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

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Poor communication

Browsing through articles recently, there is a startling number of articles tossed due to the freshness criteria. Knowing full well that all of us are contributing out of our own time, it beseeches on how to streamline the process. So I have a few thoughts on how to communicate better during the review process.

  1. If a reviewer rejects the article on any grounds dictated by Wikinews's policies, they should make themselves available to answer any direct questions regarding the specific article and respective review for the next 24 hours.
  2. If an editor, disagrees with a reviewer's stance then an appeal could be requested and documented.
  3. Any non-article related statements with the goal of disparaging remarks and/or intentionally driving collaborative discussion unproductively would be could constitute a 'troll' status for that article.
  4. A new category for publishing articles that are larger and more comprehensive would by released only on Sunday's, more like a news magazine.

I believe that these are options easily implemented as Wikinews is trying to gain social critical mass. With the reviewer pool currently, it is asking a lot but laying the framework is worth doing. AZOperator (talk) 17:15, 16 June 2018 (UTC)

(1) seems to be a matter of trying to be helpful. Reviewers generally put huge effort into trying to be helpful.

Reviewers are chosen to be highly experienced; basically, experts (anyone who isn't shouldn't be a reviewer); and don't throw their weight around for the hell of it. One thing that's pretty sure to sink any news article is for newbies to try to argue with the review, as if it were just some miscellaneous user's opinion and this were Wikipedia where vicious squabbling is routine and tends to succeed as a strategy; our policies and practices are streamlined to avoid controversies entirely, because it's a total nonstarter on a news deadline. Newbies who seek to learn, and expect to keep learning indefinitely (nobody here should ever stop learning), may hope to become veteran experts themselves; newbies whose basic impulse is to argue with reviews not only sink their own articles, they generally don't succeed at Wikinews (this is an attitude shared by all the most spectacular failures on Wikinewsies I can recall).

AZOperator, if I might opine a moment, I've generally been heartened by your positive attitude. It seems to me there are some basics of news writing that we need to find ways to help you get the hang of, and (sadly) a distraction from that discussion has been another user who was systematically fouling our attempts to help newcomers (one of the major activities we sink time into); hopefully, removing that distraction from the mix will allow us to spend attention more efficiently.

You seem to have gotten diverted by the idea that the primary difficulty with your articles has been that they were too large for the reviewers to deal with. I do not believe this to be so. You're trying to write big articles without having mastered basic principles that would get in the way of smaller articles too; and the fact that the articles are big is causing secondary problems that make learning much less efficient. It's not that long articles aren't more challenging for reviewers, but the most effective mitigation for that is a reporter who's really good at Wikinews writing, which is hard to get to if you're only writing long articles that tend to bog down the learning process.

We've also had some users around lately trying to push a higher level of collaborative writing than Wikinews usually supports. My attitude has, until now, been rather indulgent — perhaps warning them that long Wikinews experience has demonstrated that seriously collaborative writing does not work well here, but then just letting them try and find out for themselves that it doesn't work. But I'm thinking that may have been a mistake on my part. Because it's occurring to me now that intensively collaborative news writing may severely degrade a reviewer's ability to give feedback to individual writers, which is essential to the health of the Wikinews project: it's how newcomers progress toward becoming experts, the way we can develop new generations of reviewers.

I was rather shocked when (a few years ago) I first looked up "meritocracy" on English Wikipedia and found an article heavily biased toward preaching the evils of elitism. There is a more positive sense of the word, which Brian McNeil used to use here, in which Wikinews is a meritocracy; our solution to the problem that expert tasks require a high priesthood is to do all we can to help everyone who comes here to learn how to become a high priest. --Pi zero (talk) 18:30, 16 June 2018 (UTC)

