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

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On Flagged Revisions

Brian McNeil and I started a discussion during the ongoing ITN debates that are really related to Wikinews policy, so I wanted to bring the discussion over here.Ohms law (talk) 05:55, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

Actually, "I assume anyone keeping in the loop about this is not as ignorant as the mainstream press as to assume it is 'less open' editing." isn't really a good assumption to make... I'm not particularly comfortable with Flagged Revisions myself, and I'm willing to admit that I've (somewhat irrationally) allowed it's use on Wikinews to prevent me from really jumping in there. As much of a news hound as I am, I really should be a very active editor on Wikinews, as well. I know that Flagged Revisions isn't actually supposed to close off editing, it's just... a psychological barrier, I guess. Anyway, I'm not sure what he meant by the "open up news listing" comment, either.
Ohms law (talk) 23:19, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

If you have a user account, you won't really notice FlaggedRevisions on Wikinews. Editor status isn't automatically granted as is proposed for Wikipedia, but the bar is set very low. As is the bar for having it taken away, but that's only happened once where someone self-published an article instead of waiting for an independent peer review. --Brian McNeil /talk 00:44, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
Yea, I know that's the way it's supposed to be... I'm just trying to explain why the reality is slightly different then the intent, for me. I suspect that my own feelings are similar to others, but I can't back that up with anything concrete. Regardless, we should probably have this conversation on Wikinews' water cooler, or somewhere else on the Wikinews project, since it's really specifically related to the project and not Wikipedia. If you start a conversation there and link to it, I'll be happy to come over and participate in a more in depth discussion about it.
Ohms law (talk) 03:30, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
I'm not sure what the exact topic of discussion/original question or what not is, but flagged revisions is used quite differently here than it is (or is proposed to be) used on wikipedia. Unlike wikipedia where articles are works in progress Wikinews articles undergo a life cycle: They are either developing, published, or archived. When an article is developing, which is when it is being actively edited, flagged revisions is not used. Once the are published, flagged revisions are used, but published articles are generally not edited beyond typos and minor changes in most cases anyways. When a flagged article is edited, the response time to have it sighted is generally very fast, with there almost never being a backlog (for re-flagging. reviewing articles sometimes has backlogs). For example, at this precise moment in time there are 0 edits waiting to be flagged. Bawolff 06:16, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
This came up as a part of the ongoing discussion at w:Template talk:In the news#Use of Wikinews. Anyway, What I was trying to get across is just to capture my feelings as a "new to Wikinews" user. I'm fairly positive that I can (and likely will) adjust, and become an active contributor here (especially if there is to be a closer relationship between the two projects, which is what the above linked to conversation is about). I just know from my own development experiences that capturing the "first impressions" of newer people is fairly important, so I wanted to share mine.
That's good to know about the development cycle, here. I didn't know that there was an extra step before being "published". I assume that all of the articles that I've looked at here have already been published, then?
Anyway, I'll leave it up to those of you who are active here to do what you will with the information that I've provided here. I'm available, here and (mostly) on Wikipedia, if anyone wants to ask additional questions, of course. If I could be so bold as to offer a suggestion though, it would be to think about not enabling Flagged Revisions until some small amount of time has passed after publishing (24-48 hours would suffice, I would think). That might present a "more open" feel to the site, at least. Ohms law (talk) 07:59, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
Boldly outside-the-box suggestions are a sign of a vigorous community.
  • The purpose of using flagged revisions here is quality control. Publication is the point at which we as a community certify that an article has met our minimal standards; before that, we don't make any promises about it, but after that we need a different way to vet proposed changes. So the choice of publication as the moment to sight isn't arbitrary, it's the whole reason we use FlaggedRevs, or equivalently (looking at the same thing from the other side) it's the definition of what we mean by "publication".
  • Since you didn't know (we're using you as a sample case, right?) — since you didn't know that flagged revisions were only used during part of the lifecycle, there seems no reason to suppose that you would have known if they were used during a slightly different part of the lifecycle. So the psychological dampening effect that we're talking about would not be any different even if such a delay in flagging were effected.
  • Unregistered users seem to make copyedits to recently published articles often enough. I myself, when I was new here (now using that earlier version of me as a sample case), had never heard of flagged revisions until after I made my first copyedit to a recently published Wikinews article. When my edit showed up as a "draft", though, what I thought was, "Oh, neat. That makes sense, for a news outlet." And then I came back later to check, just to see if my edit had been accepted into the primary version yet; it actually became a draw for me to become a repeat customer, with a gentle thrill to see my contribution being actively accepted by the community (a much more community-oriented experience than making a Wikipedia edit and never getting any feedback from anyone else other than not being reverted; not being reverted could be simply because nobody else actually noticed one's edit).
(BTW, to see unpublished articles, check out the Wikinews:Newsroom.) --Pi zero (talk) 11:48, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
One thing to try to correct is the topic of the second bullet point. I'm new (as an editor) to Wikinews, but I'm not at all new to WMF editing. I knew a couple of years ago, the first time my eyes layed site of a story on WIkinews, that Flagged Revisions were being used. To a brand new editor to wiki's in general, your point would likely be relevent, but I doubt that most who come here are actually new to editing wikis, especially since the use of wikis has spread so far and wide outside of WMF projects. Ohms law (talk) 07:38, 29 August 2009 (UTC)
In fact, I'd been contributing to Wikipedia for several years before that. Granted, the order in which I learned things is partly a result of history that's unlikely to repeat itself for younger people who weren't old enough to remember when there wasn't a Web.
Two experiential factors that do seem relevant to the psychology of the situation are (1) whether one has a previous negative impression of FlaggedRevs, and (2) whether one knows in advance that Wikinews uses FlaggedRevs. Prior knowledge of FlaggedRevs presumably won't cause difficulty unless one has a negative impression of it. If one does have a previous negative impression of it, then even if one doesn't know in advance that Wikinews uses FlaggedRevs (though one might guess that it would), the moment one recognizes that it's being used here I suppose one might have an allergic reaction to it.
A non-experiential factor is the personality of the person involved. I reacted this way; that doesn't mean everyone, even with the same relevant experiential factors, would react that way. I tend to engage in communities with careful conscious thought about their social dynamics, which I suspect may only be typical of about three percent of the population at large. I recall Brian McNeil (who is, for perspective, behind the creation of that excellent Howdy template) remarking here a while back that some people 'click' with Wikinews relatively quickly, while others don't find it as natural. Perhaps we ought to be asking what personality traits contribute to that. (Interestingly, the negative reactions to Wikinews that were being discussed there didn't actually have to do directly with FlaggedRevs.) --Pi zero (talk) 12:59, 29 August 2009 (UTC)

