Wikinews:Water cooler/policy/archives/2017/June

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"Birds of a feather" session at Wikimania 2017?

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 Is it fair to say that the vast majority of unpublished articles represent frustrated humans, who are less likely to contribute to Wikinews in the future?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

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

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

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

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

  • One, "The interests of a user could by default be determined in part from geographic coordinates obtained from a cell phone, an IP address, or by direct entry. Users could tailor this further. Browsing history might also be used." is too much tracking. Neutral news means it should present the same content to everybody. Customization should be provided to the user in the form of dialogs where they can choose which locations or topics to show.
@Gryllida: Thanks for your thoughts. Cambridge Analytica, if I understand correctly, uses tracking to determine which messages people will find credible and then post that kind of content to their Facebook page. That's an exploitation that gets people doing things contrary to their best interests.
The tracking I propose would offer notes on different schools to people who have interests in those schools, for example, but would not offer those same articles to people who seem NOT to have such interests.
This tracking may also offer more balance material and exposure to contrary perspectives to people who've been visiting known extremist (racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.) web sites.
Racists who don't want that won't come back. If they complain about it to more sensible folk, those more sensible may help educate them on the need to understand the said contrary perspectives, even if they don't agree. If we offer that, it can become a reason for people to come to us. DavidMCEddy (talk) 21:41, 9 June 2017 (UTC)
  • Don't fund article writers. Fund (or not) reviewers (and developers of reviewing tools). A few reasons why:
    • Paid journalism and crowdfunding could create a content topic bias. Coverage of certain topics would improve, and it would be governed by funding entities. Not necessarily in a good way.
    • Paid journalism and crowdfunding could increase the volume of submissions, which our reviewers are at present unable to handle due to lack of human power and due to inadequacy of the tools currently offered by the website. The reviewing labour requires a lot of manual work.
    • It would make the website more similar to other news sources -- even if neutral enough. We need to focus on the mechanism of engaging a reader into news writing, to make this site more peer-to-peer directed than governed by a group of paid journalists.
    • Funding reviewers would introduce a content bias as their boss tell them. This would be a disaster.
    • Funding development of reviewing tools would probably be a good idea, if the design and deployment of these tools are performed in a manner and at a pace comfortable for the (currently small) group.
@Gryllida: What if the funding comes via the Wikimedia Foundation? Isn't this consistent with the idea of citizen-directed subsidies of the media discussed by McChesney, Cagé, and others and summarized in v:User:DavidMCEddy/Winning the War on Terror?
If the Wikimedia Foundation can't recruit enough volunteer editors / admins but can afford to pay, I would not be opposed to that.
How are we going to tell whether a certain "volunteer" editor / admin is paid or not?
If Wikinews / "Everyone's Favorite News" grows to fill the need, we will need tools to monitor automatically the work of our editors / admins: If some are consistently biased, we hope they will be caught and appropriately dealt with. And should I care if they are paid or not? I think I should care about consistent inappropriate editorial decisions. ???DavidMCEddy (talk) 21:41, 9 June 2017 (UTC)
DavidMCEddy, WMF has a policy to not hire people for editing content of the wikis.
DavidMCEddy, WMF also has a policy that paid editing is against the rules at any Wikimedia wiki, unless the wiki decides otherwise.
DavidMCEddy, paid editors are typically relatively easy to spot: they push their agenda, don't agree with the wiki rules, and so on. (There is a greater magnitude of paid editors who make small edits to existing articles. Those are harder to spot. This is a large problem at a Wikipedia. But at Wikinews this is not a problem, for that its published articles enter a read-only archive very quickly.) --Gryllida (talk) 04:22, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
DavidMCEddy, Bias could be caught by gathering article feedback and correlating it with the article authors. This could be automated, but at present, the pace is so little that this information is easily reachable and comfortably sits within the head of each reviewer. --Gryllida (talk) 04:22, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
  • I would personally expect that many news articles fail the review process entirely due to two main reasons: they get stale (if there is too many articles or the topic is too specific for the reviewer to handle), or the article writer does not put effort into working on the reviewer comments. Adequate reviewing and review feedback tools would resolve both of these issues.
  • Finding the exact statistics is hard because the articles eventually get deleted. If you have ideas on how to resolve that, please tell. (I would perhaps be willing to volunteer to write a code to log the review actions on one page in plain text, just how they are on the article talk page, except that one page would not get deleted).
