Archive for the ‘Wikiality’ category

Please read: A personal appeal from a former Wikipedia editor

17 January 2012
Categories: Wikiality

For the past few months, pages on Wikipedia have been headed by a series of “personal appeals,” with folks ranging from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales to random users, all of them shilling for money to support the Wikimedia Foundation.

My appeal, from a former editor with more than 16,000 positive contributions: don’t bother.

I have said it before—Wikipedia is a failure.

Its experiment in community knowledge-gathering is fatally flawed, and I think in the long term it will become yet another Internet graveyard, another of those interesting online concepts that people will look back on and say, “Remember that? It was cool for a while, and then it fell apart, and nobody really misses it now.”

Statistics already show a steady decline in editor activity on Wikipedia, and analysts have myriad theories as to causes. But I think it all comes down to a handful of interconnected problems:

  • A naïve openness that leaves it vulnerable to troublemakers.
  • A model that ignores the possibility that some contributors are more reliable than others.
  • A lack of concerted oversight.

Nobody gives a thought to who might have created or edited any particular article, and yet Wikipedia’s articles carry a pervasive air of authoritativeness—an air that’s taken, if you’re smart, at arm’s length. As much as it aspires to be, Wikipedia is not Academia. And it never can be.

No bylines exist; recognition of an editor’s work is fleeting at best. Unless—you’re an editor who works to defend Wikipedia against the rampant vandalism that occurs continually, and you run afoul of one of the many sociopathic recluses that lurk there. Then you get recognition, of the unwanted kind, and plenty of it. And that’s where Wikipedia utterly fails.

More than once I’ve been the target of attacks by people (and I use the term “people” loosely) whose sole purpose in life appears to be watching the Internet burn. Since Wikipedia was the place that drew these gnats future presidents, I reported the attacks to the Wikipedia administration caste—which resulted in exactly zero attention.

Meanwhile, Wikipedia’s all-volunteer model effectively means that all editing, all policing, all administration is ad-hoc. When these same vandals and mindless pranksters returned to vandalize again, no one was paying enough attention to realize they were the same attackers, operating under new accounts. Editors went through the same nicey-nice, bullshit motions—polite notice, followed by caution, warning, and final warning—before finally blocking the vandals yet again, usually several days and many edits after their return.

Warning these douchebags does not deter them; in fact, that response is just what they want most—recognition and attention, negative though it is. Blocking their IP addresses is only a momentary solution, since for most of them a new IP address is only as far away as their modem’s power switch. They will not be appeased, and if thwarted will find other, extra-wiki (and frankly, illegal) means to cause trouble. I know this for a fact, from first-hand experience.

As a result, I have ceased all activity on Wikipedia, and will never again edit or contribute to it. My personal well-being (as well as my privacy and, I truly believe, my safety) are not worth the risk and grief. I have little doubt that many others have found themselves in a similar situation.

Unless Wikipedia decides to erect some semblance of a velvet rope, with a virtual bouncer checking for editors who are “on the list” by having demonstrated just a modicum of good faith, Wikipedia will suffer more and more from editor burnout and will soon cease to improve; it will stagnate, and the ruiners will win. Maybe they already have.

[Follow-up: This post was picked up by Hacker News on 14 Feb 2012, engendering a lively and interesting discussion.]

A Wikipedia tool concept: Craptastic

16 March 2010
Categories: Wikiality

After more than five years editing and contributing to Wikipedia, I’m starting to get fed up with it. The anonymous vandals, the edit warring, and even the secret cabals are all adding up to what I can only characterize as a noble but failed experiment. Yes, I said it: Wikipedia is a failure.

Probably the coup de grâce to my desire to contribute was when some douchebag from Calgary took exception to an edit I reverted as linkspam. (It was a link to a page promoting a book he wrote, a violation of WP:ELNO #1 and #5. Two other editors reverted subsequent attempts at adding it, seconding my stance on its unsuitability.) He followed my Wikipedia user page to my home page, ran a whois query on my domain name to find personal data I inadvertently had left exposed, and invaded my privacy by calling my home and harassing my wife.

The coward lied to her about his name, and blocked caller i.d., but that’s okay—I know who he is. He was stupid enough to send me a threatening e-mail from the same IP address that had been used to make the anonymous edits. Needless to say, the book that he was trying to promote on Wikipedia will get nary a mention from me here, unless he chooses to continue his utterly inappropriate personal harassment, in which case I will out him as an asshole and do what I can to dissuade people from ever buying or reading any of his works.

