Wikinews:Water cooler/proposals/archives/2011/May

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Standards of civility

I find the burn-out and disenchantment rate among Wikinews users to be alarmingly high. Two very productive editors responsible for most of our output in past months, Yurtletturtle (talk · contribs) and Mattisse (talk · contribs), have effectively left the project, citing internal problems.

It should be clear now, to everyone, that the project is not working in its current form and cannot achieve its ultimate goal of providing reliable, popular, and comprehensive news with the current implementation. The project has been in a slump for the past seven months, and small spikes of activity have failed to get anywhere. A glance at statistics shows that Wikinews has been on a continuous downward track since 2007.

This statement is not intended to provoke controversy or drama. It is a call to action. We must start actively working to make the project more appealing to contributors if we wish to make a name for ourselves in the world of journalism.

I fear we are heading down the same path as Nupedia. Wikipedia was once just a section of Nupedia without the latter's bureaucratic, overly strict approval process. Look where both projects are now. I believe we can achieve, although maybe not Wikipedia's exponential growth, at least a noticeable rise in output and quality by implementing the peer-review changes proposed elsewhere. Large review waits are one of the biggest hurdles for new contributors and a very common reason for burn-out. In addition, the lengthy waits also mean we are perpetually stuck "behind the curve" in timely news reporting compared to other news outlets.

Also, I'd like to offer a small essay I wrote yesterday for the community's consideration.

Please, let's discuss changes actively and get things moving. Let's put aside our differences, find common ground, ignore irrelevant drama, and work towards the common goal. It would pain me to see Wikinews slide into obscurity. Tempodivalse [talk] 19:14, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

  • I absolutely agree with Tempo here, and I'd like to make a few suggestions.
  1. Wikinews should foster a constantly welcoming environment even towards veteran editors. If a user has retired or not edited in a while, efforts should be made to encourage the user to contribute, rather than strip them of their rights. The recent discussion of removal of reviewer status for Jimbo Wales demonstrates how ridiculous things can get.
  2. Wikinews should adopt a Wikipedia-like attitude of "publish it now, fix it later." The review process for articles should surround copyright issues, mostly to ensure that there is no blatant plagiarism. Things like copyediting, formatting, style, templates, categories and npov should be examined and resolved after the article has already been published.
  3. Extraordinary efforts should be made to publish a new user's first article; having your first article trashed with some explanation like "fails WN:CG" can be severely disheartening.
  4. All discussion concerning policy-making or site changes should take place on-wiki not on IRC.
  5. Any and all lengths to keep discussion civil should be taken, especially when dealing with relatively new users. Yes, rigorous debate should be stifled until we can establish some forum where it could be done without immediate fear of "I'm retiring."
  6. Harassment or personal attacks should be accompanied with immediate temporary blocks regardless of the seniority of the user. I realize this may seem harsh, but far too many good users have left because of personal attacks, and I think Wikinews should adopt a no-tolerance policy towards racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, or any other bigotry towards fellow Wikinewsies.
I have some more thoughts on this particular issue, but I suggest we start with some of these reforms and see what happens.

--Ashershow1talk 22:09, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

OK, here I go - some comments on Ashershow1's ideas (not intended to bite, but to be realistic):-
  1. If a user has not edited for a while, or has retired, we do not and cannot badger them into coming back, even under the guise of "encouragement". They will contribute if they wish to .
  2. We cannot adopt the Wikipedia like attitude of "publish now, fix later." It's that kind of attitude which gets news sites (and contributors) sued. If it's wrong, we don't publish, period.
  3. Extraordinary efforts to publish a user's first article may be a help, but sometimes, no matter how much effort goes into rescuing a user's first article, it's beyond help. We won't publish for the sake of publishing if the article isn't salvageable, no matter how much the user's feelings are hurt.
  4. Policy making and site changes should be done on wiki, but sometimes in the event of something serious, IRC can be the fastest way to find everyone who can help in one place, so something can be done quickly. Posting and waiting for people to read the Admin alerts can be time consuming at the least.
  5. Discussion should be kept civil, I agree as one of the biggest offenders on here. I'd also say that when you've had a particularly stressful day, it's probably best not to carry out administrative actions, since your mood IRL can affect your judgement on the net.
  6. I agree with this one totally, about the harrassment and personal attacks. Immediate short term block. But when even the threat of a block causes people to get annoyed, angry, and threatening to ragequit from the project, maybe we should ask ourselves, how would we enforce that?
BarkingFish (talk) 22:44, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
On the last point: The goal is not to threaten people with blocks at all unless we are sure their intentions are bad. A user with good intentions should be able to adapt to the project's requirements if he is told he is not doing something correctly. Tempodivalse [talk] 23:00, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
Support the comment above. The idea that a new user who is acting in good faith should be threatened with a block with the comment that there will be no second warning is reprehensible. The threat was accompanied by no explanation of the section of the blocking policy that was violated, if any. There was no friendly attempt to educate. No attempt to educate at all, just pure intimidation. Is that the way to retain new users? Mattisse (talk) 23:13, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
No, it's not. However, since my comments here were intended to be generalised (not specific), and your issue is under discussion in other places, I'd appreciate that we keep this general :) I made it clear I'm only commenting on this, nothing more. BarkingFish (talk) 23:25, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Barkingfish, could you point the way where my "issue is under discussion in other places"? Give me some links or something. A big frustration to me is that "issues" are not really discussed in depth at wikinews but merely mentioned and then dropped. So it would be helpful to know where this discussion is taking place. Thanks, Mattisse (talk) 00:08, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure BarkingFish was referring to the million and one threads on the topic at your talk page, and TUFKAAP's talk page. Bawolff 00:14, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
A few points:
  • Barkingfish, my understanding (correct me if I'm wrong) is that we're only vulnerable to lawsuits if there are any copyright violations or libelous claims. What I mean by "publish now, fix later," is that copyediting and formatting can be done after the article has been published. Obviously fact-checking and plagiarism-checking would be done in the review process.
  • Unless it's subject is not newsworthy, an article is rarely unsalvageable. I would even go as far as to completely rewrite it (obviously subsequently abstaining from a review), and then getting another editor to publish it. The excitement of seeing your news story published is often enough to encourage a new user to contribute dozens more articles.
  • The immediate temporary block would only apply to blatant personal attacks; never for simply making a mistake or not understanding a policy. I can't see how even a new user would be "acting in good faith" by personally attacking another user. No, for those kind of attacks ignorance will not be a successful excuse. Also, there will be no "threat of block." Vandalism, advertising, arguing (as long as it's about the article), or any other policy-violation will result in talk page warnings. If a user gets blocked, it will likely happen without warning and thus will only happen in extreme circumstances.
--Ashershow1talk 23:54, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification, Ashershow1 :) I have almost certainly misunderstood - I thought you were intending "publish it now, sort the problems out afterwards." - You are correct, we're liable to lawsuits if what we publish is a copyright violation, or as you say, contains libelous or defamatory claims.
With regard to the issue of unsalvageable stuff, it is rare, but it does happen. The usual case is something written either in very poor language where the intention of the article is lost and sources are thereby tough or near impossible to locate, or in a situation where the article is exceptionally short, and doesn't provide enough context to build a functioning article from, no matter how hard you actually try. A complete rewrite only works if you get the gist of the writer's intentions in the first place!
As for the threat of block thing, even if not done personally, does exist in some our templated warnings. The threat of block thing exists on other projects, but since we're not them, there should be some way to look at this. Should we move to it, I will see about sorting consensus to remove this threat, although people sometimes do need to be told that their behaviour could potentially stop them from contributing. There will be ways round it though, so we'll see how we can sort those issues out. BarkingFish (talk) 00:19, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
For threat of blocking thing. I think we should avoid 'threatening' people with blocks (obviously, different situations call for different actions, we can't generalize everything). Some people respond weirdly to threats, and may respond better to a note saying do X then to a note do X or else Y. Most of the time things are either not serious enough that they could go to two warnings (One polite note, when stop or we will block you note), or serious enough that they should be blocked on the spot with no warnings. Its rare for something to be between those two severities. Bawolff 00:24, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Agreed, bawolff, but the "do X or else Y" could be interpreted as a threat, and if we're trying to avoid them, as you say, different people respond to threats in different ways. The language we use has got to be spot on. BarkingFish (talk) 00:28, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
(sorry to interject in the middle of the thread). What I meant is we should make recommendations of the form do x. We should not be saying do x or else y. Bawolff 00:43, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Again, only in the event of a blatant personal attack would we block a user. How about the following warning before a block:
Stop hand nuvola alternate.svg
Hello. Please be advised that personal attacks of any kind are not acceptable on Wikinews. This is your only warning. Any further misconduct towards another user will result in an immediate block from all editing until further notice. Thank you.

