User talk:Jimbo Wales/Archive 149

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Archive 145 Archive 147 Archive 148 Archive 149 Archive 150 Archive 151 Archive 155

I will be taking it easy for a few days

Yesterday I fainted at a conference in Miami and I was rushed to the hospital. After extensive (extensive!) tests it was decided that the problem was dehydration. My heart is fine, my brain is fine. (A brain scan revealed nothing except that I was an idiot for not drinking water.) I'm being released now, and I'm going to take it easy for a few days. I should be fully functional next Monday but I'll also be around a bit of course.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 19:59, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Take good care, Jimmy. You have a lot of support and many of us are feeling grateful to you for your help here recently. Thank you for everything, especially for allowing us to hash things out here (it must wear on a person though, after a while?). petrarchan47tc 20:10, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Try Gatorade for dehydration. I always take that when I have the flu. Take care. Coretheapple (talk) 20:18, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Sorry to hear of your fainting. Yes, please do take care of yourself, and please just do the obvious - drink plenty of water, the healthiest beverage around. Maybe we should get User:Doc James to comment, but I'm sure you've recently been reminded of all the basics, e.g. plenty of rest and avoid alcohol and caffeine. Smallbones(smalltalk) 20:22, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Take care Jimbo. BTW, I suggest a re-write for A brain scan revealed nothing.... ```Buster Seven Talk 21:50, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Ah, but I did qualify it! Nothing except that I'm an idiot. :-) --Jimbo Wales (talk) 22:10, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Best wishes for a speedy recovery! --TeaDrinker (talk) 22:29, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Speaking as a guy in the same general age range as you who works outdoors, I can relate. You're not stupid, you're just a guy of a "certain age" ;-). I'm sure the women and girls in your life will give you lots of loving dope-slaps, which is a wonderful way to be reminded of why guys need to slow down and have a glass of water once in a while (especially in Florida)! --SB_Johnny | talk✌ 23:40, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Glad to hear you are feeling better. Do you use an activity tracker at all? I ask, because you seem like the perfect candidate. Although there are many different kinds, Fitbit allows you to customize your trackers but also comes with a built-in water tracker in their well-designed smartphone app. It's pretty cool, and has allowed me to self-monitor my consumption of water. I highly recommend it because it has helped me. I don't know if this is true (I would be interested in finding out if it is), but I've heard that another good way to tell if you are drinking enough water is to monitor the color of your urine. If it is fairly clear, that is a good sign you are on the right track. Of course, certain foods, medications, and liquids could alter this rule of thumb. Viriditas (talk) 02:51, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
One of the rules in mountain climbing is "clear and copious", as a way to monitor whether you are taking in enough liquid.--S Philbrick(Talk) 17:38, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Jimbo, I hope you get are completely recovered and stronger than ever. Your health should always come first. Take care. Candleabracadabra (talk) 13:12, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Amen to that. Rest up, heal up, and carry a stainless steel drinking container! Best wishes, Jusdafax 06:23, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Sorry to here about this. Hope you feel better and yes...drink water...lots of water.--Mark Miller (talk) 06:43, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Keep a capped bottle near the computer or separate desk: Many computer users have learned to fear spilling drinks onto the computer ("computers and water don't mix"), so either bring a capped water bottle, or park a beverage on a nearby table. I had a neighbor collapse some years ago, near the condominium pool, and I drove him to the hospital, only to learn the same thing: dehydration. I think many people get so busy, they forget to take time to get a sports drink or water bottle along the way. -Wikid77 00:21, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

WMF cease and desist letter

I just noticed on one of the many paid editing discussion pages that the Foundation's lawyer today wrote a strong letter, with sweeping language, to Wiki-PR. See [1]

A couple of things are worth noting. First is that, on the last page, the letter keeps the door open to further action by the Foundation. The practice of paid advocacy editing is described in this letter as already prohibited by Wikipedia and Foundation practices, which are enumerated. Those sections should be read closely. Second, and little mention has been made of this (I didn't notice it), reference to made is an Oct. 21 statement by Sue Gardner[2] in which she explicitly says that paid editing is already prohibited: "Unlike a university professor editing Wikipedia articles in their area of expertise, paid editing for promotional purposes, or paid advocacy editing as we call it, is extremely problematic. We consider it a 'black hat' practice. Paid advocacy editing violates the core principles that have made Wikipedia so valuable for so many people."

There is at present considerable daylight between the Foundation and Wikipedia editors on the subject of paid advocacy editing. The Foundation is opposed; Wikipedia has yet to make up its mind. Speaking personally, I have other things to do, other commitments. I am running out of time that I can devote to this, and patience. I think that the Foundation needs to step up to the plate and do what it has to do. It already has taken some serious steps, in terms of its statement and letter, but needs to take the initiative because it is plain that, left to its own devices, the community will debate endlessly and do nothing. Coretheapple (talk) 21:37, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

There are a handful of noisy people who always insist that it isn't against the rules. They may be safely ignored. The only real question is how do we precisely formulate the policy that already exists.
Remember the interesting and unusual way that Wikipedia's written policies are usually formed. They are a description of extant practice, rather than handed down dictats. The community without any trouble whatsoever banned Wiki-pr from editing Wikipedia without any hesitation. The philosophical dithering that goes on is generally driven by people who I'd prefer to see leave Wikipedia because they are the problem, or by people who have been drawn into thinking that this is a complex issue worthy of lots of hand-wringing. As I have said, the supporters of paid advocacy editing have already lost. They just don't realize it yet.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 22:06, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Jimmy, the policy really needs to be formulated and approved before sending that kind of letter, otherwise it's basically SLAPP.
Frankly, the WP community would be a lot better off negotiating terms with a firm like "Wiki-PR" than trying to hunt down all the low-on-the-totem-pole people in individual corporate PR departments. --SB_Johnny | talk✌ 23:49, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
I'm sure everything will be fine if PR firms can simply limit themselves to making only edits that are "very factual" and "perfectly justifiable", as was the case with Freud Communications. This removes the taint of "advocacy" editing. Paid editors just need to stick to the guideline expressed by Oliver Wheeler. I hope that we all agree with Freud Communications, right? I mean, Jimbo is married to one of their directors. - Stylecustom (talk) 03:26, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Whatever. Until the points that Alanyst raised below are clarified - that is, are paid edits OK as long as there is disclosure to other Wikipedia editors? Is that acceptable to the Foundation and to Jimbo? - I'm not really clear what more there is to say or do. After all, one can't be more Catholic than the Pope. If Wikipedia's owners are willing to accept paid editing with disclosure, as has been widely discussed in various forums (though not acceptable to hard-line advocates of paid editing, who call such disclosure a "scarlet letter"), I'm not sure what else there is to say. Coretheapple (talk) 03:47, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Unfortunately, efforts to prohibit paid advocacy editing, by an explicit rule, have failed. Coretheapple (talk) 22:14, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
The ban on Wiki-PR seems to be explained here[3], as follows: "Wiki-PR are already de-facto community banned where discovered through the Morning277 SPI case. I would like to formalize this ban to make it clear that we do not as a community condone the mass sockpuppetry, meatpupppetry, block evasion, subversion of neutrality, spamming, and other consensus damaging practices that Wiki-PR has engaged in. Please note that this proposed formal ban is *not* intrinsically related to paid editing, and should not be taken as an attempt to ban other forms of paid editing." I'm not up to speed on this, but I take this to mean that Wiki-PR was banned because of its sockpuppeting and not because of its paid editing practices. Coretheapple (talk) 22:25, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
"Subversion of neutrality" equates to advocacy, no? I believe there's general agreement that advocacy in general is forbidden (and has been for a long time); and paid advocacy editing is a strict subset of that. The philosophical debate seems to me to have been focused on the question of whether beneficial forms of (non-advocacy) editing for pay exist, and if so, how those can be differentiated from the bad forms of paid editing and properly regulated to prevent abuses. There has also been discussion of other aspects of conflict-of-interest editing, not strictly limited to financial conflicts. I hope that the (correct) condemnation of paid advocacy editing is not mistaken as disposing of these related but distinct questions. alanyst 22:38, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Well you see, that's been the problem. Advocates of paid editing say that it is possible for subjects of articles to introduce "beneficial," "neutral" text into articles, or even to create neutral articles about themselves or the people who pay them. The discussions have become gridlocked over that very point. Moreover, these positions have been taken by experienced editors with considerably more mileage on Wikipedia than me (as they've not been shy about pointing out on this very page in past discussions). Coretheapple (talk) 22:46, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Part of the confusion is that when one person starts talking about one thing (say, paid advocacy editing), you start talking about something that overlaps but is not strictly equivalent (say, article subjects editing on their own behalf) as if it were the same thing. A person can be a stalwart opponent of paid advocacy editing of the kind Wiki-PR et al. have engaged in, and yet can conditionally regard some other kinds of conflict-of-interest involvement in articles as permissible (predicated perhaps on meeting requirements for disclosure, limiting contributions to talk pages, etc.). It's not always clear that you recognize or accept that there's a distinction, and you unfortunately tend to equate those who express more moderate views than your own with "defenders" of the worst practices. alanyst 23:18, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
I'm against allowing corporations to draft large quantities of text, putting them on article talk pages, and editors then placing them within articles. That's what's happened and it has created a mess in two articles on large petrochemical companies that has received substantial publicity. However, there is a substantial body of opinion on Wikipedia which not only finds that to be OK, but is happy with corporations and paid editors directly editing their articles. It's not as if there is a lot of sentiment for the Foundation's position. It is voted down every step of the way. Let's not kid ourselves about this. Right on this page, an administrator who has done paid editing argued strenuously in favor of the practice. So have experienced editors, on separate occasions. Coretheapple (talk) 23:26, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
I should add: yes, it's correct that some editors are saying that it's OK for paid editors to put text directly in articles if there is "disclosure" - to other editors. Yes, I have a serious problem with that, no question at all. That's the kind of thing that has definitely been discussed, for sure. I'm glad you raised that point because it shows how various ways have been suggested for paid editors to continue there work. It is not as black and white as Jimbo sometimes makes it seem. In fact, come to think of it, I'd like to hear his view on the subject of "paid editing is OK if disclosed to editors." If that's OK with Jimbo and the Foundation youy can rest assured that I will immediately absent myself from this discussion for all eternity, as there is clearly a great deal of sentiment for it and I have better things to do than to engage in futile disputes with large majorities. Coretheapple (talk) 23:32, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
The letter references a violation of Wikipedia's Terms of Use. Oddly, the Terms of Use document does not appear to contain any of the following words or phrases: "Paid", "Advocacy", "Sockpuppet", or "Multiple Account(s)". Perhaps that document needs to be modified for clarity. Can anybody point out where that document actually prohibits the offensive activity? I agree the activity is prohibited by our unwritten rules, but it could be very tricky to enforce unwritten rules in a court of law. Jehochman Talk 22:33, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
The letter is lawyerly and needs to be read carefully. Coretheapple (talk) 22:46, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
The letter highlights a key passage from Section 4. isaacl (talk) 23:32, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
On second thought, it's not our job to interpret lawyer letters. We're not trained to do that. As for Sue Gardner's October 21 statement, while it does appear to be a strongly worded statement against paid editing, Alanyst has a point: paid editing with disclosure may cure the entire situation. I think it's ridiculous, but that's not my call. Coretheapple (talk) 04:28, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
It's not too lawyerly. "Meatpuppetry", are you kidding me? You're going to go into a courtroom and try to get a judgment about "meatpuppetry"? I'm not saying the argument isn't valid (I actually made it myself at Wikipedia:Sock puppetry/Employees, though many disagreed), but it should be up to the lawyers to convert our wacky Wikipedia jargon (including "sockpuppetry" itself) into a clear exposition in terms of standard English and/or legalese. Wnt (talk) 04:40, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Huh? Daylight? Sue's expressing a position that's extremely congruent with the community's - Wiki-PR was banned by the community, math professors are allowed; the community's policies, and the community's actions, exactly match Gardner's example. The letter just notes that they're violationg WP:NPOV, WP:SOCK, and WP:NOTADVOCATE - it's not that jargony, but the terms of service do require you to follow each projects' policies, which advocates (paid or unpaid) ain't doing. Jimbo here, and Gardner in her letter, have disavowed any intention of going after paid non-advocate editors. The community is also pretty strongly (though not universally) against taking action against paid non-advocate editors. A lot of discussion has been generated at the host of proposed policies merely because they are terribly written. A policy page that said "Read WP:NOTPROMOTION; paid advocacy is not allowed, doing it will get you banned" might receive opposition as unnecessary policycruft, but nobody is advocating removing the already existing policy WP:NOTADVOCATE, which is all that letter deals with (well, and WP:SOCK, but nobody's advocating removing that policy, either). Paid advocacy is already banned, and virtually nobody is opposed to that policy. WilyD 09:37, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
It may be worth noting that Wiki-PR has already stated that what it does is paid editing, not paid advocacy. It is against policy, but paid advocates have no trouble convincing themselves that their work is paid editing not advocacy. I predict that Wiki-PR is going to continue, and even if they do cease, the first page of ghits finds a half dozen other companies waiting to pick up the slack. If we're going to be playing whack-a-mole, we might as well get a mallet that works well. Put the ban on paid advocates working in the article space in the terms and conditions. --TeaDrinker (talk) 12:46, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
The practice of paid advocacy editing is described in this letter as already prohibited by Wikipedia and Foundation practices Where would that be? Its not in the T&C and the foundation just a couple of months ago said in an Italian court that it had no responsibility for any content put on this site. The letter seems to lack any legal weight as if the foundation are saying that they have responsibility for the conent then they have responsibility for all of it. That would be an interesting fine line to see them walk in court. John lilburne (talk) 14:22, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Wiki-PR was banned by the Wikipedia community of editors, who are the ones responsible for content. Once the ban is placed, the Terms of Use kick in, because they prohibit ban evasion. If Wiki-PR evades the ban, then they can be sued for violating the Terms of Use. That's what I understand to be the current state of play. Jehochman Talk 14:30, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
How do you prove in court that Wiki-PR are involved in evading a ban? John lilburne (talk) 15:36, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Terms of Use - Under Under the following conditions: in the big blue box at the top, the last point is Terms of Use and Policies – You adhere to the below Terms of Use and to the applicable community policies when you visit our sites or participate in our communities. - paid advocates are in violation of the community policy of WP:NOTADVOCATE at a minimum (and thus in violation of the terms of service the moment they start being a paid advocate, whether a formal community ban has been enacted or not). WilyD 14:34, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
That may be, but it's debatable. The perp will deny engaging in advocacy. What's not debatable is that they have been banned. When making an argument, it's better to stick to the assertion that's easier to prove. Jehochman Talk 14:40, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
There's no "perp," and has not even been sued. All that's happened is that the Foundation has sent a letter. People send letters like that all the time. As for the distinction between "paid advocate" and "paid editor," etc. etc., yadda yadda, I'm frankly bored with the whole subject. Coretheapple (talk) 15:49, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
The perpetrator has been banned, but they continue to advertise that they can provide the service they have been banned from doing. If they don't stop advertising and offering the service, I predict that WMF will seek to enforce the Terms of Use. The advertising or offering of a banned service is an admission of ban evasion (to answer the question above). Jehochman Talk 15:56, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Out of curiosity - do they? Their website's "services" section says "We never directly edit Wikipedia ourselves". The rest is kinda mealy-mouthed, but at least can be read as "We'll watch your page(s) and tell you what to do". Banned users aren't prohibited from reading Wikipedia (IIRC), so it's hard to say they're advertising that they'll engage in ban evasion. (Of course, I have no idea what they are actually doing). WilyD 16:15, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't know. Perhaps they changed that recently. Jehochman Talk 16:57, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Their website, at least as it is now, is very cleverly designed. Look, they read this discussion. They're not dummies. They specifically deny that they engage in advocacy. Of course they do. Nobody except an utter fool engages in "advocacy." That's why I'm just sort of in a state of brain-numbness over the whole inane, hairsplitting argument over whether paid editing that isn't "advocacy" should be permitted. Nobody except assistant professors engaged in self-promotion and a scattering of morons write up articles that openly advocate for themselves or others, and they are easily picked up by the vandal-fighting tools sooner or later. The problem has been slick PR operations and corporate PR departments, that work the system and are able to edit under the current policies. As long as they don't openly advocate for their clients or engage in sockpuppeting they are fine. Given the enormous amount of acquiescence that one sees over this practice, I've looked to Jimbo for guidance on this, as I just don't see Wikipedia editors doing anything except maybe make things worse. Lately he's offered some encouraging sentiments such as this one. in which he said "The board is preparing a statement. Their numbers are weak, and the arguments they have made are not carrying the day with the community. There has been a need for refined understanding, and that refined understanding is now spread through the community quite widely. No one supports paid advocacy editing other than a tiny and noisy minority. The writing is on the wall."
So I read that and thought, "Gee, looks like Jimbo sees this issue as I do. Maybe this is not a futile thing to pursue, not a waste of time." It seemed that way in context. But then it was pointed out to me that I may be mistaken, that he's just referring to a subset of paid editing, "advocacy," which is already prohibited. Also someone noted that there are proposals to allow all forms of paid editing if there is disclosure within Wikipedia. That's right, I had forgotten about that. I asked Jimbo for clarification and, though he was active on this page, I notice that he didn't respond to my question. Well, he's not feeling well, he's got other things to do, maybe he'll respond at some future point, and maybe the WMF will issue a statement at some point too. Or maybe they won't. I don't know. Until or unless that happens, I think that spending much time on this is futile until the people who are most directly impacted by this issue (Jimbo and the Foundation), do something concrete or speak with more clarity than they have to date. Coretheapple (talk) 17:28, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
The number of people who openly advocate for themselves is quite high; it's an issue in that we spend a lot of time on enforcement, finding and deleting ads, blocking accounts, whatnot. But the group doing it who're bad at it aren't a smattering. Every day I delete articles written in the first person, and I'm far from leading the charge. The better they at concealing what they're doing, the harder they are to find, sure. And, correspondingly, the longer they'll be able to get away with breaking the rules. It's a harder problem of enforcement, not a harder problem of policy. If you're looking to stop math professors from editing error function, you're probably out of luck - the community doesn't seem to support this. If you're looking to stop PR firms from advocating for their clients (or companies advocating for themselves), it isn't a problem of policy, and redundant policies won't solve the problem. The policies already exist. What needs doing is actually going out, review new pages, WP:COI/N, Special:UncategorizedPages, and all the other places problems are happening and need someone to deal with them. WilyD 17:51, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't know anybody in the galaxy, much less this part of the solar system, who cares about "math professors editing error function." That only exists in the alternate universe of Wikipedia policy discussions. The "policies already exist" stuff is absurd; they do it, and with gusto, and stay within the rules. Coretheapple (talk) 18:01, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
You have complained that we shouldn't distinguish between paid editors and paid advocates in this very discussion, and that we need additional policies that go beyond banning paid advocates - you are advocating for policies that would ban math professors. The canonical example of paid advocates in this discussion is Wiki-PR; they did it in secret, were banned once they were discovered, and have been sent a cease-and-desist by the foundation. It's entirely clear to everyone that paid advocacy is banned. The jobs left are for grunts, though, and not generals. But we always welcome another grunt. WilyD 18:55, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Oh please, that's just crap. It would be, has been, and is, easy to write a policy excluding academics writing about their area of expertise. That is a phony issue and a red herring. See Jimbo quote below, which I agree with. "Math professors editing articles on equations" is the Wikipedia counterpart to "widows and orphans." It's trotted out every time there is a serious argument made against the real problem, which is PR manipulation. It's the "math professors editing articles on equations" who are most familiar with how Wikipedia is corrupted by paid editors, because there isn't a university anywhere would allow the current practices here . Coretheapple (talk) 18:58, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
If it's easy, why is no one doing it? If you're only interested in PR manipulation, why do you keep pushing positions that would only change existing policies by banning non-advocates? If you don't mean "paid editors" why do you keep saying "paid editors"? It should be obvious why people don't take the brush off of "just because I said we should ban anyone who's getting paid for their edits doesn't mean I meant we should ban anyone who's getting paid for their edits" seriously. WilyD 09:08, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Every proposal prohibiting paid editing has exempted academics writing about their area of expertise. I've told you this several times. Why do you keep misrepresenting my position? I mean, I'm not running for alderman, it doesn't really matter, but it's just strange that you keep doing that. (There is such a thing as WP:AGF too, I guess, and your "if your only interested in X why are you advocating Y" accusations are sorta at variance with that.) Did you read where I said that I agreed with Jimbo's definition of commercial editing? Did you read how I repeatedly said I didn't want to go after academics? Then why you do keep saying that I feel otherwise? This is not rocket science. It's not a statute being passed in Congress. You prohibit people editing for money and you write in exemptions. If the exemptions aren't good (in for instance, Wikipedia:Conflict of interest limit, which is the last surviving proposal) you fix them. Have you been over there to look at that proposal? Are the exemptions inadequate? If they are, propose a change. Don't sit here and play "gotcha" and semantic games and misrepresenting what people are saying. Nobody is trying to "pull one over on you." This isn't some deep dark conspiracy of editors who are talking about PR people advocating for their clients but really have a hidden agenda, are twirling their mustaches, conspiring to drive academics off of Wikipedia and to "ban" them (when nobody's talking about "banning" anybody). Really, I don't get why you keep doing this, if you want to deal with the commercial editing problem as Jimbo defined in his post the other day, which I quoted below. Do you want to do anything about this? Or are you OK with nothing being done? The impression I get is the latter, but maybe I'm wrong. Coretheapple (talk) 14:31, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
A proposal's whose only change is to extend the already existing ban on paid advocacy to paid non-advocacy, but then says "oh, but this doesn't apply to paid non-advocates" can't really be taken seriously. Similarly, if you complain at length about paid editing being allowed, but then say "Oh, I don't have a problem with the kind of paid editing that's currently allowed", you can't expect people to take that seriously. I do deal with commercial editing as Jimbo defined it Special:Log/WilyD. As do a lot of other people. Enforcement of policies is work, of course. PR people advocating for their clients are already prohibited from editing - anyone advocated increased prohibitions is only advocating for prohibitions against someone else (regardless of their intent), not PR companies. Obviously I do have some stake in it (I'm not a professor, but a postdoctoral fellow, but the principle is the same). WilyD 16:27, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Well, at least your rhetoric has toned down a lttie and become less personally attacking and bad-faith-assuming, so I guess that's an improvement. But what you're saying about Wikipedia:Conflict of interest limit (I assume that's what you're talking about) is just plain wrong. It clearly deals with commercial editing as defined by Jimbo just the other day, and which is available at least twice in this section if you want to peruse it. To begin with, what do you mean by "paid non-advocacy" and in what way does that proposal "extend the already existing ban on paid advocacy to paid non-advocacy"? I'm sure you're aware that every paid advocate one ever encounters, every PR operative and every Wikipedia-editing firm, including Wiki-PR, defines what they are doing as "non-advocacy," so you really need to define what you mean by that. Coretheapple (talk) 17:18, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Just to be sure we're clear on our terminology, here's a post Jimbo made just a few days ago. I associate with this definition of prohibited paid advocacy editing 100%. (OK, I said the subject bores me, which it does, but I did want to clear it up).[4]:
"Commercial editing" is a relatively new term someone introduced last week. I tend to continue to use "paid advocacy editing". This is editing of article space (proposing things or discussing with us on the talk page is not the issue) by someone who is paid to advocate for a person or organization. It does not matter if the actual edit in question is allegedly "merely factual" because doing that invites a huge and messy complicated argument about what's merely factual. If someone is paid to edit in their area of expertise (the canonical example is a university professor who is encouraged to edit by a university as a part of public service) that's not paid advocacy editing but it is paid editing of an unproblematic kind. Whether you call it "commercial editing" or "paid advocacy editing" it is relatively easy to identify and define, with relatively minor edge cases, and that's why it makes for a good line to draw for policy purposes. And to round out this quick summary: advocacy editing which is unpaid is also a problem - and some would argue it is a worse problem, but it is a different problem for which different solutions are needed.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 22:26, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Actually the edges aren't a clear as you'd like them. Assume a not so well known prof edits in a rather obscure topic area, in which he is an expert, in order to increase its visibility to the public, increase likelihood of funding etc. If topic area is phrased as broadly as astronomy or computer science or particle physics, you might not object, Mr. Wales. But what if it's only stuff you've probably never heard of, like automatic groups or certain models of panspermia or bubble fusion? (I gave a spectrum of examples from likely uncontroversial to very much so.) Someone not using his real name (talk) 00:40, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
It's a bit like when you're drafting a contract, a lease or a sale agreement. You can't cover every possibility, and common sense has to apply in borderline situations. We can sit around and dream up all kinds of scenarios as a reason for doing nothing. Another thing, and you didn't raise this but others have, is that opponents of these rules sometimes refer to them as efforts to "ban" people. I don't know where that comes from. There are going to be borderline areas and people making mistakes. I don't see anyone being banned for violating any policy except under extreme circumstances. Coretheapple (talk) 01:01, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
(referring to Jimbo 22:26 16 November quote above) That's my definition too and sum up my feelings on the matter as well. To be fair, I think that (contrary to what I intimated earlier) when it comes to defining the problem he has been quite clear. And to address WillyD's comment above, no, the commercial or paid advocacy editing that he's talking about is allowed by current policy. That's because it is defined by the payment to the editor, not by the character of the edit. t does not matter if the actual edit in question is allegedly "merely factual" because doing that invites a huge and messy complicated argument about what's merely factual. That's the key point. I've asked how Jimbo feels about such edits if disclosed to other editors. My feeling is that this accomplishes nothing, and is meaningless. Reading this quote, which I'd forgotten about (I'm of a certain age), reminded me that maybe things aren't as much of a waste of time as I had thought. Coretheapple (talk) 18:49, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Somebody asked above whether Wiki-PR has changed its website advertising. It has - it no longer advertises that it has admins writing articles for it. There may be other changes as well. Frankly, I don't see cosmetic changes meaning anything, as long as the community and the Board take a serious attitude on seeing this through. The WMF may very well go to court and the judge might say, well as long as they've changed the word "x" to "y" Wiki-PR can keep on advertising. I doubt that she'd say that however, the US court system is not a place for wiki-lawyers. The judge would know that if the matter rests upon a technicality, the WMF can just change the terms of service, and then, maybe after a month, everybody would come back to court for the opposite conclusion. Why bother? The court would likely just accept that the WMF knows what its rules are, and give it broad latitude to interpret their own rules. The WMF does have the right to exclude people from the site. It does have the right to set up a site for a free encyclopedia without advertisements (hidden or otherwise). Why would a court refuse to let the site's management exercise normal managerial control? If it does prevent this control based on a technicality, the WMF knows how to change the terms of service to stop that interpretation. If after going to court a dozen times, it appears that there is no way under US law to set up a site for a free encyclopedia without advertisements (hidden or otherwise), US citizens know what it takes to get a law passed to allow it. I'd think a one-day anti-SOPA type blackout would get that law passed in record time. So there is no reason to say "we can't do anything." Smallbones(smalltalk) 21:57, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

