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How Baidu Baike has faced off against Wikipedia to build the world’s largest online Chinese encyclopaedia

Jiang Ting isn’t your common Ok-pop fan from China. The 35-year-old from Interior Mongolia has turned her detailed data of Korean pop stars into precise entries on the earth’s greatest Chinese language encyclopaedia and earned prizes for it.

Again in 2013, Jiang was loopy about 2PM, a South Korean Ok-pop group. After getting uninterested in repeatedly regaling new followers of 2PM with background particulars on band members and stay performances, Jiang determined to jot down an article on Baidu Baike, run by Chinese language search engine large Baidu.

From this modest starting, Jiang has now edited greater than 30,000 entries on Baidu Baike, with over 1,400 tagged as “top quality”, masking a variety of pop idols managed by 2PM’s company JYP Leisure and others. For this she has acquired wealth factors which she will redeem for prizes on Baike Mall, together with objects like Apple’s new iPhone 11.

“I do not actually like hanging out with mates. My life is just divided between work and residential,” Jiang mentioned, “If I’m not modifying [entries] on Baidu Baike, I’m binge-watching TV exhibits, which prices. So I’d fairly edit on Baike.”

Because the workforce chief of Baidu Baike’s popular culture class, she spends three to 4 hours on daily basis on common on the platform regardless of working full-time as a graphic designer in a property firm.

Launched in 2006, Baidu Baike now has over 16 million entries written by greater than 6.9 million customers as of October 2019.

The Baike Elite Workforce is comprised of about 340 core contributors. The workforce is straight led and managed by Baidu, serving as a bridge between widespread customers and the corporate.

To get extra folks concerned, Baidu Baike has totally different incentive schemes. Customers can earn each expertise factors and wealth factors for his or her modifying. Wealth factors can be utilized to redeem prizes whereas expertise factors improve your account.

Prizes in Baike Mall vary from snacks, books and stationery all the way in which as much as residence home equipment and electronics resembling smartphones. The iPhone 11 Professional Max 256G prices about 10,900 yuan (RM6,450) on the mainland, and 666,000 wealth factors on the Mall, which suggests about 61 wealth factors equal one yuan.

Elite-team member Jiang has earned about 2.5 million wealth factors on Baidu Baike in whole, value about 41,000 yuan.

“My vary hood, washer and fridge had been all redeemed on Baike Mall. I exploit the wealth factors for a lot of residence home equipment, even kitchen knives,” mentioned Jiang. “My mother is actually comfortable. She is like ‘there isn’t any shampoo at residence, get some shampoo [from Baike Mall]’ or ‘The ironing machine is damaged. I desire a new one’.”

Baidu Baike has different methods of getting folks concerned although.

For instance, it has created a rating for pop stars the place followers can vote for his or her favorite artiste. Customers additionally get three free digital flowers every day they log in and can even change wealth factors for flowers. These may be despatched to their idols, which helps to maneuver them up rating charts on Baidu Baike.

There are three essential consumer teams on Baidu Baike. One is the Baike Elite Workforce, the second are the campus ambassadors, made up of scholars, and the third is the skilled workforce [with over 2,000 members], which incorporates college professors.

Screen capture of an early entry for Zhao Ziyang on Baidu Baike. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Other than Baidu Baike, different Chinese language Web corporations have additionally arrange their very own Baike (which suggests encyclopaedia in Chinese language) merchandise.

These embrace Sougou Baike backed by Chinese language gaming large Tencent Holdings, Hudong Baike beneath tech unicorn ByteDance and 360Baike run by China’s greatest web safety supplier, Qihoo 360.

Outdoors China’s Nice Firewall, there’s additionally ‘Wikipedia Chinese language’ beneath American non-profit and charitable organisation Wikimedia Basis.

Yan Enming, a 19-year-old veteran Wikipedian, is without doubt one of the a whole lot of writers and editors behind these encyclopaedia entries.

On a cold October morning in Beijing’s Haidian district, the place a few of the nation’s greatest universities are positioned, he and dozens of different younger Wikipedians gathered at a small cafe contained in the Nationwide Library of China to debate the most recent tendencies and ideas for modifying entries.

Born in northeast China’s Liaoning province, Yan is a pc science pupil at Ohio State College within the US though he first turned conscious of Wikipedia in his first 12 months of secondary faculty in 2012. Now he spends about one to 2 hours on daily basis on the platform and has remodeled 25,000 edits to date.

“On Baidu Baike, you may earn wealth factors to redeem for cooking oil or a brand new wash basin. However we get nothing [from Wikipedia]. We do that … to generate energy with love,” Yan mentioned, including that he was stunned that so many individuals got here to the gathering as they had been from totally different provinces and everybody wanted to pay their very own approach to get there.

The occasion was like a tutorial with laughter, with extra skilled Wikipedians passing on their data to new starters. Yan informed his favorite story about visiting a small village in his residence metropolis, simply to get an image for his swine fever entry on Wikipedia Chinese language.

Though encyclopaedias have chronicled human exercise and studying for generations, fast technological growth lately has dramatically modified how folks entry info and educate themselves.

Nevertheless, the transition from arduous format encyclopaedias, such because the Encyclopaedia Britannica [which switched to digital versions in 2010 after almost 240 years] written by hundreds of skilled contributors, together with greater than 100 Nobel Laureates, to open-source encyclopaedias has raised quality-of-information points.

