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

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Volunteers still needed

Hi all,
Although we removed the centralnotice that was up, the Wikimedia Foundation is still looking for volunteers to serve as subject area experts or to sit on task forces that will study particular areas and make recommendations to the Foundation about its strategic plan. You may apply to serve on a task force or register your name as an expert in a specific area at http://volunteer.wikimedia.org.

The Foundation's strategy project is a year-long collaborative process which is hosted on the strategy wiki, at http://strategy.wikimedia.org. Your input is welcome (and greatly desired) there. When the task forces begin to meet, they will do their work transparently and on that wiki, and any member of the community may join fully in their work. This process is specifically designed to involve as many community members as possible.

Any questions can be addressed to me either on my talk page here or (for a much faster response) on the strategy wiki or by email to philippe at wikimedia.org.

I hope you'll consider joining us!

Philippe (talk) 01:49, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

Articles copied from VOA

As of late I've seen an increasing number of articles copied from VOA News. While there's no plagiarism issues as VOA is in the PD, I think repeating material from other news agencies makes Wikinews rather redundant. Any thoughts? –Juliancolton | Talk 22:10, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

Doesn't hurt. Sort of a half-step below compiling news from mainstream-media and other secondary sources, and a full-step below going out and doing original reporting. Cirt (talk) 22:12, 1 October 2009 (UTC)
I actually like the idea of copying them (preferably modifying them a little, if possible). I've wanted to start importing other news from other sites that was acceptably licensed... Why can't we be the AP of "Free news" ? --ShakataGaNai ^_^ 22:16, 1 October 2009 (UTC)
I guess I'm mostly responsible for this, as a lot of my recent articles are partially copied from VOA. The way i look at it is: although we shouldn't be too dependent on VOA for our news and become lazy, it's a good supplement to help expand our rather patchy coverage on slow days. I also find it useful when I don't have time to do a full article - i simply copy a VOA article, add a bit from other news sources, modify a bit, and put it up for review. Besides, lots of news agencies have a practise of copying some of their news from other sources or wires to supplement coverage in areas where theirs is weak (most newspapers regularly copy stuff from reuters and AP). It doesn't hurt, at the very least. Just my two pence. Tempodivalse [talk] 22:20, 1 October 2009 (UTC)
As long as the articles are neutral, and otherwise meet our critera, i don't see a problem (as long as we don't do it to the extent sr...) Bawolff 22:28, 1 October 2009 (UTC)
  • VOA stuff is perfectly fair game, and for an org in the US they are quite good for international news. I would be fully in favour of looking at what they publish and taking a feed of that with a bot to put into development here. That might mean that we only take an international feed, rather than risk being swamped with US stuff that has little outside interest. BUT, any bot doing this must clearly label the story as developing, possibly with additional warnings - such as the article fails the single-source test. I reviewed a VOA-sourced article this morning, and I suspect the work I had to do on it prior to review and publication is required for all their stuff. The Wikinews WN:SG is not the same as that used by VOA, and VOA stuff has a tendency to make assumptions we should not - like "dollar", or the dollar sign, always means USD. If they're never developed further, they'll die as {{stale}}; that could even be partially automated by inserting another template into the article that a bot recognises as meaning to delete it as stale several days after it is imported and untouched. --Brian McNeil / talk 14:58, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

Becoming a VOA repeat service, or the AP of Free News, would make me sad. We are here to write our own news; that's what I'm here to do and what I love doing. Asside from the odd local or OR piece, we'd quickly see our input reduced to copyediting someone else's stuff. I do like the idea of someone doing it, maybe even a Wikinews offshoot, but please, don't turn Wikinews into that, because it could well drive me away from the project. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 15:03, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

