Wikipedia:Education noticeboard/Archive 6

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Plagiarism research project

I've still got more work to do to get all the data published, document the research process, and communicate about it more broadly (since it is relevant beyond the education program), but I wanted to post about the results of the plagiarism research project my team has been working on. See Wikipedia:Wikipedia Education Program/Research/Plagiarism.

The short version is that I think it's safe to say that education program assignments from the United States Education Program and Canada Education Program are not making the English Wikipedia's plagiarism problem worse than it already is. We found plagiarism or close paraphrasing in almost 5% of the new articles created by student editors, compared with about 13% of articles created by statistically similar newcomers who were not participating in education program classes, and 10% or more for articles created by new users who got started 2006, 2009, or 2012. We also have data for student editors who expanded existing articles (over 8%), and articles written or expanded by admins (over 3%) and high-edit-count non-admins (over 3%). Many caveats apply, so check out the details. Discussion and questions are welcome, preferably on the research page.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 18:44, 25 September 2013 (UTC)

Ping to User:Colin, User:Jmh649, User:SandyGeorgia, and User:SlimVirgin, b/c I think you have all been interested in this issue at least at one point. Best. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 18:51, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
thanks for the ping, wish I had more time to follow, am surprised that overall plagiarism was found to be that low, both among students and among others ... I can convince myself that students plagiarize no worse than others, but have a hard time believing those low numbers, based on my experience. I'm wondering if plagiarism might be worse in medical topics? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:53, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
@SandyGeorgia: Check out the details of how the numbers were generated, and the caveats section. There are very few false positives (as we manually checked every hit and threw out the cases of reverse plagiarism or ones where direction of copying couldn't be definitively established), but several modes of plagiarism that would not have been picked up. We tried to construct the datasets to provide a good basis for comparison, but the absolute rates almost certainly undercount the prevalence of plagiarism. By how much, it's hard to say without guessing wildly.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 18:59, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, Sage ... no time ... but it sounds like even if there are issues in the absolute rate, the conclusion that students plagiarize no more than other editors does not surprise me, and is likely sound. The issue is, their profs aren't checking, and the students are not typically long-term contributors, they don't stick around, they don't learn, so we gain little by having to check and revert their work, where hopefully other editors do learn from their mistakes and stick around to make useful contribs without overtaxing other editors. In other words, I don't think the question is whether students plagiarize more or less, rather a question of the overall benefit vs the time we spend doing profs' work. Bst, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:07, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
The whole idea of loads of incoming student edits makes me nervous unless they've received some stellar guidance and they have a good grading rubric. We had an admin recently on this board who had a bad outcome and vowed to never run an assignment again, on behalf of the community's interest. An admin. That just shows you how easily assignments can turn into failures for Wikipedia. This stuff has to be managed properly. And quality expectations should be high, especially because maybe 98 or 99% leave after it's over. And from what I've seen, the topics that are selected are obscure (another reason it's hard to expect anyone will look over their work). Anyhow, that's why I've been emphasizing raised expectations in terms of quality output, in line with the RfC's result. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 19:26, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
Thanks SandyGeorgia. I agree that this research doesn't directly address the issue of the overall costs and benefits of education program. It is intended to give us a better basis for understanding the particular problem of plagiarism (and even then, of course, it only gives a partial view).--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:01, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
Biosthmors, thanks for the ping. Sage, can you say more about how the plagiarism was found? The report says: "These datasets were sent to TaskUs to be checked for plagiarism via the Yahoo!-powered Grammarly tool," but doesn't give details.
The reason I ask is that the student essays in which I found plagiarism usually indicated that an effort had been made to avoid it being detected (or that the student genuinely believed that changing a few words was enough). New editors who plagiarize don't do that as a rule; they will often just copy-paste, so it's much easier to spot. The students usually change a few words or phrases in a sentence, so finding it is more time-consuming. Also, new editors tend to use online sources that aren't behind paywalls; the students were plagiarizing from academic papers that were sometimes behind paywalls, or books that weren't always online. My understanding of Grammarly is that it doesn't check that kind of source.
I'd therefore be interested to know how the team ironed out these differences so that they didn't affect the end result. SlimVirgin (talk) 19:32, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
@SlimVirgin: I'm not sure what all is in Grammarly's plagiarism checking database. As I understand it, it is powered by Yahoo!, but I believe it includes more than a simple web search. Many sources behind paywalls, as well as webpages that are not indexed for conventional web search because of robot.txt settings, were returned as hits. I've not been able to find details about which paywalled databases are included or excluded for Grammarly, but I will see if I can learn more.
Many of the hits returned as potential plagiarism were of short phrases, which in many cases turned out to be close paraphrasing of the type you describe, where bits and pieces are changed but the basic form of the source text remains. As noted in the caveats section, if there are no significant phrase matches at all because of thorough changing of individual words, then that sort of plagiarism would slip through. My qualitative impression after looking through many hundreds of matches for both student editors and non-student editors is that this sort of plagiarism is not significantly more common in the student datasets, but we have not specifically tried to investigate that.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:01, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply, Sage. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:47, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm sceptical about the low figures for all groups. And I second SlimVirgin's point about student sources being particularly hard to check. In my experience this problem was near universal rather than rare, and greatly under detected due to source choice. The analysis doesn't seem to compare article and source differences between the groups. I suspect if that was done, then the analysis comparing the groups might be questioned. Further, there is the cost of the plagiarism to the community. How many willing eyes does a pop culture topic get for it to be either fixed up or problem eliminated through churn, vs academic subject so obscure we didn't even have an article on it. We have a huge systemic bias problem in the demographics of our editor base. The editors we have more than enough of are unaffected by student edits because they don't touch those subjects. The editors we have barely any of are completely swamped at times by student edits to the point where they leave. The students aren't replacing those editors. So the demographics will get worse. Ultimately, this obsession with proving that students are no worse than newbies is imo deeply unhelpful and completely misguided. Colin°Talk 21:29, 25 September 2013 (UTC)
I, too, would like to know more about possible false negatives. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:19, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
@Colin and Tryptofish: With the match cohort, we attempted to control for the type of sources indirectly, by matching based on the categories of articles. That is, we took the set of articles contributed by student editors, and tried to find non-student editors with similar time since registration and edit count, who contributed articles in related categories. (You can see the technical details of how the match dataset was constructed in Evan Rosen's github scripts; I only have a qualitative understanding of what we were trying to accomplish with the matching.) This approach will not have eliminated the potential for systematic differences in source choice, but it's an issue we had in mind during the design of the match cohort.
For me at least, the central aim of this project was not to prove that student editors are no worse than newbies. (I am now convinced that, with respect to plagiarism, this is true. But I was not at all sure at the outset of the project.) Plagiarism is a significant problem, for the education program in particular and Wikipedia in general, and it is one that we have very little systematic data about. These is not the be-all, end-all of the issue, nor is it intended to shut down discussion of plagiarism problems related to the education program. It's an attempt to understand the problem better.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:01, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
Peeking in briefly, Sage, per Colin, SV, Trypto and myself, I suggest it is premature to be "convinced that, with respect to plagiarism, this is true" ... I don't believe you have the study controls to be so sure of that, per the caveats, shortcomings and explanations given. Like Colin, in my experience, the student copyvio rate is near 100%, and it is extremely time-consuming to investigate and remove, and it is almost always on obscure topics that aren't worth the effort. The same can be said for other new editors I encounter, but they learn and stick around, so the effort is worth it to convert a new plagiarizer to a good, long-standing editor. In my experience, that has never ever been the case with a student, and they are a net drain on my time ... and my motivation. This has been one of the factors that discouraged me from contributing as much here as I used to (the others being the ongoing disgusting issues at DYK, the debacles at FAC leading to an extreme decline in quality there, and the socking endorsed by the arbs, which contributed to the decline of FA). I think a useful analysis would be a by-hand (without the problems of articles behind paywall, etc) examination focused on medical topics (perhaps students working in other areas are better grounded in plagiarism through their other coursework ... in medical topics, the students I encounter seem to have zero understanding of plagiarism ... perhaps this is covered better in the liberal arts). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:31, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure if you mean that figuratively, but I find the idea that the 'copyvio rate is near 100%' for student editors to be completely implausible. Having pored over the data and seen the kinds of plagiarism that was detected in these datasets for both students and non-students—and having seen and checked a wide variety contributions from student editors in many subject areas—I'm personally convinced that plagiarism rates are not higher for education program participants than for other newcomers. Your mileage may vary. What this research shows is that plagiarism rates for new articles as detected by this methodology are less than half the rates for either the match cohort or random newcomers from the beginnings of the years 2006, 2009 and 2012. The detected plagiarism rate for articles expanded by student editors is higher than for new articles by student editors, but lower than the rates for new articles by other newcomers; we didn't make a corresponding set of articles expanded by other newcomers, but I expect that any set of expanded articles will have a higher rate of plagiarism than that for surviving new articles by similar editors (because the most obvious cases for new articles will have been deleted, or never moved into main space). I've not seen evidence that source choice and the Grammarly database are disproportionately undercounting plagiarism by student editors—although I don't rule it out. Based on the data, I would guess that the full plagiarism rate among student editors is about half that other newcomers. But I intentionally don't go that far when I say I'm convinced that student editors are no worse than other newbies when it comes to plagiarism.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:59, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
In the Toronto fiasco the plagiarism rate approached 100%, and in the India fiasco it was also very high, but in most of the class projects that I've watched the rate has clearly been much lower. Looie496 (talk) 16:24, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
Looie, that's a really important point. Thanks for thinking of it. It goes to the very real fact that students behave in the context of the course structure in which they find themselves. If they believe that the instructor is paying attention, they will believe: (1) that they won't get away with it, and (2) that the rest of the class wouldn't get away with it either, and therefore are not doing it. On the other hand, if they can see that the instructor just does not care, they will believe: (1) that everyone else is doing it, so they need to do it so as not to be at a disadvantage, and (2) they will get away with it. That's a fundamental difference between student editors and other editors. Other editors never have to worry about being graded in comparison with their fellow editors. In a way, an analysis that treats all student projects as a single group will miss this information. It's very important to understand and act on the differences between class projects that work, and those that become fiascos. --Tryptofish (talk) 16:32, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
I thank Sage for the thoughtful reply, and I want to point out that I, personally, don't specifically care about whether student editors plagiarize more or less than others. What I care about is the fact that we have a lot of student editors, and we need to do everything practical to make them a net positive for Wikipedia, and consequently, to whatever extent they do plagiarize, we need to understand it accurately, and I want to make sure that we don't unintentionally underestimate the problems that we need to work together to fix.
Based on my own experiences teaching at the college level for a very long time, I know that students can show a great deal of resourcefulness in plagiarism and cheating generally when they think that everyone else is doing it and when they think they can get away with it. Because of the way that students become student editors, they have motivations to cut corners that other editors, who come here entirely by choice, simply do not. At Wikipedia, I keep seeing instructors who are obviously not doing the hard work that it takes to discourage their students from plagiarizing. And Sandy et al. are quite correct about the ways that students might use sources that we would miss in the usual ways of detecting text matches.
Here's an example. Please take a look at the bottom half of Talk:Flynn-Aird syndrome, where I helped out with a class project a few years ago. The page covers a rather specialized subject. I, and other editors who know the source material, are pretty sure that most if not all of the primary source material is the original work by Flynn and Aird themselves. The student edits added a significant amount of very specific material that, very simply, cannot be found in any of the sources that they cited. They must have gotten it somewhere, after all. It reads like the kind of material one would find in medical school textbooks or similar tertiary sources, although these are not cited. At the time, I looked every way I could think of for matching source material, and came up empty. It would, for sure, come up "clean" in any text-matching software that I know of. And yet, there is the content, and the students could not have gotten it from the sources that they cited, and they must have gotten it somewhere, where they deliberately chose not to cite the source. I'm guessing an old textbook, and they probably copied it directly, and therefore chose not to cite it. --Tryptofish (talk) 15:16, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
This is interesting example, and if it's the kind of plagiarism you suspect, it would indeed be hard to detect. Across all work by student editors, though, I think this is an edge case. My impression is that most editors (including students) cite the sources they are using if they cite any at all, and that plagiarism or close paraphrasing of the sources cited are far more common than malicious attempts to cover up plagiarism by citing one source and copying another. A useful follow up study might be to go source-by-source to manually compare added material with what the source says—both to check for plagiarism, and see if the source verifies the text. That's much easier to imagine than to do, however.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:59, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
I guess it's one kind, but not the only kind of plagiarism I would expect. For me, the tl;dr boils down to the fact that we have to realize that students have different incentives than other editors, and that it's very possible for them to confound the most obvious ways of detecting plagiarism. Again, I'm not really interested in proving or disproving how student editors compare with other editors, but in finding ways to make student editing as much of a positive as possible. --Tryptofish (talk) 16:10, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
I don't think it's an "edge case" at all, Sage, because it's what I also see, and often. Several students edit a neurobiomedical topic extensively, in one or two days (and never return), and everything they add is either copyvio (not easily detected, a few words changed), or simply not in the sources cited at all, in any way shape or form, although the text appears well written, even professional. In other words, they likely got the text from somewhere else, and don't want to point to those sources lest the copyvio be detected. I agree with Trypto that we shouldn't unintentionally underestimate this problem lest that impede our ability to "fix it"; it has dominated most of my editing experience of late (or more specifically, whatever editing I do towards the end of a university semester or trimester ... ). Best, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:31, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
I wonder if there's something specific about medical topics, perhaps even psychology and medicine, that increases the frequency of copyvio and plagiarism. Sandy's experience has been reported by others in those topic areas, but it seems to be much less frequent (though it still occurs) in other areas. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:31, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
Speaking as a math undergrad, I suspect that some areas of university study do not cover copyvio/plagiarism to the same extent others do ... a division between the sciences and arts, sorta. I didn't really understand copyvio until the Dispatch was written: Let's get serious about plagiarism. Before that, I definitely thought it was OK to copy-paste public domain text to Wikipedia, and there were dozens of instances of Featured article reviews of geology articles that contained direct cut-and-paste of almost entire articles from public domain that passed FAR and retained FA status ... there was a time on Wikipedia when public domain cut-and-paste was routine and accepted, so it is not surprising to me that students of the sciences are not well grounded on copyvio. I do strongly believe we do a disservice to our medical editors if you don't acknowledge that there is a real problem out there, that is affecting our editing ... not just plagiarism, but of students editing topics they are not qualified or prepared to edit, with professors who are not adequately supervising them. But then, I'm also of the opinion that no information on medical topics is better than spreading BAD information, and that like BLPs, we should be able to shoot uncited or poorly cited text on sight. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:17, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
Perhaps. Search the noticeboard archives for "Myoclonic epilepsy". This wasn't a class of thousands unsupervised (though the class were editing topics beyond the expert knowledge of the prof, which isn't at all uncommon). A huge chunk of essentially copy/paste text and the students just thought a citation was sufficient to avoid it being plagiarism. I'm interested to know if Grammarly can see paywalled text or has access to student undergraduate textbooks -- because those are the sources these students are using, neither of which are widely available/used by the general editor base -- hence I very much doubt you can collect enough samples of the "newbie" cohort to compare with the students. The sort of article work I'm seeing students do just isn't being done by newbies at all -- and where it is being done by wikipedians it is by those who actually know the subject. I continue to believe that students doing an "Introduction to ...." topic should not be part of the education program. They don't understand the topic well enough to put it into their own words without completely screwing up, or not bothering -- neither of which is satisfactory. I also believe profs should be strongly advised to ensure students edit within the prof's own subject speciality. Far too many psychology classes editing neurology for example. Colin°Talk 12:03, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
I'll bring up the suggestion I've made before: it might be useful create some specific guidance for student editors working in trickier topic areas (medicine and psychology being the obvious places to start). This could be integrated into the existing training so that at some point, the training makes you select whether you're working on one of these areas or some other, and if it's one of those where a topic-specific training module exists, the training forks off to present that module before returning to the common endpoint. I'm happy to work on integrating it into the training infrastructure if others write the content. We've also seen that the videos in the training are well-received, so making a video about plagiarism to replace the current text content might make it more effective; videos are a chance to go into a little more depth without having people tune out like they do with long blocks of text. (I can't make any commitments, but I might take that on if I can fit it into my schedule at some point.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:30, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
WP:ASSIGN already has a section of advice specific to med/psych/health-related topic editing. That said, I feel quite strongly that our policies on copyvio etc. apply to all topic areas equally, so it's not like it's more OK to copy in some topic areas than in others. --Tryptofish (talk) 17:39, 27 September 2013 (UTC)

My hypothesis is that students are more likely to plagarise from a limited availability documents (theses submitted to their institution, their course notes, articles in locked-down journals, etc). This also seems to be supported by the data. Maybe I'm just a cynic. Stuartyeates (talk) 09:24, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

I think that you are very likely correct about that. As I've thought about the issue some more, however, I find that I increasingly think that it has less to do with either the kinds of sources or the field of study, and more to do with the students' perception of instructor attention to plagiarism. If students think that the instructor (not editors here, because we don't give the grades) is paying close attention and likely to detect any plagiarism, they will generally not attempt it. But if they think that it's easy to get away with, and that everyone else is doing it and getting away with it (thus putting honest students at a competitive disadvantage), they are likely to attempt it. That, I think, is the real reason why there seem to be some class projects where it's rampant (often large, poorly supervised classes), and other classes where it's rarely a problem. --Tryptofish (talk) 19:06, 1 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Thanks for the report and the conversation. Now I am wondering what kind of plagiarism numbers ought to be expected for different demographics and what various plagiarism strategies different populations have. Blue Rasberry (talk) 20:16, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

New plagiarism video in the trainings

On the topic of making the trainings for student editors more effective at heading off plagiarism, I made a new video for the training and replaced the (a little bit cheesy) dialogue that was there before. Have a look: Wikipedia:Training/For_students/Copyright_and_plagiarism. Based on the feedback from users who complete the training, the videos appear to be a high-impact part of the trainings, so this should at least command a little more attention than the previous treatment of plagiarism and copyvio.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:03, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Hi Sage, that's a really good video, very well explained. Thanks for making it! SlimVirgin (talk) 18:40, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
I like everything about the video but I found the audio recording to be a bit distracting. Something about it seemed processed or unnatural. If it would be possible to record these things under any more favorable conditions then I would support making a consideration about whether the extra effort would give enough benefits.
Also, I would support that future such videos only introduce a single work. In this video both Hamlet and Silent Spring were introduced, and as a matter of style I would like to see only a single example carried through the explanation.
The video is great as it is and is very useful without modification. Blue Rasberry (talk) 19:38, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks SlimVirgin and Bluerasberry. The audio sounds very clear to me; I used the best mic I have access to and also did a noise removal on the audio track. I'm not an expert with that kind of thing, though. Can you pin down a bit more what seems unnatural? Good point about the Hamlet image. I took that from Wikipedia:Plagiarism, but it could easily be switched out for a different visual representation of plagiarism; if I do make a revised version at some point, I'll change that.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 20:20, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

On that topic

Sage Ross, per the post above, could anyone here help with this? Cut-and-paste copyvio from a Master's level course and student. Because the new system of course pages is such a mess, I no longer have any idea how to find or where to look for this course and instructor. I am not concerned about the copyvio (which I reverted); I am concerned about how I can find out what the course is so I can make sure we aren't going to again go down the usual path I go down with these courses ... and the new system of course pages is indecipherable to me. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:09, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

The professor is apparently User:Sanetti. I don't see a course page for this class or any for the school. About 20 students have made user pages, findable with a search on "Darwinian Medicine". Most of them have not done anything else yet; a couple have edited in their sandboxes or made simple copyedits. This is the only other significant contribution by a student from the same class that I can find thus far. Hope someone will get in touch with the prof. Maralia (talk) 15:37, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Yep, it looks like this course isn't using a course page. SandyGeorgia, if you're wondering about a particular user, the fastest way to check for a course they are enrolled in is to look at their logs, such as Special:Log/Sarmocid. If they ever joined a course page it will show up there. Sanetti's course is at Case Western in Ohio, so Chanitra Bishop is the regional ambassador for the area; also, Biosthmors is a regional ambassador with an interest in medicine-related courses.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:32, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
@Sage Ross (WMF): Apparently Harvard is also offering a course based on the Evolutionary Medicine Wikipedia Network that Sanetti from CWRU mentioned in her application below. I did a little research and found that Harvard's is also a small class, but a quick check of edits shows some guidance is needed: this edit is a good example of a case where a subarticle is warranted. I was unable to locate the teacher's account, but Harvard's own course page is here. Maralia (talk) 13:11, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
That is another good example of the unfortunate effort these misguided students put into writing WP:UNDUE essays that end up wholesale deleted. The concept that one theory only warrants a few sentences, or maybe a paragraph at times, needs to be conveyed. If they had done that work in sandbox, they might find that one or two sentences can be salvaged. Their efforts are so misguided, and I doubt that anyone feels good about having to wholesale delete a whole lot of undue content added to the wrong article, but that is what most often happens with these specialized courses. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:21, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Problematic Presentation of this Project

I welcome the Plagiarism research project, and (particularly but not solely) Sage Ross (WMF)'s work on this issue. But I just got my regular "Wikipedia Education News" email, which featured it. And I was surprised at the way it was presented, as follows:

"One complaint we've heard from many English Wikipedia experts is that students in the Wikipedia Education Program in the United States and Canada often plagiarized in the articles they created or expanded for Wikipedia as part of their class assignments. While plagiarism is certainly a widespread problem throughout academia, we had heard anecdotally from several professors that the Wikipedia assignment led to less plagiarism than they were used to in their classes. So we investigated by doing a larger plagiarism study comparing our students' work to that of other new editors and experienced editors. While caveats apply, we found that students plagiarize less than other new editors, but more than experienced editors."

This seems misleading on a number of levels. Not least because I (at least) don't believe that plagiarism is "a widespread problem throughout academia." Nor do I personally believe that Wikipedia assignments lead to "less plagiarism than [I am] used to in their classes." More fundamentally, and allowing for the circumstances of a promotional newsletter of this kind, what we see here is a rather severe, and somewhat blithe, simplification of what is a complex issue that nobody (as yet) fully understands. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 04:06, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

@Jbmurray: Thanks for your careful attention to the newsletter I put together! It's always nice to know someone is reading it. :) In the hundreds of conversations I've had with professors at countries around the world, I've often heard that plagiarism is one of the major challenges they face. I realized I alternated between a US/Canada and global characterization in that section; I've updated the wiki version of the newsletter to clarify what I meant. I'm happy to have additional anecdotal evidence from you to counter the other anecdotal evidence of less plagiarism from Wikipedia assignments; I agree that we don't fully understand the complex issue that is plagiarism, but I'll also point out that my communications goal for the newsletter is to pique interest in a subject and then lead people to additional pages where they can get more details (such as the page Sage put together on the details of this research). The newsletter (which gets distributed to more than 1,000 people globally) hopefully drew more attention to Sage's recap of the research project. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 20:52, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for this, LiAnna Davis (WMF), and as I said, I do welcome the serious attempt to think about plagiarism, and I also welcome the newsletter (which I read regularly :) ). I also recognize the constraints of the newsletter, which is not the place for any kind of thorough-going analysis. This reminds me, incidentally, that I've long urged the members of the WEF that there should be some kind of "plagiarism summit" to talk and think about the problem, from the dual perspectives of both academia and Wikipedia.
Concretely, in this instance I'd have said that less would have been more. And for what it's worth, personally I find that while plagiarism is indeed an issue, in my day-to-day teaching it's not in the top five issues I have to deal with, and probably not in the top ten. It becomes an issue at particular times and places, yes, and one of those times and places is at the interface with Wikipedia.
(What are my more pressing issues on a daily basis, you may ask? Ensuring the students read the books, understand the books, have something to say about the books, are able to articulate what they have to say, are able to respond to and give feedback on what others have to say, are able to contribute orally as well as in written form to the class, which therefore brings up class dynamics and the different stages that different students are at... and so on and so forth.)
But yes, when it comes to a Wikipedia assignment, plagiarism comes into focus as a particular issue. (Again, not the number one issue, and probably not in the top three, but it may be in the top five.) How and why that happens is, I think, what we should be considering. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 16:57, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Connect with others using Wikipedia assignments - invitation to EduWiki Conference 2013

Hi All,

Wikimedia UK's second annual EduWiki conference will take place in Cardiff, UK on 1 and 2 November 2013. The registration is open (link on the event page), so anyone interested to attend is welcome to book in October. The conference is a chance to discover opportunities; report lessons learned; and explore how the free, open, learner-centred ethos of Wikimedia overlaps current trends in formal education.

Queries about the conference or any other aspect of Wikimedia UK's Education activities can be sent directly to WMUK's Education Organiser

Many thanks, Daria Cybulska (WMUK) (talk) 15:00, 7 October 2013 (UTC)

Daria Cybulska (WMUK), could you please welcome Wikimedia UK to comment occasionally on the issues raised on this noticeboard sometime? I'm not sure why anyone needs to travel to a conference to learn from Wikimedia UK. =) It would be nice to go, but I can't make it. I do think person to person communication is invaluable, which is why I support conferences, generally speaking. But I'm not sure if it represents a good community value to go to a conference if we haven't even started to communicate on the noticeboard here or at WT:ASSIGN. That's just my two cents. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:57, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
Wikimedia UK is fairly active on the education mailing list, and I think this was just a notification to let anyone who frequents this page know they are welcome to attend. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 21:42, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
Of course. And I would honestly like to attend. I might even do so. But I recently got invited to go to a European country for some Wikimedia conference (travel paid, within Europe). So really my comment relates to this: Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2013-10-02/News and notes. I tend to question the value of the money chapters are spending, as Sue and many others also do. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 21:57, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
I wonder if I am on this education mailing list... Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 22:01, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
I will notify Toni, the Education Organiser, so he is aware there may be discussions here to be involved with. It would be great to see you at the event and discuss further, although since we are not financially supporting everyone's attendance I will understand if that's not possible. Daria Cybulska (WMUK) (talk) 18:24, 10 October 2013 (UTC)

WMF blog posts, but the education ones are where?

So if I am at how do I get to education-related posts? The website isn't intuitive. I don't see any help on the left side. Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 22:35, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

This point I completely agree with you about! :) The education posts are at: — and you will be glad to know that we are in the process of rolling out a completely new blog, which will have Education as one of the navigation categories. There will be more detailed information from my colleagues in communications published soon, hopefully. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 22:51, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
=) Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 22:59, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
I havent promoted it here (my bad) but there is also a wiki newsletter much like This month in GLAM at [1] Editions come out on the 15th so there is still time to add something to the newsroom!Thelmadatter (talk) 15:15, 10 October 2013 (UTC)

Assistance with Education Program extension on English Wikinews

Hi. The Education Program Extension was installed on English Wikinews after community discussion. I set up a demo class at Education Program:The Wikinewsie Group/New reporters (2013). I then wanted to create what amounts to a landing page for educators at Wikinews:Education, which is basically copying and pasting from Wikipedia where relevant because the basic structure looks really good and appears to have been tested extensively through use on English Wikipedia. I keep getting errors with the coding. Can anyone assist in basically duplicating the structure and pages so that the Wikipedia specific portions can then be taylored to fit the specific needs of English Wikinews? Thanks. --LauraHale (talk) 10:00, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

And looking around at Wikipedia:Training/For educators/About the classroom module,, would some one possibly be interested in assisting us on Wikinews in creating something like the sample syllabus like this one for Wikipedia? While we have the resources to deal with student submissions, assuming we have advanced warning, we do lack some of the resources on project to develop a lot of training materials like this. Some of the materials we do have are at Wikinews training materials and Bookshelf/Wikinews. --LauraHale (talk) 12:05, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Implementation question: Do other languages have ambassador programs? How do smaller non-English Wikipedia projects handle the ambassador thing? We don't have the capacity to create a special class to work with students, but we do have community support to provide additional attention for students if we know they are part of a course. --LauraHale (talk) 06:27, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
Worked on n:Wikinews:Education/Classroom index], which is based on Wikipedia:Training/For educators/Classroom index. The whole thing was extensively cut down. (English Wikinews has no culture of barnstars. You do not edit existing articles, and you can submit an article for publication on the first edit to the article you create. Thus, looking at individual contributor edit histories is less useful.) A lot of the one-to-one copying pretty much tanks here. :/ Any advice on what I am missing that can be created without an extensive time commitment at this point? Otherwise, I feel like the next best option is to do specific lesson plan creation and do a better job building it into a teacher training module. And yeah, feedback on this in the classroom index from people who have dealt more with teacher expectations? --LauraHale (talk) 20:39, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

Just noting that I talked with LauraHale about some of this on IRC (although more I'm sure she'd welcome more input).--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:53, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Marimfdh (talk)


Maryam Abdullah Almufadhi


Princess Nora Bint Abdul Rahman University

Course title and description

Computer Assisted Translation : The course aims to improve students technical skills with regards to translation so using Wikipedia to translate articles from English into Arabic will help them practice the tools covered in the course (Computer Assisted Translation Tools such as glossaries and translation memories) as well as enhance their "media and information fluency" as was stated in the Wikipedia Training/For Educators/Learning Goals. The students enrolled in this course are advanced undergraduates who have taken various translation courses and practiced translation intensively. Wikipedia will be used to translate English articles that are not available in Arabic. We will be working with the WikiProjectويكيبيديا:مشاريع_ويكي/ترجمة to enrich Arabic content on Arabic Wikipedia.

Assignment plan

We wil be adding Arabic translations of articles available on English Wikipedia. Students will either choose an English article that has no corresponding Arabic article or further develop stub Arabic articles which have a full English version.

Number of students

I teach 3 groups, the total number of students is 84.

Start and end dates

Starts on Monday 21st of October, 2013 - ends on 16th of January, 2014.

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Marimfdh (talk) 13:45, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

I think we don't need to do anything here. They will be using English pages and translate them into Arabic pages. Translation can be done with or without instructor rights or Education Program module. OhanaUnitedTalk page 15:11, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
@Marimfdh: We also have a program on the Arabic Wikipedia; please reach out to Tighe Flanagan at to get access to information in Arabic. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 17:22, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Ldmanthroling (talk)


Lev Michael


UC Berkeley

Course title and description

Linguistics 150 (Sociolinguistics): This is an upper division linguistics course focusing on variationist sociolinguistics and language contact. As part of the course, students form groups of 3-4 individuals to develop new pages for important topics in sociolinguistics that do not yet have dedicated pages.

Assignment plan

Students will develop new pages on important topics in sociolinguistics that do not yet have dedicated pages. The goals are both the improve the coverage of these important topics on Wikipedia, and to provide students with an opportunity to create a useful resource in a supportive environment (including in-class evaluation and discussion) that takes advantage of the expertise they are developing in the course.

Number of students


Start and end dates

August 29, 2013 - December 10, 2013

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Ldmanthroling (talk) 22:23, 12 October 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

Request for course instructor right: Sanetti (talk)


Cynthia Beall


Case Western Reserve University

Course title and description

Anthropology 302 Darwinian Medicine. Darwinian (evolutionary) medicine deals with evolutionary aspects of modern human disease. It applies the concepts and methods of evolutionary biology to the question of why we are vulnerable to disease. The purpose of this course is to understand the approach of Darwinian (evolutionary) medicine and apply it to explain “Why We Get Sick”. The content includes general hypotheses about the evolutionary bases of diseases (defenses, infection, novel environments, genes, design compromises, and evolutionary legacies) and tests of those hypotheses using information about a wide variety of contemporary diseases.

In the medical context, evolutionary medicine is seen as a basic science that plays an important role in understanding health and disease. In the evolutionary biology context, evolutionary medicine provides opportunities to test and refine fundamental concepts using a well-understood and documented species. In the anthropological context, evolutionary medicine expands understanding of human evolution, adaptation, and variation

Level of students: advanced undergraduates, M.A. level graduate students

How Wikipedia fits into the syllabus. One of the course requirements is the following.

Goals Wikipedia is increasingly used as a medical reference resource by the general public and medical students. This assignment is designed to contribute to the goals of the Evolutionary Medicine Wikipedia Network (EvMedWikiNet), identified as a priority by the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) working group on evolutionary medicine education ( ) . The goal of the EvMedWikiNet is to add evolutionary considerations to existing Wikipedia medicine articles and to develop new pages on key terms and concepts in evolutionary medicine. The EvMedWikiNet aims to make Wikipedia entries on Evolutionary Medicine topics up-to-date, reliable, cross­linked and accessible to the general public while integrating effectively with existing Wikipedia content.

Which experienced editors and/or WikiProjects you'll be working with None so far. I would like to do so and welcome suggestions.

Assignment plan

Assignment overview This assignment has several stages. Students will develop a wikipedia account, review wikipedia resources, identify a page to edit, edit the page, and review and discuss changes with other students in class, and perhaps from other classes, and keep a log of their work.

Number of students 18

Start and end dates August 26, 2013 start, December 6, 2013 end.

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Sanetti (talk) 19:35, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

Granted. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 01:01, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
Ummm. I just happened to see this on edit summary. This might have been a good time to raise the issue I mentioned on this page, just today. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:28, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
And now this. I have left a message for this instructor, but can someone now please tell me where and how to find the course page? The changes made to course pages are indecipherable. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:39, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
User:SandyGeorgia, because they're special, ;-) they're at Special:Courses. Now if only we could get all classes to follow WP:STUDENTUSER. Best. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 13:57, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Kevin Rutherford, are you aware if this instructor (hello Sanetti!) knows about WP:MEDRS? Did you happen to explain that to them on Skype? Best. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 14:00, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, I got sidetracked. The professor contacted me, and I owe her a long response. What needs to be conveyed (in all of these similar situations) is the issue of WP:UNDUE that happens when a group of editors focus on a narrow interest range, and want to chunk up a Featured article with undue content on one small area of that topic. So, what needs to be explained is how to apply UNDUE in the context of MEDRS (what do secondary sources say about evolutionary theories in autism, and how much space should that take up on an article?) Students tend to write essays on a topic, and want to place that entire essay in an already comprehensive article which gives due weight to different theories ... Bios, the professor has been open to advice, and I just haven't had time to type it up for her yet. But the concern is that this is precisely the type of course that can leave me tearing my hair out at multiple articles ... the poor students think they are doing the right thing, when they end up breaching UNDUE to chunk up articles with specific theories. Best, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:08, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Update on development of the Education Program extension (course pages)

I wanted to give a quick update on the current plans for developing the extension, since that's a perennial topic here.

After a few months without dedicated support, we now have a developer who has started working on the extension, Andrew Green. Andrew will be working for the next few months to fix as many of the bugs and user interface problems as possible. (He submitted his first patch today!) Andrew will probably not be undertaking any major re-engineering of the extension, which will likely put some of the prominent bugs out of reach, but we'll see what we can do.

In the longer term, I've started talking with the Growth team (the ones who developed the GettingStarted features, among other things) about a future replacement for the Education Program extension, one that would be more tightly integrated into the wikis and would also be built with diverse uses in mind: education programs, as well as in-person events like editing workshops and edit-a-thons, and other sorts of outreach involving a discrete group of users. It's just at the planning stage at this point, so that may or may not be the direction things go in the future.

If you have thoughts on what small tweaks and improvements you would most like to see, let me know. That will be helpful as Andrew and I start to plan out his development priorities.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 21:17, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Hi, everyone, really great to be on board! --Andrew Green (talk) 00:41, 16 October 2013 (UTC)


  1. This page for example, shows "course count" as 2 even though clicking on it only shows 1 course. And the student count is wrong since one course alone has 3 students. The student count error can also be found on other pages such as this one. The total count for 2 courses (1 current, 1 passed) is 48 students, not 47 indicated in the summary box.
  2. Student should not be adding html page link to article selection, see here.


  1. Enrollment token should be plain text, not clickable link. This prevents avoid accidental (or curious) clicking.
  2. Enable the option so that instructor, course coordinator, online volunteer, and campus volunteer the ability to add article (just like what each individual student can do for themselves currently)

OhanaUnitedTalk page 01:45, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

Thanks much. The two bugs are known, and I think Andrew is exploring the first one (among other issues that seem to be database-related) right now. The second shouldn't be too hard; I'd like to see the course pages automatically convert html article links into plain article titles. The enrollment token link is an important interface point; that link can actually be very useful (since instructors can send that link to students, and they can enroll with a single click without having to manually enter the token, and it works even if they don't have an account yet as long as they click the 'return to' link after registration), but it's more confusing than helpful in the current form. The option for others to add articles for students is a much-requested feature; I'm not sure how tough it will be to implement, but we'll see if we can make it happen.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:12, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

Would it be possible to include documentation templates in the header and footer, so that editors rather than developers can fine-tune the documentation? Stuartyeates (talk) 21:21, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

@Stuartyeates: Which header and footer do you mean?--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:51, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
As they stand pages like Education_Program:Red_Deer_College, Special:Courses and Special:CampusVolunteers are not self explanatory. Pages such as Special:Watchlist do a much better job of this and we need a way to add information without cycling through a developer every time. Stuartyeates (talk) 01:41, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
Ah. That's a good suggestion. We'll keep that in mind.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:57, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

CSD G13 of student work

I saw this in my watchlist this evening. Does anyone track such things? Stuartyeates (talk) 03:20, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: phoebe / (talk to me)


Phoebe Ayers


UC Davis, etc. etc. :)

Course title and description

I'm training professors in several workshops at UC Davis, Samuel Merritt and Northwestern this fall and I'd like the course instructor right to experiment, see how the system works, etc. No specific course at the moment. thanks! phoebe / (talk to me) 17:38, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --phoebe / (talk to me) 17:38, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

Hello user:phoebe. Thanks for all of your contributions. I see Kevin Gorman got you squared away. Thanks Kevin. I shared some ideas recently over at the m:Wikimedia Foundation Board noticeboard that haven't received any replies. But it doesn't look like an active discussion area at the moment. I was also curious about when then next board meeting would be and where the minutes would be posted. Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 11:53, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
@Biosthmors: hey there -- I replied on the meta page. Thanks for the ping. -- phoebe / (talk to me) 20:12, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

Campus Ambassador application: Aashaa

Aashaa (talk · contribs)

  1. Why do you want to be a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    As a Wikipedia Ambassador i get enough great chance for promoting and developing wiki culture to my University Students and friends. I am a graduate student of International Relations of my University. I have more then 3 years experience as a contributor of my Bengali Language wikipedia. As a campus ambassador, i enjoy share my experience to develop more information in Bangla and Bangladesh related pages at English Wikipedia.
  2. Where are you based, and which educational institution(s) do you plan to work with as a Campus Ambassador?
    I'm from Dhaka, Bangladesh. Presently, i'm a student of Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka, which has more then 30 thousands students and a notable University at Bangladesh.
  3. What is your academic and/or professional background?
    I complete my undergraduate study on International Relations, i've earned a Honors degree Bachelor in Social Science. Now, i study in Graduate level of International Relations at My university. I've work as a freelancer journalist on Science, Technology, Youth, Development and Education at Daily Prothom Alo, a national newspaper of Bangladesh. I also joined with open source software movement at Bangladesh.
  4. In three sentences or less, summarize your prior experience with Wikimedia projects.
    Since 2009, i've got a new window of learning & sharing of what i know. Prior experience with different Wikimedia projects helps me to get various types of different informations about me, myself, my world.
  5. What else should we know about you that is relevant to being a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    At my university, i've connection with more then 10 student club and 5 more societies, which helps me to get more interaction for establishment a great wiki culture at University of Dhaka.

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Aashaa (talk) 19:21, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

that is exactly the skill set we need to promote Wikipedia there. Let me ask what language will be used in Wiki-oriented courses at the University of Dhaka--English in the English Wiki or what?? Rjensen (talk) 19:53, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
At University of Dhaka both English (as a medium of university degree) and Bengali language (as native language) will be used. Besides this, every year a thousand of students learn Japanese, French and Spanish from the language institute of the university. This may be a good tool for wikipedia!--Aashaa (talk) 03:46, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
I recommend writing just for the English language Wikipedia. Rjensen (talk) 04:10, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for your recommendation. I hope i do a good amount of work for this.--Aashaa (talk) 04:41, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
@Rjensen:Hold up! Why do you recommend this? The Bangla community is awesome. Why should school groups not contribute to the local language? Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:23, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
Dear, @ Blue Rasberry i'm directly involved at the various work of Bangla Wikipedia Community. In my University i've great chance to involvement to engage more pupil for both in English and Bangla Wikipedia. I already initiated a assignment group on developing Bangladesh, Dhaka and University of Dhaka related wiki pages with information and images. Next January 2014, I'll start my M. Phil program which related on international relations and international media. This scopes helps me to generate university knowledge and information about the local wikipedia and also for English wikipedia. I've a sincere contribution to my local language. To generate local information toward global information i am now contributing in english!--Aashaa (talk) 19:25, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
User:Aashaa - as you like! If you wish to contribute in English then do so, and you can contribute in Bangla if you wish. Blue Rasberry (talk) 19:37, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
Have you met any of the Wikipedians in Dhaka? You must have, if you have been working on Bangla Wikipedia for so long. One of the projects we are discussing is meta:Grants:IEG/Colours of Bangladesh. I think that this group my be interested in partnering with you. I may also be able to help with this. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:48, 20 October 2013 (UTC)
Yes! Since 2008, from the beginning of my University life- i met and close connection with a lot of Wikipedians in Dhaka. Wikipedia Administrator in Bangla Ragib, Bellayet, Nasir8891 &Wikitanvir; and Wikimedia Bangladesh's president munirhasan with senior Wikipedians like nhasive and many other more are very known to me for promoting and developing Wikipedia Culture and more wiki related activities in Bangladesh and a little in India. You could visit my contribution [[2]]! I already heard about the project and ready to act as a volunteer. Yes, you are right-we, the wikipedians as a group complete this types of initiative. I attended as a junior contributor of [Wikipedia Unconference 2012] . Beside this i was attened as a speaker and act as a demonstrator of Wikipedia Seminar at University of Rajshahi, 300 KM away from another old capital city of Bangladesh, at last winter. At July 2012, i visit India office of Wikimedia Foundation at New Delhi, India. There i saw a lots of campus young and enthusiastic Ambassador. Since then i herad abouth this program and warmly waiting for the next step..--Aashaa (talk) 15:56, 20 October 2013 (UTC)
I would love to see the education program become more established at the U of D. I just gave you the userright to be a campus volunteer. If you ever find a professor and class who would be willing to try to do a Wikipedia assignment, or if you ever want to talk about this program more, then contact me and I will help you with it. Blue Rasberry (talk) 19:35, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
Dear, i've already connected with four university professor and associate professor who are asking me to do Wikipedia assignment through their class at University of Dhaka. I could connect with them to you through email. My university teacher are very serious about this. That i asked for the User Right of Campus Ambassador. You probably know here in Bangladesh its little tough to work without any authorization of institution for do any types of work in University and many other government institutions. Its good to hear that being a campus volunteer, i need to do work more initiative for the great position of First Wikipedia Campus Ambassador of University of Dhaka! Thanks for your support. I'll quickly connect you through email.--Aashaa (talk) 19:52, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

Online Ambassador application: q4pradeep


q4pradeep (talk · contribs)

  1. Why do you want to be a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    I Love to Work with this open Wiki, and wanna help friends over the world to keep the article best on Wiki. I found several mistakes

articles from India corrected them and now I'm interested making my contribution to Wiki.

  1. In three sentences or less, summarize your involvement with Wikimedia projects.
    Want to help the projects simple and efficient.
  2. Please indicate a few articles to which you have made significant content contributions. (e.g. DYK, GA, FA, major revisions/expansions/copy-edits).
    I made a few editing in several articles and modified several dates.
  3. How have you been involved with welcoming and helping new users on Wikipedia?
    I just love to share info on FB and G+ about articles from wiki than any other sources.
  4. What do you see as the most important ways we could welcome newcomers or help new users become active contributors?
    It's just by sending appreciation mails to good contributors. And other things such as sending them badges and other cool stuff.
  5. Have you had major conflicts with other editors? Blocks or bans? Involvement in arbitration? Feel free to offer context, if necessary.
    No, never.
  6. 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 spend about 3 hours on internet alone daily browsing something or the other. I prefer Wikipedia for reading articles. And other information several companies.
  7. How would you make sure your students were not violating copyright laws?
    I'll cross check their articles and I'll make my best effort to avoid flaws.
  8. If one of your students had an issue with copyright violation how would you resolve it?
    First I'll ask him to modify the article, and I'll send apologizing mail to the copyright holder, I'll try making compromise upto my level best
  9. In your _own_ words describe what copyright violation is.
    To be frank I just gone wikipedia and read this article ""
  10. What else should we know about you that is relevant to being a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    I'm a student of undergraduate, self under took web designing projects, Video Editing projects running own website


(Two endorsements are needed for online ambassador approval.)

  • Oppose. User:q4pradeep, Online Ambassadors need substantial Wikipedia experience. Do we need to change our documentation to make this clear? You are more than welcome to gain that experience. We always welcome new editors. Feel free to ask questions at the WP:Teahouse if you need help. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 08:22, 23 October 2013 (UTC)


I have expressed a potential interest in getting WP:ASSIGN up to a guideline level on the talk page there (WT:ASSIGN#Guideline). Please comment there if you are interested in the possibility or if you have any advice. Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:47, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Breamk (talk)


Kent Bream


University of Pennsylvania

Course title and description

Medical Missionaries and Community Partners. This course develops a historic approach to understanding medical missionaries in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Assignment plan

Students are required to create or significantly improve a wikipedia page on a notable medical missionary or missionary organization. The course has been runnign for si years with numerous pages created and edited.

Number of students


Start and end dates

Sept 2013-Jan 2014

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Breamk (talk) 23:54, 20 October 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

Hey, Kent! Glad to have you and your students back editing this term. Let's see if someone can get you the appropriate user rights to pick back up where you left off. :) Thanks for coming to the noticeboard to ask for the user rights—I guess you see that we've created this Education extension since you last participated! JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 20:18, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
Hi Breamk. Thank you for your interest in Wikipedia. =) I saw in the email (thanks Jami, could we post it here, perhaps?) that your class had some articles withheld in WP:Articles for creation last time. Does anyone know if we have learned from that experience so that the students will get perhaps improved instruction on how to create Wikipedia articles, so that their work might more consistently improve the encyclopedia? What has changed in the assignment from last semester to this semester? I haven't had a chance to evaluate your old course page yet. Could we link it here? Thanks all. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 08:28, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
There are actually only 2 students whose articles did not make it through AfC (one because the editor questioned the reliability of sources and one because the editor thought it read too much like an essay). The other 10+ students seem to have added very good articles for new editors. I think this is Kent's demonstration that he can train his students to add good content. Do you disagree? JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 17:10, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
Also, I think professors who have already taught with Wikipedia tend to do better and better work each semester. I've seen this with dozens of folks because they learn as they go, get a feel for Wikipedia, and in general are teaching something a second or third time around. Kent already worked extensively on his assignment last year, and I'm sure he's spent a lot of time improving it after that experience. That's not to say we shouldn't continue guiding and counseling professors along the way, but I do think we should be wary of creating so many barriers to entry for people who've not only already demonstrated they're valuable to Wikipedia but are likely to become even more so as time goes on. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 17:16, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
I recently talked with a professor who has been, for several years, getting his students to contibribute without understanding how we base articles off of WP:SECONDARY sources and not WP:PRIMARY ones as a matter of policy. I'm not trying to create a barrier. I just want there to be a "check" for Wikipedians to say "we suggest X" or "please don't do Y". Can we get a link to the last course page so that we might pick out X and Y? And the two AfCs? I'm about to get ready for bed and I don't have the time or energy to dig it out myself. If some RA wants to grant the user right then by all means. I just want to do some due diligence on my/Wikipedia's end. As for quality, I've only done one serious good article review, Talk:Malaria/GA2, and I kept finding text–source integrity issues. I'd have to start evaluating text–source integrity for many articles in the class and then a random sample of new editors before I can comment intelligently about article quality. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 22:06, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
Wikipedia:USEP/Courses/Medical Missionaries to Community Partners: Great Ideas in the name of Public Health (Kent Bream) is the course page and User:Bluerasberry was an online ambassador. Lane, do you have any comments on the strengths vs. weaknesses of 2012 course? Did you provide any feedback at that time on how the class might perform better for 2013 and beyond? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 09:29, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
No, I do not have any feedback and I was not deeply engaged. I just posted an offer to chat on the instructor's talk page. If this person wishes, I will give them a tour of Wikipedia, help them setup their course page, and then be on call to support the class when students take up articles. See my message at User_talk:Breamk#A_cup_of_coffee_for_you.21. User:Biosthmors has some concerns but still, I would support the granting of instructor rights to this user now. Biosthmors? Do you have enough information to feel comfortable doing this? Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:33, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
Special:UserRights/Breamk shows they were granted already, which I don't oppose. If I see, upon inspection, that there are specific directions the class' work should go in, that opinion could change, in the sense that we should communicate those things before granting the user right, in my opinion. It just seems like a natural responsibility that Ambassadors to academia on behalf of Wikipedia should welcome (communicating the strengths and weaknesses of student output, so courses can evolve and improve). Thanks for the note. Best. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 13:42, 24 October 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Garcia-FM


Ignacio Garcia.


University of Western Sydney.

Course title and description

Interpreting and Translation Professional Practicum – The course aims to improve students translation skills using Wikipedia to translate articles from English into Arabic, Chinese, Japanese or Spanish. The students enrolled in this course are advanced undergraduates who have taken various translation courses and practiced translation intensively. Wikipedia will be used to translate English articles that are not available in those languages.

Assignment plan

Students will either choose an English article that has no corresponding article in the other language or further develop stub articles in their language which have a full English version.

