Wikinews:Water cooler/miscellaneous/archives/2009/December

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Writing competition

Some of you will remember that I held a writing contest a few months ago. I wasn't very satisfied with its outcome, however, as only eight users signed up and barely 50 articles were generated. I'm thinking of starting another writing contest again in the near future - but this time, I'd like to advertise it more to get better participation (i.e., perhaps a sitenotice or watchlist notice). We could offer barnstars or something as a reward to help encourage/motivate editors. I've tried to think up a few rules for the contest based loosely on the previous one, see what you think:

  1. Contest will last a predetermined amount of time. During that period, users will receive one point for every article they created or added to significantly (we can set a limit, like 1.5kB). At the end of the time period whoever has the most points will win.
  2. We can have a separate contest for reviewing articles. For every reviewed/published article, you receive one point. It should be stressed though that this doesn't in any way encourage sloppy reviewing.
  3. I'd prefer that we don't have an "elimination-style" contest because fewer and fewer users will participate as the contest progresses, and we might not get as many articles that way. If we allow everyone to remain in the competition to the end, people might be motivated to write more to increase their standings.

Thoughts? Tempodivalse [talk] 18:54, 25 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Hm, it's been pointed out to me over IRC that this is probably not the best time to host a writing contest, with the holiday season approaching in a few weeks - I didn't think of that. Might be best to start this sometime after the new year to get the best possible participation. Tempodivalse [talk] 19:17, 25 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Personally I am of the opinion that elimination contests tend to generate more content than non-elimination contests. However i do not have any evidence to back this up. Bawolff 19:43, 25 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Agree with New Year. Also think that people are likely to write more if they will get eliminated otherwise.   Tris   08:29, 26 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]
OK, we've settled for sometime after new year. I'm still not sure if elimination contests will produce the most articles, but I'm okay with using that if a lot of people prefer them. I'd however want the restrictions for staying in the competition to be fairly low - like a minimum of one article for every two days. Meanwhile, perhaps we should advertise this discussion elsewhere in the upcoming weeks to the new year? I'd like to get as much participation as possible, so we don't end up with barely 6-7 contestants like last time. Maybe we could also link to this on other wikis (Strategy, perhaps?) to attract new contributors. (Also, feel free to sign up at User:Tempodivalse/Writing competition if you're interested in participating.) Tempodivalse [talk] 15:06, 26 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Rough proposal

I believe a competition needs run over a reasonably long period of time so that there is a sustained increase in the number of published articles. So, an elimination-style comp. is likely inappropriate. If it is based on points per article, then people will self-eliminate if not in the top 10-20% of those competing after a certain period of time. Thus, there is a need to try and get new contributors enjoying working on Wikinews even if they can clearly see they won't win the competition.

For a points system, I don't think one point per article is particularly good. If a certain minimum size is set for an article (eg 1,800 characters when published. And, a minimum of, say, 2,000 when initially submitted for review) then award five points for basic publication of that. Doing this, with a competition that runs 2-3 months, will see people well into three figures for their score; psychologically, I think this is better and anyone who's chasing to hit 1,000 points has more of an incentive than trying to reach 40-50 points where only one is awarded per article.

There should be consideration of other projects; by this I mean if someone gets a new photo or other media file for Commons which illustrates an article in the competition, this should gain additional points. Fair-use media hosted here would be more problematic; new contributors could well be discouraged if they inappropriately take an image from a 'competing' news source and it is deleted. However, things like doing new maps should be encouraged; a lot of these don't display well at sizes suitable for inclusion in a Wikinews article so more focussed maps with a pleasing look could be very useful long-term.

Original Reporting is quite difficult to work into a competition of this type. Thus, I prefer seeing it not included for new contributors during the early stage of the competition. Most of us have to rely on a degree of trust dealing with people's OR, so it makes sense to be to encourage competitors to establish a reputation and get comfortable with the fundamental policies of Wikinews before trying OR.

Ideally, the competition would not just be restricted to English. However, we need to be sure that any other language involved has certain minimum standards. To me the simplest metric for that is that they meet the criteria to be published in Google News. This then makes Google a potential source of prizes and publicity. That might not work out in the proposed competition and be something for later on, but Google are already sponsoring a competition for one of the African Wikipedia languages.

I totally agree that cash prizes does smack of paid editing. This is another reason I'd prefer to limit it to very new contributors - to avoid the appearance of arranging to have ourselves paid. If I could pick a physical prize for the overall winner instead, I'd like to see it be something useful for contributing to Wikinews, such as a netbook. Alternatively, if we could arrange with Amazon to make Wikinews available to their Kindle owners, that would be a nice prize.