--Ashershow1talk 00:38, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

What is considered a personal attack on wikinews? I have been searching for a policy page but can't find it. It would always be helpful to link a new user to the policy page, since they quite likely don't know what you mean. And the goal is to educate, right? Mattisse (talk) 00:59, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Ok, Mattisse - The answer to that is simple, I usually go by the same version Wikipedia uses. "Comment on the content, not the contributor". How do other editors interpret it? BarkingFish (talk) 01:01, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
the way the dictionary does. Bawolff 01:04, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Identifying a personal attack is important, and I think we shouldn't just go by Wikipedia. When this discussion is over, I plan to start a number of new policy pages, including one about personal attacks. --Ashershow1talk 01:06, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
@Ashershow: maybe, just as important as creating new policies, is reworking existing old ones to suit our needs better. For instance WN:E could do with a rewrite to be less vague and rambling. I personally prefer a minimalist approach to policy, if we can do with one policy on user interactions that encompasses etiquette, personal attacks, etc. that might be better than a bunch of new pages to cover those topics. Just a thought. Tempodivalse [talk] 01:13, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
There isn't really a policy that deals with personal attacks. This is an issue I've tried to get addressed multiple times, but without success. In fact, the only page that really addresses civility/user relations is WN:E, and it's rather vague in places. Tempodivalse [talk] 01:08, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

┌────────────────┘
(edit conflict) There's two vague bullet points mentioning (vaguely, of course) personal attacks: "Be polite" and "Be civil." I believe that there should be a more clearly defined meaning of the term "personal attack." Whether it be Wiktionary's definition or Wikipedia's "Comment on content, not the contributor," it's very important so we can avoid further drama because of these vague guidelines. —Mikemoral♪♫ 01:14, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Agree with Tempo. One policy page is better than a whole bunch, but I think I'll name the new one something like WN:Standards of Civility, rather than "etiquette" because the latter sounds more like a suggestion than a mandatory policy. --Ashershow1talk 01:18, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

(edit conflict) You expect a new contributor to be familiar with the Wikipedia policy: What is considered to be a personal attack? Does wikinews mean to follow this? (It has not been, from my view). If so, then you need to link a new user to the Wikipedia policy, and perhaps explain some, as not all of Wikipedia's policies are clear even to admins there, (and blocks and block threats are regularly and openly debated and contested there). If not, a similar specific policy needs to be developed so the definition of a personal attack is not left up to the personal feelings of the blocking admin.

And the new contributor who is being threatened needs to be linked to that page so they know what the heck you are talking about. Also Wikinews:Blocking policy is not specific enough and doesn't cover the situation I was in, for example. Admins need to have specific policies to follow that the users can understand. And the new user should be linked to these policies.

Nowhere in all that "Write an article!" encouragement is any of this explained or even alluded to. And yet it is one of the main dangers facing a new contributor. Mattisse (talk) 01:33, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

I'm of the opinion we shouldn't be relying on Wikipedia policy. This is a different wiki, after all, we have our own needs and standards. I might draw up an initial draft for a user interaction/civility/NPA policy for the community's consideration sometime soon. (BTW, this would be a great thing to discuss at tomorrow's open-doors think tank/meeting tomorrow at #wikinews-workshop on IRC starting 21.00 UTC. </spam>) Tempodivalse [talk] 01:40, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Also, the Wikipedia simplistic "Comment on the content not the contributor" is qualified extensively in the actual policy and does not include content disputes and a host of other exclusions. Mattisse (talk) 01:43, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Obviously the Wikipedia policy page does mention more than "Comment on the content, not the contributor". The page has a section on what constitutes a personal attack and the consequences of personal attacks. —Mikemoral♪♫ 02:12, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Tempodivalse that we shouldn't rely on Wikipedia policy, but in the absence of any decent layout here, I go with what I already know. I only use the "Comment on the content" nutshell thing because I don't remember the entire policy off the top of my head - I do know the gist of it though, so if I need to quote it, I simply refer back to what I used in my decision :) BarkingFish (talk) 02:24, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
  • (from wikipedia, for BarkingFish)

First offenses and isolated incidents

Sometimes the best way to respond to an isolated personal attack is not to respond at all. Wikipedia and its debates can become stressful for some editors, who may occasionally overreact. Additionally, Wikipedia discussions are in a text-only medium that conveys nuances and emotions poorly; this can easily lead to misunderstanding. While personal attacks are not excused because of these factors, editors are encouraged to disregard angry and ill-mannered postings of others when it is reasonable to do so, and to continue to focus their efforts on improving and developing the encyclopedia.

If you feel that a response is necessary and desirable, you should leave a polite message on the other user's talk page. Do not respond on a talk page of an article; this tends to escalate matters. Likewise, it is important to avoid becoming hostile and confrontational yourself, even in the face of abuse. Although templates have been used at times for this purpose, a customized message relating to the specific situation is often better received. When possible, try to find compromise or common ground regarding the underlying issues of content, rather than argue about behavior.

Personal attacks do not include civil language used to describe an editor's actions, and when made without involving their personal character, should not be construed as personal attacks, for instance, stating "Your statement is a personal attack..." is not itself a personal attack.

Attacks that are particularly offensive or disruptive (such as physical threats, legal threats, or blatantly racist or misogynistic insults) should not be ignored. Extraordinary situations that require immediate intervention are rare, but may be reported on the administrators' noticeboard|WP:ANI|administrators' noticeboard. Mattisse (talk) 02:43, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

    • Thanks, Mattisse :) I understand that part of their policy, quite clearly. If you refer to my response at my talk page, you will see that I have admitted that I should not have threatened you with a block, but my comment there also clarifies the situation, I hope. Regards, BarkingFish (talk) 03:12, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Draft policy

As a (very) tentative draft, I've come up with this. It's nowhere near done yet, but what does everyone think about the general gist? I feel this is a good first step towards defining personal attacks and enforcement. Tempodivalse [talk] 03:24, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

I've seen it, Tempodivalse, and I like it. I think anything which gives us our own policy and guidance on this is clearly a good thing. It saves people like myself relying on the policies of a sister site as a means of setting how we operate. I'd support this. BarkingFish (talk) 04:05, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Question Would you consider a failing review with the comment "You demonstrate zero clue regarding the above policy points on which this article has been failed; do not have the chutzpa to resubmit until it is policy compliant" a violation of what you're drafting for 'policy'? If so, it's useless - no matter how well-intentioned. --Brian McNeil / talk 06:07, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Brian, that would be a minor violation but a violation nonetheless. "You have zero clue" is needlessly antagonistic and biting. Even if the article was blatant plagiarism, and appropriate response would be, "Thanks for editing Wikinews! Unfortunately, your article seems to be an exact copy of this page. Try to rewrite the article in your own words."...or something along those lines.
Also, Tempo, before we start building policy pages I'd like to build some consensus on here about the individual issues. Let's start with blocking. --Ashershow1talk 12:28, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Brian, that isn't appropriate for a comment. Why do we feel a need to be so biting to new users? There's nothing wrong with a simple "please familiarise yourself with such and such policy, please don't request rereview until everything is compliant". Put yourself in the newbie's shoes. Would you appreciate someone calling you clueless? Tempodivalse [talk] 14:30, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

A personal attack of any kind towards a fellow Wikinewsie will result in single warning on the offender's talk page. Any further personal attacks after the warning will result in an immediate 24-hour block. If the personal attacks are continued after the block is over, the user will be reviewed as a candidate for permanent block. This rule applies to all users regardless of seniority.

