:::: Interview mit witty lama (Transkript)

15 Feb

Interview mit Benutzer witty lama, 16/10/2009, Skype

JN: When and actually how did you get involved on the Wikipedia? 00:05:11-8
WL: 2005 at university, a friend introduced it to me. 00:05:27-8
JN: Do you have some kind of formal roles such as admin? 00:05:32-1
WL: No. I have intentionally not stood for adminship and I don’t intend to. I am an executive on the Australian chapter and I do a lot of things that are prominent in the community but I am intentionally not being an adminstrator because I think it’s important that adminstrators … being an adminstrator an Wikipedia does not mean that you are the boss, it is just a function, it’s not a level of respect or anything. A lot of people think that and treat adminstrators as if it was a badge of honour or something to look for in its own right. 00:05:39-2
JN: You said already you are involved in chapters or meta work but on the Wikipedia plattform itself, how would you define your major activities? 00:06:41-5
WL: Admistrative, so even I am not an adminstrator, most of my work is not editing articles, I don’t spend much time at all editing articles. But I do advocacy and media and research and discussions about the communnity, I run the podcast or I helped to run the podcast, the Wikipedia Weekly, I am more involved in the meta and community side of things rather than the content side of things. 00:07:43-9
JN: Has this been like that right from the beginning or has this changed over time? 00:07:44-6
WL: I think most people start with editing articles but I never was big in that, I very quickly moved in this kind of thing. 00:07:57-3
JN: When you think about doing this meta work or when you think about your early edits, to whom or to what you actually feel responsible? 00:08:08-0
WL: Could you describe what you mean by responsible? 00:08:18-0
JN: Do you have some kind of sense of responsibilty if you act in the Wikipedia space? Are there some (personal) principles you want to follow or do you have an idea some people or the world you feel responsibe for when you are acting on the Wikipedia plattform? 00:08:40-8
WL: I started just because it was interesting, because there was a spelling mistake, something like that. Over time the values of the project have become my values and I know do advocacy about free culture, about copyright. I mean I work now professionally in copyright and that’s almost entirely because of my growing interst and learning from the Wikimedia community. 00:09:21-1
JN: When you think about the Wikipedia, what do you think for whom the Wikipedia is made for? 00:09:22-1
WL: Everyone. 00:09:27-5
JN: If you think about the famous statement of Jimmy Wales which also said to be Wikipedia’s vision – ‘Imagine a world in which every human being can freely share the sum of all knowledge’ –, do you have some idea what this ‘sum of knowledge’ actually is all about? 00:09:49-9
WL: I think automatically I would manifest itself differently for different people. At the moment we are focussing on an encyclopaedia and a dictionary and related things but there is nothing in this statement which is now a vision statement, there is nothing in it that statement that says wiki, that says internet, that says encyclopaedia. None of those things are fundamental to what we do that is just what we are currently do. So eventually, what we might look very differently; might be doing free schools in Africa teaching; might be running television statements. I don’t know. 00:10:51-6
JN: So if you think about the actual Wikipedia or where you would like the Wikipedia to be in the future, do you have some ideas of what kind of knowledge should be in and what kind of knowledge should be out on Wikipedia? 00:11:05-1
WL: I am personally very focused on getting more information from the offical cultural sector, I am very keen to see more integration between academia and museums, those kind of things that already receive state funding from the government because they are important for the sociey. We should be focusing on those too because they are important for the society. So I would like to see academics who are experts in whatever their topic is; just as they feel oblidged to publish reports and journals and teach students, they should also feel oblidged to help maintain the information on Wikipedia in their area of expertise. Similarly, the same ideas for museums and libraries. 00:12:17-4
JN: One example I want to have a look at is this Wikipedia Art project or article and the discussion connected to it. Do you know it? 00:12:40-7
WL: That one is not an Wikipedia article, that was an independent project by some artist who was using Wikipedia as his artistic statement. 00:12:51-9
JN: I found it interesting. When I looked into the discussion, I mainly found like three different opinions: Delete: ‘Please read the article carefully and see that it can’t possibly improve to become a valid Wikipedia article. It is an article about itself. It is intrinsically unencyclopaedic. I don’t think it was necessarily created in bad faith but it is an abuse of Wikipedia to seek to use it as an art platform and it undermines Wikipedia as an encyclopaedia Comment: „What exactly distinguishes a collaborative art project from a collaborative article?’ Keep: ‘The Wikipedia Art page is something that explains art, explores art, and is art all at the same time. Deleting this page would be a statement that the exegesis of conceptual art and/or new media art has no place in Wikipedia, except on the tired, lifeless, and opaque conceptual art and new media art pages. Why shouldn’t a tiny corner of Wikipedia-brand collective epistemology be preserved for an instructive, self-referential, and ever-changing living example of what an art object can be in the 21st Century? Should this page be judged invalid only because it refers to itself? The Wikipedia Art page is a self-aware example of Wikipedia’s mission of collective epistemology. So I wondered what your opinion about it would have looked liked if you engaged in this discussion. 00:13:31-4
