A viewpoint on a viewpoint on Wikipedia’s neutral point of view

Posted on Updated on

I recently looked into what we have of Wikipedia research from Denmark and discovered several papers that I did not know about. I have now added some to Wikidata, so that Scholia can show a list of them.

Among the papers was one from Jens-Erik Mai titled Wikipedian’s knowledge and moral duties. Starting from the English Wikipedia’s Neutral Point of View (NPOV) policy, he stresses a dichotomy between the subjective and the object and argues for a rewrite of the policy. Mai claims the policy has an absolutistic center and a relativistic edge, corresponding to an absolutistic majority view and relativistic minority views.

As a long time Wikipedia editor, I find Mai’s exposition is too theoretical. I lack good exemplifications: cases where the NPOV fails, and I cannot see in what concrete way the NPOV policy should be changed to accommodate Mai’s critique. I am not sure that Wikipedians distinguish so much between the objective and the subjective; the key dichotomy is verifiability vs. not veriability, – that the statements in Wikipedia are supported by reliable sources. In terms of center-edge, I came to think of events associated with conspiracy theories. Here the “center” view could be the conventional view while the conspiracy views the edge. It is difficult for me to accommodate a standpoint that conspiracy theories should be accepted as equal as the conventional view. It is neither clear to me that the center is uncontested and uncontroversial. Wikipedia – like a newspaper – has the ability to represent opposing viewpoints. This is done by attributing the viewpoint to the reliable sources that express them. For instance, central in the description of evaluation of films are quotations from reviews of major newspapers and notable reviewers.

I don’t see the support for the claim that the NPOV policy assumes a “politically dangerous ethical position”. On the contrary, Wikipedia is now – after the increase of fake news – been called the “last bastion”. The example given in The Atlantic post is the recent social media fuzz with respect to Sarah Jeong where Wikipedians reach a work with “shared facts about reality.”


More on automated sentiment analysis of Danish politicians on Wikipedia

Posted on Updated on

Previously today I put up sentiment analysis of Danish politician Ellen Trane Nørby on the text of the Danish Wikipedia.

Unfortunately, I could not resist the temptation of spending a bit of time on also running the analysis for some other Danish Politicians. I did it for Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, former Foreign Minister Lene Espersen and former Minister Ole Sohn.

For Rasmussens article we see a neutral factual bibliographic article until 2008, though with a slight increase in the end of 2007 when he became Minister of Finance. Then in May 2008 we see a drop in sentiment with the introduction of a paragraph mentioning an “issue” related to his use of county funds for private purposes. Since then the article has been extended and now generally positive. There are some spikes in the plots. These spikes are typically vandalism that persist for a few minutes until reverted.

For Helle Thorning-Schmidt we see a gradual drop up towards the election she wins and after that her article gains considerable positivity. I haven’t check up much on this in the history, but I believe it is related to the tax issue her and her husbond, movie star Stephen Kinnock, had and a number of other issues. As I remember there was concern or discussion on the Danish Wikipedia on whether these “issues” should fill up so large a portion of the article and on the 3 December 2011 a user moved the content to another page.

I believe I am one of the major perpetrators behind both the Lene Espersen and Ole Sohn articles. Both of the articles have large sections which describe negative issues (I really must work on my positivity, these politicians are not that bad). However, the sentiment analysis shows the Ole Sohn article as more positive. Maybe this is due to the “controversy” section described that he paid “tribute” to East Germany and that his party received “support” from Moscow, i.e., my simple sentiment analysis does not understand the controversial aspect of support from communist Moscow and just think that “support” is positive.

Writing politicians article on Wikipedia I find it somewhat difficult to identify good positive articles that can be used as sources. The sources used for the encyclopedic articles usually comes from news articles and these have often a negative bias with a focus on “issues” (political problems). Writing the Lene Espersen article I found that even the book “Bare kald mig Lene”, which I have used a source, has a negativity bias. If I remember correctly Espersen did not want to participate in the development of the book, presumably because she already had the notion that the writers would focus on the problematic “issues” in her career.


