Wikinews:Water cooler/policy/archives/2011/July

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ArbCom elections

Here's the proposal (from here):

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 3th, 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.

This can be a painless process, I believe, if the election committee takes my strong advice to not create a page for "questions for all candidates"; as I elaborated on the above-linked thread, questions for each candidate should be located under that candidate. The creation last year, for the first time, of a page of questions for all candidates resulted in a grossly politicized process for what should be the most profoundly unpolitical of elections. I remember one person remarking early last month (on IRC, maybe?) that if we did that again this year they wouldn't be willing to stand for ArbCom this year.

We need at least two people for the election committee. Volunteers? --Pi zero (talk) 12:46, 29 June 2011 (UTC)

  • I can if needed, but I'm going to be traveling during the nomination and first few days of the voting periods. fetch·comms 15:54, 29 June 2011 (UTC)
  • I volunteer to join the election committee as well, but I will be busy this weekend, it being a holiday weekend in the US. —Mikemoral♪♫ 05:58, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
Though we have two for the election committee, obviously at least three would be even better :-).
There is now a 2011 election page; discussion should probably continue on its talk page. --Pi zero (talk) 22:48, 4 July 2011 (UTC)

Review tag

At WN:Reviewing articles it states "To ask for an article to be reviewed {{review}} should be added to the article. {{develop}} gets replaced by the review template, once the article has enough information, and has been checked for spelling and grammar errors."

Recently, I've noticed many drive-by additions of review tags (one specifically without the consent of the articles' contributor). The above policy is not clear on who can add a review tag. Should any user be able to add it or just those who made significant contributions to the article? --William S. Saturn (talk) 22:29, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

Tricky. If someone has left a finished-looking article for several hours, there's no good reason not to tag it for review. If they've gone off looking for additional information, they should probably comment to that effect on the talk page. --Brian McNeil / talk 00:14, 23 July 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia as a source

Can wikipedia be used as a source for background information? And if so, does it need to be noted under sources or do links in the article suffice? --William S. Saturn (talk) 23:45, 22 July 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia itself states it is not to be considered a reliable source. However, good Wikipedia articles will refer to reliable sources.
A point perhaps more important to know is that Wikipedia's license is not compatible with ours; their content, no matter how well sourced, cannot be imported. --Brian McNeil / talk 00:10, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
I don't think a blanket ban on Wikipedia is helpful. The context is vital here. When one simply wishes to point to basic, straightforward facts that any reasonably intelligent person could synthesise, Wikipedia does the job just fine. It's our sister project for a reason. We link to it, and when appropriate, it makes sense to use that. We shouldn't need a source if a few minutes on Wikipedia would allow anyone to deduce simple facts that aren't included in the sources. Imagine Bill Clinton keeled over and died and we were writing an obituary: all the news sources we used to source his obituary pointed out that he was President of the US, but failed to mention that he was Governor of Arkansas before that. When we come to write a story, we should be able to trust Wikipedia to fill a few small gaps between the main sources. —Tom Morris (talk) 00:19, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Good answer (referring to Brian McNeil) I notice quite a few articles use a Wikipedia article as a source. Mattisse (talk) 00:21, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
I specifically request comment on the discussions on Talk:British painter Lucian Freud dies aged 88 and Talk:Aaron Swartz arrested and charged for downloading JSTOR articles In one case quotes are lifted from a Wikipedia article, one of which is unsourced and the other a statement referring to what another newspaper said from a 2001 BBC article. In the other article, a legal opinion is given as "common knowledge" and therefore the opinion given that it does not need to be sourced. I would like to know what wikinews policy is regarding these practices in articles writing. Thanks, Mattisse (talk) 00:29, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
Lifting from Wikipedia is a violation of their copyright, it is not compatible with that of Wikinews. Stating something as "common knowledge" is dubious in many cases. Two or three clicks from the w:Bill Clinton article gave a legitimate source for Tom's example. I'd tend towards saying legal opinions aren't common knowledge, they should be sourced to an authority on the law. --Brian McNeil / talk 00:36, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
First of all, using Wikipedia as a source isn't a violation of their copyright any more than using BBC News as a source is a violation of their copyright. Using Wikipedia as a source of background knowledge doesn't suddenly mean we are infringing on Wikipedia's copyright when we aren't infringing on the copyright of BBC News when we use them as a source for the current goings-on. One of the ways that Wikinews can provide value is to provide deeper and richer background information (we sure aren't gonna get the story firstAaron Swartz arrested and charged for downloading JSTOR articles is now overdue a review by 27 hours), and to do that we use Wikipedia as a sort of palimpsest clippings file to put the current news into some kind of useful perspective.
So let's not confuse the legal issue with the Wikinews style issue. Now, "legal opinions" is explicitly not what is being provided in the last paragraph of the Aaron Swartz article. I have simply pointed out that the reason the issue has arisen is that the collection of files Gmaxwell has put up on the net are public domain under US law but are not public domain in other jurisdictions. There is controversy about this and that controversy is reflected in the Bridgeman case. The issue is not complicated to understand and doesn't require a Master's degree in intellectual property law to understand: any reasonable person can, upon reading a few paragraphs of the Wikipedia article, see the connection with the Gmaxwell development in the Swartz/JSTOR story. —Tom Morris (talk) 00:48, 23 July 2011 (UTC)