“Crowdsourcing is useful, however as with all sources, one ought to use an internet encyclopaedia with care,” mentioned Denise Ho, assistant professor of historical past at Yale College.

A gathering of an early set of Hong Kong Wikipedian writers. Photo: SCMP

Ho mentioned the important thing power of an internet encyclopaedia is that it’s extra ceaselessly up to date than printed ones, which wrestle to make revisions to maintain up with present occasions. Ho mentioned she has used Baidu Baike to lookup the biographies of some folks – however as a place to begin solely and all the time cross-checked in opposition to different reference materials.

In reality, regardless that it’s billed because the world’s largest Chinese language encyclopaedia, Baidu Baike doesn’t have all the pieces on it.

Some entries that may be simply discovered on Wikipedia Chinese language don’t even exist on Baidu Baike, significantly entries on delicate matters in China.

Not one of the following may be discovered on Baidu Baike – Hong Kong’s Occupy Central, a large-scale present of civil disobedience that started in Hong Kong on Sept 28, 2014 aimed toward making the financial construction and energy relations in society extra truthful, Hong Kong’s ongoing anti-extradition invoice protests, the 1989 Tiananmen Sq. protests and Chinese language dissident artist Ai Weiwei.

A spokesman for Baidu Baike declined to touch upon the absence of delicate materials.

In idea, everybody can edit entries on Baike at no cost. There are two major methods of doing this.

One is to click on the edit button on the web page of the entry that you simply need to replace and the opposite methodology is to go to the corporate’s process project platform to take up edit duties listed by the corporate.

Earlier than publication, all entries on Baidu Baike have to undergo a content material evaluate system, which is able to filter out content material that the corporate thinks is inappropriate, together with “reactionary content material” resembling malicious remarks that provoke nationwide, racial and non secular disputes and promotion of superstitious actions and cults.

Industrial advertisements, pornography, violence and unlawful content material associated to fraud and the promotion of playing are additionally banned.

Other than the content material evaluate system, there are additionally Baidu workers and process evaluate teams fashioned by core members of the Baike Elite Workforce to manually evaluate some entries.

The evaluate course of has upset some folks although, resembling Lu Jianghao, a junior pupil at Shijiazhuang Tiedao College in north China’s Hebei province. The 19-year-old began to edit entries on Wikipedia Chinese language and Baidu Baike in 2017 however gave up on the latter due to the evaluate system.

Serious about images, Lu created a brand new entry for the Nikon D850, a digital single-lens reflex digicam, early final 12 months on each Baidu Baike and Wikipedia Chinese language. He waited for over 15 days earlier than Baidu Baike rejected the entry saying that there was not sufficient reference materials whereas Wikipedia Chinese language revealed the identical one instantly.

“The operation course of at Wikipedia is clear – you may see why entries are revealed or deleted. At Baidu, the [review] course of is in a ‘black field’,” Lu mentioned.

Wikipedia Chinese language, blocked by China’s Nice Firewall, doesn’t have a content material evaluate system like Baidu Baike although. The most recent model of entries is robotically revealed after submission. Skilled Wikipedians then volunteer to evaluate the adjustments as content material patrollers later.

Directors at Wikipedia Chinese language are additionally chosen by way of elections versus being appointed by the Wikimedia Basis. For a Wikipedian to turn into an administrator, she or he must obtain no less than 80 per cent of votes in favour. In distinction, turning into a member of the Baike Elite Workforce wants approval from Baidu.

Lu appeared fairly introverted and quiet and but when requested about his life as a Wikipedia editor he turned very animated. “Wikipedia Chinese language let me see a bit of little bit of utopia in my difficult and repetitive day by day life,” Lu mentioned.

Baidu Baike has additionally been criticised by some for not attending to copyright issues. Wikipedia Chinese language even compiled an inventory of the entries the place it alleged that content material had been copied from its platform.

25-year-old John Zhang edited his first entry on Baike in 2006, quickly after the platform was launched. He later turned a member of the Baike Elite Workforce as an undergraduate pupil.

“At the moment, Baidu Baike had some critical issues with copyright safety,” Zhang mentioned, who stop the platform in 2015 after discovering examples of what he mentioned was plagiarism. “Some folks copied what I wrote on Wikipedia Chinese language to Baike to earn wealth factors.”

He complained to Baike however Zhang says the corporate dismissed his issues.

Zhang is now an admin at Wikipedia Chinese language. Since registering on the platform in January 2013, he has created 88 new entries on Wikipedia Chinese language and made greater than 13,000 edits.

Baidu Baike is making an attempt to unravel these issues, and it has launched blockchain know-how to the platform since early final 12 months, in accordance with a Baidu Blockchain white paper revealed final September.

The corporate mentioned it now places all accepted variations of a single entry in chronological order and retains the modifying historical past on report.

Prior to now, folks may hack the corporate and alter the entry and related data as a result of the data was stored on Baidu’s servers. Now with the assistance of blockchain, there’s a distributed database that each participant of the system shares and might synchronise info with. This has enhanced the credibility and high quality of the entries, in accordance with the white paper.

Sooner or later, Baidu Baike hopes to attach with blockchains in several industries and to make use of synthetic intelligence to straight convert credible knowledge into entries – taking encyclopaedias even additional into the long run. – South China Morning Put up

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