Wikinews:Water cooler/proposals/archives/2018/August

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Wikiconference North America - Columbus, OH

Lightning talk at Wikimania 2018, Cape Town, on "Countering the Balkanization of the Body Politic"

I want to do something for Wikiconference North America 2018, October 18-21, that discusses how the people whose Wikinews submissions do not get published might be engaged in some kind of activity that would keep many of them in the Wikimedia system and learning more about the issues that concern them. At Wikimania 2018 in Cape Town, I gave a lightning talk on how the Wikimedia Foundation is ideally placed to counter the Balkanization and exploitation of the body politic to benefit elites.

I don't know, but I suspect that many of the people whose Wikinews submissions are rejected return to their social media echo chambers complaining about the impossibility of talking with people different from them. I believe this has contributed to the polarization of the body politic including the rise of right wing extremism in the Western world in recent years -- and possibly even World War III, as we saw in the exchange of insults a few months ago between the heads of state of the US and North Korea. Both Daniel Ellsberg and Robert McNamara have said that a nuclear third world war is essentially certain to destroy civilization some time in the future unless the world's large nuclear arsenals are not destroyed first. (McNamara was US Secretary of Defense and Ellsberg was a high level consultant in the US Department of Defense during the 1961 Cuban Missile Crisis. Both have said that the world is very lucky that it didn't happen them.)

The problem is much bigger than Russian hacking of Brexit and the 2016 US presidential elections, as noted recently by Chomsky. More thoughts on this have been discussed here in the past and are available in v:Everyone's favorite news site.

Comments? The deadline for submissions for this October conference is August 15. I want to submit something, and I'd be pleased to collaborate with people more active with Wikinews than I have been. DavidMCEddy (talk) 17:57, 2 August 2018 (UTC)

Kansas City. real name = Spencer Graves. See EffectiveDefense.org, and KKFI Board and member of committees. I'm also a part time journalist with their Radio Active Magazine and to a lesser extent other shows.

Materials to submit, present, etc

  • What do you need to submit? There is a form to fill out. Have you seen it? What would you put into your submission? We could help you review your form contents and help you finalise your submission. It would be nice to have an updated version of [1] which expands on the work that is said in its last slide. (Further once you make the presentation we could rehearse it via video chat. This all needs you to share each input that you are adding to the system. But this is for later.) --Gryllida (talk) 05:53, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
I have not studied the details of their proposal form. I felt a need to discuss it here first, and I'm very glad I did. I hope to have your help in developing that. I think it will make the resulting talk -- and the other work we've discussed -- more useful. I can't postpone starting on that too much longer, though.

Side questions

  • Why does "ow the people whose Wikinews submissions do not get published might be engaged in some kind of activity that would keep many of them in the Wikimedia system and learning more about the issues that concern them" have to start with "the people whose Wikinews submissions do not get published" (emphasis added)? What about people whose submissions to Wikipedia do not get published?
I have a total of 5,178 total edits since 2010-04-18 according to https://xtools.wmflabs.org/ec/en.wikiversity.org/DavidMCEddy. These have been in Wikipedia, Wikiversity, Wikinews, Wikiquote, Wikimedia Commons, Wikidata, etc., mostly in English but also in Spanish, French and German -- plus correcting a syntax error in the Ladino Wikipedia ;-)
Very few of my edits have been reverted, and I could understand the logic behind most of the reversions.
I've had a much harder time with Wikinews, in part because Wikinews does not accept footnotes. I've subscribed since 1992 to Le Monde diplomatique in part because it's the only newspaper format publication I know that cites its sources. It would be easier for people like me to write for Wikinews if we could put our fact checking in footnotes that would not be displayed by default but could be displayed by clicking a switch someplace. At the annual conference of Investigative Reporters and Editors (ire.org) in Orlando, FL, this past June 14-17, someone said you should fact check every word. It would be easier for me to document my claims if I could put them in line with <ref>...</ref>. The notes could appear when I "Show preview" but disappear upon "Save changes" unless I explicitly click a button that says something like "Show notes". DavidMCEddy (talk) 09:11, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
  • Perhaps this talk may be dedicated to a call for helping this publishing system become more successful instead? Gryllida (talk) 05:53, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
Yes, but I'm not sure what you mean by that. DavidMCEddy (talk) 09:11, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
  • What do Wikiblogs and Wikianalytica have to do with this? Wikimedia movement is about advancing freedom of knowledge. These tools that you are mentioning do not appear to be related. However anything that you wish to put in a blog may already be added to Wikibooks or Wikiversity, inclusion criteria for which is relatively broad. --Gryllida (talk) 05:53, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
I think we could facilitate understanding between extreme groups with a system that would more aggressively work to pair people with a crazy rant with someone who would try to move them toward a center rather than drive them away into their own for-profit social media echo chamber. DavidMCEddy (talk) 09:11, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
  • Does KKFI publish at Wikinews? Why? Why not? --Gryllida (talk) 05:53, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
KKFI has news and public affairs shows. However, I don't know of anyone with KKFI who writes material that would meet the criteria for Wikinews articles. I wrote a Wikinews article about a presentation in Kansas City last December 1 by David Barsamian. It was rejected by User:Pi zero, I think because I had been one of the organizers for that event. A month or two later, someone with Wikinews found that the Barsamian was speaking elsewhere and suggested the article could be rewritten to talk about the his speaking tour, which started December 1 in Kansas City. However, I was too busy with other things to bother with that, and no one else took the time to do anything with it.
Writing for Wikinews is a great education in journalism, but the timing rarely works for me. I tried to write a Wikinews article on the 2013 National Conference for Media Reform, but I misunderstood a comment from User:Pi zero and waited for a reply that I had overlooked until the article was stale. I thought about writing something about Wikimania 2018 in Cape Town, but I was too busy to seriously consider doing that. DavidMCEddy (talk) 09:11, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
  • Do the "profs at the Universities of Missouri and Kansas", or their students, publish at Wikinews? Why? Or why not? --Gryllida (talk) 05:53, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
What about User:Pi zero's comment below: "Professional journalists as reviewers are not something we want because they would import the worst failings of the msm while lacking the local culture that is the source of our strengths and makes possible our fusion of wikis with journalism. In my experience, most professional journalists make terrible Wikinewsies because of the things they think they know that aren't so". Does this provide a partial answer to your question?
I agree with your suggestions that it would be good to get students at universities writing for Wikinews as part of their training. I'd like to see more journalism professors and their teaching assistants as reviewers with their students writing articles. If this happened, Wikinews could grow from one article per day to thousands of local editions -- and people the world over could find the news of most interest to them using the localization software you are proposing to write. However, the comment I just quoted from User:Pi zero doesn't sound to me very inviting for journalism professors and their students. DavidMCEddy (talk) 09:11, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
  • Do you really pose 'nuclear war III' as a real threat? Is the propaganda not a cheaper and more powerful tool, which has, in my opinion, already rendered classic military obsoleted, left in the background by inertia, only as much as is needed to continue the games played by previous military entities? I mean there may be more than one opinion on this, but handling the problem of massively produced bias in mainstream media, alone, seems like a sufficient motivation for investigative journalist movement, without mentioning a third world war or its equivalent. Gryllida (talk) 05:53, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
I'm for whatever will sell the ideas.
If you think people are more likely to dismiss my presentation if I mention a possible World War III, then I should not mention it.
However, I'm convinced that the threat of nuclear annihilation is a far bigger concern than global warming. Check the Wikiversity articles cited in en4j.org/1 and tell me what you think I'm missing or misinterpreting. DavidMCEddy (talk) 09:11, 3 August 2018 (UTC)

WikiTribune?

Also, what do you think of WikiTribune? I don't know, but I believe Jimmy Wales would have preferred to see Wikinews grow into millions of local editions but was frustrated by its slow rate of growth. I think he has a good idea in trying to use professional editors with volunteers. However, its status as a for-profit company turns me off, and I'm concerned that it may have a similar impact on others.

This suggests to me that we might try recruit reviewers who are a cross between professional editors and experts in conflict resolution and group therapy. Maybe encourage groups like the American Friends Service Committee and the Denver Conflict Resolution Institute to pay people to serve as Wikinews reviewers. Wikinews submissions that could not reasonably qualify as journalism might be referred to some Wikiblog or Wikisocial initiative that could help build bridges to escape the Balkanization that is required to make money for commercial media including Facebook.

As I've said before, I believe that the Wikimedia Foundation is ideally placed to counter the Balkanization and exploitation of the body politic to benefit elites. And the articles rejected by Wikinews represent opportunities to help different parties in conflict better understand their opposition and thereby find ways to reduce rather than amplify conflict.

Comments? DavidMCEddy (talk) 18:51, 2 August 2018 (UTC)

My thoughts: Jimmy hates Wikinews and has no clue about news. Professional journalists as reviewers are not something we want because they would import the worst failings of the msm while lacking the local culture that is the source of our strengths and makes possible our fusion of wikis with journalism. In my experience, most professional journalists make terrible Wikinewsies because of the things they think they know that aren't so — just as most dyed-in-the-wool Wikipedians make terrible Wikinewsies for the same reason.

