Wikinews:Water cooler/miscellaneous/archives/2011/April

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A Wikinews think tank.

Hello! I'd like to publicise a new idea that several Wikinewsies have worked upon. Basically, once every couple of weeks there will be a meeting held in an IRC channel based loosely on the Wikimedia Offfice's "office hours". The "meeting" or "think tank" would be open to everyone. We would have a prepared list of topics on the agenda to discuss, regarding improvements and long-term goals. People can make suggestions and ask questions (but off-topic comments will be discouraged). Logs from the meeting would be published on-wiki. The goal is to combine the openness of the wiki with the convenience of real-time conversation. Ideally, this meeting would be held once every few weeks at a prearranged time.


  • Meetings will be held in a dedicated channel called #wikinews-workshop. The trial run is scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday), at 21.00 to 23.00 UTC. This is the time that most Wikinewsies are available. Security/mod access will be granted to a few trusted users to make sure things run smoothly throughout.

Please try to publicise this meeting as much as possible cross-wiki. I'd like to have new users and Wikimedians present so they can ask about how things work and provide fresh ideas for moving forward. Involving people not involved in the project's inner workings can provide fresh insight and perspective.

Thanks. -Tempodivalse [talk] 22:51, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

Also, a list of suggested topics for the trial run meeting's agenda:
  • Why the burn-out rate is so high on Wikinews
  • Making the site more approachable by newbies
  • Altering the peer-review requirement to make it less strict
Feel free to suggest more ideas. Tempodivalse [talk] 22:53, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
by the way, this is happening now. Bawolff 21:16, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Here's the webchat link, for those without IRC access. —Mikemoral♪♫ 23:44, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment - Having a think-tank is a good idea. Having discussions in general is a sound proposal. However I am not sure what is to be gained from "abolishing the peer-review requirement", as opposed to simply first trying to discuss modifying it in some way. -- Cirt (talk) 14:35, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
    Hm, that wasn't phrased quite the way I intended. There are proposals to remove the requirement for articles to be peer-reviewed, although the peer-review system would still remain for articles needing to be published to Google News. Now clarified. (Do we need a separate agenda page?) Tempodivalse [talk] 14:45, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
    Any modification to the peer review process, especially "abolishing" peer review for a great many articles in the process, would endanger the likelihood of any articles in the future being published to Google News, not to mention degrading the quality of the entire review process, itself. -- Cirt (talk) 15:49, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
    Where have you been these past weeks? ;) This proposal has been thrown all over the place and has gained a good deal of acceptance. If you'd like to make your voice heard I suggest you post a comment to Template talk:Main stories#Workflow(s). Or, even better, join the think tank this evening and provide thoughts. Tempodivalse [talk] 15:55, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
    I have been busy with significant things IRL. This proposal to do away with peer review in this fashion seems very drastic and a severe step backwards in quality for this site. -- Cirt (talk) 18:22, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
    I did point out there is no apparent way for the two workflows to coexist —the unreviewed flow will annihilate the idealized— and asked for a reason that wouldn't happen. Was told maybe it would happen, which seems to suggest the answerer considered that acceptable. For a time I continued pursuing prospects for mitigating the problem, but by now I'm pretty much convinced there's no mitigating alternative after all. --Pi zero (talk) 04:48, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
    Pi zero is right, the unreviewed flow will dominate the review flow, and reviewed work will be subsumed to it, effectively doing away with the entire review process. :( -- Cirt (talk) 16:05, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
    So what would you propose? I agree that the proposal will make it unlikely anything will get reviewed - but the status quo isn't ideal either, and makes it harder for us to expand and keep up with the MSM on timeliness. There doesn't seem to be a real via media. (BTW, I'll highlight this issue on the agenda for the think-tank/workshop next week. Last meeting didn't resolve the issue completely.) Tempodivalse [talk] 21:43, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
What did go on during that "think tank"? (Wasn't there some talk of providing information on-wiki about what had gone on, as a matter of openness? I'm made uncomfortable by the phrasing "Last meeting didn't resolve the issue completely." Makes it sound rather cabal-like.) --Pi zero (talk) 11:33, 3 April 2011 (UTC)
What I assume is intended to eventually be central should this remain regularly is at Wikinews:IRC workshop, it includes a link to the log. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 13:49, 3 April 2011 (UTC)
It's not a cabal. :-) If you look at the link above you'll find a link to last meeting's logs. What I meant was, there was no clear answer to the review problem last time, actually more questions arose, so it's a wide-open topic. (BTW, feel free to discuss comments and ideas from the log on-wiki. The whole idea is to integrate IRC and wiki for the most efficient brainstorming.) Tempodivalse [talk] 14:58, 3 April 2011 (UTC)

Well, I was only noting that it sounded a bit like a cabal. Of course, There Is No Cabal.

