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.

Archiving policy and dead links[edit]

Is there any sort of precedent to update dead links in archived articles with links to a web archiving service, e.g., or WebCite? If not, then I'd like to propose that we update Wikinews:Archive conventions to specifically allow for updating the link to go to an archived version of the page. Looking at Missing dog's severed head found by 17-year old girl for example, the link to the CNN source is no longer working, but Internet Archive has a link to a version archived March 25, 2007. For updating the actual {{source}} template, we would possibly have need for a new template with a parameters for the original and archived URLs and the archive date. As an example, compare

AP. "Girl finds missing dog's head in box at house" — CNN, March 15, 2007


AP. "Girl finds missing dog's head in box at house" — CNN, March 15, 2007. Archived from the original on 27 March 2007.

Any thoughts? Suggestions? —Mikemoral♪♫ 07:35, 7 October 2014 (UTC)

  • We've kept well-away from that previously. Not because we're keen to keep broken links, but because we've had people try to go directly to such archiving services and serve up a withdrawn version of a source for use in review.
The cited example is perfectly legitimate, unless CNN decide to dick with their robots.txt and kill off keeping copies public. Other sources have already gone down that route, which makes chasing archived copies a potentially-recurring headache.
Personally, I don't think chasing down valid links to archived copies of sources, on our already-archived articles, is of sufficient benefit to the project mission to be worth devoting significant time to. Were someone to put forward a compelling argument to do so, my suggestion would be that this is done as an additional parameter on {{source}} so we preserve the originally cited, and reviewed-from, URL. Note: Editing {{source}} should be done with extreme caution. --Brian McNeil / talk 07:46, 7 October 2014 (UTC)
It's not necessarily an important task to go around doing, but my suggestion here was to amend WN:ARCHIVE to make it explicitly allowed to add archived copies of pages. Rather than changing {{source}}, we might try something like a {{archived source}}, perhaps like the citation I used above. It would certainly be easier that trying to edit {{source}} without breaking it. —Mikemoral♪♫ 05:47, 8 October 2014 (UTC)
  • That makes sense; not a template to extend the list of sources, but to provide a "[Archived version]" link after the now-dead source. Details like which archive, and date retrieved, could be available via a tooltip on the link. That'd keep the format/layout disruption to a minimum. --Brian McNeil / talk 07:28, 8 October 2014 (UTC)
  • An additional field on the {{source}} template, and a note about it at WN:ARCHIVE, seems reasonable. It's not actually a change to the archive policy, after all, and should be doable without crossing over into instruction creep. --Pi zero (talk) 11:26, 8 October 2014 (UTC)
Hm, somehow missed the point about a separate template on first reading. I can see the merit. Then again, we could add it along with another field I've had in mind to add for some time, in a single edit to conserve server kitties. --Pi zero (talk) 11:33, 8 October 2014 (UTC)

For a mention on WN:ARCHIVE, probably something in the "Post-archive edits" section among the lines of "The {{source}} template may be updated [or {{archived source}} template may be added] if a link to a source is dead to include a new link to an archived version from an archival service such as the Internet Archive or WebCite" would do. I don't think that contributes to instruction creep much, but it's an idea. Updating {{source}} or creating a new template might be the only issue here, though the later is likely easier to accomplish. —Mikemoral♪♫ 06:32, 9 October 2014 (UTC)

Creating a separate template would create an unbounded future maintenance liability, of making sure changes to one template are echoed in the other. That's undesirable.
When adding a field with significant logic, one could use the same technique I've already used with the {{source}} template's handling of author fields written in all-caps: call a subtemplate. Thereafter, one can change the behavior of that one feature by editing the template, with far less impact than an edit to {{source}} itself. (In the case of all-caps author fields, changes to that one feature now impact a template used on fewer than 1300 pages (and shrinking) rather than one used on more than 20,000 (and growing).) --Pi zero (talk) 11:18, 9 October 2014 (UTC)
Then it would seem that incorporating it into the {{source}} template is the more desirable option here, though that's rather beyond my abilities to make such a change. —Mikemoral♪♫ 09:38, 10 October 2014 (UTC)

I've been experimenting a bit with this tonight, trying to make it resist abuse. I've built in three measures, but wondering whether they're enough.

  • only works if parameter brokenURL is set. (Got this idea from an earlier experiment by brianmc; the template already supports brokenURL.)
  • requires the user to set a parameter post-review archived, the name of which reminds not to use it before review.
  • displays a message of the form [historical archive version], where the word "historical" warns reviewers not to use it during review.