Number of students

About forty

Start and end dates

March-April 2014

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Garcia-FM 02:26, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

Education program userrights

Where can I find documentation on the education program userrights? Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:25, 24 October 2013 (UTC)

WP:Course coordinator. Best. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 13:26, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
Okay, that is scant, and I am not sure that the talk page for that documentation is best for discussing education program userrights.
I have course coordinator userrights. It seems like inherent in that userright is the "campus volunteer" userright, but not the "online volunteer" userright. Is that the way it should be? Should not the "course coorindator" userright make a person also instantly a campus and online volunteer? Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:37, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
I think this is related to the problem I perceive with the current three ways to be an Ambassadors, which I find lacking. Who came up with that system? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 13:45, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
If we are going to the source, then I would like to have a chat with whoever knows the system and then have documentation of what these userrights are. Also, it seems like no more ambassadors! There are coordinators and volunteers. Should we stop saying ambassador? Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:54, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
@Bluerasberry: I agree the userrights are a bit muddled; it's on the agenda for improvements to the extension, although not near the top at this point. (The small adjustment of making it unnecessary to explicitly assign online or campus rights to coordinators is trivial, and I'll see that this happens soon.) As I've brought up here before and discussants seemed to think was a good idea, I think we only need one volunteer right; there's no need to separate the two ambassador roles within the software, and it just adds an extra layer of complexity for no benefit. If our developer gets through the higher-priority issues quickly, we may be able to tackle this in the next few months; otherwise, it may need to wait until the potential redesign by the Growth team next year(-ish). On the terminology, we changed from "ambassadors" to "volunteers" to make the system more general. Editors who are not participating in formal education programs (or education programs that are set up differently from the US/Canada ones) can also use it (although that has not really happened so far on If the Growth team takes on the project of building a replacement, one of the main goals (as we've talked about it so far) will be to make it as good as possible for many different kinds of outreach programs instead of built around the needs and assumptions of the US/Canada education programs.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:08, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the explanation. It is not that I care about the bureaucracy of doing things in a certain way. It's just that when I expect things to work in one way, and then they do not, then it makes me wonder if I am using the system improperly. Now that I understand what is happening I do not need anything changed anytime soon, and if others are confused I can explain it to them.
I also wish for this model to be applied to non-university organizations and I hope that there is as much potential for that as for outreach to schools. Thanks. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:14, 24 October 2013 (UTC)


I've started User:Biosthmors/RfC to jot down some of my thoughts. Feel free to start a talk page with comments. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 17:06, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

Concern about an AFD

I have some concerns about this AFD that might need some assistance. An editor has worked on the article (and not much else) since August but has said it is part of an assignment for Coastal Carolina University and that he is one of 125 "travel" students who have been assigned to write articles (an assignment apparently suspended pending the outcome of the AFD).

I'm not sure how credible the claim is (or whether it is an elaborate AFD ruse) but I thought if there was some way someone could contact the university... If it is legit, the lecturer (and his/her students) could do with some assistance. If it's not, a quick call/email to the uni should sort it. Would appreciate suggestions. Stalwart111 14:04, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

User:JMathewson (WMF), can't we have that google spreadhsheet with the colleges and Regional Ambassadors on Wikipedia? That would help make things like this more efficient, in my opinion. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 14:08, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
Also, who is the private "+ 1 more" person who can view that spreadsheet currently besides you and the Regional Ambassadors? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 14:09, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
Stalwart, I don't see it on that spreadsheet. Is it on anyone else's radar? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 14:13, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
It seems like Wiki Voyage is an appropriate place for this. If the instructor/students are doing a project with a sister project, then there isn't always going to be the communication between the class and this part of Wikimedia. I have experience working with Wikinews. But perhaps if we find out who the instructor is then that course/instructor/students could be "gently" directed to the more appropriate site with a contact there. Just a suggestion, Crtew (talk) 15:17, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
No, this isn't a class I've ever heard of or known anything about, though I'm happy to try and contact the professor. @Biosthmors: There are privacy issues with almost all of that information in that spreadsheet. What information do you want available on-wiki? The non-RA person on the spreadsheet is probably Sage, as I shared it with him a while back, but I don't think he's on the RA listserv anymore. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 17:28, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
Everything but the private info. =) I'm assuming the real names of the professors is not private, though, right? Brian Carver edits anonymously, though he still runs assignments. So this would be Institution, Professor name, Class name (such as a link to the course page), and Regional Ambassador username (I think the real name should be disclosed to the Professor, with the understanding it might get to the students), if one has been assigned. If the subheadings were the 10 regions (aren't there 10), then that would be awesome. And actually that should serve as the place where Regional Ambassadors should be listed (assuming we don't redesign the Ambassador program after the WEF spin-off). That's something for a RfC, in my opinion. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 18:01, 9 October 2013 (UTC)
Jumping in randomly here, I do not think you could anonymize the list well enough to preserve privacy. If you know a USA person's zipcode,, date of birth and gender, you can probably personally identify them based on that alone. There is also the seminal case described here. Unless there is a compelling reason otherwise, I cannot see a reason for them to share personally identifying information. --LauraHale (talk) 19:58, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure anyone suggested that kind of fine grain detail—just classes, colleges, and regions (and maybe names?), which would be the bare necessities for the program anyway czar  23:36, 13 October 2013 (UTC)
User:LauraHale, the Regional Ambassadors are now required to post real-life names in Wikimedia space. I oppose this requirement. But I support a requirement for publicly available real names for instructors who run Wikipedia assignments per WP:ASSIGN, which describes when contact with the instructors can become necessary. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:50, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
@ Biosthmors , What information do you particularly want in the database that you do not have access to for privacy reasons and why? Can you explain the need and how you would deal with potential privacy related issues for students? (This is something I am very curious about given that I am working on English Wikinews to create a formal education program.) I'm personally fine with users being required to post their real names when interacting with classes, but this largely stems from general experiences on Wikinews, solving problems with credibility and accountability. --LauraHale (talk) 13:05, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
LauraHale, I have access to the document. I want the community to have access to a list that would include the Institution, Professor name, Class name (such as a link to the course page), and Regional Ambassador username (I think the real name should be disclosed to the Professor, with the understanding it might get to the students), if one has been assigned. If the subheadings were the 10 regions (aren't there 10), then that would be awesome. And actually that should serve as the place where Regional Ambassadors should be listed (assuming we don't redesign the Ambassador program after the WEF spin-off). That's something for a RfC, in my opinion. (I stated this above.) I think you are mistaken when you start asking for explanations about how this would create privacy concerns for the students, because I am suggesting nothing of the sort. As for users, Online Ambassadors are not required to post their real names, and I strongly support this position. JMathewson (WMF), could we get that list on Wikipedia? Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 16:43, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
@Biosthmors: The reason that information isn't on a separate WP page as of now is because we used to have pages with that type of course information, but the extension essentially replaced it. If you go to the Courses list, you can find the class name, professor, and institution. It's basically the same information minus the personal contact information in the RA database. Hopefully with the new changes to the extension, there will be a "coordinator" role, which RAs can take. We were really just trying to minimize the number of pages that 1) don't get used and 2) duplicate other ones. What's the reason for wanting a new one on WP? The RA database as it stands is for you guys to have contact info (which we can't post here). What pieces are missing from the extension? JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 17:39, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
See here where Sage connects the dots for people? This info should be public, in my opinion. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 16:16, 24 October 2013 (UTC)

─────────────────────────Would me posting the real names of professors be WP:OUTING? If so, why does the WMF think it is OK to force volunteer Regional Ambassadors to reveal their real names? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:57, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

WMF? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 22:39, 31 October 2013 (UTC)


  • I now believe the reason nobody has been made aware of this "class" is that the class itself doesn't exist. One of our clever colleagues just pointed out that the "student" in question has a username that just happens to be the same as the CEO of the company being written about. The blog on the company's site makes a similar claim about the article being written as a "university paper" but attributes the work to group of Florida students instead. The story is starting to fall apart. Stalwart111 03:09, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
Weird. I haven't looked into it myself, but thank you for your vigilance. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:47, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

Campus Ambassador application: Birajkarmakar

Birajkarmakar (talk · contribs)

  1. Why do you want to be a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    As a lover of wikipedia, i want to join it.also I want to help recruit new Wikipedia contributors on campus,Organize engaging on-campus events to encourage editing (and continued editing) of Wikipedia,think of creative ways for promoting Wikipedia in my region etc.
  2. Where are you based, and which educational institution(s) do you plan to work with as a Campus Ambassador?
    Dr.B.C.Roy Engineering College,Durgapur,West Bengal,India
  3. What is your academic and/or professional background?
    B.Tech, 4th year
  4. In three sentences or less, summarize your prior experience with Wikimedia projects.
    I am great lover of wikipedia. Always read wikipedia documents for particular Searching.I know how to edit wikipedia.
  5. What else should we know about you that is relevant to being a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    myself mozilla reps also foss evangelist.

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Birajkarmakar (talk) 10:12, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

  • Support Looks like they will benefit with the rights. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 15:50, 15 October 2013 (UTC)
Kevin Rutherford, could you edit your name in the origin spot of the automated post above so your name (Ktr101) will eventually match in times like this? I'm not sure, without looking first, how one would do this, though. Best. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:09, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
And User:JMathewson (WMF), could you please remove Daniel Simanek from that list? He is out of the program. Is anyone else no longer an active Regional Ambassador? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:11, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
I removed Daniel. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 22:41, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Not yet. No demonstrated commitment to the project. User:Birajkarmakar, could you not join Wikipedia first as a volunteer? That way you'll learn things like what is listed at WP:ASSIGN. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:53, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

IRC office hour—Wednesday, 10/30, 8pm eastern

We welcome you to join some WMF and WEF US/Canada education program folks for an IRC office hour on Wednesday, October 30th, from 8-9pm eastern (10/31 0:00 UTC). We can use this time to answer questions, receive feedback, and discuss the transition from WMF to WEF. We will be using the #wikimedia-office channel, and we look forward to speaking with you! JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 20:48, 29 October 2013 (UTC)

We will be posting the archive here. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 18:02, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
Great. Thanks. By the way, JMathewson (WMF), the edit you made (by responding to a talk page comment) is one that shouldn't be marked as minor. Best. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 18:18, 30 October 2013 (UTC)


Here are the logs. Thanks to everyone who participated!--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:28, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

Query on meta about the WEF

Here. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 17:41, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

I replied on meta. Pjthepiano (talk) 05:06, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Humphrey.Southall (talk)


Humphrey Southall (Humphrey.Southall)


University of Portsmouth, UK.

Course title and description

Applied Human Geography – The course introduces first year undergraduates to the processes of independent research, including exposing their work to a process of open review.

Assignment plan

Each sudent is assigned an existing stub article about a different British village, and is required to expand it up to c.1,0000 words (formally: not more than four sides of A4 paper when printed using Wikipedia default settings). We work only with articles that have not been edited, other than by bots, for at least 12 months. The villages we use are all also Civil Parishes, so we can be sure there are a variety of only sources they can use, notably recent and historical census data.

Number of students

About fifty

Start and end dates

January-May 2014

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Garcia-FM 02:26, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

How many words? How familiar are you with Wikipedia? How do you know these expansions are desired for Wikipedia's purposes? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 17:21, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

Contributing to Wikipedia brochure rewrite: draft text is up

LiAnna posted a few weeks ago asking for feedback on the "Welcome to Wikipedia" brochure, which is used for many in-person outreach events like edit-a-thons and is also often given out to students who are going to do Wikipedia assignments. We've now posted draft text for a completely rewritten version (tentatively retitled Contributing to Wikipedia: A guide to improving the online encyclopedia). Feedback or edits at this point would be really helpful — especially from anyone who has used the previous version of the brochure or has wanted a physical, printed piece of welcome literature when working with newcomers.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:54, 22 October 2013 (UTC)

Thanks Sage. Is there a deadline? I was away last week but I hope to have good suggestions this time around. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 08:31, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
We want to have the text essentially finalized by 15 November.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:36, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
Can English Wikipedia get its own version? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 13:34, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
If, by the final version, you (or anyone else) feels like there were too many compromises to avoid content, then yes, anyone can make a more localized version. The source files will be available. That said, I'm pretty sure that we can write it in a way that works well for without being exclusive to it.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:49, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 14:04, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
Note to self. Comment on this further. I suppose one could have a full time job just commenting on things the WMF wants volunteers to comment on. Can I get paid for that? I couldn't comment on the $6 million the FDC was considering spending on chapters. Can I get reimbursed by the WMF for commenting on things? Do I need to start a consulting company and charge the WMF for my advice? It's kind of ridiculous how many things the WMF expects someone to have the time to comment on. Like we shouldn't already be busy enough trying to write an encyclopedia... WMF? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 09:09, 1 November 2013 (UTC)
Comments from Biosthmors
  • Why link the community portal? I don't think the community uses it because the Wikipedia:Community bulletin board was outdated with something from July. I made that edit. We should just link people to the Village Pumps and link them to the Signpost and tell them they can put Template:Signpost-subscription with {{Signpost-subscription}} on their user page. They should also have a link to the course page on their user page per WP:STUDENTUSER.
    • Thanks! I've copied your comments over to the draft talk page, so that we can keep a central discussion if and when those from other wikis join. I've replied there.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:36, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

Fundamental questions about the education program

My original question to the WMF has gone unanswered, it appears

Has or hasn't the WMF had any contact with professional socieites to discuss running WP:Student assignments? If the WMF has had contact with professional societies, who has been/was doing it and to which societies? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 08:15, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

In years past:
  • I've talked with the Association for Psychological Science (although after their Wikipedia initiative was already underway, started independently by researchers studying how to help newcomers become successful Wikipedia contributors).
  • Annie Lin (a sociologist by training) had contact with the American Sociological Association, leading to their Wikipedia initiative along similar lines (and working with the same independent researchers at Carnegie Mellon) as the APS one.
  • LiAnna Davis (whose academic training is in communication) talked with the National Communication Association, leading to another similar Wikipedia initiative.
Those are all the ones that I know of. (Outside my WMF role, I'll be doing a Wikipedia workshop next month with the History of Science Society, and the opportunity to improve history of science and related content through participating in the education program will be part it. That's basically the same type of thing a lot of other volunteers have done in their own academic communities; I just mention it because I am also a WMF contractor.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:15, 28 October 2013 (UTC)

Is the person who sent in an unsolicited resume to the WEF for the ED position a former WMF staffer?

Is the person who sent in an unsolicited resume to the WEF for the ED position a former WMF staffer? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 08:15, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

I'm afraid I don't see how I can fairly answer this -- resume submissions are confidential, so surely we can't provide answers to any potentially identifying questions. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:06, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
Is it unfair for me to publicly observe that Annie Lin is a former WMF staffer who has not been to the last two WP:WEF board meetings, and thus appears to be the logical candidate? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:59, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
When is it planned for the ED position to be filled? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 11:01, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
It's a top priority, but there's no stated deadline yet. We are still getting feedback (above) about the position and we need to let that conversation run a bit longer before asking for applications. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:54, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

Why did the WMF decide to spin-off the education program into a non-profit?

What was the rationale for why the WMF decided to spin-off the education program into a non-profit? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 08:24, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

Since the beginning of the Public Policy Initiative in 2010, when the WMF team for that project started the US and Canada Education Programs, the intention has always been to transition from WMF-run to community-run programs (although it has taken quite a bit longer than we had been planning for at the outset). The specific why of the nonprofit WEF being the way that eventually played out is tied up in the history of that transition. I don't think any single person could give you a definitive answer—it's been a complicated process involving a lot of different people at different times—but if you want to dive into that history, some of these sources might help:
--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 13:38, 28 October 2013 (UTC)

Should any Wikipedian who is trying to get a seat on the WEF board openly declare it?

I think so. For background knowledge, per the WEF minutes, the two current Wikipedian seats (one is vacant) are held by Pharos (talk · contribs) and Mike Christie (talk · contribs). I have declared my interest. Will other Wikipedians please delcare theirs, if any are seeking a seat? I think it would be in line with Wikipedia's values and appreciation for transparency. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 08:36, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

Next summer elections will begin for WEF board seats; terms are for two years. This seat will be appointed by the board -- we considered running elections but decided that it would be wasteful of our limited resources to put effort into elections for a term of less than a year. We don't have a date by which we plan to make this appointment and it has not been discussed extensively by the board yet, because the priorities have been getting the grant finalized and getting a PM and ED hired. However, it's high priority and discussion of the appointment here would be helpful. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:58, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
Can you explain this: There will or won't be elections next summer? Which seat or seats will be appointed? Why hasn't this happened already?
I have little idea what the board has been up to, though you guys do endlessly want to tell us how busy you are. It might have helped if you had long ago co-opted someone (beyond co-opting former WMF staffers).
As to specifics: I personally made a number of suggestions, and nothing has come of them. Why should anyone bother?
The WEF's opacity and unresponsiveness continues to be bewildering. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 20:05, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
Jbmurray, I understand your frustration, because it's like nothing has been done. However, I kind of understand why; the main tasks have been bureacratic, and that's always a drain on the creative spirit. And I know Mike has been busy though he did make the time to Skype chat with me once and we've been able to establish email contact as well. You should start emailing Mike back and forth sometimes, in my opinion.
The WEF has their first employee on Nov. 1st. So all of these conversations will take on a much different tone, in my opinion, on that day. Time will tell! Perhaps I'm being too optimistic? Best. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 20:49, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

Since Biosth requested I divulge if I were potentially interested in the vacant Wikipedian seat via email: I'm potentially interested in the vacant Wikipedian board seat. Kevin Gorman (talk) 02:03, 28 October 2013 (UTC)

Should/can the WEF require Wikipedians who are seeking a seat on the board to get community support?

Should/can the WEF require Wikipedians who are seeking a seat on the board to get community support? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 11:38, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

Since this question is at least partly directed at the WEF, I'll respond. I would expect that the community would want to do this, but if it doesn't, that's not something the WEF should require for this appointment. Just to be clear: this appointment is a one-time event; after this the board seats will be elected, with a 2 year term (barring resignations, of course). Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:49, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
As Mike mentioned, in 2014 the Board will transition to mix of 8 elected directors and 4 directors appointed by those elected. Wikipedians are reserved 3 slots on the Board. We plan to design an election system so that the WP community (and each of the other communities represented on the Board) can select its own representatives. Pjthepiano (talk) 04:54, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

Will the WEF force regional ambassadors who apply as of Nov. 1 to reveal their real name?

Will the WEF force regional ambassadors who apply as of Nov. 1 to reveal their real name? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:56, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

Probably this should follow the OTRS policy. The WMF is seeking input on that policy at meta:Talk:Access to nonpublic information policy. Blue Rasberry (talk) 20:03, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
Why do you think this is necessary? JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 21:00, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
I don't! =) I oppose it. I'm just curious what the WEF position is. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 23:12, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
The WEF has never discussed this, to my knowledge, but I can't imagine this would be a requirement. It's not really a requirement now so much as the standard that most people have been fine with. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 00:19, 29 October 2013 (UTC)

What does the word "scaleable" have to do with all this?

Should the WEF look for something "scaleable"? What, exactly, does that word mean in the context of the education program? Does the WEF think they have been handed anything that is anywhere near being "scaleable"? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 14:27, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

We've had this conversation before, but I can give you a quick answer, in my own opinion but based on my experiences with WMF and the transition to WEF. Let me answer your questions out of order:
  • No, the WEF does not think it's been handed something that is scaleable. That is why we have had countless meetings about what structural changes we can make, how we can reenergize our human resources (volunteers who support professors and students), etc. Please direct me to where anybody has said we will try to recruit more classes for the upcoming Spring 2014 semester.
  • I think the Spring 2014 bit would be a red herring, in my opinion. The real issue would be the line in the ED's job description that says setting annual numeric goals with the program manager to ensure measurable programmatic expansion, which I currently strongly oppose. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 23:16, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I think it's perfectly reasonable that the ED will work with the PM to consider support capacity and identify realistic targets each semester, in order to make sure the WEF doesn't spread itself too thin (staff and volunteers). That's the type of support a manager should provide an employee. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 06:06, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
  • ? I'm talking about my objection with the word expansion. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 18:26, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I think you're still confusing the difference between supporting more professors who are teaching with Wikipedia and actively recruiting new folks. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 20:52, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
  • And I think the ED's job description doesn't make it clear that telling professors "go away, it's not right for you" is valid support. It sets an arbitrary target for expansion when we probably need shrinkage until we find something worthy. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:00, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
Expanding the number of classes working on Wikipedia, without good support, seems like a bad idea to me; expanding the support we give to classes already working on Wikipedia, without necessarily increasing their number, seems like a good thing. In my mind that's the meaning of "expansion". Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:31, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
Due to the vagueness, let's reword this to a version we can discuss further, then? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:56, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
Actually, you still haven't convinced me that we don't yet have something that's worthy. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 18:19, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
Have you changed your position that the WEF does not think it's been handed something that is scaleable? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 18:22, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
Actually, could I please request that you wait until Nov. 1st to answer that? Thank you. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 18:32, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
You can request, but I'm going to answer now. I've told you before that whether I'm with WMF or WEF, I speak with my own voice and opinion, which will not be changing from one day to the next. I absolutely think we have a lot more work to do before it's scaleable, but I also think the education program is incredibly worthy. So I disagree that that is not the reason we need to wait to expand. We need to better prepare our volunteers (and recruit new volunteers that we can on-board in that better process). JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 18:55, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
And is that because you think instructors and students are running assignments without enough Wikipedian input? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 14:43, 1 November 2013 (UTC)

─────────────────────────────────── @Biosthmors: I've repeated my positions to you over and over. I know we disagree on the strategic vision we have for this program. I'm not going to change my mind, and you're not going to change your mind, and it's useless for us to keep wasting time on unproductive, circular discussions that get nowhere. I will be available to answer bigger questions posed here, and I will continue to respond to incidents that require rapid feedback and attention (as the noticeboard's goal was before you changed it), but I'm no longer going to engage with you in any more unproductive discussions here or via email. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 17:12, 1 November 2013 (UTC)

Am I the only one confused here? I was hoping for a simple "yes". I'm confused. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 20:25, 1 November 2013 (UTC)
Sorry; I just re-read what I wrote, and I didn't intend for it to come off in that tone. I genuinely do not have the time right now to field all of these questions and still effectively transition the program from WMF to WEF. I will try to speak to the board today about alternative ways to receive feedback and have productive discussions about the program, until I can spare more time to participate here again. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 21:05, 1 November 2013 (UTC)
  • I think we've had this discussion before, but the mission of the WEF is to support educators who who are using Wikipedia in the classroom. The end-game is to support them in a way that benefits both their students and Wikipedia, but the WEF's actions should essentially fit as an answer to "will this support the educator in effectively using Wikipedia as a teaching tool?" That means providing materials, counsel, and general guidance to educators throughout the process. As reiterated repeatedly, we have done practically no outreach for over a year now. Yet new professors continue to contact us (Ambassadors, WP:ENB, me, etc.) about wanting support in the assignment they will be running. So "making the program more scaleable" is the logical next step, as we are clearly limited even now in making sure each educator has the opportunity to get the support they want (or need). I think it's a proactive measure toward a trend that we've observed over the past 7 semesters. Doesn't that make sense as a goal?
Also, since I feel it has been raised above somewhere—you should know that you are not the only person who suggests to "unprepared professors" that they should hold off on a Wikipedia assignment. I have suggested to many professors that they do not quite seem on the right page to run a Wikipedia assignment—either they don't "get" it; they are too stressed about figuring out a grading rubric to demonstrate to me that they are focused on the right things; they don't want to spend any time in class covering the most important Wikipedia policies; their main motivation is that their "educated students can improve Wikipedia's reliability; they are unwilling to hold their students to the same plagiarism standard that they would on another assignment; their main objective is for students to write original research; etc. I even have a list of more than 200 professors who have indicated an interest in teaching with Wikipedia but to whom I've advised we don't yet have the capacity to properly support them. I care about that because I care about the student experience when editing but also because I deeply care about the impact they have on Wikipedia and editors.
And, in case it's of interest to you, here are some ideas we've discussed about scaling those support resources:
  • Spend some resources on training instructional design professionals at universities to understand Wikipedia and best practices for teaching with Wikipedia. They are already a part of existing infrastructure that is trusted and utilized at a lot of universities, and the role fits neatly into their job description and expertise (to which many of them have graduate degrees)
  • Collaborate similarly with academic organizations and other relevant institutions (think WikiProject Medicine)
  • Re-imagine the Regional Ambassador system to one that is topic-focused, and give those RAs some training and experience with advising professors in their assignment design.
  • Establish a better on-boarding process for new professors that offers our current best practices and materials (to which LiAnna points above) but also advises them through actually completing the very assignment they are giving their students, even if just once. This gives them a better understanding of Wikipedia and helps them see the obstacles and reasons they may want to readjust their assignment. I think this is far more powerful than all of the "talking at" professors that tends to happen in the current process. Seriously, it'd be great for people to read every guideline and policy before editing, but I'm pretty sure that would lead to an editing community of exactly zero.
I'm just highlighting some of these to show you that there is a group of people who are thinking about ways to improve the Wikipedia Education Program and who have good ideas, and these methods to scale our influence are a good representation of those ideas. I am incredibly proud of the work that the WEF board members have done, and I genuinely believe they're going to make some amazing strides forward, or I wouldn't have possibly accepted the challenge of transitioning into a role with them. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 20:54, 28 October 2013 (UTC)

Are unprepared classroom edits ethical?

Wikipedia is the encyclopedia anyone can edit—not the encylopedia you can force anyone to edit, especially when you're ignorant. No? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:51, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

Project with user names ending in "ext2013"

List of editors found so far

List of likely user names:


I'm having problems with a new editor 5e ext2013 who claims to be editing the article Chytridiomycota as part of a class assignment (see discussion here. The user doesn't understand the proper use of sources, is adding original research to the article, and adds material contrary to WP:Undue. I was wondering if their professor has registered an account through the education program, and would appreciate advice on what to do next. This does not seem to be associated with this mycology class. Sasata (talk) 18:59, 24 October 2013 (UTC)

To address one concern, Special:Log/5e_ext2013 doesn't indicate any course page activity in the Education Program space. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 19:07, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
I've reverted an essay-like edit from 5e ext2013. Then I look around and see some student has charm: "Thank you for putting the grade of five separate people in danger because you have nothing better to do. Get a life." Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 19:14, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
It appears there is a fairly large group from the same class editing a wide range of topics mostly related to extinct taxa. Here are the users I have found 8Dext2013, 5B_EXT2013, 6a_EXT2013, 9D EXT2013, and 2E EXT2013. If it is a class project the instructor has not informed anyone here I dont think.--Kevmin § 22:38, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
(I renamed this section to make it easier to find, and I added a list of editors.) I have been cleaning up incredibly messy citations by a number of these authors. I'm very glad that they are adding to WP (they are adding tons of citations and good content to the article I have cleaned up), but they would be better editors if they took some advice and learned about WP while also learning about endangered and extinct animals. I have offered some advice on the "ext2013" editors' talk pages. – Jonesey95 (talk) 03:35, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
I just created a list of likely user names and checked the contributions pages for all of them. I added active editors to the list above. Each of the active user names appears to be editing a single article about an endangered or extinct species, except for one cheeky editor, who is editing landline, an endangered technology. I have to hand it to that kid or kids; very clever.
I put a Talk page note on every one of the pages listed above. I would love to be a fly on the wall in their next class, assuming they meet in-person. I googled around a bit to try to find a syllabus or web page for this class, but I didn't find anything likely. – Jonesey95 (talk) 04:08, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

I just couldn't stay away, so I did some more googling. One of the students mentioned Rutgers, so I tracked down an anthropology professor there who teaches a course on extinction. Take a look at his syllabus web page, specifically the syllabus for the Extinction course. Do a "find" for "Wikipedia" in that syllabus, and you will see that there is a group project to create or edit Wikipedia articles. The assignment was due this week, at least according the syllabus.

All of the evidence is circumstantial, but it lines up pretty nicely as far as I can see. I sent the professor a courtesy e-mail message to let him know that his course was being talked about, as one would do here on WP if someone was being discussed.

I hope he grades on a curve. – Jonesey95 (talk) 04:38, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

I received a nice note from the professor linked. An excerpt:

Thank you very much for the kind and courteous note. These are indeed my students. Thanks too for the nice welcome bit you have offered the various groups. I suspect more groups may pop up as the due date is today and there is a great deal of last minute behavior.

I expect that we'll see editing activity on these articles tail off quickly in the next 24 hours, after which we might want to take a look at the resulting articles and clean them up a bit. – Jonesey95 (talk) 12:15, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks to all for being rather understanding. Students have a new deadline of Sunday Oct 27 at 10 PM EST. As my TAs and I go through these we will also try and fix issues. Extprof (talk) 18:35, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

Parts of the General Information and Anatomy sections of Gorilla gorilla diehli are clearly plagiarized from this article. I reverted those changes with an explanation and notified the editor (5C_EXT2013) who added the text, but that editor reverted my changes. – Jonesey95 (talk) 12:01, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

Thanks Jonesey95. Nice work. Did you get the sense that the professor had run the assignment before or was planning to run the assignment again? If they are planning on running it again, I could help set up a course page so that 1) the students get a good running start with good advice and links to places where to get help and 2) we Wikipedia editors can see what the assignment design and grading system is like to see if we have any recommendations for improvement. Here's an example course page I helped a professor develop, which in raw user space form is here. And that course page represented a consensus between a Wikipedian and an instructor. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:28, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
I've welcomed the professor to Wikipedia. They left a nice note at Sasata's user talk page, and I thanked them for that. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:35, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

I added a partial list of topics being edited to my talk page per request of Jonesey95. I will update as I get more topics. Extprof (talk) 23:10, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

There is an instance of plagiarism mentioned above. Is this second one from the same course? And if so, will the prof and TAs be checking for and removing all plagiarism? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:48, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

This edit appears to be lifted from here and this edit from here. No, I haven't fixed them, because Wikipedia:Not_gnomes makes it clear it's not my problem. Stuartyeates (talk) 06:49, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

Legal situations

Maybe the WMF doesn't care about copyvio and doesn't care about the effect student editing is having on established editors and doesn't care about having anything in place to stem the tide, but you know who does care and who does prosecute? The American Psychiatric Association. [3] SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:12, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

Surely an isolated incident? Oh... perhaps not. Once again the source URL is included, so there's no intention to deceive. William Avery (talk) 12:39, 26 October 2013 (UTC)
Surely you're not serious? It is an extreme problem among student/class editors, one that takes valuable time away from established editors, a problem that the WMF/WEF is well aware of, and one that IMO they have an obligation to do something about because they know about the extent of the problem. Established editors have the choice to either abandon their watchlists so they can write new/needed content, letting existing articles deteriorate, or spend all of their time cleaning up after students. I set out a month ago to update medical FAs per the newly published DSM5, and all I do is act as a teacher assistant every day. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:28, 26 October 2013 (UTC)
You are correct. William Avery (talk) 14:08, 26 October 2013 (UTC)
OK, so in terms of how we would treat regular editors,
  1. I see you reverted that edit and notified the editor. IMO, every edit from User:16C EXT2013 should be automatically reverted (if we take copyvio seriously), and the professor should be notified.
  2. If there is one more copyvio from that group, the entire group should be reverted and blocked.
  3. If there is no identified prof or course, we should treat the entire group as meatpuppets and block the lot.
  4. This is not our job; it's a WMF program, they need to deal with known copyvio issues.
Extreme measures? Depends. Do we or do we not take copyvio seriously? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:34, 26 October 2013 (UTC)
I support Sandy's suggestion. We need to have a close to zero tolerance policy on copyright violations. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 11:33, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
Maybe we could block a whole class if more than two out of 25 students violated copyright? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:55, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
Wikipedia administrators have a whole complex system for blocking individuals who repeatedly misbehave after a series of warnings. The WEF is entirely separate from them and has no such powers. Blocking an innocent student or an entire university course because of two students is asking for real legal trouble. Rjensen (talk) 13:31, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
By the word we, I meant we as the Wikipedia community. I do not speak for the WEF, and I did not have them in mind. What kind of legal trouble were you thinking of, though? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 14:03, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
The university lawyer could complain to WMF or threaten to sue WEF if someone here deliberately disrupts a class. Rjensen (talk) 21:52, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
That seems like a bit of a stretch to me. Wikipedia is not here purely as an exercise for classes; it is a working institution which many classes would like to interact with; "disruption" has to be seen in that light. If you took a group of geology students down to a working mine, they'd all have to wear hard hats and hi-vis, and follow the instructions of the mine safety officer; if too many curious students found a way to disrupt production by wandering into the path of a haul truck or pressing the temptingly big red button on a piece of production machinery, classes would probably be removed from the mine, and no court would be persuaded by any legal claim that this removal was an unreasonable disruption of the classes' inalienable right to blunder round extramural environments. bobrayner (talk) 23:12, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
WEF is not a government agency like mine inspectors. Indeed it has no authority over Wikipedia whatever, and no responsibility for enforcement or for setting up kangaroo courts without rules of procedure or presumption of innocence. All that is handled by the Wiki administrators, who have a well-developed system. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rjensen (talkcontribs) 10:51, 28 October 2013‎ (UTC)
I'm no lawyer, but it's difficult to see how university counsel could do much more than try to persuade. I don't think they could sue anyone at Wikipedia/Wikimedia. As an individual editor, I do not have a legal right to edit without anyone else confounding me. And neither do student editors. --Tryptofish (talk) 15:46, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
The suggestion that anyone could be (succesfully) sued for blocking a class for disruptively editing Wikipedia is preposterous and has no basis in reality. If there's an incredibly disruptive class to the point where blocking them is a worthwhile step, it's one we should absolutely take and has no legal risk.Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:00, 29 October 2013 (UTC)

I see a whole bunch of Wikipolitics taking over again, and I have stopped trying to follow the threads above. Seems like some folks just want a job, while the rest of us deal with this mess that interferes with not only our editing at all, but also of editing with pleasure. Anyway, the point is, when we have evidence that the prof is not checking the student edits, after more than one instance of plagiarism, we should be able to block 'em all. We are not TAs. In fact, we should be able to block 'em all whenever we have evidence of disruptive editing and a prof doing nothing about it.

The secondary point is that it would not be hard at all for some clever lawyer to show to the APA, who does defend their copyright, that the WMF does nothing about it even when they know there is a problem. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:37, 29 October 2013 (UTC)

Students can be blocked through the same pathway any other editor can, and when warranted, should be. In cases where student classes cause widespread disruption, I see nothing wrong with bringing a proposal to this noticeboard to block the whole lot of them, and if enough evidence of disruptive evidence is provided, I would support such a group block. As far as I know, no one has tried to bring such a proposal to this noticeboard or to AN previously, which any editor is capable of doing. Tangentially, I doubt WMF would have any liability for student copyright infringements. IANAL, but do have graduate legal training in copyright and cyberlaw. Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:00, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
I am encouraged that I should be able to bring examples of disruptive student editing to this board (they typically appear as term-end approaches, which is when the student edits overwhelm). I hope that when I do, I will get admin attention here, since it is unlikely that the depth and breadth of issues we have discussed here will be understood over at WP:ANI or other noticeboards. There is also the issue of likely student editing, even if the course or prof remains unidentified. Also, IANAL either, but I doubt that anyone has presented anywhere the case of an org that knows and does nothing. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:19, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
The new WEF is not part of Wikipedia and has no power or authority to enforce Wikipedia's rules or to block anyone or any class from editing. All it can do is report a problem to the Wikipedia panels that deal with disruptive editors. As for threats of lawsuits, one angry phone call from a University lawyer to WMF or to a funding agency will cause no end of trouble for WEF. Rjensen (talk) 22:21, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
There are absolutely plenty of admins involved in the education program who can block people. And I guarantee it would take a lot more than one angry phone call from a lawyer to WMF over a blocked student to effect WEF in any way shape or form. What the hell grounds would they be suing on in the first place? Wikipedia is a private site with every right to control who can (and cannot) edit it. WMF has consistently stood on principle where legal issues are involved, and doesn't fold on something just because they get an angry call from a lawyer. Kevin Gorman (talk) 22:27, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
WEF has no authority to patrol Wikipedia or to use access to Wikipedia as a tool to punish individuals or universities. Any decision to punish a professor or his class would need the approval of the WEF board. Any WEF ambassador who acts on his own in the name of WEF in defiance of WEF policies will get terminated by WEF. Rjensen (talk) 22:53, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
Bullshit. Disruptive users should be blocked, whether or not they are students. Disruptive groups of users can be blocked by community consensus, whether or not they are students. I'll note that you're not on the WEF board and thus not in a position to speak for them, but if this is the position WEF adopts, I will actively advocate for WEF's status as a Wikimedia affiliate to be revoked, while continuing to do my own education outreach. Such a position would damage the already battered reputation of the education program. Kevin Gorman (talk) 00:37, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, Kevin ... yes, there are, and should be, admins who patrol this board. I don't know from which planet Rjensen is speaking (I hope not one of authority). I get a sense that something is spinning out of control here, but I'm not sure I want to know precisely what. I am relieved if whatever involves Mike Christie, at least, but based on the conversations on this page, and unless things get back on track, I am now increasingly worried that we may need another noticeboard for reporting issues with student editing, since this board seems to be becoming more of a forum for politics. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:45, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
Well, thanks for the shout out, Sandy! As far as reporting issues is concerned, I think another board is not going to help you or others in your position, because I don't think there is any consensus about what to do about the problems you're encountering. If there were a consensus, I'm sure you could find editors and admins here to help implement it. To use a medical analogy, I think the WEF can be a wellness program, and perhaps even an inoculation program if things work well, but it can't be a cure for the problems you're running into. Those are community problems and there's no consensus on what to do about them. That includes me -- I've read all the suggestions and truly don't know which is the best way to go. There are strong arguments for and against most options that have been suggested. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:55, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
Mike, as a member of the board of the WEF, can you clarify that Richard's statements do not represent WEF policy? If WEF members who happen to be ENWP admins get kicked out of WEF for taking normal administrative actions against participating students, this is an issue that needs to be raised at a broader board then ENB. Kevin Gorman (talk) 01:08, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
There's no relevant policy yet -- we haven't worked on any such thing so far. Your understanding is the same as mine; I can't imagine that the WEF would ever support such a thing, and I certainly would oppose it myself. However, I'm not completely clear what Rjensen is saying -- if he's just saying that a WEF employee who broke a WEF policy would be liable for termination then that's not unreasonable. I just don't think the WEF would ever come up with a policy which would prevent an employee from doing something that was aligned with the community policies. I suppose WP:INVOLVED might apply in some cases. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:20, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the fast reply. My interpretation of his words was that an ambassador (i.e., a volunteer) would be removed from the program were they to take an administrative action in line with ENWP's community policies without first consulting the board. I can easily imagine WP:INVOLVED and other relevant ENWP policies preventing a particular WEF member from taking action, and can also of course imagine a WEF employee being sanctioned for breaking WEF policy, but wanted to make sure I was correct in assuming that it wasn't WEF board policy that WEF policies took precedence over ENWP policies. Kevin Gorman (talk) 01:27, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
He was a member of the working group and is a regional ambassador (as am I.) He is not a member of the board of WEF. What he is suggesting is analogous to WMUK saying that they'll kick out any member who takes an administrative action against a fellow member of WMUK on the English Wikipedia, and is completely absurd. I have no idea how he thinks WEF would have such authority, or why he thinks it would be a good idea. Kevin Gorman (talk) 00:47, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
I know you asked Mike, but I think a general statement should be made about the WEF: we fully intend to comply with all Wikipedia policies, and I think we expect our members to do so, too. What Mike was pointing out is there is not currently a Wikipedia policy, for example, to block an entire class based on one or two students' edits. However, of course we would expect someone to block the student if s/he is doing exactly what would get her/him blocked in any case. And I'd be the first person to defend that action to the professor and explain why it happened. Now I don't know if that answers your question in-depth (is someone asking if we, as the WEF, would make these blocks? Or would make the group blocks, even if that weren't a Wikipedia policy?), but hopefully it helps, and hopefully I didn't put words into Mike's mouth. :) JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 01:23, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
I was far more curious about Rjensen's statements than any of Mike's previous statements; Rjensen seemed to imply that the WEF board viewed students as a special protected class immune from blocking without WEF board approval. I'm glad, seeing your and Mike's comments, that this is not the case. Kevin Gorman (talk) 01:30, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm happy to explain my position. In my opinion the WEF board should have a written agreement with professors to the effect that the professor will comply with Wikipedia and WEF policies and have full control over the students involved. The agreement should say that if WEF is not satisfied it can terminate its relationship with the professor. WEF should never get between the professor and the student. I also suggest that all the WEF ambassadors have a written agreement with the WEF board that they will follow WEF policies or risk being terminated. In my opinion the decision to disaffiliate a professor is one the WEF board (not the staff and not the ambassadors) should decide. As for WEF having police powers (to impose a block inside Wikipedia), I think not. That was never considered while I was on the WEF planning committee and is not in the WEF charter. I think it would be a very bad idea--something like a self-appointed vigilante mob that reports to no one. WMF controls Wikipedia and the blocking process; it deliberately set up WEF as a totally separate legal entity independent of Wikipedia with no blocking powers. Rjensen (talk) 02:37, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
Wikipedia as it exists is close enough to a self-appointed mob that reports to no one; we operate under a consensus model, and have well established practices for blocking people. Students aren't special, and they can and will be blocked. Many WEF members will also be Wikipedia admins. Your original suggestion was to disaffiliate any WEF member who, in their role as a Wikipedia volunteer, blocked a student. That's absolutely silly. It's also bad practice to have ambassador agreements be between the board and not staff; although it's not always easy in an early start up to make the divide between management and governance clear, signing hundreds of ambassador agreements definitely falls on the management side (and is thus a staff role.) Also, any good ambassador regularly communicates with students without it going through professors first. An ambassador who doesn't is doing it wrong. Ambassadors also should absolutely have the choice of what professors they work with, and given the scarcity of ambassadors, if an amb doesn't want to work with a prof, that prof should be discouraged from running an assignment unless another willing ambassador is avaiable. Kevin Gorman (talk) 06:04, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
In my opinion it is essential that a WEF ambassador not get between as student & prof--for example by penalizing a student for doing an assignment in a way the ambassador does not approve when the prof does not agree with the ambassador. WEF is offering to help professors, not disrupt their classes. That I think should be a policy understood by ambassadors, and if they trump WEF policy by using their Wiki administrator role then they are not well suited for a WEF role. I suggest the WEF board should set one overall policy for ambassadors, and not have the staff negotiate separate deals with each one.
That raises a new question: what can WEF do to enlist, train and encourage ambassadors. I would propose regular in-person 2-day meetings (of staff, ambassadors, editors & professors), grouped probably by academic discipline. That = $$$ travel but I think foundations might like the idea. Rjensen (talk) 07:07, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
WEF policy doesn't trump Wikipedia policy, and if it tries to then there's going to be a hell of a lot of backlash from Wikipedia's community about it that will result in either ENWP passing broad restrictions against education based assignments in general, or WEF failing as an organization. If you don't think that it's ever appropriate for an ambassador to get between a student and a professor, then I don't think you understand what ambassadors have been doing or should be doing. Professors/ambassadors/students represent three way coordination between teaching, learning, and Wikipedia - the ambassador is there not just to facilitate what the professor wants, but to ensure that Wikipedia's interests are represented. Under your view, it would be inappropriate for an ambassador to suggest the deletion or userfication of an essay put on Wikipedia by a student at a professor's instruction because it would be interfering with an assignment. Under my view, any ambassador who doesn't intervene in that situation doesn't have enough of an understanding of Wikipedia to be an ambassador in the first place. Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:45, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
If anyone wants peer-to-peer training to be an ambassador then they can contact me. I would train anyone who understands less than I do or collaborate with anyone who wants for us to train each other. I am not WEF staff - I am just a community volunteer. We can do this by Skype, Hangout, or other video conference software, or if necessary, by phone. Blue Rasberry (talk) 13:41, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for stating that Bluerasberry. That is much more helpful than the anti-Wikipedia region-specific page we currently have at WP:Education program. But I plan on rewriting that on Nov. 1. It can simply link to helpful places and provide short short short but helpful info, like your offer. Who else would offer that service? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 17:01, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
  • As an admin, when I see copyvio in an article that appeared to be associated with a class, I try to deal directly with the student editor, as I would with any editor. I remove the copyvio , and explain, and suggest they contact the ambassador or the instructor for further explanation. If they continued, I would block the individual as for anyone else, tho I personally have almost never seen any editor continue copyvio after the advice I give. I would not block every student in a class without discussion & consensus, whether here or at another noticeboard--this is an extreme action for use when neither the ambassador or professor is responsive. When I have been an ambassador, I expected to supervise what was posted; were I now an instructor, I would review it. Faculty who do not examine student work are not doing their job, here or elsewhere, especially if it is work submitted to an outside platform. The only problem about terminating the affiliation with such instructors is that they can continue on their own anyway. DGG ( talk ) 17:09, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

Need Instructor permissions added to faculty account

Please add Bruceselleck as an Instructor to Education Program:Colgate University/ Geology 302 - Sedimentation and Stratigraphy (Fall 2013) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Skunze (talkcontribs) 17:44, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

  • Hi Skunze, I gave Bruce the userright he should need to add himself as an instructor. Best, Kevin Gorman (talk) 21:48, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

Update from Wiki Education Foundation late October 2013

A quick update prior to the office hours tonight: we now expect that Jami Mathewson will stay on for a couple more weeks with the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) before switching over to the Wiki Education Foundation (WEF), some time in mid-November. We discovered quite recently that the WMF could not release to us the contact information for the professors in the program, so Jami is staying on as a WMF employee (hence with access to that contact information) while we send emails to those professors to ask for their permission to transfer the contact info to the WEF. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:30, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

Could we get updates as this evolves? Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 13:16, 1 November 2013 (UTC)
Of course. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 18:52, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

Not gnomes. What's the purpose of an ambassador?

Wikipedia Ambassadors and volunteers are wp:not gnomes to fix student edits. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:04, 1 November 2013 (UTC)

I've seen a publication that seemed to argue otherwise. I'll have to find it and quote it here for discussion purposes. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 11:35, 1 November 2013 (UTC)
User:Piotrus, I'll go ahead and say it was one of your publications, if I remember correctly. Might you pull the quote? (By the way I might want to publish in a journal myself about Wikipedia, perhaps on an m:IEG grant if I get funded. Let's talk sometime, if you don't mind. Thanks.) Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 07:25, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
This is probably the article you want. And I am always happy to chat about Wikipedia research and education :) --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 10:21, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
Not gnomes - they are much more than that. Gnomish work can be a part of what ambassador does, on occasion. I fix some students' edits, I leave others for others or revert them. Depends on the edit, really. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 10:21, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

When I sent an email out to the Regional Ambassador list about what the purpose of an ambassador was, I got 0 replies (except for Jami, and her reply was so disappointing that's why I started WP:notgnomes). =( To me this is just more evidence that the WMF did a bad job in curating an active list of talent. I don't feel like I've ever received any effective support from the WMF about how to be an ambassador, in my opinion. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 07:29, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

The WMF seemed anti-community and determined to run the program in the ground, as far as I'm concerned. But it's the same organization that gave us the despicable VE debacle. So why should I expect more? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 07:32, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
I didn't see many problems with how WMF handled either. Considering that governing Wikipedians is often like herding cats, I don't think we can expect WMF to please everyone - not when the community doesn't know what it wants half the time... --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 10:21, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

What does the WEF think about this question?

  • What's the purpose of an ambassador?
    I like this quote from Kevin Gorman above: "Professors/ambassadors/students represent three way coordination between teaching, learning, and Wikipedia - the ambassador is there not just to facilitate what the professor wants, but to ensure that Wikipedia's interests are represented." I have been an online ambassador for several courses, and I regard it as an opportunity to help the students, help improve content, resolve any difficulties or misunderstandings, improve the professor's understanding of Wikipedia (and hence their ability to run a successful class), and also to learn about both the topics at hand and about the ways classes run on Wikipedia work (or don't work). Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:13, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
I like that quote as well. But how does one define an ambassador? What are the qualifications, etc.? To me, if you can't pass the Online Ambassador application, then you should very likely just go away, 'cause you haven't demonstrated anything about knowing how to produce quality content. We do have a list of over 100 very competent editors (it appears): Wikipedia:Ambassadors/List of ambassadors/Online. The real question is how can we attract them back to the program? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 13:06, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

Bob Cummings

Bob Cummings is on the board of the WP:WEF. What does Bob Cummings think about student assignments? What does he think about the direction/purpose of the board, etc.? I'll ask him and maybe he'll comment here. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 11:36, 1 November 2013 (UTC)

I really like that comment. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:18, 1 November 2013 (UTC)
Hi, Biosthmors. Thanks for the invitation to comment. Could you be a bit more specific? What aspects of student assignments did you have in mind -- those raised above are quite extensive! Was there a particular issue relating to student assignments which you intended? And as to the direction/purpose of the WEF-USCAN board: are you asking my opinions in light of a particular issue? Just want to make sure I understand the question(s) so I can answer it or them well.--Bob Cummings (talk) 15:24, 1 November 2013 (UTC)
Sure. I'll be specific. The whole reason I volunteer as an Ambassador is to increase the quality of the student output, because that was the community concern at the RfC. It's also because I believe we should "turn our attention away from growth and towards quality". Do you envision that because you are on the board—and with that role you can provide leadership and guidance—that you will be able to play a role in helping improve the quality of student editing output that is presented to readers on Wikipedia? If so, how? Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:44, 1 November 2013 (UTC)
I think that the quality of Wikipedia content can certainly be improved by the integration of courses in higher education. (I also think the quantity of Wikipedia content can be expanded as well.) The best way to achieve high quality contributions from higher education courses involves finding educators who have the right motives, training them on Wikipedia's expectations and culture(s), supporting them in designing realistic units of contribution which reinforce their course learning outcomes, and providing support for faculty and students as they contribute, as well as when things go off track. If we can help a generation of learners understand Wikipedia as contributors, they are more likely to be retained as future users/editors, and to promote better cultural understanding of Wikipedia writ large. If we can train a generation of faculty to use Wikipedia productively in their teaching missions, we are then also preparing them to better understand the connections between specialized and public knowledge, and how their disciplines can play a role in improving the accuracy of information in Wikipedia. So how do I think we can accomplish this? It seems to me that all of the activities within the WEF work on these goals -- we just need more of it: more ambassadors, more interaction with/education of faculty, more support for students, and more publicity of accomplishments. In our discussions we tend to focus on what is wrong with the relationship between higher education and Wikipedia, but at the risk of sounding naive, I think we have the fundamentals in place for a sustainable and long-term interaction which is mutually beneficial. --Bob Cummings (talk) 22:22, 1 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for this, Bob. This is, I think, a very nice and clear statement of goals. Indeed, it is much clearer and more helpful than much of the way in which WEF material is currently articulated. Can something like this be incorporated and highlighted in the WEF's mission statement or elsewhere? --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 07:09, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
I like this too. I hope to get to improving the WEF page soon and will include this as a quote, at a minimum. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 20:38, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Ctrala (talk)


Christine Trala.


