Slashdot

3.3472803347193 (717)
Posted by sonny 03/11/2009 @ 05:10

Tags : slashdot, blogs, blogosphere, internet, technology

News headlines
Slashdot optimally balances customers, contributors, and lurkers - CNET News
I didn't mind the ads before on Slashdot, but I can imagine some would happily buy their way out of the ads. If I did mind the ads, however, I'd far prefer to contribute my way out of seeing them, rather than paying my way to this same end....
Log In Nickname Password Public Terminal - Slashdot
Their Subscriber Agreement seems a bit abusive and I am hoping the Slashdot community can tell me if this is normal with today's isps or should I be avoided this like the plague? Excerpts include that subscriber will not be involved in "Transmitting,...
Switching My Dad to Linux--Part One - ITworld.com
This is an epic cliche of the Slashdot-like Linux people, who will often post a comment like: "I switched my grandmother to Gentoo and she's never looked back! I had to teach her to use the optimization flag when compiling code, but now her system is...
Suspicion on the FCC's Broadband Over Power Lines - Slashdot
Trials and advances have been discussed on Slashdot many times but the Federal Communications Commission's go ahead has now been called into question by the American Radio Relay League who used a FOIA request to obtain non-redacted documents....
Amazon lets conmen cash-in on other people's blogs - PC Pro
Customers can pay $1.99 a month to read the Slashdot feed, for example. This week the company launched a beta of Kindle Publishing for Blogs, which allows any blog owner - not only major publishers - to submit their blog and take a 30% cut on...
Two Arrested in Fraudulent Gift Card Operation - WCTV
That's some of the worst grammar I've seen since the last time I visited slashdot... The GA Knight Riders should pay him a visit. It really isn't complicated at all. The hardest part is getting the car info from the mark. That is usually done by an...
Four short links: 15 May 2009 - O'Reilly Radar
(via Slashdot) Game Web 2.Over? (Meg Pickard) -- update of the classic "wall o' Web 2.0 logos" showing which have folded or been bought. I'm glad to see how many have folded; many were the inevitable "me too"ing of initial successes, and many were...
Publishers hit Kindle Text-to-Speech kill-switch - SlashGear
As Slashdot raises, Amazon has not made clear what other flags might be present in its Kindle format. While currently the Kindle DRM is known to prevent loading of the file onto non-Amazon ebook reader devices, and now to allow remote switch-off of TTS...
Lies, Damn Lies and Linux Market Share Statistics - LinuxInsider.com
Bloggers at Linux Today, Slashdot (not just once, but twice), Computerworld, Digg ( one, two and three times), LXer ( once and then again) and the Linux Loop jumped on the topic in short order, leaving a trail of broken pencils, empty coffee cups and...

Slashdot

Slashdot's main page layout

The summaries for the stories are generally submitted by Slashdot's own readers with editors accepting or rejecting these contributions for general posting. Slashdot itself is well known for its pro-open source bias. Though the site predates the modern concept of the weblog, Slashdot's architecture is similar to that of modern blogs. The content management system, Slash, has long been available under the GNU General Public License.

Created in September 1997 by Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda, Slashdot is now owned by SourceForge, Inc. The site is run primarily by Malda, Jeff "Hemos" Bates (who handles articles and book reviews and sells advertising) and Robin "Roblimo" Miller who helps handle some of the more managerial tasks of the site, as well as posting stories. The site is headquartered in Dexter, Michigan.

To prevent abusive comments, a moderation system has been implemented whereby every comment posted (including those posted anonymously) has a starting score which can be incremented or decremented by semi-randomly chosen moderators. When moderating, the moderator chooses a given descriptor (such as "insightful", "funny", "troll") and each descriptor has a positive or negative value associated with it. As such, posts not only are scored, but characterized ("20% insightful, 80% interesting"). Users can configure the value of each descriptor. The descriptors available are normal, offtopic, flamebait, troll, redundant, insightful, interesting, informative, funny, overrated, and underrated.

Moderation points added to a comment are also added to a user's karma score. Having high karma gives one bonus point to posts made by that author. (Being a registered poster adds one more, so that the highest normally achieved starting score is two).

Conversely, users with low karma have penalties imposed on them. People that post comments designed to get more karma, for example mirroring a linked article or presenting a banal groupthink opinion or lame joke, are often referred to as karma whores. Those who can moderate are selected by their karma score and number of meta moderations (and maybe other criteria). Slashdot editors, including Rob Malda ("CmdrTaco"), can moderate limitlessly. Moderator access for non-editors is time limited to a few days.

