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.


Photo credit centralization[edit]

I'm working on another photostory, and since the slideshow option is giving me heck, I'm using the gallery option. But for "Image: Nicholas Moreau" to show up under every image, it looks like I'm completely self-centred. Can we just have a single notice in the intro, saying "Wikinews reporter Nicholas Moreau was accredited for the event, taking photos of the displays and cosplayers in attendance."

Would anyone object to this? -- Zanimum (talk) 00:10, 20 March 2017 (UTC)

What's wrong with the NPOV policy and a proposal for improvement[edit]

As a very experienced writer (worked for Gambit newspaper in New Orleans) and as a WikiNews newbie, one can't help but wonder at the many years of history of this site and yet the yawning lack of content produced. So, I've done a lot of reading into the site's policies and history to try and discern why. It's my opinion, only partially informed, that a key reason would-be authors may either not begin or not continue with contributing has to do with the NPOV policy.

It's apparent that Jimbo Wales, Wikimedia Founder, did, and likely still does believe in the NPOV viewpoint, as is thoroughly articulated here.

However, a key reason the policy is troublesome in my view is that it ignores the reality that it's completely impossible to not have a point of view on anything worth writing a news article about, and therefore the policy is asking WAY too much. (I would hope Jimbo Wales can be persuaded to my way of thinking.)

If you're thinking I'm off my rocker and don't understand what the NPOV policy is about and therefore I'm just flat out wrong, I urge you to consider these sources:

There's no such thing as unbiased journalism so lets stop pretending, by David Harsanyi

There's no such thing as objective journalism, get over it, by Andrew Kirell

The Illusion of Unbiased Journalism by Erik Flemming

Great quotes from Hunter S. Thompson musing on the question of objectivity in journalism

...I could cite many more sources of great thinking on this. In short, anyone who thinks there can ever be no-point-of-view is, in my view and that of many great thinkers, delusional. But whatever you think of my point of view, there ARE ways forward to achieve the goals of the well-meaning but misguided NPOV policy.

The important points for WikiNews have nothing to do with point-of-view; rather than arguing over the relative merits of NPOV, policy should be about a mandate to put emphasis on FACTS and, when they seem appropriate, clearly distinguish OPINION because these can more or less be objectively determined, though one can go overboard here and discourage contributions. For example, in my own first article, I originally wrote "... in preparations for the most loved event for ..." and altered it to "...in preparations for what many attendees say is the most loved event for ..." because the former use of the adjective love is subjective opinion, the latter is observed objective fact. The questions are; would anyone think the first use of "love" would be mistaken as not opinion? Would anyone be harmed by, or indeed object to, that usage? Probably not, but I thought I'd "get it right" on my first at-bat.

With an emphasis on facts and clearly distinguished opinion, writers can feel they can write what they want to write. When you tell me I must have No Point Of View, my response is; it's not even possible so why bother? It's offensive from an intellectual point of view AND doesn't serve the purposes it intends. If you think I'm mistaken about discouragement, listen to the crickets... With this many years of exposure, WikiNews should be a great many times bigger than it is today - it's clearly failing to either attract or retain sufficient contributors.

(I noted with some alarm how many stories are held up RIGHT NOW because they're disputed. Let's consider them in this discussion, too. My approach would eliminate that problem forever.)

Another question related to this is whether people should - if they can - state their biases as it pertains to the subject. For example, someone could write a potentially disputed and contentious article on the subject "Some think 'R' for 'Ridicule' Should Be Added To The 'BDS' Campaign On Israel's Apartheid System" and state their bias as, "The author believes Israel's policies against Palestinians are roughly equal to those of the anti-Black policies of the former Apartheid system in South Africa". Such an article, were the policies of this site altered to permit it, would be useful to readers by explicitly stating the author's point of view on a potentially contentious but vital topic on the Middle East and provide interesting, useful food for thought among those intellectually capable of having a rational discussion about it. What's not serving readers is preventing such articles from being published - which, by the way, is what American corporate media would do with such a story and why some Newbies to this site might ascribe Orwellian characteristics to this site when they find their article "disappeared without a trace."

If all that can get through the sieve of policy here are bland nothing articles that "no one can dispute", it's a pretty useless site since everything of any real value to have discussion about in our world will have parties on multiple sides with opinions and biases and the most informed about these - and the voices most worthy of being heard - are very often on polar opposite sides of issues. And if you think you're going to get those views presented from No Point Of View authors, you're kidding yourself because if you have no point of view, you aren't going to care very much about those discussions. Hence, crickets...