FlaggedRevs and DPL

If you're from Wikipedia, you won't have seen one of the sneaky extras we have - Dynamic Page Lists. To sum up DPL as shortly as possible: It lists a specified number of articles based on criteria on the categories articles are, or are not, in. This means huge swathes of Wikinews are unmaintained, but the content they display remains fresh as long as new articles are churned out and correctly categorised.

FlaggedRevs, as stated above, is for Quality Control. A key driver of this process was getting Wikinews accepted as a source for Google News.

DPL needed amended to take this into account. Fortunately, I realised this prior to us rigourously enforcing a review process. There are now options in the DPL syntax which allow you to select only reviewed (actually sighted, but that's a technicality) articles, and to make the DPL give an explicit link to the last reviewed/sighted version. If you look at the URLs in the Latest News section on the main page you'll see this.

Prior to this (i.e. for over 5 years) anybody could get a link to something on the main page just by putting it in the right categories. Now they can't I'd say our vandalism has dropped a fair bit.

Once you see and start to figure out how this gels together it just becomes part of the furniture. When you've got editor status Recent Changes highlights details about the state of articles following a listed change. The review option there gives a diff between the last sighted and latest versions. One click, and it's live. It can be a little more complex if there's been a half-dozen or more edits since the article was last sighted, but at the moment we manage to keep on top of that pretty well. --Brian McNeil / talk 13:53, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

Good info here, thank you (and I appreciate the how to template on my talk page as well. I never received one before now). however, that actually highlights a corollary point that I'm attempting to bring up here. There is something of a learning curve to get over, coming to Wikinews from Wikipedia. I've done some editing on Wikibooks as well, so FlaggedRev's aren't completely foreign to me, but the main point is that it's different here. Part of that may be intentional and/or desirable, I don't really know, but it is there. Again though, thanks for the info. Ohms law (talk) 07:44, 29 August 2009 (UTC)
Although Flagged Revisions is vital to our continued listing on GoogleNews (if FR goes, we're off GN), that's not the only reason it exists.
I'd like to highlight the importance of having some editorial control on Wikinews. Yes this is a wiki, but it is also a news site. The very nature of news means that some editorial control must be maintained in order to keep the content fresh and reasonably reliable. In the MSM the position of editor is held by a single person or a small group of people. Because this is a wiki, we've spread that responsibility as widely as possible. Basically anyone with an account can become an editor upon request.
But why don't these same issues apply on Wikipedia? Well, largely it is due to the timescales involved in article creation. A Wikipedia article might well take years to develop into a decent, informative article. That's cool. It's an encyclopedia, so it can do that. We're a news site though. News. The very word explicitly states our problem: news has to be new, else it isn't news (it becomes encyclopedic content).
This means that our articles have to be spit out in a rapidfire fashion, and that their is no opportunity to revise them later if something goes wrong during article creation (either purposefully or accidentally). So while Wikipedia can leave inaccurate information in articles for years before correcting it, we can't. We have hours to their years. This necessitates a far greater level of editorial control on Wikinews than exists on Wikipedia. (I actually oppose Flagged Revs on Wikipedia. It is unnecessary. That is not the case on Wikinews.) Gopher65talk 15:22, 8 September 2009 (UTC)
As a concept, we could create a Wikipedia->Wikinews "How to" Guide. In other words a page specifically devoted to explaining to experienced Wikipedian's, how Wikinews is different, and how to adapt to our ways. Really, once you understand that the main page is all that matters on Wikinews, that DPL updates it, Flagged Revisions is an important part of that and our develop/review/publish process - you're golden. --ShakataGaNai ^_^ 02:21, 14 September 2009 (UTC)
Wikibooks has a page Help:Wikibooks for Wikimedians. --Pi zero (talk) 03:14, 14 September 2009 (UTC)
Good to know. We started writing Wikinews:For Wikipedians‎ earlier, I will study more what Wikibooks has to see if there is any concepts we can borrow. --ShakataGaNai ^_^ 04:49, 14 September 2009 (UTC)
This is good idea, should help the transition process from WP to here less confusing. I've expanded the page a bit. Tempodivalse [talk] 12:51, 14 September 2009 (UTC)