University of Hull.

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

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Ctrala (talk) 14:31, 2 November 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

Ctrala: could you give some more details about your proposed course? Thanks, Kevin Gorman (talk) 01:47, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

  • Just pinging Ctrala - if you give me some more details about your course and it sounds reasonable, I'd be more than happy to grant you the necessary rights. Kevin Gorman (talk) 22:26, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

Course rights outside of US/Canada

[moved to a separate section from Ctrala's request for instructor rights--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 18:53, 3 November 2013 (UTC)]

is this page now focused on the US-Canada program or it it worldwide? Rjensen (talk) 23:34, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
The problem is that the WEF said they were going to set up a space here on Wikipedia, like a Project page. But they decided in the end that they'd prefer to establish themselves off Wikipedia, and leave only a few designated members to interact on Wiki. As a result, this becomes the default place to try to reach them. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 01:27, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
The University of Hull is in the UK so it wouldn't be within the jurisdiction of the WEF in the first place. @Rjensen: I see no reason why this page shouldn't be the default page to discuss any education project taking place on the English Wikipedia. Kevin Gorman (talk) 01:47, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
People seem to be applying for ambassadorships or course instructor rights for other countries (UK, Bangladesh) -- but it appears no one here is responsible for those rights -- is no official from WMF handling these applications ??? Rjensen (talk) 04:08, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
This edit has a false edit summary, in my opinion. I have given the user right to a class in Switzerland I am a Campus Ambassador for. (Then I also noticed there was a refractoring of another editor's comments?) Odd. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 17:54, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
Rjensen: do not refactor my comments. If you view something as a personal attack, please take it to ANI or another appropriate board. What you took out was no where near violating WP:NPA. And yes, per Biosth, I see no issue with course coordinators or admins assigning rights to people from outside of the US where they deem it appropriate. Kevin Gorman (talk) 21:28, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

The noticeboard itself was set up to be a place for posting notices and discussion related to any education projects on Wikipedia, in part because it was confusing (many) separate pages for specific issues and specific education programs.

During the RfC on whether to use the extension for course pages — and the associated userrights — I tried to lay out three clear approaches to the management of courses:

  • limiting it to official Wikipedia Education Program courses;
  • putting the permissions in the hands of the community (via admins and the option for admins to grant other trusted users the course coordinator right); or
  • allow pretty much any user to utilize the extension without going through a permissions process.

The middle option is what we went with (and this option had no explicit opposition). So the status quo, barring the development of some more specific community-established procedure or local consensus one way or another about a particular case, is that admins and those with the course coordinator right should feel free to grant access to instructors who request it at their discretion. The course coordinator right was given to US/Canada Regional Ambassadors as a starting point, but per the RfC, admins "can grant the right to trusted editors according to community-determined criteria." Maybe it would be useful to start discussing when, in general, to grant instructor rights or not.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 19:20, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

I have lots of thoughts on this, but perhaps the community should develop a policy or guideline first. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 11:51, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

Do we need to change the online ambassador application process?

There have been two horribly poorly prepared applications lately. I don't get it. I imagine we should change the documentation. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 17:51, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

All permission request boards occasionally get horrible applications. We can always just reject them. If there are process changes we could make to result in more consistently good results we should make them of course, but this isn't inherently an issue. Kevin Gorman (talk) 21:25, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
People will be people. If they choose not to do everything correctly, than we have all rights to deny them the tools. Kevin has a point, because every board gets horrible requests, and we're not the only one. Remember, this is a public forum, so whatever you say is going to be interpreted by others in ways that you probably don't expect. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 04:38, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
An edit notice might emphasize our standards. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 11:52, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

When to remove ambassadors from a public list?

When should Online Ambassadors, Campus Ambassadors, and Regional Ambassadors be removed from a public list? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 17:55, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

When they rage quit with a wall of flames. But seriously, there is no harm in having them have rights, as they cannot do much damage here, so I see no reason why we should be removing rights unless they have left for good. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 04:54, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
I guess I'm just thinking along the lines of having one list for everybody who's active. I'm not thinking about when to remove the rights. But how will we define activity? If one doesn't help any classes one semester, then you it seems logical that that person wouldn't be listed that semester. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 13:01, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
Part of the purpose of the list is to let people find wikipedians active in their area who can ambassador for them. I am helping no classes directly as a CA this semester; I'll be helping at least four next semester. Despite not CA'ing atm, I am a perfectly active Wikipedian, and still highly active in the education program. The only case I can see removing a CA/RA/OA's rights in is one where they have demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of Wikipedia, repeatedly led horrid courses, have WP:CIR issues, etc. Kevin Gorman (talk) 21:50, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
For discussion purposes, I was thinking more along the lines of a public list that is disassociated from the rights process. I'm sorry I didn't draw a distinction between the "public list" and "user rights". Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 11:57, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

Two suggested changes in wording for the ED/PM job descriptions

Based on the discussion above, and also on a call I had with Biosthmors this morning, I would like to put up two possible wording changes for discussion in the ED/PM job descriptions above.

  • Add to the PM qualifications, under "Preferred": "Experience adding quality content to Wikipedia". I've seen a lot of feedback over the last two or three years that the community would really like to see experienced editors involved with the professors. I think adding this language would make it clear that the WEF recognizes the value that editing experience brings. I should add that the WEF is currently working on hiring Jami Mathewson, as commented on above, and in my opinion Jami is absolutely the right choice for the job, although (as far as I know) she is not a particularly active editor under her personal account. However, if we ever hire another PM, or if circumstances change and Jami leaves the WEF, I think it's an excellent qualification for any future applicants to have.
  • In the ED scope of work, I'd suggest changing "setting annual numeric goals with the program manager to ensure measurable programmatic expansion" to "setting annual numeric goals with the program manager to ensure measurable programmatic improvement", to avoid the (unintended) implication that more classes are automatically a good thing. I do not support purely quantitative goals for enrolment, number of edits, or amount of text added by students. At some future date I hope the quality of student contributions will be so reliable that we can agree on some such goals, but for now I think these numbers should be tracked and recorded but not set as metrics for the program.

-- Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:06, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

If Jami happens to take up employment elsewhere, can we consider making "Experience adding quality content to Wikipedia" a requirement? (COI disclosure, I have expressed interest in this position previously.) Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 19:52, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
I imagine a conversation about the JD changing would happen when she leaves, or hopefully a couple months before that time. There's no point in discussing it now. Jami is going to be the PM for the WEF, is likely to stay the PM for a while, and is likely to acquire on the job experience that will let her rewrite her successors' JD in a way that makes a lot more sense than us doing it now. Kevin Gorman (talk) 22:25, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

Undergraduate classes vs. graduate classes

All else held equal, in a theoretical example where the education program only had the resources to support one class, I think the choice is clear. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 19:31, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

The Czech program limits classes to the number of trained and active in-person Ambassadors it has. That's a logical system. It's not the only model, but at least it's a rational one. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 19:44, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

From the standpoint of immediate benefit to Wikipedia, yes. From the standpoint of educational benefit, not necessarily. I do not view myself solely as working for the benefit of Wikipedia; I view the educational benefits of Wikipedia-based assignments as an integral part of my work. There would also likely be long-term negative implications of focusing entirely on grad work. That said, it's pretty much never an either/or choice. Kevin Gorman (talk) 21:24, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

Perhaps surprisingly, we actually didn't find a clear difference in benefit to Wikipedia for graduate classes vs. undergraduate classes in the success factors research. This matches up with my anecdotal experience, which is that we've seen plenty of excellent work from undergraduate classes and plenty of poor or just insignificant work from graduate classes (and vice versa).--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:27, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
Completely anecdotally, this matches with my own experience, too. The one time I used Wikipedia in a grad class (it was on the Spanish Wikipedia), things didn't really work out very well at all. Though I think there are a number of reasons for this, not least that I left the grad students on their own much more, presuming (as I suspect Biosthmors assumes?) that they wouldn't requires so much hand-holding. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 18:52, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
Why would you think I suspect that, jbmurray? ;-) I think the [a]ll else held equal qualifier is key. We had an admin on this board recently with a class that spun out of control. They vowed to never run a Wikipedia assignment again. I think all assignments must be managed with care per WP:ASSIGN. The case of the admin class disaster is cited in the first or second sentence there, as you are. =) Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 21:44, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
Is this also the same research that wasn't methodologically sound enough for publication? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:25, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
I can't speak to the details of the methodology; the researchers working on it know much more about data science than me. But the small sample size and noisiness of the data means that I wouldn't put much weight on any of the specific conclusions. It is, for example, completely plausible that graduate classes on average actually do better work than undergraduate classes. But if so, the data we have hasn't shown it.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:35, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
In my opinion, one needs better data before one starts appearing to draw conclusions from them under the guise of being evidence-based. Noisy data is better left ignored. I'm afraid that this "data"—which would more neutrally be characterized as noise—might be misused for political purposes. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:44, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
Indeed, I don't think we should draw any conclusions on this issue at this time. But in the absence of data, you appeared to be ready to conclude that graduate classes are better. My point is that what data we have doesn't support this.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:56, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
And I'll state that I think that it is non-neutral WMF propaganda to use the word "data". It should be regarded as "noise", in my opinion. Does anyone else have thoughts on the most neutral way to refer to this? Might the mantra "publish or perish" have legitimacy here? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 16:13, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
Noisy data and noise are different things. The data is noisy (among other reasons) because there is an enormous amount of variability from class to class and student to student, and that variability overwhelms the effect that any particular factor (such as undergrad vs grad) has on how successful classes are. I brought it up because I thought it would be helpful for thinking about and discussing the issue. The Wikipedia Education Program team at WMF doesn't have a dog in this fight, so I'm not sure what you think I'm propagandizing here.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:32, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
Well what if I interpreted a WMF staffer as saying this: "Well the education program did this really comprehensive study and we were hoping to find something but we didn't really find anything and we don't know what makes things higher quality. Thus, because this study was so awesome, we'll never really be able to figure it out." Would it be a bad thing if that was my take away message? Or does the data merit that kind of interpretation? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 17:29, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
If that was your takeaway message, then there was some miscommunication. I would love to see more and better research in this area.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 17:45, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

Biosth, I don't get how you can possibly apply 'publish or perish' to the research Sage has pointed to. Publish or perish is a mantra generally confined to a specific setting, tenure track academia, where some feel that the current system has been set up to focus on publications above all else (hence, publish or perish,) and that tenure track faculty can be denied tenure (i.e., perish) if they dont publish enough. If you think there's any chance that Sage is going to be fired if he doesn't produce data (and yes, even though it is noisy and hard to draw conclusions from, what he posted is data,) then you are both wrong and rather silly. I'm sure Sage would be ecstatic if someone came up with a more solid model for analyzing classroom success than what we've come up with so far: he wants to see the program succeed, and identifying factors that tend to result in successes is an important part of that effort. Kevin Gorman (talk)

Reading things into what I'm saying is not productive. Weak data shouldn't be presented with confidence. Is that a better summary? My impression is that weak data was presented by the WMF as strong data. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 21:40, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
Quoting from Sage, earlier in the thread, "But the small sample size and noisiness of the data means that I wouldn't put much weight on any of the specific conclusions." Kevin Gorman (talk) 22:23, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
I'd quote from an email—but that wouldn't be polite—to note that it has been suggested to me that naming names is not polite. I'm not talking about Sage. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 11:54, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

Default messages in the extension

Sage, I saw from the IRC log that you mentioned playing around with those default messages. Might you discuss those ideas here? Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 19:46, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

Could you clarify? I'm not sure what you're referring to.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 19:56, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
On course design, sorry. Did you mention playing with other default messages associated with the education program as well? I don't think I've read every word yet, sorry. If so, let's discuss them all. Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 19:59, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
Ah, I see. To save others from searching the logs, here's what I said:

[20:51:01] <ragesoss> Those of [you] interested in course design, FYI, building in some better and more elegant assignment design guidance into the course pages extension is something that our developer and I have started brainstorming.
[20:51:29] <ragesoss> If you have an interest in contributing to that brainstorming and design process, please contact me.

Basically, at present the {{course page wizard}} is pretty primitive, and it loads a one-size-fits all assignment timeline in one huge batch of wikitext. If there was a bit more hand-holding and opportunity for instructors to make meaningful choices and build an assignment piece by piece (instead of either just leaving the default, or replacing it all at once with their assignment), it would be a much more effective wizard. So at some point, we'd like to build a flexible assignment design workflow into the course pages (without having to rely on nasty template hacks). (I was confused because this is not about default messages.) As a start, I've begun trying to diagram some of the main workflows that relate to course pages: File:Course page setup and updating workflow diagram, v. 1.svg. I won't ask you for feedback, as I know you are tired of such calls from WMF. But if anyone gives me un-asked-for feedback, it won't be unappreciated. ;) --Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 20:43, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
Getting this right is going to be very challenging, and very essential to smooth course integration. Universal Course Design is something I have been learning more about in recent years and I think that there is room for that body of literature to inform some of our practices. I also think that the idea of creating a course syllabus widget might ultimately be thwarted by the variabilty of different syllabi in different courses, i.e., there is no such thing as one "baseline" syllabus which we could use as a common point of entry with multiple courses. On a related note, when I look at the weeks of content proposed for integration in to a course, and I think about it as a teacher, I get cold feet: as presented, it seems like it would demand too much bandwidth in the course. But when I look at it as someone who has some experience teaching with Wikipedia, I know that every element is needed.--Bob Cummings (talk) 02:55, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
From my experience, from not knowing the literature, and from finding the WP:Czech education program attractive, I perceive downsides in providing a universal design. I see the potential for harm in creating a default that discourages Ambassador–instructor pairs. It sends a powerful message to instructors that they can go it alone and be just fine. Did the WMF as an institution learn absolutely nothing from this? I see no evidence of learning. I only see the same old line, repeated over and over. And I think it's time for the WMF to completely stop promoting student assignments on English Wikipedia in any shape or form. But that's just my opinion. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:29, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
  • @Sage Ross (WMF): There's a group of standards called IMS Learning Design, which the wikimedia could implement. I would not recommend that route, but if nothing else some exposure to some of these kinds of things formalised from the education side of things may help formulate your thinking. Moodle is an open source project that implements much of the family of standards, I believe; as I understand it they found the family strong on prescriptive and formulaic assessment. Stuartyeates (talk) 06:22, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

Thanks Stuartyeates and Bob. I think we don't want to bake any specific content into it, but rather create a way that's easier for instructors to go through the assignment design process bit by bit and draw from (or not) the examples of assignments that worked that are similar to what they are trying to accomplish.

Biosthmors, I'm not sure what "same old line" you mean or what lesson you think I'm failing to learn. My team is always interested in finding ways to improve education programs and helping avoid the kinds of problems that can happen with student assignments — some types of which are rooted in the design of an assignment. If you have more concrete suggestions than just give up, I'm always happy to read them.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:02, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

I guess what I'm saying is this: why did/is the WMF handing over the program if they still want to meddle with it? What's the logic here? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:07, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
We're focused on improving the technology and offering more and better support (such as documenting what has worked well for different programs, and improving tools like the trainings) to help individual education programs succeed. We're definitely not interested in "meddling" in areas where help is not wanted.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:16, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
I like technology: see below at #Development of the extension. =) Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:00, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

Why does/should the WEF have a seat for chapters?

I don't understand what chapters have to do with the purpose of the education program. What do chapters do to help English Wikipedia with WP:Student assignments? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:19, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

The seat (which is currently not active) is reserved for groups, which the board will need to define in more detail later. (The bylaws, which define the seat, are available here.) The goal is to have a seat for for interest groups that we are hoping to encourage; these can be chapters if the chapters meet the definition. For example, a group of educators and editors who are interested in improving the quality of classes run on medicine topics might be able to work on ways to improve the (frequently bad) experiences we've had with classes in that area. This is something we hope to be able to support in the future. Chapters are also participants in the Wikipedia movement; their work is not always as visible on-wiki because it involves organizing events. We don't have the seat active yet because we haven't yet put any time into defining how these groups would work or how they would elect a board member, but I think if we can encourage interest groups like this they will deserve representation on the board. If we have the resources available, I'd like the WEF to be able to provide these groups with grants to allow them to meet, and support other activities -- perhaps visiting campuses or conferences. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:45, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
How about HASTAC for this seat? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:24, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
Do you mean "do HASTAC qualify as a group"? If so, all I can say is the board hasn't spent a lot of time yet discussing groups. If you have suggestions, please post them. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:42, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes, do they qualify as a group for the purposes of this seat? It seems much more rational to give the seat to them than a chapter. I don't understand what value a chapter representative would add to the board. It seems other wise people on the noticeboard have endorsed HASTAC as a group. I haven't seen any wise people endorse a chapter representative. But if anyone is thinking of any, then please let us know. I guess if I had to pick one it would be the guy that helps direct the Czech education program. But to me you can learn from the model very easily without needing to give away a seat. It's an intuitive concept (the Czech program). Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:54, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

One ambassador per student?

I heard a while back that the beginning of the education program had a one ambassador per student model. Why did the education program abandon that? It seems that quality must have been high a long time ago when that started (as long as the ambassadors understood quality content). Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:58, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

The one-online-ambassador-per-student model didn't work out well because it was a poor use of ambassador's time, and a frustrating experience when student editors are not as responsive as Wikipedians are used to. It basically resulted in a lot time spent trying to see whether student editors needed help — when most did not — and a not very enjoyable ambassador experience. In terms of quality, the article quality studies found a slightly higher average improvement for the Spring 2012 classes than for the Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 classes which had online ambassadors paired individually with students.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:39, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
And how might this information relate to WP:MEDUCSF, in your opinion, which is attempting to do the one-on-one thing with 4th year medical students and a class of about 8? Any recommendations there? It's a pilot for the project, and with all the press the professor is keen for it to be a raving success. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:09, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
More involvement from more people is always good, ceteris paribus. If you're focused on making this one course a success, then it probably makes sense to give a level of one-on-one attention to this one, even if it's not possible (for lack of volunteers) to do the same for a larger number of classes/students later on. But if the pilot is intended as a model for what other medical school classes could do, it's worth thinking hard about what would and would not be possible at a larger scale.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:29, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. I'm personally quite wary of any press that comes out of this that wants to expand the model. I think WP:MED should stick to one-on-one for this kind of thing at the moment, until I'm persuaded otherwise. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:32, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

There is no U.S. and Canada education program

That would be discriminatory. There is just one education program. At least that's how I see it. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:31, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

You don't see a difference between a program organized under Canadian privacy protection laws, organized by people who can physically support the classes they ambassador and.. not that, and also see it as discriminatory? Some of your recent posts are honestly just a bit confusing. Kevin Gorman (talk) 21:39, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
I had 3.5 hours of sleep yesterday. Was grumpy. Sorry. =) Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:23, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't see any reason why a volunteer would want to support a class that originates in a defined area of land but not one elsewhere in the world. I'm currently living outside of the U.S. and Canada, and I don't want anything to discriminate against those classes. I'm currently acting as a Campus Ambassador for Education Program:Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies/Gender and International Affairs (Fall 2013) here in Geneva and I've helped them set up and maintain the course page. I wonder if DStrassmann knows the professor. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:28, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
Because probably the number one predictor of the success of a course is the physical presence of an experienced Wikipedian, and unless you feel like giving me a hell of a lot of money to cover travel and per diem costs, I'm not going to be able to adequately act as a CA for a course in Geneva, or Spain, or Costa Rica. Kevin Gorman (talk) 22:21, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
Hi Biosthmors, I think the reason for the demarcation of US and Canada had to do with (1) being realistic about how broadly we could build a network of people (ultimately geography plays a factor), but mainly (2) the legal and accounting concerns. In order to create a non-profit in the US we had to follow laws associated with achieving and maintaining 501(c)(3) status. At least, that's how it was explained to me. I think we would have been happy to make it a global education program if it were at all possible.--Bob Cummings (talk) 22:22, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
Just a quick note about this. Legal factors aside (even though they're very important): the education system looks drastically different from country to country, as does the Wikipedia of the country's language. Since the US and Canada have a similar higher education model and both edit ENWP (though clearly could edit on French and other languages, too), the programs were grouped together. I think past education programs have taught us the vast importance of understanding the educational culture in a country where trying to implement a project like this. Not to mention how horrible it would be if we attempted to trump (or even advise) the other 60+ education programs currently running around the world. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 22:51, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
My sincere hope is that volunteers will not have any incentive or disincentive structure (real or imagined) to help them lean towards or away from supporting English-contributing classes from a online global environment. While in Switzerland a class popped up from Geneva. I jumped on it. Now 50 graduate students will be working on many important topics to help close the gender gap. I wouldn't want us to shoot ourselves in the foot in any way. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:08, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

Evolutionary psychology again


Just a heads up that following on from a fairly problematic education project (discussed here) and also at ANI and multiple AFDs), it appears that the instructor is planning another editing project, this time on the subject of Psychology and sustainability. See [4] and [5]. I note with concern the explicit instruction not to use talkpages [6].--Slp1 (talk) 22:11, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
Noting also these discussions on the alternate account talkpage User_talk:Psyc-mmills--Slp1 (talk) 22:26, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Also worth noting: the professor involved in the class has racked up no fewer than seven sanctions related to the community probation on men's rights articles. Kevin Gorman (talk) 22:15, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
  • And, they get credit for GA (noting this depressing situation on a GA from another course) and that I've spent a good deal of time today dealing with DYK submissions from other courses. Crap content from poorly supervised students overwhelming content review processes and established editors. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:21, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

I think we need to have a serious discussion about what to do in the immediate future about what to do about ridiculously bad courses Someone with seven frigging tbans shouldn't be running a course on a closely related topic. I know that in the past we've wanted to not take strong action against bad courses for fear of scaring people off, but there's no way anything good will come from this. Kevin Gorman (talk) 22:31, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

    • I would support a full ban from Wikipedia for this professor. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 23:03, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
  • I have worked with Memills on the evolutionary psychology and related articles and from what I've seen Memills edits from a very strong pro-EP point of view and tries to WP:OWN the articles. Other editors have expressed similar concerns (e.g., [7][8][9][10]). I'll probably take flak for writing this but I have doubts as to whether the students will edit in accordance with WP:NPOV and other core content policies. --Sonicyouth86 (talk) 00:30, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
I sincerely doubt you'll take much flak here for suggesting that it is very unlikely that Memills' students will edit in accordance with our core content policies ;) Kevin Gorman (talk) 00:32, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
I was expecting several angry messages telling me to AGF ;) --Sonicyouth86 (talk) 01:09, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
nope :) We are well into territory where WE are being "bitten" by THEM, only there are few of us and tons, Tons and TONS of them, coming at us from every direction. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:22, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

Online Ambassador application: AKAmbassador


YOUR USERNAME HERE (talk · contribs)

  1. Why do you want to be a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    Alaska needs adequete representation on Wikipedia and I live, love, and explore this state.
  2. In three sentences or less, summarize your involvement with Wikimedia projects.
    I donate $3.00 a month to Wikipedia. That's about it.
  3. Please indicate a few articles to which you have made significant content contributions. (e.g. DYK, GA, FA, major revisions/expansions/copyedits).
    Let me know Alaskan topics and I will work on them. Have traveled extensively through AK.
  4. How have you been involved with welcoming and helping new users on Wikipedia?
    Helping them understand AK(Future)
  5. What do you see as the most important ways we could welcome newcomers or help new users become active contributors?
    Find out what they love and have them work on that
  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?
    Yea dude
  8. How would you make sure your students were not violating copyright laws?
    The importance of proper siting!
  9. If one of your students had an issue with copyright violation how would you resolve it?
    Good question, honestly not sure
  10. In your _own_ words describe what copyright violation is.
    Taking someones work and passing it along as your own, without credit or recognition
  11. What else should we know about you that is relevant to being a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    I love AK and Wikipedia!


(Two endorsements are needed for online ambassador approval.)

  • Sorry, but significant experience with Wikipedia is normally expected to become an online ambassador. I would highly encourage you to edit areas of interest to yourself, familiarize yourself with the education program etc, and come back at a later point and apply again. As it is, you currently do not have enough experience for me to feel comfortable assigning you OA rights. Kevin Gorman (talk) 02:26, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

Wikimedia LGBT

Wikimedia LGBT

Wikimedia LGBT is a proposed user group / thematic organization that promotes the development of content on Wikimedia projects which is of interest to LGBT communities. Currently, we are seeking active Wikip(m)edians to support the project's efforts.

The reason I am posting here? To direct Education project participants to Wikimedia LGBT/Interwiki, which shows ways Wikimedia LGBT can collaborate with other Wikimedia projects, including the Wikipedia Education Program / Wiki Education Foundation. Wikimedia LGBT will encourage LGBT studies professors around the world to assign their students to contribute to Wikipedia. Eventually, there might be a single WMLGBT page dedicated to the Education program, but for now it is listed at the top of the page. If any Education project members are interested in helping to flesh out a section, please feel free to assist. It can be confusing deciding which Education program links to offer to readers (Outreach Meta pages, Meta-Wiki pages, ENWP pages, noticeboards, etc.), so feel free to take a look and help if interested. Thank you. --Another Believer (Talk) 20:30, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

FYI – These are the teachers and their students who will benefit from using Wikipedia in their classrooms

There was an interesting read recently in Slate about When Should an Academic Write for Free?. One of the statistics in the article stuck me as relevant to the US Education Program. Nearly two-thirds of all those teaching in colleges and universities aren’t the tenured professors in corduroy sports coats familiar from pop culture, inoculated from layoffs and depressed wages. They are instead adjuncts—who work on piecemeal teaching contracts for an average of $2,700 per class, per semester/quarter—and other non-tenure-track instructors. I sincerely believe that the proper learning objectives based use of Wikipedia in the classrooms of these instructors will not only make them more effective, but enable their students to learn better collaboration, writing, communication and problem solving skills. The Wikipedia Education Foundation was not created to facilitate student editing in Wikipedia, it was created to innovate and support the effective use of Wikipedia in the classrooms of higher education. Wikipedia will benefit from achievement of that goal. The WP community is an essential tool in that endeavor and cannot be ignored, but I wish everyone would focus on better ways to achieve learning objectives in the classroom instead of trying to micromanage every aspect of this as they are now. --Mike Cline (talk) 15:46, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

right. timesink on my watchlist, more kool-aid. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:50, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
Mike, I have on this page frequently suggested that Wikipedians in general and the WEF in particular should think more about the context of current changes in higher education in the US and elsewhere, one of which is the increasing reliance on adjunct and other precarious labor. But it's not clear to me why or how Wikipedia could be of special use in the classroom for such teachers... except in so far as Wikipedia projects are seen as time-saving mechanisms, indeed even as sources of free, out-sourced assistance from Wikipedia volunteers. If so, I would say that this is very much not the message that the WEF should be sending, either to Wikipedians or to institutions of Higher Education. On the contrary: I would emphasize rather that Wikipedia assignments generally entail more work of the instructor, rather than less. But perhaps I have missed your point. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 19:53, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
@JB, But perhaps I have missed your point. Indeed that’s the case. I believe and have demonstrated a number times in a variety of classes and disciplines at MSU that Wikipedia can be an effective tool to help instructors achieve learning objectives and editing WP is probably involved less than 30% of the time. If the WEF ever decides to curate best practices in that regard, I will more than obliging to volunteer my time to make such curation widely available to higher education and WP community ambassadors. Where we differ and I am guessing why my point is not understood can be can be interpreted from the essence of the two thoughts in this comment. But it's not clear to me why or how Wikipedia could be of special use in the classroom for such teachers... except in so far as Wikipedia projects are seen as time-saving mechanisms, indeed even as sources of free, out-sourced assistance from Wikipedia volunteers. You and many others on this board must sincerely believe that WP is not inherently useful in helping instructors achieve learning objectives. I know this because of the above comment and the utter lack of discussion about how WP can help achieve learning objectives on this board. The comment about “sources of free, out-sourced assistance” indicates to me that helping to improve learning of students in higher education is seen as a burden by many members of the volunteer WP community and all they want to do is eliminate the cause of the burden. I have a 180° viewpoint here, as I relish the opportunity to take my lifetime experiences in teaching, research, writing and facilitation voluntarily into the classrooms of my local university. WP is a tool, and just like any tool, I respect the tool and don’t employ it in ways that harm the tool. All that said, the fact that you missed my point won’t change your mind or mine about the efficacy of the Education Program and the WEF. --Mike Cline (talk) 22:31, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
You and many others on this board must sincerely believe that WP is not inherently useful in helping instructors achieve learning objectives. Mike, quite the reverse. I don't see where you get that at all. Meanwhile, as you explain your point, it sadly seems that I didn't miss it in the slightest.
Look, I have every interest in the world in "helping to improve learning of students in higher education." Indeed, that is my job; it is how I dedicate most of my time. Which is why, taking the broad view (as I have been suggested that the WEF do), I think it would be particularly prejudicial were there any suggestion that Wikipedia can somehow justify the increasing shift towards adjunctification in US higher education.
I think it's fantastic that you (and others) wish to volunteer to help out in your local university. But I think it would be a disaster if anyone were to think that this was in any way a substitute for a proper, professional instructorship, who are treated accordingly unlike the adjuncts "on piecemeal teaching contracts for an average of $2,700 per class."
This is an ethical as well as a political issue of the highest importance. If the WEF were to go down this avenue, it would be exceedingly disappointing. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 22:53, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I do think we have a misunderstanding and regret that my original post gave the wrong impression. I am not an academic, never have been. I am a professional consultant who students (the corporations I work for) must succeed or I don't get paid. Even when I was in the military, if those I mentored and lead didn't succeed, I didn't succeed. After 17 years consulting (teaching, facilitating, mentoring) in corporate America, including several universities and colleges, it is evident that there is tremendous disruption going on in higher education due to technology and free knowledge. The "Adjunctification" of education as you call it may be a logical by-product of the increasing competition in the education industry. I neither endorse or condemn such adjunctification as it is just a by-product of a competitive enterprise trying to survive in a disruptive environment. I understand your distress in the face of such change. However, learning is learning no matter what structure it occurs in or whether or not the instructor is tenured, adjunct or volunteer. I sincerely believe that WP can be a valuable TOOL in helping students learn 21st Century reading, writing and problem solving skills and it matters little the status of instructors teaching any given course. For many in academia, the disruption of their traditional environment, may indeed be distressing, but for the the WMF, WEF and WP community, I don't think they should have a dog in that fight. --Mike Cline (talk) 01:42, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
Mike, the situation in higher education is rather more complex than you seem to grasp. There's much that has been written on the issue, but this might be a place for you to start. Meanwhile, you have no idea about my "distress" or otherwise. In fact, personally I think there are very many opportunities; but there are also many risks. If the WEF wants to have any traction at all in higher education, it needs a rather more sophisticated sense of what's going on, and how Wikipedia may or may not fit within current developments. Which is, incidentally, why I have repeatedly been suggesting that the board co-opt new members who do have such awareness. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 08:49, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
A couple of comments. I agree with Jon that it's unlikely that using Wikipedia in the classroom is going to save an instructor any time, though I'm not sure Mike Cline really intended to imply that. Personally, I would be very unhappy if the WEF were to assist in the adjunctification of higher education; the topic hasn't been discussed generally by the WEF board but I'd be surprised if others on the board felt differently. I agree with Jon about the need for more board members with broader knowledge of the issues he raises; Jon, the names you suggested were discussed, and we are actively looking for new board members. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:04, 9 November 2013 (UTC)

I've also been wondering how this program helps students. I can't speak for science subjects, but in the humanities the aim is to educate people about the literature in the field and to teach them critical thinking. So a class about Kant (which might involve a lecture and seminar a week for a term or for an academic year) will read the Critique of Pure Reason and some secondary literature, and the teacher will offer half a dozen essay titles to test the students' understanding. Each student will pick one, and will have to demonstrate (a) an ability to stick to the point within a certain number of words; (b) familiarity with Kant, (c) familiarity with the important secondary literature; and (d) an ability to recognize and argue the key issues.

In the Education Program classes I've seen, students seem to be able to choose any title they want within a broad topic area, and the EP articles I've read have usually not been based on scholarly sources. Because the students are all working on different titles, there's no common literature that they would be discussing in class (at least, not obviously so). They're not allowed to violate NPOV or NOR, so they can't engage in original argument or choose to favour one scholarly source over others. WP articles have to follow the preponderance of sources, per UNDUE, which is the opposite of what undergraduates should be doing if they are being taught how to think.

A humanities undergraduate should always be encouraged to conclude: "I don't care that Kant and every secondary source says X, I say not-X and here's why," and to come up with an educated, well-structured argument that shows familiarity with the sources the student is departing from. That's pretty much the point of a humanities education, but it's the one thing they're not allowed to do on WP. So how do the people involved in the Education Program see these classes as helping the students reach that goal (sticking for the moment with non-science classes)? SlimVirgin (talk) 00:14, 9 November 2013 (UTC)

Yes, many humanities courses are poorly suited to Wikipedia projects, especially if they involve original research (per SlimVirgin) or creative writing. However many humanities courses (I'm thinking especially of historical topics) involve the student learning the scope, methods, debates and approaches in the field. Here here there are any number of ways the professor can use Wiki projects that will get the student to read what the reliable secondary sources have to say about the debates between ABC and DEF and expand their entries with suitable cites to the RS. Designing that learning objective and figuring out what the students should actually do is up to the professor.Rjensen (talk) 05:35, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
SlimVirgin, your points are well-taken, but nobody should seriously be suggesting that Wikipedia assignments replace what goes on in the Humanities classroom. I addressed some of these issues in my essay on the MMM project. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 08:49, 9 November 2013 (UTC)
SlimVirgin, I don't have much to add to the two comments above, particularly Jon's essay which I think addresses your core point directly. However, I'd also say that in some classes I've seen, some of the students frankly needed to learn more basic skills than constructing well-structured arguments -- they often needed to learn about reliable sourcing, the appropriate use of primary and secondary sources, exactly what counts as plagiarism, and how to write clear prose, for example. If the question is "what value does a Wikipedia assignment bring to the students", I think there are plenty of ways for instructors to design assignments that will have real educational value. I hope one of the resources the WEF will have is a history of what assignment designs have worked well in the past, so we can help future instructors avoid some of the possible pitfalls. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:18, 9 November 2013 (UTC)

Discussion of Responsibility and Standards in Educational Assignments

It would be interesting to have more input in this discussion over at WT:ASSIGN. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 00:17, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Twomilkmaids (talk)


Lauren Petrino


University of Miami

Course title and description

This course is an undergraduate composition course; it is the first in a sequence of two courses that all freshman take (although some of my students are sophomores who didn't take the course their first year). The governing logic of the course is "inquiry," meaning that the course should simply expect students to learn how to communicate, research, and put together conversations and information about the things they are interested in. Basically, their goal is to "inquire" meaningfully. There are nine students enrolled in the course, and the motivation for bringing Wikipedia into the course came when we read Marshall Poe's "The Hive," an article about the history and dynamics of Wikipedia. We then realized that Wikipedia fits into our course goals because it will help students to learn to write for a global audience, research concepts/gather data on things they are interested in, think about and engage with the mechanics of writing, and consider how knowledge is produced and disseminated (the "theme" of our course).

Assignment plan

I expect each student to create their own individual project that will expect them to contribute in some meaningful way to the matrix of knowledge production that is Wikipedia. The range of their project might include copy-editing, adding content, organizing existing material in a way that substantially affects the way information is presented, translation projects, or verifying and adding resources and definitions. As a class we are open to other types of interventions into Wikipedia, but our main goal is to contribute in some meaningful way and engage with writing, knowledge production, and inquiry. User Neelix has luckily agreed to be our online ambassador, since no local ambassadors are available for our university.

Number of students


Start and end dates

My class has already begun, and we have started to practice editing under my own username for the moment. Our class ends on Dec 9th.

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Twomilkmaids (talk) 18:18, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

Question for the WMF, questions for the WEF, course not getting off to a good start

I am asking this question because it is prompted by User:SandyGeorgia's and User:Colin's current troubles, which are Wikipedia's troubles. It relates to a course mentioned now in the archives. Did anyone at WP:WMF happen to help "the Evolutionary Medicine Wikipedia Network (EvMedWikiNet)" develop? Did any Wikipedian? I see it linked at Education Program:Case Western Reserve University/ANTH 302 Darwinian Medicine (Fall 2013). It just appears that, from my perspective, with neuroscience, psychology, and now this, that we keep ending up with all these professional societies having large ambitions, but without ever appearing to get help from Wikipedians first. It's quite annoying. Has anyone had contact with the Evolutionary Medicine Wikipedia Network? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:24, 24 October 2013 (UTC)

Many schools participate without any interaction with the education program or with Wikipedians. I feel like this course would have been signaled to WikiProject Medicine, but I do not recall it being mentioned there. The two users Biosthmors just mentioned are also people on the medicine page. At Wikipedia:Education_noticeboard/Archive6#Request_for_course_instructor_right:_Sanetti_.28talk.29 it seems that there were problems soon after starting. This does not seem like a risky class if the professor gives oversight and has had a bit of training. Hmmm... I am not sure what action to propose but this needs a response. I could offer an hour of video chat with the professor. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:42, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
I see Education Program talk:Case Western Reserve University/ANTH 302 Darwinian Medicine (Fall 2013)/Timeline needs some basic formatting, but I think that is best done with an ambassador and professor working together on Skype so the professor actually learns how to edit Wikipedia. Wikipedia shortcuts aren't even linked on that page. If this course is going to be run again, which I hope it does, if feedback is taken to improve the course/course page (and hopefully others within this "network", though google doesn't show anything). Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:49, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
I do not see the bad course page as a major concern. I do dislike the wizard guidelines in setting up a timeline, and also for asking for the syllabus for the course. This just results in copyvios and useless information being pasted here. In any case, I offered to talk with the professor - see User_talk:Sanetti#Offer_to_chat_about_course. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:52, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
The hour of video chat would ideally be with a medical editor (such as User:Jmh649, or User:Colin, or even User:Maralia or User:Nikkimaria) since issues of editing medical articles are rarely well explained by others (WP:MEDRS in general, and as it relates to WP:UNDUE). In this case, it just happens that the first thing to come to attention was copyvio (before we even knew it was a course),[11] in the midst of another WMF whitewashing of ongoing copyvio concerns, but copyvio is more easily addressed than the other problems that are surfacing (copyvio can easily be reverted, the rest is harder to deal with). For example, experience with writing for a Wiki with a known POV (Evolutionary medicine) will present a challenge for students who are guided by a professor who may not understand issues of WP:UNDUE in neutral writing, or at least may not be experienced in same. I am stretched to explain these issues to the professor and her students, but have patiently tried to do so, and it has taken my time away from article editing, since this course is hitting multiple medical FAs on my watchlist. It is unfortunate that they are targeting Featured articles, as a good deal of their proposed content may turn out to be UNDUE on those pages. The bad course page is certainly a concern, as pointed out by Colin (they are targeting highly viewed articles contrary to some course guideline page). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:53, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
It's a little upsetting to me to see you describe the recent plagiarism research as "whitewashing". I've tried to be fully transparent about the methodology we used (and its known and potential shortcomings) and the results we got, and to be circumspect about what conclusions are warranted.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 16:14, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
Actually, it was a later comment from someone else that triggered my comment (can't recall who, but another WMF person came late to the discussion and questioned something along the lines of implying there was no problem-- most offputting). Sage Ross, you rarely write anything that concerns me! Now, having said that about you, that is not to say that I don't have ever-growing concerns about this program.

The sense that those promoting this program are not understanding its effects on established editors continues, and continues to grow. On this very page, where I raised a coyvio concern, within 24 hours, professor rights were granted by someone who wasn't even aware that concern was on the page and without taking advantage of that opportunity to bring it to the prof's attention and make sure the prof was brought up to speed. Do you all think blowing the whistle on a student who is identified by name on a public forum is fun or that it was something I wanted to do, considering it is this program that has led to an increase in ill-prepared student editing? For gosh sakes, at least read what is on the page before granting rights and missing the chance to educate. And the concern that class editing constitutes meatpuppetry continues, and established editors find it harder and harder to keep articles clean. Issues like this further the division between paid and unpaid volunteers. Yes, in general, there is whitewashing of those concerns on this board, but no, I'm not going to take the time to go back and find the comment from the WMF staffer that amounted to "whatdya mean problems, there are none". Baloney. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:38, 24 October 2013 (UTC)

Went back in archives to find the referenced comment, which was, in response to Bios:

I'm trying to understand what you think is "sucky" about the program in the US and Canada. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 18:42, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

Seriously, this noticeboard isn't that old, there are only five or six archives, and it's not that hard to process through the discussions of problems; that comment seems dismissive. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:20, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
And Sandy, it's been a while since I've done much with deep vein thrombosis, but I think it's given me enough exposure to MEDRS to be a "spokesman" on behalf of how to edit clinical medical topics.
I wouldn't mind helping out with the course page, but offering now doesn't seem like a good time. Lane has offered to help. Sandy has been reaching out by email. You two, keep us updated? Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 16:32, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
I did not intend to leave you off the list of qualified ~! By all means, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:38, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Sandy. But FYI, when you said "For gosh sakes, at least read what is on the page before granting rights and missing the chance to educate", I agree with your sentiment, but I think that would have been technically impossible unless the course page were developed in user space with a Wikipedian (or a Wikipedia-savvy person) before being "reviewed" here. The user rights are to play in the Education Program space. I made that kind of argument here. That's a super long thread, though! Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 17:16, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
As previously discussed on this page, the program pages have been made sufficiently difficult that I (a long-time and involved editor) have difficulty even finding the pieces to sort out what's what when my watchlist is hit by student editing. An already difficult situation made worse by programming changes here that make Wikipedia pages not act like Wikipedia pages. Call me an old dog who can't learn new tricks, but seriously ... I write articles. I don't want to have to figure out why you all set up pages that can't even be found or watchlisted. I used to love mentoring new editors. This program has taken the joy out of both. Because I spend most of my time now fixing faulty edits and attempting to mentor students who will never become established Wikipedians, or become knowledgeable enough to help with routine article maintenance. They are here for the grade, they take our time and resources, they leave when the course ends. In the case of medicine, after typically adding little to nothing of value. I would love to again mentor a committed editor-- one who wants to learn and will become an asset to WP:MED. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:20, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
+1 Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 22:45, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
@Biosthmors: I have to repeat that I disagree (but agree with User:Bluerasberry) that the Course Page is not as important to the quality of the class contributions as you are making it out to be. Yes, I believe it positively impacts the class when the professor works closely with somebody to understand guidelines and set up an assignment, but you have to be realistic that plenty of professors do not want to duplicate their work that they're doing on the syllabus, on another space for their students, and in the classroom. You hopefully realize by now that a professor taking on a Wikipedia assignment is a lot more time-consuming than sticking with their traditional curriculum, so please give them the benefit of the doubt that they aren't taking it lightly. Some classes and some students will likely have issues, no matter how much preparation goes into the assignment, but it certainly doesn't all go back to what the Course Page looks like or whether it's formatted appropriately.
As for the user rights, they are granted to provide a professor a tool to use when teaching with Wikipedia. Professors don't have to use the education extension because this is the encyclopedia anyone can edit. This particular professor never responded to the email I sent him via WP, but I do think having his students' usernames and being able to track them back to that class is more useful than not. Isn't it? It's not ideal, and it's not the norm when it comes to professors wanting support, but it seems better to me to have some insight into the class rather than none. Another note—is Bluerasberry not qualified to speak to medical guidelines? JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 17:49, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
I understand what you're saying, but I find it to be a mischaracterization of my position to say it doesn't all go back to what the Course Page looks like or whether it's formatted appropriately. That's not my position... Yes, I certainly do understand it is more time-consuming, which is why I volunteer and I think we need more Wikipedian–instructor pairings, in my opinion. I like having a course page as well, but it's not like a course page is how the community figured out things weren't going well with the edits.
If Bluerasberry has brought up a disease article to good status and has also addressed WikiProject Medicine-associated peer review concerns from "seasoned editors" (I'm thinking Axl, who is a physician), then I think that's the general threshold to get "street cred" in the project, in my opinion. I'm not certain if this quasi-arbitrary threshold has been met or not. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 18:05, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
And I understand that professors do not want to duplicate their work that they're doing on the syllabus, on another space for their students, and in the classroom, which is why I want the course page to be the main spot students turn to when they have questions about their assignment. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 18:10, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
@JMathewson (WMF): I don't know if Rasberry is qualified to deal with medical articles; I know who the active, involved, knowledgeable WP:MED editors are because I've worked with them for years. Others aren't always well versed in WP:MEDRS, or how to apply MEDRS along with UNDUE in the context, for example, of a Featured article that must use high-quality sources per WP:WIAFA. I listed a few editors known to me to be familiar on that level, because this particular course is approaching the work with a built-in bias, and UNDUE in the context of MEDRS needs to be explained to them. Also, after seven years actively involved in every aspect of the process, four years as WP:FAC delegate, I know which medical editors know WP:WIAFA and write on that level; this course is targeting multiple Featured articles. The kind of poor research that might stand on an undeveloped article typically has no place on an FA, so the students are likely to find their experience frustrating. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:37, 24 October 2013 (UTC)

I think there's a fundamental problem with this whole course. As indicated by Jfdwolff, here '"I notice that the course focuses particularly on Darwinian medicine. I think it is very important to be clear that with regards to many medical conditions, evolutionary aspects may well be too underdeveloped scientifically to include into mainstream encyclopedia articles. Of course there are famous theories (about the evolutionary advantage of haemoglobinopathies in sickle cell disease, for instance) but unless these theories are covered in reliable secondary sources, there might well be a reason to exclude them from Wikipedia". This class was asked to pick articles from (among other criteria), "the list of most viewed articles on WikiProject Medicine". The assignment is almost guaranteed to be POV because the student is asked to find areas where there "are important evolutionary considerations not yet represented on Wikipedia, for example by consulting from evolutionary medicine resources". These sources are biased towards Darwinian medicine, which is a largely speculative endeavour. The students are not asked to consult the sources on the article subject and then see if the WP:WEIGHT given to evolutionary medicine issues within those reliable sources finds representation within the articles. A single review article on evolutionary medicine & the topic is regarded as sufficient. Although the students are asked to not evangelise for evolutionary medicine in their writing, it is hard to see how they can apply NPOV given the earlier advice.

The articles chosen are (name / class / daily hits)

The prof running the course isn't an experienced Wikipedian. I have no doubt their intentions are good. However is hasn't been thought through and shows all the lack of preparation typical of student courses. Only on Wikipedia do we find professors teaching a topic they know nothing about (how to write for Wikipedia), asking students to do something they haven't done themselves. And please, can we stop repeating the "because this is the encyclopedia anyone can edit" as an excuse. These students and professors are welcome to edit Wikipedia on a voluntary basis like everyone else. But Wikipedia is not a homework assignment -- it is an encyclopaedia read by thousands of people every day. While something like Wikipedia:Assignments is not policy, I see no good coming of this program at all. Colin°Talk 12:34, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

Colin, I sympathize 100%, except I think it's an overstatement to say "I see no good coming of this program at all". (One could find some good somewhere, of course.) And I'd like to see a WEF response from Mike Christie. But anyways, this course is a perfect example of why Jami Mathewson (the Program Manager to be starting Nov. 1) has started emailing Regional Ambassadors at least some details about professors and courses while emailing the Regional Ambassadors to ask them to grant course instructor user rights. That thread was long and is now linked at WP:WEF in the September update. But we have to strike the right balance. I'm not sure where that is at. Clearly Wikipedian's aren't providing enough input before courses massively fail like this one. How can we get the WEF to actually get Wikipedia assignments improved before they are designed to fail? That's the question. Currently they are focusing on administrative tasks, such as finalizing the Executive Director position before offering it out. There is a spot for a Wikipedian on the board, and I've been asking for that spot, but I gather other Wikipedia editors are asking for it as well. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:47, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
Re "One could find some good somewhere, of course" Yes small miracles happen occasionally despite the odds. But I continue to see defence of letting just anyone do this unprepared and unaccountable. We get a "They are not one of ours, nothing we can do, anyone can edit" response. I don't accept that. Is someone from WEF going to join with JFW and ask them nicely to stop and reconsider?
I'm going to take this page back off my watchlist again, along with the above medical articles. No point. -- Colin°Talk 13:37, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
At work and unable to respond now; will try this weekend or late tonight. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:04, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
Who else has their hat in the ring? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 13:02, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
I have many of these on my watch list and have worked extensively on some of them. I moved one addition to a subpage. Most of the articles have not been edited yet. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 14:04, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I just talked with the professor. I gave her a tour of Wikipedia with screenshare. I emphasized the need to make contributions while also having each student go to the talk page and say what they did, as well as accept feedback. I showed her WP:MEDRS. She is going to have the students indicate which articles they are editing on the course page. I will also show her this discussion and ask her to response here to concerns. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:17, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
    • Spectacular! Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:03, 25 October 2013 (UTC)


I appreciate all of the subsequent work on this issue, but I am concerned that the focus in this discussion was shifted to the professor, the students and the course, overlooking several WEF missteps along the way that could have helped avoid a potential trainwreck. I do not feel as negative about possible outcomes as some have expressed here, because since the problems were raised, the students and professor seem to have been nothing but cooperative and willing to understand Wikipedia policies and procedures. I probably expended too much effort in trying to explain policies and guidelines to the class and students (User talk:Sarmocid/sandbox), where Colin and Jfdwolff were better able to explain the POV issues with much less wordiness.

