And this is how you create history – literally! A long standing hoax on the ‘The Bicholim Conflict’ has been taken down by Wikipedia, when none of the references cited were found to be authentic. There was a detailed entry of 4500 words about the “Bicholin Conflict” of 1640-41, marked as a ‘good article’ on Wikipedia which describes a conflict between the Maratha Empire and the colonial Portuguese forces, which turns out to be a tall tale by some mischievous user.
The article came into existence in 2007 and stood as a respectable article for five long years. Another user, identifying himself as ‘ShelfSkewed’ found that the sources are all either non-existent or fake.
The article has now been taken down and a link cannot be provided, but this is what a part of the article read:
From 1640 to 1641 the might of colonial Portugal clashed with India’s massive Maratha Empire in an undeclared war that would later be known as the Bicholim Conflict.
The article even has photos to back up its claim! Look at the following two photos – one of a building and the other a map – the descriptions of both are now lost after the page was taken down.
However, this kind of hoaxes is nothing new. They have happened before and will definitely happen again. Wikipedia maintains a list of hoaxes that have been seen on the site since 2001. There have appeared Bunaka, an island of Indonesia and Gauis Flavius Antoninus, the fictitious murderer of Julius Caesar.
Wikipedia generally bans users posting such fake content.
While the entire world wide web is busy searching for workarounds to access Wikipedia during the SOPA blackout, Android users have a reason to rejoice. The long awaited official app for Wikipedia has arrived in the Android market, the very same day when the web version of Wikipedia was blacked out in protest of SOPA.
Okay, it might not exactly be the very same day (the last update on record was on January 13th 2012) but reading the only 7 user reviews on the download page, it appears that the app has been released today only. Strange, no?
Wikipedia’s official Android app is free from black outs and personal appeals, the spartan homepage welcomes you with “Today’s featured article”, followed by a brief “In the News section”. The search box located at the way top is your only gateway to navigate around Wikipedia pages; as there is no way to find categories and specific topics through navigational hyperlinks.
Here are some screenshots:
Tapping on the menu bar, you can choose your preferred language from any of the 43 international languages that Wikipedia supports. One feature I really loved is the ability to save Wikipedia pages locally on your Android, so you can read it later when your phone is not connected to the Internet. You can literally build a library of cached Wikipedia pages on your Android phone, the only downside is that there is no way to organize downloads into separate folders or custom tags.
There is a “Nearby” option which lets you explore locations on a Google map and find related information from Wikipedia articles. This is pretty handy, when you are travelling to a new city and want to know the history, geography, people or popular culture about your current location. The “History” option works similar to the browsing history of a web browser, shows a list of Wikipedia paged you have read recently.
There are a slew of third party Wikipedia and Enclyopedia apps in the Android market with the same logo and identical names, so be sure to download the official one from this link.
In spite of all the protest and the online agitation, Stop Online Piracy Act’ (SOPA) is making slow advances and will appear before the Judiciary Committee this week. For those who do not know (people outside the US), the Judiciary Committee determines whether a bill is worth presenting to the senate for consideration. SOPA is a draconian bill that affects the whole of the Internet and will put the Internet in direct control of the US government.
SOPA has received fair opposition from many tech-giants and recently, Kaspersky left the BSA over SOPA. This time, the world’s largest online encyclopedia Wikipedia is going up against SOPA. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has proposed an idea of a total blackout in protest against SOPA. This is inspired from the Wikipedia Italy community, which ran a similar campaign earlier this year, and forced the Italian Government to reconsider its decision.
