Facebook, Axios and NBC Paid to Whitewash Wikipedia Pages


567 points | by danso 103 days ago


  • ilamont 102 days ago

    A few people, however, have figured out how to manipulate Wikipedia’s supposedly neutral system to turn a profit.

    Neutral system? A few?

    Let's not kid ourselves here. Wikipedia is filled with bias. Yes, there are some informative articles and it's great that some people have spent a sizable chunk of time tending to the garden. But there's a lot of stuff missing, and the problems of new contributors being shut out or shut down is well-documented (https://www.technologyreview.com/s/520446/the-decline-of-wik...).

    As for paid/planted content, it's easy to spot certain types (fawning celebrity or corporate profiles) but others are far more subtle. And sometimes when I'm reading an apparently well-researched article on a technical, historical, or scientific topic, I wonder if some contributor way down the line had an axe to grind or is outright messing with audiences by inserting bogus information.

    • curlypaul924 102 days ago

      I've suspected for a while that the pharmaceutical companies are manipulating the drug pages on wikipedia. Often I'll come across a claim about a drug and then click on the reference, only to find that the reference says something completely different from the wikipedia article. I don't have an example off-hand, but it's something to keep in mind: always check the references rather than blindly accepting what wikipedia says.

      (Related, wikipedia's policy of only accepting secondary sources is similarly problematic, because often the secondary sources say something completely different from the primary source. I understand the need for the policy -- it makes it more difficult someone from writing an article just to manipulate wikipedia -- but again, it underscores the need not just to check wikipedia's reference, but also to check the primary source).

      • reaperducer 102 days ago

        wikipedia's policy of only accepting secondary sources is similarly problematic

        This is why I stopped contributing.

        Article about a radio station where I was in management and selected the call letters? I added the meaning of the call letters to a Wikipedia article. Rejected because I'm not a secondary source.

        Added an article about a dial-up BBS network that did store-and-forward e-mail a decade before the internet went mainstream. I ran one of they key nodes. Rejected because I'm not a computer magazine available in archive.org.

        Added an article about what was probably the world's first online cartoon series (helped with distribution, since this was pre-internet). Rejected. Same reason.

        I as a journalist at the scene of an event when it happened and watched it unfold before my eyes. Added some information to that event's entry in Wikipedia. Rejected.

        The irony is that if there was a copy of the broadcast I did on the event, that would be perfectly OK. But the people who patrol the sources on Wikipedia are under the impression that there was no recorded history before the internet.

        • derefr 102 days ago

          Wikipedia doesn’t want to host journalism. It wants to host editorial content. This is an important distinction for technical reasons of editorial process: the content on Wikipedia should always be able to be recreated from the article’s sources. If the article is the canonical place where the assertion can be found, then editors have to tip-toe around editing that piece of content much more carefully, being careful to preserve it as an artifact—which makes some of Wikipedia’s regular editorial approaches (e.g. deleting “niche” articles) untenable. The proper way to contribute primary-source knowledge to Wikipedia is to create a secondary source (like an article on a third-party website) containing quotes of your primary-source statements. Then edit Wikipedia and cite that third-party source.

          If you think this won’t work: how do you think the Wikipedia articles for companies get updated to reflect news about them? Almost always, the company’s PR team writes an article, puts it on the PR news-wire, and then goes and edits the relevant Wiki article to reflect the new information, citing the PR news-wire article.

          The key reason this is allowed is that anyone could have made those same edits (and probably would have—the PR team isn’t changing the outcome, just expediting it.) The edits aren’t accepted by an argument to authority of the editor, but by an argument to consensus-acceptance of the secondary source as reflective of reality.

          By analogy: it’s untenable to put code (e.g. a usage example) in a Git commit message. The commit messages are on a layer above the code; they refer to the code, but they can’t refer to themselves. Nobody can edit the code in somebody else’s commit message to fix it if it’s wrong. It’s much better to have the code committed as code (or docs, tests, etc.) in the repo, because then you can fix it, change it, talk about it, whatever.

          The code is the primary source; the commits are the secondary sources, citing the primary sources; and the commit messages are an editorial reflection of the secondary sources. (This is especially true in LKML-style commits where submitters squash their commits into patches, dropping their messages; and then maintainers—essentially editors—write the final commit message.)

          If you want to make a new commit message in the commit log, it has to serve as a description of a new commit, which in turn has to package a change in the code. If you want to make a new paragraph in a Wikipedia post, it has to serve as a description of a citation, which has to package new primary-source information. But solving both problems is easy: your write the code/third-party article, and then commit/cite it.

          • reaperducer 102 days ago

            the content on Wikipedia should always be able to be recreated from the article’s sources

            If Wikipedia only wants content from published sources, then it's going to miss the 99% of history that's not reported on a newspaper web site.

            • derefr 102 days ago

              Nobody said anything about "published" sources. Anything that is not Wikipedia (or another purely-editorial tertiary source like a rival Encyclopedia, or a survey-level textbook) qualifies as a secondary source.

              Assertions about history before the Internet—before writing, even—can be cited just like anything else. The "99% of history" that we currently know about, we know about because some historian or paleontologist or anthropologist dredged up primary-source data, put it together, made sense of it, and wrote down their findings in a journal paper (i.e. a secondary source.) Wikipedia, like all encyclopedias, cites those secondary sources.

              You have primary-source knowledge of your own? Write a blog post about it. Just like a historian writing a journal paper, that blog post is now a secondary source that quotes your primary-source knowledge (ETA: or maybe the blog post is even a primary source itself, depending on how fresh your knowledge was and how unbiased your reporting of it was.) Wikipedia can now cite your blog post. Wikipedia cites plenty of blog posts.

              Alternatively, if you're doing journalism—going out and talking to primary sources—then the Wikimedia group of sites has a place that will host any secondary-source artifact you create from that: Wikinews. You can write a Wikinews article, and then cite it on Wikipedia. Wikipedia cites plenty of Wikinews articles.

              Let me make another analogy: if you compare the Wikimedia foundation as a whole to, say, a newspaper publisher; then Wikipedia is specifically the editorials section of that newspaper. Journalism is most of a newspaper; but the one place it doesn't belong, is in the editorials section of the newspaper. Journalism belongs in the "news" part of the paper.

              Wikipedia editors know that people can wear many hats, and there's nothing wrong with being both an editor and a journalist. The whole distinction they're making, is that Wikipedia doesn't want people editing articles with their primary-source hats on, or with their journalist hats on. Wikipedia wants people editing articles purely with their editor hats on. If you're a primary source, or a journalist, you do that stuff outside of Wikipedia proper. Then you turn around, take off those hats, put on your editor hat, and edit Wikipedia to refer to what primary-source-you or journalist-you just created. (Or, if you're not an editor by nature but just want your content cited, then you should just be a primary source and/or journalist—someone who writes stuff down somewhere it can be cited—and leave editing Wikipedia to people who like editing. Maybe make friends with some Wikipedia editors, and send them links to your new stuff when you produce it. If it's worth including, they'll cite it and write about it! This is literally exactly the same as having a relationship with the editors of a newspaper/magazine/regular encyclopedia. Just because you/anyone can be a Wikipedia editor, doesn't mean that you have to; and it doesn't mean that being a (Wikipedia) editor is not a specialized job that is some people's comparative advantage, while your comparative advantage might lie elsewhere—like in being a personal historian.)

              I want to call out a specific example of blog posts being cited as secondary sources, to make this clear. Microsoft's Raymond Chen is a blogger (https://devblogs.microsoft.com/oldnewthing/). He writes a lot about the path-dependencies in Microsoft products that have led to them being the way they are today. Wikipedia cites these posts all the time. Even though he's writing about things he did himself. You are allowed to be a primary-source man-on-the-spot recollecting history; and the secondary-source historian "interviewing" the primary source; and even the tertiary-source editor citing the secondary-source blog-post "interview" artifact. (I don't think Chen bothers to edit Wikipedia to cite his posts, but there's no reason he couldn't.)

              • vonmoltke 102 days ago

                > You have primary-source knowledge of your own? Write a blog post about it. Just like a historian writing a journal paper, that blog post is now a secondary source that quotes your primary-source knowledge. Wikipedia can now cite your blog post. Wikipedia cites plenty of blog posts.

                Per Wikipedia editorial guidelines, that is still a primary source:


                An account of a traffic incident written by a witness is a primary source of information about the event; similarly, a scientific paper documenting a new experiment conducted by the author is a primary source on the outcome of that experiment. Historical documents such as diaries are primary sources.

                • derefr 102 days ago

                  Yeah, sure, Wikipedia has one (useful, practical) definition of "primary source" and "secondary source", and they're allowed to define those terms however they like.

                  Usage of the terms outside Wikipedia, in the greater scope of historiography, makes finer distinctions. One example definition (from https://www.lib.uci.edu/what-are-primary-sources):

                  > Primary sources are documents, images or artifacts that provide firsthand testimony or direct evidence concerning an historical topic under research investigation. Primary sources are original documents created or experienced contemporaneously with the event being researched. Primary sources enable researchers to get as close as possible to what actually happened during an historical event or time period. A secondary source is a work that interprets or analyzes an historical event or period after the event has occurred and, generally speaking, with the use of primary sources. The same document, or other piece of evidence, may be a primary source in one investigation and secondary in another. The search for primary sources does not, therefore, automatically include or exclude any format of research materials or type of records, documents, or publications.

                  Anthropology and paleontology have very clear "primary sources", because they deal in hard artifacts. Those artifacts are primary sources. The things you write down about those artifacts are secondary sources. This distinction is important because different researchers might interpret the same artifact in different ways. But, if you know that there's a primary-source artifact preserved somewhere, you can always go back to it and study it yourself, rather than taking any particular researcher's word for it on what it is, or what it means.

                  History, on the other hand, deals in documents, received oral traditions, etc. In these cases, the "primary sources" serving as inputs to a historian's work are often things that would have been considered "secondary sources" or even "tertiary sources" at their time of creation. For example, a centuries-old medicinal textbook. A historian can cite this document as a "primary source" for what kinds of medicine people at the time believed in. But, of course, despite being a "primary source" in the sense of being a real document from the period, it's not a "primary source" in the sense of reliably giving you hard data about what people at the time actually did. Every word written in the document was, at the time, an interpretation that went through an editor. They might have introduced all manner of bias.

                  Likewise, in modern writing, if you are a sane adult human being, you are usually considered to be creating "primary source" documents if you write down/are interviewed about your experiences of things as they happen to you. But—despite being the person that did these things!—if you are recounting your experiences long after the fact, your recollection would usually be considered a "secondary source." Per the definition above:

                  > Primary sources are original documents created or experienced contemporaneously with the event being researched.

                  > A secondary source is a work that interprets or analyzes an historical event or period after the event has occurred...

                  That second assertion still holds, even if the same person that is doing the "interpretation or analysis" took part in the event.

                  Wikipedia might consider e.g. someone's written reflection on what their childhood was like—or a veteran's recounting of a battle long after the war has ended—to be a "primary source", and it's Wikipedia's perogative to use the term however it best suits them. But most of academia would disagree with them.

                  And, practically, if you have your own primary-source hat or journalist hat on, you should use the greater academic definitions—because Wikipedia might not always draw these particular distinctions; because you might be submitting your work to more editorial teams than just Wikipedia's; and because it's best to be pessimistic in how authoritative a given editor will judge a particular work of yours to be. If you obey all the rules required to get your work cited as a secondary source, you won't need to worry about whether it qualifies as a primary source.

