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The Longest Now

Adam Curry and the poison pen
Wednesday December 07th 2005, 1:18 pm
Filed under: poetic justice

Adam Curry edited his own encyclopedia entry.  Well, the
podcasting article, to be precise.  How do we know?  He
admits it.  But before he admitted it, and before he admitted his
edits were wrong, the community sussed it out.  Details below…

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Community metrics: Size
Wednesday December 07th 2005, 1:16 pm
Filed under: metrics

I have seen many estimates of the size
of Wikipedia’s community; all of them too low.  And what surprises
me most of all is that noone cares much about the lack of real metrics
in their speech, their writing, their journalism, their research. 
Okay, that last is going a bit far; many researchers are very careful
about defining their metrics and terms.  But this is what makes
those which are not stick out so severely.

Here are some basic statistics, care of Erik Zachte’s scripts, the Wikimedia Foundation’s server farms, and over 100,000 active contributors over the past four years (user statistics often exclude the 15% of edits which come from editors without named accounts).

To the point of the user community: 

  • There are more than 15,000 active English-language editors, at least 1500 of them editing ‘very actively’ — 100 times a month.
  • There are 30,000 active editors, and 4,500 very active editors, in all languages combined.

Just to reiterate the casual power of thousands of zealous volunteers
with a variety of content-addictions, some of the scripted data above
has a hand-generated and hand-updated wiki cousin, with its own original additions.

As for where I personally draw the line at counting community size, I
would say the English Wikipedia has this year passed the
10,000-volunteer mark, and is currently around 20,000.  We would
know better if we counted not only edits but page-views
user… there are those who edit infrequently but keep up with all
aspects of the community; and also many who edit occasionally but
haven’t taken
time to learn the community policies or norms; which one might discount.

I would estimate 60,000 in the ‘copyediting’ community (active
readers, familiar with the interface, acting as typo and vandalism
monitors; and anonymous contributors), and ten times again as many
regular readers – around 500,000.  

For all languages combined : 40,000 volunteers, perhaps 120,000 in the
‘copyediting’ community (people in other langs are on average less
likely to understand that they can edit; which I would expect to grow more than linearly
with the size of the community and press coverage in that language),
and some 2M active readers.

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Good Samaritans : the strength of ten normal men?
Wednesday December 07th 2005, 12:31 pm
Filed under: metrics

There’s been some hubbub lately about the usefulness of anonymous
contributions to the information commons.  In particular, Monday
saw a somewhat ad-hoc test of the effect on forcing account-creation on
the quality of contributions to the* English Wikipedia.

I have some statistics of my own to add about that particular
experiment.  However, for the moment I would simply like to point
to a lovely Wikipedia contribution analysis, “Explaining Quality in Internet Collective Goods: Zealots and Good Samaritans in the case of Wikipedia” (pdf) by researcher Denise Anthony, who presented it this past Monday at MIT.  Her research suggested to her that “the highest quality contributions come from the vast numbers of anonymous ‘Good Samaritans’ who contribute infrequently.”

* Note : the direct article is appropriate here because of the
“English” adjective before Wikipedia. For more detail, see my old reply
to JDL at Joho’s house.

Good Samaritans : the strength of ten normal men? …

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…or, How I Learned To Love The Wiki
Tuesday December 06th 2005, 7:08 pm
Filed under: chain-gang

Snapshot, less than a week out:

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Seigenthaler and Wales square off on CNN
Monday December 05th 2005, 6:26 pm
Filed under: poetic justice

The interviewer wasn’t pleased with her own Wikipedia entry. She ran a fine
interview, though. The segment was longer than most of the CNN segments
that hour. Both Seigenthaler and Jimbo looked a little beat; from
stalking himself on the wiki and tussling with the floor, respectively.

CNN is great about maintaining their own transcripts. Happily, the
local news division had the program on the projection screen in their
main conference room.

Seigenthaler and Wales square off on CNN …

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Wikipedia watching : Steve Rubel, Islam
Thursday December 01st 2005, 11:05 am
Filed under: popular demand

Steve Rubel outdoes himself with some wikipedia hacks for newcomers, and just today promotes WP to disruptive monarch.  He seems to have a growing love affair with the project, but expresses that enthusiasm in odd ways.

Meanwhile, the Finnish Wikipedia’s article on Islam was panned by Finnish economics magazine Taloussanomat (here I link to their pda-friendly site; their main pager crashes my Firefox),
which did a sampling of WP articles and gave it a rating of 1/10. 
It is worth noting that the Hebrew and Russian language-versions of the
article ( אסלאם and Исла́м, respectively ) have been featured as excellent articles in their languages; the English article Islam, on the other hand, failed a recent featured-article candidacy (though it remains on the new and growing list of  ‘good articles‘ [which I hope to see expand to 2% of the entire work]) and — while full of information — could use some cleaning up.

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A Stallman DRMmas
Thursday December 01st 2005, 9:55 am
Filed under: %a la mod

If you’re feeling down, just check out these photos from the DRM protest at NYU last night. As Dave Winer would say, Fabulous.

A Stallman DRMmas …

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Puritan Christmas
Thursday December 01st 2005, 3:14 am
Filed under: %a la mod

From the Town of Arlington‘s mailing list:  

our Protestant Puritan Forefathers explicitly forbade any celebration of the Christmas Holiday as it was an invitation to debauchery and prideful behavior.

What foresight…  I love that list, and this town.

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