Finally, I hope it's clear that I strongly agree with the intended results of a NPOV policy, and wish to point out that a major problem with the policy is its very name and the point of view it evokes. A better name for a workable policy would be something one might call the Joe Friday policy: NBTF / LAO - Nothing But The Facts & Label All Opinion. ... Perhaps with a SYB - State Your Bias policy, to boot. I hope you will seriously consider this policy proposal - what the site's doing now doesn't appear to be working and that's a pity.—The preceding unsigned comment was added by Rtroy (talkcontribs)

@Rtroy:
would anyone think the first use of "love" would be mistaken as not opinion?
I think when we say "in preparations for the most loved event for", we are endorsing that it is the most loved event. But the truth is, people consider it to be the most loved. It is not our job to assume it. Like for example, if someone says, (If I recall correctly, for an article) "Beloved prime minister Shri Narendra Modi", how are you going to prove that he is indeed beloved? How do you know that? If the whole nation, each and every individual agree, then you can say so, else, it is what some, majority, most, few people think.
Would anyone be harmed by, or indeed object to, that usage?
Yes of course. What if there is someone who does not like that event? He or she might be interested in something else. So instead of wildly assuming that it "is the most loved", and saying, "what many attendees say is the most loved event for", we are not factually wrong, and in the safe zone of not misreporting anything.
I do not understand why you don't think it is not possible. When it comes to writing for a news company that pays you, other factors like crowd pulling comes in the picture. A biased headlines, a misleading or provoking comment which is not cent percent correct gains more readers for that article, you have to agree. Instead of such misleading words, why not use facts? A fact used at a correct place at the correct time for a correct article eliminates the need of biased point of view.
You can keep on citing why NPOV id not good for news and I can keep on denying because that is what we are doing here. I am not calling any politician a monster. What a politician does, report that. Why he/she does, report that. The readers can think for themselves is that politician doing correct or not. We don't need to say "people feel XYZ" if ABC were the consequences of the act.
When anyone cites Wikinews, they are not citing any author. There can be more than one editors who contributed to the story. The reviewer of the story can have other point of view, IP editors can submit the articles for review... Considering these things, adding what the author thinks is not okay. The author is free to add their opinions and POVs to the comments page, but those things are not welcomed on the article. Adding it would involve controversy as some editors would not like this point of view.
If I say "Referring decisions helped Real Madrid", it is not neutral. A user who is Real Madrid supporter would find this offensive. But on the other hand, saying, "there were at least twelve occasions where referee's decisions were incorrect and were in favour of Real Madrid", we are not endorsing anything, and we are not saying that Real Madrid was indeed helped by the referee.
English Wikinews is a small community. With a limited number of users, I really can't expect Wikinews publishing 50 articles of medium length each day. I can expect two or three, but again, with a limited number of editors, this is not possible since real life commitments are also important. I have my internal exam this Monday, but still I am replying to this thread. I have not started reading for it. I want to help the project and that is what every editor wants to do. But just because we are unable to publish many articles, we are not abandoning neutrality. Can you just imagine Wikipedia adding biased point of view to each articles? Can you just imagine what would happen to the traditional Chinese Medicines related articles? Can you imagine the degree of vandalism we can observe for controversial topics? Just try to imagine all the editors allowed to add their own point of views? Articles like FC Barcelona and Real Madrid would be ruined. This will result severe reputation damage, and same is true on Wikinews. POV would lead to misleading reports since Wikinews can be edited by anyone. And it would lead to "fake news", I feel.
Someone from paid journalism would never understand this, but a place where anyone can write anything, things wil go out of order, and that would lead to the collapse of the project. If every story has a point of view, let the readers discover them with the facts. Facts can be really effective, but if you want to attract audience by the means of point of views, this is really not the place, in my opinion.
NPOV is one of those things which makes Wikinews different from other news sources. But, if you are really confident your approach would work, let's try it. Write an article in your userspace, and we will see how, why and what is wrong with it considering Wikinews is both a wiki and a news source — where "Wiki" and "news", both have equal weight.
acagastya 20:10, 22 April 2017 (UTC)

@acagastya I have no idea what "Real Madrid" is but it appears you've completely missed my points on several different occasions, including missing what I was actually saying about "love" (I don't agree with your interpretation about "our endorsement" but I don't care to dissect it at the moment). Here are some comments in reply:

