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

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Review 2.0

I'm starting this up to try and draw general discussion about the review policy, and its flaws, away from C628's current reconfirmation. I'm going to start with a recap of where we're at and what's being done - partly because the last burst of discussion was a while ago, so many folk will be unaware.

There's a proposal for a two-tier review system. Under this, the first-level review would take very little time and be a general once-over of the article. Such articles could be de-published etc, but would be sighted. The second-level would be what we have right now, and anything that went through that would be pushed to Google. It would not be mandatory. We have most of the needed infrastructure - a Google News Site Map (GNSM) has been built, and we have actually got two kinds of reviewer to hand out; we just only use one of them right now. As I understand it, there's very little left to work out, mostly minor things - what date goes on a page if the two reviews were different days etc. As a side-note, the GNSM would also make it possible to pull any article from GNews if problems turned up, as they sometimes do.

The second proposal is just above - Bawolff's hidable inline citations, wherever his code for that has got to. I wouldn't want to make that mandatory, either; it makes articles much harder to write. However, I would like to strongly encourage those who're comfortable with it to use it as it would make reviewing waaay easier.

I'm going to try and poke the folk involved in the technical side of these (Amgine, Brianmc, Bawolff) for 'better' details than I can provide. The key issue, for me, is that the current system only works at all (nevermind if it works well or not) if we've got enough active folk... But while it isn't working, we won't get the required growth.

Now, hopefuly we can talk about review here and save C628's reconfirm - because, making that about the general issue is greatly unfair to C628 and led to me opposing when I might otherwise have supported. I held back pending wether I should ask for a little clarification, and now I regret that because it has become a support/oppose of policy and not a support/oppose of C628. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 19:31, 14 August 2011 (UTC)

  • Fer as I know, the two-tier proposal ultimately failed because it has a fatal flaw; I don't consider it extant. I worked this out after contributing much effort myself to trying to iron out the bugs — find ways to challenge it, and figure out how to overcome those challenges. I eventually found a challenge that neither I nor anyone else came up with a way to overcome. The problem is that it simply isn't possible for the two tracks to coexist. If the unreviewed track is allowed to exist, the reviewed track (the thing that makes us a news site rather than a blog) will quickly cease to exist in practice, being swamped and smothered by the blog. Volunteer wikis are fueled by idealism; when a project backs away from its ideals, it's through.
  • I half agree about it being unfair that C628's reconfirm turned into a referendum on the foundations of Wikinews — though C628 should have realized that the "let's be a blog" faction would converge on that confirm like (well, okay, that's a pretty strong simile, so I'll leave it to your imagination). It was obvious to me from the moment C628 opened the reconfirm that such would probably happen; I tried to give it an opportunity to not happen, by handing xem an opportunity to say "I won't do it again" — and xe couldn't bring xyrself to say that, which is a positive reflection on xyr honesty (which I've always respected) but not on the actual issue of the reconfirm.
--Pi zero (talk) 21:06, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
That presupposes there's an unreviewed track. I say that assumption can be taken as null; a basic check at the first level should weed out blog-like articles. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 21:15, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
I'm willing to entertain the notion of having two tiers. Wikipedia has a similar quality control system in place (the actually have three tiers). But what standards would tier one articles be held to? Ragettho (talk) 21:33, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Whilst I'm sure everyone has a vague idea, that's something that needs worked out in exact terms... But, I'd suggest we check it a) is sourced properly (but without doing the full verify) b) has all the code/format (most articles already do and it's easy and quick to add) and c) doesn't have any major NPOV problems (total rants would be stopped, but perhaps not carefuly looking for tiny biases). That should be a fairly quick check. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 21:36, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I would propose something along the lines of the following (which incorporates some things that have been floating around in my mind for a while but weren't mentioned in the previous discussion:
  1. An article can receive a cursory review. This makes it appear on the main page and portals, but nowhere else, clearly set apart from published articles. The cursory review would ensure neutrality, newsworthiness, etc., and include a brief check that the article roughly corresponds with the style guide and sources. It is accompanied by a big template at the top of the page, warning about the possibility of errors.
  2. After this, it can have the sources and style-guide compliance checked in detail. {{Published}} is added, the big banner disappears from the top, and it joins the other articles in the main DPL.
  3. If stage two has not occurred by the time the article is due to turn stale, it can be deleted, as any unreviewed article would be currently. Alternatively, it can be reviewed without a date bump. This all makes it a highly unsatisfactory outcome, so it would hopefully never happen. It's basically the same as going completely unreviewed right now, with the added possibility of a particularly good article at least remaining on the site in some form.
So the new workflows (using FlaggedRevs terminology) would be:
  • Develop → Sighted → Reviewed → Archived
  • Develop → Sighted → Stale → Deleted [because we definitely don't want this, it will hopefully happen very rarely and act as an incentive to do a full review]
In addition to the ones we already have:
  • Develop → Deleted
  • Develop → Reviewed → Archived [although this actually only uses the lower "sighted" level of FlaggedRevs]
Now, tell me how wrong I am! DENDODGE 21:44, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Hmmm, I'm not convinced we want to delete the ones that never make it the whole way through. I'd like both to show up on the main page, but differentiated somehow. Possibly anything from totally separate lists to a little 'verified' logo next to the link. Perhaps a good incentive - as well as good practice generally - to get things reviewed in full is for only tier-two articles to be used as lead stories... Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 21:48, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Well, I figured the problem π0 raised was partly - if not completely - due to the fact that we were treating both stages as subsets of publication. And so I chose to solve it by instead making the cursory check act more like a subset of developing. If an article is good, it can be reviewed fully without a datebump within, say, 24 hours of going stale, and thus remain on the site without getting deleted. The fact that the review will be less of a job than it currently is will hopefully mean this happens more often than it currently would for articles that go stale while tagged with {{Review}} - especially so as we don't currently have prevision for it in policy. DENDODGE 21:54, 14 August 2011 (UTC)