(2013-01-10: spell correction)

Sentiment analysis of Wikipedia pages on Danish politicians

Posted on Updated on


We are presently analyzing company articles on Wikipedia with simple sentiment analysis to determine how well we see any interesting patterns, e.g., whether the Wikipedia sentiment correlates with real world attitudes and events with relation to the company. Such analyses might uncover that there was a small edit war in relation to Lundbeck articles in the beginning of December 2012. We are also able to see that the Arlas Foods article was affected by the Muhammed Cartoon Crisis and the 2008 Chinese milk scandal.

In Denmark in the beginning of January 2013 there has been media buzz on Danish politicians and their staff doing biased edits in the Danish Wikipedia. The story carried forth by journalist Lars Fogt focused initially on Ellen Trane Nørby.

It is relatively easy to turn our methods employed for companies to Danish politicians. The sentiment analysis works by matching words to a word list labeled with “valence”. The initial word list worked only for English, but I have translated it to Danish and continuously extend it. So now one needs only to download the relevant Wikipedia history for a page and run the text through the sentiment analysis using the computer code I already have developed.

The figure shows the sentiment for Ellen Trane Nørby’s Danish Wikipedia article through time. The largest positive jump in sentiment (the way that I measure it) comes from a user inserting content on 2 March 2011. This revision inserts, e.g., “great international commitment” and “impressive election”. Journalist Lars Fogt identified the user as Ellen Trane Nørby staff.

Surely the simple word list approach does not work well all the time. The second largest positive jump in sentiment arise when a user deletes a part of the article for POV reasons. That part contained negative words such as svag (weak), trafficking and udsatte (exposed). The simple word list detects the deletion of the words as a positive event. However, the context which they appeared in was actually positive, e.g, “… Ellen Trane Nørby is a socially committed politician, who also fights for the weak and exposed in society, …”.

As far as I understand journalist Lars Fogt used the Danish version of the Wikipedia Scanner provided by Peter Brodersen, see the list generated for Ellen Trane Nørby. Brodersen’s tool does not (yet?) provide automated sentiment score, but does a good job in providing an overview of the edit history.

(2013-01-16: typo correction)

Who to vote for in the Danish parliamentary election September 2011

Posted on Updated on


Now is the city lamp post made glorious by the posters of politicians. The state of Denmark is election and politicians have since election announcement two weeks ago put up posters. On central lamp posts we see up to 8 posters on each. They mostly display the candidate name, the party name and portrait of politicians. They hang on top of each other or back to back.

So how are the posters? Who should you vote for if you had nothing else to judge from than the posters. Having a view to posters on the Kongens Nytorv “Square” (it is actually round) at the beginning of the election period I could see many posters. According the the ruling spin doctor credo politician should say as little as possible about their own politics and in good old American election style you should critize the opponent. Well, on the posters there is not much declamation: Conservative (C) Rasmus Jarlow says “lower tax”. (Dang, there, I was hoping for higher housing tax to cover next year huge deficit in the budget of the state). Radical left (which fiscally is the moderate right) Manu Sareen says “take responsibility”.

What about the physical quality of the posters? Can we determine which candidate to vote for based on the quality of the set up.

Lets take the poster in front of the statue of Danish national poet Adam Ø. On top of one post we have Manu Sareen. The poster does not fully cover the poster board. He has two posters back to back. Unfortunate the direction is wrong. Car traffic and cyclist come from one direction and Sareen posters are turned in an unfortunate angle that does not allow cars and cyclist to get a good view of him. The wire strap used to fix the poster board to the lamp post is the same color (black) as his hair and jacket and blends well. The old fashion masonite-like poster board seems a bit old (is it from last election?). We see part of another poster just slighly below his neck. So he is an experience politician? Lærke Helene Becker from the Danish Peoples Party has economically only hung one poster on the poster and it has a clear sense of direction: Directly towards most of the traffic. The top wire strap is the same color as the background, bottom wire strap not. Her poster board and poster are integrated as if the poster is printed on the carbon board. Nice and handy, but will it hold to the Danish rain? She looks young and perhaps unexperienced. Below Becker we have no-portrait SF poster with the name of party leader Villy Søvndal, Socialistic Peoples Party (SF). The poster has been put on top of an older poster. The poster gluing quality is poor with wrinkles. The lower left has slipped off. It got some dirt on it. Almost as if it has been vandalized. We got a URL on this poster. There are two posters back-to-back. It got a better sense of direction than Manu Sareen, almost as good as Becker.

