Wikinews:Water cooler/proposals

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CC-BY 4.0 as default license in upload forms[edit]

I suggest that CC-BY 4.0 should be the default suggested licensing when using the upload forms in Wikimedia projects for own works, instead of the current CC BY-SA 4.0 license (example here at Wikinews), sometimes with dual GFDL licensing (example at Wikipedia). The main difference would be that derivatives are not required to have the same license. Reasons for changing to CC-BY 4.0 are:

  • It is a more permissive license.
Derivative of medical imaging.jpg
  • It makes it much easier to combine and mix works. The combination of the two images at right, for example, would not have been possible at all if the images were licensed under let's say CC BY-SA 4.0 for the first one and CC BY-NC 2.0 for the other. However, if either was CC-BY 4.0 it would have been permitted. See WP:Adaptation for further information in this regard.
  • CC-BY is by far the most popular licensing for open access journals (see Directory of Open Access Journals - Journal license tab), and is similarly popular in databases (see CC: Data and CC licenses). CC BY-SA is therefore not compatible for inclusion in most open access journals, denying them free access to the sum of Wikimedia knowledge.
  • Most uploaders may very well be as willing to upload under CC-BY, but may not be familiar with the differences between having SA or not. The current upload form layouts thus make lots of works receiving a more restrictive licensing than necessary. Just because uploaders can upload under the most restrictive license Wikimedia has to offer doesn't mean they need to be presented with that option by default. Those who still want to put the additional SA restriction would still be able to actively choose so.
  • The currently suggested dual licensing with CC BY-SA 4.0 with GFDL such as in Wikipedia (link to form) is actually incompatible in a strict sense (see Wikipedia section on this matter, and is also a lot of extra read for those who want to know what GFDL means, since it doesn't provide the short presentation as given in Creative Commons licenses (compare GFDL license page to the CC BY-SA 4.0 page. It would therefore be both easier for uploaders and more legally correct if we simply dropped GFDL from the default license suggestion. Again, those who do want to choose dual licensing for some reason would still be able to actively choose so.

I want to know if you agree with this suggestion, and we can then bring it to Wikimedia's legal team for review before implementation. I know the change is technically not that hard, since we only need to change the upload form layouts, not the licenses of any already uploaded works, nor the overall licensing of any wiki. I've started a vote on this issue in Wikimedia Commons. Please go to that page to join:

Mikael Häggström (talk) 21:03, 10 September 2018 (UTC)

Hello! Currently I do not see a reason to switch. We require derivatives to have the same license now, as otherwise I believe the content may be distributed in a proprietary fashion; is there a reason to want that? See also Copyleft. --Gryllida (chat) 21:42, 10 September 2018 (UTC)
Copyleft is a curse, to be honest. And I am very much in favour of having BSD or more free licence wherever possible. The fear of "Oh, I think someone will use it in proprietary fashion" is very immature -- let it me media or the code. So much for open source and free media so that you are not willing to allow more creativity for rebuilding? I am not sure what Wikinews can do about it. And as far as I know, it is second to Wikidata for having the most permissible licence. Fuck GNU and their licences.
•–• 21:30, 11 September 2018 (UTC)

To Firefox users — those who review and edit[edit]


At this page there is several Firefox add-ons, each with description and screenshots, which give you

  • a shortcut to dupdet an external link against current article (context menu)
  • source template fill helper (sidebar)
  • a feed reader which seems sensible (new tab)
  • web page annotator which stores the notes in localStorage so that you don't lose them from a web browser crash (sidebar)
  • ...I am looking for a web page highlighter which does not lose data between tab closes and browser restarts. If you find it please link and I would add it to this collection also (and possibly also use it a lot).
  • ... Soon I will also release an add-on which opens a hyperlink in a new tab with reading mode on by default (context menu). I will add a note about this here and will also add it to the collection.

The goal is to make it a lot easier to author, copyedit, and review. Please test them and share ideas for improvement.

If you need any of them for another web browser, please let me know. --Gryllida (chat) 05:38, 11 September 2018 (UTC)

Wow, thanks for these! —Justin (koavf)TCM 18:53, 11 September 2018 (UTC)
Hello Justin (koavf). Did you have a chance to test any of these add-ons? What are your thoughts? What feels like the most daunting part of news writing for you?
(I'm currently trying to work out how to reorganize the source fill helper so that it sorts by date automatically; work in progress, expect to make a release next month, so that merely ticking the boxes is sufficient for adding the sources to the article.) --Gryllida (chat) 06:34, 19 September 2018 (UTC)
Sorry, I haven't been able to use these--just install them. The most daunting part of writing news is the bottleneck of time. :/ —Justin (koavf)TCM 02:38, 21 September 2018 (UTC)
Justin (koavf) thank you for this observation, it is really helpful. Do you have time to read news in the current arrangement? How do you usually do this? Perhaps I can make a quick shortcut from your news reading app (Firefox? an RSS reader? a mobile? something else?) to an article creation request at Wikinews. --Gryllida (chat) 01:35, 24 September 2018 (UTC)