As I've said before, I see the really crucial struggle atm to be a war for the soul of human civilization between the fact-based mindset, where one's core instinct is to try to build the best foundation of objective fact one can and build one's opinions on top of that, versus the opinion-based mindset where one starts by choosing what one will believe and then find or invent "facts" on top of that foundation of opinion. The Wikipedian community has lots of people who are at least partly fact-based, but in net effect it fails to come down hard on the fact-based side; Wikinews is thoroughly fact-based. --Pi zero (talk) 22:50, 2 August 2018 (UTC)

What can we do differently to help Wikinews grow to better respond to the crying need for more fact-based information that would attract a much wider audience? DavidMCEddy (talk) 03:40, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
One change for this is discussed in the 'Banner' section below. I hope this may gradually increase the rates of publication of news happening now, including breaking news, thus resulting in more visitors and thus resulting in more content and programming contributors. Gryllida (talk) 05:55, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
  • It may be possible to recruit people from area-based "wiki projects" at Wikipedia. They know the local area, which may put them into the best position to gradually get involved into original reporting in their area. If you are keen on this, join a WikiProject and meet several people. Find who of them appears to have fact-based thinking, is ready to large volumes of reading, looks sensible and approachable, and may be ready to write news. Work with them for some time, and then invite them to help you with a same topic story at Wikinews.
  • Another venue may be writing about events which are happening now -- breaking news -- and identifying those, plus writing about them in great detail, would need to be at the core of the experiment. This needs two leaps: identify the event and write about it. It is my hypothesis that (a) the same person identifying the event and writing about it is a waste of time; (b) identifying can be done based on social media, semi-assisted; (c) people who identify events and put them somewhere may find it a pleasant activity, settle in and start writing articles eventually; and (d) writing a story needs to be done by one person initially, and doing that in real time collaboration is a waste of effort.
  • There already is the WN:Requested articles page, which is easy to use. I am not sure why it is not used by everyone to fill it with many pages of stuff that people saw on TV or read at a random news site. In my opinion this would greatly improve things, as people capable of identifying news correctly (fresh and relevant) would receive the pleasure of seeing someone write the story, and later begin to participate.
  • Some merit is in asking a school or a university to provide their students with practice at Wikinews as a part of their homework. University of Wollongong does this.
  • All of the above is about increasing the amount of sensible authors and visitors; from them, reviewers may be selected.
  • Reviewing, as well as authoring, is technically challenging. User:Gryllida/Tasks is a start of my attempt at fixing this, and WN:Dialog is Pi zero's software whose output is more reliant on wiki markup, so that it is easier for people to develop wizards in wiki markup. Your contribution to either of these things, or any other technical improvement, would be greatly welcomed. Similarly would be your pointers to technically minded or outreach minded people who would be willing to help with any of the points raised above (or any points that come to your mind that may seem useful). --Gryllida (talk) 23:51, 2 August 2018 (UTC)
I'm happy to collaborate on a proposal for a presentation at Wikiconference North America in Columbus, OH, October 18-21. I plan to attend. If we get more than one person with a connection to Wikinews, we may be able to attract an audience for a session -- or part of a session -- devoted to, e.g., "Growing Wikinews".
Last month I attended Wikimania 2018 in Cape Town. Someone there ask, "Is Wikinews still alive?" I said, "Yes, but they have yet to figure out how to make it grow to meet the need." DavidMCEddy (talk) 03:40, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
This is discussed above. Don't know about others, but personally I do not expect to be able to travel (I am in Australia at present). I may be able to afford it, but doubt in the benefits that this would add. Perhaps only if the other attendees are really keen on making all this work here. Gryllida (talk) 05:53, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
I concur: I don't see us making enough progress by October 18-21 to justify you making that trip. However, if we can make progress on this, I think we could have something to discuss at meta:Wikimania 2019 in Stockholm in July or August of next year. DavidMCEddy (talk)
@DavidMCEddy: I feel you are likely mistaking something in your perception of Wikinews. In your thinking about what is needed, it seems as if (and, keep in mind, I'm struggling for how to put this) you're underestimating the existing infrastructure and overemphasizing warm bodies and volume of output.
  • Obviously we do want more people; but not just for the sake of having more warm bodies. I think someone here (quite possibly our erstwhile resident curmudgeon brianmc) may have remarked at some point —abrasively, but not without a valid point— that Wikinews is not a social club. Our goal is, and must be, to apply sapient minds from the general internet population (that's the "open wiki" aspect of the project) to the task of news production; the existing infrastructure is extraordinarily well tuned to that purpose, and it's absurdly easy to underestimate that existing infrastructure. Throwing more bodies at the problem is the Wikipedian solution, and it absolutely does not work for news production, where large numbers on any given article can only hamper its transformation into news output.
  • Volume is not an end in itself. Producing quality news output from an open wiki is a extraordinarily difficult thing and it's nothing short of miraculous that Wikinews can do it; that's why Wikinews lives on while other "citizen journalism" efforts have come and gone, and volume is desirable only when it doesn't interfere with that.
  • Those of us thoroughly immersed in the Wikinews infrastructure do have an understanding of what's needed to make things work better, and the problem isn't simply "drumming up more people", it requires careful tweaks to the infrastructure —which, again, is working extremely well already, though there are particular aspects of its function that need streamlining— in order to bring more people to bear without causing the whole system to overheat and melt down.
  • I'm getting from you a sense of urgency to grow things right away. I don't exactly disagree, but, as I say, we need to make the machinery run more smoothly if we're to bring a lot more people to bear on it without causing overheating and meltdown.
--Pi zero (talk) 14:36, 3 August 2018 (UTC)

Suggestion for a new platform model

I think what you are doing is impressive and sorely needed, but I wonder if a different platform model might work better. Perhaps a Wikimedia News Browser, or possibly a progressive web app, where all articles can be read on their own native site, and the news agency can still monetize, but each article is tagged on a blockchain to uniquely identify it, and then admins for the browser/app can rate the article based on any number of conditions including 'fakeness'. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 103.61.198.57 (talkcontribs)

We're not here to advertise commercial news sites. --Pi zero (talk) 01:34, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
Hello 103.61.198.57. :-) Wikinews publishes bias-free content pertaining to fresh events (starting with 5Ws in the first paragraph) under a free licence (see footer). External sites usually don't do that. A feed from them, even if rated, would be uninteresting. Perhaps Wikinews can not promote such a feed. However if some materials at an external web site are fresh and relevant, they may be added to WN:Requested articles. Do you have a suggestion how to facilitate the addition of relevant materials from these external web sites here? Gryllida (talk) 01:45, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
A platform similar to 'Web of Trust' may be made, to rate individual articles for fakeness instead of rating websites for malware threats. I wouldn't mind helping to develop or train it, if contact details of a willing co-author become available. However I would have concerns with such a system being subjective. Not really sure how to address that..? Gryllida (talk) 05:57, 3 August 2018 (UTC)
The problem of who to trust is basic to journalism. There are two broad strategies: majority vote, and editorial vetting.
  • Any system fundamentally based on majority vote is subject to majoritarian bias. Basically, whatever the popular prejudices of the day are, the system will echo them. Wikipedia has this problem.
  • Any system based on editors with special status is, one one hand, capable of resisting majoritarian bias, and on the other hand, can go horribly wrong if the editors themselves are biased. More in a moment on how based to go about this strategy, but first a bit about why news has to use editorial vetting.
Fact-based news cannot be done by the majoritarian route, for two reasons.
  • Fact-based worldview depends crucially on an upstream filter against bias. The majoritarian-bias vulnerability cannot be tolerated on the upstream filter (consequences likely to be disasterous), and that's where news is.
  • Majority vote is inherently slow, whereas an upstream filter has to act with dispatch. (Clarification: Wikipedia has a ludicrously slow filter, even for those things its filter is even capable of catching, which is the point of the exercise; unfiltered material isn't news.)
When you get right down to it, nothing else can come close to the filtering effectiveness of a sapient mind functioning in top form. A group of people voting can't do nearly as well. An algorithm, by itself, can't hold a candle to it.

Some years ago I recall watching a panel discussion, put together by one or another US university, on the future of journalism, the panelists chosen to be young rising stars in journalism. They all said pretty much the same thing (though I seem to recall one of them seemed more articulate about it): there's staggeringly vast information flow coming at us constantly, and the problem is to rapidly mesh incoming information with the earned reputation of the journalist. When you get right down to it, that's editorial vetting. Upstream filtering by a sapient mind.

Two key factors in editorial vetting are choice of editors and community culture. They are not separate. Corrupt editors can create a corrupt culture (although the fact-based-journalism culture is itself strong enough, as an ideal, that it can sometimes infect even a severely compromised news org). The right culture —though it can't work miracles, such as turning black-hat editors into white-hat editors— can nurture conformance to policy from editors with a really broad range of ideologies, creating greater stability/robustness of the news org itself. Policy that combats bias of all kinds is by nature a powerful tool in gathering editors who promote fact-based journalism, and the process snowballs. Wikinews culture, in particular, is geared toward nurturing a community of fact-based sapient minds for journalism; the community sifts its own membership on the outer periphery and its authorized reviewers on the inner side of things. The whole is, tbh, quite wonderful to contemplate in its entirety. --Pi zero (talk) 13:50, 3 August 2018 (UTC)

Developing a process for a regular news broadcast

What kind of process would you suggest for a group trying to start a regular news service?

I ask, because I'm working on such a project in conjunction with other supporters of KKFI, which is a listener-sponsored radio station in Kansas City in the middle of the US, straddling the border between Missouri and Kansas. KKFI is an affiliate of the Pacifica network of roughly 200 listener-supported radio stations. We've been broadcasting at 100 KW for 30 years, with 24/7 programming for much of that period. We have a paid staff of 2.5 and local programming produced by a couple hundred volunteers. The paid staff are a chief operator, a "development director / event coordinator and fund raiser", and a volunteer coordinator.

