Wikinews:Water cooler/policy

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

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


Everyone's Favorite News Site[edit]

At the risk of redundancy, I wish to post here another discussion of the concept that drove my proposal for a “Birds of a Feather” session for Wikimania 2017, August 9-13, in Montreal to discuss “Submissions/Building Wikinews into the premier news site worldwide”. I hope this is more complete and compelling than what I posted earlier. DavidMCEddy (talk) 20:09, 9 June 2017 (UTC)

Vision[edit]

There is an available market niche for a web site that could provide the best selection of news for everyone except the rabid ideologues. If done right, this could attract an audience as large as Google and Wikipedia.

Noncommercial[edit]

Everyone's Favorite News site could provide noncommercial news with citizen-directed funding. We need noncommercial news, because progress on many and perhaps all substantive issues facing humanity today is blocked, because every plausible countermeasure threatens someone with substantive control over the mainstream media.

Landing page[edit]

The proposed landing page for Everyone's Favorite news site would offer alternatives from hyper-local to international. Within each, users would be offered the range of available news sources. Part of this could be similar to “allsides.com”, which posts contrasting perspectives on the same issue side by side.

User interests[edit]

The defaults for user interests at Everyone's Favorite news site would be determined by geolocation and browsing history. Geolocation would be translated into a list of all the relevant political jurisdictions. Users could optionally adjust that by answering questions indicating level of interest in different topics.

Wikimedia rules[edit]

A key feature would be to promote a neutral point of view (NPOV), assuming good faith in others, and citing credible sources to the maximum extent feasible. This would involve a mix of existing news sources including minutes of meetings and official publications of organizations of all types and sizes from social and religious organizations to small businesses, nonprofits, local governmental bodies and international businesses, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the United Nations. It would also link to blogs showing contrasting perspectives, while avoiding potentially inflammatory material without reference to intelligent questions.

Consider, for example, the claims of Hutu leaders in 1994 that the Tutsis were cockroaches coming to kill all Hutus, and the Hutus therefore had to preemptively kill all Tutsis first. The claims were mostly but not entirely unfounded: Tutsi guerrillas were destroying property and killing a few Hutus. The threat was, however, massively overstated, apparently to increase the power of exiting elites, including certain international business and geopolitical interests. The result was a major humanitarian catastrophe.

We need something that will effectively counter the divide-and-conquer rhetoric of existing for-profit media, including companies like Cambridge Analytica. Appropriate responses to this threat might include creating Wikiblogs and Wikisocial, discussed below.

@DavidMCEddy: Wikipedian policies are totally unsuitable for a news project. In particular, AGF absolutely does not belong on a news site.
@Pi zero: what's AGF? DavidMCEddy (talk) 15:06, 11 June 2017 (UTC)
@DavidMCEddy: Rofl at myself. That could make my remarks a bit harder to understand, couldn't it. Asume Good Faith. --Pi zero (talk) 15:27, 11 June 2017 (UTC)
It is impossible to cover news on a project with AGF.
@Pi zero: Doesn't that depend on how you interpret AGF? To me, AGF just means maintaining civil discourse. It does NOT absolve us from the need to Trust, but verify -- and the rules for documentation are different for Wikinews than Wikipedia, as you have noted. DavidMCEddy (talk) 16:42, 11 June 2017 (UTC)
I think civil discourse is very important.
At the risk of saying something that some might consider inflammatory, I will recall that I've heard both Jews and Palestinians say of the other, "You don't understand those people: They're crazy. I think they're both right, but that does not make them any different from the rest of humanity. The human psychology behind this was eloquently described in Thinking, Fast and Slow; Danile Kahneman won the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in economics for the path-breaking researched summarized in that book.
I believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has so far proved to be intractable in part because too few on either side assume good faith on the part of the other and therefore don't have the patience to listen to the perspectives of the other. If we could get Jews and Palestinians collaborating on articles newsworthy events for en.wikinews, each assuming good faith on the part of the other, both sides might more easily see how their preconceptions color their current perceptions. This in turn could begin to build bridges toward a better future for all. (By the way, I'm a goy, married to a Jew. This crisis has run through our family for decades.) DavidMCEddy (talk) 18:27, 11 June 2017 (UTC)
There is, to understate, a lot to say about this. Hopefully I'll have a chance to expound on it sometime soon (not immediately, though, since there are things waiting on the review queue). There's the matter of why/how AGF goes wrong on Wikipedia, and there's the separate matter of why the approach used on Wikinews would not work on Wikipedia. --Pi zero (talk) 18:53, 11 June 2017 (UTC)
When I first came to Wikipedia I thought AGF was incredibly naively idealistic, and that was attractive to me — idealism is essential to a successful wiki, it's the thing that drives volunteers to passionate contribution. I couldn't imagine how Wikipedia could function; and I approached the project with humility, assuming there was something about its dynamics I didn't understand, and I should start with a blank slate, assuming nothing I'd learned elsewhere would necessarily apply, and I should patiently wait to pick up by osmosis a sense of how the place worked. By the time I came to Wikinews several years later, I was so indoctrinated in Wikipedian culture that I was shocked to discover Wikinews not only hadn't adopted AGF, but aggressively denied it; I couldn't imagine how a wiki could succeed without it. I adopted the same sort of humility as I had with Wikipedia (and with Wikibooks, in between), assuming nothing I'd learned elsewhere — including, nothing I'd learned at Wikpedia or Wikibooks — would necessarily apply, and I should patiently wait to pick up by osmosis a sense of how the place worked. A bit over a year after I arrived here, Wikinews was shaken to its foundations by a horrific social melt-down; there was very much the cyberspace equivalent of a furious torch-carrying lynch mob. It took me years to sort out in my mind what had been the underlying causes. One was that the community had been waiting to tear itself apart over the issue of AGF: the hard-news people saw AGF as totally unreconcilable with journalism — and frankly I always agreed with this in general, and my adherence to this position only became more refined as I came to understand the absolutely essential role that accumulated reputation plays in the ability of Wikinews to operate — and a crowd who had never escaped from the Wikipedian mindset, who tolerated the hard-news folks on the surface but, underneath, had (I would now assess) a deep burning resentment (sometimes edging into hatred) for anyone they perceived as questioning Wikipedian policies. I found myself in the middle of an awful mess that I didn't fully understand at the time; I understood the Wikipedian passion for its way of doing things, yet it seemed obvious to me that circumstances are different on Wikinews. I brought about a cease-fire compromise, at the time, between the hard-news and AGF factions. But the other deep underlying cause of the disaster was, in retrospect, that absence of AGF is not enough: we needed an explicit rule to provide positive guidance. After the big social meltdown, things went on for a while, but then a prominent member of the AGF crowd quit the project (mind you, this person was rather young at the time, which changes how one thinks of them now), and over the next half year or so a bunch of the other AGFers followed. This, unexpectedly, made it possible to make more progress on Wikinews infrastructure than we had been able to before, because before we were (in retrospect) spending a lot of effort just on a holding action to keep the AGFers from subverting what the project had accomplished. It has always been difficult to make progress anyway on Wikinews infrastructure because we spend so much effort on the day-to-day news production that we don't have much left for infrastructure; and coping with the Wikipedian crowd was taking up our remaining energy. Once that faction had abated, I drafted something that articulated explicitly the principles that, I came to understand (remember, I'd spent years by this time studying to grok the project's dynamics), had always underlain the hard-news faction; frankly, I think if Wikinews:Never assume had been in place beforehand it would have prevented the specific disaster aforementioned (though the hard-news/AGF factions were probably always going to come to blows sooner or later).