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I'm not going to engage in this discussion any longer. You've failed to correctly read what I wrote the first time. Someone else can take a turn at correcting your misunderstanding. --Brian McNeil / talk 00:53, 23 July 2011 (UTC)

  • No way, Wikipedia is not a reliable source at all, it's like to use Fox News as one. If you want to use information from Wikipedia, use the sources given in it. アンパロ Io ti odio! 01:03, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
Using Wikipedia as a *source* isn't a copyright violation. Copy and pasting from it is, due to licensing issues. Gopher65talk 01:21, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
Using Wikipedia as a source is a violation of Wikinews policy to use only trustworthy sources — because Wikipedia itself says its articles aren't trustworthy. --Pi zero (talk) 01:50, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
You mean something like this: "This Service is available "as is." We do not warrant that this Service will be uninterrupted or error-free. There may be delays, omissions, interruptions and inaccuracies in the news, information or other materials available through this Service." - Washington Post. See Wikipedia:Non-Wikipedia disclaimers. —Tom Morris (talk) 06:31, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
If you cite Wikipedia, your homework will be marked F-. That a better argument? Or, would the point make more sense were I to say you're daft to cite a source that is not fixed? That anyone can edit? That changes over time?
Just do what the rest of us have always done; follow the footnotes, verify the facts in the source Wikipedia uses, and use that as your source instead of being lazy! --07:25, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
I agree that we shouldn't be sourcing background information to Wikipedia, for the same reasons WP doesn't use itself as a source. The only exception would be where WP itself is part of the story, and even then I'd try and get a permalink to a specific revision to avoid the problem of later changes. the wub "?!" 11:34, 23 July 2011 (UTC)

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This really shouldn't even be controversial (though I've lots of experience with really intelligent people missing the "obvious"; I know, it just... happens). Wikipedia is not fixed and anyone can edit it, so it's common sense you can't trust anything it says unless you verify it in some other, reliable source, and it tells you not to trust anything it says unless you verify it in some other, reliable source. Wandering through the labyrinth of Wikipedia's policies guidelines and essays —it's almost impossible to find these things when you want them, even though they generally are stated clearly and "prominently" if you can figure out where— here's a fairly nice passage from w:WP:CLONE:

"Many hoaxes and urban legends have been started on Wikipedia (see Wikipedia:List of hoaxes on Wikipedia), and many continue to be introduced to this day. In some cases[which?], it has taken several years for the discrepancy to be discovered[citation needed], and by the time the truth was learned, these rumors[which?] had spread to dozens of other sites accessible via a web search."

One of the really profound differences between Wikipedia and Wikinews is that we claim to be reliable (with technical machinery therefor). One of the basic arguments used by Wikipedians in denial about our reliability is that Wikinews is a wiki, and Wikipedia is a wiki, and Wikipedia is fundamentally unreliable, therefore Wikinews must also be fundamentally unreliable. (Kind of like 'flamingos are animals, and elephants are animals, and flamingos are pink, therefore elephants are pink.') --Pi zero (talk) 12:42, 23 July 2011 (UTC)

