News and notes
Canadian political edits, Swedish royal wedding, Italian "right of reply" bill, Chapter reports
Controversial edits from Canadian ministry
The Helmet-Mounted Display System developed for the F-35 Lightning II
, an aircraft whose article has reportedly been edited against policy from government computers
The Toronto-based National Post has claimed that it has evidence that Defence Department computers in Ottawa are being used to "vandalize information on a Wikipedia site critical of the Conservative government's decision to spend billions on a new stealth fighter." This comes less than three weeks after The Signpost reported allegations in the British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph that Members of Parliament were removing evidence of scandals they had been involved in from their Wikipedia articles.
The National Post reported that nine attempts were made to alter Wikipedia's article on the Joint Strike Fighter (Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II), "including the removal of any information that was critical of the Harper government's plan to spend at least $16 billion on the new fighter aircraft. Defence Department computers were also used to insert insults, aimed at Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, into the Wikipedia Joint Strike Fighter page. Ignatieff has questioned the proposed purchase."
It also reported that Wikipedia "traced the alterations to three computers owned by Defence Research and Development Canada's Ottawa offices." It was reported that a "spokesman for Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) said the attempts to alter the Wikipedia page were not part of a concerted effort to stifle debate on the proposed JSF purchase but inappropriate use of government computers by, as yet, an unidentified individual or individuals." Martin Champoux, DRDC's manager of public affairs, "said reminders will be sent to employees about government regulations regarding personal computer use."
An examination by The Signpost confirmed that an IP removed content, claiming in the edit summary that the information removed was "irrelevent [sic] and political and is inconsistent with entries for other countries that all have similar politics associated to the purchase". The edit was reverted, and the IP told to gain consensus on the article's talk page. The same IP then removed content multiple times (here, here, here, here, here). Then the same IP appeared to change tactic, introducing biased content (here) and attacking opposition Liberal Party Leader Michael Ignatieff (here). The article was then semi-protected.
The IP address is registered to Canadian Department of National Defence, and has now been blocked "for a short time".
Wikimedians accredited as photographers at royal wedding
On June 19, the wedding of Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, and Daniel Westling drew half a million visitors to Stockholm, Sweden. Among the roughly 2,300 accredited media representatives covering the events were two Wikimedians, whose accreditation had been obtained with help from the Swedish and German Wikimedia chapters. One of them, User:Prolineserver, last week described his experience in a blog post (in German) for Wikimedia Deutschland. Apart from the royal family, the events presented opportunities for portraying the guests of honor, who numbered more than a thousand. Some of these guests still await identification on the photographs now at Commons. Apart from the two accredited Wikimedians, other users took pictures; according to Wikimedia Sverige "at least 10 persons have uploaded 277 photos and videos to Commons". The GLAMorous tool shows that many photos from the wedding are already in use on several Wikipedias, and received a significant number of page views in June alone.
Proposed Italian "right of reply" law seen as threat to Wikipedia
In a recent press release (English version), Wikimedia Italia voiced strong concerns about a bill that was being discussed before the Italian Chamber of Deputies, having already been approved by the Senate. According to the Italian chapter, the bill would extend a stringent right of reply to all websites, imposing restrictions they believe "will damage the Italian participation to the Internet and especially Wikipedia".
||Based on the current formulation of the bill, rectifications are compulsory and non-commentable. Anybody who considers that his dignity is being damaged by any information (even if true) presented in the encyclopedia would have the right to get that information adjusted according to his wish.
Rectifications have 'to be published within forty-eight hours from the request, with the same graphical layout, the same accessibility and the same visibility of the news they refer to', and without any further comments, on penalty of a fine between 7,500 and 12,500 euros [$9,750–$16,250]. This has two main effects. First, the encyclopedia could possibly not ensure a neutral point of view, because it would have to include unmodifiable, uncommentable opinions even in absence of a reliable source, in opposition to verifiable facts. In addition, since Wikipedia has no editorial board, it would be impossible for any single person to ensure timely publication of the rectification, so that the bill would expose Wikipedia and its users to the risk of strong economic penalties.
As noted a few days later by Wikimedia Italia, the vote on the bill appears to have been postponed until September.
Wikimedia chapter reports
Last month, three English-language chapter reports were released, in which Wikimedia chapters across the globe describe their recent activities.
Wikimedia Germany's "Zedler-Medaille"
Wikimedians at the Italian chapter started their "Wikimedia News" bulletin with an editorial describing the results of a survey on what readers think of Wikimedia Italia. The organization will soon open its own office in Rome, thanks to an "agreement between the Department of Culture of the Municipality of Rome, the Libraries of the City of Rome and the association Liber Liber". Apart from "video editing, e-book digitizing/layout and audio editing for the creation of audiobooks", the location will be used "to host civil service volunteers and interns, to organize courses and cultural events, in collaboration with the adjacent library "Vaccheria Nardi", which has large rooms with multimedia stations, area conferences, and of course reading rooms (the structure as a whole has three buildings)".
Wikimedia Sverige (Wikimedia Sweden) announced in their June 2010 report that they have sponsored a photohunt in the middle of Sweden (Bergslagssafari). Thus far, this has resulted in the uploading of pictures to Commons and media attention. Planning has begun for a similar event in the south of Sweden in September.
Wikimedia Deutschland's monthly Chapter Report for June 2010 mentioned preparations for a new phase of its school project, which educates pupils about the proper use of Wikipedia. The report described the Chapter's support for digitization projects on Wikisource, and mentioned discussions about its "community budget" and various political activities. Preparations for the Wikipedia academy, which will be held in November 2010, are taking shape. The main context of this year's event is the Year of Science 2010 "Future of Energy". At the event, the "Zedler-Medaille" (Zedler Medal) for a high-quality encyclopedia article in German will be awarded for the fourth time. This is a collaboration of Wikimedia Deutschland with an academic publisher and a scholarly society.
- On Meta, discussion has been ongoing about a proposal to set up a global "Dispute resolution committee" (formerly proposed as "Global Arbitration Committee"). The discussion is focusing on how to choose the members of this new body.
- Erik Zachte, the Foundation's Data Analyst, has presented Wikistats reports on article revert trends on his blog.
- Jimmy Wales is to give a keynote address to the World Capital Markets Symposium 2010, September 27–28, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, described as "an initiative by the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC)". According to a press release (published on ABN Newswire) he "will join policy-makers and financial industry experts in sharing their thoughts at the symposium, with the theme 'Transforming capital markets: leadership, change and governance'" and "share his vision, perspectives and insights by drawing from lessons of Wikipedia and on the democratization of information and knowledge and how to use or impart them responsibly especially in the fast-evolving financial and capital markets".
- Staff at Wikia have described some of the processes involved in the company's current drive to improve the user experience on its site. One result from user behavior analysis was that "Search, Random Page, and Recent Changes are the most frequently clicked links across all [of Wikia's] 130,000 wikis". (Some of Wikia's past efforts to make MediaWiki more usable have also informed Wikimedia's developers, such as this).