  • What I promote is the idea that authors keep to facts while you promote the idea that a writer can have no point of view. I posit that the former is possible and the latter is impossible, and that's really the foundation of my having written anything at all. (There's a second key point below.) A point of view is held by everyone with anything to say and it's impossible not to have one, and it doesn't only belie itself with explicit statements, but also with the framing of a situation, what is discussed, what is left out, even when there's 100% "facts" stated. It should also be remembered that one person's freedom fighter is another person's terrorist, so word choices in statements made can be perfectly factual based on definitions of words but still be found offensive and "conveying a point of view" and "disputed."
  • I promote the idea that if opinion is stated it must be clearly denoted. You say opinion is never OK, fine, if that's a rule. And if so, strip out all the facade of "no point of view" and just state exactly what you mean and be done with ALL the confusion. I'm hearing two policy rules from you, "Nothing But The Facts" and "No Opinions". Gee whiz, that's simple and clear AND POSSIBLE.
  • When you comment, "I do not understand why you don't think it is not possible", it leads me to strongly suspect you didn't read a single reference I pointed to. -face-palm- In short, humans come to everything they do with some kind of frame of reference we call a point of view, even if they are unaware of it. The more intelligent you are, the more experienced, the more widely read, the more likely you are to have a viewpoint that's informed by many years of data-collection and thinking.
  • You talk about the relatively few contributors to do editing and so forth and that's the whole point I was making: for an 8+ year old project with this kind of visibility, it sure hasn't caught on, now has it? If the site could attract and retain people to write, review, etc, it would grow.
  • The NPOV policy would be very neatly replaced by a completely clear an unequivocal pair of policies: Nothing But The Facts, and No Opinion. There's no not understanding it. There's no people saying to themselves, "that's impossible, so I'm not even going to bother trying.) (I myself started out by laughing at the complete lack of reality behind it.) But there ARE people who will say, "I like an all-facts news source, with no opinion." He's a heck of a lot more clear than "a no-point-of-view news source.—The preceding unsigned comment was added by Rtroy (talkcontribs)
A few general thoughts.
  • Neutrality works differently on Wikinews than on Wikipedia. I wouldn't care to bet on whether Jimmy Wales understands the difference. It is entirely possible for a featured article on either of the two projects to fail the neutrality standards of the other project; the criteria are that different.
  • To be blunt, I think our NPOV policy page on Wikinews does a really poor job of explaining. The information is there, I guess, but I think I've really gotten my deep sense of how it works from dwelling on thousands of actual articles. I've had in mind to write an essay on Wikinews neutrality, explaining it in a much more forthright and practical way, with an eye to possibly using the essay to draft an overhaul of the policy page; but it's a big and difficult task and we've other infrastructure concerns to absorb what time I don't pour into actual news production, so of course I haven't gotten far on it yet.
  • A great deal of harm is done in the world, I think, by people claiming neutrality is impossible. Of course perfection of all kinds is impossible, and that's a deplorable excuse for not trying. The Wikinews strategy toward neutrality uses techniques that are not, apparently, available to Wikipedia because of the different nature of what an encyclopedia is (traditionally) trying to do.
  • The Wikipedian approach to neutrality is a matter of "balance", which in a news context has been, imho, demonstrated pretty spectacularly not to work, at least as a centerpiece for neutrality strategy; obviously in the case of "fair and balanced" FOX News, but also in the case of the efforts of BBC, whose failure of neutrality in their coverage of the Scottish independence referendum was... noticed north of the border.
  • Wikinews neutrality is a key feature of the project, one of the great values we give to the world. We're an antidote for the defeatist denial that individual people can aspire to report news neutrally and so empower informed readers to make up their own minds.
--Pi zero (talk) 20:41, 22 April 2017 (UTC)

@Pi zero, I really appreciate your comment number two above. Your comments on "neutrality" I find interesting, but do notice that there's exactly zero connection between "neutrality" and "no point of view." A point of view is held by all of us, whether we're neutral on a subject or for or against any part involved in that subject. I think that this point is what's, for me, really at odds here. I embrace the concept of "neutrality" in terms of reporting but that doesn't mean I don't see the framework that's behind a reporter's thinking, and that's what a point of view is actually about. A reporter can be sure to only report facts. It's harder to ask them to present all facts "fairly" because they have to make choices about what to include and what to leave out and some side or other can usually find facts they want included that are left out. Both the inclusion and exclusion of facts is primarily caused by an author's point of view - sometimes called framing. And this is why my proposal has merit; simple, vastly more clear, and achievable.

In my not always humble opinion, the NPOV policy, even if it's just the policy's name, has not been successful. The fact that 8 years on the contributions are so modest is very telling. Change the name, simplify. What I'm hearing is "NBTF, NO" - Nothing But The Facts, No Opinion."

Rtroy (talk) 23:26, 22 April 2017 (UTC)

Tbh, it seems clear to me you don't understand Wikinews's neutrality policy. You can't make a coherent argument for or against if you don't have a clear notion of what you're trying to be for or against.

