Wikipedia:Education noticeboard/Archive2

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Current copyvio issue[edit]

We have this page Social_determinants_of_health_in_poverty. This user from the Rice University did a number of things right. They posted to WT:MED before beginning however did not follow up much of the feedback [1]. They have unfortunately added some images that are copyright infringement. I posted here on April 10th User_talk:Lbockhorn#WHO_images and I removed the images in question.[2] They returned them.[3] I posted to their talk page again April 17th User_talk:Lbockhorn#The_images_you_are_using. They have responded once but have not removed the images they returned. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:11, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

Anyway I will give it another try. I do not think we need to pursue this through their University as this I am sure is an honest mistake. But we need an hour lecture on "Wikipedia is publishing" "you infringe copyright on Wikipedia you will be expelled". An hour many seem long but these are key issues an expose both the students and Wikipedia to legal attack which would be good for no one involved. All physicians get at least 5-10 hours of lectures on the consequences of relations of any sort with patients. There are just some things that should never happen and if they are happening we need to relook at what we are doing. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:19, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Have restored one image so that we can see it for discussion. I am not sure how we usually would do this? Will delete shortly and it is not used in main space so hopefully legal :-) Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:44, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
I've been here for four years, and still have trouble parsing public domain statutes. Copyright laws pertaining to images are anything but clear. After reading that UN template, an experienced editor might think these are good to go as well. (I'm guessing they're not?) The Interior (Talk) 22:54, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Sure but the UN is not the WHO and the WHO's copyright is fairly clear [4]. I am of course willing to give this person the benefit of the doubt. But why would you return it after someone more experience removes it? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:24, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Actually, the WHO is an agency of the UN. It seems that they have internally inconsistent policies about releasing things to the public domain. I'd say to go by the more restrictive one out of prudence until they have a more coherent policy. Calliopejen1 (talk) 23:57, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Copyright is very clear on page 2. I have been trying to discuss this issue with WHO for the last couple of years.--Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 01:24, 22 April 2012 (UTC)
I think the student is starting to understand, but just in case I let her know that she'd be blocked if she continued to reinsert the images. This is what we'd do with any other repeat copyvio contributor, and the danger to their grade should be clear. Let me know on my talk page if she does. Dcoetzee 23:33, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Oh my, that course, and that article. After attempting some cleanup on that article weeks ago, I noticed the image problems, then I had a look at several other articles from that course, then I looked to see if it had effective online ambassadors ... and it was one course that made me throw up my hands in despair. It will not be possible to clean up all those faulty non-WP:MEDRS compliant articles. Did the professors even try to explain MEDRS to the students? Are the Online Ambassadors engaged? Why oh why are students being taught to write medical articles on Wikipedia that are not compliant with Wikipedia's medical sourcing policies, when they have University libraries. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:40, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
It is unreasonable to expect every new article to comply with every Wikipedia guideline. Having that article is surely better than not having an article at all, and the sourcing can be improved over time. This is a wiki, after all. Calliopejen1 (talk) 23:59, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
"You cannot be serious!" Malleus Fatuorum 01:32, 22 April 2012 (UTC)
I think she is ... now, with most editors, and in the absence of coordinated editing and meatpuppetry, we'd be able to deal with the noncompliant articles via AFD and other normal procedures. With students, we find WMF et al rushing to their defense, establishing a different standard for their work from what we would accept from other editors, with language like "don't bite the newbies". And then the WMF spouts data claiming students add more quality to the Project than other editors-- anyone notice the fundamental flaw in that analysis? We are able to remove other faulty editing. We are now effectively unable to remove faulty student editing and articles, because students are a protected class, as perfectly illustrated by Calliopejen1's response above, where she doesn't seem to think their articles need to comply with policy. She seems unaware that we now have entire suites on articles of dubious notability, based on primary sources, amounting to original research, and we can't deal with them via mergers, AFDs, whatever because they are a protected class. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:32, 22 April 2012 (UTC)
So you would rather that that article simply be deleted? (Or never have been created at all?) I can't comment much on meatpuppetry during the term, because I haven't dealt with it, but that article seems to be a perfectly fine (though perhaps imperfect) start to an article that is definitely more useful to readers than no article at all. And even if there are temporary problems with meatpuppetry, I can't imagine that they would endure beyond the term of the class, at which point normal Wikipedia editing/improvement/culling will take place over time. In no way am I suggesting that students are a protected class - I'm just saying that we should not expect their contributions to be perfect - we can't expect that perfection of editors generally, student or otherwise. Calliopejen1 (talk) 23:02, 22 April 2012 (UTC)
The problem with most of what these students projects are creating is not the text needs to be deleted: it needs to be reduced to what can be sourced correctly to secondary sources, which usually amounts to a couple of sentences or paragraphs, and only after it's reduced to that can we determine where we might merge the text. Instead, we see folks with no idea of primary vs. secondary sources declaring "Keep" on marginal articles. As to your discussion of the cleanup problem, there is no way that the amount of garbage I see when reviewing only one or two classes is ever going to be cleaned up-- there's just too much of it. We do need to expect the WMF and the profs to understand Wikipedia policies, including the correct use of primary vs. secondary sources, and original research. Wikipedia, thanks to the WMF, is becoming one big source of original research. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:37, 22 April 2012 (UTC)

Yes the user in question decided to start a new page as the one onSocial determinants of health was of poor quality.[5] We will need to get people improving existing content eventually. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 01:40, 22 April 2012 (UTC)

WMF does not educate participants in writing from secondary sources[edit]

Considering the fundamental differences (that we have discussed above) between most academic writing, and writing for Wikipedia, what has the WMF or the Online Ambassadors or whatever or whomever is in charge of this business done to address the problem most seriously impacting Wikipedia in student editing: the fundamental issue of the correct use of primary and secondary sources in writing for Wikipedia? I doubt that most of our professors know the difference, and this is one of the most pressing issues resulting in most of the problems leading to AFDs, merge proposals, faulty DYKs, etc. (the others being copyvio/plagiarism and lack of responsiveness from students and professors, as well as ill-equipped online ambassadors). If the WMF wants to unleash a bunch of students on Wikipedia who have access to university journal databases, at least they could make a better effort to advise professors about the differences in writing primarily from secondary sources from the type of writing that is more typical of academia considered original research on Wikipedia.

It might also let the professors know that they have some obligation to follow their students' talk pages and their own course pages, and respond promptly to community concerns. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:21, 22 April 2012 (UTC)

Many seem to get the term review article and peer review mixed up. And as many just assume they are they same they do click on the links to learn about them when provided. I spend much of my time interacting with new editors trying to explain the difference. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:15, 22 April 2012 (UTC)
Maybe they need to know that Wikipedia is not a manual, guidebook, textbook or scientific journal. MathewTownsend (talk) 22:43, 22 April 2012 (UTC)
We have a scientific journal proposed here [6]. If we could get this accepted maybe we could move all the student essays / scientific papers here? It would solve the issues. Those who wish to write opinion pieces based on a selection of primary sources go here those who wish to write a tertiary encyclopedia based on secondary sources say on Wikipedia. Come support!Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 00:36, 23 April 2012 (UTC)
Most of the student edited articles I've encountered demonstrate that the profs (perhaps the WMF) have no idea whatsoever of the difference between a primary source and a secondary source. They think because they found it in a journal or an online database, they can write an article around it and use it to establish notability and even to make medical statements. This practice, spreading like wildfire in psych and student-edited articles, is corrupting the integrity of Wikipedia. Hyperbole? I think not. I struggle to keep the articles on my watchlist clean of this original research, and most of my involvement with the Education Program has been because they happened across articles on my watchlist (gee, isn't klazomania sexy sounding, compulsive shouting, let's edit that !!!) Worse, we have folks weighing in on AFDs who have no idea of the correct use of sourcing, so declaring "keep" on articles that should be cleaned up and merged somewhere. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:31, 22 April 2012 (UTC)

Collecting data on student editing[edit]

I agree with Frank that this program needs to be data driven. I think the development of how this data is collected and analysed need to have more community input though. We need to be looking at the actual individual edits rather than the amount of "texts that remains in Wikipedia". Is there some place that this is taking place or is here a good place to discuss? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 01:34, 22 April 2012 (UTC)

Hi James, I think I can speak for everyone on the Education Program team here when I say that we collectively would love to be able to do some sort of data analysis on the scale of individual edits. We did this for the Public Policy Initiative pilot, and it required one full-time person on staff, who spent hours prepping student edits for reviews for a team of subject matter experts (in this case, public policy experts) and Wikipedians. You can see the outcomes of her research here and more information on the research design here. We'd love to see more of this type of research, but it's incredibly time consuming for both staff who are designing the experiment and volunteers who are evaluating student edits. We moved to the text that remains model because it takes dramatically less staff time and no volunteer time. But we certainly welcome ideas that would get at a more comprehensive view while not taking up valuable volunteer time that could be spent improving articles.
We all felt it's important to have done the Public Policy Initiative research because it gave us some numbers based on assessing quality of contributions by reading them, and we honestly don't believe those numbers have changed. It's easy to see the few problem students and think the whole program is bad, but in reality, the vast majority of students are dramatically improving the articles they're working on. Are they perfect when students are done with them? No. But on the whole, they're in a much better place than before students worked on them. And ultimately, isn't improving Wikipedia what we all want? -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 17:28, 22 April 2012 (UTC)
As you are well aware a group of us reviewed all the edits of more than 300 students and the conclusion we came to was one of overall harm. I also know that this issue was somewhat addressed. But it appears that different project formats result in different effects (some harm to Wikipedia, some benefit). I think we need to continue systematically reviewing at least some student work (if not all of it) as this program needs to continue to be data drive.
Using a surrogate like "retained text after so many days" is not sufficient. How we will know if this project has simply surpassed Wikipedia's ability to repair itself or is improving Wikipedia? This design does not allow that. More text is not necessarily better text. I have recently done a major update of the article on tuberculosis which resulted in an article which is 40,000 bytes shorter. By these metrics I am doing "harm" to Wikipedia. --Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:01, 22 April 2012 (UTC)
I would be willing to submit the significant amounts of data about the problems I've encountered under the following conditions: 1) I submit it somewhere where it is not published unless aggregated, so students aren't penalized, or 2) I submit it after the term ends. I strongly believe this debacle is entirely the WMF's fault, and I do not want to be in the position of affecting the grades of the victims of this misguided experiment. If y'all can find a way to accomplish data collection without punishing the victims, pls ping me in and I'll dump some on you. I seriously doubt, however, that the WMF will aggregate the data correctly, because many of them seem unaware to unconcerned about the significant amount of original research that is now on Wikipedia as a result of this program. When articles survive AFD as a result of coordinated editing overwhelming community consensus, how will they interpret that data? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:39, 22 April 2012 (UTC)
I think we need to discuss a proper design / data collection method to be applied on an ongoing basis to at least some of the students work as a group. I agree that it should be anonymous as we do not want anyone tossed out of University for what has/is happening here. But we NEED good data to drive this project forwards. If this means hiring someone and getting the community more involved than so be it. But with the issues we have encountered continuing on with the status quo is simply not an option.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:07, 22 April 2012 (UTC)
Agree, I don't want to be part of destroying some student's life because the WMF set them up via a misguided program, and their prof is not on top of the students edits to detect problems as soon as they occur and correct the student. If anyone comes up with a data collection method that aggregates data, while addressing the faulty date and the PR puffery and useless propoganda the WMF is putting out, I will begin to keep track of the issues I encounter for eventual submission. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:34, 22 April 2012 (UTC)
The Public Policy Initiative had worthwhile data, and I'd like to see some form of that assessment return, at least on a sampling basis. The statistical analysis of the PPI is worth looking at; and so is the assessment rubric and an example assessment page. This would only cover assessments of quality, not problems, though, so more would be needed. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:36, 23 April 2012 (UTC)
I think the key to any good research is to pick an appropriate sample. James, I certainly agree that the review work you all did on the 300 students in that class in Canada last term revealed some problems, and it was instrumental in us creating the Participation Requirements for this term. But it's not a random sample of students because they all came from the same class and had the same problem of not enough Ambassador support. I agree what we've done so far has limitations, and obviously more bytes doesn't always mean better, so if you're willing to help out with some other evaluation, let's figure out what to do. Let's focus on the current term, now that those Participation Requirements are in place, and do a random sample of student work across all classes. User:Pharos, one of our Ambassadors, had a similar idea with the educational peer review he created. Mike, James, would you two be interested in working with me (and maybe Pharos, if he's interested in adapting the peer review into this) to come up with some way of looking a the quality of students' contributions? -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 23:24, 23 April 2012 (UTC)
Certainly, we will need data looking at specific classes as this will tell us what works and what doesn't. All classes should at least get a partial review. Than if concerns are found a more indepth review can be done. We want to be able to figure out classes are doing a good or excellent job and which are not. Than figure out how to make sure what we have is most of the former.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 00:41, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
@LiAnna: yes, I'd be glad to help. I think figuring out what is useful to measure, and how, is probably something the working group should be thinking about. I'm not convinced of the value of the educational peer review yet -- PRs are valuable within WP because the submitter is keen to get the feedback, and with luck it improves their subsequent work, but I'm not sure that the feedback loop is valued or considered in the same way by the professors, and worse, it certainly won't improve future work, because the students will be different. I liked the PPI metrics because they were rigorous and made it very clear what was going on. I think if we don't do something equally rigorous it will be too easy to dismiss the results as anecdotal. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:57, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, guys. See my email about potential times. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 05:10, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

A mess of moves[edit]

There's a mess of moves to the wrong places in the student contribs here, from one of those problematic personality courses where a boatload of similar articles were created. I think it's going to need an admin to sort it out. It looks like s/he moved the article to an invalid user name. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:06, 23 April 2012 (UTC)

Reverted for now. Nikkimaria (talk) 20:53, 23 April 2012 (UTC)
Okay, user has requested that it be userfied, with plans to merge it into one of the similar articles, so I've done that and made a note at the DYK nom. Nikkimaria (talk) 02:35, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Gee, if I post a note of thanks, it will add to someone's editcountitis. And those typos in my last post ... :) :) Thanks, Nikki ! SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:41, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Nominated articles and than not following through[edit]

When Wikipedians nominate articles for DYK, GAN, FAC it is expected that they follow through. If real life events take precedence we have the decency to respond and express remorse as Anthony has done here [7] and would not consider further nominations before the previous one is settled.

This student nominated patient participation for DYK on April 4th. [8] and then does not respond to the request for further details both on the DYK page and their talk page. One April 18th they then begin a GAN of the same page [9]. I have started a brief GA review pending a response [10].

The question is what should be done to address this issue? I have seem multiple cases of the same last year. Should we require a minimum number of edits / duration of an account before people can apply to the review processes (500 edits or 2 months which ever is less)? This could than be programmed into the GA bot. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 17:16, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

My suggestions, having seen the multitude of similar problems, are:
  • Gain consensus at DYK to prohibit student editing nominations there. They are encouraging bad stubs and faulty editing just to get mainpage exposure in a process that is already overwhelmed.
  • Ping Geometry guy (talk · contribs) or Malleus Fatuorum (talk · contribs) for suggestions of how GAN might handle these problems.
  • Add a requirement at DYK similar to what we have at FAC-- articles may be at one content review process at a time. GAN already has that, I believe, so the GAN could be closed on that basis (please doublecheck). DYK should be closing this nom now, since it was re-nominated to another process without following up on the DYK.
At WP:FAC, delegates have the ability to close and archive ill-prepared noms: DYK and GAN don't seem to have anything equivalent, but many of these articles are appearing at DYK and GAN when they are going to end up merged or deleted anyway. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:26, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
That is one of the great things about the FA process. --Guerillero | My Talk 17:34, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
GA does have such a process here [11] for rapid fails. It would be nice to program the bot to look at the number of edits the nominator has made and simply not post it to the GAN board if they do not meet a certain level. This would address this issue fully.--Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 17:37, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
Might not work; IIRC, Yomangani (talk · contribs) once posted a (worthy) FAC that he had put up based on less than a dozen edits. And when editors work in sandbox, then move the text, bot won't catch it. We'd be penalizing established editors for student excesses. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:57, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
You mean he had made less than a dozen edits to all of Wikipedia before he had nominated a worthy FAC? I am taking total edits to ALL of Wikipedia not edits to any specific page. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 17:59, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
ah, sorry, no ... that's different. Good point. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:59, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

The group we are having difficulty with are the ones that show up and start a DYK / GAN in there first 50 edits / first week of editing. I did not figure out that we had GAN until being here for a few months. I did not nominate my first GA until after editing for 6 month and making more than 4000 edits. This would address that issue. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 18:05, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

In the case above the DYK was this persons 11th main space edit and the GAN was their 25th of so. They have made less than 150 edits in total. And have been here less than 3 months. Which I will admit is better than some.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 18:10, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
Another way to address this is to plead with the professors to stop giving course credit for DYKs and GANs, since this practice is resulting in boatloads of unworthy stubs or text that belongs in other articles. By creating a new stub, students can more easily meet the DYK expansion criteria, and they don't have to cleanuup bad content in an established article. And THAT is what Wikipedia needs, more than silly new stubs on non-notable topics, that will end up being merged or deleted. I'd rather we find a way to address this problem where it starts, which is bigger than DYK or GAN-- it's encouraging students to create whacky stubs on marginal topics, rather than improving existing core and notable articles, overwhelming AFC, and leading to merge discussions and AFds. I suspect the credit for DYK is causing part of the problem, since the students want to meet the expansion limits by creating new articles. I don't see a bot counting edits as solving this problem, since that can be circumvented, and we may see more of what drove me crazy last term, where professors encouraged students to make posts to article talk pages that amounted to nothing more than rah, rah, I like your article and breached WP:NOTAFORUM. We don't want to encourage WP:EDITCOUNTITIS and padding of edit counts. I'd rather see forceful measures to get control over DYK and GAN processes (like what FAC has), and professors encouraged to stop giving credit for DYK and GAN. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:22, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
  • (ec) for GAN, they don't care. They make it clear that anyone can nominate an article, even an IP. The editor need not have edited the article at all before nomination. Often I've seen a note under the nomination with something like "see Project Films if you have feedback" or "I won't be editing anymore after today". There are no GAN rules against this. MathewTownsend (talk) 18:20, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Reinforcing my idea that we have to get through to professors that giving credit for DYK and GAN isn't working. I'm pretty sure that since most of these students are not here because they're committed to Wikipedia, if they weren't getting course credit, they wouldn't be sumbitting these ill-prepared noms. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:23, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
We limit the editing of semi protected pages until a user has made so many edits ( a for of WP:EDITCOUNTITIS). If the GAN people are happy with the current situation than their is no problem their to fix. This can just be offered to the groups that wish it.
I see no easy workable mechanism to convince all profs that they should not require GAs. While we can work in this direction it will take many months / years. The above solution can be implemented for those projects that wish it immediately.
Setting a minimum bar works. Stuff that is free is not as valued. When Starbucks increased their cut off coffee sales increased as they where now selling luxury goods. If we require minimum edits only those who are serious will apply. We want serious applicants. We can still plead with professors but 1) need to track them down 2) by that point it is often too late Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 18:34, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

Break 1[edit]

The suggestion of prohibiting DYK noms by students is silly. If there's a problem with floods of DYK noms about the same topic, alter DYK's rules to make no more than two related DYK's per front page batch or something like that. If there's a problem with DYK noms of shitty stubs, alter DYK's rules to prohibit shitty stubs. Kevin Gorman (talk) 19:57, 20 April 2012 (UTC)

Agree that their are a number of ways to address this. And the suggestion was not to prohibit DYK noms by students.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 20:17, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
Agree that since DYK is resistant to change, the flood there is their problem, but there is a bigger problem to the entire encyclopedia regardless of DYK's problem, of crappy stubs being written, which sap other editor time at AFD, AFC and in merge proposals. Which is why I still hope-- in the event that DYK and GAN don't make any changes-- that we can convince professors to stop feeding the reward culture with grades for DYKs. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:25, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
Hum, well if only a small minority who see a problem at DYK, GAN, or AfD and there is really no limit on how many articles we can host I guess there is no need for my advocacy. I will return to improving top importance medical articles which have had little of the issues described here [12]. As a plug for the project it is to improve 80 key medical articles which receive more than 10 million page views a month. And as an added bonus for getting an article to GA/FA it will be translated into other languages by someone else :-) Come join me Wikipedia:MED/Translation_project Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 20:42, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
I tend to agree with Sandy that the problem is bigger than DYK/GAN. I think the common thread here is that if a professor doesn't really understand how Wikipedia works, they're likely to default to a model that's similar to conventional classwork. In a conventional class, a student might normally be asked to write a paragraph, or an essay, or a research paper, which is expected to be an individual, original synthesis of literature on their part. It's quite natural, then, that a professor unfamiliar with Wikipedia would see article writing as an extension of that process. And how to have students demonstrate their individual capacity for synthesis, unmingled with anyone else's efforts? Why, write a new article, of course. In short, if the only tool a person knows is a hammer, don't be surprised to find them pounding screws in with the butt of a cordless drill.
Solving this is not so easy. One step I can think of might be trying to assemble some best practices. Which education projects have worked? Of those that worked, which ones are scalable? (cf. JimmyButler's class) In what ways can students show engagement with Wikipedia and useful contributions other than horking up a stub on an essay-like topic and sending it to DYK? How do we assess these contributions in a way that's difficult to game? (e.g., "Add a reference to an article" is not very good.) How do we get them to use a !@#$% TALK PAGE every now and then? *choess shoots blood from his conjunctivae, like a horned lizard.*
From first-person experience, I would say college professors in general are a) well-meaning and b) busy, and hence rather given to inertia in pedagogy. It's no surprise that they're banging on the walls will the drill right now, but trying to show them how to use it might be a better use of time than trying to wrestle it away from them. Choess (talk) 03:01, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Don't disagree with anything you wrote, but don't have the answers. I only know this project is making my editing experience less enjoyable ... one has to feel bad for the students, who are victims in this malformed plan ... Jbmurray knew Wikipedia, and had a limited number of students. WMF took something that didn't scale global. The students, and our article quality, and established editors, are paying the price. Don't know how to fix it. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 11:15, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Let's stick to the facts. Article quality improves by 64%, participants add three times as much quality content as regular new users and here's what some of the victims say: instructors, students (just examples, there's much more on the Wikimedia blog and other places). In case you wanted to talk directly to one of those victims, I encourage you to reach out to Kevin. I'm sure he can tell you more about his experience. --Frank Schulenburg (Wikimedia Foundation) (talk) 14:30, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Yes, please, let's do focus on facts (without pompous arrogance): there are some that might not agree with your chosen set. For example, at User:Colin/Introduction to Psychology, Part I, which is where many issues are occurring (psych articles). In the Wikipedia I joined and participate in, PR puffery pieces put out by those involved (not third-party) are not reliable sources: you may have a different view, but I'm in favor of a neutral, reliable, verifiable encyclopedia that doesn't create hundreds of original research term papers based on primary sources.

We agree that students are the victims in WMF's misguided venture (where professors and WMF employees are the problem, and hapless ambassadors-- the few of them we have-- can't cope), but students are not the only victims. The encyclopedia and editors who have to do the cleanup are the others.

"In case you want to talk directly to one of the victims", I'll write up my experiences. The only reason I haven't catalogued the extreme disruption I've encountered is that to do so, I have to point at the other victims making the faulty edits-- the students-- and it doesn't quite seem fair to make an example of student editors by creating a record of the issues. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:40, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

The issue with Steve Joordens class has been adressed with the Education Program Participation Requirements. And actually, as you are attacking me personally: I've written 17 featured and a couple of good articles over the years. Improving Wikipedia's quality was one of the reasons why I joined this project in early 2005. And quality is still what drives me every day of my life. --Frank Schulenburg (Wikimedia Foundation) (talk) 14:58, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
And there's a whole crop with the same issues to be dealt with this term. Wasn't it you who wanted to stick to facts? Your contributions to featured content are a tangent (aka strawman). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:02, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

Sigh, we should probably tone this down a few notches. We are all here to make Wikipedia better. I have not seen the above write up mentioned by Frank and will take some time to review them.--Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 21:16, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

  • Okay I am not happy with this analysis

On average, these students added 1855 bytes of content that stayed on Wikipedia, compared to only 491 for a randomly chosen sample of new users who joined English Wikipedia in September 2011. These numbers establish that students who participate in the Wikipedia Education Program contribute significantly more quality content that stays on Wikipedia than other new users.

  • Just because more bytes of students text stay on Wikipedia than bytes of random new user text does not necessarily mean that they contribute more quality content. It might mean that they are editing less closely watched pages and thus concerning edits are less frequently picked up by the community.
  • The only way to determine if the text is of good quality is to manually go over every change that is made by students and every change that is made by a group of random new users. Per a good study design this should be done by at least two independent people with a third providing input if the two do not agree on the assessment.
  • Per "An important consideration for any outreach project is editor retention. Data showed that students who are introduced to editing Wikipedia through the U.S. Education Program are just as likely to continue editing as any other newcomer." We all agree that editor retention of new users is very poor. That this project only matches it is a little disappointing.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 21:26, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

Break 2, handout proposal[edit]

For me, this discussion is not about winning an argument. I encouraged Derrick to create this page in order to have a place, where problems could be addressed and solved. So, let's get back to the case: some students nominate articles and then don't follow through. I guess there are several ways to fix this. How about if we start with creating a handout that explains the process and highlights that people who nominate an article also have an obligation to actively engage with those who give feedback? Additionally, we could suggest a process for handling obvious cases (e.g. if a certain number of Wikipedians think that the DYK nomination will fail, the request gets closed immediately). --Frank Schulenburg (Wikimedia Foundation) (talk) 15:16, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Thank you, that's a much better approach than asserting that your collection of data is an accurate reflection of "fact" affecting editors in the trenches. Reboot.

DYK is change resistant; their problems are their fault. The underlying dynamic there is that no one is "in charge" at DYK, like at FAC, no one is accountable, and so many are involved and no consensus for change is ever formed. I doubt we can affect anything at DYK, which is a forum that drives poor editing throughout Wikpedia, not only wrt the Education Program. It's "reward" aspects promote copyvio, forking of content to obscure topics, and quick-and-dirty poorly sourced articles of dubious notability. I don't believe we can change that, since the complaints have endured for years. The students are victims, granted credit for getting content displayed on the mainpage in a forum that should have been disbanded long ago.

The problem with your suggestion of creating a handout is that it doesn't address the problem at its core, as mentioned by Choess. Students are creating tangential articles, poorly sourced, based on primary research, term papers so that they have their "own" article, when what we need is article improvement more than dubious new content. I don't see JMH's proposal as addressing the issue at its core, but neither do I see your proposal doing that. The core problem is that professors are not well versed in writing for Wikipedia, based on secondary sources, and this problem is particularly crucial in the psych realm, where people's health is impacted, core articles aren't improved, and student essays and term papers using primary sources are promoting professors' research agendas.

By focusing on the core problems, we might better generate solutions, but DYK is its own problem. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:28, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

Thanks a lot for your feedback. I really appreciate it, although I don't agree with everything you're saying. Now, let's assume we won't be able to change the DYK process. At the same time, we want to focus on quality…
A while ago, we were talking about a contest among the students. I think, it was via email and if I remember it well, it was James who brought it up. How about if we set up a process every term where Wikipedians, instructors and students can nominate articles that the students wrote? Personally, I like competition (with the goal of driving quality) a lot. I've written some of my featured articles as part of writing contests and I'm currently participating in the WikiCup which is fun as well. So, how if we set up something similar for the Education Program? --Frank Schulenburg (Wikimedia Foundation) (talk) 16:39, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
edit conflicted when adding section below, that was subsequently moved to talk. While I disagree this isn't a current source of conflict, [13] and don't think your proposal is more relevant to resolving an incident than my feedback on your proposal is, I won't move the content back here. I do hope we're not going to see heavy-handed monitoring on this board from WMF employees. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:20, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
As a CUP participant, it's likely you've encountered my feelings on how damaging the "reward culture" is to content. I view DYK as an extension of that. I am of the opinion that top content comes from editors who are passionate about or highly knowledgeable in the topic area, and who do the writing because of internal rather than external motivation. I'm aware that not everyone agrees with me, but I believe competition and the reward culture has more negative than positive impact. In this case, I believe it would continue the very problems we're seeing. Not that I have solutions or answers ... SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:58, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
I actually suggest that others comment on the proposals I've made so far as well. That will help us to get a broader view. --Frank Schulenburg (Wikimedia Foundation) (talk) 17:07, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
I agree with most of what SandyG says and hardly anything of what you say. Malleus Fatuorum 17:26, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
And I have long complained about the competitive elements built into the Education project. I was was surprised to see this "leaderboard" make a reappearance. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 09:25, 23 April 2012 (UTC)
WikiCup for students? No, don't think so. They're already motivated by grades; adding another external motivator would be unlikely to improve matters. Your point about creating a handout might make sense, but there are already a good many handouts about other things (DYK requirements, sourcing requirements, etc) that are being ignored by some students - how would that change if another handout was created? I think it would be more beneficial to discourage profs from requiring students to go the DYK/GA route, particularly if the class in question doesn't have the support required (either from CA/OAs experienced and involved in those processes, or the prof him/herself). Nikkimaria (talk) 18:34, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I like the GAN process and find that having a semi structured review process to verify quality is good for Wikipedia's quality of content and improves the credibility of the site in the eyes of others. And GA and FAs are definitely "rewards". Thus I do not believe all rewards are bad. It is similar to peer review in the academic press. Writing something that is peer reviewed is a greater academic reward than writing something that is not peer reviewed and most of the time is of better quality.

We just need to verify that the people applying to these processes are serious. If you where to write an article for the NEJM and did not reply to the subsequent peer review your reputation would be tarnished and you would lose your application fee. There are a number of measures we could introduce to verify that the people applying to DYK, peer review, and GAN are serious. We could require

  1. a base number of edits on Wikipedia to show you are serious before applying
  2. a refundable fee (either by the student or class in question) that would be forfeited if there is not an appropriate response
  3. a paid Wikipedian who is familiar with these processes to manage the noms by students
  4. the use of more "quick fails" if articles are not sufficient
  5. require articles to get the approval of a long standing Wikipedian before nomination
  6. strongly recommended profs not use these processes ( I oppose this one personally and am just listing a range of options)

But of course if those within these processes do not see there as being any problem than carrying on with the status quo until such time as change is desire is probably the best.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 21:45, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

I think Nikkimaria's right about the basic idea—the important part is changing how professors use DYK/GAN. Let's suppose, hypothetically, one of us was teaching a research-based independent study course with a number of students. I find it hard to believe anyone familiar with the field would write into a grading system that a student would get +5 points for gettigng a paper published on that year's work, or +10 points if it was in a high-impact journal. There's just too much variation in terms of what research a student might choose, whether it generates unambiguous and logically complete results, and the outcome of the peer review process. Generating grades for the course would probably depend on the PI's assessment of each student's work over the year, probably guided by a rubric or some other form of evaluation. The external validation by publication in the journal just makes it easier to assess the quality of the work, at least from a scientific perspective.
However, I don't think it would be immediately apparent to an outsider that our content review processes partake of the same somewhat capricious quality as publishing. To someone who isn't familiar with them, the criteria for DYK, GA, etc. may look just like a checklist that any student could complete, just as any student could prepare a paper which included an APA-formatted bibliography, a given number of pages and sources, a discussion of aspects X, Y and Z of the subject... Perhaps I'm naive, but I think a big part of the problem is having professors and students come onto Wikipedia thinking they know how it runs because of mental models they've brought from the outside world, which are incorrect in important ways. Some of the changes above look agreeable, others I'm not enthusiastic about, but I think it's better to start by making sure professors have a proper mental model of what goes on inside Wikipedia before adding more rules and more friction to the processes. (Part of the problem seems to be that when student work is turned down or rejected under the existing processes, people ask for the rules to be bent for the sake of the class.) Choess (talk) 17:57, 22 April 2012 (UTC)

Break 3, consult contributors and WikiProjects proposal[edit]

OK, alternate proposal. Professors are advised that, when students are selecting topics, the first step is for them to do more background work than they are currently doing. If students, profs or online ambassadors had checked the contrib history on Klazomania or Echopraxia or Sociological and cultural aspects of autism, they would have seen I'm the main editor there. If they had asked if there was enough written on either of those topics to warrant expansion (on echopraxia, the specific topic selected was "in schizophrenia"), I could have told them there wasn't. And I could have guided them to a better area where they might have contributed. Suggest that they do a contrib history check on their selected topic, post to talk, post to WIkiProjects linked on talk, and post to contributing editors requesting feedback. If this proposal gains any traction, I'll offer other implementation ideas. This will also help address the problem that we rarely know when we're dealing with students, since they don't template article talk, and would bring in the assistance of experienced editors earlier in the process, so less time is wasted for everyone. If I know before they waste everyone's time that students want to work on X topic, I can guide them in ways that won't waste my time or their time. Further, that would put me in a position to counsel them as to whether their final product was a candidate worthy of GAN, DYK whatever. It might be a way to bring in experienced editors sooner-- right now, we have a mystery where articles and experienced editors are sandbagged, since they (Education Projects) are NOT templating talk pages as they should be, and they waste a lot of time in sandbox before presenting unacceptable text. Also, deal with the issue of who should be templating article talk-- I suggest it should be the professor, as that will also force them to engage more, as User:Jbmurray did. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:22, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

These are some solid ideas, I tried to implement something similar in regards to the WikiProjects thing with a UBC class this term. Unfortunately, out of I think 11 different projects we contacted, we only really got two experienced wikipedians to drop by. A lot of the more specialized projects are more or less moribund. But it was better than nothing. I like the idea of contacting contributors; we could show the profs how to use the "contributors" link in page history, and maybe contact anyone who has recently worked with the material. Of course, a lot of articles' main contributors are ancient history. And yes, the talkpage notices should be mandatory, maybe even bot-delivered? The Interior (Talk) 19:32, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
I can't speak for other WikiProjects, but it would work for WP:MED. The psychology WikiProject is useless, but it is a rare psych topic that doesn't have some Medicine involvement, and we coulda/woulda helped. If some version of this is implemented, the editing skills and problems with primary sources in medicine/psychology are shared, so they could be advised to post to WT:MED. I suspect psych profs will push back on that, as they like to do original research, synthesis, and cite primary sources. This will help catch those cases sooner, and may force the profs to get more involved here. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:44, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Thinking back to my own university days, studying psychology, I'm not certain this whole idea is at all a good idea. In all of the papers I wrote there were two main tasks: to cover the background of the subject and to interpret it in coming to sometimes surprising, controversial, and perhaps even original conclusions. In other words, it was never just to write a neutrally dry encyclopedia article; that would have got a B-grade at the very best. Malleus Fatuorum 19:59, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
There's definitely some conflict between the research writing required by a lot of uni courses and encyclopedic writing. The good profs get that difference across to their students, and from one conversation I've had, anyway, the students enjoy writing in the summary style. Nice break from going out an an intellectual limb with every paper. But it does take some adjustment, and the adjustment doesn't happen if the prof doesn't emphasize it. The Interior (Talk) 20:05, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Then in terms of concrete proposals that maybe ought to be right at the top of the list. Malleus Fatuorum 20:15, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
The problem of "some conflict between the research writing required by a lot of uni courses and encyclopedic writing" is exaggerated in the psych realm, which is why I'm often the one waving my arms loudly about the extent of the problems. The articles that led to this discussion from that Personality course are an example. Original research and synthesis is the norm in the psych realm: it's a big problem, and it bleeds over into medicine articles because of the overlap. It needs to be addressed: it doesn't help for involved editors, ambassadors and WMF employees to be defending these very poor articles at AFD. I hope my proposal will help encourage wider community involvement: I'm concerned that the psych professors will push back by just increasingly ignoring Wikipedia bureaucracy, as they already do. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:20, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
I don't really consider the kind of articles you've been talking about Sandy – the ones that bleed over into medicine – as psychology articles at all, but I do take your point nevertheless. And so far as "increasingly ignoring Wikipedia bureaucracy" is concerned", what sensible person wouldn't? Malleus Fatuorum 20:29, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
 :) :) OK, take cognitive behavioral therapy as an example of overlap. It's psych, employed by psychologists (and psychiatrists), but it is applied to so many medical conditions that it's a medical topic, even though it's not even tagged on talk as such. It's important. It was a wreck before I started in on it this week. Psych editors loaded it up with primary research and esoteric claptrap, ignoring the basics of what it is, where it's used, and how it works. There is boatloads of info available in secondary sources. Students can't get a DYK out of it, but they sure could get a GA out of it if they worked with an expeienced editor-- that is how Jbmurray's project worked. Instead, we have students out there creating obscure original research articles, that sap our time in dealing with mergers, AFDs, faulty DYKs, etc etc etc. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:36, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Interestingly, CBT was one of the topics I had in mind. I don't know what it's like in the States, but over here it's little more than an insurance scam in my experience. Malleus Fatuorum 21:17, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

CBT has evidence equivalent to SSRIs for many conditions. I will leave it to you to decide how good that is :-) Doc James (talk · contribs ·email) 21:55, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

US Psych 101 type undergraduate courses for non-majors and graduate APA-approved Psych programs[edit]

I think there's a misunderstanding here. The problem of "some conflict between the research writing required by a lot of uni courses and encyclopedic writing", that "the articles that led to this discussion from that Personality course are an example. Original research and synthesis is the norm in the psych realm: it's a big problem ..." This is being misinterpreted. Papers written in a US university for a course are not meant to be encyclopedia articles and the standards are quite different. I think you'd find that the standards for peer-reviewed published articles in psychology are the same as in medicine. Graduate level psychology candidates write lots of "papers", which typically medical students don't. Top level psychology programs follow the Scientist–practitioner model also known as the Boulder model, a training model for psychology graduate programs that focuses on creating a foundation of research and scientific practice. However. there's lots of psychology programs that are not APA approved and don't teach the scientific method. There are Psy.D degrees and others that don't provide rigorous scientific training but focus on clinical practice. Does WMF (or whomever) check to see the educational objectives of the programs they allow to participate? A psych program emphasizes psychotherapy only would not be emphasizing the scientific method as accredited programs are required to do. MathewTownsend (talk) 21:02, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

Psychotherapy is just about about as far from "proper", scientific psychology as I can imagine, which is pretty much what I was suggesting to SandyG. Malleus Fatuorum 21:26, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
That may be true for you. But in the US graduate psychology programs accredited by the APA must by trained in the Scientist–practitioner model which is just a rigorous as the medical model, in some ways more so. The problems with the various DSMs have been due to the refusal of psychiatry to ustilize the scientific method in coming up with diagnostic methods. DSM has been increasingly using the expertise of psychologists to improve the validity and reliability of their diagnostic schemes. Psychiatrist typically are not trained in test development and sophisticated statistical methods that psychologists use. Hence the sudden appearance of "dimensions" in the draft DSM-V, which psychologists have been using for decades.
Also, a distinction should be made by WMF (or whomever) between courses like Psych 101, which is usually an undergraduate course designed as an introduction to psychology for non majors, and graduate courses for psychology majors. Psych 101 et all are sort of like Spanish for beginners. Are distinctions being made here between undergraduate "general" courses like "101" courses and graduate course for those seeking a Ph.D. in an APA accredited program focused on Scientist–practitioner model? MathewTownsend (talk) 21:43, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

Thoughts on hard motivators for community engagement[edit]

While I have been advising students not to attempt DYK or GA submissions, and would advise faculty not to encourage that type of submission except with exceptionally motivated students, even students who don't make such submissions sometimes have issues engaging with the community, e.g. if someone identifies issues with their article. I think campus/online ambassadors have the opportunity to play a valuable role here; students don't take random Wikipedians seriously because they have no connection to the course or to their final grade. One way to address the general issue is to have a small portion of their grade (say 5%) based on responsiveness to community engagement, and make the CA/OA personally responsible for evaluating this component of their grade. If a student is nonresponsive, the CA/OA can nudge them and remind them to respond, and because the student knows the CA/OA is evaluating them on this (and may directly contact their professor) they will be more inclined to listen. (If the student happens to have no interaction with the community they just get these points for free.)