Again with the new contributors focus, I would want to recruit Bawolff to help develop some Javascripty templates to make taking part simpler. Someone has their article ready to submit for review, they're guided through a form to submit for review, and detail the points they think the entry should get. It'd be good to also have an automatic "standings" table for the competition; that'd drive page views and is an additional incentive to those competing.

To those of us in the West, a prize pot of $500 spread across the top 3 or 4 competitors isn't really a lot, but is beyond most current Wikinewsies discretionary spending to put up. So, we do need a well-constructed competition; then outside parties might be encouraged to put up prizes. I have a few ideas of where to ask about that, but I'm playing them close to the chest for the moment. Don't beg anyone for anything right now, we need a fairly firm 300-400 word summary of rules to pitch when begging for prizes. It needs thought out such that the prizes can go to anyone anywhere in the world. It also needs to allow people to contribute under a pseudonym, but identify privately to get a prize.

If, as I would hope, such a competition were to attract 50-100 entrants, then we're really going to need all the current regulars doing reviewing and helping people get up to speed; this is another reason why I'd prefer to limit the eligible entrants. Most regulars with 10-20 or more articles have done the work to find rules and policies they need to know; the competition should have as a secondary goal improving the interlinking and publicising of this information to make life easier for future contributors.

Lastly, and coming back to my theoretical $500 prize fund, this is only a newsworthy amount of money depending on who puts it up. If it is a well-known journalistic figure, or a journalist's union/organisation, that should do the trick. Perhaps better yet if competition entries can be 'syndicated' to them and gain even more publicity. If we work from the assumption that this will be a recurring competition then longer-term I'd want to aim for an independent judging panel to pick the top entries from the entire competition and award additional points once it's closed; for that, I'm thinking, again, journalist orgs/unions or senior editors from more heavyweight publications or public service broadcasters using criteria such as 'most comprehensive coverage of a news event'.

Now, that's a lot to digest. Think carefully before responding. --Brian McNeil / talk 11:39, 27 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]

This sounds quite exciting, actually, if implemented. If we could get even 40-50 new entrants, that would give a massive boost to article production, and if a portion of them went on to become regulars, that would expand our user base substantially. The key to getting as many participants as possible is in the publicity.
A few thoughts about how we could score the contest:
  • One-point-per-article is probably not the best way to do it, i agree; e.g.: an in-depth OR piece and a three-paragraph synthesis article would receive the same score, despite one being obviously much more difficult to write.
  • We could establish a points system something like this: You receive a base score of 3 points for each article written and published up to 2 kilobytes in size. For every additional 1kb of material added, you receive an extra point. If a significant part of the article (let's say one mid-sized paragraph) consists of OR (but not broadcast report) you receive an extra five points, plus one point for every relevant image you add to the article. This would encourage users to go out and do some first-hand reporting, and write longer, more in-depth pieces. OR, though, as Brian points out above, needs to be restricted somewhat, because newbies could have some difficulty establishing credibility and trust.
Another issue is how to divide the two groups, if we're going to create a two-section tournament. I'd suggest setting the line at who doesn't have Editor status at the time of registration versus those that do - that would remove most COI in the newbie group associated with allowing users to review each other's articles. If someone receives Editor status during the competition, they have to promise not to use it to review articles written by others in the newbie category. The two groups would be completely separate, in terms of standings, prizes etc. Most of the focus would be on the newbie group - but I'd like established editors and admins to be able to participate in some way, so they can help boost article count and have some fun too. The "regulars" group would also be more informal, e.g. no judge panel, fewer or no prizes,
If we're indeed going to have upwards of 50 contestants, we're looking at an output of at least 30 articles per day, assuming conservatively that each contestant will write almost one article per diem. That's way beyond our current paltry output of 5 articles a day, and we, even if being "all hands on deck", would probably will be over our heads trying to review all of the articles in time. Might be a good idea to see if there are any more users we could promote to Editor status in the time before the contest, to give us more reviewing power.
Not sure if monetary prizes are the way to go, it does seem too close to paid editing. A small laptop or some other electronic gadget might be better - but those are still fairly expensive, we'll need a way to fund it.
Tempodivalse [talk] 15:03, 27 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Scoring system

As basic, I propose:

  • 3 points for a synthesis article; must be > 2KB (2048 char) when submitted and still above 1800 char when copyedited/reviewed.
  • +1 point per extra 768 char (I have concerns this may lead to encyclopedisation).
  • +2 points for a new image uploaded to Commons and used on an article (subject to loss if removed).
  • +1 point for local fair-use images (with very strict sourcing requirements &c.)