We plan eventually to raise money to pay a professional editor / journalist to take the lead in producing our news broadcasts, presumably with the help of volunteers. However, we want to try to do something with volunteers, then raise money to expand.

My initial thought is to create a wiki listing potential sources of local news. This would include a "tip line", a list of existing local newspapers and broadcasts with material posted on their web sites, plus local political jurisdictions with links to published minutes of their official meetings plus links to other major sources of local news that might be scanned on a regular basis to generate news stories. Another section could have national data bases that could be mined for local angles on national stories. Another section might make it easy for people to find local civil society groups. This is similar to my previous suggestion (see v:Everyone's favorite news site) of something that would translate longitude and latitude into lists of relevant sources of local news, except that this would be for a geographical area rather than a specific point -- and the lists would help journalist with a regular scan for stories that could interest their audience.

Might it make sense to try to create something like that within Wikinews? I think I could do it in Wikiversity. If I understand how new Wikimedia Foundation projects tend to be developed, this could then lead to something posted on Meta-Wiki and from there to the Incubator, etc.

Suggestions? Thanks, DavidMCEddy (talk) 21:30, 8 August 2018 (UTC)

@DavidMCEddy: It seems to me what you're describing would be worth trying to support through Wikinews. That's my thought on first exposure to the idea. Although there are some things I have objected to hosting at Wikinews, in the past, because I felt they would undermine our news publications, our activities are not inherently limited to those publications. I'll think some more on the matter.

It also seems to me Amgine (ping) might have some useful thoughts on this (notwithstanding Amgine and I have in the past had some spectacular disagreements on suitable directions for Wikinews expansion; I'm hoping, optimistically no doubt, that in this case we can all play nicely together. :-). --Pi zero (talk) 23:25, 8 August 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: How do you suggest I start? By creating something like "Kansas City news sources and process for KKFI" under Wikinews? Then invite my collaborators at KKFI to contribute?
We can do this. ¡Sí, se puede! DavidMCEddy (talk) 03:12, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
Well, as I say, I need to think about this. --Pi zero (talk) 03:37, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
Authorship issues: I'm not sure of the legal implications here. Aren't articles published here attributed to 'Wikinews', leaving little to no room for publishing them in the name of, say, KKFI? Not arguing against the idea, only that I am not sure of the implementation. Gryllida (talk) 11:51, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
@Gryllida: I'm proposing to publish the process here, but our news would more likely go elsewhere, esp. kkfi.org but possibly elsewhere as well. In any event, we need to use the same "CC BY-SA 4.0 International" license, so there shouldn't be a problem if we cross post some of it in both places? DavidMCEddy (talk) 19:03, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
Why'd you publish elsewhere? Surely if your news is freely licensed and bias-free and written well it can be published here? Perhaps both? ('Both' may perhaps partly solve authorship issues, but possibly not entirely, as attribution to one source would need to be given in another.) Gryllida (talk)
I can meet a deadline if I publish elsewhere. I may not be able to meet a deadline if I try to publish here. DavidMCEddy (talk) 22:43, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
@DavidMCEddy: Am I reading you correctly, that what you're envisioning is trying to meet an external-to-Wikinews deadline (such as, oh, let's say, the time of a scheduled radio program), and then injecting into the process publication on Wikinews as something to try to get in before the scheduled program? (I can think of a variety of comments I might make... but I want to be sure we're talking about the same things.) --Pi zero (talk) 23:58, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand you. I am one of maybe a few dozen people who regularly produce news and public affairs material that is broadcasted on 90.1 FM in Kansas City and subsequently offered via podcasting on kkfi.org. This is roughly 10% of KKFI's 24/7 schedule -- or 2.4 hours per day. However, our current local news and public affairs programming is NOT curated based on any systematic scanning of sources that might represent in any way the most important things our audience would want to hear about. I am working to change that. Most importantly, I want a regular list of potential news sources that our team would scan and discuss in regular editorial review meetings to select the stories to report along with deciding who would research, write, edit, record, and assemble whatever we broadcast -- with a narrative also published on something like kkfi.org/news and perhaps elsewhere. Some of that might be offered to Wikinews, depending on how much time KKFI's news team (initially at least all volunteer) might have to invest in that. However, I won't allow the Wikinews review process to prevent us meeting a deadline -- and I also don't want to overwhelm Wikinews reviewers with more material than they feel comfortable processing.
There should be a place in the Wikimedia system, preferably in Wikinews, that would invite people to document the specific process the KKFI News Team would follow to produce our regular broadcasts. I'm happy to involve Wikinews reviewers in any way that makes sense.
We plan to apply to join the Institute for Nonprofit News as soon as we are eligible, which I think would mean shortly after our first broadcast. (I attended their overlapping conference with Investigative Reporters and Editors in Orlando, FL, in June. They helped me develop the broad outline of what we need to do to make this happen.) DavidMCEddy (talk) 02:19, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
Wikinews could possibly not advertise or promote you in any manner. The best outcome from my view would be KKFI adding submissions to Wikinews and making them published. Perhaps you want to try that with a few of your publications and see whether it works out well? Otherwise what point would be in working together? Gryllida (talk) 11:35, 10 August 2018 (UTC)

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My number one concern at the moment is finding a sensible place to develop regular procedures for producing KKFI News. Wikinews seems like an ideal place for something like this, because its mission is news, and anyone should be allowed to contribute ideas moderated by standard Wikimedia Foundation rules. I would NOT suggest that this be featured on the en.wikinews landing page: It would not interest that general audience. With luck, this could grow to become a prototype for founding other local news departments with a loose affiliation to Wikinews, all bona fide nonprofits with reasonable journalistic standards for fact checking, documenting their sources, fairness, and editorial independence. We don't want Wikinews to support the creation of a news department for the American Nazi Party, to name only one extreme example. This can be accomplished, I think, by developing rules similar to those used by the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN); see my responses below to your questions about that. I'd like to encourage the KKFI News Team to occasionally try to publish its most general interest reports on Wikinews, but I would not want to encumber Wikinews with everything we produce, both because it could overwhelm the capacity of your current reviewers, and because KKFI News will have deadlines, which we might not be able to meet if we had to wait for approval by Wikinews reviewers before we broadcast something. DavidMCEddy (talk) 16:22, 10 August 2018 (UTC)

Published articles usually go to the main page into the 'published news' column to the right. They also go to the large area at the left with larger headlines and pictures. For local articles this step may be skipped, or only one large image out of five may be dedicated to your local area, or a better place may be designed. It is my belief that the need to update the design of the main page to suit regular local news reports should not in any way interfere with your group publishing at Wikinews. Gryllida (talk) 01:27, 13 August 2018 (UTC)
It is also my view that your group needs to start publishing here regularly (while the news is still fresh) to have one or several persons responsible for providing the materials and completing the write up based on the reviewers' feedback and the current policies at Wikinews. If such stories can be written by you, I can see the benefit of working together; volunteers from the public may get involved in news production, and you could then also take their output and publish it --with attribution-- at your web site. That may lead to an increase in citizen journalism, which is one of the missions here. Gryllida (talk) 01:27, 13 August 2018 (UTC)
As far as KKFI's off-Wikinews publications go, they would possibly (in my opinion, at least) have no place at Wikinews. Only its on-wiki publications would be of interest, I believe. Gryllida (talk) 01:27, 13 August 2018 (UTC)
What are the eligibility criteria for joining Institute for Nonprofit News and what are the benefits? Gryllida (talk) 11:35, 10 August 2018 (UTC)

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INN's "Membership Standards" are available by going to inn.org > "For Members" > "Membership Standards". In brief, the organization must be a bona fide nonprofit in the US [a 501(c)(3) organization] regularly publishing high quality original reporting for a general audience that is investigative or public service by nature, that maintains editorial independence (e.g., independent of partisan or religious affiliations) and lobbies only for free press issues. KKFI and its affiliate Friends of Community Media (FCM) will have to make some changes to our policies that are relatively minor, I think, to qualify for INN membership. These include publishing an editorial independence policy and the names of all donors who give us over US$5,000 in a given year. After KKFI has a regular news program based on reasonable procedures, we plan to file for INN membership. INN membership has several advantages. Most obviously, in the recent past INN has had an annual "News Match" program that would match up to US$1,000 per individual and up to US$28,000 total. That should cover roughly half of one full time journalist or editor. It's therefore not much compared to what we'd ultimately like to have, but it should be a great help in helping us grow from an all volunteer effort into something more substantial. INN membership has other benefits like guidance on good policies to have, low cost access to legal help, advertising our existence on their web site, and their annual "INN Days" conference I attended a couple of months go; the latter was instrumental in helping move the project to produce "KKFI News" from a desire to a project with a first broadcast scheduled for August 18. DavidMCEddy (talk) 16:22, 10 August 2018 (UTC)

