Wikinews:Water cooler/proposals/archives/2010/December

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GLAM Wiki UK 2010

Hi everyone. Could anybody write article about this event. We have some pictures in Commons: commons:Category:GLAM Wiki UK 2010. Some info is here. BTW - do you want translation of the Sabat - meeting of sister projects editors pl:W Poznaniu odbyło się robocze spotkanie projektów Wikimedia? Przykuta (talk) 21:28, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

  • Whilst Wikinews is in a bit of a trough, this would likely not have been covered anyway. That because, as WMF-related, it is effectively navel-gazingl; a practice that is generally frowned-up. --Brian McNeil / talk 12:57, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

There is something wrong here.

What's up with all of you? Wikinews has been stagnant for long. I don't really know what are the reasons, but I'm seeing the same leads in the main page. Don't you like to write now? Or are the reviewers taking too much time to review every article? That may be the reason why Wikinews is not working well, I say. We have to correct this now:


  1. We do a massive de-reviewership: those who are not reviewing articles certainly don't need the right, and thus are just making numbers higher;
  2. Those who care about this, will begin to do reviews constantly, for the good of the project.

If you love Wikinews as I do, I'm sure you will choose one option or the other. I haven't got the time to come here and review or write articles, I have too much homework at school, and I really need to get concentrated on real life things, rather than to stay the entire day in front of a computer. Thank you all.

Diego Grez return fire 19:45, 17 November 2010 (UTC)

  • Review waits are dismal. Many of our articles are coming from people as-yet too inexperienced to receive reviewer, or who do not have English as a native language. A supply of people regularly writing has dried up. As previously alluded to, sometimes I feel like I'm running this place by myself. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 19:57, 17 November 2010 (UTC)
  • BRS, Diego, I feel your pain. I wish I could devote 3-4 hrs to the project on most days. At that, solely devoting it to reviewing, could perhaps process four, or five, well written articles. See BRS' last-reviewed-by-me; note timescales in the history. It's probably 3+ weeks since I used a non-3G device to edit onsite. I'm looking for a mega-cheap netbook, that I can tether to, as a solution. -Brian McNeil / talk 22:27, 17 November 2010 (UTC)
  • It would be a tremendous help. Right now, there's two articles sitting at ~24 hours wait - I wrote one and trimmed 300 bytes from the other, so there's nothing I can do. Who knows when they'll get reviewed? I have invested many hours in a huge prepared story. The jury is out tonight; a verdict is highly likely tomorrow. Will anybody actually review it? Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 22:50, 17 November 2010 (UTC)
  • If need be, I'll try to for your article. I trust you not to commit copyvio, and it is a simple double-check with best-effort c/e - plus 2nd pair of eyes factcheck.
I'll take a look at the queue of others just now; life is what happens when you're busy making plans. --Brian McNeil / talk 00:09, 18 November 2010 (UTC)
  • Certainly Brian, that's not my goal. That is exactly what I don't want you to do, "to run this place by yourselves." Wikinews needs more publicity, or something, urgently. Diego Grez return fire 00:56, 18 November 2010 (UTC)
  • I agree. I didn't mind the odd slow day, even one isolated slow week where it was down to a bare handful was fine. A slow month? I can't keep this place afloat on my own, neither can two or three of us - no matter how we try. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 00:59, 18 November 2010 (UTC)
  • We have a long-term problem here. A (sort of) boom and bust cycle, playing out on a scale of multiple years.
Our community dynamic is unstable, resulting in the boom that peaked early this year, and the bust we're in now, because we (necessarily) don't have AGF. No AGF means that unpleasantness doesn't get to hide behind superficial forms. In good times, our authenticity makes this a bright place (quite refreshing compared to WP), leading to more new contributors and more good times. When things go sour, the reverse happens. Boom and bust.
To get out of the current trough, one thing we need is to nurture a positive atmosphere. Not superficial forms, and not intangible thoughts, but —so to speak— positive meanings. Encouragement, corny as that sounds. Does criticism include how to improve? When an article dies without publication, is the author left with feedback on their talk page? When contributors succeed, does anyone praise or congratulate them? (Is anyone still awarding barnstars?) --Pi zero (talk) 01:54, 18 November 2010 (UTC)
  • Valid points but, I still don't think AGF (or AGI) will resolve this.
I have gone out of my way to try and deal with issues in a less-heavy-handed way recently; however, the project integrity must be maintained - no copyvio, or close rewording; quality writing; and, little to no distraction for those contributing or reviewing.
The project always tails off when a new academic term starts. Would that we could bring back BrianNZ and the other antipodeans to their prior contribution levels but, no.
Taking reviewer off people won't help. But, perhaps a brief 'standardised' review refresher could be sust'd on inactive reviewers' talk pages plus a short email to them? --Brian McNeil / talk 13:43, 20 November 2010 (UTC)
  • Agreed, AGF as such is wrong for Wikinews. It causes problems on WP that would be complete non-starters here (and whether even WP, with its very different operational requirements, can tolerate those problems in the long run remains to be seen).
AGI in its present form isn't a final answer for us either, although with some care, and as a temporary stopgap, it can be better than nothing... provided it doesn't bias our thinking as we look for something better. I don't see AGI ever becoming a guideline.
Reducing the number of reviewers won't increase the number of reviews. (The suggestion has us thinking outside the box, though!) --Pi zero (talk) 15:17, 20 November 2010 (UTC)