More generally, I think we should apply pressure by contacting the teacher by talk page or e-mail when students are nonresponsive - if the teachers are themselves nonresponsive or uncooperative, that's a higher-level issue that can be backed up where necessary by threats of blocks/deletion (if students are ignoring policy/producing bad content). Ideally things would not get to that point, but I think forcing engagement with the community by whatever means necessary is essential. Dcoetzee 21:05, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

I agree that student responsiveness is an important issue, but having it as part of the grade? That's an alright idea in theory, but in my opinion it could raise a lot of issues. Communication is never simple black-and-white stuff. And if they got those points for free some might be more likely to just avoid any situations involving communication rather than speak up when needed to. OohBunnies! Leave a message 21:19, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
One good motivator is a prof who is on-wiki and engaged. User:Greentina, a prof from UBC, racked up 358 edits over the term, and it is reflected in the engagement of her students. Students from that course used talk pages, had a lot of interaction with each other and Wikipedians, and seemed to be much more interested in community rules and standards than students in any other course I have seen. They did have an on-wiki interaction component to their mark. Thy also seemed to have more fun, goofing each other with Wiki-love and generally getting into the spirit of collaborative editing. The Interior (Talk) 21:27, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Several responses to Dcoetzee: I have posted to professors when students were unresponsive, and have found the professors even less responsive. I've gotten exactly two responses in all of my engagement with the Education Program, one of them from OA Nikkimaria. Also, one class did encourage talk page participation, so talk pages were turned into "rah, rah, I like your article" full of WP:NOTAFORUM comments-- they should be encouraged to keep those on editor talk. I have many times had issues of repeat copvyio with students edit warring to reinsert the copyvio, and gotten no response from anyone. (Now, I would bring those to this board). There is a real problem with disengaged profs using us to supervise their students' work, which is what is so irritating and so unfair to the students, who are victims. Another problem is, how do these profs let some of the students make such poor article choices? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:41, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
The vast majority of American universities have honor codes that forbid plagiarism, and they usually have significant teeth. Have you really been running in to students in the US education program editwarring to reinsert copyvios where professors have not been responsive? If that happened in a course at my university the student would instantly be smacked really really hard, potentially failing the course unless they had a really good explanation, and potentially being expelled if they kept trying to do the same thing. If you run in to continued copyvios from students in the US education program with a non-responsive professor, escalating it to their departmenthead should almost always bring instant closure. The next time you run in to such a problem with an unresponsive professor coming out of an American university, drop me a line if you don't want to escalate it yourself, and I'll deal with it. Of the problems we may run in to with the USEP that are hard to handle, recurrent copyvios shouldn't be one of them. (I have a 103 fever currently, so please forgive any nonsense that slipped it's way in to this post.) Kevin Gorman (talk) 21:56, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
hmmm, I will backtrack to see if I misspoke, and if the instances actually involved Canada rather than US ... but since I have so many edits, it will be hard to find the old diffs. But recurrent copyvio is certainly an issue in student editing, as well as reinstating it after I've removed it. And, I haven't highlighted these cases, because who wants to be responsible for a kid's failure? I'll let you know if I can find these by reviewing my contribs. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:02, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Many Canadian universities have similar rules, although if you're hesitant about making kids fail...Nikkimaria (talk) 22:22, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
I am hesitant about making kids fail but Wikipedia is live publishing and we do need to take action regarding copyvio/plagiarism. If we are going to exposure them to this risk we must at least be able to say we spent 2 hour repeating over and over that if you violate copyright on Wikipedia you are out.
When I ran cross country in university we all had to attend a 2 hour event where they more or less repeated "we will test your pee" "you need to sign permission now saying we can test your pee" "you test positive and you will NEVER be in sports at any university again". There are certain you just do not do. A sharp line in the sand.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:32, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict)Speaking not as a Wikipedian, but as both a student and instructor: screw those students. Some stuff - especially images like James is talking about below - get confusing, and I can understand making a mistake. Some students may not have experience with stuff like close paraphrasing before, and honest mistakes can certainly be made. I think with stuff like that, we should generally be tolerant and explaining. But academic dishonesty is a big deal, and if a student is repeatedly inserting a copyright violation after they're certainly aware that it is one, then they don't deserve sympathy - they know what academic dishonesty is, and why it's not okay. The US and Canadian higher education systems are set up to punish it harshly, and I don't think we should shy away from taking advantage of that. Bad article topic choices and stuff like that are hard things for us to eliminate from the USEP, but overt plagiarism isn't. If ambassadors don't respond they suck as ambassadors, but even if they don't respond, one or two emails to the professor directly or to his departmenthead if he's nonresponsive will clear the problem up. (And to be clear, I'm not talking about NFCC disputes, or other minor problems... but recurrent copyvio by people who are aware of the problem isn't something we should need to put up with.) And as mentioned above: if you come across it and don't want to deal with it yourself, drop me a note. Kevin Gorman (talk) 22:44, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
I started back through my contribs, and it's unikely I'm going to find the editor who edit warred to reinstate copyvio last term, since I just have too many edits and have seen too much student copyvio to remember where it was. Moving forward is more important. I did re-encounter a student editor I notified of copyvio about two weeks ago, and removed a lot more copyvio from his article. Then I found that I had posted to the course talk page weeks ago, and gotten no response. This is my recurring experience with student editing: it's too much to keep up with, and whose problem is it? I am talking about straight cut-and-paste of entire sentences ... those I removed two weeks ago were worse, but it's still there. Honestly, if you all want regular editors to deal with this, specifying how and where would be grand, because profs are not responsive. I suppose it is not coincidental that I've had two problems with that class, which has an ineffective Online Ambassador. I also imagine these kinds of problems are indicative of uninvolved profs. I wonder if these profs even check their students' talk pages, to see copyvio and other warnings. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:12, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
@Kevin: keep in mind that although schools have very strong anti-plagiarism policies, they have terrible anti-copyvio policies. If students insert a copyrighted image (noting its source), or an overlong quote and reference its source, they will receive no penalty from their university, but we still have to remove it. In cases like this I think we really have to fall back on discouragement from professors/ambassadors and technical measures like blocks. Dcoetzee 23:36, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Yes IMO a 1/3 of the Wiki marks should be based on responding to community comments. If someone provides a review of your article or brings a concern to your attention and you do not respond. You will get zero on that component. This is such an important part of collaborative writing and thus should be judged highly.
I came across a fair amount of plagiarism by one class. I brought it to the students and ambassadors attention (yes all the ambassadors). All of them did not respond. I ended up calling the prof in question and he agreed to reinforce this issue in class. This school also had a academic sanction for plagiarism.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:11, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

Let me point out that we need to be careful about the distinction between copyvio and plagiarism. The latter is what's generally sanctioned. as far as I know, by schools. Straight cut-and-paste, as Sandy just mentioned, constitutes both copyright violation and plagiarism. However, I'd argue that student work off-Wikipedia probably includes a great deal of what we'd consider copyright violation here, such as certain uses of non-free multimedia content, or close paraphrasing. These are probably generally accepted in student papers or presentations for a class, first, because they might not be easily detected, and second, because the limited distribution of that material allows more latitude in terms of fair use. So a student committing copyright violation here might well be doing so inadvertently, and might not be in violation of academic practices in their schools. (By contrast, incorporating public domain text without attribution, which is not a copyright violation and seems to be acceptable, if not a good practice, on Wikipedia, would be considered plagiarism.)

There's no excuse for cutting and pasting copyrighted text into Wikipedia, much less edit warring to keep it, and I don't want to stand in the way of that (which seems to be the main subject here). But it would be wise to show a little more restraint in dealing with the other categories. Choess (talk) 16:33, 22 April 2012 (UTC)

The edit warring to retain copyvio occurred last term, and it's unlikely I can find that in my contrib history. I have encountered, this term, repeat instances of direct cut-and-paste editing (I'm unclear why we used to have a bot that detected this and no longer seem to?). Because I consider all of these problems with student editing to be the fault of the WMF, absent OAs, and negligent profs using us to babysit, I'm really not interested in being the whistle-blower, but if I again encounter same, I will raise it here. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:29, 22 April 2012 (UTC)

Appropriate use of data[edit]

This is symptomatic of the way we see the laypress, PR, and unreviewed primary sources used to promote inaccurate information in Wikipedia articles:

Let's stick to the facts. Article quality improves by 64%, participants add three times as much quality content as regular new users ... Frank Schulenburg (Wikimedia Foundation) (talk) 14:30, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

Frank, I hope you have the analytical background to understand the flaws in this data, and why you shouldn't use them to assert fact. Further, how meaningful is it even if participants were adding quality content, considering the time this project is draining from established and knowledgeable editors, who could be adding even more and better content, if they weren't having to deal with the faulty editing? Once the term ends, and there is a good deal of time between when students are graded and when I summarize the issues I've seen so that students aren't affected by my criticism, I'd be happy to summarize the issues I've seen over the last year, and how much time it has costed me.

I'd much rather be spending my time on important unfinished or poor medical/psych topics that I've tackled of late-- PANDAS, cognitive behavioral therapy, endometriosis-- articles that actually matter to individuals' health-- then dealing with faulty student editing on obscure little viewed unimportant articles like klazomania, echopraxia, and autism spectrum disorders in the media. In the type of faulty data analysis you all are hyping, have you considered lost editor time, and that an article like klazomania only resulted because it's on my watchlist, and when the students mucked it up, I was obliged to fix it, even though no one ever reads or cares about that article? How exactly is the WMF measuring "quality" and "quantity"? Never mind, I've long had a good sense of who and what they value, and medical FAs ain't it. It would be wonderful if, whatever you come up with to deal with the issues that surfaced this term, they will deal with promoting the addition of well sourced valuable content, not articles that push one professor's POV towards the new version of DSM-5.

Here are the page views on the articles I'd like to be working on:

and here are the page views of articles that were on my watchlist before student editing affected them, so that I had to clean up:

It's good that these obscure articles provide a place for students to learn about Wikipedia: I'd be much more interested in seeing how many of these students who are "compulsory editors" actually stick around to add any meaningful content, and how WMF relates this to the time established editors could be spending creating meaningful content. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:51, 21 April 2012 (UTC)

See my comment above. --Frank Schulenburg (Wikimedia Foundation) (talk) 17:05, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
Recopied here, since we ended up with two sections when I thought my post was lost in edit conflict: SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:15, 21 April 2012 (UTC)
I've moved this section back to the main board in its original location (I think), since there's since been consensus for using it for general discussion of issues in the program. Dcoetzee 20:30, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Courses not participating in Education Programs[edit]

Am I allowed to ask here what is the process for dealing with a student editing project that has not joined the WMF Education Program, or will that add to my disruptive editcountitis because I so often encounter these issues that it is overwhelming staffers? What do I advise this professor, if anything? It's a problematic article, and the prof seems to have no idea what a secondary source is. This is an issue I encounter frequently (articles edited by students without enrolling in the program, or articles whose talk pages are not tagged as part of the US or Canada Education Program). Also, will WMF staff deal with this matter, or will that fall to Nikkimaria, who is already quite overworked? Are unenrolled student editing projects to be dealt with on this board, and if not, where? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:05, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Nonparticipating students are deliberately in the included scope for this board, as long as they're doing it as assigned coursework, so you are free to raise this issue here. Please avoid the aggressive tone, however. From what I can see the student seems very cooperative and open to learning, but we should still considering contacting the prof just to advise them of the program and ways they can help students avoid some of these sourcing issues. Dcoetzee 04:03, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
I haven't started being aggressive yet; just trying to help WMF do its job, which seems to be becoming my job. It's a prof, not a student. Would someone involved with the Education Program please talk with him in the event that is warranted; I'm busy cleaning up the article, and don't want to be in the position of explaining a program that I don't understand to a prof who doesn't understand Wikipedia ... there are only 24 hours in a day, and I will be glad to notify here when I encounter these cases, but would prefer that someone else do the honors with the prof. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:43, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Oops didn't realise they were a prof. I'll take a look at it in a bit if no one beats me to it. Dcoetzee 05:03, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Thanks so much, appreciated. (Apparently asking the question means I'm irritated ... I sure was irritated by the editcountitis in the section above, since I am so famously inefficient as an editor, but didn't know the WMF role on cases like this one, never mentioned "the idea that paid WMF staff might not intervene in it", and this board seems the best place to bring cases and questions like this ... I hope Kevin feels better soon!) Actually, the draft of that article put up by the students was better than what's there now (albeit with formatting issues). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 05:32, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Posted some stuff at User talk:Sperrycogpsych#Feedback_on_your_class.27s_article. Dcoetzee 21:08, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, saw that, will save it so I can say similar in the future, haven't heard back from the prof since post to my talk. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:16, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
The process, AFAIK, is to find out whether the prof has an account, and point them to relevant discussions and to WP:SUP. You can use {{welcome teacher}} if you like, or just a handwritten message. Nikkimaria (talk) 04:27, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Unsigned, but sounds like Nikkimaria-- thanks! SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:43, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Was me, fixed. Depending on where they are there might not be USEP/CEP support for the class, so just point them to WP:SUP and leave it at that - quick and easy. Nikkimaria (talk) 11:32, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Uninvolved pros and OAs[edit]

Thanks, Nikkimaria, for the attention to issues and responses above. As term-end approaches in Universities, my work to keep medical articles clean of information that has the potential to harm individuals escalates. What does the WMF prefer regular editors do to consolidate data in one place or bring to whomever's attention those courses, profs, and OAs who have not been responsive, in fact appear to be completely disengaged with Wikipedia? Do you have a centralized place for this kind of reporting, or will this board serve for that? It should not be "my job" to supervise this program, but because there is a huge number of psych courses introducing faulty text into medical articles (that affect real people, akin to WP:BLP), I am constantly faced with this, and would be happy if there were some central place-- such as this board-- for asking the WMF to deal with the situation of missing profs and OAs, so I don't have to struggle to educate all of their students when the prof doesn't respond on talk or the course page. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:08, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

As noted clearly at the top of the page, this board is intended in part for noting nonresponsive faculty, students, and ambassadors. Do you have a specific issue in mind? Dcoetzee 19:31, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Not yet, I like to give them a second chance, but as I find time them I will post those to here so that WMF can address them. In the interim, I'll just say that profs don't follow their course pages at all in my experience, sometimes don't even respond when pinged on talk, and the only online engaged OA I ever encounter is Nikkimaria. Thanks, I'll highlight problems after the term ends so students aren't affected, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:35, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Nonresponsiveness is an important issue to address quickly to avoid further damage in the event of poor editing. If you encounter a specific situation please don't hesitate to highlight it. However, you also shouldn't expect the WMF to directly intervene in all these issues, as the program is increasingly volunteer-run. Dcoetzee 19:37, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Agreed, I'd be posting them to here for WMF, OAs, etc to be aware of issues so they can adapt as warranted for future terms, so that we can all have a better editing experience and better content can result. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:50, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Role of this noticeboard[edit]

Hi all, I really appreciate everyone participating in discussions here - it seems like the new noticeboard really fills a needed role and will enhance participation and transparency. However, I've noticed that there are two different types of discussion occurring here - general criticism of the education program, with broad, potentially disruptive suggestions for improvement, and reports of specific incidents requiring urgent attention. I originally imagined this board filling the latter role, and I want to figure out going forward whether we believe this board will be most useful serving both roles, or whether it should be divided into two forums for these two distinct categories of discussion (since some people may only be interested in one or the other). Even if it were split, it would still be possible to leave notifications here of relevant discussions occurring elsewhere. If the forum is split, I wonder whether a new forum should be created for general discussion (and if so where), or if an existing forum should be used.

My personal opinion is that (as on WP:ANI) discussion of incidents inevitably leads to discussion of general ideas and that attempts to relocate that type of discussion would be ultimately fruitless as it would creep back in. I also think there aren't enough volunteers with an interest in the education program at the moment that we could sustain two separate forums with a critical mass of participation. So I would elect to maintain this single noticeboard for the purpose. However I am a bit biased as I'm not as turned off by the general discussion and resulting watchlist spam as some others might be. Thoughts? Dcoetzee 22:03, 23 April 2012 (UTC)

(moved this thread from talk page, appears to be on same topic)
There are two very different things happening here:
  1. Individual incidents (copyvios, COIs, etc) are being reported and followed up on, often time-sensitive.
  2. Fundamental issues and complaints about the way the program is being run are being filed here (important, but the first category takes priority).
The Wikipedia Education Program staff highly values both of these, but the amount of traffic on this page makes it difficult for staff to easily and adequately monitor the page for time-sensitive issues.
Would anyone be opposed to or support splitting this noticeboard into two distinct pages, one dedicated to incidents, and the other to non-incident issues? Rob SchnautZ (WMF) (talkcontribs) 22:00, 23 April 2012 (UTC)
A la AN vs ANI? Nikkimaria (talk) 22:04, 23 April 2012 (UTC)
Polls are evil. Let's try not to have a straw poll when we haven't even discussed thoughts or options yet. Dcoetzee 22:13, 23 April 2012 (UTC)
I think we should keep discussion of both issues here for now. Suggestions for improving the program over all are just as if not more important than dealing with short term concerns. And the number of interested editors in these issues are small.
We need more consolidation of discussion here on Wikipedia not more fragmentation. When / if the numbers grow maybe we can reconsider in the future. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 22:19, 23 April 2012 (UTC)
I probably will be un-watchlisting this board fairly soon. The threads have been unfocused and very much dominated by one or two editors, and there doesn't seem to be much room for other voices. [14] The Interior (Talk) 22:43, 23 April 2012 (UTC)
Sounds like you've not read WP:EDITCOUNTITIS, since I'm infamous for a gazillion typo corrections and taking three posts to make one. What issue have you raised that hasn't been heard? I know most of the issues I've raised haven't been heard, and I don't think pointing at my typo corrections has any bearing on that. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:58, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
His comment has nothing to do with the essay you linked. I would suggest rereading his post, pretending that he didn't include the Wikisense link at the end. Kevin Gorman (talk) 19:52, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
... but the amount of traffic on this page makes it difficult for staff to easily and adequately monitor the page for time-sensitive issues. Which time-sensitive issue was missed. As far as I can see, as elsewhere, the one I raised was dealt with not by staff, but by Nikkimaria, and it wasn't at all hard to find on this page. Since there is almost no traffic on this page relative to almost anywhere else I follow (heck, you think this is bad, try dealing with what student editing has done to my watchlist :) :), that statement is alarming for reasons beyond the obvious. As the board matures, and WMF staff (hopefully) acknowledges and addresses the systemic failures, there will be less distinction and hopefully less concern. I haven't seen any issue requiring immediate intervention go unaddressed, I have seen several issues discussed appropriately, so I don't see a problem with the board functioning as it is now. Separating general problems from specific time sensitive ones is in the eye of the beholder (perhaps some don't think editor wasted time is urgent, others do, no?), and heavy handed intervention by WMF staff isn't likely to go over well. Also, as mentioned previously, discussions of these programs are already split in too many places, with too little community involvement, which is what led to some of the very problems that have surfaced. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:58, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Apologies for the late response; I've been busy with other tasks and meetings.
  • Nikki, yes, that' precisely what I'd like to see done.
  • Interior, that's because to date the noticeboard hasn't been linked to any program pages, except for links from the U.S./Canada update pages, and this was added when those pages were split from an Outreach page and moved to the English Wikipedia, so I can't imagine anyone noticed those being added. One of my goals today is to get the word out to the Program volunteers and watchers about this page.
  • Sandy, yes, I'm guilty of the same thing, editing several times to put up a single comment; that's not the issue I'm referring to. I'm referring to the size of the discussion, the frequency of discussion, and the number of discussions, since I generally read several responses in the same pageview. The amount of conversation right now about the program is at a level that if an incident were to pop up, it might get lost in the noise and take longer for someone to address it. By separating incidents from general discussion, it not only cleans up some people's watchlists but also helps keep things organized, making sure immediately relevant issues can be addressed without as much delay. Rob SchnautZ (WMF) (talkcontribs) 16:15, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
  • If you read the "Reboot" subhead below, you might observe that some of that is just coming from startup issues and miscommunication, that should settle down with maturity. I don't think you have enough traffic here to separate boards yet. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:23, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

Sourcing handout could be updated[edit]

I've just found this handout, which is probably one source of many of the problems I'm encountering on medical articles-- it does not explain the difference between primary and secondary sources, and doesn't mention WP:MEDRS at all, which is interesting considering the high number of psych courses or other courses whose topic areas included editing medical articles. I hope the sourcing handout will be updated for the next term. Finding secondary reviews of primary studies for medical articles in PubMed is not that hard, particularly for students who have access to journal databases, but we do need to explain the correct use of primary studies vs. secondary reviews to the professors and students. Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2008-06-30/Dispatches Many of the profs seem to think that because journals are peer-reviewed, that means articles are secondary reviews. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:12, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

It's unlikely to be a significant source of the issues you've encountered - I've never seen it before. That said, it is likely that at least some of the classes editing in medical areas were never informed of WP:MEDRS, which is something that a concerted effort to avoid should be made next semester. Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:42, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
It is an issue, and a very big one, in essentially every instance of student editing I've encountered, (likely) because I watchlist medical articles. I seem to be having a hard time getting this message across-- there are a very high number of psych courses editing medical articles, without having been given information about how to use sources correctly. That you have never encountered it has little to do with my editing experience, and addressing this takes a good deal of my time. It would be wonderful if WP:MEDMOS, WP:MEDRS, WP:PSTS, and Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2008-06-30/Dispatches were made part of any handouts for courses that have the potential to affect medical articles. Another issue is that students are using extremely outdated sources to add medical content: unlike many other editing areas, medicine changes. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:32, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Let me clarify what Kevin meant (and I agree) - I'm not aware of any courses using this handout. It's just a PDF Sage made at some point that he thought might be potentially useful. It was created for courses in general, so of course it doesn't mention every RS guideline that might apply to some course somewhere. If you have a list of issues affecting medical courses that you think would make good reading for students, I'd consider writing something up in your user space that we can link them to for reading, that could also form the basis for a new handout. Just keep in mind that newbies can be easily overwhelmed so good organization to get the main points across is essential. Dcoetzee 19:35, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Ah, thank you, and my apologies to Kevin for the misunderstanding. (However, I did find that PDF linked on multiple course pages.) I will try to do that writeup, then, modeled on Sage's PDF, but probably can't to it until June, which should be in time for fall term. I don't do images, so I can't upload it-- will post here when/if I have something ready that WMF might adapt and use. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:38, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
It looks like it got included in the extremely overcrowded course page template, but it's not something in active use by ambassadors, and it's clear looking at it's viewcount that, like I said, it is not a significant source of the issues you have encountered. Kevin Gorman (talk) 19:46, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Most courses are instructing students to read that page in the first week or so of the course; hence, pageviews going back 90 days are more relevant. And if the students aren't even reading the page, that's a whole 'nother problem. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:12, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
55 views in 90 days makes it pretty obvious that it's not a source of problems, given the many hundreds of students in the education program. It's one of about two dozen things linked from the standard course resources page, and attracts almost no attention. It would be a problem that the standard course resources page is useless, except that it's being replaced with a mediawiki extension next semester that will be less useless. Kevin Gorman (talk) 20:19, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Now you tell us ... why do I feel like we're going in circles. The issue is, how can we get good sourcing info to students, what we have now is not, and they aren't even reading it. I started a thread saying sourcing info could be updated, and a gazillion posts in, I'm finally told it is being updated. Someone suggested I write up something. Now I find out something better is already in the works-- after wasting a lot of posts on this page. See the problem? So, given that something is in the works, could we perhaps get back to the issue-- how can we put out better info about the issues I raised (primary vs. secondary sources, MEDRS, etc). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:15, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
I wasn't aware of the update in these resources (Kevin generally knows more about goings-on than me). But my suggestion to you was to write something up specifically for medical articles, which these update resources still will not be - they will be for general support. You're better qualified to write on that specific topic, which was why I suggested it. Dcoetzee 21:18, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
If you want a discussion about how we can better inform students who are editing in medical areas of our medical sourcing standards, have you considered, oh, I don't know, starting a thread about it? Instead of starting a thread about something tangential and getting annoyed when someone gives you a perfectly good answer to your tangent? Kevin Gorman (talk) 21:27, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
You mean perhaps like this one that I did start, or the one in Archive 2? Kevin Gorman, what is your position wrt the Education Program? And where can a regular editor like me begin to understand the bureacracy and how and where we can communicate issues without having to deal with this kind of behavior? Why is everything so obscured (perchance because too much is run off-Wiki, I don't know?) I hope you are better at communicating in whatever your capacity isthan what I'm seeing here, but you are certainly making it difficult to discuss some pretty simple matters, like how we can put better sourcing info in the hands of profs whose students edit medical articles. It's unfortunate that this board, which could be a resource for communicating with the community to address some of the recurring issues, is being poorly utilized ... I guess I should find someone to talk to who will listen. Please drop the nastiness and work on listening. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:57, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
You brought up a particular issue, and I addressed it explicitly. If you want to productively engage with anyone then change your current mode of behavior. I'm choosing to disengage with you, because after interacting with you in good faith in every interaction I've had with you so far, you still don't seem willing to treat me civilly or WP:AGF. I would suspect that very few other education program affiliated editors will choose to interact with you given the tone you adopt. Kevin Gorman (talk) 22:06, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
And to be clear, I didn't mean that all the stuff currently on the resources page is being redone, just that course pages are being converted to use a mediawiki extension that will presumably not have the same page loaded with dozens of things drawn up in case they turned out to be useful that no one ever looks at/that are never mentioned by ambassadors/that no one is ever expected to look at. Derrick's suggestion is probably a good one since I doubt any medical people are currently drafting useful resources. I'm unwatchlisting this noticeboard for now, I'll check back in a few weeks to see if it's turned in to something more worth engaging with. Kevin Gorman (talk) 21:31, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
I suspect it will. By the way, who is Derrick? When communicating with the community, it helps to remember that not all of us are staffers, and some of us do all of our communicating on Wiki. I feel like I'm missing the secret key in here. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:00, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Are you still operating under the assumption I'm a staff member? I thought we had cleared that up in the AfD? (Derrick = Dcoetzee) Kevin Gorman (talk) 22:06, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Reboot[edit]

After multiple discussions on this page of the issues occuring in medical topics, I located a referencing handout that is linked to now, this term, in several courses that are editing medical articles (incorrectly), and made a concrete suggestion that it could be updated to include better information about how to edit medical topics. Several exchanges later, where it was denied that the lack of such info is part of the problem, it was eventually revealed that this information is, in fact, being updated-- information that might have been stated first, without all the interim denials of the problem. Yes, such communication style is bogging down this page's effectiveness. Yes, the "regular editor" (moi) has no means of knowing the PDFs are being updated since a lot involving the Education Program does not happen on wiki where all can see and follow, this information is coming from two editors whose involvement with the Education Program is unclear (yet they appear to speak with authority), and to date as far as I know, no WMF staff has weighed in on or even acknowledged the discussion or the problem. These kinds of issues have affected the Education Program since its inception. How are regular editors, non-staff or not part of these programs, to make suggestions for improvement? To avoid the denials and indirects that resulted above from a simple request to get better referencing information in to the hands of students and profs, can any WMF staff or person answer the query-- is there a plan or a way to get these handouts updated to include information about editing medical topics, so that the experience can be less frustrating for students, regular editors, and result in better content? Is there a role for an udpated guide specific to medical articles? Is there any reason for me to work on something like that, and with whom would I work and where? I would appreciate if those who don't or can't answer the question cease the indirects, in the hopes that WMF staff will respond. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:08, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

No, there is no plan currently in place to get a medical sourcing guide for the education program in place. Yes, such a guide is badly needed. Currently most ambassadors are not familiar with our medical sourcing standards, and I would expect that very few classes that write medical articles have had them explained. If you create one, I would talk to User:JMathewson_(WMF) about getting it put in place. The PDF's in general are also not being updated; all I meant to say above was that the laundry list of out of date resources is, as far as I know, not being included in the mediawiki extension that will be used in the future. (And yes, I am still, as a non-WMF person, directly answering your question, as I did above. This post does leave me wondering, though: are you even capable of making a post where you don't both misinterpret what I've previously said and attack me? I never denied that a lack of information is a problem, in my very first post in the previous section I said "That said, it is likely that at least some of the classes editing in medical areas were never informed of WP:MEDRS, which is something that a concerted effort to avoid should be made next semester.") Kevin Gorman (talk) 16:44, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
Thank you for the direct answer (sans the unnecessary barbs in the smalled portion). Now that I have that information (appreciated), is there a chance that someone involved a la WMF can weigh in to let me know my efforts in this area won't be wasted if I begin to write something up? For all I know, they might reply that they don't want a topic-specific handout, in which case, we need to take a look at the number of courses that are causing these problems (something I haven't done globally yet, I'm only aware of the courses I've encountered). Thanks, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:52, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
Sandy, I think you'd find it useful to understand the current state of the Education Program -- I can't summarize it now (I'm at work) but it's complicated, which is unfortunately necessary because so much of it (such as on-campus training, and some engagement with the professors) has to happen off-wiki. In addition there is relevant material on other wikis such as the outreach and strategy wikis. I'll try to give a more detailed outline of what I know tonight, but one thing I think you would find useful to know is that the WMF role, though key, has been partly one of coordination, so it's not necessarily the case that there is a single person who has direct responsibility to answer a particular question. Most of the on-wiki participants are simply volunteers, so we often only know about the part of the process we've been personally involved with. Generally I think the program participants are trying to be responsive to the various problems that have come up (such as the ones you're citing). If someone else doesn't jump in with more detail, I'll try to expand this answer tonight. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 18:33, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, Mike-- that would help. It doesn't make sense for me to take the time to work something up if I can't even figger out who the right hands and left hands are, much less whether they are talking to each other and where. If it's not going to be used, no sense ... I suppose I'm still accustomed to the FAC model, where the bucks stops with someone, and everything is in one place, on-Wiki and transparent. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:53, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
You imagine the program as much more hierarchical than it actually is. In reailty, each class is essentially autonomous, with the ambassadors and faculty managing that class deciding what information to present based on that class's individual needs. There is very little management from the WMF, only recommendations and common resources like the standard course page (which apply to all courses). If you created something for medical courses specifically, you would deploy it either by asking ambassadors of medical courses to show it to students, or by leaving a talk page notice for those students yourself (perhaps using a tool like Wikipedia:Mass talk post tool to do so quickly). If such resources became popular, they would become cited more widely, the same kind of wiki magic you see for essays, etc. Dcoetzee 20:30, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
Thanks Dcoetzee. If the standard course page is semi-automated then (tranclusion or something?), would it be impractical to add the mere two, perhaps three, sentences that it would take to clear up the medical sourcing issue, and make that part of the standard course page? There seem to be a very high number of psych courses and other courses editing medical topics (I haven't done the analysis to get the percentage), and I believe this can be done in a sentence or three. Students are wasting a lot of their own time by writing articles based on primary sources, profs aren't aware, and when they put the articles up, other editors have to cleanup. It's not fair to anyone, and I think a few sentences would help. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:35, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
Yes, thanks Dcoetzee -- saying it's not very hierarchical is a much more concise way to convey what I was trying to say. Sandy, I think if you think of this as another on-wiki process, like Wikiproject A-class reviews, or DYK, you'll get the right basic idea -- this is a wiki, and there's no distinction between you and an editor who is working with a class. They're just editors involved in that process. If you want to create handouts or provide advice to psych classes, there's no reason not to, any more than there would be if the class was operating completely autonomously. However, as you can see from LiAnna's comment below, there are more and less effective ways to get the word out, and WMF employees like LiAnna, and editors like Dcoetzee and Kevin, will often be able to point you in a useful direction. I certainly don't have a good overview of the whole Education Program myself, and I doubt there's any one person who can answer every question you might have. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 22:15, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
Hi SandyGeorgia, if you have concerns about a handout for psychology articles in particular, you should reach out to the Association for Psychological Sciences, as it's their initiative that's bringing the abnormally large number of psych classes to the U.S. program (see also Wikipedia:WikiProject_Psychology/APS-Wikipedia_Initiative). They may be able to add it to the resources they give to their professors as standard information (which would be good in general because their initiative is also to encourage their membership to edit beyond just having students in their classrooms edit). If you do create a handout on medical sourcing (and I encourage you to!), be sure to add it to WP:Ambassadors/Resources rather than the course page template. The course page template, as Kevin mentioned, is being replaced by an integrated MediaWiki extension that will allow everyone a much better view into what students are doing on-wiki. The extension is awaiting code review right now and will be in place for the next term (fall 2012), so adding new handouts to the current templates won't have any effect, but adding them to the WP:Ambassadors/Resources page will. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 21:37, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
It looks like there may be ~120ish psych students this semester - perhaps it would be a good idea to develop a brief message and bomb it out to the talk pages of all students involved? Sandy, if you come up with the message (and no one objects in the interim,) I can do the bombing. Kevin Gorman (talk) 22:02, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
Progress ... but I'm out of time for the day, off to exercise ... we'll get on a response later or tomorrow. Thanks, all, this is the kind of info I was after ... SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:49, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

OK, ready to start on this now. My plan is to come up with a sentence or three, that Kevin could bomb as he mentions, and could be raised at that psych initiative, and might be added to the MediaWiki extension. (The psych articles are not the only problem: there are also issues with a Genetics class and multiple other medical classes that I can't identify at the moment-- it's also affecting plain vanilla medical articles.) Should I model the addition needed on what is currently at File:WikipediaReferencing.pdf, or is that not the best starting place? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:27, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

If it's going to be a handout, I'd suggest going for a separate page (or half-page), since in that case the campus ambassadors could hand it out to the classes for which it's relevant. That seems better to me than embedding a shorter version in a document which will be read by people who aren't ever going to edit medical articles. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:53, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
For the immediate message to be bombed out to students in relevant classes this term, I would just come up with a paragraph or two explaining medical sourcing with links to relevant policies. I'll bomb it out to any students whose classes don't have OA's/CA's immediately, and notify OA's/CA's for the classes that have them (and then give it to their students directly two or three days later if they don't respond to me.) A handout type thing would be nice for next term, though. Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:50, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
I'd suggest just writing up like a brief informational page in your user space for now, which can be linked to students on their talk pages and easily read. Don't worry about a handout type thing for now. Dcoetzee 20:19, 26 April 2012 (UTC)
Thanks to everyone for the help. I'm hoping to enlist User:Colin's help in writing this (my prose stinks), but I doubt I'll have anything in time for this term ... it's too late anyway, since most courses are wrapping up. I have a very busy week ahead, and lost time at the beginning of the week that I could have used to write this (trying to get answers here :) It Will Happen! SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:07, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

Addressing issues / improving the program[edit]

I think we have three main question 1) what do we expect from students / profs 2) what can we do to help guide students / profs in this direction 3) what actions do we wish to take with those who do not achieve our expectations after a reasonable effort.

