Wikinews:Water cooler/proposals/archives/2013/July

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Wikinews should be the long-term home for "Verified Interviews with Biographic Subjects"

I just saw an out-of-date article about yet another attempt to shut down Wikinews. Looking at how few Recent Changes there are I can see why - this site is less active than even the new URL of Encyclopedia Dramatica. However, there is a repeated need for a specific service that Wikinews would be the best project to provide, which I think should justify its preservation. I should note that I'm not a regular contributor of Wikinews and not a member of OTRS, but I think the two working together can make this happen.

On en.wp I have repeatedly called for "Verified Interviews with Biographic Subjects", and the response hasn't been bad, especially compared to the usual one comes to expect. [1] [2] [3] [4] These should have the following properties:

  • Every VIBS entry should involve an actual interview with a subject notable enough for a regular Wikipedia entry in some language (in the consensus opinion of Wikinews contributors).
  • VIBS interviewers should be members of OTRS and therefore enjoy some extra level of trust.
  • The identity of VIBS subjects should be confirmed to a level suitable for OTRS work.
  • The full text of VIBS should be made available to subjects first so that they can point out any errors.
  • VIBS should be citable by Wikipedia articles as a primary source for BLP (i.e. negative statements about third parties can't be cited by articles, because it is only an interview with one party), and published on Wikinews long-term.
  • VIBS should be a direct competitor to http://icorrect.com which charges $1000 for celebrities to document corrections to their biographic records, which was the topic of discussion in the first link above.
  • VIBS should allow celebrities an alternative to editing their own Wikipedia articles, and should be the go-to place people suggest when a editor's "conflict of interest" becomes a topic of discussion on Wikipedia.
  • Volunteers should be sought to watch the VIBS feed and update Wikipedia articles neutrally to reflect recent published interviews.

I imagine that a subset of Wikinews' original articles are at or near the VIBS standard and could be upgraded to populate the category from the beginning. Wnt (talk) 15:10, 30 April 2013 (UTC)

Hi. It sounds as if you're proposing to create Wikinews, just not realizing that verified interviews are part of what we already do here. We have experience with doing such things. We'd love to have you help us with what we do. You should talk to LauraHale, and see meta:The Wikinewsie Group.
Ironically, btw, the efforts to close Wikinews are mostly not motivated by our variable levels of activity (sometimes more, sometimes less); mostly, various persons resent the standards we require for publication, including the sort of verification you're talking about. --Pi zero (talk) 16:41, 30 April 2013 (UTC)
I am having a hard time figuring out how to respond to this. I can say that any idea of a verified interviews with biographical information as an English Wikipedia issue is beyond the scope of English Wikinews. This would largely require English Wikinews changing their policies. That said, Category:Disability sport interviews contains a number of interviews we have done with notable subjects in the past year in a specific area. Many of these interviews include audio that has also been uploaded to Commons, and have been linked on the Wikipedia article or the audio has been embedded on the Wikipedia article. Adam Hall (alpine skier) is the one that springs to mind. (Irena Villa and Teresa Perales have audio available but not embedded in the article.) In a few instances, the Wikipedia article about the subject has also been referenced, and we have clarified problems with the Wikipedia article. I know for Trischa Zorn, this was very useful in clearing up issues.
If there are people with Wikipedia articles where there are issues that WANT to be interviewed with the idea of this being fixed, we might have a few reporters who might be willing to do this... but fundamentally, this may be problematic because we need to establish newsworthiness and as reporters, we will ask what interests us. But I am willing to a degree personally to try if some one else arranges the interview. --LauraHale (talk) 00:46, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
Well, my feeling is that if Wikinews can design its products to meet the specifications of some particular market(s) it will be more successful. I think there are many people who come up on w:WP:COIN who would be good candidates for these interviews - people who are being keelhauled for editing their own Wikipedia articles, when all that is needed to turn "original research" into "citation" is a little bit of verification to put a stamp of approval on the person's comments.
The problem over at Wikipedia is stuff like [5] where people decide that "Wikinews" in general is a user generated site that is unreliable to use as a source. The question is, can Wikinews be upgraded by means of defining a subcategory, these "VIBS", which fulfills more criteria? I think that if some people at Wikinews can show that they can clearly confirm that they are interviewing the people they think they are, they should be able to go to w:WP:RSN and sell the people there on the idea that this particular type of article is a good source, at least as a primary source, not just personal speculation by some random pick-up editors but a genuine Q-and-A with some notable person. (I think Wikinews could ultimately be a great secondary source, but that requires integrating multiple interviews and citations and comes as a later step) Wnt (talk) 07:11, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
The fact that Wikipedia does not officially consider Wikinews a reliable source is at its heart a problem with Wikipedia's political climate. A bunch of folks over there despise us because of our high standards, and having resolved that Wikinews delenda est they then reason from their opinions to invent "facts".
Notable persons? You mean, like Wikinews interviews Spain's most decorated Paralympian, Teresa Perales? Or Wikinews interviews former Salt Lake City mayor and 2012 presidential candidate Rocky Anderson? Or perhaps Shimon Peres discusses the future of Israel?
Btw, of some interest may be w:User:Tom Morris/The Reliability Delusion; the author is both a Wikipedian and a Wikinewsie. --Pi zero (talk) 12:37, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
I think you're getting carried away here. Wikinews in general might be prone to reliability objections because anyone who walks in the door can cobble together a group of sources that portrays, say, just one side of an argument without the other, or implies a connection that isn't really valid (what they call "original synthesis"). My suggestion here is to wall off a little section of Wikinews and say, these are strictly interviews; if any external sources are mentioned they should be known to the person being interviewed so that a genuine reaction is had; the source gets to correct mistakes; and we know it's genuine. The stuff in that little category should then be defined within some very tight specifications and be far harder to dismiss. Wnt (talk) 23:42, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
When you say "in general", do you mean "on non-English Wikinews projects"? Because no, on English Wikinews anyone who walks in the door can't readily do what you're describing. --Pi zero (talk) 00:21, 3 May 2013 (UTC)
@Wnt, they are walled off. They have a special template, which indicates they are interviews. They are in a category called Interviews. Interviews are listed on the front page in an interview only listing place. The interviews are checked to make sure the information is verifiable. (This would involve listening to the audio, verifying e-mail, looking at pictures, having the context of the interview explained. It may be done via scoop, or on the talk page.) If you have a suggestion for improving English Wikinews in the context of our project, that would be great to hear. :) More than willing to listen. (PLEASE READ POLICY FIRST. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!) If you know of people who would like to be interviewed for Wikinews, point them at me and have them explain why they are newsworthy interviews so I can tailor questions and do an e-mail interview. (Or in person if they live in Canberra.) --LauraHale (talk) 00:30, 3 May 2013 (UTC)

