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

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Overall, what is the current "temperature" for Briefs? I don't think many people are creating/referring to them? Is it something I should consider reviving? Or, am I just dazed and confused?Bddpaux (talk) 01:00, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

Due to current review criteria, the only briefs likely to get published are short summaries of breaking news for which no further information is available. We do have shorts, and you're welcome to contribute those, but we usually need at least three different stories to make those work, and full articles are obviously preferred. DENDODGE 20:55, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

Post-mortem on OpenGlobe fork?

I'd love to see a post-mortem on the recent fork of OpenGlobe -- what the concerns were, how they were presented, what the alternatives are within WN policy and practice to the changes suggested there. Is there any discussion of it here on Wikinews?

Regards, sj (talk) 22:29, 12 September 2011 (UTC)

Lots of (informal) discussion took place on irc today. Most of the disputes and what not that triggered the fork happened a fair bit ago time wise. Bawolff 02:12, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

On-hand experts

Something that occurred to me doing some behind-the-scenes work on DEN's space junk OR - how trivial it should be to get academics on-board, and in reality how much work is required to find one at short notice. I suggest we build up a core of readily available profs to comment on core areas - law, politics, economics, sciences - by approaching them in advance and getting 2-3 in each major subject area ready to offer opinions at the drop of a hat. This would allow ready OR to be easily conducted on a range of subjects by pinging requests for comment off to those who expressed willingness. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 23:53, 12 September 2011 (UTC)

At my school, which I take to be typical, we (at the graduate level, anyway) got regular 'in the news' bulletins about members of our academic community who'd gotten press coverage. So it shouldn't be too hard to find folks interested. --Pi zero (talk) 01:12, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm now a student at a world-leading research lab; obviously, not going to be asking them (massive COI) but I'd be amazed if they don't do semi-regular press asks.
On to practicalities; been suggested to me a basic list of contact details, academic backgrounds, special interests, etc be placed on the embargoed wiki (keep their records private). I'm wondering how feasible it would be to build a webform on there, though, for the truly lazy accreedited reporter to quickly pick someone and mail them via the interface. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 18:49, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
It'll have to wait until after Thursday. ;-) Don't-cha just love hosting that falls due 2 days before payday?
I do think a Wikinewsie Rolodex would be a worthwhile effort. Many academics will be delighted to see their name in the press when you contact them on their area of expertise. I'd say at least two to three per main subject area. Ideally, geographically dispersed, with people doing regular OR trying to cultivate local contacts. It'll be far easier if you can fire off a link to a prof on a particular paper/article, ask for brief remarks and if they're okay to actually call later on to ask more pointed questions. We should hardly need a form to email them, simply proper mailto links on pages about each expert. We can then document success rates, and any notes (like How to get comment from RMS without a lecture on GNU/Linux). --Brian McNeil / talk 20:00, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, another thing is a form could allow notes as to how long ago each was last contacted, and maybe even be set up to store a permanent record of the content. Good for varying your input from article to article. Blood Red Sandman (Talk) (Contribs) 20:16, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

Peer review reform

Please make yourself familiar with the current system first.

As it seems to be a problem with using foreign language documents as sources, I propose to partition the reviewer's group:

  1. full reviewer: they would hold the rights currently attributed to reviewers;
  2. assistant reviewer or fact checker: they would have the right to assist in the peer review process by checking the cited foreign language sources (verification), however they would not be able to publish an article. Their command of English needn't to be as good as of the current reviewers, as checking the style (grammar) would not be their primary role. Each such reviewer would hold his right for a specific language.


  • We might notify them by software generated (automated) e-mails, when their assistance is needed, i.e. when a document of their language appears as a source in a review stage article. It would fasten the review process.
  • We might recruit to fill these positions in the major languages using embassies. It might flock a few people around here.
  • We should verify their ability to understand the language in question and that they have a good enough grasp of English, so they could determine differences between the source text and our English article. I am not sure about how this confirmation method should work, but we might use SUL lists, ask the opinion of the community of their home wikis etc.
  • To ensure the quality (trustworthiness) of these articles (with foreign sources) we should have the verification of two different fact checkers for an article to be published. Checkusers might use their tools to filter out sock puppets, i.e. to ensure that at least 3 different people crosschecked the content. (We should give a fair warning for the to-be-fact checkers that they might be checked on on a regular basis.)


  • lessening frustration stemming from publication delays ([1]);
  • it would make easier to write articles about events not yet covered by the English-language press (unique content -> more readers);
  • (via recruiting) potential of making Wikinews more known among Wikimedia contributors.


  • if we are not cautious, we might loose our trustworthiness;
  • if we are cautious, we would generate a lot more work for checkusers.

Please comment on this proposal and make suggestions. - Xbspiro (talk) 12:20, 30 September 2011 (UTC)

To be clear, fluency in the sources is not just a matter of "fact-checking".
  • Fact-checking is not nearly as simple as it might sound. Subtleties of wording in both source language and article language (English) can make the difference between accurate reporting and grossly inaccurate, even libelous, reporting.
  • I also rely on my ability to pick up subtleties of source language during review for (at least)
  • credibility of sources
  • independence of sources (this can sometimes be very subtle, to sniff out when the sources really aren't independent)
  • newsworthiness
  • "copyvio" — on which the concerns would be somewhat different when dealing with non-English sources (and ianal), but one consideration that springs to mind is the difference between direct and indirect quotes.
That first point, about fact-checking being not so simple, also suggests that the job would require the person checking the facts to have a good command of the language of our article (English) as well as the source; and indeed, how would a "full" reviewer know what copyedits are safe to make, if they can't read the sources for themselves? (Which is why I'd think rapid very-high-quality English translations of sources are more what's wanted; see below.)
The less-than-full-reviewer job you're describing would seem to be, at best, barely less than full reviewer; certainly it's nothing like a "mere fact-checker".
I did (privately) raise this issue a while back. The logistical problem is that the level of trust involved is really scarcely less than that of a full reviewer, and it already takes most of our community infrastructure to judge accumulated community trust for granting reviewer privileges; for this, we'd lack direct evidence to judge who to trust. The proposal I floated was to have people agreeing to stand by to, on very short notice, provide high-quality English translations of sources — but even for that, it's difficult to know who would really be willing and able to take on such a demanding task on short notice, and, again, who to trust to do a really high-quality accurate job of it.
Keep in mind, I'd like to see a way to improve this aspect of our operation; I'm simply explaining why, so far, I haven't seen a solution. --Pi zero (talk) 14:00, 30 September 2011 (UTC)