Installing MediaWiki

I’m trying to install MediaWiki on my other site (Tag You’re It) but I must say – it’s not very easy. I have read the documentation, but it doesn’t seem to be terribly helpful.

One thing I did find, was a hack to make it so that only registered users can edit and add pages – but anyone can participate in talks. This stems from all of the controversy over Wikipedia recently – but it’s very helpful for me, since I’m converting my site from a forum to a wiki.

I’m hoping to learn a lot more about it over the next few months as I set it up and customize it, I’ll keep you all updated.

Wiki World Presentation

Meredith from Information Wants To Be Free will be giving a free online presentation for OPAL (Online Programming for All Libraries) and everyone at our library is invited to attend in our multi-purpose room. I don’t know who plans on coming, but I think it’s great that our administration is opening it up to everyone to learn about wikis … especially since libraries can’t afford to send everyone to conferences like Internet Librarian or Computers in Libraries to hear about the great uses for wikis and blogs and the like.

Encyclopedias Compared

Nature has posted a comparison of Wikipedia and Britanica and the results aren’t that surprising – at least not to me.

I’ve posted (as have many others) about the recent changes in Wikipedia due to major media coverage.

However, an expert-led investigation carried out by Nature – the first to use peer review to compare Wikipedia and Britannica’s coverage of science – suggests that such high-profile examples are the exception rather than the rule.

Although I wouldn’t use Wikipedia as my main (or only) source for a research project, I often find myself starting there when I need to find information about a specific topic. But no one resource is perfect, who’s to say that just because Britannica comes in print that it’s more accurate?

Only eight serious errors, such as misinterpretations of important concepts, were detected in the pairs of articles reviewed, four from each encyclopaedia. But reviewers also found many factual errors, omissions or misleading statements: 162 and 123 in Wikipedia and Britannica, respectively.

It’s almost like the difference between open-source software and proprietary software … the open-source is free so most people regard it as less effective than the software you buy in the stores. But the fact is that the open-source software is always going to get fixed faster – and better than the stuff you buy. The reason? There are more politics & levels to go through in the big companies to get an edit through – with open-source someone just makes the change, tests it, and releases it … okay maybe it’s not that simple, but you get my point.

Wikipedia mystery solved

I posted last week about the fact that Wikipedia was forced to require registration because of the controversy surrounding a journalist’s bio. Well, this week the culprit has come forward. According to USA Today, Brian Chase presented journalist John Seigenthaler with a letter of apology last week:

Chase said the additions he made to Seigenthaler’s biography were intended to be “a joke” on a co-worker on what he thought was “some sort of ‘gag’ encyclopedia.” They had been discussing the Seigenthalers, a well-known local family.

“I didn’t think twice about just leaving it there because I didn’t think anyone would ever take it seriously for more than a few seconds,” he wrote.

I have to agree with Chase, sometimes people just take things way too seriously. Wikipedia makes no claims to be the authority on any one topic, and us average folks who edit the articles are doing it (mostly) for fun.

On another similar note, Meridith over at Information Wants to be Free had to require registration for the Library Success Wiki because of spammers who are out to ruin it for everyone:

[T]he Library Success Wiki got hit really badly today by spam and I've decided that I need to require that people register before posting to the wiki. It's very easy (and obviously free) to create an account on the wiki and I hope it won't deter too many people from adding useful information. In a healthier wiki community, like the Wikipedia or the ALA Chicago Wiki (well, what it was in the spring), spam would get fixed quickly by whomever in the community noticed it first. But when the majority of it has to be fixed by one person, spam can really get out of hand. I'm really sorry I have to put up these barriers to use, but they were totally necessary if we didn't want the wiki to become 90% spam and 10% real content.

This is so annoying – and so sad :(

Wikipedia adding protection

As of today (or maybe it will be next Monday) Wikipedia will no longer allow anonymous users to create pages:

Wales plans to bar anonymous users from creating new articles; only registered members will be able to do so. That change will go into effect Monday, he said, adding that anonymous users will still be able to edit existing entries.

The article on ZDNet (Growing pains for Wikipedia) was published today – so I'm not sure what Monday they're talking about.

This change was brought on by a few highly publicized errors in the Wikipedia:

First, in a Nov. 29 op-ed piece in USA Today, a former administrative assistant to Robert Kennedy [John Seigenthaler] lambasted the free online reference work for an article that suggested he may have been involved in the assassinations of both Robert F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy.

Then, on Dec. 1, a new flurry of attention came when former MTV VJ and podcasting pioneer Adam Curry was accused of anonymously editing out references to other people's seminal podcasting work in an article about the hot new digital medium.

While I don't disagree with this move to only allow registered users to create pages, I do think the complainants are being a little silly … especially since anyone can edit the encyclopedia … meaning they could go in and fix their own pages. In fact that's what Seigenthaler ended up doing.

Let's hope this doesn't change the Wikipedia too much!

Wikipedia Browser

This sounds interesting … but I was unable to test it … it wasn't responding.

Gollum, the Wikipedia Browser is:

Gollum is the name of my newest crime of invention. By reducing the complexity of information, I have created a fast and eyefriendly browser through the free encyclopedia “Wikipedia“. Originally this invention was built up for my daughter but now I have expanded it to the world for free as an open source project under GPL.

… Gollum is based on PHP and Javascript using XMLHttp request for communication, better known as Ajax. That means, there is no need for databases and the code is ready for PHP5. Therefore, the client is only required to use a browser like Firefox, MS Internet Explorer, Netscape or Safari with activated Javascript. Safari has yet to be tested.

sounds like it would be fun to play with, but I was using Firefox and had no luck … I'll keep trying.

Amazon ProductWiki Update

I posted the other day about not being able to see this new Amazon ProductWiki that everyone is posting about … and apparently there is an explanation. The nice people at Church of the Customer replied to my post and have posted an explanation on their own blog.

In short this new ProductWiki is in a beta stage where it can only be viewed on some computers … not mine apparently, but I was able to see it on my husband's. Pretty nifty idea, I can't wait to see it work for everyone.

Are we all gullible??

I see a bunch of posts about a new product wiki from Amazon, but no one links to examples … and out of the 20 different products I looked at I could find nothing resembling the only screenshot I could find. Are we all gullible? Did one person post about this and we all just believe it? Has anyone else found an actual product with this wiki attached?

This leads me rant #2 of today. I really do not like it when someone posts about a new feature but doesn't link to an example for the reader … yesterday I spent a bunch of time trying to see the new Froogle Map, but I didn't know how to make it pop up … this would have been solved if someone posted something like Dan did today with an example.

I'm off to hunt for an actual example of this new Product Wiki … if it exists.

Open Dictionary

I don't know why this idea seems wierd to me … I'm a big fan of Wikipedia, but a dictionary that anyone can add to just seems less trustworthy. Yep, Merriam-Webster has released an Open Dictionary:

[W]here you can 1) submit and share entries that aren't already in our Online Dictionary, and 2) browse entries submitted by other members of the Merriam-Webster Online community.

Interesting … but … call me old fashioned … I want an authority figure telling me what the definition of a word is.