Without the human element of Wikinews, there would be no reason for Wikinews to exist. Figuring how to nurture that human element is a work in progress; perhaps we're gaining some ground, here and there, but we're still within easy sight of losing ground. If we were to deploy a "VOAbot" on Wikinews, then, over time, the human element of Wikinews would wither and die. Therefore its deployment would serve no useful purpose — as the thing it was being deployed on would cease to have any reason for existing. --Pi zero (talk) 16:01, 3 October 2009 (UTC)
Fully agreed. –Juliancolton | Talk 16:02, 3 October 2009 (UTC)
And, I completely disagree with this horrifically pessimistic analysis of the potential repercussions of a VOAbot. None of these stories would get published without the human element. If as you seem convinced, it would kill contribution, then the articles would all sit for a few days, and die as stale.
Instead, it is an acceptance that we can build on compatibly licensed works from elsewhere to shore up our volume of content while we have a very low contributor base. More content means more readers, which means more potential contributors. More contributors means more people who might cover non-mainstream stuff, &c. I am not in any way advocating automatic publication of VOA material. --Brian McNeil / talk 16:09, 3 October 2009 (UTC)
Further, and in response to some of the preconceptions I disagree with. I see the following with a VOAbot article:
  • The title must be downstyled, this is likely too complex to reliably do with a bot (so bot universally downstyles, forcing rename)
  • A second, independent source must be located that verifies the content of the VOA article
  • Content from other sources should be incorporated
  • The article needs adjusted to conform to our style guide - more strict than VOA's
  • VOA articles make too many US-centric assumptions that need dealt with for an international audience (eg $ is always USD)
  • The quality of VOA journalism is not stellar. They seem to employ low-to mediocre skill journalists, at least in their writing skills
This leaves a lot of scope for human input, while providing a good framework to start from. If we're not rushing to publish these as fast as possible, there is scope for participatory input - particularly from those who think VOA is U.S. Propoganda inc. --Brian McNeil / talk 16:24, 3 October 2009 (UTC)
Previous discussion on this, and rejection of people doing it manually, was to some extent based around concerns with VOA's POV. This (note the {{develop}} template comment) is an example of what you have to watch for when relying heavily on them as a source. Given that, and what our 'normal' article development process and publication criteria are, you could pessimistically import the articles and automatically label them as {{NPOV}} - that might force a real questioning of what POV the article is presenting. I would rather see something in the develop template, like "|ImportedFrom=VOA", and some text, or a summary linking to a Wikinews: namespace page, where what efforts should be made in light of potential POV concerns are explained. The problem with that, is it seems like singling out one source for discrimination and saying "they're bad because of X"; this is a concern that exists with all sources. For all other sources we do tend to pick on their text more because of copyright concerns. With the above list of points I give, what else needs added? For VOA, I would say it is certain assumptions they make - Follow the money, who funds the VOA? With the given example, a strong implication of illegal activity and a certainty in the presentation that this is the case is the POV to worry about. The same for the Indian story, "rebels" to describe pro-commie people is POV, and them using the official US-gov line, influenced by Indian authorities keen to highlight local 'terrorism', presents it in fearmongering USian terms. So, we can tell people to use Aljazeera for VOA, when they need a second source. But, I think that needs expressed in a generic way, or if individual sources are to be picked out, as "VOA is funded by the United States Government. The influence this has on their reporting must be considered when selecting additional sources; consider using sources from regions, or funded by those, outwith the circle of allies of the US Government. Long-standing US Government policy and legislation may prejudice reporting on a wide variety of topics". Sitting reading that a couple of times, and thinking of some of the other sources that get used regularly should really make all of our reviewers think long and hard about WN:NPOV. --Brian McNeil / talk 02:12, 4 October 2009 (UTC)
<- Not the worlds best template, but I did create {{Imported news}}. Could use some tweaks, but I think it might be helpful. --ShakataGaNai ^_^ 02:57, 4 October 2009 (UTC)
That's effectively a variation on one of the existing VOA tagging templates. Still seems to have the same problems/criticisms as all machine-imported articles would have. --Brian McNeil / talk 12:45, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

As an alternative to a bot that automatically turns VOA articles into developing Wikinews articles, might we be better off with a gadget that aids the manual process of starting a Wikinews article based on a VOA article? --Pi zero (talk) 22:27, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

