Wikinews:Water cooler/proposals

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Following some recent discussion on irc, I've attempted an upgrade of template {{tasks}}. The problem is that newcomers apparently fail to realize the collaboration page is there at all. Experienced Wikinewsies don't, I think, even read the list of items on the tasks notice, they just go directly to the review template; but lately I've observed distinctly better results from leaving a note on the author's user talk page with a pointer to the review comments, and I don't think that's all because of the "personal touch" (though the personal touch is good too).

As I've got it atm, the template produces the usual message if there isn't a re-review flag amongst the parameters; if there is such a flag, it produces

If we really want it to produce a visible list based on the other flags, it could. --17:53, 12 October 2014 (UTC)


I know this has been proposed in the past (above, even)...but I strongly wish to bring it back up. I think, for a "contest" or maybe a "promotional event" or the-like, we really need to take a run at doing/allowing some 'shorts'. I think a contest would be awesome! I'm not proposing a major policy shift, this would be short-term only. A few four-sentence articles might serve to spark outside reporting interest (and God knows, we could use some around here). Thoughts? Ideas? --Bddpaux (talk) 14:59, 27 October 2014 (UTC)

@Bddpaux: I think it's a fine idea. If it gives this place a shot in the arm, that can't be a bad thing. —Justin (koavf)TCM 16:15, 27 October 2014 (UTC)
  • Sorry, I've come to believe shorts are a complete and utter waste of time.
The concept originates in pSpecial:ListFiles/Brian_McNeil&ilshowall=1rint, and is used where lack of available column inches forces stories to be trimmed back to just the lede. We do not have that restriction. By the time you've collected enough information, from more than one source, to write a lede? A couple of additional paragraphs should be trivial to add. --Brian McNeil / talk 13:27, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
The above comes across poorly, and I've buried the positives. It might be better-put as:
"When you get the lede, a couple extra paragraphs should practically roll out."
How can people convince themselves the lede is not that intimidating? It's storytelling. I've managed to wrap myself up in photography for the past few months, but in doing the Train the Trainers workshop, I've been pushed back to the "storytelling" angle and many of my older notions of what makes a good news story. I related the "We don't use ref[1] shortcuts to let you run off to the sources, and the lede is what 'sells' the rest of the story"; having a fairly receptive audience, both points were well-taken.
One point stressed throughout the course was serving up criticism wrapped in positives, and we probably need to look at that as a method of serving up review critiques constructively. --Brian McNeil / talk 08:42, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

"What is Wikinews?"[edit]

I've just spent the last two days on a Wikimedia UK Train the Trainers course here in Edinburgh.

Part of the course involved creating a short (half-hour) section from/for a training module. Whilst the "What is Wikinews?" module my group ended up creating was just a course exercise, it is to be reworked into a proper module available for WM-UK, and other chapters, to use. Longer-term the goal would be to have a set of modules taking a class through not having touched Wikinews, to having created an article and submitted it for review.

Train the Trainers followed on from the EduWiki conference held on Friday in Edinburgh University's St. Leonard's Hall; the two events complemented each-other particularly well. We'd a faculty member from Stirling University's Film and Media Studies department who expressed interest in what educational opportunities Wikinews might present to them; peer review came up several times during the EduWiki conference — mainly explaining Wikipedia's Good and Featured articles, but — giving an opportunity to discuss our review process on the conference sidelines. Other good news from EduWiki — at least in the UK — is they're looking to push down out of Higher Education into Secondary (High School); and, that last point reminded me that many of our really good past (lapsed?) contributors started in their latter years at school.

I'm particularly curious to know what other Wikinewsies would expect the follow-on modules for a day-long Wikinews training session should/could be. Assume a class/group size between 12 and 20, the modules for a day-long course would be around an hour in length, the objectives from the first (What is Wikinews?) would be imparting a feel for the editor-reviewer collaboration process; and, the class — in groups of three or four — picking a story and drafting a lede from their selected sources. By end of day, a good outcome being three or four articles submitted for review.