Below SF we have Social Democrat Irkam Sarwar with a URL and a Cary Grant-like photo. The upper wire strap matches his black hair color, while the lower strap unfortunately covers most of party name. This is a two poster back-to-back setup with an excellent sense of direction. The people that have set up the poster has not bothered to use two wire straps for each poster. This means they are not well-tied and I believe it cannot support itself resting on the protuberance of the lamb post. It also means the the stop mechanism of the wire strap is visible on the front of one of the posters. There are some gluing faults. On another lamb post we have on top Villy Søvndal (back-to-back), on the next level Manu Sareen and Rasmus Jarlov. Then below Becker and fourth from the top Ida Auken, SF and at the bottom Ikram. Yet again we see the same problem of the Ikram’s poster. It is not well-tied, slips down and rests on the ground. Ida Auken’s well-directed poster, though it looks as if it really have been tighten hard, is loose and seems to rest on Ikram’s poster. Becker is well-tied again. Jarlov’s has the complete wrong sense of direction opposite traffic, and the people hanging up the poster has the fixing mechanism on the front side of the poster. Also for Manu Sareen on this lamp post the wire strap fixing mechanism is on the front, but the people have had a plier with them shortened the unused part of the strap. Further along Kongens Nytorv we have another lamp post were it has gone completely wrong. The Villy Søvndal poster has crashed (vandalism?) and taken Per Stig Møller with him as well as covered Jarlov. The only one left is Ikram, again standing on the ground and towering Becker on the top. On a fourth lamp post we see that the only reason the Lotte Wassini poster hangs is due to her straps are actually hanging on the straps of the Villy Søvndal poster. Ikram again is standing on the ground.

The holes in Beckers poster board are well-positioned with respect the diameter of the lamb post. Manu Sareen’s are too narrow, SF and the Social Democrates too far. Judging from these posters the vote should go to Lærke Helene Becker who has a clean sense of direction, holes well-positioned and the board well-tied to support itself.

If we go to the Copenhagen suburb Lyngby we also see many posters. Most of the boards on the Lyngby main street are the integrated Becker-type boards, and generally they are better set up than the Copenhagen ones. It may be because the Copenhagen posters have been exposed to vandalism (we do not engage in vandalism in Lyngby), or it may be that Lyngby politicians are more careful and better skilled. The Lyngby boards have all a clear sense of direction and fairly well-tied, but if we look closer there are some differentiations. Boards by Jakob Engel-Schmidt from Venstre have wire strap holes positioned well in comparison with the diameter of the lamb post. This is not the case with Morten Normann, SF nor Charlotte Dyremose, C. The white background of Jakob Engel-Schmidt’s poster also matches the white wire strap and it does not cover the name. The color match and the separation from material on the posters are not on this level for the other politicians, e.g., Normann’s bottom black wire strap makes it look like part of his name is underlined.

Common for almost all the poster boards of the politicians is that the wire strap is not cut. The people who have setup the poster have simply not bothered to take a plier and shortened the strap. One attempted exception is Jakob Engel-Schmidt, where his surplus part of a few of his
wire straps have been twisted so as not to stick out in the open air. It is interesting to compare the politicians’ poster setup with professional setup. Above Charlotte Dyremose’s poster we have a poster from a circus, Cirkus Dannebrog, announcing shows. These professional circus posters are
well-tied, the wire strap holes supported by metal ri
ngs, the back-to-back posters are tied together with multiple straps, the wire straps are well-shortened, the color of straps matches the background of poster. The only issue is that the poster does not have two holes for each central wire strap which means that the poster is slightly slanting. But on all other accounts we see a quality setup. Compare that with Charlotte Dyremose’s poster (see the photos): wire strap holes too far from each other, the color not quite matched, a unnecessary sticker on the front page (probably the contact details for the person that has setup the poster), the sticker slanted, the wire strap not shortened and only a single board posters, – not back-to-back. When I later came by the Dyremose and the circus posters I saw that Dyremose had sunken and turned in the wrong direction.