I think it's interesting to examine how it advertised itself before it was banned. Here[5] is how it described itself in August: "Our staff of 45 Wikipedia editors and admins helps you build a page that stands up to the scrutiny of Wikipedia's community rules and guidelines. We respect the community and its rules against promoting and advertising." Look at what I've italicized. While they obviously did a bad job of conforming to that ideal by all their sockpuppeting, they were aware of the need to be ostensibly neutral. Coretheapple (talk) 22:08, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
@Smallbones. Hmmm, a blackout passed in favor of a minority perspective on WP? That will have to come by WMF Home Office direct action also, sorry to inform... And I'm sure they can resolve the crisis on Wiki which results with a well-worded letter as well. Face it, this letter has the force of a pomeranian barking... All it has done is driven the PR people further underground and away from scrutiny. I honestly couldn't with a clear conscience advise a PR person to identify COI on a talk page, with the anti-paid advocacy extremists running amuck. Carrite (talk) 04:02, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
You're missing the point entirely - it will never have to get that far because the courts recognize that management has the right to manage. As far as extremists, those who want to allow commercial interests to run amuck on a site supported by charitable donations are the extremist. We'll see about your Pomeranian barking - sounds more like somebody is whistling in a cemetery to me. Smallbones(smalltalk) 04:38, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Not everybody in the world is obsessed with Wikipedia. The Wiki-PR people saw an open door and went through it. They'd only be "driven underground" if they were crazies, personally motivated by hatred of Wikipedia. I see no evidence of that. Coretheapple (talk) 14:50, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Hmm. It's doubtful that WMF could successfully sue a party for violating community policy decisions. The 5 pillars and all the policies are editing standards, not a legal agreement. On the other hand sockpuppetry, misrepresentation of identity, and false advertising could well be actionable as violations of the TOS and of laws — the New York Attorney General is taking action against organizations for doing that kind of stuff on Yelp. I see they've hired the Cooley law firm. Unless they're doing this pro bono, I question why a nonprofit is spending donor money on such high priced lawyers, their partners are $500 an hour on up. A $200 an hour lawyer could have written that. What are the priorities here? - Wikidemon (talk) 15:26, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't think the Foundation had any choice, and writing a letter is a pretty minimal reaction. Based on what I've seen of its financial statements, hiring a lawyer to write a letter is not going to be a significant drain on its resources. The important thing is less the legal impact on this one party as the deterrent effect on others. Do a Google News search and you'll find that the letter has received substantial media pickup, making whatever fees they paid well worth it. Coretheapple (talk) 16:27, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
On this, I agree with Coretheapple. And, btw, $500/hour per lawyer is peanuts. Top partners at major law firms charge two to four times that, or more. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 21:14, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
  • The Guardian reported yesterday: "In a statement, Jordan French of Wiki-PR told the Guardian: 'Wiki-PR is working with the Wikimedia foundation and its counsel to sort this out.' He said that it hoped to have further information in a week's time." [6] Coretheapple (talk) 14:42, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Fortunately, it will be very easy to "work it out". All Wiki-PR has to do is (1) Cease and (2) Desist. Then they can use the time they just freed up to figure out a better business model. --Guy Macon (talk) 15:18, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Why is the Arbitration Committee undeleting libel instead of oversighting it?

Alexis Reich (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views)

I noticed a few months ago that the above article had serious libel about the living person; in particular, asserting that she had been convicted of child pornography charges when no source had been given. This situation had persisted between June 2012 and September 2013.

I contacted Oversight about this on September 17th. The oversight team sat on this request for a full week until Nick (talk · contribs) deleted it, at my request, on September 24th, at which point LFaraone (talk · contribs) closed the request as moot. (Ticket #2013091710015448) At this point, I was rather annoyed it took so long, but was willing to let it go.

Thirty-six hours later, Billinghurst (talk · contribs) undeleted the article with the rationale "ArbCom says the article is fine and there's nothing wrong with it". Those libellous diffs remain in the page history.

What the hell is ArbCom smoking? And how does this, along with the massive clusterfuck of cases that were Sexology and Manning, make Wikipedia a welcoming environment for transgender editors? Sceptre (talk) 23:28, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

This is the first that I've heard about it. Is it your contention that these specific revisions are libel? If so, then I think a reasonable course of action for any admin is to at least temporarily rev-delete them until a full discussion on the talk page determines what to be done about it. BLP demands that we proceed with extreme caution in cases like this.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 23:39, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
My contention that every revision between June 2012 and September 2013 is libellous, due to including, without sources, that a living person engaged in, and was convicted of, child pornography offenses. Saying that someone committed a crime without proof is pretty much the dictionary definition of libel, of child pornography offenses doubly so. Sceptre (talk) 23:43, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
As this seems to be an emergency situation, I quickly reviewed both my email archives and the arbcom wiki. I see no evidence at all of a collective decision by ArbCom that "the article is fine". If Billinghurst is still online, you'd best notify him right away of this discussion. And in the meantime, anyone who is good with revision deleting should do it right away. I'll try myself. There's no urgency to restoration if you are wrong, but there is extreme urgency if you are right.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 23:50, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
To clarify, the undeletion was a technical action undertaken by me was at the request of a representative of the ArbCom. Due to the number of edits that needed to be undeleted it needed the elevated rights of a steward, and could not be undertaken by a standard admin, or by any standard means. — billinghurst sDrewth 02:18, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Addendum quick question: those revisions did not have a source, but did it turn out to be true? That is, are there sources for these claims now?--Jimbo Wales (talk) 23:51, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
A search at the time on Google found no source for any conviction; the only thing I could find was that she had been charged with those offenses, and those charges were later dropped. Sceptre (talk) 23:54, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
My main concern when I deleted it (and still is, since the content is still there in the history) is that we had the purported names of the subjects children there, prominently, in the infobox and in the article. We also had, at one point, their ages too, which would have relatively easily allowed their identification and potential location. They're not responsible for their parent's criminal or social behaviour and shouldn't be left open in the way they are because of our article.
There are many other issues with the article, poorly sourced content, discussion way beyond that which is necessary of relationships and other private material (and I note more has been added recently).
I have an e-mail from ArbCom confirming that the content was fine and to undelete it. A steward carried out the undeletion on my behalf because of technical limitations relating to number of diffs. I'm fairly certain the article has had material oversighted between the undeletion and today, but can't tell what was removed or when. Nick (talk) 23:55, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
I was just about to delete it before seeing this comment about the undeletion problem. It should be deleted anyway, but I don't want to make a mess for the oversighters. --SB_Johnny | talk✌ 00:00, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Ok, that sounds like a different issue. Perhaps the ArbCom only meant that your concern (names of children) wasn't sufficient for a speedy deletion, as opposed to saying that the content is ok. For now I've just deleted the revisions per Sceptre's request, on the theory that virtually no harm comes from having this stuff gone for a few days while we explore the right answer, but serious harm results from publishing false claims that someone has been convicted of child pornography charges. There need be no real drama here, and I'd recommend to Sceptre to lower the temperature of the discussion a bit. ArbCom, or some member of ArbCom, or some subject of Arbcom may have made an error - that's human. No need to ponder if they've been smoking something. :-) There is no real chance that ArbCom is saying we should undelete libelous revisions. If they are saying that (they aren't) I would dismiss them and call early elections.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 00:03, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Addendum Nick can you let me know who on ArbCom said it was fine to delete? If you'd prefer you could just forward me the email. I'd like to get to the bottom of this before we get too excited. I've had enough excitement this week.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 00:04, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
On it's way to you now. Nick (talk) 00:15, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. It seems to me that ArbCom was suggesting that the article itself could be undeleted (meaning the most recent version at the time of deletion) and that they were not fully aware of the issues deep in the history log. In particular, I don't see that they were ever notified that the past logs claimed conviction falsely. This seems to be a screw-up rather than insanity - so we can all be happy about that.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 00:33, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Actually, the problem is that a single arbitrator responded to the email that was sent, and when asked to reword it so that it was clear he was voicing his own opinion, did not do so. And none of the arbitrators was specifically aware of the suppression request; most of the committee rarely looks at the OTRS suppression request list (although some of us will respond to direct requests). My own personal take is that this article shouldn't exist, and that it should be merged as a brief paragraph in the Murder of JonBenét Ramsey article; the majority of the article is about non-notable events that, while unfortunate, are surprisingly and sadly commonplace. Risker (talk) 02:28, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Risker's take, and I put it up for deletion at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Alexis Reich (2nd nomination). Sportfan5000 (talk) 11:25, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Assessment of the material itself

I've got about an hour and so I wanted to start assessing the material itself. It is still viewable by admins, so any admins who can help me - this will be appreciated. At the moment I want to focus very narrowly on Sceptre's concern - that we claim, without sources, a conviction, when in fact the charges were dropped. I'm looking first through past revisions to determine what we actually say.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 00:09, 20 November 2013 (UTC) Addendum I can confirm that at least most of the revisions that Sceptre raised the alarm about do claim a conviction for child pornography. I have just unhidden a few toward the end of September where that claim was finally dropped. Now I'm going to review the beginning to see if I got that point exactly right. If someone can show that the conviction claim is true, then arguably all of this could be undeleted. But if not, then it's very problematic.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 00:16, 20 November 2013 (UTC) Addendum 2 And I've just restored a few at the beginning of June 2012 that do not claim conviction. I think I got all the ones that do.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 00:21, 20 November 2013 (UTC) Conclusion (for now) I think Sceptre was substantially right. Unless someone comes up with proof of a conviction, I don't see how we can do anything other than suppress these revisions. For now I'm leaving them admin-visible, to allow proper review of my actions, but that should be amended soon enough so that no one can see these.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 00:34, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Probably not a bad idea to look at the contribs of the person who added it, on the off chance that this is another Qworty scenario. --SB_Johnny | talk✌ 00:46, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
That's a very good idea but I'm out of time tonight. We should check this: contrib history.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 00:49, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
I made a recent, rather large change to the article, completely coincidental to the deletions just made. As far as the child porn arrest/charges, I believe Scepter is correct that they are 100% unsourced. I think there were some allegations, but nothing approaching what was reported in the article.Two kinds of pork (talk) 01:27, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
I've noted my opinion above: the article itself shouldn't exist and only a brief paragraph in the Murder of JonBenét Ramsey article, directly relating to the confession and release, is appropriate. The vast majority of individuals identified in the current article are non-notable and are probably being adversely affected by this article - whether we like it or not, for many of them this article is one of their top g-hits. Risker (talk) 02:41, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Review of deleted revisions: It appears that the false statement of a conviction was added to the infobox by an IP editor. It was not long after removed by an established editor, who immediately self-reverted. At that time the text of the article made it clear that no conviction had occurred. After this, through many edits by both IPs and established editors, the list of "convictions" in the info box was not changed, nor was any mention of a conviction added to the article text as far as I can see. it seems that many editors, while making various changes to the article, never noticed (or at least never acted on) the contradiction between the infobox and the text of the article. In December 2012 an editor removed the infobox content with the summary "Major BLP Violation - Unreferenced claim of conviction, referenced text of the article says otherwise". The infobox content was restored by an IP editor in March 2013, in an edit tagged as "possible BLP violation". The false (or at least unsourced and contradictory to the article) statement remained in the infobox during prolonged editwarring over the gender of pronouns to be used in describing the subject, and through other edits, until it was finally removed in September 2013. DES (talk) 03:09, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

The subject is covered in multiple RS and easily passes GNG, so I'm not sure why Risker is proposing to merge; yes the subject has done some unsavory things, but so what? We removed the names of the subject's children, but, again, we regularly list names/ages/etc of children of random BLPs, and don't get so trigger happy about rev-delling those - the names of Karr's children (and young wives) were widely reported, but I do agree they don't need to be in the article (I generally think names/ages/dobs of most children shouldn't be here). I don't believe there was ever a conviction, so any claim of a conviction is a violation and should be hidden; there was an arrest, but the charges were dropped when the cops lost the evidence.--Obi-Wan Kenobi (talk) 05:07, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Because the only notable thing he has done is confess to a murder he did not commit, Obiwankenobi. Nothing else he has done is notable. Just because it's in the newspaper doesn't mean it's notable. Heck, newspapers report when women "proudly show their bump" and "hide their bump" (sometimes referring to the same woman both ways in the same edition), but we're not going to put that in articles either. Nothing except the JonBenet confession is notable. The rest is just prurience. Risker (talk) 05:28, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Re "Yes the subject has done some unsavory things, but so what?" Well plenty what. Here's what. If a person is 1) only marginally notable (if that), and 2) his article is mostly going to be a detailed enumeration of how he's failed to find his way in life, then let's not have the article. It's not an ornament to the Wikipedia to do stuff like this. If you want me to cite rules how about: per Wikipedia:BLP and also per Actual Real Life:Golden Rule. Or maybe we could rename the article to Let's pick on Alexis Reich? Article titles are supposed to be accurate and that's at least arguably a more accurate title of what the article actually is. Herostratus (talk) 05:59, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Guys, this isn't AFD, I was just making a quick retort to Risker's statement, we don't need to lay all of our arguments before the judge here. FWIW, previous closed as NC: Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Alexis Reich. I expect someone will nominate in 3..2..--Obi-Wan Kenobi (talk) 06:10, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

a simple question (i hope) that can be a tricky one (i fear)

hello there. i would love to know if the very you yourself believe that we are to abide by the rules and respect copyright laws. and to what level. for example, you have happened (as an administrator) across a copyright violation: a copyrighted translation of the Bible/Quran/etc was uploaded to Wikisource. would you just "let it be" (it is connected to religion and people would believe that you are "a bad guy" for deleting it)? would you delete it all the same as you believe you cannot ignore something like this? (not)trying to get the permission is not the issue here, but supposedly you have tried and failed --antanana 07:30, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

p.s. i have always wanted to ask you something, but until now nothing seemed worth bothering you ;) thank you very much for having an open door policy --antanana 07:30, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
There is a good general answer to this question here. If the amount of text went beyond fair use (which hosting the entire work would) it would have to be removed per WP:NFCC or its equivalent on other wikiprojects.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 07:41, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
thanks, i am aware of this. but it is difficult (if possible at all) to explain it. people just believe that deleting "holy" texts is a kind of vandalism. thus i want to hear personal opinion. not a "right" one ;) --antanana 07:48, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
We don't break the law (in this case copyright laws) just because someone wants us to. --Guy Macon (talk) 09:16, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
so do we ;) it should be so. but. have you ever deleted/witnessed the deletion of something that was "hold dear" (but copyrighted) to the others? the process that follows usually is not very nice. the things is that most people tend to avoid such direct "conflicts". so they just ignore the situation, hoping that someone else would do something about it. or they say that if there is no heirs in the vicinity - no harm is done --antanana 09:41, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Which "sacred texts" are under copyright anyway? A copyvio is a copyvio and must be deleted - the content/subject is entirely irrelevant. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 09:47, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
the translation of them. not the original ones, of course ;) --antanana 09:54, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
This has been an issue with Scientology, see Scientology and the Internet. The church claims vigorous copyrights and trademarks on its materials.[7]--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 10:52, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't really get what you're getting at here. In a place like wikisource, they definitely should be deleting any translation that is copyrighted. While I'm not involved in wikisource I suspect this isn't much of an issue there, at least for the Bible and the Quran in English, since there is bound to be someone who will notice.
On wikipedia, it's more complicated. Policy does allow us to quote copyright works under US fair usage law. But WP:NFCC and other policies would generally suggest we should not do so if there are free alternatives available which would suggest we should avoid using copyrighted translations unless it's really necessary. So the question then becomes when is it necessary? Ultimately as with any NFCC case, this becomes more of a policy issue relating to our desire to have a free encyclopaedia than a copyright issue.
And as for whether people care about copyright issues in this case, of course they do. You can see the issue of copyright of translations was mentioned way back in 2004 Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Text of the creation account in Genesis. We also have this Wikipedia:Citing sources/Bible from 2006 although it hasn't been substanially edited since 2010. The issue came up again as recently as July this year Wikipedia:Media copyright questions/Archive/2013/July#Bible quotations Wikipedia talk:Non-free content/Archive 60#RfC: Use of non-free Bible translations. And by no means am I suggesting these are the oldest & most recent discussions.
Nil Einne (talk) 14:33, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Setting aside the question of religious texts, which others have already answered... No Wikipedia contributor has an obligation to do anything they don't want to do. (If you make a mistake, you're expected to fix it, but that's somewhat different.) If an administrator is uncomfortable with deleting a specific page, then they don't need to delete it. We're all volunteers here. I know I don't fix every single typo I see while browsing Wikipedia; and if you work on big-picture stuff, it actually becomes impossible to fix every single problem you see right away—for instance, there are a couple of things I've found on Wikidata that will require me to edit thousands of pages to fix... When I feel sufficiently motivated, I'll tackle a hundred or two, but I'd go mad if I tried to do it all at once, and then there'll just be another thing waiting for me when I'm done. — PinkAmpers&(Je vous invite à me parler) 15:01, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
This is an easy question. Copyright violations must be deleted. If people complain about it, they are in the wrong. If they continue to try to upload it, they will be blocked. This is not a complex philosophical gray area. As noted above, there is also the question of "fair use", in which a certain amount of a text can be quoted/used for certain delimited purposes, but that doesn't seem to be what you are asking about.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 15:13, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
thanks ;) this seemingly easy question for you is not so easy for a lot of people... and people tend to see that 'they are in the wrong'. i am a Ukrainian Wikipedia admin, so i do know what i am talking about here :) by the way, by answering so you have lost any chance of becoming a Wikimedia Ukraine member soon, as according to the executive director (and a board member) if a wikisource admin deletes a translation of the Bible into Ukrainian — (s)he is not worth becoming a WMUA member, even if the applicant is you yourself, even if the translation is a copyrighted one (in Ukrainian). and as this point of view is shared by two more board members and the forth board member (and a chairman) decides to avoid taking any actions there and suggests to... stop considering any applications until the General Assembly (and it scheduled to happen in a month) — and that is four voices 'not supporting'. so you are out. and the discussion there is a pretty heated one... i do have a conflict of interest here. i am a board member myself, so i am supposed to defend my chapter. but as a wikiproject administrator i just cannot ignore such outrageous (and public) tampering with my wikibeliefs. abiding by the rules is not the same as being a 'national' enemy, or is it?.. that is a question. and sadly not an easy one... i fear :( --antanana 22:48, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
I may well be wrong, but, it might make things clearer if you were to now start a section entitled "I think there are problems with the Ukrainian Wikipedia", in which you outline problems with the Ukrainian Wikipedia, and ask Jimbo (and talk page stalkers) what is the best way forward. Starting with a question related to the issue is one way to discover people's views, but it also causes uncertainties as to what is being asked or what the problem is, or what you would like people to do. (Oh, and using Jimbo as an example of someone who you feel "lost any chance of becoming a Wikimedia Ukraine member" doesn't really add to the clarity of your communication either.) --Demiurge1000 (talk) 21:19, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
You are wrong. The comparison with Jimbo was in original diff on WMUA website.--Anatoliy (Talk) 23:20, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Wrong? Me? Surely not. Well, I offered some advice. Good luck. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 01:39, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Well, my English is not good. We did not understand each other.--Anatoliy (Talk) 02:25, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
thanks for your input here, but in no way i am going to start such a section ;)) Ukrainian Wikipedia seems a nice cosy place, and even if there are times when it is not so nice there — i would not complain. the community decides there. and the community alone. but Wikimedia Ukraine is quite a different story. the organization sets its own rules (to some extent, of course), but the main principles are to be respected, i believe. if the goals of the organization are to support wikiprojects, the organization may not just go ignoring one of the pillars of the wikiprojects and encourage copyright violations, and that seems the issue here --アンタナナ 10:53, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Here is a translation of the quotation of the executive director of Wikimedia Ukraine Yury Perohanych, where he calls a crime sticking to the rules of wikisources. That is also how sounds the motivation of declying the apply of the user DixonD to join the organization Wikimedia Ukraine and of getting one negative response on my own apply to join the organization.
Board Members are ought to be guided by their own conscience and beliefs when taking decisions. For me, interests of Ukraine and of Ukrainian people are of the highest significance. Of course, I’m using my own subjective understanding of what the interests of Ukraine are, and what they aren’t. If the interests of Ukraine and interests of Ukrainian people require to overstep the law, I will do that with a feeling of joy in my soul, as far as I do not consider such an action to be a crime. I consider extracting the Bible in translation of Ogiyenko from Wikisource to be a crime, even if laws and rules consider it to be good one hundred times. That’s why I’m voting against the entrance of DixonD to the organization, even if Jimbo Wales himself was behind this nickname.--Perohanych 01:44, November 19, 2013 (UTC)