I see that as a worse option. It requires someone actively seek a VOA story, rather than have it available here, and work through dealing with potential POV issues. As stated earlier, if the generated story is not developed it can be automatically deleted. sr.wikinews passed us on article count because of the bot approach; seeing use of such sources here (eg VOA) makes it apparent the actual process prior to publication cannot be fully automated. I'm happy to try and help random visitors who might contribute to these. And, if they see a developing story they know something about, they end up editing something that has most of the formatting right. Many potential contributors will not know you can create a page on Wikinews - you can't as a new contributor on Wikipedia. A gadget is pretty much only something for registered, and reasonably involved editors. It does require that developing stories be reasonably prominent on the main page--Brian McNeil / talk 22:52, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

VOA section break 1

What if I want to write something already imported from VOA? Will my effort be rolled into what they wrote? What if I don't want to source them at all on that particular story? Is Wikinews going to be reduced to working around VOA's POV on a large selection of articles instead of crafting our own from scratch? Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 10:03, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

  • If you want to write a completely different article on the subject, and even deliberately avoid the VOA source, I see nothing wrong with that. I'd support changing policy to label the VOA autogenerated story as depreciated if {{mergeto}} from it would be unsatisfactory (current policy is merge to oldest article on a particular story - which I see, and agree with, your concern about). --Brian McNeil / talk 12:43, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

We've been knocked out of first place

Looks like the Serbian Wikinews has knocked us out of first place as the language edition of Wikinews with the most published articles - they have 15 406 to our 15 399. We've lost our top spot on http://wikinews.org/. I'm surprised they reached it so quickly - just a month or two ago they were at 13k or so. Is this the first time that English is no longer the biggest wikinews addition? We gotta get back our top slot in any case, time for more articles everyone! Smile.png Tempodivalse [talk] 14:00, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

Wait a minute ... i looked over sr.wn's article list, and they're almost all copy-and-pastes from other news sites. No wonder they got up to the top slot so quickly. Tempodivalse [talk] 14:04, 2 October 2009 (UTC)
Milos Rancic (IIRC user Millosh) is active on sr.wikinews, and told me a little about this. They have put a great deal of work into getting arrangements with other news providers to have their material on Wikinews. Looking at this from the English point of view, I think all the big news sources we would want to make deals like this with would never agree to it. Particularly not when you look back at AP sabre rattling over bloggers copying their article ledes. --Brian McNeil / talk 15:18, 2 October 2009 (UTC)
It's not just copy and paste, it's a bot doing it completely automated. Nooooo thank you. --ShakataGaNai ^_^ 15:36, 2 October 2009 (UTC)
That's not fair! We can't compete with a bot. :-) Tempodivalse [talk] 15:41, 2 October 2009 (UTC)
I agree it is unfair to ask us to compete with a bot. I would go further and say a bot cannot make sure these articles meet our project standards, but as I state in the above section, I would fully support creation of VOAbot (talk · contribs). --Brian McNeil / talk 15:01, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

Ah, I am a Wikinewsie and I am willing to make bots for other Wikinews, too :) BTW, news which we are getting are plain news without comments; which means that in 99% articles meet standards. --millosh (talk) 20:07, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

About bot which I've created for en.wn, in the next section... --millosh (talk) 20:07, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

Millbot-SETimes

Brian asked me to create VOAbot. I may do that, but I need some time for that (probably, a couple of working days). Until that time, I've adapted bot from sr.wn which gathers information from SETimes (it is owned by US military and thus it is PD). Until user becomes autoconfirmed (three days or so), I've added under my username three news (which were under category "Albania"): Kosovo Albanians stand trial in Belgrade, Albanian Socialists continue parliamentary boycott and Topi says Albania aware of NATO responsibilities, so you may comment the content and what do you want to see inside of the article. Initial version has been made according to IRC consultations. --millosh (talk) 20:07, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

As this is a content bot, I don't suggest giving a bot flag to it. --millosh (talk) 20:07, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

