Wikipedia:Education noticeboard/Archive 3

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Finance plan for the new nonprofit?

Are the Phase II and Phase III finance plans done? I believe the due date for both of them was November 15 and that the date for WMF to provide money for Phase II was December 1st. I am interested in seeing the plans. Thanks! --Pine 00:00, 3 December 2012 (UTC)

The deadlines have been extended and all the plans should now be in mid-December. I've not been involved in the finance planning so can't tell you much about that, but check back after the 16th and I'll point you at whatever is available at that time. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:37, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
OK thanks. --Pine 19:36, 3 December 2012 (UTC)
Hey, Pine! The Working Group will not be putting together a detailed budget, after all, as this seems more appropriate for the new Board/Executive Director. That is how most organizations work, but we hadn't really considered that when going into this huge undertaking. The idea is that we will give recommendations (and the Initial Board is going to comprise members from the Working Group anyway) about scope of the organization, priorities for the beginning, etc., but the people who are actually running this new organization will get to distribute their own funds. As for seed funding, we will be writing a grant proposal to WMF for some money to help during the transition (with lawyers to incorporate/write bylaws, to hire an ED, and for any travel required to put together the new org structure), and I think our goal is to turn that proposal in by the end of December. Hope that helps answer some questions! JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 20:41, 7 December 2012 (UTC)
Hi Jami. I'm not sure that I understand. How does anyone know how much cash and other in-kind support the organization needs for its seed grant unless there's a Phase II budget? --Pine 18:53, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
I believe they will be requesting money to essentially pay an Executive Director for a few months. It's actually very typical for a grant proposal to go to the GAC like this. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 19:00, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

Assessment of sources in articles edited by students in spring 2012 semester

I've started a student source assessment page. I've included instructions for how to add assessments, and done a few to make it clear what the approach is. I plan to work on this as I have time but would appreciate any feedback on the format and approach, and would also appreciate any help -- this is going to take me weeks if I do it on my own.

I'm including an analysis of all the sources in the given articles, regardless of who added each source. This is to avoid a subsequent debate along the lines of "well, the students only copied text from 2% of sources, and I bet that's better than the existing ratio". I'm only going to be checking sources available online, but I think this will constitute a large fraction of the work done. If anyone is able to check any of the offline sources, of course that would be very helpful.

So far I have found two errors, one by a student and one by an experienced Wikipedian. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:41, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

Doing your source analysis on the existing text and existing sources will be an impossibly difficult task IMO. Also bear in mind for many subjects (e.g., psych) the "existing text" is heavily contaminated by previous student exercises. Limiting your sources to those only available freely online is a fatal flaw and likely to greatly underestimate the extend of the problem. The very fact that the students pick hard academic subjects, edit stubs nobody is watchlisting, and use paywalled or offline sources means that the copyvio issue is not being picked up by volunteer editors -- we need to shift what huge burden back to the educators. The question is whether these invited editors are improving Wikipedia and/or how we can ensure they do. I don't think that comparing student changes with existing material is helpful, or comparing students with newbies. A lot of Wikipedia is crap. We don't want more of the same crap. We want them to make Wikipedia better.
I'd be happy to help look at student additions + sources for medical subjects for a small sample of articles, provided my wikifriends can get me the sources. I'd also want to include in any new analysis whether the "new material" was really new and whether a new article was justified and encyclopaedic. Colin°Talk 14:16, 10 December 2012 (UTC)
I'm limiting my own analysis to resources available online, but if others have access to offline sources it would of course be better to look at those too. Thanks for the offer of help -- I will go through the list and suggest a couple of articles on your talk page.
I've been thinking all day about your comment that it's not helpful to compare students with the usual kind of new editors, and I'm going to disagree. (Sandy (somewhere else on this page) was right to say that there are important differences -- I agree with her basic point.) Consider the debate that re-emerges peridodically about IP editors -- should we forbid IP editing? Vandalism is far more often by IPs than by registered editors, but IPs as a group do more harm than good. We continue to allow IP editing because the community believes (a) it's important to uphold "anyone can edit", and (b) despite clear evidence of damage, IPs do more harm than good. I am concerned that if we are finally able to agree on some quantification of both the quality that students provide and the burden they inflict on the community, we will then disagree about whether the benefit is worth the price. I think the more data we have about how students compare with most editors, the better position we will be in to decide how best to engage with them. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:01, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Students are not the same as any other new editor because: (a) they are forced to be here, unlike anyone else; (b) they are forced to release their work, unlike anyone else; (c) the only interest they have in their article topic often lies in the course credit, rather than in the topic itself; (d) they have little or no interest in Wikipedia, and any nurturing of them as new editors is likely to be time ill spent; (e) they have been made to feel part of a privileged group that does not need to follow policy/best practice. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:32, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Do you always speak in such sweeping generalizations? It makes so much of what you say inaccurate that it's hard for me to tell whether to take you seriously and engage or whether you are just here to spout off. Your point (c), for instance, is simply false, as I've seen in over 175 unique instances over several years. My students select the article that they would like to create or improve and so have an interest in the topic. Similarly for your point (d); it's simply false. While the vast majority of my students report having not edited Wikipedia before, nearly all of them express the view that they have wanted to do so in the past but have felt unsure about doing so, particularly based on technical ability to deal with the markup, or have simply wanted to edit but never gotten around to it. And your point (e) is also simply false. I urge my students not to contribute until we have finished many weeks discussing Wikipedia policies and I feel certain that they understand the community norms they are going to be expected to abide by. I've also met dozens of other faculty that participate in the Education program and know that each of them takes Wikipedia's policies seriously and only participate in these sorts of efforts in order to make a positive contribution working within the existing framework. When you broadly sweep all these people's hard work aside and make these statements that are simply untrue, I find it insulting. If you want to talk about specific cases where faculty and students have not lived up to the commitments asked of them, that could be productive, because there certainly are instances of problems, and I'm committed to finding ways to improve those situations. But if you just want to slander everyone with falsehoods, don't expect further responses. Brianwc (talk) 22:21, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
I'm sorry you found that comment too sweeping; you're right, I should have said "in the cases I've looked at," as I've tried to make clear in other comments. Your class has been raised several times as an exception (to the point where we've been asking for a second example of a class that produced good material). I've just looked at Wikipedia:USEP/Courses/Intellectual Property law (Brian Carver), and it's clear that if all classes were run like this, we'd have no problems. But they're not (far from it), and it's just a fact that Wikipedians who aren't involved with the education program are having to sort out issues that the teachers should sort out, or make efforts to prevent in the first place.
Still, even in your class (a) and (b) are likely to be true, and that makes a difference to people's attitudes. Did many of your class become Wikipedians? If not, that's fine (no reason they should want to), but please look at this from our perspective. We do this because we enjoy it and we think it's important. We enjoy nurturing potentially good articles and potentially good editors. Having to deal with the education program can be very demoralizing. The students don't (for the most part) interact, they don't seem that interested, they don't stay on, and their articles are often not improvements on what was there already. And so spending time on that is not a nurturing process for us. It is just a time sink, with no benefits at all, except for the teacher and the students (in terms of a course credit, but in the cases I've looked at, not clearly in terms of their education). Is it fair to expect Wikipedians to spend time on this? And yet we can hardly ignore it when articles appear on our watchlists that have been damaged. So we feel we're caught between a rock and a hard place. SlimVirgin (talk) 23:55, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

SUNY Fredonia?

It appears there is a class editing from SUNY Fredonia (see Talk:Dementia). I didn't see it listed at Wikipedia:United States Education Program/Courses/Present. Does anyone have details on the class/professor? Biosthmors (talk) 21:51, 11 December 2012 (UTC)

I've never heard from this professor or that university. Sorry! JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 17:42, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply. I've welcomed each of the four editors who left suggestions at Talk:Dementia to get details on the instructor. Biosthmors (talk) 23:35, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

Good articles

We recently got flooded with biology related Good article nominations, most of which seemed reasonable I will admit. I was just wondering if we can expect anymore anytime soon. We are already overburdened with nominations from regular editors and like many other projects lack reviewers so wont be able to handle multiple courses at once, especially if reviews are expected in a couple of weeks. I recall a discussion some time ago (not sure where) about a pre-screening process for student articles that they should go through before nomination. I have done a very superficial review of some of the recent articles that have been submitted and left a few tags. I am thinking that if the tags are not addressed in a timely fashion (say a week) it can safely be assumed that the nominators won't respond to a review so the articles can be quickfailed. Would there be any objections to this approach? AIRcorn (talk) 23:02, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

I think that's more than fair. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:35, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Would it not make sense to ask that students not nominate articles for DYK and GA? Wikipedians are already stretched, and these articles can be highly problematic – much more so than articles from ordinary new editors, in part because the students don't intend to hang around, and in the vast majority of cases seem not to care about Wikipedia (and that's fine; there's no reason that they should). I saw one article recently nominated for GA that contains plagiarism. But finding it is time-consuming, so there's a higher-than-usual risk here of articles containing it being awarded GA status. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:16, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
I agree that neither should be required, but I was considering proposing DYKs or GA status as an extra credit possibility for extra motivated student editors in "my class" starting Fall 2013, assuming I'm still active. Biosthmors (talk) 03:29, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Hi Biosthmors, I think you should definitely not award extra credits for that. Doing so means students are motivated to nominate work that they may know is substandard (e.g. copied from elsewhere), and it also means that that credit depends entirely on overstretched volunteer labour. (I am speaking in general here; I know nothing about your particular courses.)
Please don't take this post the wrong way; teachers and coodinators are clearly feeling they are being criticized too much to judge by some of the responses above. But I really think this whole business of relying on volunteers needs to be considered from an ethical perspective. If you're depending on volunteers who have stepped forward to volunteer for the program, that's fine, but relying on ordinary Wikipedians who haven't made that explicit commitment strikes me as very problematic.
I think we also ought to evaluate whether the program is educating the students in their chosen topics (and not just teaching them how to edit Wikipedia). SlimVirgin (talk) 03:56, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
I don't think it is a good idea at all to have credit or marks relying on a GA assessment. The process is highly variable in terms of reviewer quality and timeliness of reviews. It is not really fair on the reviewers to pressure them with contributing to a students grade either (I recall a situation where a reviewer was told that if the article didn't pass the student would fail). AIRcorn (talk) 04:09, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Ah, yes, I remember that one, too. I believe the student told the GA reviewer that s/he would fail the course without the GA. Lovely position for the GA reviewer to be in. It was all at the very last minute, too (problematic considering the GAN backlog). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:13, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
If a similar issue recurs and you don't feel comfortable dealing with it, please bring it to my attention personally. People actively involved in the program have definitely been discouraging the use of GA's as grading points, and if any professors are still doing so, I'd like to reach out to them personally and try to explain the problems involved in doing so. If a situation arises where an article nominated for GA is obviously unacceptable but the student says their grade depends on it, after reaching out to their professor with an adequate explanation, I would also be okay reaching out to the student, explaining why their article won't pass, encouraging them to discuss the matter with their professor or grade appeals process people, and then, ultimately, failing the GA. Kevin Gorman (talk) 05:54, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. I won't make it a class-wide announcement then. By the way... create WP:Assignments for student editors? Let's document this wisdom in an essay? Biosthmors (talk) 06:43, 11 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Yes, one of the most urgent reforms is to discourage DYK noms, and probably to severely limit GA noms. For obvious reasons. Tony (talk) 11:25, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Some questions

I wonder if Mike Cline, or someone else from the program, could say more about the draft strategic plan. It talks a lot about stakeholders, so I suppose the obvious question is whether Wikipedians are regarded as stakeholders. I was also wondering about the status of the plan to become a separate thematic organization since the RfC ended with an unclear consensus.

I'm also curious about this: "The availability of a qualified volunteer workforce exceeds project requirements." What is the volunteer workforce?

Final question. The draft says: "The program's operating budget is robust and enables the program to deliver quality services to all its stakeholders/partners as well as grow its volunteer resources." Elsewhere it says: "Benefactors value the program as a professional, innovative way to improve education and are providing high-levels of financial and marketing support." Are more details available about the operating budget and who the benefactors are? SlimVirgin (talk) 19:26, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

I have answers to all the above and will post when time permits as I am engaged at the moment. --Mike Cline (talk) 20:19, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
I'll be particularly interested to see who this "volunteer workforce" is, when you have a free moment. Malleus Fatuorum 20:29, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
I've been watching this form on Meta.Wiki MedWiki Med/Bylaws etc. They were turned down for funding,[1] but will probably get it in the end. More bureaucracy. MathewTownsend (talk) 20:56, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
Hi, Mathew! Actually, that's a different group of editors seeking to form a separate Thematic Organization. The Working Group of the Education Program will not apply until later this month. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 01:53, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
@Slimvirgin – Answers to your questions
Stakeholders-the new EP sees all Wikipedians stakeholders in the EP. Of course there is a special group of stakeholders in the community known as Campus and Online Ambassadors. Wikipedians as stakeholders will be represented on the EP Board as well as through open lines of communication between the EP staff and the WP community, Chapters and WP projects.
The plan for thematic organization: Plans are moving forward and the working group is incorporating RfC results and other specific requirements from the WMF into a final Phase I proposal. Our deadline for this is December 16. When this proposal is submitted to the WMF next week, we will be updating the Wiki version as necessary. The decision to move forward from that point on lies with the WMF.
Availability of Volunteer workforce: This is a measure of success. If the new EP is successful, the availability of qualified ambassadors would exceed demand. If the new EP is successful, the availability of willing (and happy) WP volunteers from projects and various WP processes would exceed demand. In other words, the WP volunteer editor corps and ambassador corps would be more than happy to support the requirements of the EP because it is generating results that are growing WP in a positive way. (This does not address yet the tactics necessary to make this a reality, it is merely a desirable measure of success).
Operating budget: The goal is to create a self-sustaining organization that is capable of delivering and growing the products and services it provides to the EP participants (both in Academia and in the WP community). This statement recognizes that we must marry all the great tactical ideas to make the EP more successful with the reality that executing those tactics cost money.
Benefactors: Who they are specifically is unknown, but the working group has done some preliminary work in identifying a variety of potential donors via grants and other mechanisms. Fundraising will be an element of the new EP’s annual business cycle. If the EP is successful, potential and current benefactors will view the new EP in a very positive investment and willingly support the organization and its goals with funding.
As to a specific operating budget, some preliminary work has been done, but a fully vetted budget will be a Phase II task, primarily because certain decisions about by-laws, operating model, EP staffing, incorporation location, etc. will drive some budget requirements and the working group (and the WMF) believe a budget at this time would be a bit premature, but it will come early in Phase II.
Above all, I want to emphasize that all the decisions and supporting language to come above will be posted on-wiki for the whole community to peruse. And the intent once the new EP is functional is to sustain the highest level of openness and transparency possible with the WP community.
I trust this answers the questions sufficiently. Additionally, questions like this are always welcome. --Mike Cline (talk) 21:23, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
As several people have been pointing out at length above, the main onus of getting contributions from the programme up to an acceptable standard is being carried not by the online ambassadors, who normally lack the specific subject-knowledge and anyway don't seem to see this as their role, but by normal editors active in the subject area. Please don't kid yourself that there is an "excess" of volunteer labour of this sort, or that the workforce is "happy". There isn't and they aren't. Johnbod (talk) 22:33, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
Please don't kid yourself that there is an "excess" of volunteer labour of this sort, or that the workforce is "happy". This response is not unexpected but does represent a misunderstanding of the statement. What is being described is a future desired end-state, not a statement or assumption of fact about the current state. It is a measure of future success. In 2015, if indeed the new EP has created an environment where we have sufficent willing, able and content volunteers from the WP community supporting the program, would anyone be disappointed? I think not! --Mike Cline (talk) 04:51, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
I notice that under "Benefactors", wikipedia and it's volunteer editors aren't mentioned. The "online ambassadors" are a diverse group with varying levels of competence/incompetence. They are a minute portion of the volunteer editors that end up cleaning up, ADFing and in other ways dealing with the mess left by the EP. I don't notice the online ambassadors having an appreciable effect. And there are still many courses without online ambassadors. MathewTownsend (talk) 23:00, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
What's obvious to me, and I suspect to many others, is that the WMF has accumulated more money than it knows how to spend wisely, and this project is not a wise choice for many reasons. Malleus Fatuorum 23:20, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Mike, thanks for the replies. If you're including Wikipedians as stakeholders, I ask that you make that explicit in the document, because it will change quite a bit of it (that stakeholders are strategically aligned, etc). Can you let us know who in the Foundation will be looking at your proposal next week, and how Wikipedians can make representations to that group? SlimVirgin (talk) 02:28, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
    • The WMF Global Development Group has responsibility for Education Programs and is the WMF sponsor for this project. Specifically Frank Schulenburg and Annie Lin are taking the lead at the WMF. --Mike Cline (talk) 03:29, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
    • Indeed the Wikipedia Community is not explicity listed as a member of the stakeholder groups in the strategy document. However the WP Community and other groups are implicity included as members in the Working Group charter, Board Composition proposal and Phase II objectives. I see no reason why we can't explicitly identify all the stakeholder groups in the Strategy and I will work to include that in the language.--Mike Cline (talk) 03:38, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Thanks, that would help. We're obviously being affected by this, significantly more so than some of the other groups you list, so it's important to be clear that we're stakeholders. I think the students ought to be included as stakeholders too, and that student unions ought to be involved in helping to decide best practice for safeguarding students' interests. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:50, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Sorry, another question. Has the education program engaged in any sort of consultancy process with outside bodies? I'm thinking about departments of education, the universities' ethics committees, teaching unions, students' unions, and academics who specialize in ethics in education. If not, would you be willing to set up something like that?

    My concern is that everyone who is being consulted is involved and wanting to move forward with the program in its current form, including the people from the Foundation who are overseeing it. Some disinterested professional input is needed to identify and resolve the ethical issues, which are significant. For example, there have to be guarantees that all students are told they can work in a sandbox and have their essays deleted once the course is over, so that they are not required to release their work or interact with strangers on the Internet. There have to be guarantees that they are not being forced to use their real names. And Wikipedians need to know that we're not expected to act as unpaid teaching assistants, identify plagiarism and determine who fails a course. SlimVirgin (talk) 02:56, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

    • There are really three different answers to this question, and all are based on my experience as a Campus Ambassador at MSU, a participant in the working group process and exposure to several university systems at the corporate level. Additionally, the question is based on the presumption that some previous activity in the EP was somehow unethical and I challenge that presumption at face value as I see no evidence that such activity is indeed unethical (by whatever standards the ethics in question are estabished).
      • Having mentored a number of classes at MSU, promoted those efforts with senior academics, libraians and administrators who are now becoming advocates of the efforts, not one word have ever been raised about the ethical implications of EP activity. And without going into unnecessary details, the administration is actively supporting ways to institutionalize these efforts within the university. If there were indeed ethical issues, one would indeed suspect they would have been raised by now.
      • On the working group, we have a number of seasoned academics from a variety of disciplines who have contributed to the strategy formulation. Throughout that process the issue of ethics as described has never been an issue. One would think that if these ethical issue were indeed universal as they are purported above, then these seasoned academics would have raised them during the strategy development process.
      • From my experience for the last 16 years servicing a variety of corporate clients in government, education and commercial sectors, what is ethical and what is not is very contextual and localized. Within higher education, if there is a universal set of ethics that includes the issues you raise above, then we need to somehow be made aware of them. Otherwise, the issues raised are unethical only in the opinion those saying they are. So this is one concern which in my view needs alot more substantiation than we've seen so far. --Mike Cline (talk) 04:22, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
        • what is ethical and what is not is very contextual and localized. Within higher education, if there is a universal set of ethics that includes the issues you raise above, then we need to somehow be made aware of them. I hope we don't have to make university professors of WP staff aware of the universal ethical norm against plagiarism; I think that's one of the main concerns that brought most of us here. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:16, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
    • And Wikipedians need to know that we're not expected to act as unpaid teaching assistants, identify plagiarism and determine who fails a course. These kinds of phrases that come across as demands are troubling because everyday editors make unreasonable, ill-informed and selfish demands on other editors. The community deals with those demands in a variety of ways, but it all boils down to the ultimate set of sanctioned expectations: Wikipedia:Five pillars. I am fairly confident that the new EP has no intention to encourage, sanction or enable the kind of expectations you seek to avoid. Can the EP prevent them absolutely, NO. Just as the WP community can't prevent all the unreasonable, ill-informed and selfish demand editors place on members of the community every day 24/7. --Mike Cline (talk) 04:22, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
  • It would help enormously if the EP would refrain from reminding us how crap and unreasonable newbies and "everyday editors" can be when anyone criticises student editors or the assignent design. The students are recruited and, to some degree, compelled to edit. There is an obligation on those doing the recruiting and designing their assigments to ensure the work those students do actually benefits WP and is not detracting from the purpose of our encyclopadia. We know for a fact that earlier assignments very much had expectations that "everyday editors" would "mark" the work and would polish the poor edits into something worth keeping. We know that earlier assignements involved DYK and GA and even FA components, which expected "everyday editors" to become involved. We also know that many students are adding plagiarised text and that the teaching staff are not activly checking or removing it -- because it is quite clear many of them don't edit on Wikipedia outside of EP pages. We know, because we see it regularly, that students are still unprepared and unsupported to produce content worth keeping or that even can be kept. We are certainly being asked to be "unpaid teaching assistants" because the actual teaching assistants and profs are not Wikipedians. I can't stress enough how fundamentally wrong this teaching model is. -- Colin°Talk 09:32, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

One thing I'd like to stress is that although it is my firm belief that we should strive to create a model set of guidelines that are both ethically and pedagogically sound, decisions about what is ethical or pedagogically sound can and must be handled at the level of the individual university, not centrally. University instructors assess these issues as part of their jobs and in accordance with the policies of their universities. We can provide guidance in these areas, we can't provide mandates. If a university instructor decides that requiring their students to edit in the main space of the encyclopedia and actively engage in the community of practice that Wikipedia presents represents a meaningful pedagogical benefit and doesn't see any ethical issues with it - and their university doesn't see any ethical issues with it - then we cannot and should not try to dictate otherwise to them. They are the people most qualified to make these decisions, and it's (literally) their job to make them. Kevin Gorman (talk) 04:40, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

That makes no more sense than Mike Cline's rambling comments above. It's not for university professors to decide what is or isn't appropriate for inclusion in Wikipedia. And as for "meaningful pedagogical benefit", maybe that reveals the misconception at the heart of this misguided project. Malleus Fatuorum 06:16, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
I was responding specifically to the ethical concerns SlimVirgin raised about students, and not to any of her other points. You'd probably have better luck understanding people's comments if you pay attention to what they are talking about. Of course it isn't for professors to decide what is appropriate for inclusion in Wikipedia. Just like it isn't for us to try to dictate pedagogy or professional ethics to them. Kevin Gorman (talk) 06:29, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
You might be able to communicate more clearly if you took your blinkers off and saw what's actually happening, or think is happening, as opposed to what you'd like to see happening. Malleus Fatuorum 07:00, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

SlimVirgin has raised a really important point, and I'd like to expand on it because I am not sure that everyone is recognising the significance. As we all know, all WP contributions must be irrevocably released under license. However, for that release to be valid there must be informed consent on the part of the contributor. We all have a choice - to contribute or not - and links are provided to make clear the terms under which we contribute. But, if a student is required to contribute, and to mainspace, as a requirement of their studies then the consent under which the release is made is coerced. SlimVirgin has point out this is an ethical issue, and she is 100% correct - such behaviour from an academic would not be seen as ethically acceptable by the ethics rules governing any institution with which I am familiar. (For the record, I have held academic positions and been required to gain ethical clearance for my research. Generally formal clearances do not arise for teaching situations, but the principles are applicable.) The ethical problem is an issue for the EP programme - I would advise providing guidelines for consideration by educators contemplating wikipedia-connected assignments - but the more important issue for us and the foundation is the invalidation of the release under which the contributions were granted. It might be necessary in such a case to remove and oversight improperly released contributions, frustrating the aim of improving article content. Student editors must be free to not release their work into article space, and to have sandbox contributions deleted if that is their wish. The rigorous protection of such options goes a long way to ensuring that any contributions that are added to article space come with a release granted by free and informed consent. They must also be free to pseudonymity, in line with standard policy. These issues may not have been considered before now, but they are important and deserve proper attention now. EdChem (talk) 10:35, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

The free licence requirement applies to your talk page, sandbox and anything else you do on WP or Commons. If you don't intend to release your writing under that licence, or to the public, you have no business being on Wikipedia. The copyleft nature of our licence requires any derivative work to be published "alike" which means any student building upon one of our articles cannot impose restrictive licencing terms or keep it unpublished. Wikipedia exists to be an encyclopaedia, not to be someone's homework or a private cloud server for unpublishable student essays. If students don't agree to the licence terms or to having their work published (or aren't capable of writing something worth publishing) then they need to do their homework offline. Colin°Talk 11:16, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
Sandboxes edited by no one but the editor can be easily and uncontroversially deleted. A student editor has no choice about making contributions, and the issue isn't whether they agree to the release, it's whether that agreement is free and uncoerced and thus results in a valid release. If a student can't choose not to contribute to article space then how can anyone argue that they are volunteering to surrender their copyright entitlements. Free and informed consent is fundamental to a valid release under license, and coercion invalidates consent. EdChem (talk) 11:40, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────@Colin, EdChem, Malleus-Those of us associated with the EP are always on the lookout for best practices that will benefit WP. The concerns raised here will help us do that. That's why this noticeboard is here. However, I don’t think this is a fair statement. You might be able to communicate more clearly if you took your blinkers off and saw what's actually happening, or think is happening, as opposed to what you'd like to see happening To a certain extent, we all are operating with blinkers on because we can only comment on what we know from our experiences and through validations of what others have said-positive or negative. The fact that I’ve had very positive experiences with the EP without any consternation from the WP community does not mean the negative experiences didn’t happen elsewhere. Conversely, because there have been negative experiences doesn’t invalidate the efficacy of the positive experiences. Additionally, I challenge the notion that anyone associated with the EP is denying or downplaying the impacts of the negative experiences. We sincerely want to mitigate the negative and encourage the positive impacts moving forward. Where I do think that there is some serious denial going is in recognizing the changing tide within Academia about the use of Wikipedia in the classroom that will continue unabated whether there is a formal EP or not. I have read literally dozens of professional journal articles completely independent of the EP that are touting the efficacy of WP in the classroom. This abstract for just one article provides a good summary of what’s going on out there in Education land.

ABSTRACT: It seems improbable that Wikipedia could be considered a valid resource for education like schools and universities because of the risks of incurring mistakes, inaccuracies, and plagiarism. The bad reputation of the free encyclopedia is false. Wikipedia is reliable and can be used in the curriculum as a new approach for the social and collaborative construction of knowledge. It will enter fully into educational contexts, which will represent an opportunity to reflect on the verification of information, the ethical use of technology, and the role of democratic participation of people that use social software. In fact the creation and maintenance of articles as classroom activities offer higher processes of cognitive development and on-line relationships, allowing development of essential digital competencies for life-long learn, like information literacy , participation literacy and ethical literacy.

— Wikipedia as a Training Resource for Digital Competencies[1]

As I said above we can chose to ride the tide and leverage this in ways that result in significant benefit WP or we can chose to fight the tide, but we can’t stop it. University students and professors are going to be participating in the WP experience regardless. --Mike Cline (talk) 12:30, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

  1. ^ Corrado Petrucco (July–September 2010). "Wikipedia as a Training Resource for Digital Competencies". International Journal of Digital Literacy and Digital Competence. IGI Global. 1 (3): 29. 
It would really help if sometimes the EP just took the criticism on the chin. The defensive responses here and the steaming pile that is the Common misconceptions about the Wikipedia Education Program page are the wrong way to deal with real concerns. The EP seems to want to continue to delude itself that Wikipedia article scan be improved when none of those involved (students, classroom ambassidors, professors) are actually experienced Wikipedians who care about the encyclopaedia beyond the end of term. The "can't stop the tide" attitude is unhelpful and just not true. If desired, it would be trivially easy to ban universities from running courses on Wikipedia. If Wikipedia decided student-assignment editing was harmful (or, for example, such editing from establishments that don't join the program) then a block and a letter to the management would swiftly end things. So, please, no threats that this is going to happen whether we like it or not. Colin°Talk 13:11, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
Colin, I am extremely flattered that you think my personal observations about the trends around Wikipedia in Education come off as a threat. I didn’t realize I had that much influence. Other the other hand If desired, it would be trivially easy to ban universities from running courses on Wikipedia. If Wikipedia decided student-assignment editing was harmful (or, for example, such editing from establishments that don't join the program) then a block and a letter to the management would swiftly end things. might be technically true, but wouldn’t that be totally contrary to the strategic goals of the movement. Goals by the way that represent the collaborative efforts of a very large and diverse population of Wikipedia editors as well as outside experts and advisors. You may personally disagree with the strategic outreach goals, but those goals represent broad community consensus about the future of the movement. In light of those goals and the broad consensus around them, I doubt seriously that implementing your trivially easy solution would be trivially easy at all. --Mike Cline (talk) 14:22, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
Mike, do you remember a few months back on the EP RfC when I said that your management-buzzword presentation style wasn't really helping you? You're doing it again, here. You're replying to people with genuine concerns by basically using consultant-ese to say, using lots of words, "yes, I agree that you're totally wrong!" and "Ok, you have an opinion, good thing your opinion doesn't matter!" You may not even realize you're doing it, but you are, and it's making the EP look as though it has no interest in being accountable to the community. What we want from EP-involved people who post here is engagement - not superficial engagement, where you pay lip service to "Oh right, you said something about X being a problem, let me acknowledge that while I go on talking about how great X is", but actual engagement, where you say, "Ok, so your concern is X? X is definitely not something we want to see happening, since it makes creating an encyclopedia harder. Here is how we are working toward making sure X doesn't happen."

You don't need to grovel and promise we're right about everything, but you do need to at least make an attempt to respect and address the opinions people are offering. Kevin is doing it. Sage is doing it. Most of the other EP-involved voices we're seeing here are doing it. But you appear to be working very hard to not do it, and that's torpedoing everyone else's efforts. Wikipedians are, in the main, a blunt bunch. We rely on straightforward, written text to get our work done. Platitudes and buzzwords get in the way, so we expect people to say what they intend to communicate because otherwise it's a waste of our time, and we have better things to be doing on wikipedia than having our time wasted. The more we see you attempting to gloss over every complaint or comment anyone makes with meaningless handwaving, essentially nodding while giving us the finger behind your back, you're hurting our perception of EP. It is not considered clever or skillful here on Wikipedia to use deliberately obfuscatory language to evade actual conversation; it's just considered unconstructive. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 16:31, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

I totally agree. Each time I read another bout of badly-written patronizing management-speak from Mike, I am nudged further and further away from my initial basic sympathy towards the Education Program. Mike is just about the worst ambassador for that program, especially to the Wikipedia community, that one could imagine. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:34, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
I have to pile on here; this kind of language/post is particularly grating to me because of my professional background in strategic and long-term planning, where I had to do same for corporate goals. I can see just what is going on here and this planning/management speak dismisses and demeans all of us while implying we are too daft to see it for what it is. What it is, basically, is long-term planning bullroar. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:24, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
Mike, I think it's ultimately up to the community to decide whether the education program should continue to run these courses on the English Wikipedia. If a community RfC were to decide against, or wanted to change how things were done, that consensus would be respected. The problem for you is that these issues are going to get worse every semester, as yet another group of Wikipedians is left feeling used and abused. So it would make sense to face things head on and seek solutions.
You've acknowledged that Wikipedians are stakeholders. Your strategic plan says that by June 2015 you hope "[t]he US-Canada Education Program, its stakeholders and benefactors are strategically aligned on goals, projects and innovations that support free knowledge and information fluency in education." The question is how you plan to achieve that strategic alignment with Wikipedians. Are you willing to work with us to fix the problems? SlimVirgin (talk) 16:19, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
I think that one problem has been it's not clear who "can work with us to fix the problems". The WMF has had staff assigned to the EP, but they're not generally active Wikipedian editors who are embedded in the community, so they can seem unresponsive (though my personal experience has been that they work very hard and are dedicated). They also perhaps don't have as much autonomy as a Wikipedian editor does; they have bosses, as well as opinions. The Working Group has no authority to actually do anything except make recommendations, and if the WMF does decide to create the new entity that the Working Group was asked to design, then that organization won't be functioning fully till some time next year. The people on-wiki involved in and supportive of the EP, like Kevin and myself, have no power to do more than comment and communicate, and try to solve some problems ourselves. The professors involved are not generally used to conducting business or participating in this sort of discussion on Wikipedia. I don't think anyone is being deliberately unresponsive, it's just that this configuration of players is not a good way to get things done and get problems solved.
If the WMF does create a new organization as it has been planning to, then assuming that the community doesn't decide to ban all educational classes in the meantime, I think that organization will be a good focus for all of these criticisms. The working group recommended having several Wikipedians on the board of that group, including chapter representation. I don't want to go on too much about a rosy future with this new organization, partly because the WMF hasn't yet agreed to create it, and partly there's a lot to figure out yet about how it would work, but mostly because the problems being discussed simply can't be pushed that far down the road. However, I hope it will be helpful, when it starts functioning.
In the meantime I think the discussions on this noticeboard have been a huge benefit. I don't agree with every criticism that's been made, but I do agree with a lot of them and I'm learning a lot. SlimVirgin, specifically in response to your question, though it was directed at the other Mike C: I think everyone involved in the EP, myself definitely included, wants to fix the problems. I hope we can. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:52, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
@ SlimVirgin - Ditto with Mike Christie (I trust that's not too buzzwordy of a response) --Mike Cline (talk) 16:56, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
@ SlimVirgin - re by June 2015 you hope "[t]he .. Hope is not part of the plan. These are desirable goals, that if the new EP is approved, a lot of people are going to work hard to achieve. It may seem like a trival bit of language, but its not. To achieve the goals, the new EP has to address the the mistakes of the past, but until then the EP is in the hands of the WMF and those volunteer Wikipedians that willingly support it, and even those volunteers, including me, can only do so much with the scope of our involvement. As a Campus Ambassador at MSU I and my fellow ambassadors can significantly influence how Wikipedia is used there, but beyond that, I can only provide advice and counsel based on my own experiences. What happens at PPodunk U. is effectively out of my personal control? I, as are many others are awaiting important decisions at the WMF because we think this can work? Keep asking questions as long as you are willing to accept my good faith personal opinion and factual knowledge in response. --Mike Cline (talk) 17:19, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
What I'm understanding from this is that the volunteers among you have no authority, and the Foundation staff seem unresponsive. Perhaps we could ask the Foundation staff to join in here more (Sage and Jami have commented already; is there anyone else apart from Frank?). One thing we need to do is get some Wikipedians on board as stakeholders; that is, the community needs representation on whatever groups/mailing lists exist to discuss these issues, so that the interests of the community are always factored in. I've been doing a lot of reading about this over the last couple of days, and that's the one thing that's almost entirely absent. So which bodies/mailing lists do we need to be represented on? SlimVirgin (talk) 17:52, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, other staff members assigned to the program are LiAnna Davis and Annie Lin. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:03, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
There have been multiple communications channels set up, and personally I don't think any of them have produced as much useful information as the last few days have produced here. I'd like to focus communication on this one board, now that it appears to be working as a discussion forum. There are ambassador mailing lists and an ambassador noticeboard, and related IRC channels (I am almost never on IRC so I can't point you to those); I believe there's also a Global Education Program office hours, though the only time I looked at the log most discussions were about other country's programs. Frank's group includes Annie Lin and LiAnna Davis; I believe Jami is a contractor rather than an employee. You can see those people and get to their job description pages via this link. Sage, Jami -- are there other venues you think are worth recommending? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 18:06, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
I'd like to try to arrange for Wikipedians to be placed on the program's non-public mailing lists as representatives of the community's interests, and to sit on the program's decision-making bodies. Who should be approached about that? SlimVirgin (talk) 19:09, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
If you're talking specifically about the US/Canada program, I would start with Jami, whose remit is the US/Canada EP. She may refer the question to Annie but Jami is probably the first person to ask. I don't think I'm on any non-public mailing lists (or if I am they're very low volume, since I never see any posts) but Jami would know what exists. I am on a working group internal mailing list, which is probably going to be dissolved shortly as the working group is within days of end-of-life.
Again specifically with reference to the US and Canada, if the WMF decides to create a new organization, that organization would have a board with Wikipedia community representatives. There would be an interim board, which the WMF will decide the composition of; some members of the working group, myself included, have expressed interest in being on the interim board. That board's job would be to take the organization up to the point where it is functioning, and to elect the next board. The Wikipedians on that board need to be representative of the community; in addition, if you feel that the interim board needs to include Wikipedians not part of the working group, please suggest that to the WMF, again via Jamie or Annie.
As far as the Global Education Program is concerned, then I believe Annie Lin is the person you would contact. Annie's title is Global Education Program Manager; I've interacted with her almost entirely with reference to the US/Canada EP, but I think she is the right starting point for communications about the GEP. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:33, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the information. Looking around, I can see the education list and the ambassador list, both low traffic. I'm thinking if we can ask two or three Wikipedians (not ambassadors or anyone involved with the program) to volunteer to sit wherever the decisions are made, specifically to look out for Wikipedians' interests and report back here as needed, that would help a lot. It's not something I'd be keen on doing myself, but if others here could indicate whether they'd be willing, we then just need to find out where we need the representation. Mike, would you be willing to add to your draft strategy document that the stakeholders include Wikipedians? And could a couple of Wikipedians be added to the working group mailing list? SlimVirgin (talk) 19:39, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
Um, which Mike are you talking to? I assume it's Mike Cline, but just wanted to check.
I'd be OK with adding Wikipedians to the working group mailing list, but I can't do that unilaterally -- it should be discussed (I don't see anyone objecting). However, I honestly don't think it's worth it -- I think we disband on Monday, if I remember rightly.
I would also like to say that I think the WMF made a good faith effort to include Wikipedians in the working group process from the start -- the working group is half Wikipedian, half educator, and was open to anyone who wished to apply. I understand why nobody who was not a supporter of the EP applied, but I think the WMF was doing its best to get participation that would be representative of the community. It's a pity that we're not recruiting for the working group now -- if this conversation had happened at the time the working group applications were going in, perhaps some of the folks here would have been interested in applying. I believe that all of the Wikipedians in the group did their best to represent all viewpoints, though, not just a blindly pro-EP viewpoint, but of course broader representation is better. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:51, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
Mike, this is not quite the case... I applied to join the group, an application that involved a proposal that seemed to encourage the kind of management-speak of which I've been complaining, and that has (understandably) raised hackles with many. The selection process seemed to be in the hands of Frank alone. Who knows? Anyhow, I wasn't selected for reasons that remain opaque to me. I suspect they had something to do with vaguely critical noises I'd already made of the way in which the group was being set up and run. Anyhow. --18:43, 14 December 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jbmurray (talkcontribs)
I was part of the selection committee for the Working Group (since, unlike Frank, I am not on the Working Group). I'm happy to talk with you about your particular case, but I can firmly state that it had absolutely nothing to do with "vaguely critical noises" or anything you have said about the program. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 20:28, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
Hi, I did mean Mike Cline, but it was really addressed to anyone who can help. I've been looking around at the education program's history for the last couple of days, and I see two major issues. The first is the PR-speak that just about everything is written in. It's off-putting, it often seems meaningless, and it gives the impression that something is being hidden, so it engenders distrust and weariness. This has the effect of reducing interest among Wikipedians who don't want to get involved with that way of thinking. The result is the second major issue, namely that you end up with only like-minded people on board, so that the process becomes a form of what Chomsky called manufacturing consent. The consequence is that you're shocked to find there is so much opposition to what you're doing.
I think it's really important going forward to include Wikipedians who are specifically tasked with representing the community's interests, and to make clear to the education group that plain writing would make a much better impression on Wikipedians, and probably on the professors too. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:27, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── By the way, it's worth adding that I know it must be difficult to listen to criticism of a project you care about and have put a lot of work into, so I just want to say thank you to the people who are listening and absorbing it. I think it will end up being constructive, even if the process is a bit painful. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:32, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

@Slimvirgin, you may or may not have encountered this part of the proposal as it is a bit buried in the cave of working group documents: The Board Composition Proposal spells out the proposed representation and selection methodology for the Board of Directors of the new EP. Key within this proposal is the idea that when the new organization is ready to fill all the board slots the Wikipedia Community, not the EP, will select their members of the board. The Community will be represented by whomever they elect. I will work when I get home from my current business trip to get the Stakeholder groups more clearly identified in the main part of the proposal. (I actually don't make any decisions as I am not a working group member, as facilitator I am essentially just a coordinator of all the documentation to ensure the WMF gets the proposal they asked for.) FYI, this proposal workspace was linked and has essentially been open to comment by any editor on the talk pages since Sept 29, 2012 when the RFC was initiated as well as widely advertised within the community. Our intent has always been to be as open and transparent as possible with the community as the group developed the proposal the WMF chartered the working group to craft. As to what happens after December 16 as Mike Christie mentioned above, we will have to wait on the WMF. --Mike Cline (talk) 22:51, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
Mike Cline or whomever: I've spent a great deal of time trying to figure out these online education programs, ever since I had a run-in with an editor on the "Online Ambassador Selection Committee" who twice tried to pass a plagiarized/close paraphrased article at GA (failed by me and subsequently another editor). I posted here on wiki and on meta (repeatedly until I made a pest of myself) but never could get any satisfactory reply as to how an editor who didn't understand plagiarism could be selecting online ambassadors. (She still is AFAK.) It seemed like the EP (or whatever it was called then) repeatedly changed venues, and mostly posted (what little they did post) on meta. They did admit finally that they had no power over who was choosing online ambassadors ultimately, and no quality control mechanism regarding this particular editor and her position on the "Online Ambassador Selection Committee".

I think almost no editors on wikipedia realize what EP is up to and what they are planning for the future. Wikipedians are almost (an understatement) completely uninformed about what is going on, due to the lack of transparency of these educational programs.

I don't see how wikipedians could possibly vote for a "member of the board" to represent them, or whatever it is you are suggesting. From my point of view, that is no where near sufficient representation for wikipedians over this massive education program that is so disruptive to wikipedia. And regarding the university "writing centers"[2] someone provided a link to me above, that in no way prepares students to edit wikipedia, IMO. MathewTownsend (talk) 23:31, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

I think this is a good example of the structural problems I mentioned above. I can give you responses to your comments, but I'm just another editor; I don't have any privileges over the EP that you don't have. I think almost everyone among the EP's supporters would like to see the problems you mention fixed, and for that matter I imagine almost everyone involved with the EP would agree they are problems. It doesn't seem to me, from the discussion on this page, that there's a debate going on about whether these things are issues or not: they are clearly problems and need to be fixed. Instead there's some discussion about how prevalent the problems are, and more discussion about ways to resolve them, and about representation. Or to put it another way, what is it that you would like to hear me and other supporters of the EP say that we're not already saying?
I don't think the EP can succeed without the editing community being represented. I'm willing to accept your comment that Wikipedians don't have enough information to vote for a board representative, but unless student editing is to be banned, I think the question has to be how to provide that information. I'm trying to answer questions as thoroughly as possible, so that people here do have that information. Do you feel that student editing should be banned? What other information would be helpful? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:54, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
I've been trying in various places to find out who's in charge/actively involved, but I can't get clear answers. Group A refers me to group B, group B refers me back. Mike (Cline), I made some suggested changes to your board page. Are you willing to add a couple of Wikipedians to the working group mailing list, even if it's about to close down? Mike Christie said he has no objection but can't do it unilaterally. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:00, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
@SlimVirgin, that's exactly the experience I had - over many, many, many months!
@Mike Christie, I think that "student" editors should be treated exactly like any other editor. The community shouldn't have to tip toe around them. It's the EP's job and also that of the professors, to make sure "students" only place appropriate articles in the main space, and make appropriate edits. If they don't the community should respond the way they usually do to such edits. There shouldn't be special classes of "protected" editors on wikipedia, IMO. MathewTownsend (talk) 00:09, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
Yes, to all of that, with no caveats. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:25, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Jami beat me too this below @Slimvirgin. I actually can’t add you to the non-public working group list as that is controlled I believe by Jami at the WMF. However, as a point of process, the working group isn’t using that list as a massive discussion forum, but merely to keep members informed of task requirements, deadlines, proposals, decisions and meetings. Individual elements of the overall proposal have been collaboratively crafted by small task groups and then accepted/rejected by the larger Working Group. The on-wiki versions of these proposals merely document the proposal to-date. Comments/Suggestions, etc. about them really should be made on the talk page. As for the A to B to A thing, I can appreciate yours and others frustration. It is occurring because this discussion is actually dealing with three different but parallel projects. The first being the on-going, current EP wholly owned and operated by the WMF who recruited a fair number of unpaid volunteer Wikipedians (me included) to begin supporting their outreach efforts in Academia. The WMF can take credit for all the current failures and successes within the current EP (Global, not just US/CAN) They currently have the authority (and responsibility) to fix any on-going structural issues causing disruption in the community. The second project (the US EP Working Group) evolved from the WMF realization that for the EP to be successful long-term, it needed a much more structured, resource rich and focused effort to manage this type of outreach. To do that the WMF decided to explore the possibility of transferring elements of the US/CAN EP to a completely independent organization merely affiliated with the WMF. The working group (unpaid volunteers—experienced Wikipedians and Academics) were recruited by the WMF to formulate a plan (strategy + specific actions) necessary to legally create the new organization and ensure that if it was created, there would be an effective transfer of authorities and responsibilities from the WMF to the new US/CAN EP and that it would be structured in a manner that represented all stakeholders. We are within days of providing the final proposal to the WMF for their decision. The one thing the EP Working Group has no responsibility for is to create or implement specific solutions for on-going issues. That’s not what we were chartered to do. That those issues exist and understanding what those issues are is important and undeniable and knowing about them has informed the Working Group well. The third project, which at this point won’t occur until the new EP is approved, legally created and realistically staffed, will be the formal transition of authorities and responsibilities from the current EP to the new US/CAN EP. If and when that occurs, then the new EP organization will have the responsibility to begin establishing specific processes and organizing the appropriate resources ($$, volunteers, training, and collateral) to support EP efforts in ways that will significantly improve on and mitigate the current disruptive issues under discussion as well leverage the best practices from all the successful EP efforts. Those of us who are experienced Wikipedians, like myself, know that this will only occur with widespread community support and involvement.
This A to B to A frustration is a direct result of these three separate projects that (fortunately or unfortunately) are being discussed simultaneously within one thread, by participants with differing and varying degrees of involvement in each. “It’s hard to identify the players without a program’’. Long-winded, but I really wanted you to understand why the A-B-A thing is happening. --Mike Cline (talk) 01:41, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Continuing from some points higher up in this thread: And Wikipedians need to know that we're not expected to act as unpaid teaching assistants, identify plagiarism and determine who fails a course. Amen to that! I think that, as time goes on, the English Wikipedia may actually want to make those things a matter of policy. I'm sensitive to the argument that we don't want to tell instructors how to teach their classes, but the flip side of that is that we don't want instructors to tell us how to operate Wikipedia, beyond what they can contribute to consensus like any other editor. We have every right to set policy about Wikipedia. It's fine if an editor choses to ferret out plagiarism (indeed, commendable), and it's fine if they choose to help the instructor in some other way, but that's a matter of choice, not an implied obligation. (And I strongly agree with what MatthewTownsend just said about, in effect, classes not WP:OWNing anything.) --Tryptofish (talk) 00:19, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
  • I'm wrestling with the issue of student consent to making freely licensed contributions, because I do indeed see informed consent as a genuine ethical issue. As noted, universities (but generally not high schools or elementary schools) almost always have their own informed consent procedures, but perhaps we might be justified in asking instructors to use those procedures, and if they don't have such procedures available, offer an informed consent form for students on-wiki. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:19, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
    • Thanks, Tryptofish - I am gratified that someone agrees that the point I raised, expanding on SlimVirgin's thoughts, is actually worth serious consideration. I am disappointed that the WMF-representatives have yet to respond in any substantive way. I have had several experiences with student editors, both good and bad, but I wonder if it's worth my time to summarise my experiences and thoughts as both an editor and an academic. My thoughts to date are that they would be of interest to some Wikipedians here, that they would be welcomed, that I would be thanked... and that the net result would be nothing changes, which is disheartening (to be frank). Am i wrong to feel disillusioned as I do? EdChem (talk) 01:40, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
      Yes, interactions with students can be either good, or bad, or something in between. Editors who see all bad and nothing else are oversimplifying the situation. I don't know what to say about WMF, but I'm optimistic that the editing community will eventually work these things out. And it's never wrong to agree with me! ;-) --Tryptofish (talk) 01:51, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
      Feel exactly the same way, Ed; I bowed out of these discussions last time because I realized we were getting nowhere, and accepted that I'd just have to clean up my watchlist every November and May, and turn a blind eye to the scores of other articles from the same problematic classes. Looking for a group hug emoticon or some such thing for you ... SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:29, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

OK, so what is emerging here is that there seems to be a WMF staffing problem, and that is impacting established editors and article quality. It's looking like that staffing problem's name is Frank, based on Jbmurray's feedback. What can we do about this? And I have another question: why the sudden change? We were always told that editor retention was an important goal, and now we're seeing some backtracking on that, as if it was never a goal. It was: [3] This whole thing is beginning to look like a run-around so folks can keep their jobs. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:56, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

A few comments

Thank you for all the comments that have been posted here. I think there are a few points that we, as WMF, should clarify.

1. Please keep in mind that the Education Program is global. Annie Lin, LiAnna Davis, and Frank Schulenburg all work on the strategy and global levels of the program — the reason you see only Sage and me responding here is that Sage and I are the only two staff people working on the U.S. and Canada programs. Frank, Annie, and LiAnna are all focused primarily on supporting the Education Program in the other countries where the program is in operation. Sage and I are keeping the rest of the team updated about the discussion, but Sage and I are the ones who work directly to support the U.S. and Canada programs.

2. Please also keep in mind that there are two times a year that we can make significant changes to the program: before the start of the fall term and before the start of the spring term. I'll talk a bit about the spring 2013 term later, but I want to make it clear that major changes to the future of the program will be something decided upon by the organization that comes out of the Working Group. I want to thank Mike Christie and Mike Cline, who are both members of the Working Group and who have participated in this discussion in that role. One key responsibility of the new organization will be to address many of the concerns raised here — and as someone who has been part of the Working Group, I will say we have definitely been discussing these issues.

3. In terms of the upcoming term:

  • Psych-specific: As we mentioned last time this came up, we encourage you to work with the APS Wikipedia Initiative for any specific psychology article recommendations. Only a small percentage of the APS Initiative people are working through our program, so you would have a much better reach if you worked with them — many of their members do course projects without involving themselves in our program, but any material you suggest to them will go into the recommendations they give to everyone. They've been trying to get more Wikipedians involved in the initiative and would welcome any editors who want to make constructive suggestions about ways professors and students of psychology can help Wikipedia.
  • Professors: I hope you all can keep in mind that for professors, doing a Wikipedia assignment is a significant time investment. The only professors who want to do this are professors who deeply care both about their students' learning and about the quality of information available on Wikipedia in their discipline. In fact, we screen for this as part of the selection process (more on that later). I don't know of any professor who sees the community as a free TA service; we provide Ambassador support for professors because it helps ease the burden of doing a Wikipedia assignment and leads to a better quality for Wikipedia, but professors choose to participate because they believe in the teaching aspect of their job and they care about improving the quality of Wikipedia in their discipline. Please assume good faith on behalf of the professors. They spend countless hours outside of what you see on wiki teaching their students about Wikipedia and about the subject matter, and they have real-world demands on their time that may mean they are not as responsive on wiki as would be ideal. I'd ask that you respect their dedication to teaching and to Wikipedia, and realize they are trying to do their best to improve the encyclopedia, too.
  • Students: In no way, shape, or form have we ever, nor would we ever, suggest that students should be a protected class on Wikipedia. Student work is subject to Wikipedia guidelines. Period. Students should be treated exactly as other new editors should be treated. That works two ways: don't bite, but if they make mistakes, offer gentle, helpful corrections on their talk pages.
  • Changes for the Spring 2013 term: We have been constantly updating the suggestions we give to professors; please see the new set of brochures for our latest recommendations. A few we are enacting specifically for the upcoming Spring 2013 term:
    • We have strongly discouraged professors from any kind of Did You Know or Good Article requirement, and made it clear that only advanced students should participate, and never for credit.
    • The new online student training was available after the beginning of the fall 2012 term, so not many students went through it. We are encouraging professors to require that their students complete the training as part of their coursework.
    • Several Ambassadors joined me last weekend in a training on assignment design. I'll have more details up about this later as I'm still transcribing all my notes into sensible summaries, but we are working to have a corps of Ambassadors around the U.S. and Canada who can work with professors specifically on assignment design that incorporates the best practices of our program.
    • We continue to refine our selection process for which professors work with our program. Some key considerations are how devoted the professor seems to be to student learning, whether they have adequate Wikipedia exposure (either via an Ambassador or their own editing), how much the assignment as designed will help Wikipedia, if the assignment type fits with their time expectations and student learning objectives, how much the professor understands the difference between an essay and a Wikipedia article, etc.

Please let me know if there are specific questions asked somewhere above that I have missed. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 00:51, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

I want to reply to what you said about professors. I certainly do understand and empathize with them, because I was one for quite a few decades. But please give some thought to what I said at #Please share your wisdom at a new essay. As with most things in life, there is the ideal, and there is also the less-than-perfect reality. I'm not saying these things to be unkind to the professors who get involved here, but I want all of us to be working in the realm of reality. --Tryptofish (talk) 01:11, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
Well said Jami. You beat me to it, but from a different angle. I trust what I said above doesn't conflict with this explanation. --Mike Cline (talk) 01:48, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
One big problem, it seems to me, is that the members of the Wikipedia:WikiProject Psychology/APS-Wikipedia Initiative don't seem to include people who are experienced editors of wikipedia. Most have never written an article that I can see and have at the most only a hundred or so edits to the encyclopedia. MathewTownsend (talk) 14:52, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
I suppose I disagree that people need to be very advanced editors to believe in the Wikimedia mission and contribute to it in some way. The people working with the APS Initiative are trying to help improve coverage in that discipline, and they do want help and guidance from experienced Wikipedians. I encourage you guys to work with them to improve those materials as you see fit. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 18:15, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
I very much disagree. One of the biggest problems (aside from the plagiarism, the failure to integrate information into existing articles instead of starting multiple piecemeal new ones, writing essays as articles, failure to follow WP:MOS, WP:MEDMOS and WP:MEDRS, failure to format citations, or participating in the scut work of wikipedia that takes the time and polishes the article so it is fit to publish in the encyclopedia) etc., is this: most of these "student" articles are written as research papers filled with primary research which end up being WP:OR and WP:SYNTH. Such articles may be perfectly appropriate in an academic environment but are not appropriate to an encyclopedia. I don't think the APS Initiative people understand what wikipedia is about.

