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Wikipedia Idle

Wikipedia's Lamest Edit Wars 219

Posted by samzenpus
from the from-the-depths-of-my-mother's-basement-I-stab-at-thee dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Who says Wikipedians don't have a sense of humor? While perusing Wikipedia I recently came across an article documenting the lamest examples of wikipedia edit wars over the most trivial things. As one wikipedian says: 'Some discussions are born lame; some achieve lameness; some have lameness thrust upon them.' A few of the most amusing examples include: Was Chopin Polish, French, Polish–French, or French–Polish? Can you emigrate from a country of which you are not a citizen? Can you receive citizenship if you already have it? The possibilities for intensive study are endless. Next up, Are U2 an 'Irish band' or simply a band that happen to be from Ireland, since two of their members were born in the UK? A heated discussion took place for over two-and-a-half weeks that resulted in at least one editor getting blocked and many more getting warnings. Next, should members of the Beatles be listed in the 'traditional' order or in alphabetical order? Another edit war which flares up continuously in The Beatles involves whether to identify the band as 'The Beatles' with a capital T or 'the Beatles' with a lower case t. The issue became so contentious it merited an article in the Wall Street Journal. One such installment of this saga was brought before the arbitration committee (by an administrator, no less) where it was quickly declared 'silly.' Next, Is J. K. Rowling's name pronounced like 'rolling' or to rhyme with 'howling'? Rowling is on record claiming she pronounces her name like 'rolling'. An irate editor argues that this is a 'British' pronunciation and the 'American" pronunciation of her name should also be noted. 'This is slightly ridiculous as she is English, and therefore of course will pronounce it in an English manner. Perhaps it rhymes with "Trolling"?' Finally did Jimmy Wales found Wikipedia or co-found it? 'Not surprisingly, those who actually were around at the time and know the answer stayed far away from this one. The casualty list has yet to be compiled, but no doubt editor egos will be among the worst hit.'"
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Wikipedia's Lamest Edit Wars

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  • by Huntr (951770) on Friday December 13, 2013 @09:17AM (#45679243)
    Or do we really not have that kind of time?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 13, 2013 @10:02AM (#45679481)

      Of course Slashdot has the time. Just look at Timmy playing with his new video camera or Samzenpus staring out the window. Loads of time.

      Do the reader's have the time? After that summary, I'd say "No".

      Hopefully, someone will now come along to yell at me for placing the final period in the above sentence outside the closing quote. Only way to save this thread I'm afraid.

      • by TWX (665546) on Friday December 13, 2013 @10:41AM (#45679843)

        Hopefully, someone will now come along to yell at me for placing the final period in the above sentence outside the closing quote. Only way to save this thread I'm afraid.

        My guess is that many Slashdotters, myself included, feel that the current convention for the use of punctuation vis-à-vis quotation isn't technically accurate enough anyway.

        So, sorry that I couldn't save the thread.

        • by foobar bazbot (3352433) on Friday December 13, 2013 @11:29AM (#45680363)

          My guess is that many Slashdotters, myself included, feel that the current U.S. convention for the use of punctuation vis-Ã-vis quotation isn't technically accurate enough anyway.

          FTFY. It's my understanding that the Brits currently use logical punctuation placement.

          (The thread's still doomed.)

          • My guess is that many Slashdotters, myself included, feel that the current U.S. convention for the use of punctuation vis-Ã-vis quotation isn't technically accurate enough anyway.

            FTFY. It's my understanding that the Brits currently use logical punctuation placement.

            (The thread's still doomed.)

            Last I heard from a grammar nazi familiar with various style guides is that American usage actually allowed for either.

          • by Empiric (675968)

            Curious, in that although I was made quite aware of the "correct" punctuation in school here in the U.S., I refuse to use it as it is the absolute antithesis of "logical".

            The end-quote ends the sentence's subsection of the word or phrase quoted, the period indicates the end of the entire sentence.

            The "correct" punctuation is the logical equivalent of doing this in code...

            if (instances == 0) IncrementInstances(;)

            Which is entirely illogical. Surely someone could throw together a formal argument for this on t

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by hcs_$reboot (1536101)
      You can also vote for your favorite submissions [slashdot.org] instead of complaining ;-)
    • Now I know where all the old slashdot users went.

  • by DigitalReverend (901909) on Friday December 13, 2013 @09:23AM (#45679263)

    Sometimes people don't think too far past the end of their noses. I mean they don't pronounce bowling like howling in the U.S. so it shouldn't be much of a stretch to pronounce Rowling like bowling instead of howling. sheesh.

    • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday December 13, 2013 @09:30AM (#45679287)
      It's pronounced like howling because Chuck Norris pronounces it that way. Check-mate. :P
      • by jones_supa (887896) on Friday December 13, 2013 @09:50AM (#45679397)

        Check-mate.

        I will edit that to be "Touché." instead!

      • by zAPPzAPP (1207370)

        Oh yeah?
        I pronounce howling and rolling the same!
        Your move.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by OzPeter (195038)

      Sometimes people don't think too far past the end of their noses. I mean they don't pronounce bowling like howling in the U.S. so it shouldn't be much of a stretch to pronounce Rowling like bowling instead of howling. sheesh.

      Actually this one interests me a bit. Not that I care about JK's name (and BTW the end of the last HP novel sucked big time), but the way that the pronunciation/spelling of words are changed by "the media" to suit their audience.

      One of the biggest examples of this is the terrorist group formally known as Al Qa'ida. If you listen to news reports from 10 years ago the name was given as Qa'ida and pronounced with 3 syllables, but over time it slowly morphed into Qaeda*, with only 2 syllables. I don't know

    • by Artraze (600366)

      Would you describe it as rolling on the floor howling with laughter?

      I liked that the editorializing on the "British" vs "American" pronunciation proclaiming that it should, of course, be pronounced in an "English" manner.

    • Sometimes people don't think too far past the end of their noses. I mean they don't pronounce bowling like howling in the U.S. so it shouldn't be much of a stretch to pronounce Rowling like bowling instead of howling. sheesh.

      I pronounce it the way that annoys Harry Potter fans more.

    • In any case, it's a proper name, it's *her* name, so people should damn well pronounce it the way she says it is. I think it's incredibly arrogant for an (assuming) American editor to suggest otherwise... and for the record, I'm American, not British. (though I admit to being something of an anglophile)
      Also, IANAL (linguist) ... but..
      IMO, Americans have lost a great deal of understanding of the pronunciation of the English language where vowels are concerned. To us, Rolling and Rowling (not to men
    • Sometimes people don't think too far past the end of their noses. I mean they don't pronounce bowling like howling in the U.S. so it shouldn't be much of a stretch to pronounce Rowling like bowling instead of howling. sheesh.

      Really, such a row about nothing.

      I long ago decided that English-English is a language where they take other people's spelling of words and pronounce them in their own non-phonetical/non-native way. Jaguar, for example. Not that they have to be foreign words (Worcestershire). One of the differences between English English and American English is that American is more likely to track the original native language pronunciation.

      If she wants to answer to "Rowling-as-in-bowling", more power. Tolkien was on recor

  • by Bengie (1121981)

    Rowling is on record claiming she pronounces her name like 'rolling'. An irate editor argues that this is a 'British' pronunciation and the 'American" pronunciation of her name should also be noted.

    What would the purpose be to telling Americans how to pronounce her name the "American way"? They should already be incorrectly pronouncing her name that way already. You pronounce someone's name how they want it pronounced, assuming they don't have some strange sound that you can't reproduce, then you just try your best.

  • Aluminium (Score:5, Funny)

    by Reliable Windmill (2932227) on Friday December 13, 2013 @09:44AM (#45679361)
    I regularly replace misspelled "aluminum" with the correct "aluminium" whenever I see it in an article, but backwards people just revert my changes.
    • Re:Aluminium (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mr Z (6791) on Friday December 13, 2013 @09:59AM (#45679463) Homepage Journal

      I know your trolling, but here's the actual history behind the name. [grammarphobia.com]

      • Try taking off the aluminium foil hat once in a while, it's blocking the woosh sound from over your head.

    • Re:Aluminium (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jdavidb (449077) on Friday December 13, 2013 @11:18AM (#45680251) Homepage Journal
      I will never forget the edit war over "yogurt"/"yoghurt." The ridiculousness was only eclipsed by the fact that the "yoghurt" guy won for years because everybody else realized it was ridiculous and didn't have the persistence to stay with it. IMO the system is broken when that kind of issue is settled by someone's personal passion and obsession.
      • by oobayly (1056050)

        Well, I would always write it as yoghurt, but it's very tempting to go in a rename all instance of yoghurt to yogurt and vice verca, just for shits and giggles.

