How can we fix Wikipedia?
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I LOVE Wikipedia, I think it’s one of the best websites of the internet.

But the fact is that Wikipedia has many flaws:

  • Editing became very hard on Wikipedia based on the amount of rules to respect
  • Wikipedia is biased, many cultures and minorities are not well represented among editors and pages.
  • Wikipedia is a dependence, I can’t imagine Wikipedia disappear, I think it already changed the way people see knowledge, not as something fixed anymore, but as something dynamic that changes and evolve.
  • Wikipedia ‘sources admission’ are also very… Weird. Because you can be a professional in a special field, it doesn’t mean your contribution will be accepted, just because your source is not coming from a ‘reliable source’, even if YOU are this reliable source.

There are other problems as well, but I think those are the most important ones.

What do you think about it? If you could change anything or everything to Wikipedia, what would you do?

@nutomic
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127M

I would say the main problem with Wikipedia is the fact that it is all controlled by a single organisation in the United States. So no matter where someone lives or which language of Wikipedia they want to contribute to, in the end that organisation in the United States can decide whether or not it is acceptable. That might not be so bad for things like math or science, where an objective truth exists. But when it comes to topics like politics, there are many groups who hold different opinions, and it is impossible to give an objective truth.

The best way to solve this problem is likely with completely separate wiki instances run by different countries, organisations or political groups. These could use ActivityPub to federate with each other, and share some of the articles. For example, articles about math could be shared across most instances, while each instance might have its own version of an article for a controversial political topic.

Implementing something like that seems very hard though, and so far I dont think anyone has tried to implement a federated wiki.

@copacetic
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Ward Cunningham the original wiki inventor has also invented a federated wiki. Seems to be quite dead though.

@nutomic
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The layout/ux is really complicated, most people would probably not use it for that reason alone.

SnowCode
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Yes, but there’s worse: to edit a page, you need to host an instance of the wiki yourself.

Dessalines
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I wonder how that would handle article conflicts.

SnowCode
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I think it works using forks, which means several versions can coexist. You can accept or decline a fork of another user on your instance.

@Niquarl
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To be honest Wikipedia has done a pretty good job of keeping most things civil and respectful without going into US propaganda. Also, it should be noted that differences do de facto exists between languages.

SnowCode
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deleted by creator

You may be interested in these articles:

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/06/11/meet-wikipedias-ayn-rand-loving-founder-and-wikimedia-foundations-regime-change-operative-ceo/

https://medium.com/@kamy1/racist-wikipedia-da005c564d13

We also have a work in progress at prolewiki: https://en.prolewiki.org/wiki/Wikipedia, with more sources in the references tab.

Wikipedia was designed to be all you listed and more. One thing they didn’t touch on in those two articles (IIRC, it’s been a while since I read them) is that Wikipedia doesn’t allow primary sources, but that just means you need someone to cite you. If a newspaper publishes your story, then you can cite yourself through that paper. Likewise if you write an opinion piece. There was kind of a scandal a few months ago when we found out several journalists got their stories fed straight from the CIA or NSA, and pretty much printed whatever these agencies told them to print. This is an example of a primary source that can make its way on Wikipedia for the benefit of the CIA. And of course there’s all the disallowed sources such as the Grayzone, just because they printed a couple unflattering stories on Wikipedia (such as the one linked above).

Anyway, I doubt much can be salvaged from Wikipedia. If the foundation or Jimmy Wales wanted to save it, they would remove all administrators and create new policies. It requires uprooting the whole establishment at wikipedia. Wales is aware of these issues and clearly doesn’t care about them, so I don’t see wikipedia changing any time soon.

However, projects such as prolewiki and other wikis aim to build their own base of knowledge free from wikipedia. While they still depend on wikimedia software, I think this is a step in the right direction so as to break away from wikipedia’s monopoly.

Dessalines
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66M

That 2-part grayzone article is a great intro for why wikimedia cannot be trusted when it comes to politics or anything that goes against its pro-US bias.

@robb
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I don’t think that Wikipedia being hard to edit due to too many rules is a bad thing, editing a Wiki article should be a well defined process. I do think that there should be many different ways of contributing to Wikipedia.

On your second point, we must “advertise” not only wikipedia as a resource, but also contributing to Wikipedia globally. Lots of people seem to not know that you can edit Wikipedia content.

And for your last point, when dealing with remote written content, personal experience cannot be taken as a source. So you need to rely on the scientific way of addressing sources.