If they did, there wouldn't be all this worry about biting students, alienating professors etc. The students and professors could be treated as are other wikipedia editors and would not require kid glove handling. Many of the articles that passed the "burden" test and were rated in another evaluation as a net plus to wikipedia are a mess. The EP is using faulty data to rate its impact on wikipedia. And what about all those articles in sandboxes that an online ambassador (above) said she felt uncomfortable moving to main space because she didn't know enough about the subject matter - and the one that she did move took her hours of cleanup and resulted in a very mediocre article? And if you check the professors and student's contributions, they flee wikipedia when finished. Whose going to clean up the mess that already exists? One of the courses from the initiative Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Courses/Cognitive Psychology (Greta Munger) has already been noted above as offering a faulty assignment to students, and is still assigning students to 'compose a one-sentence "hook," nominate it for "Did you know," ' and to "Nominate your article for Good Article status".

And the last assignment is "Try to address issues from Good Article reviews"! So that means some poor wikipedian completes a GA review (which is a bloody pain) and maybe the editor will try to address the issues? MathewTownsend (talk) 18:55, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

So you would prefer to continue to complain about them rather than accept their request to help them understand the better way to do things? JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 19:19, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
You sound as though you're again expecting Wikipedians to act as unpaid teaching assistants. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:08, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I think editing wikipedia taking time and dedication to learn. I don't think editors can pop in with a few hundred edits and expect to understand how to edit here. I just don't think it can be done. It makes a mockery of those editors here who have spent years and thousands of edits to learn how to contribute constructively on wikipedia. I think the EP articles should all be sandboxed until they are vetted by an experienced editor, if one wants to take the time and energy to do it. What do you suggest? (You seem to be asking the wikipedia community to step in and do the work that these professors and the APS can't do. I've looked at the APS page and there's nothing useful there - just a list of old courses and for the most part messy articles.) I'm not understanding what you expect me to do. MathewTownsend (talk) 19:47, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

New editors are going to continue to edit, and professors are going to continue to assign students to do so. That is the nature of a wiki and this encyclopedia. The Education Program aims to support those new editors in the best possible way. Please don't assume every person who volunteers for the Education Program in any capacity does not care about Wikipedia and is not constantly trying to improve the support. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 19:57, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
Comments like these seem to try to distance the education program from what's happening, by arguing that it would be happening anyway. New editors don't arrive at an article, remove most of the content, drop a new (often plagiarized) version in its place, then disappear without comment. Because this happens with the apparent support of the Wikimedia Foundation, editors are reluctant simply to revert, which is what would normally happen, and unable to deal with it in any other way because of the numbers involved and the time needed to sort it out. The idea that the students are like any other new editors is to misunderstand the nature and scale of the problem. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:03, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
If they are just like any other new editors, then we should treat them like other new editors. No special support is needed. MathewTownsend (talk) 20:16, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
For this program to occur we need to make an exception to the regulations surrounding group editing. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 00:31, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
  • It seems beyond question that each student in a participating class should be offered a fair and reasonable alternative to online exposure—even if this means writing their "article" offline and posting it only at their option. Most will probably still choose the online WP option, but there are serious ethical issues without the alternative. Tony (talk) 11:50, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Copyvio problem: working to resolve the issue

Recently, some experienced editors noticed copyright violations from editors participating in the Wikipedia Education Program and notified the instructor who created the assignment. Off-wiki, the professor reminded the editors of the plagiarism guidelines on both Wikipedia and at their academic institution and gave them a short timeline to fix their contributions, as he was hoping to turn this into a learning experience for them. Since many of them have not yet reverted the close paraphrasing and plagiarism themselves, the professor is now working with his Regional Ambassadors to remove the copyvios while preserving all of the other positive contributions his students made.

Since on-wiki time runs a bit more quickly than off-wiki time, I ask that we all assume good faith and know that this professor, who of course opposes plagiarism and negatively impacting Wikipedia, is trying to hold himself accountable for the burden these copyvios place on the community.

That being said, I'd really like any interested editors to work closely with the initial board of the (hopefully) new thematic organization for the Education Program over the next month or so to develop a proactive plan for future issues with our program's participants. Of course there will always be some issues (these are new editors in a very complex world of unknown policies and guidelines), and of course professors will try to prevent them in the first place, but I think we owe it to the community to create a trustworthy system to handle these issues, as our program is supposed to be a positive experience for everyone involved. I know many of our program participants are hoping to move the program in the direction of integrating more closely with the already-existing infrastructure on Wikipedia, but it's perfectly reasonable that our members should help alleviate any negative burden we inadvertently add to other editors. Perhaps you guys can "sign up" here (just place your name below?) if you're interested in working with the initial Board to develop a promising accountability plan for the future of the program. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 01:49, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

I honestly have no idea what that final paragraph means. The first line alone is overblown and obscure. The management-speak is pernicious and completely opaque. No wonder people are suspicious about this entire initiative. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:41, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
I am generally supportive of these experiments as long as they are that, experiments. After one last bad episode I am temped to report the class and prof who where involved to their dean and the press (due to plagiarism). If we generated some harsh stories about what happens when one does bad stuff on Wikipedia and a few students / profs get tossed from University than people will take involvement seriously. They will no longer see us as free teaching assistants if we hold them accountable. By the way not too long ago with a couple of emails and comments on line I managed to get a textbook pulled from the market globally [4]. We as Wikipedians must not underestimate our authority. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 17:59, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
  • I'm certainly interested in working with the initial board to develop plans related to the future of the program, including ones related to mitigating the potential burden elements of the program may represent to the broader community Kevin Gorman (talk) 01:58, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
    Thanks, Kevin! I'll make sure they include you in this conversation. I'm excited that we have the opportunity, while reframing the program, to have these constructive conversations and engage more with our community! JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 02:01, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
Hi Jami, this sentence sums up the problem: "I know many of our program participants are hoping to move the program in the direction of integrating more closely with the already-existing infrastructure on Wikipedia, but it's perfectly reasonable that our members should help alleviate any negative burden we inadvertently add to other editors."
In other words, the program wants to rely on unpaid Wikipedians to do the work, but is willing to help out. That is what we're objecting to. If they want to be involved in live publishing, they have to pick up the burden themselves, and promptly. When the same professors assign ordinary essays, they have to check for plagiarism and other issues themselves. The only difference between that and publishing on WP is that, if you add text directly to the encyclopaedia, you have to fix or revert the problems quickly. The idea that Wikipedians can be forced to act as unpaid teaching assistants – forced because they care about the quality of the articles on their watchlists – really has to be put aside, because it's causing a lot of ill feeling. SlimVirgin (talk) 02:14, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
I don't think that's what she's saying, SV. I think (hope?) she means something more like "yeah, we hope that eventually this will just sort of chug along as part of the community, but until it does, it's our job to keep it from weighing too heavily on the community." Which would be about as right-thinking and honorable a sentiment about EP responsibility as we've gotten recently. At the least, it would be a concession that the EP does have some responsibility for policing its own content, which, again, is an idea we haven't heard much of recently.A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 16:55, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, Fluffernutter. That was exactly what I was trying to say! You put it much more eloquently. :) JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 18:20, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
  • I hope professors agree on what plagiarism is and what close paraphrasing is. How do they explain it to their students, when in some cases it requires finely balanced judgement? Are we all singing from the same songsheet? Tony (talk) 11:56, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

WikiProject Medicine

Can we get a notification at WikiProject Medicine (and here) on the classes that will be starting for Spring 2013 and will (or are likely to) fall under the scope of that project? Productive communication with those professors now, before the assignments are ossified, could have tremendous payouts in reduced headaches for next semester. Best. Biosthmors (talk) 19:30, 10 December 2012 (UTC)

Sure. Also, a group of Ambassadors and Wikipedians will be consulting professors on their assignment design, and one of them is very involved in WikiProject Medicine. I will ask him to make note of any professors he works with who fall under the scope. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 17:50, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks Jami! And an incomplete and growing list is OK (and preferred) by me. Thanks again. =) Biosthmors (talk) 19:45, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
Could medicine professors please be required to collaborate with the editors at Wikipedia Medicine in choosing articles or sections for their students to edit/write? Consulting those with an intimate knowledge of the category prior to confirming assignments might ensure the students are working in areas that genuinely need improvement, or on articles that aren't duplicates or dreadfully controversial. (This may make sense for all the fields covered by an active Wikiproject.) --Anthonyhcole (talk) 06:45, 16 December 2012 (UTC)

Query regarding psychology and other health-related content

Forgive me if this is addressed above - there is so much to read here. I encounter a bit of student editing in these categories. Are they subject to more student editing projects than other categories? (A lot of the feedback above seems to be coming from editors involved in those areas.) That is, is Wikipedia's health-related content a particular focus of this project? --Anthonyhcole (talk) 04:23, 12 December 2012 (UTC)

There have been increasing numbers of psych classes involved because of the APS Initiative. Nikkimaria (talk) 04:53, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
OK. I'm trying to get a sense of the proportion of content affected by organised student editing that is health-related, as that topic seems to be disproportionally represented in the above discussion. Does anyone know? --Anthonyhcole (talk) 05:06, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
The courses link in the SUNY section above might help. Biosthmors (talk) 05:34, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. That's what I was looking for. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 08:53, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
As Nikkimaria pointed out, the APS Initiative has brought a lot of Psychology professors to Wikipedia. Those who are interested in getting Ambassador support and completing the requirements of US/Canada Education Program have worked with us this semester. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 17:44, 12 December 2012 (UTC)
Did all of the psychology professors listed at Wikipedia:United States Education Program/Courses/Present come here via the APS initiative? --Anthonyhcole (talk) 14:31, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
Not positive that it was all of them, as some psych professors have worked with the program for a long time. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 19:38, 13 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. Does the APS Initiative routinely funnel all college proposals to the EP? That is, is it a formal part of the APS Initiative procedures to automatically direct coordinated classroom assignments to this program? -Anthonyhcole (talk) 06:59, 16 December 2012 (UTC)

Maybe we need to send a note to teachers / students before they begin

Something like "Editing Wikipedia is a form of live publishing. The long term editors of Wikipedia are very experienced at finding plagiarism. If either you or your class do not know what "plagarism" is, we advice against editing the online encyclopedia or first learning about how to avoid it. If you are caught involved in this sort of activity this could result in you being expelled from university and negative press for your school. We at Wikipedia have caught other sources plagiarizing from us and take these activities very seriously [5]. Sincerely The Wikipedia Community. Thoughts? Than no one can say we did not warm them. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 18:08, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

Hi, Doc James. The professor orientation currently addresses copyright and plagiarism, and I invite you to edit as you see appropriate. Sage just added in some edits we came up with as a group last week, but I know that your perspective will make it better. Please remember to keep the language as straightforward and simple as possible. Thanks! JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 19:27, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

This is something I've been doing with every class I've been involved with so far, and I think it would be a good idea to try to make sure it's something stressed to all classes. Amusingly, I think I've even used that exact same article as an example before. Kevin Gorman (talk) 22:52, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

Perhaps once there is consensus that Wikipedia:Assignments for student editors is past the early-draft stage, it would be good to tell instructors that they are strongly urged to read it. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:23, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

The simplest way to convey the plagiarism issue is by telling the students that there will be a lot more pair of eyes watching the article than just a regular assignment where only the TAs and the prof could read it so any attempts will be easily caught and reverted. Also tell them that the evidence will be kept forever in the history. That should persuade them not to do it. OhanaUnitedTalk page 08:28, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Those are excellent points. That's exactly the kind of advice that students find persuasive. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:28, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Request for examples of good articles

Several people have made the point that we're all drawing conclusions from the particular experiences we've had, which is a fair point; the people involved with the education program are doing the same, of course. Could someone post examples of articles that were definitely improved by the program (apart from Brianwc's classes, which have already been mentioned)? Mike Cline said he would post some. If anyone else could do the same, it would help to put things in perspective. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:42, 15 December 2012 (UTC)


Great idea. Other than JBMurrays class I have come across minor improvements at best. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 01:07, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
Was JBMurray's class part of this education program? Malleus Fatuorum 01:10, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
No, Jbmurray's class had the advantage of most of Wikipedia's finest FA writers helping out, via WP:FAT. But I believe his class was the model that caused these programs to take off (his FAs generated a lot of publicity). What the Program got wrong was that Jon was/is a committed and knowledgeable Wikipedian who had lots of FA writers helping; these new profs aren't knowledgeable, and don't engage as Jb did. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:14, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
Agree completely Sandy. That is the key. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 01:15, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
From my watched areas, Mu wave and DISC1. I'm not saying perfect, mind you, but definitely net positives. (On the other hand, the same class that did DISC1 also did Flynn–Aird syndrome, which I strongly suspect of copyvio.) --Tryptofish (talk) 01:30, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
Students in this course did all their drafting and content-related communicating on-wiki, which really helped me point them in the right directions. I have done a little cleanup after these editors, but the ratio of content added to cleanup was very positive for this course.
I’ve also been working with Wnewbold (talk · contribs) on two of his sections, similar good content has been added by his students. Again, a lot of on-wiki interaction, talk page notices, etc. from this bunch. The Interior (Talk) 01:40, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
The WMF has moved away from their earlier position on recruiting editors, but for the record anyway, that course page lists about 57 students, and after their course ended:
  • Eye101 (talk · contribs) made one edit in June and two in December.
  • Kaypri (talk · contribs) created and significantly edited Poverty in the Arctic in November (I wonder if she's in another course?)
  • I painstakingly clicked on the contribs link for every other student in the class, and found not a single edit after mid-April 2012.
So, there is the data from one good course that so many of us have been asking for on editor retention. Three edits in eight months from one student, and a significant contribution from one other, out of 57 students. Basically, one editor retained out of 57, but maybe that editor is in another class.
  1. Since this class seems to have done good work, why do you suppose the students were not interested in sticking around?
  2. Who will maintain those articles in the good state they left them in?
  3. Why are we investing so much editor time for so little return?
  4. Have the articles been checked for plagiarism?
I would be happy to clean up after and mentor students if they turned into productive long-term editors. I wonder if we can conduct a follow-up survey on this class to see why the students weren't retained as editors, and how well their articles have held up since their departure. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 05:46, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
I have a lot of respect for Doc James, but am surprised by this comment "Other than JBMurrays class I have come across minor improvements at best." While there have certainly been a few bumps along the way, the majority of the classes that I've worked with in the US and Canada have contributed a ton of quality content to Wikipedia, one needs only to review some of the many courses that have participated. Examples? In Canada there are numerous. Check out the contributions of this IP law class. Or this psychology class that brought two articles to Good Article status, not bad for a single semester. Most of the professors I've worked with value quality content, and have put in the time and the effort required. I know that established Wikipedians like those noted above are well-respected; however, do not assume that their status on WP makes them the only profs capable of supervising strong work. Jaobar (talk) 06:20, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
Keep in mind that I do not typically move from medicine and have dealt with only about 10 or so classes. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 13:15, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
On the surface, the two articles are certainly significantly above the psych work I typically see. On the GAs, I would be interested in hearing Malleus Fatuorum's opinion on those two articles (he's a GA guru, GAs are passed by one editor, and quality of review at GA is variable depending on the reviewer). Vocabulary development has not a single online source, so we can't check it for plagiarism or copyvio (did anyone?), there's a weasle word tag, and it's not clear to me that primary/secondary sources are correctly used (not a single PMID, and I'm not going to take the time to track down every article, but indications primary sources are used). Joint attention has rough prose, quite a few stylistic issues, dubious use of primary/secondary sources, and not a single online source so we can check for plagiarism or copyvio. I doubt that it meets GA standards, wonder what Malleus thinks, and I don't think it would withstand a rigorous GA reevaluation. But yes, these articles are at least better than what I typically see. If they contain plagiarism, though ... Editor retention: 7 students, 0 editor retention, not a single edit since their coursework ended mid-April (same questions I posed above; if this work was successful, why aren't they interested in staying on? GAs do not stay GA level if someone isn't watching them. Significance of the work to our readers: very low page view stats. [6] [7] Meaning, why are we expending resources there? We could all be working on articles of interest to our readers (every time an editor has to clean up an obscure student article it takes time away from articles that our readers actually view). Summary: little viewed articles, no editor retention, and not yet evaluated for plagiarism, so we don't know if we have good articles or not. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 06:43, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
The editor retention issue is a separate (and serious) issue, though I don't see how it has anything to do with the quality of the content contributed in these cases (which I thought was the purpose of this thread). It terms of your plagiarism assumption, I can tell you that the professor has an impeccable reputation and worked the entire semester with these very strong students. There is clearly an inability here to recognize that other people value quality work. Jaobar (talk) 07:07, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
Although the WMF has curiously discarded editor recruitment as a goal, that we are overburdening and losing established productive Wikipedians to gain little in return is an issue to the rest of us, who have to do the cleanup when our watchlists are hit. There is clearly an inability here to recognize that other people value quality work and their unpaid volunteer time. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 07:11, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
Reviewed these article very briefly and they definitely look like an improvement. Some positive dose come out of these collaboration and thus I still support them.
We just need to figure out how to increase the positive and decrease the negative. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 13:45, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
The people at the WMF currently involved with the program may have moved away from editor retention as a goal, but there is no reason why the people actually working in the program need to do so. They may only have dropped it because they saw they could not do it. Their expectations probably were too high, and I think some of the WPedians here possibly have too high expectations as well. When I was faculty, I knew that in an introductory class, it was doing well to get one or two people who had not previously been interested in continuing in the subject to do so. I think one or two from a class continuing in Wikipedia would be doing well. If we cannot even get that, I suspect is because doing a Wikipedia assignment is an assignment, but if people continue in Wikipedia they do so for the fun and satisfaction of it, like any other Wikipedian. After all, since a Wikipedia assignment often replaces or is part of a term paper, how often does a student decide to keep writing term papers when the class is over? It's up to the people in charge of the class to make a Wikipedia portion different from a term paper assignment. There is very little the WMF can do about this, except help us prepare material & organize assignments that will show this difference to them. As almost all of the WMF staff involved aren't WPedians, how can they have been rationally expected to do so? With skill in teaching, you can teach what you know only a little better than the students, but nobody can teach something practical who has never have done it at all.
I hope those running the new program will be different. The real question is why so few people hired by the WMF have been previously active in WP before, and why they do not become motivated to do so after they've learned something about it & interacted with the people there who really are WPedians. It's not just the education program that is affected. DGG ( talk ) 16:52, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
  • SandyGeorgia asked me, as a "GA guru", to take a look at a couple of the articles given as examples of good work above. I've only looked at Vocabulary development so far, an article it's almost impossible to do any source checking on, but what from I've read I believe it falls some way short of what ought to be expected of a GA. Apart from silly little errors and inconsistencies too numerous to mention it's rambling, unfocused, and repetitive. I certainly wouldn't have listed this article as a GA without a lot of work being required to tighten it up. Malleus Fatuorum 19:46, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Thanks, Malleus; that's a bit concerning because of the two, I thought vocabulary development was in better shape than joint attention, which I'm pretty sure does not meet GA standards. Anyway, the concern is that reviews may be rushed as students reach term-end. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:57, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
    This reinforces the comments further up this page (which I think we're unanimous on) that GA should never be a mandatory part of a student's assignment. If a student wants to take an article to GA outside the course, that's great, of course. Perhaps there could be exceptions for professors with a good track record. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 20:05, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
    Those two are good articles, or at least a cut above the usual I see, but it's doubtful that they are Good articles. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:22, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
    I just noticed that one paper cited in the vocabulary development article (Chan et al. 2011) doesn't appear in the Bibliography. That's a really basic check that's been missed. Malleus Fatuorum 22:28, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
    The bigger problem being, of course, that with the student long gone, we might not be able to figure out what Chan 2011 is, meaning the text isn't verifiable. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:37, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

My experience in making this work

Much of the result of the following is documented in part here: MSU Education Program Work

Our experiences at Montana State University started when the US Public Policy project recruited a professor in Native American Studies. The course we would work on was Federal Indian Law and Policy a graduate level course. The professor’s interest in involving WP in the curriculum was twofold. First, she felt that Federal Indian Law was poorly represented in WP and that maybe there was a way to use her class to help expand free knowledge on the subject. The second motivation, I the one that I found most profound and challenging was this. A large percentage of her students were of Native American heritage. They had a tendency to be very biased and emotional when thinking and writing about Native American issues, especially issues of rights and law. The Professor believed the WP tenant of NPOV would make a great teaching tool that would enable her students to be much more effective advocates in the world of Native American issues if they could learn to think and write in unbiased, unemotional ways. So my fellow ambassador (an MSU Library archivist) and I (an experienced Wikipedian and instructional designer) worked with the Professor to map out a curriculum involving WP that would meet her desired learning objectives. To meet the first learning objective, a collaborative of students would conduct a comprehensive literature review on the subject of Federal Indian Law and survey WP content to see what needed more work or where there were missing topics. The second objective was met by several students who chose to research, expand or write about a few of the missing topics or topics needing work using basic WP guidelines for verifiability, NPOV, etc. About mid-way through the term we organized a formal computer lab session and tutored students in the basic WP landscape so they knew what they were writing for. When the assignments were complete (this amounted to about ¼ the total grade), they were submitted to the professor for review/grading/comments etc. in whatever format she desired. Very near the end of the term, we organized another computer lab session for those students who wanted to contribute their work to WP. There was no obligation to do so. Under the tutelage of the ambassadors, a number of articles were edited/created, to include the Outline of United States federal Indian law and policy which flowed out of the comprehensive literature review. Even after the term ended, as an ambassador I continued to make improvements to some articles as time permitted.

The second experience involved completely different learning objectives. The Freshman Writing Course (101) taught three styles of basic written communication in three separate segments. Segment 3 involved encyclopedic writing and WP was the desired model to teach to. By this time we had recruited a third ambassador, a tenured reference librarian. These were classes of 3 sections of 25 students all held on the same day each week. We worked with the instructor to craft a lesson plan to meet the learning objectives. In this course the emphasis was on good prose, good sourcing, and good written organization. The topic of the writing wasn’t relevant so we incorporated WP into the lesson by allowing student to select stubs on anything they felt comfortable sourcing and writing about. I think the requirement was ~2500 words of new prose written in encyclopedic style that would meet WP guidelines. When the assignment was complete, it was submitted to the instructor along with copies of the source material used where it was graded by instructor and returned to the student. We then organized computer lab sessions to allow those students that wanted to contribute their work, to do so under the tutelage of three ambassadors to ensure it met WP guidelines. We repeated this process significantly more efficiently for a second term and another 75 students. Not all students finished these courses, but those that did, did so in a way that met the instructors learning objectives while producing content that helped grow WP. Nothing in either of these courses was about editing WP as the learning objectives were all about teaching better writing skills. We just designed those objectives so that the product of the learning would be of benefit to WP.

One of the innovative things the instructor allowed us to try was a very fast paced, standup collaborative team exercise at the whiteboard where a team of -4-6 students with three journal sources on a topic in-hand (pre-read) had to right a four sentence lead paragraph using WP guidelines on leads. We would run 4 teams at a time. Each team had one source that was different from all the other groups. We gave them about 10 minutes to write the lead paragraph based on their sources. The groups would then openly critique each other’s prose and challenge the paraphrasing, differing information (different sources) and overall comprehensive of the lead paragraph. This was not a graded exercise and there was no right or wrong answers, but one that was designed to reinforce good sourcing, paraphrasing , construction and collaborative writing. In other words, we created a scenario using WP norms to allow the instructor to recognize and capitalize on teaching moments. The instructor loved it, the students loved it, and Wikipedia got credit for some fun in the classroom.

As we move forward at MSU we will continue to jointly establish curriculum with willing instructors around WP designed to meet whatever learning objectives are on the table. It may involve editing, it may not, but whatever curriculum we employ we will ensure any content contributed to WP meets WP norms. We have another proposed WP exercise in the works that doesn’t involve editing but will be of great benefit to the encyclopedia. Research skills receive a lot of interest at MSU in the freshman/sophomore years and the MSU library has a variety of programs related to improving those skills. WP has ~ 250,000 un-sourced articles and god knows how much unverified content. We are crafting a curriculum where students conduct the necessary research to find sources for un-sourced WP material. If we are successful, all that work can then be made available to WP where other editors can use those sources to improve articles and verify content. We are excited about this idea.

I am proud of what we’ve accomplished at MSU for several reasons. We’ve helped professors use WP to achieve learning objectives and we’ve helped students create some work that has improved WP. All without any adverse or negative burden on WP. --Mike Cline (talk) 03:25, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

This sounds incredibly fun and exciting and I'm green with envy. I'm happy that you have such a rewarding experience, but clearly, if more of us had similar experiences, we wouldn't be here. It's helpful to see why you are so proud and happy of the program's accomplishments at MSU; it would also be helpful to know you understand how miserable student editing has made many of us because our experience is so different. So far, with the exception of the page that Bio started (Wikipedia:Assignments for student editors) and that many of us have edited (that is unlikely to be read by the problem profs and students), I've not yet seen any good concrete suggestions for how the rest of us can enjoy an experience more like yours. I suspect that editing medical topics is harder than the norm, but faulty medical information on Wikipedia is, IMO, as bad as a BLP vio. Rather than hearing platitudes from staff, we need to hear concrete ways to move the rest of the courses more toward what you are experiencing, or get them to go away. If WMF staff is unable or unwilling to do something to improve the situation by highlighting and shining light on the problems and encouraging the bad courses to either clean up their act or leave, then perhaps bad press will do the job. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 05:19, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
Sandy, I trust this addresses explores an issue you’ve been raising throughout these discussions in multipe threads. You and others have been asking Should we do this …..?, or this…? Or this? in response to plagiarized and/or bad content in medical related articles. We also know that the specific poor content under discussion can be associated in some way with the EP. And, I believe, without question, that everybody in these discussions believes the poor content is not only a burden on the community, but harms the encyclopedia. Somewhere above you compared these problems with the BLP issues the community encountered a number of years ago. So let’s operate from this assumption: that poor, inaccurate or plagiarized content in medical articles is just as damaging to WP as un-sourced BLPs and poor/inaccurate content in BLPs. And that the wider WP community agrees with that assumption. I’m not all that familiar with everything that occurred in improving BLP related processes, but I do know it took a couple of years to sort out. So given that baseline, I’d like to ask of couple of questions.
  1. Do you think there is anything in the current locus of WP policies and guidelines that prevents the removal of un-sourced, plagiarized or inaccurate content on medical topics by any editor in a timely manner when it is discovered?
  2. Do you think there needs to be special policies and guidelines (over and above normal processes) to facilitate the removal of poor medical content when it is discovered?
  3. Do you think that the source of the poor medical content (student editors associated with the EP versus new clueless editors not associated with the EP versus agenda driven editors versus vandals) impacts the communities’ ability to remove the poor content when discovered? In other words, does association with the EP make it harder for the community to remove poor content?
  4. Do you think current community practice in dealing with persistent disruption (regardless of topic) is sufficient or even suitable for dealing with such disruption that is causing poor content in medical related articles, or do we need new processes?
Trying to figure out where the solutions might lie. --Mike Cline (talk) 20:31, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
Frustrating; your questions (particularly the first) indicate that you're still not hearing the problems. Let me again (I'm sure others are getting tired of my repetition here) spell it out.
  1. There are classes that repeatedly hit my watchlist every term with the same sloppy work. Sometimes I can identify obvious plagiarism and sometimes I can't because sources are not available online. Always the prose is poorly written and poorly sourced. I should always just revert the whole blooming mess rather than spending hours (and yesterday I spent $25 to get two sources) trying to determine if there is plagiarism, if sources are accurately represented, and whether an entire blanket revert can be justified. Here's what you're missing: if I blanket revert without investing the $$$$ and the significant hours, I will be accused of WP:BITE. Although your question is framed out of context of an understanding of the problem, that is the policy I have to worry about.
  2. I (and many other editors) have long argued that medical content should be elevated to the level of BLP policy. But that you are asking that question here shows me that you still aren't absorbing that the problem with student editing goes beyond that argument: it's the hours we have to spend to determine if anything is salvageable from classes that are repeat offenders.
  3. Yes, students are a protected class, and you continue to equate student editing with "regular" editor editing, when regular editors do not drop in walls of text with one edit that take up to 20 hours to evaluate. They edit in small chunks and learn as they go, so there isn't an all-at-once, out-of-nowhere requirement to spend 20 hours, or revert and be charged with BITE. "Regular" editors also tend to stick around a while, and engage on talk, so we can ask them to quote excerpts from sources that are not available online to determine if there is plagiarism or if sources are accurately represented. These are options we do not have with student editors; hence, the need sometimes to blanket revert even if we might be losing some good contetn.
  4. No, present policies are not sufficient. I've asked elsewhere on this page what kind of mechanism we can set up that will allow us to blanket revert the repeat offenders or cases where it is obvious the professor and students are not engaging Wikipedia policies and norms.
I apologize to everyone else that this is all a repeat. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:48, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

BLP was being done before it was a policy...we just didn't know it yet. How about we find a way to force the students to comment at talkpages before they make substantive edits? Can the EP set this as a guideline for editing especially anything that might require the expenditure of monies ot doublecheck their work? Then, after its reviewed, they can post it in article space. I don't know if that is feasible...just trying to find a happy middle ground. I am just a --MONGO 01:02, 16 December 2012 (UTC)

Well, this is part of the problem I see with the current EP implementation: the answer to "is it feasible to have students work only in sandboxes and talk pages?" is yes. The answer to "will the current EP management allow it to be mandated that students work only in sandboxes and talk pages?" is a very, very firm "no." They will recommend that, if they think it's helpful, but they absolutely will not set restrictions on the places in which or manners with which students can edit, and they won't allow us to do so either - because it's felt that this would impact enthusiasm from students and professors, and cause the assignment to not be as engaging as the EP hopes for it to be. So any plan to address problematic editing always hits the same stone wall, so far: "Yes, we agree that that could help, but we won't make anyone abide by it." A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 01:29, 16 December 2012 (UTC)
EP should try and make it clear that the pedia is a collaborative enterprise, and talkpage discussions that precede articlespace edits are oftentimes the norm. I suppose this would make it less fun. I'm only stepping in here to throw out some seeds and see if anyone comes up with a workable solution aside from disbanding the EP.--MONGO 02:32, 16 December 2012 (UTC)
This is a collaborative wiki so there's no reason why, for small edits, they shouldn't work live. But they shouldn't be asked to run before they can walk, so just like any newbie, they may practice in sandboxes. I'm opposed to imposing restrictions on students that we wouldn't impose on other editors, or anything that suggests working in a sandbox with no intention of going mainspace. If we can't get students to work per best-practice Wikipedians then they simply shouldn't be on Wikipedia. The best classes who are making major revisions of articles (1) post an outline before writing and (2) work on a draft before changing the live text. And they should use the talk page to propose major revisions rather than doing this all in the secrecy of their userspace where only their prof knows what they are up to. Normal editors work this way too: live for small edits, sandboxing for big revisions. -- Colin°Talk 08:44, 16 December 2012 (UTC)

More examples

Here are some articles that appear to me to be good examples of student work, though I haven't checked how the student used sources in these cases. I agree with Brian Carver's post, above, that it would be better not to generalize about the students and professors. I also think that Jon Murray's classes are an excellent example of what students can accomplish; they are not a product of the EP, but then no articles are "products" of the EP -- they're all done by students, Jon's classes included. There are two separate questions. The first is what level of work are students doing on Wikipedia, and what problems and benefits are they bringing with them? The second is what shall we do about it? My answers are "a mixture of good and bad", and "train professors and institutions so they can do better". Anyway, here are three articles that seem worthwhile additions to the encyclopedia to me, from three different classes.

If these examples are not enough to convince anyone that students are capable of doing good work, please say so and I will find more. -- Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 14:32, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

  • Marie de' Medici cycle (Rubens paintings in the Louvre) is excellent work from back in 2007, with a class taking sections each. But the prof was the sadly-departed User:Stomme who was very experienced. Johnbod (talk) 15:07, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
  • I took a look at one of the examples you gave above Mike, chosen at random: The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window. The prose is pretty ropey IMO, and I'm becoming ever more convinced that too many reviewers no longer take the trouble to read the entire article. This is how the first paragraph of the Social movements section ends for instance: "Sidney dresses without concern for what others think. Sidney dresses without concern for what others think." How is it possible to miss something like that? Is this issue with GA assessments boiling down to reviews being rushed and therefore bodged at the end of academic semesters? Whatever the underlying cause it's doing a disservice to the GA project, which some of us fought very hard for to give it some credibility, credibility that's being slowly leached away by this misguided program. Malleus Fatuorum 20:30, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
    I don't think that's a GA, is it? I just meant they were net positive contributions; I didn't mean they'd been through GA. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 22:53, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
    You're right, my mistake. Malleus Fatuorum 23:03, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Marentette's psych class

The psych class run in 2012 by Marentettte here is given as an example of a class that did well. I'll admit this is also an undergrad class (if I'm reading correctly) but the students appear to be year 3 or 4. So they've chosen their speciality and are taking a focussed class. The terrible psych edits I've seen are in 1st year "Introduction to Psychology" classes and such like. From my ancient memories of uni, such classes were chosen by students who had to add another science module to their course and chose it as a soft option on something interesting, rather than e.g. Statistics, which sounds boring and hard. Can anyone give examples of 1st-year students doing some good? Or students doing "Introduction to.." basic classes doing some good? Otherwise, I propose we ban such classes, in the nicest possible way, as their students really don't know what they are writing about and have no intrinsic motivation in the subject.

This is the second class Marentettte has done and two of the students are from the previous assignment. There was one before in 2011. Also, both times the online ambassadors were greatly experienced Wikipedians. Neelix has 131,000 edits and Nikkimaria has 30,000 edits.

The class was very small and focussed on a couple of articles. The students gave an outline of their intentions and used drafts. The prof gave excellent advice here about the audience and the importance of not trashing the existing text with 100% new material; more good avice here about outlines and review before diving in and making a mess; she states she will be doing an expert review here.

Looking at the prof's contributions I see her spending long evenings for many days working with the students and on the articles. Reviewing and copyediting the final work, not just commenting on drafts. And that's just for a handful of articles the first time and only two articles the second time. What an investment.

In contrast with this class it seems the prof was much less capable wrt editing Wikipedia, much less involved in reviewing/copyediting the work, the class was much bigger (40 students) and some of them chose subjects that the prof was not an expert in, so couldn't comment on them or fix them. Although the students were reminded to use secondary sources (and some of the sources I saw were good), it didn't appear all understood plagiarism or researched the appropriateness of their content to the page. Colin°Talk 17:52, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Yes, yes and yes. It is consistently the same prof's intro classes that are killing my watchlist. When I put up the sample case above, and raised questions (still unanswered), it was so we could begin to formalize a policy/guideline for dealing with these repeat professors (in my case, I know of at least three). I'm not sure if we can ban those classes or professors from Wikipedia, but here on this board, and later perhaps moving the Policy discussion noticeboard, we need to formulate a guideline that allows us to blanket revert the work of repeat offenders, so we don't have to spend so much time cleaning them up. Could we please begin to discuss how to deal with these repeat offenders? Lisa Lu's class and two or three others whose names I can't remember are the ones that hit my watchlist every term. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:12, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
I note that she engaged her students in only two articles: four worked on Vocabulary development and three on Joint attention. That's a very different approach than most other courses used. MathewTownsend (talk) 20:21, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Online ambassadors

Someone suggested above: "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)".

I've never seen much action by online ambassadors. (Maybe it's all by email and chat.) Perhaps recruiting online ambassadors who are experienced wikipedians, who are also familiar with the subject matter of education course articles and who are willing to "monitor and clean up their classes' messes" would be the way to go. (And that would probably be more than one online ambassador for every 15 students, the ideal now but not always achieved.) MathewTownsend (talk) 01:04, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Active Wikipedians are already working on other stuff. Maybe what is needed is someone paid to review all edits with this someone paid by the university. And this will be a requirement for involvement. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 01:12, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
I don't mean to be negative about a fellow Wikipedian, but I did once have an experience with a page where the students massively ignored very basic editing principles, and didn't respond to my polite suggestions, and the instructor told me that the students just weren't very good and left it at that – and when I asked the ambassador to look into it, he responded with a vaguely insulting comment about me. I'm not interested in attacking that ambassador, but it did leave me with the feeling that this was someone who wasn't particularly fulfilling the role. --Tryptofish (talk) 01:25, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
Not surprised. I just noticed that a prior member of the "Online Ambassador Selection Committee", who couldn't get an article through GA in two tries (and was very rude to me for failing her article for plagiarism/close paraphrasing), is now a member of the Grant Advisory Committee for WMF. Maybe a grant could be provided for some of this paid cleanup (since I doubt the universities will pay for it!) MathewTownsend (talk) 01:33, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
The university should be paying. The WMF does not fund Wikimedians in Residence and these should be funded by the institution. This should be a full time employee whose primary duty is to explain how Wikipedia works and to check students work for plagiarism. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 04:45, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
I know that the selection committee did not look at any applications from November of 2011 until it was dissolved in April of 2012. While I can't confirm this, I think that the committee was de facto deprecated when the public policy initiative ended and a public process was rolled out to select new ambassadors. As for the role of the OA, I sat on the program's steering committee and served as an OA for two terms but I am still not sure what exactly I was supposed to do. Several of the students/classes that I was to help out with never edited or would never reply to my attempts to communicate with them. I would join the program again if I could work with a class that would actually communicate with me. --Guerillero | My Talk 21:00, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
I would be very reluctant to see us move into WMF sponsored paid editing. I saw my main role as Online ambassador was to guide the students away from impractical topics that either would not fit into WP or where they were unlikely to be able to find sources acceptable to the encyclopedia, and then to comment on their work as requested. This requires roughly the same skills as required to be effective at New Page Patrol or Articles for Creation: a knowledge of what will or will not make a Wikipedia article. It is the editors who must do the editing--in principle. But just as sometimes at NPP or AfC I find it more practical to fix wording or even organization myself than to explain how to do it, I did revise or copyedit a few student papers. In an educational program, I probably shouldn't have, but I was biased by my desire to get some WP articles written. As for plagiarism, I don't see why the school should pay someone additional to do it--they are already paying someone: it is the same as it has always been, the responsibility of the class instructor. If the class is so large they'd need TAs to do it, then the college should hire them as it would for any other class of that size. there have been courses where an instructor expects the Ambassador to in effect be a TA, & supervise the writing in detail, which is not appropriate unless they intend to pay as a TA; there may have been others where a regular TA has been instructed to work as a campus Ambassador for the WP portion of the course, which would be more successful. DGG ( talk ) 17:48, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Some thoughts: my 2c. and then some

I've been following this discussion (and over the past several months others previous, including the RFC and the various scattered fallout over the Pune program etc.). I've also had quite a bit to do with the various incarnations of the EP, from an informal meeting in San Francisco, to seeing members of the team in Barcelona, to being part of the Jamboree in Boston. (These guys get around, I tell you... I mean, I obviously do, too, but mostly on my own dime and nowhere near as much as they do.)

Most of the WMF folk are well-intentioned (and they're better than some of the people who went before... Rod, for instance), but with few exceptions (Sage is one) they have not much idea about how Wikipedia actually works, and have never been active Wikipedians. Moreover, as an institution the WMF is much better at promotion and spin, but has little investment in following up on what they have started. This whole business of handing off the program, as though it were a hot potato that they no longer want to touch, is a very poor show indeed.

Meanwhile, there are a lot of people in academia who, in part encouraged by the WMF (but in part spurred by examples such as my own), have become very excited about the possibilities of using Wikipedia in the classroom. I met Steve Joordens, for instance, in Boston. He's a good guy but even at the time I was wondering how on earth he could pull off something with a class of 1500 students. Sadly, in the celebratory atmosphere of that meeting, it was hard to raise any doubts, cautions, or caveats. At the same meeting there was also much excitement about the Pune program, and we all know what happened there...

In short, for a variety of reasons a lot of hopes have been raised around this program. And a lot of good material has been produced. Sometimes things have gone well. But when things have gone wrong, they have gone badly wrong, and the WMF hasn't wanted to hear any doubts, and hasn't wanted to pick up the pieces.

Frankly, it's a crying shame because the WMF has had oodles of money and resources passing through its hands, and masses of goodwill, especially but not only from academics. It's been a shame to see that money and those resources too often wasted, in almost every way conceivable. (The Barcelona junket was a particular disaster, but it was one I saw only by accident, as I happened to be at the Mozilla Fest there in any case. The Wikimedia folk there had scarcely a clue as to what they were doing, and yet they had a golden opportunity to make connections and to talk to people, both to learn and to gain allies.)

Anyhow, beyond the waste it's also a shame because I strongly believe that there needs to be more thought and more effort devoted to thinking through (and doing something about) the relationship between Wikipedia and academia, which at present is frankly a broken relationship, with massive misunderstandings on both sides. The dialogue of the deaf that results would be amusing if it weren't also almost tragic. To take one example: academics fear Wikipedia because of the rampant plagiarism that (they think) creates it and that it in turn creates; yet here we have ongoing denunciation of student projects, for almost precisely the same reason. You'd have thought we'd have here the basis of a common conversation, common goals, and perhaps a shared set of tragedies. Instead we have mutual recriminations and allegations.

I think that the relationship between Wikipedia and the University (also, more broadly, the university and the intellectual commons) is a vital one, for a number of reasons. In reality, Wikipedia and the university are (or should be) in this together: they are both ultimately utopian enterprises, dedicated to the production and dissemination of knowledge to all, without commercial or ideological restraints. They are both, frankly, embattled, and their enemies are similar: rampant commercialization and privatization, for instance; or, in brief, an extraordinary attempt to enclose and profit from the digital commons.

This is why, beyond the basic obfuscation and evasions that it carries with it, I'm so against the management-speak that seems to come with the Education Project in its new incarnation. It is precisely this sort of shallow rationalization, short-termism, and unthinking belief in modish rhetoric that is killing the university and has the potential to kill Wikipedia. No wonder Wikipedians react so strongly against it! It is precisely the opposite of any solution to heal the rift between Wikipedia and the University. For it is the death-rattle of both.

Anyhow, all this may sound too high-falutin' or something. But there should be a forum for an honest and productive conversation between academics and Wikipedians (which is also a conversation among academics and Wikipedians, because of course there are plenty of people who are both, and in the end the divide is a false one). This should deal with pragmatic considerations such as plagiarism as well as the less-pragmatic ones about ethics. (By the way, there are also legalities at issue: strictly speaking when I tell my students to edit on Wikipedia I am also breaking the law of my home province; but that's another matter.)

We could ask why students, even good students, decide to plagiarize on Wikipedia, even those who wouldn't necessarily plagiarize elsewhere. (The other semester I had a grad class work on the Spanish Wikipedia and it turned out that two of the articles they wrote were massively plagiarized... No, I hadn't checked initially, because it honestly didn't occur to me that grad students would plagiarize in such a stupid manner. But they did.) We could think about ways to combat this. Incidentally, I find that Wikipedia assignments ultimately work well as a way to teach students not to plagiarize, just as they teach them about the perils of using poor sources. But it takes a while to get to that point; these are difficult lessons to learn, especially perhaps among this generation of students.

But more importantly we should also be thinking harder (and doing more) about the role that Wikipedia can and should play in the education sector, and vice versa. This should be a positive and productive relationship. I salute the WMF for realizing the potential of the two "sides" working together. This is why ultimately I support the Education Project. Indeed, I think it is vital. But this is also why (again) I think it's a huge shame that it has gone through such difficulties, and that it looks nowhere near resolving them anytime soon.

OK, I know: in the classic Wikipedia idiom, your response should probably be TLDNR. Shorter version: the Education Program (or something like it) is essential, but we can't let it be blighted by short-termism, blinkered vision, unthinking celebration, and shallow rhetoric. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 06:57, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Ach, and immediately after writing this, I move to the next page on my watchlist and have to remove some massive plagiarism from Sparknotes, of all places. Sigh. We do need to get together on this stuff. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 07:01, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

JBMurray, thanks, I find your thoughts very insightful, because I think you’ve highlighted two critical realities here. 1) there has always been (and its getting stronger) a tension between the Educational Economy (those entities providing the resources and infrastructure) with the Practice of Education (the Academy if you will, the production and dissemination of knowledge unconstrained). 2) Your second insight is that today Wikipedia and the Practice of Education are in this together and both must find ways to make that relationship effective and productive moving forward. I personally think these two insights are inseparable and wanted to try and illustrate why. So I tried to find some reliable evidence to support what people are seeing in regards to the relationship between the Educational Economy and the Practice of Education in the next couple of decades. Here’s a small fraction of what I found:
This is my no means any endorsement of any of the messages in these links, but merely evidence that the concerns (insights) you expressed are indeed a reality and our near-term solutions moving forward must deal with that reality. Thanks again for some great work. --Mike Cline (talk) 17:58, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for this, Mike. The issues that are also raised in these links are definitely the kinds of issues that we should be considering. There is a lot at stake here, and we can't remain stuck on details--though of course we need to deal with details, too. This is all hard and difficult stuff. Indeed, this is one thing I try to stress when I talk to other educators: a Wikipedia assignment is by no means easy; it requires more work, rather than less. And it may also require thinking about what we are doing in new ways. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 18:26, 15 December 2012 (UTC)


Having done a fair bit of outreach, I must say that most of my efforts have resulted in little concrete success within Wikipedia itself. This includes giving talks at 5 universities, offering a scholarship, and encouraging my own students to become involved. The only exception has been the medical translation efforts where I managed to find a very professional NGO which deeply shares our goal. [8] Finding new good editors is very hard and there is much that does not work. Thus I see this projects goal as figuring out what works and what dose not. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 16:51, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Identifying what works and what doesn't, and what factors differentiate the classes that are really clearly worth the effort from those that have little or no net positive, has been a big challenge. (It's something that WMF continues to work on, and is probably an area that WMF will continue to be involved with even after it is no longer running the US and Canada programs.) We looked at what article quality improvement data we have, and tabulated that by class against pretty much anything we could think of or that other people suggested that might contribute to how well a class went. We thought we had found some solid (and often counter-intuitive) factors, but then when we ran the same analysis on more data from a subsequent semester, basically none of it held up. So the things we know are, basically, that more involvement from Ambassadors, the more improvement in articles. And beyond that, a lot of the things we thought might be relevant don't show a clear correlation.
However, LiAnna and I are now working with Evan Rosen of the WMF analytics team to hopefully get more and better data on article quality before and after student work, so that we can get a really strong class-by-class article improvement dataset, and also create a methodology that we can use to compare different types of outreach and just the baseline of what typical new users do, in terms of article improvement or the quality of new articles. (We have a meeting about this project on Monday.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:22, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
finding new editors has always been hard, in any context. At our NYC chapter meetings & similar events, people usually drop in to see if they might be interested. If even one of them actually comes to participate significantly, it's more successful than usual. I think we need to realize that any recruitment will be on that basis. Way back when I did political campaigning, it went similarly. DGG ( talk ) 17:56, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
Yes. The EP is never going to recruit masses of new long-term editors. Personally, I don't think that matters. The point is to create constructive engagement between academia and Wikipedia, rather than to convert academics or students into long-term Wikipedians. If any such conversion happens, it's a bonus but it shouldn't be a goal. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 19:47, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
I re-introduced the editor retention argument on this page, and most likely due to my ... challenged ... prose, my point is being missed. The fallout from these programs is discouraging and chasing off established editors at worst, and preventing us from doing other, more useful work, at best. So, to the extent the WMF efforts are not replacing our expertise by retaining new and improved editors, these programs are leading to a decline in article quality that is an opportunity cost not measured by any of the analyses. Every time I have go go clean up an obscure, little viewed topic like klazomania, that is time I could be spending on adding substantive content to an article that matters. If the WMF isn't going to recruit or retain new editors, at least these programs shouldn't be interfering with the efforts of established editors, or causing us to give up and leave (as I did for almost nine months). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:06, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
Oh yes, God's sake, if the EP (or something like it) hinders editor retention (or even, as present, simply editor morale), then that's clearly a disaster. No disagreement there in the slightest. But there does seem to be some debate as to whether a goal of the project (or anything similar) should be recruitment. Again, I say no, not particularly. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 20:29, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
There's an editor recruitment/retention project at the WMF, I believe, though I don't know a great deal about it. I think Ironholds is involved with, or at least aware of, that project in his WMF staff persona, Okeyes (WMF); he'd be a good person to ping for an update. I agree with Jbmurray that editor retention shouldn't be a primary goal of the EP, but I also agree (of course) that any project at all the WMF undertakes shouldn't damage editor retention. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 20:17, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
Not sure quite where to put this, but here seems as good a place as any; someone asked what Wikipedia editing experience there was in the WMF, so I thought it would be worth mentioning that Frank Schulenberg has 21K edits on the German Wikipedia. His user page is here. And of course there's Ironholds, mentioned just above. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 20:31, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
Agree. What needs doing is to determine what brought our most dedicated editors here, why they stay, and what is needed to keep them here. This would be just as, if not more useful than the education program. Does anyone know if the WMF is doing this or anyone within the WM movement for that matter? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 18:59, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
Doc James, yes, I think the annual Editor Survey addresses this question. I suggest that you contact Steven (WMF) about this. He's working in WMF's Editor Engagement initiative, he's familiar with the survey, and has some ideas of his own about how the survey could be improved to provide more useful information. I'm sure he'd welcome your interest in editor engagement. --Pine 19:55, 16 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. Will look into it. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 19:58, 16 December 2012 (UTC)

Staffing concerns, section 230, et al

Two things are emerging from this discussion: Sage Ross and Moonriddengirl are possibly the only "real" Wikipedians on staff (editors who know how to build content and previously engaged Wikipedia at the article level), such that poor staffing has been a big part of the failed programs; and the WMF has liability concerns, causing it to ditch the programs rather than disclaim them.

On the Section 230 and liability issues, it is no surprise that the Wikimedia Foundation wants to offload responsibility for student projects to other groups. WMF already knows that student projects lead to rampant copyright violation. It should now be on notice that they also lead to errors in medical articles, which can have real-world consequences. But regardless of the legalities, there is a moral issue here: should the foundation or any of its offshoots actively support poorly-supervised projects which can lead to unrealistic expectations or real harm to those who suffer from physical or psychological conditions which are the subject of articles edited by entry-level students without professional expertise?

The answer to this question is clear: the Foundation should immediately cease funding or any other support for any student editing projects in the realms of introductory courses on psychology, psychiatry, and medicine.

Should the WMF be publicly disclaiming these programs, given the known consequences, or pushing the liability off to non-WMF entities? And what can we "real" Wikipedians do about the consequences of what are obvious gaps in staffing decisions? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:22, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

I have a few comments.
  • I get the impression from the education staff that they're not well versed in the legal liabilities that are inherent in the education program, so perhaps someone above them who made the decision to offload the program had that factor as a consideration but I don't feel that this was the foremost thought of the WMF ed staff regarding the offloading of the US-CAN programs.
  • People should not be relying on Wikipedia for medical or legal advice and perhaps we should make that clearer with a header at the top of relevant pages.
  • Wikipedia is inherently an open project, and I think it's next to impossible to prevent professors from unleashing their students on Wikipedia with insufficient guidance, but the WMF or the new education organization can offer to help with resources such as training materials and support from ambassadors.
  • Persistently troublesome student editors and professors can be blocked. I see value in having an ed program that provides appropriate resources and guidance to professors and classes with the hope that the classes are a net benefit to Wikipedia. If the classes aren't a net benefit and polite guidance goes unheeded then administrators can and should intervene, the same as would be done for any other incompetent and/or disruptive editor.
  • Sage may be able to comment on some help that the new student tracking software will offer.
  • The selection of WMF staff is a broad subject that I think may be better discussed on Wikimedia-l.
  • Initiatives where the WMF goes out to recruit involvement of professors, such as what happened with the disastrous India pilot, I view as an entirely separate subject. I think the WMF has a better grasp of what works and what doesn't after this experience, although I continue to say that I think some of these problems should have been foreseen.
  • My general feeling is that the education programs can be a net benefit to Wikipedia. There is room for healthy deliberation about what works and what doesn't.
Regards, --Pine 19:56, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
"The selection of WMF staff is a broad subject that I think may be better discussed on Wikimedia-l" is the kind of thinking and process that led to "the disastrous India pilot" where the WMF still doesn't seem to have "a better grasp of what works and what doesn't after this experience". See the problem yet? You take discussion off-Wiki, to a group of "not real Wikipedians", away from view of those in here who write articles and clean up after the problems introduced by these programs, well, no wonder problems such as this one occur. There's a problem with staffing affecting us in here, now; I don't do off-wiki maillists. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:54, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
Are we discussing the education staff only or are we discussing WMF staff in general? The former would be on topic here, I feel that the latter would belong more on Meta or on the mailing list. Wikimedia-l is publicly archived on so I don't regard it as "away from view". Anyway, if you have concerns about the education program staff, I am willing to listen here. --Pine 22:18, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
OK, on People should not be relying on Wikipedia for medical or legal advice and perhaps we should make that clearer with a header at the top of relevant pages, we already have a disclaimer, and I imagine the WMF lawyers will tell you that won't remove the Section 230 obligation when they know and have been advised that there is a big problem in here. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:21, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
I am not sure that I understand exactly what you're getting at. How does this relate to the staffing of the education program? --Pine 22:51, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
WMF relies on Section 230 to escape legal concerns; if WMF is knowingly promoting programs that encourage copyright violation and quack theories in medical articles (after they have been advised), will they be able to hide behind Section 230? They might win an argument, but they might lose in the winning.

WMF staff (mostly comprised of people who don't edit and don't know day-to-day editing issues) have promoted programs (without consulting the regular folk out here in the trenches) that are largely utilized and populated by people who don't know Wikipedia policies (some exceptions like Jbmurray, who are underutilized, and Sage Ross who is probably overworked), leading to big problems, leading WMF attorneys to realize there are potential legal concerns (well, let's hope they realize it, because if they don't, the problem is even bigger), leading WMF staff to offload the programs to someone else to (attempt to) eliminate the WMF liability.