WL: I haven’t been engaged in that specific discussion but generally that this discussion ressembles a lot of discussions about whether to keep or whether to delete something. Not that third option that you read out now, but the first two are common discussion about whether to keep, whether to delete and I think the main differentiation between the inclusionist and the deletionist groups is whether we see ourselves, whether Wikipedia sees itself as a traditional encylopaedia or tries to compare itself to traditional standards in order to be have of authorativeness or whether it just includes things because they are interesting and valid in their own right and what does it matter what anyoneelse thinks. What seems to happen is people generally speaking start out more thinking of the former and over time as they become older within the community, they become more accepting of the second opinion ‘just let it go and we see how it goes’. 00:15:42-6
JN: And where would you position yourself? 00:15:44-3
WL: More to the inclusionist. I don’t see … I am not sure about that particular page because that was intentionally attempting to be something different from what Wikipedia is normally supposed to be or assumes it should be. I think it is a valid art project, I think it’s a perfectly valid thing to do for art’s sake. But it was always intending to be controversional and intending to be up for deletion. It wasn’t trying to be quiet, it was always part of the point of that art project was that it was supposed to wind up looking being deleted or having a deletion discussion. The deletion discussion was part of the art project. That discussion ‘Is it real? Should it be deleted or no?’ that was the art project to a degree. 00:16:58-5
JN: As you said it is kind of a rather exceptional example, I have also included the example of the genetically modified food debate which is a more conventional example. It is also an example where knowledge is not kind of fixed compared to articles for instance about mathematics. In the GMO case there are quickly changing findings and different opinions how to interpret them. 00:17:41-1
WL: That’s one of the biggest advanted of Wikipedia as an academic ressource in its own right. I talk about this in my thesis and I call it short history and long history. So, when there is a new event, something happens quickly and information comes out piece by piece. The best example of this is actually in desasters, terrorist attacs or earthquakes, those kind of things. You can see the article’s change minute by minute by minute and watch people learning the information as new information comes out and for the historian for the future that record of the edit history — who knew what when and how was it being reported minute by minute — will be a very valuable tool. Also, for topics that are slower like the ideas of evolution or gentically modified food or whatever, watching the change over time … not yet as Wikipedia is quite young, but imagine Wikipedia was 50 years old, a 100 years old, … I did that in my thesis, I looked at the article in the encylopaedia Britannica in the 18/20 edition, a very early edition of Britannica, I looked at the article for Australian aboriginies and then I looked at the current edition and of course it is very different, not surprising. That change is an imporant change to look at how a society tried to describe itself. Looking at the way a topic is discussed in Wikipedia, five years from now, ten years from now, to see what was considered to be neutral, encylopaedic, verifiable as close to the truth as possible and seeing that change is a very important way to analyse a society because it’s written by the people and what they know in the honest attempt to write an encylopaedia, to describe their own society. 00:20:05-3
JN: Looking at the GMO, I wondered in more practial terms how users deal with this kind of this unfixed knowledge in order to decide what’s in and what’s out. Do you have also some ideas in more practical terms how one could or even should deal with such changing knowledge? 00:21:24-1
WL: You have to let go. If the expectation is that your addition to Wikipedia or to knowledge in general as an academic or as an Wikipedian, whatever, if your expectation is that that is the truth forever lasting, then you’re pretty dilluded. So a scientist recognizes that what they are producing is not the truth, it’s just the best we can get at the moment under current circumstances. As part of the principles of sciences, if someone else comes along and proves that incorrect or does a better job, that’s good. It’s not like it’s a fight to who is more true, change is a normal and an important part of knowledge creation, so ‘Relax!’ is my practical … 00:22:38-7
JN: Connected to that I would like to talk about the NPoV because it is said to be a core principle but how would personally define it? 00:22:44-8