                  • vonmoltke 102 days ago

                    Usage of the term outside Wikipedia is irrelevant to editing articles on Wikipedia. The person you responded to was talking specifically about having Wikipedia edits reverted for using primary sources.

                    Though on rereading the post I wonder if the issue is more of original research than primary source. The line between them is a bit blurry.

                • hobs 102 days ago

                  Great, and even if you are the secondary source as recommended they will just delete your content (as you noted) for niche articles.

                  I just dont understand why anyone would want to contribute to wikipedia given how much annoyance you have to deal with to help.

                  • derefr 102 days ago

                    You're still coming at it with the mindset of a contributing editor. Most people who edit Wikipedia are not contributing editors; they're just plain editors. They fix spelling mistakes and re-arrange paragraphs to make the text flow better, for fun. They could be (and many are!) professional editors for publications. Editing Wikipedia is good practice for being a professional editor.

                    People who come to Wikipedia wanting to make some text be in the article are going to come away upset. People who come to Wikipedia wanting to make the article the best article it can be—and in the process, discover some citable sources and decide that the article would be improved by a new sentence containing a gloss of what one of those sources says—are going to enjoy their time. You don't edit Wikipedia to get new information into the encyclopedia. You edit Wikipedia to improve the quality of the encyclopedia-as-encyclopedia. (Maybe, sometimes, by improving articles into existence. Maybe, other times, by improving articles out of existence. Maybe by making the article longer; maybe by making it shorter. One of these states† is optimal for the people looking for an encyclopedia article on X. The editors want the article to be in that state.)

                    If you look at it as less like a content-aggregation activity (like submitting and titling Reddit posts)—and more like the activity of a group of cloistered monks excited to work together to make a the best darn illuminated manuscript they can make—I feel like the Wikipedia community and its foibles makes perfect sense.

                    † And yes, that means that sometimes readers will come away empty-handed for their query. Often that's for the best, especially if an existing Wikipedia article on X would just bump down a much better Google search-result for X (say, that of a niche-content encyclopedia) to #2, such that fewer people are using that excellent resource. There is a reason Wikipedia doesn't have articles for every existing Pokemon—and that reason is that Bulbapedia exists, and Wikipedia doesn't want to try to pretend it can beat Bulbapedia at being Bulbapedia. People compare (an offline copy of) Wikipedia to the emponymous Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but it's not; a true HHGTTG would look like a copy of Wikipedia stapled together with copies of all the niche encyclopedias it intentionally defers to.

                    • dTal 102 days ago

                      >You don't edit Wikipedia to get new information into the encyclopedia.

                      Uh, how does new information get in the encyclopedia then?

                      • derefr 102 days ago

                        You don't edit Wikipedia with the intent of putting new information in there. The culture of Wikipedia will notice you as a foreign presence and push you out. You edit Wikipedia with the intent of improving Wikipedia. When you do that, some of your edits will add new information to Wikipedia as a means of improving Wikipedia. But that addition will have been a tactic for satisfying your terminal goal of improving the encyclopedia, not a direct attempt at satisfying your terminal goal of having this information be in the encyclopedia. The community can tell the difference.

                        By analogy: a small farming village has a commons. Someone who grazes their cows on the commons, then sells the milk and meat to the townsfolk, is just participating in the economy, and the townsfolk are fine with that. Someone who herds their cows in from the next town over, grazes the cows on the commons, and then herds the cows back home—and never otherwise interacts with the community? Not okay. That's sociopathic behavior. They're not a member of the community; they're just taking advantage of it for their personal benefit.

                        Wikipedia's editors are smart enough to recognize what someone looks like when they're just trying to take advantage of Wikipedia for their own (PR) benefit. The edits might be the same, either way (just as both farmers above graze their cows in the commons in the same way, either way); it's the context that determines whether the edits are acceptable.

              • tptacek 102 days ago

                WP:V specifically cites press releases as self-published sources, which aren't verifiable.

                • derefr 102 days ago

                  True. However, there's a duality to the citation of press releases.

                  There's the skeezy usage of them—citing the marketing claims as truth. (I totally forgot about the possibility of this usage, honestly.) Yes, nobody will let you get away with that.

                  But there's also the more literal way to cite a press release: as a primary-source claim by the company about what the company is doing or planning to do, like the group equivalent of a diary.

                  Obviously unacceptable: "Apple's new iPhone is the best ever!![citation to PR fluff-piece]"

                  Acceptable, I think: "Apple issued[https://www.apple.com/ca/newsroom/2017/06/imac-pro-most-powe...] an interrim press release on June 5th, 2017, claiming that they were working toward the release of a new "Pro" iMac model, as a supplement to professional users who are waiting for the next generation of the "Mac Pro" product line, which they mentioned as having been delayed."

                  It's a use/mention distinction thing. It's not okay to report the press release's claims at face-value, but it's okay to treat the press release as a primary source of information on the corporation's intentions, beliefs, claims, and assertions. It'd be similar to, say, citing the primary-source of a letter(s?) patent, as a source of information of a head-of-state's intentions, beliefs, claims, and assertions.

                  Or, to put that another way: any claims a PR piece might make are unverifiable, but the mention of the claim is itself verifiable—you can verify that the claim is right there in the PR piece, and you can verify that the PR department of the relevant company really did publish it, and thereby you can verify that the company is in fact making that claim... which can be an important thing to have in an article about them all on its own.

              • ilamont 102 days ago

                Rejected because I'm not a computer magazine available in archive.org.

                The irony here is so many of the citable articles aren't the result of some gumshoe reporter searching for "the truth" by sifting through facts and conducting independent research and interviews. They start with a press release or PR pitch. This is especially true of tech coverage.

                There was a flurry of articles late last year about astronauts on the space station treating a robot poorly. Guess where that story came from? The IBM Watson communications team! Now that the story has been "reported" on CNET, The Verge, ABC News, etc., it can be now be cited in Wikipedia articles.

                It's the same with arts coverage (the New York Times supplements on Sunday are particularly obvious), political interviews, business profiles, and reporting about science and medicine. Not all of this news is planted or shaped by PR teams ("you can have access to X as long as you mention Y") but a lot of it is.

                • tptacek 102 days ago

                  Technically, press releases can't be used on WP as reliable sources; they fall afoul of WP:SPS, right?

                  • ilamont 102 days ago

                    That's right. But because the details from the press release or PR pitch is embedded in a news story -- and no reporter or editor would admit that the story was based on a press release or PR pitch -- it's seldom detected. Wikipedia editor sees "ABC News" or "NY Times" as the source, so it gets a pass.

                • dboreham 102 days ago

                  Same here. I gave up after having a series of very innocuous simple edits rejected due to "no external source cited". These were things like "the protocol commonly used between carriers for xxxx things is ISO-yyyy". I forget the details, but it was like "ffs, that was a one-line edit that made the page significantly more useful to potential readers, and its a fact not in dispute by anybody".

                  • PhasmaFelis 102 days ago

                    I can see the argument that they want sources people can check and evaluate for themselves. You're a legitimate expert, but anyone with a bit of sense can claim to be an expert and appear just as credible to a layman. Faking a credible secondary source is not impossible, but it is difficult--a "news" site that opened three months ago and only has articles on subjects linked to Wikipedia sources is pretty obviously fake.

                    I wonder if there's some sort of happy medium. Maybe a thing where legit experts can submit credentials to be cleared by the moderators, the way Reddit verifies identities for AMAs. You'd still be expected to source everything you can, but eyewitness details could be sourced to your verified credentials. (Which could then be re-reviewed en masse if you start posting bullshit later on.)

                    • NeedMoreTea 102 days ago

                      An argument that easily breaks an encyclopedia or anything intending to be an authoritative source. Or even a worthy source. It's why you frequently bump into articles that go against memory of anyone living in that phase of history, at the company etc. Or entirely misses out the once famous controversy as evidenced by some 15 year old personal or blogspot site. Yet Wikipedia does it when there's no choice, because all sources are really old books and offline.

                      Case in point. A story cropped up on HN a month or two back about S Wolfram being obsessional about recording something. No surprises there, but I happened to wander to Wikipedia and there is not the briefest mention of his suing + screwing everyone who worked or collaborated with him making Mathematica. Apparently that didn't happen. At all.

                      Sure it wasn't quite SCO vs IBM, but it was well known enough in N England during the 90s that it will forever be my association if someone mentions him, and there was occasional office banter off the back of it. "Wolfram? Who's he suing now, the office cat?" That's because it was in Computer Weekly, PCW, or the hundreds of other paper sources every other issue. On Wikipedia it has been whitewashed from existence, or perhaps never made it in the first place.

                      • PhasmaFelis 102 days ago

                        > That's because it was in Computer Weekly, PCW, or the hundreds of other paper sources every other issue. On Wikipedia it has been whitewashed from existence, or perhaps never made it in the first place.

                        That sounds like it might be an editor failure as much as a policy failure, perhaps? Valuable information that exists only in peoples' heads is a real failure point for Wikipedia, but well-documented info that no one has bothered digging up the sources for is not.

                        Or if you're saying that it was removed by some PR flack, that's also a real problem, but Wikipedia does have mechanisms to deal with it. If you watch an article and can demonstrate that true, relevant, well-sourced facts are being removed, you can get the article protected. It's extra work on your part, and that sucks, but I can't think of a better way to deal with disagreement in a crowdsourced encyclopedia.

                    • tptacek 102 days ago

                      That's also exactly why I stopped contributing. But I didn't walk away thinking Wikipedia was dysfunctional, just that I wasn't a good fit for what the project was trying to do.

                    • CM30 102 days ago

                      Wikipedia's credibility/realiable source rules in general are problematic to be honest. Not just for the secondary source thing mentioned, but because Wikipedia's standards for such are disconnected from how things work in the internet era. Their idea about a credible source seems to mostly be 'mainstream media publication with paid staff going by real names/with photos next to their names and a fancy layout'.

                      But many reliable sources now are not like that. The internet has made it so people don't need to go through middlemen to publish any more, and in a lot of cases (especially more niche ones), credible sites can be solo affairs by enthusiasts and professors without much in the way of obvious visual design or 'professionalism'.

                      If Wikipedia was a bit more up to date, they'd recognise that, and base credibility more on the reputation of the source rather than whether their author was paid to create it or if it comes to from CNN or the New York Times.

                      They'd also look at whether other sources recognise it as a source. If half the gaming or film world consider Bob's blog an accurate source, that probably means more than whether Bob is paid $30,000 a year by Empire to write about films.

                      Wiki's model would have been fine in the world of gatekeepers and centralised media, but kinda falls apart in a world where credibility is earned rather than given by random branding prestige.

                    • cf141q5325 102 days ago

                      A big problem is also that Wikipedia doesnt get rid of contributors pushing a bias and sabotaging wikipedia pages. Jörg Matthias Claudius Grünewald "Feliks" is just a rather prominent example in the German Wikipedia.

                      • jgtrosh 102 days ago

                        I suppose an argument against banning such profiles is that it's easier to spot a consistently bad actor than to try to play whack-a-mole with new profiles.

                        • mikorym 102 days ago

                          > Jörg Matthias Claudius Grünewald "Feliks" is just a rather prominent example

                          Could you elaborate?

