Wikipedia:Education noticeboard/Archive 4

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Who's on the board?

Sorry, can someone point me who's on the board of the new thematic organisation please? And is there a summary page somewhere that explains where the organisation is at? Cheers. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 03:06, 5 April 2013 (UTC)

Please see meta:Wiki Education Foundation and meta:Wiki Education Foundation#Members of the Initial Board. We also hope to have a draft bylaws ready in the next week or two.--Pharos (talk) 03:29, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Pharos. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 04:58, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
For what it's worth, I've made Template:Wikipedia Education Program sidebar link there. Biosthmors (talk) 21:40, 6 April 2013 (UTC)

Copyright problems at cross-race effect from Davidson college

I have just discovered that almost all content added to cross-race effect by the students of the Education Program:Davidson College/Cognitive Psychology (2013 Q1) was in violation of copyright of the used source. Full sentences were simply copied verbatim, and most others only slightly changed. I had to eliminate all content as a precaution (20.000 k).

--Garrondo (talk) 21:30, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

Thanks, Garrondo. I've sent an email to the professor and have recommended she make herself available here to work on the best next steps. Thanks for bringing this here. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 22:34, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for finding that. The professor has stated the issue will be addressed.Smallman12q (talk) 01:37, 9 April 2013 (UTC)

Best course pages?

Ideally, I think we should have a variety of good course pages that the community highlights as examples for instructors to copy, paste, and adapt (as long as that's not plagiarism ;-)). I know we have Wikipedia:Ambassadors/Courses/Trophy case. Maybe we could put a list of high-quality course pages there and/or elsewhere. What course pages do people think are the best examples? Biosthmors (talk) 21:33, 9 April 2013 (UTC)

Might be more useful to use a Course Page that is within the new education extension, since, presumably, that's what the new professors would use. Diana's Course Page isn't bad, at least as a model for having students enroll, select articles, and review each other's work. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 20:04, 11 April 2013 (UTC)
I suggest we have a variety of models, from within and outside the education program. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 20:44, 11 April 2013 (UTC)
That makes sense. Just remember that any educators can use the education extension, whether they're affiliated with the program or not. It's seriously been such a useful tool for me, and I'm excited that we're going to put more work into making it even better over the summer. I'm also hoping to put together some tips on using it effectively, since I know I've already been using it every day. Hopefully we'll encourage all educators to use it at that point. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 00:40, 12 April 2013 (UTC)

Hong Kong course?

Is anyone aware of a Hong Kong based course running at the moment? I've just come across this, which was distinctly remeniscient of this; both look a lot like class projects (there's a note confirming this at Talk:Feng Yu bo). No major problems yet, but if we're going to see an influx of articles on minor Hong Kong "characters" it would be good to know in advance. Yunshui  13:04, 11 April 2013 (UTC)

Tsim Tung Brother Cream may be part of the same class project, if a class project it is... Yunshui  13:08, 11 April 2013 (UTC)

What do you want to know from a student survey?

Soon, I'm going to deliver an invitation to take a survey about their Wikipedia assignment experience to all the students in classes this term (the ones using the extension course pages). In the past, we've sent out fairly elaborate email surveys that got passed to students by the instructors (like this). But the data from that hasn't been particularly useful, so this time around we want to try having the survey completely on-wiki. This way, everyone can see the responses as they come in and learn what we can from them. It also gets us a more representative set of responses, since each student gets invited in the same way and at the same time.

Here is the set of survey questions:

Which class were you in?


What did you have the most trouble with?


Did you take the "Training for Students" before you started your assignment? If so, how well did it prepare you for editing?


Is there anything you really wish you'd been told right when you were starting?


What kind of feedback did you get from classmates and other Wikipedia editors? Did you review the work of other students?


Did you get specific instructions about copyright and plagiarism before beginning your assignment? How does Wikipedia's treatment of copyright and plagiarism issues match up with what you expected?


Did you follow what happened to your article and its talk page after you made your edits? Do you plan to keep an eye on how it evolves after your course ends?


Did you feel that your work on Wikipedia mattered? Did it matter more or less than a regular term paper or essay?


Do you plan to keep editing Wikipedia on your own? If so, what will you work on? (If you'd be interested in training to become a Wikipedia Ambassador to help other students get started on Wikipedia, say so here and we'll follow up with you.)


Are there any editors you'd like to thank for their help?


Any other feedback you'd like to share?



Suggestions for improving the survey questions are welcome. I'd like to spam the students (using this invitation delivered to their talk pages) on Wednesday, April 8.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:43, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

Presumably you meant Wednesday, April 10. Looie496 (talk) 15:35, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
Whoops! Yes, Wednesday the 10th. Thanks for any feedback you guys can give us. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 16:45, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
The level of collaboration and peer review within each class seems critical. You might consider asking some of the following:
  • Did you work alone or in a group? If a group: what size? automatable
  • Did you review the work of other students?
  • Did you get feedback from TAs or professors while you were working? ask TAs
  • Did you edit continuously or in a few brief bursts? automatable
– SJ + 16:52, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
Hmm. Can you say why the more complex questionnaire wasn't useful? Too many free-form answers? Anyhow, I'd like to know:
  • Do you know what a "watchlist" is? If so, did you have one? Did you check it?
  • Did you feel that your work on Wikipedia mattered? Did it matter more or less than a regular term paper or essay?
  • How would you describe the differences between writing on Wikipedia and writing a regular term paper?
  • What criticisms do you have of Wikipedia as an encyclopedia and source of information?
  • Do you think that Wikipedia has a problem with plagiarism?
I fear, however, that we run the risk of making this (again) a rather complicated survey. But I guess I'd like to know in general terms a) how comfortable they felt with the technical processes of Wikipedia (I found that rather few of my students were ever really very comfortable with everything from templates to talk pages to watch lists) and b) whether their attitude to writing on Wikipedia is different from their attitude to other forms of academic writing--and whether that might make them more or less likely specifically to plagiarize.
As an aside, I should say that I think one of the problems is that students think writing on Wikipedia matters less, for a variety of reasons some of which are "our" fault (e.g. when we point out, perhaps trying to reduce their initial anxiety, that anything can be reverted); I suspect that a higher incidence of plagiarism is one of the consequences of this attitude. But I don't know, so would appreciate a well-designed survey that looked into this. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:22, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
To clarify a bit, it was useful the first few times we used it. But now the responses are fairly stable from term to term and we're not getting as much useful information from it that can be used to adjust the program. The free-form details in the student responses are interesting each term, but they aren't easy to share when we do the surveys through Google Docs and aren't easy to aggregate.
@SJ, much of that information can be easily found out by looking at which class they were in and what their assignment was. Do you have a particular reason that you want answers to those things in students' own words?
@Jbmurray, I particularly like the "did your work matter?" question, and your hypothesis that the usual answer is that "it matters less than other assignments" is worth testing. The general question of how comfortable they feel (by this point in the term) with the technical aspects of editing is also interesting, although with the Visual Editor hopefully in place by the the 2013 Q3 term, making specific interventions based on answers to that question is probably moot). The others seem like they are more aimed at testing students' understanding of Wikipedia rather than soliciting feedback that can be used to make changes on our end. I'll add the 'how it mattered' question now.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 18:16, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
FWIW, the watchlist question is trying less to test their understanding of Wikipedia, than to see how they approach the editing. I think most (at least at the beginning, but perhaps also near the end) plunge in and out. I think it's worth teaching them to see what's changed (probably there should be a question about whether they understand the "page history" or "diffs") and whether, for instance, there is new discussion on a talk page. I found that this took a long time for students to understand, and this prevented them sometimes from interacting well. But there are no doubt better ways to get at this. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 18:49, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
I'd like to hear which students feel they reviewed the work of others. Some will simply have been reading their classmates' work, others may have been asked to or may have had a close partnership with one other student. The rest seem automatable (from the course description) or a question for the TAs. But useful data to be aggregating. – SJ + 18:23, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
I've added a somewhat broader questions, with that as one part: "What kind of feedback did you get from classmates and other Wikipedia editors? Did you review the work of other students?". Sound good? --Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 18:40, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
Broader and better. – SJ + 04:36, 9 April 2013 (UTC)
You know, one thing I wonder regularly is whether the students are searching for existing articles before they start creating a new one/editing in the sandbox. You can tell pretty easily in some sandboxes that they have copied the existing article there first before expanding, but you can also see, at least as frequently, completely new text on existing topics. I think this could be useful to add into the training, but we may not want to take time to add that in if it turns out most students are doing the necessary Wikipedia research in the first place. So maybe we could add something like "Did you search Wikipedia for articles related to yours before finalizing a topic?". I think professors assume their students will do that, but I'm not sure it's always the case. This would seem helpful to me, though maybe not enough to add to a brief survey. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 19:12, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
Sage, thanks for asking here. Some things I might be interested in are:
  • Did the students edit under their own names or under made-up user names?
  • Did they feel that their personal anonymity was adequately protected?
  • Did anyone explain to them ahead of time about copyright and plagiarism?
  • Did they feel that their teacher or teaching assistant actually read what they wrote on Wikipedia?
  • After making their edit(s), how many times did they look back to see if there was any reaction to what they did?
--Tryptofish (talk) 20:20, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
That's a lot of questions. Could you expand a bit on why you're interested in these ones and how they might inform how the education program is run? (They are interesting questions, but I'm inclined not to include most of them for the sake of a survey that isn't inordinately long.) I do think that some kind of question that gets at students' perspectives on plagiarism and copyvio would be a useful addition, since (as we've solved other problems) copyvio and plagiarism has emerged as probably the most significant area that needs improvement in the education program. Getting some detailed feedback on that point from students could help us revamp the training materials and recommendations for professors. It's interesting that many students say after finishing the student training that the copyvio/plagiarism section was unnecessary (because of course, that's just common sense), but we know from experience that it's quite necessary in many cases.
I'll try to think of a more general question to elicit students' perspectives on copyright violation and plagiarism.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:30, 9 April 2013 (UTC)
I added this: "Was copyright violation or plagiarism an issue for your class? How does Wikipedia's treatment of copyright and plagiarism issues match up with what you expected?" I'm not entirely happy with the wording; alternative suggestions for getting at this issue are welcome.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:37, 9 April 2013 (UTC)
"copyvio and plagiarism has emerged as probably the most significant area that needs improvement in the education program." Indeed, and this has been the case for some time... at least since the Pune project. Moreover, it was (as I recall) the main thing that came up at the RFC on the Education Program. As I've said before (and I feel I say "as I've said before" so often that I need a template so I don't wear out those particular keys on my keyboard) the irony is that plagiarism is also probably the number one reason why Wikipedia is distrusted in academia. Academics worry that students will plagiarize from Wikipedia, and feel that Wikipedians don't much care. Wikipedians worry that students will add plagiarism to Wikipedia, and in turn feel that academics don't much care. What ensues is a dialogue of the deaf with mutual recriminations. And yet at root both sides share the same concerns. What to do about this? I think there should be a proper dialogue, and no doubt decent research. But probably also some kind of "plagiarism summit" in which the issues are addressed at length and disagreements are aired openly. Anyhow, just my .2c. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 16:09, 9 April 2013 (UTC)
I'd only add that the other problem that (it seems to me) perennially plagues education projects is a failure of communication. Wikipedians are frustrated when students and/or professors don't use talk pages and/or other customary means of communication on-wiki. Students and academics find precisely those customary means of communication cumbersome and frustrating. This leads to break-downs in communication that only worsens other issues that come up. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 16:09, 9 April 2013 (UTC)
I'm largely in agreement here on both points (without quibbling over when plagiarism became the most significant problem for the US/Canada programs). I'm very hopeful that the Notifications (formerly Echo) features will do a lot to improve the typical communication problems. LiAnna and I are also looking into some ways to get a better quantitative picture of the plagiarism issue.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:37, 9 April 2013 (UTC)
A lot of people would be interested in hearing more about that. I was thinking just before you posted this that the next time the EP hires a statistical analyst, the thing to focus on would be the incidence of plagiarism. It's incredibly time-consuming work, though. What do you have in mind? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:47, 9 April 2013 (UTC)
I don't want to set too high of expectations, because we're not yet sure that all the parts of it will come together and produce usable results. But the basic idea is to contract out that incredibly time-consuming work of checking individual articles for plagiarism, and compare students' articles with those of other cohorts of editors.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:59, 9 April 2013 (UTC)
I think the statistical analysis is important, but I'm convinced that this is a cultural issue. (I would say that, wouldn't I?) I.e. it's a question of how students see their contributions to Wikipedia (and indeed also to their other work at university) plus how that work is framed by those of us who teach educational projects. I also think that there are many different things going on, which makes things more complex. But most of this is a hunch, which is why I welcome and am interested to see the results of such surveys. On the other hand, I suspect that focus groups (organized and facilitated with care) might be a more effective way of getting at things... which also fits in with the notion of a "plagiarism summit." --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:01, 9 April 2013 (UTC)
I'm not really sure what comparing plagiarism rates of students with other cohorts will tell you. It would be extremely difficult not to bring in other confounding factors such as pop-culture topics vs "serious" topics, literature topics vs science topics, levels of education, and fluency in English. Then there's the variability of actually being able to detect the plagiarism. There's a tendency here to compare student editors with newbies that I think is unhelpful as often it seems the main purpose is to prove they are no worse than newbies so "that's all right then" or that we should treat them just like newbies (and be criticised if we don't). What interests me wrt plagiarism is designing assessments and training that help students both learn about plagiarism and to avoid it. For example, if one is condensing several pages of source text into a few sentences, it is far easier to avoid plagiarism than if one is writing at the same level of detail as the source. If one is already a subject expert (and merely using the source to confirm the facts rather than learn them for the first time) it is far easier to write original text. If one has access to several sources rather than just one, it is easier to achieve original text without introducing errors when trying to alter the language used. And so on. The UoT class assignment is a good example of an assignment with all the variables set to guarantee high levels of plagiarism. More advanced students, writing material that condenses multiple sources should therefore have lower rates of plagiarism. Colin°Talk 13:40, 12 April 2013 (UTC)
I think you're replying to Mike, rather than to me... But let me say that I'm less interested in comparing student editors to other Wikipedia editors (though I do find that interesting, for other reasons; we should also want to know when and why other editors, newbies amongst them, plagiarize) than in comparing student behaviour on Wikipedia and off. Yes that may bring in "other confounding factors," too, but I think that's important. And yes, there's the matter of teaching them what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. But Joordens tells us (and I have no reason to doubt him) that his students were indeed told what plagiarism was and told not to do it; but they went ahead anyway. Finally, I'm not particularly sure it's about beginning vs advanced students: you'd like to hope so, but some of the worst plagiarism I've had in my Wikipedia classes has come from graduate students. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 15:01, 12 April 2013 (UTC)
My point about beginning students perhaps applies more to technical writing than other topics -- they have none of their own knowledge and understanding of the topic to fall back on when trying to write original text. Many of Joordens' class seem to have very poor English skills too (international students?). This makes it very easy with technical writing to make a substitution that completely changes the meaning of the text -- something much less likely to happen with a biography, say, where the writing is everyday English. I think it a little unfair to say they "went ahead anyway" without seeing what teaching material they got. Some students (elsewhere) have commented they thought that the citation was sufficient attribution to allow them to copy/paste. My feeling is only exceptional students would have managed that assignment without plagiarising. I'm disappointed that you've found more senior students with this problem as they should have more experience in avoiding it and less excuse for finding original writing hard. Anyway, my overall point is that assignments should be designed to minimise plagiarism -- it clearly isn't effective enough to just hand students a plagiarism handout or do a 20 minute talk. And again, my feeling is that it is entirely the college/class responsibility to detect plagiarism because it is nearly impossible for Wikipedians to do this effectively, even if there were enough of them and they were motivated to do so. Colin°Talk 19:12, 12 April 2013 (UTC)
I'm responding here to what Sage asked me. First, as I'm sure you already realize, I'm not insisting on any of those questions if they would make the survey too long. I was just reacting to what you asked in opening this thread. But here are my reasons, some of which have already been brought up by other editors just above. The user names and confidentiality questions come out of what WoodSnake has been saying about his objections to letting us know which users are students in his class. I think we agree that a question about copyright and plagiarism is useful. Where you ask about the wording of your version, I'd be disinclined to ask students whether it was an issue for them, so you might perhaps substitute my suggested question for your first question, while retaining your second question – that combination would get at how well or poorly we are getting students to understand the issues. My second-to-last question gets at something many of us wonder about: whether sometimes instructors just dump their students on us. But of course it's not something we can directly control. My last question interests me because it gets at whether students just make an edit to get their course credit and then go away, or whether they stick around to make sure they can respond to any concerns brought up by other editors. Speaking personally, if I were to prune my list to two questions, it would be that last one plus the copyright and plagiarism one. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:31, 9 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, that's helpful. I've reworded the copyright question, and added something along the lines of your last one. I'll be setting a bot to deliver the invitations soon, so we can watch Wikipedia:Wikipedia Education Program/Surveys/Students as responses come in. (We could also change the questions at any point, if it seems like specific questions aren't generating useful answers or could be reworded to focus on key issues. The questions are preloaded at the time the user clicks the "take the survey" button.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:37, 10 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, it looks good! --Tryptofish (talk) 22:41, 10 April 2013 (UTC)

Survey tool?

Are you considering using Jeroen's survey tool, or securepoll (used here in transparent mode :)? That can be easier than responding to a talkpage section, even if the results are all freeform answers. – SJ + 18:30, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

I hadn't, for this time around. How hard is that to set up? I was going for something barebones, since it's been successful so far with the training feedback system in my opinion. (See the end of the training, and the feedback page.) But for the future, I'm talking with Yuvi Panda about finishing up the work he did with Steven Zhang to generalize the .js behind the dispute resolution request form so that it could be used for user-friendly input forms for populating complex templates, completing surveys like this, and all kinds of other stuff.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 18:40, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
The Survey extension should be easy to set up: (you might ask Tim Starling what he thinks about this use case, since securepoll is already installed on en:wp whereas the survey extension is not.) – SJ + 04:35, 9 April 2013 (UTC)

Survey Proofreading

For the heck of it, I just did a little proofreading on the Google Docs spreadsheet survey form, and in the section regarding online ambassadors, "assignment" is incorrectly spelled "assignmnet". Before we give this out, it would be good to check spelling :) Go Phightins! 19:40, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

Whoops! I'm not sure who gets blamed for that one, but that's the version that went out last time; we're not planning to use Google Docs this time around.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:12, 9 April 2013 (UTC)
I'm sure it was me :). JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 17:10, 9 April 2013 (UTC)

Invitations sent, responses coming in

The invitations to take the survey got delivered to the talk pages of the ~1200 students current enrolled on EP: course pages. You can monitor responses as they come in here: Wikipedia:Wikipedia Education Program/Surveys/Students. As I noted above, we can change the questions at any point and the most recent version will be used for each student who clicks the "take the survey" link.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 19:02, 10 April 2013 (UTC)

I'm curious what % of the grade could be classified as one's own "publication" vs. one's own review of other articles. I am under the impression that, system wide, a larger emphasis on the quality of peer reviews should be boosted in the terms of the grade %. Let's ask: What percent of your grade was based upon either 1) you peer reviewing articles you did not contribute to and 2) you addressing the reviews of others on an article you edited? Please add these two components, if they exist, together. Biosthmors (talk) 23:09, 10 April 2013 (UTC)
I made that edit. I copy-edited one question into the one I asked. I think the reviewing portion should be at least half. In my mind, an ideal assignment might be 25% for your contribution to an article (and prose could be reduced if that improves the article). 50% for posting reviews. 25% you addressing reviews and making further changes to articles. Biosthmors (talk) 23:16, 10 April 2013 (UTC)
Isn't that really a question for the professors (and/or could be answered by looking through the course pages)? What do you want to learn specifically from a student perspective with that question?--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 23:52, 10 April 2013 (UTC)
Good questions/points. It seems better leaving it out. Biosthmors (talk) 01:00, 11 April 2013 (UTC)

Funniest answer

Did you take the "Training for Students" before you started your assignment? If so, how well did it prepare you for editing? No, but I did attend training sessions. They were fun, but I was already familiar with the basics of Wikipedia editing and its format, having been an anonymous contributor since I was a child.

One feels really old after reading that...--Garrondo (talk) 15:04, 11 April 2013 (UTC)

I tried to 'like' your comment and then remembered we don't have that feature :). JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 21:21, 11 April 2013 (UTC)
👍 Like --Tryptofish (talk) 21:42, 11 April 2013 (UTC)
Yes! JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 00:41, 12 April 2013 (UTC)

Another problematic page (and class?)

See Talk:Female_genital_mutilation#Plagiarism. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 18:50, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

I'll ping Mike, who is the OA for that class, as well as the professor. Thanks for bringing it here! JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 19:21, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
I'm in meetings all afternoon but have been in contact with Diana; can't post more now. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 20:16, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
I'm the professor for this course. The student's postings have been removed and she has also apologized on the talk page. I've asked the student to confine future work for the class to her sandbox. We take plagiarism very seriously at Rice, which has very explicit policies. Additionally, the TA and I are auditing the work of other students.DStrassmann (talk) 00:02, 9 April 2013 (UTC)
Hi! Thank you very much for your vigilance. We greatly appreciate it. Go Phightins! 00:45, 9 April 2013 (UTC)
Thank you from me, too. I think everyone here appreciates it very much when an instructor responds so helpfully. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:17, 9 April 2013 (UTC)
I heard earlier today that the TA for the class has checked the work of six students in each section and found no more plagiarism by the students, though she did find some pre-existing plagiarism. I'll get the details on that and will revert it if it hasn't already been removed. I'll also do a couple more spot-checks myself. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 21:35, 9 April 2013 (UTC)

It turns out that in fact the pre-existing plagiarism found by the TA was not by an editor -- it was plagiarism of Wikipedia by the external website. The article is domestic worker, and much of the article is repeated word for word on this webpage. I've added {{Backwardscopy}} to the talk page. Is there more that should be done in a case like this? Do we bother to complain when a website copies from Wikipedia without attribution? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:15, 10 April 2013 (UTC)

Ha! Reminds us that the plagiarism issue goes both ways. Me, I suspect it's too much hassle to complain in such cases. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 16:14, 10 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for looking into it, Mike! JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 17:09, 10 April 2013 (UTC)

Same class, another plagiarism issue: Template:Did_you_know_nominations/Gender_disparities_in_health. Three checked sources all had significant issues, and there are a number of offline sources I'm not able to check. Nikkimaria (talk) 01:40, 13 April 2013 (UTC)

I've emailed Diana; I'm traveling so can't do much else at the moment. I haven't had time to spot check other students in the class but will do so when I can. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:42, 13 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for calling this to my attention. This student is in a different section of the course. The instructor and I will address the situation promptly. Please stay posted. DStrassmann (talk) 13:22, 13 April 2013 (UTC)
Update: the relevant sections have been removed; the instructor is in conversation with the student, and is checking other sections of the work as well.DStrassmann (talk) 22:57, 13 April 2013 (UTC)

Online Ambassador application: The Illusive Man

{{User:ClueBot III/ArchiveNow}}

The Illusive Man

The Illusive Man (talk · contribs)

  1. Why do you want to be a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    I am extremely interested in new editor retention, especially at the caliber of researchers and academics that this project strives to bring to the project. We need to welcome and include these students of higher learning as much as possible.
  2. In three sentences or less, summarize your involvement with Wikimedia projects.
    As an articles for creation reviewer, I have reviewed several hundreds of articles for quality including Manual of Style, copyediting, researching and including valid sources while removing impertinent ones, etc. As a counter vandalism editor I often encounter first time editors who make good faith/mislead test edits to Wikipedia, always encouraging them to create an account and participate at a higher level. These are my major roles on the English Wikipedia.
  3. Please indicate a few articles to which you have made significant content contributions. (e.g. DYK, GA, FA, major revisions/expansions/copyedits).
    Impossible to say, I have reviewed so many articles, mostly of start or C-Class, that it may be entirely possible some have been upgraded to GA class+, but I can not recall any specific examples. My core strength is definitely in familiarizing newcomers with the fundamentals of on-Wiki activity and assisting in the very beginning of editor's editing careers, IMHO the most important and volatile period in an editors life cycle where one unsavory experience can result in permanently leaving the project.
  4. How have you been involved with welcoming and helping new users on Wikipedia?
    As a prolific vandalism and test edit reverter, I often catch brand new editors to Wikipedia trying to make their mark on the project and explore key functions of the software. I always make the point of presenting these editors with information templates and a follow up means of communication, instead of an (often harsh) default warning level template.
  5. What do you see as the most important ways we could welcome newcomers or help new users become active contributors?
    An honest collaboration between an experienced editor and the newcomers in a way that engages the new editor, such as direct assistance with an article the new editor is trying to edit, helps the user learn the Wiki markup (often the biggest obstacle to editors with no markup language experience). It also proves that somebody on the project cares and is willing to help, assisting with the all too familiar "it's me against them" breakout mentality of most first time editors, who often experience a sense of lash back from established editors, citing policies they often can't have the experience to interpret "correctly", etc.
  6. Have you had major conflicts with other editors? Blocks or bans? Involvement in arbitration? Feel free to offer context, if necessary.
    I've had several bouts with editors who seemed to not be interested in developing an encyclopedia as much as raising a ruckus, but I've always responded in a calm, civil and constructive manner, well past even the point that project administrators have blocked the confused new editor. I have never needed arbitration in any content or behavior, as I always take a step back and reach a consensus on content development when one of my changes is disputed. Fortunately, most editors who do edit more than once, are committed to the same quality upping belief as I, and this allows a common point for intelligent to occur.
  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 almost could be called a discussion troll; I check all the noticeboards, the help desks, the talk pages of major projects and Wikipedia discussion boards up to eight times a day, often from different locations, even in a read-only mode. I appreciate any chance to educate myself with on and off-Wiki discussions and events. I have recently finished radiation therapy for a brain cancer, and will be available no less than 6 hours per week, every week.
  8. How would you make sure your students were not violating copyright laws?
    Collaboration is key. I make no claim to be an authority on any such issue; While I can certainly recognize attribution laws and copyright rhetoric, discussion with the student as to the sourcing and status of the referenced materials, and in working with other online ambassadors and the concerned WikiProject members, I feel like we can ensure students are consistently writing high-quality, very free articles.
  9. If one of your students had an issue with copyright violation how would you resolve it?
    If it is identified as a copyright violation, positively, then the material must be removed and this fact communicated to the student, who can then either find free materials to substitute, or begin contact through the open ticket response system (OTRS) to gain such authority to use the non free material under the banner of Wikipedia's own in house model. I would of course be willing to assist the student in discussions with copyright holders, as I have done successfully on many occasions in the past.
  10. In your _own_ words describe what copyright violation is.
    A copyright violation is the usage of any attributable material, no matter how slight, including text, graphics, data, etc, that is not released under the public domain or under a license that allows it to be taken from its source and freely redistributed either as is, or as a component of a different work. This is a fairly more conservative definition than most look for, with many fewer exemptions, but in my opinion, it is better to exclude a dozen ambiguously free resources than to have one complaint from copyright holders for damages or misuse of their proprietary information. Wikipedia, in my opinion, is damaged severely in the eyes of copyright holders and the public in every case of violation, and strides should, again in my opinion, be made to ensure this never happens.
  11. What else should we know about you that is relevant to being a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    I am passionate about online education, myself having been involved in a degree of divinity program online that required the production of dozens of high quality, attributable papers on the principles of spirituality and religion. While there are definitely big leaps between the two, I feel my on Wiki experience and my experience gathered elsewhere in online mentoring relationships, makes me an ideal candidate for this simply delightful initiative. Thank you to all who have read my application, this means a lot to me.

-T.I.M(Contact) 18:40, 11 April 2013 (UTC)


(Two endorsements are needed for online ambassador approval.)

  • Endorse--Great contributions and a passionate desire to help new Wikipedians...just what we need! —Theopolisme (talk) 19:55, 13 April 2013 (UTC)
  • Endorse I don't recall interacting with them previously, but reviewing their edits suggest enough work in reverting vandalism and AFC to suggest they know their way around. Stuartyeates (talk) 03:54, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
  • Wow, I am honored by both endorsements. I thank you both for taking the time to review my contributions, I am very proud of them. I have read all the literature that exists on the Education Program; What can I do to start helping? -T.I.M(Contact) 19:59, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
  • Great question. =) Here's my stab. Thanks for signing up! There are likely many students out there right now (or soon to be) who could benefit from feedback, encouragement, and ways to improve their articles. (There might be a planned update to Special:Courses to show ambassadors.) I'm pretty sure Jami signed up for several classes because the community hadn't made itself explicitly available. A needed activity in my mind is also for more Wikipedians to establish working relationships with instructors off-wiki (along the lines of WP:CLASSAMBASS). This could involve a Skype meeting or several, emails, phone calls, etc. When Wikipedians who understand quality content have good relationships with instructors, assignment design can be improved even during the semester sometimes. And when students get good instruction, they can hit the ground running, and everyone will have a more pleasant experience (including readers). Best. Biosthmors (talk) 21:07, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
  • That's fantastic! Thank you. :) When an Admin can come around and assign the bit, I'll jump in headfirst! -T.I.M(Contact) 13:00, 18 April 2013 (UTC)
  • This is the standard welcome message for new ambassadors, which anyone should feel free to change and update. I'll go ahead and assign T.I.M. the course online volunteer right. Biosthmors, note that you and any other course coordinator (or admin) have the ability to do this as well. (Go to a user's contributions, then click "user rights management" near their username at the top.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:06, 18 April 2013 (UTC)

Online Ambassador application:Santhosh

{{User:ClueBot III/ArchiveNow}}


Santhosh (talk · contribs)

  1. Why do you want to be a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    I wish to know current stuffs & like to act as a Wikipedia Ambassador.
  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?
    If i may be...i will do...
  8. How would you make sure your students were not violating copyright laws?
    According to my view our students were not violating copyright laws.
  9. If one of your students had an issue with copyright violation how would you resolve it?
    I will solve the problem in different way...
  10. In your _own_ words describe what copyright violation is.
  11. What else should we know about you that is relevant to being a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    Im keen in wikipedia ambassador...


(Two endorsements are needed for online ambassador approval.)

  • Oppose: Application added by an IP ( with no contribution history. Application in the name of Santhosh (talk · contribs), but that user has no recent edits as the last was in 2009. Application provides little detail, but the comment "According to my view our students were not violating copyright laws" is a concern. EdChem (talk) 14:58, 15 April 2013 (UTC)
  • Speedy close per above. —Theopolisme (talk) 15:09, 15 April 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose: as per the answers to question 8 and 9. Stuartyeates (talk) 01:30, 16 April 2013 (UTC)

Former ambassador re-apply?

{{User:ClueBot III/ArchiveNow}} As a former ambassador that left in good standing who was around when the project kicked off, am I required to re-apply the same as other applicants or can I simply request to re-join? Regards ZooPro 13:31, 21 April 2013 (UTC)

You have lots of thingies on your user page so I say this is a no-brainer. ;-) Sure, why not? I have the WP:Course coordinators user right so I could but I might wait a bit just to see what another person might say. There might be some lovely bureaucracy I forgot about. You're looking for the online ambassador/volunteer role, right? Biosthmors (talk) 23:52, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Biosthmors, yes am seeking an online ambassador role please. Regards ZooPro 06:25, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
This is up to you guys, if anyone seriously opposes, but we've definitely had Ambassadors come back after a semester or two of inaction. I wouldn't see a problem with your willingness to help out! JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 17:43, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
If I am correct it only requires 2 endorsments to actually be accepted (per above applications I have read), I dont see anyone objecting but am happy to wait for community consensus if required, I was invited to join back in January by Sage on my talk page if that helps with the matter. Regards ZooPro 06:15, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
 Done.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:17, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Sage, I am glad to be of service again. ZooPro 23:29, 23 April 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Toby Higbie (talk)


Tobias Higbie


University of California, Los Angeles

Course title and description

History 146B: American Working Class Movements. History of work, working-class communities, class politics, and social movements in the United States during the 20th century. Upper division undergraduates. Students will make contributions to Wikipedia in the form of creating new articles or expanding stubs for topics related to the course. Editors helping out are: Tim Davenport (Carrite), Kiefer Wolfowitz (Kiefer.Wolfowitz), Jim (Cullen328), Mike (Orangemike); Richard Jensen; and Malik (Malik_Shabazz).

Assignment plan

Working in groups and individually, students will make a contribution to Wikipedia in the form of creating a new article or substantially expanding an existing stub. During the early weeks of the class, students will create user accounts, familiarize themselves with wiki markup and Wikipedia guidelines. The instructor and collaborating Wikipedia editors have developed a list of potential articles for students. Each student is responsible for a contribution in the range of 500 words plus references, links, and images (where appropriate).

Number of students

About 85.

Start and end dates

April 1 to June 10.

--Toby Higbie (talk) 20:50, 22 April 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

I haven't previously endorsed any previous such requests, so am not quite sure of the protocol. But I like this project: it's a biggish class, but there seems to be a decent plan in place, I very much like the topic, plus there are some experienced Wikipedians already on board. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:18, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
The protocol is pretty informal; the requests are a way for instructors to introduce themselves and their plans so that experienced Wikipedians can have a look, and offer guidance if it seems like a plan that won't work very well. If there aren't any major issues, any admin or course coordinator should feel free to assign the instructor right so they can get started with a course page.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:30, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
OK, I've been bold and gone ahead. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 18:05, 23 April 2013 (UTC)

{{User:ClueBot III/ArchiveNow}}

Wiki Education Foundation update

There is now a page listing public WEF documents, including minutes, and the bylaws, which have been approved. There's also a link to the minutes of the last few meetings.

A quick summary: the bylaws are approved and we hope the final applications will be turned in to the Affiliations Committee and to the Grant Advisory Committee within a week. I'll post another note here when the grant application goes in so that those interested can see the application and comment at the relevant page. If there are any other questions, let me know. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:11, 9 April 2013 (UTC)

Honestly, I need to know what the Foundation will be doing for professors in the fall. I understand that this is necessary, but I get emails almost every day from professors who want help with assignments. It is frustrating to me that I can't tell them anything certain. It seems to be that this transition process will do a great deal of harm to the encyclopedia, as many professors will have no help. How can we avoid this? Wadewitz (talk) 20:03, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
If the WEF gets funded and things go as we hope they will, there will be support this fall as there has been this spring. If it doesn't get funded or we're unable to hire someone who can take on the support role, then I don't know what support the Foundation will provide. I know they have no budget for that role but I don't know if they would feel compelled to try to find a way to help. The WEF applications for funding and affiliation are done; I don't know how long that process will take, but I would think it's a minimum of a couple of weeks. Sorry I can't be more specific -- all I can say is that we're trying to fill that role. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:45, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

Students editing sexuality, biology and hormone articles related to physical and mental health

I stated most of this at WP:MED, but I decided to state it here as well because I may get more help by posting it here. The thread will certainly last longer here than at WP:MED. This is what I stated there:

Some of you already know that we seemingly have a higher influx of students editing such articles, especially psychology articles, this year. I've guided some editors, such as this one, and more help from this project is definitely needed on this matter.

Very recently, I've tweaked the edits of, and guided, these two editors: Jameson.thomas52 (talk · contribs) and 8bjr4 (talk · contribs)

There are some articles that I'm either not heavily involved in editing or don't edit at all, and these articles could use more WP:MED eyes to assess whether some of the additions to these articles are appropriate (whether there are grammar or other formatting issues, irrelevant additions, WP:UNDUE additions, additions relying too heavily or solely on WP:PRIMARY SOURCES, or additions that have plagiarism problems). The Sexual dysfunction article, which I edit sparingly thus far, is a good candidate. And so is the Hormone replacement therapy (menopause) article, which I never edited until [April 7th, non-Wiki time] (to clean up some things), and the Androgen deprivation therapy article. A few of you are already watching the Female genital mutilation‎ article, and it may be best to wait until the students are done editing that article (whenever that is) until substantial cleanup takes place at that article; still, there has been general cleanup going on at that article following student edits, and SlimVirgin, who is a regular editor of that article, has done substantial cleanup of it following student edits.

And for a student editor problem that I did not note at WP:MED, and just got through dealing with, see here. I'm confused by the editor -- User:Cjacob44 -- having added an incomplete WP:SANDBOX version into the WP:MAINSPACE. It appears that the editor needs a lot of guidance on correct formatting, and that his or her reviewers (shown on his or her user page) should have guided him or her better.

Anyway, thank you for any help you are willing to provide on these matters. Flyer22 (talk) 01:32, 11 April 2013 (UTC)

Also looking at Cjacob44's user page, he or she may set out to edit the following articles as well: Schizophrenia, Lucid dream, Behavioral contagion, Synesthesia and/or Looking glass self. The Schizophrenia article is of WP:FA status, and should stay that way. Flyer22 (talk) 01:44, 11 April 2013 (UTC)
Unfortunately this hasn't gotten any replies yet. Does anyone know what class these editors come from? Has anyone been in contact with that instructor so that the same mistakes aren't made again next semester? Biosthmors (talk) 21:09, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
Thank you, Biosthmors. Cjacob44 identifies on his user page that he is from Clemson University. I now refer to that editor by male pronouns because he seems to make clear that he's male with this title on the Masters and Johnson talk page. And the aforementioned class that took on the Female genital mutilation article identify as being from Rice University. I'm obviously not sure about the others that I pointed to or directly noted above. But, as seen on Jameson.thomas52's talk page, I did query whether or not Jameson.thomas52 is from the same class as User:Abbie.dodz after seeing the Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder link Jameson.thomas52 added (it still isn't an article yet). Flyer22 (talk) 23:14, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

An external course page

An external website lists some student articles and a classroom assignment. I suppose linking there might be considered "outing" by some. Any comments on that issue?

Articles listed include:

Students have been instructed to create user names that start with psyc452. Searching for "psyc452" at Special:ListUsers yields about 20 names, created during this semester. Searching for "psych452" gives a few more. Has anyone happened to have any productive conversation with this professor? Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 22:45, 15 April 2013 (UTC)

There's a thread about this above. Stuartyeates (talk) 22:52, 15 April 2013 (UTC)
See #Evolutionary psychology / Psyc452, above. Cnilep (talk) 02:11, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 20:29, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

Instructor guidance needed at AfC

Demiurge1000 pointed out on my talk page an issue with a class: Wikipedia:WikiProject Articles for creation/Help desk#Class project. Help guiding the professor toward best practices and the trainings would be useful.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 03:33, 16 April 2013 (UTC)

I went ahead and created the page. Wikification would be useful. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 04:59, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
Direct interaction with the teacher concerned (User talk:ProfDavis) would be a good idea, but it's beyond my competence, I'm just the AfC Wikignome.
In my experience (which is not insignificant) the support systems for educational projects is very poorly connected to the "regular" editor support systems on en.WP. Very few people who handle questions at the various help pages are even aware of the existence of the academic support systems. These systems/projects have a huge job of expanding and maintaining an awareness and presence/connectedness internally throughout the various "regular" editor support systems of WP, in addition to the job of reaching out externally to academic institutions. This arguably requires more direct hands-on involvement and support from WMF. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 07:11, 16 April 2013 (UTC)

Concerns about Wiki Education Foundation

The following is a fork from a thread at Wikipedia:Education_noticeboard#Instructor_guidance_needed_at_AfC. This discussion had little to do with the concern in that thread, so I split it. For context, users are discussing the proposed meta:thematic organization described at meta:Wiki Education Foundation. The initial statement says that involvement from the Wikimedia Foundation will not happen then is self explanatory for the rest. Blue Rasberry (talk) 17:06, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

Well, that's not going to happen, I'm afraid: the WMF is busy offloading the Educational Program, and those setting themselves up to be responsible for the new version of the EP aren't on the whole comfortable or interested in working on-wiki at all. In fact, if anything they're actively hostile to what they call "restrictive Wikipedia norms." --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:03, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
I disagree that the board as a group is 'on the whole' hostile about interacting on-wiki. In fact, the vast majority of board members have been championing for getting classes more involved in the Wikipedia infrastructure, including WikiProjects, this noticeboard, and utilizing talk pages. No, I don't think any educational initiative would ever promote students getting super involved in the bureaucratic processes, simply because that will only meet their learning objectives in a few disciplines. Still, if we can engage these new editors on-wiki in a more positive way, they just may stick around to get involved on the back end of things. Jon, thanks for working with User:ProfDavis. I sent an email to see if I can help connect him/her to better resources and materials if s/he does this again next time around. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 17:18, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
I think it's pretty clear that most of the putative board members are uninterested and/or uncomfortable about working on-wiki. Just look at their contributions histories. (Which will also reveal the notable exceptions, of course.) And their hostility to Wikipedia processes is documented. None of this has anything to do with getting students (I agree) needlessly over-involved in Wikipedia processes. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:28, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
I agree with jbmurray. It's clear that the WEF board members have no interest in discussing matters pertaining to Wikipedia on-wiki. From the minutes of April 8, 2013: "The board discussed ways to handle informal communications with the Wikipedia community." ... ... ... AND?! What's to "discuss"? How about typing letters that form words which are grouped into sentences and then posting those sentences somewhere for the Wikipedia community to read and respond to them? That's how communication generally works. I also agree that it's ridiculous that people are organising something that affects people who do actually edit, and people who will be helping students edit, when they have no substantial editing experience themselves. --Geniac (talk) 23:37, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
I guess I've been labouring under the illusion that it was this site that I've devoted the majority of my free time to over the last five years. It must have been some other site. I guess you guys are free to characterize this group of people how you'd like, but try to remember, they are volunteers like yourselves trying to improve the troubled current state of student editing. And from my experience, they're all very committed to the project. Jbmurray, I'm deeply hurt by your statement that, "if anything they're actively hostile to what they call "restrictive Wikipedia norms." I love restrictive Wikipedia norms. They're my bread and butter. You've used quotes here, who are you quoting, and what was the context? The Interior (Talk) 02:01, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
C'mon, Interior, don't be disingenuous. You know you're a notable exception to the majority who (as I said) are both uncomfortable and unwilling to work on-wiki. And you know equally about the hostility to (the board's phrase, not mine) the supposedly "restrictive norms of Wikipedia." And yes, I'd like to know what those are, too! Transparency is one, I presume. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 02:09, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
Geniac, I wrote those minutes; I can expand on them if you like, to the extent of my memory. I didn't (and don't) think the board meetings are worth memorializing in a lot more detail than that, but if you want to know more, please ask. On the "informal communications" topic, the question was whether there was a need for any sort of resolution on how we communicate with Wikipedia; there didn't seem to be a need to be so formal about it, so no resolution was passed. I and a couple of other board members (such as The Interior) have volunteered to do most of the on-wiki communication, largely because we're the most familiar with Wikipedia and the community. Jon's right that the board members span the spectrum from experienced Wikipedians to editors with very few edits, though I don't think there's anyone on the board who could be fairly described as hostile to Wikipedia processes. Jon, since I know you've had some conflict with Mike Cline, I might as well mention that Mike Cline resigned from the board after the 8 April board meeting. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 02:21, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
"because we're the most familiar with Wikipedia and the community." -- And that's the problem. People who are not familiar with Wikipedia and the community should not be making decisions that affect Wikipedia and the community. --Geniac (talk) 03:43, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
Well, I also think that people who are not familiar with the educational world should not be making decisions that affect that community. That's why there are three seats on the board for Wikipedians and three for educators. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 04:19, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

@Geniac, I question your conclusions, and above all your premise. I also agree that it's ridiculous that people are organizing something that affects people who do actually edit, and people who will be helping students edit, when they have no substantial editing experience themselves. Of the WEF board members as of last week there was substantial editing experience: Mike Cline (39,788 edits, editor since Jan 2007, 63% article space); Mike Christie (24,648 edits, editor since April 2006, 47% article space); Pharos (32,292 edits, editor since Sept 2004, 35% article space); TheInterior (17,698 edits, editor since Dec 2008, 56% article space); PJthepiano (846 edits, editor since August 2010, 15% article space); Bobcummings (83 edits, editor since Apr 2005); DStraussmann (259 edits, editor since Apr 2011); Jami Mathewson (1,949 edits, editor since Nov 2011); Etlib (148 edits, editor since Aug 2010)

PJ and Etlib are both successful campus ambassadors, an important perspective the WEF needs. Etlib is also a professional university Librarian. DStraussmann and Bobcummings are both professional educators with successful use of Wikipedia in their classrooms under their belt. Bobcummings is also a leading force in the Open Education Collaborative Documentation Project, a subproject of the Open Education Resource Foundation. Of course Jami represents the WMF on the board.

Your premise is flawed when one examines the mission statement of the WEF.

The Wiki Education Foundation supports innovative uses of Wikipedia and related projects in communities of teaching, learning, and inquiry in the United States and Canada. The Foundation aims to improve the breadth, scope, and quality of Wikimedia content; enhance student information fluency; and increase the number and diversity of contributors to the free knowledge movement by engaging educators, researchers, and students.

— WEF Mission Statement [1]

The WEF mission goes well beyond just “editing Wikipedia”. Most succinctly, the mission of the WEF is to encourage and support the use of Wikipedia in education to achieve learning objectives. Such encouragement and support undoubtedly leads to students contributing to Wikipedia. Such contributions should comply with Wikipedia norms and there is an abundance of evidence that such contributions can be successful in an educational setting. However, student contributions to Wikipedia should be seen as a valuable by-product of achieving learning objectives in the classroom, not as the primary goal of the WEF as there are many ways in which Wikipedia has and will continue to support learning objectives that don't require student editing.

The current board brings all the necessary perspectives to bear to make that a reality. Even Jbmurray (the only current contributor to this noticeboard that even bothered to weigh in April 2012 when the WMF was contemplating the WEF) had this to say: The only real stipulation is that both the working group and the finished program should represent both the Wikipedia and the academic communities. Indeed, from the university side, it should also reach out to the various elements that are likely to be involved or concerned: not simply tenure-track faculty, but also instructors, TAs, educational technologists, and others. [2] --Mike Cline (talk) 16:25, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

As I've been interpellated here, I'll respond... I think it's a great pity that there's been disengagement from both "sides" (and I don't much like the talk of "sides," but you get my drift). On the one hand, those involved in what was the working group and is now the putative board of a new organization have on the whole been uncomfortable working on-wiki, and the result has been a lack of clarity and transparency but perhaps more importantly what I think is a pretty weak proposal (still manifestly unfinished). Especially ever since the failed RFC (closed as "no consensus") there's been a progressive drifting away, and now they have set up their own site elsewhere. Meanwhile, however, there has been little engagement from regular Wikipedians, either. For a long time it was just User:Biosthmors; for a while it has effectively just been me, and since the Board left meta I'm no longer much interested in continuing.
Wikipedians must take their share of the responsibility: there certainly have been opportunities for them to have their say, and though there was clearly resistance on the part of the working group / board, it may have had some kind of effect had they spoken up. It's honestly hard to know who to blame here. On the one hand, the disassociation between Education Program and Wikipedia was inscribed in the structure of things by the WMF; on the other, the working group / board has, I think, felt burnt in discussions here on-wiki, and has tended therefore to retreat to its own internal communications and structures. But it is equally true that ordinary Wikipedians tend only to take notice of the Education Program when something goes wrong: they (we) react noisily to scandals such as the recent Toronto-based Psychology class, and respond by trying to raise obstacles to class projects, but take less interest otherwise. (There are notable exceptions, of course: I'd point not only to User:Biosthmors, but also to User:‎Tryptofish, for instance, and the work done on Wikipedia:Assignments for student editors).
Overall, there's been little attempt on anyone's part to join up the dots, in precisely but not solely the ways that User:Dodger67 enjoins us in the comments that sparked this discussion. I fear that, not for the first time (see my comments here) this is a case of resources wasted and opportunities squandered. I hope that things look up, and I know that there are good people on the board (I'll single out User:Mike Christie and User:The Interior). But it seems to me that above all there's a lack of vision and a fundamental (small "c") conservatism, expressed in part in a preference for legalism, technocratic tweaks, and jargon that's part of the problem, not the solution.
Again, all this is a tremendous pity when there are important issues at play that affect Wikipedia and academia alike. And there's no doubt more to say, but perhaps this isn't even the proper forum: I wish there were such a forum somewhere; as I've said various times, I'd have thought that one of the first things something like the WEF could do would be to create one. Anyhow. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 18:48, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks! --Tryptofish (talk) 22:04, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
And thanks from me too for the positive comment. I agree with some of your comments, but rather than pick nits with you, I'd like to try to start the conversation over. The putative WEF board (which I'm just going to call the board, for brevity) really does want to do the right thing. If we can talk about what that right thing is, that would be terrific.
One specific response: I think this page is the best place for a discussion by Wikipedia editors with (and about) the WEF -- not a separate project page, not meta, and not another Wiki. This page has the highest volume of interested editors and that trumps all the other considerations, I would argue.
At the moment we're trying to get funding from the WMF via the GAC; trying to get affiliated; and figuring out what we can make do with by way of infrastructure. We don't want to spend any more money than we have to on overhead like accounting and HR, so we're looking at being "hosted" inside another entity -- e.g. Wikimedia DC, or a university.
I don't think that sort of thing is likely to be of much interest to most editors here, though, beyond an assurance that we're trying not to waste money. Are there particular topics that we could discuss that relate more directly to education? Such as what, exactly, should the new organization be doing with classes, with training, with resource development and so on? There have been a lot of those discussions here but the consensus has been more about what classes should not do, not about what a support organization like the WEF should do. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:56, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
You know actually, as I suggested above, I'm no longer particularly interested in discussing with (or about) the WEF. I feel I've tried to engage with that initiative (if "initiative" is even the right word), but have found it too dispiriting. As I've indicated, I've also found those discussions to be far too limited. One of the most disappointing of interventions on this page has been Rod Dunican's sole edit outside his own userspace, which essentially amounted to "It wasn't me".
I would, however, be interested in discussing Wikipedia and Education with you, and indeed with anyone else here. That's the conversation that should be started over. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 08:25, 18 April 2013 (UTC)
A question relating to the comment ...there's been a progressive drifting away, and now they have set up their own site elsewhere. Is there any sign that the board understands that the community systematically ignores opinions expressed elsewhere and that this is a logical consequence of our anti-harressment work, which condemns "opposition research"? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Stuartyeates (talkcontribs) 20:57, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
Can you clarify the question/how it applies here? I want to make sure I understand you before trying to address it. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 20:51, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
What I mean is that a large number of editors will never access because WP:OUTING tells us that checking an editors' opinions or stance on any off-wiki site and referring to it on-wiki is harassment, unless each editor specifically tell us to in each particular context. Stuartyeates (talk) 02:56, 18 April 2013 (UTC)
I wouldn't have thought OUTING applied here; it refers to "dredging up their off line opinions", not to referring to a site which has been set up to provide information. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:41, 18 April 2013 (UTC)
Exactly. One editors information is another editors opinion. Stuartyeates (talk) 10:01, 18 April 2013 (UTC)
Well I don't particularly feel like saying "Thanks!" to JBMurry for his "who shall we blame" post above. Mike Cline's "even bothered" comment is pretty negative too. I guess I'm just a noisy obstacle to class projects. This is a volunteer community. I'm here because my watchlist, and the watchlist of other medical editors, regularly gets hit by student edits. For me, this is mainly psych classes straying into neuroscience / neurology topics where they come unstuck and their prof isn't even able to help assuming they actually planned to. I'm not here as an class ambassador or member of some board or a prof running a class. My biggest disappointment continues to be that classes view wikipedia as a huge cloud-based homework environment where they can do pretty much what they like with no consequence. And the WMF seem happy to let them. Nobody is cleaning up Joordens mess and nobody is changing any policy/guideline to prevent that sort of thing happening again. Time and again we see classes come here with a clueless prof and add problematic material that they need/expect us to fix. It really makes one want to give up.
The most problematic classes seems to be ones that aren't part of any programme or working on-wiki. It seems to me the WMF has encouraged education establishments to come to Wiki to do their homework assignments and then failed to support them. Were they told it was easy and you could do it yourself? Plenty seem to be trying. We now have hoards of colleges doing ad hoc assignments without any proper guidance or on-wiki transparency or interaction with the community. The second problem that I see is that most assignments seem to involve posting new material with some wikilinks rather than appreciating this is an interactive collaborative wiki where existing material is built on and improved alongside other editors.
This noticeboard may be the most used/watched page wrt education but ultimately it isn't really used/watched by many folk at all. How many distinct contributors come here? It bet most people know everyone else by now. There's a bias towards medical editors here perhaps as a consequence of the problematic APS initiative. Why is the Wikipedia community at large not interacting with education programmes or classroom assignments? Colin°Talk 07:49, 18 April 2013 (UTC)
Ha! You may not want to thank me (I'm not asking you to), but I do think we're basically saying the same thing. It's to nobody's benefit to be merely reacting to what's going on. That's demoralizing and dispiriting for everyone concerned. We do need to find ways to improve the interactions between "the Wikipedia community at large" and "educational programmes or classroom assignments." And I recognize that your work on Wikipedia:Assignments is an attempt to do that, too. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 08:18, 18 April 2013 (UTC)
Jon's distinction (in his post further up) between discussions with the WEF and discussions about the education programme and class assignments is valid, of course, but there's a related point that I think is not clear enough. I've been arguing for years that the Wikipedia community needs to be more proactive about the education programme; that this is a programme that will have a huge effect on the community and we need to be prepared. I'm a member of the Wikipedia community and I'm very interested in those discussions.
The WEF is, or will be, a nonprofit that does not cater solely to Wikipedia's needs; it will be trying to serve both the educational community and the Wikipedia community. The board won't be composed just of Wikipedians or just of educators, though no doubt we'll end up with some board members who are both; both constituencies have to be represented because their needs are not the same. I don't see the WEF staff reverting bad edits by students or professors, except incidentally; that's not a good use of money because it doesn't scale and doesn't solve any future problems. I may be reverting bad classroom edits, but I'll be doing it as a member of the community, not as a WEF board member. The WEF can't take any sort of "official" on-wiki role because there's no such thing as an "official on-wiki role". What it can (and, I hope, will) do is put resources into outreach -- for example, I would like to have the resources to go to the APS and try to prevent another class like Steve Joordens', and work with them on making future classes more productive. Those are off-wiki activities that an organization like the WEF has a much better chance of getting done than any individual Wikipedian.
I haven't commented on some threads here -- e.g. FLyer22 and Yunshui's notes about potentially problematic classes -- because I don't see much the WEF can do about them. I could so something about them personally, as a volunteer editor, but I haven't commented in that capacity because I am fully booked on-wiki already.
Colin, I've been following your (and others') work on Wikipedia:Assignments. I don't think the WEF can contribute much to that because it isn't a part of the community; it's a non-profit. To me that essay is part of the input to what the WEF does -- essays, and more importantly guidelines and policies, and inputs to the WEF's plans. But the WEF has no right to have input into that essay -- its board members, as individual editors, might edit it or comment on it, but that's not the WEF's role. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:10, 18 April 2013 (UTC)
Colin, you know that I am concerned about many of the same problems that concern you. I'll be a bit uncharitable in saying, about where you said that you may be "just a noisy obstacle to class projects", that you are certainly noisy, but you're not much of an obstacle. Sorry, but I'm trying to put in a word for editors not getting stressed out by student edits. No matter how much some of us get upset, the student editors are not going to go away. So it does nothing constructive to feel stressed about the students. All it accomplishes is having editors conduct stress-filled conversations amongst ourselves. Outside of the Joordens debacle, I've seen a good number of very helpful student editors. Within the debacle, the best way to mop up is to revert, and then move on without giving it a second thought. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:27, 18 April 2013 (UTC)
I don't think that reverting whatever hits one's watchlist and moving on is an appropriate response to Joordens exercise, and you were among those calling for a block on the whole uni. That was over 900 articles and thousands of edits. And still nobody is doing anything about it. Has anyone asked Philippe what is happening with Joordens? What is the WEF doing about it? All those edits sourced to the class textbook -- we have no policy that allows/suggests editors just revert them, and WP:AGF actually prevents us from assuming they may be bad. So articles will fill up with plagiarism or dubious facts made by editors working beyond their abilities and without proper supervision.
If we revert we get told off for WP:BITE. If we interact with the student, we often just waste our time or become unpaid classroom assistants. If we try to find out who is running the class, we could get blocked for WP:OUTING. I strongly feel there is a need for specific policy that deals with assignments and puts an end to off-wiki and unofficial classes, and gives the WP community some power to deal with classes that can't take responsibility for their work when it goes pear shaped. Such a policy is more important IMO than the structure of some board, especially if that board just washes its hand of any troublesome classes saying "not one of ours".
We need to get to a situation where when one sees a student edit occur, we know what assignment this edit is being done for, when the assignment is due for, what class the student is in, and who is taking charge. Without these things, student edits will remain stress-inducing because they different from normal newbie edits. Without a policy for such assignments, I see large parts of WP (like psychology) being WP:OWNed by education and the volunteer community will abandon them to it. Colin°Talk 09:19, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
I think that's just highly unlikely. Sometimes it's a challenge for me to track down every user name of classes where the profs do want to participate. Fortunately, the extension has made that so much better this term. But it's simply unrealistic that we would ever be able to identify every student. And since this is an open encyclopedia, I'm sure there will continue to be classes who edit, whether they exist within the confines of an official program or not. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 16:30, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
Colin, indeed it was me who pushed for a very broad block. As things stand now, I am watching attentively to see whether or not Philippe's discussions with Joordens result in a correction of the situation. I see no reason to conclude one way or the other about success or failure, but if the future reveals failure, you'll see me at the front of the line calling again for a broad block.
You express concern that reverting leads to accusations of WP:BITE. I did what I did in the talk thread directly below partly in order to test that exact hypothesis. So far, nobody has accused me of that, but let's all see what happens. But I think there's a critical distinction. If, hypothetically, my revert had been the first thing I had done at that page, then I think there would have been a reasonable case that it would have been bitey. However, if you look at the attempts I made first to explain my concerns politely and helpfully, I believe that that makes all the difference. And it took hardly any effort at all on my part. --Tryptofish (talk) 17:52, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

University of Toronto mega-class controversy

A class at the University of Toronto with 1700 students was instructed by their professor to contribute a fact to Wikipedia. There were problems. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:58, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

For what it's worth, my understanding is that they were not "instructed" to contribute. This was an option for something like extra credit. Admittedly, it would be helpful if things were clearer and communications between Wikipedia and Joordens had not broken down. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:00, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
As far as Wikipedia is concerned, the degree of encouragement / compulsion involved isn't really that important -- it only affects what percentage of the students bother. The key point is that the motivation to make the edit and the choice about what to edit did not come from the student like it does with volunteer newbies. This, imo, fundamentally shifts some of the responsibilities for the consequences of those edits from the student to the person assigning the task. Hence the need for something like Wikipedia:Assignments. Colin°Talk 17:47, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
Agreed. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 18:16, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
Yes if I remember correctly Joordens ask me not to email him any further. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 18:10, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

Big problems with neuroscience articles

A very unpleasant situation has developed regarding a range of neuroscience articles. In the past we've had a number of courses where the teachers asked students to create articles, but the topics were always minor, and even though the results were mostly weak, the harm was limited.