The level of activity on the project is only related to our neutrality policy in one way: we're still here, and with everything being thrown at us that requires really powerful ideals for us to rally to — and an important part of the journalistic ideals that have enabled Wikinews to survive is our neutrality. (We had a "fork" a few years ago, you know; at least, it was called a fork, although they didn't copy our article archives; they did copy a lot of our support infrastructure, though. It failed while Wikinews has continued because, in attempting to streamline their process to boost output, they compromised on principles like neutrality and thus had a project that lacked a reason for people to want to contribute to it.) --Pi zero (talk) 00:16, 23 April 2017 (UTC)

@Pi zero "You can't make a coherent argument for or against if you don't have a clear notion of what you're trying to be for or against" - way to go! Straight to insults, clear sign of not even trying to put up a coherent argument, and this against someone who's not even trying to argue.

OK, I get it, you feel offended someone has pointed out the project's failure. Fine, the project still exists, but at a current rate of 0.5 articles per day for the English speaking world after 8+ years of effort, sorry that you're in denial that things are working great just because you still have the teat of Wikileaks to hang off of. I'm trying to help you understand the project's failure to attract / retain a sufficient talent pool to be a truly going concern. A key part of that is the word choice. And it's certainly a coherent argument that your policy is so challenging ... in fact, I'm adopting YOUR first two bullet points as having made my case for me! Don't go edit them now to retract your words, that would be disingenuous.

As for your third point: I never made a case - would not, could not make a case - against neutrality. But you don't have a policy called "Neutrality", you have one prominently called NPOV - No Point Of View - and that is the ONLY policy I have been critical of. I even went so far as to praise the goals! Truly laudable, just HOPELESSLY UNCLEAR and that is a part of the failure. You yourself acknowledge this yet... OK, you think I insulted you. -shrug- You also COMPLETELY mischaracterize my comments when you claim I said neutrality was impossible. Horsefeathers. I said having No Point Of View is impossible! PLEASE keep to facts in evidence.

I'm offering two key ideas:

1) rename the damned policy, the current name is a loser. "Neutrality" would be a vastly better alternative. And;

2) simplify the policy. As already stated, Nothing But The Facts, No Opinion, would be about as clear and concise as could ever be needed. Yet you find you need to insult me over the contribution. Way to make friends and influence people.

I hope you'll rethink it, take less offense and realize I'm actually trying to help, and I hope that others in the community will have a less reactionary, more thoughtful view.

Rtroy (talk) 02:31, 23 April 2017 (UTC)

My remark was not an insult nor an attack, but a diagnosis. If you want to self-improve, and be useful to the project, take the criticism to heart. Your remarks aren't fact-based; your latest above makes this especially clear. Journalism is all about being fact-based. --Pi zero (talk) 11:33, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
Couple of things. We all might have point of view. But while writing here, you are not supposed to reflect your point of view on the article.
I don't think Rtroy is an experienced writer (at least not a journalist), not sure if a blogger. The quality of the article written by the user is not what I will expect from an experienced journalist. Besides, the files used for the article, which Rtroy said is "own work" is copyvio. This is not a trait of an experienced writer. Many bloggers are unaware in the beginning, but with time, they learn about the copyright violation. When the user says, I have no idea what 'Real Madrid' is but it appears you've completely missed my points on several different occasions, including missing what I was actually saying about 'love', what should I say. It takes a couple of seconds to search what is Real Madrid on the internet. If the user had done that, it would be clear what I was trying to say. Policies? I really don't think that is true, at least in this case. Newbies generally do not read the policies and the guidelines. Else, they would do a lot of things better (like the date format, or the lede section, or the way to cite the sources, or focus) Okay. The last point is not a strong one, but you can't ignore that.
acagastya 17:41, 23 April 2017 (UTC)
@Acagastya: Actually, they claim to have considerable experience in professional journalism. --Pi zero (talk) 00:29, 24 April 2017 (UTC)

One could perhaps always write a neutral article, and an opinion in comments? If comments namespace ignites an increase in audience, I would personally not horribly mind (so long as the said audience has an active interest in formulating a comprehensive view on the subject). --Gryllida (talk) 02:12, 24 April 2017 (UTC)

