News and notes
ArbCom nominations open, participation grants finalized, survey results on perceptions on Wikipedia released
Call for candidates in the ArbCom elections
Nominations for the ninth annual elections to the Arbitration Committee have now opened, and will remain so for approximately a week (closing 23:59 UTC Monday, 21 November). Any editor is eligible to run as a candidate provided they meet the requirements for voters (at least 150 mainspace edits with their registered account by 1 November 2011), are in good standing and not subject to active blocks or site-bans, meet the Wikimedia Foundation's criteria for access to non-public data, and are prepared to identify to the Foundation if elected, and disclose any alternate accounts (barring those which have been declared to the Arbitration Committee prior to the close of nominations) in their nomination statements. At the time of writing, four eligible candidates have stepped forward, two of whom have served multiple terms on the Committee: AGK, Coren, Hersfold, and Kirill Lokshin.
The elections are run by the community independent of the Committee and its clerks; editors interested in helping to organise the elections are encouraged to sign up as volunteer coordinators. Election pages have been created, incorporating nomination statements, a guide to the candidates, questions for those running, links to individual voter guides and discussion pages. The 10-day nomination period (12–21 November) will be followed by five "fallow" days (up from two last year) to ensure all election pages are complete and accurate, to configure the SecurePoll voting interface, and to allow voters additional time to research, discuss and pose questions to candidates.
The voting period will last 14 days (27 November – 10 December), up from 10 days last year. The vote will then be audited for up to a week by independent scrutineers drawn from the ranks of non-native stewards, to ensure the election is free of double-voting, sockpuppetting, and other irregularities. The results will be announced on the election page. Jimbo Wales is expected to ceremonially announce the appointments shortly after.
A well-attended community RfC established the Committee's numbers as 15 (down from 18 in 2011 and 2010), with a uniform two-year term for incoming arbitrators. Due to an extraordinary last-minute motion by the Committee to remove a sitting arbitrator, Iridescent, for inactivity, eight arbitrators are due to continue their service in 2012 without re-election. Seven vacant seats are expected to be filled by this year's election, with terms starting on 1 January 2012.
The RfC determined that the minimum level of support necessary for a successful candidacy will be 50%, and that a shortfall in successful candidacies would be acceptable, opening the door to the possibility that the Committee will begin the new year with fewer than 15 arbitrators. Another conclusion of the RfC was that that unlike last year's election, there will be no limit on the number of questions voters may ask of candidates (although replying is not mandatory), and that any serious voter guide will merit inclusion in the election navigational template.
The Arbitration Committee is a critical institution of the English Wikipedia; experienced and committed editors are urged to seriously consider standing for election.
Wikimedia Participation Grants finalized
Asaf Bartov, head of Global South Relationships, announced the finalization of a Wikimedia Participation Grants Program this week. In his post, Bartov explained that "Wikipedians can often make additional progress toward our vision of free knowledge freely available for everyone in the world, by participating in physical meetings, events, or conferences. Such participation often entails travel costs, and sometimes accommodation, visa, and other costs too. These costs are often prohibitively expensive for a volunteer’s personal budget, who is already donating valuable time and effort."
The new program, funded jointly by the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia Germany (see the German chapter's post), aims to alleviate this cost by providing Participation Grants for community members to "cover travel, accommodation, registration, and other costs associated with participating in an event or activity, in furtherance of the Wikimedia Mission." Other self-sustaining Wikimedia chapters (ie. not funded by the Foundation) are also invited to contribute to the community "pool."
This program is similar to the general grant program, which funded 44 projects in 2010–2011 totaling $300,000. To receive a Community Grant, members must apply at Grants:Participation by creating a subpage with a description of their planned participation, background information about themselves, and the expected impact of their participation. The submissions are evaluated on a weekly basis by a special committee; in addition to the open process outlined on the page, participants must also send an e-mail to participation at wikimedia dot org with their full legal name. If their request is accepted, participants are also expected to write an open report describing their experiences with the program. A list of current and closed requests, from when the process was still in the works, can be found here.