Votes:

  • Support as nom --Ashershow1talk 12:31, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment I agree with the idea of this proposal but I'd like some clarification what a "personal attack" is considered to be. Are we using the definition I made on my subpage? Tempodivalse [talk] 14:30, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
    Also, I've made changes to the policy, what does everyone think of this now? User:Tempodivalse/User interaction policy. The "enforcement" section is similar to Ashershow's section but with a little more detail. Tempodivalse [talk] 15:15, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Support, I support this idea, and also the general scope of the proposed wording over at User:Tempodivalse/User interaction policy. ;) Cheers, -- Cirt (talk) 14:34, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

First, I'll reiterate some points Tempo will have missed since xe was absent during the many months of discussion on this subject on the policy water cooler late last year.

  • Blocks are an inherently evil strategy for bringing about civility. It's almost incidental that they do material damage to the news by depriving articles of contributors during a big chunk of their short window of time. Blocks are a threat, and the atmosphere created by threats is one of intimidation, subtle but relentless; a slow-acting poison, to Wikipedia's sorrow. That's why I spent so much time and effort (some visible on the policy cooler) looking for positive alternatives to the purely negative threat of blocking. Rejected ideas included "X days since last industrial accident" signs, and swear jars. The most successful moment in that dialog was when I asked for something equivalent to throwing a bucket of water on a couple of people who've gotten into a fist fight — and between a bunch of us, we actually came up with some exciting ideas for it. Even so, there still remained the hardest part of it, which was that when one produces that momentary stunning effect, there's just a single, brief opportunity to get a short message through to the participants, and it's not at all clear what that message should be. Appealing to the good of the project doesn't seem helpful, because often all parties actually believe their part in the dispute is for the good of the project.

Now, a different point (and I'm really not looking forward to saying this). You're addressing something that isn't the problem. It's not even possible —tempting, but not honestly possible— to claim that the problem is Wikipedians coming here and assuming bad faith on the part of Wikinewsies, because even though that does happen a lot, it too is a symptom. I don't pretend to have successfully isolated what the problem is yet, but consider this:

  • It's entirely possible for newcomers and established Wikinewsies to have no significant breakdown of etiquette, and to never think anything about each other that would violate AGF, and yet to have absolutely devastating interactions with each other. I have in mind a case in point (and this is what I'm really not looking forward to saying). Over the past several months I've put in a lot of effort trying to be helpful to and supportive of newcomers, as I've always believed recruitment/retention is our key weakness. Yurttletturtle and Ashershow1 spring to mind. But then a few weeks ago I noticed a very promising newcomer, and decided to pick a promising article they'd written that wasn't already old on the queue, clear my schedule, and put in an unlimited amount of time to help them bring it up to snuff. That was Mattisse, and the article that ulitmately got deleted. I put in a completely insane amount of time, and I don't believe either of us did anything significantly uncivil or even inconsistent with AGF. But by the end of it, Mattisse was making whole strings of sincerely believed and uniformly false statements about what I had said and done, compounded with mistaken conclusions based on the faulty data (seeming to think I hadn't spent much time on it, had said things were unsourced without reading the sources, had no understanding of how to write, preconceptions about truth... the bit about my being quite young was almost funny). My first attempts to discuss facts about some of the misunderstandings might as well not have been written for all the impact they had, and eventually I gave up on saying anything at all. Despite etiquette and good faith on all sides, I felt utterly abused, chewed up and spat out, and for the first time in ~3 years on Wikinews I seriously considered retiring. Which may yet happen. Your etiquette and assuming-whatever wouldn't have any effect on that at all, that I can see.

--Pi zero (talk) 16:26, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Actually, when I first created this thread I wasn't specifically thinking about user interactions but the hurdles for writers in general. Somewhere along the line the conversation became devoted solely to "civility". (The title was initially "On contributing", not "Civility".) I agree that it is possible to be nice and civil and yet still be rude. The key word here is probably respect. Please also see my comment in reply to BRS as to why some sort of no attack policy is needed. Tempodivalse [talk] 17:11, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
I also respectfully disagree about the threat of blocking. If you allow someone to scream at and abuse another editor without repercussion, does that create a good "atmosphere" either? Blocks create a tense atmosphere, yes, but it is frequently better than allowing the blockee to hurt others, thereby causing an even more tense atmosphere. Tempodivalse [talk] 17:19, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
My remark on the evils of blocking came out overly simplistic. There are undoubtedly a great many situations in which blocking is the best, perhaps only effective, remedy, but those situations are quite extreme. I've got absolutely no compunctions about blocking additional socks of kittiesonfire, nor do I advocate hanging back from common-sense blocking of vandals. Yet, when Amgine and I (who, sadly, often mix like oil and water) clash, the threshold for cooling it should probably be fairly high, but the threshold for blocking either of us should probably be stratospheric. The way to make that second threshold sky high is to have some other effective, non-negative measure available that can deal with most merely-overheated situations. I really am rather taken (despite unresolved logistical questions) with the idea of causing an overheated discussion to suddenly get very small, thereby slowing things down, because it also powerfully invokes the metaphor of "taking a step back" from the discussion. The logistical questions do need resolution. --Pi zero (talk) 18:01, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Arbitrary section break

