Saturday, April 12, 2008

Wikinews: A credible news source?

According to reports, authorities in Belgium have seized documents, financial records and computer equipment from the local branch of the Church of Scientology (Church) and then sealed off the building.

Now these reports so far, other than Wikinews, have only been reported in Dutch and French. Wikinews, although international, has the only English written news article on this situation.

I wrote it I admit. I also submitted it to This in my opinion was a hot story and would likely receive rave reviews from Digg users. I was wrong.

It seems that many accounts decided to 'bury' the story, enough to the point that Digg placed a tag on it stating that "Warning: The Content in this Article May be Inaccurate. Readers have reported that this story contains information that may not be accurate."

Now I read all the sources used in the Wikinews article. I even had to get them translated to do so. All these reports are from credible news sources and not some hole in the wall blog writer who wants to be popular for 15 minutes. These papers would not print let alone run a story on their sites, if it was "inaccurate."

I was really mad, so I e-mailed Digg to see what the problem was. I got a response, but one I would consider to be gibberish and nothing but an excuse.

"If a story has been repeatedly buried by the Digg community, with the reason being that it is inaccurate, a message is automatically added next to the story indicating that it may be inaccurate. If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to contact u," said the e-mail from Digg.

"With the reason being that it is inaccurate..." Well if anyone actually took the time to click on the link and read the article, they would see that it is not inaccurate. My experience on digg is that these articles are loved. They get enormous diggs and people like them. So what stopped this one from making it to the front page? Well take one guess.

What or who would go through so much trouble, to register a massive amounts of buries on this article? I am not going to name any specific organization, but I can imagine anyone reading this is suspecting the same thing I am. It would take hundreds of accounts of nothing but buries to make a tag like that appear. This would be done by people who either are trying to stop the story from spreading because it might damage their reputation, or is being buried by people who really just don't read anything at all anywhere.

The second part of this story is eerie. Posts from ligit news sites that mirrored this Wikinews story and are entered into Google News's cache of pages they browse published an article. Not more than 30 minutes after those sites published the Wikinews story, they were removed from Google News one at a time, and only a minute or less apart from each other. Although there is no screen shot of this, anyone watching noticed.

I decided I had enough and was not going to allow this to happen. I e-mailed Google right away and asked what the problem could be and what would cause such a thing to happen. I will admit it could have been technical, but about 20 minutes after sending that letter, both of those sources (From Glosslip and Men's News Daily) re appeared into Google News and one by one.

Is all this a coincidence? I will let you decide.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Sex, Lies and Wiki

Here's a little something I posted earlier in the article published today over Jimbo's little love and money affairs involving conservative journalist Rachel Marsden and the use of Foundation expenses as a personal credit card.
Personally, I believe Wikinews is what truly separates us from the rest of the Wikimedia community, we're willing to publish a story even if it's bad against our mother foundation and our founder. It truly is being NPOV, instead of covering it up and not publishing it, we're publishing it, and if we did cover it up, which would be bad due to the fact there's controversy over Jimbo's Wikipedia article anyways embellishing some of the earlier history, we bring it to the forefront and some user would have started the story anyways. Wikinews is the news arm of the Wikimedia community, but at the same time we're the ombudsman/public editor, we're not afraid to report something that will affect negatively, weither it be Benoit story, the leak of the finicial documents or this.

Yes financial is spelled wrong, I know. But that's my opinion, it's gossipy, but we have a right to report what we think is news.

Other's were more critical of the article we posted despite the fact it had already received mainstream press attention.

This is not exactly an atmosphere that fosters cooperation between the Wikipedia volunteers...
-Anonymous poster

One poster called us hypocritical:

I find it really interesting how people would get together to do stupid things ! I don't know either of them but I know that this guy is wikipedia's founder, so he demands respect from all of us, I don't know allot about the journalist except her wikipedia page (and actually I don't want to put any more time in that) but it shows that she has a not-very-good history with her ex boyfriends. I'm not trying to judge anyone, what I'm trying to say is ..."DON'T YOU HAVE ANYTHING BETTER TO DO ?" why do we always want to bring good people down, and this is also for the wikipedia committee, were you really arguing about a "steak house" bill !!! really ?! I thought you all were more mature than that !

Before you all end up somewhere where you don't want to be, think for a second about what you are doing ? & what is it leading to ? is it really worth it to make all this fuzz about someone's relationship, which is more important, fixing the biased article (if any) or sitting there and making a story of it ! If he really did something wrong, then apply the appropriate penalty, just get it done with instead of feeding all those failure-monger people out there !

I apologize for my strong language, but this was the last thing I would expect from wikipedia, thanks.

Michael Tadros

Meanwhile, others called it gossip and not being worthy of news:

Wikinews : The source for news about Jimbo's sex life.
-Anonymous IP address


Point of view? How about relevance? Or respect? Speaking as someone completely outside the Wikimedia community (NPOV, right?) I think that to post what is little more than tawdry gossip about anyone is conduct unbecoming of a news source--not that it ever stops anyone, I just thought this community would be better than that. To claim NPOV by throwing some Wikimedia folks to the wolves occasionally is pretty pathetic too IMHO.

Not news.

-Victor "StarSeeker" Sheckels

One final note is this post from an Anonymous IP suggesting people should make their donations conditional.
If you want to support the Wikimedia Foundation's projects financially, but you're suspicious of whether staff travel benefits the public, one solution is to put a condition on your donations, saying they can only be used to buy, upgrade, maintain, repair, power and colocate servers and associated equipment, and/or buy bandwidth. That's what I'm doing in my will; if the conditions aren't met, my money instead goes to my mom.

Chime in, folks.

Welcome to Wikinews Watch

Before we begin, the title does not mean we are anti-Wikinews. This isn't Wikipedia Watch, we are Wikinewsies.

More or less, this blog will be like a public editor almost, an ombudsman to criticize the deicisons we make or to express our own opinions.

You could call this akin to CNN's Reliable Sources, Fox News' Fox News Watch or BBC's Newswatch.