Now, however, we seem to have a large group of students who have been asked to make small changes to core articles, such as axon and insomnia. The problem is that the edits are almost all bad and need to be reverted. This obviously isn't a good situation for anybody -- I wonder if there are any suggestions on how to deal with it? (I also wonder whether this is the right place to bring up the problem.) Looie496 (talk) 03:46, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

This is the right place. I browsed through contribs and couldn't find a course page or anything about what exactly the students have been asked to do. The best route is probably to ask the students to put you in touch with the professor, and try to have a discussion here to work out how the students can edit productively. The {{welcome student}} and {{welcome teacher}} templates may also be useful.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:09, 22 March 2013 (UTC)
Most of these students don't even understand the concept of a talk page, but I'll try that if I have time. For what it's worth, they are clearly at the University of Toronto -- lots of their refs give url's that are only accessible from there. Looie496 (talk) 17:03, 22 March 2013 (UTC)
Interesting. It's not definitive, but that's the same university system as this class (and the professor continued doing smaller Wikipedia projects without any on-wiki coordination or documentation is subsequent terms). I'll see if I can learn anything more.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:13, 22 March 2013 (UTC)
That looks exactly like what is happening here. Looie496 (talk) 17:27, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

Please can someone just block all accounts and IP access from University of Toronto IP addresses until their students stop crapping all over the articles. I'm serious, Sage Ross, this is just mass vandalism and needs to stop. Colin°Talk 20:01, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

Colin, if it is Joordens, we did everything we could to try to convince him to go about it the right way, and his response was to go underground. If the disruption is bad enough to merit admin intervention, it seems like protecting the articles that are being disrupted would be better than blocking the whole university system, in my opinion. (On a terminology note, it's not vandalism, just bad good-faith editing.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 20:17, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
This is fascinating as an organizational problem. It might not be unreasonable for someone to send an email or make a phone call to the professor presumed to be presiding over this, but of course I would not want to make trouble for anyone's good intentions. I really am not sure what to do in such cases but I would like to see policy developed toward a recommended response. How was a guess at the originating university made? I see that these edits are from registered users so no IP address is available.
I also do not want to jump to conclusions, but Joordens is notable as someone who has in the past been argumentative about his right to encourage students to do disruptive unproductive things on Wikipedia without regard to Wikipedia community guidelines. His idea as I understood it was that Wikipedia is a community space and that if it helps his students learn, then he need not answer to any community guidelines or consider creating a community work burden. Blue Rasberry (talk) 20:23, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
Sage Ross, do you realise that the "There's nothing we can/should do" response to bad student editing is based on the "anyone can edit" mantra (quietly forgetting the "The Encyclopedia ..." prefix) -- and your solution is to block volunteers from editing :-) It is quite impractical to block the hundred or so articles that Joordens' monkeys might attack every semester. On terminology, I'm not referring to the individual student edits but to the coordinated gradual destruction of Wikipedia articles. Wikipedia's admin policies are geared round one editor doing a lot of harm to a small set of articles. I think we need to write some kind of letter to his boss or the press in order to force things. Bluerasberry, look at the first diff and you'll see the student cites a paper within their own university intranet. Colin°Talk 21:52, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
Although I didn't specify, what I meant was that the articles should be semi-protected. That should be sufficient, since it looks like these students are trying to make their edits immediately after creating accounts. I agree that full protection isn't appropriate.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 23:16, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
I've been away from this noticeboard for a while, but this discussion header really caught my attention. I'm also very concerned about something I read below: that User:Lova Falk has felt the need to take a break because of the unpleasantness of working with some class projects. For editors who want to "do the right thing", as well as for good-faith student projects (both faculty and students), please point people to the essay Wikipedia:Assignments for student editors. But, specifically for cases like this one, where apparently the faculty member chooses not to respect community consensus, we need to establish a commonsense consensus that faculty editors and student editors are not entitled to some sort of special status, making them immune to the expectations that we place on everyone else, out of fear that we might make for a bad student experience. And I'm saying that as a long-time academic myself! See particularly WP:NOTTA: editors are not unpaid teaching assistants. If an instructor reacts badly to polite and constructive advice about policies and guidelines, and then fosters disruptive editing, take them to WP:ANI with no hesitation. If students make bad edits and are not responsive to polite suggestions to fix those edits, revert, revert, revert! --Tryptofish (talk) 21:55, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
The problem with Joordens is that blocking his account would have no effect as he doesn't use it. He's got 1700 fresh meatpuppet accounts to do his bidding every semester. I think we need policy to deal with student edits just as we are supposedly getting serious with COI/paid edits. It involves showing respect to the millions of hours of volunteer time that has gone into this project. About recognising that firstly this is an encyclopaedia to be read, not homework to be written and forgotten. That those running classes have to have competency in what they are assigning: able to edit to a reasonable level, aware of guidelines and policy on content and behaviour, willing to spend the time to review and fix up. About setting assignments that are recognised by the community as worthwhile and having a high success ratio rather than ones that are easy to automark. And that course organisers will be held accountable for their class's work. And that ultimately we will publicly shame institutions who persist in harming the project. Colin°Talk 22:31, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
I agree. Sage, let me suggest that a broad IP block of the university may be needed in this case (not that we decide it here), and is probably going to be more effective than trying to preemptively guess which pages to protect, or trying to communicate with anyone at the university. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:53, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
Something does need to be done about this class. There might be a lot of collateral damage from a full UofT rangeblock, though. That's the largest uni in the country (although he appears to be at a satellite campus, which probably makes it more manageable). We need to get the prof engaging with us somehow. The Interior (Talk) 23:05, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
I'm certainly not the one to make decisions about blocking the university's IP range; if it's serious enough and widespread enough (beyond the couple articles brought up here) that range blocks are the only good solution, then it should probably go to AN/I.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 23:12, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
I have a question arising from my lack of familiarity with the history here: has there ever been any sort of RfC/U? --Tryptofish (talk) 23:20, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
I don't believe so. Perhaps we should try to confirm that this is Joordens' class by asking some of the students whose class they are in.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 23:27, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, that's what I suspected. I was trying to asses the extent of past efforts at dispute resolution, because sometimes it can be difficult to get complicated matters dealt with at ANI. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:31, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
Come to think of it, perhaps WP:SPI would be a place to start, as an alternative to asking the students (which could end up being a little like "entrapment"). --Tryptofish (talk) 23:34, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
I think a lot of the previous efforts at dispute resolution happened off-wiki; after Joordens' first term participating in the Canada Education Program, he was asked (I think by Jami) to make some changes to his assignment, and when we wasn't willing to do that, he was asked not to do one at all.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 23:56, 25 March 2013 (UTC)
Thinking back to what The Interior said above, the students presumably might be at the University of Toronto Scarborough, not the main campus. That might mean that a range block could be feasible without unreasonable collateral damage. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:02, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
Putting on my checkuser hat for a minute here, it would be extremely unlikely that there would be no significant collateral damage when range blocking a large educational institution. In order to prevent these students (who have registered accounts, as I understand) from editing, the range would have to be "hard-blocked", meaning that neither unregistered or registered users could edit, and accounts could not be created. As a matter of practice, range blocks of universities are generally measured in hours or days, not months. Risker (talk) 00:38, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
Incidentally, blocking the university will gain no benefit. Students are editing from home or from other locations. It is not a solution to anything. Risker (talk) 17:02, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I see, that's true. How about bringing back medieval torture? I don't know, maybe we are coming up against a new kind of problem that will require a new kind of tool to protect against it. I remain deeply concerned about the collateral damage to established editors here. --Tryptofish (talk) 01:03, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
Well, my point was that it is a satellite campus, not the main campus. There's also collateral damage when established editors become unhappy with having to deal with troublesome student edits. It's a matter of balancing the one against the other – the lesser of two evils, if you will. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:09, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

This talk about blocking IPs, doing detective work, and protecting articles is not the most reasonable solution. Should it be the case that some professor is the cause of a problem, and that may or may not be happening in this case, then there needs to be some process for someone with authority to contact the school and negotiate resolution to the problem.

This could start with contacting students, go to contacting a professor, progress to contacting a department chair, and then end at contacting a university ombudsman. As Wikimedia projects do more off-wiki outreach there needs to be more off-wiki regulation. The regulation can either come from a new hierarchical structure or it can be crowdsourced to whoever wants to do complaint management on behalf of the Wikimedia brand. In the past, some complaints against professors have been crowdsourced to a mix of hotheads, trolls, well-meaning untrained and incompetent people, and sometimes people who actually fix the problem. However, crowdsourcing relatively high-profile brand-impacting affairs like outreach to seek discipline for professors at universities probably ought not be haphazard. If this is not something for paid staff associated with Wikipedia education management, then it at least ought to be a task for someone who is reviewed in the same way that OTRS volunteers are reviewed if not how sysops are reviewed. Complaining about this is potentially na attack on a professor's livelihood and a university's reputation. This entire situation is trouble if anyone does anything and trouble if no action is taken, regardless of whether anyone contacts the school or professor directly.

There needs to be a system of turning over problems like this to someone who will take responsibility for them. This has more potential for bad media attention than other Wikipedia problems, and anyone who cares about the brand image of Wikimedia projects in the media has a stake in the handling of this. I would support the US Education Program having dedicated staff authorized by the community and the organization to receive and handle complaints like these in a standardized, community-endorsed way. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:04, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

I appreciate the goodwill in what you say here, but I think I need to point out that it's improbable that funds will be provided to hire more professional staff. (I'm basing that claim on recent discussions at the ArbCom talk page, where it was pointed out to me that WMF is unlikely to hire people to deal with some of the things that ArbCom does, even though similar arguments about the desirability of having professionals do it apply there.) As for complaints being a potential personal attack on a professor, comments here on-Wiki are far more benign in that regard than complaints to university administration would be. And frankly, most university administrations are going to take the "side" of the faculty member over that of Wikipedia, so we shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking that universities will help us all that much. (I say that as a long-time insider in higher education.) What we can control is what goes on on-Wiki. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:21, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
Having a designated Education program staff member as an "ombudsman" (or an easier-to-pronounce synonym) is something myself and several others involved with courses have supported. Someone who's main task is spotting problems, communicating with those involved, and good at putting out fires. If there is community support for such a position, I think it can happen. The Interior (Talk) 00:56, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
This is part of what's at stake in the edit I discuss here. Now, one thing is whether the Education Program (and or the Foundation proposed to run it) feels it has any responsibility for classes that are run outside of its remit. It would be nice if it felt it had an expanded remit, or some kind of (let's call it) moral leadership, but I'd quite understand if those involved want to wash their hands of such "underground" classes. On the other hand there certainly should be some kind of monitoring and attempt to resolve problems that arise within the program. This is an ongoing issue that so far the proposed board hasn't, so far as I can tell, wanted to address. See multiple conversations on this page, but also here. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 05:48, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
I agree; whatever happens to the EP, it seems to me that an ombudsman role such as The Interior outlines would be a good staff position to have. I believe Jami had occasion to take on this sort of task at least a couple of times -- for example it's mentioned above that she was one of the people who contacted Steve Joordens. I'd like to see that role continue. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:31, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

Reply from WoodSnake

Hey all ... yes those are likely students from my class. May I ask, exactly how wide spread is this problem? I see you noted three or four instances of problems, I assure you that is an extremely small percentage of the edits being made by my students, I assure you there are many good edits, and I further assure you that we are doing precise research on exactly this issue; how good are the edits, and how can we take advantage of the learning opportunity and the opportunity to add expertise to Wikipedia while minimizing collateral damage?

My reason for going "underground" was this ... in the previous instance Wikipedians were making vast over generalizations regarding a few problematic edits (see below!). We have been taking steps to further educate our students about Wikipedia formatting, editing and culture before asking them to make edits, and we are recording the effects and determining best practices ... and we're doing it in a programmatic scientific way. Yes errors are being made, and yes it's easy to hold a handful to the light and generalize this as just bad, when you're not even seeing the good edits. Did you all not make some errors when you first edited? Let he who has not sinned, and all that. My hope is that by bringing some students to Wikipedia, Wikipedia will eventually gain a highly educated core of editors with expertise, and this will be to the benefit of the quality of Wikipedia. But yes, these students do not begin as perfect beings. So we are researching the best way to in-culture them, measuring the effects, and arriving at best practices.

I am a scientist. I work with samples and means and I don't get all excited or completely upset by a individual datapoints. I'm interested in the big picture, and I'm interested in programmatic study and understanding. The vibe I got very early on is that some Wikipedians view Wikipedia as their turf, and believe it is their duty to defend it at all costs. They get immediately negative towards "immigrants", and yes that turned me off completely. Do you even know the rate of your own errors as you were "immigrating"? Would it not make more sense to welcome and assist these new users rather than attempt to drive them out or block them as suggested? I don't have the time or energy to argue over individual data points. I will happily share our data when it's ready to be shared, and I assure you I understand the desire to educate these students as much as possible before having them edit. But people learn from experience and from useful feedback from those who know. I would love to see some of that from the Wikipedia community instead of this strong push-back reaction.

That is my perspective ... my students represent a potential resource ... I have the responsibility of introducing them well and learning how to do so while causing the least damage. I do not think any of us should jump to conclusions before we really understand the whole picture, and that's what I'm trying to do. But you all should, in my opinion, also play the role of welcoming the immigrants and helping them to adjust to the culture. Marking something as "irrelevant crap" is not helpful and makes me really not want to discuss these issues. If you'd like to have reasoned discussion, then I'm interested, although please also understand that my life is extremely busy!

So let me leave you all with this question. Let's say 100 students make edits on my class. Some percentage of those edits are problematic, and the people who make them never get involved or change their edits to correct them. Let's call them group A. Some other percentage do the work OK, add some useful information at a decent rate, but then just go away from Wikipedia. Let's call them B. Finally, some percent of students really enjoy the experience, do it well, and continue to edit articles as you all do as they proceed through their studies. The become great Wikipedia citizens who make expert contributions. The vibe I get is that you guys want 0% As, which is probably never going to happen. We can minimize A, but we won't get to zero, ever. Is that really your desired criterion? Or would you be willing to put up with some percent of As (representing short term annoyance) for some other percent of Cs (representing long-term quality contributions). What percents would make you happy? Have you even thought of the upside of what I'm trying to do? WoodSnake (talk) 14:47, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

WoodSnake, many of us took psychology articles off our watchlists as a lost cause. How widespread is it? Give us a list of the articles edited and we'll look. We can't generally go around guessing that so-and-so is one of your students because that might be interpreted as outing. While I appreciate you've fallen out with the education programme, there is no reason, per transparency, for you not to list which students are in the class. Because you are responsible for their edits. You asked them to make them. Are you cleaning up their mistakes? No. Saying there were "a few problematic edits" with your class is not helpful. We need to you be honest with us here. The huge problems with your class in the past are well documented and on a large scale. The "add a factoid to Wikipedia" class assignment is not helping Wikipedia and never will no matter what analysis you perform on it. Wikipedia is not an experiment lab.
The edit (first diff above) to the lead of Axon (an important topic that gets over a thousand hits a day) was "irrelevant crap". There's no other way of spinning it. If the student was a plain vandal writing "Jonny is gay" then at least the reader could skip and it would be trivial to spot and remove it. Instead your students are damaging Wikipedia articles in an insidious way. It is quite clear your students generally haven't a clue what they are writing about. There's no point suggesting we "welcome and assist these new users" when they don't identify themselves, don't use talk pages, and their accounts are very temporary. We need you to open up wrt the classroom assignments you are setting. You don't need to do it through the programme, just a list in your user space would help. The community has no way of properly analysing their work otherwise. Is there an upside to what you are doing? Are there any of your "add a factoid" students in category C at all? Please I'd love to have even one example from your "mega classroom". Colin°Talk 16:07, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
"We need you to open up wrt the classroom assignments you are setting. You don't need to do it through the programme, just a list in your user space would help." I very much agree with this. At present it feels as though these students are less "immigrants" than secret agents. Moreover I think it would help you, them, and everyone else if there were one place in which discussions that arise from the project could take place. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 23:04, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
You're talking about reducing the bad edits to 0%, but in my experience they approach 100%. Look at the recent history of axon, insomnia, action potential, cerebral hemisphere, corpus callosum, and neurogenesis -- what fraction of those edits improve the articles? Looie496 (talk) 19:42, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
WoodSnake, thank you for coming here to comment. Please do me a big favor, and read Wikipedia:Assignments for student editors, and especially WP:INSTRUCTORS. As it happens, I'm an academic scientist too, many years tenure at a large US research university. Sure, I made mistakes when I first began editing. I still do! But I always try to listen to people who tell me I have made mistakes, and try to work with them cooperatively, not go underground. You are mistaken to think that Wikipedians regard the project as our turf that we have to defend from new editors. It's quite the opposite. But, like any other human institution, we have norms and rules. Our principle goal is to create an encyclopedia, not to provide you with an experimental protocol. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:32, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
"How I incorporate Wikipedia assignments in my mega (i.e., 1800 student) Introductory Psychology class" was the description of the 2013 talk at this workshop. I would be really curious to hear what kinds of things the professor said. I presume that this presentation was about the benefits of doing this. Blue Rasberry (talk) 19:51, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
Bluerasberry, thank you for not seeming so much like a villager with a torch and pitchfork charging up the hill to my residence! Guys, my intentions are good, and I am very open to working with the community to find ways to assess and maximize the quality contributions while minimizing negative effects on Wikipedia. Heck, part of my goal is to better spread knowledge about psychology via Wikipedia so I also want the quality to be high. That said, yes I do also come at this from an educational psychology bent ... if you want a taste you can search YouTube for my TEDxUTSC talk that relates to the use of Wikipedia in education. All that said, I have very strong negative reactions to what I see as the cyber-stalking of my students. I consider it improper and borderline (or not) illegal ... in fact in one recent case a "defender" acquired username information from a student in one of my classes so they could check up on edits. That is simply improper. BUT this is not to say we can't come up with appropriate ways of satisfying my goals and the larger goals of the Wikipedia community, and I am meeting with some people today to describe a proposal that would involve community members if they're willing to participate in a proper manner (i.e., research, not witch hunting). Here is the idea ... we give you a list of articles, with specific edits highlighted. Some of those edits were performed by my students ... others by Wikipedia editors at a similar (early) experience level. You guys judge the quality of those edits "blind" and therefore without bias. My Ph.D. student compiles the data and shares the results. We will choose student edits randomly, and will choose the control articles randomly, and we'll see how bad things really are. If there is truth to your concerns (and I do not suggest there are not ... I just trust cumulative data over witch hunts) then we will at least have a measure of how big the problem is, and whether we all can think of ways of reducing it ... not to zero, but to culturally accepted (i.e., control group) levels. If we deem that impossible in some cases (e.g., my very large class) then I can be convinced - by the data and not by the pitchforks - to give up on it despite the learning potential. But let's do this scientifically, shall we? I have invited a long term Wikipedia editor (and administrator) who approached me without pitchfork in hand to be part of the meeting along with another long term editor (and I think administrator) who is associated with UofT. So what do you say, do we approach this rationally, or do you want to continue with the cyberstalking and threats of IP blocking? WoodSnake (talk)
WoodSnake, thanks again for engaging here. I have a couple of comments in response. First, I'm not sure that selecting other users at a similarly early level is an appropriate control group, because editors who edit without external prompting via a class are self-motivated, and probably more likely to remain as long-term editors. The reason that experienced editors are glad to help new ones is that some of them will turn into productive editors. What data we have to date suggests that the retention rate from student editing is close to zero, which makes them not comparable to a control group of new editors. I think some consideration of retention rate would be necessary to make the two groups comparable. Second, new editors typically do not start by trying to add a single cited fact to an article; early edits are more often typo fixes and so on, which makes it easier for the editors to learn. This may make it hard to find a comparable control group, and might make it hard to interpret the results.
The most important point, however, is that the work your students are doing really is doing harm right now. I don't want to see a witch hunt, nor a block, but I do want to see some cooperative movement towards a better way of engaging your students. The evaluations that have been done on your students' work so far really are quite alarming -- surely you would agree that if the plagiarism rate does turn out to be over 80%, as the initial results indicate, then that can't be a positive outcome under any circumstances? I think some experiment such as you describe could be valuable, but given the feedback you're getting here -- both anecdotal and, to some degree, data-based -- it seems to me the right thing to do would be at a minimum to scale the experiment down to a size that, if your critics are right, is too small to cause significant damage. There are real people, all volunteers, having to do tedious work to correct the mistakes your students are making. We'd all be delighted if the upside happens, but please look at the data we have so far, and comment on that before going ahead with the next class or experiment.
Speaking for myself, I'd be willing to participate in an experiment such as you describe but only if I felt you had genuinely considered the data we are trying to assemble for your review, and only if I felt confident the scale was small enough that it would not be very harmful. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:42, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
Woodsnake, let me see if I'm understanding you correctly. You're "very open to working with the community", except when the community asks you to not do something you want to do, at which point you're not interested in listening to what the community is asking you to (not) do. You believe we are illegally cyber-stalking your students by attempting to clean up after the edits they're making, but you don't believe that you are in any way misusing our servers or volunteers by forcing through edits which you have repeatedly been asked to stop having your students make, and which need significant editor time to correct. You want to work "scientifically", in a "research"-oriented manner with Wikipedia to evaluate your students' edit quality, and you want to do this by operating a non-blind study in which you, the interested party, pick the data, and your student, another non-blind interested party, analyzes the results and presents Wikipedia with a fait accompli. Do I have this all correct? So basically you're going to do what you want, when you want it, even if you're asked to not do it; you're going to make borderline legal threats to those who attempt to clean up after you; and your idea of a compromise on these matters is a "study" the design and independence of which would get laughed out of town by anyone with so much as Psych 101 research experience. I don't even know how to respond to an overture like that except to say that all it appears to do is demonstrate even further how little you're interested in cooperating with Wikipedia in any way. It would be a catastrophic shame if Wikipedia was forced to block IPs belonging to your campus, or to contact someone higher in your department, because those things have serious consequences both for Wikipedia's openness and your ability to teach as you see fit, but if this is your best offer as far as minimizing the damage done by your students you may be leaving us little choice. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 17:32, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
I agree 100% with Fluffernutter, and I'll point out one more thing. In any study involving human participants, there is an ethical and moral requirement for informed consent. It seems to me that WoodSnake has already gotten very far into this "study" without any regard whatsoever for the consent of all the humans here at Wikipedia who have been confronted by the student edits. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:57, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
See meta:Research:Committee to contact the research board for ethical approval. I suggest that any professor doing this appear here with ethical review from the university's own human subject research board so as to bear the most of the burden of research review. I agree that this project has already put a substantial work burden of at least 100 hours on this volunteer community, and other people may have other estimates. Blue Rasberry (talk) 21:19, 2 April 2013 (UTC)

Per Wikipedia:No legal threats (plus the huge damage his class has caused) I've reported User:WoodSnake at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents#Class of 1700 students fill Wikipedia with plagiarism. Response from prof is accusation of illegal behaviour by editors. -- Colin°Talk 19:04, 2 April 2013 (UTC)

Hi Woodsnake, may I make a suggestion here? One of our biggest concerns is over plagiarism, now we may or may not have enough datapoints to prove that your students have as big a problem here as one of our recent bad experiences with undergraduate editing. But it would be very helpful if on your part you changed the metrics of your project to count undetected plagiarism as a bad edit instead of a surviving and therefore "good" edit; Remind your students of what plagiarism is and tell them that their edits are likely to be checked for it. And if you are going to get some PHD students to check samples of your students edits it would be much better from our perspective if you arranged for them to revert or correct those edits that they considered bad. ϢereSpielChequers 20:05, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
WereSpielChequers, tweaking the assignment in a minor way won't help. The main point of the exercise is to set assignments that don't need to be assessed by a paid human-being from UoT. See the "Note from Wikipedia Education Program" below. Such large scale unsupervised assignments don't work on Wikipedia. In addition, the whole concept of adding a factoid to a serious article topic as a means of improving Wikipedia is fundamentally mistaken. As someone elsewhere commented, this doesn't create an article, it creates a collage. Colin°Talk 07:52, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
Hi Colin, perhaps I was drawing too many parallels between this and the Indian Education program - but I think one albeit disputed allegation is that 85% of these edits involved plagiarism, so in my view it wouldn't be a minor change to try and fix that. Now there may be other changes that he also needs to make, but I think it would be helpful if we were very clear both as to the changes that we want made to this program and the measures that we will otherwise need to take. Personally I'm quite happy to semi protect articles being damaged by this and also would support a general block of the Toronto area, but only as a last resort after trying to persuade this Academic to bring his program into line with our policies. When it comes to adding missing facts to articles, well this is a crowd sourced site, if someone makes a minor improvement to an article, whether by fixing a typo or adding a missing factoid then we should support that. If the information is incorrect, irrelevant, spammy or as alleged in this case, largely plagiarism then we don't want it and we are of course entitled to defend the integrity of this site through our usual tools of protecting articles and blocking accounts and IP addresses. Where I suspect we need to develop policy is in the issue of compulsory editing. We are a volunteer site, and we should embrace new goodfaith volunteers even where they make newbie mistakes. But students on an assignment are not volunteers, they may not have the commitment to quality that we expect of new volunteers who are making edits for purely altruistic reasons, and our investment in cleaning up after their initial edits is unlikely to be repaid in future high quality contributions. Perhaps we need to change our policies to "any volunteer" can edit, and specify that students editing under instruction to do so are only welcome if their instructor checks their edits; But I'm not aware that we already have that as explicit policy rather than our implicit policies about disruptive editing. ϢereSpielChequers 20:42, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:Assignments which is my attempt to draft a policy that addresses precisely this fact: people editing under instruction are different and the responsibilities don't fully lie with the editor. As for minor tweaks, I agree that eliminating plagiarism would be a major bonus (but insufficient to make me happy with the assignment goal) but adding a stick to the process is insufficient -- the assignment design is almost guaranteed to produce plagiarism in all but the most talented and wise of students. Colin°Talk 20:59, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
Hello all ... you're friendly neighborhood villain here. After speaking with Philippe yesterday I think I have a much better understanding of how all of this controversy came about. I'm not going to speak directly to some of the claims that are being made because I think they are mostly wrong but, more importantly, that they miss the main point. I've prepared the following piece and this is what I am sending to any reporters or the like who ask for my perspective. I humbly ask that you guys just read it with an open mind. In the immortal words of Frankenstein, I am not a monster ... and we are not enemies. OK, here it is ... WoodSnake (talk) 16:33, 4 April 2013 (UTC)
Misunderstanding of Intent and Capacity
I added an optional Wikipedia editing assignment to my extremely large (i.e., now 1900 student) Introductory Psychology course; what was I thinking, and why did this result in so much outrage on the part of the Wikipedia community directed towards me and my institution? Part of my course includes a discussion of the scientific method, a discussion that ends with me highlighting the responsibility of all researchers to communicate the results of their research with the world: so-called dissemination of findings. I thought that adding a Wikipedia assignment, one that asked students to my small scale edits (i.e., add one new piece of information) would directly involve them in the process and – assuming that most did their edits well – that in the process we would be enhancing the quantity and quality of Psychology related information on Wikipedia. My students would gain a great learning experience that would bring their learning to life, and Wikipedia would benefit in the short-term (via the edits made) and perhaps in the longer term as well (via some students perhaps becoming long-term editors). This is what I was thinking.
What was I not thinking? Well, I now realize, after a discussion from Philippe Beaudette from the WikiMedia Foundation – the first individual that seemed to tolerate a reasonable exchange of views on this issue – that I held an assumption that was simply incorrect. Specifically, what always amazed me and so many others about the success of Wikipedia is that it stood as a clear demonstration of the power of crowd sourcing. When an editor changes a Wikipedia page, they usually improve it (i.e., add “signal” to the information) but they also sometimes do something problematic like post mis-information, improperly cite, fail to use a neutral voice, and yes even copy/paste in someone else’s words (i.e., noise). But the beauty of crowd sourcing is that as other eyes assess the edits then slowly, and thanks almost totally to the existing editor base, the noise gets cleaned up. This iterative process ultimately leads to very strong articles, at least in areas where the current editor base has the expertise to tell signal from noise. In fact tied to my intention was the idea that perhaps we would induce more psychology students into the editorial fold and that, as they developed their skills, they would be the ones ultimately “cleaning up” the psychology related articles, articles that are sorely in need of work (see the APS Wikipedia Challenge for more information on that).
But here was my mistake: I assumed that the current core of editors was extremely large and that the introduction of up to 1000 new editors would be seen as a positive. However, the current core of editors turns out NOT to be that large, and even if my students were bringing signal along with noise, the noise was just too much to deal with on the scale it was happening. Thus what I interpreted as a resistance to Wikipedia “immigrants” was really a resistance to the sheer number of immigrants arriving at once. I was expecting too much of the current Wikipedia community, they became annoyed and frustrated and thanks to what I now view as our mutual misunderstanding of the problem, things became heated to a point I personally found somewhat ridiculous.
Now that I understand the constraints of immigration, and now that at least some members of the Wikipedia community are putting down their digital pitchforks, it is becoming more and more obvious to me that we all share the same goal of improving the quality and quantity of information on Wikipedia, and if we could find ways of working together while also being respectful of one another, we could really do some great things. That means me being more respectful of the capacity limits of Wikipedia, and being even more aggressive in terms of trying to pre-train editors before they edit. Some training was in fact part of the learning experience, but I have no doubt we can do better, and I simply will not unleash large numbers of new editors if the capacity of Wikipedia cannot handle it. So I need to respect that.
In turn, the Wikipedia community needs to afford more respect to my students, if not to me. A core responsibility of mine is to protect the privacy of my students. Wikipedians have asked for all their usernames and I have refused. But I do not refuse to be obstinate. Rather I am bound by law to protect the privacy of my students and given that some of them have personally identifying information in their profiles I simply cannot provide usernames. Moreover, if I did I know what would happen because I’ve seen it. Each username would be traced in a quest for the noise, noise that would be held up and exaggerated as if it were the most horrible piece of information on the planet, as if the majority of new editors didn’t produce the very same errors early in the game. This is not being respectful, nor is it being honest. The problem is not that some of my students produce some noise, it is that there are simply too many students. I hope we can all agree on that.
So what is the solution? Well, IF the noise could be reduced to a very low amount via better training then MAYBE introducing large numbers of editors to Wikipedia could be managed without overburdening the current group of core editors. But any attempt in that direction would require closer oversight than it has been given to date. We have been collecting data, and I will present some below. But given the distrust that at least some members of the Wikipedia community have for me, it is clear that we either stop doing this with my large class, or we do it in close association with the WikiMedia foundation, while also allowing the WikiMedia foundation to shut things down should they deem that necessary. I am OK with that. With the right ethics protocol in place I think we can share username information with them, and perhaps with help from the Wikipedia community we could assess the overall effects of this on the health and wellbeing of Wikipedia.
So let me end this by coming back to the original point. One responsibility of a scientist is to share their data. My Ph.D. student is now writing up a full description of our study and I will share that immediate with Philippe when it’s done, and he can share it from there. But I want to highlight the following. Of those students who did do the Wikipedia editing assignment, 32% continue to edit Wikipedia articles after the course was over. In fact, in total, 910 articles were edited for grades, and 530 were edited thereafter by students who became interested in editing Wikipedia articles. We are bringing new editors into Wikipedia. Moreover, of the 910 articles edited only 33 were tagged, only 3 for vandalism or suspected vandalism reasons. Of the 530 edited by students outside of the course only 3 were tagged, none for vandalism (1 section blanking, 2 categories removed). So the larger point is that good content is being added, future editors are being attracted, and if we can further reduce the signal to noise ratio then the model I am presenting to the Wikipedia community could be a strong positive influence. That’s a strong change of attitude for me to hope for, but I’m a positive guy in general.
So let me end then by apologizing for not fully understanding the capacity issues, and for not addressing this issue as well as I might have earlier on. Frankly, I didn’t understand the problem, and now that I do I better understand the frustrations that my assignment gave rise to. I would love to continue to run these assignments because, from my perspective, they provide a great learning experience for students and they benefit Wikipedia. I am happy to perform direct research with the WikiMedia group to find ways of doing this that do not strain the capacity of Wikipedia, assuming that is possible. If we can find such ways, and if the Wikipedia community can be convinced that I am not a monster, then I sincerely love the idea of all of us working together to create a model that will strengthen Wikipedia and ultimately reduce the workload on current editors by bringing in new ones with unique areas of expertise. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:22, 4 April 2013 (UTC)
WoodSnake, thank you so very much for your thoughtful and detailed reply here! And thanks as well to Philippe for his excellent efforts! This is my reaction to what you said, one editor's opinion only. I think that the direction you are now taking is a very good one. I also ask you not to lump every Wikipedia editor into a single category, and recognize that we are not all running around with pitchforks. If you look at what I, individually, have said to you earlier in this talk thread, as well as what numerous other editors have said, you will see that this is true. Again, I will ask you to please read WP:ASSIGN, because I think that will go a long way to help you understand Wikipedia's perspective. I'll also ask you to think about informed consent for your experiment, as it applies to the editor population here. --Tryptofish (talk) 16:35, 4 April 2013 (UTC)
As the editor who first raised this problem (for the current iteration), let me say that I did so because I hated having to revert all those student edits, but I felt that I had no choice. My goal through all of this has been to make sure that it doesn't happen again, and so the one remaining thing I ask for is an unambiguous commitment not to carry out any further mass editing projects without approval from Wikipedia's education board. That could be read as implicit in what you wrote, but I think at this point it needs to be made fully explicit. Regards, Looie496 (talk) 16:48, 4 April 2013 (UTC)
I'm also very pleased to see this olive branch from Woodsnake. However, I don't think supervision of his students' edits should be negotiable - if students are somehow creating personally-identifying usernames or user pages which cannot be linked onwiki, the solution is to caution them against releasing that type of information, not to deliberately obscure their connection to the project. We even have a policy which will let us permanently delete from history any such disclosures by students who didn't understand the magnitude of what they were disclosing. They by no means have to identify who they are in the real world on Wikipedia, but they have to identify themselves as editing from an education project. The history of the Education Program, in general, and Woodsnake's classes, in particular, has shown us that is is important to have experienced editors keeping an eye on student editors, because when large (or even small or medium-sized) groups of new editors are sent here with limited familiarity with our policies, problems are inevitable. That means someone experienced has to be watching, to prevent damage to the project - someone who has experience with wikipedia, not just a professor or TAs who mostly don't. Now, we don't need the students' real names, or their addresses, or their ages, or anything like that, to do this watching. All we need is their usernames, which can be absolutely as obscure and non-identifying as the students wish them to be, and for which Woodsnake can use a private rubric we don't need to see linking which username goes with which student's real name - but we need to have that username list if there's any hope of supervising the assignment(s), which I, at least, feel is a non-negotiable aspect of any class being allowed to run classroom projects on Wikipedia. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 20:25, 4 April 2013 (UTC)
I agree with all of that. Identifying the students by user name has nothing to do with identifying them in real life. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:55, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
+1. Identifying large student groups making similar edits is necessary. So is a central point of contact for the class. @Woodsnake - tracking contributions from a cohort of editors is not "cyberstalking"; it's unkind to suggest such a thing. If you are concerned about students' work being tied to their real names, advise them in choosing pseudonyms. – SJ + 08:54, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
indeed. A little late to the party, but one thing that I try to convey when teaching Wikipedia is that you are entering a real-world editorial environment. Imagine putting all those students into the newsroom of a working, high-quality newspaper. Some stuff would get kept, some would be mercilessly cut; a learning curve is implied, but is necessarily steep and short. For what it's worth, that's largely what Wikipedia is like day to day, but with the additional problems of very large scale. I also agree that your students should be advised that they should choose an appropriate pseudonym, or if they use their real name it will probably become the highest google hit on their name (whether or not you consolidate this information; that's just the nature of Wikipedia). -- phoebe / (talk to me) 20:08, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
Steve (if I may): I likewise welcome your lengthy response. Nor is this the first time that you've come to this page to explain where you're coming from. I very much think that it's better if any projects such as yours take place in the open, with the responsibility and accountability that that entails. And yes, though there are many thousands of Wikipedia editors, this is a big place and it can't be assumed that mistakes will always swiftly and effortlessly be corrected. Ironically, this is especially true when it comes to the correction of sourced material: while it's relatively easy for outright vandalism to be reverted (there are even automated processes to do that), the kinds of mistakes that many of your students have been making are much less likely to be spotted, and more time-consuming to fix. In some ways this means that the well-intentioned editor can cause much more damage than the malicious one. Which is why people have reacted rather strongly against the notion that Wikipedians can and should simply clean up after a project such as this one.
To be honest, I'm not sure that a Wikipedia assignment makes sense in a class as big as the one you're teaching. I'd love to be proved wrong, but I don't see it. Myself, I'm currently teaching a course that's much larger than those I usually teach--and to make matters worse, it's on texts and authors that are much more mainstream and canonical than those I usually cover. Finally, it's also a first-year class, rather than the upper-division seminars that I tend to have. Hence, though I'd love to find a way to use Wikipedia in this course, I've decided it's simply impossible. It's both much more likely that student contributions will tend to be unhelpful rather than positive (through no real fault of their own); and it would also be much more difficult for me to have any reasonable oversight of what they are doing. And I think you do need real oversight, because as has been pointed out proxy indicators such as whether or not an edit "sticks" simply aren't reliable enough.
But yes, this is a conversation that should continue. I hope it does. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 11:49, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

It's good to see the class's work being analysed by two very different groups (a grad student working with the prof, and editors here). I hope the raw data is shared so we can compare the results; right now the rough estimates of the two different efforts are quite different. – SJ + 08:54, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

Further replies to Woodsnake

(creating a break because the section was very long)

I'm glad to see one light bulb has gone on, though many more are needed IMO, to appreciate all that has gone wrong here and what is acceptable never mind desirable. Yes, there are only a handful of editors supervising the whole of psychology and neuroscience between them. I think LovaFalk in particular is owed an apology after her watchlist burnt out with the strain and she (rightly) went on a Wikibreak unable to cope. I don't see any offer help clean up the mess that has been made.

I think you need to reflect on your response to the reaction you got here (way back to 2011). What I continue to see in your writing is that because you think you are doing a good thing, those jumping up and down and trying to stop you must be crazy, irrational, misguided, ignorant and dangerous. Your comment about Phillipe ("the first individual that seemed to tolerate a reasonable exchange of views on this issue") reflects your own psychology where you continue to treat editors here as noisy children. Without diminishing Phillipe's skills in negotiation, the prime reason IMO you listened to him was that Phillipe is an authority figure you had to treat with respect. What needs to change, WoodSnake, is for you to treat us Wikipedians with respect and not as children. Those involved in this discussion are mostly professionals with degrees who are intelligent and rational. Many of us have experience with teaching and assessing student work. Some have run classes on Wikipedia that have been successful. You grudgingly admit to one (whopper of a) mistake but still maintain everything else you are doing is great. Let me make it clear that your class exercise is a textbook example of all the things that can go wrong with student editing and should be avoided. Truly a car crash of an assignment.

Your assumption "that most did their edits well" is just one other fundamental flaw to take as an example. There are pretty obvious reasons why your assignment would generate bad edits. We highlighted many of them in 2011 but you chose not to listen.

Wrt the signal/noise analogy, many factors concerning your assignment guarantee that more noise will be created and that such noise is in fact not detected or fixed. Take one example. Even among those students who actually managed a useful citation, we frequently see them source their work to your class textbook. Do you realise there is not a single editor on Wikipedia who has this book, who is an experienced Wikipedian, who understands psychology/neuroscience and who has the time to review hundreds of edits all made on the 22nd March 2013. Not one. And plagiarism is just the worst of the many flaws in the edits being made.

Wrt privacy. Your students are editing a public website. We absolutely reserve the right to review these edits and to analyse editing patterns. If you aren't prepared to release your class list in future then don't edit here. Simple as that. Not negotiable. We can't have guerilla class assignments. The other classes working with the education programs see no problems producing class lists, so I see no legal or ethical problems with this here. If you continue to "fly under the radar" then your account will be blocked and efforts made to prevent students from UoT editing.

You say the "noise [was] held up and exaggerated " and this is not "being honest" and "The problem is not that some of my students produce some noise, it is that there are simply too many students. I hope we can all agree on that." No we can't agree on that. And calling us dishonest is no way for you to begin to mend relationships here. Until you appreciate the sheer awfulness and harm of the student edits made by your megaclass, we can't really move on.

I can't comment on editor retention figures because they aren't public. What is clear is that none of your students continue to edit using the accounts made for the class.

Wrt quality, you say "of the 910 articles edited only 33 were tagged, only 3 for vandalism or suspected vandalism reasons... So the larger point is that good content is being added." The reality-distortion matrix that must be in place round Toronto is especially strong today. I don't know how you are detecting "tagged" articles, as you put it, but your measure of quality is quite inappropriate. Really, it looks like you are saying that unless some bot tagged the edit with "suspected vandalism" or "section blanking" that you think the edit is "good".

It is clear that you have not accessed the quality of writing or amount of plagiarism with your own eyes or those of your assistants. Your PhD's analysis, using some computer program, is utterly worthless. I can't stress this enough. Until you appreciate that edit quality can only be assessed by a human who is (a) a Wikipedian and (b) knowledgeable in the subject matter and (c) has access to the source and (d) has a lot of time for this (i.e., it is their job) then your impression of what good or bad is being done is simply worthless.

The "strong change of attitude" you desire needs to come from you, I'm afraid. You've got a long way further to grasp the reasons why your assignment is hugely flawed and your mechanical assessment approach is worthless. -- Colin°Talk 12:04, 5 April 2013 (UTC)

Colin, as an aside—while I appreciate and generally endorse your frustration with Woodsnake's conduct and responses to criticism, it would be helpful to dial back a just a touch on the broad-brush sarcasm ("the reality-distortion matrix...around Toronto") and implied threats ("efforts made to prevent students from UoT editing"). Toronto is North America's fourth-largest city (bigger than Chicago, smaller than Los Angeles), and home to hundreds of self-identified – and probably tens of thousands of not-specifically-identified – Wikipedia editors. The University of Toronto is Canada's largest university system, with more than eighty thousand students and some thousands of faculty spread across many different campuses and locations. Damning all of them because one professor demonstrated poor judgement is unfair, and threatening to block them all isn't even technically credible. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 12:52, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
I appreciate you are trying to be diplomatic and nobody will ever give me the barnstar of diplomacy, but cut me a bit more slack will you. I've just been called a criminal and a liar by this professor, after spending my Bank Holiday weekend reviewing his student's edits and this all after my 2011 report on his class was utterly ignored and dismissed by him and (some within the education program). The reality-distortion comment was pretty mild considering what could be said about his "worthless stats => good content" analysis. I agree blocking most of Toronto is unwise but there are other ways of preventing his class editing Wikipedia. That wasn't an implied threat or an idle one.
Perhaps folk here want to reflect that most of the 910 articles these students have edited now have copyright violations in them. A good third perhaps from one textbook. A large proportion of those edits have no citation or some random impenetrable url within the UoT intranet. Is anyone doing anything about that? Is Joordens, now that he appreciates there are about three editors watchlisting psychology articles and not three thousand, going to employ someone to work with Wikipedia to review and fix this? Perhaps they could write up their findings and publish them. Or do we all shrug our shoulders, kiss and make up, and hope next time isn't as bad? I don't see this happening while Joordens continues to believe his students did good work according to his mistaken method of assessing student edit quality. And I'd bet his PhD student's work is founded on this too along with some up-and-coming academic paper. To quote one of Doc James' inspriations:
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it. -- Upton Sinclair
Colin°Talk 17:34, 5 April 2013 (UTC)
TenOffAll review some of the edits in question. It will help you make an informed decision. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 01:10, 6 April 2013 (UTC)
I am grateful to both Jmh and Colin for the time you have put into these classes, from 2011 to the present. I also second TOA's request to calm down. You are both being just a bit more angry and dramatic than is helpful. – SJ + 23:58, 7 April 2013 (UTC)
Let me put it this way. If you aren't angry about this, you haven't really understood what has happened or you don't care. I don't think the latter applies to you, so... Colin°Talk 07:12, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
I don't see how anger is productive here: it is not helping get through to the professor or class in question. On the other hand, there are things we can do to ensure that the prof in this case, and future profs, don't make the same mistake; and to catch this sort of mistake in progress. – SJ + 10:57, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

Colin's dead right on this one. We have had similar experiences (never so many students though) on the articles supervised by WP:CM. Professors need to be willing to take responsibility for the results of such assignments. As it stands, it makes of the volunteer editor community forced teaching assistants, correcting, in effect, their students work. The professor's response is conciliatory, certainly, but Colin's core points are exact. Eusebeus (talk) 11:22, 6 April 2013 (UTC)

Wow, this debate is truly hilarious! As an educator, I've been griping about students plagiarizing content FROM Wikipedia for years and now the Wikipedia community is griping about students plagiarizing academic content TO Wikipedia!

From my perspective, It seems that Wikipedia as a whole is much more of a blight on academia than academia could ever be on Wikipedia. It presents information on important topics in such a surface-level manner that it is almost useless for all academic intents and purposes and, more importantly, the contributors are vetted only by their standing on Wikipedia itself! Are you really a doctor? I don't know… nobody does! And if you are, what kind? Is a general practitioner qualified to write about colon cancer? I don't know, and Wikipedia doesn't care!

When it comes to the plagiarism debate, I believe Wikipedia and it's editors share equally in the responsibility with academic institutions by making the information readily available to students. It's like Wikipedia editors are the drug dealers tempting our children and instructors like Mr Joordens are the negligent parents who send their child out into the world and only say "be good". Like it or not we are all responsible for what we put out into the world. Wikipedia editors should be held accountable for how people use the information they publish in the same way that Mr Joordens and any educator who directs his or her students to edit Wikipedia should be held accountable for how the students edit the articles. While I understand that enforcement of this "high responsibility" would be next to impossible for an educator as you don't know what students will do until after they do it (or is precrime detection a reality yet?), it would be somewhat easier to enforce amongst Wikipedia editors in cases where ambiguous edits or outdated information posted on Wikipedia lead to personal injury or loss by a consumer of the information (e.g., medical or financial information). Let's face it: Wikipedia has no place in academia just like academia has no place on Wikipedia. Thus, I agree that Wikipedia should implement an IP block: not just of Mr Joordens students, but of all academic institutions globally. Students are not qualified to edit Wikipedia articles and they definitely should not be using them to complete assignments, so why even make it accessible from these locations? Likewise, any institution that wants to maintain academic integrity should implement an IP block and restrict access to Wikipedia.