  • Oppose - it a) lacks a definition of 'personal attack' and b) assumes that all such comments are equal in severity. Realistically, we need to be more general; something about "unnecessary hostility towards other users" might be better. Has the additional advantage that there is np way some flavours of trolling or incivility could be described as attacking anyone.Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 16:43, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
    @BRS: My draft policy defines "personal attack" as:
    [...] a negative comment aimed not at a user's argument or opinion, but at some personal trait of the user himself, usually with the purpose of discrediting the user. Obvious insults making little or no attempt at constructive criticism classify as personal attacks (e.g. "Your contributions were utter garbage!"), but other things falling into this category include negative/derogatory remarks made about one's beliefs, physical characteristics, and accusations about personal behaviour (e.g. "Of course you're biased, you're a Mormon!"), when irrelevant to the issue at hand.
    Note that I've not yet supported the proposal either in its current form. A definition is necessary. But I do think a policy is necessary, and has been for a long time. If we were to be constrained to current policy and blindly follow it, there would be no basis for blocking an established user for openly profaning at someone. (I think you know what examples I'm thinking of.) Tempodivalse [talk] 17:06, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
    Close; but I question the bias example - it's poorly phrased, but calling it an attack is harsh. I'm biased in many things, which obviously stem from my morals. Editors must feel free to challenge that. If you manage to utterly ban all profanity, I will cease to contribute. The two (closely related) key areas when judging a text are effect and intent. Screaming obscenities is probably always going to fall foul of one, the other or both - but that does not mean any given word should be banned. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 17:14, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
    Nowhere does the draft state that swearwords are prohibited. The policy was carefully phrased to encompass disrespect to other users and make sure contributors don't derail conversations by making some derogatory remark about someone's personal trait that's totally inappropriate and irrelevant. (Alas, I've seen this happen countless numbers of times.) The Mormon example might be appropriate if made in relation to a biased article regarding Mormonism, but it would have to be backed up with evidence as opposed to a blanket statement, and even then directed more as criticism of the article and not the user. Tempodivalse [talk] 17:24, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
(edit conflict) What is the definition of a "personal trait"? Search for "personal trait" on Wikipedia. The internet gives similar results. Mattisse (talk) 17:42, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure if that was the best word to use. I think the key idea I'm trying to convey here is respect - don't be hostile to, belittle, denigrate, or disrespect other users. I guess examples of "personal trait" comments are something like "You're [insert religion or belief here], we shouldn't listen to you", or "Do you have some sort of handicap that makes you so dense?". Does this make it clearer? Tempodivalse [talk] 17:53, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
  • "If we were to be constrained to current policy and blindly follow it, there would be no basis for blocking an established user for openly profaning at someone," - Tempodivalse. My concern is chiefly with 'openly profaning'. As far as the Mormon goes, I'm assuming a bias accusation would be levelled where there was an honest view that Mormons had a general opinion on a relevant issue; I reiterate, it is poorly phrased but it is negligent rather than malicious. This goes back to my comment above: not all violations are equal, hence one part of my opposition. A third point I didn't have time to write: we cannot really support a proposal that relies on the definition given in a draft, because, well it relies on a draft (I realise this may not have been the original intent, but since we've gone down that line...). My gut is to stick the above into the draft and play around with it, see how it can be made workable. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 17:38, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
    You can replace "openly profaning" with "openly disrespecting/being hostile to", if you wish. Perhaps not the best choice of words on my part. (Although, I'd argue that profanity when directed ad hominem at another user usually indicates disrespect. But I don't want to get distracted into arguing semantics.) Tempodivalse [talk] 17:53, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
    <smiles> Yes, it usually does. Usually. No further objections with the comment rephrased thus, thank you. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 17:58, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose in the strongest possible terms! And, I deliberately chose my wording in the failed review example. I'd put money on getting the self-same response if, instead of "zero clue", I had used the phrase "absolutely no familiarity with policy".
Pi Zero cites an example where he's gone to great lengths to perform 'project orientation' on a new user, and failed. He's anguished over the wider issues than a few cusswords or curt, hard language, I respect his efforts on this front.
I will also second BRS's point. If you force through an absolute ban on any swearing, I will leave. I have a counter proposal, and it is quite simple:
Tempodivalse (talk · contribs) self-imposes a "policy wonking" topic ban, or the community of administrators does through via increasing punative blocks for disrupting the community by pushing the same goddamn point in every way imaginable. Evidence why that's appropriate? This very page! Xe can be said to 'own' 90% of the discussion per xyr obsession. Older, wiser, heads are looking at this; putting up fluffy bunny wallpaper and laying out a doormat that says "Wikinews welcomes trolls and Wikilawyers" is idiotic. --Brian McNeil / talk 17:51, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Now, be fair, Brian. Tempo's ideas do require work but they aren't useless. This is a wordy, pleonastic conversation, but it vaguely goes somewhere useful. Also, I note that at least xe's made an attempt at a policy, more so far than the other users working on this have managed. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 17:58, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
(edit conflicted) Thank you for just proving my point on user hostility for me.
I will note that the initial purpose of this topic was to allow the site to be more approachable by newbies in general - particularly the over-bureaucratisation of peer review. The thought of civility was only a side-topic. I'm saddened that you're trying to come in here and unilaterally shoot down discussion despite the fact that multiple editors agree with me and want something to be done. Tempodivalse [talk] 18:01, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

A few thoughts on what's been said

  • A few points:
  • Pi zero, your conflict with Mattisse is demonstrative of needless antagonism. Mattisse was a new user and you, admirably, put a lot of effort into publishing a new user's first article. Mattisse's response to his/her article being rejected is typical of a first-time rejection experience, especially painful if it's your first article. Mattisse did not technically respond with a personal attack, but her needless antagonism certainly bordered on it.
  • Pi zero's experience returns me to three of my above points. (1)The review process should be more lenient, (2)Extraordinary efforts should be made to publish a new user's first article, and (3)If an article is rejected, simple, specific reasons should be given as to why. Looking back at that discussion, Mattisse appeared frustrated with the drawn-out, unspecific explanation of why her article had failed. Concise answers, such as "Sentences 3,6, and 12 are unsourced" are ideal.
  • I don't think the threat of blocks creates a tense atmosphere. Criticism of content will never result in a block, thus users just have to make sure they're commenting on the work and not on the editor. I also think that if a user has an unresolvable problem with another user but is afraid of being blocked, there should be an "Administrators against conflict" page that would provide admins to mediate user v. user disputes. The only users who would feel tense would be the ones that are prone to hotheadedness and personal attacks--and I honestly don't mind if they feel tense.
  • Brian, "zero clue," and "absolutely no familiarity with" have the same effect--they both attack the contributer rather than the contribution. A good explanation of article failure would be, "The article appears to be incongruous with this section of WN:EXAMPLEPOLICY:'section of the policy it violates'"
  • I don't think profanity should be banned. I do, however, think it should be banned in relation to speaking with other users. For example--"I don't give a shit what template we use, the facts are are all wrong,"--is fine, but, "X User doesn't seem to give a flying fuck about WN:EXAMPLEPOLICY," is not. --Ashershow1talk 18:12, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Could you please factor in my comment below where intended? And, may I ask a simple question: Do you think any of these proposals will ever achieve consensus? Within a reasonable timescale? If not, the move to a topic ban is justified; the content is more important. If xe wishes, lead by example, not by demands on others. --Brian McNeil / talk 18:23, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
It would be too easy to spend words on why it's not a solution to lower review standards. I'll skip that. But I'll make another point.
It must be possible to tell somebody xe has zero clue, or the like. The wording is ungentle, but that just means it ought to be used judiciously. It has to be possible to say it; it bears directly on conducting the business of Wikinews. --Pi zero (talk) 21:10, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Question: Is it ever helpful or productive to tell a user he is clueless? That's an awfully discouraging thing to say to a newbie and will not make him want to continue to contribute. Can you provide an example where one couldn't use a less abrasive approach? A well-intentioned contributor should be able to understand the project's requirements and adapt accordingly after some pointers. Tempodivalse [talk] 01:24, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

subsctioned alternative

BRS, I know xe's trying, ... Very.
But, how many editor-hours have been utterly wasted with no move forward? How many users could xe have attempted to educate before someone gives a curt failing review? Lastly, how devisive are the repeated attempts to speedily move to a vote? And, to prove a point, I deliberately swore in the above; try finding the last time I did so - you're going back to my spat with Tempo that provoked his temporary retirement (where xe started using xyr Wikipedia userspace to catalogue my percieved sins). It's not acceptable. Not then, not now. Xe can go live in the Bronx, or in the sinkhole estate Addiewell which I carried out the census in 20 years ago. Then, and only then, would xe have the 'life experience' I believe would qualify xe to make a proposal on this issue that is realistic. --Brian McNeil / talk 18:13, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Brian the above comment is a blatant personal attack, and I ask that you recuse yourself from this discussion as you seem to have an unresolvable issue with Tempodivalse. --Ashershow1talk 18:19, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
By analogy, you are saying that because I have not (to your knowledge) lived in a slum, I am not qualified to make decisions about a faced of a wiki? You don't know me nearly as well as you think you do; I don't believe you're in a position to make that judgment.
I believe my contributions to the projects should speak for themselves. I made *one* poor judgment call when I made the "abuse log" on en.wp. (And I was intending to use it as a personal reference, it was not even supposed to be publicised.)
Unless you have something more constructive to contribute to this discussion, I will probably not reply to these comments anymore. It is unproductive. Tempodivalse [talk] 18:21, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

┌────────────────┘
If you want to take one, single, positive contribution from my input: Do the job you're demanding others do. Then you'll see why Pi Zero appreciates this is way beyond the simplistic "black and white" you're applying.