Here are a few miscellaneous thoughts I jotted down, just now, while attempting(!) to read through the log.

  • Imho many newbies are massively invested in individual articles (especially their first), which can magnify failure to publish into a huge thing — especially unfortunate, since problems that bad are most likely with newbies. To experienced Wikinewsies, articles are a commodity, and losing one though annoying isn't earth-shattering.
  • The fact that reviewers need to remain independent of an article means that, when they see a really serious problem, they're apt not to fix it even if they see how to. Making things that much harder for newbies who don't already know how to fix it themselves.
  • Folks from other wikis come to WN, I think, often having heard rumors that WN is full of corrupt mean power-mongers, though they don't necessarily believe it. Then there's something that sometimes happens, that looks different to (say) Wikipedians than it does to Wikinewsies, that causes them to decide the stereotype is true after all.
  • With all the blame that gets heaped on reviewer for creating tension (which isn't really fair: reviewer is just "the messenger" (as in, "don't kill the") for the inherently tense effort to produce high-quality news on a deadline), I think it's sometimes overlooked that reviewer also prevents most edit wars, by making it possible to get a second opinion on the edits that count, so that edit disagreements don't become one-on-one.

--Pi zero (talk) 15:39, 3 April 2011 (UTC)

Treasury reveals cost of carbon tax on Australian families

Made a bit of a mess on this one. It contained way too many sources, and I was able to verify it without looking at all of them. However, when I removed sources I trimmed out the wrong ones. The correct sources are now in place and at no point was unverified info on there, but still. Whoops. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 17:14, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

Singular "they"

Should we be using singular "they" in our articles? Although it's almost universal in spoken English, at the formal levels its use is somewhat controversial. After observing the practises of several other news sites, it appears many of them prefer to avoid use of a pronoun at all or employ "he or she" (*cringe*). So is there a set practise at Wikinews? WN:SG doesn't appear to cover this issue. Tempodivalse [talk] 02:44, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

Some examples of singular they are awkward, just as some sentences ending with prepositions are awkward. Neither practice is inherently wrong, however. --Pi zero (talk) 12:59, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
Indeed. But shouldn't a mention be made in the style guide? It does seem to be somewhat important. Most style manuals I've seen give instructions for correct gender-neutral pronoun use. Tempodivalse [talk] 15:33, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
If we can come up with a well-crafted proposal for implementing such a thing —where and with what wording to make such provision in the SG— I would be willing to support it. Obviously we have no interest in touching off any holy wars about it (in any direction), and that's one of the things a well-crafted proposal should avoid. --Pi zero (talk) 16:36, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
Singular they *is* wrong in formal writing.
However, it is generally more acceptable in UK writing (Fowler's Modern English Usage.) The usual response from copyeditors is also known as the Chicago rule (Chicago Manual of Style): rewrite to avoid the problem. - Amgine | t 03:10, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
  • I can think of another "Chicago solution". :P --Brian McNeil / talk 10:08, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

@ENWNStyleGuide on twitter

I am just curious as to who was in charge of operating the @ENWNStyleGuide on twitter:!/ENWNStyleGuide DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 18:40, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

  • "in charge of"? LOL! It was a response to @FakeAPStyleGuide. --Brian McNeil / talk 07:20, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
I am just wondering who the one is that operates the account. No particular reason...I was just curious. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 14:00, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

Woo! Review queue cleared

*highfives everyone who helped clear the review queue today*

Cheers everyone:). Gopher65talk 00:49, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

