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Posts Tagged ‘Wikipedia’

15 biggest Wikipedia blunders

A selection of goofs, from celebs eating pets to politicians’ early deaths

Wikipedia’s just announced plans to restrict the editing of some of its articles. Under the new system, any changes made to pages of still-living people will have to be approved by an “experienced volunteer” before going online.

The change marks a significant shift in the philosophy of the openly edited user-controlled encyclopedia — and that may not be a bad thing. Here are 15 of the biggest Wikipedia blunders the new editing system might have prevented. These false facts, according to widely published accounts, all appeared on the Wikipedia site at some point.

1. Robbie Williams eats domestic pets in pubs for money.

To be fair, we can’t disprove this statement, which popped up on the singer’s Wikipedia page in 2006. But we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

2. David Beckham was a Chinese goalkeeper in the 18th century.

And you thought scoring Posh Spice was impressive. 

3. Paul Reiser’s dead.

If you fell for this 2008 Wikipedia hoax, well — let’s just say I’m not so mad about you. 

4. Sinbad’s dead.

Couldn’t tell ya what he’s actually doing these days, but contrary to a 2007 Wikipedia claim, Sinbad is still around. 

5. Sergey Brin’s sexy, dating Jimmy Wales, and dead.

The Google god’s Wikipedia page has seen more changes than his company’s seen betas. Remarks on Sergey Brin’s bio have claimed he’s gay and dating Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales; he’s dead, having ended his life in Moscow; and he’s “sexy.” 

(I’ll leave the judgment on the last one up to you.)

6. Tony Blair worships Hitler.

The former British prime minister was a regular target for Wikipedia tampering. That’s what we read on Wikipedia, anyway. 

7. The Duchess of Cornwall’s Christian name is Cow-miller.

Anyone else suddenly have a hankering for a hamburger?

8. The University of Cincinnati’s former president is a whore.

Former University of Cincinnati president Nancy Zimpher was listed as a “prostitute” and a “witch” on her Wikipedia page. Good thing it wasn’t true, as that would make for one dangerous combination. 

9. Robert Byrd’s dead.

United States Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia was pronounced dead by Wikipedia in January of this year. The senator was resurrected by a Wikipedia correction a short time later. 

10. Ted Kennedy died in January.

Months before this week’s news that Ted Kennedy had passed away, his Wikipedia page reported his death. The entry said Kennedy had died following his seizure at January’s presidential inauguration. 

11. John Seigenthaler helped assassinate John and Robert Kennedy.

The retired journalist wrote a full editorial about his Wikipedia ordeal, in which he was accused of being somehow involved in the assassinations of both John and Robert Kennedy. The errant info, Seigenthaler says, was on the site for four and a half months. 

12. A yacht killed British TV presenter Vernon Kay.

That’s a rough way to go. Especially when it never happened.

13. Conan O’Brien assaults sea turtles while canoeing.

Stephen Colbert was to blame for this hoax. I can’t decide which is more unbelievable: that Conan assaulted a sea turtle, or that he went canoeing. 

14. British TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh published a new version of the Kama Sutra.

He did, however, slap stickers on a bikini model for ratings. 

15. Sienna Miller has modeled nude.

I don’t care if it’s not true — I’m still going to require proof on this one.

The Oldest Surviving Web Pages

There are still some web pages out there that have not been modified since the very earliest days of the world wide web.

Some of these ghosts of the internet date right back to the very early 1990s – alongside today’s flash and multimedia-rich extravaganzas, they may look creakingly dated but, amazingly, they still work.

Click on any of the titles to visit the sites.

CNN Time Warner’s 1996 Year in Review

Some of the links on this page don’t work and the colours are somewhat gaudy but it seems incredible that this relic is still here almost 13 years after its creation.

NCAR About Temperature

Prepared for science teachers by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, this page about temperature was last updated in December 1995 and sits on the servers at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.

Pinball Expo 1994

We have no idea how much of a blast the 1994 Pinball Expo was, but it must have been memorable because most of the site’s links still work.

The Best Page in the Universe ’98

Why this page was the best in the universe of 1998, we have no idea. But it must have been good for it still to be sat there 11 years later. The comment links still work, too.

Wikipedia UuU

OK, so it’s only nine years old but this page has the oldest surviving Wikipedia edit.

Jackie Chan’s autobiography

We realise that Jackie Chan remains immensely popular but is Random House really still trying to sell this book given that the page dates from 1998?

Strawberry Pop-Tart Blow-Torches

A famous site that apparently kept millions amused for several months. Were you one of them?