[I've had many, many consecutive edit conflicts trying to post this; I keep glancing at what's new, and just slightly adjusting therefor. If we're not careful, the project will grind to a halt while we talk about this stuff.]

Cursory review doesn't work. It was (I'm pretty sure) my suggestion, and the epic fail I'm describing applies regardless of whether there's cursory review in place or not. (Ragettho, note re Wikipedia's arrangement: Wikinews is not Wikipedia. :-) Note also that, although I place a couple of different kinds of importance on the stylistic stuff that makes some people claim we're rule-bound, the really important parts of review are the the massively time-consuming things included in "source checking", and those things are both what makes us not a blog, and what would have to be omitted from the "lower tier".

There is an idea I find very interesting, that Bawolff has raised twice since I've been here (let's say that means xe raises it every year or year and a half). Late review. This is fundamentally different from the primary two-tier proposal (as I understand it), in that an article can never make it into the archives unless it eventually passes every criterion except freshness. The state of this idea as I recall it:

  • The article would have to have been started while still fresh.
  • Only articles that pass review while still fresh would be pushed off site (GNews etc.), although some provision might be made for late-reviewed articles to appear on the main page.
  • The late-reviewed article would have some sort of up-front distinctive tag on it, forever marking it as late-reviewed, and its dateline would not be the date of late review, but something earlier... maybe T plus 2 days?
  • Because all articles have to eventually meet peer-review standards, people always strive for those standards, completely (I think) preventing the fatal flaw I was describing with the primary two-tier proposal.
  • Although it might be very good training for authors to keep trying to get an article right for as long as it takes to do so, there really is a challenge here because one cannot be entirely neutral in presenting a snapshot-in-time of something that happened a considerable time ago, after you already know about other stuff than happened in the meantime. Brian McNeil rejected the idea decisively on this basis, each time it was brought up. I think we can find a way to cope with this, but this is definitely the thing we would have to find a way to cope with. (I've some ideas.)

--Pi zero (talk) 21:58, 14 August 2011 (UTC)

