Wikipedia:Village pump (idea lab)

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The idea lab section of the village pump is a place where new ideas or suggestions on general Wikipedia issues can be incubated, for later submission for consensus discussion at Village pump (proposals). Try to be creative and positive when commenting on ideas.
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Time to revisit schools?[edit]

This was an interesting discussion to review with good points raised on both sides. The outcome is not to proceed to a Wikipedia-wide RfC about our usual practice regarding secondary schools, but Risker's point that secondary schools' articles attract defamatory remarks and other content that violates our BLP principles is well made and I think it probably deserves more attention than it has received so far. I have personally observed extremely clear and troubling BLP violations in school articles, on occasion, and these have been the cause of most of my communications with oversighters over the years. Some schoolkids are not above accusing their teachers of all kinds of things in Wikipedia articles. Enough said.

Still, secondary schools are a sacred cow on Wikipedia and it would take a Wikipedia-wide RfC to change that. I can see no consensus to begin such a RfC in the discussion below.

I hope this helps.—S Marshall T/C 11:56, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

I am getting seriously tired of all the, to be extremely blunt, crappy articles about this or that college, that because of the near automatic presumption of notability are littering Wikipedia. It's becoming rare for me to get through a single page of new articles on NPP without running into one or more of them. They are often completely unsourced and highly promotional. Even the one's that do have some sources, are often so poor and or obviously promotional that they would get nuked in an AfD discussion if the topic was anything other than schools. WHY ARE SCHOOLS A SACRED COW ON WIKIPEDIA?

I am considering putting up a proposal to require that all schools and colleges be subject to the exact same standards as any other topic, specifically significant coverage in multiple reliable sources to be considered notable. -Ad Orientem (talk) 16:02, 13 June 2014 (UTC)