Anyway, that's just my two cents. I don't mean to deride Wikipedia… I use it all the time for quick reference on non-critical topics. It's just to say that until Wikipedia vets it's editors and limits their contributions to the scope of their expertise (and maybe even adopt in a peer review system, that's "peer" not "user") it will not be up to academic standards and thus incompatible with any meaningful academic endeavour. This whole debate proves what I've been saying for years: students should not be allowed to use or edit Wikipedia under any circumstance (except for looking up fictional characters from their favourite TV shows of course). I think that to prevent plagiarism and to truly increase the quality of information on Wikipedia the registration and editing process should require real names and personal information (e.g., supported by government-issued identification and professional registration). The contributions could still be anonymized by account name, but at least Wikipedia could then limit the scope of the user's editing rights on the back end and have a greater degree of quality control and assurance. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:46, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

Indeed, plagiarism is an issue for both academics and Wikipedians. I've been saying for ages now that this is one good reason to make common cause, instead of both sides viewing each other with such suspicion. For even if you wanted to ban Wikipedia from academia or vice versa, the geni is long out of the bottle. More useful, indeed, is to teach students how to read Wikipedia (and by extension any similar text) critically and thoughtfully. I have found that the best way to teach students how to read Wikipedia is to show them how it works; and the best way to do that, is to get them editing.
Incidentally, this is where I somewhat disagree with Wikipedia:Assignments. I don't see any particular reason why "The purpose of [a school] assignment must be to improve Wikipedia as an encyclopaedia. Any other purposes are secondary..." Depending on the context, other purposes may be primary: I don't think we should second-guess the kinds of assignments that might or should be set. The point is that the bottom line is that any benefit to Wikipedia should significantly outweigh any costs. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 11:32, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
That page is very draft. But "improve Wikipedia" is just that -- a fairly easy hurdle to achieve. It isn't to "make Wikipedia great" or "write featured articles" or anything else one might argue is starting to get in the way of students learning or classroom practicalities. Once your intention is simply to improve Wikipedia, then you can have all sorts of other priorities. Colin°Talk 12:10, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
To the IP editor who commented, your "blight on both houses" post raises a lot of interesting insights. But we here at Wikipedia are only a blight on academia to the extent that the professoriate allows students to cite us. As much as I hope that, someday, Wikipedia will become an academically reliable source (and I believe it's continually inching closer), I never allowed Wikipedia as a source for college papers by my own students, and I'd discourage it for anyone else's students. It's useful to use Wikipedia as a first read, to get an overall feel for a subject, before turning to academically solid sources that one will ultimately cite. I also said once, when I spoke about Wikipedia to an academic audience, that if you read an article here, it's a good idea to come back and read it again a few days later, in case anything got corrected in the mean time. You may be interested to know that the kinds of medical or financial how-to information you describe correctly as having the potential to do real-world harm is prohibited by policy here. That doesn't prevent such edits from showing up, but experienced editors will try to delete it when we find it. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:43, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

Another section break

Let me just respond to a few of the points here. Maybe other professors have shared their class usernames but according to our Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection law in Ontario, I just can't do that (and yes I have double checked). Despite the warnings I could give students posting their usernames might lead to their identification, and especially when the goal of providing student names is so clearly to track down mistakes, I am sure no ethics committee would allow them to be shared publicly. Perhaps the other professors's schools have different privacy protection laws or perhaps they just haven't looked into the issue deeply and, once they do, they might see the potential problem. That said, Philippe and I have discussed ways in which some people at Wikimedia might have access to usernames as long as our Ethics committee recognizes them as an "honest broker". I'm looking into this now. If their privacy can be protected I have no problem with their edits being looked at en mass, or even being randomly sampled to assess accuracy (an appropriate method). I do have a problem with editors intent on finding problems tracking down usernames one by one with the clear goal of finding individual problematic edits rather than looking at group trends. This is the witch hunt process that feels so offensive.

Let me also say that I didn't just decide to do a Wikipedia assignment on a whim. I was invited to a summit sponsored by Wikimedia wherein they were encouraging these kinds of assignments, and I even asked one high ranking member point blank whether it would be a problem to try small edits with my huge class. He encouraged me to "go for it". Never was the capacity issue mentioned, and never was it even suggested that specific editors would be overburdened. To those that were I do indeed apologize ... I had no idea this would cause the stress it did. This "get students editing" message was echoed by the APS Wikipedia Initiative, again without any warning about capacity limits or stressing editors. To the uninitiated, the whole crowd-sourcing thing does seem a little magical. There is certainly a vibe of "get people editing and good things just happen", a message that is fueled largely by the success of Wikipedia. To me, the message was "Wikipedia wants students editing, APS wants students working on Psych related articles, I see all the great educational benefits of doing this ... why not?"

Yes I was "warned" of a problem last year, but the warning was phrased in the same tones as Colin is using here, tones that make it hard for anyone to comply with. Note that, it was never made clear to me that so few editors were be so heavily taxed by my classes' work ... that THAT is what made my students different from any other new editors. Instead, as was the case here,everything was completely focused on how bad my students' edits were. I have great students for the most part, and I know the vast majority care about their work. And I'm sure every new Wikipedia editor makes mistakes as they learn, why pick on my class? The claims being made were (and remain) ridiculous (85% plagiarism?) and only based on usernames they tracked down ... how? ... because there were problems? Doesn't that process cause one to find a high level of problems? So pardon me if I took the claims of the magnitude of the problem as massively overblown, and if I thought the mere occurrence of problems was a natural first step of crowd-sourcing knowledge. But, despite the tone I did indeed heed the call to try to improve edits. We enhanced training, requiring all students to go through training items and score 100% on a multiple choice test covering editing, proper citations, and Wikipedia format and culture. So yes I tried to improve quality, and more can be done there ... I just wish the real problem had been more clearly presented.

So the real question for me now is this. Assuming we (myself, my student and individuals from WikiMedia) could come up with some process wherein they help us to further ramp up training, wherein they have oversight with respect to the edits, and wherein I agree to cease and desist if they deemed the edits a problem ... is this something you guys welcome or not? Colin seems to want me and my class (and my city? Colin, come to Toronto, we're nice people!) gone from Wikipedia, and would consider that a victory for Wikipedia. Philippe (and some others here) seem interested in the notion of using my class as a test-ground for the proper introduction of new editors and new training methods. Now that I better understand the situation it sounds to me like a new group of Wikipedia editors with expertise in areas like Psychology might be exactly what Wikipedia needs ... to me it seems to be one answer to your editor shortage, and it would be great to feel like my class is helping with that too because I believe in what Wikipedia is all about and I very much would like to see good Psychology articles there. But I thrive on working "with" people. Working "against" people is not my idea of a conducive environment for solving problems and coming to innovative solutions. So, in the immortal words of The Clash, should I stay or should I go? Let Philippe know what you think. I'll communicate directly with him from this point forward. For what it's worth though (Buffalo Springfield), I think it would be great if we could all work together on this. WoodSnake (talk) 13:53, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

I can only speak for myself, obviously, but here are the concerns I would need to see resolved - ahead of time and solidly - before I would be comfortable with you resuming your class projects. Some of these you've addressed in general terms, some you haven't, but all would need to be addressed in specific terms for me to be comfortable:
  1. Supervision. You and I (and others) have addressed this in general terms already, but I would need to see a solid plan, in place and staffed, for how some sort of non-privacy-violating supervision mechanism would work. It sounds like you think the WMF could do the supervision, but WMF is very, very careful to have nothing to do with content work on these projects, so unless there's something they're not telling us, that won't be a solution. If your local privacy laws are as draconian as you say, it may be a regretful fact that there's simply no way for you to use Wikipedia for educational assignments.
  2. Purpose. You've hinted previously about this project being something you and your grad students plan to analyze for scientific purposes, but the Education Program isn't here to be a convenient way for professors to do research - it's here to engage students. If you're doing this work to teach your students, and maybe get some Wikipedia experience for yourself, great! But if you're doing it, even partially, hoping to get a paper out of watching it all happen and analyzing your students and/or the community here, that's not ok with me (and, I suspect, the community). Researchers are required to get approval (completely separate from the Education Program) through the WMF to conduct research upon the Wikipedia community, and until you do that you haven't got the right to use Wikipedia as an experimental venue.
  3. Flexibility. Because we know we've run into problems before, any plan for resuming your classes' editing must be flexible on short notice. You must be able to start and stop the assignment on the spot in response to community concerns, and you must be prepared to deal in a timely manner with any student or students who are misusing their editing rights. "The semester is almost over, the editing will stop then" or "Well I talked to the class, it's not my fault if they don't listen" aren't going to be acceptable - if there's a problem, there's no project until that problem stops. This probably also means working from nothing up (pilot with a few students, then if that works, another pilot with more, etc, rather than dumping a whole class or section onto the thing at once) so you can pinpoint the point at which you lose that flexibility. Which leads into...
  4. Responsibility. It will be your responsibility to make sure your students, both individually and as a group, are under control at all times with regard to the way they treat the resource you're asking them to work with. This also means that if someone approaches you on Wikipedia with a concern, even if you feel they approached you uncharitably or rudely, it is still your responsibility to address that concern. You can't do the thing you appear to have done up to now, which is write off the "complainers" as a bunch of rude crackpots who specialize in overreaction, and therefore justify writing off the problems they were pointing out, as well.
In short, I'd be willing to see your students return to similar projects, but I would expect to see a solid-as-rock project plan beforehand, and I would then expect you to adhere to the responsibilities of that project plan. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 14:42, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
Hi WoodSnake. With regards to usernames, you're asking your students to contribute to a collaborative project where their work effects other users. The consequence of giving a student an assignment that has an impact on the real world is that the student's actions can have consequences beyond the classroom. I don't think its unreasonable for other editors to be able to see where the edits are coming from and to contact the editor - that's just part of working in a collaborative environment. I don't see why the students can't have usernames of the form UTPsych1 through UTPsych1700. I don't know what Canadian law specifies, but I've looked at the relevant US law (FERPA) and my understanding is that directory information about students can be made public as long as the student has the option to opt out. (See for instance, this FAQ from UTexas or this FAQ from UWashington). I don't see how a randomly-assigned username with no personally identifiable information would be problematic.
I would also advise you to consider whether the assignment design you've chosen is the best approach. Given that this is an introductory level course, do you feel that students have sufficient experience as writers or sufficient experience with the topic to feel comfortable contributing without plagiarizing or closely paraphrasing? Would it make more sense to use this assignment with a more advanced course or with an honors section? Do you feel that your assignment design gives students enough motivation to make a meaningful contribution? It sounds like you're asking students to add a fact to an article for extra credit. Is this worth enough to the students for them to take it seriously, or is this something they're planning on knocking off in 10 minutes without really thinking too carefully about?
I'm currently a campus ambassador for courses at two prestigious universities, and I think the students in my courses have been, overall, quite successful. I know that there are some limitations here - you can't do the same things with a 25-person course that you can do with a 1700-person course - but I'd encourage you to think about how these professors have designed their assignments, because they have been very successful. In my course on the History of the American West at Boston College, the professor is using this assignment as the equivalent of a term paper - something that the students worked on for several months. The students' assignment was to expand articles that are currently stubs. The assignment proceeded in stages: first, the students identified sources, then they drafted an outline, then they wrote a draft in a sandbox, then they reviewed each others' drafts and, finally, they will integrate their sandbox drafts into the article. The students understand that this is a major assignment and they are taking it seriously. There have been a few areas that have caused confusion - such as some of the technical stuff around citations - but the quality of the student work has been very high. Since the students have drafted the content first, the course staff has an opportunity to gently consult with the students if some aspect of their work is problematic before it reaches the general wikipedia community. Also, the students are working on articles that are very much under-developed. The potential to cause problems is pretty minimal, since nobody has done anything significant with these articles. It looks like your students are working on articles on major topics like axon or insomnia, where the articles are already well-developed.
Going forward, what I'd like to see is a collaboration between the course staff and the community on how we can make this project more successful. I think people contribute to this noticeboard because they want to see more classes use Wikipedia, not because they want to keep teachers and students away. We should focus our discussion on what we can do to make this work in the future, not on the details of what happened. GabrielF (talk) 14:46, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
Woodsnake, just a quick note of explanation, as I think the "85% plagiarism" number was taken from a post I made to your talk page. What I said there was that of 19 student contributions for which we'd been able to look at the source, 16 had been found to contain some form of plagiarism. That was true then; the numbers now are 19 out of 23 -- that is, of four more for which the source has been examined, three contained plagiarism. I would not be surprised if the final percentage was much lower than this -- this is a small sample. What I called it on your talk page was "discouraging", which I think is true. I can see how you might regard this as a witch hunt, but from my point of view what I was doing was trying to gather data to help you and us agree on the impact your students were having. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:36, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
WoodSnake, I agree very much with Fluffernutter's numbered points. About student confidentiality, you can advise students to use usernames that are non-identifying: I challenge anyone to figure out who Tryptofish is in real life! I can sympathize with the conflicting messages you have gotten, so, just as you are coming to realize that the enthusiasm of the person who encouraged you to "go for it" is not universally shared, please understand that neither is Colin's tone. The way Wikipedia works, you are not guaranteed that everyone who responds to you will be either representative of everyone else, or that they will be pleasant to deal with. There's no admissions office here. But if you blow off what other people say, when they say it in a way that you dislike, you may well come to find that there was something you would have benefited by listening to. And that goes for your students too, when they encounter established editors here. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:58, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
Response by Colin
The data and methods and commentary made by me and others here are plain for anyone to see and review and repeat or reject. Was I "intent on finding problems tracking down usernames one by one with the clear goal of finding individual problematic edits rather than looking at group trends". Go judge for yourselves. Was this a "witch hunt" by a "cyber stalker" keen to "exaggerate" and be "dishonest" with the figures. Or just an honest, if limited, attempt by several editors to review the edits and test for plagiarism.
There are several claims by Joordens: "I had no idea this would cause the stress it did", "it was never made clear to me that so few editors were be so heavily taxed by my classes' work", "I just wish the real problem had been more clearly presented", and that prior warnings were in "tones that make it hard for anyone to comply with". So look at the previous assessment from 2011. Among the conclusions are "The experiment assumed that bad material would not survive Wikipedia's quality control, and that edit retention could be used to semi-automate the assessment of students. This is a flawed assumption. Psychology is a neglected subject. And even on popular subjects, the actual number of committed Wikipedians able to police edits is generally over-estimated.". On the talk page, Mike Christie commented "I'm very pessimistic about the chances of success with such a large class. To be honest, I don't think the experiment should be repeated; instead we should focus on classes where there is some expectation of engagement with the professor online, and where the number of students won't overwhelm the limited number of helpers." And we know from what other have said that Joordens was specifically asked by the education program not to run any more huge classes on Wikipedia. Are people going to continue to blame my "tone" as a convenient scape-goat, or could it be perhaps that the message was one Joordens did not want to hear?
The claim is there only one difference between this students/assignment and the others -- the big one about class size. At the risk of repeating myself, this is merely one of many flaws in the assignment:
1. Size. Yes the huge size of the class has problems both for Wikipedia's ability to absorb edits and review them and for those running the class to supervise the edits. So they didn't.
2. Assignment. The "add a factoid from an academic source to Wikipedia" assignment is flawed. It doesn't build articles and it is almost guaranteed to produce plagiarism when given to editors with no real understanding of their subject matter.
3. Class year. First-year undergrads picking the easy module is a poor workforce.
4. Supervision. None. This is terrible. Even if the class size was 20, the attitude that reviewing and fixing the edits is Wikipedia's problem is a bad one and doesn't scale to the "what if everyone did that" stage.
5. Responsibility. None. Nobody has taken responsibility for the bad edits made.
6. Training. Poor. Many of these students are editing Wikipedia for a second time (also last Nov/Dec). These second-go students are no better than the first. They are making mistakes that would be simple to teach them to avoid. Mistakes that were pointed out in 2011 and mistakes that would be glaringly apparent if those running the class had actually looked at the edits.
7. Assessment. This is an automated assessment based on revert or bot tagging of the edit. Well I'm not going to repeat how misguided that is.
What is needed is to start from zero again with the education programme in a fully transparent and open manner, where the community is listened to.
The concern about student privacy protection is rather demolished by the suggestion above to use numeric usernames (though they shouldn't be re-used so the semester/year would need to be added to the name). This solution is so straightforward and obvious it forms yet another example of how working with the community and listening to them solves problems while going-it-alone makes them.
The one area I do agree with Joordens is that he was (initially) encouraged by the WMF who didn't appreciate what they were doing either. The WMF panicked when they saw editor numbers diving and saw students as a huge untapped resource. I'm sure Joordens class looked pretty attractive and all critical faculties were lost for a while. Joordens, you can take comfort that you are not alone and the community is pretty pissed off at them too. At least now, we've got a clear message from Rod Dunican Wikimedia Director, Global Education Programs. Anyone who thinks that it is just me making strong statements about the megaclass being unwelcome can look at that message.
The 85% plagiarism figure is claimed to be an exaggeration. No, the students weren't discovered or chosen because they caused problems. It was rather easier to find them than that. I agree we don't have a fully accurate class list, and our attempts to discover plagiarism are greatly diminished by the poor citations and our own lack of access to paywalled sources or to the class textbook. I see Mike Christie getting cold feet about the plagiarism figure. Let me say that my own analysis of edits where the source was fully available online gave a figure of 88% (15/17) and that further ad-hoc examinations have only confirmed near universal problems. If 17 sounds a low figure to draw results from, then combine it with Mike's and remember I had to plough through perhaps 100 edits to find just 17 with sources I could read. So I agree with and support the 85% figure. More extensive analysis would only confirm the ballpark I believe. These students either copy/pasted their source or thought jumbling some of the words around was sufficient. A minority fully wrote original text and most of them screwed up as a result and got their edit reverted as being incomprehensible. I will say I saw one edit where the student actually condensed a page of text into a few sentences and did a good job. Anyone with better access to sources or the student textbook is welcome to repeat the analysis and publish their findings (with both student text and source text) -- please read the plagiarism guideline and also the essay on close paraphrasing for advice.
I don't wish to see Joordens personally gone from Wikipedia but yes, I think his megaclass of 1900 first-year undergraduates is really unlikely to be beneficial to Wikipedia. And in that opinion, I'm far from alone. However, if there are small classes of final-year students or postgrads, then we'd love to have them edit provided they get the right training, the right supervision and the right assignments that actually improve Wikipedia. Unsupervised megaclasses are not an "answer to [our] editor shortage".
Colin°Talk 21:47, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
I didn't think I was getting cold feet; I thought I was just being politely cautious. 23 students is a small sample of the class, and I was concerned that in cases where I couldn't find plagiarism via a web search for the text, it was because the student had not in fact plagiarized. Your additional number do make the 85% more plausible but I still think it's best to be cautious; the number could well be lower. Sadly, it couldn't be much higher. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:59, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

Articles affected

Looie496 pointed out student edits going on at two articles. Guerillero has semi-protected those two. Are there any others we've identified?--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 23:52, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

  • Axon - semi-protected for one week
  • Insomnia - semi-protected for one week
  • Will someone please semi-protect Childhood obesity. It has had about a dozen editors from Joordens' class crapping all over it for all of March and I think User:Cresix needs a rest. Colin°Talk 21:50, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

I've listed articles and students at User:Colin/Introduction to Psychology, 2013. The list is far from complete and just a start really. Anyone wants to help me list and analyse the edits, drop me a message on my talk page or email. I've done a few so far and glanced at the others. If this was one editor they'd have been banned long ago. Look at the article histories. Our articles are under attack from this class. I can fully see why LovaFalk is on wikibreak. Her watchlist must be on fire. Colin°Talk 23:45, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

So far I've located about 120 students editing 75 articles. But the interative process of detection continues to find more students and articles. I reckon there are several hundred. Clearly we aren't going to analyse all their edits. In fact, nobody is, especially not Joordens. What is clear is that the accounts last for minutes (though some are picked up again in a few months if they repeat the assignment). I see no reason so far to assume the dire statistics from 2011 aren't repeated. It does look like the most of the edits stopped around the 23rd March. I hope this is the end of this semester's assignment, and not just a pause for breath. There is no way this can be allowed to happen again. We will create new policy to prevent it if necessary. Colin°Talk 22:18, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

Not true on the data analysis part. I have seen the data in person that Joordens' asked his graduate student to compile for fall 2011 & winter 2012 course (using similar metrics used by WMF). OhanaUnitedTalk page 00:29, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
I'd very much like to see that data. Is it available? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:35, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
It was a powerpoint slide that he showed during the presentation in January. I only remember some of the results vaguely. The metrics used were characters added, # of articles edited, and something to do with whether the info was retained or reverted (forgot the timeframe or how to assess the info retention rate). He mentioned that more students participated in the fall 2011 term than winter 2012, even though the class size was comparable and the winter 2012 class was a continuation (2nd part) of the fall 2011 class. Another thing to he mentioned is that students actually went through a module (designed by his grad student who compiled the data and not the WMF module) before editing. OhanaUnitedTalk page 01:54, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
I'd suggest then that the metrics being used to determine whether or not an edit is "useful" are part of the problem. Retention of the edit (i.e., a failure to revert it) does not mean that the content is useful, as anyone who's ever actually edited articles would know, particularly over the very short duration of these classes. We know that from our own prolific script-using editors; when their script fails to function correctly over the thousands of edits they can do in a day, it can take weeks to clean up, and that's when we have a single, unified contributions history to review. Risker (talk) 02:08, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
Like I said earlier. It was few months ago and I can't remember exactly which specific metrics were used. The only ones that I am confident are the # of characters added and # of articles edited per account. OhanaUnitedTalk page 04:50, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
What do you mean by "Not true on the data analysis part."? Yes, see below for a paper based on this nonsense about edit retention == edit quality. Perhaps someone could write a small essay on that and publish it on wiki. Then we can pass it to all the journals to stop them publishing this nonsense. The same goes for silly stats like characters added or # articles edited. Who gives a **** about characters added to Wikipedia? What is that a measure of other than that fingers were pressed on keyboards? I fully expect Sue Gardner and others to quote that "Undergraduates produce material indistinguishable from PhD experts" line. I seem to remember she gave some talk showing reams of paper representing student contributions. All nonsense. It just depresses me the level of junk science going on here. Colin°Talk 08:14, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
It would be good to have a published paper demonstrating the weaknesses of some of the metrics that have been discussed. I suspect one reason the edit-retention metric gets used is because it does usually have a positive correlation with quality, because if a hundred experienced editors each add text, then it's true that the best text is more likely to be retained than the worst text. I'm having some trouble putting my finger on exactly why this breaks down for classes like Joordens', but I suspect that the correlation only shows up strongly if you have a range of contributions of varying quality. If all the contributions in a sample are poor quality, then random variation, and factors such as the overwhelming of the editors watching those articles, will cause some edits to be retained for longer periods. It's incorrect to then assume that these edits are as good as the best edits in the "experienced editor" sample. I agree with Colin's points elsewhere on this page; the edit-retention metric does miss a lot of factors, but it's still true there's likely to be a positive correlation for experienced editors, and that's something we have to address.
I'm glad Joordens cited the paper that justifies his methods; I agree with Colin that it appears to be wrong, but it gives us the opportunity to rebut the conclusion via better-designed studies. I'd like to see the WMF support more research of this kind to try to dispel some of these incorrect ideas. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:36, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
One can imagine examples of great edits that are retained for a long time. And harmful edits that are quickly detected and removed. It may well be that edits of extremely short lifespan are generally of the harmful kind. But once you get above vandalism, pov-pushing and good-faith-but-hoplessly-misguided edits, is lifespan a measure of quality as most people use the word (i.e. goodness, not badness)? In my 2011 analysis, I'd often see dreadful text entered that wasn't removed until I looked at it. During that time, wikignomes came along and fixed the citations, spelling, grammar and added wikilinks. Sometimes the text was changed more substantially. Then I see it is copy/paste from source and needs to go. Were all those wiki-gnome edits poor? They all had a shorter duration that the original copyvio. The edit retention metric can only look at words-added, and I strongly suspect, only at words kept within the article. So all those copy-edits where somebody reduced the words you wrote and thus made the sentence stronger, well I guess they have no value at all. Or when someone takes your brilliant prose and moves it to a daughter article. I guess your brilliant prose doesn't look so brilliant now.
The edit-retention value measures the inertia in an article. The fewer watchlisters, the less controversial, the less polished already, the more likely that a poor edit is retained. Someone can dump a mediocre factoid on a psychology biography and it is the same turd-brown as the rest of the article, but do the same on Autism or Water fluoridation and it duration will be measured in minutes. I wouldn't mind if they used the edit retention metric wrt measuring the quantity of harmful edits made by various groups. But measuring the quality of edits. And saying that this metric is so powerful that two edits with the same value are "indistinguishable" in terms of quality. Now that is just ridiculous. My second issue is the way these papers build upon one another. The edit-retention myth is just an assumption. Then someone cites another paper and it becomes a proven fact according to peer-reviewed literature. Follow the chain back and you find nobody had actually reviewed the quality of the edits by, you know, looking at them with eyeballs connected to a brain capable of judging quality. Colin°Talk 13:18, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
All true -- my point is just that I strongly suspect that you would find a positive correlation between retention and quality if you looked at yours or my edits -- not 100% correlation, but statistically significant. If I'm right, it doesn't invalidate any of your points; it's just a fact that we have to deal with, and in particular it's a fact that causes mistaken approaches to student editing such as Joordens'. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:25, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
Well, I didn't want to say but, yes 100% quality = 100% retention. Probably doesn't hold for lesser Wikipedians :-) Colin°Talk 13:44, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
Just found some of my old notes from that workshop. These are *some* of the metrics Prof. Joordens used (because I only written down a few): # of edits, words inserted, words deleted, (and again one metric to do with information retained on the article after certain period, but can't remember how it was measured). OhanaUnitedTalk page 21:29, 28 March 2013 (UTC)

Discussion elsewhere

There is a thread for this on the admin noticeboard. User:Philippe (WMF) states in that thread that he has contacted the professor and the department chair. I propose that the issue of how to immediately respond to the problem described in this thread be closed on this noticeboard as that responsibility has been taken up elsewhere. It is my opinion that there is no outstanding request for action in this thread.

In the admin noticeboard thread someone mentions that this is discussed on Hacker News and on Reddit. I think that the talks on those external discussion forums give insight into the non-Wikipedians' thoughts on Wikipedia and could be used to guide policy to prevent future misunderstandings about the education program. Blue Rasberry (talk) 01:27, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

I skimmed through the discussions at Hacker News and Reddit, and it is indeed very informative to see how folks outside the Wiki are interpreting the situation. What I saw at Reddit sounded pretty reasonable to me, but the discussion at Hacker News was full of stuff to the effect of aw, that so-called plagiarism wasn't really so bad, everybody writes stuff that way for school and it's no big deal, and those Wikipedians are just a bunch of rigid jerks with pitchforks. I suspect that a lot of the public, and a lot of the students in the class project, would agree with that characterization, however unenlightened it may be. When I used to teach college, I found that most students arrived in class with similar perceptions, held in good faith. I would spend a lot of time at the beginning of the semester not only explaining that plagiarism would result in a failing grade, but explaining why, how it harms other people, and students invariably reacted that no one had ever explained that to them before and how it really opened their eyes and changed their minds. Anyway, I strongly urge that we all, and especially anyone thinking of contacting the press, think carefully about how people in the real world may not share our past experiences, and therefore may not share our perceptions. --Tryptofish (talk) 18:44, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
Yes most people couldn't care less about copyright issues and are happy to copy everything they can. That is more or less part of being a hacker so not the least bit surprised Hacker News see it this way. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 19:22, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
Very true of hackers, but it's not by any means limited to them. Lots of people who sincerely mean well think that way, because they just haven't had the opportunity to hear the opposing argument. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:36, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

Reaction from the Education Board please

How does the Wikipedia:Education Board react to this comment? What lessons, facts, or perspective, etc. would someone (or multiple people) from the board like to emphasize in response to this type of comment by a community member? Biosthmors (talk) 16:59, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

Speaking for myself, the first step would be to figure out which class or classes is causing Lova headaches, and what has gone awry there. I've gone through their recent edits, and am having trouble linking any of the accounts reverted to a registered class. One clue that links to the above discussion is User:HassiniUofT, presumably a member of Prof. Joordens class. My impression is that we need much stronger guidance for courses working in medical areas. They need to work with O.A.s and C.A.s and interact with editors. As a community, we also have to decide what to do when a class works outside the system, and doesn't take responsibility for negative effects. Its very troubling, and I'm sorry to see Lova Falk taking a break because of it. The Interior (Talk) 18:15, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
I already commented at her user talk, but I'm deeply concerned about this issue, too. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:04, 26 March 2013 (UTC)
Prof. Joordens students have caused some significant issues the last few years. A number of us found a very high rate of plagiarism within their edits. There was little to no oversight of their work. He appears to be using us as his experimental playground. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 04:39, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
Doc James, that psychology course with Prof. Steve Joordens took place before I took on as campus ambassador. There shouldn't be similar problems now that I'm onboard. And no, Tryptofish, User:HassiniUofT is not a member of Prof. Joordens' class (neither as undergrad, graduate student nor TA) because Prof. Joordens hasn't used Wikipedia as teaching tool since last summer and we don't have an individual called Hassini from the psychology department from our campus. Why not contact this individual and ask him/her instead of doing the guesswork (which ended up being wrong anyway)? So far, neither the four of you involved in the discussion attempted to communicate with him through his talk page (see that it's still red? maybe, just maybe, talking to the individual will clear things up) OhanaUnitedTalk page 06:22, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
OhanaUnited, your comment that "Joordens hasn't used Wikipedia as teaching tool since last summer" doesn't square with Joordens' admission here that the students causing big problems are likely to be his. See User:Colin/Introduction to Psychology, 2013 for a growing list of students editing March 2013 from the University of Toronto doing exactly the same assignment (it appears) as Joordens set in 2011. Some of those students also edited in autumn 2012 (and haven't learned anything from it it seems). OhanaUnited, do you realise that the accounts used in this megaclass have a Wiki-lifespan of minutes? The traditional mechanisms for welcoming and educating newbies just don't work with these temporary accounts and "log in, dump plagiarised text, go down pub" activity we're seeing. Have you looked at the edit history of childhood obesity for example. Do you think spreading WikiLove to all the dozen editors who crapped on that article would make them come back and contribute properly? Please can you explain your involvement with this class.
I'm absolutely convinced that Joordens' class was the last straw that forced Lova Falk's wikibreak. There is another psych class that is proving to be a handful, with a very defensive prof, but it is the sheer quantity of crap being dumped in the psych-domain from Joordens' class that would cause anyone who cares about those articles to throw up their hands in despair. Colin°Talk 08:27, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Colin. It seems like I was uninformed by anyone yet again even though I am the campus ambassador. I met Joordens as recent as this January at this workshop and there was no indication that he would be doing it yet again. During the workshop, he did mention that he had done a course (class size <30 students) by flying under the radar last summer. OhanaUnitedTalk page 19:22, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
A couple of points. OhanaUnited, in your now-struck comment, you attributed something to me that was actually said by someone else. I think that the instructor's lack of openness with the campus ambassador is a symptom of something wrong at the instructor's end. Also, I see above that a class with 1800 students may be involved. That number raises at least two issues that I can think of. One is that it is near to impossible for editors here to monitor that many student edits. The other is that it is also near to impossible for the instructor to do it, either. (Having done a lot of teaching myself, I can sympathize with how hard it is to teach huge classes, and how tempting it can be to simply set the students loose on Wikipedia. But that is merely trying to use volunteer editors here as unpaid TAs, and this talk thread shows that one editor found that to be a dysphoric experience.) I know that there were objections elsewhere in these discussions to the idea of a hard block of the entire satellite campus, but considering the "collateral damage" here at Wikipedia, I think it's an option that we are going to have to consider seriously. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:08, 27 March 2013 (UTC)
I too am sorry to see this happen. I don't really know enough about the connection between the course and the editor's decision to take a break to comment on that, but it saddens me to see someone who is obviously valuable to the editing community feel overwhelmed. --Bob Cummings (talk) 17:33, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
I sent this prof some advise over a year ago. He got pissed off at me and said he was not going to edit again. I have seen an email from him afterwards were he boasts about his ability to "fly under the radar". What he has going is more or less a giant meet-puppet. Once we finish the analysis started by Colin we will need to look at publishing our findings. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 18:25, 29 March 2013 (UTC)

Note from Wikipedia Education Program

As the Wikipedia Education Program Director, I would like to reiterate that Steve Joordens is currently not part of the Education Program in Canada run by the Wikimedia Foundation. We do not support or condone his activities on Wikipedia. We are big proponents of testing, and in the fall term of 2011, we worked with him to see if large courses would work with our program. Overwhelmingly, the results showed that large courses like Professor Joordens' would not, and we asked Professor Joordens to cease his students' work on Wikipedia. We have reiterated this to Professor Joordens repeatedly, and asked him to not conduct Wikipedia assignments with this large of course. We support any action the Wikipedia community deems necessary to handle the situation. Rdunican22 (talk) 04:54, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

Thanks appreciate hearing your position. We knew that he was not officially involved but did not realize that you had requested he not edit Wikipedia with his large class. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 05:11, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

Proposed new policy

It is clear from discussions on this page that Wikipedia lacks the necessary policy to deal with student assignments that go wrong, to discourage the kind of assignments that tend to fail and to clearly indicate the sort of assignment that Wikipedia wants. The Wikipedia:Assignments for student editors essay is a great resource and I encourage its development into a guideline. But I think Wikipedia needs a new policy to handle assignments. The relationship between the community and those involved in setting and performing the assignment is completely different to the one we are used to with volunteer editors. We simply can't handle the case where 200 students create accounts and make a handful of edits over the space of minutes and then log off again never to return. There is no policy at present to deal with that.

I've made a start: Wikipedia:Assignments. The nutshell is "If you give someone an assignment to do on Wikipedia, you are responsible for their actions." The page is deliberately general and not specific to professors/students, which I think is appropriate for policy. It is obviously very draft at present. What do people here think? Would such a policy help? I think it would clearly prevent the sort of assignment where the prof makes no effort whatsoever to review and fix the edits. It forces class sizes down to the level that can be managed in-house rather than using us Wikipedians as classroom assistants.

If this proposed policy looks worth pursuing, then I'll move it out of user space and let the community work on it. Colin°Talk 09:10, 28 March 2013 (UTC)

  • Comment. This is interesting, though I don't think I could support it. I wonder what those who are putting together the Wiki Education Foundation proposal would say about it. Most of the educators on that board would clearly be unfit to set Wikipedia assignments from your perspective: they do not "have the time, degree of competence on-wiki and subject-knowledge in order to review and correct" their students' edits. But then by affiliating with the Education Program, does the burden of responsibility shift to that Program? I'm not sure that the proposed WEF wants to take that burden on. But there's also a more fundamental philosophical issue here: Is a teacher responsible for whether or not a student follows his or her instructions? Is he or she obliged to ensure that the student passes? Obviously not: that would be crazy. (Though there are plenty of students who do think this way--they believe that it's up to the teacher to ensure that they succeed!) I guess the issue here is what happens when a student's failure has real-world consequences. Is that balanced by the fact that a student's success will also have real-world consequences? --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 13:43, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
This is the key point, though. If a student gets an D grade on their essay then that is only so much ink on paper in a drawer. But if they change axon so its lead is D-grade unintelligible or is brilliant but plagiarised text, who is responsible for fixing that? All classes will have good and bad students. But if the assignment is such that even good students fail miserably, who is responsible? The issue with Joordens class shows that one invoke the creation of hundreds of temporary accounts, inflict insidious damage to a whole domain of articles, and we have no policy at present to do anything about it. Do you have a solution?
I certainly think there is a role for the teacher to recruit assistants who may have the necessary skills on wikipedia and subject. Perhaps that should be included in the text.
I don't think the teacher is responsible for lifting the student text to acceptable standard. Some assignments may do that as part of some iterative rework. But in the bad case, that D-grade work is now on Wikipedia. Who is responsible for doing something about that? I think for too long educators have seen Wikipedia as a common resource like the air we breath. It isn't. Colin°Talk 14:04, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
It's tough, I think. I've certainly had students who have plagiarized on Wikipedia. (I have also had students who plagiarized in essays; as it happens, it's generally easier to spot on Wikipedia, but that's another matter.) The most egregious examples took place on the Spanish Wikipedia, rather than the English one, but so be it. In some ways, I don't take responsibility for that plagiarism: I totally disapprove of it, and the students know that; I also teach them to understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. On the other hand, I've definitely gone in and made sure that that plagiarism doesn't endure. I've personally fixed the articles myself--especially when (as has happened a couple of times) I've only identified it after the course is over. But having taught a fair number of classes that use Wikipedia, there's no way I can put my hand on my heart and say that I have caught every single plagiarized sentence or passage. Or (less seriously perhaps--but only perhaps) that my students always understood their sources and paraphrased or interpreted them well. (For even when students are being ethical, they are not always right.) But on balance I think (I know) that the impact of my students on Wikipedia has been far more for the good than for the bad: they produced a bunch of featured articles and even more good ones; even those articles that haven't passed such tests have demonstrably improved, often by leaps and bounds. So it is a question of balance. We can't have zero tolerance here, much though we (everyone involved) might like that. And if this sounds a little like Joorden's argument above, then so be it. What's at issue is less the argument per se than the question of whether or not individual classes actually are on balance improving the Encyclopedia, and how much. If the improvements exceed the mistakes only negligibly or by a small margin, then the class has gone wrong, clearly. (It certainly sounds like this is the case for the UT class.) But if the improvements are significantly more substantial than the extent to which articles have suffered (as I'd say was the case for my classes), then the project succeeds. We can't be absolutist. At the same time, we can't be satisfied with merely a "net benefit." We need more than that. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 16:21, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
Jbmurray, it sounds very much like you already assume some kind of responsibility for your class's actions. Yes this isn't absolute responsibility for ensuring all their actions are a net benefit and fixing every single mistake. Remember, this is just an early draft and so the language might not be helpful or some of the concepts need kicking around a bit. At one extreme, we've got a mega class where the prof takes no responsibility at all and fully expects the community to review and fix the edits. At another, we've got tiny classes where the students work alongside the prof on assignments, and the class is so well designed that no student is doing damage but some are doing better than others. A problem we have is Joordens also "knows" his class is a net benefit. We'll see what this year's class's stats look like when we've looked at more students, but 2011's analysis was a clear net damage and with far more hours spent reviewing and fixing the edits than the students spent themselves on the assignment. I fully agree with you that we need more than just a mere net benefit. Damage limitation -- are there mechanisms in place to catch the really bad stuff?
I think I get the bit about you not being personally responsible for someone's plagiarism -- you did the best that can be expected to prevent it but ultimately it was the student's "sin" and not yours. However, you also removed it. Why? Can you put in words what made you feel you should do that -- so we can indicate this is desirable? On the other hand, someone who fails to properly educate their students on plagiarism, say, and fails to check to some degree that they have understood it before editing, and fails to review their work at all, is surely responsible for the frequent problems that occur. I'd appreciate your help finding the balance and the words to use. You are welcome to edit the draft in my user space, or use its talk page. Colin°Talk 18:18, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
I've been trying to think of a solution to the "professor dispatches 200 students to wreak havoc" problem recently too, but I keep running into the same problem that your proposal runs into, Colin: the professors who are doing the "bad" professoring (and, really, most of the ones doing the "good", too) aren't editing Wikipedia, anyway. And given that our last line of defense against disruptive editing is to block or ban the responsible editor, which in this case would be the professor who's not editing anyway, making them responsible for their students' edits is unenforceable by any sort of sanction on the professor. If they disdain Wikipedia enough to send their unprepared students this way, they disdain it enough that whether they're blocked or not, they'll continue to do so, because a block on the professor has no effect on the dispatching of students to edit.

The only other possible solution I've come up with is much, much more extreme - a variation on CSD criterion G5, which allows for the deletion of content submitted by editors in violation of a block/ban: "If a professor fails to be responsible for his students' problematic edits after [X amount of time? X infractions?], all edits and account creations by any editors determined to be that professor's students (and who are editing at the behest of that professor) will be treated as the actions of a blocked user and those edits will be reverted and the accounts blocked accordingly." It's draconian and it bites students who may not have done anything wrong, but it would be the only way to hold professors accountable on Wikipedia for failing to prepare their students, and it would be our best chance to prevent ongoing damage by those students. Blocking a professor who doesn't edit anyway won't stop the disruption, but blocking anyone identified as one of their students would. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 14:18, 28 March 2013 (UTC)

Took the words out of my mouth. We need a process to determine somehow whether or not a certain professor should be topic-banned from educational assignments due to irresponsibility. After that, a (existing or new) CSD criterion and RB would be allowed to revert all of their edits (except for ones that they wish to make a null edit taking responsibility for, if any deserve it). After that, if a professor continues this, we can and should contact the university in question, just like Abuse Reporting for organizations goes on now, and notifying the Dean/Administrators that they would be able to have access to data if needed to determine (if not obvious by username(s)) what professor/students are doing this. I think we need to encourage and help educational assignments here. But when professors blatantly disregard our offers of help and/or don't tell their students how to edit, we need to stop it, and if that means we go to their supervisor and get them to stop that way, so be it. It's like I said a while ago: We should not care what happens in the school's disciplinary side of things, only what happens on the Wikipedia side of this professor's classes. If he gets reprimanded, given less pay, etc., so be it, he should have realized that having students make crap edits after he was asked not to without teaching them first wouldn't work out well for anyone. gwickwiretalkediting 14:51, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
The proposed policy doesn't state (currently) what sanctions would be imposed, merely where the responsibility lies. Currently, responsibility for edits lies with the person making them -- but they've gone down the pub and were "only following orders". I agree that, for example, blocking User:Woodsnake would have no physical effect as he doesn't use the account, but it would have a psychological/social effect. Would you do a class assignment if you knew the prof was banned from Wikipedia for running that class assignment? Would the dean be happy to have profs running assignments on Wikipedia when they are currently a banned user? I think this would be significant enough to have an effect. Additionally, the students could have a message posted on their pages (like the suspected sockpuppet message) "We suspect you are part of a class assignment that has been banned from Wikpedia. Please confirm if you are ....etc". I'm sure word would get round that they weren't welcome. The proposed policy does state that the institution is ultimately responsible, which gives us room to block IPs should there continue to be disruption. I would hope that wouldn't be necessary for any reputable organisation. But more importantly, if this were policy, an assignment like Joordens simply wouldn't get off the drawing board. It would be completely clear that mass directed editing with no supervision isn't allowed on Wikipedia. Colin°Talk 15:58, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
I tried to emphasize some of this responsibility in the lead of the essay, for a start. Biosthmors (talk) 19:14, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
  • Support I support this beyond the education program and into Wikimedia chapter business. The general rule that I would like to see is that anyone who is claiming credit or benefit for a project on Wikipedia should also claim responsibility for it. The professors who do harmful things on Wikipedia often express that the Wikipedia community should be grateful to them, and historically the Wikipedia community's response has been to clean the mess and take no further action. I am not sure what action should be taken, but I would like to state that it is not okay for anyone to exploit the Wikimedia community's good will by abusing it. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:01, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
  • Fluffernutter is right about the lack of feasibility of enforcing policy against instructors, unless we figure out some way to block edits from a campus and the surrounding residential community, and that's not going to happen easily. In contrast to Colin's opening premise, I think it's useful to try to address these problems via a guideline, rather than policy. After all, we already have the rationale to pursue administrative action in cases of WP:Disruptive editing, which includes chronic ignoring of behavioral guidelines. I think we should start by establishing behavioral guidelines that have wide community consensus. With those in place, we can then, as a second step if needed, establish any new policy for which a need emerges. I've started a discussion at WT:Assignments for student editors about promoting it to a guideline, and I'd welcome input from the editors here, there. --Tryptofish (talk) 01:16, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
I fully support "Assignments for student editors" being developed as a guideline. Guidelines apply to specific areas and offer advice. Policy sets the ground rules upon which we operate. I think unsupervised mass assignments, with no appreciation of responsibility, is a fundamentally bad thing. Joordens represents the extreme end of the scale. No guideline is going to influence someone like him. But we've had other classes in the past where the prof was utterly unprepared to understand what their students should be doing, let alone take responsibility for doing any degree of tidying up afterwards.
I disagree that such a policy can't be enforced. I've commented further up. I think that such a class, if disallowed by policy, would ultimately lead to the blocking of the professor and notices on the talk page of any suspected students. A message would be sent to the dean also. I find it hard to imagine students performing an assignment where their prof is banned and where their own accounts get blocked (even if they get blocked after their edits). Who wants to do an assignment as a guerilla terrorist? Colin°Talk 09:11, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
  • We are finding a fair bit of plagiarism from a U of T psychology class (about 30% of contributors right now). I plan to report this prof to his dean and his school to the papers. He has been warned in the past that his activities were not appropriate. Rather than address the criticism he became more secretive in editing activities. We seem to have another recurrence of the "India issues". Those involved in the India Program can take heart that it is not just those in the developing world that struggle with copyright but also those at one of Canada's most prestigious universities. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 11:06, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
Wow – and please understand that I'm not objecting at all to that! In the end, a hard block of the campus will look like a much gentler option. I'll be watching with great interest to see what ends up happening. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:56, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
Doc James, that percentage did sound high until I did some research on this issue. A Canadian government's arms-length organization found that 53% of undergraduate students surveyed admitted plagiarizing at least once. Another study placed the value at 23-25% for graduate students in American & Canadian universities. Is 30% plagiarism severe? Yes, for me, one instance is far too many. Is it causing so much concern and different from other courses that we should be screaming like headless chickens and calling for actions? No. The percentage suggests this is not much different than any other science courses and actually appears to be performing better than the average when we compare the 30% course average to the 53% national average for undergrads. Mind you, this is a first-year introduction to psychology course and we all know that high school doesn't treat plagiarism seriously. I'll be more concerned if this happens in an upper-year (3rd and 4th year) course. OhanaUnitedTalk page 02:23, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
So if those are indeed the stats than we should probably call off the education program. In textbook or scientific journal publishing the rates are not so high. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 13:20, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
Actually, the plagiarised text is the stuff that reads well and makes some sense. The incoherent illiterate stuff is the original student writing. OhanaUnited, I think you are failing to appreciate the utter drivel that this class is writing on Wikipedia. I do wish folk here would taken their statistics and shove them where the sun doesn't shine. Go look at the edits. Colin°Talk 13:48, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
The difficulty is that we are comparing apples and oranges. The stat above is 50% have plagiarized at some point in their life at least one. What I care about is what percentage are plagiarizing right now. And I may be more lenient if a lot of great content was being created. So far I have found a couple of passable edits but nothing great (in percentages that would be 0%). Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 13:56, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
Colin, Doc James said "We are finding a fair bit of plagiarism from a U of T psychology class", not "We are finding a fair bit of incoherent illiterate stuff from a U of T psychology class" (emphasis added). Plagiarism includes both coherent and incoherent writing. Plus, nowhere in my numbers said it was based on incoherent writing and I strongly doubt that there are studies out there that looked at just undergraduate's writing quality on a large, representative scale. It's reasonable to assume that students write better as they progress in universities. That brings me to Doc James part. Again, I made a reasonable assumption that the majority of the 53% plagiarism will take place early on in university (1st & 2nd year courses vs. 3rd & 4th year). The time of plagiarism occurrence tends to be positively skewed. OhanaUnitedTalk page 15:43, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
Wider input on the quality of the review Ohana is doing might also be useful.[3]. The first user I looked at added refs to work that was previous plagarism by someone else. Most of the rest of the refs were to a Wikipedia talk page. I would not describe this as positive but as either neutral or negative. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 16:38, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
OhanaUnited, can you please just lay off the stats. Also remember that whenever these students cite a paywalled article or a book, our ability to detect plagiarism drops to zero. Which is why it is essential these courses are internally supervised by those the same access to the sources as the students. Can you explain what wikipedia classes are running at UoT and more about the class you and James are reviewing. What degree of supervision did they get? What year are they? What were they asked to do? Are you aware of any change to the instructions or marking scheme used for the megaclass compared to 2011? Colin°Talk 17:06, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I don't have the tools to check for copyvio, so I used a crude metric of examining revert summary, article talk page, and user talk page. Regarding that individual in question, I don't see the part that you said "Most of the rest of the refs were to a Wikipedia talk page". The revision you provided all point to specific journal articles. And Colin, please, don't boss me around on what I can do and what I can't do. If you bothered to check that page which Doc James provided provided, you would have found what year, which course, the course description, and support provided. It clearly shows you didn't even make an attempt to examine that page that before attacking me. OhanaUnitedTalk page 17:12, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
If you look at [4] you will notice this page referenced half a dozen times [5]. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 17:20, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
Those revisions are from different page! Your first revision link was from audience effect, and now your revised link was from Motivational interviewing. No wonder I can't see what you're describing when you provided the wrong link.

Sorry for the confusion the link provided was to the editor that added the plagarism before this student edited. I have added the appropriate link. I have reviewed 4 editors so far. Ones edits were minor, ones edits were clear plagiarism, another editors edits were very close paraphrasing (not sure if it reaches the level of plagiarism or not, last editor some positive some neutral / negative IMO. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 17:50, 30 March 2013 (UTC)

OhanaUnited, do what you like on Wiki but if you want a conversation with me about how students are doing, then quoting stats about the general issue of plagiarism in undergraduates and implying that means everything is hunky-dory with the Toronto students, is really not the way to go about it. I'm sick of the crap science round here. So you don't have the tools to check for copyvio either and are just relying on other wikipedian's revert summary to work out what was wrong. Have you not listened to anything we've said? Unless you have the tools to check for plagiarism, your stats suck. What is the point of writing "Clearly net positive" if you can't check? And as for the WikiScholar course, I asked a straightforward question, not an attack, and you haven't answered it. I can't figure out from that page any of the answers to the questions I asked. I fear from the description "This course will allow students to take on the role of student-educator, working collaboratively to examine, enhance, and create Wikipedia entries related to a set of psychology topics." that these students are peer-reviewing each other and there is no expert supervision nor wiki supervision. Colin°Talk 18:17, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
Going through these edits is taking a huge amount of time. The fifth user is sort of on the edge with this article IMO [6]. While if one paraphrases a couple of lines like this I would have no issues. But do things change if one paraphrases a whole paper and uses the same outline?[7] And why paraphrase a 1983 article when there is more recent literature on the topic? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 18:25, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
Next two I reviewed appear to also be plagiarism. I however need help I do not have access to this textbook Bartol, Curt R. (2002). Criminal behavior : a psychosocial approach (6th ed.). Upper Saddler River, N.J.: Prentice Hall. ISBN 9780130918376. I think it is page 5. Edits are these ones [8]. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 19:19, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
Colin, I didn't provide the 30% stat from this class, it was Doc James who provided it. I provided the 53% national average stat. Calling "your stats suck" is incivil. And based on this thread, I seriously have to consider your competence on attributing statements to the correct user, finding info based on links provided by people on your side, and your ability to communicate with others who hold opposite views without descending to the level of making incivil comments. I strongly urge you to retract that statement. OhanaUnitedTalk page 02:56, 31 March 2013 (UTC)
I haven't attributed statements to the incorrect user once yet repeatedly your responses have been to wrongly attribute other's statements to yourself. You seem to be trying your darnedest to take offence. How about if I translate to the Queen's English: "Unless one has the tools to measure plagiarism, one's stats are sub-optimal". Or, if we're having a conversation in normal everyday English: "Unless you have the tools to check for plagiarism, your stats suck." No retraction required or offered. Please can you get above your defensiveness and try to help here. Can you answer my questions about the course. They would help us understand if there is anything coming from UoT that is worth retaining. Colin°Talk 07:59, 31 March 2013 (UTC)

Class size and supervision

  • I'd like to throw out another idea, and see what the reaction is. It seems to me that the major disruption occurs when a class with a very large number of students is set loose on Wikipedia, because the instructor is less likely to supervise each of them in a responsible manner, and because the large number of student edits in a short period of time puts particular demands on established editors. (I fully realize, of course, that just a few students making lousy edits on a page on one's watchlist, and being uncooperative about fixing their edits, can be a pain. But that disruption is more delimited, and we already have ways to deal with it.) The discussion above shows how difficult it can be to enforce policy against instructors or students, when the policy relates to editing conduct. In contrast, we can draw a "bright line" based on the number of students enrolled in a course. We could establish a maximum number of enrolled students that would be permitted in a recognized class project. Perhaps we could spell out requirements that would have to be met if an exception is to be granted. And perhaps we could make a formal policy about what to do if the instructor, instead, goes underground. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:34, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
    • I originally thought smaller class size would be more beneficial. But from what Doc James showed, that's not exactly the case. Smaller class size does produce more quantities of high-quality work (e.g. DYK), but doesn't necessarily reduce the plagiarism rate. OhanaUnitedTalk page 03:15, 31 March 2013 (UTC)
      • The common factor between Joordens small class and the large class appears to be both are completely unsupervised. The later class might be doing some peer review. He has form here: see peerScholar. The aim, either with peerScholar or these wikipedia assignments, appears to be to run large classes and set huge assignments without the need to pay for teaching assistants. We've seen other small classes do badly when the instructor isn't up-to-speed with wiki or when the class edits outside of the instructor's abilities wrt subject-matter. But the damage is limited there (though of course, if everyone did that, the damage wouldn't be limited). So I still feel the issue at hand is those directing assignments without taking some degree of responsibility for the result. Since Joordens can't possibly take responsibility for 1700 students (and that would require a lot of staff) his megaclass simply can't be allowed on here. Colin°Talk 08:05, 31 March 2013 (UTC)
        • Both of those replies are helpful, thanks. I agree that there is no correlation between class size and plagiarism, or for that matter between class size and any number of conduct issues. My thinking, however, is that plagiarism by a small class is easier to repair than is plagiarism by a large class, and for me that's an important point. If we're trying to think of things we can set policy on, I think it's important to address the problems that our current ways of doing business have had difficulty dealing with. Colin is quite right that supervision by the instructor is key. That, right there, might be an alternative thing we might want to make policy: never grant the course instructor privilege without a plan by the instructor to monitor every edit. And getting back to class size, it's possible to meet that requirement in a smaller class, whereas it's usually impossible in a huge class. I really cannot imagine a situation in which a class with over a thousand students can be part of a class project that doesn't dump a ton of pain on the Wikipedia community. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:45, 31 March 2013 (UTC)
  • I think this approach is much, much too complex. All we really need is to remember that "The use of multiple Wikipedia user accounts for an improper purpose is called sock puppetry" and that 'improper' is defined by us, not by the institutions who are taking students money and expecting us to baby sit them. Stuartyeates (talk) 22:04, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
    • Someone started an SPI case about the class, and the consensus there was that this situation does not really fit the generally understood definition of sock or meatpuppetry. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:45, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
  • The issue is not just class size, it is also the level of the course and the background of the students. Students need to have some background with writing at a college level and they should know enough about research in general and their field in particular that they can have confidence to write without plagiarizing. An intro to psych course is likely to be taken by students very early in their college careers, before they've had much writing experience. A larger course is fine as long as (1) the course staff knows what they are doing and are monitoring the students closely (2) the students have enough experience to edit well and (3) the assignment is designed so that the students will be successful, including perhaps peer-reviews, drafts and other opportunities for students to practice and learn. I feel that the UT staff set their students up for failure by designing the assignment so poorly and ignoring the community's experience and input. GabrielF (talk) 21:37, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
    • I agree, of course, that all those other things are important. However, what I'm trying to figure out here is what we can make policy, in a way that it can be enforced by administrators. Class size is a bright line, whereas student preparation isn't. And there are some fairly large classes where the three things you describe can indeed make the difference. However, above a certain size, it stops being practical or even possible (unless there is a large staff of TAs). Here, it's not clear that there even are any TAs, and 1700 students is such a huge number that I do not believe close monitoring or meaningful peer review is possible. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:45, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
      • I'm curious if anyone has any insights on the Harvard sociology class that had a Wikipedia assignment last semester. I think they had several hundred students and there were no complaints that I recall. GabrielF (talk) 21:49, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
        • Yes, that would be very informative, as it might provide hard data on the differences between what does and what does not work. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:56, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

Gabriel - we could probably find out more about the sociology class directly. Some of the larger classes make a point of having TAs act as on-wiki reviewers. I think this could even be done by a subset of the students themselves. – SJ + 00:03, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

The importance of minimizing drama

I am starting a new section because I think this point needs emphasis. If education projects are going to happen at all (and clearly they are), then our response to problems needs to be focused on minimizing drama. Harsh actions taken toward people who cause problems are likely to generate repercussions that will reflect badly on Wikipedia as a whole. We can't allow our important articles to deteriorate, but in my view we should look for the quietest and least dramatic approach that maintains their quality. Looie496 (talk) 17:15, 28 March 2013 (UTC)

I agree with what you're saying. We definitely want to be polite and not bite as this suggests. Did you have anything specific in mind, or did you just want to generally caution against overreactions? I think the overreactions tend to come from experienced editors who first encounter these assignments. They find the source of the perceived harm to content and are frustrated at what appears to be a lack of supervision. Biosthmors (talk) 19:01, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I agree too. It's a balance that we need to get right. After all, we already have a lot of consensus that WP:BITE is part of how we try to do things here. I'm in favor of guidelines that include advice to editors, along with advice to instructors and students. --Tryptofish (talk) 01:07, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
Wikipedia is real live publishing that can result in real live consequences. If you are referring to the above issues my position is we cannot allow universities to come and add content that is 30% plagiarism. If we know of this issue and do not address it / nip it in the bud less drama now will result in greater drama in the future.
If 5 years down the road the media catches on that we knew of universities adding large volumes of plagiarized content and we did nothing about it the negative repercussions will be far greater. The prof in question had been warned a year or two ago. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 11:12, 29 March 2013 (UTC)
Myself, I agree simultaneously with both Looie and Doc James. The specific U of T case is a real stinker. At the same time, there really are student editing projects that have been a pleasure to work with – I speak from personal experience. We need to deal decisively with users who disrupt Wikipedia, and at the same time, we need to remain welcoming to those who improve it. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:52, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
I agree that we must encourage positive engagement and discourage negative engagement. If this gets some press this will make sure that future classes and profs take Wikipedia seriously. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 01:11, 30 March 2013 (UTC)

So everyone's aware, this is now a national news story: Toronto professor learns not all editors are welcome on Wikipedia, National Post. Comments are interesting reading, although many are about Wikipedia in general rather than this situation. Nikkimaria (talk) 16:00, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

I thought the news report itself was pretty fair (didn't read the reader comments). --Tryptofish (talk) 20:08, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
There's a response to that piece at Yahoo News Canada which is critical of Joordens. Shame the "Of the 910 articles edited, Joordens told Canadian Press that only 33 were flagged for problems." silly stat gets repeated. It only shows how bad his quality detection methods are. And no mention anywhere that Wikipedia had previously formally asked Joordens to stop and refrain from repeating his "experiment" that backfired in 2011, or that he was running the 2013 "experiment" under the radar. Colin°Talk 12:24, 9 April 2013 (UTC)
  • I'd say Wikipedia got quite favorable coverage here: [9]. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:47, 10 April 2013 (UTC)

U of T courses in Psychology

Per evidence building here [10] and here [11] and previous evidence here [12] we need to do something about the situation in question. This appears to be a repeat of the India Education Program issues with fairly high rates of "copy and paste" [13]. In this case it is occurring in the areas of psychology that is poorly watched. I have spent two days analysing the edits in question. While there is a fair bit more analysis / work to do IMO we have enough evidence that we should act. Thoughts?