Indeed, when BRS was here a few months ago xe used that technique several times, adding a comment on the opinions page once xyr article was published. --Pi zero (talk) 02:40, 24 April 2017 (UTC)
@Rtroy: I have not seen any Wikimedia policy requiring "No point of view": NPOV is rendered as "Neutral point of view."
I suspect that we all agree that perfect objectivity is impossible but still worth striving for.
Even "facts" are never beyond dispute: W. Edwards Deming said there's no true value to any number obtained as a result of a measurement: If you change the method of measurement, you will likely get a different answer.
I wish to agree with both user:Pi zero and Rtroy, if that's possible: The fact that Wiknews has survived more than 8 years is an achievement, and we must be careful in pushing changes that we don't jeopardize the future of this project.
However, I believe there are substantial opportunities for growth.
I've submitted a proposal for a "Birds of a Feather" session to discuss these issues at Wikimania 2017. On or about May 13, I plan to change that Submission from "Draft" to "Final"; prior to that date, anyone can edit the content of the proposal. After that date, comments are welcomed in the associated "Discussion" page. If you'd like to attend, you can add your ID under "Interested attendees".
Beyond that, I think there may be something to learn from comparing the experiences of the different language versions of Wikinews. I've initiated such a discussion at m:Talk:Wikinews#Making Wikinews more attractive for audience and volunteers. The main article there, m: Wikinews, includes a table summarizing activity in the different language versions of Wikinews. On 2017-04-28, that table reported that over 222,000 articles have been published, summing over 33 different languages, out of a total of 3.47 million submitted. This gives us a publication rate of 6.4 percent = 222,000/3,470,000. That ratio ranged from 0.62 percent for Sindhi to 62 percent for Serbian; it was 0.77 percent for English. I think the high acceptance rate for articles in Serbian have helped to make it the language with the most articles on Wikinews -- and the low acceptance rate in Sindhi has helped generate the fewest articles of any language; of course the fact that there are so few Sindhi speakers means that we could not expect them to have a huge number of articles.
DavidMCEddy (talk) 15:01, 3 May 2017 (UTC)
@DavidMCEddy: Truth be told, I'm no longer as hopeful as I once was about resolving misunderstandings with Rtroy, because their remarks here and, especially, elsewhere lead me to doubt their sincere interest in a fact-based view of the world. --Pi zero (talk) 15:51, 3 May 2017 (UTC)
Professional journalist[sic] who uploaded someone else's photo as their own at Wikimedia Commons?
Agastya Chandrakant ⚽️ 🏆 🎾 🎬 🎤 📰 17:04, 3 May 2017 (UTC)
Ambiguous; it could be a misunderstanding. Commons DRs: 1, 2, 3. --Pi zero (talk) 17:46, 3 May 2017 (UTC)
@DavidMCEddy: A small remark concerning Serbian Wikinews; I still owe you a longer comment on the general issues of your proposal, I have not forgotten.

Serbian Wikinews tried something that did not work out well. As I understand it, they had a successful community there until they introduced a bot for importing news from some public-domain news outlets. Public-domain news outlets are, rather reliably, propaganda on somebody's part (VOA is one such), so doing that is sure to be abandoning neutrality. It did cause their article count to rise rapidly. It also killed the momentum of their community and caused their contributor base to shrink; and, btw, the resulting large archive does not get read — in contrast to ours at English Wikinews, a major asset that, btw, does get read. So the large article count of Serbian Wikinews is not something desirable to imitate. --Pi zero (talk) 18:15, 3 May 2017 (UTC)

What data to collect on different Wikis?[edit]

The previous section on "What's wrong with the NPOV policy ..." was getting rather long, and I'd like to get feedback on a related but a slightly different topic:

  • What summaries exist of lessons learned from different language communities, similar to the comment Pi zero made about the Serbian Wikinews community?
  • What data should we collect on different Wikis?
  • Might it make sense to try to survey contributors to the different language Wikinews communities? If yes, what questions should we ask? How can we summarize the information?

I had mentioned the Serbian Wikinews, because it still officially has the largest number of officially published articles, though it's no longer listed on the www.wikinews.org landing page. Pi zero offered a hint of the problem: They did something to cause their contributor base AND their audience to shrink.

m: Wikinews includes a table summarizing data on all the different language versions of Wikinews, which is manually copied periodically (daily?) from wikistats.wmflabs.org/display.php?t=wn, if I understand correctly.