For original reporting:

Broadcast reports explicitly excluded.
  • 8 points per OR article (with above 1800 char requirement).
Press releases permitted, minus a point for each 'standard' and current source building on the article.

So, where are we missing points issues, should these values be tweaked in any way? --Brian McNeil / talk 15:23, 27 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]

768 characters-per-point would be a headache to calculate, methinks. Could we use nice round numbers, like 2000 characters for the base article and 1000 characters for every additional point? Tempodivalse [talk] 15:28, 27 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]
As per my comments below (copied from Tempo's talk page), I think extra points should bw awarded for every third paragraph. --RockerballAustralia (talk) 00:34, 28 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]
I disagree because there is too much variance in what a paragraph is; it can even be as short as a single-line sentence. This, I think, is an area that could be disputed if a copyedit merges paragraphs and the submitter is unhappy to get less points.
Per Tempo's point, I chose 768 as ¾ of a kilobyte. I'm happy to see the figures reworked; remember, though, a lot of submissions will be copyedited quite strictly. "Noise" words like "that", "the", "and", "or" should be trimmed out where appropriate; this is why I suggest an eligible submission limit and a publication limit - allow for copyedit. --Brian McNeil / talk 00:43, 28 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]
  • I still think round numbers are better, they're much easier to calculate and make things simpler. (I had forgotten that one kilobyte is actually 1024 bytes, not an even thousand.) One other consideration: there probably should be some proviso that content imported from other compatibly-licensed sites (such as VOA) doesn't give you extra points, you only receive points for original prose. Tempodivalse [talk] 02:03, 28 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]
    Yes. So 2000 -> copyedit -> 1800. And, based on not allowed as entries (eg VOA counted as a copyvio for terms of the comp). --Brian McNeil / talk 02:19, 28 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]
    And, for "extended coverage", how about adding a number of points per additional 750 characters (close enough to the ¾KB, easy to calculate). As I said for the initial submission (must be >=2,000 char when submitted, still over 1,800 char following copyedit) I think we need to allow for a loss of 100 characters in copyediting that extra 750. --Brian McNeil / talk 16:33, 1 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Contest length/format

Then there's the question of how long to make the contest, and what sort of system we should use. Off the top of my head, a few ideas for this:

  1. The contest lasts a predetermined period of time, at the end of that, whoever has the most points wins.
  2. We have a set "goal" of a certain amount of points; when someone reaches that goal the contest is over and they win.
  3. We use a knockout system, eliminating contestants until there is only one left. We could do this by splitting the contest into rounds; after each round, we eliminate half of the contestants that have the least points.

Does anyone have other ideas? Open to thoughts. Tempodivalse [talk] 17:23, 27 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]

My choice has to be option 1. There is a fixed, known, period and definitive end-date. My suggestion is a three-month competition, and if done as two-tier for n00bs/veterans, that noobs be excluded from OR for an initial period. I'm easy if that's X articles, or Y weeks, or both expressed as 'whichever you reach first'.
Option 1 has no limit to the number of articles generated; 2 does and, 3 will see volume drop noticeably as the competition tails off. --Brian McNeil / talk 00:48, 28 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Fair enough. I too agree that option one is the best, just thought I'd throw some other ideas out there. Three months sounds like a reasonable time length. If, assuming conservatively, we have 30 total participants and each submits about one article per day, we're looking at 30x90 days = 2700 articles. That sounds almost too good to be true. Smile.png Tempodivalse [talk] 01:11, 28 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]

  • Here's one other consideration: if we are indeed going to have dozens of participants for this and will produce (hopefully) tens of articles per day, then perhaps we could add a few extra leads to the main page, at least temporarily? Because we'll have extra output during the contest days, we will probably be able to keep all the leads current ... plus it might motivate people to contribute more if they see their work displayed prominently on the front page. Open to thoughts. Tempodivalse [talk] 21:17, 3 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Suggestions copied from Tempo's talk page (to centralise discussion)

When I read your original proposal, I immediatly thought of a single elimination tournament with weeklong one on one contests. A person who has the editor tool could look over each of said contest.
Also, count articles from the contests beginning--RockerballAustralia (talk) 04:51, 27 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Some random suggestions:

  1. I would prefer two groups (newbies and established editors) as (i) it is unfair to lump them someone who has never written an article with someone who has 100+ articles published under their belt (ii) it would be a shame not to include 'established editors'. Don't ask me where the 'bright line' should be drawn though (I wrote 30+ in one month: does that make me a newbie as I recently joined or established because of the number of articles published?) NB: I will no longer be 'new' by any stretch of the imagination by the time the contest starts, but there could easily be someone else in a similar situation.
  2. I think that an uneven number of jurors should oversee the allocation of points (three seems a good number to me). I'd happily act as juror to whichever group I am not in.
  3. Concerning reviewing, editors who choose not to participate should be encouraged to make an extra effort to review articles. Editors from the 'established' group can naturally review the 'newbie' group.
  4. One point per article is a little unfair: a three paragraph article that just passes requirement for publication is not the same as an in-depth piece, let alone OR which takes much longer to prepare. I'd set up a points system (which the jury would apply), based on various criteria: length, bonus for particularly pertinent images, OR. I'd happily work with a group of you to write the rules.
  5. An elimination contest on points seems OK to me, maybe with number of weeks reducing as the contest progresses. The first round would allow more time, especially for the newbies, to get the hang of it. Maybe three rounds (3 weeks, 2 weeks, 1 final week—to be tweaked could be 2 weeks, 1.5 weeks, 1 week). Have a set limit of people passing to the next round with the jury able to select by vote one or two of those who didn't make it to continue (à la Eurovision Song Contest semi-finals). Being knocked out in the first week, especially in the 'newbie' category, is going to be very disheartening, and it only takes a contributor to be away for a long weekend to effectively scupper their chances. If I knew that I was likely to make it to the final, I'd make sure I was available, so fair's fair for the last week. Besides, the longer this goes on (but not eternally), the more articles Wikinews will have to publish!
  6. I'd prefer products and/or services rather than cash donated by companies as rewards for the winners (screams "paid editing!" a tad). That said, it's a preference and I'll not refuse $, € or dirhams.
  7. We could use the Wikipedia Signpost to publicise this. They recently advertised the results after announcing the start recent WikiCup and reporting on progress (can't be bothered to find the links for the latter).
  8. We should take note of the lessons learned at this year's WikiCup. The most important lesson I can see is the importance of getting the rules agreed upon from the start, and not changing them as the competition progresses.
  9. I'm not convinced that we should require OR in the final round, but if we adopt the points allocation system I suggest, it would de facto encourage it.
Voici my musings du jour. --Александр Дмитрий (Alexandr Dmitri) (talk) 08:40, 27 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]
On the points side of it, I think there should be
  • a point per atricle
  • one and a half if it incorporates OR with referenced sources
  • two if it's all OR
  • half a point for every third paragraph from the sixth onwards.--RockerballAustralia (talk) 09:19, 27 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]
I don't think we should have any elimination at all. Contributors, especially newbies, are likely to stop writing articles if their chances of winning the competition are lost. Also, receiving any kind of prize, whether it's cash, services, or products, seems to be paid editing to me. Perhaps we can allow the winner to donate the money to a charity of their choice??? Benny the mascot (talk) 21:59, 27 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Absolutely nothing would stop someone from donating a prize to charity; and, yes, I know it smacks of "paid editing". However, a prize-pot of $500, on a 12 week competition, 20 competitors, minimum 3 articles/week; that's 720+ articles. If the prize is split to 1st, 2nd, 3rd..., and the winner does 8 articles/week to win $150, that's $0.64/article. (/me makes note to have this bit of the discussion deleted before starting the competition ;-P). --Brian McNeil / talk 00:54, 28 November 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Comp. Update and call to arms

It looks like I'm well on the way to landing some sponsorship.

Also Wiki UK (British chapter) responded today to news about "Papers behind Paywalls" highlighing Wikinews. So don't bite anyone using British spelling, mmkay?

Lastly, there should be a WikiVoices later this month (go dig it up, mostly Wikipedia, but just a glorified podcast). I'll be one Voice, Jimmy Wales will be another; I need one other Wikinewsie (would like skenmy (talk · contribs) as he's accredited and the WMUK VolCo), plus everyone else who can spare time reviewing and doing the Wal-Mart greeter shtick. Once I've dealt with some bureaucracy tomorrow I'll set up Wikinews:WikiVoices #1 Write Faster! — the idea is to have people start at a real story which interests them and make publishable articles. Would be between 22nd-24th, I want to bring in a UK audience and perhaps some, er, *paid* journalists. The chat would support around 5-6 key people and up to 15 "callers"/participants. They use Skype for WikiVoices, I'm sure we can do one better after we've seen if it is worth it. --Brian McNeil / talk 01:02, 3 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Only UK? Anyway, I would be rather busy around those days. Will this be like that Wikipedia thing? --The New Mikemoral ♪♫ 03:04, 3 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Nononon! Not just the UK, but WMUK's press release is the most publicity we've had in ages. --Brian McNeil / talk 08:07, 3 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Further, the WikiVoices thing is hopefully going to be end-December. The actual competition would be starting towards the end of January; give students time to get settled back in then have a go. --Brian McNeil / talk 13:10, 3 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
I should be active on Dec 22-24 thereabouts to help out with reviews, and I have my welcome widget at the ready for any red-linked talk pages. :-) Tempodivalse [talk] 21:15, 3 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Count me in for reviewing and greeting, but I have to draw the line at Wal-Mart. I'm sorry, but I'm an entrenched Harvey Nichols afficionado. --Александр Дмитрий (Alexandr Dmitri) (talk) 23:28, 4 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