But the regular editors will still have to deal with the issues whether they are coming from offloaded programs or WMF-supported programs. All points to: WMF staff don't understand regular editors or the consequences of these decisions. If the WMF hired *editors* who knew something about editing, we might not have these issues (I wonder what might have happened differently if someone like Jbmurray had been on board). At any rate, offloading the program to avoid potential liability won't make things any better for the regular editor who has to deal with the cleanup. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:16, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Is there evidence that "WMF is knowingly promoting programs that encourage copyright violation and quack theories in medical articles (after they have been advised)"? I doubt that WMF would appreciate being exposed to the potential legal problems, bad PR, and community irritation that this would create, so I don't think this would be in their own interest. I've asked Sage Ross to comment on this discussion and I hope that he responds to these concerns. --Pine 23:32, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
Yeah, I think it's a bit overkill to say that that's the case right now. It would be perhaps more accurate (though probably still colored by my bias, so YMMV) to say something like "The WMF is aware that there have been numerous copyright and other policy violations introduced to Wikipedia by EP classes, but the WMF does not appear to be responsive to requests to prevent this from happening again". Sandy does have a point that if you follow the trail back, you still hit the WMF and its promotion of the EP as the source of this stuff, but I think it's currently less a matter of promoting problem editing than it is a matter of deliberately neglecting to address the types of editing being done at all (because that would be assuming liability for the content that goes in through that editing, I guess). A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 01:34, 16 December 2012 (UTC)
What she said ("The WMF is aware that there have been numerous copyright and other policy violations introduced to Wikipedia") except, we're not actually sure what the WMF is aware of because of the obfuscation and the "64% improvement" marketing BS we keep hearing from staff. "Out here in the trenches" we know the copyvio problem is huge; does the WMF know/acknowledge that? Well, now they do, because we're telling and showing them; whether they are listening is another matter. So, Siegenthaler (partly) prompted changes to BLP policy and citation requirements in BLPs. Do we have evidence so far of any dramatic quackery in medical articless? I don't know. But the situation is ripe, and the WMF 1) can't say they don't know, and 2) can't pretend to us that offloading the problem to a non-WMF entity will solve our problem. We should be able to address the medical issues before we have a medical Siegenthaler; we already have a problem that medical sourcing isn't elevated to the level of BLP, but now we have an additional problem that the WMF is knowingly allowing a program where ill-prepared undergraduates are adding text to medical articles. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:50, 16 December 2012 (UTC)
Come to think of it, if MEDRS were policy like BLP is, I wouldn't have to be here asking whether I could revert on sight poor student edits (or any other poor medical edits, for that matter). In fact, if MEDRS were policy akin to the BLP revert poor sourcing on sight, no 3RR, almost every student edit that has hit my watchlist would be immediately removable without me even having to check for copyvio. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:02, 16 December 2012 (UTC)
Pine asked me to comment here, although I don't have much light to bring. The education program team—Jami and I particularly, but rest of the team as well in broad strokes—are following the discussion on this noticeboard. We're taking the copyvio problem very seriously. The copyvio issues that are coming up seem to be considerably more significant in scale than what we've seen before for US and Canada classes, and it's something we see as a big problem that needs to be fixed. In the short term, that means placing more emphasis on copyvio and plagiarism in the training and onboarding process for instructors, trying to make the student-facing materials on plagiarism scarier, and putting as much effort as we can next term into nipping copyvio problems in the bud (such as, on a class-by-class basis, asking professors to pro-actively monitor their students' diffs for plagiarism in classes that show the first sign of being a problem).
The new software (see Wikipedia:Course pages) has a new special pages, Special:Articles, which shows all the articles that students are working on. (Note that the naming will be changed to reflect the fact that the new course pages will include both Education Program classes and others in classes that are using the structured course pages.) As it starts seeing action in early 2013, I'll be seeking feedback on which software improvements would make it more useful for managing and preventing typical class editing problems. It doesn't have any copyvio-specific features; maybe that's something to explore, although it seems like from a technical standpoint that's an unsolved problem that is relevant throughout the project rather than just on student articles.
I can't speak to the legal stuff. I will note, Sandy, that there are many more experienced editors working for WMF that just me and Maggie (Moonriddengirl).--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:09, 16 December 2012 (UTC)

Sandboxes vs. mainspace edits

The sandbox issue is one that the education program has continually adjusted, to get a good balance between new editors learning the basics before jumping into a well-kept article and doing a whole re-write or new article in a sandbox without the editor realizing that they've gone off in a bad direction (resulting in either a huge dump of new work that needs cleanup, or the work never being used at all). In general, if students get into mainspace early, they are much more likely to interact with experienced editors and do better (and more) work that is solid, which is why we've advised limited use of sandboxes.

Here is the current "best practices" advice from the new student and educator trainings:

(Those are from the educators training, but they are also in the Ambassadors training and the last three are in the student training.)

Please feel free to edit those (and I'll try update the other trainings to reflect the consensus recommendations, based on those ones). The intended audience is both professors working with (or wanting to work with) the US and Canada Education Programs and teachers doing Wikipedia assignments independently.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 12:34, 16 December 2012 (UTC)

Re "To sandbox or not to sandbox?" and "Once you are happy with your draft you can place a notice on the talk page of the article with a link to your sandbox and ask for comments before editing the article itself", BAM-- there is the source of the problem. The issue is not to sandbox or not to sandbox; the problem is that students don't notice talk, or notice talk after they've done all their work. The issue is regardless of whether a student decides to sandbox, they should engage other editors early on by noticing their work on article talk. Nowhere is that stated. By the time we find out they've been working in sandbox, they are up against a grade deadline, and ... the rest is history. We should be telling them somewhere, if you decide to sandbox, placing a notice on article talk will help assure that experienced editors can guide and give you feedback ... or some such thing. I don't care where we come out on the sandbox issue, but I can't help students learn Wikipedia if I don't know they're working in sandbox until it's too late to change anything, and all they want is their grade. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 12:54, 16 December 2012 (UTC)
I agree with this as an ideal case, but I'm sceptical about whether it can be a general solution. The problem with asking for feedback from other editors is that in some cases there will be no feedback. We're all familiar with this from our own editing; I recall posting on the talk page of the first articles I took to FA, and getting no responses. What do we tell the students to do if there's no useful feedback within a given time? I agree that when an engaged editor interacts with an engaged student we get the best results, but often there's just not an editor available and interested. However, I do agree that it would be worth changing the guideline to recommend an early post to the talk page -- that will help in some cases. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:06, 16 December 2012 (UTC)
Well, if they notice article talk and it turns out that no one is watchlisting the article, then we can't complain if we don't like their work, but at least they won't be killing the watchlists of established editors when they drop in a bomb of faulty sandbox text. My (very frequent) problem is that they pick articles in the suite of Tourette syndrome because they are attracted to the bizarre, obscure topics (always stubs, because there's not much that can be said on those topics) and plow away working on them in sandbox without me knowing they are working. In every case, if I had known, I could have guided them to good sources and appropriate expansion. We both could have a better experience. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:12, 16 December 2012 (UTC)
See proposed edit here. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:29, 16 December 2012 (UTC)
When I train the campus ambassador, I told them that the talk page concept should be introduced as soon as possible (usually in conjunction with identifying the class of the article, since the classification is placed in the talk page anyway). I noticed that in the student training manual, sandbox was introduced in page 10 while talk page was introduced in page 15. Perhaps we could switch the order around? (And I'll be adding information to the training manual over the holidays to prepare the students better.) OhanaUnitedTalk page 20:58, 16 December 2012 (UTC)
Yeah, I agree that ordering makes more sense. I've switched it around. I'm also going to adjust the wording on all sandbox material so that we can use the same text for all the trainings (and thus keep it in sync as we edit it).--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:07, 17 December 2012 (UTC)
Okay, I've now done that, and also made some amendments to the pages about sandboxes, with some explicit advice for the instructors on how they can help make sure the students are on the right track.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:30, 17 December 2012 (UTC)
Thank you, Sage Ross; I hope highlighting best use of sandbox editing will be enough to make term-end less unpleasant "in my house". Time will tell! Thanks again, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:43, 17 December 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I have seen somewhere (but can't now locate it) a suggestion that students should copy an existing article into a sandbox, work on it there and eventually paste it back. I'm glad to see the guidance above doesn't suggest that, and it's important they shouldn't do it. Parallel versions are highly undesirable, because:

  • If other editors change the mainspace article after the student copies it out, their contributions will be lost when the revised one is pasted back. Technically that isn't an attribution problem, because their edits are still in the history, but they may not be happy to find their contributions effectively reverted without explanation.
  • If other editors work with the student on the sandbox version, their attribution will be lost when it is pasted back, unless a history-merge is done, which would need an admin.
  • If mainspace and sandbox versions are edited in parallel, even a history merge is no longer possible, because the two histories would get interleaved in the way described at WP:HISTMERGE#A troublesome case. One set of contributions will be lost, or have to be redone.

JohnCD (talk) 16:09, 17 December 2012 (UTC)

I agree that too much sandboxing isn't healthy. But also that any system that relies on normal editors responding to queries may fail. For example, I'm probably the only person with myoclonic epilepsy in their watchlist but may not be around. The "Your role as the expert" section of the pages above should emphasize that we expect the expert to vet article expansion and new article creation. In my experience with myoclonic epilepsy, the class was psychology students, not neurologists, and the "expert" wasn't. So in that case the prof should have steered the students back to a subject she knew something about. Because if the prof did know about the subject, they'd have know there wasn't much to say. And if the prof had known anything about Wikipedia, and had done any checking, she's have see that the propose expanded text merely duplicated what was already present elsewhere.
The talk page system wouldn't have worked for cerebral malaria which was expanded from a redirect. I'll give a smartie to anyone who can spot the howler in this version (offer excludes family and friends and members of WP:MED who have already had a laugh at it). The mistake is obvious to anyone with a reasonable education so no expert required there. It just shows how out-of-their-depth these students are. While cerebral malaria probably does deserve a small article, this one has been expanded to include too much of malaria's remit and with contradictory facts and figures. This subject was picked on by Introductory Neuroscience class of nearly 70 students. It seems to me that large classes like this can't be adequately supervised by one or two barely knowledgeable folk. Many of those students created articles that went to AfD but weren't deleted due to the problems with that system.
Is there any evidence that large classes (e.g. more than 10) or students from "Introduction to" subjects are a net benefit? I'm strongly tempted to propose we stop them until further noice. Colin°Talk 11:46, 18 December 2012 (UTC)
That article is full of errors. I have restored the redirect. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 17:20, 18 December 2012 (UTC)
I think part of the problem is that students bit off to much. They try to write a complete article. This often takes me a month to do properly (at least 40-80 hours). The repeat the same stuff over and over in different sections of the article. What needs to be done is they need to figure out what each section means than write improve one section at most. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 17:25, 18 December 2012 (UTC)
We saw that level of commitment at Marentette's psych class and it needs to come from the students and prof. And that was just a handful of students and a couple of articles. The cerebral malaria is a classic example of the difference between students and normal editors. It is a 2000 word article on an advanced subject written by a student studying something only tangentially related to the topic and who doesn't know the difference between a parasite and a virus, and supervised by a prof who doesn't seem to have reviewed or otherwise taken ownership of the article.
We need to accept that normal editors don't have the resources to review these articles for suitability, for correctness and for plagiarism. We therefore expect the profs and assistants to take ownership and responsibility for the student edits. In order to do that, the commitment required is high and the learning curve steep. Which brings us back to small classes and to intrinsically motivated students (i.e., advanced undergraduates and graduates) and to profs that don't just get excited by Wikipedia the concept (like Steve Joordens) but get excited by editing Wikipedia. Colin°Talk 17:53, 18 December 2012 (UTC)

Sample case

OK, let's take a sample case I just encountered, so we can use this to understand how professors, students, WMF staff, ambassadors, and the community can or should use this board. I will notify all involved parties next. My apologies to Mike Christie for just now encountering this, as I was reviewing old links he left on my page while I was mostly not editing (and my extra apologies to him for not being available all spring, summer and fall, as he repeatedly queried my talk). [9] I found this article by reviewing that course page for topics I'm familiar with.



One of the student's first edits to the article was to remove a large chunk of sourced text. Every single article edit was made in one day, just before the course ended. Within minutes of finishing the work, in one session, the (clearly unprepared) article was simultaneously nominated at both DYK and GAN, adding to the drain on resources at those pages; an established editor would have likely known the article was not GA quality, and we don't know if the course required her to submit these nominations.

The article contains blatant, easily spotted, outright cut-and-paste plagiarism from at least the online sources, meaning certainly the offline sources will need checking as well. Since the student plagiarized online sources, someone will need to access and check offline sources. Samples:

  1. [12] (the entire definition, not in quotes),
  2. [13],
  3. [14] (see [15])

I stopped there; since the first three edits contain plagiarism, it doesn't seem unreasonable to assume that the entire article does. Nor does it seem unreasonable to assume that neither the professor nor the ambassador (sorry, Mike, you know I adore you and value your work!) checked.

There are other style issues: grammatical, MOS, information and sections that should be eliminated-- in other words, a lot of cleanup needed. A good deal of the portions that need cleanup were in the article before the student started editing, but what the student did was 1) not fix faulty text or sections, while 2) deleting sourced information to 3) replace it with plagiarized text.

Cleanup will be easier once the plagiarism is removed, but since it wasn't detected on time, the article has been edited since. This article "looks" good, but it was not an improvement; it was a net negative to Wikipedia, and a drain on editor time.

Many courses require students to do a few edits before they start writing; Lcannaday's only other edits to Wikipedia were to:

  1. Remove a citation needed tag and replace it with a source that does not verify the text.
  2. Format that citation, which is worse, because the casual reader will assume that the notion of "play or music therapy" is cited text. SIx months later, that faulty and unsourced information is still in the article, looking to the casual reader as if it is well cited.

SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:21, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

While the DYK group is at least happy to have students posting DYKs last time we discussed it. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 19:18, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
Why drag the education program down to the standards of DYK? Tony (talk) 12:00, 15 December 2012 (UTC)


So, what admin is going to revert to pre-plagiarism, revdel or whatever adminly thing has to be done to remove the plagiarism, check the offline sources I can't access, etc? Once all that is done, I can cleanup the issues that were in the article pre-student editing. I'm more interested in using this example as a guide to how we should approach the hundreds or thousands of same that are out there. For starters, the professor should be uninvited, since he clearly wasn't engaging the project adequately. Since we know this professor wasn't checking for plagiarism, I suggest every article his course touched is suspect. Should we revert them all? Who is going to be responsbible for checking all of them? Is someone going to submit a copyvio investigation on the entire course? If these were not students, that is what we would be doing. So, how does this board plan to address this and similar situations? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:08, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

Nice example. I presume the DYK nom was rejected because no hook was suggested, leaving it incomplete. In my experience "One of the student's first edits to the article was to remove a large chunk of sourced text. Every single article edit was made in one day, just before the course ended" is very typical. I find many just blank the whole page before adding their text, but not of course things like categories or images. Do we even know what articles were involved in the whole class? This is often very hard to discover. Johnbod (talk) 17:13, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
List of articles and editors is on the course page; all of their contribs would need to be checked. This is a pretty clear sample of how many established editors and processes are wasting time on this misguided program. If this occurs under one of our finest editors and most diligent ambassadors (and it is not Mike's job to check all of this, what about the professor?), I shudder to think what else is out there. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:16, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
Agree that we need mechanisms in place to deal with the above issues brought forwards by Sandy. Who is supposed to address this? The more I see this the more I think we need some negative press and maybe a few people expelled. I might ping the NYTs to see if they are interested. A title like "Universities Students from College X Caught Adding Plagiarism to Wikipedia as Part of Class Work, Student Expelled, Prof. Reprimanded".
Anyway I will start collecting data going forwards. We have experimented. The issues are prominent. We now need a new strategy. While I agree it will be hard to keep profs from editing using on Wiki tools if we hold them responsible in real life via their dean they will take note. If we hold students to their universities plagiarism regulations we will improve their education. If they are allowed to get away with this they will never learn just what an issue it is. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 17:31, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
The school (not listed on the course page) is Gustavus Adolphus College. Contact info. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:46, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
Okay will compile a list of copyright related education program issues. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 18:26, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
From information on the school search engine, it appears that the student is likely to have graduated by now. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:30, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

(edit conflict)──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @ SandyGeorgia: Nice example. Having gone through the available information on the course page, I have some questions that I would need answered before I could come to all the conclusions you’ve come too. The fact that the article you cite has been edited in a manner that is a bad for WP is undeniable and unfortunate. The questions I have (and these have to be mostly rhetorical because I don’t think we can know the answers accurately after the fact):

  • Were the problems with this article a result of it being edited by a “student” or edited by “a new editor that didn’t know what they were doing”?
    • It would be interesting data to have: How many other WP articles were abused like this in the same time frame by completely new editors independent of any aspect of the EP?
  • What were the learning objectives for this course? They are not evident on the course page. I suspect they are somewhere in the documents on this university LMS (linked on the page) but not accessible to anyone outside the university. What role was Wikipedia (if any) supposed to play in achieving those learning objectives? How was the Wikipedia activity designed to support the learning objectives?
  • Did the Wikipedia activity have any bearing on the student’s grade? In other words, what was the expected deliverable (Wikipedia wise) from the students and how did the instructor intend to evaluate that deliverable?
  • Did the instructor have any counsel with an experienced Wikipedian in designing the appropriate Wikipedia related activity necessary to not only achieve learning objectives, but to not do things with WP that would harm the encyclopedia?
  • If indeed active WP activity was designed into the course objectives, what did the instructor do to ensure the students had the necessary skills to do it in an acceptable manner?
  • I did see some work on the course page that when leveraged correctly is always a net positive for WP because it does not require editing articles and causes zero burden on the community, yet provides benefit to the community. The article survey identifying gaps in sources, content, subject coverage, quality etc. is always valuable if it can be channeled in the right manner. Because I know little of professional psychology I can’t evaluate the quality of the student survey work in this case. But this type of survey work (in a sense literature reviews) is invaluable in identifying holes in the encyclopedia that experienced editors can help fill in.
  • On the specific issue of plagiarism, would be interesting to know what kind of emphasis is put on plagiarism in this particular university and this particular course? I do know that at MSU it is a major point of emphasis starting with freshmen and just not tolerated when it is discovered. In the freshman writing course we use Wikipedia in, the issue of plagarism is a key learning objective and woven into the entire course activities. I find it difficult to think that any university professor would tolerate plagarism whether it was associated with WP or not. So the question I would really like to know is what circumstances lead to the belief (by a student or students) that their plagiarism would be tolerated?

Again Sandy, good example which indeed demonstrates the potential adverse burden on the community if these types of activity aren’t avoided. But avoided they can be through good instructional design, good training, good resources outlining best practices, and collaborative activities between the Wikipedia community and academia. We have ample evidence that this can be done right? --Mike Cline (talk) 18:28, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

Thanks, Mike, but your response is kinda ... BS. Regardless of course objectives, plagiarism is always an issue any professor should be concerned with. Our issue here is the drain on our time when large blocks of text are plopped in all at once in one day because someone is after a grade. That is not how typical editors work; trying to compare this to the typical non-student editor misses the point we've been repeatedly raising. A "typical" editor would only edit apraxia because they knew or had an interest in the topic, not because they were required to edit something, and most folks knowing that content area would be aware of the controversy surrounding "music and play therapy". [16] We gained nothing from this student's edits; they were a net negative and a drain, and this is entirely representative of what I encounter. The questions raised for this one sample in a sea of same relate to how are we going to deal with these growing situations. You haven't answered those questions; you are looking for excuses. Perhaps Doc James has the only solution? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:36, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
Sandy - I asked a series of questions. That's all I did? You didn't ask me for a proposed solution, but if you had, I would have asked exactly the same questions. And in no way do my questions above condon or try to make excuses for the plagarism experienced and I think it is disengenuous of you to imply that I that I was condoning plagarism. Why is it so difficult for us (the community) to deal with this rationally? I think we all need to stop challenging everyone's motives in these discussions just because we have different experiences with EP related activities. Doc James idea may indeed be a solution to something and indeed there are issues that need solutioning, but I am not yet convinced I completely understand what is causing (systematically speaking) the problems. I do trust that whatever solutions the community seeks doesn't in the long run cause far more serious issues for the future of the encyclopedia. --Mike Cline (talk) 19:02, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
Mike, you said "potential adverse burden". It isn't potential. It is actual. Is that sinking in yet? You said "avoided they can be ... We have ample evidence that this can be done right?" Is that a question or a statement? If it is question then the answer is "hell no!". Where is this "evidence". The only analysis we have seen conducted didn't look at plagiarism and wasn't capable of determining if the articles were accurate and appropriately weighted summaries of the topic. I challenge you to find a single psychology undergraduate course that is a net benefit to Wikipedia. Colin°Talk 19:55, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
@Colin: Come on, the statement good example which indeed demonstrates the potential adverse burden on the community if these types of activity aren’t avoided. was a summary in a global context. It actually reinforces what you are saying--we've got to fix the issues or the problems will get worse. I get it, but what I don't understand is why everyone is looking for a scapegoat and cherry picking language to reinforce that search. --Mike Cline (talk) 21:17, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
@Colin: When I say ample evidence, I am saying that many of us who have used WP as a tool in the classroom have seen net benefits to WP without any adverse burden on the community. We've been creative in the way we use it. We've been creative in the ways we've engaged students and professors and we've used WP in ways that not only helped achieve learning objectives, the resulting scholarly work is now resident in the encyclopedia. The fact, and it is clearly a fact, the problems steming the from this Psychology class, are the result of someone using WP in the classroom that didn't know what they were doing. That doesn't mean we all don't know what we doing. And if you participated in the RfC you had ample opportunity to see results of the successful activities stemming from the EP. --Mike Cline (talk) 21:17, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
Mike, I don't think you appreciate how your language pushes real issues that have occurred into hypothetical possibilities that might occur. It is a technique in bullshit, as Sandy puts it. It would be good to find out what makes a good class and what doesn't because nobody it appears has done the analysis. It certainly appears that the few classes that have a hefty dose of experienced wikipedians working along side the students, in non-scientific non-medical subjects can do well. Which just reinforces my feeling that for non-arts subjects, I'm sceptical that undergrads are suitable, and that we need to ensure those running the course are wikipedians. Colin°Talk 15:47, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
Mike, can you give some examples of the articles that resulted from your own use of WP in the classroom, so that we can read through some of the better ones? I've looked at the legal examples Kevin offered, which make it clear that it's possible for WP to benefit, but so far these are in the tiny minority. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:25, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
If we as a movement are going to activity promote editing by universities (and spend money on this effort ) we better make sure that the quality of the output is higher than that of a new editor. This is how I feel it the program has been pitched to the community and thus we need to make sure it is delivered.
I agree getting bad press for universities / classes / students that plagiarize could have some long term negative effects. But if we are going to be taken seriously, which I think is a more important goal, it is worth the risk. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 19:08, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
I can't say what the initial wave of EP promotion was, but when I became involved during the USPP, we were not promoting editing WP by universities, we were promoting the use of WP as tool in the classroom. There is an important distinction here because as a tool, WP has far greater utility in the classroom than just editing. However, for WP to ultimately recieve any benefit from its use in the classroom, some editing by someone (not always inexperienced students) must be done to leverage the scholarly work accomplshed by the students. However that is accomplished, that editing activity shouldn't be harming, but should be helping the encyclopedia. So as we look to solutions we need to remain cognizant in many cases the problems caused go beyond mere "editing" shortfalls. You can turn a light off with a basketball, but the results aren't usually good for the light bulb. --Mike Cline (talk) 19:52, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
"to leverage the scholarly work accomplshed by the students" - how about the massive scholarly work done by regular wikipedians with no "help". To me this whole education ruckus points out what regular wikipedians have accomplished, and how little the "students" have done, even with special treatment. This whole educational initiative I see as turning upside down the wonderful spirit that has created this encyclopedia so far without so-called "academics", though academics are among the regular wikipedians. And now the community is being asked to clean up the problems created by EP courses. MathewTownsend (talk) 21:32, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
A good light bulb does not provoke basketball throwing. Biosthmors (talk) 21:42, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
I consider myself a academic but really only with respect to Wikipedia. Maybe we need to start our own university and hand out our own certificates :-) Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 00:27, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Cluttering again

  • Regarding the DYK nom, Johnbod is right in that the nom was rejected immediately in part because there was no hook (or anything else, basically) in the nom. Another point was the length of the article: before the student worked on it, cluttering was 5690 characters. Afterwards, it was only 7820 characters, or an expansion of less than 1.5x. As previous experience with the psychology classes taught me that the student would never revisit the nom, I decided to IAR and close it immediately with no chance of passing. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 22:32, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Does anyone need a revert + revdel for cluttering, to deal with what is here now? If you need it for diffs, I'll leave it, but I think we should have an article for readers for this fairly popular article — Crisco 1492 (talk) 22:46, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
  • I don't know. I have no way of checking the offline sources, so my best guess would be to delete the whole thing. I was hoping someone with journal access could check whether the copyvio extends beyond the online sources. I emailed the professor, he sounds quite busy, but seems willing to revisit this when he is less busy. I don't know how we should handle this; that's why I put it up as an example. I pinged Moonriddengirl to look in here about 10 hours ago. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:54, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Okay, I've reverted to an earlier version for readers but left the old edits in the history so that they can be discussed. A rewrite would probably be better, but one would have to be pretty well versed in psychology (unlike me) to do so. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 22:59, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Hi. Sorry. I had family obligations last night. I think what you did, Sandy, was a fine solution - that's what the {{copyvio}} template is for. What Crisco 1492 did was a fine solution, too - given the backlog at WP:CP, it could be months before it's cleaned otherwise. This way, we have the article, but the problematic content is gone. Wikipedia:Copyright violations says, "If all of the content of a page appears to be a copyright infringement or removing the problem text is not an option because it would render the article unreadable, check the page history; if an older non-infringing version of the page exists, you should revert the page to that version." I do understand your reluctance. I hate having to do that when other contributors have polished content. :( --Moonriddengirl (talk) 14:26, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Proposed solutions

We should IMO spend some time discussing solutions. We have fairly clearly identified a problem. I propose getting press for these concerns using concrete cases. We can than point profs who are interested in being involved to these articles so that they see involvement as requiring supervision not simply a free source of TAs. Do others have comments on this idea or other ideas? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 19:11, 14 December 2012 (UTC)

Perhaps the WMF would like to initiate the press releases so the "spin" will be less ... detrimental. Maybe if "they" put out something to stem the tide, "we" wouldn't be so burdnened with the cleanup that resulted from their earlier promotion of this program. If they don't do something to end this misguided progarm, they can't complain if the New York Times helps. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:55, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
I wouldn't want to see a story along the lines of "plucky Wikipedians save the day again, please give more money to the Wikimedia Foundation."
As a longer-term approach I would like to see an ethics committee examine this program to decide whether it's in the students' interests. I'm thinking of a committee composed of a member of a major university's ethics committee, people from a big teaching union and a students' union, and a sociologist or philosopher who specializes in educational ethics. What is happening here is that one set of unpaid contributors (students) is being pitted against another set (Wikipedians), both sides forced to be involved -- the students for a course credit and the Wikipedians because no one else will clean up. And the people who are being paid to be involved (the teachers, the staffers, and whoever else) unwilling to take responsibility, perhaps because each group feels some other group is in charge.
Who is actually in charge of the program as things stand? It used to be Frank Schulenburg. Is that still the case? SlimVirgin (talk) 20:18, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
Simple answer: [17], more complex question: Who's in charge of Wikipedia and who can we blame for all the silly unproductive disruption that occurs everyday 24/7 in every corner of this community. This is a frigging global undisciplined collaborative of unpaid volunteers that have somehow created ~4,000,000 + articles of free knowledge without killing anyone. We are just trying to get better at that. --Mike Cline (talk) 20:34, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
Would you please, please, stop bouncing back all criticism by saying look at all the crap that everyday users do. Can you just focus on the EP and its net-benefit-how-can-we-fix-it issues. WP:OTHERCRAPEXISTS. The undergrad student edits are a perfect storm of editors ignorant of their subject being supervised by professors who are ignorant of Wikipedia. Colin°Talk 20:53, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
That page doesn't say who's in charge of the education program; it doesn't even list everyone working for it (e.g. Sage). Do you know whether Frank is still in charge (and why is it so difficult to get answers to straightforward questions)? SlimVirgin (talk)
Slim, I think Jami answered this above [18] but one can presume that indeed Frank heads the Global Education Program and Jami, working for Frank has the stick on the US/CAN Program. I cannot speak to who in the WMF has any authority or responsibility for any specific aspect of the Education Programs. I am just an unpaid Volunteer in Wikipedia land. --Mike Cline (talk) 21:30, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
It's slightly complicated, because there are several transitions going on simultaneously. But I'll do my best to answer. Frank Schulenburg was until recently the Global Education Program director, and so broadly in charge of all of WMF's education program efforts. However, he's had expanded responsibilities since the departure of Barry Newstead and, as announced recently as part of the restructuring of WMF to narrow its focus, Frank has a new role, "Senior Director of Programs", which means the Global Education Program is now just a part of his area. WMF is currently searching for a Global Education Program Senior Manager. The Global Education Program staff includes Annie Lin and LiAnna Davis; they focus primarily (almost exclusively, in Annie's case) on Education Programs on other language wikis. Annie manages Jami Mathewson (a full-time contractor), and LiAnna manages me (a part-time contractor, which may be why I'm not listed on the staff page, but actually I think I just got forgotten... :( ). Jami and I are the only WMF people who whose primary responsibilities are the US and Canada Education Programs; Jami works with the Regional Ambassadors and the Working Group, screens professors who apply to participate, and is the primary staffer in charge of the US and Canada Programs. My main roles involve improving our training material and similar resources (handouts, videos, etc) for students, instructors and new Ambassadors, doing everything except the actual development related to the new extension for structured course pages, and whatever else needs doing that I can fit in. So in a day-to-day sense, Jami is in charge.
However, the other transition currently going on is the hand-off of the US and Canada Programs. Thus, in terms of the future of program and decision-making about significant changes to how it works, no one at Wikimedia Foundation is in charge at this point. The Working Group and its successors, and the English Wikipedia community more broadly as well as the community of instructors, Ambassadors, and other volunteers of the program (ie, all the "stakeholders"), now have that responsibility.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 22:08, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the information, Sage. Whose decision was it to take a hands-off approach to the US-Canada program, but not to the rest? SlimVirgin (talk) 22:20, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
One tires of hearing inappropriate comparisons of Wikipedia to "the real world", but WMF jobs are, theoretically real world. "Frank has a new role, 'Senior Director of Programs', which means the Global Education Program is now just a part of his area." So, for his effort in overseeing a failed program, Frank has been rewarded with a promotion? Only on Wikipedia. Should we now expect more of these wonderful programs? Sage Ross, I've always known you to be a competent editor; I'm not surprised that you are being overlooked by the not-real-Wikipedians who appear to be increasingly in charge, or trying to be in charge, or something. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:28, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
WMF has a direct hand in only a few programs right now; most of the programs (I think there are 26 of them at last count) are either run by chapters or by volunteers independently. The plan is to hand those off as well, as soon as it is feasible to do so. In terms of who made that decision precisely, I'm not sure, but it's part of the broader "narrowing focus" restructuring going on right now; Wikimedia Foundation is moving away from directly running programs to instead focus on engineering and grantmaking.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 22:31, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
Can you find out who made that decision? It's actually not feasible for the Foundation to hand off the US-Canada program just yet, and the situation is causing quite a bit of bad feeling. I thought the recent RfC (which was not well publicized) didn't reach a clear consensus, yet it seems the hand-off is going ahead anyway. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:36, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
As far as I'm aware the WMF has not yet made a final decision about whether to create a separate organization. The RfC was no-consensus, as you say, and a summary to that effect will be included in the final report to the WMF. I was the one who publicized the RfC; was there more I should have done? The list of notifications is visible here. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:13, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
I made some comments abuot some of those other grantmaking debacles and this program here on my talk page to NYB. (Slim, I mentioned you and Malleus there.) And it was Frank who moved my comments earlier in the year off of this board to talk, trying to shut down criticism. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:58, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
Can anyone estimate how many articles in the Category:Possible copyright violations are associated with EP activity. I am just not that familar with the whole range of articles being impacted here. I realize that yet undiscovered or unreported copyvios don't show up here but one might extrapolate the same ratio within the undiscovered pool. Additionally, do we have an estimate of how many US/CAN EP related articles over the course of the entire program have had copyvio issues? Just a question of the true scope of the problem. --Mike Cline (talk) 20:24, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
Mike, essentially nobody is looking. By and large, the only people with good access to the sources the students are using are those setting the assignments. And they aren't looking (find me an example of a prof or assistant pro-actively removing the stuff). But what we find, is that whenever we look, we find it. I've removed lots of copyvio additions by students but haven't reported at any noticeboard. And what I've removed is only the tip of the iceberg in those classes I've looked at because I don't have good journal access, never mind access to student textbooks. This is what makes it truly frustrating that the people least capable of successfully find plagiarism are those actually most likely to find it and fix it. Why should that be? Colin°Talk 20:48, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
Mike, I have only just started looking at these articles, but so far they have almost all contained plagiarism (word-for-word copying) or very close paraphrasing (where the student lifts a sentence from a source and slightly tweaks it, lifts the next sentence and slightly tweaks it, so that they essentially reproduce the text, but without in-text attribution). However, so far I haven't found an example of the really dishonest kind of plagiarism that doesn't cite the source at all. All the ones I've seen do include the source in footnotes, which suggests to me that the students have not been told what plagiarism is, and believe that citing in a footnote is enough. This is why it's so easy to find, which makes it surprising that the teachers didn't find it, and in fact suggests that they didn't check. And yet they offered grades for those essays. It's something that really does need to be asked of them, because the alternative is that they did see the plagiarism and took it into account when grading, but then didn't remove it from Wikipedia. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:04, 14 December 2012 (UTC)
I came across a student who plagiarized a paragraph from one journal article and referenced it to a second one. Often google schoolar or google books will pick it up. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 00:20, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

I'm very confused by the plagarism issue. If the sources are cited then how it is plagarism? Some of parts of the article was 100% copied from a book but I thought that didn't matter as long as it was cited where we got the information from.

-- student comment

Colin°Talk 16:03, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

An accomplished writer. Here's another revealing student quote:

Keep Don't care if it stays up. Just need it up until December 18th to get credit for a into to neuroscience class.

-- student quote from AFD SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:21, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

Back to my original questions

When we find plagiarism, indicating that the prof didn't check the work, what should we do?

  1. Should we revert every student in that class, since we know the prof wasn't checking?
  2. Should we disinvite the prof from the education program?
  3. Should we submit a Copyright investigation on the entire class?
  4. Who will locate offline sources and do the work to check these classes?
  5. Should we contact the University?
  6. Should this board have a method for starting subpaged, case files on individual courses and profs that are causing significant issues (similar to CCIs or the Dispute resolution noticeboard, so that we have records). The articles that have given me problems seem to be coming from the same professors.

etcetera ... SandyGeorgia (Talk) 05:09, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

My personal opinions, for whatever they are worth:
  1. That's an acceptable option, but it should probably be subject to some amount of actual examination of the pages, rather than automatic rollbacks.
  2. I'd support that, myself.
  3. Yes, and that should perhaps happen before reverting, unless the copyvios are obvious.
  4. That's a real problem, and I don't have an answer beyond the copyvio noticeboard.
  5. No. Not our job. (What happens if the professor sues WMF? When I was a professor, we were told, strongly, not to contact a student's employer with negative information about the student unless either the employer or the student asked us for a reference.)
  6. I think that's a good idea, and sooner or later will become a necessity.
--Tryptofish (talk) 20:37, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
  1. Uncertain about this. But at the minimum, no nuking.
  2. It's possible, but what can you accomplish with this "disinvite"? If he/she wants to do it, this disinvite won't stop it. Slap a real-life topic ban on the prof, prohibiting him from using wiki as teaching tool? Not only does it sound silly, it's not enforceable & is outside of our jurisdiction (plus running the risk of being called out as restricting academic freedom). If you think "students at XYZ university got caught plagiarizing, prof admonished" was bad press already, think about the next day's headline that resembles something like "Wikipedia free culture implements new rules, interferes with academic freedom".
  3. Yes, I guess you could, on the condition that not every student's contributions are reverted en-masse (per #1).
  4. What's the current procedure for suspected copyright violation for non-Education program participants?
  5. Absolutely not. That can be viewed as off-wiki harassment and there have been several ArbCom cases with regards to "contacting the employer" that can serve as pointers.
  6. Haven't checked whether the Education Extension supports this feature, but that sounds feasible and reasonable.
OhanaUnitedTalk page 05:34, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
Regarding point 4: where users have a demonstrated history of copyright problems, material cited to sources that are unavailable, or where the relative date of article vs source cannot be determined (as with an old mirror), may be removed presumptively and held to the standard that someone must check for plagiarism before it can be re-added. So taking that into account: if you're assuming a class-wide CCI, you could legitimately, according to our procedures, justify a mass revert of all student-added material with offline sources. Given your other answers I'm guessing that's not the solution you would advocate? Nikkimaria (talk) 05:52, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
And point 5: certainly I wouldn't be comfortable going off-wiki to advocate punishment for a student, but I think it would be reasonable to drop a note to the class ambassador or prof. Ideally they would be on top of this already, but in practice that isn't always the case. For example, if there was an indication that students were unclear on what plagiarism was (as with a comment presented elsewhere on this page), that would definitely be something that would be beneficial to bring to the prof's attention. It does need to be treated delicately, though. Nikkimaria (talk) 05:57, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
An additional consideration occurred to me later. From where the professor sits, their professional responsibility with respect to student plagiarism is to deal with it within the educational institution. If the professor concludes that there was plagiarism, the student will be graded accordingly and whatever adjudication procedures exist may come into play. From the professor's point of view, that takes care of it. Going back and cleaning up Wikipedia isn't going to be something they are thinking about, unless they are genuinely attuned to how we do things. Thus, we cannot assume that they understand things the way that we do. There needs to be some education, of the instructors, about what we expect of them. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:49, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
@ Nikki, I was only trying to obtain more information for point #4, since I rarely do these types of investigations. OhanaUnitedTalk page 16:26, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

Nuking IEP sandboxes

Hi all, I've been trying to work through some of the massive backlog at WP:CCI (largely not to blame on students btw!) and have a proposal to help speed things up. As I'm sure you all know, the IEP yielded a lot of garbage including a ton of copyright violations. This happened both in mainspace and in sandboxes. I'd like to nuke all of the sandbox pages of users who did not continue to be active after the course ended, without evaluating them further. Right now there are thousands upon thousands of articles at CCI waiting to be evaluated, with the backlog growing by the day, and I don't think checking this for copyvio is a good use of anyone's time. Any thoughts/opposition/support? Calliopejen1 (talk) 01:04, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

Sounds like a good idea to me. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:35, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Me too.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:57, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Agreed. bobrayner (talk) 18:56, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Agree, definitely. JohnCD (talk) 22:50, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

Pointer to education-related discussion

here and here. Beyond My Ken (talk) 21:47, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

Some experiences on chemistry articles

Background: I have edited WP on-and-off for many years and consider myself reasonable knowledgable on wiki-policy, editing, and on chemistry. I have an FA, a couple of GAs, and a bunch of DYKs, as well as a PhD in chemistry. I also have an academic background, being a published researcher and having taught undergraduate chemistry. I have never used WP for teaching or assessment, but have worked on articles that have been edited (poorly and well) by student editors. Obviously, all opinions are my own and do not represent the chemistry or chemicals WikiProjects, the FAC, GA, or DYK communities, or the instructors or students with whom I have interacted. The Chemistry WikiProject, FYI, has a considerable number of student-related articles being edited.

Comments: One very positive example from my experience comes from the oxaziridine article which DMelvinKaphan (talk · contribs) built to this point in December 2010 (there were a few small edits from others, but the work was almost exclusively DMelvinKaphan's). I classify this as a "student editor"'s work because s/he describes him- or her-self as "an undergraduate chemistry major at the University of Rochester. The impetus for creation of this account was to publish a wikipedia page on the chemistry of oxaziridines, a subject that has heretofore been neglected from the Wikipedia" on her or his user page. I don't know if it was an assignment. DMelvinKaphan nominated the article for GA, which it passed on 29 December 2010, and I nominated it for DYK, the article making its front page appearance on 14 December 2010 (1332 views). The article has deteriorated recently, now being tagged as having a lead problem, though a request at WT:CHEMISTRY#Oxaziridine seeks help in this area. The article has received more than 3600 views in the last 90 days. Unfortunately, DMelvinKaphan has not edited since April 2011.

Around the same time, I had positive interactions with MichChemGSI (talk · contribs), working with a group of students. On the article isolobal principle, this single edit addition added 12000 bytes of material. Now, I'm not wild about the dump-a-huge-change-and-vanish approach by (like Chem507f10grp5 (talk · contribs)) (all of this editor's other edits were in a sandbox, but looking at the diff between that addition and the current version, covering 31 edits, shows that the addition has remained largely intact. The article's topic relates to Hoffman's work that earned him the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. I nominated the article for DYK, and it was viewed 2368 times when it appeared on the main page on 23 December 2010. The article has been viewed 3372 times in the last 90 days.

A more difficult case from that group of students concerned the insertion reaction article. The history is harder to follow as the sandbox-to-mainspace move was made by MichChemGSI as a cut-and-paste move. As he was not the student(s), a history merge and cleanup was required - see discussions on his talk page - and the cessation of the strudents sharing a single account (like Chem507f10grp3 (talk · contribs)) was also done around this time. In short, this was what the students contributed, much of it good, but also very unbalanced. There are many other insertion reactions that are not covered in this article, as my 14000 byte addition to their 19000 byte draft shows. Most of the follow-up clean-up was done by Smokefoot (talk · contribs) who removed much material that belonged in the migratory insertion article. I nominated the article for DYK, at it received 454 views, likely partly due to it appearance being on 26 December 2010. There was a lot of work needed on the article following the student editing, but the article is a definite improvement of the 'pedia, in my opinion.

More recent experiences have been more problematic. The article on niobium(V) ethoxide was started by Kolmodi2 (talk · contribs), likely by "borrowing" the ethanol article then blanking it. The student's completed version might be best described as chemically flawed. For the non-chemists, that compound is not an organometallic compound, so the lead is almost entirely false. Comparing to the current version, almost none of the student version remains except the infobox data. Even the structure image was massively flawed. Rifleman 82 (talk · contribs) and then I worked on cleanup, then Smokefoot made a major improvement (correcting material I had doubted using sources he had to hand). I don't know who is grading / supervising Kolmodi2, but the contribution this student made was very poor, in my opinion.

Another problematic example is Ryanhan2 (talk · contribs)'s article on allylcyclopentane, which was created via the AfC process. Though the amount of text is not insignificant, the actual cointent is a re-hashing of infobox information mixed with chemical and logical errors. Quite understandably, Smokefoot's response to this article was to nominate it for deletion, a discussion which was closed as "Keep" despite any real policy-based support. During the AfD, most of the content was removed and with Rifleman 82's removal of "junk references", the article is now a three-sentence stub with a single reference. Ryanhan2 has not edited since 28 November. I have no idea what the instructor thinks of Ryanhan2's work, but I think that the effort of the community here has been far more than is justified by a three-sentence-plus-infobox stub. I have since added a second reference, the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics which I have used to support infobox data. I did this because I noticed that the original article included values for ΔcH° (−32 kJ mol−1 for the liquid, −12 kJ mol−1 for the gas). These values seemed to me to be improbably small, but were attributed to the CRC Handbook, a reliable and respected source. I did not find any value for this quantity in the reference at the place indicated, another flaw in the draft, but the Handbook does support several infobox values so I added those references. I've also added an MSDS. EdChem (talk) 09:57, 16 December 2012 (UTC)

Addendum: I posted this on SandyGeorgia's talk page which mentions my concerns about additions to the metallocene article, so I haven't expanded on it here.

Notifications: I have posted at WT:CHEMISTRY (which I am sure Rifleman and Smokefoot will see) and individually to MichChemGSI to invite comments and opinions. EdChem (talk) 05:13, 16 December 2012 (UTC)

Wrt your allylcyclopentane deletion problems. This is an issue with student edits. They are encouraged to write complete articles. So they pick stubs and even redirects or create new articles. Often the creation/expansion wasn't wise. Due to the inclusionist attitude at AfD, it is practically impossible to delete anything, no matter how misguided and confusing. I'm strongly tempted in these cases to ignore the AfD and turn it into a redirect to the class of compound it belongs to, or similar. Just use your common-sense, which the folk at AfD don't seem to have. Colin°Talk 08:54, 16 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for your thoughts, Colin - I have not participated in many AfDs and I was surprised that the closer didn't weigh the policy support differently. After all, the claims about referencing were refuted and I see no evidence that notability was actually established. But, the !vote count went to the keeps. EdChem (talk) 09:19, 16 December 2012 (UTC)
That AFD was disappointing, IMO. I'm not a fan of credentialism but I think the wikichemists here tend to be better able to evaluate the quality of a proposed article than the average person who hangs around AFD. I'm thinking again of those poor references that were used to support that article. --Rifleman 82 (talk) 14:20, 16 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, EdChem, for a very thoughtful and balanced analysis. My overall impressions of good and bad are pretty similar in the neuroscience area. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:11, 16 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, Tryptofish, I appreciate your feedback. I'm disappointed that this thread has generated so little response, though, especially from the WMF representatives. I was hoping for too much, apparently. EdChem (talk) 13:24, 22 December 2012 (UTC)
I'm not sure what kind of response you're looking for. The recent problems you pointed out are from classes that aren't part of the Education Program. If there is something you see that Jami or I could help with, let us know. Conversations with the instructors about how to avoid those problems if similar assignments are used in the future is usually the best approach.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:03, 22 December 2012 (UTC)

Limited paraphrase question

This may not be the right place to ask this question, but I've been reviewing source usage for student articles -- this was a topic that came up higher up this page. I'm looking at both student and non-student edits. There are a few edits that I'd like to get second opinions on. Could folks comment on whether the following are acceptable, or are covered by WP:LIMITED, or are unacceptable close paraphrasing? I'll number these so folks can refer to them by number in responses.

1. Text in source: "Chile has the lowest female participation rate in the work force in all of Latin America." Text in article: "Chile has the lowest rate of female participation in the work force in all of Latin America"

2. Text in source: "Chile is one of the only states in the world to have elected a female president". Text in article: "Chile legalized divorce in 2004 and is also one of the only countries to have elected a female president."

3. Text in source: "Although 47.5% of university students are women, many university graduates choose to be homemakers instead of seeking employment." Text in article: "Despite 47.5% of students in college are women, many still chose to join the workforce, choosing to be homemakers."

4. Text in source: "women activists in Chile pressed presidential candidates in 2009 to pursue reforms that helped women to enter the workforce, including job training, maternity leave options, and flexible working schedules." Text in article: " In 2009, activists demanded that presidential candidates develop reforms that would improve work conditions for women. Reforms included maternity leave, flexible work schedules and job training."

5. Text in source: "Younger women often choose cohabitation over marriage and they have fewer children." Text in article: "Today, younger women are opting out of marriage and having fewer children than their predecessors."

6. Text in source: "In 2002, urban women had a fertility rate of 2.1 children per woman. Rural women have more children, at 2.9 children per woman, but they too have less children than in the 1990s." Text in article: "A 2002 study reported that urban women average 2.1 children per woman with women living in rural areas having more children, at 2.9. As of the 1990s, both urban and rural women were averaging fewer children than previously."

7. Text in source: "Women in Chile have a long life expectancy and high rates of literacy. Women live on average 80.8 years" Text in article: "Women in Chile have long life expectancy, living an average of 80.8 years, about six years longer than men"

8. Text in source: "It is estimated, unofficially, that between 120,000 and 160,000 women have illegal abortions each year" Text in article: "Estimates range between 120,000 and 160,000 for the number of Chilean women who have illegal abortions each year."

-- Any comments? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:43, 18 December 2012 (UTC)

I've posted a request for further opinions at WT:CLOSE. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:54, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
  • You also have to look at them together, & then these are certainly over the line. Some also may distort the source, a common problem when close paraphrasing is being struggled against - eg in 8. is there one estimate between 120,000 and 160,000, or are there in fact many "estimates"? No. 6 clearly distorts the source, pushing the change back in time. No. 1 is near to WP:LIMITED, but repeats the unecessary "all of" as 2. repeats the clunky "only". Many might be ok if there were only 1 or 2 such instances in a longish passage, but if they all come fairly close together there is a problem. My thoughts. Johnbod (talk) 03:41, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
  • No. 1 looks more like plagiarism than close paraphrasing, #2 makes no sense (lots of countries have elected females, what kinds of sources is this article using), #3 is ungrammatical and incorrect but if they had gotten it right, as per Johnbod, add up all of these instances and the paraphrasing is too close. # 4 looks close, #5 misrepresents the source. # 6 misrepresents the source. #7 too close. #8, meh. Revert the whole thing; shoddy. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 08:39, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
Re #2, yes, more than I thought at List of elected or appointed female heads of state. Johnbod (talk) 12:40, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Mike, the issue with very close paraphrasing is not so much about any particular sentence, but about how much of the article has been written that way. Sometimes there is just a limited way of saying certain things, but where you have paragraph after paragraph composed that way, it means that someone else's work – their words and the flow of their thought – has been reproduced almost exactly without in-text acknowledgment. If students would learn that giving an overview of the secondary literature, including the names of the authors (Smith wrote that X, Jones argued that Y), is actually a good thing, the problem would be solved, but somewhere along the line they're not being taught that. This is surprising, because one of the points of a student essay is to show that you're familiar with the secondary literature, and who has said what, and the point of a WP article is to offer the same. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:19, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
    Understood, and I see the sense in making the case, as you do, that the question is how prevalent this approach is throughout the article, but that's a very high burden on an editor (student or not) coming in and adding a fact. When I edit an article I try not to go anywhere near the boundaries of WP:LIMITED, but if I do, I certainly don't check that other nearby citations are using the leeway provided by LIMITED, and I'm sure few, if any, editors would make that check.
    What I'm trying to do is get an objective read on what constitutes acceptable editing by taking examples from an existing article that students and other editors have worked on. These eight examples are by three different editors, only one of whom was a student, and the edits were not all made at the same time and are not all in one location in the article. If a student (or any editor) adds content to an article, what guidance can we give them as to whether their edits are acceptable? Telling students that LIMITED only applies if other edits by prior editors don't make extensive use of it isn't useful to them. What do we say instead?
    -- Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 17:50, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
    I agree with SlimVirgin in that it is hard to judge on a sentence-by-sentence basis, especially when many of the sentences are so factual. It is a case when it is hard to paraphrase in completely different language. I know that I have directly copied sentences because there is simply no other way to say a certain fact - sometimes the language is too technical. Wadewitz (talk) 21:51, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
  • I agree about not judging snippets. But sometimes snippets are all these students add. In the worst case, with the infamous canadian 1500-student class, the students were asked to pick a source and insert a factoid from the source. This was almost guaranteed to produce direct copying. The students didn't have multiple sources to draw on. They didn't have enough text that they could be inventive with the way the information was presented. And since they were on an "introduction to " course, they didn't understand the subject so we unable to reword the technical language. With subjects where precise language and jargon abound, it is very difficult for a non-expert to rephrase without changing the meaning, or just plain getting the wrong end of the stick. I often found that when the students did attempt to rephrase, their text made no sense. I didn't help, however, that on this particular course it appeared their student textbook often made no sense either.
Avoiding these problems require the students to be significantly condensing their source material and to understand their subject. If they don't have enough source material to condense, then we get the above examples where the source and article text contain exactly the same amount of facts and a limited way to say it or reorganise it. Colin°Talk 15:14, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

I'm not sure if everyone who's commented here realizes this, but not all of the example edits above are by students; they are by three different editors, only one of whom is a student.

Here is a marked up copy of the article version I am analyzing. All uses of the four sources in question are marked up in blue, green or red, to indicate which editor added that material. (I.e. you can think of them as blue editor, green editor, and red editor.) The eight examples above are the only uses of those sources where there's any question about close paraphrasing -- I've underlined those in the marked up copy.

My question for this group is: given what you see in the marked up copy, what should we tell the student? (For the moment I'd rather not say which colour represents the student, just to avoid any unconscious bias in the responses. The other two editors are very experienced and long term Wikipedians.) In particular, a couple of responses above pointed out that the question of whether this sort of paraphrasing was acceptable depended on the context and the density of this kind of paraphrase; the markup should give you some additional context to answer that question.

My original motivation with this analysis was to find out just how much misuse of sources was going in student work, and to compare that with the source usage standards visible in the same articles, by looking at non-student work in those articles. I confess I'm rather surprised to discover that I'm stuck at this early point unable to make a definite statement about whether the student, or the regular editors, were using their sources correctly. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:00, 21 December 2012 (UTC)

Frankly, I'm not sure if this nitpicking is very productive. These are all simple factual sentences in isolation, not entire chunks of the article or snippets of colorful prose. There is no plausible copyright violation in any of the above cases, as none of those sentences (taken alone) entail enough originality to be covered by copyright. Close paraphrasing is only a problem if it is reproducing a source substantially or reproducing prose that is clearly distinct. There are plenty of examples of students (and regular editors) copying entire paragraphs with minimal (or no) changes, so I think we have bigger fish to fry than the cases above. For the record, several of the examples above are my own edits as I was a substantial contributor to that article. However, I'm also a peer reviewer for an academic journal, and I can assure you that there is no such thing as an academic article that doesn't include some amount of close paraphrasing (if you analyze it sentence by sentence). We are all writers building upon and distilling the works of others; we aren't writing original novels here. Kaldari (talk) 18:39, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
I agree this is not productive, and I don't think I'll continue with the analysis. At one point it looked as if people were suggesting that all student contributions were bad, and I felt the best way to determine if that was true was to do a better job of quantifying the good and bad work done by students. It doesn't look like this approach will work. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 21:53, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
Hi Mike, I think the problem with the example you chose is that it involves very ordinary language – there are only so many ways of saying that a country elected one of the first female presidents. You would need to find an article with more colourful language to make a meaningful comparison, and it would have to focus on chunks of copied material, not the occasional sentence. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:28, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
Well, OK, but what I really wanted to do was take twenty randomly selected articles, and evaluate whether the students improved them or not. I'd rather have an evaluation approach that worked on every article, regardless of the type of language used. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 22:54, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
It's a good idea, but first you'd have to find a way to make sure the random selection really was random. The other issue is that it involves focusing on individuals, which I don't feel is fair. But maybe it could be done somewhere less public. SlimVirgin (talk) 23:04, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
A random sample of articles was chosen for the spring 2012 quality analysis; I was going to analyze a subset of those (partly because of shortcomings that have been pointed out with that analysis). Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:17, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
That one mixed up new articles with start class; arguably almost anything would be an improvement on nothing (except copy-pasting). It would be more meaningful if you could select all articles from the latest courses where students worked on start or C-class articles, then choose 20 at random, filtering out any where the same student had edited more than one article so you don't examine the same person's work twice. I don't know how hard it is technically to set that up.
As for the point system, I can't see how that would produce a meaningful result. Adding length isn't always an improvement, neither is adding refs, or any of the other objective measurements, because everything depends on the quality of what was added, the relationship between the refs and the writing, and the quality of writing, none of which can be reduced to an algorithm. That doesn't mean that a group of Wikipedians who focus on content wouldn't be able to agree, but it would have to be done via reviews, rather than using a point system. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:02, 22 December 2012 (UTC)
That assessment was in fact done via human review. The point system was intended to give everyone a common metric. The assessment methodology certainly has flaws but the correlation with quality isn't zero. The two biggest shortcomings in the quality metric are first, if the reviewer doesn't have specific subject matter expertise he or she may not be able to tell if added (and well-referenced) material is actually relevant to the article; and second, there is no requirement to check to see whether the students were using sources appropriately. Those shortcomings don't automatically make the quality assessment meaningless, but they indicate the final numbers are an overestimate of quality. It would be good to know to what extent they are an overestimate. So far it appears that the first problem is at least frequent in psychology and medical articles, and is of unknown frequency elsewhere. The second problem, misuse of sources, is what I was trying to measure. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 03:42, 22 December 2012 (UTC)

If an assignment results in a negative outcome, should students get a negative grade?

If the consensus is that a student's assignment made Wikipedia worse instead of improving Wikipedia, why should they be rewarded with any credit for the assignment? Instead of partial credit, shouldn't they receive negative credit or no credit? Biosthmors (talk) 23:55, 21 December 2012 (UTC)

I don't think we can control how professors grade students, so I think this question (along with the one in the section above) is irrelevant for our purposes. Calliopejen1 (talk) 01:42, 22 December 2012 (UTC)
I'm not talking about whether or not we have control, we only have influence, I would say. I've proposed alterations in the assigment to the professor I partnered with this past semester. And people consult with professors on assignment design. I'm talking about a fundamental misalignment of incentives. I'm raising the issue that students can be rewarded with partial credit for harming Wikipedia. I think that's a fundamental problem for Wikipedia and the education program. Biosthmors (talk) 01:50, 22 December 2012 (UTC)

Quality ratings (start to C or B class) as part of the assignment?