@Gryllida: Can you get a group of editors to brainstorm categories and codes for delays? Then data can be harvested on codes for delays vs. time to the last edit on articles when published or deleted. Combine that with data on the reviewer, language, history of the volunteer contributor (number of submissions, edits, and acceptances), and whatever else we can conveniently harvest. That could be analyzed in many different ways. DavidMCEddy (talk) 21:41, 9 June 2017 (UTC)
DavidMCEddy, I did not quite fully get the idea. What delays? In what format would you like the data to be stored? --Gryllida (talk) 04:22, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
@Gryllida: Delays between reviewer comments and author response. Regarding format, each reviewer comment could get a category code. That could later be harvested to get the time until an author reply, if any. DavidMCEddy (talk) 13:27, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
  • Increasing collaboration between different languages is a good idea. However, some of these languages' input would be counter productive. For instance, Russian Wikinews copy/pastes from external sources verbatim. The licence allows this and it is OK, but their content is biased as they prioritize popularity over quality. The verbatim copying also decreases writing enthusiasm.
Popularity is a tricky thing: If you don't have an audience, you're writing for yourself. But we don't want to be a tabloid. DavidMCEddy (talk) 21:41, 9 June 2017 (UTC)
There is nothing wrong with very gradual growth, so long as the group involved in it is content with the output. --Gryllida (talk) 04:22, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
@Gryllida: I hope you will entertain qualifications on the value of gradual growth: In a war and business, the weaker party can win if they grow faster than the leader. Someplace I read that a secondary contributor to the defeat of Nazi Germany was the comparison of the German vs. the British and American quality standards: The Messerschmitt's were allegedly better aircraft than the British Spitfires. However, the Brits built Spits more than twice as fast as the Germans made Messerschmitts. This meant that the Germans had to destroy more than twice as many fighters as they lost -- and they couldn't keep that production schedule.
In business, David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard company, developed "Packard's equation", which describes how fast you can grow with self-financed growth. A late starter can come from behind with an inferior product and come to dominate a market based on better marketing and finance -- and you lose in a market you invented. That's part of why bright entrepreneurs sell their ideas to big money for a fraction of what it should be worth, because they believe that the venture capital can help them grow to dominate a market that they would likely lose otherwise. I lived for 33 years in the Silicon Valley, CA. This was part of the local news, local culture, and what people gossiped about around the water cooler.
Thanks for your reply. I think we live in a very dangerous age. Different news sources suggest that armageddon could come from the Right or the Left, from Islamic or Christian extremists, depending on the source. If Wikinews + Wikiblogs + Wikisocial + Wikianalytica grow fast enough in the right way, they might go a long way toward reducing those risks. DavidMCEddy (talk) 21:28, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
DavidMCEddy: Next to paying people to write, the next more effective method is word of mouth, I would think? At some point we published original reporting from all wikis in a weekly newsletter. And we have Wikinews in audio and print formats. If you think such and similar measures are helpful, or have ideas how to put them to more use, I would be glad to assist. I've made a separate page for brainstorming these ideas, User:Gryllida/wc001. Anybody is welcome to edit. --Gryllida (talk) 05:40, 16 June 2017 (UTC)
  • You need to tell the public that writing tools is complicated by the need for any 'Extensions' to pass a code review by WMF Engineering. This is a slow process. JavaScript and Lua programming is available to site sysops without WMF review requirements, at present; they have less flexibility, but the deployment is easier and this is a great thing. However, having a guide how to create a copy of Wikinews for development would make engaging new contributors into the development process a lot easier. I am struggling with finding that out, myself, for over a year.

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

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

Drafting a report before an event

Does Wikinews have a policy about drafting an article before and event, then revising it during or after the event and finally changing the {{develop}} tag to {{review}}?

Last Tuesday, 2107-06-06, KKFI radio broadcasted an interview with Bryce Lockwood, who was a gunnery sergeant in the US Marine Corps on board the USS Liberty 1967-06-08 when it was attacked by unmarked aircraft, and former US Representative Pete McCloskey, who interviewed people who seemed to be knowledgable about the incident. Click here for the podcast and a transcript.

Lockwood is scheduled to speak June 22 to the VFW of Lenexa, KS.

I thought I read something encouraging people to draft such article(s), then revise them as needed and change the {{develop}} tag to {{review}} when done. However, I can't find that now.

Thanks, DavidMCEddy (talk) 12:12, 11 June 2017 (UTC)

Of possible interest: Wikinews:Prepared stories. --Pi zero (talk) 14:04, 11 June 2017 (UTC)
Thanks. That's exactly what I was looking for. DavidMCEddy (talk) 19:27, 11 June 2017 (UTC)