Wikinews:Water cooler/policy

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Policies and guidelines and the Style guide contain or link to most of the current en.Wikinews policies and guidelines, however policy is based on the accepted practices of the day on Wikinews, often these might not be written down. This section of the Water cooler focuses on discussions regarding policy issues.

You may wish to check the archives to see if a subject has been raised previously.

"Birds of a feather" session at Wikimania 2017?[edit]

What can be done to grow both our audience and our contributors? Wikinews reported on 2017-05-08 that 3,471,349 articles were started in 33 different Wikinews language communities, but only 222,328 (6.4%) were published (if I understand those numbers correctly). For the English language Wikinews, only 0.8% were actually published. Is it fair to say that the vast majority of unpublished articles represent frustrated humans, who are less likely to contribute to Wikinews in the future? To increase the rate of submissions -- and our audience -- I think it would help to (a) understand why those articles were not published and (b) take steps to increase the publication rate. Examples:

  • Not neutral or not credible: Some help in rewording or asking contributors to get input from their opposition in a conflict could help educate contributors and encourage them to do more. It may even help resolve conflict -- converting heat into light!
  • Not newsworthy: If it's written from a neutral point of view citing credible sources, etc., can we “publish” it on a “back page” and / or get geolocation information and only offer the story to people nearby? I think boring reports on public meetings of governmental bodies should always be accepted, because they could help prevent (or expose) problems like the City of Bell scandal, where the death of a local newspaper seems to have encouraged a group of public officials to engage in massive criminality. Such articles should not be featured (except to people interested in that jurisdiction) but could be available for a search, e.g., link from a Wikipedia article about that governmental entity. (I believe the current minimal level of audience control of the media contributes to virtually every major problem facing humanity today; for documentation, see Winning the War on Terror on Wikiversity. Wikinews might facilitate major improvements.)
  • Not 'news' style: If it's written from a neutral point of view citing credible sources, etc., can we accept poor style and grammar for articles on a “back page,” hoping to encourage contributors to write other articles in the future? Some of those could be of sufficient general interest that other Wikinewsians might help rewrite them in 'news' style to convert them into “page one” stories. (Non-native speakers should be encouraged to try to bridge the language divide. If we had had this in the early 1950s, the U.S. war in Vietnam might have been avoided, because too many people would have known that roughly 80 percent of the Vietnamese supported the Communist Ho Chi Minh, as Eisenhower noted in his autobiography published in 1963 (Dwight D. Eisenhower. "[ The White House Years (1953-1956): Mandate for Change]" — Doubleday, 1963).

I've proposed a “Birds of a Feather” session for Wikimania 2017, August 9-13, in Montreal to discuss these and related questions; see Submissions/Building Wikinews into the premier news site worldwide. Comments welcomed. DavidMCEddy (talk) 15:24, 14 May 2017 (UTC)

@DavidMCEddy: I 100% agree that non-published stories have a correlation with would-be editors and that is something that needs to be assessed. Thanks for this. —Justin (koavf)TCM 17:06, 14 May 2017 (UTC)
@Koavf: Thanks. You can increase the chances of this being discussed at Wikimania 2017 by adding your Wikiname to "Interested attendees" at the end of the submission for a session on this topic: Submissions/Building Wikinews into the premier news site worldwide. If there's interest, I should be able to use videoconferencing (either Webex or Skype) so people who can attend this session without physically going to Montreal. I don't know the rules, but I suspect that not every "Submission" like this is actually assigned a session -- and "Submissions" with more "Interested attendees" are more likely to actually get a session. DavidMCEddy (talk) 17:33, 14 May 2017 (UTC)
@DavidMCEddy: I've been struggling for some time now to clear time to write you something giving a broad perspective on Wikinews's objectives and plans, and discussing how they relate to your ideas. I've neither forgotten nor given up, though now is seriously not a viable moment for it. (Frankly, our audience isn't a problem and our contribution rates are rooted in factors that you're not taking into account — that's where broad perspective comes into it.) --Pi zero (talk) 07:09, 15 May 2017 (UTC)
@Pi zero: Thanks for the reply. Might you be able to prepare something on this for my proposed session on m:Submissions/Building Wikinews into the premier news site worldwide at Wikimania 2017? If you can't attend physically, we should be able to arrange for you to be there virtually via videoconferencing (and I could try to present your material if that fails.) If yes, might you also add your name as an "Interested attendee" at m:Submissions/Building Wikinews into the premier news site worldwide? DavidMCEddy (talk) 20:44, 15 May 2017 (UTC)

There are a few points I disagree with. I am a bit stressed the last couple weeks, so the ideas may be put wrongly, or not clearly, but I'll try the best I can.