Brief description of the bot is: --millosh (talk) 20:07, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

  1. It gathers RSS feed from a relevant site. For example, http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/rss/en_GB/country/Albania.rss
  2. parses RSS feed by using regular expressions. It is not nice, but it is working very well; especially if it is not about directly published news.
  3. gets from RSS links and titles; and goes to the relevant pages.
  4. parses (again, by using regex) HTML page and gets content.
  5. searches if there is the article under the same name.
    1. if article doesn't exist, it creates it and adds it in its control list; control list for October 2009 is: User:Millbot-SETimes/chronology/October-2009
    2. if it exists:
      1. it tests does that page exists inside of the current month control page
        1. if it exists, bot does nothing
        2. if it doesn't exist, bot creates page under the name like this one: User:Millbot-SETimes/existing pages/2009-10-03 19:28/Kosovo Albanians stand trial in Belgrade

So, please, add your comments here. I'll work on fixing the form during next couple of days, according to your wishes. After that en.wn will have SETimes bot. And after SETimes bot I'll work on VOA bot. --millosh (talk) 20:07, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

Note that bot's code is not so nice and I don't prefer to publish it yet. However, I'll give the code to whoever wants to have that bot from Wikinews contributors. --millosh (talk) 20:07, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

Interesting idea. One question - is there any way to get the bot only to pick up stories from the last two or so days? I noticed that a few of the "sample" articles it's created are several days old and qualify as {{stale}}, and are unlikely to be published. Also, it'd be nice if the bot could learn to make use of the {{date}} and {{haveyoursay}} templates that should appear by default in every article. Tempodivalse [talk] 20:48, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

After the first iteration, bot won't import older news. So, when bot starts with importing, it will import all recent news from RSS feed and after that it will have information that those articles were added. As it is just one-time work per one feed, I think that it is reasonable not to code that exception. However, if you think that it is necessary, I'll code it. --millosh (talk) 05:18, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

I already added {{date}} yesterday inside of the code. Where do you want to see {{haveyoursay}}? Please, make it inside of one of the articles (and, please, don't delete all of them because we need one for making the final version of bot code). --millosh (talk) 05:18, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

Also, I want to say that whenever I am making a deal with some news agency or so, I am doing so for content in all available languages. Beta News Agency has daily news in English [1] and we may import all of them (I'd have to parse their RSS more, because, unlike with news in Serbian, news in English have a couple of news inside of one entity). --millosh (talk) 05:18, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

Turned on

After last checks and some algorithm changes, as it had got autoconfirmed status, I've turned on Millbot-SETimes. It reads RSS feed every hour +14 minutes and if there are news, it puts the article here. AFAIK, there are a couple of news per week per country at SETimes, so it won't be noisy. Please, contact me at my talk page for all suggestions or problems related to the bot up to the time when general page for my content bots will be created. --millosh (talk) 10:56, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

I am continuing now to work on VoA bot. --millosh (talk) 10:56, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

For that, I think a new project namespace page will be needed. Eg Wikinews:Automatically imported news/WN:IMPORTED.
I'd structure that with some sub-pages, eg Wikinews:Automatically imported news/SETimes. Then the sub-pages can be included in the main page, and the bot's user page. That's then a 'this bot takes from source X' 'this might be the problems with source X'. So, cited quotes from press watchdog organisations &c.
As Millosh will know, I'm busy with other things at the moment. So, while I'd like to comment on what other people think about this idea, or do as a way of implementing it, I won't be. --Brian McNeil / talk 11:50, 8 October 2009 (UTC)

Meetup articles

How about writing news articles on Wikipedia meetups?--Saqib Qayyum  talk  07:35, 11 October 2009 (UTC)