In conclusion, given no other information, don’t vote Irkam Sarwar, avoid Charlotte Dyremose, vote for Jakob Engel-Schmidt or alternatively Lærke Helene Becker. That is, if you cannot find Cirkus Dannebrog on the voting list.


(Correction 2011-11-17: removed the word “not” from “…politician should not say as little as possible…”)

Jelling stones graffiti

Posted on

Danish UNESCO World Heritage Site runic stones in Jelling have been vandalised with graffiti between Friday the 11th and Saturday the 12th February 2011. The police have stated that they are without clue of who did it. The word “GELWANE” (or “GELWAN E“) is written in darkgreen on the stone(s) and apparently also on other objects. So what does tell us? Boris, one of my Facebook friends friends, with Sherlock Holmes-like capabilities for graffiti interpretation notes the sloppiness and capital letters of the badly executed spraying and concludes that we here are not dealing with an experienced graffiti-painter. So who then?

Searching Wikipedia for “Gelwane” gets you nothing. Neither does a search on “Gelwane” or “Gelwan” with De Gule Sider reveal anything.

Here are some guesses on who did it:

  • Endocrine system researchers annoyed by lack of research funding?
  • Or are we dealing with marijuana researchers?
  • Jelling turist office people noting how much extra publicity The Little Mermaid is getting each time her head it sawn off?
  • One comment on the Uriasposten (a blog that usually not think well of muslims) pointed to a character called Gelwan in the game Final Fantasy Tactics. Indeed if we search English Wikipedia we get two hits: Treaty of Königsberg (1390) and Characters of Final Fantasy Tactics (“One of Goltanna’s liegemen, Minister Gelwan, sought to switch to Larg’s camp; through Gelwan, Dycedarg arranges for men disguised in Southern Sky livery to kidnap and kill Ovelia.”). According to Wikipedia the game is for Sony PlayStation. A variant seems to have been made for Nintendo DS and a newer version for the Sony PlayStation Portable. So we might be dealing with a fairly young guy from Jelling, not good at spelling, inexperienced in graffiti and in the possession of a PlayStation Portable (or related apparatus) and the Final Fantasy Tactic game with nothing else to do on a Friday evening. His parents may look forward to a big bill for damages.

The revenge of NemID: Try again later

Posted on Updated on


So a few days ago I wrote (again) about the Danish nation-wide authentication system NemID and the problems associated with it. Perhaps in a bit too sarcastic tone.

I have just enabled the NemID for my Internet banking account. I find it a bit more convenient than the login system I used before. However, just after I had enabled it I wanted to login again and see if it worked again, — and it didn’t! I received the following error:

Der er opstået en teknisk fejl. Prøv igen senere. (Fejlkode: 999)

(Translation: A technical error has occured. Try again later. (Error code: 999)

999 is not one of those numbers I am familiar with… So I emailed the hotline of the bank, which returned an answer the next day suggesting I should try another operating system…

In the meantime media reported that is was yet another error of the NemID system. Other media reported later that it was an error in one of the two redundant servers. Oh that one.

So if the company behind NemID cannot keep the system running does that give an indication of their ability to handle the security of the system? Should we be worried that all our money on our banking account suddenly disappear due to cracking of the NemID system?

According to Palle H. Sørensen from the IT & Communication Agency we shouldn’t be worried: There is independent and critical revision of the system. This is taken care of through so-called OCES certificat policies. So what is this OCES? I google a bit. The first significant information I could find was from DanID, that is the company behind NemID. eeeh? Ok, so a bit later I found information at the agency.

