Wikinews talk:Proposal for wiki to develop news from embargoed material

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I generally support this[edit]

I generally support this, but I think it could use a couple clarifications:

  • Planned story. While what is a planned story. Does that include:
  • An obituary for a person who isn't dead yet
  • a base article for an election that hasn't finished yet
  • An article for a football game that hasn't happened yet

I think all of thoose are examples of planned stories that should continue to use Wikinews:Story preparation. Thoughts. Bawolff 21:58, 29 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 22:18, 29 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agreed. --Skenmy(tcw) 09:14, 30 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree, the above examples should remain in story prep. An embargoed wiki is for cases such as stories from Wikileaks where we may need to share non-free documents and prepare a story out of the public eye. --Brian McNeil / talk 09:26, 30 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Admission criteria[edit]

This proposal is very unclear. One month activity, does that mean that your first edit was one month ago, but no requirements for OR? I suggest much stricter criteria:

  • access is for administrators and accredited reporters upon their request
  • others who want access should request accreditation

Your thoughts on a compromise please. --Steven Fruitsmaak (Reply) 21:23, 30 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Agree with a stricter criteria. Only admins and accredited users. Adambro 21:31, 30 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree to an extent...there might be special circumstances...The lakota articles were a good example. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 21:54, 30 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That is locking out the wider community - thus it will probably be rejected by the board. We need to keep the wiki spirit. --Skenmy(tcw) 22:04, 30 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree...though its not like a user of one day or an anon will get access. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 22:06, 30 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I think if we're going to have anything like this it has to be fairly easy to get in. Someone who has been around for a month, and would be useful to have access should be granted. Thats not to say someone who edits once at the beginning of the month should be granted access. Common sense should be the overall rule. Bawolff 23:44, 3 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That sounds good. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 23:47, 3 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have a slightly different suggestion: make it so that access is request only, but access is granted to anyone who asks for it who has an account. But make the criteria for *banning* very low, so that even a minor infraction will get someone permanently removed. It seems to me that this would be more likely to be approved than a method that required limiting the group to a small number of select über-editors. That smacks of elitism, and could lead to abuse... or so the board will say.Gopher65talk 18:41, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Access cannot just be handed out on a silver platter to anyone who has an account though. The idea is to have trusted users have access. The information presented on this Wiki would be very sensitive, and we should not give someone access who has done little to nothing on Wikinews. I know it seems strict, but confidentiality could be at stake. We have to be the only news agency on the planet that posts stories on their website before they are even supposed to be known about. IMHO that is very bad, and unprofessional. So someone who has one edit on WN and no user page, or anything else, having access, could jepordize the future of receiving embargoed news. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 18:49, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, that's true. I just don't want to see another bad policy like the one about board voting (which I can't do because I don't make "enough" wikipedia edits... maybe I'll start making one word edits like everyone else does!), or the one to become an administrator. Linking this kind of thing to "User must have XXXX edits and YYYY account time" doesn't guarantee anything at all. All it does is cause people to spam edits. I, for instance, copyedit a page by reading the entire page and listing all the errors it has as I go along, and then fixing them all in a single edit. I've seen others who would fix those same errors one at a time. Are they deserving of access and I am not? After all, we've both done the same thing.
As for original reporting, let us say that I live in a remote area with little crime, etc (I don't, but let's say that, just for my argument's sake). No real local news to do OR on. Instead I occasionally write a well crafted article about a subject I like. Maybe only one or two such articles (again, I've never done any OR, but let's just pretend:P). Does that disqualify me from access because I haven't hit the (say) minimum of "5 published OR articles"? Perhaps I should have published more-or-less meaningless local trivia as stories? Local obituary pages for my township, or local midget league sports teams news? I'm sure everyone wants to know how the local 6 year old hockey teams are doing:P. My point is that any arbitrary increases in entrance difficulty will only hurt potential legitimate users of this feature, while doing nothing to stop someone who really wants access. They'll just spam until they meet the criteria. That's just the nature of an open project.
The purpose of locks on doors is not to make entrance difficult, but rather to make it just difficult enough to discourage random people from breaking and entering. You can never completely secure an open building, or an open project like this one. Attempting to do so is like adding additional security to airports, and making people endure additional passport checks; you don't stop the criminals, but you do manage to make life hard on normal people.Gopher65talk 19:24, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well OR doesn't mean anything. The current revised proposal does not list a requirement to have done any OR. I can understand what you mean, and I think that if someone requests, then the request should be evaluated on a case by case basis. I don't want to exclude a good contributer as yourself. That is why access needs to be looked at strictly and not be given to someone just because. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 19:28, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

per Adambro's comments[edit]


