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

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Bulgarian Wikinews

I am Seraphita and I try to start Wikinews in Bulgarian since 2007 . But some of administrators of community in Bulgarian Wikipedia disliked a littlre this wiki and tried to discourage the volunteers to start.wikinews in Bulgarian. Now the project has started but has some difficult problems to solve. I would want to have page for comment: Have an opinion on this story? Post it!I have some issues to make myself heard by the only administrator who does not accept the existence of such a page. Without doubt using stuard internationniaux would need their help but without the support of the drafters of the Wikinews community could be effective! Thank for your help! --SeraphitaZen (talk) 22:57, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

Hi. Sorry, I don't know what your asking. It should be noted that well we at english wikinews can provide help and and assistance in implementing such comment pages. However, we are (mostly) independant from bulgarian wikinews, and can't affect the policies of the bulgarian eddition. Bawolff 02:54, 5 December 2009 (UTC)

Unacceptable usernames

For those admins who've not got it yet... If someone creates an unacceptable/attack username you block totally. No sending email, no editing talk page. Simply don't give them any further opportunity to publicise their pathetic little 1½-inch "statement". A large range has been blocked to deal with our current pest so there likely will not be any recurrences for a week, pending block expiry. --Brian McNeil / talk 00:06, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

Admins should at least give users the benefit of doubt when they violate policies such as these, in my opinion. Remember that newbies aren't familiar with our policies. Benny the mascot (talk) 01:39, 21 December 2009 (UTC)
Well, someone who creates profane or extreme attack usernames will obviously not contribute constructively to the project, I don't think they need to be given the benifit of the doubt. I agree with Brian that obviously inappropriate accounts should be hard-blocked immediately so that they draw as little attention and are publicised as little as possible. Tempodivalse [talk] 01:49, 21 December 2009 (UTC)
[edit conflict]I'm pretty sure Brianmc is referring to User:Brian McBullshit. In cases like these (usernames that are clearly meant to attack someone), I agree that it is entirely appropriate to block on sight and disable email and what not. (which i probably should have done in that case, but i just hit the block button and kept the default settings without thinking about it). In other cases, such as confusing usernames (someone once registered with the name Senior Wikinewsie) giving the benefit of the doubt, and still allowing talk page edits seems much more appropriate. Bawolff 01:51, 21 December 2009 (UTC)
  • <conflict>Really? For obvious attack names? No. If someone creates an account Penis you block them completely and permanently. No creating a talk page for Penis, no sending email as Penis, and no creating another account until the autoblock expires. We've had worse than that recently including deliberately confusing names similar to administrators, slurs against Wikinews, attempts to set Wikinews and Wikipedia against each other, and others. You'd have us do what? Give them a template equivalent of a smack with a rolled up parish newsletter? --Brian McNeil / talk 01:52, 21 December 2009 (UTC)
    • And do you really think that every violation of policy is intentional??? Think about the username "Anonymous", for example. It could be construed as an impersonation of Anonymous101 or instead as the selection of a lazy user who couldn't choose a better name. We could also apply the same idea to "Jack69". An admin could techinally block that user for sexual innuendo (69), but maybe such a user might have been born in 1969. Should we really deprive such users of the ability to appeal their block or choose a new username? Benny the mascot (talk) 02:11, 21 December 2009 (UTC)
There are some instances where if the user really wasn't intentionally violating policy, then that means they're so clueless, its almost in a way worst then if they were intentionally violating policy. If someone registered a username [[user:Benny the mascot kills babies at night and is generally a <insert some swears here>]], saying they didn't realize that such a username was inapropriate, that just doesn't work as a defense. On the other hand, if a username is just mildly offensive, or confusing, the person in question would be politely asked to change there name. There are cases of people who had usernames that were controversial, subsequently changed them, and became very active contributors (for example TUFKAAP, although its somewhat disputed if his original username was actually against policy). Bawolff 02:36, 21 December 2009 (UTC)
@Benny's last comment: I think that Brian was specifically referring to obvious attack usernames, e.g. User:TEMPODIVALSE IS A NAZI AND SUCKS!!!. You don't think that someone with a name like that is here to contribute positively? Of course, for less obvious cases, like those examples you mentioned, we should assume good faith. Also, almost all of the current inappropriate usernames were created by one vandal, who, although his accounts are blocked immediately, makes use of the "Allow talk page editing" to try and draw as much attention to the page as possible. Tempodivalse [talk] 15:10, 22 December 2009 (UTC)

News in pictures

I think that it would be a good idea to bring back the news in pictures section to the main page, especially having seen the release of articles like this:

Please reply here if you have any suggestions/opinions. Thanks, Rayboy8 (my talk) (my contributions) 17:58, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

