Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Politician takes on Wikipedia
A left-wing German politician has filed charges against online encyclopaedia Wikipedia for promoting the use of banned Nazi symbols in Germany.
Katina Schubert, a deputy leader of the Left party, said she had filed the charge with Berlin police on the grounds that Wikipedia's German language site contained too much Nazi symbolism, particularly an article on the Hitler Youth movement.
Wikipedia to be converted
Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia written by volunteers, is to be published in Germany as a book for people who prefer turning pages to clicking links, publishing multinational Random House said on Tuesday.
Editors will distil 50 000 of the most popular entries in the German version of Wikipedia into the 1 000-page volume to go on sale in September. When begun, Wikipedia was perceived as making books redundant, with no future for printed encyclopaedias.
The book will draw on the Wikipedia community's unconventional ideas of what knowledge people want, rather than prescriptions by scholars. There will be entries for Carla Bruni (the French first lady), Playstation 3 and Donald Duck's fellow characters.
Football stadiums or the US television series Dr House will rate as entries alongside the more usual nations and statesmen.
Random House, part of the Bertelsmann group of Germany, said the selection of 50 000 headwords would be based on the most common terms searched by the 15 million monthly users of Wikipedia in German.
"It's a document of the zeitgeist," said Beate Varnhorn, chief of the Bertelsmann Lexicography Institute, adding that professional editors would check the facts and edit out incongruous passages.
She said the volume would appeal to homes that had no permanent internet connection, since books were always available, but could also be bought by people who just like to browse for interesting facts.
Arne Klempert, a spokesperson for Wikipedia Germany, said the definitions would only be short summaries of the Wikipedia articles and there was no breach of the rights of Wikipedia contributors.
Commercial republication was allowed under the Wikipedia rules accepted by the site's users. Those rules also applied to Random House, which would not be allowed to claim copyright over the book.
"They can't re-monopolise it," said Klempert, who said Random House had taken the initiative and proposed the idea to Wikipedia.
"This will demonstrate that open-source writing also offers publishing houses opportunities for commercial development."
The German Wikipedia is second in size to the English Wikipedia. It was once calculated that it would take at least 750 thick volumes to print all 2.3 million articles in the English-language version. - Sapa-dpa .
Students 'should use Wikipedia'
Students should be allowed to use the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia as it has become more accurate and trustworthy, its founder Jimmy Wales said in comments published by BBC Online on Friday.
"You can ban kids from listening to rock 'n' roll music, but they're going to do it anyway," he was quoted as telling the Online Information conference in London this week.
"It's the same with information and it's a bad educator that bans their students from reading Wikipedia."
Wales's comments come amid continued questions over the accuracy of the site, where online users can write and update entries, compared with other, more authoritative paid-for sources like the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
He had previously said Wikipedia lacked the authority for academic work, because of often unsourced, biased or inaccurate information.
Students who copied information from the site deserved to be marked down, he told the BBC in 2005.
But new fact-checking procedures introduced since then, including real-time peer reviews, had made Wikipedia more trustworthy, he said.
"There is no substitute for peer critique," he told delegates.
As long as an article contained accurate citations, he saw "no problem" with students using it as a reference work, although he added that academics would "probably be better off doing their own research".
Wikipedia 'is the best'
The German version of the do-it-yourself online reference work Wikipedia is better than Germany's most prestigious commercial encyclopaedia, the weekly magazine Stern asserted on Wednesday.
It engaged WIK, a research institute, to compare 50 randomly chosen articles from Wikipedia with 50 matching articles in the regularly updated online version, www.brockhaus.de, of the Brockhaus, Germany's equivalent of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Wikipedia is a website which can be altered by anyone who notices a mistake or wants to improve the information displayed, provided the contributor presents sufficient documentary evidence to back up the new information.
Stern said the Wikipedia's average rating was 1.7 on a scale where 0 is best and five is worst. The Brockhaus rated 2.7 on the same measure.
The articles were assessed for accuracy, completeness, how up to date they were and how easy they were to read.
In 43 matches, the Wikipedia article was judged the winner.
The co-operative project trumped by being up to date with the news. It gave Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti's death date the next day, but Brockhaus had not noted this even weeks later. But Stern said Wikipedia also had the lead in accuracy.
The German-language section of Wikipedia, numbering 673 000 articles, is the second biggest after the English version.
Bilingual readers say the German articles tend to be more formal than the English ones.
Posted by SANJIDA AFROJ at 10:24 PM