News and notes
Arabic Wikipedia gets video intros, Smithsonian gifts images, and WikiProject Conservatism scrutinized
Introductory videos to encourage Arabic Wikipedia contributions
The national program for digital content in Saudia Arabia, which was initiated by KACST, a Saudi scientific institution, produced three short videos covering an introduction to Arabic Wikipedia, how to edit an article, and how to create a new article, at lengths of 2:58, 5:03, and 3:36 minutes, respectively.
The videos, directed by Alaa Maktoum and Fuad Al-Hatlan, were produced with attractive graphics effects along with narration in Arabic, with the aim of encouraging more contributions to the Arabic Wikipedia. Arabic has hundreds of millions of native speakers and spans more than a dozen countries, underscoring the importance of this Wikimedia Foundation project.
The videos have been advertised on the top banner of the Arabic Wikipedia for the past two weeks, and have attracted more than 60,000 viewers on YouTube. The three videos were also uploaded on Commons, and are planned to be included within the welcome message for new registered users.
Smithsonian Institution's first donation to Commons
The Smithsonian Castle doorway at the Institution's headquarters. The Smithsonian is a leading American cultural organisation, established by Congress in 1846 as an independent body.
In a press release, the Smithsonian Institution announced that the Archives of American Art has contributed 285 digitized photographs from the Federal Art Project’s Photographic Division collection to Wikimedia Commons. Most of the pictures are from 1935 to 1942, the active years of the Federal Art Project.
While the Archives have been previously made available on its website, the release notes that: "this is the first time that high-resolution scans have been made available for unrestricted use by the public". Liza Kirwin, acting director of the Archives said, "By placing these images in the Wikimedia Commons we hope to foster online learning and discovery and to promote an open exchange of ideas about the history of American art. We are delighted to be the Smithsonian’s first contributor to Wikimedia."
The donation comes in the wake of a residence at the Archives during the summer of 2011 by Wikipedian Sarah Stierch (see Signpost coverage), who expressed her hope that this will be "the first of many from the Smithsonian.”
In the first MfD of its kind, an active WikiProject was nominated for deletion last week. The debate, the largest in bytes since the deletion of a user's cache of evidence against others two months ago, has just been closed as "keep".
The nomination cited problems of scope as the justification for deletion, arguing that 'the terms "conservative" and "conservatism" have been used to describe people and concepts which have flip-flopped over time between liberal and conservative'; however, concerns over bias soon surfaced and appear to be at the root of the deletion request. The WikiProject publishes a newsletter by the name of "The Right Stuff", and some of the project's members indicated a desire to counter liberal bias in Wikipedia. One editor wrote on the signup page that he was joining for the purpose of "enlightening conservative people & topics in a world darkening with liberalism".
WikiProject Conservatism is one of a number of WikiProjects covering specific ideologies, where most of the people interested enough to join will be of that persuasion; one member of WikiProject Socialism signed up because they were "interested in spreading awareness", WikiProject Feminism is listed as a step forward for feminism on the Internet by the Geek Feminism Wiki and one of the official userboxes of WikiProject Atheism features the Invisible Pink Unicorn, a satire of theist beliefs.
In the end, the project was overwhelmingly kept, with most of the keep votes addressing the first reason for deletion. It was pointed out other WikiProjects with similarly broad scopes are functioning, such as WikiProject Medicine. The issue of bias was mostly sidestepped with the critics of the WikiProject being directed to dispute resolution processes. Some had already tried such avenues, though; a request for arbitration had been submitted the day before the MfD but was declined by a significant margin; arbitrator Newyorkbrad declared "obvious decline, as there's no evidence of any attempt at prior dispute resolution of any nature. In fact, there's no evidence of a specific dispute, defined as one user telling another that he or she disagrees with something, even existing."
It is unclear whether the dispute is over, but Lionelt, the project's founder, will continue to stand in its adamant defense, offering on the project's talkpage a toast to its members for their perseverance, prefaced by a public address:
I would like to express my appreciation and gratitude to the Community for their support of this amazing and special group of editors. The attempt to delete the project has been soundly and decisively defeated. The consensus is that the members have accorded themselves with honor and integrity according to Wikipedia policies. The consensus is that charges of activism, advocacy, and vote-stacking are baseless and without merit. The future of this project is secure. It has been said that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. This assault on the project will indeed strengthen us. I urge every member to rededicate themselves to collaboratively working together to improve conservatism-related articles.
Strident discussion of the meaning of the MfD and the future direction of the project continues on the talkpage.
- WMF September report published: The latest report contains highlights on the Public Policy Initiative and Global Education Program.
- Wikipedia and medicine workshop: Wikimedia Canada, as part of the Global Education Program and in collaboration with the Medical Education Unit of University College of Medical Sciences of India, will hold a half-day workshop to discuss the significance of Wikipedia in medicine. The workshop will take place in New Delhi on 1 November.
- WikipediaWeekly revived: The Signpost is pleased to welcome the long-awaited return of the Wikipedia Weekly to the Wikipedia mediasphere with their 89th episode, described as "our first non-Wikimania roundtable podcast for two years" and devoted to this month's strike of the Italian Wikipedia (see Signpost coverage). Sadly, the podcast's website appears down at the time of writing (update: available now, via archive.org, see link here.), and irreverent sister project Not The Wikipedia Weekly has been off the airwaves since its 51st episode in March 2009.
- Ada Lovelace Award unveiled: WikiProject Women's History have adopted the Ada Lovelace Award for recognising contributions to content relating to women and technology. The award incorporates an image (see right) of British technologist Ada Lovelace that was donated by the Ada Initiative, a non-profit of congruent goals to the WikiProject.
- Milestones: The Kazakh and Belarusian/Taraškievica Wikipedia projects reached milestones recently, with 80,000 and 40,000 articles respectively. Mediawiki meanwhile passed 100,000 code commits.
- New administrators: The Signpost welcomes our latest addition to the ranks of administrators, Redrose64, whose request closed successfully last Friday. A contributor most notably of content related to British rail, Redrose64 has indicated their intent to focus on working with protected templates and the deletion processes as a sysop. At the time of writing, the open request of Swarm looks likely to succeed, with a ratio of 96:1 supportive to opposing comments.