the discussion I would vote “weak delete”, but it is a very enlightening read about what goes on in the background of Wikipedia. It also more or less sums up why I blog more than I contribute to Wikipedia — I hate the thought of investing time and energy into something that could be deleted by someone who knows less about the subject than I do.

What surprises me about the anti-blogger bias on Wikipedia is aren’t they two sides of the same coin? What is Wikipedia but a massive group blog that anyone can join? Aren’t bloggers and wikipedians both people who may (or may not) be qualified to write about a subject posting information on the Internet? Wikipedia holds itself to a higher standard and has more bureaucracy / process than most (if not all) bloggers, but its biggest strength (anyone can contribute) is also its biggest weakness (anyone can contribute).

Aside: Timecop is the wikipedian who is spearheading the “War Against Blogs”. For the most part I agree with his list, except for a few entries on his “to be deleted list” that show his ignorance[1] like Violet Blue, FeedBurner, and Ze Frank[2]. Of course, there is a lot to throw Timecop’s credibility into question — like how this may be a trollish response to having his own GNAA page deleted.

[1] Not indended as an insult, intended as “you’re not an informed participant in the subject you’re choosing to focus on.”

[2] Although from reading the Ze Frank Wikipedia page it’s understandable why an outsider wouldn’t recognize that it’s on par with the Lonelygirl15 page. It needs outside links from other reliable sources in a bad way.

Highlight Reel from the GNAA Deletion Discussion Page

(Looks like this might be the root cause of the “War Against Blogs”)

  • Keep. There are more blog articles with less sources all over Wikipedia and they’re not getting deleted. There WERE plenty of sources in this article, until someone went (cite) happy again and removed 90% of them. –timecop 23:45, 27 November 2006 (UTC)
    • Replying to self, now that I saw the article again, exactly what ‘sources’ does it lack? There are plenty of references and a number of external links. Sounds like a bad faith/troll nomination to me. –timecop 23:48, 27 November 2006 (UTC)
      • GNAA has received a total of zero non-trivial coverage in independent and reliable published sources. Blogs don’t count, anonymous postings to message boards don’t count, and gnaa.us doesn’t count. That’s all original research. The fact that the research is done online and can be repeated by any of us does not make it any less original. -GTBacchus(talk) 01:23, 28 November 2006 (UTC)
    • Above user is the creator of GNAA. — RockMFR 23:50, 27 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Delete, I really don’t think they’re notable outside of Wikipedia. –Conti| 03:25, 28 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Evidently you haven’t spent much time on Slashdot. Salad Days 04:09, 28 November 2006 (UTC)

Highlight Reel from the Tony Pierce Deletion Page

  • Comment My point, which you seem to have completely missed, is that Pierce was a pioneering and very influential blogger. There are plenty of bloggers who are much less notable than Pierce with Wikipedia pages, yet they don’t seem to be marked for deletion. –pfrankenstein
  • Comment – Please add them to my talk page, I just love non-notable bloggers. –timecop 04:24, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
    • Comment Yet. One thing at a time.
      • Comment – Perhaps you can end this debate quicker, timecop, if you give us an outline on the requirements of a “notable” blogger. But since you have this bizarre war on blogs going, perhaps you don’t have such an outline. But if you do, please proved one. – TP
  • Keep – I’m not a big fan of blogs, but this guy’s history does seem to make him more notable than an average blogger (though a rewrite after all this would be nice). Quack 688 09:21, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Comment – What does that means? The average blogger is an utterly non-notable attention whore. – Femmina 15:24, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

· Keep – Clearly, the blog as a media format is not going to be going away any time soon. As a blogger prominent enough to have won a Bloggie Award at SXSW, this article should be kept. No doubt that in years future, there will be numerous cross-links for articles on Bloggy Award winners in various years and categories. In fact, there already is an entry for Bloggie Awards. Barneyg 12:23, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