  • One, "The interests of a user could by default be determined in part from geographic coordinates obtained from a cell phone, an IP address, or by direct entry. Users could tailor this further. Browsing history might also be used." is too much tracking. Neutral news means it should present the same content to everybody. Customization should be provided to the user in the form of dialogs where they can choose which locations or topics to show.
@Gryllida: Thanks for your thoughts. Cambridge Analytica, if I understand correctly, uses tracking to determine which messages people will find credible and then post that kind of content to their Facebook page. That's an exploitation that gets people doing things contrary to their best interests.
The tracking I propose would offer notes on different schools to people who have interests in those schools, for example, but would not offer those same articles to people who seem NOT to have such interests.
This tracking may also offer more balance material and exposure to contrary perspectives to people who've been visiting known extremist (racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.) web sites.
Racists who don't want that won't come back. If they complain about it to more sensible folk, those more sensible may help educate them on the need to understand the said contrary perspectives, even if they don't agree. If we offer that, it can become a reason for people to come to us. DavidMCEddy (talk) 21:41, 9 June 2017 (UTC)
  • Don't fund article writers. Fund (or not) reviewers (and developers of reviewing tools). A few reasons why:
    • Paid journalism and crowdfunding could create a content topic bias. Coverage of certain topics would improve, and it would be governed by funding entities. Not necessarily in a good way.
    • Paid journalism and crowdfunding could increase the volume of submissions, which our reviewers are at present unable to handle due to lack of human power and due to inadequacy of the tools currently offered by the website. The reviewing labour requires a lot of manual work.
    • It would make the website more similar to other news sources -- even if neutral enough. We need to focus on the mechanism of engaging a reader into news writing, to make this site more peer-to-peer directed than governed by a group of paid journalists.
    • Funding reviewers would introduce a content bias as their boss tell them. This would be a disaster.
    • Funding development of reviewing tools would probably be a good idea, if the design and deployment of these tools are performed in a manner and at a pace comfortable for the (currently small) group.
@Gryllida: What if the funding comes via the Wikimedia Foundation? Isn't this consistent with the idea of citizen-directed subsidies of the media discussed by McChesney, Cagé, and others and summarized in v:User:DavidMCEddy/Winning the War on Terror?
If the Wikimedia Foundation can't recruit enough volunteer editors / admins but can afford to pay, I would not be opposed to that.
How are we going to tell whether a certain "volunteer" editor / admin is paid or not?
If Wikinews / "Everyone's Favorite News" grows to fill the need, we will need tools to monitor automatically the work of our editors / admins: If some are consistently biased, we hope they will be caught and appropriately dealt with. And should I care if they are paid or not? I think I should care about consistent inappropriate editorial decisions. ???DavidMCEddy (talk) 21:41, 9 June 2017 (UTC)
DavidMCEddy, WMF has a policy to not hire people for editing content of the wikis.
DavidMCEddy, WMF also has a policy that paid editing is against the rules at any Wikimedia wiki, unless the wiki decides otherwise.
DavidMCEddy, paid editors are typically relatively easy to spot: they push their agenda, don't agree with the wiki rules, and so on. (There is a greater magnitude of paid editors who make small edits to existing articles. Those are harder to spot. This is a large problem at a Wikipedia. But at Wikinews this is not a problem, for that its published articles enter a read-only archive very quickly.) --Gryllida (talk) 04:22, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
DavidMCEddy, Bias could be caught by gathering article feedback and correlating it with the article authors. This could be automated, but at present, the pace is so little that this information is easily reachable and comfortably sits within the head of each reviewer. --Gryllida (talk) 04:22, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
  • I would personally expect that many news articles fail the review process entirely due to two main reasons: they get stale (if there is too many articles or the topic is too specific for the reviewer to handle), or the article writer does not put effort into working on the reviewer comments. Adequate reviewing and review feedback tools would resolve both of these issues.
  • Finding the exact statistics is hard because the articles eventually get deleted. If you have ideas on how to resolve that, please tell. (I would perhaps be willing to volunteer to write a code to log the review actions on one page in plain text, just how they are on the article talk page, except that one page would not get deleted).
@Gryllida: Can you get a group of editors to brainstorm categories and codes for delays? Then data can be harvested on codes for delays vs. time to the last edit on articles when published or deleted. Combine that with data on the reviewer, language, history of the volunteer contributor (number of submissions, edits, and acceptances), and whatever else we can conveniently harvest. That could be analyzed in many different ways. DavidMCEddy (talk) 21:41, 9 June 2017 (UTC)
DavidMCEddy, I did not quite fully get the idea. What delays? In what format would you like the data to be stored? --Gryllida (talk) 04:22, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
@Gryllida: Delays between reviewer comments and author response. Regarding format, each reviewer comment could get a category code. That could later be harvested to get the time until an author reply, if any. DavidMCEddy (talk) 13:27, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
  • Increasing collaboration between different languages is a good idea. However, some of these languages' input would be counter productive. For instance, Russian Wikinews copy/pastes from external sources verbatim. The licence allows this and it is OK, but their content is biased as they prioritize popularity over quality. The verbatim copying also decreases writing enthusiasm.
Popularity is a tricky thing: If you don't have an audience, you're writing for yourself. But we don't want to be a tabloid. DavidMCEddy (talk) 21:41, 9 June 2017 (UTC)
There is nothing wrong with very gradual growth, so long as the group involved in it is content with the output. --Gryllida (talk) 04:22, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
@Gryllida: I hope you will entertain qualifications on the value of gradual growth: In a war and business, the weaker party can win if they grow faster than the leader. Someplace I read that a secondary contributor to the defeat of Nazi Germany was the comparison of the German vs. the British and American quality standards: The Messerschmitt's were allegedly better aircraft than the British Spitfires. However, the Brits built Spits more than twice as fast as the Germans made Messerschmitts. This meant that the Germans had to destroy more than twice as many fighters as they lost -- and they couldn't keep that production schedule.
In business, David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard company, developed "Packard's equation", which describes how fast you can grow with self-financed growth. A late starter can come from behind with an inferior product and come to dominate a market based on better marketing and finance -- and you lose in a market you invented. That's part of why bright entrepreneurs sell their ideas to big money for a fraction of what it should be worth, because they believe that the venture capital can help them grow to dominate a market that they would likely lose otherwise. I lived for 33 years in the Silicon Valley, CA. This was part of the local news, local culture, and what people gossiped about around the water cooler.
Thanks for your reply. I think we live in a very dangerous age. Different news sources suggest that armageddon could come from the Right or the Left, from Islamic or Christian extremists, depending on the source. If Wikinews + Wikiblogs + Wikisocial + Wikianalytica grow fast enough in the right way, they might go a long way toward reducing those risks. DavidMCEddy (talk) 21:28, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
DavidMCEddy: Next to paying people to write, the next more effective method is word of mouth, I would think? At some point we published original reporting from all wikis in a weekly newsletter. And we have Wikinews in audio and print formats. If you think such and similar measures are helpful, or have ideas how to put them to more use, I would be glad to assist. I've made a separate page for brainstorming these ideas, User:Gryllida/wc001. Anybody is welcome to edit. --Gryllida (talk) 05:40, 16 June 2017 (UTC)
  • You need to tell the public that writing tools is complicated by the need for any 'Extensions' to pass a code review by WMF Engineering. This is a slow process. JavaScript and Lua programming is available to site sysops without WMF review requirements, at present; they have less flexibility, but the deployment is easier and this is a great thing. However, having a guide how to create a copy of Wikinews for development would make engaging new contributors into the development process a lot easier. I am struggling with finding that out, myself, for over a year.