      • Just thinking about those pages and pages of arguments about including that little silent "h" makes my yog hurt.

      • People laugh about the old French guys in ugly green suits who are paid to declare the proper spelling of French words, but it turns out their are saving people a lot of time...

    • by Ichijo (607641)

      The only reason an edit war between aluminum versus aluminium can exist is because there's no template to accommodate both spellings and show the appropriate spelling based on the reader's locale similar to the template to convert between units [wikipedia.org].

      It would be better [wikipedia.org] if there were a way to satisfy both sides of the equation...it may be possible to create localised spellings using templates, but my understanding is that may also be undesirable because of the extra overhead on what is already a heavily loaded sy

  • by Mr Foobar (11230) on Friday December 13, 2013 @09:45AM (#45679367) Homepage

    I gave up on being a Wikipedia editor a long time ago, what a waste of time trying to be helpful and make the articles better. Even doing a simple edit like "its" for an incorrect "it's" got nasty emails sent to be almost immediately about it, and the edits reverted in no time. All I ever wanted to do was correct minor grammatical and typographical errors, which never would have gotten past an editor in a "real" encyclopedia, and make for better looking articles. The grief I got for it..., well, it wasn't much fun. They want editors, they get them, the editors give up in disgust. It's also why I haven't given them a dime.

    Everything2 was what Wikipedia should have been. Much better class of people there.

    • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Friday December 13, 2013 @10:15AM (#45679623) Journal

      Your right about that. I always corrected minor errors and its really annoying when people keep on changing them back irregardless of weather their correct or knot.

    • I lost it after an article I'd written, putting a fair bit of work into, was stolen and placed on another website. An editor found this site and accused me of copyvio and then refused to simply compare timestamps. No-one has ever apologised, despite ample opportunity, and until they do, I refuse to waste my time on it.
    • by Xest (935314)

      Yes, many Wikipedia editors seem more obsessed with destruction of content rather than creation. I added something once that I didn't realise someone would be so absurdly anal as to suggest requiring a citation and they just removed the whole block of information, rather than spend literally 10 seconds searching Google to merely add the citation they so desperately wanted. I did one of those dispute deletion things and the tit who deleted it was overturned but it still put me off ever wasting my time there

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Yes, many Wikipedia editors seem more obsessed with destruction of content rather than creation. I added something once that I didn't realise someone would be so absurdly anal as to suggest requiring a citation and they just removed the whole block of information, rather than spend literally 10 seconds searching Google to merely add the citation they so desperately wanted. I did one of those dispute deletion things and the tit who deleted it was overturned but it still put me off ever wasting my time there

    • by Smauler (915644)

      You got nasty emails for just correcting grammatical errors? Why would anyone bother? Why would anyone revert to the wrong version?

      Definitely "citation needed".

  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Friday December 13, 2013 @09:51AM (#45679403) Homepage Journal

    Namely, this was in the page for Desiree Washington, the woman that Mike Tyson was convicted of raping.

    In the section about the rape accusation, trial and conviction of Mike Tyson, I added information about a previous false allegation made by Ms. Washington against a high school friend.

    Someone reverted my change with a cryptic comment about "BLP". I saw it a few days later and re-created my change. Again, my change was reverted with more comments about "BLP".

    This was several years ago so I don't remember exactly what was said back and forth but the gist of it is that the other party thought that there was something in the wikipedia rules about the "Biographies of Living Persons" that prevented me from including the information about the false rape allegations Desiree Washington made in the past. I challenged the person to show specifically where BLP precluded me from including this information, they could not so I restored my change.

    Apparently this other editor had wikipedia political connections because I received a "Warning" for making my edits. I was willing to be banned over this because for me it's about the principle of the thing. If wikipedia is a free encyclopedia that anyone can edit, I was going to make sure that this factual information was included. Hell, I can generate throw-away email addresses and wikipedia accounts. I'm not sure who resolved this but what happened in the end was that Desiree Washington's page went away and the information about the false rape allegations in her past were included on Mike Tyson's page.

    After this, I stopped editing articles. I realized that situations like this are precisely why wikipedia isn't considered an authoritative source in the academic sense. People with more knowledge about a subject and with the supporting documentation can lose edit wars if the ignoramus on the other side has the political clout to have them blocked.