It sounds like you need to take a break. You yourself could look for sources. For current schools there are almost always plenty of sources around, but they may be newspapers in languages that you don't know. However there could be lots of "colleges" which are just some private training company set up recently, without notability. These are the kind of article that should not have the presumption of notability. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 22:08, 13 June 2014 (UTC)
I think you are missing the point. As long as it can be established that a college exists, and that it's not a degree mill or something similar, then it is de-facto notable, extensive RS coverage or no. I also don't think it's right to attempt to shift the burden for hunting down sources on editors who are dong NPP, though I don't mind a little here and there in most cases. But there is a widespread pattern of abuse going on with way too many school related articles that would in the normal course of things, not even come close to meeting our notability standards getting what amounts to a free pass. So I will ask the question again... Why are schools a sacred cow on Wikipedia? -Ad Orientem (talk) 00:43, 14 June 2014 (UTC)
Because otherwise we will spend half our time at AfD debating the intricacies of just what sources are sufficiently "substantial" and "reliable", and will probably end up debating this not just for all the secondary school and colleges, but all the primary schools. Depending on whether you want to keep them or not, it is possible to interpret the sourcing requirements of the GNG to produce any wanted result for almost all articles of this nature. The current system is not, as you seem to think, an inclusive rule only, it is equally an exclusive rule, for not giving articles to primary schools, of which there are many times the number compared to secondary schools. The probable accuracy or even repeatability of our AfD determinations back 7 years ago was about 80% at most, meaning that almost any school could be removed after 4 or 5 afds, & those who wanted to avoid school articles did just such nominations. Simultaneously, those who wanted to keep the articles spent most of their time here on finding recondite secondary sources,which in general are available for most primary as well as secondary schools if you look hard enough, though it can take hours. And what's the point of it all? If, like now, we cover about 20 or 30% of secondary schools that would have trouble passing the GNG interpreted rigidly, WP is not paper; if we merge all the primary schools into the school districts as at present, the key links for the information are still available.
What we can not accommodate is wasting the energy of all of us interested in notability, inclusionist-minded and exculsionist-minded both, at these afds, when there are so many really harmful articles, especially promotional articles and poorly sourced BLPs, that we need to remove. It's a matter of practicality, not of principle.
The real problem here , is that similar decision points would be useful for many other types of articles, particularly those subject to WP:LOCAL. where the same ambiguity of the detailed specifications of the GNG can yield any wanted result. (And again, with almost random results, except when do we have such convenient cut off points as local or state branches of national organizations.) DGG ( talk ) 02:35, 14 June 2014 (UTC)
  • I'ld say, keep the policy for real schools and colleges, but make it clear that this policy does not apply to those wannabe commercial 'colleges' those are nothing more than fronts for paid training programs. (i.e. any organization can call itself a 'college', but only include for our policy those that fit the traditional description of a college. ) However, based on CSD criteria, we should also delete all articles that are blatant promotion and advertisement (G11. Unambiguous advertising or promotion), or are largely copied from the college's website or informational material (G12. Unambiguous copyright infringement). @Ad Orientem, perhaps that addresses your major concerns? Darx9url (talk) 00:53, 15 June 2014 (UTC)
  • I agree with the sentiment behind the proposal, at least to a degree, in that a locale shouldn't be made continuously more granular by breaking out articles about other items within the locale unless there is substantial reliable material and independent notability. For schools we seem to have moved too far away from this and now presume that they all justify an independent article. Some of the school articles have no more sources available than my local bus stop does - a primary source website and a couple of minor mentions in the local press when a bus broke down there. I think WP:NSCHOOL should have a line added, based on WP:NSONG, along the lines of "Notability aside, a standalone article is only appropriate when there is enough material to warrant a reasonably detailed article; articles unlikely ever to grow beyond stubs should be merged to articles about the town or locale." QuiteUnusual (talk) 09:26, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
  • I agree with Ad Orientem that this is out of control for new articles. We need to remove the exception to db-A7 to solve the initial filtering issue. Nothing else has exemption so why should schools be any different? I don't get the concept of why if a college/high school exists it is somehow automatically notable. This does not apply to any other type of building so its anomalous to say the least. That's the CSD part.
As for Afd, DGG is spot on about the wasted energy. Everytime a nomination in this category comes up (with the exception of primary schools, which are thankfully under control with the redirect concensus), the discussion seems to involve once more explaining to people how the GNG overrides essays like SCHOOLOUTCOMES and why all educational institutions are not automatically notable. IMHO we need to tighten up NSCHOOL and remove the presumption of automatic notability. However, if we institute criteria based on article size using QuiteUnusual's nifty bus stop analogy, I can see people simply falling back on WP:DEADLINE. "It might be long enough one day..." What we need are better guidelines.  Philg88 talk 10:02, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
  • It's all volunteer work and while Wikipedia attempts to be encyclopedic, the only people researching such schools are likely going to people who either already went there, are going there, or are planning on enrolling there, it's not as if the low-quality information people provide is going to be used in anything scholarly or, well, serious. If the subject matter were serious, I'd say we need to be more proactive in eliminating low-quality pages which might very well be nothing short of promotion or propaganda, but it sounds like what you're evaluating is pretty uninportant. I'd say there's no problem that needs to be addressed, just a desire for better quality which is difficult to achieve since we're all volunteers. Damotclese (talk) 16:56, 17 June 2014 (UTC)
  • You know, it's all well and good to have this "standard" to which DGG refers, and I see his point about how it would be a time sink; however, this "notability standard" put into place well before the BLP policy really took hold. Almost without exception, the high school articles are huge magnets for BLP violations, and most of them really are only notable locally. I think perhaps it's time to start considering whether it's useful to have thousands of articles nobody's really watching on (at best) borderline notable subjects that are used as attack vectors against individual high school students, teachers and principals. Risker (talk) 00:20, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
Risker risker, I understand your argument, but the more notable they are, the more of a magnet, because they;ll be the larger schools with the more students, and thus the more prospective potential abusive editors. We should be able to deal with this in other ways, like an edit filter. DGG ( talk ) 01:11, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
One might think, DGG, but my experience is that it is the high schools with under 1200 students, often in small communities/suburbs or rural areas, that experience the greatest level of vandalism, sometimes to the level that suppression is needed. (As a matter of course, if I need to suppress edits to a school article, I automatically apply a one-year semi-protection, since by the time the oversighters are called in, there is usually months worth of nastiness.) A lot of these schools would barely pass GNG, if that; all of their coverage is local (and usually sports-related), they usually have no notable alumni, and most of their information comes from the school website, schoolboard website, and the results of statewide tests if applicable. This is the reality for the majority of high schools in North America: they're no more notable than grade schools. But they get a lot more vandalism and revenge editing, almost all of it BLP-related. Risker (talk) 03:44, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
  • For what it's worth, my personal view is that the great majority of schools covered by Wikipedia are not in any way notable. Please note that I am in the UK and will choose my examples accordingly; it should be obvious that the same concepts can be applied elsewhere.
My reasoning is this: (to a first approximation) we regard a person as notable if they have accomplished something that makes them stand out from the crowd; in the same way, we might therefore regard a school as notable if it has accomplished something that makes it significantly different from the vast mass of schools. Thus, we might regard a school as notable if it educates a disproportionately large number of UK cabinet ministers or has produced an astonishing number of child/teenage entertainers and self-publicists in a short time. There's clearly something going on with these schools that make them different from the norm. We would not, however, regard a school as notable if it has done nothing of any significance other than be rated poorly in government assessments. It's not difficult to find serious references - books, newspaper articles, and so on - that ask questions like "Is Eton too influential in British society?" and "Why does the Harrodian School produce so many YouTubers?" (Answer: a drama club that aims at the Edinburgh Fringe, apparently!), but the references for what we might, in a better Wikipedia, call non-notable schools are generally restricted to local newspapers and government lists ("a comprehensive list of comprehensives"!).