A little history of the world wide web

This relic says that it was updated in 2000 but it’s hard to believe that any major changes have been made to it since the late 1990s.

Links and Anchors

This is the granddaddy. The page – the least recently modified page on the web – was one of the original Tim Berners-Lee world wide web pages on Cern’s servers where the web originated. Sadly, the main pages have long since disappeared but this fragment was last updated in 1992.

Wikipedia goes with "Flagged revisions": Emphasizes importance of discipline in Crowd Sourcing

Crowd-sourcing to create an online repository of data/information has been a masterstroke from Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia! However, monitoring content in flow and validating data to be “clean” is key to building credibility. A little bit of censorship/discipline of data may actually favor Crowd-sourcing and content democratization!
Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia launched by American entrepreneur Jimmy Wales in 2001 with the idealistic intention of being an online repository of all human knowledge, announced this week that it would have to abandon one of its founding principles. To combat a growing amount of vandalism on the website, all entries would be edited before they go up on the site. Wiki announced this on August 31st and will conduct a pilot run over the next fortnight to assess the data validity, cleanliness on these lines.
Previously, any user was allowed to make – almost – any change to any entry: this was hailed as part of the democratizing power of the internet. But a sharp increase in false information – particularly in relation to people still alive – has forced a rethink.

How did the Wikipedia work before?
Wales has been feted as a brilliant business mind and social innovator for tapping into a popular impulse to add to public knowledge that few people knew existed, and even fewer publicly predicted.
Wikipedia still works largely by allowing anybody to login as a user and click on an “Edit this page” tab at the top of an entry. From there it’s simply a case of making changes and saving them, albeit according to a policy on “biographies of living persons”.
Any changes are then filed under the “Edit history” of the page, and the IP address – a numbered identity that shows where the change has been made from – is also kept on record. Pages that contain unverified information are highlighted.
Wiki introduces “Flagged Revisions”
The new policy is referred to as “flagged revisions”. It allows editors to adjudicate (mainly through reference to other news sources) on changes made to the pages of a living person. The flagged revisions will be rolled out by September15th,2009, and Wikimedia, the non-profit organisation that runs the website, will monitor users responses over the trial period.
A team of “experienced volunteer editors” will oversee amendments to such pages. “We are no longer at the point where it is acceptable to throw things at the wall and see what sticks”, said Michael Snow, chairman of the Wikimedia board.
And Mike Peel, its UK spokesman, clarified the intention: “Anyone can continue to edit these articles, but the work of inexperienced editors with less than three days’ experience will be subject to review by more experienced editors”, he said. “This is our attempt to create a buffer to ensure that editors do not commit acts of vandalism.”

Seven Offbeat Approaches to Mapping the World (Past, Present and Future)

Ever wonder what the world really looks like through someone else’s eyes? Representations of the planet have changed with the times as have the people who made them. These are just a few strange, innovative and/or humorous examples past, present and future.
Cartograms such as those above are a way to represent statistical information in visual form, expanding and contracting areas of a typical map to show various kinds of information and a readily understandable format. Above are a map of the world showing resource distribution and a map of American political affiliations. For more technology empowered mapping, see the US’s evolving obesity over time and energy production potential as well as this map of world economic activity.
Ever have trouble finding a date? Well, this map may be for you! National Geographic did a survey and mapped the relative proportions of female and male singles throughout the United States. The result: a relative abundance of men on the West Coast and women on the East Coast, so choose accordingly! Maybe West Coast should spend less time looking at maps of the Star Wars and Star Trek universes and pick up some maps that made history.
Ever wonder what the world looked like 500 years ago? It used to be that high-resolution world maps like the one above were kept (at best) in glass cases in museums or (at worse) were secreted away in vaults. Now antique maps are readily available to the world via sites like Wikipedia and are changing the way (and resolution) in which we look at the pas
Ever write or draw maps or directions on your hand? Believe it or not this is nothing new. These gloves were created for the 1850 Great Exhibition in London and enabled visitors to easily find their way. Imagine the possibilities of this in the digital age: an ever-shifting GPS-based glove map that changes orientation and location with the wearer!

There have been many attempts to ‘map the internet‘ in various forms and with differing degrees of success. Some of these are more convincing than others, such as the first series above that depicts information transfer overlaid on a world map. Some simply make points about the relationships of key internet players in a familiar way, such as the subway map of the internet. Another curious internet phenomenon: here is a list of places blurred out from Google Earth.
With the past and the present covered, what about the future? Well, scientists have developed a map of what the world is predicted to look like in 250 million years that bears a remarkable resemblance what scientists speculated the world did look like in the equally distant past. This Future World, like Pangea, is a place where all of the continents are again pushed together to form one or two mega-continents.