You've no need to live in a slum to appreciate that swearing is commonplace. I will admit that is not a particularly nice way to highlight that the use of profanity is far more widespread than your life experience shows. But, don't you "own" 90%+ of the discussion on this page? Would your Wikinews time not be better spent trying what you think everyone else should do? Then you will, at least here, see why people never reach a consensus on your proposals. You may, after doing so, be more qualified to start a discussion than a devisive vote. --Brian McNeil / talk 18:42, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

-chuckle- I've heard my share of profanity in RL, believe me. But "everyone does it!" isn't necessarily a reason to support it. I don't live in a protective bubble in a cave fifty feet underground, and I don't appreciate being talked to so condescendingly.
I have no idea what you mean about "owning" the conversation or doing the "job". I review articles daily, and write them myself as time allows. Do you? I have written more articles for the site than four or five of the contributors to this conversation put together. I would not have spent the time thinking up this proposal had I not thought there was a good chance of making progress. Tempodivalse [talk] 19:08, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Also, this discussion is beginning to drift from its initial purpose. I'm afraid this thread will become so unwieldly long that everyone will get TL;DR. We may need to restart the discussion with a summary of goals and plans for more focussed commenting. I'll probably leave someone else to do that. Tempodivalse [talk] 19:14, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
"Owning the conversation"? You started it, you pushed people to look here instead of content submitted for review. If you'd the on-wiki experience to adequately understand the entirety of the issue, you would have multiple examples just like that given by Pi Zero. You want everyone to live and act by your standards? It won't happen. When you can, consistently, show your proposed approach works without dozens of hours of reviewer time required per article, then you might understand why this is so contentious because you will have developed a solution, not just a feeling how everyone else doea things is wrong. --Brian McNeil / talk 19:23, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
I now realise that the differences between us are irreconcilable and further answers will not help us progress. But I don't appreciate unilateral attempts to shut down conversation on a topic that several people wish to pursue. Note the support above by cirt (talk · contribs) and BarkingFish (talk · contribs), two editors who I believe you hold in higher regard than myself. This line of conversation is going nowhere and threatens to derail the whole proposal into a mud-slinging fight. Tempodivalse [talk] 03:03, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
I would just like to make a quote from my retirement notice: It seems that we have lost sight of our soul purpose, to create an NPOV and free news source that anyone can edit. We now are contributing in an environment where bureaucracy has become counterproductive to our original goal and where we can pick each other up on the most minor of technicalities and then hold them against each other. We are an environment that does not feel warm and welcoming to new users (I myself being one of them) - and we wonder why there is a slump in user activity and contribution. No one must have taken any notice of it, I guess. ~YTT T | C 06:56, 27 April 2011 (UTC)

Thoughts on the Wikipediaing of Wikinews

At this point in the conversation, I'd like to reiterate something that I said when this was being discussed months ago: Wikipedia has a large number of policies detailing what type of interactions users are allowed to have with each other, and how they're allowed to have them. But — as was brought up on Wikimedia Strategic Planning — Wikipedia is still rife with blatant meanness, sexism, racism, and general intolerance. Creating policies that ban certain words and dictate the language that people are allowed to use stopped absolutely NONE of that. It did nothing. It continues to do nothing. A significant part of the Strategic Planning process was devoted to various people trying to come up with solutions to the fact that Wikipedia has failed so utterly and completely to create an acceptable working environment (especially for female editors, who report enormous amounts of harassment).

So I ask you all to consider this: why should we copy their failed strategies? Creating policy pages saying "don't be racist" or "don't be a bigot" doesn't work; if it did, Wikipedia would be an awesome place of awesome awesomeness ;).

In my opinion we should have exactly one policy page dealing with etiquette/behaviour/disputes. It should say very little, because if Wikipedia has taught us one thing, it's that red tape is useless for dealing with this type of thing. It should say something like this, in a few short paragraphs and with a few bullet points:

  • Treat others with respect.
  • Assume that the mistakes made by others are the result of ignorance, not malice.
  • Make an effort not to escalate conflicts.
  • Admins: use your best judgment about what to do when a situation can't be deescalated. If in doubt, consult other admins.

There are perhaps 2 or three other points it could touch on, but it should be kept brief. There should also be a certain... vagueness to it. It is fundamentally impossible for us to create a detailed policy that will cover every situation. The best alternative to that is to create vague, generalized principles (rather than situational policies) that can be broadly applied to any situation. Gopher65talk 00:35, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

Sounds like Ettiquette lite? What can we trim from that, to make it simpler/easier? - Amgine | t 00:50, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
One point I disagree on, is the idea of assuming anything on principle. Assuming incautiously on the negative side has gotten us into trouble, and assuming incautiously on the positive side has too; neither is acceptable. Moreover, Wikinewsies should be in the habit of not assuming; we should always base our theories on evidence, and that's a habit of thinking that should become gut instinct, with no exceptions. I've been working off-wiki on what to replace AGI with; a theme of much interest to me has been "don't take/make it personal", and I've been playing around with how to break that down.
  • "Effort not to escalate conflicts" rhymes with "don't take/make it personal"; each has something to offer that the other doesn't, I think, but they're related.
  • "Treat others with respect" has the interesting property that it can (more or less) be useful when dealing with people that we have real evidence are up to no good.
--Pi zero (talk) 01:12, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

preliminary and full review

The review queue being substantially slow, it came to my mind to split it into 'preliminary review' and 'full review' queues. The former would check general verifiability, copyright, newsworthiness, while the latter could focus on the style and NPOV (the two which take longer to review). Do you think this would make the reviewing process easier? Gryllida 02:32, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

Personally, I find verifiability longest (especially with long articles) as I copyedit quickly if not distracted and such. For short articles, a review shouldn't take very long at all, but I think "collaborative" reviews may be helpful for long, in-depth articles. fetch·comms 02:39, 9 May 2011 (UTC)
If I'm following that rightly, I agree. Breaking up review by functional subtask doesn't really help, because most of the review task is the subtask of comparing with sources, and that subtask is itself not divisible into smaller functions. Breaking up review by region (either region of the article, or region of sources) must carry some variety of organizational overhead, so likely doesn't make sense for small articles, but may be well worth it for large articles. Large articles can get stuck on the review queue because it's especially rare for any one reviewer to clear enough time for such a massive chunk of review effort; therefore, this sort of divided review may actually move the article through much faster, even if the total effort shared amongst reviewers is modestly larger.
Just how to technically support by-region divided review is the challenge at which I've always stopped, in the past; it seems a formidable problem, and one thing or another has always drawn me off before I got anywhere with it. --Pi zero (talk) 03:45, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

Requested Articles?

anyone know where to find this? I look on newsroom or something else and it said "request" but i couldn't get it to work. --Harharireland20 (talk) 05:27, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

See WN:Requested articles. To make things a little easier, click this link and just fill in the gaps. DENDODGE 17:12, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

Accents in category names

I'd like to rename  Category:Raúl Castro  to  Category:Raul Castro.

My reason is practical. This category is difficult to add using HotCat, because typing "Ra" produces a set of completion options that does not include "Raúl Castro"; earlier today, I rammed this down HotCat's throat by cut-and-paste, acquiring the correct character via the redirect at Raul Castro.