The problem is driven by several factors, none easy to change. First, there are always going to be people who don't like the idea that their school wasn't notable. Second, there is the general problem of Wiki-notability, which is prepared to accept very poor references, most of which prove existence rather than notability. Third, I took the liberty of reviewing some schools AfD debates from the archives. It's easy to see that there was/is a clear clique of Wikipedians who took the general view that all schools are notable, and a rather larger clique who took the somewhat less extreme position that all secondary schools are notable. From what I can work out, this view was taken for two main reasons, which, paraphrased, are: one, that schools are notable in their own communities, and, two, that it was judgmental, unfair, or otherwise invidious to ascribe notability to some schools but not to others. It's not obvious to me that these contributors formed a majority of Wikipedia's editors, but they certainly formed a majority in AfD debates, which in any case are biased towards retention. It's a cliché that a small determined group can accomplish its aim when it is opposed by a larger but less generally determined one, and this appears to be what has happened with schools: enough precedents have been set that secondary schools, at least, are now automatically notable.
I feel that in a perfect world we would not have so many schools in Wikipedia, but I find it useful to think in terms of a heresy: Wikipedia isn't a real encyclopedia. It's an immensely useful resource, and if I need information about a particular manga character or disused railway station it's ideal, but it certainly isn't definitive. A "real" encyclopedia aspires to reliable coverage of significant matters, but this isn't what happens here. Although I haven't any idea of the statistics, I'd guess we have many more editors fascinated by pokemons, Star Wars and the Hunger Games than by point-set topology, monocotyledons and Akkadians. We do not apply any judgment about what matters and what does not. In this, we are not like a "real" (or, if you prefer, "traditional") encyclopedia. We are inclusive and non-judgmental. In this, we are simply reflecting the way our society behaves. Similarly, again like larger society, we do not distinguish between verifiable truth and matters of opinion. (I recently found an edit to an article that mentioned cheese-eating etiquette; its source was a blog, but I quickly found that journalists and bloggers had copied the Wikipedia article, sometimes word-for-word, so it's only a matter of time before we have a "reliable source" for this nonsense!) Further, I'm not a particularly hard-core editor, but even I've seen plenty of articles that have been swamped by biased contributors, or deleted because this or that claque disapproved, or (worse) not deleted because nobody has assessed the article. The vastness of Wikipedia makes it inevitable that individual articles will contain errors, and the best we can do is to fight the continual battle against those. And, as has been remarked above, it's probably better to focus on improving the important articles, and leave the articles on non-notable topics to those who care about them.
I suppose what I'm trying to say is that whilst I feel you're right, it's a battle that's already been lost. The schools articles are here, they're mostly out of date and they're mostly about non-notable subjects, but they're here and we have to live with it. From time to time I amuse myself by going through a school article, updating the name of the head teacher, and correcting the spelling mistakes, but there's not much else that can be done.
On the plus side, it's nice to know that there are other people who share my reservations about our schools articles. On the minus side, the precedent is clear, and I think we just have to live with it. I think we probably help Wikipedia most by working on the areas where we can make a positive contribution. RomanSpa (talk) 12:00, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
@RomanSpa... That is a very good and thoughtful post that touches on some of the concerns I have had. One possible, and admittedly imperfect, solution to the question of all the already existing articles is to just give them some sort of limited pass if we decide to tighten the standards. For instance, we might say that any articles about a high school or secondary school created before the revised guidelines come into effect are exempt, provided they cite at least one reliable source. -Ad Orientem (talk) 14:29, 27 June 2014 (UTC)
I see your reasoning, I think, but I'm not comfortable with the arbitrariness. It seems odd that of two otherwise almost identical schools, one might have a Wikipedia article and the other not, just because one was started before some arbitrary date while the other was started later. It also doesn't solve the problem of all the existing non-notable schools. One option that I've pondered in the past would imitate the real world like this: in my parents' house there are a huge number of books, more or less arranged by subject, including two book-cases that together form what might be called the "reference section". There is, of course, a full set of the Encyclopedia Britannica, but next to it there are a whole lot of other reference works, including the usual dictionaries and atlases and what-have-you. There are also a large number of directories, including a large and tastefully-bound directory of all the private schools in the UK (dated back several decades!), and assorted directories of specialist institutions, including university and college guides. Of course, such a directory would be impossible to compile and physically publish these days, as there are so many schools, and a satisfactory directory would have to cover both state-run and private schools, at all levels, and (in an international context) all countries. Ideally such a directory would compile all kinds of information about every school in the world, and would be readily searchable. Such a project is obviously much better suited to the web than to physical publication, and the creation of a single point of information on schools would clearly benefit students, parents and teachers. By making it possible to explore and compare schools, the subjects they teach, and their relative successes both academic and pastoral, it might even make a positive contribution to education generally. It's obvious that the commercial case for such a directory is not particularly strong, so a volunteer-based approach might be useful. We might therefore imagine the "Wiki-schools directory". Its core would be our existing schools articles (we would retain information on clearly notable schools in Wikipedia, but "locally notable" schools would move), but with suitable support it would be possible to supply the directory with mirrors of regular Wikipedia articles on the practical aspects of education. The directory would focus on applicable information, so articles on educational theories and research would not be mirrored, or would be mirrored in précis form only. It should also be possible to mirror schools-related news from Wikinews. The directory would apply the same standards of verifiability and lack of bias as Wikipedia, which we could guarantee by making a commitment that any disgreements in these areas would be adjudicated through normal Wikipedia processing, probably by the same administrators. This would give the directory the imprimatur of Wikipedia, and give confidence to its readers. The same basic look and software would of course be used. What do you think? RomanSpa (talk) 06:54, 28 June 2014 (UTC)
Unfortunately I think your suggestion would run afoul of WP:NOTDIRECTORY. Trying to fix a major flaw in the notability guidelines would be tough enough. Trying also to change WP:NOT, which is an actual policy, I think would be on the same level as trying to pass a constitutional amendment. As for granting a limited pass to the bad articles already existing, there is precedent for this. When the RS requirement was added to WP:BLP already existing articles were grandfathered. As much as I would prefer to be able to slowly get rid of the plethora of bad articles, I think that from both a practical and, to be crass, a political perspective, it is unlikely we would get any consensus in favor of tightening standards that left open the possibility of flooding AfD with all of the old articles. Again it's not ideal. But it may be the best we can hope for given the strong retentionist sentiment. And alas I see no perfect solution that doesn't involve a time machine. -Ad Orientem (talk) 12:53, 28 June 2014 (UTC)
I think you may have slightly misunderstood my suggestion: I'm not suggesting that we create a directory within Wikipedia, and I would have no intention of trying to change WP:NOTDIRECTORY. Rather, I'm suggesting an entirely separate project under the Wikimedia Foundation. For example, we well as our "not a directory" policy we also have WP:NOTDICTIONARY. And yet we have Wiktionary. In the same way, I see no reason why we shouldn't have "WikiSchools". As it happens, one of the arguments that's historically been used in AfD debates about schools is WP:NOTDIRECTORY. Current policy on primary schools has the effect of often making the page about the city in which the primary school is located into a directory of local primary schools anyway! My key point, though, is that the majority of school articles would no longer be part of Wikipedia. We would "boldly" put them all in the new project. No existing work would be lost, but it would be moved to a project explicitly dedicated to schools. RomanSpa (talk) 15:28, 28 June 2014 (UTC)
There's a lot of good points here. For some time I've had it in the back of my mind that a new project was needed to absorb items like this. Perhaps something along the lines of WikiGazetteer? Matt Deres (talk) 14:16, 29 June 2014 (UTC)
It might well be possible to apply similar thinking to other aspects of Wikipedia. RomanSpa (talk) 16:54, 29 June 2014 (UTC)
@RomanSpa. I'm not sure there is sufficient interest in a new WMF-backed entity. The gain that would be achieved — inclusion of elementary schools, removal of the weakest high school articles from En-WP — would be offset by the loss of good high school articles and the lack of ability to integrate high school articles into biographies, which is actually one of the main rationales for the status quo at AfD. A truly comprehensive biography will include the name of a high school, but not names of elementary schools, and these links should be blue, not red. This totally dodges the issue of where one is going to find sufficient volunteers to police one of the highest vandalism topics out there... I don't see any huge problem with the current system, as I noted above it amounts to two simple rules that every New Page Patroller could learn in about 60 seconds and would never forget, and it saves AfD from a monstrous mess of never-ending notability challenges and defenses. Things could be worse than the current system, for sure. I think in a huge RFC the status quo would be sustained. I support it. Carrite (talk) 15:23, 4 July 2014 (UTC)
Lots of food for thought in the last few comments. I think the next question is where do we go from here? -Ad Orientem (talk) 17:07, 29 June 2014 (UTC)
I agree that we do need some threshold for inclusion of schools. I'm tired of the logic "most secondary schools have notable alumni, so they're notable, but now since most secondary schools are notable, all of them should be, and we need to keep every article on every school ever". Jackmcbarn (talk) 18:10, 29 June 2014 (UTC)