Cleanup of accredited reporters and Wikinewsie

Okay, from the above vote we're pretty clear that all those deemed inactive when it started lose accreditation. It now has to be put into place, or operation. If any of the old (soon to be ex-) accredited reporters come back they can go through the accreditation process again.

WN:CV is the most obvious thing to clean up, and removing and templates or other assertion of accreditation from appropriate user pages. After that it's really sorting out http://www.wikinewsie.org and the email addresses on it. Email is not a problem, just time-consuming as accounts are controlled through a slow secure web interface. The actual website and its content is a little more problematic. It is on shared hosting so there are restrictions on the number of people that can access it, and what can be done (no shell access). The list of accredited users on the front page is really awful to maintain. It is generated from a MySQL database and the only way to update it is via a klunky web interface. The whole thing needs integrated into a standardised look and feel where that is possible. --Brian McNeil / talk 16:30, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

What Wikinewsie has just now

  • Simple table and code to list accredited users on the front page
  • The Editors' blog, not frequently updated (fails auto-update ATM), has nonstandard skin (thanks Symode), generally a bit of a mess
  • Access to web mail (accredited users only), unfortunately no customisation of the look of this allowed
  • A private wiki - for accredited users and administrators (With a Public: namespace anyone can view)
  • A private calendaring/appointment tool (again, Godaddy provided tool - not really able to customise)
  • Another instance of WordPress, not yet in use or configured

What it should have

  • A more professional front page, without listing the accredited reporters directly there
  • A consistency of appearance whether in a blog, the main site, or the wiki pages
  • The ability to easily update details of who is and is not accredited

Discussion of where to take Wikinewsie

  1. If you are responding to someone's statement, please reply to it inline
  2. If you wish to state your own position, please append it to this sub-section and use the {{user}} template at the top to make it stand out
Wikinewsie has not had a lot of thought or effort put into it and could do with a lot of improvement. I have a strong suspicion that one of the biggest issues about a consistent look and feel would be the existence of a wiki on the site. That is, once you've decided on the wiki skin (say, Vector), you're designing the rest of the site round it.
Being a given that we have a wiki, can this be used to maintain the data about accredited reporters? If that is on a Public: namespace page, can the page content be embedded in a 'normal' page on the website without the wiki interface?
I think a better approach would be to have the bio's link directly to pages on the public namespace. Bawolff 21:07, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
In doing that, say Public:Accredited Reporters and individual pages for people, how much of the standard Mediawiki stuff that goes with the skin can be suppressed? You don't want links to upload content unless you're logged in, and you don't want a main page link to go to the wiki's main page. --Brian McNeil / talk 21:51, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
Depends how adequetl we want to supress it. If using css display: none; is fine, we can supress pretty much whatever we want. Conceivably we could somehow make it so that the wiki could be accessed from different directories (aka you go to wikinewsie.org/wiki/blah for normal wiki and wikinewsie.org/public/blah maps to wikinewsie.org/wiki/public:blah , but with different css). Bawolff 12:45, 24 September 2009 (UTC)
Would it not be better to have them link to bios on here, so the majority of stuff is over here?   Tris   14:57, 24 September 2009 (UTC)
The site has it's own "derivative" of the Wikinews logo. Would we continue with that, or redesign?
As there are 'spare' MySQL databases, should we be restricted to just 'The Editors' blog' or possibly also add an 'Opinions' blog?