Scope: Would the published output be local to a particular area or international? Gryllida (talk) 11:51, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
Primarily local: w:KKFI is a radio station in Kansas City, as I mentioned above. Our mission is to serve the underserved. Our audience is primarily interested in national and international affairs to the extend that it impacts them, and we need to make that case.
We are starting as volunteers with the hopes of fund raising to create a real investigative journalism organization focused on Kansas and Missouri. We're not going to compete with existing organizations like ProPublica, to name only one. We might, however, compete with w:KCUR, National Public Radio in Kansas City, which has a paid staff of ~25 journalists (I've been told; I haven't checked it): They have corporate sponsorship that we don't, and others tell me they are not as hard hitting as my confidants felt they should be, because of their funding model. We might occasionally research a local angle of a national story, e.g., Google fined for wage theft from employees in Missouri or a Kansas City railroad company being cited 340 times since 2000 of violations of some federal regulation.
This is also related to the discussion above on "Wikiconference North America - Columbus, OH": I still want to file a proposal to talk there (deadline: August 15). I'd like to talk about this and my Wikiversity article on v:Media and corruption, because that fits with this -- but somehow turn it into a workshop on how we can get more people involved in creating local news departments, not necessarily for Wikinews but with a news process published in the Wikimedia system and with occasional articles that don't have tight deadlines published on Wikinews. DavidMCEddy (talk) 15:20, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
Developing Wikinews platform and tools to suit local reporting could be great, as this is something other Wikimedia projects does not do, and it may help with organising local working groups. What technical features would a site need for local reporting to be easy? Gryllida (talk) 21:46, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
Let's create a prototype and discuss. DavidMCEddy (talk) 22:43, 9 August 2018 (UTC)
@DavidMCEddy: A worst-case (or, pretty bad case) scenario I can envision is that something is created, gets legs, and turns out to be detrimental to Wikinews while it has value elsewhere, so that keeping it is bad for Wikinews while getting rid of it is harmful to other projects that Wikinews would like to at-the-very-least coexist peacefully with, if not partner productively with. So it seems to me a bit of further thinking on this could be desirable. I'd try to cobble together some further thoughts right now, but hope to review first the article Gryllida has submitted; conceivably I'll be able to do some cobbling here after that review. --Pi zero (talk) 00:08, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
OK. I'll be in a KKFI-organized conference from Friday night through Saturday. Our initial goal will be to produce 5 minutes of local news to broadcast Friday at ~5 PM. Our first editorial review meeting will be next Tuesday at 1:15 PM Central. Before then, I would like to have a page that people could edit, preferably on Wikinews, to create a first draft of the process we will follow to produce a systematic scan of sources we think would be of greatest interest and utility to our audience. Noon tomorrow, I will print a flier inviting people to join this news team. DavidMCEddy (talk) 02:19, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
And how often do you have such editorial meetings? What is their purpose? Gryllida (talk) 02:27, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
Our initial plan is half-hour phone meetings Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:15 - 1:45 PM, supplemented with emails and probably extensive use of Google Docs. Thursday afternoons, one member of our team will assemble the broadcast to air Friday at 5 PM. As our news team grows, we will meet more often and apply for more broadcast time, possibly with different sub-teams responsible for the material broadcasted on different days -- but still scanning the same news sources. With that, we also plan to initiate a major fund raising campaign, so we can hire professional editors to manage the volunteers, etc. DavidMCEddy (talk) 03:09, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
It could be a good idea to have a prototype that integrates into wiki well, or is otherwise easy to discover from the wiki. This could possibly help people move from reading a local story to the space where local stories are being identified and written. (Just a thought - external tools hosted by wikimedia forge somewhat frequently face such problem.) Gryllida (talk) 02:23, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
Sure. And if it's on Wikinews, it could serve as a prototype for other groups that want to create their own local news service, possibly but not necessarily in conjunction with a listener-sponsored / community radio station. That provides a key connection with what you and I have discussed earlier about a wiki that could translate longitude and latitude (or a geographical area rather than a point) into a list of political jurisdictions relevant to that area AND a list of local news sources relevant to that area -- AND a list of local civil society organizations actively serving an area including that point or that service area. DavidMCEddy (talk) 03:09, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
I reeally want to comment on this; hopefully when I'm done with this review... --Pi zero (talk) 17:12, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
@DavidMCEddy: Sorry I didn't get back to this sooner.

Seems to me several basic site principles need to be keep carefully in mind, and we need to work out how things relate to them. One important principle, of course, is, no advertising. That's closely related to neutrality; because it's ultimately a neutrality concern, no advertising is not even limited to commercial advertising. Another important principle to keep in mind, though, is WN:NOT, especially the clause Wikinews is not a free wiki host or webspace provider. In my experience, this is a standard item on the "this project is not" list of each wikimedian sister. Pages on the project should be there to promote the function of the project. Which brings up another basic site principle, namely, the purpose of the project. We're here to do participatory journalism, and this point needs to be parsed carefully. There is no earthly reason we can't be friendly toward other journalistic efforts; we've got nothing necessarily against even for-profit journalism, though we certainly aren't here to promote other news sites, commercial or otherwise (and though we're not friendly toward propaganda, disinformation, or anti-journalism generally). However, if we're to host something on Wikinews, it ought to first and foremost promote Wikinews news production. If it's not going to do that, if its long-term path is not focused primarily on Wikinews news production, that's a problem.

Btw, the page you created? I can undelete that temporarily; perhaps it can find a semi-permanent home, perhaps even a permanent one, in another namespace (project space, maybe?), but it clearly doesn't belong in mainspace. --Pi zero (talk) 01:59, 13 August 2018 (UTC)
Publishing local news here may provide a positive feedback loop: more people come to read news here, and some of them get started with reporting their local news as well. This makes more news, and even more readers. This is, as mentioned, a loop.
Would the public not benefit from encouraging such citizen journalism (or participatory journalism) in the Kansas area? All that would be needed is someone (such as KKFI) starting to publish here regularly with the aim of attracting those readers who have a passion for facts. Wikinews provides a platform where reviewers may occur, and where new contributors may receive training and guidance. Also, Wikinews publications may be reused, as they're released with a free licence (see footer); this means anyone may remix them and add them to local newspapers, provided the attribution and licence terms are attached to the story. Gryllida (talk) 02:21, 13 August 2018 (UTC)
Local news is within our scope; that's visible in our newsworthiness criteria. It goes through the same review process, to the same standards, as the rest of our output. Including being written for an international audience; so an international audience can understand the story, including why it is significant, and as with any story the international reader can then decide how much of each story they, personally, are interested to read. --Pi zero (talk) 02:37, 13 August 2018 (UTC)
On what do you base the news that you publish? On texts published by others ('synthesis' article) or on data obtained first hand ('original reporting')? Gryllida (talk) 02:27, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
How do you identify what to write about -- what is current? I have no idea how this happens at news organisations. How many people work on this task? What is its flow? Maybe this could be interesting to explore as at Wikinews often an event is found and written by the same person while finding it is a lot easier and could be spread out to multiple contributors to save the writers' time. Gryllida (talk) 02:28, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
I envision a "tip line" (for KKFI it will be "news@kkfi.org", at least initially) plus a list of news sources. The "tip line" can identify for us newsworthy events AND potential scandals. A newsworthy event would be relatively easy to cover -- record a fair amount of material, then select the most interesting 55 seconds, etc. Potential scandals would be passed to people to investigate and document meticulously what they find. Some of those tip need to be dropped after some investigation -- preferably after a few minutes rather than a few weeks. Others could turn into major services to humanity, like the contribution of amaBhungane to forcing the resignation of the President of South Africa this past February. Democracy dies in the dark -- and grows with better news.
The news sources would include other local news outlets and political jurisdictions of special interest to KKFI's audience, especially the area's most underperforming school districts: I plan to work with local chapters of the League of Women Voters, who have "Observer corps" to help recruit volunteers to attend such meetings and write what they see. I also hope to interest professors of economics and political science at, e.g., the University of Missouri-Kansas City to tell us what they think the most important issues they think we should look for. I'll have more to say about this after we actually start doing it. However, I think it's important to have a great platform like a page on Wikinews where the details could be discussed of what potential news sources to scan, etc.
KKFI exists "to provide a channel for individuals and groups, issues and music that have been overlooked, suppressed or under-represented by other media." We will provide only very limited coverage of sports, if any at all -- unless it's high school or other amateur athletics, and not even that at least initially. At the IRE conference in June, I got a list of national data bases (which I can't find right now) of violations of federal regulations by major corporations. Those things are underreported even by the Public Broadcasting System in the US. I plan to mine those data bases for local angles on national stories and make that a staple of KKFI news -- both what we broadcast and what we publish on our web site. We have to be meticulous about fact checking, when we do that, for obvious reasons: Poor people are routinely libeled and slandered with impunity, but you can't denigrate people with power without solid evidence. DavidMCEddy (talk) 03:09, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
Wikinews's 'tip line' is WN:Requested articles, right? However in all years of Wikinews existence it received very little attention from anyone. How can it be improved? Gryllida (talk) 11:38, 10 August 2018 (UTC)

┌─────────────────────────────────┘
How can I find it on en.wikinews.org? I found "Request an interview", but that seems different. DavidMCEddy (talk) 16:22, 10 August 2018 (UTC)

It is linked from he WN:Newsroom which is linked at the sidebar. There's a related discussion here but it is remarkably ignored (for now) for some reason. Gryllida (talk) 20:45, 10 August 2018 (UTC)
I mean re "a wiki listing potential sources of local news" it can be WN:Requested articles and re "a list of existing local newspapers and broadcasts with material posted on their web sites, plus local political jurisdictions with links to published minutes of their official meetings plus links to other major sources of local news that might be scanned on a regular basis to generate news stories" this can be any page in an appropriate namespace, a few people could work on it and if it works well then it can be tried by other groups of volunteer reporters. Gryllida (talk) 11:32, 13 August 2018 (UTC)

Consistent with User:Pi zero's comments above, I posted v:Kansas City Nonprofit News to Wikiversity. I've also submitted a proposal to lead a Workshop on countering the Balkanization of the body politic at WikiConference North America, October 18-21, in Columbus, OH. As I've said before, I believe the Wikimedia Foundation is ideally placed to counter the Balkanization and exploitation of the body politic that currently threatens the future of humanity. If you'd like to collaborate with organizing and presenting this workshop, please let me know -- or just show up and offer your thoughts in Columbus. Thanks, DavidMCEddy (talk) 23:27, 15 August 2018 (UTC)

Retaining contributors with compatible projects

If I understand correctly data I've scraped from meta:Wikinews, the English language Wikinews has recently been getting roughly 50 submissions per day and publishing one of those. The 49 that are not published represent an enormous opportunity to combat the Balkanization and exploitation of the body politic required by any media organization whose funding does not depend almost exclusively on its audience. According to reports by Born and Edgington (2017), Deb et al. (2017), and Vaidhyanathan (2018) cited in v:Everyone's favorite news site, this exploitation is growing and threatens democracy and world peace. Vaidhyanathan claimed that Mr. Trump won the 2016 US Presidential election primarily because he paid more attention than his opponents to the consultants that Facebook embedded in their campaigns.