Time to start working on a concrete proposal? May I suggest that we begin working on something we can submit as an actual proposal. Bearing in mind that there will likely be vigorous resistance from retentionist quarters to any attempt to tighten standards, I will start the ball rolling with this...

Draft Proposal[edit]

  1. Effective thirty days from the adoption of this proposal, all new articles relating to schools, including High Schools and Secondary Schools shall be subject to the notability guidelines contained in the GNG.
  2. Articles about High Schools and Secondary Schools created prior to the effective date of the above amendment to notability guidelines shall be exempt, provided that on the effective date of the new guidelines the article cites at least one reliable source. Articles about schools that fail to cite any reliable sources on the effective date shall be subject to the provisions of the GNG and may be nominated for deletion via PROD and or AfD.
  3. Articles about schools created after the effective date may be nominated for speedy deletion if they meet the criteria in CSD A-7.
  4. With due regard for the provisions of Not a Directory, active consideration be given to the creation of a directory for educational institutions, separate and independent of Wikipedia, to which articles that do not meet GNG but which may nonetheless be of interest to some readers, may be migrated.
Note: The above is off the top of my head. Feel free to amend, comment, rant, praise, throw flowers or rotten vegetables in my direction etc... -Ad Orientem (talk) 18:47, 29 June 2014 (UTC)
@Ad Orientem: I like 1 and 3, I think 4 should go, and I think 2 should be changed to this: "Articles about High Schools and Secondary Schools created prior to the effective date of the above amendment to notability guidelines shall be exempt, provided that the article cites at least one reliable source independent of the school. Articles about schools that fail to cite any independent reliable sources shall be subject to the provisions of the GNG and may be nominated for deletion via PROD and or AfD." (so lose the stuff about effective date, and require the source to be independent). Jackmcbarn (talk) 18:58, 29 June 2014 (UTC)
Comment: I expect that anything with a deadline will lead to the creation of a vast number of schools articles before the deadline expires, of course. As for the draft proposal itself, I'm still thinking about it. Whatever is proposed, I'd prefer that there has been substantial nemawashi in advance. Ideally, consensus should be as broad as possible. RomanSpa (talk) 12:43, 30 June 2014 (UTC)
I concur which is why I am trying to get as much input here before I move anything over to the Proposal forum. The only thing I have a really strong conviction on, is that the current approach to notability for schools is far too permissive and we need to tighten up standards. Everything beyond that is details, and I am pretty flexible there. -Ad Orientem (talk) 13:10, 30 June 2014 (UTC)
What if the deadline were put in the past, say on June 13th, the day this thread first started? Jackmcbarn (talk) 15:49, 30 June 2014 (UTC)
I suspect there will be opposition if some sort of ex-post facto protection is not included. But again I am not stuck on details. My main objective is to tighten the standards. At the risk of sounding crassly political, where we set the "effective date" is not of great importance to me. I will go with whatever date is likely to garner the most support !votes. -Ad Orientem (talk) 15:55, 30 June 2014 (UTC)
Have there been previous attempts to do anything like this? If so, how did they do? I'd be reluctant to waste people's time if something like this comes up every six months, and always meets a substantial consensus against change. RomanSpa (talk) 16:30, 30 June 2014 (UTC)
@RomanSpa: I believe the topic has come up before, but not in quite some time. As for my opinion, I suspect that the vast majority of secondary schools and universities are notable, but I don't like the idea of giving them a free pass. I personally would support this proposal in its current form as I suspect it would lead to more high quality articles on schools. I disagree with the idea of including item #2 though. I suspect that this will cause more problems than it will solve, though it might, in the end, be needed to get something like this to garner enough support. Zell Faze (talk) 18:47, 30 June 2014 (UTC)

All you really need is verifiability and accuracy of an article. If a school only has its own website, you simply wouldn't be able to write an accurate verifiable article about it.

In my view, there is no need to waste time writing notability guidelines. Gryllida (talk) 23:19, 30 June 2014 (UTC)