Background: We have a psych prof who is having his 1700 students edit Wikipedia's psychology content. There is little to no review coming from the class itself. When concerns were brought to the profs attention a year ago he went "underground" making a community review more difficult. There is further discussion above. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 19:27, 30 March 2013 (UTC)

I think it is worth collecting enough to provide a summary of the class situation. I'd like to try to finish locating all the students so we have some idea of numbers and number of articles affected. If we publish a summary and present that to the community (e.g. ANI, etc) then see what reaction we get. Colin°Talk 20:43, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
I guess I should make this more of a call for help in the analysis. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 20:48, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
Can I help if I don't have access to JSTOR and so on? I'm concerned I won't be able to detect plagiarism or copyvio if I only have Google, so I might end up concluding an edit is OK when it isn't. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:20, 31 March 2013 (UTC)
I'm nearly finished collecting all the students I can find. After that I wondered about taking a bunch of edits where the student cited a website or a paper that was free-online or otherwise readable. Perhaps 20-30 edits. Then working out the degree of plagiarism in those edits. Even if we had sources, many of these students are citing an impenetrable url in their intranet (and the exact same students did so last year so they haven't learned) or a Harvard ref like "Walker 1958" that is of little use without the rest of the citation. In fact, I have sometimes been able to identify the citation by Googling for plagiarism !!! Another figure it would be useful to gauge is what degree of edits are being reverted by the community (ourselves included). There are plenty students in the "More students to assess" table that you could stick your name against. Thanks. Colin°Talk 12:35, 31 March 2013 (UTC)
Class has been reported to Sockpuppet investigation here [14] Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 00:52, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
I see checkuser reports that not even hard-blocking the entire university will stop them--but the question then becomes whether there is any other way to get attention to this? The problem is particularly difficult because the instructor seems to refuse to understand the harm he is doing. DGG ( talk ) 05:02, 1 April 2013 (UTC)

I've posted a note to Joordens' talk page asking him to stop his students on the basis of the analysis done so far; at my last count, 16 of 19 students for whom we could make a definite determination had plagiarized their source. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 14:23, 1 April 2013 (UTC)

We're seeing about 85% plagiarism in the edits we can check against sources. In much of the remainder, the attempt to put text into the student's own words has failed to some degree. Either the text is incomprehensible, or it has significant errors. Some editors wrote very little (a short phrase). Exceptionally, editors wrote something original and useful and well sourced with a proper citation. This is on top of all the other problems we are seeing that would be an issue even if the added text was original, coherent and accurate. I've counted over 400 students editing 250 articles but that is likely to be a significant under-estimate based on the 2011 analysis of edit patterns and the limitations of our method of detecting students. The real numbers could be double that.

Joordens has been running this assignment since 2011, though I think this year's could be the biggest. A minority of this year's students also edited in November/December 2012. All told, these assignments could well have involved a thousands students editing and a similar number of articles.

We asked Joordens/Woodsnake to stop and work with us after 2011's analysis. Instead he decided to "fly under the radar". Do these comments mirror what we're seeing here and earlier here?

Is Wikipedia going to just accept that level of damage to our articles? Per Wikipedia:Plagiarism and Wikipedia:Close paraphrasing such content isn't acceptable. What to do? Is Joordens or the University of Toronto responsible? Or each individual student? Or just our open editing policy? Do we shrug our shoulders or demand something be done?

Colin°Talk 17:49, 1 April 2013 (UTC)

A soon-to-be-published paper on psychology students working on Wikipedia said:

"In the eight months the [APS Wikipedia Initiative] has been active, at least 36 classrooms involving 640 students have used article-writing assignments. In addition, other classes used article-writing assignments because of the APSWI, but did not use the tools we provided; therefore, the behavior of the students in their classes was not recorded in our data. For example, we know of the instructor of an introductory psychology class of 1,700 who had students read some primary research related to a Wikipedia article and add a citation to the article. Overall, the students whose behavior we captured have improved over 840 Wikipedia articles and have written over 1,200 pages of text, more than the content of a psychology textbook."

It is interesting to consider that this "class of 1,700" has perhaps achieved the opposite. They may well have taken 800 pages of their class psychology textbook and scattered little bits of it largely unchanged all across Wikipedia. -- Colin°Talk 21:58, 1 April 2013 (UTC)

  • I've read the now-archived SPI page, and I've been thinking hard about the issue. I see that there is a pretty extensive administrative consensus that "collateral damage" would preclude a widely-cast hard block (and also that there is some proportion of students who seem to be editing from so far outside the campus that some would slip through any conceivable block). It seems increasingly to me that we are encountering a new(ish) kind of problem for Wikipedia, and that our existing administrative mechanisms just don't include an appropriate tool to deal with it. I'm pessimistic that the instructor will decide to become more cooperative with us, because that's not where his professional incentives lie. From his perspective, what he needs to do is to get the course taught with as little hassle to himself or to his department chair or dean as possible. I have no idea what kind of effect Doc James' planned letters to the university and the press will have. There's certainly no guarantee. I know that our existing blocking policies place a high priority on avoiding "collateral damage", but here I think we need to recognize that the situation is different and somewhat new. There is real collateral damage to the project here, to editors who are having a hard time cleaning up, and, in at least one case, have been so aggravated that they temporarily left the project. That's collateral damage, too, and we need to consider it seriously! It doesn't really make sense to think that collateral damage to editors who want to contribute from around the campus is somehow more important than collateral damage to the rest of the editing community. I am coming to believe that we need a consensus to change our rules about hard blocks. A hard block across the satellite campus may well be the one way to shift the "hassle" back to the instructor and the university. It would stop most of the student edits (albeit not all), to a degree that students (along with other, collateral damage, people in the block range) will complain in a way that would force the instructor to do things differently. Letters to the university and the press may or may not have the desired effect, but a hard block, done properly, would immediately have the effect that we need. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:14, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
    I basically agree with all that, but I'd like to add that I am opposed to letters to the press. Given the general ignorance of the press about Wikipedia, that amounts to firing a cannon in a random direction -- there is no telling who will get hit. It is entirely possible that the professor would be portrayed as the innocent victim of Wikipedia's weirdness. If any direct extra-Wikipedia action needs to be taken, a letter to the department chair is the way to go. Looie496 (talk) 15:50, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
A department chair does not necessarily have much control over the way a tenured faculty member teacher their course, and is very likely to respond accordingly. I think this has to be done on a personal level--and I suggest some we try to find some respected colleague in his own field who does understand WP. Otherwise, I think we may indeed have to hard-blcok the campus. DGG ( talk ) 19:17, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
Department chairs usually have a lot of leverage, trust me on this. They can't hire or fire, but they can usually determine who gets teaching assignments and other important things. Anyway I'm not necessarily advocating that, just saying it is better than gambling on the press. Looie496 (talk) 19:32, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Looie that department chairs (and deans, and so forth) can exert a lot of influence at most universities, but more importantly, I also agree with Looie about the possible boomerang effects of trying to resolve the problem via the popular press. I've been thinking about that danger ever since Doc James brought up the idea, and Looie's saying it out loud really drove it home for me. Doc James: please give this concern some thought (and if you go ahead with your plan anyway, please keep in mind that you will be speaking as an individual editor, and not as a spokesperson for the Wikipedia community). --Tryptofish (talk) 20:04, 2 April 2013 (UTC)

Unfortunate real-world events have taken me away from Wikipedia related things for the past few weeks, which are likely to continue for at least a bit longer unfortunately. I have not been able to read the full set of events and look over diffs yet, but: holy shit. This looks like the exact type of nightmare situation I had been hoping would not come out of the USEP. As someone who has spoken vigorously in defense of the program here previously, I just want to say that from what I have seen of this situation so far, I fully support the most vigorous action necessary to stop the disruption, even if it involves temporarily hardblocking the campus. This is the kind of situation that absolutely no one involved in the education program wants or is okay with. I have some serious RL events going on right now, but will make an active effort to be on-wiki to help deal with the cleanup of this. (I also agree that press appeals are actively bad, and contacting a department chair potentially actively good. Looking at ANI, it looks like GoPhightin has taken that step already.) Kevin Gorman (talk) 20:39, 2 April 2013 (UTC)

Yes, per the very active thread at ANI, Philippe from the WMF is in contact with the department head as well as the instructor, and contacts with university counsel are also possible. I strongly urge holding off on anything involving the press until after these steps have been followed. (And Kevin, I hope your real life stuff works out OK.) --Tryptofish (talk) 21:10, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
  • The class is over, so I'm not sure how much urgency there is. I also think that constructive engagement is generally better than threats of any sort: better than contacting either the press or departmental heads. Moreover, my general view is that's it's best to have people inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in. Note that Joordens was at the Boston event organized by the WMF, and in the general atmosphere of celebration and self-congratulations no hard questions were asked of them. (The people involved in the Pune project were there, too, and that was cited as a great advance for the program; I believe that Frank and others had just come back from a trip to India and were very excited about it all.) If the Education Program is to continue, and whoever runs it, there needs to be a much more hard-nosed and thoughtful approach to things. Though it is, frankly, grand that Joordens has come to this page twice already (better than many profs), I also strongly believe that this kind of thing can sometimes best be managed in person than online. Joordens is clearly serious about continuing his research on Wikipedia. If the WMF or the nascent WEF had the funds, I'd suggest they organize some kind of summit or workshop in which the contrasting views could be discussed seriously. Anything else at this point is going to confirm the notion that Wikipedia is simply full of people with pitchforks who go after anyone who does things in an unconventional manner. And things are already getting a little unpleasantly personal. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 21:12, 2 April 2013 (UTC)
    The research aspect seems interesting. Both the Pune project and the UToronto projects had potential and positive energy when they started - but the response to them (including at the last workshop! as Jbm notes) oscillated switched from early enthusiasm to later dismay, without in the meantime learning how to run a successful large-class project. We could use a more realistic discussion of potential and pitfalls for large classes, with metrics and spot-checks that make sense to active editors. – SJ + 23:58, 7 April 2013 (UTC)
    The sociology class Gabriel mentions might make a good complementary study, if we can track down its contributor pool. – SJ + 09:47, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
  • I became aware of this issue because I had photoreceptor on my watch list as one of the spectroscopy articles I follow. To me it looked like one editor with several socks stubbornly adding references to a DAB page.[15] I reverted the page but this seemingly stubborn editor kept coming back so I started a SPI.[16] After learning about what is going and thinking about it, my suggestion is to bundle class user accounts in some way so that experienced editor feedback is in one place: a common username prefix or userbox and a common talk page of some sort. This would alert experienced editors to the fact that the new editor is part of a class and would distribute potentially valuable feedback (e.g. no refs in DAB articles, no close paraphrasing, local links to refs don't work, etc.) to all members of the class and not over and over to the individual editors who (in this case) are done with their two edits anyway. This would require a software modification, but I think that something like this is worth considering. --Kkmurray (talk) 15:30, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
    I like this idea of a tool that makes it easy to give feedback to a cluster of editors (and to experienced reviewers looking at their work). This could help with more than just classes : any time a homogenous group is being introduced to a wiki for the first time, including at an editing workshop, they tend to have similar systemic biases / confusions / blind spots. – SJ + 09:47, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
  • What has happened is more or less like me and 800 Wiki friends showing up at the U of T, pushing profs out of the way, and taking over the microphones all while shouting gibberish. When security shows up to toss us out they are referred to as "people with pitchforks" by the surrounding community of the campus. If Joordens wish to play around wiki Wikimedia software he is more than welcome to start his own site and do so. My issue is that he is using us to mark his students work. If we do not remove the poor quality edits this is deemed a success. However I have just found large amount of plagiarism that was missed. This stuff stayed in this article for 8 month [17] until I came across these widespread issue and reverted it. The longer plagiarism stays in place the harder it is to remove and the more work of subsequent editors gets lost. If we simply let these issues continue what is the media going to say about Wikipedia when a couple years form now large portions of it is simply copied and pasted from other sources? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 17:40, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
    • Yes, that's true. In fact, it occurs to me that a student in the class could probably tell the instructor that the student had done the work on Wikipedia, and get the class credit for it, without ever having made an edit on Wikipedia, because the instructor clearly is not really monitoring every student edit. Of course, that's not our problem, but it speaks to the shoddiness of how the students who do edit are being guided, and of course that's very much become our problem. --Tryptofish (talk) 18:50, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

A plea for assistance in evaluating the edits

Colin set up an assessment page to assess the work of (what we think are) Joordens' students. If we want to persuade others, particularly people outside the community, that the effect of Joordens' class was very negative, the more data we have, the better. Please consider evaluating a half-dozen or so students. The format is fairly easy to follow; take a look at the section I'm working on to get an idea, and grab a few from the section after that. If you do assess a few edits, please make sure to (a) check edits from this semester only (some students edited last semester too); (b) check every edit this semester (for most students there are only 2 or 3 edits; (c) try to check for plagiarism from the source -- and note whether you found plagiarism, or determined that the student had acceptably rephrased the material from the source, or that you couldn't tell whether the student plagiarized or not; and (d) note if the student added anything useful (i.e. that was worth adding and wasn't reverted). Revert the student yourself if necessary.

If everyone would do a dozen or so, we'd have a lot more data. I will try to do a few more myself over the next few days. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:12, 4 April 2013 (UTC)

  • I have done a half-dozen or so thus far; tomorrow it looks like I will have a little time during which I will try to review another half dozen. Go Phightins! 01:16, 4 April 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for doing this, Mike & Colin. It seems to me key issues are 1) finding a way to correct bad mental models of "what helps Wikipedia", and 2) finding a way to ask project-groups clean up after themselves.

1a) First, clarify that groups of contributors should not only try to add knowledge, they should contribute to the review/proofreading workflow. Some % of all contributions should go towards checking that they integrate well with the rest of the wiki.
1b) Problems have been noted with some current metrics for estimating contribution quality. It's worth laying out "metrics guidelines" on a separate page, and asking any researcher in the area to review and comment on those guidelines. Since some community researchers have used some of the challenged metrics in the past (characters added; edit retention), you might start by working things out with them.
2) Even with the limited data we have already, we can ask the professor to help clean up the plagiarism. It would be nice to have a simple process for summarizing any unintended problems caused by a class, with links to how to fix such problems, and asking their point of contact to do so (after the class has started; before it is over).
In this case, I would recommend that WoodSnake ask his students to review their own work, review what counts as plagiarism (a useful first-year exercise) -- and remove any material they added that is a copy/paste or close paraphrase. Then he or a TA can run an automated plagiarism check over the remaining contribs. Unlike us, they have access to both the full student userlist and to the source text.

– SJ + 17:58, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

Another psychology class in action?

I just came across Automatic and Controlled Processes (ACP) in new page patrol which is looking very duck-like. Stuartyeates (talk) 08:49, 20 April 2013 (UTC)

HIST 406?

Does anyone know what class these users Special:Contributions/Hist406-13110480303kennetheley, Special:Contributions/HIST406-13kjknlee, Special:Contributions/HIST406-13awatkin1, etc. are from? It seems to be a recurring class, given the user reg dates. -- phoebe / (talk to me) 20:13, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

This appears not to have been the first time this course has been run this way. Stuartyeates (talk) 20:41, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
I've given all users without talk pages one fo the standard welcomes. Stuartyeates (talk) 20:50, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
  • A bit of fancy detective work tells me that it's a graduate course at the University of Maryland called History of Technology, with about 35 students, taught by a professor named Robert Friedel. Looie496 (talk) 21:46, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
    I was tempted to do some "detective work" but it seems like WP:OUTING to me, so I refrained. Stuartyeates (talk) 22:38, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
  • Based on the writing I've seen, I'm skeptical that this is a graduate history class; undergrads, maybe. Anyway, they've not been disruptive; I was just wondering if we could help them out. -- phoebe / (talk to me) 16:06, 20 April 2013 (UTC)
  • I'm afraid you have an exaggerated opinion of the writing skills of the average graduate student. Even the native-born English speakers are often pathetic writers, and many graduate students come from other countries. (For undergraduates, it's good fortune if they can spell their own names correctly.) Looie496 (talk) 16:43, 20 April 2013 (UTC)
  • Now, now :) I work with grad students and undergrads all day long; I'm pretty familiar with the species. And University of Maryland appear to follow my alma mater's system, in which the 400-level classes are advanced undergrad and the grad classes start with the 5/600-level. Anyway, none of this answers the question of whether there's a class page, etc. -- phoebe / (talk to me) 20:06, 20 April 2013 (UTC)

WEF Bylaws

Just figured since Mike Cline commented on my talk page... I would ask some better questions here:

  1. How may I join the organization as a member? (Every other chapter aside from Wikimedia Russia is a membership organization with the elections going through the member process. Rationale desired beyond "The limits we placed on ourselves by our decision to incorporate on the USA mean this.")
  2. How may members of the community hold the board accountable through board procedures? Is there an option for the say some one like me, a Wikipedia administrator, a student editing on Wikipedia to get a number of others together to put a resolution before the board or call for an extraordinary general meeting to hold the board accountable?
  3. How can I run for the board? How can any other contributor to Wikipedia run for the board?
  4. What is the rationale for requiring constituent members on the board? What existing chapters that are recognised by the WMF did Aff-Comm model this approach on?
  5. Given the lack of a membership model with no accountability, what steps is the current board taking in terms of outreach to the Wikipedia community at large?
  6. Would WEF consider itself a model for others applying for affiliate status through aff-comm and the WMF? If yes, in what regards? If no, why not? --LauraHale (talk) 01:26, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
I'll post my thoughts in response, but would you mind fixing the name above? I'm Mike Christie, and I'm the one who posted on your talk page; Mike Cline is no longer on the board of the WEF.
  1. The WEF is not planned to be a membership organization in the sense described here. There were several reasons for the decision; we felt we had to incorporate in the US (we're a US/Canada organization, and need to be able to accept tax-deductible donations), and this means we have to abide by US non-profit law. (We plan to incorporate separately in Canada in the future.) Membership organizations have some obligations that we felt would be unacceptably expensive and very difficult to administer -- if we make membership completely open to all Wikipedia editors, we would be obliged to deliver notice of an AGM and to host an AGM for those members. In addition, we wanted to support two largely separate constituencies -- educators and the Wikipedia community -- and we wanted them to elect their own board members, if possible. There's no way to separate franchises with a membership organization. The result was that we took the same route as the WMF: we are not a membership organization, but have mechanisms for electing board members to represent the constituencies we hope to serve.
    This is clearly confusing. WM-NYC and WM-DC are able to function in this way. I admit to a large degree about wanting to make a joke comparing (English)Wiki(pedia) Education Foundation and Soviet Russia. The page on meta says "The WEF will follow the principles of the Wikimedia movement: it will be community-based and open." but aff-comm specifically says on their page "While not all legal systems and cultures allow for a membership organisation to be created, we strongly recommend that this model is at least investigated. Membership organisations usually include a board elected by the members, ensuring change and scalability (if a member of the board is not active any more, they can be replaced, for example)." I am completely unclear on 1) why WEF is not following aff-comm advice, and 2) why open membership and hosting an AGM is problematic. Perhaps you could go into greater detail on why these things would be difficult for you to do, when every chapter EXCEPT for WM-Russia (which appears to have every reasonable justification for their position) and every proposed affiliate follows this model. Do you have a link to the planning page where this was discussed? Because I am still unclear why holding an AGM is a bad thing and why a membership organization could not be created with different types of members. --LauraHale (talk) 06:24, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
    Affcom hasn't approved the WEF yet, and may not, of course. I can't speak for other board members, but when I voted to approve the bylaws, the primary reason was the franchise, which is discussed further down this section. The cost issue was because of the requirement in Delaware law that all members be notified of the AGM; the notification can be by email, I believe, but it meant that if we have any implicit membership rule such as "all editors with more than 250 edits are automatically members" we would have to find some method of contacting those people; I don't think talk page notification would be enough, legally, though I am not a lawyer and didn't ask that question of the lawyer. That seems like a good deal of effort and expense to make that happen, when we could simply put up a watchlist notice or something similar. I voted to approve a non-member-organization because I felt we could provide the franchise by other means, without the legally binding overhead. As I said earlier, I'm open to changing to a member organization if someone convinces me it achieves the same results without adding significant extra cost. I would want to be convinced that it would still give us good representation from the education community. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:07, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
    I also remember speaking (with somebody on the board, if not with the entire group) about the successful membership orgs. of WM-NY and WM-DC. One of the concerns for us to try to put on an AGM was that we're not actually restricted to one city or even one country. The cost would be much higher to host an annual general meeting, either for the organization or for members. I believe those on the board are interested in trying to spend that money on an annual conference to bring people together in a way that will be constructive toward programmatic work. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 17:30, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
    @LauraHale. As you note, AffCom suggests that a membership organization is at least investigated. We investigated it and decided that it wasn't the right approach for WEF. It works with WM-NYC and WM-DC because they have a smaller universe of participants. WEF will be an international organization with many more stakeholders. As Mike Christie noted, our counsel recommended that in order to comply with Delaware law without incurring the expense of holding a general assembly, we not establish WEF as a membership organization. That said, I am not sure this really has much of an effect for the stakeholders since, as the bylaws state, we will still hold elections for the Board slots. Pjthepiano (talk) 03:36, 20 April 2013 (UTC)
  2. If anyone wants to bring a matter to a board member, I would expect that board member to respond and if appropriate take the matter to the rest of the board, though of course there's nothing to stop anyone contacting all board members rather than just one. I would hope all the board members are responsive in this way. If a board member needs to be removed, the mechanism for removal is either replacement through elections or action of the board by a majority of directors.
    Except this really does not address the issue. What mechanism does the English Wikipedia community have for removing a board member since the organization is not a member one? This seems to rest on the premise of "Trust us. We, the board, are completely trustworthy on this issue." Are there plans to build into the bylaws some way of holding the board responsible? Or if we have another situation when the board appears to have been involved on some level with an instructor that had a class introducing large amounts of plagiarism, do we sit back and go "Well, nothing we can do but trust these people"? You are not really affirming any benefit of having a non-member driven organization. Instead, you appear to be making it more clear that a better model would be a model that requires an AGM so that the membership can be involved and pro-active. --LauraHale (talk) 06:24, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
    The mechanism for recall doesn't involve an AGM, so if, for you, an AGM where members can elect the board is an absolute requirement, then you could not be happy with our proposed model. I think it's worth repeating at this point that the WEF is not the Education Programme. The Education Programme is an on-wiki activity; it consists of activity by students and professors, and by other editors working with those classes; it also includes some things such as the courses extension. The WEF won't be "authorizing" or "approving" any class activity, and nor will its staff, if it should have any. If the community elects board members that convince the rest of the board to shut down the WEF and cease its operations, that wouldn't stop the EP, because the EP is an activity on wiki, and the WEF is just a support organization. If the community decides that it no longer wants classes to work on Wikipedia as they have been doing, the community would not need to address that with the WEF, because the WEF has no authority in that (or any) area; the community would have to figure out how to shut down the EP. What I hope the WEF will be able to do is provide resources for training professors, classes, campus ambassadors and others in what makes a successful class. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:07, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
  3. There will be an on-wiki election; we haven't worked out the details but personally I hope we can use something like the arbcom election method. Like arbcom we will probably have some minimum level of activity to permit voting; perhaps a minimum number of edits or time since first edit. Any suggestions for this would be great. I don't know when the first election will be; I think if we successfully incorporate and get funded and get a program director hired, we should be in a position to plan it for later this year. That's up for discussion too.
    So the educators will be elected on Meta? On English Wikipedia? The educators will be required to have a minimum number of edits? (How does an educator differ from a Wikipedia editor? I have an MSEd in Instructional Technology and have worked in schools. I do curriculum design at times. Am I an educator? Or am I a Wikipedian?) The WMF board will be participating in this online for the selection of their seats? How will the English Wikipedia community be notified?
    I posted a request for feedback on these questions here and got some responses; more responses would be good. None of the questions you asked are settled, but I'd like to hear your suggested answers, along with those of others. Not sure what you mean by "WMF board"; did you mean WEF board? If so, the answer is yes; all the board members will be standing for election (if they wish to continue) as board members. If I decide to run, I'd be running for a Wikipedian seat. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:07, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
  4. I think I answered the question about rationale -- we're trying to serve two constituencies, and I think they need independent representation. Affcom hasn't yet approved our application for affiliation, so I don't think the second part can be answered; Affcom didn't come up with the model in any case -- we did on advice from our (pro bono) lawyer. I don't know of any other non-membership-organization applications to Affcom.
    Well, no. Not certain I see the rationales here. I think a better view would be to recruit people to run for the board who have backgrounds in education and are contributors in good standing on Wikipedia. There is a constituency in this group and while their interests may be divergent, by over emphasizing the educators group without a requirement for core knowledge of Wikipedia editing, you appear to be violating the principle of "improving the quality and scope of Wikipedia content and improve Wikipedia participation through collaboration with institutions, educators and librarians in higher education" and " it will be community-based and open." How are you going to improve things? There appears to be a limited perspective provided on Wiki Education Foundation in that it provides only positive information on the program's activities in terms of Wikipedia editing. The metrics which suggest the project has been a negative have not been included, or research has not been conducted by members of the groups on the less than positive aspects. (Is that 2011 study the only one done?) Also, why are you ignoring aff-comm advise and working with your pro-bono lawyer first? Especially if you are indeed following: "The WEF will follow the principles of the Wikimedia movement: it will be community-based and open." --LauraHale (talk) 06:24, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
    I wouldn't agree that we're over-emphasizing the educators; there are only three seats reserved for them. I agree that an educator who has no idea what Wikipedia is about is unlikely to be very useful on the board, but I don't see that as likely under any of the proposed election mechanisms. I wouldn't rely solely on edit count to determine this; some educators who have been running productive classes for years have few edits, for example. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:07, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
    @LauraHale. I do want to note that I think the non-Wikipedian educator perspective is important to have on the Board. As you rightly point out, we want to improve Wikipedia participation by collaborating with institutions, educators, and librarians. If we only include educators who already are Wikipedians then we're probably not maximizing success in this area. Having both non-Wikipedian educators and Wikipedians at the same table will be beneficial. Pjthepiano (talk) 03:36, 20 April 2013 (UTC)
  1. With regard to outreach, this noticeboard is the main location. Not all board members are experienced Wikipedians (some are primarily educators, not primarily Wikipedians) and The Interior and I volunteered to hang out here and try to field questions and keep a dialog going. We're open to any suggestions on how to improve this. I like this board as a location because it does seem to have critical mass; it's the place with the highest density of Wikipedians interested in the education programme.
    How does this work with "The WEF will follow the principles of the Wikimedia movement: it will be community-based and open." if the members are not community based and not held accountable to the community? And isn't the location based rather USA centric in thinking? Maybe I missed it: Where was the research on education programs in other countries and languages other than English? Or is this an example of USA exceptionalism? --LauraHale (talk) 06:24, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
    I think for the organization to be open does not mean every member needs to be. For example, plenty of Wikipedians edit in the article namespace without ever participating in/reading discussions, but I don't think that makes Wikipedia any less open. Also, I want to be sure I have the second part of your question right, but this is a US/Canada support organization. This organization aims to support US/CAN educators to have their students make positive contributions to Wikipedia, namely ENWP. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 17:43, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
  2. Not sure what you mean here, but if you're referring to the membership structure, then I think any other organization with multiple constituencies or which is likely to have a very broad membership is likely to face the same issues we did with a membership organization approach. I don't think it's a coincidence that the WMF also decided not to become a membership organization; I think it would have been unmanageable. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 02:04, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
    Except you are not the Wikimedia Foundation. You are the only organization affiliate group application wise BESIDES WIKIMEDIA RUSSIA, that is not membership based. "We wanna be like the WMF. We do not want to hold AGMs." Membership organizations allow some degree of accountability. There is no process for community accountability with yours, and I do not understand this need at all. (Especially given the huge community pushback and the apparent lack of responsiveness when problems happen.) There is no way for the community to run for the board. We cannot hold the board accountable. Seriously, I am completely at sea here. I really, really, really do not understand this. I am working with others to create such a model, and this was an issue that never even occurred to us that we would not model ourselves using a membership organization. As an educator, as some one used to writing instructional objectives, did not you not look at all the boxes you needed to tick, see the part about being a membership organization and go "k. We can do that."? This seems like a case of WEF reading that, and as students wanting an A+ grade saying "You know, that part of the rubric doesn't apply to us." WEF has historically had community problems. And the solution for WEF people to negative community pushback appears to be to create a way to be less open, less collaborative and to keep the board lock. (Though to be fair, I can totally sympathize with the control freak aspect that makes that position favourtable.) --LauraHale (talk) 06:24, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
  1. @LauraHale. Actually, the bylaws state that there are three spots on the Board elected by and reserved specifically for the community. So it is incorrect to say that "There is no way for the community to run for the Board." Pjthepiano (talk) 03:36, 20 April 2013 (UTC)
    "WEF has historically had community problems": do you mean that the Education Programme has had community problems? The WEF doesn't even technically exist yet; we won't incorporate till we get grant money, and when we do, we won't become the Education Programme -- see my comments above. The Education Programme has had some problems, such as the IEP, but the WEF won't be running new programmes, or managing existing ones, beyond the US/Canada EP coordination function. The community doesn't currently have the resources to do the research that you (and others) have asked for; I would like to see the WEF fund that research. There is a need for outreach to groups such as the APS who are encouraging professors to run classes on Wikipedia; those have had a low success rate and it would be great if we could figure out how to improve that. There are certainly things the WEF could do that would be likely to be harmful, such as publicizing the "Wikipedia in the classroom" approach without any guidance on how to make it work, but I would hope we'd have more sense than to do something like that. But as of now we haven't done anything, because we don't yet exist. I would really like to get more feedback on what the community would like to see the WEF do to make the EP more successful. Surely, unless the EP is shut down, the WEF is a resource for the community that can help make the EP less of a burden and more a source of good edits and retained editors. But if you do want to shut down or change the EP itself, the WEF is not your target; we are (or hope to be) a support group. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:07, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
    But let me try this last one again: I am working with others on going through the process to get recognition for The Wikinewsie Group and we plan to have a strong educational aspect down the pipe. A preliminary piece of research on that is Wikinews Review Analysis. What have you learned from the WEF process that would be useful to TWG in speeding along our application? --LauraHale (talk) 06:24, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
    I'm going to defer to Pharos on this; he was the board member who guided the AffCom application. I'll leave a note on his talk page. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:09, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
    Hi Laura. WEF's application process is somewhat unusual, in that we are proposing a new thematic organization to take over what was previously a WMF function. So parallels to the proposed Wikinewsie group with its more innovative initial program are limited, but I would suggest it is important to develop pilot programs (which you have certainly already been doing!), and even perhaps to establish some long-term partnerships to lay the groundwork for an application. That, and try to gather a large and diverse group of interested participants. Also, I would recommend talking to AffCom members at an early stage, perhaps on an informal basis, to see what qualities they would be looking for in your group's application..--Pharos (talk) 22:10, 20 April 2013 (UTC)
Mike, this is all a little disingenuous. As I say, I don't really want to discuss the WEF. But for those interested, some more light on the board's thinking can be found in this document which, until recently (until, that is, I quoted from it on this page, when it was suddenly removed), was one of the "public documents" to be found on the WEF's private wiki. It gives only a glimpse, but certainly more of a glimpse than anything else we've got over the past year. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 02:40, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
Hmph. Apparently building the city on a hill of educational innovation requires some distance from the autochthons and their barbaric customs. I'm actually sympathetic towards some of the implicit criticisms embodied in alternative 2: Wikipedia has tremendous social inertia (hey, look, RfA reform failed again), a complex tangle of both written and unwritten rules for editors, the occasional wandering monkeywrencher, and editors are generally not that interested in Innovation. But the big problem with alternative 2 is that, having declared that "Wikipedia skills alone are unlikely to produce any innovative uses of Wikipedia and related projects in communities of teaching, learning, and inquiry," it fails to recognize the reverse. Sitting around in a cozy-little off-Wiki forum with a bunch of educators who have never edited Wikipedia about what you think might be a useful innovation is going to generate a bunch of high-sounding nonsense which will be bounced out of Wikipedia as fast as it gets in. Useful innovation in the educational use and editing of Wikipedia needs to come from people who both understand, through experience, Wikipedia editing as it now exists and desire to improve it. If you don't spend some time "endur[ing] Wikipedia norms" among Ye Salvages, it's unlikely that your new ideas will be workable. Choess (talk) 06:33, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
Choess, I agree that if we were just "sitting around in a cozy-little off-Wiki forum with a bunch of educators" then we'd be in trouble. That sounds awful. But we're clearly not doing that. We have several respected Wikipedians on the Board. And we're here, debating these issues on the noticeboard, which I certainly wouldn't characterize as "cozy." As you say below, we can't innovate in a vacuum and we certainly don't intend to do that. Pjthepiano (talk) 03:36, 20 April 2013 (UTC)
Welcome to the noticeboard, PJthepiano! I note that these are your first edits to the page. If this discussion is attracting members of the putative board to start engaging on-wiki, then that's very welcome indeed. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 15:52, 20 April 2013 (UTC)
That document was written by Mike Cline, and doesn't represent more than his view; I'm not sure why he posted it to that page, or why he removed it. (Mike is no longer a board member, by the way.) My reaction (you'd have to ask the other board members for theirs) is similar to yours: yes, there are some implicit criticisms of Wikipedia there that are real, but I would agree that useful discussions require a heavy dose of existing Wikipedia experience. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:16, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, Mike. I did assume that this didn't represent operative policy, but I wanted both to make the point that you can't "innovate" about Wikipedia in a vacuum, and acknowledge that the criticism of how Wikipedia functions had some merit, even if it wasn't pitched in a way to attract support on-Wiki. More positively, I have pulled together some notes on what I think might be productive directions for the WEF or any project looking to link educators, but they'll have to wait a bit, as I have a search committee meeting in a few minutes. Choess (talk) 12:40, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
It should also probably be noted that Mike Cline's comments there were actually meant as his criticism of aspects of the existing WEF proposal.--Pharos (talk) 22:22, 20 April 2013 (UTC)

A case study

I decided to put my money where my mouth is, with respect to my having said a bunch of times that it's OK to revert student edits, and I've decided to show here what I did, and invite reaction. Animal ethics is on my watchlist, although it's not a very high priority for me to spend a lot of time on. There was a student project there this semester, from Ball State University. I saw student edits, and saw some problems, although there was also a considerable expansion of the page with sourced material. I didn't revert anything, but I tagged the page: [18], and explained (hopefully in a very non-BITEy way) on the talk page: [19]. Someone from the class replied: [20], and I replied in turn to them: [21]. Up to this point, I'm pretty sure everything would be considered to be by-the-book and noncontroversial. But the issues I raised really didn't get fixed. So today, just after giving a somewhat opinionated reply to Colin just above on this noticeboard, I decided to go back to that page. I reverted all of the student edits: [22], and again explained in talk: [23]. I'll fully admit: my reverting was quite WP:BOLD and quite WP:IAR, and some editors here may feel that I went too far. Please feel free to say so, as I've created this discussion to invite you to do that. But I personally don't feel bad about it at all, and I hope that this discussion will help other editors deal with after-student clean-up without feeling bad either. For me, the key point is that I began by trying to be helpful to the students, and I think that I unquestionably did that – but after not seeing things get fixed, I neither felt obligated to fix them myself nor felt obligated to ignore it. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:59, 18 April 2013 (UTC)

I'm the ambassador for that class, and I have no problem with your approach there. I told that particular group that that topic was so broad as to represent a major challenge for editors who don't know the topic well. There is some content that could be salvaged from that content, but it would take considerable time to weed it out, and it's up to the editor who wants it on the page to get it up to scratch. That class is well led by the prof, and engage on wiki to some extent, and I think an improvement for them would be to post their content earlier (I know it's difficult in a three-month course), so that students would have more time to redraft and rework their content to get it up to community norms. I've done the same in the past. The students will be disappointed, but if they really want that content up on the page, they can log back in and work with your suggestions. The Interior (Talk) 00:28, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
If the topic was so broad as to represent a major challenge for the student editors, why as the ambassador did you approve it, or at least not try to discourage them from attempting it.? The key role of the WP-savvy ambassadors, as I understand it, is to help the class fit their work into the context of WP, which first of all means selecting appropriate topics. DGG ( talk ) 01:32, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
I discussed the topic with the professor, where I indicated it would be a challenge. He felt they were bright students, and up for a challenge. I put a lot of work into helping the prof and students choose appropriate topics, this was one article where that didn't work out. I don't have the power to "approve" what anyone works on, I can only give advice. If it's not followed, what can I do? The Interior (Talk) 01:43, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
Reverting seems like a sensible step to me. The article was a collection of well-sourced related information, but not structured as an encyclopedia article. Stuartyeates (talk) 09:20, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
Would it be appropriate in a situation like this to post the removed information (the well-sourced part) on the talk page with a note that someone may be interested in integrating it into the article, but it's not quite yet in a state that should be in the article namespace? Not even from the student's perspective; just from the perspective that somebody put some work into researching missing information, and maybe somebody else will want to come along and work it in. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 16:46, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
That's an interesting question, about moving it to talk. It hadn't occurred to me. I did say explicitly on talk that anyone could get it back by reverting my revert. If I had moved it to talk, it would have been a very large block of text (and it's all reasonably well-sourced but badly written). Also, I'm deliberately trying to see what happens if I do this in a manner that involves a minimum of effort on the editor's (in this case, me) part, because I'm trying to identify how, within community consensus, an editor can deal with this kind of situation without getting "stressed out". --Tryptofish (talk) 17:58, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
Moving to talk is what I have found to be the best approach when dealing with suboptimal but well intended editions, and specially work from classes. It gives the text a second opportunity since it is not lost in the previous versions and it can be used as a raw version for future improvements by either the person who added it in the first plce, the primary editor of the article, or any other who may come in the future. In the talk page it becomes a pointer to some potential interesting content and even to some preliminary refs (usually primary). It is also less disruptive for the student (or any other editor) since it gives the message that there is some potential in the addition but that the text is not "yet there". In the worst case scenario in which nobody does anything it will be finally archived in the talk page. In summary it has several advantages: 1-less violent for the first editor (less biting). 2-Since text is potentially interesting still improving the wiki, since content is keept in a draft stage for future improvement. 3-Easy to carry out by us. --Garrondo (talk) 10:02, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
I can accept that it may be the best approach, but I don't think that we should consider it the only acceptable one (especially when we have classes with 1900 students). In this particular case, I don't intend to move it to talk, but anyone else should feel free to, but I did just make an edit to WP:ASSIGN, indicating that moving to talk is an option that editors should consider. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:14, 21 April 2013 (UTC)

Is there a way for an editor to check the edits of one class?

I think there should be a way to do this for normal editors, but is there a method to check the edits of any individual course at Special:Courses, anytime one would please? It seems one has to sign up as an online ambassador just to check the edits of one class. I am interested in following up with a class, but I see no way to do this yet. Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 23:44, 21 April 2013 (UTC)

There is not, at present, but it's high on the priority list.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 00:27, 22 April 2013 (UTC)

Account creator permission usage

Hello everyone, I have started a discussion at WT:PERM regarding the use and assignment of the account creator flag. I thought I would let the people affected by this know. -- DQ on the road (ʞlɐʇ) 01:31, 22 April 2013 (UTC)



As shown, when I go to Special:MyCourses I see the activity of a class only from the last 44 hours, with no option to see below this. Is there a time cut-off? Also, the list creates white space on the right of the page by wrapping the text. Maybe the time could be placed on the right of the page so that it doesn't bunch on the right of the page? Biosthmors (talk) 23:39, 21 April 2013 (UTC)

Have a generally more flexible and efficient tool for monitoring student contributions is probably something we'll be tackling this summer, although I'm not sure whether that will mean refining and extending the current MyCourses feed or replacing it with a new design.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 00:32, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
When I go Special:MyCourses, I'm invited to 'enroll' in a course: "You are not currently enrolled in any active courses. You can view the list of courses and enroll in one." That needs to be reworded to avoid to implication that users enrol for these sources via en.wikipedia rather than the host institutions. Stuartyeates (talk) 00:39, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
Good point. I'll get that wording revised. Suggestions welcome.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 01:00, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
"You are not currently enrolled in any active courses. You can view the list of courses and enroll in one." changes to "Your wikipedia account is not signed up for any active courses. If you are enrolled in an appropriate course at a participating institution, you can sign up on the course page, which is listed in the list of courses. The Wikipedia training for students and the Wikipedia training for educators is available for all." Stuartyeates (talk) 07:04, 22 April 2013 (UTC)

A broken course page?

When I try to view Education_Program:Marquette_University/Neurobiology_(Spring_2013) I get an error. When I try to view other Special:Courses I do not (random example: Education Program:Williams College/Using a Computer to do the Math You Cannot Do (2013 Q1)). Is this error for the Marquette page reproducible for others? Biosthmors (talk) 21:39, 6 April 2013 (UTC)

As far as I've seen, it only affects that page (so far). It's been going on for a few weeks (see T48577). We have a fix coded for it now, but it's a complex update so it's taking a while to get through code review before it can be deployed.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 21:53, 6 April 2013 (UTC)
We've now applied a workaround to get this and another affected page working again. If anyone notices other course pages that show an error when you try to view them (which may happen when students' articles get deleted), please let me know quickly and I can try to have the workaround re-applied. Also, the patch to fix the fundamental cause of these problems has been merged, but won't deploy for another few weeks.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 21:30, 15 April 2013 (UTC)
I believe this is fixed for good now. :) --Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:06, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

Related bug: missing links to student articles

With the fix for this, there's a new bug you may see: student articles listed on course pages that are not linked (T49439). The reason is that course pages track the id of an article rather than the title of it. Previously, a mismatch between an article id and title (which could change because of page moves and deletions, or because the student added the article before it existed and so there was no id) was causing the course pages to break. Now it just causes the article to not be linked. This happens most commonly if a student added the article via the course page before creating it. The workaround is for the student to remove the article and re-add it.

It's currently no longer possible to add an article that does not exist, but we're working to re-enable that--without the missing links issue. In the meantime, if you find a student or instructor confused by articles that aren't linked, let them know they can fix the issue by removing and re-adding their articles.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:24, 22 April 2013 (UTC)

MOOCs and the like

If we are going to be proactive and far-thinking in our discussions about Wikipedia and education, I think we need to consider the recent massification that reaches its apogee with phenomena such as MOOCs. I don't think it'll be long before a MOOC comes along with an assignment to edit Wikipedia. What happens then?

We can see this in nuce with Steve Joordens's famous class. After all, the first question to ask about that is precisely why there are today college classes with 1800 or so students. What's going on? Clearly, this is driven by economics: the university receives 1800 quanta of tuition dollars and only has to pay one or two professors, plus a small army of poorly-remunerated TAs. In some ways, such classes are MOOCs avant la lettre. It's only the next step to take away the real estate and make them completely online.

And if you're put in charge of 1800 students, then it only makes sense to try to use whatever technological fix you can think of to make the class manageable. No wonder that Joordens decided to introduce a Wikipedia assignment: it came directly from the logic of the situation he was put in. Moreover, it's part of the constant drive to use technology as a means to improve efficiences and up revenue.

As this drive is ongoing, and indeed has gathered around it some kind of aura of sexiness (see all the discussion of MOOCs everywhere from the New York Times to edublogs), it will only continue. And talk (promoted by the WMF) of using Wikipedia in classrooms only enhances this aura. We've been saying for too long: "this is cool; this works." No wonder Joordens thought he had the green light (and indeed he did) when he was at the Education Program's Boston Jamboree. And despite the poor press that he received, his will be only the first, I suggest, of many such M(OO)Cs to hit Wikipedia.

The question is: what to do about it? Is there anyway of confronting this situation that isn't simply defensive, reactive? --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 02:58, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

I'm in no way a supporter of what Joordens did, but I have to defend him in this regard. I don't believe at all that he did the Wikipedia project in order to save work -- in fact, having taught large classes myself (nowhere near as large as his), I'm sure the logistical demands were quite formidable. It would have been much easier for him to do the usual lectures+tests thing. Looie496 (talk) 03:23, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
That may be so; I've never had anything like so large a class. But to clarify: I wasn't particularly trying to attack him; if anything, the contrary. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 04:12, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
Looie, I'm not so sure about it being easier to just do lectures+tests. It all comes down to how student work is evaluated, and how students are advised. If, hypothetically but plausibly in terms of what we saw with Joordens, the students received relatively little question-answering about how to edit and how not to edit, and if nobody really reviewed their edits here, instead just giving the extra credit points if the student claimed to have made the edits, then it would be a massive effort-saver for the instructor and any TAs. And, as Jbmurray described so accurately, academia has massive albeit cynical incentives to do just that. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:10, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
(edit conflict) In my view the WMF's behaviour in the regard is meatpuppetry: They take action offline and without the consensus support of, which results in mass semi-coordinated edits which are to the detriment of content and community. They keep doing it when made aware of the choas they're causing. We've blocked meatpuppets in the past and should build a consensus to do so in this case. Stuartyeates (talk) 03:30, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
I think Joordens class was a mix of good intentions scuppered by ignorance (partly his fault and party WMFs), of not thinking things though outside of his own concerns (what if everybody did this, Tragedy of the commons, etc) and not listening to advice he didn't want to hear. Taking these three issues, we need to clear up any mistaken beliefs about the volunteer community's abilities. For example: it simply doesn't have the (willing) resources to cope with your huge class. Outside of hot topics, many articles are tended by one or two editors and some articles might be effectively unwatched at all. And the hot topics are probably best avoided anyway. Our editors are often at a disadvantage compared to students wrt access to sources, so can't check facts or plagiarism. That you shouldn't treat WP as a place to simply upload new material with a few links, but as encyclopaedic articles to be improved and a community to be interacted with. That ultimately we exist to be an encyclopaedia to be read, not for giving marks to students. Secondly, we need the classes to consider the effect of their size and what happens when they all do this. Is what they are doing fair on the volunteer community? How can they give as well as take? What resources can they supply to help? It would be great if they could help fund access to journals for volunteers, for example. Or donate images. And thirdly we need policy to deal with classes that won't listen. Because we can't block 1000 student accounts that aren't actually editing any longer. I know this last thing is defensive/reactive but the point is that if such policy is in place in the first place, then hopefully action will be needed less often. Like the speed limit sign makes you slow down to a sensible speed. Colin°Talk 10:04, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
In response to Because we can't block 1000 student accounts that aren't actually editing any longer. We block inactive sockpuppet/meatpuppet accounts all the time, it's inactive vandals that there's no consensus for blocking. Stuartyeates (talk) 21:00, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

My Wikipedia MOOC plans

[I'm posting with my volunteer account, as this is independent from the WMF Global Education Program.]

As I noted here a while back, I've been trying to organize a Wikipedia MOOC. The grant proposal on Meta gives a decent, although somewhat disorganized, overview of how far the plans have developed. There are a lot of experienced Wikipedians who are eager to help with it, but I won't have the capacity to coordinate it without some kind of funding, so it's still an open question whether it will actually come together with the ~September 2013 timeframe for running the course. (The proposal was not funded in the recently concluded first round of the Individual Engagement Grants program; I'm exploring and applying for other grant options now.)

So obviously, I think there's a lot of potential for a Wikipedia MOOC, if it's done right. From my perspective, first and foremost that means steering clear of assignments that might break Wikipedia or overwhelm its existing community. The plan for my course is to focus on exploring Wikipedia from many different angles with an emphasis on understanding how Wikipedia its community works. Recruiting long-term editors is the goal, but the class itself would only have the most basic requirements in terms of making edits outside of sandboxes.

There is a big difference between a huge quasi-traditional university course like Joordens' and a MOOC on Coursera or edX. MOOC students are largely self-motivated to learn about the subject of a class they are enrolled in, and there's little incentive to bumble through assignments they don't want to do or are not interested in. This is why you see a typical Coursera classes with 50,000 students, but only 1,000-2,000 remain active to the end, and maybe half that many do the assignments. Of course, many do them very badly even still, but that's no different from the baseline influx of Wikipedia newbies. The difference from other classes is that incompetent or uninterested students don't have the same kind of grade pressure to press on anyway... and if the assignments are designed well, the burden on the community will be very low anyway. In my MOOC plan, in contrast to the Wikipedia Education Program approach, the impact would come from what the students choose to do on their own after they learn the basics through the class, rather than from the things they are explicitly assigned to do for class.