Oh I agree. I was just saying clarifying that the "licences not compatible" bit only applied to direct copy and pasting, and paraphrasing of Wikipedia. Gopher65talk 13:09, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
The difference is, I don't consider Wikipedia "fundamentally unreliable". I consider it unreliable for some things, but on when Lucian Freud was naturalised as a citizen of the United Kingdom or other such stuff, I've got no reason to doubt it. The immaturity of our attempts to assign sources into "reliable" and "unreliable" boxes is why I finally got around to writing a user essay on Wikipedia this morning: The Reliability Delusion. Wikipedia is reliable enough that you start finding WP articles on the front page of Google News. Given the amount of churnalism in the world, for the basic facts I can't say I honestly trust Wikipedia less than anywhere else these days. In fact, I trust it substantially more than approximately the vast majority of British print journalism. —Tom Morris (talk) 13:17, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
True enough, and there's abundant evidence that other press sources use Wikipedia for information: w:Talk:Ronnie_Hazlehurst#The_SClub_7_Hoax being a prime example of it going wrong, but most of the time they get away with it. The issue is more one of perception, and that we strive to actually cite our sources. The general public (correctly or incorrectly) consider Wikipedia to not be reliable, in fact WP encourages them to think that. So citing it here passes that perceived unreliability over to us.
(I do agree with your essay though that cleanly dividing sources into reliable/unreliable is impossible, and that many Wikipedian rule-driven efforts are doomed to fail) the wub "?!" 13:45, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia has the difficult problem that it needs far more rules than a small project, in order to maintain any sort of long-term trend toward order in such a vast collection of material with very large numbers of contributors. Versus the familiar drawbacks and weaknesses of red tape. They have a dilemma; I sympathize. Okay, getting back to the issue at hand.
The reason to cite a source —on either project— is to allow the reader to judge the trustworthiness of the information. If you don't know where the information came from, you'd be a fool to trust it. And if we find information in Wikipedia, and we aspire to journalistic integrity, we don't just believe it because it was in Wikipedia, we judge how trustworthy it is based on where Wikipedia got it from. And we'd be completely non-credible, and rightly so, if we claimed to believe it because we read it in Wikipedia. We believe it because of our judgement of the source provided by Wikipedia, and therefore that is the source we must list. Duh, there's judgement involved; it isn't judgement of Wikipedia, it's judgement of the source Wikipedia got it from.
Standards are sliding elsewhere. Our value in the world goes up as we maintain our standards while others lose track of the difference between hearsay and news, between opinion and objectivity. It's irrelevant that these things are not absolutes: people use the impossibility of perfection as an excuse to not try, and thereby lessen themselves. --Pi zero (talk) 14:37, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
I was under the impression that the news article was to be written using the sources listed in the aricle, not from the Wikipedia article and not from our own personal knoowledge (unless it is under the "Original reporting" provisio). Am I wrong? Mattisse (talk) 14:45, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
You are exactly right. There is of course the allowance for "common knowledge", but the bar for something to be common knowledge is very high indeed: the standard examples are "Medvedev is President of Russia" and "Paris is in France". --Pi zero (talk) 16:00, 23 July 2011 (UTC)

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This is Wikinews, we've upped our standards - so up yours! :P --Brian McNeil / talk 18:09, 23 July 2011 (UTC)

Lol. We may be better off sticking with "Facts don't cease to be facts, but news ceases to be news." :-)  --Pi zero (talk) 18:17, 23 July 2011 (UTC)

How can incorrectly sourced article be published?

See Talk:British painter Lucian Freud dies aged 88. None of the problems were rectified before publication. Mattisse (talk) 22:21, 23 July 2011 (UTC)

What is OR reporting on wikinews?

See Talk:At least 85 dead in shooting at Norwegian youth camp. Wikipedia, which supposedly has lower standards than wikinews, would never accept a machine translation as valid, and Google translations are notoriously poor. Also, drawing conclusions from a primary source, and turning them into a secondary source would never be tolerated on Wikipedia. How can this be OK for wikinews. It is one wikinews editor's unverified opinion of what the facts are. What gives? Mattisse (talk) 22:30, 23 July 2011 (UTC)

