Wiki

Industry Canada working overtime to remove copyright act criticism from wikipedia

Michael Geist picked up a story about how Industry Canada staff are systematically trying to edit Wikipedia pages, deleting criticism of the new 'Canadian DMCA'. I say 'systematically' because certain text was deleted multiple times after being restored, and the edits come from the same IP range. And it's limited to a few specific points: criticism *of* the proposed act, and the fact that nobody in Canada wants it: only the US Big Media conglomerates.

Arguments for Open Source

Intelligent Designs has an excellent writeup of the arguments for using open source in wikipedia.

Most of the standard reasons are covered: lower cost, more customizable, more secure, not having to worry about vendor lock-in or vendor abandonment. It's a good discussion: I'd never thought about it in this way before.

Finding a User-agent string when you need one

The Wikipedia article on User Agents has a lot of useful information.. particularly the long list of user-agents for different browser+OS combinations near the end of the article. I tend to use it regularly when I need to mimic a user-agent, say, for the purposes of downloading something with wget when a site refuses 'robot' downloaders.

Ah, the fun of spoofing

Wikipedia Tips: Area Codes

If you want information on an area code, the fastest way I've found is to go to Wikipedia and search for the string 'Area code' + the area code for which you want information. E.g. Area code 902.

Most of the area code pages also give information on which telephone exchanges correspond to geographic areas.

In many cases, the page will also give a lot of useless, though interesting, trivia on the history of the area code -- e.g. 902 was once shared by four Canadian provinces, but now is only shared by two.

If you've got some time to burn, you can try to understand the E.164 standard for telephone numbers (*shudder*).

US Government officials censor the public record

Currently there's an interesting edit war on at wikipedia about a US Congressman named Marty Meehan, whose staff apparently have edited his biography on wikipedia to remove text regarding a promise he made to serve no more than 4 terms. The Lowell Sun article I've linked to moved very quickly in reporting on the situation - I'm amazed, and very proud. Tomorrow, this will be all around the net, and text indicating that Mr Meehan promised to serve no more than four terms in office will be as well. Mr Meehan, you should probably fire everyone responsible for this, as they've messed up big time.

Wikipedia as Battleground

Occasionally, Wikipedia is unfortunately used as a battleground for people, who come in and do all sorts of antisocial things - page blankings, revert wars, personal insults. Some of the time, hordes of new people stampede onto the site in response to a posting on an email list or web forum saying that the wikipedia page on $TOPIC has found its way onto the Articles for Deletion section. Usually this involves lots of anonymous voting to keep the article.

English Wikipedia limits page creation to registered users

As a result of this discussion there is an ongoing experiment about restricting page creation on the English Wikipedia to registered users.

The intent of this is to slow the creation of nonesense pages. Having done a bit of 'new page patrol' in my time, and having spent much time in the VFD section, this should have some interesting results. There is an incredible amount of crap flying around wikipedia: most of it nonsense or vanity pages. Such things detract from the project's image, and cause a useless load on the servers. As the server load is incredibly high, any slowing of a load increase that doesn't contribute to the growth of the wikipedia is a worthwhile one.

Only time will tell.

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