Can Everipedia remake collaborative encyclopedias to be inclusive and enjoyable?


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/06/12/can-everipedia-remake-collabor.html


#2

This seems interesting, I hope it gains some success and perhaps the competition will get Wikipedia to step up their game.


#3

‘For profit’ may prove to be the kiss of death. ‘Profit’ usually means ‘advertisers’ (although they’re not always called that) and ‘advertisers’ usually mean strong pressure on content, since he who pays the piper calls the tune. Profit also suggests a significant motivation to exercise IP restrictions, the death of the free flow of information, and of course as is inherent in capitalism, domination and exploitation of a working class and thus class war and its unfortunate consequences, like sabotage, make-work, empire-building, and so on. Not that Wikipedia doesn’t have its problems too.


#4

The more I read of this article, with the inclusion of gifs and photos and the ha ha sriracha! tee-shirts, and focus on the personality of the editors, the more I started feeling like this project seems more like a social media start-up jokingly structured as an encyclopedia…

oh, ok yeah, that’s exactly what this will be. So the money will come from the consumers of your user data as you share, -ahem- “write articles” about “whatever interests you.”


#5

Wikia and Quora have figured out the revenue model with limited conflicts. As long as contributions are open source, I don’t care about paid editors, sponsored content, and so on until money starts to dictate content. That’s where the corruption starts. Is that inevitable in a for-profit system? Possibly, but in the meantime, maybe these guys will solve one or two problems Wikipedia etc. have found intractable.


#6

The social aspect for the site does strike me as suspect. I do appreciate incentivizing and making it compelling for more people to collaborate on providing content and information, but something about it makes me uncomfortable. I can’t quite put my finger on it.

If the site is for-profit they would be gathering data on users and popular trends and selling that info off, on top of potential paid content and ads? I’m guessing here.


#7

Sam, our CEO, is the most talented person I’ve ever met - he is the next Zuck!!"

This is not a compliment.


#8

Respectfully, this is a huge mistake.

You’re responding to a problem in process by splitting off and forming a new group, without discovering the solution to your process problem. Even if this split takes root and becomes as successful as Wikipedia (doubtful), you still have an underlying process issue that you cannot guarantee will not re-emerge.

Wikipedia ostensibly has, and is committed to, open and democratic mechanisms for reforming its policy (flawed though these mechanisms may be). Wouldn’t your efforts be better served by engaging these mechanisms and attempting to change the way Wikipedia operates (that is, actually solve your problem), rather than split off and trying from scratch?

This is not an unusual response to problems in open/democratic projects or political organizing generally (and this is a political problem), but in my opinion what you need to do is discover how to push through a reform, not give up.


#9

Can Everipedia remake collaborative encyclopedias to be inclusive and enjoyable?

Unless they’ve solved human nature, maybe not.


#10

Wikipedia encourages forks, and I believe there is always benefit from experimenting with alternate processes. Many people have tried and failed to address systemic bias and other issues on Wikipedia, only to face stiff opposition from an entrenched bureaucracy. If I were going to suggest changes, I’d impose term limits on any positions of power.


#11

Wikipedia encourages forks, but I don’t think this means forks are an effective means of change. You’ve already pointed to Larry Sanger’s Citizendium and other such efforts which came to naught. Wikipedia has (1) the entrenched network effect and (2) basically the correct form. A for-profit wikipedia, for example, is already dead in the water (and moreover, fuck that). Forking won’t help you. You need to fix wikipedia. Moreover, the act of learning how to improve a given project builds collective skills in democratic organizing, something we sorely need in the Internet age.

I think Wikipedia suffers because it doesn’t have a consistent, invested polity. For example, I was a Wikipedian for ten years and participated in a lot of early debates, but now my involvement is essentially nil (other than as a consumer). This to me means electoralism is a poor method for generating change in Wikipedia - there isn’t a vibrant space for politicking. Discussions on meta pages are abstruse and invisible to the majority of editors. If you’re interested in reforming the entrenched bureaucracy, it seems to me that your first efforts should be towards creating this political space, promoting the engagement of the average editor in the WP political process.

As for deletionists killing wikis, I recall an early debate on Wikipedia (where I think I fell in what you would term the “deletionist” camp) over the then-popular page “List of songs whose title is in the lyrics”, a fucking useless waste of time that many people loved editing. Garbage and lack of standards can also overwhelm and bury wiki projects (see: Everything2); as usual we’re stuck in a dialectic and have trouble adjudicating the synthesis of our competing needs (inclusiveness versus quality).