I don't know how hard it would be to add other data to this table -- or to get such data in other ways -- but I think it would be good to have the number of views added to this table along with stats for the past 10 days, month, quarter or year. DavidMCEddy (talk) 02:29, 4 May 2017 (UTC)

And might some of us be able to create a reasonably useful face-to-face discussion at Wikimania in Montreal, along the lines of m:Submissions/Building Wikinews into the premier news site worldwide -- possibly offering videoconferencing for virtual attendance by a few interested but unable to be physically in Montreal then? Thanks, DavidMCEddy (talk) 02:38, 4 May 2017 (UTC)

@DavidMCEddy: A general observation. When I first came to Wikinews, it was quickly apparent to me that the site documentation wasn't uniformly up-to-date (although parts of it were quite good), and almost as quickly apparent why. Everyone here put practically all their volunteered time on the project into the processes of actual news production, leaving infrastructural concerns starved for time. There's a certain symmetry in it: individual articles are handled especially quickly, infrastructural work happens especially slowly. I'm told the under-documentation is typical of small news orgs; it's the big operations like AP etc. who manage to write up their practices in detail. I figured on providing infrastructure effort, and set out to learn the living tradition of the project; of course I later got deeply involved with the day-to-day news production myself, as a necessary measure to keep things moving while I develop the infrastructure needed. Over the past few years we have managed to get some more of the living tradition written down, here and there; notably, WN:Never assume, WN:Newsworthiness, WN:Tips on reviewing articles, and WN:Pillars of Wikinews writing (that last one is mostly assembled from standard review comments polished by hundreds or thousands of repetitions). I've been meaning to write an essay on neutrality, because the policy page on the subject is so bad I don't even link to it in reviews. But there's also wider perspective, which I do hope I can capture in a reply to you on my user talk; and, just saying, this is why it's not all neatly written up. --Pi zero (talk) 03:14, 4 May 2017 (UTC)
@Pi zero: Thanks. Inventing the future is never tidy. Perfect documentation can never exist. It's always either not enough or too much or poorly organized, and often all three simultaneously. I know I should write for my audience, and I try, but it's often inadequate. W. Edwards Deming told a friend, "You never complete [a writing project]: You abandon it."
My research on EffectiveDefense.org convinced me of the central role of the media, as I documented in Winning the War on Terror. I'm further convinced that there is a market niche for a news web site that would automatically adjust to the needs and interests of every user. This news site would likely reduce political corruption by providing an optimal match between political jurisdictions and the target service area / market for each news story. I think we can grow Wikinews to fill that niche and in so doing attract an audience larger than Wikipedia and maybe even Google. This vision is motivating this post and my proposal for a session on this at Wikimania 2017. DavidMCEddy (talk) 04:37, 4 May 2017 (UTC)

"Birds of a feather" session at Wikimania 2017?[edit]

What can be done to grow both our audience and our contributors? Wikinews reported on 2017-05-08 that 3,471,349 articles were started in 33 different Wikinews language communities, but only 222,328 (6.4%) were published (if I understand those numbers correctly). For the English language Wikinews, only 0.8% were actually published. Is it fair to say that the vast majority of unpublished articles represent frustrated humans, who are less likely to contribute to Wikinews in the future? To increase the rate of submissions -- and our audience -- I think it would help to (a) understand why those articles were not published and (b) take steps to increase the publication rate. Examples:

  • Not neutral or not credible: Some help in rewording or asking contributors to get input from their opposition in a conflict could help educate contributors and encourage them to do more. It may even help resolve conflict -- converting heat into light!
  • Not newsworthy: If it's written from a neutral point of view citing credible sources, etc., can we “publish” it on a “back page” and / or get geolocation information and only offer the story to people nearby? I think boring reports on public meetings of governmental bodies should always be accepted, because they could help prevent (or expose) problems like the City of Bell scandal, where the death of a local newspaper seems to have encouraged a group of public officials to engage in massive criminality. Such articles should not be featured (except to people interested in that jurisdiction) but could be available for a search, e.g., link from a Wikipedia article about that governmental entity. (I believe the current minimal level of audience control of the media contributes to virtually every major problem facing humanity today; for documentation, see Winning the War on Terror on Wikiversity. Wikinews might facilitate major improvements.)
  • Not 'news' style: If it's written from a neutral point of view citing credible sources, etc., can we accept poor style and grammar for articles on a “back page,” hoping to encourage contributors to write other articles in the future? Some of those could be of sufficient general interest that other Wikinewsians might help rewrite them in 'news' style to convert them into “page one” stories. (Non-native speakers should be encouraged to try to bridge the language divide. If we had had this in the early 1950s, the U.S. war in Vietnam might have been avoided, because too many people would have known that roughly 80 percent of the Vietnamese supported the Communist Ho Chi Minh, as Eisenhower noted in his autobiography published in 1963 (Dwight D. Eisenhower. "[ The White House Years (1953-1956): Mandate for Change]" — Doubleday, 1963).