WL: NPoV is similar to the idea of objectivity and objectivity has been fought about in academia for a long time about whether it’s possible, whether it’s exists, is there even a point in trying to obtain what is called the ‘nobel dream’ of objectivity. I think that is the common percerption, NPoV is different from pure objectivity because NPoV does not say to write objectively, it says to not insert your own opinion but to express all options with acceptable weight, with references. While as trying to be objective is inserting your own voice into the discussion without inserting your own voice. So putting yourself in the topic but pretending you are not really there whereas NPoV is not putting yourself into the topic, it’s just describing it over there somewhere. 00:24:18-3
JN: And do you see also some limits or problems connected to the NPoV? 00:24:22-9
WL: Sure, like objectivity it’s not perfect, you cannot self assess as whether you are completely neutral or unbioased because that is what bias is often. You’re not aware of that. The problem of neutrality when there is only one author is big, there’s a lot of potential for falling on the wrong side of it, being unintentionally biased. But when there’s a text that’s multi-authored like Wikipedia, the individual’s bias will be washed out over time with other editors. And what you are left with is the average bias of the society and that average bias of the society will change over time with the long history of the article. 00:25:28-5
JN: NPoV, verifiability, notability, no original researcg etc. are kind of said to be at the core of Wikipedia. So my question to you is: To what extent are these policies kind of fixed and/or to what extent they are constantly up to negotiation? 00:25:54-1
WL: I think now at least they are absolutely non-negotiable. At least on the English Wikipedia. I know for example in the Arabic Wikipedia the verfiability clause is not so strong because it is much harder to verify something in Arabic, especially in Arabic online. There just aren’t availabe sources. But as Wikipedia has grown and there are other side project like Wikitionary, like Wikibooks, like Wikiversity and things like Wikia which look after much more precise topics that things don’t fall into the increasingly narrow scope of what Wikipedia is, can be pushed elsewhere. Originally, it was just Wikipedia and so Wikipedia also included dictionary like articles and included more like kind of strange lists of things. Now those slowly being eradicated which is sad I think. 00:27:14-6
JN: You just talked about the Arabic version, I would like to turn to the language section of my questions. First of all: Are you active in different language versions of Wikipedia or are you focused on the English one? 00:27:24-0
WL: I have not done any editing in other languages. 00:27:36-2
JN: Do you observe other language versions or follow reports about other versions? 00:27:36-7
WL: It’s very difficult, there’s very littly cross-language communication between the Wikipedias. There have been several attempts to try and make collaboration but in general at least from the English perspective, we don’t know what is happening in the other languages. I imagine that most other languages, especially the smaller languages, look to the English, German, French, Japanese depening on what is the most close language for guidance. And the English language edition does look to the German edition for guidance often actually in terms of software tools and things like that. The German edition is considered to be the most advanced. 00:28:43-2
JN: If it happened that you talk to users from other language versions, for instance on the Wikimania. In what language does this communication take place? 00:28:53-2
WL: It’s always in English. As you know all of the mailing lists are in English. I do speak French and Swedish. 00:29:15-6
JN: You have been apparently to this year’s Wikimania. Have you been also to earlier Wikimanias? In total how many times have you been on a Wikimania? 00:29:32-5
WL: Three. 00:29:43-2
JN: Looking at the Wikimania participants and the also the Wikipedians, what do you think links all of them together in terms of ideas? 00:30:00-4
WL: I tried to blog about this recently. Given that we fight about everything all the time in the community, there must be some minimum standard of what we all agree on. I mean if you try to draw a venn diagramme of what every individual or every community thinks about things, the overlapping section would probably be very small. The only thing I could eventually kind of say that we all agree on is ‘free’, is free culture, no cost and no restriction. That’s pretty much it, that’s pretty much all we agree on, everyone, is that information … that knowledge should be free of costs and free of restriction. 00:31:14-7
JN: Would go also that far and say there is a link to the free culture or free software movement built in in the Wikipedia? 00:31:24-0
WL: Fundamentally, absolutely. 00:31:28-2
JN: You already talked about how the different language versions are connected or disconnected from each other. On the foundation-l there was a discussion in May this year about the question what to include and what to exclude and what in these terms the language versions should have in common or not. The discussion emerged around some episode of the Simpsons that was deleted in the Hebrew but integrated on English Wikipedia. Then, there were different statements, e.g.: ‘Is there not standard for all language versions ?’ ‘In spanish wikipedia we sometimes delete articles found in others. The usual cry is ‘but the english wikipedia has it’ and the usual reply: yes, but each wikipedia has a different set of standards.’ Vs. ‘The question is – shouldn’t there be one set of standards for all Wikipedias? I think it is ‘unfair’ that I can read about Simpsons episodes in the English Wikipedia, while those how speak Hebrew cannot.’ That’s now an example from popular culture but it may be also transferred to the realm of the political. What is your personal opinion about the relation of language versions? 00:35:35-2