  1. User access control Managing access to this Wiki will be very difficult. Balancing the necessity for it to remain private with the desire to be as open as possible will be a constant issue. The process for granting access to users from other language Wikinews project would also be a problem. Considering that the English Wikinews accreditation process has turned into the Wikinews accreditation process, I would worry that the same would happen here resulting in users requesting access on the English Wikinews where the community is not realistically able to judge their contributions adequately.
  2. Value For any such wiki to be of any value it has to be limited to users whom which the community has build up a good level of trust. This means it would have to be taken more seriously than requests for roll back on Wikipedia. As an example I'd note that the recent instance where I'd have found such a wiki useful. An organisation emailed me an embargoed press release. If this was released relatively casually and subsequently made public this could seriously damage relations with this organisation.
  3. Content Developing stories on wiki is always preferable but where would the line be drawn? I would fear that there would be constant disputes about whether a story can or cannot be public and such discussion would not really involve the wider community.
  4. User class This would create another class of user and in doing so further alienate new users and serve to deepen any impressions of a cabal.
  5. Bureaucracy Trying to manage a private wiki, handling the requests for access and the disputes about content, would further distract Wikinews participants from writing news.

1) I disagree, in principle. The proposal needs *clear* guidelines (with community consensus) for exactly who should be granted access. 1 month with no OR? 3 months with at leats some OR? Accredited? Sysops only? This needs to be hashed out, not immediately rejected.

2) Ties in with #1.

3) I see a very clear line. Anything with information that must not be made public due to embargo or press decorum could use the wiki. Anything with no such restrictions should use Developing. It's relatively easy to distinguish this.

4) Ties in with #1.

5) Disagree. Doing sysop chores takes me away from writing news. Having to collaborate with 3 people over IRC in different private conversations takes me away from writing news. This is about refocusing back onto writing news, and giving us the ability to deal with embargoed releases in a much more efficient manner. --Skenmy(tcw) 18:39, 31 January 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We need this...What do we do now?[edit]

After all the talk from Sue of wanting to give us this, what is the news? Are we going to get one? We were already denied once, because we needed to go through "committees"...whatever that means. So what do we do now? DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 03:14, 4 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It means that we should get a community proposal together, submit it to the new ArbCom (after the election) and have the ArbCom request it from Wikimedia - that's what the English 'Pedia did for this and this. Thunderhead 05:00, 4 June 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I archived the last vote here: Wikinews:Proposal for Embargoed wiki/Vote Archive 1. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 20:16, 11 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

My opinion on the examples given[edit]

I disagree with this as we were not subject to an embargo and we should want people to copy us, it brings greater attention to what has happened. Wikinews does not aim to promote Wikinews, it aims to spread the news.
I strongly disagree with this one as the confession was already posted publicly on an opinions page so there was nothing to hide
Same as point one
If we has a put this in prepared stories and had a big notice saying the claims could be inaccurate there should not have been an issue with deletion.

Obviously this is just my opinion (which seems to differ from that of many Wikinewsies).

Also, if someone could list a case where Wikinews has been forced to not make some info public until a certain date that would probably make me consider supporting this. If this has not happened, we seem to be searching for a solution to a non existent problem. Anonymous101 (talk) 19:46, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