I'm hoping to generate a discussion about these and related issues at a workshop I've proposed for WikiConference North America, October 18-21, in Columbus, OH.

My current thoughts, for simplicity, divides into two groups the roughly 49 submissions that Wikinews gets each day and then deals with these two groups differently:

Group Action
Rants with no journalistic value Refer to meta:WikiSocial, where they would be matched with others with different perspectives under coaching by specialists in conflict management, e.g., associated with organizations like the Center for Conflict Engagement at the University of Denver. The alternative is to dismiss the ranters into their own echo chambers, and that is more likely to amplify than diffuse conflict.
Submissions by people who might at some point become reasonable volunteer journalists. What can be done to understand better why these articles do not get published? Some of authors misunderstand what they need to do to meet Wikinews publication criteria. Others run out of time to revise the article to meet Wikinews standards. Others are rejected, because the authors are so close to the subject that no amount of documentation and no changes in wording are sufficient to convince the reviewers that the article should be published. There may be other reasons. What can be done to identify these cases before the authors leave in frustration? Can we recruit more reviewers and / or send emails to the authors to ask about their understanding of what is needed and their plans for completing or abandoning the article? Can we, for example, create "back pages" for articles that are written from a neutral point of view with adequate justification, but the prose may not adequately conform to the Inverted pyramid (journalism) style nor be sufficiently clear, concise and compelling? Can we refer some of these people to nonprofit media organizations like the v:Kansas City nonprofit news that use volunteers and that may collaborate with Wikinews on some things? (I'm a lead organizer with v:Kansas City nonprofit news. I might like to collaborate with Wikinews on stories that Wikinews might want to publish, but I will not miss a publication or broadcast deadline, because we can't get approval from Wikinews reviewers fast enough.)

As I've said elsewhere, I think the Wikimedia system is ideally placed to counter the Balkanization and exploitation of the international body politic that seems to be posing an increasing threat to democracy and world peace. However, we will not get there without doing something different.

What do you think?

Thanks, DavidMCEddy (talk) 17:58, 16 August 2018 (UTC)

Fifty submissions per day? Wtf? That is spectacularly unrelated to reality; some of the silliest nonsense I've ever heard. --Pi zero (talk) 18:39, 16 August 2018 (UTC)
Hello DavidMCEddy. I concur with what Pi zero said. Also this classification may be oversimplified. Here are notes on possible implementation. --Gryllida (talk) 19:51, 16 August 2018 (UTC)
Thanks for the notes on possible implementation. DavidMCEddy (talk) 22:00, 16 August 2018 (UTC)

@Pi zero: @Gryllida: I did NOT make up the numbers on 50 submissions per day and publishing one. Consider the following:

d.days published submitted d.pub d.submit d.pub / d.days d.submit / d.days source
2004-11-07 0 0 w
2005-03-13 126 1000 1000 7.94 w
2006-04-29 412 5000 4000 9.71 w
2007-09-05 494 10000 5000 10.12 w
2017-04-28 3523 21146 2746331 11146 2746331 3.16 602.93 meta
2017-06-09 42 21202 2748711 56 2380 1.33 56.67 meta
2017-08-01 53 21236 2751452 34 2741 0.64 51.72 meta
2017-10-08 68 21288 2754952 52 3500 0.76 51.47 meta
2018-08-16 312 21516 2773726 228 18774 0.73 60.17 meta

Source:

"w" = w:Wikinews, accessed 2018-08-16.

"meta" = meta:Wikinews, access on the indicated date.

Where is meta:Wikinews getting its numbers? If it's wrong, can it be fixed?

What about the other numbers? Is it accurate to say that from launch through 2007 Wikinews averaged roughly 10 articles per day, and in 2017 it was averaging over 1 a day, and now it can't do that? If so, might it be time to do something different?

And where can we get comparable page view data?

And, more importantly, how can we best organize a constructive discussion of how Wikinews and the Wikimedia Foundation more generally might more effectively respond to the challenges to democracy and world peace that many people perceive in the rise of the xenophobic right in the US, Europe, India, the Philippines, and elsewhere?

Thanks, DavidMCEddy (talk) 22:00, 16 August 2018 (UTC)

@DavidMCEddy: You're making several mistakes here that I can see right off. (I don't understand that table, but I don't have to, to see these mistakes; they're more basic than the table.)
  • You say you "did NOT make up the numbers on 50 submissions per day and publishing one"; but nobody here accused you of making up the numbers, and I doubt such a possibility even occurred to anyone here. It certainly hadn't occurred to me. However, 50 submissions per day is spectacularly unreal. If I had to guess, I'd say you've misinterpreted some automatically generated statistics. (Perhaps you're familiar with the saying about three kinds of lies — lies, damned lies, and statistics?) Interpreting statistics is extremely hazardous, requiring deep understanding of the subject of study so that one can recognize when an interpretation is obviously wrong. Those of us here with experience of the project have noticed that 50-submissions-per-day is obviously wrong, and when we point that out to you, you ought to be saying something along the lines of 'Gosh, I don't understand why that number would be wrong; perhaps we can figure out why by examining where the number comes from; here is how I got it.'
  • You have been spamming others on the project with a message that accuses me, and Gryllida, of refusing to believe your claim because we don't want to hear something bad about the project. This assertion on your part combines failure to understand that your claim isn't correct; failure to take our expertise about the project seriously; and a deeply implausible assumption that we are unable to view facts objectively — Wikinews is all about viewing facts objectively, and we're veteran Wikinewsies. It seems that, in order to believe we're both flagrantly failing to assess facts objectively, you'd have to be missing the point of Wikinews. I suspect, in fact, that you are missing the point of Wikinews. You've got this "balkanization of the body politic" bit in your teeth, and are missing that Wikinews is going after something even more basic, something that's prior to politics altogether.
--Pi zero (talk) 02:33, 17 August 2018 (UTC)
I'm sorry if I've offended you. You do important work here.
meta:Wikinews includes a table with columns labeled "Good" and "Total". I sampled those numbers on different dates and constructed this table from those numbers and from earlier numbers I found in w:Wikinews. I don't know what those numbers mean, except that it seems that Wikinews is NOT on an exponential growth trajectory in both contributions and readership, as I think it could be and should be.
I've submitted a proposal for a workshop on this at WikiConference North America, October 18-21, as someone at Wikimania 2018 in Cape Town suggested I do. If you think this could be an opportunity to do something different and better with Wikinews, then do whatever you think reasonable to increase the chances that this workshop appears on the agenda and help me figure out how to modify the current proposal to make it maximally useful. DavidMCEddy (talk) 03:19, 17 August 2018 (UTC)
Wikinews gets between 3 and 10 article submissions per day, several of which on any given day are outright vandalism, encyclopedic content (they mistake Wikinews for Wikipedia), or patent nonsense (test pages filled with random characters). Real submissions are usually less than 3 per day. (Your stats may be including javascript bot type edits to the main page as part of regular daily maintenance procedures. These rack up quite a few changes each day.) The reason for this is very simple: writing quality, well researched re-written multi-source articles is tough (ie, taking 4 different biased news reports, pulling the bare facts out of them, and writing a coherent, factually accurate, neutral tone article). Doing original research (which Wikinews allows and encourages) is a couple orders of magnitude harder and more time intensive. Engaging in either of these activities burns out contributors far more quickly than doing simple copyediting on a wiki such as en.wikipedia. We've had some fantastic contributors over the years, but they eventually just move on.
This burnout couples with the fact that in order to maintain journalistic standards, Wikinews has volunteer "editors" (in the newspaper sense, not the wiki sense of the word). We call them "reviewers". These people are responsible for copyediting articles, factchecking them, checking for copyright violations, etc. And - unlike on Wikipedia where errors can persist for years - all of this has to be done in a timely fashion. News is by definition "new". It has to be published quickly or it's no longer relevant. This is also difficult work, and burns most people out quickly.
In the end, Wikinews has few articles because it has few contributors. It has few contributors because writing real time news to even basic journalist standards (rather than encyclopedic ones) is just... hard. Hard and time consuming. We could back off the standards to make things easier for contributors in hopes of getting more of them, but then we're relaxing quality assurance just as the MSM has, which seems to be your major complaint. — Gopher65talk 04:02, 17 August 2018 (UTC)
I'm hoping it can all be made significantly easier, without lowering standards, by means of the right sort of semi-automation. I have in mind what sort that is (essay). It's not something that can be done instantly, although it's much further along than it was went I started on it, at least six years ago. The very fact that it has such a long lead time is one reason it could not be done in a for-profit organization. --Pi zero (talk) 05:02, 17 August 2018 (UTC)
Hello Gopher65. In my opinion there are a few paths to growth which are indeed based on making it 'easy', but not by lowering the standards, instead by improving the authoring and reviewing tools (User:Gryllida/Tasks and WN:Dialog are related to this), by encouraging people to copyedit and review others' submissions so that a moderately well written story is not further delayed because of a necessary edit which a reviewer can not make, and by encouraging people to 'request articles' as discussed here. --Gryllida (talk) 05:43, 17 August 2018 (UTC)

┌─────────────────────────────────┘
Am I hearing correctly the following:

  1. None of you so far see any value in workshop like what I've proposed for WikiConference North America, October 18-21 -- or at least not enough value to justify investing any time in such an activity?
  2. The data in the above table are all wrong and not worth looking at. Do you have other data that you consider better? May I see it?