NewsTrust.net

As sent to the list...

I just got off of an hour long Skype chat with Fabrice Floren, founder of http://newstrust.net. Jimmy suggested to him it might be interesting if there are ways Wikinews can work with them. I think there are, but to some extent we need to check we're all within WMF rules, and we might want to kick a few more people about Amgine's MediaWiki extension for XML feeds.

NewsTrust is a non-profit, ostensibly a news aggregator, but they challenge people to review news and become more critical of it. They're a hell of a lot more clued up about reviewing and being critical of news than the feeble review widget in MediaWiki.

I was up-front with Fabrice, Wikinewsies will look at their site and say, "what can we steal?" Well, unless we run into the privacy policy, we're welcome to steal all their gadgets, and get them reviewing our stuff.

My thoughts on this at the moment are there is room for collaboration; feeding Wikinews stories into NewsTrust and putting the NewsTrust review/rating widget on each Wikinews article. This could be incorporated into the publish template.

Second, they have pretty good background on the sources they follow and are crowdsourcing "credibility ratings" for them. Could we pull that data into the {{source}} template on Wikinews? By this I mean someone reading one of Wikinews' articles scrolls down to the sources, it says "The Guardian", gives the WikiTrust rating for the source, and the cited article.

Fabrice had not had a lot of time to look at Wikinews articles, but will be sticking a couple up for the NewsTrust community to review. Cirt will be pleased to know that at a semi-casual read his "Glenn Beck" coverage was deemed comprehensive and well-researched.

I'm going to sign up on the site and have a real dig round in the morning. For now, there's the following links that might interest people like, ooh, I don't know ;-) Bawolff?

http://newstrust.net/tools/buttons http://newstrust.net/sources/the_guardian http://newstrust.net/widgets http://newstrust.net/feeds/todays_feeds

I also have a PDF of a NewsTrust presentation (~6Mb) if you want a copy let me know a suitably well-endowed email address.

--Brian McNeil / talk 01:13, 12 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Although this will make Wikinews a lot more reliable, we might see a decrease in contributions. People simply might not want to put a lot more time into making sure their articles (especially original reporting) are 100% factually correct. Benny the mascot (talk) 02:12, 12 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
  • I don't see it being a disincentive. I expect it to challenge people to build their reputations here, as expressed by NewsTrust's reviewers. And, if you haven't yet, I recommend subscribing to the wikinews-l mailing list. (subscribe, archive, NewsTrust thread). --Brian McNeil / talk 16:17, 12 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
  • I like the look of this. A lot. Can we have a mix in that sample we send them to review - maybe a few recent FAs plus a random grab-bag of 2-3 of the latest stories? Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 17:02, 12 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
  • That's the general idea. Fabrice has already put up Cirt's Beck story and my INDECT one. Judging from their other picked and featured articles it should be our longer, more comprehensive stuff we submit. --Brian McNeil / talk 17:04, 12 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
  • What's the purpose of a mailing list when we can discuss everything right here? Benny the mascot (talk) 19:23, 12 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
  • I take it you don't have experience using mailing lists. First, wikinews-l is not restricted to one language edition (although dominated by English). It offers an opportunity to send courtesy copies (or blind carbons) to interested or involved parties. Readers get their own copy of messages and can review and respond when suits them. In theory these functions would be served by meta. Most prior efforts to do so (eg WORTNET) die after a few months. --Brian McNeil / talk 19:27, 12 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
  • Thanks for the offer, but I really don't intend to participate that much in Wikinews's administrative matters. I prefer to spend my time writing and reviewing articles. Benny the mascot (talk) 19:40, 12 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Major contributor categories

I've created Category:Brian McNeil (Wikinewsie) and added to all articles where I'm a major contributor. Now Brian McNeil runs on DPLs, including the FA bit at the top.

Anyone complains about me admitting I'm jobhunting on my user page Google my name and you'll see why I do it here. Apparently this would be pretty much acceptable for anyone who's a real contributor and not just doing it for self-promotion.