A given comment can have any integer score from −1 to +5, and Slashdot users can set a personal threshold where no comments with a lesser score are displayed. A person browsing the comments at a threshold of 1 will not see comments with a score of −1 or 0 but will see all others.

A meta-moderation system was implemented to moderate the moderators and help contain abuses.

Karma is implemented in the Slash Content management system and hence is generally used by all the sites that use this software.

All posts with scores −1 through 3 are hidden by default when not logged in.

Meta-moderation is a Slashdot mechanism whereby a reader can volunteer to review the correctness of moderation decisions. The reader is presented with eight to ten moderation decisions made by other readers and is asked to say whether or not those moderation choices were fair, by reading the post which was moderated and considering the moderation given.

The correctness of users' initial moderations, as determined by the users who are meta-moderating them, affects how often the initial moderators are given moderation points, so a reader who moderates but constantly has their moderation decisions marked incorrect under meta-moderation will only infrequently be given moderation points.

Slashdot has about 5.5 million users per month, and encourages its readers to read the articles linked to in the summary. This leads to a sudden upsurge in people visiting any website linked to, a phenomenon known as the "Slashdot effect". Sometimes the website's server is unable to cope with the level of traffic, and the site becomes unresponsive: the site is said to be "slashdotted".

The demand on the servers is reduced as the Slashdot story is moved down or off the front page from new stories being posted. Some webmasters have responded (either before or during a Slashdotting) by replacing dynamic content with static content on that page, to reduce the load and allow their servers to handle more requests. Rarely, a webmaster will take the entire page down or replace it with a blank page temporarily if the traffic is not wanted. Today, most major websites can handle the surge of traffic, but Slashdotting continues to occur on smaller or independent sites.

The Apache and BSD sections are still posted to, although they no longer enjoy a place in the main site navigation. The Geeks in Space section was a web audio broadcast featuring several of the editors of Slashdot; there have been no recent updates to this section.

One recurring problem is the frequency of reposts (also known as "dupes"), where editors approve articles for the front page, often slightly re-worded, that have previously appeared on the site. One proposed solution is to have mandatory procedures to search for Slashdot dupes before an article is published.

Slashdot has also been accused of "dumbing down" since introducing a new "idle" section in 2008.

As Slashdot has existed for so many years, it has developed its own subculture, especially running jokes and gags, and the continued obsession with repeating certain quotes or phrases, as well as the use of obscure puns, collectively referred to as Slashdot-Memes.

Slashdot also has a system of "tags" put in place where users can categorize a story with a tag that is all lowercase, has no spaces, and is limited to 64 characters.

Additionally, the ID of the Slashdot user is sometimes regarded as a sign of how 1337 the user is, although this is not taken very literally. Having a user ID that is a prime number or other significant mathematical number is also valued. Some people have successfully sold their Slashdot ID (usually because it was a low 4 digit or smaller), although the website's policy on this isn't exactly clear. Slashdot assigns user ID numbers in the order that the user registered; i.e., lower user ID numbers correspond to older accounts. A 3 digit user ID was among a number of items that were auctioned for the benefit of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Recently, a Slashdot community poll indicated that the 'In Soviet Russia...' meme is considered the most popular in Slashdot's first 10 years. The grits meme received the fewest votes.

While Slashdot's core audience is often said to consist of Linux enthusiasts and various other enthusiasts of the open source software movement, there is a significant Windows audience as well. A poll on Slashdot suggests that approximately half of all Slashdot visitors use Microsoft Windows as their operating system, a third use some form of Linux, and above ten percent use Mac OS X. But only 32% claim not to use Windows. Polls on Slashdot, like most on the Internet, may be unreliable (all Slashdot polls include the disclaimer "If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane"). The ongoing assumption that Slashdot is Linux-oriented comes from historical reasons and from its famous Bill Gates "Borg" icon, as well as the strong anti-Microsoft postings made by Slashdot members. Despite this reputation, a significant number of Slashdot stories are related to Windows video games or applications, or Microsoft security bulletins.

Several engineers from NASA involved in the Mars rover exploration projects have also participated in Slashdot's forums.

Slashdot Japan is owned by OSDN, Inc. (part of SunBridge Corp. (ex-part of VA Linux Systems Japan, the subsidiaries of SourceForge, Inc.) ), led by Oliver M. Bolzer. It started beta test on 2001-05-09, and began operation on 2001-05-28. However, the first Slashdot Japan news article was published on 2001-04-05.