Regarding the MSM, my primary complaint with them has nothing to do with the quality of their prose or how well they utilized the w:Inverted pyramid (journalism). It is that they must of necessity flinch when considering news that might offend a major advertiser or anyone else with substantive control over their funding. For example, in the run up to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, I heard lots on the news about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and not one word that Iraq had gotten that technology from the US and its allies in the 1980s with the blessing of the Reagan administration, as documented in the 1994 w:Riegle Report from the w:United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. This is not an isolated incident: It's a feature of the current system. Apply these same filters to every substantive issue facing humanity today: The MSM cannot afford to provide the most important information we need to be responsible citizens, because, as Les Moonves said about then-candidate Trump, "the money's rolling in, and this is fun." (quoted with a citation in v:Everyone's favorite news site)

And it's rapidly getting worse, if the reports by Born and Edgington (2017), Deb et al. (2017) and Vaidhyanathan (2018) cited in v:Everyone's favorite news site are fair and balanced.

Wikimedia Foundation projects are nonprofits driven by volunteers and donations. It turns the elite-driven logic of the MSM everywhere on its head. And that's why I submitted a proposal to discuss this at WikiConference North America in October. DavidMCEddy (talk) 06:12, 17 August 2018 (UTC)

Difficult to relate how the conference submission would help Wikinews grow. There's enough of Twitter data as is. Left you a note on your talk page. Not sure what to do with the figures you provided, this is still an open question. --Gryllida 09:06, 17 August 2018 (UTC)
General Statistics
If you're a statistics person, perhaps take this task?
What else would you like to quantify? --Gryllida 09:51, 17 August 2018 (UTC)
What do you think might be the most interesting and useful?
I have a PhD in statistics, and I routinely use R (programming language). However, I'm not super facile with APIs that I haven't worked with before. After looking at page view statistics occasionally since 2010, I finally in Cape Town managed to ask someone how to view the entire history on an article and not just the most recent 90 days. DavidMCEddy (talk) 15:05, 17 August 2018 (UTC)
@DavidMCEddy: In order to make things better, you have to understand the root of the problem.
  • You used the phrase "fair and balanced". The "balance" approach to news neutrality has been thoroughly discredited. For one thing, that particular phrase was used for years by F*X News while it was manifestly not trying to be either fair or balanced; but, moreover, the "balance" approach was earnestly attempted by BBC and went down in flames (and that's not even getting into the wiki side of the "wiki-news" equation, where "balance" has systemic problems on Wikipedia plus the inherent non-operability of Wikipedia's strategy on the short timeframes inherent to news).
Agreed. Poor choice of words on my part. I'm dealing with that currently with the article on w:Kris Kobach: To his supporters and to people who have never heard of him, the article looks like an extremely biased attack on him. However, it seems to be a reasonable summary of the credible sources. DavidMCEddy (talk) 15:05, 17 August 2018 (UTC)
  • The great challenge of journalism is not to disseminate unvetted information —a.k.a. unverified claims— of which there is a deluge already available, but to reliably assemble neutral, accurate information and make it readily available to a global audience —yes, the audience has to be global, even when the information is local— in a way that encourages that global audience to think about the issues involved in its neutrality and accuracy. Meeting all the aspects of that challenge, all at once, is quite difficult, it's the mission of Wikinews, and it permeates pretty much every aspect of Wikinews infrastructure, social as well as technical.
  • You say that your primary complaint with the mainstream media isn't with the quality of their prose nor their compliance with an inverted pyramid (btw, you can and in this case probably should be linking locally for that — Wikinews:Inverted pyramid); the way you put that seems to imply that you see Wikinews as being inordinately concerned with those things. However, our interest in those things relates directly to our basic mission, neutral accurate reporting. Consider: in order to understand any news event in a clear and objective fashion, the reader needs to get all the relevant facts, and as a simple, easily applied model for that we use an inverted pyramid. The basic checklist of essential information for journalism is the five Ws, and the inverted pyramid puts the information in a useful order (rule of thumb: if the reader reads a prefix of the article and then stops at some point, what they've read is, broadly speaking, more important than what they haven't read). The principles of attribution, if by any chance you were thinking of that, are key to achieving news neutrality (not merely "quality of prose"). It goes on, with specifics of writing style making their contributions to clarity, acuracy, neutrality.
--Pi zero (talk) 13:35, 17 August 2018 (UTC)
Thanks. Are you familiar with Le Monde Diplomatique? It's the only newspaper format publication I know that routinely cites sources.
Have you considered getting a modification of the Mediawiki software that could optionally display or hide footnotes? The default might be to display the notes during editing but suppress them after publication, with a button someplace so that option could be turned on and off at will. That could make it easier for people who also write for Wikipedia to provide clear attribution in writing for Wikinews. One of the presenters at the annual conference of Investigative Reporters and Editors in Orlando, Florida (USA), this past June (which I attended) said you should fact check every word. That can be pretty clumsy to document whether with footnotes or with <!--...--> [or whatever the style is, I forget]. However, I find footnotes an attractive way to document fact checking, and I think that's true for an increasing number of people. DavidMCEddy (talk) 15:05, 17 August 2018 (UTC)
Two thoughts.
  • I've heard something footnote-like was once coded here, some time before I came to the project, to document (I think) which information came from which source(s), and nobody used it. The trouble, I gather, was that writing needs to be made simpler, easier, and that made it more complicated instead.
  • Looking at Wikipedia which uses footnotes, I see that the footnotes actually discourage the writer from explicitly specifying, in the prose of the article itself, where information comes from, and that results in an article that ultimately does harm to the reader by encouraging them to just believe what they're told rather than actively thinking about where the information comes from. Consider these three versions of a passage:
  1. The fire started in a third-floor apartment.
  2. The fire started in a third-floor apartment.[5]
  3. Fire officials said the fire started in a third-floor apartment.
Of these, (1) fails to inform the reader about where the information comes from; and in practice (2) also fails to do so, in fact it's even worse than (1) because the reader who sees such a sentence in a news article probably ought to feel that the article isn't doing its job because it fails to give them a basis for assessing how far to believe the claim, but when they see that footnote it tends to placate the reader, telling them, don't worry about how far to trust this information, somebody else looked into it. That harms the reader by discouraging them from thinking about the world in an actively fact-based way. Whereas (3) is very in-your-face about informing the reader of just where the information came from; it challenges the reader to think about what the origin of the information tells them about its likelihood of veracity.
--Pi zero (talk) 15:45, 17 August 2018 (UTC)
I understand your preference for "3", but I prefer "2": From long training and experience, I instinctively know to question the claim that, "The fire started in a third-floor apartment", but I understand that many people are not that sophisticated -- and I sometimes fail to ask, "How do I know that?" I prefer "2", because if I want to dig deeper on the subject, it's rarely feasible to identify which fire officials made the indicated comment. To pick another example, I sometimes see plots with a note saying something like, "Source: BLS". I can translate BLS = US Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, finding the specific source within BLS is still exceedingly difficult and often practically impossible. Within the past year, I've found two different BLS sources that gave rather different figures for the numbers of accountants and auditors in the US today. Those sources are currently cited in note 25 in my v:Nuclear weapons and effective defense: One of those BLS sources says that accountants are 0.9 percent of the US workforce. The other says that "accounting and auditing" were 1.4 percent of the workforce in 2000. (That discussion should be in a different article, not buried in a footnote, but that's a matter of finding time to write that other article.)
I prefer:
4. Fire officials said the fire started in a third-floor apartment[5]
Thanks, DavidMCEddy (talk) 16:42, 17 August 2018 (UTC)
That's more complicated to write and more visually cluttered, plus has the disadvantage of invoking the unfortunate "footnote" culture of information providing which, as I noted, does great harm in the world. If we're looking for an option better than (3), we'll have go go beyond (4) to find it. --Pi zero (talk) 17:11, 17 August 2018 (UTC)

Boring articles on boring meetings?

You may know that the City of Bell scandal involved a city manager, who made himself the most highly paid public employee in the US, as far as anyone knew, with a total compensation package roughly double that of the president of the US. Of course, he had the help of the assistant city manager and most of the city council, who also had given themselves similarly outsized compensation packages. Bell, California, is a town of roughly 35,000 souls in Los Angeles County. Around 1999 the local newspaper died, and the city manager apparently decided, "Wow! The watchdog is dead! Let's have a party!" Just over a decade later, after many complaints, the Los Angeles times assigned reporters to investigate and found something worth telling the world about.

That entire scandal could have been avoided if some local individual or group had observed and written notes regularly on the city council meetings, the city budget, etc. It's not likely that any of those stories would have interested an international audience, and the readership for such articles would likely have been quite low.