I think Jbmurray is probably right that some kind of Wikipedia MOOC will happen sooner or later. I'd like to set a good precedent for it, so that we don't have the first Wikipedia MOOCs come from people who don't know enough about how Wikipedia works not to break it.--ragesoss (talk) (aka Sage Ross) 14:20, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

Just quickly, and to clarify: I am of course aware of Sage's efforts, and while I had them partly in mind my comments above weren't meant as a criticism (implicit or otherwise) of them. I agree very much with the last paragraph here, and think that if anyone is going to make a MOOC work on Wikipedia, it's probably Sage. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 14:59, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
It seems to me that, for the large online enterprises such as Coursera and edX, if only a small percentage of their (initial) students really follow through on what they've been assigned, it's going to be awfully difficult to have quality control for the edits that do reach the Wiki. (I agree 100%, by the way, with Jbmurray's characterization at the top of this discussion, of the economic drives behind MOOCs in universities.) In that regard, it may be a mistake to assume that Coursera and edX will prove to be any different than what Joordens did, although I'd be delighted to have Sage prove me wrong. In thinking about MOOCs, we may have to consider an alternative that I raised a while back: setting a policy limiting class size, above which a student project would be considered disruptive. The key to avoiding that, I think, will be to figure out how to construct the assignment so that it does not overwhelm existing editors. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:03, 19 April 2013 (UTC)
the difficulty is that though the class project may be disruptive, the individual editors still have the right to edit as long as their work individually is not disruptive. An individual who makes a poor edit in good faith is not being disruptive unless they continue after warning. (The suggestion of treating the students as meatpuppets, would be very unfair to them.) The maximum class size obviously depends both on the assignment, and the extent of instruction and supervision. We can and must keep the bad work out of WP, but unless we want to change the rule that anyone can edit, we will have to deal with whatever the outside world sends our way. This is inevitably harder the better known we are and the more attractive editing here becomes.
What I hope Sage can do is find some way of screening the material, or advising the students so effectively that the work is good. If he can manage that, perhaps we can figure out how to apply it to ordinary new editors. DGG ( talk ) 04:34, 20 April 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I think that you make a very useful distinction there, between the effects of an assignment and the editing privileges of individual student editors. Student editors should be welcomed if they are trying to edit in good faith. But another important distinction is that "typical" Wikipedians choose to edit, each for our own reasons, whereas student editors come here either partly or entirely because their instructor requires them to, rather than because they, themselves, chose to. Consequently, that requirement to edit – the assignment – becomes all-important, and it needs to be the focus of what we might regulate by policy or guideline. --Tryptofish (talk) 15:37, 20 April 2013 (UTC)
I find both the "anyone can edit" and "sum of all human knowledge" mantras to be frequently cited in a harmful way. The fact that we have behavioural and content policy and guidelines that ultimately block people and limit or remove knowledge shows both statements don't hold up to close scrutiny and are half-truths and spin. Yes, in a broad sense any person can come to Wikipedia and edit it. But then we immediately dictate how they must behave and what they can write. We do question "why are you here" with our policies on COI, meatpuppetry and POV. Often I think people silently append "for any purpose" to the "anyone can edit" statement. This isn't an open wiki for folk to edit in any direction or for any purpose. It is an encyclopaedia. Wikipedia was designed as a volunteer-driven wiki. That is the assumption that all our policies and guidelines operate under wrt editors at present. A student assignment isn't wholly meatpuppetry but neither is it wholly voluntary. There's a degree of compulsion involved that makes the student do things they wouldn't have considered. This can be good, but can also mean they write beyond their abilities or about topics they know nothing or push a POV they don't actually believe in, etc. In my view, our thinking about students and what to do with them is limited by trying to apply policy designed for volunteers to these editors. Instead we need policy for the class, the assignment and those in charge of the assignment. Hence WP:Assignments. It doesn't require changing the "rule" that "anyone can edit" but it requires thinking of other ways to manage such assignments. I'm not wedded to the wording in that essay but do feel we need something to tackle this paradigm-shift in the editor-base and from volunteer-led to assignment-led editing. There's a shift of responsibility from the person directly making the edit to the person (or people) directing and supervising them. There's a huge shift of scale, where 900 articles can be edited in the space of a few days. There's a shift of account lifespan down to potentially just minutes. And so on. And we have no current policy that deals with this shift. We need to think about this differently. Please help out at WP:Assignments. Colin°Talk 09:43, 20 April 2013 (UTC)

Where's the line of being attentive to one's students' contributions?

After seeing drama over yet another poor student article cross my watchlist today (AN discussion, Ambassadors post, DRV), I find myself wondering where the line is that we expect professors to tread with regard to engagement with their students' articles. In the huge drama up a ways on this noticeboard, we had Woodsnake, who felt he was not required to supervise or engage with his students' contributions at all. Today, we have Piotrus, who is going to bat, hugely and somewhat aggressively, for an article written by one of his students. Where, exactly, is the line? It may be helpful in the long run if we can enumerate for professors exactly how much involvement from them in student articles is ideal.

Long outline of points we should consider spelling out. Please read them and comment below about which you think should apply, and feel free to suggest new ones.

A: Content-wise, would we want all professors to:

  1. Check student articles for copyvios, and clean them out if found?
  2. Check student articles for comprehensible English?
  3. Check student articles for notability?
  4. Check student articles for ability to pass CSD?
  5. Check student articles for "would this survive AfD" quality?

B: For their evaluation of students, would we want all professors to, prior to any assignment beginning,:

  1. Train students to [someone's] satisfaction with regard to our policies (notability, neutrality, etc)?
  2. Train students to [someone's] satisfaction with regard to encyclopedic tone?
  3. Evaluate students' abilities with regard to writing and article construction?
  4. Prevent students from doing Wikipedia assignments if they are unable to satisfy on (some of) the previous two elements and/or on basic English skills?
  5. Prevent students from doing Wikipedia assignments in mainspace if they are unable to satisfy on (some of) the previous two elements and/or on basic English skills?

C: For their interaction with the community, would we want all professors to:

  1. Satisfy whatever we prefer for (A) and (B) above, and then step back?
  2. If there is a problem or problems found in a student'(s) article(s), would we want professors to:
    1. Do nothing, letting the wiki-ecosystem clean itself?
    2. Act as a translator/liaison between students and community when there are problems, explaining the situation to both sides but not taking a position?
    3. Explain what changes need to be made to students who may not understand?
    4. Help students make changes the community identifies, if the student can't do it on their own?
    5. Personally edit students' articles to bring them in line with our policies if the student can't or won't do so?
    6. Defend student articles against deletion or other content processes?
      1. If they feel an actual, "oopsie, wrong button"-type error has been made in pursuing those processes on that article?
      2. If a reasonable argument can be made in defense of them?
      3. If they are willing to correct the article to bring it in line with our policies?
      4. No matter what?

Which of these are we/they doing now? Which should we/they be doing? A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 15:24, 21 April 2013 (UTC)

Adding an "on second thought" note - these questions should probably all go for ambassadors, too, since supervision of the students should (I think?) be a cooperation between prof and ambassador. A fluffernutter is a sandwich! (talk) 15:44, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
  • My initial thoughts for what we should be doing are:
  • In section A: 1, 2, 4
  • In section B: 1-5
  • In section C: 2, and then 2, 3, 4.
  • An online or course ambassador should also help with this, but at the end of the day, the responsibility should fall on the professor and/or teaching assistants to make sure there aren't massive problems. Go Phightins! 15:40, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
I am not sure I like the framing of my actions as aggressive; I think I am simply being active and knowledgeable about the wiki dispute resolution system, and not afraid to use it :/ Setting that aside, I believe that the answers to your list of question is: A: all yes, although there is the question of what to do when a student post an article that fails at some point, the professor notifies the student of that problem, then the student still does nothing. Should the professor then report his/her own student work for deletion? Moving on, B, I'd say yes to first two, although I'd define [someone's] as the instructor. Student's ability to write should be taken as given, although some, of course, may fail. This is to be expected. Moving to the last questions, I think sandboxes may need to be required if the students level is very poor. In the past I was teaching at an institution that was not a problem; today I am faced with a different situation that is requiring me to reevaluate my attitude towards sandboxes. Lastly, C. I think the instructors have a responsibility to ensure good cooperation with Wikipedians; it is a public space - just like one would not want to have students litter in a public space, one should not want to have students litter Wikipedia. That said, I personally draw the line at doing student's work for them. I may fix technicalities (format a malfunctioned infobox, broken cite template, etc.) but I will not add significant content, wikify the articles, copyedit it for better prose, or such. If the article will be deleted, so be it, although I would like to be given time to address any problematic issues (few days which are afforded by prod/AFDs are enough; zero seconds which are a result of a speedy admin action as in the linked case here are not). Regarding defending student articles, they should not be treated differently from any other articles. Instructors should be involved in such discussions, but should not be defensive of the students content because of who wrote it; they may however be defensive of it if such an attitude is justified by other Wikipedia policies. I think it is reasonable, I don't even understand your point of "No matter what?", which very much seems to me to be a straw men type of a question. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 15:43, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
I'd like to add something not mentioned in Fluffernutter's original list:
Professors should consult with WikiProjects relevant to their subject area, well in advance of letting their students loose. WikiProject participants are generally well positioned to give good advice about: the "yet to be written" articles or the "most wanted" improvements to existing articles, in their subject area; the capacity of the project to absorb and process a sudden influx of new material of highly variable (but generally low) quality, and other subject-specific issues. In short; WikiProjects can assist professors and their classes to optimise their contribution to Wikipedia. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 18:33, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
That's a good idea, unfortunately many WikiProjects are not very active. In WP:SOCIO, where I am as far as I know the only one to take interest in this and reply to educational requests for help, I noticed that they are never done by the instructor(s). All we get are students introducing themselves, asking for help - and, as is the usual experience, never coming back to reply back to my comments. Sigh. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 02:51, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
Just because some WikiProjects are inactive does not invalidate the entire idea - take a look at WP:Education noticeboard#A few observations about a recent event, a case where a very active WikiProject could (and certainly would) have been in an ideal position to assist a class project to optimise their results. The main problem is that educational activities on WP (in whatever form) are currently a WP:Walled garden - it appears as if they intentionally sneak around like ninjas "stealth editing", afraid of being noticed by the "regular" editing community. I've actually seen some off-wiki advice to student projects where "wikipedia editors" are practically described as "the enemy, avoid contact with them, they will destroy your work with their stupid rules". Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 07:22, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
  • I've looked at the linked discussions, and I find it relevant that the emerging consensus at the deletion review looks like the community endorses the deletion. Personally, I think it's tough to use speedy deletion with student pages, because it leaves little opportunity for the students to see what the problem is, and try to fix it – but I feel very strongly that we should, as a matter of policy, allow editors to respond to student edits the same way they would respond to anyone else's edits, and in cases where that means CSD, so be it. About Fluffernutter's question, I think there's an important difference between what we want instructors to do, and what we should require them to do. It's easy for me to answer what I want: pretty much everything on the list in parts A and B, and those things in part C that constitute being helpful to the rest of the editing community. Put another way, please see WP:ASSIGN. As for what we can or should require, I'm still wrestling with that. But I think we will need a policy or guideline, perhaps what Colin has been working on, or perhaps a modified version of ASSIGN. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:08, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
  • These are good questions, and I'm not sure that I have good answers--though hopefully this discussion will help clarify things. A few weeks ago, I became involved with a project on "Cricket and Englishness" that led me to go to hell and gone (ANI, RSN, WikiProject Council...) to try to clear a space for students to edit, in the face of some rather over-protective editing from established editors. I also personally worked on some of the articles involved to address some of the issues that had been raised--some of which were indeed legitimate. I did this even though I wasn't formally connected to the project at all. In this case (unlike in the case discussed here), we fairly quickly gained consensus at all the various forums we found ourselves. Still, I was definitely more interventionist than 99% of instructors would be willing or able to be; and for a class project that was ultimately only two or three weeks long. It was a lot of work for rather sparse reward. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 10:20, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
  • Re: defending deletion requests: I think one of the benefits of having professors assign their students to edit is that they can identify gaps on Wikipedia (within their own expertise), and they can work through students to minimize those gaps. This is not always the case, though it's definitely the direction I'd like to see educational projects on Wikipedia move. I would think a professor getting involved and arguing for an article is a good way for an expert to argue for the relevance of the scholarship to the field. Sure, sometimes it may be a biased argument because of the students' feelings (or maybe an end-of-semester review), but I'd guess that more frequently, professors truly believe those articles should exist for others to read about. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 17:56, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
Faculty or other experts can find gaps in our coverage, but if they are inexperienced at WP they are in general not qualified to figure out what will be the appropriate way to fill those gaps; consultation with someone experienced here is essential, and this should be the role of the online ambassador. Experience has shown that neither the instructor nor the ambassadors are necessarily able to estimate whether their students will actually be able to write the articles that are necessary, at least the first time they do a WP project, and a good deal of adaptability seems the main requirement. We should try to see that a class working under the program does do the necessary consultation on topics--but we also need to accept that not all tries will be successful. Unfortunately we cannot assume that all instructors will actually understand the nature of WP, or be skilled at making class assignments or willing to receive feedback. And unfortunately we can not assume that all WPedians will provide appropriate feedback, or help the way they should, any more than they do in other situations. DGG ( talk ) 06:15, 23 April 2013 (UTC)

Student groups editing marine articles

What appears to be two student groups have started editing articles on marine life: EcoWikiGroup13 (talk · contribs) at Oncorhynchus, and Group9ecology (talk · contribs) at Coccolithophore. The edits so far seem fairly competent and Copyscape doesn't detect plagiarism. However, the names they have chosen suggest there may be 13 or more groups involved, so this may be the start of considerable activity. Has their instructor notified anyone that this would be happening. Is there any procedure to follow from our end if this is what is taking place? --Epipelagic (talk) 04:42, 23 April 2013 (UTC)

The account names also suggest that these are group accounts, which so far as I know goes against policy, no? --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 08:32, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
2335 G10 (talk · contribs) also seems to be a participant. S/he has made major recent additions to Gulper shark. -- Yzx (talk) 16:18, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
I thought this may be an Ecology class at UBC, but none of these usernames are on the list the prof gave me. None of their edits/sandboxes give any sort of clue, but if you see others, please post them here, and we'll try to see if this is a class working with an Ambassador or a class that might need more support. Thanks for coming here! JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 20:46, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
About where policy stands on group accounts, a few days ago I saw a discussion on someone's talk page (and now I can't remember where I saw it, sorry) where an administrator said that he was blocking group accounts belonging to student groups, as being disruptive because there was more than one person per a single registered account. And in fact, WP:NOSHARE indicates that group accounts are against policy. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:09, 23 April 2013 (UTC)

A few observations about a recent event

Please take a look at WT:WikiProject Disability#Disability culture, a brief discussion about an "edit-a-thon" by a class and how it affected (or rather failed to affect) a WikiProject. Please also see the external site mentioned in the discussion and the comment I posted there. It's an example of how disconnected educational editing is from the mainstream Wikipedia community. I believe my comment at the external site may have some value for this Educational Project. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 12:07, 20 April 2013 (UTC)

That was very interesting reading, thanks. I suppose a small but reasonably helpful impact, as here, is a much, much better result than a large and unhelpful impact like that of some student assignments. I'm reminded of a few years back, when the Society for Neuroscience set up a project to get neuroscientists involved with Wikipedia. Looie496 and I worked quite hard, along with a couple of other editors, to make that a success. Briefly, there was immense enthusiasm from the Society. However, over time relatively few new editors really came here as a result (see Category:Wikipedian members of the Society for Neuroscience Wikipedia Initiative), which somewhat resembles your experience. I still think these kinds of outreach are very good things, but the fact that anyone can edit does not mean that anyone wants to edit. --Tryptofish (talk) 15:46, 20 April 2013 (UTC)
Interestingly, I see that HASTAC is involved in that project. I've repeatedly said that the proposed WEF (or any other similar body) should reach out to HASTAC. (Both HASTAC and select representatives of the WMF Education Program were at Barcelona, as I mentioned here, however, that opportunity was well and truly wasted. HASTAC were far more impressive than Dunican and his folk.) Indeed, if I were involved, I'd immediately try to get Cathy Davidson as one of the co-opted board members. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:14, 20 April 2013 (UTC)
Interesting; I must have missed this suggestion when you've posted it before. Can you tell me more about your interactions with them/her in Barcelona (I wasn't there)? Just reading their page does tell me they would be really great to involve, if we can connect with them. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 17:42, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
It may have been something I've said most explicitly off-wiki. I've known Cathy for ages, but HASTAC were particularly impressive in Barcelona--and partly as a result, have gotten close to the Mozilla Foundation since. (I'm less impressed by Mozilla, myself, but it's a no-brainer that Wikipedia should find ways to work with them; they're very interested in education, too.) Anyhow, if you drop me an email, I'll put you in touch. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 18:02, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
HASTAC is an amazing organization. Indeed, they already involved with Wikipedia editing: Rewriting Wikipedia Project. However, while acknowledging that I was not present at the Barcelona meeting, I would think it a bit unfair to compare the WMF Education Program representatives' presence to HASTAC's: HASTAC has around 9,000 members, most of whom are funded to pursue Digital Humanities projects on a full-time basis. I agree, though, that they present a great opportunity for partnership and, as a "co-opted board member," appreciate the reference. Bob Cummings (talk) 16:29, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
I don't think that the difference between HASTAC and the EP (or whatever they were called at the time; I forget) had much to do with numbers or funding. I won't bother going into details, but essentially the HASTAC representatives were Cathy Davidson, some of her undergraduates, and a couple of others (I particularly remember Anne Balsamo). HASTAC had probably paid a little bit more for airfares and the like (and I know that Cathy and her partner were at one of Barcelona's nicest hotels...), though I suspect much of that money came from Duke rather than HASTAC itself. The main thing, however, was they were organized, had enormous energy and a structure and point to what they were doing, and were amazing networkers. The WMF representatives? Not so much. It was truly disappointing. Anyhow, all is not lost. This thread began with a discussion of the Wikipedia project that you mention, and Cathy has long been interested in working with Wikipedia. (We exchanged notes a long time ago.) It would be great if you guys forged some kind of alliance. And honestly, I'll say again (despite my self-denying ordinance against discussing the WEF), you should get her on the board. (While I'm at it, the other person you should coopt to the board--and I've mentioned this before--is Jim Groom.) --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:05, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
I agree and it was a suggestion I made long ago as well. I, too, know many of the HASTAC folk and was even a HASTAC scholar many eons ago. In fact, I'm already working with them and giving them advice about Wikipedia (see the this from a few weeks ago. Honestly, some of the best Wikipedia course work is not taking place within the realm of the education program. But whether or not that is a problem is really up for debate. Wadewitz (talk) 17:21, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
I'll bring up both of those names to the board. Thanks! Bob Cummings (talk) 10:20, 24 April 2013 (UTC)

Campus Ambassador application: bring to WP:ENB?

Hey, again. :) The current Campus Ambassador application process typically goes through specifically a Regional Ambassador or even me. How do people feel about a similar process as the Online Ambassador application, which directs applicants here to the noticeboard? Regional Ambassadors could still participate in the approval process, but it would create a more open process to on-boarding Campus Ambassadors, as others could participate, too. To make that effective, I think we'd have to agree on a short list of criteria, since I personally think one of the goals is to involve more university faculty members/librarians/teaching & learning staff/etc. in this role, which may mean the applicants don't yet have editing experience. Is this a good direction for on-boarding new CAs? JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 00:27, 23 April 2013 (UTC)

Wasn't the original definition someone who would act as a resource for the other students in the mechanics of editing WP? How this is to be done without editing experience I do not understand. I know we've had a program for instructing them, but the test of competence is editing. I also understand we have often been unable to get sufficient qualified people for this. The only rational justification I can find for appointing people who have not shown their editing ability is to give people a sense of belong to the program, but if this is not matched by some degree of competence it's meaningless, and could just as well be given to anyone who asks for it.. There are two directions to go: figure out a way of actually recruiting, teaching, and qualifying people, or abolishing the role altogether. Hopefully the visual editor which should be in place for the fall term will make the mechanics simpler and decrease the need for the position. Working on the details of how to apply is an example of overly institutionalizing something which is not satisfactory in the first place. DGG ( talk ) 05:10, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
Have you learnt absolutely nothing from the India disaster of 2011 (meta:Talk:India Program/Education Program, WT:India Education Program/Archive 1 et seq.)? All "ambassadors" "mentors" "guides" or whatever you want to call them, whether on campus or online, must be experienced editors and preferably admins. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 07:33, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
JMathewson (WMF) has a first edit after that particular escapade. Maybe we need a Template:Welcome WMF like Template:Welcome student? Stuartyeates (talk) 07:45, 23 April 2013 (UTC) Sorry, that was unconstructive and unhelpful. Stuartyeates (talk) 08:19, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
Aplogies, I should have made it clearer that my use of "you" was meant in the collective sense "Has WMF learnt absolutely nothing...." and not a reference to the individual. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 10:48, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
I agree with DGG. The current requirements already imply that only a minimal knowledge of editing on Wikipedia (or simply a "willingness to acquire this knowledge" through a 90 minute online module) is required. This is quite frankly loopy. I don't see how a CA can adequately answer students' and professors' questions (or anticipate them) and help them avoid pitfalls unless they are experienced editors. And by that I mean regularly editing on Wikipedia over a period of at least two months, having created a couple of articles or substantially expanded several existing ones and having interacted on real article and user talk pages. I can't see how having inexperienced university staff apply for the position here as opposed to the current process is going to fix that problem. If the WMF doesn't see the need for experience then do as DGG suggests and just hand out the title to anyone who asks for it since it would become pretty meaningless. Or try something like GLAM/Connect instead. I note that the outreach volunteers there are all highly experienced editors. Voceditenore (talk) 08:24, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
Another thing that has always puzzled me is the first requirement: "Passion for Wikimedia's values and mission". How is that "passion" assessed if the applicant can't even be bothered to edit Wikipedia in a meaningful way before applying? Voceditenore (talk) 09:39, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
I also agree with DGG. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 08:30, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
I agree that experience in editing Wikipedia is a key qualification. Jami, do we get situations where there are enthusiastic local staff who would like to help but who are not experienced editors? I'm thinking of CUNY, for example, though I don't know if either of the two people we met at the NY event have a significant number of edits. One was one of the CUNY librarians. I think there's a role for librarians in being aware of the training resources, for example, and guiding faculty to contacts who know more than they do, such as a regional or online ambassador or EP coordinator. I would rather have a librarian who also edited, but I'd rather have one who knew where to send people than have no contact on that campus at all. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:32, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
Let's back up a second. The Campus Ambassador role takes a lot of different forms. The same way some Online Ambassadors are more interested in supporting student editors through the technical process and some prefer reviewing article content and providing helpful feedback. I feel very confident that the student orientation could take the major brunt of teaching students about editing Wikipedia. That doesn't mean I don't think it's better if students have someone in-person who understands the ins and outs of editing Wikipedia, but I simply don't think it's going to be the case for a while. You have to have someone who is 1) a Wikipedia editor (that's already a pretty limited number of people), 2) interested in working with students (the number is far lower), and 3) available to work with those students. Instead, with an online training and support from Online Ambassadors, I think the Campus Ambassador role can develop into more of an educator support role for the beginning of the process. It's been said time and time again, even on this noticeboard, that the preparation for the professor and the students is absolutely essential to having a good experience. I think professionals who do this within their career (instructional technologists, for example) are the perfect fit to be a Campus Ambassador/volunteer in our program. Yes, they will need to learn about Wikipedia editing and will hopefully begin editing themselves, which I would love to see us take on as a part of the process.
Meanwhile, real professors are popping up at universities and assigning their students to edit Wikipedia. So, yes, in those situations where they've been interesting in getting involved with the program and have made the good faith effort of finding an appropriate faculty member on campus who wants to become a Campus Ambassador, I very much think our program should welcome them in to learn as much as they can and support those professors and students who are going to edit anyway. That being said, I believe Mike and I agree that we want to establish Wikipedia editors as faculty at universities, too, to provide that support for profs and students alike. I think we're going to be limited if we are only interested in involving Wikipedia editors who already exist. While I don't believe every person is cut out to be/interested in being a Wikipedia editor, I do think there are a lot of people out there who would become one if exposed and "seeing the light" :), if you will. I think librarians and others who are engaged in education in the more traditional sense are a pretty good group of people to start with.
Mike, to answer your question more explicitly: yes; this happens all the time. I also think somebody who is not necessarily comfortable making 'content edits' at first has a good chance of developing that desire if they work on talk pages and user pages for a while (like Ambassadors). Also, Voceditenore, I agree that those pages are seriously outdated and hardly in use, which is why I was proposing to consolidate, amend, and be much more purposeful with the information we give Campus Ambassadors about the role/qualifications. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 20:35, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
Jami, you seem to be saying that although we all agree that experienced Wikipedians are necessary to guide these classes, we can't get enough to help fill the roles. But because profs are keen to start classes (and may start anyway) we should just encourage them to go ahead without any necessary support and hope for the best. This seems to be a bad approach to me. If the universities need to grow their own Wikipedian helpers (ambassadors or whatever you want to call them) then that needs to happen before the classes start. The biggest problems here are classes led by those without a clue or aided/encouraged by those without a clue. Enthusiasm does not make up for cluelessness. It seems some folk are reluctant to use the "discourage" or "delay" words should the necessary preconditions for a successful class be unavailable. Or am I reading this wrong? Colin°Talk 12:27, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
  • Support original proposal to move the campus ambassador application process to Wikipedia rather than only off-wiki. I see this as not a replacement for the old system of having someone experienced (like a regional ambassador) have a voice chat with every campus ambassador before they begin, but the online application process would compliment this, created a better record of applicants, and increase transparency. There are no compelling benefits to offering the process off wiki at this point, although if anyone needs it off wiki then the old process can still be there for them.
@Colin, immediately above you talk about not starting a class without a Wikipedian. While doing this has caused problems, many classes have succeeded without having a CA, and there is no obvious way to meet demand for classroom support. I do think that professors should be discouraged from beginning a class without an in-person campus ambassador, but enthusiastic professors who choose to bypass that discouragement should then be supported. Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:25, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
"should then be supported" Who by? Do you mean practical support or just general good will? -- Colin°Talk 14:38, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
If practical support is available then that. If it is not then general good will. This is the way it works everywhere on Wikipedia when people come to try to do good things. Blue Rasberry (talk) 00:15, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
But surely if no practical support is available then the "good" thing to do would be to advise against running a new class. What I'm seeing is basically: We are all out of driving instructors just now. Wow that's a nice car. Sure, go ahead and drive on the motorway. I'm sure you'll be fine... Colin°Talk 06:56, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
No, I disagree. Most people come to Wikipedia with no practical support and students in a class with an encouraging professor have more support than a typical user coming to Wikipedia independently, and so should be treated as more valuable than a typical user. Everyone is already allowed to drive on the motorway, which is why we let unregistered IPs edit. Blue Rasberry (talk) 10:33, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
Well this comes back to the issue that students are not normal newbies. Normal newbies cut their teeth doing stuff within their comfort zone. Normal 18-year-olds write lists of Simpsons episodes. Unmotivated newbies don't do much at all. Students, by definition, are being stretched beyond their current capabilities. They are being motivated to do something they wouldn't consider. Class assignments are typically much larger editing exercises than what a newbie attempts. And they are typically much harder subjects than newbies tackle. And even if the newbie is asked to just add a few sentences (Joordens) the scale of the class hitting a small collection of articles can overwhelm our resources (editors go on wikibreak). And so on. So no, I think new classes need practical support and enthusiasm does not make up for ability, experience, knowledge, guidance, time. And I disagree strongly that anyone should be treated as "more valuable" than anyone else. As long as folk here continue to view student assignments as "just like newbie editing" then I'm wasting my time being here. Colin°Talk 10:55, 25 April 2013 (UTC)

consolidating Campus and Online roles within the software

This is somewhat of a tangent, but at present there is no technical difference between the campus volunteer and online volunteer user rights, except that they have a few separate but identical slots within the extension features (Special:CampusVolunteers vs Special:OnlineVolunteers, different slots in the Summary section of course pages). Obviously, the origin of this separation is the distinct Campus and Online Ambassador roles, but I've been trying to make the extension as general as possible, rather tied to the specific form and terminology of the US and Canada Education Programs for which it was originally designed.

Some time in the next few months, I'd like to consolidate to a single course volunteer user right, so that the software side of it is more or less completely independent of (but still compatible with) the Wikipedia Ambasssador roles. Are there any good reasons *not* to combine these almost identical user rights and simplify the course page system a bit? (I'll post more widely about this before we start rewriting the extension, but I wanted to give a heads up since we're talking about a related issue already.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:08, 23 April 2013 (UTC)

Makes sense to me. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:15, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
I don't see any reason that we shouldn't, although if we could brainstorm some ways to make the separation more relevant, I would be down for that. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 17:19, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
I already think it could be a great direction to have 'Wikipedia Ambassadors' in general, with people taking on specific roles that they are more interested in. :) And so we can get more CAs involved here in a more open, central discussion. Maybe later we can talk about whether that makes sense to people. Anyway, makes sense, Sage. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 20:41, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
For my courses, the campus ambassadors have been disproportionately students and comparative newbies, whereas the online ambassadors have been far more experienced and knowledgeable, The students are real helpful in that other students are more comfortable contacting them, but for advanced help, it's been great to have the the help of online ambassadors. I could imagine some campus ambassadors being as skilled as many online ambassadors. However, it would seem useful to distinguish among the new ambassadors and the super experienced ones. DStrassmann (talk) 04:50, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
Some kind of general way for course volunteers to broadcast their skillsets, in a way that is easy for newcomers to see from the course page and done in an automatic and standard way, would be a useful feature. I'll put that into the brainstorming for the design upgrades we're about to begin. As you note, though, the campus/online distinction only partially overlaps with experienced vs inexperienced ambassadors.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:18, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
I support Sage's proposal here, just to call people WP Ambassadors. . As JMathewson and Mike say, there are many roles that people connected with a course can play in the program--the original conception does not really exist, if only because we can't get people for the roles. I had always understood that the role of course instructor was different from CampusAmbassador--the campus ambassador was intend to be a role for a student, figuring we would be able to get at least one student to get enough experience about WP before the course actually began to help the others. I don't think we should give up on this, but as we all know, we haven't succeeded yet. (Personally, I think getting some money for students in the equivalent of a TA role, and released time for instructors so they can do their part of the program properly, can be a useful function for the WEF.) Sometimes the instructor will know to do this also, but that isn't very common. But the key function of vetting subjects for articles can only be done by someone with enough experience at WP to know what has potential for a decent article, and whatever we call them, we need people who will do this. (As a librarian myself, I agree that librarians are likely to be able to pick up this sort of thing very quickly--it's similar to advising on term papers, which we do routinely) The other critical function, of making sure material isn't plagiarized, belongs where it always has, with the instructor. DGG ( talk ) 00:16, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
  • Support one name for one user right. I think the name should be "Wikipedia ambassador" rather than "course volunteer" because the so-called "education extension" has potential to be used for non-education programs. Blue Rasberry (talk) 10:30, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
    What you're suggesting would be more than just renaming the user right. Basically, that would mean making the term "Wikipedia ambassador" totally generic (in contrast to the specific use of it to identify Wikipedia Ambassadors up until now), and we'd also want to rename everything else in the interface that referred to courses or education. I'm not against a name that is more generic, although I think "Wikipedia ambassador" is itself not generic enough. I'm also not against, at some point, making the rest of the terminology more generic. But at this point, we've yet to see actual (rather than hypothetical) use cases outside of academic courses; unless/until that becomes pretty significant, I think it makes sense to keep the "course" terminology, which helps orient newcomers in the main use case of actual courses.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:45, 25 April 2013 (UTC)

Online Ambassador application: Hanad Mukhtar


Hanad Mukhtar (talk · contribs)

  1. Why do you want to be a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    In the whole country of Somalia, there are few Ambassadors and these few Ambassadors cannot help the whole Somali people. I want to be part of this and help these people.
  2. In three sentences or less, summarize your involvement with Wikimedia projects.
    I have edited few articles including Homelessness in India, and I have enough experience to be an Ambassador.
  3. Please indicate a few articles to which you have made significant content contributions. (e.g. DYK, GA, FA, major revisions/expansions/copyedits).
    Homelessness in India.
  4. How have you been involved with welcoming and helping new users on Wikipedia?
    Yes, I have helped some students at Abaarso Tech school. These students were new to the Wikipedia, and I have helped them accomplish what they wanted.
  5. What do you see as the most important ways we could welcome newcomers or help new users become active contributors?
    Maybe, you should help them find important articles that they can help improving it because many of the user are students with great writing experience.
  6. Have you had major conflicts with other editors? Blocks or bans? Involvement in arbitration? Feel free to offer context, if necessary.
    No, I have not have any problems with other editors. Everything that i edited is still there.
  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 often do it as my job. I took responsible of editing and providing with necessary information so that other people can benefit from my work.
  8. How would you make sure your students were not violating copyright laws?
    I would tell them to not do so, and the consequences if they do that. I would tell them that they will have severe consequences if they violate any of the copyrights.
  9. If one of your students had an issue with copyright violation how would you resolve it?
    I would warn him/ her, and if they do it again, I would block their account for temporary time.
  10. In your _own_ words describe what copyright violation is.
    copyright violation is taking credit of other people's work, and it is unauthorized.
  11. What else should we know about you that is relevant to being a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    I feel that it is my responsibility to edit the Wikipedia because thousands of people use it every day. I am a great writer and my Wikipedia contributions proof that. I have also experience, and I have been using Wikipedia for about six years with different usernames. I really want to be Wikipedia Ambassador, and you guys are the only people that can help achieve my goals in Wikipedia improvement.


(Two endorsements are needed for online ambassador approval.)

  • Comment This editor has the "right stuff" but needs more experience. Less than a hundred edits, and only four in article space; several incorrectly formatted refs. Most of the responses are sketchy, and the answers relating to copyright are at least partly incorrect. Unless there is an urgent need for an ambassador for a specific purpose, it is best to allow a bit more time here. Looie496 (talk) 16:04, 25 April 2013 (UTC)

Request for Ambassador rights: Clanger12 (talk)


My name is Chris Langer, and I'm an Information Literacy Librarian at Davidson College.

I don't have a whole lot of Wikipedia editing experience outside of what I've done in the Campus Ambassador online training, but the training has been helpful and straightforward.

Professor Greta Munger has used Wikipedia in her Cognition and the Arts course, so it made sense to have somebody on campus who can help out. The hope is other professors on campus will be interested in utilizing Wikipedia for their courses as well. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Clanger12 (talkcontribs) 18:26, 25 April 2013 (UTC)

  • Comment Thanks for applying, but you will need to have at least a little bit of actual editing experience before you are prepared to help other people. You might glance at the section above to see some of the things that are expected from an ambassador. Looie496 (talk) 18:48, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
  • Advice A good way to get some experience might be to add a section on the college's library to the article on the college, which barely mentions it. College libraries of important colleges are generally worth at least a paragraph--more if it happens to be a historically or architecturally notable building. As a second project, you might want to see if you can reorganize the article on the college a little to get the information on the Institution section not not be exclusively on the rankings--a good place to put details about ranking is just before the notable alumni--and it helps to be selective about which to include, and rewriter the admissions profile to be a little less promotional, without the long meaningless quote about how they select students. I'm a librarian myself, the sort of work we do makes it very easy to learn to edit Wikipedia, but it does have to be learned. DGG ( talk ) 21:44, 26 April 2013 (UTC)

Consolidating various pages related to Wikipedia Education Program

Hi, all! Just wanted to let you know that I'm trying to consolidate our resource pages related to the Wikipedia Education Program in the US/Canada, so I'll be redirecting pages to a new set of pages on ENWP. I'll, of course, post links to the page history on the relevant talk pages. The new pages will also direct educators/volunteers/student editors to this noticeboard for help, so we can try to get more program participants engaging with editors and Ambassadors on-wiki. The 'homepage' for the Education Program in the US/CA will be Wikipedia:Education program, though you can see that's currently in a very preliminary draft. I'll post when I think the pages are in a better draft so hopefully others can help make the set of pages more complete/concise. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 22:48, 22 April 2013 (UTC)

Sorry, you're directing student editors to Wikipedia:Education_noticeboard for help? Has there been an RFC I missed about changing the scope and focus of this noticeboard from "This page is for discussion of students editing Wikipedia as part of their assigned coursework, with a focus on participants in the Wikipedia Education Program." to "This page is for helping students editing Wikipedia as part of their assigned coursework, with a focus on participants in the Wikipedia Education Program." ? I'm not seeing it on the talk page. Stuartyeates (talk) 07:10, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
RFC or not, it's not obvious to me that this is the most useful place to direct student editors, though it might be a place where educators and/or ambassadors (nb is "volunteers" replacing this term these days?) could find help and/or ask questions. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 08:27, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
I don't think directing students needing help to this page is a good idea at all. The discussions here are quite "full and frank" (diplomatically speaking) and are meant to deal (at least in part) with problematic editing by student projects and unresponsive/uncooperative professors. Do you really want the hapless students to be confronted with that when they're looking for help? I'd suggest creating Wikipedia:Education noticeboard/Student help and asking the regular participants here to put it on their watch pages. I know I'd watch it. I enjoy helping out students informally without the commitment of being an OA, but there's no central place to find their queries. Voceditenore (talk) 09:59, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure that ghettoisation is a helpful long-term strategy, unless you have a group of people who are going to help out in that ghetto. Far better that we support the excellent work of Wikipedia:Teahouse/Questions, Wikipedia:Help_desk and other support forums. Wikipedia:Teahouse/Questions seems to be especially effective at turning question askers into question answerers (or that could be my bias, I'm involved there intermittently). Stuartyeates (talk) 10:35, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
Actually, directing them to the Teahouse is a very good idea. I've suggested this to students myself when I'll be away from Wikipedia, and they've found it very helpful. Voceditenore (talk) 10:57, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
Yes, the Teahouse is a good idea. And I'd like to put in a shameless plug for suggesting that students read WP:STUDENTS. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:14, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
I've already added that as a link to the student page, too, though I don't anticipate a ton of students ending up on that student page in the first place. Still, if we have a better homepage for the program in general, maybe more students will look around. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 21:34, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Voceditenore that a support system structured specifically for educational projects is the way to go. Take a look at the structure of Wikipedia:WikiProject Articles for creation as an example of a comprehensive support system aimed at a particular type of activity (Helping inexperienced editors to construct articles that don't get wiped out within ten minutes of creation.) AfC's "homepage" structure with clear tabs leading to different sub-pages is easy to understand and use. The advantage of using a "built-for-purpose" structure rather than the "regular" help systems is that the people providing the help are aware that they are dealing with student assignments who have support needs that differ significantly from "regular" editors who use the Help Desk or the "newbies" who use the Teahouse help systems. In fact such a system already exists in the form of Wikipedia:School and university projects, with some restructuring, applying lessons from AfC, it can serve the purpose in the same way that AfC serves its "clients". Concerns about "ghettoisation" are a bit of a strawman - the way educational projects run currently they are in any case building their own ghetto (or WP:Walled garden as such closed editing groups are normally termed). A well structured Academic support system can in fact help to connect class projects with relevant existing "subject area" WikiProjects, something that almost never happens currently. The Teahouse or Help desk simply does not have that capacity and such "systemic" support is not part of their function anyway. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 11:35, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
Currently, the places we systematically point students to for help are the ones noted at Wikipedia:Training/For students/Where to get help. On course pages themselves, the "Getting help" tab in the header points to Help Desk, IRC (#wikipedia-en-help), and this noticeboard. The noticeboard link is there for the instructors and ambassadors rather than the students, and we've seen almost no cases that I can think of where students came here for help (I'm guessing the huge box of instructions at the top scares them off).
Similarly, the pages that Jami is consolidating are not going to be seen by students very often, and the people who do find them will be looking for help about the education program rather than specific help with their assignments. She mentioned students, but that's an edge case for these pages.
I agree in principle that a specific support system for students would be nice to have, but in my experience it's not easy to sustain that kind of thing. (During the Public Policy Initiative I tried to organize such a system several times in various ways, but I would say that none were ultimately successful in terms of sticking around and developing into a long-term useful system.) I don't think AfC is a great model for student help; most newcomers don't get the kind of help they are looking for from it, especially because of the perpetual backlog (785 pending submissions right now) and the lack of quick feedback. The Help Desk is much more efficient at generating specific feedback when people ask for it, and I think at present that's the best first place to direct students for personalized help.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:52, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
You've completely misunderstood my point about the example of AFC - I was pointing out its structure (as in the physical layout of the project pages) not the way it operates". Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 11:16, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
Ah. Thanks for clarifying.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:48, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
I wonder if there's more critical mass now than during the PPI? I can see both sides of the issue regarding whether or not to have a dedicated student help desk. But I know I would certainly watchlist it. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:14, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
I think the potential is there. Certainly, there's critical mass at this noticeboard, which has been a big improvement over what came before, but that doesn't necessarily translate into a new dedicated student help desk reaching critical mass as well. (One of the major mistakes of the PPI, in my opinion, was the proliferation of places for discussion. During the PPI, I think there could have been critical mass for on-wiki student help as well as general education discussion a la this noticeboard... if we had already learned the lessons of the mistakes we were making then.)
One thing we could do is to build a form into the course pages for asking a question (which would get posted to a student help desk). I don't have the spare bandwidth to set up and bring helpers to a student help desk, but if someone takes the reins on that I can help integrate it into the course pages and trainings.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:45, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
As Sage mentioned, the pages are mostly for directing Ambassadors and professors. (Jon, I said 'volunteer' on the home page because someone who wasn't already familiar with the program who was looking for more information might not understand that 'ambassador' was the place for them to look. Of course I'm not attached to it, so we can always put Ambassador.) Honestly, the reason I was thinking we may want to send students here is two-fold: 1) In my experience, students aren't asking a lot of questions. Remember when you would be in class (or maybe you still are!) and people would sigh whenever the same student raised their hand twice at the end of class? Unfortunately, it just seems like the culture. I'm not saying that's the preferred thing or the right thing, but I do think it's what's happening. So I don't think a critical mass would go to a student help desk, and I think that would frustrate the people watching it who are trying to be helpful (this is another reason I think it'd be great if we developed a list of proposed tasks for OAs and CAs, so interested volunteers who haven't been involved before have more direction for ways to proactively help students). 2) We could work to get professors and Campus Ambassadors and everyone in the program involved here (or in another space that is more positive/encouraging, if that's what you meant, Voceditenore). It seems like that level of participation among profs/Ambassadors would be positive. I think it would make professors feel more engaged with Wikipedia and editors, which would probably make them more interested in that level of oversight most people here want from the professors who are assigning their students to edit Wikipedia. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 21:18, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
I don't know about anybody else, but I'm not convinced. I agree with Stuartyeates; we should not be directing students to this noticeboard for editing help. Within which scope-describing bullet point under "Purpose of this page" is that covered? --Geniac (talk) 01:43, 25 April 2013 (UTC)
@Jami, just to clarify, if you want to direct Ambassadors and instructors with queries/problems here, that's fine. This page's scope is the Education equivalent of the combined functions served by the Administrators' Notice Board and Administrators' Notice Board/Incidents. However, I think it's very inappropriate to direct students needing help with their editing to this page for the reasons I outlined: It is well beyond the scope of this page and an intimidating environment for students. Whether you set up a special student help subpage or simply direct them to the Teahouse is a question for discussion. I can see valid arguments for either solution. Voceditenore (talk) 06:54, 28 April 2013 (UTC)

A request for help

I'm wondering if I could ask for some help re: course pages? I ran a course during Q1 2013 at Queen Mary, University of London called Research Methods (Film), which will be running again in the Autumn semester, but because the course has now been designated as inactive (it's not - it's just not running till next academic year!), I can't access any of the materials I set up there, or the course page. Could anyone help reinstate the course page, course list, and enrolled students please? Many thanks in advance, DrJennyCee (talk) 11:50, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

Your course page is still up at Education Program:Queen Mary, University of London/Research Methods (Film) (Spring 2013), it just won't be listed in the default "current & planned" view at Special:Courses and other pages. If you are doing the same course with a new class of students, I recommend that you create a new course page (with the same title, but you'll put in a different term so it will have a new url).--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:23, 29 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks so much! This is very helpful - I'll do that when the time comes. Do you think there will be a way in the future of rolling over course pages so that they become regular annual pages (i.e. so that a new page doesn't have to be set up each time?) Or would it not make sense to do that from the Wikipedia Education Program's perspective? Thanks and best wishes, DrJennyCee (talk) 13:29, 29 April 2013 (UTC)
It definitely makes sense to build support for that, using the same course page but with a new set of students. It won't be at the top of the development priorities, but I'll try to fit it into the roadmap.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:34, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

Evolutionary psychology / Psyc452

There has been an influx of Evolutionary psychology articles from usernames starting with Psyc452. There's a thread at WikiProject Linguistics. One is already at AfD. Stuartyeates (talk) 07:12, 15 April 2013 (UTC)

After a quick look to [[25]] and their contributions, it seems most articles are overly specific topics with "evolutionary psychology" in its title and huge "essay-like" tone. 20 more useless articles that are going to be abandoned and nobody is going to read as soon as the students leave. There seems to be a teacher User:PsycProf51.

--Garrondo (talk) 10:12, 15 April 2013 (UTC)

Thanks. I've plastered eductaion welcome templates around liberally and invited the Prof here. Stuartyeates (talk) 10:31, 15 April 2013 (UTC)

Some new articles vs existing material

There seems, once again, to be an emphasis on writing essays on subjects close to existing articles, rather than improving the existing articles. And once again, the students write about the Big Five personality traits as if Wikipedia has no article on the topic. The teacher account has no edits. Colin°Talk 12:51, 15 April 2013 (UTC)

I personally prefer it this way. Most student articles are going to be weak, I'm afraid, but there is not much harm in having weak articles if hardly anybody reads them. The students learn something, and all we suffer is some clutter that we can easily ignore. I'm much more disturbed when students who don't know what they're doing try to make changes to articles on important topics. Looie496 (talk) 15:27, 15 April 2013 (UTC)
No this is terrible too. It is very hard to delete stuff on Wikipedia. So the reader will end up with five billion essays on the Big Five and various evolutionary psychology articles on topics that Wikipedian's have already created. Endless deletion and merger discussions. Endless crap to wade through if anyone actually decides to write a proper article. Filling wikipedia with crap essays isn't a solution to anything. Which is why I'm opposed to the general emphasis on writing new articles and adding new content -- we've got enough crap content as it is. Students should be improving and expanding existing articles to the point where new articles become necessary rather than new articles being the starting point. Colin°Talk 15:57, 15 April 2013 (UTC)
Looie: that is like saying that we would rather be without them, but since we cannot ban them lets put them to a corner... If educational assigments are going to be of some use what we should change is how are they performed: there should be some way of having less quantity in dark corners of the wiki and more quality in the open. Regarding this case: it is the perfect example of crappy crap and maybe we should send them all for deletion, or edit them to leave only those 2 or 3 lines of each article that are worth it... If not this time that moment should come some day. --Garrondo (talk) 16:41, 15 April 2013 (UTC)
As a purely pragmatic approach to these pages, I suggest waiting until the editing quiets down, and then WP:PRODing them. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:40, 15 April 2013 (UTC)
I do not believe that waiting serves any purpose except to send a message to the Prof and their class that this use of WP is acceptable. WP:PRODing should be done sooner rather than later. Stuartyeates (talk) 23:57, 15 April 2013 (UTC)
I actually agree with you. My intention was only to avoid having a challenged PROD, which would make AfD necessary. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:00, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
I believe an immediate PROD helps give the students (Me!) a better sense of what to improve on in order to meet Wikipedia guidelines. If you wish to condemn all this, in your words, 'crappy crap' and strike the articles down once the editing is finished, our semester ends in May.Psyc452-GGeorge (talk) 23:32, 16 April 2013 (UTC)

On deletion. What happens is lots of students write essays on the Big Five. Or on evolutionary psychology as viewed from certain angles. All independent of each other. Someone nominates one for deletion. The class and the education folks get over-defensive. One of them writes a academic paper mentioning the issue in a completely biased manner. Wikipedians get viewed once again, as villagers with pitchforks rather than folk who want to create an encyclopaedia with articles people enjoy reading, rather than a dumping ground for D-grade student essays:

In an essay describing his Wikipedia editing experience, one PhD student complained about an experienced editor who deleted a large proportion of his team’s editing with the comments, “Please fully source the article at the VERY least,” even though the team had added 20 citations to an existing article, and “Blech. This really needs WP:TNT,” which is Wikipedia’s jargon for “Blow it up and start over.” An article on “Dimensional models of personality disorders,” which a PhD student in another class had substantially improved, was proposed for deletion by an experienced Wikipedia editor. Her rationale was that the article did not meet Wikipedia’s standards for general notability, even though, according to the course instructor, “dimensional models of disorders may be the hottest topic in abnormal psychology for the past ten years.” The nomination for deletion led to a vigorous debate, consisting of rational argument, references to policy, presentation of evidence as well as vicious name-calling. In both of these cases, students who were the targets of these attacks were understandably upset. As one student remarked, “To have as much work as we did deleted, and then to hear the suggestion that the rest of it be removed as well, from someone who does not appear to be an expert in the field, is disheartening, aggravating, de-motivating and representative of all of these things as we have discussed them [in class] as being detrimental to newcomers on a site over the course of the class.”

We're just going to see this again. All sorts of "articles" with subjects already covered by Wikipedia are going to be created and will cause grief as they get deleted. And don't forget the waste of time these articles are to all the wiki-gnomes who go round fixing citations and adding wikilinks. The solution is better education of instructors so their assignments don't end up being misguided. Where is the Wiki page where this class assignment is laid out? Where is the proposed work discussed with anyone who actually edits Wikipedia? Where is the sense of Wikipedian-responsibility for the assignee's work? Or is this just another case where well-meaning but utterly clueless people turn up and dump on us? Colin°Talk 07:31, 16 April 2013 (UTC)

I've already PROD'd all of the articles I'm aware of in this batch, which will save the wiki-gnomes some work. As for whether there's a class page, I don't see one on-wiki. Stuartyeates (talk) 08:14, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the PROD-ing. Colin, we really shouldn't feel badly just because someone writes an essay critical of Wikipedia. Heck, there are websites dedicated to criticism of Wikipedia. And the best way to minimize those perceptions about pitchforks and all that, is to be civil and polite to those editors. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:20, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
I thank you for the civilness you've displayed towards us. We (the students) were fully informed that our articles would be edited mercilessly and/or deleted. I can't speak on behalf of my peers or instructor, but I don't believe that I (or any of them) are the pitchfork raising types. The articles we've submitted are not intended to be D- essays, however realize that most or all of us are inexperienced at writing articles in encyclopedia style. The onus was on us to meet Wikipedia Guidelines. The burden is on us to prove that these articles are valid expansions of the topics and not merely content forks. By posting PRODS or other warnings (instead of a speedy deletion), you help to educate us. In the end, even if these articles only end up having a few lines that are included in the main Evolutionary Psychology article, that's a success, right? Personally, I'm trying my best to be courteous and save the wiki-gnomes some time by adding wiki links myself. I did this because someone helpfully left a cleanup tag that told me that wikilinks needed to be added. Lastly, I'll let my instructor know about Colin's valid questions.Psyc452-GGeorge (talk) 23:32, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
In the end, even if these articles only end up having a few lines that are included in the main Evolutionary Psychology article, that's a success, right? That depends on how many hours we have to spend cleaning up mess and how many of your classmates end up as long-term editors. See opportunity cost. Stuartyeates (talk) 03:11, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
The main Evolutionary psychology article is already past the WP:TOOBIG limit so it doesn't need more lines. It is already split into sub-articles. The topic needs rationalisation and in-article improvement, not just the accumulation of more material. Psyc452-GGeorge, we know most of you don't intend to write D-grade essays, though stats will show a few do and hey! they're on Wikipedia not in some prof's drawer with red pen all over them. And history shows that it is volunteer Wikipedians who end up having to clean up the D-grade work, not those running the assignment. Is that fair? And even an A-grade essay isn't what we want. We want better articles. The assumption that class assignments should unthinkingly create new articles is harmful. Colin°Talk 07:34, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
Let's try not to be too down on Psyc452-GGeorge in particular for the broader actions of their prof and classmates; the fact that Psyc452-GGeorge has engaged with us here is a huge start towards winning them as a long-term editor. Stuartyeates (talk) 08:09, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
Indeed you are right. The problem is that WP:BITE makes our response to classroom assignments impotent as, like here, the students are the visible face of the assignment and bear the fallout when it goes pear shaped. Which is why we need a policy (Wikipedia:Assignments) and specific guidance (Wikipedia:Assignments for student editors). I see from the external website mentioned below that these students are being asked to create articles and then perhaps incorporate material into some parent article. This is backwards and only ends up creating lots of tangential articles that repeat existing material. I fear this is being done to simplify marking rather than because it helps Wikipedia. Colin°Talk 10:59, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
I consider it to be very nice and very welcome that Psyc452-GGeorge has taken the time to discuss the issues with us here. I appreciate it very much! I'll also make an observation, that he is being very honest with us in saying "...our semester ends in May". From a student's point of view, that's just as valid as is, from an ongoing editor's point of view, a concern about dealing with what remains here in June and beyond. This isn't about who is a good person and who is a bad person. It's about how we at Wikipedia should best deal with how to advance the project of encyclopedia creation. We shouldn't try to change the way students prioritize things. Indeed, we cannot. But we need ways of dealing with realities. Students who edit because their professor requires them to edit are fundamentally different from most other editors, in that someone has told them to edit, instead of them deciding on their own to volunteer. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:15, 17 April 2013 (UTC)
As Tryptofish suggests, it is rare for students to attain the motivation to be bold and edit/improve the main EP article. Colin, I recognize the editor goals of better articles, new-editor retention, and a desire to not have to clean up a giant mess. I can see why unthinkingly creating new articles is harmful and can create tangential articles with repetitious material. That being said, I believe that we can work something out that satisfies our student goals and yours as well. We aren't a massive editing force of chaos or the University of Toronto. Think of us more as a short-term SPA interested in EP. We originally had the goal of posting unbiased EP sub-articles based on published research (not original research) but ran into issues like content forks/duplicating old material, notability, and deletion for those issues. Honestly, most of my peers dedicate more effort into the course material of Evolutionary Psyc than to learning the policy and culture of wikipedia and that's understandable. If that leads to unsatisfactory articles, well, that's unfortunate. Lend us your knowledge. Please drop a quick post on the talk page concerning why the article is unsatisfactory. If you've done that, and the students haven't responded/improved the article sufficiently, you've done all you can do. If not a single article survives, then it will be a learning experience.Psyc452-GGeorge (talk) 11:33, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
Very well said, thanks! --Tryptofish (talk) 21:16, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
I agree: well said. This is also a salutary reminder of one of the tensions at the heart of just about every educational assignment: instructors don't want their courses to become about Wikipedia; they want them to be about Evolutionary Psyc, Latin American literature, Labor History, or whatever. Whenever I've taught using Wikipedia, there's always been a bit of a struggle to ensure that the Wikipedia assignment didn't just take over. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 23:34, 23 April 2013 (UTC)

From their very special usernames, it is straightforward to determine that the students working on this project have a real life connection with Memills (talk · contribs · deleted contribs · logs · edit filter log · block user · block log). If this is a coordinated educational project, a subpage should have been created somewhere on wikipedia to record and monitor editing in an open and transparent way. That page should also have included any specific instructions and guidance regarding this topic. What is happening at the moment is that new users have been advised to create fork articles for the article evolutionary psychology and link them to the relevant sections of that article. Using wikipedia as a learning or teaching facility in university courses is of course fine, provided it is done in an open and transparent way. So far that has not happened here. Memills' own editing of this specialized a topic, a topic not free from controversy, has not been without its problems. Mathsci (talk) 14:52, 27 April 2013 (UTC)

I don't object to any of your comments, Mathsci. The problem with fork articles has already been discussed above. At this point in time, I suggest deleting most of these articles, as you'll shortly find the students have little motivation to continue improving them. I say 'most' of these articles because I am biased towards the one that I worked on and want it userfied so I can continue to improve it or more likely use it to improve an existing article as was suggested. Of course, this sort of discussion can go on individually on each articles' deletion talk page, but I'd like to highlight one article while I have your attention. This article, Evolutionary_psychology_of_language is a decently written expansion of what exists on the main Evolutionary Psychology page under the language subheading. Rather than criticize it for being a content fork (which I personally believe is unfounded), why not use this opportunity to remove some specific details from the main EP page? Why does the language sub-section on the main EP page have 3 of its own subsections? The specific details are already in Evolutionary_psychology_of_language, the only winner (in my eyes) of this project. That article gets my endorsement to keep (or at least incubate).Psyc452-GGeorge (talk) 20:04, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

Copyright problem at Evolutionary psychology of Personality

Text from : (Evolutionary theories of personality) is too close to the writting of our article. Some sentences obtained after copying a paragraph into google and the paragraph of our article:

Our article: potential proximate mechanisms governing personality structure, aspects of developmental environment should be expected to affect, the degree that individuals should be affected by different environments, and why personality traits are responsive to environmental modulation.