Has there been any success with giving students start class articles and ask that they improve them up to C or B class? We already have GAs and DYKs as a discouraged assignment at WP:AFSE; should improving a start class article be an encouraged assignment? Biosthmors (talk) 00:14, 22 December 2012 (UTC)

Might be a good idea, but existing ratings can't be trusted. In my sort of area it is quite easy to write biographies of historical figures that contain all the information known on a person (and say so) that will get rated as "start" because most assessments seem to use length as the main or sole criterion. Johnbod (talk) 00:28, 22 December 2012 (UTC)
The basic recommendation that we've been giving is that students work on improving stub or start articles, if they aren't working on new ones. The current incarnation of that recommendation is in the training for educators beginning here: Wikipedia:Training/For educators/Choosing articles. Improving them to a specific class isn't part of the recommendation, because there's no way to guarantee that the articles will get (re-)evaluated in time.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:05, 22 December 2012 (UTC)
@Johnbod, good point that some subjects only have enough coverage to merit being "stubby", and I agree that existing ratings can't be trusted, but I think professors should have a general knowledge of the "grades" despite the existing article ratings. Biosthmors (talk) 21:39, 22 December 2012 (UTC)
The professor could easily come by and update/change the article grade/class. Or judge it for themselves. Whether or not the Talk page of an article has trustworthy grades/classes listed isn't necessarily required for this to be taught to professors and students and used for grading. Biosthmors (talk) 21:39, 22 December 2012 (UTC)

screening independent classes for the course page extension

Since we've got the course page extension running and it has potential to make it easier to monitor and prevent problems with independent classes (as well as education program classes), I think we should start actively trying to get the random classes that pop up to use the extension, and have the professors go through some vetting beforehand. To that end, I added a section to Wikipedia:Training/For educators where the instructors of independent classes can request permission to set up a structured course page (for which they need the Course instructor user right). See Wikipedia:Training/For educators/Setting up your course 2. It's currently set up to post a new section onto this noticeboard, where the instructor explains what the assignment plan is, how many students will be editing, and so on. Here is the pleload form; feel free to modify it.

I'm going to overhaul {{welcome teacher}} so that it points to the training and encourages instructors to use a structured course page.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:10, 21 December 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for the info. I ran a low-tech course page at User:Biosthmors/Intro Neuro this past semester, and the students listed themselves. Is the purpose of the extension to generate a course page? Biosthmors (talk) 21:23, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
Yes, and to track who is enrolled, and what articles they are working on, and what edits students in a given class are making. Basically, a starting point for software support of tracking and managing classes. See Wikipedia:Course pages. These structured course pages will be required for education program classes next term.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:18, 22 December 2012 (UTC)
What kind of "tracking" will the software perform beyond the "basic requirements" I proposed below? I doubt that inadequate software is the main issue here. Biosthmors (talk) 21:42, 22 December 2012 (UTC)
The most useful "tracking" features currently are that a log entry is create whenever a student signs up on their course page to edit a specific article, so that people watching the article will know from their watchlist that a student is planning to work on it before they begin making edits, and there are aggregate feeds that show all the activity for a class and all the articles currently being worked on across all classes. But more fundamentally, the benefit is that we get all the basic info for each class in a standard form, which makes it possible to analyze what's going on and build more and better tools down the road.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 01:21, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
Hmmm... Wouldn't this type of course page delay the student editor from learning about the importance of 1) the talk page of the article they are going to edit and 2) their own user page? The community could come up with its own standardized course page that lists all the students and articles without using this extension, right? So you're saying there will be an external website watchlist organized separately from the traditional watchlist, kinda like this? The idea of having a watchlist oriented to only student editors is cool and it could prove useful. It would be cooler if one could customize that watchlist by selecting or deselecting certain classes. Is there not a way to do this without using the extension? Sorry for all the questions. I'm trying to figure out what's going on here! Biosthmors (talk) 03:52, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
Questions are good! The course-related feeds will eventually become part of the new, granular notification system ("Project Echo", see this op-ed for an overview.) In the meantime, Special:MyCourses (currently broken, until the patch for it gets deployed) is basically like a separate watchlist; it includes feeds for all the courses someone is associated with.
In my experience, students learn the importance of article talk pages only if/when there is substantive discussion of the article going on. Posting a banner or an "I'm going to edit this" message (while they are good things to do) don't contribute much to that.
Here's an example of a standardized course page we've used before: Wikipedia:Canada Education Program/Courses/LIB2002 Reference I (Helena Merriam). That's built using {{course page}}, which walks professors step by step through the creation process with the intention of also explaining the purpose of each aspect of the course page as they go. The big downside is that it's still not possible to build automated tools and features on top of that, and it doesn't seem much more effective than starting from a barebones page and letting each class build it up (or not) however makes sense for them.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 11:51, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

Basic requirements

Shouldn't all courses be required/expected/strongly encouraged to

  1. establish a course page where all students, their topics, and their sandboxes/drafts (if used) are listed,
  2. have each student link their course page at the top of their user page,
  3. place a template on the talk page of the article they plan to edit (towards the beginning of the semester), which links back to the course page, and
  4. watchlist their pages to respond in a timely manner to Wikipeidans who point out the relevant guidelines and policies (and make corrective edits)?

And shouldn't all of these 4 points be included in a grading rubric for students? Biosthmors (talk) 21:36, 21 December 2012 (UTC)

The basic idea behind these requirements—making it easy for the community to tell what students are working on, and getting students and experienced editors communicating with each other—is one of the fundamental challenges. We've tried making things like this explicit requirements (that is, professors are required to have their student do things like this), but it's impossible to get 100%. In the coming term, the switch to the extension course pages will mean we have automatic tracking of much of this, making less necessary a long list of "do this" requirements that students don't understand.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:15, 22 December 2012 (UTC)
Ah, 100% is a fool's errand. ;-) Why shouldn't they be explicit requirements? As an ambassador I wouldn't support a class that wouldn't at least make a good effort to do #1. The class I supported this past semester almost did 1, didn't do 2, almost completed 3, and didn't do 4. I've made sure 3 is now (mostly) done, and 1 and 3 will be done shortly hopefully because the professor kindly emailed me a list. I'm going to work on making 2 and 4 part of the grading rubric for Fall 2013. But here's my main point: we can tell professors that 1 through 4 are the minimum expected actions (and should be included as part of the students grade) because they are the bare minimum requirement to receive Education Program support. Biosthmors (talk) 21:20, 22 December 2012 (UTC)
Well, yes, 100% is not possible. But it's actually very hard (and takes a lot of poking and prodding) to get even pretty close to 100%. Course pages, with all students listed along with their topics, have been explicit requirements, and we've used detailed instructions for article talk page templates as part of standard course page designs. Those things work to some extent, but not well enough and with too high coordination costs. Here is the latest version of the "Memorandum of Understanding" that lays out the basic education program requirements: Wikipedia:United_States_Education_Program/MOU (that's the US version, obviously). During the Public Policy Initiative and immediately after, that was linked with assignment design requirements that laid out the specific requirements for what students should be assigned to do. In recent terms, that's shifted to basically a consulting requirement where Jami (and/or Regional Ambassadors, I'm not sure) discuss the assignments and make sure they jive with how Wikipedia works before professors are admitted to the program. I doubt that these types of requirements will be going away any time soon; they are certainly in effect for the coming term (the last that WMF will be running).
The requirements you point to are all centered on making sure it's easy to see what students are trying to do, and that's been one element of the requirements from early on. My point was that most of what those requirements (which are rather tedious from the perspective of students, professors, and ambassadors) are trying to accomplish, we get for free with the course page extension.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 01:44, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
What I asked to be done I could do in less than three minutes (numbers 1 through 3) because I know how to edit here. But 10 minutes for each student as long as there is a course page with instructions is reasonable, I'd say. In fact, it could be led by the professor (or an ambassador) during 5 minutes of one class (or during a mandatory training session), as long as students brought their laptop to class (or the training session). Editing Wikipedia itself is tedious. But I don't see how asking the students to do these three things is in the least bit unreasonable. I still think it should they should be basic requirements to getting Education Program support. Biosthmors (talk) 03:22, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
And if the professor made doing points 1 through 3 mandatory to receive any credit for their Wikipedia assignment, it would be fantastically easy to approach 100%. No? Biosthmors (talk) 03:24, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
Fantastically easy? No. Any requirement for this kind of thing requires policing, or they won't get anywhere near 100%. In general, the longer and more complex the requirements are, the more they get skimmed and the less effective they are. (We learned this the hard way in the first two terms of the Public Policy Initiative. It's hard to get into the mindset of a newcomer, but Wikipedia is fantastically complex, so there's always a trade-off in deciding what to emphasize and what to require.) Jami, for example, has spent quite a bit of time before and during each semester just contacting professors about overdue course pages.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 11:23, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
If our basic requirements are adopted as a prerequisite for the professor to hand out any partial credit, then it should already be policed (read "graded") by the professors. If professors don't want to adopt Wikipedia standards (aka steps 1 through 4 or whatever the community decides) then you don't get into/stay in our program and you don't get any official support from our campus ambassadors or online ambassadors. If professors/classes are under-performing below our expectations, then we should fire them. It seems that we shouldn't pander to professors just to keep a long class list, and that we should let the program mature into something more respectable and respected by the community. Biosthmors (talk) 18:47, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
That's the general approach the program has been taking. Agreeing to the requirements is a prerequisite to being accepted, and some classes get removed because they don't follow through.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 19:09, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
Great. Then it seems like we need to raise the bar further. Biosthmors (talk) 19:22, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

Who's going to be in charge starting Summer 2013?

Who will be making decisions on which which professors are accepted into (or kicked out of) the program, which Wikipedians are ambassadors, etc., starting in Summer 2013? Biosthmors (talk) 03:28, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

If the WMF decides to fund a new organization, as has been discussed, then that organization would be able to take over some of the work the WMF has been doing, including support of the professors. It would be able to accept professors into its program, and would be able to remove them, and stop providing support. I would expect the Wikipedians involved with the EP to continue with the ambassador selection as happens now; I don't see any reason that would change.
If the WMF doesn't fund a new organization, I don't know what would happen, but I think there would no longer be an official education program to be accepted into or removed from. Any relationships with the professors would have to be managed directly by the editing community. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:20, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
Who is leading this potentially funded organization and what are their plans? Biosthmors (talk) 19:24, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
This is probably the best place to start to get answers to those questions; it links to other pages that have a good deal more detail. The short answer to you questions are that if it's funded, it would be up to the WMF to pick an interim board, but some of the working group have expressed an interest in being on that board and the WMF may decide to go ahead with that approach. The plans include hiring permanent staff to replace the functions currently being done by Jami and Sage, and holding elections to replace the interim board. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:52, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the link but WP:TLDR for now. Does anyone else have a short answer? Biosthmors (talk) 20:06, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
The RfC for the previous structure of the group ended in non consensus. I would expect that there would be another, when there is something definite to propose. Of course, anyone may offer classes in writing for WP; anyone may organize however they care to for writing or sponsoring writing for WP; anyone may form whatever organization they think fit to raise money to support people writing for the English WP. Equally, the affiliations committee may allow use of the trademark or not as they see fit, and the FDC & the WMF grants mechanism and the chapters either individually or collectively may provide money at their own discretion, But I would hope that the formally organized parts of the community would not actively support an organization working predominantly on enWP against the wishes of the enWP community. I know I would not wish to work with or for a group that the community thought inappropriate for the purposes of WP, and I assume Mike and the others engaged in current planning feel similarly. DGG ( talk ) 06:48, 24 December 2012 (UTC)

Handling plagiarism

  • So, reading over a lot of recent discussions, I think it’s obvious that we need to come up with a better idea of how to handle different situations that involve student plagiarism. I’ve come up with a list of what I anticipate to be the most common situations and how I think they would best be handled (which is also how I would handle them currently in most instances, since I think most of these are already covered by existing policies or some common sense/IAR. For ease of threading, I’ll be signing each different situation individually. I suggest we discuss these ideas and try to come up with a mutually acceptable set of best practices. If you think of likely situations that I’ve left out (I’ve avoided some uncommon ones for the sake of brevity,) feel free to describe the situation and the problem you see at the end. It may be good to eventually try to codify these as an actual guideline, but for now I was thinking that just discussing them would work. There is some discussion of this in a section above, but I think separate and more detailed discussion is warranted.
In all cases where I suggest notifications, if you don’t feel comfortable making them yourself, I would encourage you to either bring the problem to this board or to another education program participant in a suitable place to address it. Even if I don't Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:11, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
  1. Situation: You encounter a situation involving education program students that you are uncertain how to handle, or just don’t want to handle yourself. Solution: Either bring the situation directly to this board, or bring it to the attention of someone involved in the education program who seems appropriately suited to handle it. Kevin Gorman (talk)
  2. Situation: You encounter an education student either directly plagiarizing from single source, online or offline. You are able to spot check at least one other source they added, and find no plagiarism problems there. Solution: Remove all text that you can tell is plagiarized. Drop a note saying what you have done on the talk page of the student, the professor, and the ambassador for the course. Include the diff of the edit the student made that contained the plagiarized material, and a link to the place the material was plagiarized from (or a description of the source if it is offline.) If you are able to check all other sources the student used and they all check out okay, then the problem should be considered finished. Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:11, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
  3. Situation: You encounter a student directly plagiarizing from at least different two sources (or only one source if you can check only one source,) and you are unable to easily gain access to check against all offline or pay-walled sources that they used. Solution: rollback all contributions the student has made to Wikipedia. Adopting the precautionary principle as it is used on Commons makes sense in this situation, and would mandate that we don’t assume the student’s use of offline sources was not plagiaristic. Drop a note saying what you have done on the talk page of the student, the professor, and the ambassador for the course. Include the diff of the edit the student made and a link to the place the material was plagiarized from (or a description of the source if it is offline.) If you are able and willing to do so, conduct spotchecks on the material of at least three other students from the same class for similar problems. If no problems turn up, and the student doesn’t reintroduce the copyvio, consider the situation resolved. If other problems turn up, bring the situation to the notice of this board for further discussion and investigation. If you don’t want to handle the work of spotchecking other students in the class, bring the situation to the notice of this board for further discussion and investigation. Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:11, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
  4. Situation: You encounter a large number of students from the same class plagiarizing. Solution: roll back all edits these students have made, under the precautionary principle, as above. Give their professors, ambassadors, and the students themselves notes as above. Bring the situation to the notice of this board for further discussion and investigation. Further action will depend on the details of the class, but if a class appears to have a systematic problem without adequate response from either the students, the ambassador, or the professor within a handful of business days, I would strongly think the next appropriate response would be rolling back the contributions of the entire class under the precautionary principle, followed by the professor’s disinvitation from the program unless they agree to change how they do thing. Diffs of rolled back contributions of students not known to be plagiaristic would be noted somewhere (probably a sub-page/casefile of this board or something similar,) so that anyone who wanted to was free to readd unplagiarized material to the encyclopedia (while remembering that anyone who readds content takes responsibility for it.) Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:11, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
  5. Situation: You encounter a problem with students paraphrasing excessively closely. Solution: Some judgment required: if it seems very unlikely to be an honest mistake, proceed as above. If it seems likely to be an honest mistake, rollback their edits (copyright policy requires this, then notify the student, ambassador, and professor of the problem – in a gentler way than above, asking to remind their students about the problems with close paraphrasing. If problems persist, either engage further with the ambassador/professor/student, or bring the problem to this board. In no situation should you feel uncomfortably pressured to leave a copyright violation on Wikipedia. Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:11, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
I agree with all of what you wrote, and I can't really think of any item-specific concerns. I think you've pretty much covered the field. The one (rather obvious) point I'd like to add is that we should put a lot of effort into preventing such situations from arising in the first place, by communicating clearly, conspicuously, and unambiguously, that Wikipedia does not tolerate plagiarism, and students who plagiarize are very likely to get caught. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:05, 24 December 2012 (UTC)

An automated solution

What we need is an automated solution to not only determine who here is plagiarizing from others but who is plagiarizing from us. In the last few months I have come across three textbooks that have lifted heavily from Wikipedia without attribution and these where just examples I stumbled upon [19]. I remember hearing that we had something like this at one point in time? Does anyone know? Maybe the education program should donate $25,000 to hire programmers to developing a solution or the WMF should direct programming resources to it. I am currently attempting to find volunteers. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 21:50, 25 December 2012 (UTC)

The first part of what you said, about detecting it on-Wiki, is a good idea and very relevant to this discussion (although I lack the programming skills to volunteer). But those textbooks, as much as they appall me as to the writing standards of the authors and publishers, are not really within the scope of this noticeboard. Since there isn't a legal copyright to defend except to the extent of a lack of attribution, there's a limit to what can be done, although perhaps WMF counsel might write letters to the authors and publishers, demanding attribution. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:07, 25 December 2012 (UTC) Amended. --Tryptofish (talk) 15:38, 26 December 2012 (UTC)
Since what they are lifting will often be WP text that has now changed I question how well this would work. All they have to do to be legal is add a small credit somewhere in the book, which I suspect most do -unless the author is pulling the wool over the publisher's eyes, which I'm sure happens. Johnbod (talk) 23:48, 25 December 2012 (UTC)
1) What systems do is check to determine if what is in one spot matches that in another. It does not determine who has copied from whom. Thus this sort of system detect if students have plagiarized content they added to Wikipedia or if other sources have plagiarized from Wikipedia.
2) It is the authors who own the copyright to the content on Wikipedia and not the WMF. Thus it is up to the Wikipedians in question to bring this to the persons / publishers / sellers attention. Good quality articles change slowly and we have the history on Wikipedia we can look at (this is in fact the primary way one determine who has plagiarized from who). Our license requires two things, attribution and release under the same license. The plagiarism we are concerned about is when someone else claims they have written content which we at Wikipedia have written.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 02:23, 26 December 2012 (UTC)
Johnbod, if I understand correctly, these examples are ones where attribution (or any kind of admission that it was copied) is lacking. (There's a minor cottage industry of publishers who instead openly mirror Wikipedia, perfectly legal but I think people who pay good money for such books are being duped.) Doc James, my reason for suggesting WMF counsel was simply that letters from a lawyer tend to carry some punch, but you are correct. Actually, I'm intrigued by another option: contacting news organizations. A news story about Wikipedia editors outraged that textbooks plagiarize Wikipedia articles presents Wikipedia in a positive light (we're so good that textbooks copy from us!) and would embarrass the hell out of the authors and publishers. I wonder whether these issues should be discussed somewhere other than here, because they are really of wide editor interest. And, unlike plagiarism by students, it's really not in the scope of this noticeboard. For students (and indeed for COPYVIO too), I still like the idea of an automated detection tool. --Tryptofish (talk) 15:49, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

New student handout on plagiarism — feedback welcome

Some background: You may know that we have produced a series of handouts over the last 2.5 years for the Education Program; many were developed as we suddenly realized the need for one, and they lacked cohesion. I've been working over the last couple of months at revamping them, as we have gotten the feedback from students that there are too many of them, they are too detailed, they are too long, and they don't look official since they all are different. So I am getting all handouts down to one page, in the same visual identity. My goal is to make them short enough that students will actually read them, but detailed enough to convey the key elements that students need to know to contribute good content to Wikipedia. They also include links to Wikipedia policy and guideline pages for more details if students want more details.

I have just uploaded a new plagiarism handout to Wikimedia Commons: File:Classroom_handout_-_Avoiding_plagiarism_on_Wikipedia.pdf. I hope that I have taken into account the concrete suggestions for what to tell students that have been listed on this page, but I welcome any feedback. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 18:16, 19 December 2012 (UTC)

Thanks. A few points in reply: (a) our definition isn't stricter than anyone else's, (b) verbatim quotes, including in blockquotes, are fine, just as they are anywhere else, and (c) there's no mention of in-text attribution, which is the key thing missing in these student essays, and which is expected in scholarly work anyway. If they would just say who they are citing in the text, rather than only in a footnote, the paraphrasing would be less problematic (within reason). The key issue isn't copyright violation, but intellectual honesty. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:32, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
[Sorry to go off on a tangent here] We must take care not to call these "student essays". We don't want essays at all. We want encyclopaedia articles. And not all subjects are appropriate for extensive in-text attribution. Perhaps this is an arts vs science thing where the former has more opinions than facts? It would be quite easy to have a FA-sized article on a non-contentious medical or scientific subject and not attribute any opinions or thoughts to anyone. The "scholarly writing" is different for medical journals: we have a big problem with medical academics who come on WP wanting to write their own review of the primary literature, which leads to all sorts of problems. The kind of writing we need for medical articles is really quite foreign to what the students read in their textbooks and journals and what they are expected to write normally themselves. We see this with the psych students who just want to tell us about the experiments and experimentors (which is what their textbooks do as they are learning science, not just a bunch of facts) and not actually tell us about how we think the mind works. Colin°Talk 19:25, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
I think this is to some extent an arts vs science issue, and I can't comment on the latter. But surely when writing an undergraduate essay on an issue in science, students would be expected to demonstrate knowledge of who said what? And really, WP writing is the same in that regard, in that we're meant to offer an overview of the secondary literature. An arts essay/WP article might say: "Smith (2012) argued that X," whereas a science essay/WP article would contain more of: "A 2012 meta-analysis showed that X," but the point is that in both we don't want X to be stated as fact in WP's voice – and not only because X might be contentious, but also because we want to give credit to the people whose work we're summarizing. In a lot of the student essays I've read, that kind of in-text attribution is almost absent, which is why their close paraphrasing starts to look like plagiarism. SlimVirgin (talk) 19:41, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
Well I can only talk about medicine on WP as I'm not so familiar with the other sciences. When writing an undergraduate essay, students and academics would be expected to demonstrate knowledge of who discovered what, and who believes what and what the seminal research studies were. And their writing would be based on a review of the primary literature and (depending on the citation style) might in-text attribute the study authors. It would be considered bad form to cite a literary review paper or textbook other than occassionally. And no, Wikipedia, as a tertiary source with WP:NOR and WP:WEIGHT, means we want the editors to be familiar with the secondary literature on the subject (familiarity with the primary literature is a bonus). We generally want medicine articles to just say "X" if at all possible. The History section of an article might state who discovered X if that is notable. If aspirin treats headaches then I expect the "Indications" section to mention headaches and not to mention who discovered this. If ibuprofen is better for headaches (say) then I expect it to say that too, and not go into details about some trial in 1972 or whatever. Many Wikipedia articles do fall into the trap of discussing the studies in the wrong place and far too often. But that's because the editor who added the bit just read some news in the Daily Mail, and Wikipedia is not news. Or editor is an academic and used to writing about the process of science rather than facts. It is the trap of writing in the same style as you are familiar reading. Unlike an academic review, it is not our purpose to give credit to the original scientists who discovered facts. Once they are facts, they are facts. In medicine, we should be summarising review articles and academic textbooks, if we can, whose authors are not notable in general, and probably interchangeable, and deserve credit only the in the Notes and References section. If we were to credit them in-text, then the reader would (a) think this was merely one person's opinion rather than a widely held fact, and (b) wonder who the heck this non-notable person is. As long as it isn't contentious or mere opinion or we are discussing history or research directions, then the names behind the facts aren't important. Surely in the arts there are also huge differences between an essay, or academic writing, and encyclopaedic writing. Especially in the area of developing original ideas. Colin°Talk 22:48, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, SlimVirgin. Some comments: (a) I totally agree that it's not any different from university academic honor codes, for example. But what I've seen is that many university students' definition of plagiarism is "stuff that get caught by TurnItIn" (or similar services). I want to convey to students that they should actually read this handout, because I think the some of our students think, "oh, I don't plagiarize, I don't need to read this" when in reality they may be closely paraphrasing without realizing it. I'm open to a suggested rephrasing of the sentence though if you think there's a better way to convey that. (b) I was trying to summarize WP:QUOTEFARM but I am open to alternative suggestions for phrasing that section. (c) Absolutely! Next up for me is a handout on citations, as we have information spread across multiple handouts right now. I definitely agree that WP:INTEXT is important for students to grasp, and I'll definitely be including it in that handout. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 19:19, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
LiAnna, I agree with you about that first point, just from the perspective of the psychology of the typical student. It's more important to motivate them to take it seriously and read all of it. Is there a place (perhaps a category page) that links to all of the student handouts? I think it would be useful to get feedback from editors here about all the handouts. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:00, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
The ones I've updated so far are at this Commons category (there are also the three instructor-oriented brochures there, too, as well as two brochures developed for new contributors through the Bookshelf project that students find useful). The goal is to revamp the ones listed on the student online training resources page before the start of the next term in January. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 20:37, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. I'll look them over and try to give feedback when I have a chance. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:40, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
Although the handout notes that If you see a classmate plagiarizing... but I can't imagine a class self-regulating like this. My teachers always said they were going to check on our homework for this, but no-one ever did. Clearly the handout needs to go hand-in-hand with a clear professor approach. Grandiose (me, talk, contribs) 20:48, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia's definition of plagiarism is not stricter than anyone else's - this needlessly confuses students. Emphasize that these plagiarism guidelines are not specific to Wikipedia. Learning about plagiarism on Wikipedia will help them in all of their classes.
  • Students aren't going to respect volunteer time - if you have limited space, don't fill it with something that isn't going to happen anyway.
  • Long, block quotations are not copyright violations. Wadewitz (talk) 21:57, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
Those are good points. We have to consider how students really think. Somewhere in this wall of text, someone (I think it was OhanaUnited) pointed out that we could say that lots of people read what is on Wikipedia, so there is a very high likelihood of getting caught. Telling students that might be a better way to go. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:03, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
  • Plagiarism does not have codified definitions, as copyright does, and we often run into confusion from people who believe that citing their source is sufficient. Under Wikipedia's guidelines, it's not. Our definition of plagiarism is more strict than that, and some contentious conversation happened before the guideline was adopted because of that. In accordance with WP:NFC and WP:NFCC, policy permits "brief verbatim textual excerpts" of non-free content and notes that "Extensive quotation of copyrighted text is prohibited". In terms of law, "long, block quotations" are copyright violations when they are substantially similar without legal defense, such as fair use. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 22:06, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
  • The reason we've had such trouble over the years in making our guidelines on plagiarism clearer is this emphasis on copyright violation. It has been frustrating, and several editors have found themselves in trouble because they believed that avoiding copyvio was all they had to care about. Others have happily copied from public-domain texts, also thinking that all they had to care about was copyvio.

    Copyvio and plagiarism are two almost entirely separate issues, and what matters here is plagiarism (a moral and intellectual issue, not a legal one). Long block quotes are fine on Wikipedia within reason, just as they're fine in academic texts, but you must give the name of the person you're quoting, or closely paraphrasing, or borrowing an idea from. Not only to give credit (as I wrote above), but also to make clear to the reader: "These are the books and papers I have read, and here I am reporting what they say," which is what undergraduate essays and Wikipedia articles are supposed to be about. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:29, 19 December 2012 (UTC)

  • (edit conflict) "Within reason" is, unfortunately, a highly subjective term, and we've had block quotes taken down as copyright violations before. This is probably why policy says what it says. :) I agree with you that it's important to distinguish between plagiarism and copyright, and have tried to do that myself in a few places, but I believe the community has struggled with both plagiarism and copyright in some of the education content. They are not entirely disconnected. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 22:46, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
  • It's unlikely that a student would copy enough for it to constitute a copyright violation, but plagiarism kicks in immediately, so I think we really need to focus on that here, for the sake of clarity. There are no legal issues or ambiguities when it comes to plagiarism, no differences between jurisdictions. The question is only: "did this come out of your mind or someone else's?" and if to a significant degree it came from someone else, give us the name of that person. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:56, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
  • That's kind of an unexpected statement. There's an open WP:CCI right now on student contributions. I'm not convinced myself that students are that much more likely to plagiarize or violate our copyright policies than users at large--given the large numbers I've seen pass through WP:SCV and WP:CP, I may be a bit cynical--but they do also show up on WP:CP on occasion. What you describe here sounds a little more straightforward than Wikipedia:Plagiarism, what with its attribution templates and all. I have seen plenty of people who argue that by citing their source in footnote, they did "give us the name of that person", but, under our guideline, this is plagiarism. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 23:07, 19 December 2012 (UTC)
  • It is plagiarism anywhere, not only on WP. The current student handout makes the issue too complicated. Now, Colin makes the point above that medical articles may be different, and I can't comment on those. But for most articles, I would say even for science articles, the advice below from Harvard is very good and very straightforward, in part because it focuses only on plagiarism, and doesn't (that I have seen) get into the separate legal issues. SlimVirgin (talk) 23:17, 19 December 2012 (UTC)

I've updated the file on Commons, trying to take into account the central concerns raised here. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 21:27, 27 December 2012 (UTC)

Examples from universities


The other source of frustration is that we keep trying to reinvent the wheel. Universities have already described plagiarism and posted advice for students, so we should simply follow it. Here is good advice from Harvard: "What Constitutes Plagiarism?":

  • Source (Michael Brown): "Political transitions brought about by the collapse of authoritarian rule, democratization, or political reforms also make states particularly prone to violence."
  • Plagiarism: "In fact, political transitions brought about by the collapse of authoritarian rule, democratization, or political reforms also make states particularly prone to violence."
  • Acceptable 1: "In fact, Brown notes that 'political transitions brought about by the collapse of authoritarian rule, democratization, or political reforms also make states particularly prone to violence.'"
  • Acceptable 2: "In fact, as Michael Brown suggests, violence often results from the end of an authoritarian government and its replacement with a more democratic society."

Note the in-text attribution. This isn't difficult to explain to students, especially as the cases we've seen have not been subtle examples on the borderline. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:43, 19 December 2012 (UTC)

Here they talk about common knowledge. SlimVirgin (talk) 23:20, 19 December 2012 (UTC)

The Harvard page looks good and I'll read it some more in detail. I'm a bit concerned about their definition of "Common knowledge" and the need to cite vs ours. Their cases where a citation is required would roughly correspond to our cases where in-text attribution was required (for an opinion, idea, beliefs, etc). By their guidance, there would be a lot of facts that wouldn't need a citation where we certainly would require one. What they are really talking about is attribution of ideas and original thought. The fact that the space shuttle weighs so many tonnes or the a drug has the risk of causing liver damage are facts that need citations on WP but do not need attributed to any person or group.

In subjects that are less about professors thinking deep original thoughts and more about experiments, the need for attribution is reduced in an encyclopaedia but is still common in academic writing. If you read an academic medical review paper, it will give attribution for various discoveries but those discoveries don't constitute original thought. We don't need to (and indeed shouldn't) in-text-attribute those discoveries unless they are notable in and of themselves as part of the history of a disease or a drug or whatever.

My point here is that we need to be careful that Wikipedia is a mix of subjects. The academic writing in those subjects wont translate exactly to Wikipedia and the degree of mismatch may be much greater in some subjects than others. We need to offer students and professors subject-appropriate guidance on how to write encyclopaedia articles and how such writing differs from academia. Colin°Talk 09:15, 20 December 2012 (UTC)


Cambridge has a plagiarism page here, including a definition: "Plagiarism is defined as submitting as one's own work, irrespective of intent to deceive, that which derives in part or in its entirety from the work of others without due acknowledgement. It is both poor scholarship and a breach of academic integrity." It includes copying words, using ideas, paraphrasing, and cutting and pasting from the Internet to create a pastiche, without acknowledgment: "Acceptable means of acknowledging the work of others (by referencing, in footnotes, or otherwise) vary according to the subject matter and mode of assessment."
They have a set of subject-specific guidelines. Some of the links seem not to have been created yet, and others aren't that detailed, but the biology page is one of the better ones. Again, it stresses in-text attribution: "when presenting the views and work of others, include in the text an indication of the source of the material, e.g. 'as Sharpe (1993) has shown,' and give the full details of the work quoted in your bibliography ..."
They also have a "golden rule": "The examiners must be in no doubt as to which parts of your work are your own original work and which are the rightful property of someone else." We could adopt a golden rule for the education program, something like: "You must make it obvious to the reader – through the use of in-text attribution and citations in footnotes – which parts of your article have copied or closely followed someone else's words or flow of thought." SlimVirgin (talk) 16:34, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Again, that's for academic writing where one is expected to be (and visibly show one is) familiar with the research and researchers and acknowledge their greatness (in case you apply for a job from them :-). On Wikipedia, there's no requirement to in-text attribute the "work" of some researcher nor is there any requirement to cite in a footnote their actual research paper. The decision to mention Sharpe in-text would be an editorial one that might happen, say, because Sharpe was a notable figure in the history of a subject, when writing about the history. If he wasn't notable, the history section might simply state that "A study in 1993 found that..." And elsewhere in the article, we might just state what he found without any attribution and quite probably citing a textbook written by Jones in 2011. Some editors may choose to add a footnote to a citation for seminal research papers for the edification of our readers, but a secondary source (and a more up-to-date source than 1993) is typically required.
I'm really uncomfortable with the "which parts of your article have copied or closely followed someone else's words or flow of thought". This area is complicated and can't be summarised that simply. It would seem to indicate you could copy out a whole paragraph and in-text attribute it. The Wiki/multi-author environment here means that the attribution/text could be moved about or additional text inserted into the paragraph (thereby putting words into someone's mouth). We're supposed to be in the business of original writing. Colin°Talk 18:59, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Editors might prefer to say "a 2012 study" rather than Jones, but the point remains that some form of in-text attribution is needed for words that are not our own (whether quoted or closely paraphrased), or where we rely heavily on one source to the point where not giving them credit looks like plagiarism, even when their words aren't used. Academic writing and WP writing really aren't that different, except that students and academics often advance a position and we don't (no OR). But in terms of plagiarism rules, I can't see any difference. Yes to your final point about subsequent editors inadvertently moving things around and splitting refs from the text, but that's true of any attribution, whether in-text or in footnotes. SlimVirgin (talk) 19:24, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Well no, I maintain that academic writing and encyclopaedic writing, and academic sourcing and Wikipedia sourcing are quite radically different and the whole approach towards how we research our sources and construct our articles is fundamentally incompatible with the academic approach. But this is getting quite off topic other than my point is that guidance for academic writing will fail to properly prepare students for writing on Wikipedia. Colin°Talk 20:13, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

The FAQ of the Cambridge guidelines says "How do I avoid plagiarising? -- By being sure you understand and follow the correct referencing techniques for your subject. Some of the most commonly used reference techniques are Harvard and Vancouver..." This is dreadful advice and no wonder we see student comments like the one quoted further up this page: "Some of parts of the article was 100% copied from a book but I thought that didn't matter as long as it was cited where we got the information from." Hmm. Colin°Talk 20:25, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

It emphasizes following departmental advice: "By being sure you understand and follow the correct referencing techniques for your subject. Some of the most commonly used reference techniques are Harvard and Vancouver. Make sure you are aware of and understand the conventions appropriate to your subject and use those recommended by your own Department." [20] All the departmental advice I've looked at so far requires in-text attribution when quoting or paraphrasing words, or borrowing ideas. And Harvard references involve in-text attribution too. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:56, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Harvard referencing is not the same as in-text attribution. Saying where you read it is not the same as saying who first thought it or discovered it. Some of the guidelines cited use a combination of Harvard referencing and attribution in their examples, which doesn't help clarify the difference. While one could change from Harvard referencing to Vancouver references (like our [1] footnote links) without affecting plagiarism, one can't substitute in-text attribution for footnote citation. Colin°Talk 23:02, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
A Harvard reference is a form of in-text attribution – "Smith (2012) wrote that X." (I don't know what you mean about someone having first thought of or discovered something; the point here is just to cite our source, which we're assuming is an appropriate one.) Swapping a Harvard ref for a footnote, where the sentence needed in-text attribution, would risk the edit looking like plagiarism, because the point is we want to see the source in the article – where there's quoting, close paraphrasing, reference to an idea, or other heavy reliance – not hidden in a footnote. We want to see the familiarity with the literature.
People who use Harvard refs don't have to worry about in-text attribution; it's built into the system. Example from the Cambridge history of science page: "When presenting the views and work of others, include in the text an indication of the source of the material ' Sharpe (1993) has shown,...' and give the full details of the work quoted in your bibliography," or "'The elk is of necessity less graceful than the gazelle' (Thompson, 1942, p 46)." Those are Harvard refs. This is how I was taught to reference when I was a student, so in-text attribution becomes routine. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:44, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
You are conflating a referencing system with a style of giving attribution. If the work of Sharpe and Thompson are described in the 2012 textbook by Jones then "Jones (2012)" would be a Harvard ref. However, it would not be acceptable for attribution. If the student hadn't actually read Sharpe and Thompson's work then they may lose marks for not being familiar with the literature. However they could still write their essay if they write "Sharpe (1993) as cited in Jones (2012) has shown..." or "'The elk is of necessity less graceful than the gazelle' (Thompson, 1942, p 46 cited in Jones, 2012, p 350)". Now let's say what Sharpe showed in 1993 is just a fact, not an opinion on gazelles. Then we could mention the fact and cite Jones (2012) in a Harvard ref and not give Sharpe a mention. This would be acceptable on Wikipedia (and in some ways desirable from WP:WEIGHT and modern-sourcing point of view). In academia, one might still be expected to cite Sharpe (1993) in order to give due deference to his discovery. This is very typical in medical articles where we will strongly prefer Jones (2012) and strongly discourage Sharpe (1993) as sources. But anyone writing an academic work wouldn't dream of citing Jones, who is merely reviewing the literature and adding no original thought of his own.
But we come back to our student who thought he could copy/paste whole paragraphs from his textbook and slap a citation on the end. It wouldn't matter if that was a numbered footnote or a Harvard ref stuck on the end. And if he'd begun every paragraph with "Jones (2012) writes that..." then that also wouldn't be in any way acceptable. We need to write facts in our own language and with our own voice. So Harvard refs are not a panacea wrt plagiarism. Colin°Talk 09:33, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Colin. And how is (Thompson, 1942, p. 46) substantively any better than <ref>Thompson, 1942, p. 46</ref>? In an interactive work like Wikipedia, clickable, immediately accessible footnotes make far more sense than parenthetical Harvard references, which are better suited to a printed page. Calliopejen1 (talk) 17:39, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
To Colin, I agree with some of what you wrote, but you're discussing the appropriateness of sources. I'm discussing only citation styles, and I'm assuming the writer has chosen the most appropriate source. As I wrote above: "the point here is just to cite our source, which we're assuming is an appropriate one." If a student cites an appropriate source, then a Harvard ref is acceptable in-text attribution, as the universities make clear. That was my only point. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:52, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
I'm not discussing appropriateness of sources and you are not discussing citation styles. We are discussing plagiarism and a FAQ that misleads students. The FAQ is making the same mistake you make. The mistake of conflating citations with attribution is one you can get away with if your sources are also the author of the original thought or opinion you are quoting or close-paraphrasing. You got away with this simplistic rule of thumb when writing student essays but it breaks down on Wikipedia and is bad advice. Clearly something similar to this FAQ is leading these students to think that a citation is all one needs in order to steal other people's text. Your statement "If a student cites an appropriate source, then a Harvard ref is acceptable in-text attribution," is just repeating the FAQ mistake. Colin°Talk 18:47, 21 December 2012 (UTC)


Oxford's plagiarism page, again stressing in-text attribution. The following is in their words:

  • Source (Linebaugh, P., The London Hanged: Crime and Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century (London, 1991), p. 213.): "From a class perspective this put them [highwaymen] in an ambivalent position. In aspiring to that proud, if temporary, status of ‘Gentleman of the Road’, they did not question the inegalitarian hierarchy of their society. Yet their boldness of act and deed, in putting them outside the law as rebellious fugitives, revivified the ‘animal spirits’ of capitalism and became an essential part of the oppositional culture of working-class London, a serious obstacle to the formation of a tractable, obedient labour force. Therefore, it was not enough to hang them – the values they espoused or represented had to be challenged."
  • Plagiarism 1: "Although they did not question the inegalitarian hierarchy of their society, highwaymen became an essential part of the oppositional culture of working-class London, posing a serious threat to the formation of a biddable labour force.
  • (This is a patchwork of phrases copied verbatim from the source, with just a few words changed here and there. There is no reference to the original author and no indication that these words are not the writer’s own.)
  • Non-plagiarized 1: "Peter Linebaugh argues that although highwaymen posed no overt challenge to social orthodoxy – they aspired to be known as ‘Gentlemen of the Road’ – they were often seen as anti-hero role models by the unruly working classes. He concludes that they were executed not only for their criminal acts, but in order to stamp out the threat of insubordinacy."
  • (This paraphrase of the passage is acceptable as the wording and structure demonstrate the reader’s interpretation of the passage and do not follow the original too closely. The source of the ideas under discussion has been properly attributed in both textual and footnote references.)
  • Non-plagiarized 2: Peter Linebaugh argues that highwaymen represented a powerful challenge to the mores of capitalist society and inspired the rebelliousness of London’s working class.
  • (This is a brief summary of the argument with appropriate attribution.)

SlimVirgin (talk) 19:39, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

The source here is original thought and opinion and cannot be stated in Wikipedia's voice. We have policy/guidelines on this. The issue is not just plagiarism but of elevating Linebaugh opinions to the status of unquestionable fact. Colin°Talk 20:23, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
That's not really the point. Even if we could somehow know he was 100 percent correct, we'd still want to attribute the material to him. The point of in-text attribution when you're a student (apart from avoiding accusations of dishonesty) is to show that you've educated yourself, that you're not only familiar with X (the fact or argument), but you also know where X came from and who says not-X. The point of a Wikipedia article is the same, in the sense that we're trying to communicate that information to the reader. I disagree that academic articles and Wikipedia articles are different in that regard. They're different in other ways (OR, advancing positions, no NPOV requirement), but when it comes to plagiarism they're the same. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:03, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
  • sigh* "Even if we could somehow know he was 100 percent correct" is a category error. I fear I'm wasting my time. -- Colin°Talk 22:56, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
Colin, I always respect what you have to say, but I think in this case it's idiosyncratic. That's a good thing in general, but for these limited purposes we need the bog-standard stuff, because we have to communicate a united front to the students, and a simple one. The concept of plagiarism couldn't be simpler: tell us where your words and ideas come from, and tell us in the text when you lean heavily on that source, because we want to know what you know and how you know it.
The principle is the same in academia, Wikipedia and journalism, in the humanities and in the sciences. The one difference is that in the sciences there will be more common-knowledge facts that won't need attribution, but this is a difference in degree, not kind. The fact that there's this tremendous confusion among the students shows that something has gone wrong with the way plagiarism has been explained to them, and this is a shame because there's nothing complicated about it.
I haven't found one example of really serious plagiarism, where the source isn't cited at all. They all dutifully tell us where to look to find their plagiarism, so they are being honest. The problem is either laziness or lack of comprehension, which makes them unwilling to summarize the source material in their own words, combined with a lack of knowledge about the importance of in-text attribution. If they had only told us "as Smith wrote," there wouldn't be any plagiarism in those essays. We would still want to advise them to use their own words more, but the problem would be one of low-quality work rather than plagiarism. SlimVirgin (talk) 23:19, 20 December 2012 (UTC)
I (and I suspect others) have been following this debate between the two of you with interest. I am rather more in Colin's camp than SlimVirgin's on this. I find his arguments convincing -- particularly his comment that "The issue is not just plagiarism but of elevating Linebaugh opinions to the status of unquestionable fact". Beyond that, however, Colin's approach matches my experience with writing and reviewing featured articles. I write mostly history articles, and I don't generally use in-text attribution unless the statement is a matter of opinion. This has never been an issue at FAC. Two examples, both from FAs: "Norton offered Pohl a higher salary as an associate editor than he had received as the editor, and Pohl quickly accepted" and "Offa would have been aware that Charlemagne's sons, Pippin and Louis, had been consecrated as kings by Pope Adrian, and probably wished to emulate the impressive dignity of the Frankish court". My point is not that these are FAs, and therefore this must be acceptable practice; it's that these issues are not currently being raised at FAC in the way I gather SlimVirgin would think they should. To me that implies that current community consensus on this issue is more in line with Colin's view than SlimVirgin's. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:44, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
I tend to agree. Nothing looks sillier than attributing in text something that every author has been saying for the last 150 years, or something that somebody else established in a big fat book, to whatever unfamous professor wrote the introductory textbook students are using (whether on assignments or just as regular Wikipedians). Mind you I seem to have just been caught out doing that myself, in a minor Annie Hall/Marshall McLuhan moment. These days (it was I think different a few years ago) we lean to just giving a ref, which I think is correct if you are not quoting & don't know the subject well enough to know the degree of originality of the material, or whose originality it actually is - the examples linked above are not perhaps typical of stuff in our articles. Johnbod (talk) 03:55, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
I too think WP has gone off the deep end on this. We are concentrating on the unimportant. The opinions,and facts under dispute need to be fully documented. The routine information just needs to be summarized. Continuing to use the example of history, an academic monographic has documentation that notoriously is longer than the text of the book itself. All the evidence is expected to be presented and evaluated, and every fact given must be traceable back to the primary source the historian is using, We however write at the level of summarization, at the level of an advanced undergraduate textbook, not a research monograph. We're supposed to be writing at a level accessible to lower-division undergraduates and bright high school students, not graduate students and researchers. In proper encyclopedic writing, one should give sufficient references for the reader to go further--he will know, or should be told in a general note, that the appropriate advanced treatise or review article listed at the end of the article or section will have the details. As an example of good writing for WP purposes , at a level generally higher than ours, look at manner of documentation at the German or French WPs.
I also agree about the over-literal interpretation of the advice we give about in-text citation. We do not want the full citation in text. We want the indication in the text of whose idea it is in a readable way, and we want the actual reference somewhere out of the way, but findable--either in the Harvard style, or with numbered footnotes (I think it might be easier to actually standardize on numbered footnotes, which has become easier with the various tools available). If the matter is truly controversial , a quotation in context is necessary, but if not , all the reader needs to know is whose idea it was and where to find it. And if it doesn't matter whose idea it is, as is true with most of the material in most science articles, they just need to know where to find it. DGG ( talk ) 08:15, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
People are responding to straw-man arguments. No one has said every sentence needs in-text attribution; no one has said that every reference to every idea needs it; and no one has said there should be full citations in the text. The only thing I have said is that, if you're quoting or closely paraphrasing – or in some other way leaning heavily on a source – then you do need in-text attribution, as the universities make clear. You need it in academia, in journalism, on Wikipedia, and in every other form of publishing, because otherwise it looks like theft. I can't see why there's a reluctance to make this clear to the students. If it's not made clear to them, then the plagiarism isn't their fault. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:00, 21 December 2012 (UTC)
Slim, if "the only think [you'd] said" what that, then we'd be in agreement. Colin°Talk 18:51, 21 December 2012 (UTC)

Professor incentives to have contact with the Education Program?

What are the main incentives professors have to stay aligned with the Education Program? What prevents them from making their own Wikipedia assignments, anonymously and under the radar? What would make an under the radar professor join the education program? What's in it for them? Biosthmors (talk) 03:33, 23 December 2012 (UTC)

I can think of two things: on-wiki support from volunteer ambassadors, and off-wiki support from the WMF and the campus ambassador program. If I were a professor I'd be more interested in the latter, because that can provide in-person training of students. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:34, 23 December 2012 (UTC)
which of course does not imply that they could not ask help from anyone else here competent and willing to provide it. There have been both successful classes organized outside the program, and the community has so far been very willing to step in and assist anyone who asks for assistance or runs into difficulties. The community, of course, has been equally willing to step in and stop any class in or out of the program that is editing unconstructively. DGG ( talk ) 06:54, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
Actually, other than the IEP, I don't know of a case where a class was stopped -- can you give me an example? I didn't think it had ever happened in the US/Canada EP (though there are a couple I've heard should have been). Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 18:25, 24 December 2012 (UTC)
so far, this has only been necessary for projects started outside the structure. Most unsatisfactory one within the structure collapsed by themselves. I agree it might have helped to have terminated them earlier. DGG ( talk ) 15:52, 26 December 2012 (UTC)
Speaking as a professor and newbie Wikipedian, support is the number one attraction to signing up. I did have a Wikipedia assignment for a few honor's students last year that was "under the radar," but only because I had not yet found the links to sign up. I notice a number of comments on this page about making the bar higher and setting more rules and policies. Learning and teaching all the policies and formatting rules is one of the hardest things for a newbie, so I would ask that you think carefully about this before adding more barriers. Thanks. Biolprof (talk) 23:37, 31 December 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for commenting, and thanks for your interest in Wikipedia and getting students to edit! I doubt I want more barriers to getting in. I want it to be easy to start here. That's why I created User:Biosthmors/Course page, a simple generic course page others can use. (It was based off of my experience with User:Biosthmors/Intro Neuro.) What I'm calling for is an easy entry and an easy exit, that way we get as many good classes as possible. Just my 2 cents. Biosthmors (talk) 05:01, 1 January 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Cleeder (talk)

 Done OhanaUnitedTalk page 01:25, 3 January 2013 (UTC)


Chris Leeder


University of Michigan, School of Information

Course title and description

SI 110 Introduction to information; introductory undergraduate course for the Informatics major, covering a wide range of historical and technologic topics related to information technology and the Internet; most students are freshmen but there is a range. I am a doctoral student and Head Graduate Student Instructor for the course. I have takent he GLAM (Galelries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) Wikipedia training and am working with our Campus Ambassadors on this assignment.

Assignment plan

Students will not be writing new articles. My goal is to introduce them to the Wikipedia editing process and to give them a better understanding of how Wikipedia works.

A rough draft of the assignments: 1) Create a user page and account 2) Create a sandbox and practice editing techniques 3) Review the Did You Know, Good Article, and Featured Article process and criteria 4) Make 5 minor edits to articles they are interested in (copyediting) 5) Choose a course-related article that could be improved and write a short description of suggested changes 6) Introduce themselves on the Talk page of the article and discuss their suggestions 7) Make 5 substantive edits to the article 8) Add a source citation to the article (from a course reading?) 9) Write a short reflection on what they have learned about Wikipedia

Number of students

Approximately 100

Start and end dates

1/9/13-4/23/13 — Preceding unsigned comment added by Cleeder (talkcontribs) 23:47, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Dr LLB

 Done OhanaUnitedTalk page 01:25, 3 January 2013 (UTC)


Lori L. Britt


James Madison University

Course title and description

SCOM 350: Introduction to Organizational Communication. Sophomores through seniors learn about theories of organizing and how they affect out experiences as members of organizations. Writing for Wikipedia will be one of two experiential learning options students will complete throughout the term (the other is service-learning helping an area nonprofit organization meet a goal). Students will work at both a product (writing about organizational communication ideas and concepts for a public audience) and process level (reflection on the process of learning about and navigating member participation in the online Wikipedia organization.

Assignment plan

Students will research what information is currently available on Wikipedia on organizational communication and theories of organizing. Then they will identify shortcomings or gaps and significantly edit or write articles on a specific topic in this area. Along the way they will learn the ropes of Wikipedia by doing some minor edits, cleaning up pages, learning the style conventions, etc.

Number of students

Since this is one option, I anticipate about half, or 15 students will choose the Wikipedia option. I plan to have a former student who excelled at this project last fall Skype with the class in the early days to discuss his experience. I think this will help students for whom the fear of the unknown might be a deterrent.

Start and end dates January 7- April 30, 2013 — Preceding unsigned comment added by Llbritt (talkcontribs) 23:58, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: (talk)


Chris Cooper


Western Carolina University

Course title and description

Policy Analyasis (PA 673): This is a graduate level policy analysis course and a core course in the Western Carolina University MPA program. This is the third year in a row I will have used Wikipedia in this course. Each student is required to write about one policy. I will be working with Kasey Baker.

Assignment plan

Writing or substantially improving one entry related to a public policy of their choosing.

Number of students


Start and end dates

Jan 13 to May 3

We need your wiki username. OhanaUnitedTalk page 01:18, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

A small example of a good outcome

In a now-archived thread, I mentioned Mu wave as a page where I had a good experience with a student editor. I was rather pleased to notice today that the student editor, who has now graduated, has returned to make more edits. --Tryptofish (talk) 16:20, 25 December 2012 (UTC)

Thanks much for this highlighting this, Tryptofish. LiAnna drafted up a blog post about her, which mentions you: meta:Wikimedia Blog/Drafts/Ingrid Haugen profile. It'll probably end up on the WMF blog within a week or two.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 19:46, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Sage, and LiAnna, thank you so much! I'm absolutely delighted to see that, and truly honored in my own small way. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:02, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
You're very welcome — it's actually going up tomorrow. :) -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 02:23, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
The post: Enjoy! -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 17:57, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
What about publicizing the new (and developing) essay WP:Assignments for student editors? Biosthmors (talk) 20:46, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
LiAnna always likes to see blog posts from Wikipedians about the education program, so if you have an angle on it that would make an interesting post, you could draft something up and/or talk with her about it. I'd suggest waiting until it's a little more stable and has been useful in practice for teachers, though, as driving collaboration for works in progress is not a strong point of the blog. (If that's the goal, asking for input at various places on-wiki is a better bet.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 20:58, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

Preliminary lists of 2013 Quarter 1 courses

Here at in-progress lists of classes it looks like will be participating in the US and Canada Education Programs for the coming term. I expect both will grow a fair bit.

--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 18:29, 4 January 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for posting! Biosthmors (talk) 20:34, 4 January 2013 (UTC)

"Evaluating Wikipedia Article Quality" brochure

The brochure "Evaluating Wikipedia Article Quality" is mentioned under Wikipedia:Training/For_educators/Companion_materials but does not seem to be listed under the Resources tab mentioned.