Yeah, thanks for helping out! 14 articles waiting for review, two of them breaking, is a bit embarrassing, but glad we got it cleared. Unfortunately I failed quite a few for staleness. Let's see if we can keep it down below five. I'm prepared to award barnstars to people who have really worked on reviewing - why haven't we been giving them out to each other lately? It's such an encouragement. Tempodivalse [talk] 01:08, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
I'm going to do my best to make sure it stays under five next time. :) --Nascar1996 (talkcontribs) 01:10, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
I'll act as the unwelcome pessimist in this, and point out (as I tried clumsily to do on IRC earlier) that there is danger in awarding barnstars for peer review. We've historically tried not to push people to do reviews, as carelessness in review causes very bad things to happen (to the whole project, actually). Also, when mistakes are made in review —of some size or other, sooner or later— it may make things significantly more awkward if the reviewer got a barnstar for the work. --Pi zero (talk) 01:42, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
We shouldn't award barnstars to people because that could make them get careless? I'm not sure I agree with that sentiment, although I can see your position. When I was awarded barnstars, I felt glad someone had noticed my work and appreciated it. It actually made me want to work harder and better, not more sloppily. (Maybe others would react differently, this is just a personal anecdote.) At least give a warm thanks to any user who shows some enthusiasm, if you're opposed to barnstars. That can *really* delay burnout. Tempodivalse [talk] 01:49, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
Note, my above comment doesn't say barnstars should never be awarded for review work. It says there's danger, and goes on to describe, in the fine tradition of pessimism, What Can Go Wrong. --Pi zero (talk) 02:01, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
Having received a big bunch over at the other place, I don't think they make one bit of difference. A personal "thank you" from an editor means more. Just my opinion. (And also having personal pride that you are contributing to a project.) Mattisse (talk) 02:12, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

For those who belong to [[Category:Wikinewsies with alternate accounts]]

Just to let you know, should you wish to make use of it, I've snaffled a template from "the other place" (lol), and adapted it for use here to add people to the above category. It clearly marks your alternates as an alternate, and allows you to specify a reason for having an alternate account should you wish to do so. If you wish to use it, it's at {{Doppelganger}} - the documentation is there with it, and you can see an example of it at User:MobileFish, my alternate for smartphone editing. BarkingFish (talk) 00:45, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

Interview from FRWN

FRWN have done an interview in English. We could quite easily/readily import this for our own use. (Many thanks to the fr.Wikinewsie who brought this to my attention.) See Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 18:50, 25 April 2011 (UTC)

We started a translation. The English version now can be found here. Cheers, Savant-fou (talk) 09:04, 27 April 2011 (UTC)

Press pass, England and Switzerland in Wembley Stadium, on 4th of June

One of your friendly OTRS respondents handling emails to the Wikinews email address here. User:Ludo29, a former member of the board of Wikimedia CH, contacted Wikimedia UK, who bumped the email to Wikinews, regarding the possibility of obtaining press passes for the football game between England and Switzerland in Wembley Stadium, on 4th of June. They are looking for one or two photographers based in England. Wikimedia Switzerland has done this before. See w:Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2011-02-14/Accreditation. If you are interested, have questions, or are available, please contact that user (or me and I'll put him in touch with you). The deadline is May 2nd to respond. (Wouldn't have been so close but the email was sat on until today). -- Adrignola (talk) 00:58, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

  • I have, in the past, assisted people in gaining entry to events. (I also used to handle the wikinews OTRS queue, and this would not have languished as long under my stewardship). Tell Ludo29 to drop me an email about this; I've no idea who we might can get to do the photography - that'd be one for Wikimedia UK if no London-area 'newsies pipe up. However, if I lend my social engineering skills to getting accreditation, I want it to be for publication of material on Wikinews. --Brian McNeil / talk 12:40, 28 April 2011 (UTC)
    Sent an email to Ludo29. Adrignola (talk) 13:31, 29 April 2011 (UTC)

Eco's interview

This is old, but I see you don't have it here: . Regards. --Aubrey (talk) 11:06, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

  • Sorry to say this, but if it's old, it's no longer news. --Brian McNeil / talk 12:36, 28 April 2011 (UTC)
I don't really mind, but just to be clear: this was a year old interview made by me for the Italian Wikinews. It was translated in English (and French and Polish) but it remained in the Italian Wikinews. I just wanted to add it here, but if you don't want, it's OK anyway :-). --Aubrey (talk) 07:26, 29 April 2011 (UTC)
  • Well, if we'd got the translation at the time we would've been happy to publish it. --Brian McNeil / talk 13:34, 29 April 2011 (UTC)

Please review this article or it will go stale! - worse storm in US and more deaths than over 40 years!

Deadly tornadoes rip through southern US, killing close to 300. Please, please someone review! Thanks, Mattisse (talk) 14:11, 29 April 2011 (UTC)