Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The incorrectness of Wikipedia

The NYT article below sees everything but the obvious in the fact that few women contribute to Wikipedia: That men are more interested in facts and women more interested in socio-emotional relationships. Men and women are the same, you see: Feminist bulldust. The fact that Wikpedia is voluntary and open to all DEMONSTRATES that men and women have inherently different interests. There is no oppressive "patriarchy" refusing to hire them

In 10 short years, Wikipedia has accomplished some remarkable goals. More than 3.5 million articles in English? Done. More than 250 languages? Sure.

But another number has proved to be an intractable obstacle for the online encyclopedia: surveys suggest that less than 15 percent of its hundreds of thousands of contributors are women.

About a year ago, the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that runs Wikipedia, collaborated on a study of Wikipedia’s contributor base and discovered that it was barely 13 percent women; the average age of a contributor was in the mid-20s, according to the study by a joint center of the United Nations University and Maastricht University.

Sue Gardner, the executive director of the foundation, has set a goal to raise the share of female contributors to 25 percent by 2015, but she is running up against the traditions of the computer world and an obsessive fact-loving realm that is dominated by men and, some say, uncomfortable for women.

Her effort is not diversity for diversity’s sake, she says. “This is about wanting to ensure that the encyclopedia is as good as it could be,” Ms. Gardner said in an interview on Thursday. “The difference between Wikipedia and other editorially created products is that Wikipedians are not professionals, they are only asked to bring what they know.”

“Everyone brings their crumb of information to the table,” she said. “If they are not at the table, we don’t benefit from their crumb.”

With so many subjects represented — most everything has an article on Wikipedia — the gender disparity often shows up in terms of emphasis. A topic generally restricted to teenage girls, like friendship bracelets, can seem short at four paragraphs when compared with lengthy articles on something boys might favor, like, toy soldiers or baseball cards, whose voluminous entry includes a detailed chronological history of the subject.

Even the most famous fashion designers — Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo — get but a handful of paragraphs. And consider the disparity between two popular series on HBO: The entry on “Sex and the City” includes only a brief summary of every episode, sometimes two or three sentences; the one on “The Sopranos” includes lengthy, detailed articles on each episode.

Is a category with five Mexican feminist writers impressive, or embarrassing when compared with the 45 articles on characters in “The Simpsons”?

The notion that a collaborative, written project open to all is so skewed to men may be surprising. After all, there is no male-dominated executive team favoring men over women, as there can be in the corporate world; Wikipedia is not a software project, but more a writing experiment — an “exquisite corpse,” or game where each player adds to a larger work.

But because of its early contributors Wikipedia shares many characteristics with the hard-driving hacker crowd, says Joseph Reagle, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. This includes an ideology that resists any efforts to impose rules or even goals like diversity, as well as a culture that may discourage women.

“It is ironic,” he said, “because I like these things — freedom, openness, egalitarian ideas — but I think to some extent they are compounding and hiding problems you might find in the real world.”

Adopting openness means being “open to very difficult, high-conflict people, even misogynists,” he said, “so you have to have a huge argument about whether there is the problem.” Mr. Reagle is also the author of “Good Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia.”

Ms. Gardner, citing an example that resonates with her personally, pointed to the Wikipedia entry for one of her favorite authors, Pat Barker, which was a mere three paragraphs when she came across it. Ms. Barker is an acclaimed writer of psychologically nuanced novels, many set during World War I. She is 67 and lives in England.

By contrast, Niko Bellic had an article about five times as long as Ms. Barker’s at the time. It’s a question of demographics: Mr. Bellic is a character in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV; he is 30 and a former soldier.

The public is increasingly going to Wikipedia as a research source: According to a recent Pew survey, the percentage of all American adults who use the site to look for information increased to 42 percent in May 2010, from 25 percent in February 2007. This translates to 53 percent of adults who regularly use the Internet.

Jane Margolis, co-author of a book on sexism in computer science, “Unlocking the Clubhouse,” argues that Wikipedia is experiencing the same problems of the offline world, where women are less willing to assert their opinions in public. “In almost every space, who are the authorities, the politicians, writers for op-ed pages?” said Ms. Margolis, a senior researcher at the Institute for Democracy, Education and Access at the University of California, Los Angeles.

According to the OpEd Project, an organization based in New York that monitors the gender breakdown of contributors to “public thought-leadership forums,” a participation rate of roughly 85-to-15 percent, men to women, is common — whether members of Congress, or writers on The New York Times and Washington Post Op-Ed pages.

It would seem to be an irony that Wikipedia, where the amateur contributor is celebrated, is experiencing the same problem as forums that require expertise. But Catherine Orenstein, the founder and director of the OpEd Project, said many women lacked the confidence to put forth their views. “When you are a minority voice [Women are a MAJORITY!], you begin to doubt your own competencies,” she said.


Popular U.S. chicken chain under fire for anti-gay marriage donations

Christian businesses are not allowed to make donations to support what they believe in, apparently.

Fans of the addictive sandwiches of Chick-fil-A who also support gay marriage are facing a dilemma: Should one follow the dictates of the stomach or the conscience?

The privately owned chain, famous for closing on Sundays in deference to its founder's evangelical Christian values, donates to many Christian causes, scholarships, and organizations through its charitable arm.

But when a Pennsylvania restaurant donated sandwiches and brownies to a Harrisburg meeting of The Pennsylvania Family Group, a group that works to outlaw gay marriage, pro-gay marriage bloggers and gay rights organizations went on the offensive. The news quickly trickled into the mainstream. Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton wrote about it, and so did the food blog Grub Street, with the headline "Chick-fil-A is anti-gay."