What do we expect
  1. the use of secondary sources (ie. review articles, major textbooks ,etc.)
  2. appropriate paraphrasing and no copyright violations
  3. responsiveness when notes are left on their talk pages or when we reply to their requests for review
  4. proper formating / style and the willing to fix this when brought to their attention
What can we do to help
  1. provide high quality handouts that reflect these requirements
  2. provide in class help through campus ambassadors
  3. provide on wiki help via both ambassadors and other Wikipedians
What should we do if expectations not met

This of course will be the most controversial and some may feel we do not need any additional tools to address concerns

  1. quick fails at DYK/GAN
  2. block or ban classes
  3. have bots available to revert the edits of entire classes

Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 13:13, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

Depending on the context, primary sources or tertiary sources may be very appropriate, and secondary sources may be discouraged in general. For instance, in the WP:TOL WikiProject, articles require the citation of peer-reviewed, published studies (which are primary sources since by definition they introduce original research), and material from secondary sources such as textbooks or peer-reviewed, published syntheses is generally discouraged. (Interestingly, however, press coverage is often acceptable). I don't think it's reasonable to block or ban a class, or to have bots revert edits of all students in a class. You can't punish everyone because one person is violating policies. Rob SchnautZ (WMF) (talkcontribs) 15:30, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
(a) The WP:TOL requirements are in addition to all the usual wikipedia requirements, not in place of them (I'll admit that enforcement of that can be lax sometimes). (b) we have blocked other groups of meat puppets, why not these? Stuartyeates (talk) 21:05, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
I have to agree that students should be evaluated individually. In any given class, there are students who really get policy and are open to feedback, and students who missed the point no matter how well their ambassador emphasized it. We have cases like the IEP where students have a systematic instruction and cultural issue that causes them all to blatantly violate policy, and that's the only case where I'd consider rolling back a class's contributions. Dcoetzee

Unless it's an IEP type situation, I cannot see rolling back an entire classes contributions without individually evaluating them. Likewise I can't see blocking an entire class. I would encourage quickfails at GAN and DYK, and have quickfailed some edu DYK's myself in the past. Stuart: unless all students in a class happened to be editing the same article, referring to them as meatpuppets would be greatly straining the ordinary definition of meatpuppet. In what other situation have we blocked 20+ good faith editors at a time whose editing patterns did not overlap just because they know each other irl and have a poor understanding of policy? Kevin Gorman (talk) 21:32, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

Yes I am refering to the IEP type situation with extensive copyright infringement from an entire class.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 05:49, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
I agree that meatpuppetry only arises when accounts associated with a class support a common position at AfD, DYK and other process-oriented pages. I have no problem with them all editing pages in article space. Stuartyeates (talk) 23:05, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

I only recently started following this fascinating intersection of worlds—apologies for any redundancy. If it were me developing policy, I'd strongly discourage professors from involving any of Wikipedia's evaluation mechanisms (DYK, GA, C vs B class [lol]). It is enough for newcomers under deadlines to understand Wikipedia and develop articles consistent with WP's purpose. The "lesser" of the evaluation mechanisms I mentioned (and really, DYK isn't one anyway) may be arbitrary, subject to gaming, and aren't that meaningful; they are not in the least a replacement for independent evaluation in a course. The better of the evaluation mechanisms appear as a bridge too far given the very uneven results of these "education programs". Highlighting GAs or FAs as models for article development is one thing, but pushing students towards submitting to these projects may be unfair both to the student and to Wikipedia. A professor might say, "without reference to Wikipedia's methods of article evaluation, how will I know what's been accomplished?" Yet if these courses aren't about Wikipedia editing, then course evaluation must have much more to do with mastery of the subject than of Wikipedia policy, citation templates and wiki-code. Second, this seems really obvious, but it's not apparent from a quick scan of various courses that anyone is vetting them in advance for an answer to a simple question: will you be writing impersonal reports based on existing literature—suitable for an encyclopedia—or developing theses? Such consultation beforehand is the key, no? Riggr Mortis (talk) 07:29, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

Courses are generally discouraged (I can't say universally, just because it's not that formalized a program) from using evaluation mechanisms with any connection to grading, but many professors (and students) are fascinated by (and want to pursue) Wikipedia's evaluation processes, because of their similarity(ish) to things they are used to. Students are often actively encouraged to pursue DYK just because most students find being on the frontpage of Wikipedia really cool, but as far as I know no course links DYK to grading. Very very few if any courses link GA or FA to grading - some choose to pursue them out of interest or instruct students to pursue them, but there's not generally an actual link with grading. For your last question: if a course has any ambassador support or has contacted anyone beforehand, then yes, they are. But not all courses have. Kevin Gorman (talk) 07:39, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

FYI, crosspost[edit]

See http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:Administrators%27_noticeboard/Incidents&oldid=489488812#Possible_class_project_creating_essay-like_articles SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:05, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

Ok, they've now indicated it is student editing; [15] so I'm wondering how we work out the roles of the different noticeboards? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:11, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Anything on AN/I related to classes - even unregistered classes - I would crosspost here. I would bring up all edu issues here myself, unless they require immediate administrator action - like a situation where mass blocks have accidentally been handed out as happened last week, or a situation where for whatever reason mass blocks need to be handed out. However, since this noticeboard is new and has a low profile, I would expect many people to not be familiar with it and just ANI everything. We should probably mention ENB on relevant ANI posts, and in situations where no administrator is actually necessary, perhaps suggest they close their posts there and bring them here. Kevin Gorman (talk) 21:25, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Agree with this assessment. In brief: if immediate admin attention is needed, post to WP:ANI, else post here. If anyone posts something edu-related on WP:ANI, post a link to that discussion here, and if someone posts an issue more appropriate for ENB on ANI, suggest moving it here and leaving a link. Oh and here is a link to the current revision: Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents#Possible_class_project_creating_essay-like_articles. Dcoetzee 23:02, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

Several problems in one[edit]

Here's a big ball of wax for contemplation.

So, OA not fully identified on the course page, passing one of the student's DYKs for that course. This is the kind of manipulation of consensus at review processes that has been discussed elsewhere. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:09, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

And another instance of same: Template:Did you know nominations/Mental Health Reform in North Carolina (this time involving close paraphrasing or copyvio). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:20, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
This appears to be the same person as at [17]. Stuartyeates (talk) 20:34, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
So, if I'm reading this correctly (I may not be?) we have here exactly the scenario we've been concerned about ... people who are likely real-life friends, or working together, passing each other's DYKs, which impacts the student's grade. COI. Of the same kind that comes from paid editing, only in this case, for a grade. This is (potentially) the kind of off-Wiki coordination that has led to an RFC on the Meat Puppetry aspects of the program. I'm hoping I'm not reading this correctly, but from what I can tell, two out of three of the DYKs passed by the Campus Ambassador were deficient (and I haven't checked the third, Template:Did you know nominations/North Carolina Sullivan Acts, closely). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:06, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Most professors don't actually grade on getting a DYK — they just tell students to submit for DYK - in large part because appearing on the front page of Wikipedia excites students. Unless this professor has changed his policies from last year, DYK is not effecting his students' grades. That said, I agree that it's inappropriate (but probably well-intentioned) for an ambassador to be passing their own classes' DYKs. Kevin Gorman (talk) 21:19, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
As an aside, it says at the top that we're supposed to notify people we talk about, ala ANI. I know the board is new enough that we don't really have any established practices, but I feel like we should probably start doing that. Kevin Gorman (talk) 21:19, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
I did, quite a bit ago. Oops, perhaps you're saying I should notify the students as well as the Ambassador? I hope not ... again, I feel the students are victims, the Ambassador is responsible. Please let me know if I should also notify the students. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:27, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Honestly, I didn't check if you had before my post, because it hadn't occurred to me to notify people ala ANI until I saw the header just now :P I agree with you that students shouldn't normally be notified for class level problems, and will edit the header to reflect that shortly unless someone disagrees. Kevin Gorman (talk) 21:34, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Another start-up issue to be sorted ... I suppose I should notify the professor ??? Ugh, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:36, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Did that, and noticed that the prof hasn't edited since Feb 2. Sittin' on my fingers on that one. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:39, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
I updated Wikipedia:United States Education Program/Courses/Western Carolina University: Public Policy Analysis (Chris Cooper) with the ambassador's username, and notified him at User talk:Kayz911 (which no one had done already, as far as I can tell). Dcoetzee 22:43, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
The editor was notified, but the notifications were removed. Stuartyeates (talk) 22:49, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Ah I see, my mistake. Dcoetzee 23:06, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

Gotta go with Sandy here. :( If the Ambassadors do not understand the process, if they are intentionally passing content they should not, if the ambassadors are doing this because students are compelled to edit as grades matter, then there should absolutely be strong ambassador oversight for a classroom with Wikipedia project space. If the ambassador is not doing their job and students are moving content over and nominating content with ambassador approval (though consent or by not paying attention), the ambassador needs to undue it and bear the responsibility. This is NOT the fault of the students. This is the fault of the instructor and the fault of the ambassador. Given the examples we're getting, we should seriously consider blocking instructors and ambassadors who are asleep at the wheel, and give students topic area blocks where they cannot edit inside their assigned coursework area but explain we welcome their contributions elsewhere. --LauraHale (talk) 21:49, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

A fucked up DYK nom is not justification for a topic ban. No example given in this area so far is remotely justification for a topic ban. There's also nothing approaching justification for blocking ambassadors put forward in this section: please go read ENWP's blocking policy and then explain why we should block ambassadors. Kevin Gorman (talk) 21:55, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
The course description calls for DYK and GAN submission. Since the prof doesn't edit, perhaps someone will from the program will email him or her. But I don't see anything worthy of blocking here: I'd recommend they find another ambassador, though. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:53, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Seriously annoying the ambassador situation with the one class. I am NOT a medical person. I would prefer to write about women's sport. I want to edit there, but I'm having to fix the really blatant problems caused by completely unresponsive people who even though the DYK stuff went pear shaped and students didn't respond to concerns, nomimated material for GA. (And this is going to be a HUGE HUGE problem as I suspect GAN will need to be sat on because of end of semester submissions and goals of getting quick reviews as some queues have waits months long, which will encourage blatant stupidity.) At the very least, the ambassador needs to be removed from the programme and only invited back AFTER they have demonstrated they can write and review both DYKs and GAs. --LauraHale (talk) 21:59, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Wow, the fact that is even making a impact is quite humorous to myself, because it outlines some of the major problems on wikipedia. You all should be ashamed of yourselves. This will be my first and only response to these hate responses that give wikipedia, and the public policy initiative a bad name. First off, as part of my official training by Wikimedia, I was never informed that we could not participate in the DYK process. Unlike online mentors, we play a very small role in the classes and/or creation of the student's articles and do not go a deep process of helping them (because we don't have time). So long as we have not edited their work (prior to the DYK) or been instrumental in the creation there is no nexus between me at the article. I am like any one of you, an outside observer. None of these article I have every seen before the DYK process. My only input were creating the code to help them references materials in the correct manor, and to justify where their citations came from and what information they used. In same cases I might have helped a student with a citation question or helped them make a change, but if anyone thinks that is inappropriate, you have lost your mind. Now, the class does not have an OA, I reached out to a few, but were unable to help due to their busy lives. Therefore I had to make codes for them to use for citations, and provide all inclusive materials on wikipeida standards, and even defend them when vandals rip apart their hard work. The words and citations are all of their own accord, and they are to be held to the same standard as all of us are held...
Secondly, the class does not grade based upon the DYK process, NOR IS IT REQUIRED, so you should all be careful to believe everything you read on these outdated course pages, because the professor does not follow it at all. In fact, Wikimedia suggested that every class have their teachers require their students submit to the DYK process. The Professor and I both agreed this was too harsh after last semester, and removed it from the course. No grade is given to students based upon their rating of the articles, and the teacher (a professional policy analyst) reviews each submission based in its validity, format, citations and content (though many of the students submitted to the DYK process before this happened). So therefore your nexus does not exist. So at that point, most of your argument is void. With a response like this, you would think I was passing article for GA for Featured reviews. But this is the DYK, and these people are obviously are making martyr of these students. There is no problem making helpful critiques, but this is just silly, you are making students (and possible future repeat editors) grow sour of wikipedia in general with post like this. The DYK process holds far less scrutiny than the B-GA-FA reviews, if anyone thinks different, take a look at what gets passed the dyk and then those reviews. The process is very simple, new editors are encouraged to participate, and are not even asked to review other articles for their first submission. Minor critiques of writing styles and minor edits play a small role in the the process. If anyone poses a problem with the work of these students, then that's great and you should provide feedback. However, considering many of these students are older individuals who are not adept at the use of computers and scripting like many of us, it is important in welcome their work and encourage them to continue to participate in wikipedia even when they are unsure of minor NIT-PICKY details. I have seen countless people's dyk status articles ripped apart by individuals, many times unjustly (who often disagree with article), and lord knows I have had it happen to me many a time. If I have mistakenly passed an article because it's sources are invalid, then I am sorry. However, if they are valid, not clearly biased, then the issue is mute. If everyone as banned when they passed an article and someone below found a error and unpasssed it, then there would be no editors left on wikipeida. That's why we have multiple people looking at the articles, to catch errors we all make. In fact, most of the students and non-students I review need hook changes, or minor editing changes (which I either made) or suggested that they could not be passed unless improvements were made.
Finally, I do not care about your opinions of the Wikimedia's Public Policy initiative, if teachers should conduct these project, if Wikimedia was right in creating the Ambassadors or OA's, or if I did a good job or not in the review. Why? Because I have not violated any Ambassador policies, and have been widely approved for my teaching abilities with new wikipedians, training teachers and other Ambassadors, and I try to help everyone on wikipeida. I passed only articles that were cited (including at the end of all paragraphs), not clearly biased, not slander pieces, passed the length, and had a decent hook etc. I prefer to give all individuals a little wiggle room on grammatical errors in a DYK or c-class rating, because they quickly are changed, and articles drastically improved. None of you can prove I showed any favoritism, plainly because there isn't any, and I think everyone should have their fair chance to shine here on Wikipedia. Do not bother asking me to respond or post slanderous comments on my talk page, because I will not respond to them...This will be my one and only post on this matter, because I don't play into this type of bullshit on wikipedia where people focus their efforts into creating a chat-room with internet drama, instead of getting back to the subject at hand, improving and expanding the information on wikipedia in a CIVIL and constructive manor. That is all, be well, and have an otherwise wonderful day of wikipedia edits Kayz911 (talk) 23:28, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
OK, so, this is a WMF problem now, since this ambassador has a most interesting attitude and doesn't seem willing to discuss collaboratively (what are students who work with this fellow learning about Wikipedia?). [18] [19] My recommendation isn't hard to guess-- agree with LauraHale that this is not the sort of editor who should be representing Wikipedia to students. By the way, how does WMF disinvite ambassadors ? A few specifics:
  • ... as part of my official training by Wikimedia, I was never informed that we could not participate in the DYK process. One shouldn't need training to understand a conflict of interest on Wikipedia. That's general, not specific to the Education Program-- it's also common sense. You don't pass articles for someone with whom even the perception of a conflict could exist ("Pass my article and I'll buy you dinner!")
  • None of these article I have every seen before the DYK process ... So, what is the ambassador doing exactly? By the way, is there a description somewhere of what ambassadors should be doing? Based on this response, is there a problem of lacking documentation, or did the Ambassador not read something?
  • ... you read on these outdated course pages, because the professor does not follow it at all. That's encouraging. Professors create course pages and never revisit. Don't we expect them to interact with the community? In other words, for all we know, the professor *is* grading on DYKs. And we do know that the course page lists a requirement to submit to DYK and GAN.
  • With a response like this, you would think I was passing article for GA for Featured reviews. You're putting material on the mainpage (since DYK doesn't have any process, other than whether Nikkimaria happens to check a nom and admins are not responsible for checking prep or queue or what they put on the mainpage)-- in this case, one with copyvio (or close paraphrasing?), another so poorly written as to be decipherable. Regardless of your COI, that's irresponsible.
  • However, considering many of these students are older individuals who are not adept at the use of computers and scripting like many of us, ... Is editing Wikipedia, then, a good fit for this particular course?
  • The DYK process holds far less scrutiny than the B-GA-FA reviews, if anyone thinks different, take a look at what gets passed the dyk and then those reviews. Precisely. DYK is garbage. That doesn't justify passing more of same. By the way, GAN and FAC both have processes to deal with ill-prepared and subpar nominations (GAN can quickfail, FAC delegates can archive): DYK has no such thing. Again, doesn't excuse passing subpar articles to the mainpage, with a COI or even the perception of a COI.
As discussed many times at WT:DYK, the problems specific to DYK should be solved at DYK. As long as they have no means of quality control (well, except two-- by the names of Orlady and Nikkimaria) and do nothing to prevent this sort of thing, it's their problem, too. That has been covered a gazillion times, and DYK is resistant to putting anything in place that can prevent this or assure accountability for what goes on the mainpage.

Back to this topic, I also disagree with the moves to get students not to submit DYKs. In many cases, without DYK, the wider community would not have become aware of just how bad some of these student articles are. I suggest we should stop shooting ourselves in the foot by encouraging them not to submit: DYK can be a good first place to spot problems, and we should instead ask that DYK solve its long-standing quality control problems, that have been discussed at length for YEARS on talk. As long as DYK has no means of checking what it puts on the mainpage, and relies entirely on Nikkimaria to catch mistakes, we should 1) remind them that this is their problem, too and 2) not discourage students from using DYK, because it's the first stop where we're finding the extent of the problems in many courses. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:55, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

If DYK issues increase we may have to look at removing it from the main page.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 21:23, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I do think that "students" should be treated just like any other editors. All that course stuff is for the Online Ambassadors, the Professor and others directly concerned with those education programs to take care of. Why are these editors considered a special group? Plenty of new editors edit every day. Why should those in the Education Program treated with kid gloves? Especially since they all ready have Online Ambassadors, Campus Ambassadors etc. to help them? Why? MathewTownsend (talk) 21:46, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

I completely agree that students should be treated like every other editor, as per WP:BITE. The Online Ambassadors, Campus Ambassadors, etc. can reasonably be excepted to be held to a higher level of accountability, not least because they have had "official training by Wikimedia" (see above). Stuartyeates (talk) 22:32, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Stuart, on both counts. Mathew: where has anyone said that students should be treated in a particularly special way? Pretty much all the ways we've discussed treating students apply identically to treating normal new editors Kevin Gorman (talk) 23:14, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

Later today when I'm at my real computer, I'll write up a bit more of what has been expected of the existing roles (CA, OA, etc) in the program as best I can. Kevin Gorman (talk) 23:14, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

systemic issues other than w/r/t medical articles?[edit]

So far, the vast majority of negative stuff that has been brought up that deals with more than a single class or single incident has been related to sourcing standards on medical articles. Obviously, we currently have a hole in the way we present medical sourcing guidelines to classes. To make sure that other valuable feedback is not getting lost in the conversation about medical articles: has anyone else seen any other specific content related areas that we have similar systemic holes in? Kevin Gorman (talk) 21:39, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

There is a class working on gender and poverty issues (Rice University I think), and the quality of the work has been good or acceptable for the most part (especially since articles on these topics are generally poor to start with). But there has been one glaring problem that has been common to a large percentage of their work: The students tend to focus exclusively on the United States and write the articles as if the rest of the world didn't exist. For example, they will commonly make blanket generalizations and cite them to studies that are U.S.-only. Part of the problem is that 90% of English-language academic studies are focused on the U.S., so it's easy for students to not be aware that their writing is completely U.S.-centric. Is there any way that we can emphasize to professors that Wikipedia articles are supposed to represent a global worldview, and not just the United States? Kaldari (talk) 04:39, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
The course mentioned above (Public Policy analysis) isn't medical. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:47, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

Article titles keep violating Wikipedia policies and consequences of not following them[edit]

I had to move two articles (articles Mental health of refugee children and Mental health reform in North Carolina) as their article titles in the past didn't comply with Wikipedia standards. Reason? Overcapitalisation. If those people who lack the time to read Wikipedia's own rules and policies edit like this and cause disputes, this would happen:


• Edit warring and students who become edit warriors

• Move warring

• Conflicts with experienced users who knows more of the policies

• Personal attacks on experienced users and talk page misconduct (i.e. for example, "YOU REVERT MY EDITS? WHAT ARE THE RULES AGAIN, YOU TRASH!")

• Students getting topic-banned, banned and then blocked

• involvement of the MedCom and the ArbCom

Sock puppetry by banned/blocked students

and all the others.

Wikipedia needs to have users and editors that follows policies. Hill Crest's WikiLaser (Boom). (talk) 17:17, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

I disagree with you in close to the strongest possible terms. We absolutely do not need new editors to be aware of every single Wikipedia policy. We even have this codified in WP:IAR. There's barely a single experienced editor who didn't occasionally break the letter of policy when they were new editors — I know I sure as hell wasn't perfect. The important thing is the content, not the formalities of the formatting. That article doesn't look perfect to me, but it looks pretty damn good. It has a few problems I can spot off the top of my head, but it's encyclopedic, neutral verifiable, and is an important topic that we previously did not cover. The fact that it was originally miscapitalized could hardly matter less. Kevin Gorman (talk) 20:09, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
Article capitalisation is a very common problem among new editors, because the standard capitalisation used in academia is different. I think your slippery slope argument that it will lead to student edit warring and bans is bizarre. Students learn some policy and not other policy — we certainly can't expect them to learn all policy. I would personally not waste time teaching something as minor and easily fixed as this. Dcoetzee 20:10, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Kevin and Dcoetzee (this falls under "don't sweat the little stuff"), but ... Several courses whose course pages I have checked had article titles listed for months that were incorrect. One wonders where the online or campus ambassadors were when those article titles were proposed. This is just another (albeit trivial) example of the ways in which we could be doing more to save the community time and effort in the longrun-- when an entire course has every article title wrong, I'd rather see the ambassadors working on that than engaging in a COI to pass student DYKs. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:21, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
Personal attacks and edit wars however are not necessarily small stuff and if these are happening feel free to post diffs here for someone to follow up. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 21:25, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
You're right that they aren't small stuff but they aren't happening, at least related to this situation. He was making a weird slippery slope argument. Kevin Gorman (talk) 23:06, 28 April 2012 (UTC)


Sorry, I'm way too broad at things. I'm under legal adult age (don't guess it, or I'd get on the IRC and request oversight) And apparently, I'm using the IAR policy. My huge problems which get me embarrassed are biting newcomers and getting screwed up in front of professionals.

Here are the issues I intended to address:

• The article title disputes. I meant that the students learn from mistakes. However, the students almost never respond via their talk pages. Then they never respond... and never. I have no other way to contact any students. Gorman, that's how students learn Wikipedia policy (i.e. learn from mistakes). Since I notice I'm a <redacted personal info>, I get embarrassed if I was unclear. I may seem that I stress the facts. However, if conflicts do occur, a simple edit war doesn't show that productive activity but interruption and distraction from actually contributing to a potentially perfect article.

• Manual of Style. Right now, if conflicts occur, flaming on the MoS could be done by unexperienced users who rely on the academia for Wikipedia editing style.

• <pointless statement>

Even though this may seem unclear, I need some assistance to actually present this info to mean what I intend to say.

My argument in a nutshell: Edit and move warring, plus loss of consensus by any editor for adverse periods for the latter isn't doing anything to improve Wikipedia. It just springs a lot more conflicts into existance. Hill Crest's WikiLaser (Boom). (talk) 03:18, 29 April 2012 (UTC)

Go take a look at Mental health of refugee children. It's a pretty good article on a pretty important topic that we didn't used to have. If a student hadn't written it, would you have? Unless all of these are topics you were intending to write about yourself or something, then the students who do so are, in fact, improving Wikipedia. Kevin Gorman (talk) 02:09, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
Sure and if you have diffs to back it up would be happy to look at it. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 13:38, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Oh for heaven's sake. What move wars? There are none. Wikipedia's practices for capitalization in article titles is almost unique amongst published sources, so there's no surprise that people aren't going to know it instinctively. Experienced editors who think they've figured it out still find articles moved on them. What arguments on the MOS? You mean the ones that happen on a near-daily basis, involving experienced editors, that have had to be taken to Arbcom at least twice in the past few years? Never seen a near-newbie editor get involved in one of those, at least not long enough to have an impact, and I doubt very much the students are going to get messed up in MOS arguments. I'm not seeing any evidence of edit warring in all of the student pages I've looked at over the last few days, either — at least not when the change was properly explained (instead of just reverted with some sort of jargon). Risker (talk) 00:50, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
  • Please keep your posts here on topic. (And no, your post here isn't on topic.) Kevin Gorman (talk) 02:06, 30 April 2012 (UTC)

University of Portsmouth class[edit]

Editors more experienced with the Education Program may want to take a look at this ANI thread; Wikipedia:Administrators noticeboard/Incidents#Uncommunicative school project. There appears to be a class from the University of Portsmouth in the UK working on articles on English villages for an assignment. The students have not been willing so far to let us know which class this is. I know that the UK chapter has been very active in working with academia so perhaps someone from the UK chapter might be able to connect with this class. GabrielF (talk) 17:43, 1 May 2012 (UTC)

I've left a note for User:MartinPoulter, since he's a contact for the UK chapter's extension of the WEP. Rob SchnautZ (WMF) (talkcontribs) 19:55, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
Thanks Rob. One of the students has provided the email address of the professor in this edit: [21]. GabrielF (talk) 20:21, 1 May 2012 (UTC)

Problem is there's no one in charge of the program, no consistent place to post questions/complaints[edit]

  • Please see my comments on the Wikipedia talk:Ambassadors[22] The problem is that there's apparently no one in charge of the Education Program or the Online Ambassadors. MathewTownsend (talk) 01:13, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
    • You have been grinding this axe for months now. We get that you think this. While we aren't a test case for anarchism the community acts in an anarchistic fashion. There is almost never any hard and fast leaders for any part of the project. We,the different facets of the education project, have tried several times to resolve your issues. Please drop the stick and back away from the horse. It is well past dead. --Guerillero | My Talk 03:18, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
    • With reference to that GAN incident: I'm 90% sure I know which OA on the Steering Committee you're referring to, and they recently retired (partly due to many people including myself raising concerns about their understanding of copyright policies). As Guerillero explains, the education program is largely volunteer-run, just like Wikipedia as a whole. Wikipedia does not have a complaints department or a person in charge who you come to with issues - despite the many pointless requests made on User talk:Jimbo Wales. They have noticeboards and village pump and talk pages and so on. The education program is the same - if you encounter an issue or incident, address the community as a whole, on this noticeboard, and we'll endeavor to address it. Dcoetzee 04:03, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
Yes I guess the question is should this program have more hierarchy within it. Should there be someone "in charge". We do have profs in charge of classes of students thus these groups of editors will never be the same as our usual new editors. This can however be both good and back but might need different regulations than the ones we have now. P.S. removing someones comments just because they where brought up on a different wiki / different place before this noticeboard existed is not something I would recommend.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 07:36, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
I am working on an initiative that I hope will address the "no one in charge" problem as well as others. Contact me on my talk page if you want more info. The initiative is in an early draft stage. Pine(talk) 08:18, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

Proposed methodology for measuring student disruption[edit]

Developing a metric for determining student impact on Wikipedia processes.

1. Identify classes that have been involved on English Wikipedia. Divide them into five groups: A) Classes that participated within the USA/Canada framework who had a campus or online ambassador. B) Classes that participated within the USA/Canada framework who had an instructor who had extensive editing experience on Wikipedia. C) Classes that participated within the USA/Canada framework who had a zero guidance and the who did not use an ambassador. D) Classes that participated independently where their work was clearly structured around an instructor user page or some other instructor created space outside of the programme. E) Classes that neither utilized the programme, nor utilized other space.

These groups will be used for comparisons to measure the relative success of each group.

2. Amongst these five groups, identify if a class was involved in any of the following processes: In The News, Did You Know, Good Article, Featured Article, Featured Picture, Peer Review, in Wikiproject assessment, Articles for Creation and Articles for Deletion. In these categories, do the following:

A) For instructors:
i) Get the instructor's instructional objective and lesson plans specifically as they pertain to this assessment task. This includes criteria used for measuring this objective. Analyze specific instructional objective for how it aligns with the objectives of the assessment process. How well do they align? Compare the differences across all five groups.
ii) Get the instructor's syllabus, the whole course objectives and as possibly the curriculum standards for the course. Analyze the instructor's instructional objectives for the assessment process as it relates to the overall syllabus and curriculum standards. How well do they align? Compare the differences across all five groups.
iii) Find instructor's Wikipedia account. Track the volume of instructor edits during the period when their course was live, after and before overall. Track the number of edits made by instructors in the assessment processes, how many were made to their student related pages and to other pages.
iv) Survey the instructor asking how the they felt English Wikipedia assisted them in meeting core instructional objectives for their course. Also ask about their editing experiences in assessment processes.
v) Chart how instructors were involved with student work that was involved with assessment. How often did the ambassador edit the articles? Did they review a GA/DYK? If yes, what was the pass/fail rate by the assessment type? Was the instructor overturned? (GA pass taken to GAN. DYK ending up rejected. C class taken down to start. Tags removed by an instructor put back.)
vi) Chart how often instructor voted in things related to student work and how often this supported or opposed the final consensus view. (AfD, Merge, etc.)

SORT RESPONSES BY FIVE CLASSROOM TYPES.


B) For students:
i) Get all the support materials students were given prior to being required to work on an assessment related task from the instructor. Ask students what they were given.
ii) Track student edits before, during and after the course.
iii) How many total edits did a student make to their user page, to article specific talk page, and to article before submitting it for the assessment.
iv) Track the success percentage of students going through an assessment process. (Did their DYK appear on the main page? Did their GA pass?) If failed the assessment process, identify the cause. For example: Asssment process malformed, article had copyvios, article was not long or new enough, article not fully source, article not reliably sourced, article not notable enough.

SORT RESPONSES BY FIVE CLASSROOM TYPES.

C) For ambassadors:
i) Graph their edits to various assessment processes before, during and after the course.
ii) Chart how ambassadors were involved with student work that was involved with assessment. How often did the ambassador edit the articles? How many comments did they make to a student's talk page? How many comments did they make to an article talk page? Did they review a GA/DYK? If yes, what was the pass/fail rate by the assessment type? Was the instructor overturned? (GA pass taken to GAN. DYK ending up rejected. C class taken down to start. Tags removed by an ambassador put back.)
iii) Chart how often ambassadors voted in things related to student work and how often this supported or opposed the final consensus view. (AfD, Merge, etc.)
iv) Survey ambassadors for their views on the various assessment processes, how often they participated prior to the class.
v) Collect all materials the ambassador were given before and during the course by the instructor to help the ambassador support the class. vi) Ask ambassadors if they believe the student work helped students meet the stated course objectives. Ask ambassadors what percentage of student contributions they feel worked towards Wikipedia's ideals for content improvement.

SORT RESPONSES BY FIVE CLASSROOM TYPES.

D) For people involved with assessment processes:
i) Get a list of people involved in an assessment area at the time a class was active. Find out which percentage of these editors were involved in classroom work. Find out the editing patterns for people involved in an assesment process: Which percentage of their assessment work involved students? What was the percentage before the class was involved? What was the percentage afterwards? What were the edit counts in their main contribution periods before, during and after a class was active? This is trying to determine the impact of student involvement on normal editing processes. (Did they neglect others because of students? Did they contribute less because of student supervision? Did they decrease editing as a result?)
ii) Survey people people involved with assessment and ask their feelings about being involved with coursework. Survey what they feel like it did to their other editing. Ask if about their motives and if it changed because of possibility of a student being given a grade for the assessor's work.
iii) Determine how often the person passed/failed a student's work. Track the reasons why it they did not pass a student's work.
iv) Compare the assessor's student pass/fail rate to the assessor's non-student pass/fail rate. Track the reasons they did not pass a contributor's work.

SORT RESPONSES BY FIVE CLASSROOM TYPES.

E) Other contributors:
i) Identify contributors to articles used in the assessment process by students. Track the edits by those contributors to those articles before, during and after course involvement. Purpose is to determine local article specific editing changes.
ii) Track these contributors overall edit count totals to all articles before, during and after a course for contributors who had edited now student being worked on articles. Purpose is to measure how this impacted on their overall editing.
iii) Survey these contributors to ask how a class working on the article impacted their willingess to edit the article.
iv) Ask contributors where they would find information on student coursework if a contributor had questions about what was happening to an article.

SORT RESPONSES BY FIVE CLASSROOM TYPES.

F) The assessment space:
i) Identify the volume of contributions to an assessment before, during and after an assessment process for totals. What percentage was student work?
ii) Identify lengths of times for assessment for student work and non-student work. How long before a work was assessed and by whom was it assessed? How long did the assessment take from start to finish?
iii) Identify at the overall pass/fail rate for articles before, during and after for student versus non-student work.


3. Analyze the above by comparing the five different groups with in specific assessment types and based on the different groups involved.

This will give an idea on if students are disruptive, how they are potentially disruptive, which groups are the least disruptive, how normal assessment compares to assessment done of student work, and how this impacts other contributor edits.

Is this a lot of work? Yes, but anything less than this really does not address the fundamental problems of how students disrupt community processes while at the same time measuring student success and instructor preparedness. --LauraHale (talk) 09:35, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

New botany class?[edit]

Over the past several days, I've seen a number of new botany articles appearing from new accounts that appear to be part of a class project. Users in question seem to be:

Most have been working in sandboxes first, and I haven't seen any serious issues, other than some patches of copyvio on one of the articles (which have been fixed). I put one of the nicest articles through DYK. Still, there hasn't been much engagement (although I saw one come back to add a reference when a "citation needed" template was placed), and it would be nice if we had a point of contact to offer support. Choess (talk) 16:06, 27 April 2012 (UTC)

A few more to add to this list:
At the risk of sounding like Alice: How curious! There was a similar incident recently with a very narrow category of texts by a medieval monk recently; I'm not sure the editors ever identified, but we were able to confirm that group was unrelated to the WEP. I'd say the most effective method of investigating this would be to contact one or two of the editors and politely ask what's sparked their sudden contributions, pointing out their great work at the same time. In fact, one of these students got a User talk:Atulsinha24#DYK for Notholaena standleyi! Face-grin.svg And-- maybe the involved professor (assuming there is one) can share a secret or two! Rob SchnautZ (WMF) (talkcontribs) 19:41, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Oh, my. Thank you for highlighting yet another DYK nom that slipped through the cracks in a process where similar is common. Template:Did you know nominations/Notholaena standleyi. Since you say "one of these students got a DYK" for this work (as if That's Indicative Of A Good Thing), perhaps you could take the time to review the sources and explain to me just where all of that text came from, and how that text is verified? Until DYK addresses its deficiencies, using it to claim valued student contributions is ... null and void. Also, you might want to watchlist Wikipedia:Did you know/Removed; another quite deficient student nom was just pulled from queue (that's three in about the last 24 hours, which shouldn't have made it through the DYK process, but that's what happens at DYK), and similar will probably escalate as we approach term-end. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:54, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
One of the students, User:Cwizelius, has proactively communicated with the community, so I'm holding out hope they'll be responsive. I would like to learn more about what's going on - was not able to sort it out through detective work. Dcoetzee 22:55, 27 April 2012 (UTC)
Just talked to one of the students. It's a course out of SUNY-Stony Brook. I think it's BIO 341, which is being taught by Ed Lowry, a postdoc in the Gurevitch lab. Overall, the articles are pretty good for first-timers, although quality does vary quite a bit. I've caught some copyvio/paraphrasing here and there, but it's usually a phrase or sentence or two, not huge swathes. That said, I'd appreciate it if one of the education project functionaries could do some outreach and tried to get the class a noticeboard or point of contact or whatever, I'd appreciate it. It's a 78-student class, and if 50 of them suddenly dump articles from their sandboxes into mainspace at the last minute, there's not much I can do to help them. Choess (talk) 05:27, 28 April 2012 (UTC)
Great, thanks, I've e-mailed Ed Lowry. Dcoetzee 20:54, 29 April 2012 (UTC)
Sandy, the article that got featured in DYK was nominated by Choess, who is clearly unaffiliated with the class or the person, so it most definitely wasn't a case of students self-nominating their articles for extra credit. The references provided at Notholaena standleyi#References indicate clearly where the material came from. It's got a couple of minor issues, such as the map not appearing within the taxobox and an incorrect species authority in the taxobox (assuming the text in the article is correct), and possibly an overly technical morphology section (I may be mistaken, I'm not up on my botany), but other than that, it looks solid to me. Rob SchnautZ (WMF) (talkcontribs) 15:49, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
Sandy's principal issue, if I've interpreted her comments correctly, was with the DYK process passing an article she felt was inadequately sourced; I believe she felt, on those grounds, that it was a poor representative of good student-created content. The stringency with which we review article sourcing is a long-standing bone of contention at DYK. Choess (talk) 18:20, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
Let me know if/when you hear from him. A raft of new articles came in over the weekend, outstripping my ability to keep up. I'm creating a tracking page in my userspace for the time being, but a proper course page would be great. Choess (talk) 18:20, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
I haven't heard back yet, but I've turned User:Choess/BIO341 into an unofficial course page for now linked from all the student pages - go ahead and add the template if you find any more of them. At least some of the students I suspect did copy-paste moves into mainspace, which is not a huge deal, but I added a list of sandboxes to the course page so an admin can go through and fix those at their leisure. Dcoetzee 21:56, 1 May 2012 (UTC)
I just completed doing history merges for all the copy-paste moves by these students. If I hear from this instructor they are definitely learning about the Move button... Dcoetzee 07:35, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
I've received an e-mail response from Ed Lowry now. I told him more about the education program, asked for a list of usernames, and explained the Move feature to him. Dcoetzee 01:45, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
Hey, great. If he's willing to share any of his student briefing materials, I'd really appreciate it. Not that there aren't things to fix, but he's got his students turning out what I consider to be very creditable articles for first-time Wikipedia editors. I'm pondering the notion of creating a guide to writing good botany articles in my copious spare time (ha), and I'd like to see what advice he's been giving. Choess (talk) 02:52, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

Writing as communication, Spring 2012[edit]

I just happened to see this on my watchlist, from a course that has given me fits. Wikipedia talk:United States Education Program/Courses/Writing As Communication Spring 2012#Gender representation in video games. I haven't looked any further into this-- just happened to see it because I've posted twice to that talk so it's on my watchlist, so posting it here (because profs don't seem to follow their course pages). I've discussed several of their other problematic articles in sections above, and there seems to be an absence of ambassadorship in that course. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:36, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

I immediately responded as soon as SandyGeorgia left a message on my talk page. It is true that I haven't followed the course page as closely - but I respond quickly when I get a notification on my talk page. I have alerted the student to the complaint and asked that they address it. Debaser42 (talk) 14:51, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

Education program research planning[edit]

Anyone interested in the question of what the costs and benefits are of the education program may wish to look at Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Research and the associated talk page. I've posted an abbreviated version of my comments above at the talk page there. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:36, 6 May 2012 (UTC)

Suggested approach to metrics for student-edited articles[edit]

A key discussion taking place here is "Are the benefits of the Education Program outweighed by the problems it has caused?" Several editors have pointed out cases where the students have caused additional work for existing experienced editors, taking those editors away from the work they might otherwise have been doing. The Education Program also has its success stories -- articles that have been significantly improved by student contributions. We need to be able to measure both the quality of the students' work, and the burden they place on the community, if we want to understand whether the Education Program is a net benefit to Wikipedia. In addition, if it is a benefit to the encyclopedia, we'd like to understand what classes work well, and why, so that we can work to increase the quality of student work from each class, and decrease the burden placed on existing editors.