    LK

    • If you want to see some real fun, find a way to post a sequence of example pics that supposedly show how people with anomalous trichromatic color vision see the world, then pull out the bowl of popcorn when actual deuteranomalous and protanomalous individuals scream, "WTF, these examples are just WRONG... but THIS is an example that works and is, to me, indistinguishable from the control picture" and the editors defend keeping the wrong pics as examples because the edits and new example pics made by actual

    • You can't add such information on Wikipedia without a reliable citation.

      • by TigerNut (718742)
        Having recently been involved in somewhat of an edit war (well, more of a "spirited discussion"... I'm in it for the long haul on behalf of my fellow Sunbeam Tiger owners), the "reliable citation" requirement is pretty much a nuclear handgrenade. Information is considered "reliable" if it's in a printed and published book by a "reliable source" which can be taken to mean "someone that writes a lot" - regardless of whether or not their writings are well researched in general or in particular. In our particul
    • Well the academia is no different. The same petty politics, the same self-serving nipple rubbing. People are the same everywhere. The only difference is that academia is more p2p - If your real work is outgunned, you can hopefully find another journal or university, get a second opinion. This makes a hell of a difference - because wikipedia seems to be a central authority, you outsource much of your critical thinking and then find yourseld pissed when people happen. In academia, because of the explicit p2p

    • by Alef (605149)

      I realized that situations like this are precisely why wikipedia isn't considered an authoritative source in the academic sense.

      The primary reason it's not used as an authoritative academic source is because it's a tertiary source [wikipedia.org], as are all encyclopaedias.

  • by Akratist (1080775) on Friday December 13, 2013 @09:56AM (#45679435)
    Wikipedia has become staffed with a sizeable number of edit trolls, who know a lot about a tiny slice of something, and think that gives them great and wise moral authority over the entire domain...somewhat like real academia. I found this out the hard way when I made an edit to an article, which was modest, relevant, and neutral in tone. Immediately, it got removed by someone who left a mini-screed about it. I checked the person's history and found that they had numerous arguments with other users, but apparently still retained their account because they managed to effectively play rules lawyer with Wikipedia's policies. Again, like real academia. That said, articles like this make me cringe, because it a) turns people off of what is really an excellent resource, and b) makes Wikipedia sound like it is somehow less worthy than traditional reference sources (where no one sees the bile and acrimony that goes into the production of some of those works). It's like anything, some people are bound and determined to play the chemically imbalanced turd in the punchbowl.
    • by AK Marc (707885)
      I've never understood how to edit. I've cleaned up poor wording. I've added new content (with citations). And marked inappropriate content as such. All edits reverted, and though token reasons were given, I didn't ever understand why. For all I know, I cleaned up the poor wording of someone who got offended and reverted everything I ever did. It's too hard to casually edit, and I don't have the time or motivation to care about it.
  • Owning articles (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jones_supa (887896) on Friday December 13, 2013 @09:58AM (#45679453)
    One of the big underlying problems seems to be that when someone is a big contributor of some article, he ends up guarding it and the article just "feels wrong" to him when someone else modifies it, even if the contributions would objectively make sense. Let the information evolve and the words be shuffled around, it's not your precious snowflake thesis...
  • by sandbagger (654585) on Friday December 13, 2013 @10:05AM (#45679521)

    I'd been contributing to an article on a film. We'd sourced plenty of material and it was a really in-depth affair.

    Then some ding-dong undergraduate deleted it and substituted his own 35,000 word essay. This boring shot-by-shot description written in stiff prose and sprinkled with gems from the thesaurus undid a year of work and good luck trying to get it repealed because his school buddies have plenty of time to wage an edit war when the rest of us are at work.

    • I had a similar experience with theological articles I kept attempting to keep NPOV (Neutral Point-of-View) in regard to the way some denominations interpret certain scripture in their doctrine but my edits kept getting reverted and modified by some Southern Baptist and Quaker church members (Their usernames clearly identified them as such) who insisted their point of view was the end-all and be-all and that other major points of views didn't deserve to be even mentioned in an encyclopedia.

      I remember inform

  • Remember UseNet? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by minstrelmike (1602771) on Friday December 13, 2013 @10:09AM (#45679553)
    It's got nothing to do with Wikipedia and everything to do with
    1. How people how argue and more specifically
    2. What pedants argue about.
    You want to argue about who's going to win the Super Bowl or be purged next in North Korea? Lots of good arguments and at the end, there is an actual measurable outcome.
    Want to argue about which is the best operating system? Lots of arguing there but no measurable outcome. You can measure which is the most popular but that's like saying the most popular music is the best music. We argue about music and art.