I've asked DragonFire1024 to create Category:Jason Safoutin (Wikinewsie) for himself. I'd like to invite all accredited reporters to do so as stage 1 of this attribution project. Cirt's the tricky one as he's ultra-cautious about having his real name known. --Brian McNeil / talk 14:01, 18 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

This will also work as metadata about the article. For example, at some point in the hopefully near future, I plan to modify the newsTrust icon so that one you click it, it submits appropriate metadata with the article (Currently if you click it, news trust asks for what categories the article is in, who wrote the article, etc. Hopefully that'd be all automatic soon). Bawolff 14:06, 18 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
I thought that Cirt wasn't an accredited reporter? Tempodivalse [talk] 14:51, 18 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
(EDIT CONFLICT): Cirt is one of the ones who has written articles about CoS, right? If so, he has a good reason to be wary of revealing his real name. (Anti-Libel: IMO) they are incredibly sue-happy over there, and will gladly bankrupt a blogger or citizen journalist by filing frivolous lawsuits against them. I'm not accredited, but if I was I'd also be wary of revealing my real name for that reason.
This won't solve the immediate problem, but is it possible to create some kind of anonymous posting account that could be accessed by accredited reporters to post stories about organizations like CoS? Such an account would have to be only accessible by people who also have access to wikinewsie.org (accredited users), and it wouldn't allow people to bipass the review system. It would simply take the burden of legal defense off the individual.
grrrrrrrrr I HATE this stupid edit conflict system. Lost half my post:(. Anyway, trying to remember what I said down here:
Having the burden of legal defense on the individual will eventually lead people to self-censor themselves out of fear. *Real* news organizations are protected by laws (in some countries) and by their parent companies. We have neither of those things. In the eyes of many countries we are, effectively, nothing more than group bloggers who try to maintain a NPoV in our blog. And I seriously doubt that the WMF has the resources or the will to go up against something like the CoS and protect us all from crippling lawsuits, should CoS ever notice that we exist:P. Regardless of whether or not by above idea about an anonymous account is workable, *something* needs to be done. I see this as a serious problem if we're going to force people to give their real names, and open themselves up to these kind of threats. Gopher65talk 15:01, 18 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Some of us are brave enough to just get sued, and indeed to sue back (I have a longstanding promise to sue my government before the Court of Session under the ECHR should this come to fruition) but I would agree that generally people will want to avoid that sort of crap. The ACLU might cover you in the States, but let's not risk it. I like Gopher's idea; would the WMF fight to protect the ID of anyone using such an account? Time to ping Mr Godwin? Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 15:15, 18 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
  • The key problem is that shared accounts are *very* vexatious. I'm pretty much against the whole idea of them. However, I do have an alternative.
Say a particular contributor comes up against something where they'd incur the wrath of the CoS, or even a government, they do the work on Wikinewsie's wiki. Sure, someone will have to create them a new account and they will *always* have to use it via Tor, but the work can be copied from Wikinewsie to here and it has been made considerably more difficult to track the originator.
It goes back up the chain from there. If you're in a hypothetical where Cirt has done a really damning exposé of the CoS, following the above, it'd go to legal action against the hosting provider to get the web logs. Tor would protect that but then they would know who created the account and take action against them. Might as well assume that's me; I own the domain and would probably be targetted at the same time as Godaddy who currently host it. If they successfully get an order for me to release who requested the account we're kinda stuck. I don't know if there's any way we could work with Wikileaks on this, their approach is to potentially not even know the source. They might can offer some advice or be able to put us in touch with techies who can. Realistically, you need a dedicated server somewhere that runs very short logs on rotation with censoring of these when writing to longer logs for usage &c. So, by time of publication here, no logs of even which Tor node someone wrote the story through. For OR verifiability we will have to have the evidence somewhere though.
Oh, and we're incredibly more geeky than your average journos. Everyone should have generated a GPG / PGP key. While encrypted emails raise red flags we should all be capable of sending them. Fortunately for me, Evolution has support for this built in; what we need is to get key-signing done so we call all satisfactorily verify each other's correspondence. --Brian McNeil / talk 16:40, 18 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
  • I'll keep entirely out of any discussion like that, I've implemented a quite conservative scheme following the earlier discussion. I don't object at all for you (as long as you're not claiming the VOA based-ons). I'd be leery of putting a pseudonym into the journalists category but, there's a notable blogger covers UK politics from Ireland called Guido Fawkes. --Brian McNeil / talk 23:12, 18 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Okay. I'm probably not going to do it, but was just wondering. Tempodivalse [talk] 03:14, 19 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

US East Coast prepares for blizzard

I know we have lots of contributors from the US East Coast. I was wondering if some of them would like to volunteer to help with the above article? I thought perhaps they could upload some pictures of how the blizzard is looking like in their area, and perhaps collaborate up an extensive OR piece. Tempodivalse [talk] 14:29, 19 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Chacaltaya glacier--too late for news article?