                          • Semaphor 102 days ago

                            I googled the name, all sources I could find are German, most seem to be from the conspiracy theory and right wing area.

                            He's apparently an editor who used to be anonymous, converted to judaism and is said to behave manipulatively. But as I said, can't really find reliable information.

                            • cf141q5325 102 days ago

                              The far right had to suffer the most, but there are also plenty of left wing politicians who had to suffer from his "manipulation". There was a great article about it at nachdenkseiten but they deleted it. No wonder since he sued anyone mentioning him.


                              edit: To give an example, he deleted any mention on human rights violations in Facility 1391 with the argument, that Israel investigated the reports and found no evidence of any wrongdoing. Thats still where the page is today, different to the english version. For other individuals, like Nirit Sommerfeld he altered their Wikipedia page to push them into antisemetic corners.

                              • Semaphor 102 days ago

                                Why is this downvoted? The nachdenkseiten article has a lot of information and is certainly a better source than what I could find.

                                • mg794613 102 days ago

                                  I wonder the same. There is nothing in this post to down vote BUT disagreement. Which brings me to another point;has HN acquired so much weight, thatbots are now also here to manipulate informations streams?

                                  • NeedMoreTea 102 days ago

                                    It certainly feels that way sometimes, or HNers are just as susceptible as everyone else to the polarisation that seems to affect everything today.

                        • simias 102 days ago

                          The discussion about "bias" and perceived "neutrality" is one that I see ten times a day on the internet and it truly baffles me. When it comes to hard sciences it makes a certain amount of sense but as soon as you enter any kind of social or political subject then good luck finding the "neutral" point of view. And even if you actually manage to find it somehow that won't stop people on either side of the issue to say that you're biased.

                          As such arguing about Wikipedia's biases is a waste of time. For instance I see people in this thread who seem to argue that qualifying GamerGate as a harassment campaign is biased, personally I think it's a fairly accurate description of the movement. Am I wrong? Maybe, but good luck settling that. Ditto with, say, anything regarding the Venezuelan situation, Donald Trump etc... Look at the discussion thread for Wikipedia articles about subjects like astrology, homeopathy, climate change or the holocaust and you'll find people with fringe opinions accusing Wikipedia of bias.

                          I think the most important factor is not this absurd concept of neutrality, what matters is honesty. Are the authors deliberately trying to hide or misrepresent some of the facts in order to push a narrative? Are they genuinely trying to inform or do they have ulterior motives?

                          Clearly paying an editor to whitewash an article is not honest so that's a big problem for me.

                          • sandworm101 102 days ago

                            Because in a post-truth world the person who controls wikipedia controls reality. Those fringe opinions can and do become true. Whether they are actually true in the past is irrelevant. If you can keep it on Wikipedia long enough people will act on it as if it were true.

                            Just look at what happened when wikipedia updated Pi to be 3.14159265358. Within weeks it started appearing in scientific papers. I'd bet good money that spaceX is using that number to launch spacecraft. Whether that is the true value of Pi is irrelevant. The wikipedia collective has decreed that that number and so it is now our scientific truth.

                            • shortoncash 102 days ago

                              I agree with you in principle. I'll add that we've been in a post-truth world since mass media, long before internet use became mainstream. We shouldn't act like this is a new problem just because people got comfortable with the way the previous information-overlords managed to do things.

                            • duxup 102 days ago


                              One of the most frustrating things I see about "bias" is how often folks bring it up.... when they just want the voice's in their head to be the headline, body of an article, or whatever.

                              That's not really about bias... well it is, but maybe not the way they think.

                            • mikorym 102 days ago

                              This may be true.

                              But I use wikipedia for mathematics and then things like geography and history. For the former, it works very well. For the latter two it seems like it's not too bad.

                              • electriclove 102 days ago

                                Though many times subtle, history is often misrepresented in Wikipedia and definitely has a bias.

                                • adrianratnapala 102 days ago

                                  Sadly, there is no substitute for careful reading. History books will always be subtly representing the historians biases, even as the present a lot of detailed facts.

                                  The Wikipedia is no different. But it still allows the interested-amateur to do a breadth-first study of a topic without drilling down into a whole book. In both cases, the reader can't assume that she has seen an unbiased (whatever that means) story. But she can glean enough facts to be less ignorant about the topic than before.

                                • oefrha 102 days ago

                                  Mathematics on Wikipedia is top notch (my training was in mathematics so I can say this with a high level of certainty), but mathematics is hardly controversial. Not surprisingly, the more controversial the topic, the more biased Wikipedia gets. Try to look up any controversial political topic, current or historical, in most cases the objectivity and comprehensiveness of articles are highly questionable.

                                  Also, you would hardly ever see edit wars on math topics, but they happen all the time on politics.

                                  • scriptkiddy 102 days ago

                                    Any online resources you could recommend to someone looking to learn some higher level math? The highest I ever got in school was the beginnings of Calculus and I'd like to dig a little deeper. However, I keep running into the issue of not really understanding all of the Greek symbology.

                                    • mikorym 100 days ago

                                      My recommendation would be to pick a topic that you want to understand better, then I could offer to point you to that topic in a way that stems from my own work / my training set for maths.

                                  • ouid 102 days ago

                                    the mathematics on wikipedia is very often correct, but very infrequently easy to read.

                                  • _Codemonkeyism 102 days ago

                                    Basically every history article is heavily biased, just compare the different language versions.

                                    • dragonwriter 102 days ago

                                      > Basically every history article is heavily biased

                                      This is true, and It's a problem, but it's not a particular problem of Wikipedia; it's pretty much true of history in general.

                                      • adrianratnapala 102 days ago

                                        And Wikipedia makes it relatively easy to do tricks like compare the different language versions.

                                      • Balgair 102 days ago

                                        And not just in the vein of the target language's politics. It's subtle, yet permissive.

                                        For example: if you look at Japanese history[0], many of the atrocities[1] that were committed in the lead up to WW2 are outright omitted, linked to with less frequency that you'd expect, or downplayed. At least, as far as I think they should be included.

                                        I'm not claiming to have a PhD in Japanese history, but I know a small bit about it, and it seems to me (and I can only speak for myself) that there is a distinct lack of 'bad' stuff about Japanese History in the English language Wikipedia.

                                        [0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Japanese_history

                                        [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanjing_Massacre

                                        • umanwizard 102 days ago

                                          During the height of the recent Spanish constitutional crisis, the amount of difference (in content and tone) between the English, Spanish, and Catalan versions of the same pages was flabbergasting.

                                          • gabbygab 102 days ago

                                            Pretty much every political or corporate sensitive topic has heavy bias. Even biology related topics are subject to external pressure from journalists, politicians and activists. There have been huge fights over how fetus, gender, sex, etc are defined on wikipedia.

                                            And it isn't just wikipedia, it's all of social media and pretty much all of the internet. From silly nonsense like movie reviews to serious matter like war footage, if it has political or financial impact, it is subject to heavy censorship and bias.

                                            • tim333 102 days ago

                                              Not just the internet but human culture throughout history basically.

                                              • tivert 102 days ago

                                                > Even biology related topics are subject to external pressure from journalists, politicians and activists.

                                                One of these things is not like the other...

                                                • umvi 102 days ago

                                                  Reminds me of when Bradley Manning's wiki page turned to Chelsea Manning within seconds of the announcement. It was unreal. It was like there were an army of activists ready to pounce as soon as the announcement was made and the article was quickly locked.

                                                  I've seen other, more important, news take much longer to update (hours) on their main pages.

                                                  • tim333 102 days ago

                                                    The way Wikipedia works you don't need an army of activists - just one enthusiast to edit it. The important news probably took longer because no one was very interested. That's how it works with volunteers.

                                                    • andrepd 102 days ago

                                                      Running s/Bradley/Chelsea and s/he/she probably takes significantly less effort than writing on the latest news.

                                                • snvzz 102 days ago

                                                  >wikipedia bias

                                                  A favorite example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamergate_controversy

                                                  • taneq 102 days ago

                                                    I mostly stayed away from Gamergate but the little I did see of it convinced me that both sides were awful and that staying away was the only sane choice.

                                                    • CedarMadness 102 days ago

                                                      The fact that it's still impossible to discuss it without someone resorting to personal attacks indicates that this was the right decision.

                                                      • triplewipeass 102 days ago

                                                        It’s best to stay away from broadly controversial topics that attract masses of non-experts. These people have no idea what reasoned debate is all about, so there’s no point in subjecting oneself to such an assault.

                                                    • throwawaymath 102 days ago

                                                      Is there a way for you to quickly explain where/what the bias is, for people who have no idea what Gamergate is?

                                                      • DuskStar 102 days ago

                                                        I think that the KnowYourMeme article [0] is the closest thing to "favorable to gamergate + moderately unbiased" I've read. And while I do think it leaves out some of the horrible behavior on GG's side, at least it doesn't try to paint the media as being composed entirely of angels.

                                                        0: https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/gamergate

                                                        • duxup 102 days ago

                                                          I feel like that is accurate to a point, but really doesn't accurately portray the /r/KotakuinAction and similar groups views. There's a very strong undercurrent of sexism and strange politics that played into it all from the very start. The "ethics" questions very much took a back seat as far as their actions as group in favor of a sort of reactionary response to social justice moments, women in staring roles in a game or movie, just about anything they could grab onto. Even things like a game not receiving a "score" that they disagreed with... They were big on memes about women with colored hair, harassment campaigns on twitter (and awkward / faked claims they were harassed), and so on, entirely disconnected from any "ethics" concern.

                                                          The fact that it was rooted in claims about a woman cheating on a man is no coincidence.

                                                          I appreciate that sites effort to remain neutral but I think at some point if a group's actions and behavior don't match their claims... then just reporting their stated motivation is actually inaccurate.

                                                          • belorn 102 days ago

                                                            The one thing I am missing from that summary is a mentioning of what happen when John Bain died of cancer several years later. Several anti-GG people celebrated the death days after it was announced, which in the context of all that was said and done around GG was to me one of the worst behavior anyone committed.

                                                            The only good thing is that companies has been less acceptable for such behavior. One developer from bioware got fired for it, and it likely contributed when an other developer at Anet got fired.

                                                            • duxup 102 days ago

                                                              I'm gonna say something that everyone uses to dismiss extremist views... and say I'm not going to try to do that.

                                                              I think that behavior was terrible, but also not really generally the views of folks who might be associated with "anti-GG".

                                                              Having said that...

                                                              One of the catches is that there wasn't an organized "anti-GG" side in the same sense there was a "GG" core group. To some extent the "GG" folks were the ones who defined who the "anti-GG" people were, and they strongly believed that there was an "anti-GG" group that behaved in the exact same way they did, but I don't think that really added up. Sometimes they defined an "anti-gg" person as just someone who gave a poor review to a game they liked, a woman who had a visible role working for a gaming company, or just liked having a female protagonist, or something pretty disconnected.

                                                              Most people that GG folks associated with "aniti-GG", really was more of an amalgam of various people and personalities who had various views .... but weren't centralized on a "anti-GG" identity, they were usually people associated with other things that had nothing to do with "video game journalism ethics". There effectively wasn't really an equivalent ying to the yang as far as groups and opposing views went. Certainly people "against" GG, but usually they were tied to other things too.