  • Comment – The blog as a media format is not going to go away any time soon because it never made it as a media format in first place. But keep dreaming and wasting your time. – Femmina 15:24, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
      • CommentWP:BIO Published authors, editors and photographers who received multiple independent reviews of or awards for their work. He’s won a bloggy which is a major award in his field – we wouldn’t delete and article for an actor who has only one a single Academy Award but no other awards. He’s paid by Gothamist for his blogging – that qualifies him as a published writer, and given that his field of work is based upon the self publishing of media, I’d be inclined to include his self published works – considering them along the same line as an independent musician publishing their works. It’s a big world, you have to presume some degree of flexibility in policy here. Policy is not a club for bashing, it’s a tool best used intelligently. Glowimperial 18:00, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
        • Comment – Sorry if I didn’t recognize a “Bloggy” as a major award. Obviously it’s me the outcast that doesn’t know things about the mainstream culture. – Femmina 18:16, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Keep WP:BIO states as a criterion for inclusion: “The person has been the primary subject of multiple non-trivial published works whose source is independent of the person.” It continues, “This criterion includes published works in all forms, such as newspaper articles, magazine articles…” etc. Pierce meets that criterion. A quick search of the Dow Jones/Reuters Factiva service shows Pierce has been the subject of articles from the New York Times (27 May 2004) (followed by an echo to the Times-owned Int’l Herald Tribune on 29 May); Reuters (10 July 2004); Straits Times (Singapore) (5 March 2006); Reforma (Mexico City) (2 April 2006); EL PAIS (Madrid) (20 April 2006); Los Angeles Times (16 October 2003, 27 Feb 2003, 12 July 2004, others); Le Monde (25 June 2005); and others. The search string was (Tony Pierce AND blog), and the variety of citation shows that some regard “just blogging” to be sufficient for notability, if one is widely enough known for it (just as one could become widely known for such synonyms “writing a diary”, “writing a journal”, “writing essays”, etc.). A campaign to edit the phenomenon of blogging out of Wikipedia, when it is clearly observable in everyday life, could be considered a violation of WP:NPOV through overly aggressive editing out of known facts. .–hbobrien

Delete per nom. Consider also that one of the largest sections is the external links which include a cafepress link. Mikemill 01:42, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

  • DELETE. Cursory review of search results from Yahoo/Google/Ask.com indicate that not many reputable news sources seem to be writing about this guy. However, it could be the articles about this guy from reputable news sources are not online. Articles that do exist seem to be coming from the self-propagating blogging community, which does not (IMO) meet the notability requirements. While some might argue he is the subject of many works, I have not found those works easy to locate. Xiphoris 02:03, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
  • To add further: I did a more comprehensive review, specifically looking for psychology/ergonomics/computers/computer human interaction articles through my university’s article search system. I located no scholarly articles of any sort. scholar.google.com located no references. While he may be referred to in “entertainment” sections of popular blog-related and Internet-only news services, I do not think he meets the notability requirements as per above.
  • Finally, I especially don’t think people worthy of inclusion in an encyclopedia would much worry about their presence. Especially, notable people should not be getting personally and directly involved in debates about their inclusion in said encyclopedia. I get the impression from Digg.com and Metafilter.com that Mr. Pierce has been asking for help from many of his friends to influence this process. Popularity is not notability.
  • Delete – Most of the related links are back to his own blog. I am a blogger, but we all tend to have rather large egos, and if this was notable then we would have a flood of vanity entries. Nonforma 02:28, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Keep as per bbatsell above. A Google News Archive search shows verifiable sources for Tony Pierce. [4]. Capitalistroadster 02:35, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
  • comment – notice, every one of those ‘google news links’ goes to another personal blog. –timecop 02:45, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

· Keep Blogging is quickly becoming more and more accepted in terms of mainstream media, and if he is considered by the media to be one of the “forefathers” to modern blogging, and has been quoted, cited, interviewed, or otherwise been exposed by modern media as such, that’s verification for me. Wikipedia isn’t a directory of people who have ever had their name mentioned in the newspaper – true, but he’s had his mentioned in places other than the newspaper, multiple times.To0n 02:47, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