Regards, --Gryllida (talk) 02:01, 22 May 2017 (UTC)

@Gryllida:, @DavidMCEddy: I've wondered about saving review comments. When trying to assess a contributor from the reviews of their articles, it's often very useful to be an admin so one can read the reviews of their failed articles as well as their successes. We really need to provide much more robust support for accumulated reputation of users we don't personally know well; this sort of thing must be better supported in order for us to successfully scale up; if there were a thousand active users on Wikinews every day, how could a reviewer know what sort of writer they were dealing with, and how could anyone recognize if a small group of reviewers ever started rubber-stamping each others' articles? At the same time, though, deleting the talk pages of unsuccessful articles can also dispose of a great deal of unpleasantness. One could, of course, save only the reviewer comments, not the comments by others, but then what if a reviewer made a comment that was legitimately objected to? The reviewer would automatically get the last word. This is a sort of thing I would be giving a lot of thought, if the things I've been doing with the dialog tools weren't so obviously even more urgently needed. --Pi zero (talk) 02:33, 22 May 2017 (UTC)
Would it be suitable to log the review comments on User:Foo/reviews, where Foo is the nick of the person who submitted the article for review? I could perhaps try to edit the easy peer review script to do that on another wiki, and after it works, copy the edit here. --Gryllida (talk) 04:30, 22 May 2017 (UTC)

Everyone's Favorite News Site[edit]

At the risk of redundancy, I wish to post here another discussion of the concept that drove my proposal for a “Birds of a Feather” session for Wikimania 2017, August 9-13, in Montreal to discuss “Submissions/Building Wikinews into the premier news site worldwide”. I hope this is more complete and compelling than what I posted earlier. DavidMCEddy (talk) 20:09, 9 June 2017 (UTC)


There is an available market niche for a web site that could provide the best selection of news for everyone except the rabid ideologues. If done right, this could attract an audience as large as Google and Wikipedia.


Everyone's Favorite News site could provide noncommercial news with citizen-directed funding. We need noncommercial news, because progress on many and perhaps all substantive issues facing humanity today is blocked, because every plausible countermeasure threatens someone with substantive control over the mainstream media.

Landing page[edit]

The proposed landing page for Everyone's Favorite news site would offer alternatives from hyper-local to international. Within each, users would be offered the range of available news sources. Part of this could be similar to “”, which posts contrasting perspectives on the same issue side by side.

User interests[edit]

The defaults for user interests at Everyone's Favorite news site would be determined by geolocation and browsing history. Geolocation would be translated into a list of all the relevant political jurisdictions. Users could optionally adjust that by answering questions indicating level of interest in different topics.

Wikimedia rules[edit]

A key feature would be to promote a neutral point of view (NPOV), assuming good faith in others, and citing credible sources to the maximum extent feasible. This would involve a mix of existing news sources including minutes of meetings and official publications of organizations of all types and sizes from social and religious organizations to small businesses, nonprofits, local governmental bodies and international businesses, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and the United Nations. It would also link to blogs showing contrasting perspectives, while avoiding potentially inflammatory material without reference to intelligent questions.

Consider, for example, the claims of Hutu leaders in 1994 that the Tutsis were cockroaches coming to kill all Hutus, and the Hutus therefore had to preemptively kill all Tutsis first. The claims were mostly but not entirely unfounded: Tutsi guerrillas were destroying property and killing a few Hutus. The threat was, however, massively overstated, apparently to increase the power of exiting elites, including certain international business and geopolitical interests. The result was a major humanitarian catastrophe.

We need something that will effectively counter the divide-and-conquer rhetoric of existing for-profit media, including companies like Cambridge Analytica. Appropriate responses to this threat might include creating Wikiblogs and Wikisocial, discussed below.

@DavidMCEddy: Wikipedian policies are totally unsuitable for a news project. In particular, AGF absolutely does not belong on a news site.
@Pi zero: what's AGF? DavidMCEddy (talk) 15:06, 11 June 2017 (UTC)
@DavidMCEddy: Rofl at myself. That could make my remarks a bit harder to understand, couldn't it. Asume Good Faith. --Pi zero (talk) 15:27, 11 June 2017 (UTC)
It is impossible to cover news on a project with AGF.
@Pi zero: Doesn't that depend on how you interpret AGF? To me, AGF just means maintaining civil discourse. It does NOT absolve us from the need to Trust, but verify -- and the rules for documentation are different for Wikinews than Wikipedia, as you have noted. DavidMCEddy (talk) 16:42, 11 June 2017 (UTC)
I think civil discourse is very important.
At the risk of saying something that some might consider inflammatory, I will recall that I've heard both Jews and Palestinians say of the other, "You don't understand those people: They're crazy. I think they're both right, but that does not make them any different from the rest of humanity. The human psychology behind this was eloquently described in Thinking, Fast and Slow; Danile Kahneman won the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in economics for the path-breaking researched summarized in that book.
I believe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has so far proved to be intractable in part because too few on either side assume good faith on the part of the other and therefore don't have the patience to listen to the perspectives of the other. If we could get Jews and Palestinians collaborating on articles newsworthy events for en.wikinews, each assuming good faith on the part of the other, both sides might more easily see how their preconceptions color their current perceptions. This in turn could begin to build bridges toward a better future for all. (By the way, I'm a goy, married to a Jew. This crisis has run through our family for decades.) DavidMCEddy (talk) 18:27, 11 June 2017 (UTC)
There is, to understate, a lot to say about this. Hopefully I'll have a chance to expound on it sometime soon (not immediately, though, since there are things waiting on the review queue). There's the matter of why/how AGF goes wrong on Wikipedia, and there's the separate matter of why the approach used on Wikinews would not work on Wikipedia. --Pi zero (talk) 18:53, 11 June 2017 (UTC)
When I first came to Wikipedia I thought AGF was incredibly naively idealistic, and that was attractive to me — idealism is essential to a successful wiki, it's the thing that drives volunteers to passionate contribution. I couldn't imagine how Wikipedia could function; and I approached the project with humility, assuming there was something about its dynamics I didn't understand, and I should start with a blank slate, assuming nothing I'd learned elsewhere would necessarily apply, and I should patiently wait to pick up by osmosis a sense of how the place worked. By the time I came to Wikinews several years later, I was so indoctrinated in Wikipedian culture that I was shocked to discover Wikinews not only hadn't adopted AGF, but aggressively denied it; I couldn't imagine how a wiki could succeed without it. I adopted the same sort of humility as I had with Wikipedia (and with Wikibooks, in between), assuming nothing I'd learned elsewhere — including, nothing I'd learned at Wikpedia or Wikibooks — would necessarily apply, and I should patiently wait to pick up by osmosis a sense of how the place worked. A bit over a year after I arrived here, Wikinews was shaken to its foundations by a horrific social melt-down; there was very much the cyberspace equivalent of a furious torch-carrying lynch mob. It took me years to sort out in my mind what had been the underlying causes. One was that the community had been waiting to tear itself apart over the issue of AGF: the hard-news people saw AGF as totally unreconcilable with journalism — and frankly I always agreed with this in general, and my adherence to this position only became more refined as I came to understand the absolutely essential role that accumulated reputation plays in the ability of Wikinews to operate — and a crowd who had never escaped from the Wikipedian mindset, who tolerated the hard-news folks on the surface but, underneath, had (I would now assess) a deep burning resentment (sometimes edging into hatred) for anyone they perceived as questioning Wikipedian policies. I found myself in the middle of an awful mess that I didn't fully understand at the time; I understood the Wikipedian passion for its way of doing things, yet it seemed obvious to me that circumstances are different on Wikinews. I brought about a cease-fire compromise, at the time, between the hard-news and AGF factions. But the other deep underlying cause of the disaster was, in retrospect, that absence of AGF is not enough: we needed an explicit rule to provide positive guidance. After the big social meltdown, things went on for a while, but then a prominent member of the AGF crowd quit the project (mind you, this person was rather young at the time, which changes how one thinks of them now), and over the next half year or so a bunch of the other AGFers followed. This, unexpectedly, made it possible to make more progress on Wikinews infrastructure than we had been able to before, because before we were (in retrospect) spending a lot of effort just on a holding action to keep the AGFers from subverting what the project had accomplished. It has always been difficult to make progress anyway on Wikinews infrastructure because we spend so much effort on the day-to-day news production that we don't have much left for infrastructure; and coping with the Wikipedian crowd was taking up our remaining energy. Once that faction had abated, I drafted something that articulated explicitly the principles that, I came to understand (remember, I'd spent years by this time studying to grok the project's dynamics), had always underlain the hard-news faction; frankly, I think if Wikinews:Never assume had been in place beforehand it would have prevented the specific disaster aforementioned (though the hard-news/AGF factions were probably always going to come to blows sooner or later).