Later, the same user who had led that first exodus from the project was also centrally involved in starting a "fork" of Wikinews. The fork failed. I actually wished them well; they had the opportunity to pursue their ideas about how to do wiki-based news, and we had the opportunity to pursue ours. Not to put too fine a point on it, theirs failed, and we're still here. Imho this was inevitable, because what they stood for was basically a negative — not insisting on checking against the sources before publication. We had the passionate ideals (remember I said a volunteer project needs those?). Oddly, since their stated philosophy rejected our philosophy and favored an inclusive publication policy, from what I hear they copied much of our technical infrastructure but not our article archives. Late in the game, seeing that we were continuing (at a reduced level), and perhaps observing my extensive activity here, one of the folks at the fork invited me to come contribute to the fork; I don't actually remember how I declined, though I certainly hope I was as gracious about it as they were. I do think they had it backwards, though; it wasn't that people contributing passionately caused the Wikinews philosophy to succeed, but that the Wikinews philosophy caused people to contribute passionately. It was vastly easier to get things published on the fork project, but why would people want to do so?

One thing both factions — ultimately, the Wikinewsies and the forkers — agreed on was the we need to make review eaiser. The fork tried to solve the problem by not doing the work (I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but I think it's one of those things that really isn't an exaggeration even though it sounds like one); that fails, massively, because it misses the point of doing journalism at all (and, ultimately, misses the definition of what journalism is — I really, really want to write up my views on Wikinews for you, and I even started a first draft of it a while ago, but I'm still not there yet — see my earlier comments on day-to-day news production versus infrastructure). My alternative is to make a very simple, technically "small" enhancement to wiki markup that's a total game-changer because it makes it possible for wiki communities to grow, by crowdsourcing, semi-automated tools that make tasks easier without diminishing their human element. And apply that technique to build semi-automated assistance for both reviewing and writing Wikinews articles. There are lots of nuances on this. For example, I used to think we would want to address the difficulty of writing (with an article wizard) first, but I've since realized we need the review tools first — because frankly, despite the difficulties, we have more demand for review than we have supply, already. Don't make the mistake, btw, of thinking that some articles don't get reviewed before they go stale because we need more review labor; that's not the case. I remember times when we had more review labor available and still lost some articles that way. There is a lot of demand for what we do here at Wikinews (contrasting with the fork), and, given a reasonable level of consistently available review labor, submissions will afaics always increase until they exceed it. Another nuance is that, to be blunt, the Wikimedia Foundation must not be allowed to have any creative control over this. They have always been rather aggressively unfriendly to news (not that they necessarily understand that that's what they're doing), and I suspect their deeply mistaken priorities actually make them aggressively unfriendly to wikis in general (which they almost certainly don't understand they're doing). There's a bit about my thoughts on that, in broad terms, at User:Pi zero/essays/vision/sisters.