The version I've set up also has a lang parameter, something we've been thinking about adding for years. My mock-up is currently at User:Pi zero/source. --Pi zero (talk) 06:28, 30 November 2014 (UTC)

@Pi zero:, @Mikemoral:, @Brian McNeil: For what it's worth (and as pointed out by Mike above), Internet Archive isn't the only archiving source--there's also WebCite. We can easily have a bot that makes WebCite citations or for that matter, we can save citations here as well. Take screenshots and download archive copies that aren't publicly viewable unless the original goes down or somesuch. —Justin (koavf)TCM 06:40, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
Lots of ways to skin the cat, which is probably why Grumpy Cat looks so grumpy.
Even when Wikinews was just getting going in 2005, there were news sources putting up their paywalls. Having a version of a news story written applying NPOV, which would never vanish behind a paywall, was one of concerns driving the setup of the project. That's why I'm not overly-worried about keeping links alive, but do appreciate some work on that will help illustrate that review is making sure our articles reflect sources accurately. --Brian McNeil / talk 11:57, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
Well, the nice thing about separating the details of handling into a subtemplate is, the subtemplate is initially not heavily used and therefore can be changed without affecting 19.5k articles. I may deploy the change at {{source}} later today, unless somebody objects. --Pi zero (talk) 12:45, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
Before deploying, though, I'll want a better name than post-review archived — I want something more idiot-resistant (we all know nothing is idiot-proof) — and I'm thinking I'll want some sort of single-page-database approach to languages as an alternative to transcluding one of a myriad templates that I've been wanting for years to replace with a more unified approach anyway. --Pi zero (talk) 13:25, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
  • Uhm, I'm not seeing this "post-review archived" in the test template/subpages. However, why can't this be done with {{PROTECTIONLEVEL:Edit|PageName}}? If it doesn't return "sysop", then the page isn't archived. --Brian McNeil / talk 21:20, 30 November 2014 (UTC)
Oh, cool. Yes that's very useful.
In tinkering, I'd changed "post-review archived" to, um, "archived after Wikinews publication". Which, yes, is awfully long. Likely to get shorter again, given a way to determine protection level
Atm I'm planning out an upgrade to a function in the lisp interpreter I've set up for succinct powerful manipulations. Once I've made the upgrade, I'll be able to reduce a table to a list of lists of strings in a single function call (highly desirable because in this context, administrative overhead of multiple function calls is very disruptive). --Pi zero (talk) 22:36, 30 November 2014 (UTC)

I've deployed changes to {{source}}. They do not (I believe and sincerely hope) change any pre-existing behavior; but archive urls and descriptions can be specified, and will show if our article is fully protected and the citation also has parameter brokenURL=true. Cf. {{source/archived}}. There's also a parameter lang=. --Pi zero (talk) 06:15, 7 December 2014 (UTC)

Template:Breaking news image[edit]

Can we deprecate this, and remove the corresponding WN:FU section? I never much liked it, and the way we review things now doesn't really square very well with throwing up a picture and saying "We probably can't use this, we'll get around fixing it later though. Promise." BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 22:08, 5 January 2015 (UTC)


I strongly recommend all routine users turn on Wikidata in RC by default (Preferences->Recent changes->"Show Wikidata edits in recent changes"). Keep an eye out in particular for Wikidata items for categories linked to topic cats. We should be linking directly to the main topics. For example Category:Paris links here not here. This is not obvious to the majority of Wikidata users so naturally we should be on the lookout. Wikidata's pithy local policy on the issue is here, be prepared to link to it.

Having poked around a fair bit with Wikidata I find myself rather warming to it. It does create new problems, but they seem to be worth it to avoid having to make dozens of edits per page just to ensure languages were linked up correctly. It also makes problematic interwiki bots, which were often inaccurate, an obsolete thing of the past. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 03:37, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