The source: personality differences develop and explain the proximate ('how it works') ... mechanisms governing personality structure; (c) what aspects of an individual's developmental environment should be expected to affect that individual; (d) how and to what degree individuals should be affected by different environments; and ...

Taking a look at other sources I have not found other problems(which of course does not mean they are not there), so it may indicate an unintentional mistake while paraphrasing the source.

--Garrondo (talk) 13:45, 17 April 2013 (UTC)

Evolutionary psychology of Personality

The discussion at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Evolutionary psychology of Personality reached a consensus to userfy. Accordingly I have moved the content to User:Psyc452-BFrancisco/Evolutionary psychology of Personality. Thryduulf (talk) 16:17, 23 April 2013 (UTC)


See here. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:16, 27 April 2013 (UTC)

Where to point a new instructor?

Where should the instructor of a new class project be directed to? If, for instance, a speedy deletion is contested with "Don't delete this, it is for our class project", I would normally give the usual newbie advice and add "Please ask your instructor to look at WP:School and university projects". Now there is outreach:Wikipedia Education Program but from the note at the top of WP:SUP it seems that only covers some parts of the world, and there is also Wikipedia:Training/For educators. I'm confused. JohnCD (talk) 09:54, 24 April 2013 (UTC)

There is not an obvious place. The pages are not sorted. Wikipedia:Training/For educators is what I have been using. Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:16, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
Indeed. Jami is currently working on making this a little less confusing. The outreach page (at least as regards English Wikipedia) will be pointed soon to the central portal Jami is working on. That page will be about education projects on Wikipedia at a high level: the existing resources, extension-based course pages, the ambassador program, the trainings, etc. She and I are also going to work on updating WP:SUP to highlight the training and this noticeboard. But for classes that are already underway or definitely happening, I think Bluerasberry is right that Wikipedia:Training/For educators is the best place to point them (which, if they go through it and want to use the extension to have a course page, will lead them to posting here to request the course instructor user right). We also have {{welcome teacher}}.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:28, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
I would like every new instructor to be told about WP:INSTRUCTORS. --Tryptofish (talk) 14:56, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
Feel free to work that into {{welcome teacher}}, if you see an elegant way to do so. I think we should keep the number of links to an absolute minimum, but adding that won't be too overwhelming.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:52, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
 Done, for both the teacher and student templates, thanks! --Tryptofish (talk) 16:17, 24 April 2013 (UTC)
Sorry; I was out of town for a few days with no internet. I'm going to pick this back up today and this week, so hopefully we can have one central resource for education and Wikipedia in the US/CA, and then people can have a better idea of where to go. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 16:49, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

A post at the Help desk

Someone who knows the ropes around here should contact the OP of this post at the Help desk - WP:Help desk#New articles and submission for entries. It looks like they are using AfC, which as we've discussed before, is totally unsuited to the requirements of a class project. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 11:16, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

that's been answered now by someone else. The article is Cockayne Farm Preservation Project, without reference to the existing article on Bennett Cockayne House. I consider the new article it a example of good original research, as it is based almost entirely on primary sources. I;m not at all sure the project is separately notable , and I'm going to propose a merge of some of the content. We have here yet another example of where advice should have been given the participant before doing the extensive work on an article. I feel especially concerned by this when the work is good careful work as it is here--probably suitable for publication--elsewhere.
There are a number of similar example at the help desk. Most of them are getting appropriate responses.This is the general help desk. There is also an AfC help desk; although AfC is not the best way to go for class articles, at least the AfC help desk is excellently handled and gives appropriate advice. DGG ( talk ) 21:16, 30 April 2013 (UTC)

another approach, suggested by a non-Wikipedian who would not want their name used here

This is not related to classes, though it may develop into that. It is most closely related to the project to use abstracts of PLOS review articles. I add it here as the place where it's likely to get notice from those who might have some comments. The suggestion is that we try to spot, in any field of our own academic interest, interesting papers of a non-specialized nature. If the author is someone with whom we have some degree of acquaintance, and the paper has sufficient general review content (rather than being entirely what we would call Original Research), we could then ask if they would like to prepare a short rewritten summary for Wikipedia, either in an existing article or as a new article. It would be ideal if the person had kept the copyright, but if not, they can still use their ideas to write a more generally oriented summary along the same lines, giving attribution to the publication that inspired it. There is of course a difficulty in submitting work that cites oneself, but not if it goes through AfC or someone else adds it to WP. DGG ( talk ) 05:40, 2 May 2013 (UTC)

Suggestions for students

I have just edited a couple of articles in which students have made *major improvements*. Really nice! In most cases they started out with articles that were either in a rather bad state, or stub-like. It seems to me that these kind of articles can gain most from student edits - much more than good or featured articles in which every major edit needs to be discussed on the talk page. While going through my watchlist, every now and again I come across an article that is in bad shape, but I don't have the time/energy/resources/knowledge to do something about it. I wonder if it would be a good idea to create a list on subject project pages (for instance, in my case Wikipedia:WikiProject Psychology) with suggestions for students. What do you think? Lova Falk talk 14:32, 2 May 2013 (UTC)

In principle an implicit list already exists -- articles that are assessed by the WikiProject as Start or Stub class. Those ratings aren't all that reliable, but they might form a starting point. Looie496 (talk) 15:12, 2 May 2013 (UTC)

"Article is primary"

I stumbled upon this sandbox talk page, in which a new student editor's contributions are being peer-reviewed. One of the criteria seems to be: "Article is empirical, primary & peer-reviewed". I fear a new invasion of student editors who all add text based on primary sources. Anybody who knows more about this class and the responsible teacher? Lova Falk talk 08:28, 22 April 2013 (UTC)

From on-wiki only behaviour, I'm guessing that it's User:Dr_Ashton, but I've been wrong before. Stuartyeates (talk) 09:21, 22 April 2013 (UTC)
If the terms are mean in the usual sense there is indeed a problem of misunderstanding by the instructor. However, looking at the article, the reviewer is using primary to mean " the first to choose topic " and peer-reviewed to mean "has correct citation to verify information." Trying to start a new article on the topic "Gender and Workplace Stress" is a little on the ambitious side for an introductory class, and, as would be expected, the actual quality of the article in the sandbox is thoroughly unsatisfactory. Often, student reviewing of each others articles is much better than this, so I wouldn't want to judge an entire class by what might be the worst example. DGG ( talk ) 05:33, 23 April 2013 (UTC)
It's me. Thank you for your help. I've made clear to the class that I've emphasizing primary research articles because primary, peer-reviewed and empirical are the key characteristics of a research article. My students have a very difficult time distinguishing between a good research article and non-research articles, so I've broken it down to basics for them. They are using these research articles as secondary sources. My students are not advanced enough interpret the results of the research studies themselves, but to use the literature reviews in the introductions (which is secondary). And yes, I have actively discouraged my students from creating new articles. My explicit directions have been to be cautious, understand what the article is about and work with editors. Dr Ashton (talk) 03:04, 3 May 2013 (UTC)

Introducing our course: Writing Wikipedia Articles

Hi all, I'd like to point out a new course I've just added. It's an online-only course run through Peer to Peer University's new School of Open. We ran it once without using the Wikipedia Course Pages, concluding last week; but this time (at Sage's urging) we are migrating to use the course pages, and transitioning our School of Open pages to serve as a simple portal for signup (rather than a LMS-like resource to which students will return throughout the class). The pages, which are all still somewhat under construction, are here:

I welcome any input, ideas, etc. In addition, if anybody would like to help out in an Ambassador-like capacity, that would be great; please let me know!

For those who don't know me: I did a good deal of the planning around what has become the Wikipedia Education Program, so I'm familiar with the general structure here; but as for using the Course Pages to support a class, I am brand new. I should mention, too -- being an admin, I assigned the relevant permissions to myself and to my co-instructor, Snarfa (talk · contribs) -- apologies if I should have done that in a more formal/transparent way.

Though it wasn't my original intent, I'm really happy to realize that using the Course Pages may offer good opportunities to engage more fully with other instructors working on Wikipedia assignments! Please feel free to send questions, ideas, feedback, etc. my way. -Pete (talk) 22:49, 2 May 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Njbetz (talk)


Nicole Betz


Interdisciplinary Affective Science Lab Northeastern University

Course title and description

Interdisciplinary Affective Science Lab Undergraduate Wikipedia Project As a part of the Association for Psychological Science Wikipedia Initiative, participating undergraduate research assistants will each edit one Wikipedia article (or section of an article) per semester within the field of affective science.

Assignment plan

Our students will become familiarized with Wikipedia, how to create and edit articles (and when it is appropriate to do so), and contribute to the educational outreach of our field. We hope to expand upon Wikipedia's affective science articles.

Number of students

Approximately 10-15 students per semester.

Start and end dates

Summer 1 (2013) semester runs from May 10 through June 31 Summer 2 (2013) semester runs from July 1 through August 31 Fall (2013) semester runs from September 5 through December 20 Spring (2014) semester runs from January 5 through May 6 --Njbetz (talk) 19:27, 23 April 2013 (UTC)

Endorse--looks good; instructor has already run previous USEP courses (see Wikipedia:USEP/Courses/Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory Fall 2012). —Theopolisme (talk) 11:09, 26 April 2013 (UTC)
 Done. Salvio Let's talk about it! 11:16, 26 April 2013 (UTC)

Question. Has anyone checked this course's previous output for quality, such as WP:MEDRS compliance, etc.? Biosthmors (talk) 12:40, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

Has anyone talked to this prof/class yet?

I happened upon this in Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Wikipedia Edit- Article based. The course page is Wikipedia:School and university projects/York College CUNY Industrial/Organizational Psychology, the professor is User:Dr Ashton, and the students/editors seem to have no idea how Wikipedia works. Ansh666 18:14, 2 May 2013 (UTC)

I just deleted two articles that came from this project: the one mentioned above, and another by the same user. Frankly, the professor's guidance seems OK. But the students seem not to have taken it. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 19:16, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
I wonder if they'll be getting good grades (or even partial credit) for creating such gibberish! ;-) Biosthmors (talk) 20:10, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
I have to say that the course page and approach is really interesting, with what seems a deep understanding of wikipedia by the teacher, that he is trying to transmit to the students.. Most probablye edits will soon improve. --Garrondo (talk) 20:38, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
Perhaps this is where the help of a good campus or online ambassador would be useful. The prof is fairly active on-wiki, but I fear he's feeling a little overwhelmed. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 21:19, 2 May 2013 (UTC)
My apologies, folks. It seems to be a groups of students who are working together and giving each other bad advice. I've contacted the students and will do an email on Blackboard to the entire class. What seems to be a problem (or one problem) is that some students think they are creating a sandbox but are creating a new article. And I've really discouraged students from creating new articles - I really want them to make small edits. And thanks to the editors who helped out and contacted me. - Bill Dr Ashton (talk) 02:34, 3 May 2013 (UTC)
I just want to say "thanks!" to you for being responsive and cooperative. I well know how frustrating it can sometimes be, when students don't follow instructions. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:29, 3 May 2013 (UTC)
I just wanted to echo a thanks to you too. Biosthmors (talk) 12:37, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

Which classes make edits or replies to talk page/peer review comments part of their assignment this semester?

For these classes I'd also like to know what % of the grade is tied to either giving or responding to peer reviews. What classes are doing this right now? I'm helping with one, and now I realize I should have posted here sooner about it to solicit peer reviews. It's a bit late in the game, but comments on the following peer reviews (for Education Program:Saint Louis University/Signal Transduction (SP13)) might be taken into account if done in the next day or so. For the curious:

In hindsight, maybe I should have kept things simple by keeping things on article talk pages, where the students have been commenting on their peer's work. A related thread to the peer review component is at Wikipedia_talk:Assignments_for_student_editors#Student_peer_review. For example, if four people are publishing a paper in a journal, they likely did not all do the same exact thing. Similarly, we could have models where students do different things. Biosthmors (talk) 12:34, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

Feedback on Special:OnlineVolunteers page

Among the principals of wiki is understandability and editability. Could we please get the following text added to the top of Special:OnlineVolunteers?

Online volunteers are wiki users to assist editors enrolled in courses which involve editing wikipedia. For more information see Education Program. If you wish to become an online volunteer see Online Ambassador. If you are an online volunteer and wish to create or edit your entry see Special:OnlineVolunteerProfile

Stuartyeates (talk) 23:21, 2 May 2013 (UTC)

Having an editable message at the top of that page is a good idea. I'll file a bug.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:21, 7 May 2013 (UTC)

Sexual cannibalism and Sexual coercion articles

I don't know which classes have been assigned to these articles, but it's clear to me that students have been assigned to edit/create them.

The Sexual cannibalism article was expanded by newly registered editor Elleinad1122 (talk · contribs), who first expanded the article in his or her sandbox; student editors starting in their sandboxes first is seen as much as them not using a sandbox, but sandbox use and then major expansion of an article is what I have usually seen of student editors this year. Elleinad1122 was also joined by a different newly registered editor, Agasso26 (talk · contribs), who also started editing the article in his or her sandbox before moving on to editing the actual article.

The Sexual coercion article was created by Marina ily92 (talk · contribs) at 01:30, 8 May 2013‎ (Wikipedia time); the editor made a test edit in his or her sandbox before creating the article.

Both articles need some cleanup (such as heading and/or WP:REFPUNCT cleanup). Flyer22 (talk) 15:48, 8 May 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Axilla 05 (talk)


Ben Bridges


TW Kelly Dirigo Middle School

Course title and description

7th Grade Middle School class. This is a 1-1 school system (one computer device to one student). They are familiar with wikipedia for obtaining information, I would like them to know the basics and etiquette around being contributors as well.

Assignment plan

They will be "experts" of their area. We have noticed some omissions and errors involving local towns and attractions. We will be editing or adding content to towns and attractions in Oxford County, Maine.

Number of students

67 Total students divided into 5 classes of about 13 students each.

Start and end dates

Started last week (collecting and verifying information) and will commence June 10th. --Axilla 05 (talk) 10:15, 9 May 2013 (UTC)

Hi Ben, I'm glad you're interested in adding Wikipedia to your curriculum. However, since we've had some problems in the past with very young editors, could you clarify how much supervision you will have over students whilst they're editing? Theopolisme (talk) 10:58, 9 May 2013 (UTC)

Education Program article log oddness

A diff reads in my watchlist as: (Education Program article log); 02:13 . . Rweintraub622 (talk | contribs) removed themself as reviewer to article Glutathione S-transferase worked upon by Jnims as part of course Education Program:Saint Louis University/Signal Transduction (SP13). Except I was the one that removed Rweintraub622 (talk · contribs). (They weren't in the class.) And when I click on the link for Education Program article log, which is Special:Log/eparticle, I don't see anything. Biosthmors (talk) 02:39, 9 May 2013 (UTC)

Yes, there are some major problems with the log entries for the extension (see the bug). It's near the top of the priority list for fixing it.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:30, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. I thought it might be already tracked, but I figured I'd post my experience just in case. Biosthmors (talk) 18:13, 9 May 2013 (UTC)

Special:MyCourses Did You Know content

We now have a new little feature working on the Special:MyCourses page: on the right of the page, you'll see "Did You Know" blurbs that get taken randomly from pages in Category:MyCourses Did You Know. (This is something that Jeroen De Dauw created before the extension launched, and he just folded it into the education program extension recently.) I made a pair of example pages, but feel free to make additional snippets of wisdom / advice / interesting things that may help students and/or professors and/or course volunteers. I suggest following the convention I started with: subpages like Wikipedia:Course pages/DYK/Foo, but any page in the "MyCourses Did You Know" category will become part of the rotation.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 23:32, 9 May 2013 (UTC)

making new training modules (psychology, etc)

I've been trying to clean up and document how the trainings are put together, and in the process I've streamlined the steps for building new training modules. See Wikipedia:Training#How_to_create_a_new_training. If anyone is interested in trying it out, for example by putting together a module about the specific info we want students and professors in psychology classes to be aware (beyond what's in the other trainings), please give it a try, and I'll help however I can. (My WMF team wants to make it as easy as possible for other language Wikipedias to create or adapt education program training modules from this, so anything I can do to further make it easier is useful feedback.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:56, 8 May 2013 (UTC)

I'm not sure if this is effective though. The 1900-student mega psychology class has their own in-house module that comes with article selection, links to different policies & guidelines, and a multiple-choice quiz that students have to score 100% on it before they can start editing for marks. Even with these measures and the module in place, the assignment is still a flop. OhanaUnitedTalk page 03:18, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
Certainly it won't be 100% effective. But it would be useful for the APS classes that want to try to do things the right way and respect community norms. The general student training has been pretty useful so far.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:32, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
There is still more "copy and pasting" that needs to be cleaned up after this mega classes editing a few months ago [26]. Has any decisions be made regarding what should be done about this? One thing I think that needs to be in place before we put any more effort into attracting large classes of students managed by profs that are non Wikipedians is get this software up and running Wikipedia:Turnitin such that each new edit is check immediately after it is added. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 23:16, 14 May 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Kirwanfan (talk)


John Stewart


University of Oklahoma

Course title and description

History of Science to Newton. This course focuses on Aristotelian natural philosophy from the Greeks, through the Islamic Golden Age, and up to Copernicus and Newton. We will be working on the History of Science WikiProject and using it as a guide for articles that need attention. The students are advanced undergraduates. I intend to modify the 12 week sample syllabus for my shorter summer course. The wikipedia project counts for 20% of the students grade, with credit assigned to each of the steps in the syllabus.

Assignment plan

My students will become familiarized with Wikipedia, how to create and edit articles (and when it is appropriate to do so), and contribute to the educational outreach of the history of science. We hope to expand upon Wikipedia's articles on ancient and medieval science and natural philosophy.

Number of students


Start and end dates

May 13 - June 7, 2013

--Kirwanfan (talk) 21:59, 13 May 2013 (UTC)

Comment Do you plan to have them create new articles or add to existing ones? Do you plan to work on biographies or on general topics & concepts? (my advice is that biographies are much more straight-forward, and usually much more suitable for a class or anyone else starting out at WP--and any person with a entry in the standard reference works is suitable.) DGG ( talk ) 02:54, 14 May 2013 (UTC)
Comment I had planned to have them edit existing articles. I agree that biographies seem like the most straight-forward place to start, though I hope that they would also be able to contribute to articles on specific theories in alchemy, medicine, and astronomy. Kirwanfan (talk) 14:41, 14 May 2013 (UTC)
Sounds like a reasonable plan.  Done. I'm happy to serve as Online Ambassador for this... excited to see a history of science class editing!--ragesoss (talk) 16:28, 19 May 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

WEF US and Canada update

Hello all. Here's a rundown of what's been going on with the WEF (US and Canada) recently.

  • The proposal to the Grant Approval Committee (GAC), put forward by interim board member Pjthepiano has received some feedback from members of the committee, as well as community members. Currently, the focus of the discussion is on staffing costs. The discussion is here: Grants talk:User:Pjthepiano - Wiki Education Foundation/US and Canada Wikipedia Education Program. Any additional feedback would be appreciated.
  • Rod Dunican, head of the Global Education Program at the WMF, has joined the board as a WMF representative; Jami Mathewson has stepped down. It was decided that if the WEF may choose to employ Jami in the future, it would be a conflict of interest for her to continue to sit as a voting board member. Rod has put the board in touch with Lisa Gruwell, a member of the WMF fundraising team. Lisa joined a conference call and offered some great advice for seeking funds from donors and philanthropic organizations.
  • In terms of the transition of the US/Canada program, the date is looming - the program was only funded until the end of June. To avoid any interruption in program activities while waiting for GAC/FDC/outside funds, Rod has offered to seek some transition funds from within the WMF to keep at least one staff member (Jami) paid through October. We don't yet know if these funds will be approved, but Rod expects to hear a decision soon.
  • Finally, the initial board continues to wrestle with the issue of membership and its bylaws - we are trying to set up a framework that enfranchises both Wikipedians and educators, satisfies the WMF Affiliations Committee, and adheres to local law (the WEF is planning on incorporating in the state of Delaware - not locating there, mind you. That is another discussion that is ongoing, with possibilities of resource sharing/hosting with a university or the D.C. Wikimedia chapter).
  • Myself and Pharos have agreed to host an IRC "office hour" session for questions about the WEF; if you're interested, let us know what times are best and we will set it up, probably for next week. Regards, The Interior (Talk) 16:30, 16 May 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the offer about an office hour. I like the spirit of that. I left some comments about the grant proposal over there. Maybe someone could respond there this week? Biosthmors (talk) 17:25, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the comments, Biosthmors. I've posted a reply. Pjthepiano (talk) 04:55, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

Another class?

See User:15chloeh/sandbox, User_talk:15chloeh/sandbox, User:Mbg66/sandbox, and Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Comparison of Egyptian and Greek Mythology. The first user's name is rather similar to typical school usernames (including my own high school's); she would be a sophomore (whether in high school or undergraduate). Is there any class or anything anyone has seen that could explain these users and their content? Ansh666 00:13, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

some more students:
Only sandboxes have activity; the latter two have gone through AfC (and gotten approved) while Alice made a rather impressive translation from zh-wiki (by that, I'm not commenting on content, but the sheer amount of translated text, even if mostly names). The first two, not so impressive. Mbg66 could be the teacher/professor. Ansh666 00:21, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
The AfC submissions don't appear to have been approved, merely cut and pasted into main space. Stuartyeates (talk) 00:49, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
Didn't notice that. Shows how much mainspace editing I do, eh? Struck. I've found more, like User:15alicew/sandbox, User:15amandak/sandbox, etc. Seems to be a Chinese-language (probably Taiwanese) class. Ansh666 01:07, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

Found it completely by accident. See User:15joonp. Ansh666 01:27, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

Yes. [link removed] This is one of the project of Computer Technology class of my school. We have name template: 15(firstname)(first letter of lastname). 15joonp (talk) 01:34, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
Do you know if your teacher or anyone in the class is in contact with any Ambassadors or other Wikipedia editors? Ansh666 02:45, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
If the articles are OK, the AfCs can be cleared out by deleting them as G6, with an explanation like preliminary draft -- otherwise they will hang around for many months. (there is as far as I can tell no way to prevent people doing this) If the articles are not OK, then we need to follow the usual procedures. But, more important, I would very strongly discourage any class from using AfC. The AfC process is unsatisfactory in many ways (see My topic-specific user talk archive of problems. Quite often the reviewers at AfC are uninformed and unhelpful, equally likely to accept when they shouldn't and reject when they shouldn't, and the system encourages non-specific responses. We have enough problems directing users in the right way without their getting involved with people directing them in the wrong way.
As for the actual class topics, many of them seem suitably specific for a class. But some of them, like the article afd'd, are a little too complicated for a general class, rather than one with subject background. (I'm not sure about the fashion company & similar topics , as they can be tricky without good references) I particularly like the translation projects--this can be a very good one for a class, with students who know enough of both languages. DGG ( talk ) 03:10, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
I have a list of the article names even though the link was removed, and am willing to send it over email if needed. --Rschen7754 07:15, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

Portland State University

Greetings, Education Program participants. I have been asked to lead a project in conjunction with Portland State University (Portland, Oregon). The course, led by Phil Keisling, is called Political Science (PS) 331 - Oregon Politics, Spring Quarter. This project will not fully integrate Wikipedia into the curriculum throughout the course, but it will serve as an extra credit opportunity for students and as a test pilot for the Education Program here in Portland. The class has between 40 and 50 students, but the instructor thinks more like 10-15 students may participate. Jami Mathewson went ahead and recommended that I create a course page and post a message here to hopefully receive a bit of online support. My presentation will be on Tuesday, May 28, which is soon.

My reason for writing is two-fold. 1) I need to create a course page, but do not have course instructor rights. Would someone be willing to grant me rights or even create a page on my behalf using the above information? I am happy to provide additional details if needed. 2) Would any experienced Wikipedians and/or Education Program participants be willing to offer online support for these students? I will try my best to help as much as possible, but having additional backup would be comforting.

The students have been assigned an Oregon ballot measure to write about. During my presentation, I plan to provide a history and overview of Wikipedia and its mission, provide statistics, explain benefits of the Education Program, discuss the assignment, provide basic training and answer questions. I am happy to provide an e-mail address for students to reach me directly. Ideally, I will have examples of similar quality articles to display and offer content suggestions. My hope is that students will have a unique experience, learn a bit about Wikipedia and how it works, and hopefully a few will even remain editors after June. I believe this project will mark the first Education Program collaboration in Oregon. Any thoughts, suggestions or offers of support are much appreciated. --Another Believer (Talk) 01:34, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

This presumably refers to the items on List_of_Oregon_ballot_measures. Stuartyeates (talk) 01:43, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
Yes, though I am not sure if students are able to choose a measure or if the instructor assigned specific subjects. Either way, I believe the instructors understands notability requirements. --Another Believer (Talk) 01:45, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
I granted Another Believer the rights after talking with him about the Wikipedia Education Program. There have been other instances of the education program in the past but nothing consistent. Blue Rasberry (talk) 01:50, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
With rights granted, I created the page: Education Program:Portland State University/PS 331 - Oregon Politics (Spring Quarter). --Another Believer (Talk) 01:52, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

A new class

We have a new class editing rhabdomyolysis. They basically wrote sections of an article and copy and pasted them into the middle of this featured article. [27] All the content was more or less there using better references. Some of the images ended up duplicated. It does not appear as if the students read the current article before attempting to add their own content. Have seen this a number of times before were student additions are simply duplication of what is already there. Does anyone have a class list? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 04:21, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

Ugh, what a mess. Glad that you not only reverted, but semi-protected the article. Flyer22 (talk) 08:24, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Francesca Di Lauro


Frances Di Lauro


The University of Sydney

Course title and description

WRIT1001 Academic Writing - The Essay WRIT2002 Advanced Writing and Research

Assignment plan

In the junior unit WRIT1001, students will receive training in Wikipedia Editing, and assignments will be structured around conducting research, verifying facts, editing entries to correct or supplement facts, and including citations where they are lacking. Students enrolled in the senior undergraduate unit WRIT2002, come from diverse disciplines and faculties across our institution. The assignments will involve students searching Wikipedia to find whether their research projects (on varied topics) are already represented. Where they are not represented, students will, following the dictates of the Wikipedia pillars, create and develop pages throughout the semester on their chosen topics. Where pages do exist, students will continue to develop them with links to and from the pages, additional information, images, and citations. Students will also make improvements to the organisation of information on the pages, to the writing style and accuracy of expression.

Number of students

Total number in WRIT1001: 100 Total number in WRIT2002: 60

Start and end dates

2013 and 2014

--Francesca Di Lauro 08:12, 24 May 2013 (UTC)

Question: I see from one of your class titles that it is about writing essays. Are you aware that Wikipedia's policy against original research means that Wikipedia articles are not and should not be essays? --Tryptofish (talk) 19:11, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
Comment: Students in that class will not be adding any of their original research findings to Wikipedia articles. The activities I have been developing for that class will involve working on articles that need facts to be verified or supported by citations. Where they find information to add to existing articles, they will be required to show proof that the information comes from published sources in their edits. Frances Di Lauro 03:59, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
Good, thanks. That's what I was looking for. --Tryptofish (talk) 18:13, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
Comment: This might actually be the first course I have seen where the activities are likely to be a clear net positive for Wikipedia's article set. Looie496 (talk) 13:38, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

Since folks seem good with it, I'll go ahead and grant the instructor right. (Any admin, or anyone with the course coordinator right, can do this. If you're interested in getting the latter right so that you can help close instructor requests in a timely manner, you can request it on this page.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:27, 31 May 2013 (UTC)

@Sage Ross (WMF): since I've done a lot of instructor request reviewing in the past (I've been following the "review-ask on IRC/post on AN-repeat" method ;) ), that'd be useful. Thanks, Theopolisme (talk) 15:38, 31 May 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

List of past projects

Hello, I need a list of North American (or US) institutions which have run a Wikipedia-oriented course as a part of this education program. This still seems under construction. I want to use it for PR purposes. Thanks, kind regards, Vojtech Dostal, WM Czech Republic --Vojtech.dostal (talk) 09:21, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

@Vojtech.dostal: I'm not sure if there is a canonical list, but the lists of classes and institutions for previous terms are here: Wikipedia:Education program/Courses.
The courses since the beginning of 2013 are listed at Special:Courses, and you'll get the full list if you change the "current and planned" option to blank. You can see all the institutions here: Special:Institutions. (Note that a few of the courses are outside North America.)
There is also one institution in Mexico, which does work on Spanish Wikipedia. See outreach:Education Portal/Projects and Programs/ITESM-Campus Ciudad de México.
There is a longer history of Wikipedia assignments before the Wikipedia Education Program started, which you can browse at the archives of WP:SUP.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:17, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
Thank you very much. --Vojtech.dostal (talk) 16:55, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

Marking courses as closed

When courses are finished, can they be marked as closed somehow? I'm thinking of something like Template:Cfd top / Template:Cfd_bottom, so it's clear that it's no longer active. Given that we have a finish date, it could be done a month after the finish by a bot? Stuartyeates (talk) 09:48, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

Where are you thinking of marking? Special:Courses does not list courses that have ended in its default view, and the course pages themselves note the end dates. Later on, I think it would be useful to have course pages designed to show the status of a course (planned, current, or passed) in a more prominent way.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 18:37, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
I'm thinking of marking the entire page. Special:Courses is only one way of navigating to a course page (search, links from participants' pages, their talk pages, etc.). Stuartyeates (talk) 21:47, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

What if people want to see last semester's classes?

Is there a public place where the historical version of Special:Courses is available for viewing? Biosthmors (talk) 18:04, 7 June 2013 (UTC)

You can use Special:Courses filters to select "Passed" courses, or limit it to a certain term. All the classes in the system are still viewable through Special:Courses, unless they were deleted, they just don't show up in the default view once they are over.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 18:10, 7 June 2013 (UTC)
Excellent, thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 18:13, 7 June 2013 (UTC)

Medical students to do one month Wikipedia elective

Starting in Dec of 2013 we hope to have a few students from UCSF joining us at Wikiproject Medicine. They will each take on one article. Further details are here Wikipedia:WikiProject Medicine/UCSF Elective 2013. Feedback appreciated both in developing exactly how things will work before and analysing outcomes after the course. If it is a success hopefully this can continue long term. Doc James (talk ·contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 23:41, 7 June 2013 (UTC)

Is the page at Wikipedia:WikiProject_Medicine/UCSF being abandoned in favour of Wikipedia:WikiProject Medicine/UCSF Elective 2013? If so, could we please get the old page clearly marked as closed? It's still advertising prizes which appear to have already been issued. Stuartyeates (talk) 00:48, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
One shall be the main page of the other. The first though does need updating.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 02:44, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

Evolutionary psychology of kin selection and family

Another of the articles previously touched on at Wikipedia:Education_noticeboard/Archive4#Evolutionary_psychology_.2F_Psyc452 is up at AfD. Stuartyeates (talk) 01:10, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Qwh (talk)


jacob smith


university of maine.

Course title and description

history of maine all are first-year undergraduates

Assignment plan

out students will be fixing wikipedia articles about the history of maine

Number of students


Start and end dates

class starts june 10th ends on december 31st

--Qwh (talk) 22:51, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

Could you please provide me with more information, as there is no professor at the University of Maine by this name, and this course doesn't match up with any academic schedule that I can think of. Thanks! Kevin Rutherford (talk) 21:27, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

Gendered pronouns and Special:Log/campus

Special:Log/campus is full of gendered pronouns which appear to be mis-identifying a substantial number of editors. Please fix. Stuartyeates (talk) 23:53, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

Talk about grammar...

See [28]. Can this be corrected to "yourself"? A trivial fix, but right now I find it unnerving to see that next to every single article. Thanks! Theopolisme (talk) 19:19, 13 June 2013 (UTC)

@Theopolisme and Stuartyeates: Thanks. I just made a commit that should fix the gender-neutral pronouns for users who don't have gender set, and the grammar of that button. It'll make it's way live once it gets reviewed.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:39, 14 June 2013 (UTC)

Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Editor Retention#Retaining a different kind of editor

I have started a discussion about retaining student editors after their course is over at the above link. Please join in the discussion! Go Phightins! 13:38, 15 June 2013 (UTC)


Is this meant to be 'past'? If this is some regional English use of the word 'passed', could we instead use the word 'historic' or the word 'archived'? It's too close to the sense of 'the students passed the course' Stuartyeates (talk) 10:22, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

The meaning is intended more like "the time period of this course has passed", but I agree that it's a bit confusing. Maybe 'previous'? Anyone else have ideas for the clearest word to label courses that are over?--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 12:41, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
Maybe "finished"? --Tryptofish (talk) 13:55, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
Maybe the new name (whatever it is) could be linked to the definitions of the stages someplace? Stuartyeates (talk) 09:09, 22 June 2013 (UTC)

How to deal with a class editing an article in a negative manner

Back in May of 2013 we had 3 new users and an IP making negative changes to the article on Rhabdomyolysis. I reverted the changes, protected the page and posted a comment here [29] were the protect was supported. Subsequent to this some feel that my protection of this article was a misuse of admin tools [30]. A number of us attempted to address a class editing Parkinson's disease without protection and it was difficult in May of 2012 (there were five new editors). I ended up protecting that page as well eventually. Wondering what we as a community feel is appropriate when dealing with classes who are making negative changes to an article? Do people feel protection is appropriate and if so can this be done by those who have previously edited the article in question? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 17:50, 24 June 2013 (UTC)

I personally feel that when you are acting in the capacity of maintainer of medical articles, and the issue is one of competence, this sort of protection is completely appropriate. What is happening here is that you've gotten sucked into controversies that have nothing to do with education or medicine, and the other parties are looking around for any stick to beat you with. Looie496 (talk) 18:11, 24 June 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. However if I am to carry out these sorts of actions in the future will need a clear consensus that this is indeed appropriate. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 18:21, 24 June 2013 (UTC)
I too feel that relatively long-standing editors of relatively high-profile articles can and should take action to prevent detrimental editing during hotspots of activity. This is what we do, for example, in the cases of politician biographies in the climax of election campaigns; rapidly moving disaster articles; etc; etc. I see no difference here. Stuartyeates (talk) 20:31, 24 June 2013 (UTC)
I'd be happier if we were having this discussion in the absence of an RfArb. I've looked at that request, and I think that it's a good decision that they appear to be declining to accept the case. On the merits of the question asked here, I have ambivalent feelings: on the one hand, I've been very outspoken on this noticeboard about the importance of not leaving unhelpful student edits on-Wiki; on the other hand, I'm also a long-time advocate of administrative caution. So I'm going to break the question down into two sub-questions. As to the sub-question of whether page protection can be desirable when a student project is messing up a page, I say yes, it is. I would also, however, want to see an initial effort to explain the problem to the student editors, accompanied by reverting if appropriate, before resorting to protection. In other words, BRD, at least briefly, before protecting, so as not to BITE. The second sub-question is whether or not it is appropriate for an administrator to protect a page after having made other directly-related edits, such as reverting the edits that the protection is intended to block. I'd say that doing that flirts with being on the wrong side of INVOLVED. And I prefer that administrators err on the side of not projecting big-shot-ness (for much the same reason that I avoid telling other editors in a content dispute that I have a PhD, so respect mah authority). As a non-admin, I have never found RFPP particularly onerous. I see no reason why it would be any more onerous for an admin. You can always post there, just like any other editor, and there will always be other admins who can do the protection for you. So, on that second sub-question, I disagree a bit with Looie and Stuart. If you come across a problem page that you otherwise do not edit, by all means consider protection (after BRD) against bad student edits. If you have edited the page previously, but have not involved yourself in dealing with the student edits, then protection is also fine. But once you've gotten to the point of reverting the student edits, it's better to leave protection to a completely uninvolved admin. --Tryptofish (talk) 22:01, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
Rereadig my comments above, it appears I have implied I'm an admin. I'm not. Also my take on my PhD in relation to wikipedia is that my PhD is just another insititution I have to declare a COI with (See User:Stuartyeates). Stuartyeates (talk) 23:15, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
Oh, not at all. I didn't think any of that at all. I just was trying to draw some distinctions concerning what I consider to be proper administrative practice. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:18, 25 June 2013 (UTC)
I’m responding to this as a course instructor with only a vague understanding of admin rights and responsibilities. As an instructor, I feel a strong responsibility to have my students improve articles and not damage them. Even so, I am often too busy during the semester to keep up with their edits and after lurking on this page a bit, I see not all instructors share my sense of responsibility even if they did have the time. That being said, if it were my students, I would request, first, BRD but please don’t BITE. Second, please try to contact me and my course ambassador (my students are required to put a link to the course page on the article talk page and on their user page, so it should be easy to find us). Beyond that, if bad student edits continue in spite of efforts to communicate the problem to the students, their instructor, and ambassador (if there is one), then page protection seems very appropriate. Tryptofish’s comments seem thoughtful and make sense to me, but I am unfamiliar with the page protection process. Biolprof (talk) 04:19, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
Yes following the discussion above and here [31] most seem to feel that it is reasonable if one cares out these protections one could also post for a second opinion. Sort of did that here [32] but will be more clear next time around. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 04:34, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Mckteacher (talk)


Guy Boysen


McKendree University

Course title and description

The course in a section of Honors Introduction to Psychology. Students will primarily be in their first year of college. As part of their community service requirements, students will be writing a Wikipedia article that increases accurate coverage of psychology. They will be primarily writing about classic studies in the history of psychology.

Assignment plan

The following is a current draft of their assignment:

The Association for Psychological Science (APS) has initiated an effort to improve the representation of psychology on Wikipedia in terms of both its accuracy and comprehensiveness. Intentional, thoughtful, and scholarly contribution to Wikipedia represents an opportunity for service because it can increase the quality and amount of scientific information available to the general public. The contributions also offer students the opportunity to refine their communication skills by translating complicated scientific concepts into everyday language.

Students will sign up for one of the 40 studies in the Hock text. They will then review the Wikipedia article devoted to that study or a closely related topic and determine the strengths and weaknesses of the article. Then, they will identify topics that could be added to make the Wikipedia coverage of their topic more comprehensive. Building off their review, students will actually write a Wikipedia article based on their suggestion for an area in need of increased coverage. Articles must be written so that they are comprehensible to the general public. Articles must be written using reliable, scholarly sources. All sources must be documented both in the text and in a reference section. The length of articles will vary. However, if the article does not reach 300 words and 2 sources, a second article should be written.

The written assignment that is turned in will consist of two parts. The first part will include the review of the Wikipedia page. Reviews should contain strengths, limitations, and specific suggestions for expansion. The second part will consist of the actual article written for Wikipedia.

Number of students


Start and end dates


--Mckteacher (talk) 16:10, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

  • The book referred to, for convenience, is Forty studies that changed psychology: explorations into the history of psychological research by Roger R. Hock. Here are my thoughts. The fact that this is a small class is very good, as is the fact that it is an honors class. However, there are still a number of ways this could go badly wrong, so it would be helpful if you would make a commitment to work closely with a course ambassador who could advise you on ways to avoid pitfalls that have tripped up other instructors. Looie496 (talk) 17:07, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
  • I would gladly work with an ambassador and would love to hear advice an lessons learned that are not part of the official educational materials posted on here or on the APS website. Is there something I need to do to make this happen? Mckteacher (talk) 17:25, 18 June 2013 (UTC)
I would be happy to talk with you over Skype. Last semester I helped out most closely with a class at Saint Louis University and before that one at Georgia Tech. I'll send you an email. Biosthmors (talk) 11:25, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: PirateV (talk)


Vanessa Bentley


University of Cincinnati

Course title and description

The course is Philosophy and Women. We are investigating the relationship between women and philosophy from Ancient Greece through today. It is a mixed undergraduate course where most have little to no experience in philosophy. Their Wikipedia assignment is to research a woman philosopher and write a Wikipedia page for her to increase the visibility of women philosophers. I do not yet have a Wikipedia advisor for the course.

Assignment plan

My students will be adding articles by women working in philosophy to increase the visibility of women;s contributions to philosophy. Each student will be tasked with adding one article.

Number of students


Start and end dates

June 24-August 10, 2013

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --PirateV (talk) 19:24, 24 June 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

Seems fine by me. Stuartyeates (talk) 07:38, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

 Done OhanaUnitedTalk page 01:53, 27 June 2013 (UTC)

Broken Pings

I see my name was listed here, to ping me. I don't think I received a notification, though. Was that true for anyone else? Biosthmors (talk) 07:17, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
That was the diff that should have left something for me at Special:Notifications. Biosthmors (talk) 07:22, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
@Biosthmors: I think notifications are not enabled in Wikipedia namespace yet (only talk namespaces). I gather from here that enabling for Wikipedia: pages is supposed to happen, but I didn't realize that it wasn't enabled yet. (Unless you get this ping, in which case, I have no idea.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:29, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for replying/testing! I did get that one. I'll test: @Biosthmors and Sage Ross (WMF):. Biosthmors (talk) 15:31, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
And @Sage Ross (WMF):. Did one work and one not? The multiple one didn't notify me. Biosthmors (talk) 15:33, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
I got both. I don't think you can ping yourself, but maybe there is a limit to mentions per post. I'll look into it.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:34, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Let's just try this: @Looie496, Looie496, Looie496, Biosthmors, and Sage Ross (WMF):. Looie496 (talk) 16:07, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Worked for me. Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 16:29, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Ping didn't work for me (on this page at least). I just happened to stumble upon. OhanaUnitedTalk page 17:23, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
This is odd. I just found out that the system handles up to 100 mentions in a single post, so that's not the problem. And we've seen the ping template work as expected in this thread subsequently. I'm confused as to why it isn't working.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:42, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
I went ahead and asked at WP:VPT. Biosthmors (talk) 17:46, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
I did not get a notification from This test message, so it most likely failed because there was text after the signature. Graham87 03:26, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
Hmmm, just to make sure that the way the apostrophe in my good foot account's signature was encoded had nothing to do with it, I did some more tests and got two notifications as I should have. However, now the notifications system seems completely confused about which account I'm actually logged into ... lol. Graham87 03:52, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
And the signature in the heading had nothing to do with it, either. I have no idea what caused the initial notifications in this section to fail. Graham87 05:39, 28 June 2013 (UTC)
@OhanaUnited, Graham87, Sage Ross (WMF), and Biosthmors: Answer: For the "Mention" feature (discussion-based Notifications) to work, the edit must contain 4-tildes as part of the same "Save". Adding text after the 4-tildes does not effect it (I tested). The initial edit did not use a 4-tilde signature. (For details/specifics, see the notes section at the bottom of mw:Echo/Feature requirements#User Mention). HTH. –Quiddity (talk) 02:13, 29 June 2013 (UTC)
@Quiddity: Yes, that was the first thing I checked. How did that edit not use a four-tilde signature? It did contain the text "PirateV (talk) 19:24, 24 June 2013 (UTC)" after all. Graham87 05:31, 29 June 2013 (UTC)
Ack! Sorry. My mistake. I saw the "[[User:DoNotArchiveUntil]]" at the bottom of the diff, and my brain filled in the rest. (I'm somewhat sleep deprived, today). Hmmmm... Will look further...
Okay - It's the {{subst:Do not archive until}} within the request template (Source code). If I remove that element, pings work properly. (Tested by removing various parts, at my alt's talkpage, until it worked)
I'm not sure how you want to fix it. –Quiddity (talk) 06:07, 29 June 2013 (UTC)
@Quiddity: Thanks! I don't think the 'do not archive' code is working anyway, so I'll just cut that out.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:37, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
I got pinged now. OhanaUnitedTalk page 05:35, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

Evolutionary psychology followup

this set of articles has been discussed before at Wikipedia:Education_noticeboard/Archive4#Evolutionary_psychology_.2F_Psyc452

One new article, Evolutionary psychology of language, appears to have survived from this course. During the AfDs WP:DYNAMITE was used, which I'd not seen before, but looks like a good essay to use in the future. Stuartyeates (talk) 22:24, 5 July 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Gseidman (talk)


Gwendolyn Seidman


Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania

Course title and description

Senior Seminar in Psychology: Current Topics in Social Psychology. This course for undergraduate seniors focuses on current theories and research in the field of social psychology. As a final project, students will work in pairs to edit a Wikipedia stub or starter article. This course is part of the APS Wikipedia Initiative.

Assignment plan

Students will first complete several small assignments. They will critically evaluate an existing article, add new information with citation to existing article, and write summary of their article in a sandbox. By the middle of the semester, they will move their article to main space and expand it.

Number of students


Start and end dates

Start date: 8/27/13; End date: 12/15/13

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Gseidman (talk) 05:27, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

Do you have a list of candidate articles or a category of stubs as suggestions for your students to work with? I know approaching nothing about the subject, but Category:Social psychology stubs seems like a sane place to start. Stuartyeates (talk) 08:37, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

Looks fine from their talk page, I gave them the rights. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 19:54, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

Request for course instructor right: Digitalxicanafem (talk)


Monica De La Torre


University of Washington

Course title and description

Introduction to Gender and Popular Culture: This introductory level course for undergraduates. This course is a critical examination of the ways popular culture generates and shapes images of gender, race/ ethnicity, class, and sexuality. In order to understand how popular cultural shapes understandings of and attitudes towards gender, the course will pay special attention to the ways femininity and masculinity is represented and contested in multiple forms of commercial media, independent popular culture including music, film, television, print media, video games and new media such as the internet and social media technology. The course will explore the ways gender identity has been, and is, represented in relation to questions of race, ethnicity, and class by examining the reception, production, and social uses of popular culture by multiple communities in local and global contexts.

Assignment plan

not given

Number of students


Start and end dates

Starts June 25, 2013. Ends August 22, 2013

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Digitalxicanafem (talk) 19:36, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

Hello. Are you the instructor? You neglected to share an email address when you registered for Wikipedia so I cannot write you directly. My name is Lane and I love the University of Washington. Please write me through Special:EmailUser/Bluerasberry or post on my talk page and I will set up a Wikipedia introduction for you and introduce you to some Wikipedians in Seattle. Thanks! Blue Rasberry (talk) 20:00, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

Granted her the rights, as this is not a scam. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 21:33, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: (talk)


Dr. Heath A. Diehl


Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio

Course title and description

TITLE: HNRS 4000: After Fight Club: The "Transgressive Fiction" of Chuck Palahniuk, 1999-2012 DESCRIPTION: American writer Chuck Palahniuk is widely known and lauded for his first published novel, Fight Club (1996); indeed, it is this early work, along with its 1999 big-screen adaptation, that solidified Palahniuk’s reputation as a formidable presence on the contemporary literary scene. Yet Palahniuk has produced a rich and diverse body of work post-Fight Club, one not only equally worthy of the kinds of critical (and cult-like) accolades heaped upon his first novel, but also one that invites serious scholarly investigation and critique. This course will focus on seven of the novels that Palahniuk has written since Fight Club originally was published—from his second novel, Survivor (1999) to his most recent offering, Invisible Monsters Remix (2012). Through our reading and discussion of these works, we will explore not only how Palahniuk charts new ground with his “transgressive fiction” but also how his work builds on and re-works earlier literary traditions (like the epistolary novel, noir, and oral history). We also will locate Palahniuk’s work within the socio-historical landscape of contemporary America, examining the ways in which his work reflects and responds to the concerns and preoccupations of the current age. Enrollment: 6-8 students enrolled in the University Honors Program--from sophomores to seniors Dates: 26 August 2013 through 20 December 2013

Assignment plan

Ideally, I want my students to identify a topic related to the course theme and either significantly edit (if a page already exists) and/or create a new page (if a page does not already exist) a Wikipedia page on that topic. These pages could be novels by Chuck Palahniuk. They could be the already existing page on "transgressive fiction." Or they could be some related topic.

Number of students

Right now, there are 6 students enrolled in the course. There could be as many as 8 or 10, although I doubt there will be any change in the enrollment prior to the start of fall term.

Start and end dates

26 August through 20 December 2013

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: -- (talk) 12:59, 17 July 2013 (UTC)

You're going to Request an account, as we cannot give rights to IP addresses. Otherwise, everything else checks out. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 16:32, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
I know little about this field of study, but I note that Transgressive fiction is tagged as needing sources. Please encourage your students to use and reference a range of secondary sources in their work. Stuartyeates (talk) 22:43, 17 July 2013 (UTC)

User is Williad1973 (talk), so I am going to give him the rights. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 18:38, 18 July 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

Attention needed on several articles and users

I hope someone has time to take this on and investigate: I simply don't have time. It looks like student editing (since all userpages are similar and were created at the same time), but heck, could also be a sock farm. I haven't taken this any farther than the first reverts of bad edits, simply because I don't have time. Addition of non-MEDRS and non-reliable sources, breaking current refs, adding text already in the articles, etc. and some overlap in their article editing.


and others-- but Latah is an article that typically attracts students, akin to klazomania, coprolalia, other topics they find "sexy" or something.


... there are more ... all edits are similar, edit summaries are similar, user pages are similar.

