Tag Archives: Wikipedia

Poland to honor Wikipedia with monument

Wikipedia is very popular in Poland. Picture: Wikimedia

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A university professor says that an eastern Polish town is taking up his suggestion and will put up a monument to honor the authors of Wikipedia, the Internet encyclopedia which allows anyone to contribute.

Krzysztof Wojciechowski, director of the Collegium Polonicum in Slubice, said Thursday that he is in awe of the huge and reliable job done by the Wikipedia, vastly popular in Poland.

In this image made available from Krzysztof Wojciechowski of the Collegium Polonicum in Slubice, Poland, a model statue which has been put forward by university professor Krzysztof Wojciechowski as a monument tribute to honor the authors of the online Internet encyclopedia site Wikipedia, which will be unveiled in the western Polish town of Slubice, it is announced Thursday Oct. 9, 2014. The monument will be unveiled in Slubice, Poland, on Oct.22 to honor the authors of Wikipedia. The online encyclopedia is hugely popular in Poland, with more than 1 million Polish entries in Wikipedia. (AP Photo/ Adam Czernenko, Krzysztof Wojciechowski of the Collegium Polonicum in Slubice)

More than 1 million entries in Wikipedia are in Polish, rivaling the number in French or Spanish.

“I’m ready to drop to my knees before the Wikipedia, that’s why I thought of a monument where I could do it,” Wojciechowski told The Associated Press.

The 47,000 zlotys ($14,000; 11,000 euros) fiber and resin statue is funded by Slubice authorities and will be unveiled Oct. 22.


Moscow lifts ban on Russian Wikipedia

Moscow on Tuesday lifted a ban on the Russian-language version of Wikipedia less than a day after imposing it.

Internet regulator Roskomnadzor said an article about Charas, a form of hashish, ruled illegal by a local court in June, had now been sufficiently edited on Russian Wikipedia to put the online encyclopedia in compliance with the ruling.

The webpage has therefore been excluded from its internet blacklist, it added.

The "Wikipedia" logo is seen on a tablet screen

Several Russian internet service providers started blocking access to the Russian-language Wikipedia site after the regulator added it to its registry of forbidden information on Monday.

Internet users in some Russian regions saw a notice from the registry instead of the Wikipedia page when trying to access it.

Wikipedia said the outlawing of some information triggered a blacklisting of the entire service because the website uses the secure protocol HTTPS which prevents the filtering and censoring of its content from the outside.

Russian Wikipedia said the entry in question had already been edited to rely only on public scientific and UN sources before Monday’s ban.

The lifting of the ban defuses what threatened to become the most serious fallout yet from growing Russian internet censorship on global internet services. So far, stricter internet regulations introduced over the past three years have mainly hit Russia’s online media.

However, the shortlived ban demonstrated to a larger audience the impact stricter internet control rules introduced in early 2014 can have. Since then, the authorities have had the power to blacklist websites without a court order.

Following these legal changes, the list of web pages blocked in Russia on orders of the prosecutor-general has quickly grown. Information on drugs tops the list of reasons given for blocking orders, but charges of extremism and threats to state security are also common.

Wikipedia Available as a Printed Book

wikipedia book

The English edition of Wikipedia Encyclopedia contains around 5 million articles and if someone were to print the entire Wikipedia encyclopedia into a book, the size of the printed book would roughly be equivalent to 2000+ volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica (source).

wikipedia printed

Rob Matthews, a graphics design student from UK, converted 5000 pages of Wikipedia into a printed book in 2012. He downloaded few hundred featured articles from Wikipedia and bound them together in a physical book that was almost 1’7″ thick.

Rob’s website (rob-matthews.com) has been taken over by domain squatters but the pictures of the printed Wikipedia book have survived.

wikipedia printed books

While Rob limited his printed book to the featured articles, Michael Mandiberg’s team has a more ambitious plan. They’re working on making the entire English-language Wikipedia in print format. The work has about 7500 volumes, each made up of 700 pages, and you’ll soon be order individual volumes from Lulu.

Wikipedia Book Index

The project launched at the Denny Gallery this month and visitors to the exhibition can see the process in real time as Wikipedia pages are converted in digital books and uploaded to Lulu. A Twitter bot, @PrintedWikipedia updates when new volumes are added to the book library.

print wikipedia

Here are pictures of the Printed Wikipedia project courtesy Wikimedia.

Print your own Wikipedia Book

Wikipedia does include a built-in book creator that would let anyone, include anonymous non-logged users, create ebooks from Wikipedia articles. You can download these ebooks as PDF files or send them to a print-on-demand service like Lulu or PediaPress and have a custom printed book made of your favorite Wikipedia pages. See more Wikipedia tools.