Later, the same user who had led that first exodus from the project was also centrally involved in starting a "fork" of Wikinews. The fork failed. I actually wished them well; they had the opportunity to pursue their ideas about how to do wiki-based news, and we had the opportunity to pursue ours. Not to put too fine a point on it, theirs failed, and we're still here. Imho this was inevitable, because what they stood for was basically a negative — not insisting on checking against the sources before publication. We had the passionate ideals (remember I said a volunteer project needs those?). Oddly, since their stated philosophy rejected our philosophy and favored an inclusive publication policy, from what I hear they copied much of our technical infrastructure but not our article archives. Late in the game, seeing that we were continuing (at a reduced level), and perhaps observing my extensive activity here, one of the folks at the fork invited me to come contribute to the fork; I don't actually remember how I declined, though I certainly hope I was as gracious about it as they were. I do think they had it backwards, though; it wasn't that people contributing passionately caused the Wikinews philosophy to succeed, but that the Wikinews philosophy caused people to contribute passionately. It was vastly easier to get things published on the fork project, but why would people want to do so?

One thing both factions — ultimately, the Wikinewsies and the forkers — agreed on was the we need to make review eaiser. The fork tried to solve the problem by not doing the work (I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but I think it's one of those things that really isn't an exaggeration even though it sounds like one); that fails, massively, because it misses the point of doing journalism at all (and, ultimately, misses the definition of what journalism is — I really, really want to write up my views on Wikinews for you, and I even started a first draft of it a while ago, but I'm still not there yet — see my earlier comments on day-to-day news production versus infrastructure). My alternative is to make a very simple, technically "small" enhancement to wiki markup that's a total game-changer because it makes it possible for wiki communities to grow, by crowdsourcing, semi-automated tools that make tasks easier without diminishing their human element. And apply that technique to build semi-automated assistance for both reviewing and writing Wikinews articles. There are lots of nuances on this. For example, I used to think we would want to address the difficulty of writing (with an article wizard) first, but I've since realized we need the review tools first — because frankly, despite the difficulties, we have more demand for review than we have supply, already. Don't make the mistake, btw, of thinking that some articles don't get reviewed before they go stale because we need more review labor; that's not the case. I remember times when we had more review labor available and still lost some articles that way. There is a lot of demand for what we do here at Wikinews (contrasting with the fork), and, given a reasonable level of consistently available review labor, submissions will afaics always increase until they exceed it. Another nuance is that, to be blunt, the Wikimedia Foundation must not be allowed to have any creative control over this. They have always been rather aggressively unfriendly to news (not that they necessarily understand that that's what they're doing), and I suspect their deeply mistaken priorities actually make them aggressively unfriendly to wikis in general (which they almost certainly don't understand they're doing). There's a bit about my thoughts on that, in broad terms, at User:Pi zero/essays/vision/sisters.

Btw, back when the big controversies were raging here, and for some time thereafter, I used to try to take a "relativistic" attitude toward AGF, maintaining that it's right for Wikipedia at the same time that it's deeply wrong for Wikinews. I struggled and struggled to explain that, and eventually came to the conclusion it's not true; that AGF has been a slow poison to Wikipedia, and its long-term effects there are one of the reasons the Wikipedian social atmosphere has become so toxic. --Pi zero (talk) 13:56, 11 June 2017 (UTC)

@Pi zero: I'm confused: When "the Wikipedian social atmosphere" is toxic, doesn't that mean that people are NOT assuming good faith on the part of others, and are failing to push the need to write from a neutral point of view citing credible sources? DavidMCEddy (talk) 18:39, 11 June 2017 (UTC)

Low acceptance rate on Wikinews[edit]

Wikinews strives with reasonable success to offer well-written, credible news that has attracted an audience.

It has a problem, however, with the low number of articles accepted; Between May 29 and June 9, 2017, they published 11 articles -- roughly one per day.