I found it here

Cleeder (talk) 15:27, 5 January 2013 (UTC)Cleeder

I've just added it to the Resources page in the "Writing articles" section. Thanks for posting about it!--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:38, 5 January 2013 (UTC)
Direct link is here. Sage, there's a typo on page 5. This sentence: "For instance, a biography that skips an entire period of that its subject's life suggests it may be missing important facts" should lose the "that" in the middle, and perhaps would be better as "For instance, a biography that skips an entire period of its subject's life may be missing important facts" or "For instance, if a biography skips an entire period of its subject's life, that suggests it may be missing important facts". Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:34, 5 January 2013 (UTC)
Ack! I'll check with LiAnna whether there are plans to revise that one soon, and if not, I'll fix the typo and update it.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:22, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

Working Group proposal submitted to WMF

The Education Working Group's proposal that was submitted to WMF, revised based on the RfC and related discussions, is now up. It looks like the next step, about 2 weeks from now, will be to submit it to the Affiliations Committee. You can post feedback and suggestions on the proposal talk page.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 19:42, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for posting about this. Any idea when another RfC might be done? Biosthmors (talk) 20:35, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
The working group doesn't have any plans to do a further RfC -- its remit is essentially over now. Do you have a particular question in mind? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:33, 5 January 2013 (UTC)
How long will comments be gathered? Will there be any attempt to get community input other than posting at this noticeboard? Biosthmors (talk) 04:49, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
What does "its remit is essentially over now" mean? Does that mean that the Wikipedia:Education Working Group/Proposal is a "dead" proposal? Biosthmors (talk) 04:49, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
No, it means that the working group was created by the WMF in order to create the proposal. It's done that, and delivered the proposal, so it's completed its task. The proposal is now in the hands of the WMF, not the working group. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 14:30, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

Why not just start an RfC asking the community what it thinks of the proposal at Wikipedia talk:Education Working Group/Proposal? Biosthmors (talk) 04:52, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

The goal was for the first RfC to gather input on the plans; the proposal doesn't differ greatly from the outline given at the RfC, which linked to the working group pages. As it turned out, the first RfC discussed a broader range of issues, and there wasn't a great deal of direct discussion of the details of the proposed organization. Some things have been added -- for example, there's now a specification of how the board will be elected, which was missing at the time of the RfC. Overall I don't think enough is new for it to be worth an RfC, but that's just my opinion. As far as community input is concerned, I think the WMF is always interested in input on this topic -- Jami Mathewson and Annie Lin are the people I would start with. If they decide to create the new organization then it will definitely be interested in ongoing community input. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 14:30, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
To add to what Mike said, it seems quite likely that we'll move forward along the lines of the proposal, with the next step being to go to the Affiliations Committee. If anyone has concerns about the specifics of the current proposal, now is a great time bring them up. In addition to Annie and Jami (and myself), I expect that Mike and the other proposed initial board members are also keenly interested in specific concerns and ideas for the (potential) new education program organization.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:48, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
I think an RfC (or something to get feedback) should start on the proposal. There's clearly not enough attention being paid to the proposal on the talk page. Biosthmors (talk) 05:35, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

I agree with Biosthmors: this is all rather odd. We had an RFC, which was to all intents and purposes ignored (admittedly it was messy, but it produced no kind of mandate either). And there's obviously no real desire to consult with Wikipedians about the program. My sense is that the WMF and the working group feel that they had their fingers burnt once too often, and wanted to plough ahead with the schedule they had set themselves.

But on the other hand, so be it. Essentially, the EP doesn't need to have much if anything to do with Wikipedia and its governance model. There's nothing to stop independent bodies such as this from arising and using Wikipedia for their own purposes. We can't insist that they do things the Wikipedia way. If there's some kind of positive outcome at least some of the time, then fair enough. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 16:44, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Derosadual (talk)


Chris Cooper.


Western Carolina University.

Course title and description

PA 673: Public Policy Analysis. A core course in the MPA program at Western Carolina University. As one component of this course, students will write or substantially improve Wikipedia entries on public policy.

Assignment plan

Writing, or substantially improving Wikipedia entries related to public policy.

Number of students


Start and end dates

Jan 15th to May 10th?

 Done Nikkimaria (talk) 04:26, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

Education Program space

My edits to Education Program:Saint Louis University/Signal Transduction (SP13) don't show up on my watchlist. Will they soon? Biosthmors (talk) 19:18, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

Soon, hopefully, although they won't look like normal edits. (That will require a fairly significant change to the extension, which we have planned, but probably not until after this first cohort of classes.) Currently, changes are recorded as log events rather than regular edits, and the page cannot be added directly to your watchlist. However, if you add the talk page to your watchlist (even if it doesn't exist yet), then the log events from your edits will show up in your watchlist. In the short term, I think we can make it so that the talk pages are automatically added to the watchlist when a course page is created.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 04:54, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

Is education program space (and are the new course pages) designed to be a place where the community can't openly edit it? Biosthmors (talk) 18:17, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

The course pages are editable by anyone with the course coordinator, online volunteer, campus volunteer, or course instructor user rights, as well as any admin. In general, the course pages are not designed to be anyone-can-edit. People who can edit the courses can also move them, see and change the enrollment token, and change other any other details in addition to the Description field. But if there are problems with a specific one, there will be plenty of people with the ability to make changes.
The talk pages of courses are open to editing by anyone.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 18:31, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. Hmmm... I'm not sure this is the optimal setup. Since Wikipedia is the encyclopedia anyone can edit, it seems there would ideally be community consensus before creating new Wikipedia spaces that can't be edited by everyone. Did that happen to be discussed anywhere before this space was created? Does anyone from the education Working Group have any comments on this? Biosthmors (talk) 18:46, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Education Program extension.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 18:48, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the link. Biosthmors (talk) 19:36, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

Will Special:Courses list ambassadors?

Will Special:Courses perhaps soon list the ambassadors that are signed up for classes so it will be easy to see who has one and who doesn't? Biosthmors (talk) 04:32, 17 January 2013 (UTC)

Good suggestion. I'll file a bug and talk with Jeroen about it, as this would be helpful to have soon.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:50, 18 January 2013 (UTC)
Thanks again. Biosthmors (talk) 21:09, 19 January 2013 (UTC)

Cleanup needed at Motor unit


I happened to stumble across some student edits at Motor unit that require some cleanup. I am considering just undoing all the edits to the entire article back to its pre-student status. I figured someone here might be interested in this, maybe to provide feedback to the course director, though i don't know whether it was an explicit USEP project or not. I have already posted notices at WP:Neuro and WP:Neuroscience.

-- UseTheCommandLine (talk) 10:18, 19 January 2013 (UTC)

Some folks at WP:Neuroscience have reverted the article, but I think it would still be useful to coordinate with them to give feedback to the director of the involved course. -- UseTheCommandLine (talk) 10:50, 19 January 2013 (UTC)

"Dr. S. Deban and University of South Florida" according to User talk:Shwu123, who edited motor unit. Has anyone here been in contact with the professor? Biosthmors (talk) 21:08, 19 January 2013 (UTC)

  • I think this is an example of why some of us express the concerns that we have about #Userrights. --Tryptofish (talk) 02:40, 20 January 2013 (UTC)


I was just reading up on any changes to the Educaton Program today, and took note of the fact that instructors apparently now get a huge toolset. I've seen editors with less than 50 edits who have the account creator, autopatrolled user, epinstructor, filemover, IP block exemption, reviewer, rollbacker rights. Taking out the ones that have an obvious use in course instruction (ACC, EPI) leaves them with these rights unexplained (in my mind):

  • Autopatrolled
  • Filemover
  • IP block exemption "Taking out the ones that have an obvious use in course instruction (ACC, EPI)" -- Gwickwire Cheers, Riley 17:38, 16 January 2013 (UTC) Agreed, sorry for the overlooking gwickwiretalkedits 23:25, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Reviewer
  • Rollback

In talking to another editor, I can see a reason for the IP block in case of any blocks put on that institution during the course, which would affect the instructor's ability to teach, and the students as well. However, I'm still left wondering why all of these rights are given to a fairly new editor. In particular, I can't see any reason for a new user whose main purpose is instructing a class on editing to need filemover, reviewer, and autopatrolled. Those are (almost) never given to new users, certainly never to users with 48 edits. Unless the instructor can provide a use for those rights that can't be taken care of with {{rename media}}, or waiting for a new article/edit to be reviewed, then I don't think they should have those rights. It's not that I don't trust the instructor, just giving all of those rights to someone before seeing their editing habits is very concerning to me. I apologize if this is in the wrong spot, if it is I give anyone permission to move it to a better area. Thanks, gwickwiretalkedits 02:09, 15 January 2013 (UTC)

This is the right spot. Which user is this? In the abstract, I also don't see why an instructor who is fairly inexperienced would be given all those rights.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 02:14, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, user is User:S.perreault, and just browsing I saw a few others with (just those I remember) ~90 and ~60 edits with a large packet of rights as well, I was just inquiring. If there's a valid use for the rights please don't remove them on my accord. gwickwiretalkedits 02:18, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
Hm, if these are really being given to the professors, it seems a bit excessive to me, as well. No one on the University side of the EP programs who's not already an established Wikimedian should be getting autopatrolled, reviewer, filemover, or rollback before they can demonstrate the basic proficiencies required to use those tools. Autopatrolled and reviewer, in particular, strike me as a Very Bad Idea to give to participants who maybe don't know a whole lot about what a valid article looks like, how to write using our MOS, or how to use our copyright or BLP policies. IPblockexempt and AC make sense for Uni people to have, and of course the EPinstructor right was designed to be used by these guys, but I'd like to see a justification for giving the other rights to non-proficient editors, or, if there isn't one, I'd like to see them rolled back out of the EP package. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 02:20, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
If anyone would like a fuller list, the best I can do is [21]. Note how there are some users with 2k+ edits in that list, in which case it may be okay for them to have some of the rights. It seems like the bottom of the list is where all of the users without many edits are at that link. gwickwiretalkedits 02:24, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
Let's ping OhanaUnited about why he added all those rights, as to my knowledge the current standard package for instructors would just be the course instructor right.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 02:27, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
Autopatrol is given so that when profs create a page like this, it wouldn't flood the new page patrol and upsetting those patrollers. Filemover, in hindsight, is probably the right that is least likely to be used by the prof given that it's rare to have non textual contributions unless the class is in the discipline of digital media. IP block exempt has already been explained and that is precisely my rationale. Reviewer rights were already given to some profs as a relic of the old pending changes scheme (not the current one, which is restricted to BLP). And rollback is just undo on steroids. You can achieve same result with undo as with rollback. It all comes down to this philosophical question. Should all profs have the same toolset, or, all profs are equal but some are more equal than others. OhanaUnitedTalk page 03:06, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the explanations Ohana :) It's my opinion however, that being a 'prof' should have no merit on their editing capabilities. All professors are not equal, as some may have been active community members before applying to teach a class. This means they may already have some advanced rights. Other than the IPexempt and the course instructor right, would it not be better to have them request only the rights they need, at the specific time they need them? For example, rollback is undo on steroids, precisely the reason we don't normally give it to editors with this few edits. If they can achieve the same result with undo as with rollback, they shouldn't need rollback. Autopatrol still seems a little iffy in my opinion. Basically, my main point is the instructor should prove a need for it before getting it, like always. For example there, if their students are using {{rename media}} on everything, the instructor can get filemover for 24 hrs or so to move the files appropriately, and instruct his students in better naming. Likewise, if there's a ton of his students' BLP PC article edits needing review, he can be temporarily granted that right (or better yet, be directed to #wikipedia-en-pc connect). There's ways to work around these issues that don't involve giving those with <100 edits any/all unbundled admin powers possible. Just my opinion. gwickwiretalkedits 03:13, 15 January 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── As someone who is/was active in several of these rights, I would like to express my opinion:

  • Autopatrolled - "Autopatrol is given so that when profs create a page like this, it wouldn't flood the new page patrol and upsetting those patrollers." - Patrollers rarely patrol the Wikipedia namespace and you will see why by looking at Special:NewPages, there are dozens of unpatrolled AfDs, SPIs, FACs and the list goes on. Does that mean we give Autopatrolled to people who create dozens of AfDs?
  • Filemover - As someone who is active in moving files here and on Commons, I find tons of controversial {{rename media}} requests. How do we know that these instructors are going to make appropriate moves, do they even know the relevant policies?
  • Reviewer - As noted by Fluffernutter "Autopatrolled and reviewer, in particular, strike me as a Very Bad Idea to give to participants who maybe don't know a whole lot about what a valid article looks like, how to write using our MOS, or how to use our copyright or BLP policies."

I am not going to comment on rollback, IP block exemption or account creator as they can be extremely useful to instructors if used correctly. As I stated before, "do they even know the relevant policies?" - We should atleast be dropping links and/or templates to assist instructors in using their tools correctly. :) -- Cheers, Riley 04:57, 15 January 2013 (UTC)

I also am very concerned about this situation. It seems to me that there is a valid justification for IP block exemption. And that's the only one. Even rollbacker otherwise requires an administrator to provide the tool, hopefully only after actually checking the editor's demonstrated ability to use it. It seems to me that the community has consensus standards for most of these rights, and they shouldn't be given out to new editors simply because they are instructors without clear evidence of community consent to modifying those standards. After all, this noticeboard has had numerous instances of editors pointing out serious failures of some instructors to adhere to Wikipedia's editing norms, so empirically there is no valid reason to presume that instructors automatically qualify for the permissions. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:55, 15 January 2013 (UTC)

Accountcreator is sometimes important in classroom situations, since many instructors have students mass-create accounts and without it only six accounts an IP a day can be created. The instructor doesn't necessarily have to have it if they ensure ahead of time that someone is available to handle account creation... but it is really really useful. Kevin Gorman (talk) 23:05, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
Woops, you are right. I have no problem with ACC and EPI. I was just thinking of the ones that are in the bullet list above. So, account creator, epinstructor, and IP block exemption are justified. Just not the others. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:10, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
Tryptofish, I found this comment of yours deeply concerning. You said "this noticeboard has had numerous instances of editors pointing out serious failures of some instructors to adhere to Wikipedia's editing norms". That sounds like a strawman argument. May I remind you that it's the students, not the instructors, who are doing the editing? OhanaUnitedTalk page 01:48, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
From classes I've seen, the instructors do edit quite a bit on articles as well, if only for examples of editing. So, it's not really an invalid argument from Tryptofish. gwickwiretalkedits 01:52, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
OhanaUnited, my apologies if anything I said made you feel badly, but I think I am right about this issue. In a way, it's true that the problems arise, proximally, from student edits. But if some (not all! not all!) instructors fail to help fix student problems – and it's undeniable that this has happened repeatedly – then the point remains valid. And even if we leave out what I said about that, the fact remains that there is a community consensus about how some of these user rights should be given out, and we should not unilaterally alter those standards. --Tryptofish (talk) 17:09, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
I'm not concerned by that statement at all. I'm concerned when professors who don't know the basics of how to edit force their class to edit in return for a grade. Is that not concerning? Biosthmors (talk) 20:47, 16 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Just jumping in out of nowhere here. I'm not even remotely concerned about giving these rights to professors should they be necessary to conduct a class with minimal friction. User rights are a technical limitation on action. Granting a remit to act in a way which requires certain rights normally consists of 2 things: a need for the right and a (minimal) display of competency with said right. In many cases where those rights are unobjectionable the minimal display can be nothing. In fact we routinely hand out rights where the recipient hasn't displayed any competency with them because they can't. Before becoming an admin I didn't delete a single file or block a single user. Before becoming a rollbacker I didn't roll back a single edit. In the former case I had a big long request process. In the latter someone looked over my contributions and figured I wouldn't go about breaking anything.
  • If we can show that participants in this program have a demonstrated need for these tools, then we have only to make a determination that they have some minimal display of competency. Obviously, in the eyes of some editors we aren't doing that. But I wonder how necessary that latter part is. Are we equipping professors with tools of such power that we can't grant them to people whose name and professional identity we know? We grant them to anonymous editors all the time. Any professor who abuses a tool to the point where removing it would become necessary (a trivial act) would run the risk of being unable to complete their syllabus. That's a strong enough deterrent against about, I think. It's certainly stronger than any we have for every other editor who seeks these permissions.
  • Finally, the standards shouldn't drive the bus. Fundamentally, who cares about the standards? What article has our policy on filemover rights ever improved? The standards serve the encyclopedia. There's no need to adhere to them in a hidebound fashion if such adherence would add friction to a program whose adoption is predicated upon imposing as little friction as possible. No one will look at the education program and demand that because professors are given rights A-D that editors should be given rights A-D with the same scrutiny. and if they do we'll just point them to WP:OSE as always. If we need to have an RFC about it then let's get that over with but don't lose sight of what's important here. Protonk (talk) 03:43, 17 January 2013 (UTC)
Protonk, I don't think anyone needs those particular tools to teach a class here. And I dislike the idea of anything that sets up some editors as, de facto, better than other editors. If any other editor does not get certain tools automatically and presumptively, just because of who they are in real life, why should instructors, when, in fact, they do not need them to do what they came here to do? Maybe I should not have used the word "standards". How about "consensus" instead? --Tryptofish (talk) 01:41, 18 January 2013 (UTC)
Just one small data point: I got an email today from an instructor asking to have rollback removed, since the user had accidentally used it and was then reprimanded by someone. (If someone could remove Rollback, at least, from User:Jgmikulay, she'd be grateful.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 01:51, 18 January 2013 (UTC)
Done. Nikkimaria (talk) 02:25, 18 January 2013 (UTC)
If no one needs the tools to teach a class then that's an entirely different story. Where I'm trying to insert myself is amidst the logic that because we grant the tools to someone who has to do a specific job, we're somehow making a status claim. That's the part that's backwards. There's no need to imbue tools like these with any more social value than they already have. And we should recognize that sometimes that value is misplaced. Again, if the tools aren't needed (e.g. rollback), then by all means, limit use. But where they are needed the priority should be to hand them out and make the process as painless as possible. Protonk (talk) 03:48, 18 January 2013 (UTC)
I agree with fluffernutter that to give autopatrolled, filemover, or reviewer to instructors in a course who would not otherwise qualify for them by the WP experience is an extremely bad idea. We need better ways of checking their work here, not an exemption from the ordinary checks. I'd have no problem with giving these to someone who has done a successful course before or who shows they understand what's involved. Autopatrolled in particular can be used deliberately or inadvertently to remove articles from the normal checking processes, and should be given to people who do not understand what the effects can be. I doubt we have faculty involved who could not learn these things--it's just that many of them will not want that degree of involvement--we need them to get involved in article creation and editing, but not necessarily the whole structure. DGG ( talk ) 04:04, 18 January 2013 (UTC)
I don't want to be argumentative (well, more than necessary), but it's kinda loony to say that if these tools are necessary for the job we should hand them out to professors after the job is done. Protonk (talk) 15:29, 18 January 2013 (UTC)

One other point to be made here is that we're not talking about a large set of editors. Even if the education program expands considerably we're talking about maybe a dozen or so concurrent users in a day. We've nearly racked up a dozen sysops who were found to have been sockpuppets of banned users, and we survived that. :) Protonk (talk) 15:29, 18 January 2013 (UTC)

If I'm following all of this discussion correctly, I would support Account Creator rights for professors. I'd strongly prefer to assign IP Block Exempt status only on an as-needed and temporary basis so I hope this right is removed after the students and professors finish a course unless there is some need for them to keep IPBE. I strongly oppose automatically granting autopatrol, filemover, reviewer, and rollback to professors, students, and/or ambassadors, and I think any change to the status quo for how these rights are assigned should go through a community RFC. I'll add that I don't remember any discussion of these user rights being a part of the RFC about whether the education extension should be implemented, and I would have opposed the education extension if I had known that these rights changes were included as a part of that package. There was no mention that I can see of these rights changes at Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Education Program extension. I can see some value in the extension but not in the rights changes. Pardon me for being upset but I dislike being surprised in this way. --Pine 07:10, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

Further note, I have pinged Risker to ask about Arbcom's awareness that these rights are apparently being assigned automatically through the Education extension. --Pine 07:34, 21 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Thanks for letting me know of this, Pine. Just to clarify, I have commented on these userrights previously in my personal capacity, and not wearing my "Arbcom" hat. I think it may be worthwhile to review the RFC on activating the extension; I'm not entirely certain that the exact details of what tools went into the package were discussed at that time. Speaking as someone who does have to deal with issues of unnecessary (and sometimes inappropriate) IPBE, I'd really like to hear exactly why it's included in this group of permissions, though. I've yet to come up with a good reason; contrary to popular belief, we don't block the IPs of universities and colleges that often. Risker (talk) 08:36, 21 January 2013 (UTC)
  • I don't have a problem with IPBE being assigned for long terms - where needed. If your school is behind a block, it's probably behind a block for the long term. That said, I agree that it should be as needed. I generally agree with Fluffernutter, DGG, etc. for the rest - noting that I'm particularly concerned about File mover, since our rules are quite non-intuitive for a new user and since it shouldn't be needed by most profs. If there's a prof who genuinely needs it, I'm fine with giving him a quick tutorial and making an exception for him, but it should be the exception, not the rule. Remember also that a file move to the same name as an existing file on Commons will effectively overwrite the Commons file here (local filename trumps global filename). – Philosopher Let us reason together. 09:03, 21 January 2013 (UTC)
  • FYI I've now removed (see [22]) the rights Autopatrolled, Filemover, Reviewer, and Rollback from all professor accounts except User:Wadewitz. I now have a tool that can change them again if needed, so please contact me at User talk:Dcoetzee if you wish to globally add or remove any rights to/from professor accounts. Dcoetzee 03:58, 22 January 2013 (UTC)
That's good, thanks very much. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:29, 22 January 2013 (UTC)

extension rights

To clarify a bit, the only user rights that are connected with the extension are the course instructor, campus volunteer, online volunteer, and course coordinator rights, and each of these has effects that are limited to the extension features. If we do decide that, for example, everyone with the course instructor right should also be given ACC access, that would be an easy change to make. But as it is, those extension rights are independent of the additional rights being discussed here.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:07, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

In that case, can I suggest to any admins who are watching this that they not automatically assign additional rights to professors? If we decide they need additional rights automatically, we can do as Sage Ross suggested and adjust what is included in the course instructor package. On that note, I think it would be reasonable to add account creator to the course instructor package, but that's just me. – Philosopher Let us reason together. 13:35, 21 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Thanks for your comment, Sage. It appears that all of these other user rights were being added explicitly because they were "part of the toolset to fulfill his roles as course instructor" per the user rights management log entries. Is there somewhere onwiki where the "toolset" is discussed? Risker (talk) 15:24, 21 January 2013 (UTC)
    • If there has been such a discussion that came to a definitive conclusion, I'm not aware of it. (If such a discussion happened between September 2011 and July 2012, it could easily have escaped my notice.) I think toolset here was just shorthand for all these might potentially be useful to a professor.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:37, 21 January 2013 (UTC)
      • Thanks, Sage. On looking even more closely at the user rights log, it appears that only one person who was granting these rights was adding in all of the additional ones. Perhaps the best course of action would be to speak with that individual. I do think ACC would be useful for some of these roles, and can't think of a serious objection to including it directly in at least some of the education-linked user rights; however, most of the others aren't a good idea. I'm particularly concerned about the handing out of IPBE because it's very rare for any universities and colleges to have their IPs hard-blocked (none are right now to my knowledge); granting "confirmed user" right instead should cover any soft IP blocks. Checkusers do periodically go through and "clean up" the list of IPBE users, because we have had occasional issues with abuse of this user right. I'm not suggesting that a professor might abuse it; however, the longer the list, the more time-consuming it is to review it. I also concur with the comments above with respect to several of the user rights that have historically only been given once it is clear that the user understands how to use them properly (file mover, rollback in particular). Risker (talk) 15:47, 21 January 2013 (UTC)
        • I had just came here to say that it seems like one user that was assigning the "toolset", and that user is already discussed above. If there's any patrolling administrators here, could they remove the extraneous userrights pending a reply from said user, as I asked the user to respond a few days ago, and he has not. gwickwiretalkedits 16:46, 21 January 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: (talk)


John Chetro Szivos


Fitchburg State University

Course title and description

In this course, students examine origins, nature, and consequences of communication in a variety of subfields. This course reviews the roles of theory in comprehension of communication practices. Furthermore, it introduces the link between communication theory and the methodologies of communication research, including both qualitative and quantitative approaches, with an emphasis on interpretive approaches that are relevant to organizational settings. This is a graduate course in the Master's program in Applied Communication

Assignment plan

I am hoping they will be able to select a communication theory or issue and prepare an edit an entry

Number of students


Start and end dates

January 19 - May 15 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:04, 16 January 2013 (UTC)

Clearer instructions might stop glitches like this happening again. I've tweaked some of our documentation here - presumably most people who request "course instructor" here have come from that page. bobrayner (talk) 20:56, 22 January 2013 (UTC)

Where's the list of students for my particular course?

First off, is this the right place to ask general questions about how to use the education extension?

On my course page, I see that it says there is currently one student enrolled. But I don't see any quick link to the list of students for just this course. There's a link to the complete list of students in the whole program, but then I'd have to search that list manually for just the students in my course. What am I missing?

Klortho (talk) 04:49, 23 January 2013 (UTC)

Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page - the student is listed there. I'm not sure why it isn't showing up in the TOC though (and Sage or somebody, a link from the number of students in the course to the student list would be helpful). Nikkimaria (talk) 05:32, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
Linking from the number of students to the students list is a very good idea. I'll file a bug report to request that. With the upcoming set of extension changes, the Students section should also show up in the table of contents (if there is one, like on this course page).--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:36, 23 January 2013 (UTC)
Thanks! Klortho (talk) 00:50, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

Education program interactions with the community

DGG suggested to me recently that it might be helpful to clarify some points that keep coming up, related to what the community can expect from education program participants. He and I worked on a draft and I sent it to the working group participants to get their take on it, since that's a group of editors and educators who have been involved with the EP for a while. Here's what emerged, slightly edited from the original draft.

I would like to see the new US/Canada EP organization, if the WMF creates it, adopt some language like this; and I think it would be helpful if the global EP made a similar statement of intent. I've used "EP" as shorthand for the new organization, whatever its name turns out to be.

The EP will encourage all US and Canadian courses writing articles for WP to work through the EP, but it cannot undertake that all courses will do so, because of the WP principle that anyone can edit WP.
The EP will not request any special treatment for the Wikipedia editing done by students, faculty or ambassadors. For example, there have been cases where students have requested that articles not be deleted, or that DYK or GA reviews should be accelerated in order to meet course deadlines, or that student edits be left untouched until reviewed by an instructor or until the end of a class. The community cannot be expected to support these requests; the EP will explain to instructors that their students will be treated the same way all new editors are treated, and the EP will help them plan instructional design that does not require special treatment.
The EP will explain to faculty and ambassadors that it is their responsibility to teach the basic norms of Wikipedia and to include assignments that promote submissions that have the potential for being acceptable articles. In particular, the EP will emphasize the instructors' responsibility to emphasize Wikipedia's citation policies, to check postings for possible copyright violations or plagiarism, and to penalize students who do not comply. The community will review the work and assist EP editors as it does for all editors, but can expect that people trained by the EP will understand the fundamental standards that all submissions are expected to meet.
The EP's procedures will be devised so that all concerned know the responsibility for editing and supervision, so that class work will be identifiable as coming from the students in the class, and so that class contributions to articles or discussions are attributed to the proper individuals according to WP policy.

Any comments or improvements to the wording? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 14:45, 7 January 2013 (UTC)

The only problem with this is that it is not in fact about the Education Program's interactions with the community. It has much more to say about the program's relation with faculty, students, and ambassadors--who, strangely I think, are here not taken to be part of the program itself--and about the relation between student editors (again not part of the program) and Wikipedia. How the EP itself is to interact with the community remains strangely undefined. If anything, it looks like a series of pre-emptive buck-passings. But again, as I have just said, perhaps this doesn't matter. As a body entirely separate from Wikipedia or (it seems) the WMF, then it can do what it wants. So be it. --16:51, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
I like all the central ideas here. I'm wary of the wording on the "will not request any special treatment" paragraph. For example, in my opinion, it's totally reasonable to request an accelerated GA review (assuming someone who knows what they are doing has taken a look, and it's a good enough article for a GA review to be worthwhile in the first place). This isn't really special treatment, as anyone could make the same request; the community shouldn't be pressured to prioritize those kinds of requests from EP students. But students are going to be able to respond to reviews if they happen quickly, and reviewers will often want to take that into account. That's what happened with the behavioral ecology class last term, where WikiProject Birds editors and others noticed a surge of GA nominations and tried to give them timely reviews. (I also requested quick GA reviews on this noticeboard, although I don't know that my request resulted in any reviews.) It turned out pretty well, with (by my count) six GAs so far, and students generally responding to the feedback and improving the articles for reviews that were done quickly (even if they they stopped editing before getting all the way to GA quality). So, making requests based on the timeline of a course is totally reasonable, I think. Of course, there shouldn't be any expectation that such requests will automatically be honored. But there's nothing wrong with asking.
(To be clear, we now explicitly discourage putting any sort of GA or DYK nomination as part of the assignment requirements. But this class had already done that, and were doing solid work, so it turned out pretty well. And I agree that requests to leave edits untouched are not acceptable.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:17, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
Requesting expedited review of AfCs is a good idea. I recently reviewed a couple of of AfCs from students that were submitted at the very end of last semester. I accepted one (although it needed additional work) and rejected another. Since the AfC review happened in early January the students didn't receive feedback from the Wikipedia community until after they had received their grades for the class. This is really a problem with the class due dates - if the assignment is due on the last day of class then even an expedited review will take place after the class is ended and the student has limited incentive to fix problems with the article. Ideally, I think an instructor should have the students submit an AfC or an initial version of an article by, say, midterm and then expand the article and respond to any feedback by the end of the semester so that they can gain experience with the collaborative process of Wikipedia. In this scenario expedited AfC review is also important because we would want to make sure that students have as much time as possible to improve their articles in response to feedback. GabrielF (talk) 16:12, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
I would strongly advise against sending articles through the present AfC system. I work there a lot, sometimes reviewing articles, but mainly trying to catch the worst mistakes reviewers there make--mistakes in both directions--rejecting adequate articles, and not catching problems as major as copyvio. There are presently no qualification to being an AfC reviewer, and many people start there immediately after their first article gets accepted, or even earlier. I and others have been trying to teach them, but I would say that not just some but most AfC reviewing is incompetent. I think it much more advisable for a class to run its own review process, and perhaps I can think of a wording to that effect. I consider the basic job of both the instructor and the ambassador that of seeing articles get improved sufficiently to be acceptable in mainspace, and that is all that AfC can do even at its best. I consider using AfC for this purpose will be trusting your students to the ignorant, to those who should be learning what to do here, rather than trying to instruct or approve others. I'm going to add a sentence about this.
Gabriel and Sage, I recognize you have very considerable experience at this, and obviously think the AfC process more reliable than I do--perhaps because I tend to concentrate of finding problems there. If you have found it usable, perhaps it is also because you have already done an adequate review yourself before the articles have been submitted.
I would also recommend against making GA review part of a requirement, or, much worse, a grading system. The people doing GA review are by and large considerably more experienced than the ones reviewing at AfC. Although there are no controls over what they do, the result of what they do is a little more visible, and this helps. But still the results will be quite erratic. I think using any WP process for grading inappropriate, unless you set the goal as an article that has been shown acceptable, or ought to have been shown acceptable. This means that if the WP standards are used, the instructors should learn to use them themselves. It's an abdication of professional responsibility for instructors not to set their own standards and do their own grading. DGG ( talk ) 16:44, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
I don't disagree with you about AfC, DGG. In my experience, while some classes do alright with it, I don't think it's something that any assignment should rely on. Here's the one place I can think of in the training where it's mentioned (which people should feel free to edit): Wikipedia:Training/For students/Sandbox edits for new articles. I also agree about grading, and that should be reflected in all the current training and advice literature for the program. My only point above was that I don't think we should prohibit people from asking for timely GA reviews, for individual student articles where it seems likely to be useful.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:54, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
DGG, you make some important points that I'll have to think about carefully as I work as an ambassador this semester. For the purposes of this thread though, I agree with Sage that students and instructors shouldn't be restricted from asking for an expedited review. Students face a time pressure that other editors don't have to deal with and if we want to get the best work that we can out of them we should try to make sure that their articles don't spend two or more weeks sitting in a backlog. This is more applicable to GA and AfC which frequently seem heavily backlogged than DYK. I agree with the above that student editors shouldn't get any treatment when it comes to content. GabrielF (talk) 01:21, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
I think any advice to classroom users about interacting with the community should include a pointer to Wikipedia:Assignments for student editors. --Tryptofish (talk) 01:13, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
This isn't intended as advice, more as a way to make it clear that the EP understands the expectations of the community, and plans to abide by community norms. It's a statement, rather than advice; it's meant as a response to concerns that have been expressed about the EP.
A separate point: I said above (and have said elsewhere) "if the WMF creates it", referring to the proposed new US/Canada education program. That wasn't an accurate way to put it; it won't actually be the WMF that creates it -- if the WMF decides to approve the proposal, the proposal would then go to the Wikimedia Affiliations Committee, which would decide whether it could be approved as a thematic organization. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:23, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
OK, thanks. Well, I certainly wouldn't want the EP to plan not to abide by community norms! --Tryptofish (talk) 01:27, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Any idea on when the WMF would decide whether or not to refer it to the committee? Biosthmors (talk) 05:39, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

On expedited reviews: I don't think everyone waiting for their volunteer work to be reviewed for GA, for example, would appreciate students getting ahead of them in line. The opinions of those who are waiting for a GA review should be prioritized, when considering this question, in my opinion. I know that if I were to have a student get priority over me for a GA review, I wouldn't like it. Biosthmors (talk) 18:01, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

I echo that. If it is not being used in grading, why is there need for GA approval before the course ends? Courses have a deadline for getting in their grades, but there is no deadline in WP for improvement of an article to that standard. DGG ( talk ) 05:15, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
And in an optimal case, wouldn't the professor do the good article reviews? Biosthmors (talk) 05:33, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
I think it would be better if the GA reviewer were an independent reviewer. On the other point: If the students are expected to aim for GA quality as part of their course, then getting a neat little GA certificate 6 months after the course ends is not really helpful from their perspective! bobrayner (talk) 10:30, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
Why would uncompensated volunteers be optimal? I think it would be best if the professor reviewed, that way the professor is a real Wikipedian instead of being disconnected from the process. (And I would hope students would still care if the community, months later, officially upgraded the status of the article.) We can't ignore that the professor should be the subject-matter expert (or at least somewhat familiar) with type of content student editors are writing and that it would get us more good article reviews if other volunteers participated at the same rate. The professor is the paid editor in this case, since it would be part of their job-duties, and the students are compensated with their grade. Both sides aren't really "volunteering" to Wikipedia in the true sense of the word, unless they are spending relatively more time to grade or write than they would have been if the assignment were not on Wikipedia, which is just an assignment platform. And being assigned to "aim" for GA status is different from requring that students actually obtain it; that distinction is part of the course I'm helping with this semester. Biosthmors (talk) 18:34, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
I know I'm late commenting on this, but have you asked the GA Project what they think? It seems to me that a non-Wikipedian professor is more likely to use his own criteria and less likely to use Wikipedia's criteria than a normal reviewer. – Philosopher Let us reason together. 16:15, 24 January 2013 (UTC)


  • What then is the status of the suggested addition? Is it included in the revision the WMF is working on? Or is planned to remain as an unofficial statement of ideals? DGG ( talk ) 05:15, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
    • Hey, David! I am adding it in now to then send to the Working Group for approval! Then I'll copy into the wiki version :). Thanks so much for working on this! Really great stuff. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 03:15, 18 January 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Amy E Hughes (talk)


Amy E. Hughes


CUNY, Brooklyn College

Course title and description

For the first time, I am incorporating a Wikipedia assignment into a course that I am teaching because I would like to give students the option of completing a Wikipedia project in lieu of the customary research paper. The course is "Theater History from 1642" and it is the second half of a two-semester survey of Western theater history. We will explore theater practice and drama from the Restoration to postmodernism, examining scripts, theory, audiences, theater architecture, scenic and costume design, and acting styles in light of the social and cultural conditions that influence theatrical literature and performance. It is a required course for many MA and MFA students studying theater in my department. All students must complete a significant research project (35% of grade), either 1) an academic research paper addressing a significant and original research problem, following the conventions associated with a conference paper; or 2) a Wikipedia project, in which students will create or substantially edit one or more pages on Wikipedia about notable individuals, historical periods, and/or aesthetic movements in theater history, citing at least ten secondary sources.

Assignment plan

I am modeling this assignment on the 12-week syllabus recommended by Wikipedia. Students will have work due every week throughout the semester. First, they will learn how to set up a user account, post on a Talk page, "claim" the articles they want to work on by posting on the Wikipedia page for this course, and set up their sandbox. Then, students will post their preliminary bibliography in their sandbox for my review. Next, they will complete a needs assessment and a writing plan, which will be peer-reviewed by a classmate. After the NA and WP are approved by me, they will start making improvements to the article they've selected. During week 9, every student will complete at least one peer review of the work done to date by posting comments on the article's Talk page. Students will continue working on the articles until the twelfth week, at which point they will submit to me a reflective paper describing their experience in this project, along with a "work journal" logging the hours and tasks completed each week. After completing this project, I believe my students 1) will have increased their knowledge about several topics in theater history, 2) be better able to assess and critically read information posted on the Internet, 3) be more familiar with the social/editorial conventions, formatting, and programming associated with wikis generally and Wikipedia specifically, 4) be a better writers—the transparency and flexibility of wiki technology will allow them to see the strengths and weaknesses in their writing, hone their skills as researchers and editors, and give and receive help from other members of the Wikipedia community.

Number of students

15-17 students

Start and end dates

January 30 to May 22, 2013

Amy E Hughes (talk) 14:17, 23 January 2013 (UTC)

Amy is working with the Education Program now, and is all set with user rights.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 20:00, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

Training feedback and training module

There has been a lot of feedback being generated at Wikipedia:Training/For students/Training feedback. Is anyone welcome to address these comments by editing Wikipedia:Training/For students, for example? And how would one go about editing the training, exactly? Biosthmors (talk) 18:42, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

I've been watching the feedback as it comes in, but Jami and I were planning to wait until the bulk of students for this term have finished it before attempting another round of serious revision (and public discussion of potential changes beforehand). Anyone is welcome to edit the trainings, although try not to make edits that break the continuity of the training, as students are going through it regularly right now. You can see the basic structure of how the trainings are put together by looking at any given slide within one of the modules: A header template with parameters for how the content gets styled as well as the slide title and page number, then the body content (which is transcluded from a "core" page so that it can be shared and updated for more than one training; this also serves to separate out text content so that it can be translated with minimal duplication, since we're trying to adapt this stuff for Portuguese and potentially other languages), then a footer than links each page to the previous and next slide. I realize that it's a bit byzantine. Rearranging the relationships among slides (adding, deleting, switching around) is pretty tedious, though, so I suggest outlining any significant proposed changes at Wikipedia talk:Training/For students for discussion before starting to implement them.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 19:16, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. Are you aware of any other models for how slides are presented on Wikipedia? Maybe eventually switching to an easier to edit format should be a goal, but I'm ignorant on the possibilities. Biosthmors (talk) 21:40, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
These might be the best format for the translation issue Sage mentioned, but he would know better. His (really awesome!) work on these trainings should essentially serve as a foundation for any language Wikipedias who are interested in training students (or professors/Ambassadors). Though obviously they'd need to change based on their own community norms/best practices. Thanks for being so involved in the small details of the program! You're awesome. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 22:21, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
There aren't any suitable slide designs elsewhere on Wikipedia, as far as I know. Training materials have long been a weak point of Wikipedia. If I have the time, I might try to further simplify the template structure, but it's not a priority right now.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 00:02, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

I'm confused

In regards to Wikipedia:Education Working Group/Proposal:

  • When will comments be considered from editors and when will a decision to refer to the Affiliations Committee on the proposal be made?
  • Or has a decision already been made on the proposal?
  • How should requested changes to the proposal be proposed?
  • How will editors know if those changes in Working Group thinking have been adopted?
  • Will any feedback from WMF be posted on Wikipedia talk:Education Working Group/Proposal?

Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 18:26, 8 January 2013 (UTC)

As of today, the WMF team is considering some slight modifications to the proposal based on their consultations at WMF. Additionally, the initial board of directors is beginning the necessary planning to transition the existing EP to the new independent EP once it (if it) is approved by the Affiliations Committee. Apart from that, all members of the new board are monitoring on-wiki discussions regarding the EP and the proposal. If you have any specific suggestions re the proposal, please outline them on the talk page of the proposal. Thanks. --Mike Cline (talk) 19:29, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Will the WMF consider incorporating comments left at Wikipedia talk:Education Working Group/Proposal by editors into an updated version of the proposal, or is the document finalized in the mind of the WMF? Until when will the WMF consider editor comments for alterations to the proposal? Biosthmors (talk) 20:29, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
As I said above, the WMF is considering some slight modifications to the proposal that are for the most part, technical or legal issues. The modified proposal will be reviewed and posted by the Working Group when it is recieved from the WMF. Once that is done, the initial board of directors will submit a resolution to the Affilations Committee for approval to incorporate as a thematic organization. This requires some upfront legal work which is underway. The board will also be working on all the other tasks necessary to transition the existing program and start operating the new independent EP. This process will be as open and transparent as practical with the Wikipedia Community and our Academic partners. Again, if you have any suggestions re the proposal, please post them to the talk page. However, it is somewhat difficult to advise specifically how any input will be dealt with. Up to this point, we in the Working Group (and the initial board) and the WMF are continuing to follow the processes we established in May 2011 to handle this transition. --Mike Cline (talk) 21:13, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. I intended for those two questions to be directed to the WMF. I'll email them for a reply here. Thanks for your reply. Biosthmors (talk) 21:23, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Hey, Biosthmors. Actually, the proposal was to WMF not from us. As I believe Mike is referring to above, we have reviewed the current proposal and made some suggestions for clarifications that some Working Group members will be working on, basically as advisors who have seen the work the group has done and want to make sure it's clear to outsiders. As for the comments left on the proposal, that's really going to have to be the Initial Board of the new org who responds to those suggestions. In other words, this proposal is for the thematic organization and will be adapted for the Affiliations Committee, but the Working Group wanted to post the proposal to keep any other community members in the loop. I believe their plan is to come up with, in the next few weeks, a channel for feedback from any interested Wikipedia editors. Most likely, this will be in the form of either becoming a member and/or a useful portal for being transparent and getting helpful feedback. I'm sorry if I'm not answering your questions. Let me know if you need me to clarify. It's crazy busy trying to make sure profs/Ambassadors are ready for the new semester, but I didn't want to leave you hanging here. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 21:39, 8 January 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply. To Working Group members: is there any update on when this might be/will be/has been sent to the Affiliations Committee? When would feedback on the draft still be considered by? I assume when the document is finalized for Affiliations Committee purposes it will be posted here to solicit any additional feedback on meta? Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 15:32, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
I would like to suggest to the Education Working Group members that it might be wise having an RfC on the proposal here, before sending it to the affiliations committee. According to the Jan 7 Signpost, that committee just rejected the proposal of the Wiki Med group , in considerable part for not having sufficient community involvement. They are apparently going to go ahead as an independent organization without approval, even though that means they can not use the WP trademarks of say they are affiliated with WP--I think that an exceedingly foolish decision. Obviously anyone can organize to write & improve WP articles, but it might appear to put them in the position of a special interest group trying to influence our content. I think it would be even more foolish for the education group to find itself in a similar position, because the education project affects more than just one subject area of content, and affects our relationship with not just content, but with an entire class of editors and programs.
I am aware the members of the ed group feel they have sufficient consensus from the previous RfC, even though it was explicitly closed a non-consensus; if they are confident of having implicit consensus nonetheless, they ought to confirm it. DGG ( talk ) 21:13, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
I'm affiliated with Wiki Med, and it is completely separate from WP:MEDRS, which does cover content. Watch that talk page and WP:MEDMOS if you really think it will become a "cabal". ;-) I find this concern to be illogical and thus unrelated to the issues at hand, FWIW. Biosthmors (talk) 21:19, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
I personally have no problems at all with either project. I've worked only a little in the field, because I think the people there already are extremely competent,and are doing things right, and any help I could give them is much more needed elsewhere. But apparently my own satisfaction was not completely shared with respect to at least Wiki Med. DGG ( talk ) 04:08, 18 January 2013 (UTC)
It seems wise to have an RfC before submitting to the Affiliations Committee. Biosthmors (talk) 20:50, 16 January 2013 (UTC)

To anyone from the Education Working Group or Education Board (or WMF)

I see there is an upcoming meeting on January 28th (Wikipedia:Education Board/Meetings/2013/1). Can the community please get an update? About the points raised above, for example? Biosthmors (talk) 18:46, 24 January 2013 (UTC)

Here are the answers (to the questions listed further up) as far as I know them -- I'm in that meeting, though I hesitate to call myself a board member at the moment because the organization hasn't been approved yet. I'm going to refer to the organization as the WEF (Wiki Educational Foundation) for brevity in my replies, to avoid using a phrase like "the organization that will probably be called 'Wiki Educational Foundation - U.S. and Canada' if it is approved by the WMF and the Affiliations Committee".
  1. When will comments be considered from editors and when will a decision to refer to the Affiliations Committee on the proposal be made? Comments from editors will be considered by the WEF at any time. One task we know we have is to set up a communications page for suggestions, comments, discussions, complaints, and so on. That's more once we're set up, though; for now I would communicate either here or directly to anyone listed in that meeting. I would expect that the WMF will consider comments from editors at any time too, but I'm not part of that process; I would suggest contacting Jami Mathewson if you want to provide input to the WMF decision. I don't know when their decision will be taken. As for the Affiliations Committee, I'm not expert on how they work but again I would assume you could give them comments at any time. That's up to them, not us, of course. If the WMF approves the proposal that's the step that would forward it to the Affiliations Committee.
  2. Or has a decision already been made on the proposal? No -- the steps are that the WMF has to agree to the proposal and then the Affiliations Committee has to agree too. Unless they've done so very recently and I haven't yet heard, neither decision has been taken.
  3. How should requested changes to the proposal be proposed? At this point, since the proposal is in the WMF's hands, I would suggest providing feedback to the WMF but also to the WEF since even if approved by the WMF the final organization will be independent and can take input and change policy at any time it wishes.
  4. How will editors know if those changes in Working Group thinking have been adopted? I'm not entirely sure what you mean by this, but if you are looking for ongoing clarity in WEF plans, then the communications page I mentioned above is likely to be a good place. As above, you can contact anybody in the WEF directly too.
  5. Will any feedback from WMF be posted on Wikipedia talk:Education Working Group/Proposal? I don't know; I would assume this is up to the WMF.
Not sure if the above answers your questions -- let me know if not. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:10, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
Mike. Thanks so much. Now it's much clearer how and where to provide feedback.
  1. . Thanks. I think the Education Noticeboard is perfectly suited for this communication unless a consensus develops to "split" discussion off elsewhere.
  2. . Thanks for the update. Will the WEF please post here whenever they become aware of the WMF decision?
  3. . Thanks.
  4. . I mean this: how will the community know if the WEF has agreed to change the wording of the proposal it plans to submit to the Affiliations Committee (assuming it is approved in its current state from the WMF). Will Wikipedia:Education Working Group/Proposal just be edited? Or a copy of it, to be placed somewhere? Will new section announce WEF accepted revisions be placed here? Will a note be left at the talk page for the proposal.
  5. . Would someone from the WMF please take a stab at this?
And a new question: how long will the WEF wait for community feedback before the proposal is referred over to the Affiliations Committee? Best. Biosthmors (talk) 22:36, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
I don't know the timeline so I don't know how quickly it will go from the WMF to the Affiliations Committee. I suspect the WMF will send it straight to the committee if they approve it, but of course the committee won't necessarily deal with it instantly. However, as I said above, the organization is intended to be open to feedback from the community both before and after the committee decides, so if there were comments that might lead to significant changes, there's no deadline. In addition the WEF's board will have several members elected by the editing community, so that will be another avenue for input. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:15, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
Can the community please get a defined comment period of at least one week before referral to the Affiliations Committee? I was under the impression WMF would refer it back to the WEF before it is sent to the Affiliations Committee. As far as I'm aware, this proposal could be approved and referred over to the Affiliations Committee while I'm typing this, and I find this possibility frustrating. Please define a period of comment. Please? Biosthmors (talk) 19:51, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
My impression is that the WEF will evolve over time depending upon community consensus. I now understand that referring over to to the Affiliations Committee isn't as big of a step as I perceived it to be. I look forward to engaging in productive discussion here or elsewhere. Biosthmors (talk) 20:38, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
See Wikipedia_talk:Education_Working_Group/Proposal#Clarification_please, please. Biosthmors (talk) 21:02, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

Who are the ambassadors? Let's start listing them at WP:AFSE

I'm thinking the lists at Wikipedia:Online_Ambassadors/Mentors and Wikipedia:United_States_Education_Program/Campus_Ambassadors are likely to contain people who are no longer doing anything with student editors or professors. (I looked at just one person's contributions and I didn't see any recent activity.) Maybe we should contact them all using EdwardsBot and email to ask that they list at WP:AFSE, if they want to be active Wikipedia editors. If people aren't active editors then I don't think they should be on the list at that article. I think we should also abandon the profiles and maintain simple lists. User pages serve the profile purpose. One can always add a footnote to the article to explain the subjects one is willing and not willing to be an ambassador for. Biosthmors (talk) 14:58, 14 January 2013 (UTC)

As soon as I finish writing it, I'm going to send out message to the talk pages of all the people who are or might be still participating as ambassadors, giving a general update on what's going on with the program and pointing them to Wikipedia talk:Ambassadors/Become an ambassador. We will indeed be able to move away from that tedious manually-edited list of profiles; instead, ambassadors can create a profile through the extension at Special:CampusAmbassadorProfile or Special:OnlineAmbassadorProfile. (It's possible to then hide your profile from public display if you are taking a break or don't want to participate any more.) Then the automatically-maintained lists of ambassadors will be at Special:CampusAmbassadors and Special:OnlineAmbassadors.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:17, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
That sounds like a plan, thanks. =) Biosthmors (talk) 15:21, 14 January 2013 (UTC)
Sage, has this been done? One thing I'd really like to see is more pro-activity (? word) on cleaning out old out-of-date information. Thanks! Klortho (talk) 01:49, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
I think so, because I got the message and Special:CampusAmbassadors and Special:OnlineAmbassadors are active. We should probably redirect the old page(s) to the new ones, to eliminate the out-of-date problem, if that hasn't been done already. Biosthmors (talk) 01:55, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
I was actually specifically referring to the idea of sending messages to the talk pages of all the previous ambassadors, to make sure they get the chance to sign up in the new system. I'd think it'd be better to leave the old pages up for a little while, in case they want to copy their profile. (Of course, I guess they could get it from the history). Klortho (talk) 02:02, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
The message you got on your talk page (along with all the other past and present ambassadors I had listed) was intended to do that. On cleaning out out-of-date information, I agree fully. I started doing that with the OA portal, including a message about the deprecation of Wikipedia:Online Ambassadors/Mentors, but there's more to do. Jami and I both plan to devote some time to that soon, and please, feel free to clear out any out-of-date info you see.
The general strategy, I think, should be to consolidate as much info as possible, reduce the number of active ambassadors pages as much as possible, focus on integrating any critical info into the training pages to serve as the all-purpose manual for how ambassador stuff works, and mark anything that isn't needed any more as {{historical}}.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:38, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

Geographical details for Campus Ambassadors?

Could we organize Special:CampusAmbassadors in a regional (possibly map) way, or at least present location details, so people can scroll through and see if anyone is possibly available in their area? Biosthmors (talk) 02:01, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

That's a good idea, although it's probably not going to make it onto the extension development roadmap very soon (unless someone with the appropriate skills would like to jump in to that task). But I'll talk with some developers about it. In general, making ambassadors (both campus and online) more findable will be an important longer-term goal, and it's something I've started brainstorming a little bit.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:44, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
It would be interesting if they (and profs) could enroll not only in classes but in institutions. But there are many other things that I know Jeroen will be working on for a while! JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 18:03, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
Absolutely. One could have an ambassador to a newspaper, a magazine, a non-profit, a government agency, a think-tank, a political party, a company, etc. Who is Jeroen, by the way? Biosthmors (talk) 19:44, 25 January 2013 (UTC)
Jeroen De Dauw is the MediaWiki developer who built the Education Program extension and is continuing work on it.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 19:48, 25 January 2013 (UTC)


I'll be working closely with a number of courses at UC Berkeley next semester. I've been discussing the concerns that have arisen in past education program classes with the instructors that I will be working with, including concerns about plagiarism. All of the instructors that I will be working with feel very strongly that plagiarism is not acceptable, and both myself and the instructors will be actively monitoring student contributions for plagiarism (and if any cases of obvious intentional plagiarism are uncovered, they will be dealt with in a strong manner.

One of the instructors I will be working with brought something to my attention that I was previously unaware of - apparently UC Berkeley has access to Turnitin in a fashion that is easy to use, has no additional marginal cost, and in a way that could be applied to student's contributions to Wikipedia. If used in this class, it would be used in a fashion that did not submit to Turnitin pre-existing text on Wikipedia - only the student's direct additions would be scanned. Students would at be aware of what this involved. I know that there is controversy over the fact that Turnitin retains papers submitted to it in its database, but since the content would be submitted to Wikipedia under a CC license anyway, this wouldn't be releasing any additional rights over the content as far as I know.

I know that a lot of people have very strong feelings about Turnitin. I, bluntly, don't know enough about the background to the controversy surrounding Turnitin to know whether or not using the service in this way would be a good idea, or in line with our values. I honestly didn't even know UCB had access to Turnitin until today. Certainly, it would aid in ensuring that assignments coming out of this class weren't plagiaristic - both by its deterrent effect and potentially catching people directly. I don't feel like I'm educated enough about the issues surrounding the use of Turnitin to advise the instructor about whether the positives of using Turnitin in this way outweigh the negatives of doing so, so I figured I would post this here to solicit input.