Since the glacier finished melting early this year, I'm worrried that a news article on it wouldn't be timely enough to pass muster. But I do think it is newsworthy and underreported--(I missed seeing it until recently, and I'm a fairly avid newspaper reader.) What's wikinews policy on this? Thanks, Richard L. Peterson (talk) 09:12, 20 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Generally such events have to happen very recently for an article to be written on them. One week would probably be the cut-off (and thats stretching it quite a bit). Generally cut off is ~2 days for political type news. Sometimes sci-ency type news the cut-off is more lax, but if it was early this year, its probably much too late. (Unless there is some sort of new angle on it that just recently came to light). Bawolff 10:48, 20 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
I wouldn't publish something a week old. 3 days is pushing, maybe a little longer if it's heavily underreported. Beyond that - sorry, too late. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 12:47, 20 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
I concur with above. Three days is generally the maximum age a story can be and still get published. A week is far too much. Tempodivalse [talk] 16:42, 20 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Terrorism category

I noticed this category was previously deleted. I have recreated it.

However, I have only added into it articles iff the articles have the word "terrorism" in the title, and are clearly within the topic. Cirt (talk) 22:54, 24 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Don't forget the flood flag! RC is unreadable now. I'm not going to try and populate that until some dev gets of his/her/its backside and gives us our search with category options bug. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 22:59, 24 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Yeah, good point, I remembered it when I was almost done :P Cirt (talk) 23:07, 24 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Now it is at WN:DR. Cirt (talk) 04:25, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]


I see this became quite a merry little shitstorm. I didn't even think of the problem with the category; but I should have done, as I've been hit before when trying to get Republican groups suspected in gun battle with, failed bombing of, Northern Irish police published. Hmmm.... Trying to hash out some rules looks like a good idea on face value, but Brian raised good examples where ulikely groups are branded 'terrorist' by oppressive governments. Terrorism could easily be expanded to include things like legal wars since they technically meet the definition, although no-one ever does. Perhaps a better idea would be to create categoires for aspects commonly associated with terrorism. For example, Category:Bombings could be created with a comment to note that bombings performed by armies should go in Category:Military instead. Category:Hijackings might be another one, noting that hijacked ships go into Category:Piracy. How's that suit people? Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 12:53, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

  • I hadn't intended for the deletion to provoke a shitstorm; I'm just one of the few still-active contributors who recalls that prior deletion and the circumstances around it. I'd generally say, as I said on the DR, you have to consider very carefully who calls something terrorism. Accepting that word from one party, say the Indian government, opens you up to having to accept the Iranian government calling pro-democracy demonstrators terrorists; to Israeli military action in the occupied territories being called "terrorism" by Hamas, an elected government. The very existence of such a category is an area where you can end up having on-wiki dispute and contributors wasting time arguing over definitions accepted by one group or another. I'll get another coffee and comment on the other suggestions there shortly; I can see a case for Category:Non-governmental violence. What's the counter describing both actions in a 'legally' declared war or police action by a state, or state forces? What would you call the Tank Man incident? Such categories will need strict rules because of the scope for dispute over their use. --Brian McNeil / talk 13:59, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
  • Piracy is a generally internationally agreed term; written somewhere into some sort of "laws of the high seas". Bombings can turn out to be a misreported explosion due to faulty equipment (and there are those will argue some governments will stick with this 'excuse' or 'claim' contrary to other evidence). Hijacking, again, has a near-universally agreed definition for the capture of ships and aircraft. These (Piracy and Hijacking) are fine within a legally accepted framework of being non-governmental armed or violent action; Terms we can clearly define as falling within Category:Crime and law are probably okay. However, where it might be more Category:Politics and conflicts there is scope for too much of a judgement call leading to a dispute. --Brian McNeil / talk 14:18, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
  • The trouble I see with Category:Non-governmental violence is that it is too broad; when does it stop fitting that category and start fitting a common criminal category? A line must be drawn or it will be cluttered with stabbings, rapes and other such newsworthy violence that is far from the intended scope. A line must be drawn, and I fear the same issues will come up with the drawing for that line. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 14:24, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

As I suggested earlier, a category named after w:War on Terrorism would be less subjective. Benny the mascot (talk) 14:59, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