    But the arguments over word use and definitions of fact are the most vociferous because they are the most picky. And only picky, anal retentive types will argue so the arguments get more and more precise each time. When done well, we call it science.
    But it's hard to use words and syntax well when arguing about word definitions and syntax. If you see no difference between French-Polish and Polish-French, well then there's no difference between African-American and American-African. It actually is debatable. Uninteresting to most but debatable to many.
  • This is the real question being grappled with, the important issue.
  • by lazarus (2879) on Friday December 13, 2013 @10:17AM (#45679633) Journal

    I can't decide if I should be thrilled that we have achieved some kind of intellectual enlightened society evidenced by our capacity to be pedantic in a globally connected ecosystem of information, or appalled that people don't have better things to do with their time.

    Perhaps we should have a discussion about this. On-line.

  • It's almost like it's a really bad information management model or something.
  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Friday December 13, 2013 @10:25AM (#45679709) Homepage

    1. Chopin was Prussian.
    2. You can only emigrate from a countrybefore receiving citizenship while already being a citizen.
    3. U2 are a UK band with Irish members.
    4. It should be capitalized with a capital T as such: "the BeaTles".
    5. J.K. Rowling's last name is pronounced "roo-ling".
    6. Jimmy Wales co-opted Wikipedia.

    Now can we finally stop the edit-wars?

    • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Friday December 13, 2013 @10:33AM (#45679775) Journal

      1. Chopin was Prussian.

      No. It's a little known fact, but he was actually Spanish[citation needed].

    • Chopin was Prussian.

      Does that mean in Psoviet Prussia, the Chopin article edits YOU?

    • 7. I am the real Napster.

    • Once I was in Toronto, ON, and watched a local band perform rock covers. When I asked for the name of the band for a girl in the audience, she just waved and said "it's just an irish band".

      What is an irish band, other than and band from Ireland?

    • 4. It should be capitalized with a capital T as such: "the BeaTles".

      All kidding aside, if "the" is actually part of the band name, then grammatically/syntactically , one should refer to them as the "The Beatles" - as Stephen Colbert often does with the "The New York Times".

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        And what about if the name changes? John Cougar, John Cougar Mellencamp, or John Mellencamp? Does it matter to the context? Is "John Mellencamp's American Fool is his best selling early work" incorrect because his stage name was John Cougar at the time? Or is it correct because his future and current name is John Mellencamp?

        If the Beatles ever capitalized it, then it should be fair game for either.
        • If the Beatles ever capitalized it, then it should be fair game for either.

          It's interesting that the drawing of Ringo Star's drum set in the WSJ article has "The Beatles" emblazoned on the bass drum skin and not simply "Beatles"...

  • U2 is... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fuzzums (250400) on Friday December 13, 2013 @10:31AM (#45679765) Homepage

    They evade their taxes in the Netherlands, so it's a Dutch band.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:List_of_fictional_ducks [wikipedia.org]

    May not be as protracted and vitriolic as some of the others but the disagreement over the notoriety of Jemima Puddleduck was hauntingly stupid.

  • "Who says Wikipedians don't have a sense of humor? "
    No one, except some lame submitter trying to make a hook for an article by linking to some wikipedia page that's been around forever.

  • My favorite is not actually an edit war, but a close/reopen war. The article about The Game has seriously been closed and then unclosed about a dozen times, it was hilarious watching it. (Also I just lost the game.)

  • My favorite argument on that list was over the issue of whether the article Exploding Whale [wikipedia.org] should contain the phrase "the blast blasted blubber beyond all believable bounds."

  • My gravest concern is that the energy of contributors is finite, and that history will eventually be written by the rich. People will pay people to rewrite wikipedia to their liking. History books are written by the winners.
  • I got into a debate about super cars vs sports cars (I admit, it's a bit of an empty debate) but it seems there's no such thing as a supercar, only sportscars. So I can confirm some pretty dumb shit is debated.

    What's significantly more frustrating, is I made a comedy edit to a womans profile who basically belittiles men who play games, quite harshly. (I admit, a comedy edit isn't cool) The edit was rightly removed, a moderator responded to me and said don't do it again. I said fine, I'd already posted th

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      Probably some guy who wanted is Corvette to be in the same "class" as multi-million dollar supercars. A supercar is a sports car costing more 10x the average car price, with a performance advantage over sports cars of lower price.

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