Later this month there is another WM-UK event in Birmingham, which should lead to some longer-term stategic goals for the chapter. I'd really like to see the option to run a Wikinews course, alongside absolutely any WM-UK event, as a defined step towards increasing participation here going on that list of goals. --Brian McNeil / talk 13:43, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

I would expect that brief a brief course on how to write for Wikinews would involve a brief (or thorough, time permitting) overview of the writing process, i.e., editor gathers sources, synthesizes those sources into an article, then submits for review. That is obviously the basic gist of what any course should probably discuss and perhaps teaching about what sort of content an article is expected to have. Teaching how to write a good lede is probably among the most important topics to cover. It should be emphasized what's expected of a Wikinews article and what a reviewer would be looking for in an article. Going through the process slowly (but not so slowly as to be boring), might be useful. Writing an article for Wikinews for the first time can be a daunting task, especially when your first article fails its review. Touting the style guide "book" I've typeset a bit, students, I find, are are accustomed to reading materials in the book format, so perhaps that might come in handy.
Certainly I think we'd all like to see increased participation here on Wikinews and if WM-UK courses could help bring interest in the project that will help. Out of curiosity, where would these courses be taught at and who would teach them? —Mikemoral♪♫ 06:07, 5 November 2014 (UTC)
  • It's something I'd hope to see piggy-backed on any WM-UK events and, for the time being, I'm the only 'newsie whose been through the course. I'd be keen to see Tom Morris given a chance to do the course, because training really needs two people managing a class. As the course demonstrated, you don't need all presenters to be in-depth subject-matter experts. --Brian McNeil / talk 08:51, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

I've been trying to figure out whether my experience trying to help newcomers learn the project can be applied to a class. For what little it might be worth, here's a short list of broad things all newcomers should know.

  • Each publication is a collaboration between reporter and reviewer, in which the reviewer isn't allowed to become a coauthor.
  • A good rule of thumb: try to make it easy for a reviewer to check that your work conforms to the review criteria (including verifiability). That motivates you to learn what to do, and do it; and it motivates reviewers to review your submissions, and to help you learn what to do (since you're visibly a good investment, who can be expected to respond to help with future improvement).
  • Also, don't try to run before you can walk. If you undertake something really challenging for your first article, that challenge is likely to interfere with your efforts to handle the challenge of a first article.

There's very little I can do, when trying to help someone who just comes to the site out of the blue and submits an article, to convey these messages, however much I'd like to; but a class is a different medium. --Pi zero (talk) 19:48, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

Tools for experienced writers[edit]

What sort of tools would help to make article writing easier for experienced Wikinews writers? It appears folks sometimes start to write an article, then don't have time to finish it within deadline; what sort of tools might cut down on how often this happens, by reducing the time and effort required? Feel free to speculate wildly; I'm trying to fashion building blocks from which to build interactive tools, and I'm looking for ideas about what sort of tools the building blocks should be able to build. --Pi zero (talk) 16:38, 8 November 2014 (UTC)

At first glance, this one might sound silly, but it would be fantastic to have a push-button option to help find file photos on Commons for certain topics. (e.g. If I'm writing an article about President Obama, with just a click or two, Commons would offer me up 2-3 file photos from which to choose.) --Bddpaux (talk) 16:41, 10 November 2014 (UTC)
That's an interesting thought. It's occasionally occurred to me that our category pages have images on them that could be drawn on for generic usage on related articles, which ought in principle to be something a semi-authomated tool could orchestrate. --Pi zero (talk) 17:19, 10 November 2014 (UTC)
I agree with the push button idea. So to clarify, there would be a button beside an article I'm writing to retrieve photos? Anyways, I think a semi-automated tools should orchestrate images from category pages, which I think is a good idea. (talk) 22:52, 10 November 2014 (UTC)