I agree with Benny the mascot (talk · contribs), interestingly that particular category has existed since February 2008. Cirt (talk) 15:11, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
  • Which, on Wikipedia, states "[...] the common term for what the George W. Bush administration perceived or presented as the military, political, legal and ideological conflict against Islamic terrorism, Islamic militants and the regimes and organizations tied to them or that supported them, and was specifically used in reference to operations by the United States, the United Kingdom and its allies since the September 11, 2001 attacks. It has since been expanded beyond the Bush administration, and has included such events as the Mumbai attacks." and is tagged NPOV. I don't want to import that dispute or offer Wikinews as a forum-shopping venue for those involved in the dispute there. Many of the same general arguments against the more generic term Terrorism apply again; to populate the category would individual governments have to in some way sign up to it? I'd not dispute that you could populate Category:George W. Bush administration's War on Terrorism between when the meme was introduced and Obama taking office but, when does that end? Where do you draw the line between signatories to a transient government's slogan and definition, and other governments "jumping on the bandwagon" because the term "War on Terror" suits their PR requirements? Perhaps some people need to go back and read w:Nineteen eighty-four. --Brian McNeil / talk 15:29, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
  • Wow, I see this turned into a nasty little fight while I was away. Glad to have missed that. :-) Not to take sides or anything, but I'm of the opinion that this category is somewhat inappropriate. I'll comment here as the DR was closed. By having a category "Terrorism", we would, in a way, imply that a particular act is terrorism or that certain people are terrorists. That in itself can't be neutral, because it's entirely subjective to personal POV. Neutralizer's comments in a previous DR sum up the situation well: e.g., Islamist rebels bombing civilians in Somalia would be considered "terrorism" by many in the West, yet the US government doing the same in Baghdad wouldn't. As Brian points out above, we'd have frequent on-wiki disputes over whose definition of "terrorism" we should accept. Just because the word "terrorism" is mentioned in the title shouldn't mean that we should categorise it as such. To draw a parallel - if we had an article like McCain: Obama's health policies are "stupid", we wouldn't add Category:Stupidity to it based only because it's said in the headline, would we? That would be POV. The same goes for the Terrorism category, perhaps to a slightly lesser degree. Tempodivalse [talk] 15:25, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Let's please not rehash the deletion discussion. Cirt (talk) 15:42, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Sorry, maybe i shouldn't have. Just wanted to provide an opinion since the issue didn't seem to be totally resolved. Tempodivalse [talk] 15:49, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
  • Cirt, I'm not trying to rehash the previous discussion; what I will say is I was unhappy to see it so abruptly withdrawn; the long-ago DR influenced my stance on this. I would have preferred to see it run its course and contributors not around at that time forced to consider the arguments and write their own justifications. This is likely a discussion the project needs to periodically have, and to look at where certain parts of a conflict can be specifically defined and categorised. --Brian McNeil / talk 16:01, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
That is what this thread seems like. Cirt (talk) 16:04, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

To try and steer back to what we can do - I still like my idea of Category:Bombings and Category:Hijackings. Nobody seems to object and I do think these would be useful additions. Are there any others that need to be added? Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 16:07, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]

That sounds better, it's less subjective than "terrorism" and can probably be applied fairly neutrally. Tempodivalse [talk] 16:15, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Good ideas. Here are examples of NPOV categories, tightly defined, that are appropriate to exist: Category:Terrorism laws (articles about terrorism laws and legislation), and Category:Terrorism convictions (convictions specifically after individuals were charged with terrorism crimes). Each article has an implicit definition of "terrorism", which is external to Wikinews. Cheers, Cirt (talk) 16:17, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Can we have a note on the convictions cat you just set up saying that the charge had to be under anti-terror legislation? Just to prevent people adding convictions of random offences in circumstances people perceive as terrorism, as that would bring us right back to the unanswerable 'what is terrorism?' that started this whole thing off. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 16:20, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Done. Cirt (talk) 16:23, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
Okay, I might go ahead and start those cats, but should I leave the hijack cat as just that, and include any land vehicle hijackings (I think so, even if they're not normally terrorism they should be relevant to a hijcking cat) with a note pointing ships to the piracy cat, or should I just limit it to planes with Category:Aircraft hijackings? Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 16:26, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
I'd say the more specific the better for this sort of thing. As long as there is already enough for at least a minimum of five or more entries. :) Cirt (talk) 16:28, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]
I created an air hijack cat and populated it. A bombing category would take a lot more time and patience to sort out, though, due to the number of articles it would need to contain. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 17:10, 26 December 2009 (UTC)[reply]