The functionality could have been provided in a way that doesn't screw over local control by the projects. But their centralizing choice follows from Conway's law. Some of the folks I met at Wikidata were friendly and helpful, but that doesn't make me any less pessimistic about the consequences of the gratuitously centralized strategy. --Pi zero (talk) 04:18, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
This experience sounds the same as mine. Offline, a lot of helpful and friendly people. Online, software crashes and bug reports. Hawkeye7 (talk) 04:57, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
I find it daunting to say anything polite about showing Wikidata edits. Watching them ignore their own policies while demonstrating that they don't give a crap about ours just raises my blood pressure; errors that afaics Wikidata's non-wiki-markup design makes maximally difficult to fix. --Pi zero (talk) 04:35, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
@Pi zero: It's hard to understand what you mean. Can you explain? —Justin (koavf)TCM 04:37, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
@Koavf: I'm pretty sure I was wrong about the specifics. I find the interface to Wikidata, in all its aspects including the way Wikidata edits show up on Wikinews recent changes, hard to use; the project should have been designed not only to be more distributed amongst the projects in its control, but also to actually be a wiki (i.e., to use wiki markup). In this case, I was probably confused by the fact that Wikidata edits show up on Wikinews RC under the name of the Wikinews page rather than the Wikidata page, so if you want to know what Wikidata item is attached to the Wikinews item you have to follow a link to Wikidata for each edit. --Pi zero (talk) 12:02, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
  • I see, no matter how much thought goes into writing about wd in a way that makes rehashing old ground irrelevant, we're still not ready to talk constructively. Apologies. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 14:29, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
@Blood Red Sandman:, apologies that <deleted, irrelevant to the current point> tended to eclipse your specific practical remarks on day-to-day operations.
Do you have any suggestions on how one might diminish either of the drawbacks of showing Wikidata edits — that it tends to flood RC, and that —seemingly— one cannot tell from what appears on RC here what sort of Wikidata structure has been attached to the Wikinews page? --Pi zero (talk) 15:21, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
I've been a lil cranky lately. I'm not sure if I should apologise given we're moving forward because of it, but... Well, <hugs>. The flooding is generally minimal. Wd is a sufficiently small project that one editor or bot can make a big difference and create flooding, likewise enwn (e.g. if you look now, one user has been doing alot of tidying up of wn items). My suggestion to that is, turn it off when flooding happens and try again in a few hours.
The latter is quite predictable based on the numbers attached to the item. You get the item id in recent changes. Most of our cat-fixing will involve countries and major cities, which seems to have been the earliest items created by wd. So you will look for something in the form Q## or Q###. If you see Q####### it's most likely been erroneously linked to a page collecting categories. The diff link goes to wd and obviously so does the Q#### link, I personally open these in new tabs to check quickly and then close. I do similar when populating new cats. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 21:21, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
Example: Cat:Caribbean is currently linked to Q6140308. That's a lengthy item number and, on inspection, links it to other cats. Cat:United States is currently linked to Q30. That's a short number and sure enough is correctly linked to the item for the USofA. Both can be seen near the top of RC with Wikidata enabled. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 21:26, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
Ah! The old number-of-digits heuristic. Very neat.
I'm guessing, once one spots a problem like that, it requires tediously manually copying over all the links one-at-a-time from the wrong wd item to the right one (one "edit", but a whole lot of copying-and-pasting — hence my grumble about wikidata not using wiki markup). --Pi zero (talk) 22:15, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
Oh, wait, it's worse than that. Wouldn't many Wikinewses want the portal associated with the low-numbered item, rather than the category? Since Wikidata doesn't, as I understand it, permit more than one page per wiki to be associated with, say, Paris. Bloody hell. That would seem to make it structurally impossible for Wikidata ever to support both interwikis and sister links at the same time. --Pi zero (talk) 22:25, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
Sigh. I'm wrong again, or at least sort-of. The Wikidata policy you linked specifies categories, not portals. So maybe some Wikinewses would like to link a portal to Paris instead of a category, but they don't get to do so. --Pi zero (talk) 22:33, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
Well, to get a feel for what's involved, I decided to fix one. I tried to fix the Caribbean item. It seemed not to want to let me add more than one link to the given item at a time. And it seemed not to be giving me any way of adding an edit summary, so I could invoke the rule that says what I was doing was what was supposed to be done. But then I also was unable to find a way to save the edit. So much for my friendly overture toward Wikidata. --Pi zero (talk) 22:50, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
Fixed Caribbean. I'm sorry to report it didn't improve my opinion of Wikidata's design concept. I reasoned Wikidata might be balking at adding a page to the correct item (Q664609, a surprisingly long number) because it didn't want that page linked to more than one item at a time. The solution would therefore be to delete the item from the wrong item first; I hesitated, lest I remove it and then be unable to add it back, but then tried. It "worked", in the minimal sense that the objective became achievable. I never did find a way to even ask to have multiple items added. I never did find a way to add an edit summary. And I never did get the software to un-grayout the "save" button, but was sometimes, seemingly at random, able to save an add-link by hitting return while editing a field. I've no real idea why it was being so cantankerous about it now, since I've added to wikidata items before, when somebody proposed to remove all our interwiki markup from a page but I found (on careful manual check) that some interwiki was missing from wikidata's list. --Pi zero (talk) 23:36, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
Wikidata->preferences->gadgets->move is infinitely useful. Edit summaries are available upon undoing the edits of others. Wikidata went through another redesign/upgrade in the last day or two that could explain the other bugs. My guess is edit summaries in some form will appear within a year or two as the green project continues to grow. Play with it over a few items, it's remarkably simple after a while. (I worked it out for myself, and I still don't self-sight {{topic cat}}s.) BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 00:23, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
The solution for things like {{topic cat}} is, of course, assistants. I'm not keen on complicated template interfaces either; you'll note how reticent I was about adding another bell-and-whistle to {{topic cat}}, before finally adding the no comma=non-blank option. --Pi zero (talk) 01:09, 16 January 2015 (UTC)

While we're naming things that would tend to improve Wikidata's database, here are two others: When a Wikidata edit in RC is linking our cat to the correct Wikidata item,

  • Add a wikidata sister link to the category's topic cat (if it doesn't use topic cat, convert it so it does :-). Parameter wikidata goes alphabetically between commons and wikipedia (d goes between c and p).
  • Check the Wikidata item for the corresponding Wikipedia category, in case there are other-language Wikinews categories that got misplaced there.