So, to refocus on what I believe should be of concern:

  1. I encountered an initial copyvio (not since repeated from that class and something that should be considered unfortunate water under the bridge), and came to this board because I could not begin to figure out where to find the course or professor. I was pretty much brushed off here, told to find it myself, and yes, I had already consulted Biosthmors, who happened to be traveling at the moment (or I'd wager he would have helped).
  2. After pointing out that I was trying to find that course, professor rights were requested and extended here by staffers who apparently do not even review this board, and missed the first opportunity to engage early on with what has turned out to be a helpful and collaborative professor.
  3. At that time, had anyone with knowledge of how content is built on Wikipedia, particularly how medical content is built, read the course description and engaged the professor, they woulda/shoulda been able to point out the issues that have now been explained by both Colin and Jfdwolff. With a whole lot less time and agida for all involved.
  4. As an unfortunate side issue, it happens that the POV that the course description encourages is the same POV of another editor who is not hearing it on five different talk pages, consuming talk with discussion but never providing secondary sources supporting proposed text, wanting to use one researcher's publications about his own theories rather than secondary reviews of that researcher's theories. The IDHT editor engaged the course students and professor, which presented another wrinkle that could have been avoided if WEF staffers had simply and early on pointed out the POV problems in the course design.

Consider how all of this looked from the course's standpoint; typical Wikipedia dysfunction. How do they know who they should listen to? Well, how about WEF staffers, for starters?

So, after a lot of medical editor time is expended here by editors who could be writing content and mentoring users who will become regular contributors here, Colin once again gives up in disgust (and not likely at the course, but at the WEF), I find that almost two years after I resigned as FAC delegate specifically so I could concentrate more on medical writing,[12] I spend almost no time mentoring new editors who will continue to produce good content, little time writing, and most of my time dealing with bad student editing because my area of editing happens to be focused around topics that are hit by every manner of wackiness (eg the klazomania example discussed many times).

I am no longer concerned about this course, except to the extent that the professor should rightly feel put off by the display of incompetence, and it should not have taken so much to get folks here to understand the issues. I am, again, concerned that in the next six weeks, as term-end approaches, any productive editing I might do will be hit by courses unidentified, as students who haven't tagged talk pages from courses we don't even know exist will dash to get their grades before the term ends, overwhelming my watch list with edits that are likely to require 100% removal, after lots of effort to determine if there is copyvio or other policy violations. This problem is not getting better. Repeat: this problem is not getting better. Some of it all goes back to ... the design of this program, which is becoming more and more indecipherable to even a regular, long-time, involved editor, and seems less and less responsive to the concerns of established editors.

MOST of what the Medicine Project produces of quality is done by about a dozen editors. The WEF has never produced a single medical editor that endured. Do you all want to continue discouraging all of the Colin's out there, who can and do actually write boatloads of featured content? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:47, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

I haven't read all of this yet, but the WP:WEF doesn't have an employee until Nov. 1st, FYI. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 16:52, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
I am wholly uninterested in the WMF politics that are taking over this board (indeed, this website). I don't care what they are called and whether they are paid-- there are people designing these pages, handing out some sorts of rights, and conducting business here in ways that is becoming unwieldy, indecipherable, and off-putting. The folks who gave the professor of this course some sorts of rights did it without reading this board, without understanding how content is built, and while missing the early advantage to engage more productively. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:57, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
I understand your frustration. It is quite a complex beast. But FYI, "community members" hand out the rights. They are called Regional Ambassadors. And in my opinion, they have been quasi-curated by WMF staff. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 17:08, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

Requesting the course instructor user right comes with default language

Is it optional? It is at Wikipedia:Training/For educators/Request instructor right/preload. I just removed Daniel, who confirmed in an email a while back he left the program in the Summer. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 16:35, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

Is this section in the wrong place? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:48, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
I don't think so, I think it's part of the larger narrative here. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 16:49, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

And what are the criteria for becoming a Regional Ambassador?

Personally, I was surprised to see that User:Frankcjones became one because I still kind of consider him a "newbie". Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 16:48, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

Honestly, I'm completely fine with us moving the RA selection/approval to WP:ENB, as long as everyone comes to consensus on the qualifications. As for Frank, he was recommended by another RA who has met him and interacted with him IRL and at teaching-with-Wikipedia workshops. You probably realize from the lack of participation here and on the mailing list that there aren't a ton of super-active RAs these days (certainly none so active as you :) ), so involving excited, eager, and interested people who have demonstrated a passion for learning more as they go seems, well, like a pretty good way to involve volunteers. That's just me, though, and I'm completely open to moving a "selection process" here—though I think we would better serve the Wikipedia Education Program and everyone involved by establishing a less hierarchical Ambassador system.
User:Pjthepiano and I have also been talking about what we believe to be much more important changes to the "Regional Ambassador" team, including moving it from a "regional" system (since everyone meets remotely anyway) to a subject-based system. The WEF board members have been talking about this since they were still the Working Group, and I think it's something we could revamp for Spring 2014. User:Etlib has also been trying to focus us on this change for a long time, and I think we're finally going to be able to take the time to do so! JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 23:44, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Jami. I am looking forward to seeing and helping the program develop and re-think itself. I'm not sure I agree with your first sentence, though. I don't know who the word everyone refers to in your first sentence. Questions that come up to me include these: did "everyone" come to consensus before the RA critiera were initially set? And who set the inital criteria? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 08:00, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
JMathewson (WMF), what are the current WMF criteria, though? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:53, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
I have no idea who came to consensus on RA criteria in the first place, as I was not yet involved in the Education Program. I imagine there was a posting on the Ambassador talk page, as this noticeboard did not yet exist. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 19:16, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 22:47, 28 October 2013 (UTC)

Relationship between poorly performing classes, the Education Program, and the WMF/WEF

Biosthmors asked me (above) to respond to this thread as a member of the Wiki Education Foundation (WEF). I haven't reviewed the medical edits that Colin and Sandy are commenting on; I trust their judgement that these are harmful edits. These comments are my own personal opinion; I haven't reviewed them with other WEF board members.

I think the issue with poorly performing classes is one that the community is going to have to resolve, because I don't see the WEF or WMF as possessing either the power or the authority to prevent these classes from happening. Several people on this noticeboard have worked on ways to solve this, by proposing guidelines or policies that would help -- for example by asserting the authority to block student editors who are causing problems, or by elevating MEDRS to BLP-level so reverts can be done on sight. I'm not sure if those are the right answers, but that's going to be up to the community.

I would like to see the WEF contribute its resources to fix these problems. Here are some suggestions for things the WEF can do to help resolve these issues. I'd like to hear more ideas.

  • Engage with the professional societies that have declared an interest in Wikipedia, and do outreach work to make them aware of pitfalls and how to avoid them, particularly with regard to medical issues.
  • Write, collect, curate and publish articles, how-tos, videos and other material that can be used by external groups wishing to work with Wikipedia
  • Identify and maintain lists of contacts with Wikipedia expertise willing to talk to professors and professional societies remotely or in person. Write and assist with presentations that can be used in these talks
  • Write up case studies of good and bad student experiences and class experiences, and incorporate this material in the talks and articles above.
  • Track and follow up on any reported announcements of societies, universities or individual classes planning to work on Wikipedia, in order to try to communicate with these groups prior to class design
  • Work with the community to review successful classes and try to determine what makes them successful
  • Volunteer to communicate directly with professors and societies running classes with problematic edits, and explain the problems and encourage communication directly with the community on Wikipedia talk and project pages
  • Capture input from professors running the classes on their interactions with Wikipedia and make it available to the community, to provide additional insight into what can and can't be expected from an on-wiki class.

There's nothing in my list above about course page requirements, requirements for professors to comply with any prerequisites, or requirements for on-wiki communication. The reason is that I don't believe the WEF has any authority to make any such rules. The community can do so, in which case the WEF can help to communicate those rules to the professors; but the WEF has absolutely no right to assert any such thing. The only thing the WEF can do along those lines is set requirements that a class must meet if the WEF is to provide help to it -- and the value of that is debatable because it is likely to be classes that fail to meet minimum standards that need the most help. Any requirements such as the above would have to be set by the community, via discussion on this page and/or elsewhere. I'll participate in those discussions as a Wikipedian who is representing the community to the WEF as a board member, but the WEF as an entity has no particular rights in that discussion.

If there's more that can be done by the WEF, I would love to hear it, because I entirely agree with Sandy, Colin and Doc James that there is a real problem here. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:14, 26 October 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for the followup, Mike; considering the considerable years we have of working closely together on top content, I am glad you don't find it necessary to review the work done by me or for example other FA folks :) :) I am always relieved you, as a person who knows how to build top content and has interacted for most of your Wiki-career with the people who actually do that, weigh in here, and glad we have your considerable talents at our disposal.

I agree that community solutions will be needed, and that there may be little that WMF or WEF can or will do. What I would like for the "paid" folks to do is "first no harm". Read this board. Understand the extent of the problem. Stop doing things that make it worse. Put out a blooming press release that tells the truth, and will help discourage every Tom, Dick and Harry professor from unleashing students on Wikipedia to a) push their pet theories into a top-10 website, b) create an amount of copyvio established editors can't keep up with, and c) come in here with the mistaken impression that they can guide students in editing Wikipedia when they have never done it themselves.

Look, we got all kinds of publicity after Jbmurray's successful course; we've never had another course achieve that kind of success, and we have no retained students from those courses (at least we have Jbmurray maintaining those FAs, though). That story needs to be told accurately to the press if the WMF places any value on content and retaining established, knowledgeable editors and if they take seriously legal obligations with respect to the known amount of copyvio in here (I'm not sure they do after the SOPA debacle, but I suspect that legally they better at least pretend to care).

I like your list, but I would add that I am increasingly concerned that this noticeboard is being used for politics and disinformation more than it is used as a place where an established editor can come and say, "I am trying to write content, and I keep encountering student problems, can someone deal with this"? The purpose of most noticeboards on Wikipedia is to get more eyes on problems, and where editors experienced in dealing with problems do that. The BLP noticeboard attracts people who know BLP issues, 3RR attracts those who evaluate editwarring-- where do we go when we need help with disruptive class editing? We don't get help in here. Editors (say, for example, Colin and me) who want to write content and used to love mentoring new editors who would stay on and help and who have no interest in being unpaid TAs to students who are only here for a grade and will not generate any useful content should be free to do that (write content and mentor useful new editors rather than act as TA for editors who won't be retained and won't further content), and should be able to come here and say, here's a problem from this program, will the resources on this board deal with them. Instead, we have a number of staffers (meaning, people with WMF after their username) weighing in here who seem completely indifferent to or unaware of the extent of the problems, a couple of regular editors who try their best to help at what is becoming a full-time job, but almost nothing in the way of actual help to relieve the strain on established editors. I wouldn't mind seeing a high-profile case of blocking so that we could get the attention of either the press or the universities involved, so that the word would get out that this kind of stuff needs to stop. I am aware that medical articles are apparently hit harder than other content areas, probably because the few dozen or so medical editors that are left still take sourcing seriously and care that we don't disseminate inaccurate medical info. We are giving students exceptions in the name of not biting the newbies that we wouldn't give regular new editors, and we are getting nothing in return, since these editors never stay on and become regular contributors.

Professor rights were granted here to a course whose very design encouraged POV editing. Why did no one even read the course design, or alternately, were the people reading the course design so unversed in content building that they couldn't recognize the built-in problems? What is the purpose of this board if faulty course design is approved?

In the real world, when a student plagiarizes, they usually get a big fat F. Why must we tolerate it in here? If the WMF cannot or will not do something, why don't we get a community policy to block the entire course as soon as we have one instance of plagiarism, since the profs are never checking their student edits as Jbmurray did? That will at least get their attention, and perhaps help stem the tide.

Why do we have this program? Why hasn't the WMF put out a press release explaining the significant amount of issues, copyvio, poor text, bad experiences, etc? The "encyclopedia that anyone can edit" was built around the idea that people wanted to be here. Why are we promoting programs that chase out those who want to be here, while encouraging those who are only here for a grade? If the WMF does not get on this, you know the regular press will. DO SOMETHING. Best regards to you, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:54, 26 October 2013 (UTC)

Sandy's right on. This thread is getting unwieldy, but I want to toss out a suggestion here. It's come up repeatedly that we can't expect teachers to do assignments themselves (in advance, pre-user right) because they're too busy. Maybe it's worth revisiting that, to ensure that they're well-equipped to handle a gaggle of 15+ student-editors, that they know how to handle flare ups before we put them in the drink. If the concern is that more profs will then go around the formality altogether, those "rogue" classes are very similar to any other edit ring and should be treated no differently (Sandy's meatpuppet recommendation). I think this would be a good step towards a cure. I also strongly agree with Sandy about the tenor of conversations on this noticeboard and how that should change. czar  15:47, 26 October 2013 (UTC)
Hello Czar. I think I agree with what you're saying. What was the argument you were capturing when you said others say "we can't expect teachers to do assignments themselves"? I think that if instructors are really too busy to prepare to run a WP:Student assignment properly then that is why the page says "Consider delaying your Wikipedia assignment to next semester if you are not familiar with how things work." Maybe we should beef up the language/the presentation of that language? If instructors aren't prepared, then they should not force students to become "paid" editors who are compensated with course credit, in my opinion. Wikipedia is the encyclopedia "anyone can edit". But is it the encyclopedia people can be forced to edit? That's what classroom assignments are—students are compelled to edit. Is that exactly in line with the mission of Wikipedia? I don't think so. If we block an entire class that is unprepared, then we are only doing the students and our readers a favor by halting the disruptive and unproductive edits that were made under compulsion by an ill-prepared instructor who likely doesn't have an inkling about the website and its values. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 08:55, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
I find this a very onerous and problematic idea. It is essentially guilt by association. If a class of 25 students is involved in a Wikipedia related assignment that involves editing, and a handful of students don’t comply with WP norms, policies and guidelines, then all 25 students are guilty and would be blocked. A very dangerous precedent that could be applied to any group of editors that had some form of association. Two editors associated with say the World Wildlife Fund plagiarized some articles, we could rightly say that under this concept, all editors associated with the fund should be blocked. The trend lately in WP seems to be to focus on punishing any editor and the groups they are associated with that is found to be problematic. There’s rarely any real effort to focus energies on training, mentoring, and providing the right kinds of resources editors (including students and professors) need to become productive within the norms of WP. Additionally, I find the repeated mantra that students are being forced to edit WP against their will a bit tedious and unsupported by any evidence. An editor is an editor regardless of their motivation, skill or expertise and should be treated as every editor is treated. The WMF saw wisdom in promoting the use of WP in the classrooms of higher education because they believed this was an avenue to improve participation and content. I agree with that wisdom and sincerely wish we could focus not on how we are going to punish editors, but rather how to get the most out of this program for WP. --Mike Cline (talk) 13:38, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
I don't see why you conclude this would be guilt by association. All it would do is prevent predictable harm to the encyclopedia. If any group is being compelled to edit but is doing so in such a way that runs counter to the encyclopedia's policies and guidelines, then we should block those accounts to prevent harm, in my mind. To me, it's common sense students are being compelled to edit. Would you say "no, I'm not going to edit Wikipedia" to your instructor if it was 20% of your grade? I see wisdom in running carefully managed WP:Student assignments. I do not see wisdom in the model the WMF has left us with. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 14:18, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
I don't see why you conclude this would be guilt by association - If 2 of 25 students were plagiarizing while the other 23 were complying 100% with WP norms and we chose to block the hold class because of the two-- If that's not guilt by association, then I don't know what is?
If any group is being compelled to edit but is doing so in such a way that runs counter to the encyclopedia's policies and guidelines, then we should block those accounts to prevent harm, in my mind. To me, it's common sense students are being compelled to edit. Would you say "no, I'm not going to edit Wikipedia" to your instructor if it was 20% of your grade? This is the kind of comment I find difficult to deal with. "Compelled to edit ... counter to WP norms" Do we have evidence that students are being compelled to edit in this way, or could it be they edit in a way that is counter to WP norms because they just don't know any better? In every class I participate in at MSU, the editing of WP is always optional from the student's perspective and students who chose not to edit, are given alternative means of achieving the class objectives. Students who chose to edit are given every resource possible to help them do it correctly. On the other hand we use WP in ways that are extremely productive from a learning objective standpoint that involves no editing at all. That kind of use of WP is generally not optional but in reality, doesn't require much upfront mentoring either.
All it would do is prevent predictable harm to the encyclopedia. Who is doing the predictions here? Sounds like there is some one or some group that has divine authority to pick and chose editors based on whatever criteria seems convenient at the time. There is a saying in the business world "Business would be easy if it wasn't for those pesky customers" I would add this "Wikipedia would be easy if it wasn't for those pesky editors" --Mike Cline (talk) 14:40, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
Sandy, you embedded a few questions and suggestions in your comments above. I think some of them are directed to the community and some to the WMF/WEF, depending on who has the ability to implement the answer. Here's my take on some of your points.
  • Put out a blooming press release that will discourage that tells the truth, and will help discourage every Tom, Dick and Harry professor from unleashing students on Wikipedia to a) push their pet theories into a top-10 website, b) create an amount of copyvio established editors can't keep up with, and c) come in here with the mistaken impression that they can guide students in editing Wikipedia when they have never done it themselves: This is an interesting one. I can think of a couple of different interpretations of this -- a press release to directly discourage professors from participating in the EP; or a PR intended to make it clear what the pitfalls are and what succeeds and what doesn't. I am not sure I would support the former; I think the latter is a good idea. However, at the moment my preference would be to do very little outward bound communication to publicize the EP. That doesn't mean stopping the existing newsletter and blog; to me it means no new outreach efforts. There is plenty to do with the existing groups that want to engage with Wikipedia, and we need to figure out how the community can best solve the problems you describe.
  • Editors ... who want to write content and used to love mentoring new editors who would stay on and help and who have no interest in being unpaid TAs to students who are only here for a grade and will not generate any useful content should be free to do that ..., and should be able to come here and say, here's a problem from this program, will the resources on this board deal with them: The problem I see here is that there are not many ways the resources on this board can help. One thing both the WMF/WEF and individual editors can do is talk to the professor involved, as Blue Rasberry did yesterday for the course that brought you here this time, and as Philippe Beaudette did for Steve Joordens' class that caused so many problems. I think this can be really helpful. In many cases, though, what's also needed is manpower, to review and revert edits. My understanding is that for legal reasons it's not possible for WMF employees to edit Wikipedia as part of their job, and I suspect the same will be true of the WEF, though I don't know that yet. So the labour of cleaning up student edits has to fall on the community. Obviously there are alternatives that have been discussed such as blocking classes but those are not choices that can be made here; those are community policy decisions.
    • I'm not a lawyer, but the WEF is would not be considered a provider of the information, as WMF is, because it owns the domain, so I don't understand why there would be concerns with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. How can we get a legal answer all will be satisfied with? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 11:30, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
      We have a pro bono attorney, and I've no doubt they can settle that question for us. We haven't asked yet but we will. But even if the WEF can edit content without legal issues, I'm doubtful that would be a good way to spend the funds we raise -- I see the need to have someone do the edits, but is that a good task for a paid employee to work on? If we could get a grant from a medical professional group to fund someone to do exactly that -- clean up mistaken student edits -- then I could see it, but funds are often going to be allocated (by the grant maker) to other purposes, and as Sandy has pointed out, this is a task that can eat a lot of time. Is that the best use of WEF time? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:16, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
      Thanks. I look forward to hearing back about the possibility of the WEF editing content. If the volunteer community saw someone else chipping in, I think it would make us all feel better, and more like we were all playing for the same team. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 14:22, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Professor rights were granted here to a course whose very design encouraged POV editing. Why did no one even read the course design, or alternately, were the people reading the course design so unversed in content building that they couldn't recognize the built-in problems? What is the purpose of this board if faulty course design is approved?: I'm going to have to leave this question for others to respond to -- I don't read the course designs and user rights applications here, just because I don't have time. This is something handled by the community, not the WMF/WEF; here is the user rights grant discussion for that course's professor.
  • User:Ktr101? Also could you please note below if you are seeking a seat on the board of the WEF as a Wikipedian? Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 11:35, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Absolutely not, as I have way too much on my plate right now, and I have never had any plans on doing so. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 15:40, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply on that Kevin Rutherford. When you get a chance, might you also clarify if you would grant a class like this the course instructor user right again? To me it seems obvious that this course had little, if any, chances of improving Wikipedia quality given its course design. It appears it was designed to be a NPOV violation. I see from the logs that you granted the user right on October 16th. It's unfortunatle that I feel I need to go back, dig up these details, and ask this. But I'm not sure if the Regional Ambassador team has learned anything from this disaster (if I may call it that) of an assignment. And I want to make sure we learn and continually improve. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 18:09, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
This is what I followed, even if there are flaws in their submission, because we can easily train the professor. Now, please stop badgering me over this issue, as I don't need to explain myself whenever I grant a user rights, as on-the-job training is often the best way to teach Wikipedia, in my opinion. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 05:00, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
  • In the real world, when a student plagiarizes, they usually get a big fat F. Why must we tolerate it in here? If the WMF cannot or will not do something, why don't we get a community policy to block the entire course as soon as we have one instance of plagiarism, since the profs are never checking their student edits as Jbmurray did?: I don't think anyone wants to tolerate it -- the only discussions I've seen that are less than condemnatory are ones in which it's pointed out that the students involved often include online sources that directly reveal the plagiarism, so it seems clear that many students are not trying to deceive; they simply don't understand that it's plagiarism even when the source is cited. Either way, of course, it has to go. I think contacting the professor in these cases is usually the best way to go -- I've done it for a couple of classes I've assisted with. What would you like to see the WEF do once a class has started, beyond talking to the professor? As for a community policy, people at this board can help by formulating something for broader review by the rest of the community. We'd have to have something like consensus here on what to recommend, though, and I don't think we have that.
I skipped your last paragraph because I think it's the same topic as my first bullet above. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:46, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Don't see a good place to thread my replies in here... but as a couple points: I've never run a class where 100% of students used sandboxes before going live. I probably never will. For most of the classes I am involved with, doing so would defeat a significant part of the purpose of the assignment. Unless somehow community consensus is arrived at to ban anyone who runs a class that isn't 100% sandboxed, I'll keep doing so. That said, none of my students edits have ever been brought up here as problematic, and as far as I know the only instances of blatant plagiarism in any classes I ambassadored for were caught by myself or the professor. Those students failed the assignment (and the class.) Just because I don't publicize that a student failed doesn't mean they didn't fail. Some other edits from students in classes I've run have had problems, but generally not revert on sight worthy problems. Future classes I will be watching more closely (partly because I am likely going to be resourced by Berkeley to do so,) and I reaaaalllly doubt that any of them will ever be brought up here as problems. I'd also like to point out that currently, every single person involved in the US education program except for professors/TA's and Jami are volunteers. Kevin Gorman (talk) 01:59, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
    • Thanks for ensuring well-managed student assignments, Kevin. If the whole program was well managed, we wouldn't be having this discussion. I wonder if the WEF will actually want to chip in. They should be asking their pro bono lawyer if it is possible. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 09:37, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
  • While I understand the frustration college classes participating on wiki have brought, I think it's important to address why we have the program at all. The WMF goal is to bring more users into the fold. If new users are a problem for current Wikipedians, they should encourage WMF to end the program. Our volunteer effort is not able to supervise students creating copyvio problems in the way that has been suggested. Realistically, anyone can join Wikipedia whether they're a college student or not, so perhaps Wikipedians ought to discuss how much of the current and future userbase they want thinned out. Chris Troutman (talk) 05:02, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
    • User:Chris troutman, to the best of my memory, the WMF WMF Education Program officially dropped the goal of editor retention a while back. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 09:35, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
      • Just a point of clarification, the Wikimedia Foundation's strategic goals have not changed. Different departments within WMF work on different goals: for example, the Education Program works on adding quality, diverse content to Wikipedia; the operations team works on stabilizing the infrastructure; the Growth team (formerly E3) works on editor retention. The Education Program has never had editor retention as a goal, so it was not "dropped", and the Foundation has other departments working on editor retention (as they have been). -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 19:04, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
        • Chris? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:48, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
          • Biosthmors I'm not sure why you're asking for a reply from me. As has been explained, Campus Ambassadors like myself are trying to bring new users to Wikipedia. You should know this. You tell me that you don't like how new users in the Education Program do things; noted. I respond that new users join everyday, as part of a college class or otherwise. Our current output is the best it's going to get. I suggest you have a larger problem you should address. Chris Troutman (talk) 20:49, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
            • Chris, that's quite pessimistic to think the community, which is dissatisfied, should settle for the status quo. Maybe you should tell the community to give up and the WEF to disband, then, if they can't help things improve? Please specify my larger problem. I guess it really was a waste to help write Wikipedia:Student assignments, then. I'm trying to bring new users to Wikipedia myself, but responsibly. "Edit wisely" would be the short of it. It's as if the WMF says this: "please everyone, come screw up this place, and force students to edit, 'cause this is the 'encyclopedia anyone can edit!', and I use that propaganda to justify my job!" If you really want to go to outreach, maybe you should hold a sign on the side of the street that says "Edit Wikipedia"? Just a thought. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 09:08, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

Campus Ambassador application: Bhushansbansode

Bhushansbansode (talk · contribs)

  1. Why do you want to be a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    I am always excited to gain and share knowledge. I find Wikipedia as the best source of knowledge for me and also updating it with knowledge will also help others to gain maximum of it.
  2. Where are you based, and which educational institution(s) do you plan to work with as a Campus Ambassador?
    Maharashtra Institute of Technology , Pune , Maharashtra , India
  3. What is your academic and/or professional background?
    Bachelor of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering graduate and Masters in Business Administration (appeared)
  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?
    Also a Quora user , I do not only deliver great answers but also create great questions.
  LinkedIn profile ,

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Bhushansbansode (talk) 16:37, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

Note that this application appears to be from Bhushansbansode (talk · contribs) not user BHUSHANSBANSODE (talk · contribs). Stuartyeates (talk) 20:34, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
Questions @Bhushansbansode: (1) What you consider suitable sourcing for articles about academic institutions? (2) Do you consider employees of an educational institution to have a COI when editing the article about the institution that employs them? Stuartyeates (talk) 20:34, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

@Stuartyeates and Stuartyeates: It was a mentioned BHUSHANSBANSODE during the Campus Ambassador application, I re-edited the application username.


1.The source for articles about academic institutions is In-Depth interviews with the top management of the institutions and making them voluntarily participate in sharing information in terms of articles that they think world need to know. Secondly, for feedback of the institution,world ranking,rating of the institution we need them to make students participate in the questionnaire made so that they can get a clear view of improvements, achievement and contributions of students and the institution as whole.This will result in formulation of new articles about the institution which are also beneficial for the institution for sharing with the world for better promotion. 2. Every coin has two sides, is the same case with most of the things , what happens is the educational institution will has a goodness to highlight but their are also some nightmares which are unforgettable. The problem is that some of these employees knew these cases and are eager to highlight the same but due to some issues they do not highlight these cases. So a case of anonymously posting can do. Bhushansbansode

Oppose: based on lack of contribution experience and apparent lack of understanding of sourcing and independence issues. Stuartyeates (talk) 00:11, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

WMF blog post about the WEF

There's now a blog post up on the WMF blog about the Wiki Education Foundation, for those interested. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:30, 9 November 2013 (UTC)

Yikes. Mike, with your name attached I at least thought it wouldn't look like it was written by the WMF. There isn't even a link to the education noticeboard. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 14:10, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
And please, everyone, Mike has told me multiple times he doesn't mind blunt and frank points being made to him. So please don't criticize my tone on this thread, yet. ;-) Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 14:24, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Students nominating articles for GA

For one of the previous discussions, see here.

I noticed that Khazar raised the issue here of a class flooding the GA review process with nominations. My understanding from previous discussions (though I now can't find them and may be misremembering) is that students wouldn't be encouraged to do this, given how precious volunteer time is. I thought this worth discussing here rather than on user talk, so I'll ping the people involved: Khazar2, JMathewson (WMF), Agelaia. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:45, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

This has come up a number of times and it turns WP:GA into a zoo. If the education program wants something along these lines, I suggest a process more like WP:DYK without the free ones, where people have to give constructive meaningful feedback before they submit their own and then a meta-moderation by long-term editors. Stuartyeates (talk) 04:14, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks SV, this probably is the best place to centralize it. The long story short is that this class of 50+ were assigned to nominate 1-3 articles each for GA; around a third of these nominations were obviously problematic enough that they were being quickfailed at first glance, and in many cases, the students hadn't yet made a single edit to their nominations. The professor has agreed to stop sending more nominations midway through the assignment, but 20 or 30 15 or so remain in the queue. I should note that this course seems to have done some good work in expanding species articles, and we should probably all be thanking Dr. Strassmann for creating it; it's just the GA mass nominations I'm skeptical of.
Personally, I'm not always opposed to student work being sent to GA, but it seems to me that a few prerequisites would be helpful:
  1. Obviously, at minimum, that student nominators actually work on their articles first.
  2. That the professor and/or Wikipedia course ambassador do minimal quality control to weed out poor nominations, rather than outsourcing that work to other volunteers.
  3. That if the professor and Wikipedia course ambassador intend to rely on a project to give students feedback, they discuss their plans with that project in advance. Asking a project like GA for 100-150 extra reviews, as seems to have been the plan here, means many hours of extra work; it seems like both courtesy and common sense to discuss that plan with the project's members in advance, especially when (as here) the idea is for us to do all of it in a few weeks to a month. (It's possible I missed a previous discussion about this at a GA noticeboard, but nobody else at WT:GAN seems to have known this class was coming, either.)
This is my third or fourth long post about these nominations, though, so after this point I will gladly shut my piehole, get back to reviewing, and let others take the lead. Cheers to all, -- Khazar2 (talk) 04:48, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
I think GA is potentially a realistic target, and if a programme can result in thirty new good articles, all the better. In my own experience, one major issue which exists with this current batch of student nominations, and has existed with prior groups, is that nominators/editors will frequently not follow up on suggestions given by reviewers. This makes the demand on reviewers even worse. Ideally, in addition to Khazar's pointers, which are all very reasonable, I think we need to see some kind of guarantee that the students will be willing to "stick it out" and respond to reviewers' suggestions. J Milburn (talk) 11:27, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
The class I am currently working with includes nominating for GA as an optional step. The course assignment instructions to the students say: "If you opt to seek Good Article status you must remove the nomination at the end of the semester if your article is unreviewed; or alternatively, you must commit to following up on the review after the end of the semester. (Not responding to reviews provided by Wikipedia editors to Good Article review nominations is disrespectful of the time the editors put into their reviews and suggestions.)" As a result of an unprepared GA nomination this semester, I've suggested to the professor that we add a requirement that the students who wish to nominate an article for GA get the agreement of an online ambassador first. I think that's a good general suggestion for classes with OAs. I think we should suggest to classes without OAs that they ask somewhere (such as this noticeboard) for help in determining whether an article is GA-ready. This requirement could be skipped where the professor has a GA or FA of their own -- any such professor can judge the readiness of an article without referring to a GA. I don't know if jbmurray has a GA of his own, but if not, he and other similarly experienced professors should also be exempted from this requirement. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:56, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
  • WP:ASSIGN is fairly clear on this issue. I suppose the problem is that despite its clarity it is not a guideline. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 14:51, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
    • Thanks for that link--I'll point professors and online ambassadors there if this comes up again in the future. -- Khazar2 (talk) 15:51, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
      • Oops sorry Khazar2 I meant to link WP:ASSIGN (instead of the WT page). Now fixed. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:56, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
        • I figured. Face-smile.svg Thanks! -- Khazar2 (talk) 15:56, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
  • I think the idea is nice in theory, but in practice, too many are straight quickfails, with maintenance banners and sometimes more than ten unsourced paragraphs. The students need to know what the minimum requirements are. The only one of these nominations I've ever passed was completed by someone else than the original reviewer (a regular editor), which is not ideal either. FunkMonk (talk) 21:22, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
WP:ASSIGN says: "Good article and DYK nominations are strongly discouraged for a number of reasons,[10] but allowing a small portion of the most dedicated students to attempt these outcomes, after careful review by the instructor or ambassador, may be rewarding." What can be done to highlight that part of ASSIGN to teachers? SlimVirgin (talk) 00:07, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
That's a good question. And I'd like to see a WP:WEF answer. =) Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:06, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Here's a possible solution. In the agreement with WEF the professor becomes the only one who makes the nominations and has to space them at least one week apart so as not to flood the system. Rjensen (talk) 11:01, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Update from Wiki Education Foundation October 2013

The main news for this update is that we have job descriptions for the program manager and executive director positions, and we'd like to get feedback on them. We have offered the program manager position to Jami Mathewson, and she has accepted; the start date will be November 1. We'd have preferred to get feedback on the PM job description before offering it to Jami, but the WMF is going to stop funding her as of October 31 and we felt it was necessary to make an offer immediately we had the job description agreed to by the board. That's not to say that the job description can't be improved by feedback given here, of course. The job descriptions are below. I'll be away for the weekend and will only have intermittent access to a computer so I may not be able to respond to any comments till Sunday night. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:11, 19 October 2013 (UTC)

So these aren't job openings, really, right? You already have people in mind you want to hire. Sounds like WMF already has their minds made up. Good luck! Liz Read! Talk! 18:51, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
There's nobody in mind for the ED post; just the PM. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 20:25, 19 October 2013 (UTC)
How does one apply for either post? Who makes the hiring decisions - the board of the WEF? Where can I see a list of all people who work for the WEF? Thanks, I will email this around. Blue Rasberry (talk) 00:28, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
I too would be interested to know, as I am going to be job searching soon. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 03:03, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
I'll post an email address to send resumes and a cover letter to shortly; just checking with the board to see who will receive them, and to see if there's anything else we'll request. Blue Rasberry: the WEF has no employees at the moment, though Jami Mathewson will soon be an employee (I hope). The hiring decision will be made by the board, which is Diana Strassman (chair), PJ Tabit (treasurer), Mike Christie (secretary), Chanitra Bishop, Bob Cummings, Richard Knipel, and Annie Lin. I only have limited time to post this morning but will come back later and link those names to their user pages. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:55, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
PJ suggested that we hold off on applications until we get feedback on the job description for the ED, and possibly revise it in the light of that feedback; we ought to have a stable job description before inviting applicants. That seems sensible to me. I will however post here how to apply when I have that information. In the meantime, please let us know how the job description could be improved. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:42, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, Mike. :) I'm excited to work for the WEF—I know we've been in a really weird limbo over the last year while trying to not make too many changes in the midst of figuring out who will coordinate the program. This is going to be a great opportunity to take all the feedback you guys have given and to continue getting feedback about ways we can improve the student experience when editing Wikipedia as well as the volunteer experience. Whenever there's an ED posting, after taking into account all of the feedback, we'll definitely want to reach out here to get the most qualified candidates for the role. Cheers to a fun road ahead. :) JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 19:42, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
Congratulations JMathewson! We need somebody who has knowledge of the WEP and can with the community support take this to the next level! I think that's what we all want. Crtew (talk) 04:06, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

WEF Program Manager job description

Reports to: Executive Director

Scope of work

The program manager is responsible for:

  • registering participating professors, classes, and Wikipedia Ambassadors;
  • recruiting, managing, supporting, and evaluating Wikipedia Ambassadors;
  • monitoring program activity to ensure that assignments run smoothly and successfully;
  • supporting the training of Wikipedia Ambassadors, including updating and maintaining online training, fostering communication between experienced and new Wikipedia ambassadors, and answering questions as needed;
  • helping to develop and execute ongoing evaluation of all facets of the education program, including student contributions, ambassador support, and professor participation;
  • addressing concerns raised by stakeholders;
  • developing partnerships with mission-aligned organizations and academic institutions;
  • working with the executive director to improve the self-sustainability, effectiveness, reach and diversity of the education program; and
  • managing public outreach and press inquiries.


The program manage will:

  • provide regular reports on progress toward goals, established in consultation with the executive director, for recruiting and on-boarding professors and ambassadors;
  • provide a monthly report to the executive director describing progress, changes, successes, and problems/challenges/concerns in the program; and
  • conduct annual program evaluation using metrics/goals established in consultation with the executive director.



  • experience coordinating and mentoring volunteers;
  • strong oral, written, and interpersonal communication skills;
  • demonstrated ability to work independently and meet deadlines with limited supervision;
  • experience editing Wikipedia.


  • experience with the Wikipedia Education Program;
  • ability to use SAS, Stata, Access, or similar programs to conduct basic data collection and analysis;
  • ability to use social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) to advance the mission of the WEF;
  • experience collaborating with many stakeholders with sometimes conflicting opinions to advance shared goals.


You say "preferred: experience with the Wikipedia Education Program". Could someone who is in charge of hiring for this position make a guess at how many people have enough experience to meet this qualification? Surely just passing experience or one term of experience is not significant, right? How many people exist in the world who have enough experience to matter? Of that population - how many might one guess to have analytics experience of the sort preferred? 50%? 5%? Thanks. Blue Rasberry (talk) 00:19, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

I doubt there are very many people with experience with the EP; that's partly why it's preferred, not required, though it's also true that it could be learned on the job more quickly than some of the required skills. The analytics skills, to me, are preferred not required because they're less central to the role -- it's important, but those skills could be acquired on the job or even, at a pinch, farmed out to someone else. That's not true of some of the requirements such as strong communications skills. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:59, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I see nothing about helping improving the quality of Wikipedia:Student assignments. Why is that? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 16:16, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
    I take it you mean improving the quality of student assignments, not of the linked article? If so, I'm not sure what you're driving it -- do you mean that improving the quality of what the students produce should be a goal? I think we have to settle for intermediate steps -- improving the resources we provide to professors and students. Obviously the better work the students produce, the better off the encyclopedia is, so I'm not disagreeing with the end goal. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:46, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
    I think a few bullets, including "monitoring program activity to ensure that assignments run smoothly and successfully" and "helping to develop and execute ongoing evaluation of all facets of the education program, including student contributions, ambassador support, and professor participation" capture this. Pjthepiano (talk) 04:22, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
  • And why is there nothing about working in tandem with the Wikipedia community, whether they are ambassadors or not? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 16:18, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
    Can you clarify? Obviously the PM has to work with the community: there will be communication back and forth. But a great deal of what the PM does is invisible to the community -- phone and email exchanges with the professors, answering inquiries, writing and reviewing resources. Do you have some wording you would like to suggest as part of the job description? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:46, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
    I would include the Wikipedia community among the stakeholders in the "addressing concerns raised by stakeholders" bullet. Pjthepiano (talk) 04:22, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Shouldn't it be part of the PM's job to help prevent and fix bad-quality student edits? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 22:44, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
    Depends what you mean, exactly. If working with professors to improve their assignments and course design towards best practices counts as prevention, then yes; but if you mean they should go in and fix the problems caused by each student, then no, for reasons given elsewhere on this page -- essentially, I don't think it's a sensible use of the relatively small amount of paid time we will have. Improving resources and improving professors' understanding of Wikipedia has a multiplier effect on future contributions; fixing one edit doesn't have a multiplier effect. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 22:53, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
    In my opinion, if Jami started making some corrective edits, it would have a multiplier effect within the community by creating good karma, fostering cohesiveness, and creating an atmosphere of teamwork. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:03, 1 November 2013 (UTC)

WEF Executive Director job description

Reports to: Board of Directors

Scope of work

The executive director is responsible for:

  • working closely with the board of directors to develop the organization's strategic plan;
  • directing the transition of operations from WMF to WEF;
  • overseeing the organization's annual operations, including implementation of annual plan;
  • providing strong fiscal management;
  • leading initiatives to engage stakeholders;
  • establishing with the board of directors annual fundraising goals and ensuring that those goals are met;
  • setting annual numeric goals with the program manager to ensure measurable programmatic expansion; and
  • overseeing the development of the organization’s key messages.


The executive director will:

  • work with the board of directors to develop both annual and short-term (three-year) strategic plans;
  • provide a monthly report to the WEF board of directors summarizing program activity and metrics as well as fundraising progress; and,
  • raise, with assistance from the board of directors, approximately $600,000 in the first year.



  • demonstrated record of fundraising success and possession of a network of donors who may be interested in WEF's work;
  • organizational skills, including ability to successfully design and develop projects and provide metrics-driven outcomes analysis;
  • management skills including budgeting, time management, goal setting, and human resources capabilities; and,
  • exceptional communication and presentation skills, both verbal and written.


  • advanced degree;
  • work experience (preferably as an instructor or administrator) in institution of higher education;
  • background in program evaluation, preferably in the field of education;
  • proven ability to find creative and effective solutions in situations with limited resources; and,
  • at least seven years of work experience in not-for-profit setting.