LiAnna Davis of the WMF asked Doc James and I to meet with her to come up with ideas about how to improve the metrics for the Education Program. Here are some suggestions as a result of that meeting. We'd like to get feedback: are these the right things to measure? And will this approach give us useful numbers?

First, article quality. Did a student's edits improve article quality or not? We suggest re-using the metric from the Public Policy Initiative. Two or three articles will be selected at random from each class in the EP, and an assessment page created. Volunteer editors will measure the article quality before and after. Doc and I have both volunteered to do this, but others would be welcome to help; it's not as timeconsuming as you would expect. The rubric for scoring is here, and an example assessment page is here.

The articles would be assessed at two different points: first, the "Pre" state, just prior to the student's first edit; second, the "Post" state, as it was after the student's last edit. This will give an initial estimate of how much value was added by the student.

The second metric is community burden. We propose to post a note on the article talk page, at the end of the semester, saying: "This article was edited by students as part of the Education Program. If you were involved in editing the article during the time the students were working on the article, we would like your evaluation of the students' involvement with the article." There would be a link to an assessment page where editors could record their opinion of the burden placed on them by the students' work on this article. We're thinking of a scale something like this (and the wording is very much a draft):

  • 0 - Spent many hours reverting or cleaning up student work or posting on the students talk pages.
  • 1 - Spent an hour or two reverting or cleaning up student work or posting on the students talk pages.
  • 2 - Spent less than an hour reverting or cleaning up student work or posting on the students talk pages.
  • 3 - Made minor corrections or cleanup.
  • 4 - No significant cleanup or corrections needed.

We could also post an invitation to this assessment on the talk pages of any editors who edited the article or article talk page after the student began editing. Note that the quality metric and burden metric would both be assessed on the same articles: that is, if an article is randomly selected to have a quality assessment it would also get a burden assessment.

We also discussed the relationship between a professor's understanding of Wikipedia and the likelihood that their class would be successful. We felt that it was likely that professors who are good content editors would be well positioned to design successful classes, but if we want to proselytize this point of view we need to gather data to prove that it's the case. The simplest relevant metric seems to be the article space edit count for the professor. We propose to track this number as well, and look for a correlation between this and student success.

Overall, a student's involvement with the Education Program would be regarded as a success if it gains significantly on the quality metric and does not bring with it a measurable burden on the community.

We'd like to get feedback on this approach. Should we go ahead and assemble draft assessment pages? Are there better ways to measure what needs to be measured? Are we measuring the right things? Please comment. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:57, 1 May 2012 (UTC)

The proposed metric suffers from a joint-hypothesis problem leading to community burden being underestimated. Suppose you encounter an article that has not been edited significantly by the community after student participation. Is this because the article needs "no significant" or "minor cleanup or corrections", or are there more serious issues that have not been noticed/cleaned up yet? If the latter, how will you estimate the future burden that will result from cleanup? MER-C 04:14, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
@Mike Christie, When consulted educational technologists and other people with educational backgrounds who have extensive Wikipedia experience, what did they say about your metrics? What are the educational credentials and Wikipedia experiences of those involved in designing these metrics? What sort of educational research are you conducting for this? If it is action research, how much experience does your team have with this? I'm not hearing about any of this and it makes me really doubt WMF is taking this seriously because they are NOT going to experts to do the research, they aren't following best educational practices, etc. So before this goes further, what are your educational research credentials and the credentials of others involved with this educational research? --LauraHale (talk) 04:37, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
@Mike Christie, Realistically speaking though. I think the question is flawed. "Are the benefits of the Education Program outweighed by the problems it has caused?" should be replaced with "Are the measurable instructional objectives as they pertain the course curriculum being met and how do these course objectives align with English Wikipedia community standards?" --LauraHale (talk) 04:37, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
I would not really call this "research". We mainly want to determine if these efforts are making Wikipedia better or not. We as encyclopedia writers are in the best position to figure out how to determine this. Our primary goal is to write an encyclopedia and whether or not the educational objectives of the profs are being met is up to them not use.
Our secondary goal is to try to figure out what factors determine which classes contribute constructively. This will than allow us to select classes based on these criteria. With respect to experience Mike provided links to the PPI and a previous analysis which I was involved in is here [23]
I agree with Mer-C that measuring the burden placed on the community is difficult. Any other ideas of how to do this? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 07:03, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
Measuring burden on the community is going to be effectively impossible. I spent 2 hours helping a student on IRC today and I can think of no way that that is going to be seen by any on-wiki measure. The IRC channels are no-public-logging (sometimes crossing to 1:1 chat), so collecting stats directly from there is going to be equally challenging. Stuartyeates (talk) 07:41, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
A metric I'd be interested in would be how many editors and still editing X months after the course finished and how many are editing pages outside the WikiProject(s) the course was associated with. If we get student to tag their userpages, should that be measurable? Stuartyeates (talk) 07:41, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
Although I think studying the amount of expert editor investment in student articles could be useful, I'm not sure what useful conclusions could be drawn from it. We don't have a baseline - like the amount of effort expert editors invest in cleaning up a "typical" newbie article - nor do we have information about the volume of student contributions as compared to overall volume of newbie contributions. Is there something different about the way other newbies interact with the community, like stretching edits out over time more? We also have no real way of evaluating what damage would result if the cleanup done to student articles were not done. Would they be deleted? Would they proliferate inaccuracies? Or would they just look a little messy? It seems to depend on the individual case. In short I think we need a lot more data for a clear picture. Dcoetzee 07:48, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
Asking academics about methodology is never wise, unless you are particularly patient. It is a bit like asking a PhD student to explain their thesis. :) Nevertheless, you've done it now, so:
  • When designing evaluation instruments, my first question is always how to define sucess criteria. I think Laura pointed to that above. In this case, I think you can define success in a number of ways, including: article improvement; engagement and retention of new editors; educational outcomes; and management of classes on WP (as opposed to the classes that used to regularly appear on ANI prior to the program). You seem to be testing for the first, which is fine if that's the success criteria you are employing. Unfortunately, I'm not sure what the criteria is, so I'm not sure if that is the best one to test for.
  • The second thing which I always look for is a baseline (I see Dcoetzee got in first on this one). In this case, I'm not sure what the baseline is. What would constitute a good ratio of edits to community burden? And to what do we compare it to? For example, are we looking at this in relation to normal new editors, (presumably we drop IPs from the equation) or established editors? In which case we need an idea of what a typical editor would get on the scale.
  • I guess the other question I'd ask is based on consistency/repeatability of the criteria. The criteria you have listed presume an equal knowledge of the topics by the evaluators across the topic areas, and equal standards being applied (helped in part by the marking scheme). I'm not sure of the extent to which this may be a problem, but it may be an issue.
I'm currently doing research where I need to evaluate article quality on WP in a couple of projects. In one I get the standardisation by having a fairly tightly defined methodology, but I'm only evaluating one of the criteria you would be looking at. In the other, which is a more expansive evaluation, I'll be using a small number of existing methodologies from the literature, as that way I get a partial baseline from their research. (I'm also looking at a six month period to help cover situations where the articles get little editor traffic). You might want to consider grabbing something from existing literature. For example, you could use the editor reputation/authority models. They tend to need a decent sample size for the edits, but if you treat a class as a single editor for purposes of evaluation you might get meaningful sample sizes which could be compared against other groups, with a sample over multiple articles to balance out the lack of activity on some. (I like this idea - maybe I'll do it).
I love Laura's suggestion of Action Research, as it is a methodology which I have a great deal of fondness. But I guess once the program is handed off to the community it won't be viable. :( - Bilby (talk) 08:08, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Since there has been a history of editors involved in particular activities (DYK, etc) getting up in arms, maybe a period survey of a randomly selected sample of participants in those processes would be effective. Questions like "As an DYK reviewed do you feel that editors apparently bought to wikipedia though the Education Programs currently place an unsustainable burden on DYK", "The burden on DYK of editors apparently bought to wikipedia though the Education Programs is worse than it was six months ago", "Editors apparently bought to wikipedia though the Education Programs are will to become quality editors" each scored on a Likert scale. Similar measures could be used for GA, AFC, etc, etc. Stuartyeates (talk) 08:27, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

I'm going to write a combined response to the above, to save time and wordage. Laura, I have no credentials in education -- perhaps I should have made that clear to start with. I can tell you what my background is if you like, but rather than rely on credentials I'd prefer to argue, as you are doing, on the basis of the pros and cons of the suggested approaches. I agree with many of your points but my feeling is that, as with so much else on Wikipedia, we have to tailor the specifications to the labour force available, and although I think the metric program that you outline further down this page would provide very useful data I don't think it's feasible. The question is whether there is any overlap between what is feasible and what is worth doing. You seem to be saying that there is no overlap; I disagree -- I think it's possible to define a simpler set of data that is collectible and useful.

I should also have mentioned in my post that the WMF is plannning to gather some of the data you mention regarding the classes -- I would call this data about the inputs to the program: class sizes, class year, prior experience of professor, support available from OAs and CAs, and so on. If we can find a way to usefully measure the impact, or output, then there may be some interesting correlations there. LiAnna might be able to add some detail; I don't know any more about it than this but I was glad to hear that this data is being gathered.

To respond to some specific points:

  • MER-C, you're right that future burden is not estimated from this. Since we also measure quality change I think there's some interaction between the two measurements: if there's an improvement of quality and no burden it's implied that the quality improvement is due to the student. However, reduced quality and no burden implies future burden to correct the problem. I don't have a good suggestion to measure this; I think we just have to understand that this is a limitation in what we can measure. Or perhaps we look at all articles for which the quality score dropped, and ask someone to clean them up, and then have them respond to the burden question?
  • Laura, with respect to the PPI metrics that we propose to reuse, this was designed by a WMF consultant, Amy Roth, with a background in data analysis. I have not done any independent analysis of those metrics but found them reliable and consistent when I used them.
  • Bilby, I asked LiAnna what the WMF regarded as the key success criterion, and she said it was article improvement. That's why James, LiAnna and I suggested the metrics above. Editor retention would be great, but LiAnna said it was a secondary goal, and personally I think that's right -- we would rather have a great encyclopedia with poor editor retention than vice versa (though like most people I suspect that doing well on one of those two metrics implies doing well on the other).
  • Bilby/Dcoetzee -- the baseline question is a good one, but do you think it's not worth gathering this data if we can't figure out the baseline? Some data results would imply action regardless of baseline, I would think -- if student edits typically lead to lowered quality and high burden then they are unequivocally bad, after all. And if they lead to raised quality with low burden, on average, then they are probably worth having regardless of how they compare to other newbie edits. Do you think this problem renders the data useless? Can you think of a way of getting baseline data?
  • Bilby -- repeatability did not seem to be a problem with the PPI metrics. In fact, though I don't recall the details, I recall Amy saying that the Wikipedia editor assessments had a much higher correlation with each other than did the assessments made by the subject matter experts. I would add that I was an assessor and I knew little about public policy, so the repeatability wasn't due to a familiarity with the subject matter.
  • Stuart -- I think questions such as "The burden on DYK of editors apparently brought to wikipedia though the Education Programs is worse than it was six months ago" aren't ideal because they are more subjective than picking random articles and determining if they had problems. However, it's true that if an article was submitted to DYK and this caused some burden, our suggested approach might not identify that (though it might, if e.g. a regular article editor got involved with cleaning up the DYK nom). I don't see a good way to solve this.

To summarize: James, LiAnna and I met to talk about metrics because we wanted to quantify the complaints we are seeing on this board. Nobody wants the education program to continue if it's harmful to Wikipedia, but we need to have some kind of metric. Laura's proposal is, I think, far more work than the community can undertake. If the proposal I outlined above is not possible, can someone suggest a better approach that doesn't require drastically more labour? Or is it simply useless to try to support the arguments made on this page (on either side of the case) with data? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 02:17, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

Mike, this discussion is really long, I've fallen behind, so I apologize if this has already been covered, but this part misses it:

The articles would be assessed at two different points: first, the "Pre" state, just prior to the student's first edit; second, the "Post" state, as it was after the student's last edit. This will give an initial estimate of how much value was added by the student.

Emphasis on by the student, mine, that is wrong. Sample. Article is on my watchlist, students edit it and add faulty text, it takes me ten edits plus a lot of research to clean up, lather rinse and repeat ten times over the term, by the time the course ends, they've added faulty text a dozen times, I've got hundreds of edits into cleanup (because I edit in small pieces, hoping they are following and reading each edit and learning, but they aren't)-- the article is decent because I spent boatloads of time cleaning up an article that no one cared was a stub because no one read it anyway (per page views). You cannot say that article was improved by students by looking at their first and last edits-- I did because I had to repair their damage. Example, of which I've got dozens-- klazomania. Who the heck cares about klazomania? Negligible page views, obscure topic about which nothing is written. At a time I coulda been writing real articles, I had to clean that up. If you're going to evaluate the first and last student edit as if they added value-- they didn't. What they added was work for me to an article of zero consequence. Similar across every student-edited article I've encountered-- the article improvement between first and last student edit is because I had to invest time to keep the articles clean, which would be fine if they were typically articles worthy of the time invested in them (in terms of importance and page views)-- instead, they are obscure topics like klazomania, which sound sexy and fun (oh, compulsive shouting, cool, let's edit that!) Klazomania was last term-- same thing this term with echopraxia where the students are just determined to write about schizophrenia in the echopraxia article, Autism spectrum disorders in the media (which was unnecessarily spun off from another article and has taken tons of edits to keep clean and has added nothing new of substance, in fact, has copied text from other articles), Bipolar disorder not otherwise specified‎ (would my time not be better spent cleaning up bipolar rather than one obscure offshoot that no one reads?), separation anxiety disorder, and then the infamous Internet relationship where the student repeatedly plagiarized but the professor couldn't be bothered to follow student contribs where the copyvio removed is clear in edit summaries (is it my job to do the prof's grading???)-- when these articles are evaluated as some sort of improvement between first and last student edit, how are all of my interim edits to clean up and remove copyvio accounted for? That rubric doesn't work-- unless I was supposed to let medical articles languish until the term ends and do cleanup then-- in between the first and last student edit are experienced editors being burdened to clean up, and we would have been better with a stub in most of these cases, leaving experienced editors to work on articles of substance rather than being drug into obscure topics ... sorry if others have already pointed this out, I'm just home and didn't have time to read the whole thing. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:45, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
We were hoping that combining measuring quality with measuring burden would address this. Klazomania would score as a slightly improved article, with high burden -- clearly undesirable. You're right that just measuring quality doesn't work; but it seems to me that we have to measure quality, and anything more precise is unsustainably labour intensive. Measuring burden too seems the best way out to me -- can you think of a better way to measure it than the one suggested above? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 02:46, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
I think the best methodology here is #Suggested_approach_to_metrics_for_student-edited_articles. Unless you do a good study using a mixed methodology approach of quantitative with qualitative work where the different types of classroom groups are assessed independently, you're not going to get meaningful results and you're not going to measure the disruption. (If you look at my edits, compare my editing periods when I was doing student work with when I wasn't. What was my edit count total? How did this impact my editing? How did this impact Sandy's editing? How did this impact the Doctor's editing? I can tell you this process has been a disruption because I am not doing DYK reviews. I didn't work on an actual GA review. I didn't edit sport articles at the same rate. Why did my habits change? Why did Sandy's habits change? How did Doc James habits change? What was the difference between ambassador led classes, non-ambassador led classes, and declared classes versus non-declared?) For educational research, what you're proposing is kind of :( :( :(. Spend the time. Do the research right and get some findings that can be actionable. --LauraHale (talk) 03:39, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
Laura, your link points to my proposed metrics, which I think must be a mistake -- did you mean to link to your suggestions a couple of sections down the page?
If we had the labour available I'd be glad to support metrics such as those you suggest, but we don't. My problem is not with your methodology; I think we don't have the manpower. Do you disagree -- that is, do you think your approach is at all possible? The WMF doesn't have infinite labour resources for this, and nor does the community. I would estimate the effort for the approach I suggested at about one to five minutes per article for the quality metric, and one to five minutes per assessor for the burden metric. Your approach seems to me to require at least one order of magnitude more effort; perhaps substantially more than that. I am quite certain the community would not put in the required effort.
I think you're saying that the approach I outlined above is so poor that it would not give usable results, and we should not take that approach even if we have no resources to do anything better. Is that right? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:49, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
Mike, don't look at the article between first and last student edit-- look at the students' sandboxes or look at their actual edits so you don't mix the article content with what was added/fixed by experienced editors. Then see what survived. In many cases, I had to remove their entire sandbox (take the example of echopraxia, where they were actually writing about schizophrenia in the wrong article, and schizophrenia is already a comprehensive FA). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:14, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
To respond to the above, the necessity of the baseline depends on what role the data is to be used for. If the intent is simply to identify areas which have a higher community burden than others in order to look for means of improvement within the program, then it isn't really needed. But I think it would be needed if you were to make any assessment regarding the value or effectivness of the program as a whole. Without a baseline, I don't think we can judge what would be a high, normal, or low level of community burden, as we wouldn't have a point of reference. So we couldn't say that the program produces more or less quality content for the community effort than would be encountered with comparable editors. Generally I'd be happty with that limitation if the aim is to improve the program, but if the data is to be used to evaluate it then it won't be sufficient.
In relation to one of the other points, the use of non-experts to evaluate article quality is interesting. I can see why the results would be fairly consistent, on the grounds that everyone will be consistently ignorant. (And I mean that in a good way, as consistency is the primary aim). I guess I'd be curious how that would scale to a larger sample, where some of the people evaluating may be more knowledgeable than others in certain topics. Certainly a more knowledgeable person would be more likely to identify "completeness" as an issue than a less knowledgeable one, or might be more able to evaluate quality of sources. But this may not be a major issue in practice.
As an aside, I hope you don't see this as not supporting the process. I'd like to see it conducted, even with limitations, as a means of improving the program. But I'm concerned that there is a wish to see it as a means of evaluation, and there it might lead to people misusing the findings. For evaluation you need a high level of consitency (which you may have, but I'm still a tad concerned) and a means of providing a point of comparison. I am toying with the idea of doing something, but that wouldn't be much use to you - the ethics committee alone might take a couple of months to pass through, and that's without the time needed to develop the methodology or collect the data. :) - Bilby (talk) 11:35, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
How about drawing up a table of specific quality problems (e.g. close paraphrasing), accompanied by demerit points for quality, determined by the relative severity of a problem, and an estimate, obtained by surveying established editors, of how long it takes to clean up that issue and raise it with the students per 10000 bytes of problematic content? Net, raw student added content (without intervening community edits) is assessed against this table, instead of the diff from before and after the program. The metric can also be evaluated continually throughout the program. If students fix existing problems (prior to the program) competently, we should subtract demerit points and community burden appropriately. MER-C 12:31, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
Again this seems too labour-intensive to me. The quality assessment used for the PPI was not trivial to do, but since we did it once I think it's clear it can be done. That was much less comprehensive than what you're talking about. I also think the information you're asking for isn't needed if we're just trying to establish whether the EP is a net benefit or detriment to the encyclopedia -- the data you describe would be interesting, but does it matter what the specific kind of burden was? If it took half an hour to clean up the article, that's enough to help us figure out if the student's work was worth it or not.
Here's another rubric: huge numbers of Wikipedia's most experienced editors diverted their own article work to helping one project launch this whole business of student editing. Because of the unusual resources brought to bear, GAs and FAs resulted. Will someone please tell us how many of these students are still editing or maintaining those articles? (I clicked on the first five and found one edit by one student after term-end.) Because those experienced editors could have written any number of FAs that term== they chose to help these students instead, and that led to the launch of a program that is not scaleable. Did any of those students, who benefited from the time and experience of large numbers of established editors, stay around? If not, the opportunity cost of this program, in terms of the drain on productive editors, is too high. Experienced editors could be writing content, not doing professors' jobs of teaching their students, if the students aren't going to stay around. If we're teaching them little, not retaining them, and gaining articles only because experienced editors are diverted from other article writing to work on those articles-- taking extra time to train inexperienced editors-- what have we gained? How can we evaluate the value of student editing without subtracting the substantial time that all of you/us could be spending in more effective article writing? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:26, 3 May 2012 (UTC)
Responding to earlier point by Mike: "if student edits typically lead to lowered quality and high burden then they are unequivocally bad, after all" - I disagree fundamentally with this point, as I see student editing as not only a recruitment mechanism for new editors but as a way of increasing cultural awareness of Wikipedia and how it works in society at large. This will lead to voters selecting candidates who make good decisions for Wikipedia and digital freedom. In short, I would like to get as many people as possible contributing to Wikipedia, even if it is somewhat burdensome on us. Dcoetzee 08:49, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

What we'll compare this to[edit]

Hi all, thanks for these comments. I completely agree with much of the sentiment above, that establishing a baseline for how much new editors in general impact experienced editors is important for comparing to student editors. I'm open to any ideas of how to measure how much our students are impacting resources more than any other new editors.

With respect to the quality stats Mike Christie mentioned above, we want to establish a general quality impact for each class so we can figure out what patterns emerge from those classes we see as successful (again, our primary definition of success is improving the quality of Wikipedia articles, not adding new editors). We're kicking off a research project to collect data we think may or may not have some impact on what makes classes successful. We have a list of questions available at Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Research, and I encourage anyone interested in research to take a look at the questions. We're trying to identify common markers across successful courses, so that we can be more selective about which courses to work with in the future, targeting courses that have markers that we have seen have led to success in the past. Please take a look at the questions and add anything you think we've missed that might contribute to the success or failure of a class. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 23:14, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

Class of PT students[edit]

We have a class of masters students adding content pertaining to physiotherapy. There additions are however supported by primary research and are often of to great of depth for a general overview article. Articles they have been working on include stroke and Parkinson disease. I do not know who the prof in question is. I have created them a subpage here so that they can than write in greater detail Rehabilitation in Parkinson's disease. Assistance would be appreciated.--Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 00:23, 6 May 2012 (UTC)

Other articles include Spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, and Muscular dystrophy. They are from Queens University. Do we know whose class this is? What articles they are editing? The addition here [24] capitalizes physiotherapist, uses a primary research study of 12 people [25] and a second one of 9 [26].--Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 20:41, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
Issues include 1) sourcing 2) formatting 3) undue weight and repeating what is already in the article (MS would be a good example of this, even though they used reviews they simply repeated what this featured article already said and in to much depth for an overview).--Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 20:43, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
Another article Focal dystonia and a primary research paper of 20 [27] The end of term is coming and they are posting me notes asking me to leave their material until marking can occur. We need supervised editing projects where a class of students deal with one article and one article only. Not where students descend upon Wikipedia to add there favorite bit of primary research or rat study to every article they can pull up. --Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 20:55, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
Queens University was one I had reached out to about a year ago in my capacity as regional ambassador, but never heard back from, so they've been off our radar entirely and not affiliated with the Canada Education Program. We also had some outreach in Ontario last year encouraging professors to have medical students contribute to Wikipedia, so this may be a byproduct of that; I'll check with the person who did that outreach to see if he knows of any professors who might be teaching a master's course with Wikipedia at Queens. Rob SchnautZ (WMF) (talkcontribs) 21:40, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
That person who was doing medical outreach at McMaster last year was me :-) Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:06, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Ah, I was thinking User:Jaobar had done that outreach. Anyway, he says he knows nothing of this activity either. Rob SchnautZ (WMF) (talkcontribs) 19:54, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
Yes it was Jonathon and myself who presented and one of my old classmates who organized the event. The students have stated they will bring my concerns to their profs attention. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 20:11, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Botany class and privacy[edit]

Earlier in this noticeboard (#New_botany_class.3F) User:Choess noted that he had identified a large number of students contributing as part of an unaffiliated course, and had created an ad hoc course page at User:Choess/BIO341 to help track them. I took the liberty of adding notices to student user pages to indicate that they were contributing as part of this class. However, I've received e-mail from the instructor indicating "[s]ome asked me not to identify them in this public context as a Stony Brook student". My response was essentially that this information is not personally identifying and is relevant to their contributions and our interactions with them, and that students who used their real name as a username could request a rename, but because this is a serious concern I want to establish that there is consensus around this. Although the amount of information supplied could potentially be reduced, I can't really imagine a way of providing contact information for the instructor that does not expose the identity of the class indirectly (because the instructor does not yet have an account). Thoughts? Dcoetzee 21:48, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

Yes we need to be able to identify groups of editors as coming from a single school to make coordination possile. I do not think it would be a good idea to tie our hands.--Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 23:07, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Agree that it's very helpful to us to have a way to track members of a class and that this isn't private information once they've registered and started making class related edits. I don't think that associating someone's username with a class is very threatening to their privacy, because the association reveals only where the user lives and studies, and it doesn't reveal legal names or anything that could be used to contact them off-wiki. We don't need the legal names or any other contact information to be posted in public and the students generally have a right to keep that information off-wiki if they wish. If someone wants to do so they could create a SPA that's only for class work so any other account that they have on Wikipedia wouldn't be associated with the class, although we'd need to be careful that someone doesn't get involved in sockpuppet-like behavior like doing a quality review of their own article. Pine(talk) 23:19, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
I suppose I need to ask, would it be ok to add a tag to an editor's userpage identifying their place of work in order to track their edits? I'd have to say that if someone doesn't want their school identified, then we need to respect that. It does make things easier, but it seems to be posting private information about someone against their wishes, which leads to problems. And in regard to Pine's comments, "only reveals where a student lives and studies" does seem to be a problem. - Bilby (talk) 23:37, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
I've removed the tags, as it seems the outing policy doesn't leave much wriggle room. In this case, it seems that posting the school and course someone is studying at is the equivalent of posting their place of work, and is of little value here - identifying where they study on a userpage isn't particularly helpful anyway. Given that some students have opposed the information being added, I figure we should err on the side of caution. - Bilby (talk) 00:22, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
I disagree pretty strongly - I think that because they're writing articles as a class assignment, in a manner dictated by the structure of the course, removing this information makes it impossible for editors who stumble upon their work to identify and address systematic issues affecting all students of the class (such as the copy-paste problems in this course) or contact the instructor. This is similar to how WP:COI strongly recommends that people who are editing on behalf of a company or for pay declare this on their user page. If a student is merely editing outside of class then there's no use for such identification and I wouldn't support adding it. As Pine noted, there's no reason students can't create accounts with pseudonyms solely for editing for a particular course, while making other edits under another account, if they wish. Dcoetzee 03:19, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Dcoetzee. And there is absolutely a problem if someone who doesn't identify themselves with a class then goes around doing quality reviews of their fellow students, which would amount to both academic dishonesty and COI editing. Pine(talk) 03:50, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
I guess we're going to be opposed here, then. :) I wouldn't tag the userpage of someone with a COI with the name of their employer, and if they opposed such tagging I'm pretty sure we'd have real problems with privacy concerns if we insisted on tagging them. We ask people to self-identify COIs, but we don't (and can't) force them to do so. In this case, some students have objected to being tagged with their school, they were unaware that this might occur when they created their accounts, and a number of those accounts are in their real names - so it is too late for them to create pseudonyms. But even if they did, I still think we'd be running afoul of outing. - Bilby (talk) 03:58, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
It seems to me that the simple solution of all of this is to have the students make SPAs if they are so concerned about privacy that associating their username with a class bothers them. Remember that associating a person with a username is much, much harder than associating a username with a class, so I don't think that students have much to worry about even if they use non-SPA principal accounts unless their usernames or something else about their principal accounts reveals personal information. I urge students to consider SPAs and opaque usernames if privacy is highly important and if their primary accounts reveal personally identifiable information. Pine(talk) 04:19, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
On the general point of privacy and the educational project: in one of the courses I was helping out last term, the students built decent (IMO) articles in sandboxes. However, several of them were editing under permutations of their real names, and didn't want their articles in mainspace under those names. I pointed them towards the username change processes, but most of them appear to have abandoned their drafts rather than bother changing their names. The prof suggested I just copy them to mainspace, but I'm not sure I can do that without either a) using their current usernames or b) losing the proper attribution. Anybody have any suggestions? I'd hate to just delete the things as stale userspace drafts, but it doesn't look like any of the students concerned are coming back. Nikkimaria (talk) 02:41, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
This is a very bad state of affairs. That some oppose associating factitious user names to the classes they come from makes managing the education program impossible. What are we left to do? Block entire classes as collaborating editors? If classes wish an exception to this policy the least they can do is allow us to tag their user pages with the class they are associated with.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 04:42, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
It sounds like we should encourage professors to discuss privacy issues with students and account creators early, before students register accounts or have someone create accounts for them, so that we don't have more of the same types of problems that we're discussing here with student privacy and student tracking. Unfortunately I don't think think that we have an effective way to do this at the moment because of the "no one in charge" problem that has been discussed elsewhere. Pine(talk) 06:54, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
Well this is a case of an unaffiliated course, which we can't prevent even if we wanted to - but we should definitely reach out to instructors of courses like this and let them know that they should address privacy concerns early in future classes. Dcoetzee 08:05, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Maintaining a list such as User:Choess/BIO341 seems appropriate to me. So does reaching out to the group and identifying a point of contact who will be responsive to wiki talk page comments (or emails). – SJ + 07:33, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

I agree strongly with maintaining a list such as User:Choess/BIO341. Without knowing that some cactus articles were being created by students for an assignment, I would have reverted wholesale and then asked for a block if the editor(s) persisted, since they were creating articles without understanding synonyms (at least one still contains information based on two different species). We need to know that a class is editing, and what user names they are editing under so that we can avoid being too heavy handed. We don't want to put them off continuing to work on Wikipedia. Ideally we need to know when the assignment finishes, so we can then go back and fix things up. If we don't have such lists, then students' work will suffer constant interference. Peter coxhead (talk) 08:41, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

FYI, in future terms, all U.S. and Canada Wikipedia Education Program students will have their usernames associated with a course through the new MediaWiki extension. All students (as all other new users) create accounts through the normal process, which contains the link on the pros/cons of using real names. I don't think it's anyone's responsibility but theirs if they don't read the information on privacy on the account creation page. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 18:28, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Proposal for WAP template delete/merge[edit]

Discuss here. Pine(talk) 07:09, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Replacing the course pages[edit]

We're replacing the course page system currently in use for the U.S. and Canada Education programs. Please see WT:Ambassadors#Replacing the course pages and place followup comments there. Rob SchnautZ (WMF) (talkcontribs) 18:10, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

New quality assessments for the education program[edit]

As a response to some of the discussions here (and elsewhere) about quality metrics for the work done by the students in the Education Program, the WMF has created a set of assessments to evaluate the impact of the courses on the articles they have modified. Here is an example of a completed assessment page from a year ago. If you would like to contribute assessments, please take a look at Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Research/Article quality and do as many assessments as you have time for. Please also let anyone else know who you think might be interested in assessing articles.

These assessments are an important part of the program. Regardless of whether you think the education program is having a good or bad effect on the encyclopedia, measuring the impact of the students' work on Wikipedia articles is the best way to determine the value of the program. There are too many courses and too many students for the community to be able to rely on examples to decide the future of the program. We need data to make decisions, and these assessments are part of the process of gathering that data. Please consider helping by assessing a few articles. If you have any questions, please post them here. Thanks -- Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:38, 13 May 2012 (UTC)

KIN 412 and required peer reviews?[edit]

There appears to be a class assignment that requires peer reviews[28] but it appears that comments are going ignored.[29] The two links go to related articles, I think they are from the same class. Does anyone have details to see if there is a class that is requiring peer reviews and what class/professor/ambassador is providing instruction/requirements? If requiring peer reviews without requiring editors address them is occurring, I think it should stop. Biosthmors (talk) 02:08, 17 May 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for the notice. I posted to those two students' page a request (User_talk:Koachinyung and User_talk:Jwr0ng) to contact their professor. They name their schools but I see no courses listed for those schools, and it is not obvious from a quick Internet search who is teaching the class. My plan is to contact the professor, verify that they have a course page for their project listed at Wikipedia:United_States_Education_Program/Courses/Present, then send them to the WP:TEAHOUSE for their reviews or other assistance. Blue Rasberry (talk) 16:01, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, Lane. I'm not sure whether the Teahouse wants to spend time reviewing artices; you might consider Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Research/Article quality instead. Rob SchnautZ (WMF) (talkcontribs) 17:17, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
User:jtmorgan and User:SarahStierch both told me that any professor participating in a Wikipedia class project is welcome to send all the students to them. I was definitely not clear in what I wrote above - the kind of review that these students need are not article reviews, but instead perfunctory reviews for the additions of new users. Any Teahouse host would immediately be able to look at their work and tell them what they are doing wrong technically and where they should look for help guidelines; I absolutely did not mean to suggest that the Teahouse hosts would review content for any longer than at most a 30 second glance at the pages. The students need templating or some variation thereof, not comprehensive review. Blue Rasberry (talk) 18:03, 17 May 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for clarifying, that makes much more sense! Face-grin.svg As an additional resource, there's the adoption service, which I'm sure would be delighted to help. Rob SchnautZ (WMF) (talkcontribs) 18:58, 17 May 2012 (UTC)

Hanwen-Pearl Delta International School[edit]

Please accept this page of the school — Preceding unsigned comment added by Chitra sivakumar (talkcontribs)

Apparently, you didn't sign your post, Chitra Sivakumar. The fact that you made two headings in one post shows me that you have made a mistake which ended up in an awkward effect. OK. The subject of your article is not notable enough. So I would make sure this article wouldn't exist unless the school gets notable enough. Hill Crest's WikiLaser (Boom). (talk) 22:11, 20 May 2012 (UTC)
I fixed the formatting, to avoid confusing the archiver. The article in question was created twice, once at The Hanwen School – Pearl Delta International School (in process), Guangzhou, PRC (deleted as non-notable), and once at Hanwen – Pearl Delta International School (deleted as copyvio). The original article was probably also a copyvio. To explain in more detail for the original poster: you copy pasted the content of this article from another website, and this is not permitted for legal reasons. It is essential to write articles in your own words. See Wikipedia:Copy paste. Dcoetzee 02:54, 4 June 2012 (UTC)

A professor who has asked for help[edit]

A professor who is not involved with the Education Program just emailed the gender gap listserv to request help for her students who will be posting articles this week. I'm copying her message here:

Will those of you who volunteer in this area help shepherd them into the fold? I'm not expecting my students to be treated with kid gloves, but we've watched a few edit wars, and they're nervous. As with any group of students, some are stronger writers than others, and some of these pieces will need more help than others. Here's the list of articles that will soon be added/updated:
  • American women's firsts
  • Feminism in Thailand
  • Feminism & BDSM
  • Metaformic theory
  • Women's shelters
  • Genderfuck
  • Feminist pedagogy
Thank you for the work that you, and for any help you can provide to my students.