What galls me too about this specific case is that I deliberately tried to say something nice while reverting: my edit summary said “No doubt an interesting book… but linkspam.” In fact, at that point I was sufficiently curious about the book (and continue to be interested in its subject matter) that I was fully prepared to buy a copy of his book for myself, and perhaps even promote it on my site. His reaction, however, eliminated any chance of that.

That aside, it just illustrates Wikipedia’s primary trouble: editors, operating in good faith to improve the encyclopedia, are forced to waste their time on trying to stay ahead of the constant avalanche of sheer crap that appears there.

In response, I have a concept for a new Wikipedia tool which I call Craptastic.

Many times, edits are of extremely low quality, but not so awful that they can be immediately reverted or undone. Some examples:

  • Information that seems blatantly false, but yet is also just plausible enough that it can’t be confirmed or deleted without additional research (except in BLP cases, which allow immediate removal of any uncited material).
  • Lengthy additions that contain tidbits of good information buried within poorly edited paragraphs, requiring significant copy editing to extricate the good stuff.
  • Details that may or may not be overly tangential or trivial, which is usually an editor’s judgment call.

In many cases, these edits might fall under one or more Wikipedia policies or guidelines, but it takes a thorough knowledge of those guidelines to wield them appropriately. Just because I don’t like the looks of an edit doesn’t mean I can easily call it, say, a WP:COI or WP:UNDUE and revert it with confidence.

That’s where the Craptastic tool would come in. Don’t like the looks of an edit, but can’t say exactly why? Know an edit is iffy but don’t have the time to spruce it up? Mark it as “craptastic.” The edit will be added to your personal Craptastic list.

Each edit listed in Craptastic would show its “intact” percentage. An unmodified edit would show up as 100% intact, likely in red. A reverted edit would be 0% intact, and green. The latter could be manually removed from the list, unless Craptastic could be smart enough to recognise when the same content returns in a subsequent edit… and flag such as possible edit warring.

Partially altered edits would have gradually lower intact percentages, giving an editor the chance to review an edit after someone else improved it, perhaps finding the problem areas less daunting at that point.

An editor who later finds a modicum of both time and gumption could check their Craptastic list and choose an edit to improve. Craptastic teams could share their lists and perform vetting and cleanup on edits marked by others on their team.

Described like that, it almost sounds like a useful, collaborative tool. Don’t be fooled. To be honest, my intent in suggesting this tool is not altruistic, for it is not really intended as a means to improve editing efficiency. In truth, what I want is a tool that would vindicate my opinions of the edits I see—to allow me to say, “oh, that’s just craptastic”… and later come back, with zero effort, to see that, sure enough, I was right.

Identity crisis? Only if you can’t accept change.

26 July 2009
Categories: Chicago, Wikiality

I remember when the Sears Tower was completed in 1974. I remember my grandfather giving me a cardstock kit that I folded with care and assembled into a little model of it, which I then managed to flatten through overly exuberant play. I remember noticing when the rooftop masts were first extended with taller antennae, and being drawn into an Abbott-and-Costello-style repartee with my Uncle David when I commented, “they’re a different height” (than they were before) and he replied, “no, they’re the same height” (as each other). “No, they’re different!” “They look the same to me.” Et cetera. (Hey, I was maybe ten years old; it was funny at the time.)

So yeah, the Sears Tower has long been a memorable fixture in my life. And when it was announced in early 2009 that new tenants had bought the naming rights, I was aghast, appalled, disappointed. “They can’t do that!” I said.

But of course they can. And in the bigger scheme of Chicago history, perhaps it’s appropriate that they do. After all, Sears abandoned their own namesake tower to move out to the suburbs. It is, in the final analysis, nothing more than a corporate name. These things change. Just ask Alvah Roebuck.

Renaming a building as iconic, as symbolic of Chicago, as the Sears Tower is—a building that stood for decades as the tallest in the world—is somewhere on a par with renaming, say, the Chrysler Building in New York, or the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco. Unfortunate, sure. Inappropriate, perhaps. Fair game? Absolutely.

Nevertheless, I still call the Aon Center by its original name, the Standard Oil Building. Because that’s what it was called when I first visited it as a kid. That’s what it was called when I took a picture of it at age nine, with a Quaker-Oats-can pinhole camera that I made myself at the Art Institute. Besides, I like calling it by its nickname, “Big Stan.” Of course, this archaism means I always have to correct myself when speaking to anyone new to Chicago (“new” as in arriving any time within the past twenty-plus years) who only know it as the Aon Center, or perhaps remember it as the Amoco Building.