WL: I think what will happen there is what is happening with languages in general. There will start to merge a bit over time and the policies will become more consistent and not necessarily more open or including more and more things, it may be that on average some things are less included. But I think in general what will happen is that the language will start out, trying to differentiate itself from other related places, just like a language community in real life tries to differentiate itself culturally from its neighbour. 00:36:44-8
JN: Do you have personally an idea about what you would like to see? 00:36:44-8 00:36:44-8
WL: Same thing with the Breton people or the Welsh in England or any local community that tries to differentiate itself from a larger neighbour will start out by being more different. But over time I think they will slowly start to take the best or what is perceived to be the best from each other and become more consistent, 00:37:23-2
JN: I don’t want to interpret you. What is your personal opinion? Would you see it also as best if they merge to some extent? 00:37:22-5
WL: I think it makes sense that what you read on one language should be what you read on another language edition. I think it’s interesting that different languages have different texts and different interpretations but if an intention is to be neutral and verifiable and global, then eventually a good article about any particular topic should be the same in every language. It seems logical that the mythical perfect article about any specific topic — dog for example — … the perfect article about dog should be the perfect article in Spanish just as it is the same perfect article in French. 00:38:42-2
JN: Is that also the same if you apply on political issues? If you have an article about parliament or revolution for instance, should it be the same article on all language versions? 00:38:48-7
WL: Yes, because there is enough scope to have subarticles that are specific to a particular group. Rather let’s say the Japanese edition, its article ‘revolution’ should not say ‘Revolution is something that happend in Japan on this day’. No, it should start out talking about the idea of revolution and then there should be subarticles about Japanese revolutions or Japanese dogs or Japanese parliaments or any of those subjects. And those subarticles should be specific and the same on other languages. 00:39:53-6
JN: The next question, you already answered a bit but I would like to ask it again to give it more space. To what extent would you describe the Wikipedia as a platform of different versions or as a platform that connects different versions? 00:40:12-2
WL: The connections are not very strong. They should be stronger. We try and link between articles about the same topic in different languages but that’s pretty weak. Not many people jump from one language to an other using those links and the communities are quite seperate from each other which is unfortunate. Over time they will start, I think, to merger together more which will not necessarily be for the best, the outcome may be suboptimal in terms of the eventual content but I think it will become more efficient and globally a better encyclopadia if everyone is working together rather than working independtly on — irrespective of what the article in a different language says. 00:41:17-6
JN: As you are involved in meta work you might be aware of discussions in different language versions. Would you say there is something they have in common or would you say there rather different, if you think about conflicts and the way users discuss, edit, delete etc.? 00:41:36-7
WL: I heard for example that the Dutch … because they have a relatively small community of speakers but a very good Wikipedia, it’s big. For some reason the Dutch edition is very well put together. What they do apparently is how they cue of every single edit made by an anonymous user and someone will look at every single edit in a list, just to make sure that it is working, that it is a good edit. We can’t do that on the English and probably on the German, it’s just too big. It’s much more ad hoc, much more random. That’s quite interesting. In the Japanes edition what happens is quite interestingly, very rarely do people edit the article first and then when there is a problem they take it to the talk page and discuss. That’s what happens in the English, people will edit the article first and then if people complain, then the discussion goes elsewhere and they discuss and then they come back with the final answer. In the Japanese edition apparently the discussion happens first and only once people are happy, then they make the change. Roughly speaking, that’s obviously a manifestation of different cultures. 00:43:15-0
JN: You said before that your early edits happened some time ago and they were not so many. But if you try to recall your personal experience, do you have an idea how it came you were starting a new article or contributing to articles? What drove you into it? 00:43:35-3