President Dan Cathy posted a video response to the company's Facebook page in early January, no doubt hoping to quell the controversy. "Chick-fil-A serves all people and values all people," Cathy said, adding that the donation did not serve as a political endorsement. UPDATE: Cathy now says Chick-fil-A will no longer donate to any organizations that take a political stand on marriage.

Thousands of people chimed in on Chick-fil-A's Facebook page, many of whom said they would support the chain even more because of the donation and the controversy around it. "You have nothing to expain to your customers, we support your family values, and know that you mean no ill-will to those with other opinions," John Joyner wrote.

Others wrote that they would give up their favorite chicken with heavy hearts. "I've eaten and loved chick all my life. I am sad that me and my entire family must denounce the Chick until you publicly apologize and make an equal and opposite donation to the Human Rights Campaign or other civil rights group," Rob Augino commented.

Some people wrestling between their stomachs and their beliefs painted their sacrifice in grandiose terms. "Never again will I enjoy your spicy chicken sandwich," writes one morose former fan on Twitter.

It's unclear how many people actually intend to shun the Georgia-based chain on the basis of its opposition to gay marriage--and what impact a consumer boycott will have on the company's bottom line. So far, students at Indiana University South Bend got the chain booted from campus, according to a post on, which hosts petitions against the chicken restaurant. (UPDATE: University administrators say Chick-fil-A is only suspended, not permanently banned, from campus, according to The South Bend Tribune.)

The company's anti-gay marriage donations go beyond the alliance in Pennsylvania. The WinShape Foundation, the company's charitable institution, and the Cathy family have donated millions to Christian organizations and causes, including some that campaign against gay marriage, The New York Times writes. A couples retreat operated by WinShape does not accept homosexual couples, according to the blog Good As You.

Other businesses have found themselves the center of controversy for wading into political debates. Target and Best Buy were boycotted this summer after they made donations to a group that backed Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who does not support gay rights. Target apologized for the donations.


Australia: More Fascism from the modern Left

Leftist economist Ross Gittins, below, wants Australians all to say "Sieg Heil" and "Heil Gillard", apparently. He wails that his Fuehrer can't get no respect. He is totally oblivious of the fact that respect has to be earned. And a government that (for instance) is pigheadedly determined to waste $46 billion on a fibre broadband network that hardly anybody wants deserves no respect whatever

Gittins proves once again that all Leftists are Fascists at heart

So alienated have we become from the work of government we regard it as a giant soft cop - a magic pudding, where the idea is to take out as much as possible ("I've paid taxes all my life .") and put in as little as possible. How is this circle squared? Who knows, who cares?

But there's more to this affair than just our pathological objection to paying more tax. It's a dramatic demonstration of the way Australians are losing the ability to fall in behind a leader.

All of us know the nation's problems won't be overcome without decisive leadership. We regularly bewail our politicians' lack of courage and conviction, their reluctance to risk their personal survival in the country's best interests.

Yet we give our leaders so little loyalty. The announcement of a government decision is taken as the occasion for the outbreak of dissent. All those with a reason for objecting cry out and their criticism is amplified by the media, whereas those who agree fall silent. No one feels obliged to actively support the leader, even if just because she is our leader and someone has to accept ultimate responsibility for deciding what we'll do and how we'll do it.

Of course, no one wants to live in a country where the leader's will is never challenged. We each have the democratic right to oppose all government decisions by all legal means. But we also have the democratic right to support, defend or even just acquiesce in the judgment of the people we elected to lead us. [Who questions that right? I think Gittins really meant "duty" -- in the best Fascist style. Hitler called it the "Fuehrerprinzip"]

Why are we becoming so much more prone to arguing the toss than falling into line? How do we imagine making leadership so much more difficult for the leader of the day will leave us better governed? Why are we training our governments to timidity?

Part of the explanation is partisanship - our willingness to put loyalty to party ahead of loyalty to our community and its need for effective leadership. I didn't vote for these people, so I'll regard everything they try to do as illegitimate.

Trouble is, there is little partisanship running the other way. Consider the deathbed bastardry of Labor's own Kristina Keneally in objecting that NSW taxpayers deserve special concessions under the levy.

No, there's more to this than partisanship: there is a general loss of loyalty and respect for whoever is our leader. The government is always and everywhere fair game. Consider the lack of public censure of the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, for his utterly obstructive behaviour.

Having narrowly lost the last election, he's behaving like a spoilt child, refusing to support any policy proposed by the government, whether good, bad or indifferent.


Australia: New rules to give NSW women equal representation

The last shriek of a dying Leftist government. They will be out of office shortly -- before any such rules can be enacted.

Hitler saw evil in the over-representation of Jews in the top levels of German society. His socialist successors see evil in the over-representation of men in the top levels of modern Western societies. The routine Leftist inability to look at people as individuals rather than as group members is the same

Women will make up half of new appointments to New South Wales government boards and committees by the end of next year, the State Government says.

In a bid for gender equality, Minister for Women Jodi McKay announced the package which includes an "if not, why not approach" to equality, at the Rural Women's Awards last night. "Women comprise over 50 per cent of the NSW population yet currently only 38 per cent of all NSW government board and committee positions are held by women," Ms McKay said. "We want to make sure boards and committees better reflect the communities they serve as well as provide improved access to the benefits of a wider talent pool."

The new rules mean agencies will need to regularly report on progress, and more resources will be made available to encourage women to nominate for positions, including how-to guides, information sheets and case studies. "We'll also provide quarterly public reporting on how we're tracking towards the 50 per cent target," Ms McKay said.

A review will take place in 2012, which will consider whether further measures should be introduced, such as legislation, to increase the rate of progress towards gender equality.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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