According to the proposal, Wikipedia will blank out all Wikipedia pages as a “self-censorship”. This will surely get the attention of the Government, as Wikipedia is one of the most visited pages on the Internet. Jimmy Wales writes in his Wikipedia page saying,
A few months ago, the Italian Wikipedia community made a decision to blank all of Italian Wikipedia for a short period in order to protest a law, which would infringe on their editorial independence. The Italian Parliament backed down immediately. As Wikipedians may or may not be aware, a much worse law going under the misleading title of “Stop Online Piracy Act‘ is working its way through Congress on a bit of a fast track. I may be attending a meeting at the White House on Monday (pending confirmation on a couple of fronts) along with executives from many other top Internet firms, and I thought this would be a good time to take a quick reading of the community feeling on this issue.
The broad-definition of SOPA puts all user-generated content at risk including the ones on social networks, wikis and micro-blogging sites- something that constitutes the lively Internet, as we know it.
Wikipedia is one of the world’s largest and perhaps the biggest crowd-sourced information repository. However, it is heavily English-centric. Today, Wikipedia has more than 14 Million articles in over 270 languages. Wikipedia lists 3.36+ million pages in English, while a long tail of the bottom 200+ languages constitute a collective 2 million articles. WikiBhasha helps the process of enhancing non-English Wikipedia content, and provides an easy to use, intuitive interface to create local language content without the user ever having to leave the Wikipedia site.
WikiBhasha is multilingual content creation tool for Wikipedia and enables easy and quick translation of articles from English to more than 30 other languages that are supported by Microsoft’s Machine Translation system and Microsoft’s Collaborative Translation Framework. WikiBhasha is much more than a translator and also allows users to create new articles from scratch. The browser based application features a UI layer that stays on the target language Wikipedia for the entire content creation process. It enables Wikipedia users and contributors to explore and source content from English Wikipedia articles, translate the content into a set of target languages, and use the content with user additions and corrections for contribution to the target language Wikipedia.
WikiBhashaâ€”Wiki,signifying its community-oriented approach; Bhasha,a Sanskrit word meaning languageâ€”was developed by Microsoft Research India. It started as a research prototype with a text-based interface. The team behind WikiBhasha is led by A Kumaran, Research Manager in the Multilingual Systems Research group at Microsoft Research India.
WikiBhasha might open the doors to a whole new world of content translation into languages that machine translators now ignore. The goal is to enhance the Wikipedia content, as well as increasing availability of multilingual content.
If you haven’t heard about Encyclopedia Dramatica yet, I will point you to go to this Wikipedia article. The Wikipedia satire which is run by the 4Chan Anonymous group has poked fun on several people and things, Wiki style. However, it looks like the website has now been shut down or has been taken down like other 4Chan properties.
Encyclopedia Dramatica has been used to document and poke fun at various personalities. It has even been used to poke fun on the infamous banner on Wikipedia where Jimmy Wales asked visitors to donate to the site.
However, the Encyclopedia Dramatica site (http://encyclopediadramatica.com/) seems to be down right now. It isn’t clear whether the site’s has been shut down or whether it has just been hit with a DDoS. Nevertheless, its not loading anymore and we are trying to gather more information about it.
If you haven’t visited Encyclopedia Dramatica, you could do now thanks to this Google Cache page.
Wikipedia is no doubt one of the best resources for anyone looking to find more information about topics they are researching on. It is also the 5th largest site in the world, however, Wikipedia does not run ads and instead relies on donations from its users to run the huge database of articles it has.
At last count, Wikipedia has over 35 million articles in the English section and there are more documents in other languages too. That’s really good, however, in the past few months, users who visit the website are being shown a banner, which is an urgent appeal from Jimmy Wales, the Wikipedia founder on getting donations for the site.
Now showing this message is fine and many people including me have already donated to them. However, here is the problem, you will see this banner on every page you visit, no matter whether you have donated or not. This is making it quite annoying for users who have to visit Wikipedia everyday.
Are you fed-up too? Here are some ways to get rid of this Wikipedia message. On Google Chrome you can install the extension called Goodbye Jimmy Wales to get rid of this message. Firefox users can use the add-on called Wikipedia Appeal Remover to get this done.