Notability guidelines are necessary because Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information. -Ad Orientem (talk) 02:12, 1 July 2014 (UTC)
In some cases, content is verifiable and accurate but too abstract (too separated from the world) to include it. Then there are no references supporting its connection with the world. When such references exist, I call such property of an article as realistic. Most often, if you can write a verifiable and accurate article, it is also realistic (connected to reality: contains a reception, criticisms, or awards section; or simply a fair amount of third-party references and information scattered throughout the article). People tend to say that it is "not notable" for:
  • things they can't accurately and verifiably write about (99%)
  • the minority of cases when it is accurate and verifiable but there is no relation to something from the outside (<1%)
Again, I don't think notability guidelines are necessary for either of these two cases. It is pretty simple to establish whether an article is (i) accurate/verifiable and (ii) realistic — using reading comprehension. Such guidelines may ease such routine work, but they should not be used as a rejection or deletion criteria; instead, the contributors should be told which one of the two above points is the case. --Gryllida (talk) 10:41, 1 July 2014 (UTC)
Perhaps a sensible thing to do is to think about what would be useful for our readers. Do they expect to find all their local schools in Wikipedia, or just those that are "locally notable", or only those that are "notable within a country"? And what kind of information are they seeking? Are they just checking the alumni list, or are they looking for the school's sporting rivalries, or do they want information on the school's teachers and academic performance, or what? I feel that any proposal that doesn't clearly improve the existing reader experience may struggle to gain support, which is part of why I feel there's some advantage to the idea of a separate "directory of schools" (as mentioned in point 4 above). I have the sense that editors who have a genuine interest in providing a useful resource for our readers might find this a reasonable path to take, while editors who have simply adopted the position that "all schools are notable" as a sort of fixed political and philosophical principle would presumably resist any change for purely dogmatic reasons. My question, I suppose, is: Can this change be made in such a way that it helps our readers better? If there are clear, positive advantages to a proposal, it is more likely to gain support, and if it addresses concerns about "notability" along the way, that's a nice additional benefit. A proposal that simply seeks to address the "notability for schools" question on its own, but provides nothing else, seems to me to be less likely to gain broad support.
I notice that input to this discussion has been sought at Wikipedia:WikiProject_Schools. I'd particularly like to hear what experts in this area have to say. In particular, within WikiProject_Schools would there be support for a directory-like project under the aegis of the WMF?
RomanSpa (talk) 12:28, 1 July 2014 (UTC)
Schools are currently subject to WP:ORG, which is more specific than the GNG. Unfortunately, editors have interpreted this as meaning that if any two newspapers write about any game(s) played by the school's sports team(s), then the school is notable (even though said articles rarely mention anything about the school itself beyond its location). These are independent WP:PRIMARYNEWS stories, but nobody enforces the requirement for true secondary sources at AFDs for organizations (or people—for people, especially in the case of academics, we're still trying to convince the AFD crowd that the person's own webpage on their employer's website is not an independent source). WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:03, 2 July 2014 (UTC)
Actually, in practice at AfD GNG trumps more restrictive Special Notability Guidelines in almost every case (one exception being Unelected Politicians, who are subjected to a SNG "high bar"). As for schools, actual practice is not documented in the guidelines. I wouldn't mind an RfC that codifies what we've already been doing for years... Carrite (talk) 16:25, 3 July 2014 (UTC) Last edit: Carrite (talk) 16:27, 3 July 2014 (UTC)
  • The Draft Proposal is bureaucratic rule creep and runs contrary to the well established consensus at AFD: That articles about high schools and colleges of confirmed existence are presumed notable per se and that articles about elementary schools are made into redirects to their school district or city unless exceptionally noteworthy. How much easier could things be at New Page Patrol than this? So you don't like bad schools starter articles? Skip them at NPP. Quite Easily Done. Carrite (talk) 16:21, 3 July 2014 (UTC)
    • I think "consensus" is not stagnant and that there are quite a few editors who are not happy with the flood of dubious school articles that have been given a pass. -Ad Orientem (talk) 16:28, 3 July 2014 (UTC)
The consensus is solidly established at AfD. Look at it this way: the consensus is a compromise between those in Project:Schools who might want an article about every school — including elementary schools — worldwide, and those whom, like yourself, seek a more restricted set of schools articles. You think school article content is bad now? Just open the door to every elementary school with three mentions in the local newspaper to a pass through GNG and get back to me on that! Just look at the article: if it's grades 10-12 or a college, flag it if necessary and pass it through; if it's lower grades, don't be afraid to make a bold redirect out of it. In the long run, shitty articles improve. Just because you see them in their first state doesn't mean that's the way things end up... The current system is simple for NPP volunteers, simple for AfD volunteers, and is a very rational compromise between inclusionists and deletionists... Carrite (talk) 16:38, 3 July 2014 (UTC)
It's not that consensus is solidly established. It's that there's a guideline that says to keep them, and nobody is willing to deviate from them in an AfD. Jackmcbarn (talk) 15:26, 4 July 2014 (UTC)

Apologies I have been somewhat distracted of late and this discussion fell off my radar. I am not sure how often this has been raised here or elsewhere. That needs to be looked into as suggested. As much as I disagree with the current guidelines, I don't want to waste everyone's time by revising a subject that may have been addressed in the recent past. -Ad Orientem (talk) 14:22, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

My position has long been that specific notability guidelines (Schools, PROF, etc.) should serve as effective heuristics for when a subject would likely meet the GNG after a concerted search. Where they are effective, we should keep the specific guideline. Where they aren't we should (I realize there's no consensus for this, but whatever) direct the specific notability guideline directly to the trash and rely on the GNG. In this case if your argument is that the de facto notability guideline for schools (which is to say that secondary and post secondary schools in anglophone countries are automatically notable) isn't a good proxy for the GNG, your proposal should simply be to implement the GNG. No additional bullet points are needed.

In a practical sense, we don't delete articles on schools for 3 reasons, 2 of which are widely admitted and one of which is a nasty secret (:P). First, schools do tend to be notable, in the main. Secondary and post-secondary schools are usually the subject of some articles somewhere, even if they aren't easily found online. We have enough articles on schools and have had enough deletion debates about schools to build strong priors about the existence of sourcing. This speaks directly to my heuristic statement above. Second, people like writing about schools. "But Protonk," you interject, "people like writing about bands and we delete them all the same! WP:OSE, BBQ, BSG, etc." While it's true that reader/editor interest doesn't speak to policy, we should all kinda be aware that readers write articles. Rejecting wholesale reader interest should be done only if we have a pretty good reason for it and shouldn't be done if we can find even one decent argument against it. Third, we have a bias toward schools, colleges and other nominally "non-profit" ventures. We don't see them as agents acting in their own interest, rather they're semi-public pieces of the civic landscape. A small high school with about as much sourcing as an equally sized silicon valley startup will not get the same negative attention because we're not on the lookout for the school's self-promotion. Your high school has bricks and teachers? Good enough for us. Your company has an office and employees? Piss off until the Times reports on it. I'm not saying we need to upend that tradition (attempting to do so would be even more fruitless than making notability sensible!), but we should be aware it exists. What I would suggest is that we start thinking about schools (especially post-secondary schools) as agents who will act in their own interest, often inflating their importance beyond what can be supported by sourcing.