At the vary least, self policing is a something that is really lacking here. Even a list of usernames of potential trolls could be put together and I could put into the code that a 'troll designator' follows all additions, collaborations or articles, follows the user until they can prove non-troll actions through an appeal. AZOperator (talk) 02:27, 18 June 2018 (UTC)
@AZOperator: Keep in mind that Wikinews has very different social dynamics than Wikipedia. People here are individuals in a way that doesn't really have any Wikipedia analog. Brian McNeil used to tell people, "You're not in Kansas anymore." Brianmc was himself something of a case in point: a curmudgeon, is the way we often used to put it. Where Wikipedia elevates "Assume Good Faith" to the status of sacred writ, we explicitly reject it; we make quite a point of being uncensored; and while we seek to avoid squabbles and Wikipedia-style debates we value the right to dispense with time-consuming pleasantries and be blunt. It does require that we have confidence in each other's devotion to the project mission, which we achieve through accumulated reputation (see Wikinews:Never assume). There's some deep philosophy behind that:
Wikipedia needs people to instantly work together with others they might never have met before and might never meet again, using AGF to try to make that happen, and deprioritizing technical considerations which can be left to take care of themselves over arbitrarily long periods of debate/squabble; and part of the result is that, by superficially-trusting, Wikipedia ultimately trusts no-one. On Wikinews, though, we treat social relations as something for the long run, whereas technical interaction has to work in the short run; and we need to apply keen judgement to the question of trusting people, just as we do to (other) sources, where there is no such thing as perfect, uninformed trust, but much of the time we're able to pull back to things that sources say that we can have high confidence are true (even when there are other things being said by the same source at the same time that we either mistrust or simply treat as opinion rather than fact). When I first came to Wikinews, and watched prominent interactions on the water cooler, I quickly realized that this place was the advanced course in social interaction, whereas everybody on Wikipedia was permanently stuck with "training wheels" (I used those once when learning to ride a bike; ghastly restrictive, basically kept me from doing anything but going forward and backward). Wikipedia tries to treat everybody the same; Wikinews tries to treat each individual person as an individual so that their individual trust-worthiness character can be judged as closely as sources are judged, and our whole infrastructure is geared for that. It's a profoundly different way to run a wiki, and yes there have been problems and challenges, we continue to work on some aspects, and there are concerns about problems of scale (right now we're a small community where everyone pretty-much knows everyone else).

(I vividly recall once, years ago, when Jimmy Wales came over here — as steeped in Wikipedian culture as it is possible to be, of course, and always out of his element with news — and, with Wikinewsies explaining things to him, when he finally got some inkling of just how much trust we put in the person who reviews an article, his apparently very-authentic reaction was to think we were completely insane. It reminded me of what Wikipedians say about their own project — that it only works in practice; in theory it could never work.)

On the particular notion of possible-troll listing, I'm immediately concerned about the danger of blacklisting. Keeping things running smoothly here can be a complex task and, like all exercise of judgement here, falls very disproportionately on the inner circle of the community (which even Wikipedia is unable to avoid, though in giving elevated powers to admins, to crats, to ArbCom, they're constantly at war with their own egalitarian ideals). It can be tricky to pin down, in a publicly visible way, when genuine trolling goes over the line here on Wikinews, in a context where mere abruptness is not necessarily trolling, and the most seasoned members of the community are supposed to tell newcomers with dispatch what they've done wrong, without beating around the bush (and yes, doing so in the most-positive, hence most-useful, way is an additional challenge of review, which we all have our individual perpetual struggles to improve at). --Pi zero (talk) 13:19, 18 June 2018 (UTC)
(To be clear, when I say "blacklisting", I'm talking about this.) --Pi zero (talk) 14:57, 18 June 2018 (UTC)

Hi AZOperator.

  1. "If a reviewer rejects the article on any grounds dictated by Wikinews's policies, they should make themselves available to answer any direct questions regarding the specific article and respective review for the next 24 hours." is interesting but it would simply be great if another reviewer or peer was able to answer such questions also. This is typically done by people who monitor recent changes or have the article on their watchlist. The closest to streamlining this that I can think of is adding a 'if you need assistance ask at WaterCooler/assistance' note to the review comment at the end via a template, and anyone willing to offer assistance would be glad to watch this respective water cooler subpage.
  2. "If an editor, disagrees with a reviewer's stance then an appeal could be requested and documented. " this too can be done at WaterCooler/assistance but I dislike appeal word and the formality, perhaps a re-review by a different reviewer could be requested (something that would now be rejected saying 'you need to address previous reviewer comments before re submitting')? Is this really a frequent occurrence? I haven't seen many of such cases.
  3. "Any non-article related statements with the goal of disparaging remarks and/or intentionally driving collaborative discussion unproductively would be could constitute a 'troll' status for that article." that would be a 'person x is trolling', this is undesirable and I simply delay responses to such people and when I do respond it is only content-focused while ignoring any personal attacks. if terribly bad and persistent then such people need to be spoken with to see whether they have a difficult life and whether they are agreeable with finding a better support venue than lashing out at people. and of course if everything peaceful fails then a block needs to be added as a last resort.
  4. "A new category for publishing articles that are larger and more comprehensive would by released only on Sunday's, more like a news magazine. " is interesting but not 'wn:fresh and does not solve much of the problems that you see.

