Wikipedia Uncertainty Principle

September 4th, 2008

Reading this reddit thread today, I found this idea regarding Wikipedia to be most profound.


Thus, the Wikipedia Uncertainty Principle.

One cannot call attention to a wikipedia article without causing that article to be altered.


At any given time a wikipedia article both contains and does not contain any one given fact. Observing it will cause only one of the cases to be true. Calling attention to it will cause the other case to become true for a short time until it resettles on the first.

Obviously, this is a play on the original Uncertainty Principle of quantum physics. This suggests, in simple terms, that the observation of a subatomic particle changes the ability to measure it accurately.

Wikipedia is free-content encyclopedia that anybody (to a limit) can edit. It is one of the most frequently used references on the internet and is generally considered to be a trustworthy source. However, due to it’s open edit policy, controversial topics may contain debatable and frequently changing information. Thus, the wikipedia uncertainty principle comes into play.

When a discussion about a precise piece of information within wikipedia occurs, occasionally somebody will actually be editing that information in wikipedia during the discussion. In fact, the discussion actually increases the chances that people will add, remove, or modify that information. Depending on the edits, the debatable information may or may not be there at any one time.

The bigger the discussion, the more edits that will occur… and the more “uncertain” is that data within wikipedia.

Google Lego 50th Anniversary Inspiration
Creative Commons License credit: manfrys

I have a small blog about hiking in the triangle. It’s nothing fancy, and my family uses it to catalog our growing love with local hiking. One of my hike-loving co-workers noticed last week that she could no longer find it through google.

The site looked the same; however, a quick source check noted thousands of spam links in the footer. The site, running an older version of wp, had been hacked.

The site got a virtual scrub down and update to the latest version of wordpress. Although the google “punishment” hurt my feelings, I understood completely. Spam filled pages should be devalued. My experience with search engine ranking is that things move very, very slowly. I wondered to myself if trianglehike would ever be found on google again.

with SPAM
Creative Commons License credit: dominiekth

Much to my surprise, trianglehike is back into google this am. The punishment was temporary and reversed (automatically, I am assuming) soon after the hack was repaired. Amazing.

Obviously, this is great news to the blogger who might accidently miss an update or two. One mistake does not kick you out of the game forever. As hard as google battles spam, this distinction between black hat malicious spam and hack-induced accidental spam is impressive.

Even more impressive is how google suppresses the power of wordpress hacks. By correctly identifying and quickly down ranking affected sites, any SEO benefits are lost. Without benefits, the hacks are not economically worth a spammer’s time.

Google is effectively suppressing the power of a widespread spam attack without excessive punishment of the web site owners. Bravo.

Matt Cutts is one of google’s most public faces. His insights into google’s philosophy and direction are high yield information.

Although usually followed for the etiquette and ethics of search engine optimization, Matt is also a highly skilled tutorial writer. Followers of tech-recipes will certainly appreciate these gems from his blog.

Moving to a New Web Host – Seemlessly moving to a new host or IP without losing google juice is a gastric reflux inducing concern. From MySQL dumps to DNS changes, these step-by-step directions will help keep the heartburn at bay.

Dynamic Adjustment of iFrame Height – The use of iFrame elements are necessary evils in some projects. Matt’s ideas and the comments that follow should help solve many common iFrame issues. Since adsense uses iFrames, it is not surprising that google would be interested in smooth iFrame integration.

Highlight Author Comments in WordPress – On Matt’s blog (and the upcoming transition of tech-recipes to WP) author comments are highlighted in an unique color for easy identification. Matt’s code and the suggestions that follow explore multiple solutions for this issue.

Downloading and Splitting Podcasts in Linux – Podcasts are wonderful sources of information; however, getting them into bite-sized morsels can be difficult. Matt’s tutorial downloads the podcasts and carves them into manageable sections for ease and comfort.

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Blog Me Tender, Blog Me True

March 11th, 2008

The tech-recipes authors are blogging like crazy. As I am not always the tutorial zealot, please allow me to brag on the crew a little this morning.

BFF and code monkey Q is becoming the photographer and photoshoppper extraordinaire. In his blog exposure post he highlights some of his favorite photography related blog posts.

New tech-recipes author Incursor reminds us all to take an ubuntu typing break. Our other ubuntu guru ShamansTears is on the cusp of getting Google Calendar working offline. He is destined to get us a big scoop before somebody leaks it to the a-listers.

Gadget boy and hardware hacker Seamonkey420 is beating the tobacco addiction but will never be able to give up the gear habit. Check out the videos for his Asus Eee PC 4G and his PS3 versus HTPC.

My wife and I are celebrating a little family time in the wine country. You guys be careful and not mess up the place, okay?

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TechCrunch and ValleyWag are two highly successful websites. Here are their recent stats for your reference.

It’s like a baseball pitcher in high school knowing that Nolan Ryan clocked a pitch 100.9 miles per hour.