  • comment – Yes, he is also mentioned in blogs and the wikipedia article itself. Those sources are obviously inadequate. And the newspaper articles that people keep saying are “about him” aren’t about him at all- they are about blogging and happen to mention him as an example. Ask yourself the question: Would this article have been substantially the same if they had chosen virtually any other blogger? If yes, then the article wasn’t about him.
  • Delete This guy’s exploits are just that; an exploit of a new syntax of referring to reverse-chronologically posted content. He simply takes shit and makes sculptures. But it’s still boring, non-notable shit. –lesalle 03:32, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Comment: Opinions on the work product of the subject of this encyclopedic article are entirely irrelevant. What is at issue is whether the subject is notable, and whether you think blogging is worthwhile or not is not a measure of notability. -bbatsell ¿? 03:44, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
  • UPDATE The nominator, User:Femmina has been blocked indefinately (Admin edit summary reads “Blocked indefinitely, troll”). From that, apply whatever logic you like to this AfD (it’s a free-for-all, that’s for sure). –Oakshade 03:37, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

Delete Self-promotion Emfraser 03:42, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

  • Comment Femmina went to next door neighbour’s and changed username to Emfraser.

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8 Responses

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  1. Taran Rampersad said, on December 06, 2006 at 3:49 am

    Good post. I think that the Wikipedia policies are being stretched beyond their original purposes in a lot of ways – this being one of them. There does appear to be a bias in some ways, but the only way to verify that bias is if the same names keep popping up.

    My main problem with Wikipedia is the timesink involved – especially when it comes to deletion policies. And there is also an issue of some entries just not being updated, and being unable to be updated because the people interested in making sure an entry is right cannot due to conflict of interest issues.

    How Wikipedia reacts to this, as a community, will greatly determine it’s effectiveness as a repository for information. Simple things could be done to make the whole thing run smoother, but navigating the hierarchy and getting involved in Wikipedia-politics is a big turnoff.

  2. tony pierce said, on December 06, 2006 at 1:20 pm

    i agree with the commentor above, great post.

    although i obviously disagree with your hypothetical delete vote (my disagreement is somewhat based on user hbobrien’s post which you chose to use on this list), one of the difficulties of this debate is the entry about my blogging life is so lacking.

    as you can see from that thread and the second one that was created after the originator of the thread was banned, there was far more information about me out there than the original GNAAers expected/hoped/believed (however once they were presented to timecop he flat-out lied and said they all went back to other blogs).

    what i would prefer, now that a lot of that information is on the “record” is to update my entry and hold another discussion since many of the editors voted without knowing that ive been quoted about blogging around the world, etc.

    but deeper than that – because really in the big picture of things i really dont matter – to have a group of editors fixated on ridding bloggers off Wikipedia goes against one of Wikipedias core fundamentals of Neutrality. what redhead wants to face a judge who has a book out called “All Redheads Suck”? likewise what blogger wants to have his entry/blog/blogging career presented by the GNAA?

    but like you said, it is enlightening to see the behind-the-scenes workings of Wikipedia. im very glad that they’re this transparent. i wish someone else was being scrutinized other than me, but maybe im the right guy for the test since im thick-skinned and no longer a regular blogger, but a professional one. which is another reason i believe im notable – yes everyone can blog, but there are very few who were hired to not only blog but to blog and edit a major blog.

  3. engtech said, on December 06, 2006 at 6:42 pm

    This is a good write up on the inclusionist vs deletionist debate. What strikes me is that inclusionists are probably very close to the subject they want to keep while deletionists are outsiders to the subject they want to remove.

    I based my “delete vote” on the discussion thread alone (where they were refuting the claims of notability), back before I discovered the GNAA angle. So I wouldn’t put that much weight on that sentence in my post. :)

    What’s interesting this was the response timecop got when his page was deleted: “GNAA has received a total of zero non-trivial coverage in independent and reliable published sources. Blogs don’t count, anonymous postings to message boards don’t count, and gnaa.us doesn’t count. That’s all original research. The fact that the research is done online and can be repeated by any of us does not make it any less original.”