If you go to the agency main web site you will find that it is presently experiencing technical problems (see screenshot). (Apparently the web server runs the Debian Lenny system. I had my problems with that too.) The error message suggest one should try again later. Now I get this try-again-later-deja-vu feeling.

So is there a pattern behind all these NemID problems? When I tweeted about the 999-problem Ole Palnatoke suggested I turned the screen around… ;-) Palle H. Sørensen’s newspaper article about OCES was printed next to an advertisement where the three last digits in a printed phone number was 656. They are getting close…

DifficultID: Continuing troubles for NemID

Posted on

Introduced a few months ago our Danish national authentication system the Nets DanID’s “NemID” (easy ID) continues to bring new stories. Sometime in October it reached one million users. That’s around a fifth of the Danish population.

The crucial system continues to be discussed quite a lot, and nerds welcome each new crash and trouble with joyful schadenfreude.

Since I first wrote of NemID there as been new crashes, security issues and domain name/trademark issues:

Assemble A/S based in Hellerup Denmark applies 24 january 2010 for registration of a trademark: nemID. In the remarks it says “NemID has been used as address and identification of citizens (unique identifiers) in the system NemPost since 2006” (page 3). The company also owns the domain
DanID uses for their NemID.

Searching on Internet Archive I find no results returned for either nor

Whois reports a registration on 28 May 2007 for Assemble A/S is recorded as the owner. My whois on is not clear but replies “Record created on 2008-Nov-12”.

Nets DanID has also registered NemID (nemID) as a trademark. They have done that before Assemble and protested against Assemble’s trademark registration of nemID. So what will happen with ‘NemID’. It seems that Assemble has used it somewhat before Nets DanID, so there might be some priority.

The .nu domain is handled by the Niue island nation. It would seem strange that a site that is endosed so much by the government of Denmark chooses to rely on a foreign country on the other side of the planet. Libyan ly-domains have run into problems and the domain has been closed as Libya didn’t like the pornography linked from this URL-shortener service Dorte Toft says. Could Niue close Danish nation-wide authentication?

The company Nets DanID has run into further problems with the domain They want it! Sten Axelsen who writes his first name backwards in the domain owns it. Poor Sten has had a great deal of stress since the lawyers of Nets DanID have attacked him. PBSNets, a fake Twitter account, has written funny tweets about the case.

Letters with first time access code and letters with the ‘papkort’ with the one-time pad are not suppose to be send on the same day. Two times DanID has not done that and had to block the account for several thousand people.

In October a 15 year old boy received NemID even though he had not requested one, and he dit not have an internet banking account (which would have meant that he got NemID automatically). Neither the Bank nor DanID seem to know why the boy had received NemID. It turned out the Internet banking solution provider for the Bank, Skandinavisk Datacenter, had send the information to DanID.

You can download a iPhone application that can store images encrypted on the iPhone. The developer Daniel Bahl has called the application GemID and the reason why he developed it was that he was “unbelievably tired” of the NemID papkort. This is of course unsafe, and DanID says it is really a no-no. Bahl says that he has plenty colleagues and friends that store an image of the papkort unencrypted on their mobil. That it is so easy to copy the card is a weakness of NemID.

European Union pilot project Secure idenTity acrOss boRders linKed (STORK) attempts to see if digital signatures can be used across European nations.
NemID is not part of that.

And now for a couple of crashes and other troubles:

  1. An afternoon in late September users could not login due to a server error.
  2. 21. October 2010 NemID had a several hours long breakdown. DanID did not want to reveal the details of why it happen. It is unfortunately that such systems of national importance can be “hidden” in private companies where the scrutiny of democratic institutions cannot get to them.
  3. On 28. October 2010 a Java error caused Danish banking tied to NemID to get into troubles.
  4. In the last weekend of October there were besides the Java problem, a login problem as well as a two-hour breakdown

Poor NemID… And now Charlotte, Minister of Science, is also angry, — well at least not satisfied.