Could someone ascertain if these are students and attempt to locate a professor or help clean up the messes? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:15, 20 July 2013 (UTC)

OK, User talk:Cl171562 indicates it is a university, so yes, student editing again. If not, need an SPI for sock farm (based on vandal comments at the unblock request).
At last: Bingo ... Henderson State University ... does anyone know the course or prof? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:20, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
And now, the course syllabus. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:44, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
Next. The professor is a Wikipedia sysop, Doczilla No wonder so many of us give up in here. Would someone please deal with this? These very bad articles have been hitting my watchlist for several terms, and only now do I realize it was always bad student editing. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:59, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
Awful indeed. My jaw dropped. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:21, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
I wish this education noticeboard discussion had been brought to my attention on the 20th. Not that I've been on Wikipedia between then and now, but if I had, I still wouldn't have seen this until someone linked it two days later. Doczilla @SUPERHEROLOGIST 04:37, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
This discussion was brought to your attention on the 20th-- immediately after I discovered it was your course (which took me several hours of investigation). [33] [34] SandyGeorgia (Talk) 12:02, 24 July 2013 (UTC)


What do we do about cleanup? I've already removed twice a broken ref and non-rs at Latah-- what next? These students disappear at term-end, leaving the mess. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:03, 21 July 2013 (UTC)

Wow some of this is bad. Dangerously bad in fact. Sort of depressing really. Have no idea what to do about it. It is unfortunate that the prof does not appear to be working with the students to make something more high quality. Have reverted brain fag to the last stable version. Dozilla did help me deal with a difficult user who was attempting to promote themselves via Wikipedia a while ago and for that I thank them. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 13:21, 21 July 2013 (UTC)
Shall I continue checking Brain fag for copyvio or did you check all that is left? I hope Doczilla didn't give his students an "A" for plagiarism. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:41, 21 July 2013 (UTC) Oops, sorry, I meant ataque de nervios (but others should probably be checked anyway). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:42, 21 July 2013 (UTC)
At this point, both Sandy and I have left messages at the instructor's user talk page. I'm going to WP:AGF that, when he sees the messages, he'll try to help. I helped to write WP:ASSIGN – and most especially WP:NOTTA! – in part to reassure editors that we should do as much or as little as we wish with respect to mopping up. It's really up to you, but please read what NOT-TA says, and feel free to revert anything that looks to you like it ought to be reverted. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:17, 21 July 2013 (UTC)
Latah and brain fag are cleaned up, ataque de nervios only a wee bit, but the problem is this group of students have left a lot of damage in their wake, I haven't begun to review all of their edits, and all of their work needs to be checked. Please watchlist identified articles so at least further damage can be minimized? It would be helpful if Doczilla would assure us something will change in terms of his future supervision of this work. By the way, brain fag belongs at brain fag syndrome, but I am unable to move it due to some blacklist thingie? Perhaps someone can follow up on that. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:32, 21 July 2013 (UTC)
As far as I'm concerned, brain fag should be merged into something else. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:40, 21 July 2013 (UTC)

Re Tryptofish and merging Brain fag syndrome, it occurred to me that all of the articles in Category:Culture-bound syndromes might be merged to Culture-bound syndrome, but there are too many of these syndromes to be covered adequately there, and some of them have adequate MEDRS-compliant sources (it's just that these students aren't using them). But ... clicking on just about any one of those articles reveals the extent of the damage done by Doczilla's apparently unsupervised students. Every article I've checked reveals serious issues ... blog sources, other non-reliable sources, copyvio, uncited text ... the entire suite needs to be cleaned up and watchlisted unless Doczilla has a plan to supervise the work or better educate his students in sourcing, plagiarism, etc. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 11:42, 22 July 2013 (UTC)

Would it be simpler just to revert anything that the students added bad sources or copyvios to back to the version prior to their involvement? A boilerplate note could be left on the talk page to let any future interested editor know about the revert, so they can trawl the diff for anything that might be of interest. Per WP:NOTTA and Tryptofish's comments above, I don't think anyone should feel obliged to expend any significant energy on clean-up. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:12, 22 July 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Mike, but easier said than done ... this editing intersects with mine in two realms (Latah is sometimes claimed to be related to Tourette syndrome, and susto and ataque are both Hispanic related). There is some sporadic good text worth saving. Unless Doczilla responds with an interest in curbing the bad editing, better would be to blanket revert his students going forward, but cleaning up the past work does require some effort and study. Could the folks here who deal with these things come up with a template and decide what we will do going forward? I've spent the better part of several days looking at some of the articles, and they are all dismal-- basically a playground for students who have been guaranteed a certain grade for minimal compliance and minimal engagement/understanding of Wikipedia. Once again, these kinds of issues seem to hit my watchlist because of the obscure relationships to TS. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:38, 22 July 2013 (UTC)
I, too, want to thank Mike Christie for that, and I agree with him. Perhaps, Sandy, you are making it more difficult than it needs to be. It comes down to how much you care about "sporadic good text worth saving". You could just let it get reverted with the rest, or you could copy it to the talk pages before reverting, or you could revert everything but it. If it's really just sporadic, I personally would just revert all of it and be done with it. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:00, 22 July 2013 (UTC)
Trypto, often the students edit war (that is, one removes the problematic editing and they or their class friends continue to reinstate it). Do you really think a trigger-happy admin wouldn't block me for 3RR if I kept removing the bad text? With these classes, it amounts to a slow edit war at articles like Latah, because groups of them are adding often the same text term after term. Also, as we've discussed before on this board, it is off-wiki coordinated editing (aka meatpuppetry), because it's a whole lot of them who are trying to get an "A" v one editor who knows Wikipedia policies and guidelines. Simply reverting them is an invitation for trouble. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:45, 23 July 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I know that can be really frustrating, but I think the rule of thumb is always to treat students just like any other editors who do that stuff. Sometimes, page protection can help. Or you can post here and ask that other editors help with the reverting (or post at ANI if need be). If I know about a specific edit war, I'll be happy to make an extra revert so someone else doesn't have to run up against 3RR. (And no, that wouldn't be canvassing.) --Tryptofish (talk) 16:56, 23 July 2013 (UTC)

Brain fag

But it appears the best available source are exceedingly poor. This 2009 supposed review article [35] simply copied and pasted the abstract from this 1975 paper [36] into there "review" article without one bit of rewording of the text. Both state the same: "Sixty male Nigerian students suffering from 'brain fag' syndrome who had failed to respond satisfactorily to 4 to 8 weeks' treatment with other benzodiazepines were treated with 1 to 2 mg. lorazepam t.i.d. There was marked improvement in symptoms in over 80% of the patients by the end of the second week of lorazepam treatment. Side-effects were considerably less frequent or incapacitating than with the previous therapy." Makes one wonder how much of the rest of the paper is "copied and pasted" bits of text from different sources. The last paper I read by a Sudan author was half lifted from Wikipedia and half from a NEJM review 8 years earlier. I guess the students have not done any worse than the authors of this paper. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 04:38, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

If one looks at the definition of review article, it requires some analyze or discussion of previous finding (hopefully critically) not just a simple regurgitation of others conclusions collated together. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 04:43, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
And than this review has been plagiarized by this paper 2012 [37] with the following being exactly the same "Morakinyo [16] presented his psychophysiological theory of BFS by carrying out a clinical investigation of 20 established cases of the Brain Fag Syndrome among the students of University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife). He found that BFS sufferers had a very intense drive for achievement and that behind this drive was an anxiety related to the outcome of the educational programme on which the students were engaged. This anxiety made the students adopt a system of study which led to sleep deprivation with use of stimulants to stay awake. The sleep deprivation in turn created an abnormal psycho-physiological state in them including cognitive dysfunction. This cognitive dysfunction also constituted a severe threat to their ambition and in turn led to a generation of more tension. A vicious cycle was therefore established which eventually led to BFS." Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 05:06, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for all that investigation, Doc ... I am fine with a merge, redirect, whatever ... I just wanted it cleaned up :) SandyGeorgia (Talk) 12:04, 24 July 2013 (UTC)


Feedback from one student on my talk. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:16, 23 July 2013 (UTC)

I think that your response was spot-on. And I think that what the student said points very clearly to how instructors who do not guide their students carefully are not only doing a disservice to Wikipedia, but to the students themselves. --Tryptofish (talk) 16:51, 23 July 2013 (UTC)
If the profs give them no guidance, I can't see how editing Wikipedia can be a rewarding experience for them, and it's no wonder they virtually never stay beyond the end of their course. As to this particular prof, the amount of cut-and-paste plagiarism that I and others have found is a concern-- his syllabus says they get an "A" if they just complete the course basics, so presumably (since he isn't checking), he is rewarding plagiarism with "A" grades. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:43, 23 July 2013 (UTC)
That's not actually what the syllabus says. "If you do everything you’re supposed to do and do it correctly, you’ll go into the final with an A." Doing it correctly means many things. Regardless of what it does mean, we will never use Wikipedia again and these things are getting fixed. Doczilla @SUPERHEROLOGIST 05:50, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

2011 and 2012 articles

It looks like a previous iteration of the same class created a bunch of articles in userspace. Since these are not NOINDEXed (e.g., are Google searchable), they should probably be MFD'd as a batch.


James0092 (talk · contribs), who seems to be in the current class, added a source to one of these recently. Otherwise they don't seem to have been touched recently. There's also a 2012 class less intertwingled with these—see Sdd3986 (talk · contribs) and Hmdaniels (talk · contribs)—but I haven't the energy to track all those down right now. Choess (talk) 02:59, 23 July 2013 (UTC)

I think we should develop a standard operating procedure on how to handle student editors' sandbox pages. Make it clear to the instructor and students that those sandboxes will be automatically deleted X months after the completion of the course (specific criteria and requirement to trigger the deletion can be discussed further). This way, they will know that they are working against a set timeline and have to make an effort to push their contributions to mainspace, preferably before the end of the course so things like above won't happen as frequent as we hope. OhanaUnitedTalk page 06:24, 23 July 2013 (UTC)
I know a lot of us keep stuff in our user space long periods of time. If the students are still active there should be no concerns with them simply leaving it there. What do we do with other users who become inactive who are not students? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 04:22, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
Well, this subsection's discussion theme is on sandbox pages that are being indexed by Google. There is close to no prospect that the pages will be touched in the future because the student editors doesn't stick around. Since you disagree with my suggestion, what ideas do you have in mind? OhanaUnitedTalk page 20:59, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
Can we set it so that they are not indexed? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 21:05, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
This may collaterally affect our policy on all user spaces. OhanaUnitedTalk page 02:34, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

Reply from course instructor

This will not happen again. We will not use Wikipedia in our classes again. Doczilla @SUPERHEROLOGIST 03:46, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

Looking at things further, wrt brain fag it looks like the best available source [38] is dangerously bad and contains at least some "copy and pasting" from previous sources without any critical analysis per Wikipedia:Education_noticeboard#Brain_fag. I thus apologies for speaking so harshly. Plagiarism is unfortunately rampant in the academic literature. As another example this 2012 review article was half copied from Wikipedia and half copied from a NEJM review from 2004 [39]. I had used it as a ref on Wikipedia a bunch of times before realizing this. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 04:48, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
User:Doczilla, I'm curious. Why do you plan on not using classroom assignments with Wikipedia again? My impression is that courses can be beneficial to all parties with careful assignment design. Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 07:34, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
Why? I will not use Wikipedia in courses again because of this. This guarantee is the most straightforward way to assure people who have been making many, many edits to correct those articles during the past several days while I've been immersed in professional activities outside Wikipedia. The articles will get fixed, not all at once because of deadlines irrelevant to Wikipedia but I will get them fixed. Most of these particular articles will return to states of being stubs that should probably get deleted altogether and merged into another article. This year's effort to have students edit real articles and to try to improve each other's work has failed and will never be repeated here, and we will not return to the use of sandbox articles for other reasons. I give my students a lot of feedback in the course, but feedback on the Wikipedia editing comes later in the term. There's no need to debate why I pace things that way, not here, because this will not happen again anyway. I've had trouble enough lately remembering why I still edit on Wikipedia when I have publication and convention deadlines looming, so I'd rather quit this altogether than fight to continue the attempt. I have alternative assignments I can give the students. Tests have shown they learn a lot while they find sources and clumsily edit, but that doesn't change the fact that they get in the way of real Wikipedia editors who take an interest in these largely obscure articles. So it stops. Doczilla @SUPERHEROLOGIST 08:11, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
Doczilla, thank your for the extensive cleanup you've done already. I'm not sure it's helpful to persist in discussion here, since you've put up a "superbusy" note on your talk, but I'm wondering if you believe that some of these problems might have been avoided if you had gone through the Education Program, had an ambassador, used the handouts they've developed, tagged talk pages so we knew students were editing, etc? One of my frustrations was seeing these edits hit my watchlist all year, and not knowing the origin. I'll understand if you can't explore this just now because of being superbusy ... so am I! Regards, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 12:10, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
Also, feel free to help improve the page Wikipedia:Assignments for student editors. Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 07:46, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
Yes these are difficult topics in which it is hard to find suitable sources. I wonder if having students write only a single section of an article would be better? They could then concentrate on finding all source that deal with one aspect. Seeing if any of the sources "copy and paste" from each other and then figuring out the proper weight to give each. Anyway we likely only picked up the less well done articles here and we may need to balance this against those that were well done. I guess my expectation of a prof is that they are directly involved on Wikipedia with guiding the students on the topics they are working on. With Doczilla being as active as he is, he has a better chance than most of succeeding. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 15:32, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Let me just say that I am hugely sympathetic to what Doczilla said about how things here can be in conflict with so many pressing time demands in academia. True that! Unless you've actually done it, the demands of balancing teaching, research, and service can make your head explode, and the professional rewards are misaligned with the immediate time demands. From Wikipedia's perspective, we need to understand that perspective, because it lies behind much of what we see here, where it looks like students set loose on the Wiki. --Tryptofish (talk) 17:03, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Mark M (talk)


Mark MacDonald


Lancaster University

Course title and description

I don't currently have a course myself, but I'm in the process of recruiting some of my colleagues at Lancaster to use Wikipedia assignments in their modules. Since I'll be helping them out, I would like to be more familiar with the process of creating a course, and the Education Program extension more generally. Earlier this year I attended a Training event run by Wikimedia UK, which I suppose is further evidence that I'm a real person.

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Mark M (talk) 10:18, 23 July 2013 (UTC)

I'm trying to find out what this process will be like for instructors setting up courses. How long should one expect to wait for a response to a request for this user right? Is there something else I should have done? Thanks, Mark M (talk) 07:56, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
You should expect to wait 1-2 days. Sorry. Most of us on this list are in the US and Canada and part of the problem is that we do not have good communication with volunteers in the UK because this process was just set up. We have an international conference in one week to talk about making this process better, and just last week we got funding to establish an education office to support people like you. I really appreciate your interest and the fact that you are reaching out and I am sorry that we are inefficient - all of us are volunteers. Here are some people in the UK who might have thoughts.
To get user rights you are supposed to have a conversation with any person. Since you have already met with Wikimedia UK volunteers about this I am giving you the user rights now; I can also have a chat with you by Skype sometime but I am unable to commit to support your class. Perhaps the UK community group has some advice on finding a local volunteer for you, and if not I will try to look more for you. Is that sufficient for now? Ultimately it is difficult to find a volunteer for support but let's see what Wikimedia UK says. Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:07, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. No need to apologize. I'm in contact with other volunteers in the UK, so I should be okay; thanks again. Mark M (talk) 13:29, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
Mark, it's good to see you've taken the plunge with this. I'm always in awe of Wikimedians who dare to be bold in the Education sector!
Thanks to @Bluerasberry: for setting you on your way. WMUK can certainly offer you some support with your efforts in Lancaster. We should probably plan to have a 1-to-1 conversation sometime soon. I believe you already have my email address, so feel free to email me, if I don't manage to get a message that way to you first.
Are you planning to participate in EduWiki 2013? There's an open call for proposals until 26 August. --ToniSant (talk) 09:53, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

User:Circadiansync/BIO 4030 (Spring 2013)

This course, User:Circadiansync/BIO 4030 (Spring 2013), focused partially on adding biographies. One was withheld from publication (Wikipedia talk:Articles for creation/Samer Hattar), and I think rightly so. See this detail? Unfortunately, the others biographies I've looked at from the class also delved way too deeply into describing WP:Primary studies the person was a co-author on as if they were relevant for a biographical entry. I communicated this to the professor just now in an email. Any comments? Biosthmors (talk) 17:14, 2 August 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right User:Crtew


Chad Tew: I was a Wikipedia Teaching Fellow in 2011 and 2012, and I've taught the course below three times using Wikipedia as a project. The project improves every semester. I have also used Wikipedia sister projects in another course. I am an experienced editor.


University of Southern Indiana

Course title and description

Introduction to Mass Communication: "Presentation, lectures, and assignments designed to introduce students to the basic concepts of mass communication; to foster an understanding of the roles and functions of communication media in our society; to present concepts and principles of journalism; and to prepare students to be intelligent users of media."

Students in this course will create content about journalists (bios) who have been killed while reporting or because of their reporting (See: Rubric). You may see past examples of the course syllabus listed on my user page, although I plan on further revisions in the fall. The coursework is best associated with WP:Wikiproject Journalism and Wikipedia:WikiProject Freedom of speech. All of the content tends to be biographies. And a great learning point for students is that they primarily focus on journalists from other countries, which touches upon a diverse group of country-specific Wikipedia projects.

I typically have between 40 and 50 students who are mostly first and second-year college students. First class is August 27, 2013. Projects must be completely finished no later than December 10, 2013. I put them on a schedule so that they should be submitting to AfC next semester around November and should have time for revision.

This can be a rewarding experience for everyone. Thank you, Crtew (talk) 06:15, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Went ahead and gave it to you. Thanks for coming back :) Kevin Gorman (talk) 06:17, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
That was really fast. Thank you Kevin! Crtew (talk) 06:49, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
Hello Crtew, I just wanted to thank you for having a nice user page with links to your previous courses. =) Best wishes for your upcoming semester. Biosthmors (talk) 10:29, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Granting course instructor rights

When should they be granted, and when should they not? Biosthmors (talk) 08:33, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

Education extension: are the fixes coming?

The Education extension was rolled out here while still in beta. There are a whole lot of bugs in the bug tracker and I'm not seeing much traction on getting them fixed. There are also treads such as this in the archives of this page that haven't produced the results I'd hoped. Since I understand that the WMF / Education Program used their influence to have this installed, can I ask whether the WMF / Education Program have any plans to get any of these issues resolved before our new wave of students hits? Stuartyeates (talk) 08:48, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

@Stuartyeates: Wording / labeling changes are simple, and I can submit patches to these myself. The wording suggestion in that thread you link was implemented some time ago; the message now reads "You are not currently participating in any active courses. You can view the list of courses."
More generally, our development plans for the extension have been set back a bit because Jeroen (the author of the extension) did not have the time available that he anticipated this summer to implement the "ContentHandler" system which will fix or enable the fix of a big swath of remain bugs. (See the "depends on" bugs here.) So we're currently trying to figure out who will handle development in the future; Wikimedia Germany may take on the project down the road, although that plan is still embryonic. So to answer you question, I don't expect that much bug-squashing progress will be made before the start of the North American fall term in a few weeks. :-( --Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:34, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the update, even though it's not good news. Biosthmors (talk) 23:16, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

Sandbox link in education extension

Given the prominence sandboxes can play within courses (example course), could there please be a link to each student's sandbox after each student's name in the "Student" column? So that everyone could see "Gpruett2 (talk | contribs | sandbox )", as an example? Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 08:21, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

That should be pretty easy, although students aren't necessary using the "/sandbox" page for their sandboxes. I'll see if I can figure out how to make that happen.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:03, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
After much floundering with the code, I submitted a patch that adds a link to Special:PrefixIndex for each username (labeled "sandboxes", so it should show all the user subpages.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:43, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
Does that mean it should show at Education Program:University of Washington/GWSS 251: Introduction to Gender and Popular Culture (Summer )? Best. Biosthmors (talk) 23:18, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
@Biosthmors: Not yet. First I have to fix the code, which had some problems that the reviewers pointed out after I submitted it. Then it has to get reveiwed again and merged, and then it will would go live when it makes its way through the deployment cycle, which takes 1-2 weeks (depending at what point in the cycle it got merged).--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:15, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for your help. Sorry it wasn't an easier process! Thanks again. Biosthmors (talk) 13:53, 12 August 2013 (UTC)


When one googles "Education noticeboard", the first link is Wikipedia talk:Education noticeboard. Shouldn't it be to here and not the talk page of this page? Biosthmors (talk) 08:25, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

This is because this page has the "noindex" flag set, so it does not get indexed by Google. I think the NOINDEX switch comes from the transclusion of {{Education noticeboard navbox}}. Removing that would (I think) let Google index this page, and I'm sure it would become the top hit after that.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:01, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
Removed, thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 21:18, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: (talk)


Mary-Frances O'Connor


University of Arizona

Course title and description

Psychology of Death and Loss, with advanced undergraduates, is a writing emphasis class, and this seems like a good outlet for students to learn how to write for an important audience and strengthen their research skills. I don't have a Campus Ambassador, and I am trying to find an Ambassador.

Assignment plan

I expect that each student will add 3-4 paragraphs or about 8 references to existing or new articles in the areas of bereavement and death studies.

Number of students

about 100

Start and end dates

August 27 to November 28

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: (talk) 19:59, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Granted. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 20:12, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module., do you have any questions about Wikipedia? Do you have an ambassador? Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 16:30, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
The instructor is still in need of an ambassador. Biosthmors (talk) 21:19, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
I emailed them to give some pointers and to establish a line of communication. Biosthmors (talk) 21:35, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
And, there are lists of ambassadors at Special:OnlineVolunteers and Special:CampusVolunteers, but I'm not sure how closely all of them follow this page. Generally speaking, it might be good to notify the list of Online Ambassadors, if that's what you're looking for. But I'm not sure what kind of support you'd appreciate at this point. Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 12:51, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

Special:MyCourses and Education Program:McKendree University/PSY 153 H (Fall 2013)

When Mckteacher (talk · contribs) goes to Special:MyCourses to see if they can view the contributions of Mckresearcher (talk · contribs), a test account listed at Education Program:McKendree University/PSY 153 H (Fall 2013), should they be able to see the edits to 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior, because they don't. Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 15:51, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

@Mckteacher and Biosthmors:: I think this is because the class has not started yet. Try changing the start date to yesterday and see if the activity feed shows up as expected.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:58, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the response! I changed the date from 8-26 to 8-12 and added myself as an ambassador as a test and it didn't pop up for me (even after clicking "view latest"/purging). What about you, User:Mckteacher? Biosthmors (talk) 16:05, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
@Biosthmors: I think it's because the class was not active when those edits were made. I just signed up as a student and made an edit to the article, and my edit shows up in the activity feed (although those of Mckresearcher (talk · contribs) do not.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:16, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Great. I see that now too. Thanks Sage. I changed the date back. Biosthmors (talk) 18:58, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

Wiki Education Foundation update

For those interested in the Wiki Education Foundation, I have a few updates. The WEF is now a legally incorporated entity; the founding board is Chanitra Bishop, Bob Cummings, Mike Christie, Richard Knipel, Annie Lin, Diana Strassmann, and PJ Tabit. We have received a grant from the GAC; notice of the approval is here and the grant itself is here. We're now looking at the possibility of working with the WMF to use their administrative infrastructure, though we have been considering other institutional sponsorship as well. A list of minutes of prior WEF board meetings is available here.

I'll try to post updates here at least once a month, and more often if events warrant; please post a note here or at my talk page (or email me) if there are any additional questions -- I don't want to post a host of details here that are of no interest to many people, but I'm happy to answer any other questions. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 03:44, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

Some of these numbers of "past successes" miss the point.[40] Having dealt with a good 800 students which appeared due to the disaster that was the U of T psychology class I find it disconcerting that volumn of text contributed is being used as a marker of success (I guess it is easy to measure).
If it is to be used a discussion of plagiarism should also occur. Much of the plagiarism was very hard to detect (I spent many hours looking and the more carefully I looked the more I found).
Using the number of GAs/FAs created is also not a great measure as we ended up with lots of articles that were not ready to be nominated being nominated. And by the time feedback is given the student has moved on / finished the course. Or one of their classmates does the GA review and other editors need to come along and demote the article.
I do not know what to measure. I hope the outcomes that the project has seen in subject areas other than medicine and psychology are a lot better than the ones I saw on the medicine and psychology articles. Will I think collaborations with school has potential it needs to be done carefully, slowly and sustainable. How to achieve this I do not know. Unless we build up a pool of long term editors to instruct the new students on editing Wikipedia? (it would have been nice if previous students would teach new students but the previous students have not continued editing). Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 04:00, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
I agree with your comments. There have been multiple discussions on this page about how to measure the value of student contributions, and I don't think we have a consensus answer yet. I do think the WEF ought to devote some effort, when it has the budget to do so, to better ways of measuring the value and impact of courses. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:39, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
I am a huge supporter of the education program and I want it to succeed. I know that it is necessary to measure program successes to do outreach, but to win support of the Wikipedia community, I would also want to see program shortcomings directly and frankly quantified, assessed for impact, and addressed even if only to say, "this problem exists and no one yet has a plan to prevent it form happening again." Thanks for all your work! Blue Rasberry (talk) 12:09, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
I agree there are problems, and there certainly aren't any plans yet that can guarantee they won't happen again. It's definitely something the WEF will need to address. I suspect the WMF is going to be independently interested in the same issue, because the WEF is only for North America; the WMF is continuing to run all the other education programs, including ones that will affect en-wiki -- from the UK, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, for example. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:24, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
Let me just clarify something here: The only program the WMF is fully running is the Arab World program. We are still in transition with the U.S. and Canada programs to the WEF Mike mentioned, and the Brazil program is also in transition and working out the details with a potential institutional partner, Ação Educativa. The other 40+ programs around the world are run by chapters or volunteers in those countries. We at WMF provide support resources (brochure design files, support for the Education MediaWiki extension, help porting online trainings to other language Wikipedias, feedback on program plans, etc.), but the planning, implementation, and outcomes of those programs are the hard work of the chapter members and volunteers in those countries, not WMF.
In terms of who's responsible for addressing problems, how I see the division is whether it's a cross-country problem or whether it's a local problem. In other words, is that challenge something many programs face worldwide? If so, it's something we should help facilitate a discussion around solving those problems with multiple program leaders. If not, I firmly believe the local program leaders are vastly more qualified to address a challenge unique to their location than we are. They are the local experts, after all. In terms of the plagiarism problem specifically, we're working on some research around it and will hopefully have some more data next month. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 16:46, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification; I hadn't realized that other programs were generally locally run. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 17:48, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
Hi, Mike! Glad as always that you're on board (sorry that we seem to have lost your talents where they are sorely needed in other areas that are now failing).

But have you forgotten how often I pounded on those FAC noms to define acronyms on first occurrence :) Wiki Education Foundation (WEF), something I have been unable to discover (GAC) :) :)

I know we've discussed many times how misleading/outright false those measures of success are, Colin's analysis, Doc James' feedback, my experiences over the years, the extensive copyvio problems, impact on established editors, etc, so I won't belabor the point, as I'm sure you are aware of the many problems, and I know you are the best person to work towards addressing them. Best, always, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 12:18, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

You're right about the acronyms -- sorry! GAC is the Grant Advisory Committee, which is part of the new grant process that's been put in place over the last year or so. Re your other comments: yes, there's been plenty of discussion, and more is needed. It's genuinely hard to measure the success of one of these classes -- failures are relatively easy to assess, but being sure that a course was really a net positive takes more work. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:24, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
What jurisdiction is this in? Stuartyeates (talk) 05:57, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
The WEF is incorporated in the US, if that's what you're asking; we plan to incorporate in Canada too, so we can accept tax-free donations from Canadians. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:12, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
I was expecting a US state, aren't all legal entities in the US based in a state (or similar)? Stuartyeates (talk) 20:03, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
Yes; Delaware, in our case. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:12, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
Just to clarify - We are legally incorporated in Delaware, but will be operating both the U.S. and Canada education programs. In the near term we will be applying for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in the U.S. so we can accept donations that will be tax deductible for U.S. taxpayers (both individuals and non-profit/for-profit corporations). Accepting tax exempt donations from Canadian taxpayers will require a whole separate legal process that we have not yet begun. I hope this helps. Pjthepiano (talk) 23:35, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
Assuming that this Wiki Education Foundation is the successor organisation to the Education Board, could Wikipedia:Education Board please be updated with this information? Or clearly marked as no longer current if the Wiki Education Foundation isn't going to be reusing Education Board infrastructure. Stuartyeates (talk) 00:27, 1 August 2013 (UTC)
I think there's still a role for that page, but it's reduced now that the new organization is in place. I'll put a note there with a link to the public documents page. I would suggest we mark the subpages as no longer current, and rewrite the main page there to provide information about the WEF, links to it, and links to other relevant pages onwiki. Does that sound like the right approach? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:01, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
My concern is that every education-related page that is present and out of date is an opportunity for newbies to get lost and confused. Stuartyeates (talk) 07:44, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
Yes, more big changes here (just ignore the misleading edit summary). --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 21:15, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
Not sure what's misleading -- the bylaws were already linked, so I took out the wikitext version. PJ pointed out to me we needed to make the wikitext version match the actual bylaws we passed, but it seemed to me to be a waste of effort to make that version -- the text is selectable in the PDF version if someone wants to copy and paste, for example. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 21:58, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, I've struck that. It's not just newbies who get lost and confused trying to figure out what's going on. I saw that the by-laws called the organization a "membership corporation" (albeit with a membership reduced to board members only), and had in mind your long explanations as to why it simply couldn't be a membership organization... But I see that was in the wiki version of the by-laws posted on April 9 already. Still, if you kept a wiki version we *would* easily be able to see what changes there were to the by-laws. Copying and pasting is rather difficult. And any further changes will also be made opaque. Call me a sad old traditionalist, but I think there's a point to doing things the wiki way. Anyhow, I apologize for my mistake. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 04:58, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
I hadn't thought about the ability to see changes; that's a good point. If I have a redline from the prior version I'll put that up; if not, I should be able to do that for future changes, at least. I take your point about a wiki version, but it really is a lot of work -- I've no objection to one existing but don't want to be responsible for ensuring it's accurate. Re the membership organization: the bylaws were written the way they are so that we could get incorporated, since AffCom told us it would be OK to start out that way and decide to change our bylaws to a membership organization later, in order to affiliate. We are still hoping that they will agree to let us affiliate with the current bylaws, but that's not settled yet (and I haven't been part of the most recent discussions there, so I don't know the latest update). If they decide not to let us affiliate with the current bylaws we'll have to decide whether affiliation is worth enough to us that we should accept the costs of being a membership organization. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:00, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for this. I'm assuming that the bylaws are going to change only infrequently, and so maintaining a wiki version shouldn't be so much work. Am I wrong? --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 18:16, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
No, you're probably right. The main trouble will be fixing the formatting, which will come across without any indenting or numbering or paragraphing; all of that will need to be preserved. I'll commit to the redlines, at least, and when the next change happens I will see if I can start a wikitext version. Part of the problem is that in order to be sure the new version is correct, I really should paste in the new version, not just edit the old wikitext, so all the reformatting would have to be done again. For changes that affect only a couple of paras that shouldn't be an issue, though. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 22:08, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
@Stuart: I've marked the subpages of the old Education Board page as historical, since I'm not planning on keeping them current; and as Stuart says, less is probably more here. The WEF does need some sort of presence on-wiki, I think, beyond just posting announcements and answering questions here, so I kept the main page and trimmed it down to a bare bones sentence or two for now. That's where I think WEF-related information can go. My own opinion is that we shouldn't expend too much effort on fleshing out that page -- the focus of attention should be on the Education Program itself, which is a community activity and is not owned by the WEF. The WEF is a resource to assist with making the EP run smoothly. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 22:04, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
  • I put a link to this announcement at meta:Talk:Wikimedia_Thematic_Organizations#Added_US-Canada_education_program. Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:51, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
    I presume that a a link to this report was also left at "an appropriate high-visibility area like the Village Pump," as per the Wikimedia Foundation Grants Program's terms for approval. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 21:15, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
    No, my bad. I completely forgot about that part of the terms. I've posted a note now and will do so for each update in future; thanks for the reminder. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 21:12, 11 August 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment I think the education programs are great. We should be encouraging more collaboration between educational institutions and the Foundation. Having said that, I would like to see all instructors recite the following to their students at the beginning of each course.

    Copyright violations can cause legal problems for the Wikimedia Foundation. Please do not copy text from somewhere and place it on Wikipedia. Also, please do not copy text, change a few words and place it on Wikipedia. Both of these things can cause legal problems for the Wikimedia Foundation. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

    This is short, simple and gets the point across. If the students understand the problems up front, they will be less likely to inadvertently cause problems. Regards. (talk) 23:36, 11 August 2013 (UTC)
    • Not exactly true. Students (or anyone) are allowed to copy text from sources that are in public domain or compatible copyleft license as long as they give proper attributions to the source. OhanaUnitedTalk page 20:10, 12 August 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Wcdst3 (talk)


William Daw, Jennifer Needham, Edward Galloway, David Grinnell


University of Pittsburgh

Course title and description

Undergraduate internships in the University of Pittsburgh Library System in conjunction with the History Department of the School of Arts and Sciences.

Assignment plan

These two history undergrad students will be interning at the Special Collections Department and Archives Service Center of the University of Pittsburgh Library System. They will be using materials from our collections to improve Wikipedia entries on topics that relate to Pittsburgh historical events and figures. We may have them try and complete one new article before by the end of the semester. They will also be editing pages that relate to their own interests and studies to get started.

Number of students


Start and end dates

August - December, 2013

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Wcdst3 (talk) 17:57, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

I met with these folks a few weeks ago, and I can support this project as an ambassador. @Wcdst3: I'll go ahead and set the course instructor right for your account; the others should create their accounts if they have not already done so, and then leave a message here, and I'll get them set up as well.--ragesoss (talk) 18:10, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

@Ragesoss: please add me as an instructor. JaxonGuy (talk) 18:30, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

@JaxonGuy: Thanks for posting. Please also enable email on your account.--ragesoss (talk) 18:35, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

@Ragesoss: please also add me as an instructor.Juniper4053 @Ragesoss: please also add me as an instructor.Kirkcudbrightshire (talk) 18:16, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

Using this noticeboard/Wikipedia to link instructors with Wikipedian ambassadors

I'm thinking we could use a maintained list of ambassadors so we can copy/paste them in posts here when an instructor pops up and desires an ambassador. That way we can ping everyone. Do we have an updated list? We could place it above in this noticeboard so people can copy/paste when necessary. Biosthmors (talk) 09:10, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

The only maintained list of ambassadors at this point is the people listed at Special:OnlineVolunteers. It would be relatively simple to program a bot scrape the list of volunteers from there and update an on-wiki list for pinging purposes, though.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:45, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

Call for ambassadors

Please consider signing up for these courses:

Journalism: I'm currently in search of two ambassadors who would like to sign on to my semester-long journalism safety/freedom of speech project (COMM 192: Intro to Mass Communication). For this project, students write about notable journalists (sometimes events involving journalists) who have been killed while reporting or killed, imprisoned or sent into exile because of their reporting. In addition to bio writing, students fill in infoboxes or incident boxes for attacks and create maps. Ambassadors will typically field Wikipedia-related questions from students who are mostly in their freshman or sophomore year and offer them help or tips on policy, technical and cultural/behavioral issues. We do work with Wikipedians who are active in this area and on the lists of killed journalists (e.g. List of journalists killed in Mexico) Crtew (talk) 15:54, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Photography: In addition, ambassadors may want to also consider signing up for my current fall semester Digital Photography course, which is more limited in length (a matter of two or three weeks on the assignment). Students will be illustrating several Wikipedia articles each. They will be finding articles that are in need of illustration or may use current images request categories to get ideas. Some students may want to brainstorm with an experienced Wikipedian. After the photo shoot and photo editing, these students may need help with questions about uploading, filling in copyright forms (easy because they will be the creators), or placing images with captions in an article. This assignment requires knowledge of Wikimedia Commons as well as Wikipedia. The majority of these students should have had COMM 192 (see above) and will have some prior experience with Wikipedia. Crtew (talk) 15:54, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Online journalism: If this subject matter appeals to you (see my last two entries above), I'm looking for assistance in my project with Wikinews English in the spring semester (starts in January - ends in late April). Advanced students combine skills from the previous two courses with original reporting and write/create multimedia stories about current news events for a global audience. Last time, the course generated content that attracted over well over 100,000 views by the end of the semester. Knowledge of Wikipedia policy, technical knowledge, skills and culture, as well as those sisters Wikimedia Commons and Wikinews, is required. Wikinews has an entirely different culture and behavioral expectations in comparison with other sister projects. If you're interested in this project, please leave me a message at my talk page! Crtew (talk) 15:54, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
I suggest you ask at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Journalism and Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Photography, where you'll get exposure to more editors with established interests in these areas. Stuartyeates (talk) 19:40, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

you'll get exposure to more editors with established interests in these areas

[citation needed] on your comment of "you'll get exposure to more editors". This board gets more viewers (about 7900 views for past 3 months) than the other two (at 3690 for Journalism and 780 for Photography). Crtew is asking help at the right place (i.e. here) because he's looking for ambassadors, not just general opinion on selected articles. OhanaUnitedTalk page 21:28, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for taking my quote out of context. "you'll get exposure to more editors" == "you'll get exposure to more editors with established interests in these areas". Nowhere did I mention not posting here. Stuartyeates (talk) 22:13, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: User:UMChemProfessor (talk)


Anne McNeil


University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)

Course title and description

Chem 540: Organic Principles. It is a graduate-level course on physical organic chemistry.

Assignment plan

I plan to continue using a Wikipedia editing project which I started in 2009 and have implemented in five different semesters, improving it each year. In short, the students are assigned to groups of 2-3. They select a topic in Chemistry, and make additions to the site (and/or start a new page). The minimum they are required to do is revise the intro section to make it accessible to the general public, add 3 new sections, 3 original figures, and 10 references. However, they often do much much more. I incorporate two levels of peer- and instructor-level review, at an outline stage and final stage. Check out my user page for examples of past sites that were edited as part of my courses.


We are fortunate to have Ye Li as our local librarian and ambassador

Number of students

about 40

Start and end dates

September 2013 until December 2013

UMChemProfessor (talk) 18:23, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

Does 'Ye Li' have a wikipedia account? Stuartyeates (talk) 21:53, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Yes. She is ChemLibrarian UMChemProfessor (talk) 13:18, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
User:UMChemProfessor, I have granted you the user right. Thank you for your contributions, and I look forward to seeing your class' work. Best wishes. Biosthmors (talk) 09:17, 19 August 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Theredproject (talk)


Michael Mandiberg



Course title and description

History of Design and Digital Media. 200 level undergraduate course. All writing assignments, including final, will be on Wikipedia. See example here from two years ago: [41]

Assignment plan

See assignment here: [42]

Number of students


Start and end dates

Aug 28 - Dec 15

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Theredproject (talk) 22:55, 19 August 2013 (UTC)

Done. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 04:14, 23 August 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

Wikipedia program in Korea

Saw something i believe people here can/may wish to help with. Please see starting a Teaching with Wikipedia program in Korea -- Moxy (talk) 03:01, 23 August 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Rbricker (talk)


Saint Louis University in Saint Louis, Missouri University of North Georgia

Course title and description

Biol 512: Signal Transduction

Assignment plan

User:Rbricker/Fall 2013

Number of students
Start and end dates

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Rbricker (talk) 20:18, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

User:Rbricker, what is your relationship to User:Biolprof and User:Biolprof/Signal Transduction Spring 2013, which seems to be the same course? Blue Rasberry (talk) 21:28, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

That was me starting a template course page during a Skype chat. User:Rbricker, maybe we can make some edits together to the course page and meet on Skype one more time before we approve the request. Perhaps tomorrow. Did you go through Wikipedia:Training/For educators already? Best. Biosthmors (talk) 23:07, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
Ah, I see the request was malformed somehow. The university is University of North Georgia. Biosthmors (talk) 23:09, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
And a ping to User:Bluerasberry. Biosthmors (talk) 23:13, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
And they now have the rights. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 20:22, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
Would you mind undoing that Kevin Rutherford? I was planning on granting them the right when I felt they are ready. Plus, are we normally going to give out user rights when requests aren't accurate? This relates to my question here. Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 07:41, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
Ah, and I just saw this. Is there a link available to that page? Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 07:47, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
Well I don't want to disrupt any process already initiated, but let's discuss for next time. Biosthmors (talk) 10:01, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
Sorry about that, I didn't even see this. I wouldn't remove anything now, as classes are going to start up soon, and it would be disruptive, now that they probably have plans to use them. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 16:45, 22 August 2013 (UTC)

Grading classes on quality?

In an ideal world, because the quality of output is a concern (Wikipedia:Education Working Group/RfC), it seems like there should be a mechanism for Ambassadors/Wikipedians to publish on Wikipedia an evaluation of classroom performance. That could serve as a way to enable discussion with the instructor, document issues, and enable future iterations of the class (and potentially other classes) to continue improve upon their understanding of the assignment and Wikipedia itself. I don't feel like there's any good way to keep track of this.

At the core, I guess the most important thing is to have Wikipedians working alongside instructors to begin with, so that their understanding is adequate and able to evolve. But even having a short paragraph at the end of a semester to summarize the good and what can be improved seems like a worthwhile effort. It would only take a matter of minutes for an ambassador to write. Biosthmors (talk) 10:26, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

I can see some value here, but wouldn't this suffer from the same problems as other attempts to evaluate the value of a class? Determining whether a contribution is valuable requires evaluating added text for plagiarism and close paraphrasing as well as for quality of writing and relevance of material. Or are you thinking of something more along the lines of a reflective paragraph, not an analysis of the work? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:16, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
It could get complicated fast when one takes into account all the variables, I agree. But I'm thinking the most value lies in quickly identifying the errors that can be prevented for the next class. For example, in the above section I mention the main problem I saw with the Circadian Bio class. Do we know how often these nuggets of wisdom get communicated to instructors during or after a semester? Biosthmors (talk) 12:42, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
I don't know; Jami might know, since she would be one of the possible conduits. Thinking back over some of the incidents we've had, there is a wide range of possible responses. I'm thinking of Steve Joordens, for example, who eventually understood what people were upset about -- but it took a phone conversation with a WMF staff member to get him to that point, and he didn't understand the comments when they came via the community. Is there more that should be done than reminding the ambassadors to let their professors know anything they think might be helpful? Ambassadors vary widely in their understanding of what it is professors actually do when they're giving a class, so that advice is going to be pretty variable in turn -- I don't mean to disparage any ambassadors, but I suspect truly useful advice is much more likely from someone who is familiar with academe. Perhaps I'm being too pessimistic here. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 22:21, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
I don't know if Steve Joordens finally "gets" it after so many years. We have to see what he will do in September for his 1900 student psychology class. But for this summer, I know he is gaming the system. I don't want to feed the trolls or give inspiration to others on how to break the rules so I will limit the amount of information I will be providing here. Rest assured that the foundation and Jami are aware of this behaviour during my visit to their office in early June. OhanaUnitedTalk page 04:14, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
I'll confess that I still have no idea why this particular case doesn't count as Wikipedia:Sock_puppetry and get the entire institution blocked for the duration of the course. Stuartyeates (talk) 19:42, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
Because it's not Steve Joordens per se that is teaching the summer course (which has less than 30 students, not the 1900 student mega class). Instead, he passed the teaching duties of that course to his grad student. Blocks to his classes may be suitable but not the entire institution because blocks are not punitive (hence not applicable to entire institution/campus/department) and technically impossible to implement (it's a commuter campus so even implementing an IP block on the campus doesn't really stop things in its tracks). I am more inclined to use the "wait and see" approach for his mega class that will return next month. If he stops doing it for his mega classes then I think we may finally put the matters to rest. OhanaUnitedTalk page 19:59, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
Mike Christie, to give you an example of what I'm talking about, see Talk:Piracy in the Atlantic World. I copied and pasted an email I sent recently that contains some of these "nuggets of wisdom". When you said I suspect truly useful advice is much more likely from someone who is familiar with academe, I guess I'd quibble with you when it comes to how to improve Wikipedia quality. The scholarship over at Piracy in the Atlantic World might be impeccable, but it does contain some disservices to readers that we should look to avoid on the next go round, in my opinion. Biosthmors (talk) 09:45, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Hmm. I had a quick look at that page, and your comments. Honestly, I think that's a great article, even if it's not quite in the standard Wikipedia format. Indeed, at points the fact that it isn't is to its benefit. It would be hard to call it an "essay." It's very much what we (academics) would think of as an encyclopedia article.
As someone who has written articles for encyclopedias, I'm often surprised at what Wikipedia editors sometimes claim to be "not encyclopedic." For instance, you say: "Consider this sentence: 'Hans Turley looks to the literary evidence of Pirates, and in particular Captain Avery, when drawing the conclusion of the pirate as the "antihero."' I don't think this would be found in a print encyclopedia entry on the topic." I think this is exactly the kind of sentence that would be found in a print encyclopedia. I'm a little baffled that you should think otherwise.
OK, so the article needs a lede, to fit into Wiki style. And there's some stuff that could be offloaded to other articles (and replaced with summary style). But as far as a net positive contribution to Wikipedia? This is it! --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 18:21, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Oh, and I'd also say: I don't think I'd take your feedback particularly well. Frankly, if I were the professor in question, I'd think I'd done my job, and done it pretty well. If Wikipedians want to construct a lede, or add summary style, then that's up to them. You know, in the interaction between Wikipedia and academia, there has to be a bit of give and take both ways. This is honestly a good result. And it's something from which Wikipedia could learn: how "real" encyclopedia articles are written. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 18:26, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Fair enough jbmurray. Thanks for your feedback. Maybe I was a bit too nit-picky. I do think the article was a net plus for the encyclopedia. But to me, WP:LEAD and WP:SS are such simple concepts why not explain them so that they'll hopefully get transferred to the students and make the class/Wikipedia that much better? That's my main point. I grew up with World Books so based on my memory of them it seems excessively wordy. But that's fine. I'm sure there is a range of print encylopedias, and I have a lot to learn about their nuances. Biosthmors (talk) 21:35, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Did you get any response from the professor? I only glanced at the article, but your comments looked very helpful to me; however, I think professors sometimes are interested in different feedback than a community editor might be. For example, you or I want to know how to make an article better -- closer to a perfect article. A professor might want to know if the students met the course goals, which might be to learn about the material. So long as their students leave the article in better shape than when they found it, I can see some professors having no interest in following up and improving the article -- they're not going to do that themselves, and their students have finished the class. So I'm curious to know what the professor's response was to your comments. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:00, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Mike, I can report back later. I sent the email yesterday. I understand professors sometimes might not be interested in learning the different ways their assignments can improve Wikipedia. But that should be why they are here – to both facilitate learning and improving Wikipedia. "Better shape" is probably too low of bar. If an article only gets marginally better but then costs the community in volunteer time and effort, then it could be a net negative for the encyclopedia. We need to help ensure assignments significantly improve Wikipedia quality, in my opinion. Biosthmors (talk) 12:38, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
I should also mention that they are planning to re-run the class this coming semester. So I wanted to give some advice for how to view the encyclopedia more knowledgeably. Biosthmors (talk) 12:42, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
I agree about the trade off between quality and volunteer effort. I'll be interested to see what response you get. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 14:05, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
Well no response yet, Mike Christie. Maybe I should follow up with an email that offers help but downplays my emphasis on the ways things could be improved. Also, I think one of the most useful things an ambassador can do is help design a course page with the instructor. This happened with this course, from working together on Skype, for example. That's a main example of something I would point to that shows how ambassadors can be remarkably useful. Biosthmors (talk) 10:30, 23 August 2013 (UTC)
Hey, guys. Sorry I missed this conversation a few weeks ago! I just wanted to say I agree that having too rigid measures of success could be very limiting. I think the program does and can contribute to Wikipedia in more ways than "this new article has a lede, 15 reliable sources, balanced points of view, etc.". Even the diversity it brings via female students is incredibly exciting with a lot of potential, so I'd be wary of bringing one person in to evaluate a class based on their own interests and agenda. I think if we ever decide to roll something like this out, even if it has a ton of different variables assessing the class, we need to simultaneously roll out an evaluation for the student learning component. After all, that's what brings profs here in the first place and why using Wikipedia in the classroom is a valuable tool. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 19:48, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Education Working Group pages are now historical?

I believe that the pages under Wikipedia:Education Working Group are now historical. I'm planning on tagging them with


Objections? Stuartyeates (talk) 20:29, 22 August 2013 (UTC)

That should be fine, as far as I know. Thanks, JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 22:17, 22 August 2013 (UTC)
I tweaked it. Anyone want to make it have a red font backdrop and place it on each of the subpages? Biosthmors (talk) 10:40, 23 August 2013 (UTC)
Done. Biosthmors (talk) 11:39, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for doing that; I agree that the change is a good one and I should have been quicker to get it done. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 17:27, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
You're welcome and thanks to Stuartyeates as well. Biosthmors (talk) 08:08, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
And no big deal anyways, Mike. Best. Biosthmors (talk) 15:31, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

Sandbox link in education extension

User:Sage Ross (WMF), I'd like to follow up with this (thanks again). I noticed when looking here that we have a link to "sandboxes", and that the link always appears blue, and might link to somewhere with links, or might not. Could we simplify it by changing it to "sandbox" and only link to the user's sandbox? That way we could see quickly (red vs. blue) whether or not the students have used their sandbox. Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 11:20, 25 August 2013 (UTC)

@Biosthmors: That would be possible, but I don't think that's the best way to set it. Some classes will specifically use the sandbox (and many users will create a sandbox during the training... especially once I add a simple interactive sandbox section a la WP:The Wikipedia Adventure). But many students will have sandboxes in different locations or have multiple sandboxes. Linking to the list of all subpages for each student will be more generally useful (although I see how it doesn't help as much for your specific use case). I'll see if I can figure out how to hide the link if the user has no sandboxes (but no promises).--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:09, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply Sage. Well for the classes I've helped, I've only seem them use the one sandbox. But you've been doing this longer. I'm not sure how TWA will work, but could it just be set up to interact with the user's sandbox? It just seems logical/efficient to have the one link: "sandbox" go directly to the place where most students will be working on their skills/content. Over at WP:STUDENTS, for example, we have this instruction: If you plan to edit an existing article but you want to practice with test edits first, then copy and paste the article into [[Special:MyPage/sandbox|your sandbox]] for practice. It seems like {{Course page 2}} and Wikipedia:Training/For_students/Sandbox_edits_for_existing_articles could be more helpful in saying "your sandbox" and linking the same way, so as to assist and usher students exactly to where they can start practicing. I wonder what % of students use multiple sandboxes. Biosthmors (talk) 16:52, 25 August 2013 (UTC)

Course instructor

Could someone grant me the course instructor right so I can see how it works so that I can provide more useful advice? Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 10:29, 26 August 2013 (UTC)

You may grant this to yourself.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 01:35, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

request for course instructor rights

I am requesting course instructor rights. I teach RSCH 150, Information Research Techniques at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, OH. I will have my students find sources for stub or start articles. I will either have my students edit the stub or start article or I will have them post summaries of the sources (with citations) on the talk pages of the articles. I have less than 10 students enrolled. Csheetz (talk) 19:44, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Csheetz (talk)


Chris Sheetz


Lorain County Community College

Course title and description

RSCH 150, Information Research Techniques: covers basic information literacy skills, first and second year undergraduates, student's course project will be to add 10 sources to the talk page of their chosen article. I have requested a WikiAmbassador and I'm waiting to hear back from him.

Assignment plan

student's course project will be to summarize 10 sources to the talk page of their chosen article. In the future I may expand to students editing the articles.

Number of students


Start and end dates

Aug 26- Oct 20, 2013

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Csheetz (talk) 20:05, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

Making Fall 2013 Course appear on Drake's course page

Hello - I'm teaching my second round of Global Youth Studies at Drake University with the able help of editor User:Gobonobo and campus ambassador User:DrakeLibrarian. I have been working on my course page (still editing, you can see I couldn't get the internal link to work), which I created by using the add link and the course page wizard. However, the course does not appear on my institution's course page and often there is an indication that it is not integrated into WP (don't know how else to put it). I hesitate to recreate the course. Any suggestions? Also, could you help me with the internal link? Thank youProf.Vandegrift (talk) 16:18, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

@Prof.Vandegrift: I see your course here: Education Program:Drake University/Global Youth Studies (Fall 2013). (You can make an internal link to it by copying the title as it appears at the top of the page and putting double square brackets around it.) The corresponding institution page is here: Education Program:Drake University, and your course shows up for me. (It appears twice; this is a bug in our software.) The institution page may show you a cached version of the page that doesn't reflect recent changes (such as the addition of your new course). If you are viewing a cached page, you'll see a small gray message under the title, which contains a link to clear the cache. If there are still problems, please let me know and I will try to pin down the issues and document the bugs so we can fix them.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:01, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
@Sage Ross (WMF): Many thanks! Fingers crossed! Prof.Vandegrift (talk) 17:04, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

Wiki Education Foundation update August update

The Wiki Education Foundation's most recent board meeting was on 8/20/13, and there are some updates I would like to pass along. First, we are temporarily suspending our application to the Affiliations Committee (AffCom) for affiliation. We are doing so because it has become clear from our discussions with AffCom that there would have to be very substantial changes to our bylaws in order to be granted affiliation status. Addressing those issues at this time would draw the Board's time and energy away from its work on other issues that are central to the organization's mission. We still regard affiliation as desirable and plan to revisit this issue in the future.

Second, our bylaws divide the board into Wikipedian members, educator members, and appointed members. In order to begin preparing for elections to the board, we've slotted each current board member as one of these classes: Mike Christie and Richard Knipel are Wikipedians; Bob Cummings, Chanitra Bishop and Diana Strassmann are educators; PJ Tabit and Annie Lin are appointed. Our current plan is to hold elections yearly in July, with two Wikipedian and one educator slot coming up next summer, and the remaining one Wikipedian and two educator slots in July 2015. The appointed board members will have terms that last two years from the last motion on the board appointing them, and will come up for renewal (or not, as the case may be) when the two year term expires.

The board is required to have at least seven and no more than eleven directors. We have exactly seven, so if anyone leaves we will have to immediately appoint someone to fill the vacant slot in order to be in compliance with the bylaws. In order to avoid this problem we're considering appointing more members, but this wasn't fully discussed and no decisions were taken. Any comments on this point (or any of the above) would be welcome.

-- Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:23, 22 August 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for the update, by the way. Biosthmors (talk) 08:51, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

Request a new course instructor

Course from Bowling Green State University - Topic: Feminist, Technology and American Culture (course number ACS 3000/ WS 3000)

Number of students - 30

The class is fully online.

Students will be editing wikipedia - doing at least one edit a week. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Cyberdivalive (talkcontribs) 20:40, 27 August 2013 (UTC)

You're going to need to provice us with more information, as this does not explain much. Also, can we have your name so that we can confirm that you are a professor? Thanks. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 23:57, 30 August 2013 (UTC)

Bug in updating course info after page creation

I was trying to correct the term section and add field of study for Education Program:Bishop's University/Memory, truth and reconciliation in the developing world (2013). Seems like my actions are logged but they are not saved. I already tried purging the page already. Is there a reason why the information failed to flow through? OhanaUnitedTalk page 02:52, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

@OhanaUnited: I think this is the unresolved mystery of T47506. As a workaround, you can try putting in a different term (such as by adding a hyphen instead of a space) and see if it works. I'll look into it further tomorrow, when the patch for page histories gets deployed and we can see whether your edits were creating new revisions.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:01, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
Ok the term gets updated as per your suggested instruction. But field of study isn't saved. OhanaUnitedTalk page 02:30, 29 August 2013 (UTC)
@OhanaUnited: I just tried changing the field of study (I took a guess and put "International studies") and it saved successfully. What were you trying to put in as the correct one? I suspect that it's the same bug that makes it accept some values for term but not others.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:27, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
I tried putting in "history" today. Again, action was logged but not saved. OhanaUnitedTalk page 17:59, 30 August 2013 (UTC)

Gaya College of Engineering

Looks like there's a project from India -- I'm not aware of it and haven't found any info at WT:INB either, but I'm guessing someone here might be aware of it. This edit is what alerted me to it, there are some creations in project space too, so it appears that there's been some instruction to the students but there's likely a large communication gap. Can someone who has the ability to handle this situation please do so? cheers. —SpacemanSpiff 09:48, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Atavel (talk)


Angelica Tavella


University of California Berkeley

Course title and description

title: Politics of Digital Piracy subjects covered: copyright law, power, surveillance, hacking, p2p technology, art and free culture, code, science, government, and the future. students: all year of undergraduates, occasional graduate students work with Wiki: the course will have projects, one of which is to make a significant contribution to a Wikipedia page of a related topic or create a new one. Also, all assignments and responses will be turned in via the course wiki.