The site carries some of the original Slashdot articles, and localized Japanese news.

To the top



Slashdot effect

The Slashdot effect, also known as slashdotting, is the phenomenon of a popular website linking to a smaller site, causing the smaller site to slow down or even temporarily close due to the increased traffic. The name stems from the huge influx of web traffic that results from the technology news site Slashdot linking to websites. The effect has been associated with other websites or metablogs such as Fark, Drudge Report and Digg, leading to terms such as being Farked or Drudged and the Digg effect. Typically, less robust sites are unable to cope with the huge increase in traffic and become unavailable – common causes are lack of sufficient data bandwidth, servers that fail to cope with the high number of requests, and traffic quotas. Sites that are maintained on shared hosting services often fail when confronted with the Slashdot effect.

Links from other popular websites can cause problems comparable to this effect – see traffic overload.

Sites such as Slashdot, Digg, and Fark consist of brief submitted stories and a self-moderated discussion on each story. The typical submission introduces a news item or website of interest by linking to it. In response, large masses of readers tend to simultaneously rush to view the referenced sites. The ensuing flood of page requests from readers can exceed the site's available bandwidth or the ability of its servers to respond, and render the site temporarily unreachable.

Major news sites or corporate websites are typically engineered to serve large numbers of requests and therefore do not normally exhibit this effect. Websites that fall victim may be hosted on home servers, offer large images or movie files or have inefficiently generated dynamic content (e.g. many database hits for every web hit even if all web hits are requesting the same page). These websites often become unavailable within a few minutes of a story's appearance, even before any comments have been posted. Occasionally, paying Slashdot subscribers (who have access to stories before non-paying users) have rendered a site unavailable even before the story is posted for the general readership.

Few definitive numbers exist regarding the precise magnitude of the Slashdot effect, but estimates put the peak of the mass influx of page requests at anywhere from several hundred to several thousand hits per minute. The flood usually peaks when the article is at the top of the site's front page and gradually subsides as the story is superseded by newer items. Traffic usually remains at elevated levels until the article is pushed off the front page, which can take from 12 to 18 hours after its initial posting. However, some articles have significantly longer lifetimes due to the popularity, newsworthiness, or interest in the linked article; an example is the case of an announcement of Windows 2000 and Windows NT 4 source code leaks.

Some have recently commented that the Slashdot effect has been diminishing.

When the targeted website has a community-based structure, the term can also refer to the secondary effect of having a large group of new users suddenly set up accounts and start to participate in the community. While in some cases this has been considered a good thing, in others it is viewed with disdain by the prior members, as quite often the sheer number of new people brings many of the unwanted aspects of Slashdot along with it, such as trolling, vandalism, and newbie-like behavior.

Slashdot does not mirror the sites it links to on its own servers, nor does it endorse a third party solution. Mirroring of content may constitute a breach of copyright and, in many cases, cause ad revenue to be lost for the targeted site. The questionable legality of the practice is one of the primary reasons that Slashdot has not implemented mirroring.

One tool commonly advocated to assist smaller sites in bearing the load of a Slashdot effect is the Coral P2P Web Cache. The Coral caching system does not rewrite embedded links to pages or images, so is useful only for sites using relative links to images or other pages. Additionally, Coral will only serve content from the original site up to 24 hours after it becomes unreachable.

MirrorDot and Network Mirror are systems that automatically mirror any Slashdot-linked pages to ensure that the content remains available even if the original site becomes unresponsive. Rorr.im is a similar alternative for Digg users. Sites in the process of being Slashdotted may be able to mitigate the effect by temporarily redirecting requests for the targeted pages to one of these mirrors.

Protocols have been created (such as Backslash) that can help with this problem.

Companies in the network monitoring area have begun visually documenting what happens to a site's servers when a site is Slashdotted to assist IT staff in effectively upgrading the site. Some have begun experimenting with 3D visualizations.

Here, the site delivering the links is something other than Slashdot.

To the top



Jon Katz

Jon Katz at the 2008 Texas Book Festival.

Jonathan Katz (born 1947) is a U.S. journalist and author. He is known for his contributions to the online magazine HotWired, the technology website Slashdot, the online news magazine Slate.com, and his series of crime novels, books on the geek subculture, and his books on dogs.

