OMR: Buried Treasure

May 31, 2007

Finding buried treasure in stocks that find, well, buried treasure

In March a friend humorously pointed me to Admiralty Holding Company (ADMH), a sad little penny stock for a company that searches for buried treasure on sunken ships. It sounded like a ridiculous investment. So I was surprised last week when a similar company, Odyssey Marine Exploration (OMR), rocketed up 80% to $7.38 when it discovered buried treasure.

Odyssey Marine Exploration claims to have discovered a Colonial period shipwreck with over 500,000 silver coins weighing more than 17 tons, hundreds of gold coins, worked gold, and other artifacts located in an undisclosed location somewhere in the Atlantic. The claims appear to have some legitimacy, as the Spanish Government is already suing Odyssey, claiming the treasure must belong to the Spanish crown. Presumably, the Spanish will allow Odyssey to keep some of the booty in exchange for their troubles. OMR shares closed down 20 cents, or 3% on news of the Spanish lawsuit today.


More Stephen Colbert Wiki Pranks

May 29, 2007

Stephen Colbert had Jimmy Wales on his show last week, and a fresh round of Wikipedia pranks has ensued. You can best view the interview here.

Last year, Colbert’s Comedy Central fans began editing the Wikipedia article on Elephants to read, “Thanks largely to the efforts of Stephen Colbert, the world elephant population has tripled.” These edits are still being reverted to this day. Following Colbert’s interview with Wales, a new flurry of pages are being protected. Colbert called on viewers to write a variety of new and interesting facts. Namely, that “Librarians are hiding something,” that “Oxygen is a poison“, that “Albert Einstein was an Alpacca farmer“, and that anyone looking for the Spanish Wikipedia should “just learn English.”

I should note that all of these pages are now semi-protected. Probably because, as Jimmy notes in the interview, Wikipedians watch the Colbert report. Colbert is the comedian who coined the term “Wikiality”, a state in which truth becomes whatever the majority of people believe it to be. This prompted Colbert fans to start the parody wiki,, “The Truthiness Encyclopedia.”

Wales enjoyed his Colbert interview with good humor, and even noted that Stephen Colbert himself had been banned from editing Wikipedia, for “not behaving himself.”

Top 50 Wikis by Traffic Rank

May 24, 2007 has listed the top 57 Wiki’s by traffic rank. ValueWiki should be in the top 50, but the author, Jason Rodriguez, does not seem to respond to blog email or comments. 😦

According to Jason’s list, the top ten Wikis by Alexa rank and Google page rank are:

  1. Wikipedia PR8 Alexa Rank:10
  2. Adobe Labs PR9 Alexa Rank:85
  3. WikiAnswers PR6 Alexa Rank:274
  4. TripAdvisor Wiki PR3 Alexa Rank:504
  5. Apache Wiki PR7 Alexa Rank:939
  6. WikiMapia PR6 Alexa Rank:1,139
  7. Second Life Wiki PR6 Alexa Rank:1,413
  8. Wikia PR7 Alexa Rank:1,657
  9. AboutUs PR6 Alexa Rank:1,982
  10. Debian PR6 Alexa Rank:2,020

Blocking Anonymous Editing

May 23, 2007

On Monday ValueWiki took the plunge and blocked all anonymous IP’s from editing. ValueWiki is now forcing all users to register. We will closely monitor and report the effects this has on the wiki.

Banning Anonymous IP’s – The Perennial Debate

Banning anonymous IP’s is a perennial proposal on Wikipedia, hotly debated for years. There is ample statistical evidence to show anonymous IP’s cause most (but not all) forms of vandalism. However, the radical egalitarian spirit of Wikipedia prides itself on keeping the encyclopedia open to everyone.

Wikipedia’s Policy

I would argue that logging in allows a greater level of anonymity than displaying an IP address. And I would also argue that with hundreds of thousands of users and worldwide brand recognition, Wikipedia no longer has to be concerned about luring in new users through experimental anonymous editing. But I greatly respect the spirit of the policy. It is Wikipedia’s open-source idealism that has captured the world’s imagination and attracted so many loyal devotees from around the globe.

ValueWiki’s Policy

Unlike Wikipedia, ValueWiki has the luxury of not being a democracy! In these early stages, we prefer to think of ourselves as a benevolent dictatorship. 99% of ValueWiki vandalism is clearly the result of anonymous IPs. So rather than spend years on community discussion and spam-reverting, we are simply forcing users to register and log in.

For anyone shocked at our decision to close an open-source system, here is our reasoning…

9 Reasons To Force Wiki Editors to Register

  1. Registering is inherently anonymous. In fact, it is far more anonymous than leaving an IP address.

  2. Registering helps promote community.

  3. Registering on a wiki is a one-step process that takes ten seconds.

  4. Registering stymies spam bots.

  5. Registering makes it far easier to ban abusive users. Blocking IP addresses is sloppy work; banning one IP can block an entire country.