I've proposed a “Birds of a Feather” session for Wikimania 2017, August 9-13, in Montreal to discuss these and related questions; see Submissions/Building Wikinews into the premier news site worldwide. Comments welcomed. DavidMCEddy (talk) 15:24, 14 May 2017 (UTC)

@DavidMCEddy: I 100% agree that non-published stories have a correlation with would-be editors and that is something that needs to be assessed. Thanks for this. —Justin (koavf)TCM 17:06, 14 May 2017 (UTC)
@Koavf: Thanks. You can increase the chances of this being discussed at Wikimania 2017 by adding your Wikiname to "Interested attendees" at the end of the submission for a session on this topic: Submissions/Building Wikinews into the premier news site worldwide. If there's interest, I should be able to use videoconferencing (either Webex or Skype) so people who can attend this session without physically going to Montreal. I don't know the rules, but I suspect that not every "Submission" like this is actually assigned a session -- and "Submissions" with more "Interested attendees" are more likely to actually get a session. DavidMCEddy (talk) 17:33, 14 May 2017 (UTC)
@DavidMCEddy: I've been struggling for some time now to clear time to write you something giving a broad perspective on Wikinews's objectives and plans, and discussing how they relate to your ideas. I've neither forgotten nor given up, though now is seriously not a viable moment for it. (Frankly, our audience isn't a problem and our contribution rates are rooted in factors that you're not taking into account — that's where broad perspective comes into it.) --Pi zero (talk) 07:09, 15 May 2017 (UTC)
@Pi zero: Thanks for the reply. Might you be able to prepare something on this for my proposed session on m:Submissions/Building Wikinews into the premier news site worldwide at Wikimania 2017? If you can't attend physically, we should be able to arrange for you to be there virtually via videoconferencing (and I could try to present your material if that fails.) If yes, might you also add your name as an "Interested attendee" at m:Submissions/Building Wikinews into the premier news site worldwide? DavidMCEddy (talk) 20:44, 15 May 2017 (UTC)

There are a few points I disagree with. I am a bit stressed the last couple weeks, so the ideas may be put wrongly, or not clearly, but I'll try the best I can.

  • One, "The interests of a user could by default be determined in part from geographic coordinates obtained from a cell phone, an IP address, or by direct entry. Users could tailor this further. Browsing history might also be used." is too much tracking. Neutral news means it should present the same content to everybody. Customization should be provided to the user in the form of dialogs where they can choose which locations or topics to show.
  • Don't fund article writers. Fund (or not) reviewers (and developers of reviewing tools). A few reasons why:
    • Paid journalism and crowdfunding could create a content topic bias. Coverage of certain topics would improve, and it would be governed by funding entities. Not necessarily in a good way.
    • Paid journalism and crowdfunding could increase the volume of submissions, which our reviewers are at present unable to handle due to lack of human power and due to inadequacy of the tools currently offered by the website. The reviewing labour requires a lot of manual work.
    • It would make the website more similar to other news sources -- even if neutral enough. We need to focus on the mechanism of engaging a reader into news writing, to make this site more peer-to-peer directed than governed by a group of paid journalists.
    • Funding reviewers would introduce a content bias as their boss tell them. This would be a disaster.
    • Funding development of reviewing tools would probably be a good idea, if the design and deployment of these tools are performed in a manner and at a pace comfortable for the (currently small) group.
  • I would personally expect that many news articles fail the review process entirely due to two main reasons: they get stale (if there is too many articles or the topic is too specific for the reviewer to handle), or the article writer does not put effort into working on the reviewer comments. Adequate reviewing and review feedback tools would resolve both of these issues.
  • Finding the exact statistics is hard because the articles eventually get deleted. If you have ideas on how to resolve that, please tell. (I would perhaps be willing to volunteer to write a code to log the review actions on one page in plain text, just how they are on the article talk page, except that one page would not get deleted).
  • Increasing collaboration between different languages is a good idea. However, some of these languages' input would be counter productive. For instance, Russian Wikinews copy/pastes from external sources verbatim. The licence allows this and it is OK, but their content is biased as they prioritize popularity over quality. The verbatim copying also decreases writing enthusiasm.
  • You need to tell the public that writing tools is complicated by the need for any 'Extensions' to pass a code review by WMF Engineering. This is a slow process. JavaScript and Lua programming is available to site sysops without WMF review requirements, at present; they have less flexibility, but the deployment is easier and this is a great thing. However, having a guide how to create a copy of Wikinews for development would make engaging new contributors into the development process a lot easier. I am struggling with finding that out, myself, for over a year.

