In the news: Korea convicts a Wikipedia editor and the war in Veyshnoria

“We have always been at war with Veyshnoria”


The imaginary country of Veyshnoria has acquired a life of its own, complete with national anthem (“Naimon“), flag, social media accounts, a website for information about immigration, all coordinated by a fake Minister of Foreign Affairs on Twitter, and Wikipedia articles in Russian, English, and Ukrainian.  The country Veyshnoria, along with the equally fictional Lubenia and Veshbaria, are located within the borders of the non-fictional Belarus.   The countries were created for war exercises, and are said to resemble a political map of Poland.  Others say the map looks like the Roman Catholic part of Belarus.  After a tweet that offered a reward of “stew, honey, bread and lard” to invading Belarusian soldiers who were willing to surrender, the imaginary Veyshnoria immigration website received hundreds of applications for citizenship.

The Russian language Wikipedia entry for Veyshnoria (Вейшнория) has now been redirected to Запад-2017. , the Zapad 2017 military exercise between Russia and Belarus that is scheduled for mid-September in Belarus, but there is still an English language article for Veyshnoria, and one in Ukrainian. Still no article for the Lithuanian nemesis “Udija“.

Korea criminalizes editing Wikipedia

The Seoul Central District Court went after a Korean Wikipedia editor after the entries for Moon Jae-in, the current president of South Korea, and Lee Jae-myung, the mayor of Seongnam, a suburb of Seoul were changed to say they were from North Korea. The edits were removed 6 hours later, but that didn’t stop the courts from convicting and fining the head of a software firm for $3,564.

Hebrew Wikipedia deletionist debates

Israeli newspaper Haaretz has published an article about the Hebrew Wikipedia’s deletion discussions that it considers elite enough to put behind its premium content paywall, although it is still available though search engines. At issue was whether Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 25-year-old son Yair Netanyahu should have an article on the Hebrew Wikipedia.  In the end, the younger Netanyahu got an article, but only at the cost of undeleting an article for another prime minister’s son, Shaul Olmert, the son of Ehud Olmert. In a seemingly unrelated discussion reminiscent of the Pokeman character argument for inclusionism, the article also points out that individual characters for the Game of Thrones have their own articles on Hebrew Wikipedia, as does the former caretaker of Netanyahu’s residence, who has lately been leading protests.  The entry for the Likud party’s liberal caucus has likewise been undeleted, after a resurgence of the New Likudniks, however an article for an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic blogger failed to pass the notability discussion. There was also a nearly unanimous decision that the word kef (fun) should no longer redirect to hana’ah (enjoyment), but deserves a separate article.

The limits of comment-ranking algorithms

Author Violet Blue tried the Jigsaw Perspective tool for identifying toxic comments, and says the most toxic way a user can identify themselves is “I am a woman who is deaf.”, while the least toxic is “I am a man”.  According to Blue, “…what’s also being created is a culture where we can’t even talk about abuse.”

Put Wikipedia on your flash drive

The India Times reports that Xowa will help you download Wikipedia to a computer for offline viewing.

Houston megachurch trolled for flood refugees

The article for Houston megachurch pastor Joel Osteen was vandalized after reports that the church, which occupies a former sports stadium, would not open its doors to flood refugees. The church has since announced plans to participate in flood relief.

Armenian Wiki-camp in France

The Portugal-based Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation sponsored one-week Wiki-camp from 12 to 20 August 2017 at La Bourboule, in the Auvergne region in central France to promote the Western Armenian language.  The camp brought in 16-25 year olds from Armenia, Lebanon, Istanbul, France, Greece, and United States, and taught them how to edit the Armenian Wikipedia. Previous Armenian wiki-camps were held in Lebanon and Portugal and had over 60 participants.  The 2017 camp had 44 participants and was free of charge. The number of articles in the Western Armenian Wikipedia has increased from  650 articles in 2015, when the first wiki-camp was held, to 5565 in 2017.

AI company buys Wikipedia-like profile app

Meltwater, a company that specializes in data science and AI, has bought Algo, an app that builds profiles and is billed as “the AI-powered equivalent of Wikipedia”.  Algo is said to have millions of downloads and appears to aggregate topics like news and traffic.

Wikipedia iOS app

The latest version of the official Wikipedia app for iOS, including iPhone and iPad, features a dark mode for dimming at night, a new “On this day” feature, plus iMessage stickers that allow you to send your relatives a “citation needed” sticker when they send you Fake News.

More vandalism

In the wake of the Charlottesville events, Trump’s name was briefly added to Wikipedia’s list of Confederate presidents and the article for Grand Wizard, the title given to the head of the KKK. The edits were discovered and removed after 30 minutes.

Wikimedians featured

Claire Murray, Alice White and Jess Wade have a piece in the Royal Society of Chemistry on “Improving gender balance on Wikipedia” about London events for improving Wikipedia coverage of women in science.

Dr. James Heilman was featured in a piece “B.C. physician writes — and fixes — Wikipedia medical information” in the Vancouver Sun.  In the piece he mentions the Kiwix-based mobile app for offline access to Wikipedia medical content.

A piece by Thomas Shafee, Daniel Mietchen, and Andrew I. Su in Science (first page only before paywall) “Academics can help shape Wikipedia” encourages academics to engage with Wikipedia.

Turkey wants to lift WP ban

The Turkish minister of Telecommunications said Turkey’s ban of Wikipedia could be lifted if Wikipedia complies with Turkey’s demands. Turkey has blocked access to Wikipedia since April.

Israeli “Wikipedia” hit song

Israeli music superstar Hanan Ben Ari’s latest hit single is called “Wikipedia“. In it he argues against categorization: “Do not put me in a cage.  Do not summarize me on Wikipedia.”

Siri gives offensive answer from Wikipedia

Siri, when asked about Indian people, gave an offensive answer, based on an old vandalism edit.

Wikimania coverage

Canadian press sources cited Jimmy Wales in the Montreal opening of the annual Wikimedia conference. In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, Wales spoke of a “post truth world”, and his WikiTribute project.

Google memo

The Google Memo has sparked heavy editing of Wikipedia articles about related topics of neuroticism, sex differences in psychology, and empathizing-systemizing theory.

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