Upcoming math announcement[edit]

Scuttlebutt says somebody may make an announcement next Tuesday (that would be September 25) regarding the Reimann hypothesis (which is considered to be part of a Hilbert problem, from 1900, as well as a Clay Institute Millennium Prize Problem. (Link: [1].) I could even imagine trying, if a viable story emerges on Tuesday and there are no other demands on my time, to write it up myself; but of course I'm not greatly in practice on the writing side and there's more likely to be difficulty finding a reviewer if I'm the reporter. --Pi zero (talk) 23:48, 20 September 2018 (UTC)

Moving to summaries[edit]

The rate of published article creation on Wikinews is horrendous. It has not been a useful news source for a long time (possibly ever), and I think that its current form is not serving anyone at all. I think that the site has utterly failed in its value of being a free news source. So, I propose the following:

  • archive WN at some other URL ( and ensure redirects work or whatnot
  • change the site to automatically ingest the contents of Wikipedia:Portal:Current_events and reformat it for our use.
  • encourage editors to expand these summaries with additional context (more text, links to older events, themes, etc)
  • curate these news items by topic, i.e. take each story and put it in a separate category to allow people to follow their preferred category feeds

This would mean the end of WN as it exists now -- a dead community that most every newcomer misunderstands. But this might regain a useful place in the world, as an entry point into the news that's already captured by the rest of the wikimedia ecosystem. Thoughts? -- IlyaHaykinson (talk) 06:24, 21 September 2018 (UTC)