@ff0000
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If the article in question is something that needs sources that are scientific. What if you want to update a page about a band (for example) you are actually in, are you then not one of the valid sources? (I think @SnowCode@lemmy.ml is referring to this).

@drop
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25M

The main issue is that it needs to be verifiable. If you do original research and write on the basis of your own knowledge, there’s no (easy) way for anyone else to verify that what you wrote is true. The trust is on that one person who claims to have experience with what they wrote. @Niquarl@lemmy.ml mentioned the second main issue which is bias. If you’re writing about a topic that is close to you that has multiple viewpoints, what you’re writing is most likely going to be biased toward that view. Wikipedia can’t just have “the truth” about a topic that people disagree about through consensus. It’s job is to only list the different viewpoint and to tell how prevalent those viewpoints are.

If the topic is notable, you’re likely to find a good source that talks about that topic, if you can’t find a source for that (regardless of how true you think that fact is), then too bad.

SnowCode
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37M

In deed that was one of the thing I got in mind. I don’t think the academic writing rules can be applied to any topic the same way.

@robb
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Oh that makes sense. In that case I guess Wikipedia could use a way to verify “original source” of information. if they don’t have that already

@Niquarl
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I think the idea is to try to get less bias. A lot of French MPs offices edit their MPs page, sometimes not even malicious but sometimes just reorganising critiques or whatever. Wikipedia has had to ban a couple of IP adresses because of this.

@ff0000
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16M

In a lot of cases that makes indeed sense, that if i create a personal wikipedia page and declare myself person awesome the awesomenest and emperor of the world that that will not fly. But academic writing rules can’t be fully translated to be talking about people, or groups, or particular things. It really depends on the topic which ruleset you can apply (and i guess Wikipedia is trying to do that).

@Niquarl
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I suppose you could say that an academic could write a paper about it then use that as their source? Maybe a form of verified accounts could be implemented into wikipedia in a sort of test run.

@AgreeableLandscape
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My professors always told me this: when doing any serious research, only use Wikipedia for the linked sources, and read those instead of the article.

@nutomic
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The way wikipedia chooses its sources is also very problematic. Many good sources are not allowed at all. This comment has some details.

@AgreeableLandscape
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That IS alarming. I guess because I only really use it for science and technology research, I haven’t really noticed.

@dengismceo
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great question!

i use wikipedia all the time. i think the biggest issue, by far, is bias. it is a huge hurdle. even if the articles cited only scientific journals, there would still be lots of ingrained bias (who conducted the study? what were their methods? who paid for it? how reliable is the journal? have the results been reproduced? why was this study cited instead of a different one? etc)

perhaps a way to address bias would to be seeking out multiple sources that contradict each other. then when the article is written, if these opposing sources have the same information, that is presented with all sources cited. if the sources contradict each other, the information is presented individually. ex.: “[source] reported [information] [citation]. However, [different source] reported [different information] [citation]”

a second way, along the lines of what you have suggested, would be getting more people involved (translators included!) i don’t know what the best answer is but i do know that it can absolutely be improved!

@roastpotatothief
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47M

That must be the best solution - change the format so articles naturally have different sections with different perspectives on the same issue.

Instead of “mark this article as biased so it can be fixed” the true online encyclopaedia of knowledge will have “this article is biased - as a section with an opposing, complementary perspective”

This is brilliant. Somebody make this.

This is exactly why climate change denying became popular and acceptable, because the media thought they had to represent counter arguments for everything, no matter how big the consensus among scientists was. Adding different viewpoints just for the sake of it will not fix biases but introduce other ones.

@Ordoviz
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That bias is called “undue weight”. Wikipedia has a policy to avoid it.

@Niquarl
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I’m not one to be overly optimistic about using interesting and investment profits to fund stuff but when less than 6% of spending is used on the absolutely necessary then indeed that could be a good idea. Quite clearly it seems like they could even save up to have 10,20,30 years in the next couple of years. I had no idea they were spending so much money (a lot I’m sure justified) yet still that’s pretty disgusting to donors imo. I will not be donating anytime soon for sure.

@nutomic
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26M

Wow this is very interesting, in the first years they barely managed to spend 50% of their income, and even now its only 75%. So their net assets have gone up by double digit percentages every single year. I wonder which bank holds all that money.

@ufrafecy
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deleted by creator

@Echedenyan
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deleted by creator

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