Anyway, this is supposed to be about the Sears Tower and its new name, Willis Tower, of which I am not a fan. I know I have a lot of company with this sentiment. (On the other hand, although I don’t care for its new name, I have to admit to enjoying the nickname that is already gaining traction: “Big Willie.” But I suppose a lot of Americans are oblivious to the British naughtiness of this.)

Nowhere is the controversy and distress of this change more apparent than on Wikipedia. The day the name change was announced, editors immediately began to jump the gun and put the name in place throughout the site. These were routinely reverted with the admonition: “the name change hasn’t happened yet.” Which meant, of course, that when July 16 rolled around and the new signage was unveiled during a mid-morning ceremony, editors fell over each other in trying to be the first to make the change. Even then, the page move was premature: it went from Sears Tower to Willis Tower on July 15 at 16:07 UTC, a full day early.

Then came the reverters, as well as the confusers. Some were opposed to the name change, and tried to move it back to Sears. Others were overenthusiastic about it and changed all references throughout Wikipedia from Sears to Willis, at the cost of rampant anachronisms. For example, it’s accurate to say “the Standard Oil Building was surpassed by the Sears Tower as the tallest in Chicago,” because it happened in 1974. It would be incorrect to use the Aon Center and Willis Tower names in the previous statement, but it is apropos to say “the Aon Center is third tallest in Chicago, after Willis Tower and Trump Tower,” since that is a statement of current fact. This distinction is lost on many editors.

A full week after the page move, on Wednesday, July 22, a newbie editor (having created his account just one day earlier) started a campaign to return the Willis Tower page to Sears Tower. Being inexperienced, he bypassed standard page-move protocol with a cut-and-paste job (cut the content from Willis, paste it in Sears, and change all the names in both pages); being an inappropriate edit, this was quickly reverted with a comment that Wikipedia’s “Requested Moves” process was the correct method to use.

The editor began that process that same day, and now two days later the discussion has just about run its course, with interesting results.

The nominating editor cited the “Common Names” guideline as such: “[it] is emphatically clear: ‘Title an article using the most common English language name of a person or thing that is the subject of the article.’” He used various Google news searches, as well as the usual editorials and news blurbs that discussed peoples’ natural resistance to the change, to infer that Sears remains the “common name” of the building.

His supporters jumped on with more of the same: it’s an icon, it’s like changing the name of the Brooklyn Bridge, etc. Meanwhile, those opposed (i.e. in favour of keeping it at Willis) responded with variations on “the name has changed, Wikipedia must change too.”

I jumped in with the contention that the “Common Names” guideline is not the one in play:

As far as guidelines go, WP:COMMONNAME is not specific, but WP:Naming conflict#How to make a choice among controversial names is: “Is it the official current name of the subject?” (emphasis added) In fact, WP:COMMONNAME appears to defer to this guideline when it says, “Except where other accepted Wikipedia naming conventions give a different indication”. [...]

Many—including myself—consider this to be an asinine, money-grubbing decision by building management to change the name of an icon; but change it they have, and it’s not our place as Wikipedians to argue against that change. That said, I’ll call it Sears Tower until the day I die, just as I do with the Standard Oil Building—but I won’t feign confusion if a tourist asks me how to get to Willis Tower or the Aon Center.

He quickly responded with:

Well the policy you cite above refers specifically to naming article [sic] to avoid POV; there isn’t really an NPOV problem here.

To which I replied:

I disagree. Nothing personal, but the passion with which some people are resisting this change strikes me as very POV.

My position was soon seconded:

The statements by Forsyth [et al.] clearly state the primary flaw in this nomination, which is the claim that a move from Willis Tower to Sears Tower is supported by a guideline phrase where “WP:COMMONNAMES is emphatically clear” about this issue. Pulling a single sentence from the lead when that sentence has paragraphs of explanation following which cover multiple scenarios can be misleading, which I think has been the result here. In continuing to staunchly support the move, the nominator has also used arguments which have been repeatedly and effectively rebutted. [One] sees similar arguments listed as arguments to avoid in deletion discussions, including reliance on Google hits to determine what title to use, and comparing this article’s title to those of other articles in an illogical way which is akin to the What about X? line of reasoning that is discouraged as well.