As a Wikimedia bureaucrat, I would really like to see such articles :) Do you want to organize it (or you want to write just about your meetups)? Wikimedian meetups are all over the world and it would be very interesting to ask all communities to write something about their meetings. And I think that Wikinews is a good place for that. --millosh (talk) 02:54, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
Also, what do others think about publishing Wikizine at Wikinews? --millosh (talk) 02:54, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
There's been some talk on copying Wikizine to Wikinews a whiles ago, and IIRC general consensus was that it isn't newsworthy enough to be publishable here - there's even an article cleanup tag named {{wikizine}}. My personal opinion is that most wikizine material is not newsworthy enough and doesn't appeal to a broad enough audience to be suitable for Wikinews. I'm not so sure about wikimedia meetup reports though. Tempodivalse [talk] 03:02, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
Few pieces. #1 - I was trying to import Wikizine to Wikinews. It didn't go so well. #2 - Wikipedia Meetups, I highly doubt a standard meetup would be of interest. Now if it was something like "Wikipedia takes New York" where they do all sorts of wonderful things and are generally useful people, than maybe.
This really brings up a more pressing point, why are we discriminating against WMF related news on the grounds of "Notability" (Because no one ever cites any other reason). People say that the news doesn't appeal to a "Broad enough audience" (To steal tempo). There are 10 million accounts on enwp, granted not all of them active, but lets take that number. If even 1% of those accounts care about the news of the WMF, that is more than 3 times the population of w:Pleasant Hill, California which was featured a while back in "Explosion in Bay Area, California suburb damages cigarette store". We've said on numerous occasions, and have accepted, local news. Wikizine is essentially local news, except with a broader reach. I know we do WMF related stories, but take a look at "U.K. National Portrait Gallery threatens U.S. citizen with legal action over Wikimedia images". It was a great article no doubt about that, but we could have started something much sooner, or had multiple articles on the topic, BUT, and I remember this very specifically, it was said that we _will not_ cover it until it gets major media coverage. We could have had the jump on everyone else, but instead we brought up the rear of the pack.... I guess I just don't get the mentality of shooting ourselves in the foot over WMF related stories. --ShakataGaNai ^_^ 03:28, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
Not just that. Wikinews may become the leading source of information related to the Wikimedia and surrounding movements. But, it has to start with something. Wikimedia-related stories seem like a perfect starting point. Also, Wikimedia community needs its own news agency. I am frustrated a lot because there are a number of internal information initiatives (Wikipedia Weekly, Wikivoices, Wikipedia Signpost, Wikizine, Planet Wikimedia -- just to mention those in English), without any aggregator. --millosh (talk) 07:23, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
Here is one example from sr.wn. We are developing now territory-based portals, like sr:Hrvatska (Croatia) is. We have enough news for a lot of portals, but we don't have enough of contributors to take care about those portals. A couple of weeks ago I realized that we have one contributor from Kragujevac. It is, if I remember well, fourth city by size in Serbia (sixth or so if Kosovo is counted inside of Serbia). We have enough of news from Kragujevac and he is willing to make a portal about Kragujevac. It is the city with ~100.000 inhabitants. This is the size of the community of active Wikimedians. And if it is just the first step into free knowledge/software/culture area, it may be treated as the beginning of covering virtual area of a couple of millions of inhabitants. --millosh (talk) 07:23, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
So, why don't we make "Wikimedia portal"? It is much more interesting for worldwide population than any local news. And we have a lot of potential contributors. (As well as it would help a lot to Wikimedia community and thus to Wikinews, too.) --millosh (talk) 07:23, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
One more comment related to Wikizine: Since a couple of months ago, Wikinews is licensed under CC-BY 2.5, so it is compatible with Wikinews. --millosh (talk) 07:27, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
I just started this, but no idea if get published soon! Saqib Qayyum  talk  08:06, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
  1. I have little faith (sorry) in this user's contributions being credible; prior to dancing-with-renames he's played with a variety of sockpuppets, has a block history, and has outright lied about where he is in the world.
  2. Is Wikinews a blog, or a best-effort to be a credible source of news? Apart from major 'meetups' such as Wikimania I see zero real justification for this to go on the front page - or even be covered anywhere else. Every single time Wikinews does any reporting on other WMF issues, I get complaints we focus too much on that, or are actively engaged in navel-gazing. As a consequence, I try to consider such reporting as a more-widely known organisation such as the BBC would; they never report on their front page about meetups or anything like that.
  3. If there is a desire to promote such things, then by all means use the various social networking services we work with; create a periodical newsletter in the project namespace and post links to that. It is, quite frankly, useless to do a post-mortem report on meetups if we don't announce them sufficiently far in advance to allow people a chance to attend. --Brian McNeil / talk 11:18, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm not the one you talking about. Regarding meetup articles, as I stated earlier it might not be of good interest for general audience but surely for Wikimedia community however it is okay if we move it to Wikizine rather than here. but here I must say that there should something in Wikinews covering briefly on such happenings, similar to Wikipedia signpost. Saqib Qayyum  talk  16:05, 15 October 2009 (UTC) 16:04, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
Wikipedia signpost is a wholly internal publication. And you are the user I'm talking about, do I need to dig the checkuser logs out of emails and the IRC logs to show you lying about being hopping around the Middle East while still in Pakistan? --Brian McNeil / talk 16:20, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
Well, offcourse you've to confirm if you think I'm the one you talking about. If you're sure with yourself then check that with every possible manner and then come back to me. The same problem I'm facing sometimes whilst on IRC rooms and now I want to remove those blackspots and doubts on me. If you'll be right, I shall have nothing to do but leaving Wikinews. I'll be waiting to hearing from you soon. Thank you! Saqib Qayyum  talk  16:35, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
  • You know full well I cannot publicly divulge checkuser logs. I can confirm that you have on repeated occasions in the past alternated between reasonably good-faith edits while logged in, and then abusive edits or self-congratulatory remarks while logged out. No, I won't tell you how to evade being caught; and, if needed, you can challenge another checkuser to disprove my assertions. --Brian McNeil / talk 18:44, 15 October 2009 (UTC)

