Is Wikipedia going commercial?

“Having commissioned articles on Wikipedia dilutes one of the last respites from commercialization on the Internet. Perhaps worse, these commissioned endorsements are hidden by the guise of pure encyclopedic information.” (Maura Ewing,

“If PR editing from Wikipedia’s representatives — paid or not — were to be openly tolerated, Wikipedia’s reputation will most certainly be harmed in a way that is different from the harm done from vandalism or covert PR editing.” (Violet Blue, CNET)

My Dissertation Now Available

Greetings everyone…My dissertation “Network of Knowledge: Wikipedia as a Sociotechnical System of Intelligence” is now available here on the blog.

It will be permanently downloadable from the About Me page, but I also wanted to put it here on the front page in hopes that it might spur questions and comments.

A huge thanks to all of the bot operators and Wikipedia contributors who participated in the study. I plan to continue this research (once I get the IRB approval at my new institution) and would love to chat with other WP bot operators and people involved in the creation, maintenance, and governance of automated and semi-automated tools. Please email me if you’re interested.

How Kate Middleton’s Wedding Gown Demonstrates Wikipedia’s Woman Problem

How Kate Middleton’s Wedding Gown Demonstrates Wikipedia’s Woman Problem - Slate

Photo by CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images

“The day of the royal wedding, a Wikipedia article about the dress was flagged for deletion. This prompted an energetic debate, as you can see on the dress’s “article for deletion” page. “ ‘Wedding dress of…’ as an article in an encyclopaedia? Exactly the sort of thing that made me all but quit as an active user on this project,” one user complained. “This is frankly trivial, and surely isn’t notable enough to be on wikipedia,” argued another. It wasn’t only men who wanted the article nixed. On the article’s Talk page(where editors debate changes), a female user wrote: “LOL, my thoughts exactly. Will there be an article on her shoes, too?”

Several male users came out in support of the Middleton dress article—including Wales. The day after the wedding, Wales weighed in, contending that they should keep the article because of the dress’ presumable long-term effect on fashion. (In his comments, he drew the same parallel to Linux distributions. He likes that comparison a lot.) Furthermore, he said, they should have items on other famous dresses as well.” (Torie Bosch, Slate)

After 244 Years, Encyclopaedia Britannica Stops the Presses

After 244 Years, Encyclopaedia Britannica Stops the Presses - New York Times

Photo: Ángel Franco/The New York Times

“In the 1950s, having the Encyclopaedia Britannica on the bookshelf was akin to a station wagon in the garage or a black-and-white Zenith in the den, a possession coveted for its usefulness and as a goalpost for an aspirational middle class. Buying a set was often a financial stretch, and many families had to pay for it in monthly installments.

But in recent years, print reference books have been almost completely overtaken by the Internet and its vast spread of resources, including specialized Web sites and the hugely popular — and free — online encyclopedia Wikipedia.” (Julie Bosman,

A few other views:
On the death of Encyclopaedia Britannica: All authoritarian regimes eventually fall (Jim Sollisch, Christian Science Monitor)
Encyclopaedia Britannica announces final entry for print edition, continues in digital form (Associated Press)

Digital Maoism

Digital Maoism - Jaron Lanier

Photo: Edge

“What we are witnessing today is the alarming rise of the fallacy of the infallible collective. Numerous elite organizations have been swept off their feet by the idea. They are inspired by the rise of the Wikipedia, by the wealth of Google, and by the rush of entrepreneurs to be the most Meta. Government agencies, top corporate planning departments, and major universities have all gotten the bug.” (Jaron Lanier, Edge)

Would a Wikipedia blackout be such a bad thing?

Would a Wikipedia blackout be such a bad thing? - ZDNet

Image: ZDNet

“The discussion prompted by Wales’ straw poll has prompted interesting debate. A Wikipedia blackout could be used to promote knowledge of the proposed legislation, and allow internet users in other countries to become more aware of how the bill would eventually affect them.  Because it will. SOPA is not a U.S website central issue — it is a global concern.” (Charlie Osborne, ZDNet)

Also, check out Wales’ original post to the Wikipedia community and the extensive discussion that followed.