One might think this would begin to settle things, but then an administrator threw a wrench into the proceedings — eight days after the original move—by reverting the move as having been done “without consensus.” He was soon overruled by another administrator who said it should “remain at this title pending close of move request.” Clearly, even the upper echelons of Wikipedia lack consensus on what precedent should be set, and the discussion raged on.

The discussion then turned absurd. An editor opposed moving back to Sears by citing—WP:COMMONNAME!

Most of the articles I find in Google News that came after the renaming call it the Willis Tower and mention that it used to be called the Sears Tower. This Chicago Tribune article calls it the Willis Tower without even bothering to mention that it was the Sears Tower [link]. No one can seriously believe news sources are going to keep calling it the Sears Tower even though that is no longer its name; that’s just wishful thinking by people who don’t like the change.

Despite these cogent remarks, both refuting the use of “Common Names” and using it in opposition of the original argument, editors continue to push for Sears under the premise of that guideline—mostly with variations on “it’s what people call it!” At the 48-hour mark, the discussion still lacked consensus, but was trending 5-to-3 in favour of Willis:

Sears Tower (supported) (9)

Willis Tower (opposed) (15)

Quite frankly, this will play out in one way and one way only: the page will keep the name Willis Tower, at least as long as the building does; people will attempt to revert and rename for just as long, if not longer; and much more editorial energy will be spent in cleaning up those recurring changes than in making genuine improvements and updates to the Willis Tower page.

And, if not—if the page returns to the title of Sears Tower—my first action will be to use the Request Moves process to nominate a move from Aon Center (Chicago) to Standard Oil Building. I won’t need to use spurious comparisons to Myanmar, or Muhammad Ali, or Menara Kuala Lumpur. I will simply cite an evident and utterly equivalent precedent: the Sears Tower. Current Google results: “Standard Oil Building” 19,200; “Aon Center (Chicago)” 15,200. My path is clear.

Wikipedia wussiness

21 June 2008
Categories: Wikiality

The other day an anonymous IP user, who had previously vandalized Wikipedia’s John Glenn article to get onto my watchlist, twice blanked and then restored some other page within the space of a few minutes. Looking at the user’s talk page, I saw that this user had been blocked for vandalism a couple of times in the past, and had been given another final warning the day before.

This fair warning having received the response of further vandalism, I reported the user to WP:AIAV. Within a couple of minutes, the report was deleted as “stale,” and the administrator who dumped it sent me this message:

Your efforts are appreciated but please ensure you only report vandals who [are] actively vandalizing.

I replied:

You were the one who told [the user], “Although vandalizing articles on occasions that are days or weeks apart from each other sometimes prevents editors from being blocked, your continued vandalism constitutes a long term pattern of abuse. The next time you vandalize a page, you will be blocked from editing Wikipedia.” (emphasis yours) And in response they vandalized again. How does the fact that it happened 5 hours ago, rather than 5 minutes, make any difference as to whether they should be blocked?

Which got this response:

According to the blocking policy, blocks are meant to prevent disruption, as opposed to be punitive. If the IP is no longer vandalizing at the time, it shouldn’t be blocked because there is no ongoing disruption. See also the instructions at the top of WP:AIV. Best regards, [the admin]

I refrained from replying and let it slide, not wanting to get into an argument over policy. I have since pulled the conversation off my talk page so it doesn’t aggravate me any more. But that’s not going to stop me from ranting about it here.

The argument that the admin uses is specious at best, and Wikipedia policy is flawed, perhaps fatally.

To claim that timely blocking of disruption is preventative, while delayed blocking is punitive, is to say that an incident of disruptive behaviour becomes less disruptive over time. This is hardly the case; as the admin himself said to the user, long pauses between disruptions do not constitute a cessation of disruption; specifically, he called the user out for a “long term pattern of abuse.”

If a graffitist tags a wall, and then goes home and puts his feet up, does it make the wall any less defaced in the morning? No. And to follow this analogy, blocking a Wikipedia user is not imprisonment of a tagger—it’s taking away his spray can. Preventative, not punitive.

In fact, the policy that the admin cites specifically states: “Blocks are not punitive in the sense that they aren’t retribution. Blocks sometimes are used as a deterrent, to discourage whatever behavior led to the block and encourage a productive editing environment.” In other words, the use of a block does not constitute punishment. I repeat: “Blocks are not punitive.”