I just did both of these for our Category:Athens, Greece; we were linked to the correct item, but there were only en.wn and ru.wn there so I checked the wrong item and found five other Wikinewses linked there. --Pi zero (talk) 21:00, 16 January 2015 (UTC)

Another example: our Category:Beijing was linked to the right item, and so were eight other Wikinewses, but one was all by itself linked to the wrong item (so if any of the other nine were relying on Wikidata for their sister links, that one would have been deprived of its interwiki from those). --Pi zero (talk) 21:16, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
Not surprising. Incorrect but understandable reverts are also to be looked out for, be ready to link to the explanation when turning them back. I still find WD, for all its multiple flaws, to be an improvement on what went before. BRS (Talk) (Contribs) 00:09, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
Whenever I do one of these moves, I add the from and to to my watchlist on Wikidata, so when checking my watchlist there I've a better chance of noticing reverts.
"I still find WD, for all its multiple flaws, to be an improvement on what went before."
I don't think WD versus what preceded it is the comparison to make. Wikidata, as I see it, institutionalizes serious structural mistakes that didn't have to be made. The damage that is being, and will be, done by the misdesign is down to the Foundation's misconceptions, and fixing the new set of problems is likely to be a lot harder that it would have been to fix the old problems without introducing the new problems. The fact that WD does alleviate some old problems gives the Foundation an excuse to imagine they didn't make a major blunder with WD. --Pi zero (talk) 00:33, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
Btw, in one case where some Wikinews cats had just been added to the wrong cat, I left a note on the user's Wikidata talk page, pointing out that the Wikinews cats —including the ones that had already been there— belonged on the other item. (I'm crossing my fingers my tone was sufficiently positive.) --Pi zero (talk) 00:38, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

One other subtask: check to see if we have any interwikis that wikidata doesn't. I found a whole lot of interwikis on our Category:Archaeology that were missing from wikidata (which I had to add to Wikidata one-at-a-time due to its crappy interface). On consideration, I left our interwikis in place, although, having just spent a great deal of time on that cat, I didn't add local interwikis for the other ones at Wikidata. Nonetheless, as a principle, I favor having local interwikis redundant to Wikidata's interwikis, because that prevents centralized mistakes from depriving readers of interwikis. Naturally, it's then necessary to watch for introduction of discrepancies between Wikidata and local interwikis; a bot could be used to alert human users to any such discrepancies, so that humans can then consider what to do about them — either change the local interwikis, or change Wikidata, or keep the discrepancy (if Wikidata is simply unwilling or unable to follow local best practice). --Pi zero (talk) 14:10, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

  • Yet another refinement. When some or all of the Wikinews cats are linked on the wrong item (which happens more often than not, seemingly), the move can't be done as a block if there's already some other page from one of the Wikinewses on the right item. This happens often with sv.wn, which differs from most of the others in that instead of a category and a portal for given topic, it has a category and a mainspace page. It's taken me a fair amount of blundering to figure out that the sv.wn mainspace page is effectively a portal, so it seems the appropriate measure is to move it to the portal item. --Pi zero (talk) 21:52, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
It looks like almost all the topic cats are wrong on Wikidata. In fairness, the one I just straightened out was way worse than usual. New York. Most Wikinews pages were linked under the "Category:New York City" item; some of them were actually the state. Fixing it all involved six items (category, portal, and article; city and state), and studying each linked Wikinews to see if it was city or state and whether it also had a cat for the other. --Pi zero (talk) 14:50, 18 January 2015 (UTC)
@Pi zero: Have you brought up any of this at d:Wikidata:Project Chat? —Justin (koavf)TCM 19:46, 18 January 2015 (UTC)
Various Wikinewsies discussed various stuff over there, some time back. I was involved with some of those discussions for a while, till they got way too big and sprawling to follow. I do have one open question there now (you can find it by searching string "pi zero"), no responses to it thus far. --Pi zero (talk) 20:11, 18 January 2015 (UTC)

Wikidata threat of blocking[edit]

A Wikidata admin has threatened to block me there if I continue to correct Wikidata items. I'm exchanging messages with them on my user talk page there atm. --Pi zero (talk) 13:21, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

For better or, more likely, for worse, I've made this inquiry at Wikidata's chat:
wikidata:Wikidata:Project chat#Threats of blocking and status of Wikinews links practice.
--Pi zero (talk) 19:02, 20 January 2015 (UTC)