Now, I would like to ask you, what should do Ukrainian Wikipedians in the situation we have, when the executive director and some of the board members of the organization which represents the interests of the Foundation in Ukraine, violate its basic rules? And when a Ukrainian user feels difficulties entrying the organization because of his (or her) obeying the rules.--Olena Zakharian (talk) 10:00, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Mr. Perohanych said about DixonD. Mr. DixonD is young and capable admin, but he is rude and cool. So, I ask to understand Mr. Perohanych, you can see, he passionately loves both Ukraine and Wikipedia. Olena Zakharian is PR manager, she only some days ago became a member of WMUA. — Yuriy Dzyаdyk (tc), 15:55, 22 November 2013 (UTC).
As another board member of WMUA, uk.wikipedia sysop and a contributor of uk.wikisource I would ask you to clearly distinguish two parts: the deletion of Ukrainian translation of the Bible and reaction on it within Ukrainian community.
  • The situation with copyright and deletion is quite clear: this translation is copyrighted, copyright cannot disappear even if author's direct descendants die as it is definitely inherited by someone else (another relative, some organisation or the state depending on their will). As we do not have permission and the work is not in public domain yet, it seems to be quite clear that this work cannot be published on Wikisource and thus the deletion is, unfortunately, the only correct decision.
  • The reaction on it in Ukrainian community, however, was extremely heated. On one hand, no one tried to overturn the action (although several called for such action), thus there was no real violation of project rules. On the other hand, there were some quite emotional reactions saying that one may violate copyright in some cases. As approximately at the same time DixonD (the administrator having deleted the Bible) decided to become a member of Wikimedia Ukraine (his idea was to work on Wikisource-related projects, such as working with libraries), his application received a hostile reaction from some board members. Concerning Perohanych's statement, the translation by Olena Zakharian is accurate (and he indeed mention Jimbo Wales), however, a statement by Yuriy Dzyadyk was never written by Perohanych: it was Dzyadyk himself and not Perohanych who accused DixonD of being rude and cool.
I do not believe that any external action is required on this: the situation seems to be resolved, although the reaction of some users on this solution is still hostile. I do not like either comments from some fellow WMUA members that in some situations copyright should be violated and this may be the reason to refuse membership request, but I don't see how we can change people's minds — NickK (talk) 20:01, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
resolved? Admins deleting copyright violation can already become Wikimedia Ukraine members? Not so. --Ilya (talk) 00:36, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

A deep question (it seems) that can be a simple one (I hope)

Dear Jimbo!

I know about a Wikipedia blackout in January, 2012. So, I believe, you'll understand me.

The author of a prominent work died in 1972. His work was fulfilled in 1931-38, partly published in 1937, finally published in 1958/62. All his biographs and researchers have consensual opinion that presently there is none of his descendants. It seems, quite recently there was public consensus: his work is in the public domain. There is a fact: legal successors are entirely absent. (Many of people are of opinion that he worked only for mankind, and his work belongs to mankind. Maybe, they are in wrong).

But now we hear: the copyright cann't vanish ([ diff]). Thus, the copyright now belongs to the Nobody? And we hear: everybody who publish this work violates the copyrights ([ diff]) of the nobody.

Sorry, I don't understand the notion "the rights of the nobody".

Is it a sort of the gaming the system?

Figurally, I hear: "We cann't violate the rights of the Nobody. You are in the sin (you are thiefs)". It seems me similar to copyright fundamentalism.

Last but not least. All of our so called defenders of copyright were against this banner at September 30, 2012.

Sincerely, — Yuriy Dzyаdyk (tc), 10:40, 22 November 2013 (UTC).

FYI: Bible Society's reply: the translation is copyrighted by the Ukraninan Bible Society --アンタナナ 12:23, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
  • It seems strange, but this letter is just received. It contains quite new official information. I hope, it help me in my contacts with Ukrainian Bible Society. I need a pause (some days). — Yuriy Dzyаdyk (tc), 14:21, 22 November 2013 (UTC).

I, myself, think this was a simple question asked in a most complicated manner. Copyright is copyright. Why should it matter if it is bible related?--Mark Miller (talk) 12:51, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

The main question is principal: what means "the rights of the nobody"? — Yuriy Dzyаdyk (tc), 14:21, 22 November 2013 (UTC).
It was a simple question for me either when I was removing this clearly copyrighted version of the Bible. But you cannot imagine how much of harassment and accusations of any kinds I've got afterwards for this and similar matters. I believe that the reason for this could be that some local communities do not really share the same views of how Wikipedia and other wikiprojects should evolve. Otherwise I do not really understand how some prominent members of Wikimedia Ukraine and the Ukrainian wikicommunity in general could not even understand such basic things like the five pillars of Wikipedia and so on.--DixonD (talk) 14:36, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

VisualEditor newsletter for November 2013

Since the last newsletter, the VisualEditor team has worked on some feature changes, major infrastructure improvements to make the system more stable, dependable and extensible, some minor toolbar improvements, and fixing bugs.

A new form parsing library for language characters in Parsoid caused the corruption of pages containing diacritics for about an hour two weeks ago. Relatively few pages at the English Wikipedia were affected, but this created immediate problems at some other Wikipedias, sometimes affecting several dozen pages. The development teams for Parsoid and VisualEditor apologize for the serious disruption and thank the people who reported this emergency at Wikipedia:VisualEditor/Feedback and on the public IRC channel, #mediawiki-visualeditor.

There have been dozens of changes since the last newsletter. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Accidental deletion of infoboxes and other items: You now need to press the Delete or ← Backspace key twice to delete a template, reference or image. The first time, the item becomes selected, and the second time, it is removed. The need to press the delete key twice should make it more obvious what you are doing and help avoid accidental removals of infoboxes and similar (bug 55336).
  • Switch from VisualEditor to the wikitext editor: A new feature lets you make a direct, one-way editing interface change, which will preserve your changes without needing to save the page and re-open it in the wikitext editor (bug 50687). It is available in a new menu in the action buttons by the Cancel button (where the "Page Settings" button used to be). Note that this new feature is not currently working in Firefox.
  • Categories and Languages are also now directly available in that menu. The category suggestions drop-down was appearing in the wrong place rather than below its input box, which is now fixed. An incompatibility between VisualEditor and the deployed Parsoid service that prevented editing categories and language links was fixed.
  • File:, Help: and Category: namespaces: VisualEditor was enabled for these namespaces the on all wikis (bug 55968), the Portal: and Viquiprojecte: namespaces on the Catalan Wikipedia (bug 56000), and the Portal: and Book: namespaces on the English Wikipedia (bug 56001).
  • Media item resizing: We improved how files are viewed in a few ways. First, inline media items can now be resized in the same way that has been possible with block ones (like thumbnails) before. When resizing a media item, you can see a live preview of how it will look as you drag it (bug 54298). While you are dragging an image to resize it, we now show a label with the current dimensions (bug 54297). Once you have resized it, we fetch a new, higher resolution image for the media item if necessary (bug 55697). Manual setting of media item sizes in their dialog is nearly complete and should be available next week. If you hold down the ⇧ Shift key whilst resizing an image, it will now snap to a 10 pixel grid instead of the normal free-hand sizing. The media item resize label now is centered while resizing regardless of which tool you use to resize it.
  • Undo and redo: A number of improvements were made to the transactions system which make undoing and redoing more reliable during real-time collaboration (bug 53224).
  • Save dialogue: The save page was re-written to use the same code as all other dialogs (bug 48566), and in the process fixed a number of issues. The save dialog is re-accessible if it loses focus (bug 50722), or if you review a null edit (bug 53313); its checkboxes for minor edit, watch the page, and flagged revisions options now layout much more cleanly (bug 52175), and the tab order of the buttons is now closer to what users will expect (bug 51918). There was a bug in the save dialog that caused it to crash if there was an error in loading the page from Parsoid, which is now fixed.
  • Links to other articles or pages sometimes sent people to invalid pages. VisualEditor now keeps track of the context in which you loaded the page, which lets us fix up links in document to point to the correct place regardless of what entry point you launched the editor from—so the content of pages loaded through /wiki/Foobar?veaction=edit and /w/index.php?title=Foobar&veaction=edit both now have text links that work if triggered (bug 48915).
  • Toolbar links: A bug that caused the toolbar's menus to get shorter or even blank when scrolled down the page in Firefox is now fixed (bug 55343).
  • Numbered external links: VisualEditor now supports Parsoid's changed representation of numbered external links (bug 53505).
  • Removed empty templates: We also fixed an issue that meant that completely empty templates became impossible to interact with inside VisualEditor, as they didn't show up (bug 55810).
  • Mathematics formulae: If you would like to try the experimental LaTeX mathematics tool in VisualEditor, you will need to opt-in to Beta Features. This is currently available on Meta-wiki, Wikimedia Commons, and It will be available on all other Wikimedia sites on 21 November.
  • Browser testing support: If you are interested in technical details, the browser tests were expanded to cover some basic cursor operations, which uncovered an issue in our testing framework that doesn't work with cursoring in Firefox; the Chrome tests continue to fail due to a bug with the welcome message for that part of the testing framework.
  • Load time: VisualEditor now uses content language when fetching Wikipedia:TemplateData information, so reducing bandwidth use, and users on multi-language or multi-script wikis now get TemplateData hinting for templates as they would expect (bug 50888).
  • Reuse of VisualEditor: Work on spinning out the user experience (UX) framework from VisualEditor into oojs-ui, which lets other teams at Wikimedia (like Flow) and gadget authors re-use VisualEditor UX components, is now complete and is being moved to a shared code repository.
  • Support for private wikis: If you maintain a private wiki at home or at work, VisualEditor now supports editing of private wikis, by forwarding the Cookie: HTTP header to Parsoid ($wgVisualEditorParsoidForwardCookies set to true) (bug 44483). (Most private wikis will also need to install Parsoid and node.js, as VisualEditor requires them.)

Looking ahead:

  • VisualEditor will be released to some of the smaller Wikipedias on 02 December 2013. If you are active at one or more smaller Wikipedias where VisualEditor is not yet generally available, please see the list at VisualEditor/Rollouts.
  • Public office hours on IRC to discuss VisualEditor with Product Manager James Forrester will be held on Monday, 2 December, at 1900 UTC and on Tuesday, 3 December, at 0100 UTC. Bring your questions. Logs will be posted on Meta after each office hour completes.
  • In terms of feature improvements, one of the major infrastructure projects affects how inserting characters works, both using your computer's built-in Unicode input systems and through a planned character inserter tool for VisualEditor. The forthcoming rich copying and pasting feature was extended and greater testing is currently being done. Work continues to support the improved reference dialog to quickly add citations based on local templates.

If you have questions or suggestions for future improvements, or if you encounter problems, please let everyone know by posting a note at Wikipedia:VisualEditor/Feedback. Thank you! Whatamidoing (WMF) 22:28, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Great news and glad to hear so many improvements have been made. As a note, and just for future reference for Flow and other initiatives this is about the point were it should have been released rather than the state it was released in. As a side note the release of the Beta tab was also,I thought, a good compromise. (talk) 12:15, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Non-profiling profiling of Norwegian users

The following text was enough to start—and complete—a CU within six hours:

"I bumped into the article 2013 Valdresekspressen hijacking today, and my first thought was "this has been written by Sju hav". When looking at the page history User:Funny linguist have been the prime contributor. As always they are editing about events that are currently featured in the Norwegian news. By looking at this account's contributions to the articles Årdal and Beisfjord massacre, they also strikes me as being written by Sju hav . The article about Årdal has also previously been edited by another sock of Sju hav, User:Pergola Ård, while the Beisfjord massacre article has previously been edited by another sock, User:Bastequi. Given this sockmaster's history with using several accounts for different topics, I believe a checkuser is required to find any other socks that hasn't been discovered yet. ... (talk) 11:17, 20 November 2013", [9]

My first thought is that the plaintiff might be looking for some sort of restitution after this [10].

Maybe there should be a higher threshold for his first thoughts resulting in investigations, out of the blue. (There has previously been a pattern of "silent CUs" from other languages beeing used in following up this sock, but that is not an issue for now.)

All societies eventually are forced to ponder: A good catch by doubtful means, should that be the regular way of conducting business? --Oily bullies (talk) 11:33, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

That sounds like a perfectly valid use of checkuser to me.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 12:56, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
To me it looks like User:Sju hav here confirms that (talk · contribs · WHOIS) has been used by them, should the User: be changed from Suspected Wikipedia sockpuppets of Sju hav to Wikipedia sockpuppets of Sju hav? Mentoz86 (talk) 20:52, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Requesting input regarding Wikisource collaboration

Over at wikisource:Wikisource:Scriptorium#Goals for 2014, I threw out a proposal of, maybe, doing something like WP:1.0 for wikisource, maybe in collaboration with UNESCO, maybe someone else, to try to give us an idea as to what non-encyclopedic material would be most useful to schools in the world to have available for them on the net. I don't know who it was who might have set up the UNESCO CD for schools here, but I think it would probably be in the interests of those same schools who may use the CD, as well as for the WF entities themselves, if we could maybe get some sort of idea of what to have there, and maybe help getting it included. Quite a few of our articles here include material which might better be included over there in some form, and getting some more attention to that site, and its content, would probably help, particularly in dealing with the less encyclopedic content which often gets included here. John Carter (talk) 19:10, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

  • Best non-encyclopedic material would be how-to guides: To create something very valuable for school students, then prepare how-to guides, with competency tests (allowing answers found by re-reading the how-to pages). There could easily be a hundred valuable how-to pages, such as:
  • How to use mnemonic memory tricks to remember lists of items.
  • How to use hints to avoid misspellings ("Never believe a lie").
  • How to solve a proportion word problem.
  • How to work better with co-workers.
  • How to prioritize tasks (and the 80/20 Rule).
  • How to organize a home and avoid hoarding.
  • How to recycle or reuse materials.
  • How to get better fuel/gas mileage with an automobile.
  • How to prepare for a job interview.
  • How to interact with a quarreling couple.
  • How to prepare for a large storm, hurricane or typhoon.
  • How to deter a thief or con artist.
  • How to counteract bullying.
The Internet contains thousands/millions of pages about important subjects, but try to list the 100 most-important how-to pages for students, and that would likely be very valuable for them. -Wikid77 (talk) 22:15, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Isn't that more Wikiversity's sort of material? Wnt (talk) 22:19, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Internet versus vaccines

Jimbo, do you truly believe that giving the free Internet access to the poor countries is more important than providing them with vaccines and clean water? Thanks. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:28, 9 November 2013 (UTC)

Good job, IP. Keep Der Jimbo on the edge of his seat. Sooner or later he needs to take control of Wikipedia to institute a governance system, and on a broader level needs to make the compromises that will allow this encyclopedia—and free knowledge as a whole—to prosper. Wer900talk 16:35, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
Two editors who are not here to build the encyclopedia. The first one is a troll asking a trick question, to which Jimbo gave a wise answer. The second is pushing an almost incomprehensible governance agenda by means of false statements, and thinks that his governance agenda is so brilliant and memorable that he expects readers of his page to have memorized it. Thank you for giving a wise answer to a trick question, Jimbo. Robert McClenon (talk) 20:30, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
Give a man a fish and a fishing rod today, and then give him the Wikipedia article Sustainable fishery tomorrow --Demiurge1000 (talk) 18:53, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
No, I do not think that giving free Internet access to poor countries is more important than providing them with vaccines and clean water. I think precisely the opposite and have said so publicly many times. I am a great admirer of Bill Gates' work particularly on the development of vaccines, but also the work of the Gates Foundation more generally to take a reasoned and well-financed approach to a great many global problems. Bill Gates is a very smart man and almost never wrong about these matters.
At the same time, I think it wrong to think of these things as being "either/or" - the solution to the problems of the very poor is multi-faceted, and people who are interested to help should feel free to do so in whatever way best suits their own talents, abilities, and expertise. Giving people free access to the Internet (or to Wikipedia) will not solve their problems with lack of water and vaccines - but solving their problems with lack of water and vaccines won't automatically give them the tools they need to overcome the tyrannies that have plagued them. Wikipedia volunteers should not drop their work on the grounds that the poorest of the poor need vaccines more - most of us can't meaningfully contribute to that problem. Mobile carriers shouldn't refuse to take positive steps to offer educational/health resources for free in these areas on the grounds that they need vaccines even more.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 16:47, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes, emergency assistance is needed in many areas, and there are a lot of organizations working on that. They do good work and should be commended for that. But over the longer term, education may allow these areas to develop the infrastructure and educated population that will render such assistance unnecessary. The Internet is a powerful tool to provide that, and so getting that to underserved populations is an important goal as well. Seraphimblade Talk to me 17:06, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
It should be pointed out that the Gates Foundation has a bad record in U.S. education; some of their more drastic experiments in tinkering with the structure of schools and schooling have destroyed schools and deprived students of their chances, to an extent that the students and schools involved may never entirely recover from (ask anybody involved in the "break up North Division High" fiasco here in Milwaukee). --02:31, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Precisely. "Give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime." A great old saying, but it does not imply that a starving man should not be given a fish today (to eat while learning to fish!).--Jimbo Wales (talk) 17:25, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
It is worth noting, as Jimbo implied, that the world economy and people of good will are capable of working on providing clean water, vaccines and improved internet access simultaneously. And several other good things as well. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 05:40, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
Developing a modern electronic infrastructure in a developing country will allow such a country to build up their infrastructure in cheaper and more effective way. E.g. in Afghanistan it may be more practical to build mobile networks and then set up virtual government offices, virtual police stations etc. etc. That has the advantage that people from remote locations don't need to travel over poor roads. This then allows the government to have a presence also in remote locations, the lack of this presence is allowing insurgents to have more influence. A physical police station in some remote location is also an easy target for insurgents. Also, if there is a local police station in a remote location, you can't go there and report some crime without the whole village finding out about that. You can even imagine a virtual parliament were politicians can meet that is far less costly than a real physical parliament building which would require a lot of security. Count Iblis (talk) 14:35, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Nice response but as one of your user correctly pointed out first a man should get a fishing rod and then thought how to fish. There's something the WMF could do to help. Every year the WMF collects in donations much more money that is needed to run Wikipedia. Why don't donate a part of it to the Red Cross or a similar organization? (talk) 17:07, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Um, is that true? Could User:Wnt or someone else knowledgeable please let us know if the WMF really collects a considerable amount of extra money.Camelbinky (talk) 17:39, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
This wasn't my thread, but I can know as much as anyone who reads this. If I read it, that is! :) For example, I see it says that the Wikimedia Shop we were talking below processed a whole 2000 orders in 2012-13! :) Wnt (talk) 19:04, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Camelbinky, no, it isn't true. It is true that the WMF has been modestly increasing reserves each year in line with the overall growth of revenue/budget/projects, but that growth has been squarely in line with recommended best practices for nonprofit organizations. If we spent every penny which came in, without building a reserve, people would be rightly critical of us for doing that. If we grew a reserve endlessly and out of line with best governance norms, people would be rightly critical of that. There can and should be some debate about what the appropriate level of reserves is, and some debate about whether we should be pursuing an endowment strategy (i.e. trying to get enough money now such that Wikipedia could survive and thrive from interest earnings alone, or some other similar target). But the ip's allegation is just not very helpful nor particularly reasonable.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 16:58, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Camelbinky, Jimbo has just proved the point I made: Wikipedia collects much more money that are needed to run the site, as a matter of fact it collects so much more that they hope that one day "Wikipedia could survive and thrive from interest earnings alone".
Jimbo, saving is a good strategy for most people and organizations, but hardly for Wikipedia. As long as Wikipedia is as popular as it is now, there always will be enough money donated every year for it not only to survive, but to thrive. On the other hand if for one reason or another Wikipedia stops being popular, no interest income would make it to thrive or even to survive. The bottom line is: the WMF collects much more money that are need to run the site, and the WMF would have looked much better, if it donated a part of it to the Red Cross or a similar organization. (talk) 17:50, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Jimbo, building a reserve to create an endowment sounds like a sound investment of money. Any non-profit would work with that goal in mind, in fact any for-profit company would want a stockpile for a rainy day (or acquisitions), and not have to worry about posting profits every quarter (even governments try to do the same, and most US states require municipalities to have "rainy day funds" of a certain percentage of their annual budget or they can "chastised" or worse during an audit). I believe Jimbo has mentioned before that we probably don't want just one big giant Sam Walton/Bill Gates-sized donation to create such an endowment that would solve our problems because it could look like undue influence, but that we will probably need some medium-large donations to supplement the many small donations. While it is healthy for there to be watchdogs making sure that the WMF is acting in the best interest of Wikipedia, this IP certainly is not "helpful nor particularly reasonable" as Jimbo pointed out.Camelbinky (talk) 18:26, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
Of course you are, and you could be absolutely sure the WMF is spending the donations in the best interest of Wikipedia, like hiring an employee described in this thread or writing the visual editor that doesn't work. (talk) 22:43, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
WMF should have enough reserves to generously compensate anyone harmed due to false information in our medical articles or defamed in our BLPs, but an endowment? We could certainly raise enough to support the WMF off the interest forever - our goodwill is higher than just about any other internet service or nonprofit, today. But I think the WMF should fold if the day ever comes when our readership won't ante up the necessaries to keep the servers running.
The idea of the WMF being able to rumble on, regardless of how crap a job it is doing, or how crap Wikipedia has become, disgusts me. Really, the WMF does not have a privileged place in the hearts of our readers - Wikipedia does, today. The WMF does not deserve corporate immortality, it needs to be scarily, terminally and perpetually answerable to Wikipedia's readers. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 18:20, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
"...and the WMF would have looked much better, if it donated a part of it to the Red Cross or a similar organization." Well no, it wouldn't have. Money donated to the WMF was intended to support WMF initiatives, not anything else. To transfer that money to another charity supporting totally unrelated programs, however worthy, would open a can of worms. --NeilN talk to me 18:33, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Strange discussion. This all seems so removed from fiduciary duties of non-profits and what they can and cannot do with the money, as to be nonsensical. A nonprofit can collect money to sustain itself and accept bequests to sustain itself (yes indefinately) but it cannot itself generally make donations to "other worthy causes" with that money. Alanscottwalker (talk) 18:35, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Nonprofits can and do give money to other nonprofits, but if they stray from their tax-exempt purpose they risk their tax exemption. Giving money to fund vaccines (if I understand what's being suggested here) would probably stray far from Wikimedia's tax exempt purpose. So yes, it's a strange discussion. They can't give money to the Red Cross (unless it was starting a Wiki I guess), but they can give money to Foundations dealing with the Internet probably. Coretheapple (talk) 23:40, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
  • @NeilN, the current donation banner states: (talk) 23:26, 16 November 2013 (UTC)