I know that Wikipedia feeds the know-at-all in me, and I have been guilty of mishandling policy in the past, but nothing is quite so irksome as someone with administrator-level privileges who cites policy according to whim and selectively omits those portions that don’t suit his opinions. Regardless of whether or not their ultimate goal is the improvement of Wikipedia.

Moreover, I think this incident illustrates yet another example of how Wikipedia policy, intending to support an open, welcoming atmosphere, finds itself at the mercy of disruptive, ill-intended editors because it bends over backwards to be nice to them. Wikipedia has reached the point in its development where the “anyone can edit” model needs to be reassessed, at the very least with an eye toward fettering the anonymous users who, nine times out of ten, are looking to deface rather than contribute.

I know I’m not alone in my frustration over Wikipedia. Here’s an interesting Slashdot commentary from user Admiral Ag, who goes beyond the random wall-pissers to address deeper concerns:

Wikipedia… has almost run its course. If nothing else, Wikipedia has demonstrated the power of the wiki concept, but its inability to self regulate in weeding out sociopaths, POV warriors and petty authoritarians has led to the departure of many good contributors, who simply can’t stand dealing with some of the obsessive and Machiavellian loons who populate the site. There’s no better sign of the downfall of Wikipedia than the endlessly increasing sets of rules and the endless discussions over them. I guess they just lost sight of the fact that Wikipedia should be structured to serve its users and not the obsessive people who have made it their hobby. Secret email lists, cabals, evidence of admin dishonesty oversighted, rules bent to suit the ruling clique, etc.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Wikipedia, but we can do better.

I would rephrase Admiral Ag’s main point: we should do better. But can we?

Tough love for Moo U

2 April 2008
Categories: Research, Wikiality

Over the past couple of years, ever since I first heard about it in Walter Adams’ excellent memoir The Test, I have been fascinated with the Michigan State University Group, a technical assistance project that MSU provided to South Vietnam from 1955 to 1962. Part of the reason it intrigued me was the fact that up until two years ago, I had never heard of the project—and I’d even worked for one of the participating MSU departments for seven years (albeit thirty years after the project ended). I know I’m not alone in this; MSU seems perfectly happy to forget it ever happened.

The thing is, all I could find online on the subject was a reprint of the Ramparts article (“The University on the Make”) that had generated such controversy and campus uproar. In reading John Ernst’s even-handed 1998 history Forging A Fateful Alliance, and more recently Scigliano and Fox’s “official” 1965 overview Technical Assistance in Vietnam, I could see how one-sided the Ramparts article was. Yes, it raised some valid questions about the project, its motivations, and its CIA connection. But it did so by deliberately ignoring any positive benefit that MSUG might have had for the people of Vietnam.

This hardly seemed fair to me. After all, the people who had initiated and participated in MSUG had done so with (mostly) good intentions. That the results were less than stellar was pretty much par for the course in that era of overseas technical projects run by American universities, as Adams and Garraty so deftly illustrated in their book Is The World Our Campus? (1960).

Most people are unlikely to do as I did and take out interlibrary loans of dusty, seldom-used, sun-faded volumes from such far-flung locales as Southern Illinois University and the former Northeastern Illinois State College (as one book’s stamp reads). For them, the sum total of MSUG history on the Internet was a possibly spurious, certainly unsubstantiated tale of cloak-and-dagger nefariousness. History is written by the victors, and in this case the victors were the conspiracy theorists.

I’m not trying to defend the project. Diem was a complete bastard, the U.S. was wrong for backing him at all (much less as long as we did), and MSU managed to piss away a lot of its intellectual capital and new-found respectability by playing along. But the University’s motives were not 100% craven, and MSUG was not merely a CIA front.

So, to provide a more even rendition of the history to a wider audience, I wrote an article for Wikipedia. (My other, more personal, motivation was that it allowed me to finally get the story out of my head, where it had been bouncing around without a proper audience for months.) Before posting it, I ran it past my wife, who called it “tough love” for my alma mater; and one of my closest friends, who suggested I run it past my dad, who remains active in the University community.

Dad was very supportive: not only did he purchase and send me another book on the subject, but he also contacted a fellow retired professor who had run the MSU international programs office for many years. (This professor begged off the question by reminding Dad that he had started in that role several years after the end of MSUG, belying the fact that he had of course worked closely with nearly everyone involved. This may be seen as an indication of how the subject remains a sore spot with the MSU administration.) The professor read the article and offered only minor copy edits and a few vague suggestions, and said he thought I should submit the article to a magazine or scholarly journal for publication. That was a pretty clear sign that I had nailed it.