WL: The first was a spelling mistake and the next major thing I was doing was looking for vandalism. That become a little challenge, to find some vandalism. It’s like a treasure hunt. And then there was a topic at university that I was studying and the lecturer was saying ‘That is very important, this topic’ and there was no article on Wikipedia, so I thought I would add it in and I did. 00:44:13-3
JN: You said you speak French, did you also look at the French version of this topic? 00:44:16-8
WL: No. 00:44:23-3
JN: Another way of connecting different language versions is not only looking at the content but also make it visible on the article page itself by setting an interwiki link. Have you set interwiki links? 00:44:31-5
WL: Yes, I just to be involved briefly in a project called FAOL — features article in an other language — and that would place a box at the top of a discussion page for an article that would say ‘By the way, this article or the equivalent article about this topic in French or German or whatever language is a featured article over there. If you want to improve this article here on English, you should check that one and see if you can take some stuff across’. 00:45:12-7
JN: Was it always easy to find the equivalent article? How do you decide to link an article to an other article if you can’t translate it one to one? 00:45:18-6
WL: That’s always an issue, especially with subarticles. In English and in German we have major articles and then many subarticles, So there be an article about Africa and an article about economics in Africa or the environment in Africa, the history of Africa whereas in smaller language editions those subarticles might not exist yet, they will only have the article ‘Africa’. So do we in the English edition link the subarticle to the foreign language article about Africa or not at all and only wait until they have exactly the same subarticle? It’s a complicated problem. It’s quite similar to the idea of translation in general. You can never translate word directly into an other word, you have to just make the best you can do on a very case by case basis. 00:46:50-4
JN: And would you link then to the more general article? 00:46:49-9
WL: I would look at what the policy is. I am sure there is a policy about that particular topic. Just thinking about it, probably not. In that instance I would link the top article ‘Africa’ to the equivalent in the other language but I would not link the subarticle, I think. 00:47:14-3
JN: As have such a longterm involvement, have you been seeing maybe also conflicts that arose around the setting of certain interwikilinks? 00:47:19-4
WL: I haven’t been following that. I know they exist, I just have not been following that particular area of debate. 00:47:31-1
JN: Another practice to link different language spaces is to cite or refer to a source in another language. Have been doing that or seeing that? 00:47:46-1
WL: I have seen here and there. It’s less common in the English obviously because most of resources are in English. It’s much more common in other languages that have less academic or less sources in their own language, especially online. Obviously because it’s a website, it is easier to link to other websites and more websites are in English. The smaller the language becomes, or the less internet centric the language become, the more likely to see references in English or German or whatever. So it’s not very common in the English edition, it does happen and what will generally happen is you pretty much have to justify why a foreign language reference is being used instead of an English language reference. You have prove that no English language source exists and it’s good to provide a Google translate link for example or some attempt to providing a translation option. 00:49:14-5
JN: If you recall the few examples you have seen, what kind of sources have this been? 00:49:17-2
WL: Especially about subjects that are very specific to that language. So an authorof the article about a book or about a poet or about a particular … something that has to do with that language is an obvious case where you set that kind of thing. And archives, when there is something that exists as a physical document in an archive somewhere, it will have to be referenced. 00:50:21-1
JN: So would you say it’s either cultural sources or official documents when you think about politics? 00:50:21-6
WL: Yes, that’s very good. That’s for English because if there was something like for example chemistry, if there was a non-English language reference in a chemistry article that be very strange because anything that is notable in sciences in say Dutch, if it’s notable then it’s probably in English as well. So I would be very surprises to see a foreign language reference in scientific articles. 00:51:11-7
JN: When you have been editing, had you have an idea who is ‘reading’ the version you contribute to? Did you have a sense of being ‘read’ so to say? 00:51:27-0
WL: You never know who is reading it. Now you can check the number of views on any article, you can look the statistics up for any article. That wasn’t easy before, it’s now easy. But that still gives no indication of where, why or who the readers are. 00:51:51-7
JN: On Wikipedia you a lot of different kind of styles of how people edit. There are some articles, for instance, that are nearly scientific essays and others keep it very short and in a simple language, other set a lot of links to other articles and explain terms that they use, others assume that people know already a lot of things etc. So maybe if you think about this question ‘How you write?’, can you then think about for who you write? 00:52:32-9