If anybody is interested in helping these students, please keep an eye out for those new articles/updated articles. Sorry I don't have usernames! Thanks for any help you can give, and I'll also direct them to Teahouse for technical questions. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 17:05, 4 June 2012 (UTC)

What's a genderfuck? Yaplunpe (talk) 08:19, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
Try wikipedia and find out: genderfuck. ;-) L.tak (talk) 08:26, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

GA review[edit]

(repost) Sorry I couldn't post on a more specific talk page, only the talk-page banner for the article in question, text annotation (review), didn't give any details. Anyway, there were some fairly big concerns with the article (but nothing particularly unusual). The nominator hasn't yet replied or edited and I wondered whether anyone in the Education project had any ideas or wanted to do anything about that. I've placed the article formally on hold today. Grandiose (me, talk, contribs) 17:52, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for the note, Grandiose; that came from one of our spring classes. Putting it on hold sounds like a good idea in the event the editors return. Rob SchnautZ (WMF) (talkcontribs) 18:49, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

Farewell![edit]

Just linking to the topic from here since this is a fairly central place: WT:Ambassadors#Farewell! Rob SchnautZ (WMF) (talkcontribs) 02:52, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

Education Program extension Request for Comment[edit]

I've just opened up a request for comment on whether to enable the Education Program extension for managing and monitoring courses, both within the Wikipedia Education Program, and potentially for other classes working independently as well. If it does get enabled, there are related technical (user rights) and policy (who should be able to use it, and how will user rights be assigned?) issues that will need to be sorted out. It looks like this wasn't ready soon enough to use this coming term for most classes, but if the community wants the extension, it should be ready to go for the next term.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:39, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

RfC closed; next step, enabling the extension[edit]

The RfC has closed, and based on the result, we should be turning on the Education Program extension soon (with user rights to be controlled by admins, and the extension available for use by classes in the US and Canada Education Programs as well as other classes working independently).--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:56, 24 September 2012 (UTC)

Florida State University copyright violations[edit]

User:NerdyNole has introduced some copyright violations such as [30] from [31]. How can we let the instructor know this happened? Marcus Qwertyus (talk) 02:47, 12 September 2012 (UTC)

You'd have to figure out who the instructor is...and since there's no listing at WP:SUP or WP:USEP for FSU, pretty much the only way to do that will be through NerdyNole himself. There are a lot of hits for Wikipedia on the FSU website, including several courses that somehow involve it – this one, for example, though it probably isn't the one in question (NN specifies "I.T." course, this one is English). Nikkimaria (talk) 04:06, 12 September 2012 (UTC)

Assignments to add incorrect info[edit]

I've come across an IP user purposely adding incorrect information to Wikipedia, who claimed that it was for a class project [32]. Regardless of the truth of the IPs statements, am I safe in assuming that isn't permitted and they should inform their teacher (if he/she exists)? Also, apologies if this isn't the right board to broach such topics. It was the one that seemed the most correct to me. RA0808 talkcontribs 16:16, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

Yeah, definitely not allowed, and not cool. If you can find out who the teacher is and contact him/or to ask them to stop, that'd be quite helpful. You might also want to post on the admin's noticeboard in case someone wants to try to discover other students based on similar IPs.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:26, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

RfC on Future of US Canada Education Program[edit]

An RfC has been initiated Wikipedia:Education_Working_Group/RfC by the Education Working group on the future of the US Canada Education program. --Mike Cline (talk) 13:26, 1 October 2012 (UTC)

Classroom not working within education program[edit]

I've been recommended to post about this here, so just have a look at this ANI thread to see what I'm referring to. The editors here will have a better handling of the situation and what to do in this case than I. --Jethro B 05:54, 5 October 2012 (UTC)

I see you posted on the professor's talk page; there's not much we can do unless the professor responds. I've watchlisted the talk page and will join the conversation if I see a response there. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:33, 5 October 2012 (UTC)

Courses extension is up and running[edit]

The Education Program extension for structured course pages for classes is now live. (It's actually been deployed for a few weeks, but unrelated platform updates introduced a critical bug that it took us a little while to fix.) Per the RfC on using the extension, it's now available for use by US and Canada Education Program, as well as whatever other courses the community chooses to use it for. See Special:SpecialPages#Education for the various features and lists of courses.

Admins now have the ability to create (and delete) institutions and courses, and to assign the user rights for "course coordinators" (non-admins who will be able to create and remove courses, mark people as instructors or volunteers, and use the rest of the extension features), "online volunteers" or "campus volunteers" (people helping out with courses, such as Online and Campus Ambassadors), and "course instructors".

I'll be beta testing it with one of the current classes, Education Program:University of Guelph-Humber/Currents in Twentieth Century World History (2012 Q4), as well as building up the documentation for course pages. Now's also the time to figure out how we want to use this for independent classes; it should make it easier to keep tabs on classes and catch problems early, so trying it out by offering it to a few classes that we discover editing on their own might be a good first step.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:52, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

See the extension at mw:Extension:Education Program Blue Rasberry (talk) 19:06, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

What to do?[edit]

It appears that when I found Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, a topic on my course page (User:Biosthmors/Intro Neuro), I seem to notice a funny pattern. Biosthmors (talk) 21:10, 20 November 2012 (UTC)

What is the problem here? The student wants to write about something that was previously AfD'd for lack of sourcing? The student can certainly write the article but ought to consider the previous arguments for deletion. Blue Rasberry (talk) 21:34, 20 November 2012 (UTC)
I see a lot of keep votes coming from editors with few to no other edits. Biosthmors (talk) 21:43, 20 November 2012 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response was a year ago. I think that if the article were proposed again it would get fresh review. Does that fully respond to your concern? What is your concern and what kind of assistance might you like? Blue Rasberry (talk) 21:55, 20 November 2012 (UTC)
Good point. I didn't notice that. Silly me. Well that complicates things in a good way then. I'm not sure. Biosthmors (talk) 22:02, 20 November 2012 (UTC)
Let me know if I can help with anything relating to your course. Blue Rasberry (talk) 00:08, 21 November 2012 (UTC)
Thanks! I consider this issue closed for now, as I've been in contact with the student. Biosthmors (talk) 00:20, 21 November 2012 (UTC)

Are outlines bad?[edit]

I'm under the impression that telling students to generate an outline before editing a Wikipedia article might be a bad thing (if it is used as the basis to create sections and subsections). I think it serves as an incentive to create articles with excessive amounts of subsections that create a troubling experience for readers. See here for example. Biosthmors (talk) 16:44, 23 November 2012 (UTC)

I agree; this isn't the first example I've seen, nor is it the worst. Outlines are fine in user space to guide the students' research, but they should not go into an article without substantial content being added at the same time. Experienced editors go back and forth between adding content and structuring sections. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:47, 23 November 2012 (UTC)
Well, that's not great, but it's the sort of thing that could quickly be polished out at any kind of content review process. The talk page might not be a bad place for "bare" outlines. Choess (talk) 14:52, 24 November 2012 (UTC)
Pedagogically, outlines are a useful approach for teaching students to organize their thoughts and research. In the context of involving Wikipedia in an educational class, we must take care not to impose Wikipedia norms on the pedagogy preferred by the educator to teach their students. Our job as ambassadors is to understand what the educator’s learning objectives are, how they intend to achieve them and then craft Wikipedia schemes that either support or enable them. In my experience, this usually requires some transitional activity from the educator’s teaching process to the inclusion of content in Wikipedia. I think saying Outlines are bad or discouraging them in anyway when they are something an educators uses to teach with would be counterproductive to the goals of the Education Program.--Mike Cline (talk) 15:58, 24 November 2012 (UTC)
They are certainly useful, and I wouldn't want to discourage them as a teaching aid. They shouldn't be added to articles before any content exists for them, though; that just makes a mess of the article for someone else to clean up. The students should be expected to leave the article without needing cleanup. I agree that the talk page is a good place to work on outlines. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:18, 24 November 2012 (UTC)
I would prefer if you use the term "draft" rather than "outline". I get what you're saying. But "outline" in Wikipedia has a different meaning (and usually negative impression for that matter since a few disruptive editors persistently create articles with the word "outline" and fork contents that all other editors frowned upon) OhanaUnitedTalk page 20:21, 24 November 2012 (UTC)
A more neutral description of the outlines project and its contributors, would have been nice.
Eg. Outline of cell biology was mostly created by User:Earthdirt (has a Masters degrees in Education and is a grad student in Biology and works as a highschool teacher) that it is of high-quality.
Eg. Outline of forestry was mostly made by User:Minnecologies (BS in Forestry), and was recently further improved by User:DASonnenfeld (Professor of Sociology and Environmental Policy at SUNY-ESF).
These are not "disruptive editors".
Not all outlines are in perfect shape, but then most of Wikipedia's articles are not in perfect shape. Work Is Required. And a non-dismissive attitude is helpful.
Quiddity (talk) 22:42, 24 November 2012 (UTC)

Can someone help a student editor?[edit]

See Talk:Gathering hypothesis and the article, and the article Hunting hypothesis. American Psychological Association Wikipedia initiative. Thanks. Dougweller (talk) 20:18, 28 November 2012 (UTC)

Which university are these APA projects associated with? The Interior (Talk) 20:32, 28 November 2012 (UTC)

GA reviewers needed for biology articles[edit]

It looks like a whole bunch of articles from the Behavioral Ecology class were just nominated for GA (see all the recent nominations in Biology and medicine). From what I've seen, the articles from this class are quite strong and the students are very active, so it'd be worthwhile to give them timely reviews. Anyone up for reviewing a few biology articles?--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 03:00, 28 November 2012 (UTC)

I wonder about the wisdom of these articles being submitted for GA status. We already have a shortage of reviewers, and anyone working on these means Wikipedians will have to wait longer for their reviews. Also, one of these articles is among the group I mentioned to you, Sage, that contain plagiarism, so anyone reviewing these is advised to check that the source material hasn't simply been copied word for word. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:46, 30 November 2012 (UTC)

Where is the Education program going?[edit]

I saw there was an RfC. Where is the program headed? I don't need many details, I'd just like to get a main idea. It appears the WMF wants to limit future involvement, though I'm not sure to what extent. Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 20:36, 2 December 2012 (UTC)

The working group mentioned at the RfC is putting together a proposal to the WMF to create a separate 501(c)(3) organization, which will continue supporting the education program. That group will be run by a board elected by Wikipedians and educators, along with a seat for a chapter representative and a seat appointed by the WMF. If the WMF decides to go ahead with the creation of that group it will take over responsibility for supporting the education at the end of the spring 2013 semester. I can provide more details if you're interested. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 20:41, 2 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. That helps a lot. Biosthmors (talk) 20:54, 2 December 2012 (UTC)

Guidance essays[edit]

Essays are great places to collect/develop wisdom. Maybe we can develop guidance essays on topics such as WP:Student assignments, or WP:Supporting a Professor during an assignment, or WP:How to support a classroom assignment. Maybe we can start with one central page then split as necessary. Any preferences on titles/a title? Or do essays already exist? Biosthmors (talk) 21:01, 2 December 2012 (UTC)

I don't know about essays, particularly, but I know there are resources that have been developed for students. This category lists a few of them. I'm not an expert on these since I haven't worked on-campus with the students; perhaps someone else could point to any other resources that exist. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 21:11, 2 December 2012 (UTC)
I think it'd be useful to collect up various essays, analyses, reflections and advice pages related to Wikipedia assignments, perhaps with a category. I can think of several essays and similar documents, such as this, that, and the other (to link just a few; I know there are a bunch more). A selected set of them might make sense to be highlighted as further reading in training modules I've been working on, as well. Be bold, Biosthmors!--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:59, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for those links! Biosthmors (talk) 17:03, 3 December 2012 (UTC)

education program focused admins?[edit]

How would y'all feel about the idea of education program specific admins? There is no technical mechanism to do this, so what I mean by it is pretty much someone going through RfA making a pledge to only use the toolset in situations specific to educational assignments - e.g., revdeling student copyright violations, histmerging moves mucked up by students, and issuing preventative blocks against education program editors, enforceable via revocation of the bit if significantly broken.

The reason this idea occurred to me is because I have encountered a number of situations related to the education program where being able to use an admin toolset would've been useful (and due to some on the ground stuff I'm in the process of setting up, I expect I will encounter many more in the future,) but don't think that I would currently pass an RfA as a standard candidate, and I also don't desire to use the admin toolset broadly anyway. I'm sure I'm not the only person who does a lot of education program who is in a similar situation.

I know there would be a risk of someone who made such a pledge going berserk, misusing their tools, and, say, banning a bunch of random people, but I think the standard for "we trust you not to go berserk, and trust you to clean up education program stuff" isn't as high a standard as "we trust you to appropriately use administrative tools in every area of Wikipedia." (This is a very tentative idea; I've not decided whether I like the idea myself or not yet, but wanted to see what other people thought. I'm not intending to do this myself for the foreseeable future, so this isn't intended as some sort of weird pre-RFA canvassing.) Kevin Gorman (talk) 04:23, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

There's no way of limiting how a person uses the tools, so I don't think this would fly. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:27, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
Except for viewing deleted pages, all admin tools create log entries, don't they? So if someone went through an RfA saying "Arbcom or any crat should revoke my tools if I use them in non-edu related areas without undergoing a reconfirmation RfA first" and proceeded to break their word, taking their bit away would be pretty easy. And I do think the standard for "we trust you not to go on a tool-fueled rampage" is definitely a different one from "we trust you to exercise administrative powers across Wikipedia." To use myself as an example - I have a multi-year editing history, have interned for WMF, have done paid consulting work for WMF, and could demonstrate that I have the technical expertise necessary to use the tools successfully. I think I'd be voted down in a general RfA because I think there are enough people who wouldn't trust my judgment to, say, gauge consensus on AfD's - but I think that most of those people wouldn't be terribly worried about me going on an arbitrary banning spree, and would trust my judgment to use the toolbox to clean up edu program stuff. (Although to reiterate, I am not intending on actually doing this, just floating the idea in the ether - and I'm not sure it's a terribly good idea myself, either.) Kevin Gorman (talk) 04:40, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
Taking a bit away is never easy, regardless of what the nominee claimed in the RFA. And the notion that we grant the bits for restricted reasons has been perennially shot down. No go here. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:51, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
You should quality for admin soon anyway. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 15:57, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflicted with Sandy and James on this) Two big problems with this, I think. First, RFA voters generally have always resoundingly rejected people who apply on the basis of "I have a special need for the tools in this one small area, I promise never to use them anywhere else, so could you guys overlook the fact that I'm otherwise not a passing candidate and give me the tools?" Second, there is no way for the community to hold a "special" admin to their promises, short of hoping Arbcom accepts a case and then waiting three months or so for them to cough up a remedy. Crats absolutely won't desysop on the basis of "Hey, if I violate my promise you can go ahead and take my bits", the community has no mechanism for lifting bits itself, and Arbcom's emergency-desysop procedures are for just that, emergencies, not garden-variety "admin misusing their tools" happenings, which they still expect to go through a normal, lengthy, case. This isn't to say, Kevin, that I (or Sandy, I would assume) think you'd go crazypants and start blocking everyone and deleting the main page, but the reason RFA has such a high bar is that the powers come in a lump and are extremely sticky, which means that the community generally wants admins to be able to do it all at least competently, if not well.

That all said, I do like the idea of dedicated EP "cleanup" personnel. It would take a lot of the burden off the community, which strains under the weight of EP classes' learning curves, if you had people waiting in the wings to mop up spots where the learning went wrong. I don't think this calls for specially-appointed admins, though, so much as perhaps recruiting ambassadors who are willing to monitor and clean up their classes' messes (it seems like this ought to already be part of the job description, but it doesn't seem to be), or perhaps non-ambassadors who volunteer to go through EP work in hazmat suits so the rest of the community doesn't have to. If someone does the rest of the work, it's not too hard to find an admin to actually mash buttons for something like a histmerge. It's the finding the pages involved, figuring out what goes where, figuring out how it was messed up, etc that takes the real time. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 15:57, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

It would take a lot of the burden off the community, which strains under the weight of EP classes' learning curves,... Don't you think a more accurate statement would be ... burden off the community, which strains under the weight of EP classes' all new editors' learning curves,.... Problematic student classes indeed concentrate things in a way that makes them more visible, but collectively I suspect there's just as much burden on the entire community associated with the learning curves of all new editors, its just not as visible or concentrated in one spot. Point being, I don't think there's any more or less burden associated with education related editors. New editors place a burden on the community, why because the community has norms that requires it to welcome new contributors and deal with them in positive and constructive ways. And we all know the learning curve can be high--we all experienced it in some way. --Mike Cline (talk) 16:26, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
@ Mike Cline, re "all new editors"; no. You don't seem to be digesting what many editors are saying here. A special class of new (and non-returning) editors has been created in this program. And the burden of attempting to educate someone who is only here for a grade and is unlikely to return is higher than the burden of educating a committed, engaged but struggling new editor. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:39, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict) @ Sandy, I think you are wrong in this sense. Indeed not all new editors have the same motivation, but I can say with certainty that the motivations of new editors cover a wide range of potentially burdensome problems. Many new people chose to edit to push geo-political, cultural, linguistic, economic, commercial, social, religious, etc, etc, positions all the time. Their motivations aren't to become a better editors, their motivation is to pust their agenda in WP. In the EP we have the opportunity to mentor student editors throughout educational career when we build sound ambassador programs on a campus. I even think that saying Motivated to edit to get a grade is wrong. We've been designing curriculum at MSU to use WP as a tool to achieve serious learning objectives in writing skills. The students get a good grade because met the learning objectives, not because they edited WP. In the long run we hope to tap into that motivation for a better grade and learning by using WP as a tool into higher quality content, scope and maybe new dedicated editors. If WP is indeed free and open for anyone to edit and use, we cannot exclude or apply different norms to any class of editor because of their motivation to edit. We just need to build processes and support structures (much like has been done with BLP) to ensure that whatever the motivation to contribute is, those contributions benefit the encyclopedia. --Mike Cline (talk) 17:02, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
Yes, we have those editors, and they are (relative to the students) easily handled by normal Wikipedia processes, noticeboards, blocking, etc. The average POV pusher is not in a protected class like these students are, and whatever time we spend educating the average disruptive user occasionally pays off when they turn into good users. In the case of students, they rarely return to editing, they are a protected class (by their peers reverting for them and by some participants on this board), and we get little return for the investment in helping them learn policy, since they rarely ever come back. We "cannot exlude or apply different norms to any class of editor"? We already do. We should be applying MEATPUPPETRY policies to class editing-- they edit in collaboration. We make an exception for normal polices for students, and this board generally supports it. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:09, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for the answers, y'all. I don't follow RfA closely enough to have been aware that such things had previously been suggested and rejected. Kevin Gorman (talk) 16:45, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

a flash from the past[edit]

There were a bunch of articles (or sections added to articles) started for one psych class in Spring 2012, all on the Big Five:

Many of these (and others) were nominated for DYK at the same time. I think there was agreement then that professors should not require students nominate articles for DYK or GA. (I don't have the diffs as Educational Program discussions aren't collected in one area.)

Here is a sample Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Dimensional approach to personality disorders which demonstrates how exhausting the process was. As you can see, the article was kept but continues in a disreputable state (as do all the other articles mentioned above). No one has cleaned them up. I've stayed away from the EP courses since so I'm not familiar with the current situation.

Hopefully this kind of thing no longer happens. Best, MathewTownsend (talk) 19:50, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

Yes, these articles suck. They sucked the first time you posted them, and they suck now. Yes, no one has improved them. Wikipedia has four million articles. Most of them suck. Most of them sucked a year ago. Most of them will still suck a year from now. The fact that an article that sucked last spring still sucks says absolutely nothing about anything. Is there a purpose to this section? Kevin Gorman (talk) 00:13, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
Is the point not that students editing as part of the education program should be asked not to use mainspace? They could post the articles on a user subpage, the teacher could evaluate them, and then – if the student wants his or her work to be moved to the encyclopaedia – the student can ask a Wikipedian to check it for policy compliance and move it if it does comply.
We already ask paid advocates to edit via this route, and there is a board where they can ask that their drafts be checked before being moved to the encyclopaedia. If the same approach were taken with education-program students it would solve a lot of the problems we're seeing. It would also mean the students weren't being forced to release their work, which is another ethical issue I haven't seen addressed. This way, they could ask that it be deleted from their userspace once the course had ended. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:38, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
yes SlimVirgin, that's the point. Seems like the Education Program could at least do no damage. If all those articles were in a sandbox or somewhere not in the main space, then perhaps the subject matter overlap would be noticed. And the program's articles that "suck" wouldn't be in the mainspace confusing readers. (Once they're in the mainspace it's almost impossible to get them ADFed.) MathewTownsend (talk) 17:40, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
Someone should just go ahead and redirect those titles to whatever the main title is. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:29, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
There's more articles than I've listed e.g. Honesty-humility factor of the HEXACO model of personality (also has sections about the Big Five) and HEXACO model of personality structure. I haven't done a search for all the articles. (I know "Big Five" is linked to many articles.) But I think what Colin says above is important: "consider that often the added text is already present on Wikipedia in a better place in some other article." This seems to be one of the problems here. Overall the subject may be important but it's not integrated into existing wikipedia articles covering the same subject. Or many scattered aspects of a subject are broken up into separate articles. Students (and professors) need to be aware of what articles exist on wikipedia related to the subject before they start adding new ones, I think. MathewTownsend (talk) 20:22, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Chapel Hill and Federal Writers Project[edit]

FYI: there is a discussion about new articles created as part of a classroom project at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There are a number of recent pages about participants in the Federal Writers' Project which appear to be outside the scope of WP. I've offered to contact the instructor and if needed transwiki import the pages to Wikiversity. It may also be desirable to contact the instructor about any potential future projects to insure that new content is within our guidelines and to offer assistance. --mikeu talk 20:37, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

"Our data shows that students improve Wikipedia articles an average of 64 percent" and other nonsense[edit]

Sorry the following text is so long. The two formal student analyses are given so much weight by the Education Program that I think it is worth investigating them seriously. I hope you can bear with me.

I've been investigating the impressive soundbite: "Our data shows that students improve Wikipedia articles an average of 64 percent." which is listed at the Common misconceptions about the Wikipedia Education Program as a fact rather than a misconception. But it is the latter. The figure comes from the Public Policy Initiative assessment. Their results are shown here: Student Contributions to Wikipedia. They summarise this as

  • Over the course of the project a total of 140 articles were randomly selected from the WikiProject United States Public Policy Course tab and assessed. 84 were pre-existing and 56 were new.
  • There was 64% increase in all articles, the average score went up 5.8 points (9.0 before, 14.8 after)
  • There was a 50% increase in pre-existing articles. The average score went up 4.8 points (9.7 before, 14.5 after)
  • New articles had an average score of 15.4 which translates to an average B rating in the Wikipedia scale.

The exercise was repeated for Spring 2012 United States and Canada students(results here) with a different set of student work. They summarise this as

  • On average, existing articles improved by 2.94 points—from 11.26 to 14.20—while for new articles students averaged a score of 13.55.
  • In rough practical terms, the average class started from either nonexistent articles or (typically) weak Start-class articles, and ended up with C-class articles or strong Start-class articles.
  • Altogether (new and existing articles combined), on average students improved articles by about 6.5 points, which is 0.7 points more than the average improvements made by students in the Public Policy Initiative.

Scoring[edit]

The articles were assessed on a point scale here that looked at Comprehensiveness (1-10), Sourcing (0-6), Neutrality (0-3), Readability (0-3), Formatting (0-2) and Illustrations (0-2). The total score can range from 1-26.

These scores are essentially subjective though there is guidance on what sort of score would be expected for each metric category. However, there is a tendency to bump up the score for any perceived shift in an area. Adding a point for Comprehensiveness when actually the increase in topic covering was negligible or even unchanged (just more noise). The score for Sourcing might improve because the added text was sourced but overall the article was still in a poor shape and its sourcing score should have remained. Adding one image to an unillustrated article could shift the score from 0 to 1 when in fact it should still have scored 0 on the scale. This natural bias to want to indicate the change on a crude scale can only be avoided by having the pre and post articles reviewed by different people. And since there is a big variation in scores by the reviewers, one would need a very large number of reviewers to average the results.

The articles are reviewed by non-subject experts. It is very difficult for a non-expert to judge the comprehensiveness, sourcing and neutrality of a topic. This is highlighted by some of the scoring for medical articles.

Since the scores are looking at different aspects of an article, adding them all together produces quite an arbitrary quality score. A different score could arise by a different weighting of the various scores or by including other metrics. For example, neutrality is a score point but not generally an issue with many of these articles. Far more likely an issue is WP:WEIGHT (which is part of NPOV) which concerns the balance of the article wrt topic issues. Are we writing too much about one aspect and not enough about others? The assessment didn't look at plagiarism which is a huge problem and very hard to analyse with out good access to the sources and a lot of time. The assessment didn't look at Wikipedia's comprehensiveness on the topic outside of the one article.

Looking at the raw data for Spring 2012 United States and Canada students one can see a large variation student improvement scores depending on what they start with. It is very easy to score a high delta when working on a stub or start class article but much harder for C or B class articles. None of the students worked on GA, A or FA class articles. The average point improvement ranged from 4 down to 0.5 depending on what class you begin with.

Results[edit]

For existing articles, the PPI assessment found a 4.8 point improvement and US&Canada found a 2.94 point improvement. However, all I think one can honestly retrieve from this is that both are above 0. If many students had picked C or B class articles to begin with, then the improvement would probably be less than 1 point on average. If they had all expanded stubs and starts, the improvement might be 50% higher. If the scoring system had been stricter or differently weighted or included other factors, the numbers would shift again.

For new articles, it makes absolutely no sense to compare total scores. Of the 26 points, half (sourcing, neutrality, readability, formatting) make no sense for a non-existent article. The other points (comprehensiveness, illustrations) could be rated at 0 for non-existent articles though this rather assumes the information wasn't on Wikipedia anywhere before the article was created. Which in fact is a big problem for new student articles and article expansion, and something the assessment didn't look at. Therefore the statements that there was a 5.8 point and 6.5 point improvement in all articles seen by these two assessments is nonsense. The former figure is behind the "students improve Wikipedia articles an average of 64 percent" which is a mathematically naive calculation totally at the mercy of the mix of new and existing articles in the dataset: the percentage improvement tends towards infinity as you remove existing articles from the dataset.

I agree that "percent improvement" doesn't make much sense with this assessment. I'll remove it from that "common misconceptions" page. (Even beyond the mix of new and existing articles, quality isn't measured linearly by that scale; the early points are easy, while moving a few points up at the high end may actually be a much bigger contributions. From my perspective, the assessments are mainly useful for a) figuring out whether or not articles improved, and b) getting a rough, high level view of how much student work improves articles. The calculated numbers (average improvement and so on) aren't straightforward to interpret, but the shifting histograms for existing articles (and considered separately, the final quality histogram for new articles, to show the quality distribution of the new articles students write) tell the story pretty clearly.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:49, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

Conclusion[edit]

These analyses have essentially concluded that students wrote stuff about a topic. When expanding missing or short articles, they could write unreadable, inaccurate, unsourced text and still improve their score. When expanding long articles, they could have written "Jason is gay" and not changed the score. Their text could be completely plagiarised and still improve the score. Their "new material" could already be present on Wikipedia and still improve the score.

I think the Education Program should be asked to remove their "improved 64 percent" statement as mathematical nonsense, and the other numbers should be treated with scepticism. Further analysis of the student edits is required:

  • Was the text copy/paste or otherwise plagiarised.
  • Was the "new material" actually new for Wikipedia.
  • Is this new article actually encyclopaedic or just a student essay.

I am concerned that the student work appears most effective when the create new articles or expand stubs. Sooner or later, the psych undergrads are going on run out of ways of entitling their essay on the Big 5 or colour perception as a "new article". The effect is a fragmentation and duplication of information on Wikipedia. The emphasis on a self-contained piece of writing goes against the hyperlinked collective work that makes Wikipedia strong. That the students also fail to interact with other editors or join projects exacerbates the silo effect. Add to this the problems MathewTownsend notes above when trying to AfD these unneeded duplicate articles. For an example of these issues see Talk:Myoclonic epilepsy#Big problems with this article where student edits would have been scored very highly on the above assessments but in fact had extensive copyvios, duplicated existing better material or were completely off-topic. Colin°Talk 13:48, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

Contribution analysis aside, it's pretty clear from experience that it's much easier for newcomers to make tangible, unambiguous improvements in areas where Wikipedia has poor or non-existent coverage. It's important, of course, for the topic to actually be poorly covered rather than covered well under a different title or a section of a broader article; to that end, the training and guidance material for both students and professors emphasizes the importance of exploring Wikipedia's related coverage beforehand to make sure students are duplicating what's already been covered, and this is part of what many Wikipedia Ambassadors do, helping the class figure out where their efforts can fit into the project. (That's also one reason why professor retention is a key goal; as a professor becomes more and more familiar with the coverage in the area their students will work on, he or she can better guide students to areas where Wikipedia really does need expanded coverage.) However, there is something of a benefit even when students somehow find a new place to add material on a well-covered topic: it points out the difficulty of finding that coverage, and lets us improve our redirects and internal linking. (Not that this makes it worth all the effort, but if students aren't finding what they wanted to write about, some readers are probably also failing to find it when they go searching.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:06, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Hm. I don't know. We could beat ourselves up about poor search results or redirects but I suspect students just aren't looking. Take the Myoclonic epilepsy example. Previously the article was a stub like this. Now myoclonic epilepsy is just a category in a hierarchical system of organising epilepsy disorders, not a disorder one actually gets diagnosed with. So there's not a huge amount to say about it. The students repeated existing work on myoclonus, progressive myoclonus epilepsies and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. The first two are wikilinked from the existing tiny article, so there's not much excuse for not spotting them. The latter was completely irrelevant to the topic and has its own article -- not hard to find either. Wrt to plagiarism in that example, the student thought that by citing the source that was sufficient to get away with just copying the material. So clearly the three students working on that article weren't really prepared to work on it. Is that a problem with that class or just those students? I certainly don't think we can blame ourselves for it or that it points out flaws in the existing material and linking. Colin°Talk 16:24, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
I agree that students should not be encouraged to write new entries without the requisite knowledge (which should also be known by their professors). I wonder how often a professor gives an insightful comment at a student-article AfD, by the way? One good thing. ASMR/Autonomous sensory meridian response was getting hits despite not existing.[33][34] Now thanks to a student's interest (and my help) we have a (probably) OK article that has been getting over 700 hits daily for the past three days. Biosthmors (talk) 16:35, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
(ec) True enough. I've seen a fair number of cases where the process of removing duplicate work led to improvements in findability, and others like you describe where students (apparently) simply didn't look. If you notice classes where this is common, leave a message here so someone can reach out to the professor.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:38, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
There's a missing step here; one thing is whether the existing content is limited, another is whether sources exist to write about a given topic. If the profs would encourage students to reach out-- not only in choosing a topic, but in asking which sources can be used to expand a topic-- it would save everyone a lot of time. I'm constantly frustrated that in some cases, good sources exist, the students often have university library access, but they generate off-topic content from whatever sources they come across. I could have pointed them in advance to good sources. I eeked an article out of student work at klazomania (an obscure topic about which basically nothing is written) by allowing selective use of primary sources. That article looks like a good student result: it's not. What it actually is is dozens of hours of my time spent cleaning up an article on such an obscure topic that only one sentence in one review exists and that barely warranted more than a definition; I could have better spent my time elsewhere, and the students could have better spent their time expanding something useful (to our readers) from high quality sources. Except for the hits it gets because I point to it as an example, it will never get more than 20 hits per day. One way forward in this dilemma is to get (at least in the med realm) the profs to understand MEDRS, and get them to include as one of their first steps in the assignment for students to list the sources they plan to use on article talk, and do that relative to WP:MEDMOS (suggested article organization). For example, I plan to use X source to write about Diagnosis of condition Y. That will allow us to head off a lot of wasted time at the pass. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:49, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
I think there are cases where a professor, or students, would benefit greatly from asking for feedback on article selection, or sources, ahead of time. Certainly in the case you mention you could have saved everyone some time. I don't think this is something we can build in to course syllabi, though, because there won't always be a knowledgeable and available Wikipedia editor to respond. In fact, I see this problem with a lot of suggested solutions to issues that have arisen with student-editing; we can't assume ambassadors (or other editors) will do anything in particular, because they're volunteer labour. Ambassador performance has been enormously variable -- ask the professors. They can be a great asset (and often are), but any process that relies on Wikipedians interacting with classes in a certain way is going to be unreliable. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:43, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
I think ambassadors should attempt to help professors refine sylabi. I mean, isn't that what they signed up for, to increase communication and the benefit to both parties (academia and Wikipedia)? If they're not willing to do that, then remove them from being an ambassador for incompetence? Biosthmors (talk) 00:48, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
All I'm trying to say is that it's not scalable to build a process on Wikipedia out of compulsory tasks performed by volunteers. We can't commit to a professor that Joe Editor will show up, because Joe is a volunteer. Ambassadors can be (and almost always are) very helpful in many ways, not just refining syllabi -- but the class on the other side of the computer screen is a real class, with real students getting real grades, and I don't want to design a process that harms those students when ambassadors drop out, as some always do. Ambassadors should be part of the solution but they can't be critical to it. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:11, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
I agree. I'm just saying if an ambassador is unwilling to communicate with a professor, then they are no longer acting as an ambassador, and they should be removed from whatever list of ambassadors they are on. Ambassadors should be "fired" if they are not performing up to a basic level of performance. No? Biosthmors (talk) 01:42, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Yes, that's definitely the case. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 07:21, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Mike, it doesn't have to be an ambassador necessarily, but I think there does need to be an experienced Wikipedian involved at some point early in the process, if we're assuming that the students will have a viable and mainspace-able product. To give you an example, last semester I reviewed some student proposals for articles they wanted to work on. The prof had already agreed the articles involved needed work and that sources were available - everything you'd expect a responsible prof to do - but I vetoed two right away. Why? One involved articles in the race & intelligence area, the other articles around abortion. As a Wikipedian, I knew throwing students in discretionary-sanctions areas was likely to end in disaster, but a non-Wikipedian prof would be hard-pressed to figure it out in time to avoid issues. I thought that was part of why point 2 of the Participation Requirements was imposed? Nikkimaria (talk) 04:49, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Well enjoy neuroscience and race, an article from "my class" this semester! (I hope it's good. Grimace.) Biosthmors (talk) 06:51, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Nikkimaria, I agree that's why point 2 is there, and perhaps I overstated the case. You're right that advising the professor to avoid abortion articles is the sort of thing a Wikipedian will know instantly, and that's a good reason for getting an ambassador involve. What I am really arguing against is any situation where at some point in the class, it becomes necessary for the ambassador, or some other Wikipedian, to complete some tasks in order for the course to be a success -- e.g. review GAs, review articles, submit or support DYKs. Professors who develop direct relationships with Wikipedians, as some have done, can ask for favours as any other Wikipedian would, but I don't want a situation where the professor turns to the EP and says, for example, "You promised someone would do a peer review on all twenty-five of my students' articles by the end of the semester". Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 07:21, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
I agree. Biosthmors (talk) 07:28, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

Concerns re: recent discussion on this board[edit]

Hi all, I'm one of the coordinators of the Canadian Education Program. Some of my colleagues and I are currently reviewing recent discussion on this board. While I appreciate the engagement, and the clear desire to improve the Education Program, there are concerns about the way some editors have gone about presenting their criticism. In particular (and this is not intended to be threatening) there are concerns that parts of this discussion have violated WP:CIVIL, WP:GOODFAITH, WP:BITE and perhaps (most concerning) WP:PERSONAL and WP:HARASS. I would appreciate if those involved could post links to the primary concerns, in particular:

  • Evidence that an editor said that course material should not be altered during the semester,
  • Evidence that copyright violations would not be addressed,
  • Evidence of requirements that students nominate for DYK and GA,
  • Any examples of students refusing to abide by policy after being properly notified.

I recognize that this is a discussion board, and that opportunity should be allowed for extensive comment; however, for this thread, if you wouldn't mind, please keep answers as brief as possible. Please refer to as many concrete examples as possible. Please also refrain from adding additional anecdotal criticism.

Thank you for your help with this.

Sincerely, Jaobar (talk) 16:30, 8 December 2012 (UTC)

Jaobar, I don't see the things you are talking about. This discussion has been pretty civil, and I certainly don't see any example of personal attacks or harrassment (unless some of the people on the project take personally any criticism of the program). It was clearly stated that STUDENTS, not Wikipedians, have been saying that course material should not be altered during the semester. There is plenty of evidence about copyright violations, including at least one case where the professor refused to look into copyright violations or take them seriously;[35] even so, several people here have volunteered to follow up on the copyvio problem. Here is an example of a course which requires that students nominate their articles for DYK and GA: [36]. Another example requiring both DYK and GA: [37]. Other examples of DYK requirement: [38] [39]. --MelanieN (talk) 17:50, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
For what it's worth, this example that you point out actually shows the initial plan drawn up by a tutor who wasn't entirely familiar with some of enwiki's rules and norms; we had a chat, and the course set off in a slightly different direction. (No DYKs came out of it). So, I think "the system" worked that time, although much of the subsequent discussion on that course was unfortunately off-wiki. bobrayner (talk) 21:59, 8 December 2012 (UTC)

Jaobar: I suspect that part of the reason you posted is related an email I sent to a colleague of yours a couple days ago. I've reviewed the email I sent, and although the tone of it was probably grumpier than was necessary (and it probably wasn't a good idea for me to write a grumpy email while on a lot of cough syrup/while with pneumonia, though that certainly doesn't excuse a grumpier than necessary tone) I don't think that it violates any of the policies you linked - and I stand by its contents. I'll be in private contact with you in the immediate future to explain further the particular situations that led me to send it. Kevin Gorman (talk) 21:20, 8 December 2012 (UTC)

--------

Greetings. As of this evening, I see little evidence to justify the previous discussion. Hopefully this will change by tomorrow.

For example, User:slimVirgin stated "I alerted the teacher, and he said that checking for plagiarism was not something he did. He suggested I handle it myself, and said he would give students who had posted copyvios an F." So far I see no evidence of this. Please point me to this conversation.