Perhaps this helps. Personally I would be interested in further development of the first two points. The assistance to authors is scattered at article talk pages for now where it is really hard to keep track of unless you monitor recent or do something similar. Gryllida (talk) 11:30, 24 July 2018 (UTC)

The word "appeal" worries me, as it suggests a writer treating the reviewer as the enemy. The review process can't work that way; some newcomers do approach the project that way and it's a recipe for failure. Newcomers who succeed use reviewer feedback to learn the principles of the project. The review process only guarantees in general two people on the article, one reporter and one reviewer; it cannot work well unless they're both working for the same goals. There's more than enough for both reporter and reviewer to do in a successful collaboration. (Wikipedia's attitude toward such conflict is generally to embrace it, which clearly cannot work with short deadlines and arguably causes dire social problems even without deadlines.)

Improving communication would need a fundamentally different approach, one that guides newcomers into learning rather than combat. Conflict-based strategy/tactics are a trap, to be avoided. --Pi zero (talk) 12:18, 24 July 2018 (UTC)

  • Yes, I'd consider adding 'for assistance please leave a message here' note at the end of the review comment, in the template. This way it does not read as an invitation to fight.
  • This could also create a new forum specifically for discussions among authors and reviewers, something that is perhaps desired (as opposed to discussing reviewing process on article talks and user talks pages), similar to a noticeboard of sorts. --Gryllida (talk) 03:55, 26 July 2018 (UTC)

Videos of reviewing


To reduce reviewing load and know what tasks takes so much time for a reviewer, I would like to propose to film the review process.

Further to urge reviewers to participate, perhaps the easy peer review gadget may be modified to include a "Please film your reviewing process - see discussion" ('discussion' would be a link to, for instance, this talk page section) note at the top of the review screen which opens when we click the 'Review' tab. This screen is read by any active reviewer. Such a change would require consensus and a modification to a javascript file in the MediaWiki namespace. Gryllida (talk) 10:53, 24 July 2018 (UTC)

No two articles are the same, and no two reviews are the same. While some information can be gathered from these videos, it possibly can not tell everything that is going on, in the head of the reviewer, and someone who has not gone through the article and the sources would never truly understand it. Why don't you try for yourself, Gry?
•–• 11:06, 24 July 2018 (UTC)
  • I'm trying to identify some time consuming tasks.
  • These tasks may be different for everyone, this is why I am trying to reach many people.
  • I would do it for myself once I meet two conditions: "am reviewing" and "at the home laptop (where I can install things)". This, as much as I wish it wasn't, is a rare occurrence. --Gryllida (talk) 04:01, 26 July 2018 (UTC)
Can't do anything about that. FWIW, a video recording would not answer things in the reviewer's head and would never answer "why". (talk) 05:26, 26 July 2018 (UTC)
What I most hope to target (with dialog-based assistance) is wasteful use of thought — in essence, tedium. I care more about eliminating that than about reducing time spent. I've long maintained that people have only so much capacity for decision-making per day; just recently I came across this link for a similar sentiment: [1]. --Pi zero (talk) 12:13, 26 July 2018 (UTC)

HIV in the Caribbean

My Dutch article Hiv heeft epidemische omvang in de Cariben (Hiv has epedemic proportions in the Caribbean) had been translated into French. If you like, I can translate it into English. But only if you like to review it an complete it when it doesn't meet all needs you have for articles on en.Wikinews. Please tell me if you'd like to have the English translation. It's quite original news. Ymnes (talk) 14:28, 24 June 2018 (UTC)

@Ymnes: well, we require English sources. If you can find English sources, that would be great! (talk) 14:45, 24 June 2018 (UTC)
Three out of the four sources are in English. This would mean that I should leave away the third paragraph. I don't know if that will be enough? Ymnes (talk) 14:51, 24 June 2018 (UTC)
... It might even be easier for someone to write it from scratch. An important statement comes from USAID: "The Caribbean region has the second highest prevalence HIV rate in the world after sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated adult prevalence rate of 1 percent" (source) Ymnes (talk) 14:59, 24 June 2018 (UTC)
  • Hi Ymnes. :-) This is not really fresh on its own anymore as it happened more than three days ago.
  • However a few relevant entities may be interviewed to get an idea of prognosis or reasons for the epidemics. Would you be able to name such entities? What questions would you suggest to ask them - something that is missing in the currently available report? (In the case of interview, a report may be published a bit after the event occurred.) Gryllida (talk) 03:58, 26 July 2018 (UTC)
For me it would be mean a search too. A growing or alarming situation can be fresh too, though some creativity is needed. Ymnes (talk) 05:12, 26 July 2018 (UTC)
@Gryllida: I see the International AIDS Conference (see Wikipedia and website) has started in Amsterdam on July 24th and the subject is fully fresh now (several news articles per day in Dutch language). There must be articles in English language in the media as well. Ymnes (talk) 16:39, 26 July 2018 (UTC)

@Gryllida: freshness alert :-) Today is the last day of the conference and Bill Clinton was the main speacher. Ymnes (talk) 20:14, 27 July 2018 (UTC)