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

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Not ready

I suggest we adjust the review template to use the term "Not ready" instead of "Failed", as the alternative to "Passed". The term "Failed" is misleading —in a gratuitously discouraging way— because it suggests a degree of finality that often does not exist. (One would also jigger the review gadget to generate section headings with "[Not ready]" instead of "[Failed]".) --Pi zero (talk) 12:58, 4 October 2011 (UTC)

  • This sounds like an excellent idea. --Brian McNeil / talk 15:53, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
I've implemented it. Changed the template, and changed just two strings in the gadget (frankly I was afraid to do more in the gadget, lest it break something): the section heading on failing review, and the edit summary on failing review. --Pi zero (talk) 01:22, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

Wikinews:Print edition

Is there any plans to revive this project? There hasn't been any editions published since last year. Is it alright to make some editions myself?--Hallows AG (talk) 09:14, 2 October 2011 (UTC)

I have made one edition here. What do you think about it?--Hallows AG (talk) 05:32, 3 October 2011 (UTC)
Hallows, it looks pretty good. I apologise for not responding earlier, Real Life™ is taking up an obscene amount of my time.
What has been thrown about as an idea in the past (and based on our current low daily article count) is doing a weekly Print Edition. Let's call that Wikinews Weekly. Work on the principle that you start the drafting for publication process on a Saturday, aiming to have the complete product out around noon GMT on the Sunday. Pick the three or four most significant, or unique, stories Wikinews has covered in the past week, build a front page from them, and edit to fit. Run full articles from page two onwards, link shortened stories on the front page to the relevant inner page full articles, and do the full thing with an eye to internal pages allowing advertising space. [By this I mean putting filler like Commons logo, text "you can contribute images to the Free global Commons", and link URL, where someone who actually printed and distributed copies could put their chosen ad.]
Right now, Wikinews is in a slump. I - personally - am perceived as the cause of a lot of this. Some past contributors view the quality control measures the project has as overbearing, and our review process is indisputably onerous. If a few people, such as yourself, look for the positive in this, and find creative methods to maintain the project's relevance, there are some truly remarkable opportunities. The use of Wikinews as a "trial-by-fire" publication forum for journalism students may see us land funding (and not insubstantial funding) from the Australian Research Council.
As is an oft-stated wiki axiom, be bold! --Brian McNeil / talk 20:28, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

Breaking news approval

Hey Wikinewsies,

I've had an idea for reforming the approval process. Currently, the review process works great for what in traditional journalism would be feature writing: long, detailed synthesis articles, and things like interviews and other OR work. Those things tend to be long, have lots of sources and require source checking.

Reviewing is a bottleneck because reviewing an article or writing an article is a major time commitment. And when things don't get reviewed, we lose contributors, people get frustrated and they don't want to do it again. Yochai Benkler said in The Wealth of Networks that to build a commons-based peer production system, you need modularity and granularity. At Wikipedia, you don't have to write a whole article, and you don't have to do that at Wikinews either—except you sort of do. Because there's such a low guarantee that if you contribute something to a developing article that it'll actually get published, there's not much motivation to actually doing so. If you want to get something published, you can do that by... writing a fantastic article straight out, pushing it into the review queue quickly, then begging, pleading, threatening, doing anything needed to get another reviewer to look it over.

On Wikipedia, the newbie can fix a spelling mistake. Here, that equivalent path of granular modifications isn't available.

Here's an idea: let's do breaking news differently. Instead of writing a three paragraph stub article with two sources, for breaking news, we should be able to do things through a different process. When some big news breaks, a reviewer starts a stub within an hour or two: just one sentence of stub, with one or two sources. They can self-publish it so long as it is ridiculously obvious that the breaking news is valid. Now, as it goes out on Twitter, we invite people to write the article. As Otto Neurath said of science: it is rebuilding the ship while it is in the ocean. The story is out there on Twitter and Facebook, and people can click through and help. Their modifications go into the pending changes queue, and someone has to approve them. But those changes are a lot smaller chunks. It's not someone having to review an hour of work, it's a reviewer having to review a few sentences being added.

There is huge amounts of good stuff coming out of crowdsourced journalism: The Guardian have done stellar reporting of the London riots last month, and it was down to their use of listening to social media sites like Twitter and investigating them. Instead of a big article landing on the electronic desk of the reviewer, and them having to spend half an hour going through it, in this breaking news type of situation, the reviewer is checking a rapidly changing set of diffs coming in and approving or rejecting them as necessary. Those diffs add an individual nugget of fact, with a source.