Why learning Spanish, not Mandarin, is the best way to globalize your ideas

Celebrity investor Jim Rogers famously moved to Singapore so his kids would grow up learning Mandarin Chinese. Others argue Russian or Arabic are the ticket to riches.

But if it’s global influence you’re after, maybe it’s time to scrap the Baby Mandarin classes. In a fascinating new study (pdf) mapping the flow of information online, and through book translations, found the languages that reach the most linguistically diverse readership tend to be the ones most connected by multilingual speakers—English, Spanish, French, and German, to name a few (the team’s interactive website lets you delve into each language).

This map plots the activity of Wikipedia editors contributing to the site’s various language editions:

Line thickness indicates the number of Wikipedia editors using both languages, while the size of the circles represents—in a non-linear way—the number of people who speak the language.

(“Links that speak: The global language network and its association with global fame,” Ronen et al. 2014)
Their maps also analyzed the direct and indirect flow of information via two other channels: translation of books and bilingual or multilingual Twitter users:

Twitter line thickness indicates likelihood that a user Tweets in both languages.(“Links that speak: The global language network and its association with global fame,” Ronen et al. 2014)

Line thickness indicates volume of translations; arrow points to the language into which the work is translated.

(“Links that speak: The global language network and its association with global fame,” Ronen et al. 2014)

As you can see, some languages are more isolated than others—and speaking a language favored by polyglots connects you with a more diverse range of tongues. 

This means that the ideas of, say, Portuguese-only writers are much more likely to reach a monolingual Pole than the ideas of a Chinese-only writer, thanks to Portuguese’s relatively stronger connectivity in the global language network.

To check these findings against other measures of a language’s global significance, the scientists used two independent datasets, controlling for the number of speakers and GDP.

In some cases, the the global language network predicted the number of famous people born into the language with accuracy levels that are “unheard of” in social sciences, explains César Hidalgo, a computer scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who co-authored the study.

Of course, the study’s authors emphasize that their research omits oral communication, and reflects mainly activity of elite intellectuals.

Another potential quibble with their methodology: The Chinese government bars a billion or so Chinese readers from using Twitter anda good deal of Wikipedia.

Hidalgo says this isn’t exaclty a glitch, though.

“The exclusion of people in mainland China from Wikipedia and Twitter are not a bias, but a reality,” he says, noting that the prevalence of VPNs mean the Great Firewall isn’t “as mighty as it looks.”

Seen this way, the study suggests the Great Firewall might hamstring China’s quest for global influence. For instance, Shahar Ronen, another author also at MIT, tells Science that governments concerned with boosting linguistic soft power to “invest in translating more documents, encouraging more people to tweet in their national language”—which China is clearly not going to do any time soon.

“On the other side, if I want our ideas to spread, we should pick a second language that’s very well-connected,” says Ronen.

Even though English-speakers abound in mainland China, the Great Firewall has sprouted China’s own social networks, encyclopedias, and news networks—platforms so rigidly monolingual they’re unlikely ever to connect global polyglots.

Asked what might happen if the Great Firewall were suddenly lifted, Hidalgo said he expected a gradual Chinese increase in Twitter and Wikipedia participation.

“I am not sure if this would make Chinese a ‘bridge’ language, however,” he says, “since this would require Chinese speakers to speak Chinese and many other languages.”

Wikiwand Gives Us The Wikipedia Redesign Jimmy Wales Won’t


We’ve seen our share of concepts for imbuing Wikipedia with a more modern and responsive design. But it’s not likely that Jimmy Wales and Co. will adopt any of them–or any radical redesign, for that matter. The reason why is relatively straightforward.


Wikipedia wants its site to work just as well on 10-year-old computers with low-resolution monitors and slow dial-up connections as it does on more modern devices.

So Wikipedia plays things conservatively. But there’s no reason you can’t enjoy a better-looking Wikipedia.

Wikiwand is a tool that showcases Wikipedia articles with better typography, navigation, and layout on both widescreen and mobile devices. Using Wikiwand is easy.


Instead of going to Wikipedia’s website, just search for your articles through Wikiwand.com, which will then dynamically translate your articles into a more responsive layout with big, beautiful header images, easier-to-read typography, a universal navigation panel, and more.

If you’re a Google Chrome user, you can even install an extension that will automatically translate Wikipedia links into the Wikiwand format. Because the extension intelligent pre-fetches assets, the Chrome extension actually allows you to load Wikipedia pages faster than on Wikipedia proper.