All that said, I doubt this is going anywhere (no offense intended Ad Orientem), as it is fighting against years of tradition and for the most part our heuristic basically works. Protonk (talk) 14:41, 17 July 2014 (UTC

Protonk and DGG have acurately summed up what is generally acdepted for schools, so it is unlikey that any discussions in the fnear uture are going to get things changed. Kudpung กุดผึ้ง (talk) 07:52, 22 July 2014 (UTC)

After some considerable thought I have reached a few conclusions. First, I remain unconvinced by the various arguments in favor of the existing guideline which I strongly disagree with. Secondly, I believe there are a not insignificant number of editors who feel similarly. Third, the numbers who want to see the guideline reformed are not sufficient to establish a consensus. In situations like this, the status quo almost always wins by default. And since I am not a fan of tilting at windmills I am disinclined to pursue this further. I will instead take the advice offered above and just decline to review or edit articles on schools. If a serious reform proposal ever makes it into an appropriate forum I would of course give it every consideration. -Ad Orientem (talk) 00:27, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Automatically redirect titles with a missing parenthesis[edit]

There is a problem with disambiguation pages that have parentheses in the article titles that results from several softwares not recognizing a link that ends with ")". For example, if you copy the link to the page Georgia (country) in an instant-messaging software, it will result in the link not working due to the IM program leaving the last parenthesis out. Some editors have acknowledged this, and thus a redirect exists at Georgia (country.

Apparently Firefox browser (or Windows 7) fixes this because if I copy the article title from the browser bar it results in an ASCII link: "Georgia_%28country%29". But it still a problem with direct copy&paste, atleast I remember several times clicking a link that's not working due to that.

I think it would be a bit too excessive to create redirects like "Georgia (country" for every page. Would it be possible to somehow make Wikipedia automatically redirect to the right page? I'm pretty sure there's only a handful of articles that actually need only one parenthesis, like the article "(" itself. --Pudeo' 00:05, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

I suggested this in 2007, bugzilla:11056, but it sounds like fixing it is more complicated than we both expected. :( It might be worth discussing further, I'm not sure. (Note: There are further problems with links in IRC, where some programs will cut off the URL before the opening "(", but that's probably a separate issue.) Quiddity (talk) 19:41, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
OK, thanks for the heads up. That bugzilla report had a response: "An automatic check may sound cute, but would conflict if you actually wanted the title without the closing parenthesis." Isn't the number of pages that actually end with "(" (and thus would conflict with the automatic check) really limited though, and we could single-them out from the database? But I suppose it can be problematic indeed, then. --Pudeo' 22:26, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
Or, titles without the closing parenthesis can override the automatic redirect. Zhaofeng Li [talk... contribs...] 23:59, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
What about a routine that only kicked in if the page was not found? Then those rquesting articles with deliberately mismatched brackets would never encounter it. I have never run across this bug - I'm a Firefox user. —Anne Delong (talk) 03:39, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
Add to that any article ending in punctuation to make it complete. Agathoclea (talk) 12:42, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
Indeed. I've been experimenting with punctuation at my sandbox, and in test emails, and trying to determine the extent of the problem (number of affected articles) via some searches in Quarry. I'll followup at that bug, when I know more for sure. Quiddity (talk) 19:54, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Create a BOT to alphabetize and organize categories automatically[edit]

As someone who has been doing this manually for years, I hereby dutifully beg of anyone who is technically proficient and knows how to create and run a bot that will:

  1. Automatically sort all Categories on each article and category page alphabetically;
  2. Create a uniform system for where to place categories on each article and category page that commence with numbers, such as years of birth/death, centuries, and any category that starts with a number/numeral.

Please see the centralized discussion at Wikipedia:Bot requests/Archive 61#Create a BOT to alphabetize and organize categories automatically. Thank you, IZAK (talk) 09:13, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

Discussion re-opened at VPP[edit]

Please see Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)#Create a BOT to alphabetize and organize categories automatically. Thank you, IZAK (talk) 22:50, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

Tech help required to improve categories[edit]

Please see Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)#CatVisor and User:Paradoctor/CatVisor#Planned features if you are willing and able to assist this innovative WP project move along it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, IZAK (talk) 23:34, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Alternative to right to be forgotten[edit]

More essential than the right to be forgotten is the right to reply, to have your vision known. If there would be a separate space where everybody who feels the information on a page is not fair to him could have the possibility to explain his point of view, two other problems may be contained.

- Sensorship as a result of the right to be forgotten.

- People editing pages about themself.

And it could increace accuracy of the main page as authors take in to account that point of view. Controversial articles that talk about (political) issues where many people feel involved may have to be excluded.

A personnel reply could also be something like: I admid I was wrong there, but it was 10 years ago. I didn't know what I know now. Look what I did after that.

Hopefully courts would take into account the existance of that possiblilty in individual cases when somebody tries to force the right to be forgotten. And if so also the search site committee will be less inclined to approuve a request if that possibility exists. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:26, 9 August 2014 (UTC)

If you're discussing anything other than the normal Talk page process, that's a horribly unencyclopedic suggestion and you may as well consider it rejected out of hand. Wikipedia is not a collector of public apologies. --erachima talk 11:03, 9 August 2014 (UTC)

You are on such a page expressing such opinions as you edit this page, and your anonymity, at least as far as your IP number, is totally preserved. Yes we have that policy already! Obviously, however, you have some deeper concerns of a legal nature which you have not explained here. ~ R.T.G 02:37, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Cast lists[edit]

I don't know whether I need to make a proposal for this idea but I would like some feedback first before I start applying it to articles. There may be some objection that I haven't thought of, or there may be a better way to implement it. I think that cast lists for films etc. could be presented similarly to the way it's done when the credits roll up at the end of a production. It would look like this:

Character      Played by
Joseph Bloggs      Harold Axtoe
Jimmy the Spiv      Michael Tysoff
Christine Jones      Charles another actor
Any comments will be gratefully received