And now, a digression into Wikipedia minutiae…

With no red flags waving, I posted the article just after noon UTC on March 26. I added a few redirect pages and also incorporated links to it in several articles that mentioned (or should have mentioned) the project: Ngo Dinh Diem, John A. Hannah, and Operation Passage to Freedom among them.

It soon was noticed by a user with a vast Wikipedia résumé on South Vietnam, Blnguyen, aka YellowMonkey, who praised it and kindly offered assistance in polishing it up for Featured Article status. He (I assume it’s a he) made some minor improvements but otherwise left it well enough alone. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have any sources for related photos either, so I’m still trying to figure out if the image of Fishel and Diem I scanned from Ernst’s book can be used.

The other thing I did that day was to self-nominate the article for Wikipedia’s “Did You Know?” feature. DYK has only a five-day window for eligibility, meaning that nominally the hook could go up on the main page any time through the 31st of March, or maybe the 1st of April (or, not at all). For the next several days, I watched it closely.

The DYK template has a minimum refresh interval of six hours, but as I watched it over the past week, it generally had a refresh interval of closer to 7½ or 8 hours, or about three new lists per day. It was pretty easy to follow, even though checking on some updates meant stopping by the computer after a 4 a.m. trip to the head. Thing was, the DYK nomination list is usually backlogged, so the stuff that appears is almost always the five-day-old hooks. This meant I should have expected to see my DYK, if it was chosen, around the 1st.

Except of course the 1st was April Fools’ Day, and all the DYK hooks were jokey twists on reality. So everything got delayed by a day. The first DYK update went up promptly at 00:01 UTC, 2 April, signifying the official end of April Fools’ Day (not that that abated the attempts to edit the Oldsmobile page, but that’s a different story).

The next DYK went up at 06:02, exactly 1 minute after the refresh window opened. And lo and behold, there was my hook.

Or, a facsimile of my hook. Although it exceeded the 200-character recommended limit by a handful, I had offered up:

…that the Michigan State University Group, which gave technical assistance in public and police administration to the government of South Vietnam from 1955 to 1962, provided cover for the CIA?

What appeared was:

…that Michigan State University, which gave technical assistance to South Vietnam from 1955 to 1962, provided cover for the CIA?

In other words,

…that the Michigan State University Group, which gave technical assistance in public and police administration to the government of South Vietnam from 1955 to 1962, provided cover for the CIA?

By the way, the edits and inclusion of my hook in DYK were done by my new acquaintance, Blnguyen. I suppose “in public and police administration” was simultaneously too detailed and not explicative enough. Pulling “the government of” was a good bit of clean-up, since the contract was with the government but the assistance was, at least in intent, given to the country—i.e., not just the government, but the people of Vietnam.

Piping the article title into “Michigan State University,” however, shocked me a bit. At first I thought my trouble with the piping is that it implies, at first glance, that “Michigan State University” is a new article, which of course it is not. But the truth is, it was shocking to me because it pulls no punches, and gets to the heart of the matter: MSU itself provided the assistance—and the cover. MSUG was just the instrument of providing. This edit made me face the fact that I’m still a bit uncomfortable about my school’s integrity having been risked on this enterprise, and perhaps subconsciously I was trying to distance MSU from MSUG.

What chagrins me most, though, is the fact that the next DYK update occurred at 12:14, or 6 hours and 12 minutes after the previous. On average, the DYK refresh intervals today (including a relatively laggard one at 18:34) have been merely 11 minutes longer than the required 6-hour minimum. That’s a considerable change from last week: from 3/25 to 3/28 the average interval was an even 8 hours. Clearly they’re working to eliminate some of the backlog by updating as often as possible. (And yet, by 03:00 UTC on 3 April, they were back to an 8 hour interval.)

In short, if we go by Michigan State time (that is, EDT), the DYK hook appeared from 2:02 AM to 8:14 AM on a Wednesday morning. So much for getting it noticed. I’ll have to check tomorrow to see if the article received any bump in traffic at all.

Follow-up: Well, that was at least a bit impressive. 1 April: 11 reads. 2 April: 1172! (Also bumped up views of my user page on that day to 25, from a pre-posting YTD average of 2.34.) Nevertheless, I still feel that the article didn’t get the audience it deserved from DYK.