Btw, back when the big controversies were raging here, and for some time thereafter, I used to try to take a "relativistic" attitude toward AGF, maintaining that it's right for Wikipedia at the same time that it's deeply wrong for Wikinews. I struggled and struggled to explain that, and eventually came to the conclusion it's not true; that AGF has been a slow poison to Wikipedia, and its long-term effects there are one of the reasons the Wikipedian social atmosphere has become so toxic. --Pi zero (talk) 13:56, 11 June 2017 (UTC)

@Pi zero: I'm confused: When "the Wikipedian social atmosphere" is toxic, doesn't that mean that people are NOT assuming good faith on the part of others, and are failing to push the need to write from a neutral point of view citing credible sources? DavidMCEddy (talk) 18:39, 11 June 2017 (UTC)

Low acceptance rate on Wikinews[edit]

Wikinews strives with reasonable success to offer well-written, credible news that has attracted an audience.

It has a problem, however, with the low number of articles accepted; Between May 29 and June 9, 2017, they published 11 articles -- roughly one per day.

The English-language Wikinews has published only 0.8 percent of the articles submitted; internationally, only 6.4 percent of submissions have been published (as of 2017-04-28). One suspects that most of the unpublished submissions represent potential contributors, who will on average write less for Wikinews in the future.

I believe that Wikinews could get more submissions without sacrificing quality if the current articles were listed as “Featured” or “Front page”, and articles that are currently rejected are instead redirected somewhere with lower standards -- but not rejected.

The reason for rejection would determine how an article might be redirected. If it's not sufficiently timely or not well written or not likely to attract a sufficiently broad audience, I think it could and should be accepted for “Back pages”. As long as the article is otherwise NPOV citing credible sources, second-tier acceptance would acknowledge the contributor's efforts while encouraging a better effort on future submissions by explaining why this was not “Front page” news. No journalist expects every article to appear on the front page. And there is a huge difference in career motivation between writing for back pages and writing for a trash can.

In addition, some of the articles on these “Back pages” might help future researchers and criminal investigators searching for hints of problems that later become important. This might be compared to astronomy, where amateurs are making important discoveries by monitoring variable stars, tracking asteroids and discovering transient objects, such as comets and novae.

Another reason for publishing “uninteresting” stories could be to help deter questionable activities.

Consider, for example, the “City of Bell scandal”: Bell, CA, is a city of roughly 35,000. Just over a decade after the local newspaper died, they made the front page of the Los Angeles Times: The city was near bankruptcy in spite of astronomical property tax rates. The city manager was by far the highest paid public servant in US history, as far as anyone could tell: His annual compensation package was over a million dollars a year, over double that of the President of the United States. The assistant city manager and most of the city council also had compensation packages substantially above those of comparable positions elsewhere.

If citizen journalists had been writing reports of the boring city council meetings in the early 2000s, the city manager might not have been so bold as to push for such outlandish compensation. The serious problems that arose would likely have been caught earlier. Without those problems, many of the reports might have remained boring but still necessary. (Some of those reports might have included items of interest to locals but not a wider audience.)

Other “uninteresting” reports might later provide a baseline to help concerned citizens or prosecutors identify the origins of some subsequent official malfeasance.

And even without that, citizen journalists attending and writing about uninteresting meetings learn what to look for and write about in the future. Then when something interesting happens, they may be better equipped to see it and describe it in terms that are clear, concise, and compelling -- and to do so more quickly, because of the greater experience in writing.

Wikinews policy does not preclude local stories. See WN:Newsworthiness. My earlier remark (above) has something to say about cause and cure for our publication rate. --Pi zero (talk) 14:00, 11 June 2017 (UTC)

Wikiblogs[edit]

Articles that qualify as editorials could be referred to a new Wikimedia project that might be called “Wikiblogs”. Articles there would still have to meet the standard of writing from a neutral point of view citing credible sources. This might be accomplished with an effort to pair contributors with very different perspectives on the same or similar issues: If each can assume good faith in the other, they could together produce something far better than either could alone. Both the collaboration and the resulting article could build bridges for the resolution of conflicts that might otherwise be virtually intractable.

