Lucky number seven? Or Master Debaters at work?

So yesterday was the seven way leaders’ debate. Or a seven way pile up, however you want to look at it. And most of the analysis I’ve seen so far in the national press is banal, trite, and misleading. And that includes the polling companies who are simply asking the wrong questions. “Who won the debate” is not a terribly useful question (the answer was, of course, Nicola Sturgeon). The interesting question is “What did each party want to get out of the debate and what did they get – and how useful is that?”

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Wikipedia’s ArbCom: Busy doing nothing

So. ArbChttps://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/61/Wikimania_2007_puzzle_ball.jpg/240px-Wikimania_2007_puzzle_ball.jpgom have finally voted on GamerGate; my preliminary analysis was in my last post – but things subtly and significantly changed after that. What did ArbCom actually decide in the end? To put it simply, they punted. They made sure their result was fair so no one could accuse them of bias (we all know how well that went), and they made their scope of direct interventions as narrow as possible, trusting to the Admins to do the actual work. Which ultimately means they did very little about GamerGate as it applies to Wikipedia that the hard working admins already covering the article wouldn’t have done themselves. And the whole thing has ended by taking a long time to do not very much. Continue reading

Actually it’s about ethics in Wikipedia Journalism

Update 29 Jan 15: Arbcom has made its decision, and I’ve shown what they’ve actually done in my latest post.

Give it its due, GamerGate seems to be a tire fire where the Cracked I posted a month ago about Gamergate – the internet gaming cultural movement with ethical issues. A small, technically adept group trying to pretend it’s bigger than it is and to become a social movement. Of course they are going to make a push at Wikipedia. And of course other people are going to push back. And of course this is going to create chaos that gets escalated to the highest level; The Arbitration Committee (or Arbcom for short). Arbcom are in the process of making their decision, and using a misleading blogpost as source, The Grauniad (copied on RawStory), The Mary Sue, and Gawker are both claiming that something that hasn’t happened yet (24 January 2015) is something that’s already been done and been done badly.

My audience is mixed so I’m going to start with a basic overview of Wikipedia and Arbcom. Feel free to skip to the horizontal line. But it’s important to remember that by Wikipedia standards Gamergate is nothing compared to e.g. Israel/Palestine.

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A backdrop for the girls and boys who just don’t know or just don’t care

Auto Tune and lip synching.  The scourge of modern music.  It wouldn’t have happened back in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, right?  People believe music back then was authentic.  And great acts like Queen would never mime.  Right?

Some of the most blatant miming ever – and still a command performance by Freddie Mercury.

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I get by with a little help from my friends

In my last post about healthcare costs I compared the amount spent under the British system to bills from the American system, and it was far my most popular post so far.  One of the most popular questions was about costs by procedure or condition, something which lead me to do a little research as last time I checked the American data simply wasn’t available – it now is.

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Costing an arm and a leg – Healthcare wonkery/workings

In my last post about healthcare costs I compared the amount spent under the British system to bills from the American system, and it was far my most popular post so far.  One of the most popular questions was about costs by procedure or condition so I started doing some research.  And I ended up breaking the follow up post into three; one for Brits, one for Americans, and a nerd-post in which I share my workings.  This is the nerd post; feel free to scroll past – that’s why it’s separated out from the UK and US healthcare posts.

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And I said “Now pretend you’ve got no money”

It’s coming up to Christmas – and I’ve already spoken about the Salvation Army.  There’s one other Christmas warning: Monopoly is only slightly a more suitable game than bare knuckle boxing.  Just don’t do it.

There are plenty of people who say monopoly sucks.  And as a game played at Christmas they are right.  But Monopoly is very good at what it was designed to do (part of why it’s lasted).  It’s just not suited for a family game (but is far better if you use the actual rules).

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How much is that cystectomy in the window?

There are regularly stories (either in the news or viral) about how much American healthcare costs.  I’ve blogged in the past about some of the causes.  British healthcare is free at the point of delivery, so the patient doesn’t see the cost and people don’t know how expensive healthcare should be.  But British internal prices are public information, so it’s easy to see approximately how much things cost in a well-run health service.

The prices do, however, need some interpreting and the government’s “simple guide” runs to 72 pages.  I’m going to explain the system in a single (long) blog post.  And then I’m going to take estimates of how much a British hospital bill would get for each of the linked hospital costs.  The current costs are here (next year’s includes a 3.8% “efficiency saving” (read: underfunding)).

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Gators gonna gate, gate, gate, gate

People who are active online, especially on Twitter will have noticed something called Gamergate – which among other things includes a campaign of harrassment including driving people out of their homes and threats of terrorism.  If you don’t know what it’s about, Wikipedia has a summary of the facts – and on the subject of the facts I’m with Cracked when they said “do you realize that if what they’re saying is true, then this is still the most pointless fucking bullshit anyone has ever forced us to read?”  Which leads to the question of who they are and why they are doing what they are.

It’s all very well to mock their ethics in game journalism claims.  I agree that they are ridiculous.  Which means something else must be going on.  And I’m glad to not be at the centre of this.

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