The English-language Wikinews has published only 0.8 percent of the articles submitted; internationally, only 6.4 percent of submissions have been published (as of 2017-04-28). One suspects that most of the unpublished submissions represent potential contributors, who will on average write less for Wikinews in the future.

I believe that Wikinews could get more submissions without sacrificing quality if the current articles were listed as “Featured” or “Front page”, and articles that are currently rejected are instead redirected somewhere with lower standards -- but not rejected.

The reason for rejection would determine how an article might be redirected. If it's not sufficiently timely or not well written or not likely to attract a sufficiently broad audience, I think it could and should be accepted for “Back pages”. As long as the article is otherwise NPOV citing credible sources, second-tier acceptance would acknowledge the contributor's efforts while encouraging a better effort on future submissions by explaining why this was not “Front page” news. No journalist expects every article to appear on the front page. And there is a huge difference in career motivation between writing for back pages and writing for a trash can.

In addition, some of the articles on these “Back pages” might help future researchers and criminal investigators searching for hints of problems that later become important. This might be compared to astronomy, where amateurs are making important discoveries by monitoring variable stars, tracking asteroids and discovering transient objects, such as comets and novae.

Another reason for publishing “uninteresting” stories could be to help deter questionable activities.

Consider, for example, the “City of Bell scandal”: Bell, CA, is a city of roughly 35,000. Just over a decade after the local newspaper died, they made the front page of the Los Angeles Times: The city was near bankruptcy in spite of astronomical property tax rates. The city manager was by far the highest paid public servant in US history, as far as anyone could tell: His annual compensation package was over a million dollars a year, over double that of the President of the United States. The assistant city manager and most of the city council also had compensation packages substantially above those of comparable positions elsewhere.

If citizen journalists had been writing reports of the boring city council meetings in the early 2000s, the city manager might not have been so bold as to push for such outlandish compensation. The serious problems that arose would likely have been caught earlier. Without those problems, many of the reports might have remained boring but still necessary. (Some of those reports might have included items of interest to locals but not a wider audience.)

Other “uninteresting” reports might later provide a baseline to help concerned citizens or prosecutors identify the origins of some subsequent official malfeasance.

And even without that, citizen journalists attending and writing about uninteresting meetings learn what to look for and write about in the future. Then when something interesting happens, they may be better equipped to see it and describe it in terms that are clear, concise, and compelling -- and to do so more quickly, because of the greater experience in writing.

Wikinews policy does not preclude local stories. See WN:Newsworthiness. My earlier remark (above) has something to say about cause and cure for our publication rate. --Pi zero (talk) 14:00, 11 June 2017 (UTC)


Articles that qualify as editorials could be referred to a new Wikimedia project that might be called “Wikiblogs”. Articles there would still have to meet the standard of writing from a neutral point of view citing credible sources. This might be accomplished with an effort to pair contributors with very different perspectives on the same or similar issues: If each can assume good faith in the other, they could together produce something far better than either could alone. Both the collaboration and the resulting article could build bridges for the resolution of conflicts that might otherwise be virtually intractable.

Blogs have no value journalistically. See my remarks above on incompatibility of AGF with journalism. --Pi zero (talk) 14:02, 11 June 2017 (UTC)
@Pi zero: So? Blogs don't have to be journalism: Wikiblogs could serve multiple purposes, e.g.,:
  • A rejection in Wikinews currently discourages future contributions by that individual. If an article is referred to Wikiblogs and can meet reasonable standards for that, the contributor might be more likely to write something else in the future that might meet Wikinews standards.
  • Contributors to Wikiblogs should still be required to acknowledge contrary evidence and avoid inflammatory language. What they learn while meeting Wikiblogs standards may encourage them to write something later that fits the Wikinews criteria.
  • Wikiblogs could encourage people to ventilate about issues that concern them in an environment that pushes them to read and cite material produced by their opposition while suppressing inflammatory rhetoric and looking for other evidence.
  • For all these reasons, we help people see other sides to their concerns. That in turn could help build a foundation for conflict resolution in addition to training future Wikinesians.
  • By the way, I'm 2 for 4 with Wikinews. My first failure got stale, because I misread reviewer(s) comments. When I finally went back to check, the piece was no longer timely. If it could have still been considered for a "back page" or Wikiblogs, I might have been more encouraged to try to write more for Wikinews. My last failure was late before I started. I wrote it, because I felt it was important, and I had finally cleared enough "urgent" items from my list of priorities to find time for that. If that could have been accepted someplace, it might have made some of my other work in that area easier. DavidMCEddy (talk) 19:26, 11 June 2017 (UTC)
An actual blog has no standards, to speak of, and has no educational merit and doesn't belong on the wikimedia sisterhood. People can blog elsewhere; wikimedia is not a web host. If you're talking about something with standards, but less than Wikinews's, then you're actually talking about lowering Wikinews standards. Which does not work, and in that case issues of journalism certainly are relevant. --Pi zero (talk) 20:01, 11 June 2017 (UTC)


Social media have become too important to be ignored. People should be able to share with friends whatever they want in an environment that does not make them a target for exploitation, as long as it's not inflammatory.

The world needs and can easily afford a social media platform that flags and appropriately challenges hate speech. The Wikimedia Foundation could offer a new “Wikisocial” project to respond to this need.

Other social media cultivate and amplify racist, sexist, and homophobic perspectives within internally homogeneous groups that too seldom get challenged. These groups are identified and exploited by companies like Cambridge Analytica, who manage to convince millions of people to do things contrary to their best interests.

Every media organization in the world
sells changes in the behaviors of its audience to its funders.

Google and Facebook are no exception: They make money through advertising and are subject to the commercial imperatives of other media organizations: It's not smart to bite the hands that feed you. It's not good business to let too much information pass that might offend major advertisers.

Of course, if Google and Facebook were too blatant about their commercial nature, they'd lose audience. Still, they have a conflict of interest in blocking ads, infomercials, and other material submitted by organizations like Cambridge Analytica.

We can do better with citizen-directed funding for media, which is essentially how the Wikimedia Foundation works.