Wikiwand’s not going to be for everyone–the abundance of italics in the Wikiwand design makes our editor Suzanne LaBarre seethe in a festering rage–but if you’ve been looking forward to Wikipedia joining the rest of the Internet here in good ol’ 2014, it’s certainly worth a look. I might never go back to stock Wikipedia again.

Wikipedia warns that EU legislation will create ‘Orwellian memory holes’ in the internet

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has described the EU’s ‘right to be forgotten’ laws as “censorship” today, warning that “history is a human right and one of the worst things that a person can do is attempt to use force to silence another.”

Speaking at Wikipedia’s annual Wikimedia conference in London, Wales revealed that Google has been asked to remove five links to the encyclopaedia since the EU ruling came into force in May – all of which have been catalogued by Wikipedia’s parent company, the Wikimedia foundation.

Two of the links were to the English version of Wikipedia, including the page on Gerry Hutch, an Irish criminal alleged to be one of the country’s most successful bank robbers, and an image of musician Tom Carstairs in concert.

Links removed to other versions of Wikipedia included two Italian language pages related to figures in the Mafia (namely crime boss Renato Vallanzasca and crime group La Banda della Comasina) and a link to a page from the Dutch version of Wikipedia about amateur chess player Guido den Broeder.

The take down notices do not make it clear which search results have been edited in accordance to the EU. The legislation can only alter searches for specific names, which might have appeared only in relation to an article (say in the comments) rather than being the subject of it.

Wales, who founded Wikipedia in 2001, has been a vocal critic of the EU ruling and said that the online encyclopaedia would be joining social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook in publishing an annual ‘Transparency Report’, detailing requests by government bodies to access user data or take down content.

The first report – covering the period between July 2012 and June 2014 – cites 304 requests to take down content, none of which were granted. These include one request to remove a well-known ‘selfie’ of a monkey in which the owner of the camera argued that he had copyright on the picture. Wikipedia asserted that as he did not take the picture (the monkey did) he did not own the copyright.

Speaking at the conference, Wikimedia Foundation executive director Lila Tretikov warned that the ‘right to be forgotten’ could create an internet riddled with Orwellian “memory holes” where “inconvenient information simply disappears.”

“The European court abandoned its responsibility to protect one of the most important and universal rights: the right to seek, receive, and impart information,” said Tretikov.

Russian government edits Wikipedia on flight MH17

A political battle has broken out on Wikipedia over an entry relating to the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, with the Russian government reportedly removing sections which accuse it of providing “terrorists” with missiles that were used to down the civilian airliner

A political battle has broken out on Wikipedia over an entry relating to the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, with the Russian government reportedly removing sections which accuse it of providing “terrorists” with missiles that were used to down the civilian airliner.

A Twitter bot which monitors edits made to the online encyclopaedia from Russian government IP addresses (unique numbers relating to certain computers or networks) has spotted that changes are being made to a page relating to the crash.

It appears that an internet user from within the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) changed a Russian language version of a page listing civil aviation accidents to say that “The plane [flight MH17] was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers”.

That edit replaced text – written just an hour earlier – which said MH17 had been shot down “by terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists received from the Russian Federation.”

All edits to Wikipedia are permanently logged, with the username and IP address being stored along with the changes they have made.

An automated Twitter bot called congress-edits was created to monitor for changes made from US Congress computers and immediately tweet them. The source code powering that project was released to the public, allowing the creation of RUGovEdits which performs a similar role in Russia.

A tweet today from that account, translated into English, says: “Wikipedia article List of aircraft accidents in civil aviation has been edited by RTR [another name for VGTRK]”.

Flight MH17 crashed in Ukraine on Thursday, on the border with Russia, with 298 people on board. There were no survivors.

Ukraine’s interior ministry says the plane was shot down by a missile, while President Obama on Friday afternoon also said that it was likely to have been targeted by separatists.

Mr Obama said that the US does not “want to get ahead of the facts” but added: “A group of separatists cannot shoot down military planes without sophisticated equipment – and that is coming from Russia.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied any responsibility, however, telling advisers on Friday that: “certainly, the government over whose territory it occurred is responsible for this terrible tragedy.”

If the Russian government has indeed edited the page it will be far from the first time that politically or commercially embarrassing Wikipedia updates have been exposed.

In 2006 United States Congressional staff were found to have edited articles about members of Congress, Microsoft once offered an engineer money to update articles on two competing standards, PR firm Bell Pottinger tweaked articles about its clients and, in 2012, MPs were discovered to have asked their staff to remove criticism about them.