I'm checking with the community first in case someone else has either an alternative practical solution, or an ideological objection that ought to be discussed beforehand. Although it seems our category names mostly omit accents, I was readily able to come up with a more extreme example: Category:São Tomé and Príncipe. --Pi zero (talk) 17:46, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

Works fine for me, its just sorted in utf-8 code point order, which means ú sorts after z. Note if you type Rau hot cat should be smart enough to still suggest Raúl Castro, or at least it did for me. Bawolff 17:38, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
"Rau" now works for me too; likely my connection was acting up when I tried yesterday. Well, if it works it works.
Never mind. --Pi zero (talk) 18:53, 20 May 2011 (UTC)

Market Data

I suggest moving these from mainspace to portal space and marking them historical. They're a different sort of creature than the notion of article that has come into sharper focus since they were maintained, so don't seem right for mainspace; and they are data, so don't seem right for project space. They should go somewhere with flaggedrevs enabled. The historical tags can, of course, be removed later if the effort is resurrected (but mainspace still probably wouldn't be right for it). --Pi zero (talk) 13:59, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

  • This sounds reasonable to me. They're likely to stay historical because we did have an issue with one maintainer saying we couldn't use it without paying. --Brian McNeil / talk 14:14, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

Yet another Main Page redesign

I expect most of you have seen me clogging recent changes with minor edits to User:Dendodge/Main_Page—it's my working draft of a redesigned Main Page. We're overdue a redesign, IMO. I don't intend to change the (default) layout too much, but the finished version will (hopefully) be cool in a number of ways:

  • I intend to make it, eventually, modular—an easy-to-use template (in one's userspace) could be used to change the modules and their arrangement, and a JS gadget could simply redirect a user to their customised Main Page.
  • With this, and prior to its roll-out, would come actually getting portals working properly—this means a consistent, nice-looking layout (based on the Main Page, or the new version thereof), and a portal MakeLead.

I would like some input—much like the previous Main Page redesign project (quite some time ago), it would be nice to make this a collaborative thing, and incorporate elements from each design. I'd also like some comments on the feasibility—and, indeed, wisdom—of a modular main page (see the BBC, if you don't know what I'm talking about).

The idea of that is that people can pick the "world" (i.e. default) leads, or leads specific to a certain country (from the portals), or regarding a certain topic (again, from the portals), or a combination thereof, and what they want to have in their DPL, and what they want in the boxes at the bottom (more, shorter, DPLs).

Obviously, this will mean—if the community likes the idea, that is—getting portals working, and getting somebody willing to work for kudos and barnstars (probably Bawolff) to get the infrastructure in place.

This is all just a concept at the moment, though, and the main page redesign can—and should, IMHO—go ahead even if we decide to make it static. Now, everyone dissect my comments and tell me how stupid I'm being! DENDODGE 14:37, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

Haven't looked into the modular business yet, so can't speak to its merits or demerits (though I imagine it has both).
I've been meditating on portals for a while, though. Not that I've got a full, coherent vision yet.
  • When you see a link in an article and click on it, you ought to be given basic orienting information about the thing the target is about. Categories using {{topic cat}} do this, with an introductory sentence (and if you want extensive info, that's what the link to our sister project Wikipedia is for — but you're not being forced to leave Wikinews just for basic orientation). Portals now don't do that, and the result is that I mourn when links from our articles get sent to portals where the reader will then be forced to leave Wikinews just for basic orientation.
  • For automatic suppression of ancient portal-leads, all that should be required is a purely numerical publication-date field on a portal-lead template. Via some template trickery, the portal master template can extract that data, then should be able to figure which leads to suppress.
  • One item of information sometimes provided on categories —and should probably be provided more often, but isn't yet provided for by {{topic cat}}— is an explanation of the inclusion criteria for the category: what should and shouldn't be put in it. I'm mentioning it here because it's an example of info that's appropriate for a category but not for a portal.
  • A list of most recent stories on a portal or category ought, ideally, to have a "more" link that goes to some sort of extended date-ordered list, rather than the alphabetical mob of all pages belonging to a category. By date is more useful for browsing.
  • Concerning the stuff that occurs further down on a portal, I really wish I more fully grokked how the details of it relate to what portals are trying to accomplish. (I recall Amgine had a rather neat explanation of the intended-function difference between categories and portals, on one of the water coolers; maybe I'll try to hunt it down in my copious free time.)
--Pi zero (talk) 15:44, 21 April 2011 (UTC)
Well, I've always thought that categories are for us, the editors, and portals are for the readers. Hence, portals should look pretty and convey information as simply as possible, while categories are behind the scenes, used for internal stuff and by various templates etc to provide their pretty output. A category should just be a list of articles. A portal should be like a specialised Main Page. DENDODGE 15:48, 21 April 2011 (UTC)
I agree; portals should be like mini-main pages, with a clean, streamlined interface that ideally would work similarly to the real main page. An example technology portal can be see here at CNN; it's like a whole CNN site, but only on technology. WN portals should act similarly: introduce the reader to our content of a specific topic/region in a manner that is both visually appealing and engaging. fetch·comms 16:44, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

OMG. I was working a redesign, too! We should have a contest. My design involves some tweaked javascript, so I can't do anything with it on WN yet, but it's currently at here. fetch·comms 15:57, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

Some of that's quite nice. Overall, it's a little flashy for my taste, but I imagine elements of the two designs (and any designs anyone else cares to submit) can be mixed together to make something super awesome. I would point out that there are certain usability and performance issues with a scrolling ticker, though. DENDODGE 16:04, 21 April 2011 (UTC)
The main page should have an absolute minimum of stuff at the top, getting right to the news as fast as possible. Hence my criticism even of the region buttons on Dendodge's design. --Pi zero (talk) 16:31, 21 April 2011 (UTC)
I don't think it looks right without them—it needs something to provide a bit of space between the body content and that dark header. They also serve the dual function of providing a place for the handy refresh button to go, rather than being lost among the social network links; that was one of the first things I decided I was going to move in my design. DENDODGE 16:34, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

(ec)

Yeah, I don't expect all of it to be adopted (because some of the code needs to be cleaned up, updating with MakeLead will have to be reworked, the widths need tweaking, etc.—the animated ticker was a hacky addition that will be fine un-animated), but I wanted to focus on making WN distinct from other sites, while still remaining navigable for readers unfamiliar with the wiki platform as a news site.
I notice that both our designs have a navigation bar at the top for the geographical regions; I think this is definitely something to implement. Even if almost every major news website doesn't have such a bar for easy navigation, I think it will bring readers quick access to the topic of their choice. Top bars are not overly intrusive; I think they help more than they distract from the leads. (If anything, our leads would stand out more if the pictures were larger, like the NYT homepage or the CNN homepage—if we focused on photography more, having a "picture of the week" for a big story that week was also one of my ideas).
I was more concerned, however, on our five-story lead main page, which doesn't (IMO) adequately feature all that WN has to offer; that's why I think having sections for regions (maybe topics would be better, though?) on the main page would be a good way to easily introduce additional content without clicking on additional portal links, first. This could be achieved through several routes, one of which I used—one single box to hold all the leads so there is more room elsewhere (and it's built completely on existing tabber code, too).
What I really think the WN main page should capitalize on, however, is what makes us stand out from MSM sources: community. I really think using the WN logo on the main page top banner would contribute to our image and identity; we also need to have better integration of featured articles, OR interviews, etc. Regardless of what design is chosen, larger social networking buttons, and more noticeable links to other language WNs should help reinforce this connected community. fetch·comms 16:44, 21 April 2011 (UTC)
Well, I'm hoping my modular idea will perform the same function as the various sections on yours, except more customisable and less "busy" (which is a good thing, IMO). I agree with you about the leads—but, unfortunately, we're not exactly great on the photography front, so I think we'll have to stick with text-based leads for now. I also agree with you about reinforcing the sense of community—at some point, I'll try to get the Wikinews logo at the right hand side, like we have now, over the gradient—and about making the social networking links larger. The other languages is somewhere where I can see your point, but I don't imagine it will be too helpful to readers—if they've got here, they're probably looking for English, and we have other languages down the side and at the bottom. Maybe some little flag icons or something would be enough? DENDODGE 16:50, 21 April 2011 (UTC)
Hm, perhaps not all the languages need to be listed (perhaps just the ones with over X# of articles?), or there would be too many obscure flag icons. I agree that busy-ness and clutter on the main page is undesirable, but as MSM sites have upwards of sixteen or twenty sections/boxes, a little bit extra will probably aid navigation and be more familiar to the casual reader, who may not bother to click on a link to a portal to look for an article that interests him/her. Even just some more integration (e.g., the boxes at the bottom of our current main page could be reworked so the FAs/OR appear with the rest of the content instead of looking like an afterthought next to the "About Wikinews" blurb) would help increase focus on our exclusive content. fetch·comms 17:05, 21 April 2011 (UTC)
I have been thinking about going down to three rows of two, rather than two rows of three, with the non-content boxes below the content ones. That might help to differentiate. You might also notice that I've got rid of all the borders, so a <hr> might also help, if it's needed. DENDODGE 17:33, 21 April 2011 (UTC)
BTW, Fetchcomms's design doesn't work without JavaScript enabled: the ticker becomes static and its text does not appear, and the leads (other than the first) are unreadable—while one would expect clicking on the titles to take them to the articles, it doesn't actually go anything (if one has JS enabled, clicking on the titles will bring up the lead summary).
I also think we need a design that will work with most of the infrastructure we already have, rather than requiring too much to be changed—I doubt FC's leads will work with the lead template and MakeLead we have ATM, for example. While the crux of my idea is the modularisation and updating of portals (which would require a new template and an adaptation of MakeLead), it will still work fine alone, and that's a Good Thing.
The design also requires that one have a high screen resolution—even on my 1366×768 laptop, I could only shrink Firefox by about an inch without horizontal scrolling—and looks awful on a BlackBerry (I haven't tried other mobile devices, but if my BlackBerry can't handle it, I doubt my mum's 2-year-old Nokia could either). DENDODGE 09:46, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, mine is js-dependent for the leads, although as many major news sites have similar designs (e.g., ABC News), it should not be a big problem. My lead templates are slightly modified—there is a {{lead 2.0}}-type template for each lead, and those are stuck in the template for the js "tabbed" box, and the box is what's transcluded. It will require some changes, but nothing major, from what I can tell, which is how I designed it. I know I need to work on the widths, though, and that's the main problem I've also encountered. fetch·comms 20:03, 24 April 2011 (UTC)