Comments? Thanks, DavidMCEddy (talk) 20:09, 9 June 2017 (UTC)

Wikianalytica Countering the Balkanization of the body politic[edit]

Organizations like Cambridge Analytica have reportedly used microtargeting to amplify and exploit the Balkanization of the electorate. The chief executive of Cambridge Analytica bragged about having "somewhere close to four or five thousand data points on every individual [in the US]. ... So we model the personality of every adult across the United States, some 230 million people (url= ). Other sources suggested this helped win the Brexit vote: It would be naive to assume that this is limited to the US nor to Cambridge Analytica.

On June 19, 2017, multiple news outlets reported that Upguard, Inc. found that data on 198 million Americans had been publicly available on an unsecured server for some portion of the time between June 1 and 19, 2017. If criminals specializing in identity theft obtained that data, it could create serious problems for up to 198 million Americans. The most important part of this story for this discussion is that it documents that the Republican Party had contracted with firms like Deep Root Analytics, TargetPoint Consulting, and Data Trust to compile these data for use in the 2016 elections. (See, e.g., "(url= ).

The good news from this is that if microtargeting can be used to divide and conquer an electorate]], other organizations could use the same or similar tools to facilitate honest communications and nonviolent conflict resolution in ways that also reduce political corruption and increase the prospects for peace, democracy, and broadly shared economic growth. DavidMCEddy (talk) 21:53, 23 June 2017 (UTC)

Missing submission number[edit]

Seems that the submission lacks a number, needed for chance of acceptance. Without it, the submission can't be accepted. There is another submission, which has a number, but... it's a poster presentation. Nevertheless, it's receiving good acceptance ratings. Don't expect lectures about Wikinews anytime soon there. --George Ho (talk) 06:35, 12 June 2017 (UTC)

Thanks for this. Yesterday I received an email from a member of the review committee suggesting they are still looking at it. I got the impression that there's still a good chance it will make it onto the schedule. I see my submission is not currently on your "Submission Review" list. However, I don't think it's too late for you to add your name to the "Interested attendees" section of "wm2017:Submissions/Building Wikinews into the premier news site worldwide". DavidMCEddy (talk) 12:29, 13 June 2017 (UTC)
The link doesn't work. May I change m to wm2017? As for the question, I can't afford a trip, but thanks anyway. --George Ho (talk) 20:20, 17 June 2017 (UTC)
Thanks for explaining that the link was broken and how to fix it. DavidMCEddy (talk) 21:19, 23 June 2017 (UTC)

Drafting a report before an event[edit]

Does Wikinews have a policy about drafting an article before and event, then revising it during or after the event and finally changing the {{develop}} tag to {{review}}?

Last Tuesday, 2107-06-06, KKFI radio broadcasted an interview with Bryce Lockwood, who was a gunnery sergeant in the US Marine Corps on board the USS Liberty 1967-06-08 when it was attacked by unmarked aircraft, and former US Representative Pete McCloskey, who interviewed people who seemed to be knowledgable about the incident. Click here for the podcast and a transcript.

Lockwood is scheduled to speak June 22 to the VFW of Lenexa, KS.

I thought I read something encouraging people to draft such article(s), then revise them as needed and change the {{develop}} tag to {{review}} when done. However, I can't find that now.

Thanks, DavidMCEddy (talk) 12:12, 11 June 2017 (UTC)

Of possible interest: Wikinews:Prepared stories. --Pi zero (talk) 14:04, 11 June 2017 (UTC)
Thanks. That's exactly what I was looking for. DavidMCEddy (talk) 19:27, 11 June 2017 (UTC)

Sending referrer information from Wikinews to external links[edit]

Currently, the English Wikipedia community has decided to no longer allow the referrer info (one of diffs) from en.wikipedia to external links. Id est that community chose the "silent referrer" option. What about us of English Wikinews community? We have used links for every article. How can we handle the referrer issue here? How much info should we send to those external websites? More at meta:Research:Wikimedia referrer policy and meta:Research talk:Wikimedia referrer policy#Proposal: be a silent referrer (taken from that discussion). --George Ho (talk) 23:21, 17 June 2017 (UTC)

ArbCom elections[edit]

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This conversation has been marked for the community's attention.

Please remove the {{flag}} when the discussion is complete or no longer important.

I propose the same dates, rules, procedures as in 2016. (See WN:Water cooler/policy/archives/2016/July#ArbCom elections, Wikinews:Arbitration Committee/2016 election.)

The community must agree on all election procedures by July 1, and election committee members by July 10.
The deadline for nominations is 2000 UTC July 17.
Voting will take place from 2000 UTC July 18 to 2000 UTC July 30. Questions and comments may be made during that time period.
Since the incumbent members' seats expire on August 3, the election committee will declare the winners on about July 31, and the new term begins after declaration. Should any case be before the ArbCom at election time, the current committee continues to sit after turnover on cases that started under the current committee. Any new case after turnover is for the new committee.

As worked well for the past several years, I strongly recommend the committee not create a page for "questions for all candidates"; questions for each candidate should be located under that candidate. This is the way things have been done in all but two previous elections; once there was no place for questions at all (the undesirability of this is obvious, I hope), and once, five years ago, we had a page for questions for all candidates, and it turned into a political circus and an ordeal for the nominees (en.wn ArbCom is a judicial body, so should be scrupulously apolitical). I'm not the only one who experienced the circus five years ago and came away from it with a powerful conviction it should not be allowed to happen again.

We need at least two people for the election committee. Volunteers? --Pi zero (talk) 03:19, 24 June 2017 (UTC)

  • Count me out. I don't have enough experience to be an arbitrator. One question: What would happen to ArbCom service when no one volunteers? Would it be suspended? --George Ho (talk) 04:10, 24 June 2017 (UTC)
BTW, the years are incorrect. It's "2017", not "2000". --George Ho (talk) 04:12, 24 June 2017 (UTC) Oops, my bad. --George Ho (talk) 05:12, 24 June 2017 (UTC)
2000 means 8 PM (UTC).
acagastya 05:02, 24 June 2017 (UTC)
Gryllida, pi zero, if I can nominate candidates for the election committee, let's keep it like last year. Okay with that?
acagastya 10:59, 24 June 2017 (UTC)
@Acagastya: I take it the election rules are okay by you?