It's not my field, but I think that they have to get a certain degree of public support in addition to grants etc., to preserve their tax exempt status. Tax-exempts are highly regulated. Coretheapple (talk) 23:42, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't think they have to get a certain degree of public support" but if somebody could prove otherwise please do. (talk) 00:22, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Here's something I picked off Google[11], with the caveat that I'm far from an expert in this. Coretheapple (talk) 00:48, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
No idea why this was addressed to me but I'll bite since your assertions of lying are stupidly easy to disprove:
  1. Not a lie. They assert two facts, neither of which you call into question.
  2. Depends on your definitions of "ads". Our public radio runs promos for upcoming shows and concerts they're hosting. No one calls them liars for saying they're ad-free.
  3. Again, two assertions that you don't disprove. What governments has WMF taken money from?
  4. Why do you call an assumption on your part a lie on their part?
There are many things you can bash WMF for but hyperbolically accusing them of lying doesn't really help whatever case you're trying to make. --NeilN talk to me 23:50, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
As I said above a lie that is half-truth is the darkest of all lies, and I hope you will not argue that the banner is full of half-truths. (talk) 03:06, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I don't see the "half-truths" you're referring to. Every non-profit on Earth distinguishes between staff and volunteers, for obvious reasons (staff need to be paid, for example, and thus they're more relevant to fundraising appeals). Likewise, all user-supported media hold intermittent pledge drives (cf. PBS, NPR, listener-supported radio stations); these are generally distinct from third-party advertising. (In fact, the pledge drives are a necessary alternative to third-party ads).

To your third point, it is entirely possible that the average donation is $30 despite the receipt of several massive gifts. Your complaint suggests that you're unfamiliar with the numerical concept of an average. In your last point, you (willfully?) elide the difference between one specific fund-raising drive and fundraising operations in general. I agree with you about half-truths, which is why it's disappointing to find that your criticism is based on what could charitably be called half-truths. MastCell Talk 18:03, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

Well, I disagree. Let's for example take this statement: "We survive on donations averaging about $30". If it read "our donations are averaging about $30", this would have been correct, but to say "We survive on donations averaging about $30" is a half-truth because it fails to mention millions the WMF receives in grants. (talk) 19:14, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
If you feel that way, why don't you find out how much of the Foundation's fundraising comes from small donations vs. major (>$1 million) grants? I suspect that the majority of Wikipedia's money comes from small donors, entirely consistent with the statement that Wikipedia depends on these small donors to survive. (Incidentally, many non-profits try to cultivate a many-small-donors model, because it's less dependent on the whims of one or two big contributors and thus more dependable and consistent). I'm happy to change my view should you find that the Foundation is in fact built on a handful of mega-grants. But you seem very intent on framing everything you find in the worst possible light, without having bothered to do much fact-checking (neither about the Foundation specifically nor about how non-profits in general operate). MastCell Talk 19:25, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Well, even if it's correct, the word "survive" is not the right one to use. The WMF is thriving, not surviving. They have so much money rolling in, that the only way they know how to get rid of it is to stuff about 30% of it in savings accounts and Treasury bonds, then stuff another 30% of it into needless staffing expansions. The remaining 35% is actually what's needed to keep essential staff on board and to pay for servers and bandwidth. If someone wanted to only to keep Wikipedia running (without the ridiculous "global chapters", the "VisualEditor", the San Francisco real estate, etc.), it could be done with about $5 million per year -- about an eighth of their revenue intake. Even Jimbo says that the WMF plans to save so much that eventually it would be able to thrive "from interest earnings alone." So no matter how you look at it, but to say "We survive on donations averaging about $30" is a half-truth. (talk) 23:29, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
You stated Even Jimbo says that the WMF plans to save so much that eventually it would be able to thrive "from interest earnings alone." but that is incorrect. He stated there is debate about whether to pursue such a strategy. That doesn't make it a current "plan". I'm also perplexed by your comments about the $30 average. Are you really unaware of how averages work?--S Philbrick(Talk) 17:14, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
I hope you agree that if the WMF hasn't hoped to get enough funds to "survive and thrive from interest earnings alone", there would not have been any debate about that. Of course I am aware of how averages works, I simply wonder if the grants are included in the calculation. In any case it doesn't matter. I only wanted to make two points: a)The WMF collects much more money than is required to run the site. b)The WMF has no need to save because as long as Wikipedia stays popular there would be enough donations to run the site, and if one day Wikipedia stops being popular no reserve will be able to save it. (talk) 21:29, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
The idea of setting up the WMF with an endowment is appealing - the problem is, the position WMF is in to influence public opinion is already a resource curse, and setting it up with a huge fund of cash would further increase the incentive for outside forces to take hold of it. So if you want to accumulate money you have to figure out a way to really lock it down, yet to a general and neutral purpose (you don't want to deck out the monastery in gold when the Vikings are on the prowl ... it would be okay to own a field of potatoes though). Wnt (talk) 14:57, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
@69... So I point out that you misquoted, and you do it again. If once is carelessness, what is twice?--S Philbrick(Talk) 20:04, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
To clarify, reaching the level of an endowment (enough funding so that additional funding could be eliminated) is an option that should be considered. I can see arguments on both sides, as can apparently, the Foundation. You seem to insist that it is a "plan" or a "hope". It isn't. It is a point of discussion. As it should be.--S Philbrick(Talk) 20:09, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

How have commercial editors "already lost"?

User:Coretheapple wrote above that commercial editors and their entourage are winning. User:Jimbo Wales replied that they have already lost. Coretheapple, Jimbo, and I are all in agreement that paid advocacy editing (which should perhaps more concisely be called commercial editing) should not be tolerated, and is a threat to Wikipedia. However, I have to ask how the commercial editors are losing or have lost. Several proposals for new policies or guidelines have failed to gain consensus for various reasons. Is the Wikimedia Foundation prepared to act due to the inability of the English Wikipedia community to act, or is Jimbo merely making a statement, when Coretheapple appears to be seeing the same situation as I am seeing (inability to obtain community consensus)? How have the commercial editors lost? Is there good news for opponents of commercial editing in the near future? Robert McClenon (talk) 03:00, 16 November 2013 (UTC)