WL: Yes, you have to invent the idea of an encyclopaedic style and that is different for everyone. But it’s interesting and learn how to write. I now take photographs for example when I have a camera. I take photographs thinking ‘Is this an encyclopaedic photograph o is this an arrtistic photograph?` because most often they are not the same thing. 00:53:14-1
JN: If you link to other articles, can see some pattern if you think about the dichotomy of ‘old’/’new’ knowledge? Why do you link to another article or insert a photo? 00:53:35-7
WL: It’s subjective, it’s very … an attempt to describe a topic? If someone knew nothing about it what would they be reasonably expected to know and reasonably expected to learn more about. It’s more difficult in smaller languages, you have to link more things. But like in English we have lots of subarticles and quite specific subject articles, you don’t need to link every single word because you can often refer to the more general article, An in the general article, it will link to the more general topics. In the specific articles you only need to link more specific other things. It’s quite subjective, it’s hard to be encyclopaedic, it’s difficult. It’s bit of an art. 00:55:29-9
JN: One case which was contested in terms of inserting pictures was the debate around the depiction of the article ‘Mohammad’. So ethnical and cultural issues may be another thing. Have you any idea about how to deal with such issues? 00:55:59-8
WL: That was a very complicated one or … a test case. Because it’s not like that’s the only time that someone will be offended or one culture will come up against another culture. Another major test case that we had previously was the article about Gdansk and that fight happens for three years whether we would call the article ‘Gdansk’ or whether we would call teh article ‘Danzig’. It was a huge fight and it became the central discussion about articles that had two names in different languages. And it ended up being quite practical, the outcome was quite practical but it’s important for culture. ‘This is may culture. How dare you say that my name for this thing is not correct’. It’s quite emotional. The Mohammad on was also very emotional and very easy to accuse people of being … of censorship or of cultural imperialism or of being narrow minded. I think in the end the outcome was both practical and also epistemologically correct. I am not sure if this is the correct way of saying … the principles of Wikipedia were the reasons why we chose the outcome we did, not because we wanted to annoy anyone or take a political stance but because of the principles of Wikipedia that is access to knowledge. So the outcome to show the images as respectfully as possible but still show them was on the basis that this was true, that this is real, that this happened, it is knowledge and to not demonstrate that fact is to not have free knowledge. 00:58:45-5
JN: I have seen that there is a working group on ethnical and cultural edit wars. Have you heard about this working group? 00:58:50-9
WL: No but I am not surprised that it exists. 00:58:58-9
JN: It aims at finding guidelines to solve such conflicts peacefully. Do you think it is possible to find something like guideline for ethnical or cultural edit wars? 00:59:11-1
WL: I think so. Wikipedia doesn’t have to pretend that we are the only people who are having this discussion. If the discussion is happening in Wikipedia, it means by definition that this is a broader debate in the society at large. For example, there is a question across the world about the rights of indigenous people of the world to have control over their own culture and their own cultural heritage and maybe get thing giving back to them from museums. That’s a big issue in cultural studies at the moment and anthropology and is also becoming an issue in Wikipedia. But we don’t have to pretend that we are the only people working guidelines or working out ways of describing this because those other places are also trying to do that. We don’t really know it yet, we have to start to work with those other places. And they would probably start to work with us as they see if are having the same problem. I have been asked for example by … this is an issue in Australia for the Australian aborigines and I have been asked by Australian museums what do we do when an indigenous cultures says ‘You know about my songs and dances and stories … my mythical stories of my culture but you shouldn’t. They were supposed to be secret stories, for only the elder or only the women or whatever’. So if they were taken by the colonizers or whatever, should we delete those stories and photographs from Wikipedia because that was never supposed to be free knowledge in the first place, that was always specialist knowledge, that was always secret knowledge. Is that respectful or if we delete those stories is that censorship? 01:01:54-4
JN: A different question that may be linked or not: What would you define as political knowledge or what idea you would attach to it? 01:02:01-5
WL: How do I define political knowledge? Maybe this translates difficult. By political knowledge do you mean the kind of like journalism about what is happening in politics in my country at the moment? Or do you mean political theory, the ability for me to study history or study ideas about politics and to read about capitalism and to read about communism etc? Or do you mean more of a kind of a free speech idea that people should able to say what they want to say? 01:03:20-4