Jodosma (talk) 13:03, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Do i understand you correctly that the gist of your suggestion, compared to how the cast is covered in, say, Gone with the Wind or The Third Man is a change in layout? I don't see the benefit to the encyclopedia. Huon (talk) 21:17, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
I just think it looks better and is clearer to read. Also it would provide a method to make the layout of such lists consistent throughout the encyclopedia. Jodosma (talk) 07:50, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Sounds like something to propose and discuss at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Film, since the relevant guideline for this material is their WP:CASTLIST. DMacks (talk) 07:54, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
I may do that. Another point I forgot to emphasise is that there is no consistency with small lists like these; there are many different ways in which they are presented and consistency is surely something to be desired. Jodosma (talk) 08:04, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Honestly, I don't see any advantage in this. Why is this better than a normal list? Why is this better than a table without all the deprecated "align" BS? Why should cast lists follow the formatting of the credit roll? —Farix (t | c) 12:06, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
What is "normal"? I have explained, haven't I, that there is no normal (i.e. consistency) on this wiki, and that what I'm looking for is consistency, i.e., presenting similar things in the same way to the reader, not the editor. I'm getting sick and tired of people who think that Wikipedia is for it's own editors and not for the readers. Jodosma (talk) 18:25, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Is there really a need for consistency here? So long as the information is presented in an easy to read and easy to maintain list, there shouldn't be a problem. The reader isn't going to be confused by different articles using different formats to list the cast. Consistency for the sake of consistency is no virtue. And it prevents editors from experiment with formats on how best to present that information. —Farix (t | c) 22:24, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
The list based methods tend to scale to large lists, if you had a large list with this format it would not scale well to multi-columns and could lead to excessive vertical scrolling, especially on wide monitors. — xaosflux Talk 00:58, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for all the input. I'll forget about the idea for now. Incidentally I didn't realise that "align" was deprecated, seems quite useful in some situations. Jodosma (talk) 07:15, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Infoboxes, templates instead of free-form text for hatnotes, standardized font sizes for section headings, we could go on and on. All contribute to a consistent look and feel that increases the reader's comfort level. The consistency is enforced by the software rather than depending on the editors' compliance with some guideline that they might not even be aware of. I'm not prepared to speak to the overall merit of a "cast list" template, but it seems wrong to dismiss it as "consistency for the sake of consistency". As with any template, it could be designed so as to provide support for any reasonable situation or requirement. {{Reflist}} is a comparable example.   Mandruss |talk  18:28, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

It's time to discuss this...[edit]

due to two recent incidents involving the editors Bulletrajabc (see this discussion) and Gnuuu (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log) (see that editor's contributions) in as many days I feel that it is time that we discuss the possibility of changing the right of an editor to move pages after 4 days and 10 edits. I feel that this is far too low, and has been seen recently, is ripe to be taken advantage of. My idea would be to make it a 30 day/500 edit restriction, OR (my preference) make it like the rollback right - "if you don't have it, you can't do it" sort of thing. I know and accept the fact that Wikipedia is an "open" wiki, but I think the time has come to put more restrictions in place for the good of the project.   ArcAngel   (talk) ) 09:25, 14 August 2014 (UTC)

I have an idea that could help achieve great things for conservation & the environment - but I need someone to help me with the proposal and technical side[edit]

Hi there

I have always been interested in animal welfare and environmental safe guards but have recently become more involved especially on facebook.

I have noticed that there are so many different groups/charities set up for animal welfare and against animal cruelty and trophy hunting etc that no cohesive action is being taken as people are so fragmented. Also many of the public have lost faith in donating to charity due to bogus charities being set up to extort money and some charities having hidden agendas (like a well known animal charity being founded by and supporting trophy hunters)

Being independent and transparent I think wiki is the ideal vehicle for my idea. It's to set up a wikiplanet. To record all the environmental groups, animals groups, charities etc - what they do, if poss the percentage of money raised that goes to cause, contact details, interested journalists, relevant news articles, interested politicians, interested Lawyers, interested ecologists, interested philanthropists etc etc.

People could then ideally be able to cross reference information to properly show global trends, contact relevant groups and hopefully by sharing information get the silent majority to see the facts and hopefully stop being silent.

Getting this information out there would mean eg people fighting trophy hunting in Zimbabwe could contact all anti-trophy hunting groups, all Zimbabwe animal groups, could contact world elephant groups, world rhino groups, world big cat groups, could maybe find a interested journalist, lawyer, donor.

You already publish lists of charitable organisations and animal rights charities etc (

I do not suggest you promote any charities but simply produce a list and add extra information in a way that people can use it to search and cross reference.

And to be fair I would suggest you produce a complete list by providing information on all animal/ eco groups eg some Animal Conservation groups are pro-hunting. So add them to the list but answer about all groups Do you support/denounce trophy hunting?

The big picture is if this information were available and provided by an independent source like Wiki it could literally help people to change the world for the better.

Yours sincerely

Helen Timson

Much of this information is already available within individual articles. If you are proposing a wiki dedicated to this purpose (i.e., as you call it "WikiPlanet") then the correct place to make his suggestion is here. QuiteUnusual (talk) 14:55, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
Hello Helen Timson, this page is for discussing rules and regulations, however, if you have a specific list in mind that is noteworthy, such as a list of noteworthy anti hunting groups, please go ahead and create the page in the same style as the list of animal rights groups you referenced, or if you think that is a bit difficult, try navigating through the "Community Portal" on the left hand side of the Wikipedia page to Requested Pages/Articles and follow the instructions. (to create a page your self you will have to make an account and log in, or you'll have to request someone to do it, which I can do if you have the list to hand, just ask my talk page, but items with lesser notability will be deleted form the list at random because that's just how Wikipedia is kept in trim)
Alternatively, if what you want to do is create a website with a wiki program on it, please refer to Mediawiki, which is the home site for the software this site runs on. This software is completely free for any purpose, and though somewhat complicated, it is well documented and updated and should become intuitive for you through use. In fact, many service internet providers who host websites will offer to pre install wiki software free and it can be edited to look however and contain whatever you want. Best of luck.. ~ R.T.G 02:29, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Create "hoax investigations"[edit]

I want to create "hoax investigations". I think it will reduce the length of the lifetime of Wikipedia hoaxes.--S/s/a/z-1/2 (talk) 08:19, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