I took it as whistling in the dark and made a mental note never to take gambling advice from Jimmy Wales. We'll see, won't we? Carrite (talk) 03:28, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
We'll see. Smallbones(smalltalk) 04:27, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
I'll take WilyD's correction and expand it:
  • paid advocates have lost,
  • paid editors have not lost,
  • paid editors who strictly follow wikipedia content guidelines and add strictly encyclopedic content and never write apologetic marketing-speak filler have not lost and they are not really supposed to lose.
--Enric Naval (talk) 11:09, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
What Enric said. Consensus right now, as I read it, is that if you declare any commercial interest and play a straight bat, you'll probably be OK. And if you don't, you risk a major shitstorm which will make your company look bad. Advertising to write articles for pay is generally accepted as wrong and inconsistent with the goals of the project. Those who advocate unfettered paid editing lost the argument, it's entirely about how we manage the inevitable fact of people with a vested financial or emotional interest in the content. Which is, actually, how it has always been, as any follower of articles on pseudoscience or creationism will be able to attest. Guy (Help!) 12:23, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't see the point of this discussion. If Jimbo wants to clarify his comment, he is free to do so. Coretheapple (talk) 14:50, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
I agree. I was asking Jimbo. Robert McClenon (talk) 16:15, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
The board is preparing a statement. The numbers are weak for commercial editors, and the arguments they have made are not carrying the day with the community. There has been a need for refined understanding, and that refined understanding is now spread through the community quite widely. No one supports paid advocacy editing other than a tiny and noisy minority. The writing is on the wall.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 18:13, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Jimbo, I'm sure you've stated before what you mean by "commercial editors", but if you could indulge me and state a precise definition I, and I'm sure others, would appreciate it.Camelbinky (talk) 20:53, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
"Commercial editing" is a relatively new term someone introduced last week. I tend to continue to use "paid advocacy editing". This is editing of article space (proposing things or discussing with us on the talk page is not the issue) by someone who is paid to advocate for a person or organization. It does not matter if the actual edit in question is allegedly "merely factual" because doing that invites a huge and messy complicated argument about what's merely factual. If someone is paid to edit in their area of expertise (the canonical example is a university professor who is encouraged to edit by a university as a part of public service) that's not paid advocacy editing but it is paid editing of an unproblematic kind. Whether you call it "commercial editing" or "paid advocacy editing" it is relatively easy to identify and define, with relatively minor edge cases, and that's why it makes for a good line to draw for policy purposes. And to round out this quick summary: advocacy editing which is unpaid is also a problem - and some would argue it is a worse problem, but it is a different problem for which different solutions are needed.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 22:26, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
[Addendum: I wanted to make clear that if I understand it, Coretheapple takes an even more extreme position than mine, and opposed even editing of discussion pages to suggest changes. I'm sure that he would support a ban on "paid advocacy editing" as I narrowly define it even though he would also like us to go further.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 22:31, 16 November 2013 (UTC)]
Sure, of course I do. Attacking the paid editors who directly edit articles would go a long way toward putting the cottage industry out of business. It would convert that entire field of endeavor into a black-hat practice, and I think it would wither away. But when I talk about article talk space, I'm referring to a narrow situation, which is agents and employees of corporations drafting text for articles, usually in the talk pages or subpages, and then getting a pal to put it in the article. Or employees/p.r. people effectively dominating article talk pages through sheer volume of "corrections." I'm also concerned about use of the articles for creation process. What I'm saying is that there are ways of evading the restrictions that apparently you're putting into place. However, even so, if you guys do enact a significant change like that, turning something you don't like into something that isn't allowed, and if you then give it the kind of publicity that it deserves, as well as an appropriate notice on the main page, you've gone a long way toward getting the problem licked. Coretheapple (talk) 22:43, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
See the note at the top. Guy (Help!) 22:20, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Two cents: I hope the issue of CREWE (more) will be addressed as well, as it goes hand-in-hand with paid editing. And more importantly, (User:Ocaasi might want to chime in here) the OTRS ticket system has been used to help commercial and special interests, like governments, shape articles without alerting the editors working on the page and without alerting the reader. There are no rules as yet about declaring the source of OTRS requests. I hope it's obvious that this needs to change immediately. Further, admins who take these requests sometimes hand the work over to editors who then go unsupervised and who do not always uphold NPOV. In the two cases I'm aware of, these editors engaged in whitewashing (at NDAA 2012) and greenwashing (at BP) articles, and in the case of User:Rangoon11, sockpuppetry and other nasty games. petrarchan47tc 00:21, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
WikiDefender Barnstar.png <font=3> Defender of the Wiki Barnstar
For leadership in keeping Wikipedia free from commercial dominance
Thank you, Jimbo
Smallbones(smalltalk) 22:57, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Abraham Lincoln head on shoulders photo portrait.jpg
Yeah, I'll endorse that. Coretheapple (talk) 23:11, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Me too. ```Buster Seven Talk 21:26, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
As an OTRS volunteer: rubbish. The principal job of OTRS is to help people who have a problem. The majority of all inquiries are referred back to Wikipedia with advice on how to ask for help on Wikipedia itself. The only significant exception is defamatory content, which tends to be removed. Any company that comes along with a "we demand you include XYZ" response gets a polite brush-off. That is what OTRS does. I cannot speak for every volunteer, but that is what I and the friends I have on OTRS, do. And in return we get sniped at by opinionated people with newspaper columns. There are multiple discussion forums, OTRS volunteer confer on any difficult cases, and we make sure (or at least we should) that we draw a distinction between a response to a credible threat, and a response based on just being nice to someone who is impacted by Wikipedia content.
Please do not assume you have any idea what OTRS volunteers do. It is pretty plain you don't know, and that's fine, but don't substitute your imagination for facts, please. Guy (Help!) 00:33, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
I know for a fact, and have confirmed with Ocaasi, that the US government and BP used the OTRS system to influence their articles. In the case of the USG, talking points were suggested for inclusion in an article about an extremely controversial piece of legislation, NDAA 2012. When those points were added to the talk page, the admin referred to the source as "The Readers". At a certain point, it was revealed that the source was USG, but that declaration exists only on one talk page in the archives. As for BP, I am not sure what their request was, but the result was a very promotional (and greenwashed) section in the lede and Rangoon11 was asked to help. I pinged Ocaasi in my note above because we have already discussed all of this, and the majority of what I'm relaying comes from him (would you like to see the talk page archives?). Nothing I am saying here was refuted. Ocaasi also said at the time that we should indeed have rules for disclosure, but none have been drafted. I am hoping that we can take care of that now, and hope I don't upset anyone else by asking for it (certainly not my intention). petrarchan47tc 00:57, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Relevant talk archives here and here (not an exhaustive list). petrarchan47tc 01:47, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
I think we need a "deep dive" into what the US government has been using OTRS for. Wikipedia is not here to be manipulated by the US government, and they need to learn that. I do wonder what the OTRS agents in question thought they were doing... --Demiurge1000 (talk) 01:02, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
There will be no diving until we can get someone to flawlessly deliver the message that it is needed. Even the example of government involvement on the NDAA article can become diluted enough as to require no further action. My bad. petrarchan47tc 18:53, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
If emailing the Foundation couldn't influence content, we'd be wasting our time even having an email system, That's not the point. Emailing the foundaiton is what hurt and angry people do, often after they have tried to fix some offensive and erroneous content and been reverted by someone.
OTRS volunteers edit Wikipedia on their own behalf. If some OTRS volunteers post content without checking it's compliant, then they are doing a bad job, but I have yet to see anyone on OTRS who is anything other than careful. Thats not to say people can't be manipulated, because of course they can, but privileged edits are used only when there is a big huge problem, and most of us don't have anything like the time to go in fixing stuff in any other type of case. We have templates telling people how to fix it or engage the community.
Frankly, if you want to make Wikipedia more supportive of your cause, against NPOV, then only an idiot would email the Foundation. And yes we do get a lot of idiots emailing. Guy (Help!) 00:23, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
As an OTRS volunteer, my reaction was similar to Guy's. I think the problem User:Petrarchan47 is that you used a broad brush when stating the OTRS ticket system has been used to help commercial and special interests, like governments, shape articles without alerting the editors working on the page and without alerting the reader I am aware of issues with the BP article, while not familiar with the specifics of the incidents you allege, so am not expressing anything about those specific incidents. However, the phrasing implies this practice is pervasive. I don't believe it is. I know I have fielded many similar requests. In some case, I point them to the talk page and urge them to make their request at that page, on occasion, I'll make the request on their behalf while noting that it came through OTRS. If I do edit the article, it is usually something straightforward like a birth year. The incident you describe sounds like a problem requiring a response, but your message was diluted with the broad brush approach.--S Philbrick(Talk) 18:43, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't see how "has been used" could be interpreted as a broad or narrow brush. It is the case that it has been used in a way that should have editors alarmed. To what degree the program has been used to help special interests is not something I can comment on. I stumbled on to two cases and these are the only OTRS requests I know of. But the issue I raised originally is that there exist no rules requiring the source of these requests be revealed, and I am asking that rules be drafted. Even these two cases are enough to warrant my request and my concern. I am delighted to hear that as far as you know, this is not a widespread problem. I am sure you'll agree adding some rules to help make sure it's not a problem in the future can only be a good thing. petrarchan47tc 10:23, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Later: Ah yes, I do see how my wording could be interpreted as a wide sweep. However, it does not make sense to me that the larger point should be disregarded on this basis. If the WMF is preparing a statement on the issue of COI, this is a perfect time to bring up the missing rules regarding full disclosure/transparency for OTRS requests. It doesn't matter that not everyone is misbehaving, or that few are aware any wrongdoing exists. The example of the NDAA 2012 should be enough to garner wide support for transparency. This was an exceedingly controversial piece of legislation, and the Obama Administration was taken to court over its unconstitutionality. In short, the NDAA allows for US citizens to be indefinitely detained without charges or trial on American soil for reasons so loosely worded that they can, and do, include journalists like Chris Hedges who've simply interviewed members of terrorist orgs. So the US government had a massive COI with regard to this article, and was defending itself in court at the same time they were secretly being represented here on Wiki by an admin via OTRS, all according to, or at least not in violation of, policy. This is enough reason to begin this moment drafting rules to prevent this from ever happening again. petrarchan47tc 21:54, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Re:"The Board is preparing a statement." — And that relates to WP policy and guidelines, how exactly? The hardline "Ban 'Em All And Let God Sort 'Em Out" minority has the win-loss record of the Jacksonville Jaguars trying to force their perspective into organizational law. They've been rebuffed again and again and again and again and again. So WMF is going to issue "a statement" that Jacksonville has the coolest helmets and they're now planning a Superbowl victory party? Hmmm. That will make for interesting theater... Eventually, there will be a reasonable compromise — but not until after the Jags go 1-15, it would seem... Carrite (talk) 01:06, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
The Terms of Use forbid [12]: "Using the services in a manner that is inconsistent with applicable law." The FTC offered new guidance in 2009 in order to clarify the law as it applies to social media [13], which was only to say that the rules for disclosures of financial conflicts of interest still apply to social media. And that is, the disclosures must be "clear and conspicuous" [14]. What we have seen is that editors have received, or had expected to receive, money from certain people or corporations and then wrote about the products and services sold by those people and corporations, without anything even approximating a clear or conspicuous disclosure. There have been many proposals to prevent this practice, but none have passed into policy. I don't think the fact that the Foundation is concerned with enforcing their own TOS and complying with US law should seem strange at all, but I could be wrong. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 01:37, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
The FTC rules are quite the red herring. They apply to the "use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising". Most Wikipedia content, even that written by paid advocacy editors, would never be interpreted by the FTC as "advertising". When writing an encyclopedia article about a person or a company, the intent is to blandly convey factual information, not to motivate a reader to purchase something. So, no matter how many times we see this "watch out for the FTC, you naughty paid editors" schtick, trust me, it doesn't apply here. I have a friend who works at the FTC in Consumer Protection, and we've discussed this at length. -- Stylecustom (talk) 04:23, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
What about § 255.5 Example 7 in the 2009 Guide: [15]? If a seller of a product pays money to a blogger to write about the product and the blogger does not disclose this, she may be fined. The fact that the person is posting it on Wikipedia would only seem to make it more deceptive: Very few people would expect that the writer of material in an encyclopedia has a connection to the seller of the product, at least less than if the material was on a blog. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 05:02, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
§ 255.5 Example 8 and § 255.0 Example 8 are also good examples. It's clear that the FTC interprets the word "advertising" very broadly. Smallbones(smalltalk) 13:36, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
In response to the above two comments about § 255.0 and § 255.5, the reader can easily note that the examples refer to "a blogger". Wikipedia is not a blog. Bloggers typically write about their opinions, and they typically use their real name to certify their personal connection to their opinion. Wikipedia writers, even the paid ones (if not especially the paid ones), do not produce opinion content. And very often (indeed, perhaps "most often"), Wikipedia editors do not use their real names to certify any personal connection to their content. They gather and represent other secondary resources that describe facts and opinions held by others. That is, on Wikipedia, we do not see "Acme Protein Mix is my favorite health supplement because it makes me feel more vigorous during my daily workouts". We might see "Acme Protein Mix was rated by Men's Health magazine as having the highest concentration of enzymes that may contribute to more vigorous workouts." (And a reference link to Men's Health magazine is provided.) No matter how badly you want to imagine that the latter example is an "advertisement" or an "endorsement", it is not. It is an encyclopedic restatement of an observable fact. Men's Health magazine can be verified by others, as it applies to Acme Protein Mix, and whether money was paid for that fact to enter Wikipedia or not, the content never becomes an "advertisement" or an "endorsement". § 255.0/5 cover endorsements. What you see in Wikipedia can rarely be counted as an endorsement of a product or a company, and so (as I said above) these claims that FTC rules restrict paid editors on Wikipedia are red herring arguments. Only a very inept paid editor would find him or herself on the receiving end of an FTC fine, because they would be editing Wikipedia in such a fashion so alien to Wikipedia's house style, their content would be deleted within minutes, anyway. For an example of an inept employer-based edit, let me offer:
  • "With the experience and knowledge we have gained over the years, we have developed state of the art expertise within planning, building and operation of broadcasting networks. Norkring has entered a period characterised by new demands, new markets of concentration, and new projects. After years of improving our products, services and knowledge, the focus has been enlarged and aimed towards a different market. We have seen an international market that can benefit from our know-how, and the time is right to pursue it. Norkring is taking a step closer to accomplishment of our growth strategy."
That endorsement was offered by (probably) someone working at the Norkring company (User:Norkring), with Norkring being a subsidiary of the Telenor company where the vice chairman of Wikimedia Norway serves as a vice president. The Wikimedia Foundation, represented by Jimmy Wales' signature, just renewed an expanded partnership agreement with Telenor. The FTC would not likely be able to pursue Norkring, though, because they don't have jurisdiction in Norway (correct?), and "Norkring" didn't try to hide the fact that it is a paid endorser (one can assume that the reader would assume that "User:Norkring" is a paid endorser of "Norkring" company). -- Stylecustom (talk) 14:04, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Re the remark above When writing an encyclopedia article about a person or a company, the intent is to blandly convey factual information, not to motivate a reader to purchase something. That is precisely the point and that is why Wikipedia content is, if anything more deceptive when it purports to be the work of independent editors without a COI, when in fact content is written by the subject of the article. Google yields several articles on the FTC's concern about advertorials, among them this[16] from a major law firm's consumer protection group, describing how the FTC has cracked down on "advertorials" that purport to be editorial content when in fact they are not. It reports that the FTC "alleges that these websites mislead consumers by posing as objective news outlets and failing to disclose the site’s financial connections with the sellers of the products featured in their 'reports.'" Such content "is permissible if the financial incentives for the report are disclosed to consumers in a clear and conspicuous manner. But, the FTC alleges that these websites went too far and misled consumers by posing as objective, independent news outlets. In many instances the connection to the sellers were not disclosed, and when there were disclosures, the FTC alleges that the disclosures were inadequate."
So to return to the point of this discussion: yes, the Foundation has a positive responsibility to prevent its property from being utilized in this manner. Even if the FTC didn't feel as strongly as it does, it would have a responsibility and could not simply delegate such things to its volunteers. It would be the same thing if a "consensus" or poll of Wikipedia volunteers favored reproduction of child pornography. If you examine the Terms of Use, child pornography is expressly prohibited. Coretheapple (talk) 14:46, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, I just have more questions. So § 255.5 example 7 uses a blogger as an example, so that is why FTC rules do not apply to Wikipedia, because Wikipedia users are not bloggers? What about the very next example, § 255.5 Example 8, which is about a user on an online forum: Would anyone who would officially judge such a matter really distinguish a Wiki user from a online forum user? I mean, what you're saying makes some sense to me, but the impression I get from the guide is that the rules are for all people who take money from a seller of a product and then go and write about the product. For example, the newest DotCom disclosures text from the FTC [17] says "The FTC Act’s prohibition on “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” broadly covers advertising claims, marketing and promotional activities, and sales practices in general. The Act is not limited to any particular medium." And their press release for the 2009 guide says [18]: "The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement." This communicates to me that an endorsement can be just any positive thing publicly written about a product when the person doing the writing is being paid to write about that product. I value your connection with someone in the FTC, but can you point to any literature from the FTC which makes the distinctions for Wiki-writers versus bloggers, objective writing versus opinion writing, and so forth, that you've pointed out? --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 21:31, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Keep in mind too that Wikipedia is not even remotely comparable to a blog. Most blogs get limited readership and have even less credibility. Wikipedia calls itself an "encyclopedia" and trumpets its "neutral point of view," which even newspapers and other mainstream journalism does not boast about anymore. It is at the top of all Google searches. Coretheapple (talk) 21:38, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Atethnekos, I don't know why this is so puzzling to you, but I will try to respond with crystal clarity. Blogs transmit opinions of the blog owner and could be used to personally "endorse" a product or a company. Online forums transmit the opinions of the users and could be used to personally "endorse" a product or a company. Wikipedia is a tertiary reference that transmits reliably-sourced secondary information. It is very difficult (and stupid) to use Wikipedia to transmit the opinions of the users and can hardly be used to personally "endorse" a product or a company. I cannot point to any literature from the FTC which makes the distinctions for Wiki writers vs. bloggers, etc., just as I cannot point to any literature from the FTC which makes distinctions between automobiles and trampolines as modes of transportation. There is no reason for the FTC to address endorsements or advertising on Wikipedia, because Wikipedia generally is not used as a medium to transmit endorsements or advertising. It is a crowd-sourced encyclopedia, with a Disclaimer linked to from EVERY PAGE that says, "Wikipedia cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here." The FTC has no more jurisdiction over paid Wikipedia editors who abide by WP:NPOV, WP:RS, and WP:V than it would have over a funeral home that decided to sell refreshments during viewings. -- Stylecustom (talk) 22:57, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Thank you. So for example, take this edit [19] from 2005 which added: "One of the most revolutionary products to come out on the market was the company's "Pampers", first test-marketed in 1961. Prior to this point, there were no disposable diapers. Babies always wore cloth diapers, which were leaky and labor intensive to wash. Pampers simplified the diapering process." This text has remained in the Procter & Gamble article pretty much unchanged right up to today, with no reference to any reliable source. So if the user, Inhighspeed, was later found out to have been paid by Procter & Gamble to write that Pampers are revolutionary and that they simplify the diapering process, the FTC rules would not apply to this paid, positive spin on their product, because Wikipedia is supposed to be a tertiary reference source?
I am sorry it is puzzling to me, despite the crystal clarity. What is the relevance of a disclaimer being linked on every page, as you say? For example the DotCom disclosures text just referenced says: "Necessary disclosures should not be relegated to “terms of use” and similar contractual agreements." --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 23:19, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
No need to apologize, Atethnekos; I think this is a truly fascinating and thoughtful discussion. I think your example of a 2005 edit that basically vomited a ton of unsourced claims onto Wikipedia would, indeed, be highly problematic if it were found that User:Inhighspeed was paid by Procter & Gamble to edit Wikipedia about P&G. First, P&G would probably insist on getting their money back, because that was an awful attempt at creating earnestly encyclopedic content about P&G. Second, sure, I suppose that the FTC would maybe have a claim against User:Inhighspeed if they bothered to subpoena the WMF for his IP address, then subpoena the ISP to determine which customer was assigned that IP at the time of the edit (if those records were kept for that long -- I think some ISPs allow customer-to-IP records to lapse every 12 months, if even that long). So, good luck with that, FTC! Anyway, I would like to make what I think is an important point here; something that just occurred to me. We (you) should be careful pressing this line of reasoning that the FTC will be the silver bullet for the WMF in its attempt to stamp out paid commercial editing, or paid advocacy editing. Remember, the FTC is largely responsible for investigating cases of false advertising. If they start looking too closely at Wikipedia, some civil servant there is bound to come to the same conclusion that most of us already did long ago: that Wikipedia isn't really an "encyclopedia" at all, what with all the reputation-damaging falsehoods that have been irresponsibly preserved in it over the years. The WMF could end up on the receiving end of some hefty fines, for it having insufficiently disclaimed representations of being an encyclopedia or, indeed, "the sum of human knowledge". (In other words, be careful what you wish for, you might not like the consequences of your wish being granted.) -- Stylecustom (talk) 00:00, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
Just out of curiosity, can you explain to me what you feel is the downside of a ban on paid advocacy editing? Coretheapple (talk) 00:15, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
It's been covered so many times, I thought it would be obvious by now. If "paid advocacy editing" is banned, there are dozens of zealous Wikipedians who will then stretch that ban as a weapon to attack "paid non-advocacy editing". This will have the unintended effect of driving even NPOV paid non-advocacy editors underground. They won't want to disclose their paid conflict, because they'll find every edit of theirs will be mercilessly scrutinized, and editors against paid editing will attack content that is, in the eyes of most people, actually quite beneficial to the Wikipedia project. If Wikipedia policy could promise that paid editors who disclose themselves will be treated with utmost respect and consideration, and that their editing in article space will be equally evaluated against other editing, then a sweeping policy that clearly distinguishes between advocacy and non-advocacy editing would be workable. But, Wikipedia's culture has proven time and time again that no such respect or consideration will ever be broadly extended to paid editors, given that some anonymous, presumably non-paid, non-biased editors here (many who don't really even create articles) equate them with syphilis. (You do remember that, don't you, Coretheapple?) A community that lacks the maturity to intelligently cooperate even with paid non-advocacy editors can't be trusted to fairly adjudicate a ban on paid advocacy editing. -- Stylecustom (talk) 01:05, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
When you say "paid non-advocacy editing," what are you referring to, how does it differ from "paid advocacy editing," and how would a ban on the"bad" paid advocacy editing lead to a ban on the "good" paid editing? Coretheapple (talk) 01:16, 18 November 2013 (UTC) Perhaps you can also clear this up. You say A community that lacks the maturity to intelligently cooperate even with paid non-advocacy editors can't be trusted to fairly adjudicate a ban on paid advocacy editing. I honestly don't know what you are talking about. How has this lack of cooperation manifested itself? Are you talking about the MyWikiBiz case or something more recent that irks you too? Coretheapple (talk) 01:19, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
(ec) The Wikimedia Foundation owns Wikipedia in a physical sense. Lately there's been some troubles with the servers, and you may have noticed that you get an error message saying "Wikimedia Foundation error." That's because this website is the property of the Wikimedia Foundation. The Wikimedia board of directors owns the project, and it can do what it wishes with it. I have no idea what it is going to do, but if it decides to do something on all of its projects or just this one, it has ever right to do so, and as a matter of institutional self-preservation it arguably has a responsibility to limit the extent to which third-party commercial interests exploit its servers and other facilities. If I were a major donor, I would not look with favor on my money going to subsidize private public relations campaigns. Coretheapple (talk) 01:37, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
And that, Jimbo, is the bottom line. Coretheapple's above comment distills the dilemma we face as a community editing a wiki. Our community is demonstrably infiltrated by various paid COI editors, here to make a buck and push a view. The WMF has the power and the duty to take action to ensure Wikipedia's credibility and retain editor participation, as well as recruit new editing talent. I continue to feel encouraged by your recent statements Jimbo, and hope that the WMF statement will come soon, and be one with sufficient teeth to make an effective policy that will enforce compliance. One final thought: in my view any admin accepting cash to push a POV should be banned as a serious violation of community trust. Jusdafax 06:21, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
I just wanted to mention that the cease and desist letter today from the Foundation's lawyer (see section below), when read in conjunction with Sue Gardner's Oct. 21 statement, indicates that the Foundation, owner of Wikipedia, already views paid advocacy editing as a "black hat," prohibited practice. I never read the Oct. 21 statement, my bad. If you read the letter, and the Oct. 21 statement, together, you can see that the Wikipedia community does not have the authority to condone paid advocacy editing. It is already prohibited by Wikipedia's owners. They have said so. Their word is law. This is their website. Wikipedia's owners have already made their views clear. That being the case, and given the gridlock currently afflicting Wikipedia volunteers on this subject, it's plain that the Foundation needs to follow up as necessary. If there is any confusion between Wikipedia practices and the Foundation's clear desires in this matter, the onus is on the Foundation to clear it up. Coretheapple (talk) 21:59, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
And that explains Jimmy's comment. This all makes great reading. While I await further developments, I have now gone from deeply discouraged to cautiously optimistic. Thanks! Jusdafax 06:22, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Jusdafax, I'd suggest pivoting back to deep discouragement. Two of the three policy proposals dealing with paid editing have been officially declared dead, leaving one that is heading in that direction. I may be missing something, but it appears that proponents of formulating a policy in this area have lost, and fully realize it (to borrow and adapt the phraseology utilized earlier). The WMF statement referred to a few days ago appears to have been the cease and desist letter. So that's that. Coretheapple (talk) 22:25, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Sorry to hear this, but thanks for the update. For a number of reasons, I had little hope that the proposals would gain consensus. I await clarification from Jimmy and from the WMF. Jusdafax 08:10, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Me too, but I'm not holding my breath. Coretheapple (talk) 17:27, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
The minority remains the minority, pious resolutions by and ominous-sounding but ultimately toothless legal letters from the WMF notwithstanding. Analyze the edits, not the editor. Everyone agrees that NPOV is the law of the land. The community has spoken and spoken and spoken and spoken on this, but it's nothing but WP:IDIDN'THEARTHAT from the anti-paid editing hardliners... Carrite (talk) 05:37, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Totally understandable. I think that you have every reason to gloat. Coretheapple (talk) 14:31, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
I have no intention of gloating. In fact, you and I probably agree on about 90% of the essence of this. NPOV is essential and spamming sucks. The question is whether paid editing should be prohibited per se in an environment in which anyone can edit from an IP or by spending 30 seconds to start a new account, in which "outing" is a serious Wikicrime. There is absolutely no way to do this, to police this. So it's a choice: either anonymity and paid editing or no anonymity and no paid editing. The former clearly has insurmountable support. At which point it becomes a question of how to minimize the potential damage of paid editing: either prohibit it and chase it and drive it underground or regularlize it and open it to scrutiny. At this point we differ. I (and the majority at WP) would rather have Paid COI editors declaring their COI and being supervised; others (such as yourself, I presume) want no such thing, which forces it underground and away from scrutiny. That's the 10% of our disagreement that needs to be resolved. Carrite (talk) 01:55, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Does juvenile toilet humor, even if unintentional, have a place in project-space?

Good Morning Jimbo, hope you are well today given your recent ordeals described above. I'm curious to see what you think of this situation, as it potentially casts us in a rather unprofessional light. I recently stumbled upon a an image creation helpfile, Wikipedia:Creation and usage of media files via a rather inappropriate Deletion Review shortcut of Wikipedia:CUM. I'm not sure what the intentions were of the editor who created it several years ago, and we cannot ask since he is no longer active, but I believe it to be a reasonable assumption today that the first thing the average reader would think of when seeing that term is not the "Creation and Usage of Media Files but rather the obvious sexual connotation. Is this how we really wish to direct new users (e.g. User talk:Casaliozzi#Helpme), by saying "please see CUM for more info" ? The RfD and subsequent deletion review are being stonewalled by the usual "not censored!" repetitions, which I have never known to be applied to project-space.

I've been an ardent defender of retaining things like WP:DICK for quite awhile, but I think I'm coming around to changing my mind, and it may be time for a larger reevaluation of whether these sorts of things foster or hinder a collegial editing atmosphere. Tarc (talk) 14:50, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Well, I've been critical of the naming of WP:DICK, believing that the use of combative/rude language doesn't set a good example. (I.E. quoting the link to someone is effectively calling them a dick, which itself is a dick move, so you know, it's just not useful). Anyway, I agree with you. Possibly the easiest thing is to rename the shortcut (and the page?). MFCU - Media Files, Creation and Usage?
This one seems easier than WP:DICK because at least that one has a meaning and purpose (even though it is one that I find mistaken). This is either just an accidental oversight (AGF as you say) or just silly. I can't think who would defend it ardently, nor why.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 15:18, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
WP:DICK directly relates to the title and is thusly appropriate. CUM has nothing to do at all with the media files and creation of them and should not remain. Actually, it should. It is the correct acronym and we are not censored. KonveyorBelt 19:34, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
There is no such thing as a "correct acronym". There are many acceptable variant ways of forming an acronym. And it isn't censorship to exercise the good editorial judgment that an acronym may be perceived as an unwelcome juvenile joke. If people really do have a strange view of acronyms that says that the only correct acronym for 'Creation and usage of media files' is 'CUM' (why not 'CUMF'?) then it's easy enough to rename the page. I would recommend "Usage and creation of media files" so that the acronym can be 'UCM' or 'UCMF'. Finally, there is absolutely no rule nor tradition that shortcuts have to be acronyms in the first place. To illustrate this, let me just reference WP:POINT which leads to ":Do not disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point" - and I would suggest that anyone who thinks we have to keep this silly shortcut on the principle that "Wikipedia is not censored" is actually just disrupting Wikipedia to make a point.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 13:54, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I have to agree with Tarc and Jimbo here. There is no reason to maintain a questionable acronym in WP space: even if the acronym was probably in good faith, keeping it for the mere purpose of lulz is quite silly. I perfectly agree we're not censored (indeed, it is something I defend and most value) but this applies to article content, not to easy-to-substitute acronyms. --cyclopiaspeak! 14:13, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I wonder if this is the time to mention WP:Fag? To me it goes under the heading of "Seriously, what were you thinking?" Fiddle Faddle 14:26, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I noted that one yesterday as well, but it was just met with the typical facetious "but it's just a name for a cigarette!" responses. This is perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects of this project, which logic and factual presentations can be stampeded over so easily by a mob mentality. I've amply explained in the DRV why the keep were invalid due both an invalid citing of policy and to a statistically-disproven claim of plausibility, yet the early results are mostly "don't censor me!" and "find something better to do!". Someone has nominated that particular redirect for deletion, though, and I think there's a stronger case to make here for its deletion. Tarc (talk) 14:33, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
In fairness, many of these shortcuts were created simply using the first letter of each word, so the use of "fag" for "Find a grave" was probably innocent. That said, I still !voted delete at the RfD. Resolute 14:38, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
To be honest, that's stretching AGF a bit much for me. A person interested in the Find-a-Grave project is interested in creating a handy shortcut, so they're sitting there thinking, "Ok, Find-a-Grave, we'll that's easy...F-A-G and we're don...oh, wait." I find it hard to believe that that "oh, wait" moment didn't hit. But even if they didn't, fine, we see the problem now and shuold be able to correct it without drama. Did you ever watch The Closer ? The main character is a woman, who in the opening episode became the head the newly-formed Priority Murder Squad. Can you see what that was acronym'ed to, and why one of her first acts was to re-brand her team the Priority Homicide Division? Tarc (talk) 15:17, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
There is a whole sereies of novels (the Beaumont series by J. A. Jance) in which the protagonist works for the Special Homicide Investigation Taskforce, and is powerless to get the name altered. DES (talk) 23:47, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Tarc. CUM could be an honest mistake, FAG is not. FAG is a cultural/lifestyle equivalent of a BLP violation. A short story to illustrate that CUM could be a honest mistake and how we SHOULD have handled it- As a grad student me and 7 others were in a classroom, professor talking about cross-border economics/demographics in North America (or something, I fell asleep). Well, puts on chalk board- C, then under it U, then M under that; to represent Canada, USA, Mexico. Well, we all chuckled and giggled, but we told the professor- hey, might want to change those abbreviations. He started to laugh a bit but stifled it, rolled his eyes, and told us to grow up. But he did change it to CA, US, and MX. Now, that's what should have happened, someone does WP:CUM and may be it was an accident, we catch it, we all giggle and have a good laugh, and we change it. We move on. FAG on the other hand, the editor who created it should have been sanctioned in some manner, that was inappropriate and not possible to be an accident; you don't make a, an, and, the, this, that, for, or similar short words in a name as a letter in an acronym unless it helps create a particular word that gets your legislation, corporation, organization, or war goal's point across. For example NAACP not the NAFTAOCP. Discussions are decided upon by the quality of the argument, not the !votes for a "side"; I'm saddened to learn that someone closed a discussion out actually taking into consideration the argument "fag is a cigarette" as legit.Camelbinky (talk) 16:15, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

Actually Jimbo, I am not the one being POINTY here. The shortcut was A-OK for 8 years until someone nominated it for a deletion that was less about deleting it than making an example of it. Clearly disruptive. KonveyorBelt 16:41, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

5 years, not 8, for starters. But, I find this line of argument rather puzzling; is there a certain time threshold that a thing can meet so that it is inoculated from criticism or challenge? Why should the validity of my nomination for deletion be less so in 2013 than it would have been in 2010? As for disruption, that is a rather unfair characterization. We have established procedures for the deletion of an article and for the review of the deletion discussion outcome if an editor feels something went amiss. Unless you plan to mount an argument as to how and why following what one is supposed to do in a deletion discussion is considered "disruptive", then I expect a retraction. Tarc (talk) 17:59, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I refuse to be bullied into retracting my comments. And yes, the deletion was following rules, but the question was not about that. The issue here is why you nominated it. And when such a shortcut, the main shortcut for the page, is irrevocably deleted, it is disruptive to templates and archives. KonveyorBelt 20:36, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
The reason for the nomination is contained within my opening statement at the RfD; a vulgar word should not be used as a contrived acronym for a user help page. It is also most assuredly not the "main shortcut for the page", as I aptly demonstrated at the Deletion Review. In the last 3 months (discounting the past week when several people searched for it in the context of the RfD itself), this term was searched for ~40 times, WP:CMF MF ~300 times, and the full title over 4,000 times. You have a right to express your opinion in this matter, no one is "bullying" you to cease. But you if make claims that following our rules is "disruptive" (it isn't) or that a shortcut is the "main" one (this was proven false with factual analysis above), I have a right to counter your assertions. Tarc (talk) 20:49, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
this term was searched for What about linking? CMF has marginally more than CUM. This does not make CMF far and wide the main shortcut. KonveyorBelt 21:08, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Linking? WP:CUM has 5 links, all excluding the helpfile itself and ones discussing the shortcut within the last 2 weeks. WP:CMF has around 30, excluding. 6x the links is not "marginal". Tarc (talk) 22:54, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
The shortcut was A-OK for 8 years, come on, that is the worst argument EVER and personally I have always thought that anyone who makes a !vote on any topic with that as part of their argument should get their comment stricken. Things change. Our !rules as written in policies and guidelines reflect our current best way of doing things around Wikipedia for things that have come across so far, they always lag behind because today we may come up with an exception or maybe even for the past year we've been doing things differently than the letter of policy and policy has not been rewritten yet, but in the end it is always policy that must change to reflect how/what we do. We do not write our polices as laws set in stone to only be changed through exceptional means (though some policy talk page stalkers would lead you to believe that its more complicated than amending the US Constitution). Wikipedia is constantly changing and evolving, if perhaps another acronym shortcut becomes an insult against Bulgarians in the USA (or another predominately English speaking country) then yes, we probably would have to get rid of that shortcut; regardless of how long it has existed. It's common courtesy and part of not being a dick about things that may make Wikipedia look bad, which having a title like FAG definitely makes us look bad. First and foremost beyond all policies and guidelines is- whatever you do, bring no disgrace to Wikipedia's reputation. It pretty much sums up the very reason any policy exist (RS is to protect Wikipedia's reputation as being reliable itself), including IAR; in my opinion that short phrase explains what to do in Wikipedia so much better than the ridiculous essay WP:5P.Camelbinky (talk) 16:22, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Oh, give me a break. Brits suck on fags all the time, no big deal. There comes a time in the life of every slur where it loses its sting. Even the Buddhists have justly repossessed their swastika from its looters. What is important is for people to have genuine rights, like ENDA - that's the kind of acronym that actually matters. Wnt (talk) 18:51, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

It is interesting, almost amusing, the length, depth, and intensity of the discussion over WP:Fag. It shines the unending light of irony upon some of the wisdom of crowds. Consensus will prevail eventually, presumably. I do wonder what the reaction would be to WP:N-word (do fill in the real word here yourself). If it were not WP:POINT to create it then we could see. Yes, in context, 'fag' is acceptable. In the UK it is, or has been, normal to ask "Hey, mate, can I bum a fag off you?", but the context is specific to borrowing a cigarette. In ordinary, more global and colloquial use the word is offensive. Stonewall is working hard on removal of anti-gay epithets from schools. I mention this knowing for sure that someone will find a matter of policy to tell me why WIkipedia should not do so. One might ask where common decency has gone, but there is probably a policy against that. Fiddle Faddle 17:43, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

The word fag is also used to refer to those school kids assigned to act as servants to their more senior students in English public schools. A bizarre and demeaning custom that has now hopefully been abolished. Eric Corbett 18:26, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

Crazy stuff. Any Three-letter acronym is gonna sound 'rude' in some language or other. It's utterly ridiculous to try to avoid them on principle. And you say it's "POINT"? nah, it's common sense, and typical of American-centric principles of alleged 'naughty words'. Meh, grow up. (talk) 05:24, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

That's like the argument that we have to have lots of penis pictures because otherwise, any picture might be considered offensive to somebody. There's a difference between being offensive to someone and being offensive to a large portion of the audience. Ken Arromdee (talk) 17:28, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Some sad news

Jackson Scott Peebles.jpg

User:Jackson Peebles is no longer with us, he passed away in late October. Jackson was a Western Michigan University Honors student studying behavioral science and biology. He worked as an ice hockey referreee and volunteered with the Red Cross. His Wikipedia efforts focused on counter-vandalism and adoption, "greeting new users, encouraging civility, and [obsessively] reviewing recent changes".

