Wikinews:Water cooler/miscellaneous/archives/2014/May

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The Wikinewsie Group

I'm not going to go into the details of conversations on IRC, most local regulars are adultsAdmins and can look at the aborted 'latest update'. It contains a great-deal of information that was not communicated to me, with only a single email on the subject since the last TWG newsletter back at the start of December.

I'm well-aware non-profit politics can be just as-much of a tarpit as any other organisation's, but I think the last thing we should be doing is rushing to incorporate. We first need to wind all the way back to about a year ago, and listen to our colleagues looking at German and Arabic Wikinews — plus those who might like to see the Hungarian Wikinews reopened.

I emailed the following text to wikinews-l yesterday:

Cquote1.svg Whither

For confidence from those who use, it isn't going anywhere. But, where next for the little bit of 'social engineering' it's been?

People in European countries are stuck with State/Interior Departments which refuse to recognise those who don't make the majority of their living from journalism as members of the press. There's the odd judicial judgement giving 'citizen journalists' the same protections and courtesy as the 'formally recognised' press; sadly, we lack the infrastructure to robustly rely on such judgements, or to indemnify people where they might-well get themselves in trouble.

Lots of things have been tried on various language Wikinews projects; those with an interest in the educational aspect of quality journalism are likely to have a really broad range of things they might regard as priorities. What might build readership, contributor levels, encourage 'more ambitious' reporting? What makes the project more-respected, even if that is solely outwith the Wikimedia 'movement'?

If we need an organisation like The Wikinewsie Group (TWG), what goals do Wikinews contributors and editors want to see it achieve? What do you, regardless of the language you call "Mother Tongue", see as the most-readily supported, and argued for, purpose of a NPoV news source? That can be the 'sausage machine' of rewriting mainstream news so "What was known at the time" goes into a freely-accessible archive, or it can be capturing the moment "On-the-spot" reporting. If you're wise, I suspect it will be both.

Please help make sure this reaches people on non-English Wikis. The needs, and perceived goals, of Wikinewsies around the world are stunningly diverse. Wherever TWG jumps in setting up and first registering, we've a messily diverse constituency to satisfy.


I've not followed BRS' lead, and bailed from TWG. It's tempting, but risks us — and the Foundation — learning nothing from the experience. I believe there are extremely sound arguments why a thematic organisation is the best solution for Wikinewsies; and, yes, that is as an NGO.

I assume AffComm shared that belief, since they recommended the Board recognise the org. However, the quality — in fact, the very existence — of communication on the matter went down the toilet after the board meeting where their recommendation was rejected. In addition to trying to bring supporters and contributors to other language projects back onboard, I'd hope AffComm and the Board might take this opportunity to remedy those failings.

The below sub-headings are intended for a free-for all discussion. Yes, it might-well be argued this should take place on Meta; however, that's just as-inconvenient as here is for people working on other language versions of Wikinews. Plus, looking at the Meta pages on TWG, discussion there appears a magnet for critics. I'm sure they'll pop up here too, but one might hope that any criticism is constructive rather than destructive. --Brian McNeil / talk 13:54, 16 April 2014 (UTC)

  • This post has been highlighted on every corresponding Cafe/WaterCooler I've been able to find. Similarly, I've emailed or posted mention of it to some of those who chose not to become involved when the proposal was first put up on Meta.
I'm disinclined to chase AffComm, or the Board for that matter, at this point in time. This is a matter for Wikinews contributors, where I believe we need to start with a clean sheet instead of preconceived organisational objectives.
That's — hopefully — not going to see all the closure proposal drama dragged back out of the cupboard; we're past that, and need to move forward. --Brian McNeil / talk 14:55, 16 April 2014 (UTC)

What has achieved

To list, contributions welcome.
  • Hosting for some web facilities, plus email.
    Email has proven the more-valuable of these, netting us far-better response rate than 'free'/ISP email addresses might.
    Maintaining web facilities has proven a slightly-problematic issue due to time constraints.
    The closed wiki has been - albeit infrequently - successfully used for several articles which went on to be deemed FA. --Brian McNeil / talk 09:29, 21 April 2014 (UTC)

Beyond the above 'basics', I think we'll need to cite access and so on which we've got through using --Brian McNeil / talk 10:52, 21 April 2014 (UTC)