If you use Opera or Internet Explorer, you can use a Greasemonkey script to get rid of the Jimmy Wales Appeal, you will find the User scripts for the same here. Learn more on installing Greasemonkey scripts in Opera and IE.
Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organisation behind world’s biggest and free encyclopedia – Wikipedia.com is setting up an office in India. This India office happens to be the first Wikimedia office outside the US for the first time. Wikimedia is also planning future offices in Brazil, and other regions of Africa and Asia.
Wikimedia’s India office will have 3-5 volunteers / employees. The role of these members will be only to increase awareness about Wikipedia in India and encourage people to create and edit more content on Wikipedia.com. These employees will also conduct research to help Wikipedia understand what India specific content and languages should be laid more focus on. A seven member executive council has also been formed for Wikimedia’s India Chapter.
Earlier today, I tweeted "I visit almost 15-20 Wikipedia page on any given day, without it I would definitely be lost, its the 2nd Google for me" and everything about it true. My first go-to for information has almost always been Wikipedia, and the fact that Wikipedia articles are available on the first page of Google search results has also played a big part in it.
Wikipedia is available in multiple languages, however, it is still not available in Indian and Arabic languages which makes it difficult for non-English speaking Indians and Arabians to find information. For the past few months, Google has been working with volunteers, translators and Wikipedia folks across India, Middle East and Africa to translate more than 16 million words on Wikipedia.
The result is there to show as several Wikipedia articles are now available in Arabic, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Swahili, Tamil and Telugu. Google has used search data and Google Trends data to identify the words which needed translation and used their Translator Toolkit to translate articles in the above languages.
Google plans to add more translations to Wikipedia in its attempt to make one of the best information resources more accessible. Anyone who is interested can volunteer and join in the translation efforts to make Wikipedia more accessible to users.
(Google Translate Blog via Techmeme)
Wikipedia is a trusted source of information – when you want a general reference or want to define something, without adding all the text in your document. I regularly use the online encyclopedia for my writing work, projects and when I want to refer to definitions or popular personalities. If you are a writer and regularly use Wikipedia pages for referencing, you are certainly going to love the Wikipedia companion extension for Google Chrome.
After the extension is installed, click the small “W” icon placed just right to the Chrome address bar:
This opens a small pop up window where you can type the keywords in a text box and search the Wikipedia website without leaving the current page.
The extension is useful, because I can search Wikipedia from the same browser tab and avoid distractions while I am writing something. The second advantage is that the extension lets you open the page in a new browser tab, in case you want to read the complete Wikipedia page. Here is how the pop window loads the content:
The extension supports multi lingual searches and you can browse a series of pages and links in the same pop up window. To make it clear, you can use the back and forward buttons in the pop up window and any web link can be opened in the same pop up. Neat !
Techi Buzz Verdict
The Wikipedia companion extension is simple to use and solves the problem of opening the Wikipedia website again and again in a new browser tab. If you search Wikipedia quite often, this extension is a must use.
Techi Buzz rating: 4/5 (Excellent).
Wikipedia is no doubt one of the most commonly used websites for reference. It is the first place people turn to when looking to explore a new topic. However, reading all those pages online is not always easy, so, here is a way to organize multiple Wikipedia pages into a PDF book that can be downloaded, printed and read on your favorite mobile device.
Here are a few short steps you need to take to turn any set of pages into an eBook:
1. Go to Wikipedia and create a free account.
2. Enable the Beta interface.
3. Under the Print/Export menu on left side-bar, click on Create a book.
4. Now every article you visit will have an Add this page to your book option. Click on that to add as many articles to your book as you want.
5. Once done, click on the show book button to see and download your book.
You can also give your book a title, create chapters, sort it alphabetically and download it as an OpenDocument. If you want to have it printed and delivered to you, there is an option to do that as well costing $7.90 for a book of up to 100 pages. While managing your book, you can simply drag and drop the items to re-arrange their order or click on the trash button to remove them quickly.