Jackson was a Teahouse host, an instructor in the Education Program, and the lead on a Video Tutorials Project through the WMF. User:Go Phightins! originaly adopted Jackson but he went on to run his own adoption school and facilitated a Western Michigan University course himself. Among his userboxes he said, "This user is not a Wikipedia administrator but would like to be one someday."

Jackson was born in 1992 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He graduated Mattawan High School and was Senior Class President there. At Western Michigan University, he was a 2011 Medallion Scholar. He worked at the Waldo Library at the reference desk and volunteered for the National Alliance for Mental Illness. He was one of three students in the nation invited to represent the US at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent’s Global Youth Conference in Vienna in 2012.[20]

Jackson had recently proposed a WMF Individual Engagment Grant called Reimagining Wikipedia Mentorship. "I think this project is incredibly important and should be pursued," User:EpochFail wrote in an endorsement. The grant scored highly and looked likely to be funded. "A very interesting concept...may become a 'keystone piece' in the new editor onboarding process." wrote one IEG committee member. Another wrote, "Taking a 'Teahouse approach' in building sustained motivation and preventing editor dropouts is a wonderful opportunity to develop a true mentor-mentee support system that would increase the activity of new contributors." Finally, "Proposers are highly qualified and driven mentors with a useful background in teaching new editors and understanding the learning process."

He was excitedly planning a trip to Australia in the coming weeks.

On Wikipedia, Jackson earned barnstars in Mentorship, Random Acts of Kindness and Resilience. Friends and teachers glowingly recalled his sense of humor and his hard work ethic.

His last edit to our site was on October 21 2013, the day he died. Jackson welcomed an i.p. editor to Wikipedia: "Thank you for your contributions, such as the one you made to Nikah mut‘ah. I hope you like the place and decide to stay."

Please leave remembrances and condolences on Jackson's talk page. We'll try and contact the family and share your thoughts with them. Donations to the Kalamazoo NAMI chapter would have made Jackson very happy and are the family's wish. Ocaasi t | c 14:26, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
WHAT??? OK, not the best time for me to hear this news. Jackson was indeed someone I held in high regard as an editor. This is such sad news. Thank you for letting the community know of his passing.--Mark Miller (talk) 05:46, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Sad news indeed. One of the things that is unfortunate is how many great Wikipedians I never get the chance to meet.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 13:45, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
He indeed was someone I would have been thrilled to meet. As young as he was and as bright as he burned...we can at least know his contributions will be a part of all of us in some manner. I hope his family knows how much he meant to this site and community. I know there are many editors that don't see Wikipedia as a community of people....real people. But we are and we grieve with his true family. RIP Jackson. I only wish I was able to know you better.--Mark Miller (talk) 11:28, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for letting us know, Ocaasi. Such sad news, it sounds like User:Jackson Peebles had some great plans for future work on Wikipedia, it's terrible that they won't be realized. It's great to think that contributing to Wikipedia might have brought him some satisfaction in his too-short life. Liz Read! Talk! 00:44, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

It isn't necessarily true that his goals will not be realized....there are others that can take his lead and continue his work. I encourage editors who are interested to do just that!--Mark Miller (talk) 05:28, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

URBLP reduced 37% but many PRODed

The good news is we have reduced the unreferenced BLP page backlog by 37% (over 500 pages) at wp:URBLP, from 1387 to 890 pages; however, many articles have been severely condemned for wp:PROD deletion, unless people can rescue them by adding one source. This is yet another loophole in WP procedures, where it can be faster to delete someone's article, then to update the References with even one wp:RS source (from Google, etc.). I think the PROD tags are allowing 10 days for rescue (tags from 15 November become critical on 25 November). At this point, I recommend the BLP editors try to fix 40 articles each, per person, until the backlog is reduced below 500 pages. -Wikid77 (talk) 15:56, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

If it were a unreferenced, and false, BLP about you, would you think the deletion is too fast? Or not fast enough? - Nabla (talk) 10:33, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Correcting the text would be faster, than waiting for deletion, and provides a chance to "set the record straight". Also deleting a bad article, before correction, runs the risk of the page going viral at mirror sites, with no longer a page to correct the facts in WP. Deletion is a horrific solution to a 10-minute update. -Wikid77 09:05, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
The issue is not about speed. The issue is about whether the articles should be present in their unreferenced state. On balance of probabilities some articles on people who probably ought to have an article about them will be removed. That is not an issue at all. The issue is only one of referencing. If the person was notable and verifiably so, then the article may be restarted. The reduction of 37% is laudable. Why should the creating editor not be told that s/he has some work to do in order to save the article, and given a time limit? Fiddle Faddle 10:40, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Agreed, as far as I understand you. The only issue about speed, IMO, is that unreferenced articles stay too long; while Wikid77 seenms to think 10 days are too fast for deletion. So I ask(ed) him how many days shall a unreferenced and false article about him to stay on the 5th or so most visible site in the world, while being mirrored fast all over the net. - Nabla (talk) 17:26, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

I can NOT emphasize this enough. There seems to be a terrible bias among some editors that some sort of random speculative 'I heard it somewhere' pseudo information is to be tagged with a 'needs a cite' tag. Wrong. It should be removed, aggressively, unless it can be sourced. This is true of all information, but it is particularly true of negative information about living persons.

I hope that still applies? Seems sensible, and it's in our core policy (albeit a footnote). Not quite sure why an IP can't remove unref'd claims from BLPs without incurring the wrath of over-eager admins tho. I've tried many times, and been admonished - even blocked - for removing unref'd stuff about people, instead of tagging it.

Jimbo? (talk) 05:15, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

  • Unless it can be sourced: As quoted above, Jimbo said, "...unless it can be sourced" and not unless it was sourced within 10 days. The key issue, the elephant in the room, is "can it be sourced" rather than sourced to 87 documents. Instead, consider the attempted deletion (dif886) of page "Takanobu Ito" about the President and CEO of Honda Motor Co. since 2009, because someone thought being "not sourced" was more important than "can be sourced". In this case, Takanobu Ito has been a senior executive for over 15 years at Honda Motor, as the 55th largest corporation, and head of Honda R&D for many years, yet the page was wp:PRODed while dozens of sources were available to support the text. Then add the mental anguish of the editor(s) who wrote the page, if they found it deleted after 5 years as Honda CEO. -Wikid77 (talk) 09:05, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Short edit remarks for reinserted text

If a text in any article has been written and cited by a sockpuppet and later removed by other another user: Are there any short edit remarks which can sum up the following: Text has been reinserted because the text seems to be true, and is backed up by adequate citations, while the text itself also is notable. I have found such a situation in the article about the Pelle group. (Where I have added three links from today's newspapers about the unveiling of the monument at Aker Brygge in Norway's capital.) Are there any other points which should be in edit remarks for reinserted text? --Encyclo creaccione (talk) 15:33, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

"restored accurate, cited text" – Ypnypn (talk) 03:17, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
That sounds fine. Allthough, for this particular OP, the correct edit summary should probably be something like "restored accurate, cited text by one of my previous sockpuppet incarnations". Regards Iselilja (talk) 14:28, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Portal technology for featured candidacy

  1. I've nominated Portal:Technology for featured candidacy. Comments would be appreciated, at Wikipedia:Featured portal candidates/Portal:Technology.
  2. Notifying you here because this is the last portal that is part of the Main Page Featured Portal drive -- a collaborative initiative created to get all of the portals which are already linked from the top-right corner of the Main Page -- to Featured Quality.

Thank you for your time,

Cirt (talk) 20:15, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

Jimbo, I started a thread I think you might be interested in

While I think that programs encouraging or rewarding students for directly editing Wikipedia have proven, on the balance, to be problematic, I don't think that "paid advocacy editing" is really the nature of the problem. It's important that we keep conceptual clarity about various kinds of problems and approach genuinely different problems differently. On the whole, the problem with student/class edits is not generally that they are fluffy and promotional, but rather that they are just not very good and done with a motive (to get a grade) which is not particularly consistent with the best motives for editing Wikipedia (love of knowledge, love of sharing knowledge, and a genuine desire to improve Wikipedia and the world). I could be convinced otherwise if it were shown that most student projects end up being "forced" advocacy for the professor or institution, but I am not under the impression that this is generally the case.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 16:08, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Great quote: "The best motives for editing Wikipedia: love of knowledge, love of sharing knowledge, and a genuine desire to improve Wikipedia and the world." -- Jimbo Wales Raquel Baranow (talk) 16:48, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Ive been involved in student projects on Wikipedia since 2007, though I do not follow the Education Project model. Ive taught academic writing both in the United States and Mexico and I have seen the same problem in both places at the university level, students who are not prepared for that level of work. Writing a decent article in Wikipedia is tough, and if students don't have a sense of what NPOV/bias is, what citation is or what plagiarism is, it is far too much to ask them to create an article from scratch as a first assignment. Add to this that many professors have the mistaken belief that because anyone can contribute, there are no standards in Wikipedia. For these reasons, my campus (Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico City) has experimented with other ways for students to participate, with translation (now done in Egypt and other places I believe), article analysis, article correction, photographic work and even sound recording. We also have students working with Wikipedia as an option for community service requirements for International Baccalaureate students and undergraduates (a requirement in Mexico). (You can see what we do here [21]) I understand the idea behind having students write, but in many cases, it is like throwing someone into the ocean, after just watching a swim meet and expecting them do more than tread water (maybe!). Even worse if the professor does not know how to or does not have the serious time needed to review articles before they are in the main space. Although I do, the last time I did this was Spring 2013, when the final project (after others in Wikipedia) was to medical write articles in I put in 13 hour days for a while and needed help from medical professors to check content. Even then we still had problems with getting WP:MED's primary source policy.Thelmadatter (talk) 18:42, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Cooley LLP hypocrisy

I'll ask the legal team to pass along the message. The anonymous ip's accusations of "insider favoritism" is absurd.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 09:00, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.

Jimbo, your Wikimedia Foundation recently hired a law firm, Cooley LLP, to issue a cease and desist letter against Wiki-PR. Cooley told Wiki-PR that they must stop editing Wikipedia because their undisclosed conflict of interest was in violation of Wikipedia's terms of service (or close to that effect). However, in looking at the history of the Wikipedia article about Cooley LLP, here's what one might find:

One IP address that is unmistakably assigned to Cooley LLP is User: Here's that IP removing from Wikipedia a reliably-sourced, but embarrassing paragraph about Kenwyn Williams, as recent as March 2013. Did you know that Kenwyn Williams is a Senior Paralegal for Cooley LLP in New York City? Yet, the IP address editor never disclosed their conflict of interest, did they?

Here's the same IP removing a section from Cooley LLP that points out that the firm is not among the top 40 firms in the United States. That edit was less than 2 months ago, well after your Bright Line Rule was firmly established in the minds of free culture supporters. Why did Cooley LLP disobey such a simple rule?

Take a look at User:Rayvl2001. Note their extensive editing of Wikipedia's Cooley LLP article. Any chance, do you think, that he's Twitter user Rayvl2001, who is Senior Network Technician at Cooley LLP? Who would ever know, because no conflict of interest was ever disclosed!

A nifty deletion of information embarrassing to Cooley came from a Cooley Internet connection in 2009. No disclosure there, either.

Who do you think User:Hmmilne is? We can't say on Wikipedia because privacy is sacrosanct (as is cover-up of things embarrassing to the Wikimedia Foundation), but wouldn't it be weird if it turned out to be the marketing manager at Cooley LLP?!

There are also multiple fishy edits from Northwestern University, but one can't easily peg a connection to Cooley LLP, and they happened mostly in 2006. So, why don't we just focus on the more recent and more direct COI edits, shall we?

Jimmy, when the Wikimedia Foundation selected Cooley LLP to issue a cease and desist to Wiki-PR, did anybody at the WMF stop to ask that firm if they themselves abide by the terms of service and community guidelines that they were about to hector another company to follow? Many of us are starting to wonder if there is any entity that's closely affiliated with the Wikimedia Foundation that isn't steeped in insider favoritism and this "do as I say, not as I do" pattern of abuse. Could you please comment on how this evidence about Cooley LLP makes you feel, deep inside your soul? - (talk) 18:41, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

Oops, forgot to mention the good work of Mr. Chmielewski, VP of Client Development at you-know-where! - (talk) 18:46, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
While we are of course grateful for the information, I have serious questions what possible good is accomplished by posting it here. In brief, um, so what? The whole purpose of the above diatribe seems to me to, basically, just be an attempt at distraction, and the fact that there have been no previous edits from this IP certainly does not help. It is certainly possible that no single firm is free from criticism, but that in no way means that Wiki-PR should not abide by the request/order. The cease and desist request has been given to Wiki-PR, and nothing I can see in the above in any way can be seen as calling into question the legitimacy of that request. Certainly, other firms could be subject to similar requests, possibly even the involved legal firm, but that is another matter entirely and in no way can be seen as reasonably calling into question the legitimacy of the request that was made to Wiki-PR. And someone might want to see Talk:Cooley LLP#For shame, the only other edit in history from this IP, and maybe, considering it has little if any real relevance to the article and seems to me at least to simply be further um "input" from Wiki-PR, and whether it might qualify for removal from that page. John Carter (talk) 19:13, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Meh, clear trolling on the one hand. But, much like the pointed over-the-top sarcastic humor of Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, there is a bitter truth to the comment. Again, this is like prohibition: an enormous and inevitable and broad practice is sanctimoniously condemned — via some who are its practitioners, it would seem. Inasmuch as this is another baby step towards a rational path forward, a useful troll. Carrite (talk) 02:57, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Hey I'm not sure if this helps but I believe User talk: is an IP from Cooley LLP that has made some uncontroversial edits to Cooley LLP as well as edits to other articles. Ross Hill (talk) 21:08, 24 Nov 2013 (UTC)
I think it is quite appropriate to raise here.--S Philbrick(Talk) 01:01, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
There is no formal injunction against employees of a company editing the article about their company. I'm sure employees of IBM and General Electric have modified those articles at one point. It's disingenuous at best to compare that to charging money to create hundreds (thousands?) of articles about barely-notable companies. You might want to give WP:COI a more careful read, and come back later. Ish. §FreeRangeFrogcroak 21:55, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Similarly, there is no formal injunction against employees of a company editing the article about their client. So, we're back to where we started: a flimsy cease and desist order being issued by a law firm that is just as "guilty" as the flimsily-charged party. - I'm not that crazy (talk) 23:09, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Routine COI - that is, Mike the IBM employee editing the IBM article - is not remotely the same as WP:NOPR, which is Jane, the Wiki-PR employee, creating an article for YoyoDyneCorp on Wiki-PR's clock and dime. No one pays Mike to edit Wikipedia, but Jane and Wiki-PR make their living doing it. Like I said, ya'll need to read up on the policy. §FreeRangeFrogcroak 00:33, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
But Mike the IBM employee correcting some fact about IBM is not close to the same thing as an editor removing sourced material, without an edit summary, that reflects badly on the company.--S Philbrick(Talk) 01:04, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Also, the Frog says that we need to "read up on the policy", but he points us to a "guideline". <sad trombone sound effect> - I'm not that crazy (talk) 03:02, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Uh... NOPR is part of COI, the whole of which is a policy. You did check the actual page that redirect takes you to, right? §FreeRangeFrogcroak 03:56, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Not sure what you're smokin', FreeRangeFrog. The top of the COI page says, "This page documents an English Wikipedia behavioral guideline." Read up on the difference between a Wikipedia policy and a guideline, then get back to us. Until then, when you find yourself in a hole, the first step toward climbing out is to stop digging. - I'm not that crazy (talk) 04:10, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Egads, you're right. I've been mucking around BLP and NOR for too long. §FreeRangeFrogcroak 04:36, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Hey...if that it still could have been done in a slightly more civil manner.--Mark Miller (talk) 04:39, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
It doesn't matter. My own dumbness aside, nothing can top this epic clusterf*ck. §FreeRangeFrogcroak 04:55, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
No....I doubt much can top that...but what is the relevance to your topic here? This isn't a frog jumping contest. Could you stay on topic please?--Mark Miller (talk) 06:50, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
As I said, I will pass this concern along through the appropriate channels. If you are upset about what someone from Cooley has done at Wikipedia, then you should complain to them yourself. My position on COI editing is very clear and very firm so there isn't really anything to discuss here. We know it is very common and we know it is wrong.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 15:54, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.
What's really absurd is that Wikipedia lacks a written policy on paid editing. In the absence of clear instructions, people who are the subjects of Wikipedia articles often do take matters into their own hands. It's fine to say "no paid editing" and "it's so simple", but the reality is a lot messier. I've had clients try to deal with Wikipedia in a white hat manner, and it is extremely frustrating for them. Wikipedia does not do a good job of ensuring fair coverage of corporate subjects. Wikipedia does not provide effective processes for creating and correcting pages about businesses. Jehochman Talk 13:05, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Paylocity Corporation - $64mm company has an article. No idea if they wrote this themselves or if it appeared organically.
  • Paycom - $77mm competitor does not have an article, despite trying to create one through a transparent process.[22] The backlog at Articles for Creation is nearly 2000 requests. For this business, the disparity between how they and the competitor are covered creates a real world problem.

Our policies reward the black hats who would just create an article, while punishing the white hats who make a transparent request. Jehochman Talk 13:22, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

The obvious question is: if you think this company is notable, why not create an article on them? They are smallish and private. Have you found substantial coverage in reliable independent sources? The competitor you compare them to is going public in 2014, an event that has drawn substantial coverage. Unless you think that whenever we have an article on a company we must also have an article on its competitors, you're complaints ring pretty hollow. The company you provide as an example of problems is marginally notable at best. I don't see a major issue. The real world problem is that they may not have received all that much coverage in reliable independent sources and to the extent that they have, their empoyee who's working on their article hasn't found or included it in his/her draft. Candleabracadabra (talk) 14:11, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Paycom needs to convince an uninvolved editor to make the article for them, not me. Their perception is that if they had just gone and created an article on the sly, or hired a wikishyster to write it for them, this "problem" would have been resolved a long time ago. I tend to agree with them; the article they propose would probably survive articles for deletion. They are frustrated with glacial pace of the white hat process. If we want people to behave properly we have to make the white hat path nearly as smooth as the black hat path. Jehochman Talk 14:25, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Why hide it?