User:MelanieN, as far as I know, all individuals with profiles are considered editors, not just Wikipedians. Please point me to examples of students (editors) requesting that course material remain unaltered during the semester.

As far as copyright violations, I see one thread where concerns were raised, to which the professor responded. I also see claims of 4 alleged copyright violations. I am hoping that this potentially damaging set of discussion posts (damaging to the Education Program) has not been the result of an over-reaction. Please provide evidence. Jaobar (talk) 04:49, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Jaobar, SlimVirgin has already provided the diffs for what you're asking. Here, for example, she links directly to the conversations in question. MelanieN also provided diffs about the matter of students trying to keep content un-reverted in mainspace. I know there's been a whole lot of words spilled on this page recently and it's a lot to read, but if you're going to come from a place of "I demand you prove these things have been said", it helps to not fail to read where the proof has already been provided. No one is here to make personal attacks, to insult you and your colleagues, or anything else terrible and anti-wiki. They're here to discuss issues they've had with students and professors from the program, with an eye toward reaching solutions, and you're responding to that with an attitude of basically "You are all doing a horrible thing talking about this, and I expect you to cease and desist before I'm forced to do something you wouldn't like". A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 05:10, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

I provided you with conclusive evidence of a student repeatedly infringing copyright via email earlier today, before your most recent post. As I said in my email, I'll be getting some other diffs to you that show such problems in the relatively near future. All of the other diffs that you have requested are already present on this page as far as I can tell. (Although I would certainly invite other people to provide additional evidence of student copyright infringement here, as requested.) Kevin Gorman (talk) 07:22, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

I have just sent you an additional email containing conclusive evidence of another student in the same class we previously discussed committing outright plagiarism. Not even excessively close paraphrasing, but directly cutting and pasting large blocks of text without attribution from a source that is not freely licensed. I have pneumonia and am in finals myself, so my further emails to you will be slow, because I don't want to name and shame a student as a plagiarist without ensuring 100% that they are first. Information about other students will be forthcoming as I have time. Kevin Gorman (talk) 09:28, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

--------

Jaobar, I am happy to encounter an education program professor who has actually edited articles; having engaged Wikipedia, I'm sure you realize your demanding tone isn't helpful here-- a board where we are seeking solutions to a a problem that is deep and wide.

I have said it before, here and elsewhere, but I'll repeat this for your benefit. It is not my job to be an unpaid TA for a professor who has never edited any article, doesn't check or know how to check edit history, doesn't look at article talk, and wants me to blow the whistle on a student, causing the student to get an F for plagiarizing. Those professors-- who haven't given adequate instruction to their students and are using established Wikipedians as unpaid TAs-- shouldn't be unleashing their students' work on Wikipedia. If they are too lazy or unknowledgeable about how to check an article history to find my very clearly marked edit summaries indicating removing plagiarism, see talk or to follow the link to talk, it's not my job to notify them or to be fingerpointing at any specific examples here. If we were dealing with editors who would be sticking around, I would be dealing with the plagiarism as I would any other editor; since these students leave as soon as their course is done meaning there is no educational benefit in helping the student learn how to be a real Wikipedian, I have no reason to pursue the copyvio matters, other than removing the plagiarism as soon as I find it. I do not intend to be pointing out where I've found plagiarism; it is the professor's job when grading to look at edit history, where they can find clearly marked edit summaries. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:34, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

Hi all, thank you for your comments. I will respond in greater detail soon. I will say quickly that my polite comments above are requests, not demands. As I'm sure you understand, my goal here is to help ensure that all parties involved come away benefitting from this process. So those offended by my tone (without trying to sound condescending here), please assume good faith. Jaobar (talk) 21:16, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
@Jaobar: What Fluff said, in spades. When you request evidence, and I and others show you the evidence you asked for, and you repeat "please point me to examples" and "so far I see no evidence of this" as if we hadn't replied - well, it's frustrating, and it doesn't promote good communication. But just for the record, let me "show you" one more time: Here's the professor telling SlimVirgin that he doesn't check for plagiarism, but if he finds a confirmed example he will give the student an F: [40] Here's a student reverting SlimVirgin's edits and telling her to leave the page alone: [41] I also provided two examples of courses requiring DYK and FAN (in one case the requirement was preliminary and was later withdrawn, according to bobrayner) and two examples of courses requiring DYK. I don't know what more I can do. --MelanieN (talk) 21:43, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
P.S. Perhaps YOU could provide US with diffs showing what you were talking about when you said that "parts of this discussion have violated WP:CIVIL, WP:GOODFAITH, WP:BITE and perhaps (most concerning) WP:PERSONAL and WP:HARASS". And if you don't care to or can't provide examples, perhaps you will agree to assume good faith on the part of those discussing here - as you expect everyone here to do toward you. --MelanieN (talk) 21:48, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Jonathan, the gist of the discussion is that plagiarism (copy-paste editing from sources cited in footnotes) was found in several articles being edited as part of a Canadian course, and the teacher has left it to Wikipedians to deal with it. [42] My view is that teachers should check for plagiarism themselves, for a number of reasons, including (a) it's part of the job, (b) unpaid volunteers shouldn't be burdened with the extra work, (c) where the sources are books, they're probably in the university library, whereas we might have to rely on inter-library loans (which apart from the hassle factor could take weeks to arrive), and (d) volunteers shouldn't be responsible for deciding, in effect, which students get an F. As one of the program coordinators, what's your view on this? SlimVirgin (talk) 02:08, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

User:SlimVirgin and User:MelanieN thank you for your responses. I have reviewed the comments in dispute (so far I have only found a few such comments, some from students who were still learning - something to keep in mind), and am in the process of discussing what has transpired with colleagues in the Education Program. I can tell you frankly that whatever your viewpoint on the issues being discussed, the results of this conversation have not had a positive effect at all, in fact, one could go so far as to say that this conversation has been destructive. So perhaps reconsidering strategy is in order. But that's just my opinion at this point. In terms of comments of concern, a close reading of some of the language, and the potential implications for those in a university setting may reveal the cause for concern. Here's one comment from User:Kevin Gorman that concerns me:
"As a student, instructor, and Wikipedian, intentional plagiarism is one of the few things that really sets me off. Things like close paraphrasing I can understand occasionally doing as a mistake, but shit like copying entire paragraphs makes me see red. If I become aware of any situation that involves a student at a US or Canadian university participating in a Wikipedia-based assignment who clearly commits intentional plagiarism, I will bring it to the attention of their professor. If their professor doesn't respond adequately, I will bring it to the attention of their departmenthead, and so on, until an appropriate response is received. And I guarantee that at any US or Canadian university, I will be able to provoke an appropriate response."
I am also requesting that you refrain from continued (and continued) criticism of the professor in question - i.e. User:SlimVirgin from the prof's talk page today "I think the issue is that it would help if you would be more pro-active about this, rather than leaving it to Wikipedians." The professor gets the point. Jaobar (talk) 17:19, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
I'm relieved to know one professor gets the point (although I see nothing wrong with Slim's most politely worded request); I'm curious to know why you disagree with Kevin Gorman. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:27, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps Jaobar is concerned repeated posts could dissuade the professor from engaging in positive and ongoing discussions via email, etc. I think we might need another level of diligence to not to be perceived as WP:BITEy by professors. Academics have a culture of "fine, this journal doesn't like me I'll go publish in another", so we might have to be more delicate, since there is only one project with our reach. I heard from the professor I'm working with that they've perceived unwelcoming vibes from the project. So I want to be welcoming and have the maximum potential to influence the direction of the assignment to the benefit of Wikipedia. Biosthmors (talk) 17:44, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
I'm not quite seeing the problem with Kevin's comment. Absolutely it was blunt, and I understand why any student might be alarmed to see it, but plagiarism here for the purposes of a school assignment should carry the same penalty that plagiarism anywhere else for a school assignment does. Students should be aware that academic standards apply here as well as on paper.

I don't want to put words in your mouth, Jaobar, so please correct where I'm misreading you (because I assume I am), but to me right now it looks sort of like you're hoping to keep EP-related Wikipedia stuff a sort of "not the real world" sandbox where students/professors not adhering to the rules doesn't count. What some of the people here are trying to communicate is that to them - to many of us - it does count, and that while seeing someone appear out of the blue and dump a copyvio in an article is bad, it is in some ways worse to see someone appear because they were sent here and go on to dump a copyvio in an article. So to you it seems unnecessarily aggressive for people to go to students and professors and ask them to fix their mistakes and not commit more of them, because why are we persecuting these people who are donating their time and efforts to Wikipedia? To others, it seems like asking non-student editors to clean up and maintain students' work is an unnecessary drain on everyone else who's donating their time and efforts to Wikipedia.

There's probably a point to be made here about how to engage with students and professors in a non-offputting manner, but that point is weakened when the reason the offputting manner is being deployed is because the more understated manner doesn't seem to have worked. Wikipedia does have a reputation for being prickly to newcomers, and it's something we can stand to work on, but the people who feel pricked need to meet us halfway as far as at least attempting to fit in. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 18:14, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

Having just had a conversation with Sage about this, I want to clarify what I mean when I say I don't see a problem with the comment, because there's actually a lot going on in Kevin's statement, some spots of which are more objectionable than others. So, my initial reading of Kevin's comment was that the gist was basically, "I intend to treat plagiarism from students on Wikipedia the same way I would treat it in the real world: report it so they are held accountable for their misconduct." I agree with this idea - as I said above, if students are doing academic work on Wikipedia, they should be aware that they are being held to the same standards of academic honesty here as elsewhere.

What I realized after talking it over with Sage, however, is that there's another level that can be read in Kevin's comment, basically saying, "I not only intend to report plagiarism from students on Wikipedia, but I intend to pursue the matter until I can be sure they are punished, no matter how high I have to go to accomplish that." I don't think that's an appropriate stance to take - the responsibility of someone who encounters student plagiarism is to report it to the professor, not to be Dirty Harry about making sure the student "pays" for it. If reporting the matter to a professor doesn't get the problem dealt with, in my opinion the problem has ceased to be with a student, and begun to be with the professor, because it is the responsibility of a professor who assigns extracurricular work (in the sense of "sending students to work on something that's a separate, non-school entity") to make sure that work is done in a manner that isn't damaging to the entity they're sending students to work on. If, for example, a veterinary professor was assigning students to volunteer at an animal shelter, it would fall to the professor to make sure that the students he sent weren't causing problems there. It's the student's responsibility if one of them decides go all PETA and release the dogs, but once the professor knows about that behavior, he would be responsible for making it clear to his class that that wasn't ok, and if he refuses to do that, the shelter would be correct to hold the professor, not just the students, responsible for future jailbreaks.

The other issue here is the idea of off-wiki consequences. Wikipedia usually frowns on "reporting" editors to real-world supervisors, teachers, etc. It can have an incredibly chilling effect to basically threaten someone's livelihood/future for something they did on a website. However, in the case of EP classes, I think it is reasonable in some cases to pursue off-wiki consequences for student misconduct. There need to be limits - certainly no calling up anyone's mom or internship or something - but if a student is editing on behalf of Class Y at University X, they are accountable to that class, and possibly to that university. If you're doing an assignment for Class Y here, and you perpetrate some serious academic dishonestly, like plagiarism, it is appropriate (in my mind) for your professor to be informed. It is not appropriate for a Wikipedian to try to take on the role of the professor and actually deal with the dishonesty by disciplinary means of some kind, like contacting a dean. But again, it's not appropriate for an editor to do this because it's the professor's job, not because students somehow shouldn't be held accountable for misconduct. We really, really need professors to be working with us on this. We, the community, can't end the EP, or fire a professor from the program, or even fire a student who doesn't get it. That means that when we report problems to the EP, or to a professor, we need them to be willing and able to address the issues, because they're the ones who can handle it. We can't; we can only clean up the messes that are left behind. In the future, in cases where a professor isn't taking responsibility for his students' conduct on Wikipedia, there needs to be a way to deal with that, because otherwise you end up with desperate Wikipedians trying any and all measures, some wise and some overkill, to do the professors' jobs and make the pain stop. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 20:20, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

To clarify, my comment was made before I was aware of any particular class with problems. It was not intended as a threat directed towards anyone in particular, and isn't (or at least the escalation bit) something that I ever anticipate having to pursue. I have in the past and will in the future report students' plagiarism to their professors. Every professor who I have approached has understood the issue, and has addressed the issues appropriately. I understand that some people have concerns about any sort of off-wiki consequences for on-wiki actions, but when Wikipedia is edited in the context of an academic assignment plagiarism should absolutely be taken every bit as seriously as it is for a 'real-world' academic assignment. If professors choose to fail, honor code, or otherwise punish students who have blatantly plagiarized, then I have no problem with it - students understand plagiarism, and if they choose to commit blatant plagiarism anyway, they deserve whatever punishment they get. If they choose not to do so, then as long as the professors take action to ensure that the plagiarism doesn't recur on Wikipedia, I have no problem with that either. (And I understand that due to the privacy policies at most schools, I'll never be made aware of whether or not a student is punished. I'm completely fine with that, and would be dismayed if I was made aware.)

When I suggested that I would have no problem escalating beyond the level of an individual professor, I did not anticipate ever having to do so. I still don't anticipate ever having to do so. I literally cannot imagine approaching a professor with conclusive evidence that one of their students has plagiarized work and not having them take some sort of action. However, if there is ever an education program class that has a massive issue with plagiarism and an unresponsive professor, then I will absolutely consider contacting other people at the participant university, including the professor's departmenthead, if (and only if) it appears that that is the best way to mitigate damage to Wikipedia and to the education program. I do not anticipate ever having to do this. If a situation arose where I did do this, I would bring the issue here for discussion first. I view this situation - which I never anticipate happening - as analogous to contacting the abuse department at an ISP or the network administrator at an K-12 school with evidence of abuse of their network (both of which are things that I have seen done on Wikipedia with regularity,) or analogous to publicly calling out paid editing shills (which is also something that happens regularly, and not infrequently results in negative international news coverage directed towards the shills.) And to reiterate: I cannot imagine this situation ever actually occurring.

The damage that will occur to the education program if the perception of Wikipedia's broader community continues to be that education program participants are unresponsive to the concerns of the broader community will be incalculable. I think the education program has the potential to be massively beneficial both for academia and for Wikipedia, and if its potential is limited because Wikipedia's broader community views it as a liability and places severe restrictions on it (such as sandbox-only editing, which has recently been suggested on this page,) I'll view it as a tragedy. One way to mitigate this perception is for education program participants to make clear that issues like blatant plagiarism are not acceptable, and will be dealt with strongly. If my words or this particular situation drive away one or more professors from the education program, that's unfortunate, and I would regret it. But professor recruitment is not an issue with the education program at present - any professor who drops out of the program can be replaced with two more next semester. At this stage in the program, it's infinitely more important that the education program is run as a tight - and well accepted - ship, then as a gigantic ship. Kevin Gorman (talk) 21:15, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

  • I just became aware of this noticeboard, and I'm pleased that is exists, because I have been having many of the same concerns that some of the other editors here have been pointing out, about class projects where the students appear not to understand some important things, and where it can be frustrating to try to explain it to them. Let me add an observation about the question of to what extent we should regard student editors the same as other new editors. I agree with some comments that we should avoid WP:BITE, but I think there's another side of the coin. WP:OWN also applies, and so no class should ever expect that "their" page will be off-limits to the rest of the editing community. --Tryptofish (talk) 02:32, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
  • I'm bewildered about what's happening here. People are pointing out legitimate concerns, only to be met with an attitude from the teacher and coordinator that suggests they believe they ought not to be questioned. I asked Jonathan here whether teachers or Wikipedians should clean up student plagiarism, and received no response. Instead he told me off for my previous questions to Grant. Here is my exchange with Grant so people can judge for themselves (and this is the only contact I have ever had with him):
  • Nov 23: I told him that I'd been reverted when removing inappropriate student edits, and had found plagiarism in another article on his course. No response, though he did edit elsewhere.
  • Nov 23: I posted on the course talk page advising students about the importance of in-text attribution when quoting or closely paraphrasing. No response.
  • Nov 26: I told him I'd found more plagiarism on his course. This time I emailed him to alert him to the post. He responded here advising me to deal with it myself, saying he does not check for plagiarism, and that he would give students an F if someone else pointed it out to him.
  • Nov 26: I explained that I didn't want to name the students, and advised him to make sure they know about the importance of in-text attribution. No response.
  • Dec 7: I alerted Grant to the discussion here. No response.
  • Dec 10: I followed up a post from Kevin asking that he (Grant) be more proactive, and again suggesting he stress to his students the importance of in-text attribution. No response.
If the education program wants us to treat them like any other Wikipedians, they have to behave that way. That means sticking to the policies, acting promptly when plagiarism or other serious issues are pointed out, and interacting with other Wikipedians. There can't be a separate enclave with special privileges. Jonathan, I'd appreciate a response to my question. Do you believe that the teachers or Wikipedians should look for and clean up plagiarism in student articles? I'm not talking about that particular course now, but for any of the courses you coordinate. SlimVirgin (talk) 02:49, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
User:SlimVirgin, my intention was not to tell you off, my apologies if my comments came across that way. I was merely trying to alleviate some of the pressure being placed on the professor. In terms of your other question, do I believe that all editors should abide by Wikipedia policies (and students by academic policies), of course my answer is yes. I am a huge fan of Wikipedia and what it stands for (that's why I volunteer) and wish that I could find more time to edit and grow as a community member (perhaps someday). Do I think that teachers should be responsible for correcting all student mistakes moved to the mainspace? Not an easy answer. We are teaching the profs to have their students work in sandboxes and correct their work there before it is moved into the mainspace. Not every professor has time for that process. Furthermore, the EP is not directing professors how to run their classes, we are merely providing guidelines. Ideally the students would be doing the work, and we are doing our best to encourage this. The system will not be perfect, and Wikipedians will get stuck with some (in some instances too much) of the work. While I can understand the frustration, another part of me sees this as just part of the wiki process. But perhaps that's just me being idealistic. Anyhow, it's late, hope that response was decent enough for now. One thing I'll mention quickly, keep in mind that the Wikimedia Foundation's EP is no longer the only game in town. The Association for Psychological Science, the American Sociological Association, and soon the National Communication Association will all have their own independent education programs. This is great recruitment for Wikipedia. With lots of new profs joining the system, established Wikipedians are going to have to figure out a way to deal with the unique challenges associated with class Wikipedia projects. There will be frustrations with newbies, and those of us working closely with the profs will do our best to encourage them to continue their double-duty (keep this in mind, course content + Wikipedia training... who's calling profs lazy?). Constructive strategies need to be advanced, and strategies that are pushing people away, however well-intentioned (i.e. see above), should be reconsidered, in my opinion. Jaobar (talk) 07:11, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Any collaboration between academia and community is, by necessity, a two way street. Both parties need to feel like their needs are being respected and that their grievances are being listened to. Currently, a large number of Wikipedians feel like those involved in the academic side of the education program are not respecting their needs, or listening to their grievances. You are worried about the retention of people like professors who are being attracted in through these programs; a lot of people here are worried about the retention of long time Wikipedians who are having to shoulder large amounts of the burden these programs can generate. Some people are going to be pushed away from Wikipedia over this no matter what happens; almost all strategies that any of us are advancing will involve some number people being pushed away from Wikipedia. Some of my strategies and approaches may mean that we retain slightly fewer professors than we otherwise would've. Some of your strategies and approaches will mean that we retain fewer well-established Wikipedians than we otherwise would've. Everything is a balancing act. Right now, I'm a lot more concerned about strategies that drive away Wikipedians than drive away professors, because for one thing, it's a hell of a lot easier to recruit professors than talented Wikipedians. I would ask you to step back and reconsider a lot of what you have said in your public comments on this board. Kevin Gorman (talk) 07:43, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
A good point about wanting to maintain Wikipedians, though I'm still confused why 'mopping up' is perceived as a waste of time. Perhaps someone can explain to me why that is, I'm looking to learn. Jaobar (talk) 19:43, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Because if one sees errors, plagiarism, poor formatting, etc. in an article one cares about, and you think the person making the edits has harmed the article and doesn't even care about the same Wikipedian culture they are now an "invader" to your culture and value system and it can pain one. One can now feel like one has been punished to and compelled to do completely unnecessary and painful to look at grunt work. Biosthmors (talk) 19:51, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Goodness, it's all over this page. Have you been reading the other sections? Sorry to repeat, but ... Typically, when one is bringing a new editor up to speed, that new editor adds content in small pieces, they learn as they go. Typically, we aren't taking an entire sandbox dump of mostly unusable text that has to be checked for sourcing, copyright infringement, plagiarism, prose, grammar, style, etc. Typically we aren't dealing with walls of text that are duplicated elsewhere and don't belong in the target article, even if well written and sourced. When we are hit with a wall of faulty text from a new editor, all at once, dumped by surprise into an article from sandbox, it can take as much as 12 to 20 hours to check and clean it up. All of us have other articles (always with higher page view stats and more relevant to our readership) that we would prefer to be working on then some of the horribly obscure topics chosen by students. If we just revert the whole faulty mess (rather than doing the work to pick out the two or three salvageable sentences), we are accused of BITE. This is considerably harder and more work than dealing with a few lines of text added by a typical new user, where there is some payout in bringing the new user up to speed. If we take the time to explain each change, deletion, edit on talk, we know the student won't even come back to read it-- they never return after they get their grade. In other words, our time is diverted from working on pleasurable articles to cleaning up walls of text from which little can be salvaged and from which new collaborations will not result. All for nothing, since we aren't gaining new or better editors as a result. I don't mind mentoring new editors who will stay on and share in the burden of maintaining medical articles to standard; I do mind doing a prof's job for him or her. And I want no part in being the person responsible for a student's F; the prof should be following article talk and edit histories to know when plagiarism is removed. It's not my job to ruin some poor kid's life; the prof should be checking talk or edit histories when grading. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:55, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Sandy, would you agree that this is an accurate description of a poor experience with student editing, but that it doesn't necessarily describe all interactions with student editing? I've had some experiences that your description reminds me of, but also more positive experiences.
Generally I think it would help if people's language on this page reflected the variability in the classes and their expertise. It must be frustrating for, say, Sandy, to see the best of the classwork done by students touted as if there were no negative experiences; equally, I would think it is frustrating for someone like Kevin, who works with one of the best classes, to see descriptions of student work such as Sandy's above, which don't represent every case.
Sandy, you didn't say it did represent every case; you just described what a negative outcome looks like in response to the question asked, so I am not finding fault with your phrasing, just hoping to encourage everyone here to remember both the good and bad outcomes that have been seen. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 20:10, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Yes, it is fair to say my frustration describes and should be limited to medical and psych articles (which have been heavily hit, btw-- perhaps in higher percentage than in other areas? I have no way of knowing ... ). I am aware of the one class of law articles that Kevin pointed out, and it does seem they are mostly good articles, but I haven't been exposed to the other successes we hear about. My entire experience has been negative ... and prolonged (these problems go back several years now). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:26, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
To answer your parenthetical question, this link, to one of the analyses, shows (I think) every course title that ran in Spring 2012. You can get an idea of the range of topics from the list. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 20:32, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

Requiring students to use sandboxes[edit]

There seems to be a lot of agreement above that students should use sandboxes. One of the brochures for the program (here) suggests that students move their work out of the sandbox as soon as possible, shortly after they start writing it. I'd like to propose that this advice be changed.

Even experienced Wikipedians often work in sandboxes, and if it's a contentious article we might ask for consensus before moving it in place. It would be a good idea to regard all student essays as contentious in the same way, and to ask that they wait for a Wikipedian to move it into the encyclopaedia. As well as protecting Wikipedia, this would have the added benefit of not requiring them to release their work, which is something we should definitely not be forcing on them. Wikipedia functions on the basis that we're all here as free actors, and that if we choose to edit, we know our work is being released. But the students are not free actors, and are not choosing this for themselves, so editing direct to mainspace is neither in their interests nor in Wikipedia's. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:24, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

With many of the professors who I have worked with (or am in the process of working with,) interaction with the community is one of the explicit goals of the assignment. They understand that Wikipedia is a community of practice, and they want their students to actively engage with it wherever possible. Classes I work with do generally require students to use sandboxes if they are creating new articles until they are in 'good enough' shape to go live (in the same way I personally start my new articles.) Students in classes I advise are generally given the option of sandboxing work or working directly in main space if the articles they are working on already exist. I am also utterly perplexed by your suggestion that all student assignments should be regarded as contentious. Proportionally, very few student assignments are contentious. Some certainly are, but the vast majority of student assignments go by without a problem.
I definitely support students frequently working in sandboxes until their work is of mainspace quality, and would definitely advise all professors to advise the use of sandboxes until that point. But I don't support a categorical requirement that students work only in sandboxes, and frankly, if one was implemented for the official education program I would stop participating in the official education program and yet keep doing the exact same educational outreach at Berkeley that I've been doing all along. (I would strongly consider supporting a forcible sandboxing requirement for classes that have proven problematic, but only for classes that have already proven problematic. Although now that I think about it, I guess I'd consider supporting one for articles covered by WP:MEDRS, too...)
Also - every professor I have ever worked with has said, before assigning a Wikipedia based assignment, "If you're uncomfortable releasing your work under a free license, come talk to me after class and we'll work something else out." I can't say that's a universal among program participants, but it's something that is a universal among classes I work with. I'm not sure what you mean by saying that "Wikipedia functions on the basis that we know our work is being released" in this context - surely, students are at least as likely to be aware that they are releasing their work under a free license as the average new editor is, even if their professors don't explicitly mention it, since they go through the same signup process and see the same disclaimers on average page that new non-student Wikipedians do.
I also object to the clear distinction you draw between students and Wikipedians. I've participated in several education program classes, and I do a hell of a lot of other editing besides. When I rewrote most of Universal v. Reimerdes as part of a classroom assignment, I had already been editing Wikipedia for the greater part of a year iirc, mostly in a non academic context. Would you say that I should have waited for a "real Wikipedian" to approve of my edits to that page before making them? Kevin Gorman (talk) 00:43, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Kevin, I think you're an exception in many ways. Most of the students I've looked are struggling with these assignments (I suspect out of boredom as much as anything else), and have little or no experience as Wikipedians, and nor do their teachers. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:53, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Before I weigh in on Slim's proposal below, I'll add some general here. We keep hearing that students are or should be no different than any other "newbie", but they are. Most new editors begin slowly, adding a piece here or there, and we can educate them as we go, before too much damage is done. In the case of students, they often work in sandbox and then WHAM, a few days before term-end, the article (with no prior notice in most cases) is hit with a huge edit that typically comes from a sandbox and contains typically plagiarism, copyvio, poor sourcing, poor grammar, off-topic content, poor layout, previous correctly cited and written text removed in favor of poorly cited poorly written text, the works. Trying to educate a student all at once on a mess like the typical-- knowing the student will be gone in a few days-- places an unnecessary burden on the established editor. Usually there is only a sentence or two salvageable, but one is "bitey" if one just reverts the whole darn mess. The established editor instead has to spend up to 12 hours checking, removing, explaining on talk -- all to end up with just a sentence or two of new text. The notion that students evolve like regular editors and should be treated the same as any other newbie misses these points. A sandbox proposal has to deal with the problem of being hit with a huge wall of poorly written poorly sourced plagiarized text all at once. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:05, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
{{ec}I would agree that I'm am unusual, as far as students go, but I'm not the only person who has been in a similar situation, and any proposal intended to cover everyone has to cover unusual cases, too.
Have you looked through some of the articles listed at User:Brianwc? (I keep mentioning him just because he runs one of the more successful classes I can think of off the top of my head.) Would you agree that most (or all) of the articles listed on that page are of appropriate quality to be in Wikipedia's main space? Almost all of those articles were written by students without any previous engagement with Wikipedia. Some of them were sandboxed and some weren't, but even those that were sandboxed were pretty much all moved live without the feedback of a 'real' Wikipedian. That's 147+ pretty high quality articles in an area of Wikipedia that previously was under-covered (american internet law) that were created by students without pre-approval by 'real' Wikipedians. As far as I know, no student in his class has ever run in to any significant problem with a terribly below par article, an article getting AfD'ed, plagiarism, or anything of that nature. And most of his students prefer the assignment to a traditional term paper - he runs anonymous surveys after each class that look in to this, among other things.
In many ways, I probably see the most successful results of the education program, and you probably see the least successful. I think that we should both keep in mind that our experiences are not representative of the program as a whole, and that the real average experience is probably something in between what I perceive and what you perceive. Certainly, some classes run in to massive numbers of problems, and some run perfectly. But it seems to me that it would make a lot of sense to focus any proposals on classes that are on the less successful end of the program, instead of making generalized proposals that would effect all classes equally.
I have some instructional design materials used for past Wikipedia assignments that I think you would find interesting to look at, and that I think might make you feel differently about (at least parts of) the education program. I have permission to share them, but not permission to release them under a free license as posting them publicly on Wikipedia would require. Would you like me to email you copies of them? Kevin Gorman (talk) 01:13, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Kevin, that is at least the 3rd time on this page you have suggested people look at "some of the articles listed at User:Brianwc". If you have other good examples, I suggest you switch to them next time. Johnbod (talk) 04:21, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
You mean the second, right? Unless we're using something other than base ten. Kevin Gorman (talk) 05:17, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
Kevin, could you track down the figures for the number of education-program students who have become regular Wikipedians? You said they existed somewhere. I have no idea where to find them. SlimVirgin (talk) 02:01, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
I'll ping someone at WMF about them. I'm pretty sure I've seen them before, but don't know where they are. But to point out again: that's also not the primary purpose of the GEP, from my viewpoint - and I'm pretty sure it's not a primary purpose of the GEP from their viewpoint, either. I'll ask someone from the education team to drop by here and explain the purpose of the GEP is from their viewpoint. (I'll also write up it's purpose from my viewpoint and from the viewpoint of the educators that I work with at some point in the next day or two, and post it here.) Kevin Gorman (talk) 02:23, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, that would be appreciated. SlimVirgin (talk) 02:57, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
I asked a similar question a few months ago, and was told unequivocally that editor retention is not the primary goal for the education program. I would be surprised if we are getting any significant amount of students staying on as productive editors; it's not zero percent, obviously, but I doubt it's anything like high enough to be worth it if that were the only goal. I'll let someone from the GEP answer for the WMF, but from my point of view the goals include adding quality material, particularly in underserved areas such as public policy, and increasing understanding of Wikipedia in the academic community. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 04:19, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
I pinged Sage. He'll be stopping by this thread on Monday with some additional details. Kevin Gorman (talk) 06:30, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
I've explained a bit in the "two questions" section above. I will try to find recent data on student retention (which is not a focus of the program) and professor retention (which is a goal).--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:28, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

Proposal[edit]

Specifically, the proposal is that students editing as part of the education program be asked to write their material in sandboxes. If they're editing part of an existing article, they can copy and paste that article into the sandbox and work on it there. Teachers are asked to provide a grade based on the student's changes to the sandbox version. This would mean that plagiarism and poor quality work would be entirely for the teacher to deal with.

Once the course is over (or once the material has been graded), if the students want to, they can ask that their work be moved into mainspace by a Wikipedian – who would say no if any plagiarism or poor use of sources is found, without having to search to find it all – and at that point if the students want to pursue DYK, GA or FA, that would be fine. With the course over and the article in mainspace, they'd be working on it as regular Wikipedians. The process would provide a good transition for them, from students forced to be here, to Wikipedians choosing to stay.

If it's an existing article, they could ask on the article's talk page whether there are objections to moving in the new version and wait for someone there to do it. Or the education program could set up a board similar to the one we use for paid advocates, where students ask that their work be moved over. This would mean the students would not be forced to release their work, and could request its deletion from their userspace when the course ends. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:50, 9 December 2012 (UTC)