News agencies being "forced" via embargo into not revealing a press release is extremely common. Every second press release given out by NASA is under a time-embargo. I doubt Wikinews has ever received an embargoed document though; they don't give embargoed releases to people who are untrustworthy (as Wikinews is by its very nature).Gopher65talk 19:51, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You might want to read this. --+Deprifry+ 19:58, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I generally agree with the comments by Anonymous101, Gopher65 and Deprifry replied whilst I was writing this and I've not attempted to comment on their points. I asked DragonFire1024 who has recently been attempting to get some movement on this proposal to try to provide some examples where a private Wiki would have been useful but whilst he's done this, he hasn't explain why he thinks this is the case for these articles. Open collaboration is a core element of the Wiki concept and I think we need solid reasoning to endanger this through restrictions on access. There have been instances where it has been suggested that other news organisations have used content from developing articles. Of course whenever anything is contributed to Wikinews it is released under the CC-BY-2.5 license. As long these organisations comply with this then this shouldn't concern us any further. It is their responsibility to ensure that anything is appropriately verified but we should make this clear through the {{develop}} template. If another news organisations takes a story from us then they should be attributing us as the source and in doing so this promotes the project. If no attribution is given and the CC license violated then this is an issue for the WMF legal guys to take up I would think. Adambro (talk) 20:00, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Deprifry, I am aware of what a news embargo is. My point is that as Wikinews has never received any situations like this so this is not a problem for Wikinews. Anonymous101 (talk) 20:04, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The point is that we want to get embargoed press releases in the future, releases we're not getting at the moment for obvious reasons. --+Deprifry+ 20:09, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Are you sure we want to completely ignore the principle of openness so we can get a few news stored published a few minutes earlier? Anonymous101 (talk) 20:17, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Agree with Anonymous101. I can't say I feel that getting sent embargoed press releases is something to get too excited about, I'm sure there are many other ways we can improve our articles without having to pander to companies who wish to make the most of their press release. Adambro (talk) 20:30, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
No one is suggesting abandoning the principle of openness, the very fact that we're having this discussion attests to it. This proposal, still open to editing btw, strives to create a transparent process that moves the development of sensitive articles from cabalish backchannels like IRC or PMs into an organized environment, subject to policies created by the community. --+Deprifry+ 21:36, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Adambro its not about that and I think you are smart enough to know that. Our title is Wikinews. That is our TOP priority. If that means having a spot for organizations to open up to us to better the quality of news we write, and they OR we get then I think thats incredible. I am here to write news, specifically more OR than recycled from other agencies. And I would like to increase that material, which is best for WN. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 21:39, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Putting aside the "Wiki fact" of being open and etc etc... We are a News Agency. That is our first and foremost goal. We are the only organization, to my knowledge, that prepares stories, on an embargo, ON site. Part of the reason, as Dep pointed out, that we do not get embargoes from big names is because we are expected to put everything, embargoed or OR or prepared, on site where everyone in the world can see, defeating the entire purpose of an embargo. IRC, IMs, private messages and so on are not ways to go. We have no spot where we can collaboratively put embargoed material on and have it ready in time for publish. We are a news agency, regardless of the Wiki openness.

The examples I gave are classic examples because all of them involved sensitive material that could have stood around before we jumped on anything. Perhaps if the anonymous user confessing to the Benoit edit, had a place where he could privately communicate with us without having every tom, dick and harry looking at what he is doing, we could have had a lot more to the story. In the Bauer example, we could have don ALL that on the embargoed Wiki, and saved everyone the trouble and embarrassment of blowing the entire thing out of proportions. If you want to argue the people from the office etc having access, see the specifics section on the proposal. Another unlisted example, and a prime current one is the article I am working on regarding a certain observatory. Yes it is the job of other media to cite us, but what is to stop them from not citing us? It has happened before, and by a very big named news agency. It would not have happened, if they were not looking through our Recent Changes stealing the stuff they very well knew they had to cite.

Its not about being the first, or the earliest. Its about telling a story, we can freely work on, by means of OR and what not, without breaching an embargo, using back room talks, and without everyone reading it before its published. We need this. You don't see CNN publishing their sources on exclusives, or the AP posting drafts on Google why should we be any different? News people...News. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 21:16, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We should be different because we are a wiki that is meant to be open. We are not CNN or AP, there are plenty of sites like that. Our open model for preparation/publication of articles is what makes Wikinews different, and, IMO, better. Anonymous101 (talk) 21:21, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It makes us lacking in OR in the news department. By not having this or something similar, we are in the dark to exclusives and OR. I don't think writing recycled news all the time is going to cut it. And as long as we have the total openness, then we can't expect to get too much help or notice for great stories we otherwise don't have access to. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 21:31, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
(edit conflict twice) There is a lot there to comment on but to be brief, I think you are fundamentally wrong. We aren't a news agency first and a wiki second nor is free content something we should be sweeping aside in this misguided quest for news. The whole raison d'etre of the project is the collaborative creation of news available under a free license, in common with the other WMF projects. The core value of the WMF is free content, the work of each of the projects is just a strategy for delivering this. It is worth remembering that the failure of Wikinews would in no way endanger the work to further the values of the WMF. If DragonFire1024, or the Wikinews community as a whole can't subscribe to these values then neither will have much of a future with the Foundation in the longer term.
I am not aware of any other news organisations with have free content so deeply routed within their aims. This leads to other differences as DF notes but where we have differences this doesn't mean we should try to align ourselves with the way others work, that isn't possible, instead we should learn to face these new challenges and work within them. Copying others just makes us another news organisation. We are breaking new ground here. Adambro (talk) 21:35, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
DragonFire, the whole point of a Wikimedia wiki is total openness. Not getting better exclusives. As I have said above, we are not CNN or AP, there are plenty of sites like that. Our open model for preparation/publication of articles is what makes Wikinews different. Anonymous101 (talk) 05:25, 13 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We are here to write news. Period. Getting FREE material such as images and such is the goal of commons. OUR FIRST goal, on Wikinews, is news. The FOUNDATION'S main goal is free content, which we provide in the form of, yes you guessed right, news. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 21:41, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Jeez! It is common sense that we need a private area to allow us to accept embargoed material, stop tilting at windmills Adambro. I've phoned Darren Waters and been fobbed off because he was dealing with a "release from Whitehall that was embargoed until 6pm". I'm afraid we simply won't get these things, and we won't be publishing in a timely manner, unless we can work on the story out of the view of the general public.