Reader survey results on article quality released
Quality Perception Indexes (or QPI) for several countries, as well as the overall average
In a continuation of its analysis of this year's Readers Survey, the Wikimedia Foundation has posted its results on reader perceptions of quality on Wikipedia. The overall quality of Wikipedia was graded based on five individual measures on a 10-point scale:
- Trustworthiness: Wikipedia scored an overall 7.54, with Mexico (8.13), India (8.09), the United States (8.02), Egypt (7.94), and Germany (7.89) leading in front. Results from most European countries, however, were unfavorable.
- Comprehensiveness: Wikipedia averaged 7.77, with the highest numbers coming from the United States (8.39), Mexico (8.35), and Brazil (8.27), and the lowest from Japan (6.44) and the UK (6.95).
- Neutrality: Readers gave Wikipedia an average of 7.64 points in this metric, with Mexico (8.32), the United States (8.16), Germany (7.96), and India (7.91) giving the most favorable reviews. As with trustworthiness, reviews from most European countries were low.
- Variety: On average, readers gave Wikipedia 8.23 points. Readers in the US (8.81), Canada (8.69), Brazil (8.65) and Russia (8.64) were the highest, and Egypt (6.16), Japan (7.55), and Spain (7.84) were the lowest. Of all the measures, Variety had the largest deviation.
- Ease of understanding: The highest rated aspect during the survey, Ease of understanding garnered an average rating of 8.34, and exhibited the least deviation, illustrating greater consensus on this point. Readers from the US (8.83) and Russia (8.77) gave the best ratings.
These results were then compiled into a Quality Perception Index, shown above. The global QPI average (the survey was administered in 16 countries) is 7.92 out of 10. Readers in predominantly English-speaking countries (US, Canada, UK, South Africa, Australia and India), where 94% or more of respondents used the English Wikipedia, were above average with an 8.02; as compared to other areas, with 7.85. Japan "was a definite exception, with only 16% of the readers reporting similar ratings." How readers compared Wikipedia to other top websites is next on the agenda.
- Building a story for the Arabic Wikipedia: Recently, several Wikimedia Foundation employees visited the Middle East for 14 days to assess grounds for the Global Education Program in the region. The Global Education Program outfit now plans to "hire a local team, formalize contacts with professors, and finalize a list of professors and schools to recommend for the program," and should return sometime in the next few months to conduct training for the program at select universities. Following the success of the Foundation-organized meetup in Cairo, ideas for a future event are open to consideration.
- Good Article backlog elimination drive: Invitations are open to experienced editors willing to assist reviewing Good Article nominations in a drive, slated to begin on 1 December 2011 and last until 31 December. The drive, coordinated by Astrocog, will be offering barnstars for upstanding reviewers. Reviewers are requested to review the Good Article criteria before becoming involved and do some practice reviews. Any reviews begun between 1 December and 31 December can be added to the running total section on the drive page, as outlined on that page. Reviewers can also sign up in a dedicated section at the drive page.
- Mind the Gap(s)!: Mind the Gap, a new study on female editing patterns on Wikipedia, was published this week, with contributions from LauraHale, Hawkeye7, and Pine. The study is a computational analysis of the gender gap on Wikipedia, particularly focusing on writing style, and concluded "that females use a more male style of writing when writing for Wikipedia ... [and] the problems are not solely caused by Wikipedia's content being an informational style of writing that is more typical of males". See previous Signpost coverage: "Women and Wikimedia Survey 2011", "New York Times reports on the "gender gap"".
- Wikimedia Highlights for October: The Wikimedia Highlights for October 2011 were published this week. It highlights the Wikimedia Foundation report (also published this week) and Technology report for October 2011, as well as a pattering of other important events. Translations of the Highlights have been solicited; they are to be announced on Wikimediaannounce-l on Wednesday November 16.
- Milestones: The following Wikimedia projects reached milestones this week: the Malagasy Wiktionary has reached 6,000,000 page edits, the German Wikipedia has reached 100,000,000 page edits, the Dutch Wiktionary has reached 1,000,000 page edits, the Russian Wikinews has reached 100,000 page edits, the French Wikisource has reached 100,000 text units, and the Belarusian Wikipedia has reached 1,000,000 page edits.