2008.02.13

457-55-5462

23.57.30 - Mark

I normally do a good job of ignoring TV ads, but the one for lifelock where the CEO goes around some city with his claimed social security number painted on the side of a truck piqued my interest, and I started wondering if it was real or just a good looking fake. The structure falls in to the Social Security Administrations documented structure, but I'm too lazy to try registering for the Social Security Number Verification Service so that's by no means definitive. A little light googling suggests that the guy is real and because he's stupid enough to advertise his social it gets used fraudulently, but then again over 40,000 people have claimed 078-05-1120 as their SSN since 1938 (it was a valid SSN until it was used in advertising). I wonder if Lifelock and 457-55-5462 is the new "Woolworth number"

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2007.05.12

Quick?

02.05.14 - Mark

Wiki is Hawaiian for "Quick", and that is supposedly one of the underlying themes in the various Wikimedia projects. I may have bought into that two hours ago, but I've spent the last 90 minutes fighting with Wikimedia services.

It started out with honorable intentions. I've got a copy of the game Polarity, and like all things involving strong magnets it's fun to play. At some point in the past I got to wondering what kind of magnet goes into the Polarity pieces, so I checked the wikipedia article, which is more or less a stub. I filled this tid bit of information away, until yesterday.

I was bored yesterday and decided to set up my $2 macro photo studio (based on this handy design) and shoot some various objects. Because I've had magnets on the brain for a few days, I though it might be fun to shoot some pictures of Polarity pieces leaning on each other, and about the same time that thought occurred, the memory of the wikipedia stub popped up. A quick check confirmed that the article hadn't been expanded, and that it still lacked any images. So I go and shoot my photos, come back a while later, and I set off on the process of adding them to the Hitchhiker's Guid... I mean Wikipedia.

I'm familiar with the mechanics of wikis. I've got a personal mediawiki install, I've played with a couple other wikis, and on occasion have come close to making small changes to the Wikipedia So it should be easy to upload an image right? Wrong. I spent over an hour reading and rereading help documents and wikipedia style articles on how to upload an image, how to format it in the article, blah blah blah, found out I needed to start an account, did (at wikimedia commons, then started to upload the image before getting confused by the media licensing requirements, eventually managed to upload the image (it's here for the curious) quickly realized that despite the fact that they share databases, I needed another account for wikipedia, got that set up, then spent a bit more time looking at formatting guidelines and help files to figure out how to include the image in the article, and finally (after over an hour) managed to edit my image into the article that had an open request for images.

How exactly is that quick? Wikis are supposed to be Web 2.0, so how come the usability is so slow and awkward? All of the information they wanted when I uploaded the image was single line stuff, but they forced me to slow down and rewrite it in their unique syntax. Where's the clean, easy to follow interactive tutorial or brain dead form to fill out. It would have taken me 90 seconds to do the same thing on Flickr and the resulting upload would have almost exactly the same information. It's a bit insane, and more than a bit off putting. I might help the Wiki if I see some simple change that needs to be made, but I don't see myself contributing that much, even if there are some articles I could really help out on.

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2006.01.15

Wiki, what's a word for repitition

23.30.55 - Mark

Recently I've been finding myself wander around Wikipedia and other wiki-based sites. Despite some of the criticisms of the open source document and user-changeable model that lets wikis thrive I like using wikis. For the articles of relative unimportance (ie I don't need this for a report), but where people love the topic and want to do right by it, its fun to go though.

But there are a couple problem when you start looking at them. The big one is one Jimmy Wales talks about regularly, some of the articles out there border on unreadable. Some can be filled with typos and obvious grammatical errors, or worse, lack any sense of continuity or purpose.

Those are bad. What's worse, and something I've been noticing more recently, is that a phrase, or even a whole paragraph of text will be repeated several times on the same page. On similar pages that can be understandable, and seems to be a fairly common practice, but on the same page its annoying.

I can't recall any single wikipedia article to cite here, but its pretty common most of the wiki based sites I've visited, and I remember seeing a lot of this in-article and cross article repetition at Memory Alpha (Star Trek Wiki Site).

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