Arbitrary section break

Something really does need to be done about the review times. Some articles are left to be reviewed hours after they have had a request placed. In the end, the article ends up being published up to days after the event has occurred. I do understand also that the time that an article takes to be published is heavily reliant on the author and the quality of the article (I, for one, can say that my articles have been heavily scrutinised for quality and have taken days to publish. I can understand that, I'm new here - I also hope everyone else understands that) but it would be great to see some faster reviews occurring. Really, reviewer status should only be granted to the most active members of WN who contribute consistent quantities (and high quality) articles. I also think the reminder system (below) may assist is sifting through who are the active reviewers and who aren't. (I would just like to say also that I am on a bit of a learning curve here and I know that my articles may not be 100% polished at the moment, but I have the best interests of Wikinews in mind and I am trying my hardest.) Thanks ~YTT (talk) 05:44, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

  • There is no incentive to review a poorly written article. The standards expected on Wikinews are surprisingly high, and it is a really substantial amount of work to fix poor grammar, revise to active voice, then sift through a substantial number of sources to verify that an article if factually accurate and free from plagiarism. --Brian McNeil / talk 12:56, 10 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Your point brings up the fact that not only do we need to build up a base of consistent and experienced authors amongst the community (learning the ins and outs of WN does take a while - I, for one, am on a bit of a learning curve still), but it also highlights the fact that there are only a select group of very active reviewers at the moment. There is too much of a workload and too many reviewers not participating actively. Brian, I also understand that you have a large workload and working through lower-quality articles may be tedious. You were the reviewer of my Wikileaks articles which received fails. I can see my errors now and after learning with my previous experiences, I will be able to produce high-quality articles on a regular basis. I do have (as I said before) the best intent when I am writing my articles - my errors just all come down to a lack of experience. (Just a side note to all of this - can my article on the Wikileaks PayPal donation saga be deleted? Reasoning and other info on talk page). Thanks, ~YTT (talk) 05:44, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Anything that improves the quality of contributions should reduce review times.
The key teaching aspect of the peer-review skill is not yet, and should be, addressed in my still-fledgling essay WN:Tips on reviewing articles (of which the checklist has been, IMHO, vastly the most useful part thus far).
We should, and do, also keep looking for ways to more effectively convey some of the basics of article-writing to newcomers up front. The general trend, over the two years I've been here, has been toward shorter and shorter blurbs; over the past few days I've been contemplating drafting a precis of synthesis writing that would fit on a single "standard" screen (just in time for the standard-sized screen to go the way of the CRT). --Pi zero (talk) 14:43, 10 December 2010 (UTC)
  • I don't think people, when they join, either can be bothered reading the guides available or they want to get straight into writing articles without paying any careful attention to what they are doing. Somehow, there needs to be a way to get people to read the guides so they can adopt the appropriate conventions of WN to their articles. If there were no foolish mistakes from the start (which could easily be eradicated with some careful checking by the contributor(s), the reviewers would have a much easier job and publish times would be greatly lowered. I don't really know a solution to the problem now, but I know something needs to be done about it in the end. Possibly there could be an example article with annotations of key points on it that people could look at. Thanks ~YTT (talk) 05:44, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
  • (Just as another side-note) - Yesterday, I wrote a new article and submitted it for peer review. It has been sitting, waiting to be reviewed, for nearly 24 hours now. It hasn't even been reviewed once. There are also a few other articles sitting there as well which have been there for a while. This is taking too long - something does need to be done about the review times. Thanks, ~YTT (talk) 04:29, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