I'd be in favor of this, per my post above explaining the problems with these huge edits from sandbox, with the caveat that they should STILL notify the article talk page in advance that they are working in sandbox. It is the burden of going through an entire, usually faulty, sandbox article that is overwhelming. If we knew in advance they were working in sandbox, we could guide them, it would be a better experience for everyone, and we may end up with more salvageable, correctly sourced and written text. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:03, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict)For reasons I outlined above, if a requirement like this was put in place, I would stop participating in the 'formal' education program, and just do educational outreach on my own. For the classes that I personally work with, this would degrade the value proposition of the assignment for both the professors and students from their perspectives. I categorically oppose any requirement that treats student work differently from non-student work that applies to all educational assignments equally, although I would strongly support requirements (even much more strict requirements than this) that were applied only to classes that already had problems. Kevin Gorman (talk) 01:13, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
(ec with Kevin) The main change is that the students would be asked never to edit mainspace at all since I believe (campus ambassadors correct me if I'm wrong) that the advice given to professors new to the program is currently to use sandboxes initially.
SlimVirgin's proposal is consistent with the view that student edits to mainspace are on balance negative, in terms of both quality of articles and burden on editors. I am not convinced that this is true, but if it were true I would support this and would in fact have a hard time supporting the EP at all. I think this is the core issue, because if the edits are a net positive, we should work on ways to improve the positive and decrease the negative edits.
I think there is a risk of selection bias with critics of the EP who have encountered poor student work. Imagine someone whose only exposure to IP edits is vandal reversion; such an editor is more likely to support banning IP edits. Sandy in particular has medical and psychological articles on her watchlist and those appear to be areas in which students are doing very poorly. (Sandy, I'm not suggesting you haven't considered that point; I'm using you just as an example.) Someone whose only exposure to student edits was one of the more successful classes would be unlikely to come to this noticeboard to ask what could be done to restrict student editing.
Before we determine if a restriction such as SlimVirgin proposes is worth it, we have to try to decide (as we try with IP edits) whether the student edits are a net benefit to Wikipedia. Sandy and Colin have pointed out flaws in the analysis linked above: it's not easy to determine how much work is needed to revert an edit, so quantification of the burden is hard; and for medical articles and psychology articles, added text with a technical-looking reference may not be reverted because it's not recognized as a bad edit if no qualified people are watching the article. Pointing out that these mistakes in the analysis are possible doesn't allow us to fall back on anecdotal support for our positions, though. I would like us to really try to come to a consensus on whether the net of all student edits in a given semester is a positive or negative for Wikipedia. It seems to me that has to be the first step.
(Added after ec): I agree with Kevin that I would absolutely support this method, or stronger methods, for classes known to have problems. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:21, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Mike, I spent many hours tracking down the plagiarism for just a handful of articles on the course I mentioned above. It is extremely time-consuming. Some students are copy-pasting from websites, then going back later to tweak the writing a little so that if you do a Google search for the whole sentence it doesn't appear. And when it comes to books not previewable on Amazon or Google, you have to get them via inter-library loan. Very few Wikipedians would care enough to do this (and I hope anyone who has spent a lot of time on issues like this sends a bill to the university).
The work I did doesn't show up anywhere, and I suspect there's a huge amount of this going on. Bad edits appear on a Wikipedian's watchlist on an article they care about. They see it's education-program related, and therefore "protected." That means they're hesitant to revert outright, which is what would normally happen. And so they spend hours or days looking to see what can be salvaged, getting increasingly annoyed with the program and the Foundation. So what starts off as an outreach/editor retention program ends up discouraging the editors we already have. None of this is quantifiable. Necessarily, we have to rely on anecdotes. But there comes a point when anecdotes become data. SlimVirgin (talk) 01:46, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
@ Mike: just as the law class pointed out by Kevin is probably on the better end of the spectrum of student editing (see my post to Kevin on my talk [43] about the law articles he asked us to look at, above), Mike is right that what I encounter is probably on the worst end. Every Blooming Psych Class out there thinks that editing some obscure bizarre symptom of a tic disorder is sexy, but the reason those articles are stubs is because there is very little that can be said about klazomania, for example. Oh, gee-- compulsive shouting-- that sounds like a fun article! Then they find there are no good sources, so they load it up with junk. It looks better in the end than what was there, but what was there before was brief but accurate. This is happening across all psych articles, though-- I just happen to get the most bizarre because my watchlist is heavily weighted to Tourette syndrome. If the blooming profs would just ask, or get their students to tag article talk, we could point them to good sources in advance. See more on my talk, response to Kevin. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:04, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
I had a look at your talk page and agree that something targeted at either classes with problems or MEDRS/PSYCH classes (or both) might be a reasonable approach. What that something is, I don't know, but I agree sandboxes are a good suggestion. Like Kevin, though, I'd like to let the successes keep going as they are. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 04:11, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
I find myself agreeing with a lot of what SlimVirgin is saying, and experiencing lots of deja vu (as it appears does Sandy). However, I'm not keen on the totally-sandboxed approach. Part of the appeal of Wikipedia is instant publication to a huge audience. That's also the problem, though. I think it might also encourage students to entirely replace articles or sections rather than incorporate their changes into it (which often isn't a bad thing if the existing material is poor, but isn't the wiki way). It doesn't encourage the students to interact with other editors as they are isolated in their sandbox in userspace. Not that they do much interacting already, though. This means they aren't really working on a multi-user collaborative wiki, but merely writing a private article using some weird wikilinked markup language.
I don't think there are sufficient Wikipedians to act as gatekeepers for the publication step, nor would many of them have the resources (access to sources), time or inclination to do the role. Certainly in psych the ratio of students to wikipedians is very high, and if they cite some Canadian student textbook as their source then the chances anyone else has access to the source is essentially zero. I think most Wikipedians with standards would be unhappy about unleashing unpolished student prose on the world, and so would feel obliged to copyedit, wikilink and double-check the sources and possibly more. It would be quite a time-consuming task and one most Wikipedians would rather do on subjects they wrote themselves, or when working with a real Wikipedian who is requesting peer-review and actually intends to stick around for a while. In fact, it would be like a Wikipedian turning up at Peer Review with something they'd written, and instead of being guided into how they could improve the article and steered towards a better approach, they would then bugger off and expect the reviewer to finish the job for them.
We need to come back to the fundamental purpose of Wikipedia: to be an encyclopaedia, and the fundamental design of Wikipedia: a collaborative wiki. Wikipedia is not homework. The education program, if it is to serve WP's purpose, needs to align student edits and teaching supervision with that purpose and design. It seems clear to me the idea that volunteer Wikipedians would engage with the students in some synergistic way is busted. At the extreme, we have had classes who expect Wikipedian's to "mark" the work and thought that edit-retention would be a groovy way to judge whether a student had done good work, without the prof lifting a finger. I hope that's gone now. But I don't see evidence that supervisors are swiftly checking for plagiarism, nor that they would even know how to revert an article if they found some. It isn't trivial sometimes if left for a while and subsequent edits have taken place. If it is the case that Mike's team's analysis of student work/burden didn't check for plagiarism or MEDRS sourcing then I continue to think the jury is out on whether this programme is delivering any benefit to WP. One assumption I see repeated is that if the student added something that wasn't revertible then it must have improved the article. But sometimes all the student added was noise.
I don't really see how the student edit system can work unless the teacher and other supervisors are also Wikipedians. They need to be swiftly checking for plagiarism, for quality sourcing, for appropriateness of text. They need to know what makes a good article and what makes one suck. They need to have some personal appreciation for how to develop the existing wiki text into a better work. They need to know how to collaborate with other Wikipedians. Unless that happens, we've got the weird situation where the teachers are asking the students to do something they are personally incapable of doing, never mind doing to a higher standard so as to be able to judge. -- Colin°Talk 09:32, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
I'd like to correct one misapprehension. Colin is right that the quality and burden assessments have limitations, but I think it's not accurate to say that if a student edit is not reverted it's assumed to be positive. The quality assessment was a static assessment of the state of the article after the student's last edit. The content added by the student was evaluated to the extent that it was part of the article. If the student edits were poorly written or irrelevant the article would be expected to score lower. Assessors weren't required to check for plagiarism; when I assessed I occasionally did check, but usually did not (I never found any). I doubt if any assessors were MEDRS knowledgeable, so edits that violated MEDRS may have been scored as positive. For the burden assessment, every word of every student edit was looked at to see if it was beneficial as well as to see if it was reverted. I know little about MEDRS so I asked at WP:MED about some edits I thought might be in scope and got opinions on how to score those edits. However, there was no checking for plagiarism.
I think the limitations of the assessments are (a) they won't detect any plagiarism that might exist; (b) for complex cases they can't tell how much effort other editors put in to clean up student work; (c) they have difficulty with specialized topics such as medicine and psychology where an average editor can't easily assess the value of an edit. Of these, (a) is potentially the worst, since it is undetected, and I think we should try to estimate how widespread a problem it is. I've been thinking about SlimVirgin's comments on her experiences with finding and correcting plagiarism, and I think it would be worth checking a larger range of student edits, from the same sample set used in the burden and quality analysis, to see how much plagiarism was added there. If that analysis finds a significant amount of plagiarism or close paraphrasing I agree we have an issue that we have to fix. I'll try to set aside some time over the next couple of weeks to do a little of this analysis and will report back here. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:11, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
To truly check, you have to go back to the first edit where the text was added, which might be back in sandbox somewhere. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:25, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Mike, sorry my comment about the "not revertible == improvement" wasn't meant to be a comment on your team's quality analysis but was unfortunately positioned in my paragraph that it would look that way. I still think there was a tendency to equate more text = more comprehensive which isn't necessarily so. Wrt MEDRS, there's nothing special about that guideline so am puzzled if some of the problems medical wikipedian's see aren't widely repeated. I tend to think of MEDRS as mostly the application of WP:WEIGHT to a domain. Of all the kooky ideas people come up with wrt a subject, which ones deserve mentioning in this article? PubMed is wonderful but it means that folk have access to the primary literature and basic research in medicine from which essentially any conclusion or POV can be supported. Add to that the fact that academic writing (which the students are learning, and very often are told to practice on WP) cites the primary literature and frowns on citing the secondary literature (because it indicates the research wasn't thorough and the student writing and thoughts would not then be original). Add further that the undergraduate students are essentially ignorant of their subject. Mix together and you get a machine that generates superficially worthwhile text that when inserted improves its score. Then consider that often the added text is already present on Wikipedia in a better place in some other article. We end up with a higher score when in fact the reader is worse off. Colin°Talk 19:49, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Re: Colin's second paragraph, a case in point: this Canadian psych class that ended in April. Most of the students were working in sandboxes; most of the sandboxes are still there, but haven't been touched by anyone. Will anyone ever mainspace those pages? I won't, because a) I don't know the topic, so can't easily figure out what material should be added to mainspace, and b) most of the sources are offline, and where I can access them they'd be incredibly time-consuming to check. I recently mainspaced another student article on a topic I'm at least somewhat familiar with and with online sources, but it still took a lot of time to spotcheck and clean up, and even now it's not a very good article. Nikkimaria (talk) 14:57, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Remember too that the person inserting the text takes responsibility for it meeting our policy requirements. That's a heck of a burden that I certainly wouldn't want to pick up unless these students were laying golden eggs. Colin°Talk 19:54, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
I think you have it exactly right. It's ridiculous to have teachers asking students to do something they're incapable of doing themselves. Everything else flows from that, and until someone gets a handle on this the psychology articles will continue on their downward spiral towards ultimate crapiness. Malleus Fatuorum 20:29, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
  • In response to Kevin's and Colin's concerns, we could modify the proposal so that the students themselves move their articles over, if they want to, when the course has ended. This would mean:
  • no live publishing during the course;
  • students start new articles in userspace, and if editing an existing article copy and paste it over;
  • teachers assess the changes made to the sandbox;
  • when the course is over (or when the article has been graded), the students can decide what to do with it; they can request deletion or if they believe it's policy compliant can move it into mainspace;
  • students moving material over when a course has ended are doing so as regular Wikipedians, not as part of the education program; they alone are responsible for their edits at that point, and we treat those edits as we would any other.
SlimVirgin (talk) 03:02, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

Student papers in mainspace - is that really a good idea?[edit]

I recently stumbled across the idea behind this project - professors assigning students to write Wikipedia articles as part of their coursework. I came across it when one of the resulting articles was nominated for deletion. I have a real problem with the whole concept. I raised my concerns here Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Medicine#Brain-disabling psychiatric medical treatment, and several people have responded, including one who pointed me to this page. It seems to me that posting student term papers into Wikipedia mainspace violates several Wikipedia principles, including WP:ESSAY, WP:SYNTHESIS, and WP:OWN. (What happens to a student's work - and their grade - if someone comes along and does a major edit or rewrite, which is perfectly possible in mainspace?) A very good suggestion was made at that discussion, namely, that students should post their articles to WP:Articles for Creation instead of directly to mainspace. They would have much better control of their material there - they could "own" it - and only the articles which were really encyclopedic and about notable subjects would get promoted to mainspace. What do you all think of the AFC idea? --MelanieN (talk) 21:03, 5 December 2012 (UTC)

Violating Wikipedia policies is not a good idea, and no one condones it. See Wikipedia:Education Working Group/RfC for more reading. Biosthmors (talk) 21:12, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
AFC always has a massive backlog - I don't think it would be a good idea to increase the workload there. Calliopejen1 (talk) 21:13, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
Better to increase the workload in mainspace? --MelanieN (talk) 21:26, 5 December 2012 (UTC)
The ideal setup is that students draft content in their userspace, then consult an experienced Wikipedian (the ambassador for the course) before moving any content into articlespace. The edcuation program is trying to get more profs to adopt this method. The Interior (Talk) 21:39, 5 December 2012 (UTC)

There's a major difference between professors assigning students to write Wikipedia articles as part of their course work and professors having students posting term papers in mainspace. Most classes participating in the education program or otherwise using Wikipedia-based assignments recognize the difference between a Wikipedia article and a term paper and instruct their students accordingly. (I'd like to say all classes do, but in an open ecosystem that ideal will never be reached.) Many professors that I have worked with in the program have not only recognized the difference between an encyclopedic article and a research paper, but have been excited about having their students participate on Wikipedia specifically because of that difference. One class I worked with last semester dedicated around five hours of in-class time specifically to how to write in an encyclopedic style and to covering Wikipedia's important cultural norms and policies. That's way more training of that nature than any normal new non-student editor would receive.

In much the same way that not all new non-student editors are able to successfully create high (or even acceptable) quality content, not all student assignments are successful. Sometimes individual students' articles are bad. Sometimes this is because individual students have failed to pay attention to the instruction they have received, and sometimes this is because the quality of their instruction was poor (or, in some circumstances, both.) If a student posts an article that violates our normal content policies in a major way, then it should be handled in pretty much the same way as if a non-student posted an article that violated our normal content policies. If the problems are fixable via normal editing processes, then they should be fixed via normal editing processes in the same fashion a problematic non-student contribution would be fixed. If the problems aren't fixable via normal editing processes (for instance, if the topic is non-notable or is an unsalvageable violation of WP:ESSAY) then the articles can go through our ordinary deletion processes, including WP:AFD, WP:SD, etc. If the same student has recurring competence issues, then they can be blocked or banned in the same way as any other editor. I would suggest approaching someone's ambassador before going through most of these steps, in the same way that I would suggest approaching the mentor of an editor who had one before going through most of these steps. In the linked thread, you ask how someone can be aware that they're dealing with a student and thus that they shouldn't 'bite or be uncivil' to them if their articles are simply posted in mainspace. Biting and civility are not student specific issues. You don't have to know that you're dealing with a student in order to be civil to them or to avoid biting them, that's just what you should do with everyone by default.

Most instructors are perfectly aware that the content their students submit to Wikipedia can be edited by people other than their students. (Again, I'd like to say all, but in an open ecosystem some will always slip through the cracks.) Generally, professors keep this in mind when coming up with their grading metrics. For a decent number of professors, interaction with the community is an actual *desired* result. Since it's pretty easy to track (either via direct diffs or via one of the tools designed to do so) the exact contributions any particular student has made, subsequent editing by other users does not represent a substantial obstacle to grading individual students. Even if a student's article goes to AfD it can very easily be userfied by any administrator, which would allow for the instructor to still see what exactly each of their students did.

I generally agree with The Interior that it is a best practice for undergraduate students with no prior Wikipedia experience creating a new article to do so in a sandbox, and to run the article by their ambassador before moving it live. There are some professors who have had significant success without the use of sandboxes (like Brian Carver,) but mostly when dealing with graduate students. Kevin Gorman (talk) 06:17, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

  • I also disagree with the use of mainspace for these student essays. I had a recent experience of finding plagiarism in articles added by students belonging to the same course. I alerted the teacher, and he said that checking for plagiarism was not something he did. He suggested I handle it myself, and said he would give students who had posted copyvios an F. That left me in an awkward position. I don't want to be responsible for students failing (whether they deserve to or not), and checking for plagiarism is part of the teacher's job. To check all the articles would involve several days work spread over weeks, because I'd have to send off for the books via interlibrary loans, whereas the teacher has access to them in the university library.

    When 30 students are told to edit articles (not invited to volunteer), the teacher is essentially the editor of all 30 articles and ought to make sure that Wikipedia isn't harmed. Volunteers not connected to the university shouldn't have to sort out the problems. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:59, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

    I agree that the teacher should not assume that volunteers will do their work for them. Can you tell me the name of the course you're referring to? It would be useful to know which teachers have this attitude. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 18:05, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the links, SlimVirgin. That illustrates exactly the kind of thing I am concerned about. According to the assignments for that class, the article draft was created in the sandbox and was to be moved to mainspace in week 7. The students and professor expected - nay, demanded - that the draft remain in place in mainspace, unmolested by other Wikipedia editors, for the remaining 5 weeks of the class. During that time it was supposed to be peer-reviewed (by another student who knows nothing more about Wikipedia than the original student) but otherwise they wanted to WP:OWN it. When you tried to bring the article up to Wikipedia standards during that time, the professor reacted with indifference and the students with outrage.They made it clear that they didn't care about Wikipedia standards and expected you to "refrain from removing any more of this student's hard work" until the end of the semester. (The students even seem to be required to submit DYK and GA nominations for their articles - talk about burdening the system!) I think it is very inappropriate for the Education Program to use Wikipedia mainspace as the scratchpad for students while they complete their projects, and expect Wikipedia to leave inappropriate material posted in an international encyclopedia for a month or more until it suits their academic schedule to have it taken down. Sandbox or AFC would be the appropriate place for this kind of activity. --MelanieN (talk) 19:49, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
MelanieN, there might some confusion about the Education Program's role here. It doesn't encourage profs to do what these courses have done, and in no way does it promise profs/students a mainspace scratchpad for their work. What it does is try to influence educators using wikipedia to do so in the most beneficial, and least harmful, ways. I'm alarmed at this idea that student work should stay up just because it is student work. That's wrong, and professors who feel this way need to be strongly advised to stop treating wp as a publishing platform. It's good you've brought your concerns here. This is not how it is supposed to work. The Interior (Talk) 20:15, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
I see there was an inconclusive discussion earlier about setting up a separate foundation for the Education Program. If that happens, might it give them a better place for this kind of activity? Certainly it would be great to recruit a new generation of bright young editors to the Wiki projects, but I'd like to see a better way to accomplish it. --MelanieN (talk) 20:23, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
I think "might it give them a better place" would be better reworded "might it give Wikipedia better management". According to my understanding of where the WMF is going, it doesn't seem to want to make managing the education program a main priority. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. Biosthmors (talk) 20:37, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Melanie: I don't actually see any place where this professor has complained about their students work being edited. Could you post a diff to where they said something like this? (I actually see them thanking someone on their talk page for reverting a copyright violation.) Obviously if this is what their expectation was, their expectation was wrong. Any professor who expects their students' work to go unedited has not listened to what anyone involved in the education program has told them. Professors who have this expectation should have this expectation corrected. No one should feel under any obligation to listen to a professor who wants to WP:OWN their students' articles any more than they would feel about any other editor who has WP:OWN problems.

Wikipedia has tons of problematic editors. Most of them are non-students, but some of them are bound to be students. Problematic editors in the education program can be dealt with just like problematic editors outside of the education program. Protocol for dealing with copyright violations should be the same, student or non-student. If you're uncomfortable dealing with problematic students, post here when you find 'em, and let one of us deal with it. I have absolutely no problem being responsible for a student receiving a failing grade if they have plagiarized - I've done so before, in non-Wikipedia contexts. All of these students know why they shouldn't plagiarize, and know what to expect if they get caught doing so. (I'll be looking over the students from the linked class myself as I have time, though unfortunately as I have pneumonia and am in finals, that'll be limited this week. Normally, I'd have a lot more time available to do so.)

Remember that these students are new editors, and the content they produce should be compared more closely with the content that is produced by new editors not in the education program than with experienced editors. Mistakes are inevitable, but I think the overall quality of content of new student editors is higher than the overall quality of content of new non-student editors, and I don't think that new student editors are problem editors at a higher rate than new editors are in general.

For those of you wondering why I think assignments like this are not only appropriate, but actively worth advocating, take a look at the list of articles on Brian Carver's user page to see one reason. All of those articles have been improved by students from one professor's classes - and they're all encyclopedic, and many are of high quality. Kevin Gorman (talk) 00:39, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

The professor didn't complain about Wikipedia editing; in fact, he invited SlimVirgin to go ahead and deal with any copyvio issues she identified (while shrugging off any responsibility he might feel about students plagiarizing their papers via copy-and-paste).[44] It was another student (the "peer reviewer") who reverted SlimVirgin's edits and told her to leave the article alone.[45] --MelanieN (talk) 01:40, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict)Thanks for the clarifying diff. From what I can gather from what I've read about this so far, it definitely sounds like this was a poorly executed assignment. There have definitely been more of these than there should have been, especially in areas covered by WP:MEDRS. If no one else beats me to it, I'll approach the professor in a couple weeks asking them to modify their instructional design if they use a similar assignment again. There are definitely poorly executed assignments, and it's unfortunate and hopefully the number will reduce over time as more people use better and more refined instructional design. I still think that the benefits presented by the successes outweigh the failures though, and don't think that new student editors tend to perform any worse than new non-student editors, except maybe in terms of WP:OWN problems. I'll try to clear this classes contributions of any remaining copyvios in the near future. Plagiarism (especially close paraphrasing) is unfortunately a really big Wikipedia-wide problem, not at all limited to students (with the exception of the IEP.) In my experience, it tends to be less common among students, just because most professors do take academic integrity seriously. (I know of multiple failing grades awarded due to plagiarism in Wikipedia-based assignments, plus one student who may end up expelled - way more serious punishments than for the average Wikipedia editor.) Kevin Gorman (talk) 01:59, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
Kevin, in the plagiarism cases you're referring to, was it the teachers or Wikipedians who found it? SlimVirgin (talk) 02:07, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
I know of four cases offhand, across three classes. Two of the cases were caught by the professors involved. One of the cases I found and referred directly to the professor (I wasn't ambassadoring the course, but had previously talked to the professor for probably half an hour in person.) The last class was found by another Wikipedian, who sent it to me, and I forwarded it on to the professor. (I wasn't ambassadoring the course, but personally knew the professor well.)
As a student, instructor, and Wikipedian, intentional plagiarism is one of the few things that really sets me off. Things like close paraphrasing I can understand occasionally doing as a mistake, but shit like copying entire paragraphs makes me see red. If I become aware of any situation that involves a student at a US or Canadian university participating in a Wikipedia-based assignment who clearly commits intentional plagiarism, I will bring it to the attention of their professor. If their professor doesn't respond adequately, I will bring it to the attention of their departmenthead, and so on, until an appropriate response is received. And I guarantee that at any US or Canadian university, I will be able to provoke an appropriate response.
I understand why you would be hesitant to cause students to fail an assignment, and respect that. I'd feel that way too, if it involved something like them failing to follow WP:MEDRS. But plagiarism isn't something unique to Wikipedia, and any student in the US or Canada knows exactly what they're doing if they intentionally plagiarize. In the case of plagiarism, they're not innocent bystanders or anything of that nature. Kevin Gorman (talk) 03:14, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
I wonder whether they do know. In the cases I've seen they attribute the sources in footnotes, but then copy the source material word for word. Perhaps they think that's enough. The teacher didn't seem interested. I alerted him on November 23 on his talk page, and left some advice on his course page about in-text attribution, [46] and got no response to either. I posted again on November 26 and this time emailed him to alert him to the post. He responded by suggesting I deal with the copyvios myself. [47] I replied with more details, and he didn't respond. Perhaps he is atypical, but I've seen so many similar complaints from Wikipedians that I hesitate to assume that his course is out of the norm. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:35, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
It is typical (I would say universal, but I hate generalizations) for first semester freshmen in college in the United States to receive an explanation of what plagiarism is, and how to avoid it. In most places, it's an explanation they will hear more than once, including in subsequent years. At my school, every syllabus we're ever handed makes mention of it. Every other university that I've dealt directly with (admittedly, only about half a dozen) does so similarly. A quick poll on my personal facebook has people from an additional dozen US and Canada based schools saying that they have all received similar explanations, and no one saying they're school doesn't cover it. I have a really hard time believing that any student at an accredited US/Canadian university truly fails to understand that plagiarism is not okay.
His response to you does leave a lot to be desired, but I think you do understate it a little bit. He does specifically say that any student who is found to be a plagiarist - either by himself, or through Wikipedia's reporting processes - will receive an F on their project. It would be preferable if he looked through his students work himself fully, or had one of his GSI's/TA's/graders do so (and I'd also prefer the punishment to be more significant than that.) You said on his talk page that you had found multiple copyright violations in his students work, but you didn't specify where. Are the copyright violations still in place? If so, please send them to me. I would prefer to aggressively pursue the matter with him, but if you'd like, I'll simply remove the copyright violations. (I'll also be doing checks on his students articles myself, but may miss something, and don't have instant access to most of the physical sources to check vs those.) The other issues you bring up (what you perceive as using Wikipedians to do his own work) aren't addressed by his reply, but he does at least specifically state that there will be consequences for plagiarism. (And I'm not saying that those aren't valid issues, just pointing out his reply isn't as bad as it could have been.)
As I mentioned earlier, even ignoring the copyright stuff, I'll be emailing this guy in the next few weeks and asking him to change his instructional design to a better system or discontinue his assignment. Kevin Gorman (talk) 03:51, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I’ve followed this discussion with interest because I wanted to learn more about how the problems came about. I think there are two concerns here that the new Education Program needs to work on. First, the editing behavior of the students wasn’t up to WP standards, but not unexpected of new editors. Two, the sub-standard behavior was associated (adversely) with the WP Education Program, because there was a Professor and 41 students involved. However, when one examines the history, two things become evident. One, the Professor, although a Wikipedian for about a year had really only made edits to the Canada Education Program courses page and his user page. Although the professor knows how to edit WP technically, there’s little evidence that the Professor understands article editing norms. Also, there is little evidence, if any that the Professor was formally recruited by the WMF into the Education Program, but rather self-enrolled by merely adding his course to the course page. It would be interesting to learn how the Professor became associated with the Education Program. Second, although there are Online Ambassadors identified, there is little evidence that there was any serious mentoring of the Professor by the ambassadors. Since there was no identified Campus Ambassador, one must assume the Professor got zero face-to-face mentoring by an experienced Wikipedian. It can be difficult for even experienced Wikipedians to mentor even one new editor successfully, let alone having an inexperienced editor (the professor) responsible for managing the edits of 41 other new, inexperience editors in the context of highly constrained classroom time.

I agree completely with those above who say students are editors and every Wikipedian was a new editor at one time. I think it is also important to understand that the Education Programs are Outreach programs designed to improve content in WP because of the enormous untapped academic and scholarly resources within the higher education community. Many believe, as I do, that this type of outreach is essential for the future growth of WP. As this case shows, I think we all should take care not to indict the Education Program for problems like this, when there is little evidence that the Education Program had anything to do with causing the problems. --Mike Cline (talk) 02:58, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

Mike, there are some problems in principle with the way the education program has been handled. The universities are essentially freeloading if they're asking Wikipedians to do their work by checking student essays for plagiarism (or other quality issues), and anyone who ends up having to do it should really send the university in question a bill. The ethical issues are similar to those we face when dealing with paid editors, in that it's problematic to ask volunteers to clean up after people who are adding material on behalf of institutions or companies for personal gain.
We end up with a situation where the university benefits, the teacher benefits, the students benefit in theory (though I would question that in many cases), and the volunteers who are expected to fix up the edits don't benefit at all. So we either leave the edits in place and the damage remains, or we fix them and are made to feel overstretched and used. If editor retention is a major concern, that is a problem right there. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:06, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
Wikipedia as a whole does benefit though, even if individual volunteers don't. Individual volunteers on Wikipedia don't generally benefit from their volunteerism; they do it because it improves Wikipedia as a whole. The same arguments that have been made against the education program here could, for the most part, be used to argue that Wikipedia just shouldn't accept any new editors from any source whatsoever.
I do agree with you that there have been serious problems with certain aspects of the way in which the education program has been run so far. Some of them have been fixed, fixes are in progress for some of them, and some of them still haven't been addressed. The program has, unfortunately, placed excessive stress on certain groups of editors - especially the Indian Education Program - and that's something that's not sustainable. But, as a whole, I think that it's undeniable both that the program as a whole has improved Wikipedia's content, and that new editors brought in through this mechanism perform at least as well as those brought in through other ways. I do think that we should be more aggressive about preventing bad students (bad in the sense that they haven't received adequate instruction or haven't listened to it) from harming the encyclopedia - if I had an admin bit, I'd be going crazy on 24 hour blocks of disruptive students. (But sadly, I don't, and I doubt I would pass RfA.)
A lot of good work goes unhighlighted and unheralded. I'd encourage everyone here to take a look through some of the articles listed at User:Brianwc to see some of the higher quality content that the program has been producing. Kevin Gorman (talk) 03:25, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
I think the jury is out as to whether Wikipedia has benefited. In all the cases I have looked at (admittedly very few), the articles were harmed, either by very poor editing, or by what appeared to be good editing but which on closer inspection included plagiarism or unattributed close paraphrasing. (And when you find it in one part of an article, you have to assume it's elsewhere in that article too, but that is time-consuming to determine, especially when the sources are not online.) How many student recruits have become regular Wikipedians? And how many regular Wikipedians are feeling discouraged because of the time they've had to spend dealing with these issues? When you factor in the poor editing and the bad feeling, and the almost certainly tiny number of students who stay to become editors, I think it's difficult to argue that Wikipedia is benefiting.
My view is that the program is a wonderful idea in principle. But we have to insist on high standards from the teachers and the students (it's in the students' interests that we insist on high standards from them). Those high standards just aren't in evidence, though I will look now at the articles on Brianwc's page. Standards apart, the program also has to address the ethical issue of volunteers doing this work for nothing. That just isn't fair when others are doing it for personal gain. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:47, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
Two pages you might find useful are Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Research/Spring 2012 burden analysis, which is an attempt to determine the burden placed on Wikipedia editors by a representative sample of students for a given semester, and Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Research/Article quality/Results, which is an analysis of the quality of the work done by the students. These metrics aren't perfect, and I can give you a couple of criticisms of them if you are interested, but I believe they're worth looking at. I also think that there might be a selection bias with commentators on education program work, in that if a student makes a mess of an article, as some have done, then a Wikipedian watching that page is likely to go find out what is going on and comment negatively, whereas if a student does moderately good or better work, the edits are likely to be unnoticed, as are most decent edits. I think to evaluate the program the whole set of courses and students need to be looked on, or there is a risk of coming to conclusions on the basis of anecdotal evidence. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 03:56, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
Heh, I editconflicted with you trying to post the same set of links. Thanks for working on the first one so much Mike, I hadn't encountered it before a few days ago and have found it very interesting. @Slim: I insist on high standards for professors that I personally work with, and am setting up an on the ground structure in my university that should eventually result in a very high number of classes participating, and hopefully, universally acceptable results. Looking at Mike's table, one of my gut feelings is confirmed: that problems are generally confined to specific courses, instead of spread throughout the program evenly. I disagree with the framing of the ethical issue you perceive, but I do understand where you're coming from. I'm working on a blog-post type thing that will be dealing in part with it, so I'll refrain from trying to address it briefly for now. Kevin Gorman (talk) 04:05, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
Looking at the first link, it looks only at edits, and doesn't indicate how time spent on clean-up was determined. A person might make edits stretching over five minutes that took hours to prepare (looking up sources, for example). It also doesn't factor in time spent searching for copyvios, alerting the teachers, and posting in discussions like this one. The burden is not light, and it shouldn't be there at all.
The universities are paid to host these courses, the teachers are paid to teach them, the students are paid in the form of course credits, but then unpaid volunteers are expected to make editorial decisions about whether to retain the work, which can involve hours or days of clean-up, or to allow damage to a valuable public resource if the clean-up isn't performed. This is a similar ethical situation to a company polluting a river, but not paying for clean-up, or paying only in part while relying on volunteers to do a lot of the work. Kevin, I take your point that the poor editing may be limited to certain courses, but I hope they aren't allowed to take part again once that has been established. But whether the edits are good or bad, the ethical issue of the burden on volunteers remains. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:25, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
There's currently no mechanism through which we can prevent a class from editing Wikipedia. We could theoretically group-block them, but I don't think Wikipedia has ever blocked categorically a group of people who haven't done individual wrong - even the sanctions related to scientology or to the men's rights movement don't block whole groups of people in such a fashion. There's also the problem that we have no way of knowing when a class is even editing Wikipedia in the first place, if they don't use the course page setup. As an example of this, to my bewilderment, I found out this semester that a class at Berkeley had been using Wikipedia-based assignments for at least three semesters without any formal support, without using the course page setup, and without me (or any of the other people involved in education program stuff at Berkeley) having any idea that they had been doing so.
I have refused to support classes before if I thought their professors didn't have an adequate comprehension of what would be required for a successful assignment, and I've actively (and successfully) discouraged multiple professors from using Wikipedia based assignments, but unless we close public registration, we can't actually prevent a class from using a Wikipedia-based assignment. Kevin Gorman (talk) 04:34, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
They could surely be prevented from saying they're part of the education program, and from using its facilities. I thought everyone who was part of that program had to register their courses. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:39, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
The education program, with the exception of the new course interface (and I'm not actually sure offhand if that's actually even launched yet) doesn't really have any 'facilities' to speak of. It offers reuseable handouts and some other resources, but we couldn't stop them from using them. It offers ambassador support, but pretty much all of the really bad classes don't use ambassador support and thus wouldn't be effected by that anyway. They could be prevented from saying "We're part of the Wikimedia Foundation's Global Education Program," but I don't think that would be a very big deterrent to anyone who still wanted to participate. Kevin Gorman (talk) 04:43, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
(ec) SlimVirgin, I don't think I follow your argument -- can you clarify? You say the burden analysis looks only at edits, but the column headed "Response" describes the response that other Wikipedians made to that edit. For example, if the edit introduced poorly formatted text, the Response column might say "Clean up formatting issues". That column is intended to summarize the burden laid on the editing community from the students' work. It's true that I couldn't determine how much time was spent by other editors on reviewing the posts and then doing whatever they did, but I think in most cases it's not hard to tell what the burden was. Where there is copyvio, I agree it can take hours to find and fix, and the table doesn't quantify that, so if that's your point I agree (though not much copyvio was found -- I think only one student of the seventy-odd in the burden analysis was adding copyright material).
However, I think the comparison should be to new editors in general. We agree that if a course provides nothing but negative outcomes and burden for the volunteer community, that course is a net negative and shouldn't repeat (though as Kevin says the education program has no power over these classes -- it's just a support group); and that if a course provides good articles and no burden, then that course is a net positive. Where do you draw the line in between? I think that a few formatting errors and bare reference links would be a small price to pay for a worthwhile paragraph or article, for example.
I don't know exactly where the line should be drawn, but I think it's a discussion worth having. For the students in the assessments linked above, for example, I think two courses are clearly negative, and another three or four are dubious. The majority of the classes seem to be a net positive to Wikipedia, though; I'd say at least two thirds were net assets. The ones that aren't assets -- yes, we should be in contact with them and explain the problem to those professors, and discourage them from running classes until the problems are fixed. I don't see how we force them to stop, though, unless we block the students. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 05:03, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
@ Slimvirgin, this is an interesting and important discussion because of the implications related to the fundamental principles of WP. Let’s just say for sake of discussion that there was community consensus that everyday WP editors shouldn’t be burdened with correcting the missteps of students/professors who are using WP in the classroom. What could or might the community do about it? On one hand, the community could attribute the problem to Outreach Efforts and insist that WMF Outreach to groups such as Academia be halted. This wouldn’t eliminate the problem, but it certainly would remove any type of encouragement that would amplify more instances of the problem. Another possibility would be to sanction and prevent (through bans and blocks I guess) anyone associated with a student/professor classroom project from editing WP if that editing was for classwork credit. I don’t see how these sanctions could be preemptive, but they certainly could occur at the first instance the sanctioned class of editors started editing. A third possibility, which would have to be enforced with elements of the second, would be to clearly state in our WP principles that editing by students and use of Wikipedia in the classroom is discouraged and will be reverted when discovered. These might be plausible remedies, but highly unlikely because they are in fundamental conflict with the founding principles of WP, the Five Pillars, and WMF strategic goals. WMF Outreach programs became necessary because of downward trend in content quality, scope and editor retention. Without Outreach to new communities of potential editors and new content, WP will slowly wither. The 3rd pillar of the five is very clear that WP content can be edited and used by anyone without exception. Are we to say that’s true with the exception that academia can’t use WP as a tool in the classroom because of the burden. Wouldn’t it then be a slippery slope for anyone to start sanctioning other uses of WP if they thought those uses burdened the WP editing community. I don’t think Outreach efforts are going away, nor do I think that the community will tolerate anything that fundamentally violates our Five Pillars, so that leaves us with a dilemma. The dilemma being how do we accomplish Outreach into communities such as academia that will generate a net positive result for WP without compromising our basic principles? --Mike Cline (talk) 05:16, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

I find it troubling that SlimVirgin and MelanieN are raising the same issues that many medical editors have been raising here and everywhere for several years, and getting the same pat answers and faulty data analysis in response. (See Colin's data analysis, which differs from the WMF data analysis-- I have been told that WMF's analyses fail to look for or account for plagiarism at all.) Plagiarism and copyvio by students are still rampant, we have many instructors who have never edited Wikipedia and can't explain Wikipedia policies to their students anyway, we have classes editing articles without tagging article talk which would help us know which professor to contact, we have term-end crunch revert wars, we have established editors having to clean up multiple essays at the end of every term, we are not gaining new editors via outreach because the students are only here for a grade and rarely continue editing after the class ends, the students don't know correct sourcing or indeed most Wikipedia policies ... in other words, all still the same, and yet Slim and Melanie are getting the same pat answers we medical editors have been given for several years now. Student editing under profs who have no knowledge of Wikipedia forcing students to edit a project that they have no long-term commitment to is a problem and it's getting worse, not better. Why is the approach/response here unchanged and why is the problem downplayed in light of Slim's and Melanie's concerns? I was previously given to believe it's a big problem in the psych realm but there were less problems in other content areas: from the examples here, that doesn't seem to be the case. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:18, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for fixing my wayward character that broke the header. I'm also troubled by the notion, oft-repeated here, that student editors should be handled no differently than other new editors. Other new editors are not here for a grade, are motivated to become better editors, will not disappear once their grade is in (often leaving questions unanswered about sourcing, plagiarism, etc), are not being given incomplete and faulty instruction in how to edit from professors who have never edited rather are more prone to seek accurate guidance from knowledgeable established editors, are not likely to have peers who will edit war for them, are not as likely to be part of large collaborations to reinforce each other's work, will be quickly dealt with if they plagiarize, and their faulty edits are not protected by WMF-staff-supported programs that seem to value recruiting new editors (which would have merit if it was working, it's not) over the goal of retaining established editors and making good use of their time and knowledge. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:41, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
@Mike, you don't seem to have been hearing what we are saying. In your list of (heavy-handed and obviously unsuitable) options for dealing with the problem, you left out the option I and others keep suggesting here: retain the student program, expand it, encourage it - but not in mainspace! Let them create and improve and "own" their class projects, but in AfC or sandbox or some newly created area. After the class is over (so that the ownership issue goes away and we can deal with the articles straightforwardly, without being given a guilt trip about some poor student's classwork), let the articles be reviewed by a regular Wikipedia editor and the good ones promoted to mainspace. Or promote them all to mainspace but take away the "student" tag, so that we can handle them as we would any other new article. What we have now is a situation where articles are being created that are in some kind of "untouchable" special category, and we are being told to keep hands-off until the end of the semester. That makes perfect sense from an academic standpoint, but it's an impossible situation in articlespace. --MelanieN (talk) 15:41, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
Melanie, I don't think anyone here is suggesting that it's OK for student articles to be untouchable in any sense. That's unacceptable, and I think Mike Cline, Kevin, The Interior, and everyone else who's commented here would agree. I would think the Wikipedians who work with the Education Program completely agree with all the criticisms that have been made of the individual student edits that have been pointed out as having copyvio, or being badly written, or inappropriately claiming exemptions from cleanup -- why would we not agree? If you find anyone defending bad student work, please post links here and I and others will try to help fix the problem. As far as I can see, the question is what should be done about it. The EP is a group of editors who are trying to improve these interactions with students; it's very helpful to hear about problems because then we can go investigate and try to teach the prof and students how to do things better next time. Is there more you think we should be doing at this point? We'd like to stop the problems as much as anyone does; more so, probably, as we've invested time in trying to make these classes successful. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:49, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
True, no-one HERE is suggesting that student articles are off limits - that's not policy. But that IS the expectation of the students, as illustrated in at least one case above. And the students have a point: this is their work, they will be graded on it, they "worked hard" on it; how are they supposed to feel when some stranger comes along and starts removing parts of their paper, or nominating it for deletion? Of course they object - which just illustrates my point that student work-in-progress does not belong on an open-source wiki.
I think one possible approach would be to recognize that some professors are doing a much better job on this than others. There are examples of both in this very thread. Some professors are carefully training and supervising their students, and by all accounts the results are praiseworthy. Other professors are simply throwing the students at Wikipedia, with minimal training and no supervision, sloughing off the supervision onto student "peer reviewers" and regular Wikipedia editors. The chart above could help to identify the "problem professors"; so could individual instances when they come to light. How about telling the "problem professors" to keep their students' articles in sandboxes or some equivalent area, while leaving alone the professors that are doing a good job? And BTW I think it should NOT be a requirement of any class that the student articles all be nominated for DYK and GA; that's just ridiculous, and if actually done would create an enormous burden on already understaffed areas. --MelanieN (talk) 16:14, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
We might be converging on agreement here; I agree with almost everything you say. I'd just add that we can tell the problem professors what to do, but we have no power to enforce it. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:25, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
We agree that some professors/classes might be causing problems. I have not heard your thoughts on the notion that student work-in-progress (good or bad) simply does not belong in the articlespace of an open-source wiki. --MelanieN (talk) 16:36, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
Work in progress, by students or anyone else, doesn't belong in the article space of an open-source wiki. I can't imagine any experienced editor disagreeing with that either. I don't interpret this to mean that students should never edit mainspace, though; I think they need to only post material to mainspace that is good enough to post. Some classes (take a look at the Rice University ones in the lists above, for example) typically work in sandboxes till the work is good enough to go into mainspace, and then they move or copy it in. I think that's a fine approach. Some classes have been successful with editing articles directly, because the students have made good edits. I think that's OK too -- I wouldn't want to (and couldn't) forbid a class from taking that approach. If a class does that, and in fact the edits are bad, they should be reverted and the professor should get feedback -- and if that class received support from the EP, the EP should look to see if anything went wrong with the support provided. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:48, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict)I, like Mike, agree with most of your previous post. DYK/GAN shouldn't be a requirement of an assignment; some professors are doing well, some poorly; professors who do poorly should be encouraged to use sandboxes. Although we have no current power to enforce it, if someone made a proposal, I would consider supporting some sort of specialized community sanctions whereby any class that has had X number of students commit out and out copyright infringement would have their contributions forcibly relegated to sandboxes. (I'd also probably support a suggestion that any class that edits on topic issues covered by WP:MEDRS that has had X number of students use woefully shitty sources have their contributions sandboxed, if necessary forcibly via community sanctions.)
I don't agree that student work categorically doesn't belong in articlespace. Much student work happens in article space without any problems associated with it. Students and professors cannot have the expectation that their work stands untouched, and if they have that expectation, it should be corrected. The faculty I have worked with in the past have always been 100% aware of the possibility of community interaction with their students or of other people actively changing their students' work, and most of them have viewed it as an active positive about using Wikipedia-based assignments. I see no incompatibility between student work and articlespace. If students are creating new articles then, like any other Wikipedia editor creating new articles, they shouldn't be moved in to articlespace until they are in 'good enough' shape. Kevin Gorman (talk) 16:58, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
I have just been pointed to this discussion from my involvement with Wikimedia UK. I have been active on Wikiversity for over two years. I do not understand why the material which is unsuitable for WP is not moved to or developed on Wikiversity?Leutha (talk) 08:57, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
Good idea. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:40, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

keeping track of students[edit]