  6. Registering allows a wiki to keep clear statistics on users and usage.

  7. Registering nulls most vandalism and spam (99% of ValueWiki vandals are anonymous IP’s).

  8. Registering is required on all other internet message boards and community sites. So registration isn’t considered a huge imposition…

  9. It’s just an experiment. If we don’t like the results, we can always undo it. 🙂

Google: The Best Place to Work

May 23, 2007

Fortune Magazine just ranked Google the #1 place to work in America. The Googleplex offers free gormet food, massages, and language lessons. It’s certainly a pretty amazing work environment. Even better than Threadless. Oprah has the scoop…

Wikipedia:One Featured Article per Quarter

May 22, 2007

One Featured Article Per Quarter (WP:1FAPQ) is a group of Wikipedians dedicated to producing a new featured article every quarter. Only 1,393 of Wikipedia’s 1,794,328 articles have achieved Featured article status. This translates to 00.07%. According to the essay Wikipedia is Failing, 99.8% of Wikipedia articles remain unassessed.

Now that Wikipedia has created nearly 1.8 million articles and the rate of new article production is slowing down, there are calls for Wikipedians to focus on quality over quantity. A high number of Wikipedia articles are relatively decent and just need a little extra push to guide them through the featured article process.

My Personal Featured Article Project

A few weeks ago I started the Wikipedia article on the LAPD Rampart Scandal from scratch. My goal is to bring it to Featured Article review within the next three months. This may be recklessly ambitious, but hopefully a worthwhile learning experience.

Notability of The Rampart Scandal

The Rampart Scandal may be the most widespread and well-documented case of police corruption and brutality in U.S. History. More than 70 LAPD Rampart officers were implicated in misconduct. Convicted offenses include illegal shootings, illegal beatings, planting of evidence, framing of suspects, stealing millions of dollars of cocaine, drug dealing, gang membership, bank robbery, falsifying police reports, and the ensuing coverups. Discovering that Wikipedia did not yet cover this topic was like striking wiki-Gold.

Bloods, Hip Hop, and Intrigue

Several Rampart cops were on the payroll of Death Row Records, and had strong ties to the violent Bloods gang. Intriguingly, Rampart police are accused of the drive-by shooting of platinum-selling rap artist Notorious B.I.G. on Wilshire Boulevard in 1997. The wrongful death lawsuit against three Rampart officers is currently ongoing in Los Angeles.

The city of Los Angeles has paid out an estimated $125 million in the settlements of 140 seperate civil suits resulting from overturned convictions by Rampart police. Three independent investigations have concluded that Rampart’s corruption was systemic to the LAPD, and not endemic to rogue police. In fact, former Police Chief Bernard Parks was either actively engaged in covering up the Rampart scandal, or else guilty of extreme negligence. He has so far avoided indictment and currently serves on the Los Angeles City Council representing South Los Angeles.

My Work Cut out for Me

The scope of the Rampart Scandal is enormous. So far, in my attempts to start a reasonable article, I have also had to write Wikipedia articles on Rampart police officers Rafael Perez (stole $800,000 of cocaine), Kevin Gaines (killed by an LAPD undercover cop), David Mack (robbed $722,000 from a bank in South Central), as well as Javier Ovando, an 18th Street Gang member who was handcuffed, shot in the head, and then framed by two Rampart cops.

On a Personal Note

I want to note that I love the police. In fact, I attended the 32nd Annual LAPD Celebrity Golf Tournament this weekend and had the opportunity to meet a lot of outstanding LAPD officers. My interest in the Rampart Scandal has more to do with the fact that this incident seems to be underrepresented in the media and in public awareness, for reasons that elude me.

To illustrate this point, note that the Rampart shootings and beatings greatly excede the perceived brutality of the Rodney King beating. Yet the Rodney King verdict prompted 6 days of rioting in Los Angeles, resulting in more than 50 deaths, 2,000 injuries, 3,600 fires, over $1 Billion in property damage, and Police Chief Daryl Gates resigning in disgrace. Meanwhile, many of the Rampart police murders remain unsolved, Chief Bernard Parks continues to hold political office, and Parks continues to command the widespread support of the South Central community. Rampart cops engaged in every form of police brutality. But in many ways, the scandal seems to have been brushed under the carpet.

On May 1, 2007, the LAPD used excessive force in firing rubber bullets and beating several notable journalists who were covering an immigration rally in the Rampart district of Los Angeles. This event has already resulted in an internal investigation, a lawsuit, and a fairly decent Wikipedia article. But the larger issue is that the alleged “warrior culture” of the LAPD reported by the Christopher Commission in 1991, and the Rampart Scandal Task Force in 1999, may continue to exist in the present day. Presenting neutral point of view information on the Wikipedia Rampart Scandal article and bringing it up to Feature Article status may present a useful resource to the Los Angeles community.

Call to Action

I know the Rampart article is still in its infancy, and can use a lot of work. Anyone who would like to take a look and make some edits is welcome to do so. I can use the help!

It’s Official – WallStrip Acquired by CBS

May 22, 2007

The rumors are true. Congratulations to Howard and WallStrip!

*Howard Lindzon gives a thorough rundown of the acquisition.

*Fred Wilson, the lead investor, gives another interesting take.

*Trader Mike, who seems to have some equity-in-exchange-for-publicity, one of Wallstrip’s founders and investors, also covers the story.

*And TechCrunch covers the deal, albeit, with plenty of criticism in the comments.

Last but not least, WallStrip’s coverage of the WallStrip deal: