Wikinews:Water cooler/policy

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Policies and guidelines and the Style guide contain or link to most of the current en.Wikinews policies and guidelines, however policy is based on the accepted practices of the day on Wikinews, often these might not be written down. This section of the Water cooler focuses on discussions regarding policy issues.

You may wish to check the archives to see if a subject has been raised previously.

March of the Adjectives[edit]

Just some general musings and wonderings about a few bits and baubles: Earlier today, Laura not ready'd this article....Oculus unveils new prototype 'Virtual Reality' headset. I had previously failed it (less eloquently-adorned than Laura's review, I might add)....but she made mention of something that set me to thinking. She commented that the article was too heavily-laden with adjectives like "previously" and "traditionally" which skewed it away from 'neutral'. Now, Laura was better able to put a fine point on what was really at the root of an article smelling of non-neutrality than I was. I will quickly concede that. But sometimes, adjectives are based in reality. March is a month which occurs "previous" to September. "Traditionally", the grass is green and the sky is blue, but if my company can turn the grass purple for 3 hours via a device.....does the use of "traditionally" really lean things away from neutral that much?? I'm just kinda thinking aloud here. I like to say that each article has an ethos all-its-own......a sort-of Zeitgeist unto itself.....and some articles just....well, (as mentioned above) smell funny. But what is some good guidance on when adjectives are or are not our friend? (Stephen King loves the old chestnut: "The adjective is not your friend.") --Bddmagic (talk) 18:16, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

I'm guessing these adjectives were being used in service of some form of vagueness, either of fact or of attribution. Adjectives don't always foster evil non-neutrality, but they are prone to it. Passive voice has that characteristic too, though passive voice is more frought with problems anyway (it's less forceful and less succinct than active voice); the primary grammatical function of passive voice is to omit the subject, which, again, fosters vagueness of fact or attribution. --Pi zero (talk) 18:52, 9 January 2014 (UTC)
You're looking at the end result of over-exposure to churnalism. Problem is,that's endemic in the tech press. --Brian McNeil / talk 20:06, 9 January 2014 (UTC)
I'm not sure if its possible to write technology-related articles without sounding the way I did, because developments in a particular technological field usually depends on whoever's leading the field. (For example: Google releases a new iteration on its search engine, it will obviously be Google-centred; Microsoft releases Windows 8, it will obviously be Microsoft-centred). I used the word traditionally to mean "Oculus has known about this problem for years and only managed to figure a solution (which it was probably incapable of solving as it waits for the available tech to catch up) it now." TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 20:14, 9 January 2014 (UTC)
In terms of how we define neutralism here, you bring up a few VERY SALIENT points. Some major tech advancements are only being lead by ONE COMPANY or one group of people. Saying as much, isn't being's just stating fact. "Google managed to turn the sky green using a thingamabob they cooked up last week." --isn't's fact. Now, (as Brian nicely pointed out).....the "spirit" of an article can still come across as horrifically non-neutral....and I really sensed that tone (from your first iteration, at least). Interesting discussion here. --Bddpaux (talk) 21:35, 9 January 2014 (UTC)
God, I love the term 'churnalism'. --Bddpaux (talk) 21:35, 9 January 2014 (UTC)
Well, I've had a lot of time to think about this article lately, and I don't think it's a newsworthy article worth publishing anymore. My thoughts were this: most tech articles (see the technology section of Google News) report on the latest tech product/gadget, usually from the leading company of that tech market, which causes the articles to be biased towards that company as I noted above. They also tend to exclude competitors and emphasize the benefits of this particular product over past products. If I've learned anything from my interactions with you guys, it's that journalism articles have to be neutral in tone whilst remaining true to Wikinews' inclusion policy and the 5 Ws. The questions were answered thusly: who = Oculus; what = designed "Crystal Cove"; when = the Tuesday Google and I covered it (Wednesday UTC); where = in the company's press release or at the Consumer Electronic Show's demo; and lastly the most important question is why do we care and how = there's these fancy benefits with technological jargon attached to them like "positionial tracking system and OLED technology" that gives it benefits over past products and also paints the company in a positive light. I can't imagine writing about the "why do we care" part and having to explain how it is better than past products and products from other competitors without sounding non-neutral. And yet if we take out the "why do we care that this new product got into the news", we take out the raison d'etre of the article, the reason it's newsworthy. I think it is for this reason that I am considering just not publishing it. But lemme know what you think, if you convince me this article might be worth pursuing, I'll put in the reasonable time and effort to get it published. TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 01:19, 11 January 2014 (UTC)
That article is no longer fresh. --Pi zero (talk) 01:47, 11 January 2014 (UTC)


I've noticed that the {{peer reviewed}} template on the talkpage of the article contains a link to the Wikinews:Content guide policy page under the "Newsworthiness" criteria, yet we already have a page called Wikinews:Newsworthiness. What is this page's relationship to the content guide and the aim of Wikinews' mission, and should we re-point the link to the new page? TeleComNasSprVen (talk) 02:36, 11 January 2014 (UTC)

We put so much of our effort into actual news production that our documentaiton pages tend to lag behind. Our policies, guidelines, and best practices are scattered all over the site. When I wrote WN:Tips on reviewing articles#Checklist, I combed through most of the site collecting tidbits and writing them into the list with links back to where I'd found them; but even that doesn't have everything. The most up-to-date summary of the main elements of newsworthiness, atm, is at WN:PILLARS (that'd be WN:PILLARS#newsworthy). The WN:Newsworthiness page is really about just one of three primary criteria used for newsworthiness — it deals with relevance. I've been meaning to upgrade that page, at some point in my copious free time. --Pi zero (talk) 03:14, 11 January 2014 (UTC)

Category usage[edit]

Hierarchy I went to add a category to Spain's_men_remain_on_top_of_FIFA_global_rankings_for_April_2014 and noticed that it is in both the broad Category:Sports as well as the more refined Category:Football (soccer). Why is this? Isn't the function of subcategories to diffuse larger ones? Are all news items expected to be in as many levels of categories as possible? I have to admit that I'm mostly an en.wp editor rather than en.wn so I guess I have a lot to learn... Thanks. —Justin (koavf)TCM 03:59, 17 April 2014 (UTC)

  • That'd, largely, be for use with intersection/DPL. A drill-down category style is indeed more-encyclopedic, but also less-readily manipulated with DPL.
For example, the below list is built on that lower-level category "Football (soccer)", but a similar list for "Sports" and Spain wouldn't work if articles were not also in the top-level category ("Sports").

Hopefully that clarifies somewhat. --Brian McNeil / talk 06:01, 17 April 2014 (UTC)
Btw, we have in the past usually not created a category until there are three published articles already to do in the category. Some of us have have informal discussions about circumstances under which, with suitable software support to make it useful, we might create whole sets of categories that might be either empty or almost empty, but the software support isn't there quite yet (I'm working on it, but it's very slow going). --Pi zero (talk) 11:12, 17 April 2014 (UTC)
  • These pretty much cover it. Doing it this way allows lists of articles relevant to any given subject, or subject combination, to be wizarded up. Also makes for ease of news browsing, people looking back in the archive for related/similar content. Wikipedia has (no?) need of such things, so the hierarchical classification system they use is perfect for them. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 11:31, 19 April 2014 (UTC)

Edit warning amendment[edit]

There was a discussion a few years back regarding adding a warning to MediaWiki:Copyrightwarning (the bottom of the edit window) about copying from other Wikimedia sites. Someone else recently requested a similar change; what are everyone's thoughts? Microchip08 (talk) 20:50, 18 April 2014 (UTC)

  • The way the request is written, it's a repeat of a previously unnoticed or ignored request.
Summed up: Replace the following text:

Do not submit copyrighted work without permission

  • Your work will be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License and will be attributed to "Wikinews".
  • You must have written your work yourself or copied it from a compatibly licensed resource or public domain resource.
  • If you don't want your writing to be edited mercilessly or redistributed by others, do not submit it.
With this:

By clicking the "Save page" button, you agree to the Terms of Use, and you irrevocably agree to release your contribution under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 license.
You agree that credit to "Wikinews" is sufficient attribution under the Creative Commons license.
Due to incompatibilities between their licensing policies, copying text from other Wikimedia websites, including Wikipedia, is considered to be a copyright violation.

Most of this is (scroll to the foot of the page before clicking edit) already displayed in the the page footer copyright message. The warnings in the proposed revision are appropriate, but the word-choice is quite harsh.
That can, probably, be improved on. Without being the legalistic bludgeon that everybody ignores. --Brian McNeil / talk 21:41, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
We can do away with the "inappropriate material"; the problem we're trying to catch is more likely to be an experienced Wikimedian copying across a template or two, not a random person pasting an encyclopaedic article; and the page footer isn't displayed on edit pages as far as I can tell. Microchip08 (talk) 21:59, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
Hm? Copying stuff from Wikipedia (sentences, not whole articles) seems likely to be more frequent than copying across templates (and is, realistically, likely to be more of a problem when it happens). --Pi zero (talk) 22:13, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
I'd expect an experienced Wikimedian to take heed of material being "incompatibly licensed". However, they're just-as likely to need reminded why Wikipedia content shouldn't be copied into news articles. The originally proposed version 'points the finger' at licensing policy, not at the more-philosophical reasons not to import Wikipedia content. --Brian McNeil / talk 05:59, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
E/C But not every edit is to a news article, so the link isn't going to be relevant every time (unless, I suppose, you added an {{#ifeq: or something). I don't think people need to know the reasons behind a rule (at least, not through an interface message; they can look it up if they want). Thinking about it, do we actually need this amendment? Reverts are cheap, and adding yet another explicit rule just makes this all-important new user gateway slightly more daunting. Microchip08 (talk) 11:46, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
  • I believe a historic blind eye was turned to both template copying and the use of (often unsourced) background info copypasta'd from Wikipedia. So we actually want to catch them both. Preferably, keeping it simple/clear/concise. We want something that unfamiliar newcomers will find as accessible as experienced Wikimedians. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 11:42, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Templates, yes. Prose is something I'm not, personally, aware of. I've no doubt a suitably-crafted analysis would turn up examples, but I'd not expect a significant number. --Brian McNeil / talk 19:58, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Actually, I've an uncomfortable feeling it happens more than we're usually aware. --Pi zero (talk) 20:05, 20 April 2014 (UTC)