Moving ideas forward

While we're still in the discussion stage, I think it would be a good idea to discuss how to actually choose the next main page design. There are currently two proposals: mine and Dendodge's. Obviously, we should be continuing to discuss these ideas, proposing new designs, etc., but I'm wondering whether the community supports:

  • A contest in which any interested party may submit designs, and then we narrow it down to the top two or three submissions, and analyze them for things like accessibility, presentation, etc.
  • A vote after a discussion period, where the winning design becomes the new Main Page (provided there are no technical issues with the coding)
  • A centralized discussion at, say, Wikinews:2011 Main Page redesign, where comments are left, designs are then tweaked, and a final design is selected or created through a combination of ideas.

The last one makes more sense to me, because rarely does a single design work by itself (combining good stuff to make something great seems reasonable), but if the community would prefer a competition or other format of selection, that's fine with me. fetch·comms 17:55, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

Your version seems static and broken; am I looking at it wrong? — μchip08 15:18, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
Brian McNeil and Mono both have designs (there's others, but I don't remember who. It seems like Main Page designing is in vogue) — μchip08 15:21, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
FWIW, I've incorporated a few ideas from Fetchcomms's design into mine—namely the logo and the larger social networking icons. I'm sure there's more that can be played with and added/changed based on other designs (I'm not too sure I like my brightly coloured region links, for example—they don't quite go with the sleek header, but it doesn't look to bad, and makes things seem friendlier). BTW, Brian's design was from ages ago, so—while useful as a source of ideas—probably isn't suitable for use as-is, and I'm not sure I like the, uh, "emptiness" of Mono's, but—of course—it's not up to me. DENDODGE 15:26, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

MC8, if you mean static and broke as "not updated", then that's just because it's a hardcoded mockup that I've had to stick on Wikia due to some js tweaks I've had to make (on tabber.js and such). No images on Wikia, I'm afraid, but everything should update fine on WN with DPL. But if you mean broke as in "the formatting" is a complete fail", then make sure you're looking at it in Vector with js enabled. If it's still weird, blame it on some hacky coding I need to fix and look at this screenshot instead: [1]. fetch·comms 02:41, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

  • Why do we need to be either/or? My suggestion is to change the main page often, but preferably on a regularly scheduled basis. Why not change the main page at every cross-quarter (every three months)? If we go with Fetchcomms's version on May Day, Dendodge will have 3 months or so to tweak up an edition for beginning of August. During the next 3 months we'll decide who (person or team) will put together the November edition... This way we will get many opportunities to try ideas on the main page, plus we'll have some opportunities to do some seasonal things (keeping in mind southern hemisphere is now in Fall heading to Winter while northern hemisphere is in Spring entering Summer.) I don't see any downsides, while each of the options above have both winners and losers. - Amgine | t 04:39, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

Break A

What Amgine said. A contest wouldn't truly rate design skills of the community, while a friendly discussion could allow to make a decision in a more reliable, calm way when everyone more or less supports the outcome. Of the three proposals, I seem to actually like the "centralised discussion" idea, but the other two probably won't work very well. Gryllida 06:30, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

I don't like the idea of a competition—it should be a collaborative effort, and hopefully the best elements of each design can be put together. DENDODGE 09:08, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
Is there a way we can collect ratings (sort of like the article rating tool) on the MP design if we change designs every few months? Or at least a feedback/LQT comment form so we can see what readers like and don't like on each design? That would be a good way to gauge appeal, if possible. fetch·comms 20:11, 24 April 2011 (UTC)

I like the idea of buttons, the rounded cornerness, and the geographical focus of fetchcomms' design. I don't like the ticker, but that's because I don't like news tickers in general. They're too distracting in my view. I like the colour scheme, top title bar, and parts of the general layout of Dendodge's page. I'd suggest merging some more of the ideas from the two of them together. Gopher65talk 00:13, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

  • As far as I'm concerned, it should be possible to create a universal template that will work for the main page and all portals. Then, we keep a consistent look right across the site. I'd spent a lot of time working on templates to allow portals to look much like the main page (See here).

This should be taken into account and the design done with this as a goal. --Brian McNeil / talk 15:07, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

The specialization inherent in the portal concept seems to imply some differences in appearance from the main page. Trying to shoehorn both into a single template may tend to stifle creativity in this regard. Some differences are related to the lesser throughput of portals. A different sort of difference is that a portal is potentially the target of a wikilink from a keyword in article text; I addressed this in the first bullet of my first comment in this thread (which I repeat here for convenience):
  • When you see a link in an article and click on it, you ought to be given basic orienting information about the thing the target is about. Categories using {{topic cat}} do this, with an introductory sentence (and if you want extensive info, that's what the link to our sister project Wikipedia is for — but you're not being forced to leave Wikinews just for basic orientation). Portals now don't do that, and the result is that I mourn when links from our articles get sent to portals where the reader will then be forced to leave Wikinews just for basic orientation.
--Pi zero (talk) 16:12, 25 May 2011 (UTC)
This is a news site, not a reference site. If you go to the portal on a topic or geographic region, it is because you want news on the topic or geographic region. This has always been the case; your "basic orientation" is outwith the project remit – it is the responsibility of Wikipedia. The purpose of portals should be the self-same as on any other news site; to whit, the collection of news article that falls under the specific topic that the portal covers. We, repeatedly, complain about Wikipedia stepping into our territory, let's be big enough not to return the favour. --Brian McNeil / talk 21:16, 25 May 2011 (UTC)
I work hard to treat our sister projects very well. This is exactly why, when template {{topic cat}} was first being designed, I and others firmly objected to the idea of an explanatory paragraph on a category, which was clearly poaching. What I'm talking about does not poach. With {{topic cat}} we have an introductory half-sentence-or-so; it's typically less information than is contained in the first sentence of the corresponding Wikipedia article, comparable to what might be contained in a relevant Wiktionary definition (if there is one). Its function is to enhance the usefulness of the focal list of news articles, and I believe it serves that function very well. With no basic orientation at all the reader would routinely be forced to leave our site just in order to figure out what the hell all the news articles are about, which is just silly; while, with more than the bare minimum provided, we would indeed be poaching on Wikipedia's territory. Note also that the introductory sentence, which includes the customized "half-sentence" of basic orientation, prominently features a boldfaced link to the corresponding Wikipedia article.
Now that you remind me, though, another thing I'm quite pleased with about {{topic cat}}, which I would like to see carried over to portals, is the rather comprehensive (and compact) block of sister links; they have a much more prominent place in the {{topic cat}} format than on the main page. --Pi zero (talk) 21:46, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

Sister links article section

As things are now set up, sister links (e.g. via {{Wikipedia}}) from an article go in the "External links" section. Of course they can't properly go in the "Sources" section, but it really grates on me to relegate our esteemed sister projects to externality. So I propose a separate optional section called "Sister links", to go after "Sources" and before optional "External links".