Blogs have no value journalistically. See my remarks above on incompatibility of AGF with journalism. --Pi zero (talk) 14:02, 11 June 2017 (UTC)
@Pi zero: So? Blogs don't have to be journalism: Wikiblogs could serve multiple purposes, e.g.,:
  • A rejection in Wikinews currently discourages future contributions by that individual. If an article is referred to Wikiblogs and can meet reasonable standards for that, the contributor might be more likely to write something else in the future that might meet Wikinews standards.
  • Contributors to Wikiblogs should still be required to acknowledge contrary evidence and avoid inflammatory language. What they learn while meeting Wikiblogs standards may encourage them to write something later that fits the Wikinews criteria.
  • Wikiblogs could encourage people to ventilate about issues that concern them in an environment that pushes them to read and cite material produced by their opposition while suppressing inflammatory rhetoric and looking for other evidence.
  • For all these reasons, we help people see other sides to their concerns. That in turn could help build a foundation for conflict resolution in addition to training future Wikinesians.
  • By the way, I'm 2 for 4 with Wikinews. My first failure got stale, because I misread reviewer(s) comments. When I finally went back to check, the piece was no longer timely. If it could have still been considered for a "back page" or Wikiblogs, I might have been more encouraged to try to write more for Wikinews. My last failure was late before I started. I wrote it, because I felt it was important, and I had finally cleared enough "urgent" items from my list of priorities to find time for that. If that could have been accepted someplace, it might have made some of my other work in that area easier. DavidMCEddy (talk) 19:26, 11 June 2017 (UTC)
An actual blog has no standards, to speak of, and has no educational merit and doesn't belong on the wikimedia sisterhood. People can blog elsewhere; wikimedia is not a web host. If you're talking about something with standards, but less than Wikinews's, then you're actually talking about lowering Wikinews standards. Which does not work, and in that case issues of journalism certainly are relevant. --Pi zero (talk) 20:01, 11 June 2017 (UTC)

Wikisocial[edit]

Social media have become too important to be ignored. People should be able to share with friends whatever they want in an environment that does not make them a target for exploitation, as long as it's not inflammatory.

The world needs and can easily afford a social media platform that flags and appropriately challenges hate speech. The Wikimedia Foundation could offer a new “Wikisocial” project to respond to this need.

Other social media cultivate and amplify racist, sexist, and homophobic perspectives within internally homogeneous groups that too seldom get challenged. These groups are identified and exploited by companies like Cambridge Analytica, who manage to convince millions of people to do things contrary to their best interests.

Every media organization in the world
sells changes in the behaviors of its audience to its funders.

Google and Facebook are no exception: They make money through advertising and are subject to the commercial imperatives of other media organizations: It's not smart to bite the hands that feed you. It's not good business to let too much information pass that might offend major advertisers.

Of course, if Google and Facebook were too blatant about their commercial nature, they'd lose audience. Still, they have a conflict of interest in blocking ads, infomercials, and other material submitted by organizations like Cambridge Analytica.

We can do better with citizen-directed funding for media, which is essentially how the Wikimedia Foundation works.

Comments? Thanks, DavidMCEddy (talk) 20:09, 9 June 2017 (UTC)

Wikisearch to respond to the commercial pressure on Google[edit]

A lion will not become a vegetarian. Google's business model, like any other commercial media organization, is selling changes in the behaviors of its users to its funders. Google was recently fined €2.42bn for anti-competitive practices.

Small businesses compete on price and quality. Their advertising is more benign than advertising by much larger organizations, because larger organizations compete primarily on control of the media and the political process and only secondarily on price and quality. For more, see v:Winning the War on Terror.

Fortunately, it should be relatively easy and cheap to produce a comparable service with citizen-directed funding. Enough is known today about the techniques Google uses to produce a version that is simultaneously simpler and cheaper to code and operate. This could be done using free, open-source software (FOSS) that would help educate the public while making it even easier to generate healthy competition among search services.

I know absolutely none of the details of Google's operation. However, it's clear that part of their code is required to allow them to make money selling advertising. A "Wikisearch" would not need that part of Google's code.

A "Wikisearch" might want to invest more than Google in filtering for sexism, racism, and xenophobia of almost any variety. Questionable content should be flagged as such but not suppressed and should to the maximum extent feasible be presented with contrary material. This could help reduce the Balkanization of international society, discussed in the next section. DavidMCEddy (talk) 18:57, 29 June 2017 (UTC)

Beyond this, the future of humanity may depend on growing an honest search capability coded in free, open-source software (FOSS) that provides an effective alternative to Google: Otherwise, Google's financial imperatives will eventually overwhelm their unofficial slogan,"Don't be evil." A lion will not become a vegetarian. DavidMCEddy (talk) 09:47, 2 July 2017 (UTC)

Wikianalytica countering the Balkanization of the body politic[edit]

Organizations like Cambridge Analytica have reportedly used microtargeting to amplify and exploit the Balkanization of the electorate. The chief executive of Cambridge Analytica bragged about having "somewhere close to four or five thousand data points on every individual [in the US]. ... So we model the personality of every adult across the United States, some 230 million people (url=http://news.sky.com/story/behind-the-scenes-at-donald-trumps-uk-digital-war-room-10626155 ). Other sources suggested this helped win the Brexit vote: It would be naive to assume that this is limited to the US nor to Cambridge Analytica.

On June 19, 2017, multiple news outlets reported that Upguard, Inc. found that data on 198 million Americans had been publicly available on an unsecured server for some portion of the time between June 1 and 19, 2017. If criminals specializing in identity theft obtained that data, it could create serious problems for up to 198 million Americans. The most important part of this story for this discussion is that it documents that the Republican Party had contracted with firms like Deep Root Analytics, TargetPoint Consulting, and Data Trust to compile these data for use in the 2016 elections. (See, e.g., "url=https://theintercept.com/2017/06/19/republican-data-mining-firm-exposed-personal-information-for-virtually-every-american-voter/ ).