Anyone have any strong thoughts one way or the other? Thanks, Kevin Gorman (talk) 08:28, 19 January 2013 (UTC)

I think it's a good idea. It's a good way to teach students about not plagiarizing, in a way that students pay attention to. Most of the controversies described at our page on Turnitin center on things that raise interesting ethical issues, but they are issues between the students and the educational institution, not between the students and Wikipedia. There have been discussions here about whether students should be subject to freedom of consent if they are required to edit Wikipedia for a course, but at this time, Wikipedia does not engage in anything like consent forms. I suppose a case can be made that the Turnitin requirement should not apply to student assignments that will remain only in sandboxes and then be deleted by user request, but I don't think that's the situation here. As you correctly point out, our CC-BY-SA license covers whatever is kept at Turnitin. --Tryptofish (talk) 02:50, 20 January 2013 (UTC)
I'll comment on the Canadian side. Using Turnitin in Canada is far less common and there are concerns that may contravene some province's privacy act. Furthermore, depending on the university, students are nearly always given the option to opt-out (I have elected to opt-out in an assignment before and the process is as simply as talking to the prof.) I have researched the 13 Canadian universities that are participating (or participated) in the Education Program. Only 2 explicitly said students must submit to Turnitin if instructor decides to use it. Four did not indicate their code of practice on website and the rest all offered a choice to opt-out. But all of them share the same commonality. It requires instructors to opt-in for that course before Turnitin applies so if the instructor chose not to use it, we can't force them. Here's the "food for thought" question. Why are we encouraging the use of software that invades on privacy when our goal is to foster free, open knowledge? OhanaUnitedTalk page 16:09, 26 January 2013 (UTC)
To be clear: I wasn't encouraging the use of Turnitin - I was soliciting additional information and opinions about it. And yes, obviously, we can't force any instructor to use it. No one, anywhere on this thread, has suggested trying to force any instructor to use it, and I cannot imagine that anyone would ever make such a suggestion. Kevin Gorman (talk) 03:37, 27 January 2013 (UTC)
Indeed, British Columbian law (specifically, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act or FIPPA) forbids instructors from requiring students to make use of any online services that may make their personal information subject to the US Patriot Act, i.e. whose servers are based in the USA. This means, incidentally, that not only is the mandatory use of Turnitin illegal, so is likewise any Wikipedia requirement. This is a law that I myself have happily broken in the past (and that plenty of professors break, knowingly or not, in the present). But it is a law. For more, see this paper. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 19:57, 26 January 2013 (UTC)
Oh, and here is an article specifically on the University of British Columbia and Turnitin. Here's the key: "It was discovered around mid-March this year that Turnitin had been saving student information on American servers. This violates BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), which states that personal information in university control must only be stored in Canada." --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 22:33, 26 January 2013 (UTC)
I'd argue the answer to that is it isn't our purview. That answer probably means we shouldn't do to much work on our end to facilitate TurnItIn, but in a broad sense how professors evaluate students is their business. Further, work produced on wikipedia is released to a license which allows scanning and profiling under a tool like TurnItIn. There's nothing "private" about contributions to wikipedia, so far as it goes. Protonk (talk) 16:59, 26 January 2013 (UTC)
User:Ocaasi has asked turnitin if we can us the software to analysis new edits to Wikipedia for possible problems and human follow up. They surprisingly said yes and the details of this are currently being hammered out.
Wikipedia is live publishing with potentially real work consequences. Students need to be definately given the option not to participate. We do not want editors who are forced to be here.
We at Wikipedia need to address plagiarism. I recently came across an article that had a lot of copy and pasted sections from 2 years ago and reverted back to that time losing a bunch of good edits since. It is sometimes difficult to determine who has copied from whom years after the fact. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 20:26, 26 January 2013 (UTC)
This is increasingly turning out to be a thought-provoking discussion. I tend to agree with Protonk that a lot of this is between the student and the educational institution. I'm trying to parse out what really is Wikipedia's responsibility. OhanaUnited is right that our goal is to "foster free, open knowledge", but I don't really think that what Turnitin does with privacy means that we are violating meta:Privacy in any way if students have used Turnitin. However, there may be privacy issues for Turnitin if the students edit under their real-life names instead of a made-up username, or if they otherwise self-identify here. As someone from the US, I'm struck by British Columbia's legal view of the Patriot Act! But I guess it means that people from BC really shouldn't edit here at all (sadly). In the past, we've discussed whether students need to sign a consent form. It increasingly seems to me that, for every class project on Wikipedia, we should make a good-faith effort to require that the instructor offer every student an alternative to mandatory publication in the Wikipedia mainspace as a requirement for course credit. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:16, 26 January 2013 (UTC)
I agree, generally, that decisions of this nature are between students and their educational institutions, and as long as it doesn't involve breaking our licenses, we can't forcibly intervene in one direction or another. But in talking to instructors, I try to provide helpful advice about any area related to Wikipedia instructional design that they'd like advice in - and an instructor explicitly solicited my opinion as to whether or not the use of Turnitin was a good idea. So my question wasn't 'Should we require this?' so much as 'If someone asks if this is a good idea, what should we say?' (I think you got that distinction, but wanted to re-emphasize it.) Kevin Gorman (talk) 03:37, 27 January 2013 (UTC)
I think Doc James brings up a crucial point. Regardless of our or any participating university's policy on privacy, live contributions are published to the web and associated semi-permanently with a user account. We can't, technically, proscribe the use of any tool to read text on wikipedia. And our license prohibits us from proscribing the use of any edit on wikipedia for a tool like this. Personally, I dislike TurnItIn tremendously (I don't teach college courses, so that's my luxury). But the decision to use it is the university's and the ability to do it is afforded technically and legally by our core publishing mechanism. Protonk (talk) 23:23, 26 January 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Maria Schmeeckle (talk)

{{User:ClueBot III/ArchiveNow}}


Maria Schmeeckle


Illinois State University

Course title and description

Sociology 318: Children in Global Perspective. This is an upper division undergraduate elective. I am trying to participate in the American Sociological Association Wikipedia Initiative. This is one of 3 service learning options for my students. We have a campus ambassador who will orient the students: Mayuko Nakamura.

Assignment plan

They will attempt to improve articles related to children, or add quality references.

Number of students

Probably 10-15.

Start and end dates

January 15-May 2, 2013. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Maria Schmeeckle (talkcontribs) 03:52, 22 January 2013 (UTC)

Maria is participating in the Education Program with her Campus Ambassador, so I've notified her Regional Ambassador about this request. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 23:35, 24 January 2013 (UTC)
 Done --Guerillero | My Talk 03:42, 27 January 2013 (UTC)

Request for 'Course Instructor' rights: Melissa Parade

{{User:ClueBot III/ArchiveNow}}


Melissa Parade (TA)
Brett R. Fajen (Instructor)


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Course title and description

Perception and Action This course is an advanced undergraduate/graduate level introduction to the topic of perception and action. It is designed to be of interest to students in cognitive science and related fields who want to better understand how humans and other animals interact with the world. Using real-world examples from both routine, everyday tasks and highly practiced skills, we will (1) explore different theoretical approaches (e.g., information processing, computational, neural, embodied cognition, dynamical systems, and ecological), (2) discuss classic and current research on perception, motor control, and perceptual-motor learning, (3) learn about mathematical and computational tools used to build models and analyze data, and (4) consider some applications, including training, rehabilitation, human-machine interaction, and robotics.

Assignment plan

Student will work in groups to create a new Wikipedia article (or substantially revise an existing article that is in need of improvement) on a topic related to the material covered in this course. This assignment will require you to choose an appropriate topic, conduct a literature search, synthesize current knowledge on your topic into a clearly written article, and respond to feedback about your article from classmates, the instructor, and other Wikipedia users.

Number of students

10-15 students

Start and end dates

January 24 to (approx.) May 15, 2013

Additional Info

Will I be able to add my adviser as a co-instructor on this course once the page has been created? --Melissa Parade (talk) 16:10, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Jackson Peebles (talk)

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Jackson Peebles


Western Michigan University

Course title and description

SPPA 2000 - Human Communication Disorders, Department of Speech Pathology & Audiology (Undergraduate)

Assignment plan

Students will be assigned several pages to review very thoroughly, verifying sources, citations, and adding the latest evidence-based research while formatting properly. The first several articles will be very thoroughly reviewed by professors, graduate students, and (not or) research assistants.

Number of students

This program will be piloted by a single honors research assistant overseen by myself (another undergraduate honors research assistant), a graduate assistant, a masters-level clinician, and three doctoral-level associate professors. If it is successful, the professors will likely remain the same or incorporate the chair/department, two other graduate students can be added, and standard honors undergraduate students will be assigned homework that entails proper editing of Wikipedia.

Start and end dates

SPPA 2000 is offered in both in the Fall and Winter semesters (Sept-April) as well as occasionally during the summer semesters. --Jackson Peebles (talk) 08:16, 29 January 2013 (UTC)

Seems reasonable.  Done --Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 02:45, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

Request for Darcie Vandegrift course instruction rights: Prof.Vandegrift (talk)

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Darcie Vandegrift

Campus Ambassador

Carrie Dunham-LaGree


Drake University

Course title and description

Working with my campus ambassador, I am creating a Wikipedia assignment for the first time using a version of the 12-week syllabus timeline over fifteen weeks. I want students to develop information literacy as well as to gain deeper understanding of youth studies. For the course “Global Youth Studies,” our class will read a textbook and scholarly articles to understand the social conditions of young adults in a variety of countries around topics including employment, education, popular culture, civic engagement, and health. The entries will focus on how youth experience particular social conditions due to age, historical time period, and social inequality. I will ask that they either edit three sections of an essay or create a new entry. Their work will be focused on the social conditions of youth in a particular country (Venezuelan youth) or comparative essay about youth conditions across the world (e.g., “sexual violence in teen relationships”).

Assignment plan

Students will have work due throughout the semester. They will set up an account and complete the online orientation. In week two, they will bring a draft of a proposed topic and complete an in-lab orientation with our campus ambassador. Here they will learn to use a talk page and evaluate article quality. In week three, they will discuss Wikipedia community etiquette and standards, and evaluate an existing Wikipedia article. Week four will include editing an existing article with one-two sentences. In week six, they will turn in a draft proposal that includes proposed articles to include in the topic area. We will also review "sandboxes" and how to use them. In week seven, they will return to the library for further orientation on locating materials and will turn in revised materials. In week eight, they will turn in a short summary version of the article or proposed improvements.In week nine, they will move their drafts to the sandbox and begin editing there with a classmate's help. In week eleven (two weeks), they will receive feedback on their article, and revise it to move out of the sandbox in week ten. They will continue this feedback process in week twelve. In week thirteen they will respond to feedback. They will add final touches and present in weeks fourteen and fifteen.

Number of students


Start and end dates

January 30 to May 15, 2013

— Preceding comment added by Prof.Vandegrift (talkcontribs) 20:18, 30 January 2013 Prof.Vandegrift (talk) 20:47, 30 January 2013 (UTC)(UTC)

I've gone ahead and given you the course instructor right so that you can set up a course page. Before you finalize your assignments, please take a careful look through Wikipedia:Training/For educators, in particular the sections in the classroom module about choosing appropriate articles. Essays and other original analysis and argument that you would typically assign to students are not allowed on Wikipedia. For background, see Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not and Wikipedia:No original research.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 18:36, 31 January 2013 (UTC)


Special:Log/course does not show diffs, unless I'm missing something. This takes the functionality of a normal Wikipedia course page in Wikipedia or User space in a backwards technological direction. Does anyone find this to be desirable? Biosthmors (talk) 19:24, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

It's a known issue, and one that we have on the roadmap to fix, but it's a big project that involves some major changes to how the extension handles data. We're tracking the issues related to this here; we'll hopefully be able to resolved all the bugs listed for "Blocks:" at the same time, but probably not until after the current cohort of courses.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 19:29, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. So does that mean improving the extension will remain a WMF action for the foreseeable future? Biosthmors (talk) 21:16, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
Through the middle of 2013, at least (as I understand it). I don't think specific plans exist beyond then yet.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 21:26, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

Other extension issues

Other problems I perceive with the extension is the inability to edit sections and the small edit window. Biosthmors (talk) 21:42, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

Editing sections is one of the things that depends on the changes I noted above (it's one of the blocked bugs). The small edit window has already been fixed, and should go live with the next MediaWiki deployment in about two weeks, along with a bunch of other improvements (including moving the wiki portion of course pages to the top, so that they feel more like normal wiki pages).
Note that the {{course page wizard}} includes a hack-y temporary fix for the section edit issue. Take a look at how the example course works.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 21:51, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
Great, thanks. I edited the template portion of the wizard. I like how you can edit individual assignments directly there. Biosthmors (talk) 23:56, 28 January 2013 (UTC)

Working Group proposal

I note that the working group proposal is being actively edited. I'm not sure why, as it was initially described as a copy of what had already been submitted to the WMF. Anyhow, it seems to have become a work in progress again. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 05:25, 26 January 2013 (UTC)

As I understand it, the previous version was the one submitted to WMF, and Jami updated it to reflect the new revisions that resulted from discussions among WMF and the working group. The new version Jami posted, I believe, is the one that will be (or was, I'm not sure about the timeline) presented to Sue Gardner. --Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 12:11, 26 January 2013 (UTC)
Perhaps a new document should be posted? Otherwise, it's all rather misleading. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 19:49, 26 January 2013 (UTC)
Incidentally, I don't believe that this intermediate step--of presenting a revised document to Sue Gardner--has been mentioned previously. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 19:50, 26 January 2013 (UTC)
I believe we just called it "submitting to WMF", but Frank Schulenburg plans to review it with Sue, since WMF has put a lot of resources into the Education Program in the US/Canada. The timeline of the proposal did mention the two iterations we were planning to do; I edited the previous version so that it would be easier for others to see the actual changes/diffs (since it's fairly long). JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 22:20, 28 January 2013 (UTC)
I dunno. The opacity of this process is extraordinary. I'm glad that Biosthmors is trying to keep tags on things, but it's hard. --17:03, 29 January 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry the process has been difficult to follow. Do you mean the process, as in steps and plans, or the content of the current proposal? I can understand it being very hard, as it was a pretty huge task for a group of volunteers to undertake. Hopefully we can get better at being transparent, which is something we're working on. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 01:19, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
I mean both, and the one leads from the other. The proposal was presented as something that had already been submitted, and therefore as a document that (unlike virtually any other page on this encyclopedia) was not available for collaborative editing. We were encouraged to provide feedback by some other, rather poorly specified, manner. All of a sudden, however, it seems to have been put up in the air, which makes it unclear what (if anything) was submitted when and to whom, and what is the current status of the proposal as a document.
I'd venture to add, incidentally, that the document also bears all the signs of something that is not written in the Wiki way: i.e. collaboratively, transparently, with multiple revisions under the eyes of many editors and taking regard for for a variety of audiences. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 09:31, 30 January 2013 (UTC)

Template:Welcome student

Hi. Template:Welcome student is not very welcoming, and it's rarely used when we don't know if they are working as part of a class, yet it says "It appears you are participating in a class project." (emphasis mine) Can we fix this? We used to have an pretty awesome welcome template; what happened to that? Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 18:23, 30 January 2013 (UTC)

Sure, we can fix it! This one is use for Twinkle, so there probably are cases where we aren't sure. But in any case, making it more welcoming would be good. (In my opinion, or general welcome templates are pretty terrible, mostly because they are way too busy with too many links.) I recently simplified this one, just to focus on pointing to the student training pages, but I didn't really try to make it any friendlier. Is {{Ambassador welcome}} the one you were thinking of? We had some others along those lines, although I don't know off the top of my head where they are.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 18:33, 30 January 2013 (UTC)
Ah, I found {{USPP welcome}}, which is the one I remember. Are there any good coders out there that would want to adapt that template? :-) Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 17:30, 31 January 2013 (UTC)

Incoming links to "old" pages

Are there things listed at and that should be redirected, or might the pages themselves be turned into redirects? Biosthmors (talk) 20:11, 1 February 2013 (UTC)

Template documentation

Any ideas why Template:Course assignment/doc was created the way it was? Seems odd. Biosthmors (talk) 07:43, 3 February 2013 (UTC)

Anndd it's gone. ;) —Theopolisme (talk) 01:51, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: S L Seston (talk)


Sherry Seston


Alverno College

Course title and description

Virology BI302. This is a junior level undergraduate class covering the history and molecular biology of viruses.

Assignment plan

I plan to follow the 12-week syllabus provided by the education program to have students improve and create articles related to virology. Topics may range from articles on a specific virus or viral disease, to the history of virology, biographies of virologists, and biotechnology.

Number of students

13 students are currently enrolled (1 auditing). I estimate about 11 will complete the full wikipedia project.

Start and end dates

Jan 23, 2013 to May 17, 2013 S L Seston (talk) 20:03, 31 January 2013 (UTC)

 Done --Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 21:47, 5 February 2013 (UTC)

Course instructor needs assistance

User:Prof.Vandegrift gave Article Feedback at Feedback on Help:Education Program extension/Instructors of "How can I add a section to my course page?". Perhaps someone with more experience with the structure of the course offering system could help them out? Thanks, Shearonink (talk) 20:08, 6 February 2013 (UTC)

Thanks much. I'll try to help.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 20:16, 6 February 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: DrJennyCee (talk)


Dr Jenny Chamarette DrJennyCee (talk) 16:10, 7 February 2013 (UTC)


Film Studies Department, Queen Mary, University of London

Course title and description

Research Methods (Film)

Research Methods (Film) is a single-semester module (12 weeks) focusing on developing the research skills that second year undergraduate students of Film will need to succeed in their third and final year of study, and in the world of work. In the first part of the module, students work in small groups to adopt and edit a Wikipedia page on a particular film; in the second part of the module they will work individually on a proposal for a possible dissertation/research project.

The module involves elements of formal teaching, group-led and independent study, weekly reading and preparation, and peer review; and a range of assessments, including the editing of a Wikipedia page, group and individual presentations, and written assignments. It is strongly recommended that students planning to take on research projects in their third and final year, also take this module.

In the first half of the module, students form small groups, and then 'adopt' a Wikipedia entry on a single film. Students have been encouraged to 'adopt' entries which are currently classified as 'stub' or 'start' class, in order to make editing more satisfying and so that their contributions are clearer. Student user names and groups are posted on my talk page. Once students have adopted their wikipedia entry, they evaluate the structure, content, presentation and referencing of the entry, and give a short presentation on their findings in order to develop important source evaluation skills to their work on- and off-line.

After their first presentations, the student groups then work together to edit their chosen wikipedia pages, in order to make improvements to the scholarly quality of the entry. All students have undertaken the student training online, and they have received lectures from me off-line about Wikipedia practices and codes of conduct. Their final edits are then submitted to me for assessment: they have a word limit of 500 words from each group, on each entry.

I am currently working with The Interior, and Sage Ross (WMF), who are both helping me to develop the course. I have also pointed students towards the WikiProject Film pages, though I'm not yet working with the project directly.

Assignment plan

6 weeks working with Wikipedia

Assignment 1 (offline): week 3

This assignment comprises a group exercise, where you will identify, evaluate and present a review of a Wikipedia page for a particular film that you would like to contribute to as a group.

This page must be an existing Wikipedia page, and must describe a single film, which is commercially available on DVD and with English subtitles. You will need to discuss and agree your page selection with the course convenor, who may reject your proposal if the page has been too extensively edited already. You are therefore advised to select a page for a film which has been less substantially written about on Wikipedia, but which has sufficient scholarly resources written in English, in order to build a better quality page.

Your group will then ‘adopt’ the page, and conduct a review and evaluation of the quality of the page as a scholarly resource, which will be presented as a group during the workshop in week 3.

Assignment 2 (online): week 6

This exercise builds on Assignment 1. Having successfully completed a review and evaluation of your selected Wikipedia page, your group will contribute 500 words of editing to the page’s content.

This can include, for example: rewriting page content, the insertion of supporting documentation and citations of a higher level of scholarly quality, the re-organisation of material, and the addition of sections or subsections to the page.

Bear in mind that, as you edit, other people will be able to see your work. These individuals will often be from outside the academic community, and will make contributions according to their own interests. If they don’t believe your edits to be correct or appropriate, they may also edit or change them, or revert them to their original content.

You will therefore need to keep a careful record of your changes, and of the overall word count for your changes. You can usefully do this on the page history section of the Wikipedia page, but it is important to keep your own record of your activity and total word count. Should other users edit your work, you may not include your own re-edits to the page content in the word count.

Number of students

There are currently 20 students in the class.

Start and end dates

Monday 7 January - Thursday 28 March (though wikipedia projects will be completed by Friday 15 February) 2013

Next cohort to run from September-December 2013, and annually thereafter

Request for course instructor right: Dhastingsabaarsotech (talk)

Dan Hastings

Abaarso Tech School of Science and Technology

Course title and description
Contributing to the World's Knowledge: Editing Wikipedia (Computer Science 11th Grade)

As a part of the 11th grade computer science curriculum regarding Internet research, website evaluation/credibility and citing sources, the 11th grade students at the Abaarso Tech School of Science and Technology located in Abaarso, Somaliland will be learning how to contribute and edit Wikipedia. These students are the amongst the brightest in the autonomous, unrecognized region of Somalia known as Somaliland. They have been through intensive training in the past term as well as the first half of this term on citing sources online, effective Internet research and evaluating website credibility. Wikipedia fits perfectly into the class syllabub as it highlights all of the above. Having the students contribute to Wikipedia would overall help improve their online research ,writing and critical thinking skills.

Assignment plan
Learning the basics of navigating through Wikipedia, understanding the mark-up language, how talk pages are used and how to make edits. The overall goal is to have students make minor edits on a topic of their choice. However, before they can go ahead making any sort of edits I will train them on how Wikipedia works, Wikipedia's mission,rules,regulations and how to edit. I plan on taking as much as time as possible to teach the course making sure students have a thorough and complete understanding of how to make edits. In theory, after making edits to the English Wikipedia page I would like students to eventually edit the Somali Wikipedia.
Number of students

Dhastingsabaarsotech (talk) 19:28, 6 February 2013 (UTC)Dan Hastings

Start and end dates
February 4, 2013 - April 20, 2013 — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dhastingsabaarsotech (talkcontribs) 06:51, 6 February 2013 (UTC)

Support Course Instructor request. This sounds like a good plan to me, I think should grant this and move forward. As an Online Ambassador, I'd be happy to help the students if need be. • Jesse V.(talk) 17:48, 8 February 2013 (UTC)

Looks like it was approved. Good luck! • Jesse V.(talk) 18:05, 8 February 2013 (UTC)

OHSU Project

I have been in talks with some faculty at OHSU School of Medicine for a few months now about a wiki editing pilot project. I just spoke with the students (a total of 8, so it should be quite manageable) about editing the ins and outs of editing wikipedia a bit. It is part of a course on pharmacology, and the "prompt" they were given had something to do with methamphetamine, or perhaps other sympathomimetics or indications for same. And FWIW, I have also spoken a bit with Lane Rasberry and Doc James about this in the past, it's just now getting going.

I just wanted to drop everyone (WP:USEP WP:ENB, WP:MED, WP:PHARM) a note who might be interacting with some of these folks over the next month or two (the course runs until April 10). I gave them a rundown on some of the common mistakes students make as part of these projects, e.g. assuming that one's edits have to stay up in order for them to be useful as a grade (which I've seen a number of times). I am confident they will be able to avoid most of these common pitfalls.

As it stands it appears that they will be looking for either stubs to build out that are related to the clinical vignette that is their initial prompt; they might instead/also work on rewriting part of an article that is jargon-laden or otherwise confusing to adhere more closely to WP:MEDMOS. The consensus was that they would try and sandbox everything before putting it in an actual article.

Most of them, as of right now, do not have WP accounts, but should be making them soon. If you see them around, say Hi!

-- UseTheCommandLine (talk) 00:54, 9 February 2013 (UTC) --- Updated links UseTheCommandLine (talk) 01:11, 9 February 2013 (UTC)

details of the talk page "assignment" template

When I set up the {{course page wizard}} for adding default structure to the extension course pages, I added a section with instructions for adding a talk page banner noting that an article is being edited for an assignment in a course: {{course assignment}}. It looks like this:

I simplified it from {{educational assignment}}, which takes more parameters but often got used incorrectly. I think it's important to have banner code that can simply be copied and pasted, rather than code that has to be adjust by the student or customized for each class (with starting and ending dates, for example). Per comments from Geniac and Biosthmors, I wanted to ask for more input on what a talk page banner like this should do. Is changing tense after the assignment ends important ("...article is vs. was the subject...")? (We could include an additional parameter for term into the template, and then just update the wizard every few months for new terms, but that such an update is a likely point of failure. Or we could try more complex logic for automatically determining an end date several months forward from when the course page gets set up.)

Is there anything else a standard talk page banner should include, such as links to particular pages? Given the clutter of typical talk pages, my first instinct is to keep it as simple as possible, but I could see a case for adding a link to this noticeboard, or links to the userpage of the instructor and/or ambassadors and/or the student who added the template. Biosthmors suggests including the Wikipedia:Assignments for student editors essay.

Thoughts?--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:07, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

I very much agree with what you said with respect to WP:KISS, and I think that a number of the possible additional links are rendered unnecessary by the existing link to the course page. But I'll say +1 to Biosthmors's suggestion about Wikipedia:Assignments for student editors. --Tryptofish (talk) 15:42, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
I would really like to see the semester of the course included, but I don't have a clear understanding of how challenging it is to maintain that. I think it is very helpful to other editors to be able to determine quickly whether it is actively being edited now by a student or whether it was part of a project 5 years ago. As a college professor, if I see a page is currently being edited by a student, I am much more likely to add "[citation needed]" than to look up the citation and add it myself, for example. Biolprof (talk) 18:46, 9 February 2013 (UTC)
I've added a 'term' parameter, so now we can specify the term in the course page wizard template ( {{course page wizard | term = 2013 Q1, or whatever }} and that will appear in the code for students to copy and paste, and it will display in the banner. I'll add instructions for putting in term at the beginning of the course page wizard process, and add it to all the current classes.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:05, 11 February 2013 (UTC)

software updates for course pages

Assuming a normal deployment, a bunch of bug fixes as well as some significant changes to the EducationProgram extension are about to go live. The most noticeable is that the main page contents (until now, "Description") will move to the top of the page, with the Summary box and Students table beneath. This should make course pages feel a bit more familiar and wiki-like. If you notice any new bugs, please let me know. (We know of one regression, already fixed but not yet deployed, related to the ambassador profile pages.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 19:29, 11 February 2013 (UTC)

Here's a small bug - not sure if its new. Under Special:MyCourses, there's a record of me tagging an IP as a shared-IP from an educational institution. However, the link in the summary to the edit counter tool is to MyCourses, not to the IP address being tagged. Here's a screenshot: [23]. GabrielF (talk) 19:55, 11 February 2013 (UTC)
That must be an old one, since the new update hadn't deployed yet when you posted. It's not one we knew about, though. I'll file a bug report. Thanks!--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 20:32, 11 February 2013 (UTC)

A program at Boston College

Hi all. A note was left on my talk page about a project at BC which I don't think is coordinated with you all (not that it needs to be, of course). A course page is found here, User:Hakeleh/BI432 Spring 2013. I hope I can leave this all in your hands, to maybe drop a line to the instructor (and see also User:Pleusm). Thanks, Drmies (talk) 03:45, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

I am a campus ambassador for another course at BC (History of the American West). Please let me know if I can be of any assistance. GabrielF (talk) 04:00, 14 February 2013 (UTC)


Is there a way that one could hide their own edits at Special:MyCourses? Right now, it's rather anything interesting is covered up by my boatload of edits. —Theopolisme (talk) 21:02, 3 February 2013 (UTC)

I am glad someone brought this up because I was just thinking about it yesterday. I still think that there would be an issue with this because campus ambassadors also tend to make a "boatload of edits" sometimes as well. I think the best way to arrange things is to have all edits by each user in individual "tabs" that can be maximized. (they would obviously be arranged by which user has edited most recently) Just an idea. -- Cheers, Riley 21:27, 3 February 2013 (UTC)
The short-term plan is to only have Special:MyCourses show edits from students. I'll try to get that implemented soon, and deployed as soon as possible. As for more substantive changes, ideas are welcome at this point. Tabs as you describe would be useful for small classes, but it would be pretty terrible for classes with 50 or 150 students.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:25, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
Aha! I thought we'd already fixed it, and we had... I was just looking at a duplicate bug that hadn't been updated. The fix for this (along with a bunch of other fixes) should be part of the next general MediaWiki deployment on Monday.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 21:36, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
Awesome; eagerly awaiting! —Theopolisme (talk) 21:44, 5 February 2013 (UTC)
It seems that older edits just fall off the page and there is no way to go back and look at them? Is this correct? Biolprof (talk) 18:35, 9 February 2013 (UTC)
Correct. (On that note, we hope in the middle of this year to switch Special:MyCourses feeds to be integrated with the coming Echo notification features, and probably revisit what gets shown and maybe add options for showing longer or shorter edit feeds.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:47, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

Bug(?) in adding article to course page.

Each of my students have informed me that they tried to add their article to the course page but were unable to do so. By the time I received their message, the article had been successfully added to the page. If this delay is inherent in the way the page is set up and is not a bug, it would be helpful to add a statement to let students know. Also, I am planning multiple rounds of edits with different students editing some articles as a group effort and then switching to edit different articles later in the semester. The grid may be too rigid for my class, but I'm still thinking about what will work best. Thanks for all the support! Biolprof (talk) 19:04, 9 February 2013 (UTC)

Hi there; yes, there is currently a caching feature implemented all course pages; basically, one needs to either click the "You are viewing a cached version of this page, which can be up to 1 hour old. View latest." which appears at the top of the page whenever it is modified, or just wait an hour for the page to be updated. —Theopolisme (talk) 20:11, 9 February 2013 (UTC)
To add a bit... this is a bug I'm going to try to get fixed very quickly, as it's been confusing for many students. It should be a pretty simple fix (to have the cache be invalidated whenever an article is added), and I'll ask to have it deployed immediately as soon as it's ready.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:47, 11 February 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: ToniSant (talk)


Toni Sant


University of Hull

Course title and description

Interaction, Experience & Engagement. This is for second year undergraduate students on the following degrees: BA (Hons) Digital Arts, BA (Hons) Design for Digital Media, and BA (Hons) Digital Media Studies within the School of Arts & New Media. Wikipedia is being used as a platform for exploring information about Machinima and related uses of computer animation. The course tutor has worked with several groups of similar undergraduate students at this institution over the past 2-3 years; this work was most recently presented at the EduWiki conference in September 2012 at the University of Leicester (UK).

Assignment plan

The students are being assigned specific articles related to the subject (for the most part existing articles) and adding or fixing information within Wikipedia guidelines. See this page for further details. Within the same class, they will eventually also go on to make their own Machinima full of useful information gathered from exploring the articles about the subject on Wikipedia through interactive engagement.

Number of students


Start and end dates

1-28 February 2013 (Yes, the course has already started...I discovered this new arrangement rather late in the day, but I'm keen to embrace it sooner rather than later. --ToniSant (talk) 12:04, 10 February 2013 (UTC))

  • Endorse; looks good. I'll find an admin to assign you the 'instructor' user right so you can create the course; let me know if you have any questions! —Theopolisme (talk) 13:51, 10 February 2013 (UTC)
Thank you! --ToniSant (talk) 14:15, 10 February 2013 (UTC)

Sandbox disconnect

This tutorial video gives instructions for creating a "sandbox" page, with a lower-case "s", but {{WAP student}} links to "Sandbox" with a capital "S". They are not the same page, as you know, and this has caused some confusion among our students. Klortho (talk) 14:20, 13 February 2013 (UTC)

That's a common problem generally, caused by the somewhat-odd fact that the standard "Sandbox" link at the top of every page links to the lower-case version. I've amended the template so that it now links to /sandbox instead of /Sandbox. Yunshui  14:30, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
Hah, I never noticed that, about the link at the top. Thanks! Klortho (talk) 12:10, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

Question regarding course pages and contacting students within Wikipedia

Hello there. Many apologies if this is the wrong place to post this question. I'm finding the course page for my course incredibly useful, both as a way of gathering information all in one place for students, and as a means of keeping an eye on how students are progressing with their assignments. I was wondering though, whether there is a feature within the course page that might allow me to post the same message to all of the users enrolled on the course? If not, I have methods of contacting student groups outside wikipedia (of course!), but it might be helpful if I post my responses directly to them while they are working on their editing from within Wikipedia. I'd be very grateful for any thoughts - it's not urgent, but could perhaps be useful for other course instructors too. Thanks and warm wishes. DrJennyCee (talk) 16:20, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

This is a feature area—intra-class communication tools—that I'd like have as part of the roadmap for the course pages software. At this point, though, we don't have the kind of mass posting feature you're looking for. For now, for efficiently posting the same thing to all your students userpages, you might look into Auto-Wiki Browser. It'll take a bit of time to set up and learn to use it, but it makes that kind of thing pretty quick (if you use Windows).--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:35, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

IEG proposal re: educational outreach aimed at underrepresented fields of philosophy

I've just posted a proposal for an IEG on metawiki that would involve a few different kinds of focused outreach to academics in an effort to improve ENWP's coverage of topics that lay at the intersection of women and philosophy. If it's approved, I would be conducting the project along with Alex Madva and Katie Gasdaglis. I'm hopeful that if approved and carried out, it would go a long way towards addressing Wikipedia's under-representation of our targeted content, and would create a scalable model of educational outreach to underrepresented disciplines that can be used in other fields. A lot more details are available on the meta page. Kevin Gorman (talk) 02:18, 15 February 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Darren Stephens (talk)


Darren Stephens


University of Hull

Course title and description

Psychology of Internet Behaviour. This is for final year undergraduate students on the following degrees: BSc Web Design and Developemnt, BA (Hons) Digital Arts, BA (Hons) Design for Digital Media, and BA (Hons) Digital Media Studies within the School of Arts & New Media. In the past both ToniSant and I have used the wiki platform to introduce students to examples of internet behaviour, observed through participation in the wiki context.

Assignment plan

Like ToniSant's module above, the students are being assigned specific articles related to the subject (for the most part existing articles) and adding or fixing information within Wikipedia guidelines. The course ran in a similar vein last year and the staff involved (including me) plan to do something broadly similar this time around.See this page for further details.

Number of students

approx 30

Start and end dates

Jan 28-May 8 2013 (with practical work beginning mid Feb)

Endorse; looks good. Will find someone to give you the instructor user right so you can create the course. Hang tight, and welcome! —Theopolisme (talk) 15:54, 17 February 2013 (UTC)
Done. Dcoetzee 20:24, 17 February 2013 (UTC)

Massive Open Online Course(s) about Wikipedia

In my volunteer capacity, I've posted a draft Individual Engagement Grant proposal on Meta: meta:Grants:IEG/Wikipedia Massive Open Online Courses. If you're interested in the idea of a Wikipedia course on one of the new MOOC systems like Coursera or edX, please take a look and give feedback.--ragesoss (talk) 02:59, 12 February 2013 (UTC)

A quick update: it looks like we have a professor to head a Wikipedia course on Coursera, which could potentially have tens of thousands of students (although only a fraction of that would be active in the course, and the course itself would require only very basic Wikipedia editing—the main potential benefit being the fraction who choose to become active editors on their own). The public discussion period for the grant proposal runs to February 22, so if you are interested and want to support the proposal (or you think it's a terrible idea and want to have your voice heard), now's the time to weigh in.--ragesoss (talk) 02:41, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

Secondary sources

A new student group will edit pages on my watchlist, and they have started to present their plans. And everyday I find myself pleading to students (and their teacher) to use secondary sources instead of primary sources. Could you please help me make my text better so it gets really clear for the students why, and so I (and other editors) can just copy and glue it? This is what I wrote last time (and I am not very happy with this text):

All sources you mention are WP:primary sources, that is, results of single studies. In order to know if the results of these studies really represent encyclopedic information, you need to know if the results have been peer-reviewed and replicated. For that, you need WP:secondary sources, such as reviews (however, the introduction of a primary source can be a review-like, when the authors discuss numerous results of earlier studies). So please, reconsider your choice of journals and use secondary sources instead!

Thank you! Lova Falk talk 08:55, 17 February 2013 (UTC)

I wouldn't complicate things with the "(however, the introduction of a primary source can be a review-like, when the authors discuss numerous results of earlier studies)" part. Such sections in papers are weak secondary sources as they may only discuss earlier studies that support the author's research angle, or even just discuss earlier studies by the author -- they don't need to comprehensively and impartially document the consensus from the body of literature, which is what we're after. I think professional or advanced academic textbooks (i.e. not undergraduate introductory textbooks) are also worth mentioning -- these students should have access to a good library so let's make them use it rather than sit on their backsides surfing PubMed, etc. If they are medical articles, then take the opportunity to mention WP:MEDRS and WP:MEDMOS -- both are not only applicable guidelines but give advice on searching for and citing such works. Colin°Talk 10:45, 17 February 2013 (UTC)
Also, it is worth dropping a note on the talk page of the prof running those students' course. They do have access to literature that mentions these things and should be aware of these policies and guidelines. Appropriate sources for Wikipedia (which are quite different to appropriate sources for academic essays) should be factored into the marking scheme for student work. If they claim to be unaware of them, then we should escalate the issue because no official student program should be ignorant of this issue. Students doing their own original academic literature reviews of the primary research make Wikipedia worse. Colin°Talk 10:52, 17 February 2013 (UTC)
Thank you! So here comes my new text:
All sources you mention are WP:primary sources, that is, results of single studies. In order to know if the results of these studies really represent encyclopedic information, you need to know if the results have been peer-reviewed and replicated. For that, you need WP:secondary sources, such as reviews, or WP:tertiary sources, such as professional or advanced academic textbooks (i.e. not undergraduate introductory textbooks). So please, reconsider your choice of journals and use secondary sources instead!
I do usually contact the prof. One of them was aware of this issue, but he thought that telling the students to use primary sources was a good way of "pushing" Wikipedia into using more primary sources... Rolling eyes.GIF Lova Falk talk 12:23, 17 February 2013 (UTC)
I've just spotted, the "you need to know if the results have been peer-reviewed and replicated" bit, which is problematic. The original research paper was peer-reviewed in order to get published in a quality journal in the first place -- I know the "review" is another form of peer-review but this just complicates things. Also, many studies don't get replicated -- they may be quite sufficient in themselves or there simply isn't enough interest/money to conduct/publish any replication. The merits of secondary sources are manifold. Perhaps it is simpler to just state (per WP:PRIMARY) that "Wikipedia articles should be based on reliable, published secondary sources" and point them at WP:MEDRS or WP:OR as suitable. I despair about your prof telling students to use primary sources. This is, of course, standard academic practice. Wikipedia is rather odd in this regard as it is an artefact our anonymous/unverifiable and unrecruited editor base. It should be one of the first things to explain to any profs starting here: Wikipedia is not an academic paper or essay! -- Colin°Talk 13:42, 17 February 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Colin's advice to point to WP:MEDRS. It's often better to ask students to read existing policies and guidelines than to try to summarize them oneself. I'll also put in a plug for encouraging both the instructor and the students to read Wikipedia:Assignments for student editors‎. And, for that matter, you can follow the advice in that essay yourself, and treat student edits pretty much the same as edits by anyone else, so if the sourcing is poor, it can be tagged or reverted. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:25, 17 February 2013 (UTC)────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────

Very good point to omit the peer-reviewed part. Here comes the new text:

All sources you mention are WP:primary sources, that is, results of single studies. However, Wikipedia is not an academic paper or essay! Wikipedia articles should be based on reliable, published secondary sources (for instance, reviews) and, to a lesser extent, on tertiary sources (such as professional or advanced academic textbooks -i.e. not undergraduate introductory textbooks). WP:MEDRS describes how to identify reliable sources for medical information, which is a good guideline for many psychology articles as well. So please, reconsider your choice of journals and use secondary sources instead!

Please comment! Lova Falk talk 10:13, 19 February 2013 (UTC)

I wouldn't count professional academic textbooks as tertiary sources. From my limited experience, I'd say they were similar to reviews in that regard. I'm thinking about the ones that are huge multi-author works where each chapter is like a review written by one or a few authors. It is typically a much more comprehensive treatment of the whole subject than the accasional review that appears in a journal, though publishing cycles of new editions may mean some of these works are less up-to-date. University undergraduate textbooks are more like tertiary sources. They aren't bad from a WP:V point of view but may give the subject superficial treatment or lack rigorous explanations. So how about "Wikipedia articles should be based on reliable, published secondary sources (for instance, journal reviews and professional or advanced academic textbooks) and, to a lesser extent, on tertiary sources (such as undergraduate textbooks)." -- Colin°Talk 10:43, 19 February 2013 (UTC)
Thank you! I have already started to copy and paste the text to students. Here comes the latest version:
All sources you mention are WP:primary sources, that is, results of single studies. However, Wikipedia is not an academic paper or essay! Wikipedia articles should be based on reliable, published secondary sources (for instance, journal reviews and professional or advanced academic textbooks) and, to a lesser extent, on tertiary sources (such as undergraduate textbooks). WP:MEDRS describes how to identify reliable sources for medical information, which is a good guideline for many psychology articles as well. So please, reconsider your choice of journals and use secondary sources instead!
Lova Falk talk 10:54, 19 February 2013 (UTC)

Thank you Colin and Tryptofish for your help! Unfortunately, I have already had several occasions today for pasting this text (sometimes with minor adjustments). Lova Falk talk 19:07, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Phette23 (talk)

{{User:ClueBot III/ArchiveNow}}


Eric Phetteplace


Chesapeake College

Course title and description

"The Nature of Knowledge" is Chesapeake College's interdisciplinary capstone course that seeks to look at how different disciplines approach problem-solving. It is for sophomore students who have completed most of the other coursework for a two-year degree or in preparation of transferring to a 4-year institution. Our specific topic involves how knowledge changes when it becomes digitized and networked. As such, we're using Wikipedia as an example both of open and networked content. We're reading Good Faith Collaboration as a textbook. We will be focusing on editing pages related to our local area, the Eastern Shore of Maryland, including the page for Chesapeake College itself.

Assignment plan

Our students will be editing Wikipedia articles related to Eastern Shore of Maryland topics, including Chesapeake College and possibly Wye Mills, MD. We will allow students to suggest articles to work on but will approve them based on how capable we think the students are of contributing; a high quality article is tougher to add to, so we will be more likely to approve shorter or lower quality ones. We will focus on research, finding sources, adding citations, and expanding content. Specifically, most of the pages we're targeting are stubs or poorly written, so we'll be lengthening low-quality articles and hopefully providing more sources. We are not necessarily aiming for Feature Article quality. We want to encourage students to act as part of the Wikipedia community so we will ask them to participate in Talk Page discussions, too.

Number of students

We have about 20 students.

Start and end dates

Class began January 22nd and ends May 13th, 2013. Our students are just starting to practice editing Wikipedia now and most editing won't happen until the last month of class.

--Phette23 (talk) 23:14, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

Endorse As with the course below, Wikipedia and the student will definitely gain from this course. -- Cheers, Riley 15:53, 4 March 2013 (UTC)
Already done, by User:Pongr.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:58, 4 March 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Georgiasouthernlynn (talk)

{{User:ClueBot III/ArchiveNow}}


Lynn Marie Hamilton, Ph.D.


University of Pikeville

Course title and description

Composition 11--a first-year, undergraduate course in academic writing that emphasizes research. The Wikipedia assignment will require students to contribute 1000 words to Wikipedia, whether in the form of a new article or development of a stub article. At GSU, Tony Yadro was my campus ambassador, but I would like to be assigned two or more on-line ambassadors.

Assignment plan

The Wikipedia assignment will require students to contribute 1000 words to Wikipedia, whether in the form of a new article or development of a stub article. Because this is a writing course, students will be encouraged to pick a topic that represents a specific area of their interest. The writing they do must be carefully researched and documented (of course), attentive to the demands of the audience which could also be called compliance with Wikipedia policies, and compliant with the Wikipedia interface. Because one of the biggest challenges of this assignment has been, in my experience, finding the right topic, some time will be devoted to helping students find a topic that they are interested in and which also has sufficient research available and meets Wikipedia guidelines.

Number of students


Start and end dates

The class started in January and goes to May 20.

--Georgiasouthernlynn (talk) 15:24, 4 March 2013 (UTC)

  • Endorse This would be a great course to have and would benefit both the students and Wikipedia. -- Cheers, Riley 15:39, 4 March 2013 (UTC)
 Done--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:47, 4 March 2013 (UTC)

Assignment details

Hey Lynn! I have a question. If, for example, your class finds a 2000 word article that contains poorly written, unsourced, and unencylopedic prose, would you please also allow your students to completely rewrite the article with brand new prose, giving readers a well-sourced, fresh, and encyclopedic entry of 1000 words? Your students can do much more than simply build on top of what already exists. They can also copy edit, remove unnecessary text, and rewrite content to improve the encyclopedia. As you can see at Wikipedia:Backlog#Status, there are many articles already tagged for improvement! I'll see if I can help you find articles for your assignment. Would you like that kind of assistance? Biosthmors (talk) 19:00, 4 March 2013 (UTC)

Hello Biosthmors,

The work you describe sounds like it would be a good project. Could you link me to about twenty articles that are not too specialized that students could edit as you suggest? And, if possible, it would be really helpful if they could be linked to my talk page. I find it difficult to recover and work with threads of conversation like this one. For instance, I just tried to give you my email, and it got blocked.--Georgiasouthernlynn (talk) 15:29, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Why are Education Program pages not normal Wikipedia pages

The page Education Program:Davidson College/Cognitive Psychology (2013 Q1) doesn't have either Edit or View Source tabs and the history doesn't show the diffs. Therefore if the prof or their ambassador edit the page, I can't see what or when they made the change. This can be a problem if I comment on the course details (such as assignments being set the students) and then later I look and the text has changed. I can't see when or how it changed. Why do these pages work this way. I can understand protecting them in some way but there seems no good reason to hide the source or diffs -- it doesn't help transparency. Colin°Talk 12:41, 18 February 2013 (UTC)

It's because the pages contain a combination of wiki text and structured data fields, and MediaWiki doesn't know how to make diffs or display the source outside of the custom course page edit mode, until the extension gets recoded to use the "ContentHandler" features that have been developed for Wikidata. (See this bug for related issues.) The plan is to do that work after the first wave of classes is over, as is it a significant coding project.
Currently, admins and anyone with instructor or campus/online volunteer user rights can Edit course pages, and that's the only way to view the source at this point. The {{course page wizard}} that many courses use (and which is now preloaded for new courses, so most from here on out should use it) has a hack-y workaround for these issues: all the actual course page content (aside from the Summary and Students parts) is actually stored on Talk subpages (which are normal wiki pages), and there are edit links from within the page that take you to them. The class you're looking at doesn't use the wizard, though, so there's no way to see diffs. However, if you watchlist the course (by adding the talk page to your watchlist), then changes will show up in your watchlist so that you know when changes were made. The history tab has the same info of times and edit summaries.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:23, 18 February 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. The history tab is pretty meaningless if the prof doesn't use edit summaries. I assume admins can't see diffs either -- just the current edit text. Well the sooner this gets fixed the better. Colin°Talk 19:33, 20 February 2013 (UTC)
I assume admins can't see diffs either - Yes.
the sooner this gets fixed the better - Yes.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 19:36, 20 February 2013 (UTC)
And this also means Special:Log/course would show diff's, right? At this point if a bunch of students edit their course page and alter their own assignment, would anyone be able to pinpoint who did that? Biosthmors (talk) 20:45, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure how it will be reorganized; it may be that changes show up as edits rather than log entries. In any cases, yes, there will be diffs. (Note that students cannot edit course pages, only those with the extension-specific user rights or admins can. I think we'll also want to change it so that the main text area of course pages is editable by anyone, but that will also require switching to ContentHandler first, so we wouldn't do that until we had working diffs.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 20:56, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
Good to know thanks again. Biosthmors (talk) 21:20, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

Priorities: quality and quantity

I am under the impression that our educational material (such as Wikipedia:Training/For students/Choosing articles 3) emphasizes quantity of new prose to the detriment of quality improvement (in terms of the opportunity cost). Quality could be improved by reducing word count through copy-editing and changing prose by updating sources when needed. For example, one of my best contributions last year was to review malaria (see Talk:Malaria/GA2). As you can see under the collapsed section "some addressed comments", there was a lot we did to improve the article. While it stayed a "B-Class" before and after (I was still finding problems with WP:V even at the end of the review), I think it went from a low-quality B-Class article to a high-quality B-Class article. Shouldn't students and professors be encouraged to engage on the talk pages of articles like this to improve important subjects? Along those lines, I am wary of any assignment that asks students to create new articles, unless they have been agreed upon by knowledgeable Wikipedians. Again, I feel this is a quantity over quality incentive we have currently baked into the system for ourselves. Thoughts? Biosthmors (talk) 19:05, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

Some classes definitely edit talk pages, add sources, and contribute a very low quantity of content. I think we have to remember that using Wikipedia in the classroom will never be a one-size-fits-all situation, which is true of all classroom assignments. The thing is, a lot of the student learning experiences (which are typically the main reason professors want their students to edit Wikipedia in the first place) come when they do a significant amount of research on one topic to add to that relevant article (or create a new one). I know it can seem overwhelming for students to create new articles, but one thing I try to keep in mind is that these are new editors, just as the articles are new articles (or stubs). A lot of Wikipedia articles have started off in a state that took some shaping over time to become significantly better, but we have to start somewhere when trying to fill in those gaps. And a lot of the articles students are adding are seriously really good, even when they lack some Wikipedia norms.
The problem is that pages such as this one also strongly give that impression. It seems to be Frank Schulenberg's project in particular to provide a "leaderboard" or "student ranking" judged merely in terms of quantity of characters/bytes added to the Encyclopedia. There was a discussion of this here, though (as is his wont) Frank didn't contribute. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 05:33, 23 February 2013 (UTC)
Also, though the student trainings are geared to help students out according to whatever their assignment may be, the professor trainings and other materials do emphasize expanding articles rather than creating a new article. In regards to new articles being agreed upon by knowledgeable Wikipedians: it's hard to imagine how that would ever scale to all the students editing Wikipedia, but, more importantly, I think that's one of the best things classes can contribute to Wikipedia—even if a professor does not take the time to edit her/himself, s/he can still identify those gaps in scholarship, as the content expert, and encourage students to edit accordingly. Just some thoughts. PS So sorry I got your username wrong last week! I see it so often that it was very silly of me. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 21:49, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply. I also think we send the message of: "don't even think about editing developed articles" in the educational training materials. I think this sends the wrong message to new editors. We have some medical articles up to featured status, but they could probably all be improved with updated sources (see WP:MEDDATE). Why shouldn't students be encouraged to help make decent articles great again? Medicine, like any science-based field, undergoes continual evolution. Articles in evolving fields shouldn't ever be considered "finished" even if they become featured. Biosthmors (talk) 22:27, 22 February 2013 (UTC)
For example, take a look at the counterproductive "stub"/new article factory that appears to be causing us problems here. Biosthmors (talk) 19:04, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
Why shouldn't students instead be encouraged to take an important C-Class topic and bring it up to B-Class? Or to fix up a low-quality B-class subject to a high-quality B-Class article? Those seem like the assignments Wikipedia needs. Biosthmors (talk) 19:07, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

New class project

New user Psyc-mmills (talk · contribs) has started producing articles labelled:

"NOTE: This is a stub, and it will be expanded as a university class project until May 10, 2013 under the auspices of the Association for Psychological Science Wikipedia Initiative."

I am not sure whether this is the instructor or just the first student out of the starting gate. I and others have given advice on the user talk page, including pointing to WP:SUP, but I don't know what should be done to plug this class into your new system. JohnCD (talk) 21:20, 25 February 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for posting here. For that matter, has anyone been in correspondence with the Association for Psychological Science or the Society of Neuroscience to help them understand Wikipeda editing? I wonder if there are internal instructions those groups use to tell others how edit Wikipedia that do not match how Wikipedia tells people how to edit. Biosthmors (talk) 18:27, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
I can answer with regard to the Society of Neuroscience. A couple of years ago, the Society leadership actually reached out to Wikipedia for exactly that sort of thing, and a panel of editors, including some of us from WP:WikiProject Neuroscience, presented a symposium about editing and how to (and how not to) do it, at the Society's annual meeting. The symposium was attended by a few hundred people, although far fewer followed up by becoming registered editors. The WikiProject project page has a conspicuous link to a sub-page that we created to help new editors from the Society, and there's a user-box that I monitor (through a category), so whenever anyone puts the user-box on their user-page, I reach out to them and offer help getting started. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:38, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
There has been extensive feedback on the instructor's (Psyc-mmills') talk page, but as of yet, they don't seem to be adapting to how to edit Wikipedia. Biosthmors (talk) 19:13, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
And please point to WP:Assignments for student editors (also WP:AFSE, WP:A4SE, and WP:Student assignments), instead. Thanks! Biosthmors (talk) 19:15, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

Online Ambassador applications

There are two open Online Ambassador applications at Wikipedia talk:Online Ambassadors that could use some input (for TucsonDavid and Nerdfighter). I think it would make sense to start having those applications posted here (like we've been doing with instructor rights requests), in order to further consolidate the education sprawl and make sure applicants get feedback.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:09, 25 February 2013 (UTC)

Agree that here is probably a better place for the applications. The OA talk is very low vis. The Interior (Talk) 21:56, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
Here is definitely better, I also say. Biosthmors (talk) 18:21, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
I've made the change. The Interior (Talk) 05:38, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
Thanks! Biosthmors (talk) 05:25, 28 February 2013 (UTC)


Why are there no diffs when editors edit course pages? Can we add this to the software? Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 01:51, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

See #Why are Education Program pages not normal Wikipedia pages above.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 01:57, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
Ah, thank you, I hadn't seen that. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 07:29, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

Harvard SOC 25 editing

After nominating Rational and Natural Theories of Management‎ for deletion for being an essay, I decided to dig into the edit history and started to suspect sockpuppetry, as different users would insert large chunks of text into the vaguely defined. More searches led me to Wikipedia talk:Articles for creation/Macy's Management Practicses and Wikipedia talk:Articles for creation/Procter & Gamble Management Practices, and I started to get the 'Management' theme. Other articles of interest included IDEO and Inequality in the workplace. Through the works cited and a stray IP address, I started to connect the edits to Harvard University. Finally, I discovered this edit with the summary "Lenovo Management Practices for SOC 25 Assignment 2". Sociology 25: Sociology of Organizations is an introductory course taught by Frank Dobbin last Fall, although it doesn't look like he's teaching the course this semester. FallingGravity (talk) 09:45, 26 February 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for posting here. For starters, I see Rational and Natural Theories of Management has a red link to the AfD discussion. Biosthmors (talk) 18:24, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
The link is red, but the page is real. FallingGravity (talk) 18:30, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
Indeed it is. Odd. Biosthmors (talk) 18:36, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
Those links are often red at first, but work. If you clear your cache, it will turn blue. JohnCD (talk) 23:26, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
I suspect that Accounting’s Role in the Late 2000’s Financial Crisis (Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Accounting’s Role in the Late 2000’s Financial Crisis) may also be related. - Smerdis of Tlön - killing the human spirit since 2003! 17:28, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

Assignment details

Welcome Lynn! (Whose assignment was archived here.) I have a question. If, for example, your class finds a 2000 word article that contains poorly written, unsourced, and unencylopedic prose, would you please also allow your students to completely rewrite the article with brand new prose, giving readers a well-sourced, fresh, and encyclopedic entry of 1000 words? Your students can do much more than simply build on top of what already exists. They can also copy edit, remove unnecessary text, and rewrite content to improve the encyclopedia. As you can see at Wikipedia:Backlog#Status, there are many articles already tagged for improvement! I'll see if I can help you find articles for your assignment. Would you like that kind of assistance? Biosthmors (talk) 19:46, 4 March 2013 (UTC)

English class appears to be doing Wikipedia assignment

Several distinct users have been creating very similar articles about individual acts of Shakespeare plays, see e.g.:

Some suspect socking but based on the topics I think it's more likely this is a class assignment that we don't know anything about. I've messaged all the students asking them to inform their teacher that this assignment isn't appropriate and to contact me, but they've been nonresponsive so far. Dcoetzee 01:48, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Wikipedia talk:Training

FYI, Sage has outlined a plan at Wikipedia talk:Training there to update the trainings, and there is a possibility the trainings will be translated. I would like to help with improving the trainings and education material also. Anyone else? Biosthmors (talk) 21:29, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

A translation to Portuguese is already underway. Others may (or may not) be done later on. Also, the plan I posted is my first draft or a work plan for myself, which I haven't yet talked about with the higher-ups; the Global Education Program team is in the midst of this transition from running a few individual programs to running no programs directly but providing support for the broad swath of autonomous education programs in different languages and countries, so we're trying to make sure most of what I'm doing is relevant beyond just
In any case, help improving the trainings is very welcome.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:59, 25 February 2013 (UTC)
Good to know, thanks. I suppose there might be some "synergy" between wp:training and training for the cool looking m:Grants:IEG/Wikipedia Massive Open Online Courses? Biosthmors (talk) 18:20, 26 February 2013 (UTC)
A little, perhaps. Some of the videos may have a place in the training, either as replacements or additions (if that grant gets funded and the MOOC project goes foward.) Wikimedia UK is also working on a "Virtual Learning Environment]" based in Moodle, which I haven't had time to explore yet but which may have some content that could improve these trainings.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:41, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
Also, I've never spent the time to know which pages I can edit of the trainings. Could there be a list of each individual training page listed somewhere if the names are disparate? Or if they are organized by numbers at the end, then maybe we could just link each page #1? This way we can more effectively harness people's ability to edit. Biosthmors (talk) 19:44, 4 March 2013 (UTC)
Is this the kind of thing you're looking for: Category:Wikipedia_training? All the pages are editable. The actual training content is in the "core" subpages that are linked from the category page. (Much of it is shared across multiple training.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:41, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Looking for Online Ambassador for Environmental Law class

See Education_Program:University_of_San_Francisco/Environmental_Law_(Spring_2013). Course description: "This is the second part of a two part course examining the basic legal setting for the protection and management of the environment. After learning the major federal statutes and constitutional principles of Environmental Law this course will explore species protection, toxic risk legislation, citizen actions, international law and emerging issues in the field. It discusses how environmental law is made and applied. The course also includes material on economic analysis, scientific and legal causation and expert testimony." Please feel free to just add yourself if interested using the "Become an Online Ambassador" button in the table at the bottom. Thanks! Dcoetzee 01:51, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

I see that Cullen has already volunteered, and I'm adding myself to the list! Calliopejen1 (talk) 21:30, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

Composition class looking for an OA

Hi, all!