If last year's election committee members are willing to serve; that would be Gryllida and Bddpaux. --Pi zero (talk) 11:45, 24 June 2017 (UTC)

Pi zero, you were in the election committe last time? The election comittee members can't participate in the ArbCom, can they? (Forgot to mention Bddpaux. ) let me have a look, I don't remember the rules.
acagastya 12:16, 24 June 2017 (UTC)
@Pi zero: I would like to discuss about this, probably on IRC.
acagastya 12:37, 24 June 2017 (UTC)
@Acagastya: No, I have never been on the election committee. I'm on ArbCom, and I often help out with routine tasks during the election (which greatly reduces incidental burdens on the election committee; their central responsibility is certifying the election, and, very rarely, making rulings on unusual situations). --Pi zero (talk) 12:49, 24 June 2017 (UTC)

I'm concerned about the ArbCom process. Last year's election rules are too rigid. The ArbCom hasn't taken one case for a whole year and doesn't have its own Enforcement and Clarification/Amendment system. Also, some of its members have been inactive for almost one year. Is ArbCom worth preserving? --George Ho (talk) 22:30, 24 June 2017 (UTC)

ArbCom is essential. It keeps us independent. It performs functions behind the scenes, from time to time. And it exists to be called upon when needed. Letting it lapse would be disastrous. Btw, Wikinews ArbCom is a judicial body; there's no need for me to critique en.wp ArbCom here, but by comparison ours is far less interventionist. And the members don't have to be actively editing to be valuable (I recall the times I've served jury duty, they emphasize the valuable function that jurors play by being available, even if they don't get impaneled). --Pi zero (talk) 23:00, 24 June 2017 (UTC)

Pinging KTo288 and Bawolff for invitation. --George Ho (talk) 00:32, 25 June 2017 (UTC)

Is there a page where I could read up on Wikinews ArbCom's duties and responsibilities, maybe cases and policies that they've handled in the past? I think that would provide me with some needed perspective. If you know an especially instructive one, I'd like your recs too. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:03, 27 June 2017 (UTC)
@Darkfrog24: ArbCom was most actively used early in its existence. Only a few cases have actually been heard. I'm not sure how much of a sense of those cases one can get from the archives (at WN:Requests for arbitration); I saw one of those happen, and it seems to me that the context of the thing doesn't easily come through from the archive, but I can't readily put myself in the position of someone who didn't have the first-hand experience. A particularly disastrous variation in the election process, which I feel I can criticize as I survived it, took place in 2010, when the election pages were set up in a way that encouraged asking questions broadside of all candidates; it created a huge politicization of the process that had (I gather) never happened before on Wikinews and certainly hasn't happened since; it was really quite nastily exhausting. One of the questions was about the ArbCom case that had happened earlier that year; my own take on that ArbCom case is there (I recall that I thought I saw a solution at the time, but I don't recall what it was, and the whole matter ceased to be remotely of interest to the community shortly thereafter). Once I actually became an Arb, I found that from time to time, quite irregularly, someone from outside the project — either someone with the Foundation, or someone from another sister project — needs to contact someone highly trusted, and with some authority, on en.wn, and they contact an Arb. General principles are described (not succinctly) at WN:Arbitration Committee; there are some significant bits there if one looks carefully for them, e.g. I'd say WN:ARBCOM#Number of members and tenure is a particularly high-information-density section. --Pi zero (talk) 13:50, 27 June 2017 (UTC)

I am also concerned about the "need" for an ArbCom on this wiki. There were only 3 voters in last year's elections - even fewer than the number of members. And most of the current ArbCom was inactive then, and only one current member has made more than 3 edits in 2017 on en.wikinews. It sounds like this is more trouble than it's worth, and is bureaucracy to sustain bureaucracy. --Rschen7754 18:29, 27 June 2017 (UTC)

Thank you, Rschen7754. Glad I'm not the only one. Election committee, you're not gonna nominate less than active users, are you? --George Ho (talk) 00:08, 28 June 2017 (UTC)
ArbCom is not bureaucracy on Wikinews. ArbCom is (amongst other things, notably including being our judiciary body of last resort) an essential safeguard against the project being destroyed by outside bureaucracies that are dangerously clueless about news. --Pi zero (talk) 01:12, 28 June 2017 (UTC)
Um... I want to say something about non-Wikipedia projects, like Wikibooks. However, I can't... not yet. About "news"... what's your definition of "news"? Major competitive newspapers have broader coverage of everything, like local news, national news, world news, op-eds, TV listings, celebrity news, etc. To me, "news" is... something new and current or ongoing. Anything special or something... Well, newspapers have interviews, so... that's new, right? Meanwhile, the Newsrooms have several articles awaiting review right now. The meaning of "news"... well, newspapers can bring up something old but make the story new. I wonder about Wikinews... --George Ho (talk) 02:26, 28 June 2017 (UTC); mostly struck, 16:16, 28 June 2017 (UTC)
"notably including being our judiciary body of last resort" - when the last case request is from over 5 years ago, is this venue really necessary anymore? Especially considering that much larger projects don't have an ArbCom. "ArbCom is an essential safeguard" - how can it be a safeguard, if there is only one active user on it, and 3 editors have voted on the candidates (thus not giving it much standing)? And finally, without copy-pasting from WN:AC, what specifically has this ArbCom done in the last year? Is there a mailing list where discussions take place? Are there official statements that are made on behalf of it? etc. I wonder if there is more time spent setting up the elections and finding enough candidates to run than to officially discharge the duties. --Rschen7754 02:38, 28 June 2017 (UTC)
@Rschen7754: You're going right down the line of Wikipedian misconceptions/misrepresentations about Wikinews. I could spend several times the length of your post just pointing out your misconceptions, sentence by sentence; but I have a principle that when the density of misapprehensions gets that high it's no longer reasonable to try to correct them all, one oughtn't try. (The BS about "1 active user" does suggest either remarkable ignorance of how en.wn works, or deliberate trolling. The lack of a clear way to distinguish the two is part of the reason for the discussion cut-off threshold: an anti-Wikinews troll would love for me to waste long hours sparring with them instead of doing productive work on the project.) --Pi zero (talk) 04:00, 28 June 2017 (UTC)

((edit conflict))