TechCrunch’s January uniques: 2,647,027
ValleyWag’s January visits: 1,866,711 (stats)

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Greg Reinacker is the founder and CTO of NewsGator.  He also happens to do some excellent professional photography. An interesting opportunity just walked up and smacked Greg across the head. He has pictures from a photography shoot from one of the contestants–Amy Davis.

Please allow me the snarkish oppertunity to interpret his blog post…

For the first time ever, I’ve started watching American Idol this year. And imagine my surprise when I see that Amy Davis is one of the final 24 contestants.

Amazing coincidence! American Idol is been on TV for seven seasons now. The year he finally to jump on the bandwagon just happened to be the season that he had unpublished photos of one of the finalists.

Just over a year ago, I spent a week on a small island near St. Thomas, doing a series of photo shoots. One of the models was Amy Davis. I remember thinking wow, beautiful and talented model…

We are all thinking right now… wow, being a CEO and photog rocks! Beautiful island, beautiful girls… wow. I am physically making the rock-n-roll devil hand sign over my laptop right now.

…and I’ve got literally hundreds of photos of her. So in the interest of helping her win, I’m going to post one previously unpublished photo here every week she stays in the competition.

Hundreds of photos, folks. Hundreds! Every week she’s in the contest, we get a new photo. Every week people are googling for her, Greg gets some juicy traffic. What could go wrong?


Huh, oh. :) Oh, well… at least we get to see her in some newsgator swag.

Releasing the NewsGator suite for free should get Greg some loving as well. Although Google’s Reader is superior to NewsGator’s online service, the NewsGator local clients far exceed Google Reader in speed and features.

The Gawker Network has recently changed it’s pay structure to encourage popularity over quantity.

In the new and old system, Gawker pays a base salary. In the old system, authors were paid a $12 per post bonus above the base salary. In the new system, an author’s bonus is based on having more pageviews than expected for that site.

Under the new system, posts that receive a high number of pageviews will likely yield a bigger bonus than the old system. However, lesser popular posts may never reach the pageview threshold; and in that case, the blogger will not get paid anything over the base salary.

ratdiary describes in further detail how many authors may lose money under the new terms. After claiming Gawker’s big man Denton has “no vision beyond page views”, one Gawker author has quit after only one day on the job.

Under this system, Denton is assuming that pageviews are the most important metric. This should not be surprising. Radio and television are already largely driven by popularity. More pageviews = more ad views = more clicks = more $$.

Sadly, this is why our main stream media is being diluted with pop-culture, britney spears / paris hilton junk. Popularity may equal money; however, it does not equal quality.

This is certainly not a knock against Denton. Trying to prevent dilution is hard. Here at tech-recipes we will continue to utilize a straight profit sharing model. The advantage of the profit sharing model is that it rewards quality and popularity. The money made on an article is a factor of pageviews and what an advertiser is willing to pay to be near that content. High quality content (regardless of popularity) is more likely to receive better paying advertising.

Denton’s model, for better or worse, only rewards authors for half of the equation.

We Pay Our Bloggers

December 12th, 2007

I just want everybody to know that we are paying our bloggers. BlogCharm may not pay their bloggers. AGLOCO died without paying its users. BlogNation is not paying either.

This is ridiculous. People are working and not getting paid. Unforgivable. The first thing you do is pay your people. You pay your people before you pay your rent, your servers, and especially yourself.

We have never missed a payment to our authors–not a single one. We are as open and transparent as possible. Our bloggers are our friends. I could not imagine under any circumstance not paying them.

We have never taken funding. We do not believe in black-hat SEO. We are building slowly and honestly. We have funds in the bank.

Depending on their skills and content, we have authors that are making several thousands of dollars a month. We even reward our volunteers who are not under contract. We are constantly in discussions and experimentation with our advertising partners to bring our authors the highest income possible.

BlogCharm, AGLOCO, BlogNation — shame on you. When blogging is your business, then your bloggers should be your top priority.

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Adsense Channel Bug Today

October 24th, 2007

In reviewing our adsense for today, MightyQ noticed that our channel data was not updating correctly. However, the overall totals were within normal limits.

Scanning through the google adsense groups, he found this comment from adsense staff…

Hi everyone,

Our engineers are aware that some publishers are experiencing
reporting discrepancies between their aggregate and channels data
today, and they’re working to resolve them as quickly as possible.
I’ll let you know when I know more.

Sorry for the confusion,

As Q and I like to say, it is just a glitch in the matrix. :)

Techcrunch lets us know that newsvine acquired by Newsvine had raised $1.5 million in capital prior to this.

Considering the estimated metrics of newsvine, this really surprises me. Of course, all of these services are estimations. Let’s look at the numbers:

I’ll include tech-recipes in the comparisons for a baseline…


Compete – SnapShot of,
Alexa – Graph of,
Quantcase –,