I've worked on stories that have come from Wikileaks, and they frequently place a specific release date/time on them. You either ignore their embargo, or you work by emailing word or text documents around between a handful of contributors, retaining zero edit history and repeatedly having to merge changes into a document where people research different aspects in parallel. Transfer this process to a wiki that is not publicly accessible and you have all the power of MediaWiki at your disposal, and when the embargo expires the article - history and all - can be transferred over to the main site. --Brian McNeil / talk 21:42, 12 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

How is it commons sense to ignore the principles of Wikimedia when we are a Wikimedia wiki? Anonymous101 (talk) 05:28, 13 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Many governments, departments, and companies will prepare a press release or press pack in advance of an event and schedule a press conference or otherwise set a "do not publish before" date. Everything on is public, so there is no way to work on such material here. If we do not have somewhere we can work on this, and an ability to give assurances that we will not violate an embargo deadline, we will not be kept in the loop on such material. --Brian McNeil / talk 17:16, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Support from others[edit]

Here is an e-mail, detailing how Sue Gardner and Mike Godwin both support the need for such a Wiki. I quote Sue: "Just jumping in to add: Mike is correct, I believe, about the need for a non-public space for Wikinews to develop stories. During the investigative process, reporters need to explore ideas that they end up not publishing - the basic process of newsgathering requires it."

I quote Godwin: "What probably needs to happen is some kind of process in which initial versions of news stories are vetted before they're made publicly available for further editing." DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 04:44, 13 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

thoughts on revised version[edit]

I definitly think the revised version is a step in the right direction as far as this proposl goes. Some specific comments:

  • The all info is private paragraph. I think the information on the wiki should be assumed private, but it does not have to be a state secret in its entirety. (for example in some cases It probably will be perfectly alright to say - we have been collecting information about blah event on the private wiki) and again in other cases it would not be. I think exactly how much information we would leak to the world about the private wiki is a tough question, but in some cases I think some limited amount is ok, as long as everyone is crystal clear on how much.
It can be clarified to say that all info is private until released. But I am not really saying that we cannot discuss it at all. The point you bring really would not reveal any information that would jepordize an article. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 18:51, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • wmf board - board should have access. We (supposedly) trust them, and I think it would be more appropriate if they had permenant access (with that being said, they have to keep what they read to themselves). I agree with staff having access on an as-needed basis.
Maybe...I am not sure if I agree entirely. I cannot say I have a good reason but its just something IMO that makes me feel a bit uneasy...I am 50/50, but willing to compromise on it. Done DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 18:51, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • hosting stuff - at first glance i though that local uploads should be disabled, and that images should be on commons, or not at all. but at second glance what about if someone gives us a pdf that has to be private. I'm unsure on this point
Good point. If something is to remain private, then I would proceed as if we were talking to someone who wanted to remain anonymous. As we have in the past, we can always say "Wikinews has obtained..." as we are not required to release any documents etc that we receive, if requested. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 18:56, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Examples of use - sorry, but I think we need more convincing use case examples. for example The benoit article - the IP left a talk page message and left. I doubt he would have said anything more with an embargoed wiki set up, etc.
Actually as I recall, he wasn't willing to talk because people were undoubtly on the trial to finding out who he was. I think that had he had a comfortable platform to discuss the incident, it would be more likely we could have gotten something more from him/her. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 18:51, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Content expiration - I think that if any content has no activity on it for about a month (unless of course its embargoed content, and we are waiting for deadline, I'm more talking investigations) then it needs to either be deleted or transfered to wikinews. We should have no abandoned content.
I agree 100% on this. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 18:51, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Perhaps we should reiterate even more strongly how the wiki would be used only in cases where it is absolutely needed. Make sure everyone knows where not just putting your average article on there.

Just some thoughts. Overall, I like the new proposal much more then the old one (and i didn't mind the old one either) Bawolff 13:33, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree again. Thanks...benn trying my best on this. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 18:51, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Quiet collaboration versus cabal-esque back-channels[edit]

The section title should say it all, and sum up why having an embargoed wiki is a logical step in improving our access to material that is newsworthy and keeping publication timely.