                                                              What was "anti-GG" didn't even have anything to do with "video game journalism ethics" and to some extent GG found these folks views or what have you unacceptable and sort formed that concept. "Anti-GG" was often a case of who "GG" thought they were and at times simply sought them out. Like I said no doubt some folks associated themselves with "anti-GG" but it wasn't quite a ying and yang. Many of the people initially identified as "anti-GG" by "GG" folks often talked about being against online harassment, and really had no clue what GG was until things grew quickly.

                                                              I feel like this process of taking an issue, expanding into an identity and tacking on ideas, then seeking out those views and people deemed unacceptable, and in some way trying to pick a sort of social media fight, is a very common thing with identity politics type behavior, and GG certainly fit that pattern. What was or wasn't "anti-GG" largely was defined by that process.

                                                              • belorn 102 days ago

                                                                The definition of anti-GG that I used was basically people who celebrated John Bane and justified it by claiming john bane supported GG.

                                                                Not that John bane did that, as can be heard in the linked source in the above article, where he even address the same thing you say in that there were not an organized anti-gg. He describe basically three loose groups, those that harass which he think should be frozen out of the conversation, those reacted to those and "fed the trolls", and the third small category of people who simply wanted to discuss game ethics.

                                                                To be fair the discussion of game ethics was drowned out, through I think the same thing he said said back then is still very relevant today. We still have game reviewers that get punished by publishers and put on "black lists" if they give a game a bad review, or worse get takedown notices. We also got PC game reviewer like ACG using the ethical dilemma as the premise why patreon supported game reviews are better than those that get "sponsored" by the industry, which he start and finish every single video with...

                                                                But to go back, yes. There wasn't an organized "anti-GG" side. If I had remembered that part of the discussion I would had avoided using the word and instead spelled out what I meant.

                                                                • dangerface 102 days ago

                                                                  When people talk about anti-GG they are talking about centralised groups of game journalists like the GameJournoPros private chat where video game journalists discussed and organised how to handle GG. This was after the journalists in that chat released articles with a similar gamers are dead narrative.

                                                                  Heres my evidence: http://www.deepfreeze.it/article.php?a=gjp

                                                                  These are all substantiated facts that prove you wrong, I don't care that you are wrong for all I know you are a bot. But I wanted to show how to make an argument in good faith and substantiate your claims, it's up to you what you do with that.

                                                                  • jakelazaroff 102 days ago

                                                                    To anyone who might view the above as an objective or credible source: it's written by people in the GamerGate movement, and substantiates many of its assertions with links to Breitbart and r/KotakuInAction, among others.

                                                                • dangerface 102 days ago

                                                                  Both GG people and anti-GG people where harassed, received death threats, bomb scares and even physically attacked.

                                                                  Both sides used this to try and play the bigger victim. This a bad argument as the counter is just to mirror it, playing up your own victim hood while down playing the others. No truth can be gained from this argument only a fight in bad faith.

                                                                  • belorn 102 days ago

                                                                    The reason I brought it up is that the knowyourmeme.com does not cover the celebration when a cancer victim died, but it does cover the harassment, death threats and bomb threats. No physical attacks however, and I never heard of that so I would actually be interested to hear more about that part.

                                                                    As a side not however, I personally treat anonymous threats a bit different from statements which is done with peoples real name next to the logo of the game studio that they work at. In part because here in Sweden we have a reality show which premise is to locate people behind anonymous threats and shame them, while also provide free lawyers to those few victims that get to be on the show in order to file civil suits. The accused troll is always either regretful or deny the accusation.

                                                                    In contrast the people who celebrate the death of John Bane do not regret the statement nor deny it. They think they are justified in their behavior. To me that is significant.

                                                                • dangerface 102 days ago

                                                                  > harassment campaigns on twitter (and awkward / faked claims they were harassed)

                                                                  That /r/kotakuinaction organised harassment campaigns and that they faked harassment claims is a pretty harmful accusation, care to back it up with some evidence?

                                                                  • duxup 102 days ago

                                                                    No I don't care to. It is a fact, they even organized it on that subreddit... it was out in the open at the time it occurred. Anyone who read that sub at that time had a chance to see them explicitly discuss and organize it.

                                                                    Gamergate is really a topic that folks who want to belive are going to belive, and no amount of linking is going to change anyone's mind. You literally had folks posting their tweets from their account(s) and then if things went bad that same user would claim that same twitter account was a fake account someone else made to make them look bad.

                                                                    It's just one of those things that I found not to be worth getting into a googling / link fight about, just as a personal policy.

                                                                    People can make of that what they will / not belive me, but it not worth linking to it as I find folks will belive what they're going to belive anyway.

                                                                    • DuskStar 102 days ago

                                                                      Also as personal policy, when someone asserts something, is asked for evidence, and then comes back with "it's really well known and I'm not going to provide evidence for it", I assume that means they looked for evidence and couldn't find any. Lots of things are commonly known in a subgroup despite having no primary sources.

                                                                      That may not be the case here, but it's a better policy than taking things on faith in my opinion.

                                                                      • duxup 102 days ago

                                                                        I understand and respect that.

                                                                      • dangerface 102 days ago

                                                                        If you can't or wont back up your claim then its unsubstantiated not fact.

                                                                        > Gamergate is really a topic that folks who want to belive are going to belive, and no amount of linking is going to change anyone's mind.

                                                                        Another opinion I don't share. I would rather give people the opportunity to prove me wrong so that I can have the benefit of changing my mind and being right.

                                                                        I hope you enjoy your beliefs.

                                                                        • duxup 102 days ago

                                                                          I can say the sky is blue and not link to anything that says so... it's still a fact.

                                                                          I can understand someone who doesn't know not believing me, that's understandable and I respect that.

                                                                      • scatters 102 days ago

                                                                        A harmful accusation? To a hate subreddit? Surely you jest.

                                                                      • aisengard 102 days ago

                                                                        The "ethics in game journalism" was basically a weaselword for what they really wanted - women out of gaming. It's a lot like how "economic anxiety" elected Trump - it's a way to excuse people's inexcusable attitudes towards others.

                                                                        • duxup 102 days ago

                                                                          Yeah it grew very fast, and pivoted really fast to be a sort of identity thing.

                                                                          What is strange is that even for a while on their main gathering forums ... they denied even the source of the moment being the post about Zoe Quinn. It was a very fluid movement from the start, hate, us vs them, and other identity moments allow for that.

                                                                        • baud147258 102 days ago

                                                                          > The fact that it was rooted in claims about a woman cheating on a man

                                                                          A woman cheating with a game journalist in exchange for positive coverage on her game.

                                                                          GG 'supporters' will also point to collusion/cooperation (perceived or real) between many game journalists pushing a progressive agenda

                                                                      • mfoy_ 102 days ago

                                                                        I'm confused, isn't "Gamergate" like "Watergate"? How can you be on Gamergate's "side"?

                                                                        That's like... are you on Watergate's side?

                                                                        • dragonwriter 102 days ago

                                                                          > I'm confused, isn't "Gamergate" like "Watergate"?

                                                                          No, not really, but...

                                                                          > That's like... are you on Watergate's side?

                                                                          There were people on (the) Watergate (break-in)’s side. There are still, oddly enough, people proudly on that side (Roger Stone, for instance.)

                                                                          Anyhow, since the Watergate scandal, naming things “-gate” to evoke Watergate and the widespread (though not universal) revulsion is common by opposing activists, but just because the name sticks doesn't mean the association does.

                                                                          • DuskStar 102 days ago

                                                                            This is a comment chain from someone saying that the Wikipedia Gamergate article is horribly biased...

                                                                            Edit: I think I misunderstood the parent. To be on GG's 'side' in this sense would be to be a gamer who believes that games journalism should abide by some basic ethical standards and/or be a horrible mysoginist who hates the idea of female characters and catering to people besides straight white men, depending on who you ask.

                                                                            • Asooka 102 days ago

                                                                              GG is a pretty heavy case of an "if by whiskey" argument from all sides (I don't want to say both, because it feels like there's a lot of sides there), and it's been blown up to horrific proportions in the politics of entertainment scene.

                                                                              I recall Stallman's remark that even if you're not interested in politics, politics is interested in you, but it looks more and more like there's nothing you can do to meaningfully and safely interact with the zeitgeist, so why the hell would you try to be part of any kind of politics. It feels more like a force of nature than an actual human activity. More like a tornado than a debate of any sort - just close your doors and windows, keep quiet and hope it's not your house that gets destroyed.

                                                                            • calimac 102 days ago

                                                                              Did you learn about watergate via Wikipedia?

                                                                          • tim333 102 days ago

                                                                            Yeah I'm puzzled too. I think it's along the line of sexist racist trolls attacking women for being into gaming then wikipedia being against sexist trolling?

                                                                            • Xelynega 102 days ago

                                                                              From what I understand the bias is that the Wikipedia article describes the controversy as "targeted harassment" with a side note of ethics in video game journals, even though there is a case to be made that the gamergate hashtag was started to point out unethical practices in game journalism which the accused took as harassment to save face.

                                                                              • untog 102 days ago

                                                                                Is there a case to be made there?

                                                                                "The accused took as harassment" implies that there was no harassing intent and... there's just no way that's true. People like Zoe Quinn were absolutely harassed, I don't see how anyone could argue otherwise. Even the original incident that sparked the whole controversy was bunk: that Zoe Quinn got a favorable review from a journalist because she was sleeping with him. He never even reviewed her game!

                                                                                If Gamergate wanted to point out unethical practises in game journalism then holy hell was there a lot to work with. "Exclusive" reviews that are always positive, "sneak peeks" and so on that are openly and obviously traded for positive coverage. Video games journalism is so far deeply in bed with the major publishers in the industry it covers that it's absurd. But somehow, Gamergate became all about a small number of independent game developers who just happened to be women, and were (indisputably) the victims of harassment, rape threats and doxxing. Weird, that.

                                                                                • jasonwatkinspdx 102 days ago

                                                                                  No. This is preposterous. I ended up on gamergate's hate list and they dumped so much filth into my reddit inbox I deleted my account and never looked back. And I'm a total nobody.

                                                                                  The harassment from the core GG folks was systematic and severe. In several cases it escalated to physical stalking of women where the police became involved.

                                                                                  And should we be surprised? This whole thing got started when one angry ex boyfriend wrote a rant and got the whole 4chan gaming world to start harassing and demonizing his ex.

                                                                                  But sure, go ahead and keep claiming "it's about ethics in gaming journalism" and that there's no harassment, just people being too sensitive or faking it.

                                                                                  Utterly. Preposterous.

                                                                                  • makomk 102 days ago

                                                                                    Also, back when GamerGate was actually relevant, the article was very heavily controlled by someone who liked to track down the social media accounts of editors who disagreed with him, harass them off-site over it, and then accuse them of violating Wikipedia rules and threaten to get them banned if they complained about it on Wikipedia. I think he even managed to get a few of the people he'd harassed banned. Previously he'd done it over things like his personal interpretations of obscure anime plot points, and he brought those tactics to fighting against GamerGate.

                                                                                    To be fair, ArbCom did eventually decide they'd had enough and indefinitely ban him for this - much to the anger of all the folks proudly taking a stand against harassment by fighting GamerGate. (Though it took something like three attempts at bringing it before ArbCom.)

                                                                                    • srpablo 102 days ago

                                                                                      A common fallacy is "if there are two strongly opposing sides, the answer is probably somewhere in the middle" and the related "if there's two strongly opposing sides, there are ways in which they're both right."

                                                                                      But, this is a fallacy. Vaccines don't cause autism, the Earth isn't even a little flat, and GG wasn't in any way "about" ethics in games journalism — some people were led to believe it was, but they were useful idiots who were purposefully corralled to create a smokescreen. So I'd argue strongly against claims that the Wikipedia page is "biased" if it doesn't mention the ethics storyline. e.g.

                                                                                      notice the lack of cultural hell during "Gerstmanngate" — https://kotaku.com/yes-a-games-writer-was-fired-over-review-...

                                                                                      Or how the "sex for good reviews" accusation was about a game that never received a review from that publication

                                                                                      Or the chat logs that were found of the channers who worked the whole thing — https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/zoe-quinn-outs-4chan-behind-...

                                                                                      It's understandable, for parties with less information, to think this was more balanced than it was, but I hope with appropriate information we could stop giving that side credibility.

                                                                                      A great comic illustrating the dynamic http://chainsawsuit.com/comic/2014/10/15/the-perfect-crime/

                                                                                      • a1369209993 102 days ago

                                                                                        > the Earth isn't even a little flat

                                                                                        Well, actually, it is a little flat. In fact it's quite flat; it has curvature (inverse radius) less than 1.6e-7 (0.00000016) per meter. In other words, it takes about 70 miles for it deviate from 'flat' by one degree.

                                                                                        (Golden mean is a fallacy, but that's not a very good example of it's fallacity.)

                                                                                  • snvzz 102 days ago

                                                                                    For gamergate's own view:


                                                                                    To be clear: This is not an endorsement. This is provided only because of the stark contrast with the wikipedia article depiction.

                                                                                    • ceejayoz 102 days ago

                                                                                      Gamergate's "own view" isn't necessarily of any more value than a flat earther's view on the Earth article.

                                                                                      Wikipedia's goal (met or not) is accuracy, not equal time to every opinion.

                                                                                  • ihuman 102 days ago

                                                                                    I think thats the first time I've seen the "Extended confirmed protection" lock.

                                                                                    > Extended confirmed protection, also known as 30/500 protection, allows edits only by editors with the extended confirmed user access level, granted automatically to registered users with at least 30 days tenure and 500 edits.

                                                                                    • 99052882514569 102 days ago

                                                                                      I understand why they did this. If someone disagrees and thinks it's "biased" to do this, they need to either present their alternative to keeping spam and edit wars in check, or have their 'bias' criticism summarily dismissed.

                                                                                      • tim333 102 days ago

                                                                                        They have that on the Donald Trump page also. I guess controversial stuff.

                                                                                        • Geimfari 102 days ago

                                                                                          Not necessarily controversial, but articles that see an endless stream of disruptive editing.

                                                                                          It was originally implemented to limit disruption on articles related to the Isreal/Palestine conflict.

                                                                                      • dEnigma 102 days ago

                                                                                        I only have read the abstract so far, but it seems to me to be written pretty objectively. Could you maybe point out some parts that you feel are examples of bias?

                                                                                        • snvzz 102 days ago

                                                                                          It's actually limited to the anti-gamergate narrative. It sounds legit, because it's written in an authoritative tone, with large walls of text full of links to anti-gamergate sources.

                                                                                          It's worth seeing how gamergate describes itself. The "what is gamergate" column on the sidebar of a subreddit where they hang out[0] might help there. Do note that I do provide the hyperlink, but I do not endorse either front.

                                                                                          [0]: https://old.reddit.com/r/KotakuInAction/

                                                                                          • untog 102 days ago

                                                                                            It's worth seeing how GamerGate describes itself... then looking at the top posts of the last month on KotakuInAction. They are not similar.

                                                                                            • malvosenior 102 days ago


                                                                                              Those posts are almost exclusively about media bias, manipulation and censorship. Isn't that what GamerGate claims to be about?

                                                                                              • untog 102 days ago

                                                                                                A large number of them are about Captain Marvel. What do you suppose it is about that particular movie that would lead to such outrage?

                                                                                                In the top ten, precisely one item (number ten) is about video games.

                                                                                                • malvosenior 102 days ago

                                                                                                  You can read the posts themselves to see what they are complaining about. Movie studios drummed up fake outrage about people being angry about a woman superhero when such controversy never existed. Then they took all the negative reviews of Captian Marvel and blamed them on misogyny. They also got Rotton Tomatoes and other platforms to lock user reviews. This is all classic GamerGate stuff I think.

                                                                                                  GamerGate is about more than video games, it's about media manipulation and bias and it's about journalists acting like activists.

                                                                                                  • untog 102 days ago

                                                                                                    Where's the evidence that the movie studios "drummed up fake outrage"?

                                                                                                    Also if I recall correctly Rotten Tomatoes removed the ability to submit a review for a movie that hasn't been released yet, which to my mind seems like an entirely sensible restriction, particularly in the face of the obvious spamming that was going on. It seems to me like RT made a product decision relating to what best serves their users. What's the argument against it?

                                                                                                    • ceejayoz 102 days ago

                                                                                                      > They also got Rotton Tomatoes and other platforms to lock user reviews.

                                                                                                      This is silly. They locked out reviews being placed before the movie was released in theaters, because the rating was being deliberately bombed towards the single digits by people who can't possibly have seen the movie.

                                                                                                      • malvosenior 102 days ago

                                                                                                        This is true but the reason people were upset and leaving negative reviews is because the studios and media had already created a fake outrage and stoked political tensions for marketing reasons. That is what people were upset about, not that the movie had a female lead.

                                                                                                        • untog 102 days ago

                                                                                                          > “You could not pay me to see this SJW laden white male hating worthless POS movie,” commented one user. “I am sick of this identity politics taking over pop culture. Brie Larson could get hit by a bus and I would not shed a tear.”


                                                                                                          Does that review sound like someone who is upset with a movie studio because they created fake outrage, or someone who is upset about a movie's female lead?

                                                                                                          Plenty more examples: https://twitter.com/camethedawnxp/status/1097593187621842945

                                                                                                          • malvosenior 102 days ago

                                                                                                            It sounds like someone upset with the politics pushed by the movie since that’s literally what they are complaining about.

                                                                                                            • ceejayoz 102 days ago

                                                                                                              How could the reviewers know the "politics pushed by the movie" prior to having seen it? What are the politics pushed by the Captain Marvel movie? Can you point to specific scenes/themes that are "white male hating"?

                                                                                                              • astura 102 days ago

                                                                                                                How could they know the politics pushed by a movie they haven't seen?

                                                                                              • makomk 102 days ago

                                                                                                By the Wikipedia definition their Gamergate article probably is fairly objective, which makes it a bad example. They base their coverage on what news media report, and the news reporting on it was not exactly accurate or honest (which seems to be what you get for going against journalists).

                                                                                                For instance, gaming and tech publications spent a lot of words trying to associate Gamergate with the use of swatting to drive women out of gaming. This caused much confusion as to what they were even talking about, because pretty much all the swatting attacks against gamers had been targetted at guys as far as anyone knew. A few years later, some guy with (as far as I know) no ties to Gamergate that anyone's been able to find was arrested for a series of rather misogynistic swatting attacks against women gamers that the press had known about but intentionally hadn't covered. They'd literally been trying to blame Gamergate for a swatting campaign that none of the people they were blaming could even have known existed because the only coverage was the vague and cryptic attempts to blame a completely unrelated group of people who'd criticised journalists for it.

                                                                                              • botanrice 102 days ago

                                                                                                What is showing bias in this? I don't know much of that controversy so I don't know what I should be looking for.

                                                                                                • fvjft 102 days ago

                                                                                                  What's wrong with that one? I don't want to read it and I don't follow silly Twitter drama.

                                                                                                  • tomp 102 days ago

                                                                                                    Same here. I refuse to donate any money to Wikipedia until they at least fix that one...

                                                                                                    • tux1968 102 days ago

                                                                                                      Could you give a suggestion on how to improve that Article?

                                                                                                      • tomp 102 days ago

                                                                                                        It should be neutral, and/or jnclude the pro-GG view, not just the anti-GG view. A few concrete points: (1) there was extreme harassment from both sides; (2) targeted harassment against some women doesn’t mean “mysoginy” (just like targeted harassment against Hitler doesn’t mean “misandry”); (3) the overarching theme isn’t “right-wing reaction against progressivism”, but a reaction against feminist politically-correct politics that started to affect the gaming world (that was previously happily genderless, offensive and agenda-free).

                                                                                                        • ceejayoz 102 days ago

                                                                                                          Expanding that beyond GG for a moment...

                                                                                                          Does every Wikipedia article have to include both pro- and anti- views? Do they need to be given equal weight?

                                                                                                          • tomp 102 days ago

                                                                                                            That’s what I would expect from a generic (as opposed to clearly biased in the title, like “Christian view on creation of man” or something) encyclopaedic article on a topic, yes.

                                                                                                            • ceejayoz 102 days ago

                                                                                                              So the Earth article should give equal time to flat-Earthers, the Apollo moon landings should devote 50% to the "it was faked" idea, and Queen Elizabeth II's page should talk about her being a lizard person?

                                                                                                              I think I'd prefer a useful encyclopedia.

                                                                                                              • tomp 102 days ago

                                                                                                                No, but the “Moon landing controversy” article should.

                                                                                                                • ceejayoz 102 days ago

                                                                                                                  The "Moon landing conspiracy theories" page on Wikipedia appears to consist of a thorough debunking. The only 50/50 it does is presenting the claims before knocking them down at length.

                                                                                                                  (As, I suggest, is appropriate.)

                                                                                                • IronWolve 102 days ago

                                                                                                  Wikipedia reflects what people believe to be the Truth, so historical or news are often filled with mistakes and half-truths. My favorite wikipedia deletion was an armchair historian who would correct common myths, such as Canada did not have Troops in the Vietnam war. He would even link to the Canadian military site that listed medals to soldiers station in Vietnam.

                                                                                                  He kept getting all his updates reversed, as the perceived fact was the only one allowed. His proof was discarded.

                                                                                                  He finally gave up, and only updated his personal comment page. And then the wikipedia did a personal page purge to stop searches from showing personal pages. Coincidence? I doubt it.

                                                                                                  Those who control the history books they say.

                                                                                                  • deathhand 102 days ago

                                                                                                    If people are this open and brazen about it then ultimately we have passed the point of usefulness. This can be seen in social media vote farms where you pay for exposure. Once they start appearing en masse then it is the death knell of the platform.

                                                                                                    This also has a chilling effect on free speech and what an individual is allowed to know about an organization, person, company etc. As any 'trusted' source of information is now spoiled.

                                                                                                    The way we get ahead of this is do what the internet forefathers wanted to do to any problem... re-route. There are wiki clones and methinks their popularity will only grow now.

                                                                                                    This should be the chief concern for Jimmy Whales and the Wikimedia foundation if they actually cared about providing 'an encyclopedia for all' because they are no longer providing a platform for learning but rather just another corporate blog.

                                                                                                    • oblio 102 days ago

                                                                                                      > The way we get ahead of this is do what the internet forefathers wanted to do to any problem... re-route. There are wiki clones and methinks their popularity will only grow now.

                                                                                                      It's wishful thinking. In the software and internet world, once something is entrenched, it's rarely removed from first position unless it no longer serves its primary purpose to its main audience. Which Wikipedia does.

