Wikipedia woes / Columns / The Foreigner

The Foreigner Wikipedia woes. COMMENTARY: Wikipedia is by far the most used encyclopaedia in Norway, as elsewhere. The country also contributes significantly to Wikipedia, with now there are more than half a million Wikipedia articles in Norwegian, four in five in Bokmål, one in five in Nynorsk. Yet the prevailing WikiPeace in Norway was disrupted this past November. The WikiPeace disruption came about when Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales chastised Wikimedia Norway Vice Chairman Erlend Bjørtvedt on the Wikipedia User talk pages. He contended that Mr. Bjørtvedt, Vice President of Telenor Governmental Relations, acted improperly last June in editing the English language Wikipedia entry on Telenor. Mr. Bjørtvedt disagrees, saying his editing of the entry was limited to updating facts and figures to current ones.                   In 29 November 2013 issue of Norwegian cultural weekly Morgenbladet, journalist Anders Firing Lunde pointed out the crux of the disruption lay in differing perceptions of conflict of interest. It was a comprehensive overview of the matter.

wikipedia, wikipedianorway



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The Foreigner is an online publication for English speakers living or who have an interest in Norway. Whether it’s a glimpse of news or entertainment you’re after, there’s no need to leave your linguistic armchair. You don’t need to cry over the demise of the English pages of Aftenposten.no, The Foreigner is here!

Norske nyheter på engelsk fra Norge. The Foreigner er en engelskspråklig internett avis for de som bor eller som er interessert i Norge.

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Wikipedia woes

Published on Monday, 9th December, 2013 at 07:06 under the columns category, by M. Michael Brady.

COMMENTARY: Wikipedia is by far the most used encyclopaedia in Norway, as elsewhere. The country also contributes significantly to Wikipedia, with now there are more than half a million Wikipedia articles in Norwegian, four in five in Bokmål, one in five in Nynorsk. Yet the prevailing WikiPeace in Norway was disrupted this past November.



The WikiPeace disruption came about when Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales chastised Wikimedia Norway Vice Chairman Erlend Bjørtvedt on the Wikipedia User talk pages. He contended that Mr. Bjørtvedt, Vice President of Telenor Governmental Relations, acted improperly last June in editing the English language Wikipedia entry on Telenor. Mr. Bjørtvedt disagrees, saying his editing of the entry was limited to updating facts and figures to current ones.                  

In 29 November 2013 issue of Norwegian cultural weekly Morgenbladet, journalist Anders Firing Lunde pointed out the crux of the disruption lay in differing perceptions of conflict of interest. It was a comprehensive overview of the matter.

Jimmy Wales favours clearly defined rules that ease decision-making. Since 2006, he has asked public-relations professionals to follow the bright-line rule and refrain from changing their company’s or client’s Wikipedia entries through direct editing, but rather request changes via talk pages. Application of a bright-line rule to Wikipedia aims to ensure its objectivity.

Yet breaches of Wikipedia’s objectivity have occurred. A serious one came to light last November. After a year-long investigation, Wikipedia editors alleged that Wiki-PR of Austin, Texas had created more than 300 sockpuppet accounts to edit entries about clients. Wikipedia lawyers accordingly sent a cease-and-desist letter to Wiki-PR, banning it from using sockpuppet accounts to edit its clients’ entries. Understandably, Wikipedia is wary of any incident seemingly involving paid advocacy.

Telenor’s Mr.Bjørtvedt’s views reflect the realities of professional activities in a small country. ‘We (of Wikimedia Norway) are sustained by people writing about the organisations in which they are employed. They have first-hand knowledge. Without their contributions, the Norwegian Wikipedia would not be as comprehensive and updated an encyclopaedia as it is today,’ he is reported to have said.

He appears not to have exact figures on how many contributors write about their workplaces, but knows that many are employed by companies, schools, museums, religious communities and universities. For example, greater parts of the Wikipedia entry on the University of Oslo were written by the staff of the university’s Communications Department.

In short, he points out, ‘Wikipedia in Norway and the other Nordic countries have more liberal practices than those for contributions to the English-language version of Wikipedia.’

Future Wikipedia contributions in Norway may or may not be subject to strict interpretation of the bright-line rule or be judged by its opposite. At the same time, the balancing test in which results depend – weighing several factors – reflects an ethical debate that has been going on for centuries in almost all sectors of human activity.

The basic question may be unanswerable: As Pontius Pilate asked, “What is truth?” (Bible, John 18:38).

Terms:

Bright-line rule designates a standard of conduct with no leeway for variation of interpretation. A mid 20th century legal neologism that takes its name from spectroscopy, a discipline of physics in which each chemical element can be uniquely identified by its characteristic radiation of bright lines of light of differing colours.

meatpuppet perjorative term for suspicious online behaviours, such as new online community members being recruited by existing members to support their positions. Predates the Internet. Designates a real individual (‘meat’) as opposed to a fictitious one. Often used to describe sockpuppet behaviour.

sockpuppet a false online identity used to deceive; may be a pseudonym of a real person or a contrived fictitious identity. First appeared in the mid 1990s. From ‘sock puppet’, a simple puppet made from a sock fitted over and moved by a hand; a person whose actions are controlled by another, a minion.

wiki a web page designed so its content may be edited by anyone using a simplified markup language. First appeared in print in 1995. From ‘wiki’, the Hawaiian word for ‘quick’.

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Published on Monday, 9th December, 2013 at 07:06 under the columns category, by M. Michael Brady.

This post has the following tags: wikipedia, wikipedianorway.





  
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