That's, um, the whole point of OR... We take primary sources and interpret them. That's what original reporting is. We allow it, and Wikipedia doesn't - that's why they wouldn't accept it while we do. The machine translation suffices for the short phrases that were used in the article, and is necessary since I'm not aware of anybody on enWikinews who speaks Norwegian. DENDODGE 22:37, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
But not reporter's notes were published. And machine translations would never be accepted by a reputable news organization. So I can take any primary source, such as scientific journal articles, and interpret them as I wish? With no oversight? Piss poor, in my opinion, as that is what poor journalism is. Mattisse (talk) 22:45, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
In this case, it is brief enough phrases to be acceptable and thus labelling it as "piss poor" is unreasonably harsh. When you have experience of working on Original Reporting, then you might be in a position to level such criticism. --Brian McNeil / talk 22:52, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
I have had experience Original reporting on real newspapers, hence I know what it is like to try to get material through an editor without two independent sources, if the two independent sources are primary, i.e. quotes from two unrelated persons in the story. I have sat all night in motel rooms at the site of the icident, waiting for various calls from editors as to what was needed to makes the story publishable. The editor has to go to his editor, ectc. Wikinews seems naive to me. Mattisse (talk) 23:09, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
I somewhat agree with Mattisse. How can a reviewer verify that the writer did not misinterpret the television report?--William S. Saturn (talk) 22:57, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
Agreed. At a minimun, he should place on the article Talk page his reporter's notes, his transcript of the conversation if he recorded it, just like a real newspaper reporter would be required to produce for his editor. Or the notes he took during the interview if he did not record it. Otherwise, anyone could unwittingly misinterpret the facts, if there is no editor or second person to verify. I am stunned that one person can interpret a situation and publish it with no verification. Certainly you know Wikipedia would never condone such laxity. Google is not a reliable translator of material. It is a machine translation. Mattisse (talk) 23:09, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I was clearly negligent. As it is evident tha tI no longer have the trust of the community, I shall stand for reconfirmation of my accredited reporter status. Would you like me to do the same for my reviewer right while I'm at it, since I clearly have no idea what I'm doing? DENDODGE 23:34, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
I don't care. Probably wouldn't be fair if you do it, as I see unprofessional reporting all the time on wikinews. I have read enough articles on wikinews to realize that this is a perversive problem, and so you should probably not be the only one to take the fall for it. In my opinion, wikinews needs to clean up it's act. Mattisse (talk) 23:57, 23 July 2011 (UTC)
I've done it anyway (here). If any significant concerns about the quality of my original reporting are raised, I feel it is only right to reaffirm that I still have the trust of the community. DENDODGE 00:01, 24 July 2011 (UTC)
That seems to be a bit of an overreaction. Furthermore, I do not believe the article is original research. The information you gathered was from the eyewitness reports of other organizations; you were only relaying the information. And of course, there's nothing wrong with that though it may be difficult for a reviewer to confirm.--William S. Saturn (talk) 00:17, 24 July 2011 (UTC)
Serious concerns were raised, and I want to verify that I am still trusted. That's not an overreaction. The only part I listed as OR was the stuff from Document.no, which is a primary source. Similar things have been treated as OR in the past, and I was not aware of any change in policy. A lot of WN's practices are unwritten, and I may well be mistaken, but that is how I understand it. The same three people arguing over this isn;t going to get anything done, so I'm going to wait until someone previously uninvolved comes along before I add more fuel to the fire. I have a My Little Pony fanfic to write and sleep to catch up on in the meantime. DENDODGE 00:23, 24 July 2011 (UTC)
  • (edit conflict. Not to blame User talk:Dendodge overly, a I have noticed many articles following this practice, with no reportor notes on the talk page. I suggesr that wikinews needs to make it's policy clear. In an "real" newspaper, any "orignal sources" need to be verified by others saying essentially the same thing. The decision to publish goes up a chain of editors. Never it is up to the original writer of the article to decided completely, not even in an editorial. Wikinews needs to clean up its act, in my opinion. Because I write synthesized articles, every source is checked to a "t", but under the guise of "OR" reporting, there seems to be no fact checking. The OR report can write whatever his interpretation of the event is with no verification. And without transcripts, or at the very least, reporters notes taken "in vivo", how can this be checked? Mattisse (talk) 00:37, 24 July 2011 (UTC)
Iirc, inadequate reporter's notes on broadcast reports is a pet peeve of Blood Red Sandman's (who is not now here to correct me :-). I agree with xem: broadcast reporting is OR and therefore requires detailed reporter's notes on the talk page.
Responsibility for this laxness falls on reviewers as well, for allowing such things to pass with inadequate reporter's notes. --Pi zero (talk) 01:30, 24 July 2011 (UTC)
Most of the time, our broadcast notes consist of nothing more than "I watched BBC News." I listed each piece of information that came from that source, and elaborated slightly on the details, for each and every piece of information I took from the source. It was a fast-moving story, our article was already a number of hours behind everyone else, and I had no help whatsoever. If I had taken notes of every single thing that was said, I'd probably still be writing it now. Full OR notes for everything would be awesome, but the ones I gave were a hell of a lot better than the ones we usually get, and a decent compromise between verifiability and getting the news out before it ceases to be news. DENDODGE 01:35, 24 July 2011 (UTC)
You're quite right. You did well, and I apologize for any suggestion otherwise on my part. --Pi zero (talk) 02:02, 24 July 2011 (UTC)

Apology to all

I deeply apologize to one and all for "the bad atmosphere created by Mattisse's comments", as represented by this characterization of my use of the phrase "piss poor". I used a poor choice of words in a comment I made intended to suggest an improvement to wikinews. I very much regret it. I hope I will be forgiven. Best wishes, Mattisse (talk) 13:53, 24 July 2011 (UTC)