I did like the section when it was there, but it seemed to get very outdated; without reporters on the scene with a camera, there is very little we can do by way of pictures—most articles use file photos. It would be a good idea if we were as active as, say, en.wp, but there's maybe only a couple of dozen active contributors here (and that's a generous estimate), so we have little chance of having a reporter available to take pictures for us. Dendodge T\C 21:46, 21 December 2009 (UTC)
We could potentially swap the template in and out with {{main about}} for one we do and don't have pictures. Bawolff 23:04, 21 December 2009 (UTC)
Bawolff has an interesting idea. However, i'm of the opinion that we don't have enough interesting images, and can't come up with new ones frequently enough, for a news in pictures to work well. Tempodivalse [talk] 23:07, 21 December 2009 (UTC)
I quite like Bawolff's idea; if an admin thinks there's a really good picture of a recent news event, they can just swap the templates, then swap them back when the news goes stale. Dendodge T\C 23:17, 21 December 2009 (UTC)
The only problem I see is that the "This day in the past" slot isn't very wide (at least on my 1024x768 resolution), so we'd have to squeeze most photos down to about 200-250px to accommodate them - that kinda spoils things. Tempodivalse [talk] 14:23, 22 December 2009 (UTC)
  • Not really worth it to be honest. If it can be done with some parser function feature that randomly switches it out once in a while, that would be worth looking into, but otherwise I fear it'll go stale like it used to. –Juliancolton | Talk 15:22, 22 December 2009 (UTC)

Bureaucrats closing RfAs they've voted in

Are bureaucrats generally allowed to close RfAs that they've voted in, or do they have to recuse themselves after they give their opinion? I've seen a few RfAs here in the past where bureaucrats who'd voted had closed requests, but I know that on most other wikis this practise is frowned upon. Just wondering what is the current protocol on this? It isn't mentioned in any policy, as far as I can tell. Tempodivalse [talk] 17:48, 21 December 2009 (UTC)

I wouldn't worry about it. If perhaps it is a close call, and you think it should be closed in the way you voted, maybe either get someone else to or double check with someone else, but most requests here are pretty obviously one way or another. If its 100% support for a vote, there is no point in recursing yourself as the decision to make would be obvious. Bawolff 23:07, 21 December 2009 (UTC)
OK, thanks for the comment. I was thinking about Rockerball's current RfA, which I voted in. If it keeps up at its current rate (50% support), it seems pretty obvious it won't pass so I think it'll be safe for me to close it. Tempodivalse [talk] 01:10, 22 December 2009 (UTC)
In an ideal world, yes bureaucrats should avoid closing RFAs they have voted in. However, given the low number of bureaucrats on en-Wikinews (how many are there btw?), I wonder how that translates to reality. I'd hate to see a bureaucrat with a very valid opinion have his or her hand tied in voting because they know that they may be called upon to close it later. If it can be avoided by finding a bureaucrat who has not voted and explicitly asking them to close it then all the better; otherwise I don't think it will cause en-Wikinews to implode, especially if the result is not controversial. --Александр Дмитрий (Alexandr Dmitri) (talk) 10:14, 22 December 2009 (UTC)
Well, according to Special:ListUsers/bureaucrat we have eleven bureaucrats; out of those, only four or five are active. Given that most of the active 'crats have already voted, though, it looks like one of them will probably end up closing it. Tempodivalse [talk] 14:18, 22 December 2009 (UTC)
On a small, tightly-wound community like Wikinews there's no need to be bureaucratic about it IMO. The 'crats presumably have decent judgment at the very least, so the fact that they happened to vote in the RfA shouldn't have an impact on their decision. –Juliancolton | Talk 15:20, 22 December 2009 (UTC)
I've compiled a list of all bureaucrats here with the dates of their most recent actions. It seems five out of eleven bureaucrats have made a rename, bot promotion, or assignment of sysop/bureaucrat rights in the past month; one more has never made a bureaucrat action. Only one has not edited this year, and three have not made any crat actions this year. –Juliancolton | Talk 20:15, 22 December 2009 (UTC)

My two cents is, if there are other active crats out there, if you voted, you should not close. I don't close ones I have voted on. I think personally it looks more transparent, furthermore, since my early days around here thought it was part of the unwritten policy :) Brian | (Talk) | New Zealand Portal 21:01, 22 December 2009 (UTC)

If consensus is unanimous, or every active 'crat has voted, I'd say it's all right to close. Otherwise, you should just poke another bureaucrat and ask them to close it. Dendodge T\C 21:04, 22 December 2009 (UTC)

Local news articles

What is the current policy on local news articles? I've managed to write three very local, school-related articles here, but this discussion has made me more hesitant in writing more. Benny the mascot (talk) 00:59, 24 December 2009 (UTC)

