Board resolutions on controversial content and images of identifiable people
Last week, the Wikimedia Foundation's Board of Trustees published its long awaited resolution on controversial content, accompanied by a Resolution on images of identifiable people. Last year, controversies about sexual images on Commons had prompted the Foundation to hire a consultant to provide a report on controversial content and make recommendations, which were presented to the Board at its October meeting (see the summary of events in the Signpost's "2010 in review"). One of the recommendations is likely to become the most visible outcome of the process: The implementation of a "personal image hiding feature that will enable readers to easily hide images hosted on the projects that they do not wish to view" (Signpost coverage of the design mockup for this feature: "'Personal image filter' to offer the ability to hide sexual or violent media"). According to the Board's minutes, this aspect was "discussed at length, as the most complex proposed outcome of the working group". In connection with this personal filter, the resolution also mentions the "principle of least astonishment for the reader", which has in the past been invoked in such controversies (cf. Signpost coverage: "Explicit image featured on German Wikipedia's main page"), and which the Harris report had recommended to be elevated to policy status as a fundamental principle governing relationships with readers.
One participant in the Foundation-l discussion about the announcement on Foundation-l conjectured that the other resolution, about images of identifiable people, will be the more consequential, requiring "considerably more self-examination on the part of every project that hosts or uses images".
The Wikimedia Foundation has announced an interdisciplinary team of eight researchers (most of them Ph.D. students) who from June to August will be working "on a wide-ranging set of questions that address vital issues of openness and participation in Wikipedia". Led by the Community Department, the questions they will address include:
The efforts will build on preliminary research conducted recently and covered earlier in The Signpost. Quantitative studies will use the Wikilytics software developed for the Foundation's Editor Trends Study.
(See also earlier Signpost coverage: Foundation's Community Department searching for "storyteller" and summer research fellows)
Editing Workshop revives Wikipedia in indigenous language
Four of the students at the workshop, with the main page of the Northern Sami Wikipedia in the background
In a workshop held by the Norwegian Wikimedia chapter on 28 and 29 May, eight women from the indigenous Sami people were trained in editing Wikipedia by seven experienced Wikipedia volunteers. The event is credited with reviving activity on the Northern Sami Wikipedia (se.wikipedia.org) which, according to User:Ulflarsen, was "for all practical purposes dormant", having seen only about two to four edits a day in the lead-up to the workshop, most of them from bots (cf. project statistics). At the moment, it contains around 3600 articles; the language has about 20,000 speakers. The event was funded from a grant of 350,000 Norwegian kroner – around $65,000 or €45,000 – that Wikimedia Norge had received from the Sametinget (Sami Parliament of Norway) in two tranches since 2009 (original press release), which until now had remained largely unspent. Larsen told The Signpost that the grant enabled him to travel to Kautokeino (one of the cultural centers of the Sami area) to connect with the Sami community, and hold a one-day workshop in April. The recent workshop in Oslo was covered by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (Google Translate). Jarle Vines (User:Jarvin, head of Wikimedia Norway) said it is the most encouraging event he had attended for years within the Wikimedia movement.
- Good article monthly roundup: This May, the number of good articles crossed the 12,000 mark. However, the monthly increase of 181 GAs was the smallest since July 2010, and was fewer than half the rise achieved in March. The number of articles awaiting review has risen to 380, with a backlog dating to March in some categories. A shortage of reviewers, and fatigue from a backlog reduction drive earlier this year, have been blamed for the current slow progress. Reviewers are urgently sought, particularly for the lengthy queue of music articles and in connection with a university assignment project on several sociology topics.
- Image donation: As announced by Kippelboy, the Biblioteca Museu Víctor Balaguer, a library and museum near Barcelona, will upload images of its art collection to Wikimedia Commons. It includes many paintings from the 19th and 20th century.
Participants at the British Library Editathon
- British Library Editathon: On 4 June, as part of the GLAM-Wiki partnership with the British Library, Wikipedians, curators, researchers, authors and even a few American graduate students on a study abroad trip participated in the second Editathon at the British Library (see the Signpost coverage and the event page of the first British Library Editathon). The day was sponsored by the English and Drama Department, and focused on early fantasy and fictional worlds, international modern poets and Victorian authors, resulting in the creation of and improvement of related articles, new images, and audio files on Commons, and new content on Wikisource (results and more pictures are at the event page on Wikimedia UK's webpage). Wikipedians received guided tours of the British Library's Science Fiction exhibit "Out of this world" by the specialist curator who researched the exhibition, and were given opportunities to have a personal hands-on with original rare books and manuscripts, including those of works by Oscar Wilde and Dickens. Richard Power (User:Helical gear), one of the representatives from the British Library, said the "achievements of the day are to be determined in the long term". The Editathon also spawned ideas for future events with the British Library and several image requests.
- Epilogue to Houellebecq plagiarism affair: In 2010, French writer Michel Houellebecq was found to have copied three passages in his novel La Carte et le territoire almost verbatim from the French Wikipedia (see Signpost coverage: "Houellebecq defends himself against charges of Wikipedia plagiarism", "Houellebecq copyleft controversy"). Last month, Wikimedia France announced that its efforts to convince the book's publisher Flammarion to comply with Wikipedia's CC-BY-SA license at least in the new ebook edition of the novel had been partially successful – Wikipedia is now named in the acknowledgments in the following form: "I also thank Wikipedia (http://fr.wikipedia.org) and its contributors, whose notes I have sometimes used as a source of inspiration, notably those about the housefly, the town of Beauvais and about Frédéric Nihous". However, the French chapter's request to identify these passages precisely by page numbers was not honored. A headline on French IT news Numerama site read "Wikipedia acknowledged, but not sourced".
Participants of the Dharwad workshop
- Kannada workshop: Indian Wikipedian HPN has written a report on a Wikipedia workshop in Dharwad, attended by 51 people. It was the first ever such event to have been held in the Southern Indian area of North Karnataka and was conducted entirely in the Kannada language. He called the number of women participants "encouraging".
- Chief Technical Officer to leave Wikimedia Foundation: Danese Cooper has announced her departure as the CTO of the Foundation; see this week's "Technology report" for details.
- New administrator. January (nom), from the UK, has gained expertise in copyright issues on the English Wikipedia. She intends to contribute as an admin to speedy deletion, usernames for administrator attention (dealing mainly with promotional usernames, the most frequently reported problem) and copyright problems. January also contributes to WP:BLP issues, non-free content evaluation, and sockpuppetry investigation.