Regards, --Gryllida (talk) 02:01, 22 May 2017 (UTC)

@Gryllida:, @DavidMCEddy: I've wondered about saving review comments. When trying to assess a contributor from the reviews of their articles, it's often very useful to be an admin so one can read the reviews of their failed articles as well as their successes. We really need to provide much more robust support for accumulated reputation of users we don't personally know well; this sort of thing must be better supported in order for us to successfully scale up; if there were a thousand active users on Wikinews every day, how could a reviewer know what sort of writer they were dealing with, and how could anyone recognize if a small group of reviewers ever started rubber-stamping each others' articles? At the same time, though, deleting the talk pages of unsuccessful articles can also dispose of a great deal of unpleasantness. One could, of course, save only the reviewer comments, not the comments by others, but then what if a reviewer made a comment that was legitimately objected to? The reviewer would automatically get the last word. This is a sort of thing I would be giving a lot of thought, if the things I've been doing with the dialog tools weren't so obviously even more urgently needed. --Pi zero (talk) 02:33, 22 May 2017 (UTC)
Would it be suitable to log the review comments on User:Foo/reviews, where Foo is the nick of the person who submitted the article for review? I could perhaps try to edit the easy peer review script to do that on another wiki, and after it works, copy the edit here. --Gryllida (talk) 04:30, 22 May 2017 (UTC)

Wikinews:Water cooler/policy in other languages?[edit]

As of 2017-05-14, I saw that the "Languages" heading on the left listed nothing underneath except "Add links". Then I found es:Wikinoticias:Café, being the Spanish-language equivalent of Wikinews:Water cooler. When I tried to "Add links" to that, I got, "The page you wanted to link with is already attached to an item on the central data repository which links to Wikinews:Water cooler on this site. Items can only have one page per site attached. Please choose a different page to link with." After struggling for a few minutes trying to figure out what that meant, I realized that es:Wikinoticias:Café had a bijective (one-to-one) link with es:Wikinoticias:Café, and the software therefor refused to allow me to link in that way from Wikinews:Water cooler/policy to es:Wikinoticias:Café. Why do these have to be bijective (one-to-one)? DavidMCEddy (talk) 16:16, 14 May 2017 (UTC)

I don't have any idea how Wikidata works. The WN:Water cooler and WN:Water cooler/policy perhaps should be different entities. (Russian Wikinews have forums called 'general', 'tech', 'copyright', 'international', 'administrators'; they do not have a policy forum. We are linking to their language from our WN:Water cooler page, which is a good thing.) --Gryllida (talk) 01:35, 22 May 2017 (UTC)
I imagine moving WN:AAA to Wikinews:Water cooler/administrators could be something useful for cross-wiki collaboration. —mikemoral (talk) 09:16, 22 May 2017 (UTC)
What advantage are you seeing in that? --Pi zero (talk) 14:10, 22 May 2017 (UTC)
I think you can link a page to Wikidata no-matter what its name is? If all else fails, redirect Wikinews:Water cooler/administrators to WN:AAA. I do not see Wikidata requiring all languages to follow the same naming schemes as a reasonable way forward. --Gryllida (talk) 02:36, 23 May 2017 (UTC)
@Gryllida: You can make those links, yes. The goal is to just have pages which are the best approximation of an idea linking to one another. —Justin (koavf)TCM 04:34, 23 May 2017 (UTC)
@DavidMCEddy: Wikidata doesn't work well as a device for automatically generating interwiki links. Part of that is because it's undesirable to create a single point of failure by centralizing control, and also undesirable to remove control from the local projects where contributors concerned with those local projects should be encouraged; but also there is a structural problem because of the way Wikidata generates the automatic interwiki links. Wikidata has pages called "items", and a given page on a given-language Wikinews can only be listed on one item (the Wikidata software forbids multiple listings of a given Wikinews page). Wikinews pages of different languages are automatically given interwiki links to each other if-and-only-if they are both listed on the same Wikidata item. There is no way of causing the automatic links to be asymmetric, and no way of making multiple pages on one-language Wikinews all interwiki to a single page on another-language Wikinews. Which means, in the very likely case that two different-language Wikinewses do not organize their topic-category hierarchies in the same way, that readers of various Wikinews projects will be systematically deprived of incoming and outgoing interwiki links that sensibly ought to be there. All of which is why English Wikinews has a policy of adding Wikidata links but not removing the local interwiki markup once Wikidata has been informed. (Wikipedia also suffers from the same deprivation of interwikis due to different decomposition of topics in different languages, btw; no, I don't have examples at my fingertips.) My early impression was that Wikidata was supposed to fix a problem with interwiki links by guaranteeing that interwikis would be added without an army of bots having to notice they were missing; which it does, except of course that it introduced this passel of other problems — I can see how an alternative arrangement might solve all the problems simultaneously, but like so much that I can see how to do, it's waiting on semi-automation reaching a sufficiently sophisticated stage. --Pi zero (talk) 11:06, 23 May 2017 (UTC)