WEF ED comments

  • Where did the figure of $600,000 come from? And why? It's remarkably specific, given that everything else here remains so undetermined and vague. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 23:47, 21 October 2013 (UTC)
  • The $600k figure was determined based on several factors, including what is required to meet WEF's annual expenses, an estimate of additional funds needed to put it on sound financial footing, and an estimate, based on the recommendation of an expert, of what would be a reasonable amount for our organization to raise in its first year. Pjthepiano (talk) 02:25, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Your grant proposal bid lists your expenses as $147,570 for six months (most of which is salaries, a fact eloquently criticized by Mike Cline here). I take it you then quadrupled that figure by four to come up with $600k and so two years' worth of funding? Your grant proposal also dedicates $10k to fundraising, with the notion that you will hire a consultant to help--in addition to the Program Director, who is now (it seems) essentially going to be a full-time fundraiser. Have you hired a consultant yet, and has this indeed informed these calculations? --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 16:47, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Thanks for the reply, @Jbmurray:. As I noted on the grant talk page, it is not unusual or inappropriate for labor costs (staff salaries) to make up the bulk of the budget for an organization like ours. Our major output as an organization is staff support for the education program. It would be strange, I think, if at this point in the WEF's development the bulk of our costs were for something other than labor. In addition, as I've noted here and elsewhere, as the organization grows, we will be able to devote additional resources to other priorities and staff salaries as a percentage of the overall budget will fall. To your second point, your arithmetic is correct, but I think you've missed the point. We hope to improve the education program by doing, among other things, supporting more research, conducting more evaluations, expanding access to the program, improving instructional materials and course designs, supporting ambassadors, etc. All of these things take resources. I think it'd be a mistake to underinvest in the program and then turn around and wonder why it didn't do better. And to your final point, you are mixing up positions. The Program Manager (Jami) is solely focused on programmatic work. The Executive Director is focused on fundraising, strategic planning, etc. We have not yet hired a fundraising consultant. However, we have received input on these issues from both fundraisers at the WMF and independent consultants. Pjthepiano (talk) 04:01, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
Ah yes, it is indeed the Executive Director whom you see as mainly devoted to fundraising. Which makes things even more circular, as they're mainly raising funds for their own salary. It does all seem rather inefficient. (In my experience, by the way, which is in the Arts, it's the Board who are expected either to raise funds or to donate them themselves. The usual phrase for board members is "Give it, get it, or get off.") --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 13:24, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
It's actually a standard practice in the nonprofit world for the executive director to be heavily focused on fundraising. We do plan for the ED to be supported in his/her work by the Board; however, as I've said, we have been advised by numerous fundraising professionals that if we don't have an ED who can raise organization-sustaining amounts of money, we will fail. As you know, we have placed a great importance on having a Board that represents the interests of Wikipedians, academics, ambassadors, and others. The individuals that best represent each of those constituencies may or may not have access to (or have on their own) the money the WEF will need to survive. I think if we had said that WEF Board members needed to raise or donate $100k per year or be kicked off the Board, you'd be railing against us here on the ENB for only accepting wealthy people. I think if you look at how other organizations function, you'll find that what we are proposing is a standard practice in successful operations. Pjthepiano (talk) 22:38, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
Pjthepiano, enough of this talk of "rail[ing]." I'm merely pointing out my own experience with non-profits, and trying to get you guys to expand on what you have in mind. It's called communication! No need to bristle so. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 04:04, 26 October 2013 (UTC)
I apologize. I didn't mean to characterize your current talk as "railing." What I meant was that if we had set conditions (e.g. requiring them to donate or raise $100k) that would limit Board service only to wealthy people then you would be criticizing us for that also (appropriately, in my opinion). I'll admit I am frustrated by our discussion since we have already debated many of these issues (e.g. proportion of the budget going to labor costs) at length on this and other pages. Could we move on to new items? Pjthepiano (talk) 13:18, 26 October 2013 (UTC)
Well, I think that the topic has been discussed very little here. And elsewhere it was only discussed (and briefly at that) in the context of your grant proposal. Indeed, your model for how the WEF should operate in general has basically hardly been discussed at all. It's about time there were some discussion, shy though the WEF may be of such debates. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 20:19, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
I've no intention of being shy of such debates, though I probably haven't always responded to your comments as fully as I might. I'll have to plead pressure of time as at least a partial excuse. I would love to see such a discussion here; in fact LauraHale, below, asks related questions -- and by discussion I don't just mean that people ask questions and WEF board members respond: I mean that I'd like to see non-WEF-board-members engaging with each other and coming to consensus on these points. The more discussion on this topic the better, as far as I'm concerned. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:45, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
I'll add that the goal for the board has always been to be representative, rather than to be a fund-raising board, and I still think that's the right approach. The byelaws give us the option of four or five appointed seats in addition to the elected ones. These were conceived as a way to bring in expertise the board might be lacking -- financial controls, educational design, whatever -- but I think appointing people with fundraising abilities ("give" or "get", in jbm's terms) would be a good idea. There's also been a suggestion that we could have an advisory board which would be made up of prominent figures who would be able to help us fundraise; that hasn't been discussed much yet but I'm sure it will be. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:05, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
The problem here is that if the board aims to be representative, it's nowhere near that aim... and you admit it won't get close for some time. The current members are there out of WMF selection or self-selection, there has been no attempt to replace the various members who have left over the past year or so (except by putting in an ex-WMF staffer). Yet if you were to move towards a representative model, you might soothe some of your current problems. I don't see much reason why you don't make at least a gesture towards representativity now. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 20:19, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
What do you have in mind? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 22:48, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
Quite specifically, I have mentioned a) that you need to have some kind of links with the Educational Technologists. Among the names I've raised have been Jim Groom and Brian Lamb, but there are others; and b) someone who is prominent in Digital Humanities, and here I've specifically suggested Cathy Davidson. But you do need to figure out what this board is for. It's not even close to representative at the moment, and doesn't seem to have much other logic, either. It's a group of those chosen by or formerly employed by the WMF. And their track record has not always been good, as we know. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 23:45, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
The names you suggest could be candidates for appointed seats; there wasn't much discussion of them when you first suggested them, because we were nowhere near ready to talk about appointed board members, but I've passed the names along to the board again now. With luck the educational professionals on the board will know more about those disciplines and those names than I do. I think I do know what the board is for, and one of its jobs is to be representative; I agree it's not very representative so far -- we have members of the constituencies we want to represent, but they weren't chosen by a democratic process. What do you suggest to make the board more representative, prior to the elections? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:45, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
Mike Christie, maybe there could be an (at least partially) transparent process to make the board more representative? In what ways is it not representative, in your mind? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 13:38, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
It's not representative because the members were selected, not elected. There will be elections each summer, with a two year term, for the six elected seats; at that point I think the board will be fully representative. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:44, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
I'm not jbmurray, but he would be a good person to have on the board in an instructor slot. That would (COI) leave me a slot. ;-) User:Pharos seems to be more of a "Wikimedia Chapter" person than an "English Wikipedia" person, I would argue. So that might be a concern, but honestly, I don't know. Pharos could do a great job of representing the Wikipedia community and I wouldn't know it because I'm not privy to the board conversations. It doesn't appear they are very active on the education noticeboard, at least. That, to me, does raise a bit of concern. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 23:03, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
I have no special interest in serving on the board, at least as the organization is currently constituted. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 23:45, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
jbmurray, do you have any people you would like to see on the board? Or does anyone who is a current member concern you in any way? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 23:06, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
See above as to who I'd recommend. As to who concerns me: We know so little about most of the members of the board, who have barely interacted here, it's hard to say. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 23:45, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
Pjthepiano, I'm not sure how specific you want to get, but I'm curious what kind of evaluations you have in mind, what kind of support to ambassadors you imagine, and what you mean by expanding access. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:04, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
@Biosthmors: I think that's an important and productive question. When we spoke on Skype a few weeks ago, I emphasized how I think we need to have a discussion about what the appropriate metrics are for the program. Right now, however, we're operating on some tight deadlines trying to orchestrate the hand off from the WMF to the WEF so could we table that discussion for a bit? For now, if you could give us feedback on the ED and PM job descriptions that'd be great. Once we get some of these administrative things running smoothly, I agree that we need to turn our attention back to the issues you've raised. Pjthepiano (talk) 22:47, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Why would this position be more valuable to the movement than, say, the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation? Remember how the Chapters Association was told to go back to the drawing board when they proposed an ED position that paid half this much? And, absent some major external fundraising, how is the WEF in a position to offer to pay this much? This seems quite a bit of cart-before-the-horse. Risker (talk) 00:49, 22 October 2013 (UTC) NOTE: See below. Risker (talk) 03:41, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I think that reads "raise $600K [in donations]" not raise $600K for the ED salary! --Mike Cline (talk) 01:40, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Thanks for the question, @Risker:. I'm not sure I understand your question comparing the ED positions at the WMF and WEF. Could you elaborate on what you are asking? With regard to your second question, the ED will devote much of his/her time to "major external fundraising," at least at first. We have discussed this quite a bit with experts in this field and they have advised us that it is highly unlikely that we will be able to secure the amount of money we need to sustain the WEF long term without this ED position. And as Mike mentioned, the $600k is not the ED's compensation. As you'll see from our startup grant, we estimate that ED's salary will be about $85k, which is modest, but competitive for a small organization like ours. I hope that helps. Pjthepiano (talk) 02:18, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
I stand corrected, Pjthepiano. Seriously though, that's a huge chunk of change for a program whose metrics are pretty odd. Pages are pages, they're not x number of keystrokes. Risker (talk) 03:41, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
I agree that we can certainly have a discussion about what the appropriate metrics for the program are. I'm not sure I agree that the WEF budget should be smaller because the evaluation methods the WMF used are "odd." But I think your point is well taken - a full discussion about evaluation methods would be very fruitful. Pjthepiano (talk) 04:13, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • The feedback I have seen from inside the movement says that no more than 20% of I believe staff salaries should be spent on fundraising. Given the large number amount, what percentage of time does the WEF foresee this position to spend on fundraising? How have other Chapters/Thematic Organizations handled their initial employees? I can think of one chapter (not the WCA) that wanted their first employee to have this position first, and they got knocked down for it big time. --LauraHale (talk) 13:33, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I think a difficult thing here is that the WMF has a much larger avenue for fundraising (donations by many via millions of page views), whereas the WEF will need to foster some new relationships with grant-making organizations. I think the WEF board has been very realistic that this role will be a much higher percentage of the ED's overall job description in the early year(s)...hopefully not plural. :) Hopefully a great candidate will already have some of these relationships and the skills so that it does come out to be a smaller percentage of her/his salary. Also, you said "other" Thematic Organizations—the WEF actually withdrew its Thorg application but does intend to seek affiliation again down the line. Just to clarify. JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 20:12, 22 October 2013 (UTC)
  • @LauraHale:, I'm not sure where the 20 percent figure you cite comes from, but it's typical for the ED of a nonprofit to spend the majority of their time on fundraising. As much as we would like the ED to focus solely on programmatic work, the reality is that the program needs resources to be sustained. Pjthepiano (talk) 03:30, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
My apologies. I think I misunderstood something. In any case, the 20% number came from a presentation made by Asaf at Ibercoop conference in Mexico City last week or the week before. The 20% dealt with the whole organization, not just the ED position. After looking around for best practices information, I see that a number of ED descriptions place a lot of importance in the role of fundraising as a key basis for hiring them when an organization has small staff. (Though inside the movement, this appears to be handled differently. First employees don't often appear to be in a fundraising role, but doing things like GLAM or education or interns who do office paperwork. Amical Viquimedia has a staff person for their education programming, and Wikimedia UK does. The first as I understand it gets a lot of their money through government grants. The question when looking for an ED to bring in money then should be is the person going to seek these through grants or soliciting individuals? Either approach likely impacts on the organization in a big way.) --LauraHale (talk) 12:50, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply, LauraHale. I can't speak to the models of the organizations you've cited without knowing their particular financial situations. I do know that we won't be able to replicate the WMF model (few organizations can). When the WMF puts a campaign on WP, it gets seen by millions of people. We don't have that luxury. So our organization (both our Board and our ED) will have to spend more time raising money through other sources. Pjthepiano (talk) 16:29, 26 October 2013 (UTC)
Can you provide information on what organizations you are trying to model yours after? And what type of fundraising you are aiming to do? Will it be primarily through grants, either government or other sources? Or through a donation driven model where you seek donations from wealthy individuals? Or smaller donations from a larger pool of potential donors? I would think the type of funding you're seeking is going to end up being a major driver of the metrics you will be asked to provide, and will dictate the likely candidate you would get for ED. If you're looking for a grant based funding model, getting some one with experience getting large single donors seems less worthwhile. If you're seeking grants, then it seems like something the ED and the board should all have skills and knowledge in. --LauraHale (talk) 17:44, 26 October 2013 (UTC)
I expect most of our support will come from grants and large private donors. The former is the space where the ED will be mostly responsible for building relationships, developing grants, and securing funding. I see the latter as being a space where the Board can play a larger role. WEF is obviously a small organization so the Board is going to have to be heavily involved in many operational tasks, including raising money. However, we have been advised by several experts that we need an ED focused on fundraising if we have any hope of sustaining the program. Pjthepiano (talk) 22:00, 26 October 2013 (UTC)
Comments from Biosthmors
  • I strongly disagree with setting annual numeric goals with the program manager to ensure measurable programmatic expansion. I don't think the education program has its house in order yet. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:54, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
    • Perhaps "ensure" is too strong a word. For Spring 2014, for example, we are not looking to expand. Maybe we could say something like "determine numeric goals for expansion, if appropriate." I would also say that that individual bullet it not subordinate to any of the others that talk about improving the program, ensuring the classes are successful, etc. Each of these responsibilities needs to be balanced. Further, "programmatic expansion" doesn't only meet adding more professors or students. It could mean adding more ambassadors to support the same number of students, for example. Pjthepiano (talk) 04:45, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
  • There isn't even a bullet for having a working knowledge of Wikipedia as a preferred criterion? O my. Who was/were the author/authors? Was that point debated before it was left out? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:56, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
    The point came up; my recollection is that several people pointed out that any formal requirement for WP experience might cut too deeply into the pool of candidates. Of course a knowledge of Wikipedia would be an asset. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:45, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
    • I'll add that experience editing WP and knowledge of the education program are both required for the PM. I think the ED should have a different focus - primarily making sure the WEF gets the resources it needs to survive and establishing strategic direction. Pjthepiano (talk) 04:45, 31 October 2013 (UTC)
  • How long after the hire will the annual plan and strategic plan be developed? Where will it be published? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:57, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
    I don't know where it will be published but I'm sure it will be. There is no timeline yet. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:45, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
  • The text that says: "working closely with the board of directors to develop the organization's strategic plan". So how should I conceptualize the relationship between the ED and the board? Is the chair of the board the "real" boss? Is the ED the "real" boss? Is the consensus of the board the "real" boss? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 16:02, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
    This is more a question about how boards interact with the organizations they represent. The board can fire the ED; the ED can't fire the board. Does that answer your question? Within the board the chair is a position that the board can choose to change at will. The chair has whatever powers the board chooses to delegate, assuming the board has those powers to begin with. There's no iron template that we have to fit within. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:45, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
  • Does overseeing the development of the organization's key messages imply that the WEF already has key messages? What are those key messages? Do they reflect community consensus on Wikipedia? Or will I just start seeing (WEF) behind account names instead of (WMF) making spurious arguments and mischaracterizations of Wikipedian opinion? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 16:06, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
    I'd like to see discussion on this board help to shape those messages, especially the parts that concern those on this board the most -- for example, what message do professors who are interested in teaching with Wikipedia receive? If there's any message that the WEF supports that the WP community doesn't, I'd be alarmed. If there turns out to be a disconnect between what WEF board members say and what the community thinks, I would encourage the community to elect better (more representative) board members. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:45, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
  • I see absolutely nothing about helping insure the quality of Wikipedia:Student assignments per the results of Wikipedia:Education Working Group/RfC. Is this because the WEF thinks it is a bureaucracy that operates above the lowly level of Wikipedia community consensus? Or can the community consensus from the RfC that there are concerns are about the quality of the work done, the amount of time needed to monitor and correct mistakes, and the value for money of the programme please be incorporated into the job description of the ED? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 16:11, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
    As above I'll assume you mean improving the assignments, not the linked essay. Do you mean that the ED's job description should include this? My answer is partly the same as for the PM, but I would also say that the ED is, of necessity, going to be mostly a fund-raiser, so not mentioning student assignments is because they will be less involved with classes on a day-to-day basis than the PM. Also as above, I hope it's a given that we all want student work to improve. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:45, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
    I'll add that we have participated in these discussions, and many others, in good faith, honestly considering the issues raised by those with concerns about the program. I think you know that we don't consider the WEF to be a "bureaucracy that operates above the lowly level of Wikipedia community consensus." In fact, we've stated several times that in order to be successful, the program must operate within WP policies and practices. I hope we can debate the various issues associated with the program without resorting to mischaracterizations of our positions. Pjthepiano (talk) 04:45, 31 October 2013 (UTC)

Free online Wikipedia course to be offered starting in February

All -- please see my blog post at Creative Commons, announcing the Writing Wikipedia Articles course. I'll be teaching it starting in February, in conjunction with the University of Mississippi.

This offers a comprehensive introduction to Wikipedia. For any aspiring Ambassadors who are fairly new to Wikipedia, this is probably a great way to get up to speed; additionally, if any instructors would like to send their students to our class in preparation for Wikipedia work later in the semester, they would be most welcome as well! A former student of ours just reviewed the course on her blog, as well. -Pete (talk) 21:13, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

@Peteforsyth: Both of those are great suggestions!! I'll definitely let any aspiring Ambassadors know about this and highly recommend they take the course. Same goes for any professors aspiring to have the best students ever! Thanks for sharing, Pete! JMathewson (WMF) (talk) 21:57, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks @JMathewson (WMF):! -Pete (talk) 20:38, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
FYI, Pete, that ping didn't work. Best regards. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 06:24, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks! fixed now :) -Pete (talk) 00:20, 16 November 2013 (UTC)

AfC heads up

This is to let others know that "Articles for Creation", popularly known in the community as AfC, is "severely backlogged". There are about 2,000 articles in front of the new articles that all of my students have created and we are beginning to submit. I have personally never seen AfC this far behind. If AfC is part of your process, you may NOT get to closure if your semester ends in early December. I personally grade my students using my own rubric and then we watch the AfC process. Students do get satisfaction in seeing their work reviewed once it is explained that the Wikipedia assessment looks at articles from the view of long-term development rather than short term development time that we have. However, the important part of AfC for me is the independent, peer-reviewed check on our content and I take note of the assessments (even though it varies by reviewer) to check whether changes I've made in the process are objectively achieving better results. For me, none of that is time sensitive. So the backlog is really about the student experience. Hope that helps, Crtew (talk) 14:23, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

This is unfortunate. There are no guidelines in place for prioritizing students, though I hope that those can be developed in the future. If I were to propose a way to have a class get priority in this queue, I would suggest that each student in a class commit to review 3 AfCs. The students by doing this would learn the process which Wikipedians use, and after the students had done this (an estimated 5-10 minutes to learn what to do, then 5*3=15 minutes to review 3 articles) then the professor could tag on an AfC page that the class needs priority for the articles on their course page. I expect that the community would be grateful for this and give good reviews by the next day, and this could be a scaleable, sustained, and routinized model for classes.
A system to facilitate this is not in place. I am not sure what is to be done. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:26, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, Bluerasberry, but this is an a bad idea, and will never fly. It does not take 5-10 minutes to learn how to evaluate articles properly. It needs experienced editors. Also, formally accepting or rejecting an article requires the editor to install a script and if accepting, know how to move drafts into article space and then clean them up after the move. One of the huge problems with AfC was (and to some extent still is) inexperienced reviewers who are accepting wildly unsuitable articles and rejecting suitable ones, often because they don't have specialist subject knowledge, and often because they also have a very poor grasp of notability guidelines, especially those for specific subjects. See this RfC and the follow-up RfC (still in progress). Running an article through AfC just to get a peer review is a choice and I'm afraid it has to be balanced against the long wait involved. Voceditenore (talk) 16:13, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Per User:Voceditenore, Bluerasberry I am most disappointed to see you advocate for a failed system like the quid pro quo reviews at DYK. That you think students with little Wikipedia knowledge or experience should be reviewing other submissions at articles for creation is just ... alarming on every level. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:08, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
I reject your conclusion that the education program will forever have to tolerate the inefficiency of AfC - there will be better processes in the future. A lot of problems with AfC could be lessened with money and development if a project lead ever made proposals. My perspective would not be to blame and exclude newcomers, but rather to recognize that newcomers are not shunted by the system into the places where they can be useful. I disagree with you that newcomers can have no place in this process or that they need the skillset range you describe. I know the RfC. I am sure that you know that AfC is failing to recruit reviewers in sufficient numbers. The only target that either of us should accept is the recruitment of an abundance of competent reviewers, so I hope that we can both find some middleground between your exclusive demands and my permissive invitations. Blue Rasberry (talk) 16:49, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Don't shoot the messanger. :) I'm not even a member of that project. I was basing my answer on long observation—I help out at their help desk sometimes, and I look at drafts when the reviewers need advice on some specialist subjects. They're not my "demands". In fact, they're not anyone's "demands". The consensus is pretty strong that the reviewers need to be experienced editors. When I find a draft that should be in article space, I simply move it there and clean it up. I don't go through the rigamarole with the script. But if you're rejecting an article, then you need it. It's virtually impossible to do manually. When I'm asked for advice and see that the draft should be rejected, I simply leave a comment at the top of the article for one of the reviewers to consult. One of the problems is that AfC was originally designed for unregistered users to create articles and is highly recommended for articles by COI editors (although the vast majority of paid editors don't use it, for obvious reasons). It was not meant to be a place for editors to get peer reviews or some kind of guarantee that their article won't end up at AfD (which it isn't). In my view it shouldn't be used for that, and that's what's leading to the backlog. That and the fact that for a long time, anyone using the article wizard got shunted to AfC automatically without being given the option to put what they'd created directly into article space. I'm not sure how money would help. Are you suggesting that reviewers should be paid? Voceditenore (talk) 18:07, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
No, I do not want reviewers to be paid, but I do want the infrastructure around the processes further developed. For example, there could be some kind of system which identifies AfC submissions which have no references whatsoever, and then those could go into a queue in which untrained new editors perhaps from the education program process them by answering questions from a wizard which would result in applying some problems templates to the submission. Likewise, untrained students could also review submissions with multiple references to verify that the references exist. Something else could happen - if there is a labor pool of people using AfC then it would be ideal if they contributed back to the resource which they consumed. I am presuming that development could lead to this; I could be mistaken, but know people make proposals.
I disagree that AfC should not be used as a tool for preventing AfD - not everything which passes AfC would pass AfD, but anything which cannot pass AfC ought not pass AfD and I would rather the backlog be at AfC than AfD because I have more hopes of untrained editors contributing to AfC than AfD. Perhaps you know that people on this board dream of every student at every university contributing to Wikipedia at some point in their college experience, and if that ever comes to be, then there needs to be a place where new student articles are reviewed. AfC is the only existing model for industrializing this review process and I strongly suspect that the success of the education program would only lead to more student backlog at AfC. If you ever want to talk industrial design in Wikipedia processes then email me. I have no solutions to anything but I would like to support more conversations starting. Thanks. Blue Rasberry (talk) 19:57, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Jacobwc (talk)


Jacob Craig


The Florida State University

Course title and description

Writing, Editing, and Publishing Online (WEPO); Today, writers don't just inscribe words on paper. Students in this course will compose written, visual, and/or auditory texts, using a variety of technologies, all in the context of Bolter and Grusin's suggestion (in Remediation) that different media are always informing each other. Students will be expected to create texts (1) for the page (2) the screen, and (3) the network. Each text will also be edited in accord with its medium. This part of the course is designed to help students practice writing for the network. The course is a 2000 level course for FSU undergraduates. While I have some experience editing for Wikipedia and in Mediawiki more generally, I do not have support with the assignment. I do plan on using the Wikipedia course module. This will be last major project in the course, so we will have covered collaboration and coding generally.

Assignment plan

Students will first analyze Wikipedia and print articles for differences in texts based on the ways that print-based writing and this model of online writing make knowledge. Then, they will write or revise a Wikipedia article about a key term, a key concept, or a key figure from the course.

Number of students


Start and end dates

August 2014 - December 2014

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Jacobwc (talk) 22:05, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

  • For everyone's information, I've been emailing Jacob and we have a Skype appointment tomorrow. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:03, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
    • Scheduling conflict. The meeting didn't occur, FYI. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 11:54, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: AminMDMA


Amin Azzam



Course title and description

UCSF Medical School Elective as described here: Wikipedia:WikiProject_Medicine/UCSF_Elective_2013

Assignment plan

In pairs students will be editing articles in the top 100 of the WikiProject: Medicine scope of effort.

Number of students


Start and end dates

Nov 18 - Dec 13, 2013

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --AminMDMA 05:03, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

  • Haha, Amin, I think combining your degrees in your username might give some of your students a funny impression about your hobbies. I've gone ahead and given you the user right you need, see you on Tuesday. Kevin Gorman (talk) 05:34, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
    • Ha! I never even thought it meant anything other than MDMA but now I wonder if it is an intended double entendre. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 06:03, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
Actually it looks like Bios beat me to it, but either way you're set now. Kevin Gorman (talk) 05:34, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

I'm realizing that since the coursepage for this elective was created long before I did due diligence to joining the wikipedia education community, that the newly created infrastructure for aligning this course with others is not linked to the previously created coursepage. Surely there is some mechanism to retroactively assign the existing coursepage to be associated with the newly created course, right? Can someone teach me how to do this please? I'm assuming it is my responsibility as the course instructor rather than a task of the course ambassadors... AminMDMA 05:51, 15 November 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by AminMDMA (talkcontribs)

Hello AminMDMA. We can "Wikipedia:Transclude" the one into the other. I do this with User:Ituta/Course page by transcluding it into Education Program:Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies/Gender and International Affairs (Fall 2013). So, we just need to copy and paste {{Wikipedia:WikiProject_Medicine/UCSF_Elective_2013}} into the new structured course page. Best. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 06:00, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
And my apologies for the poor quality of the software. Thankfully, someone is working on that issue now. =) Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 06:07, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

The George Washington Encyclopedia student project

The George Washington digital encyclopedia is a project of a historical society and a university class that has students writing and publishing online articles dealing with Washington. It's close enough to the Wikipedia project to be worth looking at Adam Shprintzen, "The View from Mount Vernon" Digital Encyclopedias and Opportunities, especially the section on "Working with undergraduates" toward the end where student experiences are evaluated. Rjensen (talk) 17:31, 15 November 2013 (UTC)

Application for Campus Ambassador


Is there anybody out there who can help me? I started a project entitled E-translating the Wikipedia which is aimed at encouraging second year University students from the Universitat Jaume I to translate wikipedia articles from English into Spanish. It is not a proper course but a project within a course. I was wondering if I qualify to become and Campus Ambassador if so what is it I have to do. I will reply at the required questions:

Why do you want to be a Wikipedia Ambassador? To support faculty and students at my institution, Universitat Jaume I, especially regarding the E-translating Wikipedia project. I would also like to encourage other colleagues either to join us or to start other project/course at my institution. Where are you based, and which educational institution(s) do you plan to work with as a Campus Ambassador? Universitat Jaume I, Castellón Spain. What is your academic and/or professional background? Full Professor In three sentences or less, summarize your prior experience with Wikimedia projects. I have created two Wikipedia projects (one in the English Wikipedia and one with the Spanish Wikipedia, that are linked in order to encourage translation studies second Year students to translate in (almost) real conditions). Please see my user page --Mcptrad (talk) 13:51, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

Requiring students to use sandboxes 2

For the December 2012 proposal see Requiring students to use sandboxes.
I suggested last year that education-program students be required to write their assignments in sandboxes, then once they are graded, the students can choose to carry the work over into mainspace, at which point they'd be treated like any other editor. This would solve the problems we've seen on this page at one stroke.
It would mean plagiarism and other problems wouldn't affect articles. Sandboxes could be deleted on request by students, or by anyone else who finds copyright violations in them. Students wouldn't be forced to release their work and be publicly connected to it forever. The material would still be available to WP if the students gave express consent for that once the course had ended, at which point it would be carried over and checked in much more manageable chunks. Students who knew they had plagiarized wouldn't request this, so the deliberate-plagiarism problem would be solved. All this would take would be an RfC to ask for community consensus. SlimVirgin (talk) 15:03, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
@Slimvirgin – …that education-program students be required to write their assignments in sandboxes I would agree that drafting article work in a sandbox is indeed a very good “best practice”. I’ve handled all my personal WP work that way for 6 years. It is also a good way to get new editors familiar with WP editing without outside interference. On the other hand, it is just a “best practice”. If we require education-program students to do so, then we must require every “student” editor to do so, and by extension, every WP editor to do so. My biggest gripe with the WMF Education Program and the WEF to date is the lack of commitment to truly curate and make available to the very large education community, WP in the classroom best practices, resources and such. Wikipedia isn’t the place to do that because everything that’s ever been said or will be said on this board—useful or not—is essentially invisible and will remain so. So until the WMF and WEF choose to make “education program best practices” widely accessible in a curated way to the education community, we will continue to waste time trying to fix problems with solutions that won’t work and that won’t even be accessible to those who might benefit from the discussion. --Mike Cline (talk) 15:39, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
Mike, it doesn't make any sense to compare these students to regular editors. They're required to do this; others aren't. They're writing student essays; others aren't. They're being supervised and graded; others aren't. There's no point of comparison between the two groups.
But back to the point: sandbox editing would solve every single problem that is raised repeatedly on this page. There is no downside to it. Good material would be carried over into mainspace. Bad material wouldn't. Plagiarized material could be deleted. Material that the students wanted to distance themselves from could be deleted. Teachers wouldn't have the additional pressures that come with live publishing. It would be win-win. SlimVirgin (talk) 15:53, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
So a student editor choses to edit directly in the article space in direct violation of the "requirement" to edit in the sandbox before grading. The sudent's edits are otherwise perfectly in compliance with WP norms. Does this student get blocked, chastised, harrassed by editors on this board? What if 20% of the students in the class do the same thing? Does the whole class get blocked? Requiring a "special" class of editor to behave differently than other editors isn't a solution to the problem. --Mike Cline (talk) 16:22, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
This would be a very easy thing to arrange. Teachers registered with the education program would be asked to have their students edit in sandboxes. There would be no reason for students to ignore that instruction. If any did, that could be dealt with via the teacher, just as other problems are dealt with. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:36, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
+1 Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 17:20, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
I, too, very much like the sandbox idea. If we formalize it, I'd like to see the good contributions moved from sandboxes to mainspace before the class assignment ends, in order to provide positive feedback to those students who do things the right way, and maybe even get some of them interested in staying around. To speak specifically to Mike Cline's concerns, which strike me as reasonable, the solution is to do it just as SlimVirgin just described. In other words, it wouldn't be a policy violation just because an edit shows up in mainspace, and that makes all those concerns go away, insofar as I can see. Instead, we could make it a matter of expectations, as a guideline rather than a policy, for instructors who work through the program to set up class projects to utilize sandbox space. If that's how the project is set up, students will naturally do it that way. I think it really is a win-win. There will also continue to be classes that just show up and edit outside of the program. They would be treated similarly to other editors: given feedback about expectations and expected, over time, to learn to work with the community. --Tryptofish (talk) 18:58, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
@Tryptofish – The scenario you are describing is really a “best practice” not a “requirement” and there is significant difference between the two. If we accept that “Using Wikipedia in the classroom to achieve learning objectives” is the highest order goal, and that if we do that, any edits coming from that use probably improves participation, scope and quality of content in the encyclopedia, then language (and its intent) is important here.
* We (the community) require students to edit in the sandbox first (It doesn’t matter if that’s not the most effective method of achieving learning objectives, you must use the sandbox first, or else!.)
* We expect students to edit in the sandbox first (You’d better have a very good reason for not doing it.)
Symbol confirmed.svg * We suggest students edit in the sandbox first (There’s lot of experience that shows that editing in the Sandbox first get better results).
I would hope that the community will take a “best practices” approach to these issues and not the dictatorial, “our way or the highway” approach that some on this board are proposing. The “our way or the highway” approach won’t improve the encyclopedia, it will merely deter those who seek to improve it. --Mike Cline (talk) 00:28, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
The "my way or the highway" characterization reminds me of dictatorial instructors who force their students to edit without knowing anything about the website. This is the encyclopedia anyone can edit, not the encyclopedia you can force anyone to edit. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:45, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
Mike, I can't speak for "some on this board". Speaking for me, please note the difference between policies and guidelines. You are, correctly in my opinion, saying why a policy won't work here. Maybe "some on this board" need to be told that, but I'm talking about a guideline. As I said, we could make it a matter of expectations, as a guideline rather than a policy, for instructors who work through the education program to set up class projects to utilize sandbox space. That's what I'm saying. --Tryptofish (talk) 15:58, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
I've been following with interest the discussion on sandboxes. I used to always have my students work in sandboxes, and indeed would not let them put anything on Wikipedia before I approved the content. After discussion with various Wikipedians, I realized that this does not help students learn how the wiki collaborative process works. I now spend much time teaching about Wikipedia policies, how to avoid plagiarism, reviewing the potential topics and having them seek advice on talk and project pages about their proposed work from Wikipedians prior to any mainspace postings. The only students who now begin writing in the sandbox are those creating new articles, which I generally discourage and only approve in rare cases. Other students, after their initial learning and engagement with Wikipedians, begin writing in the mainspace, which I believe helps them better learn how the wiki process works. It's been a better learning experience for them, and there have been comparatively few problems. And when any issue arises, I seek advice, and use it as a learning experience to improve my assignments.DStrassmann (talk) 03:57, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

Sandboxes and other "best practices"

Starting a sub-discussion here since I didn't want it to get lost in the discussion above — but @Mike Cline: I'd love to draw you out more on your perception of a "lack of commitment to truly curate and make available to the very large education community, WP in the classroom best practices, resources and such", and on the discussion of sandboxes. I'm wondering if you are aware of the Education Portal, where education program leaders globally come together to share resources. The page I linked there contains all of the materials developed by education programs globally (educational efforts are underway in more than 60 countries). You might also want to review the online training, which you're welcome to make suggestions on. If you have better suggestions for ways to curate all the best practices we've accumulated, I'm very open to hearing them!

Specifically in regard to sandboxes: in our pilot program in the US, we had students work in sandboxes, and the overwhelming community response was that sandboxes were hindering students' abilities to collaborate with the general editing community. When students worked in sandboxes, they missed the opportunity to collaborate with and get feedback from other editors, so their articles sometimes took wrong directions; by the time they moved them to the article namespace, the structure didn't work, or it had too much of an essay-like tone, for example. If they'd had the chance to get feedback from other editors early in the process by working in the article namespace, they could have headed off the problems. I'll also share our experiences with the Wikipedia Education Program Brazil, which had students work exclusively in sandboxes: They found that some students were much less motivated to contribute good work because they didn't think anyone would ever read it, since it was in a sandbox. Never underestimate the power of "anyone could read this right now" to convince students to work harder! And because most students add content in the same month, the Ambassadors quickly became overwhelmed when they felt responsible for reviewing all of the student work to ensure it was "acceptable" to be moved into the Portuguese Wikipedia article namespace. The upshot is that months later, good quality content on topics not covered on the Portuguese Wikipedia is still sitting in sandboxes, and the students have absolutely zero motivation to ever edit, since they didn't actually experience Wikipedia editing; they just learned wiki syntax. Clearly, though, sandboxes aren't all bad; what we've come to decide is that we explain the pros and cons of each approach, and let the professor make an educated decision. You can see that advice reflected in the four-slide sandbox discussion in the professor training and the Sample Syllabus (note that this brochure, as well as the Instructor Basics, Case Studies, and Essentials brochures, are all physically snail-mailed to every professor before the start of the term). I am always open to suggestions for improving the information contained in these resources. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 19:13, 28 October 2013 (UTC)

Note that the on-wiki training includes sandbox advice for both students and instructors. Improvements or suggestions for improvement are most welcome. Here are the four slides that cover sandboxes:
--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 19:37, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
@LiAnna – I want to respond to your question by starting with four words – tactics, strategy (goals and learning objectives), knowledge base, and scalability. In this response, the concepts behind these words are all linked. I am going to start with scalability. Because we (the WMF and the community) remain hamstrung by the methods used to pilot the Education Program—personal recruitment of professors, campus ambassadors, etc.—we have lost sight of the true scope of the Education community we are trying to support. There are literally 1000s of instructors and 100,000s of students that would benefit from using Wikipedia in the classroom to further Information Fluency learning. The great majority of the Education Community that would benefit from using Wikipedia will never see that benefit under the current methodology. And those that do stumble into using WP without access to comprehensive best practices are likely to do more harm than good to the community and WP. The current methods just are not scalable and the resources that have been accumulated are essentially invisible to Education community, let alone of dubious usefulness. Try to find the Education Portal/Tips and Resources without using the specific URL or page title. You can’t. Even if you could, once you get there you find a pretty much random lump of documents in multiple languages with very little insight into what individual documents contain. Even if you begin to explore them if you’ve had the patience to do so, you essentially find marketing brochures. Although the accumulation of this material is laudable, it has essentially been a tactical response to “We need some resources” without much thought (strategy) as to what the purpose and goals of the resources were. It is obvious to me that the current state of the resources was merely a tactical approach predicated on the non-scalable methodology (and platform) used to pilot the program.
What’s needed in my opinion is a well curated knowledge base that is readily accessible by anyone interested in using Wikipedia in the classroom, functions pretty much autonomously from a technology standpoint and is easily supported by non-technical volunteers. In my ideal knowledge base, discipline specific lesson plans and course syllabi, learning objectives, case studies, best practices, tutorials, et al. would all be organized and visualized in ways that any instructor could immediately find the resources they were interested in. Resources would be rated or peer reviewed by the crowd so that instructors could evaluate whether or not other instructors found the resource useful. Everything in the knowledge base would be searchable, tagged and organized. Such a knowledge base on a public website accompanied by forums, discussion boards, blogs and volunteer resources would be very powerful in addressing the true scope of the Education Community (students and instructors) that should be benefiting from using Wikipedia in the classroom. WP and the community would benefit because of the much higher probability of classes using WP would be doing so under the guidance of best practices and proven resources.
I am confident that you and others on this board are now thinking that this is much too grandiose, too much work and probably too expensive. If we continue to believe that the only solution is to use the Media Wiki platform, then we best be thinking—this is impossible—as the platform and the community that it supports has too many technical, cultural and rule based barriers to overcome. Yet the solution is at the WEF’s finger tips if they would just chose to do it. Other than a domain name and server space (both very inexpensive), such a solution supported with a handful of volunteers is essentially free. World class web-based collaboration and knowledge base platforms, easily supported by non-technical volunteers are available and free to non-profits. A knowledge base like I describe could be organized and running in a matter of hours. All the good and not so good ideas that everyone is burying on this board and associated wikis could be made accessible to 1000s of instructors in very short order. Accompanied by some targeting marketing, WP best practices for using the encyclopedia in the classroom would be available to the entire Educational Community should its members choose to use them. So to your question about ideas to improve the current set of resources, they certainly can be improved (as almost any tactic can) but to what end. As long as the focus is trying to scale an essentially non-scalable methodology, unsupported by any long-term strategy to reach the entire Educational Community, such ideas to improve current tactics are pretty much a waste of time. The WEF has the charter to service the Educational Community and Wikipedia in this way, but at times it seems they have little appetite for taking this approach and would much rather spend $$ on expensive salaries to replicate non-scalable methodology. --Mike Cline (talk) 12:30, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
I read LiAnna's opening post with great interest, and I think that she makes some compelling points, that now cause me to re-think what I said above about wanting all student edits to be in sandboxes. In a way, I feel like it comes down to a balance between (1) the educational benefits of students working in our mainspace, and (2) the disruptive effects of mainspace student edits upon the established editing community. I don't want to unfairly minimize (1), and I ask that the rest of you not unfairly minimize (2). If we put our heads together, I hope we can figure out how best to balance those two priorities. --Tryptofish (talk) 14:30, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
I second Tryptofish on this. 1st question: what is the learning objective of class, 2nd question: How can we use WP to help achieve the learning objective. 3rd question: If editing WP helps achieve the objective, what's the best way--sandbox or no sandbox or ???? --Mike Cline (talk) 17:09, 29 October 2013 (UTC)
Mike (and apologies for my delay in response; I've been ill), I actually do not think your idea is grandiose at all; in fact, we had proposed something similar (an off-wiki education portal that contained course pages, automatically generated statistics on student contributions, a forum for participation among editors and professors, an online training structure that actually included knowledge tests throughout the modules to ensure people understood, and a searchable database of educational resources tagged by language, class size, discipline, weeks, etc.) in fall 2011, but we were told we as WMF needed to use MediaWiki instead; we were given developer time for the MediaWiki extension in response to our request. Clearly the MediaWiki extension doesn't address the larger issues we wanted to solve, such as the forum or the central database of resources, and our attempts to at least provide *something* (our current online trainings and list of resources) isn't ideal. In fact, one of my long-range hopes for WEF is that they will be able to create such a platform since they are not bound by the technical limitations we at WMF are. There's also a lot of support among the programs in other countries to create something like this, and we're talking to some of the chapters about hosting it as well. Creating a better database of resources is definitely on our strategic priorities list, and I'm hopeful that we'll see movement in this area in 2014. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 19:44, 30 October 2013 (UTC)
As a note for those unfamiliar with the internal workings of WMF: the reason that LiAnna's request was turned down probably wasn't that it was unreasonable or wasn't a good idea, but because tech ops has trouble maintaining more than a certain number of platforms with their available manpower. Even the WMF blog which runs on wordpress is something they're looking to outsource so that they don't have to maintain another CMS. Tech ops gets stretched super thin, so what might be an excellent idea for WEF might be unworkable for WMF. Kevin Gorman (talk) 22:30, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

What I found from this course is that on multiple occasions, students were working on writing new articles in the sandboxes but some patrol editors were a bit jumpy and moved the article into mainspace before the student felt that it's ready. When the instructor asked how to stop this, I couldn't think of a template that asks editors not to do these "courtesy" moves until the students are comfortable with their work. This kind of "courtesy" practice sends mixed message to the instructor and students when they are instructed to work on sandbox first. I would like to see, at the minimum, that a "do not move to mainspace until this tag is removed" template be created. OhanaUnitedTalk page 16:03, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Some stubs short articles don't need expanding

Some short articles that are marked as stubs don't need expanding. Some are fine right where they are. The WMF education program seems to assume there's something wrong with an article that is marked as a "stub". That's not necessarily true. It's a horrible assumption to make. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 17:24, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

  • Any stub that cannot be expanded shouldn't be marked as a stub. A stub is definitionally an article too short to provide more than a rudimentary context to the topic. Asides from that, I do not understand the purpose of this section being posted here. It doesn't seem to contain actionable feedback, a question, or really even a complaint. Kevin Gorman (talk) 21:41, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
Then we obviously need a new category in Wikipedia:V1.0#Statistics, wouldn't you agree? How about "ShortOK" with a new greenish color? In my opinion, it should be a big priority to change this damaging message that the Wikipedia:V1.0#Statistics rubric sends. No? To me it's obvious we need something better to work off of. I've mentioned this opinion to WhatamIdoing before. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:17, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
Unless all the education material has been changed, there is an "expand a stub" mantra. But the whole assumption set behind what is a "stub" is based on a flawed perception of the encyclopedia, in my opinion. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:18, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

What is appropriately classified as a stub depends on what material is available on the subject. This is an encyclopedic concern that goes far beyond the education program. As an example, MissingNo. would barely be considered above stub level in some fields, yet it is a featured article. If you see a stub that cannot be expanded, it is not a stub and you should feel free to remove the tag. Kevin Gorman (talk) 22:19, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

These are the 2 shortest FAs that I've stumbled across: Tropical Depression Ten (2005), Miss Meyers. Length is not a quality indicator. Stub is not a length indicator. –Quiddity (talk) 08:04, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
But Quiddity, wouldn't you agree that Wikipedia:V1.0#Statistics sends the wrong message? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:14, 6 November 2013 (UTC)
@Biosthmors: If there's an error, it would exist at the level of any mis-tagged article (ie, something that isn't a stub, being tagged as a stub), there is no "error" per se in the WP:V1 page.
If the problem is extensive, then Wikipedia:WikiProject Stub sorting would probably be the group to best address that. –Quiddity (talk) 02:16, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
Quiddity, according to Wikipedia:Training/For students/Sandbox edits for stubs, stubs are short articles. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 21:26, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
This slide has been resolved. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:22, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
I finally got back to the Notification email for this, and find it's all resolved! Hooray (occasionally) for hesitation. ;) –Quiddity (talk) 05:00, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Online Ambassador application: TheOriginalSoni


TheOriginalSoni (talk · contribs)

  1. Why do you want to be a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    Because i think this is a role that could use my services effectively, while being in my areas of interest.
  2. In three sentences or less, summarize your involvement with Wikimedia projects.
    I joined about a year back, and know all the basic Wiki policies well enough. I've been active towards helping newcomers on Wikipedia, and also on several WikiProjects and proposals. I'm also an OTRS volunteer.
  3. Please indicate a few articles to which you have made significant content contributions. (e.g. DYK, GA, FA, major revisions/expansions/copyedits).
    I don't consider article-writing my strong suit, but I think most of what I've done is under the "Pages I've improved" section at User:TheOriginalSoni/About
  4. How have you been involved with welcoming and helping new users on Wikipedia?
    I've been part of the Teahouse and am an active helper at the IRC help channel. I've also been alpha-testing WP:Snuggle to find more productive newcomers. Apart from that, if there is a newcomer who I think would do fine with some help, I actively help them learn the ropes around the encyclopedia.
  5. What do you see as the most important ways we could welcome newcomers or help new users become active contributors?
    I see Teahouse as an example to follow in helping a new users become active contributors. Having helped several newcomers, of which a handful did become active contributors, I believe that the easiest way to do so is to just provide them a friendly atmosphere, and offer a helping hand towards solving whatever problems they face.
  6. Have you had major conflicts with other editors? Blocks or bans? Involvement in arbitration? Feel free to offer context, if necessary.
    No conflicts that I'd consider major.
  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 generally try not to make time commitments because of potential unavailability with regard to college schedules, but I've been active for considerably more than 2 hours a week these past days; so I think I'll do just fine. I edit and check up on Wikipedia regularly.
  8. How would you make sure your students were not violating copyright laws?
    I'd make sure they know not to copy "Even a single sentence" from anywhere else
  9. If one of your students had an issue with copyright violation how would you resolve it?
    If they do not understand it, I'd explain it again. If caused had a copyright violation, I'll remove the text, and contact a mod to delete any images, and revision-delete the text if it's a major copyright violation.
  10. In your _own_ words describe what copyright violation is.
    Wikipedia, being licensed under CC-by-SA, cannot have any copyrighted materials, either wholly or partly. So we cannot allow anyone to add material that are non-free on Wikipedia.
  11. What else should we know about you that is relevant to being a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    I like helping others, as well as teaching.

Endorsements 2

(Two endorsements are needed for online ambassador approval.)

  • Comment. Thank you so much for posting TheOriginalSoni. This was going to be an easy endorse for me, until you said content building wasn't a strong-suit. Could you please elaborate, in your own words, upon the importance of secondary sources vs. primary sources? With that in mind, how do you view the appropriateness of the following article: Wikipedia talk:Articles for creation/Samer Hattar? My opinion is that we need online ambassadors who are well-versed in quality content curation, because that is the most contentious issue for the education program per the RfC (which is linked at the top of this page). Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 19:02, 10 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Biosthmors When I said content creation isn't my strong suit, I meant I don't do that a lot, not that I am unfamiliar with the rules pertaining to content creation. Maybe I should have clarified that. I think I do have sufficient experience regarding the policies to be able to help others, as I have been doing for quite a while now.
As for the sources, we almost never use primary sources for anything other than supporting "non-contentious simple facts" as anything other than that would be likely to fall under WP:OR or WP:SYNTH. Also the fact that primary sources are much weaker than secondary ones, which makes them unsuitable as references in almost all cases. In general I follow the rule-of-thumb of "The source must be atleast as strong(reliable and high quality) as the claim."
As for the AFC, I see almost all sources being primary, which is definitely not a good sign for the article. Sources 3 to 7 are directly articles/research published by the subject. The first source also appears to be written by the subject or someone related to them, as apparent from the second section. In either case, the event would be considered probably primary because he appears to be connected to it. 8 appears to be an article of some sort, but given the fact that it's not linking to anywhere where this actual article might be, and is on the John Hopkins University "news network" makes it unusable too. 9 seems to be fairly secondary from first glance, so that should be okay. Though I am still unsure of it's usage as a source, I think it should be usable. Once again 10 and 11 are from John Hopkins, so primary.
In short, the entire article is based on 10 primary sources, and one secondary source. While primary sources are usable for supporting facts, as may have been the case in some of them, we still require secondary sources to establish the notability of the article, something primary sources are absolutely not allowed for. In this context, it was a quickfail with a special focus on identifying secondary sources to improve it.
Hope that is satisfactory. Please feel free to ping me again for further clarifications 10:28, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Question 1) What is your opinion of news sources for medical content? What sort of references should students be using for medical content and what policy backs this up? 2) Is there a specific recommended order for the main headings of a disease related article? If so what is it and were does one find it? Thanks for the ping Brian. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 11:55, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
Doc James,
  • For medical context, we should always look for appropriate Secondary Sources that can be used as references. These would include reviews in medical journals and other such publications. Ordinary news sources, or popular press, would be unadvisable as a source, since they would generally tend to exaggerate the result, and tend to provide misleading information. At the same time, they provide for a sound starting place for writing the article, and if used carefully, can be a good source as a reference, depending on the relevant Wikipedia policies and common sense.
  • I hope these answers adequately satisfy your questions. Please ping me again for further clarification.
TheOriginalSoni (talk) 00:20, 16 November 2013 (UTC)

───────────────────────── Doc James, ping. TheOriginalSoni (talk) 23:46, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

Sounds mostly reasonable. I would say that popular press can be used for the social, cultural and historical aspects of diseases it should not be used for medical content ever. The popular press does not provide a "sound starting place" for writing an article and is not a good source as a ref. May lead you to a good source but most of the time leads to a poor source. Thought? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 23:53, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Can someone else endorse here? It's been 12 days. Thanks for commenting and questioning, everyone. Sorry TheOriginalSoni. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:40, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Doc James, yes. While I myself did not know the policy on this thoroughly, I found your opinion quite agreeable on the various other aspects of a disease. Also, a further look into the relevant policy showed that it was indeed the case - Conversely, the high-quality popular press can be a good source for social, biographical, current-affairs, and historical information in a medical article.
In my personal opinion, if any editor is currently in the process of writing a medical article, popular press can be a useful source to help understand the topic, and start off with a basic introduction. At the same time, a careful editor reading a particular statement from popular press on a medical article could locate relevant secondary sources relevant, and expand that statement into encyclopediac content that can be used in the article.
Also, there may be relevant sections of any article which could use some simpler words to explain the concept, rather than jargon which may not be always understandable to the reader. In that context, a popular press article on the same would be more helpful for the editor to explain the concept, provided it is correct and one can back it up with reliable sources.
TheOriginalSoni (talk) 17:05, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Question Earlier this year you removed large swathes of content from the Gloria Allred article. When your changes were reverted, you engaged in an edit war against three other editors to restore your preferred version. How important do you feel that compromise and WP:BRD are when dealing with new editors? Gobōnobō + c 18:27, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Looking back at my edits from 10 months ago, I agree that the initial reverts probably were not according to policy. I made a misjudgement, which led me to edit war with two editors (The third editor I reverted was more of a technical one, since their revert was based on a statement which was later confirmed to be not actual policy.) Later, I tried to resolve the issue by discussing it at the relevant locations, and backed off it turned out I was incorrect. Nevertheless, I must have been more careful, and less disruptive back then.
As for the question, WP:BRD is a sound policy that any editor making changes must follow. It provides a useful way to deal with a number of edit wars, and for good reason. At the same time, compromise is also effective in resolving disputes, but in retrospect, may not be the best way to go. This is because there could be a case where one of the parties was more correct, or even wholly correct; but compromising forced a solution that was midway between them. So while compromise is effective, I'd consider it an inferior option compared to (well-natured) discussion and consensus.
As for dealing with newer editors, we must be much more careful to explain the relevant policies too, and help them learn the ropes around the way things are done, so they do not face any difficulties when in a dispute. At a very basic level, a few policies and norms that I would suggest the first to a new editor possibly in a content dispute would be Verifiability, not truth, Comment on content, not on the contributor and Reliable sources must be strong enough to support the claim
TheOriginalSoni (talk) 22:43, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Question One of your user pages states that you are a "strong advocate of nuking" (WP:TNT). Students and other new editors sometimes add content to articles that doesn't seem to mesh with Wikipedia guidelines. When do you feel that it is appropriate to just revert changes made by those editors? Do you think it always necessary to engage editors on the talk page when you revert them? Gobōnobō + c 18:27, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
    The situation mentioned here is pretty subjective, in my opinion. It may depend on what is present in those articles. Basically, I am in favour of taking bold steps (as permitted by policy) to tidy up an article from extra information present there, as compared to smaller steps substantially. In my opinion, while the second method is more likely to give a balanced article, the former is more probable to actually get things done, and help clean up the article.
As for newer editors, the policy remains the same; though we ought to get a lot more careful when applying them, and to explain them the policies, wherever possible. There are several newer articles (made by newer editors) which contain information that isn't required (Like [[]] previously contained a list and description of all it's products). In such cases, I would generally prefer to remove all that is non-essential, and then opt for further discussion on the parts of the article that are in the grey area.
Ideally, when we're reverting editors, we should leave a message on the talk page, explaining our rationale. However, I do recall an instance or two of the same being done using edit summaries, but I am not sure if that is standard practise.
TheOriginalSoni (talk) 11:47, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Question Your answers above about using the popular press to source medical content are unclear to me; you seem to be saying it is allright to use the popular press for medical sourcing other than occasionally for historical, social or cultural aspects. Please clarify your stance on sourcing health and medical content to the laypress. Also, do you know how to (at least preliminarily, most of the time) determine if a medical journal source indexed in PubMed is a primary or secondary source? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:43, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
    SandyGeorgia, Hi. I meant to say that for medical sources, the laypress may be used for a basic introduction of the topic, where the same may not be available in simpler words in other reliable sources. That is, of course, dependant on whether the laypress is accurate in their coverage of the topic (As other more reliable sources would be able to confirm). If there is something I seem to be missing or if I'm incorrect, please do inform me.
First, I must state that I personally have not seen PubMed until now, nor do I have a detailed experience in medical topics. But the guideline seems pretty clear on what a primary source is, and I think I would be able to manage it reasonably well. If the authors of the research were directly involved in experimentation or otherwise participated in the research, it would be considered primary. However, if they discussed and/or summarised the primary (or even other secondary) sources, they would be considered as secondary sources.
TheOriginalSoni (talk) 11:47, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
thanks for pinging me because I have unwatched this board. Your understanding of MEDRS may be complete and correct, but that is not yet clear (enough) to me (not because you have been unclear, but because this is such a big problem that I want to be doubly sure it is absolutely clear). It is important that you know how to determine if a journal report is a case report, a controlled study, a letter to the editor, any number of other non-MEDRS cases, or a secondary review (sometimes even an article marked in PubMed as a review is only a partial review). One problem we are having is that students think it is OK to cite medical information to studies and case reports, and that they do not list PMIDs in their citations, which means we have to go look up every source in PubMed. Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2008-06-30/Dispatches may be helpful to you in understanding how to apply MEDRS, how to read PubMed, how to search PubMed for recent secondary reviews, and how to use a PMID in a citation. It is important to understand that, even in the limited cases where we can/do cite to the laypress, the need to do so is rare, because often content that is not already covered in secondary reviews is UNDUE. If you need more info, please ping me on user talk, as I have disengaged from this board. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:15, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
For medical content I would say the popular press is okay for the non medical aspects or an article but should rarely if ever be used for the medical aspects. Usually all medical aspects can be supported by high quality secondary sources and if they cannot than one should seriously consider them suspect.
I have concerns about common sense. For many common sense is that cough medications work in kids. The best available evidence however finds no evidence for a benefit and some potential concerns for harm. We thus should say the later rather than the former.
Agree with Sandy regarding the importance of formating around the PMID as explained at WP:MEDHOW. This makes it way easier for the regulars to check a students work. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 04:00, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Thank you a lot for both your comments. Having not been experienced in medical articles, I came to know that in practise, one should not use laypress for the medical stuff, and the theoretical possiblity of the laypress being "permissible with caution" should be discarded to avoid complicating it. I'll go through and reply the rest of your comments when I have more time to spare. Thanks TheOriginalSoni (talk) 12:29, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Endorse. Seems like a solid and sensible editor, and they've put themselves through some sharp questioning with an admirable attitude.--ragesoss (talk) 17:44, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Endorse Thanks for putting up with us :-) This use of sources is tricky. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 05:07, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

I will soon, likely, be accepting a paid Wikipedian-in-residency dealing with the use of WP in higher ed

Hi all - the contract isn't actually inked yet, but it's looking very likely that I will be appointed Wikipedian-in-Residence at UC Berkeley's American Cultures Community Engaged Scholarship program. I figured that once it looked like a go, I should probably drop a note here. ACES is a program that focuses on under-represented disciplines, so most classes I work with will be coming from underrepresented disciplines. I intend to work much more in depth with these classes than is typical of a CA, including far more patrolling of their on-wiki contributions than I've done before. I'll also have significant influence on the instructional design of assignments, etc. Once the contract is actually inked, more details will be forthcoming about what I'll be doing, and I'll have a statement of potential COI on my userpage, etc. I would be happy to answer any questions, concerns, etc, although since I haven't officially started yet, some answers may need to wait a bit. Kevin Gorman (talk) 22:51, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Congrats, Kevin. --Another Believer (Talk) 22:55, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
Fantastic! Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:04, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
I know Kevin to be a suitable candidate for serving in this role and think that all stakeholders would benefit if this position for him came to be. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:21, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

... lol. I was honestly kind of expecting a bunch of negative responses at the idea of me taking a paid position that will deal partly with ambassador type stuff. This has gotten far enough that unless a meteor falls from the sky, it'll happen. It won't be full time (and I'll be doing stuff other than education program stuff as well,) but will be enough time that I'll be able to much more intensely support several classes than is typical. I've also gotten some time set aside to focus on producing reusable materials related to the education program, which I'm excited about. Thanks all :) Kevin Gorman (talk) 19:36, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Well let me know if you want me to come up with some bogus argument against paid editing, but haven't we seen enough of that from WP:the community lately? Best wishes. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 06:14, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
A Wikipedian in Residence who assists the education program be implemented in a school would be most welcome. I wish that there were dedicated Wikipedia staff at every university. This seems like the least controversial of appointments, and if anyone opposed this it all, I would imagine that they had opposition to the education program practices and not that paid staff at a university was helping things to go more smoothly. Blue Rasberry (talk) 12:04, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
The WiR idea is a great move forward and I suspect in 10 years most major academic institutions, especially on the library side will have Wikipedia experts on their staffs. They will be paid to promote and support the use of WP in achieving the aims of the university (a lot more than just educating students here). Whether they are experienced wikipedia editors or not, they will be wielding a lot of influence over Wikipedia in the future. Kevin, you will be part of the beginning of something big in the world of information literacy education and the expansion of free knowledge. Good Luck. --Mike Cline (talk) 13:26, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
Mike Cline, the WiR idea is fairly sucky, in my opinion, but it would be infinitely better if people actually edited content or project talk pages. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 11:57, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Enstandrew (talk)


Andrew Stuhl


Bucknell University

Course title and description

History of Ecology. This course covers the development of ecology as a professional science, from its roots in natural history collecting to modern day global resilience ecology. This is a 200 level class and the current enrollment information shows students from across various majors (Management, Biology, Political Science, Environmental Studies) and years (Soph to Senior). Wikipedia fits into the learning goals for this course in two major ways. First, the history of ecology is a study of the ways humans have created knowledge about nature. In a similar vein, working on Wikipedia articles allows students first-hand experience in creating knowledge today, within a community of practitioners dedicated to rigorous, verifiable information. Second, the content area of these Wikipedia articles will overlap and complement our investigation of ecology's main figures, episodes, places, and patterns.