The good news from this is that if microtargeting can be used to divide and conquer an electorate]], other organizations could use the same or similar tools to facilitate honest communications and nonviolent conflict resolution in ways that also reduce political corruption and increase the prospects for peace, democracy, and broadly shared economic growth. DavidMCEddy (talk) 21:53, 23 June 2017 (UTC)

Missing submission number[edit]

Seems that the submission lacks a number, needed for chance of acceptance. Without it, the submission can't be accepted. There is another submission, which has a number, but... it's a poster presentation. Nevertheless, it's receiving good acceptance ratings. Don't expect lectures about Wikinews anytime soon there. --George Ho (talk) 06:35, 12 June 2017 (UTC)

Thanks for this. Yesterday I received an email from a member of the review committee suggesting they are still looking at it. I got the impression that there's still a good chance it will make it onto the schedule. I see my submission is not currently on your "Submission Review" list. However, I don't think it's too late for you to add your name to the "Interested attendees" section of "wm2017:Submissions/Building Wikinews into the premier news site worldwide". DavidMCEddy (talk) 12:29, 13 June 2017 (UTC)
The link doesn't work. May I change m to wm2017? As for the question, I can't afford a trip, but thanks anyway. --George Ho (talk) 20:20, 17 June 2017 (UTC)
Thanks for explaining that the link was broken and how to fix it. DavidMCEddy (talk) 21:19, 23 June 2017 (UTC)

Sending referrer information from Wikinews to external links[edit]

Currently, the English Wikipedia community has decided to no longer allow the referrer info (one of diffs) from en.wikipedia to external links. Id est that community chose the "silent referrer" option. What about us of English Wikinews community? We have used links for every article. How can we handle the referrer issue here? How much info should we send to those external websites? More at meta:Research:Wikimedia referrer policy and meta:Research talk:Wikimedia referrer policy#Proposal: be a silent referrer (taken from that discussion). --George Ho (talk) 23:21, 17 June 2017 (UTC)

ArbCom elections[edit]


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I propose the same dates, rules, procedures as in 2016. (See WN:Water cooler/policy/archives/2016/July#ArbCom elections, Wikinews:Arbitration Committee/2016 election.)

The community must agree on all election procedures by July 1, and election committee members by July 10.
The deadline for nominations is 2000 UTC July 17.
Voting will take place from 2000 UTC July 18 to 2000 UTC July 30. Questions and comments may be made during that time period.
Since the incumbent members' seats expire on August 3, the election committee will declare the winners on about July 31, and the new term begins after declaration. Should any case be before the ArbCom at election time, the current committee continues to sit after turnover on cases that started under the current committee. Any new case after turnover is for the new committee.

As worked well for the past several years, I strongly recommend the committee not create a page for "questions for all candidates"; questions for each candidate should be located under that candidate. This is the way things have been done in all but two previous elections; once there was no place for questions at all (the undesirability of this is obvious, I hope), and once, five years ago, we had a page for questions for all candidates, and it turned into a political circus and an ordeal for the nominees (en.wn ArbCom is a judicial body, so should be scrupulously apolitical). I'm not the only one who experienced the circus five years ago and came away from it with a powerful conviction it should not be allowed to happen again.

We need at least two people for the election committee. Volunteers? --Pi zero (talk) 03:19, 24 June 2017 (UTC)

  • Count me out. I don't have enough experience to be an arbitrator. One question: What would happen to ArbCom service when no one volunteers? Would it be suspended? --George Ho (talk) 04:10, 24 June 2017 (UTC)
BTW, the years are incorrect. It's "2017", not "2000". --George Ho (talk) 04:12, 24 June 2017 (UTC) Oops, my bad. --George Ho (talk) 05:12, 24 June 2017 (UTC)
2000 means 8 PM (UTC).
acagastya 05:02, 24 June 2017 (UTC)
Gryllida, pi zero, if I can nominate candidates for the election committee, let's keep it like last year. Okay with that?
acagastya 10:59, 24 June 2017 (UTC)
@Acagastya: I take it the election rules are okay by you?

If last year's election committee members are willing to serve; that would be Gryllida and Bddpaux. --Pi zero (talk) 11:45, 24 June 2017 (UTC)

Pi zero, you were in the election committe last time? The election comittee members can't participate in the ArbCom, can they? (Forgot to mention Bddpaux. ) let me have a look, I don't remember the rules.
acagastya 12:16, 24 June 2017 (UTC)
@Pi zero: I would like to discuss about this, probably on IRC.
acagastya 12:37, 24 June 2017 (UTC)
@Acagastya: No, I have never been on the election committee. I'm on ArbCom, and I often help out with routine tasks during the election (which greatly reduces incidental burdens on the election committee; their central responsibility is certifying the election, and, very rarely, making rulings on unusual situations). --Pi zero (talk) 12:49, 24 June 2017 (UTC)

I'm concerned about the ArbCom process. Last year's election rules are too rigid. The ArbCom hasn't taken one case for a whole year and doesn't have its own Enforcement and Clarification/Amendment system. Also, some of its members have been inactive for almost one year. Is ArbCom worth preserving? --George Ho (talk) 22:30, 24 June 2017 (UTC)