Assignment plan

They will get their assignments, post responses and current events, and get feedback from their instructors on the course wiki.

Number of students

20 + (max. 20 online)

Start and end dates

09/04/2013- 12/04/2013

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Atavel (talk) 04:27, 31 August 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

You already have the necessary userrights to set up your course page from last semester. Ping me if anything seems to be broken. Kevin Gorman (talk) 05:50, 31 August 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor rights: Spitzer


Brian Spitzer


University of Redlands

Course title and description

Biological Evolution (BIOL 353): This course covers modern evolutionary theory at the molecular level, the level of organismal structure and function, and the level of the species and above. It emphasizes the use of reasoning skills and evolutionary concepts to solve problems. This is a writing-intensive course, so it will also cover how to find relevant scientific papers and extract information from them, how to write an article following the norms of scientific discourse, and how to revise one's own writing.

The writing-intensive part of this course will involve writing and revising two short articles or parts of articles for Wikipedia, on minor evolutionary topics that are currently inadequately covered in Wikipedia.

I haven't found a Wikipedia Ambassador and would appreciate guidance on how to do that.

Assignment plan

I'm following the progression of assignments in "The Syllabus: a 12-week assignment to write a Wikipedia article", with one major change. I'd like the students to get two chances to do the entire article-writing process (so that they can immediately practice whatever lessons they learned while writing the first article). For that reason, I'm choosing smaller, more specific topics, and compressing the writing process from eight weeks to five. Then we'll repeat the process of choosing a topic and writing an article for the final five weeks of the course.

I've compiled a list of about fifty potential topics: stubs, topics without any Wikipedia entries, and articles or parts of articles that are very undeveloped.

Number of students

The class is capped at 20; so far, I've got 16.

Start and end dates

The class meets for 80 minutes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, starting on Sept. 4 and ending on Dec. 9.

I've posted on Brian's talk page, but he still needs the course instructor user right (User:Brian spitzer). Thanks! JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 18:58, 3 September 2013 (UTC)
One thing that I want to make sure the instructor is aware of is that, where evolution crosses paths with creationism and intelligent design, it encounters one of the more contentious POV disputes on Wikipedia. Thought should be given to avoid putting students in the middle of such disputes unless they are really prepared to deal with it. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:43, 3 September 2013 (UTC)
Good reminder. When I hear back from him (or if he communicates here instead), we can talk him through this. Any OAs interested in helping navigate this should definitely sign on. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 21:42, 3 September 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Tarcho325 (talk)

Not done

Course title and description
Assignment plan
Number of students
Start and end dates

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Tarcho325 (talk) 01:58, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

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Please fill in the requested information. OhanaUnitedTalk page 03:38, 4 September 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Wikirishiwiki (talk)


Marcy Newman


Rishi Valley School

Course title and description

Wiki@Rishi is the name of our course. Our students are 9th through 11th standard high school students working on our school web page Rishi Valley School

Assignment plan

We plan to rewrite the Rishi Valley School webiste as well as update related pages, including Jiddu Krishnamurti and a new page that does not yet exist for G.V. Subba Rao.

(I believe there are other articles too - eg. Punganur cattle Shyamal (talk))
Number of students


Start and end dates

June 2013 until March 2014. @OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Wikirishiwiki (talk) 05:13, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

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Hmm, Education Program, India, high school. Does those keywords sound familiar? OhanaUnitedTalk page 00:29, 11 August 2013 (UTC)
The Rishi Valley School is one of the world's foremost nontraditional boarding schools (particularly for its school philosophy), but I'm not in a position to compare their ability to the IEP issues of yore. I am, though, fairly familiar with both the school and Krishnamurti (his philosophy and biography), and would be willing to work with this instructor and class. czar · · 19:14, 11 August 2013 (UTC)
User:Czar, how would you tackle this challenge? You may have the willingness and passionate to guide the students but without good execution it can easily turn into yet another failure for education programs (EP) in India. You will be dealing with high school students whose writing skills will be on the low end of not just the participants in EP (who are university students) but also Wikipedia in general. I noticed that you haven't participated in ambassador roles before, which would make this your first time if approved. Also, on your userpage you identified yourself as a Wikipedian in Long Island which suggests that your role, if successful, would be an online ambassador. India is half a world away and you will undoubtly encounter time zone issues that hinders your assistance. I am just concerned that all of these issues mentioned may be just too many obstacles to overcome. OhanaUnitedTalk page 20:29, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
True, I'm still in a holding pattern on the new ambassador page, and I'd want to Skype with the adviser to get a feel for the group's (and her own) experience and ambitions before committing outright for a whole semester, but I suppose I'm just not afraid of keeping an open dialogue with them and being honest about what is and isn't surmountable. I'd strongly advise the teacher to draft locally with students and then only go online in draft space, as there's no need to edit directly in article space until the class's contributions are ready. There will be no net neg for the encyclopedia as long as the assignment helps students better understand WP and as inexperienced editors keep unvetted drafts out of mainspace. Re: time differences—Rishi Valley is a boarding school, so I think we'd be able to work something out if they wanted it enough. I'm currently an education grad student and versed in the class's intended subject area, so I thought it'd be a good first project. Even if the course request is denied, I'd still be interested in working with them as an individual outside of the wiki ed program because this type of work (especially with younger students) is important to me. czar · · 17:18, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
User:Czar, thanks for the offer of assistance. I have visited the school and have run them through some of the essentials of Wikipedia policies, copyright, plagiarism, research, citations and basic editing. The duration of this project is short and it is only a small bunch of students who have volunteered for this weekend-only program. This is an independent and short term internal school project that has nothing to do with the IEP program or Wikimedia Foundation/India Chapter. Shyamal (talk) 10:54, 17 August 2013 (UTC)
  • Question: Would you care to comment on how getting school students to edit the article for their school stands with respect to our guideline on conflict of interest? Stuartyeates (talk) 20:12, 11 August 2013 (UTC)
    Yeah, this isn't exactly the best idea, considering most of the edits have not been to Wikipedia standards.—Ryulong (琉竜) 09:08, 17 August 2013 (UTC)
Having visited the school and having discussed Wikipedia and its policies, the students are aware of CoI and the article about the school is not the only article on their list but just a starting point. The students will be researching and citing published resources and trying to produce balanced articles. Even if they have not been able to edit well so far, I believe they need to be given a chance to improve. This project has nothing to do with the IEP program and does not involve any WMF funds. More importantly it appears that they encounter frequent autoblocking presumably because the school computers run via a web proxy server (with multiple editors sharing an IP) and an autoblock exemption might be very useful for this account of Marcy. (See Wikipedia:Administrators'_noticeboard#School_proxy_autoblock) Shyamal (talk) 10:46, 17 August 2013 (UTC)
  • Some of the problems with the IEP are not intrinsic to the IEP or its (mis)management, namely ESL, the culturally lax attitude to copying and the Indian education system. Do these students have the written English skills to contribute to Wikipedia effectively? MER-C 02:41, 18 August 2013 (UTC)
While we wait for Marcy's response I can add that one of the aims of this Wikipedia project aims is to improve the writing skills of the students. Marcy who is making this request is their English teacher (and a native speaker of English if I may add). Shyamal (talk) 03:28, 18 August 2013 (UTC)

I'm not sure what to do with the tone and sarcasm above about our students. If you don't want to include students at this level or in this country, I suppose that is up to the Wiki people. But as the teacher of the course I would hope that the spirit of Wikipedia--particularly the idea of inclusion--would be open to expanding participants rather than shutting them out. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Wikirishiwiki (talkcontribs) 06:28, 23 August 2013 (UTC)

Hello Wikirishiwiki, and I'm sorry for the tone here. Let me go ahead and clarify what I think is behind it, if you don't mind. I've heard that in India (and even a student from India told me himself) that there are gigantic cultural difference in regards to copyright and plaigarism. Are you aware of what a copyright violation is, in terms of what is allowed and not allowed on Wikipedia? Sorry again. Biosthmors (talk) 11:10, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for your response. Certainly there are cultural differences between the west and India. But you cannot say across the board that all Indians have a particular view about copyright and plagiarism. I find it problematic that you would take one Indian's view and decide that all Indians share his view. Yes I am aware of what copyright violation is (for the record I am a published author) and we are working with someone from Wikipedia in Bangalore who has instructed our students about what is and is not allowed on the Wikipedia page. Wikirishiwiki 05:02, 2 September 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Wikirishiwiki (talkcontribs)
Hello again Wikirishiwiki. Well it wasn't just one person who I've heard that from... =) But no worries. I'm not placing a value judgment on any potential cultural differences. I just want good Wikipedia content. That's great they have been instructed on copyright. I assume they are subject to harsh penalties on their assignment if they violate any copyright? Best regards. Biosthmors (talk) 10:24, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

Campus Ambassador application: arashtitan

arashtitan (talk · contribs)

  1. Why do you want to be a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    Wikipedia has pushed the boundaries and became the top source for quick searches without charging a cent. Participating as a volunteer contributor and monitoring the articles is how we pay our tribute to this community which brought a world information together that available for everybody. In addition, research is a priority in the contemporary era; knowing the fundamental of research methods and contributing in writing articles whether scientific or about local matters is very important.
  2. Where are you based, and which educational institution(s) do you plan to work with as a Campus Ambassador?
    I live in Iran and I would like to spread the contribution to WP community among students and staffs at Shahid Chamran University and Iran Language Institute.
  3. What is your academic and/or professional background?
    I have a BS in Business Information Technology from Staffordshire University and a BA in Language Translation & Interpretation from Shahid Chamran University.
  4. In three sentences or less, summarize your prior experience with Wikimedia projects.
  5. What else should we know about you that is relevant to being a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    In addition to business life, I am a researcher (with major interest in communication, management, and critical analysis) and complied various articles and papers about research methods, which means I am familiar with proper referencing and distinguishing plagiarism in different forms.

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Arash Titan 08:32, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

Hi, User:arashtitan. I'm not aware of a Wikipedia Education Program that exists in Iran yet, but you may be interested in getting one started. I recommend you reach out to User:SOsterberg (WMF) to see if she (Sophie) can connect you with any relevant resources for starting an Education Program. Good luck! JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 18:45, 3 September 2013 (UTC)
User:arashtitan, thanks for posting here. Feel free to go out and start talking to professors or anyone in your community about Wikipedia. If you need help learning about Wikipedia, please don't hesitate to ask at the WP:Teahouse, here at WP:ENB, or at my talk page. Biosthmors (talk) 08:31, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: dray


Darla Anderson


California State University Northridge

Course title and description

Argumentation COMS 225 (course) and COMS 225L (lab)--This course is an introduction to cooperative argumentation, where collaboration and being open minded are considered necessary to critical thinking and reasoning. This course satisfies a CSU (system-wide) general education requirement. While the majority of enrolled students are freshmen and sophomores, about a quarter of the class are juniors and seniors.

The process of examining Wikipedia entries and contributing to Wikipedia fits in well with the student learning outcomes for this course and with the Communication Studies department's mission to "held students develop skills in human communication and civic engagement relative to diverse groups."

Not sure about the rest (what experienced editors or WikiProjects we'll be working on, etc.).

I'm new to Wikipedia, but my motivation to participate grew from a research project last semester arguing that contributing to Wikipedia is a form of feminist activism. After an email exchange with I spoke to Adrianne Wadewitz in April 2013, about the project last semester. She was extremely helpful about both technical and philosophical issues. That conversation and my subsequent research prompted me to attempt this project.

Assignment plan

I'm using "The Syllabus: A 12 week Assignment to write a Wikipedia article" as my basic plan, and will start with the first assignments in two weeks. At this point, the topics are open because I'd like some of that to be generated by the class.

Number of students


Start and end dates

The class meets once a week on Fridays for 3 hours beginning Friday, August 30, 2013,and ends Friday, Dec. 13, 2013.

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --dray 21:25, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

I've emailed Darla via her Wikipedia email address to seek more information/offer some support for the term. She still needs the course instructor user right for User:Dra onWP. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 18:52, 3 September 2013 (UTC)
To update the curious, that was granted the same day as shown at Special:UserRights/Dra_onWP. Biosthmors (talk) 10:14, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Tamar Carroll (talk)


Tamar Carroll.


Rochester Institute of Technology.

Course title and description

History 190: American Women's History. This is an undergraduate introductory survey course on U.S. women's history.

Assignment plan

Students will contribute to article stubs and/or write new biographical articles related to U.S. women's history.

Number of students

31 students

Start and end dates


@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Tamar Carroll (talk) 19:07, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

The user right has been granted per productive collaboration at User talk:Tamar Carroll. Biosthmors (talk) 20:34, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

Courses looking for Online Ambassadors

Hey, guys! It's that time of year again, and there are already some classes looking for online support. Some of the classes have very experienced professors or Campus Ambassadors, while some have new profs who are especially hoping for some online support. I figured I'd post some classes here who have specifically requested some online support so far, though please feel free to browse the classes and sign on to a class that you're most interested in!

If any of those sound doable, thank you so much for signing up. I'm sure more profs and I will post some other classes over the next week or two. Hope it's a fun semester! JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 22:28, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

PS, if you need any of the professors' contact info, let me know and I'll forward it on to you. Hopefully they're all responsive here and have their email notifications on, though! JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 22:29, 29 August 2013 (UTC)
I've added myself as an online volunteer for History of Torture, North Georgia and Cognitive Psychology, Davidson College. I also introduced myself on each professor's talk page. Frankcjones (talk) 17:02, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
Great Frankcjones, thanks. Sometimes professors are more willing to hear from Wikipedia ambassadors than others. Sometimes students don't ask many questions. Sometimes people are in fact dissatisfied with the "online ambassador" role because students don't reach out. What are your hopes and expectations? Best. Biosthmors (talk) 09:53, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Biosthmors, I don't have any specific hopes or expectations for these courses. I'm just here to help as needed. Frankcjones (talk) 16:21, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Got it! Biosthmors (talk) 17:37, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

We should ideally personally welcome all of those who take the training feedback seriously

We might do well to welcome the ones who take Wikipedia:Training/For_students/Training_feedback seriously with personalized messages. Aside from being a nice gesture for them giving thoughtful feedback, it might convince a few to stick around. Post here please if you've started (or have already been) doing so. Best. Biosthmors (talk) 08:46, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

FWIW, I think this is an excellent idea, and might even be a good opportunity for a controlled experiment where personalized messages are left for only every other student who leaves substantive feedback (and the others do not get a message).--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:29, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Very cool. Let me know how we might plot the future. Biosthmors (talk) 15:27, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

Bug/feature request already submitted?

Would that issue be fixed in successive iterations, based on what we've already requested at WP:Bugzilla? Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 11:06, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

I'm not sure what the issue is, except for confusion about the namespace. It won't be possible to move pages from the talk namespace into the main education program namespace, as they have different and incompatible data structures (just a plain wiki page versus a structured course page). We definitely do want to improve the extension (by building in a wizard and enabling section editing, etc) so that we don't need the current hack of creating and transcluding talk subpages via the {{course page wizard}}.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:25, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Elisabeth Prügl (talk)


Elisabeth Prügl


Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

Course title and description

Gender and International Affairs: This course surveys salient issues of injustice pertaining to gender and other status distinctions on a global scale. It introduces students to theoretical approaches from feminist and post-colonial theory. Combining factual information and theoretical approaches, students will gain an understanding of topics such as the racialized and gender faces of poverty, the intersections of masculinity and war-making, and gender-based violence. Emphasis is placed on exploring how international organizations, governments and civil society organizations have participated in defining and addressing these injustices. It is a graduate-level course. Students will be required to either improve existing entries or create new entries on the topical of gender and international affairs. They also will be required to write a reflective essay on the experience, which will form the basis for their evaluation. This is the first time I am using this assignment and, although my teaching assistants are currently training themselves, I hope to be able to identify a Wikipedia ambassador to make herself or himself available as a resource. (The Graduate Institute is located in Geneva, Switzerland, so this probably will have to happen online).

Assignment plan

Students will be required to either improve existing entries or create new entries on the topical of gender and international affairs. They also will be required to write a reflective essay on the experience, which will form the basis for their evaluation. This is the first time I am using this assignment and, although my teaching assistants are currently training themselves, I hope to be able to identify a Wikipedia ambassador to make herself or himself available as a resource. (The Graduate Institute is located in Geneva, Switzerland, so this probably will have to happen online).

Number of students


Start and end dates

September 23 to December 16

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Elisabeth Prügl (talk) 19:47, 8 September 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

Hello Elisabeth Prügl! Thanks for posting here. I'm in Geneva until December, I anticipate. So perhaps I can help somehow. I can send you an email to your University listed address. To enable Wikipedia editors the capability to send you email to an address, you can do that by (when logged in) clicking the "Preferences" tab at the top and then the "User profile" tab. That's good your graduate assistants are preparing themselves with WP:Training (there are trainings there). Best. Biosthmors (talk) 20:30, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
Granted. Biosthmors (talk) 14:46, 11 September 2013 (UTC)

Feminist "Wikistorming" program

This isn't my specialty but I was told the Education noticeboard is the place for this. This program has recently attracted some media attention. It was brought to my attention after a non-wikipedian I know showed me this FOX News article, which presents the program in a very negative light. There should probably be an effort from the WEP to engage with these people and avoid a bad outcome. Coming into wikipedia with an explicit ideological goal is tricky business, especially for inexperienced editors. Thanks! -- LWG talk 01:05, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

I appears that this program is being headed up by User:Wadewitz, who is involved here, so I apologize if this was old news. -- LWG talk 01:45, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
The Wikipedia component of their courses is indeed headed up by Adrianne Wadewitz. I've been in significant contact with her, and will be helping out. The fox news piece about the classes is possibly the worst "journalism" I've seen come out of fox news within the last few years, and that's really saying something. It completely misrepresents the purpose/aim of the assignment. I'm sure that as with any other group of 15 or 16 classes, we'll have a few classes perform poorly, but Adrianne definitely understand Wikipedia pretty freaking well, and most of the professors also seem to grasp the goal of Wikipedia quite well, and want only to help Wikipedia. Kevin Gorman (talk) 05:38, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Excellent. Glad to know this is in capable hands. -- LWG talk 14:41, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Please ask any questions you have! I'll gladly answer any of them! Wadewitz (talk) 16:32, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Are you keeping a list of media mentions about the program anywhere? If so, where could it be found? Blue Rasberry (talk) 16:51, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
We are keeping an archive on our own site here. Wadewitz (talk) 18:11, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
This is another reason I think we need a project-wide Wikipedia:VPI#Public_relations_noticeboard.3F (permalink). Maybe I'll be bold and create it soon. Biosthmors (talk) 07:47, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

A number of mentions are and will be at Wikipedia:Press coverage 2013. Also see Wikipedia:Wikipedia in the media. czar  03:50, 11 September 2013 (UTC)

Thanks Czar. Biosthmors (talk) 08:27, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

We should have a list

Of all ambassadors, potentially interested active editors, librarians, professors, etc. by region/username. Biosthmors (talk) 11:17, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

We've had a lot of pages like this in the past, but took an effort to minimize the number of pages and number of duplicated pages. I think the space within the extension for OAs and CAs is probably the best place for people to list their experience/interest. Of course, we still need to "advertise" those lists more to profs so they can connect better. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 20:08, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm thinking of one place that's much more comprehensive. Even volunteers who aren't active with the Education program but might want to know what's going around in their region, for example, could use the list. It could serve as a much more effective tool of the community than the OA and CA lists, in my opinion.
Something like Wikipedia:List of editors interested in or affiliated with assignments. There could be listings of people from every region, country, and even a subsection for people who just want to remain anonymous with "no region" specified. Biosthmors (talk) 08:07, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

Professors keeping an eye on articles their students have edited, because they assign it as required reading?

I do remember seeing this blog post, which is awesome. Along those lines, is anyone aware of an instructor keeping an eye on articles their students edited, because they assign it as required reading? If professors are actually engaged on Wikipedia making occasional reverts, contributions, and talk page comments, to the same articles their students have developed for course credit for course uses later, then I'd say that's the perfect outcome. If that ever happened, and if it spread, we'd have groups of guaranteed readers, expected quality content, engaged expert parties, etc. Biosthmors (talk) 11:29, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

The linked article seems to describe a coincidence and nothing more. The WP page mentioned isn't actually very high-quality—it's extremely jargon-laden and not footnoted well (though obviously in the right direction). I'm somewhat surprised that it was assigned as reading, unless perhaps it was meant for cursory understanding. I agree with you on the ideal outcome, but from my experience profs are too busy to add WP-editing to their already overbooked schedules. (But if you asked me, I'd shoot for getting grad students and teaching assistants to fulfill that role.) czar  19:18, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
I can't think of a definite example of what you're asking for, but plenty of professors assign the same group of articles (or recommend them) to students in another semester. This helps them build upon the work other students have started. Is there something you're hoping to do with any profs who do this, or are you just wondering if it happens? Or do you want to recommend it to professors? I agree with User:Czar that most professors working in the program already spend way more time developing/following/grading this assignment and do not have extra time to edit. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 20:06, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Ah yes, improving upon a previous semester's work is a great goal as well. Yes, Jami, I'm wondering if anyone knows of it happening, because if it does happen, it's worth another blog post in my mind. I'm personally going to start recommending it as an idea in the topic selection process. I guess I'm not looking for much User:Czar, just the occasional revert or talk page comment would be great. =) I saw an example of that recently. Biosthmors (talk) 08:01, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Huelsmantj (talk)


Tim Huelsman


Appalachian State University

Course title and description

PSY5672 Advanced Organizational Psychology -- This is a graduate level course that covers organizational psychology, based on classical and contemporary theory and empirical research.

Assignment plan

Groups of 3 students will identify a construct or issue covered in this course and will collaborate to contribute to (or create) the Wikipedia entry for their construct or issue.

Number of students

20 students total; 6 groups of 3-4 students will collaborate to make contributions

Start and end dates

9/3/13 to 12/6/13

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Huelsmantj (talk) 14:08, 30 August 2013 (UTC)

Huelsmantj (talk) 14:08, 30 August 2013 (UTC) Return to the Course pages module.

Sent Tim an email to offer some more support. He may have attended a workshop in Asheville with User:Kayz911 and User:Frankcjones this summer. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 19:01, 3 September 2013 (UTC)
Sent Tim an email to offer support. Instructor rights already provided. Offered to assist with creating a course page. Frankcjones (talk) 16:32, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
Course page support is awesome. Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 15:30, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

Let's do away with online ambassadors, campus ambassadors, and regional ambassadors

Let's just have one group: ambassadors. That way we can simplify things and have one list of ambassadors instead of three. And then we can have one approval process. As demonstrated above, we had campus ambassador applications languishing around with no comment. We should consolidate to promote efficiency and participation in one spot, in my opinion! Biosthmors (talk) 17:13, 8 September 2013 (UTC)

There is at least some point, imho, in some of the differentiations. I have thousands of Wikipedia edits and have assisted at least a dozen USEP courses; I think that it is good for me (and people like me) to have some level of 'official' (which isn't really official anyway) credibility greater than someone with fifty Wikipedia edits who is assisting one particular course. I'm not too fond of the titles in general and rarely mention them and the trust I enjoy with academics mostly comes from my reputation within their schools, but I do think RA vs CA serves at least some benefit. Kevin Gorman (talk) 05:45, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
I agree that it is good to indicate our experience for whoever is interested in a potential ambassador, but I say we should just let our experience speak for itself. We can put it in an ambassador profile we write for ourselves. To be honest, I don't think the distinctions created by OA/CA/RA are real or meaningful. I was just an "OA" while I was helping a Professor on Skype with a Syllabus/course page. And above, we have #Campus_Ambassador_application:_czar where a RA is MIA. Shouldn't their user rights be removed, at least temporarily, until they re-apply? And I interacted over at User talk:Frankcjones yesterday to welcome a new ambassador to discover that they were already a OA/CA/RA. We might feel these terms have meaning, but I don't think they indicate anything. I think we should just write up our experience in a profile if we think it is valuable for others to know. I recommend we set one clear transparent process about how to be "in" or "out". Biosthmors (talk) 08:20, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
I don't think it's a bad idea to have "Wikipedia Ambassadors" with various distinctions within (for internal purposes, since it doesn't always make a lot of sense to instructors and students anyway. Especially since CAs and RAs often work virtually, which convolutes the 'online' designation a bit). I do think RAs tend to do a lot more administrative work with numerous classes instead of just one or a few. Many RAs take on the CA role or the OA role because they're interested in supporting classes in that way, but I definitely see a distinction. What do you guys think is best? We could make a transition to "Wikipedia Ambassadors" and come up with a lot of roles within it for people to participate. This could help increase volunteer support, since somebody may be interested in reviewing student sandboxes and offering suggestions to fit into Wikipedia but has no interest in advising a professor on their assignment. Also, as a side note that I think is relevant here: let's try and remember that these are volunteers. Let's be inclusive and try to help mentor people into improving their support rather than always increasing the barriers for participation. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 18:08, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
One issue that occurs to me is that an instructor might sometimes want a local ambassador who could come and speak to the class in person, and doing away with the distinctions might make it harder to accomplish that (as when the ambassador turns out to be someone far away from the campus). --Tryptofish (talk) 19:20, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
I know it sounds crazy, but having order is what we need here. I know we're a pretty anarchic site, but if we don't present order to the outside world, no one is going to understand us. The distinctions are there for a reason, because they help to explain to the world what we do, and if we rolled everything into one right, we risk abuse from people we don't know, and it would be harder to grant rights if everyone could do the granting and there is abuse. On the flip side, if no one can grant, then we have to bug administrators for this stuff, and that defeats the whole point of having rights in the first place. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 20:00, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
But don't we also have to consider the potentially harmful effects of this bureaucratic "order"? For example, it can discourage regional ambassadors (RAs) from helping other professors, as was done here. If I had bothered to 1) check who was the RA 2) wait for the RA to respond 3) then decide how to proceed, the whole process of actually helping someone could have been lost. Biosthmors (talk) 12:47, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm not entirely sure why you are quoting a diff of one of my posts here. A new instructor requested a user right, and I granted it to him within sixteen minutes of him requesting it, while both directing him to his regional ambassador and stating that I was available to help if he ran in to any issues. OhanaUnited is in a much better position to coordinate on the ground assistance for the professor than I am - I have no freaking idea what ambassadors are active in Canada, whereas Ohana does. On the ground support is one of the most important things for the success of an educational assignment that involves Wikipedia. Kevin Gorman (talk) 01:54, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
I not faulting you for anything. I'm just remarking that the term "regional" might sometimes make one think "well that's not in my region, so I shouldn't help, because I might step on someone's toes." And yes, I agree with Kevin Rutherford below, we should ignore that impulse and help others. Biosthmors (talk) 09:24, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
Why cite a diff that demonstrates the exact opposite of what you are suggesting is a problem? Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:25, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
This is getting a little too drawn out, but you did say "normally I leave the granting of userrights to the regional ambassador a geographic falls under". Biosthmors (talk) 08:22, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
Honestly, I don't see the problem with that, as that is completely normal in the process of Wikipedia. Helping out others is something we all do, and I see nothing wrong with that process. This idea is something you can follow if you encounter this issue in the future, as I think you are proposing a solution to a problem that doesn't really exist. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 00:13, 11 September 2013 (UTC)

It hasn't happened often, and it has pretty much only happened in conversations with administrators, being occasionally able to describe myself as a regional ambassador has lent credibility to my words in a way that 'ambassador' alone wouldn't and gotten me further than I would've otherwise been able to go. So, I do think that there's at least some advantage to keeping the word 'regional'. I normally don't even describe myself as an ambassador when talking with professors or students because the title is meaningless to them (unless they already have some familiarity with the program,) but administrators tend to be annoyingly credential-centric. Kevin Gorman (talk) 20:04, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

The distinctions strike me as unnecessary as well, considering their intended function. To Kevin G's point, credentialism sways those who determine credibility by shortcuts, but a suitable alternative is using your userpage as somewhat of a WP CV, or at least making those dozen+ USEP classes visible where it could be useful. In fact, I think educators would find a brief background on the ambassador more useful than the title of ambassador itself. To B's point, this is more or less codifying how the ambassador titles are currently used. I'm not familiar with the history of the ed program, but such a system without vetted delegates appears to be more in-keeping with WP's principles. Unless I'm missing something, all EP actions are decentralized to discussions on this board anyway, so even considering the pro-distinction arguments above, I'm not sure how systems of ambassadors and hierarchy add value to the project or even the EP effort. (There are either people on a project or not.) Food for thought. czar  01:24, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
You are absolutely correct that credentialism sways those who determine credibility by shortcuts. Unfortunately, most university administrators determine credibility by shortcuts. A university administrator will pay more attention to "Hi, I'm the regional ambassador for Wikipedia's US Education Program for California and Hawaii, could we set up a meeting?" than "Hi, I'm Wikipedia user Kevin Gorman. I've helped a lot of classes use Wikipedia based assignments in the past, as evidenced by my userpage. Could we set up a meeting?". Even if we don't like that administrators like titles more than experience, they do and it is something we are unlikely to change. Kevin Gorman (talk) 01:54, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
Yes, but let's separate their needs from ours. Is there an internal function for WP? We can't stop anyone from calling herself a RA, or a contact "on behalf of WP's EP". (Is it not common practice to invent titles in order to make meetings? One could argue we're doing the same, just formally.) Is the goal of the project to mime a bureaucratic entity for the ease of classroom usage, or more to acclimate the classroom to the WP environment? I think the EP will get more traction from maximizing inclusivity and upkeeping the relationship between the classrooms and the other WP editors. I fear that teachers are still finding the role of WP in their classrooms (in use and editing) and are rarely WP-literate themselves (as evidenced by the types of articles produced and graded through their classes), so I question the function of granting a (inconspicuous) user right towards the goals of the EP. Don't want to get off-topic, but I think the role of ambassador titles ties into the purpose of the greater bureaucratic effort. czar  03:19, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
One of the major goals of the EP is to liase between Wikipedia and academia. Sometimes, yes, that involves mimicking practices that are typical of academia and are not necessarily typical of Wikipedia. Where such practices improve our ability to liase with academia they should be encouraged. Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:24, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Kevin. We frequently had to make elevator pitch. If our message does not get understood within 30 seconds, we lose the audience. Responding to Czar, being a regional ambassador (RA) is totally different than just being a campus ambassador (CA) or online ambassador (OA). Since Czar is new to the EP, I think we need to explain things a little bit more in detail. RA oversees CA in their region (but rarely oversees OA since OA often is not physically located in that region and OA could be helping in different courses located in multiple regions). As RA, we recruit and interview CAs (through Skype or in-person). We prepare and provide training to CA. We also do check-ins during middle and end of term to with profs and CAs to ensure that everything's going smoothly. On our own personal campus, some RAs like myself also do active campaigning, give presentations, and liaison with faculty members holding senior positions to encourage higher participation. So while we cannot physically stop someone from claiming to be an RA/CA/OA (or on behalf of EP) without holding that title, that kind of action merits some serious discussion on such behaviour. OhanaUnitedTalk page 04:56, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
That's for sharing your ideas User:Czar. I think what we're also observing is a conversation mostly dominated by a subset of regional ambassadors. Unfortunately, I've only met one other RA in person from an education event, User:Pharos. The other I've met at a conference was User:Bluerasberry, from a general Wiki conference (Wikimania). I had my RA intro/onboarding Skype interview by User:Kayz911. Four of us in this thread are all listed at outreach:Regional Ambassadors/Current. That might be the updated list, I'm not sure, to tell you the truth. It should be on Wikipedia. I was bold and did this at Wikipedia:Education program/Ambassadors/Regional, but I'm not sure if people consider that the list. So, to be frank, I don't think the RAs have even decided where the RA list is. =) I think RAs are the only group of ambassadors that occasionally get group emails from User:JMathewson (WMF) (the one employee of the WP:WEF as far as I'm aware. Am I wrong?) I don't think I've gotten any lately for being listed at Special:OnlineVolunteers or Special:CampusVolunteers. Personally, I don't have any CA's "under me". Nor have I tried to recruit any. I typically try to invest my time working with professors who roll into this place from God knows where. I'd like to recruit some professors myself one day, to develop sustainable, solid, and repeatable classroom assignments, but I mostly focus on what rolls in. Coincidentally, last night I met with a professor who rolled into this noticeboard from where I'm currently living. But how often does it happen that someone willing is located where the need is? I perceive that managing what we have and what is incoming is where the greatest need is. (I really wish fewer things rolled in, to be honest, because I don't feel like we can adequately educate educators as it is. Boy was Wikipedia a mystery to the professor and TA I talked to last night, before I sat and talked with them a couple hours. I still plan to meet again next week.) If we wanted a more representative Wikipedia sample, we might also try to invite others from Wikipedia:Ambassadors/List of ambassadors/Online. The information being discussed here could also be listed at Wikipedia:ASSIGN#Education_Program. The current hierarchy/organizational structure was one I imagined was created by people at the WP:WMF, such as Frank (User:Frank Schulenburg (Wikimedia Foundation). (I really couldn't tell you the history of it, exactly.) Now it has been, through plain inertia, adopted by the WP:WEF (by the way that page should list employees and board members and I would like to join the board as well, because I think I could help steer it in a good direction). And I still have lingering concerns that it is too "expansionary". Now I'm essentially remarking that we might do better by plotting a new course. Welcome. =) Biosthmors (talk) 09:24, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
Noting your edits to the WEF page, I'm pretty perplexed as to why you inserted a {{how}} tag next to an aspirational mission statement. I'm also pretty sure Jami is currently working for the WMF, not the WEF. If she has transitioned to the WEF, it would still be inappropriate to list her WMF account as the account of an employee of the WEF. She would not be using a Wikimedia Foundation staff account to represent a different organization. FWIW: stuff rolls in that is near existing education program participants pretty freaking often. Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:24, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
It sounded fluffy. Specifics would be better. I don't know about the WMF/WEF particulars, but given that the WMF funded the grant, I don't see a big problem with one letter being different in someone's user name. Biosthmors (talk) 08:51, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
There's a tremendous difference between someone working for the WMF and someone working for the WEF. The difference has both practical and legal implications. Please do not list Jami as an employee of the WEF unless you know for a fact that she is an employee of the WEF, and if that is the case, please do not list her WMF staff account. Kevin Gorman (talk) 20:31, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
And as I've stated above, I don't think a lack of classrooms is harming the program. So I fail to see why we need impressive sounding titles. I think "Hi, I'm an Ambassador for Wikipedia's US Education Program, could we set up a meeting?" is perfectly fine. Biosthmors (talk) 09:41, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
There are benefits of meeting with administrators other than getting increased numbers of classes to participate. Ex: at least one RA has gotten preliminary approval for a funded position to help support USEP classes through a series of meetings that would've been less likely to occur had they not had a vaguely impressive sounding title/description. Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:24, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
That's a potential direction I see this program going if we are to be successful (better relationships between ambassadors/academia, Wikipedia/academia, students/Wikipedia, with quality outcomes, and more editor retention). Interesting. I'll ask you about this. Biosthmors (talk) 08:21, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
I also don't think "regional ambassadors" should have to state their real name, if they don't want to publicly. (But only to professors and other RAs in emails.) I think that serves as a disincentive for participation. Can we change that? Biosthmors (talk) 11:03, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
If you want to coordinate real world regional outreach to educational institutions, there's no reason you should not state your real name. Universities do not have the same expectations as Wikipedians, and to expect them to conform to our norms on stuff like comfortability with pseudonyms is pretty silly. Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:24, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
Of course you would, in real-life. But that doesn't require wp:outing on Wikipedia. Biosthmors (talk) 08:51, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
One of the purposes of some of the regional ambassador pages (like the one on outreach) is so that academics looking at the page know who to contact for support in their region. An academic is going to feel a lot more comfortable contacting someone with an actual name rather than contacting someone with a pseudonym. If someone has such pressing privacy concerns that they are uncomfortable revealing their name on wiki, I do not believe that they are in a position to be coordinating education program work within a region. Kevin Gorman (talk) 20:31, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
In my experience, I've never had a professor contact me from being listed as an RA. So I don't see this as very convincing reason. And I disagree. Biosthmors (talk) 10:09, 13 September 2013 (UTC)
We would also do well to explain a bit at Wikipedia:Education_program/Ambassadors#Regional_Ambassador, which is an empty section. Biosthmors (talk) 12:24, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
And Wikipedia:Education_program/Ambassadors/Join#Campus_Ambassadors is an empty section as well. And there's nothing there about RAs. I think there are too many subpages in these spaces. Why do we need Wikipedia:Education_program/Ambassadors and Wikipedia:Education_program/Ambassadors/Join, for example? Biosthmors (talk) 12:28, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
I think pages that haven't been populated with information is because they were supposed to be transitioning from outreach to here. Plus we do have instruction for the Canadian page. OhanaUnitedTalk page 15:00, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
  • The original thought a couple of years ago was that this program would scale up by an order of magnitude. Although the program has grown, it has not grown that much. The distinctions would make more sense if a lot more people participated. I still think the program has a lot of potential but it needs a funded backend with several staff coordinating outreach and developing tools much more quickly to make it easier for ambassadors to do their thing. What has been done with existing resources is fantastic. I still wish that this could be one of the world's most supported educational efforts, and it is definitely not there yet. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:08, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Re: RA titles again and OhanaUnited's experience above, I don't see why the title of RA is necessary for fulfilling the same role (especially as those tasks are not universal among RAs, but for those who have the time and so choose), and wouldn't it be a priority for the program to encourage multiple non-RA editors to do the same outreach (with or without the title)? Maybe more than the question, I'm making a rhetorical statement about the point where distinguishing with user roles distracts from what I understand to be the purpose of the ed program. czar  01:32, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
It should absolutely be a priority to encourage multiple non-RA editors to do the same sort of outreach. I conducted such outreach *long* before I was titled as an RA. I eventually asked for the title because I found it useful to have a foofie sounding title in interactions with administrators. Before I had the RA title, the professors I was working with would frequently fall back to describing me as "someone who has worked for the Wikimedia Foundation," and although I have done contract work for WMF before, I was uncomfortable with using an unrelated past accomplishment to get in the door. If an editor is conducting the sort of outreach where having a fancier title would be useful, I see no problem with just giving it to them, and doubt anyone else would either (as long as they're willing to work collaboratively with others in their area.) Kevin Gorman (talk) 20:31, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
That's good to know that the title was of functional use. I still feel like we have three levels when we don't need three levels... JMathewson (WMF), sorry if you share any of the legal concerns Kevin did above. How often do you receive requests for individuals to be a regional ambassador, by the way? Biosthmors (talk) 10:21, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

Sandbox link in education extension

Hey User:Sage Ross (WMF), I was wondering about that again. It went off to the archives, but I was asking again if we can't just use the one link to make things more efficient. I think it would help students find their own sandbox more easily as well. It would also focus professor attention to the each student's personal sandbox. And it would be red/blue... Can we not just make it go to the one sandbox? Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 21:13, 8 September 2013 (UTC)

When we have dedicated developer support for the extension again, I'll try to make sure this functionality improves by displaying the link only if the student has at least one user subpage (and maybe display a redlink to the default sandbox if there are none). Unfortunately, I can't devote time to hacking on this myself for the time being. (Although I had a bit of success, such as implementing the current sandboxes link feature, I'm a novice and it takes me a *long* time to get anything useful done with MediaWiki code.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:58, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
That sound great. Thanks for your efforts! Do you want me to submit a feature request at bugzilla stating this? Or does one already exist? I might as well submit my first one someday. Biosthmors (talk) 15:35, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
@Biosthmors: Please do add a bug for it in bugzilla. :) --Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:38, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
And when I do maybe I'll make it two! Biosthmors (talk) 15:32, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

Request for Course Instructor Rights

I am teaching two sections of Global and Cultural Perspectives at Duquesne University.

I have previously had students edit Wikipedia as an assignment without Instructor rights.

I would like to assign a similar assignment: "Students are to access a contemporary (within the last ten years) theological article on Hinduism from a peer reviewed journal from the ATLA or Proquest Database. The student should summarize the main concepts addressed in the article with either a 2000 word essay with a correctly formatted bibliography or a four (or more) sentence edit to a Wikipedia article with a correctly formatted bibliography. Help is available on request and examples will be addressed in the classroom."

Please let me know what further steps to follow to best serve the Wikipedia community and my students Isumataq 04:05, 9 September 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ellencavanaugh (talkcontribs)

How does the WEF define quality?

I raise the point here on how I define quality. As I was responding to the grant applicant for the WP:WEF, how does the WEF define quality? Biosthmors (talk) 10:48, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

Although I think the WEF should have a working definition of quality, I think the community's definition is more important. The existing grading schemes (A/B/C/Start/Stub and FA/GA) aren't bad, but the assessments for most of those levels don't require a subject matter expert and don't ensure there is no mis-use of sources (plagiarism/close paraphrasing/copyvio). It's not expected that a Wikipedian classifying an article as B knows the subject well enough to evaluate it as an SME, or has checked the sources to compare the language.
If we're going to use quality as a metric for results from the EP, I think some sampling has to be done on the evaluated articles to verify that there are no problems with the use of sources. Without that the existing quality scale is not enough: most students don't misuse their sources, but the problem has come up often enough that any discussion of student article quality has to address it. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:27, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
I think you might, unfortunately, be right when you say "It's not expected that a Wikipedian classifying an article as B ... has checked the sources". But to me, that doesn't make any sense. If the article doesn't represent what the sources say, then I don't think we can classify anything; because if you don't check the sources, just about anything could be under the hood. I would just expect that a certain level of fact-checking each other should be part of any assignment. Given that that hoax was a good article, and that it only takes one person (perhaps your friend) to pass a GA, I think any Wikipedia quality metric other than featured isn't particularly meaningful on face value. And even then, a FA could degrade in quality and still be falsely advertised. Biosthmors (talk) 13:36, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Certainly, you shouldn't unequivocally trust the assessment for any given article (even an FA, as that process can and does fail at times as well, especially when there isn't enough subject matter expertise among the reviewers). But on average, the assessments correlate pretty well with the actual quality of an article. (This is not to contradict what Mike said. I just mean that a rough metric of quality is much better than none at all, and this existing scheme has the massive advantage of being widely adopted, so that it's possible to do a lot of comparative analysis without a huge amount of effort to generate the data.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:47, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
I am happy for an article to get up to a B rating with no one checking the sources. For A, GA, and FA, all of the sources should be checked. The amount of hoax content on Wikipedia is so small that WP:AGF is good for all introductory ratings assuming that someone puts a source at all. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:13, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
I'd love if we had the volunteer hours to check all the sources in GA proposals. I don't think we do. I try to just do a representative random sample. User:Bluerasberry, would you mind posting that idea at WT:GA to see what people say, and pinging me there? I wonder if we could alter the good article criteria perhaps to include a recommended quantity of fact-checking. Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) 10:24, 11 September 2013 (UTC)
@Biosthmors: I posted the idea. Please comment, Biosthmors. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:55, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

A second problem with quality is the fact that after a student has finished their work, there is no automatic regrading. We have done assessments using volunteers, who look at two versions of the article, before and after; if those volunteers are generally agreed to be unbiased that's a good approach but it requires large scale volunteer labour and is not scalable and probably not sustainable even as a partial answer. Those volunteers are not going to check sources either; they only have time to do what most Wikipedians do -- eyeball the article, look at the references, check a few places for readability, and consult their own knowledge of the topic to make a guess at comprehensiveness. Without some unbiased mechanism for grading the articles after the students complete their work there is no way to systematically determine if the students are adding quality material. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:08, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

I admit, it's not systematic, but I was able to recently get a reply from Special:Contributions/Biolprof on the talk page of an article their student worked on, because a comment on the talk page offered what seemed to be a significant criticism. The student actually replied to me as well (I need to respond as well), and edited the article to address an old point. My impression is that it could be a mistake to abandon the "editor retention" goal; that might just be a tacit admission the program you're running isn't doing the job it should be doing, really. (That's my impression of what the WMF did, does anyone have a link?) Long story short, actually having an expert engage at the talk page is much more meaningful suggestion of quality than a B vs. C or start vs. C quality ratings, in my opinion. Biosthmors (talk) 14:49, 12 September 2013 (UTC)
I do not have an opinion about whether editor retention should be a goal or not but I would like it tracked if that were not unreasonable to ask. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:03, 12 September 2013 (UTC)


If I can propose a useful tangent based on the above dialogue, I think of these classroom assignments more as an exercise to proliferate knowledge of WP's internal processes (WP literacy? Wikiliteracy/WL). It's good if the article is improved, but it's more important that more people have the experience of editing with other editors, adding verifiable and objective info, determining article notability, adhering to the pillars, knowing reliable sources (cross-referencing), becoming a citizen of WP regardless of their contribution. Few people I know IRL can use WP (that is, read it properly) as a tertiary source because they are more familiar with the quasi-truths of unfinished, unsourced pages (and, consequently, add content in this way) than, say, FA articles. Instead of adding little but verifiable information, we get inconsistent tomes: a reflection of (at least U.S.) schooling's prioritization of paper length and grader overwhelm over clarity and concision. In this way, the EP can be an extension of what we should want for all editors, just facilitated through the community of a classroom. Anyway, wanted to propose that when the methodology is unclear (measuring student progress in C-Class articles, finding volunteers to "grade"), sometimes it's more sensible to re-evaluate the original intent (raise WL foremost, or otherwise only "evaluate" based on articles that reach GA/FA-Class—WP community standards that measure quality and literacy). Sort of related to retention, but I think more on target. tl;dr: measure quality in footnoted additions, not article class, measure quality in surveys of WP literacy (which I feel should be the EP's goal), measure quality in the given higher and easier community standards (GA/FA instead of B/C). czar  14:57, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

@Czar:, I think wiki-literacy should be an important side-effect of running a good classroom assignment. However, from working with User:Biosthmors/Intro Neuro, I learned that many comments and suggestions I made weren't addressed. This made sense, because I don't think the students were trained to engage on the talk pages, nor were they graded for "integrating" into the WP community by responding to talk page comments, etc. So I'm working to get that incorporated into the grading rubric this year. That should be one of the most important goals of a Wikipedia ambassador in my opinion: to establish relationships with instructors so they can help the grading system reflect Wikipedia's aims. More references are certainly in order for many articles here, such as that one. Many instructors seem to gravitate to the "expand a stub" mentality because then they can see a block of text that the student contributed easily. It eases grading. (This "expand a stub" mantra characterizes the instructions in WMF materials, in my opinion.) But maybe that article was a stub for a reason. Maybe there wasn't much to say. Meanwhile, our diffs don't help ease the grading burden for instructors. In that diff, I changed no words or ordering of words in sentences. All I did was shift around a sentence up into another paragraph, then break a paragraph off... Try telling an instructor that that's easy to grade... It's not. But I think that's why it's crucially important to get the topic selection process right. If people pick a bad-quality article, it's harder to mess it up. Biosthmors (talk) 16:29, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Medmyco (talk)


James Scott


University of Toronto

Course title and description

HMB436H - Medical and Veterinary Mycology -- This 4th year undergraduate course will familiarize students with fungi of public health importance, particularly those that cause disease in humans and other animals. The course will focus on the clinical presentation, pathophysiology, and treatment of fungal infections, as well as the ecology, physiology and evolutionary biology of the agents responsible. The course will also address other ways in which fungi influence human and animal health. I frequently use Wikipedia and noticed that many of the important medical fungal species either lack an entry or have only a stub. Instead of the typical written assignment I include in the course, I was thinking to have students prepare Wikipedia entries for some of these fungi.

Assignment plan

In the past, I have asked students to write a fully-referenced "biography" of a fungus in the style of a meaty encyclopedia entry. Based on a quick look at what's currently available on Wiki, I've identified the following entries that either should be created or need to be expanded:

I'm open to modifying this list depending on suggestions.

Number of students

~30 students

Start and end dates

September 11, 2013 - December 1, 2013

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Medmyco (talk) 00:14, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

  • Hi MedMyco - normally I leave the granting of userrights to the regional ambassador a geographic falls under... but I saw a mycology class, got all excited, and granted you the right (especially because you have previous wiki experience.) You should now be able to set up a course page - since you've successfully created Wikipedia articles previously, I don't imagine it will be too hard for you. Stop by here again if you need a hand with it. I imagine that @OhanaUnited: will drop by shortly to talk to you since he's the RA active in Toronto, but if you run in to any trouble at any point this semester, feel free to drop me a note as well. I want more fungus on Wikipedia and more students on Wikipedia, so this sounds about perfect :) Kevin Gorman (talk) 00:30, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Hello Medmyco, thank you for your interest in helping Wikipedia improve! I went ahead and added links to the content, so we can see what's red (uncreated but should be created) and blue. I just want to caution you, in case you're not already aware, and as explained at WP:AFSE, that biomedical information has a strict sourcing guideline: WP:MEDRS. Perhaps you're already familiar with User:Sasata's work. You could direct your students to User:Sasata/Reviewed content as guides for what well-developed fungi articles look like, if you haven't already. Sometimes volunteers here get very perturbed when medical information is not presented in accordance with our normal style/sourcing guidelines. Best of luck, and please contact me if you have any questions. Thanks! Biosthmors (talk) 07:44, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
And I do expect @OhanaUnited: will be your first point of contact but feel free to ask if you have any questions about MEDRS, in which case you could also ask at WT:MEDRS. Best. Biosthmors (talk) 07:55, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Hello! I spend less time talking about mushrooms these days but I used to be a member of the local mycology society in Seattle. I could meet you online to give you a tour of Wikipedia and to talk about ways to integrate Wikipedia into classes, if you liked. user:OhanaUnited is at the University of Toronto and he is active on WikiSpecies, so I expect he may have something to say also. Blue Rasberry (talk) 10:58, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
Also, User:Casliber is a busy person but Casliber is Wikipedia's resident expert on fungus and a fan of health information as well. Perhaps that person would have something to say about your class and developing mycology articles. Blue Rasberry (talk) 11:14, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Antineutron (talk)


Rodrigo Ochigame


University of California, Berkeley

Course title and description
Assignment plan

University students, mostly undergraduate. They will edit articles related to piracy (e.g. court cases).

Number of students

There are 25 students enrolled. Wikipedia is one of the suggested assignments.

Start and end dates

Fall 2013 (September to December)

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Antineutron (talk) 22:13, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

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  • Hi Antineutron. Are you co-teaching the course with Angellica, or are you a student in the class? If you are only a student in the class, you don't need a course instructor userright. If you are co-teaching the course with Angellica, please have her ping me on Facebook or email just to confirm. Thanks, Kevin Gorman (talk) 00:12, 14 September 2013 (UTC)

Campus Ambassador application: Siddharth Rao

sidnext2none (talk · contribs)

  1. Why do you want to be a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    In one sentence, I would say "Wikipedia is an awesome resource which is helping me to know many many stuffs in the internet for FREE and also, I consider Wikipedia to be my first reference source when I am suing internet. Since I am a free software enthusiast and volunteer, I rely upon Wikipedia which is again a free encyclopedia to gather information about anything and everything. Thus I want myself and all the people around to help Wikipedia grow better and awesome, especially the students like me.
  1. Where are you based, and which educational institution(s) do you plan to work with as a Campus Ambassador?
    I am based in Finland as of now doing my master's as Part of Erasmus Munudus NordSecMob(Security and Mobile) at Aalto University, Finland and also in University of Tartu, Estonia. I am planning to work for both and if possible in India for my university(College) where I did my bachelor's - BMS Institute of Technology- Visvesvaraya Technological University.
  1. What is your academic and/or professional background?
    I have a bachelor's in "Computer Science and Engineering(B.E)" and currently pursuing my master's in "Security and Mobile Computing" with a plan to pursue doctoral studies and be in the research field. Before starting my master's I worked for Fidelity Management and Research, India for around 2 years.
  1. In three sentences or less, summarize your prior experience with Wikimedia projects.
    Though I have not created much Wikipedia pages myself, I am eager to contribute to it. I try to quote Wikipedia articles where and when possible and hence I have been promoting Wikipedia in an indirect way.
  1. What else should we know about you that is relevant to being a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    I would like to organize as many as "Wikipedia Hackathons" for my fellow student friends at least to edit as many as data which might be more accurate, add or append the missing information in Wikipedia articles. I would like to involve my friends to come up with Wikipedia articles about their "Favorite Professors"( As many of the researchers and Professors in my university are very much deserve a Wikipedia entry) and about their "Favorite Exchange Study Program".

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Sidnext2none (talk) 17:44, 13 September 2013 (UTC)

Hi Sid. I would highly encourage you to organize events of the nature you describe. The campus ambassador right is only necessary if you intend to work directly with classes that are contributing to Wikipedia as part of a classroom assignment; it's not necessary for most forms of outreach. You might find some useful resources about how to conduct things like editathons at, and you might also benefit from coordinating with Wikimedia's Finnish chapter. Kevin Gorman (talk) 00:09, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
@Sidnext2none:, yes please help Wikipedia! And may I suggest an alternative? You can always apply to be an Online Ambassador once you've made some edits! You might find WP:VPT and mw:How to become a MediaWiki hacker interesting as well. Best regards. Biosthmors (talk) 09:43, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
And @Sidnext2none:, for more links on hackathons, I did notice some at mw:User:Sharihareswara (WMF). Best. Biosthmors (talk) 10:10, 14 September 2013 (UTC)