Proposed 'reminder'

How about this being subst'd onto inactive reviewer talk pages. If no reaction in a couple of weeks, follow up with an email. --Brian McNeil / talk 14:08, 20 November 2010 (UTC)

Well it may cause a few people to become a bit more active, at the end of the day, people have the right to leave, and no amount of talk page prodding is going to change that. Bawolff 18:02, 20 November 2010 (UTC)
I don't have the free time to contribute to the project that I did a couple years ago. I do like to review articles though, and an occasional once a week (or month, or whatever) "get off your arse" email/talkpagemessage might cause me to review a bit more. Nothing is going to make me get up to my previous levels of activity (which were never as high as some people's, but I was more active than I am now), but if you happen to send out that message when I have nothing else to do, I might end up reviewing an article instead of doing something else.
I can't speak for everyone though. Some people might just find it annoying. Gopher65talk 23:29, 20 November 2010 (UTC)
  • I'll take that as a vote of comfidence gopher. To me, the point we should put across is that most people with reviewer have good grammar, and good copyedit skills. Even just a couple of hours of their time each week could up the article output. I am very reluctant to "punish" - as Diego's complaint comes across as. With such a small community our more seasoned editors, such as yourself, can teach a lot to the proto-journos.
BRS will back me up on how much "wet nurse treatment" would-be journalists faced at one of Edinburgh's universities; longer-term I want people keen to get into the business to view this project as a stepping stone. You can start here whilst still at school, bypass the 'writing for dummies' part of the course, have globally published articles to prove you could, and want, to do the job. I want to be able to say, and have universities back me up, that 30+ published articles, with a couple of those at FA, is worth at least a year trimmed off the degree. Then, longer-term, we can hope the project spits out a couple of journalism award winners. That needs us keeping many of the people like yourself involved. Yes, it is very much 'the long view'; but, the respect our content is accorded will always be intertwined with our contributors and their advancement beyond Wikinews. If one or two of our contrbutors go on to be modern-day Paul Foot, or Duncan Campbells, I'll have succeeded in pushing things where I think they should go. --Brian McNeil / talk 21:07, 21 November 2010 (UTC)

Synthesis Article Development Template

As a new user of Wikinews, I originally had some trouble developing articles and made many mistakes. So, just as a rough outline, I have created this - It is a template for people to create a synthesis article and I think it would help people who are new to Wikinews to create a synthesis article with fewer mistakes. Currently it is in .pdf format but it would be distributed in .doc so it can be edited.

Any feedback and/or changes you think would be appropriate would be much appreciated. Thanks, ~YTT (talk) 08:19, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

Since its a pdf - perhaps upload to Commons, that may gain it wider distributivity. Bawolff 19:03, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

Looking at you inverted pyramid diagram, generally, the lead section is limited to only the "Who, What, Where, When, and How," with the Why saved for a later paragraph. From what I recall, this is because the Why is less important than the others. The style guide says, "Put the most important and newsworthy facts first, with least important and least immediate facts last."

You organized things so it's five paragraphs (at least from what I can tell). Most articles are varied in legnth. Compare this and this. They are six and three paragraphs respectively. I think you should reorganize the pyramid. The lead should have the basic facts that if someone reads just that, they should at least be able to give those basics to anyone who asks them if there heard about that. Then following facts ordered in most important to least.