A bold move. Why would we archive the current contents? —Justin (koavf)TCM 06:38, 21 September 2018 (UTC)
Fresh purpose, clean slate. -- IlyaHaykinson (talk) 07:48, 21 September 2018 (UTC)
This suggestion is based on the false premise that going through a slow time means "failure". A Wikinews project isn't here to provide the sole source for anyone's news; no-one should get all their news from a single site, the single-source news audience is a pre-internet notion. We continue to serve our function by being available when someone wants to submit something for review, and it's possible to learn tremendously about writing and journalism and fact-checking and news neutrality and what-not by submitting here. What we need is to greatly soup-up semi-automated assistance for all stages of the process, for which there are plans on how to go about it; a major obstacle for me has been finding time to develop the semi-automation technology required while also keeping up with review demands, and frankly a slow moment like this is an advantage to me in that regard; I've finally gotten moving again on the semi-automation in the past week or so after a long period during which the only progress I made on the tooling was a fix for the wiki platform's poor support for non-ascii text. --Pi zero (talk) 11:59, 21 September 2018 (UTC)
Yes, my suggestion is based on a premise that publishing 10 articles a month is failure. We're not here to be the sole news source, but we're not even a real news source at all -- just a repository for fairly random information. I think that the value of Wikinews as it exists right now is much lower than what it could be if this site was repurposed to be a better current events portal from Wikipedia -- which is a reasonable news source, actually. I think there's value built up over the years of applying NPOV to news, and developing original content policies that don't exist elsewhere -- these are all great. But right now they're not really serving anyone's needs except the few editors who feel vanity from having an article published here. Instead, I propose that this site be re-created with an eye towards what the user (reader) actually wants, which (imho) is news. -- IlyaHaykinson (talk) 16:05, 21 September 2018 (UTC)
Several of those points are, well, horsecrap. Obviously we want higher output; duh! But some points to keep in mind.
  • Wikipedia is not remotely capable of journalism, and is appallingly oblivious to its unsuitability for the purpose. Wikipedia's current events portal does harm rather than good, by misleading people into thinking that Wikipedia articles can be news. In its entire history, Wikipedia has produced zero news articles; it is structurally incapable of producing a news article, and always will be because the very concept of an encyclopedia is incompatible with news production. I don't hold out any hope that Wikipedia's handling of current events can be rescued —at least, not until we turn Wikinews into a thriving success that points the way for them— but, even if it were rescued, whatever it's good for should certainly be hosted on Wikipedia; it'd be a total waste, and pointlessly clumsy, to try to host it here.
  • It's not a matter of "applying NPOV to news". Wikipedia's neutrality policy has partly failed on Wikipedia, but totally fails to apply to news. News neutrality is based on a different principle that I, at least, have not so far been able to figure how to apply to an encyclopedia.
--Pi zero (talk) 16:47, 21 September 2018 (UTC)
Oh, btw, the crack about "vanity" is imho quite off-base. --Pi zero (talk) 16:47, 21 September 2018 (UTC)
I think there's a difference between news and journalism — WP does far better than WN at news, since the current events portal is almost usable (even if poorly organized and not rich enough and also too rich in some areas). WN has built a reasonable approach to journalism but one that doesn't scale. I think that it's better to be useful at news than to publish 10 random articles in a month.
As for your other points — I am aware that WP NPOV and WN approaches are not compatible. That's why I think what WN has is valuable — experience with applying balance in covering news. My point about vanity was a bit low, but it's not the least of motivations for people contributing, and given no real other use for this site as-is it's probably surprisingly high on the list.
I see no reason to continue to hope that this site, in its current form, is anything other than a project whose goals will never be reached. Rather than attempting to stick to the conservative notion that what exists is good if only it had some more resources, I think it's better to admit defeat and reinvent and design something new and try again. -- IlyaHaykinson (talk) 17:12, 21 September 2018 (UTC)
  • The trouble isn't that it doesn't scale, but that it hasn't scaled, yet. We know (well, I know) what the problem is; it's a weakness of the wiki software, and there's no hope of getting any insightful improvements to the platform out of the Foundation so we have to do it ourselves, which I'm, what, five or more years into doing.
  • The whole community of human civilization on the internet is suffering from contageous undercomprehension of neutrality and fact-basedness, which are central to what we do here and are, alas, not central to Wikipedia. Wikipedia has, of course, had some good effects as well as some bad effects on the global community; it's had, I'm sorry to say, some very toxic effects for which a successful Wikinews would be our best chance at a cure.
  • I don't know what distinction exactly you have in mind between news and journalism, but I doubt the two are as separable as you're supposing, and that inseparability implies that Wikipedia is unsuitable for both.
  • You see no reason to hope because you're not on the inside seeing the processes involved and the potential means we're working on for addressing them.
  • We've already figured out what the problem is. You're apparently supposing that if we started with a clean slate we could find a problem to address, and address it; but Wikinews is addressing the right problems already, and doing it spectacularly well — that is, spectacularly well on a relative scale if one appreciates the magnitude of the challenges involved. A whole bunch of problems of mainstream news/journalism need to be dealt with in a non-commercial setting, which we're uniquely suited to do, and part of that is that we can take the time to develop the infrastructure to make it work whereas software development in a commercial setting today is incapable of producing really high-quality solutions because rushing to market is the only way to not go out of business. I'm acutely aware that the software development I'm doing here could never be done in a commercial setting because it takes too long.
(Btw, I've managed to reply promptly a few times today, but I fear I'll likely have to be offline for a while later today because I ate something this morning that doesn't agree with me.) --Pi zero (talk) 17:42, 21 September 2018 (UTC)
IlyaHaykinson: we review short news as Briefs, Shorts, and accept short article creation requests. In each case the contributor is encouraged to note the 5Ws and an H, which the Wikipedia Current Events portal fails to do.
A few weeks ago the requested article link has been added to the site notice. If you have ideas how to further encourage contributors to engage themselves in writing such short submissions and gradually engage in the writing of longer pieces after they became better at identifying legitimate news, these suggestions are very welcome. --Gryllida (chat) 20:33, 21 September 2018 (UTC)