I can only cite my own use of in gaining "privileged access"; not all of that has led to published articles, and it is — by-and-large — a component of social engineering which needs backed up with the confidence to act as if you're expected, and meant to be where you are.
Let me start by simply listing the FAs I've produced where I've worked from an email address. I've concocted a variety of turns-of-phrase — <cough> AKA: bullshit — which get past the first couple of lines of defence, and helped land these:
Laura has a very substantial list of sports-related stuff she's done, which should be listed rather than just feeding ammo to the Wikinews haters who have my photo on a dart board.
I've also had privileged access in a number of other situations which did not lead to FAs, or sometimes even articles. To go into too-much detail on such would be a breach of trust. However, I would encourage everyone who has held credentials to list their successes - we are looking to step up a couple of gears with a legally registered entity; we've struck a reasonable balance on 'trust, but verify' before credentialing people, we need to start being able to support them taking a few more risks. --Brian McNeil / talk 19:02, 22 April 2014 (UTC)

I've successfully been using the e-mail for «digital» interviews, such as these:

I might stress that a good article takes good knowledge of a topic, such as the interviewees (examples above) or myself (this interview partly owes to the interesting questions; local reporting as I was closely following the event; this report topic of which is again familiar as I've worked with the courts system and know a bit of their terminology and process). --Gryllida 05:36, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

Where contributors hit a glass ceiling

Invariably, that's being recognised as press.

A couple of things;

  • Transport — I don't necessarily have a car, so I'm pretty much stuck on public transport. Where I am, it may take me any where between one and three hours to get home from where I'm reporting from. --RockerballAustralia c 10:03, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
  • The question then would be: Do you have a drivers' license? What's the cost of a hire car - if practical - as-opposed to public transport; and, what's the time saving? --Brian McNeil / talk 19:29, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Divers license - yes but within a chin hair of it being suspended. Coast of hiring a car - $Au63 or there about for one day. Time saving would be anywhere between 30 minutes to a couple of hours. --RockerballAustralia c 23:20, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
  • I might notice that local reporting may scale better — nothing of this is nearly as annoying as having to fly to events regularly. Gryllida 06:21, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
  • On location internet — I probably hit this one because of what I cover and, to some extent, how I cover it. Most venues that I go to do not have a internet connection (wi-fi or otherwise). As far as I've seen, only the major venues have such a connections. Might be something to look into. --RockerballAustralia c 10:03, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
  • How is Australia's mobile Internet coverage? That's the worst-case for getting online at an event, and — much like the practicalities of transport — somewhat of an exercise in "wishing we could spend money we've not got".
Not to say such exercises are worthless; we need to have realistic figures on how much various types of reporting are likely to cost. --Brian McNeil / talk
  • Coverage goes from really good to almost non existent within a relatively short distance in some places. For example, when I was on location for this report I posted a video to Facebook - here - which I had to go outside to actually post.
It's worse out in small country towns. Barely a bar of signal. You'd really have to go to the regional city's. Even then, see the previously mentioned problem. (Though to be fair I really only get to small country towns to see my grandparents from time to time)
The coverage on the trains is a bit hit and miss. --RockerballAustralia c 23:20, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
  • I concur and note that this is a substantial issue. One could apply for wifi access for the event in advance (chances that this would actually work?), or use a laptop with USB modem and getting a Wikinewsie-ish NGO pay the wifi bills (doesn't help with weak coverage). Gryllida 06:21, 21 April 2014 (UTC)

As mentioned in the previous section, a good report comes from being closely familiar with a topic; it takes a lot of time, effort, and friction to become familiar with the context when writing news on topics I'm unfamiliar with, such as the so-called "synthesis" articles. Ideally reporters would specialize in some topics and report on them regularly at leisure, which I suspect could scale better. Gryllida 05:37, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

What benefits should an incorporated organisation bring?

Not just junkets and conferences
  • Things like The Rosetta Foundation help to translate content for NGOs within deadlines, I believe. (I participated as a volunteer translator before they moved website to TransifexTrommons, and it was mildly annoying software; after the move it should be a lot easier, although I haven't tried yet.) Gryllida 04:11, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
That's an interesting, Ireland-based, NGO. Good-deal of mission overlap. --Brian McNeil / talk 06:20, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
  • For clarity, I'd like to add that this could help to sync different Wikinews language editions output quality to a reasonable level, helping some otherwise difficult issues such as ones raised about small communities in the discussion below. Gryllida 05:34, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
  • <Insert some thoughts on funding of travel, equipment, and phone bills here>. (Things I have close to none insight in.) Gryllida 04:11, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Ability to apply for grant funding (not just from the WMF). Were we to set up here in the UK, our (not-as-yet well-defined) institutional purpose would permit application for Heritage Lottery funding. (Eg, Disability History Scotland, who have not completed charity registration, were successful with a five-figure funding application).
Is it the best choice of location? Don't know. --Brian McNeil / talk 06:20, 19 April 2014 (UTC)

General discussion

What goals, and needs, should a "mission statement" that forms part of the 'articles of incorporation' address?