We've already got WP:NPP. If they couldn't pick up on the fakery, how are you going to? Pound random and google every article? --erachima talk08:31, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
No. We won't do this for any article unless an editor believes that the article is a hoax. --S/s/a/z-1/2 (talk) 11:09, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, not seeing the value here. If you want to watch AfD for articles with suspected WP:V issues go ahead, but the lack of any proactive aspect to your plan means that it's definitionally incapable of "reducing the lifetime of Wikipedia hoaxes." --erachima talk 11:19, 17 August 2014 (UTC)
  • A new board does absolutely nothing without a new set of policies and procedures. A wikiproject, on the other hand, has a chance at some success by at least bringing together hoax-hunting editors to share strategies and coördinate investigations. VanIsaacWScont 18:17, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

Locking topics without prose that are guarunteed not to change very often[edit]

If a list isn't going to change for a very long time, or some other lengthy information, like a list of international dialling codes, the full text of a constitution etc.. that information can be written into the mainspace on a blank article, and let's say the otherwise blank article is called "X", well if you put x in brackets thus {{X}} on a page called "Y", the contents of the page "X" will appear as though it had been edited into the source of page "Y", but in fact page x could be locked elsewhere requiring a request to edit, while any required accompanying text could still be edited on page "Y" normally.

I do not know what this proposal is called in concise terms so I do not know how to search for it in existing policy or proposals, but as regards this, if those people who thought the barcode had changed found that it wasn't possible to edit, they'd have gone to the talk page where they'd have received education and no edit warring on the main space would have occurred at all, so let's do thet. Yeah it's definitely good practice and if it already exists as policy please someone tell me that policy for some reference, thankyou ~ R.T.G 02:12, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Like the list on Inclosure_Act. Couldn't that list be locked with the creative aspect remaining open? Shouldn't the list be locked with the rest of the writing remaining open? Actually, the method is called transcluding the text and the, variable?, is {{:page x}} for "Page x" content to be transcluded.
The sort of edit warring this guideline would avoid peaks at the most critical times, i.e. when a rumour floats up. There could be a template for the talk page of a page which only function is to be transcluded into another page. ~ R.T.G 19:37, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

"Read Later" Feature for the Mobile Application[edit]

I've just discoverd the Village Pump, and I believe this to be a good place to voice my idea...

I read mobile wikipedia a lot for entertainment. Since the mobile application doesn't have tabs, I can't open links to other articles without leaving the one I was reading. This can be an issue when I'm reading a large article with links to other large articles which I wish to read (or need to read to understand the content of the current article) and soon enough I'm 12 articles deep and I can't remember which one I started on.

I was wondering, would it be possible to implement the ability for a user to long-press a link, have a drop down menu open with an option to "Read Later" (And maybe even have another Save Page option for easy access, along with the option in the corner dropdown menu) which would then save the link to a list, accessible from a menu similar to the Saved Pages?

It would differ from the Save Page option by not requiring the user to be on the specific article to be saved, and not download the content itself, only the link. It would be similar to the Watch Later playlists on youtube. Smortypi (talk) 18:06, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Hi Smortypi,
Thanks for posting this idea. I need to know how you are reading Wikipedia. Are you using your normal web browser on your mobile device, or are you using the Wikipedia mobile app? Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 21:26, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
I'm using the Wikipedia Mobile app for Android. I hope I'm doing all of this right. If not, you have my sincerest apologies. Smortypi (talk) 00:44, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
Maybe you could add them to your watchlist in the mean time ~ R.T.G 06:25, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
Sounds like a suitable workaround for me. Thanks for the idea. Smortypi (talk) 13:27, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply, Smortypi. User:DGarry (WMF) is the product manager for the mobile app on Android. I'm sure he'll be interested in your suggestion when he sees it.
The watchlist workaround won't work for minority of users who have large watchlists for editing, but it's a clever workaround for most people. Also, I wonder whether "Read Later" could/should download the page for reading offline? (That might not be such a good idea if you have limited space on your device, but it might be nice if you're filling your list of things to read when you'll be away from your normal internet connection.) What do you think? Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 21:16, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
The watchlist is working in a pinch but it's a bit clunky to navigate, not to mention it can't be accessed from the mobile app to the best of my knowledge. To me, it sounds like Read Later and saved pages go hand in hand. But like you said, due to storage constraints and the like for some users, it might be best to keep them two separate selections. I'm thinking that Read Later could be more of a bookmark system to complement the saved pages option rather than an extension of the latter. I'm not sure, I'm on the fence on whether it should download the pages or not. It seems like it's the kind of thing where the best solution will become apparent after implementing and testing it out. Smortypi (talk) 23:25, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

Hello Smortypi. Thanks for the suggestion! Given that we have the saved pages feature, which does everything that your suggestion does except it also saves the pages for offline reading, I think adding a read later feature would clutter the app up unnecessarily since we'd also have to add menu options for it. It would also take development effort that's better spent elsewhere right now. I'd suggest simply using the saved pages feature for what you're asking. In terms of your request to be able to save pages without going to them first by long-pressing the link, I think that'a an awesome idea, and I've filed a bug for it which you can view at bugzilla:69930. Given the other work we've got on our plate right now we can't really prioritise this given that there's a workaround available (i.e. actually going to the page), but your request is now recorded and hopefully we'll be able to pick it up some time. Thanks! --Dan Garry, Wikimedia Foundation (talk) 00:03, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

You're right, it would over-clutter things, and the more I think about it, the more I realize that the long press function to save the pages would solve my problem which is all I really need. It's not too much of a hassle to remove read saved pages. Thanks a lot for this; it's gonna make browsing even better than before (and a lot more efficient for me, too!) Smortypi (talk) 00:31, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

Community desysop process[edit]

Why, yes, I do know how many times this has been proposed. And how many times it's failed. I'ma try anyway. User:Writ_Keeper/Community_desysop_process is where it's at. Comments/concerns/feedback welcome! (preferably on the talk page) Writ Keeper  20:57, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

It is hard to read due to very long paragraphs that cover more than one idea at a time. I am reading it though. Chillum 21:14, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
I never said I was a writer. Writ Keeper  21:19, 21 August 2014 (UTC)