Citation

Is there a way to cite a book? I can only find URL cites. Marx01 (talk) 00:24, 17 October 2009 (UTC)

The closest we have to that would be {{cite journal}}; however, we generally don't cite books, so there's no real "book citation" template. Tempodivalse [talk] 00:28, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
The issue I'm having is that I want to use a textbook for getting facts about things not addressed in other sources. I have not found a more reliable source so far. Thank you for your reply and I'll hunker down and finds me some sources! Marx01 (talk) 00:34, 17 October 2009 (UTC)
{{apasource}}, {{papersource}}. As well. However they are generally discouraged if the information is readily available online, as they are hard to check. Bawolff 01:03, 21 October 2009 (UTC)

Starting an article - FAIL

Up-front on the main page are two links where a newcomer would expect to find an opportunity to start an article. The newsroom, and the Report Breaking News link in the header. Only the Newsroom has a edit form to enter an article title and start a new page, and that is 3-4 screenloads down - not exactly obvious. --Brian McNeil / talk 08:26, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

Agreed. It has to be fixed. Srinivas 10:23, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
The whole newsroom needs a complete overhaul with a serious focus on news production. I'll have a go at putting together a basic/primitive in my userspace. --Brian McNeil / talk 10:31, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
  • I have made the template at the top of the Newsroom a sub-page (see here). I would welcome feedback on that (apart from Shaka's mega-dislike in IRC). I want to see all the sort of links like this that are above the crease or in the main page header making a significant effort to try and get people to become involved and edit things. I started this section because the two most obvious links someone would click on from the main page to do this don't have an article creation box up-front and in your face. Ideas? Comments? --Brian McNeil / talk 17:07, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

Article distribution list

I have an intention (and interest) of updating this though the page is marked for archival purposes? Is there anyone who can nod the approval for me to update it? Ali Rana (talk) 04:10, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Have fun. --ShakataGaNai ^_^ 04:20, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
We always need more Africa stuff. Cirt (talk) 04:29, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Sure, update if if you want. I think it would be a useful page. Tempodivalse [talk] 13:30, 31 October 2009 (UTC)