Late review is a (small) part of my proposal above, which I crafted in an attempt to deal, to an extent, with your concerns. To what extent do you feel it does so, if at all? DENDODGE 22:14, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Source-checking for tier one doesn't have to be as rigorous as our current standards. The only thing we would have to do is ensure that the main focus of the article matches the main focus of the source articles.
The main thing that sets us apart from a blog, IMO, is our NPOV policy. As long as we enforce the NPOV policy, I think a two-tier system is doable. Ragettho (talk) 22:39, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
[edit conflict, again]
(Ragettho: I don't think you understand the nature of the problem I'm describing.)
Dendodge: Here are the two major differences I think I'm seeing between the two proposals:
  • In your proposal, an article could appear on the main page without having passed a full review. My first impression is, that would not avoid the problem I'm concerned about. "My" proposal allows people to keep trying even after the freshness horizon is past, but also motivates them to keep trying, because it doesn't give them recognition for achievement until and unless they do meet the criteria. The article could hang around for weeks (unless we decide there's some limit after all) without being deleted or archived, if it's still being worked on with a still-realistic chance of eventual success. We would have to think carefully about how to prevent people from getting really pissed off when there's a fundamental problem that will always prevent their article from being published, even though they expend many days on it past the freshness horizon; presumably we'd want some way to cut things short if success is really impossible. (Hm.)
  • In my proposal, when an article becomes stale, that means it can't be, er, fresh-reviewed and therefore pushed out to other sites (I'm assuming it doesn't get updated to become fresh again). It might still be brought up to speed for late-review, and thereafter find a happy home in our archives. With an up-front tag that it was late-reviewed, of course, but we just want that to be unmistakeable, not an eyesore like the {{correction}} notice or something. It's something to be proud of. (We would want two separate review queues, btw, one for fresh-review and one for late-review, because obviously reviewers should put their efforts first into articles that are still capable of being fresh-reviewed.)
--Pi zero (talk) 23:04, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Yes, but they would probably appear on the main page in a separate section from our primary output - not necessarily "below the fold", but not as prominent. I think the majority of contributors would be willing to work to get their articles to a completely publishable state so they appear in the proper list, can become leads, etc. And - perhaps most importantly - won't be deleted in, say, seven days unless it receives a full review. That, alone, would be motivation enough. Some people would complain that we are deleting published articles or something, but that is exactly the mindset that I am trying to get people out of - these are, effectively, developing articles that look like they're probably OK. It allows for timeliness, and doesn't compromise too much on verifiability.
Your proposal, I think, will actually reduce timeliness - right now, when an article has been in the queue for two days, someone will take the time to review it. If we remove the time restrictions, people will continue to not bother well past the time the story becomes stale. Procrastination is, frankly, human nature. The issue we're trying to solve is not quality, nor volume, but timeliness - getting the news out there while it is still news. DENDODGE 23:45, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
I disagree with some of that, agree with some of it, and the line between the two is positively fractal. This is getting to be a really interesting discussion — and I think I have to force myself to wait a meaningful while before responding. Maybe tomorrow morning. Otherwise I'll end up staying up all night and getting nothing else done (seriously, that's happened to me before on Wikinews). --Pi zero (talk) 00:12, 15 August 2011 (UTC)
Note: I'm having serious computer problems, which may prevent me from doing much on-wiki for some unknown time (hour or two, day or two, week or two...). --Pi zero (alt acct) (alt talk) 12:06, 15 August 2011 (UTC)

Let's try to get this discussion moving again, because I think we all agree that the current review system we have in place is unsustainable. If I understand the proposals correctly, we are now considering a two-tiered review system that still forces the lower tier to eventually comply with the standards of the higher tier, albeit at a slower pace. Hopefully this proposal will encourage more users to collaboratively edit the articles, especially if you have a banner saying "Help us fix this or the article will be unpublished!" Ragettho (talk) 14:42, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