                                                                                                      It's a bit like Facebook vs Mastodon. Ask your non-techie friends about Mastodon and they'll probably go: that was a sort of elephant or dinosaur, wasn't it?

                                                                                                      • xondono 102 days ago

                                                                                                        I’m amazed of how many people share this “once stablished things never change” mentality in this forum.

                                                                                                        Most of the people reading here are either thinking of or trying or actually becoming living proof that this way of thinking is wrong.

                                                                                                        Maybe instead of asking non-techie friends about mastodon we should be asking kids about myspace..

                                                                                                        • oblio 102 days ago

                                                                                                          Myspace popped up before the market was mature and it definitely didn't have 80% market share all across the globe.

                                                                                                          Facebook might fall on its own due to user fatigue. But it will still have 1 billion users 20 year's from now :)

                                                                                                      • SiempreViernes 102 days ago

                                                                                                        Honestly, it's likely better to use wikipedia with its well known problems rather than some random encyclopedia with well hidden problems instead.

                                                                                                      • jessriedel 102 days ago

                                                                                                        Can someone link to a particularly egregious example of an untrue/non-POV/non-verifiable Sussman edit, or an in-bad-faith comment? So far the ones I see are basically reasonable.

                                                                                                        • alexandercrohde 102 days ago

                                                                                                          Yeah that's kindof a weak argument.

                                                                                                          That's like saying "Did the judge who took a bribe say anything unreasonable in their ruling?" or like saying "Did the academic study that was paid for a big corporation without disclosing make any logical leaps?"

                                                                                                          Any paid, undisclosed influence is wrong, period. And almost certainly against TOS.

                                                                                                          • jessriedel 102 days ago

                                                                                                            > That's like saying "Did the judge who took a bribe say anything unreasonable in their ruling?

                                                                                                            In fact, it's much more like the attorney is paid, which is considered fine in courts. Indeed, having contributors who are potentially biased, but who each argue their point and agree to a method of conflict resolution, is considered one of the most powerful methods of seeking truth. It's also used in academics, where each researcher bring their own biases to the table.

                                                                                                            > Any paid, undisclosed influence is wrong, period.

                                                                                                            I guess you didn't read the article? The paid influence was disclosed.

                                                                                                            • viivaux 100 days ago

                                                                                                              >In fact, it's much more like the attorney is paid, which is considered fine in courts.

                                                                                                              In theory (though tbf not in reality) everyone has the right to an attorney. AFAIK there is no corresponding right to a paid Wikipedia editor.

                                                                                                              >> Any paid, undisclosed influence is wrong, period.

                                                                                                              >I guess you didn't read the article? The paid influence was disclosed.

                                                                                                              “But the plans were on display…” “On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.” “That’s the display department.” “With a flashlight.” “Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.” “So had the stairs.” “But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?” “Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”

                                                                                                              Wikipedia articles with significant edits from paid PR hacks need a big red warning sticker.

                                                                                                            • drugme 102 days ago

                                                                                                              Actually his edits (or at least the one I cross-checked) were disclosed per WP:COI.

                                                                                                              • xondono 102 days ago

                                                                                                                According to the article at least, all his suggestions have been disclosed following the Wikipedia rules.

                                                                                                              • lordlimecat 102 days ago

                                                                                                                Their complaint seems to be that theyre reasonable but spun in the opposite direction. It's a fair point, but ignores that language like "X inaccurately reported Y" has its own angle. Maybe the reporter in question is generally quite accurate, and got a bad source. Should that context be included, or not, and is that spin?

                                                                                                                In other words, HuffPo is pretending that there's such a thing as being neutral, which is ironic considering how bad they are at it.

                                                                                                                • jessriedel 102 days ago

                                                                                                                  Yea, exactly. We don't expect reasonably accurate articles to arise because all editors are perfectly unbiased, we expect them to be created by the interaction of (inevitably) biased editors coming to a reasonable consensus.

                                                                                                                  • jakelazaroff 102 days ago

                                                                                                                    I think we also expect editors to be acting in good faith, though. The consensus in this case isn't reached because of an inevitable difference of opinion; one side has been paid to take his position. It's essentially astroturfing.

                                                                                                                    • jessriedel 102 days ago

                                                                                                                      Being paid is not the same as acting in bad faith. Being paid is one potential source of bias, and happens to be one that is strong and particularly easy to objectively define (as opposed to, say, bias from one's political opinions). Everyone is biased, but some people at some times are acting in good faith despite their biases.

                                                                                                                      The point of my comment is that you can't divide the world up into biased and unbiased, label the biased part astroturfing (or whatever), prohibit it, and then expect a nice unbiased outcome. Rather, everyone is biased in their own ways and to varying degrees. The good outcome come from the truth-tracking aspects of the process, not from have unbiased inputs.

                                                                                                                      • jakelazaroff 102 days ago

                                                                                                                        I'm not labeling his actions astroturfing because he's biased, I'm doing so because his bias is paid for and undisclosed. That's a textbook definition of both astroturfing and acting in bad faith. How is this different in any way from e.g. a company paying for reviews on Amazon, or a journalist writing a glowing article about a company without disclosing that they own stock in that company?

                                                                                                                        • jessriedel 102 days ago

                                                                                                                          > I'm not labeling his actions astroturfing because he's biased, I'm doing so because his bias is paid for...

                                                                                                                          I understand that, but I'm arguing that the bias from financial incentives are just one form of bias. (That's why I said "or whatever".) I mean that it's not useful to divide the world up into no/negligible bias and bad/paid bias, regardless of what you call it.

                                                                                                                          > ...and undisclosed. That's a textbook definition of both astroturfing and acting in bad faith.

                                                                                                                          In fact, as stated in the article, the payments were disclosed. Do you have other reasons to think he's acting in bad faith, or just your mistaken belief that the payments were undisclosed?

                                                                                                                          • jakelazaroff 102 days ago

                                                                                                                            Whoops, I missed that part! I agree with you, then: he's not acting in bad faith.

                                                                                                              • lordlimecat 102 days ago

                                                                                                                >casual racism depository Nextdoor

                                                                                                                I think Sussman is getting edits approved because (at first glance) they're substantially better written and still fall within the bounds of dispassionate writing.

                                                                                                                Maybe Huffington Post could use some lessons in that, if their idea of journalism is to randomly drop not-dispassionate digs at Nextdoor with neither context nor justification.

                                                                                                                • elfakyn 102 days ago

                                                                                                                  The problem is that people often conflate dispassionate writing with neutral writing, which makes a biased dispassionate edit much more likely to get through.

                                                                                                                  • altfredd 102 days ago

                                                                                                                    Sussman isn't "getting edits approved". He is literally bribing other editors in open.

                                                                                                                    Ever wrote anything on Wikipedia talk pages? Unless you are commenting on article with hundred thousands of daily views, your comments will remain ignored for years. Nobody is going to "implement your suggestions" or "accept corrections", —at best you will be ignored, and at worst you will be told to f##k off in Wikipedia's politically correct newspeak.

                                                                                                                    Who are the people, implementing his changes to pages? A certain number are of course bots and sock puppets. But relying on those exclusively is risky, and he would eventually get discovered and singled out by mods and check-users. So some of his editors got to be real people. Does he have an actual team of editors working on keeping articles updated full time through series of proxies? Probably not, — would be too expensive and also prone to ban.

                                                                                                                    Let's perform a mental experiment: you are a poor sod in Cambodia/North Korea/Thailand etc. who have recently discovering a beauty of Wikipedia. You look at the talk page of "Facebook" article and stumble upon comments of some guy, who says, that he is a representative of dedicated PR company. You make some quick calculations: your daily wage is several orders of magnitude smaller than average US wage, and the guy is probably getting paid A LOT of money by Facebook and the likes; going to darknet to regularly buy a new bunch of "proxies" (hacked computers in US residential areas) will costs you $XX per month; if you get him to pay you $YY, the rest of money will be your net profit...

                                                                                                                    You can guess the rest.

                                                                                                                • Thorondor 102 days ago

                                                                                                                  Sussman's Wikipedia contribution history is available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/BC1278

                                                                                                                  • deathhand 102 days ago

                                                                                                                    That you know of. Who knows how many sock puppet accounts they may have.

                                                                                                                    Heck it could even be an additional fee 'well for an extra 10k I will create a new personality that isn't tied to anything'

                                                                                                                    • djmips 102 days ago

                                                                                                                      That's what I would suspect. The main thrust is above board but why not tip the balance by corrupting Wikipedia editors or having a shadow stable of editors.

                                                                                                                  • booleandilemma 102 days ago

                                                                                                                    The problem is that all sources of information are biased. And it’s worse than that. People you meet on the street are biased. Your own friends are biased. I’m biased. People that claim they’re unbiased are definitely biased.

                                                                                                                    Everyone has an angle, everyone has their own personal and cultural historical baggage that’s going to color their perception of everything from commercials to politics.

                                                                                                                    It’s up to you to think critically, get information from multiple diverse sources, and form your own (biased) opinion, and always, always, be skeptical.

                                                                                                                    • minikites 102 days ago

                                                                                                                      That requires a level of media and information literacy that is evidently uncommon in the general public.

                                                                                                                      • roman_g 102 days ago

                                                                                                                        At least they are biased consistently and they truly believe they are not. When you agree to say and protect a set of views and facts carefully described in a contract... it's another thing.

                                                                                                                        • narag 102 days ago

                                                                                                                          The problem is that all sources of information are biased.

                                                                                                                          I disagree. Maybe everybody is biased. But the problem's just not that one. Judges and juries are biased, but we still trust them with Justice, that means deciding on life and freedom for many.

                                                                                                                          The problem is not bias, but giving up to bias instead of trying to overcome it. And of course if you got paid by a party in the controversy, you should know you've given up any hope of honesty.

                                                                                                                        • sneak 102 days ago

                                                                                                                          For seven years, what I strongly suspect is paid astroturfing has been up on wikipedia for one of the largest hotel/casino conglomerates on the Las Vegas strip:


                                                                                                                          It surprised me that nobody had added the “reads like an advertisement” template in all that time, so I did. Get out there and be vigilant.

                                                                                                                          • tim333 102 days ago

                                                                                                                            Wikipedia works quite well in spite of that though.

                                                                                                                            The Sands article looks like it was written by a company employee / PR which I'm not sure is quite astroturfing. Depends on your definitions I guess.

                                                                                                                            It reminds me of a page I put up on the company Algenol which I thought interesting as it was trying to make ethanol direct from algae and sunlight and saying it would be cheaper than regular fuel. Then the whole thing got rewritten by someone like Algenol's PR and someone flagged it but I couldn't be bothered to re-edit the whole thing - takes ages. Then Algenol kind of failed, fired the boss and went on to other things. Not sure how the page is now.

                                                                                                                            • Dahoon 102 days ago

                                                                                                                              But you could add “reads like an advertisement” on most things about/from/in the US. Reading the same articles in other languages gives a completely different picture. Wikipedia in English is heavily biased.

                                                                                                                            • harry8 102 days ago

                                                                                                                              What a defence "I'm not the bad guy for robbing people's houses, the real bad guys rob and assault the occupants..."

                                                                                                                              • mlthoughts2018 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                I’m surprised Wikipedia doesn’t simply ban any communication through the Wikipedia platform itself between a person awaiting edit approval and others who could approve it.