At the moment the only embargoed material we get is sent to the scoop email address from Wikileaks. There is a great big banner across the top of the email highlighting a specific date and time after which a story on the item may be published. This is when Wikileaks goes public on the item, and for maximum impact they want to have other sources of news observe the same deadline. I will not go into great detail of other potential sources we could get material from, NASA has been mentioned, government departments and surveys are another, there are also generally pre-publication versions of scientific reports and surveys issued - to the press who promise to respect the publication date/time.

We are not getting this stuff. We can not get this stuff while all work is done on a wiki where anyone can read any page. We will not get this stuff unless we can show we have a mechanism to develop our story outside the public view.

Handling material we already get from Wikileaks is sub-optimal. People are sharing documents via email, passing round drafts in microsoft word documents, and there is all too frequently duplication of research. MediaWiki is the ideal piece of software to get around this and allow a small group of contributors to privately collaborate on a well-researched quality draft for transfer to a public wiki. The article need not emerge from the embargoed wiki in a complete, ready to publish form; the difference is stark. We either get that copy of a damning 500 page PDF report on global warming a week before publication and people have a chance to read it, or it gets noticed when it pops up in Google news and our coverage is shallow. --Brian McNeil / talk 17:38, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Your last point is reasonable but I certainly don't think it is a compelling reason to have a private Wiki and in so doing deviate from the general wish for openness. On the whole the main reason why organisations release embargoed press releases is not to do us a favour, it is really for their benefit. They want for their message to reach as wide an audience as possible simultaneously to maximise the impact. I can't see a really strong reason why we should sacrifice openness to help organisations with their own marketing efforts. Whilst it is nice in circumstances that you describe that we would be in a position to write a more comprehensive article I'd suggest that it would be a shame if we end up dedicating too much time to press releases by organisations intending to further their own agenda. I therefore can't say I feel that getting more embargoed press releases is particularity something to get excited about to merit a private Wiki. Adambro (talk) 18:06, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Adambro: you seem to not understand one thing: We are a news agency. We are Wikinews. If we can score an excellent OR piece with an embargoed PR or whatever then there is no reason that we should not be able to have a place to work on it. I am here t write news. And right now, not having this Wiki greatly impedes our ability to write a lot of OR. Currently our main focus is recycled news from other sources. like CNN etc. The way I see it is people are not going to read us when they can get the same exact stories on CNN. We need to focus on more OR...and right now that is below minimal because no one is willing to give us anything because we do everything and I mean everything on Wiki. If you want to talk about openness then why are you not complaining about us using "back channels" or IRC or IMs or etc??? That IMO is much worse than having the trusted contributers, who I might are still collaborating, and openly amongst themselves rather than the whole of the world and CNN and FOX and etc to see. Getting excited for OR is my goal and right now, that is very scarce. We are putting ourselves in the dark to potentially good OR and good news articles. If we cannot do good and regular OR, then what are we really doing here? DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 18:45, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"I am here t write news". Well that is great but our project is more than simply news, it is free news. If you just want to write news articles then I'm sure you'll find other opportunities to do this elsewhere but to contribute here you have to accept that Wikinews is founded on a key principle of freely licensed content. Original reporting, I would agree, is really where we should be focussing in the longer term but I disagree that a private Wiki is particularly a key element in furthering this aim. I think we should instead start by trying to better equip our contributors to carry out real life original reporting. Could we get assistance from professional journalists in learning about how to take our reporting to the next level through master classes held at Wikimania or other events for example. I think there will be many excellent ways of furthering the project, having a closed Wiki doesn't seem to me to be one of them. Adambro (talk) 19:50, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Even the board uses a private wiki, and I resent your statement to go elsewhere to write news. We write news and that is our goal. Period. It happens to be free because that is the ultimate WMF gooal...the ultimate Wikinews goal is news. We simply cannot write embargoed material on Wikinews until able to. As to professional help, talk to Sue about that...among this Wiki, we were also promised those. We have tried that. And I know you have not been around that long to know what we have tried in the past. This is a news site. Goal #1 news. If that is not something you cannot accept then perhaps, in your own words, go "elsewhere." Also realize the other main goal, under writing news, of Wikinews is that we are a citizen journalism site. Not professionals. We don't have offices and desks and can walk over to the other contributer with private information. One of the journalistic ethics is to respect privacy and anon. And by not having a place to do our embargoed material, IMO goes against that ethic. I think above all ethics, then news, are the most important goal. Sorry you cannot see past that. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 20:15, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If you wish to write news with no care for the values of the project then I would reiterate that it is you that should go elsewhere. The idea is not simply that we write news, it is that we write news within the the constraints of the core values which underpin this and every other Wikimedia Foundation project. Based upon your position it seems clear that you have your priorities wrong. I have a little experience of setting up MediaWiki websites, will you be needing any assistance in setting up your news site based upon the Wiki software? I'd be more than happy to help. Adambro (talk) 20:46, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Don't try and intimidate me or anyone else. If you don't want to follow journalistic ethics, then it is you who needs to go elsewhere. You seem to think that there will be no collaboration going on in this Wiki. You are mistaken, gravely. I call all the admins, accredited reporters and other a collaboration. I find it disturbing that you would rather use IRC and e-mails and back channels...something I am not willing to do. But since you are not going to change your mind, at all, then don't bait those who are devoted. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 21:05, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