Katz initially worked as a reporter and editor for The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post, and later as executive producer of the CBS Morning News. His media criticism, columns and book reviews appeared in such periodicals as Rolling Stone and New York (he was a contributing editor to both magazines), Wired, GQ, and The New York Times.

Expressing disenchantment with "traditional media", he joined the now defunct HotWired, the online version of Wired magazine, to which he contributed articles on technology, culture and the media.

In 1999, Katz left HotWired to join Slashdot.org. Many of his contributions to Slashdot were focused on the youth subculture of geeks and social misfits. In the article Voices from the Hellmouth, written shortly after the Columbine school shootings in Littleton, Colorado (near Denver), he commented on the relationship of the shootings with the angst and social isolation of teenage geeks within high school subcultures.

Katz's first article on Slate.com appeared in December 2005 and he has since become a regular contributor to the online magazine. The majority of his writings at Slate revolve around animals and his rural life.

Katz has written several novels as well as non-fiction works which cover topics ranging from geek culture to his relationship with dogs. He wrote a successful series of mystery novels centered around the character Kit DeLeeuw, a former Wall Street financier turned private investigator, based in the fictional Rochambeau, New Jersey.

Katz's writing was often criticized by Slashdot readers. Some criticism was leveled at Katz when he posted an article about an e-mail message he purportedly received from a teenager named "Junis" in Afghanistan who had just rejoined the Internet in late 2001. Some Slashdot readers believed the e-mail message to be a hoax or parody designed to fool Katz. According to Katz, Junis wrote his e-mail from "his ancient Commodore computer", which he had 'dug up' and was now using to download movies, pornography, and MP3s thanks to the recent liberation of Afghanistan. Because of the unlikelihood of performing these activities on the Commodore 64, some Slashdot readers felt this demonstrated Katz's lack of technical knowledge about computers. Katz responded to some of the criticisms and maintained that the message was real. An article in the Technology section of the New York Times discussed the Slashdot piece and its criticisms.

In 2002 Katz wrote his last article on Slashdot, about promoting his dog books using the internet. A number of those commenting criticized it as self-promotion.

Katz's books about dogs have received favorable reviews in the literary press, but have been met with a hostile reaction in segments of the border collie community. Notable examples of this criticism have included Donald McCaig's review of The Dogs of Bedlam Farm in The Bark magazine and Penny Tose's review of Katz on Dogs in The American Border Collie magazine, as well as comments on various Internet forums such as the BC Boards and the Working Stockdog Forum. Critics have faulted Katz for a fundamental lack of understanding of the dogs and their work and for offering misguided training advice while professing an expertise that he in fact lacks.. Katz has claimed to enjoy "riling the border collie snobs," but criticism of the author intensified after he gave away his second border collie and had the first put down for behavioral problems.

To the top



Open source journalism

Open source journalism, a close cousin to citizen journalism or participatory journalism, is a term coined in the title of a 1999 article by Andrew Leonard of Salon.com. Although the term was not actually used in the body text of Leonard's article, the headline encapsulated a collaboration between users of the internet technology weblog Slashdot and a writer for Jane's Intelligence Review. The writer, Johan J. Ingles-le Nobel, had solicited feedback on a story about cyberterrorism from Slashdot readers, and then re-wrote his story based on that feedback and compensated the Slashdot writers whose information and words he used. This early usage of the phrase clearly implied the paid use, by a mainstream journalist, of copyright-protected posts made in a public online forum. It thus referred to the standard journalistic techniques of news gathering and fact checking, and reflected a similar term that was in use from 1992 in military intelligence circles, open source intelligence.

The meaning of the term has since changed and broadened, and it is now commonly used to describe forms of innovative publishing of online journalism, rather than the sourcing of news stories by a professional journalist.

A relatively new development is the use of convergent polls, allowing editorials and opinions to be submitted and voted on. Overtime, the poll converges on the most broadly accepted editorials and opinions. Examples of this are OpinionRepublic.com and Digg.

At first sight, it would appear to many that weblogs fit within the current meaning of 'open source journalism'. Yet the term's use of open source clearly currently implies the meaning as given to it by the open source software movement; where the source code of programs is published openly to allow anyone to locate and fix mistakes or add new functions. Anyone may also freely take and re-use that source code in order to create new works, within set licence parameters.

Given certain legal traditions of copyright, weblogs may not be "open source" in the sense that one is prohibited from taking the weblogger's words or visitor comments and re-using them in another form without breaching the author's copyright or making payment. However, many weblogs draw on such material through quotations (often with links to the original material), and follow guidelines more comparable to research than media production.