                                                                                                                                Similarly, why not put a strict word count limit on discussion on Talk pages. If you can’t make a rebuttle succinctly, then the risk of Talk page filibustering is too high and mitigating that risk matters more than letting people write diatribes of objections to decisions about edits.

                                                                                                                                • l9k 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                  I disagree. I was surprised the conversations were public and visible on the website itself.

                                                                                                                                  What would be more scary, and probably happens already in other cases, is if nefarious editors organized via private channels.

                                                                                                                                • badhatter 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                  This has been going on a very long time. Just take a look at any politicians Wikipedia page.

                                                                                                                                  • Dahoon 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                    If you really want to see history rewritten on Wikipedia look at articles on US wars. Especially those about WW2 japan or war crimes by US GIs.

                                                                                                                                  • babyslothzoo 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                    Does anyone take Wikipedia seriously at this point?

                                                                                                                                    Calling Wikipedia 'neutral' is comical, it's full of opinion, ideology, bias, misinformation, disinformation, astroturfing, and other nonsense noise and utter garbage.

                                                                                                                                    • unethical_ban 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                      I wouldn't bet my PhD on it, or get the entirety of my education on a complex subject from it. Though it has a TON of factually correct statements. It is a good starting point for a ton of stuff, and I would never wish it to be gone.

                                                                                                                                    • Rebelgecko 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                      There's been a couple times that I've revisited a Wikipedia article and noticed that someone had erased a negative section about a person or organization. I've always wondered if it was organic or part of a larger for-pay effort

                                                                                                                                      • saltvedt 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                        My project, the news aggregater Cited News (https://cited.news/), uses Wikipedia references as source for news.

                                                                                                                                      • fvjft 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                        Blindly trusting what you read on Wikipedia is like blindly trusting what you read on the media. And I don't think there's much we can do to avoid it. Because conventional wisdom says more education will fix it. But wasn't there a study that showed that even highly educated people believe anything that confirms their biases?

                                                                                                                                        • cjslep 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                          I'm currently reading Manufacturing Consent which to me shows how dangerous blindly following the mass media can be in a rigorous manner without requiring one to become a conspiracy theorist.

                                                                                                                                          There's certain ways to effectively critically read newspaper articles that I was taught at a young age and it's definitely a learned skill that I wish the US education system did better with.

                                                                                                                                          • Veen 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                            There is a problem with blindly following the mass media, but there is no less of problem with blindly following any media.

                                                                                                                                            I’m often surprised that people who denounce the Mainstream Media as biased and under the thumb of vested interests are quite happy to uncritically absorb any old crap from obviously biased and frequently insane “independent” sources they happen to agree with.

                                                                                                                                            • taneq 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                              Well, of course! "Independent" sources, if you listen to a few of them, counts as "research", as in "do your research!"

                                                                                                                                              • mistermann 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                There's a big difference between a collection of hodge podge of websites and youtube channels run by often anonymous people that happen to be mostly in agreement on various theories, and the well oiled mainstream media orgnizations that wear fancy clothes, are allowed direct access to the president, have their words broadcast internationally on TV & newspapers, elevators, etc.

                                                                                                                                                It doesn't take high intelligence to spot lies in the former, whereas it often takes significant intelligence and a long history of following the news from a broad selection of sources to spot lies in the latter. One group are hobbyists, the other are professionals.

                                                                                                                                                • jakelazaroff 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                  And yet many people swear by the former while rejecting the latter out of hand.

                                                                                                                                                  • mistermann 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                    Indeed "many" people do, and the vast majority of people consider them nutters.

                                                                                                                                                    The more worrying part is the orders of magnitude larger group that essentially considers ~everything that the MSM prints is true, at least to the best of their ability. For most people (including smart people on sites like HN), the mere suggestion that this may not be the case will typically get you categorized as a member of the former group, regardless of the facts of the individual point of disagreement.

                                                                                                                                                    This seems to be simply the default nature of human psychology that is independent to some degree from intelligence. Changing it would require a significant organized effort of teaching people critical thinking skills, and the state seems uninterested in anything of the kind, despite their stated concerns about the crisis of fake news.

                                                                                                                                              • wongarsu 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                > without requiring one to become a conspiracy theorist.

                                                                                                                                                People conspire all the time, so shouldn't any sane person suspect some conspiracies?

                                                                                                                                                Hijacking the word "conspiracy theorist" to mean nut job seems like exactly the twisting of reality you are advocating to avoid.

                                                                                                                                                • Vinnl 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                  In this context, I interpret "conspiracy theorist" as someone who thinks there are relatively large groups of people conspiring, without the majority of people being aware of that. A small conspiracy when playing Diplomacy is believable, but e.g. one in which everyone behind mass media has agreed to put forward a certain message is not.

                                                                                                                                                  Thus (not having read it myself), Manufacturing Consent could show how emergent properties of mass media might lead to them pushing a certain incorrect world view, rather than proposing a theory that requires the teams behind them to all agree to conspire and none of them to make that public knowledge.

                                                                                                                                                  • herbstein 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                    > Thus (not having read it myself), Manufacturing Consent could show how emergent properties of mass media might lead to them pushing a certain incorrect world view, rather than proposing a theory that requires the teams behind them to all agree to conspire and none of them to make that public knowledge.

                                                                                                                                                    That is right. Chomsky proposes 5 filters through which this process happens. These filters operate, according to Chomsky, not just in media, but in all of society. From kindergarten to our deadbeds.

                                                                                                                                                    I think this was best illustrated with Chomsky's 1996 interview in "The Big Idea" on BBC by Andrew Marr. Chomsky is outlining how the filters make sure certain viewpoints are popularized, and Andrew Marr asks "How can you know that I'm self-censoring?". To which Chomsky replies "I'm not saying you're self-censoring. I'm sure you believe everything you're saying. But what I'm saying is, if you believed something different, you wouldn't be sitting where you're sitting."

                                                                                                                                                    The 30 minute episode[1] is well worth a watch, but the three minute clip of the above exchange is also available[2].

                                                                                                                                                    [1]: https://youtu.be/GjENnyQupow [2]: https://youtu.be/lLcpcytUnWU

                                                                                                                                                    • Nasrudith 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                      I haven't read it either but I know the insidious thing about many conspiracies is that they aren't even technically conspiracies - they may collude but that isn't a crime in itself or even when all combined. Look at the increasingly blatantly selective and hypocritical tech hit jobs - you would think one of Google, Amazon, or Facebook were the most hated companies in America given the coverage.

                                                                                                                                                      Nope it is Comcast who has earned that distinction. The same one who while technically a rival to them advertises heavily with them. The same one whose past actions have made net neutrality not a theoretical matter. Nothing illegal but their actions are flagrantly self-interested.

                                                                                                                                                    • Bjartr 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                      > Hijacking the word "conspiracy theorist" to mean nut job seems like exactly the twisting of reality you are advocating to avoid.

                                                                                                                                                      The term "conspiracy theory" has always always been derogatory[1]

                                                                                                                                                      [1] https://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/nope_it_was_alwa...

                                                                                                                                                      • omeid2 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                        counterconspiracy (noun) : a conspiracy to oppose or undermine something (such as another conspiracy)

                                                                                                                                                        The big agencies are pretty well versed on this, look at the system approach they take on this one: https://jfkfacts.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Countering-W...

                                                                                                                                                        It is not the details of this specific conspiracy that is interesting, but the systematic approach to tackling it.

                                                                                                                                                        • pjc50 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                          Suspicion is not evidence.

                                                                                                                                                          • wongarsu 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                            And common use the word theory describes something unproven or speculative. Evidence is great, but in the presence of undisputable evidence we wouldn't call it a consiracy theory but simply a conspiracy.

                                                                                                                                                        • mc32 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                          I think their hypothesis is too narrow. Manufacturing consent is more than only gov + media creating a narrative. Pretty much any significant interest with some kind of ideology is manufacturing consent.

                                                                                                                                                          Let’s build toilets. If traditionally a locality has no toilets and you come in and want to do good and bring sanitation you’re still manufacturing consent, albeit for the good. Grassroots also manufactures consent if you have a main outside driver.

                                                                                                                                                          • rdtsc 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                            Exactly. Any power structure will do it. The interesting aspect is how it is an emerging property through individual rewards, expectation, advertisement revenue (Not sure if I want to criticize P&G when they buy millions of dollar worth of ads from us?), going against ownership (How willing will WaPo be criticize Bezos). It's not necessary for there to be a conspiracy where people all meet on some secret island decide what to publish next.

                                                                                                                                                            And it's not as much about the individual power structures, but how they influence the media to do it. The new players since the last publication are the tech companies and how they have tremendous power to selectively give voice or silence to push a certain narrative. They are slowly replacing the traditional media companies as primary player that manufacture consent. It seems there is a current battle between the two and I think the tech companies are winning so far.

                                                                                                                                                            • herbstein 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                              I think Chomsky himself is very aware of this, even if the book has a more narrow focus. Keep in mind that Chomsky is a self-described libertarian socialist with deep sympathy for anarcho-syndicalist movements.

                                                                                                                                                              • mc32 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                I’m sure he and the co author are aware of this. My complaint is that by focusing on big media + gov many readers or people who hear this phrase then often don’t think about the other aspects of this phenomenon (that it’s pervasive and kind of natural) but that we should be aware none the less.

                                                                                                                                                                • herbstein 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                  I gave this some more thought, and I think you're wrong. Wrong in the sense that Chomsky and Herman did focus on these things. One of the five filters is "Flack". In this filter "wrong" opinions are given flack from institutions with power. The focus on government comes from them being, arguably, the most powerful institution.

                                                                                                                                                                  The propaganda model does account for other non-governmental and non-media influences. This is talked about in the animation Al-Jazeera made.


                                                                                                                                                            • rdtsc 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                              It's a great book and it was really eye opening. I think it was relevant when it was written and it is just as relevant today.

                                                                                                                                                              I think in the past some of the news outlets sort of pretended to be unbiased. They could fool more people into believing that. Sure Fox News was mostly a one-party outlet, but others kept their bias behind the curtain. Since about 5-7 years ago, they stopped pretending as much.

                                                                                                                                                              At the same time, I think there is a perception that traditional media companies have failed to manufacture consent properly. There was this void created in that space and tech companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and others rushed in to fill that void. Their message is "come to us, we'll manufacture consent better than these old crusty companies". Then you can see some of the traditional media hitting back at Facebook and others. And there is this sort of a battle between them as to who is a better player at manufacturing and controlling "truth".

                                                                                                                                                            • sam_goody 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                              The greater the agenda, the less you can rely on the data. But the agenda is not always obvious.

                                                                                                                                                              I edited a technical subject [some 10+ years ago], and within minutes(!!) it had been changed again to a variant of what was originally there, I presume by a bot. Some further research taught me that the technical issue was actually a sensitive one for various new age groups. Since there is no way I could ever hope to manually compete with a team of scripted adversaries, I gave up.

                                                                                                                                                              Taught me something about Wikipedia.

                                                                                                                                                              Note: I have other edits that have been up for years, so not at all absolute.

                                                                                                                                                              • gbear605 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                There’s a decent chance it wasn’t a bot. I have about a hundred pages on my Wikipedia watch list, and I get emails everytime a change is made to them. I check each one for whether it is a good change or not. An unfortunately high percentage are not (and by not good change, I mean unambiguous things like typing random gibberish).