<unindent> You two quit bitching. One, I am well aware that the reason embargoes are used is for maximum impact relating to a message. Two, we will not get good source information if we do not respect our sources and their wishes. Three, free and non-public are not mutually exclusive. With the aim of an embargoed wiki being to develop for publication here I fail to see how we are going against WMF goals. If this proposed wiki is set up as I would like to see it, the full history and all revisions would be imported to Wikinews and the work that has been carried out in private will be revealed. It is clear to me that the values of the project that this would apparently violate have not been enunciated.

Adambro, you are arguing from a position where you have apparently taken umbrage with the examples where this is claimed to have had potential usefulness, and thus dismissed the whole proposal without offering one iota of constructive criticism. You are coming across as valuing your perception of the goals and principles of the project so far above the reality of the real world that we might as well all pack up and go home.

DragonFire1024, quit the drama! Yes, news is one of the top priorities for the project. Open and free for all to edit are also high on the list of values. The Benoit story is a dreadful example of a case where an embargoed wiki would have helped us, yet you keep shrilly bringing it up. Get over the fact that Fox likely read our work in progress and failed to do us the courtesy of giving credit where due. Leave moral outrage to the fundamental Christians, it has no place in the generation of news.

Virtually every government around the globe has gentlemen's agreements with news organisations, and this is something we should be trying desperately to break into. It is a cosy little club where the health minister approves a report on HIV for publication and at the same time as it is sent to the printers, a PDF goes to trusted press people who have agreed not to publish until the day the hardcopy will be made available to the public. An embargoed wiki is the tool we need to break into that 'club' and be carrying out real original reporting on complex issues with full access to detailed source documents.

The alternative is a stark contrast to this; Wikinews learns of these documents and publications hours after they are released (at best), and it learns of them from second-hand sources who have had a week or more to analyse the aforementioned documents, decide on which items are worth focusing on, pick quotes, and consult appropriate experts. We can then either regurgitate what other media have decided is important, or we can slog through the documents and be the last to publish anything on it - having done so in a very hurried fashion.

On the basis of this argument I will be strongly advocating the setup of an embargoed wiki when I get appropriate opportunities at Wikimania. However, there are aspects of this discussion page I would be ashamed to point any of the staff or board at. --Brian McNeil / talk 22:31, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A pointed question[edit]

Assuming that this gets approved, what do we do when the security of the embargoed/private wiki gets breached? Wikileaks had no compunction with publishing deleted stories from Wikinews. Who's to say that they won't do that with the embargoed wiki? Wasn't it clear that someone with sysop privileges helped them? As far as I know, we have no way of tracing who it was. --SVTCobra 22:45, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

This is one of my main concerns but this was brushed aside with little real explanation when I put it to DragonFire1024 on IRC. There seemed to be reasonable evidence to suggest an admin had been involved in providing a deleted stories to Wikileaks and in so doing fuelling the drama at the time. This kind of behaviour cannot be tolerated. However, there is of course no way to prove who was responsible nor would there be on this proposed private Wiki which would have even more relaxed access arrangements. If we so desperately need a private Wiki in order to suddenly convince outside organisations that we can be trusted with embargoed stories then we need to be confident in our ability to control this material and organisations won't send us these stories if they don't believe we can do so. If, or it appears so, we can't trust our administrators to behave properly and not risk bringing the project into disrepute then what hope is there. Adambro (talk) 22:55, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Well like you said, we cannot prove it. So accusing administrators of misuing their powers without proof or evidence is just as bad. The point of this is to not make access relaxed. So instead of telling us why its so bad, why not give us ways to improve the proposal? DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 23:12, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It doesn't seem like there is a lack of proof that someone abused their power, there is only a complete lack of proof as to who exactly did it. --SVTCobra 23:29, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
One way or the other makes no difference. Finger pointing isn't going to change things. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 23:33, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It remains a valid question. Since we haven't identified the guilty party, they will likely be among those with access to the embargoed wiki. For all the talk, no one seems to address the question: What do we do if the embargo is breached? --SVTCobra 12:56, 15 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

<unindent> You are posing a question I do not believe can be answered until it has happened. The only consolation I can offer is that the pool of suspects will be smaller than the incident where deleted Wikinews material was passed to Wikileaks. That is a clear-cut case where there were two possibilities. Either someone - not an admin - had the deleted material in their browser cache, or an admin read the deleted contributions. Of course, the latter seems the most probably explanation. We were put in a position where we had to move on from that and drop the matter to avoid creating a negatively charged atmosphere of suspicion and lack of trust.