Think how we could have covered the London riots. Imagine if we could make Wikinews become a place where that kind of (for want of a much better term) crowdsourced journalism could go. Not just a wiki for news but a distributed newsroom. We get the breaking stub up, and the collaboration page becomes the equivalent of the Twitter backchannel chatter. All the rumours and new sources get dumped in their, and we try to build up a community of people who put the puzzle pieces together in real time, with just the lightweight layer of pending changes between those changes and the world.

For Wikinews to get the groove back, we need to make stories into smaller granules of content, rewritable and quickly updatable as information is coming in, and still provide a place for the in-depth reporting, the original research. I think reforming how we handle breaking news synthesis stories could be an experimental way of getting new people involved. They'll come for the headline, they'll stay for the longer reports, and they can help by collaborating on very rapidly changing stories.

But, ah, what happens if someone publishes something that's not breaking news or isn't completely obvious or whatever. Simple. We take away their reviewer flag. The point here is to optimize for speed in those situations where speed is necessary, because that speed brings in readers who, unlike other news sites, can themselves be editors. Otherwise, we'll plod along with one new story a day, and when the next 9/11 happens, we'll spit out a story three days late. —Tom Morris (talk) 20:02, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

No doubt there are some valid points in there, but they're also mixed up with fallacies that I'm honestly tired of debunking. I could debunk those, then go on to write a huge essay diagramming the different kinds of articles, different forms of community-driven journalism, and interactions between each pair of one and the other. Or I could spend even longer, and write a really short, clear, useful comment that wouldn't be way too long to read. What I'm actually going to do (not having time for either atm) is go look at the review queue, as I'm just waking out of an on-wiki coma. :-)
One thing leaps out at me: no self-publication. I'm not even going to trot out the reasons; see the peer-review template.
(I could say something about software support for incremental review-processing... and I'd be at least the next twelve hours trying to do so, and at the end of it might well give up in disgust, throw out what I'd written, and go sleep for the next two days while stories age on the queue.)
The basic fallacy here is thinking of Wikinews purely in terms of its volume of output, which is usually implied when someone describes review as a "bottleneck" (or by the truly clueless term "bureaucracy"). But... I'm going to look at the review queue. --Pi zero (talk) 21:06, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
Likewise. I agree that it may be "blatantly obvious" a story is valid news; but, it may be subtly concealed that it is actually plagiarism. --Brian McNeil / talk 09:30, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

Software support for incremental changes

To illustrate the software support problem —there is, I think, no scenario in which we wouldn't want this— here's an instance that occurred today. BRS had published Habertürk media sparks outrage over woman’s murder photo in Turkey, then submitted some additions (which, of course, as an independent reviewer xe couldn't add before publication). I decided to review xyr three edits one at a time, chronologically. But the first of xyr edits wanted a copyedit, so I couldn't sight it without encompassing the later edits; I therefore resigned myself to accumulating all the adjustments I'd need for all three of xyr edits, then making all those adjustments at once and sighting the whole thing. Looking at xyr second edit, an adjustment was needed there too. And then, when I went to actually make these adjustements, I was warned I was editing an old version of the page — because someone else had made some further small edits to the page while I was vetting BRS's edits. --Pi zero (talk) 17:00, 12 October 2011 (UTC)


I may not even properly appreciate what it is I'm asking for, but: is there a possibility that I can be given privileges to only be able to delete abandoned articles? I don't want to be an admin, or a reviewer or anything big like that...we just have loads of abandoned articles sitting in the newsroom right now and I just thought it'd be nice to get rid of them. Bddpaux (talk) 21:23, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

Delete priv is bundled with admin.
I cleaned out some of the backlog (from down at the bottom of WN:DR). It really is a tedious operation, I admit; do a sanity check on the two-day warning for each, check for a student author (those generally get moved to the user space, with no redirect from mainspace), when moving to user space remove the categories, when deleting also delete the talk page, and in either case check for a comments page. Odds are I goofed at least a few times on the batch I just did.
--Pi zero (talk) 22:33, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
Meh, no hurt feelings on my end...."careful what you wish for", eh? --Bddpaux (talk) 01:54, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Spreading Wikinews

Please, check this proposal in order to spread Wikinews. --→ Airon Ĉ 09:36, 18 October 2011 (UTC)

Just to note, the term for a member of the Wikinews community is Wikinewsie, not Wikinewsian. --Pi zero (talk) 11:34, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
Proposals 1 and 3 are already accomplished. Extension:GoogleNewsSitemap is enabled on en.WN, and allows customized rss, atom, and Google News Sitemap feeds, covering the first proposal. Likewise, there are an unknown number of Wikinews social media accounts in the various fora. All we need is to prevail upon User:Bawolff to create and maintain a series of apps and we'll have completed the strategic proposals... - Amgine | t 05:17, 19 October 2011 (UTC)