Assignment plan

I have yet to identify the articles we will be working on, but I hope to find start/stub articles. Students will work in groups of 3 or 4 to add content to these articles, following the Wikipedia guidelines. I like the structure of the sample syllabus in terms of scaffolding assignments and working through course milestones. I also appreciate the peer review and presentation components.

Number of students


Start and end dates

Jan 15, 2013 to April 29, 2013

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Enstandrew (talk) 15:16, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

  • Granted. I'm happy to help as an Online Ambassador for this course.--ragesoss (talk) 15:46, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

Request for Course Instructor Right


My name is Brent Purkaple and I am a teaching assistant for Dr. Kerry Magruder at the University of Oklahoma in the History of Science Department. I am also an associate teaching assistant in Dr. John Stewart's 3013 History of Science from Antiquity to Newton during this current semester, which is making use of the Wikipedia education program. In the Spring I will be helping Dr. Magruder teach an online version of 3013 History of Science from Antiquity to Newton. He has requested I contact you in order to see about setting up a course page on Wikipedia. After following Dr. Stewart's courses this past Spring, as well as the one this Fall, he has decided to incorporate this into his class.

I appreciate any help!

Sincerely, Brent Purkaple


University of Oklahoma

Course title and description

History of Science from Antiquity to Newton. This course will be an online survey course, covering the major themes and objects.

Assignment plan

Students will be requested to choose individually articles to edit within the time frame we are studying, Antiquity to Newton. They will then work through a series of stages to edit the articles according to Wikipedia guidelines. At the completion of the assignments they will also go through a peer review process among the classmates. Thus, in many ways it will be modeled on Dr. Stewart's class structure.

Number of students

Still to be determined

Start and end dates

Jan 13, 2014 to May 9, 2014

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Purkaple (talkcontribs) 21:10, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

I want to recommend Brent (and Kerry) for Instructor status. Kerry is an professor at the University of Oklahoma with extensive experience teaching both in the classroom and online and is developing wonderful multimedia resources for his courses. Brent has done well in my current class and has helped with several Wikipedia student projects. I am helping them set up their Education Program Course along similar lines to the two courses that I have successfully run. I don't foresee any problems in the development or oversight of the course. Kirwanfan (talk) 16:16, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Granted. Kirwanfan and/or Purkaple, please ask Kerry to set up an account as well if he doesn't have one. Even if he's not going to be managing the course page directly, it's important to have a way for other editors to reach him in case there are problems that crop up during the course. I'm happy to help.--ragesoss (talk) 15:53, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

ragesoss Sage, many thanks! I definitely plan to be very much directly involved. :) Looking forward to it. May I be added as an instructor? My username is Kerry Magruder. Peace, Kerry

Forestry and ecology articles?

Japanese afforestation, Salmon in the Pacific Northwest/SE Alaska temperate rainforests, Examples of Refugia in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres have recently showed up in the InceptionBot new article reports. They look like student essays. Sources look reasonable (I haven't tried to check for plagiarism/copyvio), but the topics are quite narrow and they're likely to wind up merged into another article. I think I can guess the affiliation of the class, but before I startle the instructor, does anyone have knowledge of the project? They don't appear to be part of the Education Program. Choess (talk) 03:03, 16 November 2013 (UTC)

I see three red-linked editor talk pages. No welcome, no template querying if they are part of a course or pointing them to resources, asking who the instructor might be, or any of the good sorts of things this page should be/could be dealing with. Do we even have a template for querying whether new editors are part of a course, welcoming them, suggesting pages they might read to aid in their editing, suggesting instructor rights, etc? That would be helpful; I have encountered multiple similar situations, where it would be helpful if I had some kind of template to try to get the students to at least engage on talk. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:33, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
User:Klortho worked on a template lately. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 11:49, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
They were dropped into mainspace on what (according to what I believe is the course page) was the final due date for the assignment, so I didn't really see the point in engaging a dump-and-run. My question is, if I connect the professor with the EP, will they try to steer the next iteration of the class to more useful topics, or will they encourage more of the same? From the conversation over on the student assignments page, it's clear that they understand there are many ways to contribute beyond students-write-essay-and-file-as-article, but I'm not sure if there's the will to push professors away from that. Choess (talk) 23:47, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

Local history projects

The WEF can provide education services outside the university setting. One possibility is to work with state and local historical societies, and libraries, to train interested local volunteers in the ways of Wikipedia. The WEF staff and ambassadors can play central roles, instead of roles as helpers to professors running a university course. The technical issues of writing a Wikipedia article could be covered in a short workshop, and followup help can come from online ambassadors. These target audience could be people with a strong interest in local history and the time to devote to research and writing articles. There are thousands of these local historical societies across United States and Canada. They collect reliable secondary sources that are well known to the staff librarians and archivists. Funding is available through state sources such as the state Humanities Councils and the state Arts Councils, private historical societies, and local philanthropists. The target audience would be community people with a permanent interest in local history – unlike students, they are not here this semester and gone the next. Wikipedia has articles on every town and city in the US and Canada, but they tend to be weak on historical material and, indeed, seem to consist mostly of downloaded copies of statistical data regarding population and climate. Upgrading the quality would significantly enhance the visibility and usefulness of Wikipedia locally. The upgraded articles can be used by students who (under the direction of middle and high school teachers) work on projects such as History Day exhibits regarding local history. (Over 100,000 students a year complete History Day projects; WEF can help them understand and use Wikipedia.) Rjensen (talk) 08:36, 16 November 2013 (UTC)

@Rjensen: This is interesting. I also thought a few years back that an interesting group of people to work with when it comes to the opportunity to convert to long-term editors are the students in Academic Decathlon. This sounds like the type of group that's a good fit for Wikipedia and has a lot of overlap to GLAM (who has a lot of great support resources already). The WEF hasn't had the chance to talk about alternate "education" ideas past that first meeting in DC (that you attended), but it's definitely interesting to think about down the line. I do think we still need to work to improve and "streamline" our current best practices of teaching with Wikipedia before expanding to an entirely new group for which we have no history/data as a basis. I also know there are a few teams at WMF who have been working to evaluate events like edit-a-thons, so taking a look at those results would be really important before expanding our scope. Perhaps this is the type of idea we can table until further down the line. What do you think? Jami (Wiki Ed) (talk) 00:53, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
The clock is ticking on the WMF grant to the WEF and it's time to get some new projects rolling. WEF, in my opinion, should immediately set up multiple task forces to get started on multiple jobs simultaneously. As for the local history projects, the infrastructure is in place and there are tens of thousands of people who (in my opinion) are now outside Wikipedia & who would be interested in joining up if WEF provided the basic training. Rjensen (talk) 13:07, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

Students finding plagiarism

I almost hesitate to post this, since I don't want to be accused of mindlessly promoting the education program, but I had some positive news over the last couple of days that I thought was worth passing on. Three students in the class I'm currently working with have found plagiarism in the articles they're working on. I've been sent details and will investigate over the next few days, but I'm glad to see that the emphasis the professor has placed on understanding and avoiding plagiarism is paying off. I'll report back here when I have the details (it might be a few days, since I have house guests arriving shortly), but I also heard from the professor that they're planning to give the students small prizes for finding plagiarism. Seems like an good idea to me, and might be worth suggesting to other instructors. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:06, 16 November 2013 (UTC)

That's very good news, Mike; in fact, such an endeavor seems like a much better use of student labor than expecting them to build articles, and something these programs might encourage. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:26, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Just checked the first one, and it is indeed plagiarism. The article is Migration in China; see User talk:Netl0xp and User talk:Hadoooookin#Migration in China for details and links. I've removed the material. It had been there since late 2007; neither of the editors who added the material has been active for many years. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:29, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
That (2007) is not surprising. Remember, the plagiarism dispatch was written in 2009, and the first real plagiarism scandal that called attention to the extent of the problem was in October 2010. Before the Dispatch was written in 2009, we had widespread misunderstanding about Fair Use, plagiarism, and copyvio to the extent that we had entire FAs in the geology realm that were straight cut-and-paste from public domain sources. Many people honestly believe, as in the biomedical plagiarism case uncovered this week, that Fair Use covers them. That there is rampant plagiarism and copyvio yet to be discovered on Wikipedia should be no surprise to anyone (and particularly not the WMF, who fought SOPA hard because they probably knew how bad the problem was). Not only is this one of the best ways we could make use of student editors-- they could learn from the experience, we could benefit, and WMF would have to face up to how widespread the problem is (rather than deny it with flawed studies). I hope your efforts are successful. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:47, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Out of time to check the others tonight, but I should have given credit to GavinCross, the student who found the plagiarism. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 02:54, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
Mike, I'm someone who tries very hard to see both sides of the discussions on this noticeboard, and consequently I am often outspoken in criticism of class projects, but in this case, I want to go on record expressing my great happiness with what you have reported here. I think it's splendid! --Tryptofish (talk) 18:11, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Sandbox problems

Mike, I hope you'll be sharing the course page with us, and more specifically, letting us know what was done right to get the students to actually engage the existing text in the article. I have never, I repeat never, had that experience with a student. They drop in brand new, poorly written text with no regard to or examination of what was there when they started, so I am most curious to know how this course was structured, and what can be done to encourage more of same, and discourage more of what I'm seeing. In fact, I'm not so sure this sandbox business is working out very well, because students go off and work in isolation, and then drop in a whole term's work that just has to be reverted, but never engage the way this GavinCross has. (See section below of what my experience is like.) SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:04, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
+1 and I'd add that if competent ambassadors or professors who were willing to editorially defend the material had to give clearance to move things out of the sandboxes then we might have a better system (per the WT:ASSIGN discussion and the ethical argument I make on my user page). I think instructors should be taking the lead. And if not them, then competent ambassadors. How many competent content-creating ambassadors do we have who are active in the English language education program? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 11:53, 17 November 2013 (UTC)
SandyGeorgia, that type of sandbox dump-and-run is exactly why I will no longer work with classes that use sandboxes to form new articles and/or especially new versions of existing articles. If students using sandboxes is made mandatory like it was discussed somewhere earlier on this noticeboard, I'm outtie. It's a waste of everybody's time and I'm bloody sick of it. --Geniac (talk) 01:55, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
Geniac, if the sandboxes are used to fix mistakes so that when the dump occurs, there's no reason to run, then that would be good for everyone, wouldn't it? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 09:52, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
Biosthmors, I don't know what you mean, but that's not what I mean. By dump-and-run, I mean when a student will work away on their sandbox version of an article, then on the last day of class, dump it into article space, overwriting perfectly good existing material, then disappear, never to show up again because class is done. When I have suggested changes to a student sandbox, it is often met with non-response or resistance. --Geniac (talk) 12:30, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry I wasn't more clear, Geniac. I want to prevent dump-and-run. You might find Wikipedia_talk:ASSIGN#Responsibility to be more clear, as it's where people are discussing the outline of a potential guideline to prevent such damaging edits, which are done under compulsion. Best. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:40, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes, Geniac, sandbox editing by students is possibly creating more problems-- or at least the same amount of but different problems-- than article editing by students. Please see my samples and discussion in the next section. What appears to be different in this isolated case of a student finding plagiarism is that this student is actually engaging pre-existing text in the article, which in my experience, is quite far from the norm. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:13, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
Sandy, the course page you requested is Poverty, Justice, Human Capabilities Section 1 (Fall 2013), with another section taught by a different instructor using the same plan Poverty, Justice, Human Capabilities Section 2 (Fall 2013). I'll ask the professor what she did in the course design to get this outcome -- students finding plagiarism, rather than being guilty of it. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:21, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Second example

Plagiarism in the slum article, found by student Feihuamengxue, in the same class as above. Details are here. Several more examples that she found turned out to be stolen from Wikipedia in the first place, so I didn't remove them. One of them is attributed to a professor in India. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:25, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Third example

Plagiarism in medical experimentation in Africa, found by student Jakejohnston1, in the same class as the two students above. Details are here. Added in 2010. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:01, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Encouraging students to notice and report plagiarism

I spent substantial time in my classes this semester teaching students about plagiarism and referencing more generally, and have been interested to discover that a key outcome has been three students detecting and reporting plagiarism they have found in the articles they are editing (as reported above by our online ambassador Mike Christie). Most students are conscientious contributors and want to do a good job, but can be shy about critiquing work that is already there. A boost of encouragement and the support of a great online ambassador makes a big difference. I've reinforced their efforts by encouraging others in the two classes to be on the lookout for the same. Have purchased some Wikipedia water bottles that I'm offering as a reward, as well as extra credit. DStrassmann (talk) 01:32, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Request for course instructor right: Humphrey.Southall (talk)


Humphrey Southall (Humphrey.Southall)


University of Portsmouth, UK.

Course title and description

Applied Human Geography – The course introduces first year undergraduates to the processes of independent research, including exposing their work to a process of open review.

Assignment plan

Each sudent is assigned an existing stub article about a different British village, and is required to expand it up to c.1,0000 words (formally: not more than four sides of A4 paper when printed using Wikipedia default settings). We work only with articles that have not been edited, other than by bots, for at least 12 months. The villages we use are all also Civil Parishes, so we can be sure there are a variety of only sources they can use, notably recent and historical census data.

Number of students

About fifty

Start and end dates

January-May 2014

@OhanaUnited, Neelix, Ktr101, Pharos, and Pongr: @Sleuthwood, Etlib, Daniel Simanek, Biosthmors, and Kayz911: @DStrassmann, Rjensen, Bluerasberry, and Kevin Gorman: --Garcia-FM 02:26, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

Return to the Course pages module.

How many words? How familiar are you with Wikipedia? How do you know these expansions are desired for Wikipedia's purposes? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 17:21, 4 November 2013 (UTC)
I'm re-adding this to the board, since it got archived and I'm guessing that Humphrey.Southall did not know about the question from Biosthmors.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:30, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
My work with this course was presented at the recent EduWiki 2013 meeting in Cardiff UK, has been extensively discussed with Tony Sant, the Wikimedia UK education coordinator, and is one of the case studies being used in a forthcoming Wikimedia UK education publication. We are very careful to work only with stub articles which have not been added to for at least a year. I am reasonably familiar with the procedures for editing articles, but completely baffled by the procedures for acquiring "course instructor" rights. Still not sure what exactly you mean by "desired for Wikipedia's purposes", but hope this will do; and I certainly need those rights to run the course properly, now I know they exist. --Humphrey.Southall (talk) 15:22, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks! The procedure for getting the course instructor rights is normally that an instructor adds a request to this page near the end training for educators (as you did), and then someone takes a look at your plans (to try to prevent some of the common missteps in Wikipedia assignment design) and if they seem reasonable, then someone with admin or course coordinator rights add the instructor right to your account. Unfortunately, your request slipped through the cracks. We set up the request system for posting to this noticeboard, because it's pretty active and there are a lot of people watching it. But perhaps because it's been so active with other issues lately (and I think the high volume of edits causes many to tune out), it's not working as intended. Another complication is that the request process is set up to ping the course coordinators who are Regional Ambassadors for the US/Canada programs, but there aren't (yet, at least) any designated course coordinators for handling requests from other countries. I'm going to try to rethink the rights request procedure soon, to make it a little more user friendly, easier to understand, and less prone to failure. (Regarding the "desired for Wikipedia's purposes" bit, I think Biosthmors was referring to the idea he's been promoting that "stub" doesn't mean "needs to be expanded", and you got caught in that cross-fire a bit. By contrast, needing expansion is normally considered the defining attribute of a stub.)
Someone want to give this request another look and grant the instructor right?--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 19:51, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
Sage Ross (WMF), that's not my current position. The problem is in the training materials. As I note above, Wikipedia:Training/For students/Sandbox edits for stubs falsely equates stub with length—and that's false per Quiddity. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:55, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Sage. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 14:31, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Kansas State University ENGL 340

Ceoil Sadads Victoriaearle JMathewson (WMF)

Will someone please deal with the issues occurring with this course; see discussion here. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:54, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

  • And see here. There are important issues raised in this thoughtful discussion. I would have thought that these are precisely the kinds of discussions that WEF Board members would weigh in on. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 18:39, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

"the WEF can't be a labour force to deal with these issues"

Above, it is stated that "the WEF can't be a labour force to deal with these issues". Why is that? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:10, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

The WEF will have paid staff, and using their time to directly fix the problems in articles by editing them isn't as good a use of paid time as going out to find and fix the problem classes by meeting with and educating faculty. Partly it's the multiplier effect -- fixing the problem at source is more cost-effective than cleaning up the symptoms without preventing more problems from arising; and partly it's the fact that an institution with a paid staff and a budget can do things that individual volunteers can't do, such as coordinate resources to try to improve professors' understanding of Wikipedia. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:56, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Mike, I agree with these sentiments. But there are two problems: 1) Virtually nobody on the WEF board seems to show any interest in discussing these issues at any level, which I find increasingly shocking. 2) While the WEF shouldn't be dealing with the grunt work directly, it obviously has a responsibility (a "duty of care," as User:DStrassmann put it the other day) to ensure that it is done and/or that it doesn't need to be done. Issues will always arise, even with the best-managed program, and the WEF needs to have a way of responding to them, and of being seen to respond to them and to take them seriously. I honestly don't understand why the WEF board doesn't realize that there's a growing crisis here. Albeit one that could be fixed with a little bit of effort. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 18:33, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
I know you would prefer that the WEF board engaged more here, and I'm sorry we disagree about that. It doesn't mean that there's no discussion or no recognition of these issues.
There's a distinction I see between the US/Canada EP and the WEF that I'm not sure, from your post, that you agree with. I see the US/Canada EP as a Wikipedia community program; it doesn't belong to the WEF, and the WEF doesn't run it. If the Wikipedia community decides to shut down the EP completely, and ban all student editing, the WEF will have no way to stop it beyond individual WEF members commenting in the relevant discussions. I helped create the WEF because as an individual editor who saw potential in the EP I wanted an external partner who could do things to make the EP run more smoothly -- train instructors, curate resources, and so forth. When you say that the WEF needs to respond to these issues, do you mean that it's because they are the WEF's fault, or responsibility, in some way? Or are you just saying that if the WEF claims that it's here to help, then here's the place that it can help? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:58, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Mike, the disengagement of the WEF from Wikipedia, and from discussions on Wikipedia, is misguided on a whole host of levels. Above all it is, quite simply, stupid and self-destructive. I honestly don't understand it, and think that the excuses that you are forced to make on the WEF's behalf are wearing thinner and thinner with time. And I say this as someone who--as you know--believes strongly in the importance of a proper dialogue between Wikipedia and Education, and in the immense benefits that could ensue from such collaboration, if it were done right. Which is why it pains me to see how badly it is being done at present, especially on the part of the WEF.
As far as the particular point to which you're responding here, I think that the WEF board-members "need" to respond to these issues in the first instance simply as a matter of maintaining minimal credibility in the Wikipedia community. It's a matter of, at the very minimum, seeming to care. There are of course other--and better--reasons why they should be responding, but I'm mentioning here only the bare minimum.
Put this another way: after the failed RFC that launched the move towards an WEF, I'd have thought that the working group's priority would have been to win trust among the Wikipedia community. Indeed, that's precisely what certain working group members (such as User:Pharos) mentioned at the RFC itself. The RFC only just failed after all (with a result of "no clear consensus), so the potential to win that trust was there. But everything that the working group, now WEF Board, has done and continues to do since goes against such a basic notion. Why? --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 08:05, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
That's a very good question, in my opinion. I wonder about this myself. The only logical explanation I can speculate at is this: perhaps they think they have a good funding stream already identified. Why else would they be rushing to pay someone else more than they are paying Jami, when clearly there's dissatisfaction with the way things are going? May the community be damned (or just ignored away), is the vibe I get from the WMF. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 08:55, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Mike Christie, why do you think it's [a] fact that an institution with a paid staff and a budget can do things that individual volunteers can't do, such as coordinate resources to try to improve professors' understanding of Wikipedia? Did you know that last night I was on a google hangout for WP:MEDUCSF and tonight I'll be meeting with students from Education Program:Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies/Gender and International Affairs (Fall 2013)? I don't understand how your position is factual. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:00, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
If there are enough people like you with the time, budget and energy to do what you're doing, coordinate it, successfully resolve the problems we see, improve the general understanding of Wikipedia in academe, and make the education program a clear win-win for both educational institutions and Wikipedia, then you're right. I don't think that's the case, which is why I think the WEF can help. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:14, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't believe in the "me" model. I believe in the WEF helping, but is it still your position that the WEF can't actually help by making edits to fix the problems themselves? Because that doesn't sound helpful at all. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:18, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
And is that an implicit acknowledgement that the lawyer said it was OK for WEF staff to edit Wikipedia to clean up student mistakes? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:01, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
No -- haven't asked yet, but we will. I suspect your earlier comment is correct, and there is no constraint, but we'll check. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:14, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

How can the WEF develop / improve an education program if they are not directly interacting with Wikipedia content and the students editing it? How can one figure out what and were the issues are if one is not "in the arena"? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 10:12, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Would the WEF ever support classrooms to edit under the radar?

Would the WEF ever support classrooms to edit under the radar? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:50, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Do you mean "Would the WEF tell a class that it's OK to edit under the radar, and there's no need to register?"? If so, no. If you mean "Would the WEF respond to requests for help from a class that had not registered?" then yes -- in fact those seem likely to be among those most in need of help. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:01, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. And would the WEF ever advise classrooms to make edits that are against consensus? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:05, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
I thought we'd had this discussion above, with Kevin Gorman and Rjensen? The WEF is going to be advising students and professors how to be successful on Wikipedia. I think we would all agree that anyone advising someone to edit against consensus doesn't know how to be successful on Wikipedia. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:10, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, too long, didn't read. But isn't that what the WMF has effectively done, Mike Christie (encourage edits that go against consensus)? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:26, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Wiki Education Foundation November update

Per the last Wiki Education Foundation (WEF) update, we delayed Jami Mathewson's start date with the WEF in order to have a bit more time to gather permissions to transfer contact information from the Wikimedia Foundation to the WEF. Jami will be starting as a WEF employee tomorrow, Wednesday 20th November. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:07, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Would Jami like to help, tomorrow, to help fix issues generated from the current and ongoing assignments? Maybe if Jami saw what a mess things are, and saw what had to be done to fix them, maybe she would be better equipped to help prevent those issues from developing in the first place. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:23, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Here are a couple of links that might help one see Jami's perspective on things: [13][14]. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:34, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
That is the kind of utterly irresponsible claptrap that is causing all the problems (and I note that Jami is an ambassador on many of the problem courses above). Is that the kind of information that is being put out to the press, while I've been clamoring for a press release that tells the truth and helps deal with the problems?

How can we organize to get Jami fired before she's hired. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 12:40, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Note that Jami is signed up as in a online volunteer role for every course, but this is merely a workaround for the fact that a course only shows up in your Special:MyCourses page if you are part of the course, and she tries to monitor the activity in all the classes. (I don't think Jami is serving as an actual Online Ambassador for any classes.) We plan to address that flaw in the software, so that anyone can watch a course and have its activity added to their Special:MyCourses feed.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:32, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Sage Ross and Mike Christie, I hope you both know that I respect you, but if what I read above represents what Jami Mathewson and this new venture is about, the source of many of our problems has just become crystal clear, and something needs to be done about it. And when something needs to be done, I am a bulldog. Jami Mathewson is a menace.

Now, I have to go catch up with my article work, as it appears there is at least one good article to come out of this mess, and I look forward to dealing with that article, those few students, giving credit where credit due, and will come back here to report on what I find. Other than that, Jami Mathewson and the rest of whatever like ilk are putting out false PR about this program are responsible for BAD medical information proliferating throughout the internet thanks to Wikipedia. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:40, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

I do think that that's just going to be a non-starter from the point of view of the WEF. However, maybe Jami would want to find another job anyhow, maybe we could help, and maybe we could help recruit someone else for the job. (I don't want the job in the present state of the WEF, despite expressing previous interest, due to a lack of good direction coming from the WEF, in my opinion.) But that's silly talk, in my opinion. What we really need to do is develop a community policy/guideline to manage the WEF. They obviously aren't going to manage themselves. A system of checks and balances works best, I suppose. We're supposed to be a check on the WEF. So we need to get something accepted as a guideline and/or policy.
Meanwhile, the WEF wants to hire a paid bureaucrat (boss to Jami) to sustain fundraising levels. And if I had to guess, it would be the person who is on the board but hasn't been to the last three board meetings.
So we need to get to writing, in other words. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:57, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Essentially we're being compelled to edit by the WMF in response to their mis-managed bureaucracy. I wonder if I can bill the WMF for my time? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:59, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
But according to the WMF, when it comes to collaborating with the education field "everybody wins". I guess this would be false, would it not? But the WMF isn't supposed to speak the truth, are they? They have tons of cash and jobs so they're happy to say whatever, even if it is false, I guess. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 14:17, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

Online Ambassador application: Nabil rais2008

User:Nabil rais2008

Nabil rais2008 (talk · contribs)

  1. Why do you want to be a Wikipedia Ambassador?
    I want to become Wikipedia ambassador for multiple purposes, 1. To help out student editors in the Wikipedia Education Program, 2. To assist them in daily queries, 3. To share my knowledge related to Wikipedia, 4. And share my rich experience with students of this program. I am editing Wikipedia articles since April 2008, and i think its a quite long journey till here and so furthermore i want to add / my knowledge to Wikipedia from an another aspect and i find this platform a perfect match.
  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).
    1. List_of_tallest_residential_buildings_in_the_world, 2. Climate_of_Quetta, 3. List_of_tallest_buildings_in_Dubai, 4. Burj_Khalifa, 5. Balochistan_Rural_Support_Programme
  4. How have you been involved with welcoming and helping new users on Wikipedia?
    Yeas i have been involved in assisting and suggesting new users in terms of Wikipedia policies and its implementation.
  5. What do you see as the most important ways we could welcome newcomers or help new users become active contributors?
    Writing articles and making edits is an art, that everyone must have and so we can motivate new users by unleashing their hidden art of writing articles in Wikipedia
  6. Have you had major conflicts with other editors? Blocks or bans? Involvement in arbitration? Feel free to offer context, if necessary.
    Yes i have been involved in a number of conflicts, the major conflicts were in the editing on articles of; Dubai,and Climate of Karachi.
  7. How often do you edit Wikipedia and check in on ongoing discussions? Will you be available regularly for at least two hours per week, in your role as a mentor?
    I am quite active rather proactive editor, with currently my edits usually go over 100 per day, so i will be available for at least 2 hours per week as desired.
  8. How would you make sure your students were not violating copyright laws?
    Overseeing and implementation of Wikipedia policies pertaining to this education program and policies regarding copyright laws.
  9. If one of your students had an issue with copyright violation how would you resolve it?
    I will resolve it in neutral way (without being biased) to make a fair decision, at first i will send an intimation to the student who has violated copyright laws and will tell him about policies and its compliance.
  10. In your _own_ words describe what copyright violation is.
    Copyright violation occurs when someone other than the copyright holder copies the “expression” of a work. This means that the idea or information behind the work is not protected, but how the idea is expressed is protected.
  11. What else should we know about you that is relevant to being a Wikipedia Ambassador?


(Two endorsements are needed for online ambassador approval.)

What we need before we can accommodate an education program

A week ago I posted the following to Wikimedia-l [15]

The Wikimedia Foundation needs to wake up and deal with the "real tech elephant in the room". Our primary issue is not a lack of FLOW, a lack of a visual editor, or a lack of a rapidly expanding education program. Our biggest issue is copyright infringement. We have had the Indian program, we have had issues with the Education program, and I have today come across a user who has made nearly 20,000 edits to 1,742 article since 2006 which appear to be nearly all copy and pasted from the sources he has used.[16]

This has seriously shaken my faith in Wikipedia. This is especially devastating as there is a tech solution that would have prevented it. The efforts are being worked on by volunteers here [17] and has been since at least March of 2012. We NEED all tech resource at the foundation thrown at this project. Other less important project like FLOW and the visual editor need to be put on hold to develop this tool.

We need tools to help the community deal with the education program and new editors generally before we work really hard on attracting new editors. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 10:17, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Maybe one day, just maybe, the WMF might actually develop something useful for the community and deploy it responsibly. The new notifications system was the exception to the rule, in my opinion. But it had a clear bug, in my opinion, and User:Mdennis (WMF) (last I remember), hasn't responded to my request on her talk page about it. I guess I could trawl through WP:VPT to sort out the WMF mess, but it's kind of hard to motivate me when they don't pay editors to do sensible things. For what it's worth, Jami seems to have "checked out" of this noticeboard. But I'm not sure she has ever really engaged here in the first place. But that's OK. The WMF helped her get a job through the WEF. They're so nice and responsible. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 11:02, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
The WMF do manage to keep the lights on and they do an excellent job of that. I am not sure who "job" it should be to manage the education program. Would be nice to have some programming support to help the community manage it. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 12:16, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
I expect Sage is currently working on that. =) On the downside, there is software that could be easily adapted to help boost WikiProject productivity, in my opinion, but the WMF seems disinterested. Perhaps different WMF bureaucracies are fighting themselves while we sit enjoying the lights. How many employees does it take to keep the lights on, exactly? I agree with you though, that a tech solution to spotting plagiarism would be a terrific boon to building an reliable encyclopedia. But they're off and about worried about something only marginally and tangentially related, I suppose. Perhaps they're preparing for a WMF metrics meeting—to present shitty metrics and pat each other on the back for it. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:27, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
And it should be our job. We need to draft policy/guideline(s). Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:29, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
The WMF does make money potentially available to those who are interested in addressing our problems. Does anyone know a tech person who would be interested in spending a year developing this software and also interested in writing a proposal for $30K in funding to support them to do it? They would have my support.
Additionally the WMF does excellent work convincing cell phone companies to give free access to Wikipedia. You can now get Wikipedia by SMS in Tanzania for those without a feature phone.[18] This last project is why no other platform can compete for my time. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 12:39, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
I've worked on that (m:IEG) stuff myself, but it sure is hard to find people to code. The developers are protected from us, because WMF knows best. Or do they? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 13:40, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
30k is pretty grim for a year of work. :| I think the bigger problem is simpler. WMF doesn't need to drop everything and do this. They just need to do it. There's a business shorthand that goes 'something isn't really a priority until it has a budget, a deadline and a person responsible for those two things.' This can't be a GSoC project or an 'open source project.' It needs to be something the WMF builds or contracts out and makes a priority. Protonk (talk) 19:38, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes agree. A couple of full time programmers could make this happen. It should not be that hard. Every new edit of a certain size as it is being made is checked. If it is a copyvio it is flagged. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 07:27, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

Radical essay by Protonk

User:Protonk, an excellent campus ambassador who rarely appears here, has written an essay named "But I digress..." which examines general problems with new users and which also addresses many of the concerns about new users from the education program. The issues which he raises are rarely addressed here. He actually wrote this for the draft namespace proposal, which is the current iteration of the perennial proposal to put new users into a super sandbox. I find Protonk's views sobering in that he is thinking of massive upheaval of current community processes by making Wikipedia much more inviting for lots of new editors.

I wanted to share this here because I think he is talking about the future of the education program from an less-considered perspective which ought to be more considered. Blue Rasberry (talk) 19:09, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

  • I should name all of my essays 'But I digress...' Thanks for the comment. True to form, by the time I finished it, the poll had closed. :) Protonk (talk) 19:18, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Blue Rasberry for pointing it out, and thanks Protonk for writing it in the first place. I found it quite interesting to read. A lot of it was about technical aspects, where I'm not that well equipped to add anything knowledgeable, but it occurs to me that it might be very helpful to have a series of bots that we could ask classes to run on student contributions (maybe as part of the process of moving content out of sandboxes), that could help fix common things that students tend to get wrong. Some of that could be simple WP:MOS stuff, but I also bet some smart editor could come up with a bot that could be used in medical-related pages, and would check citations for PMIDs and flag those that might fail WP:MEDRS. A broader issue that comes at the beginning of the essay is where Protonk talks about the difference between editors who create whole new pages from scratch, and editors who go around to existing pages and make improvements here and there. I'm thinking about that distinction in terms of what Jbmurray just said here: [19], about how we should want to make students better readers of Wikipedia. And that makes me think that, for class projects, we ought to do more to encourage multiple modest improvements of existing pages, instead of wholesale revisions of pages or creation of new pages, when students often end up giving us stuff that is not really helpful or encyclopedic when they do the latter. Of course, instructors think in terms of something that is obviously measurable, but we ought to think of ways to help instructors work with what we, internally, think of as "gnomish" edits instead. --Tryptofish (talk) 21:27, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
There are many, many assignments already like this, such as assignments to "add five sentences" or "add a citation" (I have personally advised on dozens of these). In fact, most professors choose these smaller assignments when they realize just how much work writing a Wikipedia article is. Most of these assignments are not even logged on Wikipedia as such and so the users are not even tagged as students. Wadewitz (talk) 06:57, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Notice the "add" word. Is Wikipedia all about adding more text? The "add a citation" example sounds a bit dubious and backwards. The "add a new article" is popular because of the reward reasons Protonk but also because it is so easy to mark. But it isn't scalable. We have been especially hit by psychology classes. Just how many topics in 1st year "Introduction to Psychology" classes can be added? These students quickly realise their coursework is already on Wikipedia. So they pick something obscure that they haven't actually learned about. Or there were never interested in psychology much and would rather pick neuroscience topics -- good luck to the psychology prof for supervising that work. -- Colin°Talk 12:53, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I should point out that edits such as the ones Wadewitz mentions above could still be valuable for students in WEP courses. But I just don't think they're the right 'ground state' for new amatuer editors. For WEP our goal is not to make new long term editors but to help students be critical readers of a commonly used resource and help them make something they'll be proud of. Refactoring may be a very important step in that. Protonk (talk) 13:12, 21 November 2013 (UTC)


What's going on with the edit history on this board right now? Is an edit on here being oversighted? Everything seems to be greyed out. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 23:14, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

I've encountered that sort of thing before. When something has to be revdel'd way back, they have to strike 'em all then restore. Or something like that. Wouldn't worry about it, although it seems to indicate that Prof. Potter might have revealed a name, or something. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:25, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
It looks to me like the non-suppressed edits throughout that period are all still visible. I suggest taking a combined diff, starting before the gray part and ending after, in order to see the changes. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:32, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes, when I've seen that happen before, the content is still there, but they had to revdel all the diffs to get back to a problem, and then reinstate them all. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:35, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

I pinged User:Beeblebrox because now I see the problem-- I can't read what happened during my nap, because I can't pull up a cumulative diff. That's what I get for sleeping on the job. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:06, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

  • I replied on my talk page, but the short version is yes, that was me, no I can't tell you anything else. Beeblebrox (talk) 01:17, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Here is the cumulative diff: [20]. I highly recommend it, because it includes a lot of my own comments. I'm pretty sure it includes everything that happened in the interim, minus what Beeblebrox quite properly took out (I saw it briefly before the removal, and my lips are sealed). --Tryptofish (talk) 23:57, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for that diff, User:Tryptofish; it did indeed reveal a lot of content I missed because of the Revdel. (My lips are equally sealed, knowing now what the revdel was, and methinks that problem reveals the cultural difference there relating to those who don't engage Wikipedia regularly and those of us who do, 'nuff said about what is and is not common practice for established Wikipedians.) Anyway, I did not know how to pull up a diff after the revdel. Now that you have provided it, a question: in your diff, I see someone applying to be an ambassador, who apparently thinks it is OK to cite medical content to the popular press. Am I understanding that correctly? And am I allowed to oppose an ambassador candidacy here? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:26, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
For anyone else, I would say the answer is "sure". Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:24, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

Probable undocumented student assignment on Thailand-related articles

These last few days several new Thailand-related articles have been created by new editors. (Found these at User:AlexNewArtBot/ThailandSearchResult.) It looks like a (pretty basic) school assignment, but it's lacking a course page. I haven't seen any problems regarding copyright/plagiarism, but some articles were redundant and have had to be redirected. I've given the editors the standard student-welcome message. Not sure if there is yet a need for more direct communication; there haven't really been any serious issues. --Paul_012 (talk) 09:22, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

OH, lovely. I have been asking repeatedly here on this board, about a template that can be used in these cases, and have been told there isn't one and we don't need one. User:Paul 012, the competent staffers have pointed me to no such template, and I need it daily. Could you please specify where it can be found? If any of the staffers can be rousted from their coffee breaks and champagne, could they please place the template someplace noticeable at the top of this board? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:44, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
@SandyGeorgia: Sage has mentioned before that he and Andrew Green are working toward making the extension work like a Wikipedia page should. That means when they enroll on the page, it will show up in their contribs, which will make it far easier to identify them. Unfortunately, Andrew just came on as a developer within the last 2 months, and we needed a developer to make this happen. I can guarantee you, as the person who probably most cares about identifying student usernames, that the education extension and "enroll" feature has made students drastically more visible than when it was simply a "please ask your students to add their username to your course page" or "please send me their usernames so I can add them to your course page." There's still always going to be the issue of students who don't enroll or even classes we don't know about to ask them to do so. Now that I wrote that out, I should make sure to clarify :): is that the template you're looking for, or do you want one that greets students? That would be a template we could fairly easily create. Jami (Wiki Ed) (talk) 19:27, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Hello, Jami, I will try to answer your posts tomorrow when I am less hot and bothered about an email I got demonstrating a lack of understanding of how bad this problem is right before being hit by another unregistered medical class. I am glad you have finally found your keyboard and are responding. It would be most helpful if you would understand that some of us Wikipedians generally conduct most of our Wikipedia business here on Wikipedia, rather than via backchannels like email or Skype, which means we are accustomed to referring to others with user names. (Surely, this board had to be revdel'd this week because some people here aren't accustomed to the Wikipedia model.) I have no idea who Andrew Green is, which means you lose me at that point because I realize that you do not engage Wikipedia the same way I do, and I become even more angry than I already am. When referring to someone that many of us have likely never heard of, you may lose us. Please use editor names or something that has meaning on Wikipedia, and I will strive to respond tomorrow with more cordiality. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:56, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
(There's already {{welcome student}}, but if you think we should change it/try to improve it, then we can work on that). Sage just told me the current plan is to add a little box on Special:Contribs at the top that shows up if you are part of a course, saying which course and who the leaders are. He thinks this will be available within a few weeks, which is faster than it would be to make the enroll show up on their contribs. I'm really glad they found this nice workaround, since it should be a lot easier to spot. Jami (Wiki Ed) (talk) 20:18, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

WP:WEF accuracy

Is the page WP:WEF accurate in its listing of current board members? I notice, from the minutes, and according to my memory, that it appears AlienInn (talk · contribs) has not been to the last three meetings. Are they still on the board? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 11:44, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

Yes, they're still on the board. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:58, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

Task force on medical articles

I suggest the WEF set up a task force that deals with classroom editing projects on medical topics. It can ask WikiProject Medicine to nominate some of the members in addition to experienced educators nominated by WEF. The task force should be asked to propose recommendations to WEF by a deadline. Rjensen (talk) 14:09, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

WEF needs to do something about this problem immediately, or the next step is escalation to ANI. WT:MED has more than it can handle from this one Georgia IT course, and there are others appearing. I will be out today for a family friend's funeral, but I expect to see some response from all those staffers on coffee break soon. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:11, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
You realize there's exactly one staffer, right? Kevin Gorman (talk) 00:11, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
I realize that one staffer has put out fluff pieces that have exacerbated this problem, and I realize that with few exceptions, many other vested contributors here have been unable to grasp the level of the problem we have (not to mention how discouraging it was to be told at this late stage that ASSIGN didn't do it, or to find out that the Georgia IT prof never seems to have adequately prepared his students for medical editing). And I don't know what relevance it is that Jami is on Pacific time; there is no urgency here. The problem with Georgia IT was advised in advance, and still, nothing was done. I asked several times about a template, and was told one wasn't needed. The issues with medical articles are not understood and not being taken seriously. With Georgia IT, the sandboxes went in, in spite of us talking about it in advance. Like Colin, I'm finding that one wearies of being ignored and misunderstood. And then met with silly assumptions like I want a response right this minute from someone who is in a different time zone, when we advised of the Georgia IT problem in advance, and now it is Thanksgiving and all of the other courses that we don't even know about will start dumping their sandboxes in. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:43, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
I really don't think that you've been broadly misunderstood. I sure as hell know there's a massive problem with most medical editing from students, and I suspect most other participants ont his board do too. I've said elsewhere I would support fairly draconian measures to curb its effects. A lot of your posts do seem like you are both underestimating Jami's current workload and overestimating her capacity, to be blunt. (That's not a dig at Jami, she just has a fuck of a lot to do.) From what I've seen of it, Jami's workload is something that would need at least three people to adequately handle to the level you expect it to be handled. Unless we can convince WMF to give WEF another couple hundred grand, or until WEF gets significant outside funds up and running, realistically, solutions to a lot of these problems are going to have to come from the community. How do you feel about the idea of a stickyprod for articles that fail medrs badly and have no version to fall back to? That seems like it would make it a lot easier to deal with a significant part of the problem, and I'm relatively certain we could get community agreement to pass it. If you like the idea, I'll draft an rfc for it this weekend. Kevin Gorman (talk) 01:06, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, Kevin. I appreciate feeling heard. But if Jami's workload is too much, I am not sympathetic: that is because they (whoever they are) put out the BS PR that led to this problem to begin with by making universities think free TAs was a grand educational idea. I don't know what a stickyprod is. I don't know how we can ever process through the amount of damage done in the medical realm no matter what tools we use, because someone still has to check them all. It needs to be stopped beforehand-- we cannot review all of this!!! And in case you haven't noticed, I popped all my circuit breakers tonight, so don't try to propose anything rational to me right now :/ :/ The only thing I can think of right now is that what we have is a problem of ratios. The UCSF venture will work because of the ratios-- there are enough of you who are knowledgeable, experienced, and who trained and will oversee the newbies, and you are involved with the community and know where/how to pull in resources (I made some article suggestions to Doc James). Maybe what we need are no more courses where the ratio of non-Wikipedians to experienced will overwhelm (eg Georgia IT's 100 essays with no experienced prof on board). One Jbmurray or Awadawit can oversee perhaps 25 students (but Louisa May Alcott is not cholera); one prof who has never engaged Wikipedia should not be allowed a course at all, much less one with 100 students, much less one in the medical realm. But what are we going to do about all the unregistered courses ... SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:35, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Sandy, the reason I mentioned Pacific time is just because you said above I expect to see some response from all those staffers on coffee break soon; that's the only reason it was relevant. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 04:51, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
I know, Mike Christie. My circuit breakers just popped today. I am sorry to everyone, including Jami (Wiki Ed) and Mike Cline for ranting at them.

What can be done? I think we need to get the info we put out to these people more focused, and on the most critical. I went through ASSIGN and some of the templates, they are all over the place, and I think we're throwing TMI at the profs and students. I laid out below what I think are the five most critical, which we need to somehow emphasize, and we need to get the medical courses to add PMIDs to their citations, to make it easier for us to review their work. And we need to address the ratios.