ArbCom is essential. It keeps us independent. It performs functions behind the scenes, from time to time. And it exists to be called upon when needed. Letting it lapse would be disastrous. Btw, Wikinews ArbCom is a judicial body; there's no need for me to critique en.wp ArbCom here, but by comparison ours is far less interventionist. And the members don't have to be actively editing to be valuable (I recall the times I've served jury duty, they emphasize the valuable function that jurors play by being available, even if they don't get impaneled). --Pi zero (talk) 23:00, 24 June 2017 (UTC)

Pinging KTo288 and Bawolff for invitation. --George Ho (talk) 00:32, 25 June 2017 (UTC)

Is there a page where I could read up on Wikinews ArbCom's duties and responsibilities, maybe cases and policies that they've handled in the past? I think that would provide me with some needed perspective. If you know an especially instructive one, I'd like your recs too. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:03, 27 June 2017 (UTC)
@Darkfrog24: ArbCom was most actively used early in its existence. Only a few cases have actually been heard. I'm not sure how much of a sense of those cases one can get from the archives (at WN:Requests for arbitration); I saw one of those happen, and it seems to me that the context of the thing doesn't easily come through from the archive, but I can't readily put myself in the position of someone who didn't have the first-hand experience. A particularly disastrous variation in the election process, which I feel I can criticize as I survived it, took place in 2010, when the election pages were set up in a way that encouraged asking questions broadside of all candidates; it created a huge politicization of the process that had (I gather) never happened before on Wikinews and certainly hasn't happened since; it was really quite nastily exhausting. One of the questions was about the ArbCom case that had happened earlier that year; my own take on that ArbCom case is there (I recall that I thought I saw a solution at the time, but I don't recall what it was, and the whole matter ceased to be remotely of interest to the community shortly thereafter). Once I actually became an Arb, I found that from time to time, quite irregularly, someone from outside the project — either someone with the Foundation, or someone from another sister project — needs to contact someone highly trusted, and with some authority, on en.wn, and they contact an Arb. General principles are described (not succinctly) at WN:Arbitration Committee; there are some significant bits there if one looks carefully for them, e.g. I'd say WN:ARBCOM#Number of members and tenure is a particularly high-information-density section. --Pi zero (talk) 13:50, 27 June 2017 (UTC)

I am also concerned about the "need" for an ArbCom on this wiki. There were only 3 voters in last year's elections - even fewer than the number of members. And most of the current ArbCom was inactive then, and only one current member has made more than 3 edits in 2017 on en.wikinews. It sounds like this is more trouble than it's worth, and is bureaucracy to sustain bureaucracy. --Rschen7754 18:29, 27 June 2017 (UTC)

Thank you, Rschen7754. Glad I'm not the only one. Election committee, you're not gonna nominate less than active users, are you? --George Ho (talk) 00:08, 28 June 2017 (UTC)
ArbCom is not bureaucracy on Wikinews. ArbCom is (amongst other things, notably including being our judiciary body of last resort) an essential safeguard against the project being destroyed by outside bureaucracies that are dangerously clueless about news. --Pi zero (talk) 01:12, 28 June 2017 (UTC)
Um... I want to say something about non-Wikipedia projects, like Wikibooks. However, I can't... not yet. About "news"... what's your definition of "news"? Major competitive newspapers have broader coverage of everything, like local news, national news, world news, op-eds, TV listings, celebrity news, etc. To me, "news" is... something new and current or ongoing. Anything special or something... Well, newspapers have interviews, so... that's new, right? Meanwhile, the Newsrooms have several articles awaiting review right now. The meaning of "news"... well, newspapers can bring up something old but make the story new. I wonder about Wikinews... --George Ho (talk) 02:26, 28 June 2017 (UTC); mostly struck, 16:16, 28 June 2017 (UTC)
"notably including being our judiciary body of last resort" - when the last case request is from over 5 years ago, is this venue really necessary anymore? Especially considering that much larger projects don't have an ArbCom. "ArbCom is an essential safeguard" - how can it be a safeguard, if there is only one active user on it, and 3 editors have voted on the candidates (thus not giving it much standing)? And finally, without copy-pasting from WN:AC, what specifically has this ArbCom done in the last year? Is there a mailing list where discussions take place? Are there official statements that are made on behalf of it? etc. I wonder if there is more time spent setting up the elections and finding enough candidates to run than to officially discharge the duties. --Rschen7754 02:38, 28 June 2017 (UTC)
@Rschen7754: You're going right down the line of Wikipedian misconceptions/misrepresentations about Wikinews. I could spend several times the length of your post just pointing out your misconceptions, sentence by sentence; but I have a principle that when the density of misapprehensions gets that high it's no longer reasonable to try to correct them all, one oughtn't try. (The BS about "1 active user" does suggest either remarkable ignorance of how en.wn works, or deliberate trolling. The lack of a clear way to distinguish the two is part of the reason for the discussion cut-off threshold: an anti-Wikinews troll would love for me to waste long hours sparring with them instead of doing productive work on the project.) --Pi zero (talk) 04:00, 28 June 2017 (UTC)

((edit conflict))