                                                                                                                                                                • aaaaaaaaaaab 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                  >Some further research taught me that the technical issue was actually a sensitive one for various new age groups.

                                                                                                                                                                  Please elaborate!

                                                                                                                                                                  • Diederich 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                    Are you comfortable saying what the technical subject was?

                                                                                                                                                                  • pjc50 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                    Education is a lagging effect. What you put into the public school system today will take 50+ years to feed through to the pensioners with higher voter turnout.

                                                                                                                                                                    People have great difficulty operating in low-trust environments. It takes a lot of work and is mentally draining to check everything, to distrust your co-workers and family and correct them when they start talking about the flat earth. Far better to stop the falsehoods being dripped into the public sphere in the first place.

                                                                                                                                                                    • dsfyu404ed 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                      >Education is a lagging effect. What you put into the public school system today will take 50+ years to feed through to the pensioners with higher voter turnout.

                                                                                                                                                                      My brother and I went to high school in different states. The obvious differences in the education we got about politically charged topics was disgusting. The state I went to school in basically omitted anything that could lead one to question the government's decision making the way religious schools sometimes "forget" to teach evolution.

                                                                                                                                                                      It wasn't like they neglected to mention the Indian wars or Japanese internment in the 3rd grade because those are heavy topics for 3rd graders, they just gave those sort of things got a quick mention and no assigned work specific to them or serious discussion. They repeatedly failed to mention (early grades) or downplayed any legitimacy (later grades) of any grievance with the government. In retrospect they conspicuously skipped the 14th amendment (you know, the one that protects people from state encroachment on rights) because there's a very short path from it to some tough questions.

                                                                                                                                                                      Edit: Come to think of it the one history teacher I had who actually promoted critical thinking grew up out of state.

                                                                                                                                                                      • badhatter 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                        It goes both ways though. In blue states You have some kids that are taught nothing of world war 2 but are taught everything about the civil war and slavery. Among other trends in educating differences. There are many more. Extreme right / Extreme left are both bad. Any extreme anti-another ideology is just asking for problems.

                                                                                                                                                                        • dsfyu404ed 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                          I was educated in one of the bluest and most authoritarian states in the country (not that those two are necessarily related though the link seems to be getting stronger over time though that might just be caused by increasing extremism and authoritarianism in general). My brother got his education in a purple state that is probably one of the most anti-authoritarian in the US, maybe second to Alaska.

                                                                                                                                                                          My issue is not so much with the typical left-ish ideology determining what we did and didn't focus our coverage on. My complaint is with the all that coverage having undertone of government doing no wrong, ever. I believe this to be somewhat particular to the state I grew up in, not necessarily left wing ideology (of the time).

                                                                                                                                                                          We covered civil rights yet it was covered as though government was some savior implementing reform over the objection of backwards southerners. We got to see videos from the period but none of them had police dogs attacking protestors. We covered the civil war but not the failure of reconstruction. We discussed Jim Crow not in that context but in the context of the interwar period. I don't recall the KKK even being mentioned in discussion of the 1800s. The trail of tears, the Indian wars. That was all blamed on settlers encroaching on Indian land never any government involvement other than "protecting settlers". I never heard of Custer, Sitting bull, Wounded knee, etc was skipped. Discussion of the post-civil war US was all about industrialization.

                                                                                                                                                                          It definitely goes both ways. I'm not sure "progressive" whitewashing of the past is any better or worse than "conservative" (in quotes because who knows what these words mean anymore) whitewashing but they're both not good. I wouldn't even say the particular whitewashing my education was subject to followed and particular mainstream ideology, it just religiously avoided mentioning anything that would lead one to one being skeptical of government.

                                                                                                                                                                          I simply meant to expand on the GP's point that education does in fact have a large impact on ideology but that effect is delayed until that group start voting en-masse.

                                                                                                                                                                      • mistermann 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                        > What you put into the public school system today will take 50+ years to feed through to the pensioners with higher voter turnout.

                                                                                                                                                                        If people actually learn it that is.

                                                                                                                                                                        > It takes a lot of work and is mentally draining to check everything

                                                                                                                                                                        Very true. However, it's far less taxing to learn how to read articles critically and detect possible half-truth telling, one example being spotting where the author is using carefully chosen words to project an idea without saying it outright. In my experience most articles on the topic of politics fall into this category, so it's best to read several versions of a story from various publications and see what kind of spin each one puts on it, which facts they include/exclude, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                        > Far better to stop the falsehoods being dripped into the public sphere in the first place.

                                                                                                                                                                        The first problem with this is, you'd first you have to get people to agree on what's false. I'd wager there's quite a bit you and I disagree on outside of whether the earth is flat, and I'm assuming you're probably a fairly reasonable person.

                                                                                                                                                                        Secondly, taken literally this could mean (or gradually and eventually lead to a situation where) you can't print any speculative/inconclusive articles, and could only publish things that have been "proven" by "respectable", "right-thinking" organizations.

                                                                                                                                                                      • dredmorbius 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                        I stumbled across an 1874 editorial rewvise war between the British authors and American publisher of Chamber's Encyclopaedia, which provides rare insight into the disagreements over and politicisation of information and its dissemination.

                                                                                                                                                                        My commentary:




                                                                                                                                                                        The power to define narrative has always been immense.

                                                                                                                                                                        • JProthero 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                          That was an interesting read for me – thanks for the link.

                                                                                                                                                                          I'm interested in how the centuries-old debate about protectionism and free trade has reignited over the past few years, and I'm also concerned about how Wikipedia's editorial community and processes are evolving. It was a surprise to see the two subjects combined like this, but given what you say about the power to define narrative, I suppose it shouldn't have been.

                                                                                                                                                                          • dredmorbius 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                            Ha-Joon Chang, mentioned in my commentary, is probably among the best-informed modern scholars on the dynamics of the free trade debate. I'd shared the item with him. and he was kind enough to reply with thanks, though I'm not sure if he's made use of the example.

                                                                                                                                                                            The whole notion of narrative and its power, especially contrasted with discrete facts and fact-checking, is another area I've been exploring, arguably under the sscope of my blog's purview (intentionally both broad and vague, a blessing and curse).

                                                                                                                                                                            Douglas Ruskoff's "Team Human" blog explores this with George Monbiot here, quite well.

                                                                                                                                                                            Ep. 89 George Monbiot "Beyond Salvation and Disaster". Episode: https://shows.pippa.io/teamhuman/ep-89-george-monbiot-beyond...

                                                                                                                                                                            Media: https://feed.pippa.io/public/streams/58ad887a1608b1752663b04...

                                                                                                                                                                            The theme shows up both in the intro, at 4m30s, and in the conversation, starting at 11m30s, andcontinuing through the rest of the episode.

                                                                                                                                                                        • deathhand 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                          Trusting something is inherently different then being provided information.

                                                                                                                                                                          Lets say I pump a state's aquifers dry to bottle water and there is a scandal about it. If I remove that information from the common information repository about my company is that ok?

                                                                                                                                                                          • fvjft 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                            It's not okay, but that's not the point I'm making. What I'm saying is that people shouldn't take what they read in that "common information repository" at face value, because it can be edited by anybody. Hell, even if editing was restricted to a certain group of people, how do you know those people aren't being paid to lie or omit information? (i.e. what happens with the media)

                                                                                                                                                                          • pmoleri 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                            I don't think that blindly trusting wikipedia is nearly as bad as blindly trusting media. Wikipedia, while not perfect, has a way to moderate itself. Media needs to deliver fresh and high impact news, this ends up being an incentive to replicate news from other media without fact checking or a minimum analysis. IMO while money can influence any of them, the incentives for poor content quality in media are worse.

                                                                                                                                                                            • CM30 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                              100% agreed with this. The 24 hour news cycle, the obsession with trends, the need for social media shares and the focus on 'get it out quick' over 'research the story well' has annihilated the quality of the media in general, and is responsible for about 80% of the problems facing journalism today.

                                                                                                                                                                            • thegeomaster 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                              On the bright side, Wikipedia is great for learning about technical subjects because there's rarely (if ever) an agenda associated with that.

                                                                                                                                                                              • wongarsu 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                > because there's rarely (if ever) an agenda associated with that.

                                                                                                                                                                                I wouldn't be so sure about that. SLS (the upcoming government funded rocket) is mostly a product of politics and lobbying and as such a very political subject. Quantum physics seems like an objective field until we start discussing funding for the next particle accelerator. Discussions about PHP have never been sane, even without Facebook having vested interest one way or the other. The laws of thermodynamics seem largely undisputed until the perpetual motion crowd starts another edit war.

                                                                                                                                                                                It's easier to determine facts in technical subjects, making the work of good Wikipedia mods easier. But that doesn't mean they are free of agendas or that those agendas don't influence Wikipedia

                                                                                                                                                                                • roel_v 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                  Lol. Technical articles are the worst, there is always someone who needs to push their open source/free software morals and agenda on anything software-related.

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Dahoon 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                    You behave very much like those you accuse.

                                                                                                                                                                                • thundergolfer 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes that's basically true about people being susceptible to bias, regardless of education level, though highly educated people still perform better at critical understanding.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Education is still the way to go, obviously.

                                                                                                                                                                                  • reshie 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                    even geniuses can be fooled though they are just more likely able to disern right information and think critically about what is being presented but people are not masters of everything nor have the time to disect everything. there are times also when there are not multiple sources and yet true. but you are right blind trust is a fallacy but trust to some extant is necessary.

                                                                                                                                                                                    biases has nothing to do with education but one may be more aware of them but i think thats more of a understanding of self or the human condition the scientific method tries to promote undiased results though but they do of course seep in.

                                                                                                                                                                                    • fakehistory 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                      Education is a tricky one too, considering bad actors like Mcgraw-Hill (who probably created all of your children's textbooks for elementary school) whitewashing all the things.

                                                                                                                                                                                    • stevespang 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                      Sussman get's paid more than the amount of the bribes used by the wealthy to get their kids into colleges

                                                                                                                                                                                      • andThenHN 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                        And then there's HN...

                                                                                                                                                                                        • l0b0 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                          Here's a suggestion: _Allow each user to do only a certain amount of editing within a time period._ Of course there are technical difficulties with this, but if done right this would pretty much guarantee that edit farms and paid actors are much less useful. Wikipedia as a whole would probably be much more useful in the long run, since there are an absolutely massive long tail of experts in every conceivable field.

                                                                                                                                                                                          • josephg 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                            There's a long tail, but my understanding is that there's a core wikipedia contributor community who contribute a staggering number of edits[1]. If wikipedia limited the number of edits that each user could do, they would anger their core community. It would be similar to youtube putting a limit on the number of views each video was allowed to get. It would be suicide via the destruction of their tribe.

                                                                                                                                                                                            And I don't even know if it would work that well. Per-IP edit limits would only stop PR companies with deep pockets for so long. They would do what the russians do, and just make account farms.

                                                                                                                                                                                            [1] Or so I've been told. I'd love to see actual stats on this. It probably follows a Pareto distribution; but with what power? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_distribution

                                                                                                                                                                                            • Dahoon 102 days ago

                                                                                                                                                                                              >They would do what the russians do, and just make account farms.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm sure whitehatwiki.com would have been called exactly that if it were from Russia or China.