I mention that, because many local chapters of the League of Women Voters in the US have "observer corps", which are teams of people, who attend local events, especially public meetings of governmental bodies, and report on what they see. I wrote a few such reports for the League of Women Voters of Johnson County, Kansas. What I wrote was typically cut to a sentence or two and combined with what others wrote about other events.

I ask, because I recently moved 14 km (8 miles) from Kansas to Missouri, and I've already discussed "observer corps" with one of the co-presidents of the League of Women Voters of Kansas City. She acknowledged that the Johnson County League was "ahead of" the Kansas City group in this area.

What role, if any, might Wikinews want to play with reports like this?

Thanks, DavidMCEddy (talk) 19:40, 17 August 2018 (UTC)

Why not? --Gryllida 22:33, 17 August 2018 (UTC)
Not forgetting that OR requires a reporter who has learned Wikinews writing and earned a good reputation with us. --Pi zero (talk) 23:00, 17 August 2018 (UTC)

{{flag}} At the top of the site in the banner we have a recommendation that people write stories. Instead of this they could request them - a task that takes less than two minutes, and may be accompanied with an optional invitation to create an account. It is a hypothesis that people leaving such requests would invite more participation, potentially help to identify breaking news, and those of the people who add relevant stuff (newsworthy) would be rewarded with the pleasure of seeing their story published. Then they may sign up and gradually increase participation.

It is thus proposed to implement one of these two changes:

1) to change (or randomize, with this added line) the banner text to

"Know of something happening today? Request an article about it now."
In this case the "Wikinews:Requested_articles" page would need to be modified to include a large green button, for instance
When entering a news article, please format it properly so it is more accessible to other users. We recommend you use this button:

2) to change (or randomize, with this added line) the banner text to include the direct link

"Know of something happening today? Request an article about it now."
Then people would be able to view the list of requests after they have saved their request.

It would be my personal preference to follow the second change.

I would perhaps also suggest to add the 'request an article' link to the sidebar after the 'write an article' link before the 'water cooler'.

I understand that all of this may result in people writing more articles, and the review load may be increased. However if these articles are left in the requested articles page, they're relatively easy to clean up (if abandoned), and someone more experienced may actually choose to write a full story and follow it through to publication.

This may also help to identify news happening today, which people care about.

And like mentioned above, people more successful at requests may become sensible authors and later reviewers.

This is only (I think so, anyway) a burden-free (?) method to reduce the learning curve.

What do you think?

--Gryllida (talk) 00:36, 3 August 2018 (UTC)

TLDR: Let's edit MediaWiki:Sitenotice & MediaWiki:Anonnotice and ensure they both contain this line:

Know of something happening today? Request an article about it now.

--Gryllida (talk) 01:46, 17 August 2018 (UTC)

@Gryllida: That seems to me like a pretty reasonable addition to the randomized list. (I don't think I even knew about MediaWiki:Anonnotice.) --Pi zero (talk) 05:41, 21 August 2018 (UTC)
@Pi zero: You just forgot, I think. The second most recent edit on MediaWiki:Anonnotice is:
03:22, 21 December 2013‎ Pi zero (talk | contribs)‎ . . (383 bytes) (+19)‎ .
Or were you hacked ;-) DavidMCEddy (talk) 06:02, 21 August 2018 (UTC)
  • Added this line to both pages.
'id' pages may also need to be modified, but I don't know which or how.
--Gryllida (chat) 23:47, 21 August 2018 (UTC)
Looks okay to me. (I honestly do not know whether MediaWiki:Sitenotice id affects dipslay of mediaWiki:Anonnotice.) --Pi zero (talk)
Do we need to modify MediaWiki:Sitenotice id now, since I just changed the content of the site notice? Gryllida (chat) 00:10, 22 August 2018 (UTC)
I don't think there's much point, really. Taking myself as typical, I usually dismiss the sitenotice fairly promptly when it appears, and then won't see it again until either (a) something causes me to clear my wikimedia cookies or (b) somebody updates the id page; but if somebody does update the id page, there's a five-in-six chance that I won't see anything new, and then I'll dismiss it again. An anonymous user would have better odds of seeing something new, but still only one-in-two. --Pi zero (talk) 00:17, 22 August 2018 (UTC)
Oh, I did not realize that updating the id makes the notice to re-appear for people who already dismissed it. Then there is maybe no point indeed. Thanks for the clarification Pi zero. Gryllida (chat) 00:29, 22 August 2018 (UTC)

Wikinews stats

User:Gryllida suggested two things above:

  • Looking at General Statistics: When I followed that link and restricted the data to "Wikinews - English", I got 1.01 million total page views from 156 thousand devices in June. That translates into 6.5 views per device. How many people do you think access Wikinews from more than one device in an average month? If the average number of devices used to access Wikinews per person is moderately close to 1, then Wikinews had close to 156 thousand unique readers in June. That page also reported 5.55K edits on 1.81K edited pages in June. How many articles did Wikinews publish in June? 30? If so, then edits were made on 60 articles for each one published. I suspect you will tell me that the 1.81K edited pages number is about as credible as the 60 submissions per day that I computed for the period between 2017-10-08 and 2018-08-16.
  • User:Gryllida also wrote, "If you're a statistics person, perhaps take this task?" I know nothing about the internal structure of the Mediawiki database.

I'm scheduled to attend WikiConference North America, Oct. 18-21, and I could try to find people in an associated hackathon who could help me get started on understanding the data that gave me 60 new article submitted per day and 60 that were edited for each one published. If you know how I might try to make contact before I go, it could accelerate the process. If not, I should at least be able to make some progress on this while there. DavidMCEddy (talk) 07:05, 25 August 2018 (UTC)