Jimmy, why is your instinct to "close" or "hide from view" the factual evidence of wrongdoing (or, more generously, mistakes being made) by a Wikimedia Foundation vendor? This actually looks worse than just addressing the issue directly. Happy to see you'll refer the problem to the WMF Legal Team, which I'm sure is satisfactory to everyone who was concerned about the problem, assuming that they will actually talk to Cooley LLP about the problem. - I'm not that crazy (talk) 11:35, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Additionally, the User:Computerperson4000 has devoted about 90% of his or her added bytes of Wikipedia content to an article William E. Grauer, a partner at Cooley LLP. Seems close to being a single-purpose account. - I'm not that crazy (talk) 11:52, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
How about: because it is irrelevant? I am sure Jimmy will point out to them that their edits may cause PR problems for them, but this is small beer and in no way comparable to a companys setting up deliberately to profit from editing Wikipedia on bhalf of others. In case it wasn't obvious, there is a difference between what a company does and what individuals working for that company might do.
It would be great if every firm's social media policy made it clear that editing Wikipedia articles about the company or its clients would be a CoI and should be avoided. Equally, it would be astonishing if anybody who is the subject of a Wikipedia biography would hold back form removing material they find hurtful - even if it's true - from the office. It's the difference between a business model and human nature. Guy (Help!) 14:06, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
I'd love to see an example of any corporate policy that achieves 100% compliance. Any article about any large company will have edits by employees from time to time. As Guy said, it's just human nature. There's a huge difference between an occasional slip up, which is easily corrected by article watchers, and a concerted campaign to own an article for commercial purposes. That said, as I argue above, I think there's a lot of room for Wikipedia to improve how it deals with commercial topics. Jehochman Talk 14:12, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Except that it probably won't really cause "PR problems", as it becomes more and more clear that most companies do this as a matter of course. I don't think there's any particular evidence of "insider favoritism", it's more that it would be hard to find a firm that doesn't engage in their article to one degree or another.
The more basic question is: why did the WMF use an outside contractor rather than just having one of the lawyers on staff write the C&D? --SB_Johnny | talk✌ 14:22, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Agree that this is a big question. Perhaps the WMF was (rightly) afraid that if they get too involved in the legal execution of "community-written" guidelines and policies, they are no longer behaving as an "interactive computer service" protected by Section 230. - 2001:558:1404:0:0:5EFE:A24:6CC2 (talk) 14:59, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Guy, it's not "human nature" to issue a formal cease and desist letter to another company, instructing them to stop doing something that your own company is very closely nearly also doing. Please don't sweep aside the actual problem here. It is a pot calling the kettle black. The pot may be smaller than the kettle, but the pot is issuing legal challenges to the kettle. - 2001:558:1404:0:0:5EFE:A24:6CC2 (talk) 14:57, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Another drama-less question

Since Wikipedia's goal and basic "prime directive" is to be the most comprehensive and "complete" accumulation of all notable knowledge, has it ever worried you what would happen in the case of a catastrophic disaster that shut off all power (and by extension the internet)? There are lots of such scenarios from TV, such as Jericho (2006 TV series) and Revolution (TV series). Have you ever considered that perhaps Wikipedia would want to do a knowledge based version of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault that was held securely and would survive a natural or man-made global disaster?Camelbinky (talk) 19:03, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

An interesting question. Wikipedia is sorta special. There should be some kind of consideration given to protecting it from doomsday scenarios. NickCT (talk) 19:44, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Shutting off power to a hard disk does not generally result in the loss of the data on the hard disk. The data just sits there until power is restored. (A fictional book by Douglas Adams has a rather similar situation where an aircraft flight is delayed - waiting for supplies of napkins - so long that entire civilisations rise and fall, but still the delay continues; one day a civilisation will arise that can provide the appropriate supplies, and then the delay will be over.)
One can also presume that the relevant data is held in multiple locations thousands of miles apart.
I haven't researched the details of either of the TV series you mention.
You could, if you like, investigate etching the data onto some sort of sapphire medium, which apparently can be long-lasting on a near-geological scale, but that might be rather expensive.
I think Wikipedia project space has a humorous essay or two about this topic, but I can't remember where. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 19:45, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
See also xkcd - Updating a Printed Wikipedia. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 19:57, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Here is a humorous essay that is actually pretty indepth:WP:APOCALYPSE. Ross Hill (talk) 20:31, 25 Nov 2013 (UTC)
First, Camelbinky, thanks for asking a serious and interesting and - as you note - drama-free question. It gets exhausting sometimes dealing with all the drama-about-nothing. Ok, so, first there's the backup strategy of the Wikimedia Foundation - I don't actually personally keep up with tech details all that much so I'm not sure what they are doing these days exactly, but the last time I asked I was satisfied that it was responsible and sane.
But this is a fun question, not just about the kind of scenarios that a responsible and sane policy would deal with. :-) So one thing we should mention is that the database is freely downloadable and surely gets downloaded reasonably often to random obscure and not so obscure places. Lots of academic researchers on Wikipedia culture and community will have a somewhat recent copy.
I sort of like the idea, though I'm unsure of the practical benefits even in mega disaster scenarios, of printing out all of Wikipedia every now and then on acid-free paper and storing it in a salt mine or similar. I just like the sound of it. Or a copy, again on acid-free paper, but shipped to the moon. :-) --Jimbo Wales (talk) 21:20, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Sort of a 'Noah's Ark of Knowledge'... - theWOLFchild 21:31, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Knowing that the planet was doomed, the planet's leaders placed the memories of their culture into a probe and launched it into space, in the hope that it would find someone who could tell others about their species. Sorry, the Star Trek reference was staring me right in the face. Neutron (talk) 00:19, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Expert review project again

Hi. Reading this recent opinion piece in the Boston Globe reminded me that I had left a question here a couple of weeks ago, and so I checked the archives and find that you didn't respond. You are welcome to ignore this again, of course, but in case you just overlooked it, I'll post the question again: what do you think, in principle, of us getting experts to review our medical content, and putting a link to the peer-reviewed version at the top of each article that has been subjected to scholarly review? --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 12:56, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

Oh, sorry, i don't know how I missed that. I remember back in 1999 going to see The Matrix with a physician friend who was complaining about the phenomenon of people printing out medical information on the Internet as amateur hypochondriac experts on their own conditions long before the existence of Wikipedia, so I'm quite sure that the story is true.
I think that, in principle, what you suggest is a decent idea. I think it would be hard to organize and would have some flaws... the same flaws that traditional encyclopedias would have in terms of being slow to update.
A similar idea, likely though to be even more controversial, would be to have a form of flagged revisions enabled for medical articles (might be hard to define what falls under that conceptual categorization) with a group of identified-to-the-Foundation with medical degrees approving revisions. At the top of the page could appear a link to the latest version saying "There is a newer version of this article which may contain more up-to-date information, but it has not yet been reviewed by any of our medical advisory board so treat it with some caution."
I don't have the time to push for this kind of software change nor to be personally involved in helping to organize this, but in principle, I could support it.
You might want to run the idea past Wikipedia:Wikiproject Medicine.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 13:38, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. I'm active at WP:MED and on the board of m:WikiprojectMed Foundation, and I'm discussing it with some medical editors. The 28,000 articles of interest to WP:MED have a template, {{WPMED}}, on their talk page, and the presence of that template is the current best working definition of a "Wikipedia medical article."
I do like your flagged revisions idea. A lot. It makes much more sense to have the reliable version facing out and the well-meaning-amateur-updated version behind an optional link. And, yes, scholarly review of an article has to be an ongoing process, not a one-off thing, but most topics in medicine have charitable, scholarly and specialist bodies whose missions include education, so I'm hoping these will shoulder most of that burden. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 15:36, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Flagged revisions will not work and will not solve the problems. First, we do not have resources to indicate which versions should be flagged. The few experienced medical editors we have are already overburdened dealing with not only the normal agenda- and POV-pushers, but more recently with the mess created by student editing (see WP:ENB). Second, even our best medical FAs have issues. If we were to flag them, implying some kind of review or reliability, what would the consequences/implications be? Consider the legal implications of us implying that anything in here is reliable medically. Third, if we could have flagged revisions, we would have a handful of articles that we could highlight as having ... anything to flag. As a longtime medical editor-- and one who has a medical FA-- I believe we need a visible, noticeable, not small print at the bottom of our articles-- disclaimer on our content, and we need a policy akin to BLP allowing us to shoot on site. We have real problems in our medical content, and they affect real people. (See the long discussion and ample examples provided at the WP:ENB, where the WMF/WEF has exacerbated this problem by encouraging student editing. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:42, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
If we only apply flagged revisions to featured articles that have also passed rigorous expert scholarly review, I don't envision that being overly burdensome to medical editors. We do need a small but prominent disclaimer in or immediately above the lede of every medical article whose current version hasn't passed such expert review. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 17:05, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
(e-c) Disclaimers are really a good idea as well. I don't know how many people come to wikipedia to basically seek free medical advice, but I can imagine there might be more than a few, and we don't somewhere down the line want to face news stories or maybe even lawsuits resulting from a fringe theory or pseudoscience editor soapboxing some quack theories in our articles in such a way as to result in medical complications or even death for someone following it. I wouldn't mind seeing something like flagged revisions, for not just medicine but for other topics, including a lot of controversial or potentially problematic topics which relate to a lot of controversy and which are subject to fringe or regular POV pushing. In terms of competent review of the type Anthony suggests, maybe some sort of template on pages, similar to the article feedback tool, which could indicate that "this article has been checked against (fill in the blank reference type source) and found (or not found) to contain obvious divergences or flaws" might be useful as well. And if there are serious flaws or divergences found in an article, certainly having some sort of template with disclaimer at the top saying "this article has failed comparison with (reference source x)" would certainly be reasonable as well. John Carter (talk) 17:08, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
I hope to avert the medical equivalent of the Wikipedia biography controversy. I'm trying to keep Wikipedia medical controversy a red link. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 13:27, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, but I still have to oppose this whole idea. We simply do not have access to the experts who can make any claims about our content (with the possible exception of Ketogenic diet, where Colin went out and got an external review, but that was not from a Wikipedian). No offense to the beloved User:Casliber (psychiatrist), but flagging any revision of Tourette syndrome (authored by me) would only mean anything if we had access to someone like James F. Leckman, Harvey Singer, Roger Freeman, Walkup, a few others. It's just not something the average physician or psychiatrist is that knowledgeable about. I don't believe we have the resources, and I believe it opens us up to legal issues. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:14, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
It is scholars of Leckman's calibre that I have in mind for this project. Legal: I don't know. Resources: If we start small - say, just the suite of tic disorder articles - that shouldn't be too much of a drain on community resources. If it turns out to be impossible, we abandon the aspiration. I would hope for significant support from the WMF - both financial and in terms of public diplomacy. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 18:02, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
(multiple e-c) I guess I see a question here about at least in my mind about whether we are talking about only the main articles on certain specific medical topics, or inclusion anywhere in wikipedia. Certainly, I think already several articles which are biographies of "doctor x" saying "his theories about whatever have helped millions of people," cited to Oprah or similar, when the theory is often at least seriously questioned, if not discounted, by the relevant community already do, to some degree, exist here. I don't know the medical MOS around here, but I could certainly see having something in it to the effect of main articles on medical topics in wikipedia should contain nothing which is not included in similar main articles on the topic in expert overviews, like online or print academic reference sources, leading journals, and the like. Other material should be included, if anywhere, in spinout articles, such as, maybe, theories or alternative theories of cure of diabetes or similar titles. Overemphasis on fringe theories in main articles is I think a problem in a lot of articles, but probably most damaging in those articles relating to medical and I guess psychological subjects. Or maybe some sort of policy similar to BLP for topics of this broadly medical type which would apply particularly to those articles which have scope similar to those to be found in such publications? John Carter (talk) 17:35, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Ideally, every Wikipedia medical article will be rigorously reviewed by three subject-matter experts, regularly enough to keep up with scholarly consensus. But to begin, it would necessarily be just our existing FAs, I suppose. WP:MEDRS governs the standard of sources we use for health-related content. It is currently a guideline but I agree with SandyGeorgia, it should be policy. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 18:15, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
I definitely could see it, and maybe similar pages on law and money, being made policy, provided that there are additional pages on how, if at all, to cover fringe and alternative theories and other material in child articles. John Carter (talk) 18:33, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
(e-c)If anyone wanted to pursue the idea, I see a couple problems- we'd have to be more careful than to just say "someone with a medical degree", I don't want a psychiatrist doing a cardiac-related article or someone with a DDS doing an article about bipolar disorder. We'd have to create subdivisions and how many people with appropriate degrees are available around Wikipedia so that there isn't a backlog as seen in Nupedia's peer review system? Would this lead to people in legal-related articles beginning to demand that only those with law degrees approve changes? We quickly could devolve into a place where "everyone can edit" becomes "everyone can suggest, and when an expert gets around to it, it may end up in the article".Camelbinky (talk) 15:11, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I agree, Camelblinky, reviewers must be genuine, identified scholars - experts in the topic they're reviewing. I wouldn't expect them to come from the existing Wikipedia community, but to be sponsored by the relevant scholarly society, charity, institution, etc., and selected by an editorial board comprising Wikipedians and topic experts. Medicine is a special case. Insidious vandalism or well-meaning mistakes could cost lives. I don't see a need for these measures in other topic areas.
Whether the latest (unreviewed) version is facing out (with a link to the reviewed version) or vice versa, the editorial process will still be collaborative and down to the volunteers that currently write our medical content. The way scholarly review works is independent experts give the article a forensic exam for veracity, comprehensiveness and pertinence, just like reviewers at FA and GA do for their different criteria. If the reviewed version ends up facing out, there will be vigorous discussion on the talk page about how the article should look for its next review, and ongoing editing to the pending version. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 15:36, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
While I sympathize with the concept, Camelbinky, I'm not sure that I 100% agree and in any event I don't think this should be a blocker or something we should think is necessary a priori. After all, Wikipedia articles on medical topics are already good enough that (per the article that kicked off this discussion) the majority of medical students turn to it for at least preliminary explanations. And anecdotally, I have heard from many doctors (including those who looked after me when I was recently in the hospital) that they use it all the time. And that's with our totally wiki system. I would say that a psychiatrist (a medical doctor) reviewing a cardiac related article for a general audience could do a fine job - at least as good as random people like you and me who do it now. Indeed, one thing that I think has been valuable in Wikipedia is highlighted in the article that kicked off this discussion is that our explanations are quite clear and straightforward in no small part because we aren't specialists writing for specialists. If the cardiac related entries are only edited by cardiac doctors, would they preserve that? Anyway my real point is this: we should not make the perfect the enemy of the good. If there is a kernel of a really good idea here (and I think there is) we should try it in the simplest possible way first. And if it turns out that psychiatrists are screwing up the cardiac articles, then we have a rethink.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 19:39, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
We already have medical specialist Wikipedians occasionally reviewing articles out of their topic area, and they can usually be counted on to do a first class job, for someone who isn't an expert in the topic. The more of those we can recruit, the better. But this proposal is for a different order of result: a class of Wikipedia article that is recognised by the public, academe and the professions as the gold standard in reliability, comprehensiveness and pertinence. I think the world has the right to expect that of the top search result for health-related queries.
It was the chance to translate difficult medical and biological concepts into clear, readable lay English that got me into Wikipedia and keeps me here, and recruiting expert reviewers won't affect our readability - they will be reviewing, not writing the content.
We'll have a far greater chance of recruiting world class expert reviewers if they know their relatives and peers will find their reviewed version on Wikipedia, and not just a link to it on Randy's latest thought bubble. So I think your flagged revisions suggestion may turn out to be pivotal in the success or failure of such an enterprise.
While the technical aspects of the process are important, they're secondary really to an acceptance by this project that expert review of health-related content and prominent display of expert-reviewed content is a good thing. But on the technical side, I didn't follow the RfC for a new "Draft" namespace. If that's going forward, perhaps that could be the home for article versions that are between scholarly reviews. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 04:22, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Anything that hives off portions of content could be catastrophic. The whole reason this place has worked has been the commonality, with all sorts of different edditors both familiar and unfamiliar work feeling like they can access other areas of content. Lay reviewers are important to technical articles to optimise accessibility to as wide a range of readers as possible. Also most experts have little free time. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 02:02, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
"Hives off" I don't really understand, but I completely agree we should tread carefully here, due to the possible consequences you allude to (and others we can't even envision yet). I don't know where this is going but I'm motivated by the fact that the top search result for most medical topics is unreliable. The world deserves better. Here, I'm proposing a way forward, rather than just carrying on with our fingers crossed. FAs and GAs are not reliable. They're probably safer than most other articles but they're not Wikipedia:Reliable sources reliable. The world deserves better.
Experts have no free time, when it comes to their day jobs. If real subject-matter experts are to review our content, they'll need to be paid. Somewhere in this wall of text I've proposed that scholarly, specialist and charitable bodies with a mission to educate about specific health domains may/should fund the process.
For instance, in Australia, beyondblue's mission seems to be to provide information about depression and anxiety to consumers, carers and health professionals. I'd like to see them fund three highly-respected experts to review our mood disorders articles (possibly a different three reviewers for each article, depending on the topic), and when they're all satisfied with an article, have that version locked into place until the next review. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 12:14, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Interesting idea - certainly some experts have been interested. Not sure I'd agree about external folks locking an article. Also, as this is my field, I have a fair idea who they might ask and what they'd focus on, and expert wouldn't necessarily be able to provide a neat, clean appraisal that we'd be looking for - it is quite a bit more complicated. They would, however, have much to contribute. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 13:24, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Good. No, it won't be easy. But I think we have a moral responsibility to ensure the top search result for each medical term is as reliable as a Cochrane Review, NEJ, or a graduate-level textbook. If you really think it's interesting, talk to me. If this is going to happen, it's you, me, James, Sandy, Colin, MastCell, etc. etc. who have to do it. Any locking of articles will be down to en.Wikipedia, it won't be outsourced; and we would drive the review process - the frequency of reviews, the structure of the editorial board, the selection criteria for reviewers, etc. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 15:07, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
This is an absolutely terrible idea - the kind of idea which epitomizes why we must resist any and all efforts by corporations like Wiki Med Inc. to take over our site. The whole point of Wikipedia is that open editing by anyone who shows up ends up giving better results than restricted editing by experts! We need merely read the beyondblue article to see an example of a controversy (involving gay parenting) for which we can only develop NPOV by allowing everyone a chance to add their sources to an article. No surprise, really - it is a group run by Australian politicians, so why shouldn't it have a political dimension?
But even if we had a hypothetical group of purely neutral doctors, we still must not allow them to start ordering us around, locking us out, and taking over for themselves. Because if we did, we would have a Wikipedia that would have told people that Oxycontin was a safer, less addictive opiate right up until the day the company was fined. We'd have a Wikipedia that (had it been around) would have pushed hysterectomies, hormone replacement, tonsillectomies, circumcision, wisdom tooth extraction, now statins, whatever they're selling at the time, with no room for a dissenting word from the people who aren't with the program.
This M. O. is unfortunately characteristic of the medical profession. They come promising sage advice - next thing you know, they're giving orders. And then it turns out that the orders are all about their own bottom line. Wnt (talk) 16:35, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
You won't get an argument from me about the ethics of drug companies and the stupidity of the medical profession regarding evidence. (The latter are getting better, but the former just seem to be getting sneakier.) But volunteer editors are sovereign here. There is no chance the community will surrender that to any profession, even if that was what I wanted - which I don't. This proposal entails articles written by the people who presently write our medical content being checked by people with expertise. The final version is always down to consensus and policy. As Cas Liber suggests above, experts are going to be proposing stuff that the community will not accept. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 17:37, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
I am cynical reading Peer-reviewed journals with some sourcing guffs that experienced editors would be red-faced if they'd done them here. The rate of this is not insignificant. I've been reading a bit about bipolar and looking at some of the sourcing after some discussion with colleagues at work. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 21:38, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
I agree. That's why I'm proposing this model, where the Wikipedia community sets the highest possible standard of review. One important element of my proposal is that the reviewers be publicly identified ("This version of Cancer pain was reviewed on 2 December 2013 by Prof. X, Dr Y and Prof. Z") in order to avoid the moral hazard that undermines the current dominant journal model of anonymous review. I.e.: reversing the journal review model so our articles will have identified reviewers and (mostly) anonymous authors. If we start out with the highest, most rigorous standards - and never stuff up - scholars, their peers and our readers will quickly come to see an invitation to review a Wikipedia medical article as a significant complement - recognition, at the top of Google, of the esteem in which their peers hold them. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 04:57, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
we would have a Wikipedia that would have told people that Oxycontin was a safer, less addictive opiate right up until the day the company was fined. We'd have a Wikipedia that (had it been around) would have pushed hysterectomies, hormone replacement, tonsillectomies...

And had we been around then, we would have had that with or without bringing doctors to Wikipedia, because we still have to use reliable sources, and the reliable sources of the day would have said the same thing that the doctors would have said. Ken Arromdee (talk) 16:00, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Oppose. Wikpedia's featured articles "are considered to be the best articles Wikipedia has to offer, as determined by Wikipedia's editors." This proposal implies a level of authority/reliability beyond that of featured articles. Yet a regular editor cannot achieve the "scholarly review" goal, even with the community's assistance. It would require endorsement by a member of a select group.