I'm not altogether comfortable with "the current review system we have in place is unsustainable". There's always room for improvement —I'm not advocating stasis— but I think it's also very easy to exaggerate the problems, both in severity, depth, and urgency, and I'm not convinced near-term major change is necessary or even desirable. (I've been hoping late review could be arranged as a rather mild change, and indeed my biggest qualms about it are whether it can be made sufficiently mild.) The single thing I'd most like to do to improve things in the near term is to get my computer problems fixed so I can participate in review again, and the next after that is to figure out how to add incremental data entry fields to the article wizard (as the article wizard aims to improve quality of submitted articles and therefore efficiency of available review time).
I was going to next write a (hopefully very succinct) description of advantageous and disadvantageous motivations entailed by various combinations of features in an article workflow, including the two or three most notably proposed combinations here, and of course the one we currently use. This I think could be quite valuable in understanding the landscape of possibilities. It's a big job to draft such a description, even bigger to make it lean enough to avoid accusations of Wikipedian verbosity — and if I weren't spending all my time trying to solve my computer problems, I'd be spending most of my Wikinews time just at the moment trying to help out with the review queue. --Pi zero (alt acct) (alt talk) 15:53, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
Fixing your computer, as you point out, is a very short-term solution, as is creating a more efficient article wizard. Newer users will continue to submit substandard articles that lack cohesion and neutrality (the hardest-to-fix problems I've seen so far), whether they type it in manually or through incremental data fields. Furthermore, our high dependence on the availability of reviewers is what makes the current system "unsustainable" — many UOW students have so far submitted fairly well-written material here on Wikinews, but the lack of reviewers is causing much of their work to go to waste.
What we need is a system that allows us to publish articles that are "kinda ready" into the lower tier, akin to what happened with Magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia felt up and down U.S. east coast, Pentagon evacuated. That article was very short when it was published, but with frequent collaboration and reviews, it eventually grew to a lengthy article that has a lot of sources and photos. Obviously all of the proposals will have to be thought through more carefully, but nonetheless I do think that any two-tier system would be an improvement to the workflow we currently have. Ragettho (talk) 02:40, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
  • A two-tier system in which the lower tier represents less rigorous review would not only not be an improvement, it would be the end of the project.
  • A two-tier system whose "lower" tier doesn't represent less rigorous review, bears very careful thought. So that's worth pursuing at a propitious moment.
--Pi zero (talk) 05:19, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Would you please explain your reasoning, or at least point me to a previous post where you have articulated your arguments? Saying "I don't think you understand the nature of the problem I'm describing" without further explanation does not help. This discussion will move forward only if we all are willing to critique the merits of each person's ideas, in addition to presenting our own suggestions.
I won't be available to contribute starting later today until Sunday, but I just wanted to post this now because I really think this discussion ought to be moving forward. (Though the fact that only two of us are currently participating is actually quite disappointing.) I still believe that the review system currently in place is holding Wikinews back from potential growth, and it needs to be fixed as soon as possible to accommodate the contributions of the UOW students. Ragettho (talk) 17:08, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
A meta-observation: my remarks here tend to come out abrupt (for perspective, that last one took me fully two hours to write) because it would be appallingly easy for me to spend days on end doing nothing but crafting explanations on this subject, and while preventing me from doing actual news work on the site, they'd be pretty much a total loss — discussing at length why something is a non-starter is hard to characterize as productive. So I'm working really, really hard to avoid indulging in that, at least until I can do it in the context of a comprehensive overview of all this stuff (although, as I see more and more fundamental problems with the late review concept, that too is becoming less and less attractive as a near-term time expenditure).
I'll make only "one", painfully limited remark (because I'm surrounded by slippery slopes, here). Our output product is not what authors produce; that is a trap of thinking I too was lured half into, and took a long time to find my way out of. The trap is essentially a denial that review has value — a position that looks absurd when stated baldly, but the output-product view allows the denial to come in by stealth, so one doesn't realize having denied it. Our output is rigorously reviewed articles. A blog values only authorship; we value both authorship and review, and some of the necessary things that make us worthwhile as a project are profound benefits of fully integrating review into the equation. Our high standards are why the UoW students are here, and no way no how should we consider changing our standards "to accommodate them". What we have at the moment is not a fundamental failure of how our project works, but a day-to-day challenge of how to find the most promising articles within a long review queue (actually more of a review pool atm). (Drat, I have to stop at this point, because I'm about to go shooting down one of those slippery slopes.) --Pi zero (talk) 18:08, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
"What we have at the moment is not a fundamental failure of how our project works, but a day-to-day challenge of how to find the most promising articles within a long review queue" <-- so by that logic, you don't support changing the review system because it works when there's only a few articles written. But when there's many written, as is the case now, the system collapses. And since only increasing the article output is going to make Wikinews more relevent, you advocate for a self-defeating strategy. Unless people like publishing only an article or two a day, that is indeed a fundamental failure of how our project works. C628 (talk) 22:11, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Ragettho — Given changed circumstances, I'll try to find time to piece together some sort of succinct description of those motivational factors I was referring to earlier. Obviously I can't promise anything, but hopefully I'll be able to produce something tolerably presentable sometime in the next few days. --Pi zero (talk) 13:28, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Addendum: We've lost power, and are now running on a backup generator. It has limited fuel, and we'll probably only run it for maybe an hour twice a day (in case this turns into a week-long outage), so I'll only be around occasionally for however long this goes on (er, stays off). --Pi zero (talk) 14:26, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

Section break

(Reigniting this thread!) I agree with C628. Another fundamental flaw in our current review system is that it deters the writers from producing the ideal article. Articles that are long and use too many sources take a long time to review, so they are often failed for staleness. Writers therefore tend to write shorter articles that use the minimum two sources, reducing the likelihood that the articles "fairly represent all sides in a news story" (WN:NPOV).