Gryllida, thanks! I definitely realize that we're trying hard to entice people to participate. The trouble is that people are not, and even during the years when I was active (2004..2007) there was trouble generating sufficient interest and participation to keep the site always useful. We were producing on the order of 10 articles a day, I think, and felt that it was not sufficient and that growth was just around the corner if we only tried harder. That didn't happen though.
Pi zero, I appreciate the background. I apologize in advance for the criticism -- I know that you've worked really hard for years, and your contribution to keeping WN alive and developing cannot be overstated. But, as you say, I'm not seeing the results of this work. It pains me to see that WN has slowly slid into irrelevance after not even being as relevant at the beginning as we all hoped it should be, and I hope you forgive me for feeling unenthusiastic about the prospect of waiting just a bit longer, since that's essentially the argument we WN people have made since the days I was a bureaucrat on this wiki. I know that the problems exist and that MediaWiki capabilities are to blame (the DPL extension that we built was done for that same reason), and that one way to fix those is to invest the limited time awesome volunteers like you have into building something new.
I'm proposing a discussion about an alternate way. Instead of saying that "Wikinews" must take the model that has existed for years but is hard to scale given the tools that we have at our disposal, what if we instead say "what is the most useful news-related wiki that can exist given the tools that we already have?". I recommended starting with content that WP creates because it's already done at scale, and it's done daily, and it's high quality. It's also insufficient to have just that content on a news site, for the reasons that you outline and also because it's simply made to be an awkward encyclopedic page rather than a news feed. But it's there, and it's a far better approximation (for me) of what WN should be at the very least than what I have seen from WN for the last year.
So my question (or challenge) here is: would the community be willing to entertain a wholesale change of the model? Could such a model be based on ingesting / synchronizing with some of the WP-derived news feeds and building an ecosystem of content around that, rather than continuing our current focus on long-form? I'm not at all suggesting that we throw away the mechanisms for collaboration that we've built -- only that we consider applying them to something new. -- IlyaHaykinson (talk) 08:00, 22 September 2018 (UTC)
  • You're simply wrong about irrelevance. The fact that you could see the trend going on years before we adopted the modern review regime —which does not at all surprise me— is a reflection of a couple of things I've been aware of for years: that modern review is not the cause of the problem, and that fixing the problem, if one supposes it's a matter of the adjusting the values of some of the constants in the dynamic equation of the project, would require a surprisingly small adjustment to those constants because it's actually been a long slow decline in project activity (if the constants were way off, I'd expect the project to have tanked rapidly). I have, btw, observed that when, from time to time, we have increased review capacity for a while, and a few articles to "prime the pump" and draw attention to the project, people from outside start trying to write articles, and in fact things can get moving — until, sooner or later, we're unable to sustain the increased output. I draw two conclusions from that observed pattern:  (1) if we could do things that significantly and permanently increased our review capacity per reviewer (or to put it differently, per unit of review labor), we could sustain a significantly increased level of output, and  (2) there's plenty of demand out there for what we're offering, if we can take the edge off the difficulty of contributing and if we can substantially increase our review capacity. In fact, I've observed that the potential demand for what we're offering is sufficiently vast that however much review capacity we can provide, after a while for word to get around, the demand will exceed our capacity. Plans for the future must take into account that once things get rolling here (as they do from time to time) the project is in a permanent state of demand-exceeding-supply of review labor; that is the sustained operation conditions we want the project to be able to smoothly function in.
  • What you're not seeing is what's going on behind the scenes (or an alternative metaphor would be "beneath the surface"). Re my own efforts, note that you're putting the cart before the horse: my efforts to keep the project afloat are an appendix to my efforts to develop the means for a resurgence of the project; forging tools, as it were, by which to tinker with those constants in the dynamic equation. There was a moment, some years back, when I had to make a conscious decision either to step into the review gap, or to stand aside and let the project die. At that moment, I clearly saw about six major hazards in the attempt (things like the danger of my personal preferences leaking into project style); and one of the hazards was not having an exit strategy. The personal sacrifice I'd have to make could only be justified if it was an intermediate step on the way to a future in which I was personally not needed by the project. The goal is that future, not the day-to-day survival of Wikinews. I see us continuing toward that happy goal... behind the scenes. The day-to-day operation of the project, which must be maintained, consists centrally of availability for review, rather than actual review; and note that the availability for review is not directly visible during the slow times such as now (as you talk about not seeing things).
--Pi zero (talk) 12:56, 22 September 2018 (UTC)
  • I am grateful to you for coming back to propose a change, IlyaHaykinson. Do you speak any language apart from English? Perhaps a non-English version of Wikinews is more receptive to trying a different model, and English Wikinews could draw from that.
  • The 'request an article' approach, which may simplify the learning curve, got more exposure just last month via a link in the banner. I am still hopeful it would work ... with people just needing to share an URL and look away. Simpler than the model at English Wikipedia, huh?
  • We had one contributor who submitted an entry a few times and were excited to see it implemented in a published article but then they started submitting the entries at the rate of one per day, which was too quick, and one of their entries was rejected entirely as analysis. So far we haven't heard back from them...
  • People seem to expect everything and their dog to be publishable and when this does not occur, they walk away. I am not sure whether publishing everything under the Sun -- including submissions without the 5Ws, or biased aubmissions -- would actually help. What do you think?
  • I'm trying to aid the process via Firefox-addons, and dialog tools is available for those who don't know of their existence. However, to me it seems that the barrier is in the wired in the brain somewhere. Another approach is to make quizes such as this or that, perhaps also weekly quizes could be created with practical (not theoretical) questions based on the reasons for recent not-ready review motions and edit history of reviewers for either published or rejected articles, so that people can draw little bits and pieces of critical thinking from that.
  • Do we need a process which encourages and keeps peoples' interest after their submissions are rejected somewhere early on the way? How could this be done?? --Gryllida (chat) 05:32, 23 September 2018 (UTC)
Lowering publication standards was tried by the fork of the project, some years back, and failed utterly; in essence, without our high standards there's no reason to submit. --Pi zero (talk) 09:04, 23 September 2018 (UTC)