JN: I don’t give a definition. I was just kind of wondering what kind of aspects you would attach to it. 01:03:25-1
JN: When it comes to discussion about bias, do you have the feeling that some ‘political colours’ are rather to be found in the English version than others? 01:03:50-1
WL: I am used to see when people try and define Wikipedia by a political angle, people generally define it by the opposite politics. So I have heard very right wing people describe Wikipedia as communist because they have no private property and everything is shared etc. And I have equally heard people from the left describe Wikipedia as libertarian as far right because it is all about freedom of individual and anyone can do whatever they want. So most of the time, people define the politics of Wikipedia as the thing they don’t like. Because it could be anything which is why we have articles ‘Wikipedia is not a democracy’, ‘Wikipedia is not anarchy’, ‘Wikipedia is not communism’ etc. because it’s not really anything. 01:05:20-3
JN: Speaking in broader terms, would you say there is a political stance found in all or many Wikipedias or would you reject such an assumption? 01:05:24-3
WL: It tries not but probably there’s the politics of the kind of people who edit and we know from statistics, from surveys that on average Wikipedians are well educated, Western, male, in their twenties and thirties and obviously connected to the internet. Generally speaking you find what is the average political general political feeling of that kind of demographic in various countries and that’s is probably the average bias of that language Wikipedia. 00:01:41-2
JN: If you look back at your early edits in the main namespace in the English language Wikipedia, have there been also issues you’ve been involved you would say political or politicized? 00:01:50-1
WL: No. When I was editing articles, it was quite early and I didn’t want to get involved in those discussions. I didn’t feel qualified. 00:02:14-3
JN: If you imagine you edited about political issues. When would you consider something as important, as notable? When it comes to political issues do you think it is important because it is in the public debate or is it important because it is not in the public debate, and that is why people should know about it? Or there is a debate but it is very fuzzy, so an article would help to clarify etc.? What opinion do you have when it comes to question what political issue should be in or out of the Wikipedia?
WL: I think the important thing to remember with Wikipedia is that it’s not the arbitray of truth, so it is not the place where the truth is discovered or where journalism should happen. It outsources truth, so it does not contain information or it should not contain information that are not discussed already elsewhere, so it should not be considered to be the place where the alternative discussion happens, where the things that are not said by the mainstream media can be discussed, that’s an important role for someone to be, that’s not the role for Wikipedia. 00:06:16-8
JN: If you think in the framework you want Wikipedia to be set in, what kind of sources would you trust when it comes to political topics? 00:06:25-6
WL: I would like to see us using more sources that are thw historical academic discussions rather than simply using media reports or sort of a popular account of things. But actually looking at the academic and professional histories of this particular political things, not just newspapers. 00:07:16-2
JN: Where would you look in order to get an idea about what different point of views to include? 00:07:30-4
WL: That really depends on the article. Especially for the older things, there is not goona be as much internet reporting and for things that are happening not in the developed world, then there would be less internet sources or less sources in English. Sometimes there is only newspaper reports or only very vague reporting but that’s bad in general, not just bad for Wikipedia. That’s a problem for journalism and for history in general when there is not much good sources. That’s not our problem. That’s not unique to us. That’s a problem for journalism getting the story. 00:08:45-7
JN: While there is the opinion that Wikipedia is not news, there is also the opinion the Wikipedia is becoming increasingly a news producer. 00:09:26-1
WL: That’s the short history that I was talking about before. Some people don’t like that, some people call this ‘recentism’ as a bad thing. I believe this is the case in the German edition that you don’t have articles about things until they have settled down and stopped changing. When something is recent, that is happening now the quality of the sources is quite low and therefore the expectation of those sources is quite low and the requirement, the minimum standard is quite low. As time goes on and there are better sources, our criteria get stronger, get more strigent and the article becomes more stable and more encylopaedic. But I think that initial state, that initial ‘Shit, what is happening, where are the sources? There is only this source here, let’s just use it that’s all we have’ is a really important thing and should be kept in Wikipedia. That’s a really interesting thing that Wikipedia does and does it very well, so I think we should be encouranging that. 00:10:50-7


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