Professor Lynn Hamilton is looking for an Online Ambassador for her Composition class. She has participated in the Education Program for a few semesters but is now at a new university (University of Pikeville) in Kentucky, where there are no trained Campus Ambassadors. She is going to have her students enroll on the Course Page as soon as the assignment starts, so perhaps an Online Ambassador particularly interested in writing (as this is a comp class and, I believe, the students can choose their article topic0 is available to support them. Please sign on if you are! Thanks, guys! JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 18:27, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

Regional ambassador user rights

I applied, interviewed, and was accepted as a outreach:Regional Ambassadors/Current. I suppose someone (or me) should add myself to that list. (Is it otherwise updated, by the way?) From what Jami told me I think I'm more of an ambassador at large, though I am based in Atlanta if anything arises there. I do need the WP:Course coordinator right to grant rights to campus ambassadors, when that time comes. I'm currently a course campus volunteer and a course online volunteer. Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 18:24, 20 February 2013 (UTC)

 Done, by Ohanaunited. Feel free to add yourself to the list. As I suggested on the talk page over on Outreach, in my opinion it would make sense to move the Regional Ambassador stuff over to Wikipedia.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 19:40, 20 February 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. I can view source but not edit that page, just the talk page. I agree it makes sense to have it here. Biosthmors (talk) 22:09, 21 February 2013 (UTC)
At Wikipedia:Regional Ambassadors. Biosthmors (talk) 21:21, 22 February 2013 (UTC)

Course coordinator user right

Just a little clarification... the user right referred to above is actually the Course coordinator right, which is not limited to Regional Ambassadors (although no one but Regional Ambassadors plus me and Jami have it right now, I think). If anyone else who isn't an admin (in which case, the coordinator right is superfluous) would like to help distribute the instructor right to users who request it (and do the same for new ambassadors / class volunteers), let's work out a procedure for requesting it. It could be as simple as posting a request on this page, and if there's consensus that the user is sufficiently clueful, that's it.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:25, 25 February 2013 (UTC)

Well that's a system that makes sense to me, esp. since we'll be doing Online Ambassador applications here now. Biosthmors (talk) 05:25, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

Campus ambassador

Since we've started doing Online Ambassador applications here, might we also transition into doing at least part of a Campus Ambassador application here too? Biosthmors (talk) 20:36, 10 March 2013 (UTC)

I've sort-of kind-of moved in this direction with the ambassador training, which now includes the same rights request step as the educators training. Another thing to note is that we'll be renaming everything in the EP extension to use generic terms for the roles (online volunteer, campus volunteer) so that it will be more flexible for classes that aren't working formally with Ambassadors. Anyhow, the current Campus Ambassador onboarding process is handled by the Regional Ambassadors (I think the current procedure is something like this: interview CA applicants one-on-one before sending them to the training).--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:29, 11 March 2013 (UTC)

Class assignment seeming to go awry

Some of you guys might want to check in on Wikipedia:Sockpuppet investigations/Theaterproject2013, which was filed against several users. I thought—and a couple checkusers agreed with me—that this is a class project and not socking. Maybe you could get in touch with the professor and steer them in the right direction? Thanks! Reaper Eternal (talk) 12:02, 10 March 2013 (UTC)

This is being covered in an above section. FallingGravity (talk) 08:36, 11 March 2013 (UTC)

Students at University of Pikeville unable to create accounts


My students in the global education program are not being allowed to create accounts. The problem appears to be that the entire university uses a single IP address. Who knew? We really, really cannot afford to create 55 accounts at the rate of only six per day--as I have been informed we will be required to do. That would set us hopelessly behind on the project timeline. Please help. My courses are duly registered with the global education program and everything. Georgiasouthernlynn (talk) 18:36, 11 March 2013 (UTC)

Given account creator rights to the instructor to bypass this limitation. OhanaUnitedTalk page 20:25, 11 March 2013 (UTC)

Online Ambassador application: Stuartyeates


Stuartyeates (talk · contribs)

  1. Why do you want to be a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    Mainly to avoid the repeat of a situation which occurred previously where a group spend a lot of time swimming against the current when they could have done much better with a little help.
  2. In three sentences or less, summarize your involvement with Wikimedia projects.
    Long time member of Wikipedia:WikiProject New Zealand. 30k edits. 2228 new articles and many more new redirects.
  3. Please indicate a few articles to which you have made significant content contributions. (e.g. DYK, GA, FA, major revisions/expansions/copyedits).
  4. How have you been involved with welcoming and helping new users on Wikipedia?
  5. What do you see as the most important ways we could welcome newcomers or help new users become active contributors?
    By giving them early feedback
  6. Have you had major conflicts with other editors? Blocks or bans? Involvement in arbitration? Feel free to offer context, if necessary.
    My only really serious conflict is documented at Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Offender9000; currently I just avoid the other party
  7. How often do you edit Wikipedia and check in on ongoing discussions? Will you be available regularly for at least two hours per week, in your role as a mentor?
    Daily. Yes.
  8. How would you make sure your students were not violating copyright laws?
    Talk to them about it; compare article text to source text; google sentences for matches.
  9. If one of your students had an issue with copyright violation how would you resolve it?
    Engage with the student in the first instance. If they're not willing to promptly revert their edits / remove the problematic material, do it for them.
  10. In your _own_ words describe what copyright violation is.
    Direct copying or close paraphrasing of a source without copyright clearance.
  11. What else should we know about you that is relevant to being a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    I'm primarily interested in mentoring .nz courses or courses that keep the southern-hemisphere academic year.


(Two endorsements are needed for online ambassador approval.)

  • Yes. —Theopolisme (talk) 14:35, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
  • Endorse Stuartyeates knows his way around. Good to have a New Zealander on board, haven't run across any NZ courses yet, but they may be out there. The Interior (Talk) 02:52, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Class page under the guise of a WikiProject

Hey guys. I've been away for a few months, so I'm not up-to-date on what's going on with the education program(s). But I just stumbled across Wikipedia:WikiProject Cricket and Englishness and I'm wondering if someone who is could take a look. It appears to be a page for a university class, but I'm pretty sure they shouldn't be located in WP space (and shouldn't be WikiProjects either)? Hope this is the right noticeboard, if not please do point me elsewhere. Cheers, Jenks24 (talk) 16:54, 7 March 2013 (UTC)

This is the right place. A lot of class projects have been set up as WikiProjects before, including some of the most successful (like MMM). However, I'd encourage them to use our new course page system instead, which results in a course page like Education Program:Example University/Example Course (2013 Q1).--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:01, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the quick response. I'll drop a note about the new system to the guy who created the page tomorrow if someone else hasn't done so by then. Cheers, Jenks24 (talk) 17:09, 7 March 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the question. This project is short-term and small in scope. I don't believe it should be included as an entire course because most of the apparatus associated with the formal education program. This project is more of an alternative assignment to writing a research paper for a particular unit in a university course, but it isn't a full-fledged course per se. My understanding is that the education program is intended for entire courses, not targeted side projects within a traditional offline course. Is that accurate?--Oline73 (talk) 13:45, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
The US and Canada Education Programs is mainly geared toward larger-scale projects. But we have now software features for organizing class assignments (see Wikipedia:Course pages) which can be used by any class, whether or not they are part of the US and Canada Education Programs. So if you think it'd be useful to organize your project with one of these semi-automated course pages, I encourage you to do so.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:54, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Wikipedia:WikiProject Cricket and Englishness

This, currently featuring at WP:ANI is in fact a uni course project that has set itself up as a normal Wikiproject. Can someone talk to them? Johnbod (talk) 15:35, 12 March 2013 (UTC)

What about? I don't see what's wrong with setting up a course as a Wikiproject. This is precisely what I did with (for instance) WP:MMM. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:16, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
That was a long time ago; now I don't think that's encouraged. Johnbod (talk) 18:00, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
It may not be encouraged, but I see no reason why it should be discouraged. (Indeed, I've long worried that the WMF's Education Program, outsourced or no, implies that there is only one way to do things on Wikipedia. Which would be rather unhelpful.) --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 18:15, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
For my part, I'll say that we're trying to make the course pages extension something that is useful and used for all sorts of classes, whether they are working with a formal Education Program or not. But I agree with Jbmurray that it's not, should not be, and should not be implied to be the only way to do things. The technical infrastructure (bots and so forth) and social identity of WikiProjects can be a good fit for some educational projects.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:40, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
Johnbod is there an issue with the project? As jbmurray indicated, this seems like an acceptable way to organize students for this project. On a related note, unfortunately some of our students have had to deal with condescending comments that violate the policy I read here: Wikipedia:Please do not bite the newcomers and here: Wikipedia:Assume_good_faith. These are college students, so they can deal with it, but I'm not sure they should have to. The students have responded with class, but we're concerned that some editors a) viewed their contributions as "vandalism", see: history and made comments describing the student contributions as "garbage" and "nonsensical" (student used verifiable, reliable source). See more of the discussion here: [24]. If something needs to be done to categorize our project officially as a university project, please let me know. Otherwise, because this is a short-term project, we are happy to leave things as is for now. Thanks. Oline73 (talk) 17:52, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:Assignments for student editors & other pages linked from there, and the ANI thread. I haven't looked at any of the articles, & unlike most here am barely involved with the education programme, but yes there are issues. Johnbod (talk) 18:05, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
What issues there may be seem to me (and I have read the articles and followed the discussion) mostly if not entirely with rather protective established editors who are too busy biting the newcomers to follow anything like the proper processes. Indeed, the ANI thread is rather a good example of that. WP:Boomerang comes to mind. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 18:15, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
The problem I see is that the current title makes it appear as if it is a formal subproject or section of WP:CRICKET. Until the EDUCATION namespace becomes commonplace, I think pages like this should be in the teacher/leacturer/project leader's userspace. Moving it could be a nice side project for the class, learning about redirects etc. If a WikiProject is asked to and WANTS to become involved with a class project, then we could set it up as a subpage or task force but not as with a psuedo project name. The-Pope (talk) 16:25, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
Reading but the first paragraph of Wikipedia:WikiProject_Cricket_and_Englishness makes it quite clear what this is. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 16:32, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
No it doesn't say anything about why they have used the term "WikiProject Cricket" in their title, and as the first two words. As far as I can see, the project is about Wikipedia, Cricket and Englishness (sic). It is misleading to have WikiProject Cricket in the title and it should be removed. Do I have to start up a formal WP:RM or will common sense prevail? The-Pope (talk) 16:38, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
I do hope common sense will prevail. But if not, feel free to start up a formal process. Goodness, people have already run to ANI about this, so let the madness continue... --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 16:42, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
All the Wikiproject page says definition-wise is that,"[a] WikiProject is a group of editors that want to work together as a team to improve Wikipedia." It's not going to break anything if the class uses that particular setup. I don't see what's the big deal here. The Interior (Talk) 16:47, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
The-Pope The title of the project is "Cricket and Englishness" which is what the project is about. The introduction states that it is a 2 week project "addressing the cultural history of cricket... the relationship between cricket and empire...and changing notions of Englishness..." I don't see how this can misconstrued. --Oline73 (talk) 16:57, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
Well it was misconstrued by about half a dozen members of WP:CRIC. So I've simply removed the word WikiProject from the page name and it now matches what you have just said the class name is. I doubt most of the class will even notice the change. The-Pope (talk) 17:41, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
And I've been bold, too. Hope the new name satisfies the misconstruers! --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:46, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

ANI discussion

With some reluctance, I have taken some of the issues raised here to ANI. Anyone is invited to comment there. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 20:17, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Adding and removing students as reviewers

Could the option for professors to add and remove students as reviewers be added to the course extension? Biosthmors (talk) 19:25, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Perhaps. Care to try your hand at filing a bug on bugzilla to request that feature? Here's the link.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 18:06, 14 March 2013 (UTC)
I should become more experienced with bugzilla. Maybe in a bit! Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 17:44, 15 March 2013 (UTC)

Online Ambassador application: Jmajeremy


Jmajeremy (talk · contribs)

  1. Why do you want to be a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    I am very fond of the Wikimedia movement, and I feel it is important to help get students involved. For a long time there has been a tenuous relationship between Wikipedia and classrooms in that many teachers don't feel it should every be consulted for academic purposes. I would like to be a part of changing that perception and showing people how Wikipedia can be a great academic tool.
  2. In three sentences or less, summarize your involvement with Wikimedia projects.
    I have been an occasional contributor to Wikipedia since 2006. I have moved around to various different areas of work such as Articles for Creation, Articles for Deletion, New Pages Patrol, Recent Changes Patrol, Files for Upload, and various other areas. I am currently most involved with the Request an Account (ACC) team. In short, my activities are fairly wikignomish.
  3. Please indicate a few articles to which you have made significant content contributions. (e.g. DYK, GA, FA, major revisions/expansions/copyedits).
    As stated before, much of my work has been as a wikignome. That said, the areas where I have contributed the most in terms of content are related to cultural and geographical topics related to Montreal, Quebec and Canada. For example, I created the page Lakeside Academy and have contributed to Dawson College, Via Rail, and Quebec student protests 2012. I am not involved in huge changes to pages, but I keep things on my watch list about which I am particularly knowledgeable, and double-check the validity of new information.
  4. How have you been involved with welcoming and helping new users on Wikipedia?
    I have long considered myself part of the "welcoming committee" in that I often leave warm welcome messages for new users. In a concrete sense, I have helped many new users get involved in Wikipedia through my work at Articles for Creation and Request an Account.
  5. What do you see as the most important ways we could welcome newcomers or help new users become active contributors?
    I think the best way to turn a first-time user into a regular editor is to make them feel like their contribution is truly valued. In this sense I am in favour of any policies relating to "not biting newcomers." Even if a new user makes an nonconstructive edit in good faith, there are ways we can tell them without making them feel like they are being "scolded" and still feel like their contributions are valued.
  6. Have you had major conflicts with other editors? Blocks or bans? Involvement in arbitration? Feel free to offer context, if necessary.
    No. On Wikipedia as in life, I am easy-going and avoid conflict.
  7. How often do you edit Wikipedia and check in on ongoing discussions? Will you be available regularly for at least two hours per week, in your role as a mentor?
    Despite sometimes going extended periods of time without editing, I almost always check my talk page on a daily basis, and I make myself accessible via e-mail for urgent communications (which reach me immediately on my phone). I can devote 2+ hours per week to this role.
  8. How would you make sure your students were not violating copyright laws?
    Having participated in areas of the site that look for copyright violations, I have become fairly adept at spotting them. My approach would be to educate students on why it's important to respect copyrights and how to avoid infringing on them, even by accident.
  9. If one of your students had an issue with copyright violation how would you resolve it?
    If I noticed a violation, I would assume good faith whenever possible and give the student a chance to fix it by him/herself if feasible. If the student couldn't be contacted immediately, I would remove the content and explain to them why I had to. If they appeared to make repeated mistakes or appeared to be disregarding the the copyright policies, I might have to warm/report them in the normal process and/or notify their teacher where appropriate.
  10. In your _own_ words describe what copyright violation is.
    Copyright violation can come in a couple of forms on Wikipedia. In text, it is when you insert text into a Wikipedia article that has been copied from another source without placing it in quotation marks and indicating where it was obtained from. Even at that, direct quotes should be used sparingly; only in cases where it would be impossible to paraphrase. Paraphrasing could also be considered a copyright violation if the source of the information is not cited. The second type of copyright violation is with regards to media (images, videos, etc.). If a file is released under a free license then it still must be attributed to its creator, and if a file is non-free then there are very strict criteria for its inclusion in Wikipedia.
  11. What else should we know about you that is relevant to being a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    Since I may not have as much experience in pure content creation/development as some might like, I would be perfectly happy to start out as an "ambassador-in-training" (although I would also be willing to be a full ambassador as the need may be).


(Two endorsements are needed for online ambassador approval.)

Endorse. Not a whole lot of article work, but the user has been around a while and seems to have a good grasp of content policies. Was impressed by the advice given here to a student assignment: [25]. The Interior (Talk) 01:25, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
Additional question. Thank you for all your contributions. You're welcoming and helpful; I like it. As an ambassador, one represents the class to interested Wikipedians and one represents the Wikipedia community to the class. What if you saw multiple editors complaining somewhere that the classroom you were an ambassador for was publishing poor-quality content that was, at times, reducing the quality of Wikipedia? How would you handle the situation? Biosthmors (talk) 17:59, 15 March 2013 (UTC)
I would explain to the complaining editors that they are students just learning to use Wikipedia, so we shouldn't be too hard on them. I would also explain to the class that there had been some complaints, and provide some suggestions for avoiding more complaints. For example, they could start articles as drafts in their user space and only move them over the article space once they were high enough quality to be encyclopedic, and they could look at some of the guidelines/policies relevant to the type of content they're creating. —JmaJeremy 03:47, 16 March 2013 (UTC)
Another question. Right now, an article you created, Lakeside Academy, says, "The staff work very closely together to make sure the students time at Lakeside Academy is as informative, interesting and successful as possible. The staff have an afternoon a month to meet and plan. The opportunities the students have here at Lakeside Academy are amazing. Over the last 3 years the school has developed its music program, with huge success." How would you characterize this content, in terms of quality? Biosthmors (talk) 18:02, 15 March 2013 (UTC)
That paragraph seems somewhat problematic as it lacks neutrality; I might even call it wikipuffery. Describing things as "interesting and successful," "amazing" and a "huge success" are subjective opinions. In other words, it reads more like a promotional brochure for the school than as a factual article. The last sentence uses a relative time ("3 years") which is also a problem because times in an encyclopedia should always be absolute (i.e. "since 2010"). It would be more appropriate to say something like "Lakeside Academy gives staff one afternoon per month to meet and plan in an attempt to improve services offered to students. / Since 2010 the school has greatly expanded their music program."
I'm quite certain I've seen media coverage about their revitalized music program, so I could probably add a reference to this last sentence. Without a reference it's not really appropriate to make that type of statement. I suspect this portion of the article was written by an employee at the school or by an enthusiastic student. Upon reading the rest of the article I've noticed some other similar problems that need to be addressed; parts of it read a lot like news or editorial content. —JmaJeremy 03:47, 16 March 2013 (UTC)

heads up about a large class: The Rhetoric of Digital and Interactive Media Environments

This class is the second iteration of a previous The Rhetoric of Digital and Interactive Media Environments class. It's not an official Education Program class (although it does have Campus Ambassadors supporting it), but I wanted to highlight it as, from what I understand, it may have around 400 students.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:45, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

fortunately, it realistically asks only for article improvements ("writing or re-writing at least one section in the body of the chosen article or expanding upon a stub") not new articles. DGG ( talk ) 00:56, 16 March 2013 (UTC)

Peer review assignments?

Why not encourage assignments where students open peer reviews on important topics? They could begin the peer review by saying,

I am opening this peer review for [[Course page|this assignment]], and my classmates will be commenting here. How well I address peer review comments, and how much I improve the article will be judged to help determine my grade. I would like to try to reach X-Class by the end of the review, thanks.

This way, I think we'd have a clear platform to encourage particpation, collaboration, and quality improvements where they are desired, instead of encouraging assignments that create unnecessary articles or dump large quantitites of poor-quality and unneccessary prose on obscure topics. Biosthmors (talk) 03:31, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

Thoughts? Biosthmors (talk) 20:33, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
I think this has to be considered on a case-by-case basis. I assume you're talking about students putting articles up for peer review through the existing system? Some classes would do a fine job of this; others I've worked with would just make additional work for regular editors without any guarantee of a clear benefit. Another problem is that PR frequently generates few or no comments, which means that the students would have no basis for subsequent work. I've also seen students attempting to provide peer review feedback to each other, and that's usually very poor quality -- they need significant experience with Wikipedia editing before they know what feedback to provide. Often you just see "You're doing a great job with this article, Joey! I really like your additions!" Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 21:08, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
Yes, the existing system. I agree this would have to be managed appropriately (as does any classroom assignment), but I think it should be offered as one option to professors who are looking at incorporating Wikipedia into the classroom. As of now, our tutorials seem to offer a "one size fits all" assignment design that empahsizes adding new prose as progress. If students aren't capable of offering meaningful suggestions, why should they be editing Wikipedia in the first place? And if all they say is "I really like your additions!"—then I would hope the instructor would give zero credit to such trivial remarks! Biosthmors (talk) 21:41, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
See for example assignment 7 here. Biosthmors (talk) 19:02, 14 March 2013 (UTC)
One thing you could do is write it up as a case study. That's the main way we highlight various possible assignments that may make sense for an individual classes.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 18:48, 18 March 2013 (UTC)

New bug to fix with course pages with the extension?

I just copied the course page text of Education Program:Saint Louis University/Signal Transduction (SP13) into a user subpage (User:Biolprof/Signal Transduction Spring 2013) and then I replaced the content with {{User:Biolprof/Signal Transduction Spring 2013}} so that I can edit the course page in a traditional larger format, see WP:diffs, etc. Might have I created any new issues? And will the current fixes to the extension also show edit boxes inside the course page, so that I can select "edit" for individual sections, as I currently can at User:Biosthmors/Signal Transduction Spring 2013? Biosthmors (talk) 19:39, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

That shouldn't cause any problems. (If you notice any, let me know.) That's basically the same thing the {{course page wizard}} does, except it transcludes pages in the Education Program talk: namespace. (It also includes explicitly coded [edit] section links for each of the transcluded pages, which you could do on your course page if you want to make it easy for other people to edit as well, via the course page.) If by "current fixes" you mean "planned fixes", then yes. After the planned recode to use ContentHandler, we'll be able to make course pages behave a lot more like regular wiki pages, including section edit links.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:28, 6 March 2013 (UTC)
Interesting. It escapes me at the moment about how I would implement that though. No worries, I'm not planning on implementing it at this point in time, but maybe later. Biosthmors (talk) 17:48, 15 March 2013 (UTC)

Account creator rights

Is there any support for making this default for getting "Campus coordinator" rights? It seems redundant to add it after when people like myself can give a user the rights, but then need to find an administrator to add this right, and if possible, I was wondering if we could make this a right for them by default. I know there is the risk for abuse for this, but it is so small we would easily be able to monitor this. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 20:37, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

Education Working group proposal marked "historical"

This is just an FYI that I've marked the Education Working Group proposal as "historical." This is for three reasons: 1) Nobody from the working group has been editing it (and most never did), and there has been little to no response to comments on the talk page; 2) it's purpose was always unclear, and has only become more so; 3) it seems that the working group doesn't even exist any more, now that a subset of its members are calling themselves the "Education Board."

I'm not sure what venue there should be for community discussion of the Education Board's activity, which seems to continue from what one can gather. The lack of transparency and/or accountability is quite astounding. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 21:33, 23 February 2013 (UTC)

I see there have been a couple comments about this at the proposal talk page. I'm thankful to get some great communication on this noticeboard sometimes, but it would be reassuring if more of those involved with the iniative communicated and helped out with things that pop up here. It is kind of odd thinking that there are supposedly lots of people who want to help assignments but then you don't see any edits anywhere or responses here. Of course, lots of great things can be done off-wiki, but more robust discussion about and participation in the issues this noticeboard identifies is desired, to me. I also find it odd that there is repeated talk about "having a place to communicate" when this noticeboard already exists.
Where is the official statement of guiding principles, I wonder? Wikipedia:Education Board/Wiki Education Foundation Members currently says "Anyone can become a member of the program. There will be a simple online process for signing up, with minimal requirements, such as agreeing with the guiding principles, which the Board will develop." That hasn't stopped 36 people (me being #36) from putting our names down as Members/Interested Members though! What did I sign up for? =) Biosthmors (talk) 00:03, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
I hate to tell you, but you signed up for HumancentiPad. :-) --Tryptofish (talk) 00:04, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
What?! I'm very disheartened. I would have much rather signed up for a featured production. Biosthmors (talk) 00:29, 27 February 2013 (UTC)
Bio, the guiding principles are in the proposal, albeit in draft form [26]. If the final principles aren't to your liking, your $0.00 (USD) membership fee will be returned (minus shipping and applicable state taxes). Like Mike below, I'm available for any questions on the new group. in terms of centipad/pede placement, I recommend signing up for the front position. Avoid the middle if possible.The Interior (Talk) 01:47, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

I'm going to try to be a bit more responsive on-wiki, but I am really busy in real life, so please feel free to poke me at my talk page or via email if I seem to be ignoring a discussion. I don't have a whole lot to add to the note Biosthmors linked to just yet -- we are still working on the tedious administrivia of starting up a 501(c)(3). If there are any specific questions, please post them here and I promise to respond as quickly as I have time for. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:10, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

Guiding precepts

Thanks for citing those The Interior! To me, the following bullet point strikes me as problematic.

The organization will strive to sustain the successes of the Wikimedia Foundation's Education Program at educational institutions in the United States and Canada. Members will recruit to expand the program and provide all volunteers, instructors, and editors with necessary resources. The organization and its members will strive to encourage greater use and understanding of Wikipedia at educational institutions.[27]

I think the words successes, expand, and greater use unfortunately all precede the word understand. The wording suggests that the group is confident that they have a good system and are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to "scale up". Shouldn't there be a mention of avoiding the problems, such as those identified in the RFC? I don't think the confident language is justified. In my opinion, this is a time when basic things should be re-evaluated to make there is a firm foundation, instead of concerning one's self with growth. I would like to see more of an explicit committment and willingness to improve upon the resources provided to instructors, students, and ambassadors, for example. As I mention here, I think there is room for improvement in the most basic instructions we are currently providing classrooms. So I recommend that this precept be modified to acknowledge the real need to improve, rather than focusing on the potential for expansion. I think we need a committment to quality, as the RfC identified that as a major problem from the community's view. Biosthmors (talk) 02:45, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

I agree, I've got a bit more to say on this, but might not get to it until tomorrow/friday. There are some important elements missing, imo. The Interior (Talk) 03:02, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
You're right that more groundwork needs to be done in terms of understanding the issues arising from student editing, and how those issues should be approached. There has been the in-depth report on the IEP, Mike Christie and co.'s qualitative analysis last year, and the many anecdotal reports of problems here, and previously at AN before this noticeboard was set up. So there is no shortage of material to learn from. I think a summary document of the difficulties encountered so far is necessary, and as you say, should be a foundation to build future activities from. The learning materials are one place these experiences have been translated into advice, but there are a lot of them, and some contain contradictory advice from what I've seen. Improving these resources, and making sure they evolve with community expectations is definitely a high priority of the new org. I wouldn't be opposed to changes in the proposal along the lines of what you've said, if you have specific wording, love to hear it. There is nothing to be gained by glossing over real problems, and I don't want the proposal to read that way. The Interior (Talk) 05:25, 3 March 2013 (UTC)
How about this?

The organization will strive to improve upon the Wikimedia Foundation's Education Program in the United States and Canada. Members will support all stakeholders: readers, Wikipedia editors, students, and instructors to help the program succeed. Classrooms will be supported to leave behind quality contributions, so that Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sister projects benefit from greater engagement.

Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 19:18, 4 March 2013 (UTC)
Thoughts? Biosthmors (talk) 20:33, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
I like some of the rewording, but I think we should give more thought to the difference between "resources" and "support". "Resources" includes training videos, on-campus expertise, and advice; support includes the work done by ambassadors. I don't see the WEF as providing support directly in the latter sense. I think the WEF should strive to provide resources and training materials to campuses so that they are in turn capable of supporting the professors on that faculty. Online ambassadors are a huge plus for those professors, but they're a volunteer group and can't be assumed to exist for any course. That means that the best thing we can do for professors is to give them local resources that can answer their questions and teach them how to edit Wikipedia. At the NYC Wiki event a couple of weeks ago there was some discussion of this point; I spent a little time talking to Ann Matsuuchi, a librarian from LaGuardia Community College, and she feels that librarians are a good place for this expertise within campuses. Librarians are frequently the instructional technology experts on campus, so this is a natural extension of what they do. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 21:03, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
Maybe,"Members will support all stakeholders" could be changed to "Members will endeavour to support all stakeholders", to reflect that no one can make any promises about how or where volunteers will spend their time on ed. related activities? The "will be supported to leave behind quality contributions" is a bit cumbersome, how about "WEF-USCAN structures, training materials, and volunteers will work towards supporting class projects to produce quality contributions.."? Agree on librarians, Mike, I spent a couple hours last week job-shadowing a reference librarian who had a lot to say about Wikipedia, the "Google generation" and how students access information these days. Library staff are the "front lines" in terms of information flow at universities. The Interior (Talk) 23:29, 10 March 2013 (UTC)
I think these are improvements. How can we "officially" document them with edits to a draft? Should a new draft be copied and pasted into another space? Biosthmors (talk) 17:50, 15 March 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure, but it's probably time for a new page, reflecting changes made by editors. I'll bring this up with the board. The Interior (Talk) 22:58, 19 March 2013 (UTC)

Indeed. Mike said that when you met in Chicago you'd decide whether or not to make the proposal public. What was the decision? --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 22:40, 20 March 2013 (UTC)

It's this weekend coming up. I'll make sure to broach this. The Interior (Talk) 22:44, 20 March 2013 (UTC)
The "thematic organization" application is on meta; I'll see if I can find the link -- so that's already public. It's a draft for now; I don't think anyone but Pharos has edited it yet. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 22:55, 20 March 2013 (UTC)
Here's the link. I haven't had time to read it through yet, I'm afraid, but will by the weekend. It will be reviewed in Chicago and I believe approval of a final version is on the agenda there. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:32, 20 March 2013 (UTC)
The Interior, have you brought this up with the board? I was wondering if there was a response yet. Best. Biosthmors (talk) 17:07, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
We had a lot to discuss this weekend, but I did bring up this thread. The operative version of the proposal is now the m:Wiki_Education_Foundation version, as that's what AffComm is going to look at in regards to approving the new org to be affiliated with Wikimedia. As you are involved with the education project, I think you should feel free to amend the precepts part of the proposal, or indeed improve any part of the proposal you think is weak. Major changes need consensus, of course, but I support your amendment to the precepts. If you don't feel comfortable changing it yourself, I can do it. We're having a conference call tomorrow to finalize the by-laws, and we're going to ask AffCom to take a look soon, so changes should be made/suggested this week. The Interior (Talk) 18:23, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

Please check out the Proposal

The proposal is, as Mike has said, up on Meta. And there are some quite significant changes to the proposal, and indeed to the whole project of the proposed organization. Sadly, as it's on Meta, there are very few eyes there. I'd recommend anyone to go have a look at it, and the changes it's undergoing. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 19:04, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

Thanks Jon, I was just preparing a post in this vein. The Interior (Talk) 19:35, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

Wiki Education Foundation update

There have been some comments, here and elsewhere, to the effect that it's not been very easy to see what's happening with the process started by the Education Program working group last year. We're going to try to post regular updates on this page to make the process a bit more transparent. To recap, for those unfamiliar with the background, that working group process led to a proposal to create a nonprofit, to be called the "Wiki Education Foundation -- USA and Canada": WEF-USCA for short; or just WEF.

The WEF has an interim board, the members of which are listed here. The board has been meeting by phone and will be meeting in Chicago on the weekend of the 23rd of March. Current tasks include getting the final form a grant proposal to the Grant Advisory Committee, getting an affiliation proposal to the Affiliations Committee, and working with a pro bono lawyer to set up the bye-laws for the new 501(c)(3) and incorporate the new entity. The budget includes funds for hiring staff for the WEF; we're still discussing exactly what qualifications are needed. Do we need someone who is very experienced at running a non-profit? Or do we want someone with lots of fund-raising experience? Or someone with a strong Wikipedia editing record? Rod Dunican will be at the Chicago meeting, and I expect that there will be further discussion of the role of the WEF and the input of the community in the form of the RfC.

Three members of the board -- me, Chanitra, and Pat -- are going to monitor this page and will add an update periodically. We'd like to do an update weekly, but there may be nothing happening on a given week, since the board is all-volunteer. We'll also try to respond in a timely way to comments here; and we'd like to get input and feedback on the updates we post here. If you have any questions, please post them, and we'll try to respond. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 21:45, 10 March 2013 (UTC)

Mike thanks for this. A few very quick questions:
  1. When you say "We're going to try to post regular updates," who is "we"? As I've noted, the majority of the board hasn't edited on Wikipedia at all, except to edit pages of bureaucracy internal to the working group, and now the putative board. Is this going to change? Or does all the burden rest on your shoulders and those of Chanitra (who has never edited here before) and Pat?
    By "we", I meant Pat, Chanitra and me; it's quite possible Pat and I will do more of it than Chanitra, because of our familiarity with Wikipedia. No, I don't expect those board members without extensive editing experience to start editing more. Some of the board members, such as Diana Strassman, have multiple semesters of experience with running classes on Wikipedia, however. This might be a good place to comment that I don't see the WEF's activities as taking place on Wikipedia to any significant extent; what I hope we'll be doing is creating resources to train campus staff, and taking over the role Jami Mathewson and others at the WMF have played -- coordination of classes and the related administrative work. Of course doing that correctly does require a good understanding of Wikipedia. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:22, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
    I'm not entirely sure what I think of the fact that you "don't see the WEF's activities as taking place on Wikipedia to any significant extent," although I appreciate the honesty at least. Indeed, it's far from surprising, in that essentially none of the working group / board's activities have taken place on Wikipedia. What it does do, however, is suggest once again how limited you see any input that Wikipedians might have on what the organization might do. I refer once again to Pharos's comments on the RFC: "The important thing is that we structure this program for deep community participation at all levels, which is a lesson that I believe has been learned from the experience of past stages, both in North America and globally. And we must ensure the community fully joins in planning the next stage of this structure as it evolves beyond the top-down approach of the pilot programs." We're a long way from that, aren't we?
    More pragmatically, as you know what can be the most frustrating thing about university (or other) classes coming on Wikipedia is when the students and/or the professors refuse (or don't know how) to watch talk pages and respond to invitations to communicate. Yet the members of the working group / board have, almost en masse, decided to take much the same tack themselves. So, perhaps they will not be editing articles themselves. But I find it extraordinary that any members of the board would not be watching this page, at the very minimum. It is disappointing on a whole number of levels. It smacks of arrogance. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 23:09, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
    I can't speak for the rest of the board; I don't know if they're watching or not. But yes, we aren't where I'd like to be in terms of Pharos's comment that you quote. I would like to have more involvement from other Wikipedians, and I agree that beyond the RfC and a few posts there's not been much in the way of communication. I'd like to do better than that. As The Interior says below, it's not that we're unwilling; we've either been busy or (at times) there hasn't been much going on so there's not been much to post about.
    To your comment about the WEF's future activities taking place largely off-wiki: perhaps we have different conceptions of what this organization will do? In my eyes, if the WEF is successful, every campus in the US and Canada will have at least one person on staff who is a high-quality resource for any professor on that campus wanting to bring Wikipedia into the classroom. If I were the executive director of the WEF, I think I'd spend most of my time working with campus staff, developing resources -- PDFs, on-wiki training material, video, case studies, etc. -- helping with fund raising, reading and absorbing feedback from the Wikipedia community and academe, and looking for decent metrics, as well as the usual administrative tasks. There's some time spent on Wiki reading, and responding, certainly -- but do you think that would be more than an hour or two a week? Then there's the functions that Jami currently performs -- those aren't really on-wiki tasks; most professors don't communicate on-wiki, so perforce the communication back to them is via email too. Can you give me an idea of how you see the WEF operating in your vision of what it should be? I'm starting to wonder if that's the real gap between us -- I see our planning as a reasonable way to reach the goal, but if you see a different goal, then no wonder we're disagreeing on some basic points. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library)
  2. Will you be posting either of your draft proposals on wiki? Will you be soliciting input on those proposals?
    This will be discussed in Chicago, but my own feeling is that they should be made public, and we should solicit input, but we should not wait for that input before providing the proposals to the grant committee and affiliations committee, just because we are very short of time if we are going to meet the goal the WMF gave us of taking over the work the WMF is doing by this summer. (I don't know either process in detail but I'd be surprised if those two processes didn't involve making the proposals public anyway.) So feedback on those two proposals would also be direct input to those committees. As I said, this is still up for discussion; that's just my take. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:22, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
    Why exactly would they not be made public? Why would you not seek input? The opacity of the process is bizarre, and utterly against the culture of Wikipedia. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 23:09, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
    Just a note on the AffCom and GrantCom applications: these applications all happen on open MetaWiki pages to my understanding, we will make sure to post notices here when the applications are up for review. Anyone is able to give input on those pages I believe. If anyone wants to take part in shaping the application before it's made, contacting the board members who are working on it would be a welcomed move. In terms of the process here, it's not ideal, I agree. The opacity is not meant to obscure anything from anyone, it's just an unfortunate by-product of people having real-time conversations. The Interior (Talk) 00:24, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
    I agree with The Interior's comments. I think my phrasing was poor -- by saying "this will be discussed in Chicago" I didn't mean "we're considering not making them public vs. making them public", I meant the proposals would be discussed in Chicago. So far I haven't heard anyone suggest that the proposals should not be public. I agree with you that they should be public and that we need and should solicit input. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:32, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
  3. Likewise, will you be soliciting input to your discussions about the staff? (Biosthmors asked about this here over a month ago, and never received any response.) Or in this case (as others) are you merely reporting on discussions that are strictly internal to the organization you are trying to set up?
    I thought I was soliciting input on just that question, above; sorry if I wasn't clear. The board is very interested in getting opinions from the editing community as well as other interested parties (academe, the WMF) on all the points raised above. To reply specifically to Biosthmors, my own feeling is that anybody in the role of executive director ought to either have significant Wikipedia editing experience, or else we should make it part of that person's job to edit Wikipedia for a while -- say, until they have a couple of Good Articles. The main reason I would be willing to hire someone without WP experience, and expect them to learn by editing, is that I suspect we'll have an easier time finding a good candidate with non-profit experience and training them on WP than we would have finding a Wikipedian without nonprofit experience and expecting them to acquire those skills on the job. Of course, if the right candidate comes along with all relevant skills, that would be perfect. Please note: the above is not a board consensus, but I'll be making the case for that point of view in Chicago. As to whether the communication is reporting only, or if we are truly interested in soliciting input, the latter is the case. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:22, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
    So this is the place and the means by which the board is soliciting input? It seems haphazard at best. I appreciate your articulation of your own views. It would be nice to hear that of other members of the board, too. Personally, I wouldn't demand Good Article writing of anybody. But I would expect the staff to be familiar with Wikipedia, and to live up to its values of openness and transparency. The problem is that the current board is very far from incarnating those values itself. I would also, by the way, expect the person to be familiar with academia, and beyond simply the context of interactions with Wikipedia. Sadly, the WMF doesn't have a good track record of hiring anyone with those qualities, either. I hope the board doesn't repeat its mistakes. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 23:09, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
    "So this is the place and the means by which the board is soliciting input?" Suggestions for other methods are welcome, this seemed to be the practical place to get in touch with the largest cohort of Wikipedians interested in education outreach. My opinion on the executive director qualifications are similar to Mike's - a working knowledge of Wikipedia's processes is key. Having them sit down to write a GA might be a good indicator of whether they "get it". The Interior (Talk) 23:52, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
  4. Is there even the chance for input to your discussions about input? Why is Rod Dunican's presence relevant if the board is supposedly independent of the Wikimedia Foundation? Have you invited any other people--Wikipedians, say--to take part in these discussions?
    Not sure what you mean by the first question. Rod's presence is relevant because it's his organization (which was under Frank at the time) that started this process; I imagine he will be providing input to the grant and affiliation committee. We're not incorporated or affiliated yet, and we have no grant money; if Rod were to conclude that we're not doing what the WMF wanted us to do, no doubt he'd provide that input to those committees, which would quite likely stop us from proceeding. Conversely, if we really are going to pick up the work that the WMF is doing, we had better understand it in excruciating detail, and Rod and his staff are the source for that. In addition there's a coordination question -- when/if the handover happens, we will need to be communicating with his group in some detail. I imagine there will be an ongoing need for close communication with Rod's team, since much of what his group works on for the Global Education Program is going to be relevant to the WEF, and vice versa -- classes in English-speaking countries outside the US and Canada are an obvious area where resources for one group are likely to be useful to the other. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:22, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
    The first question merely refers to your (or the board's) model for input. Which essentially seems to consist in asking you (and Chanitra and Pat) to watch this page and report back in some way. But in that the discussions themselves are veiled (e.g. it seems unlikely that anyone outside the board or the WMF will even see the proposals), it's hard to provide input to a process that is so completely cloaked in veils of secrecy. Meanwhile, surely part of what's issue is whether what you intend to do is merely to "pick up the work that the WMF is doing" and ensure that "you're doing what the WMF wanted us to do." This is a totally bizarre notion, it seems to me. Is the board merely then a means by which the WMF outsources its operations, voiding itself of all responsibility (and no longer paying for them), while maintaining veto power on what is and is not done?! Say it ain't so! --23:09, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
    It does seem to be the case that the WMF is "outsourcing" this particular aspect of their operations. That's the decision that's been made, not by anyone on the board. We're just trying to work with the situation. As for "veto power", I'm not sure what you mean, could you be more specific? The Interior (Talk) 23:52, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
    I agree; Jon, I think your choice of "outsourcing" is pretty accurate, with one exception: as DGG pointed out in the RfC, one difference is that the new organization will have several board members elected by Wikipedia editors, but only one from the WMF, so the level of direct control exerted by the WMF should decrease in favour of increased involvement by the editing community. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:32, 12 March 2013 (UTC)
    I just wanted to comment (I have been watching, too :) ), that I don't think this new organization is looking to have any sort of 'veto power' about anything. This ideal Mike speaks of, where we essentially serve as the conduit for campus faculty to engage and become experts themselves, would likely lead to more Wikipedians on campuses supporting their classes much in the same way very active Wikipedians in the program do now. They would be experts in Wikipedia assignment design, which would ensure that professors start off on the right foot. Then they could support students in various ways (maybe the class assignment involves adding reliable sources to existing articles, in which case the work with students might be limited to having them work closely with librarians to evaluate sources and then learn how to add those to an article; maybe the assignment is much like yours, Jon, in which case the students would need a lot more support on the Wikipedia-editing and culture side). This expertise and depth of familiarity allows the assignments to be more flexible and to fit in with the class and Wikipedia's needs. If we can help establish more experts on college campuses, then way more classes can become self-sufficient, like you. Would you ever let someone come in and veto something you were doing in your class? ;) Anyway, the idea is to empower volunteers to have the know-how to make the partnership between Wikipedia and education that much stronger. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 17:08, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
  1. Hi Mike, Jami, sorry that I haven't had much time recently... But by "veto power" I thought it was clear that I wasn't referring to any control over Wikipedia that the proposed organization might wield. (I'm a little surprised that you imagined I could possibly mean that.) Rather, I was referring to the relationship between it and the WMF. That's why it seemed odd to me that Rod would be at this Chicago meeting. If this is truly to be an independent organization, why bring him in? Especially as there is already one WMF staffer on the proposed Board as it is. Do you feel that one is not enough? As for a potential veto, that's quite clear in Mike's comment: "if Rod were to conclude that we're not doing what the WMF wanted us to do, no doubt he'd provide that input to those committees, which would quite likely stop us from proceeding." This seems to say that if Rod doesn't like something, then the Board will drop it. For an organization that claims to be doing things differently, that's quite some admission. And if the WMF wants to continue to determine what gets done and what doesn't, then why are they hiving the whole business off? --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:44, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

(Outdenting) Jon, I'm going to break up your comments into bullets so I can answer them separately rather than running multiple answers inline, partly because it's easier for me and also in case we need to pursue one of these points further.

  • Why bring Rod in? It was very useful to have Rod there, for several reasons. He had a lot of experience with the PPI, and was able to talk to us about the grant-writing and fundraising; that was very helpful. We're going to have to do exactly that kind of fundraising if we want to survive. He's also currently in charge of the budget for the education program and was able to give us a lot of pointers on budgeting costs, both data points on what certain kinds of salaries and expenses cost, and also what the historical expenses had been in some areas. Jami has a lot of this information too, but she's a contractor, not a staff member, and is not being retained by the WMF past June 30th of this year. She had no PPI experience and doesn't have the budgeting information. She does have a lot of concrete data about the day-to-day tasks that are currently done inside the WMF -- communication with faculty, responding to questions, and so on. Also, and this is a personal comment just from me, I would have felt it was rude to object to anyone from the WMF coming to visit -- the plan to start this organization was orginally their idea, they are funding the travel and accommodations, and I think it would be inappropriate to tell them to stay away without a very good reason. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:46, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
    • Thanks for these long and helpful answers. Here, a couple of things arise. Not least, who if anyone will replace Jami. With Annie Lin gone, that's significant continuity lost. I presume it will be LiAnna? I do, however, understand your sense that if the WMF are paying, they get to call the tune. But my understanding is that "the plan to start this organization" was not "orginally their idea." Surely the narrative is that they set up a working group, which then came up with this idea? --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 07:30, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
      It's true that the working group came up with the current plan, but the whole plan to move the US/Canada EP outside the WMF was the WMF's idea, and that's what I meant. Re continuity: yes, that's a problem. Personally I hope the new organization has the opportunity to rehire Jami; I think we have to take on that coordination role, since the WMF isn't going to, and she's obviously very well-qualified for it. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:27, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
  • A potential veto...if Rod doesn't like something, then the board will drop it. I'm not sure what plausible setup we could have had that would not leave us open to a comment like this. First I think I should say that I, at least, haven't heard or read a single word from anyone at the WMF that I could think of as a constraint on us to work on one plan rather than another. The only thing I think would be an issue would be if we weren't plannning to take on the off-wiki part of communicating with instructors in the program, and since the board unanimously think that we need to do that, it hasn't come up. Even if there were some desire on the part of the WMF to constrain the WEF in some way, it would be rather pointless, since as soon as the WEF is funded it can ignore the WMF's directives. What I outlined to you is just a hypothetical sequence of events: if organization A funds plan B, wouldn't you expect organization A to insist on actually wanting plan B to happen? Finally, suppose, for the sake of argument, that the WEF board really does want to do something Rod hates, and Rod says he will recommend not funding us. (I hope it's clear that this is completely hypothetical; Rod has been 100% supportive in all my interactions with him.) I don't know whether the grants committee takes WMF input as significant, but I assume so, hence strong WMF opposition would reduce the likelihood of us getting a grant. That's just a fact. The board could decide to change its plans in order to get the funding; they could also go ahead and look for funding elsewhere. I don't know what would actually happen, but I am sure this is going to remain hypothetical so I am not concerned about it. Do you have a specific plan you think we should be pursuing that you think the WMF would oppose, or is this just a structural issue in your eyes? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:46, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
    • Again, I understand that the organization that pays gets to decide what goes on. But the WMF are shortly pulling their funding. At some point this organization is to be at least notionally independent. If the WMF wants to continue to determine its direction, then they should continue to pay. Meanwhile, I think it's less a question of whether or not I personally have a specific plan (though I have mentioned to you what I'd like to see...) as one of the latitude you have to consider all the possible options. I don't see you having that--or taking it, if you have it. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 07:30, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
      "If the WMF wants to continue to determine its direction, then they should continue to pay": as far as I can detect, the WMF hasn't done anything to determine the direction of the working group's plans beyond the initial statement that they wanted to move the US/Canada EP outside their organization. In the future, I would expect we'll continue to apply for grants via the GAC, but I don't think that will determine our direction any more or less than any other grant -- and to be honest I think the WMF grants, if we get them, are likely to be much less than the outside grants that we are hoping to be able to get. I won't say they will have no influence over us -- any granting organization has some influence on how the money is spent -- but I don't see that as problematic. And of course one of the board seats is reserved for a WMF nominee; that is another form of influence. Can you remind me of what you'd like to see us do? I know we've talked about it but I don't remember either the details or the forum; sorry. I'm not aware that we're not using our latitude, though I'm sure there are ways to improve the ideas we do have, and we would very much like to hear more ideas on what we should be doing. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:27, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
  • Why are [the WMF] hiving the whole business off? This is really a question for the WMF, not for me or any other WEF board member. Many of the working group members tried to persuade Frank that the WMF should keep the whole program in house, but he convinced us that the decision had been taken at a high enough level that it wasn't worth our time to take that route. I believe the answer is that the WMF doesn't want to take targeted grants any more, such as the Stanton Foundation's PPI grant, which was over $1M. The WEF could accept that money, and do other targeted things, such as working with Consumer Reports, or professional organizations. However, you should really ask someone at the WMF that question; the above is no more than my own impression. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:46, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
Thanks in advance for your answers! -jbmurray (talkcontribs) 08:03, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
Not sure I'll have time tonight for further responses, but I'll try. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:22, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
Again, the question is why the burden should be so singularly on your own back? You have a board. Surely any one of them could respond. Indeed, on Meta we're informed that those interested can contact "any initial board member". --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 23:09, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
It's a division of labour issue. Some board members are focusing on by-laws, some on the AffCom and GrantCom applications, some on legal and finance. The division is broken down here: Wikipedia:Education Board/Committees. Would it really make sense for eight or nine people to respond to queries? The Interior (Talk) 23:40, 11 March 2013 (UTC)
Absolutely. Jon, I've dodged multiple unpleasant board tasks such as the budget and grant writing; I am more than happy to let PJ and Diana and the others take on those tasks while I try to help here. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:32, 12 March 2013 (UTC)

A brief update from Chicago, on a point I know Jon was curious about: the (draft) affiliation proposal is already public on meta, m:Wiki Education Foundation; and the grant proposal will also be public. The board also resolved to make all minutes public. I'll be posting the minutes later this week, I hope; they're not yet approved but should be this week. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:46, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

Online Ambassador application: Hanad Mukhtar

Hanad Mukhtar

Hanad Mukhtar (talk · contribs)

  1. Why do you want to be a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    I am one of the few Somali people who knows about wikipedia and I can help with everything that needed to be edited especially Somalia.
  2. In three sentences or less, summarize your involvement with Wikimedia projects.
  3. Please indicate a few articles to which you have made significant content contributions. (e.g. DYK, GA, FA, major revisions/expansions/copyedits).
  4. How have you been involved with welcoming and helping new users on Wikipedia?
  5. What do you see as the most important ways we could welcome newcomers or help new users become active contributors?
  6. Have you had major conflicts with other editors? Blocks or bans? Involvement in arbitration? Feel free to offer context, if necessary.
  7. How often do you edit Wikipedia and check in on ongoing discussions? Will you be available regularly for at least two hours per week, in your role as a mentor?
  8. How would you make sure your students were not violating copyright laws?
    I would have encouraged them to not, but if they do it, they would have severe consequences.
  9. If one of your students had an issue with copyright violation how would you resolve it?
    I would have taken it out immediately.
  10. In your _own_ words describe what copyright violation is.
    It is prohibited use of other works without being told or informed them.
  11. What else should we know about you that is relevant to being a Wikipedia Ambassador?


(User:Hanad Mukhtar.)

  • Oppose—lack of experience. All 58 edits are in the user and user talk namespaces; it's fabulous that you want to be an ambassador, but first get some experience on the wiki itself! :) Let me know if I can ever be of service, —Theopolisme (talk) 11:08, 18 March 2013 (UTC)
  • I agree with Theopolisme, like he said, come back once you have a better understanding and grasp of how Wikipedia works. One thing that you could do to improve is to take a deeper look into some of the more important policies/guidelines like WP:COPYRIGHT, Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not and other policies that can be found at Wikipedia:List of policies and guidelines. Another thing you could do is ask someone to "adopt" you which will allow you to get individual assistance from an experienced editor or ask questions at the teahouse. Hope that helps. -- Cheers, Riley 23:57, 23 March 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Too early. Please come back when you're more experienced.Smallman12q (talk) 01:16, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

Some 'tube tutorials

Howdy, y'all! Recently, for the Schreiner University course, I created two YouTube tutorials related to moving an article from sandbox to mainspace—they can be viewed at [28], just in case you were, you know, planning on recording some tutorials about that kind of stuff. ;) —Theopolisme (talk) 22:18, 18 March 2013 (UTC)

That's great! Except for the fact that this should have been done on one of the test wikis/WMF deployment labs. Please do that next time. Face-wink.svg -- Cheers, Riley 00:06, 24 March 2013 (UTC)
Thpoilsport. ;) Noted. —Theopolisme (talk) 11:05, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

DYK from student at Rice University today

You should check out one of today's DYKs for Women in the Arab Spring, an article User:Nadhika99 created for her assignment at Rice. I added the page to the trophy case but thought I'd post a note here, in case anyone wanted to see it on the main page. Nadhika was in Diana Strassmann's class last Spring and took another one this term. Enjoy her interesting article! JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 19:47, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

Secondary sourcing in psychology articles

An issue of secondary vs primary sourcing has come up for Education Program:Davidson College/Cognitive Psychology (2013 Q1). User:Garrondo and User:Lova Falk have suggested for students to follow WP:MEDRS and use primarily secondary sources. In some areas, secondary sources are somewhat lacking. For a number of the article additions, students have used primary sources from peer-reviewed journals to describe models proposed by these primary sources. The models are similarly described in other secondary material and by abstracts/discussions in other peer-reviewed primary journals. WP:MEDRS states:

Reliable primary sources may occasionally be used with care as an adjunct to the secondary literature, but there remains potential for misuse. For that reason, edits that rely on primary sources should only describe the conclusions of the source, and should describe these findings clearly so the edit can be checked by editors with no specialist knowledge. In particular, this description should follow closely to the interpretation of the data given by the authors or by other reliable secondary sources.