To make this work well, I suggest we use a different format than the large right-floating boxes like {{Wikipedia}}. If there's a section devoted to these links, they should be on the left, and more compact. I envision something akin to the following; there would still be at least three details to settle. (Completely hoked up example; horizontal lines added for clarity here.)



Details to settle (at least):

  • Is the icon alone sufficient to identify the sister project, and if not, how should the sister be identified?
  • Due to legacy names of templates, I've used a single master template (now at {{User:Pi zero/Sister links}}) that produces a list of sister links. Is that the way to go, or should we use a similar format to the "Related news" section, which has an explicitly bulleted list of links via {{Wikinews}}? Since the names of sister projects, akin to {{Wikinews}}, are not available for use for this purpose.
  • If we stick with a single master template, should it be called "Sister links", or something else? There are already templates {{Sisterlinks}} and {{Sister}}.

--Pi zero (talk) 15:20, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

  • I think the status quo is okay. Yeah, it's not "nice" to deem the other projects "external", but I worry that adding yet another section at the bottom of a page would make it more cluttered. (I'm something of a minimalist, if we keep things simpler and more focused on the actual content, it's better.) Your concern about the logo not identifying the project sufficiently is valid; it could be worked around by adding the project name by the picture (but again, that makes it look more "cluttered".) "External links" would help the reader understand he's going to leave our site, which isn't totally clear with "Sister links". Tempodivalse [talk] 15:30, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
  • I'm opposed to a separate section. And, I think it is perfectly acceptable to have sisterlinks in an external links section. They are external to Wikinews; they lack the peer-review process we follow for reliability, and the - albeit subtle - distinction needs to be made that they're not sources. --Brian McNeil / talk 15:38, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
The importance of clarifying that they aren't sources is part of my reason for this proposal. Because it's unpleasant to label them external, that creates subtle psychological resistance to removing them from the Sources section when they're mistakenly placed there. A "Sister links" section would make it psychologically easier to separate them. --Pi zero (talk) 15:55, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
  • A new section is, and has always been, truly ugly - we effectively do that right now, when there are no other external links. Further, there's a kind of order of preference for where our readers go next; first priority goes to internal links, but second priority has always been sister links (in the text) with sources third and 'other' external links fourth. Therefore, I dislike both how we do it currently and the proposed solution. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 17:46, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
My long-term objective is to have all article-text wikilinks be local (not that I really expect to get 100%, but I believe in aiming high). Because for Wikinews to feel like a real project, there should be an immersive Wikinews experience in which one spends lots of time browsing Wikinews without being pushed out to another project — and that means the sister links (which I'm very much in favor of having) have to be placed where one isn't surprised by their non-locality. No ambushing with sister-links in article main text.
The very simple first step is using local targets when available, and the next "small" step is systematically identifying and populating appropriate categories. {{w}} supports both of those, along with more general text-wikilink management (it's a pretty subtle tool, actually). But I'm really looking to accumulate a whole arsenal of other techniques, just one of which is a more palatable way to shift sister links to a place where they are clearly not just links to click in the text. I suggested after the sources section because that's where we put other links now, and tried to make the links more prominent and at the same time more streamlined.
Will it be possible, I wonder, to find a way of handling these separate sister links that will satisfy both of us? --Pi zero (talk) 02:30, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

sec brk (sister links)

Perhaps one solution would be to place sister links into a clearly-defined (Defined, as in, clearly defined boundaries upon the page) template that made clear what they were e.g. "Read more on Wikinews' sister proects..." I'd suggest this can be moved around to suit each individual article; if all else fails, a horizontal one similar to the horizontal infoboxes we experimented with could go at the bottom of short articles without any alternative space. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 16:44, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
A right box and a horizontal box, as alternatives styles?
  • Right box the same width as an infobox, perhaps. Supposing there is an infobox, just below the infobox might do for a large article, or just above  == Sources ==  for a small article; would have to try out various examples to see how they look.
  • Horizontal box placement. Below the {{sources}} would be consistent with current practice (which you say you dislike :-). Not sure what I'd think of above the  == Sources ==; is it worth my while to form an opinion? :-)
  • Whereever we put it, I'd really like to find a more streamlined treatment within the box, for which purpose one general approach is, of course, the one I've been working on (exemplified above), which as I've also noted still needs fine-tuning.
--Pi zero (talk) 21:17, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
IMO, the sequence of links should probably be:
  1. Related news - internal links
  2. Sister projects - interwiki links
  3. Sources - external links closely related to the article content
  4. External link - external links not so closely related to the article content
That way, as you descend the page - much like the inverted pyramid the body text follows - the links become less relevant and more distant from Wikinews. We want people clicking on internal links first/most, so they spend as long here as possible. Failing that, we want to direct them to a sister project, so they stay within Wikimedia. Sending them elsewhere should be a last resort.
So, IMHO, the sister project template - whatever it looks like - should go between related news and sources, to preserve the inverted pyramid link structure. But that's just me. DENDODGE 21:38, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Tricky reasoning, because the inverted pyramid approach can also support putting the sister links after the sources. The main text is content of the current article. Related news is also our content. The sources are not our content (which justifies putting them after Related news) but are inherently part of the current article. Sister links are neither our content nor inherently part of the current article. I'm just saying, inverted pyramid really doesn't unambiguously tell us which of those two places to put the sister links. I do think a right-box of sister links should really go somewhere earlier than Sources, but that's not in the linear sequence at all, and doesn't place a horizontal box.
While we're considering the overall ordering, we might include updates, which go just before the optional Related links. It's just been remarked that {{update}} is really ugly, and the fact I can't clearly see that it's ugly may be simply because I've looked at what it was like before Shakata prettified it (and doubt I'd have been able to imagine anything quite that ugly). It does occur to me we might have some luck with a new look for {{update}} similar to what we've just given {{correction}}, with a different color scheme. --Pi zero (talk) 22:35, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

Ideally, our article format would be revamped so such a "related links"-type section would be seamlessly integrated with the rest of the page. fetch·comms 02:37, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

Agreed, wholeheartedly Fetchcomms. I'm quite taken with the more discreet demo above, but would suggest some use of {{plink}} to tidy up the tooltips. The Wikipedia logo is instantly recognisable, and renders any text such as "Wikipedia has further information on <foo>" redundant.
Each WMF project has its own branding, by making use of it we increase the brand recognition. When people know all the logos, the project name is redundant. I'd be perfectly happy with being able to do {{sisters|target page|description|tooltip}} and getting a quite, quite small left or right-positioned box with just the description and projects where the target page exists. --Brian McNeil / talk 21:41, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

reporting news!

My question is this, why do reporters (general)when covering a news item tend to jazz it up (dress) so that it will attract the interest of the general public. Even if it is not entirely truthfull, nowing how the public will react when reading it (no smoke without fire syndrome) which could ultimatly ruin someone's reputation and possibly life? Even when the truth is revealed, it always comes to late when the damage is already done! —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Grahnj50 (talkcontribs) 18:27, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

  • That is a very broad generalisation. The trite answer is: It sells newspapers. --Brian McNeil / talk 21:02, 25 May 2011 (UTC)