Talk:Wikipedia and the 2008 US elections

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Possible alliance[edit]

It may be helpful to include participation from an "outside" watchdog organization that is not as inherently "pro-Wikipedia" as most Wikiversity contributors. One example may be the non-profit I and others recently formed, the Internet Review Corporation. As far as skill sets go, I am experienced in similar political research on Wikipedia, and as a 17-year practitioner in the field of marketing research, I have my fair share of experience in creating graphic representations of data. I don't visit Wikiversity often, so it may be best to contact me off-line, at ResearchBiz (at) -- Thekohser 14:55, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

That would be great, eventually. I think the data collection phase would probably be easier done by the wikimedian community, since they're more likely to have experience organizing data about edits and other wiki-based activity. --SB_Johnny talk 15:22, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
I think that's a highly insular and/or condescending viewpoint to assume, but I can see how you forwarded it with all good faith. It is not THAT difficult to grok Wikipedia data about edits and "other wiki-based activity". And especially if one is outside the system, one might not pooh-pooh grave problems the way some Wikipedians do. LOL -- I've just assumed bad faith, now, haven't I? Well, that's how things work in the real world of politics; assuming only good faith would get you run over awfully quickly.
Offline, I've discussed some other potential partners than the Internet Review Corporation. These would include the Berkman Center (although with Jimbo being an honorary Berkman Fellow, I cringe at the COI), the Center for Media and Democracy, or the Oxford Internet Institute. -- Thekohser 18:51, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
We got a strong tradition of assuming bad faith here on Wikiversity, so the real life world of politics has a real life simulation on Wikiversity.;-)--Daanschr 12:02, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
It would appear this is sort of dying on the vine. Too bad, it was a very important and useful project. -- Thekohser 04:59, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
In the 1930s, when a number of oppressive regimes were rising to power all over Europe, a journalist asked Albert Einstein if the rise of such regimes had slowed down the pace of research in Germany. Einstein replied, "No, the pace of research has not slowed down. It's come to a complete halt." —Gastrin Bombesin 07:58, 25 January 2009 (UTC)

Starting questions[edit]

I've been thinking about general questions to ask about the articles addressed by the project, as well as some general questions about the scope as well, listed below --SB_Johnny talk 10:16, 3 February 2009 (UTC):

Time frame of the elections[edit]

There's 2 questions here: when did the election begin (some will say it was 2004!), and when did it end (or when will it end... afaik, the Minnesota senate race is still undecided). Since the primaries were very early, I'd imagine that the elections really started sometime in 2007 at the earliest. This probably doesn't matter as much for the individual articles (since they can be traced to their "beginnings"), but for the broader timelines it would be helpful to have a defined time period. Any suggestions? Worry about it later? --SB_Johnny talk 10:16, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

Unlike other nations (well, officially) the US has no official start date for campaigns. In fact, while there is a lowering of expeditures for all of two months after an election, the spending ramps up a bit immediately thereafter. Thus we had in WP a large number of articles which were guarded/attacked by those with political agendas without any real break. In one case which is not on your list AFAIK, the Dino Rossi article was kept in a strange state almost entirely by a person who has since been identified as heavily involved in the campaign of his opponent. From his point of view, the prior campaign never did end. "Defined time period"? Not easily done at all. And from viewing articles on WP, I would guesstimate that the "active participation" starts about 2 months before any announcement by a candidate (if I were suspicious I would say that the earliest contributors are more likely to favor than oppose the candidate). By about one month before the final election, most articles, for good or ill, had reached a stasis, followed by a final burst of partisan activity which has only now begun to abate. Sorry for rambling <g> 12:14, 3 February 2009 (UTC) Collect 12:25, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, I was afraid of that. The timelines might just have to focus on major events (debates, conventions, large primaries, etc.), and see how articles looked a couple weeks before, the day of, and a couple weeks after the event.
Was the stasis more or less maintained after the election?
I've never even heard of w:Dino Rossi before, but that sort of thing is certainly worth some study (I'm personally more interested in the articles that developed into good articles, but contrast for comparison is a very good thing). --SB_Johnny talk 12:39, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
Stasis? For a couple of weeks only. Note the continuing struggles on several articles (including the people asking that Palin be described as having pre-marital sex because her first baby was not quite nine months after her marriage) and the like. I think you will also end up discussing the "article as camel" syndrome common on WP, where one side trades off with another to get two equally ill-suited additions in an article. My own opinion is that all articles over 80K in length likely could use a good pruning. And many under. Collect 13:14, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

Policies that have played a role[edit]

The vast majority of the articles related to the elections come under the scope of a number of policies, including in many cases the "BLP" policy, as well as a number of policies and parts of policies that play a special role in articles related to current events such as "w:WP:SYNTH", "w:WP:RS", etc. Many of these articles are also about topics that editors tend to have strong feelings about, so "w:WP:NPOV", and specifically "w:WP:UNDUE" are frequently brought in. When there are disputes about what should be in the article or how something is worded, how were these policies used to improve the "final" result? Are the policies consistently applied to, say, Republicans vs. Democrats? --SB_Johnny talk 10:16, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

No place can ever hope to be consistent. Within each article, and certainly within co-ordinated groups of editors (while I co-ordinated with absolutely no-one, I saw substantial evidence of such happening, to be sure) some set of rules evolve for each article. With WP's tradition of anarchy <g> this means that some articles had very different standards from others. Some ended up with hundreds of lines about totally tangential issues, others ended up being suitable for campagin literature. I trust that those who will examine the articles in retrospect will note where such groups of editors appear in multiple articles, and especially on user talk pages. I would, moreover, suggest that the Sarah Palin article is an example where a great deal of pretty much irrelevant, and occasionally very wrong, stuff was inserted, and the Barack Obama article as one kept very clean of such. Were I king, of course, I would ask that every article maintain the precise same standards. 12:22, 3 February 2009 (UTC) Collect 12:25, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

When articles are in the news[edit]

During the elections, a number of articles were actually discussed by the media (at least they were on NPR, which I listen to at work). Were the editors aware of this? Did the patterns of editing change in any way when articles were in the news? --SB_Johnny talk 10:16, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

Not really. If anything, WP is about two days ahead of NPR in finding issues. And those who wanted to add more negative info, or delete negative info, were oblivious to the outside world AFAICT. Others opinions may differ. Collect 12:25, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
Oh, that's not what I meant: I was referring to when the Wikipedia article itself was in the news. See links on Wikipedia and the 2008 US elections‎/Sarah Palin for some examples. As to WP "scooping" the major media, yes, that's a good topic to follow as well :-). --SB_Johnny talk 12:46, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

Has this project died?[edit]

It seems that it has. Correct me if I'm wrong! -- Thekohser 03:00, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

Dunno about Johnny -- I got sidetracked by molepuppets in WP ... I think everyine wishes they would disappear withoit having to do anything :( Collect 11:02, 23 April 2009 (UTC)