Creative Commons is a licensing arrangement useful as a legal workaround for such an inherent structural dilemma intrinsic to weblogging, and its fruition is manifest in the common practices of referencing another published article, image or piece of information via a hyperlink. Insofar as weblog works can explicitly inform readers and other participants of the "openness" of their text via Creative Commons, they not only publish openly, but allow anyone to locate, critique, summarize etc their works.

To the top



Wikipedia

John Seigenthaler has described Wikipedia as "a flawed and irresponsible research tool."[57]

Critics of Wikipedia target its systemic bias and inconsistencies and its policy of favoring consensus over credentials in its editorial process. Wikipedia's reliability and accuracy are also an issue. Other criticisms are centered on its susceptibility to vandalism and the addition of spurious or unverified information, though scholarly work suggests that vandalism is generally short-lived.

Jonathan Dee, of The New York Times, and Andrew Lih, in the 5th International Symposium on Online Journalism, have cited the importance of Wikipedia not only as an encyclopedic reference but also as a frequently-updated news resource.

When Time magazine recognized You as its Person of the Year for 2006, acknowledging the accelerating success of online collaboration and interaction by millions of users around the world, it cited Wikipedia as one of three examples of Web 2.0 services, along with YouTube and MySpace.

Wikipedia began as a complementary project for Nupedia, a free online English-language encyclopedia project whose articles were written by experts and reviewed under a formal process. Nupedia was founded on March 9, 2000, under the ownership of Bomis, Inc, a web portal company. Its main figures were Jimmy Wales, Bomis CEO, and Larry Sanger, editor-in-chief for Nupedia and later Wikipedia. Nupedia was licensed initially under its own Nupedia Open Content License, switching to the GNU Free Documentation License before Wikipedia's founding at the urging of Richard Stallman.

Larry Sanger and Jimmy Wales are the founders of Wikipedia. While Wales is credited with defining the goal of making a publicly editable encyclopedia, Sanger is usually credited with the strategy of using a wiki to reach that goal. On January 10, 2001, Larry Sanger proposed on the Nupedia mailing list to create a wiki as a "feeder" project for Nupedia. Wikipedia was formally launched on January 15, 2001, as a single English-language edition at www.wikipedia.com, and announced by Sanger on the Nupedia mailing list. Wikipedia's policy of "neutral point-of-view" was codified in its initial months, and was similar to Nupedia's earlier "nonbiased" policy. Otherwise, there were relatively few rules initially and Wikipedia operated independently of Nupedia.

Wikipedia gained early contributors from Nupedia, Slashdot postings, and search engine indexing. It grew to approximately 20,000 articles, and 18 language editions, by the end of 2001. By late 2002 it had reached 26 language editions, 46 by the end of 2003, and 161 by the final days of 2004. Nupedia and Wikipedia coexisted until the former's servers went down permanently in 2003, and its text was incorporated into Wikipedia. English Wikipedia passed the 2 million-article mark on September 9, 2007, making it the largest encyclopedia ever assembled, eclipsing even the Yongle Encyclopedia (1407), which had held the record for exactly 600 years.

Citing fears of commercial advertising and lack of control in a perceived English-centric Wikipedia, users of the Spanish Wikipedia forked from Wikipedia to create the Enciclopedia Libre in February 2002. Later that year, Wales announced that Wikipedia would not display advertisements, and its website was moved to wikipedia.org. Various other projects have since forked from Wikipedia for editorial reasons. Wikinfo does not require a neutral point of view and allows original research. New Wikipedia-inspired projects — such as Citizendium, Scholarpedia, Conservapedia, and Google's Knol — have been started to address perceived limitations of Wikipedia, such as its policies on peer review, original research, and commercial advertising.

Contributors, registered or not, can take advantage of features available in the software that powers Wikipedia. The "History" page attached to each article records every single past revision of the article, though a revision with libelous content, criminal threats or copyright infringements may be removed afterwards. This feature makes it easy to compare old and new versions, undo changes that an editor considers undesirable, or restore lost content. The "Discussion" pages associated with each article are used to coordinate work among multiple editors. Regular contributors often maintain a "watchlist" of articles of interest to them, so that they can easily keep tabs on all recent changes to those articles. Computer programs called bots have been used widely to remove vandalism as soon as it was made, to correct common misspellings and stylistic issues, or to start articles such as geography entries in a standard format from statistical data.