For much of the material that I would expect to pass through an embargoed wiki I doubt there would be the same incentive to leak. --Brian McNeil / talk 14:18, 15 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

If we are to use having a private Wiki as a way of improving our credibility then it is necessary that we think about these issues now. It won't do us any favours to turn around to an organisation and simply shrug our shoulders if information is leaked as seems to have been the general response to the deleted articles turning up on Wikileaks. It is all well and good to try to brush these kind of issues aside out of fear of increasing drama of the situation but unfortunately if these aren't dealt with then we're only setting ourselves up for a repeat of the problem in the future. I dispute DragonFire1024's suggestion that anyone is pointing fingers in discussing this issue. There certainly doesn't seem to be any real possibility of uncovering evidence to determine who was responsible in this instance but the evidence does unfortunately seem to make it likely that it was an administrator. It is right that we should try to determine the most likely source of the deleted articles so that we can minimise future risks.
We need in formulating this proposal to come up with robust measures that we can use in the event of information being made public so that if/when this occurs we can demonstrate to the relevant organisation(s) that we treat this kind of incident seriously. Now I'm afraid I can't currently think of any suggestions to deal with this issue but it is certainly something we should be considering.
Looking at the proposal in its current form, I don't think that is workable for access to be granted on a case by case basis, but I can see the merit of doing so, since surely this would require public discussions as to the nature of the private information to consider the request. However, this all comes back to the concerns I raised in January, that the creation of this Wiki would create an unnecessary burden of bureaucracy which wouldn't be outweighed by what it is we are suggested to be gaining. Adambro (talk) 15:52, 15 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Nobody is suggesting that this issue be swept under the carpet, but there is a distinctly negative air and continual reiteration of a small number of points against the proposal - with little to no constructive input from those who have concerns. Yes, some of those concerns, such as this one, are legitimate. It is certainly far easier to knock things down than to build them, let's see more effort on the latter. --Brian McNeil / talk 16:10, 15 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
There is no way to deal with it since it has not happened yet. Yes it happened here and there is nothing we can do about it. And as brian says, we are reiterating something that is done and over with. The only way to give access is on a case by case basis. We simply cannot hand out access to anyone who wants it. And we certainly cannot give access to someone who has no reason to want it. The only way to stop that is case by case. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 17:57, 15 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
You seem to miss the point. This isn't about trying to deal with an issue that hasn't happened, it is about carefully planning how we should deal with it when/if it does and what we should do to minimise the risk. As you note, this issue has caused problems here but we can't simply accept this and forget about it otherwise the risk of it reoccurring remains. We've got to try to learn from this instead of just thinking if we forget about it the problem will go away. It won't.
You also don't really address my comment about how we would handle access to this Wiki. As I've said, if we are going to grant access on a case by case basis then surely this means we'll have to discuss the nature of the associated private material in order to justify the access. This doesn't mean I think we should hand access out on the front of cereal packets though, obviously we aren't going to "hand out access to anyone who wants it". Certainly, if we can find a way to make it work, carefully limiting access to those who can justify needing it might assist in minimising the potential for leaks. My next question would be that if access is to be granted on a case by case basis would it be possible to restrict that access to the pages relevant as opposed to users being able to view anything currently hosted there which could have nothing to do with their justification for access? Adambro (talk) 18:09, 15 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The point of this would be for only those with access to view the pages. If you don't have or need access, then there is no justification to look at pages as a curiosity. Is it technically possible? I don't know.
Of course it will never go away. But the reality of the situation is that it can happen to anything we delete. If someone is watching a page before its deleted, saves material etc...well the can do that at anytime. There is no way to prevent anyone from doing that unless we drop edit histories. I don't know about you but I learned a lot from it and I am pretty sure a lot of others have too. I also never said to forget about it, but we are dwelling too deep into something over a month old and we have gotten past that. Unfortunately all we have with each other is trust. But something tells me that not every admin or contributer is responsible. Besides this is not the place to discuss that situation in depth. Discuss ways of preventing it? Sure, but that is no reason to make this discussion page about it. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 18:48, 15 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
On your first point, perhaps I caused some confusion. What I mean is that I would presume that there would be occasions when there would be multiple uses of this private Wiki ongoing at the same time but completely unrelated. I would be interested to know whether when we would grant a user access based upon their justification that we could limit them to only being able to view the pages relevant to their justification. This is rather than simply justifying access based upon one story and then being able to see all other stories currently in development.
On your last point I would agree. We don't need to discuss the Wikileaks issue too much beyond recognising that it happened and that it would be reasonable to suggest that an administrator, someone in a position of trust on Wikinews, might have been responsible. We should have discussed this issue more at the time and perhaps still should but I would agree that this isn't the right venue. The issue of edit histories and the saving of pages before they get deleted for example isn't relevant to a private wiki. We should focus on how we keep this secure and I think a robust access procedure is essential and this is what I would like to discuss. The basics of this have yet to really be pinned down I feel. For example, what process can we have for granting access that is as transparent as possible yet ensures that a proper justification is provided which would likely require discussion of the very material we're trying to keep private. Adambro (talk) 19:26, 15 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We can always elect an independent panel to monitor access. Maybe have ArbCom do that. That is about the only thing I can suggest ATM. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 19:33, 15 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
<unindent>Well I understand why your suggesting that their be per page restrictions (principle of least access). I don't think thats workable, as the point of this is to collaberate. If we set up the wiki so that only two people have access to a specific page (this is ignoring technical issues, which seem to make such a plan not work), we might as well be using "cabal-esque back channels" Well the least access prevents leaks, as less chance of a bad person getting in, it also prevents accountability, as less people can see abuse. Bawolff 19:45, 15 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