George Ho; you demand a lot from the project that is a collaboration. The editors here work hard. And you want us to invest all of our time on Wikinews? Were you on the project last year, when Pi zero used to stay up all night to tackle all of the articles in the RQ? Were you on the project when he helped the newcomers help understand how to do things? Were you there when he tackled "On the campaign trail in the USA" articles? Do you know how much he has contributed to this project? It is easy for authors to blame the reviewers when they don't find their article edited hours after submission. I felt that. But you have no idea how much responsibility a reviewer has to carry, and how much responsibility an admin and b'crat would have. Do you know Pi zero is still working now, reviewing, when he was supposed to sleep. Do you know anything from the lives of the other Wikinewsies? I have seen many people criticising Pi zero, but George Ho, I tell you one thing: Pi zero, even with the project responsibilities, does better even if there were ten George Hos.
ArbCom exists to solve the dispute, not to create dispute to show there is a need for ArbCom. Just like the Supreme Courts does not exist to create some cases and work on it to show that a court is important, it exists to solve any dispute. Do you hear anything about the court cases when there are no pending cases? Think about a court on taluka level. Is ArbCom "necessary" if the last case was five years ago? You never know you need it tomorrow. You don't build hospital after people fall sick.
From what I understand; neither of two understands the role of ArbCom.
acagastya 04:12, 28 June 2017 (UTC)
@Pi zero:: I looked at the list of six arbitrators, and only one has made more than 5 edits after December 31, 2016. If you are looking at a different measure of activity, then please clarify what it is, rather than resorting to personal attacks. --Rschen7754 05:33, 28 June 2017 (UTC)

Lack of activity? What will a judge do if there is no pending case? ArbCom is there to resolve dispute. Writing a news article has nothing to do with being a member of the committee. It is up to them if they wish to write/review an article, this is a volunteer project. People are free to write what they like. Nobody can force them to write anything. William S. Saturn, who writes bout the presidential elections wrote On the campaign trail in the USA articles each month. Have you even seen the size of those articles? Do you know how valuable those articles are? Just drawing a line after 2016 to waste everyone's time? I don't understand why do you care of what Wikinews does, when you don't edit Wikinews? Instead of wasting everyone's time, why don't you write some articles, understand the infrastructure, and try to figure out how things work here?
acagastya 05:50, 28 June 2017 (UTC)

(You know, acagastya, I remember brianmc challenging a troublemaker to try writing some articles, once; up till then they'd just been mouthing off in comments space, but they then turned rather quickly into possibly the single nastiest troll we've ever had, receiving a community ban from en.wn. I'm pretty sure brianmc never again invited a troublemaker to write articles.) --Pi zero (talk) 06:07, 28 June 2017 (UTC)
I see, that is the reason why they don't want ArbCom to exist. Now it is clear. They are bored, and want to have fun. I feel sorry for them.
acagastya 06:16, 28 June 2017 (UTC)

I apologize for comparing newspapers to Wikinews, implying success. Rereading and skimming one of past discussions, I have mostly forgotten that Wikinews doesn't have to be like other newspapers. Therefore, I struck out the whole comment. About Wikinews itself... I wish I could write more stories, but I have been busy with other projects lately. Seeing stories at Newsroom, I figured that Wikinews can still thrive. I guess the "newsworthiness" has become perennial, so I also struck out that part out. Still, "Wikipedians" are mentioned. In their defense, I figured that most Wikipedians don't find Wikinews useful (probably due to its structure), so they created articles about current events at Wikipedia lately.

I appreciate your defending Pi zero and thankless efforts on helping Wikinews survive. And I thank you for your efforts on helping out the ArbCom. Just wondering... for future's sake, if a troublemaker tries to volunteer as an election committee member, would that troublemaker successfully or unsuccessfully wreck or corrupt the ArbCom? About "last year"... I was preoccupied with mostly Wikipedia. Also, I'll email you soon, acagastya (left un-pinged/unlinked intentionally). --George Ho (talk) 16:16, 28 June 2017 (UTC)

@George Ho: In the time I've been here, we've never had a bad-faith volunteer for the election committee. I've always kept it in mind (healthy paranoia being implicit in WN:Never assume). Also in that time we've never stood on ceremony about volunteers for the election committee, but if there were actually a problem, we would object and not let them on. There is, of course, a good reason for having at least two on the election committee.

Btw, a point that perhaps bears emphasis: I admit to putting much effort into keeping Wikinews going, but I haven't been doing it to preserve the status quo; a condition for undertaking it was to have a long-term plan to bring about broad growth of the project and render myself unnecessary to its support.

@Rschen7754: Despite all, I still would prefer not to end this on such a sour note. In the interests of communication (though not, necessarily, popularity):
  • To be clear: the size of other projects that don't choose to have an ArbCom is irrelevant to the situation of en.wn.
  • As Acagastya has remarked, I'm not the only active Arb, though I might place two caveats on that. The lesser caveat is that I believe I did read your original "one active user" remark differently than it was intended (I admit to being vary wary after a long tradition of nasty characters who wanted to dismantle/gut Wikinews, without understanding it, based on Wikipedian assumptions that are nonsensical for a news wiki). The greater caveat is that "active" has different dynamics on en.wn than on en.wp and, moreover, there's a deeper notion one might call on-project reputation that has profound import on en.wn and really doesn't exist deeply on en.wp — the project structure of en.wn is tuned to collect and amplify reputation information about users, and it's clearly worth a hefty essay that I've been mulling over for years but am still not yet ready to write. Re activity itself, contributions at en.wn are by nature in larger units and therefore likely to be spaced further apart, as well as being not at all straightforwardly related to edit-count (it wouldn't be surprising to have a reporter write an article in two edits, a reviewer make twenty or thirty edits while reviewing it, and those numbers say nothing at all about who spent how much more or less effort on it). Arbs might or might not be active — as also remarked, active news production isn't part of the job description — but they've got the reputation thing.
  • In the past, the question of the value of en.wn ArbCom moving forward has been discussed by Wikinewsies of Arb-worthy repute, and one of the prevailing arguments (one of) was that in the long term, we have aspirations to grow, perhaps massively, and ArbCom is something we want to have already in place when that happens.
  • I think you're too eager to make accusations of "personal attacks".
--Pi zero (talk) 18:48, 28 June 2017 (UTC)