As a random aside, please read Research:Wikinews Review Analysis for an analysis regarding our review process. I would also invite any user who has questions regarding the strength of our review process to read our style guidelines, read how to write an article and then submit an article for publication. Please remember: Most new reporters lose their first 1 to 3 articles before ever getting published... and the reporter and reviewer work together towards a shared goal of successfully--LauraHale (talk) 00:46, 3 May 2013 (UTC) getting an article published. When writing your first article (to check and better understand how our review process works), please remember to make sure your article is 1) newsworthy, 2) copyright violation free, 3) neutral, 4) verifiable, and 5) written in compliance with the manual of style. If you need a Wikipedian type framework, picture no article on Wikipedia being allowed to be published unless it first passes a GA review within 48 hours of being submitted. (GA review must take place in that time frame, not just writing time.) --LauraHale (talk) 00:46, 3 May 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for these responses: I may indeed be proposing the already done here. But could someone please restate my original proposed criteria into documented fulfilled criteria? I would like a bulleted list that includes Wikilinks to your relevant procedures, so that I can go back to the RSN at Wikipedia and really hammer on the idea that Wikinews interviews are reliable sources, and have something to quote/cite on that topic to back me up. Once I can establish that doing an interview with Wikinews is a way to create a reliable source for an article, I can go over to en:WP:COI and try to get this written in as a valid approach for editors to deal with getting their own articles fixed. Also - though this is looking a bit far ahead - if I do that, where in Wikinews would I tell the article subjects to go to request someone at Wikinews to interview them? Wnt (talk) 04:41, 4 May 2013 (UTC)
As requested:
  • Every VIBS entry should involve an actual interview with a subject notable enough for a regular Wikipedia entry in some language (in the consensus opinion of Wikinews contributors). At a policy level, Wikinews:Content guide requires that the article be newsworthy (with some leeway given if the person is otherwise notable). This is different then Wikipedia's notability guidelines in that an interview with a person can be newsworthy without being notable. We might interview someone who was on the scene of a notable event, but they themselves might not have a notable role. In these cases, I would expect it simply would not be used for VIBS purposes. Our review process should preventing our interview process from being abused from spam/pr. We have a fairly intense review process described at Wikinews:Reviewing_articles.
  • VIBS interviewers should be members of OTRS and therefore enjoy some extra level of trust. We have an accreditation process that shows this extra level of trust. See Wikinews:Accreditation policy. It is generally also expected that a copy of the unedited transcript/e-mails, notes, or recording of the interview be provided on the talk page or to the accredited user mailing list (scoop).
  • The identity of VIBS subjects should be confirmed to a level suitable for OTRS work. At this time we do not verify the identity of accredited users, though they are expected to use their real name or a verified pen name. This is something that may be worth another conversation in the future.
  • The full text of VIBS should be made available to subjects first so that they can point out any errors. There is no policy that requires this, but if this was the terms of the agreement with the interviewee I foresee no problem with this requirement. There is also always a period of time between the article being posted and publication in which the interviewee could review it.
  • VIBS should be citable by Wikipedia articles as a primary source for BLP (i.e. negative statements about third parties can't be cited by articles, because it is only an interview with one party), and published on Wikinews long-term. We have a policy that protects published articles - Wikinews:Archive conventions. The rest of this would be up to consensus on Wikipedia.
  • VIBS should be a direct competitor to http://icorrect.com which charges $1000 for celebrities to document corrections to their biographic records, which was the topic of discussion in the first link above. I have no objection to promoting it this way, as long as it is clear that we are a news service first, interviews must be newsworthy (or the person super interesting/notable).
  • VIBS should allow celebrities an alternative to editing their own Wikipedia articles, and should be the go-to place people suggest when a editor's "conflict of interest" becomes a topic of discussion on Wikipedia. Sound nice in theory, with the previous point's caveat.
  • Volunteers should be sought to watch the VIBS feed and update Wikipedia articles neutrally to reflect recent published interviews. If we can get WP acceptance, I am sure we can find people willing to do this.