    I think the bigger question is “what is wikipedia”? It’s different things to different people and discussions like this will always happen because of it. If you look at the ridiculous in depth coverage of comic books, cartoons and porn stars you can see this issue goes beyond bloggers and exposes it’s fatal flaw. Can community driven work at this scale and with this many contributors?

  4. engtech said, on December 06, 2006 at 6:48 pm

    I’m stealing this comment from your blog because it’s on point.

    GNAA is a group of people who go around the Internets trolling and starting flame wars. They’ve been doing this for a long time and they’re very good at it. They’ve targeted Wikipedia and Bloggers for one of these little pranks and it’s working splendidly because Wikipedia editors are so wrapped up in their own pompous little cocoon they don’t get that they’re being played.

    It’s a shame you’re caught in the middle of this prank, but it’s actually quite funny to observe from the outside.

    I don’t agree with the funny part, but it’s worth noting that this is a prank and any attention just feeds the trolls.

  5. engtech said, on December 06, 2006 at 7:18 pm

    Funny thought: if the GNAA page on wikipedia hadn’t been deleted it would be easier to identify them as trolls.

  6. engtech said, on December 07, 2006 at 10:19 pm

    The google search gives some great blog posts from people who have deleted for not being notable. http://www.google.ca/search?sourceid=navclient-ff&ie=UTF-8&q=wikipedia+notable

    Good reads:

    http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2006/04/15/on_being_notabl.html

    What really weirds me out about all of this is that everyone acts like i’m dead and incapable of speaking for myself. It is culturally inappropriate for me to edit my entry, even when there are parts of it that are dead wrong. No one asks me to fact check – journalists matter more than me. I understand why i shouldn’t have the right to get rid of negative commentary about me, but wouldn’t it make sense to allow living “notables” correct facts? Am i not the leading expert on the biographical facts of my life? I wonder who else is looking at their entry and shaking their head at the biographical inaccuracies.

    I can’t fully put my finger on why the media-centric thing bugs me, but it does. The media has decided that i’m an expert because of my knowledge in a specific domain; Wikipedia has decided that i’m notable because i’m on TV. Why is Wikipedia not using transitivity and saying that i’m notable because of my knowledge in a specific domain? Why does it matter more that i’m on TV than why i’m on TV?

    Now, i love Wikipedia. But i think that there’s something broken here. Personally, i would rather my entry been deleted than have this very inaccurate and media-centric entry written. (Deletion would’ve been far more entertaining.) I think that this approach to notability makes Wikipedia look downright foolish. Personally, i’m embarrassed by this public representation full of mistakes. There has to be a better way to handle living people. The “no original research” approach is really not working here.

    http://www.cow.net/transcript.txt MUST READ

    What Wikipedia has taught us now, is that in a vacuum of politics, politics will be created. There is no vacuum of politics. People who are encountering this space where they can not lord over others for technicalities and gain power for themselves will then proceed to invoke technicalities, take power from other people. They just do this. This is what human beings do.

    Inclusionism says Wikipedia, because it is a virtual encyclopedia, is capable of carrying the sum of human knowledge (coincidentally the theme of Wikipedia). Because of the fact you can sort things and work things out, you’re able to actually keep the sum of all human knowledge on a place, keep it changed, and use the power of the computer. Fuck yeah!

    The deletionists take the attitude of Wikipedia is not a junkyard, an area for the cruft of all aspects of humanity that ever existed, turning into an untenable Katamari Damacy-like ball of shit that rolls through the Internet. We should clean up stuff that is not important, not interesting, and we should just get that shit out of there. Who cares what the names of every character in Serenity is? Who cares? So the idea is, delete that.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/02/AR2006120201111.html

    http://avc.blogs.com/a_vc/2006/06/im_not_notable.html

  7. engtech said, on January 12, 2007 at 11:30 pm

    Same thing happened recently to a cnet reporter:

    http://news.com.com/2100-1025_3-6149264.html

  8. [...] On Wikipedia, Blogging and the Anti-blog Bias [...]


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