Since paragraphs vary in length (I like to do single or two sentence paragraphs for news writing), you should keep that in mind if you redo the pyramid.

Hope that helps, and thanks for that PDF. —Mikemoral♪♫ 01:26, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

  • <nit> News articles have a lede. For more traditional news sources, the lede should be able to stand alone; this is because, due to space constraints, an editor may ruthlessly trim or just use the lede in a news 'roundup' column. Now, why is any enWN documentation being produced in a proprietary format? --Brian McNeil / talk 09:08, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Once completed, I will give the master copy of the template to enWN and it will be freely available to all users. Thanks, ~YTT • (talk) 05:30, 17 December 2010 (UTC)

Updated Version (#1)

LOOK BELOW for updated version (#2)

As before, any suggestions would be appreciated. If there is anything you want to change, make sure you tell me so I can apply it to the master. (Is there a way this can be implemented as official Wikinews documentation? It will need refining first, though. It would be good if new users could be signposted to this before they write their first article.) Thanks, ~YTT • (talk) 03:33, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

If you agree to release it under CC-BY 2.5, I can't see why it couldn't be added as documentation for Wikinews. As far as it helps the newbies, it is very welcome! Diego Grez return fire 05:24, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
  • I'm more than happy to do that. I'll just make a few amendments now. Thanks, ~YTT • (talk) 06:22, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

Updated Version (#2)

Okay, I hope this is the final version. If anything is wrong, though, tell me and I'll edit the master. Could any administrators also tell me if it could/is ready to be implemented as documentation in its current form? I have a .pdf and a .doc available, would both be appropriate for distribution? Thanks, ~YTT • (talk) 06:41, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

Wikinews reporters' workshops

Given that Wikinews is in a bit of a rut at the moment, and as an idea I've been toying with for quite some time, I've floated the idea of starting, and developing, a Wikinews reporters' workshop series of sessions. Ideally, this would be three or four sessions of three hours each, carried out in a library or other civic facility.

I've been cultivating the staff of Fountainbridge library in Edinburgh, including donating my copies of Private Eye to their available periodicals once I've read them. I'm fairly confident I could get a couple of the staff to back me up in persuading the council to give their PC lab for the required time to do a course. (Plus as some of our regulars will be amused by, the library's side exit is lnto Murdoch Terrace. ;-D)

Below are my seat-of-the-pants notes on what I think is required. Please add as appropriate.


I can, trivially, put up fliers in most of Edinburgh's libraries. The proposed text is at-issue. I favour using my enWN tagline as the headline; "Facts don't cease to be facts, but news ceases to be news."

Then, a short intro to Wikinews, a simple URL to an on-project landing page, and a wikinewsie email address for people to express interest and sign up.

We're talking a class size of about 16 - Fountainbridge has no WiFi facilities. One successful run might get me more facilities, and interest from Napier college.

I wonder about the tagline. As you point out further down, a significant alternative here is blogs. News-ceases-to-be-news is great for explaining our staleness policy, and our archiving policy versus Wikipedia, but versus blogs? Seems major attractions over a current-events blog would be neutrality and rigorous verification; and over traditional news organizations, neutrality (again) and citizen journalism (and permanent free-ness, and transparency (to wax somewhat esoteric)). But we'd need another catchy tagline. --Pi zero (talk) 01:14, 18 December 2010 (UTC)
  • I mentioned blogs as this is something Edinburgh has run courses on, not for any other reason. --Brian McNeil / talk 10:51, 18 December 2010 (UTC)
Noted. However, I mentioned blogs because they are, I suggest, an important part of how "kids today" (cue music) get information — whereas traditional news outlets are a more important part of how their parents or grandparents get information. --Pi zero (talk) 14:32, 18 December 2010 (UTC)

Emailed/Printed pre-course material

To start with, I'd want a 'pack' to email to the interested. From there, we encourage to do the sign-up on-wiki after creating an account and getting a preemptive caution on what is news, what might be good reading material, and so on. This whittles out a lot of people who might be curious, but not follow through; don't want to waste time teaching how to create an account, or the real basics of wiki editing.