Thanks to Brian for contacting me. I have not followed recent events about The Wikinewsie Group, but I am still a subscriber to the newsletter which, I suppose, has not been posted for while because Laura was busy reporting from abroad?

Anyway, I'd like to take this opportunity to add my point of view on the TWG and Wikinews in general. Exactly one year ago, I published an analysis about the prospects for Wikinews on the German equivalent to the Water Cooler (it's in German only, I hope you can read it via Translate Google). I had previously published this text on my personal blog, and after the discussion then I quit German Wikinews as did de:Benutzer:SonicR because de:Benutzer:Itu controlled German Wikinews as a sysop in an all but maniac and quite unhelpful way. The community is so small, indeed, that we cannot even hold sysop elections in a proper way because there are not enough community members to take part according to the rules set up in the beginning of the project. Any suggestion for reform was declined and contested by Itu.

To give a brief summary, German Wikinews today still is as good as dead as it was a year ago. Period. Those interested in publishing news or news-related texts become bloggers or they use the social networks for publishing their opinion online. The blogosphere is still going strong. No one would think of using a wiki for that. In this country hardly anyone knows about Wikinews at all, and there is no way to change about this shortly.

I appreciate all the effort that has gone into the relaunch of English Wikinews which I have watched from time to time. You have indeed made English Wikinews more attractive as a news portal, and as I initiated the relaunch of German Wikiversity one year ago (which finally failed) I know exactly how much time and effort goes into this, so chapeau and a very warm thank you to all of you involved! I also like your education programme which I read about in the latest edition of "This month in Education". And I like Spanish Wikinews, too, by the way.

As to the situation of, say, "citizen journalists" in Germany, I'd like to point out that the scene is about to change at this very point because bloggers and photographers are increasingly admitted to official events. E.g., I take part in press conferences at Frankfurt museums and at the Frankfurt Bookfair as a local blogger, and I regularly report about art exhibitions and other cultural events. Only yesterday, the German public radio and television station WDR at Cologne announced that part-time and volunteer journalists and photographers will in the future be admitted to press conferences, etc., after a Wikimedia Commons volunteer was turned away some time ago and Wikimedia Germany negotiated with the station. There also was a change in policy at the German federal parliament, or Bundestag, in Berlin, which now also admits bloggers reporting from committee and plenary sessions. So, there is some change happening right now which will probably lead to even more grassroots journalism in this country. However, this will not make the situation of Wikinews better because Wikinews has no community to take advantage of this. This will all go into the blogosphere and into the social networks such as Twitter, Google+, or Facebook.

I withdrew from those interested in founding the Wikinewsie group because I was no longer active in German Wikinews since April last year and because the Wikinewsie group was from the very start a group that aimed at English and Spanish Wikinews in the first place, leaving all other language versions aside. Of course, you may do so, but if you do it this way, I would rather not be a part of it, as I live in Europe. Also, as I pointed out then, the name "Wikinewsie" is not a serious name for a news reporting organisation when mentioned in Europe, or at least to a non-native English speaker which makes the name all but unusable/unfit in this part of the world. This may be different in the United States, although I cannot tell.