Potential interviewees can e-mail scoop@wikinewsie.org, select a reporter to contact from this list or post to Wikinews:Request an interview. Good luck.--Cspurrier (talk) 07:14, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

Where to start?

Well, {{Howdy}} is a good place to start. But, reading the fine manual is so old-fashioned. :P

  • Please, don't disrupt Wikinews by 'pen-testing' the review process.

For interviews, particularly when used in Original Reporting, Wikinews has some prior form.

WN:OR probably needs a "Beware of the Leopard" sign. Again, people will ignore it.

The biggest hole in your proposal is there's no way we can hand over, or the WMF would want, particularly sensitive correspondence. --Brian McNeil / talk 18:11, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

DeadDrop

I recently ran across an interesting project named DeadDrop. DeadDrop is designed to be a secure, anonymous method for whistleblowing. It was mainly developed by the late Aaron Swartz, and it was recently rolled out by The New Yorker in the form of Strongbox. I think that such a "drop box" could be useful for Wikinews. Kudu ~I/O~ 23:25, 1 July 2013 (UTC)

There's scoop. There's been a dropbox for convenience of reporters in the field uploading images, provided for and used during the paralympics last year, and there's work I believe on replacing that with... I think it's called OpenCloud (arrangements by Brian McNeil, I believe) The truly anonymous whistleblowing function is something else again, though. One would have to think very, very carefully about such a thing. How would it fit into the Wikinews model of review? An open-wiki news source is something new under the sun, nobody knows how to make it work, which is exciting and frightening. Every step breaks new ground. Original reporting has to be heavily documented, because, if you think about it, the thing that distinguishes news from hearsay is the vetting process, and that needs to be especially robust when you're an open wiki so submissions can be made by, pretty much, anyone on the internet, and especially when the submission is OR. --Pi zero (talk) 23:44, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
  • You're talking about a 'publicised' dead-letter drop. The problem with those isn't the technology; nntp://alt.anonymous.messages - for example - is as old as Creosote. WikiLeaks have serious issues dealing with stuff from whistle-blowers; those issues pale into comparison against how much disinformation (read: crap, forgeries, conspiracy theories and PR spin) widely-publicised methods of 'anonymously whistleblowing' would bring.
We'd Rather not Gate into that deep an alligator-infested swamp.
I've worked in IT for a long time now, I'd not say my enthusiasm for new technology has worn off at all. I've a Raspberry Pi arrived in today's post, started a new job with an interesting company; yes, someone younger might assimilate the knowledge around that faster. But, it's the experience of spotting "what's the worst that could happen?"—before you start digging—wins almost every time.
What Wikinews needs software-wise is not bleading-edge crypto-tech (I doubt there are any serious flaws in Aaron's implementation - before anyone accuses me of saying that); it's more "workflow management" capabilities within MediaWiki. But, I said that way back in 2008; what's there is still spit 'n' bailing twine, with Semantic MediaWiki as a "totally OTT" branch that looks to have some of the features we'd like (albeit wrapped up in an approach I've not had time to fathom). --Brian McNeil / talk 19:06, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

Adding an addition on to the edit filter

Over on English Wiktionary, there is apparently an edit filter that prohibits the creation of a user page unless the contributor has made at least two edits in other name spaces. The purpose of this filter is to cut down on spam. I would like to propose implementing that particular edit filter on English Wikinews for the same purposes. At the present, we probably delete 1 to 4 of those bot created spam user pages a day, and our existing filters probably stop half of that. This would also discourage existing Wikimedians from creating user pages here and then never visiting the project again, or never contributing. It would give them an incentive to make some other edit to the project. --LauraHale (talk) 09:50, 26 July 2013 (UTC)

I'll play Devil's Advocate here. Just because there are a lot of user page creations that aren't legit, that isn't a reason to cut off ones that are legit. It's common practice for wikimedians to have a home wiki and then create pages on the other sisters (in their language) that are more-or-less-glorified soft redirects to their user page on their home wiki. That's a positive trend; it's good for inter-sister camaraderie. To not let them do it would feel unfriendly. Even though I get very tired of deleting spam user pages. --Pi zero (talk) 13:13, 26 July 2013 (UTC)