Again, I say, this is not a problem with the position (pro- or anti-deletionist), it is a process problem. Your beef is with the manner in which deletionism is entrenched and your inability to confront it, not with deletionism itself - which, I’ll assert, is a healthy part of any wiki when well-managed.


#12

Excellent and insightful points.

I tried and failed to bring diverse points of view to entrenched articles, and the main obstacle was entrenched editors in entrenched positions of power citing entrenched rules that they wrote and also tenaciously protect from change.

Lists are one interesting way Wikipedia diverges from the standard encyclopedia format, but I agree they can be excessive. As far as inclusionism, we probably have very different thresholds, but I find that deletionism in general and speedy deletion in particular drives more people from the project than anything else, often when they have just started as editors. I don’t have the answer to that, but they’d better find it soon.


#13

Disclosure: CTO of Everipedia

What is wrong with the citation/discussion/linking method that Wikipedia uses on a for profit site? It makes pages richer. For instance, a typical news article about a car crash will NOT link to the city that the crash occured in, would NOT link to model of the car, would NOT link to the highway that the accident occured on. Everipedia, meanwhile, would have these “blue links” to add context to the pages.

As far as reliability, Wikipedia has a catch-all talk page whereas we have that too (the page comments) as well as discussion/voting on each citation link itself.

We haven’t been pressured at all for content by advertisers. CNN has ads, but would you consider it unreliable? What about the NYT? Ads do not necessarily indicate bias.


#14

Yep. Wikipedia has its problems, but this is like Wikipedia’s problems, on steroids, with brand-new problems mixed in.


#15

This is the same idea WikiTribune is trying out, though they’re looking at it from a nonprofit, crowdsourced perspective.

Ignoring that, though, I have to agree - referenced articles, for profit or otherwise, have an amazing net benefit to the web at large. The Web is deep-linking-friendly by design, it’d be nice if more pages made use of it, not just the Wikimedia projects.


#16

I’m not clear if you use the word “inclusive” as an opposite or as a solution to what you describe here, but one possible answer is to be persistent and vigorous about defending one’s edits.

Ads are not the cause of the biases or unreliable topics with those two outlets. Thats however a bit off topic.


#17

Anyone who wants to can get in the game with their own Mediawiki.

Bottom level buy-in:

  • Raspberry Pi 3
  • Terabyte USB drive.
  • Free No-Ip registration.
  • sudo apt-get install mediawiki
  • Reasonable Internet connection.
  • Grab a number of the Wikipedia templates.

(I’d suggest closing the doors on anonymous editing and new users at the start or you’ll be crawling with advertising bots and junk edits in the first day.)

https://umbraxenu.no-ip.biz/mediawiki/index.php/Special:Statistics


#18

We actually have a news section on Everipedia (/news/) for that very reason. Right now, it is, admittedly, mostly of a tabloid nature since we are still growing. We cannot compete with the big news networks at this time for major stories, but hope to do so in the future as we keep refining the citation infrastructure. While this may lead to a “wild-west” style of news, sometimes developing stories are messy on the mainstream networks too.


#19

We built the software from the ground up, and our links are nofollow to prevent spam. We also limit new people to 15 edits before they need to be manually approved.

Mediawiki is old software, and has its benefits, but we really didn’t want to be “just another Wikipedia clone”. We really are trying to do something different, and thus, had to start from scratch. One thing that your are not seeing is that each page has structured data that is machine-readable. We didn’t just paste in HTML and leave. Enter an article URL on the Google Structured Data Testing tool and see. Wikipedia has Wikidata, but it is cumbersome to add key/value data pairs to pages. We make it easy.


#20

Great write up. I stumbled on Everipedia while looking up some breaking news and found out that one of the Founders started up Rap Genius. Traded some Tweets, was asked if I wanted to become an Editor, and seen how easy it was to use. I started sharing the links on my social media pages.

A few weeks later, after having a page on Wikipedia for over a decade, my page was removed.
http://deletionpedia.org/en/Taiwan_Brown

I love how anyone can have a page. I have seen pages made for talented kids who should be known… and missing kids, who have had pages go viral leading to them being found (along with the strength of law enforcement.)

I have made pages for Myya D. Jones (A 22-year-old, woman of color, running for Mayor of Detroit.), a few startups, Isaiah Cooper (The youngest Black Pilot to fly across the U.S.), and more.