So, I wish you lots of luck on your way ahead. I very much hope that you will succeed in founding the group after all, in whatever way, be it a thematic organisation or a user group. And if you have any more questions or if you think I can help you further please do not hesitate to let me know. As I do not read here regularly, you might like to ping me by wikimail.--Aschmidt (talk) 01:17, 17 April 2014 (UTC)

  • English Wikinews does suffer from a low contributor base, and I am sorry to hear things have not gone well with German Wikinews. I'd certainly no intent to see TWG aimed at only English and Spanish communities, there was a convenience with accredited reporters in both language communities; however, that wasn't a deliberate attempt to exclude or restrict involvement — looking back at the TWG discussion, it's easy to see how that could've been taken away as an impression.
It's a shame there's no community and infrastructure to work with people who get press access. This is one of the points I want to see any organisation address. Less-so when it comes to push for access, but more in-terms of being able to back contributors. Right now, we need to work with a chapter for any event where there's a requirement to vouch for attending contributors. This is where my confidence in the 'blogosphere' drops off a cliff — you truly are on your own if someone decides to prosecute you. The current 'multi-organisational' structure means where Wikinews contributors are included, it is within the constraints of photography for Commons or a focus on certain content areas of Wikipedia.
TWG, or whatever name might end up being appropriate, should be where the knowledge from press-style projects ends up concentrated — there to be available to any chapter; both in checking, or providing, relevant legal protections for those working as reporters and photographers and, in acting as a central organisation which handles indemnity insurance and negotiating access. --Brian McNeil / talk 05:49, 17 April 2014 (UTC)
  • I second the «small community» problem, from my look at Russian Wikinews. Getting people to stop publish yellow propaganda takes a lot of effort, along the likes of writing a proper article daily, and even-so they reject it due to my not very coherent language style and word choice. Gryllida 10:23, 17 April 2014 (UTC)
  • These comments bring to mind some interesting issues about the various approaches to review on the various Wikinewses. As I recall from a year ago, there was an idea being floated, internally, that one mustn't bring up review because it would supposedly start some sort of war between different communities. This I think was a serious mistake, because it was one more thing promoting lack of dialog. There are really deep, interesting trade-offs in how a Wikinews project approaches review and publication; and we want to support everyone's approach, and it can only be to the good that everyone know more about the alternatives and their trade-offs. English Wikinews is, of course, vigorously pursuing the high end of pre-publication review standards, and this has very substantial advantages while, at the same time, it creates a massive workload that we're working hard to find ways to mitigate through software tools. I get the impression German Wikinews has had less luck with higher review standards, and one wonders what factors have produced different outcomes. --Pi zero (talk) 12:36, 17 April 2014 (UTC)
I've invited Crtew to give input, and should probably prod David Blackall too. I believe review is what pulled in Edu sector use of enWN. Gry highlights what I'd suspect is one of the more-valuable aspects there — teaching news literacy. If all you've read, or seen, is propagandistic? That's what you'll think news is supposed to be like. Plus commercial news, that has to pull eyeballs for advertisers, spin out crisis as-if it's a sporting match; or hype mediocre ex-pop stars from long-gone manufactured bands, and which footballer's tax-avoidance scheme they're sleeping in.
I'd suspect it's the fact that the mainstream have sold-out, and diluted the definition of news so much, that blogging becomes a credible option for Aschmidt and others; one where politicians can extend their largesse to permitting access to parliament.
I'm uncomfortable with the new media aspect of the Fourth Estate being fragmented in the way blogging tends towards. Having read the Google translation of Aschmidt's remarks, the criticism — which I'd assume is significantly aimed at deWN — can't really be faulted. Synthesis fails to be valuable to readers, if it doesn't have depth. Over time Wikipedia should acquire that depth, but is prohibited from doing so because No Original Research is an essential pillar of the encyclopedia — it keeps quacks and crackpots from stuffing it with pseudoscience.
[Aside: It looks like this discussion will need topic-split to keep it manageable.]
I noted quite some time ago that the "hide it in the edit history" of Wikipedia works to the detriment of contributor morale here. That's why we ended up with Category:Wikinewsies, and individual categories for major contributors. Blogging is a good fit for news, especially where content is often opinionated. I believe that's, largely, because collaborative production of a single news article is the exception, not the rule. Quietly tracking authorship, as enWN has done, gives contributors some self-esteem back; although, it isn't the same "prestige" level as people seem to take from anonymously contributing to Wikipedia.
However, I don't think the 'Blogosphere' is the solution to poor news literacy, to providing people with the full picture, and to keeping out the crackpots. I'd hold up The Huffington Post as an example of where blogging tends to evolve towards. The commercial pressure from advertising sees homeopathy, and other quackery, accepted and published. The overall credibility of the 'brand' then suffers significantly.
Wikinews suffers in other ways, which are more related to volume of output than to quality and credibility. I'm not ignoring Gryllida's remarks on "yellow propaganda" when saying that, I am assuming the submissions being referred to are at least a few steps up from the sources which make people see that as a 'journalistic norm'. --Brian McNeil / talk 08:14, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
I'd add, on the value of review in teaching, news literacy is part of a broader principle: starting with facts and only then tentatively building opinions upon them; a precious thing to be nurtured, in contrast to starting with an opinion or other agenda and then shopping for (or worse, inventing) "facts" to promote one's chosen agenda, which is a massively destructive force in the world today (up to and including causing wars).
Also, a shout-out for the value of review when applied to the work of veteran Wikinews reporters. Those who (rightly) sing the praises of "many eyeballs" on Wikipedia often don't appreciate how logistically daunting it is, in a news context, to guarantee even two sets of eyeballs. Reviewing veterans' reportage is relatively far less burdensome than reviewing newcomers', even though it can still be quite substantial for a major article — and it provides a considerable payback in quality and, therefore, earned repute of the project. The frequency of flubs, which can and do happen to anyone, is greatly lowered with two sets of experienced eyes, and the likelihood of feature-quality output is enhanced. --Pi zero (talk) 12:50, 18 April 2014 (UTC)