George Ho; you demand a lot from the project that is a collaboration. The editors here work hard. And you want us to invest all of our time on Wikinews? Were you on the project last year, when Pi zero used to stay up all night to tackle all of the articles in the RQ? Were you on the project when he helped the newcomers help understand how to do things? Were you there when he tackled "On the campaign trail in the USA" articles? Do you know how much he has contributed to this project? It is easy for authors to blame the reviewers when they don't find their article edited hours after submission. I felt that. But you have no idea how much responsibility a reviewer has to carry, and how much responsibility an admin and b'crat would have. Do you know Pi zero is still working now, reviewing, when he was supposed to sleep. Do you know anything from the lives of the other Wikinewsies? I have seen many people criticising Pi zero, but George Ho, I tell you one thing: Pi zero, even with the project responsibilities, does better even if there were ten George Hos.
ArbCom exists to solve the dispute, not to create dispute to show there is a need for ArbCom. Just like the Supreme Courts does not exist to create some cases and work on it to show that a court is important, it exists to solve any dispute. Do you hear anything about the court cases when there are no pending cases? Think about a court on taluka level. Is ArbCom "necessary" if the last case was five years ago? You never know you need it tomorrow. You don't build hospital after people fall sick.
From what I understand; neither of two understands the role of ArbCom.
acagastya 04:12, 28 June 2017 (UTC)
@Pi zero:: I looked at the list of six arbitrators, and only one has made more than 5 edits after December 31, 2016. If you are looking at a different measure of activity, then please clarify what it is, rather than resorting to personal attacks. --Rschen7754 05:33, 28 June 2017 (UTC)

┌─────────────────────────────────┘
Lack of activity? What will a judge do if there is no pending case? ArbCom is there to resolve dispute. Writing a news article has nothing to do with being a member of the committee. It is up to them if they wish to write/review an article, this is a volunteer project. People are free to write what they like. Nobody can force them to write anything. William S. Saturn, who writes bout the presidential elections wrote On the campaign trail in the USA articles each month. Have you even seen the size of those articles? Do you know how valuable those articles are? Just drawing a line after 2016 to waste everyone's time? I don't understand why do you care of what Wikinews does, when you don't edit Wikinews? Instead of wasting everyone's time, why don't you write some articles, understand the infrastructure, and try to figure out how things work here?
acagastya 05:50, 28 June 2017 (UTC)

(You know, acagastya, I remember brianmc challenging a troublemaker to try writing some articles, once; up till then they'd just been mouthing off in comments space, but they then turned rather quickly into possibly the single nastiest troll we've ever had, receiving a community ban from en.wn. I'm pretty sure brianmc never again invited a troublemaker to write articles.) --Pi zero (talk) 06:07, 28 June 2017 (UTC)
I see, that is the reason why they don't want ArbCom to exist. Now it is clear. They are bored, and want to have fun. I feel sorry for them.
acagastya 06:16, 28 June 2017 (UTC)

I apologize for comparing newspapers to Wikinews, implying success. Rereading and skimming one of past discussions, I have mostly forgotten that Wikinews doesn't have to be like other newspapers. Therefore, I struck out the whole comment. About Wikinews itself... I wish I could write more stories, but I have been busy with other projects lately. Seeing stories at Newsroom, I figured that Wikinews can still thrive. I guess the "newsworthiness" has become perennial, so I also struck out that part out. Still, "Wikipedians" are mentioned. In their defense, I figured that most Wikipedians don't find Wikinews useful (probably due to its structure), so they created articles about current events at Wikipedia lately.

I appreciate your defending Pi zero and thankless efforts on helping Wikinews survive. And I thank you for your efforts on helping out the ArbCom. Just wondering... for future's sake, if a troublemaker tries to volunteer as an election committee member, would that troublemaker successfully or unsuccessfully wreck or corrupt the ArbCom? About "last year"... I was preoccupied with mostly Wikipedia. Also, I'll email you soon, acagastya (left un-pinged/unlinked intentionally). --George Ho (talk) 16:16, 28 June 2017 (UTC)

@George Ho: In the time I've been here, we've never had a bad-faith volunteer for the election committee. I've always kept it in mind (healthy paranoia being implicit in WN:Never assume). Also in that time we've never stood on ceremony about volunteers for the election committee, but if there were actually a problem, we would object and not let them on. There is, of course, a good reason for having at least two on the election committee.

Btw, a point that perhaps bears emphasis: I admit to putting much effort into keeping Wikinews going, but I haven't been doing it to preserve the status quo; a condition for undertaking it was to have a long-term plan to bring about broad growth of the project and render myself unnecessary to its support.