Other than those suggestions, I don't know what to do. Right now, my choices are unwatch most of my watchlist and articles I care about, find a corner to edit that students won't assault (which means abandon my main areas of focus), unwatch this board, or leave Wikpedia, because this program has made editing here decidedly horrid. I remember how much I used to love mentoring new editors ... Best to you, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 05:02, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

I understand, and I'm not annoyed at being ranted at; you were cross with good reason. I am glad to see you're sorry about your comments to Mike and Jami; I know for a fact they want what you want from Wikipedia. I really do think the WEF can help -- we have some resources now, and I hope we'll have more in the future. I think you've made your point that medical articles by students are often problematic, and I think it's time to move on to talking about what the community wants to do in response. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 05:23, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
I agree, Mike. There is little more I can do here, and my participation is no longer helping. I do hope folks will contemplate that is has been just about two years since I wrote this; do we have two years' worth of advancement of anything/something with respect to the effect this program has on Wikipedia? Unwatching now, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 05:47, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
I agree with SandyGeorgia that currently there should be no classroom editing of medical topics at all. There is insufficient editor time for supervising these, and I believe other Wikipedians might not be sufficiently versed in the details of WP:MEDRS and WP:MEDMOS to promote sustainable editing. There is a non-zero risk of disrupting content on important health topics, and while we have a medical disclaimer this could have measurable consequences. JFW | T@lk 14:28, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
There's a class of fourth year med students currently underway at UCSF that has worked closely with me, Doc James, and Bios. I have no doubt that they will be able to produce quality content. Any regulation of what classes can edit needs to both allow for those classes that *can* produce quality content to continue to edit, and needs to recognize that plenty of classes run under the radar (which is both undesirable and hard to detect.) Something like a {{stickyprod-failsMEDRS}} seems like it might be a good way both to address student problems and nonstudent problems. Kevin Gorman (talk) 00:10, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Sandy, I'm at work but should be able to respond occasionally. (Just FYI, the only WEF employee is on Pacific time.) What does the community want the WEF to actually do in this case? I've made suggestions in earlier threads for what could be done, including contacting professors. How can the WEF help? Do you want Jami to reach out to that professor? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 14:40, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
For starters, he needs to deal with getting his class work off of Wikipedia himself-- we dont' have time for all the afds, merge requests, citation checking, etc. He needs to prod, revert, remove, whatever ... agraphia is the only quality work I am aware of. then you all need to start dealing with all of the other courses that are hitting med content. thanks mike, sorry, late for a funeral, but we have had enough. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:42, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I would like WEF to help make it policy that running a class on WP like this one isn't acceptable any more. It absolutely scares me that Wadewitz says she gets called daily from profs wanting to run classes on WP. Well I don't see those profs editing on WP. Stop promoting classes on WP run by profs who don't edit, don't have the first clue, and don't want to get involved working with their students to produce great articles. Stop running classes where the students are editing far beyond their understanding and capabilities. Really, a reboot is required where we slowly grow Wikipedian professors and classroom assistants who then inspire their pupils to write great content. Classes that are self-supporting and led by those completely clued up who can help their students with policy and guidelines and can revert the plagiarism and harmful nonsense. Where wikipedian education people can help each other out Because the model where classes rely completely on the volunteer base to detect/fix/improve is busted. It doesn't scale and never was there really. The above article is Daily Mail crap reporting dumped on Wikipedia for us to sort out. Not acceptable at all. Why would anything accept standards this low? -- Colin°Talk 15:54, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Colin, I don't think it would be appropriate for WEF to advocate for a policy like that, any more than it would be appropriate for the WEF to advocate for the opposite. The WEF isn't a member of the community; it's a nonprofit. Individuals in the WEF can advocate, in their capacity as editors, but the WEF should respond to the consensus of the community, and provide input and data; it shouldn't take a lead role in forming it. (Not to say it can't have an opinion but it's not a member of the community, and that's important.)
I'd also like to know what you mean by "unacceptable" -- if I tell a professor his class is "unacceptable", what does that mean? That every identified edit his students make will be reverted as vandalism? I don't think there's a community consensus about what to do with classes that do poor work. If there were, the WEF could make it clear to interested professors. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 04:57, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
"The WEF isn't a member of the community." Exactly, Mike. You've put your finger on the problem. The WEF isn't part of the community, and shows no desire to engage with the community beyond asking you to respond to "questions" we might have, and running "office hours" off-wiki.
In short, the WEF has completely backtracked from the sentiments behind User:Pharos's comment at the RFC: "The important thing is that we structure this program for deep community participation at all levels, which is a lesson that I believe has been learned from the experience of past stages, both in North America and globally. And we must ensure the community fully joins in planning the next stage of this structure as it evolves beyond the top-down approach of the pilot programs."
I think it's time for a new RFC. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 05:53, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Mike Christie, my "not acceptable" point was that this article is not acceptable for Wikipedia and it is not acceptable that it went from draft to live. I can understand (partly) if the student was editing on a live article and it took some time to notice it was bad and fix it. But this was a draft for many days. What is the point of having a draft if it doesn't get checked over prior to publication? All the evidence with this article suggests the class is operating in a way that is highly unlikely to succeed and is utterly reliant on the volunteer community. Wrt policy, I'd expect the WEF to take a lead in actually promoting classes that will work without any reliance on the community and strongly discouraging classes that won't work. But I assume when a prof phones up right now, they get encouraged and told that their lack of experience is not a problem. If you can't help draft a policy for education, then I'd at least hope your program was currently doing things the way such a policy would enforce. But what I see here is just terrible. 100 students creating bad articles and supervised by a prof who doesn't edit. I'd expect WEF to be examining how they got to this position? How this class was encouraged to run when it clearly lacks the necessary components of a successful assignment. I'd really rather not be in a position where the community effectively told the WEF to shut down and start again but it is looking that way.... Colin°Talk 12:22, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
@Colin: I can't even count the number of professors I have discouraged from teaching with Wikipedia. Some of them absolutely did not get what Wikipedia (or an encyclopedia) is; some were convinced it is completely unreliable and that their students would turn that around; some expressed repeatedly that original thought was of most importance; some wanted students to work on highly technical articles in introductory courses; etc. We absolutely do not encourage classes that are pretty clearly going to be detrimental to Wikipedia. Sometimes a class still has things go wrong, and sometimes those professors who are discouraged decide to do it anyway. That is why we still try to offer them support in whatever way possible to try and minimize the impact. As for this particular class, I think someone mentioned earlier that the professor has been teaching with Wikipedia for years (since 2007). In August 2012, he emailed the Wikimedia education mailing list to ask if he could get more support for his students, who were choosing their topics that week and looking for assistance in doing so. This was a class that was already happening (and would continue to happen every Fall semester), and we reached out to the professor to try to give the class more support. I think that's exactly one of the things WEF can and should do. Jami (Wiki Ed) (talk) 17:38, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
@Jami (Wiki Ed):, I'm very glad to hear you are working hard to prevent bad classes. Perhaps though we need to rethink the advertising material these profs are seeing if so many come with the wrong idea. It shouldn't all be encouraging -- some of it should be spelling out the issues and problems. This year we've seen Joorden's class disaster and that wasn't stopped until the community forced it. So that's a complete failure of a class encouraged by WMF etc. And this latest class seems to be completely unsupervised on wiki, doing their own thing. I may look to see what the previous years were like. It is clear the class isn't following best-practice as the students haven't a clue about MEDRS or even what makes an encyclopaedia article rather than tabloid journalism. -- Colin°Talk 12:38, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
@All - I am putting on my admin hat here for a minute. There are lots of dynamics going on here--substantive content issues (they are real), Wikipedia process issues (they are real), the education program (it has a role in WP), and a lot of emotion (unfortunately a big distraction, but it is real). When I awoke this morning and saw this discussion unfolding, the first thing that came to mind was WP:Ownership of articles. OWNERSHIP is Wikipedia Policy. Lets not find ourselves making statements or proposing actions that go counter to that policy. If you haven't read it lately, please do so. --Mike Cline (talk) 15:03, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Good enough. AN will be next, then. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:04, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Went and re-read it. Was particularly struck by the fact that it's so disorganized it puts article stewardship at the bottom. Nonetheless, I think that most of the concerns being expressed are stewardship-related concerns (remember, we've already had problems keeping longtime topic-area stewards when the topic area is flooded with poor quality student editing), rather than WP:OWN concerns. Risker (talk) 15:21, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Mike Cline, I've had enough of your accusations of bad faith and blank refusal to accept the complaints we are making have any grounding in reality. Could you perhaps find some other way of occupying your time? -- Colin°Talk 15:39, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
@Colin, your confidence in my ability to influence this discussion in any meaningful way is inspiring. You are masterfully playing on my reactance tendencies with your clever use of reverse psychology. I trust my contributions will continue to help move us forward. Thanks for the astute vote of confidence. --Mike Cline (talk) 16:15, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I think just about everyone needs to calm down about this, and recognize that we all want what is best for Wikipedia, but I want to say specifically to Mike that Risker is correct: the concerns here are about stewardship and not ownership. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:39, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I find it interesting that a short bit of a reminder about a Wikipedia policy that addresses both Ownership and Stewardship causes so much vitriol. Nothing in my comments above accused anyone, personally or collectively, of ownership or bad faith. Clearly the reminder about the policy was viewed by some as accusation and assumption of bad faith. But ironically, many editors in this discussion expect everyone to hop-to and tow the line anytime MEDMOS or MEDRS is mentioned without question. If a seasoned editor can’t remind other seasoned editors of a simple policy without causing this much grief, then having high expectations that students, new editors and instructors are even going to listen to us let alone learn and comply with policies and guidelines is wishful thinking. --Mike Cline (talk) 00:13, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Cline, put your email on Wikipedia where we can discuss the real issues, for the benefit of everyone. We are going to make no progress if you all keep believing that 100 of them for every one of us is something we can keep up with or is akin to normal editing and normal new articles. OF COURSE we can't tag, welcome, and do the things we would normally do. We cannot process through 98 student essays. Ever. There are not enough of us. And no, that is not AT ALL the way it works with regular newbies. With regular editors/articles/newbies, there is more like a five-to-one ratio of established editors educating every newbie, and processing through their small edits bit by bit. There are now hundreds of them for every one of us, dropping 98 entire, huge essays at a time onto a project even after we warned in advance there were problems with that course, and even after we worked to explain medical editing at WP:ASSIGN It is utterly true that established editors have gotten nothing but insults from this board. You will chase us all out. Yes, we should be able to treat students as well as we treat every new editor-- welcoming, tutoring, guiding them. We can't. They drop their damage and are gone before we can deal with it, and it sits there-- bad for our readers, bad for us. Of course we haven't even engaged them or their articles yet-- how are we to process through and tag, cleanup, prod, AFD whatever 98 essays from one course alone, and considering that we know that professor did not explain medical sourcing to his students. And then we have to deal with all the unregistered courses, coming from the fluff PR this program is putting out. I would love to answer all of those things you raised in email calmly and publicly for the benefit of everyone who still doesn't get it. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:29, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
And by the way, what's this business about seasoned editors being bothered about your post on ownership? I, for one, am not the least bit troubled about your misunderstanding of OWN. I am troubled that in spite of all we have done here to try to illustrate the problems, raise the issues in advance before they hit us, get some solutions here before the hundreds of bad articles hit us (Georgia IT is only one class), it seems that no one (and certainly not you) gets it yet. We have been typing in vain, because you still think we can deal with hundreds of student essays per term in the same way we would deal with any other new article/editor situation. Of course we can't welcome, tag, engage, process clean 'em up. We never will be able to. THAT is the point. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:48, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Maybe, Mike Cline, emotions are running high because NO ONE WILL ANSWER BASIC QUESTIONS !!! <redacted> Never mind. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:47, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Many on the board keep up the mantra summarized by these types of comments ..that currently there should be no classroom editing of medical topics at all, I would like WEF to help make it policy that running a class on WP like this one isn't acceptable any more, and The concept of allowing the academic community to treat WP as a huge online homework exercise book needs to be killed off imo. Many are clamoring for some policy or guideline addressing the problems being discussed here, but nobody is actually proposing policy or guideline verbiage that can be taken to the wider community for a decision. If disallowing classroom editing of medical articles is the solution, propose the policy and the sanctions for violating it. Propose the processes to monitor and enforce the policy. If the WP community needs a policy or guideline to regulate student edits, propose it and seek a community decision. If the WP community needs a policy putting responsibility for student edits on instructors, propose it and seek a community decision. If the WP community needs a policy that makes encouraging the use of Wikipedia in higher education by the WMF or WEF undesirable, then propose it and seek community support. We have established practices, RFCs et al to establish solutions to community problems. Why aren't those clamoring for new policy using them? The ENB is a very small, obscure closet in a very large house. Yelling “nobody is listening” in a dark closet isn’t going to get us very far. We seem content just milling around each other in the dark closet. --Mike Cline (talk) 01:00, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Bologna. I brought a test case here, with the best of faith, and asked how we could handle it, knowing the class was a problem in advance. What mostly came back was discussion involving having to convince certain people vested in this program that a problem even exists. Yes, Kevin Gorham at one point went off expecting to revert all the bad work, well that didn't happen did it, probably because he realized that the task is too big for one editor, or even five editors. I think he went through a few students. How do you want us to propose something when many responders here are not understanding the level of the problem? We cannot fix 100 sandboxes after they are dropped on us. They needed to not be dropped on us to begin with. And we cannot do anything about the increasing number of unregistered courses that are hitting us because of false PR put out by this program. I have said it repeatedly, so stop insulting me-- put out a press release and blogs and anything else at your disposal explaining that we are not unpaid TAs, and that Wikipedia does not have unlimited resources to do professor's jobs for them. And drop that line, Cline about this small problem and community problems-- in medical editing, the education program has become the LARGEST DARK CLOSET in the room, and it is NOT a community problem. It is a problem promoted by, caused by, furthered by the WMF and the WEF. What this program has promoted has entirely changed the tenure of editing medical topics here on Wikipedia (and certainly not for the better). It used to be possible to write content. Now we are TAs. Don't try to fool me that this program needs a community solution, which means, ask volunteers that we don't have to clean up messes caused by marketing and promoting a program we can't handle. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:16, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
I fully intend to finish going through the class eventually. I backed off when I got an initiatially positive response from the professor, to give him time to get his house in order. If, in a few weeks, that hasn't happened, I'll finish up the class. It'll take time but it's a task that can be done by one editor. (And, FWIW, I went through 20ish students the first time around.) Kevin Gorman (talk) 01:32, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Wow. You are really going to go through all 98 of those? Well. I best stop whining and go to bed, then! Oh happy day ... but Kevin, what about next year, when the 98 are 980? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:41, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
I can help as well, but moreso in early December. As I did with User:Biosthmors/Intro neuro, please feel free to mark any significant article history events on the course page: Education Program talk:Georgia Institute of Technology/Introduction to Neuroscience (Fall 2013)/Timeline. Sage, being able to comment on each article, and its significant events, should be a capability in the new extension. (Sage Ross (WMF)). Is it a planned feature? If not, then it's not wiki enough yet, in my opinion. Best. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 06:57, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
I'm strongly in favor of a better template for medical pages, and I'm certainly trying to help make ASSIGN more effective. But in the interests of lower editorial blood pressure, I'd like to point to Molecular neuroscience as a page that really has been improved, a lot, by a student in the GA Tech class. And see: [21] and [22]. --Tryptofish (talk) 00:12, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I've run into a few students who do communicate (which is what has made me furious about the notions being spread on this board that critics of this program don't want to engage students-- that seems to be all I do now, try to talk to them and get them to talk back). I think our templates were a mess-- as usual, emphasizing program information rather than things we urgently need the students to know. The effect of ASSIGN was diluted when it grew too large, and the welcome templates were redundant (I edited a bit). Is the rest of the information that bad? ATTENTION SPAN-- 20-somethings are used to info in texting-sized bites. We need to prioritize eg the five things they need to know, and stop shoving TMI at them. 1) Don't plagiarize. 2) Don't editorialize. 3) Understand wikilinking and stay on-topic, stuff is covered via links. 4) Understand reliable sources. 5) If you are editing medical content, DON'T. Until you have read and understood MEDRS, and can add a PMID to a secondary review. And then we need to show the door to profs who won't respect Wikipedia norms, engage the community, or who are running classes that are too big for them to manage. I can assure you that the agraphia success was more due to the other, unregistered course, than the Georgia IT student who kept using primary sources, because the other students' prof jumped in right away and worked to understand. I'd rather have her unregistered program contribution than the 100 Georgia IT essays, which IMO, indicate that the prof got lazy and negligent, thinking he had a free ride. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:02, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

I already made a template. Now let's hope it doesn't get watered down, since it is intended to highlight our medical sourcing issues, over other pages that never get read. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:22, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Time is running out to act for spring 2014 semester

The new academic semester begins early in January and some policy ought to be in place by then or we will have a repetition of the chaos in this semester regarding the editing of medical article. The WEF board still has time to appoint a task force, get a report, and act on it. Rjensen (talk) 18:17, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

When classes don't understand WP:MEDRS and WP:PRIMARY and WP:RS, but students are forced to edit despite this, why do we really need a new policy to block them? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:31, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
The problem goes beyond medical articles, in my mind. Classrooms have been violating WP:PRIMARY to get more bytes about their field or friends online. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:33, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

Who is the ED going to be? Does anyone know?

Jami, anyone at WMF, or anyone from the WP:WEF board: is there any internal understanding of who will be hired as the ED for the WP:WEF? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:01, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

Per the Signpost it looks like there are going to be two employees an ED and a program manager for just over $100,000[23] Or is this one person doing both? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 13:28, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Doc James is right; the ED is a separate role. We hope to post the job opening very soon -- I'm hoping we can do it this week. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 17:42, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

Visions for the future

I think it's obvious from the page here (and WP:ASSIGN) that there is a community wish to see the education program evolve. I happen to have different views for the future outcomes of the program than Jami (the to be first employee of the WP:WEF). It seems my comments about the direction of the WP:WMF program haven't been popular with all. But to me it is obvious that the WMF deliberately spun off the program to the WEF so that it could evolve to adapt to community wishes faster. That's why the WEF has community seats, in my mind. Does anyone want to speak to the tension created when different people have different visions? Does anyone have suggestions for how the community and the WEF can move forward collaboratively and productively? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 06:39, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

Well, it could act a little more like every other similar body on Wikipedia: i.e. act on Wikipedia, with transparency and openness of discussion a priority. Sadly, over the history of the organization's gestation it has progressively grown more opaque, and further removed from Wikipedia.
Another idea, given that whenever any suggestion at all is made, working group and WEF board members (those who bother to respond) declare defensively that they are "only volunteers" (as though ordinary Wikipedians somehow aren't...), and given that the board is at only just over half full strength, is that they also make electing selecting new members to the board a priority, rather than an issue that they continually kick into the long grass.
In lieu of either of these two (rather obvious) options, the WEF has lost much of the goodwill that it had at the start, has done nothing to convince its critics, and has learned little if anything from its initial failed RFC. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 18:57, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
Hear, hear. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:48, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
So can we get a clear statement and assurance from the WEF that they will be abandoning the poor quality metric of using quantity (such as bytes/pages/words added) as a measure of success? Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 14:52, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
I suggested to the board that we change "setting annual numeric goals with the program manager to ensure measurable programmatic expansion" to "setting annual numeric goals with the program manager to ensure measurable programmatic improvement" to avoid the implication that there would be a quantitative metric, and we had agreement on that point. I suppose I can't really say that the board agreed not to use a quantity metric, since it wasn't discussed directly, but I gave that as the reason to make this change and nobody disagreed. Personally I am opposed to using a quantity metric; I don't think it's appropriate at the moment. Not that I'm opposed to measuring the quantity of material that the students are adding -- that's useful information -- but I don't think it's a good idea to set quantitative goals. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:54, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Could I please request, Mike Christie, that the board take a clear position on this issue? Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 06:20, 15 November 2013 (UTC)
When we discuss metrics I will advocate for a clear statement against the use of quantitative goals (not indefinitely, but as a current position). I'll certainly mention it here when we have that discussion. At the moment we're focused on making sure Jami's employment transition goes smoothly. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:50, 16 November 2013 (UTC)
Mike Christie, why not indefinitely? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 11:53, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Mike Christie, I know you're busy, but I'm just curious what your rationale is here. Thanks. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 16:45, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Just because we might either have sufficiently good quality to want more quantity, or there might be certain topic areas which have been successful and in which growth might be beneficial. I don't want to ideologically ban the notion just because I don't support it in current circumstances. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 22:49, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Mike Christie, please let us know which classrooms you think currently have sufficiently good quality to want more quantity. My impression was that even the chair of the WEF, DStrassmann, wasn't hitting this mark this semester on quality, and had to make adjustments to her assignment. To me, good Wikipedian instructors, like User:Brianwc or User:Jbmurray, are unfortunately the exception rather than the rule. I'd rather assignments not have to add any prose. Then we might actually see quality improvements. Like adding references and rewording portions of uncited text. We already have over 200,000 articles without any references. Why should students need to add crappy prose to get a reward? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:34, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
@Biosthmors A good professor is constantly updating and improving assignments. This is the hallmark of good pedagogy. No one would judge a consumer product simply on whether the manufacturer strives to improve the design. Moreoever, a design that works well at one institution with one set of students may not work as well in another context and on other topics. For example, an aircraft used for one market (eg a short route) may not be the best model for another, such as a transcontinental flight. DStrassmann (talk) 15:21, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Time for a new RFC

I think it's time for a new RFC. It's been just over a year since the last one, which concluded "no clear consensus." User:SilkTork summarized: "As things stand, it appears that students and educators and some Wikipedians value the programme, but there are concerns among other Wikipedians which it would be helpful to address in order to ensure a smooth continuance of the programme, and its transfer to an independent organization."

The issue is whether the WEF has addressed those concerns. My own feeling is that precisely the opposite has happened: the WEF has progressively become more out of touch with the Wikipedia community, and succeeded in alienating it more rather than less.

As for what the RFC question should be, I see no reason why it shouldn't be exactly the same one as was put to the community a little over twelve months ago: "Should the US Canada Education Program be established as an independent, thematic organization?" --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 05:58, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Well that previous RFC highlighted a more fundamental question people wanted to ask. What has "editing in the classroom" done for WP? We were told in that RFC that such student editing was going to happen anyway and the WEF could help make sure it was at least done well. Neither is true. The community can decide such editing is banned or heavily restricted just like paid advocacy editing is being banned. The mantra should be "The encyclopaedia that anyone can edit as a volunteer". The assumption that other forms of editing are not just encouraged but actually required by some founding pillar of policy is false. We currently have no mechanism to stop bad classes from editing here. The various education programmes have encouraged professors to use WP for their classes as homework, yet haven't provided the necessary framework to regulate it. It is clear the WEF isn't functioning as a regulator, yet this activity certainly does need regulation. It either isn't offering good advice, or that advice is going unheeded.
The fundamental problem at present is the "Wikipedia editing as homework" model as currently designed, doesn't scale. Early pioneers and successful classes had highly experienced Wikipedias as instructors and classroom assistants. But we haven't grown any new Awadewits or Jbmurrys. The current crop of instructors do not edit Wikipedia. They are supported by assistants who are often out of their depth and inexperienced. The students are often asked to edit subjects that are beyond their abilities. They may tackle really hard subjects that nobody realistically could expect them to do well at. Their work is then published on Wikipedia and left to the volunteer community to deal with. We can't cope with 100 students editing medical articles unsupervised and that is just one class. What if every college did this?
Wikipedia requires a balance of editors creating new material, maintaining existing material, watchlisting articles, dealing with user issues, investigating copyright, newbies and experienced, copyeditors and bot writers. But the student edits are nearly 100% newbie new material, and they edit for a few weeks and disappear. The balance is all wrong and unsustainable. It isn't growing the wider community, and is in fact acting as a deterrent to experienced editors. We have no policies to deal with such student edits or editors or their profs.
The academic community has a lot to offer Wikipedia. But they have been mishandled and misinformed. Rather than getting professors or graduates editing WP, we've got 1st year undergraduates writing about subjects they know nothing about. How can these students be mentored when their instructors have never edited? You know the sign "Please leave the facilities as you would like to find them." Well that applies here too.
Time to put a stop to this I think. Stop advertising to non-editor profs. Cut back and start again. Grow some new Wikipedian professors and graduate editors first. Editing in the classroom needs to be a self-supporting activity where the expected standard is "high", not "no worse than a newbie". Colin°Talk 13:59, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
One of the groups I volunteer with had some Americorps volunteers to come in to do work this summer. They came in, got oriented, did the work, and left, and we won't see them again. The reason this was a success and not a disaster is that those of us on the permanent establishment, so to speak, knew they were coming, and had a series of clearly-defined and constructive tasks to which they could be directed. As a result, they didn't blunder around trying to do random things they thought were constructive (but were in fact harmful), and we didn't get upset that they failed to self-organize into a permanent curating group. We need similar protocols on Wikipedia, where instead of running up and doing what naively seems best to them ("OK, students, everyone...write a new article! Go!"), classes can find structured tasks that existing editors think are productive, and that also serve the goals of the class. I think in practice, I agree with most of what you're recommending, but I'm uneasy at making it all hinge on retaining and attracting knowledgeable editors. That's something we've been doing poorly for years. I think that finding non-encyclopedia-damaging tasks for editors who will not be retained is probably an easier problem to solve than our recruit-and-retain problem. Choess (talk) 15:11, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
How many people in the volunteer community supported that Americorps group? Who made the "clearly-defined and constructive tasks"? Was it also volunteer community? It works on a tiny scale when you are lucky enough to find a few high-quality volunteers to help. And it works on a tiny scale when we have Wikipedian experts leading the class. I just don't see how it scales to US & Canada never mind the entire English-speaking world. But I'd be interested to know if we can specify some constructive tasks that could be applied generally to any class. Tasks where the chance of success is very high and the risk of damage low. And such tasks may have to warn against certain areas of WP (featured content, controversial subjects, very difficult topics) I suspect however, that the profs want more than that. They want an end of term "essay" to mark and give 20% course points for. Can you link to work of this group you mention? -- Colin°Talk 15:42, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, I didn't make that clear. The scenario I described was not Wikipedia-related (it involved natural lands conservation). My overall point was that in other problem domains, standing, long-term volunteer groups have methods to successfully integrate short-term labor from non-acculturated people. I'm not saying there must be a way to integrate it, just that no one's tried to find a way yet. To extend my analogy, what we're seeing right now is is what it would look like if the Americorps supervisor had told people "go in and straighten this place up" and they cut down all the rare plants to put in zinnias or something. (That's not a slam on WikiProject Medicine, which has been way too busy doing damage control to try to deal with the issue.) Brainstorming: WP:MED identifies X number of articles where there's existing content, but poorly organized and imbalanced, places list on a project page. Classes work on an outline on each talk page of what each topic should cover, coupled with citations to likely references. When they're shaping up to the point that WP:MED members are willing to take a look at it (this might take a few semesters of iteration, plus an indefinite time for WP:MED to review), links to the articles can be moved to a phase 2 project page, and classes could try to implement the outline, one section at a time. There are probably holes that can be poked in this scheme, but I think you see the pattern: modest, discrete tasks, loosely coupled, plenty of places to call a halt for review, enter mainspace very slowly. Whether the WEF encourages or discourages them, I think professors are going to come wandering up and trying to carry out their own naive ideas about Wikipedia: "write an article!" "add a reference!" Maybe in some areas, mass rollbacks and blockings will be the only way to deal with this, but if we can catch these projects early and say "No, that way doesn't work. We tried. Try doing some of these things instead, it will help us more," I think that should at least precede taking the "nuke 'em all" approach. (In general; I have no objection to slash-and-burn against the current crop of unsalvageable essays.) Choess (talk) 01:51, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

I believe an RFC or multiple RFCs if necessary addressing the issues being discussed here is a good idea. I would hope the question would be a bit more precise than the previously vague and open ended one. Repeating the same question is unlikely to address the specific issues people are trying solve and will probably on par result in the same no consensus result as before. I would like to see some specific policy/guideline proposals put to the community via RFC. Otherwise, this won't go very far. To the best of my understanding, if there are specific policies/guidelines within the Wikipedia community that address education program specific activity, then the WEF would be self-obligated via their charter to abide by them. As to this statement above The community can decide such editing is banned or heavily restricted just like paid advocacy editing is being banned. Editors who are familiar with the proposed "paid advocacy" policies and the associated RFCs will find that they have all failed to achieve community consensus on the basis that our current content and behavioral policies already mitigate and discourage paid advocacy. Paid advocacy is not being specifically banned as far as I know it. Advocacy of any kind (paid or otherwise) is already against WP policy. --Mike Cline (talk) 17:49, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Yes, perhaps there should be a series of questions. I only suggested repeating the previous one, as it allows us to gauge how the community assesses the working group / board's activities over the past twelve months.
Personally, I think the key issue is the relationship between the WEF and the community. Mike Christie, above, declared that the WEF was not part of the community. Indeed, the fact that it sees itself as such--very much unlike other thematic organizations, and very much unlike the way it presented itself a year ago--is a key part of the problem. It is increasingly reminding some of us of an organization such as Wiki-PR.
There are a number of obvious, and rather simple, steps that the WEF could have made to avoid the distrust and (increasingly) anger that it has provoked. I continue to find it baffling that it has refused to take them.
As for other, more specific issues, it would be nice to gain clarification, so that we are not endlessly repeating the same issues here on this board. Personally (as I have long said), I don't think that educational projects on Wikipedia are necessarily a disaster. In fact, I don't think there is anyone here who does think that. Nor do I think they are any kind of panacea for Wikipedia's problems. Again, there's probably nobody that would suggest that. But there has been a polarization in recent months: the differences in perspective that were evident last November have become (I think) sharper and wider in the intervening time.
And the real shame is that this combination of factors (the WEF's distancing itself from Wikipedia, and opinion here about the educational program polarizing and becoming more emotive) means that the really interesting and important discussions are being sidelined and drowned out.
Let's have an RFC to register the state of our thinking about the WEF and to establish protocols for the future. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 18:13, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
  • WP:MEATPUPPETRY. I'd love to see an RFC on the line between meatpuppetry and the education program. If anyone else got dozens of people to edit wikipedia in ways that violated policies they'd be banned. I see no policy-based exemption for WMF staffers. Stuartyeates (talk) 22:52, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Village pump discussion on students and forced paid advocacy

Software: Plagiarism Detector and Citation Demander

While it appears that the "community" is running the "education program". So the question is what should we do with it? IMO the education program should be shut down or only allow pilot projects until the following are met:

  1. We have software in place that is able to detect and flag "copy and paste" violations in new edits as they come in per WP:Turnitin. This cannot be done after the fact as there are so many Wikipedia mirrors. It must be done in real time.
  2. We have a method to get students to use the cite templates based on either the PMID, DOI or ISBN to make review of their edits easier. This could be done by giving them student accounts that do not allow an edit to be saved without a PMID/ISBN/DOI if appropriate. It could also be a bot that automatically properly formats their ref once they are done.

I am in theory for the education program and am very much involved with promoting this effort here Wikipedia:WikiProject_Medicine/UCSF. This project however is a pilot project. And that is the state I currently see the education program as being in. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 14:02, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

Good idea or bad idea, not at issue here. But from a process standpoint, wouldn't this need a community based policy or guideline to be enforced? This from the lead in WP:Wikiproject suggests so: WikiProjects are not rule-making organizations. WikiProjects have no special rights or privileges compared to other editors and may not impose their preferences on articles. If this is the case, shouldn't we be proposing specific policy or guideline to establish the condition you seek? --Mike Cline (talk) 15:16, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes I am beginning discussion here. If there is sufficient interest than it can be taken to the policy generation stage. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 15:21, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Well my interest in this is essentially seeing what such a community-wide policy or guideline might say and what community processes would be used to enforce the language. Personally I am very skeptical that such a policy/guideline can achieve community consensus, but I may be wrong. We'd have to wait and see specific language. --Mike Cline (talk) 15:36, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes will need some discussion I am sure. Probably a few RfCs. Will need a few champions to develop it and synthesis the communities feelings. Could take 6 months or a year. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 15:43, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
This has been discussed at least once before, especially after the Indian Education program um incident. One lesson that emerged there is that Copyvio and plagiarism needs to be given more emphasis in the program, and ideally first raised in lesson one. Another is that any discussion about the success or otherwise of the program needs to factor in the plagiarism level. The core problem is that these programs are seen as being about editor recruitment and content creation and are being judged on those criteria. If you want them to take copyvio seriously you need to get a low level of copyvio as one of the measures of success (we can expect an individual not to do copyvio, a recruitment program needs to be judged in terms of how successfully it avoids it and retrains those who do it) ϢereSpielChequers 21:21, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
It's still very much a work in progress, but there has been a lot of talk about developing a guideline that sort of parallels WP:ASSIGN. Increasingly, it sounds to me like the community really does want to set expectations for class assignments, in such a way that assignments that conflict with community norms will be subject to sanctions. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:52, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes thanks Trypto that looks like the right place to work. We can than try to get that to policy. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 03:33, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
I never thought I'd say this, but I think that the Education Program should be shut down. Or rather, it needs a complete reboot. Like others (not least the newly-hired Program Manager), I'd been under the impression that responsibility for the Program had been transferred to the WEF. Now that the WEF wants to renege on that responsibility, it turns out that it's been dumped, without notice, into the lap of the community. As nobody was prepared for this, the ensuing chaos can only get worse. It's time to turn off the extension and discourage all student editing until such time as the program can be restarted. And I say this as someone who is passionate about the importance of bringing Wikipedia and Higher Education together. The hand-off of the Program has been so mismanaged that it does everyone a disservice, and actively works against those of us who believe that there can be a productive partnership here. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 15:46, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
if we end the program, it will not end class work on WP--just end the formal support we can give it. The extension and the templates give us some ability to see what is going on, and we have consistently had much bigger problems from classes and professors who do not use it. I further do not see the EP as being solely responsible for preventing or detecting plagiarism. As far as WP is concerned, the ultimate responsibility for plagiarism is the contributor, and the ultimate responsibility for detecting it is the community here. The program and its ambassadors have the responsibility to discourage it and educate about it--they can no more be expected to stop it that we can stop it at WP. The people who are falling does on their responsibility often are the course instructors, and no one should be accepted as a course instructor unless they are willing to read and review their students work. Speaking as a college teacher myself, I can not imagine abdicating this responsibility for work done in class that will then be presented in a public forum. DGG ( talk ) 19:00, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Unfortunately, DGG, we have seen many educators abdicating this responsibility on a regular basis, leaving ordinary Wikipedians to clean up the messes made by their students. One has to bear in mind that the community was very close to banning the use of Wikipedia for classwork before the WMF accepted a grant for the Public Policy Initiative, and they had the funding and support to maintain a limited number of classes on a specific issue, with comparatively minimal volunteer editor support. The repeated serious concerns in this area, which have been whitewashed very significantly by the WMF, raise the spectre of the Wikipedia community once again banning the use of the project for teaching purposes. The encyclopedia needs to gain something in exchange for all of the volunteer hours poured into it, and the cost/benefit ratio is not adding up at this point. There is almost zero editor retention from these programs, and the "characters added" have to be deducted from all the "characters lost" from experienced Wikipedians who spend their days fixing the problems that are created. What professors want from their students is not matching up to what is useful and valuable to Wikipedia. There is so little evidence of "net positive" that it's really hard to justify the community cost of continuing this program. Increasingly, volunteers are feeling that they are doing the work that professors and college/university TAs are being paid to do. I dearly wish that more professors and teachers were as wiki-knowledgeable as you, and held to the same high standards that you espouse. Unfortunately, few of them have your skills. Plagiarism is just a drop in the bucket of problems that have been seen here. Most of them come from professors who do not understand Wikipedia, narrowly focused classes that result in unbalanced articles, and class sizes in some cases much larger than the volunteer editing corps editing with a specific topoic area. And yet, the WMF and WEF continue to try to expand the program. This isn't working to anyone's advantage anymore. Risker (talk) 19:32, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
@Risker: I wasn't aware that the community was close to banning Wikipedia for classwork before the Public Policy Initiative. Can you point me to the relevant discussion(s)?--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 20:51, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
@Sage Ross (WMF): There were several discussions on the Admin noticeboard in 2009 and 2010, if not before, as professors who knew nothing about WP were assigning students here. They'd be somewhat contemporaneous to Jbmurray's first classes (which had a mitigating effect, since he was a known Wikipedian with strong community relationships and understanding of the process). I'm not in a position to do much further digging. Risker (talk) 17:02, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
(edit conflict) : JB-Although I essentially echo DGGs statement, I do have some questions to clarify what you mean. I am curious as to how the community might "shut down" the EP. 1st, are we talking about just the EP activity on or are we talking about the community asking the WMF to stop their outreach in the Global EP. As for the extension, I guess Sage could address the scope here. Is the extension limited to or does it affect other language wikis as well. Who would make the call in turning the extension off and what purpose would that serve? If all the EP related pages on were treated as a Wikiproject, then a simple solution would be to nominate the project for deletion and allow the community to decide at MfD. I think stopping or "shutting down" outreach by Wikipedians into academia might be much harder to turn off. Wouldn't there have to be a policy or guideline that discouraged such outreach and penalties for individual Wikipedians who continued conducting outreach and ambassador type activities? I think the toughest problem would be finding ways to stop academia from using Wikipedia in their educational activities (whether supported by a Wikipedian or not). Since the academic community as a whole isn't beholding to the Wikipedia community in any meaningful way, I think this aspect of shutting down the program would require some very tough community regulation to stop. The only reason I am asking these questions is that I am always trying to keep my constituents as a Campus Ambassador at Montana State University informed of what's going on in the Wikipedia Community regarding EP activities. The staff at the MSU Library continues to develop plans for more robust use of Wikipedia in support of information fluency education at the university, so I think it is only fair to keep them informed as much as possible what is being considered or planned by the Wikipedia community. --Mike Cline (talk) 19:50, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
As I see it, we cannot as a practical matter say that, from now until further notice, all editing by classes is going to be blocked. There's no basis in policy for it, at least not yet. And we are indeed better off having it happen under a still-not-yet-perfect program than having it all go under the radar. But with each passing day, it's becoming clearer and clearer to me that the editing community is coming to the view that class projects have become a net negative. I've been talking about a guideline, but maybe we should actually be working to develop a policy. Those folks who are in the program or who work for WMF really need to accept the reality that this is the emerging view in the community. The more you try to resist it, the more entrenched the hostility will become. I think it's becoming inevitable that we will come to have policies that will block entire class projects when those projects become disruptive to the community. What we should want is to only prevent disruptive editing, while not preventing good student editing. For that to happen, the program folks are going to have to accept that those are two different things (ie, that bad student editing really does exist, and is not rare), and the community is going to have to think through how to codify our expectations. --Tryptofish (talk) 20:37, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Mike, Tryptofish: No, just on, and not "until further notice," but for a limited time until the community gets its shit together. Honestly, there need to be RFCs here, for reasons I've already suggested. And Mike, this is about the present and future, not the past, though I do think that people such as Frank Schulenburg (sp?) need to hang their heads in shame at the mess they have left here. And I am seriously not impressed with the current members of the WEF. As you point out, Trypto, what I have characterized as this refusal to accept any kind of responsibility--and, with the exception of Mike, this refusal even to engage--has turned the editing community against the program, and increasingly against any kind of student editing. This is silly, and a tragic waste. I believe strongly that student editing is a "net positive" (though these are not the terms I prefer to use). But amid this mismanagement and bungling it's hard to see this. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 16:24, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I agree with you that RfCs are in order, and would be very helpful at this stage. But I'll also say that any suspension should come after a community consensus to that effect should be reached, and therefore should not come before the RfCs. And as a quibble about wording, I never said, myself, that there is a "refusal to accept any kind of responsibility"; those are your own words. --Tryptofish (talk) 17:03, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, Tryptofish, I didn't mean to put words in your mouth. I'm editing to try to make that clear. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:36, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

All I am asking for is that instead of putting more money into encouraging more students / universities to edit. They hire us two programmers to work full times on a "copy and paste" detector. And a ref formatter. We do not need to encourage schools to join Wikipedia. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 20:42, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

By the way have just discovered that a textbook used at supposedly thousands of universities is based on Wikipedia [24] Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 20:45, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Strong support for a Turn-it-in-like bot. And for a bot that could check citations for PMIDs, and flag their absence (we already have Citation Bot for basic formatting). --Tryptofish (talk) 20:48, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
I do not think shutting down the program is possible. But if we the community are running the program than we the community should be getting the cash to do so and deciding how that cash is spent. Why does the WEF need a ED? What they need is a programmer. We do not need more bureaucracy to pretending they are managing us. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 20:53, 25 November 2013 (UTC)
Doc James, the WEF is not a part of the community, per Mike Christie, if I remember correctly. They are a paid bureaucracy that will only respond to Wikipedia policies and guidelines, in my opinion (and perhaps only if the community has to waste volunteer energy in trying to enforce those policies and guidelines, it appears). It's just another "gift" to us from the WMF, I guess. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 09:59, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

The conversation above makes it sound like something has changed. When I said above that the community runs the EP (referring to the on-wiki activity), I didn't think of it as a change, as Jbmurray is interpreting it. As far as I'm concerned, it's always been the case that what happens on Wikipedia is managed by the community. I'm not aware that the WMF regarded things differently -- perhaps they did, but I never have. The community owns community activity. As Choess put it further up the page: "The EP is sort of an informal phenomenon: it's the surface of contact between Wikipedia and academia". What the WMF has done in the past is run the off-wiki aspects. By definition this is difficult for the community to do, and the WEF is taking on that role. Why is this a change? Does anyone really think that the WMF "controlled" on-wiki behaviour in the past, or that it wasn't possible for the community to agree on policies to address student editing? That the community's opinion was irrelevant? I am genuinely surprised. The definition of what the community controls seems basic to my conception of Wikipedia, and I can't imagine what Jbmurray and Doc James thought was the case in the past. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 22:41, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Mike, this is a change, and not a small one. As I have shown above (and could continue to show with further quotations), previously all the talk was of the WMF first "running" or being "responsible" for the Education Program, and then passing that responsibility on to an entity that would be the outcome of the working group. You got funds on that basis from the WMF. What is remarkable to me is that you are now so very uncomfortable with that language. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 23:12, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

So Mike will you help convince the WEF to hire a programmer instead of an ED to take on these two programing tasks? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 23:54, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

I agree that a Turnitin-like program could be a useful tool (although certainly not a panacea). However, I don't think that taking the money we have budgeted for an ED to hire programmers is a wise choice. The ED will be helping to, among other things, raise money and establish a strategic plan for the WEF. If we take that $70k and hire a programmer (we'd only be able to afford one) we may or may not get a working copyvio tool in 7 months (the duration of the grant). Even if the tool could be built in 7 months, we'd be out of cash at the end of that time. I think a better course would be a hire an ED so that we could secure funding to pursue a number of projects, one of which may be a copyvio tool. For now, this request may be better made of the WMF. What do you think, @Ragesoss:? Pjthepiano (talk) 05:14, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
I'd love to be able to fund this, but I agree with PJ that we can't do it with the money we currently have granted. If we can find an organization willing to fund this would be a good project for us to pursue; as PJ says, though, it might be quicker via the WMF. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 05:17, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Is the WEF willing to put serious effort into raising funds to hire a programmer / manage a programmer to take this on? There are already volunteers working on it but we need someone also working full time. Funds of course could come from the WEF or other sources.
By the way what projects is the WEF planning on taking on now? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 07:05, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Given the limited funds and limited enthusiasm at WEF, let me suggest an alternative way to get to the same result. We have plenty of volunteer users who enjoy creating bots and other software, and who might well do it for free. How about starting a discussion at the Village Pump, Technical? We might get volunteers, or we might get consensus for a "Bugzilla" request to the WMF developers. --Tryptofish (talk) 17:07, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
We already have some people working on it here WP:Turnitin. I am sure they would be happy to have more volunteers jump on in. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 17:26, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Best practice in any classroom is to have students submit to SafeAssignment or Turnitin. The students should simply make a plain text file or Word file and submit. If problematic, the person running the class should remove the offending material. This works, done it. It's simple and easy. Again, my 2 cents. Victoria (talk) 17:31, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

That's true, but it assumes that the instructor will cooperate in doing so. If we recommend it, but the instructor does not incorporate it into the assignment, nothing happens. --Tryptofish (talk) 17:34, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Many schools also object to Turnitin, and categorically forbid its use. Of course, when it's CC-BY-SA text on Wikipedia, we can turnitin. Kevin Gorman (talk) 17:39, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
(edit conflict)Instructors shouldn't have to do this. The students upload, the instructors simply check the results and grade accordingly. The gap would occur if the instructor got a bunch of bad results (which happens) and don't alert us, but it's not really any different that the enormous percentage of plagiarized articles we already have and are added on a daily basis. The instructors should alert us - that should be built in, but better on our end would be to do what we always do and check for copy-vio when a new article is created. Victoria (talk) 17:45, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
Adding: yes, Turnitin and SafeAssignment are controversial, but it's not our responsibility to check for plagiarism more than we normally would. If this is to work, we must follow normal Wikipedia editing practices and instructors/profs must follow their own classroom policies. The two might not overlap. Victoria (talk) 17:45, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
I'd prefer we check for plagiarism far more rigorously than we normally do. As far as I can tell, we normally don't check for plagiarism. I can find ten 100% plagiarized articles in ten minutes. I know this because I tried, several times. Plagiarism of an absolute epidemic on Wikipedia, and not just with students. It's kind of the elephant in the room: if anyone admits how bad it is projectwide, it suddenly becomes a problem too big for us to deal with, so most people just ignore its existence. Kevin Gorman (talk) 17:58, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Because Wikipedia content is mirrored so widely and is incorporated into many textbooks the only way copy and paste can be detected is at the moment the edit is made. It is very hard to determine after the fact. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 18:00, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Discounting Wikipedia mirrors is pretty trivial. First, they're usually obvious. Second, it almost always becomes apparent if you look at how the Wikipeda page was constructed. Snippets added bit by bit over years? cool, someone else is plagiarizing us. A giant block of text just dropped in that also happens to be found in a journal article from 1995? Not so much. If you don't believe me, when I get home on Friday, I'd be happy to literally demonstrate. A huge chunk of Wikipedia is plagiarized, we're just too lazy or scared to find it. That's not at all to excuse student plagiarism (I've gotten student plagiarists expelled, and won't work with professors who don't adopt strict and enforced anti-plagiarism codes generally,) just pointing it out that large swathes of Wikipedia are pretty much also just plagiaried. Kevin Gorman (talk) 18:06, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
(edit conflict) x 2! I am aware of all these things! I've scrubbed more pages than either of you can imagine, have cleaned CCIs - I am not a novice here. Nor am I in the classroom. I'm unwatching because I've been bringing WP very successfully into the classroom for more than four years, I have ideas, good ideas, and since I began speaking with people about them four years ago, they've been shot down. I gave a suggestion - no more, no less. Not here to argue. Victoria (talk) 18:08, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Update from Wiki Education Foundation 25 November 2013

Adrianne Wadewitz (Wikipedia user name Wadewitz, previously Awadewit) has joined the board of the Wiki Education Foundation, effective today, 25 November 2013. She will be taking the open Wikipedian board seat. The board is very glad to have Adrianne join us. Thanks to everyone who nominated or suggested names for this open slot. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 04:36, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Adrianne is obviously an excellent addition to the Board, as I mentioned in nominating her. I hope the other two slots are filled speedily, and that the process is rather more transparent. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 06:45, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
I am glad jbmurray is happy. I should learn more about Wadewitz' contributions to Wikipedia. Thank you, WEF, for moving forward on this. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 09:51, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
I've listed the most significant ones on my userpage, but feel free to ask me any questions you have. I've done an assortment of content work, peer reviews, gender gap outreach, and work on the education program. Wadewitz (talk) 18:14, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
I agree, this is an excellent appointment. -- Colin°Talk 12:34, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
@Wadewitz: I am so happy you've joined the board! Glad to have your voice in the group and your expertise in not only teaching with Wikipedia but supporting others in doing so. We are lucky to have you join us! Jami (Wiki Ed) (talk) 19:17, 26 November 2013 (UTC)


Thanks, Sage, for this: Wikipedia:Training/For educators/Other topics 3. I hope that all the other editors who are active at this board see how responsive this is to our concerns, and recognize that we are in fact being listened to. --Tryptofish (talk) 01:06, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

Development of the extension

How could I possibly talk to the developer about the extension development? Could we get an update about that? I want to make sure the community is represented in this round of development. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 19:47, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

There are some changes recently committed that give a pretty good idea of what he's been working on so far. In the three months that he has to work on it, we're going to try to tackle as many as possible of the common complaints and improvement requests from users of the extension. If you want to talk with Andrew, his userpage is probably a good start: User:AndyRussG. We also work regularly in #wikipedia-en-ambassadors connect. Practically speaking, I'm acting as the product manager on this, so if you want to lobby for particular development priorities or pass along concerns from other editors that we might not be aware of, I'm your person.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 20:19, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
Great. Thanks Sage. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 20:33, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
Hi, all... The list of bugs assigned to me also shows more or less what we've focused on so far. Right now I'm working out some details of a patch for bug 56005.--AndyRussG (talk) 21:17, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
I'd like to encourage all participants to take a look at the list of bugs in AndyRussG's reply. Bugs in a bug tracker are a developer's todo list and if you/we want to get things done at the developer level we have to get used to working with them (yes, I know it's a hassle because it's off wiki). Stuartyeates (talk) 21:31, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. This is definitely on my to-do list, but I'm thankful Sage is acting as the product manager. Sage, this type of software would allow me to assemble a subset of my favorite WP:MED editors to see what they are up to and how we could collaborate in real time, right? That's a big thing I want. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 21:52, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
Here's another person saying that they like collaborating and seeing what people within their WikiProject are up to. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 13:30, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
Developing general tools for collaboration for WikiProjects and the like are outside the scope of this extension.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:19, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
But this extension could be easily adapted to foster WikiProject collaboration. How can we (the community) get the scope of the extension expanded? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 14:40, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
And are you speaking of the old extension, the one under development, or both? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 14:41, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
If there are WikiProjects that really want to use course pages to track activity, that's fine, and some of the things the extension does may be useful to leverage in other contexts later on. (We've started thinking about this, in terms of what a more general Course Pages 2.0 would look like, but that would likely not be the current extension.) But it's not practical to try to stretch the scope of the extension now, considering that there's so much room for improvement with just its main purpose of facilitating education projects.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:50, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
Who can I talk to at WMF about this further? I was under the impression that stretching the scope was part of the strategic vision. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 14:56, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
As Steven Walling noted, the Growth team is tentatively planning to build a more general replacement later on. However, they have several other large projects to tackle first. The current work focused just on fixing bugs and addressing some of the main shortcomings in the current extension.--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 15:10, 8 November 2013 (UTC)
Got it. I guess I can ping Steven to get an idea of the timeline, then. Thanks Sage. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:37, 8 November 2013 (UTC)

─────────────────────────Placeholder. About to send an email. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:19, 14 November 2013 (UTC)

Placeholder again. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 17:22, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
Again. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 11:23, 27 November 2013 (UTC)


            • MEDRS is only a part of the solution. It gives the rules, but what's needed is a presentation of those rules to instructors considering having their students work on medical articles, in a format, and via a channel, that they will pay attention to. That means more than sending a link to MEDRS; it means explaining a good deal of context, and providing supporting evidence from successful and unsuccessful classes, and presenting the material in a way that they find convincing. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:18, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
              I've been out all afternoon and will catch up soon, but just saw this post. Mike, is there something not up to snuff with what we already wrote at: Wikipedia:ASSIGN#Editing medicine and health topics? Because if that isn't clear, someone will need to explain where the problem is. I'll be back later to catch up, but from the work I've seen, it appears that neither the profs nor the students are reading that. Has that page been given to profs? You know "we" (those of us regular editors who have been concerned for a long time) put effort into that page as a place for dealing with the recurring issues, but if they aren't getting it, or aren't even reading it. If it isn't clear to a non-medical person, please let us know where, why, etc. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:28, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
              WP:ASSIGN, good though it is, (and ignoring for the moment that fact that it is only an essay at the moment, not a guideline) is in a format that is not particularly easy for instructors to absorb. I'd like to hear from those with teaching experience on this point, but I don't think the formats that work for the editing community internally -- text heavy, link heavy, acronym laden, and dense -- are likely to work well on instructors. If I were to strike up a conversation with an instructor at a pub and discover that they were planning a medical class on Wikipedia, ASSIGN is something I'd hand to them at the end of the conversation, as a summary and reference, not at the start.
              By the way, I'm not ignoring your comments about a press release; I've been thinking about it. I don't see how to make it work, though. For a start, I don't think the WEF has the cachet for anyone to pay attention to a press release just yet, so it's not an option for us. The WMF might get attention, but what would you have it say? That Wikipedia doesn't want students editing medical articles? That would have to be the community's consensus opinion, and I doubt that it is. Even if that changes, I don't see the release doing much good -- first, it would have to actually generate publicity to have any effect, which would quite likely attract more classes; and secondly I'm not sure how biddable academics are. And it would have to be nuanced to make clear that there are exceptions, such as Doc James' current project, the details of which I don't recall, but which someone else might link to. Anyway, I don't see how to make it a positive outcome. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:45, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
              hmmmm ... well, I'm no prose master (understatement :), so I'm not the one to help tune up WP:ASSIGN. We thought we had done what was needed :( Doc James UCSF thingie is at: Wikipedia:WikiProject Medicine/UCSF Elective 2013. Again, no prose master, but it's hard for me to imagine that someone like Jbmurray couldn't figure out how to improve that claptrap blog post put out by Jami M (after the psych class debacle in Canada, no less, which is what makes it so insulting!) in a way that would at least mention that there are differences in editing medical content, and a sentence or two more on that, so that we didn't have every Tom, Dick and Mary suddenly dipping in to medical articles. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:53, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
              Mike, as one of the two main perpetrators of WP:ASSIGN (along with Biosthmors), I'm very interested in (and taken by surprise by) your assessment of it as being too oriented towards experienced editors, and insufficiently readable for instructors. It's true that there are lots of blue links there, as everywhere else here, but I don't see it as being jargon-y or lengthy in a way that someone with a faculty appointment would find puzzling (although I can imagine an instructor who just does not care not bothering with it). But I'm going to go back and try to see if there are ways I can fix it. I would welcome you or anyone else pointing out anything specific that might be a problem in the writing. Also, of course, we will need to develop a guideline page, separate from the existing essay/information page. And perhaps, as the community comes to have more widely-accepted and established expectations about instructors and students, those expectations will find their way into future versions of the user-friendly materials authored by the WMF. --Tryptofish (talk) 18:45, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
              I think WP:ASSIGN is in pretty good shape. There are always improvements one could suggest, but improving the text isn't going to fix the problem I see. When I said that if I met a professor by chance in a pub, ASSIGN is the last thing I'd hand them, I meant that I would hand it to them and expect them to read it and follow its advice, but only when they were ready to receive it. Professors think they already know how to teach, how to use sources, how to construct text, how to write encyclopedically, and how the coverage of a topic should be divided. For them to believe that there are things they don't know about running a class on Wikipedia -- things that could cause them or their students extra work, or which could create problems for their assignments or for Wikipedia -- they need to believe that the person or organization telling them that is more knowledgeable about it than they are. Do you recall Steve Joordens' reaction to the invective about him posted here? It wasn't until Philippe Beaudette spoke to him over the phone that Joordens changed his mind; and with all due respect to Philippe, to whom I think we're all grateful for that intervention, it was surely because he is a WMF employee and not a Random Internet Person, as we all no doubt appear to be in the eyes of professors like Joordens. That's the problem that ASSIGN doesn't address -- how do we maximize the chance that when it gets into a professor's hands, it is taken seriously? We know the audience that ASSIGN is intended to reach, but there's work to be done to get the audience ready to accept it. Sandy, you say somewhere else on this page that if a professor can't cognitively deal with ASSIGN we don't want them on Wikipedia. What I'm saying is that it is not a cognitive issue. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:59, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
              Mike, thanks! That is an excellent insight! Like a couple of other editors active on this noticeboard, I'm both an experienced editor and, in real life, a long-time tenured professor, so I can see exactly what you are talking about, now that you have pointed it out to me. I'm going to give some serious thought to how we can revise ASSIGN to help make it something that is less likely to be blown off. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:45, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
              I just looked at WP:ASSIGN again, and ... surprise not. I was in there a year ago when it was new and started as a page specifically to address the kinds of issues we were seeing then, and are seeing worse today. This is what it looked like the last time I edited it. The article that we started a year ago turned into another promotional piece for the program, instead of something to deal with the issues, and grew much too long, and no wonder it's not being read. And no, that is not Tryptofish's fault-- look at who all was in there. We had a clear reason for and need for writing that page, expressed a year ago, but like everything else on Wikipedia, the "anyone can edit" turned it into something that everyone got a piece of, and now no one reads because it is too long, trying to do too much, and promoting instead of advising on the specific problems that need urgent attention. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:11, 22 November 2013 (UTC)


I'm actually quite tired of all of this complaining about student edits. Student editors are no different from other editors who are learning to use Wikipedia - they make lots of mistakes. We need to encourage professors to create assignments where students learn from those mistakes, yes, but it doesn't help to have Wikipedians who are unwilling to engage with students just because they are students. I looked at that sandbox article. If someone had come to Wikipedia and written that after being here after a few weeks, I'd be really happy - that is someone we can work with. Moreover, it is information someone else can work with even if the editor disappears. When did we develop the idea that every piece of information, every sentence, every article needed to be perfect as it was added to the encyclopedia? Why do we think that somehow every edit added by Wikipedians who have been around for years is amazing? I've seen some horribly unreliable editing from long-standing editors, so let's dispense with that fallacy. Adding information to a stub/start article is almost always bonus and it will slowly get better. Wadewitz (talk) 20:03, 19 November 2013 (UTC)

I agree, and this was more or less the substance of the original discussion [[25]]. Moreover, I think this is a fundamental part of the Wikipedia ethos, and what makes it different from (and far more successful than) the Nupedia project. Which is not to say that we should tolerate any old shit. But the barriers for editing can (and should) be relatively low. I'm not sure I'm entirely convinced that this basic principle should be different for certain sections of the encyclopedia (Medicine, for instance) as opposed to others. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 07:49, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
And there we have a clear difference between someone who edits in literature and someone who edits in medicine. I don't think bad literature articles ever hurt anyone. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:05, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
@Sandy, purely curiosity on my part. Do we have any evidence that poorly written medical articles have actually hurt some one? Or is this just an apprehension? --Mike Cline (talk) 23:50, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for asking, Mike, and prepare for TLDR :) I will also expand on my earlier, hurried response to Awadewit.