Tech News: 2014-19

07:29, 5 May 2014 (UTC)

Template:Wikinews portal on EN.wikipedia

FYI, wikipedia:en:template:Wikinews portal has been nominated for deletion -- (talk) 05:34, 12 May 2014 (UTC)

Again? --Pi zero (talk) 10:31, 12 May 2014 (UTC)
Oh, no, that's a different template. --Pi zero (talk) 10:32, 12 May 2014 (UTC)
I've left a comment at the discussion:
  • Comment Afaics, this only links to portals on English Wikinews; and on English Wikinews, portals are — for practical purposes — deprecated in favor of categories. --Pi zero (talk) 10:41, 12 May 2014 (UTC)
The nomination was, of course, made by Adam Cuerden. --Pi zero (talk) 10:50, 12 May 2014 (UTC)

Tech News: 2014-20

06:00, 12 May 2014 (UTC)

Reisbeurzen voor Wikimania 2014

Dit Nederlandstalige bericht is geplaatst in De Kroeg of soortgelijke pagina op de projecten Wikipedia, WikiWoordenboek, Wikibooks, Wikiquote, Wikisource, Wikispecies, Wikiversity, Wikivoyage, Wikinews, Commons, Wikidata, Outreach in de bestaande taalversies Nederlands, Fries, Limburgs, Nedersaksisch en Zeeuws van deze projecten.
Dit bericht is in de eerste plaats bedoeld voor mensen die in Nederland wonen.
Voel je vrij om dit Nederlandstalige bericht te vertalen in het Fries, Limburgs, Nedersaksisch of Zeeuws.
De Vereniging Wikimedia Nederland ondersteunt onder andere het werk van de vrijwilligers die op Wikipedia of een van de zusterprojecten daarvan actief zijn.

Wikimania, het grootste jaarlijkse evenement van de Wikimedia-beweging, wordt dit jaar gehouden in London, in en rond The Barbican Centre. Wil jij van 6 tot 10 augustus dit evenement bijwonen? Wikimedia Nederland stelt een aantal beurzen beschikbaar voor actieve bewerkers. Kijk hier voor meer informatie. Ad Huikeshoven (talk) 19:45, 15 May 2014 (UTC)

Travel Grants for Wikimania 2014

This Dutch entry was posted in The Pub or similar page on the project Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, Wikiquote, Wikisource, Wikispecies, Wikiversity, Wiki Voyage, Wikinews, Commons, Wiki Data Outreach in the existing language versions Dutch, Frisian, Limburg, Low Saxon and Zeeland of these projects. This message is intended primarily for people who live in the Netherlands.

Feel free to translate in Frisian, Limburg, Low Saxon or Zeeland. This Dutch post

The Society Wikimedia Netherlands include supporting the work of the volunteers on Wikipedia or any of its sister projects it operates.

Wikimania, the biggest annual event of the Wikimedia movement, held this year in London, in and around The Barbican Centre. Do you want to attend from 6 to 10 August of this event? Wikimedia Netherlands proposes a number of scholarships available for active workers. Look here for more information.
Translation curtesy of Google. - Amgine | t 20:04, 15 May 2014 (UTC)

Tech News: 2014-21

07:18, 19 May 2014 (UTC)

Tech News: 2014-22

08:29, 26 May 2014 (UTC)