Site Meter Blog
Site Meter, the company we use for traffic stats on all Law Professor Blogs Network blogs and considered by many, myself included, to set the industry standard has a blog. If you are not using Site Meter, perhaps you should. Check out the free and fee-based services the Company offers: website and blog.
Yes, this is a personal endorsement. The Site Meter crew runs a great operation and always responds to my questions intelligently and promptly. [JH]
New Program Color-codes Text in Wikipedia Entries for Trustworthiness
"The online reference site Wikipedia enjoys immense popularity despite nagging doubts about the reliability of entries written by its all-volunteer team. A new program developed at the University of California, Santa Cruz, aims to help with the problem by color-coding an entry's individual phrases based on contributors' past performance.
The program analyzes Wikipedia's entire editing history--nearly two million pages and some 40 million edits for the English-language site alone--to estimate the trustworthiness of each page. It then shades the text in deepening hues of orange to signal dubious content. A 1,000-page demonstration version is already available on a web page operated by the program's creator, Luca de Alfaro, associate professor of computer engineering at UCSC." [RJ]
"Other sites already employ user ratings as a measure of reliability, but they typically depend on users' feedback about each other. This method makes the ratings vulnerable to grudges and subjectivity. The new program takes a radically different approach, using the longevity of the content itself to learn what information is useful and which contributors are the most reliable.
"The idea is very simple," de Alfaro said. "If your contribution lasts, you gain reputation. If your contribution is reverted [to the previous version], your reputation falls." De Alfaro will speak about his new program this Saturday, August 4, at the Wikimania conference in Taipei, Taiwan.
The program works from a user's history of edits to calculate his or her reputation score. The trustworthiness of newly inserted text is computed as a function of the reputation of its author. As subsequent contributors vet the text, their own reputations contribute to the text's trustworthiness score. So an entry created by an unknown author can quickly gain (or lose) trust after a few known users have reviewed the pages.
A benefit of calculating author reputation in this way is that de Alfaro can test how well his reliability scores work. He does so by comparing users' reliability scores with how long their subsequent edits last on the site. So far, the program flags as suspect more than 80 percent of edits that turn out to be poor. It's not overly accusatory, either: 60 to 70 percent of the edits it flags do end up being quickly corrected by the Wikipedia community.
The exhaustive analysis of Wikipedia's seven-year edit history takes de Alfaro's desktop PC about a week to complete. At present he is working from copies of the site that Wikipedia periodically distributes. Once the initial backlog of edits is calculated, however, de Alfaro said that updating reliability scores in real time should be fairly simple.
While the program prominently displays text trustworthiness, de Alfaro favors keeping hidden the reputation ratings of individual users. Displaying reputations could lead to competitiveness that would detract from Wikipedia's collaborative culture, he said, and could demoralize knowledgeable contributors whose scores remain low simply because they post infrequently and on few topics.
"We didn't want to modify the experience of a user going in to Wikipedia," de Alfaro said. "It is very relaxing right now and we didn't want to modify what has worked so well and is so welcoming to the new user."
De Alfaro's color-coded Wikipedia pages can be found on his demonstration site."
New Podcaster Group Wants Your Input
Podango’s Scott Bourne has announced plans to form a new podcaster’s group, the Association of Podcasters & Online Media Producers (APOMP). The group is a response to the recently announced Association for Downloadable Media (ADM), which some podcasters feel is too focused on commercial podcasting. Bourne’s group would like your input, and is asking podcasters to fill out an online survey.
There are some impressive members of the steering committee. Scott Bourne: Podango Productions, Apple Phone Show Michael Geoghegan: GigaVox Lee Gibbons: Podango Judith Hutchinson, M.D.: Medical Minute Leo Laporte: TWiT.TV Alex Lindsay: Pixel Corps Michael Mennenga: Farpoint Media Doug Smith: Podango Tim Street: French Maid.TV Gretchen Vogelzang: MommyCast Jeffrey Wilerth: Farpoint Media.
Hat tip to Podcasting News. [JH]
Legal Conference Watch
The Gallagher Law Library, University of Washington School of Law, has launched Legal Conference Watch, a current awareness blog covering conferences of interest to law school faculty. Snips from the About page:
If [your institution is] hosting or [if you} know about an upcoming conference that would interest law school faculty, please send us a link or some basic information. We’d like to help you get the word out. Write to whisner [at] u [dot] washington [dot] edu.
We do not plan to include continuing legal education programs or local bar association meetings
Listings will be limited to programs that are at least a day long. Many afternoon lectures or lunchtime meetings are undoubtedly very interesting, but not worth traveling far to attend.
We will list more conferences in the U.S. and Canada than elsewhere, although we will add foreign conferences selectively. (A German conference about German law will probably not make the cut; a conference in Germany that is about international or comparative law and is advertised for speakers and participants around the world will.)
Hat tip to Mary Whisner, Reference Librarian, Gallagher Law Library. [JH]
Can Blogging Derail Your Academic Career?
In previous posts we've noted that blogging may be a plus for one's career. For students, that is. For academics, well, The Chronicle asked seven academic bloggers to weigh in on the Juan Cole case and on the hazards of academic blogging. A critic of the Iraq War and the treatment of Palestinians, Cole is a University of Michigan professor of modern Middle East and South Asian history who was not offered a tenured position at Yale despite recommendations from two departments. No reason for the decision given; was it because of the opinions he expressed in his blog? Read more about it. [JH]