Quite frankly, I fail to see why the Wikipedia system wouldn't work here on Wikinews. Having a lower tier would surely reduce the quality of most of our articles in the short run, but over the long run the rising output of articles would ideally increase the amount of attention given to the project, and we would eventually have a decent crop of "good articles" that we can still be proud of. Ragettho (talk) 18:47, 3 September 2011 (UTC)

The above post has more thought-provoking and meaningful content than the rest of the thread put together! It deserves to have its own section.
My presence always stirs controversy, yet this was such a fascinating discussion that I could hardly resist commenting. But I'll keep it short. The argument that "the status quo is working well" becomes harder to sell after one studies the statistics. (Note, in particular, "New wikireporters", "New articles per day", and "Very active wikireporters".) Tempodivalse [talk] 19:24, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
It is very wrong to try and draw an analogue with Wikipedia's system; an encyclopedia entry and a news article are completely different animals. There isn't the time pressure at all on Wikipedia, and incremental improvement is possible there. You need to consider why we have review, and what we're wanting to achieve with a two-tier system. I would disregard any statistics for the time being, getting hung up on how effectively we rewrite MSM material is a red-herring. What pleased me most in the last week was seeing two OR stories on leads at the same time. Our long-term goal should be to have the majority of work as OR, and synthesis stuff an effective apprenticeship.
So, the core of a review is really: newsworthiness, lack of copyright infringement, verifiability, style and NPOV. That we set higher standards than most of the mainstream is something to be proud of; that it limits output is regrettable, but understandable.
If we accept a lower standard, what - in 3-4 sentences - is the essence of it? No matter how much we all want to increase output, we need to have a clear consensus on that, then we can move forward.
Anyway, until someone can say there is a clear, concise, definition of a minimum review standard, I'm stepping back out of this discussion; it's become overly verbose and my time would be better spent trying to work with the UoW students. In the long-term I'd like some of them to graduate to reviewer and in later course years get credit for acting as copyeditors and fact-checkers. If we help their use of Wikinews be a success, it will over the longer term make the project viable in an educational context. --Brian McNeil / talk 20:30, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
Why disregard statistics? They are a reliable long-term indicator of a project's (and, by extension, a project's policy's) viability. We have stayed at unprecedentedly low activity levels for over six months. Surely you don't mean to say this isn't a cause for any concern. Tempodivalse [talk] 21:07, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
Tempo, statistics are mostly a way of misunderstanding situations with confidence. You remember the attributed-to-Twain comment 'there are three kinds of lies — lies, damn lies, and statistics'? Well, even when one isn't deliberately twisting them, they practically never mean what most observers think they mean. So they're much more insidious that mere lies, or even damn lies. They actively reach out to mislead you. --Pi zero (talk) 21:24, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
Fourth commenter with a fourth view to give(!). Guess this is why Brian's stepping back from the verbosity - I did for a while, too. The stats seem fine for an understanding of where we are; but I feel we should put them aside for where we go next. Not to say we shouldn't (cautiously) use them to monitor the progress... Although some things, like quality, aren't measureable by stats; we could have lots of readers if we were simlar to The News of the World. So useful, but not the be all and end all. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 21:31, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
I don't think I agree about even measuring where we are by the stats. Figuring out what is and isn't reflected in them is usually far more work than it's worth (and that's assuming one can successfully puzzle it out; most people don't have the knack). I recall Tempo trying to use stats about corrected articles, a while back, to judge accuracy (I hope it was accuracy, not quality), which is wrong in so many ways one could write an essay on that alone; my point isn't to rehash that particular issue, but to illustrate that Tempo has an unfortunate long-term addiction to approaching stats as an oracle from which xe draws the conclusions xe already wanted to draw (the nature of oracles immemorial). --Pi zero (talk) 21:44, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
Somewhat harsh on Tempo, I feel (although perhaps fair on stats). Hmm. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 21:46, 3 September 2011 (UTC)

I still say disregard statistics for now. I don't want to delve into the six months of low output; but, people campaigning here, there, and everywhere, with a picture of me as some sort of ogre is more than unhelpful. That may be, as BRS says, being "harsh on Tempo", but there are oh-so many examples of where disregarding my advice and/or opinions has gone very, very badly.