The FAC process is particularly robust, especially for medical articles. Our medical featured articles are as reliable as any textbook, perhaps more so. Yet implementation of this proposal would imply that featured articles are inferior to "scholarly reviewed" articles. It also implies that the consensus of FA reviewers is less reliable than that of a single named scholar. Axl ¤ [Talk] 15:59, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Axl, I'm saying a medical article that has been subjected to Wikipedia's FA process and can be changed by any moron at any time is less reliable than one that has been subjected to our FA process and scrutiny from three subject-matter experts and is locked there until the next FAR + expert review. Surely you concede that.
As for your assertion that our medical featured articles are as reliable as any textbook - I seriously doubt it, given that any fool or psychopath can change featured articles any time they feel like it and their wisdom can sit there for hours, days, or longer. But neither of us knows. I've added it to our research wish list.[23] --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 05:43, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
Okay, that is probably true. I doubt that moronic/foolish/psychopathic changes to featured articles last for hours to days, but that is speculation on my part. I don't think that you previously mentioned that articles should be locked. (Perhaps you implied this by the discussion of flagged revisions?) Locking an article is contrary to one one of Wikipedia's pillars: Wikipedia is free content that anyone can edit.
In any case, if locking an article is your way of preventing morons/fools/psychopaths from screwing up a scholar-reviewed article, the same approach could be taken with any featured article. Axl ¤ [Talk] 10:53, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't think that pillar necessarily entails instantaneous publication, especially when delaying publication will serve our readers best. Anyone can collaborate in the editing process. Whether or not they get to click "save" on the published article is immaterial. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 12:50, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
How frequently do you anticipate that the accredited scholar will review the article? Once a day? Once a week? Once a year? Axl ¤ [Talk] 11:27, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't know. I was thinking that an en.Wikipedia-based editorial board would select reviewers and schedule reviews but now I'm wondering if that shouldn't be in the hands of the topic's scholarly societies. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 19:06, 28 November 2013 (UTC)


I've been mulling over the idea of a versatile new feature for WP: curations, which are essentially named collections of Wikipedia URLs owned by individual user accounts and either kept private or made public. They have many potential uses, but the relevance to this particular discussion is that they could be a good way to provide expert review: a credentialed expert creates a WP account and starts a publicly readable curation of reviewed medical articles. Being Wikipedia URLs, the elements of the curation could reference specific versions of articles, so that subsequent revisions to the article don't automatically get the imprimatur of reliability. The curation could then be featured on the main page, or cloned and expanded/refined by other experts (or ordinary editors, for that matter), etc. This would require significant changes to the software but I think it would be a really useful feature. alanyst 17:07, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

I like this. One thing to think about: it might be nice if the curation software is designed thoughtfully to allow group curation.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 19:39, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I think we can do something like this within the existing structure. I see FAs (and to some extent GAs) as de facto Stable Versions. I think there will come a time when it will be prudent to semiprotect all FAs. We heighten the threshold for change to require specific discussion on the talk page (a link to which can appear if the article is opened for editing maybe) - which we sort of do anyway if there are enough editors watching the articles. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 02:06, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
I support semi protection for GA/FAs being handed out more liberally. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 09:56, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Me too. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 12:14, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

Prominent reliability disclaimers

Following on the (long and well-documented at WP:ENB) mess caused by student editing in the medical realm, Alanyst and I began working on ideas at User:Alanyst/sandbox/reliability disclaimer. Joe Q. Public believes that Wikipedia articles are vetted, and isn't aware that RandyFromBoise wrote that medical content that came up first on Google. People are getting health advice from Wikipedia, and our disclaimer is buried in teeny tiny print at the bottom of the article. The general public does not understand the nature of the Wikipedia, or the enormity of the medical misinformation in here. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:22, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Where to begin... Let's see- John Q. Public does not in the least believe that Wikipedia is "vetted" in fact Wikipedia unfortunately has the opposite problem with Mr and Mrs Public, the fact that Wikipedia is not taken seriously BECAUSE there is a perception that there is no oversight. Second- if you take medical advice solely from Wikipedia you're a moron and there's a concept called "survival of the fittest" that I'd like those people to meet, along with this building called a "hospital" where experts in the medical field will answer all your questions with expert answers. Third- there is not an "enormity of medical misinformation in here"... We don't need more disclaimers and policy has always been against adding more over what we currently do. WP:NOT spells out quite clearly we aren't a "how to" guide and that applies to diagnosing or treating illnesses or injuries nor do we need disclaimers telling people "moron, don't try this at home". No to further disclaimers.Camelbinky (talk) 17:34, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the expertise, Dr Binky; I'm sure we shall be hiring you to vet our medical content. Over and out, this discussion was trashed soundly before it even got started. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:43, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Well, at least I got you out of here. But you could have done it without violating policies on being a DICK and about discussing the topic NOT the editor, and you came soooo close to a personal attack. Frankly this is nothing more than we've all come to expect from you.Camelbinky (talk) 17:57, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
FWIW, all the complaints raised in the last comment above could be raised about that comment itself and its author as well, couldn't they? John Carter (talk) 18:19, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
There are wide variations in understanding regarding Wikipedia's reliability among the people I know - and that's not just a function of IQ. People with limited experience of the internet - regardless of their intelligence - often think we're as reliable as a textbook.
As for the safety of our medical content, I'm an expert on that... as is SandyGeorgia. I spend a fair bit of time patrolling Recent changes/Medicine and so have a better feel than most about what's happening there. Generally, our medical content appears to be pretty good. But occasionally you get people adding dose information, sometimes wrong dose information. A lot of nonsense is added about the effectiveness of some treatments and their side-effects. Our drug articles are very poor when it comes to explaining the clinical significance of putative benefits, so readers may be agreeing to treatments that have a detectable benefit that has no meaningful effect on their quality of life, etc., etc.. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 18:56, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Although a prominent disclaimer may be helpful to readers in some cases, I think its a bad idea from the point-of-view that it would inevitably lead to some editors feeling that it lessens their responsibility to readers and allows them to relax with regards to accuracy and NPOV. That's much too much of a negative IMO. If there are problems with the way medical articles are written such that they could be even a slight risk to the public, then we should be aggressively addressing those problems, rather than seeking to mitigate them. Formerip (talk) 18:58, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

It won't have any such effect on me, and I don't know any regular medical editors or patrollers that I would expect to react in that way. I agree that we should be aggressively addressing those problems, I think I've outlined a fairly aggressive program for doing that in this thread. I would welcome alternative/additional such plans too. But in the meantime we have dangerous plausible misinformation in our medical articles, and it's the responsible, caring thing to advise our readership. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 19:09, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
(ec) I think it's unlikely that an editor would be less careful because of the presence of a disclaimer. At least, the risk that it would happen seems a lot less than the risk that a reader somewhere would rely on disinformation in an article if not for the disclaimer. I admit these are just educated guesses. But I think the potential benefit of the disclaimer to our readers outweighs any potential misuse of the disclaimer by an editor as an excuse for carelessness. alanyst 19:15, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Don't get me wrong. I'm aware that there are good editors of medical articles, and it may be that there are many editors who are always scrupulous and meticulous in their editing and would carry on the same way notwithstanding any disclaimer. However, it cannot be that this applies to all editors, or there would not be problems with medical articles in the first place. Even editors who are not bad editors per se may feel that they a disclaimer gives them the ethical protection of caveat lector. Formerip (talk) 19:36, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
There may be such an effect. But, as someone who watches the crap being poured daily into our medical articles (and usually picked up within 12 hours by patrollers - but 12 hours is too long) I believe that having no prominent disclaimer at the top of such articles is morally indefensible. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 19:49, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
What I'd be concerned about is how the calculus for how material gets dealt with during those 12 hours is affected once editors start taking into account that there's a disclaimer, which some of them will. Formerip (talk) 21:02, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
And I think that's a valid concern, but given the status quo, I still support the disclaimer, but would support us doing a review of the history of med articles 3 or 6 months into their use, comparing the "correction time" and success rate for picking up bad edits then with that before implementation. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 15:16, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
You're compounding two errors here. We do not need any special standards for medical articles. People can give just as much unsafe advice (and more) about cocaine, pet jungle cats, CRT electronics, and neighborhood life in Philadelphia as they can about anything in medicine. Medicine is mostly remarkable for the number of greedy people who insert themselves between patient and cure in the name of ethics - patent ethics, market exclusivity ethics, the ethics of prescriptions, and now the ethics of internet information. When the poor patient runs out of high blood pressure medication and can't afford a physician visit to be allowed to buy any more and has to quit cold turkey, that's not a failure of medical ethics - that's its success at doing exactly what it is meant for, namely, "sending a message" that you pay up, or else.
The problem with the education program is that it is confounded with paid editing. The courses that unleash kids on us do so only for those who have a token to prove they've paid for a certain class, and no small amount of money. I've been solicited two or three times now, but I'm not going to spend one minute extra taking care of an editor on the basis that he's paid for the privilege, unless someone is paying me. I see there's an exception to this (Wikipedia:School_of_Open_course/February_2014) but until the rule is that everyone has the same rights as student editors to the same kind of help, that pool of help is going to be justifiably small. Meanwhile, people understandably expect the professors who are being paid good money to teach the students to be doing basic work like looking for plagiarism and copyright violation, right?
So neither of these things has anything to do with the other; both need to be dealt with independently via the original community virtues of openness, freedom to explore, and volunteerism. Wnt (talk) 22:53, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
You are a serial "medical-advice-giver" at the reference desk aren't you? --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 12:14, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Nonsense. I have merely opposed various proposals there to expand policies to ban any question about anything potentially related to medicine, which some will talk about like it was a criminal offense. Also, a proponent of those once asked me what I had against doctors, and I detailed a number of incidents including, for example, the time a hospital insisted my grandmother be switched to its own brand of insulin while she stayed there, causing her death by insulin shock (which I now realize is likely the result of losing the buffering of her previous porcine insulin by the immune response against it, and also likely to be a result of purely commercial motives - in any case it was a problem she had suffered several times before the last and they refused to budge about); he now makes a point to dismiss me as someone on a crusade against doctors every time I disagree with him. Let's be clear: I'm perfectly OK with doctors giving expert advice, but when they demand to be masters over me, my health, and even what I am allowed to read or talk about on Wikipedia, that is not acceptable. Wnt (talk) 15:08, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

There are a lot of sites worse than Wikipedia on the internet when it comes to medical information. The Lancet published Andrew Wakefield's paper which likely resulted in the death of many. They were never sued. Uptodate did not update their use of activated protein C in sepsis until nearly 6 months after the pivotal paper that showed it worsened outcomes, even though I brought it to their attention. It took the FDA pulling it globally from what it looked like for them to update. Wikipedia contained this info 2 days following publication of the Cochrane systematic review and meta analysis :-)

With respect to a peer reviewed version on Wikipedia. I was thinking of this in collaboration with a journal. After a Wikipedia article had gone through formal peer review a little "journal tag" would be added to the top right hand corner of the article (similar to the gold star) that would link out to the pubmed indexed copy of the published article. If User:Biosthmors and I ever get our act together and finish getting dengue fever published in Open Medicine I will try to do this. The JMIR Wiki Medical Reviews is currently open for submissions. Please note that I am getting ZERO monies from this latter publication even though I am on the editorial board. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 10:06, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

You know how awesome I think your work there is. (Jimbo, a knighthood, please.) I'm proposing another, additional route to scholarly review. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 12:14, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
This is a version of peer review I can (pending details) support. Linking from our articles to reliable sources is standard, and featuring especially relevant sources with substantial support (without making any agreements or exclusivity) makes sense. That said, the journal version should always be something smaller than the Wikipedia version, because there will should always be a penumbra of politics, indirect reports, predictions, and popular references that is worth covering from Wikipedia's perspective but which is not in a position to be evaluated as expert medical opinion. Wnt (talk) 18:25, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
  • WP:NDA, while not a policy, has been widely supported every time discussions like this come up. I'm not seeing any overriding reason why this is any different. Resolute 15:16, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
  • If even one single reader is prevented from an action, based on incorrect information in an article, that would have caused harm, then disclaimers on medical articles will absolutely be worth having. Our articles can also convey the impression of authoritativeness, which is poisonous when combined with the propensity of medical topics to accumulate quack treatment "information". We should learn from our previous experience of this happening and preemptively inform the casual reader that what they are about to see may not be safe or even true, so that when junk information is added to an article without being immediately noticed, it's not presented as "truth" to our more credulous/less cynical readers. (Personally speaking, I'm in favor of the semi-protection of all medical topics as well, but I know that will never fly here.) — Scott talk 14:24, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Magazine contradicts subject, but magazine is a "reliable source"


It appears the subject is present on the talk page (or, at least, claims to be the subject and nobody is seriously disputing it), although he's posting as an anonymous IP.

In the latest dispute, Time Magazine claims that certain things were said by Goetz when Goetz denies having said them. However, since Time Magazine is a "reliable source", it takes precedence over the actual person involved. Ken Arromdee (talk) 21:11, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

That's a potentially tricky one. At least at first glance, it is nice that the anonymous ip number appears to be behaving in a reasonable and polite fashion with a reasonable understanding that challenging this will be difficult. What I'd be looking for is some verifiable public place where he's challenged the Time Magazine story in the past - that would almost certainly be valid grounds to explain his side of the story in the interest of neutrality. But I'm just at the beginning of looking at this - and the WMF board meeting is starting now so I'll not be able to comment further tonight!--Jimbo Wales (talk) 22:06, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
The notion of so-called "reliable sources" is one of the misguided original sins of Wikipedia that we are saddled with through inertia. The important thing is accuracy. Writers should make a considered, intelligent judgment call on what is correct rather than worshiping the publication of a factoid in Newspeople Time magazine or any other similar source. Journalists get shit wrong all the time. Our mission is to get shit right. Carrite (talk) 01:40, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Agree! Die Antwoorde (talk) 03:16, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
While I'm somewhat sympathetic, let me channel those who would disagree to point out the core problem. If we abandoned the notion of reliable sources, then we've got a hell of a mess on our hands with advocates and activists and POV pushers of all kinds coming to tell us "how it really is". Right now we can say quite sensibly, "Oh that's quite interesting and thank you for coming forward with it, but you'll need to get that novel theory published somewhere because in the meantime the best available sources don't agree". That's a really valid point.
Where we have thank goodness made some considerable progress is around what to do when considered, intelligent judgment (roughly, the consensus of thoughtful Wikipedians) tells us that a claim in an otherwise generally trustworthy publication needs to be treated with caution because it's probably false. We've moved past the "worshipping" stage of "verifiability, not truth" into an understanding that we can and must exercise editorial judgment.
In the current case, I've just woken up and so I haven't studied it fully, but if an anonymous ip number shows up and says "I deny having ever said what Time magazine says I said" then we really should do what we are doing: dig deeper. But I think we'd be pretty foolish to simply believe an anonymous ip, no matter how friendly and reasonable sounding. What we can acknowledge is that there are times (highly politicized crimes or allegations of crimes) when it is not unheard of for initial news reports to be nearly worthless. So the anonymous ip has raised a reasonable warning flag - now we need to see what to do about it.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 09:17, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Issues such as this are rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding of the meaning of "Reliable Source". Wikipedia does not declare: "XXXXX Magazine is hereby declared to be a Reliable Source - every word in it is "The Truth" for ever and ever Amen."
Any given source is only "Reliable" insofar it has not been shown to be wrong. Every individual article (or even separate statement) must be judged on it's own merits - the fact that it is in the New York Time means that it is probably more likely to be reliable than Joe Blow's Facebook page. The converse "it is reliable because the NYT published it" is a wrong-headed interpretation of WP:RS. -- Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 10:32, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
You'd think that with something that detailed they would be multiple sources. As we say in the UK one swallow does not make a summer. John lilburne (talk) 10:56, 28 November 2013 (UTC)

Burson-Marsteller and the Bright Line Rule

Jimbo, back in April 2008, an account called User:BMAccount directly edited an article about Burson-Marsteller's parent company. We might assume that BMAccount is affiliated with Burson-Marsteller, given its edit history is 100% focused on Burson-Marsteller concerns, right down to the 5-dollar bill. Now, if you ask me, BMAccount was merely removing hurtful BLP content that tried to pin something ugly on the former head of Burson-Marsteller, just because his nephew committed a gruesome crime. However, this technically wasn't following your Bright Line Rule. Could you remind us, do hurtful violations of the WP:BLP policy trump the Bright Line Rule, or is the Bright Line Rule to be followed even in those cases, and BMAccount should have discussed this problem on the Talk page? - 2001:558:1400:10:60EE:705B:FBC3:C65 (talk) 18:18, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

I'm closing the discussion because many readers who are not familiar with the issues here may find aspects of it misleading in the extreme. Plus, our anonymous friend was asking me. The Bright Line Rule is a best practice requiring full disclosure of a financial conflict of interest and avoidance of editing article space directly, in favor of engaging with uninvolved editors through the talk page of the article, user talk pages of interested editors, various noticeboards, OTRS, my user talk page, etc. There is a general understanding that emergency editing is a permitted gray area such that if someone does it (with full disclosure) there's no reason to be very upset about it. The case you cite does not appear to me to fit either your hilariously wrong description of it, nor did most of their editing constitute an emergency. So I would have advised them not to make some of the edits that they made.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 11:27, 28 November 2013 (UTC)
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.
I'm pretty sure that BLP overrides most other policies, and certainly COI, in this case. in fact, i'm surprised it wasn't revdel'd or oversighted. -- Aunva6talk - contribs 18:38, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Why would that be revdel'd or oversighted, when Wikipedia features a lengthy, gory, blow-by-blow detail of the crime? Would that be to protect the privacy of Chris Komisarjevsky, all while the private dignities of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, Hayley Petit, and Michaela Petit are ghoulishly disregarded? In Wikipedia's attempt to be "the sum of human knowledge", there are a vast number of privacy concerns routinely trampled, depending on the perspective of the reader. Chris Komisarjevsky should hardly be first in line for relief. At least the edit featuring him was removed. Not so much his nephew's victims. - 2001:558:1400:10:60EE:705B:FBC3:C65 (talk) 18:45, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Right. I mean, your seven words; everything else is off subject (cogent -- that's some article! -- but off subject). It was proper to delete the material, but not at all necessary to oversight it. There was no attempt to "pin something ugly" on anyone, no implication that Burson-Marsteller head Chris Komisarjevsky, or Burson-Marsteller itself, was in any way involved in any wrongdoing, just some gratuitous and trivial hey-waddaya-know gossip regarding a relative of Komisarjevsky's.
We're not robots here. WP:BLP is important. It was poor contribution. It's gone. That's good.
End of story? I looked into it some more, and maybe not.
I think most people would be of the mind that if there's an edit that can meet the test "It'd be inconceivable for a sane and reasonable and disinterested person to contend that the edit might be problematic, unless they were trolling or being deliberately contrary for contrariness's sake", then it doesn't matter who makes it.
Of course,the problem is, we're talking about business. If it's business, you have special pleading. If you have special pleading, you can't come together on the basis of common-sense seeking toward a common goal, because there isn't one.
So you have "I was just correcting a misspelling, and that meets the 'no sane, reasonable, and disinterested person could object' test", and then next you have "I was just pointing out and referencing the verified fact that Modern Grommet called our new grommets 'a must-have', and that meets the 'no sane, reasonable, and disinterested person could object' test", and this becomes a contentious and difficult issue where efforts are made to stretch the definition of "insane" and "unreasonable" and "interested" to cover "persons who disapprove my edit", and so forth.
And that's why we can't have nice things.
So while its true that we would like to have the nice thing called the "no sane, reasonable, and disinterested person could object" rule, nothing's easy here. So we have to choose which sub-optimal situation we want to tolerate.
Obviously in a true emergency WP:BLP trumps everything, and then you oversight as required. Here, we have a situation where 1) nobody is being deprecated, really, and 2) the assertion is true, and a reliable source is cited to prove this. It's not an emergency. The person who put it in (User: did so in (misguided) good faith, I infer after going over her edit history. Theodore Komisarjevsky does contain the passage "Komisarjevsky's grandson by adoption, Joshua Komisarjevsky, was one of the perpetrators convicted for the Cheshire, Connecticut, home invasion murders in 2007." [ref] It's arguably trivia, and if Theodore Komisarjevsky was alive I'd surely remove it on the grounds that that it's neither kind nor necessary, but it's not a horror that cries to skies for panic action.
Could User:BMAccount not have asked for relief on the talk page? The material in question was there for about a year. Could User:BMAccount have not waited a few hours or a couple days for relief?
It's complicated. But one thing's incontrovertible: if User:BMAccount had taken all her edits to the talk page, we'd be a LOT better off. Because, you see, her edits included this edit, where the article Burson-Marsteller was attacked. I say "attacked" advisedly, since right off we have the replacement of
B-M worked for both the Nigerian Government and Royal Dutch/Shell during and after the Biafran war. Reports of instability and genocide at the time had hurt Nigeria’s international image, they hired B-M to discredit these reports. The relationship continued long after the Biafran war. From 1991-2 the Nigerian military junta paid B-M’s lobbying subsidiary, Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly (acquired in 1991) over $1m in fees.
The Ministry of Information of Nigeria employed Burson-Marsteller in the late 60s to assist in counteracting allegations by secessionists that the Nigerian government was committing genocide in the breakaway province of Biafra. Although the civil war brought about enormous suffering on both sides, an international commission reported finding no evidence of systemic genocide or serious human rights violations.
Except it wasn't an international commmission. It was a Nigerian commission (there were some people from other countries on it, which makes it "international" if you squint hard I guess), which said 1) there was no mass starvation, and anyway 2) war is hell and besides 3) the Biafrans starved themselves on purpose. It's a contested subject to this day. Some people say there was deliberate genocide, some not; The BBC says that the Red Cross was shut out (even the Nazis didn't do that) and all food was interdicted. If there was mass starvation, was that deliberate genocidede? Maxwell Cohen thinks so [24], but who really knows. The Biafrans could have just surrendered their army (and then prayed for no more mass rapes and massacres), and similarly the Jews could have solved their Recent Unpleasant Situation by a mass migration to Madagascar and so forth.
But if Maxwell Cohen (and Chinua Achebe ([25]) and et al) are right, then as a byproduct of Burson-Marsteller's advancement of their and their clients interests, and incidental to any interest that the Wikipedia might have, we have:
  • On the one hand, removal one sentence of inappropriate gossipy trivia (but true and ref'd) with BLP implications.
  • On the other hand, insertion of, you know, genocide denial as part of a complete restructuring of an article for the benefit of Burson-Marsteller and their clients and only for that reason.
Hmmmm. Tough call!
So this is why, in the totality of things, we would like (and do require!) editors like User:BMAccount to take it to discussion first please.
We're not looking for what's Right and what's Wrong. We're looking for the least-bad option to get our job done. Of course Bright Line delays some useful edits. So does editors getting the flu. Mature and subtle people accept these things. And we're not denying the right of governments to buff up their image or Burson-Marsteller to help them. Heck, they can even do it here as long as it's just on talk pages. Is that so onerous?
It's a line. It's bright. It's on the Wikipedia, where people will argue about anything. It's on Earth, where money will flow into any crack. So let's keep it simple: bright line.
Sorry, you were asking Jimbo. Go ahead, Jimbo. Herostratus (talk) 01:26, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
actually, there is no bright-line rule yet. they are all either closed as oppose, or still in the proposal status, as far as I know, and the specified edit also predates the proposals. -- Aunva6talk - contribs 05:46, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
Sure there's a bright line rule. There's a bright line rule because we say so.
Let me explain that. It's essentially impossible to get significant broad written rules (as opposed to minor tweaks) adopted here anymore. It's essentially impossible because (to elide and simplify a lot) you need a supermajority, and that's hard, quickly approaching impossibility as the number of participants and proliferation of side-issues multiplies. I think that the last big written rule adopted here was WP:BLP, which passed in 2007 I think (and could probably never pass now). The days of making sweeping changes by adopting formal rules on the Wikipedia are over, I think.
But that's OK. That doesn't mean we can't change and grow. We just do it differently. The purpose of rules has always been only to codify accepted practice anyway. And the accepted practice here is that if you're working as a paid advocate for a client, and we know this (either because you declare it or by some other way), and you directly edit an article for this reason, your edit is subject to being rolled back on that basis alone, and any petition for relief on your part on the basis of your right to make the edit will probably be met with a mixed reaction at best.
(In some cases there might be skirmishing and discussion around the matter, and if the consensus is that your changes are good for the Wikipedia (as opposed to being good for your client) then your changes will be accepted, but since your goal was to make the changes directly without engendering a discussion or having to show value to the Wikipedia, that essentially serves the purpose of bright line anyway, just with more drama.)
So yes there's bright line rule and yes it's in effect. That's it's not written down is an interesting artifact of how our governance structures have shaken out, but it's not important. Don't let it distract from how we actually operate. Herostratus (talk) 16:31, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
It's always seemed to me that the way for commercial writers around the Bright Line Rule is to simply write as a paid editor, not a paid advocacy editor. Everything is fine that way, since nobody else is required to disclose their affiliations and biases. If you write paid content that's indistinguishable from volunteer content, then you're not doing anything wrong. - 2001:558:1400:10:80E7:3E83:FD75:DC66 (talk) 17:19, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
anyways, to say that there's a "bright-line rule", when there has not yet been consensus for such, so your argument is simply invalid, Herostratus. if it was accepted practice, there would be consensus. also, WP:IAR. Aunva7 (talk) 18:14, 27 November 2013 (UTC)