@Rschen7754: Despite all, I still would prefer not to end this on such a sour note. In the interests of communication (though not, necessarily, popularity):
  • To be clear: the size of other projects that don't choose to have an ArbCom is irrelevant to the situation of en.wn.
  • As Acagastya has remarked, I'm not the only active Arb, though I might place two caveats on that. The lesser caveat is that I believe I did read your original "one active user" remark differently than it was intended (I admit to being vary wary after a long tradition of nasty characters who wanted to dismantle/gut Wikinews, without understanding it, based on Wikipedian assumptions that are nonsensical for a news wiki). The greater caveat is that "active" has different dynamics on en.wn than on en.wp and, moreover, there's a deeper notion one might call on-project reputation that has profound import on en.wn and really doesn't exist deeply on en.wp — the project structure of en.wn is tuned to collect and amplify reputation information about users, and it's clearly worth a hefty essay that I've been mulling over for years but am still not yet ready to write. Re activity itself, contributions at en.wn are by nature in larger units and therefore likely to be spaced further apart, as well as being not at all straightforwardly related to edit-count (it wouldn't be surprising to have a reporter write an article in two edits, a reviewer make twenty or thirty edits while reviewing it, and those numbers say nothing at all about who spent how much more or less effort on it). Arbs might or might not be active — as also remarked, active news production isn't part of the job description — but they've got the reputation thing.
  • In the past, the question of the value of en.wn ArbCom moving forward has been discussed by Wikinewsies of Arb-worthy repute, and one of the prevailing arguments (one of) was that in the long term, we have aspirations to grow, perhaps massively, and ArbCom is something we want to have already in place when that happens.
  • I think you're too eager to make accusations of "personal attacks".
--Pi zero (talk) 18:48, 28 June 2017 (UTC)
@Pi zero: The statement that I had "either remarkable ignorance of how en.wn works, or deliberate trolling" was completely unnecessary. I believe that I asked several legitimate questions that were replied to with unnecessary personal commentary instead.
  • I appreciate the point about William S. Saturn, but even so, there are three current arbitrators who are very inactive. I am trying to avoid naming names, but I notice one arbitrator who has made zero edits to article space since 2011, another since 2012, another since 2014. If active editors were being appointed to your Arbitration Committee, then I would have fewer concerns, but the "community" of 2-3 editors elected these inactive candidates in 2016.
  • I believe that holders of advanced rights or any committee-level position on any Wikimedia site should be active, and if they are not willing to be, they should resign or be removed. That was my primary activity when I was a steward, and I still advocate for removing inactive rights holders on many wikis. Besides the security risks and added confusion, it leads to an unhealthy perception of "lifetime adminship", bad admin behavior, and poor decisions after having lost touch with the purpose of Wikimedia (which is related to content, not "lifetime adminship").
  • For what it's worth, I do appreciate your efforts - for one, you're deleting most of the spam. --Rschen7754 00:35, 29 June 2017 (UTC)
<shrugs> You apparently believe that you know all you need to know about the situation, and that that plus good faith suffices. Unfortunately it doesn't suffice, due to the nature of what you don't know. The basic outlines of the missing understanding have been presented to you, and you have, as far as one can tell, ignored what you were told. There are more and less cushioned ways to say that; given the air of hostility I have perceived about your comments from the start, I've not been inclined to cushioned phrasing. --Pi zero (talk) 01:17, 29 June 2017 (UTC)
I understand, but I do not agree with what you said. Unfortunately, I think we will have to agree to disagree. --Rschen7754 03:45, 29 June 2017 (UTC)
Regarding agreeing to disagree... I agree. (I'm bemused to consider how meta a conversation has to get before "I understand" becomes an ambiguous phrase.) It's kind of amazing to me I'm still on wikimedia at all, after all these years, since I don't like to disagree with people. It's sad enough to realize that some people don't share my desire to coexist peacefully; even sadder to realize that sometimes people interested in peaceful coexistence still can't agree. But I'll grant the latter is better than the former. --Pi zero (talk) 11:25, 29 June 2017 (UTC)

Just wondering... Other than main purposes (i.e. providing news), how else is Wikinews any different from other non-Wikipedia projects without ArbCom? --George Ho (talk) 01:59, 29 June 2017 (UTC)

This seems an overly broad question as stated, although I think I sort-of understand the intent behind it. I still owe DavidMCEddy an overview of Wikinews. ---Pi zero (talk) 00:45, 2 July 2017 (UTC)
On its face, I don't think George's question is stupid, for what that's worth....but I will say that I/we/many hope (and have hoped for a while) that EN:WN would NEVER turn into a place where childish, pedestrian bickering takes over as badly as it can at EN:WP. The are A LOT of people over there who really don't know what this is over here. We grab the news, we write the news, we publish the news--that's all, that's it, nothing more. Having an ArbCom does allow some sort of body to exist to potentially adjudicate (for lack of a better word) potential disputes. --Bddpaux (talk) 15:53, 6 July 2017 (UTC)

Pages created.

--Pi zero (talk) 00:45, 2 July 2017 (UTC)


Voting is now open. We have seven nominees for six slots. --Pi zero (talk) 20:14, 18 July 2017 (UTC)

Linking to papers if it's also used as a source[edit]

On Astronomers reveal discovery of the hottest gas giant exoplanet known yet, the paper was linked under the External links section. However, in Astronomers discover smallest known star, the relevant paper was used as a source, so it was included in the source section. Since it's still the main paper of interest, should it be duplicated in an External links section, or simply left in the Sources as it currently is? -- numbermaniac 14:49, 15 July 2017 (UTC)

@Numbermaniac: In articles of this sort that I have dealt with, we have only listed the paper once, under Sources if used. --Pi zero (talk) 15:13, 15 July 2017 (UTC)