The open nature of the editing model has been central to most criticism of Wikipedia. For example, at any point, a reader of an article cannot be certain, without consulting its "history" page, whether or not the article she is reading has been vandalized. Critics argue that non-expert editing undermines quality. Because contributors usually rewrite small portions of an entry rather than making full-length revisions, high- and low-quality content may be intermingled within an entry. Historian Roy Rosenzweig noted: "Overall, writing is the Achilles' heel of Wikipedia. Committees rarely write well, and Wikipedia entries often have a choppy quality that results from the stringing together of sentences or paragraphs written by different people." All of these led to the question of the reliability of Wikipedia as a source of accurate information.

In 2008 two researchers theorized that the growth of Wikipedia is sustainable.

Wikipedia has been accused of exhibiting systemic bias and inconsistency; critics argue that Wikipedia's open nature and a lack of proper sources for much of the information makes it unreliable. Some commentators suggest that Wikipedia is generally reliable, but that the reliability of any given article is not always clear. Editors of traditional reference works such as the Encyclopædia Britannica have questioned the project's utility and status as an encyclopedia. Many university lecturers discourage students from citing any encyclopedia in academic work, preferring primary sources; some specifically prohibit Wikipedia citations. Co-founder Jimmy Wales stresses that encyclopedias of any type are not usually appropriate as primary sources, and should not be relied upon as authoritative.

Concerns have also been raised regarding the lack of accountability that results from users' anonymity, the insertion of spurious information, vandalism, and similar problems. In one particularly well-publicized incident, false information was introduced into the biography of American political figure John Seigenthaler and remained undetected for four months. John Seigenthaler, the founding editorial director of USA Today and founder of the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, called Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and asked him, "...Do you ...have any way to know who wrote that?" "No, we don't", said Jimmy. Some critics claim that Wikipedia's open structure makes it an easy target for Internet trolls, advertisers, and those with an agenda to push. The addition of political spin to articles by organizations including members of the U.S. House of Representatives and special interest groups has been noted, and organizations such as Microsoft have offered financial incentives to work on certain articles. These issues have been parodied, notably by Stephen Colbert in The Colbert Report.

Economist Tyler Cowen writes, "If I had to guess whether Wikipedia or the median refereed journal article on economics was more likely to be true, after a not so long think I would opt for Wikipedia." He comments that many traditional sources of non-fiction suffer from systemic biases. Novel results are over-reported in journal articles, and relevant information is omitted from news reports. However, he also cautions that errors are frequently found on Internet sites, and that academics and experts must be vigilant in correcting them.

There have been efforts within the Wikipedia community to improve the reliability of Wikipedia. The English-language Wikipedia has introduced an assessment scale against which the quality of articles is judged; other editions have also adopted this. Roughly 2000 articles in English have passed a rigorous set of criteria to reach the highest rank, "featured article" status; such articles are intended to provide thorough, well-written coverage of their topic, supported by many references to peer-reviewed publications. In order to improve reliability, some editors have called for "stable versions" of articles, or articles that have been reviewed by the community and locked from further editing—but the community has been unable to form a consensus in favor of such changes, partly because they would require a major software overhaul. A similar system is being tested on the German Wikipedia, and there is an expectation that some form of that system will make its way onto the English version at some future time. Software created by Luca de Alfaro and colleagues at the University of California, Santa Cruz is now being tested that will assign "trust ratings" to individual Wikipedia contributors, with the intention that eventually only edits made by those who have established themselves as "trusted editors" will be made immediately visible.

The community has a power structure. Wikipedia's community has also been described as "cult-like," although not always with entirely negative connotations, and criticized for failing to accommodate inexperienced users. Editors in good standing in the community can run for one of many of levels of volunteer stewardship; this begins with "administrator", a group of privileged users (1,625 Wikipedians for the English edition on February 21, 2009), who have the ability to delete pages, lock articles from being changed in case of vandalism or editorial disputes, and block users from editing. Despite the name, administrators do not enjoy any special privilege in decision-making and are prohibited from using their powers to settle content disputes. The roles of administrators, often described as "janitorial", are mostly limited to making edits that have project-wide effects and thus are disallowed to ordinary editors in order to minimize disruption, as well as banning users from making disruptive edits such as vandalism.