We seem, regardless of what we do here on Wikinews, stuck with my main annoyance – Wikipedians will never stop using their encyclopedia as a news site. There are those in The Other Place™ who will concoct any excuse they can to decline appropriate links from "not a news site" templates to Wikinews. Then, our reliability is called into question, and use of Wikinews as a source is flat-out refused. I'm, frankly, past caring when it comes to that; in terms of competence, I feel the average Wikinewsie is worth any dozen, randomly selected, Wikipedians in terms of writing ability.

Wikinews has outlasted at least a dozen other citizn journalism projects. Our biggest challenge is keeping to NPOV, and we by-and-large manage - content-wise - far more integrity and respectability than just about any mainstream publication on the planet.

Can we find a way to make reviewing easier? I doubt it. It would, first, require that contributors be able to write extremely well in the first place. As any reviewer will attest, most can't.

That I can't see a solution to the project's issues does not mean there isn't one; but, if someone cannot articulate a workable way forward in a handful of sentences—which everyone sees as viable—then continuing this discussion is just an exercise in self-flagellation. --Brian McNeil / talk 22:43, 3 September 2011 (UTC)

Brian — You mentioned a while back writing an essay for newcomers about how easy it can be to do original reporting. I said I wanted to see that. I do want to see that. It's one instance of the sort of genuinely valuable project improvement that we need, that we aren't doing while we're flubbing around here with alternative workflows that all have severe flaws.
Ragettho — Not a day goes by that I don't spend some more time thinking through how to write a neat synopsis of the big picture of this stuff as I see it. Including all the interesting question marks. (There's some degree of depth to the image, as that big picture has really been my primary focus here for the... three years?... since I arrived.) So from my perspective the idea of "reigniting"/"keeping alive" has never applied. I do think this thread is a huge pile of mostly-very-low-density text, and frankly I don't consider it worth repeatedly applying life support to. When I finally formulate a comment of the sort I'm striving for, I mean to put it in a fresh thread, even if this one hasn't been autoarchived by then. (That's supposing what I come up with is best expressed as a wc thread rather than, say, an essay.) --Pi zero (talk) 22:05, 3 September 2011 (UTC)

Since I was asked to address this topic whilst a very long distance from internet, I didn't. But I will briefly do so now:

  • there is a single advocate of status quo, who has consistently and resiliently opposed any attempt to streamline/modify the review process. This user is valuable to the community, therefore all attempts to modify the review process have been abandoned in favour of placating this user.
  • A two-tier review process is eminently implementable with current technology. The primary argument in favour is un-publishability; that is, anyone can readily and easily unpublish an article which does not meet minimum community standards. What those standards may be is currently undefined, but they do not need to be predefined before implementation of a two-tier system. Organic development of standards is traditional on en.Wikinews, but meh.

Beyond this is mostly mental masturbation. Feel free to continue to do so; I quit being involved with it after ensuring the primary issue was resolved technically. - Amgine | t 03:03, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Not sure how to count the falsehoods in that first bullet — three or four. --Pi zero (talk) 03:42, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Results, not words. - Amgine | t 04:07, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Style guide

I am a relatively new editor here at Wikinews, but I noticed the style guide conflicts with much of the content featured on the main page. The guide states that all paragraphs after the lead should contain only one or two sentences (three if they are short). Apple executive Steve Jobs resigns, Japan nuclear disaster: areas to remain off-limits for decades, and UK electoral commission asked to investigate News International payoffs all contain relatively long paragraphs and I believe it improves the articles. I also think the information on the purpose of the first paragraph is a little too similar to encyclopedic writing. I think that in a news article, the first paragraph should grab the readers' attention and lay out what the article is going to be about. This is slightly different than a summary of the article like what is used on Wikipedia. Ryan Vesey Review me! 04:36, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