@DavidMCEddy: Some thoughts:
  • You seem kind of stuck on statistics. I honestly don't see the point. Wikinews is currently operating at a much less active level than it did historically, and I'm pretty sure everyone here knows that, but statistics are a dangerous thing, easily misunderstood, and in the case of a small project such as Wikinews statistics are almost certain to be misunderstood by anyone but an insider. Statistics tend to be appealed to when a system is too big to grok in any other way, and then too they're likely to be misapplied; they're just not the best way available to approach something small.
  • Perhaps I can see now, from the way you put your statistic this time, where the confusion is coming from. You had said "50 submissions" per day before, and even given the table I didn't see where that was coming from. This time you said "60", and I think I see, with that hint, where you're getting it in the table. Okay, here's my guess. The confusion comes from your use of the word "submission". On Wikinews, we tend to use that term for something narrower than just creating a page. Spam or vandalism is not a submission; a page created with intent to report news might be a submission, or one might use the term more precisely for articles that are placed on the review queue. Just in the past couple of weeks (since our most active contributor of modern times hasn't been submitting), we've had almost 100% spam, a large part of it obviously spambots. That seems almost certain to be the source of your "60" statistic, and our reaction to it.
  • Regarding long-term trends in activity on Wikinews, I'll write up my understanding of that in a separate comment; I want to submit this comment now rather than wait to finish that. Iirc, I did write up my understanding of the long-term trends, as a response to something you'd said here recently, but it took me at least an hour or two to compose, and by the time I'd finished doing so, additional remarks had taken the discussion in a different direction so that my remarks on long-term trends no longer seemed relevant, and I gave up on posting them. So it's quite possible that I haven't explained that stuff to you, at least not at all recently.
--Pi zero (talk) 12:56, 25 August 2018 (UTC)
Okay, here's a bit of my understanding of the long-term view of Wikinews.
  • Wikinews started out with a bunch of really dedicated folks, who collectively brought to bear quite a bit of journalistic and wiki wisdom and created a profound fusion of the two worlds, journalism and wikis; and we today are the beneficiaries of that excellent inception of the project.
  • Wikinews has been shrinking pretty much since it was set up; but it has been shrinking slowly, and that in itself is highly significant. Other "citizen journalism" projects have come and gone while Wikinews has continued. There's no mystery in Wikinews shrinking; a couple of major causes leap to mind — the difficulty of news production, and concerted lack of support from the Foundation. Indeed, re the Foundations as a cause, all the wikimedia projects, even Wikipedia, have shrunk a lot starting at about the time the Foundation got into full swing. But the persistence of Wikinews is highly significant. This is a complex issue, and my next several bullet points will relate to it.
  • Those who don't like our review discipline may want to blame the shrinkage on it, but, as I recall, the downward-sloping activity curve of the project shows only a very small additional downward blip at the point where the current review regime was imposed. Moreover, as a matter of common sense (as opposed to statistics), one of the major events in our history was the project "fork", and that non-wikimedian project, which explicitly relaxed review standards, apparently failed because it relaxed review standards. This relates to one of the most profound lessons I've learned since I've been here: volunteer projects, such as wikis, are driven by idealism. Our ideals here, which are rooted largely in old-fashioned journalism —belief in the importance of accuracy, objectivity, etc.— are a crucial part of why we have persisted while other citizen journalism projects have come and gone. (Indeed, Wikipedia too is driven by idealism, and the flak we've taken from segments of the Wikipedian community may be partly due to perceived clash of ideals.)
  • Imagine the dynamic equation of Wikinews —I've actually tried to write this out, though I've never had time to put together a proper essay— which describes how the size of the project tends to change over time, based on various parameters to do with numbers of people, various aspects of volunteer labor availability and expense of different tasks required for news production, and such. Even before working out the equation in detail, the fact that the downward trend has been slow means the parameters aren't very far off; if the parameters were horribly out of whack, the project would not still be here. I reckon tweaking those parameters could change the sign of the derivative; that is, it could cause the project to grow. Yes, some labor has to be poured in to keep the project going while we create the means to tweak the parameters, and while we then apply what we've created; but I've been doing that, such as I can, because I believe in the ideals of the project — and the idealistic appeal of the project is implicit in the parameter values of the dynamic equation.
  • The key to tweaking the parameters, as I see it (and as I must have mentioned before), is semi-automated assistance to streamline the various on-wiki tasks, including (though not limited to) both writing and reviewing. It's essential to follow the semi-automated route, where the essential human component is carefully preserved and nurtured, because that human component is part of both the quality, the robustness, and the ideals of the project.
--Pi zero (talk) 14:09, 25 August 2018 (UTC)
Thanks. I remember earlier discussions about this. If my workshop proposal for WikiConference North America, Oct. 18-21 is accepted, it might be smart to try to get data to support what you've said about the rate of decline in Wikinews contributions v. edits in Wikipedia: That could help make the point that Wikinews is suffering from the same problems as Wikipedia and maybe other Wikimedia Foundation projects. It could help get more resources from the Foundation to help understand and fix the problems with Wikinews, because doing so could help fix major problems with Wikipedia, etc.
Gryllida's "this task", being Task 33, is to "track decline and deletion reasons". If we can do a good job of that, it can help focus efforts to "tweak the parameters".
The 156 thousand devices that reportedly accessed Wikinews in June, to the extent that we believe those numbers, suggests that Wikinews is doing a lot of things well.
Beyond that, I'm a statistician. I spent a good portion of my professional career teaching and consulting in how to do fairly simple things like this, following the famous 1980 NBC White Paper, "If Japan Can... Why Can't We?" I have a friend who still flys all over the world helping senior executives select important topics and organize teams inside their organizations to study their procedures involved in the selected topics, review the data already available, often develop new and more informative data collection, and use that to focus on the things that the data say are most important.
When people don't do that, they often focus on the wrong thing. Their tweaks may cut a minor problem in half while increasing a much bigger problem to the point that their efforts made things worse. If they're not looking at the data, they may not even know that. They just have this feeling that "this problem is really hard." But problems like these often become easier when people think more carefully about what data to collect, what it means, fixing data quality problems and then modifying their procedures to simultaneously make it easier to get high quality goods or services with less effort.
Gryllida has already recorded some thoughts on how to "track decline and deletion reasons". Let's do that. I have substantial experience that suggests that such an effort is likely to be quite valuable. DavidMCEddy (talk) 15:22, 25 August 2018 (UTC)
@DavidMCEddy:
  • We know what's needed, well enough to be getting on with. The problem isn't amenable to a statistics-based group-think strategy; that strategy practically never works, unless some individual happens to come up with a highly insightful idea and manages to sell it to the rest of the group, and the 'highly insightful' part isn't going to happen without someone thoroughly immersed in Wikinews. The folks deeply immersed in Wikinews are on the project and have been focused on the problem for years. We're already applying a different strategy, which involves carefully custom-fashioning and applying insights; which takes a long time and a lot of patience.
  • We don't want the Foundation trying to "fix" Wikinews, because they do not have news competence to interfere without doing damage, quite possibly fatal damage. I don't wish to speak ill of any specific individual past (nor present) top-level personnel of the Foundation, but, suffice to say, the Foundation collectively does not and never has understood news. Btw, I for one don't think it would be a productive use of time and effort to try to gather statistics to support the thesis that the Foundation's interference has discouraged volunteer participation; the Foundation has spent its entire organizational lifetime accumulating rationalizations for ignoring what it doesn't want to hear, and statistics would not get any traction on that case, while meanwhile one would have lost all that volunteer labor that could instead have been spent in some useful way. That's my reading of the situation, anyway.
  • I point out again, in case the message didn't come through, that on your workshop proposal there, when you talk about the 98% of submissions for Wikinews, that's fiction. The 98% you're talking about is mostly a mix of spam and vandalism. As I may have mentioned, the first comment I ever made at the Wikinews water cooler, about eight and a half years ago, was about editor retention; but the 98% you're talking about isn't who any of us are looking to retain.
--Pi zero (talk) 18:33, 25 August 2018 (UTC)
The shrinking of all Wikimedia projects may be attributed to time, perhaps? A small wiki lacks the manpower to make the requires tools, and a large wiki while still not having enough tools also may not have enough man power to give attention to newcomers. Where can a balance between this be found? Does any wiki exhibit successful growth? How is it achieved? --Gryllida (chat) 00:26, 26 August 2018 (UTC)
The Foundation has its own excuse for the problem, iirc something to do with a general class of volunteer projects that ostensibly exhibit expansion up to a point and then shrinkage thereafter — which, supposing the pattern does occur, begs the question of why. However, note there is another pattern involved: the classic Wikipedia-activity graph shows activity peaking around 2007 or so and then declining thereafter, and around 2007 is when the Foundation finished assembling itself and kicked its activities into high gear. For example: From the perspective of the volunteers, Wikipedia and its sisters are inherently decentralized projects, driven by the ideal of "power to the People". If you tell people the projects are being "run" by a centralized authority, you're undermining the idealism that fuels volunteerism. So when the Foundation goes out and tries to "cheerlead" for the projects, it can in the short term draw attention and therefore stir additional activity, but in the long run it's undermining the appeal of the projects to decentral idealism. --Pi zero (talk) 12:53, 26 August 2018 (UTC)

┌─────────────────────────────────┘
Great question -- and one that could be answered by statistical analysis, given the data, e.g., by analyzing General Statistics data. I could potentially extract data from that source manually, but there surely must be an easier way. I will ask at a hackathon at WikiConference North America, Oct. 18-21 if an answer doesn't appear before then. DavidMCEddy (talk) 03:15, 26 August 2018 (UTC)

At Wikimania 2018 Cape Town I heard assertions that most of the Wikimedia system's currently active volunteers are comfortable with the Mediawiki markup language, but the younger generation is not. On that belief the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) has invested a lot of money over the past few years in a WYSIWYG interface. If I understand correctly, the results have not matched expectations. Consequently the WMF has invested an enormous effort in planning exercises, both online and at conferences. They've gotten a lot of their most active volunteers involved, but I don't know if they've done focus groups and other work with people who use, e.g., Wikipedia, but do not necessarily participate as editors. I should perhaps ask that question also at WikiConference N. Am. in Columbus, OH. DavidMCEddy (talk) 03:47, 26 August 2018 (UTC)

Re your first sentence, sooo unspecific. Need to formulate a goal before starting stats analysis. So far you sound like "life cycle analysis? sure i'll ask at hackathon. wiki growth? sure i'll ask at hackathon". I'd suggest to create a wiki page with a list of open questions which could be asked at the hackathon and people could be encouraged to code them while taking into account how gadgets and dialog tools etc work, however there is already this "98% of submissions [those which are spam and vandalism as I lated found out] need to be moved to wikisocial" entry posted to the conference, which is nowhere near an ad that could successfully attract the right kind of (technically minded and bias-free news minded) audience. I am afraid this damage may be fatal and may nullify any of my interest in what happens at the hackathon, unless the submission may be modified prior to the day when the hackathon programme is published. Gryllida (chat) 11:53, 26 August 2018 (UTC)
Some thoughts.
  • I agree with Gryllida that the 98% gaff completely sets the whole undertaking off on the wrong foot.
  • I'd go further in criticizing the statistical approach. Statistics is not a good brainstorming tool. Statistics can occasionally point out that there is a problem in situations where one didn't realize that there was one, which clearly doesn't apply here since everyone knows there's a problem (like I said, we were talking about it on Wikinews more than eight years ago). Statistics can sometimes, with great care taken, provide insight into the relative distribution of factors in a problem. But statistics are no substitute for insight, and statistics don't work when you've got a one-off situation. Wikinews, and to some extent Wikipedia, is breaking new ground, moving into unknown territory. Moreover, in this situation the insights are big-picture things, not fine details to be picked up by some in-depth statistical analysis.
--Pi zero (talk) 12:31, 26 August 2018 (UTC)
Oh, and another point I'd thought of, lost track of while writing about other things, and finally recaptured:
  • The Foundation claims that the young folks find wiki markup difficult, but that's... well, I could use quite a rude word for it, but the point is, the Foundation has, in practice, systematically created that situation over many years. From bits and pieces I've picked up over the years, there were folks within the Foundation pushing anti-wiki-markup sentiment —in favor of getting rid of wiki markup by migrating to other formats (requiring more expertise that, of course, the centralized Foundation would be more able to handle than the decentralized community of volunteers)— even several years before the Foundation kicked into high gear. And this is a pattern of behavior I've seen in a variety of different contexts (I suspect it happens at the US Federal Government level, too): a central authority takes a dislike to some existing facility, and wants to replace it with something else. The central authority is in a perfect position to stonewall any attempts to improve the existing facility, and over time the existing facility starts to look shabbier and shabbier because the central authority is, in effect, deliberately making it look shabby. And the central authority can then say, we must intervene to save the day by replacing this facility with something "better". The something else will, predictably, be distinctly inferior to what the pre-existing facility could have become if it had been intelligently improved over the years, and usually —and in the case of the Foundation and wiki markup— the replacement will be something that favors a centralized authority rather than a decentralized community. In this particular case, WYSIWYG is ideal for preventing decentralization, because it requires massive ongoing centralized expertise while at the same time systematically preventing users from learning anything about the underlying representation (which, in this case, the Foundation has wanted to destroy for over a decade anyway). And of course the Foundation has also been telling people that they are supposed to think wiki markup is hard to use.
--Pi zero (talk) 13:42, 26 August 2018 (UTC)