Course structure

  1. Break into 'teams' of 3 or 4, pick a story from GNews, read a couple sources, learn to identify recycled wire reports and get independent sources. Rattle out facts from small source list on talk page, write article.
  2. Pick out weaknesses in subbed reports (This is where I need the rest of the community to go above and beyond in reviewing.)
  3. Second workshop, recap most common failings, leave groups to attempt more articles, swap to other 'teams' to copyedit, and feedback in 'class'.

By the last 'workshop' I'd want to be introducing OR, daring the more ambitious to interview local councillors, or hit the street when they hear sirens, get to the scene, photograph stuff, and ask emergency services about the situation.

Established contributor support

During, and shortly after, each class it would be essential that our established reviewers are available, and giving informative feedback. By the end of the course, I'd want to see 20%+ of those completing it nommed for reviewer.

So, I'm listing a few books I'd want on the recommended reading list. Feel free to add.

Reading list

  • Eats shoots and leaves.
  • On Writing, Stephen King
  • Strunk's

What, I think, is important is that any recommended stuff is in the library collection, or available online.

What do people think? Edinburgh's libraries run a few courses on blogging; I'm of the opinion getting published on Wikinews would be more satisfying, complimentary to that, and a start on building a more stable contributor base city-by-city. --Brian McNeil / talk 22:16, 16 December 2010 (UTC)

To begin with, Brian, I have to say this is a damned good idea. However, if you would like it to spread, you've got to take into account that some (i'd say quite a lot, including myself) of the experienced contributors here have regular jobs, and some with long hours. I would love to spread something like this into my local area, but to be honest, between work, home life and other committments, I'd be run ragged. Good luck with it, but I don't think it's something I could do just yet. BarkingFish (talk) 22:58, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
  • Wonderful idea. I agree though that it'll be very hard to pull off with a small community of active users. It is possible that the WMF will be willing to help fund some sort of initiative like this; they are doing similar things on Wikipedia. fetch·comms 22:59, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
  • The best case for this is quite enticing. I do get that the concept really involves the Wikinews community agreeing to pitch in; I'm not too sure how realistic that is, since I suspect most of us don't have much additional discretionary time available for Wikinews above and beyond what we're already donating. What can go wrong? People get into this workshop. Some of their articles go stale (and more go near-stale, losing their timeliness) waiting to be reviewed; others get failed with too little feedback to be helpful, and/or with somewhat insulting feedback; and still others get passed with poorish quality control.
I don't mean to be defeatist; I'm just saying that if this is to be done, it needs intrinsic robustness against negative consequences of these things — one supposes, by weaving recognition of the wiki-nature of reviewers into the fabric of the workshop from the start, and laying contingency plans to make the most of these scenarios should they occur. --Pi zero (talk) 05:30, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
  • I'm quite pleased with the above feedback; it's realistic. What I'm talking about would likely be 4 sessions, say, on a Friday afternoon, running from 1500 to 1800 UTC. We're talking four articles from the first couple of sessions, possibly more in the following two. I can probably devote a couple hours after that to reviewing, and will - from having been in the lab - know that copyvio isn't an issue. I do need some support, but I don't think it is a huge amount. What is important is that people get feedback instead of just failed. --Brian McNeil / talk 08:41, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
  • I totally agree with you Brian on the fact that people need feedback when they receive a failure on an article. With the feedback, people (hopefully) will better understand the mistake they made and won't make it again (thus reducing review times for the future). Overall, I think this is an excellent proposal and may just be the thing Wikinews was looking for. Thanks, ~YTT • (talk) 08:57, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
  • So far, nobody has said 'this will never work'; on that basis, I'm going to start putting material together. I'll be in the library in ablut an hour and will ask their staff about bloc-booking facilities for this. Logically enough, course stuff will end up on Wikiversity. --Brian McNeil / talk 10:58, 18 December 2010 (UTC)
  • If you want, you can use my synthesis article development guide for new contributors (above) and edit it to your needs. Just let me know if you need anything else. Thanks, ~YTT•(talk) 13:17, 18 December 2010 (UTC)