I found another section of the style guide which either needs enforced compliance or a change. The style guide mandates in-text attribution; however, articles do not give the attribution. For example, the third paragraph of Japan nuclear disaster: areas to remain off-limits for decades offers no attribution. In addition, an article I wrote Apple executive Steve Jobs resigns was passed with no attribution in the second or third paragraph. Would it be fair to modify the style guide to say that "in text attribution is required for any quotations included in a story"? Ryan Vesey Review me! 04:51, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Some general points. (Apologies this will be longer than Wikinewsie culture usually approves; "Wikipedian" is the pejorative term here for long posts.)
  • The way things work is way more complex (I'm tempted to use the idiom "infinitely more complex") than what is written down, or probably can be written down. Even WN:IAR has exceptions (independent review is the most prominent exception to IAR, and is explicitly named there). What's most important in the SG is part of the complexity..
  • BTW, WN:SG#Purpose was revised with community consensus quite recently, to somewhat better reflect what has actually been done for a very long time — which highlights something else to keep in mind about all the written "rules": they sometimes lag behind, even far behind, best practice. Wikinewsies spend almost all their project efforts on the news itself, with little time left over to fiddle with infrastructure pages (we're reluctant to change them quickly anyway, a necessary precaution on a small project where consensus must have a time component). We even found and fixed early last year (iirc) a passage in the archive policy from about 2005 that said we have no independent review, that had been lurking there since about 2005 and nobody had noticed for the several years we've had flaggedrevs.
  • There are lots of things we try to do. Detailed guidelines rules [note, this is really hard to say well] describe ideals to strive for; the "most important" ones are simply the ones where falling short would be most dire — copyright, verification, and neutrality (speaking of dire, "don't commit libel" falls under neutrality). I created WN:Tips on reviewing articles partly to help keep track of such stuff (and it's a good place to go to try to find stuff that's otherwise scattered all hither and yon across the the site, if it's even written elsewhere; see the Checklist, and the wc thread that led to that page's creation).
Some more specific points.
  • The lede is a summary of the news event. Its purpose, as I've written endlessly in review comments, is to answer as many as reasonably possible of the basic questions about the news event. I agree we should try to do better on this; the vast majority of nonconformant ledes are due to authors that don't know.
  • Attribution we should strive to do better on, too. I've been thinking for a while the stuff about attribution should be clarified that it doesn't mean you should say which source you got each thing in a synthesis article from.
  • Doesn't it already say that quotes must be attributed? I have a strong feeling it does, somewhere. (Problem of finding things, again, for which the Tips checklist tries to be helpful.)
--Pi zero (talk) 13:02, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Focusing on attributions for the time being, the quotes section of the style guide actually doesn't say anything about attribution. I think it is fairly obvious that attribution is needed, but it should probably be explicitly stated there. :::When I first read Wikinews:Style guide#Attribution, I was given the impression that you must attribute sources by stating "According to New York Times, the elves have overthrown Santa". That doesn't seem to be written in a newslike style at all. How are things supposed to be attributed? In the first article I worked on, Magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia felt up and down U.S. east coast, Pentagon evacuated, attribution was given in the form of hidden comments. Is this something that should continue? Either way, I think the section in the style guide should be rewritten. Ryan Vesey Review me! 14:10, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Your first impression is exactly what bothers me about that passage. It comes across as if a synthesis article should have the form "X1, according to Y1. X2, according to Y2." I've had to write explanations repeatedly in reviewer comments that that's not what's wanted. Sometimes it particularly matters which news source was involved, but mostly it's where they got it from that's called for in attribution.
We're very allergic to instruction bloat here, and part of that is often that things are only said in one place.
I'll take a really close re-look at these parts of the SG, hopefully later today. --Pi zero (talk) 15:06, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
  • To knock down the attribution point:
It would be silly to say "According to the New York Times, a USGov statement says "nya! nya!"". The point is, where a NYT reporter was on-the-ground, and the only one who got the quote, it should be attributed.
I'm looking at the above, and despairing; could any more words be used to bring up, and discuss, so few issues? --Brian McNeil / talk 20:16, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Well, it's not actually silly; it's professional. Where a quote is an exclusive (for example, in an exclusive interview with the NYT,) it is proper to ascribe the source ("...XX told NYT", "as reported by the NYT...") Where a quote is public (for example in a new conference or press release), it is only ascribed to the person/organization ("Secretary XX said...", "... according to the IRS.") Every factual statement must be sourced, but every statement need not be ascribed. Generally, only quotes need to be ascribed.
The details of the style guide are always difficult to grasp to persons new to Wikinews. The purpose of the style guide is to standardize how we do things, so our regular readers can quickly grasp the important particulars of our reporting. Not all stories will always follow the style guide completely and exactly, but when copyediting we should all try to bring all stories into compliance - that is part of what copyediting is about. - Amgine | t 03:28, 4 September 2011 (UTC)