AFAIK, we don't have much of a written policy on this. There's Wikinews:Local stories and Wikinews:Newsworthiness but neither are a policy or guideline. The current community's position on local news seems to be that it's acceptable, as long as it is relevant or of interest to a sufficiently wide audience (although that's not very specific, and opinions for how relevant the story needs to be varies from person to person). Tempodivalse [talk] 01:57, 24 December 2009 (UTC)
Ok, thanks. Is there any chance we could adopt a newsworthiness policy this time? Benny the mascot (talk) 03:12, 24 December 2009 (UTC)
There is a policy, per se, though not a verbose one, in the relevance clause of Wikinews:Content guide#What is 'news'?:
  • News is relevant. Being Wikinews — global and Internet-based — stories about local news may need to have their relevance explained for our international audience. Stories should appeal to a large number of people.
This seems to me to be an accurate description of current practice. The first part isn't directly about newsworthiness, it's about including information that will make the story sensible for an international audience. The second part is, I believe, really our operational definition of newsworthiness. It doesn't say anything about how many people couldn't care less, only how many could. (Cf. sports articles.) Its implication is colored by being juxtaposed with the first part: it's okay if you have to explain the relevance to an international audience, as long as you can (and do). The Wikinews community doesn't judge what is relevant, rather it judges what readers will judge to be relevant. The Wikinews community does, however, judge what constitutes a large number of people.
Note the wub's general remarks at the end of last month's discussion. --Pi zero (talk) 14:16, 24 December 2009 (UTC)
  • Benny has, as far as doing local news is concerned, got it. this is of interest to anyone in the town, possibly people in other parts of the state, and is clear enough that someone on the other side of the world could read it and find it interesting.
With the current number of articles-per-day, the main page does not pay any attention to Category:Local only, so they go in the list there. Were there 40-50 articles per day, or a dozen dedicated people in Illinois creating 60%+ of the daily volume with these more localised stories then, yes, change the dynamic page list for latest headlines to exclude local-only, filter the Illinois stories that get tagged with local to have the more important ones on the main page, and maintain the full list of local stories on either Portal:United States or Portal:Illinois; such pages can have their own leads, but they will end up deprecated if not actively maintained. Then the redirect United States would change from the portal to the category. Perhaps we need an {{inactive portal}} template for such circumstances; that would have been useful when many of the dedicated New Zealand and Australian contributors were unable to contribute sufficient material to keep portals going.
The GNSM (Google News Site Map) module being developed and tested for Wikinews will allow such pages – portals and categories – to have RSS feeds people can subscribe to, that use a wikinews.org URL.
So, I think, the structure is in place to grow the scope of contributions at local level. Where there is a problem is contributors doing such ultra-local work have hurdles in respect of verifiability. They may need to build the Wikinews community's trust through work on larger stories that can more readily be fact-checked, learn how to do good original reporting notes, and generally build a feel for what might have an audience - local, national, or international. --Brian McNeil / talk 02:00, 26 December 2009 (UTC)
Thank you for your compliments. Students raise record amounts of money during Christmas fundraiser at Benet Academy, Illinois is thus far my most rewarding work on Wikinews. I was even surprised to discover that a German version has been published here.
The same could probably be said of other citizen journalists covering local news. I would argue that a reporter who has a deep connection with the subject of his or her article and is working for free has a more sincere appreciation of his or her work than a professional journalist who writes for pay. (There are exceptions, however.) Therefore, Wikinews has much more potential to grow if we emphasize local news. If we reach out to college and municipal news organizations, we might have a lot more articles coming in. Any thoughts? Benny the mascot (talk) 02:50, 26 December 2009 (UTC)
Well, here's a general thought: WMF-style projects succeed best on large numbers of contributors, the larger the better. There are lots of localities, and only one globe; and just about everyone lives in a place, so local news is a great motivator. --Pi zero (talk) 18:05, 26 December 2009 (UTC)

Cobweb removal required

I've made a start on improving the Writing an article policy. It waffles terribly, rambles, and fails to get to the point. It needs to be about half the length it currently is.

I think most of the policies could do with being clipped extensively and cross-referenced both internally, and to other policies and sub-sections thereof. Write policy in a news style.

It would be good to have several newer editors go over that policy and suggest improvements, plus points where it does not at least link to an answer to a question that would have helped them. --Brian McNeil / talk 23:48, 25 December 2009 (UTC)

I think the instructions should place less emphasis on formatting categories and links and put more emphasis on writing style. Learning how to format an article is easier that learning how to actually write one. Benny the mascot (talk) 02:28, 26 December 2009 (UTC)
  • That is probably a good point but, the details for that are spread across a lot of policies; much of the detail is in the style guide. And, are people going to take kindly to being told to take an English lesson before they contribute? This is where an {{essay}}, say, Wikinews:News-style writing (WN:NEWSSTYLE) would be most useful. That has to be written by newer contributors such as yourself.
I wrote WN:ARTICLE after I'd been on Wikinews a long time; it was informed, and influenced, by mass-archiving 3,000 - 4,000 articles and firming up the WN:ARCHIVE policy.
What I'm proposing is taking the folksy-rambling out of policy and, as you point out here, have what might not be official policies (supplementary essays) the community broadly agrees on. As I found with the CRIA story, reading a lot of legal documents makes you write in a legalistic style; the policies and complementary essays need written in a news style, and common faults like getting duped by Fox News' nonexistent line between editorial and news are the sort of gotchas to highlight. Want to give WN:NEWSSTYLE a go? It would certainly help focus on how to condense the writing an article policy. --Brian McNeil / talk 02:59, 26 December 2009 (UTC)

One other point that might be usefull for complete newcomers is for those wishing to dive in some kind of WN:CRASHCOURSE guide started. It talks in very breif about the absolute basics and core policies, so that you can start contributing, and people will help you polish off your efforts. Just to throw that out there. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 13:26, 26 December 2009 (UTC)