If secondary sources are hard to find/non-existent, or do not contradict/disavow the primary sources (the additions aren't 'wrong' per se) and the additions are new content (new articles, new sections), is the usage of primary sources an editorial judgement? This issue seems to exist more for certain areas in the social sciences where there appears to be fewer review journals than for chemistry/biology which have an abundance of secondary review material.Smallman12q (talk) 02:40, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

LovaFalk has stated her wish to take a wiki-break (I think she said that among her reasons was the exaustion she felt from education projects), so I do not think she will comment.
I agree that in very specific cases primary sources may be used and I have never said otherwise. However, as MEDRS states the potential for misuse, even from experienced wikipedians is great. When inexperienced editors, as are second year students, use them the probability for misuse is potentially enourmous. How can students decide which sources are important? and reliable? How can they give an overview of a field using primary sources. If you read a hundred sources in a subject, and work in it for some time you are probably capable in deciding if any primary source is worth including. However, students usually have a limited time and interest and are only capable of reading a few sources (Most probably less than 20). When this less than 20 sources are all primary the result (which has usually been the result of educational assingments in psychology) is a collection of concatenated descriptions of primary sources which most probably does not reflect consensus in secondary sources. This is what I feel that has occurred in this case. See for example here and here. This links with the comment " The models are similarly described in other secondary material and by abstracts/discussions in other peer-reviewed primary journals": I would add: says who? In some cases they do, in others they don't, and nevertheless experienced editors cannot know (since we only have a description of what a primary article says), so it is really hard to check for accuracy, which is very important when unexperienced, non-experts editors add lots of text to articles.
Regarding the comment "In some areas, secondary sources are somewhat lacking. " I believe is completely false. If an issue is important enough (exceptions with very new theories) there will be secondary sources. If it is important it will have been included in professional text-books and reviews in journals. I have yet to find an article in psychology for which there are no secondary sources that can be found in less than a day... Moreover, my opinion (and many others) is that if there are no secondary sources for an issue that was first studied several years ago, then it is simply not notable and it is not worth including in wikipedia. In the case above I even pointed several secondary sources to some of the students or gave them some hints to find them. See for example here and here and here, so truth is that there are secondary sources but simply it was not given enough emphasis when instructing the teacher and students.
As a conclussion: I believe that emphasis in secondary sources is critical in any article based on research (either in social or biological fields), and that cases were there are no secondary sources in a notable issue are a rarity. However this emphasis is even more important in educational assingments since secondary sources help to overcome many of the potential pitfalls in which students and university teachers usually fall. I am going to point to the psychology and medicine projects to this discussion, since I am sure they will find this discussion interesting.
Bests.--Garrondo (talk) 08:35, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
If one is just learning to edit Wikipedia only using secondary sources is a good way to prevent issues from occurring thus would strongly recommend it. Major textbooks are appropriate and in psychology there are lots of those. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine)
I can see that it may be difficult to find journal review articles that comprehensively cover some subjects. But that's not true of the rest of the secondary literature on the subject. The fundamental here, as covered by WP:WEIGHT policy, is that if the secondary literature doesn't cover an issue/point/topic then there's no way we, as tertiary literature, should be covering it.
The approach to studying the literature, and writing about it, that students need for Wikipedia is completely reversed from the approach used in academia. There are no brownie points for showing off how familiar one is with the primary literature, or how well one has summarised the field based on the primary literature, or that one has located and cited the seminal papers in the field. These are all important skills for academia but not here.
There is a tendency on Wikipedia to assume if a simple internet (or PubMed) search doesn't find source material then it doesn't exist. These students have access to a university library. I wish I did. They should use it.
One other issue is the tendency to set assignments (or for students to pick) obscure subjects so that an article can be created. This will naturally lead to topics that are hard to source well, and doesn't help the encyclopaedia. Colin°Talk 12:35, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
I am a regular participant in the University of Minnesota journal club in individual differences psychology and behavioral genetics (the Psychology 8935 graduate seminar) and as such I have occasion to read journal articles about psychology each week during the school year. Usually those articles are primary research articles. Once in a while we read a review article as part of the week's mix of articles. After participating in this journal club for a few years, I'm very much in agreement that WP:MEDRS should be the standard for references to back up Wikipedia articles about psychology. Quite a few articles related to individual differences psychology are currently under ongoing arbitration sanctions from the Arbitration Committee Race and Intelligence case, and the only way forward for the articles associated with that case to improve in quality is to be very rigorous about sourcing to reliable secondary sources. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk, how I edit) 21:09, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

As this is a perennial topic for the many Association for Psychological Science classes, and one that a lot of the professors push back against (see the discussion on page 9 of this forth-coming paper about the APS Wikipedia Initiative, in addition to the on-wiki examples we're familiar with), perhaps it would be useful to have an RfC about appropriate sourcing for psychology articles. We could reach out the APS editors and try to forge a consensus about where primary peer-reviewed literature is and is not appropriate.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:16, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

I've yet to hear an explanation for why Wikipedia should cover something that has yet to be "synthesized in review articles or textbooks", as the paper puts it. Does psychology have an oral tradition perhaps? Or are their published works suppressed by the authorities -- lecturers meeting their students in underground tunnels, passing them those scraps of journal articles they managed to salvage from the Great Burning of Wisdom? Is the work these students are doing on Wikipedia really so unprecedented that nobody has ever reviewed the experimental studies and written about them before? Are we expected to believe that second-year psychology undergraduates are learning such bleeding-edge concepts and ideas that there is nothing in the last 50-years of research in the field worth writing about?
What purpose would an RfC serve if the proposal is counter to basic policy? Instead, could someone from APS please come here and explain why a topic in undergraduate psychology that has never been written about to any degree in the secondary literature should be a topic on Wikipedia? Colin°Talk 13:52, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
The purpose would be to have a discussion between editors with different views on the appropriate interpretation of the sourcing guidelines. I'm not talking about a proposal counter to policy, or any proposal at all. It's just an opportunity for a structured discussion on just the issue that we've seen continuing disagreement about (ie, when, exactly, primary peer-reviewed literature is acceptable for psychology articles). It would be a chance to either reach common ground with the APS professors, or clarify disagreements and figure out whether what they want to do is compatible with Wikipedia.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:04, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
Do any of the APS professors edit here? That would be a start. There's certainly a lot of misunderstanding going on. Why is it just WMF and Wikipedians talking here, and no profs? Colin°Talk 14:49, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
That's why I suggested an RfC, to bring the professors to the discussion. They aren't in this discussion because we haven't let them know about it. Some do edit, and more keep an eye on what their students are doing and guide them behind the scenes. Few watch this page, or have the watchlist-checking habits of the regulars here.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:55, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
I've heard an explanation for why Wikipedia should cover something that has yet to be "synthesized in review articles or textbooks": it's because the subject is so obscure that reviews and specialized textbooks are only expected to be updated every five or ten years as a result. Think "genetic disease affecting fewer than 100 people, all from the same family." Additionally, we do sometimes use primary sources if we want to get the details on something that a secondary source glosses over. A good textbook i going to skip the gritty details of Watson and Crick's work on determining DNA's structure and function, but a good editor might want to include a few colorful details to add interest and accessibility to a specialized article on that research.
In this case, however, it seems to be more WP:RECENTISM than appropriate use of primary sources. People seem to be talking about adding information on newly published models, with no idea whether those models will be discarded next season. In this instance, I think that setting a general rule of thumb that "if it's not in a secondary source, it's not worth adding to Wikipedia" would help students figure out what's important. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:18, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
Joorden's mega class experiment was explicitly designed as a means of getting the latest research findings/thoughts onto Wikipedia. I suspect he's not alone in thinking this is the most important thing these students could be doing. Why don't we get classes picking basic undergraduate topics in psychology and working to improve an existing article? Could be the better article has less text than before? Could be the resulting article has some existing text mingled in with student text? Could be the students actually collaborate with other Wikipedians. Now what would that do to all those silly words-added metrics? Colin°Talk 19:13, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
I'll summarize my own reactions, after dealing with several class projects in the neuroscience domain: (1) These things are a pure negative for Wikipedia, even if they may be moderately beneficial to the students; (2) If they stick to obscure articles, the harm is limited, and the best thing to do is to ignore them -- if necessary doing a massive revert after the class ends; (3) If they edit important articles, almost all of their edits need to be reverted immediately. Looie496 (talk) 20:27, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
You will also find that the neuroscience/neurology articles are invariably being edited by psychology students seeking something concrete to write about. So their profs are completely unable to provide "expert" supervision, if they can be bothered, that is. Colin°Talk 21:32, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
  • For the record, most of what is being talked about in this section is explicitly not permitted under no original research policy. Peer-reviewed reliable sources on scientific matters is the standard expected for topics at this level, not "latest research". Risker (talk) 21:42, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
    • I don't think that's quite accurate, Risker. We're talking about peer-reviewed scientific literature, just primary research papers (published in reputable journals) rather than secondary review articles. Of course, such sources can be put together in ways that amount to original research, but that isn't necessarily the case. WP:MEDRS calls for a more stringent standard, one that a lot of the APS Wikipedia Initiative professors seem to buck up against.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 23:23, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
      • This worries me. I can understand professors encouraging their students to compile and synthesise primary sources, because that higher level of thought is something all good professors want to inculcate. It is incompatable with en.Wikipedia, though. Obviously so. Sure, there are rare instances where citing a primary source is appropriate in health-related content, but they are rare. My attention was drawn here by two student proposals in Talk:Autism for new autism-related articles, one built entirely on primary sources, the other almost entirely.
Psychology professors are encouraging, or at least allowing, students to add reviews, not reviews of reviews (tertiary level articles) to Wikipedia. The solution is not, in my opinion, to invite the professors here to collaborate in a redrafting of our content policies to allow for that. They need to better understand our epistemological model. Someone isn't making it clear to them that we can't trust their or their students' judgement about which primary evidence is worthy of our readers' attention; that we rely only on strong secondary sources like scholarly reviews and highly-regarded textbooks for that judgment call. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 05:10, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
Risker, your two sentences are vague to the point that misunderstanding is possible and not really clear what your point is. But my guess is that you're mistaken wrt sourcing at a pretty fundamental level. Since you're an arb, I sincerely hope this is not the case. Colin°Talk 08:28, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
Anthony, I think it is time to draft a new policy wrt student editing. The issue I think is that Wikipedia assumes editors are intrinsically motivated individuals and has mechanisms to deal with this. But where someone directs others to make edits, with some degree of compulsion, I think the contract changes. Particularly so when on a large scale. What is missing so far from the bad student assignments, is any degree of responsibility taken by those directing the students to edit. That has to change, and I hope the community will support such a change. Colin°Talk 08:28, 26 March 2013 (UTC)


Oversight by professors would be a good thing, but the need for it would be vastly reduced if professors in health-related subjects were actually effectively teaching their students how to edit health-related content on Wikipedia. Can you point me to the training the professors receive? I'd like to know if the problem lies in the training we give the professors. Is there a formal assessment of the professors' competency? Do they sit an exam before their course is accepted into the programme? --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 11:09, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
Sage or Jami will probably respond with links to the training materials; they'll give a more accurate answer than I could. However, better training will only help correct problems caused by classes with cooperative instructors. Joordens has, so I gather, indicated he does not plan to cooperate, and I don't know if he's received any training at all. That shouldn't stop us improving the training, but the training doesn't appear to be the issue in this case. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:57, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
This thread isn't about (what we think is) Joordens' class. The specific class that Garrondo and Smallman12q have been involved with Education Program:Davidson College/Cognitive Psychology (2013 Q1). In this case the professor, User:CogPsyProf, did go through the training and from what I've seen, is receptive to feedback and has been trying to guide the students to use appropriate sources. Per the professor's talk page, Garrondo (at least) is frustrated that, despite feedback from him, some students are still relying on primary sources, and recently added large amounts of their work in one go. I think this is more a case of "it's hard to get students to use optimal sources" rather than an uncooperative or untrained professor.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 12:27, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
[edit-conflicted with Mike] The training for professors is at Wikipedia:Training/For educators. It is not specific to those teaching health-related subjects, although it does include a pointer to WP:MEDRS so that those teaching relevant subjects will know about it. (One thing I think would be helpful would be a specific module for psychology classes, as a supplement to the current training. Anyone up for writing content for such a thing?) This training is fairly new, and only a fraction of currently active professors in the education program have taken it (and before, there was no training for the professors). Going forward, I expect that most or all will be required to go through the training before being given access to the instructor right that allows them to set up a course page. (The rights request link is now integrated into the training near the end, as of a few weeks ago.) There is no exam, but instructors have to post to this page the basics of what they want to do with their class on Wikipedia, so that we can make sure it's sensible.
Note also the student training: Wikipedia:Training/For students, which a large fraction of the students this term have taken (usually because they were assigned to complete it, as we recommend and build into the example syllabus).--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 12:09, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
I couldn't find a reference to WP:MEDRS in that material. Could you possibly link me to it? I would be delighted to help draft a module about adding health-related content to en.Wikipedia. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 17:21, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
I thought it was in the educators series, but in fact it's only in the students training, at Wikipedia:Training/For students/Specialized help pages. That module from the students training is itself part of the further reading section of the educators training, at Wikipedia:Training/For educators/Further reading. Please do draft a health-related content module! Feel free to draft it anywhere, and I can help with getting it into the same format as the others.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:41, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
Sage, I have adapted this from Wikipedia:Assignments for student editors#Editing topics in medicine, biology or psychology:

Health-related content in any English Wikipedia article (not just medicine, biology and psychology articles) must be supported by independent "secondary" or "tertiary" sources, such as expert reviews in high-impact peer-reviewed journals, university-level textbooks, professional guidelines, etc. "Primary" sources, such as reports of randomized controlled trials, case reports and comparative studies (even if they are published in a peer-reviewed journal) are rarely adequate support for assertions in this field. If health-related information is not covered in high quality independent secondary or tertiary sources, it is unlikely to be suitable for Wikipedia. The distinction between primary, secondary and tertiary sources is discussed at Primary, secondary and tertiary sources.

Students editing health-related content and those supervising or grading their work must read Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources (medicine).

I believe that these facts should be hot-branded onto the consciousness of any teacher who intends adding Wikipedia editing to a course curriculum, but especially those expressly targeting medicine, biology or psychology articles.
Teachers should be told this in a separate email or wiki communication and required to make it clear that they understand it and will take pains to firmly impress it on their students, and will penalise students who ignore it. To be really clear, I'm suggesting that this data occupy a privileged place in the education program (perhaps along with a similar summary of copyright and BLP issues).
--Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 05:23, 29 March 2013 (UTC)

Regarding User:CogPsyProf and his class it is not accurate: that he is receptive to feedback and has been trying to guide the students to use appropriate sources: While at some point he said that importance of secondary sources was being told to students, it seems now to me that he did not really feel that it was important and that use of primary sources was permmitted, and that my emphasis on secondary sources was a personal mania of myself. I feel that this attittude was further fuelled by the online embassador. I think that both felt that it was not as important secondary sourcing as students adding text to wikipedia. Nevertheless these have been my feelings and I am not completely sure if they are true, but the initial comment in this thread by smallmann (online embassador) points that I am correct.--Garrondo (talk) 08:13, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
Agree with Garrondo. This prof has been very defensive and has not always had good advice from Smallman12q, such as that the class might like to tackle Autism, something that had a good handful of medical editors screaming "Nooooo!" at their monitors. The class page still has "Autism - add a section on face recognition" as an assignment, though we've been assured the students will actually create a new article (again this obsession with creating new articles on minor topics). The issue that keeps recurring is that the profs running these classes don't have the wiki-competence to guide their students. We spend too much time training the profs after their students have already made mistakes and done their assignments. Colin°Talk 10:52, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
From what I've seen of CogPsyProf's on-wiki comments, both earlier on and within the last week (since her students started posting much of their initial work), she's very receptive to feedback and seems to be trying to get her students to make as high quality contributions as possible. As you note, she's been adjusting her plans and guiding her students based on advice (sometimes conflicting) from experienced editors. I would also characterize a lot of the comments directed to her as pretty aggressive; nothing too terrible, but enough to be pretty intimidating for someone trying work with the community. As she noted on a couple of talk pages, her students are current peer reviewing each others work, and will then delve into further improvements based on the peer reviews and the advice of other editors.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:49, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
This isn't helping Sage. What you say might be true but is the same old defensive argument. It's like someone driving the wrong way up a one-way street having a moan about all horn beeping and swearing going on. Rather than criticising the community for how it reacted, ask why did the community reacted in the way that it did? Was the preparation adequate? Did this prof ask their students to do something that they didn't know how to do? Was the prof ill-advised? Why does so much communication happen off-wiki? Why do we have to keep arguing about sourcing when policy is clear? Why are students tackling neurology articles when the prof is a psychologist? Colin°Talk 14:13, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
I've had a short conversation by email with CogPsyProf (in which she sought advice on how she could make it clear on-wiki that she really was taking in the feedback from experienced editors), but aside from that all the communication I'm aware of on these issue has been on-wiki. (Except, of course, whatever is going on in her classroom.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:18, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

Wikipedia Classroom Experiment: bidirectional benefits of students’ engagement in online production communities

I've just read that paper. Three brief responses. I think we should prepare a more substantial response. I see misunderstanding, poor science and propaganda.

  • "Undergraduate and graduate students substantially improved the scientific content of over 800 articles, at a level of quality indistinguishable from content written by PhD experts." and "students... have improved over 840 Wikipedia articles and have written 1,200 pages of text, more than the content of a psychology textbooks". Expect to see the bold text heavily promoted -- it's written in a peer-reviewed journal so must be true :-). By what measure do they judge the student writing? Perhaps they showed it to subject experts and asked them to comment? No they used the flawed method of analysing text retention. The same method Joordens thought he could use to auto-mark his student's homework in the "mega classroom" experiment. That's no measure at all -- most of these students are writing in articles on very few watchlists and many are writing new orphan articles that aren't on anybody's watchlists. That's assuming those watching those articles are actually capable of checking the text matches the source.
  • They write "We expected students' contributions would be as good as those made by expert psychologists since they receive direct feedback from their faculty who are experts in the field." Wow. They clearly haven't read anything these students have written. Does a student term paper become as good as the expert writing because the student "receives direct feedback from their faculty"? Do they think these students correct the mistakes after their work is marked? This also assumes the students stick to subjects their prof is an expert in, or that is actually covered by their course, rather than some more interesting neurology topic or genetics topic that took their fancy.
  • Their paper cites others wrt the psychology of communities and feedback. Yet in practice is these students are no more part of the WP community than I am part of a community when I stay in a hotel for the weekend. They turn up; they dump their text; they're down the pub. The graduates writing "good article" level works may stick around a while and a few do actually interact briefly, but the undergraduates are mayflies.

Colin°Talk 14:49, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

Did they jump or were they pushed? I agree that the vast majority of editors who are induced to work on Wikipedia through educational initiatives rarely continue to edit after their class is over. They last longer and do more work, however, than the modal new Wikipedia editor, who leaves after a single editing session. There is substantial evidence that negative feedback and reverts by old-timers and their failure to explain to new editors what they are doing wrong drives away potentially valuable editors, who are editing in good faith and producing useful if syntactically incorrect contributions to WP. This hostility to new editors (including those recruited through the various educational initiatives) is having harmful effects on Wikipedia as a whole. See Halfaker, A., Geiger, S., Jonathan, M., & Riedl, J. (2012). The rise and decline of an open collaboration system: How Wikipedia’s reaction to sudden popularity is causing its decline. American Behavioral Scientist for a data-filled argument about the causes and consequences of these old-timer activities. As a faculty member who has encouraged my students to try to improve WP articles, I've seen the demotivating effects on new editors of what I consider to be superficial and often ill-informed critiques of students' work. An example of that type of discussion is here. In this case a WP editor who specializes in writing about women's sports reverted in a hostile way a PhD student in behavioral economics' useful and well-sourced additions about the research base aboutinformation cascades. Needless to say, this student stopped editing after completing the course, although he had intended to become a Wikipedian before the responses he got. Robertekraut (talk) 17:52, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
This is a situation where scale makes all the difference. Activities that are easy to handle when a few people do them become overwhelming when done on a large scale. My first approach, as maintainer of most of our neuroscience articles, was to try to work with students in a helpful way, but once I realized that I couldn't handle the volume, and that most students dislike any sort of outside interference, I switched to ignoring edits if they aren't too harmful and reverting edits if they damage important articles. I really don't see any other way to make it work. Looie496 (talk) 18:19, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
  • On the edit retention metric. I see edit retention keeps being used as a gauge of edit quality. No research has shown this to be a useful measure AFAIK. The assumption seems to be that articles are closely supervised by a group of volunteers and only the finest prose and most accurate writing is retained. The reality is that psychology articles are a neglected wasteland, all the more so since students moved in. Hardly any are watchlisted. Many student edits are in new articles with no supervision by volunteers. Volunteers are hopelessly unable to spot plagiarism or check sources, even if they were motivated to do so. Edit retention is somewhat correlated with the activity, ability and motivation of volunteers in the topic area to review and cleanup. Where it is correlated with edit quality at all, it measures only the dreadful end of the scale. Edits that are clear nonsense, that are completely unsourced, that are obviously in the wrong place, etc. This metric is like some statistician measuring the effectiveness of two drugs for eczema who instead of examining the patients clinically for improvement, instead counts how many patients died of toxic effects. If we can say anything about these students based on edit retention (and I very much doubt we can) it is only that one set is comparably as awful as another set. To claim that undergraduates on Wikipedia are writing article content at PhD level is ridiculous. To expect them to write at the level of their professors, because they are "supervised", is doubly ridiculous. Colin°Talk 19:13, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
A rationale for using reverts as a measure of article quality is written up at A Jury of Your Peers: Quality, Experience and Ownership in Wikipedia, though not a perfect measure, it predicts changes in changes in the Wikipedia Wikipedia 1.0 Assessment scores over a six month period. Using this metric the data from the Socializing Volunteers shows students in the APS initiative do more work than PhD psychologists who registered for the APS initiative and that students' edits last as long as work written by PhD psychologists and longer, on average, than non-student text added during this period to other articles in psychology, sociology and neuroscience. Robertekraut (talk) 16:09, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
The "A Jury of Your Peers" paper you cite says "We assume that the more revisions that take place which do not remove the word from the article, the higher quality in quality the original contribution that added it is." The paper doesn't give evidence for that -- it's an assumption. A flawed one. The paper cites two others (this and this). Neither papers measure the quality of the edit. These all measure a proxy. They all assume the longevity of an edit (or words in an edit) is a measure of its quality. It quite clearly isn't. These various papers say very little about what actually happens on wikipedia. Their simplistic computer models are quite inadequate. Great edits may reduce the amount of text in an article. Or move whole chunks to another article. Massive plagiarism and hoax articles can go undetected for years. Editors may appear to add valuable text when the individual edits diffs are examined, but in fact the text was already present on Wikipedia in a better place. The issue of measuring quality is also quite challenging in highly technical fields like medicine/science compared to a biography, say. The "The Rise and Decline" paper may be "data filled" but is also utterly unconvincing and just politics and opinion. They plot various measurements over time and claim the changes in one are responsible for the changes in the other. Yet their analysis cannot show this. I continue to be very disappointed at the research conducted wrt Wikipedia. The edit-retention = quality myth is quite harmful if statements like "at a level of quality indistinguishable from content written by PhD experts" are made from it. Colin°Talk 21:16, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
Colin, you seem to be missing the section on page 4 of Jury of Your Peers paper that attempts to validate the measure of quality. "To check our assumption that word persis- tence is an appropriate measure of quality, we performed an analysis to determine if the quality of the articles edited by higher word persistence editors would be more likely to increase in their Wikipedia 1.0 Assessment than those edited by low word persistence editors. ... We found that a rise of one standard deviation average word persistence across editors active during a six month time period of an article predicted a 1/10th assessment grade rise independent from the structure of editors contributions, the number of words added and all other predictors tested. Although this effect may appear small, it is important to note that 90% of samples showed no increase in assessment grade during the six months observed. This result supports our assumption that word persistence measures the quality an editor’s contributions." — Preceding unsigned comment added by Robertekraut (talkcontribs) 15:17, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
Ah, I didn't see that the paper wasn't the webpage that was linked but is actually in the PDF. The web page looked like a complete, if rather short, paper. I'll look at it later. Colin°Talk 15:44, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
I've read it now. I strongly disagree that this check has shown anything useful at all wrt quality in the normal English sense of the word. The quality assessment was done on the article, not the edit. The article rating system is a very crude measure of quality and for all but the highest ratings does not test for plagiarism or quality sourcing and is largely a measure of overall comprehensiveness. But even if it was a great measure, there are lots editors who improve the article, not necessarily the one being examined. It may be that good editors tend to edit improving articles but many of them don't significantly contribute to that improvement. This may happen because those improving the article ask for help in making it better (peer review, copy edit requests, wikignome improvements, wikiproject collaborations). Naturally when the community is functioning as a collaborative system, good editors will recruit and work with other good editors to improve articles. They won't invite the vandals and the incompetent.
What word-persistence measures (wrt editors) is whether they make awful edits - bad enough to be reverted. Editors who tend to make awful edits tend to not improve articles and tend not be asked for help. The main issue I have with your metric is the claim it measures "quality". Instead, it measures "awfulness". And the check done in that paper showed that awful editors aren't associated with improving articles. The stats may show that undergraduates make awful edits just as frequently as PhD students make them. That is quite a different thing from saying they are writing at the same quality level. If that were true, one would question what those extra years of education has done for anyone.
So I've still yet to see proof that the length of edit retention is a measure of quality. It measures awfulness, which is only applicable at the bottom end of the quality scale. Just as the death rate of patients is no measure of the quality of an eczema drug except at the bottom end of the quality scale. Colin°Talk 22:24, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
Is there a full reference to article somewhere? Stuartyeates (talk) 22:06, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
The article is Wikipedia Classroom Experiment: bidirectional benefits of students’ engagement in online production communities and is authored by User:Rostaf and User:Robertekraut. The article is a bit idealistic, but it does raise pertinent issues regarding the APS initiative. I have notified the authors of this discussion. Robertekraut has stated that it's already set to be published.Smallman12q (talk) 01:12, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
It looks like it's been submitted to CHI’13, April 27–May 2, 2013, Paris, France. I'm sure that if someone were to put together a point-by-point rebuttal the organisers would entertain it somehow, since this is a major conference. Stuartyeates (talk) 01:50, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

Would you be interested in attending that conference, Colin, if the foundation covered your expenses? --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 04:08, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

Are you serious. If so send me an email. Anyway wrt to the above paper, those who know me know I don't mince my words. I'm extremely disappointed the authors of that paper didn't consult the community prior to publication. Many misunderstandings could have been corrected. The paper contains opinions like the need to cite primary research papers for articles in the field that are easily challenged. The paper mentions negative issues like deletion debates without actually citing them -- leaving the reader unable to check for themselves that the spin being put on them there is fair (it isn't). This is a shame. Colin°Talk 08:28, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
Yes. I'll email you in an hour or two. --
I think I read above that the authors have been invited to this page. I hope they will take the opportunity to discuss your criticisms here. I should point out that Colin is a senior and highly-regarded medical editor. He has had significant influence on WP:MEDRS (from its conception, I think), and Autism and its family of articles, as well as on many other areas of policy and content. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 10:43, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
Responding at that conference would be a great way to engage that community. I agree about Colin's stature here, but I wonder about credentialism; will the conference attendees respond not to the substance of Colin's arguments but to his academic status or lack of it? (I've no idea what Colin does in real life.) Will Colin's credentials, whatever they are, make a difference to his ability to make his points heard? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:01, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
(EC) Thinning grey hairs. Check. Scouts first-aid badge. Check. My credentials as senior medial editor are sound. (Anyone wants to know my real-life qualifications/job can contact me off-wiki). Being a collaborative wiki, if we are to make a response then it should be representative of the community opinion, not just one voice no matter how respected or otherwise. I have my own opinions, sure, but I'm also quite ignorant of much of the education programme and others here are considerably more experienced in that regard. Colin°Talk 13:19, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
If it makes sense to send someone (I don't know anything about that conference), we should send the best person for the job and, in my opinion, that's Colin. Never mind credentialism. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 12:57, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
The WMF does fund conference participation. See meta:Participation:Support and meta:Participation:Support/Requests. Provided you could get a conference ticket, you'd probably get funded. You're certainly be the person for the job=). Also, there isn't a centralized place to discuss Wikipedia-related research (maybe a new centralized noticeboard should be created.) When writing such a paper, they should reach out to those involved. Smallman12q (talk) 13:44, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
If the conference is significant, and the presentation of this paper will have some impact, I'd prefer to have it rebutted at the conference, if at all possible, and by you, Colin. If you feel, once the rebuttal has been drafted here (and you seem to have made a good start above), that some expertise on the education programme is needed too, perhaps one of the volunteers with the necessary knowledge could accompany you. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 15:27, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
The advance program for the CHI conference where this paper will be presented is available. Authors have about 17 minutes to present their paper and take 2-3 minutes of Q&A. This isn't a venue that will allow a full discussion of the issues you raise. I think you'd be more successful in raising these issues by proposing a panel at the next Computer Supported Cooperative Work conference, WikiSym or a conference related to online education. Robertekraut (talk)
Thanks for pointing that out. I see registration is $1200 for the conference or $575 for a day. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 17:07, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
WRT credentialism, I have a PhD in Comp Sci and am happy to provide detailed feedback on a criticism, but I'm rather in the wrong part of the world to attend that conference. Stuartyeates (talk) 18:50, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

Special pages are opaque

Pages such as Special:OnlineVolunteers aren't self explanatory for users who follow such links from third party sites and who have no previous knowledge of the workings of wikipedia. There is no text explaining that this is part of the meta:Wikipedia Education Program rather than generic Wikipedia signups, there is no pointer on where to start, etc. Could some text be written please? Stuartyeates (talk) 23:21, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

Text could be added to Wikipedia:Assignments_for_student_editors#Education_Program. I'm not sure what I would say there at this point, but perhaps you could clarify things there? Biosthmors (talk) 19:16, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand the point in adding text to Wikipedia:Assignments_for_student_editors#Education_Program since Special:OnlineVolunteers and friends don't link there (nor indeed do they link to the many other useful help pages, this being the problem). Stuartyeates (talk) 09:37, 1 April 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: RobertK Prods (talk)

{{User:ClueBot III/ArchiveNow}}


Robert Kluijver


Paris School of International Affairs

Course title and description

Contemporary Art and Geopolitics in the Middle East. This is a 24-hour course given in English to the students of the International Master programme (MA) of the Instituten for Political Studies in Paris, better known as Sciences Po.

The objective of the course is to allow the students to gain fresh insights into current social and cultural developments in the Arab world, by way of an informed reading of its contemporary art production.

Being an enthusiastic user of Wikipedia myself, I have noticed how little coverage contemporary art gets in general, and that from the Middle East in particular. Impressed by the level of my students' papers in previous years, and convinced that the generation of knowledge in the academic sphere should be reformed in order to reach a wider audience, I decided to ask my students to write Wikipedia articles this year, instead of the usual persuasive papers. I hope to continue and expand on this experience in coming years.

Assignment plan

This (first) year I need to experiment with Wikipedia assignments in class. I realize there are many dangers and pitfalls, and hope that with the guidance of the Wikipedia community, and intelligent input from my students, we can make this a success.

I have first asked all my students to create a user profile, start editing on the User Page and in their Sandbox, and start copyediting or providing references to existing pages to get a feel of how Wikipedia works. I have provided them with some basic tools but realize they need more yet. I then suggested a list of topics, based on existing coverage on Wikipedia; most students have chosen one of those I suggested, some have suggested their own.

In the meanwhile I have been discussing with Wikipedia community members such as Yunshui and Biosthmors, they have convinced me I better run this exercise through WEP; it is a bit late (student papers are due within a month) and I am aware I have made a few mistakes already, but I'm determined to see this through with success, and learn for next year.

Number of students


Start and end dates

25 January to 27 April 2013

--RobertK Prods (talk) 00:22, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

Would any ambassador like to help RobertK Prods set up a course page? Robert, I helped construct User:Biolprof/Signal Transduction Spring 2013 this semester. You might find that copying and pasting some content out of that page useful, to put in your own course page. Biosthmors (talk) 21:35, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Biosthmors. I gather that a course page is actually a new User Page linked to my account User:Robert Kluijver. Do I create a new User Page from scratch or should I create my course page in my sandbox and then move it elsewhere? Also, the example you give is Read-Only, (there is no talk on that page) while I thought that the course page is where all the students User Pages are linked, and where all discussion takes place. Please clarify and sorry if I didn't RTFM, sometimes I search on WP and don't find the answers although I think they must be there.Robert Kluijver (talk) 09:57, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
The instructions for setting up a course page start here. If any of that is too confusing, please let me know and I'll try to clarify.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:16, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
Thank you Sage Ross for the link. However I have a problem here: I do not have the right to add the name of my institution (Paris School of International Affairs). They asked me not to be involved as an institution until, at least, my trial experience with Wikipedia has been judged successful. Can I create a course page without adding this institution? Robert Kluijver (talk) 21:17, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
I have another pretty urgent question: can I access the sandboxes of my students? And if not, how can they best share their work with me? So I can monitor their progress before they start posting their pages in the encyclopedia?Robert Kluijver (talk) 22:07, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
Yes, you should be able to do this easily. The simplest way to look at what they've been doing is to look at their contribution history, and you'll see their sandboxes listed there, and will be able to click on the links to look at the current state of their sandboxes. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:17, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
Regarding the institution, this is an interesting situation that we've not had before. How about this: create a new institution called "Independent courses" and set your course page up under that. We can change the institution for your course later, if need be.
For contribution monitoring, in addition to the advice others have given you, you should be able to see all your students' sandbox edits using the MyCourses feed: Special:MyCourses. (It will be linked from the word "Courses" next to your watchlist, once you have a course set up and you are signed on as the instructor.) This feed combines most of the contributions (in the article, talk, and user/usertalk namespaces) into a single list, for just the kind of monitoring you want to do.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 00:24, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Sage and Mike for the helpful tips. I have followed your suggestion, created the Paris/France based institution 'Independent Courses' and added my course to it. See Education Program:Independent Courses/Contemporary Art and Geopolitics in the Arab World (Spring 2013) and please let me know if you think it's alright. I will now send the link to my students and ask them to enroll.Robert Kluijver (talk) 09:38, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure why you created the institution as "Independent courses"; shouldn't it be "Institute for Political Studies"? However, it looks fine for your students to enroll -- presumably if you want to change the institution name later Sage will be able to tell you how. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:09, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
Mike, Robert noted above that he isn't allowed to use his institution's name with his course unless/until his first foray with Wikipedia goes well. (Changing the institution is done by simply editing the course page and changing the appropriate field, which will change the page url as well.) Robert, looks like you are already getting started with the course page. Good luck!--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:54, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
  • Hello all, I think this instructor needs a follow up on how to properly create course pages, I've just deleted one from mainspace. Beeblebrox (talk) 01:48, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
Sorry Beelbebrox, what did you delete? I'm glad you didn't delete my course page - or had I attempted to make another one earlier? Please explain. Robert Kluijver (talk) 10:33, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
Beeblebrox is referring to the deletion of Cultural Policies in Qatar focusing on the QMA, one of students' topics.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:16, 5 April 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Circadiansync (talk)

{{User:ClueBot III/ArchiveNow}}

Erik Herzog
Washington University
Course title and description
BIO 4030. Biological Clocks. This course examines how biological rhythms are generated and regulated at the molecular, cellular and systems levels. We will cover the relevance of biological timing to the ecology and health of everything from protozoans to plants to people.
Assignment plan
This project has Bio 4030 students identify wiki sites in need of updating, edit their content, and distribute their information to the world.
Due to length, part of this section is collapsed

Our Timeline:

  • Mar 28: Wiki nominations due on Blackboard.
  • Mar 31: Vote for Top 10 Wiki sites.
  • April 1: Top 19 Wiki sites assigned to students (3-4 students/site).
  • April 11: Edit of first Wiki site due with your team
  • April 18: Critique of another Wiki site due on your own
  • April 25: Re-edit of first Wiki site due with your team

Wikipedia Project: Why do this real-world experiment in editing?

  1. Teach chronobiology to a world-wide audience
  2. Update Wikipedia with current information on chronobiology
  3. Enhance your ability to evaluate the accuracy of scientific writing
  4. Enhance your ability to connect scientific ideas (e.g. by linking out from your wiki site)
  5. Correct errors of omission and content
  6. Experience large-scale collaboration
  7. Practice scientific communication with the public
  8. Master a topic in chronobiology
  9. Have fun editing Wiki sites

Step 1. Nominate two wiki sites for editing (March 28, 60 participation points). Nominate two (one gene and one person) sites that need editing. Think of key genes and people in the field of chronobiology. Look for them in Wikipedia. Evaluate the information for accuracy, gaps of information or logic, sufficient scientific citations, and other features that you expect of high quality scientific writing (See attributes of a good article below). For each gene or person, provide the Wiki URL if it exists. Briefly provide your critique and recommendations for improvement of the two sites. Answer this: Why is this site a top candidate to receive the editing efforts of the students in Bio4030?

Grading (maximum 60 participation points):

  1. Number of sites you nominate (5 points each, maximum 10 points)
  2. Your evaluation of the existing information on Wikipedia (out of 20 points).
  3. Your recommendations for what needs to be done (out of 20 points).
  4. Rank of your sites after the class votes (10 points for 1st, 9 points for 2nd, 8 points for 3rd etc.).

Step 2. Vote for 10 sites in need of editing (due March 31 through the course website). You will vote for 10 sites (5 genes and 5 people) that you would like to edit based on the nominations you read.

Step 3. Edit your first Wiki site (due April 11). You and 2 teammates edit your assigned Wiki site. As a team, you will write a document that summarizes what you did using the “Wiki Project Grading Rubric” as a guide. Submit your team’s summary through Blackboard.

Grading. Your team will be graded after editing an assigned Wikipedia site (50 points). You must show that you understand: 1) how to use Pubmed, Web of Science Citation Index, and Google Scholar and 2) how to effectively communicate current scientific knowledge to the public. You must make substantial improvements to your Wiki. It is more about what you add than what you don’t add to the site.

Scientific accuracy

  1. Rewarded for correction of incorrect facts or stating common errors or misconceptions
  2. Rewarded for clarification of confusing phrases
  3. Rewarded for adding (updating) knowledge
  4. Rewarded for identifying what is not known
  5. Rewarded for disambiguation of a definition

Quality of organization and presentation

  1. Rewarded for organizing the topics in a logical manner
  2. Rewarded for correcting typos and grammatical errors
  3. Rewarded for being clear and concise, and complying with the Wiki Manual of Style

Quality of citations

  1. Rewarded for each new citation (up to 10)
  2. Rewarded for following the Wiki guidelines for scientific citations.

Originality (remember, we only report what has been shown; we do not introduce our own ideas).

  • Rewarded for creative presentation of information
  • Rewarded for linking to or from related topics (e.g. publications, another Wiki page, etc.)

Step 4. Critique another Wiki site. Individually, you will offer suggestions for improvements to an assigned Wiki site (due April 18 as a document submitted through Blackboard). Grading according to the “Grading Rubric for Wiki Critiques.”

Step 5. Edit your first Wiki site AGAIN. Finally, you and your teammates will revisit your first Wiki site and make improvements (due April 25). Do your best to respond to the critiques provided by your peers. Grading same as Step 3. As a team, you will write a document that summarizes what you did using the “Wiki Project Grading Rubric” as a guide. Submit your team’s summary through Blackboard.

Seek to comply with the following attributes of an informative wiki entry.

Attributes of a good article on a circadian gene:

  • How big is the gene? How many introns and exons?
  • Who discovered the gene and when?
  • How is the gene related to chronobiology?
  • On which chromosome (human or other species) is the gene located?
  • Any orthologs? Any paralogs?
  • Interesting evolutionary history (e.g. duplication; repeated sequences)?
  • Are there known natural mutations in the gene? Are they associated with disease or not?
  • What is the protein encoded by the gene? Any interesting motifs?
  • Any notable post-translational modifications?
  • Are their known interactors (e.g. other proteins) with your protein?
  • What is the function of the protein in chronobiogy?
  • Does it have known functions outside of chronobiology?
  • What are the Pubmed number & link, Entrez # & link, Genecard link, Ensemble link & #?
  • How is expression of the gene regulated?
  • What current research is being done on the gene?

Attributes of a good article on a circadian researcher:

  • Personal information (e.g. Date of birth and death, nationality)
  • Academic and occupational summary/resume
  • Scientific achievements with dates (summary of hypothesis, methods, results)
  • Contributions to new theories, models, inventions, etc.
  • Current status of their theories, models, inventions, etc.
  • Factors that led to their scientific achievements
  • Factors that impeded their scientific achievements
  • Problems with their scientific achievements
  • Applications of scientific achievements (to the every day life or other areas of science)
  • Relationships to others (collaborators and/or competitors)
  • Common misconceptions of person or of his/her scientific endeavor
  • Awards and honors (please focus only on a few major recognitions)
  • Scientific turning points or defining moments
  • Failed projects or experiments
  • Scientific opinions on concepts that may not have been explored yet
Number of students
Start and end dates
March 28-May 5, 2013

--Circadiansync (talk) 00:14, 28 March 2013 (UTC)

Wikicode fixed by Riley Huntley (talk) at 04:56, 28 March 2013 (UTC). For the original version, see this diff. -- Cheers, Riley 04:56, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment This looks like a viable project. Our basic article on circadian rhythms is reasonably strong, though far from complete, so students should avoid working on it unless they are prepared to read the whole article and properly integrate their material. One additional point I would like to make is that, after having watched the dynamics of several class projects, I believe that professors don't really understand what they are asking their students to do unless they have themselves done a certain amount of wiki-editing, so I suggest that Erik start by himself making a few edits of the sort he would like to see his students make. Looie496 (talk) 17:08, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
  • Comments and questions. Erik, thanks for posting. We'd love to have you here. I'm a little concerned, though, that some aspects of the article assignment need improvement (as does Wikipedia itself, so thanks for showing up)! For example, this is not a place for resumes. Your students will probably just receive gripes and have a bad experience from other editors if they post them. Generally, I doubt an article on a circadian researcher could justifiably be so detailed, unless of course the person is prominent enough to have a book written about them, for example. (The Alfred Russel Wallace article is an example of a high-quality biography of a researcher.) You might already be aware, but we don't base articles here off of primary sources, ones that are affiliated with the subject. Third-party sources are ideal for noteworty facts to ensure to our readers we are covering encyclopedic details. I assume the critiques students are required to perform by April 18th will be posted on the talk pages of each article, right? Anyhow, it seems like you could use a helping hand. Do you need help constructing a course page? Best wishes. Biosthmors (talk) 19:59, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
    • I also just noticed , which talks about classroom editing from the same university. Too bad that class (Wikipedia:USEP/Courses/Behavioral Ecology (Joan Strassmann)) appears to mandate only primary sources. The article also claims "Good articles in the sciences, at least, are ultimately grounded in citations from the peer-viewed primary literature." Has anyone discussed WP:Secondary with Strassmann previously? If anyone sends an email to Strassmann please be super polite and note it here because we don't want to bombard or come off the wrong way to anyone. I am about to send an email to Erik to let him know I replied here. Biosthmors (talk) 22:16, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
    • Actually, Agelaia (talk · contribs) is Strassmann, and they have made a couple edits in March, which is refreshing, so I'll post about this at her talk page. Biosthmors (talk) 22:20, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
    Is is possible that different definitions of "primary" are being used here? I realize that WP:MEDRS directs that articles should be based largely on literature reviews, for obvious reasons, but it's not clear to me that the same imperatives exist in other sciences. To pluck an example from my own quiver, I would consider it an unacceptable primary source if I started adding to Adiantum viridimontanum based on my own lab notebook, but removing all of the sources "in which the authors directly participated in the research" from that article would obviously destroy its quality to no clear gain in accuracy. I would think similar considerations would hold for many non-medical biology articles. Choess (talk) 23:19, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
WP:SCIRS mentions that review articles are ideal sources. Review articles are a type of secondary source. Biosthmors (talk) 23:54, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
  • CommentI am currently a student in Biological Clocks and was hoping to be granted instructor's rights to create the course page. I talked to my instructor Circadiansync (talk · contribs) and Wikipedia ambassador Biosthmors (talk · contribs) and offered to take on this project. Since Dr. Herzog already requested the creation of the course page, I thought I would reach out through this talk page. Please let me know what the next step is! Thank you so much for your help! SGL333 22:11, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
  • Endorse as online ambassador; Circadiansync shall receive the 'instructor' userright momentarily. —Theopolisme (talk) 11:07, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
  •  Done by admin |. —Theopolisme (talk) 20:55, 2 April 2013 (UTC)

Request for feedback on Wiki Education Foundation governance

The Wiki Education Foundation is the organization that is proposed to take over the coordination role of the US/Canada Education Program from the WMF after June of this year. It's applying for thematic organization status; the proposal is here.

There is a question I would like to get specific feedback on from the editors involved with the EP. The board is intended to be made of three people who represent the Wikipedia community, three who represent the educator community, one from the WMF, and one who represents chapters and any additional groups that form with a specific interest in education and Wikipedia (e.g. there might be a group that focuses on one university or one academic discipline). There are four more optional appointed seats.

It's going to be fairly easy to select Wikipedians -- some form of on-wiki election will work. But how should we plan to get educators on the board, and who should select them? Should the educators be elected by the Wikipedia community plus educators, or by educators only, or should they be selected by the board, or is there some other method we should follow? I can think of pros and cons for all three options. Allowing the community to vote on educator seats will almost certainly overwhelm the few votes of the educators, but on the other hand this is a role that will affect the community, so they should have a say. Voting by educators only is more likely to give us educators that have the support of the other educators in the community, and in any case they only constitute three of the eight to twelve seats, so they can't be a majority; on the other hand very few educators are sufficiently interested or knowledgeable about the program now and would have no basis for voting for any particular candidate. Selections by the board will solve the problem of there being a small group of educators involved, since the board can search out candidates with the skills it needs; but this is the least democratic approach (though the board, with multiple Wikipedians on it, will have that perspective in its selection process).

Any comments? The exact method of the elections doesn't have to be decided now -- it's more a question of what's the appropriate electorate for this group of board members. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:18, 31 March 2013 (UTC)

I doubt that educators would be able to contribute usefully unless they have experience both in education and in working with Wikipedia. If you set both of those as criteria, I think the number of candidates is not going to be very large. Looie496 (talk) 15:36, 31 March 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure that's true. There are two professors on the current interim board; both have taught using Wikipedia but have limited editing experience themselves. They've been extremely valuable to the board. If you include teaching with Wikipedia in "experience ... in working with Wikipedia" then you may be right, though I think the right person, with the right contacts, might still be valuable to the board if they were motivated but had little direct experience of working with it. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 21:29, 31 March 2013 (UTC)
"...both have taught using Wikipedia but have limited editing experience themselves." Ummm... how? I see this as the primary cause of some previous problems with professors assigning Wikipedia editing in classes; they didn't actually have a damn clue how it functions. I'm not a brain surgeon, but I have the sense to know that glancing through a book about synapses doesn't mean I'd then be able to teach brain surgery. Presenting pre-vetted candidates to the community for voting makes sense to me. We would thus need info on each candidate, much like the requests for course instructor right shows that they "get it". --Geniac (talk) 03:38, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
I agree that professors who don't "get it" are the most likely to cause problems. The two professors on the board right now are BobCummings (talk · contribs) and DStrassmann (talk · contribs); you can see for yourself what their contributions history is. Diana Strassmann is teaching a class this semester: Poverty, Gender, and Human Development. I haven't worked with Bob's classes directly, but Diana's students do good work. Both Bob and Diana have been absolutely invaluable on the board, and I wouldn't want to see criteria that would prevent us from electing educators like them. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:17, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
It would be good if you could summarize their contributions, because as you say their input on-wiki has been minimal at best. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 21:39, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
I don't think I can summarize their contributions, but I'd like to mention a couple of things as examples of what they have contributed. Not all relevant experience for our purposes is on-wiki experience, so I'll mention a couple of non-Wikipedia related items first: Bob is helping with the budget planning; he has experience with budgeting using the accounting system at his institution, and is using that GL breakdown to put the initial line items together; and Diana has prior experience being on the board of a non-profit and was the person who located the pro bono lawyer for us, which is going to save us a good deal of money. Both of them are also working on locating an academic institution where we might become embedded in an existing office infrastructure, rather than having to run our own admin, payroll, accounting and so on; I can't be specific since so far these are just inquiries, but this is one of the most important things we can get done this spring. (These are just examples; they have both been significant contributors in many ways throughout the past year.) As far as Wikipedia-related experience is concerned I suggest anyone interested review their courses to see if what they've done has been beneficial to the encyclopedia -- we argue, rightly, that failing to "get" Wikipedia is likely to lead to harmful classes, and to me that implies the reverse: running successful classes means that the instructor "gets" Wikipedia. (I've worked with Diana's students but not Bob's.) In addition, take a look at Wikipedia:Communicate OER which Bob is involved with. I can't pull examples out of the past year of discussion that illustrate their (or anyone else's) contributions to the Wikipedia-related aspects of the discussions but they have been valuable members of the team. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 08:36, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
These all sound like marvellous reasons for the Board to co-opt such people among the four members that it has allocated to self-select. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 16:15, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
I think Mike did a nice job of laying out the various pluses and minuses. I suppose one option would be for the Board to do an initial screening, and then present a group of pre-vetted candidates to the Wikipedia community for voting. One question I have might help figure out the right answer to the question Mike asks: how would the candidates be presented to whoever votes? In other words, what kinds of information about each educator candidate would accompany the ballots? I'm wondering about that because I'm trying to figure how Wikipedians would evaluate one educator candidate versus another, and likewise how other educators would evaluate one from another. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:57, 31 March 2013 (UTC)
That's two people who've suggested a shortlist; I think that could work. How about the electorate -- do educators vote on educators, and Wikipedians on Wikipedians, or do both vote on both? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:17, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
To clarify, the question is should we combine the electorates for editors and involved educators, so that together as a combined community they elect 50% of the Wiki Education Foundation board (with of those selected, three seats having editor credentials and three having educator credentials)? Or do we separate them, so that each elects 25%?--Pharos (talk) 20:57, 1 April 2013 (UTC)

I'd have thought this would be fairly easy: have one election, on wiki, with the stipulation that three of the people elected must be educators (defined in some fashion or another: does this include librarians, contract staff, TAs, etc.). I can't say I like the sound of "pre-vetted candidates," especially as the board is self-selecting four additional members in any case. Those seats can be used for non-contributing faculty such as Bob and Diana, if the board feels it fit. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 21:39, 1 April 2013 (UTC)

  • I suggest that we consider approaching profs who have published at least some work in the field of how to teach their field. People who know a little pedagogic theory. Gender and geographic balance would be a bonus. Stuartyeates (talk) 22:54, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
  • The role of the educator members should be to represent the wider community of educators. I can't see any sort of election that will make that happen (an election restricted to educators is likely to suffer from low participation), so my preference would be for the board to pick those members. Looie496 (talk) 16:27, 2 April 2013 (UTC)

Online Ambassador application: Go Phightins!

{{User:ClueBot III/ArchiveNow}}

Go Phightins!

Go Phightins! (talk · contribs)

  1. Why do you want to be a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    I think that I have a good skill set for this kind of work which is shown in my work in adoption and at the Teahouse. I am looking for a new challenge and think that I would enjoy this type of interaction and would be pretty good at it too.
  2. In three sentences or less, summarize your involvement with Wikimedia projects.
    I am active at the baseball WikiProject and am semi-active at the politics WikiProject and the the American football WikiProject and have totaled seven good articles and five did you know articles. Outside of article space, I am active at the Teahouse, where I have had several stints as maitre d' and have adopted probably somewhere between 5 and 10 new users in the past four or so months. I founded the editor of the week project and would like to think that I am pretty good in editor retention. There's my three sentences, so that's all for now.
  3. Please indicate a few articles to which you have made significant content contributions. (e.g. DYK, GA, FA, major revisions/expansions/copyedits).
    This page lists all of my promoted content, but probably the best work I have done is on Jim Thome, which is currently a featured article candidate and if it passes will be my first FA. I usually take a stub or start-class article and bring it up as far as my interest and sources I can find will take it. I did some work on articles related to the 2012 College Football Bowl season such as 2012 New Mexico Bowl and 2013 Cotton Bowl Classic.
  4. How have you been involved with welcoming and helping new users on Wikipedia?
    As mentioned, I have done a lot of work at the Teahouse and am involved in the adopt-a-user program.
  5. What do you see as the most important ways we could welcome newcomers or help new users become active contributors?
    I think that helping new users resolve disputes amicably and making editing something that is fun rather than work would be the best way to engage them. Also, I think that, especially early on, some positive reinforcement (e.g., barnstars) makes users feel valued, and if someone feels valued, they will want to keep coming back.
  6. Have you had major conflicts with other editors? Blocks or bans? Involvement in arbitration? Feel free to offer context, if necessary.
    The biggest conflict I had was in October with a new user with whom I edit conflicted on his new page. I did not communicate as well as I could have, but he eventually was blocked for a battleground mentality and has not been back since. Interestingly, I was just re-reading this dispute earlier today before I even decided to apply as an ambassador. Other than that slight hiccup, I think that I have stayed relatively conflict-free.
  7. How often do you edit Wikipedia and check in on ongoing discussions? Will you be available regularly for at least two hours per week, in your role as a mentor?
    I am online in one way or another for at least two hours per day and keep me watchlist open whenever my browser is open refreshing periodically, so I usually respond to queries quickly...I occasionally am away for a few days at a time, but when I am I leave a template on my talk page to let people know and as soon as I get back I respond to whatever I missed.
  8. How would you make sure your students were not violating copyright laws?
    After I see a contribution, I would copy a couple of sentences to the clipboard and simply google it and see if it came up elsewhere online. If so, it is likely a copyright violation. When a student uses offline sources such as books, that would be harder for me to check...I would probably see if I could find a copy of the book online and if not perhaps check the library. Other than that, I would just have to assume good faith.
  9. If one of your students had an issue with copyright violation how would you resolve it?
    First and foremost, the copyright violation needs to be removed as soon as possible, so removing that would be priority number one. After removal, then a discussion can be initiated with the editor to discuss the issue. There is no need to beat the editor up over it, just make it clear that copyright violations are not acceptable.
  10. In your _own_ words describe what copyright violation is.
    A copyright violation is when someone takes what is not their own and claims it as their own. There are a few obvious exceptions (public domain, fair use), but generally speaking, if it isn't yours, you shouldn't be copying it.
  11. What else should we know about you that is relevant to being a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    Nothing is coming to mind...


(Two endorsements are needed for online ambassador approval.)

  • Support Certainly a good choice for something like this. Very good helping new users. Very good in general. AutomaticStrikeout (TCAAPT) 03:11, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. Looks fine to me; I looked over a couple of interactions with new users and miscellaneous other edits and see no problems. Experienced enough. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 08:06, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
  • Green tickY Done! Kevin Rutherford (talk) 02:57, 4 April 2013 (UTC)
    • Thanks. What do I need to do to get started? Go Phightins! 20:50, 4 April 2013 (UTC)

Ambassador vs. volunteer

Is the education program moving away from the word ambassador and towards the word volunteer? Special:CampusAmbassadors and Special:OnlineAmbassadors now appear as Special:CampusVolunteers and Special:OnlineVolunteers. Biosthmors (talk) 18:19, 2 April 2013 (UTC)

I'm trying to make the software as general as possible, since the extension is being used beyond just the Wikipedia Education Program. (The userrights were renamed to course online volunteer and course campus volunteer a while ago, but some of the other renaming was on the backburner and just got done.) Online Ambassadors are still Online Ambassadors, but now (if the community wants) we can have other people using the extension is other ways, without necessarily having to be official Wikipedia Ambassadors. So the idea is decouple the software from the ambassador program and the US/Canada Education Program, since (per the RfC for enabling the course page extension) the software isn't supposed to be exclusive.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 18:29, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
That makes sense. Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 19:06, 2 April 2013 (UTC)