As Wikipedia grows with an unconventional model of encyclopedia building, "who writes Wikipedia?" has become one of the questions frequently asked on the project, often with a reference to other Web 2.0 projects such as Digg. Jimmy Wales once argued that only "a community ... a dedicated group of a few hundred volunteers" makes the bulk of contributions to Wikipedia and that the project is therefore "much like any traditional organization". Wales performed a study finding that over 50% of all the edits are done by just .7% of the users (at the time: 524 people). This method of evaluating contributions was later disputed by Aaron Swartz, who noted that several articles he sampled had large portions of their content (measured by number of characters) contributed by users with low edit counts. A 2007 study by researchers from Dartmouth College found that "anonymous and infrequent contributors to Wikipedia ... are as reliable a source of knowledge as those contributors who register with the site." Although some contributors are authorities in their field, Wikipedia requires that even their contributions be supported by published and verifiable sources. The project's preference for consensus over credentials has been labeled "anti-elitism".

In August 2007, a website developed by computer science graduate student Virgil Griffith named WikiScanner made its public debut. WikiScanner traces the source of millions of changes made to Wikipedia by editors who are not logged in, which reveals that many of these edits come from corporations or sovereign government agencies about articles related to them, their personnel or their work, and are attempts to remove criticism.

In a 2003 study of Wikipedia as a community, economics Ph.D. student Andrea Ciffolilli argued that the low transaction costs of participating in wiki software create a catalyst for collaborative development, and that a "creative construction" approach encourages participation. In his 2008 book, The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, Jonathan Zittrain of the Oxford Internet Institute and Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society cites Wikipedia's success as a case study in how open collaboration has fostered innovation on the web.

A 2008 study found that Wikipedians were lower in agreeableness, openness, and conscientiousness than non-Wikipedia users.

Wikipedia currently runs on dedicated clusters of Linux servers (mainly Ubuntu), with a few OpenSolaris machines for ZFS. As of February 2008, there were 300 in Florida, 26 in Amsterdam, and 23 in Yahoo!'s Korean hosting facility in Seoul. Wikipedia employed a single server until 2004, when the server setup was expanded into a distributed multitier architecture. In January 2005, the project ran on 39 dedicated servers located in Florida. This configuration included a single master database server running MySQL, multiple slave database servers, 21 web servers running the Apache HTTP Server, and seven Squid cache servers.

Wikipedia receives between 25,000 and 60,000 page requests per second, depending on time of day. Page requests are first passed to a front-end layer of Squid caching servers. Requests that cannot be served from the Squid cache are sent to load-balancing servers running the Linux Virtual Server software, which in turn pass the request to one of the Apache web servers for page rendering from the database. The web servers deliver pages as requested, performing page rendering for all the language editions of Wikipedia. To increase speed further, rendered pages are cached in a distributed memory cache until invalidated, allowing page rendering to be skipped entirely for most common page accesses. Two larger clusters in the Netherlands and Korea now handle much of Wikipedia's traffic load.

There are currently 262 language editions of Wikipedia; of these, 24 have over 100,000 articles and 81 have over 1,000 articles. According to Alexa, the English subdomain (en.wikipedia.org; English Wikipedia) receives approximately 52% of Wikipedia's cumulative traffic, with the remaining split among the other languages (Spanish: 19%, French: 5%, Polish: 3%, German: 3%, Japanese: 3%, Portuguese: 2%). As of July 2008, the five largest language editions are (in order of article count) English, German, French, Polish, and Japanese Wikipedias.

Since Wikipedia is web-based and therefore worldwide, contributors of a same language edition may use different dialects or may come from different countries (as is the case for the English edition). These differences may lead to some conflicts over spelling differences, (e.g. color vs. colour) or points of view. Though the various language editions are held to global policies such as "neutral point of view," they diverge on some points of policy and practice, most notably on whether images that are not licensed freely may be used under a claim of fair use.

Translated articles represent only a small portion of articles in most editions, in part because automated translation of articles is disallowed. Articles available in more than one language may offer "InterWiki" links, which link to the counterpart articles in other editions.

Several language versions have published a selection of Wikipedia articles on an optical disk version. An English version, 2006 Wikipedia CD Selection, contained about 2,000 articles. Another English version developed by Linterweb contains "1988 + articles". The Polish version contains nearly 240,000 articles. There are also a few German versions.

In addition to logistic growth in the number of its articles, Wikipedia has steadily gained status as a general reference website since its inception in 2001. According to Alexa and comScore, Wikipedia is among the ten most visited websites worldwide. Of the top ten, Wikipedia is the only non-profit website. The growth of Wikipedia has been fueled by its dominant position in Google search results; about 50% of search engine traffic to Wikipedia comes from Google, a good portion of which is related to academic research. In April 2007 the Pew Internet and American Life project found that one third of US Internet users consulted Wikipedia. In October 2006, the site was estimated to have a hypothetical market value of $580 million if it ran advertisements.