Awadewit seems to be saying that the poorly sourced student medical essays are OK for a start and early versions of articles don't have to be perfect. She is basically saying we are asking for too much perfection with respect to core sourcing policies. (The irony being that this is coming from an editor who pushed through extremely stringent sourcing requirements at FAC which are by the way mostly ignored today.)

Verifiability is one of the five pillars of Wikipedia-- a core policy. Our reliable source guideline (WP:RS) gives guidance on how to apply that policy to general articles, while our medical sourcing guideline (WP:MEDRS) gives guidance on how to apply Verifiability policy to medical and health content.

To argue that we should accept medical content that does not meet our WP:V policy is the same as arguing that we should accept general content that is sourced to blogs, tabloids, commercial or quack websites.

Now, perhaps in the literature realm, they do that. Maybe no one cares if Shakespeare was real. In the medical realm, quackery has consequences, and medical editors take that seriously. Apparently the rest of the Project does as well, because MEDRS did not gain guideline status until it got widespread exposure and support.

Another problem is that there are probably less than three dozen editors trying to hold down the fort with medical editing, so when professors unleash students to edit without even educating them about our medical sourcing policy, or even reading the info we have already provided and asking them to look up articles in PubMed and provide PMIDs and make sure they are using secondary reviews, the few of us who are doing most of the work are taxed. And the Project loses the opportunity for students to do it right, and for all of us to have an enjoyable experience.

To your specific question, Mike Cline, first, before I give you examples-- a generality. Even if I didn't have an example, should we wait for one to happen? I don't think you want to, nor would you expect those of us who edit in that area, to be splashed across the front page of the New York Times because harm came to someone as a result of something that could be traced back to our edits.

I don't know about you, but when I first came to Wikipedia, WP:BLP was not policy, and WP:MEDRS was not guideline. I remember the difficulty and the battles at Brian Deer, Andrew Wakefield, the entire suite of autism-related articles, and specifically, MMR vaccine controversy. What remains of the same core group of medical editors who had to deal with that mess-- trying sometimes in vain to keep the quackery out-- are some of the same editors still dealing with reliable sourcing in medical articles today. We have weekly examples at WT:MED of bad, bad information in medical content, and only a handful of folks who can and will deal with it.

If you do not think medical misinformation in mass media can kill, then please read MMR controversy#Media role and the rest of the article from MMR controversy#Disease outbreaks. Many of the same editors that Awadewit seems to think are expecting too much had to deal with the earlier versions of those articles, when we did not have policy or guidelines we could enforce. I'm not aware of anyone dying in the debate over Shakespeare. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:22, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Wadewitz "Wikipedians who are unwilling to engage with students just because they are students", put User talk:Sarmocid/sandbox as but one small example in your pipe and smoke it, because whatever you're smoking, we should all get some. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:45, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Agree with Sandy. I have seen kids infected as their parents did not get them immunized because of the press that Wakefield got. Mis information kills when that mis information pertains to medicine. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 09:56, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Wadewitz I think you are making a mistake based on your own excellent experience with your classes. The idea that student editors are no different from other newbies needs to be stamped out. It is a fundamentally harmful concept and is leading to the trashing of Wikipedia by profs who don't edit here and have no clue how it works. Typically the students don't learn from mistakes because they don't hang around and their instructors aren't any more clued up. We aren't avoiding them because they are students -- we don't interact because by the time anyone notices the edits in articlespace, the student has gone. They do all their sandboxing without interacting with the community and then copy their draft onto WP and disappear. It is the exception rather than the rule that any interaction occurs. And you assume there are volunteer Wikipedians to do that interacting. The mistake-detection and corrective advice certainly isn't coming from the profs. These students often add new articles that of course nobody watches. It's just a dumping ground for poor unmaintainable articles that then rot. There are no fairies going round digging out the sources and fixing the mistakes the student makes since actually didn't have the slightest clue about what they are writing (They are doing an "Introduction to ... course, so of course they don't have a clue). There are a tiny handful of editors who detect a tiny proportion of these classes and then struggle to deal with it. Turn your "When did we develop the ideal that" question round. When did we develop the idea that adding content, no matter what quality, was all that matters? This is all the WMF has in the past boasted about. Reams of paper. War and Peace. Load of shite, frankly. When did we develop the idea that the people writing encyclopaedias should themselves be selected precisely because they are ignorant of the subject? Because that's what happens when 1st-year undergraduates doing an "Introduction to" subject are set an assignment here. I'm sure there is a small part of the education program that is producing valuable content, but mantras like "anyone can edit", "no different to newbies" and "more information is almost always better" are harmful to critical thinking on the issue Colin°Talk 11:52, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Hear, hear. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 12:34, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
@Sandy. Thanks for the comprehensive answer. It helps me understand your concerns even more. TLDR doesn’t faze me a bit and I hold little respect for those who chant it as an excuse not to listen to others in comprehensive discussions. Taking a bit more analytical, less emotional approach to finding a solution, I’d like to examine this from a risk-cost to solve viewpoint. There is no doubt in my mind that poor medical information makes its way into WP medical articles. (That’s a direct by-product of the “anyone can edit” philosophy that is a foundational pillar of WP.) So for discussion sake, I’ll say there is a high probability that WP medical articles may contain poor or inaccurate medical content at some point. But, the more important question in my mind, what is the likelihood that such poor medical content in Wikipedia has been or is likely to be directly responsible for personal behavior that is harmful (the hurt as you call it). My guess, based on the lack of even one tangible example, is that the likelihood or probability is actually very, very low. You will get no argument from me that the medical industry has in the past generated medical information that either was knowingly false or misleading or knowingly might cause some “hurt” if it was acted upon. The MMR vaccine controversy you linked to is a good example of that. As far as I can tell from reading the article, the cause of the “hurt” wasn’t that the poor or false information was in Wikipedia, but because it was being promulgated by elements of the medical industry itself. The fact that at some point that bad information may have been in Wikipedia can’t be used to attribute the hurt to Wikipedia without direct evidence demonstrating it did. With WP:MEDRS, the WP community acted in a rational way to mitigate the risk of including poor medical content in WP articles.Mike Cline 16:27, 20 November 2013 (UTC) — continues after insertion below
Sorry for interrupting your post, but no: I need to stop you right here. That I didn't name the names of anti-vaccinationist Wikipedia editors who have blood on their hands, and could be splashed across the front page of the NYT, does not mean they don't exist or that I didn't provide you a concrete example. You are reading the current version of that article; you are disregarding the historical role Wikipedia played in that scandal before we had BLP and MEDRS. And we played a role-- and that is why we today have things like BLP and MEDRS. Responsible, knowledgeable editors had to struggle with that suite of articles before/until we had MEDRS and BLP-- and they didn't always win. Wikipedia, pre-MEDRS, pre-BLP, helped further information that led to children dying, and that is beyond what happened in the medical journals. It was because we had no teeth to enforce policy or guideline. So, what kind of editing do you want our university students to learn ? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:50, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Sandy is correct. Mike, about the misinformation coming from within the medical community, let me please point you to a counter-example: Jenny McCarthy#Autism activism. --Tryptofish (talk) 18:14, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
My point is more specific. We had identifiable editors putting an anti-vaccionationist POV into huge numbers of articles, in spite of most of us knowing it was bad science, and they could do that because we didn't have a MEDRS guideline, and we couldn't stop them from using inferior sources. If not for MEDRS, we would have never gotten a handle on that. Because of MEDRS, we were eventually able to do better than the rest of the popular media, but Wikipedia was part of the problem for some time. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:37, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
By way of transition, I want to explore a classic risk-cost scenario to explain what I am trying to get at. In Hydrology, there is what’s known as the 100 year flood line. Overtime, federal government surveyors have estimated for most watersheds, where the waters would reach during a flood that is likely to occur at least once every 100 years. This is an estimate of risk, as we all know that floods cause economic, infrastructure and human damage (hurt). It is an estimate (probability) based on historical record. The 100 year timeframe may seem long, but because the average life cycle of typical infrastructure is well over 100 years, the timeframe works well for this estimate. The 100 year flood however could happen anytime. Now if the federal government wanted to completely mitigate this risk and had a goal of no “hurt” during a 100 year flood, they would simply ban all human activity and infrastructure within the 100 year flood zone. They don’t because the “Cost” to do so isn’t commensurate with the actual risk. However, some of the risk is mitigated through higher insurance, infrastructure restrictions, limitations on federal funding of infrastructure (you can’t get a federally funded mortgage for a home in a 100 year flood zone), etc. But for most risks in human enterprise, there’s always some mitigation going on. Human activity in a 100 year flood zone costs more than the same human activity outside the zone.
Every enterprise, including Wikipedia, has their 100 year flood zones. In other words, they have risks associated with the enterprise that must be mitigated in some way. There is always something that could go wrong and cause “hurt”. But before jumping to costly solutions (mitigation always has costs in complex systems), we need to answer both these questions: What could go wrong AND how likely is this to happen? Mitigation costs need to be commensurate with the real risk otherwise, tremendous amounts of energy and resources can get expended without any commensurate return on that investment.
By way of example, we could say that because someone might act on a piece of poor medical information in WP and cause “hurt” (the probability is not zero) we need to eliminate that risk all together regardless of cost. If that was the case, a couple of simple (in concept) solutions come to mind. 1) We could eliminate all medical topics from WP. The “might happen” would now not be possible. One of the costs associated with this solution would be the absence of a certain class of knowledge in the encyclopedia. 2) The community could create a special class of expert medical editor, certified in a way that would ensure all edits to medical articles could never cause harm. They (the Owners of medical articles) would be 100% responsible for the goodness of the content. A cost associated with this approach would be the extensive community bureaucracy necessary to create and monitor such a special group of editors and the precedent established of article ownership that might creep into all areas of the encyclopedia. I am not recommending or endorsing these solutions in anyway, but if they were proposed, all I would be asking would be: Is the cost to the encyclopedia and the community that sustains it justified, given the risk the solution is trying to mitigate?
I am all for finding ways to ensure students (and any editors for that matter) who edit WP, regardless of motivation, do so in concert with our norms, guidelines and policies. I was in freshman classes at MSU yesterday doing just that. Clearly medical articles require more than usual vigilance. But let’s formulate solutions that build on existing community norms and are commensurate with the actual risk the solution is trying to mitigate instead of emotional, “the sky is falling” motivations. Again, thanks for a comprehensive answer. --Mike Cline (talk) 16:27, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
OK, and now that I've read the remainder of your post on cost/benefit analysis, I think you've presented an analogy that may help further this discussion. In terms of cost, how difficult is it for professors to understand and instruct their students to look up a PMID at PubMed, include it in their citation, and consider whether it is a secondary source? The cost is negligible; the benefits are huge, for all concerned. Less work for us, better skills learned by the students, more likelihood their text will be accepted. For only a few minutes' work. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:54, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
@Sandy, what you describing is essentially "best practice" as is the core of MEDRS. There is wide acceptance in enterprise that adoption of best practices is one of the most cost-effective methods of mitigating risk. Unfortunately, for best practice to be effective in any enterprise, they must be curated, readily accessible to those who must employ them, and finally easily adaptable to the particular risk being mitigated. Additionally, enterprises adopting a best practice rarely do so effectively unless those who must implement them understand and see the benefit of doing so. Simon Sinek's WHY if you will. We, the Wikipedia community, have the diverse expertise to formulate best practices from our perspective as it relates to the Education Program. What we lack is the ability to curate and disseminate those best practices to those who would most benefit--instructors in higher education. This is the role I trust the WEF will assume in the US and Canada. --Mike Cline (talk) 19:00, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Your analogy doesn't work. I understand your concerns not to waste effort or resist change because of a 100-year event. But "causing harm" isn't a 100-year event and it isn't even a binary does-it / doesn't it sort of thing. We provide information. People act on that information. They may make lifestyle changes or seek treatments or refuse treatments based on it. The information here influences people in all sorts of subtle ways. People come here to learn about medical conditions. If we fail to help them understand this, based on the most recent evidence-based sources, we may mislead them or confuse them. It matters hugely more that we help someone understand their breast cancer or their dad's Alzheimer's than whether we correctly describe the plot summary of some novel or explain why some historical character made some decision. Wikipedia, whether we like it or not, is a hugely important source of medical information for patients and !!! for doctors too. It is quite difficult to underestimate the importance, in fact. Far from worrying if someone every hundred years might have made a negative life-changing decision from reading Wikipedia, it is more likely that people are constantly making life-changing decisions from reading Wikipedia articles. We can struggle to nudge Wikipedia so it remains better than the Daily Mail, or we could give up and let the crackpots take over. Or let people we actually know are ignorant edit without sufficient supervision, sometimes on article topics so outside of their class scope that the prof couldn't even assess the work even if they did edit here. So, this isn't some risk analysis issue. There isn't a small probability that WP articles contain bad medical advice that causes harm. They do contain bad and outdated medical information. They do confuse our readers. So far, all the student efforts have focused on adding more unwatched and unmaintainable text to our articles. Text that at times is barely readable never mind accurate and clear. In order to keep Wikipedia a reasonable educational tool, we need editors who watchlist articles and maintain them. Who fight against the POV pushers. This program isn't growing our editor base at all. It is just making it more likely that we will have unhelpful medical articles. I'm sure we can get academia helping create great medical content, but the way it is being done right now isn't a good approach. Colin°Talk 17:02, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Yes, medical information on Wikipedia is important and should be as accurate as possible, but we cannot be held responsible for people acting on it. That is first and foremost. But even if you deny that premise, it is definitely not the only part of the encyclopedia that significantly affects people's lives. MEDRS does not have a monopoly on this problem. In fact, it is far more organized than many other parts of the encyclopedia and deals with the addition of poor information in a serious way. Pages such as Rape and Sexual harassment are visited by people wondering if they are victims or trying to find help (reading around on reddit scarily confirms this), but articles such as these don't have the protection of MEDRS. They have the protection of individual editors. In the education program, we have been making every effort to pair professors with Wikipedians so that they have someone to guide them, but there are many gaps between Wikipedia's culture and academic culture that have to be explained and overcome, such as the lack of hierarchy. More than anything, we need to find good assignments and use those as models. I understand the problems you are experiencing, but to fix them, we need to show how the assignments can be done better. Many, many more professors are interested in doing Wikipedia assignments that ever before (I get emails almost every day). It would help those of us who are trying to give advice to professors if we could point to successful projects. So, what is the most successful MEDRS project you've seen? What made it successful? Is it something different than made Jbmurray's assignment or my assignment successful? Wadewitz (talk) 18:46, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Again, I think that this is a fascinating and important discussion. One thing that struck me was Colin's reference to "keep[ing] Wikipedia a reasonable educational tool." I think that the implication here is that Wikipedia is best seen as an educational tool in terms of the advice or information it transmits to its readers. So it's a "reasonable" educational tool if the information it contains is reliable, or mostly so; if the quality of that information drops, so does its educational value drop, too.
But one of the things that most interests me about using Wikipedia in education, and I think that the WEF is trying to get at this (albeit with the very clumsy jargon of "information fluency"), is teaching students how to read Wikipedia. Because, after all, as Wadewitz says, "we cannot be held responsible for people acting on" the poor information that (as we all know) litters the encyclopedia. But perhaps we can, in our classes, try to teach people to read it better.
There are no doubt various ways to teach people how Wikipedia works. But honestly, the best way without doubt is by getting them to edit. They learn an enormous amount about how knowledge is assembled and distributed, and are given better tools to engage more critically not just with Wikipedia but with so many of the information sources that surround them.
I could say more on this, but I have to go. Yet I do think it's worth noting important differences in the ways people here are conceiving of Wikipedia's possible relationship to and use in education. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 19:32, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Well, due to the board revdel, I'm not sure where to start catching up, so ...

Yes, that's bad news about rape and sexual harassment, but other stuff exists. Wadewitz, you may have jumped in mid-thread. At the end of this thread, I highlighted the only case I know of of a decent article to result from a medical class. And that is in several years. As I pointed out there, it took a disproportionate amount of time from two established editors, we could have written more content ourselves in the same time, and we get no net benefit because these students don't return. I'm glad that doesn't bother you or Jb, who want to use my time as an instructor, but it does prevent me from building content, because my particular area of editing focus is hit over and over by students attracted to the bizarre, like klazomania-- the article I had to clean up and write several terms ago, after students took on a topic that means nothing to no one but is part of the Tourette syndrome suite of articles.

Back to your point on rape, sexual assault, etc and the earlier queries about actual harm: even something as apparently inoffensive as "up to 50% of individuals with ADHD may have substance abuse disorders" can be terribly damaging to the parent of a recently-diagnosed child if they come across that information and don't know anything about how solid the sample is, what sort of ascertainment bias in samples led to that statement, whether treatment affects outcome, whether there is solid medical consensus on the relationship between substance abuse and ADHD, etc. OK, nobody's going to die, but we have a responsibility nonetheless to try to get it right. I'm sorry if you don't understand, but even when people may or may not die, medical articles affect real people. We are not here to teach students who generate no meaningful content, do not return, and take inordinate amounts of our time. And, let's suppose we are: all we ask is that they use secondary sources, look 'em up on PubMed, give us a PMID so we can verify without having to do hours of work before we discover that the several dozen sandboxes dropped in yesterday by the Georgia course will virtually all have to be merged, AFD'd, or extensively cleaned up.

Further, and worse, I came to this board with a test case, so we could all determine what we are going to do about Potter and his bad articles, and guess what? The problem will be left to a few medical editors to clean up, because all that crap dumped in yesterday is still sitting there. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:18, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

Model Class?

I thought I'd look at the class done by Wadewitz last year to see what positive things made it work. The class is Wikipedia:United States Education Program/Courses/Adolescent Literature Spring 2012 (Adrianne Wadewitz). At first glance, the class follows a common pattern. The students get accounts, make some test edits, use sandboxes, edit their article over the space of about two weeks, and then disappear. Forever. Do they interact with Wikipedian's outside of the class group (instructor, online ambassador, campus ambassador, fellow classmates)? No, they don't. Did the Wikipedia's uninvolved volunteer community help these students with their work? No, it didn't. Did any of the students get thanked for their additions by uninvolved Wikipedian's. Yes a few. But these thank-you's went mostly unacknowledged. The user-contributions bear all the hallmarks of student editors and none of volunteer editors.

So what made this class work? Could it be that the instructor is probably one of the most talented Wikipedian's we've ever had? That if you were going to have a class editing young-adult literature articles on Wikipedia, there is nobody in the world more qualified and better able to lead it? Could it also be that three of the four class ambassadors were also highly experienced Wikipedians who edited for years before this class and are still very active today? This class was self-supporting and had great experienced leadership. It wasn't a drain on the volunteer base. It left behind good, well sourced content. The assignment wasn't beyond the abilities of the students (as is frequently the case with medical/bioscience undergraduates). The articles were clearly in need of expansion and so the new material met a clear need. Too many classes have utterly inexperienced and uninvolved instructors and assistants. They come to WP expecting an army of Wikipedians will drop everything and become unpaid classroom assistants, unpaid police detecting plagiarism and unpaid janitors cleaning up afterwards.

I would be interested to know if any of these students became Wikipedians. They didn't use their student accounts beyond the assignment, but possibly created others. It would be encouraging to hear, because if Wadewitz can't inspire her students to edit here, there is no hope for Wikipedia. Colin°Talk 13:14, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Did any of User:Jbmurray's students continue editing? Even one who turns into a Wikipedian would be a success. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 13:29, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
I've asked this question many times over the years, and as far as I know, that answer is "no". SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:24, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
I think we have to recognize that the goal of Wikipedia assignments is not to create new users - and that is ok. The assignments, if done well, are a win-win. The students learn an enormous amount about research, sourcing, writing, and the construction of knowledge. Wikipedia gets content that they would not otherwise have had, much of it good (obviously not all). Wadewitz (talk) 18:30, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Not to my knowledge, or not very significantly. Again like Wadewitz, I am not too worried about that. In part because I don't see my role as a recruitment sergeant for the encyclopaedia. Though students may be keen to be involved in other such assignments: someone came up to me just the other day, who had been in a previous class where I'd used Wikipedia, and said she'd wished we were doing the same in the current class I'm teaching. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 19:34, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
Going 'round the same circles as a year ago. Whether the goal is to attract new editors, build content, or engage in some pedagogical experiment, the effect has been to discourage and chase out experienced editors (and in the case of medicine, demotivate us because of the resulting damaged articles too numerous for us to clean up). I'm sorry to hear that you all are not very worried about that. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:18, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Sandbox issues

I would like to know what role this board intends to play in helping lower the burden on established editors when students unfamiliar with Wikipedia put this much effort into a sandbox whose result does not really belong on Wikipedia. I do not enjoy being the one who has to revert a student, so I end up spending untold days trying to clean up text that will end up marginal at best. We have students writing on topics that are over their heads, and in a format and style they are not familiar with, and they will not stay around to clean up the problems or learn from their mistakes as other editors do.

What is the role of this board, and this program, in helping lower the burden created by this program, and what suggestions do you all have for dealing with sandbox text like this? How about if I leave that sample sandbox in the competent and capable hands of the folks here, let you all figure out how to deal with it, and if unusable text is dropped into the article in a few weeks, I'll just revert. That seems fair enough as a test case for how this board can be more effective and helpful to everyone, including Wikipedia's readers. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:15, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

Generally people come to the noticeboard in one of two ways, either through a program helping students or through discovering on-wiki badness caused by students. Because the resulting two groups are essentially miscible, what 'this board intend' is anyone's guess. I'm not entirely certain that the noticeboard has any actual constructive use other than as a place for editors to vent. Stuartyeates (talk) 01:58, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
We help each other fix content and guide students. We may come up with processes to better manage the education program. We will also share successes and best practices here. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 09:59, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Education program interface

Add to all of this that the ridiculous new education program interface means I can't usually even locate a course or a professor; the stupidest move backwards I've ever seen on Wikipedia. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:15, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

@SandyGeorgia: Regarding the interface, and making it easier to find the course a student editor is in, we're working on improving that currently. We're going to try to add info about what course a student is in that will appear when you view Special:Contributions. (We are also adding the ability for users other than the student editors themselves to add a user as a student and to add articles for students, which will make it easier to keep accurate lists of both students and which articles they are working on, in some cases.)--Sage Ross (WMF) (talk) 14:20, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. I used to be able to locate a course and prof, but no longer can in most cases. It's crazy. Will someone active in this program please identify profs and courses when known in the cases I have highlighted and ping them here? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:15, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
Never mind, I dug 'em up myself (with quite a bit of unnecessary effort). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:56, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
Usually I navigate to the (redlinked) student user page and click "What links here"; that seems to work OK, although it's not pretty. Choess (talk) 22:31, 18 November 2013 (UTC)
It didn't work in most of these cases-- they aren't even interacting with their own course pages. I had to go back to old course listings I knew of and troll through them. Crazy. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:44, 18 November 2013 (UTC)

Psychosurgery et al

All the hallmarks of student editing, copyvio, but I cannot locate a course. Anybody know? Once again. We need a template for querying whether an editor is part of course. I do not have time to continue to engage, tutor, mentor, fix edits of, every student who hits my watchlist. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:27, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

Me too, about not having the time. I know I've said this before, but no one should ever feel bad about reverting when reverting is appropriate. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:34, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
yes, but, where there is one student, there are often two dozen. It would be nice to be able to find the prof/course (before they keep wasting their time and mine). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:36, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
I've had success in the past by just asking a one line question, I'm not sure we need an actual template. Tangentially, I'm starting to feel pretty okay with the idea of preventing classes from working in MEDRS areas unless they are working in close collaboration with an ambassador or other editor who has a solid understanding of our medical and non-medical content policies. Kevin Gorman (talk) 01:20, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
See the section right under this one, where the poster mentions a template. (That editor has moved on to other articles, indicating a general competency issue rather than a student competency issue.) SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:45, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

So, ANYBODY WANT TO POINT TO THAT STUDENT TEMPLATE YET ????? Because Spondylolisthesis just got hit by massive WP:MEAT, and this illustrious board can't even point to a template for querying student editors. Oh, never mind, we need to develop our own at WP:MED, that will tell them why they have to be mass reverted, point them to the poorly written WP:ASSIGN that they can't understand, and tell them about MEDRS. IN all of our free time while we are enjoying our HOBBY of contributing to Wikipedia.

Is it really too much to ask someone to put a template at the top of this page so we have a means of first talking to redlinked accounts who are clearly students, without having to dream it up ourselves dozens of times a day. SandyGeorgia (Talk)

Template:Welcome student was pointed out below, and it goes in the direction you are talking about, but it maybe could be revised to make it more emphatic. --Tryptofish (talk) 23:50, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Thank you very much, Trypto. As if we had time to even begin to review the 98 messes that were dropped on us this week from Georgia (in spite of me advising well in advance there were problems there, and yet nothing was done), they keep a coming and a template helps. This board and this program is not going to help us. I got a long email today that showed me that all of our typing and all of our effort was for nothing and the message is simply not getting through on any level. We need to develop our own template at WT:MED that does a bit of what that template does but also points them to our supposedly useless [{WP:ASSIGN]], and explains why we have to remove text that does not meet MEDRS. I put up a test case days (week?) ago about the problems coming with Georgia, and for someone to suggest that we can even begin to review and tag 98 articles (as we would "any new editor" or article) misses everything. New editors start slow and can be educated-- sometimes the ratio for educating them is 5 to 1. Here they are running hundreds of them to one of us, and well, of course we can't even engage, welcome, tag, do anything ... we cannot keep up. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:55, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

{{subst:Welcome medical student}} SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:00, 22 November 2013 (UTC)  Done This can be archived, not student editing. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:53, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

Who Runs the Education Program?

  • Not to take anything away from any of these candidates, but if the WEF is determined to be seen as not "in charge" of the "Education Program", then this is not the place for having board nominations. The WEF should have its own wiki or perhaps, at the very most, use Meta. If the WEF Board isn't responsible to English Wikipedia, then it should not be holding elections here. Risker (talk) 19:56, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
    • Well, the WEF has stated, in its by-laws, that three of its board members will be Wikipedians, and they have suggested repeatedly that there should be some kind of election process on Wikipedia to decide who will be nominated to fill those slots. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 19:59, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
    • And I think that the WEF very definitely *does* see itself as "in charge" of the Education Program, for the US and Canada. The question of WEF responsibility more generally to the community is also an interesting one. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 20:01, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
      I don't see the WEF as in charge of the EP, and don't believe anyone else in the WEF does. I would not support anyone for a board seat who saw things that way. Thanks for the nominations; all are strong candidates for the reasons you give. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 20:23, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
      Who is in charge of the EP, then? --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 20:27, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
      WP:WEF says "The Wiki Education Foundation (WEF) is a non-profit organization that in November 2013 will assume responsibility for U.S. and Canada educational institutions who want support from the education program, which was previously run by the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF)." If the program was previously run by the WMF, who is running it now?! --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 20:29, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
      Or look at User:Jami_(Wiki_Ed)'s new user page, which says "I'm the program manager for the Wiki Education Foundation, a nonprofit that runs the Wikipedia Education Program in the United States and Canada." Mike, I honestly don't know what you're saying when you suggest that the WEF is not in charge of the education program. Please explain. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 21:00, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
      I really just typed that up off the top of my head—don't give the particular language so much credit. :) I took what he said to mean that "people editing Wikipedia" cannot be controlled by anyone but themselves but can be coordinated and supported by others (which is what we aim to do). Perhaps because it's practically impossible to make people edit a certain way other than offering tips and training? I'm sure Mike will clarify when he has the chance—I know his work week has been super busy! Jami (Wiki Ed) (talk) 21:07, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
      (ec) Yes, that's wrongly phrased. I'll talk to Jami about improving that wording. To answer your question: the community runs the EP. The WEF runs the WEF -- it has resources (i.e. Jami) and we can ask her to do things such as communicate with professors and ambassadors, work on resources for classes, and so on. If those outside resources are "the EP" in your mind, then I suppose you would see the WEF as running the EP. To me the actual EP is what happens on Wikipedia. The WEF (with, eventually, Wikipedian representation on the board) can help the EP by using its resources. The WEF can't shut down the EP; the community can, so in my mind the community owns it. The WEF isn't going to advise classes to do things contrary to the community's policies; the community has no such strictures on its behaviour -- it doesn't have to care about the WEF's preferences. So the WEF is clearly in the secondary role. I'm as baffled as you are -- do you really think that I believe the WEF somehow "owns" the EP? We do have, in Jami, one of the most important resources to help manage it, but we are not the community. We're a non profit which would like to help the EP be more successful. (post ec) Thanks, Jami; can you clarify that wording on your page? It's evidently misleading as it stands. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 21:16, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
      And this is an utterly misleading edit summary, if we take seriously what Mike has just said, that he "[doesn't] see the WEF as in charge of the EP, and [doesn't] believe anyone else in the WEF does" and that he "would not support anyone for a board seat who saw things that way." For Mike, this is clearly not a matter of "minor wording." I am not impressed. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 22:09, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

(outdent) Well, no wonder that the WEF's Program Manager is as confused as I am. Let me ask you a question: do you agree with the wording here, that "The Wikipedia Education Program was established by the Wikimedia Foundation to support educators using Wikipedia in their classes. With its purpose-designed instructional literature and its network of Wikipedia Ambassadors, it has supported thousands of students who have edited the Encyclopedia under the direction of innovative professors." Is this badly phrased, too? For it seems to suggest that the EP far from being "what happens on Wikipedia."

I fear that you are going to have to do a lot of rewriting, not simply of Jami's user page, if you are going to have your definition prevail. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 21:36, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

While you're at it, do you also disagree with the wording here, which is effectively the founding charter for the working group: "So it's time for the program to grow away from the Foundation and be run by a different organization, which we're temporarily calling the Education Program Structure for lack of a better term"? --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 22:13, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

@JB – I think it is a mistake to get hung up on the variety of wording you are uncovering or on the question “Who runs the Education Program?” so I’d like to provide my perspective here as I participated significantly in the events that ultimately led to the creation of the WEF. The WMF in its wisdom funded (read budget) and sought grants for a program to promote the use of Wikipedia in Higher Education. It was a program of outreach that they named the Education Program. The outreach they funded and supported with training and other resources was to the Wikipedia Community (Ambassadors) and Universities. The “Program” focused first on the US and later expanded globally. As a result of that original outreach, a variety of infrastructure and processes evolved to support the program, this board being one of them. The WMF still has a Global Education Program. They are in charge of it. In early 2012, leadership at the WMF took on a bold experiment. They felt that the WMF Education Program was mature enough in US and Canada that the same kind of support and resources the WMF was providing to the Wikipedia Community and Higher Education could be outsourced to an independently governed and funded organization. The WEF, a 401c(3) non-profit entity was the result. The only real statement of any import here is this from the WEF by-laws: The Corporation will support innovative uses of and content creation for Wikipedia and related projects in communities of teaching, learning and inquiry by encouraging collaboration among Wikipedia editors, educators, researchers and students. The Corporation will enhance information fluency, improve the breadth, scope, and quality of Wikimedia content and increase the number and diversity of contributors to the free knowledge movement. I am not speaking for the WEF here, but it is my opinion that the WEF does not run or own the Wikipedia “Education Program” on en.wikipedia, just as, I think, no one or no entity (other than maybe the WMF) owns or runs any program or project on en.wikipedia. What I believe is the right answer here, and I believe the WEF as currently governed (with Wikipedia, Academic and WMF representation on the board) would probably agree with is this. The WEF has a vested interest in the success of educational outreach in the US and Canada in support of Wikipedia. They should and I believe will be responsible in that outreach to ensure the outreach is consistent with the norms of the Wikipedia Community, that the outreach meets the needs of Wikipedia community and academic stakeholders and that actions by various stakeholders groups as a result WEF outreach are consistent with the norms of Wikipedia and academia. In a sense they are the local chamber of commerce and tourist bureau rolled into one. They don’t run the town (the mayor, city council and sheriff does that), but they do foster prosperity and cooperation for the benefit of business and tourists, etc. As a member of the Wikipedia community, I believe sincerely that it is the community’s responsibility to establish whatever policies, guidelines or other guidance it deems necessary to effectively deal with education related contributions and behavior. The WEF can be a great ally in ensuring our norms are understood and leveraged properly, but they aren’t responsible for establishing them or enforcing them. That is a community responsibility. --Mike Cline (talk) 23:30, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Jbmurray, I agree with Mike's comment above, but just to be sure I'm being clear I'm going to say it again in my own words. The confusion is because the words "Education Program" are being used to mean two different things. One usage (which is in the pages you cite) is the overall set of activities -- on-wiki activities, campus ambassadors, class time with professors, WMF staff time, and, starting this week, WEF staff time. That's a reasonable definition of "Education Program", but it's not what I meant, and I can see that it wasn't clear. What I meant was the on-wiki part -- edits, including the policies that govern those edits. That's the community's responsibility. I'm pretty sure we agree on that. The WEF could do any number of things that impact the on-wiki part of the education program, but ultimately it's just a non-profit with a mission, and as such has no control whatsoever over the on-wiki part. I guess I thought this was clear because it would have just seemed too bizarre to claim any "control", whatever that would mean, over the on-wiki activities of classes. I do think, having read your comments, that the language you are pointing to in various documents ("the WEF runs the EP") is going to give many people the wrong impression, and in particular is almost certain to be interpreted wrongly by anyone who doesn't understand Wikipedia, so yes, that needs to be reworded. To me, "running" it meant running the coordinating activities necessary to the EP -- liaison with professors and so on.
To reiterate: the WEF runs the WEF, and it will do so with the intention of helping the EP (defined in either the narrow or broad sense; in this context both are true). I'm sorry about the misunderstanding, but I hope that this clarification is to your liking. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:41, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Just so we're clear here, then: the WEF is an organization. The EP is sort of an informal phenomenon: it's the surface of contact between Wikipedia and academia. Right? Choess (talk) 14:35, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Almost right. Indeed the WEF in an independent "organization". But the EP is actually two things: 1) At the WMF level it is a funded, global program of outreach to academia. 2) At the en.Wiki level, it is a community program (Wikiproject?)run by volunteers (not much different than FAC, DYK, AFC, AFD, etc.) that facilitates on-wiki collaboration between Wikipedians, students and instructors. --Mike Cline (talk) 15:24, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
Well, with all this redefinition and rewriting (and much more still to be done), it looks as though in your opinion that by the back door we've essentially come up with the solution that User:DGG proposed many moons ago: turning the EP into a WP Project. I don't think that this is how the WMF envisaged things, or still envisages things (hence Jami's confusion; she thought she would continue to run the Program, but now via the WEF rather than the WMF). I understand why you're doing this, but still. If only we'd known before, we could have been a little more prepared for the transition of two days ago. An RFC is now rather urgently needed. Two perhaps: one on the EP; another on what to do with the WEF. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:14, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
@Choess:, yes, I think that's a good way to put it. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:14, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

Perhaps most significantly, the terms of the grant provided by the WMF suggest the WEF's responsibility for the Education Program. See [26]: "In June 2013 the WMF will transfer responsibility for the education program to the Wiki Education Foundation (WEF)." Now that the WEF wants to decline that responsibility, perhaps that grant should be rethought. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:16, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

The allocation of responsibilities among the WMF, the WEF, and the community of volunteers should very much continue to be a topic of constructive conversation among all stakeholders, as it is important that we continue to clarify how WEF can best carry out its mission. Note that WEF has shared goals with WMF and the community, but is, at present, an independent and unaffiliated 501c3. The WMF's current strategic plan led it to discontinue the work in the US and Canada that it started with the public policy educational initiative; its intention in spinning off the WEF was for WEF to take up some of the activities the WMF would no longer be doing. However, there remain issues and areas where further discussions about respective responsibilities of various stakeholders would be useful. For example, the WMF produces resources of value to education programs everywhere; however, the WEF should appropriately step in where it is able, where there are gaps not filled by the WMF or others, and where it can realistically and appropriately play a useful role. DStrassmann (talk) 18:45, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
@JB One of the reasons I don’t get too hung up over some of the confusing language is this. The whole process of moving from a WMF programmatic initiative (the US Public Policy Project) to an independent outsourced entity (the WEF) to carry on elements of the initiative that became known as the “Education Program” that needed to be sustained was a first for the WMF. There was no precursor to what’s gone on here. I was asked by Frank Schulenburg to help the initial working group come up with a plan to start this transition. We made up the rules and methodology as we went because there was no precedent. We tried very hard to gather as many diverse perspectives from both inside the working group and from outside stakeholders as we moved forward. The working group eventually got to the point where the WEF was the result. Whatever the language said or intended to say, the WMF granted the WEF some initial funding. When I left the nascent WEF board, it was for a variety of reasons, but at the time I had some very good conversations with Frank and others at the WMF on how this transition could have been done better, more quickly and more importantly, how it could have been more responsive to all stakeholder groups concerns and requirements. I learned a lot and if I was asked to do this again, there are definitely certain things I would insist be done differently. I am not surprised at all that there is a lack of clarity, consistency or uniform understanding in the language used in various documents and discussions. It’s the hallmark of our cloud sourced encyclopedia. That said, I am all about the future as there is little value in beating ourselves up over the past. What does the Wikipedia Community want its Education Program to be? is an important question. What role does the Wikipedia Community want the WEF to play in that program? is an important question. The WEF is now an external stakeholder in this EP enterprise and must be treated as such and they must recognize the needs of one of their external stakeholders, the Wikipedia community. --Mike Cline (talk) 18:49, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
from my point of view, and it may not be the POV of anyone else, the necessary role of the EP is to handle those aspects that need a formal organization, which is mainly to raise money and do the things that require money: hold events and workshops, possibly support internships or faculty participation, possible help obtain access to resources. Why this is being done as a separate organization rather than the WMF is not at the moment relevant, though I have my own opinions. Everything else , such as training and certifying ambassadors and courses, could be equally well done by the EF or by a wikiproject. It would be possible for a wikiproject to do it on its own in the usual WP semi-organised fashion, but then it would lose the benefit of those things needing financial support, which have to be done by a self-funding group or a group that the FDC would support. On the other hand, the EP by itself can not do anything except provide background support unless it gets done on WP by the WP expectations. One grey area is doing the coordination of the individual classes and ambassadors and students. The problem (as mentioned) is that at the level of individual classes anyone can do any of this they care to on their own, and many faculty do, which limits the effectiveness of whatever group is theoretically running it. Another grey area is the critical one of recruiting individual faculty, which so far seems only feasible by individual persuasion, and it is at least hoped that the EP can do it effectively. DGG ( talk ) 19:41, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

If they are the ones with the money maybe the WEF could fund this [27]. If done my hesitance about the EP would be significantly lessoned. Other tool needed is to convert refs students add to cite templates based on PMIDs / ISBNs. Trying to get students to do it themselves has not succeeded. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 13:43, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

  • As someone who has spent a few years as a board member of nonprofits and currently serves on the board of a 501(c)(3), I find Mike Cline's overview confusing. The basic question here is who can hire and fire the employees and has a fiduciary duty. I'm guessing that the 401(c)(3) referred to is a 501(c)(3). If these board members are taking on a fiduciary duty, it is something that they'll need to understand. Board members are typically not pseudoanonymous (not sure how that would work when the Form 990 is filed) and face potential legal liability (though realistically minimal in this case). If they aren't, you should mention who is going to take on the fiduciary duty for the organization. II | (t - c) 08:05, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

WEF metrics

What are the WEF metrics going to be? I want the WEF to make a clean break away from the WMF quantity metric. What does the board think? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 10:35, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

I agree that we need to figure out a way to use quality metrics (not just quantity). The challenge, of course, is that evaluating quality is very labor intensive. However, professors are, presumably, evaluating their students' contributions for quality so there is a possibility we can piggyback on their evaluation. This could raise some legal issues about grade confidentiality, but it's something that we can explore. So, in short, I think the discussion about metrics is a big one that will have to involve Wikipedians, educators, ambassadors, and students. I think the WEF can act as a conduit for these groups to talk. Pjthepiano (talk) 13:00, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
One problem I can see is that Wikipedia metrics for quality may not be aligned with professors' grading metrics, e.g., Original research is anathema on Wikipedia but might be essential in a (poorly-designed!) assignment. Choess (talk) 01:04, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
That's an excellent point, Choess. I hope that involving both Wikipedians and professors in the discussion about metrics will help address those differences. Pjthepiano (talk) 13:19, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
Pjthepiano, do you think quantity of text added should be a metric at all? I think it's a horrible horrible idea. Please don't explore that other idea. Even the chair of the board has students posting inappropriate essays. I'm sick and tired of this kind of stuff, to be honest. I'm ready for it to stop. Completely. Can you please abandon, entirely, the horrible horrible metric of text added? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 09:02, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
As I said above, I think that we need to get Wikipedians, educators, ambassadors and students to have a conversation about appropriate metrics so I don't want to presume to know what the outcome of that conversation will be. Personally, I don't think quantity is as unhelpful a metric as you think it is. If we are able differentiate between which contributions are good and which are bad (or place them on a Likert scale), then I think it would be helpful to know how much of each kind the EP has produced. But I agree with you that just looking at quantity alone is not a very good measure of the success of the program. Pjthepiano (talk) 13:18, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
This seems to be a lively place. Wrangling all of those people in one place sounds a bit like herding cats. Should we wait around for a cat herding exercise or should we take sensible steps based upon the conversation here? I don't see how your proposed mechanism for moving forward is actionable, in other words. Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:28, 27 November 2013 (UTC)


This page has become rather busy... to put it mildly. As such, I have been bold and created an incidents noticeboard, along the lines of WP:ANI.

The idea is that this is a place to bring specific incidents regarding the Education Program that require swift attention, so that they are not lost in the general discussion here.

This might include specific classes, specific pages, that seem to be causing issues in one way or another, or specific interactions on which people (established editors, students, professors, whoever) want feedback within a reasonably short timescale.

I should note that I am no expert with templates, so perhaps someone who is could help construct one for the top of the page. I've suggested some fairly brief and clear wording. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 17:34, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

  • I believe this, unfortunately, is a good idea. Thank you for taking the initiative to create it. Kevin Gorman (talk) 17:42, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Thanks, User:Jbmurray! This is great! Jami (Wiki Ed) (talk) 19:15, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Incidents relating to classes should be separated from policy discussion about the education program. I think that this board should host discussions about policy, screen professors and ambassadors for initiation into the program, and host discussions about the WEF's relationship with the Wikipedia community. Discussion about particularly classes should go elsewhere. Thanks Jbmurray for having the insight to recognize the need of this. Blue Rasberry (talk) 19:26, 26 November 2013 (UTC)
I just came over here because of a post I saw at User talk:Mike Christie (where I described the inappropriate editing at cholera) and saw this. How perfectly backwards and typical of what is going on in here. An incidents board was created (here), and the policy problems and job seeking became such a mess that they overtook the incident part of the board. Now we need a new incident board because the policy problems are a huge incident in and of themselves. Again, Wikipedia being taken over by student issues unrelated to Wikipedia. Oh, well, this is very good news for me. I can now go over to another board when I have an incident and not have to read this stuff anymore. Of course, that assumes there will be anyone on the incident board to deal with incidents ... now, where is the cholera discussion? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:54, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
by the way, before I unwatch again, why has no one nominated User:Choess for the board? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:55, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
No time. I'm very much flattered, but I wouldn't be able to discharge the responsibilities adequately. Thank you, though. Choess (talk) 15:08, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

"Exciting changes are coming ... There will be very little change on the programmatic level"

If you email Jami's old WMF email address, one sees this text in a reply. In the text of Exciting changes are coming ... There will be very little change on the programmatic level, what is the WEF's definition of programmatic level? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 09:48, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

To me this refers to the day-to-day activities -- professors who ask for help will still get it; Jami will still provide support and answer questions; the ambassador scheme is not being dismantled; course pages will continue to exist. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 14:13, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
When are professors encouraged to run an assignment and when are they discouraged to run an assignment? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:09, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
This was already answered above -- search for "I can't even count the number of professors I have discouraged from teaching with Wikipedia" and you'll find the discussion. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:19, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
I do see We absolutely do not encourage classes that are pretty clearly going to be detrimental to Wikipedia. Sometimes a class still has things go wrong, and sometimes those professors who are discouraged decide to do it anyway. That is why we still try to offer them support in whatever way possible to try and minimize the impact. Can the WEF start keeping track of exactly how many professors are consulted and if they are categorized as being discouraged and probably not editing, discouraged and probably editing, and encouraged and editing? I don't think pretty clearly going to be detrimental is enough of a quality-control mechanism. Thoughts? Biosthmors (talk) pls notify me (i.e. {{U}}) while signing a reply, thx 15:24, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

Cholera question on EN/I

I've posted a note at the new EN/I page about a student contribution to the cholera article, and would like to get opinions there. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:05, 27 November 2013 (UTC)