Thursday, February 14, 2008

 

We need attention, so let's insult Wikipedia

Pete Forsyth posted the well-deserved rant at a local historical society to the Portland Wiki-Wednesday list:


Folks,

Today's Oregonian carried a story about a joint project, http://oregonencyclopedia.org , by the Oregon Historical Society and the Portland State University History Department. In short, they're preparing the site for the state's 2009 sesquicentennial celebration, and soliciting $1 to 2 million to fund the project.

http://www.oregonlive.com/living/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/living/1202865909212180.xml&coll=7

Unfortunately, OHS presented their project in contrast with Wikipedia, in terms that are both unflattering and ill-informed.

In the last week, Wikiproject Oregon got the Oregon Portal, an introduction to Wikipedia's Oregon-related content, to "Featured Portal" status, joining only 98 other portals in the world. Last month, the article on the Oregon State Capitol was featured on the front page of Wikipedia, drawing over 22,000 visitors in a single day. But our proudest accomplishment is the collegial environment we're building, in which diverse Oregonians have collaborated to shed light on innumerable interesting bits of Oregon history. Even including a couple significant corrections to the historical record. All this has been accomplished without a single financial donation (although Wikipedia as a whole does solicit donations worldwide.)

Please check out related discussion here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Oregon#Dissed_by_the_OHS!

We will be working up a press release of our own, and hope to generate some press coverage for our project.

I am also considering buying a few domain names, such as oregonencyclopedia.com or oregonwiki.org, and having them point to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Oregon


As Aboutmovies noted in the discussion on Wikipedia, "I guess having their site up for a few months wasn't working (what 20 entries) so they had to issue a press release. Though I fail to see much of a difference. They want volunteer writers, we have volunteer writers. They want reliable, we want reliable. They just have access to a crap load of good pictures. Otherwise I'm not impressed. Looks like Oregon History Project II, wikistyle."

Sheesh, at least Larry Singer has a reason to be pick on Wikipedia. These folks could have played it smart, put the material under a free license, used the articles in Wikipedia as a starting point and improved them, then encouraged Wikipedia to reuse their content to fix our shortcomings. No, they decided to offend the largest body of the volunteers they need, then start saying that they need money -- and put their content under a restrictive license.

With diplomatic smarts like that, I bet you all that in 12 months the site will be dead.

Geoff

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Comments:
These folks could have played it smart, put the material under a free license, used the articles in Wikipedia as a starting point and improved them, then encouraged Wikipedia to reuse their content to fix our shortcomings.

Did this ever happen? Do Wikipedians use articles that have been improved on other wikis?
 
Torsen, I'll give you my honest answer: I don't know.

I would like to think that this process does happen. The fact people submit a lot of content from the public domain and other sites with free license, as well as the perennial problems of copyright violations, shows that I am not unrealistic in this expectation. People would rather copy or rewrite existing text than start from a blank page.

I took a look at the site in question before writing that, and there is no clear statement about reusing their content -- so what they write won't be appearing in Wikipedia -- or alternatives like Citizendium -- soon. Maybe they were worried about schoolkids plagiarizing their content, but that would be a drastic solution for a chronic, yet minor problem.

Geoff
 
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