MyWeb Search, One Click Meta Search Engine

I stumbled upon this simple meta search engine ‘MyWebSearch‘, well, not quite a meta search engine but almost close to what I always wanted – one click search it all engine. I wanted to know more about this unique search engine and a search in Wik…

Doomed: Why Wikipedia Will Fail

From Ars Technica:

A cyberlaw professor argues that Wikipedia is doomed. The online encyclopedia will need to choose between being “high quality” and “open,” but both choices are fraught with risk.

Law professor Eric Goldman loves Wikipedia, but he’s also convinced that the site contains the “seeds of its own destruction.” In other words, not to put too fine a point upon it, Wikipedia will fail.

Goldman made his provocative point at the Silicon Flatirons conference this weekend in Boulder, Colorado, standing at a heavy wooden podium in a multiuse room that had been donated to the University of Colorado by a graduating class back in the 1960s. Those students could not have foreseen Wikipedia at the time, but by 2008, everyone gathered in that room—from corporate vice presidents to think tank bosses to academics—had made use of the collaborative online encyclopedia.


Scientists Discover Material Harder Than Diamond

Photo: A diamond ring. Scientists have calculated that wurtzite boron nitride and lonsdaleite (hexagonal diamond) both have greater indentation strengths than diamond. Source: English Wikipedia.

(PhysOrg.com) — Currently, diamond is regarded to be the hardest known material in the world. But by considering large compressive pressures under indenters, scientists have calculated that a material called wurtzite boron nitride (w-BN) has a greater indentation strength than diamond. The scientists also calculated that another material, lonsdaleite (also called hexagonal diamond, since it’s made of carbon and is similar to diamond), is even stronger than w-BN and 58 percent stronger than diamond, setting a new record.

This analysis marks the first case where a material exceeds diamond in strength under the same loading conditions, explain the study’s authors, who are from Shanghai Jiao Tong University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The study is published in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters.


Britannica 2.0 Shows Wikipedia How It's Done

From Times Online:

The 240-year-old Encyclopaedia Britannica has taken a giant leap into the world of Web 2.0 with the launch of a new online version where users can contribute and edit content.

In a move that takes it head to head with Wikipedia, new features on the Britannica site will allow users to edit and contribute articles in return for the glory of having their name attached to the submission.

However, “voyeuristic” Wikipedia fans ought not to get too excited by the changes as all submissions will undergo a strict vetting process and may or may not make the cut, according to Britannica ‘s president, Jorge Cauz.

“We’re not trying to be a wiki – that’s the last thing we want to be,” Mr Cauz told The Times.


How Ancient Greeks Chose Temple Locations

The ancient Greek Temple of Hera in Selinunte, also knowns as “temple E”,
at Castelvetrano, in Sicily, Italy. Image from Wikipedia

From Live Science:

To honor their gods and goddesses, ancient Greeks often poured blood or wine on the ground as offerings. Now a new study suggests that the soil itself might have had a prominent role in Greek worship, strongly influencing which deities were venerated where.

In a survey of eighty-four Greek temples of the Classical period (480 to 338 B.C.), Gregory J. Retallack of the University of Oregon in Eugene studied the local geology, topography, soil, and vegetation — as well as historical accounts by the likes of Herodotus, Homer, and Plato — in an attempt to answer a seemingly simple question: why are the temples where they are?

No clear pattern emerged until he turned to the gods and goddesses. It was then that he discovered a robust link between the soil on which a temple stood and the deity worshiped there.


Astronomers Get A Sizzling Weather Report From A Distant Planet

Photo from Spitzer Space Telescope (Wikipedia)

From E! Science News:

Astronomers have observed the intense heating of a distant planet as it swung close to its parent star, providing important clues to the atmospheric properties of the planet. The observations enabled astronomers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, to generate realistic images of the planet by feeding the data into computer simulations of the planet’s atmosphere. “We can’t get a direct image of the planet, but we can deduce what it would look like if you were there. The ability to go beyond an artist’s interpretation and do realistic simulations of what you would actually see is very exciting,” said Gregory Laughlin, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC. Laughlin is lead author of a new report on the findings published this week in Nature.

The researchers used NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to obtain infrared measurements of the heat emanating from the planet as it whipped behind and close to its star. In just six hours, the planet’s temperature rose from 800 to 1,500 Kelvin (980 to 2,240 degrees Fahrenheit).