I can usually glean a useful sentence or three from entire student essays; if these largely unuseful essays were left in Sandbox, with a link to the sandbox posted on article talk at term-end, it would take me much less time to pick out the one or two useful sentences then it takes me to remove all of the blather and explain why on talk (explaining, that is, to students and professors who will never read the explanation or learn from it). But, a bigger problem is still that most often classes never tag article talk, so we have no way of contacting the professor even when plagiarism is found or the students have not been instructed in correct sourcing. The way I usually realize I'm being hit by student edits is when they all start appearing on my watchlist shortly before Thanksgiving, they never engage on talk, and they revert their faulty edits back in to the article time and again, desperate that their grade not be affected. Even then, I can't always locate the professor, or get the student to engage on talk. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:49, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
Beginning next term, classes in the education program (and probably a few others as well, if we can catch them early) will use semi-automated course pages with the new extension (which is live now). That should make it easier to figure out which classes students are part of and who the instructor is, find which articles they and their classmates plan to edit, and head off class-wide problems early (and in worst-case scenarios, shut down classes that are hurting more than helping the project).--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:55, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
Can there also be an effort to get them to tag article talk pages? That would allow me (at least) to better guide their efforts as they work, make sure they are using adequate (medical) sources, make sure their work stays on topic (they frequently write essays with content that wouldn't belong in the article even in the correct tone), and avoid me having to spend every Thanksgiving repairing articles. If the students are to learn something and have a good experience, getting some guidance along the way might help. When their first edits show up in article space the week before Thanksgiving, timing for helping guide them isn't optimal. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:35, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
The idea with the extension is to make it so no special effort is needed to track which articles students are working on (since the ones with the significant problems are typically also the ones that don't get tagged because the people involved aren't as well-trained or connected with experienced editors as most). So I think most classes won't be using talk page banners at all. (Only the Canada ones are this term, for the most part, as the US ones moved to a more basic course page layout.) But a watchlist entry will appear whenever a student signs up to work on an article you are watching (and there is a log entry for the page showing when they added it and which class they are in, so if you miss it in your watchlist but later realize a student is making edits, it will be easy to track down the relevant details).--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:49, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
My apologies, but I didn't follow that at all. When a student signs up on a course page to edit a topic that I watchlist, how will my watchlist be triggered until/unless the student edits the article page, which typically doesn't happen until term-end? For that to happen would seem to involve some major new software. The topics I watchlist are hit massively by psych and neuroscience courses that I don't even know exist. Unless there is some software change, you seem to be saying I have to watchlist every course project. Confused, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:56, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
The short answer is: yes, new software! :-) There's a new extension which is (as of a few weeks ago) deployed and functional on en-wiki (although not in use by any classes yet, since it deployed too late to be useful this term). See Wikipedia:Course pages for the (in development) description of how it works. Basically, users with the enrollment code for the class can sign up on a course page as students, and then add articles they are working on with a form. That creates a log entry for the page, which will appear on your watchlist if you are watching the article. So there's no need to watch course pages; if a student signs up for an article on your watchlist through their course page, you'll see an entry in your watchlist (just like you would if someone protected the page or did something else that creates a log entry).--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:07, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
That's cool! Thanks for explaining. So, the next problem is and will be-- students frequently create new articles that shouldn't be articles (either AFD'd or text coulda/shoulda been added to an existing article). Since I won't have those watchlisted, I won't know about them until someone tries to link them back to an article I do watchlist. And, this won't help solve the significant number of courses that are now using us as unpaid TAs without ever registering a course page. The notion that MOST (posts to the contrary on this page notwithstanding) of the profs do not check for plagiarism, be it checking diffs or talk pages-- but expect us to go out and find the sources and do it, and Every Single Student article I have dealt with has plagiarism-- is one of the most irksome aspects. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:14, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
Hopefully, we can add features to the extension over time that will make it easier to handle classes. Of course, for stealth assignments that have no course page, it's hard to do anything comprehensive, but at least we can point people to the extension once we discover them and say "if you want to do an assignment, you should use this". (Course pages are an absolute requirement for participating in the Education Program.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:24, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
Is there a template for pointing profs to the extension? Or better yet, since most of the students I encounter never edit a course page, so I can't locate a prof anwyay, is there a template for querying an editor if they are part of a course and asking them what course, what prof, etc, and also pointing them to the extension? I have sometimes later located the prof because other editors happened to know it was student editing, and pinged my talk to let me know; if we had a template to bring these folks on board earlier, it would help. Maybe-- considering that the students rarely engage on talk anyway ... SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:33, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
There's not a template for either situation yet, but those both sound like good ideas.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:36, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Note that while these aren't geared toward exactly the purpose you had in mind, we have these: {{welcome teacher}} and {{welcome student}}. Maybe the best approach would be to edit those make them useful for situations where you're trying to figure out what the student or professor is up to. I'm not sure how widely they are used, but I know at least that User:Pharaoh of the Wizards uses them pretty regularly.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:13, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

Two questions[edit]

First, as the point of the program seems to have been to find new editors, can someone say how many students have stayed on to become regular Wikipedians?

Also, I'm confused about the status of the program. It seems to have official status. An enormous amount of money has been spent on it, I believe it has its own namespace, its own templates, and Foundation employees dedicated to overseeing it, and it extends a protective mantle over its participants (which is one of the reasons the students can't be compared to regular new editors). Yet when I asked above whether poorly administered courses could be excluded in future, Kevin said no, anyone can set up a course and there is no way to stop them from registering as part of the program. So the question is: given that this program has some form of official recognition, why are the people overseeing not able to deny registration to institutions that perform under par? SlimVirgin (talk) 03:25, 8 December 2012 (UTC)

I don't have numbers regarding editor retention, although I'm sure someone does. I would not call that one of the primary points of the program anyway though. (As a sidenote, I am an example of a student who stayed on to become a regular Wikipedian.)
I'm sure, as I said above, that we could prevent someone from saying "We're part of the Wikimedia Foundation's Global Education Program." And now that the new education extension is launching for the next semester, they could be excluded from being able to use that. And they can be denied ambassadorial support. But outside of those three things, there is no existing mechanic to prevent a course from using a Wikipedia-based assignment. Most of the most problematic courses already don't have ambassadorial support (that's generally part of the reason why they're problematic.) And since the education extension is brand new, not being able to use it is not going to serve as a huge disincentive. And like I said I don't think that being unable to say "We're part of the Wikimedia Foundation's Global Education Program" is going to be very much of a disincentive, either.
Do you have a useful suggestion as to how poorly performing institutions could be handled? It's definitely a problem in need of an answer. Kevin Gorman (talk) 03:52, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
I'm not talking only about the new extension. The courses all use special templates that were created for them, they have access to ambassadors, they have Foundation staff who support them and who ask editors to review GA nominations for them. They could be excluded from access to any of that paraphernalia if not registered with the program. Allowing anyone to register seems to be giving the program a bad name, and it's not in the students' interests that they be allowed to add two paragraphs of poorly written (or plagiarized) material to an article they have no interest in, and call that an assignment. It's surely in everyone's interests that the Foundation (or the program or whoever is running this now) not facilitate that.
As for how to handle poorly performing institutions, I would suggest (a) asking everyone editing as part of the program to post their essays on user subpages as suggested above, and (if they want to) ask Wikipedians to move material to mainspace once the course is over; and (2) where there are persistent requests to move plagiarized material over, that teacher will be asked not to register any more courses with the program. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:23, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
I'm going to split your points into bullets since the replies vary; I hope I captured everything from your post.
  • Special templates: Are you referring to things like {{WAP assignment}}? If so, the only thing I can see that could be done for a poorly performing institution is to remove any template that had the imprimatur of the education program and replace it with a generic template indicating that the article is being edited by students; of course that could (and should be done). If you're also talking about the resources that were put into creating the templates, I don't know who built them, but I would be surprised if foundation staff have done much template building (unless it was someone like Sage Ross).
  • access to ambassadors: Well, we can't stop ambassadors from helping anyone they want to help, but I agree that a poorly performing institution should not be listed as a possible course for ambassadors to help; there should be no facilitation by the EP.
  • Foundation staff who support them: I can think of two or three ways to interpret this. Foundation staff do things like create brochures for classes to use -- see here for example. They provide training to campus ambassadors who are usually staff members or students at the institution in question. If an instructor at a poorly performing institution asked for support from the Foundation I would regard that as an opportunity to improve the situation. Someone with more knowledge of what the Foundation actually does with individual campuses should probably answer this, but I agree that no Foundation resources should go to uncooperative poorly performing institutions.
  • ask editors to review GA nominations for them: I haven't seen this, and I don't think it should be happening for any student classes, let alone poorly performing ones. The professor I am working with this autumn instructs her students only to submit to GA if they are willing to commit to following up after the end of the semester, and working with the reviewer to complete the changes to the article. They don't ask for any acceleration of the review. I think that's the appropriate way to do it. If an ambassador wants to review a student's GA ahead of others listed, that's up to them, of course. You didn't mention DYK but I might as well add that I'm not in favour of students applying for DYK at all, and certainly not for course credit -- I think shepherding a successful DYK nomination requires more experience and time commitment on the part of the student than the students and professors typically realize.
  • allowing anyone to register: I believe there's a statement all professors are asked to sign before they can participate, outlining expected norms of behaviour for them and their students. I can't locate it; perhaps someone else can post a link, assuming I'm right and it's still in use. If I'm right about this, then there is a filter on registration. I don't know if there's any enforcement at this point -- that is, if an institution fails to adhere to the students, are they denied registration next year? I agree that something along those lines is necessary.
I don't agree that all students should be asked to do all their work on user subpages. It's a good plan for new articles, and for students with less confidence (or ability), but many students do just fine with direct editing of articles. I agree that any class that does poorly should be asked to do work in sandboxes first. And I agree that persistent plagiarism is about the worst possible red flag we could see. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:55, 8 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the detailed response. We seem to agree on a lot. I used the term "paraphernalia" because I'm not familiar with all the things that have been made available to the program. I see templates, portals, coordinators, Foundation staff, and ambassadors. I'm arguing that this support network should only be made available to universities that register courses formally with the program, that to register they have to agree to abide by certain rules (one of which would be to avoid damaging the encyclopaedia or increasing the workload of Wikipedians not involved with the program), and that if they violate the agreement they're not allowed to register courses again.
Here is Sage requesting GA reviews. [48] This is at a time when we already have GA backlogs and few reviewers. I don't think it should be up to ambassadors (as you wrote above) to decide whether to ask for GA reviews for students ahead of others; they should be asked not to do this for all the obvious reasons. Ditto with DYK. And I think teachers should be asked not to use student peer reviewers, because they seem only to tell each other how good their work is, when it really isn't.
I feel that what's missing here is looking at it from the students' point of view, and what's in their interests. It's in their interests to get a good education, which in the case of students who are struggling with writing and research skills means good teaching. It isn't in their interests to be left to get on with writing an article for Wikipedia, being allowed to add plagiarism and use websites as sources, being told by student peer reviewers that they've done a good job, or being taught how to write by anonymous volunteers on the Internet. So it's in everyone's interests here (Foundation, universities, students, Wikipedia and Wikipedians) that we work toward higher standards.
As for using sandboxes, I'll reply to that in a different thread. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:08, 9 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, Mike and SlimVirgin. In terms of retention as a goal of the program, from the Wikimedia Foundation perspective, turning students into Wikipedians has never been a focus of the these projects. It's been clear from early on that even most of the students who do solid work simply don't have that Wikipedian bug inside them, and the retention rate has been fairly low from the beginning. The goal instead has been mainly to improve content. To that end, we do consider retention of professors as a key goal: as they build up experience, become very familiar with Wikipedia's coverage in their area of expertise, and become invested in the community over the long term, that's when—through their students—we see the most improvement in Wikipedia article quality.
For GAs (and DYKs), we now explicitly recommend against making them any sort of requirement for students. Instead, we suggest them as possibilities for particular outstanding student work, with consultation with an experienced Wikipedian before nomination to make sure it's good enough to make a nomination worthwhile (for both the student and the community). This term, that ecology class did end up having GA nomination as part of the syllabus (whoops!), but since the student work was (to my eye) actually quite strong and they had some time left in their timeline, I figured why not make the best of it? From what I've seen, the reviews that did get done (which I don't think my post here had anything to do with) have led to nice further improvements in the articles, so they haven't been wasted effort.
For classes that want to be part of the US or Canada Education Program, professors go through screening and assignment design consultation (typically with Jami Mathewson of WMF and/or Regional Ambassadors who are familiar with best practices for Wikipedia assignments) before they are admitted. Of course, anyone can do something like this on their own, and we are trying to develop as robust a set of self-service support resources as we can. But in terms of active support, that's limited to Education Program participants. We have many cases where the Education Program declines to work with professors, or doesn't let them continue after a first term, if they aren't willing to follow the guidelines or modify their plans to fix problems.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:22, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for this info-- now I know where to focus my efforts (on the problematic professors). But, again, it's hard to identify them when the students rarely tag article talk and there is often no indication of what class, what prof, etc (although it eventually comes to light sometimes). We need a polite template for querying new editors who suddenly drop in a big sandbox edit and have no other interaction with the Project whether they are part of a class (we already discussed that). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:46, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
See above. We do have a basic welcome template for students. That could be edited to more specifically address common issues with new users who seem to be students but you can't tell what they are working on or who they are working with.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:15, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

Please share your wisdom at a new essay[edit]

Instead of having all these thoughts shared and then lost to an archive, please share them at WP:Assignments for student editors (WP:AFSE or WP:A4SE). Best. Biosthmors (talk) 16:42, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

Also Wikipedia:Recruiting those in academia (WP:RECRUIT or WP:RECRUITING). Biosthmors (talk) 19:22, 11 December 2012 (UTC) Moved to Wikipedia:Recruiting subject-matter experts. Biosthmors (talk) 23:04, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

I'm very glad you've started these essays, and I've put AFSE on my watchlist and I'll contribute to it when I can.
About recruiting faculty, I'd like to make some comments here. I think I have some insights into it, having long been a professor at a large US university, who did large amounts of undergraduate teaching, so I have a lot of first-hand experience with what really is attractive or unattractive to faculty members professionally, and these things seem to me to relate very directly (but not obviously) to a lot of the concerns expressed on this page. There's a kind of split personality in the higher education industry, especially in the sciences, with respect to what advances one's career. To whatever extent one's university requires teaching, you have to do it, but you get essentially zero reward for it, no matter how much of a time drain it is (and it's huge: just consider what it takes to clean up a bad page here, and multiply it by the numbers of students in the class). The rewards are all in research, and particularly how much grant money you bring in. The university wants to boast about what a dedicated teacher you are, but they'll penalize you if that teaching effort means that your grant proposal doesn't get funded.
As a result, there is tremendous pressure on instructors to find ways to save time in teaching. For classes showing up here on Wikipedia, instructors will be one of two types: (1) tenured or tenure-track, looking for ways to teach a class without needing to spend a lot of time on it, or (2) non-tenure track faculty, who have huge teaching loads and disgracefully low pay levels. The very limited rewards for teaching tend to depend on being able to point to something flashy, a sort of sound bite, rather than anything that really reflects student learning, so being able to say "I taught a class on Wikipedia, and each student wrote an article!" sounds great at year-end reviews. But if you can set the students loose on Wikipedia and not have to spend a lot of time supervising them, that feels like icing on the cake, whichever of those two faculty groups you are in.
Above, other editors very accurately talked about instructors using editors here as unpaid TAs. That's exactly what's happening, and the incentives to do so are pretty hard to resist. Unfortunately, that's the real incentive for professors to use this program. They won't tell you/us that, but it's what they are thinking. That professor who said that they wouldn't bother to check student pages for plagiarism, but would flunk any plagiarists that we find, is Exhibit A, and really makes my blood boil.
Sorry, I know this sounds very dyspeptic, but I'm certain of it. That said, I've interacted with professors here who were very clear in telling students at the beginning of the semester that the students need to understand Wikipedia's rules, and that Wikipedia's rules always trump the class rules. I also recently gave one student a barnstar because she was so conscientious about editing correctly (and in thanking me, she actually said that she would never want to have left anything that I would have to clean up!). So, I've definitely had some good experiences. But I've also had the same bad experiences that others here have described. I think we need to understand these things in order to be able to figure out how to deal with them. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:36, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Insightful, thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 23:01, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Yes this is why I have concerns with this program. I want to write content myself rather than spend all my time fixing / correcting students. If the prof is not engaged (ie has edited Wikipedia significantly themselves) than they should not be bringing their class. Dr. Murray was a Wikipedia and because of that he succeeded. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 17:09, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

a possible problem[edit]

Some of the instructions professors give seem like they are contrary to wikipedia practices.

For example, for Wikipedia:USEP/Courses/Cognition and the Arts (Greta Munger) Assignment one:

Partners will update sections of Psychology of art page to reflect recent psychological research.

Isn't there a danger such instructions will send a flock of new students to that article who will introduce material that won't follow WP:MEDRS? e.g. recent primary research? MathewTownsend (talk) 18:46, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

Mutliple problem such as the one you highlight are appearing in psych articles. First, that advice breaches WP:MEDRS, WP:NOTNEWS and WP:RECENTISM. But more significantly, there have been psych articles where it is apparent that students are being used to promote a POV-- possibly a professor's research or POV. Sorry, too many articles over the last few years for me to remember where I saw this occurring, and I don't think I'd be comfortable pointing the finger anyway ... SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:52, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
As you may remember, I toyed recently with the idea of improving one particular psychology article until I was stalled by the contributions of a no doubt well-intentioned student who found it difficult to grasp the distinction between primary and secondary sources. It may well get me blocked again, but come the new year and a new semester I plan to have a good old hack at that article, come what may. Where has this strange idea come from that undergraduate students are in any sense experts? If they were experts they wouldn't be on an undergraduate course. I have a BSc in psychology, and in no way consider myself to be an expert, but at least I completed the bloody course and passed my final exams. Malleus Fatuorum 20:26, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

Ethical issues[edit]

There are a number of ethical issues involved here, and I wonder whether the ethics committees of the universities have been consulted. Some of my concerns are:

  • forcing students to write their essays in public, and expose themselves at a vulnerable age to public criticism;
  • forcing them to write in mainspace and release their work, which means they can never detach themselves from it (if they have plagiarized extensively, this could have consequences for them later on, and their real names are known to classmates and teachers);
  • relying on overstretched and often reluctant volunteer labour;
  • requiring Wikipedians to name individual students when discussing poor edits or plagiarism, with teachers saying they can't fix the articles without individual examples;
  • teaching students how to edit Wikipedia, rather than about their chosen topic, and perhaps not teaching them about WP thoroughly so that they inevitably make mistakes;
  • not paying sufficient attention to the differences between learning scholarly writing and learning how to edit WP; they are very different activities, especially in the humanities, where student essays are supposed to teach people how to develop an argument;
  • relying on Wikipedians to award GA status and thus an extra course credit, with students complaining that without it they will fail.

To what extent, if any, were the ethical issues discussed with outside bodies when the program was set up? If those discussions didn't take place, does that need to be rectified by (for example, and this is just a suggestion) inviting comment from the universities? SlimVirgin (talk) 04:58, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

Hi, Slim. Please understand that I'm replying not only in an entirely personal capacity here, but can absolutely only speak for the classes I've been directly involved in myself - in other words, even more narrowly than I normally can. Because I think a lot of these points you bring up deserve specific discussion, I'm going to sign each of my responses, so that anyone can start a more narrow conversation about any particular point I say, rather than having to thread their questions/answers/comments at the end. I've written this without proofing much, but I'm hoping it contains some useful insights, both for you and other people. Kevin Gorman (talk) 05:50, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
  • To deal with your first point: the fact that student work is open to public criticism has been something that has brought up in numerous discussions I've had with professors. It's generally been brought up as a good thing, not as a bad one. To many professors, one of the most exciting things about Wikipedia-based assignments is that it allows their students to interact with a community of practice, and to receive criticism and praise from outside observers. Much of academia outside of undergraduate education is focused around communities of practice, and a lot of professors think it's important to begin to develop the ability to deal with this sort of interaction in undergraduates. This hasn't been cleared by a formal ethical committee or anything of that nature, but multiple respected departmentheads and instructional design people have seen no issues with it. Kevin Gorman (talk) 05:50, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
  • To deal with your second point: all professors who I have worked with, and all professors who I have talked about working with, have agreed that it's important to give students the ultimate choice about whether or not they'd like to release their work under a free license (which is a necessity when contributing to Wikipedia.) One of the first things said in every class I've helped out with directly or witnessed has been "Come up to us after class if you're uncomfortable releasing your work freely, and we'll come up with an alternative assignment for you." A couple students have taken advantage of this offer, but not many. Most students (and again, I mean most students in classes I have worked with or observed) are actively excited about the idea that their projects, instead of being discarded at the end of the semester, can be openly released and potentially benefit society in a significant way. I would agree 100% that it would be an absolute best practice to give uncomfortable students a way to opt for a different assignment. Kevin Gorman (talk) 05:50, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
  • The advice in one of the handouts is that they should go live soon after they start writing, but I wonder whether they're giving informed consent to that. For example, are they told that they lose all control over it once it's in mainspace, that their nicknames might lead to real names, and that if they add a lot of plagiarism, it has the potential to mark them in public as dishonest? I suppose I doubt that a fully informed student would reject the option of having their work deleted after the course, which they could request if they stick to a sandbox. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:13, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Again, I can only speak for the classes that I am personally involved in, but in the classes I am personally involved in: yes, they are. Before students make a single edit on Wikipedia (let alone one in mainspace,) they've had the license terms explained to them (including the fact that anyone can change their work on Wikipedia and reuse it elsewhere,) they've been given the option of using pseudonyms (and warned about reusing pseudonyms from other sites,) and have been educated about the potential lasting real-life complications that plagiarizing on Wikipedia can entail. Kevin Gorman (talk) 05:02, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
  • But are they told: "You can ignore all this advice, write your essay on a user subpage – where you retain control over it – have it graded there, then request its deletion, or move it to mainspace at that point only if you want to"? SlimVirgin (talk) 16:36, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
  • They are fully informed of the implications of contributing to the main space of Wikipedia, and are told they if they are not fully comfortable with the implications of contributing to the main space of Wikipedia, an alternate assignment will be made available to them that will not result in them receiving a lower grade when compared to their classmates who have chosen to contribute to Wikipedia. They are not given your option, because in many cases, in the view of the professor, that would defeat the pedagogical aims of the assignment. We are definitely now in the realm of pedagogy, and, ultimately, pedagogical decisions must rest in the hands of professors and not Wikipedia or the WMF. (I do know that I tend to be far more involved in instructional design than most Wikipedians involved in this sort of project are, because I don't believe educational assignments can fully succeed without the involvement of an experienced Wikipedian in assignment planning at an early stage. So, again, don't take my answer as an answer that applies to anyone but the set of classes I deal with.) Kevin Gorman (talk) 21:56, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Your third and fourth points are both complicated, and I don't think I can give them an answer here that would do them justice. I think your fourth point, especially, is a point that needs more discussion to occur. Kevin Gorman (talk) 05:50, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
    I'll chip in on the third point, "relying on overstretched and often reluctant volunteer labour". I don't think there should be any such reliance. Courses should be designed so that the outcomes are positive even if there is no interaction by the community at all. I think interaction is desirable, and it should be positive when it happens, but the professors should not assume it's going to happen. That includes expecting GA and DYK nominations to be reviewed, for example. Ambassador volunteer effort is a little different in that it is explicitly committed to the course, but not every course ends up with an active ambassador. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 07:14, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Your fifth point is interesting, and is one that is frequently brought up in my discussions with professors. Classes I have facilitated or discussed facilitating have kind of fallen in to two realms: half of them want to ensure that the Wikipedia component of their assignment doesn't actively distract from the main topics of their courses, and want to (and do) take steps to ensure that their classes remain about their original subjects, instead of turning in to Wikipedia 101. The other half of classes - and this kind of ties in with your sixth point - have actually seen learning about Wikipedia as an important part of the subjects of their course. College definitely exists to teach students about their fields of study, but many professors also believe that one purpose of college is to teach students life skills that cannot be directly linked to any one class, such as how to understand and interact with new media sources such as Wikipedia. Professors who hold this view point tend to view "learning how to use Wikipedia" as an active and important goal of their Wikipedia-based assignments. (Many professors also feel that by teaching their students how to contribute to Wikipedia, their students will be able to be more discriminating consumers of Wikipedia in the future, better able to separate the wheat from the chaff in the future (and view this as an important thing.)Kevin Gorman (talk) 05:50, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
  • I think my last bullet actually addressed a lot of your sixth point to, so I'll just skip on to your seventh. In every class I have facilitated, or discussed facilitating, this has come up. Any successful professor participating in the program must necessarily understand the difference between scholarly and encyclopedic writing. Many professors believe that teaching students how to write well must extend to non-scholarly forms of writing, and believe that teaching students how to write in an encyclopedic fashion is an important benefit. Although nothing has come to fruition yet, I'm in active discussion with a group of people who teach reading and composition courses at my school about trying to integrate Wikipedia-based assignments in to their curricula, specifically because they realize that encyclopedic writing is very different from scholarly writing, and think that they would be doing students a disservice if they did not teach them how to approach both sorts of writing. Kevin Gorman (talk) 05:50, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
    (Kevin, did you misnumber these?) Just a note to concur with Kevin; the five or ten educators I've communicated with about this have all been very clear, and very positive, about the fact that encyclopedic writing is not what students usually are asked to do. In fact this was the core reasoning behind a suggestion I've heard from a couple of academics that on-campus knowledge about editing Wikipedia should reside in writing centres, which I gather exist at a lot of US universities, rather than within specific academic disciplines. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 07:14, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
  • The point of a student essay is to show that you have learned about a topic within your field – which involves reading its secondary literature – that you can produce a good piece of expository writing, and (in the humanities) that you can advance a position. That involves making your way through the set reading list, then structuring a reply to an essay question the teacher sets to test your knowledge of that source material, a reply with a beginning, middle and end, and one that accurately addresses the question.

    It's difficult to see how students are taught those skills by being told they can choose their own topic (vaguely within field X) and their own sources, which are often websites, then adding a few paragraphs to articles that already exist. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:24, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

    I think we have to allow the teachers the leeway to make a pedagogical decision here. If they understand what kind of writing Wikipedia requires (and so far I've not encountered any teachers that did not understand this) it's their decision as to whether that's an appropriate way for their students to learn the material. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 17:27, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Your last point, I agree, is an issue. No course should require students to nominate their articles for GA status, and any course that does so should be actively discouraged from doing so. Kevin Gorman (talk) 05:50, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Everyone here seems to agree on that point, so where can we make clear to the teachers and coordinators – not only that they not require it, but preferably that they don't encourage it either? SlimVirgin (talk) 16:24, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for bringing these issues up, and I hope my answers shed some light on your questions. One thing that is worth keeping in mind is that, ultimately, professors and universities are responsible for their decisions regarding assignment design and similar issues. I definitely think we should establish a clear set of best practices, but many of the points you brought up should be (and frequently are) thought about and discussed by the faculty involved in these assignments before they commence, and some of them may be more in their realm to decide than ours. Kevin Gorman (talk) 05:50, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

Regarding your second point (and to some extent your first), I got the ethical willies when I discovered that students in at least one class are REQUIRED to edit under their real names. See User talk:Biosthmors/Intro Neuro#AFC or not?.[49] Is that appropriate?[50] --MelanieN (talk) 17:08, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

No, that's definitely not appropriate. Not only is no one on WP required to use a real name, people are actively discouraged. That would particularly apply to young people. Do you know who the professor is? SlimVirgin (talk) 17:19, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
User:Biosthmors is the ambassador, it would be best to work through them. Biosthmors defended the practice.[51] --MelanieN (talk) 17:33, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

(edit conflict)@Slimvirgin - First I would challenge your characterization that this is a list of ethical issues, but rather is a list of pedagogical issues that every instructor must deal with. These discussions are difficult in a way because the WMF is indeed transferring management of the US/CAN EP to an independent entity. The planning for that entity is still on-going, but it involves a diverse group of seasoned Wikipedians and academics. But out of that planning has come the realization that the use of WP in the classroom as a teaching tool is here to stay for one reason: the movement within academia for Information Fluency is strong and WP is a tool perfectly suited to advance it. The new EP recognizes that and captures that in this statement within its strategy: Enterprise Purpose. I personally believe the early years of the EP haven't even scratched the surface when it comes to using WP as a tool in the classroom. As we move forward with the new EP, we have to find and employ the most effective pedagogy using WP to help professors, librarians and other academics achieve their learning objectives without overburdening WP itself. --Mike Cline (talk) 17:12, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

I despair when I read glowing language like this discussing the program goals, so out of touch with what so many established editors are experiencing, particularly when these kinds of posts end with one minor recognition of the serious "overburdening" of established Wikipedian editors. If these programs are going to grow, the few medical editors we have trying to deal with bad medical information are more likely to give up, as I did for almost nine months. I want to add meaningful content, not be an unpaid TA to some professor who doesn't know Wikipedia and expects me to do his/her teaching job and clean up after students. If any of those students stayed on as valuable editors, perhaps being an unpaid TA would be more enjoyable. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:24, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
I agree it is often a tremendous burden to those who care about article quality, which I do. I want to reduce it. WP:Education noticeboard#WikiProject Medicine anyone with knowledge? Biosthmors (talk) 18:16, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
@ SandyGeorgia – My post above nor this comment isn’t intended to be personal, but personalizing comments is sometimes necessary to achieve any sense of understanding. First, the comment above was intended to challenge Ethics vs Pedagogy and you didn’t address that. What you did however in both your lead and edit summary is clearly express frustration. I think I recognize and appreciate where the frustration comes from—I despair when I read glowing language like this discussing the program goals, so out of touch with what so many established editors are experiencing, particularly when these kinds of posts end with one minor recognition of the serious "overburdening" of established Wikipedian editors.. So I would ask, on a personal level: What specifically would ease your despair, ease your frustration? Over the next few months, my fellow MSU Campus Ambassadors and I will be working with two MSU professors to plan the use of WP in their courses for the Spring term. What should I be doing with these professors that I haven’t already done in previous terms to ease your despair since I am so out of touch with the issues facing the EP? As for glowing language and program goals, I am all about solutions. Recognizing problems is the easy part, it is the solutioning that is challenging. So help me support next terms MSU Wikipedia related classes without overburdening the Wikipedia community by telling me how to ease your despair.--Mike Cline (talk) 18:25, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
I think (hope) I've expressed on this page already many ideas I have for ways to improve the sense of despair I have, and I'm editing Bio's page (Wikipedia:Assignments for student editors) now, with what I hope are suggestions that will help. I guess the lingering despair is that no matter how much we "squawk", when the next term-end approaches, we find more of same. And there is more than we (medical editors) can keep up with, and it is keeping us from more meaningful work. I'm afraid that the page that Bio just started, and that I'm editing, will end up being another unread handout. My greatest despair is not about the students; it's about the professors. If the students were appropriately guided by their profs, mentoring them to well written articles could be such a joy-- the kind of work I used to enjoy above all on Wikipeida. So, I guess my bottom line answer to you is, how are you going to get the profs to read or care about "the rest of us" out here and the effort we are putting in to giving feedback for improvement? I guess if you could get one thing across to profs, it would be ask them to engage established Wikipedians before choosing topics, sources, etc, so that less of our time would be wasted. And while I appreciate and respect your comments about personalizing discussions, I feel compelled to add that seeing Joabar's attitude on this page really added to the despair :( :( SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:33, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Speaking for myself, Mike, I think what maybe hasn't been coming across to the professors adequately (and therefore not to the students either) is that we're not their...well, "support staff" is the best term I can think of. That is, we are providing them a venue to do work, and we're happy to accept and polish up their work, but we're not here to finish their work if they're too inexperienced, behind on their assignments, irresponsible, or whatever to do it themselves. Community energy is a finite resource, and they should be mindful that they (or any other person/group/project) aren't entitled to a share of that bigger than anyone else - perhaps even a smaller share, since the whole point of an organized program is that it should be able to support itself, cleanup- and supervision-wise. That, I think, is main source of the community fatigue/despair about the EP; we (non-EP-associated editors) see ourselves as being put upon by these neverending tides of classes plunking down half-done (in the best cases) or unacceptable (in the worst) work, with what appears to be little regard for the fact that by doing so, they are diverting resources away from everything else that needs to get done. This is absolutely not to say that the message should be "Pfft, the community ain't gonna help you" or "you and your newbies aren't welcome here", but the message does need to get through to them that if they want to make use of the community when its help is needed, they need to not exhaust the community by asking it to do tasks they should be doing for themselves. And like Sandy, I think the burden of that falls on the professors. They are the ones sending often-unprepared students to us, and they are the ones who sometimes seem to think we're here to do their grading and analysis for or alongside them, so they need to be the ones holding their students' hands when hand-holding is needed. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 18:45, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
@Fluffernutter – I couldn’t agree with you and Sandy more. It is all about how educators chose to use WP as a tool in the classroom to further their learning objectives and information fluency of their students. As the volume of scholarly work on the efficacy of WP in the classroom increases, so will its use in the classroom increase. It is a tide that won’t turn. We can ride the tide or fight the tide. Our job (actually our opportunity) as Wikipedians is to guide academia in a manner that maximizes the benefit to WP (the optimistic approach) or minimizes the adverse impact on WP (the pessimistic approach). I certainly hope the new EP will take the optimistic approach and find ways to harmonize the efforts/norms of the Wikipedia community (EP and non-EP volunteers) with the norms and learning objectives of our academic partners. If we can’t make WP a useful tool in the classroom without adversely impacting the growth of the encyclopedia, then we will have failed. It all comes down to providing the right resources, in the right places, at the right time to improve the day-to-day interface between the classroom and WP. I know experienced Wikipedians that would probably be utter failures in serious academic teaching and I know excellent Professors who aren’t cut out to be Wikipedians. The new EP has to find ways to harmonize these extremes in an overall productive way for WP. We have plenty of successes to build on and plenty of mistakes to learn from, so let’s get on with building a better EP while not forgetting the mistakes of the past. --Mike Cline (talk) 20:52, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
"I know experienced Wikipedians that would probably be utter failures in serious academic teaching and I know excellent Professors who aren’t cut out to be Wikipedians." I shudder to think where I would fit there! :-) --Tryptofish (talk) 23:07, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── (comment from above) "In fact this was the core reasoning behind a suggestion I've heard from a couple of academics that on-campus knowledge about editing Wikipedia should reside in writing centres, which I gather exist at a lot of US universities, rather than within specific academic disciplines." I've never heard of "writing centres" at US univeristies. Is this true? And is this where editing wikipedia is taking place? MathewTownsend (talk) 22:28, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

Mathew - Here's a link to a typical university writing center that explains what they do [52]. Essentially Writing Centers are laboratories that mentor students in writing skills outside of any coursework the student is taking. Students don't go the the Writing Center for credit, they go to the Writing Center to get help with their writing related course work. Basically it is a form of organized tutelege. --Mike Cline (talk) 04:39, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

UCSF College of Medicine[edit]

We are planning on launching an elective at UCSF where 3/4th year medical students will be editing Wikipedia as per here Wikipedia:WikiProject_Medicine/UCSF. I will be heading down their to give a week of lectures / editing sessions to students and staff on how we work and will be involved in supervising the students. We will see if this works with a small number of students and than see if it is scalable. The hope is that students who get involved in the first year will provide supervision is subsequent years and that is the only way this can really grow. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 17:51, 13 December 2012 (UTC)