All administrators?[edit]

Are you serious? I cannot believe this proposal suggests all administrators from all Wikinews language editions should have access. This is - per the above comment - asking for the thing to leak like a sieve. --Brian McNeil / talk 22:59, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well then how do you propose we offer access then? only accredited? That is virtually only the English Wikinews. I don't mind, but we cannot have just a handful of people. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 23:09, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If this proposal happens, each language should have their own embargoed wiki, in my opinion. I cannot vouch for someone who obtained their sysop on a different language wikinews, so how could I trust them with embargoed information?--SVTCobra 23:26, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
If that's possible then great, but that would mean they have to set up their own proposal(s) and policy and etc etc. If they can do all that then I agree. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 23:28, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Also, having a difficult way of wording it...mostly because I just feel that we are starting to single out more and more people. Not that its a bad thing, but we also don't need anymore talk of this becoming some kind of secret cabal for the elite. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 23:35, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I revised that section on languages as best as I could, as well as the specifics. Feel free to reword etc. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 23:45, 14 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree with SVTCobra (talk · contribs) that if this goes through each language should/could be able to have its own embargoed wiki site. Cirt (talk) 01:50, 18 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I revised it earlier to say that. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 01:58, 18 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Okay good, thanks. Cirt (talk) 21:06, 18 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The proposal currently suggests "Permanent access will be given to no more than 5-10 contributors for maintaining the Wiki, deleting material, moving material and handling the granting and revocation of access(s)"

I think that limiting access to a specific number will create a cabal. It needs to be able to grow as Wikinews ... (hopes to grow). --SVTCobra 01:31, 18 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Agreed. Cirt (talk) 01:51, 18 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
We simply cannot have a lot people with total access all of the time. Doing so will IMO give more of the feeling of a cabal. We don't need to have everyone have access all the time. The idea is not to use it on a daily basis unless we absolutely need to. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 01:58, 18 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Requesting access[edit]

So say someone wants access, how does the procedure for requesting access work? Adambro (talk) 05:36, 18 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Post it somewhere on Wikinews, on a sub page. Since some of us including scoop get PR's or whatever that are embargoed, I imagine we will have to give reasons for wanting to use the Wiki. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 10:37, 18 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
All admins by default, I assume. This proposal needs to be completley overworked before we submit it. Thunderhead 23:48, 23 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I substantially rewrote this proposal. If we are to expect WMF to approve this, we have to have a very detailed and very strict proposal with a solid policy system. If we want to submit a small few paragraph proposal, then we can forget them even considering it. I was also told that during Wikimania, that it just needs a few more tweeking, and we can then vote. I am hoping we can do that soon. DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 00:04, 24 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


What is going on with the Proposal for Embargoed wiki at this point in time? Cirt (talk) 23:23, 2 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

See above :-} DragonFire1024 (Talk to the Dragon) 00:05, 24 August 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]