Wikipedia's content has also been used in academic studies, books, conferences, and court cases. The Parliament of Canada's website refers to Wikipedia's article on same-sex marriage in the "related links" section of its "further reading" list for the Civil Marriage Act. The encyclopedia's assertions are increasingly used as a source by organizations such as the U.S. Federal Courts and the World Intellectual Property Organization – though mainly for supporting information rather than information decisive to a case. Content appearing on Wikipedia has also been cited as a source and referenced in some U.S. intelligence agency reports.

The first documentary film about Wikipedia, entitled Truth in Numbers: The Wikipedia Story, is scheduled for a 2009 release. Shot on several continents, the film will cover the history of Wikipedia and feature interviews with Wikipedia editors around the world. Dutch filmmaker IJsbrand van Veelen premiered his 45-minute television documentary The Truth According to Wikipedia in April, 2008.

On September 28, 2007, Italian politician Franco Grillini raised a parliamentary question with the Minister of Cultural Resources and Activities about the necessity of freedom of panorama. He said that the lack of such freedom forced Wikipedia, "the seventh most consulted website" to forbid all images of modern Italian buildings and art, and claimed this was hugely damaging to tourist revenues.

On September 16, 2007, The Washington Post reported that Wikipedia had become a focal point in the 2008 U.S. election campaign, saying, "Type a candidate's name into Google, and among the first results is a Wikipedia page, making those entries arguably as important as any ad in defining a candidate. Already, the presidential entries are being edited, dissected and debated countless times each day." An October 2007 Reuters article, entitled "Wikipedia page the latest status symbol", reported the recent phenomenon of how having a Wikipedia article vindicates one's notability.

In September 2008, Wikipedia received Quadriga A Mission of Enlightenment award of Werkstatt Deutschland along with Boris Tadić, Eckart Höfling, and Peter Gabriel. The award was presented to Jimmy Wales by David Weinberger.

A number of interactive multimedia encyclopedias incorporating entries written by the public existed long before Wikipedia was founded. The first of these was the 1986 BBC Domesday Project, which included text (entered on BBC Micro computers) and photographs from over 1 million contributors in the UK, and covering the geography, art, and culture of the UK. This was the first interactive multimedia encyclopedia (and was also the first major multimedia document connected through internal links), with the majority of articles being accessible through an interactive map of the UK. The user-interface and part of the content of the Domesday Project have now been emulated on a website. One of the most successful early online encyclopedias incorporating entries by the public was h2g2, which was created by Douglas Adams and is run by the BBC. The h2g2 encyclopedia was relatively light-hearted, focusing on articles which were both witty and informative. Both of these projects had similarities with Wikipedia, but neither gave full editorial freedom to public users. A similar non-wiki project, the GNUPedia project, co-existed with Nupedia early in its history; however, it has been retired and its creator, free software figure Richard Stallman, has lent his support to Wikipedia.

Other websites centered on collaborative knowledge base development have drawn inspiration from or inspired Wikipedia. Some, such as Susning.nu, Enciclopedia Libre, and WikiZnanie likewise employ no formal review process, whereas others use more traditional peer review, such as Encyclopedia of Life, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Scholarpedia, h2g2, and Everything2. Citizendium, an online encyclopedia, was started by Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger in an attempt to create an "expert-friendly" Wikipedia.

To the top



Geeks in Space

Geeks in Space was a semi-weekly Internet audio show produced from June 1999 to June 2001. The name was a satirical evolution of the previous Pigs in Space. It was hosted by Slashdot employees Rob Malda, Jeff "Hemos" Bates, Jon "CowboyNeal" Pater and Nate "Mix Master" Oostendorp. Drawing from the stories and discussions on Slashdot, the hosts discussed Slashdot, Linux, Open source, and new technology. The audience were primarily Slashdot readers.

The show was recorded by the Slashdot crew in Holland, Michigan, then post-produced by and served from The Sync, a webcast company in Laurel, Maryland.

After the sale of Slashdot to OSDN (now OSTG), the show was put on an indefinite hiatus until they could "figure out how the hell they’ll do it with the hosts on different coasts." The last episode was titled "We’re Really Dancing!".

To the top



Source : Wikipedia